Monday, June 24, 2013

Where is the awe...?

Week 26:

Acts 2:43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.

Recently an Elder in our Church taught our Bible class. The area of study was Acts 2 and the beginning of the Church. He spent some time comparing and contrasting the early Church and the Church today. He pointed out how on fire the early Church was. I was struck by the above passage and wondered to myself, “Where is the awe?”  

Admittedly, I catch myself wandering through my Christian life going through the motions. I do not feel much awe around the Church or my walk with God at times. Some of those times can be lengthy. So, where is the awe? Where did the “wow” factor go that I had when I was first in Jesus?  

There are some fundamental things I must return to in order to strike up some awe. Mind you, there is no magical formula when it comes to the Kingdom of God. However, I have noticed that when I am taking part in just some of what I will outline ahead, I notice more awe in my life.  

In verse 42 it is pointed out that the early Church devoted themselves to four things. Notice the key word here is ‘devoted’. Devotion takes quite a commitment. The four things were: The apostles teaching, the fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer.  

Obviously we do not have the actual apostles here now. However, what we do have is in written form, what was taught by the apostles through the Word of God…the Bible. I could almost stop here. I cannot count how many times I have just opened up the Word of God and randomly chosen a passage (much like I do for my devotional thoughts) and have sat in awe of how that passage applies to my current circumstance. The Word is powerful. Awe, wonder, and amazement follow my reading of God’s Word.

The second piece to reviving the ‘awe’ is the devotion to the fellowship. In both corporate times and small group times, I have seen God show up in so many ways. I am amazed by how He works in the lives of others and how it relates to how He is working in me. Sometimes, the fellowship convicts and challenges me to grow. Sometimes, the fellowship uplifts and comforts me. Sometimes, the fellowship allows me to be there for someone else. I am afraid we are losing touch with fellowship to some degree. Our busy, techno infested culture has truly isolated us at times and has given us a pseudo connection with people. As hard as it may be to drag myself into fellowship with others at times, I find that I do not regret the effort to meet with others.  

The third piece to awe is the breaking of bread. Many would say this is divided into two parts: The Lord’s supper and sharing a meal together. As important as sharing a meal together is…I believe the sharing of the Lord’s supper together has more of an impact on our awe. In church, we have become experts in efficiently serving the Lord’s supper. We are almost proud that we have taken care of it in a matter of a few minutes. There is some awe that shows up when I really concentrate on the breaking of bread and what that Passover meal means to me as far as Jesus’ death is concerned. My focus on communion creates new awe in me when I make that effort.

Finally, devotion to prayer is essential. I probably wrestle with this one the most. I mostly pray to God like a customer. I am looking for something for me. However, before I beat myself up too much, I have noticed that when I am in a godly mindset, at times I realize that I am practicing what Paul calls praying “continuously. The key for me is to incorporate into my life more of a daily awareness of prayer. When I have random thoughts about a person or a situation, I must stop and meditate for a moment and let God in on the thought. I have found that when I do this, a sense of awe comes over me.

The big challenge is to put all of these together. Again, I am reminded that there is no formula. What has to happen for me is to incorporate this as a way of life for me. I have seen when I take part in some of the above four pieces, the awesomeness of God shows up. Now is the time to put them all together.


1. List some ways how God has awed you?
2. What were you doing that brought on that awe?
3. What are the strongest of the four pieces for you and how?
4. What are the weakest of the four pieces for you and how?
5. What has to happen to you in order for you to step into these areas where you are weakest?
6. Spend this week looking deeply into these four devoted areas and how to incorporate them into your life.

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Leadership begins...

Week 25:

Romans 13:1-5 1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God.  2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.  3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.  Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority?  Then do what is right and he will commend you.  4For he is God’s servant to do you good.  But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing.  He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.  5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

I firmly believe that to be in a place of authority, we must first be able to submit to authority. Every human being on this earth is under some sort of authority. Jesus was even under authority; both earthly and (obviously) heavenly. I believe this view on authority is often overlooked when it comes to leadership.  

Two Biblical examples stand out for me: The story of David and Saul (I Samuel 18-31) and the story of the centurion’s faith (Luke 7:1-10). The centurion understood authority. He knew Jesus was a man of authority to the point that he did not even feel worthy of Jesus’ presence. The centurion explains his view of authority. He described that he leads men himself and so he knows what it means to be in authority and under authority. Jesus commends him for this. The other example, of David, is the one that I will refer to as I finish this article.

As I was growing up, people pointed out to me that I had leadership skills. At that time, I thought that a leadership “position” was a far off destination. Therefore, I began to exert my ‘leadership authority’ onto others. Of course, I failed. While doing this, I was also fairly rebellious toward authority in my life. When I started growing older and began earning positions of authority by merit, I began to realize that in order to be an effective leader; I had to be able to submit to authority.  

David understood this early on. As Saul is chasing him all across Israel, David has the opportunity and right to kill Saul. David’s stance was that of submission. In each case, David refused to take the life of the Lord’s anointed. David understood that Saul was placed in authority by God. God blessed David because of this.

I may not agree wholly with my authority figures (government, church leaders, ministry leaders, bosses, etc.) however, I do understand that they are placed in their authority positions. Now, there are those who would think that my stand here is nothing more than me being a “suck up”. I believe there is a difference between submission and “sucking up”.  

By submitting, I understand my place and my role within God’s hierarchy. My submission gives me freedom to properly exert my authority. Through my submission I have created trust in me by the one leading me. My submission gives me proper power and authority. And like verse 5 notes, my submission gives me a clean conscience. My submission serves my followers, my leader, and myself in a healthy way. David kept his conscience clean by pointing out to Saul that he had opportunity to take authority by force, yet he submitted to Saul’s authority.  

On the other hand, if I am a “suck up”, then I serve only me and my agenda. This “sucking up” might get me up the ladder (so to speak) but really offers no true power or authority. I cease to be authentic and become only a poser. Eventually, my leadership will come to a crashing halt. My manipulation will be revealed.   

Ultimately, when I am rebelling against my authority figures, I am rebelling against God. I have noticed in my life that when I am in rebellion, my beef really is with God. God is showing me something, teaching me something, and I don’t like it. Once I submit, life seems to move smoother.  

As I examine my life and where I need to submit, I ask you to do the same. Look for where you are lacking in submission to authority in your life and where it ties to God. Where do you need to submit? Conversely, where have you submitted in a healthy way and seen success? Notice how God has blessed you? 


1. What are your thoughts on this statement, “To be in a place of authority, we must first be able to submit to authority”?
2. Explain the role of authority in your life?
3. Where have you rebelled and what have been the results?
4. Where have you submitted and what have been the results?
5. Where have you “sucked up” and what have been the results?
6. This week, pay attention where you have struggled with authority. Ask God to show you what is behind that struggle. Pay attention to what God shows you next.

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Upholding law...

 Week 24:

This week, read through this passage each day. Look for how this applies to you in the moment. Listen for what God is saying to you. Work through the questions that follow.

Psalm 119:137-144

137 Righteous are you, O Lord, and your laws are right.

138 The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy.

139 My zeal wears me out, for my enemies ignore your words.

140 Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them.

141 Though I am lowly and despised, I do not forget your precepts.

142 Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true.

143 Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands are my delight,

144 Your statutes are forever right; give me understanding that I may live.

1. Which verse stood out most for you today? Why?
2. What is the relationship between God’s laws and the writer’s comfort?
3. How are God’s laws trustworthy for you?
4. How do God’s laws keep you positive when you are “lowly and despised”?
5. Through “trouble and distress”, what words of God keep you going?
6. What do you think the Psalmist means by, “…give me understanding that I might live”?
7. Apply this passage to your life each day this week.

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Through Jesus...

Week 23:

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Living a Christian life takes commitment. The Christian life takes discipline, faith, openness, a loving heart, and submission. All of these characteristics are important to a Christian walk. However, the most important part of the Christian walk is the belief in Jesus. Jesus is the only way to the Father and the key to a Christian walk.

This concept should seem obvious. And, to most, it is obvious. However, to many followers, when the name Jesus is used, a level of discomfort creeps in. Outside of the Christian walk, following Jesus is a misunderstood and uncomfortable notion. Following Jesus as the way to the Father narrows the road.

Out in the world, talking about God does not have the same divisive energy as talking about Jesus does. Talking about God in general allows for a supreme being but also allows a person to continue to keep control over his/her life. For them, following God can be living life as a “good person” and doing more good than bad. When you follow Jesus, there is a stronger commitment required. To follow Jesus requires believers to follow the teachings of Jesus and His Apostles. There are many out in the world that have a desire to believe there is a God, but are not willing to commit to following all aspects of Jesus’ teachings.  

When a Christian tells people that there is only one way to God, it goes against their selfish nature. For them, to follow Jesus is to give up some freedom. Those who are uncomfortable with following Jesus as the only way to God do not want to be held back by what they think is a narrow view. Ultimately, they do not want to be told that their eternal life is in danger because they do not believe in Jesus but believe there is a God.

Unfortunately, even among believers, there can be a level of discomfort with talking about Jesus. I believe that the world has infiltrated our churches to the point that at times our churches are teaching a more general following of God and not making Jesus the center of the Gospel.  

Jesus talks several times throughout the Gospels about knowing the Father is related to knowing Him. If we are to live the Christian life to the fullest, we must put Jesus in the center. I love to want to see the compassionate, kind, loving Jesus in the Gospel. But, what I have to remember is that Jesus also challenged people, especially around following Him.  

It may seem narrow, but there is only one way to the Father. Jesus said so here…and mentioned it many times, in many ways during his short lifetime. For me to continue to walk with God, I must follow Jesus and His teachings. I am reminded of the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount. The wise man hears and puts Jesus' words into practice. The foolish man hears Jesus' words but does not put them into practice. As uncomfortable it may be at times, I must follow Jesus.


1. Where have you seen that Jesus has become a polarizing figure?
2. What are some of the excuses (or perceived excuses) for just following God and not Jesus specifically?
3. When in your life has talking about Jesus made you uncomfortable?
4. Where in your life do you need to apply Jesus’ teachings more fully?
5. Spend a little time each day this week in silence paying attention to what Jesus may be telling you.

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