Archives For Discipleship

By Dee Brestin

Idol Lies by Dee Brestin

At the root of every destructive behavior is a deception. We may think that our identity is in Christ, but in reality it may be in the success of our marriage, mothering, or ministry. We may think that God is our refuge, but in reality, we may find refuge in friendship, food, or Facebook. Seeing the lie is half the battle in being set free. These are deceptions that are common among Christian women, though they certainly can snare men as well.

My Friends Can Be My Security

Women are the relational gender and, generally speaking, their friendships are more intimate, more enduring, and more satisfying than the friendships of men.

But the dark side is that women can begin to expect their friends to be what only God can be. When Christy’s best friend, Brooke, began to be less available because of a new boyfriend, Christy felt avoided as if she had the flu. A wise friend gave her the name of a good Christian counselor, and Christy finally decided to go. She remembers the opening conversation verbatim:

“Christy, you became a…

Continue Reading

Not Giving UpStatistically, this is the time of year when most people abandon the goals they set just a few weeks ago, giving into the idea that change is either hopeless or just too hard. We often give different names to the reasons for our failures:

Time – usually not enough of it.
Tough – the task is just too hard.
Terrible – to describe how you feel on the new diet, wake/sleep pattern, budget, etc.

The answer for most of these problems is simple though: maintaining consistency. Simple concept, yes, but difficult practice. The behaviors we repeat often define the reality of our lives. Aristotle may have said it best when he said:

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

– Aristotle

You have probably heard that a habit can be created or broken in a matter of just 21 days. But more recent research has shown that this isn’t really accurate. The study reveals that the actual number is 66 days with variation of between 18 and 254 days depending on the specific habit being developed. Yes, some habits are harder to form,…

Continue Reading

Forgiveness is everything. Seriously, everything, especially when you realize how much you and I need it.

I’ve lived about 22,000 days. Let’s say I’ve sinned an average of four to five times a day or about once every three or so hours while awake. That would mean I’ve blown it about 100,000 times in my life so far.

Of course, you’re thinking, “No way, not Kurt; he’s much holier than that!” Or, you might truly know me and think that number is far too low!

The fact of the matter is, the Bible defines sin as missing the mark. Anytime I miss the mark of perfection, that qualifies as a sin in God’s eyes.

I think something that God would never think. Sin.

I look at something that God would never look at. Sin.

I say something God would never say. Sin.

I don’t do or say something God would do or say. Sin.

I look at a person in a way God would never view a person. Sin.

I treat my wife, children, grandchildren, family or friends in an uncaring or thoughtless way. Sin.

I pretend to be something I’m not. Sin.

I react in fear rather than respond in faith. Sin.

I act…

Continue Reading

Train Station Schedule Board

“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30 NIV).

Timing was important to Jesus; everything in its time at just the right time. On his mission to bring you and me from death to life (Romans 6:13), he never rushed or struggled to play catch up.

He clearly worked from a different clock than everyone else. Instead of Eastern Standard Time, Jesus seemed to be on Eternal Standard Time. He never arrived late and he never arrived early; he simply arrived according to his purpose.

Jesus was born at exactly the right time to be in Bethlehem with his parents, right as the stars aligned to announce the birth of Israel’s long-awaited king. When he was older, he stayed to study Scripture in the temple, even though his parents had left for home.

When others thought he was late, Jesus arrived just in time to raise Lazarus from the dead. When his brothers wanted him to go with them to the Festival of Shelters, Jesus told them, “Go on to the festival. My time hasn’t yet come,…

Continue Reading

Tracks

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I ask God for a word that will keep me focused on what he has for me that year. On the first day of 2017, he gave me my word:

Alignment. 

I like that alignment is a noun. It’s tangible, yet not something you can reach out and touch. You can’t hold it in your hands, but you know it’s powerful — much like faith, which was my word in 2016.

Last year, I stretched out wide and long in my faith. I stepped out of my comfort zone and trusted God in big ways and watched him move. This week, I curled up warm and cozy, on my friend Faith’s couch with a big cup of coffee that lasted more than four hours. I love that she is like me. We don’t do surface chat; a cup of coffee feels more like a long (and much-needed) spiritual therapy session.

As we hunkered in, with the rain washing the outdoors fresh for the new year, our conversation washed our souls new. We settled on variations of one topic for most of the time: ambition.

Both of us are late in…

Continue Reading

Facts

For those who may not be familiar with my story, I became a Christ-follower in high school. I’m grateful for several men who influenced the early steps in my spiritual journey, including guys like Charlie, Lee, and Chris. Charlie, in particular, met with me just about every Saturday over several months. I would either go to his home or his office, and he helped me begin to understand who Jesus was and what he did for me.

Through that process, I was introduced to the Bible. This was a big deal for me. As I was growing up, the church I attended did not encourage people to engage with God’s Word. I heard messages taught from the Bible growing up, but there was no encouragement to read, study, or attempt to apply the Bible to my life. That’s why when Charlie introduced me to the story of Jesus in the New Testament, I was captivated. God’s Word really came alive for me.

Though we were several years away from getting married, Emily also encouraged me in those first steps of faith. In fact, she gave me my first leather-bound Bible as my high…

Continue Reading

From the beginning, Pastor Rick’s vision for Saddleback Church was to attract unbelievers, lead them to Christ, grow them into mature believers through the work of the Holy Spirit, and send them out on mission, all for God’s global glory. His goal was always to be a disciple-making and disciple-sending church. Out of this vision, came the Purpose Driven paradigm as the intentional process to accomplish this goal.

He first asked the question, “What is spiritual maturity?” and then, “How might one measure it?” He knew it was a myth that spiritual maturity is measured only on what you know. Pastor Rick says, “Many churches evaluate spiritual maturity solely on the basis of how well you can identify Bible characters, interpret Bible passages, quote Bible verses, and explain biblical theology. The ability to debate doctrine is considered by some as the ultimate proof of spirituality.” Some people who are not even believers have an incredible knowledge of the Bible without any spiritual growth in their lives. Spiritual maturity is not just cognitive.

So he set about to discover the characteristics of spiritual maturity and how leadership could measure it. He came to the conclusion…

Continue Reading

Steps

We’re all familiar with making New Year’s resolutions, and we all have every intention of following through with them, saying, “This is the year I’m going to lose the weight, quit drinking, fix my marriage, etc.” However, for the majority of Americans, these resolutions often get tossed to the curb along with the holiday garbage, and within weeks, people fall back into their old habits.

According to The University of Scranton, a mere 8 percent of people will successfully achieve their New Year’s goals. For this reason, I propose a change — rather than making a mere resolution this year, focus on making true life transformations. That means not simply addressing the symptoms of problems but taking a very hard look and addressing the heart of those issues. Transformation means a thorough and dramatic change — a real life change.

Here are five key steps below to help get you started in that process.

Let go of the resolutions you made in 2016 that didn’t work.

There is no use beating yourself up for past failed resolutions. Often, those resolutions stem from unrealistic fantasies and expectations, and wind up doing us more harm then good when we realize we have…

Continue Reading

One Christmas GiftWhew, what a year! We couldn’t wait to get past the election and all of its stress and strife.  Maybe the holidays will be better, we thought. Maybe people will be nicer, we hoped. Then came Thanksgiving with the in-laws. Surely another helping of pumpkin pie will cure all that ails us.

Now as Black Friday turns into another Monday and the calendar and the world turn the page to December complete with headlines blaring about school violence, election recounts, and dictator passings, one has to wonder, should we bother to pull out the tinsel and garland or just fast-forward to the New Year?

Do we really need another Christmas? We sing the same songs, put up the same tree, and shop for the same socks and sweaters every year. Is the message of peace on earth, good will toward men still relevant? Still possible?

Consider the story behind Christmas. Hollywood would recast Christmas. Joseph’s collar is way too blue. Mary is green from inexperience. The couple’s star power doesn’t match the bill. Too obscure. Too simple. The story warrants some headliners. A square-jawed Joseph. Someone of the Clooney vintage. And Mary…

Continue Reading

“But the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people’” (Luke 2:10 NLT).

Knowing God is for you will change your whole perspective on life. You’ll stop thinking of God as someone looking down from Heaven, ready to yell “Gotcha!” any time you mess up.

God is for your success in life; he created you for a purpose, and he wants you to succeed. It is God, your Creator, who will measure your success in life, and no one else.

This is extremely good news!

It means you don’t need to be afraid of God because God is for you. Yet some people are so afraid of God they get nervous just talking about him. Do you know why? They feel guilty, and then they start thinking, “If I get close to God, he’s going to lecture me. He’s going to remind me of all the things I’ve done wrong, and then I’ll feel even worse!”

Nothing could be further from the truth of God. Jesus said, “I did not come into the world to condemn it, but to save it.” In effect,…

Continue Reading

Baptism is the outward sign of an inward change in a person who has placed their trust in Jesus. We don’t save people — Jesus does that. We just have the privilege of helping them make their big outward profession of faith in the form of baptism.

While I don’t believe we should manipulate people or manufacture results for the sake of numbers, I do believe it’s significant that the Bible records how many people trusted in Jesus and were baptized on the day of Pentecost. The Bible says in Acts 2:41, “Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day — about 3,000 in all” (NLT).

We ought to do all that we can to share the Gospel well, to make it very clear what the new believer’s next steps are, and celebrate the results of more people on their way to Heaven. At Saddleback, we’ve baptized over 47,000 people in the last 36 years, and I’d…

Continue Reading

 

If you want to see lasting change in your life, you need to commit to a steady diet of God’s Word, the Bible. We all want to be spiritually and relationally healthy, but we fail to realize the power of this one habit – filling our minds daily with truth from our Creator. James 1:25 says, “The truly happy people are those who carefully study God’s perfect law that makes people free, and they continue to study it. They do not forget what they heard, but they obey what God’s teaching says.” 

We tend to believe a lot of lies – about God, about ourselves, about our world – and the result of believing those lies and repeating negative, untruthful thoughts is that we wind up depressed. We wind up dependent on things other than God. The way to change that mental pattern is to fill your mind with the Word of God.

For emotional and spiritual stability and for mental health, I need to soak up all of the truth I possibly can from God’s Word so that my focus will be on the right things. And the Bible emphasizes at least…

Continue Reading