Archives For Discipleship

Wineskins

“No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” (Mark 2:22 NIV)

Near my house is a gas station/convenience store that just underwent a makeover, changing their utilitarian look into a warm and inviting neighborhood haven, something like a coffee bar with gas pumps.

When I walked into the place, however, it appeared the employees missed the makeover memo. The kid behind the counter wore a new uniform that matched the new look, but he still wore the same sullen expression from before, perhaps a little bored and a bit put out that an actual customer had walked in to disturb him.

It made me think about how we try to put new wine into old wineskins. Jesus says we’re doomed to failure because “the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined” (Mark 2:22 NIV).

For you to become the person God wants you to be in 2012, you will have to abandon the old wineskins in your life so that God…

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How ironic that the season during which we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus provides us the perfect excuse to overindulge.

Like the megalopolis that now stretches from Washington to Boston or from Dallas to Fort Worth, this eating holiday dominates our calendar from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.

Walk through any modern large-box store, and study the edibles they’re offering during this season. It’s not just turkey, dressing, yams and eggnog any longer. It’s chocolates like you would not believe, in every kind of assortment and combination. It’s cookies, cakes and pies coming out your ears.

Books pour off the shelves telling homemakers of new recipes for the latest taste sensations for these holidays. Restaurants offer special smorgasbords for the holidays with prices approaching $100 per person.

What position should the disciple of the Lord Jesus take regarding this little crime-against-one’s-body we call gluttony?

Here are 10 thoughts on this subject that the people in our pews have never heard a sermon about.

1. Jesus was called a glutton (Luke 7:33-35). So, maybe we overeaters have good company. However, I expect that the charge was as bogus as most of the attacks on…

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New Years ResolutionsFor I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2 (NIV)

How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? You remember that list you made with two scoops of optimistic enthusiasm, sprinkled with unrealistic expectations, and topped with the cherry of knowing the list isn’t serious anyway.

One of my friends started making New Year’s resolutions like:

  • I won’t lose ten pounds this year.
  • I commit to watching the Super Bowl this year.
  • I will listen to my iPod at least four days a week.

But there is one guy who I suspect played for keeps when he made New Year’s resolutions. You know, the zealot who could never do anything halfway, the let’s-get-real-about-our-faith apostle, Saul-Paul.

My thought is Paul only had one resolution on his New Year’s list: “This year I resolve to know nothing but Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Paul’s message is radically simple: Salvation is in Christ alone. What does this mean?

  • It’s not Christ plus your good behavior.
  • It’s not Christ plus the years you taught a Bible study.
  • It’s not Christ plus your tithe.
  • It’s not Christ plus the…

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Out with the Old In with the NewAs pastors we live with the constant tension between the ideal (our dream for our church) and the real (how things actually are). Here are 10 key points I want you to remember this coming year —

1. Ministry is a marathon, not a 50-yard dash. It’s not how you start that matters. It’s how you finish the race. Sustainability counts more than speed. Don’t give up! Paul tells us to run the race for a “heavenly reward that never disappears” (1 Cor. 9:25). Live with your eyes on eternity.

2. Every church is large is God’s eyes. In God’s eyes, there is no such thing as a small or insignificant church. Jesus died for your church. That’s how much your ministry matters to God. It is the Body and Bride of Christ. The church is the only thing on earth that will last forever.

3. There is no correlation between the size and strength of a church. A church can big and flabby just as a church can be small and wimpy. Neither big nor small is better. Healthy is betterStrong is…

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Trust“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.” Luke 16:10a (NIV)

How you spend your money says a lot about how much you can be trusted spiritually. That’s what Jesus tells us in the Parable of the Dishonest Manager. Jesus says in Luke 16:10, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with very much.” This is the Principle of Trust, the third financial principle from this often misunderstood parable.

God will give us more and more trust based on how we use what God has put into our lives. Luke 16:11 says, “If you’re not honest in small jobs, who will put you in charge of the store?” That’s God’s basic way of looking at this. Your checkbook is a barometer of your heart.

One biographer of the Duke of Wellington diligently went through a lot of research, reports, and stories about the Duke’s life. But in the end he wrote, “I finally found an old ledger account of how the Duke spent his money. It was a far better clue to what he really thought was important than the reading of all of his letters or speeches.”…

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Christmas: God Loves Us

By Rick Warren

Immanuel: God With Us“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NLT)

God loves you so much that he sent Jesus on a mission of love with a message of love. Christmas is a yearly reminder that God loves you. The Bible says God is love. It doesn’t say God has love; it says God is love. Love is his nature; God is love.

God created the entire universe. He created this planet; he created the human race; then, he created you because he loves you.

It could be said the reason you’re alive is because God created you as an object of his love. God made you so he could love you and so that you could love him. God’s love for you is the reason your heart is beating right now; it’s the reason you’re breathing.

God’s good news is that he loves you on your good days as much as he loves you on your bad days. He loves you when you can feel his…

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Christmas: God Is For You

By Rick Warren

Immanuel: God With Us“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…

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Christmas ChaosWhere did we get the idea that Christmas needed to be perfect?

How many of you stress over the holidays because you want to be sure to give that perfect gift, set that perfect table, serve that perfect meal, say that perfect thing?

Christmas is a mess. That’s how Christmas started – messy.

Normalize It — Mess is the way it is. Normalize it by giving yourself permission to be less than perfect. Give the gift of this same permission to others. Take the pressure off. Take a deep breath and soak in all the blessings of Christ.

How do you make the most of your Christmas times?


Originally posted at http://servingstrong.com/christmess/.

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Jump for Joy

  1. Smiling
  2. Taking a shower
  3. Calling up a friend to talk
  4. Exercising
  5. Doing a random act of kindness
  6. Making the bed
  7. Reading the Bible
  8. Cleaning the kitchen
  9. Sweeping the floors
  10. Going for a walk
  11. Praying
  12. Taking a few deep breaths
  13. Going to see your doctor
  14. Meditating
  15. Organizing your closet

When your mental map says that nothing you do matters, you stop focusing on the things that you do have control over, things that actually do matter and that can make a difference. When you regain control of yourself, strong results can be obtained, even in crummy environments. (from Necessary Endings, by Dr. Henry Cloud)

What would you add to the list?

Source: Serving Strong

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Smalley'sStrained marriages begin to break under the pressures of trying to have the perfect Christmas. During a time that is supposed to be one of the happiest and most joyful, many couples feel overwhelmed and frustrated. Gift giving can become a financial strain. The added busyness at Christmas can cause spouses to feel neglected and frustrated. Shopping for gifts, decorating, cooking, and baking can all easily take priority over quality time with your special someone.

According to Dr. Gary Smalley, “The key to a close-knit marriage is maximizing the times together and minimizing the times apart. The more activities you can do as a couple, the better are the chances that you’ll develop a deep, lasting relationship.”Another approach that can help couples make it through these tough times while still honoring their spouse is to choose love in all circumstances. Every day a married man or woman must make a choice…choosing love or anger…and it isn’t as easy as it sounds. However, imagine the change in conversations you have with your spouse if you both make an intentional choice to respond in love.

“You can strengthen your marriage this busy Christmas season,…

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Purpose Driven LifeEditor’s note: You may freely adapt this article for use in your congregation.

If you are looking to grow deeper spiritually in the New Year, try one of the following next steps —

You were Planned for God’s Pleasure

Ask God to help you find purpose – You’ll never find purpose until you’ve made the most important decision imaginable – make God the CEO of your life.

Breath Prayers – God wants us to connect with Him on a moment-by-moment basis. When we pray once a week or even once a day, we fail to take advantage of everything God has for us! Breath prayers are a great way to keep in contact with our Heavenly Father throughout our day. Just repeat short heart-felt prayers, such as “You are my God,” “I love you Lord,” and “Thank You, Jesus.” (Consult Chapter 10 of The Purpose-Driven Life for more information.)

Commit it all to God – Your Heavenly Father wants every bit of your life, even the parts you don’t want to give – especially the parts you don’t want to give! Take a look at your life and find the areas you haven’t really…

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Kingdom InvestingJesus taught, ‘Use your worldly resources to benefit others and to make friends. In this way your generosity stores up a reward for you in heaven.’” (Luke 16:9b NLT)

He isn’t saying you can buy yourself into heaven. That’s impossible. God has already paid the price for us to spend eternity in heaven. Jesus’ death on the cross paid everything. We can’t earn or buy our ticket to heaven.

But Jesus is reminding us of two particular truths about money —

Money can’t last. Jesus calls our resources “worldly resources.” That’s because it will only last as long as the world lasts. God has put what we have in our lives in our hands for a very brief time.

Say I hold stock in two different companies. Imagine I could tell you with complete confidence that one of these companies will go bankrupt in six weeks and the other will see growing profits for as far into the future as we can imagine. Which one would you invest in? The answer is obvious.

That’s the same choice we have with our money. This world won’t last. God’s world, God’s plan, God’s people, and God’s salvation…

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