Friday, 19 April 2013

What is a Christian (Husband or Wife)?

A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:34-5

Andy Stanley
In a recent newsletter Andy Stanley posed the question “What is a Christian?”  He went on to repeat some of the most popular misconceptions, i.e. someone who goes to church every Sunday; someone who believes in Jesus and His resurrection; someone born into a Christian family; people who are judgmental, homophobic moralists; etc.

Andy goes on to say that none of these views describes a Christian as defined in the Bible.  The word Christian only appears three times in Scripture.  First-century Christians referred to themselves as disciples, meaning a student, apprentice, adherent, or follower.

Andy then says, “When Christians live like disciples, outsiders look at them with wonder: Look at the way they love…look how they honor women, children, the elderly and the sick…or look how generous they are.”

While I would say “amen” to everything Andy has said, I want to ask a more personal question.  Would your husband/wife say you were a disciple of Christ?  The reason I ask this question is that some of us are very good at projecting a particular “persona” to the outside world while inflicting incredible pain on our spouse.  A song that first hit the pop charts in the 1950’s was entitled “You Always Hurt the One You Love.”  Why is it that we are more short-tempered and less patient with the one’s we love?  Why are we more forgiving of complete strangers than the one who shares our home?  Why do we care more about what outsiders think about our character than what our own family thinks?

So how do you define a Christian husband or wife?  Ephesians 5:21-33 and 1Peter 3:1-7 would be good places to start

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Is He in Your Boat?

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.  Mark 4:35-39

Given the fact that the disciples didn’t have Doppler Weather I can’t exactly fault them for going out to sea with a pending storm on the horizon.  Every time I begin to think, “What’s with those disciples?  Don’t they grasp who they are talking to?.” I come to the realization that I am no different.

I presume that certain things ought to happen in a particular way.  When they don’t, I have a minor implosion.  Could God have changed the outcome of my situation? – Certainly.  But He chose a different outcome to teach me a lesson.  Could the disciples have had a smooth trip? – Of course. Instead God taught them a valuable lesson.

Now let’s get personal.  We tend to get upset when things don’t go according to our plans and expectations just as the disciples did.  We have desires that aren’t fulfilled, we have dreams that aren’t realized, the person we married lets us down and life seems to offer many unanticipated struggles.  Could God change your circumstances?  Absolutely!  But life is God’s learning laboratory.  He wants us to become more spiritually mature, to manifest the fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:16-26)

As John Ortberg so cleverly phrased it “peace doesn’t come from finding a lake with no storms.  It comes from having Jesus in the boat.”  So the question we must ask ourselves when things don’t seem to be working out according to our plan is “is Jesus in my boat?” Am Iable to see that His plan is better than my plan, that He has a purpose that is ultimately for my good?

Monday, 15 April 2013

A Flourishing Mind Feeds of Life Giving Thoughts

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Ephesians 6:10-17

John Ortberg
 In his book The Me I Want to Be, John Ortberg states all too well what we know about what influences our thoughts.  He writes “In this world we are being bombarded by a steady stream of messages from the media, our husbands/wives, books, iPads., smart phones, movies, TV, friends and family, etc. — and from our own thoughts. Our mind will be shaped by whatever we feed it while the Evil One tries to (feed) our mind when we’re not looking. He will put depression in our thoughts at breakfast, sprinkle temptation in our mind at noon, and slip us a worry sandwich when it’s time for bed.

Many of us take too lightly the existence of a real enemy, i.e. Satan.  The fact that Jesus believed in him is evidence enough for me.  The Evil One would like nothing better than for us to deny or ignore his existence.  Our minds are the battle field on which this war is fought.  Remember “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1John 4:4

So how can we win this battle?  Be in the Word regularly.  Memorize Scripture and meditate on God’s word.  As Ortberg so cleverly states it, “if you are able to worry, you are able to meditate.

Pilots have a check list to go through before taking off as do those who pack their own parachutes, in each case their advance preparation is critical.   So too we should use Ephesians 6:10-17 before we “take off” or “jump out” into our day to prepare ourselves for what the day has in store.