I got memed!

push

Or at least I think I got memed. Something I said got put on a picture and posted on the world wide web! I think that is a meme. I know I should not care. I know. I know. I know pastors are to have no ego whatsoever. I know I should not care about my quotes being status updates and tweeted and retweeted. I know.

But, I got memed! Ego aside, meaning when it is for pure purposes and not just about feeling better about myself as a man and preacher, I love seeing something I said shared. It means it hit home and helped someone. It means that the truth sunk in at such a level they thought it worth sharing with others.

Here is the meme. A day pushing with Jesus is better than any day coasting without him. This meme-worthy quote was a last minute thought describing a quote that illustrated a point I was making. No one memed the point. It did not make any status updates or tweets. It went unrepeated. And there is the point.

Faith is both personal and practical.
That was the point.

Tommy Nelson says this about romance, “Early on it was instinct to be romantic. Later it must become discipline.” Even romance is personal and practical. It has all types of feelings and emotions, but some times it is a discipline. You know when life piles up and kids push the pile. Romance is something you do practically. You plan it. You put reminders in your phone calendar to remind yourself that you went on your first date with your wife 17 years ago. Why? Because at this point I need the discipline to remember, but that does not make it not worth celebrating. I am so glad that was my last first date…even if I need an alert from my phone to remember. It is not what you thought would be meme-worthy but who cares…it was.

 Faith, love, grace, hope…these wonderful realities of life are personal and practical. They are from our deepest emotions and are at the same time our most practical decisions.

You love Jesus so you obey Jesus. Why? Jesus said so. “If you love me you will obey my commands.” It is not always uber-personal. Sometimes it is practical. You do the right thing because it is the right thing. But, at the same time it is personal. You do the right thing because you love God…who you love because he first loved you.

One such command comes in Philippians 4 when we are told to “Rejoice in the Lord always! Rejoice!” It is a command. Be Joyful! Right now. Do it! Sounds odd, but joy is a choice. It is personal and practical we choose it but we also feel it. We choose to feel it even when we do not feel like choosing it.

I want to give you some practical points to push forward toward the life God wants you to have. These practices are found in Philippians 4:4-9. These are personal and practical. So go do them. Go feel them. Do them when you feel them and when you don’t.

  1. Choose joy in Jesus.
    Joy in Jesus not from Jesus. When you want joy from someone and not in that someone you are dysfunctional. Jesus, himself, is the source of joy. Love him.
    2. Extend Grace to others.
    You cannot extend what you have not received. I have heard that food is for energy, not entertainment, but I prefer things that cause a party in my mouth. Entertainment food, however, never inspires feelings of a coming marathon but of an arriving coma. They do not provide the needed energy. Take in God’s grace and then you can give it.
    3. Pray about everything.
    Pray for general wisdom in life. Read a Proverb a day. Pray about things particularly and practically, that is how you pray personally. It might not sound romantic, but it is. I went on my first date with Wendy 17 years ago this past week. On that date I did not ask her if I had any clean underwear. I might ask her that tomorrow if I don’t see any. (Truth be told, I always have plenty because she rocks.) But I would ask her that without hesitation now. Why? Our relationship is way more personal than that, therefore, it is also particular and practical. Get real with God today in your prayers. If you need some underwear, ask.
    Little side note – this verse also says to be “anxious for nothing.” I know that verse makes some of you very anxious, but choose prayer as how you care instead of fear. Anxiety is nothing more than being afraid about what you cannot control. Prayer is better care than fear.
    4. Give thanks in everything.
    Give thanks in everything not for everything. You can be thankful in every season because you know what…you are here and so is God. Be thankful. Being thankful in a tough situation is not the same as being thankful for the situation. Thankfulness is never a fake shiny plastic people smile.
    5. Train your thinking.
    The renewing of the mind is a process. Train your thoughts. We not only have to tune into the right things we need to tune out the wrong things. Listen to truth and learn to reject the jargon this world is selling. Tuning into the right station includes turning the dial away from the wrong one.
    6. Do the good you know to do.
    Quit focusing on what you do not know and focus on what you do know. You will be amazed how much you will learn by doing what you already know. You know that relationship is sinful. Change it or end it…right now. You will be amazed what is on the other side of obedience. If we would simply do the good we know we would know more good to do, so get started.

Progress is a process we pursue from our position in Christ.

We must always remember salvation is not the destination push toward, but the foundation you push upon.  Do not confuse God’s grace for growth with God’s grace in salvation

Progress is, however, a process. When you give up on the process you give up on the progress. If you are dieting and want to quit, start weighing every day. You will give up on the progress because you are disrespecting the process.

If I want to be a better husband tomorrow than I was today, you know how I do that? I do the good I know to do today and I will be ready for more good tomorrow. It is how it works. It is personal and practical.

Life is not always romantic, but sometimes that is exactly what makes it romantic.

P.S. I got memed!

Can I really change?

change

In my last blog, I shared a quote from Brad Paisley that stated that New Year’s Day “is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” Blank pages, however, glorious they are full of hope and opportunity, are not the beginning of the story.

What does God want this to be THE YEAR OF for you?
God usually does not have the same answer to such questions that we do.

Romans 6:1-14 is a great passage. It begins with “What shall we say then? Shall we keep on sinning so that grace may increase?” Now for the majority of us, this is a wild question. I want God’s grace more, so should I sin more? The answer is an emphatic no, but the question has more weight than you might think. Romans 5 ends with where “sin abounds, grace abounds more.” More sin means more grace. The truth missed when one sees grace as something our sin increase is that grace works. Grace changes us.

Paul continues on and writes that if we are united with Jesus in his death then we are united with him in his life. People love to talk about the life Jesus gives, but less about the death of self that comes before it.

Change (healing) will not happen until we die to self. We must desire the death of old as much as we desire the life of new. We know that the old self was “crucified” so that it might be “brought to nothing.” Yet later in the chapter we are reminded to not ”let sin reign in our mortal bodies.” So the old self dies yet we must still be vigilant about it.

The death of self is both instantaneous and continuous.
We typically believe people change incrementally OR drastically.
In reality people change BOTH incrementally and drastically. The old self dies yet it is still dying. We are saved, yet we still work out (not work for) our salvation. Never begrudge incremental change. Accept and allow the dramatic and drastic change God brings through grace, but realize that the drastic change is the beginning of the journey, not the end of it.

Paul ends this passage with “sin will have no dominion over you.” What a glorious truth. Be careful, however, not to misunderstand what is being said. You do not have dominion over sin, but if you are in Christ, sin also does not have dominion over you. So who or what does have dominion? Jesus does.

Jesus Christ, who was raised from the dead, “will never die again” because “death no longer has dominion over him.” “The death he died to sin he died, once for all, and the life he lives he lives to God.” Jesus has dominion over us. If Jesus has dominion over me (is Jesus the Lord of your life?) and Jesus has dominion over sin, then sin does not have dominion over me…Jesus does.

Healing (change) is not under our control. It is not a process we own. It is a process God owns. We, however, have the choice to participate actively in this work he does.

Death is necessary for new life.
Do you want to die?

I realize that is a strange question, but do you want the “old you” to die?

Here are 2 practical ways to experience the dying of the old you desire.
1. Identify your obvious offerings. (do not “offer your body to sin”)
Start with the obvious. Stop treating the symptom with spiritual Nyquil and get real.
2. Actively avoid your temptation triggers. (“Let not sin reign…”)
I need to eat better, badly. I better not go to an all- you-can-eat buffet because I am not going to the salad bar there.

Life is necessary for new death.
Do you want to live?

Here are 3 practical ways to experience the living of the new you desire.
1. Purposefully present yourself to righteousness. (present yourselves to God)
Choose to read the Word, pray, gather with believers in Bible study and worship.
2. Give yourself toward healthy drastic or dramatic change.
Go for it, in Christ. Be willing to experience quick change…just know it is not the end of the journey, but the beginning. Losing 10 pounds fast should motivate you to keep going through the slower pounds. Experiencing fresh romance in your marriage should motivate you to work through the issues that still exist. Go for it…now!
3. Be accountable with the incremental.
Get together with some other believers and be honest and real. Allow them the space in your life to hold accountable to the change you desire. You need people who love you when you fail, but call it sin and call it wrong…and love the sinner and the wrongdoer all the same.

If you desire 2015 to be the year of__________________________. First and Foremost, you must decide it is the YEAR OF the LORD, for him to do this or that.<a