How To Startle Your Neighbors–Begin The Day With A Chant

I’ve decided to begin my day with a chant.

Hear me out.  I know this sounds crazy, but let me show you my reasoning.

There are certain things in life that you just have to repeat over and over again until they are firmly lodged in your mind.   Multiplication tables, phone numbers, and anniversaries immediately come to mind.

When there is something that you don’t want to forget, repetition is key.

Sometimes as our Christian walk progresses we can become comfortable to the point where we aren’t really living vibrant lives.  We are so caught up in the day-to-day tasks that we don’t really think too much about God.

Of course, he is always there and on some level we know that, but often he just doesn’t enter our consciousness.  We are simply too busy trying to survive.

How did he remember all that?

When I was in high school, I had a friend a couple of years older than me named Craig Story.  He and I shared the same birthday and attended church together.

I can remember one time when Craig got up in church one Wednesday night and spoke the following words from memory to the kids in the youth group:

I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed.
I have stepped over the line.
The decision has been made.
I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.
I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.
My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure.

I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity.
I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded.

I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear.  I cannot be bought, deluded, or delayed.

I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ.

I am a disciple of Jesus.

I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me.

And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me – my banner will be clear!

Of course, these words were not Craig’s.  Chances are you have seen them floating around the Internet somewhere.  There are several versions of who initially wrote them, but that isn’t the point.

For me, these words made a huge impact.  They reminded me who I was.  They instructed me how I should be living.  They separated the important from the trivial.  They gave me a vision of how I wanted to live my life and an aspiration for the type of legacy I wanted to leave.

Now, I find myself twenty years down the road.

I still remember these words, but I also find myself in the midst of surviving the day-to-day grind that comes with life.  I have done a fairly decent job of living according to the creed above, but of course I could do better.

Enter the chant.

A chant is a “repeated rhythmic phrase, typically one shouted or sung in unison by a crowd.” In this case, it will be a crowd of one, because it will just be me chanting.

So here is my plan going forward.

Each morning, probably at the end of my quiet time, I am going to read these words aloud.

I am going to chant them to myself.

Not because there is any power in the words, but because there is power in the One the words refer to.

For me, I believe it will help me to start my day off on the right track.  It will align my day with what was important to me all those years ago.

Hopefully, by repeating these words they will become lodged deeply within my heart and will help direct my steps on the right track.

How about you?

Is there anything you repeat to keep it at the forefront of your mind or any routines you use to start your day on the right track?

Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

From Sin To Salvation

Sin to SalvationPerhaps it is time to review the fundamentals of Christianity.

I’ve written about this before, but I think it bears repeating.

  • Just because you call yourself a Christian, doesn’t mean you are one
  • Just because you went to church as a kid or go to church now, doesn’t mean you have a relationship with Jesus now
  • Just because your favorite smiling, television preacher says something, doesn’t make it true

It seems like we have forgotten who we were before Christ and the seriousness of our sin.  There are a lot of people who claim to be Christians but have no idea what that means.  They continue in their sin and make no attempt at becoming more like Christ.  They have forgotten what Romans has to teach us about the matter.  We are all in need of salvation.

We are all sinners.

Romans 3:23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

It doesn’t matter about your pedigree or lack thereof.  You could be Mother Teresa or a murderer. You could be black or white.  If you fit in the category of “all,” this verse applies to you.

No matter how good you think you are, you too are affected by sin.

Isaiah 64:6 states: All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.  

No matter how good of a person I am, I still have sin living inside me.  It is in my nature.  Apart from God I can do nothing to change that.  I can do my very best to please God with my actions, but it will never be enough.  It is not that God is harsh, it is just that sin is that serious.

The wages of SIN is DEATH

Romans 6:23 states, for the wages of sin is death… 

Have you ever heard anyone make the statement, “I can’t believe a loving God would send someone to hell.”

That is probably one of the main objections that people have to what the Bible says. After all, most people are decent people.  They work hard, pay taxes, try to help people out, and are generally good folks.

It is hard for us to fathom, but our sin has less to do with our goodness and more to do with God’s holiness.

He is so holy that he cannot even bear to look at us in our sin.  It is an affront to his nature.

Unfortunately there is only one penalty for sin and that is death.  It is a death that takes two forms.  The first is the physical death of the body.  We are going downhill from the moment we arrive at our lives here.  The consequences of sin demand that our physical bodies don’t last forever.

The second, and more tragic death is our spiritual death.  Because we sinned we are separated from God.  This separation will last an eternity.  If you die without reconciling yourself to God, you will find yourself separated from God: this will literally be hell.

The free gift of God is eternal LIFE

But don’t lose hope, Romans 6:23 also states, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is the good news.

God loves us so much that he wants us to be with him.  He doesn’t send anyone to hell; he allows them the freedom to choose.

God made a way for our salvation by providing his own Son as a payment for my sins.

He gave his Son for your sins as well.

When you accept what Jesus did for you on the cross, your sins are washed away.  Now when God looks at you he doesn’t see those filthy rags that once covered you, he sees Jesus.

You are clothed with holiness and washed clean.

True Christianity bears fruit

This final part is what I believe separates so many people today from living a vibrant, life-changing walk with Jesus.

You see,  a true Christian will bear the fruit of the one that offered salvation.

This fruit manifests itself in our lives.

Galatians 5:22-23 explains the fruit of the Spirit to us:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

When we accept the salvation that God freely offers us through his son, Jesus Christ, he gives us the ability to manifest this fruit in our lives.

Without him in our lives, this fruit may come from time to time, but it is fundamentally against our nature.

If you haven’t been living fully in the grace that God provides with his offer of salvation, I urge you to turn to him now.

I promise it is one gift you will never regret opening.

 

 

A Good Morning

Good Morning

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.  Psalm 5:3

There is something wonderful about beginning your day in the presence of the Lord.  Like many things requiring discipline, you have to train yourself to be consistent about this, but once you do it will radically change your days.

I like this verse above because it full of promise and instruction and hope.  Here are a few things that I have taken from this verse. Hopefully they will help you as well.

  1. Start your day with God.  David is called a man after God’s own heart.  He experienced his share of ups and downs in his life. He sinned, he struggled, he was chased, he was a king, he was an adulterer and a murderer.  He fathered one of the wisest men to ever live.  But his one constant seems to be his relationship with the Lord.  Even when he sinned, he felt God drawing him back; whether through a prophet or in his prayers.  David began his day with God.  We would be wise to do the same.
  2. God will hear your voice.  This is an amazing promise! Have you ever wondered if anyone is listening to you?  I know I have.  We don’t have to wonder that when it comes to God.  He hears our voice.  David states this as a fact.  We don’t have to light a candle or perform a ritual or be in a certain place for God to hear us, we simply lift our voices to him and know that our words don’t fall on deaf ears.
  3. None of your problems are too small for God. David says that he lays his requests before God.  There are a couple of implications here.  First, David doesn’t qualify the type of requests he brings before God.  He doesn’t say, “I bring all the huge things before you, because I know how busy you are and you probably don’t care about the small stuff anyway.”  He knew, through firsthand experience, that God would listen and provide for all his needs whether they were big or small.  I am so thankful for this promise. Some of my prayers are huge and the issue I am dealing with seems to overwhelm me, but some of my prayers are insignificant and seem like they shouldn’t even matter.  Both kinds are welcome to God because he knows the small stuff matters to me.  Because prayer is an intimate language, we can confidently go before him and leave all of our requests at his feet.
  4. You can have confidence that God will answer your prayers. David says that he does two things: he lays his requests before God and he waits expectantly.  That expectantly is a very important adverb.  It means that we give our requests to God, with the confidence and knowledge that he will answer our prayers.  We shouldn’t pray to God as a last resort, when all our other options have been exhausted.  We should bring our requests to him as soon as they cross our mind, fully anticipating him to work in his pleasing and perfect will.  (Romans 8:28)

I know that for years I struggled with regularly having a consistent quiet time with God.  Life has a way of getting in the way.  But if you will make an effort to start your day with God, it will transform your day. Your transformed days will become transformed weeks and transformed weeks will become transformed years and transformed years will become a transformed life. (Romans 12:2)

What way of managing your quiet time works for you?

Please leave a comment below!

Are You Being Transformed?


“Does God want more from you than you are giving now?”

Isn’t it amazing how when the Word of God is being preached it has a way of cutting right to the point and right through you?

It is a good thing to ask yourself periodically because it can help keep you on track in your faith and your walk.  And for most of us the answer will always be yes.   

Romans 12:2 states, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

The two key words here are conformation and transformation.  Conforming means to give in, or to allow yourself to be shaped by the circumstances and situations around you.  Even the very word conform has a negative sound to it.  It conveys the feeling of giving in and not reaching your full potential.  This world continually puts pressure on us to conform to its powerful and seductive ways. 

Contrast that with transformation.  God calls us to be transformed into the image of His Son.  Each of us knows how far away we are from the perfect and holy Jesus.  But God isn’t content to leave us where we are.  Transformation involves taking something rough and raw and making it into a thing of beauty.  Think of a sparkling diamond cut with all its shimmering facets.  It is much different from the dirty rock extracted from the bottom of a mine. 

So does God want more from me than I am giving now?  Absolutely!  Everyday I am faced with enormous pressures to conform.  The world presses in on us and can be overwhelming.  Sometimes it is easier to just go along to get through the day.  But we have something happening inside us that the world cannot see unless we let it.  We have the very Spirit of God working within us.  When we embrace the transformation that is taking place, we have no choice but to shine Jesus’ light into a dark and dreary world.

It won’t always be easy.  The pressure to conform will not diminish; in fact it will be even more tangible as we see the changes Christ is making in us.  But the end result will be a determination and a drive to give God everything we’ve got in this life.   We will embrace the things that God desires for our lives.  We will shine forth with a light that illuminates the dark corners of this world and sets an example; it is an example of transformation for all to see.

 

Does Your Sin Cause You Shame?

Have you ever been ashamed of something you have said or done?  Not just a little ashamed, but head hanging down, can’t-look-someone-in-the eye-kind-of-ashamed? Have you ever felt this kind of shame when you came face to face with the Living God?

Paul gave Timothy some advice on how to avoid this kind of shame.  “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

The words found in this verse are written in the front of a study Bible that I got from my grandmother when I was fifteen years old.  They are penned in her familiar style and her love and admonition for me still leaps off the page. 

As a young man I would study this verse and attempt to apply it to my life. There are three applications found in this verse that can be applied daily to our lives.  All deal with handling the sin in our lives that we all too often rationalize away.  Here is my take on it.

The first thing Paul says is to “be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman.”  In my life I have found that when I am “working” for God—that is putting my faith into action—it is difficult to sin and put myself first.  When I am being obedient to the leading of the Spirit it kind of drives everything else that is inconsequential out of me.  I am therefore able to present myself to God approved (clear of sin) as a workman.

The second part of this verse is the phrase “who does not need to be ashamed…” Where does shame come from?  It comes from doing something wrong, horrible even, and feeling bad about it.  When we rationalize our sin away it is like a callous that builds over our sin until we no longer feel shame.  The more we rationalize the easier it becomes to continue in that sin and a continuing cycle is established.  Unfortunately, many Christians have ceased to feel shame in their sin or if they do it is so deep down that they cannot even feel the Holy Spirit move within them.  This pattern negates any positive effect we can have on the Kingdom of God and damages our relationship with Him. 

The third part of this verse is, “…accurately handling the word of truth.”  As we looked at yesterday in Hebrews 4:12, the Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword.  Imagine the razor sharp edge of a scalpel.  Used correctly it can cut away that which is damaging to our bodies.  The key is that it must be used correctly and by someone who knows what they are cutting away. 

When the Holy Spirit pricks your heart with the Word of God it can feel a little like a sharp blade, but that is sometimes what is needed to free us from the things that cause us to be ashamed.  This Word is necessary and vital to a healthy walk with God and an end to the rationalization of sin that keeps us enslaved.