Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cancel The Trip To Judgment Camp

It's like: The pot calling the kettle black; looking for a speck in your friend's eye when there's a block of wood in your own; the blind leading the blind; the glazed donut telling the frosted donut that he's missing something right in the middle.

Jesus warns us against judging others, or judgment will come to us as well. He talks about this in Luke:
Luke 6:37-40 (New Living Translation)

37 "Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full--pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back."

39 Then Jesus gave the following illustration: "Can one blind person lead another? Won't they both fall into a ditch? 40 Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher."

The Son of Man [Jesus] came to seek and save what was lost. And you, as His follower, are to be seeking those that are lost as well. Let God be the judge. Cancel your trip to "Judgment Camp". You give of yourself and seek to serve the lost around you. Bring them closer to Him.  

g-ram

Friday, November 26, 2010

Soul Distraction

So here's a thought about money. Perfect time; right as the shopping season opens. 

Money: You can trade it for just about anything you want if you have enough of it. Money equals power, and that power is bound to capture your attention eventually. Jesus tells a story about money:
Luke 12:13-21 (New Living Translation)

13 Then someone called from the crowd, "Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father's estate with me."

14 Jesus replied, "Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?" 15 Then he said, "Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own."

16 Then he told them a story: "A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. 17 He said to himself, 'What should I do? I don't have room for all my crops.' 18 Then he said, 'I know! I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I'll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. 19 And I'll sit back and say to myself, "My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!"'

20 "But God said to him, 'You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?'

21 "Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God."

If you haven't been tempted to fall in love with money, chances are someday you will. Money will distract your soul, and it can also be gone in an instant--something we've learned a little too well in our culture recently. Only heaven's treasure lasts forever and starts now.

g-ram

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Can't Get No Satisfaction?

It's so easy to look to other people to satisfy our needs. Let's be honest, they're here, human, tangible. But don't deceived, don't be shortchanged. Jeremiah explains that only God can truly meet our needs--and He will!

Jeremiah 17:5-8 (New Living Translation)

5 This is what the Lord says:
"Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
who rely on human strength
and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
6 They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
in an uninhabited salty land.

7 "But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit."

Satisfaction only comes from God.
"Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
who rely on human strength
and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
6 They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
in an uninhabited salty land.

7 "But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit."

Satisfaction only comes from God.


- g-ram

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Kaleo 02: Followup on Called to Generosity



We are kaleo, or called by Christ to be generous beyond what we can afford. We will answer this call by ________________________.


Objective:
To fill in the blank.

For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford but far more. And they did it of their own free will.
2 Corinthians 8:3 (NLT)


Describe a time when you have benefited from another person’s generosity. How did this person’s generosity make you feel?


At what times or in what situations do you feel it’s easier for you to be generous? At what times can it be difficult?

Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely...
Psalm 112:5 (NIV)

...the Lord Jesus himself said: “It is more blessed to give than receive.”
Acts 20:35 (NIV)

A generous man will prosper, he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed
Proverbs 11:25 (NIV)

Which resources (time, finances, possessions, your home, etc.) are you currently being generous with? Which resources could you be more
generous with?

What kind of impact do you think it will have on others as they see us become more generous and give beyond what we can afford?


How will you personally answer Christ’s call to be generous beyond what you can afford? How will you answer this call as a group?


For Further Study


Icebreaker:
Think for a moment about your possessions. What is the one thing you own that holds the most value to you personally?


Read Acts 4:32-37.
This passage gives us a look at the early church and how Christians were generous with all of their possessions. As a result there was no poverty among them. (4:34)

What attitude did the believers have toward one another? (4:32)
How did the Christians show their unity? (4:32)
How effective was the apostles’ witness? (4:33)

What godly quality enhanced the unity and service of the early Christians? (4:33)

What did some better-off Christians do from time to time? (4:34-35)

How did the early wealthy believers disburse the money they got from selling their lands or houses? (4:35)

What was exemplary about Barnabas? (4:36-37)
How was Barnabas’ generosity singled out? (4:36-37)

In this scripture, the believers sold their land and homes to aid the poor. Do you think you think you could donate or sell something as valuable as real estate or a vehicle to help someone in need? Would it be difficult? Why or why not?


Is it easier to be generous to strangers or to those we know such as our family, friends, or fellowship? Why?

Describe someone you know that stands out as a true “Barnabas” in your view.


What type of impact on the world could the church make if all Christians were generous like Barnabas was in this passage?


Final thought:
Share any specific needs you may have with trusted friends so they can pray with you and assist you with your needs.

Pray in your quiet time this week for God to give you opportunities to be generous to others with either your time or resources or both.


Additional Resources:


Quotes that will inspire and challenge you to answer the call of Generosity

“Giving frees us from the familiar territory of our own needs by opening our minds to the unexplained worlds occupied by the needs of others.”
-Barbara Bush

“Think of giving not as a duty but as a privilege.”
-John D. Rockefeller Jr.


“Money is like manure; it’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around encouraging young things to grow.
-Thornton Wilder

“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”
-Winston Churchill

“The habit of giving only enhances the desire to give.”
-Walt Whitman

“Generosity during life is a very different thing from generosity in the hour of death; one proceeds from genuine liberality and benevolence, the other from pride or fear.”
-Horace Mann

“Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.”
-Dale Evans

“The poor don’t know that their function in life is to exercise our generosity.”
-Jean-Paul Sartre


“Many people despise wealth, but few know how to give it away.”
-Francois De La Rochefoucauld

Website:

http://www.generousgiving.org This website is designed to motivate followers of Christ toward greater Biblical generosity and features a number of resources to aid Christians in being more generous to others.

Books:


The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving
by Randy Alcorn

Fields of Gold: A Place Beyond Your Deepest Fears, a Prize Beyond Your Wild
est Imagination
by Andy Stanley

Money: The Currency of Christian Hedonism
by John Piper



Think. Discuss. Live.


g-ram

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Think We Upside-Downed What Was Supposed To Be Upside-Down

When Jesus was on Earth everywhere he went he helped people to see things in a new light, or perhaps in an old light. He took what people knew and turned it upside down, proclaiming that "this is the way of the kingdom of God." He said things tricky to understand like, "the last shall be first and the first shall be last," or "whoever wants to be the greatest must be the servant of all." Things that brought deep question into people's lives followed by bright lights of understanding. He challenged us to see the world as God desired it and not how sin had made it.

The obstacles were large but then he also said that he never meant for us to do these things on our own. We are to walk in partnership with the Holy Spirit living out these kingdom values for ourselves but also challenging and encouraging those around us to be free also. Life and life abundant. Somewhere along the way the church gets things mucked up. What is to be expected?, we are human, it's what we do. But when we are walking in the spirit we also ask for forgiveness, repent and seek to reconcile; asking God to change us and transform us yet again from what we are, into what we are called to be. By his grace he does it, when we humble ourselves.


"The institution has stopped serving the people,
& the people have started serving the institution"
Alan Hirsch quoting
~ A Lutheran Theologian

For too many of the churches I know this is a problem on both the individual and corporate levels. Jesus came and turned the world upside-down and we applauded that. We then kept the motion going and have manged to turn upside-down the world again. Through a long and circuitous route we have found ourselves vouching and fighting for the system that Jesus challenged and turned over. The church is the people, not the building, not the staff and not the institution. It is time for a reawakening to the call of Jesus to live upside-down.

Though we have come from many places, many origins we are now coming together in2one future: the earnest pursuit of God Himself through the application and recognition of the priesthood of all believers.

Are you interested in joining the pursuit and living upside-down?

g-ram


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Kaleo 01: Called To Care Follow-Up Questions


We are "kaleo," or called by Christ to go and share the “Good News” with others who don’t have a relationship Him. Living out the answer to this call can be described as living a lifestyle of missions. As followers of Christ we will answer His call to live this lifestyle of missions by _______________.

Objective: To fill in the blank.

And then [Jesus] told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere.”
Mark 16:16 (NLT)

What does living a lifestyle of missions mean to you?

Describe a time when you directly or indirectly shared the “Good News.”


How did it benefit those you served?


Sharing the “Good News” is not only a benefit to those we serve, but also to ourselves. How has your life been changed as a result of reaching out to others?


I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Christ Jesus.

Phil. 2:20-21 (NLT)

Caring is an action. To not act is to not truly care. Was there a time in your life where you could have acted to help someone, but did not? What
opportunities were lost for both yourself and the other person?

What are some specific ways you will personally answer Christ’s call to live a lifestyle of missions? What are some ways you can answer His call in a group?


For Further Study

Throughout your life, in what specific areas has God called you to missions? Is your calling more in your local community or do you feel God has called you to minister to a specific country or culture? Both?

Read Romans 15:14-22. In this passage, Paul proclaims to the Romans that God has bestowed a specific calling on him to be a minister (or missionary) of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. (14:14-16)

How did Paul describe the Christians in Rome? (15:14)
What was the focus of Paul's life? (15:17-18)
What was the only thing that Paul was willing to speak of? (15:18-19)
To what did Paul credit his success in evangelism? (15:18-19)
What was Paul's ambition? (15:20)
Why did Paul preach the gospel where Christ was not known? (15:20)
What had hindered Paul from coming to see the Roman church? (15:22)


Paul was given a very specific mission from God in this scripture.
What are some of the missions you’ve seen God call others to?


What talents has God given you to serve him?
How are you currently using those talents?

Many times God gives us a specific burden for others He wants us to serve and minister to. What burden has God given you?

Are there any areas in your community where opportunities to hear the gospel are limited? What are some ways you could help share the “Good News” in these areas?

How can you tell if your work for God is motivated by self interest or selfless devotion to God?

Final thought:
Pray this week for God to give you opportunities to witness to those who do not know Christ.



g-ram

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rules, Authority & Getting To Bed Early

"Rules were in invented by elders, so they could get to bed early! Men who harp on authority only prove they have none. And kings who make speeches about submission only betray twin fears in their hearts: they are not certain they are really true leaders, sent of God. And they live in mortal fear of a rebellion.

-"A Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness"
Gene Edwards

If God is in charge then He will provide and protect. Whom do you trust? Yourself or God? It is easy to say and hard to live. God give us the courage & the fortitude to live trusting in you.

g-ram

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mr Fire-Head


Everyone gets mad. They just do. It happens. People show it in different ways and to different degrees, but it happens. There are different reasons to get "hot under the collar."

If someone wont let go of anger after being shown that they are wrong about someone or something, it's because their anger has become their IDENTITY. Imagine that. That is just how they have presented themselves; it's part of their brand; their "personality"; It's what you know about them. Mr Hot-Head cannot say "sorry" or "I was wrong."

If you took away some people's reason for anger, they'd lose their identity. They get attention through anger and the attention is addicting! Addictions lead to self-destruction.

Don't hang out with angry people;
don't keep company with hotheads.
Bad temper is contagious—
don't get infected.
Pr.22:24-25
The Message

Why endanger your soul?
Who do you read and listen to? Do you know an anger addict? Have you become one? Are you filled with "righteous indignation"? It stops being righteous when it is always about you. When the Spirit is about you there should always be other visible fruit. Where are they?


Beware of the heat, Mr Fire-Head, or you may just burn up the relationships all around you.

g-ram

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pursuing



Shakespeare's plays were not written to be studied, but to be acted. The reason why we read the Bible is not simply to study the text or to understand the words on the pages. The reason why we read the Bible is to live, understand life, and to know Jesus. ... In coming to know Jesus, we come to know ourselves and others, as well as God. Jesus himself warned us not to confuse knowledge of the Scriptures with knowledge of God. In belittling the Pharisees' vaunted scholarship, he said:

"You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life."
John 5:39-40, NRSV
The text is not the absolute. The text can only point to the Absolute.
Leonard Sweet

We earnestly pursue Jesus. We earnestly pursue our faith in God and we strive to live these difficult, complicated, upside down truths in our regular lives with all those whom we interact with. We challenge ourselves to put God first in the mundane and in the spectacular and then watch Him transform us, our lives and circumstances around us. I must decrease, He must increase. We pursue what we think about most. What/Who are you thinking about most?

g-ram

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It's Nice To Be Nice, To The Nice

Doing good is good right? Keep on doing good. Good is good and it is good for you to do good. It would be bad if you stopped doing good. It would also be bad if you started doing bad. So don't do bad. And don't stop doing good. Keep doing good, and at some point you will see good come of it.

Galatians 6:9-10 (New Living Translation)

9 So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up. 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone--especially to those in the family of faith.

Did you get it? Good


- g-ram

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Babbling

Have you ever had to listen to someone babble? You know, talking without meaning or direction about whatever--politics, psychology, the Twilight series? The bottom line is that babble is boring. Babble is boring because it has no substance.

Jesus warns against praying in such a meaningless way, and offers an alternative.

Have you ever had to listen to someone babble? You know, talking without meaning or direction about whatever--politics, psychology, the Twilight series? The bottom line is that babble is boring. Babble is boring because it has no substance.

Jesus warns against praying in such a meaningless way, and offers an alternative.

Matthew 6:7-13 (New Living Translation)

7 "When you pray, don't babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. 8 Don't be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! 9 Pray like this:

Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
10 May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need,
12 and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don't let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one."

Prayer can take many forms, but should be intentional and filled with meaning. Meaningful prayer helps to strengthen your relationship with God, and communicates respect to God whose value is infinite.

- g-ram

Friday, October 29, 2010

in2one Secret Strategy: Revealed!


The secret strategy that in2one will be employing for growth:
There is nothing new under the sun, at least that is what they say. With that in mind, we kind of, are going to steal our strategy from a well known historical figure.

"If I am lifted up, I WILL DRAW ALL men unto me"
-Jesus.

If we lift HIM up,
not ourselves,
HE keeps his promise and draws them!

The secret has been revealed. Now we just move to live it out. Want to be part of the movement?

g-ram

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Frustrating Scoffers

You know, sometimes it's hard to keep going when times are tough and people are frustrating. But God called us to hang in there and even help other people to do the same. Here's Jude:

Jude 1:17-22 (New Living Translation)

17 But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ said. 18 They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. 19 These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God's Spirit in them.

20 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, 21 and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God's love.

22 And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering.

You have to actually be on the right path to walk it with someone.

Don't give up.

- g-ram

Monday, October 18, 2010

Crossed The 25,000 Download Barrier For Podcast

The count is in and the numbers continue to rise at a significant rate. Here is your quick update for what is miraculously happening around the world.

The podcast has now officially crossed the 25,000 download plateau!


Downloads: 25,593
Continents: 7
Countries: 58
Cities: 517
US States: 44
Canadian Provinces: 10
Cities in Ontario 60

What an absolutely mind-boggling, fabulous blessing of God. I am humbled and grateful. Thanks to all of you who have made these astounding facts come into reality.

Please comment back on who you are and where you are from or feel free to email me directly @ slurpeeheadz@rogers.com I would love to hear from you.

g-ram

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Remembered For?

So, what should others remember about you? God clues us in, in Philippians 4:5.

Philippians 4:5 (New Living Translation)

5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

And again in Colossians 3:12.

Colossians 3:12 (NLT)

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

Galatians 5:22-23 tells us Who creates those kind of qualities in us:

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!


And again in Colossians 3:12.

Colossians 3:12 (NLT)

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

Galatians 5:22-23 tells us Who creates those kind of qualities in us:

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!


- g-ram

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bring 'Em In With The Lovin'

LOVE always attracts.

Huge crowds or "multitudes" followed Jesus everywhere.

Huge crowds or "multitudes" followed Him everywhere because He LOVED them.

It was because they LOVED Him that while they were following Him they also listened to him.

That is a model that is worth attempting to replicate.

Love. Follow. Listen. Live.


Bring us in2one.

g-ram

Monday, October 4, 2010

Who's Hungry?



Here is a thought that can get you thinking on many different levels.

A wise person is hungry for truth, while the fool feeds on trash.
Proverbs 15:14

What are you hungry for? Really. What do you crave? What do you choose? Are they the same?

g-ram

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Into A New Person

Do you know who your life belongs to? Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans.

Romans 12:1-2 (New Living Translation)

1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice--the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

OK...so how do you do that? The answer is in the next verse:

2 Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Knowing God's will for your life starts with giving your life to Him


- g-ram

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

God's Idea of Church

Here's God's idea of church.

Ephesians 4:15-16 (New International Version)

15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Christ is the head. We are the body. That's church.


- g-ram

Chaos Promise



God's promises aren't designed to calm the chaos, but to calm our doubts in the midst of the chaos.

What are you more aware of right now?

Calm?
Chaos?
Promises?
God?
Yourself?
Someone else?

Can you find peace in the storm right now? Maybe you need to connect with someone else who can help you find the peace.

g-ram

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Opposition



If GOD has called you to do something, don't be surprised when opposition shows up. Duh!

Look to Jesus!

“Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men,
so that you won't grow weary & lose heart”
Heb.2:3

Don't Give Up!

g-ram

Monday, September 13, 2010

Outstanding Stats Update

There goes another marker... I never imagined this. I guess I just did not dream very big or compounding. Here are the astounding new lines we have crossed:
7 continents
56 countries
43 US States
10 Canadian provinces
57 cities in Ontario
474 cities world-wide
20,388 downloads of podcast materials.

Just blows my mind.

Provision. Share what you've got. Bless someone around you or across the world.


- g-ram

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Forgotten Fondness




Ephesians were known and celebrated for doctrinal purity, social justice and perseverance. They did good things. They thought in good ways, BUT...:

"Yet I hold this against you: you've lost your first love"

They lost the why.

Why do we do all that we are called to do? Religion? Habit? Fear? Apathy? Love? Honour? Devotion?

Jesus provides this teaching again and again while he was on earth. It is not the gift, but how you give it. It is not the prayer, but how you offer it. And here again, it is not your right theology, but why right theology is important. It is not theology in concept but in lifestyle that pleases God.

All these good things we do and think because they help us to display the heart of God in us, the heart of God for us and our heart stretching towards God.

Revelation 2:1-7
1"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.
5
Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

So let us then live these things together that we might remind each other to not forget our first love.

Don't Give Up.

g-ram

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Forgotten Love

Have you ever read Hosea? I mean, really read it? It's seriously intense, but there is no way that you can walk away from reading this book without feeling the incredible love of God for you.

Hosea 2:13-16 (New Living Translation)

13 I will punish her for all those times
when she burned incense to her images of Baal,
when she put on her earrings and jewels
and went out to look for her lovers
but forgot all about me,"
says the LORD.

14 "But then I will win her back once again.
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her there.
15 I will return her vineyards to her
and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.
She will give herself to me there,
as she did long ago when she was young,
when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.
16 When that day comes," says the LORD,
"you will call me 'my husband'
instead of 'my master.'"

It's an incredibly beautiful, painful picture of Israel's relationship with God. And don't miss that when we walk away from God, it's a picture of us too.


- g-ram

Friday, August 20, 2010

Get It Straight

It is hard to stay focused all the time. It is challenging to think correctly all the time. When we don't though we frequently get the facts mixed up or the order confused.

The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.
-CS Lewis

Hear the truth in that.
Salvation comes through grace alone so that none of us may boast. We boast only in the love of our God for us.


- g-ram

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Faith For Provision

While worry is a popular pastime, faith is a better focus. Don't worry for what you need, instead, have faith in the one who provides.

Matthew 6:25-34 (New Living Translation)

25 "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life--whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 "And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 "So don't worry about these things, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?' 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34 "So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today."

God's got it under control. Your worry does nothing for you other than distract you from greater things. So let it go. Watch carefully for the provision that surrounds you then be thankful for it.


- g-ram

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Evidence To Yourself

The difference between living by the Spirit, and living by sinful desires. It is not your opinion that is important but your actual choices. Which will you choose to follow? What fruit will your life bear?

Galatians 5:16-23 (New Living Translation)

16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.

19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life WILL NOT inherit the Kingdom of God.

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Can you think of a time that you were producing that kind of fruit? Which kind of fruit do you see more of in your life? We all have room to grow.


- g-ram

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wealthy, But Low On Cash

You know, you don't need money to be wealthy. Here's what the apostle Paul wrote to his friend named Timothy.

1 Timothy 6:6-9 (New Living Translation)

6 Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. 7 After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can't take anything with us when we leave it. 8 So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

9 But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.

You may be wealthy and not feel like it. Ask God today to show you how He's blessed you.


- g-ram

Monday, July 19, 2010

Jealousy Bad. Wisdom Good.

Feeling jealous? Here's James with some advice.

James 3:16-18 (New Living Translation)

16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

Instead of getting mad about it, you know what you should do.


- g-ram

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Don't Be Afraid. Don't Be Very Afraid.

Do you know what the antidote to fear is? Here's a passage from 1 John to tell you.

1 John 4:16-19 (New Living Translation)

16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 19 We love each other because he loved us first.

Are you experiencing the love of God today? Only His love can drive out fear forever.


- g-ram

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wide, Long, High & Deep

The way the world talks about love, it's no wonder people feel insecure. Here's what Paul has to say about God's love.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (New Living Translation)

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Let God's love be the secure foundation you build the rest of your life on.


- g-ram

Friday, July 9, 2010

Chosen

1 Peter 2:9-12 (New Living Translation)

9... you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God's very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

10 "Once you had no identity as a people;
now you are God's people.
Once you received no mercy;
now you have received God's mercy."

11 Dear friends, I warn you as "temporary residents and foreigners" to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbours. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honourable behaviour, and they will give honour to God when he judges the world.

You are chosen. You have value. So how does that change the way that you live?


- g-ram

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cool the Anger

So you think it's cool to get angry? That's what the movies show all the time. Here's the thing, your anger could destroy you.

James 1:19-22 (New Living Translation)

19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. 21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.

22 But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

How do you slow your anger? Exactly the way you're doing. Making time for God's Word every day and actually doing what it says.


- g-ram

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Don't Stand Alone

1 Peter 5:6-11 (New Living Translation)

6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. 10 In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 11 All power to him forever! Amen.

All of us struggle with something. But we're meant to help each other. So find someone you can talk to about it.


- g-ram

Monday, June 28, 2010

Pursuit of the Dream

Stop waiting for what you want and work with what you have got. The dream in your heart always starts with something in your hand.

What's in your hand?
What does the dream in your heart look like?
What should you be doing right now?


- g-ram

Monday, June 21, 2010

How Not To Stop A Charging Bull



Adversity comes.
Oh, look! Here comes some now!
Don't be surprised when you see it coming.
Don't be discouraged when you sense its approach.

“Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you're a good person is like expecting a bull not to charge because you're vegetarian”
Jewish adage

The arrival of challenge, adversity, lousiness, opportunity all allow you to be able to share the hope that is within you.

15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

1 Peter 3:15

If no adversity ever crosses your path, how will you live out your calling?

Face it.

Be ready for it.

... Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes

... so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then,

Ephesians 6:10-18

Don't give up.

g-ram




Sunday, June 20, 2010

Chosen

Do you feel like there's no way God would want you? Here's what Jesus had to say about that.

John 3:14-17 (New Living Translation)

14 "And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.

16 "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. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him."

When it comes to eternal life, your past isn't the issue. Will you choose Jesus?


- g-ram

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Hinge

Authentic prayer hinges on a single conviction:

God is able.

And He is...

Live like you believe. Faith in action; the impossible made possible.

- g-ram

Friday, June 18, 2010

Provision

Money's great to have, but it's important to remember where it came from.

Deuteronomy 8:17-18 (New Living Translation)

17 "He did all this so you would never say to yourself, 'I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.' 18 Remember the LORD your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath."

God will always provide what you need to accomplish what He's set before you.

Remember, you don't need money in the same way that you need God's provision.

- g-ram

Thursday, June 17, 2010

How Big Is Your World?


It is funny to me how the more I focus on myself, the less I see.
The more it's about me, the less I will be.

To open up and share with others vastly enlarges my understanding and my experiences. Who wants a small life?

Give more.
Share more.
See more.
Be more.
Love more.
Serve more.

"The world of the generous gets larger & larger;
the world of the stingy gets smaller & smaller."

Proverbs 11:24
(The Message)

I am better when I am not just thinking about me.
Open my eyes that I might see even a glimpse of what I might be if I could just focus on you first Jesus.

He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.
John 3:30
(New Living Translation)


g-ram

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Unleash Your Superpowers




It's difficult to determine the impact words can make on an individual's life. Some words--good or bad--remain lodged within for an entire life. My guess is that words have both wounded and brought healing to you and you're well aware of the power of the spoken word. Here are some ideas to add more muscle to your conversations:

Choose care over criticism. It's easy to critique and complain—criticism doesn't require much intelligence. It's much more difficult to think about how to verbally care for others. When you care, you soften hearts and open up eyes (and, you'll become better at it too).
Go deeper than the surface. If we're being technical, it is encouraging to say something like,
.....| "You don't seem to sweat much for a husky guy."
.....| "You seem smart for a drop out."
.....| "It's really amazing how your pasty white skin shines in the sun."


Don't settle for a superficial word of encouragement when you can dig a little deeper and add meaning to your words. If you need to start by commenting on how someone is dressed… okay, start there but don't stay at the superficial. Keep looking past the surface and you'll move from their clothing to their character—that type of encouragement is memorable and transformational.


A quick aside: Encouragement shouldn't become a substitute for a confrontation that may need to happen. There will be times when you the best thing you can say to a friend may actually sting the recipient. But, when you have a solid relationship that's bathed in encouragement, confrontations are easier and more effective.


Our world is starving for encouragement, what are they hearing from you?

g-ram

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What Lurks Beneath...

Right now is the time for you to change the way you live. Here's Paul in Colossians.

Colossians 3:5-11 (New Living Translation)

5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don't be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. 6 Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. 7 You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. 8 But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. 9 Don't lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. 11 In this new life, it doesn't matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

So take a second: What's one thing you can work on today? Christ lives in you.


- g-ram

Monday, June 14, 2010

Who's Got Your Back?

Ever wonder if God's really got your back?

Romans 8:31-37 (New Living Translation)

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won't he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one--for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one--for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God's right hand, pleading for us.

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, "For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.") 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

The next time you're feeling insecure, remember God is on your side. That does not change.

So DON'T GIVE UP!


- g-ram

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Just What You Need

Who out there likes to depend on someone or something else? Not me. I like to feel like I am enough, or I have enough all on my own. That's why I think I relate with the Israelites in Exodus 16. I can tell you that God supplies what you and your family need, but I have a little trouble remembering that when I'm panicking over my grocery budget.

Exodus 16:11-12, 17-20 (New Living Translation)

11 Then the LORD said to Moses, 12 "I have heard the Israelites' complaints. Now tell them, 'In the evening you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will have all the bread you want. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.'"

...

17 So the people of Israel did as they were told. Some gathered a lot, some only a little. 18 But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough.... Each family had just what it needed.

19 Then Moses told them, "Do not keep any of it until morning." 20 But some of them didn't listen and kept some of it until morning. But by then it was full of maggots and had a terrible smell.

God provided exactly what the Israelites needed, and He will do the same for you--in His time and in His way. Our responsibility in the whole ordeal is to remember that He will take care of us and believe it from the bottom of our hearts. Trust. Obey. Ok?


- g-ram

Sunday, June 6, 2010

When Trouble Comes Your Way

If you're anything like me, when I'm lamenting over some great travesty in my life and a friend of mine says in response to my pain, "oh, well, just consider it an opportunity for great joy when your faith is tested!"--I want to punch them. But, mostly because I know they are right. So, don't punch me, but here it is.

James 1:2-5 (New Living Translation)

2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

This doesn't mean that what you're going through no longer matters or is diminished. No, the joy comes from the fact that you know this world is not the end. There's your joy! And it's fine to see that joy and still have a good old fashioned weepy breakdown.


- g-ram

Monday, May 31, 2010

If They Are Enemies, Why Would I Love Them?

You know, of everything Jesus taught, loving your enemies is one of the hardest. It sounds all well and good, but the truth is, we'd rather talk about our enemies behind their backs than actually be kind to them.

Luke 6:27-31 (New Living Translation)

27 "But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. 30 Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don't try to get them back. 31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you."

It's not easy. Loving people never is. But it's also one of the most important things you can do. When someone who you just can't stand shows up, ask God for the ability to love them, no matter how hard it is. Then you will be experiencing something supernatural.


- g-ram

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Just Be There

Do you ever wish you could do something to help someone who's hurting? Well, you can.

Romans 12:14-16 (New Living Translation)

14 Pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don't be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don't think you know it all!

Just be there. Pray


- g-ram

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Imitators

Listen to the crazy advice that God gave to the Ephesians.

Ephesians 5:1-2 (New Living Translation)

1 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

Okay, "imitate God"? Actually try to be like God? Is Paul crazy? Well, fortunately, he gives us a few pointers. We're not supposed to copy God's power or identity, we're supposed to imitate His love--offering ourselves to anyone who needs us.


- g-ram

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Flu Linked To Evil

Some things are better than others. Like, how Christmas season is better than flu season. And, these verses have another example.

Psalm 37:16-17 (New Living Translation)

16 It is better to be godly and have little
than to be evil and rich.
17 For the strength of the wicked will be shattered,
but the LORD takes care of the godly.

Wealth is short-lived. But godliness lasts forever. This is better than that.


- g-ram

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Worry, Money & Trust

Of all things we have to worry about, money is one of the easiest. Understandable, but, while you're trying to be smart with money, don't forget this.

Hebrews 13:5 (New Living Translation)

5 Don't love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said,

"I will never fail you.
I will never abandon you."

God wants us trusting Him and nothing else. Because He knows that He alone can satisfy our deepest needs.

You need far more than money. Don't be tricked into believing money will solve all your worries.


- g-ram

Monday, May 17, 2010

Who Needs Some Voodoo Witchcraft?



While innocently meandering through a mall I happened to see the answer to all of my problems hiding away in kids toys/candy dispenser.

Voodoo Dolls. With their tempting little catch phrase "What will you do with yours?"

Well I don't know, but with it being that close and easily affordable how could I not find out? Who could I push this way or that? Who will learn a lesson at the end of my pin? Who will learn of the pain they caused me as I cause them pain? What sort of justice & retribution should I unleash?

I didn't buy one. But I was creeped out that they were there. Just another fun toy on the road to destruction.

- g-ram

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Thin Spots & Transitions


Life is not what it once was. That's my story. Is it yours also?

Change has occurred and now I/you are in transition. Does that mean it is bad? Does that mean it is good? The answer here is like so many others...it depends. It depends on what changed, for who, when and why and probably a dozen other factors. What matters far more is what you do with this time of refocus. The ancients would call such a time as this, "the time between times." These times were consider sacred and rife with opportunity. In the time between times this world and the other-world (the supernatural) grow close. Where normally there is great distance between this world and the other-world they are now bleeding together. It is a time of great opportunity, great possibility, a time of power.


Power for good or evil.

That's the problem; if we don't consciously make the effort to channel that power into something good, it seems to default to something evil. Where does your mind go? Where do you let it wander? To take advantage of that power for good you must focus on connecting with that supernatural purity. Asking for it, longing for it, remembering it. These are wise times for prayers, both private and shared. A time to cry out together to God to lead us forward into something new, something beautiful, something powerful and something full of His leading. What does the future hold? Only He knows, so let's ask Him: alone and together.

God we seek you. We need you. What are you calling us into? Where are you leading? Where is the Spirit blowing? How may we ride that? How do we get in line with where you are already moving? How can you use us to make a difference?

As I have been walking into this THIN SPOT I have been challenged, comforted and called forth by a song that I keep hearing in different places and contexts. It just keeps coming up. So I pray this song for me and now for you also.


Everlasting God
Chris Tomlin

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord

Our God, You reign forever
Our hope, our Strong Deliverer
You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won't grow weary

Our God, You reign forever
Our hope, our Strong Deliverer
You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won't grow weary

You're the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles

Be encouraged.
Be challenged.
Be listening.
Be praying.
Be reminded.
Be comforted.
Be restored.

Be called.

g-ram

Monday, May 10, 2010

Stats Update

I know you can't tell everything with numbers but here is some encouragement that I have received recently.
Blog/Podcast activity:
Downloads in the last 4 weeks with almost no new content. Amazing. 841 downloads. That brings our totals up to a little over 9600 downloads. Out of control.

For those searching the podcast is available on the blog, and hey you are already here, or on iTunes. Now search Graham Clinton to locate it.

Questions? Just ask. Thanks everybody.


- g-ram

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Can You Say "Me Too"?

Me too.
When you're struggling,
when you are hurting,
wounded, limping, doubting,
questioning, barely hanging on,
moments away from another relapse,
and somebody can identify with you-
someone knows the temptations that are at your door,
somebody has felt the pain that you are feeling,
when someone can look you in the eyes and say, "Me too,"
and they actually mean it-
it can save you.

When you aren't judged,
or lectured,
or looked down upon,
but somebody demonstrates that they get it,
that they know what it's like,
that you aren't alone,
that's "me too."
Paul does not say, "To the strong I became strong."
He only says, "To the weak I am weak."

Rob Bell


- g-ram

Friday, April 23, 2010

How To Get Ahead

Today we have a story about the disciples looking for a little promotion at work.

Matthew 20:20-28 (New Living Translation)

20 Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. 21 "What is your request?" he asked.

She replied, "In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left."

22 But Jesus answered by saying to them, "You don't know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?"

"Oh yes," they replied, "we are able!"

23 Jesus told them, "You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen."

24 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. 25 But Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many."

When you think about power, think about his: God, all-powerful, comes to earth and makes His whole life--His greatest move in history--an act of service and sacrifice. I think we have a lot to learn in how we go about making ourselves great at work and in our daily lives. Try the power of serving others today.


- g-ram

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Upside Down Kingdom

When Jesus was on earth he taught us about the kingdom of Heaven. He talked about it all the time. What he told us was that it is not like the empire that we are familiar with. What we know, the way we think, the way we are told to think, ... well Jesus takes our world and flips it upside down. He continually told us that things work differently in God's kingdom. Here is just one more way:

My joy is not determined by what happens TO me But what Christ is doing IN and THROUGH me.

Live it.

g-ram

Saturday, April 17, 2010

For Those Following Our Story

For those following our story:
It's about 5:30AM ... on a Saturday. Did I mention that I have children? They assist me with seeing things from a new perspective. They help me with understanding blessing.

Just wanted to give you a bit of an update on where we stand for any who are interested.

As of today I have speaking engagements booked until December. I just received another opportunity yesterday. So that is great news. That is 10 so far including a retreat. Opportunities are coming and that is fantastic.

We also have some upcoming responsiblities: new tires for the truck, new contact lenses, dental visits (especially for the kids), nothing too huge or anything.

We remain well certainly mentally, emotionally & physically. We remain far beyond well as we rehearse the blessings that we have received in support, love, encouragement and finances. To you all: thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Truly you are the hands, mouths and feet of Jesus to us. Is there anything better than clearly being enveloped in the huge arms of God's provision?


- g-ram

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Spirit & The People Of God

To be the people of God there is distinct and definite need for the presence, work and transformation that only appears through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. To be the people of God this must be true: the Spirit must be at work in us. So, when we gather in His name, as does the Church, it is possible to gather without really having the presence of God. We have seen this in the Church and it helps to explain the lack of impact that many churches suffer through. They have a form of godliness but they are denying its power.

The work of Holy Spirit is not optional for the disciple of Jesus. Paul sees the Spirit as essential to any hope of living this thing out. The Spirit at work in us is our direct link to God for power, direction, desire, intuition, holiness, insight and hope. The Spirit is what aids us in clearing the mixed messages we will receive between the old self, or the flesh, and new self, or the spirit. The work of the Spirit is not so much about a function, but about all function.

The mystery of what the Holy Spirit does is an internal work; changes that occur under the surface. The Spirit will, in fact, change the internal desires and thought processes in a disciple moving them from darkness to light.

The internal work is key, however it does not stop there. The Holy Spirit has an even greater emphasis on external work. That is to say, the manifestations of the Holy Spirit are predominantly external. The transformation inside is incomplete without the external manifestation. A new mind that is righteous and true is important but not enough, it must be lived out visibly. You know Christ when you obey. Faith in action is always the drive. Contemplation and discovery is important but community focused living displays the real work of the Holy Spirit. Not for ourselves alone do we enjoy the presence and work of the Spirit. It is for the mutual benefit and building up of the community of faith.

So out of this need to build the body of Christ we have been graciously given the gifts of the Spirit. These spiritual blessings have been provided for us to aid in the life of the spirit, the pursuit of God, the development of holiness and the edification of the people of God.

Unity within the community of faith is an example of the work of the Spirit. This is not so much because we want it or just because we work at it. Unity is a gift that grows in a community in much the same way the fruit of the spirit grow in an individual. We do not long for or seek after unity, we long for and seek after God and the Spirit grows amongst us unity. Once the unity is tasted and evident it empowers the Church, both individuals and the collective body, to have spiritual impact and restart the process in the lives of new believers.

g-ram

Monday, April 12, 2010

Practical Athiest 04: I Believe In God But I Don't Know Him Followup

Who is the one person that truly knows you best? Describe how your relationship with that person is unlike any other relationship in your life.

We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
1 John 2:3-4 (NIV)

Describe a time or situation when you knowingly disobeyed God.

What were the consequences of your actions? What did you learn from this situation?

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by
nature are not gods. But now that you know God-or rather are known by
God-how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable
principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?
Galatians 4:8-9 (NIV)

Describe a time when you had an intimate experience with God. How did that experience affect your faith and relationship with Him?

Discuss some ways you believe we can become more intimate with
God.

God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I
have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise
you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. .
Psalm 9:10 (NIV)

Some people believe in God, but don’t know Him. Some people know Him, but not well. Some know Him intimately and serve Him wholeheartedly. Discuss which of these best describes you right now and why?

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,
may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know
him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in
order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches
of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great
power for us who believe.
Ephesians 1:17-19 (NIV)

The Four typical characteristics of Practical Atheists:
• Believe in God, but don’t fear him.
• Believe in God, but don’t want to go overboard.
• Believe in God, but trust in money.
• Believe in God, but don’t know Him.
Which message in this series had the most impact on you and why?

What do you sense that God is wanting to change in your relationship with Him? Are you ready to go there?
Final thought:
With your group and during your personal prayer time
this week ask God for a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him. Ask Him to help you grow so your relationship with Him will become intimate beyond anything you could ever imagine.

For Further Study

Open
Describe what your life was like before coming to know Christ.
How was your life changed when you entered into an intimate relationship with Him?
Explore
Read Matthew 7:15-23. In this passage Jesus compares true disciples as being like trees that bear fruit.
Against whom did Jesus warn us? Why? (7:15)
What do false prophets look like on the outside? (7:15)
What are false prophets like inwardly? (7:15)
How did Christ say we could recognize false prophets? (7:16, 20)
What does nature reveal about a tree and its fruit? (7:16)
What kind of fruit do good trees bear? Why? (7:17-18)
What type of produce grows on bad trees? Why? (7:17-18)
What happens to trees that fail to produce good fruit? (7:18)
Who will enter the kingdom of heaven? (7:21)
How will some people try to talk their way into heaven? (7:22)
What credentials or accomplishments will some people claim? (7:22)
How will Jesus respond to these impostors? (7:23)
What is necessary for entry into heaven? (7:23)
Reflect
Why do you think we continue to sin if we have Christ in our heart and the Holy Spirit in our lives?
What does this passage tell us about the importance of doing good works?
How do good works and salvation fit together?
How can people be "religious" yet not follow Christ?
What kind of good works have you been working to produce lately?
What evidence in your life points others to your relationship with Jesus?
Apply
What are some specific things you can do this week that will help you allow God to cultivate a deeper relationship with you?
In what area of your life right now do you have the greatest opportunity to increase your good works?

g-ram

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Fear Conformity

Never fear criticism. It's going to come. Some of it might very well be true. Some of it might be made of misunderstandings. Some of it might be the fear of others directed towards you. Stand up and you will be marked. But we are called to stand firm.
Stand firm then...

Fear conformity, which stunts the soul. You can't excel; you can't develop; you can't imagine, when fear of being different overwhelms you. Dreams take you outside of conformity. Conformity is not the opposite of rebellion. Conformity is killing the dream, silencing the imagination, crushing the call.

You can't have everyone’s approval & God’s anointing at same time.

Stand firm then. Grow into who you were called to be. Why would you think that you weren't called to stand out and stand up to make a difference?

Don't Give Up.


- g-ram