Monday, July 25, 2011

Ephesians Part 1

We started a new sermon series on Paul's letter to the Ephesians this past Sunday which will run four weeks. If you missed it, here is a great video that introducess you to the book:

Ephesians is all about unity: Unity in Christ, unity in the Church, and unity among believers. The Apostle Paul (author of Ephesians) tells us that through our faith in Christ we have all been adopted as children of God. Through our adoption, Jesus unifies us all into one body. The Church (worldwide) is the expression of our unity as well as the way we continue to be unified.

Sort of makes you wonder about how we ended up with all these different expressions of the Church, doesn't it?

Read through Ephesians with us over the next month. Let's see how we can do a better job of truly being the people of God, working together through our individual weaknesses, using the strength that God gives us as a unified body of Christ to make this world a better place.


"For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen"
-Ephesians 3:14-21


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Life Apps - Part 4 (fasting)

Most people have heard of fasting - the practice of denying yourself something as a spiritual practice. Most people fast from food but you can also "fast" from other things - technology (not a bad idea in our current culture) or other specific things or habits that fill up your life and leave little room for God. The point of fasting is to have physical or mental reminder to spend more time with God and be more dependent on Him. If you are fasting from techonology, you will have a lot more time in your day to pray and consider what God is calling you to do. If you are hungry, you will have to lean upon God more to get through the day. The rumblings of your stomach are a sort of call to prayer and meditation.

Fasting is a great way to clear our minds of all the things that clutter up life and open ourselves to God's leading. It must be done, however, in a thoughtful and deliberate way.

For example, I cannot fast from food. I had an eating disorder for many years when I was younger and no matter how many years pass between me and that time, fasting from good causes me to focus on weight loss not God. For me, a fast from techonology or books other than the Bible would be a much better choice if my end goal is to draw closer to God.

For you, a fast from food might work perfectly well, but a technological fast might cause you so much anxiety that you cannot focus on God.

We all have to pick and choose what is the best way to fast in order to really have the time and space to focus on God.

Fasting is a real, tangible way to draw closer to God. It is a great spiritual practice for times when discernment is needed, when you or a loved one is in great distress, or whenever you feel that your focus on God has slipped. Fasting can draw you closer to God and enable you to speak to Him more clearly as well as to hear His voice more clearly.

Here a few more guidelines for fasting:
-Fasting is a private affair between you and God. It is not something to 'brag' to others about.
-You never Fast on Sunday because that is the day we remember Jesus' resurrection. Sunday is a day of celebration
-If you are doing a fast from food, make sure you are doing it in a healthful way. Always drink plenty of liquids.
-Try to fast at least once a year. It is a great way spiritual practice to put into your life's routine.


“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

- Matthew 6:16-18


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Life Apps - part 3 (Prayer)

I am so tired by the time I get into bed at night that my traditional time of talking to God is pretty much worthless. I usually fall asleep somewhere around the opener of "God, thank you for...." It is pretty pathetic - especially for someone who is a pastor.

I know people who get up at 5:45am in order to have time to pray and listen to God, but that doesn't work for me either. So I have had to resort to some sneaky ways to carve out time to talk to God. One way I do it is to randomly send up prayers whenever I think of something. They aren't long and involved - just little short thoughts on things I am thankful for or things that I need to ask God to help me or someone else with - and I do this all day long. Another way I find prayer time is by using the times in my schedule that I have carved out for me. I am pretty diligent about my exercise schedule and if I listen to the contemporary Christian music I have on my iPod, then it reminds me to spend part of that exercise time talking to God and thinking about what He might be wanting me to do with my life and time.

I don't think it is great that I have to remind myself to talk to God, but I do think for many of us, that is just how it is. We have so many other things in our life to distract us from what is important that we have to give ourselve reminders to pull us back to the core of what matters.

Lucky for us, God is ready to listen to us at any time. I know he would love to have a 2 hour chat with us everyday but most of us aren't that disciplined and focused. So start small if you don't talk to him everday - give him 1-2 minutes of your time a couple times a day when you can actually focus on God. Gradually, figure out what times in your daily routine can be carved out as times for you to talk to God. The time you are getting ready in the morning? The 10-15 minutes during the day that you take a break and just sit? The commute to or from work? There are times in our schedule that we can all dedicate to God simply by choosing to turn off the news or put down our phone or iPad or by decided to talk to God instead of mulling over other things of the day to ourselves.

If you don't listen to Christian music, I also encourage you to find some that you like (iTunes has lot and you can also get a soundbyte before you buy) or listen to Contemporary Christian music on the radio or via the internet. It makes a huge difference in the day to a lot of people by refocusing their thoughts on God instead of the world.

And remember - God is always ready to listen.


"pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." - 1 Thessolonians 5: 17-18


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Life Apps - part 2

Since everyone did so well trying Lectio Divina last week, I thought I'd give you another chance to try this week.

Don't forget - you need 10-15 minutes of uninterrupted quiet time to do this. Empty your mind of your 'to do' list, the noise of the day, and be ready to fill yourself with God's spirit.

Here's how you do it:
1) Get in a comfortable, quiet place where you won't be interupted for 10-15 minutes. Pray for God to be present with you.
2) Read the chosen scripture passage (2-3 verses) once. Think about which word or phrase catches your attention
3) Read the passage again. Think about how that word or phrase applies to your life currently.
4) Read the passage a third time. Listen for what God might be calling you to realize, change, or act upon in your life.

Use the following passage from Romans and have a great encounter with the Living God!

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[m] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

- Romans 8:35-39