Archives For The Descent to Compassion

Do It Anyway

December 18, 2012 — 2 Comments

Do-It-Anyway

We are to reflect God to the world. We are called to be the salt of the earth and a light that is not hidden. We are called to love. We are called to joy. We are called to peace. We are called to forbearance. We are called to kindness. We are called to goodness. We are called to faithfulness. We are called to gentleness. We are called to self-control. In Short, we are called to be like Him in front of a world that desperately needs to see Him.

At times, you will think being all the above-mentioned things don’t matter. You will see the world hate you even when you live a life that reflects God. However, do it anyway. You live as a reflection first for Him, and then for others. In the end, it will be to Him you will give an account and not to the people of the world.

Mother Teresa said it best when she wrote, ““People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

Called To The Gap

December 6, 2012 — 2 Comments

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As Christ followers, we follow Christ. That being said, never forget that Jesus is also found walking in mission fields beyond North America and we must follow there also.

You may not be able to travel to mission fields far away, but you can give to them. When your giving is done with God’s love it becomes a demonstration of His grace, mercy to the world beyond your shorelines.

God has called each of us to fill the gap between North America and the rest of the world. As I mentioned a moment ago, you may not be able to travel abroad, but you can give to them. Your money can travel.

God has His missionaries placed throughout the world. They are His servants that live the message of His love out every day in some of the poorest places on earth. They need your help to stay there. Deep in your heart you know they are out there and deep in your heart you can feel the commitment calling you to give more.

2 Corinthians 9:7
tells us, “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”

I give to missions. I’ve been on the mission field many times. Yes, there are works to be done at our own doorstep, but our doorstep also opens to the entire world. We have in North America the funding to completely change the world if each of us would do just a little.

I’m sure you have a desire to give, but maybe there is something standing in the way of your giving. You have a life to live. You have bills to pay. You have dreams to accomplish. All of those are fine, but missions should be part of that plan.

When you invest in missions, I’m convinced that God smiles. We must remember that God has called us to the world that is beyond our local world also.

I end with the following quote from David Livingstone who said, “God had an only Son and He made Him a missionary”

Will you follow? Will you go? Will you give? I know you will because all of us are called to the gap in some way or another.

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Are you living years or life?

It’s amazing how 6 words can stop you in your tracks and make you think. It has been said, “What you are is God’s gift to you, what you become is your gift to God.” What are you becoming? Are you living years or life?

There is an extreme difference between living years and living life. You can live years without following God, but you can’t live life without following God.

It doesn’t take extreme obedience to live years. You can just get up and go with the flow of the world and self-interest. However, to live life, -radical obedience is called for. You will be called to go against the flow of the world. You will be called to where it’s not comfortable. You will be called to risk much for Christ, but in the end, treasures of heaven awaits you.

As Christ followers, we are called to do more than wait for the future of- no more sin, no more tears, no more injustices, no more pain, or heartaches. We are called to live that future now. Living that kind of life is living life. Anything less than living God’s future in the now is just living years.

You will not grow closer to God’s heart by just living years. To grow closer to God, you must pursue His heart with deliberate steps of obedience. You must remain attentive to His voice in such a way that you walk with the awareness of His presence. The Bible is clear when it teaches in Proverbs 3:6, “in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight”

God doesn’t leave you alone to stumble ahead along the path of life. He is not impersonal or distant. A.W. Tozer once said, “We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts” I love the fact that God is that close and wants to walk with me through life instead of just years.

As a pastor, I’ve stood beside many beds as people were drawing their last breath and I’ve never met one that regretted living life by following God. However, those I’ve stood beside that lived years have a different story. It is a story of regrets and remorse.

I challenge you today; make sure you are living life, and not just living years.

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Is your devotional time with God in a rut? I once heard a preacher say, “ A rut is just a grave with both ends kicked out.” In other words, a rut is a grave of death. Ruts can be hard to get out of, but you can escape. Change is necessary in life, and when it comes to your devotional life, change is necessary from time to time.

1. Set a time or reset a different time

Spending time with God takes time. You must set a time or reset a time you already have as part of your daily routine. For example, if your devotions are in the morning and they have become routine so that you are not feeling connected on a deep level-then change the time you do your devotions. If you have devotions in the morning, move them to the afternoon or evening.

2. Change the location

Change the place you do your devotions. Changing the time and place will make a big differences. I once moved my devotion time to a park, and it was amazing how God would speak through His word to me and at the same time show me things about people all around me. I felt connected to both God and humanity.

3. Don’t be random

Have a plan for you devotions. Pick a book of the Bible to work through. Add a devotional book to your time with God. Add a good Christian discipleship book to your devotion that will challenge your faith in a strong way. You might want to check out my book, The Descent to Compassion.

4. Record your thoughts and what He is speaking

Write down what you are thinking as you are having your devotional time with God. You can even use a smartphone to record your thoughts to a voice memo. You would be amazed how well this works to keep you engaged in what God is trying to speak into your life.

5. Pass on what you can

Share with others what God is speaking and doing through your life. After all, a relationship with God should and must be shared. Not only should you share some of the things God is speaking to you, but also you should walk out works of kindness before the world so they will know you have been with Jesus.

When I Said No To God

November 13, 2012 — 1 Comment

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From my book, The Descent to Compassion

Abruptly I noticed a strange fog begin to fill the church. It came from the opening just above the sanctuary near the back of our church. As the fog settled among the people, I thought my prayers had been answered in the form of a divine miracle, but that was not the case. Ron had taken a few minutes to walk to a nearby store and buy some air freshener. When he returned, he made his way up the back stairs and emptied the cans into the opening, allowing the mist to float down into our meeting place. It was the smell of pine fresh, like one of those car fresheners you hang from a rearview mirror. A divine answer to prayer it wasn’t, but the attempt to improve the smell was noted by everyone. I wish I could say the air freshener was successful, but the smell of the man still cut through everything. My only option was to quickly bring the service to an end. I concluded the message with an altar call, and a few people came forward to pray. After praying at the altar, the service was completed, but God was just beginning. The King of the Homeless stood alone, untouched by anyone. No one in the church was getting near him, and no one was speaking with him. I knew he was still there, so I kept my distance hoping that he would just leave. It was then that God spoke to me: “Hug him.” His voice was clean, pure, and holy. God waited on me. My response was fast, without thought. “No!” Again, God spoke: “Hug him.”

God spoke for the last time, more insistent than before: “I said, give him a hug!” Chills ran through my body and my heart felt fear. I was suddenly aware that I was standing on holy ground. Testing ground. Proving ground. And, God waited. I turned toward the unknown stranger, and he seemed to be waiting just for me. Years later, reflecting on this moment in my life, I’m fascinated that in Scripture we see nature always obeying God, we see demons always obeying God, but when God speaks to us, His children, we seem to debate obedience. I approached him slowly, and he stood perfectly still. As I embraced him, his smell was overpowering, and I wanted to run, but when he embraced me, something strange happened. Something heavenly took place. I was changed, I was broken, and I was being set free. My body was warm and I could feel blood rushing to the surface of my skin. I could feel God’s presence and it was holy, loving and perfect. The smell departed in the presence of God. Just like the man in the Bible with leprosy, all this man actually needed was a touch when no one would touch him. I wish I could say that he was the one changed that day by my preaching, but I was the one actually changed by his hug. It was at that moment I discovered that the homeless, the untouchables are, in fact, truly touchable, and they will teach you more about God and yourself than you will ever teach them.

Wright, Steve (2012-03-18). The Descent To Compassion (pp. 21-22).  . Kindle Edition.

BUY A COPY

 

legacyEvery person wants to be remembered. We want to be remembered, not only in this present time, but we also want to be remembered after we are gone. Today, I encourage you to take an inventory of your life in light of leaving a legacy behind.

You will be remembered. You will leave some kind of Legacy. Legacies are not born; legacies are cultivated one day at a time. The legacy you leave behind is both a choice on your part, and a voice to those that follow behind you. What you do in the here and now will be remembered by someone forever and what you do in the here and now will follow you into eternity.

Here are a few ways to leave a legacy print on the world around you.

 

1. Acknowledge Christ

Your walk with Christ is the most valuable part of your life. Words are powerful, but your walk speaks much louder. In order to have a strong walk, you must have an intimate relationship with Christ daily, and moment-by-moment. Proverbs 3:6 tells us, “in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” In other words, allow God into every part of your walk.

2. Encourage at all times

Think ahead of the next person you run into by asking yourself, “After I encounter this person, what will they say about me 20 years from now?” You can make a choice about how you want people to talk about you in the future, by making the right choice in the now. You have the power to lift people up or to tear people down. Don’t choose the latter. Matthew 5:16 tells us, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

3. Live beyond yourself

Yes, you must take care of yourself. Yes, you are valuable, but the greatest life you can live is a life that is lived beyond yourself, for the sake of others and for the glory of God. You need to make your life about something much grander than yourself.  John 15:13 tells us, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

4. Don’t be inconsistent

The voice of action deep inside of you is the Holy Spirit speaking to act. Listen to that voice and obey. God will get the glory, and you will create a lasting legacy. When you hear God speak to do an act of kindness…obey, obey, obey! God is trying to use you, and that is a great way to develop a lasting legacy. I’ve often said to the church I pastor, “Demons obey God; nature obeys God, but people struggle with it.” Make the choice to obey God without struggling, and you will be amazed at how grand and full your life will become. Divine moments are all around you if you will only see them.

To go deeper with leaving a legacy and living a life of compassion, get a copy of my book, The Descent to Compassion.

 

Armpit Verses And Lights

October 2, 2012 — 2 Comments

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Luke 6:27-38
27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

I’m a dedicated hunter. I get up early during hunting season, and head out the door long before the sun comes up. I love it. One of the places I hunt is way out in the country and just getting there in the dark of the night is quite difficult. There is one area of road that is about 5 miles long near the land I hunt and has more curves in it than a Monte Carlo racetrack. I drive slow and careful as the headlights light the way. Nothing is odd about that because that is what you do on a country curvy road in the dark.

Now let me share a situation and then submit a question. Suppose I was driving that same road in the dark of the night and decided to turn my lights off and navigate the road in the dark. What would you think about that decision?

You would think I’ve lost my ever-loving mind. You would think I was mad because the natural thing that is going to happen sooner or later is…I’m going to run off the road and wreck. Just like turning my light off on a curvy road in the country would be crazy, so is turning your light out on an enemy.

Jesus said in Matthew 5 “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your father which is in heaven.”

When you and I turn our light out on our enemies, it’s only a matter of time until we run off the road and bring dishonor to God’s love.

It’s our call and duty as Christians to shine our light on the just and the unjust because it’s the God thing to do. We know deep down these verses are the right way to live, the kingdom way to live, but knowing and doing are two different things. So what does God have to say about loving our enemies?

Some verses in the bible I call armpit verses. We prefer to put deodorant on them and move on. Luke 6 is a great example of some of these armpit verses. However, Don’t look at that passage as a list of moral rules to put a check beside of when you achieve them from time to time. Instead, look at it, as it truly is- the true character of God and the character that should be in his children.

N.T. Wright once said this, “Think of the best thing you can do for the worst person, and go ahead and do it. Think of what you’d really like someone to do for you, and do it for them. Think of the people to whom you are tempted to be nasty, and lavish generosity on them instead. These instructions have a fresh, springlike quality. They are all about new life bursting out energetically, like flowers growing through concrete and startling everyone with their colour and vigour.”

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When the disciples finished eating, they headed back to the well where they left Jesus. Their conversation is very shallow, and their bellies are full. They left behind some money for the meal but nothing life changing the way they could have or should have. Leaving the town, they cut across the harvest field and see Jesus way off in the distance speaking with someone, with a woman! They were confused and wondered why.

Jesus meanwhile ask the woman to get her husband and she “answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that, you spoke truly.” We now see why she had been coming to the well in the heat of noonday. Shame and guilt held her captive. Jesus continues and as the conversation nears the end, He shares with her that He is the Messiah.

As the disciples arrive at the well, they watch as the woman walks away with her water pot. They have no clue she is walking away a different person, but that is truly what has just happened. They went into town and shared Christ with no one. Jesus stayed outside the town and shared eternal life with the woman.

The disciples then offer Jesus some food, and the life-changing lesson begins. Jesus says to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” What is that food? Jesus continues, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” He then lifts their attention to the field they just crossed and teaches them about the true harvest that is everywhere.The trouble is, they are just not paying attention, and their prejudice has blinded them.

As the disciples look across the field, Jesus says, “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest?’ Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” Just then something shocking takes place that would be remembered forever and contribute to the changing of these men following Jesus into true Christ followers.

The disciples had went into town and shared Christ with no one, but the woman Jesus had been speaking with went and not only told the people all that had happened but invited them to “‘ Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?’ Then they went out of the city and came to Him.”

What the disciples saw as they lifted their eyes on the field was more than they were ready to handle. People were coming out of the town they just left. They were coming to see Jesus, and they were the true harvest Jesus was speaking of. The disciples went in, and none came out to see Jesus. The Samaritan woman went into the city, and a harvest came following.

Wright, Steve (2012-03-18). The Descent To Compassion © (From Chapter Seven) Kindle Edition.

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