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Inside Out

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When I say that faith is a "heart" rather than a "head" thing, what does that mean to you?  Which one sounds better than the other, just right off the top of your head.  What's the difference between the two?  

Here's the thing, what you tell yourself about yourself matters far less than how you act.  You can tell yourself (and others) that you are a "good person," but if you live unethically and selfishly, and exhibit hatred, judgment, prejudice, and anger throughout your life---you're actions speak much louder than anything you might be saying. 

Lots of people call themselves Christians and claim to have experienced transformation--the kind of transformation that we've been discussing this week.  But their lives, their actions, the way they conduct themselves show very little evidence that anything about them has changed.  

I know I struggle with this, too.  I have really good intentions to live congruently--to make my outside match my insi…

Belonging To Jesus

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The Greek word christianos, which means "follower of Christ" comes from the word christos which means "anointed one."  But the ending to the Greek word christianos is borrowed from the Latin to denote belonging to, as in property.   

So to say that you are a Christian is so much more than saying that you are a follower of Jesus Christ.  When you say you are a Christian you are essentially saying that you "belong to Jesus" or as Paul puts it, you are "in Christ."  

When we say that we follow or belong to Jesus, we are identifying ourselves as part of something that is far greater than we are--we are declaring that we are set apart from the ordinary.  We have no fear of the future because we are filled with unbelievable, childlike hope.  

As I mentioned yesterday, we have been emancipated from our past, and from the things that used to define us.  And we declare unequivocally that we are no longer owned by the things of this world--our allegiance is …

New

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Almost every day of my life, I do things that make me dissatisfied in myself.  I yell at my kids.  I get impatient when I am driving around slow people, when I'm waiting in line at Chipotle, when I can't do all of the things I need to in a day...  the list is pretty long.  

If we are being honest, most of us struggle to be the people we know that we should be. 

And what we tend to hear most of the time from other Christians is that we can get it all together, we can overcome our feelings of inadequacy by reading that next Christian self-help book about 13 ways to be a better parent/wife/husband/child/church member/American... or going to church more often, being more religious, trying harder, keeping more rules...  

But as Craig Groeschel writes: Religious behavior can make you nice, but it won't make you new.  

As Christians we say we believe that following Jesus makes you new.  You can be a new creation. Like the Apostle Paul said, "the old has gone, the new has come.&q…

The Creed - Week Five: The Forgiveness Of Sins

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I was five years old when I learned a valuable lesson about confession and forgiveness--a lesson I have never forgotten to this day. 

Can I tell you that at five years old, I was a straight up theologian?  

Seriously.  By the time I was five I had heard scores of sermons, endured countless altar calls in the little Baptist church we attended, and because of this I knew one unalterable fact:  If I sincerely asked God to forgive me---no matter what I had done---God would forgive me.  

So on that fateful day in the grocery store when I was--to coin a very Southern term--acting a fool, and my mom, who is the most patient human being on the planet told me I was getting a whooping when I got home... I decided that the only thing left to me was to bring it to God. 

I found a spot by a stack of canned beans and started to pray.  The fact that I can recall that I was praying by a stack of canned beans is beyond me.  Of all of the details of things I can't remember about yesterday---I can remem…

Just Like Riding A Bike

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My littlest boy just turned seven and received a "big boy" bike for his birthday.  

His new bike sits a little higher, brakes differently and is a bit harder for him to handle than his old bike.  Still, every day he rides he gains more skills, and becomes more and more confident.

But I have noticed that when he encounters atypical circumstances--a hard turn, a sudden drop, a steep hill--he tends to lose that confidence and overcompensates by sticking his leg out to stop, turning too hard, or any number of things that result in a spill, and occasionally some frustrated tears.  

What I know that he doesn't is that at some point he'll become adept enough at riding that he won't be moving out in front of his skill.  

This realization got me thinking about how so many of us often find ourselves in circumstances that invite us to move ahead in our faith into unfamiliar territories and new paths--sometimes beyond our comfortable beliefs and traditions.

Oswald Chambers once w…

Rescued

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Yesterday I was listening to a news story about an American couple who were vacationing on the island of  St. Maarten when Hurricane Irma made landfall.  They spoke of their harrowing ordeal, the destruction of their hotel, and eventually their rescue.  

Think about what it means to be rescued.  Here, maybe this will help... think about the greatest rescue movies of all time. What would be on your list?  Here's a short list of mine:

1. Schindler's List - I mean come on, this has to be number one.
2. Black Hawk Down - more than just a guy flick
3. Last of the Mohicans - "whatever shall occur... I will find you!"
4. The Searchers - classic John Wayne movie
5. Taken - Liam Neeson comes for his daughter and kills everyone else
6. Castaway - Tom Hanks & Wilson traverse the ocean
7. Rambo I, II, III, IV, Whatever 

Every one of these movies taps into something that is at the heart of each of us---when we are in trouble, when the way forward isn't clear, we want to know that …

Habits Is As Habits Does

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It takes discipline to achieve the things we long for in life--to be the people we want to be.  And discipline is nothing more than developing the right kinds of habits. 

This is the point where some of us check out. We hear the word discipline and we think all kinds of things--most of them bad.  

When I was in second grade I got paddled in school just about every day for a period of a month or so.  It seems I couldn't remember to pick up the proper folder from my cubby when we changed subjects in the classroom.  When you forgot your folder you got a mark on the board.  After a few marks on the board you got a paddling.  When I think of discipline, that's what I tend to think about, so I get it.

We might believe that we aren't disciplined enough to effect transformation in our lives, but we always do what is important to us.  We will develop habits around these values---and we become what we repeatedly do. 
But true discipline--the kind that matters, the kind that can truly ch…