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"Let us reason together…" Isaiah 1:18

Posts categorized Realized Potential

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The Possibilities when the Spirit, Soul and Body Align with the Thoughts, Nature and Character of God

Becoming a person of fully realized potential requires embracing the world of possibilities.

 

What are the possibilities for you when your spirit, soul and body are all in alignment with the thoughts, nature and character of God, in whose image you are created?

 

What is the nature of the link between the non-material spirit and soul to the material body?

 

Although limited research into the spirit/body connection exists, we have significant data regarding the mind/body dynamic.

 

Dr. Ellen Langer is prolific among “Psychology of Possibility” researchers.  The research she published in “Counter Clockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility,” includes a most delightful and interesting project.

 

To what extent can the mind influence the body? If I smelled a fresh donut and imagined eating it, would my blood sugar rise? Would people fully convinced that their teeth are in excellent condition have healthier-looking X-rays at their annual checkups? Do men who become bald at a young age and thus see themselves as prematurely old test as older physiologically than men their age with a full head of hair? Do women who undergo cosmetic surgery and see a more youthful self in the mirror age more slowly? The questions may seem a bit “out there,” but they were worth asking.  Langer, Ellen J.. Counterclockwise (p. 5). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

 

Michelle Gielan, in Broadcasting Happiness:  The Science of Igniting and Sustaining Positive Change, summarizes Dr. Langer’s initial study.

 

The brilliant maverick Harvard professor Dr. Ellen Langer has been designing studies for four decades that prove our mental story affects our health. In a single study Dr. Langer cracked the code and scientifically reversed signs of aging. She did not accomplish this with expensive creams or plastic surgery but simply by telling a different story about aging. This happened almost three decades ago, but it still has yet to be learned by the general public. “Welcome to the year 1959!” Dr. Langer said in 1979, as she invited a group of seventy-five-year-old men to go on a weeklong retreat as part of a large-scale psychology experiment.7 The men had been told one thing only before coming to the retreat: They could not bring any newspapers, photographs, or books from the past twenty years of their lives. Langer and her team took these men twenty years back in time to the late fifties by refitting the retreat center with items recalling the year 1959, when these men were fifty-five years old, such as Saturday Evening Posts and Life magazines. Each man received a badge with his name on it and a photo of himself from 1959. They were told to talk only about their jobs and lives from that time period. Langer had a daring hypothesis: The human aging process was mediated by what we tell ourselves about our life stories. And this seemingly off-the-wall study showed she was right. Langer tested the men for signs of aging before and after the week, and the results were mind-blowing.  Gielan, Michelle. Broadcasting Happiness: The Science of Igniting and Sustaining Positive Change (pp. 11-12). BenBella Books, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

 

Dr. Langer explains the day to day activities of the research group.

 

Once at the retreat, we met daily to discuss current events such as the 1958 (“last year” in the case of the experimental group) launch of the first U.S. satellite, Explorer 1; the need for bomb shelters; and Castro’s advance into Havana. A talk on communism became very heated, as did a recap of the Baltimore Colts’: 31–16 defeat of the New York Giants in the NFL championship game. We listened as Royal Orbit won the Preakness, watched Sgt. Bilko and Ed Sullivan on a black-and-white television, and shared our thoughts about “recent” books such as Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger, Leon Uris’s Exodus, and Philip Roth’s Goodbye Columbus. Jack Benny and Jackie Gleason made us laugh; Perry Como, Rosemary Clooney, and Nat “King” Cole sang on the radio, and we watched movies like The Diary of Anne Frank, Ben Hur, North by Northwest, and Some Like It Hot. Langer, Ellen J.. Counterclockwise (pp. 9-10). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

 

Michelle Gielan summarizes the results of the research.

 

After one week of reliving life in their mid-fifties, the men showed, on average, statistically significant improvements in strength, posture, flexibility, memory, and intelligence. Even more incredible, the men’s eyesight improved by an average of 10 percent! Even naive raters—people who had never met the men—viewed pictures of the men at week’s end and judged them as looking an average of three years younger.

Gielan, Michelle. Broadcasting Happiness: The Science of Igniting and Sustaining Positive Change (pp. 11-12). BenBella Books, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

 

God’s word has much to say about the possibilities that exist in the spirit/soul/body link within the Christian person.

 

Consider Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”  Jesus is I AM in all three.  Not so for you and me.  I was, I am, I will be.

 

What I am is not my greatest limiting factor.  An inadequate understanding of what I can be is the major limitation.

 

  • My understanding of what I was can limit my understanding of what I can be.
  • My understanding of what I am can limit my understanding of what I can be.

 

Knowing what I am and knowing what I can be are two different things.

 

What are the possibilities before you when you tune your spirit, soul and body to the frequency of God and His word?

 

Consider the possibilities of your spirit impacting your body as revealed in Proverbs 18:14.

 

A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?

 

Notice the positive impact the healthy spirit has on the human body with infirmity.  Also, we see the negative impact a wounded spirit has on the body.

 

Look what possibilities exist when you present your body and mind to God.  Romans 12:1, 2

 

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

Soak in the positive results of presenting your body and mind to God.

 

  • Holy and acceptable to God
  • Spiritual worship
  • Transformed
  • Discern the will of God
  • Discern what is good and acceptable and perfect

 

What you view as impossible in your spirit significantly impacts your body and soul.

What you view as impossible in your body significantly impacts your spirit and soul.

What you view as impossible in your soul significantly impacts your spirit and body.

I can become a person of fully realized potential when I embrace the world of possibilities of a God aligned spirit, soul and body.

 

Jesus said, in Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

 

With the Psalmist in Psalm 43:5, let us talk to ourselves.

 

  • “Spirit, with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
  • “Soul, with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
  • “Body, with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Listen – My Story

  • Do you have a personal story of a time when your emotions (soul) impacted your body?
  • Do you have a personal story of a time when your body impacted your spirit?

 

Learn – Digging Deeper

  • Please talk about the interrelationships between the spirit, soul and body in the following passages:
    • Proverbs 17:22
    • Proverbs 15:13
    • Proverbs 15:15
    • Proverbs 14:30
  • Please read Philippians 4:8. What might be the benefits of obedience to this passage for your spirit, soul and body?

 

Lift – Prayer

  • Please pray for the team who traveled from Texas to upgrade the MCA Children’s Ministry Center for the upcoming Champions Club.
  • Please pray for the role you will serve in the July 4th outreach event.
  • Please pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon the July 4th
  • Please pray for things or situations in the spirit, soul and body of your life group members.

 

Life – Taking it Home

  • Is there something you need to add or subtract in your spirit, soul or body?
  • What possibility in your spirit, soul and body do you need to encourage today?
Posted on 22nd June 2019 in Realized Potential, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Becoming People of Realized Potential: The Holy Spirit Upon Us

We become people of fully realized potential when the Holy Spirit comes upon us (including our body).

 

We are investigating the complete integration of the spirit, soul and body for purposes of reaching our maximum potential in Christ.

 

In a previous message we considered the two-tiered philosophy of our day.  For example, the SCOTUS determined in Roe vs. Wade that an embryo and fetus are human but not person.

 

The dangerous two-tiered philosophy may show up in Christian thought in relationship to spirit, soul and body.  “I am spirit and soul with no emphasis upon body.”

 

In this life, I have no potential without or outside my body.

 

One of the most important, yet extremely difficult things in life is to properly approach the Bible.

 

We can first hold our beliefs and then read and understand the Bible through our beliefs OR we can first read and understand the Bible and then form our beliefs.

 

In the first scenario, I force the Bible to say what I want it to say.  In the second, the Bible forces me to believe and respond to what God has said.

 

Let’s lay aside all of our beliefs about our relationship with the Holy Spirit and see what the Bible says and then come back and form our beliefs.

God gives us three primary position terms for our relationship with the Holy Spirit.

 

The three position terms of our relationship with the Holy Spirit are with (para), in (en) and upon (epi).

 

The Holy Spirit is With

 

  • 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. John 14:15-17
  • “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me;10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer;11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

 

The Holy Spirit In

 

  • 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:15-17
  • 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:11-14
  • 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19

 

The Holy Spirit Upon

 

  • 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

What happens in the human body when the Spirit comes upon?  1 Samuel 10:1-7

 

Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, “Has not the Lord anointed you to be prince over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies. And this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you to be prince over his heritage.2 When you depart from me today, you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah, and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has ceased to care about the donkeys and is anxious about you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”’ 3 Then you shall go on from there farther and come to the oak of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine.4 And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from their hand. 5 After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, where there is a garrison of the Philistines. And there, as soon as you come to the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre before them, prophesying. 6 Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. 7 Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you.

 

In this passage we see:

 

  • Anointing 1
  • Obedience 2-5
  • The Spirit Rushes Upon 6

 

Samuel declares two results of the Spirit coming upon Saul, prophesy and becoming a new person.

 

When the Holy Spirit comes upon a person, throughout the entire Bible, Spirit inspired speech follows.

 

  • Speech Inspired by the Holy Spirit
  • Speech in a language previously unknown
  • Speech in a language of the spirit

 

When the Holy Spirit comes upon a person, the person experiences…..

 

  • Creativity beyond human natural capacity. Genesis 1

 

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.  Genesis 1:1, 2

 

30 Then Moses said to the people of Israel, “See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, 32 to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, 33 in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. 34 And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. 35 He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer.  Exodus 35:30-35

 

  • Empowered living beyond human natural power. Judges 6:34

 

But the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon, and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him.

 

  • The birthing of things of God beyond human natural capacity. Luke 1:26-38

 

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

 

Jesus, our Great Example, experienced the Holy Spirit descending upon Him.  Luke 4:18, 19

 

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

 

Again, notice the connection of the Spirit and anointing.

 

In this portion of our weekend worship, we will anoint one another with the following prayer.

 

“As I anoint you with oil, may the Holy Spirit come upon you as He came upon Jesus, those in the Upper Room and millions of Christians since then.  May you be clothed with the Spirit’s speech, creativity and power.  May new things of God be born within and through you as the Spirit rushes in upon you and you become a new person.”

MCA LIFE GROUP HOMEWORK

Listen – My Story

  • When was the first time you heard about the Holy Spirit or your first experience with Him?
  • Do you have a favorite Holy Spirit experience? Maybe a time when he was with, in or upon you?

 

Learn – Digging Deeper

  • Pease read Joel 2:28-29.
  • Which preposition for the relationship with the Holy Spirit is used?
  • Who will be the recipients of the relationship?
  • What will these recipients do as a result of this relationship?
  • Please read Acts 2:1-16
  • How might Peter have known the Acts 2 experience was a fulfillment of Joel 2?
  • As God fulfills Joel 2 in your life today, how will you know?

 

Lift – Prayer

  • Please pray for the many MCA folks who are asking the Spirit to come upon them with creativity, empowerment and a longing for new things of God to be born in and through them.
  • Pray for those who desire to have Holy Spirit inspired speech and to experience the “rushing in upon” that produces a brand-new person.

 

Life – Taking it Home

  • What in practical day to day things, do you desire the Holy Spirit to do in and through you?
  • What do you need to consider changing in order to become more comfortable with the Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit?
Posted on 8th June 2019 in Realized Potential, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Becoming People of Fully Realized Potential: Our Bodies

We become people of fully realized potential in and through our bodies.

 

I am me.  The human is created by God as a three-part unity; spirit, soul and body.

 

  • Without my spirit, I am not fully me.
  • Without my soul, I am not fully me.
  • Without my body, I am not fully me.

 

For some reason, in God’s human trinity, the Christian’s body is often mistreated, abused and neglected even while special care is given to the soul and spirit.

 

Neither the spirit, soul or body is more important than the other.  Consider 1 Thessalonians 5:23.

 

23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Paul’s prayer is two-fold.

 

  1. For God to sanctify you completely, your whole spirit and soul and body.
  2. And for your whole spirit and soul and body to be kept blameless.

 

In 1973 people opposed to God’s total integration of spirit and soul and body won their day in the Supreme Court of the United States with Roe vs. Wade.

 

Essentially, the Court threw out the entirety of Biblical anthropology (a wholistic view of the human being) with the philosophy “that even though the baby in the womb is human, it is not a person under the Fourteenth Amendment.”  Love Thy Body, Nancy Pearcey pre-release.

 

Maybe this two-tiered “human non-person” concept has infiltrated the western Christian world-view?

 

It appears many western Christian’s perspective is a two-tiered, “spirit and soul but non-body” concept.  Apart from thinking like this, how can we explain the gigantic disregard many Christians give to their human body?

 

God speaks directly to the world’s low view of the body by honoring the human body.

 

  • So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
  • For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
    14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:13-14
  • I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1
  • 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:20
  • Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? 1 Corinthians 6:19

 

Becoming a human person of fully realized potential in Christ requires me to embrace, honor and discipline my body.

 

Righteousness and wickedness require a body.  There is no “disembodied” righteousness or wickedness.

 

Our earlier passage, 1 Thessalonians 5:23 is preceded by many things one might find in the body.

 

12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,[c] encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always,17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

 

Respect

 

 

Esteem

 

Peace

 

Idle

 

Fainthearted, weak, patient

Do not repay evil but seek to do good

 

Rejoice, Pray, give thanks

 

Do not quench, do not despise, but test

 

Abstain

 

Your fullest potential in Christ includes growing and maintaining bodily discipline and control.

 

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.  1 Corinthians 9:24-27

 

In an almost shocking revelation Paul states a lack of personal bodily discipline and control may disqualify me from the imperishable prize.

Even after we have not been disqualified, we will be judged according to “the deeds we have done in the body.”

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

 

May we make this a season of personal bodily discipline and control as we pursue our fullest potential in Christ.

MCA LIFE GROUP HOMEWORK

Listen – My Story

  • What is your favorite aspect of your God created body?
  • In your upbringing, do you recall if the human body was blessed, cursed or ignored? Do you see any lasting impact from that upbringing on your perspectives of the human body?

Learn – Digging Deeper

  • Pease read Jeremiah 1:4, 5. At what point in time was Jeremiah a person?
  • Please read Psalm 139.
    • Does the Psalmist hold to a high or low view of the human body?
    • Consider verse 16. Did the Psalmist have personhood prior to birth?
    • Does the human body have value according to verse 15?
  • What verses come to mind when you think of being more disciplined and in control of your body?

Lift – Prayer

  • Please pray for the many MCA folks who are experiencing difficulties in their bodies.
  • Please pray for each life group member’s highest “bodily discipline” priority.

Life – Taking it Home

  • What do you need to do today to “discipline your body and bring it under control?”
  • Who can you add to your circle of influence to encourage you and for you to encourage to be disciplined and personally controlled in your body?
Posted on 1st June 2019 in Realized Potential, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Realized Potential: Childhood is the foundation

Childhood is the foundation upon which each person builds into their full potential in Christ.

 

Today we consider the 127th Psalm.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

 

The Psalmist reveals a connection between daily labor and family life.

 

In Psalm 127 the house is the temple and the city is Jerusalem.  In this way, the Psalmist connects ministry unto the Lord and unto one’s family as intimately intertwined.

 

  • The temple isn’t the Lord’s heritage in your life, as amazing as it was.
  • The city isn’t the Lord’s heritage in your life, as majestic as Jerusalem was.
  • Anxious work isn’t the Lord’s heritage in your life, as all-consuming as it is.
  • Children are the heritage of the Lord in our lives.

 

In “The Book of Lost Things” John Connolly wrote, “For in every adult there dwells the child that was, and in every child there lies the adult that will be.”

Reaching one’s fullest potential in Christ requires coming to terms with the “child that was.”

 

Somehow our fullest potential in Christ invites us to make Jesus Lord over the magic and madness of our “child that was.”

 

In presenting my happiness and hurts, dreams and disasters, shocks and surprises, delights and disappointments from my “child that was” to the Lordship of Jesus, I cooperate with God for reaching my fullest potential.

 

“You know, I do believe in magic. I was born and raised in a magic time, in a magic town, among magicians. Oh, most everybody else didn’t realize we lived in that web of magic, connected by silver filaments of chance and circumstance. But I knew it all along. When I was twelve years old, the world was my magic lantern, and by its green spirit glow I saw the past, the present and into the future. You probably did too; you just don’t recall it. See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves.

After you go so far away from it, though, you can’t really get it back. You can have seconds of it. Just seconds of knowing and remembering. When people get weepy at movies, it’s because in that dark theater the golden pool of magic is touched, just briefly. Then they come out into the hard sun of logic and reason again and it dries up, and they’re left feeling a little heartsad and not knowing why. When a song stirs a memory, when motes of dust turning in a shaft of light takes your attention from the world, when you listen to a train passing on a track at night in the distance and wonder where it might be going, you step beyond who you are and where you are. For the briefest of instants, you have stepped into the magic realm.

That’s what I believe.

The truth of life is that every year we get farther away from the essence that is born within us. We get shouldered with burdens, some of them good, some of them not so good. Things happen to us. Loved ones die. People get in wrecks and get crippled. People lose their way, for one reason or another. It’s not hard to do, in this world of crazy mazes. Life itself does its best to take that memory of magic away from us. You don’t know it’s happening until one day you feel you’ve lost something but you’re not sure what it is. It’s like smiling at a pretty girl and she calls you “sir.” It just happens.

These memories of who I was and where I lived are important to me. They make up a large part of who I’m going to be when my journey winds down. I need the memory of magic if I am ever going to conjure magic again. I need to know and remember, and I want to tell you.”  Robert R. McCammon, Boy’s Life

 

Maybe Jesus included your “child that was” when He said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

 

In coming to terms with my “child that was” I can become life-giving to today’s children who are contemplating the “adult that will be.”

 

Tennis player Novak Djokovic once said, “Building a solid foundation in the early years of a child’s life will not only help him or her reach their full potential but will also result in better societies as a whole.”

 

“No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a boy.”  Johnny Barnes, founder of the boy’s ministry, Royal Rangers

 

My fullest potential in Christ is a journey into “the child that was” and helping children with the “adult that will be.”

We have identified the top two priorities of MCA Church.

 

  1. Everyone in attendance has a vibrant and energizing encounter with the presence of God.
  2. Children and teens come to faith in Jesus as personal Savior and grow in their relationship with Him.

 

Today I have the exquisite delight of officially announcing two of the most amazing ministries the Lord is calling us to present to South Central Alaska;

  • King’s Castle
  • Champions

King’s Castle is a ministry concept designed for children and teens to be saved, filled with the Holy Spirit and then to grow through the administration of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Children and teens growing and moving in the Holy Spirit’s giftings in their lives is POWERFUL.

 

Champions Club is a specially designed developmental area for kids, youth, and adults with special needs. Our goal was to develop a program that would meet the developmental needs of children in four important ways: SPIRITUALLY, INTELLECTUALLY, MENTALLY, and PHYSICALLY. Our focus is on spiritual growth through God’s Word, developing the intellect of each participant through the five senses, educationally through various learning tools, as well as engaging the child physically during active gross motor fun.

 

God’s great work in the world today is for you, your children and your children’s children!  Glory to God!

 

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”  Acts 2:38, 39

 

 

Posted on 18th May 2019 in Realized Potential, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Commitment: Are Humans Trouble for God?

As we seek to become people of fully realized potential, we ask a most vital question, “Is God committed to me and to the realization of my fullest potential?”

 

From Heidi Reeder, author of Commit to Win: How to Harness the Four Elements of Commitment to Reach Your Goals, we understand her perspective of the scientific equation of commitment.

 

(Treasure – Troubles) + Contributions – Choices = Commitment

 

When we consider God’s relationship with us through the framework of Heidi Reeder’s commitment equation will we find that He is committed to us?

 

In a previous presentation we determined those who actively trust in Jesus for salvation are treasured by God.

 

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.  Jeremiah 31:3

 

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine.  Exodus 19:5

 

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”  Deuteronomy 7:6

 

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  1 Peter 2:9, 10

 

The commitment equation requires us to subtract from the treasure quotient the degree to which the entity is troublesome.

 

Therefore, in determining God’s commitment to me, it is urgent for me to consider:

 

  1. Are human beings trouble for God?
  2. If so, how does the trouble I cause Him impact His commitment to me?

 

Our Resurrection Sunday teaching highlighted “The Impossible Possibility” as a moniker for Jesus.  Being fully human and fully God, Jesus was both impossible and possible.

 

  • Man can’t be God, but Jesus is.
  • God can’t be human, but Jesus is.

 

In what we might call a Divine Paradox, opposites are both equally true in God.

 

“A paradox is a statement that, despite apparently valid reasoning from true premises, leads to an apparently-self-contradictory or logically unacceptable conclusion.  A paradox involves contradictory-yet-interrelated elements that exist simultaneously and persist over time.”  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox

 

True Premise One

 

God cannot be troubled.

 

True Premise Two

 

God is troubled by human beings.

 

Christians who are uncomfortable with paradox create ways to remove tension from the Biblical record.  In understanding today’s Old Testament text (Genesis 6:5-8), for example, their belief requires them to remove the tension created by the troubling of God by humans.

 

“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”

 

Notice what is happening in the heart of God in verse 6 and 7.

 

  1. The Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth,
  2. And it grieved him to his heart.
  3. For I am sorry that I have made them.

 

God’s response to “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” was “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land.”

 

God’s response is not in anger but from His heart of great compassion that was grieved and sorrowful.

 

The vengeance of God is the other side of His great compassion.

 

Since God is totally committed to His creation He must take action against that which destroys it.

 

Since God loves humanity, He must take action against that which destroys humanity.

 

In the Genesis flood, mankind experienced the other side of God’s compassion; His vengeance.

 

Humanity today is no better than the humanity of Noah’s day.  Their rebellion is our rebellion.  Their wickedness is our wickedness.

 

It is truly a paradox, an impossible possibility.  Although God cannot be troubled, you and I trouble the heart of God.

 

Notice the shift in the heart of God following the flood.  Genesis 8:21-22

 

And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

 

Walter Brueggemann states this change beautifully.

 

What has happened is a change wrought in the heart of God, who will no longer take vengeance.  The move in God’s heart from 6:5-7 to 8:21 suggests that instead of humankind suffering, God takes the suffering as “his” own.  God resolves to turn the grief in on “himself” rather than to rage against “his” creation.  God bears the vengeance of God in order that “his” creation can have compassion.  Praying the Psalms, page 77

 

Since my sin (like Noah’s generation) is troubling for God, how then will I experience the other side of God’s great compassion (vengeance)?

 

In what ways will I experience the anger of God?  The wrath of God?  The judgement of God?

 

Some people will argue, “God is love and He cannot be grieved, filled with sorrow or anger.  He never pours out wrath and judgement.”

 

Richard Niebuhr perceived this view in 1937.  “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” The Kingdom of God in America, New York: Harper & Row, 1959 [1937], p. 193.

 

God’s great compassion and the other side of His compassion are the same yesterday, today and forever.  This isn’t a new day in which the God of the Old Testament somehow came to His senses and overcame a wrath problem.

 

Jesus’ death on the cross is the new flood.

 

The death of Jesus on the cross is the new ark.

 

I need not experience the vengeance and wrath of God because “Jesus, God’s son, took my place.”

 

On the cross God decisively demonstrated His great compassion for me.  Because He loves me, He destroyed that which would destroy me.

 

On the cross God decisively demonstrated the other side of His great compassion, His vengeance.  Because He loves me, He took His vengeance in upon Himself.

 

Notice the Bible’s revelation of the other side of God’s compassion for those who reject His provision on the cross.

 

Romans 1:18

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

 

Romans 2:5

But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

 

Romans 2:8

but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

 

The Gospel is GOOD NEWS!  God is the Impossible Possibility.

 

On the cross He has given us His compassion and taken the other side of His compassion in upon Himself.

 

In trusting Jesus you and I are the recipients of God’s great compassion.

 

Romans 5:9

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:9

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

 

Am I trouble for God?  Yes, in every way.

 

Am I trouble for God?  No, He took my trouble and His response to my trouble in upon Himself.

 

God is committed to me.

 

God treasures me.

 

God’s Son became my trouble.

 

God’s Son contributed His all for me in receiving God’s vengeance and wrath for my trouble.

What must I “take in upon myself” so that my closest friends and my tribe receive God’s compassion through me?

 

My fullest potential is only realized when I place my trust in Jesus’ ministry on the cross and extend this same love and grace to others.  John 15:12, 13

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

MCA LIFE GROUP HOME WORK

Listen – My Story

  • What is the most delightful recent addition to your life story?
  • In what ways did you access Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames for your evangelism ministry?

Learn – Digging Deeper

  • How comfortable are you with Biblical revelation of God’s wrath, anger or judgement? Consider John 3:36
  • How comfortable are you with the Biblical revelation that in trusting Jesus for salvation He takes our place? Read Romans 5:6-11 and talk through the various things Jesus has done for us.

Lift – Prayer

  • How would you like your Life Group to pray for you today?
  • Is there someone you hope receives the wrath of God? Ask God to change your heart.  Pray for them.
  • Do you carry condemnation from something you have already confessed to God in repentance? Pray to trust God’s promise of removing His wrath.

Life – Taking it Home

  • What is the Holy Spirit asking you to add, delete or recalibrate in your life?
  • God’s commitment to you is costly beyond measure. To whom must you reflect costly commitment this week?

 

Posted on 4th May 2019 in Realized Potential, Uncategorized, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Thomas Sunday: Confess and Believe

Proper confession and belief are vital to growing to your full potential in Christ.

“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Romans 10:9-10

Confessions are not true and life-giving because I confess them.  I confess them because they are true and life-giving.

Beliefs are not true and life-giving because I believe them.  I believe them because they are true and life giving.

The most succinct and powerful of all confessions is “Jesus is Lord.”  Romans 10:9

The most succinct and powerful of all beliefs is “God raised Jesus from the dead.” Romans 10:9

Confessions and beliefs are integrated matters of the mouth and the heart.

  • What you confess with your mouth should be what you believe in your heart.
  • What you believe in your heart should be what you confess with your mouth.

Confession without belief is hypocrisy.

Belief without confession is doubtful and incomplete.

Notice the confess/believe tension in John 12:42-44

42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

Early Christians, expanding upon the “Jesus is Lord” creed, unified the Apostles’ beliefs and teaching into what is known as the Apostles’ Creed.

This creed is called the Apostles’ Creed not because it was produced by the apostles themselves but because it contains a brief summary of their teachings. It sets forth their doctrine “in sublime simplicity, in unsurpassable brevity, in beautiful order, and with liturgical solemnity.”” https://www.crcna.org/welcome/beliefs/creeds/apostles-creed

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic* church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

*that is, the true Christian church of all times and all places

Creedal scholar Jaroslav Pelikan has collected and evaluated “nearly 1,000” Christian creeds.  In various times, places and cultures the Apostles’ teaching has been woven into relevant creeds.

Masai Creed

We believe in the one High God, who out of love created the beautiful world and everything good in it. He created Man and wanted Man to be happy in the world. God loves the world and every nation and tribe on the Earth. We have known this High God in darkness, and now we know Him in the light. God promised in the book of His word, the Bible, that He would save the world and all the nations and tribes.

We believe that God made good His promise by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, a man in the flesh, a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village, who left His home and was always on safari doing good, curing people by the power of God, teaching about God and man, showing the meaning of religion is love. He was rejected by his people, tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross, and died. He lay buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch him, and on the third day, He rose from the grave. He ascended to the skies. He is the Lord.

We believe that all our sins are forgiven through Him. All who have faith in Him must be sorry for their sins, be baptized in the Holy Spirit of God, live the rules of love and share the bread together in love, to announce the Good News to others until Jesus comes again. We are waiting for Him. He is alive. He lives. This we believe. Amen.

Today’s primary text, John 20:24-29, invites us into the confess/believe struggle with Thomas.

24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Without a doubt Thomas missed it, got it and then changed the world.

The honesty of Thomas confessing what he believed is healthy.  Authentic honesty is necessary.

Thomas’ disbelief of the other disciples’ report, “We have seen the Lord,” is a huge mistake and error.  Mistakes and errors are costly and painful.

Jesus meets Thomas in the place of his disbelief with grace, mercy and love.

Jesus corrects Thomas.  “Do not disbelieve, but believe.”

Thomas immediately corrects his error becoming the only disciple in the Bible to be recorded as confessing Jesus as, “My Lord and my God.”

Jesus then prepares Thomas for a life of ministry that requires believing (and its twin – confessing) BEFORE or WITHOUT seeing.

The Holy Spirit will minister with love, grace and mercy to you when you are in the “Thomas moment” of tension between belief and disbelief.

Like the father in Mark 9:23, 24 we may fully believe and at the same time have room for more belief.

23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can? All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

This week I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised him from the dead because it is with my heart that I believe and am justified and with my mouth that I confess and am saved.

This week I safari with Jesus and trust Him to protect me from the hyenas.

Posted on 27th April 2019 in Realized Potential, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Becoming People of Realized Potential: God’s Commitment to those in Christ Jesus

Interwoven into the human, by God at creation, is the potential to become.

In God’s providence we are blessed with the opportunity to change.

  • We can move from worse to better.

And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.  Luke 22:59-62

Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”  John 21:17-19

  • We can move from better to worse.

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’ Revelation 2:2-7

  • We can move from one type to another.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  2 Corinthians 5:17

With eternity set in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11) we long to transcend the temporary for the permanent.  In changing from worse to better, better to worse or from one kind to another we are faced with the temporariness of our best intentions and most diligent efforts.

Thanks be to God, He is entirely different than this.

God does not change and is not temporary.  He is perfect in every way (thus changeless) and permanent in every way (thus eternal).

There is no worse in God (he is perfect in every way) to change for the better (there is nothing better than His perfection).

There is no better in God (Being perfect, He is best in every way) to move to worse (perfection removes the option of becoming imperfect).

There is no other for God to become.   To become something other is to no longer be God.

To God, nothing can be added.  From God nothing can be subtracted.

Malachi 3:6 states, “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”

Deuteronomy 33:27 features God’s eternality.  “The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

Notice, in Hebrews 6:17-20, the changeless nature of God is a sure and steadfast anchor for our souls.

17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purposehe guaranteed it with an oath18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

From Heidi Reeder, author of Commit to Win: How to Harness the Four Elements of Commitment to Reach Your Goals, we understand the equation of commitment.

(Treasure – Troubles) + Contributions – Choices = Commitment

Applying the best of contemporary commitment science, we can confidently answer the question, “Is God committed to me?”

With current commitment science highlighting “treasure’ as the first integer of the commitment equation, I must ask, “Does God treasure me?”

When I place my trust in Jesus for salvation, I am adopted into Israel.  In this way, I am part of the “people (clans or tribe) of God.”

Consider Jeremiah 31:1, “At that time, declares the Lord, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people.”

As a person in the tribe of God’s new Israel, am I treasured by Him?

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.  Jeremiah 31:3

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine.  Exodus 19:5

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”  Deuteronomy 7:6

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  1 Peter 2:9, 10

These Bible verses place strong emphasis on God’s eternal commitment of love which allows us to become His treasured possession.

To His treasured possessions (Those in Christ Jesus), God is eternally and unchangingly committed.

Yes, God is eternally and unchangingly committed to us.

Therefore, we long for eternal (permanent) and unwavering (changeless) commitment to and from our friends and tribe.

The Apostle Paul reveals his deep longing for his friends and tribe to practice permanent and unwavering commitment.

Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.

14 Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. 15 You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.

16 At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. 17 But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  2 Timothy 4:9-18

May God’s eternal and unchanging commitment to me…

  1. Be reflected in an eternal and unchanging commitment from me to Him.
  2. Be reflected in an eternal and unchanging commitment from me to my closest friends.
  3. Be reflected in an eternal and unchanging commitment from me to my tribe.
Posted on 6th April 2019 in Realized Potential, Uncategorized, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Growing to Our Full Potential in Christ: Commitment

By God’s grace and mercy, we are becoming people of fully realized potential.

Primary Text:  Ruth 1:15-18

15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.

We have identified the four most important decisions every human being decides for becoming people of realized potential.

  1. With who will I travel and stay?
  2. Who are my people?
  3. Who is my God?
  4. Am I fully committed to these three decisions?

Today we begin investigating “Am I fully committed to these three decisions?”

Commitment is the foundation of all great accomplishments. Without commitment, Amelia Earhart wouldn’t have become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Without commitment, Bill Gates wouldn’t have cofounded Microsoft and become one of the wealthiest people in the world. Without commitment, Roger Federer wouldn’t have become the greatest tennis player of all time, continuing to play even after the analysts said he was past his prime. Without commitment, Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher, from James City, North Carolina, would not have been married eighty-six years, garnering the Guinness World Record and a lifetime of love and family. Inspirational stories about commitment are all around, but commitment is also a crucial ingredient for everyday goals, like designing a new marketing plan, training for a triathlon, or even quitting a terrible job so you can move on to something new. Despite its influence, few people truly understand what commitment is or how it’s created.

Reeder, Heidi. Commit to Win (p. 3). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Consider the following as a working definition.  Commitment is the experience of being internally attached to something and intending to stay with it.

God designed and created humans in His image (Genesis 1:27).  God, the Holy Trinity, was, is and always will be “internally attached and intending to stay with it.”

Valuing commitment is part of God’s nature placed inside every human by being created in His image.

Commitment is the living out of our deep desire for permanence.  We do not want anything of value in our lives to be temporary or disposable.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  Ecclesiastes 3:11

The temporary/permanent dilemma is beautifully considered in 1 John 2:17.

And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

We are hardwired by God with longing for life’s most important and meaningful relationships to never pass away but to abide forever.

Commitment includes everything required to ensure these relationships abide forever.

In “Commit to Win: How to Harness the Four Elements of Commitment to Reach Your Goals,” Heidi Reeder summarizes current commitment research in the following equation:

(Treasures – troubles) + Contributions – Choices = Level of Commitment

Treasures                    Rewarding and fulfilling

Troubles                      Challenging and costly

Contributions             Resources invested

Choices                         Other equal or better options

The Apostle Paul weaves all of this together powerfully in 2 Corinthians 4:7-18.

Treasure

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us…

Troubles

17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Contributions

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

Choices

No other options!

This is Paul’s grand slam home run on the temporary/permanent dilemma!

18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Considerations for increasing my experience of being internally attached and intending to stay with it (Him).

  1. Treasure Him (God) and everything He treasures. Psalm 73:2, 23-26
  2. Accurately assess the troubles. 2 Chronicles 20:15
  3. Increase my contributions. Colossians 3:23
  4. Hold firmly to God as my only John 6:68
Posted on 30th March 2019 in Realized Potential, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Masterpiece of Order

By God’s grace and mercy, we are becoming people of fully realized potential.

Primary Text:  Ruth 1:15-18

15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.

We have identified the four most important decisions every human being decides for becoming people of realized potential.

  1. With who will I travel and stay?
  2. Who are my people?
  3. Who is my God?
  4. Am I fully committed to these three decisions?

Today we consider the question, “Who is my God?”

When God said (Exodus 20:3), “You shall have no other gods before (besides) me,” He clearly established the significant importance of correctly answering, “Who is my God?”

Upon saying, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart,” God revealed one’s deities are matters of the heart.

It is fair to say, “whatever you love with all your heart will contend for deification in your life.”

Augustine is the person most known for thinking through competing loves in a Christian heart.

But living a just and holy life requires one to be capable of an objective and impartial evaluation of things: to love things, that is to say, in the right order, so that you do not love what is not to be loved, or fail to love what is to be loved, or have a greater love for what should be loved less, or an equal love for things that should be loved less or more, or a lesser or greater love for things that should be loved equally. (On Christian Doctrine, I.27-28)

For Augustine the question, “Who is my God?” is best answered through the lens of “rightly ordered love.”  (City of God, XV.23)

Today’s text, 2 Chronicles 27:6, honors a young king, Jotham, for properly ordering his life and rule.

“So Jotham became mighty, because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God.”

The Psalmist prayed, “Keep steady (Order, establish) my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.”  Psalm 119:133

C.H. Spurgeon, commenting on this Psalm said, “A holy life is no work of chance, it is a masterpiece of order.”

The sound of Spurgeon’s sentence rings true to every human’s deepest soul, “I want to be a masterpiece of order.”

  • There is order rather than chaos.
  • There is order that is harmonious with God as revealed in the Bible.
  • There is numerical

There is an order of substance and weightiness.

“God was saying that the human heart takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things.” Tim Keller, “Counterfeit Gods.”

We are invited into the glorious love of God for His world.  John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

In this way, I am most like God when I love His world.

John, the same inspired author who wrote John 3:16 also gave us 1 John 2:15.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

In this way, I am most like God when I do not love the world.

In reflecting upon the ordered loves of our lives, we learn there is substance and weightiness in both the love and the world in John 3:16 that is NOT to be there in 1 John 2:15.

Learning to give proper substance and weightiness to loving the Creator and created things (at the same time) is the essence of rightly ordered loves.

Consider the longing for proper substance and weightiness available in a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus, that the pop singer Madonna seeks.

“I have an iron will, and all of my will has always been to conquer some horrible feeling of inadequacy . . . . I push past one spell of it and discover myself as a special human being and then I get to another stage and think I’m mediocre and uninteresting . . . . Again and again. My drive in life is from this horrible fear of being mediocre. And that’s always pushing me, pushing me. Because even though I’ve become Somebody, I still have to prove that I’m Somebody. My struggle has never ended and it probably never will.” Lynn Hirshberg, “The Misfit,” Vanity Fair, April 1991, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp. 160-169, 196-202.

The “Seven Deadly Sins” all receive inappropriate substance and weightiness.  In the early fifth century, Prudentius wrote Psychomachia, in which the deadly sins fight a battle against virtue.

 

Pride Humility  (Blessed are the poor in spirit)
Greed Liberality  (Blessed are the merciful)
Lust Chastity  (Blessed are the pure in heart)
Envy Kindness  (Blessed hunger and thirst)
Gluttony Abstinence  (Blessed are the persecuted)
Wrath Patience  (Blessed are the meek)
Sloth Diligence  (All the beatitudes)

 

Our longing to be a masterpiece of order is fulfilled by rightly ordering all our love and loves.

The Holy Spirit invites and enables us to recalibrate the entirety of our lives toward God.

Is it possible for me to refocus my entire heart toward loving God and become a masterpiece of order?  YES, because Jesus is praying for you!

 “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”  John 17:26

MCA Church LIFE Group Homework

Listen – My Story

  • What is your favorite masterpiece?
  • For which person are you praying to trust in Christ and begin the masterpiece journey through this year’s Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames?

Learn – Digging Deeper

  • In both the Old and New Testaments God makes it clear that properly following Him is a matter of the heart. Please read 1 Samuel 16:7 and consider the human tendency to look on outward rather than inward things.
  • This week’s text, 2 Chronicles 27:6, instructs us to remember everything in our lives is “before the Lord.” What might you or others change if we are mindful that God sees everything in our hearts?
  • What of little substance and weightiness do we love? What of great substance and weightiness do we not love?   Consider 1 Corinthians 3:12-13

Lift – Prayer

  • With which of the Seven Deadly Sins do you most struggle? Pray for God’s strength to equip you to overcome.
  • Please pray for God to direct you to the involvement in Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames He intends for you.
  • What love is out of order in your life? Pray for God to give you grace to rightly order your love.

Life – Taking it Home

  • What is the Holy Spirit asking you to add, delete or recalibrate in your life?
  • Is there a change you need to make TODAY in rightly ordering your love?
Posted on 24th March 2019 in Realized Potential  •  Comments are off for this post
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Becoming People of Realized Potential: Ordered Love

People of fully realized potential are exceptionally mindful in answering, “Who is my God?”

Primary Text:  Ruth 1:15-18

15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.

We have identified the four most important decisions every human being decides for becoming people of realized potential.

  1. With who will I travel and stay?
  2. Who are my people?
  3. Who is my God?
  4. Am I fully committed to these three decisions?

Answering, “Who is my God?” is the most important of my life’s decisions.

One’s highest allegiance is included in the expansive meaning of the biblical word love.

4“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6:4,5

My highest allegiance is “god” over lesser allegiances.

The love to which I am most loyal is “god” over my lesser loyal loves.

The One True God invites me, not to destroy love, but to properly order my love.

Like mismatched metronomes, I can too easily have unrhythmical loves.

What were Peter’s disordered and unrhythmical loves?  Luke 22:54-62

54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. 56 Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.”57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 58 And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” 59 And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.

After His resurrection, Jesus reveals the issue all along is disordered and unrhythmical love.  John 21:15-19

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Although we can’t know for sure, Peter may have loved:

  • the known of ‘life as usual’ more than the unknown of total allegiance to Jesus.
  • fitting in with the crowd around the fire more than total allegiance to Jesus.
  • feeling in control of his life more than total allegiance to Jesus.
  • the power of self-determination more than total allegiance to Jesus.
  • living for self more than dying in total allegiance with Jesus.

Maclaren’s Expositions

How significant and beautiful it is that the only thing that Jesus Christ cares to ask about is the sinner’s love! We might have expected: ‘Simon, son of Jonas, are you sorry for what you did? Simon, son of Jonas, will you promise never to do the like any more?’ No! These things will come if the other thing is there. ‘Lovest thou Me?’ Jesus Christ sues each of us, not for obedience primarily, not for repentance, not for vows, not for conduct, but for a heart; and that being given, all the rest will follow. That is the distinguishing characteristic of Christian morality, that Jesus seeks first for the surrender of the affections, and believes, and is warranted in the belief, that if these are surrendered, all else will follow; and love being given, loyalty and service and repentance and hatred of self-will and of self-seeking will follow in her train.  https://biblehub.com/commentaries/john/21-15.htm

This is the power of the first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”  Exodus 20:3

All of life loses cadence when I have other gods before the One True and Living God.

Knowing the human tendency toward unrhythmical loves, Jesus shocks the world by declaring:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, cannot be my disciple.”  Luke 14:26

Consider what Darrel Bock states in his IVP NT Commentary on the Gospel of Luke.

“So Jesus calls for a follower who will hate his mother and father, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life. The point of the list is that no other relationship is first for a disciple. “Hate” is used figuratively and suggests a priority of relationship. Jesus is first. To follow Jesus means to follow Jesus, not anyone or anything else. A disciple is a learner, and the primary teacher in life is Jesus. This total loyalty is crucial, given the rejection and persecution that lie ahead. If his followers care more about family than about Jesus, when families are divided under pressure of persecution, they will choose against Jesus. This is what lies behind Jesus’ remarks. Discipleship is not possible if Jesus is not the teacher.

This is why bearing the cross and coming after Jesus is the issue of discipleship. Learning from Jesus means following him, experiencing the rejection he experienced and so bearing the cross he bore. We cannot “learn Jesus” without being prepared to walk this path. Discipleship is basically allegiance. To follow Jesus is to rely on him.”

Imagine the beauty of rhythmic loves each in cadence with the other and all in step with God.

Augustine of Hippo, the foundational thinker of properly ordered and rhythmic loves stated:

To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.

I am most becoming a person of fully realized potential when all the loves of my life are in proper order and rhythmic with God.

Listen – My Story

  • What, other than human beings and God, do you love?
  • Is there a place on the planet you love greatly? (For God so loved the world…)

Learn – Digging Deeper

  • Exodus 20:3 commands us to have “no other gods before Him.” How easy or difficult is it for you to keep this commandment?
  • In Luke 4:8 Jesus demands exclusive loyalty. Why do so many people struggle with Jesus’ word “him ONLY shall you serve.”
  • Read Revelation 2:2-7. What is Jesus’ disappointment with the people of Ephesus?  Is loving God your top priority?  If not, what does this passage require you to do?

Lift – Prayer

  • Does your loyalty to God make all other loyalties appear to be insignificant? Pray for God to help you keep Him your strongest loyalty.
  • Is there someone waiting for your increased loyalty and love? Pray for God to give this grace to you and strength to take the necessary actions.
  • Please pray for the Holy Spirit to move powerfully through Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames.

Life – Taking it Home

  • What is the Holy Spirit asking you to add, delete or recalibrate in your life?
  • Have you been baptized in water? Is this a next step for you to publicly declare your loyalty to Christ?
  • Who do you know, living in idolatry too, who would be blessed to be included in MCA ministries and Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames?

 

Posted on 2nd March 2019 in Realized Potential  •  Comments are off for this post