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"Let us reason together…" Isaiah 1:18

Posts categorized Realized Potential

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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
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Becoming People of Realized Potential: Your God Will Be My God

Becoming People of Realized Potential

Your God will be My God

One of God’s greatest gifts to humans is the exclusive ability to become.

I am human and I am becoming human because there is more humanity for me to personally realize.

  • My house cannot become.
  • Our dog cannot become.

Only to human beings has God given the gift of becoming.

I am both created in the image of God and into the image of God I am becoming.

  • 26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26, 27
  • 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son… Romans 8:29

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?

One of the most respected statements in Christian history addresses the decision, “Who will be my God?”

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.

For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God.”

–A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York: HarperCollins, 1961), 1.

There are two options on this matter, God or idolatry.

“When a finite value . . . [becomes] a center of value by which other values are judged . . . [and] has been elevated to centrality and imagined as a final source of meaning, then one has chosen what Jews and Christians call a god. . . . To be worshipped as a god, something must be sufficiently good to be plausibly regarded as the rightful center of one’s valuing. . . . One has a god when a finite value is worshipped and adored and viewed as that without which one cannot receive life joyfully.” Thomas C. Oden, Two Worlds: Notes on the Death of Modernity in America and Russia (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1992), p. 95.

Tim Keller makes idolatry easily understandable.

A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living.

An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, “If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.”

Keller, Timothy. Counterfeit Gods . Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition

From the research of Brian S. Rosner, Greed as Idolatry: The Origin and Meaning of a Pauline Metaphor (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2007), Keller states, “The Bible uses three basic metaphors to describe how people relate to the idols of their hearts. They love idols, trust idols, and obey idols.”

Considering the above compositely, we might say, “An idol is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living and it is so central that you love, trust and obey it.”

Becoming people of realized potential, we find ourselves with Joshua and all the tribes of Israel at Shechem.  Joshua 24

With Joshua and all the tribes of Israel, we present ourselves before God.  Joshua 24:1

Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God.

Second, we recall the vast number of amazing things in our lives that only God could have provided and done.  Joshua 24: 2-13

Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods. But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac, and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I assigned the hill country of Seir to Esau, but Jacob and his family went down to Egypt.

“‘Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I afflicted the Egyptians by what I did there, and I brought you out. When I brought your people out of Egypt, you came to the sea, and the Egyptians pursued them with chariots and horsemen[a] as far as the Red Sea.[b] But they cried to the Lord for help, and he put darkness between you and the Egyptians; he brought the sea over them and covered them. You saw with your own eyes what I did to the Egyptians. Then you lived in the wilderness for a long time.

“‘I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I gave them into your hands. I destroyed them from before you, and you took possession of their landWhen Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab, prepared to fight against Israel, he sent for Balaam son of Beor to put a curse on you. 10 But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand.

11 “‘Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The citizens of Jericho fought against you, as did also the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, but I gave them into your hands. 12 I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove them out before you—also the two Amorite kings. You did not do it with your own sword and bow. 13 So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.’

Third, we fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness.  Joshua 24:14

14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness.

Fourth, we throw away our idols and serve the Lord.  Joshua 24:14

Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.  14

23 “Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”

Fifth, we understand it is of our own free will that we make our god/God selection. Joshua 24:15

15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you

Sixth, we are personally responsible for making this, life’s most important decision.

…then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.

Seventh, we record our decision, with witnesses (water baptism). Joshua 24:26

26 And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God.

Eighth, we set up a memorial to remind us and our witnesses of our commitment.  Joshua 24:26, 27

Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the Lord.

27 “See!” he said to all the people. “This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all the words the Lord has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God.”

Eight Processes of Destroying Idolatry in Our Lives

  1. With Joshua and all the tribes of Israel, we present ourselves before God. Joshua 24:1
  2. We recall the vast number of amazing things in our lives that only God could have provided and done. Joshua 24: 2-13
  3. We fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Joshua 24:14
  4. We throw away our idols and serve the Lord. Joshua 24:14
  5. We understand it is of our own free will that we make our god/God selection. Joshua 24:15
  6. We are personally responsible for making this, life’s most important decision. Joshua 24:15
  7. We record our decision, with witnesses (water baptism). Joshua 24:26
  8. We set up a memorial to remind us and our witnesses of our commitment. Joshua 24:26, 27

 

Listen – My Story

  • What is one of your favorite aspects of what you are becoming?
  • Do you know a powerful story, either positively or negatively, of someone becoming?

 

Learn – Digging Deeper

  • Pastor Kent taught the great danger of idolatry as seen in Joshua 24. Read Romans 1:21-23.  What is the idolatry in this passage?
  • Read Romans 1:18-20. What is God’s response to this idolatry?
  • Read Romans 1:28-32. What happens in the lives of those living in this idolatry?
  • Do you see Romans 1 in our world of today?

 

Lift – Prayer

Identify one of the Eight Processes of Destroying Idolatry in Our Lives

  • Identify one of the Eight Processes of Destroying Idolatry in Our Lives that each member most wants to improve and pray for each person.
  • Celebrate Recovery (each Tuesday, 6:30 PM, Central Campus) helps many people destroy idols in their lives. Would you consider joining?  Please pray for the effectiveness of Celebrate Recovery.
  • Please pray for a powerful anointing upon Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames, 2019.
  • Please pray for each life group member to boldly move toward becoming people of realized potential.

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 memorial?
  • 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 16th February 2019 in Realized Potential, Uncategorized  •  Comments are off for this post
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Becoming People of Realized Potential: The Importance of Your Tribe

Ruth succinctly states four crucial decisions in every human being’s life.  Ruth 1:15-18

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

 

Today we consider the importance of “my people and tribe” as I journey to Father’s House.

 

From conception we begin our journey to Father’s house.

 

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;[a] believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?[b] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. John 14:1

 

From the Trinity, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we gain insight into an exclusively Christian experience of fellowship.

 

  • 14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14
  • God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:9
  • that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:3

 

Christianity is a common shared life (fellowship).

 

With whom am I in fellowship as I journey home to Father’s house?

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer captured the high value of fellowship in his book, Life Together.

 

The believer feels no shame, as though he were still living too much in the flesh, when he yearns for the physical presence of other Christians.  Man was created a body, the Son of God appeared on earth in the body, he was raised in the body, in the sacrament the believer receives the Lord Christ in the body, and the resurrection of the dead will bring about the perfected fellowship of God’s spiritual-physical creatures.  The believer therefore lauds the Creator, the Redeemer, God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for the bodily presence of a brother.  The prisoner, the sick person, the Christian in exile sees in the companionship of a fellow Christian a physical sign of the gracious presence of the triune God.  Visitor and visited in loneliness recognize in each other the Christ who is present in the body; they receive and meet each other as one meets the Lord, in reverence, humility, and joy.  They receive each other’s benedictions as the benediction of the Lord Jesus Christ.  But if there is so much blessing and joy even in a single encounter of brother with brother, how inexhaustible are the riches that open up for those who by God’s will are privileged to live in the daily fellowship of life with other Christians!

It is true, of course, that what is an unspeakable gift of God for the lonely individual is easily disregarded and trodden under foot by those who have the gift every day.  It is easily forgotten that the fellowship of Christian brethren is a gift of grace, a gift of the Kingdom of God that any day may be taken from us, that the time that still separates us from utter loneliness may be brief indeed.  Therefore, let him who until now has had the privilege of living in common Christian life with other Christians praise God’s grace from the bottom of his heart.  Let him thank God on his knees and declare: It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren.

 

Christianity is a common shared life, it is fellowship and we are extremely blessed by this grace.

 

Careful selection of those in your fellowship is very important.

 

“…your own performance is either improved or diminished by the other people in your scenario.” Cloud, Henry. The Power of the Other (p. 9). HarperBusiness. Kindle Edition.

 

  • Ruth was improved by Naomi.
  • Samson was diminished by Delilah.
  • Paul was improved by Barnabas.
  • David was diminished by Saul but improved by Jonathan.

 

Careful observation of the Acts 2:42-47 church reveals seven beginning points for this glorious improved common shared life (fellowship).

 

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

 

The Early Church Common Shared Life Our Common Shared Life
Devoted themselves to….the fellowship Devote myself to the fellowship
The fellowship includes communion and prayer Devote myself to holy communion and prayer
All who believed were together Devote myself to being together with the fellowship
Had all things in common Devote myself to sharing with the fellowship
As any had need Devote myself to meeting the needs of the fellowship.
Every day attending the temple Devote myself to daily corporate worship
Eating together daily Devote myself to eating with the fellowship

 

When someone prioritizes these seven beginning points of fellowship with you, they are, as Bonhoeffer said, “a gift of grace” for whom “we thank God on our knees.”

 

Fellowship is a double blessing.  We are at home in our fellowship as we travel Home to Father’s House.

MCA Life Group Homework

Listen – My Story

  • Do you have a memorable eating together experience?
  • Is there a time when a Christian friend was “the presence of Christ” for you?

 

Lift – Prayer

  • Please pray for God to increase your joyful anticipation of being in Father’s House someday.
  • Please pray for each Life Group member’s hopes and wishes for their tribe and people.
  • Please pray for Connie Ordway, long-term MCA member nearing Father’s House.

 

 

Learn – Digging Deeper

  • Read 1 John 1:1-7.
  • From this passage, do you see any differences between friendship and fellowship?
  • Who are the fellowship partners in verse 3?
  • What does God require of his fellowship partners? 6
  • What are the two benefits of walking in the light? 7
  • Who are the fellowship partners named “one another” in verse 7?

 

 

 

Life – Taking it Home

  • Which of the seven beginning points of fellowship do you need to prioritize with your tribe?
  • Is there someone you should consider adding to your tribe?
  • Is there someone you should consider deleting from your tribe?

 

 

 

Posted on 9th February 2019 in Realized Potential, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Full Potential: Position, Decisions and Desires

People who realize their full potential understand that key life decisions position them for experiencing their deepest desire.

Christians live a well-decided life within an all-encompassing unique framework.

Prior to the often-helpful framework of personal core values, purpose and mission statements, the Christian comes to terms with every human’s deepest desire.

Decisions and desires are a closely woven tapestry.

“The highest dream we could ever dream, the wish that if granted would make us happier than any other blessing, is to know God, to actually experience Him.” Crabb, Larry. Shattered Dreams (Kindle Locations 188-191). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

A well-decided Christian life becomes evident in those who understand their deepest desire is to know and experience God.

Notice, in Philippians 3:7-11, Paul’s emphasis upon his deepest desire to know and experience God.

Considered a Loss Considered Great Gain
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ,
  10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

 

Our most important decisions are to be made in harmony with our deepest desire.

In the experience of two women, Naomi and Ruth, God reveals the four most crucial decisions in every person’s life.

A short version of the narrative is:

  • There is a famine in Bethlehem.
  • Elimelech moves cross culturally to Moab with his wife, Naomi, and their two sons.
  • Elimelech suddenly dies. Naomi is now a widow.
  • Their sons have married Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth.
  • Suddenly, both sons died too. Naomi is a widow who is childless.  Orpah and Ruth are now widows.
  • Naomi decides to move back to Bethlehem and encourages Orpah and Ruth to enjoy their Moabite lives.
  • Orpah agrees.
  • Ruth disagrees and reveals to us the four most crucial decisions every human being makes.

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.

Ruth’s Statement My Crucial Decision
For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. With which persons will I journey and stay?
Your people shall be my people Who will be my people?
and your God (shall be) my God Who will be my God?
May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you. Will I fully commit to these decisions?

With which persons will I journey and stay?

  • The wise selection of my spouse and closest friends is crucial.
  • In what ways do we help each other pursue and realize our deepest longing for God?

Who will be my people?

  • The wise selection of my primary group or tribe or cohort is crucial.
  • In what ways do we help each other pursue and realize our deepest longing for God?

Who will be my God?

  • The wise selection of God, as revealed in the Bible, is crucial.
  • The wise selection of how you and God will relate is crucial.

Will I fully commit to these decisions?

  • Have I developed the wisdom to courageously and loyally serve these three decisions?
  • When these decisions and life as God allows it to come to me become exceptionally difficult, will I remain steadfast and unmovable in these commitments?

MCA Life Group Homework

Listen – My Story

  • What is your best ever decision (other than trusting in Jesus for salvation and selecting your spouse)?
  • Who most helped you make that decision?

Learn – Digging Deeper

  • Read Philippians 3:4-6. What are Paul’s reasons for “confidence in the flesh?”  Would most of Paul’s audience consider these reasons for confidence as positives or negatives?  Are there positives in our lives today that we should consider loss?  Are there negatives we should consider loss?
  • How might we develop Paul’s love (deepest desire) for knowing Christ, the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings, and becoming like Him in His death? Philippians 3:10
  • Ruth helps us understand the four most crucial decisions every human being makes. Ruth 1:16-17
    • With whom will I journey?
    • Who will be my people?
    • Who will be my God?
    • Will I fully commit to these decisions?
  • Read Mark 8:27-30. Talk about why the question Jesus asked is still the most important decision every human being will make.

Lift – Prayer

  • Pray for each other to more deeply understand and experience the soul’s deepest longing for God.
  • Pray for each other to confidently join Paul in knowing what to personally “consider loss.”
  • Pray for the each other’s petitions.
  • Take time to listen for the voice of the Lord.

Life – Taking it Home

  • Is there something you need to do this week regarding Ruth’s four questions?
  • Is there something in your life regarding the four questions that you should consider loss?
  • Is there something in your life regarding the four questions in which you are experiencing the strong presence of God?

Share the Joy – Invite a Friend to Your Life Group

  • Someone in your circle of influence very much longs to be included in your spiritual tribe.
  • Some may even deeply desire having you as a very close friend.

 

 

Posted on 2nd February 2019 in Realized Potential, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Becoming People of Realized Potential in Christ

The Holy Spirit is inviting us to become people of realized potential in Christ.

Potential – Those realities “existing in possibility” and those “capable of developing into actuality.”  https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/potential

Realized – To “bring into concrete existence.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/realized

People – Is most often used in the plural but is also appropriately used in the singular.

  • “American people are filled with faith.”  Plural
  • “In America we find a people of faith.”  Singular
  • In our theme, we intend “People” in both the plural and singular.

 

Plural Singular
Potential Existing in possibility as a group Existing in possibility as a person
Realized Bring into concrete existence as a group Bring into concrete existence as a person

 

In realizing full potential, the individual (person) is significantly impacted by their group (people).

In realizing full potential, the group (people) is significantly impacted by its individuals (persons).

Shawn Achor, author of Big Potential, shares insight from lightening bugs on the singular and plural aspects of becoming people of realized potential.

The success rate increased by 79 percentage points when flashing as an interconnected community rather than as individuals. Achor, Shawn. Big Potential (p. 17). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

 

As we look to the Bible for revelation into becoming people (singular and plural) of realized potential, let’s consider the concepts of position and placement.

In auto racing we see hints of the importance of position.  For NASCAR, driver Richard Petty has the all-time record winning 61 times from 123 pole positions with an average of 49.6%.

In the Bible, position and placement are a huge part of the realized potential process and can be action taken by God in our lives, action that we take or a combination of the two.

  • God was at work in positioning Joseph (rather miserably) for his full potential entirely against his own will. Genesis 37-50.
  • God was at work in positioning Zacchaeus (rather delightfully) for his full potential through Zacchaeus’ own interest in seeing Jesus. Luke 19:1-10

Four “positionings” for becoming people of realized potential in Psalm 92:12-15

 

The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
Positioned in righteousness.
They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God.

 

Positioned in the house of the Lord.
They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green,

 

Positioned in fruit bearing.
to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

 

Positioned in declaring the Lord.

Specific Applications

  1. Knowing lightening bugs’ success rates increase by 79% when acting as an interconnected community, will you commit to a small group in your MCA Church community?
  2. Knowing position is important in auto racing, will you commit to intentional placement for becoming a people of realized potential?

MCA Church Life Group Home Work

Listen – My Story

  • Were you ever in the “right place at the right time?
  • Are you more prone to spiritual growth in the singular (by yourself) or in the plural (with others)?
  • Do you have a specific friend who could greatly benefit from spiritual growth with you and your Life Group?

 

Lift – Prayer

  • Prayer is possibly the most important activity of spiritual life in both the singular and plural.
  • Please pray together.
  • Please close your prayer time by asking God to take your Life Group to its fullest potential in Christ.

Learn – Digging Deeper

  • Read Proverbs 16:9. What action do people take? What actions does God take?  Do you see the possibility for a combination of action with both God and people?
  • Abraham had the uncomfortable positioning by God “to a land I will show you.” We think Abraham had no idea where he was going to be positioned.  Even in the unknowing Abraham trusted God.  Read Isaiah 51:2. What was God’s intended purpose in re-positioning Abraham and Sarah?

Life – Taking it Home

  • Is there a specific action you should take to be better positioned in righteousness, the house of the Lord, fruit bearing and declaring the Lord?
  • Is the Holy Spirit speaking to you about a ministry action to take prior to closing today’s group meeting?

2019 Financial Contribution Records

Thank you for your financial contributions to MCA Church.  Your tithes, offerings and gifts keep the vision growing to the glory of God.

Your financial contribution records will be mailed on Tuesday.

Posted on 26th January 2019 in Realized Potential, Uncategorized  •  Comments are off for this post