We can’t find our identity in this world. My identity is not as a white man. Your identity can’t be as a black man or a white man. Your identity can’t be based on your socio-economic class or your knowledge, your power, your ability, or your presence. Your identity is based on...
There are two approaches to a spiritual life; passive or active. Most of us take a passive approach to our spiritual journey and we just kind of assume that it will happen. Can I just say how crazy that is! What “just happens” that is good in your life all on its own? How good does...
Most of us are living in the default of life in our own understanding, in our own processing and in our own conclusion; and when we do that, we miss daily life in the presence of God. Psalm 67 says “You have made known to me the path of life.” It’s not an instant; just add...
Our thinking matters more than anything. What goes on between your left ear and your right ear is your life! Proverbs 23:7 says “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” You and I don’t have to do anything to be toxic, we already are. I don’t have to work at...
The simple truth is that all of us here, myself included, are most of the time more concerned with the approval of other human beings than we are with the one and true creator of the universe. You and I are so timid when it comes to telling the story of Jesus and helping people understand that...
Some of you are in good places in your family right now, and some of you are in bad places. Some of you are frustrated in your families and I just want to let you know that God cares passionately about your family and what you’re going through, and He’s here to fill your family with...
You and I are by nature empty, and we’re mad about it! In our emptiness, we are desperate to fill ourselves, and so we will fill ourselves with just about anything or anyone to answer the pain, the loneliness and the emptiness. We will fill ourselves with that which addicts us, we will...
Our goal here at The Church at Severn Run is not to have a lot of people who are content to do nothing. If that's the case, let's wrap it up, let's call it a day and let's go home. Your faith is noticed, and it teaches. Other people are watching how you live, and the simple reality is that...
Can we all ageree that there are some things that belong in our lives and some things that don't? The question is what is the standard we use for measuring what belongs and what doesn't? What is acceptable and what isn't? What is helpful and what is not? Who gets to decide? If you and I are...
The reason that we are not experiencing what the Word of God says, is because we are mis-aligned; we are not doing what the Word of God says. When we are button pushing, controlling, fault finding, arrogant, critical or negative, we are being evil and we need to repent of that and work for...
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” John 15:9
Four times Jesus says remain in this passage of scripture. As a verb, remain is a word used to described an action. Jesus wants us to take action.
Remain is defined as, “To continue to exist, especially after other similar or related people or things have ceased to exist.” Synonyms include endure, last, abide, carry on, persist, stay, stay around, prevail, survive, live on.
Clearly the intended message Jesus’s is communicating is not to be taken lightly.
We are to take action.
Have you ever noticed how many loyal animal post are on Facebook? Do a search to find story after story such as these:
- A dog named Zanders who followed his master to the hospital some two miles from his home.
- Cleo the cat who tracked down her elderly owner after she was sent to live in a nursing home.
- A German Shepard that ran away from home to find his deceased master’s grave – and has stayed by its side for six years.
You can be sure the goal of each animal is to remain in the presence of their “person”. That person who has come to mean everything to them.
This is what Jesus’s asks of us. If he is to mean everything to us, we are to follow him and remain with him. Through the good, the bad, and at all times.
Jesus’s showed us how to respond to challenging chapters of life. He also showed us how to choose to respond. The disciples demonstrated how to turn their self-centered inadequacy over to God. This then allowed them be a blessing showing the glory of God to this around them.
We too can be a blessing showing God’s glory. Soak him in. Take the 15/15/15 challenge - 15 days; 15 minutes of talking to him; 15 minutes of reading God’s word.
Plan out a time each day. Get it done all at once or break it up over the day. Whatever it takes, whatever works for you!!
Jesus is asking.
Jesus has shown us.
Be a blessing.
Remain in him!
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Full disclosure: I do not always have time set aside in my day to read the Bible and have a concentrated amount of prayer. It’s actually one of the main things I’m often convicted of. It is an area that I’m repeatedly asking forgiveness for and repeatedly committing to do better. Then I’m failing again and I’m back to asking forgiveness.
So a 15-minute challenge…Surely I can do 15 minutes for 15 days, right? I’m on day 2 and going strong!
I had to sneak in 15 minutes of Bible reading and 15 minutes of prayer right before bed.
I wondered where I should start. When I’m on a Bible-reading roll, I’m usually involved in a group study so without having a book to guide me, I pondered where I should begin. My mind went to James. It’s my favorite book. It’s short (you’ll find out how short momentarily), and God has some great stuff in there.
I started the 15-minute timer on my phone, turned my phone face down and thumbed through the feathery pages to the book of James.
About half way into the book of James I thought, “Man, has it been 15 minutes yet? Did I set my timer right? Is it on silent?” Then I told myself, “You’re half way done anyway. Just go ahead and read the whole book.”
Somewhere during the last chapter of James I thought, “Yeah, I definitely forgot to hit start on my timer, but I’ll go ahead and finish anyway.”
I read the last word of the last chapter of James, turned my phone face up and the timer went off. Reading (and re-reading a few parts—probably the parts when I was distracted as I contemplated the accuracy of my phone timer) the book of James, took me exactly 15 minutes.
Earlier that day I had a conversation with my son about the phrase, “I swear to God.” He was relaying it in a story as something his friend had said. I took the opportunity to talk about the word “swear” in terms of it meaning a promise, or an oath, OR being an inappropriate word. I said, “There’s verse in the Bible that says, ‘Let your yes be yes, and let your no, be no.’ If you just say what you mean and are truthful, you really don’t have to promise or swear to anything—least of all God, because he knows your heart anyway.” I wanted to tell him where that verse was, but I couldn’t remember and he scampered off to play.
So any guesses as to where that verse IS in the Bible? Yep. That’s right. James. James 5:12.
Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no, or you will be condemned.
I was thankful that God led me to read James. He knew exactly how long it would take me to get to that verse and exactly why I needed to read it.
God is real and present in my life, in my parenting, and in my marriage. The truth of his Word is always right at my fingertips anytime I can take 15 minutes to meet him there.
For real, I’m committing to the 15-minute Challenge for 15 days. I’m excited about what else God will show me! Join me and see what He reveals to you!
Do you have a story about how God is speaking to you through the 15-minute Challenge? Log in and share your story as a comment, or share your story here and we will use it to help encourage others!
Every bad decision and every bad place that we've ever been is because at a crossroads, we took the path that lead us to where we ended up. I want to say again, that if you and I will learn to manage our turning point decisions, we will have the ability to lead a life that is more!
If we continue to be emotionally driven, if we continue to be helpless and without hope and power in our lives, then we are adrift in life and are going to be driven by the winds of circumstances, feelings and other peoples decisions.
I'm here to tell you that you can manage your turning point decisions. When life offers you bad, and it has, we have to go to the good of God and we have to soak in the presence of Jesus! This is everything, this is the call of God, and the way forward!
This is what hell doesn't want you to know, but it's the whole truth of the scripture of the Bible. It's what God wants us to do and it's what Jesus did in Matthew 14:1-3; 23 in the story of the murder of John the Baptist.
There will always be this drive in us that wants to run away from God and yet there's going to be this whisper inside of us that tells us that we have to go to God.
Here's the choice we have to make because the simple reality is 'what your heart does with pain is going to determine just about everything in your life!'
Where you go with your pain is going to determine your emotional health, your spiritual health -all of your health!
With pain, we try a variety of techniques and strategies. Sometimes we just try to stuff pain down and ignore it. You need to know that's about as effective as ignoring cancer in your life! You can stuff pain down and ignore it but it's gonna grow and be cancerous and infect other areas of your life!
So when we come to these turning points, we have a choice of 'where are we going to find good?'
There is the 'good' that we identify and think is the answer and there is the good of God; which is completely different.
So you're in pain...where do you go?
You gotta do something to end the pain right? The bottom of the can seems like the way to go. Maybe it's the joint? Maybe it's the porn on the computer? I feel bad and maybe this is gonna be something! We rarely call these things good but they are 'the good' that we are going to --to answer our pain!
Your marriage isn't going very well...you know there will always be an endless procession of other human beings out there who are empty and you're empty and you're gonna come together without God! Empty on empty trying to be filled! I won't even say good luck with that, I would just say I hope you fail very very quickly so that your damage is less than failing in a bigger way!
Your sin nature is going to try to find alternatives to the 'good of God.' You're going to turn to something to answer your pain. Whether it's the bottle, whether it's the respect of other people at work, the idolatry of ego. Whatever it is, in these turning point moments, if you turn to anything other than God, you're going to be overwhelmed by evil!
Here's why...when evil comes into our lives it just seems so big. Have you ever felt hopeless in your life? Have you ever felt so utterly alone you don't even know how to go forward? Have you ever been so wounded by somebody's choices and so angry that you just wanted to strike back?
Satan doesn't want us to recognize when we're in a turning point place but that's the first thing you have to do. The move that we have to make is to go to the good of God and to do what Jesus did! He ran into the presence of God! In the face of all of the evil (the murder of His cousin, John the Baptist) He soaked in the presence of God and He was reminded of how infinitely powerful God is and what a great plan God has for the world and how loving the Father is!
He was reminded that human decisions have power for a season but not for eternity! He was reminded of all that God is and all that God was going to do and in the presence of the Father --everything changes!
Guys, this message is so simple but I'm just telling you it's probably one of the most life changing messages I have ever preached or will ever preach and what it means, you will have to go and spend the rest of your life figuring that out -but it will change everything!
You see the turning point strategy of Jesus' life was very very simple: He went to the Father and He soaked in the glory of God!
Just as it's impossible to stay cold on the sun's surface, it is impossible to stay lost, discouraged, depressed, self-defeated, hopeless, angry or wounded in the Father's presence. You cannot be cold on the surface of the sun!
You and I cannot stay wounded, bitter, down, defeated, depressed and unloving! We can't stay hating the person in the mirror, we can't stay in any of those places in the presence of God!
Because in the presence of God is the fullness of joy! In the presence of God there is everlasting love! In the presence of God there is overwhelming goodness! In the presence of God there is ever lasting victory and the only way you and I can live a small, defeated, addicted, broken down sinful life is if we keep our distance from God! -Dr. Drew Shofner
A Winter Relief Story
As Pam wandered around the Dollar Tree looking for Bingo prizes, she never imagined how God would use one of the items to bring a smile to Nan’s face.
No Bingo this year.
That was the word passed down from who-knows-where. The Winter Relief guests and volunteers alike were crestfallen. Playing Bingo for a chance to win prizes is the highlight of the week for many of the Winter Relief participants.
Pam and a few other volunteers decided that everyone NEEDED some Bingo in their lives. Pam climbed into her car and headed to the Dollar Tree to pick up some prizes. Right away a decorative sign with a saying about friendship caught her eye. She passed it by thinking that a decorative sign was probably the last thing a person without a home would want.
She continued to pick up more practical items. Fun socks, pretty headbands, scented lotion… But her heart kept going back to the sign. She finally added it to the pile in her basket thinking that surely no one would want it.
Later, as Pam set up the prize table for Bingo Nan, a Winter Relief guest, was immediately interested in the sign. Pam recalls, “How I just wanted to say ‘go ahead, and take it’ but it wasn't my place to give away the bingo prizes and so I just prayed that she would win it. “
Pam didn’t stick around for Bingo as she had to run some errands, but upon her arrival back at church she noticed that the sign was absent from among the prizes. “I asked around as to who had won” Pam said, “and when I heard that Nan was one of the winners and that she picked the decoration, the one thing that I was for sure nobody would want, my heart was filled with joy.”
Such a simple thing.
Pam adds, “Now I know that it was God who was leading me to select that item for Nan and I'm so glad I listened. She was so very happy. When you consider the hardships that our guests go through on a day to day basis, and that something so simple as an item from the dollar store could bring such joy - well, that is what serving at winter relief is all about - seeing that joy.”
You never know how God is going to use you to bless others, or how this serving opportunity can bless you.