Every Journey has a Starting Point

 

Every journey has a starting point:

  • Every relationship began with a conversation.
  • Every job had a first day.
  • Every change in behavior had first uncomfortable moments trying something new.
  • Every building started with an idea.
  • Every degree was preceded by a first day of class.
  • Every trip to Disney started by pulling out of the driveway.
  • Every divorce started with a question.
  • Every meal began with a recipe – some of them even written down.
  • Every career started with curiosity.
  • Every sermon starts with the realization that Sunday is coming, ready or not.

Look in the Bible.  People there have starting points too:

  • Noah had to cut the first board to build the ark.
  • Abraham made to take the first step to go to the land God showed him – telling Sarah they were moving.
  • Moses had to throw down his rod to find out God’s power.
  • Joshua had to march around Jericho seven days to find out God would fight the battle.
  • Ruth had to sneak up to the threshing floor and lay down beside Boaz to find out if he was interested in marriage.
  • David had to take the first step out from the Israeli lines of battle to meet Goliath.
  • Solomon made his first decision before he was known as the wisest man who ever lived.
  • Peter, James, John, and Andrew had to take their first step away from their boats to follow Jesus.
  • Paul had to confess he believed in the Jesus he thought he was a fraud before he could become a great missionary, theologian, and evangelist.

Too many people, I think, only focus on the finish line. They are overwhelmed before they begin, and feel defeated.  They never start the journey of transformation.

Jesus didn’t ask you to take a next leap.  He invites you to follow Him and that starts with a next step toward Him.

So what’s your starting point?  What’s your next step?

  • Decide for Jesus.  Decide to follow him.
  • Talk to someone about your decision for Jesus.
  • Be baptized.
  • Spend time getting to know Jesus.
  • Learn to do life in community with believers.
  • Learn to love people.
  • Learn to love enemies
  • Make friends who will be there at 3 AM for you.
  • Heal your hurts.
  • Call a counselor.
  • Tell someone the truth about your world.
  • Grow character habits.
  • Pray for a minute.
  • Read one story in the Bible every day.
  • Give something.
  • Tell someone your story.
  • Do an act of kindness.
  • Serve in a systematic way.

You have a Starting Point.  You have a Journey.  You have a next step.sp-background

Let’s get started.

What Would it Take to Change Your Mind?



change

If you are a life-long Clemson fan who bleeds orange, what would it take for you to become a die-hard, crow at every touchdown, South Carolina Gamecock fan?

If you are a staunch Republican, who believes in small government, low taxes, de-regulation, and individual freedom, what would it take for you to become a big government, tax the wealthy, regulate business, and protect the environment liberal Democrat?

If you are passionate about the Second Amendment, own 183 guns, four gun safes, and load your own ammunition, what would it take for you to become an enforce the waiting period for purchase, ban assault weapons, buy back the handguns, anti-gun advocate?

If you grew up on a ranch, love the open range, think filet mignon is what we will eat in heaven, cowboy, what would it take for you to become a vegan, anti-ranching, card carrying PETA member?

If you grew up a staunchly Jewish, committed yourself to become a man of righteousness, were meticulous about keeping every rule and law given by God, sat at the feet of the famous rabbinic scholars of your day, were given an opportunity by the people you admire to make your name by persecuting people who you were convinced were heretics, what would it take for you to turn your back on everything you ever understood about God, your culture, your teachers, your career opportunities, your definition of what it meant to be a ‘good person,’ follower of Jesus, who you thought was a heretic?

This is the story of Paul.  One day on a road to Damascus (yes, the same one in the news today), he saw Jesus.  When he realized Jesus was alive, not dead, Paul’s world fell apart.  Everything changed.  He believed in the one he once was convinced was the enemy.

Paul must have known that his old friends would think he had gone crazy.  He must have known that some would be so angry, they would try to kill him.  He must have known that his old heroes would now speak his name with contempt.

None of that mattered.  All that mattered was Jesus.

Paul changed his mind.  Paul changed his life.  Paul changed his eternity.

I don’t think any sane person would make a change like that for a myth.  I don’t think anyone would change their mind like Paul did just so they could perpetuate some interesting teachings.

In fact, I’m pretty sure the only thing that would ever convince me to change my mind like Paul did would be a clear call from God.

Which is exactly what God gave Paul.  It is exactly what God offers you – a clear call to change your mind, and decide to follow Jesus.

Pick a Fruit…

 

fruit

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such there is no law.”  – Galatians 5:22-23

Read these verses and it is easy to get overwhelmed.  I once graded myself on each fruit using the A-F scale.  Let’s just say my self-grading showed I needed to go to the remedial fruit of the Spirit class.

The fruit of the Holy Spirit is what shows up in our lives as God works.  What if instead focusing on every fruit and being overwhelmed, we focused on what we needed right now?

For example:

  • If I am dealing with an annoying person in my life, I need to ask God for the fruit of love (You know, that whole ‘love your enemies’ thing).  I can start by praying for God to bring good to that annoying person.
  • If I feel stuck in a rut, I need to ask God for the fruit of joy.  Maybe he will open my eyes to the joy he is bringing through his work in the world.
  • If I am struggling with a destructive habit or an addiction, I need to ask God for the fruit of peace.  All destructive habits and addictions start with a lack of peace in our souls.
  • If I am feeling overwhelmed, like there is too much life and not enough me, I need to ask God for the fruit of patience.  Patience comes from trust that my God has me and will help me get done everything he asks me to do.
  • If I am struggling with anxiety or depression, I need to ask God for the fruit of kindness.  Anxious and depressed people are not kind to themselves.  As you fill up with the kindness of God, he teaches you to be kind not just to others, but to yourself.
  • If I struggle with money (and who doesn’t), I need to ask God for the fruit of generosity.  I only win over money, my wants, and my desires, when I let go.  Generosity is an expression of faith –that God will supply all my needs through Christ Jesus.
  • If I am stuck in a dead-end job, I need to ask God for the fruit of faithfulness.  The way to advance is to be faithful in what I do, as if I am doing it for Jesus.
  • If I am struggling with my temper, I need to ask God for the fruit of gentleness.   To live a gentle life is not to be a weakling, but is to gain control of myself so my strength is used wisely, not harmfully.
  • If I feel like I am drifting through life, I need to ask God for the fruit of self-control.  Most people who drift through life aren’t lacking direction; they are lacking self-control to move in the direction they need to go.

Imagine you are standing with Jesus in the spiritual fruit section of his gift store.  Think about what’s going on in your life.  What fruit do you need to ask for?

 

 

21 Weird Things About Hell

 

 

People have wrong ideas about hell.  Here are some teachings of the Christian faith you may not know:

  1. God doesn’t send people to hell.  They choose to go because they don’t want to be in His presence forever.
  2. There will be a lot of religious people in hell because they knew about God, but they did not know God.
  3. Satan is not in charge of hell.  He is one of the occupants, experiencing the torture of his own fragmented self.
  4. Hell is a riot – because no one can agree.
  5. You want to see hell in miniature?  Look at someone torn apart by addiction of any kind.
  6. People in hell blame other people for not giving them enough information.
  7. People in hell blame God for putting them there.
  8. The fastest way to hell is denial.
  9. In every story Jesus told about hell, no one asked to get out.
  10. Hell is the continuation of your fragmented soul forever.
  11. The fastest way to hell is denial.
  12. Why is hell a place of fire?  Because fire dis-integrates.  Hell is a place of dis-integrated souls.
  13. Hell has no mercy, no love, no grace, no forgiveness, no beauty, no joy, no gentleness, no self-control.
  14. There are degrees of hell, just like there degrees of soul separation/fragmentation.
  15. There is no time in hell.  So while heaven is a place of joyous discovery, hell is a place of frozen self-centeredness.
  16. There has to be a hell.  To force someone to have intimacy with you is rape.  God will not rape your soul.
  17. The sin that blinds most people to the danger of hell?  Self-righteousness.
  18. Any who is happy about people going to hell is in danger of going themselves.
  19. The frustration of hell for those who are there is they experience the reality they choose and their limited power to change it.  People in hell might be still trying to fix themselves.
  20. God doesn’t want anyone to go to hell and paid the highest price so people could have a choice.
  21. People still choose to be away from God in spite of God’s offer of grace.  As Dallas Willard said, “Hell is the simply the best God can do for some people.”