Preach With Mud | Stephen Jones

Do you remember the story of Jesus healing the blind man by rubbing mud on his eyes?

Did you notice what Jesus did not do?

He did not tell the blind man who He was. He simply met his physical needs, and then went on his way. Not to say that Jesus had no intentions of revealing Himself to the man, He just knew how to do it.

I find it fascinating that when the Pharisees asked the man who healed him, he could not give an answer. His reply was, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” It was only after speaking with the Pharisees and thinking about the situation after the fact that the man came to realize who Jesus was.

Isn’t it a bit strange that we tend to get this whole evangelizing thing backwards? We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, yet I find myself trying to be the mouth of Jesus.

I get nervous in certain situations because I feel as if God is calling me to tell the guy next to me about Jesus, and I am not sure exactly what to say. And that might be exactly what God is asking you to do at that moment.

But it is more likely that God wants you to simply be the random act of kindness they are praying for.

Or the ear to talk to that they have been missing out on.

Or the love that God is so desperately trying to show them.

People don’t want your theology. Family Guy already taught them all they want to know about Jesus. But what they need to know about Jesus is that He is alive and active. And that He is at work in YOU.

The best way to tell someone about Jesus is to show them Jesus.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
– John 13:35

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Z-Verse | Science Vs. God | March 9, 2015

What I told an atheist online who said science disproved the existence of God.

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”
– 1 Corinthians 1:25

Quick Quote | Tullian Tchividjian: On One Way Love

“Love must be one-way to be worth anything.”
– Pastor Tullian Tchividjian

quick quote tullian tchividjian

I realize that statement may shock the system.

In a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world, where, too often, we keep meticulous score and only mete out love as we feel it’s deserved, that’s almost hard for the brain to process on first read.

So, go ahead, read it again.

Love must be one-way to be worth anything.

It certainly turns conventional wisdom and pop psychology on their heads, but it’s the truth.

Remember, Jesus said it’s easy to love the people who are nice to us, the people who treat us well. “What credit is that?” is actually how He put it.

Relationships are healthiest when each person is practicing a radical, unconditional love that goes beyond reciprocation or obligation.

Think of the way most of parents love their newborn babies. That radical, unconditional, overwhelming love despite the fact that they can’t do anything for us. We stay up late, wake up in the middle of the night, get up early, feed, clothe, hold, bathe, play with, provide for, clean up after and totally rearrange our lives for them. THAT is the one-way love we must capture and live out in our relationships.

Here’s another great thought on this from @pastortullian:


More from Tullian’s book One Way Love, as published in an earlier post entitled 3 Minute Marriage Counselor: Got Grace? (by Matthew Reid):

We are the recipients of abounding, incomprehensible and undeserved grace, yet we tend to treat others more like the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35) than the man who told that story.

“The world tells us to stand up for ourselves, to stick to our guns. But the Gospel frees us to lay down our arms.” (via Pastor Tullian Tchividjian)

Pastor Tullian makes the case for cultivating more grace in our relationships in his new book, One Way Love. While God’s way often seems more difficult, in the end it not only brings Him glory, it’s what’s best for us, too!

A few quotes jumped out at me from this book…

“The fire to love unconditionally comes only from being soaked in the fuel of being unconditionally loved.” ~Pastor Tullian

When we live for our happiness, as opposed to God’s glory and the good of those around us, we miss out on a whole lot of awesome. Putting ourselves first may be natural, but even putting aside obedience and choosing the narrow path, it just doesn’t work.

“Every marriage is the union of two selfish people, fighting for their way, desperate to win. That’s why an apology so often feels like we are betraying ourselves. We would rather see a marriage fall apart than cede any ground…” ~Pastor Tullian

We’re so stubborn. We’ll act in a way that’s counter productive to our own best interests just to “win.” That victory, however, is no such thing. We don’t get what we really wanted in the first place, we hurt the people we love and we miss an opportunity to give God glory.

That’s lose, lose, lose.

It’s pride.

We need to remember that the people who hurt us are not the real enemy. (Ephesians 6:12, 1 Peter 5:8)

“Husbands and wives are often so hard on one another, merciless with their demands and expectations, their criticisms and silences.” ~Pastor Tullian

We’re in a battle. A battle for our marriage, our family, our kids. We’re fighting for our futures, a war for the souls of family members, friends, neighbors and coworkers who are far from God and are watching us.

We can point those around us, including our own children, toward God and show them a better way. We don’t have to do what everybody else does, we can be more.

As my pastor, Sean Sears, often says, we won’t have extraordinary lives if we keep making ordinary choices.

But 1 Corinthians 13 points toward the hope that’s there for us: “Love believes, hopes, endures, never ends…”

“For the marriage grounded in one-way love, there is always hope, always a way forward.” ~Pastor Tullian

Read the more quotes from Pastor Tullian’s new book One Way Love.

[Originally published November 3, 2013 growingingracetoday.wordpress.com]

More: Tullian Tchividjian

Love Believes | Five Years Later

On November 30, 2009, I received some devastating news. The kind of thing that knocks you off your feet and causes a lot of strong people to completely crumble.

There have been many difficult days, some torturous. Some where I honestly didn’t know if I’d make it through.

I’ve felt immense pain and heartache every single day.

I’ve watched those I love dearly hurt deeply, and felt worries and challenges I never imagined.

Yet God has sustained, provided and seen us through it all, one day at a time.

But don’t mistake strong faith and confidence in God for easy. It’s not. It’s also not supposed to be.

Tom Petty was right, the waiting is the hardest part. At least for me. I’m naturally impatient, maybe we all are to some extent.

We want answers and easy fixes RIGHT NOW. And it’s easy to be discouraged when we don’t get them.

But God grows us through trials and difficult circumstances.

And it only seems like nothing’s happening.

God is always at work on the other side of the mountain.

I don’t regret, for even a minute, making the decision to not give up in the face of seemingly hopeless circumstances. And I have found joy in perseverance, even on the worst days. (Romans 5:3-4).

Again, I’m not pretending it’s easy. If you want to give up, good. That means you’re normal.

What I’m saying is, just don’t.

Nobody’s walking around with massive stockpiles of faith, reserves they can just dip into on demand. That’s not how God works.

He says to renew our minds daily.

Even Jesus had to make time to be alone with God at the beginning and end of every day.

God really does give us the manna our soul needs today.

I’m convinced that the greatest place to be in life is totally dependent on God.

He’s got this.

And so do we, if we trust and obey and if, as Galatians 6:9 says, we do not quit.

Isaiah 40:31 promises strength for those who wait on God. And Psalm 40:1 reminds us that even the king had to wait.

I love what David Mathis says about waiting:

“When you feel the first resistance, let it be a reminder to go Godward. Recalibrate the focus of your faith. Move the weight of your trust off self, where it keeps gravitating back, and consciously reorient on God. Whether it’s simply spare moments or seemingly endless days, waiting is no waste in God’s economy. It is in the delays and the pauses, and in becoming aware of our lack of patience, that he works to save us from self-reliance and revitalize our faith and hope in him.”

I trust in God’s perfect timing and His ability, and desire, to do the impossible and to truly heal.

Don’t you dare tell me that my God can’t. He specializes in fixing what’s broken, breathing life into that which was dead and doing the impossible.

So, yeah, I believe God can. And I believe God will.

And although there isn’t a pretty little bow on this story yet, I can look you in the eye and tell you that I believe more today than ever. (Hebrews 11:1) The fact that I can say that is a testament to God’s grace and love. Nothing else…

For all those who’ve prayed, believed, encouraged or lent support throughout this time–emotionally, logistically, provisionally and/or spiritually–all I can say is, thanks. Especially you late night pep talkers. I am grateful beyond words.

Keep praying. Keep believing…

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Praising God in the storm

lovebelieves:

I was in the middle of writing on this same subject when this piece popped up in my feed. I put the pen down, because it cannot be said better than this.
As we heed into the week of Thanksgiving, this is an absolute must read!

“I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.
Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness.
– Lamentations 3:20-23

Originally posted on daughter by design:

I am thankful for, thankful for, thankful for hardships, thankful list

I’ve always wished that my life was perfect, pain-free, and easy.

But that’s never guaranteed when you are Christian.

God says that the path He calls us to walk is narrow, not wide.

It’s not a path that many people will choose because it’s hard.

It’s a path that leads you through valleys and storms.

It’s a path that includes dying to your own self and being different from the world.

It’s a path where you learn to grow in Christ daily and that doesn’t come without pruning, breaking, and pain.

November is the month everyone likes to make a list of things they are thankful for.

And we always include everything that is good.

The food on our tables and roofs over our heads.

Our families and friends.

The daily gifts God gives us from above.

And those are all things we should always be thankful for.

But that’s…

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Un-stuck In The Middle

Saw a great tweet today from @ChristineCaine:

Throughout the Bible, God says things to us like ‘fear not‘ and ‘don’t be afraid‘.

In fact, He says them a lot.

He tells us to be anxious for nothing and to trust in Him. He promises to never leave us and to never forsake us.

And the pages of God’s Word are packed with the stories of normal, broken people who, despite their fears, frailties and failures in their past, trusted Him enough to obey Him, and did crazy awesome things for God.

Fear and faith cannot exist together.

Faith is described in Hebrews 11:1 as being “certain of what we do not see.” It is an absolute belief that God is constantly working behind the scenes in every area of our lives, even when there is no tangible evidence to support that fact.
– via gotquestions.org

If you’ve got a level hanging around the house, pull it out of the toolbox and play with it for a minute. Try to get that bubble in the middle.

See, that level almost perfectly illustrates the struggle between fear and faith in our lives.

Think of the left side as FEAR and the right side as FAITH. When the bubble is on the left, it’s as far away from faith as possible–there’s nothing but fear.

When it’s on the right side, faith is in control and there’s no fear to be found.

The problem is, most of us live in the middle. We’re living a delicate, exhausting balancing act where any little bump can send us one way or the other.

The thing is, God hates the middle. And so do we, if we’re honest.

We’re just close enough to great faith to taste it and feel its power–to know it’s really there–but never take that leap of faith and experience the life God intended for us. A life not ruled by our fears.

Yet it’s the very fear we want to overcome that keeps us from the faith we need to do so.

That’s why they call it a leap of faith.

We’ve gotta get as far away from the fear that keeps us from faith, as possible.

The beauty is, the more we move toward faith, the further we get from those fears. And the stronger our faith grows, the smaller our fears become.

As a boy, David fought a bear and a lion, which gave him the faith to believe that God would help him take on Goliath.

In 1 Samuel 17:37, David says, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear WILL DELIVER ME from the hand of this Philistine.”

David chose to feed his faith and starve his fear, but imagine if he had done the opposite.

What if after the first run-in with a lion or bear he had never gone back to that field?

Or what if David had chosen to run away from that first ferocious animal and spent the rest of his life telling anyone who would listen about the night he barely got away from that lion? Cool story, but so much less than God had planned for him.

His destiny and, as it turns out, all of human history would’ve been completely different.

Instead, his faith was rewarded with victory, diminishing his fear and building his faith even further. Those successes gave him the confidence to be courageous and do even greater things. And eventually be king!

And yet, doubt and fear never completely go away. Even for a man like David. But he knew the key to keeping fear at bay. Look what he wrote in Psalm 56:3, “when I am afraid, I will trust in You!”

That’s a good plan for us too.

Let’s be brave. Let’s trust in God, stop living in the middle and take that leap of faith.

More: Christine Caine
Bethel Music

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