Church Life, Inspirational

5 Ways to Encourage Our World to Want Jesus Again

This weekend we celebrate Palm Sunday, a remembrance of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem. It was the first day of a significant week in human history. But the people didn’t know it was the week Jesus would die. For them, it was a time of celebration.

When Jesus rode a donkey into the city, people were excited, joyful, and basically threw a city-wide party. All of the commotion even got the attention of the city’s big wigs. No one, other than Jesus, was looking to the cross and tomb. They were ready for a new reality, a new King and Kingdom.

The gospels tell us about the crowd who lined the streets, the branches and cloaks thrown on the ground, and the shouts of “Hosanna” and praises. Despite all the events of the end of the week, the people gladly welcomed Jesus. I wonder if He would be so gladly welcomed into our cities.

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Inspirational

Why did God create so much?

My wife and I recently watched The Martian again. Having read the book after seeing it last, I wanted to see what was missing, and fill her in on some of those gaps. It’s an incredible tale of survival, hope, and the decision to continue. (If you haven’t seen the movie or read the book, be warned there is a degree of language in both.)

At one point, Astronaut Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon, is on a long journey to another landing site on the planet. Along the way, he describes how he is the first to do so many things on Mars. He even states, “I’m the first person to be alone on an entire planet.”

Considering all that just one planet can contain, and having in mind the unfathomable number of stars and planets floating around out there, my wife made an interesting comment. “It makes you wonder why God made so much.”

When I went to our prayer meeting at church Sunday night, I hadn’t yet taken the time to think about what she said. But as I was walking and praying, I found an answer. God created all of that we see around us and dream about in the great, wide universe. But why?

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Inspirational

Stop reading the Bible like it’s meant to be a “feel good” book

The Bible is the single most important book every written. It describes how God created a universe to be the home for a people He made and gave life to, so He could forever live in relationship with them.

I could rattle off a bunch of statistics of how the Bible was written, has survived centuries, and its spread through languages, people groups, and nations. But many books have traversed the world with their stories and messages.

I’m not here to convince you of the uniqueness of the Bible. I’m not writing to convince you of its place in the world or the truth of its message. Chances are high that if you’ve read this far, you already own a Bible and believe at least some of what it says.

The Bible is more than a story. Its message is beyond “inspirational”. But when we open the Bible to read “a good book” or even to feel better about ourselves or life because we read a few lines or pages, we end up putting it down in disappointment.

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Inspirational

Do you know the REAL reason for the season?

It’s a popular tag line this time of year, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” It falls in line with another I see on billboards around the city I live in, “Keep Christ in Christmas.” These are some of the ways we try to remind the world about Jesus at the time when so many other messages distract them from the message of Jesus’ coming.

Unfortunately, it comes across as a bunch of hokey semantics and religious nuttiness. And I don’t if you’ve heard, but a lot of people are allergic to nuts.

According to Google, a cliche is “a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.” Do you think these apply?

After all, even Christians get tired of hearing these things. But it also betrays how little we understand about the coming of God’s Son. Jesus is not the reason for the season. We are.

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Inspirational

You CAN be super at spiritual disciplines

Prayer. Bible reading. Scripture memorization. Fasting. Worship. These are a few of the spiritual disciplines we hear about the most. We know they are valuable. We understand how they should have a regular place in our lives. When pastor preaches it, we “amen” him all day long. But it still seems so hard.

If you are waiting for spiritual disciplines to become easy, you’ll wait for a long time. No fresh recruit goes straight into S.E.A.L. training. No one who sees a video of that training thinks they can jump off their couch and jump right in.

Spiritual disciplines are essential to spiritual living because of the spiritual battle we face all day, every day. Yet they rarely come naturally. They take work. We face challenges as we attempt to integrate them into our daily lives.  But they don’t have to be as hard as they sound, and we don’t have to master them overnight. Despite the difficulty, we can learn to be “super” at them.

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Inspirational

If your personal harvest is coming … are you ready for it?

Autumn is a time when leaves change and crisp air moves in for those of us in North America. School is in full swing and Thanksgiving holidays are planned. Living in Canada as an American, I get to celebrate one in October and another in November.

Harvest and Thanksgiving fit together easily, and a message of personal or congregational harvest follows the theme. “Your harvest is coming.” “God has promised us a harvest, and we’ll be blessed as we receive it.”

According to Scripture, there is one important qualifier to the personal harvest headed our way. If you believe God’s harvest for you is about land in your life, you should buckle your seat belt and remind yourself of this truth. You might be in for more than you’re prepared for.

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Inspirational

Your today deserves as much attention as your dreams for tomorrow

The call to be more than we currently are is everywhere. No matter your talent or skill, you have the ability to market and monetize yourself so you can fulfill your dream and get out of your mediocre life.

From television infomercials to the Christian Living section at the local bookstore, the message is clear: Your currently life can be shed for one that is much better. Of course, don’t forget to buy the latest technological tool or five-step outline to fame and fortune while you’re here.

Who doesn’t want to quit their 9-to-5 and strike it rich doing the one thing they love? I would much rather write all day than take calls from strangers in a call center. Everyone has a dream job they would jump into if they could.

But we can’t. Most of us have to work jobs we don’t like so we can pay bills, have a place to live, and bring home food to eat. Is that wrong? Are failing ourselves by living like that? Or has the call to “leave it all behind” and “be all you can be” taken a turn into dangerous territory?

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