Thursday, July 15, 2010

Where do you…

One of God's greatest gifts to mankind is the human mind – our capacity to think.

Thinking drives our lives; in other words, our beliefs shape our behavior.

Think about that for a moment.

Why do you do the things you do?

You believe that it will produce a desired outcome, right?

But what if your beliefs are misguided, false, or based on a lie?

Wouldn't you want to know?

Sure, you would, unless your stubborn or insane!

So, why is it we struggle with seeking truth together?

The apostle Paul realized that ideas/beliefs could revolutionize our lives:

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind
(Romans 12:2)

Here's my question: where do you go to get your mind renewed?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Let’s talk…

We've been teaching a lot about how discipline in one area of our life will spill over into others. So with a little bit of "prodding" by an unnamed friend (@Craigin) and the need to practice discipline…I'm back at it!

If you follow me on twitter (@brianb8) or Facebook you might have seen my recent postings on "individual rights".

  • When I say "individual rights" what do you think?
  • What would you give up your individual rights for?
  • Would you give up your "right" to a place in line?

In the book of Romans it says to "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind", basically to change the way we think about things. I'd like to start a conversation that may change the way we think about "individual rights"…you game?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter Week - Wednesday

It's Wednesday morning and if you are one of the disciples you can't seem to get the stories that Jesus told last night out of your head.

He told stories about wise and evil slaves; bridesmaids and wedding guest; servants entrusted with talents (money); sheep and goats, all things that are familiar to you.

But, "what is He trying to tell me?"

You start replaying the conversations in your head and you are reminded how the conversation got started, someone asked about the coming of the end.

What do all these have to do with that?

You start putting the pieces together, almost like a puzzle one piece at a time.

"Be ready."
"Keep looking with anticipation for His return."
"Many will miss it because they weren't ready."
"Am I faithful?"
"What did I do with what I have been given?"
"I've got to be about His business!"

The pieces are fitting together, you start to see the picture in the puzzle; it's Him in all His splendor, He's coming back!

Do you live with that kind of anticipation, as a bride anxiously awaiting her wedding day? Or, is it something you rarely, if ever think about?

Are you more about your "bucket list" or the return of our King?

There's a change coming, don't miss it!

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Our prayers today should be focused on what Jesus prayed for - unity:

20"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
24"Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

John 17:20-24

Do we seek unity, to be one, with other churches who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior?

Or, are we promoting ourselves at the expense of what God is doing in another church?

In James 4:7 it says "Resist the devil" devil, Diablo, means to throw over, to divide, to split.

By our words and actions are we bringing division instead of unity to the body of Christ?

Pray that we may be one!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Today our prayers will be about forgiveness.

"Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive" Col 3:13

Not sure, what stuck out for you when you read that verse; was it dealing with your own forgiveness or having to forgive someone else?

Here's the deal. Until you've experienced forgiveness it's really hard to give forgiveness. Forgiveness is a gift; it's not something you can give yourself.

But what about forgiving myself?

It doesn't start there, not sure it ever gets there.

1 God, be merciful to me
       because you are loving.
    Because you are always ready to be merciful,
       wipe out all my wrongs.
 2 Wash away all my guilt
       and make me clean again.
 3 I know about my wrongs,
       and I can't forget my sin.
 4 You are the only one I have sinned against;
       I have done what you say is wrong.
Psalm 51

The first thing we have to understand is that our wrongs, our sin, is against God and God alone. The second thing is that He is offering to forgive us, to wipe out all my wrongs, to wash me clean and that is a gift. There is nothing I can do to earn that, it is totally a gift, a gift I accept or reject.

If we reject it we will be like David and say "I can not forget my sin", "I cannot forgive myself".

Have you accepted the gift?


"Forgive us our debts. Forgive us for our failures to keep honest accounts with our neighbors. Forgive us for refusing the gifts that are given and stealing what is not ours to have. Forgive us for using the gift of language to deceive. Forgive us for using the gift of sexuality to seduce. Forgive us for using the gift of strength to abuse and murder. Forgive us for using the gift of plenty to impoverish another."
(Eugene Peterson)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Change me

This past weekend we looked at the Lord's Prayer and the parable that followed. I talked about how the verbs come, give, forgive, bring not, lend, ask, seek, knock are asked by one person to another, connecting people in away that things get changed. Prayer is action, not giving in to the way things are, it is a conversation that changes things.

Think about your request for change; is it more about changing the circumstances you are in or changing other people who are around you?

Today I would like us to focus on "personal renewal", about changing our own hearts.

I'm asking you to join me in praying what can be one of the scariest prayers in the Bible.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
      test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
      and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Psalm 139

How many of us want God to test us, know our thoughts, to show us the evil that is in us?

That is a very hard prayer to pray if you are not seeking one thing.

1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Col 3:1-3

Where is your focus: on the things above or here on earth?

Do you see this time as preparation for the next?

God test me, show me, change ME!

Monday, February 22, 2010


Yesterday we talked about prayer being an intimate conversation. Think about a conversation you might have had recently where someone went on, and on, and on, and on…you get the picture. We would say that person is "babbling". Interesting thing, we get that word from when a people wanted to be their own gods and built a tower with their own hands. They didn't want or think they needed God.

If it is to be a conversation there needs to be pauses, commas, breaks, points of silence, otherwise it is just a monologue. That seems to be our primary method of prayer, we speak and God does all the listening.

I think we should start the week there; just by being silent and listening. Silence is a non-negotiable in prayer; Jesus did it by withdrawing, going somewhere, getting alone.

What about you?

How will you "be still and know that he is God"?

Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, Deut 8:12-14

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I’m not going to kill them?

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.

Look at the highlighted words in those verses.

What is the first thing that comes to mind?

War, murder, fights, quarrels; strong language, huh?

Maybe you're thinking those verses don't apply to me because "I'm just having a disagreement, not sure you would even call it an argument; I'm certainly not going to kill them."

But, have you set a spark that might burn down a great forest; is the little leading to the big?

Wars don't just happen over night; they start little and grow.

Gregory Stanton, the founder of Genocide Watch says there are 8 stages that lead to genocide.

  • Distinguish – There is a division that happens. Is your desire to win the argument causing a divide in your relationship? Is it becoming "us against them"?
  • Classify - Is there enough of a divide that you've given them a name? You know, you refer to them as a "_________" to describe the division.
  • Dehumanize – Then we start to describe them in terms that are not human – a plaque, cancer, dog, anything that might equate them with animals, vermin, insects or diseases.
  • OrganizeWe form our support groups against them. Think of how many people you are trying to get to see your side of the argument.
  • Polarize – The argument might have started over a minor issue, but now you start focusing on the extreme elements of your division.
  • Preparation – Battle plans are drawn. We are going to "war".
  • ExterminationYou destroy the others. The world is better off!
  • DenialYou deny that it ever happened, that they existed.

Does that change you perspective on the situation? Where are you headed, to war?

Jesus said "For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,…"

James' point: you need to get a "new heart"!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The issue is not the issue

"What causes fights and quarrels among you?

Who are you arguing with and what's the issue?

The issue is not the issue.

It's not about the issue when it escalates into a war; it's about your heart and your selfish desires.

Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?"

James says that the cause of arguments is conflicting desires.

When my desires/wants conflict with your desires/wants chances are I'm going to say something with my tongue that will cause sparks to fly and burn a great forest down!

"You want what you don't have ... you long for what others have ..."

Have you ever fought that battle inside, you know, the one where you see something and you can't get it off your mind? I've got to have it!

If I just had it, my world would be great!

Things are not bad in themselves, God created things to be used and to enjoy. But when we start loving things over people we end up using people -- manipulating them, controlling them, and moving them around to get what we want because things become more important.

Why do you think people argue about money in marriage?

Money is not the issue; the issue is conflicting desires over what we want.

"... you want only what will give you pleasure"

If you're like me, you want to feel good, be comfortable, to have your senses satisfied, right? Is that wrong?

It's not wrong to enjoy life. 1 Timothy 6:17 "God made everything for our enjoyment."

But when pleasure
becomes the #1 goal -- you're asking for conflict.

When I'm more interested in my
comfort than yours and all I think about is what makes me feel good, there's going to be a fight!

Why do you think people argue about sex in marriage?

The desire for pleasure is strong.

When it is thwarted, resentment builds up and sooner or later there's going to be an explosion!

So, What causes fights and quarrels among you?

Monday, January 25, 2010


I spent most of the morning with 16, 17, & 18 year olds who lost a friend named Trey in an auto accident on Saturday night.

As I spent time with them I was trying to recall how I felt nearly 30 years ago when a close friend of mine, Trey Jackson, was killed in a car wreck a block from his house.

A little over a year later my father passed away at the age of 46, I was 19.

What was I feeling?
What was going through my head at the time?

At that age death is tough, there are so many questions.

What about at your age?

What are your questions?

Are you looking for answers?

I think most of us don't bother.

Today I was reminded of Colossians 3:1 "You have been raised to life with Christ. Now set your heart on what is in heaven, where Christ rules at God's right side."

The phrase "set your hearts on" means a search or quest. The same word is used in the search for the lost sheep Matt 18:12), the lost coin ((Luke 15:8), the merchant looking for the pearl (Matt 13:45).

If that's the case, shouldn't we be on a diligent, active, single-minded search for Christ and Heaven?

Seek and you shall find…

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Simple thought…

16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.  17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. James 3:16-18

Just a simple thought to "chew on" today?

Do my words divide people, or do they bring them together?

  • Evil – Devil – Diablo = to separate, to throw across, to divide
  • Peace – Shalom = wholeness, complete, unity

If my words show my heart…where am I?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Watch your…

Sorry for no post yesterday, I had the opportunity to practice
not boasting, in the most tempting of all circumstances! I spent the day riding over to St. Augustine with some awesome guys who are pastors and then sitting in a "huddle" with other pastors who are just starting small groups in their churches. Just trust me; I was being convicted of my pride all day!

How'd you do?

You know the game the "Tongue is Hell Fire". Did you try?

If you tried, you burnt up didn't you? Knew you would, that was the intent. You can't do it (James' words not mine).

"All kinds of animals birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue.

As hard as we try we can't tame the tongue. That's the problem; all of our lives we have been told to watch our words, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all", right?

Jesus says In Matt 15 "Are you being willfully stupid? Don't you know that anything that is swallowed works its way through the intestines and is finally defecated? But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart. It's from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing. That's what pollutes."

He is saying don't watch your words, watch your heart!

James says
"If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check."
James first reminds us that
we ALL stumble, so we are not perfect, then he says it takes a perfect man to tame the tongue. There is only one perfect man, his name is Jesus.

So here's the question…have you spent all of your life trying to control your tongue? It's kind of like the game, it's pointless!

"For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks."
Matt. 12:34

Turn your heart over to the perfect one and watch the words flow out of your mouth!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Game – Tongue is Hell Fire!

3When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

Your tongue can take you places! Think about how far you can go if you are an eloquent person – President; sing & write lyrics – make you millions; or a few simple words can bring you fame – "Pants on the ground".

Or, it can light a fire. Harry Reid, the senator from Nevada, spoke a few misplaced words and his life has been dominated by them for weeks.

A well placed compliment can create a friend, get you a date, find you a spouse, or get you a job!

Too foolish a word and you can destroy a friendship.

Our tongue can make people feel great, feel bad, can burn your house down!

One careless word can have disastrous consequences!

Last week John Thayer posted an event on FB called "The Floor is Lava", where any indoor, non-removable floor is lava. If you step on the lava, you're out. Whoever makes it the whole day without stepping on the lava, wins.

So I suggested we play a similar game, since our tongue is so powerful and has the ability to cause great destruction, it's called "The Tongue is Hell Fire!"

Here are the rules:

  • Do not complain or grumble
  • Do not Boast
  • Do not gossip or spread bad info about someone
  • Do not run someone down
  • Do not defend or excuse yourself
  • Always affirm other people

See how long you make it today before you set something on fire!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Silver-tongue ______________

We all stumble in many ways. (James 3:2a)

Everybody messes up…you may not struggle with pride, but maybe its lust for you; not lust, but maybe in faith; not _______, but ________.

What is it for you?

James is again reminding us "Don't get arrogant!"

Why, isn't this about our tongues, our words, our speech?

He's about to confront arrogance head on! Don't we think we have mastered our tongues because we are able to control others by the use of it?

Has God gifted you with a "silver tongue"? Can you get people to do what you want with your words?

If so, where does that take you?

Does it lead you towards more status, more power, more possessions, more pleasures, more pride?

Do you see it? He is so crafty…he gets us to think that because we can control others with our words we are some how better than them; we are in control of our lives; we're good!

But, are we?

If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check." (James 3:2b)

James is saying you maybe able to control others with your words, but you can't control your own desires.

"You silver-tongue devil, we all stumble…"

Monday, January 18, 2010

Don’t use Her!

1Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. James 3:1

Bard Letsinger just posted how much of an influence teachers can have in someone's life.

Do you remember one who influenced you?

Was it in a positive or negative way?

Are you old enough to remember when the position of "Teacher" garnered respect and honor?

It was especially true in James' day; many were eager to be teachers because this was a place of status, and they were status-seekers.

We are in a series called "Antidote", how we need a substance which can counteract the poisoning which comes from the Lust of the flesh - passion, pleasure; Lust of the eyes - possessions, materialism; and the Pride of life - position, status.

James is trying to confront the "pride of life" head on!

As he is saying this, I can just imagine him replaying this scene in his mind:

1Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:

    2The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law are experts in the Law of Moses. 3So obey everything they teach you, but don't do as they do. After all, they say one thing and do something else.

James confront duplicity so often…be consistent!

    4They pile heavy burdens on people's shoulders and won't lift a finger to help. 5Everything they do is just to show off in front of others. They even make a big show of wearing Scripture verses on their foreheads and arms, and they wear big tassels for everyone to see. 6They love the best seats at banquets and the front seats in the meeting places. 7And when they are in the market, they like to have people greet them as their teachers. 8But none of you should be called a teacher. You have only one teacher, and all of you are like brothers and sisters. 9Don't call anyone on earth your father. All of you have the same Father in heaven. 10None of you should be called the leader. The Messiah is your only leader. 11Whoever is the greatest should be the servant of the others. 12If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored.

Jesus loves His bride so much! He won't tolerate a servant, in charge of the Master's treasure, who's is going to use her for their benefit. That is why those who teach, lead, or shepherd will be held to a higher standard, because He loves His bride!

I am honored be one of those servants. Please pray for me and the other servants of FOTH that we will come humbly, with a healthy fear of Him, we will tremble before his Word, and genuinely love people.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Gift in the Back of the Closet - James 2:20-22

Bard Letsinger is a friend of mine, whom I served with at Parkway Church. Over the last year Bard and his wife Mollie have been really learning what it means to surrender as they prepare to "plant" a new church. I've asked Bard if he would share his thoughts on the book of James with us on a regular basis. Enjoy!

About six years ago for Christmas my father gave me a knife set to use while hunting. Growing up with a ranch in South Texas makes hunting deer a way of life and an activity I look forward to every fall. It was an expensive set with various specialized blades, axes, saws and tools, everything you needed for cleaning a deer. It was a wonderful gift, one I could definitely use, and one that anyone who saw it sitting in my truck would immediately know I was a hunter. When I received the gift however I had already taken two deer for that season and did not see myself using it any time soon. I took it and put it away in the closet behind some of my other hunting gear with the intention of using it the next hunting season.

The next deer season came and I forgot to take the gift, still tucked away in the back of the closet, to the ranch. I wound up having borrowing my father's knives a couple of times. When I did he would ask "where's the gift I gave you last Christmas". The next deer season the same thing happened. The season after that I did not get anything and never had need for the gift. After a few years I completely forgot about gift, until this past fall I rediscovered it the closet behind a jacket.

Sometimes we treat our faith the same way.

When by faith we receive the wonderful gift of salvation we are so excited. It is special, just like a great gift on Christmas morning. But like my knife set we can take our faith and put it on a shelf in a closet in the back of our mind and never put it to work in our day to day lives. That is a foolish thing to do.

James 20-22 says "But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected;"

The knife set was a gift given to me that was always in my possession, but I was getting no benefit from it because I was not using it. But just because I was not using it my father did not come and take from me. It is the same with our faith. If we do not use our faith our Heavenly Father will not take away the gift of salvation. However, unless we use it not only will we not receive any benefit from it in this life but we are missing a great opportunity for others to see God work through us, just like He did with Abraham.

This hunting season I remembered to take the knife set my father gave me to the ranch. I did not have an opportunity to use it, got skunked again this year, but at least I was ready. Are you ready to use your faith today? Or are you going to keep it under your jacket in the back of your closet? The choice is yours.

You can find Bard's blog here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Why not?

In yesterday's post I asked the question "Do you long for your inheritance?"

Maybe you're thinking NO, because I have none!

If that's the case, then it certainly affects the way you live, right?

Would you say you view life "half-empty"; more pessimistic, than optimistic; not sure if there is anything you can count on?

Do live without a sense of certainty, skeptical of a future, so I better get it all now?

But what if you had an inheritance, how would you live?

I think I would be "marking off the days" until I got it!

I would live more generously.

I would worry less about stuff and my future.

I would be able to focus on a hope in tough situations.

I would be more secure in my identity.

I would see things differently because I had hope.

I would really love whoever gave me the inheritance!

Is that the way you live?

If not, you can!

…because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God,…when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God's guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him. Eph 1:11, 13, 14

What does this have to do with James?

Well, James would be right up in your face asking "why not?" If you claim to have real faith why aren't you living like it?

The author of Hebrews would be a little kinder and state: 1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1

Do you live with that certainty, that confidence, that assurance, that kind of faith?

14 For the LORD will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance. Psalm 94:14

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A bad thing?

Chatting on FB yesterday I had one of our college students ask me for some help. He was doing an assignment for a class and wanted to know what I thought was one of the major problems in the US. No, I didn't give the "Sunday School" answer…sin; I said "entitlement". I'm owed something.

Is entitlement such a bad thing?

Wiki says "entitlement" refers, in a more casual sense, to someone's belief that one is deserving of some particular reward or benefit.

Bad thing?

I love hanging out and investing in the next generation, but it is truly reverse mentoring for me. Many college students come to me looking for answers, but in their questions, I grow; such is the case with this. This morning God used James to remind me just when I get proud of my wisdom that "His ways are not my ways", humbled me and changed my thoughts.

5Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? James 2:5

You see God's people have been longing for their "inheritance", their "entitlement" for…well, since the book of Genesis. Going to Wiki again, an heir is a person who is entitled to receive a share of the decedent's property. The concept of "inheritance" is progressively revealed from Genesis to Revelation and one which we seemed to have forgotten.

I asked Sunday "what's the difference between inheritance and wage?"

A wage you have to earn, which is what we have become accustomed to here in the US. An inheritance is a gift.

What does it mean to you?

Do you long for it?

"Chew" on that thought…I'll pick it back up tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

“Is that?”

2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? James 2:2-3

As I was reading this I thought, "I did that!"

Over Thanksgiving weekend there was a National 12 year old Boys/Girls Tennis Open here @ FSU that my wife helped run and my youngest son Drew played in. Some of the best 12 year olds in the country and overseas came to Tallahassee to play in it.

Here's where this verse hits home. One of the boy's fathers was a nationally known TV celebrity. He was an incredibly humble, gracious man who was just there to be "dad" and watch his son play. Since my wife was running the "tennis desk" we knew he would be there, but no one else did. You would see people taking second looks and then respond to each other "is that?"

Because of who he was, I found my self wanting to get to know him and did. Drew and his son became double's partners, so over the next 4 days we spent quite a bit of time talking and hanging out. He and his family were so incredibly normal, down to earth, humble people, who we enjoyed establishing a relationship with.

But, even during that time God kept putting that thought in the back of my head "would
you be giving the same attention to homeless guy across the street?"

Truth is most days I do try to stop and talk to the homeless guys, but I definitely showed "special attention" to the celebrity, even bragged about hanging out with him. "Ah, the pride of life thing!"

I am so thankful that as Romans 2:11 says "God doesn't show favoritism" and that He is at work in me because I definitely need it!

Take sometime and read or reread the previous day's post and change the way you see people.

Monday, January 11, 2010


"My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism."
James 2:1

You, like I, might have a tendency just to read right over this verse without much thought. We've heard it all of our lives, treat everyone the same, no favorites, right?

Look a little deeper at this, I think it will not only change your view, but maybe change the way you act.

He's talking about prejudice, partiality, and favoritism. It literally means "to receive somebody's face" -- to receive somebody at face value, on the basis of how they look, superficial judgment. James says, "Don't do that. Don't accept people just on superficial judgments."

That changes things. Think of how we make superficial judgments based on:

Appearance – "You only get one chance to make a first impression!" How many times did you hear that growing up? Why? Beauty is everything in our world. How you're dressed definitely influences how you relate to people.

Come on, don't you judge people immediately by how they look?

Ancestry -- Age -- Achievement – and the most common, Affluence, whether they're rich or poor.

Which one do you struggle with most?

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.

Romans 12:2

Read over the next 2 verses and let God change your thinking.

7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
1 Samuel 16:7

5Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?
James 2:5

As you go through the day look at the faces you pass and ask "how did I receive their face?"

Friday, January 8, 2010

That was humiliating!

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation James 1:9-10

Boast in my humiliation, really?

What humiliating experience are you most proud of?

I think most of us would prefer to forget, hide, or bury those times!

That verse should be wake up call for us!

What James is talking about is our "earthly" resources, possessions, finances. James is saying that poverty and wealth will be one of the greatest trials we face as followers of Christ.

Have you experienced that?

Maybe you're not sure how you are going to survive and all of your focus is on that.

Maybe you've got more stuff than you know what to do with, but your identity is so tied to what you own, you've got to get more.

Think about this in light of the 3 sins we've talked about; Lust of the flesh - passion, pleasure; Lust of the eyes - possessions, materialism; and the Pride of life - position, status.

Don't we all, no matter of financial standing, look to those things to bring us happiness, security, identity, worth, value, comfort?

3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 2 Cor 11:3

James is trying to expose the "lie" that our value, our worth is determined by our wealth on this world. He is reminding us that "true" riches are found in our inheritance in the Kingdom of God. He is also speaking to an audience who believed that your earthly wealth was determined by your faith; the faithful prospered and the wicked suffered. Sound familiar?

The antidote for the lust of the flesh is integrity; for the lust of the eyes is generosity; and the pride of life is humility.

Ask God to reveal the lies you believe, to bring them out of the darkness and expose them to the light. Ask him to give you the strength to "die to yourself" and practice humility, generosity and integrity!

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
2 Cor 11:30






Thursday, January 7, 2010

Not sure?

6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:6-8

Have you ever been in a spot where you needed God to come through?

You know, those times where you are crying out to God to come to your rescue, to provide for you, to heal someone, etc.

You're desperate!

You're depending on God to come through, BUT if He doesn't, you're not sure what you will do…BUT you need a plan!

Remember this is about knowing what to do when you face trials; it's about wisdom to endure and thrive in spite of them. But ultimately it's about faith in God, who is the giver of all good gifts, and whether you trust Him.

We have a choice between drawing near to God in adversity and following His plan, or arrogantly following our own way.

James is saying is that we had better not ask for wisdom from God unless we are also willing to follow the wisdom He provides and trust His ways.

That got me to thinking about when I say "I'm not sure what to do".

I need to check to see if I've first asked God for wisdom and then secondly, am I truly committed to following His ways, do I trust Him?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


What is it in your life right now that is causing you stress?

Seriously, stop and think about it? Now thank God for it. Yes, I said thank God for it.

Am I crazy? Well…


Because it has the potential
to produce a great good, if you let it. Look at this:

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

Steadfastness literally means to abide under.

How are you doing at that? Are you a person who can "abide under" a great deal of stress, pressure, trials?

Whatever it is you are going through right now, it has the potential to produce something wonderful in your future, but…you have to let it.

4 And let steadfastness have its full effect,

How often to we rush to get out it or away from it?

that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

There is a potential for good in every painful situation, but you can go through pain and not learn from it. Locked with in every trial is potential to make you whole, a better person, a new creation. Think about the people you know who make it through incredible situations and it made them better. Usually they come out tough skinned, but with a soft heart, they have a greater love for people. They are tough in the right places and soft in right places, they are more complete.

When you go through pain, what is it you're lacking?

5  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Pain has the potential to make you wise.

If you remember our series on Proverbs we talked about 3 kinds of people; the naïve, the fool, and the mocker. We said that at various times we are all naïve because we lack the experience or the wisdom to handle a situation. So, guess what produces wisdom, pain.

Many of you are paying FSU a great deal of money for an education, to acquire knowledge, but that is different than wisdom. Wisdom is an understanding of how reality works and how to navigate it well. It's different than knowledge; you can be a genius and not navigate this earth well!

Look at your trials differently; they have the potential to make you wise.

Now that doesn't mean you need to go out and do a bunch of stupid things so you can become wise! James says that those things, those trials will come your way, no need to create them!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Missing something

We have been planning on teaching James for over a year now, but to be honest I was more excited to teach the series coming up in February. After reading James this past week I realized why, James isn't something I need to preach as much as it is something I need to learn.

 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Have you ever said or heard someone say "my life is just missing something"? Or maybe you've said "I just want my faith to grow deeper." Look at how James says that happens…trials, adversity!

Does it change your thoughts?

…that the testing of your faith…

Trials our like a stress test for our faith, it is God's way of showing us where we really are, to show us our deficiencies.

I have a history of heart problems in my family, my father passed away of a heart attack at the age of 46, the age I am at now. I should be getting regular check ups and stress tests to see that I'm ok, but I am a man and we tend to think we're ok, we don't need it.

Now before you start judging me, think about you and your faith. Here's what I see about most of us who call ourselves "Christ-followers", we think we're basically okay, except for our sin. Hey, we got Jesus for that, so we're good, not much else needs to change. "I don't need a check up."

In fact, don't we get prideful thinking we're ok and those "other" people aren't? There it is again, the pride of life; you know the status/position thing.

When we think we are okay and we don't need anything from God, but those people do, we deceive ourselves. Trials bring us humility, which is the antidote for pride; they bring us front and center in our need for God and we cry out.

Can you see how the trial in front of you right now might be making you complete?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Who do you serve?

"James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,"
James 1:1a

Servant is the first word that hit me when I opened the book of James and started reading. If you've attended FOTH for any length of time you have probably heard me mention how the word "meditating" means to chew on something, like a dog chewing on a bone, to savor it. Well that's what happened with the word "servant" for me.

I kept thinking who do I serve? Really, who?

Can I truly say "I'm a servant of Christ"? I'm I truly committed to saying "yes and Amen" to anything he ask?

So many times our "service" is really a form of self love, usually in a pursuit of personal significance through something like praise, power, or status.

Sound, familiar? There it is the 'pride of life" again. It is so subtle, it creeps into our lives.

I don't know about you, but in my life I can get so wrapped up in "doing" that I don't slow down enough to be still and check my motives. I can be engaged in all kinds of service while actually serving my own neurotic needs—acceptance from others, feelings of significance, control, praise, position, power, and prestige. I can serve to feel important rather than because I love Him who first loved me.

Read through Romans 12:1-8, it is all about being a servant, but at the end we are warned "Let love be without hypocrisy".

Is your service, your love without hypocrisy?

"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45)


Friday, January 1, 2010

Humility – antidote to pride

"James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,"
James 1:1a

We have decided to start 2010 by studying the book of James and asking God to show us where we are have gotten off track; what are the lies we are believing?

Since today is the beginning of a New Year, let's first go back to the beginning (Genesis 3) to see how we got "off the path":

"We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it,
or you will die.' "

God didn't say that, Eve added to God's word, this is huge; when we
add to God's Word (our thoughts, feelings, etc.) it equals devastation. Think about how society has added to God's Word.

 4"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

Satan questioned God's goodness and denies God's justice. He is saying that God is a liar
and that he is with holding on you.

Do you ever feel like God is withholding something or some one from you?

 6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was (1) good for food and (2) pleasing to the eye, and (3) also desirable for gaining wisdom,

Those 3 things that constantly get us into trouble: Lust of the flesh - passion, pleasure; Lust of the eyes - possessions, materialism; and the Pride of life - position, status.

Eve gave in (so do we) and was poisoned, so to speak. That's why we are calling this series "Antidote". Antidote is a substance to
counteract the poisoning.

Ok, back to James.

Notice how the author identifies himself simply as James.

This presents us with a bit of a problem since the New Testament refers to several men as "James." When we started "promoting" this series in December, we used a "tease" by saying "James is coming!" The response we got most often was "Who is James?"

We could ask the same question today, is it James, the son of Alphaeus; James, the son of Zebedee, and brother of John; or James, the half-brother of Jesus? Most agree that the author is James, the half-brother of Jesus.

Here's the first thing I want you think about; if Jesus was your brother, how would you introduce yourself?

Did you recognize it?

The "Pride of Life", position, status, it's so easy to fall for it.

Aren't we always trying to make something of ourselves?

James didn't and neither did Jesus who made himself nothing (Phil 2:7).

Humility is the antidote for the "pride of life", you take it every time you don't promote yourself.

Let's start off 2010 by practicing that!