Showing posts with label Commitment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Commitment. Show all posts

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Sunday Prayer: Set My Mind On Things Above


Father in Heaven,

I come before you with a heart full of gratitude and praise. I ask that you open my heart and mind to your wisdom as I meditate on your truth that is revealed in the Bible. I thank you for the guidance you have given to me through Scripture and I commit to aligning my life to its truth.

Father, empower me to set my heart on things above, the things of heaven. May I not be consumed by the distractions and temptations of the world, but rather my I be focused on you and your character.

Help me to die to my flesh and rise again as a new creation in Jesus, filled with your Spirit and empowered to live a life of holiness and righteousness. I pray that my mind may be renewed by your truth and that I may be transformed by the power of your love. May I seek first your kingdom and your righteousness, and trust that you will provide all my needs.

Fill me with the joy and peace that come from knowing Jesus, and may my life be a testimony to your grace and goodness. And may all glory and honor be given to you, now and forever. Amen.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Philippians: Timothy and Epaphroditus


STOP — Philippians 2:19-30


Paul was in prison, but he still wanted to maintain contact with the churches he helped start. He told the Philippians that he wanted to send Timothy to them to let them know how Paul was getting along. Paul commends Timothy for his faithfulness to the Gospel and his commitment to Paul. The plan was to send Timothy to them after the decision about Paul was made, and Paul was hopeful that he could travel and see the Philippians after he was released.

Since it could be a while before those visits could happen, Paul decided to send Epaphroditus back to Philippi. Epaphroditus carried the letter and care package to Paul from the Philippians. He had been a great help to Paul in prison, even risking his life since he got sick in the process. Paul wanted the Philippians to receive him back with the knowledge that he accomplished his task and then some.


Faithfulness and commitment are essential to the life of a disciple.


  1. Paul knew that the Philippians were interested in how things were going with him, so he had the plan to send Timothy to them. It is important that we do what we can to keep the lines of communication open.
  2. Timothy set himself apart from other people because of his commitment to the Gospel. In Philippians 2:1-4 Paul wrote about the importance of not looking after your own interests, but also to consider the interests of others. Here, Paul commends Timothy for having that type of attitude.
  3. Face to face time is crucial to relationships. Paul desired to go and see the Philippians again, and he was confident that God would allow that to happen.
  4. Epaphroditus was the letter carrier from the Philippians to Paul. He did more than just carried the letter, he joined in Paul’s work when he arrived. He proved to be a great help to Paul.
  5. In his decision to carry the letter and help Paul, Epaphroditus put his life on the line when he got sick. We don’t know the risks that lay ahead of us, all we can do, like Epaphroditus, is to be faithful in the calling that is right before us.
  6. Paul saw that it was God’s mercy that heal Epaphroditus of his illness and kept Paul and the Philippians from experiencing the distress of his death.
  7. We should honor those people who put their lives on the line for the Gospel.


Lord God, help me to follow the example of Timothy and Epaphroditus, who were faithful to the Gospel and committed to their friend Paul.

Tomorrow: Philippians 3:1-6

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Philippians: The Advance of the Gospel

STOP — Philippians 1:12-20

Paul transitioned to updating the Philippians about his life. The main point that he wanted them to know was that being in prison did not stop him from sharing the Gospel. Two important things happened as Paul shared the Gospel. First, the guards learned about the reason for Paul’s imprisonment and other believers gained confidence to proclaim the Gospel. Along with this was a group of preachers who proclaimed Jesus for financial gain and to cause Paul trouble while he was in prison. This doesn’t bother Paul because he is grateful that the truth of Jesus was being taught. Paul’s concern was that he would continue to bring honor to Jesus and not do anything that might bring shame to Jesus and the church.

We should find joy anytime the truth of the Gospel is rightly taught, because God is honored and people have the chance to believe.

  1. What we may see as obstacles to sharing the Gospel may actually turn it a benefit. The key is being faithful where we are. Paul did not let the reality of being in prison prevent him from sharing the Gospel.
  2. Our faithful example can have a powerful impact on the life of others. Paul’s continued ministry while in prison gave confidence to other people to share the Gospel which allowed for the continued growth of the Church.
  3. We should not let the bad motivations of other people bother us if they are sharing the Gospel. What should bother us is bad behavior and not representing Jesus well. Paul found joy in the sharing of the Gospel, even though the motivations of the preachers were bad.

  4. Even after all his faithful service, Paul was still concerned about representing Jesus well. He did not want to do anything that may bring shame on the name of Jesus and the Church.
Heavenly Father, increase my faith so I can have the confidence of Paul, who was able to continue with his ministry of sharing the Gospel even in prison.

Tomorrow: Philippians 1:21-30

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Committed to the Body

Something that has been on my mind recently is our commitment to the local church.

As a pastor this is something that concerns me a great deal. The church, a local community of Jesus followers, is a gift from God. 

In the church we have people who are there to support us, encourage us, grieve with us, and help us. It is a community where we find acceptance and belonging. At its best a local church provides the environment needed for discipleship to happen.

Granted, local churches are rarely at their best. The realities of poor leadership, personal agendas, and inconsistent attendance make it difficult for the church to feel like home. 

I agree, being part of a local church can be a lot of work and it can be messy. There are many reasons that making a commitment to a local church is difficult.

This morning on Twitter I saw this:

I think many of the problems we have with the various expressions of the local church come back to consumerism. 

We have these expectations of what the church should be like and when it doesn’t live up to our expectations we are willing to leave. It doesn’t matter that we are handicapping that church as they seek to take the Gospel into the world, because our needs aren’t being met.

All our different expectations are not what makes a church a church.

The reality is that there is not much a group of believers need in order to form a church. One thing that is essential for a church to exist is commitment.

We were created to bear God’s image in this world. The full expression of that image comes when we are working together as we love one another as we serve the world. 

That is when we truly become the body of Christ.

This is why leaving a local church family handicaps them. It is like removing a hand, leg, or eye from a person. Sure, he still can function, but his ability to do work is limited.

Leaving a church may not kill the church, but you make it more difficult for them to do ministry.

I am not saying you can never leave a church.

I am saying that by making the church something you attend or a service that you receive, you make it easy to hop from church to church when your expectations are not met. 

In this way you handicap the mission of the church.

Being committed to a local church is a responsibility that we have as followers of Jesus. 

I want to encourage you to commit to a local church, even if the sermons are boring, the music off key, and the people are a mess, because you will be a blessing to them, and through them God will bless you.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Formulas Aren’t Bad

I like Kyle Idleman. I have used his stuff and will probably use it again in the future.

With that being said, I do have an issue with this tweet.

I understand the sentiment. It comes from that same line of thinking that says “Christianity is a relationship, not a religion.” 

The reality is that Christianity is both religion and relationship. Those two ideas are not opposites. We can have a relationship with God while believing the truths of the religion and observing its disciplines. 

In fact, I am not sure how you have a relationship with God apart from the religious practices discovered in Scripture.

The same is true with leaning on God and having a formula for prayer. Doing one does not negate the other.

In fact, they can, and should be, complimentary.

Here is the reason this is important to me.

This year I went through a time of depression, maybe the most severe depression that I have dealt with, and prayer was key in my struggle to overcome it. The prayers that I used (and still are using), the guided prayer of the One Minute Pause App and written prayers from the Wild at Heart App, helped my to “lean on” God. They provided me with the structure, words, and even purpose for my prayers when I was struggling to pray.

While it is essential to emphasis that we prayer to a God who is alive and desires to have a relationship with us, I think it is also important to provide people with resources and guidance in how to pray. There are activities, words, and themes that help us in our prayers.

I don’t want people to miss out potential life giving help because they want to avoid using “formulas” in their spiritual lives. What matters in prayer is our intention and faith, and if reciting the Lord’s Prayer or using a written prayer helps you vocalize that faith, then we should use it. 

God’s people have always recited prayers. The book of Psalms is basically a prayer book for Israel which helped guide them in their prayers and their worship. 

What matters is not whether or not we pray prayers “from the heart” or recite a prayer written by someone else, what matters is the faith and intention of your heart.

We can lean on God while using a formula to pray.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Missing the Forest for the Trees

 I don’t understand this type of thinking at all.

Listen, I am not a supporter of President Trump. As I have said before, policy wise he has been a pretty typical president. He has done some good things and he has done many bad things.

To see President Trump and his supporters as uniquely evil seems bizarre to me. What makes President Trump and the support he has received different?

Rather than being something new, I think what Donald Trump and his presidency revealed is the divided loyalty many American Christians have. The loyalty that we have is often split between Jesus (and his church) and Nation (and political party). 

I believe one of the big questions the American Church, in all of its different flavors, needs to wrestle with coming out of COVID and the 2020 election cycle is: "Where does your loyalty reside?"

“Trumpism” isn’t any more dangerous than all the other ways our loyalty gets divided, and to act like it is means we downplay the more seductive and subtle ways Christians loose their first love.

I know for me, as a libertarian, one of the things I need to be on guard against is the idol of personal liberty and individual rights. It is easy for me twist those ideas with what it looks like to follow Jesus. 

We need to heed the warning of Revelation, to come out of Babylon, and remain loyal to Jesus.

Don’t miss the forest for the trees. 

American Christians have a loyalty problem, and those of us who serve in leadership in various ways in different Christian communities need to continually call people back to their first love as we continue to resist the urge give our loyalty away to lesser causes.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Perspective and Commitment

Our perspective on the world is limited. 

Even if we stayed plugged into the news we would still be limited to those stories they decided to run. 

As you can see, this is not an ignorance of choice or laziness, but of reality. The body in which we live is confined to one place in time, our minds can only absorb so much information, and what we do know is colored by other people’s perception.

This reality makes it impossible for us to fully understand what is happening in the world and the best way to precede. What seems like an insignificant act in the moment might effect our lives for years to come.

Take for example Joseph. We read about this man of faith in the Old Testament. 

 Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob, but his bothers hated him. That hatred changed the direction of Joseph’s life. He was sold into slavery by his brothers, thrown into prison for a crime he did not commit, and years later Joseph is made a leader in Egypt.

When Joseph as a slave he was a handsome young man. He was trustworthy and the things he did were successful. These things caught the attention his master’s wife. She tried to convince him to sleep with her. This wasn’t a one time proposal, but a constant request. 

Joseph was alone in Egypt, no family, friends, or accountability partners. From his point-of-view what did he have to look forward to? Would he get married? Would he have a family? Would he ever move above being a slave?

It would have been easy for Joseph to rationalize the affair with Potiphar’s wife. There is no guarantee that he marry and this type of relationship was expected for slaves to engage in, it just needed to be kept secret. 
From a certain perspective it made all the sense in the world for Joseph to give into her request.

What stood in Joseph’s way was his commitment to God. 

Joseph was operating from a different perspective.

It might have been in Joseph the Slave’s best interest to sleep with the wife of Potiphar, but it was not in Joseph the Chosen One’s best interest. 

Side note: this is pure speculation, but I believe that if Joseph choose the path of having an affair he would have remained a slave. He may have remained a favorite slave, but he still would be a slave.

The immediate consequence of Joseph’s decision to reject the advances of Potiphar’s wife brought a new set of hardship: Joseph went from being the head slave in Potiphar’s house to prison. He went from having a great deal of freedom, to no freedom. 

Wouldn’t that be enough to make us question our decision?

Yet, this was the route God chose to prepare Joseph for his task. 

At the time Joseph had no idea of what God had in store for him. All Joseph had was his commitment to God. That commitment allowed Joseph to trust God, even when the circumstances of life did not make sense.

We will never discover what God wants us to do if we never commit ourselves to following God. 

Our vision is limited by time and space. We don’t know what will happen in the next hour, let alone what will happen a year from now. God knows what is going to happen, that means we need to trust Him and the guidance He gives to help navigate the ups and downs of life.

The Spiritually Mature Life: Having the Fruit

On Sunday, April 7, 2024, I started a new sermon series at Bethlehem Church called A Spiritually Mature Life. This sermon series is focused ...