Don’t Waste Your Life

Timothy Berman:

A wonderful and beautifully written article on how we as Christians ought not to squander the life we have been given.

Originally posted on Grace Starts Here:

By: Alina Sopt

What is the meaning of life? Is it to be happy, to accumulate wealth, to create a healthy family? Or is it to indulge in personal pleasures like gamboling, drugs, or sports obsession? Better yet, do you define a “good life” as Sally and Jim retired near the sea shore at the early age of 58, collecting sea shells and fishing when they’re not lounging around in their million-dollar beach house? 

If you said yes to any above, you’re wasting your life.

Pastor John Piper coined the interesting phrase: “Jesus saves from the American Dream.” 

In order to understand the dangers of the American Dream, one must understand that they were created for more. 1) The Bible explicitly states that God created us for His glory. The Creator of the universe did not create us to boost His ego or complete Himself, for no one is greater than…

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Finding peace and balance

For the past couple of Sundays, I have attended the 9:15 am service at Ballard Church in Seattle, Washington. Pastor Rob Stewart is currently preaching a series entitled {Talk To Me Seattle}. This morning sermon focused on Matthew 5:6, Isaiah 32:16-17 and Psalm 85:10. The topic: Having a deep hunger and thirst for righteousness and finding fulfillment in satisfying those deep hungers and thirsts. The focal point of this sermon is finding peace and balance in one’s life.

God’s desire is for us to come to know righteousness. Not in the sense that we are to fulfill any legalistic laws in order to garner blessings. The truth is that God’s desire for us to come to know righteousness means that we come with a deep ache to find true peace and balance that is only granted through His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6

What is righteousness? Based on the message this morning, Righteousness is essentially Shalom. According to one website, the Hebrew for Shalom means “Peace” and the root word is Shalam, which means “To restore” and connotates a sense of “wholeness and completeness.” In this context, we read the passage of Matthew 5:6 as “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for peace, completeness and wholeness, for they will be filled.” It is the idea that we come with a deep ache to find fulfillment in our own lives. Seeking to be filled with a sense of wholeness and completeness.

This is a deep intimate desire to right the imbalance we may feel in all aspects of our own lives. The recognition that there is imbalance in the lives of others. Through our recognition of our own imbalance in our own lives, coming to quench that hunger and thirst that cause us to ache and seek peace: we are then able to turn to others with deep compassion and reach out to them in order to help them find peace and balance in their own lives.

Along with this, we come to know that in finding ourselves in a deep ache to satisfy our own hunger and thirst, the blessing is knowing that Christ is there with us in the midst of our own imbalance. In fact, one does not have to be right with God in order to seek Him. It is not about fulfilling particular laws of obedience before we are blessed and satisfied in fulfillment of finding balance and peace. Christ is there with us in the midst of our own storms where we struggle to make sense of the things going on in our own lives. Jesus is on our side when we ache deeply for peace and balance.

Today, are you finding yourself with a deep hunger and thirst for balance in your own life? Seeking for true peace of mind? It is when we turn our hearts toward Christ that He comes and gives us “living waters” where we find that peace and balance.

How religious pretense is a danger to authenticity

Within the cultivation of an authentic Christian lifestyle, there is a sacred religious piety that evolves within the individual. This piety is not fulfilling any type of rote of religious practice. Piety is the hallmark of one’s reverence toward that which is sacred and holy. There is genuine piety in a person’s relationship with a Sovereign Heavenly Father and then there is a pretense of piety that offends a Sovereign God. This religious pretense is a danger to authenticity because it is more of an outward appearance rather than a genuine inward change and transformation.

In Matthew 23:23-26 describes the religious pretense of the scribes and pharisee’s:

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full [b]of robbery and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.

It is one thing for someone to walk in disobedience. However, it is entirely more dangerous to walk in disobedience and present a more outwardly appearance of maintaining compliance to those same commandments. More dangerous because the focus of the individual is not on the inward self that is defiled, it is maintaining an appearance to hide the inward defiled self. Genuine authenticity in the Christian life begins with an inward transformation. It is cleansing of one’s heart, soul and mind. Through this process, the inward self flows outwardly in order for us to grow in love and reverence of the sacred and holy.

Are you living a life that is based on outward glamour and religious pretense? Or, have you had a genuine change of the inward self where piety has taken root and is producing a truly transformed authentic Christian life?

Loving God – Fundamental and important command

This morning’s devotion and commentary comes from Our Daily Bread by Philip Yancey.

When asked by a lawyer to identify the most important rule in life, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). In those words, Jesus summed up what God most desires from us.

We are not merely called to come unto Christ. We are not merely called to take up our cross on a daily basis. We are not even merely called to preach the Gospel and heal those who are broken and ill. None of this is possible, in fact, unless we understand one simple truth: Authentic Christian living involves us developing a romance with our Heavenly Father. We love God and seek to deepen that love for Him and with Him.

Love is the foundation of a healthy relationship. As we seek after and draw near to our Heavenly Father, we do so because we have a desire to love Him. Within this deepening love comes trust. How are we to love God?

I wonder how I can possibly learn to love God with all my heart, soul, and mind. Neal Plantinga remarks on a subtle change in this commandment as recorded in the New Testament. Deuteronomy charges us to love God with all our heart, soul, and strength (6:5). Jesus added the word mind. Plantinga explains, “You shall love God with everything you have and everything you are. Everything.”

We come to love our Heavenly Father in the same way that a child develops their love for their own earthly Father. Through the dependence and reliance on time spent together, receiving appropriate direction and counsel, being able to come and discuss our difficulties and challenges we face, knowing that our Heavenly Father is there. In today’s society, there are many who have not experienced a healthy love of a Father. Today is a day to turn to the one true Father of all and humbly come before him with all your brokenness and heartache and lay it all on the alter of prayer. Seeking God daily and drawing near to God brings about subtle and significant changes in our own perceptions, attitudes and beliefs. We grow in love with a Father that is for us and with us in all things and in all ways.

For many today, this may be quite difficult. Blogger JMJ Mitchell writes this in her blog Endless Strength:

There are similar passages in Mark and Luke where Jesus says that we must love God more than anything else…more than our family and friends.  This is a hard thing to comprehend because I think it’s a pretty normal thing for most of us to feel like we love our spouse more than we could love anyone or anything else. Or maybe we look at our children and we acknowledge a level of love that we cannot fathom being surpassed.  Yet, Jesus still commands us to love God the most.

She continues:

The homily centered on the fact that we are not to love God because HE has any NEED for our love.  That idea is preposterous because God, Himself, IS love.  There is nothing we can give to God.  But, our happiness (whether to be had on this earth, in this lifetime or in the next life) depends on our ability to love God the most.  If we love God more than we love our family, our friends, our things, our jobs, our activities…then we order our actions in such a way that we are happy.

Because we come to love our eternal Father in heaven, we order our lives in a manner where blessings are able to flow outwardly. In fact, the passage states that we are not only to Love God with everything, we are also commanded to love our neighbor as we love our own self. This is selfless love – giving of ourselves over to another person. It is through our deepening and strengthening love of God, that we strengthen and deepen our love for our families, for those within our churches, and those within our communities? Want to learn how to be compassionate person? Love God and learn how our Sovereign Father is compassionate.

How have we forgotten the true desire of our hearts to come to love God first and foremost in our lives? Living authentic Christian lives begins with obeying this simple command – to Love God with everything we have. how are you loving God today?