Archive for: March, 2013

Christian Maturity: A Change of Heart

Mar 26 2013 Published by under Evangelism

Inspired by GU’s Christian Service course, Christian Maturity.

by Kristy Teague

Teague,KristyDo you remember when you were a child and you wanted to have the best toy or the newest game? Or, you set a goal of trying all the flavors of sweet or sour candy, just to say you did? Adults had no time for that. And I remember thinking, “Why don’t they like it?” At some point, they outgrew childhood. They “put away childish things.”

Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me” (1 Corinthians 13:11 NIV)

From being a child to becoming an adult goes against what we want when we are young. We want to be forever young and to experience life at its fullest. To have to wait for any “need” or “want” to be met is intolerable. Patience is not fully understood. Not getting that new toy, game, or candy is unimaginable! Disappointing. Even embarrassing, in comparison to other kids who get what they want.

Yet for all the indulgence and impatience that children are often accused of, what DO they do right? Their inexperience on this earth causes them to be overly trusting, overly innocent, overly humble. They are by no means perfect, but they are teachable and they follow. Whether an adult guides them to good or to bad, they trust and obey. It is for this reason that Jesus commended little children. Not for their outward actions, but for the condition of their heart.

 In Matthew 18:2, Jesus called a little child over and said to the disciples, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Can an adult become a child again? Unfortunately, no. But an adult can have a change of heart. Despite his or her experiences on this earth, an adult can become trusting, innocent, and humble.

 The psalmist wrote: Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10 NIV)

King Solomon advised: Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

And Paul encouraged the church members in Philippi by writing:

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7 NIV)

 Christian [adults] are often accused of being “other-worldly,” thinking more in terms of faith and heaven, rather than focusing on the “here and now.” The other extreme is to be overly “worldly,” focused on the temporal, often self-centered, or childish. The biblical ideal is to reach a balance—to have confidence in our faith and the reality of heaven, to fulfill our present-day purpose here on earth, and to be aware of our future reward in heaven.

Spiritual growth comes only after believing in God as Heavenly Father. To recognize  God as our spiritual Father would mean we are spiritual children. Thus, all believers become members of a spiritual family. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. Does that mean we are literally “family”? No! But, we do have a not-of-this-world opportunity (dare I say, responsibility) to treat one another with kindness, compassion, and brotherly love out of a sincere heart.

 If we all were to treat one another with civility and spiritual maturity and “put away childish things” of this world, imagine what could be accomplished for good! The book of 1 John expresses this theme. If we say we believe in God and know God, but we do not love God or others, then we do not know God, for God is love.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son [Jesus] as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:9–11 NIV)

Kristy Teague is an editor at Global University in the University Materials Department (UMD). Tim and Kristy Teague are AGWM appointed missionaries at Global University. For more information about Global, visit www.globaluniversity.edu. For more information about the School for Evangelism and Discipleship courses visit www.globalreach.org

 

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The God of the Temple

Mar 18 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

by Steve McMichael

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A recent devotional reading allowed me to revisit the dedication of Solomon’s temple. Those chapters in 1 Kings (as well as 2 Chronicles) recount a monumental event in the history of the Old Testament, but this time my heart took me in a different direction.

The temple’s dedication represented a convergence of significance and success for Solomon. As David’s son, Solomon completed his father’s charge. This day marked the completion of the project that required 183,600 workers and over 50 billion dollars. The nation had united, worked, and succeeded in constructing the most magnificent edifice in Israel’s history. And above all, God honored the effort with His visible presence and confirmed His covenant.

Each of these factors is exhilarating for a leader. In moments like this, one’s heart is revealed through words. Solomon’s words offer a challenge to leaders today. With all of Israel watching, with his father’s charge and dream fulfilled, with herds of animals sacrificed and the labors of so many shining as the backdrop, Solomon prayed:

 “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built.” (1 Kings 8:27)

For all that had been accomplished and all the success this day represented, in his heart, Solomon’s God was still bigger than Solomon’s temple.

While this perspective is theologically sound, it is difficult to remember in times of pressure and even more difficult to hold on to in times of success. Whether we are teaching a class, building a church, launching a ministry, or simply carrying out today’s duties, God must remain far bigger than our tasks. Here is a wonderful tool for balance.

 Sacred and motivational speakers alike challenge us as leaders to dream big. I believe God leads us to bold initiatives. Big dreams stir congregations, create momentum, and honor God. But big dreams require a bigger God. As long as our perspective sees our projects and service as smaller than the God we serve, we are in a great position to succeed and see His glory.

 As I have advanced in ministry, my dreams have grown. This visit to Solomon’s temple reminded me to guard my thinking and keep God, His desires, and His power bigger than the dreams I have in ministry.

 I pray that you are encouraged this week. Partake of motivational quotes, books and sermons. But in all the vision casting and dream building, keep the God of your temple bigger than the temple itself.

Rev. Steve McMichael is a Global University Alumnus from the Berean School of the Bible and the Undergraduate School of Bible and Theology. McMichael currently serves as an International Pastor.

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Achieving Greatness

Mar 06 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

by Michael Goldsmith

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Just as a house needs a ‘spring cleaning’ our minds need cleaning from the cobwebs and excuses that keep us from our best.  Here are five principles (using each of the letters of the word ‘great’) for achieving greatness from the book of Nehemiah.

1. Go passionately.  Nehemiah came back to his homeland to find it in total disarray.  After a time of personal evaluation, Nehemiah rose to challenge the people to join forces and resources in restoring their homeland to a standard of excellence.  With great passion, Nehemiah sold the people on the unifying idea of rebuilding the broken down walls.  In Neh. 1, the people were extremely discouraged. After Nehemiah’s passionate appeal the people rose to respond, “Let us arise and build.” (Neh. 2:18).  A large amount of passion will get you out of the starting block.

 2.  Recover quickly.  The second principle of greatness is learning to recover from setbacks.  In Neh. 4, there is substantial resistance.  Enemies repeatedly threatened.  Ten times their enemies heaped fear, criticism and discouragement on them.  Nehemiah recovered quickly.  He came up with a game plan for protecting the workers and kept the people focused on productivity.  Setbacks have a way of taking the ‘wind out of our sails.’  When you encounter an obstacle, what are you going to do?  Quit?  Forget it?  Mark it off as one more over zealous idea?  Or recover?  Get back on your feet, brush yourself off, learn from it and go forward.  It’s not how many times adversity comes, it’s how many times you recover.

3.  Excel greatly.  Nehemiah 3 is a list of people who were involved in the building project.  In the midst of all of those difficult to pronounce names you find in verse 20 this phrase, “…Baruch, the son of Zabbai, zealously repaired another section.”  In the midst of the building project at least one person was zealously approaching their work.  Excellence in American productivity seems to be suffering.  One thing to remember about everything you do – It’s a reflection of you. It’s your name.  It’s your reputation.  It’s your work.  It’s your fingerprint.  Excellence is about pride in your approach to life.  Baruch knew his particular section of the wall would always be a reflection of him.  People would either say, “That’s the lousy section that Baruch built.” or “Look at that incredible section that Baruch built.”  And for himself, Baruch would always have the inner satisfaction of knowing that he gave it his best.

4.  Act persistently. In Neh. 4:6 we read, “So we built the wall and the whole wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.”  About halfway through any project is the point where you most feel like giving up.  You’ve probably used over half your resources, there is still half a project to go, and your initial enthusiasm may be waning.  If you don’t think the half way point is critical, walk through your house and examine all of the half done projects lying around. Persistence and follow through are critical to greatness.

5.  Triumph valiantly.  Finally, in Neh. 6:15-16 we close with, “So the wall was completed… in 52 days.  And it came about when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations surrounding us saw it, they lost their confidence; for they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of God.”  Job complete.  Celebration time. You haven’t performed well until you’re done.  I particularly enjoy that last sentence where the enemies lose their confidence in the face of a completed project.  Finished work speaks for itself.

Greatness is not a matter of arriving at a certain level but of becoming a certain person.  That takes effort and discipline.  Nothing more or less than old-fashioned, roll up your sleeves, put your nose to the grindstone, stay at it until it’s done, discipline.

Michael Goldsmith has pastored congregations in North Little Rock, Conway, Pine Bluff and Siloam Springs, Arkansas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.   He now serves with Global University as Director of Advancement for a project in a sensitive country.  You can reach him at mgoldsmith@globaluniversity.edu 

 

 

 

 

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