Tag Archives: Andy Stanley

As you read your Bible… don’t lose Jesus!

CautionAre you on the “read through the Bible in a year” bandwagon? It is that time of year when we amp up new strategies with our diets, our exercise, our finances and our Bible reading. But be careful!

Now, before I go any further let me be clear that I am all for new strategies with a new year. Some bemoan that such efforts are worthless since they seldom last the whole year but one report indicated that nearly half of all resolutions are kept for six months. That same report states…

“People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.”

Better to try, and fall short than not try at all!

But before you get too gung-ho about a new Bible reading strategy – which my wife and I are doing – let me offer you this caution.

It’s not about more Bible knowledge or principles to follow as much as it’s about a closer relationship with Jesus.

“You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.” ~ John 5:39-40 (The Message)

It is entirely possible – and way too prevalent – to know the Scriptures but not know Jesus.

In Deep & Wide, Andy Stanley makes this observation about the early church:

“It was led by men and women who were fueled not by what they believed, but by what they had seen. That simple fact sets the church apart from every other religious movement in the history of the world. After all, it wasn’t the teaching of Jesus that sent his followers to the streets. It was his resurrection… The men and women who made up the nucleus of the church weren’t simply believers in an abstract philosophy or even faithful followers of a great leader; they were eyewitnesses of an event.”

That “event” was Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and the same Spirit that raised Jesus to life again is available to bring us alive to God in new and life-giving ways.

May our Bible reading lead us closer to Jesus and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Bible, Christianity, Holy Spirit, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Resurrection, Scripture

How will we choose to view our hurts?

A cloudy spring day with temperatures in the mid 60′s seems like poor weather to someone living in San Diego, Ca., but to a person living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan it would seem balmy and warm.

A bologna sandwich seems like cruel and unusual punishment in a four star restaurant, but to a starving child in the inner city of Atlanta it would seem like a feast.

The context of an experience completely changes the nature and value of that experience.

“God’s decision to forgive Peter required the death of his Son; Peter’s decision to forgive those who had offended him would cost him little more than his pride. The same is true for us.

In the shadow of my hurt, forgiveness feels like a decision to reward my enemy. But in the shadow of the cross, forgiveness is merely a gift from one undeserving soul to another. Forgiveness is the gift that ensures my freedom from a prison of bitterness and resentment.” – Andy Stanley

We are a fallen people living in a fallen world. Live long enough and you will be hurt by the actions or inactions of others.

When I view my hurts only in the context of my experiences, they become enormous and overwhelming. They seem completely unfair.

When I view my hurts in the context of what Jesus endured on the cross, they suddenly become rather small and insignificant.

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.” ~ Colossians 3:12-13 (The Message)

Being hurt is inevitable. Holding onto that hurt is optional.

How will we view and what will we do with our hurts?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Choices, Forgiveness, Freedom, Grace, Humility, Life in General, Loving others, Mercy, Suffering

A question as we head into Christmas

Here’s a question we all need to ask ourselves from time to time: Why do I have so much? …We need to slow down occasionally and force ourselves to wrestle with that question.

Why? Because a consumer-driven culture keeps us laser-focused on what we don’t have, and focusing on what we don’t have leaves our hearts vulnerable to greed… If God has blessed you with more than you need, it’s so that you can share your abundance with those who have need. Embracing that simple truth is the key to ridding your heart of greed.

Guilt is conquered with confession. Anger is conquered with forgiveness. Greed is conquered with generosity. Generous giving will break the grip of greed on your life.  So whether or not you think you have extra, give and give generously.
~ Excerpted from Enemies of the Heart by Andy Stanley

Let’s be honest. Few of us will spend money this Christmas on things that we really need. Most of what we buy will fall under the umbrella of want.

Why not challenge your family and friends to sort through their stuff prior to Christmas and give away 4 or 5 things that others can use. Places like Goodwill and the Salvation Army are great destinations for such things.

And who knows, sorting through all our stuff might give us a deeper appreciation for the priceless gift of Jesus this Christmas!

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Filed under Anger, Christmas, Forgiveness, Generosity, Greed, Guilt, Stewardship