Monday, February 12, 2018

A Life Of Influence

A Life Of Influence

1st Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

I grew up in the buckle of the Bible belt in a Christian family with Christian friends. It was understood that church was where we would be on Sundays and Wednesdays. If I stayed over at a friends house on Saturday night I knew I would be going with their family to church on Sunday morning and vice versa. Once I grew up and began to travel to different places I not only met people with different views and backgrounds than mine, I at times also became a minority.

There’s a book written several years back about the history of Saturday Night Live. Back in the eighties there was a female comedian on the show named Victoria Jackson. You may remember her, she was blonde with a high pitched voice and played the ukulele. In this book they ask the cast members to share their thoughts about their fellow performers. When they asked about Victoria Jackson the quote they picked to describe her was “She’s a born again Christian, she’s like from Mars, [we] never really got her.” (1)

She was a minority among her peers. I’ve been there. I have been the lone Christian in a group before and I've had the quizzical looks, the questions, and occasionally the self-conscious shyness, that go with it. I’ve been asked before “Why are you Christians so weird?” but I would much rather hear that question than hear “You Christians act no different than the rest of us.”

You see it is when we are “weird” or “different” that we have influence. That is when people notice that we’re following something that is opposite from what the world is following and maybe it is something worth following. When the world sees wholehearted commitment from the church to be different from the world then the world notices and wants to learn more. That is influence.

Here Paul tells the church to be steadfast and immovable. In the world today there is always a pull away from our faith. The world wants to desperately change us to look more like them but at the same time they are intrigued by why we do not look like them. If we hold to Paul’s advice and trust God for the outcome then we have the opportunity to influence the world and show them that following God is in fact different, and at times difficult, but it is also so worth it!

Be different!  Be weird!  Live a life of influence!

To discover more, visit www.http://oakgrovebaptistchurchtn.com/ 

References: (1) Live From New York! Location 6031, Tom Shales and James Miller

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Purpose Of Life



The Purpose Of Life


Philippians 3:14 I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. [HCSB]

What is your purpose in life?  Is it merely to survive? Is it to gather things or build a reputation?  What if our life is meant to be more than that?  What if our purpose goes beyond our occupation or family or place?  What if those are merely tools God has given us to accomplish our purpose in life?

Our purpose in life is to glorify God.  To praise and recognize His importance in everything.  No matter what else we may be doing we are to glorify God.  Not because He needs it - we can't add to His glory it is already infinite - but because glorifying God completes us.  It is, after all, what we were created to do.  Every moment of our life is meant to be a living breathing devotion to God and His glory.

Webster’s defines devotion as an act of love, loyalty or enthusiasm. The Apostle Paul was fully devoted to his purpose in life. In his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul described his devotion as running for a goal he knew he could not reach in this life - to be more like Christ.  Jesus always glorified His Father through every action He took and every word He spoke.  The goal of Paul's devotion then, and ours today, is to follow Jesus' perfect example in glorifying God.


How we do that is going to be different because God has created each of us to be different. He has given us various gifts and talents, put us in positions to learn various skills so obviously He does not intend all of us to glorify Him the same way. You may have a secular job that you love that is fulfilling - great use it to glorify God. Be a witness, start a bible study or a prayer time. You may stay at home - great check on your neighbors, love your neighborhood, encourage those on your street. Look for any opportunity God gives you to point others to Him and for you to grow closer to Him.

You see, the Christian life is not spent sitting idly waiting for something to happen, it is an active, chasing, running faith - a pursuit! When your mindset becomes one of devotion to Him then you begin to see Him in parts of your life you didn’t realize before.

I love how Warren Wiersbe describes this passage in his commentary: "Many Christians are self-satisfied because they compare their “running” with that of other Christians, usually those who are not making much progress. Had Paul compared himself with others, he would have been tempted to be proud and perhaps to let up a bit. After all, there were not too many believers in Paul’s day who had experienced all that he had or accomplished all that he had! But Paul did not compare himself with others; he compared himself with himself and with Jesus Christ." (1)

One thing I can promise you is that our purpose in life is not to build a name for ourselves. Our purpose has to be more than that because the things we strive for are more than the things of this world. More than money or fame or even respect.  Our purpose goes beyond this life.

How are you doing in your devotion to God in your daily life?  If you are like me you are far from perfect at it.  Remember these wise words from Jeff Iorg:
“Ask yourself: Am I changing to be more like Jesus? Progress, not perfection, is the goal”. - Jeff Iorg
To discover more, visit www.http://oakgrovebaptistchurchtn.com/ 

References: (1) Be Joyful by Warren Wiersbe

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Value of Life


The Value Of Life


Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? [HCSB]

It is amazing, and confounding, how our modern society on one hand says we are our own masters, no one and certainly no god can tell us what to do. While on the other hand saying we are nothing more than animals, a hapless cosmic accident wandering among other accidents. No wonder so many people are anxious and confused!

A recent report on our local NBC affiliate WRCB stated that suicides in the state of Tennessee are at their highest point in 35 years. (1) On average 3 people commit suicide in our state every single day and the suicide rates are increasing in every age bracket and demographic. It doesn't matter if you are rich or poor - money doesn’t prevent it. Doesn’t matter if you are white or black or young or old, or healthy or sick. Race, age and health doesn’t prevent it.

When we lower the value of human life we lower the value of living. Why put up with the hassles of life - the worry, the stress, the anxiety, if our life is not worth more than the lowest animal.

In the past weeks we have seen a mass shooting at a school in Kentucky, numerous murders and assaults - and that's just the stuff that make the news. How many babies were aborted this week? How many young girls sold into sex trafficking? How many children abused and neglected? How many people mistreated because of their skin color or their age? We must realize that being pro life is more than being anti abortion, because our view of life and our understanding of the value of life has consequences far beyond birth. If my life is of no consequence in this world than neither are my actions. If I think my life and your life have no value then what difference does it make how I act or treat others. What does it matter who I hurt, if all of this is meaningless.

We live in a world full of violence and self hatred and all of the worry and stress that comes with it because we deny our role in creation and God’s role in our life.

In Matthew 6 Jesus explains that with God showing such intricate care for even the smallest of creation that we, who are created in God's image, truly have nothing to worry about. His point is not that this world will be easy but that in this world we will not be alone, and our existence is more than this world. But this anxiety He warns against is exactly what happens when we deny God’s providential care for all of Creation and specifically his care for humanity. If we deny the value of human life then this idea will have consequences.

One of these consequences will be taking from us a faith which fights against worry and anxiety. We have everything to worry about and nothing to hope for if we are just a random, cosmic accident, with no worth and no providential care.

But what if Jesus is right? What if we stop and look at Jesus’ words and make the radical leap that He is telling us the truth. That there is a Fatherly God who is not far off and distant but present and active in creation. That this Heavenly Father actually knows you, not just in passing, but in intimate detail, and that He cares for you personally.

Would that mean something to you? What if this same God created you not just to take up space but to have a purpose and that He wants you to succeed in that purpose? Would that give you peace in the midst of a crazy and chaotic world? What if this same God loved you so much that He sent His Son to die for you to pay an infinite price so that you could have life? What value would your life have then?

In verse 33, Jesus tells us to seek first the kingdom of God, why? To keep us busy and blinded and beat down? No! Because that is where we find value, we find meaning, we find purpose - it is in the kingdom of God where we find life itself and life in abundance! The kingdom of God is our home and that is where our life has true value.

To discover more, visit www.http://oakgrovebaptistchurchtn.com/ 

References: (1) http://www.wrcbtv.com/story/37234357/suicides-in-tennessee-reach-record-breaking-high