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Posts Tagged ‘spirituality’

Participate In Church And You’ll Feel Like You Belong: Purpose Driven Life Chapt. 17

Posted by infinitygoods on February 25, 2008

Telegraph Tower by pbo31 on Flickr public files

 “If you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off.  Go after them.  Get them back.”  James 5:19

When we not only attend church, but also participate in it, we usually get far more in return than what we give.  I, for one, have been happiest at churches where I have actively participated by joining the various activities and by volunteering my time and talent.  When I worked for my church I also gave far more of myself than I would have for an ordinary job, because it just wasn’t a job, it was a ministry.  Although I gave more, I also gained more.  I gained spiritually.  I gained a sense of belonging.  I gained experience.  I contributed and created.

Most people just come to church for the Sunday service.  Many even grumble about it.  One hour or even less per week for God and their fellow Christians is still too much for them.  In comparison, we had some members who came to our church 7 days a week.  The ones who gave the most complained the least and were the happiest.  If we don’t have any responsibilities, if we don’t contribute, we don’t feel like we belong, we don’t feel like we matter.

What about you?  Are you one of the grumblers or do you give of yourself to your church for God?  Do you show your love for God or are you inadvertently showing that you’d rather be somewhere else?  Are you committed to your church and God’s family?

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Put Time And Effort Into What Matters Most to God: LOVE Purpose Driven Life Chapt. 16

Posted by infinitygoods on February 24, 2008

Untitles by R4pH in Flickr public files “‘You must love the Lord your God will all your heart…’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:37-40

Have you noticed that most of these chapters are about love?  Does it seem like it just might be important?  Rick Warren tells us it is what matters most.  Matthew tells us that Jesus told his apostles that loving God and loving His people are the two greatest commandments and that the other commandments are based on these two.

So if love is so important to God, how much time and effort do we put into it?  How many hours do we spend showing our love to God?  Or showing our love to our families?  Or to our fellow man, whether they are Christians, Jews or even non-believers?

Let’s not wait until we are on our deathbed to realize that our relationships are our most important accomplishments.  As Warren reminds us, “All you’re taking with you is your character.”  We won’t be taking any awards, gold watches, money, cars, designer clothes, or any material trappings showing earthly successes.  Yet, how often do we get trapped or sucked into the rat race for the material, sometimes even in the hope of helping or pleasing our families, but in reality robbing our loved ones of a quality relationship with us?

Even when we spend time together, how often are we not even looking at our loved ones?  How many of us eat in the car with our children staring at the back of our heads?  How often do we stare at the road, going to yet another destination?  At home, are we staring at a TV screen or a computer screen?  Even when we are cooking for our family, are we looking at our children when they speak to us, or are we too busy following the recipe?  How often do we face each other and look into each other’s eyes?

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Are You Baptized? Come Join God’s Family! Chapt. 15 Purpose Driven Life

Posted by infinitygoods on February 23, 2008

Water Fountain by holidaygirl in Flickr public files

“Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into Christ’s body by one Spirit, and we have all received the same Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:13

 

We begin discussion on our second purpose, which according to Rick Warren is to be formed for God’s family.

Are you baptized? If you believe in Christ and God, Warren tells us you should be already. Without delay, you should have been baptized. He says, “Like a wedding ring, it is a visible reminder of an inward commitment made in your heart. It is an act of initiation, not something to put off until you are spiritually mature. The only biblical condition is that you believe.”

I was baptized as an infant and we baptized our son as an infant as well. There was no delay. As most of my regular readers know, I worked for our church for several years. When I started working there, I was highly surprised to find out (and you might be too) that many people attending church every Sunday and some even during the week, are not baptized. And since Warren brings up wedding rings, you might find it interesting to know that many people are not married either, even though all would think that they are.

People put things off. They start living together and pretty soon there are children. People just assume they are married. They are good people. They go to church. They participate in the church. They volunteer for the church. They donate money to the church. They go through all the motions, but they never got around to getting married. And when it comes time to baptizing the children, they never get around to it either.

Now of course this is not everybody. But it is a far greater number than you realize. Some young couples have even come to our church to get married and they themselves assumed they had been baptized because they had attended church their entire lives, but later came to find out from their parents, after the pastor asked, that, no, no one had ever actually taken the time to baptize them over the years — over the decades.

Does any of this surprise you? I was greatly surprised. At first I thought it would be one or two isolated cases, but as I continued working, I came to realize that it was far more prevalent than it should be, especially for people who are attending church. I’m not talking about people who don’t believe in God here. I’m not talking about people who only occasionally attend church, whenever it’s convenient or once or twice a year for Easter or Christmas. I’m talking about church regulars.

People don’t realize this is often the case because of course this is confidential information. The pastor, the staff are not going to blab or gossip about the people who attend their church.

If this describes you, there should be no shame and as you can see, you are far from being alone. There is no need to postpone any longer because you are afraid of telling your pastor. It’s OK. He’s unfortunately all too used to it and will rejoice in baptizing you. So postpone no longer if you truly believe in your heart in Jesus and in God. Go get baptized.

And if you are and you baptized your children too, thank God. Thank Him and praise Him for having led you to Him through His church.

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God Is Always Present: Chapt. 14 Purpose Driven Life

Posted by infinitygoods on February 21, 2008

Previous chapters can be found on the Purpose Driven Life page.

Distant by serni in Flickr in public files

“God may kill me, but still I will trust Him.”  Job 13:15

We will never meet anyone as faithful as God.  “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” he has promised throughout the Bible.  Yet most of us will go through periods in our lives where we feel abandoned by God.  Even if we look for Him, God remains hidden to us.  It is a lesson for growth and a test of faith.

We know that God loves us and we know that God keeps his promises.  Rick Warren tells us once again to speak to God.  We are to tell Him exactly how we feel.  What emotions have you felt when God seemed distant?  Did you tell Him how you felt?  How often do we have a real conversation with God, not just a formal prayer or a laundry list of requests, but real communication?  Do we tell him everything — our pleasures, our dislikes, our emotions, our hurts or our times of happiness?

When we go through times like this, we can also try to remember all that God has done for us in the past.  I know that no matter how bad things have gone in my life, God always turned things for the best.  Bad situations always turned to good.  Always.  There is no reason to doubt that he will continue to turn all seemingly bad situations into good.  It is hard to keep that in mind when we are in the thick of negative times, but if we conciously keep that in mind while our life is still good, it will be easier to remember when we need to.

Warren tells us that it is during these times when we continue to trust and believe God that we “worship him in the deepest way.”

Today ends the second section of The Purpose Driven Life.  Tomorrow we will start discussion on our second purpose, “You were formed for God’s family,” with Chapt. 15.

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Worship Is Not One Size Fits All: Purpose Driven Life Chapt. 13

Posted by infinitygoods on February 20, 2008

Bold Tree by Zack Stern in Flickr public files

Previous chapters can be found on the Purpose Driven Life page.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30

How do you worship God? Do you have more than one way? Does it change with the seasons or as you have gotten older?

Rick Warren tells us to be accurate, authentic, thoughtful and practical. To be accurate, he tells us to know the word of God. To be authentic it must be genuine, heartfelt and with deep feeling. We should be thoughtful rather than merely going through motions and we should be living sacrifices. We should live for God, not for ourselves.

How do most of us measure up? Are some ways easier than others? Do you read the Bible? When you go to church to you go through the motions, barely even hearing the week’s message or are you fully focused on God?

We all have our good days and our bad ones of course. But how do we rate most of the time? What is in our heart? Are we going to church for God, for ourselves, for keeping up appearances?

Chapt. 14

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Drawing Closer To God: Chapt. 12 Purpose Driven Life

Posted by infinitygoods on February 19, 2008

Those of you who don’t have WordPress must be wondering where the daily Purpose Driven Life posts have gone. WordPress has been down. We have all been unable to post or approve comments, etc., while readers have still been able to read our blogs. My clock and auto-posts have also acted up in the last couple of days. WordPress has uncharacteristically given us no reason for this down time so I cannot tell you what happened or if the clock problem is related.I will pick up where we left off. Today we will discuss Chapter 12. I think it is best to only post one chapter rather than two so that noone falls behind because of this incident and so that we follow Rick Warren’s recommended schedule of only 1 chapter per day. He strongly advises NOT to do more than that. It does not pose a problem since I have been posting on Sundays too, so we will still finish before Easter.

Cool Green Tree by idg on Flickr Public Files

Previous chapters can be found on the Purpose Driven Life page.

My determined purpose is that I may know Him — that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and more clearly.” Philippians 3:10

This chapter reminded me very much of my own dad. It is one more example for me that our relationship first with our parents and later with our children teaches us how to have a relationship with God.

Throughout my childhood and even into my adulthood my dad would say to tell him everything. Whatever it was, whether positive or negative, my dad was the person to tell. If I had a problem at school, if I had a problem with my mom, if I had a problem with my allowance, if I had a fear or a concern, whatever it was I should report it to him. If I was proud of an accomplishment, if I was looking forward to a special event, if I was happy, I should tell him. Does that sound like the first step Warren brings up in this chapter? Does it sound like I had to be honest with my dad and tell him the truth in everything, just like Warren tells us we should do with God? We must tell our Father everything. Tell God the good and tell him the bad. Have entire conversations with Him just as you would if you were telling your dad or your confidant. Let God be your confidant.

When you tell a confident everything, it’s because you have confidence in them. You have faith or trust in them. Have faith and trust in God. Warren tells us that if we have faith or trust in God and we love Him, we will obey Him. And if we trust God, we will also trust his values. When we have a good friend we value their opinion right? If Martha tells us that something is good, we trust her and believe that it is good. If we trust God then we value his opinion and values too. It’s all related and intertwined. Warren tells us that God can be our friend too and that we should want his friendship above anything. Do you?

How would you describe your relationship with God? Are you on friendly terms? Do you talk to Him regularly? Do you listen to Him and do what he believes to be good? What do you do to get closer to God? What ideas and thoughts has this chapter sparked in you?

Chapt. 13

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Treasure The Word Of God As He Treasures To Hear Us: Chapt. 11 Purpose Driven Life

Posted by infinitygoods on February 17, 2008

Two Trees In Spring by @t Flickr public files

Previous chapters can be found on the Purpose Driven Life page.

“I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread.” Job 23:12.

When we become friends with someone, we talk to them. We build on the relationship by calling on the phone or talking in person. Rick Warren tells us we can build our friendship with God by talking to Him.

We can talk to God through constant conversation, praying without ceasing. You know that little voice we all have? We can use that little voice to talk to God all day long. Instead of talking to ourselves, we can talk to God.

Then our entire day and each and every activity will be narrated with prayers to God.

Friends talk to each other and share stories. One of the ways God talks to us is through the Bible. So another way to become friends with God, according to Warren, is to think about the word of God. Job says “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread.” We can memorize verses, read the Bible to discover new insights, or ponder on the Bible stories and verses we already know.

Do you already have ways of reminding yourself to pray to God? Do you ever just talk to Him as in a conversation? Which type of prayer do you find easiest: the formal, memorized prayers or impromptu conversations?

In Chapter 12, Warren will discuss four more ways to develop our friendship with God. Until then, may we hear God through his word and may God hear our prayers.

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Surrender To God Or You’ll Surrender To Satan: Chapt. 10 Purpose Driven Life

Posted by infinitygoods on February 16, 2008

Superb Starlings by Jay Kilifi on Flickr public files

Previous chapters can be found on the Purpose Driven Life page.

“So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us … offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to His service and pleasing to Him. This is the true worship that you should offer.” Romans 12:1

Most of us don’t like to be at the mercy of someone else. We like to be in charge of our own lives. But the reason for this is usually because of the fear that we will be hurt is some way, whether physical, or emotional. With God, we can take away that fear. God is love. He wants the best for us.

We can put our complete trust in God and listen to Him because He wants what is best for us. If we don’t listen to God, who will we be listening to? Rick Warren says “if you don’t surrender to Christ, you surrender to chaos.” Do you know what chaos is? It’s not just disorganization in your life. Chaos is Satan. Think about it. If you do not follow good, what do you follow? Not neutral. The opposite of good is evil. If you do not follow good, you follow evil.

I like to think that we need to be like little birds. God’s birds do not worry about where their next meal is going to come from. They just fly a ways and God provides some food. Birds are always happy and sing their praise from morning ’till night. We need to be more like these carefree little birds.

Chapt. 11

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Love God With All Your Heart, Soul And Mind: Chapt. 9 Purpose Driven Life

Posted by infinitygoods on February 15, 2008

Kylemore The Church by stunt penguin in Flickr public files

Previous chapters can be found on the Purpose Driven Life page.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Matthew 22:37-38

God is our Father and we learned in the last chapter that as He created us in His own image, He also gave us his emotions. When we look at the emotions of parents and their wishes for their children, we get a small glimpse at what God might like and what he might expect from us.

Warren tells us that God wants us to love Him, trust Him, obey Him, praise Him and do for Him. Don’t most good parents want the same? Parents want their children to love them and trust them. They want their children to be obedient or listen to them and when our children thank us or praise us it warms and melts our hearts. Parents also want their children to do what they are meant to do at each step in their development.

These things make parents happy and when children are good and do all these things, they too are happy. Warren tells us that the same is true with God and our relationship with Him.

Are you ready and willing to be an obedient child? No child is perfect, but are you willing to make please God a priority and a goal in your life?

God knows everything. He knows what is best for you. Are you willing to trust him in every matter, in everything you do?

Tomorrow we will look at Chapt. 10. May we trust in God in everything we do.

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Love God & Trust In His Love: Chapt. 8 Purpose Driven Life

Posted by infinitygoods on February 14, 2008

Love Tree by ladyundertaker in Flickr public files

Previous chapters can be found on the Purpose Driven Life page.

“The Lord is pleased only with those who worship Him and trust His love.” Psalms 147:11.

Today, we start on the 7-day discussion about our first purpose, which is to please God.

What are some of the sentences that jumped out at you as you were reading? Perhaps some surprised you, or some seemed significant. Perhaps some were difficult to understand or something you had strongly believed even before reading this chapter.

Here’s some of the ones I thought were particularly significant.

“…(God) considers you valuable enough to keep with Him for all eternity.” Does that make us feel pretty special? Do you think we are loved? Are we worth a dime a zillion or is every single one of us significant?

“God made you in his image.” And “…God has emotions, too.” Has anyone ever told you that you should not cry, you should not be angry, you should not grieve so long, or even to stop being so happy all the time? Our emotions are important and give us clues to what is right or wrong in our lives. God gave us His emotions. Emotions help us stay on the right path for enjoying life. If we are stressed or we feel angry, we know something is wrong and we can do something to change it and get back to enjoying life. Do you feel you are enjoying your life?

“The Father seeks worshipers,” “worship is a lifestyle,” “…it is your life,” “worship him continually….” Do you love God? How do you show Him your love?

“Praise should be the first activity when you open your eyes in the morning and the last activity when you close them at night.” And “Every activity can be transformed into an act of worship when you do it for the praise, glory, and pleasure of God.” The first quote is from several chapters in Psalms, in case you didn’t check the endnote. I was taught as a child to say a prayer as soon as I opened my eyes and before falling asleep. Were you taught that as well? It doesn’t have to be long if that idea is foreign to you. It could even be focusing on the word “God.” What would you do if you were stuck in a bed 24 hours a day, unable to go to church or even unable to speak? Do you think you would be unable to worship God? If you are still breathing, you can take each breath for the glory of God.

“Carrying on a continual conversation with Him…,” “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,” “Take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering.” Do you ever do that? Do you think it might be helpful in keeping you from having negative thoughts or in doing unpleasant or boring work? Would your burdens feel lighter if you were doing it for God rather than because you had no other choice?

“…falling in love with Jesus.” If you’ve ever truly been in love with someone, you know the feeling Warren describes in the last paragraph. You just cannot stop thinking about that person. No matter what you are doing, thoughts of your love intrude and keep you from thinking about what you are doing. You’re taking a test, you think about your love. You’re driving, you think about your love. You’re scrubbing the floor, you think about your love. You’re doing brain surgery, you think about your love. It never ceases to the point that all activities are done while thinking about your love. Your goal is to do the same while thinking about Jesus and God.

Remember, God loves you!

Tomorrow we will look at Chapt. 9, what makes God smile.

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