Spiritual Formation

Questions to Ask Before Making a Move

Life is full of change! Seasons change. Trends change. Technology changes. Relational connections change. With all this change, it’s hard to keep up with it all. However, we don’t have to live the crazy life of change that our family, friends or society say we should. Instead, we can live out God’s design, by following our God-given passions and interests in the pursuit of God’s best for us.

As a pastor, I am often asked how to determine God’s will in the big decisions. My answer is usually, “by applying the “sound mind” principle of Scripture.” In 2 Timothy 1:7 the apostle Paul writes, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” In employing the sound mind principle, you evaluate the talents that God has given you and make a list of the most logical ways through which your life can be used to accomplish the most for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). In other words, you list the pros and cons of each opportunity as you seek to understand how the Lord Jesus Christ can accomplish his continuing work in you and through you.

I have a few friends who are considering some big moves in their life. And they are asking a lot of questions of themselves and others before making the move. So to help them in the journey, I wanted to give them some more questions to consider as they seek to discover God’s perfect will in their life. These questions come from Bob Biehl and the Masterplanning Group in Laguna Nigel.

  1. Why am I thinking of this change? What is my real motive?
  2. What is the real price or loss that comes with this change?
  3. What do my 3-5 closest friends advise about the possible change? My spouse?
  4. If I knew I wouldn’t fail, what would I really do?
  5. What questions are lingering in my mind, that should be asked before I make the final decision?
  6. What facts should I really seek before making the final decision?
  7. How will this change affect my spiritual development? Physical development? Financial situation? Personal development? Social life?
  8. What do I see to be the major disadvantages of this move?
  9. What 3-10 things do I most like to do? Will this opportunity afford me those opportunities to do what I enjoy?
  10. Do I have a peace of mind about a yes or no answer as I pray about it and look at the decision from God’s perspective?

Great questions to consider! What questions might you add to the list?

Bible Apps

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 79% of American church goers are internet users and 86% are cell phone users. These numbers are actually higher when compared with those of non-church goers. Yes, we truly live in a digital age and there is an app for much of what was once print. The same is true for the Bible. In fact, there have been over 40 million downloads of the YouVersion Bible App since it’s inception, allowing millions to read the Scriptures on their smartphones, iPads and other digital devices.

I have to admit that it’s been hard for me to read the Bible digitally, but I have to say that I have enjoyed the tremendous resources that a Bible app brings. From reading plans, to the availability of different translations at the touch of a finger, to my recent discovery of the audio playback function, I have begun to slowly adapt to its use in my day-to-day life. And I believe I’m just skimming the surface, when you compare the free resources available for on-the-go Bible reading.

If you haven’t downloaded or discovered these amazing apps yet, here are a few to check out:

YouVersion: Created by LifeChurch.tv to be a free resource that gives people a tool to integrate Bible reading into ones mobile lifestyle, YouVersion offers a great variety of translations, languages and Bible reading plans. In addition, there are integrated platforms to bookmark favorite verses, take notes and integrate your Bible reading into social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

 

Bible360: This amazing new app combines resources from the Glo Bible, Zondervan and Survivor producer Mark Burnett. Featuring the NIV translation, it offers 360 degree virtual tours and animated maps, as well as a journal option and integration with social media.

 

 

Bible.is: Featuring video footage from 61 segments of The Jesus Film Project, Bible.is also includes daily Bible reading programs, interactive tools and the ability to take notes as well as share socially.

 

The Cure

Some of my favorite books over the years have been on the topic of grace. However, none has offered the profound insights in such a quick and engaging read as The Cure. In this book, the authors paint a beautiful picture of grace that is greater than all our sin. And it’s the way the authors unpack this subject that gives the reader the freedom to drop their masks, destroy their illusions and simply trust that our life and identity in Christ is enough.

Here are just a few of the nuggets in this life changing book…

    • We will never please God through our efforts to become godly. Rather, we will only please God and become godly when we trust God.
    • God is not interested in changing you. He already has. The DNA is set. God want you to believe that he has already changed you so that he can get on with the process of maturing you into who you already are.
    • God’s ultimate goal is maturing us into who he says we are and releasing us into the dreams he designed for us before the world began.
    • Trusting God’s perfect love for us pushes away our fear and teaches us to embrace the love that heals our wounds.
    • In the Room of Grace no one is above anyone else. No one brags about his or her accomplishments. No one keeps score. No one is shunned. No one can lose membership for blowing it. The room is not a utopian ideal. It is a home where people live together.
  • Chalk full of rich biblical truths, this book is a gem! In fact, I would say this is probably one of the best books I have ever read! So get one for yourself. Get one for a friend. And let some of the gems in this profound book transform you and those you love.

Integrity

In his book Integrity, Dr. Henry Cloud gives six character traits that are important to focus on and develop, so that we can have true and lasting success in our lives and ministries. In short order, people with integrity:

  1. Maintain trust. They communicate authentically and expresses a genuine care for others. People trust others who understand them and are able to empathize with them.
  2. Face reality. They seek the brutal facts about themselves, others and the external world.
  3. Perform well. They know what their gifts are and don’t succumb to other people’s expectations or definitions of them.
  4. Embrace problems. They have the courage to meet the demands of reality, knowing that great things are often forged in adversity.
  5. Orient towards growth. They are constantly learning, discovering new things and taking risks in order to become all that God created them to be.
  6. Are rooted in transcendent values. They understand that to live and flourish, they must bow to things larger than themselves like faith, family and values.

So which of these six character traits do you feel you need to focus in on? That gap is your opportunity for growth! Will you seize the opportunity?

Do Not Be Afraid

One of the greatest emotions leaders face is fear. We fear making the wrong decision. We fear how people are going to react. We fear being in over our heads and not knowing what to do about it. That’s why it encourages me to remember that one of the most common phrases God uses to encourage the great leaders of the Bible is, “Do not be afraid”. In fact, this phrase is used over 365 times in the Bible. So why did God so often tell the leaders he’d chosen to “not be afraid?” Because most of the time, they were afraid!

Today, I sensed God speaking to me, just as he did through David to Solomon thousands of years ago. Here is what he said, “Take charge! Take heart! Don’t be anxious or get discouraged. God, my God, is with you in this; he won’t walk off and leave you in a lurch. He’s at your side until every last detail is completed” (1 Chronicles 28:20, MSG).

A Biblical Perspective on Marriage

In Genesis 1:26-28, God tells us the story of his design and purpose for humanity when he says,

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

As humans, we are made in his image and likeness of God and as such we are to reflect Him to one another. In Genesis 1:26-28, God tells us something about his design and purpose for marriage, and since God is the designer of marriage, it’s important that we look at what he has to say on the subject.

Today, I had the opportunity to speak to a number of engaged and seriously dating couples on the biblical perspective of marriage. Based on the book, Seriously Dating & Engaged by Roger & Becky Tirabassi, we discussed the type of partner that God wants to be to one another in the context marriage.

Here is a brief review of all six of those qualities we discussed. God desires us to be…

  1. A Perfect Partner – From the creation account, we can see that it has been God’s design that a man and woman be brought together such that they complement one another. (Genesis 2:20-23)
  2. A Permanent Partner – There are no throw away marriages! Marriage is a sacred covenant and it’s to be formed for the purposes of which, God the Divine Author, has ordained as well as blessed. (Matthew 19:4-6)
  3. A Dependent Partner – In marriage, our thoughts need to be for each other, rather than ourselves. Our plans mutual, our joys and sorrows shared. (1 Corinthians 11:11-12)
  4. A Loving/Respectful Partner – The husband is to love his wife. The wife is to respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:31-33)
  5. A Sacrificial Partner – Marriage is to be a mutually submissive relationship in which the man and woman reflect the image of God to one another. (Ephesians 5:21-23)
  6. An Equally Yoked Partner – In marriage a couple needs to be going the same direction, with the same set of ideals, beliefs and values. A common faith needs to be foundational. (2 Corinthians 6:14-17)

We can’t take our cues on marriage from our culture. We need to take our cues from God, who created this sacred covenant and blessed it. If you’re not convinced yet, perhaps this spoken word might hit home…

5 Languages of Apology

Today, Jennifer and I got to go hear Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, speak at a Pastor’s Forum sponsored by the Center for Individual Family Therapy. Jennifer and I greatly benefited from Dr. Chapman’s writing early in our marriage and The 5 Love Languages is something that I have continued to teach and use as a tool in helping couples experience and express love.

Today, Dr. Chapman spoke about Two Essentials for Successful Marriage, which he stated are: 1) expressing love and appreciation;  and 2) dealing effectively with our failures. In the first half of his message he talked about the 5 love languages. But in the later half, he introduced the 5 languages of an apology, we he expressed we need to know in order to deal effectively with our failures in the context of marriage. In unpacking this concept, Chapman talked about how each person has different ideas about what an apology is and how to give an apology! In a nutshell, he expressed that just as people have a love language, people also have an apology language.

Chapman suggests that any of these apologies, which are listed below, could stand on their own, if they are spoken in the right language of the hearer. And while that’s probably true, I personally think that all five languages of an apology need to be part of the anatomy of a complete and genuine apology, especially if the offense is great.

Here are the 5 languages of an apology. Have a look and tell me what you think. What do you want to hear when someone apologizes to you?

  1. Express Regret: Say, “I’m sorry that I…(be specific)”
  2. Accept Responsibility: Say, “I was wrong! I shouldn’t have done that!”
  3. Make Restitution: Ask, “What can I do to make this right?”
  4. Genuinely Repent: Say, “I don’t want this to keep happening!”
  5. Request Forgiveness: Ask, “Will you please forgive me?”

You can also discover your love language by taking this free online assessment.

Ten Questions I’m Asking

Ten questions I’m asking right now, in no particular order…

#1 – Is there anything in my life that I need to stop doing?

#2 – Is there anything in my life that I should start doing?

(By the way…the answer to #2 is YES…but in order for it to happen I REALLY need to wrestle with question #1!)

#3 – How can I be more efficient in the use of my time?

#4 – How can I be a better husband?

#5 – How can I be a better father?

#6 – What will I do to create margin in my life in 2012?

#7 – What will our family vacations look like this year?

#8 – How can we as a church continue to assist people in taking their next step with Christ?

#9 – How do I reconcile my divided heart between the SF Giants and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim?

#10 – What would a 25 year reunion with my buddies from UC Santa Barbara look like in 2013? And do I want to take on organizing it?

These are some good questions to wrestle with! What questions are you asking?

The Blame Game

If you remember the 2003 National League Championship Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Florida Marlins, the Cubs were just five outs from advancing to the World Series for the first time since 1945. However, in a fly ball out to left field, Steve Bartman tried to grab a foul ball, preventing outfielder Moises Alou from catching it. That moment shifted the momentum of the game and helped the Florida Marlins rally for an 8-3 victory to tie the NLCS. The 26-year-old Bartman, a youth baseball coach, was escorted by security guards from Wrigley Field after he was threatened by angry fans and pelted with debris.

With his life threatened by angry fans, a police guard was posted outside his suburban Northbrook home that evening. Bartman issued a public apology to Cubs fans saying, “I am so truly sorry from the bottom of this Cubs fan’s broken heart.” He would go on to ask that, “Cub fans everywhere redirect the negative energy that has been vented towards my family, my friends, and myself into the usual positive support for our beloved team on their way to being National League champs.”

His wishes were unanswered. The Marlins would go on to win Game 7 and advance to the World Series thereby cementing Bartman’s gaffe as a key moment in the Cubs’ history. Angry broadcasters castigated him. Thousands of people blamed him for playing a role in the Cubs’ loss.  Can you imagine an entire major metropolitan area blaming you for the loss of your team’s ability to go to the World Series. Even worse it wasn’t really the guy’s fault. One fan didn’t blow the game. It was the eleven other goofs and blunders on the part of the Cubs that cost them the series. Furthermore, the loss of the sixth game just tied up the playoff. The Marlins beat the Cubs without fan interference in the seventh game.

In one degree or another, I guess we all operate like Cubs fans, looking for someone else to blame. Blaming makes us feel better about ourselves, so that we don’t have to take responsibility for our actions, and no amount of truth to the contrary will convince us. Yes, in playing the blame game, we hope to exonerate ourselves by making sure that the person, who we believe has failed, is properly identified and punished.

Those who play the blame game set themselves up as judge, jury and dispenser of punishment. And it’s a nasty little game that God absolutely demands we forfeit, because he has a different intention for us. Instead he wants us to stop blaming others and learn to accept ourselves in spite of our imperfections, knowing that our worth is not dependent on our performance, but on what God says is true of us. For living in the reality of what God says is true of us, gives us the freedom to extend grace and compassion to ourselves and others, in the same way that God extends grace and compassion to us.

Don’t Wait for the Movie

According to polls conducted by Gallup, nine out of ten Americans have at least one Bible in their home, but nearly half of these Bible-owners rarely or never read the Bible. In fact, forty-one percent of all Americans polled indicate they have never read the Bible. That’s about 117 million people! And outside of the United States, the figures are even more dismal.

So for the season of Lent, we’re bringing special emphasis to the reading Scripture at SCG. The Bible is our blueprint for living and in reading it, we attempt to learn, live, teach and inspire from its rich history and insightful truth. So we’re challenging everyone at SCG to read through the gospels over the next 40 days in preparation of Easter.

When you break it down, it’s actually very simple:

  1. There are a total of 89 chapters in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
  2. To read through the gospels in 40 days, all you need to read is approximately 2.23 chapters a day.
  3. Reading 2.23 chapters a day will take you about 6.5 minutes.
  4. On average, we’re awake 960 minutes in a day and reading 2.23 chapters a day will take less than .006% of your day.
  • Download our 40 Day Bible Reading Plan and rediscover the story of Jesus’ life and journey to the cross as we prepare our heart and mind for resurrection.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13  Scroll to top