Bold Statements

I like bold statements. I like swagger. I like the confidence that comes from knowing you’re right and believing you have the skill and resources necessary to win the day. When I watch football there’s something about seeing my favorite running back push through a pile of thousand pound giants into the end zone to score a touchdown that makes me want to jump up and spike my TV remote!

There’s something special about bold statements and the will to achieve them. I serve at First Baptist Church Owasso. We’ve made some bold statements.

  • We will not be the church that prays small prayers. We will ask God to do the impossible and recognize that if God doesn’t come through, all is lost.
  • We will be the church that goes out of its way to reach people with the love of Jesus. We will go places we’ve never been before and do things we’ve never done before in order to share the gospel with people we’ve not yet met.
  • We will be a generous church. We will give more than we think we can afford and trust God to provide. We will recognize that we are tremendously blessed and that because we have been given much we can give much. We will not shy away from trying to meet the needs of as many people as God entrusts to us. We will be the church that serves people and serves other churches.
  • We will be the church that beats the odds. We will value our relationships more than our own rights or opinions. We will be quick to repent and quick to forgive. Like John 13:35, the world will know we are His disciples because of our love.
Those are some bold statements. Before the ‘we’ is the ‘I’ – before ‘we’ are the church that becomes these things ‘I’ must be the one to do these things.
  • Our church will see answers to impossible prayers when I begin to call on God for impossible things.
  • Our church will connect people with the gospel when I connect with people and love them like Jesus does.
  • Our church will be a generous church when I give generously to the church and to others.
  • Our church will beat the marriage and relationship odds when I value my relationships more than my own rights or opinions.
Bold statements + bold actions = the epic stories we love to hear.

Where Do You Draw the Line?

Limitations. Everyone’s got them. There’s only so much time in a day. There are only so many things one can do. Money will only go so far. While I may have a talent for music, athletically I have an amazing one inch vertical, so no one’s exactly begging me to be on their basketball team.

Limitations – the place where you draw the line.

The Bible speaks clearly about the limits of man.

  • “There is none righteous, no not one.” Romans 3:10 | so perfection on my own, not really an option.
  • “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment…” Hebrews 9:27 | One day my life will certainly come to an end and then I will give an account for my every thought, action and intent.
  • “…man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.” Deuteronomy 8:3 | There’s more to this life than eating and drinking, but even those things are necessary. Even more needful – the word of God.

These limitations are set by God, the natural way of things. It’s the way we’re designed. Try as we may, there are some limits we won’t ever cross on our own.

But there are other limits, the self-imposed kind. These limits are the ones that concern me the most.

  • What kinds of things would I NEVER do?
  • What kind of people could I NEVER love?
  • What kind of activity will I ALWAYS avoid?
  • Are there places I won’t go?
  • At what point do I willingly set aside my morality because my  happiness is more important?
  • Is enough really enough and is there a limit to this hunger that drives me to work, to eat, to buy, to push.
  • Will I ever be satisfied?
  • How do I decide when I’ve reached my limit?

It seems the struggles of our lives don’t happen in the happy middle. They happen on the edges where one limit collides with another.

We see this play out clearly in regards to our reaction to the things of God.

  • God says be faithful to your spouse. But my happiness is more important to me than faithfulness so I cross one limit in order to satisfy another.
  • God says forgive and you will be forgiven. But getting people to recognize how right I am is more important to me than having a right relationship with others. So I leave people behind and sit smugly soaking in self-satisfaction.
  • God says share the gospel, make disciples. But I don’t want people to think I’m some kind of religious nut or that I’m forcing my beliefs on them. So I never say a thing, hoping the quality of my life will be enough to persuade them of their need for God.

Some limits are decided for us. Some we choose for ourselves. What are the limits you face today? What limits will you overcome? Will you define your limits or will your limits define you?

What are you willing to do out of simple obedience to God and what if God asked you to do something today that was outside the limits of your own ease, comfort or pleasure? Take some time today to read Genesis 22:1-19. Abraham was pushed to the limits of his faith. We’ll discuss this more in worship this Sunday.

Where do you draw the line?

God is looking for a people who recognize that He draws the line and who are willing to stay within the boundaries He sets. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him…”  Sometimes loyalty means there are lines God has drawn that you will never cross. Sometimes loyalty means there are lines YOU have drawn that you need to recognize, redraw and overcome.

Where do you draw the line? Allow God to show Himself strong on your behalf today and redraw the limits of your life.

God Bless,
Chad

This devotional originally posted @ www.fbcowasso.org.

Risky Business

Do you remember the day you proposed to your wife? I remember the day I proposed to Londa. It was December 23rd, 1994, a cold, wintry afternoon. I had come up to Tulsa from Oklahoma City to visit Londa that Christmas and I was on a mission.

I could joke about my proposal and say something like, “I couldn’t get her to stop following me around so I went to the courthouse to file a restraining order and found out that getting a marriage license was easier, so I proposed instead!” But that wasn’t really the way of it. God brought this amazing woman into my life and I was smitten. I left Oklahoma City a single man. It was my purpose to go to Tulsa and return that Christmas as a man bound by promise to the woman of His dreams! I would trade one kind of freedom for another. I would surrender my right to be totally focused on me in order to become something more than I could ever be on my own. I would give up something I loved for something I loved even more.

And so we went together to Woodward Park each carrying a gift for the other. I had always joked that if I ever proposed to someone I would do it old school – and by that I mean 1st grade old school – I would pass my girl a note that said, “I like you. Do you like me. Please check this box.” And so that’s just what I did. The kind folks at Precious Moments had seen fit to create one of their figurines of a boy proposing to girl with a note just like this. So as she sat on the park bench and unwrapped the gift I got down on one knee and said these words:

“All that I am, all that I ever will be, I give to you. Will you marry me?”

It’s an understatement to suggest I was nervous. Would she say yes? Would she run away screaming? Would she laugh in my face? But none of these things happened. She said yes and now 15 years, 4 babies and a world of adventures later we stand side by side as husband and wife.

It’s risky business being married. It’s risky business opening yourself up to someone like that and laying it all on the line. There’s room for hurt and disappointment. But there’s also amazing potential for joy unbelievable.

There comes a point in every relationship where you have to put things to the test. We’ve been dating, but is there potential for more? We’ve had some good times together, but is this a friendship designed for fun or a commitment intended to stand the test of time? There’s only one way to find out – ask the question. Take the test. Let’s see if we’ll pass. It’s risky business being married.

This morning I read Genesis 22. Abraham’s relationship with God was put to the test. God tells Abraham to offer his one and only son as a burnt offering. My first reaction to this certainly isn’t willful obedience. It’s really something more akin to shock and horror. Surely God doesn’t mean it. Surely He would never ask such a thing. But there it is in Scripture. God asks Abraham to kill his only son and Abraham obeys. It’s risky business being a father.

You remember how the story unfolds. Abraham and Isaac with a couple of servants make their way to Mount  Moriah. At the foot of the hill they leave the servants behind. Abraham carries the knife. Isaac carries the wood. Isaac asks his father, “Where is the lamb for sacrifice?” Abraham responds, “God will provide.” Abraham builds the altar, binds his son to it, raises the knife and…God steps in. Abraham passed the test. God stops Abraham before the blade falls and then provides for Abraham and Isaac a ram to be offered instead. Abraham’s choice here amazes me. He was willing to give up something he loved for something he loved even more – that’s sacrifice. Or said another way – Abraham was willing to give more than he thought he could afford because he trusted that God would provide. You see his faith in God in every verse. God says go and Abraham goes. God says stop and Abraham stops. “Where’s the lamb?” Isaac asks. “God will provide,” Abraham responds. In spite of the absurdity of the situation, despite the risk involved Abraham believed God – and James 2:23 says, “…it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

Here’s something I notice – Abraham never really made the sacrifice. Isaac lived. God provided a ram to take the place of the offering Abraham was willing to make. Yet even though Abraham didn’t lose a thing in God’s eyes the sacrifice had been made. In God’s eyes Abraham’s obedience was ‘accounted to him as righteousness’. So I have to wonder, what kind of risky business is it to follow God? I wonder if today you’re willing to put it all on the line. Will you open yourself up to Him? If God asks will you give more than you think you can afford and trust Him to provide? Will you give up something you love for something you love even more? Will you humble yourself, get down on your knees and say, “All that I am, all that I ever will be I give to You.”?

Life is full of risky business. Following God is one risk worth taking.

God Bless,
Chad

Going Dark

1 John 1:5, “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all.”

I’ve heard about spies and under cover operatives – police officers – who ‘Go Dark’ – it means they cut off all contact & communication with their handlers, head quarters and home base. It’s while they’ve gone dark that they face their greatest risk. During this time they are:

  1. Vulnerable to attack.
  2. Susceptible to temptation
  3. Alone – completely alone.

What happens when a spy ‘goes dark’ is rarely good.

Going Dark seems to be a consistent choice of some who call themselves Believers today. For reasons I’m certain they consider necessary many will separate themselves from their church, their family and their God – during this time they will face their greatest risk. They are:

  1. Vulnerable to attack.
  2. Susceptible to temptation.
  3. Completely alone.

It’s an odd choice to make, but I see church members make this choice all the time. 1 John 1:5 says that with God you will NEVER go dark. 1 John 1:6 is even more convicting. It says if you say you follow God then choose to go dark that you are a liar who doesn’t practice the truth.

Today, may you walk in the light. No matter your circumstance may you see that choosing to ‘go dark’ is really no choice at all. May you resist temptation, be invulnerable to attack and recognize that with God, and His people – you are never alone.

Have you been through a dark time? How did you get out? Use the comments area to share your story.

Going Dark

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A Word to the Wise

James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom let him ask of God who gives to all liberally and without reproach and it will be given to him.

Proverbs is one of my favorite books of the Bible. I remember hearing the story of Solomon when I was a kid in Sunday School. I always thought it was cool that God would grant this young king one wish. I also thought Solomon’s wish was pretty cool. He asked for wisdom. God liked Solomon’s choice too. He gave him wisdom and with that wisdom Solomon became the wisest King of Israel. During his reign his nation knew peace and prosperity. He was famous all over the world (and in some cities!). His fame and fortune seemed to know no end. All this was the result of wisdom.

As I read the book of Proverbs, a book written mostly by Solomon, some common patterns and themes surface. One of the things I notice is the many elements of wisdom Solomon discusses. Let’s break it down.

  • Knowledge – That’s facts and figures. It’s knowing stuff about stuff. It’s the kind of information you acquire by reading, studying, going to school or practicing a skill.
  • Understanding – This is comprehension. Once you’ve got the facts and figures do you comprehend their significance? It’s one thing to know E=MC2. Understanding the significance of that little formula is something completely different.
  • Insight – These are those wonderful leaps of logic. It’s what happens when you hear about ‘A’ and ‘B’ and based on that alone you somehow, intuitively know that ‘Z’ will be true. It’s what happens when knowledge and understanding meet creativity. Think of it like this, Knowledge + Understanding + Creativity = Insight.
  • Discernment – This is knowing right from wrong, good from bad, benevolent from malevolent. It’s knowing what’s useful and what’s harmful. Discernment allows you to determine the value of what you know.
  • Discretion – There’s an old song, “You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away and know when to run…” That’s discretion. How public or private should what you just learned remain? Is your new found knowledge for public consumption or is it for you alone? That’s discretion.
  • Wisdom – If all these other definitions are true then wisdom is very simply knowing what to do with what you know. These other 5 skills are useful but they find their greatest strength and their greatest value when they come together. It’s this gestalt that makes wisdom – someone who is well informed, with a clear understanding of the matters at hand; able to presume right answers in the absence of every fact; and determine the value of what they know; with the discretion to know when and how to reveal it: That’s wisdom – knowing what to do with what you know.

So today – may you be wise. May God grant you one wish and may your wish be wise. May you receive the knowledge, understanding, insight, discernment and discretion you need to choose rightly, live wisely and walk humbly with your God.

Leave a comment and tell me what you would wish for if God gave you one wish.

God Bless,
Chad

Reasons

I’m sure you’ve got your reasons…

So what is your reason for trusting Christ and obeying him? John had plenty of them. Take a look at 1 John 1:1-4. With a ‘once upon a time’ John begins his story by telling everyone he has a lot of reasons for this hope he had.

  • VS. 1 (heard) – There’s the PROMISE he HEARD. For generations the Jewish people were searching for Messiah. John grew up hearing the prophecies and studying the stories. If Messiah came in his lifetime he would recognize Him.
  • VS. 1. (saw) – There was a PERSON he SAW. Along comes Jesus. All those promises, the words of the prophets had become flesh and now John could see it! He watched the way Jesus worked and found in Him the fulfillment of the prophecies he grew up hearing.
  • VS. 1 (handled) – An EXPERIENCE of his own. But John was no novice. Others had claimed to be Messiah. Some tried to manufacture the evidence. But with Jesus and John something was different. John didn’t take the press at face value. He walked where Jesus walked. He listened to His words, followed His ways, watched Him die then celebrated His resurrection. He experienced the Savior.

And the list goes on…John had reasons for following Jesus. what are yours?