Are You On Mission?

“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Colossians 3:12-17

This Christmas season at First Baptist Owasso we’ve been in a series called, ‘ON MISSION’ – we’ve been hearing stories of faith and words of hope about a mission that’s worth living right now. Being ‘On Mission’ isn’t simply about whether or not we support through prayer and finances the work of missionaries around the world. It’s really a question about whether or not we’re living out our God-given mission right here, right now.

Are you – on mission?

I read Colossians 3:12-17 this morning and wanted to share them with you. They are a perfect expression from God’s Word of what it looks like to be on mission. As I read these verses here are the things I notice:

  • God picked you – “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved…” – Maybe you’re like me. I’ve never been terribly athletic, so as a kid I was often picked last to be on the dodge ball team. But for this mission, that’s not true. God picked you because He loves you. He picked you and He has made you HOLY – it’s a little word with a big meaning. You’ve been set apart because you are useful to God.
  • Suit Up – Football players wear pads and helmet, for baseball it’s a glove and a bat. In every sport you’ve got have the right gear to win the game. You’ve got to suit up so the world will know which team you’re on. Colossians 3:12-15 outline the uniform we wear and the gear we need to fulfill this mission: Tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, patience, endurance, forgiveness, peace and thanksgiving – all these are held together through the bond of love. They are the suit we wear that identifies the team we’re on. Think of it as the evidence of worship all over you.
  • Playbook – You can’t run the right plays the right way if you don’t know the playbook. Colossians 3:16 identifies our playbook. It is the Word of God. Don’t just read it, memorize it. Don’t stop at memorizing it, internalize it. Get to know it so well that it doesn’t come to you as second nature – it comes as your first nature. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you so richly that it becomes your knee jerk reaction. And don’t stop there. Teach others the value of living life God’s way.
  • On MissionColossians 3:17 – everything you do can be an expression of the mission God has given you. Your job may provide a paycheck, but your God provides your mission. Let that mission define the kind of employee or employer you are. Let that mission affect the way you raise your kids, treat your spouse and choose your hobbies. Everyone’s living for something, as a Believer in Jesus Christ let’s spend our lives living for God.

Love y’all, God Bless,
Chad

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

Who Do You Believe?

Recently I was asked to name a person who has been influential in my life. I’m sure you could answer that question pretty quickly. It didn’t take me long either. What was surprising to me is that I came up with two different names with one significant common denominator. These two people believed in the potential they saw in me. They risked my immaturity and my mistakes to empower me to accomplish something I never really imagined was possible on my own.

Mike Taylor was my Youth Pastor when I was a student. He heard from a friend of mine that I played the piano. From that point on he challenged and encouraged me to lead our student ministry in worship every week. I was awful, but he kept pushing. He kept putting me in front of people and giving me opportunities to improve. He believed I could be useful to God and His kingdom in a way I had never really imagined on my own.

James Lankford was the Student Ministry Specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and Director of Falls Creek. Today he is about to become the next Congressman for the 5th District of the great state of Oklahoma. A friend of mine and I began a video production business. We didn’t really have any idea what we were doing. But there we were, with a hobby, some cool toys and a little imagination that had grown into a small business. And there was James, challenging and encouraging us to produce video for 5000 students a week at Falls Creek and then 10,000 students at the Oklahoma Youth Evangelism Conference. Equipment failed, mistakes were plentiful, yet James patiently continued to challenge and encourage us to go beyond what we imagined we were capable of on our own.

There are other men who have spoken into my life – Rodney Salmon, Mike Compton, my Father, my Father-in-law. Each has challenged and encouraged me to go further than I thought possible and to attempt more than I imagined I could ever achieve on my own. It makes me mindful of an important truth.

You give remarkable power to someone when you believe in them.

So the question for today is this: Who do you believe? Who, by your belief, are you challenging and encouraging? Who do you see tremendous, God-given potential in and what are you doing to help them unleash that potential?

Perhaps God placed you in their life to be the voice that pushes them beyond anything they imagined possible on their own.

175lbs. – Reaching a Goal

It’s not about the shape of my body – it’s about the surrender in my soul. Reshaping the body is my practice field.

On December 21, 2009 I weighed 225lbs. Today I reached my goal – 175lbs.

My secret? Galatians 5:22 says one of the fruits of the Spirit is self control. I’ve asked God to fill me with the fruits of the Spirit and teach me self control. May I continue to learn and practice that which brings honor to God.

It’s not about the shape of my body – it’s about the surrender in my soul. Reshaping the body is my practice field.

Revenge Stories

Have you heard any good revenge stories lately?

I heard about one guy who carries golf balls in the glove compartment of his car. When someone cuts him off in traffic he speeds up, gets in front of them and then throws a handful of golf balls out his sun roof in hopes to even the score!

I heard about a women who caught her husband cheating on her. She went home, grabbed his tooth brush and immediately started using it to clean the inside of the toilet! She did this every day till the divorce was final – her husband never knew and often wondered why the toilet smelled so minty fresh!

And then there’s that member of your church staff – I’ll let you guess which one – who seems to delight in putting other people on mailing lists. He’s signed up people to receive Peter Popoff Prayer Clothes and at the State Fair every year he uses someone else’s name and contact info to sign up for everything from free siding quotes to free samples of Uncle Amos’ Hemorrhoid Cream. Not sure this one’s revenge, but rest assured. His time is coming. He will rue the day!

It seems we come pre-wired with the need for JUSTICE. We don’t like to be wronged and when we’re wronged we want the person at fault to receive full punishment for their indiscretion.

Justice is one of the defining characteristics of God. The Bible says that God is LOVE, but it also say that God is JUST. This means that the wrongs you have done and the wrongs done to you will eventually receive their just reward. Think about this – God’s JUSTICE is as unavoidable as His LOVE. Does that frighten you or encourage you?

There’s actually a pattern to how life works. We make CHOICES. These choices have CONSEQUENCES. And sometimes those consequences demand JUSTICE.

There’s more to this story we need to consider, but before we do I’d like to hear from you.

  • What’s the best REVENGE STORY you know?
  • How does FORGIVENESS relate to JUSTICE?

Until next time – watch out for flying golf balls, take care to treat your spouse right and be warned, The State Fair is coming. Wonderful new offers will soon await you!

Snake in the Door

For me, this has been a normal morning. I woke up early to go to the Prayer Room at my church. I love my time in the Prayer Room. It’s early. It’s quiet and in these moments I get to visit with God about things that wouldn’t normally cross my mind. I pray through our church’s Prayer & Care Guide, about upcoming Mission Trips and other church related ministries and challenges. I also pray for friends and family. The conversations God and I have had from this room have shaped my thoughts on a significant number of things.

More than that, I’ve seen God change people and circumstances as a result of the conversations we’ve had in this room. It’s my favorite quote on prayer. “With faith you can move mountains, but with prayer you can move God.” And that’s been my experience from this small room hidden away in the early of the morning in a quiet corner of our church building.

This morning my experience was a little different. Take a close look at the picture. That’s the coded lock on the door to the Prayer Room. Do you see what’s seems to have made it’s new home inside the door? Yes. It’s exactly what you think it is. A SNAKE! It’s not a very big one, mind you. But there it is, sticking it’s tongue out at me, watching me cautiously, defending it’s space and daring me to go through that door.

Being the fearless city-folk that I am, I paused. My first reaction – “I gotta get a picture of this!” Followed shortly by, “How am I supposed to get in there now!? Maybe I should just go back to bed.”

So cautiously I took out my phone and snapped a couple of pictures. “Blasted iPhone – where’s my zoom!?” I had to get much too close for comfort to get that little picture you’re looking at above. It was through the screen of my iPhone that I realized a couple of things.

THIS SNAKE IS SCARED OF ME.

The closer I inched to the door with my phone the more the snake recoiled, trying to get away.

THIS SNAKE IS REALLY SMALL.

It may have been small…but it had HUGE TEETH! At least that’s what my imagination told me. I always tell my kids that true courage is, “being afraid but choosing to do the right thing anyway.” So in the face of this tiny snake with the HUGE imaginary TEETH I pressed forward. Far from the snake I banged the door with my fist. At the first rattle the snake disappeared inside the door. I waited a few seconds and tapped the door again, then slowly, deliberately I pressed the numbers on the coded lock, opened the door and went inside. Later this morning we’ll fish the snake out, never to bother another person again.

The spiritual picture that comes to mind in this situation is pretty blunt and plain to see. The devil is often symbolized as a snake. How often does he try to take up residence in the door between our daily life and our prayer life? How often do we let this little snake with HUGE imaginary TEETH stop us from pouring out our souls to our Heavenly Father? How often do we see this little obstacle and turn away from speaking, turn away from hearing, turn away from experiencing the power of God in our lives?

As a Believer the Devil is as scared of you as that tiny snake was of me. He has no power or authority over us. His mouth is too small to do any real damage and those fangs I keep seeing as huge are really no larger than a small pencil lead.

Today – don’t let Satan stop you from praying. Don’t let him take up residence in the door of your prayer life. Resist him and, like the snake in my door, he will flee from you.

Satan works diligently to keep us from praying. I believe he’s attacking churches all over the world right now. He does that by attacking believers. He is most effective when he can keep God’s children from praying. Don’t let him in. Don’t let him win.

Stop Praying

This morning I was reading in Jeremiah…One passage was scary. The other challenging. I thought I would share these passages with you.

SCARY

Jeremiah 7:16, “Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you.” – It scares me to think that there are some in our community, possibly even in our church, that God may consider in this way. It changes the shape of my prayers for our people. Father, please don’t cast away your people. Grant us the gift of repentance, the capacity for forgiveness and the willingness to obey, even if you tell us to stop praying.

CHALLENGING

Jeremiah 9:23–24, “Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the might man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord. – Two challenging thoughts, don’t glory in your stuff, your strength or your smarts. Instead, UNDERSTAND and KNOW GOD. Knowing God is one thing…understanding – that’s a bigger thing all together. It’s challenging to think that God not only wants us to know Him. More than knowing Him or about Him He want us to understand His ways, motives, methods and means.

God Bless,
Chad


From Camera Plus Pro Photos, posted by Chad Balthrop on 5/30/2010 (65 items)

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Overcome Your Despicable Me

I once heard two chess masters discussing what it takes to be really good at chess. One chess master said, “All the great chess masters of the world think at least 5 moves ahead.” The older, wiser and better chess master sat back thoughtfully and then responded, “No, the best chess masters in the world only think ONE move ahead…it’s just always the right move.”

This week we discovered four truths that will help us live the life God intends. Now for the hard part. Can we put those truths into practice? Take a look back to refresh your memory or watch for the first time. You’re only one right choice away from overcoming your despicable me.

As a Believer in Jesus Christ you are (1 Peter 1:3-5):

  • ADOPTED into the FAMILY of God.
  • RESCUED from the PENALTY of sin.
  • PROTECTED from the POWER of temptation.
  • PROMISED a PERFECT inheritance.

Superhero

As a Believer in Jesus Christ you have had a life changing experience, one that has altered you on a fundamental level. Every day you discover in you new abilities and new strength that allow you to accomplish the unbelievable mission God has for you. It’s time to set aside your mild-mannered alter ego. Release the superhero inside of you.