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Real Faith is Personal - Not Private

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Jesus said that people were like trees, you could tell good from bad based on their fruit. Sunday we finished up our series "Back to Basics" where we've explored what it takes to produce good fruit in our lives. Good fruit is produced by good roots. The roots are unseen and personal to the tree. They silently draw up from the ground water and nutrients essential to producing fruit. The fruit is the public product of the unseen or personal work of the tree.


A healthy tree has healthy roots that produces healthy fruit. If the fruit is bad then it's likely a problem with the roots which need to be fed by watering or fertilizing. If that doesn't work then the tree needs to be cut down because it refuses to produce. The same is true with many Christians. They come to church to be fed but then refuse to produce the fruits of godliness like love, forgiveness, kindness, mercy, generosity, and patience. Trees with roots and no fruit are nothing more than stumps, thankfull…

Bible Reading Plan

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Reading the Bible is on many people's bucket lists but it can be an overwhelming and frustrating task. Often people start reading from the beginning and then give up somewhere in Leviticus. Or perhaps you started reading the New Testament and felt a little bored by reading the same stories four times! Usually readers quit and then resolve to start over, so they re-read the same things again and again.


I've been there and know the struggle of keeping up with a regular Bible reading habit. Thankfully I've struggled through (after a few false starts) and have found it to be an incredible blessing. Let me tell you I have found that regular Bible reading is completely worth the effort!

After experimenting with several different Bible reading plans and finding none that worked for me, I came up with my own. This reading plan is a bit of a hybrid but was created with four specific goals in mind... 

Rotate the readings to keep them fresh so you're always engaged. This reading p…

The Second To Last Word

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"The last word" is the defining word. It summarizes the conversation, wraps up the discussion, and finalizes the decision. This is why we want to "get the last word in" and become frustrated when someone else does. We don't want to be defined by others. We don't want to allow others the final say. We fight and prolong the argument until we get the last word. This type of interaction does great harm to our relationships which last beyond any one conversation. Perhaps it would be best if we could learn to be content with the second to last word.

The real problem is that we will never be able to define anyone because we will never know enough about them to put them in a box. Our definition of another person can at best be fluid as we learn more about who they truly are. We need to stop trying to put people in a box (we hate it when they do that to us) and start listening, learning, and being curious about who they truly are.


If we commit ourselves to learning …

Becoming Friends with God

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What does it take to make friends? According to Dr. Jeffrey Hall, communications professor at the University of Kansas, the answer is time. He recently published research about the relationship between time spent with a person and their level of friendship. In general, Hall found that it took about 50 hours to form a casual friendship. Moving from casual friend to a regular "friend" required roughly 90 hours, and moving from friend to good/best friend took at least 200 hours. Time spent together was a key predictor of friendship closeness. The same is required to become a friend of God.


Conversations with close friends are timeless. Time seems to stop and stand still when we're having a great talk with a close friend. Prayer can be like that, but it takes time. Sunday I ran out of time to share some more practical ways to keep watch and pray. I want to share a few of those here to help you become a friend of God as you spend more time with him in prayer. If you don't…

Back to Basics: First Things First

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A triangle is a collection of three lines, but three lines alone don't make a triangle. A triangle is a collection of three lines, connected together by three angles. The lines are the pieces our eyes are drawn to, but it’s the angles that give them shape. Eugene Peterson likens these angles to the personal faith disciplines required to give shape to a Christian's life. Angles are essentially unseen. Similarly, prayer, scripture reading, and spiritual disciplines are hidden from public view. People may only see the public speech and the public actions, but our personal life gives shape (and hopefully integrity) to our public life. It's a shame that these very important personal disciplines are neglected. We neglect our prayer life because it is unseen and instead give more attention to what others notice about us.

The apostle Paul knew all about this and the struggle it can be for people of faith. He wrote a letter to a church in Galatia because they were paying too much …