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#Struggles Series Resources

Sunday we wrapped up our series #Struggles.  We live in a time and place where we can watch whatever we want, wherever we want, whenever we want, and do it in complete privacy from our computer, TV, or smartphone. Let me call this out, it's too easy to get our minds and eyes on pornography. It's important for us to stay focused and guard our thoughts. Guarding our thoughts starts with guarding our eyes and what we allow into our minds as fodder for free time thinking. If you struggle with pornography you need to get some digital accountability. If you're a parent, you need to know that your kids should not be allowed to have free access to the internet, they need some digital accountability. In my house we have used a program called Qustodio. This program allows me to set filters on my children's internet use, set alerts for certain types of behaviors (i.e. accessing a search engine), to set time limits on their internet use, and to see all of their internet activity.
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The Cup of Forgiveness

Forgiveness alters the laws of relationships the way Superman defies the laws of physics. Forgiveness doesn’t make sense. Perhaps that is why throughout the centuries the church has declared as part of its central faith tenet,  “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.”  That’s a powerful statement, let it sink in…if you really believe it then you believe that debts can be cancelled, laws bent, and scoreboards erased.   Give a cup of cold water to your friend? Sure! A stranger? Perhaps. An enemy? No.  We want to do to others as they have done to us or before they can do to us. This is our default, which is why we struggle with Jesus' command to, "Love your enemies." (Matthew 5:44) This command is so difficult that Paul in his letter to the Roman church reminds us of it, as if to say, "Take Jesus seriously." (Romans 12:14-21) Forgiveness is a cup of cold water that we give to our enemies - after we have swallowed our own pride.   Forgiveness is easy to understand -

Don’t Go Back

USA Today reported that January 17th is the day most new year resolutions fail. Research for why we fail reveals everything from unclear goals to not having an adequate plan for change. The real problem is that making change in our lives is tough. It’s hard work. We want the product but not the process. If we could all just spend a day and learn that foreign language, drop those pounds, or become a Bible scholar we would. But if it takes longer than a day, we’re not sure it’s worth the work.  We’re not alone. The original audience of the book of Hebrews was struggling with finishing strong, with staying the course.  Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down

Becoming a Spiritual Visionary

Watching Hamilton  and celebrating the 4th of July this weekend made me ask, "How did this happen?" How did our founding fathers/mothers create this great experiment in democracy? America isn’t perfect, but it has in it’s DNA permission to speak-up, change, and improve. It has that because they believed we could live free and could govern ourselves. We might call this vision, but it’s really faith. Our founding forefathers and mothers saw what could be, believed in it, and worked to make it a reality.  Faith believes in what is possible. It is the ability to see what can be, but isn’t yet. Faith moves us forward. Hebrews 11:1-2 (NIV) "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." This passage references creation, which is best understood as the belief that

Four Steps To Walking Away

We all have personal baggage we carry that holds us back. John Maxwell has observed that moving trucks move people everyday to "happy land." They think, “This town will be better." Or maybe they hope the job will be better. Some people even trade in their spouse because they need a better one. The problem is that the problem isn’t the town, the job, or the spouse, it’s you. The same moving truck moving your belongings is also loaded with your disfunction and moving it into your new job, relationship, and town.   We'll never be able to start over until we walk away from the stuff that holds us back.  Sometimes it's easy to identify what is holding us back. Perhaps you have a bad habit (ok its an addiction) that keeps you from moving forward. Sometimes it's the way we treat people with our gossip. Sometimes it's our laziness (aka procrastination) that holds us back. We're trapped regularly by fear, guilt, shame, and sin. This happens on a personal level

What is Lent?

Sunday we started a new series for the lenten season "LENT: Leave Everything Not Transformed." I know many of you have never practiced any type of lenten observance and may even wonder what Lent is. Early on in the church and I mean the first 300 years we read that there was a tradition of fasting before celebrating the resurrection. Many churches fasted weekly, on Friday, to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus. These fasts were sometimes total, meaning only water was consumed. Sometimes these fasts were of meat and they only ate vegetables. Some people modified this and ate fish. While the exact expression of it changed, the practice of self-denial was nearly universal. It was a sacrifice that you felt in your body which was a reminder of the sacrifice Christ felt in his body. Give it some time and this fast turns into a season of self-denial leading up to Easter. They felt that 40 days leading up to Easter was a good time to remind us of the sacrifice of Christ. Why 40 d

How To Read The Bible Everyday

Many people will be making a New Year's resolution to read the Bible more. Yet, many people will get frustrate and quit in a few weeks or in the middle of Leviticus (whatever comes first). Part of the problem is that most people don't have a good approach to reading scripture. They approach Bible reading like a novel, newspaper, or dictionary. Each of these readings will bless you with some benefit, but fail to approach the Bible as an inspired text. Below is a brief description of an approach you can use and modify to hopefully get more out of God's word... In The Morning Pray a short prayer simply asking God to bless your time with him. Read through the first psalm and pause on any word or phrase that stands out to you. Offer up to God whatever is on your heart for the day and/or from the psalm you read. Ask God to bless your continued reading and then read the main passage and Proverb. Glance back over your reading for anything that you want to remember. Say