Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
People are our greatest asset. They are our greatest resource; yet they can be our greatest problem. Our involvement in people’s lives is messy. A good friend of mine used to humorously say “I could reach the world for Christ, if I didn’t have to deal with people.” Yet God loves people. God loves you and me. We have just celebrated Holy week and remembered that it is all about the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. It began in the heart of God the Father, assisted by the Holy Spirit, and enacted by our Savior and Redeemer. God’s gift for people like you and me.
Max Lucado, in his book The Cast of Characters, says this: “The reassuring lesson is clear. God used (and uses!) people to change the world. People! Not saints or superhumans or geniuses, but people. Crooks, creeps, lovers and liars – he uses them all. And what they lack in perfection, God makes up for in love.” He uses us to bring glory to Himself. Aren’t we glad?!
This last week I have been encouraged that God is still using me and YBL. I have had some significant appointments with men after our J.C. Watts banquet. YBL has become a lifeline to Christ for some of these men. Plus, I am emboldened by the fact God used something I shared many years ago in a current situation. Let me explain.
A friend of mine had a conversation with a man (let’s call him Joe) about heaven. He shared with Joe an illustration I had used about how I viewed heaven. Of course we will not know until we get there. I told him that I viewed heaven as a sporting event where everyone is excited to be there, but different people have different perspectives on the game that is played. Because of each person’s knowledge, love or involvement in the game there will be different levels of joy. My friend shared this with Joe not knowing he would die suddenly four day later. God used me and my friend. You never know when, where or how God will use you – His people, His children.
We are still getting in touch with everyone who attended our banquet for the first time. Three new studies will start on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at three different locations. We are matching more than twenty-five people in a mentor / mentee relationship.
J.C. Watts did a wonderful job of presenting the gospel and speaking of a transformation taking place in our city. The most frequent comment that I got from our banquet other than “It was fantastic” or “I loved the speaker” was “This was the most diverse crowd I have ever been around.” In many ways this banquet was the culmination of multiple years of work. We are not laboring in vain. God is working, and we are a part of what He is doing.
I’d ask you to continue to pray for our ministry. Our Golf Marathon and our Spring Banquet with Michael Kendrick will take place in May. These new studies will need new leaders, so join us in praying that God will raise up those leaders.
Thank you again for your continued involvement and support of this ministry. We could not make the impact on this city without your support.
I want to close with another Max Lucado quote from his book Cure For The Common Life. He said “Moses had a staff, David had a sling, Sampson had a jawbone, Mary had an ointment. What do you have?” Let’s not grow weary. God is using us - His people.by Phil Reddick
Is it possible to please the Father by our actions? Hebrews 11:6 states: And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. So our actions must be done by faith. Paul exhorts the believers in Rome I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship (Romans 12:1). Samuel the prophet rebukes Saul in I Samuel 15:22 … Behold to obey is better than sacrifice. Our actions do matter. John Piper in his book The Pleasures of God gives four reasons why our obedience pleases God. Obedience means 1. God is trustworthy and reliable. 2. Everything God commands is for our good. 3. His commandments are not too hard for us. 4. He loves that our obedience is done in faith.
We are created for good works. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6: 8). And our Savior said in John 17:4, I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. Jesus pleased the Father by obeying, accomplishing His intended purpose.
Kevin DeYoung in his book The Hole in Our Holiness states it this way: “God is pleased through Christ to accept our sincere obedience, although it contains many weaknesses and imperfections.” He is referring to our own Westminster Confession of Faith in Chapter 16. DeYoung goes on to say, “even the smallest act of obedience is an event worth celebrating.” Sounds a lot like Mark 9:41: For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward and in Matthew 25:40; And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
Think about when our children are learning to walk. Do we scold them when they fall down? No, we applaud every step they take. Did our love for them increase because they walked? No. However it pleased us to see them do it, because that was what they were created to do.
God created us so that we could live in vital union with Him. He created us so we could share in reaching the world for Christ. He gave us the privilege to join Him in what He is doing already. Our obedience does matter. And it does please God because it comes through grace and faith empowered by the Holy Spirit. He entrusts us with more knowledge of His will because He knows we seek to do it. I desire God to trust me!by Phil Reddick
Matthew 22:37-40 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
In her book Daring Greatly Brené Brown proposes that vulnerability transforms the way we live, the way we love, parent and even how we lead. As we gain the courage to open ourselves up to others, we experience that connection, love, and belonging that we all desire. Brown states that we live in a world of scarcity or a society whose nature is “never enough.” We never do enough to merit worth in other people’s eyes. We are never perfect enough in our appearance or status in our desire to impress people. This creates shame in our lives. We hide behind that shame and that defeats our courage to be vulnerable.
In her chapter about the vulnerability armor, she expounds three shields we tend to put up and the remedies to those shields. The first shield is foreboding joy. We are always looking for the other shoe to drop. We tend to think if we are experiencing great joy in our lives, the circumstances will change, or it will be quickly taken away. Learn to experience joy in the ordinary moments; to be thankful for what we have. That is the solution - to practice gratitude. Sports psychologist Dr. Kevin Elko made this statement: “If you lost everything you had today and then got it all back tomorrow, you would feel like the luckiest person in the world.” What does Philippians 4:4 say? Rejoice always.
Her second shield is perfectionism. I know nothing about perfectionism – Ha! Brené says the remedy is to “appreciate the cracks.” In our own lives we know we are not perfect. We know that God made us so that we would be in a relationship with and be dependent upon Him. Think about the marriage relationship. Anne has great strengths and helps me in my weaknesses, and thankfully I have some strengths that encourage her. That causes us to love and depend on each other in the same way we love and depend on our Savior. As the theologian Rocky says, “Adrian has gaps; I have gaps; we fill gaps.”
The third shield she mentions is numbing. We put up vulnerability armor by constantly being busy or by addictions. Her solution: set boundaries and cultivate our spirit. Biblically I would say we need to know who we are and that the Holy Spirit is cultivating us to be more like Christ. Because of our union with Christ we can set boundaries and be content. Let people see who we really are. Let people see where we have failed. Asking forgiveness and being real only increases credibility and accessibility. People will be drawn to us because of our openness.
I believe these concepts lead us to greater insight in God and loving others. As we recognize our own vulnerabilities it causes us to seek God in a greater way. It causes us to love others because they are like us -- vulnerable, broken, hurting; experiencing pain, success and joy. If we don’t love ourselves, then we hide behind those insecurities and shame. We must have a strong knowledge of who we are in Christ, recognize His blood covers a multitude of sins, then reach out and love other people.
We are approaching 2013 with great excitement. Former congressman J.C. Watts and pro-golfer Stewart Cink will be two of the speakers who will join us. With the 50th Anniversary of the tragic events that happened in Birmingham in 1963, we sense the J.C. Watts banquet will be significant. It will be a huge open door to share the Gospel with our city.
Thank you for your faithfulness in making our end of the year strong. It gives us great confidence as we move forward. We are so grateful that you stand behind us.
Let’s dare greatly to be more vulnerable with others. It should open opportunities to be witnesses for Christ, to experience joy in the ordinary things, and to truly love others as Christ first loved us. It is wonderful to be with you on this journey.by Phi Reddick
In my last blog I discussed refreshment and restoration. I listed some practical ways to focus on being the person God created us to be and enjoy Him and His blessings. I also asked the question: Is there such a thing as balance?
This question haunts us as we seek to live our lives for God and reflect His priorities every day. No matter how well we plan, schedule, and build margins in our life – life throws us a curve. It will always be spontaneous, sporadic, and chaotic.
In the book The Power of Full Engagement, Authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz give some principals that offer us insight to this issue. Their primary thesis is that managing energy, not time, is the key to high performance. They also expound two other thoughts:
1. Because energy capacity diminishes with both overuse and underuse, we must learn to balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal.
2. To build capacity, we must push beyond our normal limits, training in the same systematic way that athletes do.
This makes sense to me both physically and spiritually.
We all know that if we eat right, exercise, get needed rest, and cultivate our time with the Lord; we are much better ministers and workers. Remember: we are all in ministry. We also know life and relationships are messy. God says in His word innumerable times: do not fear, don’t be anxious, be strong and courageous. He also says: be still, abide, have faith. As God dealt with Israel and as Jesus dealt with his disciples the Godhead put them in situations to cause their faith to grow. Afterward there were times of peace and reflection.
Think of ourselves as elite athletes in God’s kingdom. We are Navy Seals, Army Rangers, and Marines in His Army. Our training is to enable us to grow in our faith and to be conformed to His image. He will push us beyond our normal limits for us to see how strong He is and to participate in His victory and glory. Doesn’t that fire you up?
It gives a whole new perspective on our trials, our suffering, even our failures. Grab Jesus’ hand, our brother’s hand, and get up-finish the race, win the battle. Be as prepared as we can mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually to take on life. We all have a strategic role to play as we engage the enemy for God’s glory. And what can God do with a life committed to Him? Only God Himself knows, but immeasurably beyond all we could ask or imagine.
Please pray for the follow up from our Ron Andrews’ banquet. His talk has created a “buzz” around our city. Catch it on our website under podcasts or order the CD. Also please pray for our Sporting Clays and Golf Tournament fundraisers October 12th and November 5th.
I am grateful for your encouragement, prayers and support. Let’s pray, work and help each other finish strong.
II Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;
I Corinthians 9:27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.by Phil Reddick