Monday, May 25, 2015

Are You a Stud or a Dud?

By Allen White

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

Most men would prefer to be a stud than a dud. But, not all of us are genetically predisposed to stud-hood. Sigh.

Several years ago in a men’s group, one of the guys told us that he developed a great sense of awe for God from an anatomy and physiology class. (In California, the natural follow-up question is: “What were you smokin’?” In South Carolina, we would just say, “Bless your heart.”). He explained about the intricacies of movement and function that allow our bodies to work. Any evolutionary process that might have developed the human body certainly would have been a miracle.

Eugene Peterson puts it this way in The Message:
“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
   you formed me in my mother's womb.
   I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
      Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
      I worship in adoration—what a creation!
   You know me inside and out,
      you know every bone in my body;
   You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
      how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
   Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
      all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
   The days of my life all prepared
      before I'd even lived one day.” Psalm 139:13-16

Take a moment right now and praise God for the fact that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. What are three more things that you can thank God for about your body? Are you breathing? Start there.

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

You're Body is God's Temple, Not a Megachurch

By Allen White

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)

My friend, Lance Witt, posted on twitter, “Your body is God’s temple, not His mega-church.” Ouch! I have certainly allowed for more “capacity” than the Spirit needs.

Before we start down the laundry list of what we shouldn’t smoke or drink or chew, we can find two greater principles in this passage. First of all, “You are not your own; you were bought with a price.” Believers do not belong to themselves. We belong to God. We cannot do whatever we want to do with our bodies without consequences. In fact, the Bible tells us, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires” Romans 6:12 (NIV).

The second principle is that we are to honor God with our bodies. Paul goes on in Romans 6:13 to say, “Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness” (NIV).

Are you honoring or dishonoring God with your body? What things do you need to start doing to honor God with your body? What things do you need to stop doing? What accountability do you need to change?

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Money is a Tool

By Allen White

Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home. Luke 16:9 (NLT)

This is an unusual verse. Is Jesus instructing us to buy friends? Doesn’t He remember the parable of the Prodigal Son? After the prodigal’s money ran out, all of his friends left (Luke 15:11-32).

What does money mean to God? Money is a tool. Money doesn’t meet our needs. God meets our needs. God provides abilities, skills and opportunities, but He also blesses us in ways that we certainly don’t expect or deserve. Money is not the provider.

Jesus is instructing us to use our money to help other people. Rather than allowing money to win over our trust and possess us, Jesus says we should use money to help other people. One insight here: Jesus wants us to use our actual money in the bank, not our credit cards. The Bible instructs us in many places about the slavery of debt (Proverbs 22:7).

Generosity is the antidote to selfishness. Blessing others by helping those in need or celebrating someone we love puts our money on deposit in our “eternal home.” When a person dies, someone typically asks, “How much did he leave behind?” The reality is the deceased person left it all behind.

How can you bless someone else in a tangible way today? Take a friend to lunch. Pay for the lunch of the stranger behind you in the drive-thru. Buy a bag of groceries and put it on the doorstep of someone who just lost their job. How can you convert your money into eternal currency today?

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Divided and Conquered

By Allen White

They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47 (NLT)

The early church met together a lot. They met at the temple every day. They met in homes. They shared meals together. Didn’t they have jobs? We know that they didn’t have cable TV or the internet. It seems like a lot of meetings. These weren’t formal meetings. They just hung out together. They did life together.

Look at the results of their getting together. They experienced great joy and generosity. They had “favor” with all of the people, and their fellowship grew every day.

Some of the most dynamic times of my life have been spent in close contact with other believers (outside of my office hours). There is something special about being with the people of God. What’s common between us resonates deep in our souls. It’s Christ Himself.
We have an enemy who wants to divide us up, cause us to doubt our faith, and heap condemnation on us. Jesus stated the devil’s job description: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” John 10:10 (NIV) and “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV). Being up against a challenger like that, we need our brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage and support us often.

What other believers do you regularly spend time with? You may not get together every day. Do you talk with them weekly? Monthly? If you don’t have other believers in your life, connect with a small group or invite someone to be your prayer partner. Who just came to mind? Ask them today.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

My Last Four Cars Have Been Free

By Allen White

And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had.  They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. Acts 2:44-45 (NLT)

My car died a while back. The mechanic called to say, “It would be better if you could stop by. I really can’t explain this over the phone.” I really wasn’t expecting any good news. The short of it was that the engine had beaten itself to death.

This wasn’t very good timing. My wife and I have been working hard for months now to get out of debt. Buying a new engine really didn’t fit in this plan. We’ve been following Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace teaching and knew that if we didn’t have the cash, we couldn’t do it. No more credit spending, even for necessary transportation.

There was one more source of funds I had yet to tap. If I could withdraw the funds, then I could buy the engine. It didn’t work out. I sat here at my desk and said, “God, I can’t make this work. I need your help.”

About an hour later, another believer who had loaned me a car told me, “You can keep that car if you need it.” Wow, I didn’t need to turn to the credit card “god.” The God of the universe provided through His Church and met my need.

What needs do you see today? How can God use you? What needs do you have today? How can He provide?

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Monday, May 18, 2015

When are You in Awe?

By Allen White

A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. Acts 2:43 (NLT)
When have you experienced a deep sense of awe?

I have experienced awe in God’s creation. Whether I was climbing to the top of Yosemite Falls, driving the California coast, or hiking the trails at Jones Gap, I get this strong sense that I am a very small part of something grand. I also experienced this listening to cellist Yo Yo Ma at the Peace Center playing a solo as an encore. The place was still except for the sounds coming from those four simple strings in the hands of a master.

There have been times of worship, when the cares of this world have finally evaporated away, and it seemed like there was nothing between me and God. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to get there. God is more than willing to meet me there, but I have to flee from the noise and the hurry of my life to meet Him.

Notice in this verse that the early church experienced awe, then they experienced miraculous signs and wonders. The church wasn’t enamored by the bells and whistles of their faith. They were enamored with God Himself. They were in awe.

As you go about your day today, pause just to remember that the Master and Creator of the Universe is right there with you. May your day be filled with a sense of awe.

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

It's Not What You Say You're Devoted to

By Allen White

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. Acts 2:42 (NLT)

“Devote” seems like a somewhat outdated word. In the musical Grease, Olivia Newton John sang “hopelessly devoted to you.” Maybe the word is a relic of the 1950’s? Maybe we are so busy and preoccupied today that we don’ t have the energy to “devote” ourselves anymore. Maybe everything seems so unreliable these days that we’d rather be tentative than devoted. It just seems safe that way.
The dictionary defines “devote” as “to give up or appropriate to or concentrate on a particular pursuit, occupation, purpose, cause, etc.: to devote one's time to reading.”[1] I’ve mentioned other places that balanced really has to do with focus. To concentrate on one thing is perhaps to give up something else.

How do we make sure that our spiritual life is on track? Now, I didn’t say perfectly in order. I don’t think that happens in this life. The early church devoted themselves to four things that helped them grow: God’s Word, fellowship, sharing meals and prayer.

For some to mention food and fellowship separately may seem a little confusing. Where I grew up, fellowship equaled “pot luck.” Christian fellowship or koinonia carries with it the idea of coming together in love, faith, and encouragement (Philippians 2:1-2).

What do you devote yourself to? How would you rate yourself in terms of connecting with other believers, studying the Word together, sharing meals together and praying?

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