Yesterday at Driven, we talked about having "Tear the roof off faith" from Luke 5:17-26. I encourage you to give it a listen if you were with us yesterday. With that as the starting point I wanted to give you 5 practical ways to tear the roof off today.
1) Pray for sensitivity
No, I'm not talking about being overly emotional. I'm talking about starting your day asking God to make your heart soft and your soul sensitive to the the Holy Spirit and what God is doing around you. God is going before us all the time, creating soft hearts and receptive spirits in those around us, to provide us opportunities to be His hands, His feet, and His voice. God make us aware.
2) Believe God is able and desires to save
If there are people in my life I truly believe God wants to save, and I've experienced the love and grace of Jesus myself, what is stopping me from sharing God with them? The only excuses we can make are self-centered ones. If Jesus is really the best thing that could happen to them, there is zero reason for me to keep to myself the greatest gift anyone can receive, especially since its free! If I believe God wants to save people and I believe that Jesus has done enough to secure their salvation, the only thing hindering salvation around me, is me. Believe that God wants to save people. Believe that God can save people. And act accordingly.
3) Get intentional with your schedule
It's true we can't put God's movement on a clock or calendar. However we can intentionally schedule opportunities with other people to invest in them and get to know them. It's through that intentional time we spend with others that God will start to present those opportunities for us to break down the walls between someone and Jesus. That's as simple as having lunch with your coworkers instead of eating at your desk, inviting your neighbors over for a cookout, offering to help someone you know with a project, or being intentional about creating connections with those parents who's kids play on the same team as yours. There are opportunities everywhere, be intentional!
4) Be bold and go beyond
Relationships grow and you give the Holy Spirit more room to operate, when you go beyond the normal pleasantries. Did you see the game last night? How are you doing today? Those are great conversation starters, but if we are never bold enough to go beyond that, to be vulnerable with other people, to go a layer deeper, we don't invite the conversations that lend themselves to Jesus. When I get beyond the weather and the game last night it's easy for me to introduce Jesus into the conversation. You don't have to get weird, it's as simple as telling someone what Jesus has been doing in your life. But it does require that you be bold enough to cross that line.
5) Leave the results to God
Do your part. Pray for sensitivity. Believe God can save and that He wants to. Be intentional and bold. Then leave the rest up to God. Your job is to be the hands, feet, and voice of Jesus. From there, it's between them and God. If you are pointing them toward Jesus, you've done your job. Salvation belongs to God (Revelation 7:10). Don't be discouraged if every conversation you have doesn't lead to a conversion. God may be using your faithfulness as another step toward their salvation, let that be enough.
Go show people Jesus today. Don't let anything stop you. Tear the roof off if necessary.
Hey church! Lots of excitement coming up over the next several weeks leading up to Christmas. I wanted to tell you about a few opportunities in our church and in our community to make a difference. Also I wanted catch you up on our holiday schedule details and then make you aware of those opportunities.
Upcoming Driven Schedule:
We have two weeks left in our current series #relationshipgoals!
December 11th: This week I'll be speaking to wives about their husbands.
December 18th: Next week I'll be joined on stage by my beautiful wife! We will be answering your relationship questions both marriage and dating. Email those questions to firstname.lastname@example.org All emails will be anonymous.
December 24th: Our Christmas Eve service will be Saturday, December 24th at 4 pm. it's going to awesome! Don't miss it! *There will be no kid's ministry on December 24th, everyone will be in the main service.
January 1st: On Sunday January 1st we will begin a new series at regular time 10 am.
There are two different opportunities to help those in need this year. Carol Miles is helping coordinate the distribution of care packages to the homeless downtown. Sara Smith is coordinating a can food drive that will be donated to the Central and Eastern NC Food Bank. Here are the details for both:
Care Packages for the homeless:
Items needed are: Gum, Toothbrushes, Toothpaste, candy, dried fruit, apple sauce, deodorant, granola bars, hats, socks, gloves, small packs of crackers, chapstick, hand warmers, scarves, small bags of nuts, raisins, any other small items that will fit in a large Ziploc bag.
Please bring in these items the next two Sundays (11th and 18th). If you would like to help hand these items out, that will happen on Thursday, here's a note from Carol:
We will deliver them at 11:30 on Thursday December 22nd.
We will leave Department of revenue with the care packages about 11:20.
Address for soup kitchen is: 121 Hillsboro street
If someone could help us transport the packages from revenue, that would be great.
Revenue address is 501N Wilmington street. We will be making up the packages on Wednesday the 21st at Revenue."
If you have questions please contact Carol at: email@example.com
Below is the list of the food items we are requesting.
The boxes will be delivered to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina on Monday, December 19th.
Below you will find some of the most needed items. Please remember, NO GLASS and CHECK FOR EXPIRATION DATES!!!
•Canned Fruits, Vegetables, Meat, and Soup (Pop-top cans and low sodium a plus!)
•Whole Grain Pasta, Brown Rice, Dried Beans, and Cereal
•For Infants: Formula, Infant Cereal, Diapers, and Wipes (Please - No loose glass and plastic jars of baby food)
•For Kids: Fruit Cups, Juice Boxes, Granola Bars, Crackers, Popcorn and Sugar-Free Pudding Cups
•Non-Food Essentials: Hygiene Items, Household Items, and Paper Products
If you have further questions please Contact Sara Smith at: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a continuation of the previous blog post. Let’s look at how God shaping us to fit together in marriage affects dating and marriage.
1) If you are dating, it means that looking for the perfect person is a fool’s errand. Find someone who loves God passionately. Find someone with whom you have chemistry yes, but even more, someone who’s character and faith you find attractive. There is no “one” while you are dating. That decision is very important and you should be sure before you enter into marriage, but they are not your savior. They will not complete you. That is Jesus’ role.
2) If you are married, you are married to your “one”. In God’s eyes, when you were married you became one. You are no longer two. You are one. That means you are married to your one. If you and your spouse consistently submitting to God personally and you are both submitting to God in your marriage, he will begin to shape you into full compliments of each other. It’s a beautiful thing when two people follow Jesus passionately and commit to one another fully as God shapes and changes them to fit together perfectly. However, those are changes only God can make and the process can seem slow. You cannot speed up the process of your spouse more fully submitting to God. When you try to do God’s work by changing your spouse you only inhibit their ability to hear from God and be transformed by Him. There are many spouses today whom God is trying to whisper to, who can’t hear his whisper because of the shouts of their significant other.
Is he “the one”? Do you think she is “the one”? Such a common refrain in dating relationships. It reminds me of the Matrix movies that debuted in 1999. There was only one person in the entire world who could save humanity, and it was Neo. No other person could possibly do what he was capable of and so an entire group of people made it their life's mission to find the one and train him. We approach our dating lives and ponder marriage based on the question, are they the one? Believing much like that group of people from the Matrix, that there is only one person in the entire universe for us. Obviously, God made someone especially for me to marry and only that person can fulfill me, make me whole, and happy.
We tend to think of ourselves as some complex puzzle piece. Much more unique and complicated than the pieces you would find in a puzzle. There is only one other piece walking on this earth that would fit perfectly with us and complete our puzzle. Until we find that one perfect fit, the one person who makes us whole, our puzzle will never be complete.
That is rubbish. Completely untrue. It's one of the reason that divorce rates are so high. We believe in "the one". If our current spouse doesn't feel like "the one" then we obviously married the wrong person and need to start over. Here’s the problem with “the one” theory. If one person marries the wrong person, someone who isn’t their “one”, it would cause this chain reaction of mismatched persons. That can't be what God had in mind. What is God’s design then, if He did not make us specifically for that one soulmate we spend our dating lives looking for?
If you are looking for “the one”, I’ve got great news for you. He’s already done everything necessary for you to enjoy full, intimate relationship with Him. Things you could never do, paths you could never walk, bridges you could never cross, all so He can be with you and you with Him. He’ll never reject you nor will He forsake you. He’ll never let you down and He’ll always be there for you. When you are at your worst, when you are at the end of your rope, when you feel the most unwanted and unlovable, He chooses you. He says that one, you, is special. That you are the worth giving up his life. There is only one “the one” in this entire universe and throughout all of human history. His name is Jesus.
As I mentioned this week (Week 1 or #Relationship Goals), we are made complete in Christ (Col 2:10). Another person doesn’t complete us, our relationship with God does. With that in mind we are not some complex puzzle piece. We are less detailed than that, more malleable. God is more sculptor than matchmaker. God says that two become one. Here is the way that happens. As we follow God more closely we begin to reflect Him more fully. When we commit to one another in marriage and honor God with our marriage, he begins to shape and sculpt us. Like a carver working on a large block of wood or a sculptor with a fresh piece of stone God makes two pieces that were once distinct into a cohesive single unit. As God shapes us together inside marriage, we begin to take the shapes that perfectly complement one another. Two parts that were once distinct are now one whole and inseparable in God's eyes. That shaping only happens through voluntary submission to God. Tomorrow I’ll talk about how that affects our dating process, but also how we screw up God’s plan by trying to change the “shape” of our spouse once we are married.
We are in a series called #RelationshipGoals. Sunday, we took a look at being a visionary when you date. Using God’s design for marriage to reverse engineer your dating life. This week on the blog I want to give you a few more things to consider as you date.
The first is this: Where is it leading?
If you are currently in a relationship, one of the questions you need to ask yourself early and often as a follower of Jesus, is where is this relationship taking me? When we are together, am I led closer to God or further from Him by temptation? As you consider that question, it will start to reveal the motives of your own heart. Are you infatuated with their character or are they just really cute in a pair of jeans? Godly dating means that as you grow closer together, you should naturally be growing closer to God as well. It’s good for us to be attracted to the person we are dating, but where that attraction is leading us starts to reveal the substance of our relationship.
If I want to visit the beach from Raleigh, NC it’s only two hours away. All I have to do is hop on I-40 and head east. I’ll be in Wilmington in no time, it’s about 130 miles and all interstate. Where I’m heading eventually leads to the destination I have chosen. If I hop on I-40 and head west, it is also possible I could arrive at the beach. After all, the US is bordered by the ocean on the west as well. It’s about 2700 miles to the west coast via I-40. The odds are much higher that I will lose interest, motivation, or money and not end up at my preferred destination. The same thing is true if I head north or south. I know if I want to get to the beach, I need to head east, because that leads me to the ocean. The same thing is true of your dating relationship. You know where it is leading. If you take a step back from the excitement and emotions of being infatuated, you’ll realize you can determine the direction of your relationship and the most likely destination. Even if I drive several hours west (even if you start dating the wrong person, leading you to the wrong place), if I turn around, it’ll still much shorter to my desired destination.
It’s hard to be completely honest with ourselves, when we are caught in the feelings and emotions of new love. There are few things in the human experience that are as intoxicating. However, considering this question with a sober mind and considering some wise counsel (i.e. someone who has successfully navigated the dating waters) are extremely important. If you want to be a visionary dater, you need to know where you want to go and whether the person you are with is driving you towards God or further from Him.
We all go through seasons of discouragement. Those times when we feel like we are not good enough, smart enough, strong enough, or spiritual enough. When you feel like you can’t do anything right and God doesn’t have anything good planned for you, I have a solution for you but it will sound counterintuitive. God’s economy is often counterintuitive.
We think for us to be able to give, we need to get. It’s that way with our resources, our time, you name it. It’s difficult to encourage when you are discouraged, because our natural tendency is to focus on our own scarcity, need or inability which only increases our discouragement. It’s the downward spiral that we too often fall prey to. As we begin to dwell on what is causing to lose hope, it gives that circumstance more and more power over us.
But God’s economy says that when you give, is when you receive the most. If we’ll fix our eyes on Jesus and dwell on the hope He provides, it creates inside us the ability to see beyond our own needs. That’s when we can start actively seeking out opportunities to encourage others. We don’t have to wait for our tank to be filled to encourage others. Our tank will be filled as we encourage others. You know it’s true, because the greatest encouragers you know are usually the most encouraged themselves. The next time you are feeling discouraged look for the good and honorable in others and speak to that and see if it doesn’t raise both of you to a higher place.
Acts 20:34-35You yourselves know that these hands of mine have ministered to my own needs and those of my companions. In everything, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus Himself: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'
It’s thanksgiving week! The rush of the Holidays is right around the corner. You’ll blink, Thanksgiving will be over and all of the sudden your calendar will be full with Holiday events. Christmas will be barreling toward you and time will be slipping away as you try to get everything done. Decorations need to go up, shopping needs to get done, the financial strains and time commitments are enough to make even the best of us feel frazzled. I’m getting stressed out just typing that. If you want to free your heart in this season of stress that’s coming, I have a solution for you. If you want to expand the joy you feel, find ways to communicate thankfulness to those who have made a difference in your life. Have an attitude of gratitude.
There are so many ways you can do this. Make a phone call, send a text, write an email, but there are two ways that are more effective than any other. The first is face to face. Buy someone a coffee or lunch and just tell them. But the second is the one I really want to encourage you to do. Get out pen and paper and hand write them a letter. Now let me set the standard here for what I’m talking about. I’m not talking about thank you notes from your wedding. I’m not talking thank you’s given to people out of obligation. I’m talking about real thought out gratitude. I’m talking about when someone has a real impact on your life and you express that to them. Start on your computer. Write the letter, edit it, get it just right, pray over it, put effort into it. Finally get your pen and write the letter, hand deliver it or send it in the mail. We are all grateful to people in our lives, but how often do we actually express it? And unexpressed gratitude is not gratitude at all, it’s just a missed opportunity. Gratitude is never unexpressed. Unexpressed gratitude turns joy into a funeral.
Gratitude is a joy multiplier. Gratitude produces joy in the hearts of others but also in your own heart as you practice the character of God.
If you train yourself to have an “attitude of gratitude” it won’t change your circumstances, but it sure will change your perspective.
When I was kid (and even now as an adult) one of the simple things my dad did that amazed me was "stepping off" distances. While spending countless hours with me honing my skills in certain sports, particularly baseball, we would need a distance measured (e.g. pitcher's mound to home plate, between bases, etc). Dad would just start walking and counting. It amazed me as a kid and still shocks me how accurate he is as an adult when we set up the cornhole boards for a friendly game when I’m with my family. How did he do that? He had oodles of experience. He measured the distance to the free throw line, the pitcher’s mound, from his location to his target area during hunting, or any other number of instances. The quantity of judgements isn't what made him accurate however. It’s that he consistently tested his accuracy by comparing his estimations to the standard. After he had checked himself enough times to measure with confidence he was freed to make those determinations quickly. That’s the way our quiet time with God accumulated years of investment equips us to make quick, sound, Godly decisions.
So here's the question for you and me, how often do you compare your decisions to the standard? Do you review the interactions in your life and compare them to biblical principles? Scripture is your standard as a follower of Jesus. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:16, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness," in Proverbs 16:20, "Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD." in Proverbs 4:13, “Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.", in Thessalonians 4:8, "Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit."
When you buy a complicated item that needs assembly, it’s much easier and more likely to be right if you assemble it by the instruction manual, and our life is no different. When we know God’s word, it frees us to walk more confidently knowing our lives align with His will.
Feeling stuck because it’s Wednesday? When we are stuck we tend to focus on the things that make us stuck. We tend to focus on the job we “have” to do. We focus on the frustration in our household. We focus on the financial shortcomings we are facing. If you want to change the way you look at your day and the way you feel, shift what constitutes success and purpose in your day. If you are a follower of Jesus, the measure of your day is the amount of grace you extend. We want justice (you get what you deserve) for others. Occasionally we are ok with mercy (you don't get what you deserve/avoid punishment). But God demands grace (you get what you don't deserve/receive a gift). Your job today is to, in some small way, extend that grace to someone else. Give someone love they didn't earn or deserve. That's what God did for you. What you’ll find is when you become a grace agent for God, your day will be different. When we engage in God’s mission, loving the people He loves, in the way He loves them it stirs our joy. Today’s your day to extend grace. Hold a door, buy a lunch, visit an old friend, send a hand written note just to tell someone you care, pray for somebody, listen to somebody, cry with somebody. Do it, you won’t regret it.
Ephesians 2:6-76 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Much of my job is crafting what I say. I try to do that for maximum impact so people will understand clearly what I’m trying to convey, because as a preacher of the gospel I believe the message I have is the most important message in the world. The longer I preach the more experience I gain and lessons I learn. One that has helped me in every area of my life whether it be professionally, at home, or in my neighborhood is the importance of the words we choose. I’ve learned this truth: What people hear, depends on the words you choose, not what you intend to say. I know that sounds unclear, but let me explain.
This is true at work, it’s true in our families, our dating relationships, and in general. If my kids are acting irrationally (I know that is a huge stretch because kids never act irrationally) and I want them to consider their behavior thoughtfully I can use a couple of different phrases which mean the same thing but are heard completely differently. A quick example, let’s say I catch one my kids in a lie. I can respond in a couple ways.
a) “You’re lying! Why don’t you ever tell me the truth?”
What I want to say, is please don’t lie to me, I want us to have a relationship built on trust. What my kid hears is dad thinks I’m a liar. I must be a liar. I always screw up.
b) “Sigmons are truth tellers. Are you telling the truth?”
Here they are more likely to hear, I am a Sigmon and therefore, I am a truth teller. I’ve made a bad decision but my dad still believes in me.
Here are a few things I’ve learned that have helped me move from a to b.
1) Breathe. Take a minute before you respond. Especially if you are an emotional person. You know who you are (me slowly raising my hand).
2) Keep the end in mind. Before the words come out, ask yourself, not what you want to say, but what you want your words to ultimately do. Speak to the person you believe them to be and want them to be.
3) Make a difference not a point. You can’t do both. You can be the smartest, snarkiest person in the argument and you can “win”. Or you can be humble and thoughtful and your relationship (with your spouse, kids, coworkers, neighbors, etc) can win. I like winning. But “we” winning is better than “me” winning.
4) Bring Jesus along. This is the biggest one. It’s really hard for me to respond in a hurtful, emotional way, if I’m going to drag Jesus into the conversation. Especially with my kids, I’m trying to do this more and more. Every discipline situation, is an opportunity to talk about Jesus and gospel. If I’m going to talk about God and his grace, how can I act in ways that are completely counter to His.
The key here is to speak to potential. Speak life into the situation. The words you use set the tone for your relationships. You want a more loving marriage? Choose more loving words. I’m not saying avoid conflict, I’m saying navigate it wisely. One ill-timed outburst can wreck months of careful building in your relationships. Your words are important. Choose them wisely.
Proverbs 18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.