On My Mind and Heart: 3 Things I Do Before Breakfast

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Routines are important to me.  If I can get into a routine of doing something at the same time, in the same way, every day, the chances of me continuing to do it are much greater than if I leave it to chance.  You are likely the same way.  Today when I was thinking about what to write this week, I thought I would share some of my daily routine.  Here are 3 things I do before breakfast everyday.  I’ve been doing them for a long time and I can’t hardly remember not doing them.

One: I Pray for Carrie (My Wife)

I pray for Carrie every day.  I pray that she would be blessed.  I pray that she would be protected.  I pray that I would be a good husband for her.  Men – praying for your wife is one of THE most important things you can do for your wife and marriage.  Only you can give your wife a husbandly blessing.  So, if you don’t do it, then it’s lost forever.  It doesn’t have to be fancy or long, but it absolutely should happen – every day.

Two: I Read the Bible

Most days I read at least one chapter from Proverbs (there are 31 chapters so I read whatever chapter number corresponds to the day of the month) and then something from the Old Testament and something from the New Testament.  There are some days that I wake up later than I wish or have something else going on so on those days I at least read at least one passage (or even just one verse).  When you read the Bible it is hearing directly from the Lord.  For me, it helps me get my mind “straight” before I start a day full of meetings, emails and conversations.

Three: I Read Something Else

There’s an old saying that goes something like this:  “There is no difference between the man who can’t read and the man who doesn’t read.”  It is so important to read something every day.  I know it’s a lot easier in our culture to just watch t.v. or listen to the radio, but actually reading results in things that watching or listening will not.  When we read, we are choosing what goes into our minds instead of having it chosen for us.  When we read, we comprehend differently and deeper.  Reading causes us to think much more about the topic we are reading about than if we just listen to someone else talk about it.  I read different things: magazine articles, blog posts, the newspaper and, of course, a variety of books (see my Reading List here).  Reading gets my mind “warmed up” for the day and thinking about things I would probably not think about if I just drank my coffee and headed out the door.

Those are a few of things in my daily routine.  Maybe you will choose to incorporate some of them into your daily routine too.  I’d love to hear about your daily routine, so post a comment and share what gets you off to a great start in the morning.

Opposition – Why and What to do with it.

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A crisis hits us.  Someone treats us unfairly.  Sickness abounds.  We face troubles with our finances, our jobs, our relationships.  Opposition is no stranger to anyone, including Christians.  In my 9/15/2013 message, we look at Acts 4 and learn about the 3 major types of opposition that we face and how, with God’s help, we can persevere through the trials.

Note:  these are my sermon notes.  You can listen to the message on the Adventure website.

“Come as you are and become who God wants you to be.” — That’s our vision for Adventure Church.  It’s who God has called us to be.  When we read it / say it, it seems like it should be so easy — just come and let God help you become who He wants you to be.  But the reality is that it isn’t very easy at all at times.  Opposition abounds in becoming who God wants you to be.

It shouldn’t surprise us.  In 1 Peter 4:2, the apostle Peter reminded the church of such by writing: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.”  Trials happen.  They happen to everyone.  So when they do, we shouldn’t be surprised.  Being a Christian isn’t a ticket to Easy Street.  It was never meant to be that.

But remember:  “Opposition is really a growth opportunity!”  God uses tough times in our lives to grow us spiritually.  It’s like running a marathon; at some point you will hit a wall.  It’s then that you have 2 choices:  you can give up and go home OR you can persevere and get through the tough time.  When we choose the latter, we learn from it.  Our faith grows.  Our belief grows.  Our experience grows.  That’s the way to spiritual maturity:  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Peter & John Face Opposition

At the beginning of Acts 4, we see Peter and John, fresh off of the healing of a crippled beggar, speaking to the crowd.  Hundreds of people, if not more, had rushed to see what was happening.  We see that the religious leaders and the temple guards also came and were disturbed by what Peter and John were teaching – in particular, that they were teaching about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.  This was the beginning of the opposition they would face in 3 ways.

Opposition from Circumstances

Acts 4:3 – “They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day.”  This had to be a little unnerving to say the least.  Just a couple of months ago, Peter and John had witnessed Jesus arrested in the evening.  The next day he was crucified.  Now Peter and John were in a tough circumstance.  It could easily have challenged their faith and particularly their “becoming who God wanted them to be” which was to “be [His] witnesses in Jerusalem, ….”

At times, your circumstances can be an opposition to becoming who God wants you to be.  Maybe it’s a problem with your job.  Maybe it’s an illness.  Maybe there’s been a death.  Maybe you have a relationship problem, even a divorce pending.  There are all sorts of circumstances that can make us feel alone, forgotten by God, ignored by Him, or, worse, even that He is punishing us or that He hates us.  None of that is true.  Those are lies.  But circumstances can work in such a way as to make us believe lies.

Opposition from Others

Acts 4:7 – “They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: ‘By what power or what name did you do this?’”

People will question your faith at times.  They will doubt whether you’ve really changed.  They may even diminish or ridicule what you believe.  Relationships may change.  Some won’t want to be around you any longer.  It’s not easy to become who God wants you to be when you feel like so many are against you.  It can cause you to doubt or cause you to want to give up.

Opposition from You

Maybe the greatest opposition we face in becoming who God wants us to be is ourselves.  We have issues with pride and anger.  We harbor grudges and refuse to forgive.  We have secret sins that we hold on to.  We fail to accept the forgiveness and grace God offers for our past and continue to be weighed down by guilt and shame.  We are lazy.  We make unwise choices.  All of those things interfere with our spiritual growth.

What should you do when opposition comes?

Rely on God’s Power

Acts 4:8 – “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: ‘Rulers and elders of the people!”

Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit.  He knew that to be true.  If you are a Christian, you also are filled with the Holy Spirit.  God can help us overcome opposition.  He is stronger and bigger than any trial we are facing.  The first step to persevering is asking Him for help.  Rely on His power.

Remember What Is True

In the next part of Acts, we see Peter stand up for what he knew to be true — “Salvation is found in no one else” but Jesus, Peter says.  When we wish to overcome opposition, we need to remember what is true about God and His promises to us.  The devil wants us to believe lies like God has abandoned us and is mad at us.  The truth in the Word tells us that God loves us with an everlasting love, that He is always present, that He desires us to have life to the full, that He gives us a peace that is beyond understanding (and not like the world gives), that He desires for us to have understanding, that He chooses to forget our sins, and so much more.  We need to hold on to those truths in times of trial and suffering.

Resist the Temptation to Compromise

Next the religious leaders admonish Peter and John and tell them to “speak no longer to anyone in” the name of Jesus.  Note that they were going to allow them to continue to teach, not just in the name of Jesus.  They could heal, but not in the name of Jesus.  They didn’t kick them out of town, they just didn’t want them to mention Jesus any longer.

But Peter refused to compromise.  In Acts 4:19-20, he responds with: “‘Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.  For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.’”

It’s much easier to compromise than to stand firm in what we know to be true.  It’s easier to just do good, but not mention the name of Jesus.  It’s easier to just attribute the change in our hearts and our lives to “living right” and “making good choices.”  That’s what our society wants us to say.  That’s what Oprah and Dr. Phil want us to believe as well — that we somehow can engineer these great personal changes in our lives.  But that’s compromising.  If you really want to persevere through opposition that will stall your spiritual growth, you can’t compromise the truth.

Refuel

Finally, to get through trials.  To overcome opposition.  You have to refuel.  That’s what Peter and John did.  After they were released, “Peter and John went back to their own people …” (Acts 4:23).  How awesome is that!  They went back to their people.  Together they praised God for protecting them and prayed.  The Bible says they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God boldly.  (Acts 4:24).

Opposition is tough.  Trials, even small ones over time, take a toll on you.  You have to get back to your people — and that means your Christian fellowship!  That’s a big part of what church is for — we are each other’s people.  We are support for each other.  We can pray for each other.  We can refuel!

Conclusion

Opposition is really a growth opportunity!  At the time it’s happening it’s not much fun.  But overcoming the trials and the suffering lead us to spiritual maturity.

What is a Spiritual Discipline, Anyway?

This is the second article in my series on spiritual disciplines titled “Why Men Need  Discipline.”  You can see the first article here: What is Discipline?” 

In today’s post, What is a Spiritual Discipline, Anyway?, we will discuss various forms of spiritual disciplines.

Spiritual Disciplines: A Definition

A spiritual discipline is something we either do or refrain from doing, repeatedly over time, so as to become trained in the habits of seeing God, hearing God, obeying God and doing God’s will.

As we engage in spiritual disciplines regularly, over time God uses them to change our hearts and our minds.  We become transformed into someone who more closely reflects Jesus Christ in our mood, our speech, our attitudes, and our decisions.  We become less focused on ourselves and on the things of the world, and more focused on God and His desires for our lives.

Some Examples of Spiritual Disciplines

A few examples of spiritual disciplines include:

Prayer – communication with God.  Allowing Him to speak to us and our bringing to Him praises, thankfulness, confession, adoration, worries, fears, troubles, anxieties and much more.  We also should pray for others and for the church.

Bible reading – just reading the Bible with no purpose other than to hear from God.  The Bible is God speaking to us.

Bible study – going deeper into the meaning of God’s Word.  Study is different from just reading.  I read the newspaper but I don’t study it.  When we study God’s Word, alone or in a group, we should use a variety of means to get the most out of what the Word has for us to learn.

Worship – this is not just an event on the weekend, but a way of living.  At times, we worship together corporately, but most of our worship should be in the form of our daily lives as we give up what may be important to us in exchange for what is most important to God.

Christian Fellowship – spending time with other Christians.  Doing life together.

Giving – returning a portion of what we have been given to God by making regular offerings to our churches, to missionaries and to others in need.

Service – putting our gifts, talents and passions to work in practical ways to help the church with its mission and to help our communities, particularly those who have need.

Meditation and silence – getting away from the busyness and hustle of the daily grind, freeing our minds to think about what God is saying to us.  Being in silence allows that to happen more freely.

Rest and Sleep – getting enough rest and sleep so that we are not physically exhausted.  This allows us to be our best for Him, for our families, and for all of the work that God has for us to do.

Health – taking care of our bodies so that we can be most useful to God and others and also so we will be good examples of discipline to others.

Evangelism – inviting people to learn about Jesus.  Inviting people to church and to our homes and other small group events.

Reactions – learning to react in Godly ways to all situations.  Controlling our tempers.  Not allowing fear to dominate our lives.  Staying confident and positive, even in times of great distress.

Choices – learning to make wise choices that are based on scripture and not on selfish desires.  Choosing rightly regarding who we spend time with, what we spend money on, where we go and don’t go, etc.

Again, these are just some of the things that could be considered “spiritual disciplines,” but it’s a good list to use to start!

The Bottom Line is Relationship Building

The bottom line is still relationship building!  God uses our effort in becoming disciplined in areas that matter, allowing Him to train us to be righteous, in order to draw us closer to Him and to increase our desire to connect with others more closely and in more holy ways.

What’s Next …

Some reasons why men specifically need to develop spiritual discipline is the topic of my next post. . . .