From the Cradle to the Grave

This year for my devotions I am reading through the entire Bible and it has brought up several interesting thoughts.  For instance, last week I was reading in Matthew 27, and this morning I was reading in Luke 2.  Why is that significant?  Well, let me show you what I found to be interesting…

Luke 2 contains a very familiar account of the birth of Jesus.  We typically listen to the story retold every year at Christmas time.  Even if it is only while watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and listening to Linus retell this story.  Over the years much of the story has become very familiar to us and one of those parts is Luke 2:7, “and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

On the flip side, Matthew 27 contains another familiar story.  It is a story that we talk about each year at Easter time.  It is the story of Christ’s death on the cross for the sins of the world.  But as I was reading from Matthew 27 there was one sentence that really jumped out at me in light of the story from Luke 2.  That sentence was Matthew 27:59,60a, “Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock…”

Do you see the similarity between those two verses?  Now, I know that I am working with the NIV and not with the original Greek, but the thought that really jumped out at me was the similarity between Jesus’ birth and Jesus’ death.  When He was born, His mother, Mary, wrapped him in cloth and placed him in a manger.  And when He died his friend, Joseph of Arimethea, wrapped him in cloth and placed him in a tomb.

The phrase, “from the cradle to the grave” is an idiom that is meant to speak of life from the time we are born to the time we die.  It has been used in song lyrics and even was a movie title, but it is very fitting when thinking of Jesus’ life.  From the manger to the tomb Jesus’ life was all about one thing.  We are reminded of that in Philippians 2:6-11, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!  Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Jesus came to earth to die for the sins of the world.  He came to earth with that plan in place.  He was born to die.   And even though it was difficult, He followed that plan all the way to his death on the cross.  From the cradle to the grave.  From the manger to the tomb.

But there is one other interesting thing that I find in these two passages.  First of all, when Jesus came into the world, there wasn’t even room for Him in the inn.  So his mom had to lay him in a manger in a stable somewhere.  This was a very non-intimate, non-personal, open, public place for Jesus to be born.  He was out there for everyone to see.  We even know of some shepherds that stopped by to see Him.   Anyone could come by.  Everyone had access.  

On the flip side, after He died, Joseph took His body and placed it in his very own tomb.  This was a very intimate, very personal, very private place for Jesus to be placed.  Joseph opened up his own tomb, the place that was reserved for himself, and gave that place to Jesus. 

That reminds me of us.  Jesus is available for all.  He came to earth for all who would receive Him.  But while He is there for all of us, it is up to us to act like Joseph did and take that very personal place, the place that is typically reserved just for us, our heart and give it to Him.

If you have never done that, then I want to encourage you to do that today.  Realize that Jesus’s entire life on earth, from the cradle to the grave, was given for you.  He died for the sins of the world.  Let’s give Him the place in our hearts that He deserves.

You Strain Out a Gnat, but Swallow A Camel

This morning, this phrase was part of my devotions, “You strain out a gnat, but swallow a camel.”  I love that.  Do you know who said it?  Jesus.  Let me give you a little context.  Jesus was speaking to the crowds and was specifically talking about the religious leaders of the day, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law.  He talked about their hypocrisy and pride and how they do everything so that others can see them.  He talked about how they constantly burdened the people with heavy loads and made it harder for others to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  He specifically called them blind guides.

Consider Matthew 23:23-24, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cummin.  But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness.  You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.  You blind guides!  You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”

Isn’t that great!  Jesus is chastising these leaders for being more interested in the kinds of things that show on the outside than on what is really happening on the inside.  He goes on to liken them to whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but are rotten inside. 

But while this is directed at the religious leaders of the day, it also is a challenge for us to consider ourselves.  What about us?  Are we more concerned with how we appear to those around us than on what is really happening inside?  Are we more concerned with looking perfect than we are with having a right relationship with the Lord?  I love the way that Jesus is able to cut right to the core of who we are and get us to take a hard look at ourselves.  That is what light does.  It shines into the dark recesses of the soul and makes us aware of the things within us that need to change.

But sometimes in order for us to change, we need to be willing to allow our beautiful facade to be stripped away.  We need to be willing to allow others to see the rotten garbage underneath as we start to really deal with the garbage in our lives and start focusing on the camels in our lives instead of the gnats.

I don’t know about you, but I want to stop swallowing camels.  I want to let Christ have His way in my life and help me to deal with the garbage on the inside, even if it means that others might see that I am not perfect. 

Another verse that I was reading in my devotions today came from Matthew 21:44, “He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”  Here Jesus was talking about Himself and our need to be broken before Him.  Coming to Him, in humility and brokenness, admitting our sin and our need for a Savior.  We need to be willing to be broken before the Lord.  And I know that is not easy.  We don’t like to be broken.  We want to pretend that we are perfect.  But you know what?  We aren’t.  This world is full of a bunch of broken people walking around trying to hide their problems.  We are constantly focusing on straining out gnats, so that people think we are perfect, when all the while we are swallowing camels. 

My challenge for all of us today is to stop it!  Stop straining out gnats and swallowing camels.  Stop pretending to be perfect while we are struggling inside.  Stop hiding the sin, pain, doubt and whatever else we are struggling with and deal with it.  Be willing to be broken on the Rock of Jesus Christ!

You Can’t Handle the Truth

This week in my devotions I was reading in the book of Jeremiah.  Now if you have never read Jeremiah, it is not an easy book to read.  It is a bit of a downer.  Jeremiah was a prophet of the Lord and God gave him a lot of bad news to share with the people of Judah.  He prophesied about things like the destruction of Jerusalem, exile, and captivity.  Not very good news.  Even one of the most well-known verses from Jeremiah: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11),  comes as part of a letter to the exiles where Jeremiah is telling them to be patient and get comfortable where they are at, because they are going to remain in exile for 70 years. 

But the people didn’t want to hear what Jeremiah had to say.  He was threatened, put in prison, beaten, and even thrown into a cistern.   One of the passages that really stood out to me comes from Jeremiah 43:1-3a “When Jeremiah finished telling the people all the words of the Lord their God — everything the Lord had sent him to tell them — Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, ‘You are lying!'”

Now obviously one of the lessons we should learn from this passage is the faithfulness of Jeremiah in following the Lord even in spite of such opposition and such a difficult task, but instead I want to remind us of what we also can learn from the other side of the story.

Notice that the people called Jeremiah a liar.  Why?  Simply because they didn’t want to hear the message that he was bringing.  But truth is truth regardless of whether or not we like it.  Sometimes we need to hear tough things.  The truth is not always good news.  Sometimes it is painful and hard. 

There is a movie called “A Few Good Men.”  In that movie Jack Nicholson plays a colonel who is called as a witness in a trial.  He is being questioned by Tom Cruise who plays a JAG lawyer.  At one point in the questioning Cruise says he wants the truth and Nicholson tells him that he doesn’t want the truth and that he can’t handle the truth.

Is that true with us?  Do we say we want the truth, but in reality we really don’t want to hear the truth?  Maybe God has been speaking to you.  Maybe He has been trying to tell you some truth that you don’t want to hear.  My challenge is to be willing to hear the truth regardless of how easy it is to take.  Don’t close yourself off to bad news, or tough criticism, or strong rebuke if it comes from God.  The people of Judah needed to be disciplined.  They needed to learn a lesson.  They had strayed from God and that is why God allowed them to be exiled.  But Jeremiah 29:11 was still true as well.  God did know the plans He had for them and ultimately it was for their good.  And it is the same with us.  God knows what He is doing.  Trust Him and let Him help you to handle the truth.

Open Wide Your Mouth

Today in my devotions I came across Psalm 81:10, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt.  Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.”  That is a beautiful and powerful verse.  When I think of it, I get the picture of a nest of baby birds with their mouths wide open toward the sky waiting for their mother to feed them.  They have their mouths so wide open that you can’t even see their face.  They are hungry and they know that food is coming.  So they are straining with every ounce of muscle they have to be ready to receive that food.

Today I had a conversation with a woman whose husband has been out of work for several months and they are not able to pay for this month’s rent.  She has been trusting God and knowing that He has a plan, but she is tired.  She is ready for this to be over.  She is ready for God to come swooping in and give them what they need.  She is waiting and wondering where God is in the midst of this.

And I don’t blame her.  I understand how she feels.  How do those two pictures go together?  God says “open wide your mouth and I will fill it.”  So what’s the deal?  Is her mouth not wide open enough?  Where is the filling?

Have you ever felt like that?  Have you ever wondered where God is in the midst of what you are going through?  Have you ever wondered what God is doing and when He is going to come along and provide what you are hungry for and in need of?  Those are tough times, are they not?  So how do we wait for feeding time?  How do we hang on for God?

Let’s consider this verse from Psalm 81 a little closer.  Notice that first we see a reminder of who God is.  That God is faithful and more than capable of providing for our every need.  We have seen God at work over and over again and we can know that He is able to care for our needs today just like He did for the Israelites so many years ago.

So the first place we need to start is with trust.  We need to trust God.  He knows our needs and actually knows even better than we do what is best for us.  And He is fully capable of meeting those needs.  He has proved Himself faithful time and again and we can trust in Him.  But I believe the second part of that verse carries this concept to a whole new level.  Opening wide our mouths is an action for us to take.  It is us saying that we know that God is powerful, and faithful, and that He will provide, and us actively putting ourselves in the position for God to pour out whatever we need from Him.

Now along with that goes an understanding that we are vulnerable in that position.  Think of the birds for a moment.  They opened their mouths so wide that they couldn’t possibly see what was coming.  They trusted their mother to not only feed them, but to give them what would be good for them.  The mother bird could put anything into their mouths at that moment and they wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.  Opening our mouths wide in expectation puts us in a position of vulnerability before the Lord.  And I believe that vulnerability is key.

When we are in that position we are saying to God, fill me Lord, I trust in you to give me whatever you choose to give me.  When we get to that position we are abandoning our plans and putting ourselves completely in His hands, trusting that whatever He gives us will be exactly what we need. 

Many times we want God to feed us or help us, but only as long as His plan comes into line with what we want for ourselves.  We want Him to feed us, but we want to choose the menu.  But God wants us in this position we see in Psalm 81:10, with our mouths so far wide open that we are completely trusting Him to give us what we need.

I know some of you out there are hurting and hungry.  I want to invite you to open wide your mouths to the Lord.  Remember His faithfulness and power, and trust Him to give you exactly what you need.  Open wide your mouth to the Lord and let Him fill it.

Noah’s Ark?

You may have heard the reports that  a group, called Noah’s Ark Ministries International, are claiming that they have found Noah’s Ark.  This combined Turkish/Chinese group have stated that they believe with 99.9% accuracy, that they have found the remnants of the ark encased in a glacier on Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey.  They claim to have carbon dated some of the wood at 4,800 years old. 

If you are interested in finding out more about this story, you can check out the news article from the perspective of ABC News at http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/finding-noahs-ark-filmmaker-found-pieces-biblical-treausure/story?id=10495740

I don’t know if what they found is really the ark that we read about in the Bible, or not, but when it comes right down to it, it really doesn’t matter.  Our faith does not rest on what is found or not found by archaeologists, geologists, anthropologists, and other scientists.  Our faith is not based on what we can and can’t prove.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  That doesn’t mean that as Christians we have to turn our brains off, but ultimately our faith is not based on what scientists prove, it is based on God as He reveals Himself to us in His Word.

There are some great scientists out there who are pursuing their fields of study from a Biblical perspective and I greatly appreciate their work.  One of my favorite museums is The Creation Museum, which is located just outside of Cincinatti. A good portion of the museum is dedicated to the great flood and Noah’s ark and how the impact of a worldwide cataclysmic event, like the flood, would have changed the earth’s landscape and could account for the reason scientists claim that the earth is billions of years old.  You can find out more about The Creation Museum at, http://creationmuseum.org/

I enjoy The Creation Museum, I have taken several classes in geology and physical geography, I even had a subscription to Biblical Archaeology for awhile, so I enjoy the intellectual pursuit of answers about how this earth came to be and how we can understand it better.  But ultimately I begin with the Bible and everything else must be interpreted by what I read there.  And what is found or not found by archaeologists over the years is not going to dictate what I believe.  Hebrews 11 goes on to say in verse 3, “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.” 

As we walk through this world and examine the universe around us we need to start with faith.

Tebow or not Tebow, That Is The Question!

So this weekend was the NFL Draft.  I am a Redskins fan and I also root for the Colts and the Vikings (based on where I used to live and where I live now).  So I followed all three of those teams along with some of my favorite college players to see what happened.

If you are unfamliar with the NFL Draft, here is how it works.  Each NFL team gets assigned a draft number based on how they did in the previous season.  The worst teams pick first and the better teams pick later.  Then the draft is divided into rounds and each team, one at a time, selects a player from the college ranks to join their team. 

The teams make their picks based on a number of criteria.  Obviously, they have watched how those players did in their college careers.  They also have an event, called the NFL Combine, each year before the draft where the players get measured and weighed and then perform a number of drills that are meant to measure their speed and strength and other physical factors.  There are also other criteria like IQ tests and personal interviews that go into the mix and eventually each team ranks the players available based on how they have interpreted all those criteria.

Going into the draft the player that caused the most debate was QB Tim Tebow from Florida.  First of all let me just say that I have always liked Tebow.  He is a strong Christian man with excellent character.  There was a phenomenal interview with him in ESPN the magazine back in the fall of 2009, where he basically shared the plan of salvation and they included it in the article.  

The reason there was so much debate about Tebow before the draft was because although he is considered one of the greatest college football players to have ever played the game, some question whether or not he will be able to transfer that success into the NFL.  His detractors question his size, his physical ability, his throwing style, and the offense that he played in during college.

The highlight of the NFL Draft this weekend was the selection of Tim Tebow by the Denver Broncos with the 25th pick of the first round.  Immediately the debate raged on by the announcers who said that he didn’t have what it takes to be a great NFL quarterback.  But the Broncos chose not to focus on his physical qualities, and his throwing motion and instead focused on his leadership ability, his strong work ethic, his character, and his passion and commitment for the game.  And for that reason, they chose him earlier than most experts had him going.

It remains to be seen as to whether Tebow ends up having a great NFL career or not, but this got me thinking about something the Bible tells us about how God looks at man.  In the book of I Samuel, chapter 16, we see that God has told Samuel to go and annoint a new king for Israel.  He sends him to Bethlehem to the home of Jesse.  When Samuel arrives Jesse has his sons parade in front of him one at a time.  The first son comes up and he is a great physical specimen, and Samuel assumes that this is who the Lord wants him to anoint, but God tells Samuel this in verse 7, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

God then leads Samuel to pass on all of Jesse’s sons until he arrives at David, who is the youngest brother and God chooses him to be the king of Israel.  And of course David turns out to be, “a man after God’s own heart” and a great king of Israel. 

I am not saying that the Broncos measured Tebow the way that God measured David, but I do appreciate they way they focused more on his heart and character, than on his physical characteristics.  Maybe if we had more teams focusing on heart and character when drafting players we might have less issues like what we see happening with Ben Roethlisburger, and so many other professional athletes these days.

Passing By

So I am writing this blog while sitting at Dunn Bros. on Chestnut Street (41) in beautiful downtown Chaska, Minnesota.  It is a little more empty than normal for this time of day, and there is a sign on the front door that says that they are now closing at 4 p.m.  The reason given is because of the closure of 41.

For those of you non-locals, just a block or so south of Dunn Bros., heading out of Chaska on 41 there is a bridge that takes you over the Minnesota River.  Unfortunately right now, the road is closed because of water damage on the other side of the bridge due to the flooding that happened a few weeks ago.  That means that many people from Shakopee and other areas on the other side of the river must go either to the west or to the east to find a way across to this side of the river.  It is an incovenience for many people, including at least one man from our church who right now has to take the long way around to come and be with us on Sunday mornings.  Thanks Ed!

But the reason I mention this today is because of the effect that this road closure has on Dunn Bros.  Like I said earlier, it is not as full here as usual and there is a sign on the door that says they are closing at 4.  The reason for this lull in activity is that since 41 is closed, many people who would typically pass by here on their way to or from work, are not passing by, and that hurts business. 

Businessess rely on traffic, because as people pass by, they are enticed to stop and come in and spend money.  With the road closed, Dunn Bros. is missing at least a portion of their regular business simply because people are not passing by.  Instead they must rely on people, like me, who come here as a destination.

So let me use this as a quick analogy for temptation.  James 1:14,15 says, “but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”   As we continue on our journey through life, there are many opportunities for us to fall into sin.  We say that we want to do good and we want to make good choices, but we find ourselves giving way to temptation, being dragged away and enticed. 

So how do we stop that?  Well, what we see happening at Dunn Bros. is a good reminder.  People are taking a different route on their journey and are not passing by anymore, and since they don’t pass by they are obviously not tempted to come in.  Dunn Bros is still here and they could still come in and enjoy a nice cup of coffee, but they would need to make it a destination, not just because they passed by. 

The same is true with our lives.  On our journey through life, we need to intentionally stop passing by temptation.  We think we will be strong enough to resist the temptation when we see it, but why allow ourselves to be tempted when a simple change in our journey can allow us to not even face the temptation as often?  For instance, let’s say internet pornography is a temptation that you find difficult to resist.  If you keep getting on the internet without any safeguards in place then you are going to find yourself passing by areas of temptation that will entice you to fall into sin.  Try steering away from that route.  Stop using the internet without safeguards.  Find ways to take a different route so that you don’t even pass by.  And before you know it, you will find that the sin doesn’t so easily entangle you anymore.

Now before I close this blog, I think it is important for me to say that I don’t mean that Dunn Bros. is a source of sin or temptation.  I just like the analogy of not passing by.  The opposite is true of Dunn Bros.  I think this is a great place and I really want Mike and the Dunn Bros crew to make it through this tough time.  So I encourage you to make Dunn Bros a destination, and not just come in when you pass by.

Flood Stages

flood-stages-13So yesterday my family and I went downtown and parked our van near Dunn Bros.  Then we walked over to the bridge heading out of town and joined the throng of people checking out the river.  The bridge was blocked off to traffic because 41 was flooded heading out of town, and there were hundreds of people taking advantage of the beautiful weather to get a look at the river at flood stage.  It was a lot of fun and we ran into several people from the church and also made some new friends.

The river itself is not expected to crest until Wednesday and appears to be rising at a steady rate thanks to all the snow we enjoyed this winter.  Thanks to the work of the town leaders in building up the dike over the last few years, there does not seem to be any danger of Chaska flooding, but the river is definitely at flood stage and it was interesting to stand on the bridge and watch the strong currents of the river as it stretched over it’s banks submerging fields, forests, walkways, and even the local baseball park. 

Speaking of flooding, the Lord gives us a powerful promise in Malachi 3:10, “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.  Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.'” 

Isn’t that a beautiful picture?  God pouring out such a river of blessing that it overflows the river banks and floods the countryside of our lives.  God is more than capable of meeting our every need and nothing is impossible with Him.  This idea of tithing to the Lord even when we are struggling financially is counterintuitive, but we need to remember that we can never outgive God.  He loves us more than we can imagine and He delights in giving us good gifts.  As we are faithful in giving back to Him from the firstfruits of what He has given to us, He takes care of us in ways that we never could have even imagined.  We need to recognize that we can fully trust in God to take care of us, even when our balance sheet is upside down.  We need to give back to Him first, and trust Him to do what seems impossible.  Then take a walk down to the riverbank and watch His river of blessing flood the countryside of our lives.

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On the Bubble

So this is the week that the NCAA Basketball Tournament starts.  The brackets were unveiled yesterday.  This is one of my favorite times of the year.  I love filling out a bracket and then watching the games as the tournament progresses.  But one of the interesting discussions on Monday is about the teams that were on the bubble heading into the weekend and the debate that ensues about whether the right teams made it into the tournament or not.

For those of you who are not familiar with the term, “on the bubble” let me take a moment and explain it.  The NCAA Tournament only has space for 65 teams.  About 30 of those teams make it in through an automatic bid which goes to the winners of the different conferences.  The other 35 teams are selected as “at large teams” by a committee.  Usually most of those 35 teams had a great season and obviously deserve a spot in the tournament, but the last 4 or 5 spots in the tournament are always up for grabs and could go to about 8 or 10 different teams.  Those 8-10 teams are considered to be “on the bubble” and that means that about half of them will make it and the other half will not.  This year some of the bubble teams that made it were Minnesota, Utah State, and Florida and some of the bubble teams that just missed the cut were Mississippi State, Virginia Tech, and Illinois.

Imagine being one of these “bubble” teams waiting to see if you made it to the tournament or not.  The wait was probably quite excruciating.  But ultimately the teams only had themselves to blame.  Those teams were on the bubble because they didn’t take care of business when they needed to.  Instead of excelling, they were just mediocre.  Minnesota is a great example.  They had a decent season, going 21-13 on the season, but they had some bad losses including losing to Northwestern and Michigan down the stretch.  They ended up having a good run in the Big Ten Championship to get off the bubble and into the tournament, but if they had not had that late rally they probably would have found themselves on the outside looking in.

The “on the bubble” teams wound up there because they were satisfied with mediocrity instead of excellence.  They had some good moments, but they also had too many bad moments that kept them mired in mediocrity.  They could have taken care of business all along and stayed away from the “bubble.”

So why am I blogging about the NCAA Tournament?  The reason is because I believe that we have a tendency to live our lives “on the bubble.”  Instead of excelling, we just kind of slide by.  We don’t put the priority on abiding in Christ that we should and we spend too much time flirting with things that have no business in our lives.  I believe the Lord wants us to get off “the bubble” and excel.  Let me remind us of what we read in Revelation 3:15-16: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

I want to challenge us to not be satisfied with living life “on the bubble.”  Let’s step up and follow the Lord with everything we’ve got!

Authentic Community: Proximity and Purpose

Last night at our Leadership Team Meeting, we started talking about “Authentic Community.”  It was a good conversation.  I thought I would share a little bit about this topic in a post, because it is part of our vision statement and it is an imporant piece of who we are in ministry. 

So what is “Authentic Community?”  We get a picture of what it looks like in Acts 2:42-47.  There we see believers who are truly devoted to one another.  So often a church is simply a bunch of loosely connected individuals.  Authentic community happens when we decide to be committed to one another.

In order to build “Authentic Community” there are 2 things that need to happen.  Proximity and purpose.  First of all, we need “proximity.”  That simply means that we need to spend time together.  Hebrews 10:24,25 reminds us of how important this is, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  Too often we forget how important it is for us to be together.  We don’t make it a priority and we consider ourselves too busy to make time for being together outside of Sunday morning.  Then we wonder why we don’t have stronger relationships.  We need to be in proximity with each other if we are going to develop authentic community.  

Then in addition to proximity, we also need purpose.  Consider Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spritiual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”  God has a purpose for us to be together.  We need to recognize that purpose and develop the level of depth that is going to allow that kind of purpose to happen.  So often we are content to simply talk about things like the weather, sports, work, current events and other similar topics.  We need to go beyond that and start talking about where we see God at work, what He is teaching us in our walk with Him, what we are struggling with in our lives, and even where we have fallen. 

When we commit ourselves to proximity and purpose, then we will begin to have authentic community.  Let’s not be satisfied with anything less!

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