Your Words are Powerful

“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” – Proverbs 31:26 We continue to explore the value and power of words. When you use the right kind of language in organizations, your team’s morale and value stays high! When I went on humanitarian and missionary trips in high school and college, there were always important rules around words. Many Americans and others take comforts for granted, such as air conditioning, an abundance of food, cars, and technology. It’s easy for a westernized American to be disgruntled in a non-developed country when they don’t have access to their everyday conveniences. This is why the rules we had in place for our teams proved valuable! One of the rules was “Not to state the obvious.” If it’s hot outside, don’t say, “It’s hot outside.” If the food doesn’t taste good, don’t say, “The food doesn’t taste good.” If you

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Always for Your Benefit

“But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” – Psalm 73:28 I have learned over the years that God’s solutions are always better! Today, we begin a series on His solutions and we’ll observe the wisdom of His answers. Have you tried to resolve or accomplish tasks, responsibilities or roles in your own way or the world’s way, and then tried God’s way? God’s solutions are always for your benefit, and God’s methods are better than the world’s resolutions. They just take time.  But first, it’s essential that we recognize what the world says about morality and also what many religions say about morality. Both say, “If you follow these rules and regulations properly, we’ll let you into our community.” And, “If you conform exceptionally well, we’ll give you a seat at

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Surrendering Passions and Desires

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” – Galatians 5:24 As we get down to the nitty gritty of what it looks like to crucify the flesh, I want to assert that it’s entirely a matter of the heart. This is why it’s so important to keep our eyes focused on Jesus and stay in tune with His voice, like we talked about yesterday.  In my experience, the church has often played games when it comes to the issue of dying to self, with one, two, or three things defining what it looks like. This is because it’s natural for us as human beings to want to set rules and regulations that are easy to understand and that everyone can adhere to. When we do this, we feel more in control. Perhaps this is the reason there have been entire denominations of

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A Visionless Church

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” – Colossians 2:8 Yesterday, I told you about my uber-religious elementary school teacher who instilled major fear in me and my fellow classmates. By reinforcing the idea that we should live with constant anxiety about going to hell so that we continually confess our sins, she introduced a toxic theology that was focused exclusively on what you can’t do. Unfortunately, she was not alone in her dogmatic and fear-based beliefs — such thinking has pervaded many sectors of the church for generations. The major problem with this kind of dogma is that it stifles our souls. When we’re constantly fixated on giving things up without having a greater reason, we become joyless and lackluster. If we need proof of

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Forgiving Pharisees

“When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.” – Luke 7:36 For the past couple of days, we’ve looked at two of the four groups of “untouchables” whom Jesus willingingly touched — lepers and Samaritans, and today, I want to look at the third — Pharisees. Interestingly, when we read the gospels, the religious leaders and teachers of the law often appear more villainous than the most violent criminals. Perhaps this is because they were constantly trying to trap the Lord. Yet despite their general hostility toward Him and His teaching, He wanted them to understand the truth, so He welcomed them to learn of His heart. He responded to their accusations with bold words, yet He went out of His way to let them know that He cared about them. For instance, He met

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The Harm in Hypocrisy

“The Lord answered him, ‘You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?’” – Luke  13:15,16 Something we should be careful of whenever we hold someone else to a rigid standard is a lurking evil called hypocrisy. Unfortunately, the church is no stranger to this contradiction of word and deed, and it’s been prevalent in religion since the beginning of time. However, Christ had authority to call it out, because He alone could read the thoughts and intentions of human hearts. In fact, He had no qualms about speaking boldly to the Pharisees when they made a villain out of Him for healing a demon-possessed

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Love is Greater Than the Law

“On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, ‘Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.’” – Luke 13:10-12 We’ve been examining the idea that having the right vision for our lives and leadership empowers us to “break the rules” in order to put people first. Today, I want to look at how Jesus modeled this behavior for us, and what it teaches us about living as His disciples in the modern world. Much to the chagrin of the Pharisees and teachers of the law, our Savior constantly set aside the mandates of religion to give priority to loving people. One of the most famous examples of this is

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