How to Lose 100 Pounds in 2 Hours!

How to Lose 100 Pounds in 2 Hours!

If you read this ad would you pay attention?

A while ago I was given one of those daily calendars. It has a different church bulletin blooper on each day. One of the bloopers caught my attention.

“Our church will present a series of classes on various subjects throughout the month of March. The classes offered include: ‘How to Lose 100 Pounds, from 7-9 PM Monday.’”

Many would show up if it meant losing 100 pounds in only two hours! Everyone wants a quick fix to our physical conditions. But it just doesn’t work that way. Neither does it work that way with our spiritual condition.

1 Timothy 4:8 says “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

No one can promise instant results because Christianity is an on-going journey.

Eugene Peterson calls it “the long obedience in the same direction.” If you are struggling with unresolved issues in your life or if you are anxious for a life-change then I encourage you to“go to the Lord” and allow him to work the process in your heart.

Forget the quick fix.

There is no magic pill that can be taken in order to bypass hard work and discipline. Commit yourself for the long haul and trust that “he who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it…”

 

Jesus Did It. Shouldn’t We?

“At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place…” Luke 4:42

“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16

“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” Luke 6:12

Jesus knew how to take timely breaks to replenish his soul. He was the master at balance. He purposefully took time off, not based upon the calendar but for the condition of his soul.

From the above passages in the Book of Luke I see a pattern of health for the Christian believer.

Withdraw…in Preparation for…in the Process of…and Prior to!

First, notice the context in which Jesus withdrew in preparation for ministry to people (Luke 4:42).  This happened to be a time when his popularity was growing and his name was catching on. People wanted to be around Jesus – therefore he knew the value of first being with his Father.

Secondly, see how Jesus got away in the process of intense ministry (Luke 5:16).  Crowds, sick people, and draining ministry situations are all reasons to step back and quietly connect with God.  What are the pressing issues that you are facing right now?  Before going any further – go be with God! It will make all the difference.

Lastly:  Jesus took extra time with his Father prior to making a large decision (Luke 6:12).  Before he chose the twelve disciples he went away for an extended time to get the “mind of God” on that significant issue.  He ended up spending the entire night in prayer.  Do you have a large decision to make?  If so, follow the model of Jesus by getting away to pray prior to making that decision.

I encourage you to take some time to carve out a solitary place with the Lord.  It is a great way to prepare you for a season of ministry or hard work to come in the future. If you’ve been in the middle of a trying time, then perhaps a time away to pray and be refreshed is in order. Or maybe you have a large decision that needs to be made and you need wisdom from the Lord…find a solitary place to get his heart for your next steps.

Jesus did it. Shouldn’t we?

Kick Me

Do you remember those crazy kick-me signs. Perhaps you were the bully that  put them on other people’s backs unaware. Worse yet, like myself, you may have be the recipient of one of those not-so-gentle reminders. (I’m not bitter or anything)!

The Bibles says this in Hebrews 10:24-25: “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.”

Have you ever noticed how much Jesus hangs out with people? As I read through the Gospels, I’ve been struck with the value Jesus places upon significant relationships.

Simply being together.

Oh sure, he needed to get away once in a while like all of us do, but for the most part those were brief times of prayer and rejuvenation with the Father. Even the Son of God found it valuable to ‘steal away’ to a secret place, but those times were brief and served as ‘fuel’ for the journey of relationship.

Don’t we tend to function just the opposite? Heavy on the isolation and light on the fellowship?

Dear ones, Christian community is not forged by osmosis! It doesn’t just happen, but rather, it is harvested. One must tend and nurture relationships for them to be healthy. Before Jesus ever performed any miracles, his first desire was to get a group of guys around him.

Relationships before responsibilities.

People before programs.

Jesus didn’t die for an organization, he laid his life down for his friends and family.

Do you have friends and family…really? Or are you living in isolation? That’s not God’s purpose for you.

So…who are you spurring on to love and good deeds?

Next question is: Who is doing that for you?

We all need a “kick-me” every once and a while!

 

Be Kind

There is an ancient legend about a monk who found a very precious jewel. Later the monk met a traveler, who said he was hungry and asked if he would share some of his provisions. When the monk opened his bag, the traveler saw the precious stone and, on an impulse, asked if he could have it. Amazingly, the monk gave the traveler the jewel. Overjoyed, the traveler departed quickly. However, a few days later, he came back, searching for the monk. He returned the stone and made this request:

“Please give me something more valuable, more precious than this stone. Please give me that which enabled you to give me this precious stone!”

As Christians, we know that this valuable commodity is called “kindness” and it is a natural by-product of a Spirit-filled life.

 

Godly Kindness will:

  • Preserve unity and community
  • Protect one another’s interests
  • Provide a safe environment for growth

Do you have a reputation for being a kind and loving person? That reputation does not come easily but it can be easily taken away and replaced with something much more unbecoming.

 

We can continue to develop this byproduct of the Spirit by:

  • Establishing a no-cut zone. “Instead, speaking the truth in love…” (Ephesians 4:15)
  • Establishing a no-gossip zone. “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.” (Matt. 18:15)
  • Establishing a no-throw zone. “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone…” (John 8:7)

Purpose-Driven Jesus

In Luke 4 we read of Jesus, full of the Spirit, entering Capernaum. This included a visit to Simon’s house and the healing of his mother-in-law. After a long stretch of ministry (not to mention the temptation in the wilderness and travel from Nazareth), Jesus went into a solitary (quiet) place. The crowds followed him and begged him to come back and continue the “good stuff” he had been doing previously.

Jesus, however, knew that he needed to keep moving to other communities.  His purpose was clear.  Let’s look at it in His own words:

“I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose” Luke 4:43.

Purpose-Driven Jesus.

It could have been easy (and notably popular) for him to hang out in Capernaum a while longer. He was attracting quite a following because of his miracle-working healing powers. But that was not his primary purpose.

Earlier in Luke 4 we see how Jesus applied the words of the prophet Isaiah to his primary purpose:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim…” (4:18).

Proclaim what?

  • Liberty to captives
  • Recovery to the blind
  • Freedom to the oppressed
  • God’s favor

There are a number of wonderful things that Jesus did while he was on this earth.  It would take considerable space to recount all of his anointed exploits. Nothing that Jesus did should be discounted or minimized, and yet, it would seem that he had ONE primary purpose: to preach the good news of the kingdom of God.

Purpose-Driven Jesus.

What is your primary purpose?  Of course, there will always be secondary, and wonderfully important things that you and I do.  It’s simply not possible for us to do only ONE THING – not even Jesus could stake that claim.  But it is vital for us to follow the pattern of Jesus, who constantly aligned himself to that which the Father called him to accomplish.

Like Jesus, we will find ourselves being pulled and prodded by the whim of the crowds.

How should we respond?

Graciously and intentionally:  “Thank you, but I must stay on task.  God has given me a primary purpose for my life. It is to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God. Everything else is secondary.”

Imagine what could be accomplished if we discovered our primary purpose and lived intentionally to accomplish it.

Because You Asked: Best Books

Whenever I meet up with lead pastors, planters, youth ministers, and other Christians the topic of “What are ya reading?” comes up. I then go into my deer-in-a-head-lights look because I have a horrible memory.  It’s not that I DON’T READ.  Far from it.

I read like a freak.

If I only read one book a year or even one a month, I might not have such a tough time remembering, but I’m always wading through piles of books. Here are some of the ones that have made it to the top of the pile. Some are newer, others are older. I encourage you to buy, borrow, download or whatever (don’t steal though).  Somehow, get these goodies in you.

Like I tell my kids all the time:  Leaders are Readers.

 

Messy: God Likes It That Way by AJ Swoboda

Anchoredman by Jason Graves

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Other’s Die by Chip & Dan Heath

Practice Resurrection by Eugene H. Peterson

Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman

The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers (And Their Employees) by Patrick Lencioni

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Move: What 1,000 Churches Reveal about Spiritual Growth by Greg L. Hawkins and Cally Parkinson

Deliberate Simplicity: How the Church Does More by Doing Less by Dave Browning

Sticky Teams: Keeping Your Leadership Team and Staff on the Same Page by Larry Osborne

Who Stole My Church: What to Do When the Church You Love Tries to Enter the 21st Century by Gordon MacDonald

It: How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It by Craig Groeschel

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin

In, But Not Of: A Guide to Christian Ambition and the Desire to Influence the World by Hugh Hewitt

Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership by Steven Sample

The Pastor: A Memoir by Eugene H. Peterson

Leading on Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion by Wayne Corderio

Making a Meal of It: Rethinking the Theology of the Lord’s Supper by Ben Witherington III

The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk

How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In by Jim Collins

Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott

Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard Swenson

Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald

Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus by Kyle Idleman

Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Yvon Chouinard

Mary, Seven Demons & Extravagant Giving

There’s something about Mary.

She was one of the LAST people to see Jesus laid into the tomb.

And then she was the FIRST individual to encounter the Risen Christ.

After the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene, along with another Mary and Salome, brought spices to the tomb of Jesus in order to anoint him. These would undoubtedly have been expensive. Only families with resources could afford to bury their loved ones with spices. Others would have forgone that part of the process due to restricted funds.

Interestingly, the anointing spices may have included a perfume known as Myrrh. This was a perfume spice given as a gift to Jesus (and his parents) by the wise men at the Saviors birth. It was also mixed into wine and offered to Jesus at his crucifixion. Myrrh in Aramaic means bitter. So, having been a key element at his birth and death, it would seem only appropriate that Myrrh would make an appearance at his resurrection!

Perhaps this particular spice was illustrative of the high price of Jesus’ incarnation, death and resurrection.

 

High price. 

 

Friends, Jesus’ salvation is free…BUT…NOT…cheap. 

Perhaps Mary of Magdalene was willing to sacrifice so much because she had been given so much. This is in keeping with Jesus’ words: “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). When one is immensely blessed, it is only natural to want to extend blessing to others, especially unto the Lord.

Such was the case with Mary.

Mark 16:9 tells us that she is the very woman who had seven demons driven out of her by the loving hand of Jesus. Seven demons. I’d say ONE would be enough of a problem, but seven?

Wow. Imagine how free she must have felt. Like a spiritual spring cleaning.

Now that she’s got room to breath (minus seven pesky demons), she is free to give extravagantly!  Grateful people are generous people.

Freely you have received, freely give.

What have you been saved or delivered from? Are you grateful?

 

Break the Jar

Over the last handful of weeks I’ve been blogging on the topic of stewardship as seen through various chapters in the Book of Mark. I’ve hit on chapters 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 and now…you guessed it…14.

Mark 14 has story about a woman that was at Simon the Leper’s house at the same time Jesus happened to be there. That would be a pretty serendipitous meeting! If I was her, I would have taken a photo for Instagram or posted it to Facebook“Look, it’s JESUS.”

But this wasn’t a photo-op moment. It was a time for worship and giving. And here’s how the Woman of Bethany did just that…

She broke the jar.

She poured the perfume.

Let me explain:

The Bible tells us that Jesus was reclining at the dinner table. This was a common posture for mealtime. Perhaps it was before the food was brought out or shortly after a lovely meal, but regardless, there was a moment of time in which the Woman of Bethany made her move. She grabbed a jar of her perfume and approached Jesus at the table. It wouldn’t have been proper to sneak up on him from behind, so most likely she drew close to his face in a posture of submission and reverence.

The woman then did something wonderfully scandalous. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on Jesus’ head. I have two initial responses:

First, I wonder if she smashed the jar over Jesus’ head. The answer is: of course she didn’t! This isn’t the World Wrestling Federation (which is unfortunate, because I LOVE wrestling!). Perhaps a better way to think of the jar breaking is that the seal was broken allowing the woman to pour it out freely.

Secondly, the thought of perfume being poured over my head sounds kinda gross.

Am I right or am I right?

Maybe it wouldn’t seem so odd if I told you the perfume is called nard. Oh, that doesn’t help? OK…well…sorry. Nard is short for spikenard which is one of the most precious spices of the Bible. The Hebrew for it is actually nerd (now that I understand). The Greeks called it nardos. It grew extensively in northern India, and has been found high in the Himalayan Mountains. It grows with many spikes on one root, bearing pink blossoms, so it’s sometimes called the Indian Spike. Perfumed oil is extracted from these spikes. Mark says a Venti of it (Starbucks terminology) costed about 300 denari, or about one average worker’s salary for one year (rough estimate today would be roughly $10,000).

Bottom line:  this is really good and expensive perfume. It’s the kind that you would pour over people’s heads. Especially, those dying or being prepared for burial. Hmmm. It’s interesting to note that this all happened two days before The Passover, which began on the evening of Jesus’ crucification! Wow!

The woman broke the jar and poured the perfume. She gave her best and her best cost her something. Others (such as Judas) mocked and rebuked her, but Jesus declared that she had done “a beautiful thing.”

This cost her something. It was expensive. It was expressive. It was passionate. It was voluntary.

How is your giving? Don’t give because you GOTTA. Give because you WANNA.

100% Heart

Ah, April.

April gives us lots of rain showers (oh, wait…that’s pretty much the case every month in Oregon).

April gives us the season opener for baseball.

And April gives us Tax Day.

Taxes. Taxes. Taxes.

In Mark 12, some Pharisees and Herodians asked Jesus a huge question: “Should we pay taxes to Caesar or shouldn’t we?”

Jesus’ response in verse 17 was masterful: “Give to Caesar what belongs to him and give to God what belongs to him.”

The next thing the Bible says is: “And they were amazed at him.”

Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell us whether or not they were obedient to his words.

Perhaps it doesn’t explicitly say so because it leaves room to insert OURSELVES into the story. Are we giving what we should to the government (our taxes) AND giving to God what already belongs to him (our tithes)?

The coin that the Pharisees showed to Jesus had a picture of Caesar on it. His portrait and inscription denoted ownership – the money was his. Jesus said: “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.” He is the owner and we are the steward.

In a larger sense, God is the owner of ALL we have. He releases it ALL to us so that we can steward it properly, and he only asks that we return to him 10% of it. That’s a pretty good deal.

“Give to God what is God’s.”  (that’s 100% of it, in case you’ve forgotten). But all he wants is 10%. Again…that’s a pretty good deal.

You may ask: “Why does God want 10% of my money?”  

He doesn’t.  

He wants 100% of our heart.

What We’ve Learned from Eileen Fehlen

Since the sudden passing of my mom, Eileen Fehlen, I and the rest of my family have received literally thousands of messages, calls, notes and…the most prevalent of all…Facebook messages! We love Facebook.

Each message and memory posted has been special, but there was one that really captured the essence of my Mom. If you knew her then you’d probably agree with this list. If you didn’t then it’s a great glimpse of a great gal. The following was on Mom’s Facebook page from a wonderful woman named Molly Holknecht, who is a leader at Stanwood Foursquare Church.

Here it is:

• Everyone needs Jesus

• Pie and prayer restore body and soul

• When you see a need, find someone to meet that need

• Meatloaf can be edible

• It’s OK to come to worship with pink hair and a leather jacket

• When in doubt, call everyone “Honey”

• Expect the unexpected, then watch God work

• Hugs are always appropriate

• Love never fails

• Buy yourself a red, Mustang convertible for your birthday

• If you have leftovers and a package of noodles, you have dinner

• The garage is the perfect place to butcher a deer

• We were created in a garden, so plant, grow, harvest and eat

• The Good Samaritan is not a myth or theory, but something to be lived out