The week after Thanksgiving has become the most refreshing week of the year for Tanner and I. That is because every year for the last seven years, we have attended PAO’s Increase Conference during this time. This event provides a place for professional athletes to gather together and to learn from gifted speakers and teachers concerning how our Christian faith should be impacting our relationships, finances and careers.
Many of us are fine with Jesus as the great teacher or advocate of social justice. It’s the Jesus who claims to be the Lord and Master of the Universe that we have difficulties accepting. There’s a particular story that Mark records in his gospel where Jesus says something and then does something that dramatically reveals how much everyone was underestimating his ability and authority.
The fact that Paul could be at peace and stay content in the midst of everything that he had experienced was an amazing mindset, but it’s also one that’s available to every other follower of Jesus as well. And so, how can we get to a place in our own life where we can actually say with integrity that, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”?
Paul’s life had been completely transformed by Jesus. His worldview and the trajectory of his life was completely changed by Jesus. And Paul understood that the only way to respond to what Jesus had done for him is to become like Jesus — to imitate Jesus.
The history of humanity's progress is often characterized by advancements in empire, discovery, renaissance, enlightenment, industry and information. Mankind has worked tirelessly to subdue the universe and with great success has brought to light many of the wondrous things hidden within it. However, in spite of all his great discoveries and progress, man is still searching for that most illusive treasure that seems to continually escape him.
After the reign of King David (the son of Jesse), God brought judgement upon the faithless people of Israel reducing them down to a small remnant. Abraham's family tree was chopped down to the stump. God's covenant promise to bless the world seemed hopeless and forgotten. But in God's own mysterious way, He promised to one day spring to life an everlasting kingdom from the very stump that appeared to be dead.
I spent over twenty years of my life as a passenger on this train, but a few weeks ago, it became apparent to me that it was time to get off. Baseball has been the air that I breathe, and the Major Leagues was always the desired destination. But just this past spring, after one last outing on Field 3 at the Orioles complex in Sarasota, FL., my life as an active player came to an end.
When we suffer mistreatment and offense from others, we are confronted with the choice to either take revenge into our own hand or to take refuge in the sovereign hands of God. Shortly after stepping up as the savior of Israel and striking down the great enemy of God’s people, David gained an incredible increase in popularity among the people of Israel. This was very displeasing to Israel's King Saul, and in his envy, he became very angry and “eyed David from that day on”.
It is safe to say that Leviticus is not on anyone's list of favorite books of the bible. I had someone text me this morning to state quite plainly and honestly, "It's okay to say Leviticus is boring right?" And while the majority of the book does seem tedious and out of touch with our new covenant relationship with God, there are some heavy principles found within the book that shed some much needed perspective on our view of God and our relationship with him.
Aren’t we all just instruments in God's hand used by God for God's sovereign purposes? We are the instruments, He is the Author; and the power to accomplish His purposes is in His power alone. Far too often, we fall into the trap of assuming we bring a lot to the dance. We look at our unique gifts and assume they must be the reason God chose us for His work rather than realizing that we possess these unique gifts because God is already using us.
I’ve recently been following a daily reading plan through the Bible entitled ‘For the Love of God’ by D.A. Carson, and today’s reading provided two particular passages that served as a valuable reminder for where our focus ought to lie as it concerns our Christian lives. Due to our individual-sensitive, self-esteem, self-help society, it’s easy for us view the gospel of Christ as a message primary about us.
Marveling at men of faith who seem to possess some level of spirituality or supernatural power that I just don’t seem to have is clearly the kind of act condemned here by Peter. We should avoid any kind of language that utters a phrase like, “He’s a better Christian than I am.” After healing a man and astonishing everyone around him, Peter diverts any glory coming his way as if by saying, “You’re missing the point if you stand in awe of me. Any and all glory belongs to the Lord, always."