Tag: jesus (page 3 of 3)

Statistics, Decision-Making, & God

I talked with a friend the other day who’s in his 50s. We were talking about a potential job opportunity on his table.

It was a significant step up in pay and influence. I asked him, “Why aren’t you strongly considering this?”

He responded with, “At my age, I can’t make a move like that. If I fail, I’ll have nowhere else to go. Statistics prove that people who have been in my position for as long as I have and transition to another church tend to only spend a couple of years there before they leave.”

There are two important words in what he said. “Statistics show…”

photo credit: Creative Commons License, user Mac Steve

Here’s my word of advice for anyone who uses that phrase:

Who cares what statistics show?!?

Statistics show

  • That everyone dies. But I’m not ready for that.
  • That more marriages end in divorce than stay the course. But I’m not going to quit fighting for the health of my marriage.
  • That I’ll be an absent dad. But I’m not going to let that happen.

Who cares what the statistics say? Not me. I’m not letting statistics hold me back.

I’m thankful that God isn’t limited by what statistics say has to happen.

God isn’t limited by statistics.

  • Gideon led an army of 22,000 300 to conquer the Midianites (Judges 6-8). Against the statistics.
  • Moses led the Israelites out of slavery to the most powerful man in the world. With no weapons (Exodus 12:31-40). Against the statistics.
  • Daniel was thrown into a pit of lions and survived to be a leader for his exiled people (Daniel 6). Against the statistics.
  • David, a boy at the time, defeated the best warrior the the Philistines had (1 Samuel 17). Against the statistics.
  • Abraham and Sarah birthed a nation at the ripe old age of 100 (Genesis 21:1-7). Against the statistics.
  • Jesus had 12 followers that took the Gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts). Against the statistics.

Statistics don’t hold a candle to God.

I know that wisdom takes statistics into account. Statistics aren’t evil, but can help inform our decisions. We should take them into account. But we should not use them solely in our decision making.

Don’t let statistics determine your decision.

Remember that you serve a God who overcomes odds and breaks through strongholds. He won’t be stopped by a mere statistic.

Neither should you.

*photo credit: Creative Commons user: Mac Steve

 

Don’t Take my Pic Caption Contest

My son doesn’t like having his picture taken.

But instead of giving you the full context here, I thought I’d ask you to fill in a funny caption.  And in return, I’ll reward you.   I’m so thankful for you guys and the community we’ve built here that I’d just like to say, “Thanks.”

I’m giving away 2 copies of the uber-popular Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and me by Ian Cron!

Ian is speaking at the upcoming Story conference, and is a highly sought after communicator.

Ian’s book is a great read. It’s fun, engaging, and is a great picture of one man’s pursuit of God despite so many things stacked against him.

If you’d like to win a copy, you get 1 entry for each of the following:

1. Leave a caption. Make sure to include how many of the additional entries (below) you’ve also done.

2. Tweet this: Do. Not. Take. My. Picture! Caption contest for @IanCron ‘s ‘Jesus, My Father, the CIA & me’ via @benreed: http://su.pr/3DbcNp

3. Facebook this: Do. Not. Take. My. Picture! Caption contest for Ian Cron’s ‘Jesus, My Father, the CIA’ on Ben Reed’s blog today here: http://su.pr/3DbcNp  // (be sure to tag me in the post so I know to count you in the drawing)

4. Subscribe to receive updates to this blog HERE.

I’ll be drawing the winner at 9 pm central time on Saturday, September 2nd.

 

 

 

A Social Network Christmas

What would it look like if Mary and Joseph had Jesus in the age of Facebook?

(HT: Greg Atkinson)

Merry Christmas!

 

Feeling far from Christ

Did you know that as soon as you pull the fruit off of the vine, it begins to die? Looking at these cucumbers above, you’d think they were healthy, right?  They’re green.  They’re huge.  They’ve got the little prickly things on them.  All evidence points to them being as healthy as any other cucumber.  But notice the stem.  It’s been pulled off of the vine.

Whether we pickle them or put them in a salad, these cucumbers are going to taste fantastic.  They look fine and taste fine…at least for the time being.  Wait a week, though, and they’ll look and taste dead.  Nobody would eat them at that point.  But for now, they look fine.

Since they’ve been removed from the life-giving vine, though, they’re dying.  That process can be slowed by putting them in the refrigerator.  Or even pickling them.  But there’s no doubt that, over time, they’ll be completely dead and shriveled up.  Though it’s not visible or tastable now, these cucumbers are dying because they have nothing that’s giving them life.

“I just feel like I’m not where I once was spiritually.”

Ever uttered those words?  Ever felt like you’re just not as close to Christ as you once were?

Ever feel like that just came out of nowhere in your life?  One day, you and Jesus were inseparable.  The next, you felt like there was a wall between the two of you.  One day, he seemed as real to you as the chair you’re sitting in.  The next, he seemed as real to you as the 2010 pennant that the Cubs will win.

The reason you felt like it crept up on you out of nowhere is the same reason that the cucumber looks fine immediately after taking it from the vine.

It takes a while for it to look and taste dead.

Jesus said:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.  -John 15:4-8

The Good News is that you can be grafted right back into that vine (Christ)!  The death process doesn’t have to continue.  It can end right now if you just ask (Matthew 7:7)

Have you removed yourself from the vine?  When did you realize you weren’t connected?

How have you personally plugged back into the vine? What did you do that connected you back with Christ?

**you can see all of the pics of my garden on my Posterous site HERE

 

A Community Decision

“You need to make a personal decision to follow Christ.”

I’ve heard that many times.  Have you?

It’s something you have to do, on your time, in your heart, in your seat, that you will not regret…with all heads bowed and all eyes closed (thus shutting out the rest of the congregation).

This decision, the one that can, and should, rock your entire community…all boils to you.

Am I the only one that thinks this seems really individualistic, self-centered, and anti-community?

Salvation just doesn’t happen like that.  It is true that you have to make the decision, but the decision isn’t made in a box.  It’s made in the context of community (relationships with others).  It’s community that leads people to a relationship with the Lord, not a mere intellectual ascent to the Truth.  It’s seeing the truth lived out.  Not reading an airtight apologetic.  It’s experiencing the Truth in love.  It’s being served.  Valued.  By community.

And it’s community that you’re saved to.  You’re not saved to be an island.  Rather, you’re saved to be a part of a family.  “Fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household…in him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19-22)  When you trust in Christ, you are grafted into a family.  Adopted…and given the rights of the firstborn son.  And you instantly become a vital part of that community, which the Bible calls a “body.” (1 Corinthians 12)

So next time, instead of closing a service with, “Bow your heads and close your eyes and make an individual decision…” why not acknowledge the community that has led people to this saving faith, and invite people to look around and rejoice at the family that they are saved into?

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10

 

Attention all Dads!

Check out this video. (sorry, I’m having trouble embedding videos onto my blog, so I had to provide a link)

My son is only 10 months old, but I can already see that he loves it when I show him that I’m proud of what he’s done.  He beams with pride when I am excited about his accomplishments.

Children need their parents’ support.  They need us to be proud of their achievements.  They need us to get down in the dirt and play.  Be made to look silly sometimes.  Sacrifice time, resources, energy, and our free time…to attend one of their games…one of their dance competitions…to play in the back yard…to teach them how to ride a bike…how to drive a car.  In short, they need us to love them.

Isn’t that what God did?

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
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.  –Philippians 2:3-11

 
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