“No hugs, no learning.” – Jerry Seinfeld

27 06 2011

Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David are known for saying “No hugs. No learning.” regarding the characters of the Seinfeld TV show. They didn’t want the typical personal growth seen in a comedy. They didn’t want the typical emotional highs and lows. They just wanted to do comedy. The writers of Modern Family wanted the opposite. They wanted to show growth.

It’s worth a moment to ask ourselves a simple question, “Does God want us to grow?” Should we be growing in our character?

In almost every example that Jesus uses, about people, they are compared to something that grows. Ie: trees, branches, sheep, children, etc.

What exactly are we talking about? When most people thinking about growing personally (or spiritually) they think about changing their bad habits or attitudes. So let’s define this a bit.

Grow: to spring up and develop to maturity.

Character: the complex of mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person, or essential nature.

Character may grow from the basic attitudes of a person’s life.

When you plan to grow you may be planning to break bad habits. It’s possible that you want to break a cycle of lousy attitudes, thoughts, or ways of talking. We all have a past. We all have things that we’ve been embarrassed about.

Some think that the approach of a Christian is simply, “turn it off”. There’s a song from a Broadway show “The Book of Mormon” by the South Park writers describing the LDS church’s suggestion that any bad feelings or lustful desires can just be turned off. The LDS official response was, “ this show may entertain you for a night, but The Book of Mormon will change your life.” I share their lack of being too quickly offended by satire, but want you to know that the Jesus of the Bible has more for you than just “turn it off” suggestions.

Spiritual growth should be a natural process. Yet it requires you to make choices and take an active role in learning.

Some change immediate. Some change takes time. Seeds take root before you see fruit.

How does the character change?

  1. Fresh start is a must.
  2. Receiving God’s grace changes you & how you see yourself.
  3. Forgiveness moves through you.
  4. Strength comes from relationship: Word & prayer.
  5. Attitudes, thoughts, words, habits begin to change.

David was painfully honest about how he felt when life was good and when life was bad. In Psalm 42 David wrote about dealing with real disappointment with God. You have to pay attention to what he says, but if you do you will learn a few lessons.

Lessons from Psalm 42: Be honest with yourself and with God. You must have a fresh start through Jesus. Receive the change that comes from God. Be honest with yourself and with God. Meet with God. Ask yourself, “What’s wrong?” Put your hope in God. Remember the good that He has done. Thank God. Don’t stop being honest with God and putting your hope in Him.

Colossians 2: 6-9 “And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.”

Thoughts on growth from Colossians 2:6-9:

Let your life be built on Him.

Your faith will grow strong in the truth.

Overflow with thankfulness.

Don’t get distracted and confused.

Live in Christ.

Before you take on an active role in your spiritual growth grab a friend (“running partner”) and read through these verses: Ephesians 2:8-10 2 Timothy 1:9 Romans 12:2 Romans 8:29 Hebrews 4:16

Remember that God…

  1. Gave us life with the ability for growth.
  2. Gave us The Way for redemption.
  3. Gave us a fresh start.

You might be surprised by the things you learn from building a wall.

19 06 2011

There’s a great story in the Bible that’s worth your time. Nehemiah lead a successful effort to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. He returned to the city to lead nearly 50,000 people in the process of rebuilding and resettling the city. The walls were rebuilt and the gates were restored. It took time, but it was worth the effort. This happened as a result of his hearing about the reality the city was facing and reading the Bible.

When you read excerpts of Nehemiah chapters 1-9 you may find a few useful lessons. I’m not going to spell it all out here, but please read it and reflect and these brief points. I’ve listed the corresponding chapters etc.

  1. Aware of reality. 1:3
  2. Compassion leads to prayer. 1:4
  3. Confessing sin. 1:6
  4. Recognize God’s promise. 1:9
  5. Plan to work. 2:1-20
  6. Work in team. 3
  7. Guard the family. 4
  8. Keep your promises. 5
  9. Work with determination. 6:9
  10. Listen closely to the Bible. 8:3
  11. Celebrate the Bible. 8:10

When you’ve had a fresh start you want to learn as much about God as possible.

Don’t be intimidated at reading the Bible. Just try it.

Reading about the lives of others and God’s interaction will teach you more about Him.

It will provide you information, inspiration, and guidance at the least.

David wrote, I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways.” Psalm 119:15

When you read about God you will learn about God.

Saturday Ear Candy June 18

18 06 2011

Ear Candy Saturday Morning and how about starting off with a cup of coffee and some music you just haven’t gotten around to listening to yet???

…these posts may or may not actually represent my musical taste, but they do represent an artistic creativity…are you still looking?

Peter Bjorn and John – Second Chance

Some times I just like to laugh and these guys make me laugh. Enjoy!

Owl City – Alligator Sky

I know understand just how entertaining it is when your kids think that you’re crazy. Here’s a video that you might enjoy.

Shad – Keep Shining

Quality hip hop should make you want to move and play it again so you can think about what’s being said. Shad pulls it off…over and over.

Bellarive – Sing

This video is from a small private show where everyone in attendance brought light bulbs that provided the only light for the evening. The song is from their album “The Being Human Project” This video doesn’t really start the song until 3 minutes in, but it’s worth it. There are times when simple translates the meaningful.

Hillsong United – Father

Here’s a great song that’s worth a listen…even if you’ve already listened to the album. Go back and listen to this one again.

The Library of Congress has rolled out the “National Jukeboxwith access to more than 10,000 songs recorded between 1901 and 1925. You’ll find some dandies like The Original Memphis Five and their “Meanest Blues”.

Grow in prayer.

6 06 2011

Jesus had friends on His road trips. This group of guys were looking for something real. They were making an effort to learn. One day they asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. He responded with a short prayer and a story. In Luke 11:1-13, we read those famous words and the quirky story.

“Our Father who art…” maybe you’ve heard this before.

Here’s a simple version: “Father, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. Give us each day the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation.”

It’s a simple pattern for prayer that you can use every day.

It also teaches us a few simple things:

  1. God provides us access.
  2. Jesus taught us about the how.
  3. Spiritual growth is described as a process.

Here’s a couple of thoughts on the pattern we see in the prayer:

  1. Praise – prayer that lifts up God and describes Him
  2. Intercession – prayer that asks for Kingdom of God in our world
  3. Submission – prayer that puts His will above ours every day
  4. Daily request – prayer that recognizes Him as our daily source, making request
  5. Repentance – prayer that confesses sin, asking for grace and mercy
  6. Forgiveness – prayer that asks for help in forgiving others
  7. Protection – prayer that asks for help in avoiding temptation
  8. Deliverance – prayer that asks for protection from evil
  9. Priorities – prayer that reminds us it’s all His

Luke 11:1-13 Jesus teaches the Lord’s Prayer, then tells story of friend who knocks at the door late at night, asking a neighbor for a bread to feed a visitor. You can almost see this happening in Baltimore row houses. The front door is locked, but with no AC the upstairs windows are open. The neighbor tells him to go away, “everyone is in bed”! Yet he persists and the neighbor gets out of bed to bring him bread, “not out of friendship but because he persisted”. Jesus summarizes the story with, “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 gives us great advice to be talking to God as much as possible.

Here’s a few questions to ask yourself about your prayer:

Do you make a relationship connection when you pray?

Do you really talk?

Do you really listen?

In closing, here’s few quotes from one of the foremost authors on prayer E.M. Bounds:

  • Private place and plenty of time are the life of prayer.
  • Prayer is not learned in a classroom but in the closet.
  • Prayer is the greatest of all forces, because it honors God and brings him into active aid.
  • Too often we get faint-hearted and quit praying at the point where we ought to begin.
  • We can do nothing without prayer.