In Exodus 8, God sends a plague of frogs on Egypt because Pharaoh has refused to let Israel go. The frogs were everywhere – in the people’s paths, their beds, their homes, their food, and their water. When Pharaoh demands for Moses to pray to God to take away this horrible plague, Moses said to Pharaoh, “I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray for you and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile.”
“Tomorrow,” Pharaoh said. – Exodus 8:9-10a
Who decides to spend one more night with a plague of frogs when they can be delivered from them today?
Pharaoh?…yes, as well as everyone reading this post…including myself!
C’mon, you and I know this is true. Be honest with yourself. I know what I’m suppose to do or stop doing yet so often I find myself waking up asking for forgiveness and today I begin with a fresh commitment only to find myself here again sooner than later. I find this so frustrating in my life and yet i know and understand the following passage that reads:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
We are all ONE DECISION away from making our future better. Even though our Future Self values long term rewards, our Present Self absolutely loves immediate gratification. Long term payoff in our brain is…well… too long and far away. So what do we DO?
There are various ways to make adjustments but today, why dont we try this: Find a way to move future rewards and punishments into the present moment. Make the future consequences become present consequences.
One of the best ways to bring future rewards into the present moment is with a strategy known as temptation bundling. Temptation bundling is a concept that came out of behavioral economics research performed by Katy Milkman at The University of Pennsylvania. Simply put, the strategy suggests that you bundle a behavior that is good for you in the long-run with a behavior that feels good in the short-run.
Here are a few common examples of temptation bundling:
- Only listen to audio books or podcasts you love while exercising.
- Only get a pedicure while processing overdue work emails.
- Only watch your favorite show while ironing or doing household chores.
- Only eat at your favorite restaurant when conducting your monthly meeting with a difficult colleague.
This article covers some specific exercises you can follow to figure out how to create temptation bundling ideas that work for you.
The other way is what i call the “old school” way of doing things. “SUCK IT UP” and get to work. Be responsible and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery…
EVERYDAY, MAKE A DECISION AGAINST YOURSELF. As the Apostle Paul says, “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.” 1 Cor. 10:23
FREEDOM motivates me! I want to be free, feel free, think free, and exert freedom into every conversation i have with people. Even more, the freedom that comes in Christ is so absolutely addicting that I cant stand feeling controlled or heavy burdened. The passage above indicates that we have control of this action. SO i leave you with the same statement Moses left Pharaoh:
“I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray for you and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile.”
The past few weeks, I have been probed with the question of what to do when someone in your congregation is sinning? What do you tell them and why don’t you cut them off? Just read a FB link that someone sent regarding a “minister” who’s approach is to go into the streets and preach repentance and sin and condemn pastors. After all, they only teach about money when they need something and never tell them about the love of money that is the root of all evil. These are not new questions, but old ones. Satan himself questioned God and thought he had a better way to approach kingdom living. So did Adam, Eve, Cain, and so forth. In every generation there are people who think they know more, there’s a better way, and they conclude that if everyone would just listen and do it according to the Word of God, then we wouldn’t be in this mess. I think we are in this mess simply because of the people who think this way. Better yet, Life is all about the mess, getting in the mess, shoveling the mess out of minds and trying not to get caught up in the mess yourself! Actually, all the mess have some things in common regardless of who it comes out of, the preacher, the priest, or the people:
All mess SMELLS; All mess CYCLES; All mess is REDEEMABLE. (That will preach at another time)
True Pastoring is not cut and dry…it’s messy. It’s a willingness to get into the mess of a persons life and go not only deep, but long. In my opinion, that’s why so many of them never finish their course and ministry. Not only because of the emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental demands but even more the constant judgement and misunderstanding that one receives. The majority of a pastors life involves spending time, praying, crafting, and seeking Gods presence for A Word that will change and transform lives. The moments in prayer are not shallow, wishful request but rather travailing prayers that in some cases feel like those of Christ Himself pleading through you when He found Himself sweating drops of blood so that the will of God may be accomplished. Why do these moments deplete energy? Because we know that only God can change lives, we can’t! Only God can take ink on a paper and translate it into the various languages, demographics, ages, and emotional trauma that people find themselves in. I really wish one day, I could find the time to write to my brothers in the faith that are in the work of the ministry. Only they know the challenges of the spiritual grind that remains a constant whether in the office, on the playground, or in the home in bed alone looking up at the ceiling fan.
Nevertheless, here are the standards. I guess I could go on and explain what the brother of Jesus said: James 2:5-13 (NKJV)
5 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? 7 Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called? 8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
We could reflect on the words of our Master: Matthew 9:12-13
12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
I THINK I WOULD RATHER JUST SHARE THE FOLLOWING. I shared this with our staff this week of our responsibility as ministers of the gospel. There are more verses but these are sufficient.
JAMES 3:1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.
SEEK REPENTANCE NOT MORAL PERFECTION, Challenge and confront people so they can turn away from the very things that will destroy their lives. Compassion, not angry judgment, is the motivation for challenging their behavior.
BE READY: “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction,” (2 Tim. 4:2). (Question: how long, and wid is great patience and instruction?)
WHEN A PASTOR SHOULD CONFRONT SIN:
1. UNREPENTANT SIN
And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17 “And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer,” (Matt. 18:15-17)
“But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 NIV
“Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also may be fearful of sinning,” (1 Tim. 5:20).
2. DIVISIVE BEHAVIOR
“Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.” Titus 3:10 NIV
Nothing welcomes the work of the Holy Spirit into a church more than unity. That’s why it is so important to protect it. Divisiveness occurs when people are more concerned about winning an argument than building a friendship. We. Have a core value here at Crossroads: RELATIONSHIPS RULE
3. HERESY OR FALSE TEACHING
“As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work – which is by faith.” I Timothy 1:3-4
PROTECT PEOPLE FROM:
- Destructive Hurt
- Divisive Hurt
- Doctrinal Hurt
Our three core values here are the following:
- JESUS, NOT US
- RELATIONSHIPS RULE
- SCRIPTURES ARE SACRED, METHODS ARE NOT.
At Crossroads, we are all about Bringing a REAL GOD to REAL PEOPLE.
(Matthew 6:19-29 Message)
19 “Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or––worse! ––stolen by burglars. 20 Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. 21 It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.
22″ Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. 23 If you live squinty–eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!
Your body responds to vision. When your vision…your treasure…your perspective has eternity attached to it, immediately your whole body responds in such a way that it becomes alive!
Ask yourself: “Hows your body feeling? Does your body reflect light or darkness? Quit trying to dig deeper into this than it is. Ask this question and answer it…without trying to over spiritualize. Does your body reflect light? (joy, peace, life, love…) Does your body reflect darkness? (depression, questions, confusion, downward pull…)
Weigh yourself! Let it fall where it falls but respond with action. What are you going to do if you realize theres more darkness there and you are being consumed with it? What if there is light and life currently?
Here is a good follow up question: If you find yourself in darkness, it is a result of your vision.
How do you see yourself? How does God see you? What are you feeding on? Has you perspective become tainted because of offense and judgement? Why worry so much about what others are doing or have done rather than ask yourself what are you doing? How will you change? Will I allow the comments of others dictate my future? The report of the doctors? The challenges of life?
RISE UP – tell your eyes what to get fixed on! “Eye, let me tell you what you are going to see today. I see myself free from condemnation; free from judging others, free from the pain of the past and comments of those closest to me. I see them free from my grip and unforgiveness. I have too much to live for and eternity is at stake! My children need to see me with vision, purpose, an attitude of gratitude and overcoming whatever comes our way.
Continue to speak to yourself and make the adjustment NOW…TODAY…THIS MOMENT. There is no penance to pay…just REPENTANCE from our ridiculous selfish stronghold we have chosen to hold on to.
RESULTS: your body will begin to respond to this vision. I even believe that physical symptoms that were there we begin to loosen themselves from your life….ailments…depression…downcast…anxiety…pain.
HE IS GREATER THAN YOUR BIGGEST SETBACK!
Woke up the other morning and this word came up in mJy spirit: GREATER
Whatever you face and whereever this may land in your life today, can I just tell you that Our God has done some great things. He did them for you personally. Dont think for one minute that He did all this for you to just barely make it by and suffer through this life from one miserable moment to the next. His grace is greater than your pain; His kingdom is greater than all others; His power is Greater than the grave; and His love is Greater than your shame. Nothing you can do will ever cause Him to leave you alone feeling abandoned and condemned here on this earth! I do know that Greater than my sin and greater than the grave and above all other thrones and names that have carried you to this lowly place…OUR GOD IS GREATER….period.
Look Up…Get Up…Crawl Up…Get Over It…Forget about Him/Her…This part of your life may have been hell up to now but TODAY you have another chapter…actually close this book and begin writing a new one with Him at the center of your affection and I promise that He will get you to a place where you will look back and say…”What was I thinking?” He was there all along and I was only ONE STEP AWAY from a GREATER LIFE!
I KNOW MY GOD IS GREATER THAN YOUR YESTERDAY AND HE DID NOT DIE ON THIS CROSS TO KEEP YOU IN A PLACE OF PITY, POVERTY, AND PUSHED OVER.
Read the text below and BELIEVE IT! He is HIGHER, STRONGER, LOVELIER, GREATER, GREATER, GREATER, GREATER, INFINITELY ABOVE YOUR TODAY!
4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4 ESV)
29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand
(John 10:29 ESV)
50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these (John 1:50 ESV)
20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel
(John 5:20 ESV)
6 I tell you, something greater than the temple is here
(Matthew 12:6 ESV)
peace be to you.
Ephesians 4:10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)
The reason we respond in worship is because He is the ONLY ONE that can truly fill us! Lets consider an illustration using a pitcher and an empty container. When you want to fill an empty container, the supplier or pitcher has to be in a higher position to that of the container otherwise it cant be filled.
If we have 2 containers side by side and one has a greater amount of substance within. The only thing he could do is empty himself. He cannot fill it simply because they are at the same level. The container with substance would have to be raised to a higher position in order for it to pour into the other.
Jesus was raised from the dead and given the highest possible position throughout the universe. From that position, His purpose is “that He might FILL ALL THINGS”. Praise God!
You want substance that lasts? Be filled from oh High! Jesus has an endless supply of whatever it is that you lack. Need strength? Hope? Deliverance? Freedom? Grace? Courage? Wisdom? Love?
Respond to Him in worship! Lift up your hands and receive what only He can give! He desires to pour into you those things you lack!
Read a blog by Brian Dodd earlier and thought the tension he wrestles with is a reflection of my own….so thought I’d share.
Do you try to win with people, build teams, make sure other people get credit, forgive others, and serve those less fortunate? Then why do I often feel like such a selfish leader? Why do things continually surface in my life that makes me question my primary motivations?
Personal ambition is a healthy quality as long as it does not eclipse the desire and motivation for the fame of Jesus to spread. The following are seven tensions I have that I think are probably common amongst other leaders. We just do not talk about them at parties.
- Am I more interested in my agenda or God’s agenda? Hopefully they are one in the same but what is my primary motivation?
- Am I more interested in being a success publicly or privately?
- Does my desire for financial gain eclipse my desire to add value to others?
- If I create incredible art and get no credit for it, or worse yet if someone else gets credit for it, am I good with that as long as Jesus is glorified?
- What is my real motivation for wanting to leave a great legacy?
- If no one ever said “Thank You” or acknowledged my efforts but God was pleased with me, would that be enough?
- Are people more important to me than the products I am producing?