Whose Smile Are You Looking For?

In a recent tender moment with my youngest daughter Alayna, I looked at her and said, “You make me smile.” “Why Dad?” she inquired curiously.

“Well, I always smile when I see you just because I love you but what I mean right now is because you do nice things for Daddy. That shows me your heart.”

“Like what Dad?” she quickly retorted. “Well… like bring me my shoes or pick up my plate, when I don’t even ask.” She smiled and went about her day. Our conversation made me think of how we should be serving simply for our Father’s smile. Not rewards on this earth or in heaven, not for recognition from people, certainly not for position or power, but simply the make the Father smile.

Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Galatia, he said, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:19

Paul had decided whose smile he wanted. He was ‘performing’ for an audience of one.

That night after dinner Alayna grabbed my dirty dish and brought it to the dishwasher. No one else noticed, but me. Across the dinner room I mouthed “thank you” and gave her a big smile. I believe her smile back to me was bigger.

#makeGodsmile

Excellence is an attitude not an ability

Excellence is an attitude not an ability

I walk into an unusually tidy bedroom to see one of my daughters.  “Wow, you’re room looks great.” I commented surprisingly.  She explained that mom had said she couldn’t leave her room until it was clean.  “How long have you been up here working?” I inquired.  “Oh, not long.” she replied.  The Sherlock Holmes in me became instantly interested.  “Not long” I thought.  “Not long!  I’ve seen this room.” I investigated the closet.  The door was pushed out off the track and it was nearly impossible to open, even for me.  I then noticed several items of close and toys protruding from under her bed.  You know what happened next. I proceeded to explain that stuffing piles into the closet and under the bed wasn’t what her mother had in mind when she used the word ‘cleaning’.  Over the whines and objections I calmly and loving instructed about doing your best, doing things with excellence.  I don’t think she got it but neither did I, the first hundred times my mom explained it to me.  “Sometimes you do the right thing just because it’s the right thing.” my mother with exclaim in response to my “But Whyyyyyyyy?”

Doing things with excellence is an attitude.  It’s about personal pride in a job well done.  It’s about knowing you answer to a higher standard than most. “I don’t care what others kids do…” my mom would teach, “we don’t behave that way.”

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. – Colossians 3:23

When you’re on your job, in you school, or serving at church.  Do you best because you are working for God and because it’s the right thing.

My daughter can’t clean her room as well as adult and we don’t expect her to.  We do however, expect her to give her best effort. God doesn’t say we have to BE the best; we just have to give God our best.  He’ll make up the lack to multiply it.  After all, He’s never been impressed with our ability, but He is keenly concerned about our attitude.

This Sunday at House of Praise, (www.NoPerfectPeopleHERE.com) we’ll look at Giving God Your Best.  I hope to see you there.

 

10 Ways to Enhance Your Worship Service Experience

Have you ever left a church service and felt “I didn’t get anything out of that.”?  I think we all have.  It’s bad when the pastor says that…haha. Now, have you ever left a church service feeling that way AND heard someone else say, “Wow!  That was awesome.  I really met with God.”?  That’s a real eye opener.

I recently spoke to someone who said when they heard the excitement other people had they began looking at themself.  When they heard there were people saved, baptised and set free and they didn’t feel excitement, the knew it was them.  So how do adjust ourselves to get the most out of a worship experience and keep ourselves from growing indifferent?  Here’s 10 ways to enhance our worship experience.

1. Come Expecting a Good Service – As James taught us (James 1:6-7), we need to expect God to answer us.  This simple step many times bring the change in attitude we need.

2. Minimize Distractions – If there is a person who is always chatty near you, move.  I actually started sitting towards the front because I am visually distracted by people.

3. Change Your Routine – Sit in a different seat, serve as an usher, walk up front during worship (if your church culture allows that), visit a different church one Sunday, (Pastors don’t em-mail me it’s alright really.)  whatever it takes for some variety.

4. Hang Around After Service and Talk – You’ll be surprised how much chatting with some people for ten minutes will brighten your day.

5. Come Early – If your church has a place or time to pray do it, if not hang in the lobby and chat.  Bring an extra coffee and surprise someone with it.  Force yourself to be social.

6. Greet a New Person – Remember the first time you came to church? Help someone else to not feel nervous.  Say hello. Ask them if you can answer any questions for them.

7. Serve – Nothing adds the meaning of a worship experience like knowing you had a part in it being put together.  When someone reaches for the tissues you put there, it more than just blowing their nose.  They aren’t distracted loking for tissues so they heard the message and accepted Jesus for the first time as Savior. Guess what? You had a part in their escaping from hell.

8. Take Notes – We only remember 10% of what we hear but when we write it the % doubles.  If we review the notes later it triples.  It’s the eternal word of God, don’t treat it as common or unimportant.

9. Invite an Unchurched Friend – Nothing is more meaningful than seeing your church or even God through someone else’s eyes.  If that person meets the Lord and their life changes, it will be your best worship experience ever.

10. Experience God BEFORE the Service – Most Christians that don’t get anything out of the worship experience aren’t experiencing God during the week either.  I don’t know why but it’s like a cup that is being filled all week, smaller drops make it over flow.

Get to the church early and pray.  Ask God to meet with you. Ask Him to forgive you sins, forgive others who sinned against you that week.  Then give Him you issues, any distracting things and you’ll be ready.

Do these 10 things I guarentee you’ll have a meaningful and fulfilling worship experience!

Saintly Serving

1 Peter 4:10 – Each one should use whatever gift he’s received to serve others. (niv)

There is such a joy when people give their time and use their skill to serve the House of God.  We just finished our quarterly work day at the church today.  There were 33 adults that gave up some of their Saturday to clean, repair and organize the church.

Ephesians 2:10 – We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (niv)

We were all made to be a contributing part of God’s family, a contributor not just a consumer. The Bible says we’re created to serve, we’re saved to serve, we’re gifted to serve, and we’re shaped to serve.  We’re commanded to serve God by serving others.  May God bless each of you as you serve the Lord by serving others.

Matthew 20:26b-28 – Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must become your slave. For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others

Someone once asked me why he felt disconnected from the church.  I asked him if he was serving in any area of the church and if he was in a small group.  The answer to both questions was no.  My reply was, “Then you are not connected to this church.”  He was shocked and exclaimed, “How can you say that?  I’ve been in this church for 15 years.”  Then he told me of all the ministries he served in and all the things he had done.

“My point exactly” I explained.  “While you were involved serving and were connecting with people in small groups, you felt connected, a part of the church.  Now that you’re not doing those things, you don’t.”

Have trouble making friends?  Feel disconnected from church at times?  Make sure your serving, it’s a great way to get to know people!!

Thank you again to those faithful people who came out and served today.  So much was accomplished from cleaning out the junk, to knocking down the wall to open the hallway for the new café.   To many things to list here but just as important is this… it was a great fun working together.  God Bless

Personal Growth Part 3 – What is Your Plan?

If you don’t plan you won’t grow (see Personal Growth part 1).  So let’s get some concrete, measurable goals that we can make the most effective us of our lives for God’s Kingdom.

Psalm 90:12 – Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom.

First, Establish a Daily Prayer Time

Psalm 57:2 – I will cry to God Most High, who will fulfill His purposes for me.

Commit to two things, how long and when.  Example: “I will pray for 15 minutes a day every morning.”  Let me say this, all of these are goals to help us to stretch ourselves and grow.  There’s no condemnation, no legalism…use these goals as guides.  If you prayed five days and missed one, don’t get all upset.  Say “I prayed for five days.  Awesome.  Let’s start again.”  Now if you look at your prayer time and you’ve missed three days in a row well, either your passion for God has slipped or your life is out of balance.

Second, Have a Regular Bible Study

Psalm 119:104-105 – Your commandments give me understanding; no wonder I hate every false way of life. Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.

Having daily Bible reading is very important but we should all have a weekly study time also.  In our study time we’re not just reading but spending time in a passage, looking up the meaning of words, studying what was happening during that time, looking up related passages etc.  In general going deeper on one section of scripture or studying one idea throughout the whole Bible.

Example: “I will spend fifteen minutes a day reading the word at lunch and One hour a week in study on Sundays.  This week I’m studying all the Bible references to gossip.”

Next Create Personal Accountability

Proverbs 15:32-33 – If you reject criticism, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.  Fear of the Lord teaches a person to be wise; humility precedes honor.

Someone once told me “You’re only as accountable as you want to be.”  That’s a true statement.  No one can force you to open up and share your struggles or ask another person to encourage you pursue your calling. This really is the place where people either soar or crash.  We are all human and left to ourselves we will take the easy road.  We need godly input from people we respect.

Example: “I will make myself accountable by joining a Connect Group and opening up to the leader about my struggles.  I will choose one brother or sister who is strong in an area I am weak, to keep me accountable.”

Keep Church Attendance a Priority

Hebrews 10:24-25 – Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.

How can anyone think of personal growth apart from the local church?  A huge part of growing spiritually is the selflessness that comes from being part of a larger vision.  It’s no longer about me and my life but about what God is doing with our church and in our city.

The poor priorities we have where we choose kids sporting events, overtime and leisure activities over obeying scripture to gather together is one of the main things that causes us to stagnate.  We must seek firs the kingdom of God.

Example: “I commit to never miss church unless ill or on vacation.”  “No Molly you can’t play soccer Sunday at 11am because we have church.”

Work at Positioning Yourself

1 Corinthians 14:3 – One who prophesies is helping others grow in the Lord, encouraging and comforting them.

Whatever your gift is use it to build the body up.  Don’t wait to be asked!  If you’re not skilled yet in the gift or if someone has told you that you have a gift, seek out mentoring.  Get around other people who are already succeeding in that area.  Study the word on the specific gift.  Etc.

Example: If you feel called to teach and there’s no opportunity to teach adults, position yourself by using my gift of teaching in the children’s church or in a Small Group.

2 Peter 3:17 – But grow in the special favor and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Give Generously

Mal 3:8-10 – Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me. But you ask, In what way did we ever rob you? In tithes and offerings You are under a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. 10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do, says the Lord of Hosts, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Let me prove it to you!

The tithe is the minimum to call yourself a believer.  Please don’t put comments out about how it’s Old Testament.  Abraham tithed 700 years before the law was written (Hebrews 7:4-10) and Jesus said you should tithe in the New Testament (Matthew 23:23).

We should all be giving above and beyond the tithe because it’s a supernatural thing that increases our faith!  What makes me laugh is when people say, “Well, I pray and just give what God tells me to.  I’m not obligated to tithe.  It’s legalism.” Because they always are people who give less than 10%!!  Do you mean the same God who raised all the standards for those under grace (not just don’t commit adultery but don’t even look at a woman with lust) is going to lower the standard for giving?  Ha!

Example: “I commit to tithe (10%) and to prayerfully give 3% to hunger relief.”

Serve God by Serving People

1 Peter. 4:10 – Each one should use whatever gift he’s received to serve others. (niv)

Serving is everyone’s responsibility.  There should be no spectators in the kingdom of God.  I was blessed by a dear sister who showed up for the back pack give away and said, “I want to help but I can’t stand long because of physical limitations.  What can I do?”  I had her sit at the table and stuff the back packs with the pencil cases.  Her attitude was she wanted to serve in any way she could.  Wonderful!

Example: “I will serve in the Lord by ushering and coming to the church work day.”

Obey the Sabbath Principle

Ex 16:28-29 – How long will these people refuse to obey my commands and instructions?” the Lord asked Moses. “Do they not realize that I have given them the seventh day, the Sabbath, as a day of rest?

Mar 2:27 – The Sabbath was made to benefit people, and not people to benefit the Sabbath.

I wrote on the Sabbath in Personal Growth Part 2 so I won’t say anymore here.

Example: I will rest one day a week from my work (including phone calls) and take one week vacation a year with my family.

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Plan to Grow.  If you’re the same Christian you are next year as you are this year…If you don’t look a little more like Jesus, than you’re out of God’s will! Anything God blesses grows!