Weekend Guide for the week of February 17

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Acts 9.13–15: Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; 14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name." 15 But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel.

Ananias had a problem. God summoned him to share the message of the gospel with the rabbi, Saul of Tarsus—the man we know as the apostle Paul. Yet, for Ananias, there was not a more unlikely man to become a follower of
Jesus Christ than Paul. Paul was a man with passion. He was esteemed and he was also an opinionated, legalistic, zealous man who was so sure of what he believed that he was willing to see people killed who departed from his understanding of faith in God. Paul literally had a “take-no-prisoners” approach to his faith

Ananias’ problem is our problem too! We have many people in our circle of relationships that we have judged unlikely (impossible?) to ever respond positively to Jesus Christ. Yet those we consider unlikely, God may consider a  "sure thing" because He personally knows the hearts of all. 

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Weekend Guide for the week of February 10

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I have noticed that the witness of any Christian is more effective than the witness of a pastor. People expect a pastor to speak about Jesus— after all we are paid to do it! People are far more impacted when their co-workers or friends talk about Him because this is unexpected (!) and because you are approachable and relevant because you share some of the same commitments and/or interests which your friends or co-workers can easily relate with.

Loved ones, you are surrounded by men and women who Jesus wants to impact through you. I am convinced that no one else has the chance to reach them like you do. Why? Because you are a Christian— not by what you do (or refrain from!) but because Jesus Christ dwells in you by the power of the Holy Spirit. He desires to work through you to touch the hearts of other men and women. The market place is His mission field. It is the field to which he has called you as a full time Christian minister so that He might do the extraordinary through you…

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Weekend Guide for the week of February 3

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In the New Testament the “new” surpasses the “old” rendering it archaic, primitive, and obsolete (see Hebrews 8.13 as one example). You cannot enjoy the newness of your life in Christ while clinging to the old anymore than you can successfully replace your car engine’s spark plugs with matches and expect it to run—let alone start!

The Holy Spirit speaks to us through this verse challenging each of us to let go of what He has determined must pass away from our lives. We can make no better start than             

            to take a moment…
consider the vestiges of the old you still cling to…
 ask the Lord to have it pass away… and
 prayerfully consider what steps you will begin taking TODAY!

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Weekend Guide for the week of January 27

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Prayer without confidence and expectation is nothing more than a desperate sigh or a wish-filled exhale adrift to no one. Jesus’ teaching on prayer encourages us to pray with confidence that there is Someone listening. This Someone is your Father — who is alert to your voice, attentive to your needs, and affectionate with His care. While, like any parent, His answers might disappoint and even anger His children, He, nevertheless, invites our expectations in light of 

the Son He gave us,
   His grace that cleansed us, 
      His love that embraced us, 
         and the promises He spoke over us.

Consider afresh these excerpts from Psalm 34:

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Weekend Guide for the week of January 20

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When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God…
(Acts 4:24)

Prayer is a powerful word. Mention it in a room full of Christians and watch the tone of the conversation become subdued. Invite people to dinner and faces light up. Invite someone to a time to pray together and anxiety arises. Most participants in churches across the country will find something else that demands their time rather than attend a prayer gathering— even when the gathering is scheduled on a night and time when a previously attended weekly event occurs! Most followers of Jesus Christ say they should pray more, but most of us rarely do. We can recite pat quips that “prayer is the most powerful thing we can do” but other less “powerful” pursuits generally seem to crowd it out. Nationwide the average attendance at prayer meetings is running less than 10% of a congregation’s attendance. How is it that something that God intended as a gift fosters so much intimidation and remorse? Is it possible that we have created an expectation for prayer that very few individuals can live up to?

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Weekend Guide for the week of January 13

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… according to my earnest expectation and hope, 
that I will not be put to shame in anything, 
but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, 
be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death…

(Philippians 1.20)

Welcome back! This year I began reading my “go-to” devotional again: My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. Chambers was not particularly well known when he died from his decision to delay an appendectomy while a chaplain for the YMCA in Egypt with the British Army. He was known for his ardent faith, generosity, and his conviction that the Christian life doesn’t just happen. The Christian life is intentional, challenging, and requires a daily choice for faithfulness. 

So consider his entry for January 1: 

 “…my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed….”

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Weekend Guide for the week of November 25

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Poverty and affluence alike test the soul— albeit from opposite ends of the spectrum. We may cry out amidst poverty, “My God why have you forgotten me?” But God may cry out to us amidst our affluence, “My child, why have you forgotten me?” Both sift the soul looking for responsive obedience, sincere gratitude, and a confident trust in the promises of God…

It came about when the sons of Israel became strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but they did not drive them out completely… So Joshua said to the sons of Israel, “How long will you put off entering to take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your father has given you? (Joshua 17.13; 18.3)

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Weekend Guide for the week of November 11

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Without this daily resolve followers of Jesus Christ will become nondescript residents of society with little to distinguish them from the world they reside in. Oh, some may still retain peculiar habits like go to church, pray occasionally, read the Bible or observe Christian holidays. But in reality the values, concerns, and pleasures of this world will draw them back and they will again be subject to its demands and mastery. Such Christians will hardly influence and impact lives around them.

Our freedom is maintained by our steadfast commitment to struggle against “powers and spiritual forces” that seek to enslave us (Ephesians 6.12). How do we do this? “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” Free is the one who daily seeks the empowering of the Holy Spirit.

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Weekend Guide for the week of November 4

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In the 1994 book, Sex in America,the authors reported that twenty percent of all women and as many as thirty-five percent of all men have been unfaithful in marriage. Christianity Today surveyed its readers and discovered that twenty-three percent of their subscribers admitted to having had affairs. Leadership Journal found that ten percent of the pastors and church leaders they surveyed had committed adultery. Can something so common be so wrong? The seventh commandment says yes, it can.

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Weekend Guide for the week of October 28

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I believe that the world, the flesh, and the devil conspire to persuade us that there is no hurry about turning to God and/or responding to His call. However, if the truth be told, time is running out fast. Procrastination is a very dangerous vice because it masquerades as “deferred obedience.” When we procrastinate we dodge the call of God. We delude ourselves when we perceive that the problem is “timing” rather than our resolve to respond promptly. The right time to respond to God’s voice is always /now/— as soon as we hear it.

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Weekend Guide for the week of October 21

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There is never a time when we do not need our faith buttressed by God’s promises for our future. Life is dynamic not static—despite the attempts by some to control everything! Each day we face sin’s troika—the world, the flesh, and the devil. Their assaults are as endless as the ongoing campaigns against Israel by her enemies. Tomorrow’s insecurities and disappointments may quickly unseat today’s triumphs. Therefore, God promises that He will fight for us and deliver us safely as we cling to Him and order our lives under His authority. The ones whose minds are fastened on God’s promises for their future will not act precipitously in the present because they understand that God’s promises have already secured their future today.

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Weekend Guide for the week of October 14

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How tragic that we live in an age in which many aspire to be spiritual yet deprive themselves  of a relational spirituality because they will not be embraced by the God who created us “spiritual.” Our understanding of spirituality is destined to be self-centered when it arises from the created rather than a revelation that comes from our Creator.  We learn from Scripture that spirituality is inherently relational, practical, and doable…

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Weekend Guide for the week of October 7

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There is nothing more heart-breaking than watching someone you love lose their memory. This personal and private treasury contains their knowledge, wisdom, history, sensitivities, and most of all relationships. The slow and relentless decay of one’s memory reduces adult intellect to infancy, vacates wisdom, erases history, neuters joy, and slowly disintegrates one’s most precious relationships. Watching my father lose his mind will forever be etched in my memory unless or until I might lose mine. 

Dementia and Alzheimer’s do highlight a simple truth about relationships. We intentionally remember the relationships we value the most. Friendships and marriages that are not intentional and begin to “forget” to share life and time together are in jeopardy. Therefore, it should be no surprise that, because God is relational, He exhorts us to remember. In fact, the vibrancy of our faith will be contingent upon the spiritual discipline of “remembering.”

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Weekend Guide for the week of September 30

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God is unique.
There is no other.
There is no one like Him. He has no equal.

Everything that exists from the Andromeda to an amoeba, 
From black holes to black panthers, was created by Him.
He has enemies but no threats.
He has friends but no peers.

He is God alone. There are no others…God is exclusively God.

We live in an age where exclusivism of any sort is close to being the unpardonable sin. Indulgent tolerance is encouraged so that it is understood that all religions are equally valid as expressions of each worshiper’s personal preference. What is often overlooked is that our confession of faith is based on the exclusive God whose inclusive love embraces all people. If God is NOT exclusive then the tenets we hold dear are, at best, moral aspirations not divine revelation.

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Weekend Guide for the week of September 23

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How can we cultivate integrity in our lives? Where can we turn to discover a model of integrity which is distinct and inspired by God Himself? I would suggest the Ten Commandments are a good place to start (Exodus 20.1-17)... Here we are challenged and encouraged in 10 crucial areas that are essential to a lifestyle of integrity that pleases the heart of God. (In fact, I think the 10 Commandments could be re-titled, Every Person’s Guide to Integrity).

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Weekend Guide for the week of September 16

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Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith;
test yourselves.

(2 Corinthians 13.5)

An equinox and solstice, while frequently associated, are literally poles apart. An equinox is when the equator is closest to the sun and a solstice is when the equator is furthest away. This is not merely a tidbit of science trivia — equinoxes and solstices impact our lives every year because we mark the four seasons from these four events... and with each season comes memories, associations and expectations — both joyful and sorrowful. 

On 22 September the Autumnal Equinox will occur marking the first day of the Fall season—a season marked by our equator being closest to the sun. I choose to receive it as a prophetic promise that God intends for this to be a season where we will be brought closer to Him. Therefore, this is a good time to pause and take inventory less we simply let obligation and/or habit dictate what our lives will be filled with. 

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Weekend Guide for the week of May 27

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Everyone who follows Jesus Christ is called to be a person of impact. The Spirit of God forbids you to remain silent or passive while the world, the flesh, and the devil plunder, blind, and confound your “Impact Zone.” Your Impact Zone will include yourself, your friends and/or family, and your co-workers. While their size and scope may vary from person to person mark this: your temperament neither accredits nor disqualifies you. It is your responsiveness to God’s call and your readiness to do His will that certifies you to be a Person of Impact..

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Weekend Guide for the week of May 20

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In a July 2013 article, Scientific American studied what most people talk about the most and what they discovered surprised me — probably because my emotional intelligence is not high! Here is their observation: on average people spend 60% of their time talking about themselves! This number goes up to 80% when communicating on social media. So what are the implications for Christians if we spend all this “time” communicating and our faith does not or rarely comes up with others? 

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