What Are You For?

277a97ac-e917-418e-8b74-f28b6cca25f7_1.7777438103b9f6530a39bf471a28b932Every person will be known primarily by what they are for or by what they are against.

Against people are critics and complainers who focus on what not to do. For people celebrate wins and compel others to a higher way of living.  Against people repel. For people compel.

Jesus was a “for” person. He focused on what he was here for. Yes, he periodically tossed tables and called out haters, but his primary message was that God loves the world and wants to save the world (John 3:16-17).

So, we want to cut the confusion and clearly mark what we, at Clear Creek, are for.

We are for…

…Jesus’ fame. Paul writes that, in Jesus, “all things were created…and in him all things hold together.” And “he is the head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1:16-18). Jesus is our hero and our helper. The One who sustains and saves us. He is our message.

our city. God told ancient Israel to “…seek the peace and prosperity of the city…Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:7). We love, serve and pray for our city, because God loves our city.

the next generation. Previous generations sacrificed so we would know Jesus. It is now our privilege to leverage our position and abilities so the next generation can carry the torch of Jesus into the culture and the future.

empowering people. We seek to help others step into their God-given roles as world-changers in their homes and communities by living lives marked by holiness and dependence on God (Ephesians 4:11-16).

restoration and reconciliation. We are appointed and empowered by God to speak vision and value into others’ lives (2 Corinthians 5:14-21). We go where others fear to go and do what others won’t so that all may be reunited to their loving God.

This is what we are for. So, let’s go for it together.

 

Party Like God

God loves to party.

It’s true. Thumb through the pages of Scripture and you’ll see a celebrating God. Luke 10:21 describes Jesus as joy-full. Paul describes God in 1 Timothy 1:11 as blessed, which means happy. So, Paul is calling God a “happy God.” And the prophet Zephaniah says that our God sings and “rejoices over us” (Zephaniah 3:17). Rejoice means to “dance, skip, and spin with joy.” Ours is a joy-filled, happy, dancing and singing God.

God enjoys life and he wants us to enjoy it as well. Consider this…

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In the Old Testament, God built into Israel’s calendar seven holidays, amounting to about thirty days of feasts per year. Add the weekly Sabbaths, and the total comes to around eighty days of feasting and rest annually. Add the later feasts of Purim (one day) and Hanukkah (eight days), plus weddings and birth celebrations, and the amount of time off for celebration and worship exceeded three months a year!

In other words, God’s people party. They enjoy life and they celebrate regularly.

Here are three biblical ways to party like God this fall.

  1. Savor your five senses. God gave you five senses to enjoy the world. Use them. Engage your taste and smell with a good meal. See if you can pick out each flavor and how they interact. Savor your sight by watching a good movie or a sunset. Hold a loved one’s hand or wear your favorite shirt. Pay attention to how the instruments blend together in your favorite song or the way your friends’ voices vary.
  2. Sabbath every seven days. Party people have learned to Sabbath regularly. Sabbath simply means doing whatever reconnects you with God and refills your tank physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Busy? Set an appointment to Sabbath. Put it on the calendar and protect the time. And only do what refills and reconnects you.
  3. Spend time with friends. Throw a party with a purpose. Pick a Sabbath to gather with friends who refill your tank and help you reconnect with God. Savor your senses together. Serve a meal, swap stories, play games, music, or dance.

Life with God is good. It is to be enjoyed and celebrated. And the invitation to follow Jesus is an invitation to enjoy life. So, take some time this fall to become more like God and party.

The Cost of NOT…

Everything costs something. From buying a bottle of ketchup to getting married, every action has a cost.

But, have you considered the cost of not?

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Decide not to exercise? There’s a cost. Choose not to do your homework? Cost. Opt not to pay your taxes? High cost. Wise Christians count the cost of doing and the cost of not doing.  So how do you know when it’s wise to do and not to do?  That’s the question.

Below are five filters for evaluating if you should do or not to do something.

  1. Will it contradict God’s command? Always obey God’s clear commands from the Bible. Align your actions, because He knows how life works best and He loves you. If you can’t find a command, then see if God has provided a principle. King David wrote that God’s word was a lamp for his feet lighting his path not because it commanded every decision he should make, but because its practical principles gave him guidance (Psalm 119:105). Chances are someone else in Scripture has faced a similar situation. See how God led them and follow suite.
  2. Is it the best time? Proverbs 27:14 says, “If you wake your friend in the early morning by shouting ‘Rise and shine!’ it will sound to him more like a curse than a blessing.” Solomon is saying, even the right action at the wrong time makes it the wrong action. So, before you begin, ask yourself if now is the best time to proceed?
  3. Will it help or hurt others? Our actions impact others. An entire generation of Israelites missed out on entering the Promised Land because 10 men did not trust God (Numbers 13). Before choosing not to do, consider if it will it help or hurt others. God often guides us by the impact to others.
  4. Will it multiply your opportunities? Unsure what to do? Follow Paul’s example. He multiplied his opportunities even in prison. That decision led to many coming to faith even within Caesar’s household (Philippians 4:22). Consider the course of action that leads to more opportunities.
  5. Will it help you fulfill God’s mission in the world? Jesus commissioned us to make disciples wherever we go (Matthew 28:19-20). That’s why we are here. So, before deciding not to do something, ask yourself if your choice will hinder or help you accomplish your God-given, disciple-making mission.

 

Taking Your Next Steps in Prayer

prayerThis will come as no surprise, but we believe in prayer at Clear Creek. We have seen God restore marriages, heal broken bodies, and bring lost friends to faith.

Prayer is our first response, not our last resort.

Yet, there are seasons when prayer is hard.  We commit sin, face a setback, or a soul crushing loss and we can’t find the words. But these speedbumps don’t have to deflate our prayer lives.

Below are five thought-sparklers to help you pray when you don’t know what to say.

  1. Be Silent: Romans 8:26 says, “If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.” (MSG) So be silent. Let God’s Spirit pray for you. He will translate your silence into divine words handcrafted for God’s ears even when you don’t know what to say.
  2. Be Brief: More words do not mean God listens more. Jesus tells a story of a simple man with a simple prayer that God heard. “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” (Luke 18:13) You don’t have to impress God with your prayers. Just pick a word or two such as “Help me, Jesus” or “Give wisdom, Lord” and then stop. He hears you.
  3. Be Honest: Many Christians don’t pray because they are afraid of offending God. But here’s a secret: God already knows how you feel so you might as well tell Him. King David knew this. He was the first to pray, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1) David believed God was big enough to handle the truth of his feelings. So tell God how you feel.
  4. Borrow the Prayers of Others: Jesus did. In the worst moment of Jesus’ life, he prayed David’s words to express his anguish, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:47) If Jesus did it, then so can you. The Psalms are a treasure trove of prayers. Feeling anxious? Try Psalm 31. Excited about life? Psalm 103 may be for you. Thumb through the Psalms and borrow from those who have walked the path before you.
  5. Be Persistent: Don’t give up. Keep trying. Prayer, like any muscle, gets stronger the more it is exercised. In the dry, busy, or soul-crushing seasons of life, pray. And when you don’t know what to say, revisit this list and know that God hears you.