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Invincibility: Life or Death… I’m Good

Paul went from persecuting the church to being a persecuted apostle of the church. After his arrest in Jerusalem, during his first imprisonment, he wrote a letter to the Philippians in which he boldly declared this short but profound line…

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (1:21)

In other words… “If I live, I get to be all about Christ. If I die, I get to be with Christ, so either way, I’m good.” Here’s the thought that hit me – Paul was pretty much invincible at this point. Kill him and he’s with Jesus. Let him live and he’ll just live for Jesus. You can’t really hurt Paul.

I can think of plenty of things that could hurt me. Take away all my money, my time, or worse yet, take away my family and I’d be hurting. But I’d only hurt temporarily, or physically, or emotionally. Eternally? I’m good. We’re good. I won’t take money home with me and my family will meet me there.

Let me ask you an extremely important question… if someone took your life, would they be hurting you? If they let you live, would that cause pain for you too? Or are you firmly grounded and settled in an eternally secure relationship with Jesus?

As far as eternity is concerned, I’m invincible. Seems like I’ve always wanted that special power!

Rekindle the Flame of Love by Paying Attention Again

We don’t fall out of love. We stop choosing to do things that are loving. So the way back to love is to do the loving things we did early in our relationship. And that often starts with the simple step of paying attention again. Paul challenged the believers in Philippi, Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” (Philippians 2:3-4 NLT)

We usually measure the value of things in money, but for most of us there is one commodity even more precious than money. It’s our time. When we give our time, we never get it back, but it’s a worthy investment. When it comes to your spouse, your kids, your friends and family, nothing is more precious a gift than the time we are willing to spend in conversation, listening, sharing, and staying tuned in.

Giving our time and attention may seem simple, but it’s complicated by living in the age of distractions. The way we consume media, network with others, and allow our lives to revolve around mobile devices all affect our attention spans and how easily we are diverted to something seemingly more urgent, or at least more stimulating. Paying attention requires us to block out distractions and spend time focusing on the needs and lives of other people.

Thankfully, God is able in His infinite power and wisdom to tune into the lives of every single human being on the planet. How He does this is beyond our understanding, but He cares so deeply about you that He pays attention to every detail of your life. He knows every pain, every frustration, and every highlight too. You’ve got God’s attention. Does He have yours today?

Why I Believe in Positive Thinking

Shine On

I’m not a fan of what’s often called a “positive thinking” or “possibility thinking” theology That is, to say that we’re all basically good and just need to realize the power of the good within us could be referred to with the theological term, baloney. We’re depraved and sinful and desperately wicked. We need a Redeemer and a Savior, found only in the person of Jesus Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection.

Having said all of that, I do believe in the power of positive thinking to make a difference in our lives and the lives of others for a very simple reason, rooted in good common sense best spoken by Zig Ziglar…

Positive thinking won’t let you do anything, but it will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.

Now that makes sense. I also like the way Paul put it in Philippians 4:8:

Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (NLT)

I like positive thinking. The alternative kinda stinks.

photo credit: Marianone

When God Takes A City

We’re walking with the apostle Paul on Wednesday evenings and we’ve just received our call to Macedonia (modern-day Greece). We parted ways with Barnabas, taking Silas instead, and we picked up Timothy and Luke on the trip. In Philippi, God took the city for Himself! How did it happen?

On Saturday, one business woman named Lydia, a “seller of purple” came to faith in Christ along with her house. Then Paul caused a riot over God’s power to rescue a girl being used by adult men for monetary purposes. A jailer got saved and a bunch of prisoners’ lives were changed forever. In Thessalonica, another riot.

As I watch Paul through the eyes of Luke (the writer of Acts), I get the feeling that the gospel was influential and divisive wherever it was taken. People reacted with warm embrace or heated rejection, but nobody was neutral, and everyone took notice. Riots usually ensued.

Out of this wild and crazy second missionary journey of the apostle Paul comes these three realizations of what it looks like when God takes a city for Himself, such as Philippi…

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Striving for Holiness

I’ll just try harder. That’s the mentality of most people who are trying to be good Christians. “Well, I tried and I blew it, so I’ll just try harder.” The problem is that God resists the proud, so the more you think you can handle sin and temptation on your own, the less God will help. But He gives grace to the humble, so when you admit your helplessness, God comes to the rescue and gives grace, which provides strength.

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