The Graceful Act of Being Called Out

Let a righteous man strike me–it is a kindness;

let him rebuke me–it is oil for my head;

let my head not refuse it. – Psalm 141:5a (ESV)

We don’t like it when someone points out our mistakes.  It hurts, we get defensive, we make excuses, we deny the reality of what we have done.  Sometimes an accusation is unmerited and untrue, but when we find ourselves connected to others in the community of faith, we’ve got to understand how graceful it is to be called out.

Our deepest and most loving relationships must be strong enough to be honest with one another.  When we’ve been hurt by someone else or when we see them acting in ways that are harmful to themselves or those around them, we have to love them enough to confront them.  Of course we must do this with grace.  We must do this because we love them.  We are not looking to harm them.  In fact, to simply ignore what they are doing or have done is unloving.  It would be like watching my child play in the street during 5 o’clock rush hour, and refusing to go get them.  I know their going to get hit, but because the conversation may be uncomfortable, I’ll just let them continue.  To avoid conflict and difficult conversations is not loving our brothers and sisters well.

Not only must we be willing to confront those we love, but we must also be willing to receive the rebuke.   We all have blind spots.  We are all in process when it comes to our spiritual journey with Jesus.  God gives us each other to help us grow.  I have come to a place in my own life where when confronted, my default is to assume they are correct, especially when it is someone whom I know loves me.  It doesn’t mean I don’t still wrestle with denial and excuse making.

Brothers and sisters, God has given us one another as a display of His love and grace.  May we help one another, encourage one another, and when needed rebuke one another for our good and God’s glory.

Rest in Jesus,

Andy

Join Us for Colonial Heights Tuesday Morning Prayer

Prayer.  The gift of God that allows us to communicate with and hear from Him.  Through it we can make our requests known.  We can pour out our hearts to our Creator and Savior.  In prayer, we have access to the throne room of God.  Through prayer we receive guidance and direction.  We can know God intimately through prayer, and yet, prayer is one of the most underutilized disciplines of the spiritual life.

Paul tells us to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess. 5:17).  The request of the disciples to Jesus wasn’t “teach us to heal” or “teach us to perform miracles,” but was “teach us to pray.”  The disciples saw that Jesus spent time each day praying to the Father before the work of ministry ever began.  They knew prayer to be the power source for the life and ministry of the Messiah, and therefore, wanted to know how to pray as Jesus prayed.

Today, we have the Spirit of God and the Word of God to guide our prayers, and still we find it difficult to consistently pray.  This post is not designed to diagnose why this is the case, nor is it intended to exhaustively explain the importance or place of prayer in the life of a follower of Jesus.

I recently tweeted,

“Prayer must be the engine that drives everything done in the local church.  Without prayer all activity is done with the limit of our ability.”

I’m sure that is not original to me, but is probably a combination of things I have recently read and studied when it comes to the topic and discipline of prayer.  We need to pray individually, and we need to come together as the church and pray.

In light of this need, Colonial Heights will begin opening the Worship Center on Tuesday mornings from 6:30-7:30am for the body of Christ to come together and pray.  This is not the traditional Southern Baptist “prayer meeting” where we spend much of our time hearing a devotional thought or Bible study followed by 5-10 minutes of prayer.  This meeting will be primarily dedicated to praying, both individually and together with those who have gathered.

Here is what the typical morning will look like:

Someone will lead the meeting by sharing a very brief call to prayer.  This could be a passage of scripture, a great quote about prayer, or something else.  We will distribute a prayer sheet focusing on a selection of verses followed by how our prayer for that morning will be guided by what we see in these verses.  You’ll then be released to walk throughout the worship center, find a seat, kneel at the altar, or lie face down as you cry out to God.  We will have soft music playing to create a worshipful environment for prayer.  Feel free to open your Bible, bring a journal to record things that God speaks to you as you pray, or simply focus on the prayer sheet for that morning.  We will gather together once again around 7:20 to wrap up our time so you can leave by 7:30 to make it to work.

Throughout history, all great revivals began when the people of God took prayer seriously.  It is the desire of the staff and leadership of Colonial Heights to see God break out in revival, not only in our church, but in our community, state, nation and world.  This will not happen through a program.  It will only happen through prayer. We are praying that this time together on Tuesday mornings will be catalytic in seeing God move in and through the Body of Christ at Colonial Heights Baptist Church.

Please join us next Tuesday, March 24 at 6:30am as we cry out to God together!

Rest in Jesus,

Andy

Knowing God Through His Word

And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.  And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord. And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord. – 1 Samuel 3:19-21 (ESV)

Notice how the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel.  It was by the Word of the Lord that Samuel knew the Lord.  Samuel knew the Lord through the prophetic dreams and visions he received.  He also knew Him through studying the Law.  God reveals Himself to us in the same way today.

Certainly we can still experience dreams and visions, but primarily, God reveals Himself to us through the 66 Divinely inspired books of the Bible.  Years ago the discipleship ministry known as The Navigators developed an illustration to help us see the ways in which we can interact with the Word of God.  It was called the hand illustration.

hand illustration

We hear, read, study, memorize, and meditate upon the Bible, and through this, we get the blessing of knowing its author so we can in turn make its author known.

Today’s Challenge: Take some time to thank God for His word.  Sunday is great opportunity to participate in each of these five practices.  As you prepare to gather with your local church family, pay close attention to how you interact with God’s Word today.  Can you practice all five of these disciplines?  I assure you, if you do, like Samuel, you’ll be closer to your Heavenly Father!

Rest in Jesus,

Andy

That’s a Wrap!

Today is day 10 of the “10-Day Do Over Challenge” by Jon Acuff.  This challenge is designed to help you focus on an area of your life for which you want to call a “do over.”  The awesome thing about the challenge is that anyone can participate.  All of us have “do overs” we’d like to take when it comes to things in our lives.  This challenge is designed to help you become intentional about taking steps toward reaching that goal.

My “do over” was this blog, restinjesus.me.  Restinjesus.me launched in May of 2011 with my hope being to share thoughts and encouragement for readers to engage in the work of the Great Commission of Jesus Christ of making disciples.  As the discipleship pastor at Colonial Heights Baptist Church, my hope was that our congregation could use this site as a home for resources and direction for their individual efforts in disciple-making.  What I soon realized was that maintaining a current blog on top of all of life’s other priorities is hard!  As a result, I can look back over the life of this site and see periods of great consistency followed by seasons of complete inactivity.

Therefore, using restinjesus.me as my focus for the 10-day challenge was a perfect fit.  I didn’t succeed at posting something every day for 10 days, but my total time invested in the site for the 10-day period was 330 minutes, and that’s AWESOME!!!  I’ve been reminded through this challenge that reaching a goal, no matter how large, can happen through taking small steps each day.  Consistency has been the key for my success in this challenge, and that’s exactly what Jon Acuff encouraged in the daily exercises.

My hope is to keep going.  I don’t want this to be like so many Bible studies that have been completed in the past where once the final blank in the workbook is filled, it gets placed on a shelf never to be studied again.  This challenge is something I will return to often.  In fact, Acuff offers a follow-up challenge called “30 Days of Hustle” that serves as a next step.  Tomorrow will mark the beginning of that challenge for me.

What about you?  What is it in your life that you wish you could “do over?”  Don’t put it off.  Today could be the first day of seeing your life changed forever.

Rest in Jesus

Andy

P.S. For more information about Jon Acuff, his new book Do Over, the 10-Day Do Over Challenge, or 30 Days of Hustle, click here.

From East to West

I love the Psalms.  It’s God’s song book.  It’s loaded with powerful truth about our great God and His great love, protection and provision for us.  If you find that your prayer life is in a rut, just open to the Psalms and begin praying in light of what you read there.  This has become one of my favorite daily practices.

This morning I was in Psalm 103; one of my favorites!  This Psalm is loaded with praise for our great God in light of all that He has done for us.  The first portion is a reminder of “all his benefits.”  David, the writer of Psalm 103, lists them:

  1. …forgives all your iniquity
  2. …heals all your diseases,
  3. …redeems your life from the pit,
  4. …crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
  5. …satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
  6. …works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
  7. …merciful and gracious
  8. …slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

Continue reading

Discipleship is Relational

Here is a video from Downline Ministries featuring Jeff Schulte of the Sage Hill Institute discussing how true discipleship according to the Word of God must be relational to be effective.  I hope this video encourages you as you pursue a life of making disciples.  Near the end of the 4 minute video you’ll see a link to the complete interview with Jeff.

For more information about Downline Ministries click here.

For more information about the Sage Hill Institute click here.

Rest in Jesus,

Andy

Don’t Quit!

Today marks Day 6 of the 10-Day Do Over Challenge by Jon Acuff.  This challenge is designed to help me work on something in my life for which I wish I could call a “do over.”  Small ten minute exercises each day are designed to gain momentum and focus toward achieving the goal.  My goal was to become more consistent with my writing here at restinjesus.me.  If you’ve been keeping up, you’ll notice I haven’t succeeded every day.  Just this morning, I received a text from a good friend I had asked to hold me accountable and offer encouragement for this challenge because he didn’t see a post yesterday.  I’m grateful for his text and encouragement.  I’m even more grateful for the exercise for Day 6.

“Don’t let ten minutes turn into forever” is the title for today’s challenge.  Today, Jon Acuff, offers encouragement to people like me who haven’t perfectly executed the first six days of this challenge; to press on even when we stumble.  DON’T QUIT!!!

I have a tendency, like many, to allow a small hiccup along the journey to totally derail my pursuit of a goal.  One of the greatest examples of this is Bible reading plans.  There are so many plans that exist today, designed to help people become consistent in their reading of God’s Word.  Unfortunately, perfectionist types, like me, can’t stand to fail, and therefore allow a day missed here or there to lead to complete abandonment of the pursuit.  “I’ll try again next January!”

This mindset is crippling, and ultimately will not only prevent you from reaching a goal you set, but more importantly keep you from understanding God’s grace and the work of sanctification (big word for spiritual growth) that takes place in our lives as we pursue Christ.  Bob Warren, the man who first discipled me as a new Christian, shared this with me, and it was transformational.  In light of the gospel and God’s grace toward me as His child, Bob said, “Andy, you are free to fail.”  God’s grace is there to cover our mistakes, pick us up when we fall, dust us off, and encourage us to try again.

If I don’t understand this truth, I will “let ten minutes turn into forever” and cripple me.  I’ll never reach the goal.  I’ll never grow in grace.  I’ll never become all that God intends for me as His child.  Don’t let this happen to you.  Embrace the grace, mercy and forgiveness of God.  Acknowledge that you will fail, and that’s ok!  What’s not ok is to quit!

But he (Jesus) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)

Rest in Jesus,

Andy

 

An Amazing Morning

Today is Day 4 of the 10-Day Do Over Challenge by Jon Acuff.  In my continuing effort to relaunch restinjesus.me by becoming more consistent in encouraging others by sharing what God is teaching me through His Word and through others, I give you a brief recap of this morning’s worship services at Colonial Heights Baptist Church, where I serve as the pastor of Discipleship and Assimilation.

Today marks week 2 of our annual March Missions Madness emphasis where the focus of everything we do points us toward the mission of taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations.  Colonial Heights is an incredible church with an amazing missions ministry.  Today we heard from our interim pastor, Stan Buckley about the work that he is leading in Haiti.  Stan leads a mission ministry named, But God that focuses on bringing the hope and love of Jesus Christ through the Gospel to a people who are in desperate need.

Read more about Stan’s ministry here

For you non-readers, here is a six-minute video that gives a recap of But God Ministries.

This morning was an incredibly powerful morning from the musical worship set dedicated to songs that declare our God is a mighty warrior who goes before us, to the testimony of a member who has answered the call to go on his first foreign mission trip this year, to the message from Stan, to the commissioning of a college sophomore who will be spending her spring break in Guatemala serving in an orphanage. God is at work in and through Colonial Heights.  We are a church that takes seriously the call of God to take the Gospel to the nations.  I am so glad that God has called us to serve here, and look forward to hearing the testimonies of His power at work through all of our mission efforts in 2015.

Rest in Jesus,

Andy

10-Day Do Over Challenge Day 3 – Accountability and Encouragement

Today is Day 3 of the 10-Day Do Over Challenge.  Reach Out.  Today is all about accountability and encouragement.  I was challenged today to reach out to someone who can hold me accountable and encourage me to reach my goal.  We were created for community.  We thrive in relationships, and this challenge is no exception.  Sharing our ambitions and goals with others is a great step in reaching those goals, but taking this one step further improves our chances for success.  Inviting the person you share with to ask you about how its going and to encourage you is a great step.  You know they’re going to ask you about it, so you know you need to make progress.  It’s not just the fear of embarrassment that leads to greater potential, but, more importantly, the encouragement they offer as you work toward your goal.

So what is a goal you have set for yourself?  Does anyone else know about it?  If not, have the courage to share it with someone today.  Ask them to check in from time to time to see how its going.  Your potential for success is greatly increased as you do.

Remember, if you’d like to participate in your own 10-Day Do Over Challenge, find out more by visiting http://acuff.me/10ddoc/

Rest in Jesus,

Andy

The 10 Day “Do Over Challenge” by Jon Acuff

Yesterday marked the beginning of my first swing at the “10 Day Do Over Challenge” by Jon Acuff.  For the next 10 days, I will be spending 10 minutes focused on a specific area or action of my life that I would like to “do over.”  My “do over” is this blog, restinjesus.me.  When I first started writing, my ambition was to record and share what God was teaching me through the study of His word, to link to great things I had read, to encourage Christians to take seriously the call on their lives to make disciples, as well as anything else that may come to my mind.  As I look back over the history of this blog, there have been seasons of consistency, but for the most part, the blog has sat dormant and unused.

This is why I have chosen restinjesus.me for my “10 Day Do Over Challenge.”  The exercises have been thought provoking thus far, and my hope is by the end, I will find myself spending more time using this blog for its originally intended purpose…to be a blessing to those who read it.

For more information about the “10 Day Do Over Challenge” and how you can take part, visit http://acuff.me/10ddoc/

So what’s your “do over” and how will you pursue it?

Rest in Jesus,

Andy