Are You Living On Christ, Or For Christ

This morning, I was reading from Charles Spurgeon’s book, Morning and Evening and came across a powerfully convicting passage

Some Christians are for living on Christ, but are not so anxious to live for Christ.

How true that statement is.

I don’t know about you, but in my own life it can be so easy to fall into the temptation of thinking it’s all about what God has, can and will do for me. And while God’s involvement in my life is so special, the truth is, it’s not all about me.

I teach a class at Northwest University for children’s ministry majors and we were reflecting yesterday on this same idea within the context of teaching the Bible to children. All too often we pick and choose Bible stories and make David or Jonah, or Noah, or Zacchaeus the main character when in reality God is the central character in all of those stories in the same way that He should be the central character in all of ours.

While it is an incredible blessing to have God watching over me, providing for me, guiding me… my focus should be on how I can use God’s blessing to serve Him and not myself.

My life is to be as Spurgeon puts it, “live[d] for Christ” not “liv[ed] on Christ.” The difference in wording may be subtle but the  application is profound.

In your own life, how do you take steps to make sure God is the main character in your story, and that you serve Him in all you do?

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Add It To Your Playlist

As we return to blogging after a several week summer break I want to share with you a great new FREE album via Noisetrade.com inspired by the writing of C.S. Lewis. The album is called, “The Weight of Glory” and it is by Heath McNease.

– DM

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A Community Wide Legacy

When I heard about the passing of Kathi Goertzen yesterday it hurt. While I never had the opportunity to meet her, on some level she had an impact on me whether I realized it prior to yesterday or not.

I suppose year after year of watching her share the news with me and my family  made her an honorary member of my family.

And it hurts when you lose a family member…

This line of thinking caused me to ask myself, what sort of legacy am I leaving behind? When I die will I have been able to positively impact the lives of others? Will my impact on the community extend beyond my immediate circle of family and friends?

Kathi’s impact was far reaching and while mine might not be as vast, it is my hope that it will be at least as significant. I hope it will be a legacy built around a love for Christ and the demonstration of that love to others.

What about you? What sort of legacy do you hope to leave?

 

-DM

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“Jonah’s Druthers” Follow Up: Part 5 – What Is Their Name?

Today’s post is the most basic of the week and the question for both kids and adults is the same.

Who is God calling you to reach out to?

Think of their name, think of your relationship with them, think of how you can begin to proactively introduce them to what it means to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.

This won’t necessarily be easy and you might not necessarily always want to engage with this person. But with a little prayer and the support of friends and family, God will not only give you the words to say but the courage and opportunities to say them.

-DM

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“Jonah’s Druthers” Follow Up: Part 4 – Reach Others, With Others

The idea of reaching out to someone on your own can be a scary, but often times you don’t have to do it on your own. If you have been around MVPC for any length of time you know that we are passionate about doing life together through small groups. We see small groups as a great environment to study scripture, experience care and also serve the church and local community. The following are a few ways you might be able to work with others to establish a connect with someone you believe God is calling you to reach out to.

 

– Have a BBQ or party with your small group/friends and invite this person to join you.

– Invite this person to go participate in an event or activity that you like to do with others.

– Offer to help this person with a project around their house and bring some friends.

– Invite this person’s kids (if them have them) to have a play date with your kids and your friend’s kids.

– If you and your friends have a particular skill in common, offer those services to this person.

– Make a gift with your friends/small group and share that with this person.

 

As you can see there are many ways to engage in relationship with someone God is calling you to reach out to with other people whom you already have a relationship with. Take advantage of these opportunities as they can help ease some of the fear you might be feeling and they can help to introduce the person God has place on your heart to other important people in your life who might also be able to help share God’s love.

 

Questions For Kids:

Take some time to have a conversation about the value of serving together with other people and use the following questions to direct the conversation.

1. Why is serving important?

2. Why might it be good to serve along side other people?

3. Who are some friends that you could serve with?

4. In what ways could you serve together?

Conclude your conversation by planning a time for your kids to serve together with some of their friends.

 

-DM

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“Jonah’s Druthers” Follow Up: Part 3 – Prayer

How often do we pray for God to give us conversations about faith with people who don’t have a relationship with Christ? I know in my own prayer life they aren’t always a staple. I’m good at praying for my needs, the needs of my family and various other people and situations as they arise, but I wouldn’t call prayers for nerve racking conversations about faith a daily part of my prayer life.

But what if they were?

What if as a regular part of my prayer life and your prayer life we prayed for theses types of encounters?

What if we prayed daily for daily conversations about our faith?

Do you think God would oblige us?

My guess is that He would. My guess is that if we were heartfelt in our prayers for conversations of faith with people who don’t yet know God he would be more than happy to provide those for us, or open our eyes to the many opportunities for such conversations already around us.

Perhaps the question we need to ask ourselves is are we ready to to pray such a prayer. If not we might need to ask ourselves why we’re not ready and if we are, we should ask why we have not be praying such a prayer all along.

There is no doubt about the fact that this is a scary prayer, but it’s the type of prayer that has the power to change the lives of others and reignite our own faith.

Prayer for Kids:

Take some time to pray again with your kid(s) about people in their lives who don’t know God. Ask God to give your children opportunities to share their faith and allow you kid(s) to pray on their own for these people/opportunities as well. Additionally take time to pray for God to give them wisdom and the words to say when these opportunities arrise. Consider making this a regular part of your prayer times together.

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“Jonah’s Druthers” Follow Up: Part 2 – “Love Does”

I started skimming through a book the other day called “Love Does” by Bob Goff and came across the following quote:

Something happens when you feel ownership. You no longer act like a spectator or consumer, because you’re an owner. Faith is at its best when it’s that way too. It’s best lived when it’s owned.

Hmm… isn’t that a convicting sort of thought. While I can speak only for myself, there have been plenty of times in my life when I have been a spectator/consumer Christian, perfectly content to allow those around me to do all of the heavy lifting. I have been content to think that someone else will step up to meet this need or that, or share the Gospel with someone struggling to win one of life’s battles.

And yet we are called to deny ourselves and daily take up our cross if we are to truly be a disciple of Christ (Luke 9:23). This isn’t something that passively happens but it takes effort. It takes ownership of our faith.

James 2:14-26 reminds us that if we claim to have faith, it should be accompanied by deeds that support our claim. This most definitely includes being obedient when we are called to reach out to someone, whether that is our neighbor or in the case of Jonah the Ninevites.

Our faith is as Bob Goff says, “best lived when it’s owned.”

So my question for you to wrestle with today is are you owning your faith? Do you feel as those you are intentionally living for Christ or are you passively going through the motions? Do you believe that when God calls you to do something, your active obedience will truly make an eternal impact?

Owning your faith is a difficult task at times but it is essential to having a vibrant, intimate relationship with Christ. Moreover it is essential to helping other experience that same type of relationship.

As the title of Goff’s book implies a love for and a faith in God is active. Love Does. So consider what it means for you to own and live an active faith.

Questions For Kids:

1. What does it mean to love someone?

2. How do you show someone that you love them?

3. If God wants us to show love to others, do you think we should take that seriously?

4. How can we show God’s love to other people?

5. Why do you think God might want us to show His love to other people?

Conclude by explaining that sharing God’s love with other people is one of the best ways to demonstrate that you have faith in God and a relationship with with Him.

-David Miles (DM)

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“Jonah’s Druthers” Follow Up: Part 1

Wasn’t yesterday’s performance of Jonah’s Druthers by the performing arts camp awesome?! What an incredibly talented group of people we have here at MVPC. Moreover we have people who are passionate about communicating scripture in creative and innovative ways.

As I mentioned during my brief follow up to yesterday’s production, all week long I am going to be sharing scripture, questions, reflections, readings, prayers, etc. to help us unpack one of the key themes in the book of Jonah and that is this…

God calls us to talk to people that we would not call to talk to on our own.

By this I mean that God often will put us in situations to engage in relationship and conversation with people that we might not ordinarily look to associate or socialize with. However, just because we may not desire to have such engagement does not mean that we can avoid it, if we truly are looking to obey God.

In chapter 6 of the book of Isaiah, the prophet Isaiah is being commissioned and we see two significantly different things than we do when God calls Jonah to go to Nineveh.

1. Isaiah recognizes that he himself does not measure up to God’s standard and is a sinner (Isaiah 6:5). Jonah on the other hand holds firmly to a perspective that seems to indicate the he views himself as significantly superior to the Ninevites and more deserving of God’s grace (Jonah 4).

2. In response to the the Lord’s question of “Whom shall I send?” Isaiah immediately says, “Here I am. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8). Jonah on the other hand not only doesn’t volunteer to go where God desires for him to go, but actively flees (Jonah 1:1-3).

While both were men of God, they demonstrate to completely opposite responses to God’s call.

How do you respond when God calls you to do something? More specifically, how have you responded when God has called you to reach out to someone who is not living a life pleasing to God (think about specific people)?

Is your first reaction to look down upon them? Do you view yourself better and more deserving of God’s grace?

When God calls you to do something difficult do you respond more like Jonah or more like Isaiah?

Take a moment to leave a comment regarding what you believe often causes people to resist reaching out to those who are lost and in need of God’s grace. What societal challenges are there? What do you personally find to be something that holds you back?

Questions for kids:

To start this conversation ask each child if they understand that God can use them to tell people about Jesus and then follow up with some of the questions below.

1. How do you feel about the fact that God can use you to tell people about Jesus?

2. Who do you know that needs to know about Jesus?

3. Why is it sometimes hard to tell people about God?

4. Have you ever wanted to tell some about God’s love or what it means to have a relationship with Jesus? Who was that person and what did you say to them?

5. What are some good ways that kids can tell other people about God’s love?

Take some time to wrap the conversation up by having each child pray specifically for people they know that need to have a relationship with Jesus.

-David Miles (DM)

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The Hidden Talent of Brian Keiper

As was mentioned on Sunday, our very own Brian Keiper had a hidden talent until VBS last week. Watch this!

VBS Worship and Brian Keiper’s Secret Talent from Maple Valley Presbyterian on Vimeo.

You Are In Our Prayers

Today we keep in our prayers those impacted by the shooting in Colorado. It is hard to imagine what the family and friends of the victims are feeling today but we trust that God can provide them with peace, comfort and strength.

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