Lunch With A Friend

Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. – Hebrews 13:18

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Only the good news of Jesus Christ encourages us to honestly think about who we really are and to address our shortcomings in a way that won’t cause us to wrongly rely upon our own efforts.

Let me explain with this example: A while back I had lunch with a non-Christian friend. As we ate, we began discussing spiritual things. I made reference to the prodigal son, and no sign of recognition crossed his face. He’d never heard the story; he knew nothing about the Bible.

As the conversation progressed, he got around to stating his theology: namely, good people make it to heaven. He considered himself a kind, loving, and good person. And without a doubt, he’s one of the nicest people I know. But as we talked longer, he discussed his internet relationships with women ready to leave their husbands to live with him. His “goodness,” as he called it, gave these women new hope about men.

I felt compelled to challenge his thinking. “What would these ladies’ husbands think of your so-called goodness?” I asked. “Has this ‘goodness‘ ever prompted you to call one of these men and ask if he minded that you were having an internet relationship with his wife?” As it turned out, his “goodness” wasn’t as good as he thought it was.

Rely upon God’s goodness. As good as you think you might be, that goodness is nothing next to His.
– Steve Arterburn

Reason often makes mistakes, but conscience never does.
– Josh Billings

Are You Fitting In?

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you. – John 15:19

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“Don’t love the world’s ways.  Don’t love the world’s goods,” wrote the apostle John.  When he wrote of “the world,” he meant everything in life that ran counter to staying connected to Jesus; everything that contradicts what the Bible teaches and undermines a life of faith and discipleship.  Indeed, the world has a different take on how we should live.  Many today believe that all ideas are valid; that no one is wrong, because no absolute truth exists.

We are encouraged to believe whatever we want in the name of tolerance and diversity, no one’s viewpoint can be dismissed.  But Jesus presents Himself to us as the Truth, meaning all so-called truths must be measured against Him if they are to truly be considered truths.

Jesus Christ’s message to his disciples is His message to you: Fitting in with the world isn’t the mark of a follower of Christ.

– Steve Arterburn

A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

A Perplexing Life

I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction. But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:18

A Perplexing Life

In his book, The Treasure Principle, Randy Alcorn tells the story of his family’s trip to Egypt. While driving through the hot and dusty streets of Cairo, they passed a graveyard for American missionaries and decided to enter. One sun-scorched tombstone in particular caught their attention. At the top it read: William Borden, 1887-1913.

What makes Borden so interesting is that he was a Yale graduate, and the heir to great wealth. Yet he rejected a life of ease in order to help bring the gospel to Egypt. He gave away hundreds of thousands of dollars to missions, and after only four months of ministry in Egypt, he contracted spinal meningitis and died at age twenty-five.

At the bottom of William Borden’s tombstone is the powerful little statement: “Apart from faith in Christ, there is no explanation for such a life.”

The gospel doesn’t merely take the world’s wisdom and “clean it up.” It doesn’t teach us to simply sing the world’s song dressed up in a religious vocabulary. No, the gospel sets the wisdom of the world upon its head, and counts it as foolishness. The gospel introduces an entirely new set of values and concerns, and an entirely new way of looking at life.

Steve Arterburn 

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” – C.S. Lewis (1895–1963)

The Meaning of Sacrifice

Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. – Philippians 2:5–7

The Meaning of Sacrifice

To make headway in your relationships, incorporate sacrificial acts of love; letting Jesus be your ultimate role model. Consider Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet. This act of submission wasn’t about showing off His superior humility or sensitivity. Setting an example wasn’t even Jesus’ primary motive. Listen to what the Bible says in the 13th chapter in the book of John:

 “It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love . . . So he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet.

Why don’t we do the same for those we love? The sacrifice of submission and service will speak to others, and it will do something inside you that you can’t explain . . . that you have to experience.

– Steve Arterburn

Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness.– Napoleon Hill (1883–1970)

Navigating the World

. . . I gave you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. 1 Timothy 1:18-19

Navigating the World

Jesus Christ calls his followers to be in the world but not of the world. What does this mean? One famous preacher explained it using an analogy of a ship in the ocean.

What’s a ship designed to do? Sail upon the ocean. That’s its element. That’s precisely where it thrives. The same should be true for Christians in the world. God equips and empowers us to love our neighbors, care for our home and our  possessions, and develop culture. We’re to be the world’s salt and light!

Now let’s return to the ship analogy for a moment. What happens if the ocean gets into the ship? Disaster. Destruction. The ship sinks. The same is true for Christians with regard to the world. If the world’s values and allegiances penetrate you, you’ll become hopelessly confused, contradicted, and compromised.

Set sail, but keep your ship in shape by staying close to God. Read His word. Become a disciple. Spend time with others who believe. You need to be in the world . . . not of it.

Steve Arterburn

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.” – Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)

Believing God’s Promises

We must study God’s Word eagerly and consistently because it’s a map, an instruction manual for our lives. As the psalmist said, Scripture is “a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our paths.” Yet there’s an important discipline to consider when we spend time in Scripture: and that is believing God’s promises.

Believing God's Promises

Listen to a few:

  • God is always near and will never forsake you.
    Psalm 37:28 says ‘For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. They will be protected forever.’
  • God also has good plans for you.
    Jeremiah 29:11 says, ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
  • God listens to you when you pray.
    Jeremiah 29:13 communicates this promise: ‘You will find me when you seek me with all your heart.
  • God will forgive you when you fail.
    The prophet Micah tells us in Micah 7:18, ‘Who is a God like you, who pardons sins and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?

From first to last, Scripture is filled with God’s promises to us. And men, it’s only the promises of God that call forth our faith, fill us with hope and love, and nourish courage to live in the world, but not of the world. Therefore, friend, it’s imperative that you and I endeavor to believe God’s promises to us.

– Steve Arterburn

Finding and Sharing Encouragement

Finding and Sharing Encouragement

Timely advice is as lovely as golden apples in a silver basket. – Proverbs 25:11 NLT

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Life is a team sport, and all of us need occasional pats on the back from our teammates. This world can be a difficult place, a place where many of our friends and family members are troubled by the stresses and challenges of everyday life. And since we cannot always be certain who needs our help, we should strive to speak helpful words to all who cross our paths.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (4:29 NIV).

This passage reminds us that, as Christians, we are instructed to choose our words carefully so as to build others up through wholesome, honest encouragement. How can we build others up? By celebrating their victories and their accomplishments. As the old saying goes, “When someone does something good, applaud—you’ll make two people happy.”

As a faithful follower of Jesus, you have every reason to be hopeful, and you have every reason to share your hopes with others. When you do, you will discover that hope, like other human emotions, is contagious. So do the world (and yourself) a favor: Look for the good in others and celebrate the good that you find. When you do, you’ll be a powerful force of encouragement to your friends and family . . . and a worthy servant to your God.

He climbs highest who helps another up.   ~Zig Ziglar

No journey is complete that does not lead through some dark valleys. We can properly comfort others only with the comfort we ourselves have been given by God.   ~Vance Havner

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Heavenly Father, because I am Your child, I am blessed. You have loved me eternally, cared for me faithfully, and saved me through the gift of Your Son Jesus. Just as You have lifted me up, Lord, let me lift up others in a spirit of encouragement, optimism and hope. And, if I can help a fellow traveler, even in  a small way, dear Lord, may the glory be Yours. Amen

The Simple Life

The Simple Life

Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom.  – Matthew 18:4 MSG

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Want to reduce stress during these turbulent times? Here’s a simple solution: Simplify your life. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. After all, you live in a world where simplicity is in short supply.

Think for a moment about the complexity of your everyday life and compare it to the lives of your ancestors. Certainly, you are the beneficiary of many technological innovations, but those innovations have a price: in all likelihood, your world is highly complex. Unless you take firm control of your time and your life, you may be overwhelmed by a stress-inducing tidal wave of complexity that threatens your happiness.

Your Heavenly Father understands the joy of living simply, and so should you. So do yourself a favor: Keep your life as simple as possible. Simplicity is, indeed, genius. By simplifying your life, you are destined to improve it.

Simplicity reaches out after God; purity discovers and enjoys Him.   ~Thomas À Kempis

It is part of Satan’s program to make our faith complicated and involved. Now and then, we need a rediscovery of the simplicity that is in Christ and in our faith in Him.   ~Vance Havner

The most powerful life is the most simple life. The most powerful life is the life that knows where it’s going, that knows where the source of strength is; it is the life that stays free of clutter and happenstance and hurriedness. ~Max Lucado

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, help me keep it simple. When I complicate my life, give me the wisdom to simplify. The world values complexity, Father, but You do not. Today, I will strive to keep my thoughts focused intently on Your Word, on Your love, and on Your Son.  Amen

He Overcomes

He Overcomes

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. –  John 16:33 NKJV

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The hope that the world offers is fleeting and imperfect. The hope that God offers is unchanging, unshakable, and unending. It is no wonder, then, that when we seek security from worldly sources, our hopes are often dashed and our stresses are often increased. Thankfully, God has no such record of failure.

Where will you place your hopes today? Will you entrust your future to man or to God? Will you seek solace exclusively from fallible human beings, or will you place your hopes, first and foremost, in the trusting hands of your Creator? The decision is yours, and you must live with the results of the choice you make.

For thoughtful believers, hope begins with God. Period. So today, as you embark upon the next stage of your life’s journey, consider the words of the Psalmist: “You are my hope; O Lord GOD, You are my confidence” (71:5 NASB). Then, place your trust in the One who cannot be shaken.

Without the certainty of His resurrection, we would come to the end of this life without hope, with nothing to anticipate except despair and doubt. But because He lives, we rejoice, knowing soon we will meet our Savior face to face, and the troubles and trials of this world will be behind us.   ~Billy Bright

Oh, remember this: There is never a time when we may not hope in God. Whatever our necessities, however great our difficulties, and though to all appearance help is impossible, yet our business is to hope in God, and it will be found that it is not in vain.   ~George Mueller

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Lord, let my hopes always reside in You. If I become discouraged, let me turn to You. If I grow tired, let me find strength in You. You are my Father, and I will place my faith,  my trust, and my hopes in You. Amen

The Choice to Forgive: Healing is a Choice Part 1

healingisachoiceThe Seventh Big Lie: ‘Forgiveness is only for those who deserve it or earn it.’

The fact that you are even reading these words is a miracle, because you have read a lot of stuff on forgiveness and understand everyone’s angle on it, and none of it does one bit of good for you and your situation. You have been abused, mistreated, or neglected in such a severe way that you believe that forgiveness of that person or persons is impossible for you to experience. You are a good and kind and loving person, but there is one person that you harbor a grudge against, and you plan on keeping it. The person does not deserve to be forgiven by you or by God. Anyone looking at what happened would say that you are totally entitled to your feelings.

If what I have described above is the way you feel, or you feel that way to a lesser degree, I am hoping and praying right now as I write this that this could be the time when everything changes for you. I am praying that as you read on I can help you walk through some steps and help you make some choices that lead you to the choice to forgive the unforgivable. And if you are someone who has not been hurt deeply, I pray that you will use these words to minister to someone else who is struggling because he or she is unable or unwilling to forgive. I pray that in the future if you are ever hurt deeply, you might come back to this and use it to walk out the anger, bitterness, and resentment.

The Most Dangerous Thing on Earth

We live in a world where danger and terror are all around us. We live with uncertainty each new day because we never know what might befall us. Since 9/11 most of us have a little more fear of terror in the world that might one day intersect with our personal world. There is something much more dangerous than a terrorist somewhere out there in the world that may or may not harm us one day. There is something worse, much worse than that. It is worse because it can exist within us and affect everything we do and the very person we become. That internal terrorist is called a ‘justifiable resentment’.

A lot of people have resentments. Some just seem to have a bad attitude about life, and they lean toward resenting everything. They resent paying taxes, paying more than a dollar for a gallon of gas, or being asked by their church to give money to support the new building campaign. They resent the person they are living with. That person is not bad, but the ‘resenter’ collects little things done over time and walks around with a huge collection of little things to hold against the person. It makes him feel a bit superior, so he hangs on to everything he can find. Resenters go through life pretty negative on anything and everything. They have a problem, but it is nothing like what I am going to describe. These petty resentments are real resentments, but they are not the type that will kill you.

A justifiable resentment is the type of resentment that will kill you. It is not about anything petty. It is about real and horrible abuse or mistreatment. It is about a real life event that anyone would say was terribly wrong, and most anyone would tell you that you are totally justified in feeling the way you do. Tenderhearted people will cry with you over it, and many probably have. All the evidence supports your feelings of anger, resentment, bitterness, and unwillingness to forgive. The other person does not deserve it, and no one wants him or her to have it. That is what I call a justifiable resentment.

Do you have a justifiable resentment? We’d like to help you. Call us at 800-NEWLIFE (639-5433).