Identity Crisis

I just finished a great book by Jarrett Stevens called “The Deity Formerly Known As GOD”. In his book he talks about destructive images we have about who God is and then describes constructive images that help us know who God really is. My favorite destructive image is Talent Show Judge, maybe a heavenly Simon? Many people including Christians have a wrong view of who God is, and because of those wrong views of God they have a wrong view of who they are. This book will help you understand a little better who God is; His character, His heart, and His view of little old us. I am not going to give you the cliff notes, go read the book. After reading this book I looked at myself in the mirror and asked myself Who are you?
Have you looked in the mirror lately, looked deep into your eyes and asked; Who are you? For many of us that is a scary thing to do. For one looking at yourself can be depressing (we are all getting older). Others of us may begin to talk to ourselves and make faces at ourselves. Isn’t it embarrassing when someone walks in on you when you are doing that? Anyway, it can also be scary because you may not like who you see. Maybe you don’t know who you really are or worse, maybe you don’t even like yourself. The identity crisis comes at that moment when you view yourself as a worthless sinner that can’t do anything right. You beat yourself up and put yourself down. Or maybe you think pretty highly of yourself and think you have it pretty well all together. I don’t need much help from anyone (including God). I am a good person that doesn’t hurt people and am pulling my weight. Let’s go back to the mirror. Who do you see? Who are you?
If you are a Christ follower the answer is very easy. If you have stepped across the line and decided to follow Jesus Christ as best you can then there is only one answer. You are a child of the Living God. God looks at you and sees a saint, a son, a daughter. If you are a parent you may have a small idea about how God feels about you. You love your children very much and you want them to be happy and succeed in life. Take that times 700 and you are a little closer to how much God loves and cares for you. It all starts with understanding who God is so that you can understand who you are. God desires to have a close intimate relationship with you and me. If you haven’t made that decision God still loves you and is waiting for you to come back to Him. Keep exploring and searching, because you will come face to face with a loving God that is pursuing you. So look in the mirror and tell yourself “You are a child of God”, that is the beginning of a beautiful new you, the one that God sees.

How is your compassion?

I was listening to a message by John Ortberg yesterday about the Power of Compassion. It really challenged me because he talked about going from intention to action. I don’t know about you but I often have good intentions. I intend to call a friend, exercise, finish the three books I am currently reading, tell my wife I love her, volunteer at a community organization, work on my budget and on and on. Just because I think about it or decide that I should do that doesn’t always translate into actually doing it or saying it.
It makes me feel good when I see someone else doing something good to help people. That is why most of us like to hear about stories of people making a difference. I like that and think that I should do something like that. Because I have these feeling of compassion it must mean that I am a compassionate person. My heart breaks for the hurting people in Mississippi & Louisiana, the children in Africa and around the world that are hungry and homeless. Because my heart breaks that must mean that I am compassionate. I think about all the great organizations that are helping people and think about getting involved. Because that is a desire of mine I must be a compassionate person. Well according to Jesus that does not make me a compassionate person. In Matthew chapter 21 verses 28-31 Jesus shares the Parable of the two sons; “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered ‘ I will, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did what the father wanted?”
Wow, that hit me hard, because I am often the second son, I have good intentions but do not go. The vineyard is whatever God is calling you to do. Actions speak louder than thoughts or words. Take courage, go and do instead of just thinking about it or talking about it.

Movie Review

My small group had movie night recently. Every so often we have a fun night where we don’t have discussion or a lesson. On Sunday night was our latest fun night and we decided to watch Facing the Giants. I understand that a church actually produced this movie. A lady in our church gave me a copy of this movie and said that it really helped here, because she was going through a difficult time in her life.
I have to say that this was a good movie. It wasn’t great because the acting was average, but the story was amazing. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone so all I will say is that I got choked up a few times. This is a movie about how Big God is and that no matter what, we need to put our trust in Him. We all have giants in our lives and if we focus on the giants we can quickly be overwhelmed. If we put our focus on God, that changes our perspective and God can accomplish incredible things in our lives. Facing the giants in our lives drives us to our knees and causes us to cry out to God for help and direction. Sometimes it is the wake up call we need to make changes in our life, attitude, priorities and relationships. I give it a 7 out of ten. Go ahead and watch it.

Mission Trips to MS

I am so excited about the upcoming trips to MS. I went in October of 2005 and it was the most memorable serving experience I have ever had. For me the trip itself was meaningful, because I built some great relationships. Two of the guys I went with ended up in my small group with their wives. Being able to serve the many families in need was also very rewarding. I got to see how grateful the people were and how thankful they were that we were willing to come. I can still see those faces and remember the stories.
I think everyone should go on at least one mission trip. It helps expand your perspective and stretches you to grow in many ways. Many of the people that go on mission trips are changed forever. You develop a servants heart. When you bring that attitude back with you, you can help change our communities by getting involved in local missions and organizations. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need a mission trip to get involved locally. There are many great organizations in our communities that need our help. There are many families and individuals that are in need. My heart is to partner with these groups, organizations and help impact our community.

These trips to Mississippi will also impact those communities. Who knows how God will use these trips. He may be calling someone to take a leap of faith and go. We don’t know who we will meet or what work we will do, but we do know it will make a difference in someones life. God works through people that are available to be used. I want to challenge you to prayerfully consider going on one of these mission trips. If you have questions please post a question or contact me at the church ofice (330-365-2224)

Talking Football

I know it is not football season, but I love this time of year because of NFL free agency and the NFL Draft. It is so much fun to speculate what your favorite team will do. Who will they sign? Who will they draft? I am a big Browns fan and they just signed a Bengal. Sorry John.

This is a great move for the Browns. Eric Steinbech is a solid guard that can play Tackle or even center if needed. It is nice to see the Browns are really committed to improving the offensive line. Most great football teams have great offensive and defensive lines. The big guys in the trenches really determine the game. They don’t get all the glory but they make it happen.

As for the draft I hope the Browns draft one of these three: Joe Thomas, Adrian Peterson or Calvin Johnson. Brady Quin would be an interesting pick as well. Go Browns!