Monday Kfirst Kickstart: “The Foundation of Formation” #IAmChurch

I love our church. In fact, I think that you love our church too – otherwise you wouldn’t be here.

But what is it exactly that we love about our church community? Why do we gather every Sunday here? Why do we volunteer here? Why don’t we see the people, not the building, as the church? We believe when the Church is working right, there is nothing like it. The Church is not an organization. It’s an organism designed to live, move, and have being. January is all about celebrating what Christ established. In Matthew 16, Jesus gave us this promise that He would build His Church, and that nothing could prevail against it. So, we don’t just attend a church and we don’t just tolerate the Church — we celebrate it, because we are part of that Church that Jesus is building! This month, we celebrate everything that God has done, while looking forward to the future. We have a rich history here at Kfirst, but we believe that the best is yet to come.

Check out the service yesterday from the website or from the Facebook livestream. 

Other thoughts from the Youversion notes from Sunday:

  • God, search our hearts and remove anything that doesn’t align with Your heart.
  • Myths of Spiritual Growth:
    • 1 – Spiritual growth is about finding the right formula.
    • 2 – Spiritual growth is optional.
    • 3 – The goal is to attract more of God’s love and the attention of people.
    • 4 – The test of spiritual formation is how much I know.
  • Spiritual formation is a process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others.” M. Robert Mulholland
  • There’s nothing I can do to make God love me more and there’s nothing I can do to make him love me less.“ Philip Yancey
  • You and I have a choice of becoming more like Jesus or less like Jesus every day.
  • Partnership with God is doing what I can do while God does what only he can do.
  • Repentance: Aligning your life in the direction of Jesus.
  • Are my thoughts leading me, toward life (toward the best version of me) or in the other direction?
  • Why Repentance?
    • 1 – It causes me to take responsibility for my sin.
    • 2 – It is an act of humility that reconnects my heart to His.
    • 3 – It shows I’m relying on God’s strength to help me change.
    • 4 – It allows me to be continually healed.
    • 5 – Repentance sustains growth in my relationship with God.

Love you all. Have an amazing week.

BTW: Here’s the new song we used from the last two weeks…

Monday Kfirst Kickstart: “A Gospel-Centered Marriage” #FromThisDaySeries

Today I want to give you a place to start your week. It’s Monday and in the wake of a great weekend and a workweek ahead, sometimes you just need a “kickstart” to get focused.  So grab some coffee let’s start a great week together.

Today we kicked off our annual marriage series with our Kfirst community. We looked at what a marriage looks like when the essence of the Gospel is embedded in the marriage.  (Click here for yesterday’s notes.)

Our series is about looking at the daily decision to build our marriage through 4 areas shown in the example of how Jesus (groom) responds to us the Church (bride). We view each of the “4 Pillars” in a light that says, “From this day forward, I choose to grow and strengthen our marriage by asking questions, not from the aspect of “what’s missing” but “where can we start to work.”

  1. Grace
    • Question for my spouse: Do I lack grace in any area?
      • Grace Strengthens – 2 Timothy 2:1
      • Grace Labors – 1 Corinthians 15:10
      • Grace Serves – 1 Peter 4:10
      • Grace Responds – Romans 5:20-21
  2. Sacrifice
    • Question for my spouse: Am I more selfish than sacrificial?
  3. Servanthood
    • Question for my spouse: Is there anything I need to stop or start doing?
  4. Forgiveness
    • Question for my spouse: Is there anything we need to make right?
    • 4 Parts of Forgiveness
      • 1 – Confession “I was wrong…I don’t blame others, I own it”
      • 2 – Sorrow “I am sorry for…” (It’s being sorry for a specific.
      • 3 – Request “Will you forgive me?”
      • 4 – Response “ I forgive you.”

Every one of us have been given a legacy of marriage. There wasn’t a choice about what we have been handed. But we do have a choice about what we will hand the generation that will follow. So we have determined “from this day forward,” we are going to leave a legacy that shows the Gospel of Jesus at the center of our marriage.

This week, would you sit down with your spouse and honestly and humbly ask the four questions? Would you be open to hearing not what YOU lack but what the BOTH of you can work on together?

Love you all.  Join us this Sunday as we continue our annual marriage series “From This Day Forward.”

BTW: Here’s a song for your week!

Monday Kfirst Kickstart: “The Rx for Offense” #PivotPoint

Today I want to give you a place to start your week. It’s Monday and in the wake of a great weekend and long workweek ahead, sometimes you just need a “kickstart” to get focused.  So grab some coffee let’s start a great week together. 

We continued our current series at Kfirst. “Pivot Point” has been our study of the life of Jacob. Even though he didn’t have the “model life”, God always had something beautiful in store for him. Our goal yesterday was to help people understand: “We can’t live in the Land of Promise without leaving our place of offense.” (Click here for yesterday’s notes.)

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So many of us want the promises of God but don’t want to be obedient to what the promises require us to do. And one of those areas of obedience is releasing offenses. Jacob left the land of promise because of the issues between him and Esau. And he knew when God called him to go home in Genesis 31:13, he would have to face his brother and a 50-year-old offense.

In the narrative of Genesis 32, Jacob gives us three examples of what happens when we don’t deal with offense correctly:

  1. Dwelt on offenses lead to misguided reactions. (v. 3-4)
    • Instead of responding with a personal interaction, Jacob pushes his servants to take care of things for him.
  2. Picked up offenses will exaggerated issues. (v. 6)
    • Jacob finds out Esau is on his way. He panics and begins to divide his family to, in his mind, preserve some of them from his brothers wrath he assumes is still there.
  3. Unattended offenses create self-serving responses. (v. 9, 16)
    • He puts it on God to deal with.
    • He sends his servants again with a load of gifts to buy Esau’s favor.

https://twitter.com/DawnHause/status/790207807073185792

In view of Jacob’s decisions, our heart is to dismantle what the enemy wants to use to divide the body of Christ. We want to step into a biblical prescription for offense.

  1. Be intentional about offense. Matthew 18:15-20
    • Engage with God.
    • Re-engage the person who offended you.
  2. Be intentional about humility. 1 Peter 5:5
    • Humility opens up the door for opportunity for others to listen and for us to grow.
  3. Be intentional about information. Ephesians 4:15
    • We should never express ourselves at the expense of the character of Jesus.
  4. Be intentional about forgiveness. Proverbs 19:11
    • I can’t choose the offense I’m offered, but I can choose what I hold on to.

Ask the Holy Spirit to check your heart. Ask him to show you if any offense is being held in your hands. Rest in the grace that Christ offers and be a distributor of that grace.

This week, if you need a scripture reading plan, check out this one.

Love you all.  See you on Sunday!

BTW, here’s a song this week for your devotions playlist that we learned on Sunday:

Marriage Filters: 2 Simple Steps to Fixing Your “Filter”

– AUTHOR’S NOTE: the advice I offer today is ONLY under the idea and truth that marriage is more like a crock pot and not a microwave. Putting today’s blog into practice will be a daily choices for the long-haul and NOT a quick patch-and-fix. –

With our cell phones, there has never been a simpler time to not just capture a moment, but we can post it for the world to see. My favorite way to do that is through Instagram. I’ll admit, I love it (here’s my shameless plug to follow my account.) What originally attracted me to Instagram was their filters. For the photo-novices like me, it gave me the ability to take my pic and quickly tweak or enhance the image with a filter before dropping it to my chosen social media outlets.

In other words, you don’t see what the original image is, you see it THROUGH the filter I’ve placed upon it.

The concept of a “filter” is something I bring up quite a bit in marriage talks. Why? Because they’re so natural for us to lean on. We used them, it seems, in every facet of life/marriage. From how we communicate to people and express ourselves to how we process things and  how we listen to others, we filter what comes out of as well what comes into our lives.

I would argue that “filters” have been around since the beginning. Originally, the communication God designed for husbands and wives was very simple:

Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame. Genesis 2:25

My thought: Nothing was to be hidden. What you see was, literally, what you got. The only filter they used was God. They looked at each other the same light God looked at them. Enter the serpent. Every word he said had the intention of removing the “God-filter” from their vision and fabricating a new filter to look through. If he can get them to see the world through hurt, selfishness, pain, and hopelessness, he can rob them of the life God desired for them.  Everything the devil will always offer you something that you already have in Christ. But what he proposes has zero fullness with complete bondage.

It was only when sin entered through their disobedience, did they decide to cover up and begin to point fingers. Instead of seeing each other how God saw them, their responses were “filtered” through the fracture they had experienced.

They covered up.
They hid from God.
They pointed fingers.

But their response is no different from you and I.

Through our life experiences, through our own brokenness and our history, we develop “filters” and we use them on our spouse.

We filter our love so that we only offer to our spouse the type of love language we like to receive.
We start looking at our spouse through a filter of THEIR faults and OUR present hurt.
We handle our spouse through the filter of “well, that’s how my family always did it.”
We offer forgiveness only through the filter of whether or not we think they deserve it.
We filter out our humility and see the need to “win” the conflict.
We make sure we filter out our family when we get to church so that others don’t see how truly human we are.
We want to filter out any vulnerability so that nobody (not even our spouse) can use our faults against us.

And what we do is we not only learn to personally cope with them, but we don’t even realize that, while we are using filters based upon our life’s experience…

…so are others. Your boss.  Your friends. Your neighbors. And yes, your spouse.

What if we started asking ourselves about what they’re dealing with and where they’re coming from? What if we took the time to love the people in our lives enough (especially our spouse) to look through their eyes and truly try to understand what they’re trying to communicate

Perhaps some of the issues you both are dealing with are less about what is being done in the moment and more about person behind the words. I’m not saying the communication doesn’t need to be shaped, but it will never be healthy till the person communicating AND the person listening gets healthy. And a fresh filter will help.

My thought: What if we can get back to the original design and began to look at each other the way God sees us? What if we used Christ as our filter to look at our spouse?

Instead of seeing what’s wrong , we recognize and encourage what’s right.
Instead of criticism over how broken you both are, we see and celebrate every step of progress.
Instead of hopelessness, we see with man, things can be impossible, but with God, there’s always hope.
Instead of seeing a fractured marriage, we see an opportunity for the healing power of Christ.

It’s time to lay down the unfair filters we’ve used to judge our spouse (and others) and pick up the one that is worth using. And here’s some SIMPLE next steps to applying a “proper filter” today that are in no way EASY:

  1. See how Christ sees you. Get a handle on how much Jesus loves you. Try to fathom the complete forgiveness he gives you through his grace.
  2. Respond to your spouse the way Christ responds to you. Forgiveness without strings. Grace that loves relentlessly. Peace that stands in the face of chaos. Hope that will not back down.

This isn’t a quick fix to anything. In fact, it’s going to be a daily choice as the world around you is going to do exactly what Adam and Eve experienced in the Garden of Eden: remove the “God-filter” from your vision and fabricating a new filter for you to look through.

Be determined. Get the right “filter.” See through the eyes of Jesus and be tenacious about responding with His love.

Love you all.  Because of Christ, I have hope for you.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

The Art of Reinforcement: 5 Ways to Reinforce Your Marriage

I’m on vacation in Virginia right now.  It’s been refreshing to hang out with my family, set aside emails and messages, and totally focus upon rest. We’ve spent a lot of time going through villages and small towns that have survived decades, and for some, well over a century. But amidst all of the buildings and landmarks that have survived the years, one word has kept coming to mind:

Reinforcement

Defined, it’s the “action or process of strengthening.” And the context of marriage, it’s something that is sorely forgotten about. I think so many people are so busy trying to clean up messes and fix problems that they forget that, without reinforcement, the structure will fall.

My mind goes to an image of a mine. 2010_08_08_MontanaMountainMine_7240

Regardless of what kind of mine (copper for my U.P. friends), if one of the caverns has a breach and beginning to cave in, the last thing you’d want to do is clean up the mess. The first response, from what I understand, is to reinforce the weakened structure.

But we don’t do that with our marriage.

Do things need to be cleaned up? Yep
Do things need to be fixed? You bet.
Does there need to be change? Probably.

But I submit: What if your first response to issues was to reinforce what is SET UP instead of attacking what is MESSED UP? I’m not saying that you ignore issues at hand, but fortifying the structural integrity of the marriage will give momentum and build strength that will help carry you through the issues at hand.

Here’s some areas to reinforce: 

Reinforce your mind: Be reminded who Christ is. When you remember who you are in Jesus, you learn to fight FROM a place of victory instead of fighting FOR victory. The victory was won at the cross.  But sometimes, we feel we need to re-win a battle what was already won. I love how the Psalmist puts this in perspective in Psalm 77.  “I will remember the deeds of the Lord yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.”  Remember your identity in Christ and ponder on His promises and reputation. As you do, walk in obedience. 

Reinforce what IS/HAS BEEN working. We get so caught up attacking the mess that it can blind us from seeing what is right. Are you good communicators? Focus on the communicating. Are you good at having fun together? Have more fun. Are you good at sex? Get naked. Are you good at serving? Keep serving each other. Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you ignore it. Keep building it up and let that be a place to build upon. I love the advice given to the church in Revelation, “Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.” Even though the context is that of a church fallen away from their first love (Christ), the principle is of extreme value: the things you were good at that fed your love, go back and do them again!

Reinforce forgiveness. I cannot reinforce this enough in marriage (or life for that matter). We continue to “forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” It doesn’t reestablish trust. It gives us a place to build trust upon. How many times do we forgive our spouse? As many times as Christ has had to forgive us.

Reinforce effort instead of results.  I write about this a lot. Why? Because in a culture that demands results, we force our marriage into that flow by demanding desired outcomes at an unrealistic rate. So often, spouses only hear from their spouse when they’re doing something wrong. Catch them doing something right and encourage them in it. In fact Hebrews 3:13 challenges us to “exhort (build up, encourage) one another every day.” To use an old cliché: The Titanic doesn’t turn on a dime. But encouragement will help the Titanic turn faster than the opposition of discouragement. 

Reinforce strategic areas. Sometimes the problems you’re having are symptoms of other issues. For example: If you’re having fights about which way the toilet paper was put on the roll, chances are, the toilet paper isn’t the REAL issue.  If small things are having explosive results, there needs to be a closer review of what is really happening. This is where you need to get help/wisdom from an outside and objective source. It’s why the bible encourages surrounding yourself with wisdom. Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.”Counseling (getting help) is not an admission of defeat; it’s an admission of your humanity and a breaking of your pride. Chances are, there are simple and strategic areas that need to be reinforced and getting help shows you are serious about your marriage. 

I’m about attacking the fracture and the mess, but perhaps if we reinforce some of the structure of our marriage, we’ll have an easier time building it up during difficult seasons. 

Love you all. Praying for you. Don’t stop reinforcing your marriage.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

2 Minute Marriage Devo – Day 11

Welcome to our 2 Minute Devos. This month we are in our Annual Marriage Series at Kalamazoo First Assembly of God and we’re going through devotions for couples. Take the time to read through the passage of the day and listen to the 2 Minute Devo.

Ephesians 4:32

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

2 Minute Marriage Devo – Day 8

Welcome to our 2 Minute Devos. This month we are in our Annual Marriage Series at Kalamazoo First Assembly of God and we’re going through devotions for couples. Take the time to read through the passage of the day and listen to the 2 Minute Devo.

Colossians 3:13

…bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.