Blessing or Curse - Your Choice
“Look, today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse! You will be blessed if you obey the commands of the lord your God that I am giving you today. But you will be cursed if you reject the commands of the lord your God and turn away from him and worship gods you have not known before."
Moses is speaking to Joshua and the next generation of Israelites as they ready themselves to enter the promised land. As a consequence of their disobedience of God during their exodus from Egypt, the Israelites had to wait in the desert for 40 years. And because of his lack of trust in God during a separate incident, Moses himself wasn't going to enter the promised land. But these hard-learned lessons in the desert were not lost on Moses - and he was going to make sure the next generation of Israelites knew the certainty of what he had learned before: obey God, and you will be blessed; reject God, and you will be cursed. That's just the way it was.
And so it is today. Like the law of gravity has held true both then and now, this "law of blessings and curses" still holds true today. In John 3:16-17 Jesus tells us we have the choice to believe and be blessed (eternal life with God), or not believe and suffer the curse (separation from God). In John 10:10 he says we can follow him and enjoy a full life, or follow others toward a life of destruction. In John 13:17 he teaches us that we will be blessed if we serve others. We see this principle in our own lives and in the lives of the rich and famous. No one is above it - it's just the way it is.
God is not standing with one eyebrow raised and his arms folded waiting to see our lives unravel. He wants to bless us. It is sobering and humbling to know that this blessing in our lives is a direct result of our choice to obey Him.
Author: Mark Dwyer
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! "
I had the chance to be in St. Louis this past week and we visited this place called City Museum. It is kind of confusing because it really isn't a museum at all. It really is a giant play place for kids and adults. It also may be one of the most confusing places ever. There are tunnels and paths and places to go that lead you in all sorts of crazy directions. You really can't describe it. But as I was having a blast exploring this place I realized in many ways this place was just like life. There are paths and avenues and opportunities all over the place. Some positive and some not. It can be crazy confusing.
The key to the City Museum was to remember where your starting point was. If you could remember that almost everything would eventually come back to that point. The same is true in life. We must remember our starting point and that is Jesus.
We are new in Christ and when we lose our way just remember that is where we start. We start in Him!
Author: Brett Lilly
It's Not Your Island
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." (1 Cor 10:13)
As men, a lot of times we feel like the struggles we face are unique to us. We want to handle things on our own. I've golfed with hundreds of guys over the last few years, and I can promise you one thing - you're not alone in your struggle. Your "island" is bigger than you think, and you're not the only one on it. So look around and find some other people; you need them and they need you.
Author: Mark Dwyer
A consistent message throughout Scripture is the importance of "fearing God":
Go to BibleGateway.com and type "Fear God" to the search box, and you'll see hundreds of verses pop up. As I read these, I begin to see a new definition for the word "faith". To fear God is to believe in who He is, what He has done, and what He has the power to do in your life - a belief that is so real that it impacts you every step.
I believe in God. I love God. But do I really fear Him?
Author: Mark Dwyer
What do you do?
“and whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17)
"What do you do?"
Isn’t this a standard conversation starter? There is really nothing wrong with the question, but there might be something wrong with how we answer it. Usually we answer by explaining our profession (that’s what people are most likely asking), but it should be more than that.
“What do you do” is an identity question for us; and I believe it’s a challenge to make sure that we are defined by more than just our profession. The words of the apostle Paul in Colossians 3:17 are an ALL-encompassing exhortation. In our profession, no matter what task we “do”, Paul encourages us to “do” it in such a way that honors the Lord and represents Him. Secondly, how would you answer this question if you didn’t talk about your profession? What else do you “do”? Let me suggest that Paul is encouraging us to connect with something that is making a difference in the world. Are you serving in a ministry at your church? Are you participating in helping the less fortunate? Are your supporting a ministry that is changing lives?
This is my challenge for us – to connect ourselves with something that is changing lives. I believe God has wired us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. It might be what we “want to do”; but let’s take the next step and make it “what we do”.
It will change the way we answer the initial question!
Author: Brett Hersma
Learn to Trust
"Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2)
I have found a theme that weaves its way through both my faith and my golf game. I wish I could tell you the answer is that I’m always “par for the course”; but the theme I’m referring to is trust. I need to exercise trust.
In golf there are so many times where I’m holding my 7 iron for my 150 yard shot, but the wind is blowing at me and the pin is in the back. I really need my 6 iron, but I don’t trust what I know is true. So I usually find myself swinging too hard and landing in a hazard somewhere. The examples continue… I don’t trust the break on the green, or the feel of the wedge in my hand as I attempt to get out of the sand. You might be gaining some insight to my golf handicap.
Trust is so necessary in my faith as well. I’ve been taught over and over again that God loves me and has a plan for me; but do I always trust that? Honestly I don’t. I find myself taking life in to my own hands, and thinking my plans can be better. God tells his people all throughout scripture to trust Him with life circumstances. What is it for you today?
I think that God always has something for us to trust Him with. Is it your marriage that might not be as stable as it should? Is it your child who is getting ready to go off to college (welcome to my story)? Is it your job that isn’t totally satisfying? God wants to meet us in these places, and be the answer to our fears and doubts. It’s actually an opportunity to lean in to Him, which strengthens our relationship. Whatever it is that has already come to mind for you – trust Him with that today.
Author: Brett Hersma
Submit & Resist
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
Sometimes we make it harder than it has to be. The "good life", that is - the life God wants us to have. Do you find yourself struggling to do what you know is right? I do. So did the apostle Paul (read Romans 7:14-17). But James gives some very direct, very simple advice - submit to God and resist the devil. Have you tried this? Did it work for you? (click "add comment")
God loves us. He wants the best for us. Do we believe he can make it happen? Then we must submit to Him. And when temptation comes, we must resist it. Let's commit this verse to memory and live it out!
Author: Mark Dwyer
Imitate What Works
"Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith." (Hebrews 13:7)
Charlie Sheen might say he's "winning" right now, but it doesn't take a doctor to see that he's got some issues. Tiger Woods hasn't won a golf tournament since the "debacle". Look around you and you'll see the same thing - people that make poor decisions usually end up in a bad place. Now look at people who are in a good place - usually you can trace it back to good decisions based upon proven habits or truths. Of course, there are always exceptions - bad things happen to good people, good things happen despite bad decisions - but the truth remains: live by good principles and your life will be better for it (read Proverbs). Dave Ramsey ("Financial Peace University") advises to find winners and then do what they do. Don't learn how to use a power saw from the shop teacher who has lost all of his fingers; don't take a golf lesson from a "bogie" golfer (uh, like me); don't get marriage counseling from someone who has been married 12 times. The above verse tells us to emulate people who's life has turned out the way we would want ours to turn out. And do you notice what it says at the end - "imitate their faith". Here's what that tells me - the key to a good life is not about what we have the power to control, but in submitting ourselves to a higher power. My kids will have a good life if they obey their mother and me - because we love them and we know what's good for them. Likewise, we will have a good life if we faithfully submit to God's blueprint for life - whether we understand it or not (that's where faith comes in). Here's the challenge to us all: find out what God wants us to do and do it - we'll be glad we did!
Author: Mark Dwyer
Pick Weeds, Not Just Flowers
I looked out the kitchen window this morning and noticed a nice big weed growing next to the patio. I'm sure my wife loved looking at that as it grew to its healthy size! Some men might say "well she should have picked it if she didn't like it". But the reality is that she is so busy taking care of the kids, helping with homework, keeping order in the house, etc that she probably never even noticed the weed. It dawned on me that I will often go out of my way to buy flowers for my wife to convince her of my love, but I don't think of pulling the weeds for her as a "love" act (I think it's because giving flowers invokes an immediate reaction from her). Both actions show love, and both are necessary. Here's the challenge - the next time you buy flowers for your wife, pull some weeds for her too (and vice versa). And don't wait too long, or the flowers will wilt and the weeds will grow.
Author - Mark Dwyer
What has shaped you into the man you are? What is shaping you into the man you want to become? There's a pretty wide range of answers, but the challenge remains to all of us to look inside at what needs "sharpening" and look outside for tools to sharpen us (ie: other men, personal devotion time, our wives, even our kids). Unless I missed something, none of us has "arrived" yet. We're all being molded by our surroundings whether we like it or not. Let's not conform to the pattern set by this world - instead, let's allow ourselves to be transformed by God's power. How? Find the answer in Romans 12:2.
Author: Mark Dwyer
Brett Lilly - Campus Pastor at Compass Church (95th campus), husband, father