What I’ve learned in 2009 – Part 1

Over the next few days I’ll be blogging my thoughts and reflections of what God has taught me over the last 12 months relating to ministry, relationships, theology, and life in general. Many of these are common principles that I’ve always know, but have fully come to experience over the course of the year.

Here are the first few in no particular order:
God doesn’t always reveal where he is leading me, but always takes me where I should be. I am detail oriented. I always want to know what’s going to happen. Sometimes God doesn’t lay out the exact plan for our lives. In my case, I believe He, at times, has even protected me from knowing where he is leading me.  I’m confident that God has a specific calling for my life. My job is to be obedient to the tasks I know he’s calling to and trust that he will lead me into the future. Even though I may not know all the details of my life, he does. I am confident that he will finish the work that he has started in me. This year has been encouraging to look back and see where I’ve been, and where I am now. I’m hopeful and ready for where he is leading me.

“If God is sovereign, then he is in control of all the details of my life. If he is loving, then he is going to be shaping the details of my life for my good. If he is all-wise, then he’s not going to do everything I want because I don’t know what I need. If he is patient, then he is going to take time to do all this.” – Paul Miller, A Praying Life

See the story of Abraham ( Gen 12-25); Matt 4: 18-22; Phil 1:6.

-The spoken word of the gospel transforms hearts over any type of thought-out, extravagant, strategic ministry scheme. It is one thing to believe that the gospel of Jesus is the only source that can change people, but to see it actually transform people is another. I’ve learned that cool media, hip musicians, and pastors that wear True Religion jeans can draw a crowd for a period of time, but will not be able to create any type of change without the message of the gospel. Over the last year I’ve seen irreligious people repent of their lifestyles and start living through the gospel. I’ve also seen religious people repent of their legalism and pride and change through the gospel.  Ministry minus the gospel can lead to either religion, irreligion, pride, confusion, apathy, or introverted small groups and much more. Ministry centered on the gospel leads to transformed hearts and lives lived with a purpose.

Mark 1:14-15; John 8:31-32; Acts 6: 1-7 ; 1 Tim 4:6-7;  2 Tim 4:1-2.

-People will hurt and fail me… and Jesus calls me to forgive them. I will hurt and fail others… and will need to ask for forgiveness. This is an obvious principle that every Christian (hopefully) knows. But, it was not until this year when I was put in serious, deep situations where I need to forgive someone because of their sin, or ask someone for forgiveness because of my sin. Forgiveness is an essential component of any deep, meaningful relationship.  I’ve learned to forgive not because I have to, but because Jesus has forgiven me. I thank Jesus because I am more wicked and sinful then I could ever imagine, but more loved and accepted through him then I could ever dream.

I’ve experienced that “forgiveness is to (a) free the person from penalty for a sin by (b) paying the price yourself.” – Tim Keller

I experienced that the most important people in my life are those I had to forgive and ask forgiveness from the most. If I didn’t care about the relationships then I wouldn’t be as hurt by their sins towards me. “Anger is the result of love. It is energy for defense of something you love when it is threatened. If you don’t love something at all, you are not angry when it is threatened.” – Tim Keller

“Forgiveness is to deal with our emotions by sending them away–by denying ourselves the dark pleasures of venting them or fondling them in our minds.” – Dan Hamilton

I am grateful for those in my life who have chosen to forgive me.

Matt 6:12; Luke 17: 3-10; Eph 4:32

To be continued…

Nick

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