Stop Comparing

Parent/teacher conferences are going on. What are the odds that there would be parents who meet with a teacher and ask, "How is my kid doing?" and have the teacher say, "I'd say about average. Your kid is right in the middle of the pack."

Then they go to their kid's soccer coach. "How's my kid doing?" "Your kid is average. I'd say half are better, half are worse."

Then they go to their kid's tutor who specializes in preparing for the SATs. "How's my kid doing?" "I think you can expect right about the 50th percentile."

What are the odds those parents respond to that by saying, "That's great!  I have a normal kid. My kid is average - right in the sweet spot of God's bell curve!"?

Not likely.

It turns out when we ask the question, "How's my kid doing?" there's always a little qualifier attached: the phrase, "Compared to the other kids." We have a way of measuring our performance, our identity, even our value and self-worth compared to the others. We need to stop doing that.

Here are some questions for you to consider:

First, "Who are you comparing yourself to?" I invite you to think about this one for a bit. I probably wouldn't compare myself financially to Bill Gates or somebody like that. More likely it'd be a person down the hall or down the street - somebody close by. Just be really honest about this question with yourself.

Next, ask yourself "Why am I angry?", "What is it I really want?", "Who would my best self be?". 

Then, ask yourself these questions that go a different direction:

"What is the joy God has for me?", "What are the gifts God has given to me?", "What is the task God has assigned me?"

God hasn't asked you to be somebody else. You don't have to be like Bill Gates, or a celebrity, or the neighbors. God is calling you to be you.

I promise you there's joy in loving the people around you and doing the things God has called you to do and giving the gifts God has called you to give and stretching the gifts God has given you to stretch. I promise you there's joy. That's what we are talking about today.

Prayer - Who Are You Talking To?

Proximity and relationship determine how you talk to people. Your familiarity with someone determines your how you converse with them.

People you don't know particularly well you tend to be more formal and guarded in language and have only superficial relationships with, while people you know very well you can be very casual and direct with, and have very deep relationships with.

The same goes with God. Your understanding of God shapes everything in your life, including your prayer.

There are plenty of misconceptions about God. Here is a short list.

  • Some people think God is grumpy, cranky, angry, upset all the time, and unable to be pleased.
  • Some people have the "crouching tiger" god - ready to pounce when you make a wrong move.
  • Some think of God as the cosmic cop whose goal is to make sure you follow the rules; or a dictator, always demanding more and more; or the Santa Claus god, where he's making a list and checking it twice.
  • Some people have what I call the Play-Doh god, which is where you make him into any form you want at that time.
  • Some people say, "I like to think of God as..."

Well, I'm sorry it doesn't really matter what you like to think. When it comes to God, it's what is He really like,  not what you like to think of Him as. 
It's important that you know the real God. If you have a misconception about God, prayer is going to be boring for you - something you have to do out of guilt, or duty. Don't guilt yourself into praying, God doesn't want you to pray out of guilt. 

The better you understand God and his nature, the better your prayer life and relationship with him will be.

Prayer: A Conversation. A Relationship.

The Bible says in Ecclesiastes "God has planted eternity in the human heart." That means you have an eternal soul - that you're going to last longer than just this mortal existence. It means that you have a natural  desire and drive that thinks there must be more to life than just this. There has to be an eternity. There's gotta be a God. God wired us to look for him, and to talk with Him. 

We're wired for prayer. Your Creator designed you in a way that prayer seems natural. Everybody in the world prays. Buddhists pray, Hindus pray, Muslims pray, Jews pray, Christians pray, secular people pray. 

We're not very good at prayer and we know it. In fact, most people feel inadequate about it. "I don't really know what to pray. I don't know how to pray. I don't know how to say it. I don't feel confident." In fact, many of you probably feel very un-confident about praying publicly. If I were to ask you to come to the front of church and lead us in prayer, you'd faint. God doesn't want you to feel that way - inadequate - like your prayers are second class and they're not as good as someone else's prayers.

The fact is: of all the people I've met in my life, I've never met anybody who thought that they were outstanding at prayer. I've never had anybody say,

"I have a PHD in prayer."

"I'm a world-class prayer. "

"I'm a professional prayer." 

You don't have to be great at prayer. You don't even have to be so-so. God wants to have a conversation with you - to hear how you are doing. That's what relationships are about: sharing. God wants to have that relationship with you.

That's what we're talking about today. Please watch.

Prayer: Spiritual Growth

Prayer: Spiritual Growth

It's important that we focus on prayer and spiritual growth, because most of our problems come from spiritual immaturity. When we're not spiritually mature, we make bad decisions. We base decisions on how we feel - which is a terrible way to make decisions. Our feelings are wrong a lot of the time, and we're manipulated by our moods. Mature people make decisions based on truth, not on feelings. Many of the problems in our world happen because of immaturity.
Growth is God's will for your life. Babies and kids are cute, but a child that doesn't grow up is tragic. It is possible to grow old and never grow up. I know a lot of people who are spiritually and emotionally immature. They grew old without growing up. God doesn’t want you to stay a baby, He wants you to  be a mature person of God.

Let God Love You

Let God Love You

About ten years ago I met a man and happened to tell him I was a pastor. He immediately said, "I don't believe in God. I'm an atheist." I don't know if he expected me to be shocked or not. I asked him to tell me about the kind of God he didn't believe in. He began. When he got through I said:

"That makes me an atheist too because I don't believe in that kind of God either."

King of Kings

King of Kings

For 3 years Jesus has been building His ministry toward this day.

For 3 years, He has performed one miracle after another miracle, after another miracle.

For 3 years, he has healed the sick, the lame, the blind, the lepers.

For 3 years Jesus has attracted one crowd after another to teach them about the coming Kingdom of God.

And then - not more than about a week before this - he goes to the home of Mary & Martha and raises their brother Lazarus from the dead.

By the time Jesus gets to Jerusalem the crowd is pumped, excited, FILLED with anticipation.

Jesus entry in to Jerusalem was not going to be a casual stroll into the city.

He had come to deliberately declare that HE was:
· The King of Israel
· The Anointed One
· The Promised Messiah
· The One who had been predicted for centuries by the prophets of God