LET’S PRETEND WE’RE NORMAL

Lets pretend were normalHow to Be a Family  by  Tricia Lott Williford chronicles her life in raising two young boys after the tragic death of her husband.  If you want to have the background and read the account of his death you can click here .  Tricia gives this caveat to the account of her husband’s death:

My husband died on the morning of December 23, 2010. The following is my personal account of his final hours, the story I must write. Please be advised, these paragraphs are graphic, detailed, personal, and mine. Read with caution, respect, and care.

This is a heart felt story written with authenticity, humor, and lessons learned in the crucible of life.  She understands the perspective of a single parent and honestly faces the challenges of parenting, “Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint, and one must measure it in decades, not days”  (p. 26).

She shares her struggles as a young mom, “The hardest thing I’ve ever done is learning to live and be happy again after Daddy died” (p. 93).   She provides however, humorous anecdotes throughout the book.  One of my favorite was when she was explaining that she writes for an adult audience and she accidentally told a roofer that she writes adult novels (p. 143).

As she chronicles the life of a widow raising two young boys she provides hope in the midst of the challenges.  “And then I am reminded that I am not their only parent.  Their Creator knows their hearts.  Their Counselor knows their worries.  Their Father holds them close.  I am their mom.  l  And I am not alone”  (p. 29).

Adversity can be a great teacher if we keep our eyes on God.  Tricia writes, “I used to think I was half.  Then I learned I’ve been whole all along” (p. 183).  The Apostle James writes of this lesson,

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various  trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  (James 1:2-4)

You may think this book is specifically for single moms but I highly recommend this book for anyone who knows a single mom.  It will give you an appreciation for the challenges they face.  My mother was widowed when I was seven and my daughter was recently widowed with five children so I have a heart for the unique challenges that single moms face.  (I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review).

RickAssociate Pastor – Discipleship.  The Church at LifePark

Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University

Follow me on twitter:  rickhiggins5

SET APART FOR THE GOSPEL

Romans-1_17What do you believe is Jesus’ plan for your life?   This is an important question that unfortunately may be ignored because of the urgent demands of everyday life.  The Apostle Paul provides a succinct answer in his letter to the Romans,

Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,  (Romans 1:1)

Paul’s description reveals that he had a clear understanding of Jesus’ plan for his life.  He describes himself as a bond-servant which literally means a slave.  His life was completely abandoned to Jesus.

Paul, then uses the word “apostle” which literally means one who is  sent forth.  Paul had the privilege of having met the risen Christ on his journey to Damascus and his life was dramatically altered.

Finally, Paul writes that he was “set apart” for the Gospel.  The word “set apart” denotes the idea  to appoint or set apart for a specific purpose.  In our family, we have a colorful plate that is set aside for special occasions to honor a family member.  It’s not for everyday use, it’s “set apart” for a specific purpose.

Do you realize that you are set apart for a special purpose for God? God’s desire for you is that you will abide in Him and bear much fruit.   Your responsibility is to know God and as you get to know God, He will reveal His plan for your life.  You are responsible for the depth of your ministry and God will take care of the breadth of your ministry.

You may be wondering, “How do I experience a life that is set apart to God?”  Paul gives us practical advice later in his letter to the Romans,

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.  (Romans 12:2)

God wants you to have a fruitful life and you will experience that fruitfulness as you are “set apart” for His glory.   Believe what God says is true about your identity,

 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;  (1 Peter 2:9)

You have been “set apart” for a great purpose!

RickAssociate Pastor – Discipleship.  The Church at LifePark

Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University

Follow me on twitter:  rickhiggins5

THE NAVY SEAL ART OF WAR

navy-seal-art-of-warThe Navy SEAL’s are considered some of the best special forces in the world.  The Navy SEAL Art of War by Rob Roy reveals the values that make them elite warriors.  This book is patterned after Sun Tzu’s classic, The Art of War.

Rob Roy shares the principles that guide Navy SEAL’s to assist you in your personal life and business.  The book is comprised of short chapters highlighting a key theme or principle.  The author makes application of the lessons from the battlefield to the boardroom.  This book enables you to learn from a seasoned warrior who has excelled as a Navy SEAL and as an entrepreneur in the business community.

The principles in this book will benefit anyone seeking to live a more effective life.  Here is a brief sample:

No plan survives contact with the enemy.  (p. 22)

We think in terms of possibilities not limitations.  (p. 38)

We put it all on the table today, right here, right now; yesterday is history and tomorrow may never come.  (p. 58)

If it were easy and pain-free, everyone would be doing it.  (p. 85)

If you quit every time you feel pain, you’ll never succeed at anything.  (p. 87)

If you embrace the suck, you can overcome almost any obstacle or difficulty.  (p. 108)

Pain is temporary, but quitting will last forever.  (p. 126)

The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.”  (p. 136)

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.  (p. 168)

This book is filled with principles as listed above and is motivational in its style.  Unlike many other books that contain “salty” language this book is suitable for all ages without causing a cringe factor for parents.  Rob Roy provides excellent counsel for everyday life,

For by wise guidance you will wage war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.  (Proverbs 24:6)

I highly recommend this book.  (I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review).

RickAssociate Pastor – Discipleship.  The Church at LifePark

Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University

Follow me on twitter:  rickhiggins5

EMBRACING YOUR BROKENNESS

psalm-34What comes to mind when you think of the word brokenness?  We often view brokenness as a pejorative term.  The reality is brokenness is our true condition before a holy God.  If there is any doubt to our brokenness, as we compare ourselves to God’s standard we see that we often fall short.  I don’t always love God as I should or my neighbor as myself.

Brokenness is not something we need to deny or to seek after, it’s part of who we are.  Jesus says there is a blessing to those who realize their brokenness,

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  (Matthew 5:3)

The word for poor describes one who is utterly destitute and dependent upon others.  God understands your condition and He extends grace to the poor in spirit and the humble ,

But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”  (James 4:6)

Do you want to experience the grace of God in your life?  Humility is the door that enables grace to come into your life.  Not only does God give grace but He also brings healing,

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  (Psalm 147:3)

Are you lamenting your brokenhearted feeling?  God is with you and He is for you,

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  (Psalm 34:18)

RickAssociate Pastor – Discipleship.  The Church at LifePark

Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University

Follow me on twitter:  rickhiggins5

BEING THE YOU GOD CREATED YOU TO BE

Jer 29.11Have people ever wanted you to be someone else?   Perhaps you’ve wanted to be like someone else.   David in the Old Testament faced this dilemma.  David wanted to battle the Philistine giant Goliath and King Saul offered David his armor,

Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head.   David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.  “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off.  Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.  (1 Kings 17:38-40)

David knew he had to fight Goliath on his own terms and be the person that God had created him to be.  Are there expectations upon you to be someone other than who God created you to be?

Don’t let the enemy discourage you.  At the end of your life God isn’t going to ask you why weren’t you more like so and so.  I wonder if He will ask you, “Why weren’t you more like the person I created you to be?”  Be yourself – everyone else is taken.  Remember that you are God’s workmanship – His masterpiece,

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.  (Ephesians 2:10)

RickAssociate Pastor – Discipleship.  The Church at LifePark

Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University

Follow me on twitter:  rickhiggins5

Passing the baton

baton passWhen I was in Junior High School I ran the 440 relay race.  The critical part of the relay race is passing the baton.  A team with smooth transitions for passing the baton could actually beat a team with faster runners.

The Apostle Paul encourages Timothy to pass on the baton of faith in his ministry,

The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.  (2 Timothy 2:2)

How many spiritual generations do you see in this verse?  Let’s start with Paul who is mentoring Timothy.  Then there is Timothy along with many many witnesses.  The word for witnesses are not simply spectators, but those who are involved in testifying.  The Greek word for witnesses is μάρτυς (martys) from which we derive our English word martyr.

Paul and the witnesses are to entrust this faith to the third generation of faithful people.  The word entrust is a command and Timothy and the the many witnesses are to commit to training faithful disciples who have the capability to teach the fourth generation (others).

The renowned management theorist Peter Drucker once said, “There is no success without a successor.”   We who have been entrusted with the gospel have a responsibility to pass on the faith to the next generation.  As we look at the successful leadership transitions in the Bible we see the principle of passing on the baton of faith.

Who is your Timothy?  Can you see faithful people who are passing on the sacred teaching?  As you invest your life in others you will reap spiritual dividends,

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.  (3 John 4)

 

RickAssociate Pastor – Discipleship.  The Church at LifePark

Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University

Follow me on twitter:  rickhiggins5

True Righteousness

galations_3-24Throughout the ages people have sought  ways to be righteous before God.  During Jesus’ day the Pharisees were regarded as the spiritually elite.   They had developed an elaborate system of 613 laws – 365 negative commands and 248 positive laws.  The measure of one’s spirituality had devolved into a system external laws that produced a cold, heartless, and judgmental brand of righteousness.

Jesus’ sermon on the mount challenged the Pharisees view of righteousness as Jesus pointed out that true righteousness comes from the heart.  That’s why Solomon emphasized the importance of guarding your heart,

Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.  (Proverbs 4:23)

Man has a tendency to complicate what God wants to make simple.  The religious leaders realized the difficulty of keeping God’s law from the heart so they focused on externals.  They bypassed the true intent of the law and  established man made rules as the measure of one’s Godliness.  The sad truth is that we have a tendency to follow their practice.  We establish benchmarks of spirituality such as a Christian doesn’t drink, dance, or associate with people who do; but we ignore the heart attitude.

Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill the law.  Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment and He distilled the essence of the Old Testament into two commandments,

Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord;  and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  (Mark 12:29-31)

The law was given not as a means to achieve righteousness with God but to reveal your need for a Savior.  We cannot keep God’s commandments in our own strength and emphasizing externals while ignoring the heart issues does not make one Godly but it leads to hypocrisy and spiritual pride.

The Apostle Paul wisely pointed out the function of the law,

Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.  (Galatians 3:24)

The word for tutor is a compound word that literally means a leader of the child.  The tutor or guardian was responsible for the child’s moral and physical well-being.  The emphasis was not on the impartation of knowledge, but William Barclay describes the tutor’s role, “. . . to make the good pleasant to the boy.”  Now that Christ has fulfilled the law,  we no longer need a tutor,

But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.  (Galatians 3:25)

Where is your focus?  Do you emphasize the external aspects of your faith seeking to look good in front of others or is your emphasis on obedience from the heart?  You are no longer under the law but under grace – live in accordance with your true identity,

But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,  (Romans 6:17)

 

RickAssociate Pastor – Discipleship.  The Church at LifePark

Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University

Follow me on twitter:  rickhiggins5