Archive for September, 2012

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God is Good

September 18, 2012

Guest post by Gerry Wakeland

 

What stories did you hear about God when you were growing up? Or as an adult?

What messages about God did you glean from sermons? Or from friends?

 

I was raised in a church where sin was talked about a lot. If we sinned we would not go to heaven. Jesus was the answer to sin. If I had Jesus in my heart then I would not sin. So as a small child I accepted Jesus as my savior so I would not sin and end up in hell.

As a seven-year old, little did I know that accepting Christ and having Him in my heart was just the tip of the iceberg. I still had to work hard at not sinning. My vision of God was skewed because I thought if I was not good and had sin in my life, God would punish me in some way.

I carried this philosophy with me for years. Through some very difficult teen years, through a challenging first marriage that ended in divorce and into a second marriage that had its share of rocky spells.

And then one day I discovered the truth. God is not a punishing God! He’s not out to get me for the things I do wrong. In fact, He expects that I will stumble and fall. But He is there to gently pick me up and set me on the path of correction, giving me another chance, a do-over.

This week in our study of “The Good and Beautiful God” author James Bryan Smith addresses the false narratives of the angry punishing God. Smith says, “Jesus clearly abolishes the notion that we ‘get what we deserve.’ According to Jesus, God is not in the business of balancing some eternal checkbook. God treats all people the same: ’He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.’ (Matthew 5:45) Just as sunshine and rain are given equally to saints and sinners with no distinction, so God gives blessings to all without regard to their behavior.” Good news for a sinner like me!

In this world terrible things happen to good people. I know this first hand. This is life not punishment. John 16:33 clearly states: “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer’ I have overcome the world.” (KJV)

It is because of this promise that we can, with confidence, say:

 God is good; all the time. All the time; God is good.

Gerry Wakeland is a member of Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church. She currently serves as President of CLASSEMINARS, Inc., a training and equipping ministry for Christian communicators based here in Albuquerque. Contact her at gawakeland@aol.com

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Adding Value to Others…

September 7, 2012

There is a marked difference between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom that comes with following Christ. The wisdom of the world says get all you can. Christ teaches to give all you can. The world insists greatness is measured in your accomplishment; Christ followers look at God’s victory through your life. One measures success as how far you can go; the other teaches that success rests in the distance you can advance the lives of others.

As defined by followers of Christ, leadership isn’t how far we advance ourselves, but how far we advance others. Retired General Norman Schwarzkopf once said, “When you help others climb a hill, you will get closer to the top yourself.” In life, you are either adding or subtracting. If you’re adding to others, it’s intentional; if you are subtracting from others, I think it’s unintentional.

When people think about you, do they say to themselves, “My life is better because of that person?” Their response probably answers the question of whether you are adding value to their lives. To succeed personally, you and I must try to help others. That’s why Zig Ziglar says, “You can get everything in life you want if you help enough people get what they want.”

How do we do that? How can you turn your focus from yourself and start adding value to others? You can do that by:

  • Putting others first in your thinking
  • Finding out what others need
  • Meeting that need with generosity

My heart has been strapped with this question….for my own life and ministry. Am I adding or subtracting?

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What Are You Seeking?

September 6, 2012

ImageGuest post by Gerry Wakeland

We are all searching for something. Perhaps it is the abiding peace that the scriptures promise. Maybe it’s unconditional love or the kind of hope that endures even the most difficult circumstances. Do you long for a faith like Abraham or Moses?

All of these things are possible but they require transformation, change that has to come from the inside out. I know, you’ve tried to change, over and over again and it just hasn’t worked for you. You’ve grown frustrated and thrown in the towel.

Author James Bryan Smith contends, “I have come to believe that the problem is not that we do not want to change, nor is the problem that we are not trying to change. The problem is that we are not training. We have never been taught a reliable pattern of transformation.”

This is why Smith penned the book, “The Good and Beautiful God.” To give the reader an understanding of what is needed to answer the age-old question: How do we become like Christ?

We cannot change just by saying, “I want to change.” We have to examine what we think and how we practice and who we are interacting with. If we change those things- and we can- then change will come naturally to us. If we think the things Jesus thought, do the things He did and spend time with likeminded people, we will become like Him and it will not be difficult.

The Apprentice Series is designed to help us to make these changes. As we come together each week we will be training to become apprentices of Jesus. Changing our narratives, engaging in soul shaping exercises, participating in community, all in partnership with the Holy Spirit will produce the thing that we all seek: Fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, and self-control, attributes that make us more like Christ.

 

 

Gerry Wakeland is a member of Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church. She currently serves as President of CLASSEMINARS, Inc., a training and equipping ministry for Christian communicators based here in Albuquerque. Contact her at gawakeland@aol.com