Finding Common Ground

You are different from everyone else in the world. Yet you have some things in common with all of them. That sameness is called common ground. And it’s the secret sauce for relating to those who don’t know Christ.

The apostle Paul articulated this approach: “I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22, NLT)

Here we see Paul’s passion: to see as many people saved as possible. 

And here we see his plan: to find common ground with them.

How’s your passion? Do you long to see people apart from Christ come to faith? Are you praying for those in your circle of influence who are “living without hope and without God?” (Ephesians 2:12) Are you asking God to set up divine appointments for you to listen to their story, or share your story? 

How’s your plan? Are you entering the lives of others, seeing the world as they see it, trying to understand what makes them tick? Are you looking for similarities and areas of interest that can become a solid foundation? Are you actively seeking common ground?

Common ground. It’s how we earn the right to share our story with unbelievers.

Interested in more? Here’s a link to my message on 1 Corinthians 8-10, “It’s my right …”

the math of sex: 1 + 1 = 1

When you have sex with someone, you become one with them. Literally. It’s not just a union of bodies … it’s a union of souls. It’s not just a physical act, but an emotional, psychological, and spiritual act. Two people become one at the deepest level possible. If you want to find out why sex is such a divine gift, and what boundaries the Giver wants us to remember and practice, watch this talk entitled “Everybody’s Doing It. A lot of parents are watching it with their older kids …

Becoming a Grateful person

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget none of his benefits (Psalm 103:1-2)

Isn’t it nice to be able just to pause sometimes and consider the things you have to be thankful for? When you think about those family members you love, and even some of the ones that sometimes drive you crazy … you’re still thankful, mostly, that they’re in your life. Think about your work if it gives you meaning. Think about the people you get to play with during your off time, your hobbies, the good graces of God. It’s good to think about those things. 

But lurking behind that experience is a question: Are all those good things “rights” that I have, or do I not deserve any of them? What about you? Do you deserve all those things you were just thinking of? 

John Claypool, my mentor in Birmingham, used to tell me, “Paul, remember that life is gift, and birth is windfall.” Neither is deserved, neither is earned. And so, if not even birth was deserved, then nothing in all of life is deserved. And that leads to a profound change of thought. When you realize that God truly is the giver of every gift in your life, you will be on the way to becoming a grateful person. And every day, you will say with the Psalmist: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget none of his benefits.”

Interested in more? Here’s a link to my message on Psalm 103 called “Undeserving.”
https://subsplash.com/+b6b0/lb/mi/+bs59tvs?branding=true&embed=true

Sex: Culture’s voice vs. God’s voice

When our culture talks about sex, its voice is deafening. We hear it at the movies, on TV, and in music. It’s 24/7/365.

It’s also very different from what God’s voice tells us. Put the two perspectives side by side, and you’ll find God’s wisdom about sex is better than anything culture can offer.

In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul is responding to questions that first-century Christians were asking regarding their freedom in Christ—especially as it pertained to sex. Some of them said, “I’m free to do whatever I want! I can have sex with anyone, anytime, anywhere!” Paul responds, “Of course you’re free. But freedom has its limits.” His point: indulging in freedom is not always good for you. For example, you can decide that for the next month you’re going to eat 5000 calories a day in desserts only. But you’re probably not going to be free to wear last summer’s swimsuit.

So, when you’re weighing the voice of culture (“I’m free to do whatever feels good”) against what God says (“Sex is too important to be casual”), just remember that if freedom hurts you or others, it’s not real freedom.

Interested in more? Here’s a link to “Everybody’s Doing It?” (Music is great! Message begins at 25:17)
https://subsplash.com/+b6b0/lb/mi/+4n3z5tk?branding=true&embed=true

The Habit of Daily Worship

Here at 365Discipleship, our purpose is to make discipleship a daily habit—the good kind, more like brushing your teeth than eating your broccoli. One of the easiest habits to cultivate in the Christian faith is daily worship. Psalm 100 provides a great example for us:

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all of you. Worship the Lord with gladness, come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture, enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name, for the Lord is good. His love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

The psalmist shows us that worship is to be joyful—if not passionate—and our emotions are to be strong. But you can’t worship someone you don’t know. If you don’t know God, it’s going to be really difficult to feel the joy of worship in church on a Sunday morning, much less while worshipping on your own. So, if you want a more passionate worship life, seek a more personal knowledge of and experience with God.

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah said you will find God when you seek him with all your heart. How do you seek him? You can seek him in his story. Begin reading the gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Look for him beside a mountain stream or a Texas sunset. Hear him speak to you in a friend’s well-timed encouragement. I promise you, the more you look for him, the more you will find him. And the more you find him, the more you will get to know him—his character and his heart. Then, you’ll discover that worshiping him is the most natural response in the world.

Jim

The gift of slowing down

Not that long ago, your life was filled with events and activities and people. Maybe too many to count.

Now you’ve slowed down more than you ever thought possible. Some days simply drag, don’t they?

Most likely you wouldn’t have slowed down on your own. You needed outside help.

Over the years, I have been drawn to the words from Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” But I never knew how to obey them. I walk fast. I talk fast. I eat fast. I seldom slow down.

At my last church I preached on “The Demon of Hurry” … and confessed that I was possessed. So I vowed to slow down. I went on retreats of silence and solitude. I read books on how to “be still and know” that God is God. I confessed to God how seldom I was still and quiet. I succeeded in making a few external adjustments, but I didn’t change on the inside, where it counts.

Then a year or two ago, I ran across a winsome invitation from God in a book I was reading. He was asking me yet again to slow down. This time he gave me a way to do it. I liked it so much I made it into a screen saver for my desktop computer. Here it is.

Reading those two sentences every day began to change me on the inside. They showed me a way to slow down and be still before God. Of course, it still took a pandemic to make me slow down. But when it came, I was ready.

You’ve been forced to slow down. You can be mad about it. You can be sad about it. Or you can be glad about it. I’m choosing to be glad. Will you join me?

Paul