Tag Archive - faith breakthroughs

Christmas and Humilty

BBC Christmas 1920x1080 111912

What a wonderful time of year! Christmas brings feelings of joy, peace, comfort, but the Apostle Paul thought there was a more important theme of Christmas, and wrote about it in Philippians 2:3-8:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (ESV)

When we think of Christmas and Christ’s incarnation, we should be drawn to thoughts about humility. But the world’s definition of humility is not the same as God’s definition of humility. We often get humility wrong. In fact, Dictionary.com offers what I would consider to be an inaccurate definition of humility: “Having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience.” That’s not humility. That’s depression!

That’s what’s so beautiful about the birth of Christ as an illustration of humility: Christ did not have feelings of inferiority, but willingly placed the needs of mankind above His own.

Nelson’s Bible Dictionary defines humility in a way that better illustrates what Jesus did at His birth. Humility is, “A freedom from arrogance that grows out of the recognition that all we have and are comes from God.”

Phillip Brooks put it this way: “The true way to be humble is not to stoop until you are smaller than yourself, but to stand at your real height against some higher nature that will show you what the real smallness of your greatness is.” (Quoted in Burning Out for God, E. Skoglund)

This type of humility is of far greater value to us, because it extends beyond mere feelings of inferiority to a call to raise the value of others, and measure our value against the glory of God.

Can you imagine what would happen if we connected the attitude of humility to our Christmas celebrations with the same fervor as we do joy, cheerfulness, and the like? Imagine how your holiday could be transformed if you chose to live out acts of humility among your family and friends this Christmas. What steps might you take to imitate the Son of God – surrendering your rights and reputation for the good of another, regardless of what you will receive in return?

Expressing and cultivating humility – the genuine kind – can can be an intentional part of our Christmas celebration. Here are three ways I plan to dwell on it in the next few days.

1. I will intentionally seek out others I may bless who are likely not willing or able to bless me in return, reminding me of the grace extended me when Christ came. For example, rather than telling people about our Singing Christmas Tree Presentation at Bannockburn this weekend, I will INVITE them to join me and my family at the Tree. People want connection and acceptance more than they want gifts or information. Connection is harder. It often requires humility.

2. I will take inventory of all the blessings and gifts I have been given, and then offer thanks to God for them. Gratitude is the antidote to false pride. (The 2012 BBC Advent Devotion is a great tool to help with this!)

3. I will ponder the humility extended by the King of All Kings, as He wrapped Himself in flesh out of love for us. How can anyone dwell on such a thought without a recognition of his own desperate need?

This Christmas season, I’m compelled to think that the greatest form of worship of Jesus my King may be to imitate His active humility. Would you join me?

How to Celebrate Your New Baby Without Infant Baptism

Ryan06

As a pastor, I come across parents all the time who came from a Catholic or Mainline denominational background, and face a genuine dilemma. They have the desire to commemorate the spiritual significance of their children’s birth, and often face the perceived pressure to baptize their baby. But as they have grown in their understanding of Scripture, they have become convinced that baptism is something reserved for those who are ready to express the faith they have personally placed in Jesus.

The inclination to celebrate the moment is both natural and wonderful – and there are certainly ways to celebrate a meaningful milestone without compromising your convictions. Consider these three recommendations:

1. First and foremost, stand firm on your desire to postpone baptism for later. You may receive outside pressure from family members and grandparents – or internal pressure from guilt – about forsaking longstanding tradition. But choosing to follow the truth of the Scripture will allow your child to experience the joy of baptism once he makes his own decision for Christ – and can mark that moment with the picture of being buried with Christ. In fact, many of those who feel so strongly about infant baptism are really speaking from a desire to ensure that the child is raised to worship Jesus. So when you explain your motives and reasoning to even the most traditional, many will understand and appreciate the path you are choosing.

2. Look for an opportunity to dedicate your child to the Lord in a worship service. Lots of churches celebrate a time of “Child and Family Dedication” at certain times of the year. This often entails an introduction to the congregation, and a prayer over your child by the pastor. At Bannockburn, we take this a step further by preceding the presentation with a four-week “Legacy Class.” During this time together, each parent establishes a set of core values and goals for raising the child in a strategic, intentional, and spiritual way – creating the best opportunity for success. We use the Raising Wallbreakers curriculum I published this year and developed specifically for this group of parents several years ago. You can pick up a copy for yourself – or your church leader – at FaithBreakthroughs.com.

3. Use a symbol to commemorate the moment. Consider purchasing a special Bible to share with your child when she gets old enough to understand – reminding her that you set aside a special time to dedicate your parenting to Jesus. Let her know that you have made a commitment before God and other people to raise her in a way that gives her the greatest opportunity to be fulfilled – not to mention pointing her to a relationship with Jesus Christ.

4. Celebrate the decision with others! Throughout the Bible, celebrations, feasts, and ceremonies were used to mark special occasions. When you have made the choice to honor God with intentional parenting, this is a significant step that should be shared. At the very least, you want to invite all of your close friends and family on the day you celebrate Child and Family Dedication at your church. Beyond that, throw a party, have a dinner, or at least come together afterwards for conversation and prayer.

Baptism is a once-in-a-lifetime expression of the salvation Jesus offers when an individual trusts Him for forgiveness and new life. As much as you want to commemorate your new family, don’t confuse the meaning of this God-given picture by baptizing your baby. There are wonderful ways to make the same impact and commitment to your high calling as a mom or dad that will be just as meaningful, and will prepare your child for the privilege of enjoying all that baptism was meant to be in the days ahead.

Family Ministry (AKA D6, Faith@Home) is More than Lip Service

Connecting church life with home life, building bridges across the generations, and drawing people into a passionate walk with Christ requires more than lip service.

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The spiritual barriers people face are countless, but they can be categorized into Eight Primary Walls. These walls correlate with the 8 primary breakthroughs that everyone needs.
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I have too many of my own problems to deal with the problems of others.
2 of 48
I have witnessed things that make me wonder if God is in control.
3 of 48
I feel compelled to make the world around me better.
4 of 48
I am confident God has forgiven me for my past.
5 of 48
I look forward to good things in my future.
6 of 48
I find myself more focused on the things I don't have but wish I did.
7 of 48
I question why God allowed certain things to happen in my life.
8 of 48
When bad things happen, I wonder if God can make things better.
9 of 48
I am intentionally seeking to grow in my relationships with others.
10 of 48
I am grateful for the things I have been given.
11 of 48
I try to avoid temptations that would bring me harm.
12 of 48
I have to guard against judging people when I learn they are dealing with tough circumstances.
13 of 48
I think that God will meet all my needs.
14 of 48
I believe God loves me in spite of who I am.
15 of 48
It humbles me to think I can know God.
16 of 48
I tend to expect the worst to happen.
17 of 48
I don't believe anyone can ever know what is absolutely true.
18 of 48
I believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing God.
19 of 48
My faith practices are more about routine than relationship.
20 of 48
When I am facing a difficult situation, I feel like I can solve problems on my own.
21 of 48
I worry that God is angry with me.
22 of 48
I am willing to sacrifice immediate gratification for something better down the road.
23 of 48
I am amazed at God's power.
24 of 48
I believe God is loving and kind.
25 of 48
I believe truth is the same for everyone.
26 of 48
I know a lot of people, but don't feel very close to many people.
27 of 48
I have a hard time trusting people.
28 of 48
I am so busy that I find myself ignoring the most important things in my life.
29 of 48
I am willing to serve others for nothing in return.
30 of 48
I feel I can turn to God for direction.
31 of 48
I worry about the problems that the future holds.
32 of 48
I find myself drawn to things I know are bad for me.
33 of 48
I feel strong relationships are hard, but worth it.
34 of 48
I believe God is willing and able to answer my prayers.
35 of 48
I feel there is a disconnect between who I really am and how I act in front of other people.
36 of 48
I believe God wants what is best for me.
37 of 48
People who have hurt me in the past cause me to avoid some relationships today.
38 of 48
The possibility of gaining a good friend is worth the risk.
39 of 48
I think God cares about the details of my life.
40 of 48
I believe the Bible has answers for today's circumstances.
41 of 48
When looking back on my life, I tend to focus on all of the things I did wrong.
42 of 48
When bad things happen, I feel like I am getting what I deserve.
43 of 48
I spend too much of my energy pursuing material things.
44 of 48
I have been wronged in the past in a way I cannot get over.
45 of 48
I feel with God's help, I can face any situation.
46 of 48
People would describe me as a giving person.
47 of 48
I observe things that make me wonder if I should believe the Bible.
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It troubles me that God has not answered my prayers.
Great you have finished the evaluation.
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