Archive for April, 2007

April 30th, 2007

Distractions

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.” Luke 15:13 (NIV)

How does a runner prepare for a marathon? He removes distractions that would impede his progress and focuses his energy and effort on intentional training.

One of Satan’s primary tools is to keep us distracted from God’s plan. We begin to major on the minors and minor on the majors. We drift from our core values and seek to embrace superfluous agendas.

The prodigal son allowed the allurements of the distant country to distract him from his father’s plan. He sought to bypass his father’s protection and provision in order to court a cheap but appealing substitute. Sin never delivers what it promises!

What’s the antidote to distractions? How do you overcome the lure of leaving the straight life? Here it is:

Make up your mind!  

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Col 3:1-3 (NIV)

Pray this prayer with me: “Lord, I have made up my mind. Since I have been raised with You, I will set my heart on things above where You are seated at the right hand of God. Lord, I have made up my mind. I will set my mind on things above and not on earthly things. I have made up my mind. Since you died on the cross for me, my life is now hidden with You in God. I have made up my mind in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, April 30th, 2007 at 4:00 am
Category Distractions.
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April 29th, 2007

Restoration

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father. “ Luke 15:17-20 (NIV)

You are not a robot. God created you with the capacity to accept His plan or to reject His plan. He made you to be relational. You can respond to God’s offer of restoration or you can choose to go your own way.

God grants the freedom to accept Him or reject Him. By the power of His Holy Spirit, He comforts and convicts. He guides and He provides. However, God will allow you to freedom to choose a selfish path or a selfless path. He will alert you when you are taking a path that is not His best for you. Yet, God will allow you to maneuver in the direction of your choice.

The prodigal son made a poor decision when he selfishly requested his share of the estate so that he could carelessly spend it. Yet, God allowed him to get to the pigpen level of living. It was there that the prodigal son came to his senses and made the life-giving decision to get up and go back to his father.

Restoration awaits! How will you respond to God’s offer?

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, April 29th, 2007 at 4:30 am
Category Restoration.
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April 28th, 2007

Pause

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalms 46:10 (NIV)

Hit the pause button! Wait! Stop! Hold on a second! Don’t move! Freeze! Relax! Be still! Why are we in such a hurry? Why are we sprinting in this marathon called life? Why do we choose to run on fumes?

Your life is structured for the results you are getting. If you are overwhelmed and stretched to the limit, then your life is currently structured to produce that reality.

Can you continue living at your present pace? Can you continue to function at the immediate level you are embracing? You may be feeling that if something doesn’t change you are going to explode or burn out. So the question is: What needs to change? If you keep living the way you are living you will keep getting the results you are getting.

Maybe there is value in being still. Maybe there are healthy consequences to being still. I wonder if God created us to know that He is God. What if our knowing Him as God is proportionate to our willingness to be still?

Are you willing to try an experiment? Find a quiet place each day to just sit and reflect. Hit the pause button at least one time per day in order to be still. There’s no agenda! There’s nothing to fulfill! There’s no deadline! Just be still and see what God does to bring refreshing, renewal, and revival into your life.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, April 28th, 2007 at 5:00 am
Category Renewal.
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April 27th, 2007

Identification

“As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?’ And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.” Acts 8:36-39 (NIV)

When I served as pastor of First Baptist Church of Folsom, Louisiana, during my seminary days I had the wonderful experience of creek baptisms. Every July 4th week we would have a special worship service at Pittman’s Creek. Even though we had a heated baptistry in our worship center, many believers chose to be baptized in the freezing cold water at the creek. Those were memorable baptisms.

Have you been properly baptized by immersion following your conversion? If not, why not? What is keeping you from identifying with Christ through baptism?

The Ethiopian eunuch was passionate about following in believer’s baptism. His life had been radically transformed by the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Now, he wanted to identify with Christ through baptism. He chose a creek baptism!

If you have already followed the Lord in believer’s baptism, spend some time reflecting on that spiritual marker in your life. Thank God for allowing you to identify with Jesus through baptism.

If you have not been baptized, would you be willing to schedule your baptism within the next few days. Make it right! Give God your best! Jesus went all the way for you. Would you be willing to go the next step with Him and identify with Him through believer’s baptism?

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, April 27th, 2007 at 5:00 am
Category Identification.
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April 26th, 2007

Intentionality

“The eunuch asked Philip, ‘Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?’ Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.” Acts 8:34-35 (NIV)

Be intentional! Make a bee-line to the cross! Maximize the opportunities that God brings to you each day. Don’t minimize your participation in God’s activity.

Can God accomplish His plan without you? Sure He can! However, God chooses to use human instrumentality in the redemptive process. God chose to use Philip in bringing salvation to the Ethiopian eunuch.

Philip was available, sensitive, and intentional. It is not enough to just make yourself available. It is not enough to be sensitive to opportunities God interjects into your path. You must be willing to intentionally point people to Jesus.

Every interaction and every interruption in life can be used of God to bring people into a vibrant love relationship with Jesus. Don’t miss the opportunity! Seize the moment! Be intentional!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, April 26th, 2007 at 5:00 am
Category Intentionality.
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April 25th, 2007

Sensitivity

“Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ Philip asked. ’How can I,’ he said, ‘unless someone explains it to me?’ So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.” Acts 8:30-31 (NIV)

Is availability enough? If you make yourself available for God’s use will that be enough? No! Your availability must be accompanied by your sensitivity to God’s activity.

Philip would have missed the divine connection with the Ethiopian eunuch had he not both made himself available to God and been sensitive to God’s activity. In obedience to God, Philip ran to the chariot. Then, he was sensitive enough to hear the man reading Isaiah the prophet and to ask a probing question. In others words, Philip was sensitive to the opportunity that God had orchestrated.

God is always at work. Make yourself available and be sensitive to God’s activity. Your sensitivity to God’s activity will determine the level of connectivity with people God brings into your path.

Are you available? Are you sensitive to God’s activity? Let’s see what happens in your life today!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, April 25th, 2007 at 5:00 am
Category Sensitivity.
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April 24th, 2007

Availability

“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Go south to the road–the desert road–that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.’” Acts 8:26-29 (NIV)

God blesses our availability. He is not limited by our ability or inability. God does His best work through those who make themselves available for His use.

So, the question is: Are you available for God’s use? If so, then anticipate God’s invitation for your participation in His Kingdom activity. God is always at work. Are you available to join Him in His work?

Philip made himself available for God’s use. God responded to Philip’s availability by inviting him to join Him in what He was already doing in the life of the Ethiopian eunuch. Did you notice that as Philip was on his way and the eunuch was also on his way and God made a way for the two to connect?

This divine connection would have never taken place had Philip not made himself available for God’s use.

Will you pray right now and make yourself available for God’s use?

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, April 24th, 2007 at 5:00 am
Category Availability.
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April 23rd, 2007

Soul Consciousness

“The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved.” Jer 8:20 (NIV) 

How much time do you have left on earth? How many people will die without a saving relationship with Jesus Christ within the next twenty-four hours? What difference will your life make in light of eternity? 

Jesus modeled a deep abiding passion for souls. The Bible says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost”(Luke 19:10 NIV). Jesus never lost His focus of redeeming the lost. He did not neglect His mission to save the lost at any cost. 

How many lost people are in your sphere of influence? What kind of relational bridge are you building to them? What are you willing to do to introduce them to a saving relationship with Jesus? 

Pray this prayer with me. “Father, forgive me for my passive neglect. Forgive me for being so self-absorbed that I have minimized the urgency of soul-winning. Elevate my soul consciousness. Give me eyes to see lost people in their desperation. Anoint me with the courage of Jesus. Empower me to be your witness and to be your laborer in the harvest field. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.” 

Pursuing God, 

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, April 23rd, 2007 at 5:00 am
Category Soul Consciousness.
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April 22nd, 2007

Confidence

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Heb 4:16 (NIV)

Approaching the throne of grace with confidence is not equated with arrogance. Confidence is acknowledging your enablement through God working in you and through you. Arrogance is rooted in self worship.

God grants accessibility. He makes Himself available to us and allows us to approach His throne of grace. Now grace is receiving what we do not deserve while mercy is not receiving what we deserve. We do not deserve God’s acceptance. We do not deserve God’s provision of forgiveness, redemption, and eternal life. Because of our sin nature, we deserve death, alienation, punishment, and eternal damnation.

Praise God for His initiative to bring you into a vibrant love relationship with Himself. Now that you can approach the throne of grace with confidence the question is: Are you taking advantage of the opportunity that God has provided for you to approach the throne of grace with confidence?

Think through your daily intimacy with God. How often are you intentionally approaching the throne of grace? Are you consciously accessing God’s presence through prayer?

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care
    

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, April 22nd, 2007 at 5:00 am
Category Confidence.
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April 21st, 2007

Sufficiency

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.” Heb 4:15 (NIV) 

Are you struggling? Are you hurting? Do you ever go through seasons of loneliness? Have you encountered frustration or disappointment? Have your dreams been shattered?

Jesus is more than enough! He can identify with our heartache and pain. He knows what it feels like to be misunderstood. His life was marked by ridicule, unfair treatment, and betrayal. Jesus is well acquainted with the onslaught of temptation. Was He tempted? Yes! Did He commit sin? No! Can He relate to the gravitational pull of sin? Yes!

Because Jesus was without sin our insufficiency is transformed by His sufficiency. When we are weak, He is strong! When we are most susceptible to sin, Jesus consistently stands as the model to follow.

Remember, Jesus became like us so that we could become like Him.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Pastor of Leadership and Pastoral Care

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, April 21st, 2007 at 5:00 am
Category Sufficiency.
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