Archive for January, 2008

January 31st, 2008

Making Sense Out of Life (6)

“‘What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?’” Matt 16:26 (NIV)

Jesus establishes the value of a soul. On one side of the scale is the world including achievements, acquisitions, and accolades. On the other side of the scale is eternal life. The bumper sticker which advertises, “He who dies with the most toys wins,” is wrong.

Life is not measured by how much you attain on this side of the grave. As one of my precious members from my seminary church would say, “I’ve never seen a hearse pulling a U-haul.” There’s more to this life than ascribing to an incessant materialism. Gaining wealth, status, and prestige while losing your soul, is fatal.

  • “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8 (NIV)
  • “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:10-11 (NIV)

Making sense out of life involves living with eternity in mind. Allow Christ to be the center of your life. Make Him the number one priority of your life. Eternity is at stake! 

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, January 31st, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Body and Soul, Making Sense.
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January 30th, 2008

Making Sense Out of Life (5)

“‘For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.’” Matt 16:25 (NIV)

Jim Elliot served the mission field of Ecuador trying to reach the Aucas for Christ. He and his missionary partners where killed by the ones they were seeking to reach. As a young modern martyr, Jim Elliot’s quote takes on new meaning: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” 

Your life will never make sense until you give your life to something bigger than your personal dreams and ambitions. When you align your life with God’s world redemption plan, your life will begin to make sense. Christ-centered living involves loving what God loves and hating what God hates. Christ-centered living involves being willing to forsake personal aspirations in order to fulfill the desires of God’s heart.

What is your life focused on now? Are you living for yourself, for personal happiness, for personal fulfillment? Have you come to the place of releasing your personal agenda in order to embrace God’s agenda? Are you willing to set aside personal preferences in order to surrender to God’s way? 

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Finding Life, Making Sense.
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January 29th, 2008

Making Sense Out of Life (4)

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” Matt 16:24 (NIV)

Are you a fully devoted follower of Christ? Do you obey what you already know? To follow Jesus is to obey His commands. Obedience is a true mark of being a fully devoted follower of Christ. Being a follower implies that you are on a journey. Jesus is the leader. Jesus is the One whom you follow. Wherever He leads, you go!

  • “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:6 (NIV)
  • “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” John 8:31-32 (NIV)
  • “‘Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.’” Matt 7:24-25 (NIV)

Obeying Jesus requires submission to His Lordship. In order to truly follow Jesus, you must fully surrender to His leadership. Allow Jesus to have full control of your life. Allow Jesus to live His life in you and to shine His light through you. As a follower of Jesus Christ, your part is to obey Him. Your obedience to Christ will illuminate your proximity to Christ. Stay close to Jesus. Obey what you know!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, January 29th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Making Sense, Obedience.
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January 28th, 2008

Making Sense Out of Life (3)

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” Matt 16:24 (NIV)

Life without Jesus doesn’t make sense. You can spend your life succumbing to the current of busyness and end up weary and depleted. You can slither down the fast lane of materialism and land on the island of emptiness. Life just won’t make sense without Jesus.

Jesus says to come after Him you must deny yourself and take up His cross. To take up His cross is to identify with Jesus in His shame, suffering, and death. The cross was a horrific means of capital punishment. The Romans reserved this method of death for their enemies.

  • “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!” Phil 2:8 (NIV)
  • “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” 1 Peter 4:1-2 (NIV)

For you to take up His cross daily is to willingly surrender your life to Jesus in every area of your life. Choose to identify with Jesus through your obedience to God’s Word and through your diligence in serving others. Even in the hard seasons of life, choose to identify with Christ.  

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, January 28th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Endurance, Making Sense, Surrender.
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January 27th, 2008

Making Sense Out of Life (2)

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” Matt 16:24 (NIV)

While driving down the interstate, I discovered a billboard advertisement that had this phrase in large gold letters with a dark background, “It’s all about you.” That phrase captures the ebb and flow of Christianity in the twenty-first century. Consumerism has captivated the local church. Christians are choosing churches based on the mentality of, “What have you done for me, lately?” We have fostered a culture of spectators. Let’s watch the show and be entertained.

Embracing that self-centered and me-istic lifestyle will not help you make sense out of life. In fact, life will become muddy and unclear. Jesus explained the Christ-centered life as the one where self-denial is a prerequisite. Jesus clarifies that life is not about you. Life is about God’s agenda.

To come after Jesus, you must deny yourself. It does not mean to neglect your needs or to embrace passivity. Self-denial on God’s terms is for you to utterly disown yourself. To deny yourself is to come to the place of total abandonment to God and His will for your life. Self-denial is essential in saving faith and in living out your faith before a watching world.

Arthur Pink wrote, “Growth in grace is growth downward; it is the forming of a lower estimate of ourselves; it is a deepening realization of our nothingness; it is a heartfelt recognition that we are not worthy of the least of God’s mercies.”

It’s not about you. It’s all about Him!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, January 27th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Humility, Making Sense, Self-denial.
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January 26th, 2008

Making Sense Out of Life (1)

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” Matt 16:24 (NIV)

Does life make sense to you? Are you clear about why you exist and why God has placed you right where you are? Do you understand where you fit in God’s story?

It all begins with God and His invitation for you to join Him. The first step is to respond to God’s invitation as stated by Jesus in Matthew 16:24. Discipleship is both initial and perpetual. You make an initial commitment to Christ by confessing your sin and receiving God’s provision for the forgiveness of your sin. Your old life of sin is exchanged for the new life Christ provides. Your commitment to Christ is perpetual in that following Christ is an ongoing moment by moment conscious decision to continue following Christ.

Long before you decided what to do with God, God decided what to do with you. “If” you choose to become a follower of Jesus Christ, you come into alignment with God’s purpose and plan. God’s redemptive story includes you. Life will never make sense until you come to the place of turning your life completely over to Jesus. Allow Him to be the Lord of your life. Bring Jesus to the center of your destiny and your daily decisions.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, January 26th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Cross, Follower of Christ, Fully Devoted, Making Sense.
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January 25th, 2008

Stumbling Block

“Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.’” Matt 16:23 (NIV)

Peter deeply cared for Jesus. Peter had just spoken the powerful words given by God to affirm that Jesus was truly the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Jesus then shared with his disciples that He would be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter had the audacity to rebuke Jesus.

As one commentator observed, Peter “could hardly have understood that by his attempt to dissuade Jesus from the cross he was placing arrows in the bow of Satan to be shot at his beloved Savior.” In the language of the New Testament, a stumbling block, or skandalon, referred to an animal trap where food was strategically placed to lure the animal into harm’s way. Satan was using Peter to set a trap for Jesus. Satan had already tempted Jesus to take a shortcut to God’s plan. Now, Satan is using Peter to seek to get Jesus to bypass the way of the cross.

We become a stumbling block when we think that our way is better than God’s way. We become a stumbling block when we fail to consider the way of God. Be careful not to oppose the plan of God. Be on guard not to become an instrument in the hands of the Enemy.

Let’s commit to becoming a stepping stone for others to come to know Christ. Let’s eliminate our proclivity of becoming stumbling blocks. God’s way is always the best way. Let’s embrace the way of the cross. 

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, January 25th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Stumbling Block.
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January 24th, 2008

Ambition

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” 1 Thess 4:11-12 (NIV)

Where there is order there is fruitfulness. Strive earnestly to live a disciplined life. What does that look like? It looks like a life that is orderly and balanced. It is a life that is disciplined and focused. Allow these words to be absorbed in your spirit: order, balance, discipline, and focus. Lead a quiet life. Mind your own business. Work with your hands. Maximize your potential and do not be dependent on anybody. That is not to say that you don’t need others. You need others, but your dependency is not to be a result of laziness or passive neglect.

What is the goal of a balanced life? Is it to produce personal happiness? Is it to minimize stress? Those are certainly by-products of a balanced life. However, the goal of a balanced life is to be an irresistible influence for Christ in our culture. Your life is to be lived in such a way as to win the respect of outsiders. Those who are outside of the family of God should be able to view your life and be drawn to Christ. Your life should be magnetic and convincing.

Do you lack order, balance, discipline, and focus? Maybe you have too many plates spinning. Maybe it is time to simplify your life. Identify and remove the clutter from your life. Create some space. It may be the most spiritual thing you do this week.  

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, January 24th, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Ambition, Order, Priorities.
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January 23rd, 2008

Increase

“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.” 1 Thess 3:12 (NIV)

How do you make your love for others grow? You place the same value on others that God does. If we could ever fully embrace God’s perspective on people, then our love for others would increase. Our tendency is to judge people based on externals while God evaluates the heart. We tend to overemphasize the outside and underestimate the inside. God has planted unlimited potential in every human being. The key that unlocks potential is an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. 

  • “‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’” John 15:5 (NIV)
  • “We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.” 2 Thess 1:3 (NIV) 
  • “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.” 1 Peter 1:22 (NIV)

Increase your love for others by serving them, praying for them, and viewing them from God’s perspective. Sometimes our expression of love for others is inhibited by busyness. Often our love for others is stifled by our self-centeredness. It’s difficult to increase our love for others when we become consumed with ourselves.

Read through the Gospels and notice how Jesus had a perfect balance of guarding His love relationship with the Father and meeting the needs of people. As your love relationship with your Heavenly Father grows, your love for others will increase in proportion. 

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Increase, Overflow.
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January 22nd, 2008

Accept

“And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.” 1 Thess 2:13 (NIV)

How do you view the Bible? Have you developed an appetite for God’s Word? In order to grow spiritually, you must have a daily intake of God’s Word. We have so many opportunities to hear, receive, and accept God’s Word. You can read it. You can hear it on the radio, on a CD player, or on an Ipod. You can hear God’s Word being preached on television and in church. The more you feed on God’s Word the more you develop an appetite for daily intake.

  • “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Heb 4:12 (NIV)
  • “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim 3:16-17 (NIV)

Commit to read four chapters of the Bible each day. For example, read chapters one through four in the book of First John. Select one verse from each chapter that God uses to speak into your life. Write an action statement for each of the four verses that you identify. Accept God’s Word by receiving it into your heart and putting it into action.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Executive Pastor

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008 at 1:00 am
Category Accept, Receive, Word of God.
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