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80% Work, 20% Surf

January 28, 2015

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”  -John 15:4

 

I’m not much of a golfer. Requires too much patience. And you have to stay quiet. Two things I struggle with!

Plus, I like sports that have more of a payoff than slightly tapping a ball into a hole. Other sports also take patience but have a more epic prize after the wait. For instance, surfing. Now I’ve only been body surfing, so I’m like a minor leaguer here. But I’ve seen Surfs Up a few times, so I feel pretty educated in the sport. I was talking to a friend the other day about surfing, and she pointed something out to me. She said surfing is 80% work, 20% fun. Most of the time involves swimming against the current, getting positioned, and then waiting. And waiting. And waiting. For a good wave to come. When the wave finally does come though, the waiting was all worth it. Even if it only lasts for a short moment.

That’s pretty similar to how walking with Christ is. Most of the time (on a given Wednesday like today), things are pretty steady and quiet. Most days, supernatural events don’t occur in our lives. The mountain-top experiences that shape us and we remember years later…those are few and far between. Most days are quiet. They require us working, positioning ourselves, and waiting for God to come and do something big in our lives. Then when does, it’s all worth it! It reminds us that all the wait was worth it for that perfect wave! It reminds us that remaining in Christ, even during the wait, is the best place for us to be.

The wave comes to those who are waiting in the water. So don’t mind the wait. It’s always worth it when the wave finally comes!

 

Personal Application: What’s something you’re waiting on from God right now? Perhaps an answered prayer that you’ve been praying for a good while? Or resolution and healing in a particular situation or relationship in your life. For all of us, there’s always something that we’re waiting for God to show up and help us through.

 

Home Application: With your family, what’s something that you all have been anticipating together for a while but you are still in the waiting period? Today would be a great day to remind your family that God is preparing you in the waiting period until he shows up in a big way!

 

What’s something you’re waiting on from God right now?

 

Devotional written by Stephen

The Heartbreak Kid

January 27, 2015

“When I heard what was happening, I sat down and wept.”  -Nehemiah 1:4

 

What breaks your heart?

Each one of us is uniquely created with different passions and convictions from God. He has given each of us specific hearts for specific ministries and hurts in the world. In a way, the simplest way to find out what God might be calling you do in ministerially is to ask your heart. The way you answer that question will probably reveal the change God is calling you to make.

For me (Stephen), I think of three things that break my heart and cause me to want to get up each day to fight against it. Each one is linked to something I’m passionate about and spend a lot of my time trying to change. Here are my three: 1) Teenagers that feel bullied or rejected 2) Non-believing college students 3) Media & Movies trying to turn people away from Jesus.

These are the things I know God has called me to change. That’s how I know I’m called to do student ministry. It’s also how I know God has given me a heart to write books and stories, in hopes of influencing others towards Jesus. He wants me to dedicate my life towards fixing the things that break my heart. And he’s calling you to do the same. How incredible it is that God has already broken your heart for certain hurts and injustices in this world!

 

Personal Application: What are the things that break your heart? What are the injustices in our world that give you a deep sorrow that keeps you up at night? Take time to answer that question. How you answer it may reveal what God is leading you to do.

Home Application: Ask your family members/ roommates/ pet turtle the same question. Compare answers and see how God has aligned your hearts or made you balance one another out. Challenge each other to be proactive in seeking out change in those areas that God has given you a heart.

What breaks your heart?

Devotional written by Stephen

Real Churchwives of Austin

January 26, 2015

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted  and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  -Psalm 34:17-18

 

Reality TV is completely real and authentic! It perceives a true, raw picture of what life really looks like.

Obviously, that’s not true. Reality TV is basically a joke in that it’s so staged and fake, it’s hard to take it seriously. Even when shows try to make it appear real, it’s not. The Bachelor is scripted (sorry ladies…I understand if you need to pray and fast for a while after hearing that). Duck Dynasty is all reenactments of previous experiences. Even House Hunters is staged! WHAT?!

It’s hard to find a lot of authenticity in our culture anymore. The shows that are supposed to portray real life don’t. Facebook and Twitter just highlight the exciting parts and thoughts of our day. I’ve never seen a tweet that read “Kind of bored. Nothing exciting on my mind currently.” Why? Because we’re more focused on being thrilling than transparent. The problem is, fakeness breeds fakeness. The only way you’ll ever arrive into a place of authenticity is if you’re willing to take the first step. Don’t wait for others. Be willing to be honest.

Honesty breeds honesty.

 

Personal Application: How honest and transparent are you with your closest friends and the people around you? Do they see the real you or just the best of you? What’s something you need to be more honest about with people? Use today as your first step towards being more transparent.

Home Application: Ask your family members/ roommates/ family dog what part of their life they tend to worry the most about. This usually reveals the part of our life where we have the most unresolved emotion and need the most help.

Do people see the real you or just the best of you?

Devotional written by Stephen

Tag Team Wrestl-err…Witnessing?

January 23, 2015

“They saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the Jews.”   -Galatians 2:7-8

I’m not a big pro wrestling fan. A lot of my friends in middle school and high school were, but I never got into it. I mean, look at those dudes! It’s like Fabio meets spandex. Eek. There’s one part of wrestling that I always thought was cool though. The tag team. Just like in most other sports, they operated together as a team with specific roles. Dude #1 would come in for a little bit, do a few pile drivers, then tag out to Dude #2. Dude #2 would then be the closer that comes and finishes him (or her I guess, though it was always weird to see cross-gender wrestling). 

The best teams knew what they were good at and what they weren’t. They knew what role they played on the team, which made the team even stronger because it allowed each person to completely focus on their specific role. In this passage, we’re reminded that we each play a role on the team. For some of you, you may be called be on Mission at Bowie High School or Shady Hollow. For others, it’s Buda or your company. Some of you have a special role of reaching the other homeschool family around you. Just like Paul and Peter knew who God called them to reach, keep in mind that God has a specific calling for you as well. Wherever he has placed you (your school, your teams, etc), that’s where he wants you to be on mission.

When we all focus on the role we have before us, we can be an unstoppable tag team!

Personal Application: How intentional are you at being a missionary in the place God has called you? This answer probably varies depending on the day or week. My encouragement to you is to see each day as an opportunity to play your role in God’s mission here in Austin.  You play a big role on our team!

Home Application: Ask the members of your family/ household who they around them they are being intentional to reach right now. If they don’t have much of an answer, use this is an opportunity to talk through the idea of mission with them.

How intentional are you at being a missionary in the place God has called you?

Devotional written by Stephen

Me Lucky Charms!

January 22, 2015

“So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” Galatians 3:-9

There’s a pretty obvious pattern that takes place throughout the Bible. When people are obedient to God, he blesses them. When people decide to be disobedient God, they no longer receive God’s blessing. It’s a pattern throughout the Old Testament. And it’s one that’s seen all throughout the Gospels and rest of the New Testament too. This passage is another reminder if you have faith in God, he will bless you!

We tend to have a skewed view of what God’s blessing actually is. God’s not a magical genie or leprechaun that chills in the sky and grants you wishes if you follow him. It doesn’t mean we’ll be rich if we follow him. God’s blessing means that he will take care of you and provide for you every day of your life, as long as you continue to trust him. It means that as long as we are obedient to God, he will provide for us.

That’s way better than lucky charms!

 

Personal Application: In what area of your life do you find it the hardest to have faith? Whatever area that is, that’s probably the area where you need God’s blessing the most! So how do you receive it? Have faith. Hand it over to God.

 

Home Application: Today would be a great day to talk about “blessings” with your family. Take a few minutes to discuss how society defines blessings vs. the Bible.

 

In what area of your life do you find it the hardest to have faith?

 

Devotional written by Stephen

Scuba Mask for Jesus

January 21, 2015

Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? – Galatians 3:2

What is our faith? Is our faith based on God finally concretely proving himself to us? Paul asks these same type of questions to the Galatians. The greatest proof of Christ’s love for us was when He died on the cross. Unfortunately none of us were there to see it. Therefore, our faith, or belief in God, comes solely from the Holy Spirit working in our heart and confirming that belief for us. As we trust and believe what the Bible tells us, we will begin to see how God is constantly working around us. It reminds me of the time when Saul/Paul was converted (Acts 9). He had to have the scales fall off of his eyes before he was able to truly let the Holy Spirit work in his life.

If you are scuba diving, you always wear a mask. If you don’t wear a mask, we may know how to swim or how to breathe in the tank but our eyes are bothered by water being right in our eyes. However, when you have the tool needed to see clearly, underwater truly becomes a whole new world. (cue Aladdin on the magic carpet)

The same is true in Christ. Once we have taken the step of faith to say, “yes I believe God,” we begin to see the workings of Christ in our lives and the lives of others around us. They are no longer coincidences because God is in control of all things and we can begin to attribute the way we are blessed to Him. In that way He is glorified.

Personal Application: Remember where your faith began. That faith gives you the “eyes” to see God working.

Home Application: Follow the statute in Deuteronomy 6 to teach these things to your children. The story of the Gospel should be retold in our homes constantly.

How have you seen God working around you?

Devotional written by Travis Hogg.

I know who has the answers.

January 20, 2015

And the Lord said to Job:“Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.” – Job 40:1-2

If you have ever read the book of Job, you are well aware of the pain and questioning that Job had to endure. Job had his family tragically taken away from him. He had all of his possessions destroyed. He was stricken with horrible illnesses. Yet through it all he remained faithful to God. The entire book gives an incredible account of a man who is trying to stay faithful to God even when he does not understand anything God is allowing to happen.

I went through a trial in my life once of great loss. A very close uncle passed away suddenly from a previous head injury. I remember being n the hospital with my two younger cousins. Both of them had always looked up to me and we had a sibling type of relationship. So I knew they were looking to me for answers. During this time, I questioned God quite a bit and asked Him if He really knew what He was doing. There was no way that this circumstance is what was supposed to happen.

 

In the passage above, God answers Job’s questioning with a question. God asks, “Do you have all the answers or does the Almighty?” Job then realizes that who he is is nothing before God and trusting God through all the pain is more important than knowing why or how the pain exists.

And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. – Job 42.10

In the end, God restored all of Job’s fortune to him and doubled it. The lesson here is not that we will get some reward after going through a hard time, but that God has a plan for us that is better than we can plan ourselves.  God wants us to be completely trusting of what He is doing and if we truly believe that God is sovereign than He IS in control of all things.

Personal Application: God may take us through some trials in life in order to strengthen us. Trust God in what He is doing.

Home Application: We may face struggles to raise a child, money hardships, or other family issues, but we must hold on to what is true: the Word of God and the blood of Christ.

How do you find yourself trusting God in your life?

Devotional written by Travis Hogg.

Papa Jethro

January 19, 2015

When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” – Exodus 18:14

Have you ever been in a situation where a lot was going on but you knew you had to just do something? This could be in a time of tragedy, confusion, or even a time for improvement. You don’t really know what the right move is but you have to just do something, is what you tell yourself.

In this passage, Moses has led the people of Israel out into the wilderness and has now become the sounding board for every single Israelite. As the leader of these people, he had to lead them but he really did not know when God was going to bring them to the Promise Land. He was alone in the process or at least felt that way. That is a tough place to be in. Eventually he meets up with his father-in-law, Jethro. Jethro hears about all God has done for the Israelites and naturally hears the frustrations the Moses has as he tries to lead the Israelites to the best he knew how. Jethro gives some sage advice that I often turn to in my own life. He advises that he needs to find several men to help him carry the burden.

It is important that we find that voice of reason in our life to help us understand what God is doing in our lives. God does speak through people and we see that over and over again in scripture.

Personal Application: Find a person of significant life experience who is mature in their faith to help point out where you need help and can give you needed advice.

Home Application: In a familial sense, locate an older couple who has raised their family to have them pour into you and teaching you what worked for them and what did not work.

What characteristics would you look for in a “Jethro” for your life?

Devotional written by Travis Hogg

How do I get involved?

January 16, 2015

And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus. – Acts 5:42

Small groups are a big part of what we do at Bannockburn. We did not invent the idea nor have we perfected it, but there are always better ways to do something. You may even be asking, “What is a small group?”. The answer is….a small group of people. Whew, that was tough. But you probably are wondering what is the purpose of small group.

Small groups are a microcosm of the church. While it is impossible to have a personal relationship with every member of the church body, a small group provides a close-knit sampling of people with whom you can form a personal relationship. This gives each church member the opportunity to share life’s ups and downs in an intimate setting.

In this passage, the apostles are making sure that everyone knows that church does not just happen on Sunday morning. They are teaching, yes, in the temples, but then they spend their time going house to house encouraging believers with the Gospel. Small groups are the modern version of sharing Christ with people through encouragement and prayer.

Every follower of Christ should have three intentional aspects to their personal walk with Christ: be an active part of a group of believers, intentionally reaching out to nonbelievers , and consistent personal time spent with God (see Carla Dillard’s January 9th post). Do you see where small groups fit in?

In a small group you can have a place to celebrate your work on outreach. You can also pray as a group to ask God to move in the heart of a person you are reaching out to. Also small groups can be a great place to share what you are learning in your personal time with God. This process allows us to teach each other what God is doing in our own life and understand different perspectives of scripture you may be reading. Your small group can even do outreach together and serve. In my mind, small groups make the church an organism instead of an organization.

Personal Application: If you are not part of a small group, find one that fits you ASAP. If you are a member of a small group, encourage your group to be a group of vitality where God is always on the move.

Home Application: Make sure that your entire family can find a place in a small group. The connections made in small group keep us energized to follow Christ with all we have.

How is your small group alive and working?

Devotional written by Travis Hogg.

What do you know?

January 15, 2015

I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. – Galatians 2:2

Something that really stood out to me in this passage is what Paul is doing in verse 2. Basically, he goes before the men who walked with Jesus and were now church leaders in order to tell them how he presents the Gospel and what he believes. He does this to make sure everything he is teaching lines up with what Jesus actually lived out.

This is a very important part of our walk with Christ as we reach out to a lost and dying world. We need to stay accountable to other Christians. This does a number of things. 1. It keeps the Gospel pure from any corruption, 2. It challenges how we articulate the Gospel, and 3. It unifies believers.

You have probably heard the term accountability partners over and over in the church world. We typically think of this partnership as a person to make sure we are studying God’s word and praying for each other. That’s all great, but how cool would it be to throw ideas off of each other about what you believe the Bible says. As you discuss a part of the Bible, you are sharpening one another(Proverbs 27:17). You also are making yourself more educated and able to articulate well how you represent the Bible in word to people.

Personal Application: Find a few people. Find someone you look up to who you can learn from when it comes to Biblical knowledge. Find someone who you can study the Bible with and read along together.

Home Application: Check with your family to see if everyone is spending time in God’s word. Try memorizing verses together as a family to reinforce what you have read.

Do you intentionally have someone in your life to keep you accountable?

Devotional written by Travis Hogg.

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