Recently we’ve explored how we build ourselves up through our “doing.” This week is more about the “triggers” that lure us into that kind of thinking. Our circumstances are one such set of triggers. Our own passions, and personal ambitions, are another.
First, let’s make one thing clear: God has given us hopes and dreams and ambitions to pursue. Not all of the “good things” we do are bad. Not by a long shot. The struggle is in who gets the credit, and in who’s really… Continue
Added by Carl Simmons on August 26, 2015 at 10:53am —
I have to admit, I’ve always been perplexed by people who talk about the “comfort” of the Christian life, especially in terms of it being the primary reason for believing in Christ. To be sure, there’s “comfort and joy” to be had in knowing Christ, and “a peace that passes all understanding.” But humanly speaking, there’s still life to be lived. And life can be painful—so much so that it cuts through the veneer of all that joy and peace that people both inside and outside of Christianity… Continue
Added by Carl Simmons on August 19, 2015 at 10:33am —
Let’s pick up where we left off last week: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29).
Is Jesus always trying to separate us from friends and family? Is that what he really wants?
I don’t think you can make a rule out of this. I think the real point is: We’re always to choose Jesus first. Whatever their proximity, Jesus’… Continue
Added by Carl Simmons on August 6, 2015 at 9:44am —
Now the rubber starts hitting the road even more violently. Not that it’s been easy at all to deal with all this internal stuff so far, but let’s face it: At some point, all that inner conviction has to begin manifesting itself as outward fruit. As Jesus’ half-brother James said, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and…
Added by Carl Simmons on July 29, 2015 at 10:57am —
Recently, I’d been walking around a wildlife area of Colorado, where informative plaques abounded. One plaque in particular caught my eye, highlighting the families who’d formerly owned ranches in this area in the late nineteenth/early twentieth centuries. It got me thinking about all the different ways we come up with to “historically” immortalize ordinary people after they’re gone (and by “ordinary,” I mean people we wouldn’t give a…
Added by Carl Simmons on July 28, 2015 at 5:12pm —
Our strength—or rather, our reliance upon it—is still pride. Therefore, it must be broken. Watchman Nee, in his book Changed into His Likeness, put it this way, “The characteristic of those who truly know God is that they have no faith in their own competence, no reliance upon themselves.” When we reach that point, we’re finally and truly useful to God.
Even much of the strength we think we have comes from our need to compare ourselves to others. We may be correct in… Continue
Added by Carl Simmons on July 24, 2015 at 11:17pm —
(and no, the timing of this has nothing to do with the holiday… :))
We spent a lot of time the last several weeks addressing our feelings toward those who’ve opposed and hurt us. Therefore we’re going start this week, and this new sub-series, by widening our net ever-so-slightly to include one more enemy—you.
All of us have been God’s enemies, and I’m not just talking in a positional, “before we were…
Added by Carl Simmons on July 8, 2015 at 11:24am —
Today we finish our section on the past and begin moving into the present. But there are still some things in our way we need to push aside, so let’s spend today identifying and dealing with them.
We have been created for worship. Therefore, we will ultimately worship something, and very often it’s something less than God. Peter Kreeft, in Christianity for Modern Pagans, aptly points out, “The alternative to theism is not atheism but idolatry.” Even as Christians, the… Continue
Added by Carl Simmons on June 24, 2015 at 10:33am —
I had originally considered calling this entry “Lay Down Your Judgment” or “Lay Down Your Grudges.” Either would have worked, and I’ll touch upon them here. But I think the title I settled on captures both those ideas, and something more.
My atheist buddy Tim has an amusing-truth kind of song called “I Hate to Be Judgmental,” which begins, “I hate to be judgmental, but some people make me sick.” Later on, though, a larger truth comes up: “I hate to be judgmental, but there's nothing… Continue
Added by Carl Simmons on June 10, 2015 at 7:30am —
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the following passage: “He (Christ) was numbered with the transgressors” (Mark 15:28, cf. Isaiah 53:12). I believe that in our own way we too are called to be “numbered with the transgressors,” and that it’s a key to moving past our old life and into the life Christ intends for us.
Because… well, let’s start with a simple truth: We are among the transgressors.
This isn’t to dismiss or excuse some of the truly horrific sins that… Continue
Added by Carl Simmons on June 3, 2015 at 11:05am —
Last week's entry was about you receiving forgiveness. This week, it’s about you extending it—to others, and ultimately to yourself as well. So yes, this week we’re still more focused on the “negative” pieces of our lives, but the bigger focus is on finding our way past those pieces.
So let’s pick up where we left off. This time, though, rather than dwelling on the things that have caused us deep shame—and for now, the need to forgive others in those areas—let’s go broad instead of… Continue
Added by Carl Simmons on May 27, 2015 at 11:10am —
“Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8, NIV).
One of the very first things Peter says to Jesus captures a huge issue for many of us. After a night of fishing and catching nothing, Jesus blesses Peter, James, and John with more fish than they can handle—and all Peter can see is how short he’s fallen of God’s perfection.
Which, in itself, isn’t a bad thing. It’s not unusual for us, either, to react this way when we first encounter Jesus; and we always need… Continue
Added by Carl Simmons on May 13, 2015 at 10:39am —
No matter where you are in relation to Jesus, “sin” is an ugly word. Just saying the word causes problems, so let’s get on the same page before moving forward. In the days and weeks to come we’ll break this down into much smaller pieces. Today is about defining our terms—and our solution.
People define sin any number of ways, even within Christianity, and tend to subject it to their own ideology…
Added by Carl Simmons on May 6, 2015 at 11:54am —
Now that we know who we are in Christ and have our heads on straight, now we can begin to deal with laying down our sin. We’ll explore this more broadly in the next entry, but today let’s start with one sin in particular, and arguably the most basic: Pride.
Every act of pride is an act of rebellion. We’re not talking about taking pride in your work or being proud of your kids—we’re talking about…
Added by Carl Simmons on May 3, 2015 at 5:03pm —
There’s a popular adage that’s been the chorus of at least a few good songs, which goes like this: “Everything you know is wrong.” That’s not entirely true, obviously (I think), but there’s still a lot of truth to it.
On the one hand, we put way too much stock in our own opinions and experiences, however true they may or may not be. On the other hand—and sometimes even simultaneously—we allow ourselves to become paralyzed by our lack of knowledge, lack of wisdom, or just… Continue
Added by Carl Simmons on April 22, 2015 at 6:27pm —
Many Christians today believe—or at least live as if they believed—that Jesus died solely to forgive them; and that because their messes are now cleaned up, they can go on with their lives as if Christ had no further claims upon them. This is, quite simply, not true.
If we’ve truly placed our lives and trust in Jesus, then we are also already under the same death sentence as Jesus. “For the death he died he died to sin, once for all,…
Added by Carl Simmons on April 15, 2015 at 9:42pm —
Let’s return to our discussion of “the “D-word” (discipleship) from last week. If you’ve been around the church for any amount of time, you know that it’s the missing link in the church today, whether you’ve been able to put your finger on it before now or not.
The problem of “nondiscipleship” has troubled me pretty much all of my Christian life…
Added by Carl Simmons on January 28, 2015 at 11:30am —
And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”—Matthew 28:18-20
Added by Carl Simmons on January 21, 2015 at 10:30am —
As some of you might know, I’ve spent the last 10 months working on a mega character curriculum for pre-K through adult, and all based on living out of our identity in Christ. As I’ve told any number of people, I don’t know who else could have been the guy for this. And I don’t say that as an ego thing (well, maybe a little, but…)—rather as a “you could count on one hand the people that God has taken down this particularly… Continue
Added by Carl Simmons on January 1, 2015 at 6:36pm —
Forgive the rambling—there is a point here, even if I’m still in the process of trying to nail it down fully myself….
In fact, a lot of the reason for this current post would be that I’m still processing and/or trying to live into what I’m dealing with. In fact, there’s a quote in my last book Lay It Down (buy it now, kids) that seems as prophetic now as it seemed just plain-old relevant… Continue
Added by Carl Simmons on August 27, 2014 at 9:12pm —