Esteem

Beautiful single woman with perfect teeth and skin and a nice smile(Celebrating Jesus Christ Edition)

One of the joys of teaching in Christian universities is that I get to read the research and reflections of students who freely and openly follow Jesus Christ. They are still learning from Him and in offering their insights (almost always for a grade!), they continue to teach me.

In this edition of quotes from actual papers and assignments from students from all over the world, I celebrate the life, death, resurrection, return, and Lordship of Jesus Christ.  Read on… you’ll be as blessed and challenged as I was.

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Spring tulip fields in Holland, Netherlands

According to the experts in global culture, setting aside specific countries or tribes, you belong to one of 10 primary social groups: Anglo, Germanic, Latin European, African, Eastern European, Middle Eastern, Confucian, Southeast Asian, Latin American, and Nordic.

One in 10 – that alone makes you pretty statistically insignificant.

Broadly speaking, again setting aside the ever-increasing labels for new “communities” springing up, three genders have been formally recognized at a government level somewhere in the world – male, female, and transgender. Factor that into the previous set of distinctions, and move over – now you’re one in 30. [click to continue…]

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Boxing Gloves

How would it change the way you approached God if you knew – with confidence – that He was not angry with you? Or even arguing, wrestling or wearying you?

Take a look at this promise:

“For I will not contend forever,
Nor will I always be angry;
For the spirit would grow faint before Me,
And the breath of those whom I have made” (Isaiah 57:16).

The essential Old Testament story of the relationship between God and man is one of contention. The Lord had His standards – His Law. Man had his willful rebellion and sinful nature – so bad, even the finest of heroes is revealed as deeply flawed.

But in the verse above the Lord reveals another side to His character, and promises another kind of relationship. It will be one not based on contention or anger, but on revival and rebuilding.

I thought you should know today that this promise has been fulfilled. God is not contending anymore. He’s out of the wrestling business. [click to continue…]

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Business people

It’s a Martian word, so you probably don’t hear it a lot down here, unless you move in some hipster or techie circles. It’s a darkly guttural word that sounds something like a bullfrog in a fight with a cat, so it lacks a certain sense of poetry.

But it’s an important word to describe a unique and powerful ability that can separate:

  • leaders from posers,
  • successful marketers from annoying advertisers,
  • elected officials from also-rans,
  • spiritual shepherds from obnoxious preachers,
  • faithful, lifelong friends or marriage partners from relational flame-outs,
  • Oprah from, well, anybody (okay, just kidding… a little).

I’m referring, of course, to grokking. [click to continue…]

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The light in young woman hands in cupped shape. Concepts of sharing, giving, offering, taking care, protection

“I don’t know how to describe this.”

Ever have an experience like that?

Ever observe something so profound, so extraordinary, so loaded with meaning that words looked cheap next to it?

One of the finest wordsmiths of all time, and a major contributor to the Bible itself, had that very experience. And in the midst of his gritty, get-it-done work and demeanor, even he was at a loss to use words to describe what was taking place. All Paul could say was, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”

That’s a profound thing to say, considering some of the things he did describe in his New Testament letters.

Know what makes it even more profound? This “indescribable gift” came disguised as something rather ordinary, that anyone, anywhere can enjoy. This isn’t some secret sauce for super-saints. In fact, on a surface level it looks rather common and ordinary. And yet something behind the scenes turns the ordinary into a speechless wonder.

Know what makes it even better than that? You may have been participating in this indescribable gift and didn’t even realize it. Or if you haven’t, you can start today. [click to continue…]

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CelebrationThink fast…

When was the last time you asked the Lord to do something for you and He graciously did it?

Think faster…

Why did He do that?

Sorry for being presumptuous, but let me guess at some typical think-fast answers…

  • Because He loves me.
  • Because I asked.
  • Because He said He would.
  • Because He wanted to (it was “His will”)

I’m sure there are more, and I’m quite sure that whatever you came up with has at least some measure of truth in it. But I’m not sure we’ve landed on the ultimate prize.

Slow down your thinking a little and read this carefully (the emphasis is mine): [click to continue…]

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Dusk shilouette

The promise is so simple, so straightforward and true, it’s easy to dismiss it.

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).

What if He meant just what He said? What if the circumstances and signals all around you were echoing the same refrain? Maybe it’s time to take Him up on His promise…

When it seems as though you’re arguing with everybody in sight, it’s time to draw near.

When you’re lost in a war of wills, and it feels as though the whole world is pushing against you, it’s time to draw near.

When you life is a continuous array of unacceptable disappointments, it’s time to draw near.

When divorce or disowning is not an option, but murder is looking pretty good, it’s time to draw near. [click to continue…]

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You live in what feels like a constant state of tension. Even your “good stress” is, well, stress. You check the news at least each day to make sure you’re on top of the latest thing to worry about. Your time is stretched so thin that any interruption or change of plans sends you reeling emotionally.

Your credit cards are loaded to the max, and your life feels a lot like your email inbox – loaded with clutter, junk, and unfinished business – some of which is actually important.

Your best sleep comes after 2:00 in the morning. You avoid those medical checkups because you already know what they’re going to say. Unless, of course, you need to get that prescription refilled.

And then…

…then, somebody comes along, usually on a Sunday, and says…

“Let’s worship Jesus!”

And honestly, it just feels like another reason to feel anxious.

What if I were to tell you that if you’re harried and helpless, stressed out or fried emotionally, the Bible actually gets where you’re coming from? If I could show you a way to magnificently worship the Lord Jesus, even when you’re at the end of your rope, would you be interested?

This is an Offering for the Overworked, overstressed, overeating, over-fill-in-your-blank.

Ready? Here it is: [click to continue…]

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Hidden Clock

In the mood for a little detective work?  Care to uncover a secret that may have right in front of our noses for years?  It certainly was in mine, and I was oblivious.

Would you be interested in mining out some clues if I told you that when you do, you may have discovered one of the most powerful life and success principles known to humanity?  And that if you master this one skill, the transformation in your own life, to say nothing of your influence and circumstances, can be breathtaking?

Am I exaggerating?  No, if anything I’m understating the potential of this discovery.

Getting this – I mean really getting it – can explain why you tend to sabotage yourself after you’ve made progress toward a goal.

It may explain why churches or individual leaders lose their influence, or why they nourish it.

It may explain why you have made progress toward healing, then somehow hit a wall.

It may explain why your relationships go in frustrating cycles – hot today, cold tomorrow… intimate today, lonely later.

Finding this secret is like discovering a clock on your wall that’s been there the whole time, quietly ticking away, pointing to the correct time, but you may have never noticed it.  In one sense it’s obvious – in another, it probably calls for a closer look than you have given it.

Will it help you win the lottery?  Doubtful.  But it could lead you to a place where you never pine away for sudden wealth again.

Will it solve all your relationship problems?  Maybe, maybe not.  But it will position you to gain the most from every relationship you have or want to have, whether others cooperate or not.

I wish I could tell you that this secret has been locked away in some government vault and is now being released to a select few, and that if you pay me $3,999.00 I will share it with you, along with seven free bonus offers.  But the thing is, this secret has been in open view for anybody to see – and it’s free.

Still here?  Ready?  Okay, no more hype.  [click to continue…]

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Loneliness Concept - 3D

What did rejection look like to you on the school playground?  What about Junior High?  College?

What did rejection look like after you got married, or started a family?  What does it look like today in your workplace or your worship space?

Describing your experience with rejection is like describing an encounter with a snake.  Each experience is a little different, and the beast appears differently in every scene.  But in each case the result leaves a story to tell and an emotional experience to re-live or respond to.

I’ve had my own experiences, of course.  And I’ve seen it played out in countless lives…

Like the 59-year-old woman who said of her then-76-year-old mother, “Just once I wish I could hear my mother say I did something right.”

Or the only-child high school student who was rejected by his friends because he had a helicopter mother before the term was ever invented.  She meddled, and her son, whom she was trying to help and advance, was hated all the more.

Then there was the businessman who was rejected in the business world because he was part of a revolutionary approach to financial services, but was obnoxious about it.

I knew a pastor once who was rejected by the deacons in his church. After years of service, they felt that it was time for a change. So they gave him a deadline and asked him to find somewhere else to go. When he was unable to, they cornered him about resigning, and he turned the rejection tables back on them. Unbeknownst to them, he showed up one Sunday morning with has car packed, he got up at sermon time, explained that he’d been asked to resign, and walked out the door.  Ouch.

It may surprise you to know that some of the most memorable and powerful success stories in history are people whose lives arose from the ashes of rejection.  [click to continue…]

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