Monday, November 28, 2011

Guest Blog: Ben Taylor "Lion King Identity"

You are a child and heir of God
It just so happens that the Lion King has some interesting parallels to our identity in Christ.  If you were at XLM on Sunday, you saw the series of clips we showed.  If not, go check out the classic, and keep your eyes open to the underlying messages about identity!  Here’s a recap…

Inheritance.   Simba was a son and heir to the Lion King, Mufasa, destined to "rule everything the light touches." As a lion, his place in the circle of life was to eat meat.

You are a child and heir of God. God says that those who have received his Son have been given the right to be called sons of God (John 1:12). If you have surrendered your life to Jesus and sworn allegiance to him, do you realize that you are considered royalty? Paul says in both Galatians and Romans that we are royal heirs who have been adopted into God’s family (Romans 8:15-17).  In Christ, we are much more than we think. But, things are not always cake and ice-cream…

Monday, November 14, 2011

Why Is Change So Difficult?

Change must be a part of our lives if we are following Christ.  All throughout the Christian life God brings us through a sanctification process: being made to look more like Christ.  This process involves a total life-change.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Story to Tell

Every one of us has a story to tell.  

Sometimes we hear the testimonies of people who have experienced major, life-altering encounters with Christ.  People who were drug dealing gang members robbing banks and knocking over old ladies (okay, maybe a strech, but you get the idea), and God miraculously pulled them out of their sin and saved them.  We celebrate those stories because they demonstrate the overwhelming grace of God!

And then we think of our story.

To us, our story seems boring, uneventful, and not as "glamorous" as those others.  So we don't tell our story.

This is a tragic mistake.  If you've met the risen Christ, you have a story to tell!  Tell it often, tell it to anyone who will listen.  Because if you don't, you'll never know how God could have used your story to write someone else's.

What's your story?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Rest of Your Life

Our Retreat Center for the weekend
What are you going to do with the rest of your life?

That was the question asked again and again by the speaker of the CBC Men's Retreat this weekend.  The retreat was held at a beautiful campsite near Harrisonburg, VA.  The theme for the retreat was "Leaving a Legacy" and the speaker talked to us about Leadership, Discipleship and Finishing Well.

Our speaker, Tom Joyce, a pastor in Northern Virginia, had such an inspiring life story.  He shared from experiences he's had from being in the Pentagon on September 11th in the area that was hit by the plane, to his time at the Naval Academy and Harvard to flying planes for Top Gun (the movie as well as real life) to leading Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA.

My big takeaway for the weekend was that burning question:  What are you going to do with the rest of your life?  Tom's son asked him that after his life was spared at the Pentagon that day.  That one question changed the course of his life.  He couldn't shake it.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Identity Strongholds - Part 3: Shame

This week at XLM we looked at what the Bible says about shame (view message here).   We often experience shame because of things we've done, and it can become an identity stronghold when we define ourselves based on past failures.  Shame tells us, "You've messed up so that’s just who you are.  You're a liar, a bad friend, a failure.  Everyone knows who you are, you can’t change."  These are lies and need to be overcome.  

How do you know when shame is a stronghold?  Here are a few indicators:
You often think about past failures or experiences of rejection.  Thinking about things in your past gives you strong, painful emotions.  You seem to make the same mistakes over and over again.  You are generally disgusted with yourself and see yourself as immoral.  You feel that certain experiences have basically ruined your life.  (List taken from book: Search for Significance)

When shame has become a stronghold it can be destructive in a lot of ways.  It makes you condemn yourself when God has not.  It 
causes you to run away from God and not to him.  The purpose of conviction is to draw you to God and away from your sin, but shame pushes you further away from God.  Shame also puts the focus on you and not God, and it makes you think you cannot be used of God.