One Day at a Time

Resolutions. Are you making them? Have you already broken them? Just kidding.

What is a resolution? What does it mean to resolve to do something.

Resolve mean to “decide firmly on a course of action.”

During this time of the year we tend to make these grandiose goals and resolutions that are kind of attainable. You know?

Whatever you decide to pursue this year, let me just give you a word of advice that I am taking for myself this year. Take it ONE DAY AT A TIME!

Pursuing Jesus is much like this and Jesus tells us as much when He is challenging us to follow Him.

Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

Take up your cross DAILY. That is really the only way. The choice to follow Christ is a life-changing, one-time decision BUT it is also an on-purpose DAILY decision.

So choose to follow Jesus. Make it your life’s goal. Take up that cross (His will for your life) and DAILY carry it as you follow Him. That is LIVING ON PURPOSE.

Don’t get discouraged when you miss a day. The great thing about days is a new one comes every 24 hours so when one day is not seized, the next one is available. You don’t have to go back to start. Just start where you are.

I can’t wait to hear of the stories of how God used you ONE DAY AT A TIME. If you have one please send it to me at kevin@northmonroe.com! I want to collect the success stories of all of you who are following Jesus one day at a time.

God bless you and LIVE ON PURPOSE!

Glancing in the Rear View Mirror

I know we are all ready for 2020 to be behind us. It seems that this year yielded struggle after struggle. It is good to look forward. We definitely should spend more time looking in front of us than behind us.

It is kind of like driving a car. You have a windshield and you have a rearview mirror.

Which one is bigger?

The windshield is bigger which means that we must spend more time looking out the windshield. That is how we navigate safely down the road.

The rearview mirror is certainly smaller. We don’t spend enormous amounts of time looking into it. If we did then we would ignore the windshield and miss where we were going and what was in front of us. We’d crash.

BUT…we do glance in the rearview mirror from time to time because knowing what is behind us, helps us navigate what is in front of us. Glancing back can be valuable.

So before you completely move on from 2020, let me encourage you to glance back and see what you have learned. Maybe make a list of some important things that God has taught you that just might be valuable to you moving forward.

Solomon talked about the value of time in Ecclesiastes 3. You might recognize much of it as a song performed by the Byrds called Turn, Turn, Turn. In this writing, Solomon says that there is a time for every thing that happens under heaven.

THEN he makes this statement about all the things that happen…

“I know that all God DOES WILL LAST FOREVER; there is no adding to it or taking from it. GOD WORKS SO THAT PEOPLE WILL BE IN AWE OF HIM. Whatever is, has ALREADY BEEN, and whatever will be, already is. God repeats what has passed.” Ecclesiastes 3:14-15

The things that “happen” are under the sovereignty of a holy God who is always working to bring glory to Himself! He is working and allowing things so that people will be in AWE of Him! He is not surprised by anything – man, I am so glad.

So I am looking forward through the windshield to the new things God is going to do in 2021.

BUT, I also want to pause and take a glance in the rearview to be reminded of what God did even when the road seemed to hit detour after detour.

Some of those things I am looking back on...

I learned that quarantining with my wife isn’t so bad. She didn’t kill me :). We actually enjoyed it.

I realized how valuable personal relationships are.

I realized how valuable my church family is in my life.

I learned that the church is MUCH MORE than an hour on Sunday.

I learned that people respond to adversity differently – from different perspectives – and respecting their view does not mean I have to see it like they do.

I learned that teachers are AWESOME!

I learned that fear can rob joy.

I learned that sometimes I need to shut up and listen to others.

I learned that having a calling doesn’t mean you just go to ministry.

I learned that racism is still real today and I can play a part in ending it.

I learned that the faith of a child is what it takes to enter the kingdom of heaven. (My granddaughter accepted Christ as her Savior)

I learned that even when the world is dark, there is always a little bit of light. (My other granddaughter was born during quarantine)

I learned how to do my “job” differently than it has always been done.

I learned a bunch of stuff, I could probably go on and on for a long time. But you get the point. You have a list like this too. I know it.

SO take a glance in the rearview mirror as you move into this new year. See what God has taught you and how He is bringing Himself glory.

Live on Purpose.

“The Tradition Condition”

It is the time of the year when traditions are paramount in the lives of people all over the world. Christmas is full of those moments in time that you just KNOW are going to happen year after year.

When I was a kid, I can remember my dad getting home from work on Christmas Eve, us loading up the car or truck and heading to Henderson, TX to my Grandmother and Granddaddy’s house where we would stay and where I would wake up to Santa’s deliveries.

Traditions are the little moments and the big moments that we look forward to and count on.

Traditions are those moments of stability when everything can be normal even when the world is not.

We love our traditions. We count on them. We worship them.

WAIT. WHAT? We don’t worship our traditions! WELL….

Traditions can easily become idols in our lives if we allow it.

Idolatry is a major theme in the Bible. Idolatry shows up in the first 2 of the 10 commandments. FIRST 2! Must be important. Idolatry challenges God’s sovereignty in our lives and attempt to give us our own way.

Tim Keller states in his book Counterfeit Gods, an idol is “anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, and anything that you seek to give you what only God can give.”

Traditions become idols when we count on them more than we count on God and that happens so often especially during Christmastime. We shop, we watch movies, we bake, we go to church, we light candles, we look at lights, we gather with family, we give and get gifts and the list goes on and on.

We fill our time with so many traditions all in the name of Christmas that we sometimes, if we aren’t careful, forget the purpose behind all of the traditions.

As followers of Jesus, He is the purpose of Christmas and ultimately the purpose of the traditions. The traditions don’t replace Him – they point to Him. The traditions don’t overshadow Him – they remind of us of Him.

Often in our lives – my life – the traditions actually overtake the reason for the traditions and when that happens we – I – become very much like a Pharisee.

Many of the Pharisees I am sure at some point were well-meaning in their religion and traditions, but they became so chained to their traditions that it blocked their view of God even when He was standing right in front of them. They would not – could not budge off of their traditions to see the real meaning of the traditions in the first place. They had replaced the spirit of the law with the traditions of the law. They had become more about keeping traditions than allowing their heart to be impacted by the traditions. When their traditions were challenged to change, they bucked as hard as they could and dug their heels in and held on to what they knew and missed Who they could have known.

My prayer is this Christmas week, that I am not like that. I don’t want to have a limited perspective which is all a human tradition can offer me. I want to see Jesus.

Maybe God is using 2020 – the pandemic – the rise in Covid cases – the general craziness – as a chance for us to REFOCUS on Him in a different and more “on purpose” way this year. I pray I don’t miss it because of my “tradition condition.”

What if the Church…

This post is not about politics.

This post is not about issues.

This post is not about Presidents or President-Elects.

This post is about the CHURCH.

What if the Church would do what Jesus commanded us to do?

Matthew 28:18-2018 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 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, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

What if the Church realized that our calling comes from the authority of Jesus?

What if the Church would GO? (That literally means “as you are going.”)

What if the Church had the mindset to make disciples of Jesus, not disciples of politics, or sports teams, or whatever else that consumes us…?

What if the Church would see the world the way Jesus saw it?

What if the Church shared the gospel and helped people see the truth of it?

What if the Church taught those in the church how to be like Christ?

What if the Church remembered that Jesus is with us in this mission?

What if the Church truly loved God?

Matthew 22:37-40 “37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

What if the Church displayed that love with all of our heart and soul and mind?

What if the Church loved people in response to loving God?

What if the Church realized that all the “rules” we like to keep hinge on these two things?

What if the Church quit fighting among ourselves and obeyed the updated commandment of Jesus?

John 13:34 “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.”

What if the Church showed the world what real love is all about?

What if the Church agreed on Jesus to the point that all our petty disagreements went away?

What if the Church was an answer to Jesus’ prayer?

John 17:20-22 “I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in Me
through their message. 21 May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me. 22 I have given them the glory You have given Me.May they be one as We are one.”

What if the church was unified?

What if the world saw the Church’s unification and believed in Jesus?

What if the Church realized that we have the answer for the world?

What if the Church was the Church that Jesus intended for us to be?

What if I realized that I WAS the Church?

What if….?

Pray for our Schools

I have talked at length right here on this blog about the weirdness of our time. 2020 has been one of those years, hasn’t it? I made the joke the other day that would only land with people who watched the TV show LOST back in the day, that somebody must have failed to input “the numbers.”

As a pastor, this has been one of the most challenging seasons of ministry in my 25 years. From online church, to video content, to limited capacity, to mask issues…I am so thankful for those who have prayed for me and all of us as pastors during this time. Those prayers have definitely been answered. God is faithful like that.

Today, I want to call on you, my friends, to pray for and lift up regularly our school administrators, teachers, coaches, teacher’s aides, bus drivers, cafeteria staff, technical directors, students and anyone else associated with schools.

This year – especially this first semester – is going to be challenging like never before. I live with a teacher and I can attest to the fact that the stress is real. The unknowns are real. The risk is real. The love for students is real. The desire to “just teach” is real. The fear and anxiety is real.

It is about “the virus.” It is about not being able to see ALL their kids EVERY day. It is about the added stress of working in a classroom and working and teaching virtually. It is about not being able to do things the way they are used to. It is about wearing masks to teach. It is about their minds being focused on more than just students and lessons.

It is strange. It is going to be hard. We need to pray for those involved in our education system.

We already know that they outwork their pay. They already take much of their work home with them. They already go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of kids.

We also know that they are above average in response to difficult situations. They proved this on a daily basis BEFORE the pandemic but they proved it even more once the pandemic hit and schools were let out. They created zoom classes on their own and met and kept up with their kids. They agonized over not being able to see them daily. They showed us what heroes really look like.

One more thing I know is this. GOD IS BIGGER THAN THE CRAZINESS OF 2020 AND HE CAN WORK IN AND THROUGH OUR SCHOOLS AND TEACHERS TO BRING ABOUT AMAZING THINGS FOR HIS GLORY.

I know He can. I know He will. So I am asking you to join with me in committing to pray for our school folk. Especially those making decisions and those in the classroom. They need the prayers, they need God to work for them and through them. They need people like us standing in the gap for them. They need encouragement.

Will you pray with me for them? I want to close this blog with a prayer for them taken directly from scripture.

Psalm 91. Let’s pray.

Father, I pray for our teachers now. I pray, in the name of Jesus, that you will be with all of our schools, our faculties and staff as well as students and parents. I pray for wisdom and protection.

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. God you alone are their refuge, their place of safety; you are their God, and we pray they will trust you…Lord, we pray that you will be their refuge and their shelter so that no evil will conquer them and no plague will come near their home. Order your angels to protect them wherever they go…We know you say, ‘I will rescue those who love Me. I will protect those who trust in My name.'”

Lord we pray that each teacher will know You, know Your presence and Your protection as they begin this school year. May they be protected. May You be glorified!

We love and trust You. Amen.

Please commit with me to pray daily for our teachers and school workers.

Live on Purpose.