Archive | October 2011

Living Waters–Quenching the Soul-Thirsty

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People all around us are thirsty.  I don’t mean just dry mouthed or parched, I mean a consuming thirst that is so intense that they are driven to find something to satisfy it.  They are searching and trying everything they can, but most are discovering that what they thought my bring satisfaction has merely brought more thirst. 

People have turned to alcohol thinking that by drinking enough they would be able to quench that inner thirst.  It leaves them numb for a moment, but in the end it shatters their lives and they live with that thirst still present beneath the mental fog of a hangover.

People have turned to drugs to try to take the edge of that longing.  They try a variety of substances and discover that now not only are they thirsty still in their souls, but the talons of addiction have also embedded themselves in their lives and they are shackled by the constant need for more of something that cannot satisfy their need.

People have turned to relationships and sex to try to cover up the lonely longing they experience.  Young girls give away the precious treasure of their purity because some young handsome guy has promised to be all she needs, but in the end—even the most sincere of young men—those promises fall short and leave behind broken hearts and still thirsty souls. 

People have turned to religion to try to satisfy the spiritual and supernatural yearning thinking that the thirst can be subdued through ritual.  The pews of the average church are filled still today with the soul-thirsty and spiritually dead who have memorized all the rules and regulations but find that the longing within them goes untouched.  Still more have left the doors of the religious establishments of every creed because what they found there only increased their craving.

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To the soul-thirsty of our community and world the words of Jesus’ invitation bring a promise that no man can fulfill.  on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “IF ANY MAN IS THIRSTY, let him come to Me and drink. 38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.'” (John 7.37-38)

This is not some canned promise that says that everything in life will be alright once you do this.  This isn’t a simple formula for success or fulfillment or a promise that your best day is now.  It is the assurance that even in difficult and trying times there will be a sufficient strength found in the fountain of Christ’s indwelling presence through the Living Water of the Holy Spirit which will flow in the life and soul of every believer. 

Ask any recovering addict and they will tell you that the road out of addiction is hard, and being a Christian doesn’t automatically make it easier.  Ask any of the myriad of single moms and they will tell you that the mistake of giving away their virginity in their youth doesn’t just vanish when they started following Christ.  Inquire of some of the religious faithful who left the trappings of a religious life to find the living relationship with Christ and they will inform you that their lives didn’t suddenly become a “bowl of cherries.”  

But for all of these people—and for me as well—there is the undeniable truth that something is significantly different.  The soul-thirst is satisfied as I drink from the well of living water.  Like with my morning coffee, it won’t just enter into me because I tell it to.  We have to go to the well.  Will you come?   Will you make your way to the well of Christ, bring your cup and drink, and receive the living water into your life so that you too will never thirst again.

If you have been to the well then it is time to bring someone else, cup in hand, to discover that Living Water themselves.  In a blink they can go from darkness into light.  Share the living water with someone around you today.

Look for the Well!

It Needs to Matter

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Recently I had a brief discussion with a young lady about religion.  Her experiences had exclusively been in one particular type of church, and unfortunately had left her with a sense of bitterness and disconnection concerning religion and the things of God.  It was obvious she had some significant questions, but time did not allow us to delve very deeply into them.  I’m praying for another opportunity soon to share my heart with her. 

I think we need to make sure that our religion matters.  That’s what I gathered from her frustration over her experience.  It had been important to a lot of people in her family, but she didn’t see that it mattered to her personally.  Our religious experience should be significant and should leave us changed.  If we are connected with the God of the universe then how can that not matter.

For it to matter it should touch every aspect of our lives.  People around us should see that it makes a difference to us.  When I have opportunity to connect with her again I’m going to encourage her to look for people who she can tell their connection with God has made a real difference.  In the mean time I’m going to pray that she will be able to see the difference my relationship with Christ has made in my life. 

Would she see that if she were observing your life?

Here’s Steven Curtis Chapman’s song “The Change.”  Enjoy, and let it challenge you.

Where’s The Beef?

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Where’s the Beef?

A while back I got a magazine from the college I attended with a note about the president’s address earlier this fall that was done in a series of three chapel talks based on the old Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?” commercials. If you remember those ad, Clara Peller would repeatedly ask “where’s the beef” when she lifted the fluffy bun top off the burgers of various fast food companies. The problem was that they might look real good with those nice fluffy buns, but the real substance was lacking.

In the series of messages there was a challenge to be more than just “fluffy bun believers” but to really be “beefy believers.” In other words, bring substance into our lives.

Here are the three areas of substance that we need to focus in on.

1. Beef-Up in the area of Love

The people around us expect that we are going to be different. We are commanded time and time again in scripture to be people of love, even to the extent that we would express love to our enemies. However, sometimes it is hard to see whether or not we even love our own family let alone those who are against us. We need to “beef-up” our love for…

· One Another

· The Lost

· The Hurting

· Our Enemies

As one of those old “camp-fire” songs I used to sing so often says, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

2. Beef-Up in the Area of Service

The meat of our lives is expressed in our service. How we respond to the needs around us will show the substance of who we are. Jesus did what needed to be done, even when it was hard, unpopular, and unappreciated. We need to stop whining…stop making excuses…and get engaged in serving. There are so many needs, we don’t have time to sit back and complain. Let the world see the servant in you…Jesus as He touches lives through you.

3. Beef-Up in the Area of Worship

Worship unashamed. This is more than just showing up to church on Sunday. It’s letting worship, praise, and appreciation flow in your life. It’s learning to give thanks—even in difficult circumstances. See, “fluffy-bun-believers” are all there for the music, preaching, and good feeling Sunday service…but real “beefed-up believers” learn to live a life where worship is real substance. They can say, with Job who had lost so much, “I know that my Redeemer lives!” They can shout “Praise the Lord!” as the hordes converge on them. They can whisper a prayer of thanks for the broken road they are on. They can sing “Blessed be your name” on roads marked with suffering and in the dessert place.

So there are three key ares – Love, Service, Worship—where we as believers could use some real substance…the beef of our lives. Look beneath the fluffy buns of our life…do you see beef, or are you wondering with those around you, where’s the beef.

What do you do if you find that you are more Fluff than Beef?

First, confess that, because it is not God’s will for you. Agree with God that you are not where you know He wants you to be in these areas. Step one in any road to recovery is to admit there is a problem.

Second, commit to turning from where you are to where He wants you to be. This is accomplished by seeking Him in Bible reading/study, prayer, worship, and service. Yes, as you do the things He’s asking you to do you will be continually getting closer to Him.

Third, recognize where you are so that when you begin to slip from time to time—and you will—you will be more aware of it and able to respond by getting back on track.

People around us are wondering, “Where’s the Beef?” They are looking—and longing—for the substance of what and who we are as followers of Jesus Christ. They are expecting us to be different and to offer them a better way then what the rest of the world offers. We can, but it means we need to “Beef-Up” as believers. So, let’s bulk up on what matters and let the substance be visible beyond the fluff.

(Dr. Thomas Kinchen is president of The Baptist College of Florida)

Thirsty? Come to the Well

A Thirst for Living Water

All people at all times have a thirst for spiritual things. We might be unaware of this “soul-thirst” because we attempt to flood our lives with alternatives to the Living Water. But on the inside, there is still an undeniable longing and emptiness that only Jesus Christ can fill. Here are three thirsts that are common to all men, and find their answer and satisfaction only in the well of Living Water.

Thirst for God

“As the Deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalms 42:1-2).

All people have a God-shaped vacuum inside of them, an emptiness that only He can fill. How can people fill that void? By coming cup in hand to the well of Living Water found in a relationship with Jesus Christ and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

Thirst for Community

Everyone wants to have a place to belong. It is human nature to form ourselves into clubs, teams, unions, gangs and armies. Like families, some of these can be beneficial, some can be dysfunctional. The word “church” means a called out assembly. It is not just being with other people, but it is a community that functions with a unique identity on a foundation of common faith.  The church is made up of far more than bricks, mortar, nails and studs…it is the living and functioning body of the Lord Jesus Christ in the world.

Thirst for Purpose

“What on earth am I here for? What is my unique contribution that I am called to make in the world?” I believe that when people are being filled with God, and are participating in a community of others being filled with God, then they best find the opportunity to discover their purpose. In general it is to do everything for the glory of God.  We stop living life as though everything is about me.  We cease the mentality that states, “It’s my world, you’re just living in it.”  We begin to realize and live with the understanding that it is all about Him, the Lord, and it’s all about introducing others to Him.

Want to Know More?

Drop me an email or leave a comment on here and I will share with you how you can find your way to the well and experience satisfaction of your soul-thirst.

Blessings!

Dave “Big D” Bentley