This week, we’re talking about what could take us off course or even ‘out of the race.’ We’re going to focus in on Satan’s attack plan for you. Read 1 Peter 5:6-9:
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
A wise person once asked me to consider Satan’s attack plan for me. If I was really effective doing what God called me to do, Satan’s going to come after me. So I had to put myself in Satan’s shoes and say, “If I was going to bring down Charles, here’s what I’d do… Going after him in these areas would destroy his trust in God, his family and the work he’s doing at Gateway.”
So here are three questions to process with your Running Partners:
1. What’s the attack plan Satan would put together to come after you at this stage in your life?
2. What specific steps are you taking to go on the offensive and be prepared for the attacks?
3. How can your RP’s help you be prepared?
I’m starting a spiritual journey with a group of ‘running partners’ over the next 3 months to go deeper in community and spiritual growth. But before you start running, it helps to know where you are so you can get your bearings and see if you’re headed in the right direction. This week we’ll be diving into our anchor passage, Hebrews 12:1-3:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Consider these questions:
1. Do you feel like you’re in it alone or that you have a few others in your life cheering you on? How do you hope this changes or improves over the next few weeks?
2. What is an area of sin or struggle that gets you tangled up that you need encouragement from your Running Partners to throw off so you experience freedom?
3. What opposition do you run into regularly as you run the race that has been marked out for you? How can your RP’s help you in this area of opposition?
4. How does what Jesus did through his life and death reset your perspective on running the race so you don’t grow weary and lose heart?
As you share these with your spiritual running partners, write down what each person says and commit to pray for them. Look for ways to encourage each other before you meet again (email, text, phone call, lunch).
How quickly do we stop doing the things we started to do? Whether it’s daily exercise, reading to our kids every night, taking intentional steps of spiritual growth, or whatever it was you committed to sticking to do… It seems that before long the things we said we were going to do, just drop off our radar because life gets crazy. I’ve realized that a big part of what I must do, is just to continue doing what I said I’d do. Consistency is a key to building trust and over time, making progress. In the words of Dory the fish with the short-term memory problem from Finding Nemo, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming!”
Do you have an ‘escape plan’ for when you’re feeling tempted? Ted Beasley, recently spoke at Gateway Church and challenged us to write a letter to our ‘future selves’ that we could pull out in the event we are feeling tempted. What would you say to yourself to avoid going down a path of regret and devastating impact. It’s a great exercise that may just save your life and the lives of those you love. Write your future self a message in a bottle today!
I was reminded this morning of Paul’s words to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” I pray the same will be true of me. That I will endure to the end. That I won’t just be a good “starter” but that I’ll be a good “finisher.”
Someone recently shared with me that they were trying to decide where to go church, and a wise person told them to go where they can serve. That’s part of our vision for Gateway: a place where everyone has a cause to serve and a community to grow. Have you found your place of service? A place where your passions, gifts, and talents intersect the needs of the world around you. Have you found a community that accepts you just as you are and challenges you to continually take next steps of growth? Answer those questions and you’ll be closer to living on mission.
How is Gateway being the church to each other and to the world around us? We’ll, we’re seeing Networks start to pop up all over the city (and globe). Networks are a group of 30-50 people who are intentionally taking steps to grow and serve together. I could say more, but this video explains it well:
Baptisms are one of the highlights of working for a church. You see people experience freedom with a new relationship in Christ and mark that decision symbolically with baptism. The last time we finished baptizing a bunch of people, our Next Gen pastor, Kenny Conley and I decided to ‘dunk’ our lead pastor, John Burke. Here’s the video someone captured:
I love Easter week! What a great reminder of the fact that I’m far from perfect, that someone loved me enough to give his life for me, and that I should share that story with others around me. Last Sunday at Gateway was a tangible example of Christ’s love for us as we saw 114 people baptized – identifying their lives with the one who gave his life. It was a great Palm Sunday!
While in Haiti, I had a chance to ask Brad Johnson (president of Mission of Hope) what separates good serving trips from bad. Here’s a summary of our conversation:
Be prepared to serve at all times: The trip is not about you! Although you’ll get a ton out of serving with Haitians, come ready to dig trenches and clean toilets.
Be strong: Conditions are rough, sleeping with no a/c, no warm showers, bugs, mosquito nets, malaria and 100 degree weather. Christ came to serve, not to be served… follow his example.
Be flexible: Things will not go the way you expect, so you have to be willing to flex any moment. This summer we were supposed to paint an orphanage, but the paint didn’t show up, so we built a sidewalk.
More to come in Part 2.