It's FRIDAY ... so pour yourself a cup of the brew made from coffee beans and join me for a few random thoughts.

1. Ever since I made a decision about following Jesus at age 16, I have been practicing a "quiet time." I am sure you are familiar with the expression, if not the practice. But what should be happening when one practices a quite time? Here is an excellent post that explains what a quite time is and is not!

2. The church today is full of consumer Christians. These include the many men, women, teens and tweeners and even kids who head to church to get something out of their "church experience." As a pastor I have heard too many times to count, "Pastor, we have decided to leave the church because we just aren't getting anything." Hmm. Should we attend church to get? Or should we be attending in order to give? Far too many of us have missed the boat on what "going to church" is all about. My prayer for my church is that we would come not to get ... but to give. To give God the honor and glory due his name (through worship). To give a word of encouragement to our brothers and sisters who are burdened with the difficulties of life. To point the way to Jesus to those who are either lost or are confused in their faith journey. Jesus himself said that it is far better to give than receive (Acts 20:35). The paradox in all of this is this: The more we give ... the more we get! So as you prepare to head to your church facility this weekend ... do so with the expressed purpose to give. And you might walk away getting more than you have received in a long time!

3. If you are a regular church goer ... one of the activities you are involved in is listening to a sermon (at least I hope the people in my church are listening to the sermon!). I wonder if you really know how to listen to a sermon. Phil Ryken, former pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia (where I heard him preach a few times ... and he is a good preacher) and now president of Wheaton College, gives some excellent advice on how to listen to a sermon. Well worth the time to read and the effort to apply!

4. Finally ... it's easy for us American Christians to forget about our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who are facing stiff persecution for their faith. Take a moment to read The Top 50 Countries Where It Is Now Hardest to Be A Christian. Then make a commitment to regularly pray for our fellow Christians in these countries. Pray that they would stand strong in the grace of God and that God would comfort them as they do so.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

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