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Comparing Yourself To Others

Comparing yourself to someone else. We’ve all done it. It happens in the blink of an eye. The temptation to compare yourself to others is as near as your next chat with a co-worker, or checking in with your friends on Facebook.

I think comparison boils down to the fact that, deep down, we’re all a bit insecure about our self-worth and so we look around us for a frame of reference to assess how well we’re doing—in work/salary, faith, parenting, money, looks, etc.

For me, I look at someone who never seems to worry about “having it all together,” and wish my life was that easy. I see a dad who’s able to afford to take his son to all the major sporting events and envy creeps into my heart.

The comparison trap was handcrafted by the enemy as a way to strip you of your self-worth and to build walls between you and other people.

We all know that there’s no such thing as the perfect person, right? So why do we often judge ourselves by a standard of “perfection” that we (think) we see in others. Because the longer we do, the longer we stay trapped. And the longer we try to keep up the fa├žade of perfection in our own lives…the more anxious and depressed we become.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against resolving to change things that need to be changed.

But the ever-present nagging demands that you should:

• change your physical appearance
• keep a tidier house
• have more obedient children
• always have a smile on your face

is not God’s idea.

You…the unique person that you are…are God’s idea.

He created you just the way you are. He knows you inside and out (Ps.139:15).

From before the foundations of the earth, He knew you and He loved you (Jer.1:5).

Just as you are.  Imperfect. But created in His image.

He knew you would struggle, but it’s in your weakness, that you are made perfect (2Cor.12:9).

You are meant to walk in grace and in the freedom of who you are in Him.

So walk your walk with confidence in who God’s called you to be….it’s the only walk you were created for.

For me, I have finally realized what a toll my comparisons have taken on me, and I’ve been learning how to trust Him to release me from them.

How about you: What causes you stress because you feel like you never measure up?

Try this: make a list of those areas where you don’t feel as if you measure up. Then, cross each item out, one at a time, and whisper those life-giving words with me. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Ps.139:14

Author: Mike Woods
 

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3 Lessons "The Voice" Taught Me About The Christian Life

Some of you may have caught yourself watching the finale of The Voice this past Tuesday. I must admit I’m a bit of a fan. Since the show debuted in 2011, I typically have seen the majority of most of the seasons. I suspect many of you may think one of your pastors likely watches Christian broadcasting around the clock, but I have been known to watch some other shows on television as well. This season, I got swallowed up in The Voice all the way through the grand finale. What exactly was so captivating about it? I thought about it last night watching the final episode of this season, and I believe there are 3 main hooks that reel me in when I’m watching it.

FIRST, the premise is the judges can initially only choose singers for their team based on the sound and appeal of their voice----not on their looks. THAT’S JUST THE WAY GOD LOOKS AT US ALSO.

God looks to the HEART, as it says in I Peter 3: 3-4:

“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.”

Did you know that 90% of an iceberg lies hidden beneath the surface of the water? It is the part that is unseen. So it is with us. The person we are is not always what is seen on the surface. There is much more to each of us---both good and bad. I think that’s part of the fascination with The Voice because long before a person makes it to the final show, they must have demonstrated the qualities inside that proved them capable to be a singer.

SECOND, this year something unique happened in the tryouts. Once an auditioning singer is chosen for one of the celebrity teams, one less spot becomes available. Each celebrity star has 12 spots to fill on their roster of singers. This year, 47 of those spots were filled when a young man named Chris Blue from Knoxville, Tennessee walked onto the stage. Chris serves as a worship leader at a church in that area. He was selected to fill the 48th spot of singers that “made the cut” for the television series. Well, not only did he fill the final spot, he won this year’s Voice competition on Tuesday night. That thought leads me to my next point:

YOU HAVE BEEN CHOSEN. Anyone can contribute to the Kingdom. It’s not about power, prestige, or influence. God will use you where you are. It didn’t matter to Chris Blue that he was the last singer chosen- ultimately he won the entire competition. In our lives, maybe you weren’t the first one to give your heart to the Lord and serve. Nonetheless, you have been CHOSEN by God. It is your moment to shine and to serve for the kingdom. Use the platform and the stage you have been given to sing for the King.

And THIRD, I’ve learned from watching The Voice over the years about the POWER OF MENTORING.

If you watch the show, you’ll know that each amateur singer is a member of one of the celebrity singer’s teams. More than a part of the team, though, is the fact for weeks—however long they last on the show—they are mentored by the coach of the team to enhance their skills. From the first few weeks of the show until the finale, the improvement in the singers is noticeable. That comes about because a star singer is investing time and energy into an unproven singer with the goal of growth by that singer.

WHO ARE YOU INVESTING TIME AND ENERGY IN? If you are a seasoned Christian, this should be a natural part of the journey. If you are new to the faith, find ways to have others with more experience invest in you. The church offers many ways for that to happen, such as LIFE Groups, LIFE University classes, Men’s Fraternity, and Women’s Bible Studies. Plug in and mentor or spend time with those that need mentored.

Television shows will always have the primary goal of entertainment, but in watching the final episode of a show I’ve enjoyed watching this season, and seeing the guy I was rooting for being named The Voice Champion, the thoughts came to me today to tuck away in the recesses of my mind:

  • GOD LOOKS AT THE INTERNAL, not the external
  • YOU HAVE BEEN CHOSEN for his team
  • MENTORING is powerful.

Author: Pastor Jeff Thompson | Pastoral Care

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Handoffs Matter

In the 2004 Summer Olympics the United States had a phenomenal track team. They had some of the fastest runners in the world at the time and easily made it to the final of the 4x100m men’s relay. Team USA ended up losing that relay by one one-hundredth of a second to Great Britain. Team USA was faster on paper and was favored to win but they didn’t execute their handoffs and it cost them the gold.

Darvis Patton, who ran in qualifying on that relay team said, “We had four of the fastest guys in the world, three guys who go 9.8 and a guy who goes 9.9 and we only managed a 38.08 to get second, Great Britain, I think their fastest guy ran like 10.1 that year but they managed to get gold with great handoffs.”

Team USA had a handoff that brought them almost to a halt, and another handoff where one guy stepped on the others shoe and tore a hole in it. This led to an upset by one one-hundredth of a second. Handoffs Matter.

What’s Next?

In the same way that the second, third, and final legs of a relay race are just as important as the first, your next step in your spiritual journey is just as important as your previous step.

At First Baptist Orlando, we know how challenging it can be to discover that next step, and how much courage it often requires to take it.

That’s why we don’t want to simply wish you good luck and hope you get connected with our church. We want to come along side you and help you engage in a meaningful way to a ministry that’s going to help you grow in your relationship with Jesus. Because Handoffs Matter.

New Grocery Stores

I’ve always disliked the experience of going to a new grocery store. I walk inside and nothing is familiar. The chips and sodas are where I expect the produce to be, and maybe they don’t even have a deli section, which is a recipe for anarchy if you ask me, but I digress. It is frustrating to wander aimlessly up and down aisles when you are used to knowing exactly where to go. It is these moments when I need help navigating to my destination. Without helpful signs and an attentive staff a quick trip to the store can turn into a nightmare in a hurry.

Just like going to a new grocery store, trying out a new church can be challenging experience. Just like grocery stores churches can be very similar and very different at the same time. We understand that, and we want to be able to help you get connected and discover your next step.

That’s why we have made it our mission to make each transition for you as smooth as possible.

Getting Connected at First Baptist Orlando

At First Baptist Orlando, we want so much more for you than to simply enjoy sitting in a service for an hour a week. We want you to be connected. We want you to experience what is like to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Most importantly, we want to help you grow closer to God.

At a church as big as ours, there are a lot of ways to get connected, below are 3 great starting places that will help make your transition smoother:

1. If you’re new to First Baptist, we want to invite you to stop by one of our Blue Tents on the weekend, where we have a gift for you and your family and our Guest Services Volunteers can help you find seats, answer any questions you may have, and even assist you with checking in children to our Kids Ministry (so you can enjoy a distraction free environment during the service).

2. If you’re a new guest at our church and want to learn more about us, we have an event designed with you in mind called Discover First Orlando. You’ll be able to learn about our church, meet some of our pastors, ask questions, and find a way you can get connected.

3. Maybe you’ve been attending our services for a while and you want to take the next step. That may be getting involved in a Life Group, joining one of our serve teams, or giving for the first time. Whatever that next step looks like for you, we want to help you take it. Just stop by one of our Welcome Centers after the service, and our team of volunteers will help you get connected to whatever is next for you.

Come find out for yourself!

If you have never been to our church before the first thing you should know about us is that we deeply believe “All People Matter to God”, and we would love to have the chance to show you what that looks like.

You can join us at one of our 4 weekend services: Saturday at 5:30pm, or Sunday at 8:30am, 10:00am, or 11:30am.

Author: Jonathan Adams | Intern Connections Ministry

 

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The Post I Didn't Want to Write

I’ve honestly had a hard time writing this week. I didn’t know what to share. I had planned to do an exercise in studying the truth of God’s Word using Jeremiah 29:11, but that somehow felt misplaced this week. It would just be a cover for what was really stirring in my heart. I even procrastinated writing this on my normal Thursday schedule.

Every morning as we drive to school, we always pray as we drive down a certain road. Some days I forget, but on those days, my two-year old usually reminds me. And that’s exactly what he did Thursday morning.

“Mommy! You forgot to pway!”

I was in the middle of a sentence and by the end of the sentence, I had already forgotten the reminder. Can any of you relate?!

One of my mentors calls this month “May-hem.” There’s a strange mix of excitement over the rapidly approaching summer break, but also sadness as a year comes to a close. It’s full of lasts: last centers, last exams, last lunches, last concerts, last award ceremonies, last class party, last precious days with teachers who’ve poured out so much of themselves this year. I want to soak up every last, and in the midst, I find myself drowning as I try to keep up with it all. Was today a special dress up day? Where are those library books due today? Was I supposed to bring ice cream today? Thursday morning at 6am, other class moms and I were texting back and forth trying to keep it all straight. Another friend posted a funny photo on Facebook of end of school year lunches: a lunchbox with a potato, two carrots, dog biscuits and four packets of hot sauce. I know many of you are with me when I say that we are crawling toward the finish line this school year. (And praise the Lord: I only have to pack lunches for two more days!)

The cruel thing about May is that all this piles on the normal stuff. The other hard areas of life don’t take a break so you can savor and enjoy those lasts. The washing machines still break. The cars still don’t start. The doctor visits still happen. The hard days at work still drag you down. I don’t know what it is in your situation, but, sweet friend, I know it’s there. The heaviness, the pain, the fear, the unknown, the illness, the plans that went awry. It doesn’t stop for May.

As I pulled into school Thursday, my sweet little boy wouldn’t let me forget:

“Mommy!” he said more emphatically, “You forgot to pway!”

I barely got the word “Father” off my lips and the tears began to well up in my eyes.

“Father, you are a good, good Father. You’ve given me more than I deserve, and it’s enough.”

The tears threatened to spill over onto my cheeks. I knew what God wanted me to say, and I did not want to say it.

“If you never did another thing for me, what you’ve done would be enough.”

And then the words I feared most left my lips as the tears left my eyes:

“I will rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice.”

I was preaching to my heart in that moment, willing it to be thankful. And apparently I needed to hear the message again, because a few hours later, sitting in tiny chairs with other parents, we watched our little four and five-year olds teach us big truth in their sweet, little voices:

“The fruit of the Spirit shows Jesus in me through:

Love – I will put others first

Joy – I will be ok with what I have

Peace – I won’t be afraid because I trust in God

 

The fruit of the Spirit shows Jesus in me through:

Patience – I will wait without complaining

Kindness – I will be nice to everyone

Goodness – I will do what is right

 

The fruit of the Spirit shows Jesus in me through:

Faithfulness – I will not give up

Gentleness – I will care for others when they mess up

Self-Control – I will think before I act

 

The fruit of the Spirit!”

I think sometimes our adult minds need a good reminder of the simplicity of the Gospel. When we give our lives to Jesus and He in turn gives us the Holy Spirit, we get His fruit. What a beautiful explanation of what the Spirit of the Lord does to our hearts.

 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” – Galatians 5:22-26

When mayhem sets in and our worlds are spinning, we can press on and persevere because Faithfulness lives in us. When the answer to our deepest, heartfelt prayers is wait, we can do it without complaining because Patience lives in us. When we don’t get what we want, what we have can be enough because Joy lives in us. When we want to give in to fear, we can trust Him and not be afraid because Peace lives in us. It’s not easy. Notice what happens to our fleshly passions and desires in the verse above: they are crucified. That’s a painful process. But the beauty of what begins to unfold in us is worth it. Because then we can truly do what Paul encourages:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:4-7

 

Amen. Let it be.

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Straight Talk About Forgiveness

Not many people get excited when they think about forgiving others. I’d been told to forgive and forget but there is one small problem – I’ve also been told I have a steel trap mind. That can be great when it comes to learning something new but not so great when there are things I would much rather forget. The unfortunate thing is – unless you develop some sort of dementia, it is not truly possible to forget – even if you do forgive. Everything that has happened in my life has made you who I am – the good and the bad. But if I can’t forget – how does forgiving help? 

4 Ways Forgiveness Helps You

1. Forgiveness helps you live a happier life. “Happy are the merciful.” Matthew 5:6 (NIV) “Happy are the peacemakers.” Matthew 5:9 (NIV) Merriam-Webster defines happy as being characterized by a sense of well-being and contentment. Un-forgiveness leads to bitterness and bitterness leads to a host of health problems like ulcers, migraines and depression.

2. Forgiveness helps you live out the golden rule. “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31 (NIV) Hum…we are to have treat others with the same standard we want to have used with us – no double standards. Romans 12:17-18 “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (ESV)

3. Forgiveness reflects your obedience to God's commands. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV)

4. Forgiveness positively affects your relationship with God. “If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (ESV). Un-forgiveness puts a wedge in our relationship with others and thus with God.

Oh, and let me mention two important points about forgiveness:

  • Forgiving a person does not mean that you must have a relationship with them. There may be people you forgive but you cannot trust – trust is earned. Forgiving a person does not mean that you have to tell them personally that you forgive them. If the person is unsafe to be around or they are not alive any more, it can be between you and God.
  • You may need to forgive yourself or God for perceived injustices though He truly cannot sin. I believed because God did not stop some things that happened in my life, that He abandoned me but that was a lie. God was there and cried with me during my pain as He was with you during yours. Hebrews 13:5 assures us of this as God tell us: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (ESV)

To learn more about how to experience freedom through forgiveness, come to Celebrate Recovery Tuesday 6:30pm in Henry Chapel.

Author: Stephanie Rasbach | Celebrate Recovery Coordinator

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