Sunday, April 23, 2017

VIDEO: Growing in your Walk with God

One of the most important indicators of spiritual growth is a person's personal engagement with the Bible, and a personal devotion time.  Personally reading the Bible and spending time with God will IGNITE your walk with Him like never before!

Last December, our Chatsworth Campus Pastor did a breakout session on personal devotions.  He has condensed it into a video that is worth your time.  If you desire to grow in your own personal time with God, you should watch this, and forward or share with anyone you feel needs it as well!

Growing in your Walk with God from Alfred Turley on Vimeo.

If you are interested in the original handout that went with this, you can download that here!

Praying for us all to grow closer to Him!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Learning to "Remain In Him" - Awareness Part 2

By Alfred Turley

In the previous post on this subject, I talked about cultivating awareness of God in our lives, and specifically the importance of a daily devotional time with God.

In addition to that foundational time with God, there are other intentional habits and practices that have been helpful to many in cultivating awareness of Christ.  Let's talk about some of them:

Awareness Reminders:  I learned a long time ago that if something doesn't remind me, I could go all day without reconnecting well to God.  But I found if I could do a few things that would help this process that have made a big difference for me:

  • Sticky Notes on mirrors with scripture reminders of key verses.  Putting these on the dashboard of my car has helped many times, or on my computer so when I get to work I am reminded of Him!  Time in the car can be a great time with God if we work to make it that!
  • Quick prayer/awareness times - Setting my phone timer to go off every hour or so, just to prompt me to stop what I am doing and thank God and think of Him and maybe even pray about something that's going on that I really need Him to move in!  I've even set calendar reminders in gmail to remind me to stop a spend a minute with God.
  • Break times at work - Most everyone who has a job gets some sort of break (I hope so) and sometimes taking a bible into the break room can be a major time of 
  • Special prayer locations - I found an isolated stairwell in one place where I worked where I could quickly jump into for a short prayer time with God.  I was in a particularly stressful season, and that place became a true place of refuge for me as I would go there and meet with God and find peace in the storm!

Fasting:  Fasting can seem incredibly intimidating and hard.  And sometimes it is.  But one thing I know, when I choose to sacrifice something I normally do (like eating food!) it sets the day up as one that will regularly remind me of God.

  • Food Fast - Obviously this is the one most talked about in the Bible.  Sometimes just skipping breakfast and/or lunch can make the day much more about God and filled with Him.  The hunger pangs are great natural reminders that I am seeking Jesus and more of Him, and the Holy Spirit always meets me in these times with greater awareness and a sense of His love!  Longer term fasts are very doable and should not be something we are afraid of.  And we will experience a richness with God that is priceless!
  • Internet/Media Fast - I have found fasting social media, internet, and even television, etc. (all but email) can REALLY make me aware of God.  We are so saturated now with media that this simple type of fast can be very powerful and is a lot less intimidating than a food fast.  It drastically makes us aware of how much time we really DO have that we could be putting to a little better use.
  • Other Fast -  There are lots of other types of fasts, but the point is to do something that forces our awareness to move back to Jesus, and to show Him we are serious about seeking Him.  What could you give up for a period that would really get your attention and focus you on God?

Relationships/Fellowship:  As simple as this is, being around people who will push us toward God is one of the best things we can do, and the reason the writer of Hebrews said:
"And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near." (Heb. 10:24-25)

We need one another, and we need God-centered community.  Having people around me remind me of God and His promises and His sufficiency is one of the best Awareness builders we can have in our lives!

Well I guess I could go on and on about all this!  But again, when it comes to "remaining in Christ" so much of it comes from cultivating Awareness.

Praying that each of us today intentionally moves toward spending more time being AWARE of the incredible gift we have of Jesus and His presence in our lives!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

How can I respond to Easter?

By Alfred Turley

Several years ago I started a personal tradition during Easter week of watching the movie, The Passion of the Christ.  I’ve never been the same since it came out, and I consider watching it a painful and powerful reminder of what my sin cost Him. 

But I particularly remember the first year of this tradition, when I was watching in my own living room, alone.  I remember the flogging scene which is particularly brutal and painful.  And I was moved to tears… lots of them.

I remember just feeling so bad at what I put Him through.  The older I get the more I realize how far from His standard I live each and every day.  I fail to love, fail to obey, fail to forgive, fail to believe, fail to trust.  I just FAIL.  And trust me, I’m not beating myself up.  It’s the truth.  In all of us.  When we compare ourselves to Jesus, and the standard He set which was what God had hoped for all of us, we see we are so far from that expectation.

And yet He loves us, and in the cross and resurrection He saves us.  In spite of ourselves.  How can this be????

I remember in that moment of dramatic tears and weeping, seeing and knowing my own failure, I cried out, “What can I do in response to this love, Lord?  How can I respond to what you did for me?”

And I heard it.  Deep inside me, the voice of the Holy Spirit welled up and rang throughout my soul…

“Be free.”

Indeed, “It was for freedom that Christ came to set us free” – Gal. 5:1 

Free from the slavery of sin and self-centeredness!  Free from the loneliness of a life separated from our Father’s love!  Free from self-doubt and fear that says, “I wonder if I really matter to Him?” I do matter!  We do matter!  We are His treasure, the great inheritance of God!  Deuteronomy 32:9 indicates as such: “But the LORD's portion is His people

Today, how can we respond to Easter?  Simple… Free yourself from whatever holds you back from God.  Accept the gift of the cross and resurrection of Jesus.  Free yourself to know that you are loved and the very treasure God came to save in human form.  Love Him back, by enjoying and living the abundant life and freedom He died to give you! 

Be free!  Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

VIDEO: Personal Disciple Making, Part 2

Here is part 2 of personal disciple making, looking at the question, "What do I do in making disciples?" This is built off the definition from part 1;

Disciple making is teaching people to grow as a follower of Jesus through and intentional, loving relationship, so that they can go and do the same.
  personal disciple making part 2 from Alfred Turley on Vimeo.


            All along the discipling journey are key moments where those you are discipling will have an opportunity to encounter God in unique and potentially life changing ways. These are great moments to be INTENTIOANAL in their life. Our responsibility is to help discern when these moments are happening and then walking through them with those we disciple. It is important to remember that what makes these moments powerful is that they happen in the context of your relationship of love with those you are discipling and that they all point them to glorifying God.

            They don’t have to happen in any one order nor are they just one-time events.  You will also walk through all of these many times. Below each ‘moment” is a list of questions or statements to help you discern what God may be doing.

1.VISION – Matt. 5:13-16 - As you begin to invest in someone you must help people see their true identity and potential in the Kingdom.

·      “Here is what I see in you.” (affirmation of how God has made them).
·      What do you think are your greatest strengths/weaknesses?
·      How would you define having a successful life?
·      Who do you really look up to and why? Who have been the biggest influencers in your life?
·      What do you really care about in the world?  What could you give your life for?

2. CHALLENGE – Matt. 14:22 - Helping them see places for growth of faith and overcome their fears.

·      “I could see God doing  _______ through you.  What do you think?”
·      Is there something God keeps bringing up in His Word for you to do that you have not done?
·      What have you done with what God has told you lately?
·      What keeps you from taking steps of faith or overcoming fears? 
·      How would feel if you did not take this step of faith?
·      What do those around you say about the possibility of taking this step?

3. PRIVILEGE – Matt. 17:1-8 - Inviting them in to participate in your own encounters with God. This is easy to overlook but can have a great deal of power in the life of the person you are discipling.

These questions are for you to ask yourself as the discipler.

·      Is there something God is teaching me that I could share with the people I am discipling.
·      Is there anything special happening in my life that I can invite those I am discipling be a part of?
·      How can I allow those I am discipling see deeper into my own walk with God?

4. CORRECTION – Matt. 18:1-4, Luke 9:46-48, Mark, 9:33-37, Luke 22:24-30
One of the key responsibilities in disciple making is helping people, through loving correction, align their lives with right Kingdom living.

Questions to help you lovingly correct the one you are discipling.
·      How does what you are doing fit in with what you understand it means to follow Jesus?
·      Do you see the error in your thinking/acting?
·      Are you feeling any conviction or have you become comfortable with your sin?
·      How could your thinking and acting have any negative impact on people around you?
·      What are you willing to do to have a real change in your heart?
·      Have you asked God for forgiveness? Have you asked people for forgiveness?

5. VULNERABILITY – Matt. 26:37-38, John 12:20-28 - It is allowing those you are investing in to share in the hard moments of your life so they can see how you relate to God in those times.

These questions are for you to ask yourself as the discipler.

·      Is there a sin struggle in my life that I need to confess to those I am discipling?
·      Is there anything challenging I am walking through that those I'm discipling can support me in?
·      Do those I am discipling really know the struggles of my heart?

6. EMPOWERMENT – Matt. 28:16-20 (Matt. 10) - Helping them go out and impact the world.

·      “I am proud of you and believe in you.”
·      “What can I (we) do to help you fulfill God’s call?”
·      “I will walk with you in this as far as you need me.”
·      “Do you have all the information you need in order to go?”