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Spiritual Growth Archives - mjreed.com

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January 9, 2017

Twenty-One Days of Fasting

I love that we have a chance to renew ourselves each new year. Like many others, we are in the middle of twenty-one days of fasting and prayer. During this time everyone is encouraged to eliminate things that keep us from focusing on Christ. I've already built the habit of fasting from food and praying into my weekly routine, so…
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Time Travel
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April 13, 2016

Is Time Travel Possible?

I know I'm not alone in my fascination with time travel. I'm a sucker for most any movie that works it into the plot. I like to imagine what it would be like to go back in time, and there are a couple things I'd love to alter if given the chance. Namely, when I stuck a potato popper on my face in sixth grade and sported a perfectly circular hickey for the next week and that time I told a pastor over the phone that I no longer believed in God because I was convinced it was my friend from college pranking me with a "job offer". The bad news is that it's impossible to physically travel through time. Even…
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March 25, 2016

The Presence of God

Today we remember the sacrifice of Christ. As I consider Good Friday, I'm struck by what Jesus endured on the cross. The agony of the cross wasn't limited to pain and death. Nor is it solely about him carrying the weight of our sin. It was also the end game of that sacrifice — becoming sin and the separation from God's presence. It was the…
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#Film#Influence
November 16, 2015

Reflections

It's funny how often you see something once your attention is turned to it. Most frequently for me it happens with the time - 12:34pm. I don't know if there's some special significance to that time, but I see it over and over again. I'm guessing at some point in the future I will discover it's Matthew McConaughey trying to…
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October 29, 2015

Defining Ministry

A big takeaway from the SALT conference was the affirmation of creative ministry as actual ministry. I've been a staff pastor in two churches, but in addition to that, I've also held roles that are primarily administrative and creative. Over the years I've been surprised at the number of people who try to diminish the value of those non-traditional ministerial roles. Most…
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October 28, 2015

Confidence and Confirmation

For years I've said, "Trust God with what you know and He will take care of the unknown." I've always believed that if you take action on the things you know you're supposed to do, then your obedience aligns your direction no matter how unknown the future may appear to be. Proverbs tells us, "Trust in the Lord with all your…
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October 1, 2015

Raw Prayer

Last month our boys had some tummy trouble and had the runs for close to two weeks. When I found out a friend of mine was facing the same issue since returning from Africa, I told Elliot one afternoon that my friend had the same problem. Later that night before bed Elliot told me, "I told God" that he, Quinn, and…
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#Life
July 1, 2015

Don’t forget where you came from

The other day we went "monkey climbing" in our front yard. We have a decent sized tree that has just the right thickness of branches and enough spacing to get 15-20 feet up in a hurry. For our little guys it's the perfect starter. Elliot was pretty eager to get some elevation and was probably ten feet up with a…
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June 20, 2015

Daniel Talked to God

We pray with the boys every night, and a few times over the years we've read "Daniel talks to God" from the Bible for toddlers. It's funny how even the simplest stories in the Bible can have such profound implications for us today. Back in the day I remember hearing in church about how the world was getting worse. There was always…
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June 16, 2015

Universal Sin

In writing to the Romans, Paul uses the first three chapters to establish a case for universal sin. The essence of it is captured in Romans 3:23, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Paul presents a number of sinful scenarios in the first chapter. Some are commonly used in Christian circles as the basis…
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June 13, 2015

Make a Difference

One of the most commonly overused phrases is "make a difference in the world." It's a moving statement with broad implications, but it offers little direction. If you're looking for a place to start, engage in some introspection. A little may go a long way. To make a difference in the world you have to make differences in your life. How…
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June 10, 2015

Not Ashamed

Today's Bible reading from 29plans came from Romans 1. Paul is writing while in Corinth roughly the same year he is later imprisoned in Caesarea and 2-3 years before he is placed under house arrest in Rome. Despite the threats and violence he has faced up to this point, he still writes that he is eager to preach the gospel in Rome. The…
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June 8, 2015

Forgiveness and The Sixth Sense

Do you remember The Sixth Sense? It was when M. Night Shyamalan made good movies back in 1999. *Spolier Alert* (Are these necessary 16 years later?) Do you remember your reaction when Bruce Willis realizes he's dead?  My mind immediately tried to recall every previous scene of the entire movie viewing it now through the lens of this new-found knowledge. It changed…
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June 7, 2015

Leadership Defined

Have you noticed how everyone is a leader now? In many businesses and churches there is an emphasis on turning employees or members into leaders.  Then when everyone has become a leader, we create leaders of leaders.  It's a model that has served many well, but can be limited in scope... especially from a biblical perspective. One of my favorite…
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June 3, 2015

Goodbye to Good

A few years back, Jill and I watched the Space Shuttle lift off with Elliot.  That launch of Atlantis marked the end of the Shuttle fleet as it retired into spaceflight history.  It's strange to think that as Elliot grows up, the Shuttle will be one of those relics we tell him about from the good old days... joining rotary phones,…
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June 2, 2015

Bend, but don’t break

When I think of integrity, I picture the hull of a ship being put together. The builders apply a significant amount of force so the pieces bend, but don't break. There's no room for error, because the hull must withstand the enormous amount of pressure from the surrounding water to keep the ship afloat. It also has to bear the weight of everything it's…
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May 31, 2015

Conjecture, Twitter, & Biblical Illiteracy

Let me start by saying I've bombed my fair share of sermons over the years. There have been those moments where words have come of out my mouth while preaching that left my leadership team asking for further interpretation. There are also times when I've hit it out of the park completely in tune with what needed to be shared. People have thanked me years later for biblical truths I've preached that impacted them. They've also reminded me of funny illustrations that are unfortunately more memorable than the sermon lesson that accompanied them. Preachers are not perfect and mistakes will be made. However, it's imperative that our twenty-first century gospel is in tune with the heart of the first century gospel because we are…
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May 26, 2015

Give what you’re in need of

I was working on editing a youth sermon series on giving for the fall. Each week talks about a different way to give by focusing on things like time, talents, and finances. In writing one of the titles I was reminded of the story of the widow who gave two small coins in the offering. Jesus commented on how she…
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May 24, 2015

Judgement, Potential and Listening to Sermons

I recently got my hands on a sermon intended for teens that included a portion of text from a book (which I'll leave unnamed) with an illustration about an accountant who gets to heaven and stands before God. God calls for "Robert the Missionary," but the man doesn't step forward. After God calls again for "Robert the Missionary," the accountant…
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May 21, 2015

Being Burnt out on Burnout

(Repost from 2011) When I was in high school, my dad overheard me telling someone that I got "yelled at".  He later corrected me, because, as he pointed out, he didn't actually raise his voice at me.  I explained to my dad, a school teacher, that being "yelled at" only meant I got in trouble.  The phrase had transitioned from…
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May 20, 2015

The Context of Love

The other day my Bible reading came from the 13th and 14th chapters of 1st Corinthians. The former is known as the love chapter. Usually it's used as a basis of love in marriage. That of course is a great application, but it's not actually the intention of Paul. Paul is writing to a dysfunctional church that had a hard time agreeing on…
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May 17, 2015

Our Sins and the Minnesota Twins

I love the Minnesota Twins.  I know sometimes my Tigers hat throws people off, but that's more about home representation than being a fan. I come from a sports-watching family (see "Sports Moments" post from '08), but with my busy schedule the last couple years, I've limited the number of teams I completely follow (every game, stats, etc.) to just a…
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March 18, 2015

Identity, Job & a House Built on Sand

I had a thought today that gave me a little insight into the book of Job. That book of the Bible has always been a bit of a mystery to me simply because I haven't had much of a connection to Job. I haven't lost nearly as much as him and I don't feel like God has had many conversations…
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November 3, 2014

On the Shoulders of Giants

Legend has it that in the 12th century Bernard of Chartres first used the metaphor of dwarves standing on the shoulders of giants. The phrase described how we can see more than our predecessors, "not because we have keener vision or greater height, but because we are lifted up and borne aloft on their gigantic stature." (John of Salsbury in Metalogicon).…
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