Who’s More Important: Jesus or Me?

The One Who Really Matters

We’re living in a world that demands our every moment of every day. Whether its politics, our jobs, family, friends, local church or community, we find ways to keep busy. The question is – who is at the center of all those activities? Is Jesus the one who really matters in our lives, or do we put ourselves in the center?

Who's More Important - Jesus or Me

The more we put ourselves in the center of our lives, the more we move away from Jesus. The more we move away from Jesus, the more stressed we become about the things we can’t change and the less likely we are to take the healthy risks that are required to follow Jesus’ agenda.

Jesus desires for us to selflessly use our resources so to benefit the Kingdom, not us. Click To TweetTo put this another way – are we being selfless or selfish?  If Jesus is at the center of our lives, then we use our money, time and energy for the benefit of Jesus.  If we are at the center of our lives, then we use those resources for our benefit.  Jesus desires for us to selflessly use our resources so to benefit the Kingdom, not us.

As I reflected on this personally, I thought about the two potential options this way:Discipleship Journey: Selfless vs Selfish

I know I need to make sure I’m moving towards the selfless side, but my humanity clearly wants to pursue the selfish side.

So how do I make sure I’m becoming a selfless disciple of Jesus?

The answer: start putting Jesus in the center.

That might be easier said than done.  I get that.  But let’s start with a simple narrative from Luke’s gospel.

Mary and Martha…

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42, ESV)

Luke is trying to teach us about holy hospitality – how we welcome and allow Jesus to be the center of everything we do.  So much so, that we almost allow Jesus to be our host and we follow His lead.1

Mary focused her attention on Jesus.  She humbly took full advantage of the opportunity with Jesus. An opportunity that, in their culture, wouldn’t normally be an option.

Martha, on the other hand, was distracted by being “anxious and troubled about many things.” She was doing well and serving her guests, but was selfishly overwhelmed.  So much so, that when she spoke to Jesus she referred to herself three times (10:40).

Are we disciples (selfless) or are we distracted (selfish)?

I think we get distracted in our world of busyness and perfectionism quite often.  We get caught up doing things according to our agenda and forget to balance our lives according to Jesus’ agenda. Jesus is waiting for us to eagerly become selfless disciples, and not be distracted by selfish performance.2

What would our agenda look like if Jesus was at the center?  On the other hand, what would our agenda look like if we put ourselves at the center?  Would our priorities be different in each case? All too often, we sacrifice what really matters to pursue things that aren’t as important.

For example, when we become busy the first thing we often cut is our personal time with God.  Think about that – we cut the most important thing first.  From my experience, when we cut our personal devotions, we tend to default to selfishness.  From there, our priorities start to shift.

We shift from pursing God’s agenda to our own agenda.

We shift from growing the Kingdom to spending our money elsewhere.

We shift from committing our families to the local church to protecting family time at all costs.

Don’t get me wrong, family is very important!  But when Jesus is at the center of our lives, His call to put Him before our family begins to make more sense:

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)

Of course, “hate” is not referring to “dislike” rather the extreme difference between a selfless disciple and a selfish unbeliever.  We need to stop thinking like unbelievers and start challenging ourselves to become disciples.We need to stop thinking like unbelievers and start challenging ourselves to become disciples. Click To Tweet

I’ll let Paul’s words conclude:

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. (Romans 8:5)

Your turn…

Is Jesus at the center of your life?  Do your daily activities prove it?

I gave our congregation the opportunity to challenge themselves with a little exercise.  I gave them a sheet to list all their activities and to indicate which activities were most important if: 1) Jesus was at the center of their lives; and, 2) if we were at the center. It’s a humbling exercise if done honestly.

You can download the template here: Who’s More Important Worksheet. Maybe it’s a great way for you to take a spiritual inventory of what we spend our money, time and energy doing. I’ve also included a blank version of the above graphic.


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I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (andrewholm@gmail.com).  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

References   [ + ]

Why Drinking Coffee Doesn’t Save People and Why Serving Coffee Does

5 Reasons Why We Serve Coffee at Our Church

We’ve allowed people to drink coffee during our worship services for quite some time now. Yes, it creates a relaxed atmosphere, but I’ve questioned its long-term effectiveness.  The more I think about it, the more I realize that coffee itself isn’t special.  It’s what happens in the process of serving and drinking that has the potential of changing lives.

Why Serving Coffee Matters

Changing lives, you say? Yes. In a world of selfishness, people are longing to authentically connect. And connecting as a community is a biblical concept.  In writing to the Churches in Galicia and Ephesus, Paul wrote:

“…do not use your [new] freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” (Galatians 5:13, NIV)

How do you serve and love one another?

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32, NIV)

All too often we let these texts speak to us in a reactive way.  When something negative happens, we put on our loving and serving hats and try to make the situation positive.

But… what if we wanted to create a positive culture to begin with?  What if loving and serving actually described our Church community?  What if Christians engaged in authentic love and concern with fellow Christians?

I believe one of the ways we can proactively create a positive atmosphere, is by helping people connect with each other.One of the ways we can proactively create a positive atmosphere, is by helping people connect. Click To Tweet

Want people to talk? Give them a coffee or a tea and a place to connect.

Here are 5 reasons why we serve coffee at Bethel:

1. Serving coffee provides social connection.

Our culture demands food when we connect together.  If you want to have an effective social event, there better be lots of food and coffee.  Likewise, if you show up to an event and refreshments are served, your social cues encourage people to connect.

2. Serving coffee inspires relationship.

A conversation, with a tea or coffee in hand, usually leads further than a conversation without.  You may think that’s an overstatement, and it probably is for those who like to talk.  For those who are a little socially awkward, however, having something to drink can break the ice and fill-in empty space.

3. Serving coffee invites participation.

Our coffee cart is a “self-serve” one.  One of our goals is for people to engage others in service.   Everyone has the ability to make a donation for their coffee, perhaps donate for someone else’s coffee, or simply offer to make a coffee for a newcomer.  Participation is an active ingredient in servant-hood.

4. Serving coffee allows for common ground.

It doesn’t matter what store-bought coffee you buy or drink, or even if you don’t buy coffee at a café at all, everyone is on common ground when we serve coffee.  Everyone is drinking from the same generic cup.   With that said, technology (ie. Keurig) allows us to offer a little bit of everything to help satisfy the cravings.

5. Serving coffee demands a seating area.

You can drink coffee just about anywhere, but as soon as you serve coffee to someone, people need a place to sit down.  If people sit down, they start talking, connecting and listening and the Church becomes that much closer to an authentic community.

To help facilitate, we allow people give a donation. There’s no pressure to drop some money in the jar, but we encourage those who can buy their coffee, to buy into this ministry of community.

Your turn…

Serving coffee certainly isn’t the only way to connect…

How have you helped people connect? Has coffee worked for you? Does something else work in your context? What would you like your local church to do to encourage people to connect?

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (andrewholm@gmail.com).  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

Facing Melanoma with Faith [Guest Post]

Darren Murray’s Story

I knew. I just knew, when I received the call from my dermatologist office just a few short days after having a biopsy done on a spot on my back, I knew that is was cancer.  I wasn’t supposed to hear back for a few weeks, but they called to have me come in to see the dermatologist right away.

Facing Melanoma with Faith - Darren Murray’s Story

I knew exactly what he was going to say.  Sure enough, he explained that I had a sizeable melanoma and that surgery would be required to remove it.  He would refer me right away to a plastic surgeon and they would do everything they could as fast as possible. I thanked him and went on my merry way; not really getting a sense of the seriousness of my situation.

I told my wife when I picked her up from work that it was cancer and that a plastic surgeon was going to just cut it off.  To give you some perspective, I am very naïve when it comes to health matters.  I told her that it wasn’t a big deal and I wanted to stay positive.

I told very few people, but those I did tell greeted me with the same reaction – “I am so sorry to hear that.”  I would respond with a smile and say, “It was no big deal – just slice it off and put a Band-Aid on it! I will be fine.”

Within a month, I met with the plastic surgeon and the date had been set to have my surgery.  He explained that he would remove the melanoma along with taking my lymph nodes in two different areas.  They would test the lymph nodes to determine if the cancer had spread to those areas.  I remember asking him, “How serious is this anyway?” He looked at me and said, “This is as serious as it gets for me.” He said that I was his top priority and the surgery would be done in 3 or 4 weeks.

The surgery came and went and I was now the new owner of 3 scars.  I still, at this point, had no real concept of how serious this was.  I then met with the surgeon and he gave me the great news that the lymph nodes came back negative.  He said that I was very lucky as the melanoma I had was very deep but they were successful in removing it.  “Thank you God,” I reacted!

A few weeks later, I ran into my family doctor at the grocery store.  She immediately gave me a hug and told me how sorry she was.  She is not the touchy/feely type and this reaction from her surprised me.  Wow, this must have been more serious than I thought.  I went right home and researched the cancer.org website.   I was not prepared for what I read:

Really…I have only about a 40% chance of living past 10 years?!1

The next few months we very difficult for me.  Physically, I was spared from any pain as a result of my cancer.  Mentally, however, it was a painful process. What do I do with my life?  Do I continue to save for retirement?  Will I see my children graduate?  I had many questions!

As I gave God more of me, His plan for my life began to reveal itself. #faith #Melanoma Click To TweetAs I went through this journey I gained perspective and I began to let God into more of my life.  As I gave God more of me, His plan for my life began to reveal itself and I began to listen instead of trying to figure things out on my own.  I had been running from God’s plan for many years but even though I was running away, He was still preparing me for His plan.

You see, having cancer gave me the opportunity to get closer to God.  He had to do something dramatic so that I would fall to my knees and surrender to Him.  God called me to full-time ministry with Operation Christmas Child.  I am thankful for His grace, patience and His hand of protection over me.  I am now closer to Him than I have ever been in my life and I have a strong desire to know Him better every day.

I now have the privilege to lead an amazing group of Christians spreading the Gospel to millions of children through the simple act of packing a shoebox.  I can think of no greater joy than this! I can honestly say that I am grateful to God for the cancer scare.

I do not know what the future holds, but my trust in Him grows stronger every day and my resolve to serve Him until my last breath could not be any stronger.  I pray each day that He will use me as He desires.  “Here I am, send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)

Your turn…

If you’ve been inspired by Darren’s story, please share this post so others can be inspired today!

If you, or someone you know, has an encouraging story or testimony of how God has helped you in your journey, I’d love to help you share it!  Please send your story to andrewholm@gmail.com, and we’ll post them throughout the year!  Blessings!

References   [ + ]

How to Set Godly Goals for 2017

Don’t let 2017 be a repeat of 2016

It’s that time of year again!  Everyone is trying to set new resolutions and goals for the coming year.  I stopped making New Year’s resolutions a while ago because I never keep them.  Why start something I going to abandon in a week, right?

How to Set Godly Goals for 2017

Instead of making a resolution, I started thinking about where God is calling me to go and who God is calling me to become.  When you start asking that question, the answers are humbling and challenging.

With a birthday in late December, every year starts with a new age for me.  This year, it was the big 30.  When I started to reflect on God’s direction in my life, I came up with 30 important goals that I want to see happen in the next ten years (30 Goals for my 30s).

Last week at Bethel, we looked at Proverbs 16:1-9.  Solomon shared some wisdom: if we strive after the plans of God, God will establish our steps.  We still have to decide what we’re going to strive for and how we’re going to plan to get there.  But if we humble ourselves before God, and commit that work to Him, God will arrange our plans accordingly.  You can view that sermon here and below.

I’m a planner.  I like to know how and when things will line up so our goals are achieved.  Its basic math: a + b = c.  And good news to me, verse three reads, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Sounds simple.

But when I continue in Proverbs and read, “Many are the plans in mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” (19:21), I know that I must ask myself, “Do my plans line up with God’s plans?”

I plan and God produces, as long as I’m willing to give up my plan for His plan. #settinggodlygoals Click To TweetSo as I wrote my goals for the next decade, I put the two ideas together, and thought: I plan, God produces, as long as I’m willing to give up my plan for His plan. That can be a challenging thought.

So, as we journey together in 2017, how do we set godly goals?  Let me offer you seven ways to set healthy goals and ensure you don’t let 2016 repeat itself:

1)     Stay in line with SCRIPTURE

It might sound simple, but don’t let yourself set goals that bring you away from God’s Word.  Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean that it’s a healthy goal for you.  In the same way, a healthy goal may not be popular, but a biblical goal will always make you stronger.

2)     ASK GOD for Direction

No, God is not going to give you a list.  But he does expect you to pray about what inspires you.  Reflect on the past year and dream about the future.  It will amaze you how God’s Spirit will help direct you.  I’ll give you a hint: if a goal challenges you’re status quo and makes you a little uncomfortable, pay attention. God is probably trying to help you grow.

3)     Ensure ACCOUNTABILTY.

I make sure to prayerfully ask God’s Spirit to keep me accountable.  I wish that’s all I would have to do, but that’s not always the case.  There’s a reason why The Church is made up of a group of people – ask someone to hold you accountable.  Their physical nudge will help the Spirit’s nudge stand out.

4)     Include ALL ASPECTS of life.

Too often we focus on one part of our lives (ie. Weight loss or spiritual discipline).  The truth is, all areas of our lives impact each other.  Our spiritual, family, social, physical and work lives all work together to keep us healthy.  Make sure to think about balance when setting goals.1

5)     Be REALSITIC.

Remember you’re on a journey.  There’s no need to set 10 goals and try to achieve them overnight.  You would be better to focus on two or three at a time and accomplish them, rather than set a large number and lose focus.2

6)     SPECIFIC, MESASUREABLE, ATTAINABLE, RELEVANT, and TIMLEY (“SMART” Goals).3

Anything worth completing, is worth writing down in detail.  Specify the goal to accomplish, make sure there is some way to attain and measure success, and give yourself a timeline.  Many of my goals listed in 30 goals for my 30s are vague.  In order for me to succeed, I will need to turn a statement like “Make exercise and physical activity a priority,” to “Walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes, three times a week.”

7)     CELEBRATE the win; learn from the FAILURE.

We tend to spend so much time on exaggerating failure that we often forget to celebrate a success.  I think of someone like King David.  He celebrated with dancing and song when they recovered the Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 6); but humbly faced his failure with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11-12).

Your turn…

Get out your notebook or smart phone and start brainstorming things that you are inspired to accomplish this year.  Let’s ask ourselves:

Are we pursuing God’s purposes for our lives?  Are we ready to give up our plan for His?  Do we trust God’s faithfulness?

Further reading…

Michael Hyatt – “The Beginner’s Guide to Goal Setting

Dr. Edwin Locke & Dr. Gary Latham – “Locke’s Goal Setting Theory

Shana Schutte – “Setting Goals to Fulfill Your God-Given Purpose

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (andrewholm@gmail.com).  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

References   [ + ]

Top 10 Posts Of 2016


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Thank you for making 2016 the best year yet at The Journey Holm.  Together, the blog exceeded all goals and received 12,000+ page views by 8,000+ visitors across 70+ countries!  Thank you for sharing, liking and commenting throughout the year! I can’t wait to see what 2017 will bring!

top-ten-2016

As a review, here are ten of some of the best viewed posts of 2016:

 

#10 – Trump or Clinton?

#9 – The Elbow of Trudeau

#8 – Don’t Worry, Christian’s Don’t Worry

#7 – We Don’t Have To Go To “Church”

#6 – Should Christians Play Pokemon Go

#5 – A Letter to My Congregation: Continue To Pray

#4 – Should Christians Participate in Halloween?

#3 – Betty’s Story: A True Journey of Faith

#2 – Give Us A Strategy: A Letter to the Premier

#1 – 3 Reasons Why I Don’t Drink Alcohol

Other well-viewed posts: