Memorizing Romans 8 – Jan. 30 Update

This is a very interesting idea. I’m inspired to try memorizing a large passage

Have you ever tried to memorize a large portion of Scripture? How did it go? What did you find?

A DEVOTED LIFE

I have not done very well these last 20 days in my progress of memorizing all of Romans 8 ( “WILL YOU TRAIN WITH ME? – Dec. 29th” ) .  I have only added five more verses.  I got all out of whack with my memorizing times and sort of lost steam.  I have to admit that the reasoning behind making my public post is serving its purpose.  I was very tempted to bail on my goal this last week.  That is when I was reminded that the purpose of this exercise it to store up God’s word in my heart.  Hey, I got five more verses stored up.  I praise God for that.

Romans 8 vs 1-15 pg 2

 

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Sinking your boat is not catching fish!

Sunken Row Boat

I’m not a fisherman. But I don’t think that scuttling the boat you’re in counts as a legitimate fish-catching strategy.

Jesus calls his disciples “Fishers of Men.” One of the most important ideas in fishing is that of bringing the fish up out of their world and into one distinctly different. The last century has been defined by Christians sitting in their metaphorical boat pouring water into it, trying to “make it attractive” for all the “fish” they’re hoping to catch.

But here’s the thing: If you scuttle the boat, you didn’t catch the fish — they caught you!

CHANGING TIMES

The Church at large is facing challenges. These aren’t new challenges, they just look new. As we move forward, we must figure out how to be relational and relevant to the world around us, without sinking the boat. I think the key here is the difference between modifying practice and modifying theology.

To change the instrumentation we use in worship is to modify practice. Changing the look and feel of our worship service is changing practice. Changing the methods by which you communicate, or collect offering, or dress for church are all cultural. WHY? Because musical style, communication media and fashion norms are all culturally bound and change with culture.

To change what we believe the Bible to be (i.e. to renounce it as God’s word) is theological. To deny the deity of Christ and make him simply a great moral (read: only human) teacher is to change our theology. These types of changes give more “wiggle room” to those we hope to reach, but it ceases to pull anyone up out of their worldview and into new life. It fails to fish. Softening our theology to reach unbelievers is essentially scuttling our boat and calling the presence of more “fish” around us a successful fishing endeavor.

SHORT DOES NOT MEAN CONCISE

We live in a culture of soundbites. You have 140 Characters to get your point across. Therefore, we must be careful about the message we are sending out. Just because it is short doesn’t make it concise. Concise implies brevity with a successful communication of ideas.

Christian communicators in this century have to take more care to use Lexical Finesse. We must give thought to exactly what it is we mean to say, and then say it well.

The church is facing many, many challenges in its future; we must rise to the occasion to fish for men, rather than scuttling the ship and coming to rest where the fish already are.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the church?

Wounds from a friend can be trusted

Wounds from a friend can be trusted.
But an enemy multiplies kisses.
-Proverbs 27:6

So often we want to surround ourselves with “yes men.” We consider a friend someone who will support us, or be proud of us no matter what. Somehow “loving” one another has become synonymous with “eternally agreeing with (or at least not disagreeing with) one another.” We hear this type of thinking all the time, especially from more progressive folks in the church. “God is love. Why would I say something to someone that would offend them? That’s not very loving.” Or we’ll hear, “Judge not, lest you be judged.”

Jesus did come to preach God’s love. But he was plenty blunt about sin, too. He delivered “woes” to those who were religiously pious but spiritually dead. He talked about living for God. Jesus defined love in what he taught. And the picture that he painted was one where love is a verb, not a mushy-gushy feeling “inside our hearts” for one another.

His Church is here to spur one another to holiness as the primary vehicle to love. We are to be a community (not a collection of individuals) who grow more like Christ and help one another do the same. The most loving thing you can do for someone, sometimes, is to call them out on their junk.

WOUNDS FROM A FRIEND CAN BE TRUSTED

Sometimes, as a friend, you need to tell your friend when they are out of line. If you are working with a neighbor in math class classmate going astray, the loving thing is to look out for their best interest and correct them, not let them do it their way. Those assignments are going to be graded! The loving thing, when you see a friend in an unhealthy relationship is to share your concerns in love, because you don’t want them to be hurt. When a friend is texting and driving, the loving thing is to do or say what you can to remove them from harm’s way and get their eyes on the road.

The key is that these have to come from a friend. It has to be an “I’m concerned for you” conversation, not a “Be better, like me” conversation. I believe this is the key to Christian confrontation. Another thought: to judge a person’s behavior as sinful or not in line with the Bible is not the same as judging the eternal destination of their soul based on that behavior. As long as the prior is done with an acknowledgement that I also behave in all sorts of ways that are inconsistent with the Bible, we’re good. It’s when we say, “you need to fix the sin in your life,” and fail to acknowledge the sin in ours that we run into trouble.

The Bible is the most honest book ever written. It is going to present views that we find hard to swallow. “Love” is not being silent when we see someone straying into a harmful situation, but lovingly expressing concern for them. Being honest. It might hurt, but a wound from a friend can be trusted.

AN ENEMY MULTIPLIES KISSES

History would tell us that we when we surround ourselves with people that agree with us, we set ourselves up for failure. We need people to remind us when we are drifting into incorrect thinking and action. This goes for behavior but also things like worldview and theology. I could metaphorically adorn you with “kisses” and tell you that your ideas are all great, but a survey of most people’s High School careers would suggest that doesn’t lead anywhere good.

If all I hear from someone is positive, I don’t trust their opinion for fear they are just puffing me up.

If I get criticism when it’s deserved, it makes me think, makes me better, and builds trust with that person.

Don’t surround yourself with “yes men.”

Where do you find it tough to “speak the truth in love?”

Weekend Roundup

WeekendRoundup

I’ve been a little light on posts this week, as “ChurchPastor” responsibilities have trumped “ChurchlessPastor” writing. But here are a few things I have found of interest around the web that should make for interesting reading this weekend!

  • Interesting read on the Inauguration Bibles.
  • Great observations about the church “Back Door” from Thom Rainer.
  • Great resource for churches wanting better recording options outside the Auditorium. Technology is SWEET!
  • Tongue-in-cheek alert: Internet users ask for less interactivity on websites. Made me wonder, at least, if we (especially churches) are being intentional about what we include on our websites, or if we are just including things because everyone else is.
  • 3 Things I Wish I Knew Before Getting Married.
  • If you don’t know about Noisetrade, it’s awesome. Check it out. While you’re at it, check out Dustin Ruth, whose EP is amazing and available for FREE DOWNLOAD (don’t forget to tip)!
  • This strikes me as silly. This isn’t an article about Christians in politics, but can we (the Church) please keep the main thing the main thing? Pray for the President. Be involved in politics. But first and foremost be a light to those around you.
  • One of my favorite iPhone apps is making a splash. AND it’s only $0.99 for a “very limited time.
  • Stop pretending to Love Jesus
  • Can’t wait to try THIS.

What are your reactions to the links above?

Religion cloaks sin in pretext. Calls it Righteous.

“What worldly souls do crudely and openly, peolpe who want to live for God often do more subtly, with the help of some pretext, which, serving them as a screen, stops them from seeing the ugliness of their behavior.” -Francois de Salignac

It’s funny how far we think society has come. This quote was from the mid-19th Century France, and was translated to English later. I came across Christian Perfection in an old church library and, interestingly, it is still a great commentary on the state of the church and people of faith in 21st-Century America.

Do you agree or disagree? Where do you see this played out?

The Gospel Lived Out [Video]

As I write this, I am speechless. I have spent the last half hour crying my eyes out and this video was the last pebble holding up the dam. Check it out:

New Film Premiere – I Like Adoption. from ILikeGiving.com on Vimeo.

The video is from a new campaign called I Like Giving. The mission of the site is not to get more of your money, but to get more people thinking — and acting — generously.

This site is one of the purest and most beautiful applications of the gospel message I have seen in a long time.

So click here to learn more, or sign up to give the idea a 3-day trial run! As for me and my family, we are going to write our own “I Like _______.” story (watch the promo video or the “I like bike” video to learn where the name came from. I can’t wait to hear yours.

Do you already have an “I Like ________.” Story? Share it below!

Weekend Quick Hits

Here are some interesting reads for you to consider over the weekend!

See you on the other side of the weekend!

 

God’s Will For You Today!

“Be Joyful Always; Pray Continually; Give thanks in all circumstances. This is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.” -1 Thessalonians 5:17

I’ve been thinking a lot about God’s will lately. Everyone wants to know God’s will, and wants to wait for him to show it to them. There is a crucial lesson for Christians to learn. Jesus taught it, Paul reiterated it. I’ve condensed it here. It comes from Luke 19:11-26. It’s the Parable of the Ten Minas. Click the link and read the parable before you go on.

I’ve been thinking about how practical God is in the way that he guides us. The principle in this parable is that those who can be entrusted with a little will also be trusted with a lot. How sensible! This should ring true with any parent, project leader, administrator, business owner, or anyone else who is in a position of authority over others. When you have a task that needs to get done but the person to whom it is assigned falls through, you would never turn around and give them a BIGGER task! At the very least you would give them another task of similar size and start training them up in responsibility, follow through, diligence, etc. Someone that cannot fulfill the most menial task would be destined to fail if they were assigned something much bigger.

God works the same way. Sometimes it’s financially, as on the surface of this parable. As you are a faithful steward of your resources, you will find your money going farther and, in some cases, strange blessings will come your way because you are wise, disciplined and faithful. God says that if you are wise with a little, the same principles will lead you to wise choices when you have a lot. If you are foolish with a little, you would likely be foolish if you suddenly had plenty.

This parable goes deeper, though, and God treats our spirit the same way. We often want to know God’s specific plan, or his will in the particulars of life. We want to know what he has in store for us — where to go next, what to do next, etc. Maybe you are not in a time of spiritual plenty. Maybe you want more from God. You want him to reveal himself, or for a spiritual relationship with him to just “happen.” This parable teaches us that you have to be faithful with what you’ve got. Are you busy? You will always be. Make time for God now. Make him a priority now. Are you financially strapped? That will likely not change too much unless you start changing your money principles now. Do you not feel like God is close? Do things to close the gap and build that relationship now. Don’t wait for him to talk to you out of the clouds. Be a faithful steward of the position you are in today.

1 Thessalonians tells us, plain as day, “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will in Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). God may have remarkably specific plans for you, but his will for all of us is that we find contentment and trust in him. Be joyful. Pray continually. Be thankful for your present circumstance. When you prove that you can be trusted with a little, God will often begin to entrust much more to you.

What is it about this simple teaching that seems so difficult?

The truth always comes out.

Lance Armstrong finally comes clean about doping to Oprah after years of defending his innocence in the public eye

For seven years, Lance Armstrong was an American icon. A cancer survivor, seven (!) consecutive Tour de France titles, a foundation that became iconic and gave hope to cancer survivors all over. He was the embodiment of American resolve.

But then the accusations started. Slowly, at first, stories of Lance’s doping and using Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED’s) started emerging and then began to gain steam. Teammates, friends, trainers and the like started leaking that this man rose to the top by dishonest means.

Years of testimonies, years of interviews and headlines, years of denials have brought us to this point, where Armstrong finally admitted to his doping to Oprah on Monday (according to the Associated Press). Finally, the drama, the suspicion and speculation have come to an end. We will see Thursday night the extent to which Armstrong comes clean, but one lesson is sitting in the rubble of all of this, begging to be learned by people everywhere:

Cover-ups always hurt worse than confession.

The first accusations of doping came toward the end of Armstrong’s 7-year run atop the Tour de France. Imagine the change in headlines if that happened. He would have been ousted from his titles, but the media firestorm that has persisted the last 7-8 years would have been avoided, the court trials, the lawsuits, the denials. To say, “this sport is running rampant with PED’s and I am sorry to say I fell to that very prevalent temptation.” Would have certainly been big news, but it would have ended there. Perhaps Armstrong could have become the poster boy for cleaning up cycling and helping the USADA perfect their testing methods (the same ones which Armstrong duped over 600 times). The situation would have been painful, but certainly much more easily redeemable than it ended up being.

Now Armstong has had a hard fall from grace, being stripped of his seven titles by the USADA, losing almost all of his sponsors, being ousted from his own LIVESTRONG foundation. Most importantly, dozens and dozens of relationships have been broken. This is the reality of dishonesty.

That very first denial starts an avalanche. It starts us down a path of self-preservation at all costs. With each cascading lie, what could have been a simple lapse of judgment became a growing act of deceit for the sake of reputation. The denials had to get louder and stronger. People were taken to court, threatened and cast aside if they even suggested that Lance had ever seen doping in cycling. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports chronicles just a few of the more deplorable intimidation tactics Armstrong and his team used to keep the truth from emerging.

This is a truth that we all tell our kids and those young people over whom we have influence, but to have this boldness in our own lives — to face consequences because it is the right thing — is much harder than it sounds. We all want to point at Armstrong and say, “I would have done the right thing. I would have told the truth.” But the fact of the matter is, most of us are under much less pressure than Armstrong was, and even still honesty is hard to maintain. 

Every day, there are folks that want to live a moral life but have fallen to temptation, only to deny allegations and make things appear on the surface as if everything is OK. People steal money from their jobs, are unfaithful in marriages, cheat on tests, falsify tax information, or just lie to a friend about why they don’t want to hang out. We are all dishonest in some regard, and lies almost always start with a “the truth would hurt too much mentality.” But by dragging out our cover-up schemes, we end up hurting people more than we would have originally.

The truth might have hurt. But now there’s the truth and the reality of all the broken relationships and broken trust. Notice the truth still came out.

Solomon said it this way, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” (Proverbs 11:3) It is so much easier to live a life guided by integrity than under the oppression of duplicity. My hope and prayer is that we would learn from this and boldly live in repentance and confession with one another, that we would humble ourselves and live by integrity.

What do you think about Lance Armstrong and his Confession?