Thursday, May 23, 2013
Have you ever played the game?
I would bet that many parents have made up a game similar to this. When traveling in a vehicle and arguing continues, or complaining erupts, or the eternal question, "How much further?” is asked for the 100th time, parents want silence. So they play the silence game.
Sometimes, silence is golden.
Sometimes, though, silence is not golden.
If you have ever felt the awkward pause in a conversation, or if you have ever had an angry spouse or parent give you the "silent treatment," then you know what I’m talking about.
Sometimes silence can be deafening ... especially when we're silent with God.
"But God already knows what I need!" some argue, "So why do I have to waste His time, and mine, telling Him what He already knows?"
It is true that God does know exactly what you need.
"Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!" Matthew 6:8.
But ask Him anyway!
"If God knows what I need, then why doesn't He just get busy providing it?" some question.
Because God is not just some cosmic "supplier," He is our Father, and He wants to interact with us as Father and children. Just as a good parent knows what their children need, they still long to talk with their children about their needs and share in them.
God doesn't want our silence, He welcomes our conversation.
Do you converse with God about your life? Or do you just expect Him to provide for you without the need for relationship?
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
She was surprised by the question but replied, "Why yes, I do."
Then he asked her, "Do you go to church every Sunday?"
Again, her answer was, "Yes!"
He then asked her, "Do you read your Bible and pray every day?"
Again she said, "Yes!"
By now, the young lady's curiosity was very much aroused.
The little boy sighed with relief and asked, "Will you hold my money while I go swimming?"
This little boy believed that if someone professed to being a Christian, then there was a certain reliable character that came with such a profession. In fact, he was depending on it.
So are others, and some of those other people are in your life. They believe that, because you profess to follow Christ, they can rely on a Christlike character from you. They need that from you!
What are you giving them?
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Monday, May 20, 2013
In fact, it really is important to know the truth, and it's also important to convey that truth humbly.
That's the concise message of "Humble Orthodoxy" by Joshua Harris, with Eric Stanford (published by Multnomah Books). In fact, the physical book itself models the message by the authors. Instead of stretching a single subject into a full-sized hardback edition, the photo above shows this small book in the palm of my hand.
It's a little hardback (just 79 pages in a mini-hardback format, and that includes a study guide in the back of the book) because the authors stick to the subject, one that needs to be broached by many in the church. Being right --- having orthodox beliefs --- matters. But so does how we communicate the truth of God's Word to others.
In 2013, the church is rife with arrogance and even mean-spiritedness in how some use their version of the truth to pummel others. Others are willing to fudge on the truth for the sake of "peace." What we really need in order to be the church unified on mission for Christ is humble orthodoxy.
"One of the mistakes Christians often make is that we learn to rebuke like Jesus but not love like Jesus," the authors write.
Harris and Stanford identify the problems surrounding a lack of both humility and orthodoxy and lead us in learning how we can harmonize knowing and sharing God's truth with genuine humility and graciousness toward others.
Anyone with a heart to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others would benefit from this book. It's a fast but worthwhile read that may help you be more effective in pursuing orthodox beliefs with the right attitude.
I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Legend has it that was the order given by Spanish conquistador, Hernando Cortes, but it's somewhat inaccurate.
Cortes had heard of the great wealth of the Aztec empire, and he set his mind on a single mission: to conquer the Aztecs and take their vast treasure.
In 1519, Cortes left his 11 ships anchored off the Yucatan and came ashore with 500 soldiers and 100 sailors, ready to begin the task of toppling the Aztec empire while appropriating its wealth.
There was just one problem --- some of his men were having second thoughts about their commitment to the mission.
Cortes had selected his men carefully, yet he had to do something to significantly buoy their motivation for the mission.
"Destroy the ships!" he ordered.
Initially, that order met was with resistance from Cortes' men. But Cortes challenged them, "If we are going home, we are going home in their ships."
The ships were scuttled (instead of burned), which meant Cortes' soldiers and sailors were making a total commitment toward successfully completing their singular mission. It was reported that morale and individual commitment to the mission shifted radically after the sinking of the ships. With no way to sail home, it was now all or nothing. Two years later, they would successfully complete their mission.
Great missions are usually rife with risks, dangers, and uncertainties. It's not uncommon to want to keep one foot safely on home base instead of losing our means to return to where we feel safe. But missions aren't accomplished that way, including the mission Jesus Christ has given to each Christian to join Him in building the kingdom of God.
"57 As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, 'I will follow you wherever you go.' 58 But Jesus replied, 'Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.' 59 He said to another person, 'Come, follow me.' The man agreed, but he said, 'Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.' 60 But Jesus told him, 'Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.' 61 Another said, 'Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.' 62 But Jesus told him, 'Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God," Luke 9:57-62.
Following Christ comes with all the promises and assurances of a faithful and perfect God, yet the journey will have its troubles. What's a motivation to move forward? It's an all-or-nothing proposition. You can't follow Christ for just select parts of the journey, you're either with Him or you aren't.
"Then he said to the crowd, 'If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me'," Luke 9:23.
You either "destroy the ships" and commit to the mission, or turn back to the world and its false safety and comforts.
Which choice have you made?
Sunday, May 19, 2013
"It's a bet," agrees his buddy.
A few minutes later, the man on the ledge jumps, so the loser hands his pal a $10 bill.
"I can't take your money," his friend admits, "I saw him jump earlier on the six-o'clock news."
"Me, too," says the other buddy, "but I didn't think he'd do it again!"
There are times when we should be able to expect someone to "know better" or to have finally learned a lesson. The time the apostles spent with Jesus just prior to His ascension into heaven is one of those times.
During their three years of intimately following and learning from Jesus, they missed a lot of lessons at first. But now, they have seen their Master endure the cross and then overcome death. Still, they just aren't getting it. Instead of inquiring about the kingdom of God, their minds return to a worldly, political setting as they ask Jesus if the time has come for Israel to be restored.
"So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, 'Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?'" Acts 1:6.
The apostles still have their minds set on the things of this world, rather than the things of God. Jesus redirects them to what they should be focused on ...
"7 He replied, 'The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere — in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth'," Acts 1:7-8.
The future of Israel wasn't unimportant, but there was something more important the apostles needed to be focused on, and that was building the kingdom of God rather than any earthly kingdom. It would take the coming of the Holy Spirit in their lives for them to finally "get it."
The Apostle Paul echoes that same message when he writes, "Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God," Colossians 3:1-3.
Are you focused on being witnesses for Jesus? Or are you distracting yourself with political worries about earthly kingdoms?
Saturday, May 18, 2013
So much could be (and has been) written on that topic, but let's approach it from a different angle: When will you know the will of God for you?
The Apostle Paul provides a direct answer for us:
"Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. THEN you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect," Romans 12:2.
Did you catch that?
You will not understand God's will for you with a mind that is conformed to the world. Stated another way, you must allow God to transform how you think first, "... THEN you will learn to know God's will for you ..."
So perhaps the more pressing question is this: Is your mind conformed or transformed?