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The Redemption Of Boredom But whether you love chemistry or not, we’ve all been there. For you, maybe it was Shakespeare, or sitting on hold waiting for the cable company to answer your call, or one of those pointless, endless meetings at work that a two paragraph e-mail could have covered. Have you ever noticed how many boring moments there are in life?

Young People’s Greatest Problem Is… – At least, according to Matthew Henry. In his little book, Sober-Mindedness Pressed Upon Young People, Henry says, “I have seen more young people ruined by pride than perhaps by any one lust whatsoever.”

Can Your Congregation Answer The Questions Of A Post-Christian Society?Christians are often stymied because they simply don’t know how to apply biblical truth to all of life. As a result, they are continually in retreat before competing ideas. The dominant theories in virtually all fields are secular, and sometimes explicitly anti-Christianity. In order to obey the cultural mandate, we need a strategy that empowers us to show where those theories are mistaken, and then to craft positive biblical alternatives.

4 Reasons To Write Down Prayer Requests – As I thought about this a bit more I’ve decided to always write down prayer requests. If you are one of those tech savvy dudes you can use something like OneNote to keep a record of these. I’m not one of the cool kids so I still use pen and paper and stick little notes in my Bible.

C.S. Lewis Said It: God’s “Goodness” Cannot Be Wholly Other – For years now I have been insisting that the main reason I am not a Calvinist (or any kind of divine determinist) is that, taken to its “good and necessary consequences,” Calvinism makes God morally monstrous.

Why Did Christianity Grow? – A few years ago I made my way through one of his best known books, The Rise of Christianity. Stark, in debunking a number of historical myths, tries to explain from a sociological perspective “how the obscure, marginal Jesus movement became the dominant religious force in the western world in a few centuries.”

Tim Hawkins – 8% Body Fat

 

Created To Live For Something More

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We were created and designed to live for more than ourselves.

“There is woven inside each of us,” writes Paul Tripp, “a desire for something more—a craving to be a part of something bigger, greater, and more profound than our relatively meaningless day-by-day existence.” The difficulty however, is that this search for something more is hindered by our craving for personal glory. “In a fallen world” writes Tripp, “there is powerful pressure to constrict your life to the shape and size of your life.”

In Genesis 3, we are told of the story of Adam and Eve’s move from their allegiance to God to their trusting in their own decision making. As a result, they made the choice to eat from the one tree in the Garden in which they were forbidden. Hoping for new knowledge, they discovered the emptiness that results in abandoning the Creator. And now, in lineage with Adam and Eve, we all are on the quest for something more.

What we must daily realize is that this “something more” we are looking for will never be found from within ourselves.  We must not “shrink the size of [our] glory focus to the narrow glories of [our] own little selves,” writes Tripp. What we are looking for, and what “every human being quests for, whether he knows it or not, is not a thing; it is a person, and his name is God.”

The bottom line, writes Tripp, is that “it is only in communion with God and in submitting all other forms of glory to his glory that [we] will ever find the ‘above and more’ that [our] hearts seek. We were made to experience, to be part of, to be consumed by, and to live in pursuit of the one glory that is truly glorious–the glory of God.”

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31) and become completely satisfied and filled with the “something more” in which you long.

Trusting In God Who Raises The Dead

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The fact that Jesus has been raised from the dead changes everything. It changes what we hope for and where we place our trust!

Paul writes:

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:20-22).

How vital it is to remember that just as Christ is made alive, so we will be made alive. And if God has the power over death, should we not trust him in all things? Since we serve a God who raises the dead, what have we to fear?

N.T. Wright writes:

If, then, we recognize the truth about the surpassing God, the God who raises the dead, we can trust him with every task that may come our way. He can be trusted with exams; he can be trusted with jobs, even when they don’t necessarily work out the way we thought they should. He can be trusted with marriage, both as we look forward to it with eagerness and trepidation and when we find ourselves within it and facing the stresses and strains that all contemporary marriages must expect. He can be trusted with money, even when it seems as though there is even less of it available than we had thought. He can be trusted with old age. He can be trusted with death itself. Of course he can; he is the God who raised the dead, who affirms the goodness of human life, who takes precisely the situation where there seems to be no hope in human terms, and brings new life exactly there. 

As we draw near to Easter, let it push us to follow Christ more fully knowing that he holds the power of life and death. Let us be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord [our] labor is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).

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It’s The Little Things It’s the little things that members of a church or church plant do that help the ministry thrive—and without which the growth of the local church would be greatly hindered.

22 Benefits Of Meditating on Scripture – Some great thoughts here on encouraging you to meditate upon God’s Word.

The Life & Mission Of St. Patrick – Patrick’s work firmly planted the Christian faith in Irish soil and left a deep imprint on the Celtic church that would grow up from this soil. 

Poptarts, Budweiser, and Leadership – Poptarts and Budweiser. I am endorsing neither, but one of these brands has experienced 25 years of consecutive decline and one has experienced 30 years of consecutive growth.

A Glimpse Of Grace: This Is NOT A Disney World – We would all love to live in a Disney World, where everything and everyone are clear-cut and perfect. The “bad guys” are always caught, and the problems always solved. Someone else picks up the litter and delivers our snacks.

Legalism Is Your Spiritual Illusion – If you’re living in a narrative that tells you God’s love for you is contingent on your performance, you’ve been told a lie. There is not a scripture in the Bible where Jesus tells us that God only loves us when we get it all right. 

It All Points To Christ

Not A Life Of Ease

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I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.
                          -C.S. Lewis in God in the Dock

In our world of satisfy self at all costs, C.S. Lewis’ quote is profoundly alarming. Plus, doesn’t our mantra for convincing others to follow Christ involve sharing the “happiness” that comes from doing so?

I think the difficulty in appropriating Lewis’ statement is that there is the tendency to equate following Christ with the American Dream. In other words, if you follow Jesus, then all will be well on this earth. You will graduate from college, land a great job, find the perfect spouse, own a house in a suburban neighborhood, have 2.5 kids, and retire happily ever after.

Now don’t misunderstand me here, I’m not condemning those who have a nice house, job, etc…. There is nothing necessarily wrong with those things, but they are not the goal of Christianity.  If that were the case, then we have much to explain to those whose relationship with Christ has caused them to lose everything. Family has abandoned them. Money has become scarce. And even their lives are in danger. And yet they still continue to follow Christ. Why? Consider the words of Paul…

 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him (Phil 3:7-9).

 When Paul found Christ, his life radically changed. It was now through Christ that he found the righteousness he so longed for. It was no longer Paul working to achieve right standing with God, but instead resting in what God had accomplished through His son on the cross. Paul no longer had to perform for God to love him. And for Paul, this was an incredible release!!! Therefore, Christ became his treasure and all else became “rubbish.”

As you most likely know, Paul’s commitment to Christ didn’t result in a life of ease. Things became more difficult for him. New problems came his way. Paul’s encounter with Christ is much like that described by Elton Trueblood when he writes:

Occasionally we talk of our Christianity as something that solves problems, and there is a sense in which it does. Long before it does so, however, it increases both the number and the intensity of the problems. Even our intellectual questions are increased by the acceptance of a strong religious faith…. If a man wishes to avoid the disturbing affect of paradoxes, the best advise is for him to leave the Christian faith alone. 

 Though Paul endured a life of hardship and abuse, he continued strong in his faith. Peace with God meant more to Paul than comfort on earth. Paul knew that regardless of what happened to him, his goal of gaining Christ would be fully realized one day. That is why he could say “to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

So why follow Christ? Why take the road least traveled? Why encounter new problems? When we have such questions, I think we do well to go back to Paul’s words and remind ourselves of what we have in Christ: To be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith (Phil. 3:9).

There is nothing but Christ that can satisfy the deepest longings of our souls; the longing to be made right and anew with our Creator. And once this truth has apprehended us, we hold on to it regardless of what comes our way, knowing that we will never be abandoned or forgotten.

The Gospel: A Wonderful Announcement!

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A good reminder from Douglas John Hall to those who proclaim, preach or share the gospel that it is, in fact, good news!!!

The words preach and sermon have moralistic connotations for most people because, alas, that is how preaching has been used—as a form of exhortation, cojolement, pep-talk. If you listen carefully to the linguistic mood of most sermons, you almost invariably find that they are full of shoulds and oughts and musts: laying down the law, sometimes bombastically, more often today nicely, with gentle persuasion—but still, the law. It is not accidental that preaching, for most people, connotes admonition: “Don’t preach at me! Don’t sermonize!” we tell those who would have us alter our ways.

 But for the New Testament the proclamation of gospel in the biblical sense is a completely different matter—in fact it’s almost the antithesis of laying down the law—as we can see in the Isaiah passage Jesus quoted:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good tidings to the poor…to proclaim release to the captives…recovery of the sight to the blind…liberation of the oppressed…the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:18-19).

 It’s more nearly a matter of releasing people from the law—social laws, penal systems, economic laws, moral laws, gender and sexual laws, dehumanizing ideologies, conventions and man-made injunctions by which human beings have been falsely bound.

As George Buttrick, the unforgettable twentieth-century preacher of Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City, used to tell us in his homiletics classes, the whole mood of the sermon should be “The most wonderful thing has happened!” – not “You had better get to work, you underachievers, and make something wonderful happen!” Gospel is always in the indicative, not the imperative mood.

 Waiting For The Gospel, Douglas John Hall (p. 5-6)

 

 

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The Hard Question Of Missions – If we are committed to serving a country and truly helping its people, we should consider one of two things: 1) moving there long-term and dedicating ourselves to learning the practices and the ways of the people as we try to help them, or 2) if we aren’t willing or able to move there long-term, entrusting the ministry to nationals as much as possible.

The Cost Of Relativism  But it’s increasingly clear that sympathy is not enough. It’s not only money and better policy that are missing in these circles; it’s norms. The health of society is primarily determined by the habits and virtues of its citizens. In many parts of America there are no minimally agreed upon standards for what it means to be a father. There are no basic codes and rules woven into daily life, which people can absorb unconsciously and follow automatically.

6 Ways To Become A Welcoming Church – Most churches do consider themselves to be friendly…but are they really?

Can “Authentic Christianity” Be Found Today? – When I read the New Testament I get several impressions about what the apostles thought authentic Christianity looks and feels like in its corporate expression.

Rough Country – Review of Robert Wuthnow, Rough Country: How Texas Became America’s Most Powerful Bible-Belt State (Princeton University Press, 2014).

5 Things You Are Doing Wrong Every Morning – Our morning tasks are much more significant than we’d like to admit, and our bad habits tend to accumulate over time. The morning sets a tone for how the rest of the day is going to go, and even a handful of small mistakes can take its toll on your productivity in the afternoon and beyond.

Why Principals Matter

“You Gotta Love Other People”

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One of the most influential persons in my life was my grandfather, A.D. Wheat. Today was his birthday. Though he passed away several years ago, there are not many days that pass by in which I don’t think of him and the life he lived in front of me.

One thing that my grandfather always told me was, “You gotta love other people!” But this was more than just something that he talked about it. He lived it!

Before my grandfather passed away, he tape recorded many of his life stories and adventures. Paige, my wife, transcribed them into a book we put together so we could give it to our kids. Below is one of the stories he told. It’s of one of his many visits to those who lived in the nursing home. As I reread this story of his today, I was struck again of how blessed I am that God would put a man such as my grandfather in my life. How blessed I am!

I used to go and visit many of the nursing homes. There was one lady who was in one of them who never smiled. She just looked terrible. The ladies at her table said she was a grouch and to not pay any attention to her. So, I thought, “She’ll be my challenge now!”

I finally got her to where she would let me have her ice cream. We had ice cream socials every Monday at 4pm. I would go over there and she would give me her ice cream Well, the others in the nursing home couldn’t understand it.

One day, my church had some Day Lilies that many people had given to the church in memory of some of their family. The gave them to me to take over to the nursing home. When I went over there, this lady was the only one in the dining area. So, I walked over and put the first Day Lily on her table.

“Who’s this for?” she asked.

“It’s for you,” I said.

“For me?”

“Sure!”

“Well, it sure does show that some people love me!”

“Sure, we love you!”

A week or two later, I was back in the nursing home and was told that this lady was really sad because she lost her car due to her driver’s license being taken away. So I went over and began to talk with her.

“Nobody loves me,” she said. “I should just go away and die. I’m no good for anybody.”

“Yes, you are,” I said. “You always save your ice cream for me. I think the world of you.”

And then, I hugged her. 

Later on, I was told that I really cheered her up. I really like doing those kind of things.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7-8).