Pages Menu
TwitterRssFacebook
Categories Menu

Posted on Aug 18, 2015 in Blog, Culture, Deliberate Living, Featured, Perseverance, repost, Values

The Call for Finishers in a world of Dreamers

The Call for Finishers in a world of Dreamers

I’m a dreamer by nature. I love thinking about what’s possible. I spend a lot of my time thinking about all the things that could be done. And you know what, there are a lot more possibilities that most of us give consideration to. So, I will not argue that we should not be dreamers. That’s a vital role we play as people who were created to create.

But there’s another problem I have as well. I get about 80-90% through a project, and start running out of steam. I lose interest. Once it becomes functional, I’m okay to be done. Or, something new has gotten my attention and my focus is being drawn away.

Maybe you’re not like that. I know there are many who have a need to finish. When they’re not finished, it keeps them up at night.

But, I don’t think I’m alone. The intoxication of the dream is great. It’s easy to dream. It’s much harder to work and get things done.

The reason I don’t think I’m alone in this is what I see happening in the world around me. We want to get rich now, get fit now, get happy now, get married now, get a house now, get a new TV now. We want it now. We want to go to bed and fall right to sleep, then wake right up when we want to wake up. And we’re willing to take pills to accomplish this task if necessary. We want it our way and we want it now!

There are a thousand dreams out there, and we think we have a right to them. There are a million different ideas and we think it’s perfectly reasonable that we should see those ideas and dreams come into fruition.

But, there is also a great need in our culture today. We need finishers. We need people who will stay the course and get the job done. We need people who are committed and follow through.

Paul said it best:

24 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Cor 9:24-27)

When you’re training for a race, you’re training to win. If you’re not training to win, you’re at least training to complete the race. No one runs a marathon without training. To finish the race, to win the prize, we have to train for it.

What that means is, we have to endure. We have to stick with it (persevere). We have to be faithful. We don’t quit when it gets hard. We don’t quit when we think we’re ready. We don’t finish training until we have finished the race. You wouldn’t train for two months to run a marathon, then take a month off before the day of the race. You train until you have finished the race.

Endurance, perseverance and faithfulness are ideas that are fading in our society. When we don’t like something, we bail. It’s prevalent. You might even say it’s dominant. We’re more likely to quit something than we are to stick with it. If you had a pair of dice, the majority of the combinations would come up with quit. If we had a magic 8 ball, all the options but one would be to leave.

When things get tough in our family life, we leave. When things get tough at work, we find a new job. When things get tough in our neighborhood, we find a new house. When things get tough at church, we find a new church.

We have bought into the deception. We think there is a magical answer to our frustration. There’s a pill we can take, a 3 step plan to follow or lottery ticket we can buy. We think there should be a magic bullet to solve our problem, and if there isn’t we just quit, leave or walk away.

The world has convinced us not to follow through. Just throw it away and buy a new one. Just sell it and get another one. The world doesn’t want us to follow through because the world needs us to always be buying more stuff. If we’re satisfied, they’re not making money. If we’re happy, they’re going to go out of business. If we’re content, they’re going to lose out on profits.

It’s time to unravel the lie and embrace the truth. The lie has convinced us that things and status symbols are what leads to happiness. The lie has convinced us that contentment is bad and busyness is good. We need to see the lie for what it is. It’s false. It’s not true. We don’t really “need” all the things the world tells us we “need.”

What we need is to endure. What we need is to persevere. What we need is to be content. What we need is to be faithful. And anything that causes us to want to walk away from these concepts is a lie. Anything that causes us to want to give up on finishing the race, is a lie. Anything that causes us to be discontent is a lie. Anything that causes us to want to be faithful is a lie. It’s a distortion. It’s a funky mirror in a fun house. It kind of looks like the right thing, but it’s way off.

What we need are people who are willing to stick it out with their families, even when it’s hard. We need spouses to work together instead of against each other. We need parents to lead their children instead of letting their children lead them. We need people to be committed to providing for their families. We need people committed to loving their neighbors. We need people who are committed to a church body, no matter how imperfect it may be.

Why? Because this is what’s right. Leaving, quitting, walking away are what’s wrong. That’s the lie.

Are there exceptions to this? Sure. But we’ve allowed the exception to become the mode of operation. Now we live by the exception and those who follow the rule are crazy.

Let’s be crazy together. Let’s be the wack jobs that just don’t get it. Let’s be faithful. Let’s endure to the end. Let’s be committed to a crazy love that doesn’t make sense in today’s day and age. Let’s stand out for being so radically committed that the world notices there is something drastically different.

Then when the world falls apart and we are still holding our world together, they will want to know why. And we get to tell them.

It’s because we’re committed to finishing. We are finishers. We don’t give up. We don’t quit. We don’t throw in the towel. We endure to the end. We will cross that finish line. We will get that prize. We will not let all our training and effort got to waste. We will persevere.

“I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Paul – Acts 20:24)

Read More

Posted on Aug 11, 2015 in Blog, Church, Culture, Deliberate Living, Family, Featured, Intentional Living, repost

3 Simple Steps for Getting Back Into The Swing (of things)

3 Simple Steps for Getting Back Into The Swing (of things)

Summer is a crazy time. It’s fun. We spend a lot of time together as a family. We do things we don’t do the rest of the year. And it’s good. It’s good to spend time together as a family and make memories that will last a lifetime. But, as we start to run out of steam on cramming all the summery goodness into our summer, we run the risk of making a different kind of memory. They last a lifetime too, but we wish they wouldn’t.

So, I wanted to give you 3 simple tips for getting back into the swing of things.

1.) Find a simple, but productive, daily discipline to begin. 

As we go through the summer months, it’s easy to let discipline slide. We’re living in the moment, winging it. And while there is a time and place for that, in fact it’s good to do that, we also need to have discipline in our lives as well.

If you’ve gone a long time without discipline, it can be hard to find the on ramp again. But, what I’ve found is that discipline always facilitates more discipline. I call it the begetting principle. That’s a post that’ll come later.

If you want to live a more disciplined life, find one small area you can succeed in with being disciplined on a daily basis. It doesn’t have to be big. It shouldn’t be. You just need to be able to sustain it. It can be as simple as setting the alarm for a specific time, and refusing to hit the snooze. That may prove more challenging. You may want to get a simple devotional and read it first thing in the morning.

Whatever it is, do it every day and first thing in the morning. This will turn on the discipline switch in your mind, and you’ll start building up the getting things done muscles of your psyche.

2.) Make a list each day of what needs to be done. 

There are days when I feel productive, but then when I look back on what I accomplished that day, I realize I didn’t get nearly as much done as I thought I did. When you don’t give yourself specific things to do, it’s easy to feel like you’re doing a lot when you’re not really doing much at all.

So, another simple way to get back into the swing of things is to start making a list. Don’t get carried away. Just add 5-6 specific things to that list that need to get done today. If you do these things today, you will have succeeded. If you don’t do these things today, you know you need to work harder tomorrow.

When we get out of routine, we can easily do one thing in a days time and feel like we’ve exhausted our entire stockpile of energy for the day. But, let’s be honest, we all know we’re capable of doing more than one thing a day.

Some of the things on your list may be bigger and take longer. If it’s a bigger project, try to break it up into manageable steps that you can check off. Maybe you won’t finish the whole thing today, but I bet you can finish several steps.

And put a one or two simple and quick to accomplish tasks on your list too. That will make you feel like you’re making progress and get you moving toward getting the other things done.

3.) Plan & Build your fall routine. 

Life has a natural repetitive nature to it. Every week, we start a new week. (That was a really profound statement.) I think of the week as starting on Sunday. So, every Sunday I begin a new week. Every Sunday, my family begins a new week. The old week is done, a new week has come. Because of this natural cycle, it’s good to use the week as your framework to build your routine.

My number one suggestion for planning and executing on a successful routine is to go to church on Sunday morning. (DON’T STOP READING YET!!!) Yes, I’m biased because I’m a pastor. But I have a good reason.

Starting your week with going to church starts your week off with discipline. It’s easy to go to church. I know the excuses, I’ve heard them all. (I actually wrote some articles about it on our church blog: http://68church.com/12-excuses-for-not-going-to-church-and-why-you-shouldnt-use-them-part-1/) But, let’s be honest: It’s not that hard to go to church. Especially a church like ours, where you can come just like you are. You don’t have to look fancy and wear your “Sunday best.” Just come. Just be here.

Why does it help to start your week this way? There are a few reasons. It gives you structure. And when you’re trying to build structure, you need to start with structure.

Another reason is, if you can overcome the temptation and excuses to skip church on Sunday, you will help yourself overcome the excuses for other things throughout the week. So much of what we don’t do is because we’ve excused ourself and all we need to do is step up and be responsible.

Another reason? It’s a very healthy beginning. You have the servant aspect of church. Starting off your week serving others is a great set up. There’s the community aspect. Starting your week with a community of like-minded believers sets you up for walking through life in the same way. Tithing/Giving/Generosity is another great aspect. Prioritizing God in our finances also helps us to make other priorities in our spending.

Worshipping God is a great way to keep yourself in check. Exalting God makes it harder to exalt ourselves as the most important thing in our lives. When we are starting our week by humbling ourselves and submitting to the creator of the universe, that’s like saying, you designed this whole thing in the first place and I’m going to let you take the lead.

19 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
    by understanding he set the heavens in place;
20 by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,
    and the clouds let drop the dew.        {Proverbs 3:19-20}

Try these three simple steps and just see if you don’t have a better week! 1. Daily Discipline. 2. Make a List. 3. Plan your Weekly Routine. Try it.

I dare you!

Read More

Posted on Aug 5, 2015 in Abortion, Blog, Culture, Featured, Lost Virtues, repost, Truth

It’s a Human Rights Issue

It’s a Human Rights Issue

I’ve been struggling with where to begin on this planned parenthood disaster. I have pages of notes and they will be coming to you over the next several posts. I recognize taking a stand on this will cause some people to unfriend me, dislike me and get angry with me. There will be those who get angry at the stance I will take. But, I refuse to let the fear of rejection be something that keeps me from speaking up for those who can’t speak for themselves. This won’t be the only post on the topic, and it may not be the best place to start, but it is a starting point.

But let me say, right off the bat. My aim is not to offend. My aim is not push people away. My aim is to be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves. My aim is to speak the truth into a very dark and disturbing situation. And it’s hard to know where to begin and what to say. So please bear with me.

Even as I try to think of ways to illustrate the monstrous events that are occurring, I realize that there is no logical comparison. Laws exist to protect us as human beings from this kind of treatment. Doctors can’t kill people to sell their organs. Doctors can’t sell organs. People can’t sell their own organs. People have to give consent to have their organs donated after they have died. They don’t get sold to the highest bidder. They are donated to save another life.  By the way, this makes me strongly reconsider the idea of organ donation. If these are the ethics driving doctors today, who’s to say they wouldn’t choose to let me die so they can sell my liver? Not to say that there aren’t ethical doctors, but how am I to know that I will get an ethical doctor if these ethics are a possibility within the field?

These people being abused don’t have a choice in the matter. They are being sacrificed for convenience without the opportunity to deny consent. They are vulnerable. They are in need of our protection and provision. Instead they have been destroyed and their body parts sold to make a profit.

Many will argue that this is a women’s rights issue. There is truth to that argument, but not in the way it is being used. Neither I nor anyone else who is appalled by this barbaric act would in any way argue that women should be denied health care. I would never argue that women shouldn’t have access to it. I just also happen to think that the babies have access to the same rights.

If there is such a thing as human rights, this has to be the pinnacle of human rights issues. We cannot simply decide something isn’t a right because it’s inconvenient. We can’t decide something isn’t a right because it conflicts or contradicts with the kind of lifestyle we want to lead. A human right, by definition is something that is a right to every human. Our personal motivations, agendas and ideologies are cease when the come in conflict with the rights of another human being. This is true in all of life. I can choose to have whatever beliefs I wish, but if those beliefs threaten the rights of another human being, I must stop. I cannot kill people who disagree with me. They have rights as a human, and if my beliefs conflict with their rights, it is my beliefs that change not their rights as a human being.

But, come on! Are you willing to trust someone with your own health who is choosing to make a profit by selling the organs of tiny, indefensible babies? That would, for most logical people, be a huge red flag. You wouldn’t go to a doctor who made money selling the leftover parts of a hysterectomy (which is a procedure done with the knowledge of the patient) let alone go to a doctor who stole a patient’s organs without their knowledge and sold them. And if that doctor had to kill people in order to get the organs they need for their bottom line, you would be appalled. If you discovered that your doctor was stealing the kidneys from women to sell for a profit, wouldn’t you be a little bit upset? (Of course, if a doctor were to do these things, they would lose their license to practice medicine, be thrown into jail and maybe even worse.)

Will we not stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves? Those who are defending planned parenthood have the ability to make a stand. They have a voice in the debate. They have representation in the government. But, what about those who don’t have the same ability. Are we to simply abolish them because they are too vulnerable. What about others among us who lack such abilities. Shall we demolish them as well. I’m sure there is some profit to be made from the dissection of their remains.

This is not simply a women’s rights issue, it is a human rights issue. I think women should be protected when that is the need. I think women should receive the service of caring doctors. There are many Christian clinics that have risen up to help provide. There are many other, government funded clinics who do not commit such atrocities. But there are also babies, children and even men who have rights.

It’s amazing how we will stand up against American companies who outsource production to countries who mistreat children and women. These products are made in factories where women and children make a couple of dollars a day if they’re lucky. And we will be outraged. Rightly so. And I think that is an injustice we should be working to solve. Women and children should not be taken advantage of, no matter where on the planet they reside.

But, we will boycott and protest such companies who use these means of production, while at the same time defending a company who, on American Soil, sold the body parts of babies to other companies on American soil. Really? We won’t buy products made in India because of child labor, but we’ll stand up for a company that kills, dissects and sells the body parts of a child? Why do we not see the hypocrisy in that?

We will hang from bridges to try to keep a company from drilling in the arctic, but we applaud the efforts of Planned Parenthood? Is stopping a company from drilling for oil really more important than stopping a company from profiting off of selling the salvageable parts of an abortion?

Every life matters. Regardless of race, sex, age, diseases, dysfunctions, handicaps or any other qualifier you can use, every life matters. The lives of those who make mistakes matter. The lives of those who have different sexual preferences matter. Every life matters. Why? Because every person on this planet is made in the image of God, regardless of their belief in Him. Every single person. There is no exception. And every single one of us entered this world in the same way – through our mother’s womb. There is no difference between any of us when it comes to our value and worth because that resides in each of us. And it’s there because of whose image we reflect.

I say we stand up for the rights of the workers in India, for the rights of women in America and for the rights of people who are being sacrificed, dissected and sold. It will not be easy. It will be a struggle. We have been lured into an apathetic coma and now we find the muscles needed to stand up have atrophied. But they will strengthen as we begin to use them. As we stand up for God’s creations, God will give us strength to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.

And if enough of us wake up, stand up and speak up…maybe…just maybe…we will be a part of the movement that stopped this barbaric act. Maybe we will see human life valued once again and babies will cease to be treated as a product to be sold.

This isn’t a women’s rights issue because it’s a human rights issue. It just so happens the most vulnerable have been taken advantage of. Their inability to voice their dissent does not mean we should violate their rights. It means we must be their voice. We must be the mouthpiece for their right to live.

Read More

Posted on Jun 30, 2015 in Blog, Culture, Featured, Grace, repost, Values

Whatever You Think The Issue Is, It Probably Isn’t

Whatever You Think The Issue Is, It Probably Isn’t

The SCOTUS just ruled to allow same-sex marriage. And then people started going berserk. That pretty much sums up the last 4 days. And, while there are ramifications that should be discussed on the topic of the ruling, there is something more important we need to consider.

It’s easy, when big events like this happen to get drawn into them. It’s easy to dig in your heals on whatever side of the issue you are on and start hurling debates and arguments on people.

I understand the urge, because I find myself wanting to do the same thing. But, one thing I know for sure, is that no matter what the issue is, that issue isn’t the most important thing.

What’s the issue? People need Jesus. First and foremost. That’s the most important thing. But, when we focus on the issue first, we aren’t communicating that to people. What we are telling them is that they way they are living is wrong and they need to change.

We can’t expect people living apart from Jesus to live up to the moral standards Jesus set forth.

Why? Because we can’t even do it.

I don’t think we understand grace anymore. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve. We can’t do anything to deserve God’s free gift of grace. If we could, it wouldn’t be called grace. We need to know grace. Grace is what is given to us freely, it’s what gets us into the Kingdom. And it’s also what keeps us there. It’s not just grace at one point in time, but grace as we fail every day to live up to God’s standards.

And yet, here we are, not living perfect lives, while simultaneously condemning those who aren’t living up to our standards.

We have the power of Christ in us to empower us to live according to his principles and standards. And yet we fail all the time. We are constantly being refined. We are in constant need of grace.

Do I agree with the direction our culture is going? No. In fact, I am concerned just as many of you are. And I would argue that if people lived according to God’s design, we would find a lot more peace and joy – whether they believe in him or now.

But, I can almost guarantee one thing, if we react harshly against people who don’t have the power of God in their lives for not living up to God’s standards for life, while we fail every day to live up to that same standard, we will lose whatever influence we have left.

We can’t hold an unbelieving world accountable to something they don’t believe in. That’s not our job. We can’t condemn an unbelieving world for not living up to standards we can’t live up to.

Our job is to live out the gospel, as best we can, in front of people so that they may see our good deeds and glorify our father in heaven. We live out the gospel, and we share it when we have the opportunity. Not in a condemning way, but in a gracious way.

Yes, we have to admit our sin and walk away from it when we follow Christ, but I don’t think that’s the first step of the gospel.

What’s the first step? Knowing how much God loves you. Do you know how much God loves you? Do you know that you have the opportunity to be a child of the Most-High God? That you can share in the inheritance of the King of the Universe?

I don’t think the primary motivation for putting your faith in Christ is the lifestyle we might have to give up. And as long as we start there, I think we’re going to continue to fail. As long as we start with the issue and focus on the issue and argue about the issue, we will continue to side-step the most important and primary motivation for faith in Christ.

The primary motivation for putting your faith in Christ is what you’re being invited into. And when you know what you’re being invited into, anything you have to give up pales in comparison.

So, before you get into that next argument, before you post that next article on Facebook or Twitter that says what you think needs to be said, stop and ask yourself – how are they going to respond to me? How are they going to respond to Jesus if we are pounding people over the head with a morality we fail to live up to? And most importantly, what kind of Jesus are they going to see from me as I do these things?

I wonder if we all started sharing with people about the goodness of God’s grace and what they have the opportunity to step into how differently the world might respond to Christ in us, the hope of glory?

The good thing is, it’s not too late. We can all start right now. We have hurdles to overcome. We have tremendous obstacles in our way. But, if we all start living this way, Christ will be irresistible in us. And people will be drawn to Him.

And that’s the real issue.

Read More

Posted on Jun 17, 2015 in Apologetics, Blog, Culture, Featured, Grace, Intentional Living, repost, Truth

Forcible Diversions: A 6 Step Response To The Issues Of Our Day

Forcible Diversions: A 6 Step Response To The Issues Of Our Day

Recently, I found myself in a conversation with someone about one of the hottest topics of today. I don’t want to get into what it was or the details of the debate. I have no desire to belittle someone who is struggling with any of these issues we hear of. I felt as though I was being forced into a debate I didn’t want to have. Especially in this case. Fortunately it was lunch time, so I had an escape hatch. But, as I was in the conversation and for days afterward, I found myself wondering how can I share the gospel with the person whey they so clearly believe I am wrong for believing the Bible on issues of morality. Here is my response on how we ought to respond. It’s long, but hopefully worthwhile.

Let be begin with some background.

We are passionate about the gospel at our church. We believe in it’s work and that it is the one thing we would love for everyone we come in contact with to experience. All of our efforts as a church are designed to lead people to it. We spend a great deal of time training our people to live it out and share with the people in their sphere of influence. This is the main thing for us. The gospel, the good news is that Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the cross and resurrection from the dead sets us free from the punishment of our sins and gives us an inheritance as a child of God in the Kingdom of God.

Problem #1

I have talked in the past of the struggle we face in our culture today due to the justification of sin. So many issues that we would classify as sin have become justifiable rights. The challenge is, if we no longer sin, why do we need grace? So our first problem is, the moral boundaries are being pushed further and further out. The road is getting wider and wider – so to speak.

Problem #2

I have also heard it said that you can’t legislate morality. Which I don’t necessarily agree with. But, let’s say that’s true – that you can’t legislate morality. What appears to be happening now is that we are trying to legislate a guilt-free society. A society where we can do whatever we want and we don’t have to feel guilty about it. So, we make more laws (or do away with existing ones) that make it legal to do or be whatever we want in the hope of not having to feel guilty about whatever it is.

If the cross is supposed to put us in a right standing with God (atonement), there has to be something that put us in a wrong standing with God. Right?

Problem #3

We have also talked, at length, about truth. There is such a thing as absolute truth. Truth is not relative. The fact that you may or may not believe in something does not make it true/untrue. It’s true whether you believe in it or not. 2 + 2 = 4. Always. You may choose to believe that 2 + 2 = cat, but that does not make you right.

So, we have justified sin, legislated out guilt and rid ourselves of the idea of truth.

That makes it a challenge to share the gospel with people. It’s hard to tell people they need grace when it would appear we have done everything we can to erase the need for any kind of externally received grace. We, in essence, have become our own savior.

Forcible Diversions

So then, how are Christ-followers supposed to respond when issues of morality are forced upon the church?

Let me explain. For me, grace is the most important issue. All the other sin-issues are secondary. We all sin. We all have sin issues. That’s the problem. The solution to that problem is grace. So, the primary issue is grace. To be honest, I don’t care what your sin issue is. We all have sin in our lives that requires grace. The more important thing is grace.

So, how are we to respond when sin issues triumph and are touted as a primary right?

One more clarification. You might be surprised to hear me say this, but you do have the right to do whatever you choose. You can be as nasty of a person as you want to be. God gave you a free will, and you are free to exercise that free will however you choose. But, as you have probably read, “You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequence of your choice.” You may choose to be as evil as you wish, but you are not free from the consequence of that choice.

Our culture is working really hard to remove the consequences of our bad decisions.

So, you are free to live however you wish. And yes, you can even say you have the right to be whoever you want to be and do whatever you want to do.

But, what you may not do is require truth to change to alleviate the guilt you feel or the consequences you encounter as a result of your choosing.

This is where some veins of the church are getting into trouble. They are allowing the pressure of an unbelieving world to affect the truth that we have believed and been guided by for Millenia. People can live however they please. But, the church is not under any kind of obligation to acquiesce to the demands of society to alleviate the consequences of that choice.

How do we respond? 

The temptation is strong to want to get into a verbal exchange about how we are right and they are wrong. While I believe we need to know what we believe and be able to give a defense of our beliefs – the majority of people aren’t brought to grace in this way. Honestly, I wish they were. Because the logic of scripture is infallible, it would be much easier to just argue the truth of our faith with those who don’t believe. But, that’s just not the case most of the time. In fact, when you find yourself in a conversation that has been forced on you, you will realize that truth has no place in the argument. Trust me. I have been in these conversations. Logic doesn’t matter.

So, how should we respond?

Let me first say, I don’t think it does us a lot of good to get into debate that is devoid of relationship. Instead, I think we should get to know someone and build trust with them. Does that make the dialog harder? I guess it can. But, remember the ultimate truth is that they are ultimately lost if we don’t. We want to set ourselves up for the best chance to have the most important conversation. We don’t want to put more up more road blocks.

So, this is how I think we should respond.

1. We love people unconditionally. 

No matter how repulsive their behavior is, we still love unconditionally. Of course, we don’t want to put ourselves into unnecessary danger. But, we have to be in the mess if we are going to be used by God to redeem people out of it. Your hands will get dirty. You may suffer some scars and bruises. But, everyone is made in God’s image. Regardless of their beliefs or actions, they still deserve to be treated with dignity and respect because of whose image they resemble.

2. We follow the truth unswervingly. 

As difficult as it is becoming, we still cannot neglect the truth. When we are pushed to condone a behavior, we simply cannot. It sounds intolerant. You will be called intolerant. You will be called a bigot. Get used to it. How can we condone a behavior when someone doesn’t believe and then condemn it once they do? Do they have the right to do whatever they want? Yes. Does that make what they are doing right? No. We believe that following God’s design for humanity is what brings about human flourishing. If we live by it, we find a better way of life. When we live against it, we struggle. If we compromise on that truth, we are not living by God’s design.

3. We live out the gospel universally.

We cannot have any area of our lives where we aren’t living out the gospel. No, we don’t have to be little holiness machines, running around trying to scrub the earth of any form of ungodliness. But, we have to be consistent in all facets. You never know when someone will encounter you in a different arena than they normally do. You need to be the light, even if you don’t think anyone is watching. Every chance you get, be the light. Do good deeds so that people will see God through you. Live out Micah 6:8 in all areas of your life.

4. We share personally. 

While it may be difficult to tell another person they are sinning, it’s not difficult at all to point to the sin in your life and how you have been forgiven. Don’t focus on trying to make the other person feel guilty for what they are doing. Instead, speak of your own life. Speak of how the price you had to pay for your wrongdoing was paid by Jesus. And how amazed you are by grace.

5. We pray incessantly.

Pray for those you encounter without ceasing. Pray for them in your head while you’re speaking with them. Pray for them as you’re walking away. Pray as often as you can. Pray that God will send His Spirit to open the eyes of their mind and heart to His truth. Pray and expect that God will not only do it, but that He will give you opportunities to share with them.

 

6. We  invite them to receive freely. 

Invite them into the Kingdom of God. The door is open for all who choose to walk through it. It’s not our job to decide who can come in and who can’t. It’s our job to invite freely. Instead of condemning their lifestyle, invite them into something they can’t experience on their own. Don’t try to get them to your side of the argument. Instead, show them what they’re missing out on. Then, maybe they might be drawn into the Kingdom and be willing to lay everything outside the gates.

Perhaps we’ve been focused for too long on trying to convince people that they are evil instead of trying to show people the joy and goodness that awaits us all in the Kingdom of our Creator. The next time you find yourself in a conversation where someone is trying to force you to condone a behavior the bible says is wrong, remember that you too once stood on that side of the argument. It is only by grace that you stand on the other side now. It will only be by grace that they come stand with you. Focus on inviting people into something instead of on what’s keeping them out.

Life the life. Don’t compromise. Invite people in.

Read More

Posted on Apr 28, 2015 in Blog, Culture, Featured, Grace, Lost Virtues, repost, Truth, Values

Has The Good News Become Bad News?

Has The Good News Become Bad News?

We are living in a different day and age than the one I grew up in. We have gone through an enormous amount of change in the last 20 years. I know things are always changing. I have said before, every morning we wake up to a world that has changed over night. But, things have changed a great deal. And they are changing faster all the time.

In contrast, the gospel never changes. Just as truth is always true, the truth of the gospel never changes. The hope for all of humanity is found in Jesus.

So, what is the challenge?

The challenge is our vast desire to eradicate guilt from our society. For this to be done, we must also do away with a lot of sin issues.

We have a hard time talking about sin anymore. I have a hard time with it. It’s hard to tell someone that what they are doing is sinning. It’s hard to look at my own life, see the areas I fall short in and call them sin. It would be much easier if sin didn’t exist and I didn’t have to feel as though I come up short.

And I’m not the only one who feels that way. In fact, I think this is what is behind the legalization of a lot of issues that used to be considered sin. I’m not going to single anything out. That’s not the point of this post.

But, if something makes us feel guilty because it’s against the law, and we change the law, then we don’t have to feel guilty about it anymore. Right?

Now, imagine building a relationship with someone and wanting to share with this person about the most important relationship in their life. I’m not talking street evangelism, I’m talking someone you care about.

What is the premise of the gospel? Is it not that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God?” Is it not that we live in “glad rebellion” against God, as Matt Chandler puts it? That we are born into a fallen world as fallen individuals, and if we are left to our own we will choose what makes us happy instead of what’s right.

God had a design and ideal in mind when he created the world, and we chose to do something different. We had to do things our way instead of God’s way. As a consequence, we also lost relationship with God. We no longer walked and talked with God in the garden.

But God provided a way for us to be reunited with him. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. While we were still rebelling against God, He sent His son to die for us. Thank God for grace! Thanks be to God that there is a cure for my rebellion. And the price that needed to be paid for me to be in relationship with God was paid by Christ on the cross.

It’s an amazing story. It’s an amazing offer.

But, what happens when you take sin out of the equation. If there is no sin, then what is the need for the gospel? What is the need for grace?

Our attempt and desire to rid ourselves of the guilt that results from sinning, is resulting in ridding ourselves from the gospel.

“We haven’t done away with all sin!” you might be saying to yourself. Sure, there are areas that we have yet to venture into when it comes to justifying our desire for sinning. But, we sure have done away with a lot of them. And we hear more and more justifications for bad decisions all the time.

Of course, this all has to do with truth. If there is no absolute truth, then there ultimately is no sin. More on that later…

If there is no sin, there really isn’t anything to be saved from, therefore, there is no need for a Savior and no need for the gospel.

It would even seem that the good news has become bad news. Once we have legalized things that used to be classified as sin so that we can rid ourselves of guilt, if something comes along and makes us feel guilty (besides our own conscience) then that’s a bad thing. We have made our peace and no loner feel guilty and thanks to our progressive culture, we don’t have to worry about getting in trouble for it anymore either. But then someone comes along and shares the good news of Jesus.

But, it’s not so good anymore, because instead of being good news that Jesus saves us from the penalty we deserve for our sin, it’s pointing out that we should feel guilty about this thing. And we don’t like that, so the good news is actually bad news.

So, how do we share the gospel in a world that is doing away with sin more and more every day?

Read More
Page 3 of 612345...Last »