Luke 7:1-10

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 7:1-10
 After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant[a] who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion[b] heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
What do you find most remarkable here?
-The relationship of this Centurion with the Jews?
-The Jews’ acceptance of the Centurion?
-That Jesus went with them?
-That the Centurion didn’t go meet Jesus personally?
-That Jesus praised the Centurion’s faith?
-Or, how about this: Jesus performed a miracle?
You realize he still can, right?


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Luke 6:43-49

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 6:43-49
43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.[c] 49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
What do your words reveal about your heart?
Do you hear me?
Do you understand me?
Do you do what you hear me say?
It really is just that simple.
Why not lay another stone in your foundation today?


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Tuesday Picks ~ 1-24-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

I’ve appreciated Tim Challies’ series about aging. This one hits on something many of us older adults seem to want to forget…

Greater Age Brings Greater ResponsibilityTim Challies
Throughout the Bible, God associates aging with responsibility. With increased age comes increased responsibility. Here are five of the responsibilities that come with age and increase with age…

1. Maturity
2. Involvement
3. Example
4. Mentoring
5. Watchfulness

(Click through for his elaboration on each responsibility.)


I’ve got to admit, this trend really bugs me. I went to a fantastic concert last night which could and should have been a “family friendly” show, but heard the “f-bomb” spoken and sung more than once. Why is this okay?

Words Matter: Recovering Godly Speech in a Culture of ProfanityJon D.Payne
http://thinkingrightblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/profanity.jpgCorrupt speech has been around since the fall of mankind. But the extensive and wide-ranging use of profanity is a new phenomena in our culture. Even some high profile hipster pastors such as Mark Driscoll have foolishly used salty language from the pulpit, seeking to connect with their younger hearers. As Christian believers, it is critical that we view this modern profanity epidemic through the lenses of biblical truth. Now more than ever, when it comes to our speech, Christians must be decidedly countercultural.


We Are Not the Home Team: Christians and Culture in 2017Laura Elliot
Friends, we might not be David or Paul, but there are some things we can do to live well as the away team:

  1. Acknowledge our surroundings as the home team’s domain. In other words, we shouldn’t expect the world to think as we think, live as we live, or act as we act. We need to see our fellow players as they are: the lost who have been found or the lost who are still lost.

  2. Keep the season in perspective. Playing dirty in this game is not worth your integrity when the season is at stake. May we argue for religious freedom, for political positioning, for our “rights” as citizens? Sure. But fight as Jesus fought: Only as it served His Father’s purposes, without violating His Father’s character.

  3. Sing the fight song of the away team with boldness. Win the hearts of your opponents with love. Let’s face it. Feeling like you’re always on the away team, or always losing, is a tough position to be in. It feels a little strange singing your school’s fight song in someone else’s gym. But if we do, the world will take notice.


The Most Tragic Translation in HistoryMichael Kelley“Did God really say…” he said to the woman.

Those four words still haunt us today. They haunt us not only because of the devastating effects that came afterward, but because those same four words are at the core of every temptation, social evil, and moral compromise we still face…


Don’t wait up…
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Bizarro – Click image for a larger view.

Luke 6:37-42

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 6:37-42
37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Verse 37 is pretty popular, isn’t it?
Why do you think that is?
Read verse 42 all the way to the end.
How does that work with v. 37?
So, let me ask you this: do you ever do anything wrong?
So does your brother. Trust me, you ALL do!
I know this because I’m the Judge, not you.
So quit judging one another and start helping each other.
Is that too much to ask?
I guess this was more of a lecture than a question.
That’s ok. You needed it.


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Core Values

http://www.thewocc.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Core_series_slider.jpg

What are your core values? We all have them whether we can actually name them or not. The choices we make every single day demonstrate our values. How we spend our money, who we date and why, how we drive, our work habits, all this speaks eloquently and clearly about what we think is important.

I suggest that it can be a healthy exercise to take the time to examine ourselves and describe what we think our behavior suggests about our values. It might provide clarity for future choices.

It also might be a wake-up call. This exercise could reveal that we’re not really the person we want to be. Or, more to the point, the person God wants us to be. Of course, that assumes that wanting to be what God wants us to be is important to us.

Naming our core values can be descriptive as well as prescriptive. Yes, it helps us see who we really are in practice, but it can also paint a picture and provide a guide for becoming who we aspire to be.

A few years ago my church spent quite a bit of time identifying our core values as an organization. We named each value, added a brief phrase that describes it, then wrote a longer sentence or two that breathes life into it and explains what we mean and how we intend to act. I absolutely love the result. These are the things we believe are important. The things we truly value. They provide a guide for everything we do and how we do it.

The statements might need to be massaged a bit, but these things are important to me on a personal level as well. I can’t honestly say that my life and behavior reflect these values perfectly, but they describe what I want my life to reflect.

So, by God’s grace, and in his power, I pray that these six core values of White Oak Christian Church will provide a guide for my life choices as well:

AUTHENTICITY
We will refuse to pretend.
We will be honest with ourselves and genuine with others. We are more concerned with God changing who we really are than pretending to be something we’re not.

GENEROSITY
We will hold absolutely nothing back.
We will give our time, our abilities, and our money in a relentless desire for others to experience God’s outrageous love.

REPRODUCE
We will reproduce ourselves at every level.
Engaging in God’s mission means we’ll have to intentionally multiply churches, leaders, and followers of Jesus.

RELEVANCE
We will build bridges between people and Jesus.
We will use the most effective language, technology, and resources necessary to get Jesus into people’s lives.

LOST PEOPLE
We will actively pursue people who don’t know Jesus.
To reach people no one is reaching, we’ll have to do things no one is doing.

RISK
We will choose faith over fear.
We step away from what feels safe and move towards God who shows up in the impossible.

So, what are your core values? You have them.

Do they describe the person you really want to be? The person God wants you to be?

Lloyd

Monday Picks ~ 1-23-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

First, two good articles about how we Christians should approach “alternative facts”…

Facts Are Our Friends: Why Sharing Fake News Makes Us Look Stupid and Harms Our WitnessEd Stetzer
Facts Are Our Friends: Why Sharing Fake News Makes Us Look Stupid and Harms Our WitnessChristian, if you post fake facts, you reflect on the faith—and that’s bad for the gospel and it hinders the mission.

Integrity matters.

Many Evangelicals voted for Trump, and many Evangelicals are serving in his administration. That means they have influence, and this would be a good time to use that. It would be a good time to say that “the truth will set you free.”

It’s time for them to say that facts matter. And it’s time for them to call the Trump administration to do the same. But, first, we need to get our own act together…

If there was ever a group that should care about the truth, it should be the people who believe “the truth sets you free.”


“Alternative Facts” and Christians as Gullible Skeptics
Trevin Wax
lightstock_322145_jpg_tgc
…the plague of misinformation infects conservatives and liberals alike, and Christians and non-Christians as well. But surely Christians are called to show a better way…

If we are to be faithful in a world of “fake news,” “alternative facts,” and biased sources, we are going to need to be more careful with the statistics we share, the news stories we read, and the sources we trust. Gullible skeptics, either on the right or left, don’t stand out from the world. And what we need today is for Christians to care about getting the facts straight, whether or not they’re useful or beneficial to “the party line,” because we believe in a God who tells the truth.


Then, two good articles about abortion and sanctity of life…

In a Country Where Abortion is IllegalDave Hare
We tend to think that unjust things happen in third-world countries. But have you ever considered that the practices of your nation are shocking to someone in the third-world? I am not talking about just culture shock, but real moral outrage.

This is the response that I receive when I have talked to some of my neighbors about abortion in America. They have been genuinely repulsed by the fact that abortion is legal in the States.


What If You Aborted a Future Janitor?Jared Wilson
Suppose we could save the future Einsteins and Beethovens from the abortionist. It would still be as tragic and sinful to have otherwise commenced with the offing of future stay-at-home moms, truck mechanics, and janitors. You know, all the “ordinary people” of which there are many more than the so-called extraordinary people. More boldly put: abortion is wrong, whether you happen to be aborting the next Mother Theresa or the next Adolf Hitler.

Pro-lifers, let’s not play that game. Leave utilitarian arguments to the self-appointed engineers of utopia. Let’s be Christians living in the kingdom of God instead.


Good idea…
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Dilbert – Click image for a larger view.

Luke 6:27-36

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 6:27-36
27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic[b] either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Can you think of anyone you know who lives this way?
Could you be that example for others?
If you really did this…
…how would it change your conversations?
…how would it change your social media?
…how would it change your political engagement?
Would this help people see your point?
Would this help people see me in you?
Which is more important to you?


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Weekend Picks ~ 1-20-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

I loved this perspective on Inauguration Day from a self-proclaimed “Third Culture Kid” (TDK)…

This is Why I’m Thankful to Be An American Today
Amy Medina
I am thankful I am from a country where journalists–and ordinary people–can vocally and aggressively speak, write, and publish their opposition to the government and not fear being arrested for it.

I know there might be some of you out there who are protesting, But…but…but…! Yes.  I know.  We have big problems, and some of them are huge.  Listen–I’m comparing America to the rest of the world.  We still have a lot of work to do.  But there is a reason we have an immigration problem in America:  Everyone wants what we have. Those of us who do have it should be incredibly grateful.


One more on the inauguration and Christian witness…

How Trump’s Inauguration Will Catalyze Christian WitnessKatelyn Beaty
How Trump’s Inauguration Will Catalyze Christian WitnessInauguration Day comes for many Americans with hope that our political leaders will redirect the country in the right direction. For many other Americans, the day seems a harbinger of violent ideologies that will pose a real threat to their livelihood in the next four years. But for Christians of all political stripes, the day is simply a new day to practice the radical ordinariness of following Christ…

…While political power has its place in government, the next four years will give Christians a chance to demonstrate anew a kind of power radically different from the power promised by worldly politics. It’s a kind of power that can’t be grasped at through force but can only be given and received. It’s the power that raised Jesus from the dead and that lives in all believers through the Holy Spirit. … No matter how powerless Christians might feel on Inauguration Day, or in the days to come, we are recipients of a kind of power that no ruler or state or nation, no matter how anti-gospel, can take away.


I think this is an important insight and should inform how we do ministry in our churches…

Inherited Faith Is Dying. Chosen Faith Is Not.Tim Keller
https://tgc-cache.s3.amazonaws.com/images/remote/http_s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-ee2/articles/ny-filtered.jpgLast year those of us at a European church planters’ conference in Paris were addressed by Grace Davie, emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Exeter in Great Britain. She pointed out that, yes, nominal or inherited Christianity is declining. By this she meant religion people are born into, so that one might say, for example, “I’m Norwegian, so I’m Lutheran” or “I’m French, so I’m Catholic.” We live in modern societies where we’re taught the importance of our own free choices. Inherited religion no longer maintains its hold on most people. This is why, overall, fewer people born into a church-connected family end up attending and belonging to those congregations.

However, she noted (against all expectations) that new movements of Christian faith are growing in Western cities. One reason for this is the influx of Christians from the Global South. In China, Africa, and many other places in the world, Christianity is growing rapidly as those societies are modernizing. Then, as people come to Europe and the United States from Africa, Latin America, and Asia, they plant new churches or strengthen other ones that are growing and reaching those cities. Why? Because, while religion that’s inherited will decline in the modern age, religion that’s chosen will not.


Looks like there’s a new Bible translation in town…

Introducing the Christian Standard Bible
http://csbible.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/table-bible.jpgThe Bible is meant to be read, understood, and shared. Your translation of God’s Word should be true-to-the-original and the one you like to read. That’s why we’re excited to introduce the Christian Standard Bible.

The CSB captures the Bible’s original meaning without compromising clarity. An optimal blend of accuracy and readability, this translation is designed to help readers make a deeper connection with God’s Word and to inspire lifelong discipleship.


Is platonic friendship possible anymore?

Rogue One, Fan-Theories, and the Death of Friendship
Luke Brake
chirrut_imweA compassionate look and touch of the face is to Buchanan enough to evidence a sexual relationship. I’ll be honest, I don’t buy this at all. It’s a poor thesis, and it reflects a frustrating trend in our approach to art. We have hyper-sexualized relationships to the point that there is no other conceivable close relationship.


There have been some improvements over the years…
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Bizarro