Monday Picks ~ 2-6-2017

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

Make More Bricks!Ben Eames
PictureHe gave them a purpose and identity, and a whole bunch of guidelines for living. One of the most important was Sabbath. “Work well for your family, community and nation,” God said, “But set aside one day every week for NOT working. You are not slaves anymore. I set you free. No more endlessly making bricks. You are people, not animals. Actually on that note, give your animals a day off too. They’re not slaves either.”

What about you? Are you a slave or a person?…

Work is good, but constant work is dehumanizing. Regular rest puts work in its proper place and breathes life back in to us…

So step out and leave Egypt behind. Remember, you’re a person. You’re free.


Keep Your Eye On the BallErik Raymond
Lightstock.com
…many of these issues that are taking up so much oxygen are not topics that all Christians agree upon. This means that we might have real differences on issues that are not central. In other words, you and I might agree about the gospel but disagree about political decisions and current events. But when we take our eye of the ball, the current events get elevated above the gospel, and cause division among good gospel-loving people. Brothers and sisters, this should never be.


Numbers 3 and 4 always rub me the wrong way…

7 Lies Most Pastors TellCarey Nieuwhoflies

  1. It was awesome!

…if you make it a pattern to say things were awesome when they weren’t, people know.

  1. It was awful!

…other times I can write something off as terrible, when the truth is it had redeeming characteristics I’ve missed.

I have to discipline myself to call it what it really is.

Things are rarely as awesome or terrible as you tell yourself they are.


Breathtaking photos and a fascinating experience…

A Gathering of GiantsTony Wu
http://cdn.c.photoshelter.com/img-get2/I0000o7JO40ktCWs/fit=1000x750/superpod-aggregation-sperm-whales-defecation-sloughed-skin-201402-1230.jpgSperm whales are mammals and live in almost every major ocean, including tropical and temperate waters. They breathe air and are warm-blooded. Yet they spend the majority of their lives in deep, dark, cold water foraging for food, often diving to depths of 800 meters or more in the process. It helps to think of them not as air-breathing animals that dive, but as creatures of the deep that occasionally visit the surface to breathe. In other words, the opposite of how humans relate to the ocean.


The real reason the circus went out of business
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Bizarro – Click image for a larger view.

Luke 8:16-18

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 8:16-18
16 “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 17 For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. 18 Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Is your light on?
Where do you point it?
Do you use it to point to me, or only to point out the faults of others?
What about your own faults?
Are you hiding anything you wouldn’t want to come to light?
What should we do about that?
I can tell you’re having trouble making sense of vs. 18.
Think of it as a riddle: what would a person have that I would give more of, and what would a person not have that he thinks he has that I would take away, and how does “taking care how you hear” have to do with it?


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

Weekend Picks ~ 2-3-2017

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

True Worship, Brotherly PeaceRay Ortlund
29983-cain-slaying-abel-jacopo-palma-1590.800w.tnCain made a gesture of thanks, but Abel risked his future growth potential by giving God some of his breeding stock. The difference between these two men was tokenism versus love, and God took it seriously…

We should not be like Cain. He was of the evil one. He hated his brother Abel, because Abel was a living reproach to his own hypocrisy. But from the beginning those who truly love God also love one another.

The vertical and the horizontal always connect.


I know a few folks who could use this right now…

Christian, Your Pain Is Never PunishmentKathryn Butler
At a cursory glance, this retribution theology may appear consistent with principles undergirding the fall…

Unfortunately, these arguments ignore myriad instances in the Bible when God uses suffering not to punish, but rather to enact tremendous good….

Passages like these warn that we must never presume to know God’s intent for someone in anguish. God has an infinite capacity to effect goodness in the midst of our inequity. No theorems hem in his glory. The cross reveals in luminous brushstrokes our Lord’s grace and his overflowing love for us, made perfect in the death and resurrection of his most beloved Son. In the most magnificent sacrifice the world has known, God granted suffering in order to save us.

With the peace of Christ upon our hearts, let us love our neighbors in their suffering. Let us flee from self-righteousness, and toward compassion, as our Lord has compassion upon us.


Worship leaders, you already know this, but you gotta stay on top of it…

The SpeechJamie Brown
micOver the last 20 years, as the prevailing model of worship leading has slowly but noticeably morphed from something very average looking/sounding, to something almost flawlessly airbrushed and polished, it has been harder and harder for worship leaders to stay true to what used to be the generally accepted rules of the game, as were concisely presented to me by my youth pastor in “the speech”. The principles of restraining our egos, refusing to promote ourselves, and resisting the pull of pride.


The Apology to the LGBT Community That Needs an ApologyTim Barnett
…this video fails to accomplish its intended goal. It’s an apology that itself needs to be apologized for. That is, in its attempt to apologize for the sins of the Church, it commits further sins that ultimately hurt those whom it’s trying to heal. So, in all sincerity, let me apologize for this failed apology…

I’m sorry for Christians who make same-sex intercourse out to be the greatest sin, and I’m sorry for Christians who deny that it is a sin. Both are wrong and hurt you…

I apologize for Christians who have given the impression that to love someone means you cannot also tell them what they are doing is wrong. If this were true, it would make God unloving.


This is a-MAZE-ing!
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Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.

Luke 8:9-15

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 8:9-15
And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Who gets to hear the explanation?
Why not the whole crowd? (v. 10)
I suggest you think some about what that verse means.
Is there something there for teachers today?
Are you the sower or the soil…or both?
What’s the lesson for the sower?
What’s the lesson(s) for the soil?
What would it take for rocky or thorny soil to become good soil?
Is that even possible?
Is that the responsibility of the soil, or the sower?
So then, you are the subject of this parable!
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (v. 8)


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

All Worship Is Contemporary

As I think about the above definition, it seems to me that all worship is contemporary worship. If it’s not happening in the present, it’s not happening. It might’ve happened in the past, and it might happen in the future.

But authentic worship occurs in real time. It’s a present action.

Yes, there is a sense in which our worship gatherings recall, and retell past events. But those past events are not the events of a mere generation or two ago.

Here’s the thing: Jesus is alive today, and will be alive forever into the future.

Jesus is contemporary.

In any generation.

So, when our churches use modern tools, language, and music in our worship, it’s not in an attempt to make Jesus relevant to the present. He’s already here. He’s already relevant without our help.

No, we use these things to try to keep up with Him.

He’s boldly going where no one has gone before.

Let’s try to keep up.

Lloyd

Thursday Picks ~ 2-2-2017

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

I’m sharing this in love…

Gongs and Cymbals -Manuel Luz
gongFor all my social media friends out there, I want to gently but firmly remind you of one truth. If you are a Christ-follower, your ultimate motive in everything you do should be love. If you are not posting or arguing with the ultimate intent to love those who you are arguing against, then you’re doing it wrong.

You’re just banging a gong. You’re just clanging a cymbal.

Please. You can certainly post your opinions, quote your statistics, cite your sources, eloquently argue your point. But please, make sure that your ultimate motivation is love. In your words, in your attitude, and in your heart. And if you can’t, then please don’t.

Thanks for listening.


Urgent vs. Important…

Missed It By That MuchSeth Godin
Image result for seth godinWhen everything is focused on the deadline, there’s little time to work on the things that are actually important.

When we build our lives around ‘what’s due’ we sacrifice our agency to the priorities and urgencies of everyone else.

More important is the bigger issue: Time is running out.


I thought this was interesting…

Who Is to Blame for the Greatest Myth in the History of Science and Religion? These Two GuysJustin Taylor
AD_White_1865John_William_DraperThe purpose of the war was to discredit clergymen as suitable figures to undertake scientific work in order that the new breed of professionals would have an opportunity to fill in the gap for such work created by eliminating the current men of science. It was thus tendentiously asserted that the religious convictions of clergymen disqualified them from pursuing their scientific inquiries objectively.

More to the point, however, was the fact that clergymen were undertaking this work for the sheer love of science and thus hindering the expectation that it would be done for money by paid full-time scientists. Clergymen were branded amateurs in order to facilitate the creation of a new category of professionals.


To Be a Diaper ChangerNick Batzig
Image result for changing diapersA “change the world” mentality often ironically serves as a catalyst for discontentment or undue guilt. The common failures and frustrations experienced in the mundane day-in and day-out aspects of life tend to leave those–who had hoped for more importance–jaded or callused as the years progress…

Such a mentality also has the adverse effect of inadvertently leading others to dismiss the importance of the work of the mother who faithfully changes her children’s diapers, drives them to sporting and music practices, takes them to the doctor, keeps up the organizational aspects of life at home and serves with her husband in many unnoticed capacities at church. It tells the man who humbly hangs a sign for a church plant each and every Friday night and takes it down every Sunday night that what he is doing is insignificant. It implicitly disrespects the man who gets up at 5:30 every morning and who comes home at 7:30 every night (and who then repeats that process 6 days a week for 25 years) from his job in a factory…

We must seek to become a “will of God doer” rather than a “world changer”–even if that means changing dirty diapers for the glory of God.

I might’ve needed a few more…
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Calvin and Hobbes – Click image for a larger view.

Luke 8:4-8

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 8:4-8
And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Do you think it’s possible that the crowd in v. 4 is more than just an audience for this parable?
Is it possible they’re the subject?
Notice that, when speaking to the crowd, Jesus offers no explanation for this parable.
I know it’s hard, but see if you can read this parable again.
Imagine you’re there.
It’s the first time you’ve heard it.
You get no explanation.
What was the story’s effect on you?
What did you discuss on the way home?
What is your take-away?
Is it possible you’re the subject of the parable?
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”


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

Luke 8:1-3

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 8:1-3
Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them[a] out of their means.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Can you picture this group of people?
What do you notice about it?
Consider the diversity.
There are the 12 guys: fishermen, tax collectors, zealots…
There are a bunch of women traveling around with the men.
How do you think that looked?
They were former demoniacs, prostitutes, the wife of the manager of the king’s household… (btw – Where was the husband?)
Do you think they all agreed politically?
Do you think they were all on the same economic level?
What did they have in common?
Now think about your relationships…
Could you be part of a group like that?
Why aren’t you?


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