All posts by Lloyd Hamilton

Weekend Picks ~ 10-13-2017

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

Why Can’t We Disagree Well? Reflections on Colin Kaepernick, VP Mike Pence, and Listening WellEd Stetzer
Why Can't We Disagree Well? Reflections on Colin Kaepernick, VP Mike Pence, and Listening Well…what has become clear in the past month—and what was driven home in Sunday’s antics by leaders who should know better—is that debate over these protests has spiraled away from Kaepernick’s objective. Those who point out that the protest has forced us to talk about injustice don’t realize that we’ve been hijacked by discussions of patriotism.

My disappointment with the protests has nothing to do with their content—a message we so need. Instead, I am saddened that they were so easily lent to this kind of co-option.

On this point I agree with President Obama, who recognized the cultural import of the anthem and flag:

I want Mr. Kaepernick and others who are on a knee, I want them to listen to the pain that that may cause somebody who, for example, had a spouse or a child who was killed in combat and why it hurts them to see somebody not standing. But I also want people to think about the pain he may be expressing about somebody who’s lost a loved one that they think was unfairly shot.

Indeed, listening is key…

Unfortunately, people frequently boil down disagreement to: you have to agree with me or you are [blank]. Each community fills in that blank with whatever pejorative term applies: racist, unamerican, ignorant, bigoted, elitist, etc. There are times when these viewpoints do get voiced and need to be called out as such. But often, it is not the content of the disagreement that provokes these responses, but the disagreement itself.


And on a related note…

Seeking SonderSeth Godin
http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/images/og.jpg
Sonder is defined as that moment when you realize that everyone around you has an internal life as rich and as conflicted as yours.

That everyone has a noise in their head.

That everyone thinks that they are right, and that they have suffered affronts and disrespect at the hands of others.

That everyone is afraid. And that everyone realizes that they are also lucky.

That everyone has an impulse to make things better, to connect and to contribute.

That everyone wants something that they can’t possibly have. And if they could have it, they’d discover that they didn’t really want it all along.

That everyone is lonely, insecure and a bit of a fraud. And that everyone cares about something.

Sonder might happen to you. When it does, it will help you see the world in a whole new way. Because, if you let it, the feeling can persist. A feeling that can allow you to see others the way you’d like to be seen.


6 Reasons Pastors and Church Leaders Must be More Courageous TodayThom Rainer
courage courageousThough there have certainly been more difficult times in the course of Church history for pastors, leading a church today is much tougher than it was 20 and 30 years ago. There have been some demographic and cultural shifts that reflect this reality. But some of the challenges can only be understood in the context of spiritual warfare.

So, what are some of the specific reasons pastors and church leaders must be more courageous today? Though my list is far from exhaustive, allow me to name six of the key factors…

Church members: may I encourage you, even exhort you, to pray that your pastors and church leaders will have the courage they need to lead God’s churches?


Every single day…

3 Things to Say to Your Kids Every DayArt Rainer
As parents, the words we say to our kids can make a significant difference in their lives, both in the present and future. I am nowhere near the perfect parent. Many of my days end with parenting regrets, things that I know I could have done better or differently.

But there is something that I don’t regret. Every morning and every night I tell my kids three things…


I love this insight into what happened with Jacob & Esau… and us…

Something Better Than the LandCourtney Reissig
Something Better Than the Land
God gave Esau the land, but sent Jacob down to Egypt. Jacob was part of God’s chosen people. Jacob was the one God picked. Jacob was the one God used to grow his people. Jacob was the one who blessed the nations through his family line. But instead of the land, he went down to Egypt. And we all know what happened there.

Esau got his land right then, Jacob never got it in his lifetime. At first glance, it can seem like Esau is the favored one, the blessed one. It looks like he wins. He isn’t sent into slavery. He doesn’t wander in the desert. He doesn’t face enemies on every side (as far as we know). He gets the land immediately. He gets his best life now.


Collective nouns…
https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/collective-nouns.jpg
Wrong Hands

 

Psalm 46

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.

The book of Psalms is commonly thought of as a collection of the worship music of the Israelites. They were meant to be sung. These are worship songs that God appreciated enough to make sure they were preserved for us. Let’s see if we can find out why…

Psalm 46
God is our refuge and strength,

    a very present[b] help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
    though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble at its swelling.   Selah

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
    God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
    he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.   Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
    how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.   Selah

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Read vs. 1-3 and consider the recent news of hurricanes and fires.
Do those things make you afraid?
What does make you afraid?
Why? (remember who is asking)
Where is the “City of God”? (v. 4)
Are you a citizen there?
So, why be afraid? What is there to fear?
Don’t be afraid, be still.
Be still and know.
I’m God.
I’ve got this.


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

Thursday Picks ~ 10-12-2017

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

Do Christians Have to Care About Everything?Aaron Earls
Should Christians care about everything?
Is it your job to do something about everything? No, it’s not, but it is your’s and my job. Let me explain.

The first thing the cause-oriented millennial or burdened baby boomer needs to hear is, “You’re not Christ. You’re part of His body. And there is a difference.”

Yes, we are to follow Christ who will one day bring justice to every unjust situation, but we are not Him. He’s called us to follow Him and work to bring justice in this world now, but you cannot accomplish as an individual what God has tasked to the entire church.


If you didn’t want to read the whole thing you could skip the intro and scroll down to his six scenarios…

When To Panic and When NOT to Panic When People Leave Your ChurchCarey Nieuwhof
Deep down, it hurt so much every time someone left. I felt like I had let them down, like I let the church down, like I had failed…

 

I realize some of this is irrational and much of it might be unhealthy, but it hurts when someone goes.

However, if you let it fester, you’ll begin to live in fear all the time.

In fact, you can end up with people-pleasing as your main goal. You will lead in a way that you hope is going to prevent the greatest number of people from leaving.

That’s a terrible strategy…

Here are six scenarios that can happen when someone walks out the door…


Trevin makes some important and challenging point here…

Welcome Everyone, Affirm No One Trevin Wax
LightstockSome Christians believe it would be good to remove unnecessary offense by downplaying human sinfulness, but such a move severs the root of what makes grace so powerful. It is precisely because we’re bad, not good, that God’s love in sending His Son to die for our sins is so significant.

The trouble is, grace is unimaginable in a world where everyone believes grace is deserved. And when grace is transformed into entitlement, the definitions change, for both those inside and outside the church.

In a culture that thrives on self-affirmation and self-determination, “showing grace” now means accepting someone else’s definition of their own righteousness. Our age of expressive individualism leads us to find meaning in the identities we’ve constructed for ourselves, and then to expect (no, demand!) that others affirm our self-construction and give us their blessing…

Where does this leave the church? We welcome everyone and affirm no one.

That’s right. We don’t even affirm ourselves. The last thing we need is a club of self-righteous people who pat themselves on the back for meeting their own standards of righteousness.


Only one thing holds them back… 
Non Sequitur – Click image for a larger view

Psalm 45

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.

The book of Psalms is commonly thought of as a collection of the worship music of the Israelites. They were meant to be sung. These are worship songs that God appreciated enough to make sure they were preserved for us. Let’s see if we can find out why…

Psalm 45
My heart overflows with a pleasing theme;

    I address my verses to the king;
    my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.

You are the most handsome of the sons of men;
    grace is poured upon your lips;
    therefore God has blessed you forever.
Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one,
    in your splendor and majesty!

In your majesty ride out victoriously
    for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
    let your right hand teach you awesome deeds!
Your arrows are sharp
    in the heart of the king’s enemies;
    the peoples fall under you.

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.
    The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;
    you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
    with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;
    your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.
From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad;
    daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor;
    at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.

10 Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear:
    forget your people and your father’s house,
11     and the king will desire your beauty.
Since he is your lord, bow to him.
12     The people[b] of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts,
    the richest of the people.[c]

13 All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold.
14     In many-colored robes she is led to the king,
    with her virgin companions following behind her.
15 With joy and gladness they are led along
    as they enter the palace of the king.

16 In place of your fathers shall be your sons;
    you will make them princes in all the earth.
17 I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations;
    therefore nations will praise you forever and ever.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Think about verse 16 today.
Tell me about some people of your father’s and grandfather’s generations who helped you get to know me.
Name them.
What did they do with you?
Why did you think they influenced you?
They prepared you to replace them, didn’t they?
Now:
Tell me about some people of your children’s and grandchildren’s generations whom you are helping to get to know me.
Name them.
What are you doing with them?
Why do you think you may influence them?
Are you preparing them to replace you?
Are you willing to invest in the next generation of believers?
If not you, who?


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

Psalm 44:9-26

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.

The book of Psalms is commonly thought of as a collection of the worship music of the Israelites. They were meant to be sung. These are worship songs that God appreciated enough to make sure they were preserved for us. Let’s see if we can find out why…

Psalm 44:9-26
But you have rejected us and disgraced us

    and have not gone out with our armies.
10 You have made us turn back from the foe,
    and those who hate us have gotten spoil.
11 You have made us like sheep for slaughter
    and have scattered us among the nations.
12 You have sold your people for a trifle,
    demanding no high price for them.
13 You have made us the taunt of our neighbors,
    the derision and scorn of those around us.
14 You have made us a byword among the nations,
    a laughingstock[a] among the peoples.
15 All day long my disgrace is before me,
    and shame has covered my face
16 at the sound of the taunter and reviler,
    at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.

17 All this has come upon us,
    though we have not forgotten you,
    and we have not been false to your covenant.
18 Our heart has not turned back,
    nor have our steps departed from your way;
19 yet you have broken us in the place of jackals
    and covered us with the shadow of death.
20 If we had forgotten the name of our God
    or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
21 would not God discover this?
    For he knows the secrets of the heart.
22 Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.

23 Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?
    Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
24 Why do you hide your face?
    Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
    our belly clings to the ground.
26 Rise up; come to our help!
    Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Can you imagine singing this song in a worship service?
Why? Why not?
Do you ever feel this way?
Then, can you name a better place to express it?
Remember, these songs are here because I let them in.
What does that tell you about me?
Do you think being honest with me offends me?
What does that tell you about you?
What kind of a God do you think I am?


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

Tuesday Picks ~ 10-10-2017

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

This made the rounds a few weeks ago. I share it again in case you missed it, or just decided to skip it. Don’t. It’s important…

Seek First to Understand: Can Public Discourse Be Saved?
Glenn Packiam
https://mysteryoffaithblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/img_0068.jpgWe don’t understand each other.

And I’m not sure how hard we’re trying.

This is not a post about athletes or anthems, flags or protests. *Take a deep breath.* This is about how we talk— or more accurately— how we listen to one another.

Years ago, Stephen Covey wrote in his ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, we should ‘seek first to understand, and then to be understood’. So in the effort to aid our understanding of one another, I’d like to offer some thoughts on how controversial and heated topics can become a pathway into empathy, and lead to better public discourse. I want to reflect for a moment on emotions, symbols, and language


My church has been transitioning from “Menu” to “Map” for a while now. The consumers haven’t made it easy…

Menus Create Church ConsumersEric Geiger
Church consumers treat their local churches like a country club; they have paid their fees and deserve a certain level of service in return. They threaten to join another club if things are not to their liking. Church consumers are not motivated by the mission but by themselves. Church consumers gather to evaluate, not to worship…

A menu approach to ministry is similar to a restaurant. People are offered long lists of programs and activities. Often new ones are added to appease someone who wants something new on the menu…

A map approach to ministry is very different. Church leaders want to take people somewhere—toward maturity in Christ—and they provide a process to grow. They articulate a clear direction and they invite people on the adventure….


A good reminder for those who prepare to preach each week…

After a Man Travels to The Furthest Reaches of the Known World He Had This to SayMike Leake
Stairs Beneath the Canopy 2 by Geoff Box on 500px.comJudson was one of the early missionaries. He was the first Caucasian missionary who was a Protestant to travel to Burma to share the gospel. He had been there for some 30 years and came back to his sending church…

I’m glad that they now have the message that a man traveling to the farthest away point in the world had nothing better to tell them than the wondrous story of the dying love of Jesus!

Isn’t this true of us as well? And isn’t this a sobering reminder for us preacher to focus all of our illustrations and preaching on this one great aim—exalting Jesus!


Know your bees…
https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/bee-identification.jpg
Wrong Hands

Psalm 44:1-8

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.

The book of Psalms is commonly thought of as a collection of the worship music of the Israelites. They were meant to be sung. These are worship songs that God appreciated enough to make sure they were preserved for us. Let’s see if we can find out why…

Psalm 44:1-8
O God, we have heard with our ears,

    our fathers have told us,
what deeds you performed in their days,
    in the days of old:
you with your own hand drove out the nations,
    but them you planted;
you afflicted the peoples,
    but them you set free;
for not by their own sword did they win the land,
    nor did their own arm save them,
but your right hand and your arm,
    and the light of your face,
    for you delighted in them.

You are my King, O God;
    ordain salvation for Jacob!
Through you we push down our foes;
    through your name we tread down those who rise up against us.
For not in my bow do I trust,
    nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes
    and have put to shame those who hate us.
In God we have boasted continually,
    and we will give thanks to your name forever.    Selah

From this passage I hear God asking me:
What have your parents and grandparents told you about me?
What did I do for them?
What are you telling your children and grandchildren about me?
What have I done for you?
What am I doing for you?
Personalize verse 6 by filling in the blanks for yourself:

“For not in my _________ do I trust,
    nor can my _________ save me.”


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

Monday Picks ~ 10-9-2017

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

One Uncomfortable Implication of Praying for God’s Will to be DoneMichael Kelley
“When we pray for God’s will to be done, we are implicitly stating that our will should not be done. We are giving over our plans, our dreams, and our aspirations to the will of God. We are, in a sense, dying. Submission to God’s will requires this of us.”


Do you think we’ll ever completely understand the intricacies of God’s creation? Not in this life…

Scientists Somehow Just Discovered a New System of Vessels in Our BrainsJames Hamblin
A transparent model of the brain with a network of vessels filled inYou are now among the first people to see the brain’s lymphatic system. The vessels in the photo above transport fluid that is likely crucial to metabolic and inflammatory processes. Until now, no one knew for sure that they existed.

Doctors practicing today have been taught that there are no lymphatic vessels inside the skull. Those deep-purple vessels were seen for the first time in images published this week by researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.


Noteworthy for pastors…

Atheists Again Get Pastors’ Best Benefit Ruled UnconstitutionalJeremy Weber
Atheists Again Get Pastors’ Best Benefit Ruled UnconstitutionalOnce again, a federal judge has declared that the longstanding clergy housing allowance violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment.


Maybe you need to read this today…

God Is Not Ashamed of YouDan DeWitt
Christian, God is not ashamed of you. You may very well be ashamed of you. God isn’t.

This truth is presented in the book of Hebrews twice. It’s repetition is driving home a point that our hearts desperately long to hear but often avoid. We shrink back from it because we know ourselves too well. God must be ashamed of us. We would be if we were him.

But he isn’t. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And he’s not ashamed of us. He doesn’t regret us. He doesn’t wish he didn’t save us. Hebrews give two reasons for this…


I hate sentences that begin with “at your age”…
https://safr.kingfeatures.com/idn/cnfeed/zone/js/content.php?file=aHR0cDovL3NhZnIua2luZ2ZlYXR1cmVzLmNvbS9CaXphcnJvLzIwMTcvMTAvQml6YXJyb19wLjIwMTcxMDA0XzYxNi5naWY=
Bizarro

Psalm 43

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.

The book of Psalms is commonly thought of as a collection of the worship music of the Israelites. They were meant to be sung. These are worship songs that God appreciated enough to make sure they were preserved for us. Let’s see if we can find out why…

Psalm 43
Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause

    against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
    deliver me!
For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
    why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?

Send out your light and your truth;
    let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
    and to your dwelling!
Then I will go to the altar of God,
    to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
    O God, my God.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Do you want me to send out my light and truth to lead you? (v.3)
Are you sure?
If I send out my light and truth, would it vindicate you? (v.1)
If I send my light and truth to lead, will you follow?
What if I’ve already sent it?


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

Give It To Jesus

http://millersportcc.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Boy-with-5-loaves-and-2-fish-608x456.jpg

“…this little boy with five barley loaves and two fish did the one thing that the disciples never in their infinite wisdom thought to do.
In all their strategy and their frustration about their own inability
to affect any sort of change in their situation,
they neglected to do what was implicit to this little boy:
they never once thought to give what they had to Jesus.”

Michael Kelly