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Luke 6:12-19

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 6:12-19
12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Have you ever spent a whole night in prayer?
If so, what did you pray about? What was on your mind?
Was it a crisis? Was it for forgiveness? Was it for healing?
Was it because you had a mission you wanted to accomplish for me?
What do you think Jesus prayed about on this night?
Think about all your prayers.
Do you generally pray for the same kinds of things?
Is it time to pray for something else? Something more?
Something bigger than yourself?


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

Deuteronomy 5:22-33

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.

Deuteronomy 5:22-33
22 “These words the Lord spoke to all your assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and he added no more. And he wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me. 23 And as soon as you heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes, and your elders. 24 And you said, ‘Behold, the Lord our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire. This day we have seen God speak with man, and man still live. 25 Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us. If we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, we shall die. 26 For who is there of all flesh, that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of fire as we have, and has still lived? 27 Go near and hear all that the Lord our God will say, and speak to us all that the Lord our God will speak to you, and we will hear and do it.’

28 “And the Lord heard your words, when you spoke to me. And the Lord said to me, ‘I have heard the words of this people, which they have spoken to you. They are right in all that they have spoken. 29 Oh that they had such a heart as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants[e] forever! 30 Go and say to them, “Return to your tents.” 31 But you, stand here by me, and I will tell you the whole commandment and the statutes and the rules that you shall teach them, that they may do them in the land that I am giving them to possess.’ 32 You shall be careful therefore to do as the Lord your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. 33 You shall walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
One question today: Do you have a heart that fears me? (v. 29)

Greatness Is Overrated

The following is written by my good friend Jeff Hill. I use the word “good” intentionally because I believe him to be the embodiment of what it means to be a truly good man.

-Lloyd

Few words are more validating or reassuring to someone than to be told they are “a good man” or “a good woman.”  This is especially true if the compliment comes from someone who really knows you well, like your spouse or children.

But is “good” good enough?

I’m not referring to our need for God’s grace, instead just reflecting as a human being, living a good life and trying to make a difference in the world.  Should I not be striving to be “great”?  Isn’t being great somehow preferable to just being good?  The words themselves tend to imply the comparison.  How can anybody be great unless they can be compared to others who are just good?

What are the common attributes of “great” people according to our cultural labels?  Who are the ones with the historical monuments?  Who gets the accolades that come from changing the course of history?  They are generally the ones who have a strong vision and a personality that attracts others, leading them confidently to victory.

But many of the examples of “great leaders” have some pretty glaring personal flaws.  Underneath their “greatness,” is a person who may not be a particularly “good man or woman” at all.

Good vs. Great may be a false comparison.

I’m not convinced being great entails an underlying goodness as a prerequisite.  Families are often neglected.  Lack of integrity and infidelities of many kind undermine the baseline definition of being “good” but it seems no impediment to being “great”.

My conclusions?

“Greatness” is over-rated!

It’s not the “great” people who change history, it’s the “good” ones.

Not to say we don’t need the great ones to lead and inspire, but it’s the good people who make us truly great.  It’s the “good” people who lead families, churches, and communities who will never get the big tombstones, monuments, or accolades but who make the GREATEST difference to us all.

“Well done GOOD and FAITHFUL servant…
Enter into the joy of the Lord.” –Matt 25:23 

-Jeff Hill

My Weekend Picks for 2-12-2016

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

The Creepy, Mysterious, & Interesting History of Valentine’s DayJustin Holcomb
The Creepy, Mysterious, & Interesting History of Valentine’s Day

“Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is a major staple of American culture. Few know much about its history, however…

Christians have always had to struggle with the tension between accommodating, resisting, or transforming the practices of the culture around them. Whereas a holiday like Halloween is still quite contentious among some Christians because of its history and the pagan symbolism tied up with its contemporary practice, Valentine’s Day today is almost completely disconnected from its pagan origins and has evolved into a completely different holiday. ”


I’ve always appreciated the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, and I think this sounds like a great idea…

Teaching about religion in a children’s museumKim Lawton
Kids visit the Sacred Journey's Exhibit. Photo courtesy of Religion & Ethics Newsweekly“The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the largest children’s museum in the world, may be a place for fun, but it has also addressed difficult subjects, including the Holocaust, segregation and AIDS. For the past few months, the museum has taken on yet another potentially controversial subject: world religions.

“We went into this expecting the worst might happen … and what we’ve experienced in many ways is the best,” Carron said.

“We wanted children to not only understand what they learn in Sunday school, but also know why the girl down the block dresses the way she does, why that boy in school was off for the holiday he was off for,” Carron said. “What people believe and how they practice what they believe influences what people do all over the world, and it influences the people in your neighborhood.”

Carron said the museum wanted “to talk about religion without telling people what they should believe or even that they should believe.”


Wisdom here from Francis Schaeffer…

FS“Anything that an individual Christian or Christian group does that fails to show the simultaneous balance of the holiness of God and the love of God presents to a watching world not a demonstration of the God who exists but a caricature of the God who exists.”


7 of the Biggest Misunderstandings Millennials have about My Baby Boomer GenerationRon Edmondson
Two People Having A Conversation“I get to spend a lot of time with Millennials in my work as a pastor. I have two sons who are Millennials. Frankly, I love the generation.

What is interesting to me when I talk to Millennials is some of the misunderstandings they have about my generation – specifically how my generation views their generation.

Recently a young Millennial asked for some of my time to talk through where he felt God was leading him. He was so apologetic for “taking my time”. What he didn’t understand was how much his conversation fueled me for everything else I had to do that day. I loved it. I’ve had similar experiences many times.

The encounter caused me to reflect on other misunderstandings I’ve observed from Millennials about my generation.”


Donald Trump goes to church and doesn’t like the message…

Donald Trump and a Tale of Two GospelsRachel Held Evans
Jesus de Laferrere from Flickr via Wylio“As it turns out, the kind of people Donald Trump and the Religious Right deem acceptable collateral damage in their quest for power—the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, the hated minorities—are the very people Jesus prioritized. His life and ministry started with them and his kingdom will ultimately be realized through them. The gospel isn’t about protecting power and privilege, but rather about surrendering them until God’s vision of justice is fulfilled….

But contrary to Trump’s prevailing worldview, this event had not in fact been orchestrated around him. The man had simply stepped into a big ole’ pile of actual gospel and immediately realized it contradicted everything he stands for.”


https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/simplified-city-map1.jpg
Source: Wrong Hands

My Picks for Monday 2-8-2016

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

Are Our Worship Experiences Missing The Point?
David Santistevan
Are Our
“To me, the word “experience” doesn’t do justice to our gatherings.

When I think of experience, I think of my family’s recent trip to Disney World. Man, that was an experience…

I’ll remember Disney. It was a unique family memory. But nothing about that experience will prepare me to live for Jesus and speak of Jesus and magnify Jesus in a dark world.

And that is what I feel our worship “experiences” are truly for. We gather not to have a memorable experience. We gather to be changed.”


Of note…

Wheaton, Larycia Hawkins agree to part waysLeigh Jones
Larycia Hawkins“Wheaton College and Larycia Hawkins, the political science professor who started a furor over theology and academic freedom after declaring on social media that Christians and Muslims serve the same God, announced tonight they are amicably parting ways.”


With a follow-up, except this one goes beyond this specific event and has good stuff to say about the nature of apologizing and forgiving…

A Conclusion and a BeginningAlan Jacobs
“What if, when a brother in Christ apologizes and asks for forgiveness, one were to grant that forgiveness — instead of immediately criticizing him for not having provided a fully adequate account of the reasons he went astray? What about that as a strategy? It has some advantages…”


Seth has a way of saying a lot in a few words…

Audience ParticipationSeth Godin
“The way we engage with the humans who make stuff directly influences what we receive.

Arms folded with a scowl on our face and skepticism on our minds… we get what we deserve.

It’s up to us. Just about everything is ultimately a singalong.”


You are what you read…
http://bizarro.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/bz-panel-02-05-16.jpg
Source: Bizarro

 

Do We Need Music?

music
This is a little excerpt from the welcome address given several years ago by Karl Paulnack of the Boston Conservatory. I recommend you read the whole thing. It is really very absorbing and inspiring. You can find it here.

 

“One of the first cultures to articulate how music really works were the ancient Greeks. And this is going to fascinate you: the Greeks said that music and astronomy were two sides of the same coin. Astronomy was seen as the study of relationships between observable, permanent, external objects, and music was seen as the study of relationships between invisible, internal, hidden objects. Music has a way of finding the big, invisible moving pieces inside our hearts and souls and helping us figure out the position of things inside us. Let me give you some examples of how this works.”

(The examples are very moving. You should read them.)

“From these two experiences, I have come to understand that music is not part of “arts and entertainment” as the newspaper section would have us believe. It’s not a luxury, a lavish thing that we fund from leftovers of our budgets, not a plaything or an amusement or a pass time. Music is a basic need of human survival. Music is one of the ways we make sense of our lives, one of the ways in which we express feelings when we have no words, a way for us to understand things with our hearts when we can’t with our minds.”

“You’re not here to become an entertainer, and you don’t have to sell yourself. The truth is you don’t have anything to sell; being a musician isn’t about dispensing a product, like selling used cars. I’m not an entertainer; I’m a lot closer to a paramedic, a firefighter, a rescue worker. You’re here to become a sort of therapist for the human soul, a spiritual version of a chiropractor, physical therapist, someone who works with our insides to see if they get things to line up, to see if we can come into harmony with ourselves and be healthy and happy and well.”

“Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, I expect you not only to master music; I expect you to save the planet.”