Tag Archives: Discipleship

Tuesday Picks ~ 6-27-2017

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

Good explanation of an important recent SCOTUS decision…

Why a Church Playground Matters for Religious Liberty
Joe Carter
https://tgc-cache.s3.amazonaws.com/images/remote/http_s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-ee2/articles/playground-swing.jpgThe issue of whether a church playground can qualify for states grant to purchase rubberized surface material seems rather trivial. So why is the decision considered a significant victory for religious liberty? Here are three reasons why this ruling matters:

1. It upholds the First Amendment understanding of religious liberty…

2. It’s a win for equal participation of religion

3. It requires the state to treat religious people fairly


Perhaps you need this encouragement today…

Victory over Porn Is Closer Than You ThinkJimmy Needham
Is actual, extended freedom from besetting sin really attainable, or am I bound to this sin until death, like a leech on my soul? It might seem like a silly question to those who aren’t in the throes of addiction, but having been a porn addict for a decade, it was a question I desperately asked for years.

If you find yourself in this seemingly hopeless cycle, there is good news for you: victory, real and lasting victory, is possible…


What Your Kids Really Need is Your Authentic Christian Life Melissa Edgington
So, you see, I found out that what God has called me to is much higher than lesson planner. I do need to teach my children scripture. I need to give them sound doctrine. But, I can teach these things to my children, as the Bible says, when we sit at home, when we walk along the road, when we rise up and lie down. In other words, impressing the things of God on my children is an all-day, every day, life-long pursuit. It is more than a curriculum. It is a way of life.


Yeah, no. I think I would sort of say that I agree…

3 Phrases Smart People Should Stop SayingEric Geiger
I have listened to a lot of podcasts. Some sermons, some NPR, some HBR, and some random ones too. All really smart people, smarter and more articulate than I am.

Yet I have noticed some recurring phrases that make the intelligent people seem less so, that blunt the impact of their words and distract from the message. …here are three phrases smart people should stop saying…


Parenting transitions made easier…
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Zits – Click image for a larger view.

The Gospel: More Beautiful Than You Think – Intro

I’ve always been taught that the word “gospel” means “good news.” If that’s true, if what we Christians proclaim to the world is such good news, why is it that Christianity has developed such a negative public perception in today’s culture?

I’m sure there are many answers to this question, but I suggest that one contributing factor is that we Christians have done a poor job of communicating this good news.

Maybe that’s because we don’t even quite grasp how good this good news really is. We’ve bought into some popular notions about God and heaven that sound kind of right, but have really only served to dull the beauty of who God is and what He has done.

A survey by U.S. News & World Report in 1997 asked Americans who they thought was most likely to go to heaven.

65% said Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jackson were “very likely” to go to heaven when they die.

79% believed Mother Teresa would “very likely” make it.

But there was one person who had a higher percentage than even Mother Teresa. Can you guess who? That’s right. It was the person taking the survey.

Over 80% of the people taking the survey felt it was “very likely” that they would go to heaven.

Yes, I know this survey is 20 years old, but do you really think it’s changed much?

There are some very basic assumptions shared by many people, even many who claim to be Christians. These assumptions have become embedded in our minds. They sound right.

I’d like you to watch a short video clip. In August of 2004 a couple of my friends took a video camera down to Fountain Square in Cincinnati at lunch time to see how people would answer three questions…

Now, you should know that Cincinnati has a strong Roman Catholic heritage, and is a fairly conservative city in comparison to most U.S. cities of its size. Also, it’s hard for me to believe, but this video is 13 years old! If we were to make this video today I imagine the results would probably be fairly similar, except I think we would encounter more open hostility to Christians and Christian beliefs, even in conservative Cincinnati.

I suggest that one contributing factor to the hostility our culture has to Christian faith is our own misunderstanding and miscommunication of these very basic points.

In the video, you heard a variety of answers but three general trends can be detected:

God is tolerant.

He is the white-bearded grandfather in heaven.  He understands that nobody is perfect so he accepts people because they try hard and do their best.  Sure there are some folks that he could not accept, like maybe Adolph Hitler but if you are sincere and do your best he will accept you.

The other two go hand in hand with the first – it’s a package deal.  If you believe the first the other two tend to follow close behind…

People are basically good.

This is why God can be tolerant of our shortcomings.  This is why God loves us – because of our goodness.  Our imperfections really aren’t all that important because our basic goodness can outweigh whatever badness there might be.

People can and must earn God’s favor.

Since God is tolerant, and we are basically good, it is possible for us to earn God’s favor. In fact, if we want to go to heaven that’s what we must do.

We want to believe these things. Maybe you do believe them.

But, if you think about it, Christianity doesn’t really make any sense if these things are true. I mean, why would Jesus have to come and sacrifice His life for us if God will accept us because of our “goodness”?  If God is tolerant, why go to such great lengths to cleanse us from our sins?

In fact, I believe these seemingly good and right beliefs have undermined the church’s witness and have contributed to much of our culture’s rejection and animosity toward Christians and Christianity.

They make the “good news,” …well, not so good.

In the next few weeks I want to challenge each of these assumptions. To look at each one and compare it with what we read in scripture. This isn’t about proving people wrong. It’s about showing them how truly, and amazingly beautiful Christianity really is!

Stay tuned…

Lloyd

Monday Picks ~ 6-26-2017

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

The Church of CrossFitJulie Beck
A woman makes an intense face while doing a deadlift during a CrossFit workout.CrossFit is his favorite example of a trend he has noticed: how, in the midst of the decline of religious affiliation in America, and the rise of isolation and loneliness, many ostensibly non-religious communities are “functioning in ways that look a little bit religious,” he explained…

As institutional affiliation decreases, people have the same age-old desires for connection, relationships, connection to something bigger than themselves.”

…meditation groups, adult summer camps, fandoms, and even fitness communities at specialized gyms like CrossFit or SoulCycle are stepping in to fill some of those needs.


Loving the People You Love to HateJared C. Wilson
Here’s how you know if you hate something someone has done or if you actually hate that person, according to [C.S.] Lewis:

The real test is this. Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, “Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,” or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies as bad as possible?


The Climbing TreeManuel Luz
At the risk of sounding heretical, I think many Christians make too big a deal out of finding out God’s will. They pray about what job to take, or what vacation to go on, or how to handle a particular situation. And praying about these things are good and very necessary, really. But I think that our God cares more about who we are becoming in the process of doing, than in the doing itself.


Open carry…
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Bizarro

Weekend Picks ~ 6-23-2017

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

The Easy “Wisdom” of CynicismDerek Rishmawy
Image result for cynicism…default cynicism isn’t the same thing as biblical discernment. Discernment seeks out truth and falsehood. It sees as much as it sees through. Ironically enough, being too cynical can make you undiscerning, rendering false judgments, leaving you open being deceived, not positively, but negatively.

In other words, being “wise as a serpent”,  is a lot harder than thinking everybody’s a liar all the time.


The Unwritten Law That Helps Bad Cops Go Free
David French
http://c1.nrostatic.com/sites/default/files/styles/original_image_with_cropping/public/uploaded/philando-castile-shooting-police-must-display-reasonable-fear-b.jpg?itok=Qap7QuSvOfficers aren’t omniscient, and they can only react to the facts as they perceive them. Absent corruption, incompetence, or malice, most officers are going to make reasonable choices in high-stress situations.

Some, however, will fail, and it’s imperative that juries understand that not all fear is reasonable, and some officers simply (and wrongly) panic. Perhaps some have unreasonable fear because of racial stereotypes. Perhaps some have unreasonable fears for other reasons. Perhaps some have a brutal habit of escalating force too quickly. But every officer must uphold the rule of reason, a rule that compels a degree of courage, a measure of discipline, and a tolerance for risk that is inherent in the job that they’ve chosen.

The vast majority of officers are up to that challenge. A few are not. They must be held accountable. Justice demands no less.


I absolutely love this piece from Amy Medina…

Surprise! We Need to Learn from Christians from Other CulturesAmy Medina
It’s easy for us, as foreigners, to come to Tanzania and point out what they are doing wrong.  Those deficiencies pop up to us broadly and clearly.  But I wonder, what if a Tanzanian Christian came to the States and was given a voice in the white American Church?  What deficiencies would be glaringly obvious to him? …

The truth is that every culture–including every Christian culture–has blind spots.  We have our hierarchy of sins and our hierarchy of godliness, and we know we are right and no one can say otherwise.

But that is dangerous.

I think sometimes western Christians assume they have the trump-card on what Christian culture should look like….but why?  What if an African (or Asian, or South American) Christian holds to the authority and inerrancy of Scripture, uses solid principles of interpretation…and yet comes to different conclusions and applications?  Is it possible that they could be seeing things that we’ve missed because of our own culture’s influence?

This is why we were created to need each other.  And in a country as diverse as America, I wonder why it is so rare that white Christians grasp that truth.  Don’t we realize that we are missing out when we refuse to bring other cultures, other colors, other languages into our church conversations?  Don’t we realize that even in that refusal is a major blind spot that we will be held accountable for?


And now for something completely different…

The History of Pews Is Just as Terrible and Embarrassing as You’d ImagineLuke T. Harrington
https://christandpopculture.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/img_0110_small.jpeg…seating in churches didn’t really become a thing until parishioners got bored enough to wish they were sitting down—that is, about the time of the Protestant Reformation. In order to emphasize how not-Catholic we were, we began to jettison everything from our worship: confessions, creeds, communal prayer, a weekly Eucharist—basically everything except long, boring sermons. And when your “come to church” sales pitch is essentially “Listen to me yammer about Jesus for several hours!” the response is predictably going to be “Uh, can I at least sit down for that?”

And so, the pew was born…


Got your tickets yet?
https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/upcoming-summer-concerts2.jpg
Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.

Thursday Picks ~ 6-22-2017

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

I Am the Center of the UniverseJared C. Wilson
greg-rakozy-76863I can only come to one of two conclusions about my frustration over this inevitable fact of life: either I am the center of the universe and you all don’t know, or — I am not the center of the universe and I am upset that you all know.

I wake up this way. I bet you do too. We wake up in self-sovereignty mode. Then we get frustrated because we keep running into people who think they’re the center of the universe. It’s frustrating.


This is an absorbing and inspirational story…

How One Deep South Church Left Segregation Behind
Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra
https://tgc-cache.s3.amazonaws.com/images/remote/http_s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-ee2/articles/how-one-deep-south-church-left-segregation-behind-6.jpgElbert McGowan grew up five minutes from Trinity Presbyterian Church on the north side of Jackson, Mississippi. He passed by it daily. Never once did it cross his mind that one day he’d end up the pastor in that building. In fact, he never even considered entering the door.

That’s because the church was exclusively white, and McGowan is black…

One move, one church plant, and two pastors later, McGowan doesn’t just drive past anymore. He pulls open the church doors every day. He has an office and a desk with photos of his family. He runs the meetings; his kids run down the hallways.

And every week, he preaches to a congregation that’s one-third African American…

“What the Lord is doing in and through [this church] is nothing short of astonishing,” Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) chancellor Ligon Duncan wrote. “Only God could accomplish what has been done here.”


A Vision for AgingDarryl Dash
Flourishing old tree“The world’s ambition is to ‘stay young’; the Bible’s, to grow old fruitfully.”

When I was a student pastor, I met an aged pastor’s wife. Her late husband had been a legend in our circles. She was in her later years, and I was in my early twenties. After visiting her, I’d comment to Charlene that I thought she had a younger soul than I did.

Youth is more beauteous to the eye, says Charles Simeon, but age is more pleasant to the taste. That pleasantness is something to experience.


Coffee Evolution…
https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/large-coffee1.jpg
Wrong Hands

Tuesday Picks ~ 6-20-2017

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

Don’t Take for Granted the Fragile Blessing of Civility
Trevin Wax
LightstockA civilized society uses persuasion and argument to make a case and will not tolerate those who engage in violence toward opponents on the other side of the political aisle.

But what if we are at the precipice of losing this hallmark of civility?

Recent developments should trouble the heart of anyone who loves liberty…

I would be the last to compare our recent political violence with Nazi fascism or Communist tyranny.

But I mention these examples because they took place in advanced, civilized nations where such violence would have, at one time, been considered unthinkable. Citizens overlooked the small but growing number of signs that led to these disasters. For this reason, we must recognize the seriousness of this present moment.

…There is no room for partisanship on this question; it is every American’s patriotic duty to oppose any justification for violence against one’s political opponent.


Why Refusing to Resolve Conflict Hinders Prayer


In case you’ve heard something from someone who wasn’t in the room where in happened…

Southern Baptists and the Alt-Right: On Being in the Room Where it HappenedNathan Finn
Because I was there, I’ve been disappointed at some of the musings, pontifications, and even insinuations of those who weren’t there, including both secular media and armchair quarterbacks who were offering misinformed assessments. At no point and in no way was the resolutions committee being “soft” on the Alt-Right or other forms of white supremacy. At no point were Southern Baptists debating whether or not we ought to denounce these demonic impulses. At no point did Steve Gaines or anyone else force Southern Baptists to do something they didn’t want to do. At no point were Southern Baptists wringing their hands over how we would look in the media if we didn’t do something. At no point were we trying not to offend Trump voters—or any other voters, for that matter. None of that happened, and folks who suggest it did are either speaking out of ignorance or out of malicious intent, period.


Ripple Effect…
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Bizarro

Weekend Picks ~ 6-16-2017

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

This is big, isn’t it? …

A Resolution Condemning White Supremacy Causes Chaos at the Southern Baptist ConventionEmma Green
It affirmed that “there has arisen in the United States a growing menace to political order and justice that seeks to reignite social animosities, reverse improvements in race relations, divide our people, and foment hatred, classism, and ethnic cleansing.” It identified this “toxic menace” as white nationalism and the alt-right, and urged the denomination to oppose its “totalitarian impulses, xenophobic biases, and bigoted ideologies that infect the minds and actions of its violent disciples.” It claimed that the origin of white supremacy in Christian communities is a once-popular theory known as the “curse of Ham,” which taught that “God through Noah ordained descendants of Africa to be subservient to Anglos” and was used as justification for slavery and segregation. The resolution called on the denomination to denounce nationalism and “reject the retrograde ideologies, xenophobic biases, and racial bigotries of the so-called ‘alt-right’ that seek to subvert our government, destabilize society, and infect our political system.”


Twenty Relics of Church PastThom Rainer
The question I asked was basic: “What did you have or do in your church ten years ago that you don’t have or do today?”

The top twenty responses were, for me at least, a fascinating mix of the expected and the surprises. They are ranked in order of frequency…


This is excellent. It’s also harder and more important than it sounds…

Your Child Is Your NeighborJen Wilkin
If you asked me the single-most important insight that has shaped my parenting, it would be this: Children are people...

Recognizing my children as my neighbors has impacted the way I discipline them, the way I speak to them, the way I speak about them to others. It has required me to acknowledge how quick I am to treat those closest to me in ways I would never treat a friend or a co-worker. It has helped make my children objects of my compassion instead of my contempt. I am better able to celebrate their successes without taking credit for them, and to grieve their failures without seeing them as glaring evidence that I’m a terrible parent. Recognizing my children as my neighbors has freed me up to enjoy them as people rather than to resent them as laundry-generating, food-ingesting, mess-making, fit-throwing financial obligations.

Except for the days that it hasn’t. And on those days, I must be reminded again what Scripture teaches about loving my neighbor, confess that I haven’t loved my child that way, and begin again. And Scripture provides ample help. Here are just a few “unlikely” parenting verses that point me back to neighborliness on the days that don’t go as they should…


Carey uses a lot of this article examining our current culture and you will likely find yourself bemoaning its deterioration. Don’t stop there…

7 Ways To Live Out The Gospel in a Post-Truth, Post-Fact CultureCarey Nieuwhof
post-truthThe Gospel is perhaps the very best antidote we have to the current cultural turbulence…

The Gospel:

is anchored in the idea that truth (and even love) is objective and available to all.

calls us to die to ourselves so that others may live.

values all people.

calls us to confess, to repent, and to put something bigger than ourselves above ourselves.

If the church starts to mimic culture in this seismic shift we’re seeing, we will tear ourselves away from the very thing that will save us.


Assisted Miming for the Blind…
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Bizarro

 

A Father Who Sings

https://scontent-ort2-2.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/17904453_10210748649245135_3022210157647973630_n.jpg?oh=8f6df3a4b11e9dbc7088d2aee31da509&oe=59E765C0
Good Friday service at The Christian Village at Mount Healthy. April 14, 2017.

My dad can’t sing.

It’s true. He has one note. It’s not musically identifiable, but it’s low.

That never stopped him.

I remember hearing him “singing” in the shower in the mornings getting ready for work.

I remember sitting next to him in church and trying to sing a harmony part. It was hard.

But he still sang. He still sings.


When I was young I knew my parents loved me. If you had asked me I would have said so. The evidence was there. They provided for me. Sure, they punished me when I did wrong, but they always forgave me. They went to my band concerts. They put up with my immaturity. For these reasons and more, I knew they loved me.

But I discovered a whole new perspective on a parent’s love when I had my own kids. I began to understand how you can be so angry you can’t see straight, so hurt you feel like your heart has been ripped out, and so proud you could burst…all at the same time!

It was then that I began to appreciate the depth of my parents’ love for me.

Sadly, I realize that some reading this may not have had the same experience of a loving family. You may find what I’m about to tell you incomprehensible. But trust me, it’s true.

But honestly, even if you grew up with a loving family like mine, you may still find this difficult to swallow, but here goes…

How do you think God feels about you?

God feels about you the same way a good dad feels about his kid. Sometimes he’s mad at you. Sometimes his heart is ripped out by you. Sometimes he’s bursting with pride. Sometimes he feels all that simultaneously.

And sometimes he sings.

The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

This is a beautiful description of the way I know my dad felt about me. No, he couldn’t sing a lick, but that didn’t stop him.

And this is the way God feels about you.

In the last line of this verse is the word “exult.” This a good translation because the original word means dancing or leaping for joy.

That’s God when he thinks of you.

Can you imagine?

This idea may be foreign to you. Perhaps, like so many, you’ve come to think of God as caring more about rules and laws. When you imagine God seeing you, your feelings are more like what you feel when you see a cop in your rearview mirror.

Make no mistake, God does have a very specific way he expects us to live.

So did my dad. There were things I did, or maybe didn’t do, that I knew I would be punished for. I didn’t want to be punished so I avoided those things. Well, at least I didn’t want him to know about them.

As I matured, and grew to know my dad’s heart, I was motivated less by the punishment and more by the desire to please my dad and make him proud. I knew he “exulted over me” and I wanted to give him good reason to.

My dad lives in a nursing home now. He hasn’t punished me in decades. But I still find myself being guided by what I think would make him proud that I’m his son.

I live for his “singing.”

I will forever be grateful that he has given me an earthly example of how God feels about me.

Honestly, I don’t know if we can even talk about God having “feelings” in the same way we experience them, but this passage of scripture seems to indicate that he does.

Jonathan Edwards was a famous preacher in the early 1700s. He is most famous for his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Yes, it’s true that God hates sin and punishes the unrepentant.

But my Father’s Day prayer is that, through the grace of Jesus, you can grow to picture yourself not so much as a sinner in the hands of an angry God, but more as a child in the arms of a singing Father.

Lloyd

Tuesday Picks ~ 6-13-2017

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

What Would Aristides Say About Your Church?Eric Geiger
The world watched how early believers cared for one another, how they supported one another in challenging times, and how they longed to meet together. The world always takes notice when Christians love one another as Christ commanded. Unity is always attractive, and unity among God’s people piques the world’s curiosity.

Aristides, a 2nd century Greek philosopher, wrote an apology concerning what he had observed of Christians. What he observed is a beautiful picture of the early Christian church. From his findings we get a sense of why their community was attracting so much attention, both favor from a watching world and persecution from those who hated Christianity. Below are a few things he noted about the Christians with quotes from “The Apology of Aristides.”


The Moment that Changed Eric Liddell’s Life
Jordan Standridge
Eric was having to make an important decision; of course, no one was going to force him to speak or to have a public ministry. But I’m sure that Eric was counting the cost. Some people may say no big deal, but this was a huge deal. Especially for such an introvert.

This decision was going to affect the rest of his life…

This year, we celebrate 500 years of the Reformation. And looking back at the Reformation, I think we can all be overwhelmed. As we hear stories of Luther, Tyndale, and Lady Jane Grey, we see boldness in the face of entire nations, popes, and scores of cardinals and executioners, and we wonder whether we would ever be able to stay committed to Christ when we could possibly be burned or lose our heads. But most of us will probably never have to face that test. Most of us will simply be called to be faithful in the circles God has sovereignly placed us.

The question is will we be faithful to speak unashamedly of our love for Christ when He calls us to?


7 Things That Get Harder as Your Church Grows
Carey Nieuwhof

2 big takeaways for me…

1. The point of church is not for everyone to know everyone. The point is for everyone to be known.

2. If you’re not fine with others receiving the credit, you’ll eventually stunt the church’s growth to the level of your insecurity.


A politically incorrect Father’s Day guide to sex, masculinity and daughters…

Dad Meets the Sexual RevolutionWilliam McGurn
…most dads accept that part of the job is a willingness to be the unfashionable one; that is, to love enough to speak unpopular truths when the world cheats your children with fifty shades of grey. For all the complaints about “toxic masculinity,” genuine masculinity seems hard to come by. Surely the greater male dysfunction of our time is perpetual adolescence, and a culture that encourages the man-child.

So this Father’s Day, looking over the three greatest blessings in his life, this dad pines for the day when we might again speak honestly and openly about the profound differences between male and female sexuality, when the heart might be taken as seriously as the orgasm—and when young men pursing young women might even rediscover the marvelous possibilities of moonlit summer evenings.


The value of a drummer?
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Zits – Click image for a larger view.