Tag Archives: Discipleship

Weekend Picks ~ 6-30-2017

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

The Case for ‘Christian’ ArtSteve Turner
https://storage.googleapis.com/relevant-magazine/2017/06/Hero-64.jpgNo one ever told me that it would be wrong for a Christian to become an actor or a songwriter, a novelist or a dancer. It was implied…

But because art is also a record and reflects the questions and anxieties of the time, I would like to see contributions that reflect a Christian understanding of that time. I also would like to see them in the mainstream arts rather than in the religious subculture.

I am not saying this for evangelistic reasons. I don’t expect art to convert people, although I realize that art plays an important part in shaping our understanding of the world. I am saying it because debates are taking place in cinema, painting, dance, fiction, poetry and theater on issues where Christians have something to say, and yet they are not even being heard.

I think we should be in those debates as part of our mandate to look after and care for the world rather than because of the command to make disciples. We are not entering the debates to tell people what to believe. Art tends to show rather than to tell. It allows people the opportunity to experience another way of seeing the world. But if we are not there, people are denied the opportunity of encountering our perspective.


Finally, Jackie Robinson’s Faith Is Getting the Attention It DeservesPaul Putz
Finally, Jackie Robinson’s Faith Is Getting the Attention It DeservesTwo books shine a long-overdue spotlight on the Christian convictions of the man who broke baseball’s color barrier…

…There is a God-shaped hole in the heart of 42, the 2013 film that depicts the inspiring story of Jackie Robinson. Observers noticed it at the time, pointing out that the film mostly ignored the role that faith played in Robinson’s life and in Branch Rickey’s decision to sign him to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947…

From Long and Lamb’s book, Robinson emerges as a committed and thoughtful mainline Protestant comfortable within black and white Christian communities. Well versed in the Bible and connected to Protestant institutions throughout his life, Robinson saw faith as a source of inspiration, hope, and American identity. He grew up with a personal moral code taught by most white and black Protestants in the early 20th century—no smoking, no drinking, no premarital sex. But he was also shaped by the social witness distinct to the black church, believing that Christians had a responsibility to combat racism in American society, that anti-racism was a mark of true Christianity, and that many white Christians were failing to practice what they preached. As for June Fifield’s concern that Robinson recognize the help of Branch Rickey, she need not have worried. “When I came to believe that God was working with and guiding Mr. Rickey,” Robinson wrote, “I began to also believe that he was guiding me.”


Creating DiscomfortSeth Godin
http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/images/og.jpgIf you’re seeking to create positive change in your community, it’s almost certain you’ll be creating discomfort as well.

Want to upgrade the local playground? It sounds like it will be universally embraced by parents and everyone who cares about kids. Except that you now bring up issues of money, of how much is enough, of safety. Change is uncomfortable.

It’s way easier to talk about today’s weather, or what you had for lunch.

Usually, when we’re ready to launch something, we say, “this is going to help people, this is well crafted, I’m proud of it.”

What’s a lot more difficult (but useful) is to say all of that plus, “and this is going to make (some) people uncomfortable.”


I Hope I Die Before I Get OldJared C. Wilson
cristian-newman-67308What makes Richard different from these old coots who go out shaking their fist at the things of grace? Well, God. But also: Richard decided to die before he got old. He decided to die before he died. May we all do the same.


I think I’m more like Hobbes, how about you?
Calvin and Hobbes – Click image for a larger view.

Thursday Picks ~ 6-29-2017

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

We adults need to remember this as well…

Teach Children the Bible Is Not About Them
Sally Lloyd-Jones
When we drill a Bible story down into a mere moral lesson, we make it all about us. But the Bible isn’t mainly about us and what we are supposed to be doing; it’s about God and what he has done! When we tie up the story in a nice, neat, little package, and give simplistic answers all the difficult questions, we leave little room for mystery. Or discovery. We leave little room for the child. Little room for God.

When we say, “Now what that story is all about is . . . ” or “The point of that story is . . . ” we may, in fact, be totally missing the point. The power of a story isn’t in summing it up, or drilling it down, reducing it into an abstract idea, or changing it into something else.

Because the power of the story isn’t in the lesson. The power of the story, under God, by his Spirit, is in the story itself and what he does in us through it.


Why I Need My Friends to Judge MeScott Slayton
“Where you are always loved and never judged” sounds good to us because we think that the people who love us would never judge us. Judging is something only hypocritical people do and we don’t like being friends with hypocrites. After all, people who judge others are the ones that Jesus had the harshest words for…

…Notice that Jesus does not say, “well, you have a plank, so ignore his speck.” Instead, Jesus says to get the log out of our eye and then we can see clearly to help our brother with the speck in his eye. In other words, when you see moral fault in your brother, repent of your own sin, and then help him with his…

…The last thing Christians need is to be left alone in their sins. We are not doing other brothers and sisters a favor when we ignore their obvious sins and call it “love.” If sin is my worst enemy and you leave me to be oblivious to it or to battle it alone, you don’t love me.


3 True Obstacles to RestMichael Kelley
So today, friends, I’m resting. But that doesn’t mean I’m not at work. It doesn’t mean I’m not physically tired. It doesn’t mean I’m going to have a day of leisure. It means instead that I am going to speak to my soul and say the same words that Jesus offered time and time again: “Peace to you.” He offered that greeting then and now for the same reason – that He is risen. And because He has risen, it is finished.


Or, maybe “groan”…
Off the Mark

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


Go here for part 2.

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…
https://safr.kingfeatures.com/idn/cnfeed/zone/js/content.php?file=aHR0cDovL3NhZnIua2luZ2ZlYXR1cmVzLmNvbS9CaXphcnJvLzIwMTcvMDYvQml6YXJyb19wLjIwMTcwNjI2XzYxNi5naWY=
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