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Showing posts from October, 2011

Go And Sin No More...Starting RIGHT NOW!

This weekend we examined the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. Last week, I wrote about what it DOESN'T mean , and Saturday night I tried to talk about what it does mean (although I went much longer than I wanted to and skipped a part I didn't want to skip). You can listen to the sermon here. This morning I came across this blog that dovetails nicely with the idea of "Go and sin no more!" You can read the entire post here (there are some good illustrations as well as some helpful thoughts), but I've excerpted out some of the really good stuff below: ...I spend a fair amount of time talking to people who are simultaneously feeling convicted of their sins and yet not quite ready to give them up, either. Come to think of it, most of us probably fit into this category in one way or another, even if our sinful indulgences may outwardly appear to be "lesser" somehow than those of, say, a prostitute or a heroin addict. On the one hand, sinful

Who's Up For a Good Old Fashioned Stoning?

John 8:1-11 is the story of Jesus, the religious leaders, and the woman caught in adultery. This passage is often considered one of the more "controversial" passages in the New Testament. It's controversial because of the content of the story, as well as because of the questionable nature of it's place in the gospel of John. It's one of those passages about which the footnotes say, "The earliest and manuscripts and many other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53-8:11". I'm not going to go into detail regarding the textual controversy. If you want to learn more about it, here are some sources: This guy thinks Luke actually wrote the story. A scholarly approach which affirms the validity of the passage. A Christianity Today article that casts some doubt on the passage. (not reflective of my view...) The other aspect of controversy regarding this passage is the way it is often misinterpreted(some think the reason it wasn't inclu

Top Ten Venn Diagrams of All Time?

Platypus = Awesomeness. Keytar= Awesomeness. Platypus x Keytar = Infinity Awesomeness. from: Flowing Data

Is It Okay for God to Punish People for Sin?

I'm listening to an old sermon by Dr. Jim Grier (the most intelligent man I've ever known). He began by reading from Revelation 21:3: And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people." Then he said this: "the earth was created to be the dwelling place of God." You need to take just a minute and let that sink in. Think it through. Consider the ramifications. Immediately, I began to think about how this informs the way we think about so many things. It should affect our view of ecology, it should affect our view of sustainability, and it should affect our view of sin. Let me illustrate with a story. There was a man who constructed his dream house. He poured all his resources into the house, and in the end it was a beautiful creation. The house was designed perfectly for the man and his family. Then he went away on a journey. Before he left, he hired a care

How To Be the Perfect Parent

I don't think there is one "secret formula" for parenting. Every child is different and so every child should be parented differently. However, there are probably some good pieces of wisdom that every parent should consider. I found a list recently at the "Zen Habits" blog (I don't agree with everything I read there, but they do have good stuff about living more simply) . I would place varying degrees of importance on each of these items, but I do think all of them represent positive parenting practices : 1. Teach kids to be self-sufficient. 2. Teach older kids to help with the younger kids. 3. Teach them to solve problems. 4. Show them how to be passionate. 5. Play with them outside, and be active. 6. Don’t overschedule. 7. Don’t dote. 8. Dance. 9. Read with them, and read in front of them. 10. Be inquisitive. You can read the whole article here . So, what do you think? Which of these is the best idea? Are there any with which you disagree? Wh

He Is a Fool Who Knows Not How to Respond to Criticism

Marianne and I were talking today about how easy it is for a person who is “simple” (read about the wise, simple, fool, and mocker in Proverbs) to become a fool if influenced by the wrong people. While thinking about our discussion I sketched out this chart, and was reminded midway through of how often Proverbs stresses our response to correction. If you want to become wise, learn how to respond appropriately to correction.

All We Are Saying... Is Give Tim Tebow a Chance!

Tim Tebow started his fourth NFL game yesterday. He’s won two of the four starts. There are some NFL fans who would give an arm and a leg for a starting quarterback who wins 50% of his games (ahem: I’m looking at us, Lion’s fans). By any measurement, his game yesterday was dismal. He was bad in every aspect of the game. For 55 minutes, he very effectively kept his team from winning. But then, as the clock ran down, he put it together. He rallied his team, and in overtime, they were victorious. By the only measurement that matters, his game yesterday was 100% effective. As Herman Edwards said, “You play to win the game.” The opponent was bad, the game was certainly not pretty, the defense really deserves a lot of credit; but Denver got the win, and Tebow was their leader! Yet… I’ve never heard so many “experts” pile on a player for being “terrible”, than I have heard talking about Tebow last night and this morning. (Disclaimer: I AM a Broncos fan. I do want Tebow to succeed because I wa

The King Who Brings Freedom Deserves the Throne

(if you know nothing about Lord of the Rings, this post will likely not make any sense to you. Come back tomorrow. If you know a little about it, or have seen the movies, you’ll be okay.) The final movie of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy is The Return of the King. The movie has about four endings (more if you get the DVD with extras). One of the moments that feels like it is the end of the movie is the coronation of Aragorn as King of Gondor. After three movies of seeing him lead the Men of the West in countless battles and skirmishes, it’s almost a relief to see him finally receive his crown. Imagine, though, that the movie ended differently. How would you feel about the movie if after he led Rohan to victory at Helm’s Deep, and after he repulsed Sauron’s invading horde, and after he inspired the victory at the gates of Mordor; imagine if after all this, the people of Gondor just asked him to leave. “Thanks for the work, Aragorn. We’ve decided to just continue being ruled by the house

Resolving Conflict: Squashing Rumors 2

Previous Posts in This Series: 5 Ways to Let Go of a Grudge 3 Steps to Being a Peacemaker 5 Questions to Help Evaluate Yourself 6 Roadblocks That Shut Down Communication Squashing Rumors One thing I've learned over the past several years is that when someone comes to me and says, "I heard...", it almost always ends poorly. See, if they've heard a rumor about me (assuming it's false), I can tell them the truth; but that will only last until they go back to the original source of the rumor. Then, they find themselves in the awkward situation of having to believe one person and therefore decide the other is a liar. There is a better way. I've made it a personal policy to NOT answer those who ask me about rumors. I simply ask them to come back with the person from whom they heard this. That way, we can work together to find out where the truth lies, and no one gets stuck in the middle. (my assumption is that anyone who says something about m

Resolving Conflict: Squashing Rumors

We all hear rumors every day. Sometimes we think of them as gossip (which we sadly consider to be harmless), but often we hear a rumor and consider it to be at worst partly true. Previous Posts in This Series: 5 Ways to Let Go of a Grudge 3 Steps to Being a Peacemaker 5 Questions to Help Evaluate Yourself 6 Roadblocks That Shut Down Communication You already know this principle from Proverbs, but it bears repeating. The first person from whom you hear a story will rarely give you the full story. Almost always, you need to hear things from multiple perspectives if you are going to have a truly robust understanding of the truth. That said, what do you do when you hear a rumor which you KNOW is false? Unfortunately, we are often to cowardly to do anything in these situations, but can I suggest six steps you can take which will shut down the rumor quickly? Correct the error immediately Tell the truth to the person telling the rumor Determine the source of the rumor (where did

Resolving Conflict: 6 Roadblocks That Shut Down Communication

I spend a lot of time thinking about communication because I am, at my core, a communicator. Granted, there is a difference between interpersonal communication, lecture-type communication, and organizational communication; but I’ve kind of been letting all of them roll around in my mind. So i’ve been thinking alot about communication… And even though i’m in the “church business” (boy, does that sound wrong), I think communication is pretty much the same in most venues. whether you are in a “real business”, a partnership, a relationship, a marriage, a team, etc… some basic principles of communication apply to you. Previous Posts in This Series: 5 Ways to Let Go of a Grudge 3 Steps to Being a Peacemaker 5 Questions to Help Evaluate Yourself I’m starting with the assumption that good communication places significant responsibilities on both the sender and the receiver. If both aren’t working together, communication will never happen. but for now, i’m focusing on the sender. SIX R

Resolving Conflict: Five Questions to Help Evaluate Yourself

Perhaps I am overly optimistic, or have a “pie-in-the-sky” outlook when it comes to the degree of authority the Bible should have in our lives. However, I do believe the Bible should be the primary authority for all believers in matters of life and faith. Whatever we are doing or not doing, the Bible should be governing us. Previous Posts in This Series: 5 Ways to Let Go of a Grudge 3 Steps to Being a Peacemaker I realize this approach makes me appear a bit simple and naive, but in the words of someone, “it is what it is.” So… Here are five questions I think everyone should answer when attempting to resolve conflict or when discussing concerns they might have about someone or something (family, friends, job, church, etc.): Is this about Christ? Does the Bible speak clearly and specifically about this? Does a clear and specific Biblical principle apply to this? Do any Biblical passages or principles apply here? Do you believe you are acting in clear obedience to God on this iss

Resolving Conflict: 3 Steps To Being a Peacemaker

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a conflict between two other people? These situations are always awkward, especially when everyone is friends, and deep relationships are at stake. Previously in This Series: 5 Ways to Let Go of a Grudge 2 Samuel tells an interesting story from the life of David that provides us with three great principles to remember when you find yourself trying to help resolve conflict. David and his followers are on the run from Jerusalem. His son, Absalom, has led a rebellion and seized control of the capitol city. As they leave, they are approached by a man named Ziba who brings them many gifts of food, drinks, and animals. David knew that Ziba was the servant of Mephibosheth (a crippled descendant of Saul to whom David had shown great kindness). David asked Ziba where Mephibosheth was, and Ziba answered that his master had stayed in Jerusalem to welcome Absalom. After the rebellion was squelched, David returned to Jerusalem and

Resolving Conflict: 5 Ways to Let Go of a Grudge

Holding a grudge can destroy a person. But letting go of a grudge can seem impossible. In 2 Samuel 1, David learns that Saul has died in battle. This was the man who drove David away from his best friend, who tried to kill him on several occasions, whose mad pursuit forced David to live in the wilderness for years. However, upon learning of Saul’s death, David pens a tribute song extolling the greatness of the former king. In 2 Samuel 3, a war is raging between the house of David and the house of Saul. Abner, the general for Saul’s son realizes that the war is going to be won by David and so he decides to throw his loyalty behind David. However, rather than follow the example set by David (regarding Saul), David’s general, Joab, is unwilling to release his grudge against Abner (in the course of battle, Abner had killed Joab’s brother). He lures him into a meeting where he kills him. Within this story, we see Joab do some things that might remind us of ourselves: He thinks the wo

Understanding Spiritual Formation Conclusion: More You and Less of Me

(previous posts in this series) Understanding Spiritual Formation: Part One Understanding Spiritual Formation: Part Two Understanding Spiritual Formation: Part Three Understanding Spiritual Formation: Part Four Understanding Spiritual Formation: Part Five Understanding Spiritual Formation: Part Six Understanding Spiritual Formation: Part Seven One of my favorite bands is a group of guys I met at a musical festival several years ago. They gave me one of their CDs out of the back of their trailer as they rolled out of time. I probably play that CD more than any other CD I own. I don’t even know if they’re still together, but Telecast’s song “More of You” is always a powerful reminder to me of the secret of life. The words of the chorus are simple: More of You and less of me Jesus come and be a light in me Burn like the sun for the world to see Be glorified This is the secret of the fruitful life. The more Jesus shines through us, the more He will be glorified. The more Jesus is

Understanding Spiritual Formation 7: A Parable About Disciplines

Steve, Barry, and Ann had been friends since grade school. Their relationship was uniquely close even though they were all intensely competitive. So, when Ann suggested they all enter an upcoming 5K race together, it wasn’t long until the competitive juices kicked in and they began talking regularly about which of the three would be fastest or even win the race. Ann and Steve immediately began intensive training. They signed up with a personal trainer who helped them set up a daily regiment of exercise and running to prepare them for the race. Ann followed the trainer’s directions every day. As a result she could sense her preparedness growing as the race day approached. Steve worked even harder than Ann. He also followed the trainer’s directions, but inspired by how his workout made him feel, he went above and beyond the suggested exercise. His hard work evidenced itself as he lost weight, became more fit, and greatly increased the time he could run on the treadmill. Barry took

Understanding Spiritual Formation 6: Introduction to Spiritual Disciplines

(previous posts in this series) Understanding Spiritual Formation: Part One Understanding Spiritual Formation: Part Two Understanding Spiritual Formation: Part Three Understanding Spiritual Formation: Part Four Understanding Spiritual Formation: Part Five Spiritual disciplines are important. However, before i talk about them, let me say: the Christian life is not to be lived in solitude. it is to be lived in community. therefore, any individual activity must find its significance within the community, not simply as a "boost" for someone's "personal walk". Dallas Willard says about spiritual disciplines, "What is a discipline? A discipline is an activity within our power, something we can do, which brings us to a point where we can do what we at present cannot do by direct effort. Discipline is in fact a natural part of the structure of the human soul, and almost nothing of any significance in education, culture, or other attainments is achieved without it

Understanding Spiritual Formation 5: The Discipline of Community (continued)

As I continue with the theme of community as a spiritual discipline , here are some more thoughts to unpack this idea. (previous posts in this series) Understanding Spiritual Formation: Part One Understanding Spiritual Formation: Part Two Understanding Spiritual Formation: Part Three Understanding Spiritual Formation: Part Four Bonhoeffer writes: "one who wants more than what Christ has established does not want Christian brotherhood. He is looking for some extraordinary social experience which he has not found elsewherel he is bringing muddled and impure desires into Christian brotherhood. Just at this point Christian brotherhood i threatened most often at the very start by the greatest danger of being poisoned at its root, the danger of confusing Christian brotherhood with some wishful idea of religious fellowship." Community is more than touchy-feely togetherness, or a group of Christian men sitting at a pub discussing theology, or a group of young mom's crying toge

Understanding Spiritual Formation 4: The Discipline of Community

(previous posts in this series) Understanding Spiritual Formation: Part One Understanding Spiritual Formation: Part Two Understanding Spiritual Formation: Part Three Just before Jesus left his disciples, he promised that he would send another “counselor” to take his place. The Spirit he was sending was the same Spirit that had been in Him, the samd Spirit that had been enabling his earthly ministry. The Spirit would indwell Jesus’ followers, and continue his ministry in their lives, forming them to be like Jesus. Everyone who takes up the call to follow Jesus receives the Spirit. If you follow Jesus, you have the Spirit. Jesus’ Spirit is in you…forming you to be like Him. You need to open yourself to the formative work of the Spirit. Praying, meditating, reading the Bible, memorization, fasting, contemplation, and many other methods can open you to the Spirit. He works through all these activities to make you more like Christ. But Jesus was/is most interest

Understanding Spiritual Formation 3: Celebration as a Spiritual Discipline

(previously in this series) Understanding Spiritual Formation: Part One Understanding Spiritual Formation: Part Two S.D.Gaede writes in Belonging , "The Christian community derives its being from the fact that certain things are true. If they are not true, we have no reason for community." We gather weekly to celebrate those truths. A list of the truths we celebrate when we gather might include: grace, redemption, creation, re-creation, etc... In our celebrations we should be spiritually formed, because we leave as different people then when we arrived. We may be more convinced of those truths, we may be questioning the application of the truths, we may be anticipating our next gathering, we may feel more connected to the truths, we may have a greater sense of identification with the community because of the truths... What should these kinds of truth-oriented celebrations look like? In no particular order, I would suggest: They should be triumphant -- The greatest trut

Understanding Spiritual Formation 2: The Image of God

The term "spiritual formation" is not always understood. This is the second in a series of posts seeking to explain what I mean when I talk about "spiritual formation". (previously in this series) Understanding Spiritual Formation: Part One The concept "image of God" has had many different interpretations over the centuries. Some great, some horrific. I have at least two interpretations of that phrase which resonate with me. The first is that humanity was created to be God's representatives to creation . God's command to be the caretakers of the earth is a part of being image of God. We were created to be the co-regents of God. In the fall (Genesis 3), we see Eve allowing the serpent to misrepresent God; then with her response she also misrepresents Him. This activity is the first time we see a person acting out of concert with their identity as image bearers. The second is that the image of God consisted of both Adam and Eve . The gende

Understanding Spiritual Formation 1: The Work of the Trinity

The term "spiritual formation" is not always understood. This is the first in a series of posts seeking to explain what I mean when I talk about "spiritual formation". For me, the jumping off point of any discussion of spiritual formation begins with creation. According to Genesis 1, God spoke everything into being. According to John 1, God the Son was there. According to Colossians 1, God the Son was the actor in creation. Genesis 1:2 tells us that the Holy Spirit was hovering over creation. God the Father spoke God the Son acted God the Spirit enabled Jesus' baptism provides a similar picture. The Father speaks, the Son acts, and the Spirit is again hovering. John 3 tells us that the Son only speaks the words of the Father, because the Father has given him the Spirit without limit. God the Father spoke God the Son acted God the Spirit enabled The new creation (us) is not different. You can use whichever theological words you like (calling, election, pre

Spiritual Formation: Your Body as a Living Sacrifice

In his commentary on Romans, Leon Morris writes: "Does any other religion put such an emphasis on the body? The Christian view of the body as sacred and as the servant of the soul is unique among religions of the world, Judaism excepted. Certainly the Greeks of the first century stressed the importance of the soul and regarded the body lightly. We see something of the same attitude in modern times when the excuse is offered for someone who has sinned with his body: 'But his heart is in the right place!'" So it isn't "the thought that counts"? Nope. Your actions matter. What you do with your body "counts". The body is the concrete manifestation of our lives. It is our instrument for righteousness. Is it any wonder then, that the world's strongest attacks on our "Christianly thinking" (see 1 John 2:15-17) happens in the realm of our body use? Chrysostom said: "How is the body to become a sacrifice? Let the eye look on no ev

Manipulation is Not Leadership.

Proverbs says alot about flattery. One of my favorite proverbs reminds us that the wounds of a friend are preferable to the kisses of an enemy. Often people who don’t really have your best interest in mind will use flattery to manipulate you. I get frustrated with myself when I slip into manipulation by flattery mode. But flattery isn’t the only way we manipulate people. Some people are master manipulators. They spend their time evaluating a person, figure out that person’s “buttons”, and then press all the right ones to get what they desire from that person. Some people are “passive-aggressive” manipulators; they’ll bully a person by withdrawing and being silent. Is there anything wrong with manipulation? Many leadership “gurus” talk about the concept of “influence”, as being one of, if not the core competencies of leaders. One author says “leadership is influence - nothing more, nothing less”. I read another book recently that said, “to lead others, an individual or group must