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Showing posts from 2016

Unrequested Advice is Criticism, but Truthful Confrontation is Loving

I don't remember where I first heard it (a quick web search suggests it may date back as far as George Washington), but somewhere I picked up the idea that: Unasked for advice is heard as criticism. Even though I didn't ask for it, this was good advice. Who doesn't understand the pain of listening to someone give you unrequested (and sometimes unnecessary) advice. I remember a fellow once coming to "visit" with me only to leave an hour later having spent the entire time unpacking my many shortcomings. While some of his critiques may have been on target, our relationship and the setting certainly didn't merit such behavior. So I've really tried to take this idea to heart. I've worked hard to be someone who listens as people unpack their problems, but not to offer up my solutions unless asked for. Of course, the reverse of this is not true. I need to be careful to not ignore advice just because I didn't ask for it. In fact, Proverbs says:

Is It More Difficult To Wash Someone's Feet or To Let Them Wash Yours?

Read and contemplate John 13. Jesus washed the disciples feet. Image courtesy of christianpost.com When Peter protested, Jesus explained that unless Peter's feet were washed, he could have no part with Jesus. We understand Jesus was teaching that we are made clean through His sacrificial and substitutionary death. However, like Peter and the disciples feet, our feet get dirty. We step in the dirt of life. We need to regularly take time to clean our feet so that they match the rest of our clean self. But here is what I think might be the toughest part of this passage to swallow. We are supposed to wash each other's feet! Consider this: If footwashing is a metaphor for cleansing ourselves from the daily dirt (read:SIN) that accumulates, then washing each other's feet means I am not the one responsible for washing the dirt of my feet, you are! Which means, I have to let you. Typically, we prefer to handle our own dirt. We want to take care of our own sin

The Complete Beginner's Guide to Advent

"Advent" is defined as "the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event." The Christian church has entered into the season in which we celebrate the Advent of Jesus Christ. Many Christians have never celebrated Advent and are not even sure what it means. The following is a very brief introduction to Advent. It is written specifically for those who want to understand the basics of this season. The Meaning of Advent Christmas is a celebration of Christ's first arrival on earth. Advent reminds us that His first arrival was only a taste of what is yet to come. His second arrival will signal the fullness of time and the completion of His plan. All wrongs will be righted, death and sorrow will be banished and peace will rule the world. Advent is a time to recognize the darkness in which we still live, but to embrace the light that is breaking into our world and which will ultimately overtake and destroy the darkness. Decorating for Advent The advent wreat

16 Ideas to Make Your Life Better

I was reading this morning in Proverbs 16 and noticed several "better" expressions. Each of these short sayings suggests a counter-cultural idea which is a "better" way of living. So I did a quick search of the entire book and compiled this list from Proverbs of... The Better Life wisdom's profit is better than silver and gold. wisdom is better than jewels better to be poor and content than to act rich and come to ruin better to have just a little but respect God than to have much and endure the trouble of wealth better a salad eaten with those who love you  than a steak with with those who hate you better to make a little and be righteous than to earn much through injustice better to have little and share with the poor than to divide spoils with the proud whoever is slow to anger is better than the might whoever has self-control is better than a great conqueror better a grain of rice in a quiet house than a buffet in a house full of strife bet

Changing Your Relationship with the Bible

How do you approach a cadaver? Cadavers are that most useful, frightening, intriguing, disgusting, and beneficial tool of medical students everywhere. Doctors and scientists have been using cadavers for thousands of years to gain a better understanding of the human body and the way it functions. Doubtless, the use of cadavers has saved thousands (millions?) of lives over the years and has led to magnificent scientific, medical, and pharmaceutical advances. I don't profess to have ever handled a cadaver (I did have one disturbing experience in a funeral home after hours), and I certainly am no expert when it comes to anything scientific. However, let me "simplify" for the sake of brevity the usage of a typical cadaver. The point of using a cadaver is to be able to pick it apart. If you are exploring a cadaver you will spend enormous amounts of time surveying the body, examining the parts, isolating certain organs, comparing and contrasting different elements, cutti

10 Neat Tricks To Keep Your Bible Study Fresh

As we prepare to go through our 40 Days In The Word series, I sent out an email today which linked to an article about studying God’s Word. You can link to the article here. The author lists 25 different methods of studying the Bible. I found the list to be fun. Not every method is for every person, but every person will probably find 2–3 methods that work for them. Below are a couple of my favorites: Survey the Word Whether it be the whole of Scripture, an entire book in the Bible, or a given passage, capturing the big picture makes a deeper engagement of the Word more accessible and productive. Discuss the Word Discussions about meaning, interpretations, doctrinal substance, and sheer trivia can be a productive means of engaging the Word and driving it more deeply into our hearts. Hand-copy the Word Hand-copying the Word slows the brain down and synchronizes the mind with the meaning of a passage. Bible on one side. Journal on the other. Copying the word i

4 Ideas To Help You Create More Time In Your Week

People have many reasons for not joining a small group. Some are good reasons and some are not as good. "I don't have enough time" is a less-than-good reason. Consider these four time-creating ideas which will enable you to spend two hours a week in a LIFEgroup  (the two hours includes thirty minutes of drive time!) DVR two television shows for the next six weeks. At the end of the six weeks, you may decide you don't need to watch that show anymore, or you can find time on a weekend to binge catch-up. Wake up 30 minutes earlier four days a week. Organize your schedule to use that extra half hour each day to accomplish the tasks that keep you from being able to go to LIFEgroup. Skip a workout. Your spiritual muscles are as important (if not more) than your physical muscles. You may not work out for two hours, but factor in transportation, cool-down, and clean-up as well! Cut out (or just reduce) your social media use. The New York Times reports tha

The 2 Questions I Ask When I Vote

I wrote this on election day 8 years ago. Back then, these thoughts were slightly novel and most felt I was being a bit extreme. They seem a bit more relevant today (all but the "write in Rudd" part at least...). As you vote today, don't forget to "Write in Rudd"! Seriously. When I vote, I ask myself two questions to determine if I can give my vote to a candidate. 1. Will he/she vote the way I would on legislation? I don't really pay attention to the specifics of candidates plans. Those are most often empty campaign promises. What I am interested in is the foundational philosophy behind their plans, because that tells me how that person will vote when real live legislation is placed before them. If I don't think a candidate will vote the way I would, they don't get my vote. I do, on occasion vote for a candidate with whom I have a philosophical difference, if I determine the issue at stake is more of a preference issue than a moral i

Here's Why I'm Not Preaching A Sermon Series On The Election

We are now entering the time of year when churches all around America have special sermon series that focus on the impending election. Every four years, our country makes a big decision about leadership and some might wonder why our church isn’t talking more about that on Sundays. On October 9 we will be launching a new sermon series entitled 40 Days In The Word. This series has already been done by hundreds of churches around the country with extremely positive results. This series is an opportunity for us to create and improve our Bible study habits. Through Sunday’s sermons, small group interaction and daily journaling, everyone in our church will have the opportunity to learn God’s Word, love God’s Word and live God’s Word. I believe focusing on Scripture through the election season is the best approach a church can take. Rather than telling people how they should interpret current events, we’ll point them to the Bible and let God’s Word be their guide. One of th

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Sunday Morning

Is Sunday morning the most important morning of your week? Most of us would say it is because Sundays are our time to come together with God and His people. Yet, I am often guilty of approaching Sunday with far less intentionality than the most important day of the week deserves.  Today, I’d like to offer a few suggestions as to how you (and your family) can tweak your Sunday morning routine to make it the BEST day of the week! HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR SUNDAY MORNING Make your plans on Saturday night It’s easy to sleep in Sunday morning, crawl out of bed, debate which service to go to and then finally decide to just take the morning off. Have a brief discussion with your spouse/family on Saturday night. Decide which service you want to attend (think about what the rest of your day looks like) and then set your alarms accordingly. You’ll be glad you did. Spend a few minutes being quiet Some time during the morning, find a quiet place in your home and rela

God's Secret of Success

When he was named leader, Joshua was undoubtedly a bit hesitant. He wasn’t managing a bank or a fast-food restaurant. He wasn’t leading a sports franchise. He wasn’t taking over a family business. He wasn’t even becoming a CEO of a nationally known corporation. Instead, he was assuming leadership of a brand new nation encompassing millions of people who had no land, no formal government, and no clear direction other than a cloud they followed. Joshua was probably a bit fearful. He needed some direction. God wanted Joshua to be successful ( read to the end, “success” might not mean what you think it means ). He wanted Joshua to lead Israel appropriately. His instructions to Joshua were quite simple: Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. These were powerful words. Joshua took them to heart, and he was successful  ( read to th

I Don't Have All the Answers, But I Can See One of the Problems

*This was originally written in 2011 and while the data may be a little out of date, the principle is still true in 2016. I saw a commercial this morning in which Ed Schultz said something to the effect of, "I never imagined I'd see America like this. Wall Street is going through the roof and Main Street is footing the bill." This is not an uncommon statement these days, and it seems to get a lot of traction. But is it true? I decided to do a little research myself, and here's what I found. The top 10% of all wage earners in America currently pay about 70% of the taxes in America. I would imagine the "Wall Street Barons" probably fit into the top 10%, yet it would appear they are footing 70% of the bill for America. The top 1% of all wage earners in America currently pay about 35% of the taxes in America. To really understand what that means, think of it this way: The wealthiest 1% of Americans are not only paying their own way, each of them are

8 Requests You Can Pray For Your Church Every Week

Whether you are a pastor, a bathroom cleaner, a deacon, a youth leader, a worship leader, a camera operator, a cafe worker, a diaper changer, a small group leader, or just a bi-weekly pew sitter; you should be praying for your church. By spending a few minutes each week in prayer for your church, you are doing much more than offering requests to God. You are aligning your heart with God's heart because God's heart is for His church. You are prioritizing God's kingdom because God's kingdom is played out through His church. You are focusing your attention on the proclamation of the Gospel because the church is the vehicle God has ordained to spread His good news to all the world. You can pray many things for your church. Below are eight requests you can make on behalf of your local faith community. These are pulled directly from our church's   Sunday Prayer Prompter   which guides our   Prayer Crew   during their Sunday morning meetings. Pray that God w

20 Things I Could Have Said In Sunday's Sermon, But Didn't

These Are Literally My Sermon Leftovers What follows are several copy/pasted excerpts from my studies for last Sunday's sermon. Of course, they are a little out of context and some are more devotional than exegetical. However, they might be interesting to some. I struggled this week with whether or not to address the issue of racial reconciliation. It's not obviously tied to this passage, but I think Jesus' heart for the excluded and the oppressed naturally leads to that discussion. At the end of the day, I felt it more important to make a clear gospel presentation which meant some of my thoughts on racism, #blacklivesmatter, and inclusiveness ended up on the cutting room floor. I'm sure they'll resurface down the road. MARK 10:13-16 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hind