Considering Glory

Taking time to consider God's working

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MiniBlog: Bad Sabbath Teaching

Full disclosure: I am terrible at honoring the sabbath, but I think I know why. 

Have you ever heard or read something by a Christian that said, take your Sabbath and do what you want to do. If you want to watch a movie, play video games, or whatever it is that makes you happy, do that. And don’t feel guilty. 

Here’s why that’s not Biblical, restful, or effective:

“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭58:13-14 ESV (italics added for emphasis)
Bottom line? Seeking our pleasure does not get us delight. So much of Christian teaching on the Sabbath lends itself toward giving yourself a free pass on being selfish. Let me tell you, God did not design us to feel rested from being selfish. We are not fulfilled when seeking our own pleasure. This teaching completely misses the point. 

I believe this has been an overreaction to legalistic teaching on the Sabbath. There used to be, and still is, much lunacy regarding rules and regulations on the Sabbath. 

Here’s my suggestion for making the most of the Sabbath:

  • Spend more time reading your Bible
  • Spend more time praying
  • Talk with your family (or friends) about how God is working in your life 
  • Ask God what He wants you to do

Don’t focus on your own pleasures – seek God’s pleasure and you’ll find true rest. 

MiniBlog: Why Rudolph is the Best Fairytail Christmas Story

We all know how it goes. Rudolph is different and he’s made fun of for it. One day, his defect makes him a hero instead of the misfit. What a great story. 

The story could have gone completely different. Imagine, in an alternate universe, Rudolph is approached on the renowned “foggy night” to lead Santa’s sleigh. But this time, this is Rudolph’s response:

“You all have treated me like dirt since the day I was born. Whenever I wanted to play a game or needed help, you would just make fun of me and call me names. Now, since my defect is convenient, you all want to be my best friend. I don’t owe you anything. Good luck flying in the fog, I’m going to go enjoy myself.”

Rudolph had every right to respond this way, but he didn’t. The story leaves out a few interesting details. Rudolph never complained about being left out. There was never an apology from the other reindeer. There was never an “I told you so” from Rudolph. 

He refused to play the victim. 

By definition, he was a victim, but he chose not to identify as one. Instead of becoming vindictive or revengeful, he knew who he was. He knew he was different, and he knew he had a purpose. 

When situations are out of your control, how do you respond? Do you know your purpose? Are you forgiving or spiteful? 

In a world full of victims, be a Rudolph. One day, your time will come to save the day. 

MiniBlog: A Fierce God

I know so many people who have a subconscious perception of Jesus as being weak and as a victim. Disclosure: a lot of gender generalizations are used here. Our Christian culture, in some ways, is geared toward women, but neglects to show how God appeals to manly men. All it takes is just a cursory look at popular worship music lyrics or common keys the songs are played in. Most men don’t want to sing Kari Jobe’s song:

I want to sit at your feet

Drink from the cup in your hand.

Lay back against you and breathe, feel your heart beat

This love is so deep, its more than I can stand

I melt in your peace, its overwhelming

This is very emotional language.  Some men appreciate, but most are bored by it. Christian comedian Tim Hawkins once joked men would rather watch a game and eat nachos with God than talk about their feelings. Don’t get me wrong, men need to understand and appreciate their emotions, but unlike most women, men don’t get excited about God when they ponder emotions all day. Our churches should emphasize passages like the end of Isaiah 49:

“For thus says the Lord: “Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken, and the prey of the tyrant be rescued, for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your children. I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine. Then all flesh shall know that I am the Lord your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.””

As a man, this passage gets me stoked. It’s gory. It’s aggressive. God is victorious and we’re on His side. He’s our hero. This is the stuff that gets me excited about God. 

If we want men to start engaging in the call of God, we need to show them how exciting He is. He isn’t tame, he’s the greatest warrior in the universe and he is calling us to battle. Are you in?

Measuring Success in Ministry

Goals

Anyone who commits time to an endeavor should have a measure of success. If you’ve heard the acronym SMART goals, you know what I’m talking about. The “M” stands for measurable. If you have no way to determine a goal is being met, what’s the point of having one? With that in mind, many people have different rods for measuring success in ministry. Unlike a business – success in ministry is not cut-and-dry. Whenever you’re relying on the Holy Spirit, there will be strong variables. With that in mind, I came across a verse in Acts which can serve as one template for a successful church ministry.

“And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.” Acts 6:7 – ESV

A Quick Background

The apostles were doing their thing preaching the word and people were being added to their number daily. Some Hellenists complained about their lacking service to widows. The apostles knew they needed to stay devoted to prayer and to the ministry of the word, so they prayerfully picked out seven people to take on the task. After they prayed and laid hands on the seven people they chose, we find the result (Acts 6:7). I see three markers of success in the verse, but let’s look at cause and effect.

Cause

The apostles were focusing on their own mission, but they were still open to the needs of others. After hearing the need, they were humble enough to know they weren’t the solution. Instead of going beyond their means – they chose other, probably more qualified, individuals to meet the need. The apostles had a clear vision of their role and refused to stray from it. The seven chosen were humble enough to meet the need. The disciples were working as a body (1 Cor. 12:12).

Effect

I see three different things happening as a result of their faithfulness:

The word of God continued to increase.

When a church is doing what it’s meant for, God’s truth should permeate its people. The disciples in the church should be eating the Bible for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Not literally – but it should be a constant in their lives. In a healthy church, people have a rhythm of absorbing God’s word. Some will read, some will study, some will listen, some will memorize, but all will receive and be changed by God’s word. In the words of my pastor, Jordan Hansen, they will read it and do what it means.

The number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem.

In a successful, local church, disciples will be made. The church is not meant to make converts, but is meant to make disciples. Life change, by the way, is a good Litmus test for determining the difference between a convert and a disciple.

Why Jerusalem? Jerusalem was the home base. Mission work is awesome. In fact, I love it so much, my family is committing a couple years to planting a church in Belgium. That being said, disciple-making needs to start at home. Without a strong foundation of believers, mission work would be nearly impossible. In successful churches, the number of disciples being made locally will multiply greatly.

A great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

This one puzzled me. At first I thought it was a repeat of more disciples being made, but there’s something distinct to this last marker of success. After studying, I would say, here in lies the rub. Who were the priests? If you look at who they were in the New Testament, oftentimes, they were legalistic (more concerned with works, than the heart). In one example, after Jesus healed a leper, he told the man to go show a priest so it would be a testimony to him (Matt. 8:4). These guys were so obedient to works, but did not have any obedience to faith. These were “good” people.

Successful churches will reach people who consider themselves already good or holy enough. Instead of working hard at following rules, they will believe Jesus already gave them His righteousness. Jesus was perfect, so they don’t have to be. They will be free to be in relationship with Him without feeling they need to earn salvation. Legalists and Pharisees will be saved from their religion of self and will be set free by the blood of Jesus. Oftentimes, these types are considered the hardest to reach. It makes sense: how do people who think they’re saved, get saved? I don’t know. But the Holy Spirit does. And in successful churches – this miracle will be facilitated a great number of times.

Wrapping it up.

The Bible has a lot of these type of verses; where you can run with it to find out how to measure success. As far as what makes a church successful, this is not an exhaustive list. I do hope Christians will pray into this measure of success for all churches. Pray the word of God increases, the number of disciples multiplies locally, and the religious are saved.

Abstinence is not for Patience

Considering Glory

God, let not these words pour shame over my brothers and sisters who have had and are having premarital sex, but rather, let these words be a medium for your grace to flow without hindrance. For my single brothers and sisters who have abstained, let this be an encouragement and power for them to persevere. For all of your beloved, please use these words to glorify yourself. Soli Deo Gloria.

I grew up believing 90% of what the church taught. My family raised me very well. They took me to church and encouraged all that was taught, save one topic in the Bible: sex. My parents confirmed in my soul that premarital sex was not something to be ashamed of, but rather was to be celebrated. So instead of believing in virginity as God’s way, I focused on trying to have sex as soon as possible. I grew up watching movies…

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Another Blog, Another Opinion.

“Look at me! Listen to me! Read my blog! Show me that I have value by liking my posts. Show me that I am loved by hearing my stories.”

This is not a rip on those who blog to be valued. In fact, even writing those words leads me to sorrow. I have my value given to me daily by my Heavenly Father. For me… to live is Christ, and to die is gain. How prideful must a twenty-year-old be to think he could make a difference by blogging?

Why do some on the internet, particularly Christians, grow in popularity? I think of one Jefferson Bethke (http://youtu.be/1IAhDGYlpqY). He has skyrocketed in the Christian world through the power of social media. I have the strong belief that it’s not because he worked harder than everyone else to promote himself, but rather he was driven by a real understanding of Jesus. To be honest, he doesn’t have a whole lot of new ideas to share about the Gospel. There truly is nothing new under the sun. In fact, it’s not that his opinions are better or more innovative than anyone else’s, but that he took the gospel and had a passion to share it. He took the Gospel to spoken word. He used whatever means necessary to spread grace and truth. John Piper can’t minister to people the way Mark Driscoll can, Matt Chandler can’t minister to people the way John Bevere can. Joyce Meyer can’t minister to people the way Tim Keller can. God created us with different gifts so we can channel His grace to everyone. If preaching the gospel was left to one person, there would be no church. I do not believe this next sentence is rooted in pride: I can minister to people in a way that no one else can. I also believe that is true for every Christian.

God has stirred in me an unremitting desire to spread His Gospel of grace. I am constantly seeking to improve my craft, namely communication. I love preaching and writing. There are a multitude of better writers and preachers in this world, but as I was saying earlier, none with my identity and story in Christ.

When I first heard that a Christian minister should not write a book until she or he was forty, I totally agreed. I got it. Wisdom comes with time. After that, I set my heart to wait until that time. Then, the Lord began to stir my resolve. I then realized the implication of that guideline: the gospel would never be written by anyone under forty. A whole generation could miss the gospel due to an inability to relate. To miss out on peer-to-peer ministering would be a grave mistake.

All that to say: I do not claim to have a new Gospel. I do not claim to have new wisdom. This I will say: Read my stories and see how God has worked his grace through my life and you might fall more in love with our King Jesus.