Thursday, April 29, 2010

No Prolonged Infancies or Adolescence

There's justifiable concern in the American church about the high frequency of high school graduates who quickly leave the church/faith.

Here's a hypothesis: They tend to leave because we have continued to treat them like children, rather than transitioning them to adult roles in the church and helping them develop adult relationships along with adult responsibilities.

There is a lot in American culture which celebrates prolonged adolescence into the 20's and even the 30's. The church needs to stand against this tide.

"No prolonged infancies among us, please. We'll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love." (Ephesians 4:14, The Message)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How to Interpret Flak

"But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me." (1 Cor 16:8-9)

Everyone serving the Lord will run into all kinds of opposition. There are people who seem to work against you. There are circumstances that trouble you and impede progress. There are emotional and physical lows that threaten the joy and peace in your heart.

Let's call this flak. That's what airmen in WWII called the anti-aircraft artillery lobbed at them. Occasionally there were direct hits, but the real danger was an exploding shell above your plane, which could blow off your wings. (Wings can take terrific stress from below, but not from above.)

The American bombers used fairly sophisticated navigation and sighting equipment to find their targets. I heard an interview with a vet who talked about how they managed in poor weather, or if fog or low-lying clouds obscured their view of the ground targets. "Oh, that was easy," he said. "When the flak started, you knew you were over the target."

Notice how Paul describes the opportunity he found for the Gospel at Ephesus: and open door, AND "there are many who oppose me." You could say that Paul knew this was effective ministry because he was getting flak!

So if you're feeling opposition and discouragement, persevere because that kind of flak is best interpreted as being over the ministry target.

Remember, too, that ministry is always a team effort. Even if you feel you're alone, it's actually God and you at work.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Forgetting is Our Default State

There's an old joke that men aren't stupid, they just have poor retention.

(It's a good joke because there's some truth in it!)

The word "remember" appears 167 times in the NIV translation of the Bible. Most of the time it is a command, or an admonition to not forget.

We're commanded to do what we don't do naturally. We understand from Scripture that we frequently forget important things. Forgetting is our default state! Therefore we need to work hard at remembering, and helping our families remember the important things about God, ourselves, and the Gospel.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dad, Mother's Day is Coming

Mother's Day is May 9th. Create some time soon to help your children prepare to honor their mom (and grandmoms!). Step it up this year. Help your children make a card and a gift. Help them think about what they will say to mom that morning, and anything extra special they can do to honor mom. Model with your own behavior!

In most cultures, a godly man honoring a mom is a precious, counter-cultural movement.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pastoring Your Family

Outstanding article from Justin Hyde, "How I Pastor My Family."

Get it, read it, put these things into practice. (If you're a wife reading this, help your husband put these things into practice.)

I greatly appreciated Hyde's thoughts about making the formal "devotional time" part of the implicit way the whole family operates:

"The implicit aspects are the constant opportunities to listen to your kids, to talk to them, to tell them about Jesus, to tell them about something you read in Scripture, something you've wondered about God, to connect the dots between dinner and worship, to live a life of celebration and sacrifice

"The legitimacy of your "devotion time" is only as solid as the legitimacy of your devotional life. In other words, I reap the rich spiritual benefits at 7:30PM each night because I tilled the soil that morning, during the day, at dinner, and so on. Quality time doesn't replace quantity. In fact, you can only enjoy the quality because you've invested in the quantity. The implicit is the foundation that sustains the rest, only most people don't see the foundation so it's easy to ignore."

Get the whole article, print it off, and read it several times. Pray. Put into practice.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Don't Stop With the First Part of Verse 7

Notice carefully how the LORD describes himself to Moses in Exodus 34:

"4 So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the LORD had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands. 5 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin."

Great stuff, isn't it? Wow! What a God! How wonderful, how beautiful!

Oh wait, I didn't finish verse 7. God continues to describe Himself:

"Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation. 8 Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped."

So, God describes Himself as being both merciful and guilt-punishing at the same time. Not alternating states of being. He's both, all the time.

This is why the Cross is key to our salvation. The Gospel message is that Christ substituted Himself for us, taking the punishment we deserve. This is how God's nature is completely honored, and how we are reconciled to Him.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Two Questions Leaders Need To Answer

Craig Groeschel asks leaders two powerful questions:

1. Do you often feel overwhelmed with the sense of burden and responsibility that comes with leadership?

2. Would you say there is a time in your life when you were closer to God than you are right now?

Do you see the connection?

I answer yes to both. I'm purposing to reconnect with the Lord better than I am as write this.