Thursday, March 23, 2017

Church Signs: "The Best Thing We Can Give Someone​...

...Is Our Prayers."

Usually my church signs posts are about the disagreements I have with the message on a particular sign. This time I agree with the message, to a point.

We are encouraged and commanded to give our requests to our Father, whether those requests are for ourselves or for others. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells us that we are to ask God to change a person's heart when anything we might say to them would be like giving pearls to pigs. Prayer is important and it is a perfect way to show others that we care.

Unfortunately, it's far too easy for us to use prayer as an excuse to avoid doing things for people. We'll say that we will pray for someone when we have the ability to help them out ourselves. Sometimes we simply forget to even pray for them. That is not a good thing. James tells us that if we say, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," it does no good. In the same way, if we say, "I'll pray for you," but don't help when we can, it does no good.

The criticism that Christians are more interested in a person's soul than their physical needs has some validation if the only thing we do is pray. At the same time, prayer is not a last resort when nothing else is working. We need to do both. We are to pray for the kingdom to come and for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, and sometimes we are the means through which that happens.

The best thing we can give others is prayer, and our help, and our love.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Weekend Wanderings

Well, it's that time again. Seems to come around fairly quickly. It doesn't seem as if it's been a week. The second weekend of the big basketball tournament is almost in the books, and bracket sheets lie crumpled and abandoned all across the land. I figured mine would be wrecked after the first round so I didn't do one this year. I'm happy that most of the schools that I like are still in, with my Xavier Musketeers going to the Sweet Sixteen again. In other news, it's getting closer to spring and it is starting to get warmer, again.

On to the good stuff:

Don't settle.
Promise or performance?
Anti-self help books are evidently a thing now.
The Zacchaeus Option.
Intersectionality.

It sure looks black to me.
How dare they!
Beautiful photos!
A little Fitbit news.
Good article.

I want to see this some day.
Good for them!
Ten views on love.
David Brooks on the Benedict Option.
About that Oxford Comma.

So it turns out you can be too clean.
The healthiest hearts in the world.
One-two punch.
Bringing a knife to a gunfight.
Seems like there are a lot of options. Here is another one.

Have a blessed week!



Saturday, March 11, 2017

Weekend Wanderings

Well, the groundhog said it would be six more weeks until winter would be over. He just neglected to tell us it would all happen at the end. The forecast here in the sunny South is for a chance of snow or freezing rain. The peach growers are hoping the temperatures don't drop too low. The best part of the year for college basketball fans is upon us. I'm hoping my Xavier Musketeers make a deep run this year. Who are you hoping does well?

On to the links:

Hope of the world?  Or idol?
Freedom for a wimpy ox.
Logan as Christian fable.
Job and identity.
Leaving the comfort zone.

Fashion tips for the pastor.
Bearing witness.
Historic craft beers.
A different look at Machiavelli.
Poetic justice?

Planting trees. A lot of trees.
Interesting article.
Suburbia and the suburban church.
Parenting.
Classic post from Michael Spencer.

Good post from Evan Welcher.
Pilgrimage.
Dangerous gospel.
The timing of grace.
What God asks of us.

Have a blessed week!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Following Jesus: Part 3-Loving Others

The second of the two commandments Jesus said summed up the Law and the Prophets is love your neighbor as yourself. This is another way we follow Jesus. In John 15, Jesus gave a new command. He said we were to love our brothers and sisters as he loved us.
The love that Jesus commands us to practice is a love that puts others first. It is a love that sacrifices for others, even to the point of laying down our lives. It is a love that does the same for others that Jesus did for us.

One of the primary reasons the early church turned the world upside down was their love, for each other and for their neighbors. The first Christians were well known for the way they cared for their brothers and sisters and the way they looked past social, racial, and other differences to form a family with God as their Father. They were also known for caring for their neighbors, often  putting themselves at risk. No matter what else was said about the early followers of Jesus, it was obvious that they loved others in a way far different from the culture around them.

It seems as if those who of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus are known more for what we are against and our fighting than for our love for others. We seem to be quite willing to forget the command to lay down our lives in exchange for what we think is power and influence. At times our worship seems to be more about ourselves than about the One who gave his life for us. The things that capture our imaginations are many times antithetical to the Kingdom and are self-centered instead of others-centered.

Loving others as Jesus loved us means giving up our "rights," our interests, our wants, for the good of others. While we may be willing to step in front of a bullet for someone, how willing are we to give up our time, comfort, or possessions? How willing are we to essentially become nothing so that Christ might be glorified and others benefited?

Following Jesus can be distilled into two commands. We love God with every fiber of our being, and we love others. Everything thing else flows from that. It is not an easy thing to do. In fact, it is impossible if we try to do it in our own strength. If we belong to Jesus, we have his Spirit in us giving us the ability to love as we are called to love.

May we again be known for our love.
Part 1
Part 2 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Weekend Wanderings

It's March. That means wind, possible hard freezes, and a certain basketball tournament. Here in the sunny South, we are dealing with an early influx of pollen and the resulting allergies. This was a good weekend to get out and work in the yard.

Enough small talk. On to the real reason you're here.

No strings attached.
Facts, schmacts.
This is, uh, interesting.
Crying heresy.
Here's a funny article.

Carnival around the world.
Interesting.
Magical thinking.
Saving Christianity?
Lent around the world.

The RV bandit.
Here are some excellent photographs.
This is just a bit odd.
Any excuse for a party.
Fixing the world?

Good post from Bob Edwards.
Lent sermon.
Keith Giles responds to critics.
Lent with Neil Young.
Scot McKnight on angels.

Have a blessed week!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Weekend Wanderings

Well, the groundhog said we were going to have six more weeks of winter. The daffodils in our yard say, "Winter? What winter?" The temperatures are ranging from the mid 50s to around 70. Of course, March may change all that. Some folks are having some pretty bad weather issues right now and I hope things calm down soon.

On to the good stuff:

Shades of Jurassic Park?
Dominick Santore on forgiveness.
Searching for immortality.
This is bound to work!
Alternative faith.

Looks like a cool place to visit.
Decline narrative.
Good post from Daniel Jepsen.
Disease of being busy.
I didn't know this was a thing.

Good post from Frank Viola.
Walking around money.
Good post from Mike Erich.
Scot McKnight asks a question.
Good post from Keith Giles.

Have a blessed week!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Following Jesus: Part 2-Loving God

If we follow Jesus, we will seek to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. The problem is that we don't often really know what it is that we love. We may think that we love God, but our love actually belongs to something else. We pursue a different version of what the good life is, a different kingdom. In You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, James K. A. Smith makes the case that we are primarily loving beings and that our love is formed by habits and liturgies that we engage in. Many of the things that we do in our day-to-day shape us and present a vision of a life worth living that is antithetical to the kingdom of God.

Smith makes the point that our love for God is formed and strengthened by the liturgy of the church through the centuries. Coming from a background where we said that we didn't do liturgy (even though it really was a liturgy of sorts,), I have come to appreciate the parts of a worship service, from the greeting and call to worship where we are welcomed by God and called to come apart and lift him up, to the benediction where we receive one final blessing from God and are sent out to bring his Kingdom to bear in our day-to-day. In between, we sing praises to God, confess our sin and receive a reminder of his forgiveness. We give a portion of what God has given to us as an act of worship, and we hear the truth, goodness, and beauty of Jesus from the words of Scripture. We gather around the table and remember what Christ has done for us and receive a foretaste of the feast to come in the new heavens and earth.

All of these things have deepened my love for God, his Kingdom, and his people. I have found that they have begun to work in me to wean my heart from those things the culture says we need to flourish. I have a long way to go, but I am confident that God will continue to work in me and give me a heart for him.

May we all come to love our Father more and more.

Church Signs: "The Best Thing We Can Give Someone​...

...Is Our Prayers." Usually my church signs posts are about the disagreements I have with the message on a particular sign. This time...