Sunday, September 29, 2013

Weekend Wanderings

This has been one of those weeks and one of those weekends. I haven't been able to put together the regular links posts. Instead, I give you a couple of videos to enjoy. Have a blessed week!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Weekend Wanderings

After a few days of the weather teasing us, tomorrow it will be fall here in the sunny South. (probably everywhere else too). I'm even noticing leaves starting to fall off the trees, and you know what that means. Raking and mulching! The leaves are beautiful when they change color. It would be nice if they didn't drop off, but then we wouldn't have the new green leaves in the spring. It's kind of like a lot of things in life. Life often comes out of death.

So much for philosophizing. Here are the links:

Challenging article by Rachel Barnette.
Jeffrey Macdonald on a possible trend.
Alan Knox has a question.
Matt Miles is fasting.
Mary is celebrating small victories.

Confessions of a pretender.
Two most important days.
Politician preachers.
Effortless and free.

Len on safe church.
A family story.
J.R. Miller pronounces woe.
Flip flops and feet.
A story by Daisy Lee Archibald.

Nadia on grace.
Tolkien and Lewis.
Europe: AD 1000 to present day.
Encouraging post from Dan Edelen.
Eric Carpenter writes about what he is for.

Melody rambles.
Like this, like that.
Good post from Brant Hansen.

I hope your first week of fall is a great one!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Alone and Vulnerable

We are told in Scripture that the devil prowls around like a lion, hunting for someone to devour. While I don't believe a Christian can be ultimately harmed by satan, I do think there is a warning to us when it comes to how we live our lives. We are to be vigilant because the lion has many ways to try and attack us. To me, this speaks of the necessity of being in community with fellow believers.

When lions or other pack animals hunt, they pick out the most vulnerable member of a herd. They look for an animal that is sick, or a young one that may be slower than the rest. They may focus on one that has strayed away from the herd a bit. When the pack makes its charge, the target can be brought down quickly unless it can reach the safety of the herd or unless one of the stronger members is able to defend it.

A follower of Jesus who is trying to go it alone is a vulnerable target for the enemy. If we are by ourselves, we lose the benefit of learning how to love as Jesus loved, the benefit of wise counsel from others, and the growth that comes from the messiness of sharing life together. It is very easy for us to get the idea that we are doing everything right without input from others. Our blind spots are just that. Usually we don't know about them unless someone who loves us points them out. If we isolate ourselves and only hear one point of view or one teacher, we run the risk of embracing teaching that does not match up with Scripture. Many times, we need the give and take of a group in order to discern what God wants us to know and do.  

Jesus gave us the command to love our brothers and sisters as he loved us. We cannot do that if we are separate from them. We are also told to make disciples. That can only be done in a community of folks that are committed to helping each other learn to follow Jesus. It doesn't happen in isolation.  

A community that loves, that challenges, that disciples, is a safe place. Yes, there will be messiness. Yes, there will be times when we hurt one another. But a community that is centered in Jesus and his gospel will provide what we need to follow Christ and be a light in a dark world.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Weekend Wanderings

It's been a stressful week around here. Work was very "interesting," and a health scare had Jan and me scrapping our Saturday plans. Everything is fine. Turned out to be a false alarm, but the links are a bit shorter this week.

Here they are:

This video had been around for awhile, but it's still funny.
For men.
For women.
Zeal, or anger?

Nate Pruitt on remembering, violence, and love.
Zack Hunt asks a good question.
Jared Wilson has a better word.
Mike Erich expects the supernatural.
John Watson gives us a poem.

This is interesting.
Whose are these hands?
World's ugliest animal.
Always "Plan A."
Christian without the adjectives.

Have a blessed week!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Coming Down

This past Sunday night, we were in Paul's letter to the Philippians. During the message the speaker made reference to this commercial. Go ahead and watch. I'll wait.

The point of the commercial was that the choices we make show our character. The men who were not normally in wheelchairs had made the choice to "come down" in some sense to be able to understand and include their friend in their weekly game of basketball. As he talked about this, the speaker spoke of how Jesus came down into the mess of our world in order to be like us and include us in the family of God. We could not reach up to God, so Jesus came down to us to show us the Father. This choice revealed the character of Jesus as one who is gracious and loving to the point of laying down his life for us so that we might live. As the players in the commercial immersed themselves, for a time, in the world of their friend, so Jesus immersed himself in our world.

We as the body of Christ, are called to do the same. Rather than being called to pull away from the world and wait to be rescued, we are called to "come down" and be fully in the world. Because we have the Spirit in us, we can do this without being of this world. Just as Jesus came into the muck that is the stuff of life, so we are called to get our hands dirty, living sacrificial lives that show the grace and love of God. Jesus met people where they were and gave them what they needed. Many times we try to give people something that they don't need, and then wonder why they reject us. I have heard it said that the church too often is answering questions that no one is asking. Obviously we do what we do for others because of the gospel, and we are to invite others to follow Jesus. I'm not suggesting we don't. But I am saying that maybe we start sharing the gospel by showing love to those around us in tangible ways.

Jesus said that our love would show that we belong to him. Maybe the choices we make really do reveal our character.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Weekend Wanderings

The football season is underway, which means basketball can't be far behind. Things are cooling down here in the sunny South and it won't be long before the roads in the mountains will be crowded with folks looking at the fall foliage. It's possible that the United States could be involved in yet another nation in the Middle East by next weekend. We'll see. Well, enough current events. On to the important stuff.

Here are the links:

Eric Carpenter on freedom in Christ.
Andy Stager on a different church growth strategy.
Ruth Wilson confesses.
Mike Bell on being the church.
M. Morford asks a good question.

Serious allegations.
Victorious life?
Old Erich proverb.

Kansas Bob on being authentic.
Maybe not in a church service on a Sunday morning.
Wayward Son is un-persuaded.
Len on slow church.
Matt Appling asks a question.

Peacemaking and churches.
World's 50 most unusual churches.
Homily on grace.
A new legalism.
Doxology in darkness.

Have a blessed week!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Blast From the Past: Obedience Leads To Freedom

Originally posted on August 18, 2009.

 ...or does it? I was listening to Steve Brown the other day. He was speaking about a teaching that I had heard all my life and fully believed, until about a year or so ago. This was the idea that obedience leads to freedom. I heard the story about how the fence around the yard allowed the little dog the freedom of running around the whole yard and protected it from the big dogs outside the fence. I also remember preachers talking about how the train tracks allow the train the freedom to run without wrecking. All of this was to emphasize how we need rules and regulations in our lives and how obedience led to freedom.

Now, it is true that rules do allow many things, including our lives , to run smoother in a lot of ways. Sporting events run much smoother with rules, and obeying those rules does bring freedom as you compete. The problem with applying this to our spiritual lives is that is just not true. The Pharisees rigidly obeyed the Law. They even came up with rules to keep people from even coming close to breaking the rules. They not only had no freedom, they didn't realize they were in bondage. We all know people who obeyed all the rules while they were growing up and rejected the faith as soon as they got out on their own. Many of us also know folks who obey and stay in church, yet are obviously not free. Of course, that brings up the question of whether they are obeying God's commands or man's rules, but that's another topic.

We aren't free because we obey. We obey because we are free. Because God has been gracious to us, and has set us free, we can now obey him. Because we are free, we can also choose to disobey. But, because God has given us his Spirit, he works in us to make us more and more like Jesus. That is not to say that we have no responsibility to learn and be a disciple, but rather to say that the strength to do that comes from God and the motivation to do that arises out of gratitude and love. God puts in us the desire to obey. We often fail miserably, but the desire to do what is right and become more like Jesus is from our Father.

It is good for us to realize that it is not our own effort that brings freedom. We are free because of what Christ has done for us. As we sink deeper and deeper into the love the Father has for us, and seek to be more like the Master, we will more naturally do what God wants us to do.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Three Day Weekend Wanderings

Happy Labor Day weekend! This weekend is sort of the official end of summer, although school has been in session in many places for a week or more, and fall doesn't arrive until later in September.  The typical August weather has returned to the sunny South, after a week or so of fall like temperatures. It was nice while it lasted. It looks like we might be sending an airstrike against Syria soon. I hope this doesn't get us bogged down in another war.

On to the links:

Dan Edelen is looking out from a glass house.
Meghan Tschanz has learned something from William Wilberforce.
Zack Hunt on a faith worth losing.
Melody has some things you should do today.
Andy Stager on work and play.

Seeker sensitive churches.
What's interesting is that a couple of these churches were also on a list of the ugliest.
War on Syria?
Slow Church.
Hippie doorway beads.

Alan Knox on making a difference.
Matt Appling on ideas.
Brit Tasjhian on communion.
Michael Lucaszewski on puffer fish pastors.
Scot McKnight on soul freedom.

When charity is illegal.
How not to comment.
Morning prayer.
Free church.

Have a blessed week!

Moving On

It's been a while since I've written here. Life has been happening the past few months. I have decided to start fresh, so I'm mo...