Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Christian Burn out?

10_questions.jpgDonald S. Whitney, Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health.
Christians today are busier than ever before, doing the "spiritual" work they feel called to out of devotion for God. But are these earnest followers of Christ actually living their faith in a manner that is pleasing to Christ? Whitney effectively challenges this "busy hands, empty heart" epidemic. Whitney poses intensely introspective questions to aid Christians as they gauge their own level of spiritual health. Whitney also discusses the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, meditating upon Scripture, taking communion and fellowship with others of like faith, showing readers how to transform these often automatic enterprises into faith-building activities. He advises Christians to spend more energy enjoying God and developing a Christlike nature, rather than accomplishing ever-accelerating goals. Here are the 10 diagnostic questions...

1. Do you thirst for God?
2. Are you governed increasingly by God's Word?
3. Are you more loving?
4. Are you more sensitive to God's presence?
5. Do you have a growing concern for the spiritual and temporal needs of others?
6. Do you delight in the bride of Christ?
7. Are the spiritual disciplines increasingly important to you?
8. Do you still grieve over sin?
9. Are you a quicker forgiver?
10. Do you yearn for heaven and to be with Jesus? did you do?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Church?

The words "My Church" are a bit misleading, in that the church is not of our own making; the church belongs to Jesus Christ. But I still think there is much wisdom in these words and I offer them to you. I checked all over and could not find the person responsible for writing these words. If you know the author let us know. 

My church is composed of people like me.
I help make it what it is.
It will be friendly, if I am.
Its pews will be filled, if I help fill them.
It will do great work, if I work.
It will make generous gifts to many causes, if I am a generous giver.
It will bring other people
into its worship and fellowship, if I invite and bring them.
It will be a church of loyalty and love,
of fearlessness and faith,
and a church with a noble spirit,
if I, who make it what it is,
am filled with these same things.
Therefore, with the help of God,
I shall dedicate myself to the task
of being all the things
that I want my church to be.

Do you agree with these words? Why?

Friday, October 15, 2010

A provocative Question

I heard it again this week: every 15 seconds over 35,000 people (mostly men) are staring at online porn. I know it is a real problem that's corroding the souls of our brothers in Christ and destroying marriages. But I was intrigued to read Randy Alcorn's most recent blog where he raises an equally important concern: what about the issue of modesty in the church? Go here to read more

God so Loved the World

More great news updates about Lausanne Conference in South Africa. Remember to pray that the gospel will increase to the ends of the world!

2012 and the end of the world

Human beings have always been captivated by doom’s day and end of the world scenarios. Charismatic leaders, prophets, seers, have  made a dizzying array of predictions about the end of the world. The fact that we are still here says much about the accuracy of their predictions.

I just finished reading a very balanced treatment of this subject by Raymond C. Hundley, PH.D. He is the author of Will the World end in 2012? A Christian Guide to the Question everyone’s asking. And everyone’s asking this questions these days.

In a little over 200 pages, Hundley addresses the ever popular Mayan myths, Nostradamus, and other theories, such as the earth colliding with outer space projectiles and planets.

Hundley's 2012 was most helpful for me in his handling of the end of the world from Scripture’s perspective. Scripture is clear that God has a future plan for the heavens and earth. According to 2 Peter 3:10-12, "The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat…

Hundley does not rule out the possibility that Jesus Christ could return in 2012. He could also return today or twenty years into the future. The point is, no one knows the day or the hour when the Son of Man will return. Readiness for the Son of Man is the Christian's call. He is coming at an hour when we least expect him (Matthew 24:44). I can’t get over his question: What would happen if Christians in the world lived as if the Lord was indeed coming back in 2012?

This book should be read by anyone who is interested in the condition of the world and wants biblical reassurance of God's plan for the future. Christ is coming again and if he came today, would you be ready to meet him? Pastors, youth leaders, and lay leaders would be helped in reading this book. He does a great job of limiting technical and obscure theological jargon. With numerous study questions for further reflection, this resource would also be a great resource for small groups and Sunday school classes.

The Lausanne Movement and Its Covenant

The Lausanne Movement and Its Covenant: "The Lausanne Movement begins this weekend. We have four people from our church in attendance. Please remember to say a prayer for Ron and Eleanor, Dave and Sally. Check out this link to the conference and take time to read many of the papers, and listen to the speakers.

Nothing but grace

One day in 1514, Professor Martin Luther was in his private office on the second floor of a tower attached to his monastery. He was studying Paul's epistle to the Romans, and he came to Romans 1:16-17. Luther began to grasp the fact that God's justice and His grace are at cross purposes. Justice would require that we be judged for our sins, but grace provides a way of escape. "I see the answer," said Luther. "God punished Jesus in my place, the same Jesus who had kept God's holy Law. But punishing His Son, God carried out His threat that sin will be punished by death. All I have to do is accept this fact and I need not fear that God will punish me with eternal death. I am holy in God's sight because I know and believe that Jesus is holy for me and has taken my punishment."
When we realize this and accept Christ, we have our own "tower experience." Our sins demand justice, but God gives grace; and that's why we are not ashamed of the Gospel!
Should we ever get tired of hearing the story of grace over and over again? I surely hope not!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

7 deadly Sins

I want to encourage everyone to consider getting a copy of a book I finished reading not too long ago. The book is called Glittering Vices : A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins and Their Remedies by Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung. Her writing is crystal clear and goes deep into the heart. Here's a sample from her book as she describes how moral formation happens. This is good stuff for how we think about forming the mind of Christ, and the practices of Christ.

A virtue (or vice) is acquired through practice— repeated activity that increases our proficiency at the activity and gradually forms our character. Alasdair MacIntyre describes a child earning to play chess to illustrate the process of habit formation. Imagine, writes MacIntyre, that in hopes of teaching an uninterested seven-year-old to play chess, you offer the child candy—one piece to play, and another piece if the child wins the game. Motivated by his sweet tooth, the child agrees. At first, he plays for the candy alone. (And he will cheat to win, in order to get more candy.) But the more the child plays, the better at chess he gets. And the better at chess he gets, the more he enjoys the game, eventually coming to enjoy the game for itself. At this point in the process, he is no longer playing for the candy; now the child is playing because he enjoys chess and wants to play well. And he understands both the intrinsic value of the game and the way cheating will now rob him of that value. He has become a chess player. Moral formation in virtue works much the same way.

We often need external incentives and sanctions to get us through the initial stages of the process, when our old, entrenched desires still pull us toward the opposite behavior. But with encouragement, discipline, and often a role model or mentor, practice can make things feel more natural and enjoyable as we gradually develop the internal values and desires corresponding to our outward behavior.

Blessings or Burdens: A short story

dirt poor farmer is awakened by an angel standing at the foot of his bed. The
angel shares: ‘God desires to bless you as He did your ancestor Abraham. He has
empowered me to grant you and your wife three wishes. The only condition is this: your
neighbor whom you dislike will receive a double portion of what is given to you and your
wife.’ They are amazed and astonished. Since they were very, very poor, the first request
was for 1,000 head of cattle. This would break the cycle of poverty that his family had
endured for years. No sooner had he made the request - he heard noises now coming
from his land. He and his wife rushed out the door - and lo and behold 1,000 cattle.

They knelt down - gave thanks to God - and praised his name. They were filled with great
joy. He and his wife went out in the afternoon to survey the land to see where a barn could
be built to hold all the grain necessary to feed such a herd. They decided to construct a
barn near the first hill on the property.

However, as they reached the hill - they could see their neighbor’s field - and their
herd of 2,000 cattle. Immediately their joy disappeared and they went home angry. They
were so upset they could not eat their supper. All they could see was their neighbor’s herd
- and not their own.

The farmer and his wife considered their second request. They always had wanted
a child. This became their second request. The wife joyfully announces at the local
synagogue they will be parents. Sure enough one Friday evening as the Sabbath was
about to begin, a baby was born into their circle of love. The next occasion the farmer went
to the local synagogue, and when the time came for the prayers of the people, he stood
and exclaimed, “God is surely gracious, for a child was born into our family last
night.” As wave of delight went through the whole congregation and then, from the other
side of the synagogue, his neighbor arose and said, “Indeed, God is good, for last night
my wife gave birth to twins.” No sooner had his neighbor said these words, all the joy
that the farmer had been feeling disappeared again, and he went home in a very different
frame of mind from the way he had started the day.

This time the dark discontent did not abate, and he knelt down late that night to
make his final request, “Lord, God, I ask you to gouge out my right eye.” As soon as
he had said these grim words, the angel materialized at the foot of his bed once again and
said solemnly, “Oh son of Abraham, why have you turned to such dark desiring?”
The farmer replied with utter bitterness, “I cannot stand the sight of my neighbor’s good
fortune - so I will gladly sacrifice half of my vision for the satisfaction of knowing that he will
be blind and unable to see his great blessings.” A long silence ensued, in which tears
formed in the eyes of the angel, who then said, “Why have you taken an occasion for
blessing and turned it to such destructiveness? Hear this, your third request will not be
granted, not because God lacks integrity but because God is full of mercy. You should
know, too, that you have brought great sadness not only to yourself but also to the Holy
One by virtue of how you have chosen to respond to His generosity.”

This story from the reverse side clearly demonstrates how the power of greed and
possessions can turn great blessings into unfortunate burdens. Why do people turn God's blessings into a burden and a bitter, joyless experience?

Only God!

This past Sunday night, October 10, 22 year-old amputee Liu Wei won America's version of  China's Got Talent. He began playing the piano at the age of 9 with his toes and always had the burning passion to be a musician. He never gave up on his dream and here is playing the popular song, You're Beautiful. He brought the audience to tears with this moving rendition of the song in English at that!

Where does someone find the inner strength to soar above the limiting circumstances of their life? Only God!