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Friday, February 26, 2010

What does this mean for us today?

            So, what does that mean for us today?
  •     Be accountable to each other- Find a partner, someone  who you can trust to not judge you, and if there are things in your life that you need to change, allow that person to keep you accountable and with that let them “ spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”
  •     Feed and be fed- if you are not in the word daily, find a Bible study and be a part of it.  That way you are constantly being challenged to learn the word of God.  Not only that, but prayerfully consider someone who you can  train in the Word, too.  True change comes when you are sharing with others, too.
  •  Err on the side of grace-  I know all of us know someone who is not living a life worthy of Christ. How do we change that?  Love one another.  It doesn’t mean compromising on your beliefs, but what it means is don’t force that on someone else. We are all a part of the body of Christ. However, you can line five of us up right now, and we all have a different theology. That is ok! I have yet to find a place in Scripture where bad theology keeps you out of heaven. Unless you don’t believe that Jesus Christ is God, we all in our different realms of belief,  have a chance to be a part of the Kingdom.  Following Jesus’ example- Jesus never once condemns a non- Christian.  Never. They already aren’t living Christ like lives, so Him pushing beliefs about a Father  they don’t know or believe in is not helpful.  Use Ephesians 4:29 as a guide. Build them up, offer hope, don’t tear them down. If they ask you your opinion, give it, but not until then.  If the world knew what we were for rather than what we were against,  this world would change.  

Extreme Makeover 4

The final verse is  in  2 Timothy 4:13. " Bring Mark with me, because he is useful to me in my ministry, my books, and above all the parchments.( paraphrase). What I love about this verse is that Paul himself values teaching and leaning. He values the books, which shows me that he is not above learning something new. Here he is saying I need to learn, too.  He brings Timothy with him, sort of his right-hand man to disciple. He allows him to do it through hands- on training. He goes with him, learns what Paul does, and then is sent out to do it himself.  But, he also places an emphasis on “ the parchments”. Parchments in those days were made of a certain material so that it would last, and not be lost. So, whatever he is learning, he is writing down. Why? So, that generations after him can benefit from what he has learned.   It’s that give and take relationship that benefits the body of Christ.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Extreme Makeover: the Unveiling 3

Let’s look at another verse that I think drives this point home: John 5:19-21 " I can only do what I see my Father doing..." The day that I was writing this I had my son with me. For Christmas, my son received a little V-tech laptop computer that came with a carrying bag that looked similar to the bags my husband and I use when we go out to do writing. I bought it for him because I knew he would like it and he could be like us, so, of course, he was so excited when we went out and he opened up his laptop to do his work and I opened up mine to do my work.  Picture this for a moment: we walk into Starbucks, both with our bags with our computers in them, slung over our shoulders. I order my drink and the barista gives him a little cup of hot chocolate on the house. So, we are carrying our drinks in one hand, carrying our bags in the other, both drinking our drinks and working on our computers. I could not think of a better illustration than that for this verse. I never taught him that, I never said ‘ this is what I do for work.” We taught them by our lifestyles. He watches his father everyday walks out of the house with a coffee cup in one hand and a bag on his shoulders in the other.  My example taught him how to live his life.  Likewise, our example, is the best way to show Christ to the world. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Extreme Makeover: the Unveiling 2

I believe the best illustration of this is found in Titus 2:3-5. 
There are a couple of things I noticed in these verse. The first is that both older and younger women are in need of training and learning.  When I say older or younger, I do not mean the color of your hair or the amount of wrinkles on your face. In this context, it means spiritually older or younger, or the ones who are already exhibiting these attributes.  These are the ones not gossipping about her neighbor, not conducting themselves like the world,  but loving their husbands and children , self- controlled,  not lazy, etc.If the  Holy Spirit, is not already there doing His rejuvenating work in us, the world will see nothing different about us. There is nothing to attract them.  The church, which by the way is the people of God, not the building you meet in,  must be made blameless. It starts with us. Revival starts in the head and then travels to the heart.  The main way we get there is through " sharpening" each other through fellowship.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Extreme Makeover: the Unveiling

My favorite part of the Extreme Makeover show is the unveiling   because when I’m watching the show, I wait the whole hour and sit through all of the tearing down, then watch them scramble to rebuild everything in time before the family comes back from whatever lavish vacation they have been sent on to enjoy.  But, what would the show be if we never saw the end result? Would we even watch? No, we would probably lose interest fast. Why? Because there is nothing to inspire us to be better. It’s like the show tears down and builds up, but it never offers the hope. See, this section is the unveiling part,  the part where the family is offered the new home, the new place where they can dwell. But, who else is around them- the world? All of their friends, neighbors, and family are watching and enjoying along with them . They participate and all scream aloud those famous words from the crew “ Move that bus!”  The gifts and attributes are not just for us to keep for ourselves, but they are for others to enjoy as well.  That is how Christians bring forth  the Kingdom of God  in the here and now. 
Tomorrow I am going to talk about three verses that I think best help Christians to " unveil" themselves to each other in the church body.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Man at the Pool

Why is it that we, as Christians, think that the way to usher in the Kingdom is by condemning the world? Where are the Bible verses that support this? What example in Jesus' life supports this idea? Take John 5, the healing of the man at the pool, for example. Jesus comes to the man who has been a paralytic for over 30 years. He asks if he wants to be well. The man  says "Yes, but I don't have anyone to help me into the pool." He puts his hands over his eyes and heals him. Then, Jesus goes to the Temple, when he wants to get his life right, and then says " Stop sinning, or something worse might happen to you."  Jesus earned the right to speak into his life. He met his need first. Meet the needs of the community first, then speak into their lives. You'll find they will be listening much more intently when you seek nothing except to help them first.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Power of Community 2

I was at my writer's group last night and I am just astonished on how powerfully the Holy Spirit works through each person. Whether it is through the bible study from the pastor or critique from the other members, I always feel the Lord speaking to me. I always leave refreshed ( and overwhelmed) with direction as to where to go next in my writing.  I am very thankful the Lord has brought us all together, and I hope I can be just as much of an encouragement to them as they are to me.
So, dear reader, I want to challenge you this morning. Do you have a group of people who push you to be the person God wants you to be? Do you feel refreshed when you leave their presence? Are you challenged by them?  If not, I encourage you to find one.  I think you will find you are pleasantly surprised.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Authenticity is not authenticity without courtesy

Being authentic does not mean  you can say or do anything your heart desires.  Authenticity also entails a level of tolerance for who the other person is.  If for example, Adam Lambert was truly authentic, he would have thought about the  implications of his performance. He would have thought about the audience to which he was  catering. I highly doubt most parents ran to the shelves to pick up that CD for their teenage sons and daughters.  He would have cared more about the people buying his CD than the fame he would gain for singing it. For that, he single handedly  sunk his own ship.

I know it seems like I am picking on just one guy. It isn’t like  he is the first to take a risk on stage only to have it blow up in his face later on. But, it is the fact that the world views him as “ authentic” and “ honest” that  I question. If this is  what is construed as authenticity, we have our work cut out for us  in terms of redefining the topic. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Authenticity isn't authenticity without honesty

Another thing Adam Lambert lacked was honesty. If he was proud of who he is, why didn’t he come forth with his orientation from the beginning?  He had every opportunity  to express himself, yet he chose to hide behind his fa├žade  in the hopes  of finding fame and fortune instead.  He cared more about making a statement on the AMAs than about the obvious talent God has given him.  The unfortunate part of the whole situation is that  in the same effort to shock his onlookers, he gained notoriety rather than authenticity.  In a two minute performance, he became unrelatable. And those same fans  that once looked at him with stars in their eyes, now look away and cover those of the teenage girls that stand by their sides.  His album debuted at number 5 on I Tunes, and then fell away. His Oprah performance did not garner any more media attention that his album needed to boost sales , which I’m sure for which he secretly longed.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Blind Side

My husband and I went to see the Blind Side the other night for Valentine's day. It was the best ten bucks I have spent on a movie in a long time.  What I loved most about it was the giving nature of this family to allow this boy , whom they don't really know, into their home. What I disliked most was that most of the other "Christians" did nothing. Why was this the only family who was willing to give him a second chance? Was it his size?  His disposition? The color of his skin? I was staggered by how the majority of his teachers ( with the exception of a few) cared so little about those in need that they turned a " blind eye" ( or side) to him. They were even going to kick him out of school for not making the grade! Why was only one teacher willing to teach him in a way than the written test?
are we aware of the needs of those around us? If we are, are we willing to meet those needs?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Relationships without risk is impossible

Yesterday at church we were asked to talk about a time when we invested in the life of someone and got hurt by it. We were also encouraged to share those hurts with others. If I had to do it again, I would invest the same time and resources, because it is better than never having put my heart out there in the first place.
Relationships without risk is impossible. Just look at Jesus. He loved and gave, and for what? Rejection. Everyone left him. He was crucified by the same people who once received him. Yet, a larger purpose was satisfied. The salvation of the world.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Always look at the context

We have been studying 1 John in our small group. I prepared some background info for it which helped me gain a better understanding of the context in which it was written. I never realized John wrote those letters in the midst of a church split and that there was a lot of strife associated with the community to which he was writing.  Now, if I hadn't prepared the info, I never would have understood the full context of this split. In fact, it would have gone right over my head! I learned that I always need to understand the full context of my circumstances in order to make a good decision about it. It can be anything from a conflict with a friend to the reason behind my bad attitude.  What might be some underlying reasons/ sins, etc. that is allowing me to engage in that situation?
Do you know the context behind your circumstances today?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Unity that Heals

I had gotten word from my sister that a couple had lost everything in a fire recently in the next town over from me. So, I got together some clothes and waited for her to pick them up. When we were trying to coordinate times, she said they already have $2000 in donations! How do so many people get together and provide for one family? The answer: generosity.  I have often wondered how these two things can coincide- generosity with selfishness, encouragement with degradation, etc. The Bible says there is no one righteous, no not one, and that the heart is desperately wicked above all things. So, then how does this type of giving emerged from that wicked heart? Is it the fact we are all made in God's image? Is it that he uses both the saved ad unsaved for his glory? I guess my biggest question in this generosity is : where is the Church in all of this? I don't know if a church donated to their cause, or if they were even involved with one, but what if they aren't involved and a church did not donate. What does that say about the church body at large?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Phenomenon of Reality TV

Survivor: heroes vs. Villains starts on Thurs. I haven't watched Survivor in a long time, mostly because the idea, to me, is boring now. I mean, after 10 years, how much rice can one person eat?  But, I think about how this same show 10 years ago, ushered in a whole new phenomenon that has changed the course of television. Every reality show that is currently running can thank Survivor for their opportunity. But, on an even deeper level, how much has reality TV  changed the world in terms of morality and ethics? The answer: a lot. I remember the moment it changed, too- Boston Rob on Survivor who made alliances on the show, then turned his back on those same members when the opportune time came. No more does the good guy win the game. Instead, a new definition of  " winner" has emerged: the one who lies, cheats,and steals gets the ticket to sail to the top.  Since tv is a reflecion of how culture is moving, what does this say for us as a society?
( BTW, Boston Rob is on this next season guess which side he is on...=)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Lack of Authenticity of Adam Lambert

I went onto Youtube the other day and watched Adam Lambert's performance on Oprah. now, I'm embarrassed to admit I actually liked the performance. But, that's the thing.I like him, some of his songs are even less screechy than I envisioned, but I don't know who he is. Frankly, I'm not sure he knows either.  He spoke about the infamous AMA performance,  which he said he " stood by", and that he understood why people got upset.  So, here's the question: would he do it again if he had the opportunity? I think if he was less about the image, less about the barriers he wants to break down , less about the resurgence of glam rock, and more about his talent, and refining his skills, he could be a wonderful performer. What I struggle with, however, is his unauthentic persona. He makes believe and many people believe he is self- confident, but you must look more closely. At one moment, he stands by it, next moment he understands it,. The next moment he is on Oprah, with not even a hint of impropriety, next moment he is giving the finger to Rolling Stone. We saw him in concert on the AI tour last year. His lisp was so bad he ruined the very song he received a standing ovation for. On Oprah, he spoke as clearly as he did on AI. He is playing the game like all of us I guess.   It's too bad. He could be a really big star. If only he knew who he was.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The virtue of loyalty

I was having a discussion with a friend from church ( thanks Tim!) who is writing some material for a conference. The subject of the conference was on loyalty. He was exploring the different aspects of loyalty: one's loyalty to their country, team, etc. As he is thinking about it, he is asking himself " Can someone just  be loyal, or does one also have to be honest, brave, etc.? As we discussed a little of it, my mind was churning about this concept. I'd like to dive more into it the subject, but it is intriguing to me since one of John's character traits is loyalty. But, he was also honest, caring, compassionate, etc.  This friend also mentioned the " virtue of loyalty" as opposed to just a character trait. He is also exploring the idea that if one is loyalty in virtue, than it is counter-productive to be loyal to a team, country, etc. which can carry with it corruption and evil. It is interesting to explore, one of which I'd like to delve into at a later time. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts....

Friday, February 5, 2010

Persistent Audacity

Pastor Bill Huegel preached at our church a few weeks ago, and he spoke about the Lord's prayer. He explained what the passage on how to pray was about, but then he went into the next passage down in Luke 11:5-12. The parable is about a man who knocks on his neighbor's door asking for food because he has a traveler staying with him and has no food to give him. the neighbor first denies him, but then allows him in because of the man's persistence.  Pastor Bill said " Pray like that. Pray with persistent audacity and the Father will reward you." I liked his take on that because how many times do we pray for something, then after seeing no results, give up? God wants us to pray like the neighbor who won't leave the neighbor alone until he gives him what the wants. It made me think about my own prayer life and lack of persistent audacity. My husband reminded me of his word to us that day, and made me think about challenging you all on this same subject. I hope, dear reader, it makes you think about it as well, and you will reflect on your persistent audacity with the Lord as you go about your daily routine this morning.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

It's the Climb

Self- control
It's all a climb, isn't it?
But, with every climb upwards comes a few slips backwards
So, it is with life
So,it is with the spiritual life
So, it is with our own discipline
For every time we head upwards
Some boulder comes our way to make us slip backwards
What is your boulder?
What is preventing you from heading upward?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Talking myself out of discipline

I apologize, faithful few, who read my blog. It has been a rough week for our family, with illness and difficulties with financial loopholes, my mind has been preoccupied. But, since I made a commitment to myself that I would blog 5 times a week in an effort to make it a spiritual discipline, here I sit typing away. It has been so easy to talk myself out of doing this. I have had every reason not to do it, yet, I decided to say no to my flesh and say yes to my commitment. It is not easy, but I made a promise to myself, and anyone who knows me knows my word is good ( although that is quickly falling away by the wayside in today's society). Why is it so easy to talk yourself out of discipline? Why is it even harder to talk yourself back into it? Is it because " my mind is willing, but my flesh is weak?" It's a hard one to call.  Why do I commit to regular exercise, yet only to give up a month or two later? Does anyone else struggle with this?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Authenticity is not authenticity without consistency

So, I was home all day yesterday recovering from a sinus infection. In between naps I watched TV. In my boredom I watched an episode of American Idol from last year.  I watched as some beautifully executed ( and some horribly butchered ) country music. Then came Adam Lambert. As I watched, emotions boiled inside of me that I had felt numerous times before. It wasn't dislike over his singing style, or rebellion at the judges for manipulating me into liking him, but hurt. Hurt over the fact that he used me and he used every viewer that watched him. In interviews when asked about his sexual preference, he said " I know who I am."  He has also stated that the American idol producers allowed him to handle his orientation any way he wanted. Yet, he put on a mask and pretended to be someone he wasn't for the sake of gaining votes. As soon as he was not under the banner of the same show that made him famous, he let the world know all about him  in between the pages of Rolling Stone.  The problem that I have with it is not his sexual preferences, but the fact he wasn't honest with everyone from the beginning., For someone who claimed he was authentic, and whom the judges said was authentic from the first auditions, why wasn't he authentic with his fans? He wasn't simply because he didn't think people would vote for him. So, how is that authenticity? Why didn't he try to include a performance like the one on the AMAs into a week on American Idol? Perhaps it would have been a perfect fit on " most downloadable songs" week or " songs from the year you were born " week.
Authenticity is not authenticity without consistency.  Without consistency, the message becomes nothing but but something to shock people, but when the shock wears off, has no substance.