Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Have you ever noticed that we can do more with our lives when we have a little confidence in what we are doing? 

Maybe it's just me, but when I have something to share that I am confident others would be interested in, it makes it pretty easy to talk to people that I don't know. Otherwise, I tend to keep to myself.  It's not that I don't want to speak to people, I love talking to people.  I think it is just a lack of confidence in knowing that I have something worth talking to them about and can become a burden on them.

I began to think about this last night as I was working on sharing a Disc Golf tournament's information with some local guys I didn't know.  I've been watching for players the last couple evenings and have had some decent conversations with a couple guys about Disc Golf.  As I was walking away last night, it hit me. 

Why is it so easy to share with these guys about something so unimportant in the scheme of things, but so challenging to speak to others, some of who I am close to, about my faith?  Why do I feel like what I have to share with them is another thing that just burden's them. 

I don't think God needs us to be His salesmen, but I believe we should be willing to speak to others about Him and what He has done in our lives.  Perhaps the difference is that I approached people that were already at the Disc Golf course so I knew they might be interested.  Do I do the same thing about people that are at church? 

Anyway, I just found it interesting that having confidence in what we believe and know can so change the way we interact with people. Do you have the confidence in God that you would be willing to share what you know, what you believe, who you are (both good and bad) with others that are seeking to know God?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Discuss vs. Argue - Part 3

Over the last couple days I have covered different issues I have been considering lately when it comes to discussing or arguing with others.  I reference Biblical topics but the concepts can also be used in every day life.  Biblical topics tend to be what is conflicting in a lot of conversations I have been having lately so I have had a tendency to lean that direction, not to mention by blog has been mostly about my beliefs anyway.

Today I want to start out with a passage of scripture.  It's a bit longer than what I normally would share, but I think it speaks a lot to this situation.

 Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, 9 for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. 10 For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. 11 It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. 14 Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” 20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. 24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also. 10 Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! 12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.    - 2 Timothy 2:7-3:17

I figure I can probably go on and on trying to explain this passage, but I imagine you probably get it. We have a few crucial things that we need to focus on, but ultimately we need to live for what God has called us to.   When we argue, we cause others pain and destract each other from what our true focus should.  

Perhaps, consider this: Why are you arguing anyway?  Is it to be right?  Is it to be a better "Christian" than your neighbor?  Have you actually won anything if you "win" the argument?  Perhaps we can consider discussing topics with others as a way to sharpen each other, but arguing results in little good.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Discuss vs Argue - Part 2

Perceived reality. It's very much a challenging concept.  We each have our own, but rarely are will willing to allow others to have their own. 

People perceive life differently.  We each have our own unique set of circumstances that make up how we few the world we live in.  Often times even the ones closest to us see the world a little different than us and that being the case one can only imagine how different it get's as the circle of influence gets larger.

Take money for example.  For some $40k a year is a lot of money.  For others, that's one months salary. Many live on less than $1 a day ($365 a year) and for many of us, that wouldn't even last 2 weeks. Our perception of money and how much it takes to live is drastically varied from person to person; town to town; state to state; country to country.

If we understand that so well in some areas of our lives, why are we unwilling to allow others to have a different reality than us when in comes to following God.  I'm not saying that we through all doctrine out the window, nor am I suggesting that we let people believe whatever they want to believe.  What I am saying is, similarly to my blog yesterday, that we need to try and understand other people and how they perceive reality before we completely write off what they believe.

I know a great deal of people who have always lived by the rules.  They find comfort in knowing they have general guidelines to follow and in turn they can keep their heart in check because they have drawn lines in the sand to keep them within bounds and give them some control over their lives.  For instance, the Bible says not to get drunk so they don't drink.  There might be several reasons why they adhere so tight to that rule.  For some it could be that they have an addictive personality and want to prevent themselves from getting addicted, others they may have family that has abused alcohol, yet others it could be that they have always been taught it was wrong so they stick to their convictions.

In the same area, we have other Christians who partake nightly, weekly, or monthly in the consumption of alcohol.  They abide by the general concept of don't get drunk, but don't believe they have to fully abstain; after all Jesus turned water into wine.

One could argue it's all about how you read the Bible, but I would suggest that even how we read the Bible is often influenced by our perception of reality.  Try to read a few stories from the Bible and picture them in your head.  Now think about how those images in your head came to be.  What are you using for reference points to know how to imagine what is going on.  Do you understand the culture in which the story was written in well enough to formulate an image the is accurate or is your perception of reality effecting it.

I say all of this, because I have found that often times when we argue with someone we haven't taken the time to try and see what they see and how they perceive reality.  Sometimes changing one piece of reality could really shake them to their core. Perhaps it is better left to God to show them new things.  Perhaps it's God has shown them things He has yet to show you. 

There are several basic concepts that are without a doubt true Biblical truths that Christians have to agree on.  Other concepts really aren't that important and ultimately it could come down to the fact that none of us really know.  We might like to think that we do and we may even have a lot of research to back up our beliefs, but we have to leave room to say, "I could be wrong," "I was wrong," or "I'm still learning."  After all, a God that we can fully understand is a God that we have created in our minds.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Discuss vs Argue - Part 1

Over the last number of years, I have been introduced to a variety of people who have challenged my personal views on Christianity.  I admit, I have learned a great deal from them and about myself in the process.  On the other hand, I have seen a number of people cling fast to their beliefs because of what they have been taught.

The point I want to cover today, is the concept of truly discussing something rather than arguing about it. I remember a number of years ago listening to some college students say "define your terms, when you want to discuss." Two of his friends were in an arguing and getting a little heated.  He stopped them and had them define their terms and come to find out they were arguing the same point just using different words.

We all know the English language is not the greatest language in the world. In fact, sometimes it is downright confusing.  The point is, unless we define our terms and really strive to fully understand what the other person is saying we can often be trying to argue a point that doesn't need to be argued.  Sometimes it is a matter of cultural context.  Sometimes it's a matter of perception.  Sometimes it's a matter of using different words to say the same thing, but words carrying different meanings to different people.

I think it is important to try to fully understand what the other person is saying prior to arguing with them.  I have found this true in my marriage and it's amazing how looking back a lot of issues could have been resolved so much easier.  If that is true when it comes to someone who is so close to you, why then wouldn't it be true when trying to discuss something with someone who you don't know as well.  Without really knowing them, you have no clue what value or meanings your words might hold for them.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Peace in Obedience

I mentioned the other day that God wants our obedience more than He wants our self deprivation.  The more I thought about that the more I realized, it is in those times of obedience that we can truly have a peace that passes understanding. I think back over the last 9 years that I have been married. It is in the times that I was obedient to what God had asked of me that I found myself having a peace that under any other circumstance I wouldn't necessarily have had.

However, the adverse is also true. 

Has there ever been a time in your life where it seemed as though peace was no where to be found, even when things were going good?  I wonder if sometimes the lack of peace comes from a conflict between what we want to do (what may seem easy or not important to God) and what God wants from us.  Perhaps many of the times in our lives when there really isn't peace in hearts are times in which we are truly choosing to either be disobedient to what God has asked from us or we are living in a lack of faith.

It amazes me sometimes at how a simple act of obedience can effect one's ability to connect with God and leave in peace.  For me, sometimes I don't even fully understand that I have loss that peace until I begin to regain it. I can go periods of time trying to figure out what is missing and then when I finally reach that place of peace, I can begin to understand what it was that was missing and can begin to look back at where I missed the mark.

As I think about how all of this plays out in my life, I can't help but see where God had His hand in all that goes on in my life.  I certainly believe that He allows me to have free will and that I make my own choices, but the perfecting timing of events in my life, show me at least, that God has His hands on our lives and works to allow us opportunities to grow and to deepen our relationship with Him.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Church Progression

Over the past year or so I have spent quite a bit of time contemplating what a church should look like, how it should function and the mission of the church as a whole. Numerous times I have come across materials that speak to the progression of the people of the church and how important it is.  One author and pastor went so far as to say that in his church if people weren't progressing he would confront them about it and has ultimately asked people to leave over the issue.

What do I mean by progress?  I mean moving people from consumers to followers to doers.  This can have all sorts of implications and can look like different things to different people.  However, I would imagine most of us would agree that most churches have an issue with people who just want to be consumers and believe that becoming part of a church gets them benefits or what many call Country Club Christians.

Country Club Christians only go to church because of what they can gain, for the fellowship (which isn't always a bad thing) and because it makes them part of the in-crowd.   Fortunately, for us, being a Christian doesn't carry as many social "perks" as it once did in our culture.  However, there are a great deal of people that still fall into this category.

So, back to progress.  Moving people from consumers to followers isn't always that easy.  Many pastors try to just speak to the fact and call people to be more than just consumers, but few truly require or push people to become more. 

Becoming a follower can look like joining a small group, participating in a Sunday School class, or engaging in a Bible study that requires you to be open about who you are and your walk with God. A follower connects with fellow followers and grows from being a consumer and just attending to being someone willing to grow deeper in their faith and earnestly seek to find what God has called them to in their lives.  They become followers of Christ rather than just a consumer of a sermon and worship music.

Once people become followers, it is time to start calling them to leave beyond themselves.  People need to progress from just learning and engaging with each other to using their talents and gifts to serve others.  It can be challenging to get people to move to this step, because it requires a greater commitment to something other than themselves than either of the other two categories.  It asks them to give of their time and possibly money, which many hold so dear. 

It is the doers that will bring in more of the consumers and the doers that can set an example and teach people how to be more and how to progress from one stage to the next.  Without the progression from one stage to the next the church will end up with a bunch of baby Christians who are still taking a bottle from the pastor.  Have you ever seen a 15 year old drinking from a bottle?  Talk about awkward.  Why then would we allow 15 year old (spiritually) Christians to still drink from a bottle rather than moving them to being the one that hands out bottles to the true baby Christians.

How is your church doing?  Does your church have a way to track the progression of people?  Does it truly ask people to progress? 

Have you ever considered that you will get what you require from people?  If you don't require much, you won't get much.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Preperation and Obediance

Life is about being intentional. However, sometimes, your intentions don't always turn out the way you intend for them to.  Sometimes it's about your obedience rather than actually ending in results you anticipated.

Last week I was driving to work when I heard someone on the radio say, "God is more interested in your obedience than your sacrifice."  I began to ponder that for a while and how that really plays itself out in my life. I think of times when I would "give up" something believing it would honor God in my self denial.  Then I think of other times when I was truly obedient to what He was calling me to and often times they didn't turn out the way I expected, but rather have developed into something I couldn't have even imagined.

Sometimes I think we believe God has called us to a life of complete self deprivation. We, as Christians, can easily slip into following man made rules or turning God's laws into something they are not and we miss out on what He is offering us.  We begin to focus on what we can and can't do rather than keeping our focus on Him and what He CAN and DOES do.

I would love to say that I have a perfect illustration for this, but I don't have a short one.  I think my life IS an illustration of this.  I can look back at times where I missed the mark and times where I hit it.  Many of the times I hit it, the outcome was far from my expectations, but because I was obedient I was prepared for what was to come and things turned out for the best.  I also think of times where I denied myself and tried to do my own thing without being obedient and while I may have still had encounters and experiences with God along the way, often I found that until I was truly ready to be obedient again I just felt stuck.  I could sense that something was off and that things weren't as they should be.

Perhaps it's time to begin trying to intentionally be obedient to God.  Perhaps we need to listen closer to what He is asking of us.  Perhaps it's time to reflect on what He HAS asked of us and begin by being obedient in those areas so we are able to hear Him when He calls us to something greater.

Monday, June 9, 2014


Do you respect people with conviction?

I have been thinking a lot lately about how a lot of people I know have differently Biblical beliefs.  Growing up, it seemed that churches were about unifying their beliefs (being of one mind) and I never really questioned much of what I had been taught.  Now that I have gotten older, I realize there are few things I was taught that I now disagree with.  Many, if not all, of my primary beliefs are the same, but there are a few areas outside the basics that I see differently.

As I think about how diverse churches have become and how many churches now use their differences to separate themselves from other believers, I begin to wonder how and if churches will ever be able to unite once again for a common cause.

I've seen churches where it seems like there is little conviction.  People are pretty much allowed to believe whatever they want, teach their own views, and they can be as spot on or far off the mark as they so desire. On the other hand, I have seen churches that are so staunch in their beliefs that if you don't agree with everything they believe, they consider you a sinner and all but condemn you to Hell.

My thought for today is about how I respect people with conviction.  In a world where it is often a "whatever works for you," mentality, I have a deep respect for those who hold to their conviction and share it with others, but also respect and love other people enough to know when to share and when it isn't the best time.

I believe that if churches are ever going to unite, they have to have that attitude.  As the old saying goes, "if you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything."  I think that is true when it comes to our walk with Christ as well.  We have to know what we believe and be able to explain why.  We also have to be willing in some cases to be wrong, agree to disagree, and lovingly share our conviction with other people.