Thursday, March 27, 2014

A World Vision UPDATE

I shared the other day the news that World Vision had adopted a new policy regarding acceptance of same-sex marriage. Well, it seems as though the reaction from the Christian community has made an impact upon their decision. Just yesterday, the board of directors reversed their decision. Here are some of the comments from president Richard Stearns.
"The last couple of days have been painful. We feel pain and a broken heart for the confusion we caused for many friends who saw this policy change as a strong reversal of World Vision's commitment to biblical authority, which it was not intended to be. 
Rather than creating more unity [among Christians], we created more division, and that was not the intent. Our board acknowledged that the policy change we made was a mistake...and we believe that [World Vision supporters] helped us to see that with more clarity...and we're asking you to forgive us for that mistake."
Now the question remains:

How Should The Christian Community Respond To This Reversed Statement?

On the one hand, this reversal in their policy stinks. At some point, I wonder if the amount of supporters lost in those two days will ever be revealed. I have to think it is significant. I personally know many people who canceled their support. Therefore, this reversal stinks that it is not based on conviction of truth, but on financial reasons.

But on the other hand, I can't read their heart. Neither can you. People throw around the "Don't judge, lest you be judged" (Matt. 7) all the time. They use it for all sorts of excuses for why we are not to give evaluative statements on the lifestyles and morals of people (for example, I heart his all the time in the same-sex marriage debate). But let me encourage you to think that THIS IS EXACTLY what Jesus is talking about. We cannot judge motives or heart issues. We can and should judge external things, but we cannot and should not judge internal things. 

And since, we cannot see their heart, we need to accept their forgiveness. We need to forgive them for their initial crazy decision and support them that they have come back to a more biblical stance on biblical authority and the family. The last statement in John Piper's blog that I linked to on Tuesday said this:
"I pray they repent and turn back to their more faithful roots."
That was my prayer at the moment. And it seems as though it has happened. Let's not worry about the reasoning right now. Let us rejoice that they have changed their stance on this very important issue. 

If you were thinking of canceling your account with them, would you please reconsider. If you did cancel your account with them, would you reconsider what it might look like to sign back up with them, for the sake of the children.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Noah the Movie

In case you haven't heard, there is a new movie releasing this Friday on the biblical story of Noah. 

Christian, please don't waste your time on this movie! 

Please do not support this film. I have not seen the movie and I do not plan on seeing it. While the trailers look interesting, they do raise a few questions as I watched one with my boys. 

I could go into a lot of reasons why the Christian community should not support this film. But let me give you just one. One reason from the voice of the director of the movie. Director Darren Aronofsky, who is a vocal atheist, has said that this movie is "the least biblical biblical film ever made." Do you want more reason to not drop $10 to go see it. An atheist producer is proud of the fact that he has taken a biblical storyline and made it anti-biblical! Enough said in my book. 

But there is an alternative. Ray Comfort, along with Living Waters Ministries, has released a short movie this week on the story of Noah. It will not have the flash of the Hollywood production. It will not have action. But it tells the story of the Bible. It explains the meaning of life and how to have eternal life. It is worth your time much more than seeing the Hollywood production. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A World-Vision RoundUp

You may have heard the news by now, but yesterday World Vision came out to change their policy on hiring homosexuals. Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision, said in a Christianity Today article yesterday:
"Changing the employee conduct policy to allow someone in a same-sex marriage who is a professed believer in Jesus Christ to work for us makes our policy more consistent with our practice on other divisive issues. It also allows us to treat all of our employees the same way: abstinence outside of marriage, and fidelity within marriage."
As a long time supporter of World Vision and the pastor of a church that continues to support this ministry, I have lots of opinions on this matter. And while I do not have time today to express all of them in print, I have taken a few moments to read some who have. And so, I am linking to a few of my favorite articles by some trusted men, who are thinking deeply about the significance of this decision. I completely agree with the conclusion of John Piper's article:
"Therefore, for the sake of Christ and his call to true compassion, World Vision's decision is tragic. I pray they will repent and turn back to their more faithful roots."

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Worship Initiative

I have kept it no secret that I appreciate the music of Shane & Shane. Just the other day, I noticed they started a KickStarter program for what they are calling The Worship Initiative. A KickStarter program is a way to raise money for a special cause. This is what they say about this special initiative:
"Our mission is to launch an online resource to empower musicians to LEAD. A place that will be a JOY for you to dive deep into what you are gifted and called to be. And, we need God's grace and your help to make it happen. We have been working diligently for months; recording songs, making videos, and writing content that we hope will deeply encourage the Church."
Watch this short, creative video on what it is all about. In addition, you can find information on their KickStarter page that indicates they have reached their original goal and have now set a new goal. If they reach their new goal, they will be writing, producing, and releasing a Psalms 2 album. I'm certainly in for that. 

If you are a music leader or simply love worship music, you might want to check this out. I am going to back this project, maybe you would feel led to back it as well!

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Bible in 100+ Days (Week 5 Summary)

I am continuing my journey of reading the Bible in just over three months. It is proving to become more and more difficult to discipline myself to do it. 

Reading: 1 Kings 8 -- 1 Chronicles 23

Okay, full disclosure. I have fallen behind this week. I can make all sorts of excuses, but I just have not taken the time necessary to be disciplined. As of Monday, I am only in 2 Kings 15, which means I am now three days behind. I will do my best to get caught up this next week. 

Thoughts from Week 5: The main thought I had this past week as I read (only a few days worth of reading) is how human and fallen the kings of Israel and Judah really were before God. And beyond them, the prophets and leaders God used to bring judgment upon the kings of Israel who walked away from Him were not perfect. There were very few good Kings. This was a very dark time in the nation of Israel & Judah as king after king moved away from the Lord.

But every now and then, God would raise up a king that would follow Him and seek His ways. They are the light amidst the darkness. In these times, we see a glimpse of what God will do someday in the nation of Israel through Jesus Christ, the greatest son of David. What all these kings can't do and won't do, Jesus does as the perfect King of Israel. 

Reading for Week 6: Here is the schedule for the coming week. If you want to see the entire plan, you can find it HERE.

  • March 17th -- 1 Chronicles 24 - 2 Chronicles 7
  • March 18th -- 2 Chronicles 8-23
  • March 19th -- 2 Chronicles 24-36
  • March 20th -- Ezra 1-10
  • March 21st -- Nehemiah 1-13
  • March 22nd -- Nehemiah 14 - Job 7
  • March 23rd -- Meditation Day
Keep reading. I hope you are not as far behind as I am, but if you are, catch up. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis

A few months ago, some friends called inviting us to join them at a play rendition of C. S. Lewis' The Great Divorce. Tonight is that night. In anticipation of going to this play, I thought I would be helpful to read the book since I have never read it before. 

The Great Divorce is an allegorical story fancifully told by Lewis on the separation between Heaven and Hell. Or maybe not the separation, but what a separation might seem like. His point in this is not to paint the picture of what it will be like once someone leaves this earth. He is very clear in the preface of the book that this is a fantasy. He says,
"I beg readers to remember that this is a fantasy. It has of course--or I intended it to have--a moral. But the transmortal conditions are solely an imaginative supposal: they are not even a guess or a speculation at what may actually await us. The last thing I wish is to arouse factual curiosity about the details of the after-world" (x).
This is important to remember as you read this book. If you were to take it literally, then it would become very confusing as the spirits walk on grass and water that is beautiful but hard on the feet. The main part of the story is a busload of spirits that journey from hell to heaven (or it appears so) and are forced to deal with whether they want to remain in hell or go to heaven. To be honest, there were parts of this book that made me squirm until I reached the end, which made everything come into view (but I refuse to mention the end of the book as it will ruin it for anyone who has not read it).

In many ways, I find writing a review on this book very difficult. Do I mention the different people that are mentioned as struggling with this separation between heaven and hell? Do I talk about Lewis, who writes from the first person who is trying to figure this thing out himself? After just reading it one time, I'm not fully sure I grasp what he is trying to do in this book. 

On this bus ride between heaven and hell, he meets many people that struggle with one thing or another. One of the main things that impacted me about their stories are that there always seems to be an excuse as to why staying in heaven isn't a good idea for them. They don't want to give up a certain thing. They don't feel like its real. Or they don't feel loved. And even when they express love or joy, those that are unwilling to make the journey are always painted as ones who haven't understood love or joy. Their view is selfish and shallow.

I am excited to see the play tonight. I look forward to see how they portray the characters and their struggle as they look at heaven and hell. I am hopeful that through the conversations with our friends, and the dramatic interpretation of the cast members, I will understand this book a bit more. I will try to post a recap of it at some point. But one thing is for sure. Lewis was masterful at creating stories that raises curiosity. For that, I am grateful. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

On Being A Pastor's Kid

The Pastor's Kid by Barnabas Piper is a new book I am really looking forward to reading. I have been told it is difficult to grow up in the shadow of being the PK. I wonder if its that much harder to be John Piper's son. I hope as I read this book it will shed light on what it means to shepherd my children well in these years as they have to live with the reality of being a PK.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Bible in 100+ Days (Week 4 Summary)

I am continuing in my journey of reading the Bible in just about three months. As I have in past weeks, I have been falling behind a little, but then usually get caught back up. I have enjoyed the discipline that is needed to do this reading plan. I hope you have as well.

Reading: Judges 16 -- 1 Kings 7

Thoughts from Week 4: Much of the reading this week had to do with the war and battles. It began with the nation of Israel not having a king, progressed through the mixed up life of King Saul, and then through the blessed life of King David. There is so much that impacted me in this section of Scripture, but let me just point out one thing. 

After Saul had died and David had been made king, David makes the decision to bring the Ark of the Covenant up to Jerusalem. We have a very particular account recorded in 2 Samuel 6 where the oxen which carried the cart that contained the Ark stumbled and the Ark was about to fall. When that happened, a certain man by the name of Uzzah reached out his hand to keep the Ark from falling to the ground and he is struck dead by the Lord. At first glance it seems rather strange that God would kill him for trying to protect the Ark of the Lord. But in reality, what he failed to realize (and I'm sure everyone got the lesson) is that there is more dirtiness in his hands and body than in the dirt. 

From that moment on, it appears as if the people took the trip very seriously for we are told that they sacrificed an ox and fattened animal six steps along the way. This may have been only after the first six steps or after every six steps. Either way, the point is well taken. They took the carrying of the Ark seriously because the Lord commanded they do so. 

I wonder how often we take the things of the Lord that seriously. Maybe a quick reminder to think more deeply about His things. 

Reading for Week 5: This is the schedule for this next week. If you want to see the entire plan, you can find it HERE.

  • March 10th -- 1 Kings 8-16
  • March 11th -- 1 Kings 17 - 2 Kings 4
  • March 12th -- 2 Kings 5-15
  • March 13th -- 2 Kings 16-25
  • March 14th -- 1 Chronicles 1-9
  • March 15th -- 1 Chronicles 10-23
  • March 16th -- Meditation Day

If you are not following along with me on this reading plan, I hope you are taking some time each day to read the Word of God.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Absolute Sovereignty

This morning, I am taking time to study for my sermon on Sunday from Matthew 14:22-33. It is commonly referred to as "Jesus walks on the Water." In my studies, I came across this quote from J. C. Ryle on the absolute sovereignty of God. It's good. Read it and bask in the thought that God is in full control of all things. 
"We see him 'walking on the sea,' as if it was dry land. Those angry waves which tossed the ship of his disciples to and fro, obey the Son of God, and become a solid floor under his feet. That liquid surface, which was agitated by the least breath of wind, bears up the feet of our Redeemer, like a rock. To our poor, weak minds, the whole event is utterly  incomprehensible. The picture of two feet walking on the sea, is said by Doddridge to have been the Egyptian emblem of an impossible thing; the man of science will tell us, that for material flesh and blood to walk on water is a physical impossibility: enough for us to know that it was done. Enough for us to remember, that to him who created the seas at the beginning, it must have been perfectly easy to walk over their waves when he pleased. 
There is encouragement here for all true Christians. Let them know that there is nothing created which is not under Christ's control: 'All things serve him.' He may allow his people to be tried for a season, and to be tossed to and fro by storms of trouble; he may be later than they wish in coming to their aid, and not draw near till the 'fourth watch of the night:' but never let them forget that winds, and waves, and storms are all Christ's servants. They cannot move without Christ's permission. 'the Lord on high is mightier than the voice of many waters, yea than the mighty waves of the sea' (Psa. 93:4). Are we ever tempted to cry with Jonah, 'The floods compass me about: all thy billows and they waves pass over me'? (Jon. 2:3). Let us remember they are 'his' billows. Let us wait patiently. We may yet see Jesus coming to us, and 'walking on the sea.'"

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Are You "Proud & Defensive" or "Broken & Vulnerable"?

As I was studying for my sermon last week, I came across a portion of a chart by Peter Scazzero in his book, The Emotionally Healthy Church. It is a chart that compares and contrasts the "Proud & Defensive" with the "Broken & Vulnerable." As I read through this chart, I was really challenged to evaluate which side I am on more often than not. How about you?

I have not read the entire book. I honestly do not know much of Peter Scazzero. But I really appreciated this chart as it compares these two polar opposites.

Proud & Defensive

Broken & Vulnerable
I am guarded and defensive about my imperfections and flaws.

I am transparent and weak; I disclose myself to appropriate others.
I focus on the “positive,” strong, successful parts of myself.
I am aware of the weak, needy, limited parts of who I am, and I freely admit failure.
I am highly “offendable” and defensive.

I am approachable and open to input.
I naturally focus first on the flaws, mistakes, and sins of others.
I am aware of my own brokenness. I have compassion and am slow to judge others.

I give my opinion a lot, even when I am not asked.

I am slow to speak and quick to listen.
I don’t get close to people.

I am open, soft, and curious about others.

I keep people from really seeing what is going on inside of me.

I delight in showing vulnerability and weakness, that Christ’s power may be seen.

I like to control most situations.
I can let go and give people opportunity to earn my trust.

I have to be right in order to feel strong and good.
I understand that God’s strength reveals itself in admitting mistakes, weakness, and statements that “I was wrong.”

I blame others
I take responsibility for myself and speak mostly in the “I,” not the “you” or “they.”
I often hold grudges and rarely ask forgiveness
I don’t hold people in debt to me, and am able to ask others for forgiveness as needed.

When I am offended, I write people off.
When I am offended, I ask questions to explore what happened.

I deny, avoid, or withdraw from painful realities.
I honestly look at the truth underneath the surface, even when it hurts.

I give answers and explanations to those in pain, hoping to fix or change them.
I am present with people in their pain, and am comfortable with mystery and with saying, “I don’t know.”

I have to prove I am right when wronged.

I can let things go.
I am demanding.
I assert myself respectfully and kindly.

I am highly self-conscious and concerned about how others perceive me.

I am more aware of God and others than the impression I am making.

I see people as resources to be used for God.

I see people as gifts to be loved and enjoyed.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Bible in 100+ Days (Week 3 Summary)

I am in the middle of reading through the Bible in just over three months. There are many aspects of this reading plan that I love, although, it is difficult. I have fallen behind a few times in the past week and have had to work hard at getting caught up. When the reading is at least 45 minutes a day and you fall a few days behind; well, I bet you can do the math. But I'm caught up and here are some thoughts from the previous week.

Reading: Numbers 33 - Judges 15

Thoughts from Week 3: I really like the book of Deuteronomy. It expressly teaches us the blessings for those that listen to the words of the Lord and the curses that come to those that refuse to listen. These blessings and curses are then played out throughout the books of Joshua and Judges as the people of Israel go in to conquer their land. When they listen to the Lord, the Lord blesses them. When they fail to listen to the Lord, they are cursed.

The book of Judges is very interesting. When the people of Israel did what was right in their own eyes, they moved away from the commands and laws of God. Then God would use a foreign nation to judge them, bring them to their knees to the point the people would repent of their sins. Then God would show mercy upon mercy on them. But then after some time, they would fall deeper into their sin. This cycle of sin, judgment, repentance, mercy is seen throughout this book.

As I think of that cycle, I am humbled. I still sin. I still continue to make decisions every day that walk away from God's plan for me. Yet, His mercy keeps coming my way because the judgment has fallen upon Jesus on the cross. It is His mercy that moves me to repent of that sin. Again, like last week, I am moved to be thankful for the gospel as I read the early stages of the life of Israel.

Reading for Week 4: This is the schedule for the next week. If you want to see the entire schedule, you can find it HERE.

  • March 3rd -- Judges 16 - 1 Samuel 2
  • March 4th -- 1 Samuel 3-15
  • March 5th -- 1 Samuel 16-28
  • March 6th -- 1 Samuel 29 - 2 Samuel 12
  • March 7th -- 2 Samuel 13-22
  • March 8th -- 2 Samuel 23 - 1 Kings 7
  • March 9th -- Meditation Day

Keep reading. I really appreciate the feedback in person and on Facebook for those that are reading with me. Don't get behind and if you do, work hard at catching up.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Never Once by Matt Redman

From time to time as I am studying on Sunday nights, reflecting upon the message I am preaching the next morning, a song comes to mind that really becomes meaningful to me. Tonight it is Matt Redman's Never Once. Please listen closely to the words of this song as it reflects my heart tonight.

Do you want to hear why Redman wrote this song?