Challenging believers in Jesus to think and act based on Bible truth.

Think And Act 10.30.13 – Why We Shouldn’t Focus On The Negative

It is very tempting to focus on the negative.  Let me start locally.  Akron is a city that find itself in great turmoil. There is a lot of crime, some of it in my own neighborhood.  Things seem unsettled, certainly it’s unnerving, and there is plenty of evidence to prove that.

So I should panic, right? Moving out in fear seems to be a great option. Sound sensible?

I’m not here to criticize anyone for where they choose to live.  I want to challenge the thinking that because bad things are happening, we should panic.  The answer to the question about moving? It’s not for us. As believers, our sense of call is way bigger than the negative going on around us. Here are a few reasons we shouldn’t focus so much on the negative around us.

1. We can’t escape the negative. 

Once the world was perfect. Then, Adam and Eve sinned. And one of their first two offspring killed the other.  I’m pretty sure the world has been a messed up place from the beginning.  Sin is everywhere. Romans 3:23 clearly states that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Even if they have a lot of money.

Nice big houses and pretty streets may be a bit safer, but the people are just as crooked. Crime rates may be lower elsewhere, but the sin is just as wicked. Guaranteed. “Desperate Housewives” is popular for a reason.

2. Calling is bigger than danger.

This is very Biblical. Character after character (ultimately Jesus) pursued God’s design for their lives despite great danger. It seems like when you have a strong calling and a desire to tell the truth, danger is going to be a part of it somehow.  Not always, to be sure, but there’s no way the two are mutually exclusive.  Missionaries all the world over put themselves (and, gasp, their families) at great danger in the name of telling the truth about Jesus.

We MUST ask ourselves about our calling. Might God call us to live in a place that feels a bit unsafe? Jesus did. Jeremiah did. Paul did. I’m not saying everyone has to live in dangerous areas to be considered spiritual. What I’m saying is that because there is negativity and danger doesn’t necessarily mean we should shy away. When I think of the multiple murders in our neighborhood, attempted murder on our street, multiple break-ins, seemingly crazy crimes fueled by hatred , large fights at 2:00 a.m. outside our window, theft, etc (this is inclusive of the 12 years we’ve lived here)., I remember verses like these:

Matthew 10:28 (ESV): And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

3. The criminals will make good evangelists.

The goal isn’t to control, avoid, compartmentalize, or marginalize the criminals.  Certainly the wicked bent on ill intent should face the law.  But, there is no way we should avoid praying, engaging, interacting, and trying to find an opportunity to share. One of the Bible’s greatest evangelists was a criminal – Saul of Tarsus, known to us as the apostle Paul. If no one evangelizes people in trouble, they never get the hope of Jesus.

There was an incident over the weekend where a 13 year old young man stole a truck, went on a brief joy ride, and rammed a police car. Praise God the whole incident ended with no serious injuries. But, the young man is in trouble.  Do we simply read a story and shake our head? No, we pray for his salvation. We pray that God will work in our city, our region, our globe, and show us His glory in people’s lives. We’ve seen some seemingly out of control lives dramatically changed for the better because of Jesus, and so we press on, believing God can work in any situation and any life.

It can definitely be the purpose of God to use the outwardly dangerous and hardened to glorify Himself. The outwardly sinful often are the most ripe for inward transformation.

 

Think. These are a few thoughts about why I think we should focus on breathing hope rather than focusing on the negative. Would you ever be willing to risk your comfort if God called you to live in a dangerous place?

Act. Pray. Seek. And, no matter where you live, smash the idols of comfort and be ready to lay down your life in service to Jesus!

Tuesday Rambling 10.29.13

Rambling, Bumbling, Stumbling . . . whatever! Here we go . . .

Gotcha Day

  • It has been one year to the day that we adopted Jocelyn.  She has been a big blessing in our lives.  We know she has a long way to go, but we know she is loved and she is a meaningful part of our lives!
  • We are grateful for everyone who has supported in thought, time, prayer, etc. throughout this journey with her.
  • Someone recently asked me why we ever decided to get involved in fostering with the possibility of adopting. I replied, “God.”

Spiritual Concern

  • I am most saddened  when I observe others try to navigate their lives without prayer, God’s Word, and God’s people.  Those three things will never solve everyone’s problems, but commitments in those areas (together) will give any human being a support system to adequately and graciously navigate problems.
  • I think it is good to know about negative things going on in society, so we can be aware. But, negative things are not the filter through which we should view things. Probably more to come later in the week on this.

Bible Truth

  • Love God, love others. This is a famous command Jesus gave.  But, it’s two commands. To separate these commands and focus more on one than the other is disastrous. Chew on that one.

Neat Experience

  • I went to a lunch/workshop with Josh, our church’s youth director last Friday.  It was put on in conjunction with a Christian concert and the focus was worship music and singing in church.
  • We got to sit at a table for lunch with Keith Getty, who has written several well known modern hymns such as “In Christ Alone” and “Speak, O Lord”.

Sports

  • Looks like my prediction of Red Sox in 6 games might come true – unfortunately.
  • I think it’s realistic that the Browns are 6-6 after their next four games.  Bold, I know, but I’ll be surprised if they don’t go at least 2-2 over the next four.  That would be 5-7.

Monday Challenge 10.28.13

There is no doubt you will find these articles challenging.  Check them out. Whichever is clicked most, I will highlight on Friday in my regular Friday Feature post.

Link of the Week

Abortion: Why we shouldn’t abort dying babies.

Question: Which on this list of 20 reasons made you think the most?

Christian Faith

1. Missions: A missionary in Asia was brutally murdered. You may not want to, but I challenge you to read this.

Question: Does this cause you to pray more for persecuted Christians?

2. Bible: Some great thoughts on how to care more about the Bible.

Question: Look at point #1: do you do this?

3. Speech: Here is a great prayer that our mouths be used effectively.

Question: I’m challenged most by “Let our speech be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, that we may always bring forth good things out of the good treasure of our heart.” What about you?

4. Family: Some thoughts on having a porn free family.

Question: Is this something you take seriously?

Parenting:

Should you post about the kids, or take a pass?

Question: When was the list time you gave this some thought? Have you ever thought twice about posting things?

Friday Feature 10.25.13 – What Many Teens Admit to Doing

I just don’t feel like making a title out of this.  But, if you’re a teen reading this or a parent of teens, it will do you well to add this bit of information to your databank for discernment.

The most clicked article from Monday’s post reveals a disturbing truth: Many teens admit coercing other teens into sexual activity.

Please read this article – it’s informative and helpful for anyone seeking to have a greater awareness.

Here are a few of my own comments:

1. Don’t be surprised.

It’s not like there’s been a big secret about the attempt to revolutionize sexual morals in our country. There should be no surprise to find sexually deviant behavior. Yes, it’s sad. But it’s not a time to sit on the sidelines and cry.

2. No different.

Don’t judge these teens – they’re lost like you and me.  Lost in sin and emotions and very few people are telling them how to conduct themselves in a way that honors God and keeps them safe. So, as repulsive as it is to read stats like this, pray for the teens guilty of this. Their sin is no greater than anything you’ve ever done that must be brought to the cross of Christ for forgiveness.

3. It’s never the victim’s fault.

Slap a big “NEVER” on this. Even someone who kisses someone against their will (as described in the article) is taking advantage of that person.  It is never the wrong thing to leave this kind of relationship or seek help to do so. And if it happens to you, it’s NEVER your fault.

4. You CAN do something.

There is no law against influencing people for positive values, a healthy identity found in Jesus, relationships, and the good old truth that it’s best if you wait to get married before you share your body with someone else sexually.  Please do not hesitate to do that and to lovingly speak truth into the lives of any young people you may know.

Think. Do these stats matter to you? If you have children, does it bother you that something like this may happen to your child?

Act. Speak. Influence. Pray. And above all, if you have kids at these ages, talk about who they’re hanging out with and what situations are worth avoiding.

Think and Act 10.23.13 – How To Value Key Relationships

I spent from Sunday night through Tuesday afternoon with a group of guys I have hung out with for a long time.  It may seem like a waste to start every Tuesday morning with the same group of guys over, oh, about the last eight years. And if you knew them, you’d have all the more reason to think that!

Seriously, here’s a short post about valuing key relationships.

1. Identify them.

Seems dumb, right? But, do you know who your key relationships are? I hope you’d say your family (spouse, children, grandchildren, etc.). After that, who would make your list? Key business contacts? Friends from church, or the past? Neighbors? Before you can value those key relationships, it’s good to know who they are. Not all relationships are meaningful at the same level. It’s good to know who your key relationships are just as much as who they aren’t.

Ask yourself: who could you least afford to live without? This should help identify those key people.

2. Value them spiritually.

Having things in common with people is one thing, but as a believer you should value your friends and family spiritually. Teach the Bible to your kids, take a spiritual retreat with a close group, pray for each other and stay in touch regularly regarding how to pray. Remember, these aren’t flimsy Facebook relationships. These are real, meaningful, people relationships. Value the people spiritually whether they are believers or not.

3. Really know them.

Really. Know them. Beyond how to pray, really get to know someone.  This usually means knowing their struggles and how you can support them in their struggles.  Vulnerability is key.  The willingness to add a burden to your life is important too. If you can’t take on someone’s burdens, don’t ask them to take on yours (unless they’re a counselor and you’re paying them!)

4. Encourage them.

If there isn’t anyone in your life who you’re encouraging, look in the mirror.  Sounds harsh, but it is very selfish to NOT encourage the key relationships. Be willing to point out good things. Build people up.

You think people will want to be around you if you don’t do this? Only if you have something they want.  And then, it’s not a key, valued relationship. It’s a matter of convenience.

Ask yourself: When was the last time you specifically encouraged key people in your life? How have you been blessed by people who encourage you?

Think. Who are the key relationships.

Act. Based on the thoughts shared here, how could you be more effective in these relationships?