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

Monday Challenge 3.31.14 – Idolizing Sports, Filling Your Life With Joy

Last Monday of March. Time to be challenged.

Link of the Week

As it is opening day for baseball, it is worth sharing this piece about idolizing sports from David Platt. Very challenging for all sports fans.

Question: Would someone be able to tell who or what your God is?

The Christian Faith

1. Ever wonder how to fill your life with joy? This should help you think.

Question: What robs your joy and how can you cut it?

2. Wives, here are five things to pray for your husband.

Question: Ladies – which is the hardest?

3. What a pastor wishes his congregation had been told. As a pastor, I get some of this, and some of it, well…I’m still chewing on.

Question: If you’re not a pastor, what is the most helpful point here?

4. Stories of salvation are very encouraging. This one really challenges us to never give up!

Friday Feature 3.28.14 – Important Religious Liberty Case

Each week I feature an article from Monday’s post. Here is the article I will feature this Friday:

The most consequential religious liberty case in a generation.

Here are a few additional thoughts:

1. I definitely think this is important.

I don’t want anyone to be forced into doing things that are against their consciences. This is significant because it strikes at the root of the freedom we have as Americans.

These cases are significant also because the government is toying with the lives of many employees who earn a good living at respectable companies.  The agenda behind doing this seems horrifying to me.

2. My ability to function as a Christian isn’t tied to freedom.

While these cases are important, we shouldn’t attach our hopes and dreams to them. That is reserved for the gospel, which grows and flourishes in cultures where freedom is and isn’t present. Our command to make disciples as Christians has nothing to do with the political freedom we have to do it.

3.  Pray!

I pray for God to be glorified in our country. I think He is more glorified when people have the freedom to exchange idea and hold convictions about the way they do business and how they provide medical care for their employees. So, to that end I will pray and I will encourage you to do the same.

Think. Does religious liberty matter to you?

Act. The most important thing to do at this point is pray! Pray for God to be glorified and people’s hearts to be awakened to His truth. Pray for the judges to exercise wisdom in granting business the freedom to NOT pay for abortions or abortion-type medicine.

Think and Act 3.26.14 – Why I Dislike Offerings At Large Christian Events

Maybe you never thought you’d meet a pastor who didn’t like an offering. (Insert rim shot sound effect here.)

Read the following sentence carefully – it will help you understand where I’m coming from. I write tonight out of frustration for something that happens with the best of intentions but often the cloudiest of execution. Please keep this in mind before you become critical of my criticism.

Over the years of attending Winter Jam concerts, youth events, and other Christian gatherings, I am troubled by the practice of taking an offering, often after a hefty admission price has already been paid. The offerings are not usually advertised to go toward the expenses of the event; rather, they are usually focused on a ministry or a cause. It seems like it is very difficult to go to a Christian event anymore that does not take some sort of offering.

Let me outline a couple of concerns. I’ll sort out the Biblical concerns and then throw in a couple personal preferences.

Biblical concerns about taking offerings at larger Christian events:

1. It has been my experience that the local church is RARELY affirmed as a key place of giving in the life of a Christian.

The Bible clearly sets out the idea of giving to support the ministry of a local group of believers under committed leadership and in the context of committed membership. I won’t say I’ve never heard the local church affirmed, but the fact that it is rarely mentioned (even if it is not intentional) really serves to undercut the sacrifices of committed Christians in local churches.

2. These offerings often diminish the gospel.

This is a bold claim. Let me explain. I was at a concert Sunday night and a 10 minute presentation was made for why I should give money to support a child through a certain ministry. At NO POINT in the evening was a gospel message proclaimed. To me this is downright offensive. Giving should always be a fruit of the gospel, and to skip the part about our salvation is really shallow. It gives immature Christians or casual onlookers the idea that being righteous is something you can do by giving money. Obviously, this is not true.

Some events (such as Winter Jam) give the gospel AND they make a challenge to support ministries benefitting the poor. Let me openly ask what the results would be if we simply timed the two presentations?

3. Guilt is often used.

If they simply made opportunities known and said “go visit this area of the arena for more information” then I’d be perfectly fine with it. The Biblical rub comes when the presenters representing these ministries step near the line of taking the place of the Spirit in bringing conviction. The last Winter Jam I was at they came very close to saying you’re not a Christian if you don’t support orphans. The Bible says I’m not a Christian if I remain in sin and reject the truth of Jesus Christ. Big difference.

Listen, I’m not opposed to helping the poor, caring about orphans, widows, etc. I have a lot of joy in Jesus and works flow from my heart because of my salvation. I simply wish these offerings matched the Biblical pattern (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Personal preference issues with these types of offerings.

1. I think they should give clearer instructions.

They should tell people NOT to give out of emotion or make a commitment they’ll regret. I’m a bit bothered that these pleas are emotional, and they’re in the context of, well, an emotional event. Do we trust God to provide for the needs of ministries or are tactics like this something we should resort to? I think some thought should go into this.

And, if at a predominantly youth event, they should make every option to go to a website and support the organization with their family rather than giving food money then begging their leaders later because they’re hungry. This is NOT a joke. I’ve seen it happen and heard too many stories to be joking.

2. Why can’t I just spend entertainment money for entertainment?

When I pay $20, $25, or more to go to a concert, why can’t I just be entertained? I’m sure there’s great temptation to get the word out at a large event. That’s great. Just set the ministries (or other businesses) up in the concourse next to the nachos and let people interact with them at tables.

In fact, I’d be glad to pay the extra $5 in my ticket price to support certain ministries if I didn’t have to be guilted. Just be up front that part of the price includes a donation to Ministry X. Or, why have promoters not been creative enough to let people add an offering onto the price of the ticket at purchase? For crying out loud they add enough on in “convenience” and “handling” charges to price of a ticket. It would be way better if I could add a few bucks to go to something meaningful!

Think. Are these events the right place of these types of offerings? Is this the right approach?

Act. I’ve pointed out some frustrations here. The sad part is I don’t have too many suggestions. Maybe I should write a couple promoters, radio stations, etc. and get a conversation going!

 

Tuesday Rambling 3.25.14 – Worship, Vision, Offerings

It’s Tuesday. Time for a little rambling. Here we go.

Worship

  • Sunday at our church we focused an entire service on the concept of worship.
  • Worship happens in the church in ways that it can’t by ourselves.
  • Worship should also carry on outside the church in ways that it can’t inside.

Vision

  • I mentioned to someone today in thinking about ministry life. Usually a vision is cast, God starts doing something, THEN money follows.
  • When you try to get a bunch of money BEFORE you do something, it doesn’t work as well.
  • I heard a saying that may clarify this: “Money follows ministry”. In my experience in a lot of different ventures, that is true.

Offerings

  • I’m sure I’ll be fleshing this out soon, maybe tomorrow, but for now I have a thought about offerings.
  • When I pay money to go to a Christian concert, why is there a need to ask for more in an offering?
  • My thoughts on this are running deep, and I’m challenged by the intention behind the ask.

Tuesday

  • Tuesday really is one of my favorite days in the week. I’m glad it’s Tuesday. Lots of things happen in my normal Tuesday, so I usually feel fulfilled at the end of Tuesday.
  • Have a great one yourself!

Monday Challenge 3.24.14 – Sin Is Stupid, Good Parenting Helps, Religious Freedom

March is a five Monday month, so one more Monday post after this.  This month for me is actually feeling long. Maybe it’s the weather. Who knows?

Regardless, I’m excited to share what I’ve been reading. As usual, scan through the links and . . . BE CHALLENGED!

Link of the Week

Lesbian sex, HIV, Esau, and Christ. What an article title, right? John Piper shares some excellent thoughts about how stupid sin really is.

Question: How does this article speak to the folly of your sin and your joy in Christ?

Parenting

Here are two helpful articles. I love it when people challenge the way I view parenting.

1. This article challenges parents to just let go (of things they can’t control).

Question: Well, does this challenge you to let go of anything?

2. Do you have a plan to talk to your kids about sex? This should provoke some good thinking.

Question: What are the consequences of brushing these conversations under the rug?

Christian Faith

1. An argument for God – from the cosmos. It’s cosmology, not cosmetology (for those of you looking for a chuckle). Seriously, this is very helpful.

Question: What spoke to you the most?

2. Here is a blog featuring a video about why people are dis-satisfied with Islam.

Question: If you follow Christ, how often do you think about or engage with other religions?

3. Why Joel Osteen is dangerous: He makes Scripture say what he wants it to say.

Question: Is it worth all the positive affirmations in his preaching if this sort of stuff comes along with it?

Religious Freedom

Here is a great summary of the Hobby Lobby case going before the Supreme Court this week. Believers in the U.S. should be familiar with this case. It’s super important.

Question: Do you care about religious freedom? What consequences are there if people are forced to pay for things that violate their beliefs?