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

Friday Feature 2.27.15 – The Most Tolerated Sin

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Why not one more picture of a food? The most tolerated sin in America is gluttony. This article drew the most interest from my Monday post.

Check out the article by clicking here.

Maybe you were curious when you clicked, but it’s a serious issue nonetheless. After you’ve read the article, read a couple of my thoughts:

1. As with most things, it’s not about the substance.

Instead, it’s about the heart. I’m glad the author points people in the direction of grace and worship.

This should encourage anyone who struggles with any problem. The goal is to “put on” different characteristics, developing the fruit of the Spirit. In order to do that, we must make different decisions, yes.

We must also rely on God and look at who or what we are really worshiping.

2. Communion in powerful.

Communion reminds us of Christ’s triumph over all sin. Using food to celebrate that triumph can speak specifically to us about His triumph over this specific sin.

The next time your church celebrates communion, use it as an opportunity to adjust your heart, your worship, and your sin. Trust Christ only, worship Him only!

Think. What is your approach to struggles with food?  Does this approach sound too spiritual to you?

Act. Think spiritually about all of life. Know that Jesus used food to point us to His grace, love, and triumph over sin. Ask God for more strength to honor Him in eating.

Think and Act 2.25.15 – Three Signs You’re Growing Spiritually

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How do you grow spiritually? I’m currently preaching a series on Colossians 3 while focusing on our church’s purposes: Worship. Grow. Share.

“How do you grow spiritually?” is a very good question. People try lots of different things to “grow” spiritually. Based on Colossians 3, I’ll offer three signs you’re growing spiritually:

1. Your love for God is increasing.

Colossians 3:1-2 says “seek the things that are above” and “set your minds on things that are above”. In order to have a mind that dwells on heavenly things, you must prioritize God.

If your love for God is increasing, you’re thinking about Him. His ways, His truth, His plans, His character – all will find more place in your thinking.

Do you daydream about heaven? Do you praise God that He shows us grace through Christ? Do you itch for the world to know?

Rest assured, growth is taking place.

2. You are overcoming sin.

The language of Colossians 3 says to “put to death” sin and “put on” godly qualities including patience, meekness, humility, love, forgiveness, etc.

Your hatred for your sin increases. The desire to sin decreases. Your compassion for people different from you grows. Things slow down, you over-react less.

Rest assured, growth is taking place.

3. You are loving other Christians more.

Colossians 3 shows strong relationships. Gathering for worship encourages. Relationships have structure. Forgiveness takes place. Love wells up even in tough circumstances. If you see these things taking place more and more, God is drawing you close.

You are doing things most find crazy. The relationships you treasure fit into structures non-believers can’t understand. Yet, you find joy and want others to have it.

If these things are happening, rest assured, growth is taking place.

Think. Are you growing spiritually? Has a stagnant state set in? How does Colossians 3 help or challenge?

Act. Change your thinking, strengthen relationships, forgive, love, ask God for more characteristics that bring Him glory!

Tuesday Rambling 2.24.15 – Feelings, Weather, and God

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Tuesday. The weather is very cold here in Ohio, where I assume most of my readers reside.

I have a few thoughts about the cold weather. Time to ramble:

  • I admit the weather makes life difficult. Can’t deny that.
  • I also fully admit that I have a high tolerance for how the weather affects people. I have friends who I think legitimately struggle.
  • A good question: how much SHOULD the weather really affect us?
  • I think the media make matters worse. I think the instant access to information makes everyone more aware (for better or for worse).
  • Haven’t we always endured extreme weather conditions?
  • Last Saturday it snowed 3-5″ in many parts of Ohio. Like we haven’t dealt with that before if we’ve lived in Ohio for a long time?
  • I always thought when it snowed you just left early and went slower in order to be safe.
  • Anyway, back to how much the weather should affect us. My chief concern is this: do we feel like we’re entitled to something different than what God is giving us?
  • If we worship God and trust Him in all areas of life, why are we slower to trust when things are hard, or make us uncomfortable?
  • I’m challenged this way in other areas. I got fussy with God when I got sick last week. I get fussy about things I don’t like. I feel entitled to have it go more smoothly.
  • But that’s not reality. My feelings about things don’t matter as much as the reality that’s causing them. I should work to adjust my feelings to what’s revealed in Scripture or plain realities (like harsh weather).
  • Shut down human emotion and basic responses? No. (Read: It’s okay to acknowledge the weather is less than favorable!)
  • But gripe to the point where my feelings act as a god threatening my worship of the real God? I hope not!

Monday Challenge 2.23.15 – Porn and Consent, Kids and Suffering, Moms and Facebook,

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Happy Monday! We have yet another day at home with the kids due to cold weather (-15 degrees wind chills and colder predicted for tomorrow). We’ll enjoy it as much as possible. In the meantime, be challenged!

Moms and Facebook

This article has a good look at pluses and minuses of social media – from moms’ perspective.

Question: Which of the strengths of social media surprised you or made you think?

Teaching Kids About Suffering

This article discusses the need to teach kids about suffering. It’s worth the read, even if only for the powerful testimony contained here.

Question: What did you think of the best way the author suggests to teach about suffering?

Porn and Consent

Defining consent can make for blurry morals. Challenge yourself with this one.

Question: Does porn have anything to do with consent?

America’s Most Tolerated Sin

What would be your guess? This article offers some help.

Question: What do you make of the link to the Lord’s Supper?

Think and Act 2.18.15 – How Do You Think About Your Neighborhood?

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I’d assume many of my blog’s readers live in the Akron area, if not the Kenmore area of Akron directly. We’re in our fourteenth year of living here in Kenmore. In that time, we’ve come to love it here. You heard me right:

I love living in Kenmore.

Am I ignorant? Am I stupid? Am I crazy? Don’t I know that crazy difficult things happen here? Don’t I know that a lot of people have given up on Kenmore and use it as a punch line?

If you think I don’t know that, you’re the one who’s crazy. Of course I know all that. But I love living here. And no (as far as I know) I’m not crazy.

I want to challenge how you talk about neighborhoods. Your neighborhood, your city. How do you talk about where you live compared to other places? Are other places better, worse? Why? Do certain statistics make certain places better or worse? Why?

These questions bear asking and demand your thinking. My title and brief challenge remain simply this: how do you talk about your neighborhood?

A couple quick thoughts about neighborhoods:

1. If where you live is better than somewhere else, it may not stay that way.

Neighborhoods change. Cities change. Some places prosper or decline based on economics, spirituality, and many other factors. If the place you live in has good things, it will take community support and effort to maintain them.

But unforeseen circumstances may cause the place you live to receive bad press and negative fallout. It happens; read the history books.

2. If you joke about other places, remember this:

Someone cares about the people living there. God does too.

The very worst places on earth that seem like they’re totally God-forsaken have someone who cares about the people living there. And no, I’m not suggesting Kenmore is the worst place on earth.

It would come across as mindless for me to suggest everyone had to live in Kenmore, to feel the same burden I do, to love the people and desire the great things I desire for them. I’ve seen plenty of people come and go from Kenmore, and I’ve remained friends with many as they come and go.

But what gets me is when people talk down on this place or that place based on a random news headline or a crime report and they think they know the heart of the neighborhood. A stretch of bad publicity doesn’t make a neighborhood anymore than it makes a sports franchise (Patriots, anyone?).

People live in neighborhoods. And people in struggling neighborhoods are people – real people with real pasts, problems, needs, personalities, and (drum roll please) . . . gifts! People in the worst neighborhoods have gifts, talents, abilities, hopes, dreams, and desires. They may be buried a bit deeper than in places of higher material success and educational credentials, but they exist.

And God knows those people. And He cares about them. Please think about that as you talk about different places, even the place where you live.

3. Help people see how great your community is, and be a part of it.

My friend Steve and I wrote four articles which will appear in our “Kenmore Connection” newspaper throughout 2015. You can read them here. Steve wrote from his perspective and I wrote from mine. The reason we did this was to help people think of the great things that make up our community. Some of these  get noticed, others don’t. We hope people will think differently about Kenmore.

Will we ever change those bent on negativity and slamming a place like Kenmore because it makes them feel better? Unlikely. But a challenge to the way people think about, talk about, and participate in their local community is always in order. The challenges we wrote to Kenmore could be applied (with a little tweaking) to many communities. Bottom line? Great people can be found anywhere.

Think. Would the majority of people in your community be sad or glad if they found out you had to move tomorrow? Would they even notice?

Act. Read the articles we wrote about our community.and think about the place where you live. How can you contribute to your community instead of simply taking up space?