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

Think and Act 4.29.15 – Why You Should Worship In Private

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I think a lot about life in patterns and seasons. Maybe that’s because I just had another birthday – and I’m not getting younger.

This post has little to do with longer seasons. Tonight I’m thinking shorter seasons. In any given year I go through several longer seasons and many shorter ones. Sports seasons, life seasons, up seasons, seasons of intense struggle, seasons of growth, stagnancy and the like. This probably sounds a lot like Ecclesiastes 3.

I have a tendency to let the seasons take control rather than seeing God in the seasons. Recently, one thing is standing out to me as I seek to navigate the seasons: personal worship. Let me organize a few strong encouragements to help think about the benefits of personal worship.

1. Private worship develops us in ways congregational worship can’t.

Congregational worship is only designed for regular times. By nature, time spent worshiping with others has limits. On the other hand, we see lots of personal devotion in the Bible; it’s this personal, private worship that God designs to sustain us each day when other believers can’t join us.

2. Private worship reminds us God is bigger than emotion.

Repeatedly we see examples in Scripture of people’s devotion to God during or following difficult seasons or tragic events. Worshiping in private sustains the truth of God in our minds and souls no matter the season.

On the flip side, private worship can also humble us on the mountaintop of success, reminding us that God deserves praise for any and all good gifts.

3. Private worship increases our trust in God and decreases our reliance on others.

As a pastor I’ve been criticized for a lot in public worship. In private worship, the amount of worries about what others think is, um, zero. I can devote myself to God in ways that no one can see. When I worship when others aren’t around, I focus on God with intense focus.

4. Private worship increases our desire for congregational worship.

What – you didn’t think I was using this piece to talk down congregational worship did you?

When we develop consistency in private worship, our hunger for congregational worship should increase. Like congregational worship can’t sustain us, we’ll know private worship doesn’t provide the experience worshiping with others does.

Following Jesus must be done in private and in public – why should the worship of Him be any different? After all, Jesus set the perfect example of balancing both!

Think. Does private worship have enough of a place in your life?

Act. Sing, pray, read, ask, seek – to the glory of God and evaluation of Him alone. Let your growth in private worship drive your participation in public worship.

 

Tuesday Rambling 4.28.15 – Why Heroin Unites Us

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Over a 24 hour period between Sunday and Monday, I received word that drugs had claimed two more lives of people I knew. One was a former student at First Glance. Another was a mother of three in our neighborhood.

So I can’t help but think about drugs. Lots of people are thinking about drugs.

The Beacon Journal ran an article recently about the problem and what can/should be done. Heroin is a nasty drug that is killing people. It is on the collective conscience of people in our specific region, across Ohio, and in other places as well.

Why is this? With no additional commentary, I’d like to think out loud about why this problem is uniting people against it. I may be right, wrong, or somewhere in between. But, I hope these stir your thinking.

  • Heroin is a sin problem that is bigger than society’s ability to “fix” or “categorize” it.
  • You can’t move away from it into a better neighborhood and its effects are not limited to “certain types of people”.
  • People unite against heroin because human life matters to them; heroin has progressed to the point of noticeably costing human life.
  • This loss of life is relatively new and the cause hasn’t had a chance to go stale in our fickle human hearts yet.
  • Humans have an inward awareness of right and wrong.
  • It is more acceptable to speak about issues of right and wrong when you’re in the majority.

What else would you add to the list? Why does this problem unite people against it when other sins and societal ills fail to have this much vocal opposition?

Monday Challenge 4.27.15 – Don’t Follow Your Heart, Your Mission Field, Jesus Against Paul?

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It’s Monday. Therefore, it’s time for the regular Monday dose of challenge. The article drawing the most attention will morph into Friday’s Feature.

Don’t Follow Your Heart

This article shows the folly of following your heart.

Question: When was the last time following your heart got you in trouble?

Your Mission Field

If we viewed the place we lived as our mission field . . . 

Question: What is one step you could take today to make yourself more effective in your mission field?

Jesus and Paul

Is Jesus against Paul?

Question: How did this article help you understand the role of doctrine and tough preaching?

The Diverse Church

This article highlights different ways your church can reflect diversity.

Question: Are you able to appreciate the many forms of diversity in your local church?

Friday Feature 4.24.15 – The Power of the Bikini

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That’s what the author of this week’s most-clicked link (from Monday’s post) would like for her son when it comes to bikinis.

Click here to see Rebecca Davis’ article “The Power of the Bikini”.

After you read the article, check out a few of my own thoughts here:

1. The author asks people to think about their behavior.

In this crazy world of freedom, she is actually asking people to think about their behavior. Imploring people to think before they put on a bikini sounds completely ludicrous, but I think it’s bold. Do I think it will change what people do? No, and she probably doesn’t either. But asking people to think is great.

2. She rightly points to parenting as “day by day”.

She’s not claiming to have all the answers. This article has enough information to encourage conversation. This isn’t a “loudest voice wins” type of article. She knows her son, knows his potential weaknesses (especially as he grows) and values the journey.

3. The honor and shame contrast bears noting.

We can shame people into doing all kinds of things. Good behavior in children tied to honor and value provides a far better alternative to shaming.

As a parent, I need to hear the basic approach and healthy effort of fellow believing parents. This article hopefully makes you think too.

Think. How do you help your children navigate a world in which they see all sorts of things you don’t want them to see?

Act. Act with grace, communication, and reliance on God to be your help. I think when kids see humility mixed with effort in their parents it’s easier to develop a moldable spirit themselves.

Think and Act 4.22.15 – What The “A.D.” Television Series Means To Me

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Once again television producers are using the Bible as source material for entertainment. The “A.D.” series airing Sunday nights on NBC has proven ratings worthy. It’s a follow up to a previous series that aired on cable and has the book of Acts as its basis.

I love the Bible. I love Jesus. I want people to both know the Bible and love Jesus.

I’m not assuming a whole lot of interest in this. I simply wanted to provide an opinion and some perspective about this type of entertainment.

1. It is entertainment.

When someone puts something on television the goal is to make money. You can’t count on someone to adhere to high standards of Bible scholarship when making money is the goal.

With this type of programming I don’t expect Biblical accuracy, and neither should anyone else.

2. God can use it.

Can God use what is false to draw people to the truth? Certainly. The Bible itself supports this concept.

So, see if people you know are talking about it. Find out what they think. Stand ready to share what really happened and engage in some good conversation. Sharing what really happened can further someone’s interest and lead them to the Bible. I certainly believe God can do that. I also believe He would want believers to be used that way.

3. It has encouraged me in specific ways.

Yes, it’s disappointing to see the Bible’s powerful story misrepresented. I should state that with clarity as the goal.

But, that doesn’t mean the programming lacks encouraging aspects.

I have paused and considered the courage the disciples needed to have to boldly proclaim Jesus in a very hostile atmosphere.

The brutality of the Roman government can prove difficult to grasp from written descriptions.

The reality that God is involved in the events of earth has jolted onto my spiritual radar. His power and force for good (Resurrection, Pentecost) on behalf of people have warmed my heart and stoked the fires of my faith. He cares and is involved!

4. The series has increased my passion to describe the Bible.

God’s design is to speak and for people to hear. Pictures, illustrations, films – they should all have the goal of helping God’s Word, not replacing it.

I want to help people understand the Bible as more than a textbook or something neutral. The portrayal of events leaves neutrality out of the realm of possible responses.

Think. What does Bible or Christian based entertainment mean to you? When can it mean too much or too little?

Act. Never be afraid to talk about these misguided attempts and explain your reactions. The truth will always prove powerful enough to draw seekers to itself.