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

Think and Act 12.16.15 – A Faith of Memes and Soundbites

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Look, I’m not opposed to Facebook, Twitter, memes, or quotes. I’m opposed to the shallow faith that can result when we fail to expose ourselves to a deeper walk of faith.

Do cute memes exist? Do they ever! I laugh at a lot of them. Some even help spiritually.

Have you ever gotten a good soundbite about a spiritual truth that really helped you? I have too.

Memes and soundbites can help speak short bursts of spiritual truth into our lives. Another example that comes racing to mind includes some of the sermon bits you hear on Air 1 or K Love. I enjoy them in the moment but would fail to

Sooo…what’s the problem? Well, I’m glad you asked.

1. Soundbites can’t provide depth.

Relying on a soundbite for spiritual depth is like trying to become a Bible scholar through a daily calendar verse. Diving into the history, storyline, and purpose of the Bible takes time and effort. But knowing God won’t come without sacrifice. A meme won’t last you through a season of fierce trial or temptation.

2. Spiritual truth isn’t always cute.

A faith conditioned to fit into cute memes or tweets sells the Gospel short. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus strike at the mess of humanity and the uttermost glory of God. Sin, destruction, judgment, redemption, hell, and forgiveness complicate life and require struggle and effort to understand.

A challenge: 

3. Let temporary stay temporary.

Put the temporary things in their place. I wouldn’t tell anyone to reject what can help in the short term. But call it for what it is: temporary help or encouragement. Lots of quotes or soundbites help us – for the day or maybe even in a season.

4. Plan for the long term.

If you’ve never read through the whole Bible, 2016 is right around the corner. Find a yearly read through the Bible plan and stick to it! Check out a great resource such as 30 Days to Understanding the Bible by Max Anders or Clarifying the Bible video curriculum. Both of these resources can be had for cheap. If you know me personally I’d be glad to let you borrow either.

Think. How much do one liners shape the way you relate to God? Do they take the place of regular study?

Act. Adjusting your priorities to take in larger chunks and deeper understanding of God’s Word will never disappoint.

Think and Act 12.2.15 – Praying for Children’s Service Workers

PEOPLE GRAPHICS

Imagine being called to a house where a domestic dispute has resulted in the arrest of a single parent and a visiting “friend”. When the cops come, the three other people in the house flee, knowing their drug paraphernalia will soon be found. That leaves three kids by themselves.

You work for Children’s Services and have to decide what to do with the kids. Calls to the children’s extended family come up empty. Even with multiple fathers, no immediate home is found. No foster home available can take all three kids. You must work to decide where to send the kids. Then, you spend weeks and months following their development and a case plan that their parent may or may not complete once out of jail or once the charges get settled.

I made this scenario up, but I can’t imagine I’m that far off the mark. Yes, this type of stuff happens. Why else does Children’s Service have a staff full of over-worked, underpaid, and under-appreciated social workers? Day in and day out they deal with brutal situations.

I haven’t had any kind of recent scenario involving CSB, although throughout the years I’ve seen too many.

I have no idea why it crossed my mind this week to write briefly about them. But their jobs rank among the hardest I can imagine.

My request: Will you pray for them as they deal with children in terribly difficult situations?

Think. What types of people do you know that have hard jobs?

Act. Even if people choose hard jobs, how can we support those who play important roles in society? Think of ways to show appreciation to those who deal with difficult situations as an occupation.

Think and Act 11.18.15 – Refugees and Hard Questions

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Giveaway week!

Before the serious stuff, be sure to check out the 2015 Thought Driven Action giveaway. Click here for prize info and how to enter. Deadline is Sunday night, so get your entries in. Your odds of winning a good prize will be good!

Refugees and Hard Questions

This topic inevitably came up this week in a group of friends. We respectfully talked through many different viewpoints of the refugee situation and Biblical and kingdom implications. We didn’t solve anything, but balanced and level-headed discussion took place.

In that vein, let me share some hard questions I’m asking myself about refugees coming to the U.S. I’m NOT claiming to have the answers, but I have a growing sense that the issue demands multiple layers of thinking.

  1. Am I aware of what the Bible says about refugees? What Biblical texts will I use to form my views on what I think should happen?
  2. How do my desires as a believer compete with my love of country?
  3. What is the proper balance between fear of what might happen and my call as a believer to minister despite potential risk?
  4. Am I willing to listen to anyone (especially fellow believers) who has a different point of view than mine?
  5. Is the potential loss of my life in a terror attack the worst thing that could happen if believers were ministering to and the Spirit was converting many refugees?
  6. Do I have a proper and historical understanding of the loss of life as it relates to the advancement of God’s kingdom?
  7. What is the proper balance between compassion, security, fear, and love?
  8. Is it somehow “unChristian” to NOT want to be blown up? (I read this via Kevin DeYoung this week).
  9. How much is fear driving my view of this situation?
  10. Do I trust God’s sovereignty over the sovereignty of a nation or nations right now?

Think. How do these questions challenge you?

Act. My challenge here lies in accepting the complexity of the issue and showing a willingness to listen to and understand a lot of different views.

Think and Act 11.11.15 – How Do You Deal With Discouragement?

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If the question in the title drew you in, let me clarify it. How do you deal with discouragement that isn’t your own?

Let me go back to my own recent history. I trained all year this year to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I planned to run my qualifying race on October 11. On Friday night, two nights before the race, I got sick. My stomach settled enough to go the starting line Sunday, but physically I was simply still too weak.

Many well intentioned people have encouraged me by congratulating me on making it seventeen miles in the race before dropping out, or bringing up other positive aspects about the race.

And while I do appreciate the kind words, none can remove the disappointment.

How do you deal with someone else’s disappointment?

What’s your approach to someone dealing with a situation, a relationship, a goal, an opportunity, that just didn’t work out?

A kind-hearted phrase (like telling someone whose dog just died that there are other dogs) may make you feel better, but it’s unlikely to help the person struggling.

If you’re reading this, you probably know someone struggling right now. We almost all do.

Can we just spend time with them, reassuring them that both God and we as friends are willing to be with them during their disappointment? Can we comfortably exist with someone in a difficult season without immediately trying to steer a course out of either the conversation or the season itself?

Think. Does the disappointment of friends or family make you uncomfortable?

Act. Do your best to show commitment to someone in a season of disappointment without a ton of words and without the urgency to cover it up. Staying next to someone in that type of season can give them the space to heal and help them know there’s no rush.

 

Think and Act 11.4.15 – Helping People Out Of Poverty

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If you have a middle class background, the thought process regarding people getting out of poverty likely includes something like this: “Why don’t they just get a job?”

I don’t think that thought is wrong. Maybe it’s just incomplete.

Just getting a job for people in poverty, especially those in generational poverty, presents no simple task. And for those without knowledge of the challenge, it can bring a lot of confusion and frustration.

To those curious about the topic or finding yourself in the “frustrated” category, let me share something I heard recently.

Studies of those making it out of generation poverty provide some good insight. One of the most common factors of those no longer in poverty was the presence of a mentor or meaningful relationship with someone not in poverty.

I recently attended a walk through of our local middle school. Community partners are working with the school to make opportunities for  community volunteers to help middle school students…simply by their presence and basic involvement.

Here’s more. Last Friday, I attended the graduation of a class of people who had gone through a week of training with a local organization. They regularly train people, building employment knowledge, skills, and support through a week-long class. Someone in the class missed the graduation . . . it’s not what you think. They missed because they had been hired!

A theme that ran throughout the graduation? The need for those seeking to get out of poverty to have . . . a mentor. Someone ready to tell them to go back to work when they want to quit. Someone to give a ride to work if the car breaks down. Someone to provide a word of encouragement when you get insurance for the first time, as one of the former graduates had just achieved at her job!

The bottom line? Like much in life, leaving poverty is complex. And, it’s difficult. And, not everyone in poverty wants to live off the government. And, whether a child or young adult at risk, the course of their life can change – if people are willing to treat them like people.

Think. What thoughts come automatically when you think about poverty?

Act. If you’re interested and in the Akron area, I could link you to either of the two opportunities I mentioned, as well as others. Otherwise, follow the advice of a missionary who visited our church a few years ago: get to know someone in poverty. Somehow, our preconceived notions come crumbling down when we get to know someone we’re likely to stereotype.