What Should I BELIEVE about the Word of God?

Read Psalm 119

1. God’s Word says what is true (vs. 42, 142). In a world full of fake news, airbrushed photos, and contrived social media posts, we can know what God’s word is entirely and always true. It’s firmly fixed in the heavens; it doesn’t change (vs. 89). There’s no limit to its perfection; nothing in it is corrupt (vs. 96).

2. God’s Word demands what is right (vs. 75, 86, 128). God does not lay down arbitrary rules. He does not give orders so that we might be miserable. His demands are always noble, always just, and always righteous.

3. God’s Word provides what is good (vs. 1-2, 6, 9, 24, 28, 43). It provides wisdom (vs. 98-100). As the people of God, we believe the word of God can be trusted in every way to speak what is true into everyday life.

“I Like Jesus, But Not Christianity”

Many people want to grow spiritually without losing their independence to a church. That’s why I often hear, “I like Jesus, but not Christianity or churches.” Sometimes they’ve had bad experiences with churches. These people, for the most part, do want a relationship with Jesus, just not His Body or His Bride (2 metaphors that God uses for the church).

Sometimes this is understandable. I hear horror stories all the time that make me cringe and had I experienced them I, too, would be hesitant to get too involved with a church again. Some churches are unpleasant.  hey are filled with judgmental, self-righteous people. Yet, staying away, is just another form of self-righteousness.

Besides, there is no way you can grow spiritually apart from a deep involvement in a faith community. You can’t live the Christian life to its fullest potential without a family of believers for love and accountability. You can’t get to know Jesus deeper if you want nothing to do with His Body or His Bride.

Would you want to get close to someone who didn’t like you or your spouse?

Christian Schadenfreude? (Or why we Christians shouldn’t gloat)

Proverbs 24:17-18 is clear. “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them.”

Our culture loves to see celebrities or athletes or politicians we don’t care for fall and stumble morally. When they do, we celebrate and revel in their failure. This proverb reminds us that that’s not what the wise or righteous do. Rather than gloat, we should check our pride and learn the lessons being taught by their failure rather than excited and joyous for their sin.

Could I Forgive Someone Who _____?

Before we can forgive, we have to answer Jesus’ call to discipleship. The question isn’t “Could I forgive someone who _________?” The question is can I answer the call to discipleship?

We forgive not because we want to, or because it improves our lives, or because we’re sick of living with the after effects of not doing so; we forgive because that’s what disciples do. Disciples obey Jesus, and Jesus teaches us to forgive other people.

So as difficult as it might be, we have to learn to pray, “Jesus, I hate this person. Teach me how to love and forgive him.”

A Misunderstanding about the Bible and Prayer

When we read the Bible, we’re looking for God. When we pray, we’re listening to God.

Bible study isn’t about discovering a user’s manual for life but about finding and understanding God Himself. Similarly, prayer isn’t a vending machine or a consultation. When we engage with the Bible and prayer we bring our lives to God to receive Him.

When we read the Bible and pray, we’re also looking to see and understand God’s work, God’s life, and God’s action in this world. Therefore, we ask God in prayer, “What have You done and what are You doing?”

Seek Second the Kingdom of God?

Jesus said,

Seek first the Kingdom of God.

Revolutionary statement because we argue the opposite by the way we live. “I” must live.  I…  I… I… Always I. We don’t care that much about the Kingdom compared to how we fit into the world and what it can give us.

But here Jesus points out the utter folly of being so anxious about the world.

Our relationship to God should be the dominating concentration of our life and we need to be carefully careless about everything else in comparison.

A Wednesday Morning Prayer

Here my prayer, O Lord:

I want to lead others as You have led me.

I want to be a friend to others like You have been a friend to me.

I want to parent my children as You have parented me.

I want to love my wife as You have loved Your bride, the Church.

I want to bless others as You have blessed me.

I want to hear Your voice as You seek to get my attention.

I want to obey that voice as Jesus obeyed the voice of His Father.

I want my self-talk to reflect my identity in You, as You talk to me.

I want these things and more, and I ask it in Your name, Jesus, not for my glory but for Yours. Amen.

Passionately Love the Church in spite of its Imperfections

It is easy to get discouraged when you look at your church and see the gap between biblical fellowship and reality.

Yet we must passionately love the church in spite of its imperfections.  Longing for the ideal while criticizing the real is evidence of immaturity; settling for the real without striving for the ideal is complacency.  Living with the tension is maturity.

When Predictability is High, Impact is Low

Acts of philanthropy by Christians today are relatively commonplace, so they don’t surprise the world. Today most Christian philanthropy doesn’t evoke questions the way it might have in the fourth century.

Neither does living a fine, upstanding, middle class lifestyle in the suburbs, for what it’s worth.

To fulfill the evangelistic mandate that Paul and Peter and the gospels present us with, we need to be propelled OUTWARDS and into the lives of our neighbors, but also UPWARD, into deeper intimacy with Jesus. I believe we need to develop a new set of rhythms, or habits, that foster a missional lifestyle that intrigues others.