Saturday, December 13, 2014
Friday, December 12, 2014
What I worry about is the compartmentalization of our faith and the business world. If the businessperson claims all credit for achieving success in creating a sustainable profitable business, then we chastise her for attributing success to herself alone. But if she talks about being blessed in her work (i.e., God had a hand in her success), then that also is taboo because she is saying God withheld blessing from someone else who didn’t do well. In short, if you are in business, then you are only entitled to have vague feelings of gratefulness but not to see God as present in your daily life.God cannot be compartmentalized from any part of our life. Period. This dichotomy seems to exist for many people in many pursuits. We tend to compartmentalize God - it is a way of controlling Him.
And by the way, I don't have any problem with the idea of God withholding blessings from anyone. I am pretty certain He has done so at some periods of my life. It is a way of guiding us - it is a big clue that what we are doing is not really in line with what we are supposed to be doing.
But more importantly, God is about who we are far more than He is about what we do. It is about character, not activity. Well developed character will, of course, affect what we do. But I do not think God is in the business of carrot and sticking us to good character. There is no quid pro quo, many people of bad character succeed and people of good character fail. But it has certainly been the case with me that my failures have helped me develop my character.
character integrating life
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Vengenance and Mercy
Admittedly, we tend to associate vengeance with hatred and cruelty. Those who seek revenge are filled with inextinguishable and unreasonable anger. Scripture uses the term neqama, often translated as “vengeance,” with a different meaning. You can see this in Psalm 94. After referring to the Lord as “the God of vengeance” in verse 1, the psalmist calls him “judge of the earth,” asking him to “give the proud what they deserve” (94:2). These boastful ones “crush” and “hurt” God’s people (94:5). “They kill widows and foreigners and murder orphans,” while claiming that God doesn’t care (94:6-7). Thus, the vengeance of God is not some irrational burst of divine anger, but rather the exercise of divine justice. God gives sinners what their sin deserves. So, the last verse of Psalm 94 observes: “God will turn the sins of evil people back on them.” God’s vengeance is, therefore, a righteous expression of his justice.Too often, I think, we forget justice. We think grace so pervasive we forget justice. And yet, even the grace we receive comes at the price of a life - just not ours - thankfully.
Whenever we speak of divine justice or vengeance, it’s important to remember God’s mercy. Yes, he does judge us in our sin. But because God is “rich in mercy,” his “mercy triumphs over judgment” (Eph. 2:4; James 2:13, ESV). Thus the triune God did not dismiss our sin as no big deal, but instead bore our sin on the cross in the Son. Take away God’s justice or vengeance, and the cross becomes unnecessary.
And when we forget justice, what is wrong, somehow becomes right. When grace is so pervasive that we are not allowed to declare judgement in any fashion on anyone, then suddenly there simply is no wrong. e do not and cannot earn grace, but we must appropriate it by confession. If we rely on grace so heavily that we no longer can recognize our sin, then we no longer actually rely upon it and it escapes us.
I shudder to think of God's justice when we are incapable of even recognizing sin.
grace judgement sin
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
"Was America Ethically Christian for Only 8 Years?"Of course he is bemoaning the decline in national morals, etc. Trying to build some perspective. But please a nation has an ethos, a generally accepted set of values, but no nation has a ethic.
What is problematic about this is discussing it in these terms makes us think that such is a goal. Like we should, as a nation be somehow "ethically Christian." Maybe, or maybe not we should be, but the only way to achieve that is through evangelism, not some sort of legislation or national effort. The way to achieve that is one person at a time, slowly telling them about Jesus and modelling for them what it means to be a person of Christ.
Such question, in many ways, miss the point of what it means to be Christian. It is not a matter of ethics. Can we influence the nation to behave more in accordance with our ethical standards? Maybe, but to be honest, theologically, the answer is "NO." even we cannot maintain our own ethical standards. Without reliance on Christ and the Holy Spirit this is just not happening. For a nation to have such reliance is mission, not politics.
We really need to think about this differently.
ethics nations religion
Tuesday, December 09, 2014
Making It Work
As a leader, it’s important that you not only concentrate your attention on what is easily measured, written in a policy manual, or even spoken as a value. Other considerations may be more important, even though they may have never been expressed formally. When change occurs or is to be implemented in an organization, paying attention to these unwritten rules is necessary for success.Consider just one of his "unwritten rules":
The real power structure – Who really makes the decisions? Is it a board? A few key people? A consensus of the largest percentage of people? Power structures are rarely as purely formed as what is written on a piece of paper. Knowing this is critical to navigating change.I understand exactly what he is talking about and sometimes it really honks me off. I cannot tell you how many times a church's board is used as cover by a pastor who is really making the decisions and pulling the strings. If you note that and take the matter to the pastor he will often hide behind the board, for any number of reasons. The line between the purity of the structure and deception or avoidance is a fine one.
It is the deception that bothers me. A) pastors often purposefully accumulate the power while neutering their board's, thus violating the reasons the board is there to begin with. B) When confronted with, they dissemble. Look, power tends to flow to places where people know how to use it. That's a natural occurrence, but to deny that such is happening, that's deceptive. It should not be about denying reality, it should be about exercising the power accumulated in a gentile and humble manner.
Think about it.
church politics deception power
Monday, December 08, 2014
Media and Meaning
“The question is not: How many people take you seriously? How much are you going to accomplish? Can you show some results? But: Are you in love with Jesus? . . . In our world of loneliness and despair, there is an enormous need for men and women who know the heart of God, a heart that forgives, that cares, that reaches out and wants to heal.”Today I am struck by how easy it is to do "big things." How simple it is to start a hashtag campaign or make a splash on an issue, but how incredibly difficult it can be to actually change the facts on the ground. In our increasingly media saturated world, media is not reality. And yet every Sunday morning grows more and more to resemble a media experience. And now that media has become personal we hide behind it and never deal in reality.
And yet, real solutions to real problems involves interacting with real people. Moreover it calls for changing the behavior of real people and that generally requires more than a hashtag or a "worship experience."
Jesus did not build the church - we built the church (at His instruction) - Jesus built people. The world cannot change, will not change unless we remember the basic mission of changing people, one at a time, the hard way. It's messy for them and it's messy for us.
Are you up to it?
change church media people