Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Oval Office Quotably Redecorated

The Oval Office got a redesign for President Obama. Article One of the items changed was the nearly wall-to-wall rug. In it is the Presidential seal surrounded by 5 quotes. They are:

These are the quotations the president chose for his rug:

  • “The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself” – President Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • “The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, But It Bends Towards Justice” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  • “Government of the People, By the People, For the People” – President Abraham Lincoln
  • “No Problem of Human Destiny Is Beyond Human Beings” – President John F. Kennedy
  • “The Welfare of Each of Us Is Dependent Fundamentally Upon the Welfare of All of Us” – President Theodore Roosevelt

My reason in sharing this isn't to critique the Oval Office decor. That's another issue. But the influencer in me really likes the President taking this opportunity to influence the people who read these quotes toward the good of all people. After all, he could have not added any meaningful content to the rug.

What would You do?

I simply want to know: If you had a huge budget to create a custom rug for your office (the rug was donated in the President's case), and you were going to put a quote or two on it, what would you put?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Baptize right away or wait?

Acts 2:37-41

In the early church we see that someone would share the gospel and people would respond by faith being saved. It appears that it was normal for people to get baptized right away (or later that same day) instead of scheduling it for a later date. I wonder if it matters?

We should note that their cultural context was different than ours. Jews who became Christ-followers were seen as dead to their family members if they got baptized publicly in the name of Christ.

They were cut off from their family, their synagogue and the Temple. This isolated them family-wise, socially, educationally, and religiously. It also caused dramatic economic problems.

As a result, it was a BIG decision for a Jew to follow Christ publicly with baptism. It required a decision to "die to self," effectively. Perhaps this is one reason why Jesus commands it.

Today it's much easier to get baptized. In other words, the price you pay is usually much less.

Christianity is still a legitimately recognized religion by much of our country. (although this is changing) As a result, unless it's for cross-cultural reasons, generally the greatest obstacle might be getting all wet in front of a bunch of people you don't know or sharing a few words up front. It is hard for people but not a life and death decision like in the days of the early church.

As a result, some churches choose to make it a little harder to get baptized. Some require a class or series a classes. Others want a sit-down with a pastor or lay leader.

Since our culture is more tolerant of baptisms in the name of Jesus, I wonder if this is wise in light of how it went down in Acts. They heard the message, were convicted, repented, believed and were baptized--all before supper.

These days more and more churches are having baptisms right after the service. Some are counseling with them first. Some are just going right to it taking the candidate's word at face value.

What is good practice today? Does God want it to be more closely tied to the public response or not? Are we following scripture or are we discounting the cultural differences too much?

I'm curious as to your thoughts on this (here or on my Facebook). What other factors are there? While there may not be a "Right" way, I think it's good to challenge our traditions and ask the question, "Why do we do it this way?"

Jesus is Lord!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ps 112 Fear & Delight in God

Psalm 112:1

The author of this Psalm rejoices in and describes the life that fears and delights in the LORD.

This fear isn't being afraid of God like terrified of Him. Now if I'm his enemy, then I might be. But ultimately, this fear is more than that. It's more a reverential trust that inspires confidence, courage, peace and hope.

Kind of like a good police department inspires security, confidence and peace of mind for those in their community because they fight injustice and protect law-abiding citizens.

V. 1 is why the psalmist is praising (shining; boasting in) the Lord.

Praise the LORD.
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, 
who finds great delight in his commands.

He writes that those who fear the LORD and delight in obeying him (because they trust him) are very joyful (full of joy) or blessed people.

Vv. 2-10 describe what someone's life tends to look like (don't treat these like promises but more likely outcomes for those who fear and obey) when we fear and obey the LORD.

I praise my LORD that he is good, great, holy and trustworthy. I fear and delight in obeying him as a result. By his grace I will. (via Darien's YouVersion.com acct)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

An Open Letter

To: My Fellow Christ-followers

It's been a busy summer. Crazier than ever thought it would be. Yet it's been a good one. Challenging and full of hard work on top of sometimes difficult circumstances. 

And yet I've seen God work over and over again! I'm thrilled at what I've seen happen at Grace the last 6 months. God has raised up some new leaders. Every time someone leaves, 2 more take their place. And greater clarity has resulted for me...

Make Disciples

I don't think it's any surprise to anyone that's been around me the past 4 years when I say I believe God wants us to make disciples. But it's gotten even more focused for me than that...

Like Jesus did it

It's like God has taken me 180 degrees from where I was when I came to Grace. Every time I thought of church ministry, I thought in terms of lots of people and programs. But it's like God took me by the hand and patiently pointed me to the obvious teaching and example of Jesus. He took me over and over again until I saw it. Simply put, I believe God wants us to be a church that makes disciples like Jesus did.

I realize that on the surface that doesn't sound earth-shattering or super-duper. But that's just it. It isn't any of those things. It's just the way Jesus did it. He didn't mass-produce disciples. He took 12. (knowing one was a flunky) and made them the foundation (connected to the Chief Cornerstone, Himself) on which he built the Church. He poured into them to pour into others who would pour into others.

So what am I saying? 

In short, I believe God wants us to become a church that makes disciples like Jesus did. If that's one at a time, then so be it. But it's not something we hire people to do. It's something we expect and equip EVERY Christ-follower to do. Everything else either encourages and supports this or we set it aside for better things. 

From Good to Great

I think this is the Great thing we should be doing as a church. We need to be shrewd enough to recognize that there are many good things out there we could be doing. But until we get this Great thing down and a part of our DNA, I don't think we touch them. I think it's this simple: We build a church of people who are fully committed to discipling people who will disciple people to disciple people. 
After all, is there really anything better to live for than to lead people to lead other people into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ? Nope.
So that's where I'm heading. I believe it's true North. I may be wrong but I'm tired of hesitating and second guessing myself. I'm tired of living in this "Spirit of timidity and fear" that God didn't give me. Instead I'm living out my "spirit of power, love and self-control." And I believe it's the cross-centered life front and center while leading others to live that same cross-centered life 24/7. 

I pray you'll join me as we head this way. I believe it's why God has led us to go through Acts (again). Because we still haven't learned the lesson to the point that we're living the lesson. Will you join me? Will you pray with me?

Monday, August 16, 2010

College for Kelsi

Well, it's almost here. We leave to take Kelsi to Liberty University this week. Our first born headed to the excitement that is the American college campus.

I couldn't wait to go. I remember the thoughts: Freedom! Girls! Allyoucaneatbuffet3X/day! Football games!...you remember...

Well, I'm not having those exact same thoughts for our Kelsi.  No, not by a long shot. Instead, I'm thinking things like...boys (99% scum), freedom (overrated!), allyoucaneatbuffet3x/day (can't be THAT good for you...do they have a gym?), football games (shouldn't you be studying?)...yeah, how things have changed.

So what will keep me sane these next 3 years (no pressure but that's the plan)? God promises us that he will be with us. He promises Kelsi that too. And even though I won't be there to keep her safe (or to maintain the illusion that I really could), God will be.

The other thing that encourages me is Moses. His mother only had him for a few years. Then he was off to the Egyptian palace where he got the best education in the world (except that it was void of the one true God). And yet he never lost sight of who he was. And God used him mightily. I'm grateful for a wife who made it her joy, priority, and privilege to raise Kelsi at home full-time. The results speak for themselves. (Thanks Babe, you're the greatest!)

So off she goes soon. To become all that God has created her to be. I am looking forward to watching her mature out from under my wings. In the meantime I'll just keep praying that God will remind me that He is with her...and there's no better place to be than in His presence.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Great Tool 4 Making Sense of the Bible

When I first began seriously studying the Bible as a young adult, I had my trusty Thompson-Chain Reference Bible (which I didn't really know how to use) and, well, that's all. No maps, charts, diagrams, or dictionaries. If it wasn't in my Bible-I didn't have it. But I was fine with that because I didn't know what I was missing. I'd never been introduced to good study tools.

Let me introduce "someone" to you.

This is my review of Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts (3rd Edition). Simple stated, it's a terrific tool for those getting into the game of learning God's word. And let's get real: we need tools to help us.

Things are lost in the translation of the Bible which was written over a period of 1,500 years more than 2,000 years ago by 40 or more different authors. It's an intimidating task to even READ the whole Bible This book will help change that.

Charts and maps in vibrant color are laid out in a clean, clear, refreshing format. I love to flip through it and just stop and read. Their use of color makes information much easier to grasp and retain. They've done a terrific job of this making the Bible more accessible.

The narrative is simple and easy to understand while full of the most relevant information. It includes the research that you wish you had while reading a particular section of the Bible. It answers those questions that arise quickly when reading a book of the Bible related to historical context.

They've organized it logically making it easy to connect to your actual Bible as well as to the historical timeline. In short, they help the student navigate the Bible in it's historical context.

I personally loved the paperback version I reviewed. It was well-balanced and easy to flip through without closing on itself when laid down on the desk.

Nelson has done Bible students a real service with this latest edition of this tool. I recommend you get one and then buy one for your loved one.

Disclaimer: Nelson provided me a free copy of this book to review. I was delighted to share it with a good friend as he begins his studies of the Bible. Thanks Nelson!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Citizenship Matters to the Christ-follower

From her "Capital Prayer Alert" dated 8.09.10, an email by Carol Bauer:
As I look to Election Day 2010 -- November 2nd -- two figures come to my mind.  First, 38.4 percent of eligible voters did not cast a ballot for president in 2008.  In a year when the races for the White House and Congress cost $5.3 billion, political ads permeated television and radio, print ads filled mail boxes and voter outreach was unprecedented, nearly 4 in 10 eligible voters chose not to exercise this precious right... 
Second, and worse yet, 39.9 percent of eligible voters did not vote in the last mid-term election in 2006.  You will recall that the leadership in Congress changed hands in that election and then proceeded to lay the groundwork for some of the sweeping policy changes of the past couple years.  

Are you registered? Register. Pray. Vote. God will take care of the rest. (Romans 13)