Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Impossible To-Do List

“Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”
1 Peter 2:17 ESV


Peter gives us an impossible to-do list. It's also a picture of the three kinds of relationships we're to live out by grace through faith: Upward, inward and outward relationships. Up, in and out. (Think triangle with UP at the top)

UP - "Fear God." This is our posture in our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Holy respect, honor and awe for his holiness and power.

IN - "Love the brotherhood." Peter is referring to our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Church. These "insiders" are family. We love them out of the overflow of loving our good God.

OUT - "Love Honor everyone...honor the emperor." Peter reminds us to love and respect everyone no matter where they stand with God. This is the missional impulse of a rescuing God. He calls us to join him in this great work.

(See Jesus flesh out these 3 kinds of relationships in Luke 6:12-19.)

This is what we do as Christ-followers. If you follow Jesus, you do what he did. We love God (UP) and love people (IN and OUT). But not in our own strength.

We cannot do this apart from the grace of God. Pray for His Spirit to work in and through you to accomplish this impossible to-do list.

What is God saying to you?

What are you going to do about it?

Who should you share this truth with today?

Note: The UP, IN, OUT triangle comes from Mike Breen and the team at 3DM Ministries. 3DMovements.com for more information and resources

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Fragrance Pleasing to God

“I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.”
Philippians 4:18 ESV

Paul has received kind and generous support from the Philippian Christians. He thanks and encourages them here for their pattern of godly behavior. 

Paul describes the abundant gifts he received from them in v. 18. He says they are:

1. A fragrant offering. 

This speaks to an aroma wafting from them like a nice cologne or perfume, or like the smell of a rose exploding in bloom. It's ultimately an offering because it's to their Lord, Jesus. In this, Paul applauds theIr effort and then elevates it.

2. A sacrifice. 

This continues down the road of sacrificial offering to Jesus. That is, a very costly gift. It's giving until it hurts. 

3. A sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 

Not just something that is costly and painful to give--it's pleasing to God. 

God accepts it because it's given in the spirit of the law of Christ--selfless love. Loving their neighbor (in this case, Paul) as themselves, they give to him abundantly and sacrificially. This is clearly something they did by faith. In other words, they did it even though they may not know where the money for their own needs will come from. The early church was full of recently impoverished people. This faith "pleases" God. (C.f. Hebrews 11:6)

So in describing the Philippian's gift to him, Paul exalts them and blesses them with encouraging words so they'll repeat this behavior and live with this attitude of gratitude and generosity. 

For me, this has at least two applications.

First, I should get more comfortable giving until it hurts--especially to those in need serving the Lord in the mission field. 

Paul is under house arrest in Rome at this point. He's under arrest because of his missionary activity. While he's learned to be content in all circumstances, it's no doubt encouraging to receive gifts and money to provide for his many physical needs. 

Second, I must remember that many brothers and sisters in Christ are sacrificially giving to the Church. As a pastor, it's easy to think that people should grow up and give as God teaches them to. It's easy to get frustrated with the lack of giving in the face of so much need. It's easy to focus on what's not happening and miss what is happening. 

Lord, help me give and receive gracefully and graciously. Give me a grateful heart! Keep me from unfair and misinformed judgments. Find me generous and cheerful in my giving. Help me live as if Jesus' words, "It's more blessed to give than to receive" are actually.

Thank you for the priceless gift of your son Jesus Christ. He saved my life. I give you mine. 

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Top 10 Podcasts in 2015

I have been listening to podcasts for several years now. It's basically like TiVo for radio. 

However, now some podcasts are created solely for, well, podcast audiences. They just skip past radio. Others are made for radio and then podcasted. I last posted my top 10 back in 2012

My preferences are just that--what I like to listen to based on my own interests as an NFL fan, church leader and cultural influencer. 

Here are my Top 10 this year:

10. Your Move. Andy Stanley shows up several times in my top 10. He's a great communicator with life-changing content. Here is his attempt to reach folks who watch late night TV/comedy--many of whom will never step foot into a church. 

Your Move is actually a TV program hosted by Andy Stanley. He speaks in contemporary language about the life-changing truths in the Bible. He does it with humor, object lessons and simple, sticky statements of truth. 

9. The Briefing. Albert Mohler is brilliant. This man has to have a photographic memory and high IQ to talk about the things he talks about. 

He comes from an Evangelical Christian worldview on The Briefing showing that evangelical Christian does not mean you do not use your brain. Quite the contrary, in fact. 

He reads articles in major secular publications (NYTimes, WSJ, etc.) and comments on the cultural trends and changes he sees. As a result, you are challenged to think about what you believe and how you live. It can be a little tedious at times. He's intellectual and moves quickly. Yet even just a few crumbs from each episode will sharpen your mind and thinking on the great issues of our day.

8. Fantasy Focus Football Podcast. (ESPN) Matthew Berry continues his run in entertaining "Mediocre Fantasy Advice" in over 10 seasons of NFL fantasy football expert advice and nonsense. First-year host Field Yates does what I never thought anyone could do--out host Nate Ravitz. Otherwise, Berry would be a shadow of who he could be. Nice choice in Yates, to be sure! As a raving fantasy football-er, this podcast on trivia of trivia is a welcome diversion to my day. 

7. The Eric Metaxas Show. Eric Metaxas is a delight. He's brilliant too. Did I say he's passionate? He's passionate! He cares deeply about life, culture and what's happening in our world today. An accomplished author, he thinks deeply about the greater issues of our day. He's able to do this with a levity that few can pull off. His wit and charm compliment conversations on some pretty heavy topics. 

6. Passion City Church - The only church making my top 10 this year is Louie Giglio's plant in Atlanta, GA. He brings most of the messages here and boy does he bring it. 

There are many great church podcasts out there that I listen to. I chose Louie because he paints pictures like few do in his messages. He challenges the mind and the heart by displaying God in all his brilliance. His genuine passion is contagious. Go download and listen!

5. Breakpoint Daily - John Stonestreet and Eric Metaxas tag-team on this daily 3-minute program formerly hosted by Chuck Colson. Speaking from a biblical worldview, these gentlemen bring commentary on all that's happening in the news today. A must-listen for those serious about changing our culture for good.

4. The ChurchLeaders Podcast - This one is new to me. I love interviews and they bring great ones. You'll have a blast catching up too. A growing library will entertain and inform you for weeks to come.

3. Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast - An Andy Stanley-disciple, Carey is still his own man. He is a great communicator through all things tech. He writes, speaks, podcasts and is a master at interviewing. His blog is a terrific source of free resources too. Love this guy's heart for "Helping you lead like never before." Way to go, Carey!

2. Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast - This is still my favorite leadership podcast. Andy is at his best when he's communicating to leaders who want to change the world through church, non-profit or business. The truth he drops is priceless. I don't miss these. In fact, I listen to them over and over again.

1. The World and Everything in It - The only thing I don't like about this podcast is it's awkwardly long title. I concede it is a good description, however. 

It's my daily source of news and commentary on what's happening in the world. In less than 25 minutes each morning I can get the news of the day, social commentary with heart and soul, and equipping to engage our culture through great thinkers of great faith. The new app leaves a little to be desired. I have continued to listen through the itunes podcast app.

Honorable Mention

  • 3DM Podcast - The content flows from the 3DM (3 Dimensional Ministries Movement). If only they'd keep posting. At this point there are only 9 episodes. Each one is terrific. But the last one was in August. Please do more!
I'm always checking out new podcasts so feel free to post below what you like and listen to. I'd like to check them out!

If you have not tried listening to podcasts, I encourage you to download a great podcasting app and give it a try!

Thursday, December 03, 2015

King Hezekiah's seal discovered in Jerusalem - CNN.com

We often joke about a verse being found in the "Book of Hezekiah" in the Bible (there is no such book), but here archeological evidence that he was a real king...in fact, the greatest other than David. We can learn a lot from this king of a idolater. Are we so different? Amazing find!

King Hezekiah's seal discovered in Jerusalem - CNN.com: