Quote: Switch

It is easy to see that you and I have been created to worship. We’re flat-out desperate for it. From sports fanaticism to celebrity tabloids to all the other strange sorts of voyeurisms now normative in our culture, we evidence that we were created to look at something beyond ourselves and marvel at it, desire it, like it with zeal, and love it with affection. Our thoughts, our desires, and our behaviors are always oriented around something, which means we are always worshiping — ascribing worth to — something. If it’s not God, we are engaging in idolatry. But either way, there is no way to turn the worship switch in our hearts off.

— Matt Chandler

To Love Means

To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.

— G.K. Chesterton

Awkward Theological Moments: The Difference Between a Speech And a Sermon

One time after guest preaching at a Friday night service, someone sauntered up, shook my hand with both of his, and said with all sincerity, “That was a great speech.” On some level I knew he was a baby Christian, but on a deeper level I knew I had failed my task.

When we teach or preach or listen to a sermon, it is absolutely difficult not to view it as a performance or pep rally. At conferences we “grade” the speaker like an Amazon rating and consider it a badge of doctrinal authority if we download certain podcasts. People also naturally float towards charisma, adrenaline, and spiritual highs. The funny speaker is seen as the true speaker. And while humor, passion, and personality can be used to draw people in, ultimately it must be towards Jesus alone. A speech speaks on itself; a sermon points to Him.

I understand this is hard to sort out, particularly in a consumerist culture that treats even the church like winetasting. It’s a struggle for both pastors and churchgoers to draw that line. So here are three major differences between a sermon and a speech to give us discernment for both preachers and the congregation.

Continue reading “Awkward Theological Moments: The Difference Between a Speech And a Sermon”

Quote: Interrupts

It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between grace and karma.
[Karma says] what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called grace to upend all that ‘as you sow, so you will reap’ stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.
It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

— Bono from U2

Quote: Richly Blessed

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve – I was made weak, that I might learn to humbly obey.

I asked God for help that I might do greater things – I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.

I asked for riches, that I might be happy – I was given poverty, that I might be wise.

I got nothing I asked for – but everything I had hoped for. Despite myself, my prayers were answered. I am, among all men, most richly blessed.

— Anonymous

When You Want To Quit: Just One More Step

Continuing the teachings on the Book of Proverbs: Seeing From God’s Side.
This is a short summary on the sixth and final sermon, titled “He Falls Seven Times, Stands Up Eight: Perseverance.”
Summaries for part one here, part two here, part three here, part four here, and part five here.

Proverbs 24:16 says, “For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.”

There’s a moment when you want to quit everything. I don’t mean you physically remove yourself from school, work, family, or church, but you can mentally check out. It’s possible to quit without quitting.

Usually the four reasons we mentally quit are:

1) Blaming others: “If it weren’t for these people and this place, then …”
2) Burn-out: “I’m just exhausted, they got me doing too much.”
3) Guilt: “I’m not good enough, I keep failing, I messed it up.”
4) Discouragement: “Everyone hates me. No one is encouraging.”

It’s possible that all these things are true: it’s everyone else’s fault, we’re burned out, we’re guilty of things we shouldn’t be doing, and we’re discouraged. It would make sense to quit.

So how do we keep going? How do we stand up on the eighth time after falling down seven?

Continue reading “When You Want To Quit: Just One More Step”

Quote: Nothing Good

Nothing good ever comes easy. Think of the ease which we fall. Distractions become destruction. A taste becomes addiction. A lie becomes your life.
The good takes an uphill climb. Discipline becomes delight. Perseverance becomes maturity. Love is a choice. All things beautiful start from the broken, and with focus emerges how we were created to be.

Quote: Meantime

You want to know how other people see you, but here’s the thing: They all wanna know how everyone else sees them too. You’re desperately treading water in this vast ocean of insecurity alongside everyone else, but in the meantime God loves you. God has accepted you. God sent His own Son to endure Hell itself to win you back. You can go from floating aimlessly in the waves with everyone else to standing on the solid, firm ground of the love of God. You just have to decide to believe the truth.

— Lee Younger

Quote: Golf

Religions that ask nothing get nothing. You’ve got a choice: you can be a church or a country club. If you’re going to be a church, you’d better offer religion on Sunday. If you’re not, you’d better build a golf course, because you’re not going to get away with being a country club with no golf course.

Rodney Stark

Quote: The Truth

Don’t worry, friend. They may lie about you, mock you, hate on you, and drag your name through mud, but you are not built on what they say anyway. The truth always comes to light, and your demeanor through it all says more than words can. Let truth win.

Quote: Chasing

Ladies: sometimes (most of the time) a dude is being nice because he’s only chasing after one thing. To him, you’re not a human being, but a personal vending machine to feed his lust and ego. Sometimes (rarely) a dude is being nice because he’s chasing after Jesus. To him, you’re not only a real human being but also a God-made creation with an amazing purpose and future. Pray you’d know the difference and don’t be fooled.

It’s Them Or It’s Me: But It’s Probably Me

I’m quick to blame others because 99% of the time, I’m right that they’re wrong. I have these really ironclad, airtight, foolproof reasons why I have to be right. There’s no way other people could have thoughts of their own. I’ve seen every angle, I’m being fair and honest, I see what they can’t, I’m telling both sides of the story as it really is.

They’re holding me down, man. They’re making my job harder. I could do much better if it weren’t for these rules and restrictions. Once I get my own thing going, I’ll do all the things they never let me do. Then they’ll see, you know. They’ll regret not tapping into my unrealized fount of pure raw wisdom.

I think like this all the time. It’s true that they are, in fact, holding me down. It’s true that I’m set aside and stepped on; there are better things being built on my back while I do the grunt work. It’s true these people could care less for my well-being. And yes, I’m right and they’re wrong.

But — I get the sneaking suspicion that maybe I use THEM as an excuse to do the bare minimum. I have a way of doing the easiest part of the work, of slipping away from manual duties, of checking out my brain when I feel this is “beneath me.” It’s pride. It’s selfishness. It’s all the things I’m not willing to say about myself, because it’s a horrifying realization I don’t know how to confront yet.

Maybe they are right about a few things, and I am wrong about many things. And my well-being shouldn’t be based on what’s happening around me, but on the actual opportunities given. We have a way of seeing how we’re held down instead of the places we could build up. Because more than fearing failure, many times I fear success. I am a coward not because I do little, but because I’m afraid of the unimaginable possibilities of real potential for greatness.

Continue reading “It’s Them Or It’s Me: But It’s Probably Me”

Quote: The Cross

The Cross exposes us for what we are. The punishment our evil warrants answers the question, ‘How evil are we?’ The Cross is a mirror showing us the heart-stopping magnitude of our depravity and offers a terrible glimpse of Hell’s misery.
The Cross is also a lens showing us God’s uncompromising holiness and wrath that demand such a price for sin. It’s also a magnifying glass showing us the sweeping vastness of God’s grace and love, that he would be willing to pay a price he knew would be so horrific.
Everything before the Cross points forward to it. Everything since the Cross points back to it. Everything that will last was purchased on it. Everything that matters hinges on it.

— Randy Alcorn