I think we often want everything to be neatly organized and packaged. Life is messy, and things are messy. The Gospel is clear, but I think the Gospel lived out in the context of a broken world is going to be messy, and we have to understand that and give permission to languish and to swim and do ministry in that kind of messy space.
Month: September 2012
Quote: All Time
If Time Magazine was really honest with themselves, they would call Jesus the Most Influential Man of All Time. Every year. For all time.
Question: So About Bible Translations
Hi again! So, Bible translations. Are you a supporter of any specific one that you think believers should at least possess? Or are you more like which ever one suits your fancy as long as you pray for the Holy Spirit to lead and guide? I know there are some like the Message that are pretty much so universally disliked, but yea, translations. Thanks!
Please first humbly allow me to point to this chart, which you may have seen:
While I don’t have a perfectly straight answer on this one, I can tell you that overall it doesn’t really matter. It bugs me when preachers yell, “That NIV is so weak right there,” because that shakes the confidence of non-scholars (who are most of us) when we get alone with the Bible.
Find one you like and stick with it. I like some better than others, but nearly all are just fine.
God gave us diligent people to translate the books into tons of languages; it appears English is the only translation that people go NUTS over. Most translations are good ones, and I hope the church doesn’t divide yet again over one more issue.
To go into more detail:
Quote: Not Just
Only with time do we really learn who the other person is and come to love the person for him- or herself and not just for the feelings and experiences they give us.
— Timothy Keller
Men and women who want to love: let’s simply love people to pieces. No more charades of “prayer-at-a-distance” or “We-need-to-pray-that-he-gets-it.” Yes, wash them in prayer. But now jump in there. Encourage. Yank them out of that loop of self-loathing. If you hate: please let it go. By the grace of God, go save a life. Hate is predictable, tired, ordinary, and steals life. You can walk out of that prison and be free, then instill that freedom.
Loving people: this is where it gets real and it’s no longer abstract doctrine. To really love people and restore them, to get in the grit of their lives and lift them off the floor. It’s messy. It’s painful. It’s not romantic. It’s what Jesus did, and they killed him. But it’s what we’re made for.
Update: The Final Push for $10,000
Earlier this year, I pledged to save $10,000 to give away to charity. I had cut my income in half to do so, and my goal was to finish by December.
Currently, I have saved $8500 and I’m still on track (I’m actually ahead). I am considering a specific organization and will contact the leader this week. At this point, I’m also considering a “dollar-for-dollar” matching so that anyone else can add to the $10,000.
Please pray for me so I can finish strong. If you’re interested in helping, please let me know. Love y’all.
A faith without some doubts is like a human body with no antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask the hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic. A person’s faith can collapse almost overnight if she failed over the years to listen patiently to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection.
— Timothy Keller
Quote: Calling Us
“Sometimes we experience a terrible dryness in our spiritual life. We feel no desire to pray, don’t experience God’s presence, get bored with worship services, and even think that everything we have ever believed about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is little more than a childhood fairy tale.
Then it is important to realize that most of these feelings and thoughts are just feelings and thoughts, and that the Spirit of God dwells beyond our feelings and thoughts. It is a great grace to be able to experience God’s presence in our feelings and thoughts, but when we don’t, it does not mean that God is absent. It often means that God is calling us to a greater faithfulness. It is precisely in those times of spiritual dryness that we must hold on to our spiritual discipline so that we can grow into new intimacy with God.”
— Henri Nouwen
Quote: Back Up
You can be totally comfortable in the world by sitting down and standing for nothing. But if you stand for something, be prepared to get knocked down. And right back up again.
Just because someone does it a different way than you does NOT make it wrong. As long as they’re not committing heresy or punching animals or doing Nazi experiments, let it go and encourage them. Otherwise you’re stepping on the unified diversity of an infinitely wise God who has a bigger imagination than your own.
Question: I Want People To Like Me Or I’ll Die Probably
How does one get over the sin of being liked or accepted by the people around them? I struggle so hard by not caring and reminding me that Christ’s love is enough, but sometimes its just so hard not to care and to not forget that Christ’s love is enough. I want to change, but it seems like every time I try I keep stumbling and failing. What should I do?
Along with anger, lust, and pride, this is one of the most besetting sins I’ve ever had the non-pleasure of battling. May I first please point you to a message I did on this recently here, called “I Am Addicted To People.” I talk about the Five Types of People-Pleasers: Entertainer, Rescuer, Romantic, Reputation, and Victim.
The main problem goes by a lot of names: People-Pleasing, Attention-Seeking, Co-Dependency, Peer Pressure, Daddy Issues, Attention-Whore, Class-Clown, Yes-Man. It’s all from the same motives.
There are some fundamental issues to explore with wanting to be liked by people. Once you expose the lies, you can begin to see your way to the truth.
Continue reading “Question: I Want People To Like Me Or I’ll Die Probably”
A Christian is not a person who believes in his head the teachings of the Bible. Satan believes in his head the teachings of the Bible! A Christian is a person who has died with Christ, whose stiff neck has been broken, whose brazen forehead has been shattered, whose stony heart has been crushed, whose pride has been slain, and whose life is now mastered by Jesus Christ.
— John Piper
The World In Need Of Love
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.
— C.S. Lewis
I’m not sure why we have a problem with God being a ‘crutch’ when we are certainly dislocated in the soul.
Grace Enough For Your Past Self: God Working In Spite Of Screw-Ups
There’s a time when you screw up and everyone knows it and you try to hide it: but God can still explode the consequences with His grace. That’s why it’s grace.
If you don’t think so, there’s this book called the Bible which talks about a cross where Jesus paid for that so you wouldn’t have to. True story.
It means you can stop hiding from yourself and let go of what people say about you.
Recently a megachurch pastor took down his entire backlog of sermon podcasts because of his “growth” in doctrinal knowledge. Any sermons before a certain time period were apparently no longer a reflection of his current beliefs.
In a few years, will this pastor continue to delete old sermons? Will any of his sermons today still stand up to future scrutiny? Does this mean that anyone who attended his church in the past did not grow from those deleted sermons? Wasn’t God working then too?
A popular Christian blogger recently tore apart a popular Christian book on marriage by a megachurch pastor. The blogger remarked that she found it atrocious the pastor admitted to severe marriage problems: because the timing implies that this pastor was still preaching while he was living in sin.
But by this blogger’s logic, this would disqualify every single pastor ever from preaching or serving, much less being saved by God’s grace. Sin is sin, large or small. Is there really no value in this pastor’s book or ministry or life? If all our secrets are displayed for everyone to see, does this instantly cancel every good thing we have ever done?
If we’re limiting God’s graciousness to our own human ideas of fairness, then every one of us should have burst into flames at birth. Absolutely no one is worthy to merit God’s favor: but here we are, Christian or not, meriting the breath to breathe and thoughts to think and lives to live, and Christian or not, we are still under the same God with the same standard who offers the same grace.
Anything we ever get to do of worth is by the grace of God alone. God works in spite of the mixed mess of our motives and in the midst of our secret double lives. No human sees the full scope of this: we can only plead for the grace.
I’m glad a pastor has the humility to confess his old sermons are probably not orthodox anymore, and I’m also bothered by a pastor who has confessed that he was preaching on marriage while his own marriage was failing. But both of these thoughts can quickly ignore the God who has grace enough to cover our errors, shortcomings, imperfections, and screw-ups.
None of us get it right every time — but we can still be a vehicle for God’s perfect work. None of us completely understand the fullness of God’s nature or His Word — but we can still know Him, experience Him, hear from Him. None of us are ever so far from the sovereign hand of God that He can’t rescue us from a life of destruction — or else we are diminishing the soul-punching uppercut-power of God’s interrupting grace.
He can and does cover the worst of us, not because we deserve it, but exactly because we cannot.
Continue reading “Grace Enough For Your Past Self: God Working In Spite Of Screw-Ups”
“The spiritual basis for all our idolatry is we try to find wholeness where we’re not whole. That’s why we get caught up in non-essential things: we’re addicted to what we can see. We take shortcuts to fill our infinite need with immediate wants. That’s living by sight, not by faith.
“But these existential desires are not wrong. It’s because of sin we illegitimately fulfill them. To be human IS to have desires – and that’s totally frustrating. It’s horrifying to think we’re bottomless. We’re limited beings with infinite appetites. Yet that’s also Good News. Because that also means we’re designed for infinite joy. An endless falling in love with God, more and more for eternity, all hope and healing and life in Christ alone.”