Tag Archives: passion

Are You Stuck in the Old Testament?

imagesMany of us do it. We live an Old Testament existence in a world of New Testament promises. I guess Law will always appeal to our flesh more than Grace. So we go along mistaking the physical lesson of the Old Testament for the spiritual truth of the New Testament.

Recently, there it was in my Bible reading. In Joshua 5 there was a lesson I found thrilling. Here were the Children of Israel freshly arrived in the Promised Land, and after the drama of the Jordan crossing, the Lord’s first order of business was the practice of circumcision. They had carried it out years before in Egypt, but over the years of wandering they had neglected it.

Well, we are supposed to look at OT stories with NT light, right? The circumcision that the Lord is really after is circumcision of heart. So many times we neglect it and it is urgent that we put it in practice again. Just think of the pain of carrying out that call to circumcision! I understand that “sharp knives” of Joshua’s day were flint stones. I don’t want to be too graphic, but I would dread it! Any surgery with stones instead of modern day knives would terrify me.  So, I suppose even at the cost of discomfort we must do the work the Lord seeks in our hearts. In verse 9 we were even told that “This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you.” He never said it until the events of this chapter. This we need and in verses 13-15 the Lord came. Pretty exciting stuff, huh?

These lessons get by us too easily. We’d rather pull out the stones of flint than do real heart surgery. We’ll inflict the pain of body and leave our souls at ease.

We become consumed with the object lessons. We prefer the tangible, outward things over the spiritual, inward things. Since this lacks spiritual power, we turn on each other and watch for the pool of blood and listen for the screams.  We are always ready to point out everyone’s failure as if circumcision could tell us all of our hearts. Our conclusions miss the point and hurt others, as well as ourselves. Need I remind you that Jesus has come through in the interim between Joshua and us?

Perhaps we find the pain exhilarating. Perhaps we enjoy it more if we see others suffering with us. I don’t know. We inspect the circumcision, so to speak, while the Lord says you are seeing the object itself as the lesson and missing the point. But we can see the circumcision and we can prove we did it. We can never prove what is in our hearts. We settle for what we can impress others with while being indifferent to what might please the Lord. We live the Old Testament as if the Lord had no greater revelation in the New Testament to share. Pretty ridiculous, wouldn’t you agree?

If I saw the point I’d pray for my heart and yours. I’d listen carefully as the Lord spoke to me and encourage you to do the same. But I’d leave the stones of flint to your own consideration and ask you to keep them away from me. Live the Old Testament if you please and I’ll keep my mouth shut. As for me, though, I’m rather fond of the New Testament.

Do You REALLY Care about Your Family?

Do you care about your spouse? Does it matter to you what your children will become? Not what they will do for work – but who they will be – what they will become.

What legacy you are leaving for your grandchildren?

Happy family preparing a healthy dinner at home.

In our parenting journey, Sarah and I have noted essentials for healthy families. Every family can do these!

Discover and pursue their dreams

If you are spending significant quality time with family members, then it’s likely that you are intimately familiar with their ambitions, passions, and dreams. And when you are, you can help them fulfill those dreams.

Nearly every day I do something or say something to help my wife and children take the next step in the pursuit of their passions.

This is important – these are not MY dreams for them. Rather I’m encouraging them to pursue the calling and the passion that lies within them.

Consequently, I must regularly assess my understanding of their dreams as they evolve. And I must evaluate my motivations for challenging them to move forward.

Independence

This area was particularly challenging for me because of my tendency to be too engaged in most everything.

I’m a problem-solver. So I naturally want to fix problems – some before they even occur.

But my problem-solving occasionally robs others of valuable life experiences. So I’ve had to learn to back off of problem-solving and allow others to grow through their experiences.

When Madison was very young I began allowing her more and more freedom to make healthy decisions – decisions about spending and saving, planning family trips, getting involved in athletics, doing chores.

This week she told Sarah and me about a product that she’d like to invent and how she plans to do it. Another evening she drafted a simple plan for a business she’d like to start.

In reality, she often falls short of her ambition. And that’s ok – because failing facilitates growth.

I want those closest to me to know that I believe in their dreams. And I want them to know that I will do everything possible to support them. More than anything, I want to challenge them to follow their calling with abandon.

Pursue spirituality

I’m not sure if it’s your style or not – but Sarah and I encourage Madison to pursue spirituality. As a result, she loves church. She loves to read Scripture. She loves to pray with us…

Over the past 2 months our family has experienced a significant transition which included moving 1300 miles to a new home and community. So our schedules got all out of whack.

Prior to our transition we’d been praying with Madison every night. (We pray at other times throughout the day too – but our bedtime prayers have become a special time for us.)

This week we’re finally getting back into a routine. So last night I laid down with Madison to pray. She went first – “God, I know we haven’t prayed in a while…” Whoops!

I love that she understands the importance of faith and that it plays a significant role in her life.

It’s a non-negotiable, a top priority for us.

This post is part of the series – Non-Negotiables For a Healthy Family
Part 1: Family – It Doesn’t Have to be This Way

Question: What non-negotiable would you add to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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Gospel-Oriented Prayer

I hear the words echoing in my mind: Prayer is asking and receiving. Though that statement contains truth, I can’t help asking if it paints a very full picture.

Both Tim Keller & Jack Miller talk about the difference between “maintenance prayer” and “frontline” prayer meetings.

If I understand them correctly, maintenance prayer meetings are characteristically mechanical, primarily focused on physical needs, and relatively short. But frontline prayer meetings have three basic traits:

  • People ask God for grace to confess sins and humble themselves
  • There is an expression of compassion and zeal for the church’s advancement
  • There is a tangible yearning to know God, to see his face, and to see his glory.

So just to recap, people get real, get filled with hope, and get focused on God’s glory!

Why is the distinction between “maintenance” & “frontline” prayer so important? Because these authors believe that frontline prayer is always connected to real revival.

Keller says:

Biblically and historically, the one non-negotiable, universal ingredient in times of spiritual renewal (read revival) is corporate, prevailing, intensive and kingdom-centered prayer. 

He sites Acts 4, Exodus 33, and Nehemiah 1 as examples. Our attention is drawn to the disciples in Acts 4 who don’t pray for safety in a time of peril but only asked God for the courage to keep preaching.

I would say that these types of prayer gatherings are a right and natural response to the gospel itself. When we begin to grasp God’s grace, we become focused on Jesus and find freedom from building our own image in the eyes of other broken men. Honesty and repentance are enabled and we can begin to get real. This will be reflected in the way we pray with others.

Are you overly concerned with how much your brothers may find out about you as you pray with them? Take another look at the gospel.

Do you “hedge your bets” when you pray, or do you find yourself asking God to show up in God-sized ways? If you pray small prayers, take another look at what God has already done for you in the gospel.

Do you find yourself coming up dry or pretending when you know you should be praising, worshiping, and seeing God’s glory? Take another look at the gospel. Look at Jesus—in Him we will find & see the fullness of the Godhead!

What do our prayer meetings look like? Maintenance or frontline? Defense or offense? Dead orthodoxy or passionate spiritual renewal?

So is prayer asking and receiving? Yeah, but one of the gospel’s effects in our lives should be to change what we ask for!

Article by Brian Norris

@BrianNorris

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I Don’t Know & I Don’t Care!

Wouldn’t you agree that the two biggest problems in our churches are IGNORANCE and APATHY?  It seems like we’ve crossed a threshold of comfort-level Christianity today.  The Scriptures warn us that the days will come when “sound doctrine” and “godliness” will seem to be things of the past (2 Tim. 3:5, 4:3).

Ignorance is epidemic.  Though many can quote Bible verses and go on and on about Bible stories, those same people have no real idea how Biblical principles impact their daily lives.  They don’t see the connection between their relationship with God and their marriage, between God’s wisdom and their parenting.  They don’t understand how the Bible relates to them being a good employee, a good citizen, or even a good church member.  Culture says: Church & the Bible are ineffective relics of a by-gone era and must give way to new ideas.  As a result, in order to show tolerance, to not offend, and to be politically-correct, pastors and churches have so watered-down the message that it’s no longer bright- or salty-enough to make a difference (Matt. 5:13-14).  All expectations should be thrown out when assuming an American’s familiarity with the core message of the gospel.

Apathy is the tragic norm.  I know you’ve heard this before – but churches are full of members with ‘big ears’ and ‘big rears.’  The average Christian’s spiritual life consists of coming to church, sitting on a pew, and listening to a sermon once a week.  While many sermons challenge a person’s gluteus maximus (by sitting through long sermons) and the tympanic membrane (by enduring loud or obnoxious voices), far too-few challenge a person’s volition (cognitive, decision-making skills) or their mind.  Too many pastors educate and never inspire.  The church doesn’t seem to care about what’s happening around them – calloused to the condition of the world.  Politics, the economy, natural disasters, wars… I’m afraid there are a lot of people who need to wake up to what’s really going on!

1. Be intentional about your growth.  Purpose to not remain stagnate.  The measure of this is NOT your amount of service at church or even necessarily your frequency to attend church meetings.  Although this is a tough one to measure, try to!  Ask yourself:  Do I spend more time with God than I used to?  Do I trust Him more?  Am I more/less patient with others than before?  Do I demonstrate more/less grace?

2. Determine to remain passionate about your faith.  Be sympathetic and don’t let the emotionless disregard for others dull your sensitivity for life.  There is so much to feel (compassion) – and so much to do (in helping others).  Locate and destroy any of pockets of apathy in your life.  Take this personally: it’s time we cared about what’s at stake!  Ask yourself: Am I numb to the reality of Hell?  Do I care about those around me enough to take action?  What would it feel like to love like Jesus loves?

I’m curious what you think… Is ignorance or apathy more rampant [POLL]?  Which is worst [COMMENTS]?  How should preachers respond?

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

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Two Sides

“Hey, I’m just bein’ honest here,” or “I’m goin’ to tell it like it is,” more often than not are ways of setting up the fact that we are about to say something unflattering or unkind that we shouldn’t be saying at all as Christians.  With that in mind, I would like to offer a thought with a minor book review.

I will not be telling it like it is…I will be telling it like it should be.

A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible by Robert H. Stein was a very good book.  The focal point of the book is Hermeneutics: the practice or discipline of interpretation.  Stein discusses and argues the various points of view in interpreting Scripture as well as discussing translation.  I was reminded of a few men in our church as I read the book.  They are Scholars and Theologians.  Because they are clinical, analytical, and want to dissect and understand all of the Biblical facts, it often seems like they have no passion at all.

I, on the other hand, am full of passion when it comes to the Bible in a different way.  When I was six years old, my father owned a 1966 Pontiac convertible 2+2.  It was sharp.  As we drove down the road one day (with me in the passenger seat beside him and no seatbelt) I turned and said, “Punch it Dad.”  My father looked at me with a mischievous grin and said, “What do you mean…This,” as he kicked the accelerator to the floor.  I was pushed back into the seat and laughing as the car gained speed and the wind blew across our faces.  It was pure joy.  Over the next ten years, my father taught me the mechanics of the automobile so I could properly take care of my own vehicles someday.  I spent a lot of time under the hood of cars learning how they worked and what moved what and why.  It was interesting and I enjoyed it, but all of those hours spent under the hood of our cars dissecting and understanding could not bring about or mimic the joy I felt when Dad “punched it.”

The point is, in our Christian life we need both.  I need those Scholars and Theologians in our church.  I learn a great deal and am able to appreciate Scripture on many levels that I never would have been able to without them.  They, on the other hand, get to feel the pure child-like joy of Scripture.  A passion that understands while Moses and Paul had no idea what they wrote would be translated…And they didn’t know English, Spanish or Russian…God knew.  He knew every language there would ever be and He knew the words they used in Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic would be perfectly translated into words you and I read today, because He has a perfectly translated message for you and me.  Trust me, that kind of passion is contagious.

So no matter which camp you find yourself in, look to the other side with appreciation.  Jesus said the greatest commandment was Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is one time we are both right.

 

 

Article by C.S. Depew

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