Life Changer

I recently finished a book that has changed my life. It is called The God I Never Knew by Robert Morris. I can’t really explain what it has meant to me without you know more about the book. But I also know you have plenty to do beside reading a 186 page book. So I’ve come across the next best thing. Video. The author did a video series covering the book. It is pretty well done and I think does a good job of getting you the gist of the book. So here is a link (if the link doesn’t work just go to youtube and search for The God I Never Knew by Robert Morris), just click here.

Enjoy, report back if you think it was a worthwhile endeavor.

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New Book

I received a new book as an early Christmas present from my sister. I am stoked to read it even though it is tough reading. It is an autobiography by Theodore Roosevelt. He is a decent writer even though his thoughts meander all over the place so it’s hard to keep track of where he is headed. But nonetheless it is interesting. I found this quote from the book making me want to share it:

“It is a dreadful misfortune for a man to grow to feel that his whole livelihood and while happiness depend upon his staying in office. Such a feeling prevents him from being of real service to the people while in office, and always puts him under the heaviest strain of pressure to barter his convictions for the sake of holding office.” Teddy Roosevelt, the autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt, pg 36

This is amazing insight for someone who spent so much time in the public eye. I for one agree that we should be men of Christ first and not be men who are described by our work. I will rarely say, “I am a pastor…” Most of the time I will say, “I work for a church.” I don’t want to become what I do for work, but I want to become who God would have me be.

Thanks Teddy for a thought provoking quote.

Could your favorite politician hold a real job?

Nothing Crazy

I am often pious when reading the Old Testament of the Bible. I think, “How could these dense people kill all these prophets from God, obviously God sent them directly to the people. They are so ignorant and arrogant…”

It’s plain that if these men, prophets, were to live in our time, we would be knowledgable enough to recognize they are from God. Right?

I thought that, then I read this out of Isaiah 20:

“at that time the Lord spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go and loose the sackcloth from your waist and take off your sandals from your feet,” and he did so walking naked and barefoot. Then the Lord said, “As my servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot for three years…” Isaiah 20:2-3

Three years? Really?

If you walk around my town naked for three hours, you will go to jail. Three years?

No wonder people thought these prophets were crazy and tried to kill them.

But for me the heart of this story is the obedience on the part of Isaiah. He didn’t question God, he obeyed, regardless of how it might impact his reputation. He obeyed God without delay.

Given the same circumstance I guarantee I would have had a few more questions for God. “God this sounds crazy, you wouldn’t make me do anything crazy…right?”

Nothing crazy? I tend to think everything God has done for us is crazy, depending on where you are standing. I’m thankful for crazy.

Fool

Proverbs 18:2

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”

Social media has given access to millions of people around the world of a way to “be heard”. That could be a positive thing if we have something worth hearing. If we don’t, we shouldn’t speak, certainly not in a “public” forum. In the good ole days, to be heard by the town a man had to stand in front of his friends, neighbors and co-workers and say his peace.

Today, we can hide behind avatars, websites and hundreds of miles to “confront” someone for how we believe they have misstepped.

The majority of our opinion statements would never happen if they had to be made face to face. Its the insulation of anonymity that has licensed us to be so “bold” in our comments. Truly what has happened?

The fool has been given plenty space to prove how foolish he is.

So though we all have opinions that doesn’t mean we all need to be heard on every subject. Especially when some understanding may be lacking…

Ox Wisdom

Ox Wisdom is definitely a lost art. Years and years of not farming with oxen have left us out of some good ox jokes or in this case, ox wisdom.

You may think that oxen are dumb. You may have heard the phrase, “Dumb as an ox…” and thought to yourself, at no point in my life, could I gain any sort of wisdom via an ox. But I think today changes that.

I am pumped about this verse in Proverbs:

“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” Proverbs 14:4

Let’s be honest. Crap isn’t that fun to deal with. It doesn’t smell good. If there are 10 things to do and “taking care of the crap” is one of them, you choose the other 9 first. Crap isn’t on anyone’s “I ♥ ” t-shirts.

But, and this is a big butt, without the crap you don’t get the benefit of the ox. Geneticists haven’t created a crap free ox. And I don’t think they are working on one. If you want the ox, you have to deal with the crap.

If you are sick of the crap analogy, I’ll switch it up. Everything we do, that is worth doing has complications. Complications = things that aren’t fun to do or things that are hard or things that are messy (think children). Being a parent is an awesome responsibility and joy. Blessings abound in parenthood. But it isn’t all jellybeans and roses. There are a number of complications. And I’m not just talking about diapers, any parents of teenagers out there?

If you want a clean manger, you can’t have an ox. So you have to ask yourself if you are on the earth for an abundant harvest or a clean manger? Because you can’t have both.

I think somewhere Jesus talked about an abundant harvest, and I’m sticking with that guy.

Good No’s

A friend shared this with me. I think it is brilliant.

My Charge to the Asbury Theological Seminary Graduating Class of 2014
by President Timothy C. Tennent

In 1904 William Borden graduated from high school. He was the heir to the great Borden milk fortune. For his
graduation gift, his parents sent him on a trip around the world, hoping it would stimulate his global business interests.
Instead, for the first time he realized how many had never heard the good news of Jesus Christ, and he committed
himself to becoming a missionary. When one of his closest friends heard this news he was outraged and confronted
William Borden telling him that he was throwing his life away. Borden made a note of the date and wrote these two
words in his bible: No Reserves.

He then went to Yale University and was a top student, the President of the honor society, Phi Beta Kappa. Upon
graduation he was offered several high paying, influential jobs. He turned them all down, saying he was committed to
sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. He made a note of the date in his Bible and wrote the two words: No Retreat.
He eventually set off for China to work with Muslims there. He decided it would be best to learn Arabic before he
arrived, so he stopped in Cairo, Egypt, to do language study. It was while he was in Egypt that he contracted spinal
meningitis and within a month he was dead, still in his twenties, never having even arrived in China. The news of his
tragic death was carried by newspapers across the country. Eventually his belongings were shipped back to the US
and his parents opened his Bible to find a date written just weeks before he died with two words: No Regrets.
2014 Graduating class of Asbury Theological Seminary…This is my charge to you: Go forth as William Borden did:
No Reserves, No Retreat, No Regrets. That is your posture. Don’t waste your time trying to build a professional
ecclesiastical career… that’s building political reserves. Don’t waste your time second guessing the truth or power of
the Word of God, or the centrality of Jesus Christ, that’s creating a retreat in case the winds of popular culture turn
against the church. Don’t end your ministry on any other note but faithfulness, for that will create regrets. As God’s
Word says and the presence of our Golden Grads testify: It is not the one who starts the race who will win the prize, it
is the one who finishes it.

William Borden had no reserves and no regrets because he was not seeking the praise of men, but was consumed
with the only words which will finally matter: Well done, thou good and faithful servant! The cultural wind is already
blowing against you. You might as well get used to it. The church itself has become so compromised that it is
becoming rare to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ clearly proclaimed from the pulpits of many of our churches around
the world. Pastors falling into sin, disgracing the gospel, and embarrassing the faithful has become tragically
commonplace. You must chart a different course. You must be captivated by holiness. There is nothing more
revolutionary than that, because the skeptic believes only in themselves, but you believe in the gospel. You must hold
fast to that which is good. You must be a faithful minister of the gospel, whether you are going forth as a pastor, a
teacher, a counselor or a missionary.

This is why the Apostle Paul gives the advice to young Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:5. But you, keep your head in all
situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” As G. K.
Chesterton said over 100 years ago about the same time that William Borden was graduating from high school, “The
orthodox church never took the (safe) tame course or accepted the conventions; the orthodox Church was never
respectable… It is always easier to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one’s own.”

Borden kept his head, even as he lost his life. Never allow your God given, gospel inspired love for people slip into cheap sentimentality and not be guided by clear headed thinking. Brothers and sisters, a lost world will not be saved by pastors who play it safe. Don’t confuse church growth techniques or balanced budgets, or strategic plans, (however helpful they all may be) with the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit can do more in five
minutes than you can do in five years. So my charge: Live a life of No Reserves, No Retreat, no Regrets. Amen.

What do you think?

Words…

I have preached a sermon on this topic or words. I have a 7 year old son, so I share about this all the time at home. But I’ve never notices how amazing this verse is to go with this topic of words.

Have you heard this before? Yes
Do you need to hear it again? Yes
Will you hear it this time? TBD

“There is one who’s rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18

For a guy who jacked up so much of his life, Solomon was a very wise dude. Most of us relate to this statement from the stand point that we have had someone use words toward us, that hurt. Like sword thrusts. We remember those times. They take our breath away.

Few of us relate to this verse because we recognize we have been the one who’s rash words hurt. I was/am the king of this. I used to be so good at figuring out just what to say that would do the most damage in the fewest words. Oh was I good at it.

I don’t believe I am proud of that anymore. But I realize I can’t undo the damage I’ve done. Hopefully there were wise people around those I have hurt that brought healing.

Now, I’m trying to bring healing to others. I don’t know if I am wise necessarily. I am open to what God has to say for me and others. Sometimes this results in wisdom being shared with someone who needs it. I sat recently in a meeting and watched two people tear each other to shreds with their words then look at me and wonder what is wrong. What’s wrong? That statement just cut his legs off. What’s wrong? You just cut her heart out.

We are hyper sensitive about the words our children use. Yet we spread gossip recklessly. We are easily offended by words used to describe us, yet we trample others feelings without noticing.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me. Really? Sword thrusts hurt.

Challenge of the day. Spend the afternoon only using words that encourage, compliment or thank someone else. Can you do it? I believe in you, I know you can!

Words by Hawk Nelson