Monday is for Discussion
… “Go out and live a life that looks like a sacrifice of love to our neighbors.” …
David Platt discusses what it looks like to be a Christian today.
He says, “We live in a day where is means almost nothing to be a Christian. According to research almost 4 out of every 5 Americans identify themselves as Christians…But in this group of self proclaimed Christians, less than half of them are involved in church on a weekly basis. Less than half of them believe the Bible is true. An overwhelming majority of them don’t have a biblical view of the world around them. So researchers went even deeper then to distinguish men and women who are ‘born again Christians,’ as if there’s any other kind of Christian. But these are people who say they’ve made a personal commitment to Jesus, they believe they’ll go to heaven, because they’ve accepted Jesus as their savior.
And according to research nearly half of Americans are ‘born again Christians.’ But you look at this group of ‘born again Christians’ and researchers found that their beliefs and lifestyles and virtually indistinguishable from the world around them. Many ‘born again Christians’ believe their works can earn them a place in heaven. Others think that Christians and Muslims worship the same god. Some believe that Jesus sinned while He was on Earth. And an ever increasing number of ‘born again Christians‘ just describe themselves as marginally committed to Jesus.
So people you can use data like this to conclude that Christians are really not that different from the rest of the world. But I don’t think that interpretation of that research is accurate. I think the one thing that’s abundantly clear from those statistics is that there are a whole lot of people in our country who think that they are Christians, but they are not. There are scores of people—here and around the world who culturally distinguish themselves as Christians and biblically are not followers of Christ.”
Got to play some golf yesterday at a Young Life fund raiser. My team was less than sterling but we received a reward for losing big — each of us received a copy of the Robert Duval movie, Seven Days in Utopia. Haven’t seen it but think Duval is great in almost everything, especially westerns. Looking forward to watching it tonight with my bride. I’m also looking forward to Father’s Day tomorrow and a possible visit from one of our daughters. Have a great day of worship tomorrow and remember, I just link them here. I don’t necessarily endorse everything in the links below.
Where Have all the Baptisms Gone? (Thom Rainer —an important discussion that is sourced in Southern Baptist history and is relevant for everyone in the Protestant tradition.)
22 Maps that Reveal how differently English is Spoken throughout the Country (Look at map 15 to find out what to properly call a long sandwich with cold cuts and lettuce, Hint most of the country has it wrong.)
Giving Up on Game of Thrones (Thinking Christianly–There is such a thirst for escape, fantasy and adventure in people, Christians and non-Christians alike, that sometimes we fall prey to dangerous Hollywood products like Game of Thrones (Book and Films). Here’s help in thinking better about what is appropriate and what isn’t.)
The Three Worst Qualities of the Gospel-Centered Movement (Really a great post by a young believer showing wisdom beyond his years and experience.)
Oh to be Such a Worm for the Glory of Christ (John Piper on the ministry of William Carey)
Top Atheist Scientist Converts to Christianity (Video—God delights to change people.)
Men in Black Robes (Eric Metaxes—audio clip from Breakpoint, don’t miss this.)
Truly Chilling Exchange Between a Jewish Speaker and a Female Muslim Student at the University of California, San Diego (Evil is at our doorsteps.)
The Scowling Face of the State (George F. Will—I have always enjoyed the writing clarity and precision of George Will. This is one of those pieces that will hang with you and puts the whole creeping power of the state.)
Alarming how Much Privacy has Already Been Lost in the Information Age
The Sewer and the Drop Box (A great story from Breakpoint offering real hope for the end of abortion.)
A couple of weeks ago, numbers began to spike on sales of my 2012 book, Picking a President: Or Any Other Elected Official. I guess people are beginning to get more interested in the mid-term elections with all of the political scandals that seem to be coming to light. We are 14 days into June and I think there is a new scandal of government overreach and abuse for every day of the month.
We need better leadership.
And that’s what this book was written about. It isn’t partisan. I’m a registered independent. I want to be found on God’s side of every issue. So the book is all about what God says about political leadership. It’s focus is more on character than policy, more on the process of getting the right man or woman in office rather than just taking what either party offers the electorate. Take a look at the book trailer we did a year ago and order your copy and start a study group in your area.
Further thoughts on Philippians 4:9
“What you have
learned and sounds like a cognitive component
received and sounds like an embracing of the truth
heard and sounds like something being repeated over
. and over
seen in me— sounds like things that were modeled
practice these things … sounds like “a long obedience in the
. same direction”
In most churches the “learning” is covered fairly well, the “embracing / receiving” perhaps less well, and the “repeating” still less well, but almost completely absent is the “modeling” for young believers that seems so necessary to Jesus and Paul. Jesus called, “those who he himself … wanted that they might be with him, that he might send them out to preach” (Mark 3:13-14)
Question: Can you name five barriers to being close enough, long enough for effective modeling to occur?
Sometimes people don’t try to hurt each other, they just do. In fact, they may be passionate in their pursuit of God, faithful to deal with known sin in their lives, willing to repent of wrong behavior, genuinely desirous of being kind and useful to their friends, and yet blind to character flaws in themselves that sabotage every interaction with those they love. …
For more see: Sometimes unintended sin is worse.
Prompted by a friends question, I went to the bookshelf to retrieve one of my favorite books on prayer, Henri Nouwen‘s The Way of the Heart. Five years ago, when my daughter was in college, she was assigned the book for a class and I gave her my copy to save some money. When the class was finished, she returned the book. This week, I pulled that copy off the shelf intending to reread it.
What greeted me when I opened the book were my daughter’s notes and interactions with Nouwen’s words. Instantly the book became a new treasure. Previously, it was a treasure for what it had taught me. Now it was a treasure anew for the snapshot in time of my daughter’s own spiritual questing. What a delight to see her heart wrestling with Nouwen’s Everest-like peaks and yet, not-uncritically. Absorbing here, arguing there, awed at another point, asking questions at still another. It brightened my heart. As I reread and saw M’s own handwriting and notes, my daughter became my teacher—a new and unexpected guide in my journey toward Christ.
There in the margins, there in the underlining, there in the exclamation points are the record of a girl becoming a woman, becoming a knower of her own mind, a soul-traveler plumbing depths and soaring to heights that have made her into the remarkable young wife and mother that she is today.
It was refreshing to read of her bold innocence in challenging the significant mind of Nouwen on the first statement of the book.
“St. Anthony, the ‘father of monks,’ is the best guide
in our attempt to understand the role of solitude in ministry.”
(Introduction, p. 9)
This she has underlined and written the simple note, “What about Christ’s example?”
From the beginning her critical thinking skills are highly attuned. She will not be content to simply take in what someone says, no matter who they are. She demands, as should we all, that every thought be taken captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). Christ is who her gaze is fixed upon and she will not easily be shaken from that vision (Heb. 12:2). In these margins she honestly struggles with her own sin and the challenge that Nouwen lays before the soul. In these ink marks she notes those things that will apply to her present life and future ministry. In these scratchings, underlinings, asterisks, exclamation points, questions, commentary, affirmations, and doubts she plows the ground of her soul and wrestles with becoming like her Master and Savior.
She is a mighty huntress honing her weapons to lay siege to the fortresses of sin in her own heart that she desires to conquer for the glory of her King and the joy of those she loves (and sometimes struggles to love). How proud and humbled is her father to read these words and how moved I am to emulate this young heart.
May God, in His great mercy and kindness, give her the desires of her heart and may He give our world hundreds of thousands of millions of men and women who will run hard after God and find their greatest satisfaction in the glory and presence of Him.
“I never heard of the Gospel of Jesus Christ . . . of the cross, of sin and forgiveness, of death and life (while) in New York . . . only an ethical and social idealism which pins its faith to progress.”
… according to Bonhoeffer, a congregation without mutual confession of sin is a church afraid to be sinners: “The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship.”
Be a church that takes sin seriously AND is hospitable and compassionate toward sinners.
For more see: The Courage to Confess Sin—What Bonhoeffer Still Teaches Us.
A valued friend contacted me on Facebook™ and wanted to know if I could recommend a book/booklet to help people learn how to pray. That’s a perennial problem—helping new believers and many times, older believers, to pray well, to pray biblically, to pray frequently, to pray with confidence and boldness, to pray about everything, to “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6).
So what did I recommend?
I recommended some books but only half-heartedly. Here’s what I said:
Depends on the maturity of the person(s):
Bottom line though is that books and pamphlets and outlines can only go so far. You learn to pray by praying and hearing others who know how to pray, pray. Remember the Intermediate LTC [Leadership Training Class with Campus Crusade for Christ, now Cru] outline on prayer?
I have taken probably close to 100 men through this process over the years. EVERY time, by the time we get to chapter 11, they are asking exactly what the disciples asked Jesus. “Lord, would you teach us to pray?”
They became teachable by watching him. He taught them only when they were teachable. People will learn how to pray when they are close enough, frequently enough, to someone who knows how to pray, and prays frequently around them.
That’s the challenge for us. We need to find more “with me” time with the men and women we want to influence (Cf. Mark 3:13-14). We have to “be” prayers in front of them (NOT AS A SHOW) but as actual prayers (long a). Older men and older women need to invite younger men and younger women in to their lives and pray with them.
Tomorrow I will post about a happy surprise that resulted in my friend’s request.