Think ahead: What about goals for 2019?

About a month remains until the new year. While the goals for this year get whittled down, run out, or end in a whimper, it’s not too early to think about new ones for the upcoming year.

  • Are you thinking ahead? Or waiting for the year to catch you and then play catch up?
  • How can we move forward even faster and better than we have before?
  • What hasn’t worked for you, and why?
  • Where are the failures located, in the will, in the heart, or in the mind?
  • What limiting visions hold you back?
  • What excuses are you offering for failures?
  • What mechanisms do you have implanted for learning from failures?
  • Have some gifts be strained by overuse and others untested by lack of use?
  • What other questions can you provide will help other saints to evaluate their level of and progress in growth?

Year end always provides a good time for measuring. May God bless us with much fruit that remains.

#growth #evaluation #goals

As saints beholden to no human tradition

I wonder if, as Episcopalians, we take on the power of being alive in Jesus Christ. This may sound evangelical, but that is the calling: to be dead to sin and alive in Christ.

This sad quote above comes from a PDF book on gratitude while reading Romans. The writer felt the need to apologize to his Episcopalian readers because his subject sounded like something evangelicals would talk about. It shows the horrible sectarianism of denominations who emphasize certain things in their human doctrines, to the exclusion of others.

At the same time, the quote raises all sorts of red flags. Let us, as saints beholden to no human tradition or denomination, be careful not to neglect certain teachings of the Word. Let us seek to do as the apostle Paul did, when he said to the Ephesian elders:

You know that I did not hold back from proclaiming to you anything that would be helpful, and from teaching you publicly and from house to house, testifying to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus. … Therefore I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of you all. For I did not hold back from announcing to you the whole purpose of God, Acts 20.20-21,26-27.

May every healthy teaching of the word of God “sound” like us, since it a part of our identity to speak all the inspired Scripture in its usefulness “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” 2Tm 3.16-17.

#denominationalism, #teaching

Happy Black

The happy black of balanced books
Becomes the dark of crazed consumers,
The somber tone of untamed desire,
The rabid face of the race for Mammon.

#poetry #BlackFriday

Do we have a pastor system?

Protestant pastors face these statistics:

We mimic so much Protestant behavior. Let us restore the multiplicity of gifts and functions in the body of Christ. Let us reject the language and customs of Protestantism. Since when the did word “minister” refer to a full-time paid servant — but that’s how we use it. We mask our pastor-system with different language, but it’s present nonetheless. Everybody says preachers work “for” a certain congregation, and they do, because they are employees, not engaging in the service of God. This may not be true in every place, but it is in enough congregations to make it a problem. And our schools reinforce it. Do you see it?

#preacheritis #pastor-system #body-of-Christ

Jim Waldron: The challenge to the faith

Jim Waldron writes with great zeal on “The Challenge to the Faith.” It’s a tad long, but worth a read to stimulate some positive reflection on our task.

My attentions and energies turn to the local congregation, where converts may most effectively learn, observe, and practice the mission of God. The church contains all that is needed for the growth of the gospel. (Do you believe that?)

Let’s turn away from politics to devote ourselves to the work of the Lord.

#training #evangelism #challenges

Come to Ohio

If you’re in the Chillicothe area, come join us for the gospel meeting Sunday, Sep 30, through Wednesday, Oct 3. The theme I’ll be developing is “The Divine Initiative.” Topics include:

  • Word of God — hear, believe, obey
  • Glory of God — repent
  • Son of God — confess
  • Salvation of God — be immersed
  • Family of God — serve, love

In each lesson, we’ll see what God has done and how we ought to respond to his loving actions.

Thanks to Ron Thomas for the invitation and opportunity to share these wonderful truths.

#gospel-meeting #evangelism #God

Limits of counseling, need for repentance

This quote, by one Derek Price, whom I know nothing about, is right on:

I have spent countless hours counseling Christians with problems, and have come to the conclusion that there are limits to what can be accomplished by counseling. I would say at least fifty percent of most Christians’ problems are due to the fact that they have not repented. I suggest that if you are struggling with problems in your Christian experience, ask yourself if you have truly repented. Turn totally from everything displeasing to God and yield yourself to Him in unconditional surrender.

Of course, “fifty percent” is an attempt at quantification that most of us do. No harm there. The estimate might even be low, which means in many if not most cases, people need prophetic words urging them to repentance, rather than soothing assurances to accept self or situation or offering other options to consider.

The will of God is complete. All Scripture encompasses the whole of human experience. How many problems would be solved, and pain and suffering avoided, if people but knew and obeyed the Word of God!

#repentance #counseling #Bible #quotes

Spend your energy explaining why good ideas are right

The people who fuel bad ideas are often the very people trying to destroy them. Experts will argue against a bad idea until they are blue in the face and then get exasperated when people continue to believe them. But they fail to realize they spent 90 percent of their time discussing why a bad idea is false and only 10 percent explaining how a good idea is true. In other words, they gave the bulk of their time and attention to a bad idea.

What is someone more likely to remember? The thing you spent 90 percent of your time talking about? Or the thing you spent 10 percent of the time talking about? Experts wonder why people continue to believe bad ideas, but fail to realize that they are giving bad ideas far too much airtime.

Thus, we get to one of the key features of debunking wrong beliefs:

The best thing that can happen to a bad idea is that it is forgotten. The best thing that can happen to a good idea is that it is shared. Don’t waste time explaining why bad ideas are bad. Instead, explain why good ideas are good.

Spend your energy explaining why good ideas are right, not what bad ideas are wrong. Do not fan the flame of ignorance and stupidity. Spread intelligent ideas.

Thus, it is better to pour your energy into good ideas and let bad ideas fade away. —James Clear

Is there something to apply here to the preaching and teaching of the gospel?

I recall a teacher, in a course on denominational doctrines, saying that the best way to refute a false teaching was to put forth positively what the Bible teaches on the subject. I forgot much of what we studied in that course, but that principle has always stuck with me, even in moments when I didn’t practice it in the best way.

#false-doctrine, #gospel, #teaching

Choose only five texts about love of God and for God

Let’s say you’re going to teach a class about love from the Bible. You can choose only five texts or verses. What five will you choose? Why these five?

#love #nudge #teaching

Don’t Pull That Trigger (Warning)!

Welcome to the ranks another liberal idea that is making the very problem it is aimed at worse: trigger warnings on college campuses. As you may know, faculty these days are encouraged to issue “trigger warnings” for sensitive or controversial topics and reading material. Because we wouldn’t want a vulnerable student to be upset by uncomfortable ideas. (UCLA went so far as to issue guidelines attempting to prohibit potential microaggressive phrases like “America is a melting pot,” “I believe the most qualified person should get the job,” “Gender plays no part in who we hire” and “America is the land of opportunity.” For the record, I don’t use trigger warnings of any kind, because I only go in for full-tilt boogie macroaggressions.)

There’s a brand new article just out in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychology by three Harvard psychologists that Charles Murray has tagged as offering the best headline of the year (and thus making life interesting for these three Harvard professors at their next department meeting):

via Don’t Pull That Trigger (Warning)! | Power Line

Hilarious!

#society #microagressions #trigger-warnings

He Holds the Key

This little item popped out during my journaling time today. You might find a tune for it.

In Christ is all my satisfaction,
To joy he holds the key;
He knows my heart’s true direction,
He knows and cares for me.

#poetry #joy #Christ

Almost half of Americans are lonely

Decades of research substantiate the devastating effects of social isolation. Loneliness is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day and increases the risk of death by 26-45%, which is on par with risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, and lack of exercise. —Advisory.com

The Lord established the church as the home of the lonely people, among other things. Where people are united, reconciled, forgiven, fellowshipped, and loved.

Let us welcome the lonely into our congregations and make a place for those who have no real relationship in their lives.

#loneliness

Video: Do we really love God?

Our friend Ron Jackson spoke last Sunday in the Broadview congregation on love for God:

Ron is based in Florida and has been to Brazil numerous times and has spoken to congregations in our area. He is an employee of Embraer.

#video #love #sermons

New discovery highlights Bible’s reliability

Scholars are all agog over a new discovery. What is being heralded as the oldest known artefact of Homer’s “Odyssey” records 13 verses of the epic poem on a tablet. The tablet is dated to the 3rd century AD. The poem, along with the “Iliad,” is believed to have been written in the 8th century BC. That’s over a thousand-year interval, but it’s still considered a trustworthy witness to Homer’s work. Continue reading

#authenticity-of-the-scriptures, #bible

Divine Gift

Divine gift, blessed fire of light and heat,
That pillar to lead and shield, with God nearby —
Maker of peace where Lord and people meet —
Idolatrous altar where sons pass through and die.

#poetry #fire