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September 12, 2016, 8:13 AM

Hot or Cold isnt the same as Conservative or Liberal **


That's a mouthful.  Especially for a blog title that's supposed to grab our attention and quickly dispense a point.  But I'm sticking with it.  I read a social media post this past Saturday evening that refuses to let me be, so I'm using this format to discuss it a bit with you.  My political knowledge and leanings are minimal at best... mostly I'm annoyed at how the election high jacks the news for months and months on end.  In other words, I am not going to blow your mind with some political insight.  

I do want to talk about how it affects our faith though, or at least how it affects our behavior.  Its a hot topic for sure, and some buzz words come forward every four years that "help" us determine which side we stand on:  Liberal and Conservative.  At the very core, those are decent enough descriptors for political leanings... and I would say I lean definitely towards what is typically the conservative stance.  

However... However... the words are being abused greatly; With one being almost solely used to describe one political party or another.  Once you are labeled as one, there's no changing or going back without repercussions.  It like voting the party line, selecting the box for all Republicans or Democrats on the ballot.  There's no room for real action there.  

How about those labels when it comes to our belief systems?  It is inherently assumed that the conservative outlook is the biblical stance.  And liberal is the worldly or errant place to be.  To quote the article I've read:  "there is nothing Spiritual, in and of itself, of conservative or liberal position on anything." **  We want to prove ourselves literate and subject to scriptural doctrine....... but what if we've missed the point based on our concern more to be conservative than actually act like Jesus?

Let me explain that last thought:  Jesus and the Pharisees were quite similar, and had a lot in common.  I am guilty of making them the butt of a joke, or antagonists in a lesson.  Their contributions to faith and religion cannot be overlooked.  Without them, Christianity would not have had the foundation for growth, nor the political shelter to operate freely within the Roman occupation.  They were instrumental to the birth and growth of the Christian movement...... even if they fought it.  

One could establish (quite convincingly) that they were the conservative arm of the faith system.  They protected the Law, down to the letter.  Entering the scene was a man who challenged some of that system, pushing its limits at every turn.  Why?  Why did he do this?  Was it to enrage them to the point of playing their part in his crucifixion?  No.  Was it to play a political card, challenging the established order of things within Roman occupation?  No.  Was it simply to be different?  No.  

Jesus was labeled "liberal" because instead of pushing Law he pushed Love.  And that made him a raging liberal.  He challenged their system by including everyone.  He challenged their ideas of what purity meant by touching the untouchable, healing sinners, and dining with the outcasts.  Everything he did pushed his agenda:  Love.  Now lets not get confused here, he did not come to abolish the Law.  He held to the Temple rules for purity... he just didnt extend them beyond those walls.  (Washing hands, utensils, etc...).  

We need a new position, or party to stand with:  Jesus.  And we need a new agenda:  love.  

** inspired by thoughts from Bobby Valentine, 09/09




September 12, 2016, 8:12 AM

Hot or Cold isnt the same as Conservative or Liberal **


That's a mouthful.  Especially for a blog title that's supposed to grab our attention and quickly dispense a point.  But I'm sticking with it.  I read a social media post this past Saturday evening that refuses to let me be, so I'm using this format to discuss it a bit with you.  My political knowledge and leanings are minimal at best... mostly I'm annoyed at how the election high jacks the news for months and months on end.  In other words, I am not going to blow your mind with some political insight.  

I do want to talk about how it affects our faith though, or at least how it affects our behavior.  Its a hot topic for sure, and some buzz words come forward every four years that "help" us determine which side we stand on:  Liberal and Conservative.  At the very core, those are decent enough descriptors for political leanings... and I would say I lean definitely towards what is typically the conservative stance.  

However... However... the words are being abused greatly; With one being almost solely used to describe one political party or another.  Once you are labeled as one, there's no changing or going back without repercussions.  It like voting the party line, selecting the box for all Republicans or Democrats on the ballot.  There's no room for real action there.  

How about those labels when it comes to our belief systems?  It is inherently assumed that the conservative outlook is the biblical stance.  And liberal is the worldly or errant place to be.  To quote the article I've read:  "there is nothing Spiritual, in and of itself, of conservative or liberal position on anything." **  We want to prove ourselves literate and subject to scriptural doctrine....... but what if we've missed the point based on our concern more to be conservative than actually act like Jesus?

Let me explain that last thought:  Jesus and the Pharisees were quite similar, and had a lot in common.  I am guilty of making them the butt of a joke, or antagonists in a lesson.  Their contributions to faith and religion cannot be overlooked.  Without them, Christianity would not have had the foundation for growth, nor the political shelter to operate freely within the Roman occupation.  They were instrumental to the birth and growth of the Christian movement...... even if they fought it.  

One could establish (quite convincingly) that they were the conservative arm of the faith system.  They protected the Law, down to the letter.  Entering the scene was a man who challenged some of that system, pushing its limits at every turn.  Why?  Why did he do this?  Was it to enrage them to the point of playing their part in his crucifixion?  No.  Was it to play a political card, challenging the established order of things within Roman occupation?  No.  Was it simply to be different?  No.  

Jesus was labeled "liberal" because instead of pushing Law he pushed Love.  And that made him a raging liberal.  He challenged their system by including everyone.  He challenged their ideas of what purity meant by touching the untouchable, healing sinners, and dining with the outcasts.  Everything he did pushed his agenda:  Love.  Now lets not get confused here, he did not come to abolish the Law.  He held to the Temple rules for purity... he just didnt extend them beyond those walls.  (Washing hands, utensils, etc...).  

We need a new position, or party to stand with:  Jesus.  And we need a new agenda:  love.  

** inspired by thoughts from Bobby Valentine, 09/09




August 29, 2016, 8:47 AM

A Lost Artform


Encouragement.  

I'm in the office chewing on the thoughts presented excellently in yesterday's sermon by Dan Dozier (08/28).  Why is Barnabas so important to the story?  Because the art of encouragement has been nearly lost.  

How much easier is it to offer criticism or complaint?  So much so that we've created extra words to justify our complaints and criticisms: "Constructive Criticism."  When we add the extra to it, we feel like we're actually helping and not piling our own frustrations on our target. Nevermind the source of criticism, there are so many dark places we hold tightly too that breed negativity.  What is concerning is the lack of restraint and filter present in the lives and hearts of Christians that should catch those comments before they make their way to the vocal chords.   

I'm not pushing an environment in which complaints are never spoken, or concerns get left unattended to.  Every organization needs to face its failings and shortcomings.  What concerns me as I chew on the topic is the lack of concern shown towards individuals, the lack of restraint we show towards someone we disagree with.  I've created a new Rule for Life in the past few years:  Avoid the "Comments" section anywhere on the internet.  Within the anonymity of the internet, people unleash every hateful and spiteful word they can think of into any and every situation.  2016 has been a hotbed of attacks towards individuals both for both good and bad actions (and I'm not even thinking of the election yet!). 

How important does Barnabas become right here, right now?  We need him.  Desperately.  Instead of leading with "what I dont like about....", Barnabas lead with hope, loyalty, and love.  Without those we would not have the Gospel of Mark.  Without those, John Mark might have fallen to the wayside after Paul's rejection of him.  I'm not taking sides in that dispute, I'm simply pointing to the power of Barnabas' actions.  

Have you taken the role of Barnabas?  Or are we more comfortable putting people in their place and letting someone else mop up the mess?  We shouldnt even need to have this conversation at Church, or in the Christian realm at all.  But here we are.  The world needs encouragement, your family and friends need Barnabas.  Is that you?  

Acts 11: 22 - 26 22When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch.23When he arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord.24Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord.

25Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul.26When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people. (It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.)

 




August 22, 2016, 8:57 AM

On Principle...


Ever had someone discipline you, or throw something back in your face simple “on principle?”  Its a way of saying: “I’m doing this because of the principles that drive me to action.”  If you act unjustly, its justice that drive the principles of discipline.  If you act immorally, its the principles of morality that are lost.  If you suffer because of the state of the economy, its those financial principles that govern you.  We are driven by our principles.  See this definition:

principle

--noun--

1 a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning 

     Dare I ask what serves as the foundation for your system of belief or behavior for a chain of reasoning?  

During the Revolutionary War, it was the principle of freedom for all man that kept our young nation believing in the Cause.  What guides you to get our of bed each morning?  What drives you in the decisions you make financially?  What pushes you to decide which way to go individually?  As a family?  As the Body of Christ?  

    Church, we must find ourselves governed by the example and words of Jesus Christ.  Sure, there is nothing in the Bible about which TV shows to watch.  There is nothing in the Bible about whether or not we should allow our children to date.  We face cultural battles every day, with a world that is changing faster than we can keep up with.  The Bible does address something very important though:  our identity.  When we base our identity on the words and example of Jesus Christ we will be guided by a principle that allows for cultural change, for modern thought, for growth and adaptability.  When you make your principles this: 

Matthew 22: 37 - 40

There is nothing that will fall outside your Bible frame of perspective!!! 

--Why should I give?  Simply on principle. 

--Why should I love?  Simply on principle. 

--Why should I engage this world with an attitude that states that I don’t belong here and therefore will not cling to its laws, its chains, and its beliefs?  SIMPLY ON PRINCIPLE!! 

Lets find ourselves burdened with the compassion of Jesus.  Lets find ourselves taking this world by storm…. Simply on Principle.  

Stop chaining yourself to the past, to your faults, to others expectations… Grow into the expectations (and principles) of Jesus Christ.  

Matthew 22: 37 - 40  37Jesus replied, “ ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’38This is the first and greatest commandment.39A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”




August 15, 2016, 8:40 AM

For Man or For God?


I've spent time these past few weeks with Paul, reading his letters and thinking about his life. It is unique in the sense that we get nearly all of his time in ministry chronicled for us.  We get to read his personal letters and get glimpses into his faults and encouragements.  Even when he is under arrest and chained to a Roman guard, Paul lets us in.  I want to try and sum up his life in one statement: 

He lived every moment to the satisfaction of God.  

Sounds nice doesn't it?  It would make a pretty good book that sets our hearts at ease and puts a smile on our face to think that we too could live that way.  But it isn't a good book, nor does it have a pretty cover.  You wont find Paul's "Living for God" book in the self-help section.  You'll find it amongst the books dedicated to the martyrs.  

Unless we're teaching a series on them, we typically avoid those shelves.  Paul lived every moment for God, and not for man.  Now, that is not to say that he didn't struggle and sin; we get a first-person confession of those moments from Paul.  Every time though, just like with David, there is repentance and forgiveness.  So even in those moments of failure and sin, he is clearly focused on God.  

Here's the point:  Who do you want to please more: Man or God?  

Our voices on Sunday morning sing songs of praise and allegiance to God...  our lives and actions speak of different allegiances.  This is not a call to drop everything and run to a 3rd world country.  This is NOT a call to drop a career and head to seminary.  This IS a call to live and breathe the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  When Paul met Priscilla and Aquilla, they were making tents.  He didn't come into their lives by standing on a street corner with a bullhorn, he worked with them.  His influence through that process brought us powerful members of the missional community.  

Paul lived for God, his audience of One.  That meant there were people who didn't agree with Paul.  He was ok with that.  That meant there were people who wanted Paul out of the picture.  He was ok with that.  Paul had people actively teaching against his teaching.  He was ok with that.  His audience was God, and that was who he was trying to please. 

For God, or for Man?  Who is your audience? 

Philippians 1: 20 - 22   20 For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better


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