Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Mentoring: God is Bigger Than Any Generation

The Gospel of Luke starts with the seniors. You’ve got Elizabeth and Zechariah and Simeon and Anna, people who are well into the AARP benefits. But then Long points out that these older people pass off the gospel to the younger people and then trust God enough to trust them with it.

So the rest of Luke and Acts, is young people taking the gospel all over the world. It looked different than the senior saints could have ever imagined, but it was exactly what they had always hoped for.

And these senior saints could do that, because they trusted that God was bigger than any one generation.

I know I have hit the jackpot with having great mentors.  I’ve been extremely blessed to have some of the most talented people to be willing to invest time and wisdom in me. But I hear constantly from other young ministers and leaders who don’t have that. They are hungry for people who are willing to invest in them.

But I understand why we don’t want to mentor…
You can read the rest.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Ben Zobrist: Major League Believer

Zobrist is a key player on a team that hasn’t won a World Series since 1908. The young team won 103 regular season games, its most wins in 106 years and more than any other team in the Major Leagues. Most of the players are on multi-year contracts like Zobrist ($56 million over four years), igniting hopes among Cubs fans that they’ll be even better next year.

But for Zobrist, the utility player hired fresh off his World Series victory last year with the Kansas City Royals, it isn’t all about the win. It isn’t even all about the game.

“Ben gets it,” says his pastor of 10 years, Byron Yawn. He leads Community Bible Church in Nashville. 

“He understands redemption and has a great grasp on what’s important in life. His greatest joys are at home with his family or in the church in the purposes of God. He finds great satisfaction in what he does, but when he leaves baseball, he’s going to endeavor to use whatever celebrity that remains to place himself on a different mission field with the same agenda. It’s hard to overstate or make it clear—he really is the real deal.”

Zobrist’s dad is a pastor, and he’s been a believer since childhood. When he points to the sky while crossing the plate, there’s no doubt “he means it,” Yawn says. “There’s a lot of sincerity there.”

You can read the rest.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Witnessing in the Future

I recently had a lively conversation with a woman next to me on a flight. “Listen,” she said, “if I want to be a man on Monday and a woman on Wednesday—who cares? Gender identity is simply a matter of personal preference.”
She said she believes in the essential goodness of human nature, so I asked how she’d describe the state of the world: “The world is clearly falling apart. It’s a mess!” 
“But how is that possible if the world is filled with good people?” I asked.
She paused and then offered a uniquely American analysis: “I believe our problem stems from two sources. People either have addiction issues and need a recovery program, or they are psychologically wounded and need therapy. Don’t you agree?”
I replied, “Both of those solutions help people. But what if after recovery we discover our problem is deeper still? What if our ultimate addiction is to ourselves? What if, at the core, it’s a problem of the heart?” She then asked, “Yes, but who in the world has the power to heal the heart?”
I said, “Honestly, I can’t think of anyone or anything but God.”
How do we winsomely and effectively communicate that “Jesus is Lord” to people who believe preference trumps all? This woman’s comments reveal the witnessing challenge we face in today’s culture: The gospel of Jesus Christ is the most glorious news for our weary and worn planet. Yet so many Christians find it difficult and feel it’s impossible—or not a priority—to share the good news with people whose views differ radically from ours.
You can read the rest.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Church Sign of the Week (10/21/16)

I really have to wonder about the purpose of this particular sign's placement.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Observant Jew Writes About the Berenstain Bears

As an observant Jew, I may not have particularly wanted to read to my son about attending Sunday school, but there was hardly anything to take offense at in the new Berenstain Bears adventures. Still, to be perfectly honest, its Bible-quoting characters unwound some of the lingering sentiment I’d felt for the Berenstain Bears, who appeared to me to have abandoned their universalist appeal. Their stories were no longer about milestones and stumbling blocks in every young child’s life but took a more narrowly targeted approach that left some out even as it pulled others in.

Even knowing Mike Berenstain’s reasoning — his faith, finding a bigger audience — it was hard not to see the Bears’ conversion as another means of escape from the changing world they had always sought to escape. In the 1960s, Bear Country was a refuge from tumult; basically, it was the suburbs. Now religion was the refuge, a cloak for the bears’ deliberate and unfashionable fustiness. But was there any need for such a justification?

Ultimately, bedtime stories serve twin purposes. To children, they’re entertainment; to parents, a soporific. “Show Some Respect” stayed in regular bedtime-reading rotation in our household, my discomfort with its Christian themes outweighed by its uncanny ability to speed the progress from bath to bed to blissful (parental) immersion in “Catastrophe.” My son, though, could not have cared less that the Berenstain Bears were quoting from the Bible, any more than he would have noticed references to the Quran or “The Communist Manifesto.” He was just glad that the Bears had found a place to have their picnic — and that they always would.

You can read the rest.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Jesus Loves Rich People

Moving day would be the first glimpse that either of our daughters would have of our new home. When we arrived, our justice-driven, sensitive-to-global-poverty daughter exclaimed that the house was too much. Way too big. Enough room to fit four families comfortably. Why do we have so much space? This standard of living seems wrong. Although we didn’t say it out loud, in some ways Patti and I felt the same.
Two ironies soon emerged from this moment. The first is that our 3,650-square-foot house ended up costing us about half of what the 850-square-foot New York apartment did. Second, within weeks, we all noticed our big house was starting to feel small relative to some other homes we’d visited.
You can read the rest.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Some Surprising History of Christians in Politics

This isn't a partisan post, but a potentially surprising history lesson. Contrary to over-simplifying and divisive caricatures that are perpetuated today, here's an interesting but largely unknown fact. 

The "Christian Left" is a lot older than the "Christian Right," and they both make the same mistake of overemphasizing "this-worldly" concerns.

Whether it’s conservative politics or liberal politics, such this-worldly concerns can easily supplant the transcendent message that a church has to offer.

You can read the rest. Thoughts?