Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Rich Young Man (Matt. 19:16-30)

You have probably heard the story of the Rich Young Man. It has been told so many times, in so many different ways, but that's why I love the Bible. It is so alive and it seems to consistently surprise us by teaching us truth through a story we have heard multiple times.
This is what the Spirit brought to my attention this time:

We're entering the story just as the young man has asked Jesus which commandments he needs to keep for eternal life...

"Jesus replied, 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself'."

Now, check out the young man's response...

"All these I have kept, what do I still lack?"

Have you ever wondered why he asked that? After all, he answered "yes" to all of them. He was free to walk away with a clean conscience, knowing that he has kept the commandments Christ listed.

I think he asked that because he felt like he was still missing something. He boldy said he had kept all the commandments Jesus listed, but that did not satisfy him. He KNEW something was missing.

I would bet(purely speculation) if you knew this guy back then, you would think he was a really good guy. You may have even thought he was a step above the rest. However, this man knew, DEEP DEEP DOWN that something was off.

So I challenge you to search your heart. Look DEEP. Then when your done, ask God, "What do I still lack?" Ask Him what needs to be done, but PLEASE don't respond like this young man and "go away sad".

Think about how RADICALLY different his life would have been if he was willing to part with his wealth and follow Christ. Remember, only 12 others had received a personal invitation like this, that we know of...

Monday, February 23, 2009

2 Peter 1:3-11 (email to Core)

I recently was reading 2 Peter 1:3-11 and just had some questions/thoughts that arose from reading it. First of all, if you don’t meditate over it and study it, you may be quick to think it’s talking about a salvation that is worked out. However, as you look closer you realize that salvation is ALL about Him and not us.
Here is what John Piper had to say about verses 5-7:

“Probably the most important thing to notice here is that this command is based on verses 3 and 4 which are not a command but a description of what God has done for us. God's divine power has given us all things that lead to godliness (v. 3); "for this reason" make every effort yourself to be godly. Don't miss the connection (though the KJV misses it). Since God has given power for godliness, strive to become godly! This is the heart of New Testament ethics. We labor for virtue because God has already labored for us and is at work in us. Don't ever reverse the order, lest you believe another gospel (which is no gospel). Never say, "I will work out my salvation in order that God might work in me." But say with the apostle Paul, "I work out my salvation for it is God who works in me to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). Never say, "I press on to make it my own in order that Christ might make me his own." But say with Paul, "I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me his own" (Philippians 3:12). There is a world of difference in a marriage where the husband doubts the love of his wife and labors to earn it, and a marriage where the husband rests in the certainty of his wife's love and takes pains joyfully not to live unworthily of it. Peter's point is: God is for us with divine power. Of that we may be sure. Now, in the confidence of that power, take pains not to live unworthily of his love.”

What a cool thought. We work to live a godly life, BECAUSE God has already done it all! It’s just another way to “give our life”. Now, tenaciously seek to live right, not because you want to make God happy, but because He has already done it all for you. Live knowing that He has already given you the power to CHOOSE right. Then, rest in it, because it is the most freeing truth you will ever experience. (John 8:32)

In Him, For Him
Eric

Humility (email to CORE)

I just read a book by C.j Mahaney entitled, "Humility: True Greatness". Yet another one that I truly recommend and will be talking to you guys about probably now until the end of summer. Early on in the book, Mahaney quotes a couple verses that speak about God's thoughts on pride. Here is just a couple:

1. "I hate pride and arrogance." Proverbs 6:16-17
2. "Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord, be assured, he will not go unpunished." Proverbs 16:5

Then of course there is the passage in Isaiah 14 that talks about Satan and his motivation behind his rebellion. Mahaney's point in all the verses he listed was this: the scripture uses stronger language to talk about God's feelings on pride than any other sin. But why? Why does God hate pride and express it so strongly? Mahaney defines pride as, " when sinful human beings aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge their dependence upon him." Wow, that's intense. It's as if we are contending for supremacy with God!

Now think about it like this. There is NOTHING in this world that you can hate more than God hates pride. So I ask you, What do YOU hate? I know some things I hate. I hate rainy day schedule. I hate mayonnaise. I hate shaving. I hate stupid drivers. I hate hypocrites. I HATE SEX TRAFFICKING. I HATE ALL FORMS OF CHILD ABUSE. Some of those things I hate pretty passionately and yet I CANT hate ANY of those more than God hates pride…

So what would it look like if we started to hate pride as much as God does? What would our school life look like? What would our family look like? What would CAMP look like? What if when we picked up trash on the track it was for His glory not ours? What if when we let the kids scratch the third layer of skin off our back in the pool, we did it in worship, and not for that girl counselor behind us? What if we wrestled with the kids when we had NOTHING left, simply because we understand who we are in Christ? I love you guys. Think about it.
In Him, for Him,
Eric

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What it Means to Lead

I have recently read a book by Henri Nouwen called, "In the Name of Jesus". If you are even slightly involved in ANY form of ministry, I highly recommend you read this book. It is very short, which is nice because, that means it's straight to the point. The book is really a speech given by Henri to a crowd of "future Christian leaders". That's Christian talk for those who felt some kind of call or tug to go into full time ministry. There is a section in this book that I want to briefly talk about.

In his book, there is a chapter entitled, "From Popularity to Ministry". There is a thought in itself. What a temptation! To do ministry to for the sake of getting the approval of everyone around us. Let's be honest, most of us who are Christians, would sadly say that the majority of the people we hang out with are Christians too. So, whenever we are involved in ministry, there is always this temptation to "perform" or "serve" in order to get our friends approval. We pick up trash, hoping that Jim, the elder, will see and think highly of us. As guys, we pick up the nearest child and swirl him around so that the beautiful, Christian woman, will see and hopefully take note. We build camps, youth groups and ministries for a pat on the shoulder instead of a smile from our Savior.

Well, I definitley dont want to be that person who is constantly pointing out problems without giving any ideas for solutions. So, let me present a couple ideas that I have either come up with or had presented to me, that I think can help us stay on the right track.

First of all, Henri Nouwen talks about ministering TOGETHER. When we minister together it is a whole lot easier for people to recognize the Body of Christ. WE come in HIS name. It's too easy for people to caught up in OUR name when we minister alone, but as a group we recognize HIM and HIM alone.

Another way to stray from a false mentality in ministry is to always remember WHO and WHOSE we are. This is helpful for two reasons. One is you will never underestimate what God can use you to do if you remember WHOSE you are, and two, you wont be as prone to ministering with the wrong motive if you remember WHO you are. You were once an ENEMY OF GOD, justified then adopted, by a HOLY, JUST, and LOVING God. If that does not remind us why we do what we do, I don't know what else to say. Henri Nouwen said it perfectly when he said, "We are not the healers, we are not the reconcilers, we are not the givers of life. We are sinful, broken, vulnerable people who need as much care as anyone we care for."

There are hundreds of other ways to keep a right mind set in ministry, but those are just a couple. The biggest antidote for seeking popularity in ministy is "humility". Let's save that topic for the next post...

In Him, for Him
Eric

Purpose?

The purpose of me starting this blog is three fold. First, my prayer is that it will provoke thought. Just thought. I hope people dont eventually reply to this in order to argue that they are right and everyone else is wrong. Secondly, I dont want to write anything on here that isnt from me. In other words, I dont want to write on this in order to earn the favor of others, but like everything else should be, I write on here as another opportunity to bring honor to my Heavenly Father. Therefore, if you are reading this, it is because I believe what you think of me and not dependent upon what I do or say.

The third and final reason I have already touched on a little bit. My prayer is that this blog will bring honor to God. To be honest, I dont know what that looks like. Does that mean that eventually this turns into something people use in their quiet times? Does that mean that God will somehow use this to speak truth to somebody that I would never expect to read this? I dont know. But, isnt that one of the amazing things about God? We dont always know how He is going to work... Enjoy.