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Where My Heart Lies

14225441_1029499637170041_3136266453293759352_nWhy am I writing and posting twice a week? Where is my heart in this?

I look around at the broken people, knowing the difference Christ makes in my life, and that he can help. I see my faith challenged, others buckling under an onslaught, and I know we have a firm footing. Most Christians may not even realize it.

I want to teach them how to have a practical, thoughtful faith that they can live and defend every day.

I Want You To Have That.

Faith really means trusting in something. It doesn’t necessarily mean a blind trust. The more evidence you have, the more trust you put into it. If you can’t verify it empirically yourself, you have to make a ‘leap of faith’.

Go deeper, explore, ask questions. Be a noble Berean.

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Acts 17:11 NIV

Sometimes you won’t like the answer, or have a satisfactory one. Usually you will gain a deeper understanding.

I try to break it down into practical applications or explain why it’s important. You can too, don’t rely on me, use these posts as a springboard at the most.

It’s Not A Sunday Thing, but A Daily Thing

Jesus didn’t say this was a one day a week way of life. It’s not a show. This is a deep and active life every day. 

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.

Matthew 22:37-38

It takes every part of you. God is your source, joy, strength, everything. You love Him with all your emotion, spirit, and mind. The brain doesn’t check out, it seeks to know Him more. Your body seeks to live for Him. You love Him more than you love yourself.

And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Matthew 22:39

Then you apply it to everyone, even your enemies. Yes, even them, because once you were an enemy of God and He didn’t treat you as such (Romans 5:10). These two commandments are too big to apply only for a few hours on a Sunday. This is life as it’s meant to be lived.

If you truly believe Jesus is God, if you truly believe God created everything, then it stands that He would know how reality perfected should be. Wouldn’t you want to align yourself with the all-powerful, all-knowing, and omnipresent God that created everything?

He made the way to relate to Him, himself. gk-chesterson1

Turn away from the past way of doing things and follow Jesus as Lord. Not simply as a savior that rescues you, but as your leader. You have to try it to be able to confirm it, and the Holy Spirit will enable the change within you. Looking back and you will be surprised.

G.K Chesterson said this:

The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.

Think about it.

Homeless

A Tale of Two Men From The Streets

Imagine this, twelve years ago you were living on the streets. The only way you got to eat was scavenging in a smelly dumpster or from the kindness of strangers. Life had hit you hard, especially when your mom died.

Homeless

Homeless

She had adopted you as a young child, and was all you had. Unable to cope, you began walking and didn’t stop. The main source of love in your life…gone.

Under a bridge, you met a small group from a nearby church. They fed you a balanced meal. A few sat and talked to you. They did their best to meet your physical and spiritual needs. It was a love you don’t remember feeling for a long time.

One day you decide this life has gone on too long. Walking into a recruiting office, you sign up and join the military. You go from alone on the streets to a family of sorts. Years pass by.

Then today you decide to walk into the church that cared for you over a decade ago. Again, you volunteer. This time to help those in the position you were in. The circle is complete.

The same day, another guy walks in, hungry. While eating, a volunteer sits and talks to him. He tells the guy who had just brought him a plate of food that he’s been on the street for two months. He had went from a $45,000 a year job to spiraling into a life of drug use. Desperate, he quit the job that was feeding his habit.

Clean now, he’s working his way back up. Right now, he says, he has a job in a kitchen and an interview for a second job next week. He tells the volunteer that he’ll be out of the shelter soon.

He’s been having to eat a lot of humble pie. Earlier he had met an old neighbor, a lady that grew up in the same neighborhood. He was to ashamed to even say anything.

The volunteer gives him a list of places he can go for help, places that will feed him, shelter him, and Celebrate Recovery at his church. Whatever he can do to keep the guy on his forward progress.

They part ways. One, who at one time makes more money than the volunteer makes now, quietly going to see what donated clothes will fit him.

Their stories aren’t complete. In them are lessons for us all. This was one Saturday morning for me awhile back. Both stories are true and carry these lessons in particular:

Stay humble.

Work hard to get out of your situation.

It is possible, these guys are a testimony to it.

Walk Away

A Reason Some Prodigals Walk Away From Christ

Walk Away

Walk Away

I have a friend who walked away from Jesus and the church he grew up in. You may know someone like that. The reason why he did, though, is telling. No one could answer his questions.

This is going to sound harsh, however, part of the fault lies in the one’s he asked  inability to answer the questions. Especially if it’s a parent or spiritual leader. You cannot have a Sunday School level of theology and expect it to stand up to scrutiny. You have to be able to make a case for Christianity.

Consider This A Call-To-Action

A year ago, I did two posts about making a case for Christianity based off of J. Warner Wallace’s work.

These two are a really good start. Don’t worry, our faith is testable, the worldview is coherent. There is a sound, cumulative case for a God, and Christ. I’ve examined it myself, because I have really smart friends who ask questions.

You should examine it because all it takes is one Facebook meme to destroy a shallow faith. Deepen your trust by examining the evidence and arguments for and against Christianity. Prepare yourself to be able to smash memes and ‘take every thought captive for Christ.’

Having a firm, evidential faith will also help you during times of doubt. They happen to me, and I rest on what I’ve seen God do in my life, the archaeological grounding of scripture, fulfilled prophecy, the historicity of Jesus and the philosophical robustness of the arguments.

Prepare Yourself

It’s on all of us to give a reason for the hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15). A testimony works really well 3293826699_ab296f03a1_zwhen people have seen the life change in your life. People love stories; however, you need more.

I promote a thoughtful Christianity. I want you guys to read, study, and think through the Bible’s passages, principles, teaching, and commands. Understand both the context, and the overview of it all. To have actually read the entire Bible, preferably chronologically, looking for answers to your questions.

Wait…There’s More

If you are looking for resources that are always on hand, start with these books.

Evidential Christian Casemaking

Philosophical Christian Casemaking

Christian Casemaking Encyclopedia

If you don’t want to hit up a library or buy a book, then go to these websites.

This is important because ‘the Bible says so’ doesn’t cut it anymore. Dr. Frank Turek likes to say, “Because you have faith, does it make the Bible true?” Think on it, prepare yourself.

If someone is going to walk away, don’t let it be for lack of information. Make sure that they’re making an informed decision, and having the grounding that may bring them back to God at a later date. Don’t burn bridges, intentionally or unintentionally—build them.

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Dealing With The Emotional Ups and Downs

I have a friend who’s a baby Christian, barely a year old. After the initial joy of salvation and moving of God, they felt like He got quiet. It’s bothering them and was brought to my attention. Mulling it over, remembering the divide I felt awhile back, I wondered how I could help. Then it hit me.

There are many Biblical analogies describing our relationship with Jesus. Marriage is one of them. The bride is the church, which is all the believers. When the end comes, there’s going to be a marriage supper (Revelation 19:7-9). Here’s the analogy building on that.

The Courtship

C.S Lewis, I think, compared Jesus’s incarnation to a king falling in love with a beautiful girl who was a pauper in his kingdom. He desired her love, however, knew if he came to her in all his splendor, he would never know if the love was true or not. Did she love him as a person, or as the king?

He came to her as a pauper himself. Leaving the glory, splendor, wealth, and status, he lowered himself to her level so that she might come to his level. He would know if she loved him for who he is as a person then, rather than the benefits of king.

To begrudgingly quote Kanye West, “He didn’t want a gold digger.”

He could order her to love him, but it wouldn’t be a true love.

The Engagement

When we’re saved, we could think of that as our being engaged, to continue the analogy. Where instead of a blinging ring, we get the Holy Spirit, who’s much better.

Who’s been engaged?

There’s usually an emotional high that follows, right? My wife cried, and hit me, while I grinned like a fool. We told everyone over the next few days. Much like baptism is a public profession of following Jesus.

The high didn’t stay, especially during the stress of wedding planning. Every relationship has an ebb and flow. We aren’t crazy in love, forever talking, all the time. We’ll burn out. A deeper love and joy develops then. The highs will come, and you love them, but the love gets deeper, too.

We stand on the consistency of the person we’re engaged to. We continue to develop the relationship, learning about each other. It’s a process that will continue through our time on Earth. There will be great times, and not so great, but that person will still be there.

Engaged to Jesus?

2715666322_0313b59bc0_zIt’s like that with Jesus, but better. He doesn’t change, isn’t temperamental, and will help you grow as a person, like a good spouse helps the other grow. You don’t remain the same after marriage. You’re You+.

It may seem quiet at times, but he’s there, and ready to listen. We couldn’t handle the high parts all the time without burning out. I love Connect with God nights at church, worshipping for hours. My throat doesn’t though.

Look around, see the seemingly small things in your life. Coincidences. Creation and all its complexity. Think, the King of Kings did that for you and is going to bring you to Him.

Wow.

Work

A Christian’s Attitude At Work

Work

Work

How should we as Christians approach the workplace? I’d love to divide my time between volunteering and writing, but I also have to eat. Neither of those pay my bills. Should that affect my attitude in going to work?

Attitude Check

Paul said no when he wrote the letter to the Colossians. So what should our attitude be?

Whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [and in dependence on Him], giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Servants, in everything obey those who are your masters on earth, not only with external service, as those who merely please people, but with sincerity of heart because of your fear of the Lord.  Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [greatest] reward. It is the Lord Christ whom you [actually] serve. For he who does wrong will be punished for his wrongdoing, and [with God] there is no partiality [no special treatment based on a person’s position in life].

Colossians 3:17, 22-25 AMP

I have to admit, verse 17 trips me up. It’s hard for me to give praise when I have to work on a weekend. It’s a battle with my preferences and emotions because I didn’t get my way. When we don’t get our way, we tend to get whiny.crybaby

Not that great of an example.

We don’t work for businesses, we work for God. Everywhere, all the time. We are called to be salt and light in the world and possibly the only Bible someone will read. If you profess to be a Christian, people will be watching you.

What’s It Look Like?

I’ve been redoubling my efforts to foster teamwork and growth on my shift by promoting biblical principles. The Golden Rule in particular, doing for others as I would want them to do for me. At work, that means everyone trying to make each other’s jobs easier.

For example, go help someone in another department. It can also be as simple as doing something to help the person in the next step of the process. I have five guys that are good at helping others. Two are exceptional. Every week they do it without even being asked.

One is a Christian, the other I’m not sure. It shows the universality of the principle.

As a supervisor, I spend a majority of my time in the office. In that capacity, it means making it as easy for the next shift’s supervisors as I can. It also means getting my hands dirty on the floor. When someone in management does that, it gets people’s attention.

Why Don’t They Make My Job Easier?

I’ve gotten this response. The Golden Rule isn’t do for others what they do for me. It’s not reciprocity, it’s agape love.

It’s an action purely for the well-being of others. C.S Lewis called it a gift-love, given without merit. The same love that Christ gives us.

How Do We Shine?

Do everything for God’s attention, not your bosses. Help make other’s jobs easier. Work with honesty and integrity. Have a forgiving spirit, because someone is inevitably going to rub you the wrong way.

Jesus said, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

How can you apply the Golden Rule to your job?

 

 

 

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Going Deeper Into The Bible and It’s Cultural Relevance

bible-question-markWhat does your Bible study look like? Do you crack open a book of devotions in the morning? Curiously explore a particular topic or book? Maybe you just let it fall open and put your finger on a random spot, calling it a day. As for me, I like to dig deep and feast.

The Bible’s relevance and longevity is amazing, considering it’s a book that has parts in over 3,500 years old. Part of my vision for this site is to encourage a thoughtful Christianity. That takes in-depth study, asking questions, and exploring. The “What Method” is my usual method of study. I added some questions to it.

The What Method

Taught by Pastor Randy, the method gets its name from the questions it asks. It’s the baseline I use in my Learning Under Jesus Bible Study. Here’s what I have been doing.

  • I copy the passage in my notebook, along with any parallel Gospel accounts.
  • Then like a curious toddler, I begin asking questions of the text: what is going on, what is this about, what was taking place that impacts me now, what’s the point, what don’t I understand, what else does the Bible say, what can I learn from that, what is this passage saying, what does it mean for me, and what can I learn from this?

The key is to stay in the passage for a while, peeling back the layers. Exploring the context of the passage in relation to the book, and the book in relation to the themes of the Bible. Any commands given? What principles is it teaching, and so on.

Going Deeper

The method is adjustable pertaining to the person. I wanted to explore what it means culturally by adding four more questions.

  1. What did it mean culturally then?
  2. What does it mean to the culture now?
  3. What is the result if it’s rejected?
  4. What happens ideally if it’s accepted?

To look at the first question, I like BibleGateway’s resources. It has a paid and free version, I have the paid version for more resources. The notes from the 1st Century Study Bible, and the commentaries How To Read the Bible Book by Book, Halley’s Bible Handbook Notes, and the Bible Panorama are especially helpful. It’s really interesting to look at Jesus against the backdrop of Judaism, and the Hellenistic culture.

The second question requires us to look at the world now. It helps if you understand relativism andGoing Deeper postmodern lines of thought. Then you can get into the thoughts and motivations. Those aren’t new, though; they’re ancient as well. These two questions alone can fill up pages in my notebook.

The last two questions look at the doctrines, principles, guidelines, and commands in the passage. Then you think about the consequences if it is ignored. The results from following them? Consider this example, STDs wouldn’t be a problem if everyone remained a virgin until marriage and stayed true to their spouse. It wouldn’t have a way in.

Look at both in context of you personally, and the culture you live in.

Grow Into An Effective, Thoughtful Christ-Follower

Paul told Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” This is another way to equip you. Context matters, seeing how it fits, and it can’t change our lives until we apply it.

What method do you use in your Bible Study?