Monday, September 7, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
"There's a counterfeit type of encouragement and a genuine type of encouragement. The counterfeit type is what the Bible calls flattery. It's selfish smooth talk. The person who offers it does so for selfish reasons (If I tell this person something nice, he'll do for me what I want him to do). But true encouragement is different. Understood biblically, real encouragement is the verbal affirmation of someone's strength, giftedness, or accomplishment, along with the realization that God the Creator is the ultimate source behind whatever's being affirmed.
This type of encouragement is something all human beings not only crave but in fact need. God intended us to feed on it. The reason we require it is that we're images of God, designed to reflect Him. So when others aren't acknowledging God's reflection in who we are and what we do - when we're not being encouraged - it leads to a hardened heart, a saddened disposition, and a debilitated lifestyle; we lose our sense of what it means to be human. Some of the most tragically hardened and fruitless people I know are those who have rarely, if ever, been encouraged.
The secret of true encouragement is learning to see God's reflection in others, not just in Christians but in everyone. Encouragement is noticing God's reflection in other people's strengths and gifts, then verbally affirming what we see. Since all human beings are made in God's image, we all - believers and unbelievers alike - reflect God in unique ways. Learning to see this uniqueness and to point it out can have a significant impact as we strive to make a difference in our world for the sake of God's kingdom.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Titus: Daddy. Look. I made a casket for the shovel (he had buried the shovel in sand).
Me: Oh yea? That is interesting.
Titus: Yea. Did you know that when we play in the sand in Heaven it will be so much fun?!?!
Me: Yea buddy. It will be.
Titus: Yea, it would not be as much fun to play in the sand in Hell.
Me: It wouldn't be fun at all because fun is not even a possibility in Hell.
Titus: Yea, unless I brought a brick down there and killed Satan with it!!
Me: That's quite an interesting thought. Guess what?
Me: I LOVE YOU!
Immediately after this he just went back to playing around in the sandbox like a typical 4 year old. His insight amazes me a ton. It is always interesting to see how he put thoughts together that are quite profound, but then also has the maturity to HAVE FUN ALSO.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
First of all, grief is messy, yet it is very simple. Grief is not complicated. I have found that many times the paralyzing part of grief comes when people start believing that grief is just to complicated, along with being very messy.
Next, it is eerily scary to see how easy we can suppress our emotions and others think this is mature in some way. I remember hearing so many people tell me they thought I was dealing with my dad’s death in a very mature way. One thing I have found is that many people equate external stoicism with maturity in life. I am not saying you have to cry your eyes out every day, but the problem comes when you equate “not crying” with properly working through grief. I was scared of my emotions and in some degree am still working through this fear in my life. The fear of “feeling to deeply” caused me to suppress my emotions (whether crying, laughing, etc.) in such a way that I ended up trying to be the god of my own emotions. I quit trusting God with this part of my life. This is called practical atheism. I worked out how I could be "presentable" to people without asking God to teach me who He was and thus show me how to properly unpack grief. If you find yourself in this camp I pray you would experientially know that He is not only bigger that any emotion you have, but that He will be faithful to help you unpack your emotions.
Finally, I have learned that proper grief ultimately comes down to knowing Him. This is why grief is simple. Instead of trying to suppress my emotions or even plan how I am going to feel about a certain memory that I have, I ask God to teach me how to know Him more and have faith that He will reveal to me the information behind the emotions. After all, I may cry one day and that emotion is from missing my dad or grandma, yet tears the following day may be because I am happy from another memory. I am not trying to trivialize grief down to laughing, crying, or neither. Just like in all of life our emotions are numerous and so are the ways we express them. When I came to the understanding that God really does want us to know Him through all of our emotions I quit trying to control them and entrusted myself to Him.
Therefore, grief has ultimately taught me to be challenged with the question, “Who is God?” Do I trust who He says He is? Do I trust that He knows me better than I know myself? Do I trust that He will work all things out for my good? (Rom. 8:28) If I trust Him with who He says He is according to the Bible, it only follows that He will be faithful to comfort me and teach me who He is in the face of grief and will also give me unspeakable joy.
I pray that you will feel and know His comfort today if you are grieving in any way. I pray you will trust His faithfulness. I pray you will know that He really does want to show you how much He love you in the face of your grief. I pray that if you have never lost someone close to you that He would teach you how to walk alongside those who are grieving. I pray that in the face of good memories or bad that you would know He is your ultimate joy in life.
Grief is simple. Know Him. Grief is messy because it hurts terribly, yet He promises to comfort us in all of our afflictions so that we are able to comfort others in their time of need. (2 Cor. 1:3-5)
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
By contrast, the first two greatest commands—to love God with heart and soul and mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves—do not constitute the gospel, or any part of it. We may well argue that when the gospel is faithfully declared and rightly received, it will result in human beings more closely aligned to these two commands. But they are not the gospel. Similarly, the gospel is not receiving Christ or believing in him, or being converted, or joining a church; it is not the practice of discipleship. Once again, the gospel faithfully declared and rightly received will result in people receiving Christ, believing in Christ, being converted, and joining a local church; but such steps are not the gospel. The Bible can exhort those who trust the living God to be concerned with issues of social justice (Isa 2; Amos); it can tell new covenant believers to do good to all human beings, especially to those of the household of faith (Gal 6); it exhorts us to remember the poor and to ask, not “Who is my neighbor?” but “Whom am I serving as neighbor?” We may even argue that some such list of moral commitments is a necessary consequence of the gospel. But it is not the gospel. We may preach through the list, reminding people that the Bible is concerned to tell us not only what to believe but how to live. But we may not preach through that list and claim it encapsulates the gospel. The gospel is what God has done, supremely in Christ, and especially focused on his cross and resurrection.
Failure to distinguish between the gospel and all the effects of the gospel tends, on the long haul, to replace the good news as to what God has done with a moralism that is finally without the power and the glory of Christ crucified, resurrected, ascended, and reigning.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Titus: Daddy, why do people go to Hell?
Me: Because people choose to go to Hell. God doesn't desire for them to go to Hell, but they decided that other things would bring more joy and happiness than relationship with Him. Therefore they are separated from Him for eternity.
Titus: Yea. People who go to Hell do this to Satan (This is where Titus made the sign of saluting Satan!) Also, why did God make people?
Me: God was totally happy without making us, but He chose to make us so we could know total joy, mainly a relationship with Him.
It is always amazing to hear what is going on in the mind of Titus. He constantly teaches me and keeps me on my toes.