But I have this against you: you have let go of the love you had at first. (Revelation 2.4)
… do not get tired and stop trying. (Hebrews 12.3 NCV)
Brothers and sisters, we must always thank God for you. … we … are bragging about you in God’s churches. We tell about your endurance and faithfulness in all the harassments and trouble that you have put up with. … God’s judgment is right and … you will be considered worthy of God’s kingdom for which you are suffering. (2 Thessalonians 1.3-5)
Aging & purpose: Why You Aren’t Dead Yet by Michael Hyatt
“If the most important part of your life is ahead of you, then even during the worst times, one can be assured that there is more laughter ahead, more success to look forward to, more children to teach and help, more friends to touch and influence. There is proof of hope . . . for more.”
American Christianity: When Are We Going to Grow Up? The Juvenilization of American Christianity by Thomas E. Bergler
“Juvenilization is the process by which the religious beliefs, practices, and developmental characteristics of adolescents become accepted as appropriate for adults. It began with the praiseworthy goal of adapting the faith to appeal to the young, which in fact revitalized American Christianity. But it has sometimes ended with both youth and adults embracing immature versions of the faith. In any case, white evangelicals led the way.”
Attitude, church, change & relevance: How to Turn a Church Around: Jesus Creed Style by Trevor Lee
“… part of the reason this approach has worked is the spirit of the elderly people here.”
Christian faith & church dropouts: A Lifeless Shadow of Historic Christianity? by K. Rex Butts
“… I think Kinnaman is on to something. There already seems to be a widening gap today between the church and Jesus.”
College & parenting: When Your Child Goes Off to College, They Need You by Syler Thomas
“If you are a parent who is sending a child off to college for the first time, you have a significant role to play. … If you’re a student, all I can say is that college was when my faith exploded. It breaks my heart to see so many students putting their faith on hold at a time when it could be growing. College is about self-discovery, and can be about extraordinary God-discovery as well.”
Endurance: When Things Get Really Rough by Tim Spivey
“… there are some things the wise commit themselves to. Call these spiritual disciplines for a life-storm …”
Hunger for God & learning: A Beautiful Quote
“The soul that wishes to live according to the will of Christ should either learn faithfully what it does not yet know, or teach openly what it does know. But if, when it can, it desires to do neither of these things, it is afflicted with madness. For the first step away from God is a distaste for learning, and lack of appetite for those things for which the soul hungers when it seeks God.” – Abbot Palladius
Marriage: Marriage Among the Homeless by Richard Beck
“So what to do?”
Sexting: Alarming College Student Sexting Statistics [infographic]
“I’ve always known that sexting occurred, but I never knew the numbers where so high. Not only that, but the statistics in the infographic below, points-out that sexting doesn’t always stay between two people. … If you’re involved in any kind of college or campus based ministry, you should know this …”
Politics & voting: Why I Voted for Jesus Instead of Obama in the Primary by Kurt Willems
“Because, Jesus is the only president (King) worth voting for, not just in a ballot box, but every day of my life.”
Women: The entire series published last week by Rachel Held Evans (One in Christ: A Week of Mutuality) is truly full of food for thought. If you’ve ever wanted to know where to start in trying to understand something of the ongoing discussion and debate in western Christendom regarding women and their role in church, this is a good place to start. Here are links to some of the posts in that series: Week of Mutuality: How It Will Work, Definition of Terms, Ask an Egalitarian … (Response), Let’s Start at the Beginning, Shall We?, Four Common Misconceptions About Egalitarianism, Submission in Context: Christ and the Greco-Roman Household Codes, Who’s Who Among Biblical Women Leaders, and For the Sake of the Gospel, Let Women Speak. Want even more? Check out the listings The Mutuality 2012 Synchroblog and Want to Learn More About Mutuality? A List of Resources.
* “[Brook] Manville said ‘The king and subject model doesn’t change cultures.’ Great leaders don’t change people; they create environments where people change themselves.’”
“Sick organizational cultures focus on themselves rather than customers.”
Evangelism: Be Where the People Are by James Wood
“You won’t make non-Christian friends by going to church more.”
Happiness: Happiness, Harvard Business Review, and the Church by Thom Rainer
“It is time for our churches to get back to being churches. Then, and only then, will people discover true gospel-centered joy.”
* “Even for those Christians who agree that homosexuality is contrary to the will of God there is little agreement on how we ought to speak about homosexuality being contrary to the will of God. … So how ought we to speak about homosexuality?”
* “Homosexuality is not God’s original design for sexuality – sex is designed for marriage between a man and a woman. But that belief should have no impact on a church’s or a Christian’s desire to love and serve the needs and interests of all their neighbors, including gay people, people of other faiths, and so on.”
Hospitality: Where Saying “Thank You” is an Insult by Dan Bouchelle
“‘We don’t thank the Venda people for feeding us. It is an insult to them,’ said our South African friend who was traveling with us.”
Manners: Mind Your Mobile Manners: Top 10 On-the-Go Blunders by Christina DesMarais
“If you do anything on this list, you need to stop it right now.”
Music: An Open Letter to Praise Bands by James K.A. Smith
“… let me offer just a few brief axioms with the hope of encouraging new reflection on the practice of ‘leading worship’ …”
Parenting: 10 Things Nobody Tells You About Being a Dad by Daniel Darling
“Before I became a dad, I thought I would be a pretty good dad. … Then, a funny thing happened. I actually became a dad for the first time. I’m now a father of four and I know much less about parenting than I did before I became a parent. I’ve realized that there are certain things about fatherhood you can only learn until you actually become a dad.”
Perseverance: 3 Suggestions to Help You Persevere by Jim Martin
“The truth is that God in Christ is greater than whatever obstacle might stand in our way.”
Philemon: Onesimus and Philemon: Peter Head on the People Who Delivered Paul’s Letters by John Byron
“The most likely candidate for the job of ‘first interpreter’ of Paul’s letters is probably the person who delivered it. … In a recent paper delivered at the New Testament Seminar at Cambridge University Peter Head examined Paul’s letter to Philemon and wondered who carried the letter. Here is some of what Peter had to say as reported by Peter Malik …”
Scholarship: Scholarship as a Way of Life by James K.A. Smith
“Let me highlight three joys of scholarship as a way of life.”
Violence: “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will” by Sam Alexander
“I’m wondering in what way this can be considered living out American values.”
Worship: Is God Vain for Expecting Me to Worship Him? by Ron Cox
“… to the extent that God commands us to worship him it is not born out of any need that God has.”
The theme for this week’s reading in MoSt Church‘s Uncommon Truth for Common People project is perseverance and the reading schedule looks like this:
- Mon., Mar. 12 – James 1.2-12; John 15.1-11
- Tues., Mar. 13 – Exodus 14.5-31
- Wed., Mar. 14 – Exodus 17.8-16; Psalm 20
- Thur., Mar. 15 – Matthew 24.1-14,36-51; 25.1-13
- Fri., Mar. 16 – Romans 8.28-39; Isaiah 40.25-31
This week’s memory verse is: “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.”(John 15:4a CEB)
This coming Sunday morning (Nov. 27) at MoSt Church, most of our adult classes will study James 5:7-20. This will mark the conclusion of our Journey Thru James. We’ll use the following two phrases to focus our mind on the meaning of this passage: persevering in patience in view of the Lord’s presence (5:7-11) and keeping your promises, offering your praise, praying in faith & pursuing the stragglers (5:12-20). To help you get ready for this encounter with God’s word and our discussion of it, here is the text and twenty exercises and questions.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, you must be patient as you wait for the coming of the Lord. Consider the farmer who waits patiently for the coming of rain in the fall and spring, looking forward to the precious fruit of the earth. You also must wait patiently, strengthening your resolve, because the coming of the Lord is near. Don’t complain about each other, brothers and sisters, so that you won’t be judged. Look! The judge is standing at the door!
Brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord as an example of patient resolve and steadfastness. Look at how we honor those who have practiced endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job. And you have seen what the Lord has accomplished, for the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
Most important, my brothers and sisters, never make a solemn pledge—neither by heaven nor earth, nor by anything else. Instead, speak with a simple “Yes” or “No,” or else you may fall under judgment.
If any of you are suffering, they should pray. If any of you are happy, they should sing. If any of you are sick, they should call for the elders of the church, and the elders should pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. Prayer that comes from faith will heal the sick, for the Lord will restore them to health. And if they have sinned, they will be forgiven. For this reason, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve. Elijah was a person just like us. When he earnestly prayed that it wouldn’t rain, no rain fell for three and a half years. He prayed again, God sent rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
My brothers and sisters, if any of you wander from the truth and someone turns back the wanderer, recognize that whoever brings a sinner back from the wrong path will save them from death and will bring about the forgiveness of many sins. (James 5:7-20 CEB)
1. Would you say this section (5:7-20) is rather random in thought or do you see a connecting thread? Explain.
2. James’ original readers clearly hungered (vs. 7) for the Lord’s return (10 on a scale of 10). How about you? Why?
3. How does James’ teaching to be patient (vs.7-8) fit in with the preceding context (4:13-5:6) and consequently, what
does it mean to be “patient” here in this context?
4. What can a Christian practically do to “strengthen” their “resolve” to wait patiently for the Lord (vs. 8)?
5. It’s easy for church to become “the complaint department” (vs. 9). How can a person break their habit of complaining?
6. What statements by Jesus come to mind when you read about how to avoid being ‘judged (vs. 9b)?
7. Does vs. 8b,9b teach that James expected Jesus’ return to be quite soon? It’s been nearly two millennium. Thoughts?
8. What specific prophets and events come to mind as examples of “patient resolve and steadfastness” (vs. 10)?
9. Read vs. 11. Knowing what you do of the book of Job, how is it exactly that it can be said that Job “endured?”
10. Read vs. 11b. What evidence in life speaks strongly to you that God truly is “full of compassion and mercy?”
11. Does vs. 12 forbid the taking of oaths by Christians in a court of law or saying the Pledge of Allegiance today? Explain.
12. What have you seen happen to peoples’ prayer life when they underwent suffering? (vs. 13a) What happen to yours?
13. The word “sing” (vs. 14) could be literally translated as “psalm.” What Psalm do you like to read when happy or what song do you particularly like to sing to God in praise?
14. Which do you think the illness spoken of in vs.14-15 is, physical or spiritual? Why?
15. Does vs. 14-15 speak of an experience limited to the time of the apostles or of one that is still valid today? Why?
16. James says “confess your sins to one another” (vs. 16). Why don’t we see and practice such more often than we do?
17. Working only from 5:13-18, what would you say are some essential qualities or traits of godly prayer?
18. How can you tell if someone has wandered (vs. 19), taken “the wrong path” (vs. 20) and is headed for death (vs. 20)?
19. Whose sins are being forgiven in vs. 20, those of the restored wanderer or those of the earnest seeker? Explain.
20. What is the best thing you’ve learned or been reminded of in this Journey Thru James?