links: this went thru my mind

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Faith & sports: Why Do Preachers and Worship Leaders Talk So Much About Sports These Days?

“Sports is one of the greatest idols of contemporary American culture and we need to be very discerning about its presence and influence.”

God, judging others, love, nonviolence & vengeance: The Cross & the Tree [sermon by Greg Boyd; essential listening; 33 min. video]

“Unless we’re feasting on the love of God that’s revealed on the cross … we’ll find ourselves inexorably and invariably feeding off of others. … To the degree that we are not feeding on the love of God, we are feeding on others. We will become religious parasites. … When we judge we are playing God. … Instead of confessing we are the worst of sinners … we act as though we’re the least of sinners. … The kingdom of God is about a group of people saying we, ‘We opt out of this evaluation game. We opt out of the judgment game. We opt out of the retaliation game. We opt out of the violence game. We opt out of the hatred game. And rather we put all of our eggs in this one basket: We trust God to be the source of our life, even if we die. And we trust God to be the Judge of the world even if it costs us our life. And therefore we are the people who will respond to evil with good. We will respond to evil by loving our enemies. … We’ll be a people who live like, look like, love like, serve like Jesus Christ when he gives up his life for his enemies on the cross.’ … That folks is the kingdom of God. … It’s God’s way of overcoming evil. The only we’ll do it is by trusting all judgment to God.”

Involvement & volunteers: 5 Reasons People Aren’t Volunteering at Your Church

“I’ve never met a church that said, ‘You know … when it comes to volunteers, we’re good. We’ve got plenty. In fact, there’s a waiting list for the nursery.’ Churches everywhere need to mobilize more volunteers to get ministry done. But before you start signing people up and filling slots, it might be helpful to take a look at why people are not volunteering.”

Ministry: 10 Dangerous Distractions for a Pastor

“… I can’t address everything that gets in the way of a healthy pastor. I can only list some that are more common in my experience.”

sum of the sermon: it comes down to a simple choice, really

 

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another … If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (Hebrews 10.23-27)

Andy and Red were up against it; they had their backs to the wall. They’d recently learned that one of their best friends, Brooks, had killed himself. Hopeless, he had hung himself.

And though neither Andy or Red ever mentioned the word, hope is what they were talking about. Specifically, what a person does – and does not do – as a result of having hope, or not having it, in their life.

The difference between them was that though both were imprisoned, only one of them was imprisoned in mind. As Andy saw it, the only thing keeping him from freedom was made out of stone. Red? He was so shackled the only thing left for him was to find the will to use a rope. Just like Brooks.

But Andy? Andy had hope. And so, he scratched his way out through stone walls and filth. How he perceived his future powerfully impacted what he chose to do with his present. He chose to hope, and so he chose to do. And so, stone walls wouldn’t – couldn’t – contain him.

“It comes down to a simple choice, really: get busy living or get busy dying!”

You probably recall that scene from the movie The Shawshank Redemption. This month is that movie’s twentieth anniversary (hard to believe, isn’t it). And so, let me ask you …

What do you believe? About your future? About hope? And what you’re to be about in the here and now?

Do you have hope? Vibrant, living hope? A hope you simply cannot leave behind? A hope that spurs you on to do what you can with today? For your own blessing and the blessing of others?

If you know Jesus Christ – truly know him – you don’t merely have hope. You know him as your hope. He is your hope. He is your all. Every day. He is what gives your life meaning.

You could no more turn your back on him and walk away from him than Andy Dufresne could have given up his dream to live in a place with no memory of all wrong and his daily toil to get there.

Know this kind of hope; come to know Jesus Christ. Know him as your Lord – as your daily hope – and he will be your Savior. Take on his mind and ways, and he will become your way to freedom. In this life, and in the one beyond. For no walls, made of stone or perception, can restrain him. Or you in your life with him.

Choose him. Choose life. Every day of your life. For today. For the sake of your future. For him.

It will make all the difference in your life. And in the lives of many a Red Redding.

Get busy living.

LIFE group guide: it comes down to a simple choice, really

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (Oct. 5) in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.

Reason

Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of this morning’s sermon.

To underscore our response to God’s calling us and the seriousness of our faith in Christ.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

• Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash. (Matthew 7.24-27 NLT)

• Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand on the plow and looks back is fit for God’s kingdom.” (Luke 9.62 CEB)

• You must be doers of the word and not only hearers who mislead themselves. Those who hear but don’t do the word are like those who look at their faces in a mirror. They look at themselves, walk away, and immediately forget what they were like. But there are those who study the perfect law, the law of freedom, and continue to do it. They don’t listen and then forget, but they put it into practice in their lives. They will be blessed in whatever they do. (James 1.22-25 CEB)

Relation

Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump, to help the conversation begin. Choose one to discuss.

1. Name a movie that has had a profound effect on you or share a favorite movie quote.

2. Is a person what they intend or what they do?

Research

These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this sermon.

1. Read Deut. 30.19-20 and Josh. 24.15. How do they mesh with Matt. 7.24ff and James 1.22ff?

2. Psalm 119 is a psalm of deep devotion to God. How often does it use words like “obey”?

Reflection

These questions assist our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us in our encounter with God’s word.

1. A person who has lost their ability to dream and build for the future has a ______ life.

2. Christ challenges us as he calls us. How does he enable us and equip us to respond?

3. What roles do our works play in our salvation? What roles do they not play?

4. How does how you see your past and future affect what you do in the present?

5. How can a disciple insure that their godly intentions and decisions become actions?

Response

These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid in living out today’s message in the coming days.

1. Consciously use the word “Lord” more often. Let that focus your mind/ways to act.

2. Build a system of solid reminders and means of accountability for your intentions.

links: this went thru my mind

Christian faith, ISIS, nonviolence, violence & war: A Christian Response to ISIS [essential reading]

“…  as Christians, we should be more concerned about faithfulness not effectiveness; we need to take our marching orders from the King of Kings and Prince of Peace, and we should not be blinded to think that a destruction of our enemies through violence will actually conquer evil. And I’m certainly glad that Jesus didn’t destroy me—even though I was His enemy.”

Faith, extra-terrestrial life & religion: Are the World’s Religions Ready for E.T.?

“In 1930, Albert Einstein was … asked whether science and religion conflict. ‘Not really, though it depends, of course, on your religious views.'”

God, pain & suffering: Is Suffering Part of God’s Secret Plan?

“…  in light of God’s revelation in Christ, our assumption should be that their suffering is something we should oppose in the name of God rather than accepting it as coming from God. Hence, the only relevant question disciples of Jesus should consider is, What can we do to bring God’s redemptive will into the situation, to alleviate suffering and to glorify God? How can we respond in such a way that God’s will is further accomplished ‘on earth as it is in heaven’? Instead of asking ‘Who sinned?’ we should ask, ‘How can we bring glory to God in this situation?’ (John 9:1-3).”

Koch Industries, politics & pollution: * Inside the Koch Brothers’ Toxic Empire; * Response to Rolling Stone Story; * Koch Industries Responds to Rolling Stone – And We Answer Back

“The Kochs are our homegrown oligarchs; they’ve cornered the market on Republican politics and are nakedly attempting to buy Congress and the White House.”

Parenting, privacy, social media, social networking & youth: 5 Social Networks You Don’t Know the Kids are Using

“The ones I’m going to talk about are ones the kids in your life probably know. However, they aren’t that kid-friendly, which means you need to know about them, too. You especially need to know the last one because you don’t want kids using it at all.”

links: this went thru my mind

Certainty & faith: When Certainty Kills [essential reading]

“Is it possible that certainty itself has become God for many Christians? Our worship of certainty may be tantamount to idolatry.”

Children, parenting & technology: Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent

“’So, your kids must love the iPad?’ I asked Mr. Jobs, trying to change the subject. The company’s first tablet was just hitting the shelves. ‘They haven’t used it,’ he told me. ‘We limit how much technology our kids use at home.’”

Christianity & ISIS: ISIS vs the Way of Jesus

“… I’m not a politician. I’m a private citizen and a follower of Jesus who has spent 32 years in the Middle East. I speak Arabic. I’ve met personally with the leaders of Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and the Bin Laden family.”

Desperation, hunger & spiritual need: This Common Ingredient in the Gospel Narratives May be the Missing Ingredient in Many Churches

“Whether we feel it or not and whether we realize it or not the same is true for us – we are desperate for Jesus. We just need to realize it. We need to reclaim it. … What will it take for us to become desperate for God again?”

Family: The ‘Leave It to Beaver’ Family Has Been Left Behind

“While in 1960, 65 percent of children lived with families in which the parents were married and the father was the sole breadwinner, only 22 percent of children lived in this setup in 2012. Children now are more likely to live in a single-mother household (23 percent), while a plurality (34 percent) live in families where parents are married and both work.”