links: this went thru my mind

 

Church, discipleship, small groups & transformation: * The Surprising Truth About Discipleship and Spiritual Disciplines; * Is Church Too Easy? [essential reading]

* “… groups play an important role in the spiritual lives of the people in our churches. What will surprise you is just how important that impact is.”

 

* “If our goal is to ‘teach people to obey’ all that Jesus commanded, then we may want to rethink our commitment to comfort on Sundays.”

Churches of Christ & humility: Eating in the Church Building

“Bottom line. The Church of Christ has done and is doing some great things. At the same time, we have done many wrong-headed, incorrect, ungodly things. We need to recognize this fact, and admit to ourselves and the world that we are as fallible as any church ever.”

Jesus, nonviolence & pacifism: The Pacifism of Jesus: Reclaiming Christianity’s Challenge [essential reading]

“It may seem odd, even totally counter-intuitive, but following the words of Jesus should be hard. If it is a ticket to earthly dominance, to preservation of the status quo, we have to ask, ‘Is this really the gospel?'”

Independence, others, self & unity: Forgive Us For Our ‘Go-It-Alone’ Attitude

“Enable us to know great joy as forgiven people, united as followers of Jesus Christ. Amen.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Apologies, communication, deception, forgiveness, manipulation & relationships: How to Spot a Fake Apology [required reading]

“Of all the keys to healthy relationships—whether with friends, family or significant others—perhaps the most important is knowing when and how to ask for forgiveness.”

Culture & faith: Why Christians Must Give Up the Fight

“Some churches and Christians feel so attacked by the non-Christian culture that their natural response is to fight. They fight Hollywood because of its movies. They fight Nashville because of its music. They fight Washington because of its laws. The hope is for the church to regain power. They respond in way that says, ‘I will fight against you.'”

Denominations, division & tribes: 5 Dangers of Tribalism

“There’s an ever-growing number of tribes in the church. Denominations, coalitions, and networks all serve as tribes within the Tribe of Christian faith. These tribes we participate in each play a vital role in connecting us to one another and catalyzing us for mission. Despite their many benefits, our tribalism is not without inherent dangers.”

Hell: 5 Reasons Why More Christians Are Rejecting The Traditional View of Hell

“As more and more Christians return home to a radical faith centered squarely on Jesus, we will continue to see a growing number of bible believing, soundly orthodox Christians, reject the evangelical concept of ‘eternal, conscious torment.’ This should be viewed as a beautiful thing, not a travesty, as we rediscover that God actually is altogether wonderful, altogether lovely, and altogether like Jesus.”

Humility & time: The PaleoClock

“We’d have to live for hundreds of thousands of years to detect any movement at all.”

Israel & Palestinians: Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible Through Palestinian Eyes [32 min. video; required listening]

“In his latest book, Faith in the Face of Empire, Mitri Raheb, presents a new reading of the Bible from the perspective of the people of Palestine.’ In light of the current geo-political turmoil, after the hopes of the Arab Spring, and in the face of the latest round of US shuttle diplomacy, Raheb asks, ‘Can we imagine another Middle East? Can there be a different future?'”

Marriage: Making Your Marriage More Important Than Your Kids

“… to keep your marriage happy and healthy, you’re going to have to be willing to invest time in it.”

guest post: it is better that he say

 

The following is a guest post by a good friend and brother of mine, Brock Paulk, who serves as the preaching minister with the Heritage Church of Christ in Keller, TX. Enjoy!

These are also proverbs of Solomon, copied by the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah: It is the glory of God to hide something and the glory of kings to discover something. Like the high heavens and the depths of the earth, so the mind of a king is unsearchable. Remove the dross from the silver, and a vessel will come out for the refiner. Remove the wicked from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established in righteousness. Don’t exalt yourself in the presence of the king, or stand in the place of important people, because it is better that he say to you, “Come up here” than to be demoted before a ruler. (Proverbs 25.1-7)

Have you ever been asked to describe your most embarrassing moment? It’s not a question you’re likely eager to answer in front of people you don’t know well.

We’ve all had moments we wish we could take back. Maybe you had a wardrobe malfunction, or maybe one of your kids repeated something in public that you wish they hadn’t heard you say at home. When I was in college helping to produce a welcome-to-campus event for the incoming freshman class, I ungracefully tripped, running at full speed, in front of 1500 new students and many of my school friends. Some impression I made!

It’s embarrassing to think about how much effort most of us go through to avoid being embarrassed, isn’t it? I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’m overly-compulsive about double-checking my pants zipper before I go on stage at our church to preach or make an announcement. In our culture, a lot of energy and money is spent on primping, grooming, trimming, preparing, and concealing in order to avoid embarrassment.

So the wisdom presented in Proverbs 25:1-7 seems practical, even for those of us to don’t often find ourselves in the presence of “royalty.” The passage reminds us – kings are ordained leaders, tasked with seeking Godly wisdom to direct the affairs of the kingdom in righteousness. And when you appear before the king and choose where to stand in the royal court, remember the relative importance of your position and choose accordingly so that you won’t be embarrassed.

… it is better that he say to you, “Come up here,” than to be demoted before a ruler.

Demotion is embarrassing. Demotion takes the wind out of your sails…it makes you look around and see who’s watching in the hopes that nobody else noticed.

When the opinion that matters is that of the earthly king, whose glory is different than God’s (v.1), a servant can garner promotion simply by standing in a strategic place.

But honor looks different for a follower of Christ.

After reading Proverbs 25:1-7, it’s an easy jump to think about Jesus’ instruction from Luke 14:7-14. Jesus offers similar wisdom here – when you’re invited to a feast, remember your position and choose your seat accordingly so that you won’t be embarrassed.

… go and sit in the least important place. When your host approaches you, he will say, ‘Friend, move up here to a better seat.’ Then you will be honored …

Of course, the temptation is to use the advice from these two passages to try to work the system, intentionally and visibly demoting ourselves in an attempt to garner compliments and accolades.

But Jesus takes a longer view into the future. When he says, “those who humble themselves will be exalted,” he’s not just explaining how to get a better dinner seat. Jesus is concerned with teaching his servants not to pursue rewards from humans, but to pursue honor “at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:14)

In God’s economy, it’s not the humble seat that deserves honor, but the humble heart. When the opinion that matters is that of our Heavenly Father, we please him by emptying ourselves, emptying ourselves and becoming obedient (Philippians 2:6-8), just like Jesus.

The question for us becomes, “Which king do we serve?” If it’s the honor of humans that we desire, we can manipulate our way to promotion. If it’s the honor of the Kings of kings, we must give our honor away.

links: this went thru my mind

 

Animals: Zoo Animals and Their Discontents

“The notion that animals think and feel may be rampant among pet owners, but it makes all kinds of scientific types uncomfortable. … That may be changing. A profusion of recent studies has shown animals to be far closer to us than we previously believed …”

Baptism: Six Things I Don’t Believe About Baptism

“… not an exhaustive list. But it’s a start.”

Church, evangelism, Nones & outreach: Five Toxic Church Environments Turning Away Nones

“… nones … They are currently the single fastest-growing religious group of our time and currently represent 20% of the US population.”

Discipleship & social media: Will Social Media Destroy Discipleship?

“The Internet becomes dangerous when it keeps us from deeply investing in real one-on-one relationships. God is an extremely relational God. He is one God in three persons. He is literally made up of relationship. We are created in His image. We are wired to be relational, to encourage, be with, and love other people. Discipleship is God’s joy and passion for His people. Discipleship is God’s plan for redemption.”

Hitler, home invasion, nonviolence, pacifism & self-defense: What If Hitler Invaded Your Home? [essential reading]

“Some trust in horses and chariots, some trust in Smith and Wesson, but we will trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

Humility, ministry, preaching & weakness: A Word to Those Who Preach

“…  our role is to tell Him thank you for the ways He is choosing to use us to reach the world.  You most likely assume that you are not a big deal.  Good.  We aren’t. However, we are in His eyes when we walk in humility alongside the Spirit of Jesus.”

LIFE group guide: our declaration of dependence

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (July 6) 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 declare and underscore our complete dependence on God, the only true Power.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

•  The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. … The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. (Psalm 28.8; 29.11 NIV)

•  No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and  our shield. (Psalm 33.16-20 NIV)

•  The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will. (Proverbs 21.1 NRSV)

•  I am the vine, you are the branches. … apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15.5 NRSV)

•  From one person God created every human nation to live on the whole earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands. God made the nations so they would seek him, perhaps even reach out to him and find him. (Acts 17.26-27a CEB)

•  … it doesn’t depend on a person’s desire or effort. It depends entirely on God, who shows mercy. (Romans 9.16 CEB)

•  … let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. … the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. … Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. (Galatians 5.16a,22-23a,25 NLT)

•  … through your faith, God is protecting you by his power … (1 Peter 1.5 NLT)

Relation

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

1. At what age would you say you became independent of your parents? Where were you in life?

2. Tell us of an instance in which you became keenly aware of your total dependence on God.

Research

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

1. As a group, read Ps. 23 aloud. For what does this psalm’s author sense his God-dependence?

2. Categorize each of the texts above as to what each specifies we’re dependent on God for.

Reflection

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

1. How does a gathering of believers (e.g. a LIFE group or church) express dependence on God?

2. If a person seeks to live totally dependent on God what will they not do?

3. How is prayer tied to our dependence on God? Humility? Faith?

4. What steps can a person take to mature their awareness of dependence on God? A church?

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. Itemize specifics in which you sense your God-dependence. Study the list for what’s missing.

2. Methodically pray through the Psalms of Ascent (Ps. 120-134) with your mind on dependency.