honor everyone … honor the emperor

 

He is virtually worshiped by many. He is, simultaneously, vilified by many. And by many others, something in between.

He occupies an exceedingly powerful position. His choices and actions affect the lives of billions. Billions. And who, I ask, is adequate in themselves for such a task?

Now I don’t care on which side of the aisle you sit – if either – but, as Christians we do take God at his word, don’t we?

“Honor everyone. … Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2.17)

And so, how exactly can/will we, Christians, “honor” Donald Trump?

If in no other way, we can do this: we can honor Trump by holding him up before God in prayer. Deliberately and regularly.

Not in reaction to matters we see or hear in the news. Not motivated or filtered by our own personal, political perspectives.

And if our prayers are heard by others, we will not pray in any way “to the gallery,” as if to make a point, get in a jab, or to stimulate a mocking laugh or sneer. Nor will we pray in knee-jerk response or with a “Monday morning quarterback” air about us concerning his attitudes, behaviors, policies, or Tweets.

But, simply to pray for a fellow human being made in the image of God, Donald Trump. A man who is just like each of us: a being in desperate need of God and so, the prayer of others on his behalf.

“Honor everyone. … Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2.17)

Imagine. Imagine every Christian in this land praying for Trump on a regular basis. What might happen? What could happen? For Trump? For ourselves? For the world? For the church families of which we are a part? If we pray in faith?

And so, let talk to God, with trust, for Trump, laying aside any and all sense of human politics within us.

For our Lord has sent his Father’s to us through his Spirit and his will says to us:

“Honor everyone. … Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2.17)

C45 Scripture memorization project: common excuses called out

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him … (Ephesians 1.3-4a NIV)

That is our very first memory verse in this project and what a great one it is, no? Week # 1, starting today, Ephesians 1.3-4a. You can do this!

But now, (sigh) on to the excuses …

 
Excuse #1Uh, the dog ate my announcement sheet that had the memory verse on it.

A. Bad dog; b-a-d dog! Lucky for you the week’s text is also available on my Facebook and Twitter, on the church’s text message group and e-News (like this one), the projection announcements, and more. Not to mention – you can always make my day and just ask me. 😉

Excuse #2I don’t like the version selected that we’re supposed to memorize the passage in because it isn’t the one I use most of the time and it sounds different.

A. Get over it. That’s right, that’s what I said – get over it.

Think of it like this. If Jesus showed up and said something to your face one way one day and then, a few days later, spoke of the very same subject, but in slightly different words, would you correct him and say, “Hey, that’s not how you said it three days ago! That was the only right way and this way isn’t!” Uh, not, you wouldn’t. You’d gladly accept both ways of saying it; in fact, you’d be very humbled and grateful he even spoke to you at all, right? In fact, that’s what we have time and again with parallel passages throughout the Bible.

Well, it works the exact same way with Bible translations. Same thought/different words. Accept it. Further, learn to like it. Because it is the meaning you’re ultimately after, right, not just some argument over words?

Besides, if you can’t express the same thought two different ways, I dare say you don’t really understand the thought in it well enough yet. So don’t resist variation, rather, run to embrace it. And so, allow such moments to deepen your awareness, learning, understanding, and thinking … not allowing the devil to play with your head and lead you to grumble about the very words of God.

Excuse #3I’ve got a Bible. Several of them. Paper and digital. On my tablet and my phone. With every word in the Bible so easily and quickly accessible, tell me why I need to memorize these texts? 

A. You asked frankly so, I’ll respond frankly: because they’re everywhere except where they can be doing some good for you all of the time. Knowing where your Bible is, what you think it says, where to find things in it – none of these can take the place of keeping the word of God in your heart. It is the difference between having a package of seeds and having those seeds in the ground.

Excuse #4I. Need. Help. Because. This. Is. Hard. For. Me.

A. Fair enough; that is not an excuse; that’s a sincere cry for help! So, here are four truly helpful tips …

* Memorize the text in small pieces (4-8 words) at a time. Get that piece down cold – meaning you can say it aloud consistently, instantaneously, and flawlessly every time – before you add the next words. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

* Write the passage out several times each day (no typing allowed). This forces you to think about every letter of every word and engages an additional, powerful sense in the work – your sense of touch – which will – write it down! – greatly aid your memory.

* Pay close attention to movement in the passage. As in the sense of time (past, present, future) as well as other matters (who, what, where, why, how). Note as well things like causation (e.g. – “because,” “by,” “from”), company (e.g. – “with,” “in”) direction (e.g. – “to,” “up,” “down”), and consequence (e.g. – “so that,” “in order that”). Think of these matters as something like road signs along the way. Often those “little” words will prompt you to remember the entire following string of words.

* Use your body to help your brain. Get in front of a mirror and use gestures to help convey the meaning of the text as you say it aloud. For example, does the passage speak of something being done to you or inside of you? If so, point at your heart. Does it address a group a people with words like “us” or “we?” Then broadly gesture as if toward a crowd with the sweep of your hand. Is God addressed? Look up while you say the word “God.” You get the idea. Just try it; it works wonders with your memory!

Excuse #5This really does look like a great project and I’d really like to do it, but you just don’t know how busy my life is right now and …

A. Then you’re too busy for your own good. So get real honest, inventory what occupies your time, stop doing something (or cut back), and make memorizing what the Holy Spirit has said to you a greater desire and a higher priority.

Pick something: spend less time on social media, not as much time with the news, put this in place of some of your music or video time, etc.

Multi-task: write the week’s text on a sticky-note and tack it where you are at the moment (on the mirror while you’re shaving or putting on your make-up; on the equipment or in the palm of your hand while you exercise; on your dashboard while you’re driving; etc.).

You have the time. Reject telling yourself otherwise. Just make this matter a higher priority and let something of lower priority slide, for God speaking to you is rather important, no?

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him … (Ephesians 1.3-4a NIV)

C45: MoSt Church’s 2017 Bible project

 

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Psalm 119.105)

Every year at MoSt Church we involve ourselves in a church-wide Bible reading project. This coming year’s project (2017) is called C45 and is a micro-level reading approach.

What does C45 mean? The C in C45 stands for “crucial” and the “45” is the project’s length (45 weeks).

What’s C45 about? In a very few words: as a church, we’ll memorize and meditate on 45 very brief but vital Scriptures between Jan. 8 and Nov. 26, 2017.

Where will we be in the word? We’ll be into the Old Testament (e.g. – Numbers 6.24-26; Psalm 46.1-2; Proverbs 3.5-6; Isaiah 29.13; Micah 6.8). And we’ll also be all over the New Testament (e.g. – Acts 2.38; 3.19; Colossians 3.17; 4.5; Hebrews 4.14-16; 1 John 1.7; Jude 24). At times we’ll focus on a context for awhile, lingering on a chunk of Scripture (e.g. – Matthew 5.3-12a; Philippians 2.2-4; Colossians 1.15-20; James 1.19-21). However, most of the time we’ll be “here and there.”

How long is each week’s text to memorize? No week’s text exceeds 35 words in length (e.g. – Matthew 22.37-38; 1 Peter 1.3). That is very, very doable; not burdensome at all. In fact, many weeks the text length to commit to memory is 25 words or less (e.g. – Exodus 34.6b-7a; Psalm 55.22). Some weeks the text is even uber-brief: think 15 words or less (e.g. – Galatians 5.6b; Philippians 1.21; 1 Thessalonians 5.16-18a).

Which version of the Bible will we use in this project? No one translation, but a variety. However, the CEB, KNT, NIV, NLT, NRSV, and The Voice will predominate. Why? We’ll select on the basis of which works best for that text for this project.

Let me tell you: this is going to be good stuff!

Classes and sermons will supplement. You’ll be encouraged to journal, but memorize for sure. Consider now how you can share such with your friends and/or family then. Get creative.

So, be encouraged and determine to be an encouragement. Gear up with anticipation and prayer. Get thirsty for the word of the Lord and prepare to drink it in.

Remember: C45. Mark it down: January 8. And watch for “C45” in the coming weeks/months and you’ll see much more word to come on this project throughout the coming weeks/months.

All of Scripture is God-breathed; in its inspired voice, we hear useful teaching, rebuke, correction, instruction, and training for a life that is right so that God’s people may be up to the task ahead and have all they need to accomplish every good work. (2 Timothy 3.16-17, The Voice)
c45

some of my counselors for 2017/2018

 

Without counsel, plans go wrong, but with many advisers they succeed. (Proverbs 15.22)

And so, I deliberately, and regularly, seek out good advice and counsel from others. Some of that counsel comes to me in the form of books; the authors of these books are my advisers.

With the start of a new year at hand, I plan to surround myself with a small group of wise men. A dozen published minds and a dozen months. In fact, my plan is a two-year plan, and so it is actually more like two dozen minds and two dozen months.

bonhoefferMy 2017 group consists of: Dietrich Bonhoeffer (pictured above), Shane Claiborne, John Climacus, Peter Enns, Richard Foster, Stanley Hauerwas, C.S. Lewis, Scot McKnight, Eugene H. Peterson, Christian Smith, Christopher J.H. Wright, and N.T. Wright.

My 2018 group will be comprised of: John Barclay, Richard Beck, Benedict of Nursia, Edward Fudge, John Goldingay, Michael J. Gorman, James Bryan Smith, Henri Nouwen, Richard Rohr, C. Christopher Smith, James K.A. Smith, and Dallas Willard.

Of course, my advice and counsel won’t be limited to these men – by no means – but, I will focus deeply on the words of these.

I foresee some benefit overflowing your way from this effort in a number of ways, one small way being that I intend to share snippets of their insight and wisdom in the form of quotes each day the next two years on my Facebook page, as well as perhaps, some posted here on occasion.

Two thoughts:

(1) Do you have a plan for what you feed your head in terms of reading (aside from Scripture), and if so, what is it?

(2) Who do you grant special access to the stimulation, challenge, and formation of your thinking, and why? That is, who do you seek out to sharpen you?

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27.17)