Monthly Archives: March 2010

Are Dogs the Best Christians?

The epitome of a Christian?

There is an unfortunate myth that perpetuates itself throughout church communities. It can be fairly well summed up in an old saying I once heard: “I don’t drink, smoke, chew, or date girls that do.” The myth is that Christians are just supposed to stay away from a lot of things and they’ll be good.

Don’t drink. Don’t lie. Don’t have premarital sex. Don’t cheat. Don’t gamble. Don’t…..and the list grows depending on which church you attend.

Unfortunately, many people ascribe to this belief. But, that is NOT Christianity. If it were, your dog would be the best Christian around. He doesn’t cuss. He doesn’t get drunk. He doesn’t go out doing bad things. What a great dog! He’s so good.

But no, that is not Christianity. Paul addressed this issue in the letter to the Galatians. Listen to what defines a Christian life for Paul.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,         faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Galatians 5:22-23

Paul is telling them that their individual lives and their community (the “church”) should be defined by these things. How many people in your community, when asked to describe your church, would even mention this list?

Fact is, we spend so much time trying to “overcome” sin on our own that we miss out on the fruit of our relationship with God. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

Abiding in Christ, relationship with God – that is what produces that fruit Paul talks about.

And I found this interesting: The word “fruit” in Paul’s passage is singular. Love, joy, peace, etc. is one package. They are not just a bunch of individual things we work really hard on. They are a bundle of fruit blossoming from the vine. Think of it like a bunch of grapes. One fruit, just a bunch of it. That’s the fruit of the Spirit.

What if our church was known for its love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? People long for that kind of community. Instead, we spend the majority of our time focused on the “shall nots.”

Do you see this fruit in your life?

Does your Christianity consist mostly of no’s?

Do you abide in Christ each day or work on your own power?

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Filed under christian, Scripture, Uncategorized

15 and Gone – Why?

Tragedy.

It’s the only word that can describe a 15 year old’s death.

After months of bullying and harrasment, on Jan. 14, Phoebe Prince chose to end her life.

Heartbreaking.

There are so many questions. Why? What made her feel as if there was no hope? Could it have been prevented?

I don’t know if we’ll ever have all the answers. All we know is that at some point she was pushed to the edge by the constant torment of kids who chose her as the target of their derision.

In 2006, there were 33,000 suicides in the United States. 594,000 others were treated for self-afflicted injuries.

Many of these people may have friends and family who stood steadfastly beside them through thick and thin, but many don’t.

Every suicide can’t be prevented, but I just wonder what statistical change would happen if we as “the church” took to intentionally noticing and loving people who are being pushed to the edge. Too often, our friends consist of people who look and sound an awful lot like us. I admit. That describes me in a lot of ways.

Jesus stood with the downtrodden. He healed the sick. He found himself confronted with a lot of messy situations. But he looked neither left nor right. He refused to overlook, ignore, or forget about them. Instead, he graciously provided for their phsyical and spiritual needs.

Now, we’re no Jesus. But we can love people. The question is: Are we willing to?

Phoebe’s death is a sad, tragic reminder that our world is broken. Please pray for her family as they cope with the loss of their daughter.

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Filed under In the News, making a difference

Redeeming Time

We all wish we could add time to our day. The reality is…we can’t. It’s just not possible.

But, what we can do is make intentional efforts to make the most of the time we have. This is part 4 in thinking through time management. You can find the first three parts here, here, and here.

Today’s post is an easy read. Here’s a simple list of things you could do to free up time to show people God’s love.

  1. One Minute Email Rule: My email is a complete fail. I have thousands of emails just taking up space in my inbox. I can’t remember where I read this rule, but I love it and I’m going to give it a shot. Open your email and do one of three things. First, if it’s trash, delete it. Second, if you can respond in under a minute, do it and put it in a “processed” folder. Don’t put it off. Third, if it requires more attention, then put it on your list of things to do. The reality is most email requires a minute or under to respond. Simply clearing out those emails will make you vastly more efficient and disciplining yourself to respond immediately means less people go unanswered.
  2. Schedule Time to Serve: Most of us have good intentions. We want to serve, but our week is packed. BUT, most of us have no idea what we’ll be doing June 5 (pick any random day in the future). Sign up for Habitat for Humanity, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or whatever. Just put it on the calendar. Make it part of your schedule and that will give you time to find a babysitter or get other work accomplished. Make serving a priority by intentionally scheduling.
  3. Make the Most of Meals: A common refrain I hear from pastors and leaders is that they have no time. But we eat don’t we? You’ve got three meals a day. Make the most of that meal by not going it alone. Invite someone to lunch. Meet someone for breakfast. Welcome another family into your home for dinner. Some of the best conversations people have are around meals. It’s a chance to listen to people, learn who they are, and you may learn of a need you could meet.
  4. Serve as a Family: Many times, especially at churches, we separate our families. One night, dad will go somewhere. The other night, mom…and so on. Seek out, discover, and invent ways to serve and volunteer together. I recently heard a friend of mine whose family sponsored a cookout to raise money for people in Haiti. That’s a great way to not only serve, but also to invest in your family. Time well spent.

Those are just four simple ways to start getting the most out of your time. There are a million more out there on the internet, but those hit home with me.

Got any time management tips that you think are essential? Don’t be bashful, share them!

Have a great day and don’t forget to ask yourself the question:

How can I Become Last today?

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Filed under Time, Uncategorized

Sharing God’s Heart

Today, I’m guest blogging over at Shooting the Breeze. I hope you’ll stop by and check it out!

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Filed under Making God Known

The ‘Why’ of Faithfulness

Faithfulness is one of those words we have to be careful with. As Christians, we have a tendency to cut things out of Scripture and then assign our own meanings to them. Oftentimes, when we discuss faithfulness, we jump right into our own responsibilities and duties toward God. We figure out when, how, and in what way we must obey. And this is all good, we should be faithful. But what we often forget is why…

The ‘why’ is just as and probably more important than anything else. It’s the reason and the foundation for our faithfulness. Without the why our faithfulness is futile and our efforts will only lead to exhaustion and frustration.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

Faithfulness is a fruit of our relationship with God. This list in Galatians was not meant for Christians to parse out all the words and figure out ways in which they can make themselves more faithful, gentle, or loving. Paul was telling the Galatians that these things come from a relationship with God.

Our Christian lives begin at the cross with the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. We worship Him for His sacrifice, His love, and His mercy. But then we tend to drift. We move away from the power of Christ and the love of God into a me-centered religion of “I’ve got to do this for God. I’ve got to be faithful.”

God certainly wants our obedience. He loves faithfulness, but we must not ever rely on our own efforts to make ourselves good. When Peter walked on water, he was focused on Christ. It was when he turned and focused on the wind and waves that he fell. I can almost hear him thinking, “Jesus called me out here, but it’s windy and stormy. I’m scared, but I’ll try really hard. Maybe I can make myself buoyant.” Of course, that didn’t work. He sank. Focusing on Christ allowed him to be faithful as he walked across the water.

As we seek to love others, remember to cling to the one who sacrificed his life for you. Remember, it is He who gives you the strength, perseverance, and passion to be faithful. We should be like the psalmist who shouts:

My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.  Psalm 63:8

* This post was part of a blog carnival hosted by Bridget Chumbley. To read other posts on faithfulness, click here.

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Filed under Scripture, Uncategorized

World Vision: 2 Soccer Balls

World Vision: 2 Soccer Balls.

A short post before my family heads out to the grocery store. The link above sends you directly to the World Vision website. They are one of many organizations that gives you the opportunity to donate directly toward a specific cause. In this case, you can buy soccer balls for kids who normally play with rolled up trash or makeshift banana leaves.

I’m not naive. I know soccer balls won’t solve hunger or thirst, but imagine the smiles on the kids faces. Healthy, happy kids are a vital part of a community. I imagine their parents may even get out there and play with them too.

You may not change the world with the purchase of a couple of soccer balls, but believe me, there will be a child whose life contains a few more smiles than it did before.

Have a great Monday!

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Filed under child sponsorship, making a difference, Serving Others

Time Reveals Our Priorities

This week, time management has been the theme. We all have many ideas about what we want our lives to be like, but sometimes we get swamped. Yesterday, we took a time inventory. Today, we ask ourselves an important question:

Does the way we use our time match what we claim to value?

We’re all familiar with the saying, “Put your money where your mouth is.” Our priorities and values can normally be understood by looking at how we spend our money. I believe the same holds true for how we spend our time.

Think of it this way. I tell my wife I love her. I could text it to her, say it to her, email it to her, and shout it from the rooftops. But what if I went out and spent all my time with other girls? What if I never opened the car door for her, helped clean up the house, or bragged on her to friends? We all show love in different ways, but wouldn’t she begin to question my love if I never showed it. Love is more than words. It means sacrificing your time, priorities and rights on behalf of another.

Take a minute. Brainstorm. What do you value? What are you passionate about? Write it down.

Yesterday, you wrote down how you spent your time. Do the two lists match? If not, why not?

If we say that family is really important to us, but we find we never spend time with our kids, is it true?
If we say God is important and never spend time with Him, is that true?
If we claim to love the poor and needy, but do nothing for them, is it true?

I know work takes up a huge part of our week, but how we spend the rest of our time does say something about us.

What does your time say about you?

Tomorrow, we look at being intentional with our time. Hope to see you back.

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Filed under Challenges, Time