Man, this is such a great article on the lies Christians believe about being successful in life. If you are serious about being a faithful disciple of Jesus, I would highly recommend you read and re-read this from The Gospel Coalition blog. Here is an excerpt of a few of the lies we easily fall for:
When God tells us to become like a child, he doesn’t mean “become like a child emotionally but make sure you have life insurance and pension and a stocked pantry.” No, he means seek first the kingdom of heaven and all of these things—the food, the clothing, the future—will be added unto you. He wants to take care of us while we devote ourselves to him. And it will probably mean appearing foolish to the rest of the world.
4. You are what you make of yourself.
There’s a lot of pressure to speak up, to be assertive, and to make your name known lest you get lost in a sea of pixels. But Jesus says the last shall be first. Despite being God, he made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant and becoming obedient to death—even a cursed death on a cross (Phil. 2:5–11). He trusted God to glorify him, even as he emptied himself of glory. We’re called to do the same.
5. Suffering is a sign of failure.
When did North American culture become adverse to pain? If we begin to feel uncomfortable, we pop a pill. If we struggle with depression or discouragement, or if we encounter a terrible diagnosis, we rush to therapy or the doctor instead of first going to the Father and asking him what he wants us to learn through this suffering. God uses suffering for our good, even if it should end in death. We carry around within us the death of Christ, and we will never know the power of Christ’s resurrection if we don’t enter first into suffering.
You can read the full article here.
Something happened to me Sunday just before I got up to speak at The Gathering. Clearly, the Spirit of God was working through the time of worship and I had the impression that we needed to pause…I knew I needed to pause. Things weren’t right. Earlier that morning, I had gotten upset with my 12 year-old son because he was acting like a 12 year-old. The nerve of that kid! I’m ashamed to say that I was, too. Thankfully, I’m the only dad who does that kind of thing. What would the world be like if every father responded to their kids in a less-than-mature way?
I was reminded of Matthew 5:23-24:
23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
I fell under heavy conviction that morning in worship and had the feeling there were others who had, as well, for one thing or another. I took a few minutes after a very moving time of worship to deal with these things in silence, during which I went to my son and begged his forgiveness. It’s one thing to feel remorse, but that is worth little unless it drives us to acts of repentance and restoration. It seems others in worship that morning experienced something like that, too, as at least a few people moved towards others within worship to address personal issues.
I don’t know about you, but I find it so easy to become wrapped up in pride to the point that relationships become strained or damaged as a result sometimes. The beautiful thing is that, when we decide to repent, both to God for a childish attitude, and the other person we had the issue with, forgiveness generally flows easily.
My son was quick to forgive me as I repented and gave my assurance that I am going to work much harder in submitting to God’s leadership in making me a godly role model for him. I want the legacy I leave to be a positive one.
So, do you struggle in this area, too? Do you find yourself acting the juvenile in relationships sometimes? How quick are you to repent? How quick are you to forgive when wronged? What are some things you do to maintain an attitude of humble submission and repentance when you are wrong?
If you come to The Gathering on big-time patriotic days like the 4th of July expecting fireworks, flag waving, or a full repertoire of chill-enducing patriotic songs, you’re likely to be sorely disappointed. The reason is simple: we don’t do it. The more important question is, of course, why.
I know that in America, it is considered downright unchristian not to have major patriotic services on important days, but the fact is, I have a strong conviction that it is closer to unchristian to have them. Now, as a disclaimer here, I’m not saying I believe it’s wrong to show a brief appropriate, God-honoring video or even to have a short segment (such as prayer for the Nation) dedicated to the subject, but when the bulk of our worship time is dedicated to the celebration of a Country (or anything/anyone other than Christ, alone, and His Kingdom), I take issue.
The sole purpose of a Church in worship is to worship…God. The magnification of Christ is to be our solitary focus; singing songs to Him and about Him and focusing on His Word of Truth is why we do what we do. Look, I’m as patriotic as the next guy. I love my homeland, as messed up as she is, but there is an appropriate place and time for those sorts of celebrations and I contend that the time designated for worshiping Christ together and focusing on our true citizenship is not the time and not the place. Not even just once a year.
So, enjoy the fireworks, listen to the band play The Battle Hymn of the Republic, recite the Pledge of Allegiance and whoop it up for the Stars and Stripes, but unless you are intentionally engaging in a soft form of idolatry, please don’t do it in a worship service. Please don’t do it in place of corporate worship of the one, true God who, alone, is worthy or our worship and allegiance.
Oh, and P.S. Don’t let politicians hijack your pulpits either…but that’s another subject (sort of).
That’s my take. Feel free to share yours.
A friend of mine posted this on his Facebook this morning. It resonated with me so much, I have to post it here, with all my heart:
It’s the people that disappoint you most in life that really make you appreciate the loyal people that don’t. To those who are true, and you know who you are, thank you!
This is especially true when you are the leader of people. I recently heard a very well-known, respected leader make the following statement:
“There is no way you are going to be able to please everyone, so make sure you anger the right people.”