Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Motivational

39 years old.

With a sweet, spunky two year old daughter.

And I've finally realized that I truly need others to get most anything serious done.

Does that make me some sort of codependent type or does it mean I just do well in community?

So, how can my life be more productive? Should I have "work parties" more often? The goal of said "work parties" would be to accomplish a certain task through getting like minded people together. For instance, I saw on a blog about how Fiero loving people work together to fix a kid's car and in that story it talks about another kid with cancer: 
He's seen it before, with guys like Tyler Shipman. A few years ago, the 18-year-old Fiero owner was diagnosed with cancer. The disease wasn't responding to treatment, and he posted on the Fiero forum, asking for parts to get his car working "before I'm gone." Three weeks later, dozens of Fiero fans from around the country descended on his Minnesota town, CNN affiliate KARE reported. They got the car working during a one-day auto-repair binge. They painted it yellow -- Tyler's choice. 
Tyler died about in February, 2010, four months after his diagnosis. He left the car to his kid brother, and another one for his little sister. Now, there's an annual car show in his memory. Kathryn and her family don't know the Shipmans, but they plan to be there next year. The hood badge on her finished car will be in memory of Tyler, a teen who didn't get enough time with his Fiero.
I'm not like those two, I'm not a kid, and I don't have cancer. But they have a Fiero Forum. What if I just use some sort of Life Forum? I'll ask all my friends to connect me with their friends who have the skills for the project I need and we'll do it all together. Oh, wait, this sounds like Facebook. I don't use FB in that way. Maybe I should?

What are your thoughts? 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Dottie's Mother's Day Post

FRIDAY, MAY 06, 2011

Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise (Ephesians 6:2).

Mother's Day for Missionary Moms is a difficult day. The sermon for the assembly of the gathered saints is focused on Moms and Grandmothers and Great Grandmothers. Often moms are asked to stand and be recognized by the congregation. After corporate worship children take their moms out to eat, but not you. Your children and grandchildren seem a million miles away. Oh, if they know it is Mother's Day in the States, they will call you or Skype you if they can. They may have already sent an email and email card, but you dread the inevitability of the day. It's another tough reminder that your children are missionaries - not that a day goes by that you don't remember.

Mother's Day is the day children are to spoil their mothers. Images of breakfast in bed or the gift of flowers and chocolates play across tv screens. It is subtley intimated that the number of gifts and cards a mom receives, equals how much she is loved. If you are also taken out to eat, you are really loved.

Mother's Day could become a miserable day for you. I don't know if this will help you or not, but this is a way I cope with special days I can no longer celebrate. My anniversary comes up every year, but I am a widow. My son's birthday, like clock work shows up every February, but he has been with the Lord longer than he lived. What do I do with those days? I celebrate them. I invite a friend out for dinner and I pay the bill. On those days, I even order dessert. Those days are very special days and instead of mourning, I rejoice that I was married for 43 years to a wonderful guy who loved me back and that I was allowed to be the Mom to a special son for 21 years. On Father's Day I will see that my son-in-laws get special cards and I will celebrate. My suggestion is that you celebrate this Mother's Day and rejoice that you are a Mom. Invite another Mom who will be alone also and go out to lunch together. Wear a special dress. Give yourself permission to have fun. Look for the people in your congregation who will be alone and be sure you hug everyone of them. Choose not to mope. Look and list things you are thankful for and remember, on the last day, someone may come up and hug you because your son or daughter lived Jesus before them and so they listened to their words about Him. They will thank you for your sacrifice.

It is far better to know that you will spend eternity with your missionary son or daughter than to have them home for Mother's Day this year.

From Dottie's blog: http://missionarysmissionary.blogspot.com/

Thursday, April 14, 2011

We’re Asking For a Different Kind of Leadership


We’re Asking For a Different Kind of Leadership

Recently I was talking with a guy who was attempting to lead a missional community. He had come from an established church setting. He was used to understanding church in terms of already established structures. He was constantly tempted to lead by edict. “We need to do this!” “These elders should be doing this!” “We need to ensure that everybody leading local house groups is at this meeting and learning “such and such.” So I tried to tell him this kind of leadership won’t do in the process of gathering and nurturing a community of mission. We need a different kind of leadership from you.
1.) We need a leader who puts forth ideas, vision by I saying “This is where/how I see God working. This is where I hear God calling us” and then ALWAYS submits that to the other person(s) asking – what are you seeing? Where are you going? Is this the way you are being called as well? NOT SOMEONE WHO SAYS “OK THIS IS THE VISION GOD HAS GIVEN ME FOR THIS CHURCH – CAN YOU FOLLOW ME? OR DO YOU NEED TO GO TO ANOTHER CHURCH?
2.) We need a leader who leads by listening and then knows when to ask (out of relationship) “can I speak truth into your life?” NOT SOMEONE WHO TELLS PEOPLE WHAT THEY NEED TO HEAR/DO BEFORE HE/SHE EVEN LISTENS
3.) We need a leader who never presumes authority but whose very presence and life makes people want to trust him/her and follow him/her. NOT SOMEONE WHO SEEMS TO ALWAYS BE ACTING OUT OF HIS/HER KNOWLEDGE, EXPERTISE OR PERCEIVED OFFICE.
4.) We need a leader who serves first by example, who embodies the disposition of being in everyday ministry/service to the hurting and then asks someone “can you join me on this?” NOT SOMEONE WHO RUNS THE CHURCH AS IF HE/SHE IS A CEO
5.) We need a leader who can unfurl the reality of the Lordship of Christ in the world and in each one’s life via Scripture, and then invite/challenge people to live there. NOT SOMEONE WHO USES SCRIPTURE TO PREACH A PRE-SCRIBED PRE-DETERMINED AGENDA FOR THE FUTURE ORGANIZATION OF THIS CHURCH.
6.) We need a leader who can cultivate the Kingdom in people, who can sit down with people over a cup of coffee, ask questions, and help each person see that God is “breaking in” through Jesus Christ working for the salvation of this person’s entire life and the people around him/her. And then ask, “how do you respond, how can you be faithful, how will you join in?” NOT SOMEONE WHO HAS A SET OF PRE DETERMINED PROGRAMS THAT HE/SHE WANTS EVERY PERSON TO VOLUNTEER FOR.
7.) We need a leader who can teach many more leaders how to be this kind of leader. NOT THE KIND OF LEADER THAT RECRUITS MORE LEADERS UNDER HIM/HER TO CARRY OUT HIS ORDERS.
I freely admit, that this kind of leadership is most often different than the leadership we have become used to. The other ways of leadership work within an established church systems where there are Christians already compliant and simply content to acquire some necessary Christian goods and services. I should adamently say that there will still be “programs” that develop within a church as a result of this “missional” kind of leadership. These programs however will always facilitate, indeed embody, the rhythms of life with God in His Kingdom/mission. Once we deviate from this, the other kind of leadership habits start to become default. The kind of leadership proposed here however creates certain kinds of habits, certain kinds of dispositions that open the way for God to work His Kingdom among us and around us. There is something of a renewal of this kind of leadership happening among missional communities. I believe it is a recovery of the way Jesus speaks about leadership (did he use that word?). Matt 20:17-28. Read it and take it in. It is the foundation for the revolution (i.e. the Kingdom of God coming).
Perhaps you have an addition or two to the kind of leader we need (this list could be a lot longer!). Please tell us!

From David Fitch's blog.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sermon in English & Chinese

Warning... Warning... Warning...

The English version of this sermon is probably not as good as the Chinese version, however, neither are as good as the "in person version". When you are hearing a sermon live there are added little comments that make it so much more enjoyable and relatable. However, if you open your Bible and read along here it says "verse 1-2" or "verse such&such" - then this still might be enjoyable and useful for you. :-)

2 Thessalonians 1-2

1. Spiritual Training, eternal judgement, and being worthy

verse 1-2

This is a standard greeting of Paul's when writing to churches.

verse 3-4

Paul says, You guys are being blessed by God. God disciplines those he loves and you are being disciplined through these hardships. Look how your love is growing deeper and deeper for God and one another, that is just one example. This is why others hear a lot about how you guys are suffering for christ.

We talk about people who are interesting, people who are experiencing something different. We want to be around people who are growing, but we often hide from pain… so we live a schizophrenic life. We avoid the pain that will cause us to grow. We admire challenges others have, once they have come through the hardship. Sadly, while we or others are in the problem, we are shamefully absent.

Paul is present with these people. That is Paul knows their struggles. He is glorifying God for their struggle and their growth!

verse 5-10

Evidence… God shows you to be worthy, because you are suffering. We often think that when someone doesn't suffer, then they are holy and loved by God. Let's specify this is suffering for doing good, for living a godly life, not for sin.

There are only two kinds of people those who obey God and those who don't. Oh wait, everyone except for Jesus is disobedient and needing a Savior. The two kinds of people that will be differentiated on judgement day are those who are clinging to Jesus and those who are not.

If you are really following Jesus, please do not get angry with sinners for being sinful. It is of no use. Besides they are acting as they should. Now, on the other hand, you sure can speak clearly to Christian brothers and sisters when they are being sinful. You are called by God to encourage your brothers and sisters to run from sin and live empowered by God's grace.

Wait for God to judge the wicked. Leave room for God's wrath. Pray for those who mistreat you. Bless them. Love on them. Return good for evil.

verse 11-12

Paul prays for the brothers and sisters to thrive in this time of testing. He prays that their suffering will not be in vain, but continue to produce fruit in them and in others. What is that? Suffering brings glory to Jesus. They are suffering for being light and salt, for sharing their faith. And Paul prays that Jesus will also glorify them.

When you honor Jesus, Jesus honors you. An example of that is when you are baptized. There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels (from Luke 15 - the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost sons). Who is rejoicing? Your Father God, your Savior Jesus, and God's Spirit are rejoicing in front of the angels. So, God gets excited about you when you are excited about God & his glory.

2. The man of lawlessness, standing firm

verse 1-4

People are sending out false reports. There are lots of rumors. Just like when Japan had the earthquake a while ago, everyone ran out to buy salt, thinking it would protect them. Or like during the Sichuan earthquake, when there were rumors of the government forecasting earthquakes. Or how about when the volcano erupted in Iceland and everyone was scared to go outside.

Rumors about Jesus' return have been happening since he left. Today there are always some crazy people telling you the end is going to happen on such and such a day. But no one knows the day or the hour, except Father God (Matthew 24:36).

Before Jesus returns, there will be a great faker that pretends to be God. He will somehow be more than a president, but like a leader of all the nations.

verse 5-12

Paul taught a lot about this… but why? Likely because the people were expecting Jesus to return right away. They were hoping Jesus would immediately destroy the Roman empire. But many of these people were too focused on the present. Paul was encouraging them to think of being a Christian as running a marathon, not just going for a walk. They wanted it easy right away, but God wants us to work through life as a method of purifying us. This is the on going work of sanctification.

This liar will also be able to do amazing things, miraculous even. But all of this will be just a simple magic show from Satan. However, Jesus will show up and just by his breathe he will destroy this charlatan.

Do you love the truth? Are you incredibly honest with yourself? Are you willing to not overlook sin, but deal directly with sin in your life or an others?

If not, then you are likely going to be sent some powerful lie. Your going to deny the truth of your sinfulness, state the case for your righteousness, and thereby unwittingly deny your need for Jesus. At which point, you will be enjoying sinfulness and condemned.

Remember Jesus said, if you deny me, I'll deny you. Not everyone who says to me "Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom of heaven. You must live an obedient life, a life in love with God, a life of devotion and repentance. Do not trust others to save you. Do not trust yourself to save you.

On your best day, when you worship God, when you read the Bible, when you are sharing your faith with others, that is all equal to a dirty menstrual rag. Your best day, most righteous day, is the day you trust in yourself for salvation is disgusting to God. You must trust in Jesus to save you. You must give glory and honor to Jesus. You need Jesus more than you need anything else. You need Jesus more than you need money, knowledge, self-discipline, power, fame, more than you need food, water, or air to breath. You desperately need Jesus to save you and show you your sin daily.

verse 13-15

Paul says the Thessalonians were living for Jesus. They were doing good. Paul was praising them for sharing in the sufferings of Jesus. The glory of Jesus is always through the cross. Suffering is where the greatest glory, the greatest victory ever happened. We need to join Jesus in suffering if we are to join him in glory.

Do not give up on the teachings of the Bible. Do not trade them for anything else. Do not change the bible's teaching, but be changed by it. Hear the word of God and obey it. Desire more of God's word, it is like honey, better than great riches. God's word provides the path to life. It opens your heart to Jesus. God's word is the mirror that shows your sin - which is TRUTH. And God's word is the mirror that also shows Jesus in you - which is GRACE. John said, grace and truth have come through Jesus.

verse 16-17

Paul prays that they will trust more deeply in Jesus and that Jesus will supply them with all that they need to be faithful. Faithfulness is when you do and say what you know to be true. How can you know what to do if you aren't hearing God's word?

We aren't talking about just making it through today, we are talking about making it into eternity. We are talking about being confident of your eternal salvation. You will not have confidence in Christ if you are not reading the Bible. If you aren't reading the Bible and have confidence, then your confidence is likely very shallow and wrong.

Know God's Word and be confident of your salvation. The Christian life is a life of repentance, with complete confidence in Christ.

帖撒罗尼迦后书1-2章
一、灵性的训练,永恒的审判,和无愧的心
1-2节
这是一个标准的保罗写给教会的问候。

3-4节
保罗说,你们被神祝福。神管教他所爱的,他正通过这些困难来管教你。瞧你的爱是愈加深厚,为上帝和彼此加深,这只是一个例子。这就是别人听到很多你们如何为基督受苦的原因。

我们会谈论感兴趣的人和那些拥有不用经历的人。我们愿意和成长的人在一起,但我们常常躲避痛苦...所以我们活在一个精神分裂的生活。我们躲避促使我们成长的痛苦。其他人面临挑战,克服困难让我们很羡慕。可悲的是,虽然我们或其他人有问题时,我们却可耻的离开。

保罗是与这些人同在的。保罗知道他们的争战。他为他们的挣扎和成长而赞美神!

5-10节
证据:上帝说你是值得的,因为你在经历苦难。我们通常认为,当一个人不痛苦的时候,那么他们是圣洁的,是神喜爱的。但我们说的苦难,是为了让我们过一个良好的生活,敬虔的生活,而不是为了犯罪。

只有两种人:顺服神和不顺服神。哦,等等,除了耶稣大家都不顺服,都需要救世主。在审判的日子,区别的标准是是否顺服耶稣基督。

如果你真的跟随耶稣,请不要为罪人的犯罪而愤怒。这是没有用的。因为他们的行为是他们应该做的。现在,在另一方面,当主内弟兄姐妹犯罪时,你一定能清楚的指出来。你被上帝呼召,鼓励你的弟兄姐妹从罪中脱离,活在神的恩典中。

等待上帝来审判恶人。给上帝的愤怒留下余地。为那些对你不好的人祷告。祝福他们,爱他们,以德报怨。

11-12节
保罗为弟兄姐妹祷告,希望他们能在试炼中成长。他祈祷,他们的痛苦不会徒劳的,而会结出累累硕果。那是什么?苦难将会荣耀耶稣。他们正在为做光做盐,分享他们的信仰而受苦。保罗祈祷,耶稣也将荣耀他们。

当你尊重耶稣,耶稣也会尊重你。一个例子就是你的洗礼。有欢乐的天使出现(路加福音15 - 失去的羊,丢失的银钱,失丧的儿子)。是谁高兴呢?你阿巴父神,你的救主耶稣和上帝的圣灵在天使面前欢乐。所以,当你为神和他的荣耀感动时,上帝也会激动。

二、无法无天的人,站立不稳

1-4节
人们常常发出虚假的信息,会有很多谣言。就像当日本在不久前的地震时,每个人都跑出去买盐,以为它会保护他们。或者像在四川地震时,有谣言说政府能预测地震。或者象在冰岛火山爆发时,每个人都害怕到外面去。

当耶稣离开时,关于耶稣再来的谣言就屡屡发生。今天,总有一些疯狂的人告诉你末日要在这样或那样的一天发生。但是,没有人知道确切的时间,除了天父(马太24:36)。

耶稣返回之前,会有一个巨大的骗子伪装成神。他可能比总统还厉害,就像全世界的领导人。

5-12节
保罗教导很多关于这样的信息...,但是为什么?可能是因为人们期待耶稣立即再来。他们希望耶稣立即摧毁当时的罗马帝国。但是,这些人很多是太专注于现在。保罗鼓励他们把基督徒看做跑马拉松的运动员,不是简单的走几步就到了。他们希望马上很容易,但神要我们一生都奔跑,因为这是他洁净我们的方式。这是神正在进行的神圣工作。

这个骗子也能做出令人惊奇的事情,甚至是神迹。但所有这一切将只是一个来自撒旦的、简单的魔术表演。然而,耶稣会最终出现,“谈笑间,樯橹灰飞烟灭”。

你爱真相吗?你真是对自己诚实的吗?你愿意不忽略生命中的罪,而直接处理吗?

如果没有,那么你很可能陷入一些巨大的谎言。你会否定你的犯罪的事实,认为自己很公义,从而无意中否认因耶稣是你们的需要。在这一点上,你将受到罪恶和谴责。

记住耶稣说的,如果你拒绝我,我会拒绝你。不是每个对我说“主啊,主啊”的人都将进入天国。你必须过一个顺服生活,与神相爱、悔改、为神奉献。不要相信别人能救你。不要相信你自己能救你。

为神提供最好的一天,去崇拜神,去阅读圣经,去与他人分享你的信仰,这一切和一块肮脏的破月经布相等。你所谓的最好的一天,最正义的日子,是你对自己信任的救恩,是对神的憎恶。你必须相信耶稣来拯救你。你必须给耶稣的荣耀和荣誉。你需要耶稣比其他任何事情都多。相比钱,知识,自我约束,权力,名誉,你更需要耶稣,他比食物,水或空气呼吸更重要。你迫切需要耶稣来拯救你,让他指出你每天的罪。

13-15节
保罗说帖撒罗尼迦人为耶稣而生活。他们做的很好。保罗赞扬他们为耶稣而受苦。耶稣的荣耀始终贯穿在十字架上。苦难是其中最大的荣耀,是最伟大的胜利。我们需要加入耶稣的苦难,如果我们要一起领受他的荣耀。
不要放弃圣经的教导,不要把它们不当回事儿。不要更改圣经的教导,但要被它改变。听神之道而遵守它。更加渴望上帝的话,他的话更像蜂蜜,是伟大的财富。神的话提供了通往永生的路。它会打开你的心交给耶稣。神的话是一面镜子,显示你的罪 - 这是真理。上帝的话展示了耶稣在你心中 - 这是恩典。约翰说,恩典和真理已经通过耶稣来了。

16-17节
保罗祈祷,他们会更深入地信任耶稣,耶稣将提供所有这些,他们需要忠诚。当你说你知道什么是真实的,那就是你相信的。如果你没有认真听神的话,你怎么能知道该怎么做?

我们不止在谈论今天,我们在谈论永恒。我们谈论的是成为您永恒的拯救信心。如果你没有阅读圣经,你就不会信任基督。如果你不读经而说自己有信心,那么你的信心是非常肤浅的,可能是错误的。

认识神的话语,并成为你的救恩信心。基督徒的生活是一生的悔改和对基督完全的信心。

Friday, August 27, 2010

Does Abstinence Education Matter?

HHS Releases Abstinence Study

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has now released the full results of a government study that gives insight into how parental attitudes and social norms are key to promoting abstinence before marriage, rather than sex-ed programs. The Department of HHS had been criticized for releasing only the seven-page executive summary of the study's final conclusions.

The 196-page report titled, "The National Survey of Adolescents and Their Parents: Attitudes and Opinions about Sex and Abstinence," comes as critical funding for abstinence programs is set to end Sept. 30 — after the U.S. Congress and the administration canceled all abstinence-centered program grants for the FY2010 budget. Up until now, cash-strapped states reportedly have been "on the fence" about applying for federal abstinence-only sex education program funds. States have until Aug. 30 to apply.

The abstinence study, which was completed in February of 2009, and was based on interviews with 1,000 matched adolescent-parent pairs, indicated that:

- Seventy percent of parents agreed with the statement: "It is against your values for your adolescents to have sexual intercourse before marriage."
- Seventy percent of parents agreed with the statement: "Having sexual intercourse is something only married people should do."
- "While the majority of adolescents surveyed oppose pre-marital sex in general and for themselves, on average adolescents expressed less conservative general views about sex and abstinence than their surveyed parents."

Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association, was elated by the release of the study, but said, "We are greatly concerned that the sex education policy being implemented by this administration does not reflect the values of what most parents and teens clearly want." For the complete report go to The National Survey of Adolescents and Their Parents. [LifeNews.com, CitizenLink.com]

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Christian Speed Dating Questions

Tonight was a get to know you time for the singles of a bunch of churches here in Beijing. They played games, wacky races, ate dinner, then played some more and last they had a sort of speed dating time.

The goal of this dinner party wasn't for them to find a girlfriend or boyfriend, but instead to get to know one another. We spoke clearly and directly about how Christians date and the purpose of dating. It isn't to have a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. It is more like finding a friend, someone to spend time with so that you can know if they will help you get to heaven.

Instead of trying to seek out a mate, first seek God, be satisfied with Him. Then when it is His proper timing, that person will appear at your side. As you run the Christian race, those who are beside you are the ones that would make a good match. They are running with you, not against you. They are seeking after the same goal - heaven. They are striving to be the same kind of person - like Jesus. They are frequently in the same locations - worshiping & serving the same God. This kind of person makes for a great friend and faithful mate.

Here are some of the questions we used for the speed dating time:

What is your favorite color? Why? How does it reflect your personality?

What is your favorite childhood memory?

What is something you would love for God to do in your life? (not money or marriage)

In your life, what are you most proud of?

How often do you watch the news or read the newspaper? What are you looking for? Why do you read/watch?

What is your most treasured possession and why?

What is your favorite month of the year and why?

Who was your hero, as a child?

What makes you laugh/cry?

Describe your perfect holiday.

Are you a morning person or a night person?

What was the last song you intentionally listened to? Why?

Would you like to climb a mountain or trek across a desert or swim in the ocean?

What is your favorite Bible verse and why?

How long have you been a Christian and who led you to Christ?

When choosing a movie to watch what are your criteria?

What is your favorite Bible story and why?

When was the last time you prayed (other than before a meal)? What or who were you were praying for?

What is your favorite vegetable?

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? (Don’t answer in the mirror!)

What is your least favorite food? Why?

What is more important to you, money or memories?

Who is more valuable to you; birth family, Christian family, or friends? Why?

What is your favorite Christian song? Why?

What is your favorite tourist site in Beijing? Why?

你最喜欢什么颜色?为什么?它是如何反映你的个性?

你最喜欢的童年记忆是什么?

你最喜欢上帝为你做什么?(不是金钱或婚姻)

在你的生活中,什么是你最得意的?

你多久看一次新闻或读报纸?你一般看什么内容?为什么?

你最珍爱的东西是什么,为什么?

你最喜爱的月份是哪个,为什么?

当你是孩子的时候,谁是你的英雄?

什么事情让你笑/哭?

描述一下你的完美假期。

你是习惯晚睡还是早起?

你有意去听的最后一首歌是什么?为什么?

你想爬山、横跨沙漠,或在大海游泳吗?
你最喜欢的经文是哪一句,为什么?

你做基督徒多久了,谁带领你成为基督徒?

在选择看电影时,你有什么标准?

你最喜欢的圣经故事是什么,为什么?

你最后一次祷告是什么时候(除了餐前祷告)?你是为什么事情或什么人祷告?

你最喜欢吃什么蔬菜?

你的5年期、10年期规划是什么?

你最不喜欢的食物是什么?为什么?

你认为金钱和记忆哪一个更重要?

出生家庭、教会家庭、朋友,你更看重哪一个?为什么?

你最喜欢的基督教歌曲是什么?为什么?

在北京你最喜欢的旅游地点是哪里?为什么?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

10 Hard Questions June 3, 2010

by Perry Noble

Too many times we believe that being busy is equal to being godly…when the Bible says quite the opposite.

Psalm 46:10 SLAYS me every time I read it…CONVICTED!

David said in Psalm 23 that the Lord makes him lie down in green pastures and leads him beside still waters.

The LONGEST, most detailed command in the 10 commandments is the one on rest.

Yet, all of us…especially those in the ministry…wrestle with this. One of our MAIN temptations is being busy…here are a few questions we can wrestle through to see how busy those of us in ministry are…

#1 – How many times a day do you check your email? Is there really any reason to check it as often as we do?

#2 – How many times a day do you check twitter?

#3 – How many times a day do you check your facebook page?

#4 – When you go home to do spend time with your family…or merely “tweet” about how you are spending time with your family?

#5 – Do you tell your kids you are too busy to go to their game…but then go to the game of the church members kid so you don’t get into hot water with them? (BTW…good luck explaining that one to your kids in 20 years!)

#6 – Do you have a time during the day when you turn off your cell phone so that you can uninterrupted study time, prayer time and time with your spouse?

#7 – Do you always have to have noise around you…such as do you always have to have the radio on in the car OR the TV on at home, even if you are not listening to/watching it?

#8 – How much time do you spend commenting on blogs and social media sites? (honestly, don’t know too many certified blog commenters that are actually changing the world!)

#9 – Are you accessible at any time of the day by anyone who needs you? (LOTS of pastors LOVE to make this claim…usually at the expense of their family and their own walk with God. If you want to walk with Jesus you can’t do it by always having a crowd around…you’ve got to have some time set aside.)

#10 – Are you willing to make the adjustments that you need to make based on the nine questions above? If not then you are most likely addicted to noise and being busy…which looks good to others but absolutely destroys our walk with God.

PSALM 46:10!

ONE MORE THING…this is absolutely the most convicting blog post I’ve ever written…He’s PRESSING into me to make some major adjustments in regards to the noise in my life, would appreciate your prayers as I try my best to fully obey Him.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Why is Atheism increasingly popular and what can we do about it?

By Holly Ordway

At the heart of atheism is an appealing premise: “My will be done, not Yours.” If atheism is true, and there is no God, then everything really is all about me, and what I want, and what I can get.

No wonder it strikes such a chord in our self-obsessed culture.

Put your finger on the pulse of modern culture: it throbs with “me, me, me.” Advertisements tell me: “Indulge yourself! You deserve it!” I can buy my lunch and my coffee made “my way.” I flip open a magazine, or browse the best-sellers, to find ten easy tips on how I can have what I want, right here, right now.

Put one way, this is selfishness. But the spin on it in our post-Christian culture is that it’s empowerment, self-actualization. We are told to follow our hearts, seek our deepest desires, do what feels good. Indeed, if atheism is true, there is no ultimate purpose to life, so we might as well go for self-indulgence, whether through hedonism or through constructing one’s own “meaning” in life.

In contrast, if the Triune God is real, then such a focus on the self is ultimately destructive. Christians believe that we are alienated from God by the Fall, and damaged by our own sins; if we are left to our own devices, we will go wrong. To follow our own whims is to wander without guidance farther away from the path that leads to true self-knowledge in relationship with God who knows us completely.

If God is who Christians say He is, then our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, not toys for abuse or pleasure. If God is who He has revealed Himself to be in Christ Jesus, then the path to true selfhood is the narrow way, the way of the Cross, the way of denial of self and love of God.

In other words, the God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is a significant obstacle to self-indulgence.

No wonder atheism is so popular.

Yet atheism is a curious hybrid. On the one hand, it provides for a rejection of civilization entirely. If there is no God, then there is no ultimate source of objective values, and we can make or break rules as we please; good and evil are reduced to preferences. I like chocolate ice cream and laws against murder. You like vanilla and enjoy killing small children. Sure, why not?

On the other hand, atheists don’t generally advocate anarchism and a return of barbarism. (Who would run the publishing houses to print their books?) In fact, atheists show a remarkable streak of optimism about human nature. The atheist feels, almost as an article of faith, that the human race is perfectible. Despite all the colossal failures of utopianism, especially the ones of the 20th century that ended in mass slaughter, there remains the idea that this time, we can get it right all by ourselves. We can perfect ourselves through legislation; through restructuring society; through genetic manipulation; through drugs. We can make ourselves be happy – or so we think; it never works, but the atheist can only try again.

Atheism claims that we are in control of our selves, and thus our own destiny; it is the perfect faith for a culture that is obsessed with both perfection and self-will.

If we allow our Christian faith to be described in terms of personal gratification, we are buying what the world is selling, just under a different brand name. Christ did not die for us so that we would be comfortable and happy today. He died for us so that we would be saved.

To die to self, to die to sin, is not a comfortable experience. Confronting one’s own sin and repenting of it yields sorrow, not happiness. Hope and peace lie on the other side of that repentance, but we must go through pain to get there – not around it.

If we allow Christianity to be all about fulfilling my needs, getting my prayers answered, feeling good about myself and my family, and improving my relationships, then we are making the same pitch as the atheists: it’s all about me.

And trust me, atheism is a lot less demanding than Christian faith. I’ve been there; I know.

But in our frantic consumer culture, as we become less real and less present to each other, and even to ourselves, as we desperately project ourselves outward into the media to remind ourselves that we exist -- we may slowly realize that atheism may promise easy self-fulfillment, but it delivers nothing but despair.

Christian faith is harder. It costs more; in fact, it costs everything. It also happens to be true. Jesus told his disciples to count the cost. Why are we afraid to recognize that there is a cost?

In the face of atheism, let us not be afraid to speak the truth: the Christian life is the way of the Cross. Let us reject the idolatry of personal fulfillment. Let us remember that Christ calls us to come and die.

Then those who have sought to find themselves, searching high and low, grasping after all the good things of the world only to find them slipping from between their fingers, may be ready to listen when they hear something new: the hard, true words of our Lord: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)