Monthly Archives: February 2014

A Question regarding the “Son of God” Movie

Son of God

Is the Son of God movie ushering in a new way of evangelism? Is the movie starting a new way for people to be introduced to the Bible? This is something I have been wrestling with for a while now. I have had a couple conversations with friends concerning what I am posting today and am not sure quite how I feel about it. Tim Challies had a great post regarding the movie here. As I was reading a little about the movie, I came across this statement from Mark Burnett:

Downey’s husband, “The Voice” and “Survivor” producer Mark Burnett, said the Christian filmmaking team reached out specifically to other faiths to tell the story of the life of Jesus — played with an air of bemused dignity by Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado — without causing offense.”

“It just took a lot of work and a lot of time and a lot of listening over a number of years to see everybody’s point of view and how to not take the teeth out of the story — the dynamic drama from the story — but be sensitive across groups,” Burnett said. “Because there’s very different interpretations across the Catholic faith and the Protestant faith and the Jewish faith.”

You can read the full article here.

What do you think about this? Should Christians be worried about this? Should we support endeavors like this? Or should we be weary of it? Is it possible to portray the true Biblical account of Jesus without causing offense? When is it ok to add or take away from the Bible for the sake of entertainment or drawing people to hear or see the story of Jesus?

If you want to share your thoughts, I ask you to do so here on the blog, not on my Facebook post. Also, please be respectful to other commenters and only respond to my questions, not the responses of others. Thank you. I look forward to seeing what you all have to say.


Prone to wander…

desert

 

 

Experiencing a wilderness right now? One of my favorite hymns is Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. As I looked into the story behind it, I discovered there were more verses than what most hymnals include. Instead of there being only 3 verses as I was accustomed to, there are actually 5 verses. Take a minute and read through them. If you want to check out the story, you can read it here.

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day

 If you find yourself struggling with some of the language, take some time to look up what some of the words mean.

The verse I want to focus on and write about briefly is the 4th. This verse presents a story of our lives in a powerful way as well as presents a heartfelt prayer I am sure most Christians at one point or another find themselves expressing. We are prone to wander; we are prone to leave the God we profess to love. This is part of our nature. It started with Adam and Eve and has been handed down through generations. We like to look at the Israelites and wonder how they could be so hard headed when God was visibly present. However, no sooner were they in the wilderness delivered from the slavery of Egypt, when they began to complain. They had just witnessed God send numerous plagues on the Egyptians, God helped the Israelites plunder the Egyptians before they left the country, and then they crossed the Red Sea on dry land. This is not a task anyone could pull off; it was only accomplished by God’s power. The Israelites saw this first person. However, within a couple days of being in the wilderness and having to fully trust God to provide while experiencing some discomfort, they begin to complain. You can read about this in Exodus 14-16.

This story helps me see how quickly we allow our circumstances to become bigger than God. I am just like the Israelites. Many times I will know God is leading me but after taking some steps following Him, life gets a little more difficult, and I begin to complain or even question whether I heard God’s voice correctly. As I sit here contemplating this, I wonder how often God leads people where it becomes immediately easier? How many times does God ask us to follow Him where everything makes sense right away? Personally, I do not recall many stories where God lead people to where life became easier. Hebrews 11:6 says “without faith it is impossible to please God. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” When God calls us, He calls us to step out in faith and trust Him. There are times when God calls us, He will lead us into a wilderness to strip us of trust or dependence on or in anything other than Himself. That is what He did with the Israelites. He called them to follow Him and trust Him and then lead them right into the wilderness.

I write this because there have been numerous times in my life I know God is leading me to take certain steps, but then when life begins to get a little more difficult and maybe God does not do something or provide in a way I would like, I begin to doubt God’s goodness. I begin to let my mind wander and question whether God really does want what is best for me. Does He care about me? Unfortunately, there is this idea that when you respond in faith to God, everything will immediately begin to make sense. However, throughout the Bible, when people responded to God’s call, He asked them to do things that did not make sense.

The wilderness would have been one of the biggest blessings to the Israelites had they allowed it to draw them closer to God instead of drive them to complaining. So it is with my life. The wilderness God leads us to and through can become the biggest blessing in my life because it can strip me of any sort of dependence on anything other than God and can lead me to trust in God like never before. If God is leading you through a wilderness right now, trust Him, because the place where He wants you and is leading you is on the other side and He will lead you to it. Keep your eyes fixed on Him. It is difficult at times, but that is how God strengthens our faith.

Now, go back and read the last verse of the hymn and let that encourage you.


Weekly Scoop

scoop

 

After a couple weeks hiatus, the Weekly Scoop is back, so without further ado, here are the links you should take the time to check out.

The movie Frozen has been a huge hit. Here is a great review of the movie: The Cold that Bothers Us.

A couple weeks ago, Donald Miller stirred up the waters in a post about why he does not regularly attend church. Ed Stetzer responded in a great way: Should I stay or should I go.

As a father to a daughter, I can definitely relate with this father’s open letter to his dauther: From the make up aisle.

Trent Hunter blogs his response to a question his son asks him: I hope my son’s life is in danger.

If you are young and see yourself as a leader, check out this post from Catalyst Conferences: 5 Ways to excel as a young leader.

A great post by Tim Challies regarding how Christians should respond to the new “Son of God” movie coming out: Writing checks to Mel Gibson.

Kevin DeYoung brings a great post about who in the church should be able to baptize: Who can baptize?

Well, thanks for checking in and I hope you take the time to check out these links. If you feel there is an article I should post to, please comment below and I will look into it for next week.


Weekly Scoop

scoop

 

It’s Friday which means it’s time for the Weekly Scoop. Here are a few links I came across throughout the week that I believe would be worth your time. You will find links that challenge you to think, encourage you, open your eyes to something new and even cause you to laugh. Here they are:

First, Donald Miller, on his Storyline Blog this past week posted a couple articles explaining why he does not regularly attend church. I share a link to them here because we as Christians need to be prepared to have conversations like these: I connect with God elsewhere and Why I don’t go to church often.

As you can imagine, the previous two posts caused quite a stir, but one of the best responses was written by Mike Cosper: Donald Miller and the Culture of Contemporary Worship.

Here is a post for married couples: Mark Driscoll posted a great blog over at Resurgence on 1 Thing We would have changed in our marriage.

Here is an interesting post on the topic of men and child support related to women and abortion: Child Support.

This past week, Bill Nye and Ken Ham held a debate in Kentucky that was live streamed on CNN. I did not watch it but I followed along with it somewhat on Twitter. I read this blog the next day: The Ham-Nye creation debate: a huge missed opportunity.

Michael Hyatt posts a podcast on how to become a better conversationalist. I love the stuff Michael puts out and if you do not follow him, I highly recommend you do: Becoming a better conversationalist.

One for pastors, here is another great post by Justin Lathrop: 5 ways to avoid stress as a pastor.

Lastly, if you have never seen a Hoops and Yoyo card, you are missing out. Here is one for this Friday: It’s I Don’t Care Friday.

 

Thanks for checking out the weekly scoop. If you like what you see feel free to subscribe by clicking the bottom right link that says +Follow. You can also follow me on Twitter using the link on your right. Lastly, share this with your Twitter followers as well. If there is a post or article you think I should include on my next weekly scoop, mention it in the comments below.


A Refreshing Perspective on Dating and Love

true-love-dates

I grew up in the generation that “kissed dating goodbye.” Joshua Harris’ book was passed around Christian schools like drugs in public schools. Well-meaning parents handed it to hormone driven teenagers thinking it might be the key to somehow turn off those hormones until the time was right. Around the same time, if not before, came the Valentines campaign of True Love Waits. In and of themselves, these two avenues were not bad. The messages were great and made very good points. And for some people, the book and the campaign probably changed their lives for the better. However, in many ways, it seems that message often falls on deaf ears with this generation.

And that is where True Love Dates comes in. Debra Fileta helps the next generation see that dating, when done right, does not need to be kissed goodbye; it can be embraced and done in a God-honoring way. What is that way? I am not going to give it away in this review, you need to go pick up the book for yourself to find that out. But I will spend a little bit of time highlighting some of the parts that really struck me. I knew Mrs. Fileta while at college and we never had a lot of heart to heart conversations but I really enjoyed the conversations we were able to have throughout our college careers. She was as sincere a person you could find and you could tell when you talked to her, she was there, not planning her afternoon or evening activities. This remains evident throughout her book. She is not writing from simply her own experience, but also the experiences of people she has counseled as a professional counselor. While reading this book, I found myself wishing I was reading this while in college because it would have really helped me through my college years. Though I would never have said it out loud while in college, I would agree with it now, I spent a lot of time at college trying to find my future wife. While I went about it in a way most people would not see as harmful or problematic, for me, it was harmful.

In the book, Debra introduces the best way anyone should approach dating, and this is with a three step process: 1- Inward Dating, 2- Outward Dating, and 3- Upward Dating. This is what I needed while I was in high school and college. What many people skip is what Debra introduces as the first step to dating well: dating inward, which means to basically get to know who you are. Many young people, and older people for that matter, spend so much time focusing on the type of person they want to be with and ultimately marry without spending time molding themselves into the people they need to be. If we skip this step, we are destined for heartbreak. This is a step I missed and it caused me many heartbreaks. Without truly knowing who I was, I would jump in to a friendship with a girl and rush a little too much. When the girl would throw up her hands to signal this, I would try to reason I was simply trying to get to know them when deep down, it was pretty obvious I was looking for more. So I would step back and realize it was going nowhere, give them their space, and eventually find another girl to pursue. All the while, I would be reasoning in my mind that what I was doing was okay but it was distracting me and through this time, I should have been focusing on truly figuring out who I was. Mrs. Fileta presents three questions for this first part each person should strive to ask themselves to help figure out who they are:

  1. Where do I come from? The colors of our past.
  2. Who am I now? A picture paints a thousand words.
  3. Where am I going? A vision for my future.

These three questions will help anyone work through figuring out who they are and this is one of the most important things to do because then as you approach dating, you will be confident with who you are which will help you as you move on to the next step.

The next part is dating outward. Figuring out who you are will help you discover what kind of person you want to date. This is also important. If I had gone through this process, it would have helped me see many of the girls who were distracting me were not for me because their goals and visions for their life did not align with who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. I should have taken time to truly figure out what I wanted in a relationship and the author presents one way to go about it. If you want to know what way this is, pick up the book. In this part, Debra introduces a great way to go about dating someone from truly experiencing the seasons of relationships to the importance of protecting your heart and having physical boundaries.

The last part of this book is one I see as being the most important part: dating upward. The problem is many Christians believe when it comes to dating, God is not that concerned. It seems we believe as long as we strive to not mess up too much and not get pregnant before getting married, then God is ok with whatever we do. However, that is simply not true. God is concerned with every part of our lives right down to who we date. One quote from this part of the book really stood out to me:

Something has gone terribly wrong when young Christians believe that their main purpose in life is to find marital love…when we see marriage as our sole purpose, we find ourselves with nowhere to go when we finally arrive.

And then, one quote that truly puts this part of the book out there to grasp is this one:

There is something magical about a relationship that is birthed out of the overflow of the heart. In this kind of relationship, two people are giving to each other out of their fullness, rather than taking from each other out of their emptiness.

Too many people these days are dating out of emptiness. They are trying to fill their life with what they think will make them whole. This is what it seems so many young people are doing today, dating because they believe it will make them whole. However, only one relationship can make us whole and that is our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. All other relationships are secondary. When we date out of the fullness of our relationship with Christ, it changes things, it fills us and helps us move forward even after marriage. If we believe a relationship is going to fulfill us and make us whole, we are mistaken and will have a rude awakening in the future.

Lastly, throughout the book, Debra presents some frequently asked questions which she then takes time to answer at the conclusion of the book. Questions like does God want me to be single forever? Or how do I deal with the pain of a breakup? She goes into great detail to answer many questions people have when it comes to dating.

With all of that said, if you are not ready to kiss dating goodbye, then give this book a chance. I highly recommend it and believe it will help any male or female learn how to date well and in a way that keeps you from heartbreak and mistakes you will one day look back on and regret. I loved this book and will definitely be using it in my ministry.  True Love Dates is a great book for anyone who is still single but wants to honor God with their dating. I praise God for the vision and voice He has given Debra Fileta. I am also honored to call her a friend and see how she is serving God today.


How to Be Rich – My Review

Howtoberich

Imagine you are struggling with how to manage your money? Imagine having the thoughts running through your head that you wish you had more money; that if you just had a little more money, you would be able to make ends meet. If you just had a little more money, all your problems would go away. If you are anything like me, at one time or another, similar thoughts have crossed your mind. In How to Be Rich, Andy Stanley addresses the problem behind this thought process. The problem is not that most of us do not have enough money or stuff, but it is what we do with what we have.

This book started as a series of messages Andy preached at his church in Atlanta in 2007 titled “How to be Rich.” In Andy’s own words, 2 things prompted this series:

First, our culture’s incessant messages about how to get rich when, in fact, most of us got rich a long time ago and nobody told us. Second, Paul’s instructions to Timothy regarding how rich Christians are to behave. After studying the passage, I was left with the realization that a lot of rich Christians are not very good at being rich. Then it dawned on me: Well of course they’re not. Nobody has taught them how! (p. 15)

Andy’s goal for How to Be Rich is to give Christians, and the church, a resource to “force conversation and reflection around the topic of what to do with what you have. (p. 17)” And after reading this book, I can vouch that Mr. Stanley accomplished his purpose. As the subtitle of the book states, if we really look at our lives and our possessions, what it comes down to is “It’s not what you have; it’s what you do with what you have.” This is the truth I needed to hear as I read this book; especially as I sat down to do our taxes for this year. I have heard a quote before and after seeing it in this book I am starting to realize that my stuff really does have a hold on me. The quote is that God is not consumed with what stuff we have, as long as our stuff does not have us. This is the deep issue with the thought of being rich. If you were to ask people you think are rich if they are rich, most of them would probably reply no. They believe they are not rich because the people they think are rich make more than them so therefore they are not rich. This goes back to the quote I shared above that states we have not been shown how to be good at being rich. According to the book and Sports Illustrated, around “78 percent of NFL players find themselves bankrupt or financially stressed within two years of retirement. And 60 percent of NBA players are broke within 5 years of walking off the court. (p. 34)” This is because they are not taught how to manage their money. They are not taught how to be good at being rich. It comes down to managing well.

In the book, Andy presents a process to help win the most important battle to be won, the battle of the mind if we are to be good managers of what we have. If we do not change our thought process regarding the idea of “rich” then nothing else will change. Our minds have to grasp the idea that we are truly rich, especially when you compare what even the poorest among us might have to those around the world. The main part of the book helps the reader understand there is a change that needs to take place within ourselves for us to get better with what God has blessed us with. The book shares a story from Andy’s personal life regarding how they hosted a small group which did a financial study. They had homework and one week they were to discuss as couples what they would say was the season in their marriage they were most content. Everyone in the group concluded they experienced the most contentment early in their marriage when they had less than they do now. Many people would probably agree our lives are many times better when we do not have as much stuff. But, at the same time, our lives would remain to be that simple if we would just make sure the stuff we have, never has us. One question I believe anyone who reads this book will be left with is this: “What would it look like for you to honor God with ALL of your stuff? (p. 116)” That is the question we as Christians should be asking.

Simply put, this book is one that has given me a better perspective with how to manage my stuff. How to Be Rich is a book I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to get a better handle on managing their stuff as well. This book would also be a great study for churches to work through together because it does not simply teach points to follow to get rich; it teaches towards a lifestyle that honors God. So go out and get this book, you will be glad you did.

In compliance with regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, I received a complimentary copy of by Zondervan in exchange for this review.

If you are interested in the book, here is a link to purchase it on Amazon through my part in their affiliate program. I would receive a small share from the sale from Amazon.

How to Be Rich: It’s Not What You Have. It’s What You Do With What You Have.