Monday, February 27, 2012

Which comes first?

The chicken or the egg?

I know the answer to that one.  But how about this one:

Which comes first?  Being a disciple or making disciples?

Which one are we supposed to do first?  Where do we put our priorities?  Do we focus first on being a fully devoted follower of Jesus, or do we prioritize making others fully devoted followers of Jesus?

What do you think?

My answer:
I think they go hand in hand.  You can't make disciples of Jesus unless you are one.  But if you are a disciple of Jesus, you're going to be making disciples (or at least you should be according to the Bible.)

Trouble comes when we emphasize one over the other.  If our only focus is being a disciple, we become in-grown and self-absorbed quickly.  If our only focus is making disciples, we leave others no example to follow when it comes to our personal relationship with God. (Or worse, we make disciples who aren't actually following the Lord, just us.)

Thanks to Tim Reist for spurring some of these thoughts.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Sabbath - What is it?

I've been putting off writing about the Sabbath for awhile, and I originally intended this to be just one post.  But as I got started, the thoughts kept coming.  I'll be breaking it into a few separate posts, so I would appreciate your feedback after this first one, as I'd love to tailor my thoughts to what you're thinking.

The Sabbath - What is it?
"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." (Exodus 20:8-11 ESV)
There you have it.  The Sabbath clearly explained.  Take a day off.  Don't work for one day each week.  This was one of the Ten Commandments given to the nation of Israel.

Think about taking a day off in their cultural context.  Food and water weren't the easiest to come by: You had to work for them each day.  (They received this commandment in the desert after all!)  But God was telling them to follow his example and rest for one day each week.  Whether they thought they needed the rest or not was irrelevant.  Also irrelevant was their perceived need to work to provide their necessities (even real necessities, not just desires).

So a Sabbath is a day off.  Resting.  Not doing any work.  It's so simple, yet I see hardly anyone actually doing it.  Be honest with me:  When's the last time you literally and completely did ZERO work for a whole day?  (This includes work work, at-home work, church-organization work, etc.)

Your answer should be less than 7 days ago... shouldn't it?

Now I know Jesus didn't repeat this commandment, and in multiple instances he "broke" the Jewish rules of the Sabbath by healing, allowing his disciples to eat, etc.  But while he didn't repeat this commandment, he also didn't reverse it by telling us to work seven days a week.

And he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." (Mark 2:27 ESV)

Possible Future Sabbath Posts...*
More Scriptures on the Sabbath

What does a Sabbath mean for today?

Why take a Sabbath?

What does a Sabbath look like practically?

*I reserve the right to edit and alter all of these potential posts.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Giving Something Up

I have this crazy idea to give something up for the season of Lent.  (Okay, it's not that crazy because it's really about the only thing people do to commemorate the season of Lent.)

Lent starts this Wednesday and runs all the way to Easter.  You can read more about it here.

The trouble is, I'm not exactly sure what to give up.  Here are a few options:
  • Coffee.  Pros: I'd be less addicted to a substance (really!) and less dependent on caffeine.  I'd save some money.  Cons: I think I would be pretty moody the first few days, and have a killer headache!
  • Google Reader.  Pros: I'd have more time.  With God, my family, and at work.  I seriously spend way too much time and energy following different blogs on the internet.  Cons: I might be a little disconnected to some friends that I stay in touch with through blogs.
Any thoughts on these?  Are you planning on giving something up for lent?  If so, what?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

BOOR February 2011: 10 Commandments for Reluctant Evangelists

I first started this "Best Of Online Reading" track on my blog because I thought it would be a good way to bring a variety of outside resources to you the reader (with the additional purpose of bringing those resources back to my own mind).

It seems however, that I'm pretty much either posting something from Seth Godin or Steve Addison, with little other variety.  This is sort-of an apology for doing so, especially if neither of those guys interest you, but at this point I'll continue as is, if for no other reas on than I enjoy having these thoughts brought back to my attention.

February 2011's best comes from Steve Addison:  "10 Commandments for Reluctant Evangelists"

Click the link to read the whole thing, but here are the 'commandments' I need to regularly be reminded of:

#1. Shut the lid on your computer.*
#3. Set aside a regular time/s each week to share the gospel. Don’t come home until you do.
#7. Be accountable to someone to stay on track.

Read through the 'commandments' yourself.  Which ones do you need to remember?

*I found out from Steve that this is Australian for "turning off your computer."  They just say everything better in Australia.

Monday, February 13, 2012

If I Should Have a Daughter...

With all due respect to Sarah Kay...*

If I should have a daughter...
  • I'd tell her not to settle for any guy.
  • I'd live in such a way that it's going to take one awesome guy for her to be more impressed with him than me.
  • I'd tell her to watch her Mother, and pursue excellence in all things, just like her.
  • I'd tell her that any guy who isn't brave enough to pursue her is certainly not worth her time.
  • I'd let her know that any guy who dates her for years but doesn't ever propose isn't worth dating in the first place.

But since I have sons...
  • I'm going to tell them to not just be "any guy."
  • I'm going to live in such a way that they have an example to follow, so they can be that awesome guy.
  • I'll still tell them to watch their Mother, because any girl worth pursuing is going to be a lot like her.
  • I'll tell them to be brave enough to pursue a girl, because if she's like their Mother she's worth their time and effort.
  • I'll tell them that if they have no interest in marrying someone then they have no business dating them.

And if you're someone's daughter...
  • Don't settle.  Seriously.

*Note if you watch the video this link takes you too.  She says the "d---" word once.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A new technological break-through

About 9 months ago I discovered a fantastic new technology that's revolutionized the way I keep myself organized.  I want to tell you about it.

For the last several years I've been on the hunt for a software or web application that could help me organize my ever growing and evolving task list.  At various points I had used or tried all of these options: Remember the Milk, Google Tasks, Toodle-Do, a spreadsheet, HiTask, ... and more.

But then about June last year I tried something new.  Something better than all of the options listed above.

Paper and pen.

Seriously.  I've been using a notebook with paper and a pen with ink to track my tasks for over 9 months now.  And I have been both surprised and pleased with the results.  While the technological versions have a little more pizzazz, you just can't beat the adaptability of paper.

But an even bigger plus is this: If my task list is on a computer, I'm automatically drawn to check in on my email, calendar, favorite blogs, etc.  My task list on paper just sits there, staring me down, reminding me I have something to work on.

Don't believe me?  Give it a try!

Monday, February 6, 2012

How I Read It: Revolution in World Missions

A few thoughts and points from Revolution in World Missions by KP Yohannan.

Quotable I: "I found that believers are ready to get involved in almost any activity that looks spiritual but allows them to escape their responsibility to the Gospel." (p 47)  Ouch.  Read that again, it convicts me for sure.

What I Liked: There was a clear call to prioritize the gospel over everything else.  While KP Yohannan was writing to call people to support the work of missionaries spreading the gospel overseas, I was definitely left challenged in my life on this side of the sea.  I often put someone's physical needs before their spiritual need.  I can care for someone without even asking about their spiritual condition.  KP makes the point that this isn't caring at all.  If we don't pursue and engage people's spiritual needs over the physical, then what are we wasting our time for?  (See the next quote.)

Quotable II: "A convenient theology of mission developed that today sometimes equates social and political action with evangelism." (p 80)

What I Didn't Like:  This is mostly minor, but the cover of the book and it's promotional wording led me to believe that it was going to focus more on how I could be better at evangelism.  In actuality, the book is a call to support national missionaries and change your life to help the Gospel spread overseas.  That's a great calling as well, but I wish that the cover had properly conveyed the subject of the book.  (I should have known... 'Don't judge a book by it's cover!')

What I Didn't Like II: I felt that this needed to be mentioned:  Early in the book there's a story of a native missionary who, due to a lack of money and a desire to appear without faults to the local people, was letting his family go hungry, children included.  I really don't think it's Biblical to let your family starve because of ministry. First Timothy 5:8 is pretty clear on that: But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (ESV)

2012 Personal Impact Ranking:
1. Revolution in World Missions by KP Yohannan*

*I own this book and you're welcome to borrow it.  Just ask.

Side Note: Mitch Vandiver won my Superbowl pick contest by correctly predicting the New York Giants would win the Superbowl.  So He can choose any book off of my 2012 Reading List and I'll send it to him! Nice job Mitch!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Why have a blog?

In honor of Ground Hog's Day I'm re-posting and updating these thoughts on why I have a blog.

  1. I want to use this blog to inspire, encourage, challenge, and equip others to follow Jesus and be more like him in every area of their life. *
  2. I want to add clarity to my life and thinking on important issues.  For me, nothing provides more clarity than writing about it.

My intended audience:
This blog is for you if you want to be more like Jesus tomorrow than you were today. 
If you don't fit this description, you're still welcome to keep reading.  But I thought you should know what you're getting into.

*Hopefully I am doing this without a blog too!  Specifically I hope to lead people that I could not otherwise connect with due to time and geographic constraints.