Thursday, May 31, 2007

McLaren: Review Highlights

I'm somewhat motivated to read a book on my shelf, Truth and the New Kind of Christian by R. Scott Smith, but I don't want to start another book before sabbatical - and I don't want to spend my sabbatical reading on emergent stuff. Still, McLaren's stuff has me thinking enough that I need to look at some rebuttal/critique of it. I didn't pore over the internet looking for critiques of McLaren's A New Kind of Christian. I went with the first page on Google. I found one by a name I know of (Mark Dever) and another one that looked like a legit website - whatever that means (Keith Miller). Anyhow, here are some thoughts - whether helpful, or unfair, in my opinion - that can be helpful.

Before I get to the articles, in studying for this week's Young Adult study, I was struck by the stern rebuke of the risen Christ. Some of McLaren's universalism sounds nice. I wish it was true, but the stern warnings of Revelation, imminent judgment also promised, seem a far cry from McLaren's happy thoughts on divine judgment and the particularism of Scripture. Just a thought, now to at least one guy who really knows what he's talking about, and certainly two guys who know more than I do...

I encourage you to hit the links below for nuance, but what I most appreciated from Dever was the need for the church, despite its warts, to form people. There is much to be critical about in the church, but it is God's vehicle of transformation much more than other forms of experiencing Him (swimming with dolphins, etc...), as great as they may be. He also nails McLaren for false dichotomies. For example, salvation isn't about heaven, McLaren says through his characters, but about being good, transformed. I think this is a huge issue that McLaren touches on, but Dever reminds me to not fall into the false dichotomy - it isn't an either/or thing. It is both/and. Why didn't I think of that? Most importantly for me, Dever does a good job of reminding us of the centrality of Scripture. God can speak in a ton of different ways. I don't dispute that, but never as clearly as in His Word - that is described as a foundation, not a spiderweb (Eph. 2.20).

The second article by Miller didn't have a bunch of new stuff, but there was one great point. Perhaps the most interesting perspective McLaren laid out was the transition of eras and pointing to how Luther and the Reformers were moving the church into the new age. I thought it a good point, but I was corrected (rightly) by Dever that Luther was not trying to forge into new territory, but to point people back to the forgotten truth of Scripture - justification by faith.

These were profitable reads all around - good food for thought and good reminders of the basics for those of us who tend to get caught up in a good story.

The Link to Dever's article: http://www.9marks.org/CC/article/0,,PTID314526%7CCHID598026%7CCIID1946990,00.html

Miller's article: http://www.evangelsociety.org/miller/anewkindofchristian-review.html

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

McLaren: "A New Kind of Headache"

I just finished A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren - I know I'm not very "cutting edge" with my reading list. But McLaren, I think, still seems to be on the leading edge of the emergent/emerging movement.

This book gave me a headache, not for what is in it, but because I genuinely enjoyed it stylistically as well as really liking a lot of what he had to say. As I leave most emergent writings (Driscoll excluded), their general use of Scripture makes me nervous. It seems to take liberties I wouldn't, but at the same time I'm sure inconsistencies could be found in my approach. I intend my approach to be historical/grammatical, but I know I come with my own cultural baggage, systems, etc...

That's I think what I appreciate about this book. It raises questions about our cultural (modern) perspectives and systems. And, in a non-postmodern way (in my limited understanding of it), it builds a postmodern system of sorts. I'm not sure I'm being fair here, but there were times where I was thinking, "Isn't this just a 'different' system replacing the 'modern' one?" I know that's part of the idea, to craft what works (missionally) for each culture like a missionary, but ought we not seek to find out what holds it altogether as we move through history? (Writing, whether it is clear to the reader or not, really helps me think more clearly.) I understand we won't "nail" it, that we have our baggage, but should we not strive to figure out what is timeless and then contextualize it. If we contextualize first, aren't we begging for syncretism? Now I think good missions/contextualization should be on the edge of syncretism because it would be the most indigineous expression while maintaining the key elements of the gospel.

My intention isn't to get into the details of the book, though that would be most responsible. But my headache also occurs because I liked the book that a lot of the folks I respect don't like. I know Driscoll isn't a McLaren fan, at least theologically, and I don't imagine some of the others I like would be big fans, either. I'll probably post on a couple articles I got online in response to the book.

It is a good read, worthy of thought. I just need some help working through the narrative and separating the gold from the dross.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Challenge of Singleness

We're a few weeks into our relationships series on Sunday mornings - "Traversing the Relationship Jungle." While it is our intention to hit the concerns of singles along the way as the series progresses, I've found a sermon on singleness that sounds helpful. I say "sounds" because I'm just catching snippets as I work today and I'm only partially through it as I give you the link for it. It is at the new church of some of our friends who just moved to North Carolina. This might be helpful for anyone who God has called to singleness and to those who are waiting for who God has for them. It is the May 6th sermon, "Love Affair: Fully Single." Enjoy...

http://www.crosspointe.org/messages/

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Seven Churches: Holiness in Thyatira

What are common ethical temptations in your work or personal life?

What are the Thyatirans doing well?

Who is Jezebel in the Old Testament? (See 1 Kgs. 16.29-34; 19.1-2; 21.4-16) What is “Jezebel” doing in Thyatira?

How does sin tolerated in a group affect the larger group? The testimony of all believers?

How have the Thyatirans responded to Jezebel’s deception? How do we respond to Jezebels in our lives?

What’s going to happen to Jezebel? Her followers?

What does it mean to be repaid “according to your deeds”? (See Jer. 17.10; Mt. 16.27; Rom. 2.6; 1 Pt. 1.17; Ps. 62.12)

What do you think that it means that another burden will not be added?

What’s promised to those who hold on?


Personal Reflection
Where might you, like Jezebel, be putting the culture’s ethic above God’s? What should you do about it?

Who is a Jezebel to you, leading you contrary to God’s ethic? What should you do?

Is there anyone you’re a Jezebel to, leading them contrary to God’s ethic? What should you do?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Room for doubt?

I just picked up A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren again (I started it a couple months ago), and it starts with a pastor struggling with doubt and feeling like he has to quit ministry because there's no room for doubt in his fundamentalist church culture. That's a tough situation to be sure.

What about you? Do you feel freedom in your church to express and explore doubt?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Whistle While You Work #13: God Will Reward

On this last “work” post, we see the final way we can whistle while we work – despite the challenges – is to remember that we will be rewarded by God, our ultimate boss, for the good we do.

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. (Ephesians 6:7-8)
That’s in the context of a slave-master relationship. And Paul says God will see the good you do. If you do good, regardless of your circumstances, God will one day reward it. It may not show up on your paycheck, but it doesn’t escape God’s attention. Nothing you do – not one thing – is meaningless. How much more is the sacrifice when you’re in a difficult situation in your job? You may have to love someone who mistreats you. If you remember from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls us to love our enemies. God won’t look past this. He’ll notice, and reward you.

When the grind of your job has made you crazy with boredom or frustration, keep at it. God will reward your faithfulness. It may not be on this side of the grave, but He will remember. He takes care of His people.

“Your supervisor may think you are a nobody, or he may not even know you exist. That doesn’t matter. The Lord knows you exist, and he is going to reward you on the same terms as the most famous Christian. There is no partiality with God (1 Peter 1:17). ‘Whether slave or free,’ your good is recorded and rewarded.” (John Piper - A Godward Life 177-178)
God won’t forget the good you do, even if nobody else notices. Your reward will be great. Whistle while you work. Your work matters to God. It is meaningful.

How does the thought that you work for God and He’ll reward the good you’ll do make a difference in your attitude at work?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Whistle While You Work #12: God's Your Boss

Last post looked at us as being co-creators with God. While we are co-creators with God, partners, we have to understand that it isn’t an equal partnership. He’s the boss. And we’re working for Him.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24)
Your boss isn’t your ultimate boss. God is. You work for Him. Is that compelling at all to you? It should be.

Think if the President of the United States (regardless of your political perspective) called you to be the official “whatever you do.” Official mechanic of the President, official dentist of the President, official cashier of the President. It doesn’t matter the job. That would be an amazing honor, wouldn’t it? Even if you weren’t thrilled about what you do, it would be incredibly honoring. It would infuse what you do with meaning. It would give you a reason to whistle while you work.

You’re living better than that. You are the official homemaker of the God of all creation. The official bus driver of the King of Kings. The official builder of the Lord of Lords. You aren’t where you are by accident. God has you there, at least for now, to serve Him. To work for Him. He is your boss. You work for Him. How’s that for an honor!? Serve your King well – and with joy! You’ve been chosen!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Whistle While You Work #11: Created to Create

The last several “work” posts were about loving our neighbor through our work. Now we’re looking at how our work matters to God. Sometimes we may be tempted to think of the Garden of Eden as something like an extended vacation kind of like a resort. Adam & Eve would hop in the lake, swim to the floating bar, take a nap, and generally loaf. As good as that sounds, it’s not so. It is true that the toil and frustration of work is due to the fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, but Genesis 1-2 are clear that they were to work the garden before any sin entered into our world.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2.15)
God created the universe “very good,” but He didn’t create a garden that was 100% complete. It was good, but God created a world in which we are partners as His image bearers. We don’t do it from nothing like He did, but we create nonetheless.

We do it because we are created to be like God, we’re created in His image. Dorothy Sayers once wrote: “Man, made in God’s image, should make things, as God makes them, for the sake of doing well a thing that is well worth doing” (Working: Its Meaning and Its Limits, p. 43). The opening chapters of Genesis show us God is real, He is powerful, and He is creative. Our creativity is one expression of us being like God – and it is partnership with Him – as His stewards.

Think about that. Talk about value. You are being used of God to make this world, where people experience who God is and His goodness, a better place. As history moves forward, work has been used to make this world a better place, when the creativity is used well. The wheel. The printing press. Medicine. Electricity. The computer. These things are expressions, through the work of people, of what is called God’s common grace. It is grace extended to all people regardless of whether they follow God or not. It doesn’t save, but it is an expression of God’s goodness and generosity to all people.

Thank God for good engineers who build bridges and airplanes that we can see more of God’s world, or stay close to family that lives far away. And it isn’t just functionality. God uses people to stir hearts by creating musical instruments or drama and film that inspires and challenges people, giving an echo of God’s beauty and creativity. More simply, God gave us these “taste buds” on our tongues. Thank God for ice cream and tri-tip that we might enjoy the goodness of God in such a simple way. The world is a better place as we create within God’s creation, particularly when people responsibly enjoy God’s goodness.

Whistle while you work! Your work matters. You’re partnering with God in making His goodness known to people.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Reformission #7: "postmodern pandemonium"

In this final chapter, Driscoll addresses the difficulty the church has in ministering from the margins, since we’ve enjoyed a central place in culture for so long. After a brief history of the rise of postmodernism as a “junk-drawer” of ideas, he goes into seven demons that have found their way into much of the church from our “spiritual” postmodern age.

Demon #1: “the Sky Fairy.” Driscoll: “This mythical Sky Fairy is increasingly mistaken for Jesus, however, by many young pastors and Christians I have met who don’t want the gospel to be the offensive and foolish stumbling block that it is. So they remake Jesus into a feather-hair fairy in lavender tights and take the sword of revelation out of his hand, replacing it with a daisy” (166).

Demon #2: “keeping it real … sinful.” We’re so interested in authenticity that we forget it is “real” for us to be sinful, according to Romans 1. We need to die to ourselves rather than be ourselves.

Demon #3: “hermeneutics of the Dragon.” Scripture is a sword that we can interpret and it is truth. Don’t deny the truth, even if it is difficult to uncover at times.

Demon #4: “from creation back to ex nihilo.” In the era of deconstruction, people are into tearing things down, noting what they are “against” rather than what they are for. While critique is always necessary, we need to build a kingdom culture in our world, not just stand against it.

Demon #5: “the customer is always evil.” People approach church like the mall – looking for what benefits them. They’ll even go from church to church, ala carte style. We’re so eager to cater to the idolatry of self in the church that we don’t tell them that we’re sinners in need of repentance. Driscoll states, “If we simply give people what they want, we will not be giving them what they need.”

Demon #6: “the photocopy heresy.” The rampant egalitarianism in our culture is a partial truth – we’re all created in God’s image – but it makes the mistake of making all people on equal footing when clearly they are not. Ultimately, we try to make God more of our “buddy” than the Creator of all things who is sovereign. He concludes, “As we work among cultures that despise hierarchy, we must remember the kingdom values of children honoring their parents, wives respecting their husbands, Christians following the leadership of their pastors, and churches submitting to Jesus, because the governments of home and church belong to God and not the culture” (174).

Demon #7: “the hyphenated Christian.” We’re tentative to embrace truth and have reduced Scripture to perspectives. Driscoll states: “But as we work among cultures, we must never proclaim Jesus as God merely from our limited and biased perspective but rather as God and the King who rules over a kingdom that includes the cultures of the earth. And the view from his throne is not simply one of the many equally valid perspectives but truth. …In addition, they will demand that the Bible be taught as a series of suggestions rather than commands, that ministry be facilitated rather than led, and that self-discovery be promoted over obedience to God.
And reformission will cease” (175-176).



Take time, perhaps, over the next few days or weeks, to read the gospel of John and circle each occurrence of the word truth, or a derivative thereof. What did you learn about the truth? How does what John says about truth differ from what your local culture believes about the truth?

Do you consider yourself to be more modern or postmodern? Why?

Which of the seven demons is most worrisome to you? Why?

Do you think of any of the seven demons are compatible with Christianity? Why or why not?



Driscoll adds a conclusion of how he sees Reformission transform the city of Seattle. How do you see it transforming your culture?

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Seven Churches: The Truth in Pergamum

We're continuing through the seven churches. The city of Pergamum was another thriving metropolis and city of some import in Asia Minor at the time. Its history was a rollercoaster of prestige through the ages. At the time of Revelation, it was a great center of imperial worship as well as having temples to several gods, including Asklepios (healing), Dionysus, Athena (goddess of victory & patron of the city), and Zeus. Persecution would arise primarily because of the imperial cult (Caesar worship), not because of the popular gods [Grant Osborne, The Book of Revelation (BECNT) 139].

Do you ever think, “God doesn’t get my world”? That He can’t relate to 21st century young adult culture? How? (I know you know the correct answer, theologically, but where does it seem that He doesn't?)

What images does “the sword” bring to mind?

What’s the significance that Jesus knows where they live?

What role does Satan play in all of this? (Eph. 2.1-2; Jn. 12.31; Lk. 10.18; Rev. 12.7-12; Col. 2.15; Gen. 3.15)

What does Jesus have against the church in Pergamum?

How does this problem seep into the church today? What does it look like in the church today?

What does “repent” mean?

What is the biblical image of “the sword of my mouth”? (Isa. 49.2;
Eph. 6.17; Heb. 4.12). How does it help with the challenges Pergamum-ites and we
face?

What does v. 17 mean? (Hint: there's a million views, but like the end of the last few "letters" to the churches, life is promised to those who endure.)


Application
What aspect of our culture most challenges Christians?

How are you doing in letting “God’s Word” be your guide in our culture?

What will you do this week to navigate culture with more wisdom?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Reformission #6: "the sin of light beer"

Here I am, trying to tie up loose ends again. This was, I think, pretty much my first set of posts – the chapter summaries of The Radical Reformission by Mark Driscoll. If you haven’t forgotten, enjoy the last couple. If you haven’t read them, I encourage you to go get the book – it’s much better than my summaries. But if you won’t, enjoy the posts. There’s great food for thought.

Driscoll starts this chapter by talking about different ways to engage culture in the ancient world by looking at the four major Jewish religious groups. The Pharisees were the ones to separate from culture. They wanted to separate themselves to keep “clean.” This translates to our culture like this, according to Driscoll: “Sadly, many people despise Christianity because all they have known are arrogant, self-righteous, and judgmental people claiming to be Christians who avoid them as if they were infected and do little more than yell at them to be moral when they should be explaining how to be redeemed” (140). The Sadducees were the ones who wanted to blend in to culture. They did this to the extent that they denied a future resurrection (Mark 12:18-27; Acts 23:8). This would be liberalism in our world today. Zealots were revolutionaries who exerted their moral and national ideals by force. Driscoll states, “Today this form of Christianity exists in both the religious right and left. It’s present wherever people are more interested in sermons about legislative politics than in sermons about sin and repentance, wherever people get more excited about elections than Easter, wherever more people sign political petitions than sign up to join a Bible study, and wherever people believe that if we simply elect more people like us, the world will be a wonderful place” (141). The Essenes (the Dead Sea Scrolls are on display in San Diego starting late June of this year, by the way) abandoned culture to seek spiritual experiences.

Two of them are sectarian (Essenes and Pharisees), two are syncretistic, blending into culture (Zealots, Sadducees), neither of which is the goal. The goal is to hold on to theological purity and your culture – and don’t let go. Driscoll uses the sectarian perspective of tee totaling as his test case. It has a good study on alcohol consumption for those who are interested and he ends up, biblically I believe, on the fact that alcohol consumption is acceptable in Scripture, but drunkenness is not. The peril, as has been noted a few times in this series of posts, is that we don’t go far enough into culture if we are sectarian and we have no message if we syncretize. This is what mission (Reformission) is all about.

Here are some discussion points from the end of Driscoll’s chapter.

1. Which of the following ruts are you most likely to fall into? Why?

  • A Pharisee who avoids culture.
    A Sadducee who compromises too much and accommodates culture.
    A Zealot who hopes to rule over culture through politics and power.
    An Essene who ignores culture in favor of religious experiences.

2. In what ways have you gone too far into the culture and compromised your
conscience or Christian witness?

3. In what ways have you not gone far enough into the culture and missed
opportunities for evangelism and ministry?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Whistle While You Work #10: Love Your Neighbor, Work Well and Faithfully

I guess you could say I have a kind of posting ADD. I get doing other stuff, including preparing for sabbatical for the month of June (plus a few days in July), and my blogging fades to almost nothing. Anyhow, here’s the continuation of the work series: “Whistle While You Work” from my sermon more than a month ago. This is the last installment of how you love your neighbor with your work. It starts with a story, not sure if it is true or not, called “The Keeper of the Spring”…
There was once a quiet forest dweller who lived high above an Austrian village along the eastern slopes of the Alps. The old gentleman had been hired by the young town council to clear away the debris from the pools of water up in the mountain crevices that fed the lovely spring flowing through their town. With faithful, silent regularity, he patrolled the hills, removing the leaves and branches, and wiped away the silt that would otherwise choke and contaminate the fresh flow of water. By and by, the village became a popular attraction for vacations. Graceful swans floated along the crystal clear spring, the millwheels of various businesses located near the water turned day and night, farm lands were naturally irrigated, and the view from restaurants was picturesque beyond description.

Years passed. One evening the town council met for its semi-annual meeting. As they reviewed the budget, one man’s eye caught the salary figure being paid the obscure keeper of the spring. Said the keeper of the purse, “Who is the old man? Why do we keep him year after year? No one ever sees him. For all we know the strange ranger of the hills is doing us no good. He isn’t necessary any longer.” By a unanimous vote, they dispensed the old man’s services.

For several weeks nothing changed. By early autumn the trees began to shed their leaves. Small branches snapped off and fell into the pools, hindering the rushing flow of sparkling water. One afternoon someone noticed a slight yellowish-brown tint in the spring. A couple days later the water was much darker. Within another week, a slimy film covered sections of the water along the banks and a foul odor was soon detected. The millwheels moved slower, some finally ground to a halt. Swans left as did the tourists. Clammy fingers of disease and sickness reached deeply into the
village.

Quickly, the embarrassed council called a special meeting. Realizing their gross error in judgment, they hired back the old keeper of the spring … and within a few weeks the veritable river of life began to clear up. The wheels started to turn, and new life returned to the hamlet in the Alps once again.
You love your neighbor by doing your job faithfully. Whether you see it or not, or whether others appreciate you or not doesn’t matter. Doing your job well and faithfully is a legitimate and basic way to love your neighbor.

We know the counselor or doctor makes our lives better. Same with the police officer or teacher. Soldiers and firemen, too. But the trash man makes my world better, too. Really. Imagine the world without him – and we have diapers! I don’t know many farmers, but how thankful should we be for them? More thankful than I am, that’s for sure. I’m grateful for the scientists who come up with pain relief from the range of Advil for sore knees to numbing my body for surgery. McDonald’s may not be the dream job for many (or any) of us, but what a gift for a quick bite to eat when we’re in a rush (just don’t Super-Size Me!). You get the idea. (There’s an excerpt of The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell in Working: Its Meaning and Its Limits edited by Meilaender that does a great job in pointing out the value of coal miners).

Whistle while you work because your work is a way for you to honor God by fulfilling the second commandment…
35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" 37 And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets." – Matthew 22:35-40

How has God used your work for the good of your neighbor, or how are you challenged to do a better job of using your work to honor Him?

New DVD Bible Study series

I've only watched an episode or two of the "Miracles" DVD, but I like the concept of this DVD series. Full bias disclosure: Michael Wilkins was my thesis advisor and Mark Strauss was my favorite undergrad prof.

http://www.zondervan.com/Cultures/en-US/Search/Search.htm?ViewImages=true&SearchValue=Deeper+Connections&SearchContent=Products&SearchMode=Simple&QueryStringSite=ZCS

Check it out. If you've seen them, what do you think? If you haven't, is DVD material an enjoyable means of study for you?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Seven Churches: Suffering in Smyrna

Share a time you’ve been “persecuted” as a Christian?
What you need to know about Smyrna...
It still exists today as Izmir and is supposedly the birthplace of Homer, though it is disputed. It won the right to build a temple to Tiberias in 26AD because of its long-lasting loyalty to Rome. Smyrna called itself “first” among the cities of Asia, which is contrasted with Jesus being “first and last.” Mounce says coins said: “First of Asia in beauty and size.” It had a stadium, library, and the largest public theater in Asia. According to Mounce, this is the only remaining church of the seven from Revelation! [73].

How are the Smyrnans enduring suffering?

What does Scripture say we should expect in terms of persecution? (See Mt. 5.10-12; Jn. 15.18, 20; 16.33; 2 Tim. 3.12)

What should we conclude if we’re not being persecuted?

How do we avoid suffering in our culture?

How could the Smyrnans be considered rich in this context? Do you buy it? (See Mk. 10.29-30; Phil. 3.10; 1 Pt. 4.12-19; James 2.5)

How can He honestly say, “Don’t fear”? (Ps. 46.1-3, Mt. 10.28; Ps. 56.3; Mk. 5.36)

What are the rewards of enduring?

How does Jesus’ self-description in v. 8 help in enduring persecution?

Can we prepare for persecution?

Application
Are you persecuted for your faith? If so, how do you respond? If not, why not?

How are you preparing for persecution?

Pray for the persecuted church. For more info, go here: http://www.persecution.com/

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Beginning With the End in Mind...

I'm working through one "habit" a month in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey with a friend of mine. This one is "beginning with the end in mind." It begins with a powerful exercise: Imagine going to a funeral and finding out it is your own. What would you want the people sharing - one from family, one from work, one friend, and one from your church or social organization - to say about you. The results may surprise you in light of your current pursuits.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Whistle While You Work #9: Love Your Neighbor Through Integrity

As we continue loving our neighbor through our work, the next way is loving your neighbor – doing unto them as you’d like them to do unto you – not before they do it to you. This, too, applies to the world of commerce. I’m out of my element when it comes to business and profit, particularly when it comes to the global impact of economies and the like. But, biblically, profit is not universally evil. It puts some value on the time and effort we put in to something. Furthermore, the Virtuous Woman of Proverbs 31 is commended for her ability to turn a profit.

She sees that her trading is profitable, (Prov. 31.18)
But this area is also where we can be tempted by all kinds of evil (1 Tim. 6.10) in our love for money. When you’re establishing your profit margins, keep in mind that Golden Rule.

Loving your neighbor means fighting greed in your own life and oppression of others. That may mean not taking unfair advantage of superior knowledge or hoarding a scarce or vital resource and then price gouging (gas prices, anyone?).

With corporate scandals as prominent as they seem to be these days, Christians should be leading the charge and setting the bar high (any more clich├ęs to add?) when it comes to integrity in the work place.

Whistle while you work because, when you work with integrity, you are obeying Jesus by loving your neighbor – even if they are your competitor/enemy.

What are the most significant challenges to living with integrity in your work world?

Friday, May 4, 2007

The Seven Churches: Loving Ephesus

We're doing a study on the Seven Churches of revelation in Young Adult Ministry. Here's the study guide for Revelation 2.1-7, the church in Ephesus.

How has God shown His love to you?

Who is speaking in v.1? What is the significance that the one speaking walks among the lampstands?

What is the Ephesian church commended for?

Why is this value so important based on what we know of Ephesus? How good is your church at fighting false doctrine?

What is the Ephesian church rebuked for?

Is this referring to a love for God or a love for each other?

What is the biblical understanding of love contrasted with our culture’s perception of it?

What role should love play in the life of the church? What is the solution for restoring this lost love?

What happens if this love isn’t recaptured? What is the reward if we do respond?

What are you doing to make sure you aren’t deceived by false teaching?

On a scale from 1-10, how do you rate your “first love” relationship with God (1 = dead, 10 = honeymoon)? Explain.

What is one thing you’ll do this week to cultivate a deeper love for God?

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Young Adults: Ephesus and "First Love"

What are you doing to grow in your love for God? What will you do if you're love for God has grown cold to "fan the flame"?

Moneyball Applied

A few years ago I read Moneyball by Michael Lewis. It was a great book on how the Oakland A's have become so competitive despite the fact that they spend so much less than most other teams. It was fascinating enough to make me almost like the A's - but such things are not allowed when they're in your league, let alone division (and they beat your team 17 times out of 19 last season). But here's a link to why Billy Beane and the A's stay competitive even when the Mariners spend twice the money for lesser results.

http://ussmariner.com/2007/05/03/what-doyle-stands-for/

Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Work Site

I was tooling around Mark D. Roberts' blog the other day and he had a link to a site about the high value God puts on our work. Enjoy.

http://www.thehighcalling.org/

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Need help with your Bible study?

Check out this post by our youth pastor, Danny. It has some great resources if you need some ideas for a reading plan: http://blog.cypressfamily.net/2007/04/few-cool-free-resources.html