Double-Mindedness

Double-MindedPeople act in line with what they believe. For instance, if we believe a stovetop is hot, we will not place our hand on it. Because we believe vitamins are essential for good health, we take them.

We find ourselves in trouble as we harbor felicitous inconsistencies. This is a fancy way of saying: I say I believe something, but my actions fail to align with my words. For example, I believe that it is important to exercise regularly, but I rarely make it to the gym. I believe that generosity brings joy—but I dread letting go of money or time.

Double-mindedness creates a pastiche life. Instead of singularity of focus, we find ourselves trying to make our inconsistencies fit where they may. An ever-timely question for our motives is:

  • Do my words and actions align?
  • I say, “God is in control”, but I continuously worry.
  • I state, “Honesty is vital to a relationship,” yet a tell lies and half-truths over even the insignificant.

Dan Delzell shares a convicting article about what spiritual double mindedness. Read it here.   Trust

God’s Generosity

Generous

During this time of Sabbatical, the Holy Spirit has pointed out several weaknesses I bring to ministry.

I am convicted that my voice is weak regarding generosity. For fear of driving people away or making them feel uncomfortable, I have not adequately shepherded the community I love in this vital area of giving.

God is generous. God is so generous that our ultimate Provider literally puts “skin in the game”. Jesus is God’s perfect example of being generous. The call to give our first fruits and our tithes (two different Old Testament ways of giving) come from an understanding that God does indeed “give us this day our daily bread”. It has taken years for my head and my heart to get on the same page regarding the worship of God with time and resources. Tithing, giving, and blessing are matters of worship to God.  We respond to His blessings by being a blessing to others.  When we respond to His goodness with goodness, we become instruments in His hand to usher in His coming kingdom.

If I wonder how is my life of worship doing, the Maker of Heaven and Earth has given dashboards to quickly indicate my worship levels. When it comes to the use of my God-given time and God-given resources, my calendar and my checkbook poignantly testify to my priorities and what I am prone to worship.

God’s call to receive is linked to his call to give. Generosity is a matter of the will but also of the soul!

Generosity isn’t any one thing—it is everything! God’s generosity in the gift of Jesus is about life that is rich toward God.

The Assumption about Presumption

AssumeIAssumption destroys relationships.   Presumption builds trust.

These two words, often used interchangeably, are similar but the subtle differences are significant.

Both assume and presume mean “to take at face value” or “suppose,” but presume carries more weight based on past behavior or evidence. Assumption is to consider something valid without proof. Something you presume is more likely to be true than something you assume.

The website “The Grammerist” articulates the difference:

Both terms have a common root from Latin: Sūmere meaning “to take up.” The Latin assūmere means “to take to oneself; adopt.” Praesūmere, means “to take upon oneself beforehand; to anticipate.”

When I assume things are good in a relationship little space is left for growth. When I presume that my friend acts out of AssumeIIgood intention, the door is wide open for encouragement.  Assumptions tend to take the same old path, but presumption is like exploring new territory. The first often goes with out dialogue while the other opens the way for deeper understanding.

Call to en-Couragement: Invite a friend into conversation and share an assumption: “I have always assumed that because of your haircut you were in the military, is that so?” Once the response begins, invite them to go deeper by sharing several times the phrase “Tell me more.”

30 Years of Marriage

MichaelBernardine

Some truths about myself I have learned from 30 years of marriage:

  1. Marriage teaches me more about myself than I bargained for.
  2. When people say marriage is hard, it is true.
  3. Never start the day off nagging or complaining.
  4. An unwillingness to quarrel about something doesn’t mean agreement.
  5. Generosity may very well be the key to all happiness.
  6. Most fights point to my immaturity.
  7. Admit my shortcomings early on. They’re obvious anyway.
  8. Express gratitude often.
  9. Being right in not as important as being righteous.
  10. Many of the things I fight hard for turn out not to have been worth the fight.
  11. Be the first to apologize. Really. It’s not as painful as it sounds.
  12. If I want something, I must recognize and accept that it’s my job to ask for it.
  13. Sometimes you’re going to do your unfair share. It’s not worth whining about.
  14. Accept apologies graciously.
  15. The best way to love your kids is to love your spouse more.
  16. Don’t kid yourself into thinking you have all the time in the world.
  17. “In love” pales in comparison to love.
  18. I married “up” – proof of God’s grace!
  19. Every time, every single time, I failed to heed her advice – I have regretted it!
  20. It is my job to be content, not hers or anyone else’s!

Relativism

During this treasured time of Sabbatical, I have been reading, reading, and reading, along with some traveling. Some reading has been heavy, but tonight it was quite light: “Calvin and Hobbes.” Tonight, I came across this humorous yet poignant comic offering. This brilliant cartoon speaks to the danger of relativism.

CalvinandHobbs

Relativism is a philosophy conveying that all points of view are equally valid and that all truth is determined by the individual. Matt Slick, President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. His paper “Refuting Relativism” summarizes three tangents of relativism in the following three categories:

  • cognitive relativism(truth)–Cognitive relativism affirms that all truth is relative. This would mean that no system of truth is more valid than another one and that there is no objective standard of truth. It would, naturally, deny that there is a God of absolute truth.
  • moral/ethical relativism–All morals are relative to the social group within which they are constructed.
  • situational relativism–Ethics (right and wrong) are dependent upon the situation.

I encourage you to read this brief explanation on relativism by Mr. Slick here.

We are living in the dredges of multifaceted relativism. Our legal system has difficulty punishing criminals, entertainment continues to push the envelope of indecency, and schools educate students in such a manner that logical reasoning is taboo. Disagreements are seen as bigotry rather than the opportunity to challenge and improve ideas.

4BlockWorld

Typical expressions of this dangerous dogma are thrown about as truth:

“That is your truth, not mine,”

“It is true for you, but not for me,” and 

“There are no absolute truths.”

Pope Benedict XVI recognized this logical debacle in saying, “We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.”

If all moral views carry the same weight, then how do we determine punishment? If the mark of right and wrong is based on every and any individual, then the only logical outcome is chaos and degeneration.

TruthLove

The call of Christ followers is to speak truth, to speak in love and to speak the truth in love. (Eph 4:31-32)

Disagree with Dignity

Disagreements occur frequently in society. Each is entitled to their own opinion, but when trying to prove a point or disprove another’s opinion, a civil society demands that you do it politely. Whether it’s a political discussion or a philosophical debate, you don’t need to rant and rave, point fingers, or swear.

I appreciate the way presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson models his faith by disagreeing with dignity.  He  believes that honest heartfelt discussion is the means by which issues can be broached.  There are two topics that we should always be willing to discuss with dignity:  politics and religion.

“Political Correctness” is not permission to be a bully or the green light to be bullied.  Political Correctness, well defined by Dr. David Platt, is when “right and wrong are no longer measured by universal truth but by popular opinion”.   When someone loses t(or yields) the ability to “speak freely and consistently with their beliefs.”

Here are some suggestions for entering into the fray of healthy conflict laden discussion:

  1. Don’t make it personal.
  2. Avoid putting down the other person’s ideas and beliefs.  Resist the temptation to yell, use sarcasm, or make derogatory comments and you’ll have a much better chance of getting your point across.
  3. Use “I” statements to communicate how you feel, what you think, and what you want or need.
  4. Listen to the other point of view. Being a good listener is a way of showing that you respect and understand the other person’s perspective. That makes it more likely he or she will do the same for you. When the other person is talking, try to stop yourself from thinking about why you disagree or what you’ll say next. Instead, focus on what’s being said. When it’s your turn to talk, repeat any key points the other person made to show you listened and heard what was said. Then calmly present your case and why you disagree.
  5. Stay calm. This is the most important thing you can do to keep a conversation on track. Of course, it’s a huge challenge to stay calm and rational when you feel angry or passionate about something — especially if the person you’re talking to gets heated. You may need to be the mature one who manages the conversation, even if the other person is a parent or someone who should know better. http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/problems/tips_disagree.html

Here are my thoughts as we enter into an emotionally charged cacophony of voices this election season:

  • Talk more with people with whom you disagree.
  • Listen all the way through their proposition.  Let people finish their sentences.
  • Reflect what you hear
  • Stay on point
  • Acknowledge gratitude for their willingness to speak
  • Be open to the possibility that you can learn from them
  • Be accurate
  • Let the way you disagree with people be an opportunity for faith to shine!

Remember:  Sarcasm is sin.

We need to keep in mind the big picture.  Government is a gift from God.  It is important, but it is not eternal.  We must grasp the fact that our government cannot save us! Only God can. We never read in the New Testament of Jesus or any of the apostles expending any time or energy schooling believers on how to reform the pagan world of its idolatrous, immoral, and corrupt practices via the government. The apostles never called for believers to demonstrate civil disobedience to protest the Roman Empire’s unjust laws or brutal schemes. Instead, the apostles commanded the first-century Christians, as well as us today, to proclaim the gospel and live lives that give clear evidence to the gospel’s transforming power.  (c.f. –http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-politics.html)

1%

1 Percent

I’m always blessed when good waiters and waitresses at a restaurant serve me. It’s easy to tell the good from the bad by how well they serve without being asked. There is something about the waitress who is attentive to the table’s needs: filling the water, keeping the kids’ napkin supply coming, topping of the coffee mugs, and generally being available to serve you well. They are near, always observing, and ready to act at a moment’s notice.

“Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.'” John 4:34-36 (NKJV)

Serving as a Jesus Follower is very similar. You will be very effective if you attentively open your eyes. One of the best practical things you can do to improve your service is to be very observant-expectantly ready to take care of things that need to be done-without waiting to be asked. As you open your eyes and look around, you’ll see all sorts of things that need to be done both in the church as well as in the neighborhood. Does the trash need to be emptied? Are there weeds to be pulled? Is there trash in the parking lot? Is there distress on someone’s face, joy on another’s? Is that a brand new family and do they need some help? These observations are all promptings for things to be taken care of.

Put yourself in the place of every kind of person whom God places in your path today and prayerfully ask God to show you what needs to be done. Don’t wait to be told to do something, but instead, be on the look-out. Seek ways to serve and then do them.

1%

At St. John’s, Wash Park, we refer to the 1 percent guide. I may not be able to make this situation 100 percent or 50 percent better—but usually I can make a 1 percent difference!