Monthly Archives: October 2009

God, The Flu and Me

This has not been a good week. Or has it? God in His providence has allowed the flu to infiltrate my body and cause much misery. But I believe there is some good that has come from this unwanted sickness. The following review of “flu week”  is my effort to show that not all things are desirable but all things can teach us and shape us to be Christ-like.

Saturday, October 17 – I begin to develop an itchy throat and some slight coughing. By the end of the day I feel sickness coming on, but my initial thought was that I was just in a bad mood about the OU/Texas game.

What I learned: I care way too much about football. I told Lacey that I really almost dis-like myself because I enjoy it so much. I hope my dedication to football is not greater than my dedication and enthusiasm for Christ.

Sunday, October 18 – I woke up at 6 a.m. as usual, but feeling really bad. I go ahead and go through my routine and start to get ready. I take my temperature and have about 100 and decide I better call Russ and Ryan and get some advice about whether it is wise to come to church and spread the swine flu. We talk it over and develop an in-and-out plan. The plan: I will come up through the trap-door in the platform, preach and then leave, letting Ryan and the elders take care of the rest. I get off the phone with Russ and five minutes later I realize that no one is going to want to watch me throw-up on the platform. I go to a walk-in-clinic and take a flu test. It comes back negative. I ask, “Is it normal to throw up with a cold?” The doctor, “It depends.” I respond, “OK.”

What I learned: I’ve mentioned this in another note, but I am very glad that there are very capable people at our church who are more than competent if I can’t be there. I am glad to serve in a multi-staff situation and I am glad we have elders/pastors. God knew what He was doing when He inspired the idea of sharing leadership among elders.

Monday, October 19 – I felt horrible on Monday. I couldn’t open my eyes the first few hours I was awake. So I thought it would be a good idea not to drive to work or be at work.

Tuesday, October 20 – I was beginning to feel considerably better. I decided to make my way to the office after lunch and was greeted with the question, “What are you doing here.” Then I was told to go to my office and close the door. So that is what I did. I hold no ill will toward Mindy or Jo Ann. I still like all the staff.

Wednesday, October 21 – I am still feeling less than perfect, but I chalk it up to the fact that Elijah woke up at 4:30 a.m. and wanted his daddy. I went and laid down with him for a while and never went back to sleep. In hindsight, that was a huge problem because not only was I already sick, but now I was operating on very little sleep.

So I go into the office and do all the stuff that I need to do including getting ready to teach the 67 Wednesday Night Bible Study. I go home at 5 p.m. and take some nutrition and then take Luke back to church. I start to notice that I am shaking and having chills. I put on a coat and I am still freezing. It is clear that I have a fever that is rising quickly. I tell Jason Denney I can’t teach or infect the 67 group and I get Luke and go home and take meds and pile on blankets. My temperature tops out at 103.5 and finally starts to decrease at about 10 p.m. as I go to bed. Remember, I don’t have the flu per the flu test.

But the day wasn’t over yet. At 10:20 p.m. Luke wakes up crying and is soon screaming and writhing in pain. He has an ear infection. We’ve seen it before with him. He sleeps a whopping three hours and Lacey gets about two hours. I don’t sleep much either.

What I learned: I learned that when I don’t have any answers for why things are happening or how to make them better, the best and only thing to do is to depend on God in prayer and acknowledge how finite I am, – how powerless I am.  These helpless moments are good for me, they teach me to depend on God and not myself for left to myself I am inadequate. I need God all the time and I am thankful He does not show me with the flu and ear aches all the time.

Thursday, October 22 – We wake up and head to the walk-in clinic. This is now the second time this week I am going to the doctor, which makes for the second time this year I have been to the doctor. (Insurance companies love me.) But this time we are all going to see the doctor.

The doctor says that Elijah is getting better but probably had the flu. Luke has an ear infection in both ears and in one of his ears, his ear drum was just on the verge of busting it was so badly infected. I was told that  I more than likely had the flu. Wait a minute, I was told per a test that i did not have the flu. Both the nurse and the PA tell me that the flu tests are about 60 to 70% accurate.

We go to Wal-Mart and stock-pile Vitamin C, over the counter meds and under the counter meds.

What I learned: Don’t believe everything you are told? How about this; life is full of uncertainties so trust in God and be joyful and do what God has given you to do.

Friday, October 23rd – Feeling better but still feeling lethargic. Temperature comes back at night, but got a whole night of sleep without interruptions.

What I Learned: That in the midst of all trials, that there is joy to be found and there are truths to learn and re-learn. Every event in life is an opportunity to trust God and believe that God can use the flu for my good and His glory. Romans 8:28

Everyday Suggestions For Making Disciples At Home and Beyond

What is the work of the home? What is your plan for making disciples in your family and generally speaking, in all of life? Deuteronomy 6:4-9 gives families, and especially fathers, the massive responsibility of explaining to their children how to love God with all their heart and soul and might, and additionally emphasizes that God’s commandments are to be modeled as well. The gospel of Jesus is to be taught and caught, lived and explained. And if that weren’t enough the text suggests that this is to happen in all of life. V. 7 says we should talk about God at home when we sit to eat, when we are in the car on a trip to Wal-Mart or on vacation. We are to speak of God from the time we get up from the bed until the time we go to sleep. We are to immerse ourselves in communicating God through Jesus to our children and those we live with and those we love. That’s how you pass on the good news of God, that is how you communicate the gospel. You live like God is an indispensable and real part of all of life, because He simply is. There is no other thing that is more important than God because God is real and to neglect God through Jesus is deadly serious.

So how do you live the gospel? Here are some specific suggestions for making disciples in the home and beyond that were originally a part of my sermon on March 22nd. Some made it in and others did not. Here is the original list.

  • Start now, start small, start somewhere. Having a daily family time with Jesus as the reason may be more difficult if your family hasn’t had one, but you can’t afford to do nothing. So start with one a week for 15 minutes, but start somewhere and expand the amount of time and number of times as you go along.
  • Teach them that they are justified by faith in Christ alone. Moralism is not the gospel. Doing good things is not the gospel. Our helpless condition that brings us to the end of ourselves, causing us to trust in Christ alone is the gospel. Only in trusting in Jesus can we be declared right before a Holy God. Teach your children to be gospelist not moralist. (Galatians 2:15-21)
  • Read the Bible together. We do it almost everyday at breakfast. Since our audience is a 2 year-old and 4 year-old, the time won’t be too in-depth but at least we are communicating on a consistent basis the Bible is critically important.
  • Pray for your children and tell them you are praying for them. I went through a hard time in high school and ended up repenting after I graduated and one of the most memorable things my mother ever said to me was, “We have been praying for you.” No doubt she was. Do you pray for your children and tell them so?
  • Let them see you read the Bible when you aren’t supposed to be reading it. – If I’m not careful, reading my Bible will appear to be only a job, at least to my boys. But if I pick it up when I don’t have to then that says there is something other than duty at work in my life. It shows I want to hear from God. Seeing my dad do this as a boy growing up has proved given me a lasting impression of discipline to love God in His word.
  • Make church about gladly serving God and others through Jesus, not about heartless and mindless religion. Meeting with others and serving them and encouraging them and being encouraged by them for God is something that ought to bring joy not drudgery. We get to be in the family of God and undeservedly so, sometimes we forget that.
  • Create traditions that honor Christ. Several years ago Lacey bought an Advent Calendar that leads up to the birth of Christ. We go through it every year to remember the greatest gift of all. Go on a family mission trip. Create lasting and consistent memories that make Christ the center.
  • Talk about Jesus like He is real. Again I give credit to my wife for making Jesus all-important and life-real. Whenever Lacey is with the boys and they hear an ambulance or fire-truck, she has them take a moment to pray for the people who need help because Jesus is real and listening.
  • Ask lots of questions. Asking questions engages people, even children, and gives them ownership of the conversation. You might be surprised what you learn from your children when it comes to Jesus. For instance, Brent: “Luke, do you know how powerful Jesus is?” Luke: “Is He stronger than the Incredible Hulk?” Brent: “Yes, He is the most powerful person in the world.” Luke: “He must be really strong.” Brent: “So strong that only Jesus can save you from your sins.”
  • Confess your mistakes and ask forgiveness of God and others when you blow it. There are few things as influential as humility and honesty.
  • Weep for them. Has your child or friend ever seen you weep for them or others because of the separation and pain that sins causes? “For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ.” Philippians 3:18 Do you agonize over the lostness of those around you who are enemies of God? Jesus was the manliest man there ever was and he wept for others. Are you more manly than Jesus?
  • If you don’t know what to do, ask someone who does. What is the greater tragedy? Not knowing what to do or knowing you don’t know what to do and continuing to do nothing? The former is a problem, the latter is a tragedy.

Start somewhere and if you don’t know where somewhere is then ask someone for help so you don’t continue to waste the privilege and responsibility of making disciples in the home and beyond.

Mommas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Moralists

Just wanted to do a little Monday Morning preachering with regards to the sermon on Sunday.

In Galatians 2:15-21 Paul summarizes the argument of the book in saying that no person, even Jews, can keep the law and be justified by God. No amount of good deeds is good enough to satisfy the demand of God’s perfect holiness, which is exhibited in His perfect moral standard, also known as the law. Therefore, being declared right (justified) by God comes by putting our confidence in what Christ accomplished on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.

In light of the truth of justification by faith alone as taught in Galatians 2:15-21, I said that we must be careful not to make moralists out of our children. If we teach our children to be good without the doctrine of justification by faith, then we are teaching them to be moralistic atheist, because a part from the gospel there is no good news. (Galatians 1:6-7) I am not saying we ought not to teach our children what is moral or lawful or good. We must train up our children in the way they should go. (Proverbs 22:6) But if in training them, we stress behavior at the expense of the imperative need to be declared right by God through faith in Jesus as the only way to God, then we will have made them just as much as sons and daughters of hell as the pharisees were in the New Testament. (Matthew 23:15) No one can behave their way into heaven because there is no one who does good. (Romans 3:11-12) Every person must be declared into heaven by God through faith in Jesus and that is why we must always be preeminently stressing the gospel in addressing morals and behavior.

The goal of life is not to raise up good people. As I said Sunday, Oprah is a good person and Gandhi was a good person but their goodness is inadequate in light of God’s perfect moral standard. As much as we would wish it otherwise, goodness apart from Christ is a mirage that leads to eternal death.

The gospel rightly taught will produce in people a desire to live righteously through the power of the Holy Spirit.(1 Peter 2:24-25; 1 John 3:23-24) But let’s not get the cart before the horse. Justification by faith precedes living rightly for the glory of God.

This is incomprehensibly good news and news that is cause for great joy because we are unable to earn a right standing with God.  But God in His mercy has given us a way to Himself in the gift of His Son, Jesus. So I implore you, moms and dads and every person in Christ, don’t teach others to be moralists, teach them to be gospelists who are declared right by faith in Christ alone.

One-to-One; Penn Jillette Rebukes Christians Who Don’t Proselytize

onetoone

Is an effort to remind every person at Eagle Heights that every person has a responsibility to actively be sharing and living the gospel wherever God takes them. (Matthew 28:19-20) Besides being commanded by the Bible to proclaim the gospel, common sense reveals that if we have an exclusive truth claim, (the gospel – John 14:6) and eternity hangs in the balance with hell as one possibility and Jesus in heaven as the other, then it would be wrong not to share the gospel. If you and I have the only (Galatians 1:6-7) good news, it can only be unloving, even hateful, not to share that with those we see every day who are without the good news. This truth was pointed out this past Sunday in a video blog we watched of entertainer and professing atheist, Penn Jillette, in which he is reflecting on an encounter he had with a guy who cared enough to kindly give him a Bible after one of his shows. He was visibly moved in the blog by the act of kindness, but the remarkable part about the video is that Jillette, who is an atheist, rebukes Christians for not sharing the gospel. Here is an excerpt from the video we watched:

“I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there is a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think it’s not really worth telling them this because it will make it socially awkward. An atheist would think that people shouldn’t proselytize, just leave me alone, and keep your religion to yourself. How much do you have hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean, if I believed without a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you and you didn’t believe it, that that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you, and this is more important than that. And I’ve always thought that, and I’ve written about that and thought about it conceptually. This guy was a really good guy. He was polite and honest and sane and he cared enough about me to give me a Bible.”

Perhaps God will use an atheist to persuade Christ-followers about the truth of the gospel. Christianity is real, let’s give the gospel One-to-One.

Young Adults In Oklahoma and What They Think

Ryan and I have been doing a webinar (seminar on the web) about once a month with Chris Lowery from the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. The focus of these webinars is reaching young adults. Fairly common these days is the assertion that not only are churches not reaching young adults but they are not keeping them either, generally speaking of course. Everyone has their opinion about why this is happening and consequently, they have an opinion about what we need to do to reach and keep young adults. But this topic is especially relevant to Eagle Heights for at least three reasons. First, we are young church, though multi-generational, that is at least initially reaching young adults. Secondly, since we are reaching young adults, we need to know how to keep them and disciple them. Third, Eagle Heights is in a town that made up of young adults. The median age of Stillwater residents is around 31 to 33 years.

Eagle Heights should be reaching peoples of all ages and backgrounds because people of all ages and backgrounds live in Stillwater, but we ought to be reaching young adults because for no other reason, that is who lives in our micropolitan. That’s why Ryan and I are sitting in on these webinars. We want to reach young adults and we want to keep young adults and make disciples of young adults for the glory of God through Jesus. Here is a sampling of what we learned on Thursday with head phones on, listening to people from all over the state.

A young adult is considered a person from the ages of 18-34, at least for the sake of research. The BGCO surveyed 321 churched young adults and 300 unchurched young adults. An unchurched young adult in Oklahoma is someone who had not been to church in six months for a reason other than a wedding, funeral, Christmas or Easter. Here is some information that I jotted down.

  • 18% of young adults have been to Fall’s Creek
  • 80% of unchurched in Oklahoma are dechurched.
  • 15.4% are radically unchurched. Which means they have never been to church or were not raised in church.
  • On Christmas, only 14% of the unchurched came to church.
  • On Easter, only 17% of the unchurched came to church.
  • Unchurched people strongly agree that you can have a good relationship with God without being involved in church.
  • If a young adult, including the unchurched, wanted spiritual guidance, 40% would go to someone they knew and considered a spiritual authority, 22% would read a book, 16% would go to church and 40% don’t know what they would do.
  • Young adults believe that Christianity today is more about organized religion. That is how they identify to place of the church or the role of the church.
  • Other Observations or Statement From the Webinar

  • With young adults the best approach to evangelism is to convert them to a friend before we can convert them to a Christ-follower
  • Friends will come to church with friends because their church-going friends are excited about the church they go to.
  • There was much more than this, but these were the notes or stats or observations that stood out to me. What do you make of the data? Simply put, it is a new day and people are different. They have the same need of the same gospel that people in the past have had, but we must be willing to understand and admit that what has worked in the past may not work anymore. At least when it comes to our methods for getting the gospel to the unchurched. May God through Jesus give us wisdom to engage people with the gospel, even if it is different than the way we would or used to do it.