Monthly Archives: April 2017

A Psalm 71 Present For My Birthday Boy

E Baby B.DayNo matter how you look at it, life is a precious gift. If you are a Christian, then you recognize that life is an especially meaningful gift because it is designed by God for an eternal purpose. The Bible tells us so.

Today is my son’s eleventh birthday. I love that boy and I want to do spiritual, eternal good to Him. I want him to know that he is intricately designed for a God-glorifying purpose. For this reason, when our children have birthdays, besides giving them gifts, parties and special privileges, I try to say something meaningful to them from God’s word. So this morning I asked him to stop what he was doing on his iPad so he could look at me and I read to him Psalm 71:4-6.


Rescue me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, Out of the grasp of the wrongdoer and ruthless man, For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth. By You I have been sustained from my birth; You are He who took me from my mother’s womb; My praise is continually of You.

When I was done reading I said to him something like this:

Son, did you know that just like the person who wrote this passage thousands of years ago, you too have been sustained from your birth by the almighty hand of God? Son, did you know that He brought you from your mother’s womb with breath and life? Did you know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made? So son, find your hope in this God; the only God (5). Son, call out to the LORD God when you are in trouble (4). Son, may you see the goodness of God to you now that you are a youth and are growing into a man (5b), and in response, may you always praise God continually (6). Son, daddy loves you and the best thing for you is to know and follow this God, though Jesus. I thank God for you, son. Happy Birthday.

I didn’t sit down and write a mini-sermon. I just read the text to him and responded by expressing how God’s breathed-out word applied to him on this important day in which we remember that God gave us a very special gift.

Do you do this? Do you take special moments and bring God’s word to bear on the situation? I get lazy sometimes and don’t do it. But I try to always say something meaningful about God’s word, or from God’s word.

Your child will receive hundreds of gifts, many parties and privileges, and thousands of happy birthday wishes. Those are all good. But if you want to give your child something great and eternal, take hold of special moments like birthdays and speak into their lives truth from God’s special word. They may not remember exactly what you said, but I am confident they will remember that you thought they were important enough to give them the greatest gift of all – God’s life-giving word.

19 Marks of Real Community

authenticRay Ortland, a respected pastor from Nashville, Tennessee, unleashed a tweet-storm today about real, biblical community. Referencing multiple Bible Passages (1 Cor. 3:3; Romans 12:18; John 13:34-35; John 17:23; Philippians 2:2) about unity and love, Ortland, gave nineteen evidences of authentic, biblical community. After reading them I thought they were worth documenting as a diagnostic that any Christian could use to examine their own life and the health of their local church.

Ortland also mentioned Elton Trueblood who noted that “the Roman world had religion galore. What they didn’t have was community. The Christians did, and the world saw.”

Below are the tweets in the order they appeared. Read them and examine your own heart, and then evaluate the life of the church you are committed to, seeing if there is something you can do to honor Christ and love your brothers and sisters.

  1. Evidence of community: people hang out at church long after the service, enjoying one another.
  2. Evidence of community: people are careful to keep positive, relaxed, open relationships, quick to apologize and make things right again.
  3. Evidence of community: people respond to leaders with openness and trust, reasonable responses, not adversarial or aggressive.
  4. Evidence of community: prayer meetings don’t have long, awkward silences, but the people share a sense of reality with God and jump in.
  5. Evidence of community: no two-tiered justification, some above, others below, but all are equally dignified with inclusion in Christ.
  6. Evidence of community: people’s inevitable eccentricities are cherished as lovable rather than used as evidence against them.
  7. Evidence of community: the inevitable bloopers by the band are perceived not as embarrassments but as opportunities to relax and enjoy.
  8. Evidence of community: no need to be impressive, no grandiosity, but a settled confidence that Jesus is building something real here.
  9. Evidence of community: lots of laughter, when it’s right; lots of tears, when they are right. But no triumphalism at another’s expense.
  10. Evidence of community: conflicts and disagreements are pursued not with a desire to win but with a desire for the win/win.
  11. Evidence of community: people listen well, sincerely interested in one another’s thoughts, rather than demand a hearing for their own.
  12. Evidence of community: disturbing the community is so extremely distasteful as to be unthinkable. An awareness that this is sacred.
  13. Evidence of community: an awed awareness that every individual present has been sent there by Christ, entrusted by him to everyone’s care.
  14. Evidence of community: the confession of sin is perceived not as shocking or even risky but as normal and admirable.
  15. Evidence of community: the only competition is to outdo one another in showing honor, and everyone wins.
  16. Evidence of community: the manly men speak openly of their love and admiration for one another. No jokey put-downs. Deeply sincere.
  17. Evidence of community: everyone can’t wait for Sunday to get here.
  18. Evidence of community: disruptive people are not ignored but are confronted by the elders.
  19. Evidence of community: a big church feels like a small church. Warm-hearted belonging doesn’t require intimacy; it creates intimacy.

Which one(s) stood out to you. Where do you see yourself and your church excelling? Where do you see room for improvement?