I Don’t Love Like I Should – Episode #5

Jesus taught us to love others extravagantly, like He did. After a recent retreat and funeral, I’ve come to realize I don’t love others as fully as Christ taught us.

In today’s podcast, I share two recent stories from my life about a recent High School church camp retreat and seminar that I helped lead, and a funeral of a pastor I knew that has caused me to re-examine my own life, and my capacity to love others as Jesus loved others.

On a scale of 1 to 10, after some significant soul searching, I’d rank my ability to love others as Christ taught to be somewhere around a 6. I feel such is embarrassingly low as someone who has been to Bible college and seminary and has been involved in the life and ministry of the church for many years now.

I thought I was doing better than that. After all, I don’t actively hate anyone. I don’t have a bitter or unforgiving spirit. I try to look out “for the least of these,” and try to actively love those I perceive to be my enemies.

But a recent funeral changed my opinion on how well I’m doing. At this funeral of a former youth pastor I knew from a church I attended for a couple years, I heard all these amazing stories that people gave regarding this pastor about what an amazing contagious love and joy this man had for others.

And these stories weren’t just the “everyone say something nice about the dead” type of stories you hear at funerals. These stories were too specific, and were volunteered easily by many. And I knew these stories to be true, because from my own interactions with this pastor, I knew him already to be an exceedingly loving and joyous man. He simply radiated the love and joy of Christ towards others.

So I thought, what if I were to die today, and people attended my funeral. Could they say the same things about me? I imagined what that would look like. I just imagined what people would say about me. They might use adjectives like funny, bold, smart, ambitious, serious, etc..

But would they say I was full of love for my fellow man?

I concluded they would not. My wife might say I was a loving person. And so might SOME of my family. But what about everyone else?

I don’t think they would.

Nobody would confuse my love with a Christ like extravagant love. Such really hit me hard.

In my podcast I outline 3 things that limit our ability to love others:

  1. Selfishness
  2. Indifference
  3. Fear

And I also outline 3 things that can help us to grow in our capacity to love:

  1. The attitude of Christ
  2. The vision to see people as we ought
  3. Bulldog tenacity

Please consider listening above to the podcast to hear these ideas fully fleshed out.

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What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up? – Episode #4

Early in school, most of us were asked the seemingly simple question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And as time went by, we increasingly became forced to develop senses of purpose and calling, and how that translates into an occupation capable of paying the bills, and what it means for our identity as people.

In today’s podcast, I explore how we are asking the wrong questions, and confuse our purpose with our occupation. I also show how we need to be asking better questions. Instead of asking “What’s my calling, what’s my purpose, and what’s my ministry?” we need to ask “What’s God’s calling, God’s purposes, and how can I participate in them?”

Starting with Romans 8:28-29, I show how no matter what myriad of occupations we may hold in our lifetime, occupations which may fluctuate dramatically and be wildly different than anything we set out to be as children, that ultimately, all of us God has called to be “conformed to the image of His Son.”

And from there we need to learn to distinguish between purpose and occupation. For our purposes are eternal, and will never change. However, our occupation is always contextual, and may change from age to age depending on our stage of life, our skills and our talents, and what the market may ultimately have need of from someone who has our unique talent and skill-set.

To Hell with the Rich! – Episode #3

As Christians in America, we feel pretty cozy with the idea of wealth and prosperity. So much so that we’ve created a “prosperity gospel” in which we declare that Jesus not only wants us make us wealthy, but that He wants us to pursue wealth and all the material blessings of our society. In my latest podcast, I contrast this idea with a sermon that protestant reformer John Calvin once gave on the 8th commandment, in which he openly decries the pursuit of wealth, and how his sermon takes us back to a time in which serious minded Christians challenged the notion that Jesus encouraged us to become wealthy and to pursue wealth.

Indeed, when we look more broadly at the teachings of the Scripture regarding wealth, we see a lot of things that I think would make guys like Dave Ramsey, T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, and Steven Furtick blush in embarrassment. Instead of having a comfortable relationship with wealth, there are many instances throughout the Scriptures, and especially the New Testament, in which we are warned sternly about the dangers of wealth and pursuing prosperity.

Consider Scriptures such as Luke 6:24, in which Jesus said “Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your comfort in full!” In this sermon, Jesus warned us that wealth, instead of being a sign of God’s favor towards us, could be a warning signal that something is wrong with our souls, and that God is judging you by giving you all your possible eternal comfort in the present. “Woe” is a strong word in the Bible, and is not to be taken lightly. It’s a powerful word of lament and warning about impending judgment. In effect, when Jesus makes woe against the rich, His language is so forceful that He might as well be saying “To hell with you who are rich!”

That’s some pretty strong language if you ask me. And it’s not something we should take lightly. Nor should we take lightly the numerous other Scriptures in which Jesus and the apostles warn about the dangers of wealth and prosperity. Jesus reminds us elsewhere in the gospels that we should never hoard our money into barns, lest our soul be required of us. Jesus warns us that you cannot serve both God and wealth, and that the two are masters that will divide the affections of our heart. And instead of looking at the wealthy as the individual whom God has blessed, Jesus reminds us that God has blessed the poor.

Looking at 1 Timothy 6:8-11, we see how the apostle Paul calls us to live our lives in which we are content to have food and clothing. We should strive to live our lives in simplicity, modesty, and frugality. Instead of pursuing wealth and endangering our souls, Paul encourages us to “flee from these things” and instead calls on us to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Our faith as Christians, even Christians living in America, is to be free from the “love of money, which is the root of all evil.”

That’s not to say we can’t have some nice things and enjoy the fruits of our labor and other creature comforts. And that’s not to say money can’t be a form of God’s blessing on our lives. But, even when it is, as Christians we ought to have a very uncomfortable relationship with wealth and prosperity. We should be as cozy with wealth as we are in handling a stick of dynamite. Wealth is something that should give us pause for consideration on where we actually stand in our relationship with God, and not just assume that because we are wealthy and successful that such is a divine stamp of approval on our lives. For as Jesus warned, such wealth could be a sign of our eternal destruction.

In this podcast, I also examine the implications of a recently popular Instagram account called “PreachersNseakers” and in which some very popular and wealthy preachers are on display wearing the latest and greatest (and most expensive) in fashion, including shoes that range from several hundred to several thousand dollars, and what lessons we can learn from this disturbing trend.

Marriage Is Stupidly Easy – Episode #2

Our culture regularly says “Marriage is hard!” And in light of all the good marriages we’ve all known to turn bad, it’s not hard to see why so many people feel this way. But in spite of the many challenges marriage may face, I don’t adhere to this popular creed our society believes regarding marriage. In fact, I believe marriage is actually easy, and stupidly so.

In this week’s podcast, I challenge the claim that marriage is hard. That’s not to say marriage won’t face very real challenges, and even end in complete disaster. Marriages can definitely go sour and do so every day.

But I don’t believe the problems that marriages face have anything to do with marriage itself. For God is the author of marriage, and He created it from the beginning of this world to be good, and it is something He blessed. God setup marriage to be amazing and as easy as breathing.

Marriage only gets hard because we come to it with our cultural baggage. Because we come to marriage believing it is hard, we create a self-fulfilling prophecy and make marriage the very thing we believe it to be.

Marriage only gets hard because we come to marriage as the sons and daughters of Adam, and instead of embracing the good thing God made it to be, in a selfless union in which we give all of ourselves to another as a gift, we look out for ourselves and our needs, and behave selfishly.

So, the failures of marriage have nothing to do with the nature of marriage and the good thing God made it to be. Marriage gets hard because we bring perspectives and attitudes and behaviors to marriage that threatens the good thing that God gave all of mankind.

I Dare To Dream Small – Episode #1

We live in a world that encourages us to “dream big” and “shoot for the stars.” Everyone from politicians to preachers to self-help gurus say we need to be bold visionaries who “change the world” by setting “harry audacious goals.”

Personally, I’m starting to find such talk rather boring and uninspired. And I worry that perhaps, all of our “dreaming big” talk is getting in the way of the small and noteworthy things of value in this life. In a world full of dreamers that want to put a man on the moon and become titans of industry, I dare to dream small. I don’t want to change the world. I simply want to be a better neighbor, love my family, and look out for the marginalized and those in need.

And in the end, when we have to give an account of our lives to God and stand before the Lord in judgment (Matthew 25:31-46), it is the small things we will utlimately have to answer for. We will be judged on the small things that we did for “the least of these,” not on whether or not we fulfilled our big dreams.

Dare to dream small.