February Links

For February, here the thought-provoking, interesting, biblical, or just plain goofy links for the month.  Just FYI, these are gathered from my perusing of the internet, from blogs I read, from what friends on Facebook find and post that I think are interesting, and from what gets sent to me by others who look for the good, the bad, and the ugly (but SFW) on teh intarwebz.

So if you have some time, enjoy sifting through some of the best stuff I have seen over the past month or so.

Interesting Biblical Stuff

Shock of all shocks, Rob Bell has ignited a firestorm with his upcoming book.  For a strong counterpoint to that link from Justin Taylor, Rachel Held Evans has a VERY different take on the issue.  Last I looked, Taylor’s post had north of 1,100 comments on it.  Naturally, we will all have to wait and see what the book actually SAYS.  But frankly, that video scares me not because of the questions asked (I think the questions are legit) but because the way they are asked certainly leads the viewer to think that Bell will argue for universalism.  That is leaving historic, orthodox Christianity and that is sad and scary for the 60,000 people a week who listen to him.  There is more to come on this one I am sure.

This is a beautiful post from Michael Patton about how much a few small words meant to him as a boy.  We need this reminder of how we speak of others.

Everyone who goes to church needs a good reminder from time to time about what we look like to visitors.

Go read this great WSJ article about business to the glory of God.  ABF will definitely be digging into vocation in the near future.

Relevant Magazine asks, What’s the Point of Marriage? It’s a great question…

Thought-Provoking

A realistic guide to love.  There are lots of great tidbits in there.

It always pays to have class.  General Chiarelli, we salute your graciousness, sir!  Here is a different story about having class and being a Good Samaritan that should make us all remember how to act.

It never ceases to amaze me how sexualized young girls are becoming.  And this is not in spite of their parents, but BY their parents! /facepalm

The last surviving soldier of WWI passed away today. Farewell Frank Buckles; thank you for your sacrifice Doughboy.  We are losing WWII vets at around 1,000 a day right now, so take the time while you still have it to thank the WWII vets in your life.

Funny, Cool, or Ridiculous

This video made me laugh SO hard…

You’ll like this alot. And if you haven’t heard of Hyperbole and a Half, the link to the original idea is here. (Fair warning: Allie can use bad words…)

Best. Super Bowl. Commercial. EVER.

I love Top Gear, and the BBC version is hilarious.  I have always wanted to do this to a Prius…

But Counseling is for Sissies! (Part 3: Mentors)

Part 1 of this series may be found here; Part 2 is here

Yesterday I shared the concept of mentorship with my students at ACU.  From the chagrined looks and the blank stares I could tell that this was a topic that not many had taken seriously, which really made my heart hurt.  How much of the Christian life do we miss out on by not taking advantage of the godly influence of mentorship?

If you’re a fan of the NFL, you’ve seen this in play recently.  Mike Vick did some heinous stuff, and part of his reinstatement after prison was having Tony Dungy as his mentor.  While he hasn’t been perfect, he has cleaned up a lot, made amends to many, and just won the AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award.  I think his relationship with a godly man like Dungy was a big part of that.

I say this knowing that it sounds like hyperbole, but it isn’t: A mentoring relationship is likely the most important relationship after marriage that any Christian builds.  Without mentorship and guidance and help, it is highly unlikely that we can be everything God wants us to be. 

In the previous posts in this series I mentioned the circle of family and the circle of friends, but they can only help us so much.  They are so close to us that at times they can’t help us grow in Christ.  Often they have to be careful not to say too much, or they have to stay out of a situation so that they don’t get backlash or hurt our feelings.  Mentors are required to get in our business a little, step on our toes when we need it, and give us guidance about how to apply biblical truth to our lives.

Mentorship was critical to the Apostle Paul:

“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

 
He wanted the people in his circle of influence to have a mentor.  He wanted them to have someone who they could see following Christ, not just hear about it.  He wanted them to have a pattern or mold to follow.  And he expected his great protégé, Timothy, to follow that pattern and mentor others as well:
 

“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)

 
Mentoring is so INCREDIBLY critical to a successful walk with Christ.  Lest you think that I am just whistling Dixie, I can tell you from experience the power that mentorship has on my own life.  I know what it is to have someone pour Christ into me by example.  Mentorship is CRITICAL.  Mentors give us “handles” to hold onto in our Christian walk by showing us what authentic Christianity looks like.  They help us see issues as God sees them and speak biblical truth into our lives.
 
So if you do not have a mentor, how do you get one?
 

  1. Pray and ask God for help in finding a good mentor (or two) to follow.  Ask Him for wisdom and for discernment in finding someone you can follow.
  2. Look for someone who is “the real deal” as a follower of Christ.  In 1 Cor 11:1 Paul says “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”  Find someone to imitate who is imitating Christ! (as a caveat, that means you have to know who Jesus is and what His priorities are)
  3. Get closer to them.  Be proactive and take some steps to get to know them.  There are hypocrites out there, so get closer while continuing to evaluate a potential mentor.  See how they relate to their family, their job, their church, etc.  Look to be sure they are not a fake, which means finding their weaknesses and flaws too.  There is no such thing as perfect, but a mentor should be walking with Christ honestly.
  4. The more you see the good in them, ask them to speak into your life.  See what is important to them and ask for advice.  Get some input on how you can be more like Jesus.  That might be over coffee or after church or on the phone.  It can be formal or informal, but it must be intentional.
  5. Check their advice against Scripture and take what is good.  Apply it and see what happens.  That builds trust and confidence, and even if it doesn’t work perfectly that can be more of a chance to continue to build and grow your relationship.
  6. Lather, rinse, repeat #3-6.

Mentorship is a critical component of our walk with Christ.  Without it, we will have a terrible time in walking with the Lord. 

How about you?  If you have a mentor, how did you build the relationship?  What attracted you to your mentor?  How does your mentoring relationship work?  If not, what is holding you back?

Dead Right

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We have a saying in the motorcycle world: it’s quite possible to be “dead right.”  I ride in Phoenix and the drivers here are not so much aggressive as thoughtless and unaware of their surroundings.  Demanding the right-of-way and taking the attitude that I will just take what belongs to me is a great way to wind up as a statistic.  In other words, there is “right” and then there is “dead right.”  Every decision on a motorcycle has to be made through the grid of whether or not the rider is willing to be “dead right.”  You might have the right to do something, but will asserting that right be beneficial or will it lead to death?

This is very similar to the way that Paul viewed his ministry.  In the midst of a discussion on his rights as an Apostle of Christ in 1 Corinthians 9, he says this: “Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ. “ (1 Corinthians 9:12)  He knew that using his rights would lead to hindrance of the gospel, which he couldn’t stand.  He would rather be wronged than be “dead right”!

How often I have seen people willing to be “dead right” in their relationships and in their decisions regarding life.  I get to see the tragic wrecks of “dead right” decisions all the time, and frankly it breaks my heart to see.  Where have I seen it?

  1. Parents who have a “right” to enjoy their leisure time any way they please exposing their kids to neglect, to harm emotionally or psychologically, or to unhealthy habits like alcoholism or similar habits.
  2. Spouses who demand their spousal rights.  This might be a husband who demands his wife submit to him regardless of his decisions, or a wife who demands sexual response from her husband at difficult times.  It might be a spouse who demands a spotlessly kept house or a perfect financial record.
  3. Friends who demand that those around them walk perfectly with Christ and cannot show them grace when they are wrong.  They must always be proven right in every discussion of doctrine or practice.
  4. Bosses who have inordinate expectations and employees who take advantage of company policies.
  5. Christians who demand their rights to one matter of conscience or another (drinking is a common one, as is movies with questionable content) as their “liberty in Christ” when around others.

All of these, and many more, may be “rights” that we possess, but that does not make them right to use.  We, too, can be “dead right” in our demands on others.

How about you?  Where have you been in danger of being “dead right” in the past?  How has God grown you out of that?

“Love” is such a misunderstood word…

Today is Valentine’s Day.  Or “Singles Awareness Day” if you’re tired of the mushy-gushy talk.  We’ve made a holiday out of love, and Americans will spend MILLIONS of dollars today on flowers, chocolate, balloons, cards, and dinner to celebrate how much they love someone. 

But what, pray tell, does it mean to love someone?  We have been told that to love someone is to feel warm and fuzzy for them.  It’s being twitterpated.  Having affectionate feelings or getting lightheaded in the presence of another.  Not being able to control your emotions for them.

Really?  That’s not God’s definition of what love is.  Check His definition of what it means to love someone:

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ” (1 Corinthians 13:1–7, NAS)

 
Look at what Paul says biblical love is.
 

  1. It’s patient.  Love = patience.  How patient are you with those around you, especially those closest to you?
  2. It’s kind and not jealous.  Biblical love doesn’t demand all of the attention of the loved one.
  3. It does not brag and is not jealous.  How much Valentine’s Day celebratory work is done to show others how much we love our significant other or to keep them close to us so no one else takes them?
  4. It does not act unbecomingly. Love doesn’t make an idiot of itself or act in ways that belittle or shame the loved one if they don’t live up to the love given.
  5. It does not seek its own.  Simply put, love looks out for others at its own expense.  It is other-serving, not self-serving.
  6. It is not provoked.  Love can’t be goaded into getting angry and calling the whole thing off.
  7. It does not take into account a wrong suffered. In other words, love is unconditional.  It’s not give and take, it’s give and give.
  8. It does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.  Biblical love never okays offending God.  Instead true biblical love is grounded in and flows from the truth of God.

So with God’s definition in mind, how are you doing this Love Day?  Biblical love is not an emotion; it’s an action and a way of life.  How can you shine a little love into the life of those around you, whether the relationship is romantic or not?  And what part of the definition of love can use the most work in your own life?

The Next Step

“Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more.” (1 Thessalonians 4:1, NAS)

 
I love these words of Paul’s.  I am studying the New Testament with my students at Arizona Christian University, and yesterday we dug into 1 Thessalonians.  The tone of this letter is so much different than his tone in Galatians.  He was flat out mad at the Galatians for their legalism, but it seems that the Thessalonians were doing a great job.  They were pleasing God and walking with Him well.  They had it going on!  I just imagine them thinking that compared to many other churches (the Galatians and Corinthians come to mind), they were awesome and could just keep at what they were doing.
 
So what was Paul’s response? “Excel still more.”  He didn’t want them to rest on their laurels or read their own press clippings.  They thought that they were on the mountain top, but to Paul they were at base camp!  He was pleased with their progress but not content with their situation.  There was still more work to do if they were going to be everything that God wanted them to be.
 
I’m trying to do this in my walk with God as well as in my other areas of life.  I have run 3 half-marathons in the past year, which is great.  But now it’s time to “excel still more.”  So between now and June I will lose 15 pounds and on June 5th plan to run my first FULL marathon. (pray for me…it appears I have lost my mind!)  Our church is doing well in so many areas, but now it is time for me to “excel still more” in leading our staff, empowering our ministry leaders, and building authentic relationships with more people in our congregation.   I made some changes to my classes at ACU and Phoenix Seminary this semester too, so time will tell if they make the classes better.
 
How can you “excel still more”?
 

  1. In your walk with Christ.  What one area do you think that God wants you to change today to be more like Him?  How can you take a strength of yours in your walk with God and make it even stronger?
  2. In your relationships. Is your marriage good?  Your parenting?  Your friendships?  Where are you meeting standards, but want to change that “C” into an “A”?  What is one step you can take today to move in that direction?
  3. In your vocation. If you’re good at your job, what separates you from being great at it?  Would 10% more focused effort lead to 25% more success?  Can you be more agreeable to coworkers, or easier to lead as a team member?  Can you be a better model for those you supervise?
  4. In your finances. If your most successful friend from a financial standpoint looked over your finances, where would they say that you could make some changes to strengthen your giving, your saving, or your spending?

Doing good enough, in God’s eyes, is…well…not good enough.  Where can you “excel still more” today to the glory of God?