I’ve Told Untruths From the Pulpit!

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Yes, it’s true!

I’ve said things in sermons and from the pulpit that are not true. And I’m probably not even aware of most of them.

But today I learned of one untruth I’m glad to report to you and repent of.

On more than one occasion I’ve reported a “fact” that in fact was not a “fact” at all! I’ve said that Christians experience as much divorce as non-Christians.

Well that’s not true.

Ed Stetzer just posted a great post that reveals otherwise.

Specifically, the research shows that couples who are active in their faith are much less likely to divorce. Catholic couples were 31% less likely to divorce; Protestant couples 35% less likely; and Jewish couples 97% less likely, which in itself is quite impressive, I must say.

So what does this mean for you, for me, and for our churches? I see three takeaways: There will unfortunately still be divorce; discipleship is an integral part of marriage; and we must be careful when quoting statistics.

Click over to his blog and read the rest of his comments. It’s good stuff.

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Happy Entitlement Day!

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If I feel entitled, I complain about the deficiencies of different family members.  If am thankful, I am grateful that I have a family that loves and cares for me.

Am I entitled or thankful? I have to admit that I usually consider myself thankful but if you were to scratch below the surface you would probably find more entitlement that gratitude. I hate that. But the plank is often pretty hard to see.

This morning someone pointed out the plank to me.

Thom Ranier is the president and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources. His blog is full of insightful posts that have been helpful to me. This morning’s post was especially helpful. He shines a spotlight on the subtly distinction between entitlement and thankfulness.

 

Give his short post a read and see where you find yourself, thankful or entitled?

If I feel entitled, I complain about my job.

If I am thankful, I am grateful to have a job.

 

If feel entitled, I complain about the meal I’m eating.
If I am thankful, I am grateful to have food on the table.

 

If I feel entitled, I complain that the government does not do enough for me.
If I am thankful, I ask what I can first do for others.

 

If I feel entitled, I complain about my spouse.
If am thankful, I express gratitude that someone has put up with me all these years.

 

If I feel entitled, I complain about living paycheck to paycheck.
If I am thankful, I am grateful simply to have a paycheck.

 

If I feel entitled, I complain about what’s wrong with my church.
If I am thankful, I am ever grateful for the freedom to worship.

 

If I feel entitled, I complain about the deficiencies of different family members.
If am thankful, I am grateful that I have a family that loves and cares for me.

 

If I feel entitled, I complain about the lousy weather we’re having.
If I am thankful, I am grateful to be a free person regardless of the weather.

 

If I feel entitled, I complain to God about why He is treating me so unfairly.
If I am thankful, I know that I deserve nothing good, that all gifts are an act of grace.

 

Dear Lord, forgive me for my sense of entitlement. Remind me to rejoice in all things, and in all things to be thankful. Remind me to count my blessings. And remind me when my heart begins to stray from thanksgiving to entitlement.

 

You can find his original post here.

Nothing For It

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The story of Abraham’s journey of obedience to sacrifice his son of promise has always intrigued me. I love reading it, thinking about it and seeking to find new depths of truth in it — knowing I’ve really only skimmed the surface. This morning in my reading I found this poem in Charles Stanley’s newsletter and loved it!

Nothing For It

No point trying to sleep that night       Nothing for it but to rise early and saddle the donkey     My son after all was dead     He & I walked beside the beast that bore the wood & the servants who bore the fire     Something must have betrayed me for we talked   not at all   till sundown

On the third day I lifted my eyes to the distant mountain     Here was where the knife must fall     The rest was like a dream     I bound my son who showed complete trust    as I went through the cold motionis of slaughter but my hand was stayed & God showed his provision

On the third day     my son who was dead     was raised again

By D.S. Martin

D.S. Martin’s poetry collection Poiema was a prize winner at the Word Guild Awards. His poems have appeared in Canadian Literature, Christian Century, Relief, Ruminate and many other publications.

We Need People More than We Love them

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Not much time today to get wordy, so just three things that really struck me from “When People are Big and God is Small.” I’d really like to own them in my life.

“To really understand the roots of fear of man, we must begin to ask the right questions. Instead of “How can I feel better about myself and not be controlled by what people think?” a better question is “Why am I so concerned about self-esteem?” or “Why do I have to have someone — even Jesus — think I am great?” (pg 19)

“The most radical treatment for the fear of man is the fear of the Lord. God must be bigger to you than people are. This antidote takes years to grasp; in fact, it will take all of our lives.”
(pg 19)

“Regarding other people, our problem is that we need them (for ourselves) more than we love them (for the glory of God). The task God sets for us is to need them less and love them more. Instead of looking for ways to manipulate others, we will ask God what our duty is toward them.” (pg 19)

The one thing that stuck with me the most is the statement about needing people more than loving them. How does that hit youi?

The Way of Peace

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There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared. It is the great venture. It can never be safe.

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “No Rusty Swords”

Being Known By Their Shame

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I heard that Ted Haggard began his new reality TV show this past weekend. I can’t believe I missed it! (just kidding!) When I heard about the show I had random thoughts about how and why such a show could even be considered much less actually get on the air. Then this morning I came across this post by Carl Trueman that articulated much of what I was thinking.

Ted Haggard

Now some might read this and feel compelled to comment about an absence of grace or ask about the “God of second chances.” What I took from Trueman’s comments was that instead of allowing our mistakes to shape us further into the image of Christ, too many use their mistakes to make a name for themselves. IOW, the fallen person becomes more known for the glory they take from the mistake than for a life restored by Christ and that glorifies Him!

Here’s just a quick excerpt of his comments. To read the whole thing click here.

    “A man who betrays his wife can be forgiven; but I am not sure he can be forgiven for making it an opportunity to further his career. When Haggard talks of acceptance and does it on a TV show, and others cover their sleaze with blog talk of `sins of relational mobility’, is it any wonder that the world looks on with utter contempt?”

God’s grace at work in my life!

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It has been a great season of spiritual growth in my life as of late. I can’t explain it all, I don’t understand it that well. I can’t point to any one thing. Instead I think it is the cumulative effect of lots of things going on in life that play on my sin nature and the fears that constantly try to overwhelm me coupled with my time in the Word and the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.

The result has been peace. Overwhelming peace in the midst of circumstances that just a few weeks ago would have totally sapped away my vitality for ministry, family and life in general. My gratitude for God’s grace is unspeakable. I’m overjoyed at what God is doing in my heart and mind.

“Remember your promise to me; it is my only hope. Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles.”
Psalm 119:49-50

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