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Gods Who Are Not God

September 13, 2016

Andy Stanley is currently sharing a series in his church geared towards people who may have walked away from God.

In the message entitled “Gods of the No Testament”, Andy explores several false conceptions of God, which we as the church are often guilty of promoting.

These are versions of God we have been told exist, but in fact do not. These are gods we SHOULD walk away from. For those who have lost faith over these things, there might be reason to reconsider. These versions of God are not God!

Here are the groupings Andy uses. I will insert some of my own thoughts in each one.

Bodyguard God– The god protects from all harm. In this view, God doesn’t allow bad things to happen to good people. This doesn’t hold up to our experience or even that of Jesus. The author of our faith had some pretty bad things happen to him. Christianity started with horrible things happening to a very good person. Many have walked away over personal pain or the suffering of the world when God is viewed through this lens.

Loving the Stranger

July 5, 2016

While rounding a corner on a run in the United States the other day, I came across a Muslim women clad in a headdress and robes. I could see her cower off the sidewalk a bit as this white, American man came plodding her way in middle America. You could sense her apprehension and read her thoughts of “here we go again.”

I greeted her warmly, commenting on the beautiful day. You could visibly see her relax and the tension leave her body.

I’ve been in her position before. I too have been the foreigner in a land and culture which is not my own. I can relate to wishing I could change my nationality or accent in order to blend in. I wouldn’t wear my USA soccer jersey because of the perception of my nation in South Africa.

I have a good friend who is from the local community in South Africa near my home. He organizes a number of after school programs to create hope in the young people.

He regularly tells me stores of how he receives cookie donations from older (insert the race which is economically better off) for his young, poor (insert economically worse off race) kids.

“These folks feel so good about helping these poor kids!”

This friend is an honest voice in my life to point out the sometimes misguided attempts to help people. I’m so grateful for this refreshingly honest voice.

He can tell when people really love those they are serving or if they are merely looking for photo ops or feel good moments.

Jesus is the Center.

We say this phrase often, but when have we last had someone we respect, tell us how this works in their lives?

Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your Heart, all of your Soul, all of your Mind, and all of your Strength.” (Mark 12:30)

So what does that mean?

When I was younger I was told several things reflected having Jesus at the center.

  • Raising your hands signified to my classmates I finally was saved and not one of the Christian school “rebels”.
  • As I got older, I was told being demonstrative and loud in worship was needed to be a leader.
  • In some circles, speaking in tongues publicly is the key.

I remember reading Brother Lawrence’s story of redirecting his thoughts to God once a minute. As I tried to “practice the presence of God”, I never achieved once an hour for the entire day let alone once a minute! An epic fail in keeping Jesus at the center!

Wisdom for All of Life

January 19, 2016

In their new book, 40/40 Vision: Clarifying Your Mission in Midlife, Peter Greer and Greg Lafferty explore a number of issues to which we can all relate. Their book is geared towards those in their 40’s who are facing mid-life and the period of evaluation which goes hand in hand.

The source of wisdom comes from the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes. This makes their book applicable to any age as they explore timeless wisdom in a readable, page turning format with many personal stories and contemporary illustrations.

Areas covered are:

  • Disappointment
  • Fulfillment
  • Giving
  • Rest
  • Friendships and more

As you can see from these topics, this book can impact any age bracket.

The truth included is not complicated. Wisdom never is.

What it does accomplish is to remind us of many simple principles which need to constantly be evaluated in our lives throughout the various seasons of life.