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September 20, 2011 / Scott W Thompson

Top 5

So I think that listing your favorite books can be kind of a blow-hardy move sometimes but I was forced to do it. I can’t say by whom but his or her name rhymes with Bat Toss Bell.

These are all spiritually oriented and in full disclosure I do read other types of books.

Blue Like Jazz by  Donald Miller (I wish I would have written this book)

Heaven by Randy Alcorn (A GREAT encouragement)

Deep Like Me by Rich Bundschuh (Humble confessions from a man of God)

Hurt 2.0 by Chap Chark  (Explains lots about young people)

A Praying Life by Paul Miller (A life changer in how you and Jesus talk)

Enjoy!

September 12, 2011 / Matt Boswell

Marital Compatibility

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few weeks ago we were looking at Jesus’ take on divorce and remarriage. One of the things we hit on in this was the popular notion that people must be compatible to make it work. This compatibility mandate is often stressed before marriage – usually by the unhappily married or the divorced and remarried populace – with the warning, “Make sure you choose the right person.” Yet is the issue “choosing the right person” or “choosing to be the right person?” Additionally, who defines what a right person is and what occurs if the person stops being right? With that in mind I offer up this great article from Phil Smidt that helps to set the record a bit more straight. The Truth About Marital Compatibility.

August 18, 2011 / Matt Boswell

Mission In The Workplace

Steve Mount sent this to me the other day from Josh Reeves blog. I thought it was an excellent list of simple ways to live as an everyday missionary at work.

30 Ways To Bless Your Workplace

A few weeks ago I posted some very practical ideas for engaging your neighborhood with the Gospel. To follow that up I have compiled 30 ideas for engaging people in your workplace. The workplace is an everyday context where many people spend the majority of their time. It is important for us to know what it looks like to bring gospel intentionality to our jobs. Hopefully this will help spark a few ideas for connecting with and blessing your coworkers.

1. Instead of eating lunch alone, intentionally eat with other co-workers and learn their story.

2. Get to work early so you can spend some time praying for your co-workers and the day ahead.

3. Make it a daily priority to speak or write encouragement when someone does good work.

4. Bring extra snacks when you make your lunch to give away to others.

5. Bring breakfast (donuts, burritos, cereal, etc.) once a month for everyone in your department.

6. Organize a running/walking group in the before or after work.

7. Have your missional community/small group bring lunch to your workplace once a month.

8. Create a regular time to invite coworkers over or out for drinks.

9. Make a list of your co-workers birthdays and find a way to bless everyone on their birthday.

10. Organize and throw office parties as appropriate to your job.

11. Make every effort to avoid gossip in the office. Be a voice of thanksgiving not complaining.

12. Find others that live near you and create a car pool.

13. Offer to throw a shower for a co-worker who is having a baby.

14. Offer to cover for a co-worker who needs off for something.

15. Start a regular lunch out with co-workers (don’t be selective on the invites).

16. Organize a weekly/monthly pot luck to make lunch a bit more exciting.

17. Ask someone who others typically ignore if you can grab them a soda/coffee while you’re out.

18. Be the first person to greet and welcome new people.

19. Make every effort to know the names of co-workers and clients along with their families.

20. Visit coworkers when they are in the hospital.

21. Bring sodas or work appropriate drinks to keep in your break room for coworkers to enjoy. Know what your co-workers like.

22. Go out of your way to talk to your janitors and cleaning people who most people overlook.

23. Find out your co-workers favorite music and make a playlist that includes as much as you can (if suitable for work).

24. Invite your co-workers in to the service projects you are already involved in.

25. Start/join a city league team with your co-workers.

26. Organize a weekly co-working group for local entrepreneurs at a local coffee shop.

27. Start a small business that will bless your community and create space for mission.

28. Work hard to reconcile co-workers who are fighting with one another.

29. Keep small candy, gum, or little snacks around to offer to others during a long day.

30. Lead the charge in organizing others to help co-workers in need.

Would love to hear other ways you have connected with the people you work with.

These are very practical ideas for what to do but we also need to consider how and why we do it. Here is a helpful sermon from Jonathan Dodson on this subject – LINK: EXISTING TO WORK

August 9, 2011 / Matt Boswell

Killing Moralism

Joe Thorn has offered up some great thoughts on how the Commands of God must be deeply rooted in the Cross of Christ. You can check out his blog here or simply read the following article.

 

Many Christians have grown up in the church on moralistic preaching; that is, preaching that calls for obedience without connecting the commands of God to the cross of Christ. This disconnect is dangerous, potentially leading hearers into either self-loathing or self-righteousness. Moralistic preaching is often the ground in which the devil sows the seeds of legalism. Of course biblical preaching will always be relevant and call for a response, but how can we preach the commands of God without reducing our messages to moralism? Is the key to simply jump from the command “pray without ceasing” to the reality that Jesus suffered a vicarious, penal atonement? Well, that’s one way to do it. But, let me suggest three ways of preaching the commands of God that help us avoid the trap of moralism.

Show the God of the Command

God’s laws are not arbitrary, but stem from who he is. And, because we are made in his image and for his glory, he gives us commands that reflect his character. So, when holding out the commands of God we must point beyond the command to the God who gives it.

For example, God commands us to be holy, because he is holy. He commands us to speak the truth and not bear false witness against our neighbor, because he is a God of truth who cannot lie. He commands us to be faithful, for he trustworthy and keeps his word. He calls us to love, because he is love. Naked commands, separated from the character of God, lack both weight and compelling beauty. Showing the God of the command moves us from preaching moralism to unpacking theology. It moves us beyond the command to the God who gives it.

Show the Grace Behind the Command

It is important to note, when speaking to believers, that the commands of God are given to his people who live in a covenant relationship with him by grace. When the Lord gives Israel the law he first establishes who he is and what he has done for them, saying, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Exodus 20:2 ESV) He is the God who has rescued his people. He is our God. We must always remind our people (and first, ourselves) that God commands us to act—not that we might become good, but that we might know and show him to be good. God does not reveal his will so that we can build our confidence in our ability to keep it, but so that we can exalt and exult in the God we know by grace. Showing the grace behind the command moves us from fearful performance-based religion to a delight in the will and ways of God.

Show the Gospel Above the Command

Once the commands of God are laid out, and people can feel their weight and significance, it is important to point them to the gospel above the command. We need to work to help our people see three truths:

1.  Jesus atoned for our failure in this command. (Col. 1:3; 2:13, 14; Eph. 2:16; Rom. 5:9)

The commands of God are pure and beautiful. They are a perfect reflection of his character and will, and we stand in stark contrast to that revelation. We are spiritual failures who could be justly condemned for our sin. But, our failure is not the end. Jesus has fully atoned for our sins through his death on the cross, and by it we are reconciled to God.

2. Jesus fulfilled this command for us. (1 Cor. 1:30, 31; Rom. 5:19; Phil. 3:9)

Not only has God forgiven us of our unrighteousness, but he has given us the righteousness of Jesus, declaring that in him we are holy and blameless. In every point where we have failed, Jesus has been faithful. In this very command, Jesus was not only righteous, but was righteous for us.

3.  Jesus empowers us to live out this command. (Phil. 2:12, 13; Eph. 6:10-20; 1 Pet. 4:11)

The good news of the gospel is that in Christ we are not only delivered rom the curse of the law, but also empowered by God to keep it. Relatively. We remain sinners, and find ourselves unable to loose ourselves from sin’s presence this side of the resurrection, but God is at work in his people to enable us to walk in his ways. You really can live a godly life. One in which you acknowledge and repent of your sin, and submit yourself to will and ways of God through power that comes by the Holy Spirit.

So yes, we can and must preach the whole counsel of God.  We must call men and women to obey, but not for approval, nor apart from the truth of the God who gives and fulfills the law for us. I believe if we do this when teaching the commands of God we kill moralism and will, by the grace of God, see conviction and encouragement among the people.

August 8, 2011 / Ryan Habig

The Physical Side of Worship

When we hear or think about worship, usually the first thing that comes to mind is singing. This isn’t surprising and isn’t necessarily even wrong, because in the Bible and throughout history the people of God have gathered for the purpose of singing God’s praises.  However, if our understanding of worship stops there, it is incomplete.

I think a lot of times when we begin to speak of physical expression in worship, instantly a lot of us shoot up red flags of hesitation pretty quickly.  Whether it be our upbringing that church should tilt more towards the reverent than the expressive, or simply our insecurities of what others around us may think, I think the tendency is to simply err on the side of little or no physical involvement when it comes to our worship.  We say “well, that’s not my personality, and besides, God just looks at the heart anyway” and are content to leave it at that.

Yet when we look at Scripture we see that over and over again God expects His people to express themselves physically in worship.  Far from our faith and worship being simply an intellectual engagement with biblical truth, we are told to “honor God with our bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:20), indicating that God cares very much about what we do with ourselves physically.  In fact, the biblical words that we most often translate today as “worship” contained physical expressions of bowing or bending embedded in their original meaning.  Throughout the Bible we see models of praise including singing (Psalm 33:1, Ephesians 5:19), shouting (Ezra 3:11), bowing (Exodus 12:27, Psalm 95:6), clapping (Psalm 47:1), falling prostrate (Job 1:20), lifting hands (Psalm 134:2), dancing (Psalm 149:3, 2 Samuel 6:14), and standing in awe (Habakkuk 3:2).

If we find ourselves second-guessing acts of physical expression in worship due to what others around us may think, then it becomes a simple question of “how proud am I of Jesus?”  I would venture to suggest that none of us, when our favorite team scores the winning touchdown, would be afraid to jump up, yelling and pumping our fists in the air because of what others in the room might think about us.  Yet if we’re that uninhibited when it comes to something as insignificant as a sports team, how much more should we be able to get excited about our Savior – the One who has literally brought us from death to life?

So what does this mean for us practically?  Should we be clapping, dancing and lifting our hands to each song, every Sunday?  Maybe!  But perhaps a better question might be, is my worship accurately expressing what is in my heart?  I would challenge each of us with two things: 1) First, to honestly examine ourselves and ask the question – “if I find myself NEVER clapping, singing loud, raising my hands, etc…what does that say about the condition of my heart towards God?”  All too often I think we use the phrase “I’m just not really feeling into it today”, or something similar to excuse what is simply spiritual apathy.  Men, how would it go over with your wife if you told her that you couldn’t wash the dishes or help out with the kids today because you weren’t “feeling it”?  God doesn’t command us to praise Him when we feel like it – He commands us to praise Him.  And as we looked at above, this includes the full spectrum of praise.  2) We need to realize that growth in physical expressions of worship is a process.  Just as we were spiritual infants when we first came to Christ, yet are constantly increasing in maturity, so learning how to engage in meaningful physical expressions of worship is something that we mature in over the course of time.  But it has to start somewhere.  Maybe for you, this week it will be as simple as raising a hand in praise during an anthem.  Or maybe it will be singing loud enough for your kids to hear you.  Whatever it is, it will likely feel awkward, undignified, and maybe a bit foolish, but in all of it may our cry resonate with David’s in Psalm 145: “Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise!”

August 3, 2011 / Matt Boswell

Martin Luther on Marriage as a School of Character

“Before I was married,” Martin Luther recalled, “the bed was not made for a whole year and became foul with sweat. But I worked so hard and was so weary I tumbled in without noticing it.” However, when Martin married the runaway nun Katherine Von Bora, whom Luther called Katie, the bed was made, the sheets were changed, and the house was kept clean! But life was not all roses for Luther once he was married. Martin quickly learned that marriage means sacrifice, looking out not only for the needs of yourself but also of your wife and family…. Read the rest of this great article here at The Gospel Coalition.

July 26, 2011 / Ryan Habig

John Piper and the Prosperity Gospel