Thinking Out Loud

March 30, 2015

Baby Christians Need Time

img 032915A recent conversation proved to remind me that people new to the journey of following Christ often need time in various outward areas. Their inward growth may be great: A love for Jesus, a desire to tell others, and a cultivation of personal discipline in Bible study and devotions. But some things may need more time, such as:

  • Language – If you are directly involved in mentoring the person, then it’s appropriate for you to try to help them shape their speech along higher standards. But if you’re not doing discipleship with them, you have to let this go, most times.
  • Spending Priorities – A person may have begun a process of percentage giving to their local church, but still has spending patterns about which you may not approve. This may just be a matter of time and spiritual maturity.
  • Dress – This is usually a discussion about women, though it doesn’t have to be limited to them. In a church setting, sometimes someone needs to be pulled aside on this one, but it has to be done very lovingly so as to not drive the person away.
  • Addictions – The Twelve Step Program meetings, in various forms under various names, are proof that once addicted, battling this can be a lifelong fight. One program which confronts this from a Christian perspective is Celebrate Recovery. Some things however, like smoking, should be considered superficial.
  • Attitudes – Everything from racial prejudice to arrogance could get tossed into this basket. Remember, they’ve not arrived yet, and neither have you. It’s possible that more is caught than taught here, so let your own attitudes be Christlike.

Did I leave some out?

None of us started this walk fully formed, fully arrived; but solid 1:1 discipleship, the influence of a small group, sermons which deal with the lifestyle application of various scriptures, and the conviction of the Holy Spirit will make a difference in what people see.

With people who manifest outward traits that you or others find problematic, remember that God looks on the heart.

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July 9, 2013

Everybody’s Not Doing It

Because we’re inundated with media that tells us that everybody is doing it, the other side should probably have equal time. If you’re on the fringes of the whole God scene, or maybe not even that close, here’s what I think some people I know would tell you…

Materialism

  • many of us are not going to a vacation resort this year
  • what you think is our ‘new’ car actually came off a three-year lease
  • I really don’t want a bigger house, in fact I’d like to downsize
  • those new appliances we ‘bought’ were free with credit card points
  • we think all those electronic gadgets are a waste of money

Boasting

  • yes, we paid off the bank loan, but then we took out another
  • many of us have kids that did not get straight A’s on their report card
  • Harry’s new job was a departmental move, not a promotion
  • the ten pounds I lost wasn’t exercise, they closed the local Krispy Kreme
  • the little league team we coach made the finals only because another team had to forfeit

Ethics

  • there are many people who do not embellish their resumé
  • no, actually I don’t cheat on my income tax
  • since you asked, not everybody looks at porn online
  • sorry, you’re wrong; not everybody tells lies to get ahead
  • if you look carefully, most of us really do drive the speed limit

Sexuality

  • the kids in my core youth group at church actually aren’t sexually active
  • the truth is, I haven’t thought about having an affair with the receptionist
  • I’m not that insecure that I need to flirt to prove I’ve still “got it.”
  • a lot of us women are not interested in reading the fantasy bestseller
  • there are many people who think inward qualities matter more than outward appeal

Anything you’d like to add?

November 29, 2012

Responsibility in the Light of Truth

So there we were walking through the grocery store when I saw a display for 30 cents off those little dessert pies that come in a little cardboard box that I remember from my younger days. I quickly tossed one apple pielet — they’re small so I’m coining a new word right here, right now — and one cherry pielet in our shopping cart.

Not this brand, but you get the idea…

We enjoyed the apple one on Monday night. On Tuesday our evening treat was a square from my wife’s butter tart bar. If you live in the U.S., and do not know that uniquely Canadian experience called a butter tart, you are less likely to know the non-tart version.

Then Wednesday we returned to the second pie — or as I hear they’re now called, pielet — the cherry one.

That was when I discovered these are not the lunchbox treats of my childhood. They look the same. They taste the same. However…

The modern version comes with a twist which appears on the packaging. What we have now that we didn’t have then is nutritional labeling. My beloved treat apparently contains something like 150% of my daily allotment for fat, based on a serving size of one bite.

Okay, it’s closer to 46% based on a serving size of one piece; but this is a guy who generally won’t touch anything if any of the nutritional percentages are in the teens, let alone 46.

Turns out the thing about these confectionery delights that I enjoy so much is trying to kill me. I could have happily eaten several dozen of these in one sitting, but I couldn’t responsibly digest the dessert after digesting the information outlined in the white box on the back of the package.

That’s when it hit me.

To understand this principle is to understand the book of Romans in the Bible. Paul is saying that apart from the law, we don’t know we are missing the mark with God, but once the law is introduced, we suddenly find ourselves confronting a standard or a plumb line by which our lives are measured.

The law wasn’t intended to be God’s final word, but even in an age of grace, the law shows us where we’re falling short. Once we have that knowledge — that truth — we’re responsible for how we live with that information.

…Just as I am now responsible for how I live knowing that those fruit pies just aren’t good for me.

You could say they’re sinful.

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