Archive for May, 2014
Russell Moore over at Desiring God has written about the culture of outrage that has seized cable news, social media, and even our churches. As he writes, Christians should be starkly different than our unbelieving neighbors in the ways we act and react, for we are not without hope:
We must learn to lament, because once we no longer lament we turn instead to anger, outrage, blame, and quarrelsomeness. The louder and more frantic the anger, the more we feel as though we’re really showing conviction and grit.
This is made all the more problematic when it’s easy to make a living out of perpetual rage, even if the only media outlet one has is a Twitter or Facebook feed. After all, nothing signals conviction and passion in this age more than the art of being theatrically offended.
But the gospel teaches otherwise.
The problem with carnal anger and outrage is that it is one of the easiest sins to commit, all the while convincing oneself that it’s faithfulness. After all, how many angry, divisive, perpetually outraged Christians are convinced that they are Old Testament prophets, calling down fire from heaven?
The prophets teach us that there is, in fact, a time to call down fire from heaven. But you had better make sure that God has called you to direct that fire to fall. If not, then you’re acting like a prophet all right — a prophet of Baal, screaming and raving for fire that never falls (1 Kings 18:29). No doubt, James and John believed themselves to be well within the spirit of Elijah when they wanted to call down fire from heaven on the Christ-rejecting villages of Samaria. Jesus wanted nothing to do with that spirit.
Rage itself is no sign of authority, prophetic or otherwise.
Read the rest here.
If you weren’t with us on Sunday a few weeks ago to witness—yes, I said, witness—this year’s VBS volunteer recruiting video, then you missed a profound experience. Here it is. It will make you want to sign up to help with ten things.
[RSS and email readers, click here to view this video]
For a recap, we have openings on our many special force task units (i.e. areas of service): crafts, Bible story tellers, games, drama, singing, teachers, safety, snacks, meal-prep, clean-up, decorations, nursery.
This year’s VBS will take place between July 14-18. Click here for more information and to register your children or to volunteer.
Who thinks about sleep?
We don’t think about it when we’re sleeping, and when we’re awake we’re thinking about other things most of the time. We think about it when we need it. But who really thinks about sleep past that? If sleep was important enough for God to build into his creation, and to give us day and night for a rhythm, presumably, for sleep, then sleep is worth thinking about. It’s worth thinking about because it’s worth doing right and it’s something for which we should give praise to God through proper stewardship and enjoyment.
On the spiritual dimension of getting enough sleep, Psalm 127:2 put’s it beautifully: “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” Along these lines, here are some words on the spiritual consequences of sleep from two productive men:
Doubt may be fostered by sleep deprivation. If you keep burning the candle at both ends, sooner or later you will indulge in more and more mean cynicism—and the line between cynicism and doubt is a very thin one….If you are among those who become nasty, cynical, or even full of doubt when you are missing your sleep, you are morally obligated to try to get the sleep you need. We are whole, complicated beings; our physical existence is tied to our spiritual well-being, to our mental outlook, to our relationships with others, including our relationship with God. Sometimes the godliest thing you can do in the universe is get a good night’s sleep—not pray all night, but sleep. I’m certainly not denying that there may be a place for praying all night; I’m merely insisting that in the normal course of things, spiritual discipline obligates you get the sleep your body need. (Scandalous, 147)
Sleep is a daily reminder from God that we are not God. Once a day God sends us to bed like patients with a sickness. The sickness is a chronic tendency to think we are in control and that our work is indispensable. To cure us of this disease God turns us into helpless sacks of sand once a day. (“A Brief Theology of Sleep“)
For more resources on sleep, check out these links, but not if it’s past your bed time:
- “Three Reasons to Get Some Sleep,” Jonathan Parnell
- “A Brief Theology of Sleep,” John Piper
- “Why We Really Sleep In,” Tony Reinke
- “50 Good Reasons to Sleep Longer,” David Murray
This past Sunday, Sandy Beauchamp, Tim Bradley, Ryan Kelly, and Nathan Sherman hosted a panel discussion with parents of youth on the topic of our engagement with technology, devices, and social media. In proportion to how much we engage with tech, our thinking about that engagement is actually quite small. For Christians, this is an important context in which to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind.
To that end, after Sunday’s panel, Ryan drafted the following 20 questions to help us evaluate our use of technology.
- Is this device/app a tool or an idol? Is it serving me or am I serving it? Am I exercising dominion over it, or does it have dominion over me?
- What happens when I give up _________ (device/app) for a day? Do I even know?
- Does it serve/promote God or self? What’s the %?
- Does it serve others or me? What’s the %?
- Am I mindlessly following the world’s trends or am I thoughtfully analyzing, monitoring, evaluating, and adjusting my usage? Simply put, am I asking enough questions?
- Am I often living life through a device or an app (live-tweeting, Instagraming, Facebooking) rather than enjoying life through human eyes?
- Have my relationships becoming more shallow (even if I have more of them because of social media)?
- Am I growing less comfortable and/or less capable with face-to-face communication?
- Is my phone a crutch in more socially challenging environments?
- Am I doing confrontation or otherwise hard conversations through email or another electronic medium?
- Am I growing in true knowledge, wisdom, and discernment more than just bits of information, headlines, factoids? In other words, is my concentration, interest, and pursuit of “substance” growing or waning?
- Has picking up my phone, opening it, checking apps, etc, become thoughtless or merely instinctual?
- Am I setting purposeful limitations and boundaries on my tech use, or am I approaching tech-use with sheer pragmatism and/or hedonism?
- Does the fear of “missing out” on what’s going on socially significantly drive my use of tech? What’s behind that fear emotionally and spiritually?
- Am I confusing my true identity with the public identity I portray through social media? (Note: Our real lives are often uglier than the idyllic life we portray, but our identity in Christ is far greater than anything we could capture with social media.)
- Am I making public things that should be kept private? What parameters have I determined for what not to share?
- What does the biblical virtue of modesty look like on ___________ (app)? (Note: modesty relates to skin and clothes, but also to speech and attitude.)
- How might 1 Thes. 4:11-12 (“…aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, …so that you may walk properly before outsiders…”) apply to my use of social media?
- Am I evaluating my “need” for and time on social media in relation to my need for and time in Bible and prayer?
- Will this next tweet, photo, text, or post demonstrate love for my God and love for my neighbor (Matt. 22:37-40)?
At Wednesday night’s Lord’s Supper service we played a video testimony produced for a conference recently held in Louisville, KY, Together for The Gospel.
Watch, and remember Paul’s words from Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”
[RSS and email readers, click here to view this video]