The Spiritual Realities of Busyness

February 20, 2009 at 10:39 pm (Biblei-Octopi, Words (Not Mine)) (, , , , , , )

Identify spiritual and cultural encumbrances that may be silently affecting your relationship with God and your effectiveness in completing the work he has put before you. This is a message of freedom from cultural pressures that if left un-confronted will distract and undermine your spiritual growth.

Enclosed is the link to the first in a series of messages from Pastor Micheal Kennedy of Faith Evangelical Free Church in Moline, IL.  If you need a formal introduction, here is Mike’s bio from the church website.

This series of messages serves to enlighten the followers of Christ on the roots of busyness, the effects of materialism and the often un-confronted cultural pressures that have been adopted even in the fabric of the believer’s thought process and the church at large. You are invited to take a humbling look into the principles of Scripture and the life of Christ and how completely different our current mindset is undermining what we often quote as our Christian mission. Allowing God’s word to test and weed out these hindrances, we can operate in the freedom and power of God’s Spirit.

Message 1 “Jesus and Simplicity (part 1)” from Sunday 01-04-09

Sermon Archive note messages entitled “Jesus and Simplicity”

I have a personal connection with Mike Kennedy as I enjoyed his love for God, love for others and practical-sincerity in his approach to Christianity. If you choose to listen through these messages, you may not have the relational context that I enjoy, but you will certainly benefit from the truths that are presented.

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Are You A Man?

February 16, 2009 at 10:07 pm (Biblei-Octopi, Parents, Words (Not Mine)) (, , , , , )

Mark Driscoll: A Study of Man From Genesis 1, 2 & 3

(Link to Audio)

In this study is not only a better understanding of the fall of Adam, the historical and current implications of that fall, but also a clear call to Biblical Manhood.

Noteworthy are the expositions on the spiritual priesthood of every man/father, the call to responsibility to be a man both for the unmarried as well as the married and clear directives/consequences of not fulfilling the Biblical call to be a man as God intended (generically in the sense of the definition of man and very specifically in the sense of being a Biblical man).

I believe this message is critical for men of all ages, but also a good message for women as you understand very practically what a Biblical man should be.

This is a worth while investment of 45 minutes of your life.  Warning, this is not a sugar coated message – if you are not offended something is wrong with your listening mechanism.

Let me know what you think.

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“What Happens When You Don’t Go To Heaven?”

February 9, 2009 at 7:36 am (Biblei-Octopi, Parents) (, , , , , , )

So, tonight we are reading a passage in a “children’s” Bible – you’ve probably read one with your kids – condensed message that outlines a bible story without a whole lot of details. Tonight’s story was about some friends who brought a blind man to Jesus to be healed and through the passage I was discussing with my 6 year old daughter and 3 year old son how important it is to choose and be a good friends.

I don’t recall how, but the conversation progressed into believing about Jesus and somewhere in there my daughter asked, “So what happens when you don’t go to heaven?”

I should preface by saying that my wife and I have a strong commitment to the principles of 1) being available to discuss ANY topic with our children and 2) not glossing over the truth but working to help our kids understand truth to the best of their ability to comprehend. The topics of hell and sex are obviously some of the biggest challenges to these principles, but here we are in real time.

“Well, heaven is where Jesus is, where those who believe in Him get to live with Him forever. When you don’t believe in Jesus, you go to a place called hell, that is where Jesus is not and it is not a very nice place at all. Those that do not believe in Jesus have to go to hell, where they will not be with Jeuse, they will be with the devil.”

6 year old daughter: “What does the devil look like?” (Note, this is a 6 year old and the progression of questions are quite logical but also reveal an exposure to spiritual topics and a hunger for truth)

“Well, he probably is very beautiful to some degree as he was created by God and had a very important job but decided that he wanted to be like God. Since only God can be God and the devil had decided to do something other than what God had created him for he had to be sent out of heaven.”

6: “Isn’t the devil red?”

“No, that is an incorrect creation of people, similar to many of our religious images (talked about the wimpy images of Jesus).”

6: “Did great grandpa go to heaven?”

“I didn’t know great grandpa really well and only Jesus decides who goes to heaven. From what I understand of great grandpa I don’t think that Jesus was a priority for him, I don’t know that he believed in Jesus.”

6: “So then he didn’t go to heaven?”

“I don’t know for sure because I didn’t know him but it would depend on whether he believed in Jesus.”

I don’t remember just how she worded it, but she mentioned something about when we die we our eyes are closed so we can’t see in heaven. We talked about physical bodies and spiritual bodies, I turned to Philippians 3:20, 21 and we discussed that we will have perfected physical bodies. Since the word transform was in the text and my children are quite familiar with Transformers, I used that as a discussion point to talk about transformation through Christ.

Some nights we have good discussions. Some nights the discussions are brief. I think the important thing is that there is an open format for spiritual discussion and when times like these come along, there isn’t a fear of diving into difficult topics. Tonight was about 45 minutes of deep topics all centering around heaven, hell and death.

As my wife and I were reflecting on the conversation, we were discussing the natural consequences of our commitments and the deeper truth that was revealed by our 6 year old. We were enlightened to just how much of a hunger for truth our 6 year old daughter was displaying, just how logically she was processing the information (granted, 6 year old logic, but none the less logical) but also the reality that she is receiving information that is of a spiritual nature with or without us. If we do not create an open door for our children to discuss ANY topic they will find some other source to feed them information about those topics. If we are not honest with our children, they will not get the information that they yearn for as they search for truth and the trust they have in us as a conduit for truth will deteriorate over time.

If you didn’t catch that, let me sum it up: IF YOU AREN’T DISCUSSING (fill in blank) WITH YOUR CHILD, SOMEONE ELSE IS. If you aren’t discussing spiritual things or sexual things or any other thing with your child, then someone else will and they probably won’t be framing topic in the proper moral context.

A resource that has been pivotal in changing our mindset towards youth ministry and parenting has been “You Want To Pierce What?” by Walker Moore (available as a book and/or movie presentation). We were so blessed when we were working with youth to have attended a presentation at a SBC Youth Conference where Walker presented his ideas. What struck us was that you could tell Walker had put his time in understanding how not just to create a successful youth group but how to actually help youth develop into spiritually functioning adults.

Last I checked on Amazon there were 6 avaliable (92 cents plus shipping) – type in “You Want To Pierce What?”

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Churching Peoples – A Renewed Perspective

January 31, 2009 at 7:12 pm (Biblei-Octopi) (, , , , , )

A good friend, or spiritually should we say brother, peeked my interest in Mars Hill and pastor Mark Driscoll’s work (particularly in the arena of Christian sexuality – I encourage you to investigate). I’ve added the churches blog The Resurgence to my bloglines and recently found this posting:

Most church-goers conceive of church as a building. On Sunday mornings they get up, get dressed, and “go to church.” However, this is not how the early Christians conceived of church. They did not go to church—they were the church. Church is a community, not a building or a meeting. Church is all week, not just on weekends. Church literally means a “public assembly of people.” It has to do with people gathering, not with program-participating. (Jonathan Dodson)

This posting struck me, as I have often been of the mindset that the ministry of the church is the reason we arise on Sunday mornings and struggle to get our family out the door. I’ve also been blessed with the deep benefits of Christian relationships that have challenged and encouraged me. Church, as the Bible (Acts 2 in particular) describes it, is not just a polished message that we dress up for nor is it a social gathering for like-minded people. In these extremes, the church takes on 2 basic forms:

  1. Going to church only to be ministered to by the message and/or the music, in this focus the people can easily become unnecessary and often your “edification” is predicated on whether you felt the music or were touched by the sermon for that day. If the church has this perspective then the ministries/programs, the tools of ministry, can become more important than real connections or actual spiritual growth
  2. Going to church as a social gathering. This doesn’t just affect teenagers, there are plenty of adults that get fancied up for their spiritual parade while building up the body and being spiritually fed are a distant second in their priorities for the day. I’ve been around leaders who believe that getting more people in the door is the main focus of their efforts. Their theory is that as long as they are coming eventually they will reap something of benefit.

Acts 2 shows us people who were committed to people with a clear purpose of learning and living the teachings of the disciples (agents of Christ). Of vital importance is the understanding that both elements must exist in unison in order for the Biblical picture of the church to play out. In a separate post on The Resurgence, author Tim Chester summarizes this concept by stating:

The content of our ministry is the gospel. It’s a word: gospel means good news. So being gospel-centered means being word-centered. And it’s a word to be proclaimed: gospel means good news. So being gospel-centered means being mission-centered. That’s the content of ministry. The context is always the Christian community. Ministry is not an event, still less a performance. It takes place in and through the shared life of the Christian community. So whether it’s evangelism or social involvement or children’s work or apologetics or pastoral care or training, these two principles shape what we do: gospel-centered and community-centered.

Chester’s post further elaborates on the concept of fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) to be more of, “As you are GO-ing,” as opposed to the static command to GO-for-a-time. When you understand the content of your ministry (the gospel of Christ) and the medium through which this content is to be communicated to the world (the church) the natural application for the individual is to always be about living the truth in all aspects of life. Chester does well to summarize it this way:

Here’s another way of thinking about it. One of the catchphrases we use to capture our vision is “ordinary life with gospel intentionality” or “ordinary people doing ordinary things with gospel intentionality.” In other words, what we do is ordinary life together: household chores, trips to the movies, meals, neighborhood volunteering. But running through all these activities is a commitment to speaking and living the gospel. We pastor one another at the kitchen sink. We evangelize by talking about Jesus over a meal.

I believe that Christ made things very simple and clear, His commands are far from easy, but He made them simple. I found these posts from The Resurgence to be refreshingly simple and applaud the application of these principles. Let Christ prepare His bride.

The two posts referenced can be found here:

Dodson’s post – Gospel Centered Community

Chester’s post – Ordinary Lives With Gospel Intentionality

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iTunes Devotionals

September 4, 2008 at 4:31 am (Biblei-Octopi) (, , , , )

As I continue to get busier and busier with family and business it is increasingly more difficult to quite myself and focus so that I can listen to God during my quiet times. Something that I have found that helps me to get into a calmer groove and re-focus my thoughts has been by iPod Nano (I think it was like $45 at Walmart).

For those of you unfamiliar with iPods, the Nano is about 2 inches wide by 1 1/2 inches tall, has a clip that fastens to your clothing and the unit charges itself and downloads music from your computer via a USB port that plugs into the computer/laptop. Nano does not have a screen, so you cannot see which track is playing but you can store a very large music inventory on this small device (I currently have over 4 hours of music on mine). If you want to spend more and can carry a larger unit there are several versions of the iPod available with a stronger menu of features.

The one knock on iPods are that you can only download music from iTunes, iTunes is downloadable for free and you can nearly any song from any artist for 99 cents; you can also purchase entire albums, podcasts (iTunes versions of popular radio broadcasts – this is a great resources as well as you can listen to radio sermons and commentaries that you may have missed through the day). When you purchase songs on iTunes or transfer music into the appropriate format you can organize your music to your liking.

The first few songs on my iPod are selections that directly thoughts to specific aspects of my prayers.
1) Novacain For No Reason – Nodes of Ranvier
This is an instrumental song with a strong emotional drive that always grabs my attention, for me it is the perfect means to start getting focused.
2) Deteriorate – Demon Hunter
Deteriorate plays like a prayer with a strong mood and lyric, the overall tone is very somber but there are heavier elements as well. I’ve liked Demon Hunter for some time but it was my wife that turned me on to how cool this song is. “Give me a soul that never ceases to follow despite the infection within…”
3) I Want To Be Just Like You – Phillips, Craig & Dean
Not my usual genre but the song is perfect in tone and lyric to focus my thoughts in praying for my sons. “Lord I want to be just like you, because he wants to be like me.”
4) Cinderella – Steven Curtis Chapman
This song brought tears to my eyes before I even learned of the Chapman families recent tragedy. If you have kids, especially a young daughter, this song will certainly help you to keep a good perspective on the short amount of time before your children will be up an on their own.
5) Anyone Else But You – The Moldy Peaches
Currently my wife’s favorite song so this assists to direct my prayers to her and our relationship. It’s definately quirky and not your typcial love song but it is perfect for us.
6) Bro Hymn – Pennywise
Perhaps not your first thought for a prayer inciting melody, but it is a hymn and it reminds me to pray for my good friends.
7) Pitiful – Blindside
Oh man, if you’ve never listened to the lyrics for this song it is a very honest narrative and has a definite convicting quality.
8) Lullaby – Ghoti Hook
Another honest entreaty.
9) Fall – Slick Shoes
Clearly intended as a personal prayer with clear conviction and an upbeat tone which helps turn my focus towards entering the day.
10) Ascend – The Famine
If you like your music hurdcore then you will certainly relate to the whole package. This song incites a fighting approach to the day and deals with returning to Christ.

In my Nano this segment of music is at the beginning of my playlist, I can use it for my devotional times or even in the truck when I am driving to work (even on trips). I have found this designation to be very helpful as it is readily available for use when needed. For those that are iPod/MP3 owners, you will find this resource easily incorporated into your lifestyle. If aren’t familiar with the technology, don’t let this deter you, the Nano is fairly inexpensive, iTunes is free to download (once loaded onto your computer the songs can be played from your desktop/laptop, which is also a handy place for devotional times) and integrating the two is user friendly.

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September 20, 2007 at 5:47 am (Biblei-Octopi) (, )

I was thinking and I can’t say that I am over it, but I am at a funny place where I am looking at it… What is “it”? It is piety.

Growing up is a lot about learning your families values and beliefs, you make it to Jr/Sr High (for some later) and the weirdness amps up and you realize just how differently others were raised from you. This weirdness is a confrontation and a revelation. Your upbringing is your foundation and you begin to build upon that foundation.

The Christian upbringing can lead to an esteemed view of oneself, this is the religious aspect that clamors with the disciple inside (Christ did not espouse or build within his disciples a belief in themselves or their own goodness, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.”). Religion, in the sense of a man striving for God on that man’s own terms of what God “truly wants” battles very much with the understanding that disciple = follower (one who follows, learns, obeys and loves Christ).

Kels and I have also discussed piety. Piety can be a chameleon, stalking as a “prayer concern”, attacking as “hard love” or perched as “an observer”. Piety gone wild can taint your perspective and sour your listening skills. This is a life-long battle, a strand of the inherited depravity. You see it when it turns on you, but you often over look it when it is you turning on others. (This is not to say that sin should not be called sin)

Jesus esteemed piety, he said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees…” But, why did the Pharisees have so much trouble with Him? He called their piety for what it was, SELF-righteousness. Christ came “to do the Father’s will.” Christ told His followers, “Follow Me.”

I fight for consistency but often ping between extremes (piety vs. debauchery). At the end of the day, the desire is for Christ, the path is directed by His Word, and it really boils down to Love God on God’s terms (not yours, not mine, not anyone’s but His).

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The Waves…

August 31, 2007 at 8:30 am (Biblei-Octopi, Parents) (, , , )

I was reading Abbie’s Princess Bible (thank you Eydie) and we came to a passage discussing the disciples confrontation with the storm.  As you will remember, disciples and Jesus are on the boat, storm brews and slams the boat.  The disciples are freaking out while Jesus is napping.  They finally wake Jesus up and inform him about their impending doom.  Jesus calmly commands the waves and…their is peace.

Princess Bible pointed out that no matter what may happen in life, Jesus has the same control over all situations.  I thought this was a little odd for a devotional aimed at preschool girls, but it was a great point.  It’s so true, we run around like the world is collapsing and where is Jesus?  Probably napping!

I know, he never sleeps…but the truth that Christ can speak a word and the world comes into existence, demons leave a man troubled by legions, a girl gets up from her death bed and the waves stop (just to name a few).  We’ve recently embarked upon a few intimidating paths and it was good to be reminded of the power of Christ.

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