stories, lessons, and a lot of nonsense

my unstoppable playlist

On Sunday, we looked at what God said about us, and He has a lot of good things to say.  We ended by looking at Romans 8:31, which says, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”  Of course, the answer is that no one can stop us when God is for us.

On my way to church Sunday morning, before preaching, I listened to a song a couple of times that speaks to this truth, because it pumps me up.  It gets me ready to go do something.  Then I began to think about other songs that remind me that I am unstoppable in Christ, so I made a playlist with ska, rap, worship, and metal songs.  Here are some songs to encourage you, from many different genres, beginning with some old school ska and the song I listened to Sunday.  Listen to them when you have a change, and remember that you’re unstoppable.

The O.C. Supertones – Who Can be Against me?

Andy Mineo – You Can’t Stop Me (Rap)

Also, here’s the youth band doing their version of it back in August:

Disciple – Dead Militia (Metal)

Jonny Lang – Don’t Stop (For Anything) (Blues)

Chris Tomlin – Our God (Worship)

 

There are times when it is necessary for us to take a stand and fight.  There are other times when it is necessary to sit down and be quiet.  Knowing when to fight and when to be still can be difficult for many, and I’m not too sure there’s a broad answer to give that covers all situations.  But there is wise direction on when and how given in the Bible and demonstrated by Jesus.  I do think, for instance, it is good to defend one’s faith.  I do not think it’s good to speak arrogantly and snipe at opponents of our faith, though.  I also don’t think it’s good to be of the fighting mindset, always looking for an offender with which to argue.

2 Timothy 2: 23-25 says, “Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.”  We aren’t to engage in foolish, ignorant arguments with people who don’t believe and want to fight with you over why you do.  This probably includes getting into it on Reddit and in the YouTube comment section, but it can also mean walking away from people you know and love for a minute.  When someone’s lone goal is to humiliate you and argue with you, it’s not your calling to outsmart, humiliate, and disprove them.  However, it is your job to share the truth of the Bible.  As Pastor Dave (not our Pastor Dave) in “God’s Not Dead,” said to Josh, “Don’t try to be clever.  Be content with the truth.”

Most of the arguing a Christian will ever do will be with other Christians, though.  Some fight, because they are modern day Pharisees and want to condemn all other Christians for a lack of holiness.  Many of us, upon hearing these kinds of assaults, feel like it’s our turn and job to fight back and let them know what’s really up.  While that kind of fighting sounds admirable, it’s not the correct battle for Christians.  I used to love those kinds of fights, but I’m older, more tired, and perhaps a little wiser.  I have a general refusal to engage in fighting or arguing.  I can have a discussion, and I don’t mind if we disagree throughout the discussion, but once someone else decides it’s not okay that we don’t disagree and gets aggressive in trying to change what I can clearly see in Scripture, I give them one or two warnings before disengaging.  I’m just not interested in that type of fight.  There are no winners, and it’s unbiblical to proceed, anyway.  Even when you really want to, you really don’t have to fight every time an opportunity presents itself.

Titus 3:9-10: “9 Do not get involved in foolish discussions about spiritual pedigrees or in quarrels and fights about obedience to Jewish laws. These things are useless and a waste of time. 10 If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them.”

legacy

What is a legacy? It can mean something old, outdated, or classic. It could be a throw back style, like legacy jerseys or Jordans or whatever. It can be someone who had a better deal than the current deal and has been grandfathered in.  But it can also mean, “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.”

A parent can pass down more than wealth. They can also pass down work ethic, good habits, bad habits, parenting styles, and more. My sense of humor is a legacy passed down to me by my dad. I’m so much like him in that way, it’s scary. Or it can be annoying, if you’re my mom or my wife. It’s a little over the top when we get together for a holiday, and you have my dad, my two brothers, me, and my two nephews who all have the same sense of humor and similar personality. It all goes back to my dad. He passed it down.

So what do you want to be your legacy? What do you want to be known for? We will all be remembered for something, and for the most part, we can control what that is. You can write your own legacy.

In 1888 a man named Alfred lost his brother Ludvig died.  A French publication errantly published Alfred’s obituary, though. The paper wasn’t too kind, admonishing him for his invention of dynamite.  The obituary said, “Le marchand de la mort est mort,” which means, “The merchant of death is dead.” It continued, “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.” Alfred was distraught with what he read and wasn’t happy with how he would be remembered, so he decided to change his life, so as to be remembered differently.

Do you know Alfred?  On 27 November 1895, at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament and set aside most of his estate to establish the Nobel Prizes.  Nobel’s will allocated 94% of his total assets, 31,225,000 Swedish kronor, to establish the five Nobel Prizes.

Did any of you know anything about Dr. Nobel other than the fact that he established the Nobel prizes? I didn’t. So his legacy is that of peace and altruism, despite what it would have been had he died when his brother did. His legacy is what he has left behind. What do you want to leave behind? Do you want to be remembered for what you’ve already done or something else? For your mistakes or your successes? What do you want?

I need quiet

Loud, purposeless noises bother me.  If I’m trying to concentrate, even noises with a purpose really frustrate me.  I have trouble hearing what I’m trying to listen to or concentrating on the task at hand when there is a lot of noise going on around me.  For example, even if the TV is more than loud enough to be heard, and Sarah can hear it just fine, I might not be able to discern what is being said, because other noises in the house are preventing me from processing it.  It’s annoying to me, because I miss a lot; and it’s annoying to Sarah, because the only ways for me to understand are to turn the TV way up and turn the captions on (neither of which she is a fan of).  I can basically only hear the loudest thing in the room well, and everything else is just static noise in the background.

There are other kinds of noise in my life that drive me crazy: seeing a lot of junk email when I open my email in the morning, hearing or seeing constant complaining, most TV commercials, which are still louder than the show you’re watching no matter what the FCA has decreed, and even an overbooked schedule.  These things bother me, and I just want to escape.  They keep me from seeing, hearing, and focusing on what I want to be taking in.  So I’ve started eliminating them.  I’ve probably unsubscribed from 20 email lists recently that I was on for one reason or another.  If someone only ever complains on Facebook, I won’t unfriend them, but I will hide their posts.  I’ve taken to seeking more quiet in my life and then allowing God to fill that quiet, as opposed to allowing it to be filled with nonsense.

Jesus did this, and when I read Luke 5, I realized it was something He was demonstrating that I should have been following.  In that chapter, Jesus heals some people, so everyone goes looking for Him to have Him heal them or their loved ones.  But in verse 16, it says, “But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”  There were important things to say and be done, but He withdrew to quiet, solitary places, and He spent time with God the Father.  He sought quiet and then filled the quiet with listening to God.  I’m trying to do that now.  I used to listen to the radio or my iPod to and from work.  Lately, I’ve been using at least one of those trips to listen to my Bible.  I’m planning to go through the entire Bible this year.  I read some of it, and I listen to some of it in the car.  Now instead of being filled with sports, nonsense, and commercials every time I’m in the car, several car rides have been spent listening to Genesis, Exodus, Matthew, Psalms, and Proverbs, because that’s where I have been in my reading.

I’m shutting things out.  Sometimes I’m shutting people out.  I need to, because I need quiet.  I used to feel too guilty to ever not check my email and respond right away, but not anymore.  I noticed that Jesus disconnected from people who wanted to hear Him teach and be healed, so He could be quiet and pray.  I think I can unplug from email, talk radio, and Facebook from time to time, too.

What do you need to disconnect from, so you can seek God in the quiet?

why I got baptized

We have a baptism and baby dedication service coming up on February 1.  It’s a service to celebration and public commitment to the things God wants in our lives.  Sometimes people ask me, Pastor Dave, and probably other people, “Why should I be baptized?”  It could just be answered as simply as, “Well, the Bible says we should,” because that is true.  But I would rather tell you why I got baptized, which includes some of what the Bible says.

I got baptized a long time ago.  I had already placed my faith in Jesus, so according to Romans 10:9-13, I was already saved.  Baptism didn’t make me more saved, and choosing not to get baptized wouldn’t have made me less saved or not saved, though it would have made me less obedient to God.  The first reason I wanted to be baptized: I wanted to obey God, because I love Him.  John 14:15 says, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” The last thing Jesus said before ascending into Heaven was “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you,” (Matthew 28:19-20).  It was His instruction that people be baptized after coming to believe in Him.  I didn’t want to begin my relationship with God by choosing to disobey Him.  It didn’t speak to the love and gratefulness I have for Him.  It didn’t make sense to me to say, “I love you, but I’m not going to do what you ask,” which is exactly how I saw/see it.

The second reason I got baptized was because I wanted to publicly show that I loved God.  Jesus says in Matthew 10:32 that if anyone acknowledges Him before men would be acknowledged by Him before the Father.  I wanted to publicly acknowledge Him with my being baptized.  I wanted others to see that I love Him and was committed to following Him.  It’s similar to my wedding and ring.  I love Sarah, and I loved her before I told anyone else I loved her.  She knew I loved her, and no one else needed to know that for it to be true.  People were at my wedding, though.  I publicly declared my love and commitment to Sarah before God and witnesses, as the script goes, and I was proud to do so.  I wear my wedding ring everyday, not to make me married, but as a visible symbol to everyone else that I am married.  Baptism can be much the same way.  I love God, and He knows I love Him, but I wanted to publicly declare my love for Him.  I wanted a visible symbol to others of the relationship I have with Him.

That’s it.  I wasn’t baptized because I had to.  My parents allowed me to choose.  I didn’t get baptized, so I could be a member of the church, because as a child, I didn’t care about that, anyway.  I just love God, wanted to obey Him, and wanted others to know that I love Him.  I don’t need more compelling reasons than that, because there are no reasons more compelling than that for me.

theology vs. me-ology

Theology may be an odd word to you.  I understand that it is not a word that is used in everyday conversation by most people, even pastors.  Pastor Dave and I do not sit in the office daily or even weekly and talk theology.  Alas, there are other things we have to get done that would prevent it even if we wanted to do that.  But whether we use the word regularly or discuss theology with others regularly, theology is important, and shouldn’t be confused with what I would call “me-ology.”

Theology comes from Greek words meaning “the study of God.”  The Bible recommends, commands, and alludes to the necessity of studying the Bible many times.  Joshua was told in Joshua 1:8 to meditate on the Law day and night and seek to do all that was written in it.  The entirety of Psalm 119 exalts the words of God, His laws, and the need for seeking and remembering them.  2 Timothy 2:15 tells us to give ourselves over to studying, so that we can truly understand the Word and will of God.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that all Scripture is breathed by God and is good for teaching, reproof, correcting our actions, and telling us how to live for God.  It is from the pages of Scripture, His evidence in creation (Psalm 19), and through our communion with the Holy Spirit (John 14:26) that we truly know God.  This is theology.

Unfortunately, there is a growing trend amongst Christians to rely more on me-ology to define, not understand God.  When others do not follow our preferences and convictions, though they fall outside the teaching of the Word of God, we prescribe it as sin in their lives.  When our desires conflict with the Bible, a passage because culturally irrelevant to today, and God must have changed His mind.  When something makes us feel good, whether an action or pithy saying, but it is not aligned with what the Bible teaches, we still hold to it, because it feels right.  When your thoughts, feelings, and experiences trump God’s Word and definition of Himself, you have moved from theology to me-ology.

Theology is a good thing. Me-ology is not.

Theology comes from Greek words meaning “the study of God.”  Me-ology is the translation of thoughts and feelings into supposed truth.

Theology understands that man was made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26).  Me-ology re-creates God into my own image.

I say all that say this: it is my desire that KCC (and the church as a whole around the world) would be full of people who seek to understand God by studying His Word. It’s my own desire that that can be said of me specifically.  It is my desire that I (and we) embrace our role as clay in the Potter’s hands (Jeremiah 18) and be willfully formed into the vessel that God would have us to be.  Just as clay does not attempt to mold or define its potter, let us not attempt to define or mold God.  Rather let us be molded in quiet reverence, studying God in His Word so that we know what it is He seeks to do with us.

I used to be a very self-conscious person.  Sometimes I still am, just not over the same things. I still worry about what people will think about me when I do certain things.  Like when I preach, I go back-and-forth over saying certain things.  I ask Sarah if it’s okay.  I ask Dave and Joyce what they think.  It’s always something that’s true, but I’m worried that the way I say it may be too gruff or it’s just not the right timing to be saying it.  And then when I do go forward and say something I had worried about, I always wait for the shoe of criticism to drop.

I think it’s very easy to be concerned with what others think.  Our culture has made it very clear that what others think of you matter, so you had better buy this, eat here, wear that, and workout over here.  Anything less would be unacceptable.  And of course, you had better think like other people do, or you could be shouted down via angry internet comments.  That last one’s a tough one.  It silences a lot of Christians on important issues.  We want to be liked, not hated, so we don’t venture to say what we believe based on the Bible, because it won’t be applauded and welcomed.

But that’s not how it’s supposed to be.  We’re supposed to be living, walking, and talking for the approval of God.  Bebo Norman said it best when he said, “it is the applause of the nail scarred hands that matter most.”  That’s it.  God’s view of what we say and what we do ought to be louder in our hearts than any other opinion.  This is how Jesus lived.  In Mark 12:14, Jesus’ disciples admired this way about Him.  They said, “Teacher, we know that you are true, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men but truly teach the way of God.”  Jesus wasn’t worried about opinions or popularity. He just taught the truth of God.  That’s how we’re supposed to live.  We’re not supposed to be consumed with what people think, and we definitely shouldn’t be pursuing being liked by everyone.  Jesus warned against that in Luke 6:26: “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”

Worry about what God thinks.  Say what God says. Sometimes people will not like it, but God’s approval matters more than man’s.

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