Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Gospel, Practically

Small groups started meeting again last week.

(I've gotta stop here and almost do a completely different post in parenthesis. I love small group. There's no better place on Wednesday evening! We have a fun, laid back, kingdom seeking group. We don't get it right all the time, so I fit right in. God's been so good lately. When I'm not trying to get my head around the 'why', I get overcome with a flood of thankfulness springing forth from somewhere deep within. He's opened my heart to see Him. Joy. There's more to share on this, but it will have to be another post.)

Our small group's study (after some much needed fellowship over some finger food and desserts) is a discussion of Sunday's sermon. It's great because whatever questions you had during the preaching, you can present to the group. We've been working through Romans on Sunday, and we were talking about chapter 6. Rusty presented the question,"What does being a slave to sin mean to you?"

I slipped up and let my PCA background show (right in front of the group!). I gave a solid doctrinal answer about us understanding our position before a Holy God and thus our need for Christ's sacrifice. Everything was all fine and dandy until the question moved around the room to a gentleman new to the group.

He answered, "Well, it might not be doctrinally correct, but how I face being a slave to sin in a practical way is . . ."

What audacity! What a maroon! Study the Bible to see how to love God and serve Him practically?!? But in truth, what genius, what Christ-likeness. I wasn't much use the rest of the conversation. I was distracted. My mind kept going back to one word, practical.

So, where does my faith meet the road? I am always amazed with the honesty in the ladies' blog entries. Their observations of their own selfishness hit home. Even this blog right now, who is it for? I'd like to believe it might help someone realize that they're not the only one trying to keep their feet beneath them, but I know that at least part of the reason is that I am doing it for myself.

James has been the topic in the adult Sunday school class. Talk about making the Gospel practical! A quick skim over this small book and you'd think he's contradicting letter after letter of Paul's, but no, it's God as much as Ephesians 2. We've looked over facing trials, and started getting into the whole faith vs works funness.

How do you live the Gospel in a practical manner? I don't know exactly. I know I need to love people more by serving them. I know I've responsibilities to my wife, kids, employer, etc, but there's a lot of time left over after I fall short in those areas for me to step out in faith and serve. Anyways, what may be practical for one may not work universally.

So, beyond the general 'love and serve', what are some more specific ways we can love the world? Please share. I believe everyone should have someone outside their immediate family that they are either discipling/mentoring or at least, a peer they're walking beside. I truly believe our culture has placed an emphasis on family to the exclusion of community. I don't do this right myself, but the more I encourage the focus of our family to outside our home, God equips me a little bit more with an attitude and a will that can be bent to His.

Time with Him in prayer and the Word refreshes and strengthens. When you charge a set batteries, it's not just to have a set of charged batteries, it's to use that energy doing something. I need to remember to do something.

But it'll have to be tomorrow. I'm going to bed.

Trying Something New

I've got to talk to someone about this book, Velvet Elvis, so I've added another blog. Check out Josh's Book Club.

I'm not giving up on this blog. Actually working on a real post now.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Cool Evening, Warm Fire

Okay so it wasn't all that cool and the fire was more hot than merely warm, but the whole reason of this post is to illustrate what happens when home improvements are posted on blogs. All of a sudden I've to clean up our fire pit. I should have taken a "before" photo.

All kidding aside, I'm very happy with the result and thus thankful for Melissa's post and Eric's hard work to encourage me.

We even roasted some marshmallows!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Why do we fall?

It's kinda like spelunking.

Starting out, I was hunched over and uncomfortable. Sometimes it was so tight I found myself crawling. Muscles I never use ached. I began to doubt my decision to even come. The walls were too close, the darkness even closer. Everything in me was screaming, "Go back," but there was a hope that strengthened me, pushing me on. Oh, what peace when you yield to that hope! Then everything opens up, joy.

Everything opens up, like someone removing the blinders. And as I press on, He continues to fuel me with His hope, sharing His light. As the light disperses the darkness, more and more of the beauty and expanse of the cavern is revealed. His light even penetrates that sin I've hid within, forcing me to let go of it. The overwhelming glory of what He has revealed further proclaims His majesty and might, even His terrifying Holiness. Yet by His grace He chose me, however minuscule, to witness this glory, to share in His righteousness.

Its a journey better shared. Since we moved I've failed to cultivate a friendship with a fellow brother to the point of sharpening iron. As a husband and a father, and an employee, etc, I've sacrificed, foolishly, time and energy I should have put into my friendships. R. Kent Hughes hits the nail on the head. "Friendship is not optional. . . [you] need Christian male friends who have a same-sex understanding of the serpentine passages of your heart . . ." (Disciplines of a Godly Man)

Men have a tendency to isolate themselves. Whatever the excuse, this separation leads, ultimately, to discouragement. The Bible strengthens us, yes, and convicts us. Isolated, I have a tendency, no matter how many books or blogs I read, to feel I am the only man out there who fails. I am the only man out there who does not consistently discipline my children. I am the only man out there that is not instructing my children as God has called me. I am the only man out there that fails to continually honor, encourage and lift up my wife. I am the only man who fails to lay down his life for his wife. I am the only man out there that does not love the Lord my God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my strength and with all my mind. Discouragement.

Knowing other men more than superficially, floods the church with grace. As I get to know the men in my church and their failings, they become more to me than the guy with the kids who sit still through the sermon and has it all together, more than the man that always asks the perfect question in Sunday school. They become genuine. As I get to know the men in my church, I am encouraged. I am able to witness the fresh fruits of His presence and His grace in areas where they struggle. I am encouraged because, as I get to know these men, I realize I am not alone.