Jesus left his followers with the commission to, “teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.” That’s a pretty tall order in itself. It’s even harder when you wrestle with the two parts that you need to get right. There’s teaching and there’s obeying (application).
Jesus says it another way in a parable:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Once again, there are two important parts to teaching and theology – the “hearing” and the “putting into practice.” You’re not built on a rock until you’ve done both with God’s words.
Here’s the dilemma for any pastor, teacher, or anyone who’s doing their best disciple others toward Jesus: where do you put the emphasis? Some fill heads well with Bible knowledge, but might not produce people who act more like Jesus at the end of the day. Others cut to the point of smiling more and being at peace, but it might not have much integrity in the gospel truths we find alone in Jesus. “Balance” sounds like the easy answer, but every time I prepare and share a message, I’m making intentional choices to emphasize the teaching to some extent and the application to another. Balance might not even be the right answer!
Think about this… Continue reading
It’s a good question, even though the “good church-goer” response is a quick and undivided “yes.”
So the answer is yes, but I think there’s a roundabout layer we need to acknowledge.
God has delegated free-will to people. In other words, he’s given some power away. We as his image bearers affect the future. He’s choosing not to step in and steal the show every time our decisions fall outside of his. Continue reading
It doesn’t feel great to win the war, when you’ve lost the last battle.
Five weeks back, I baptized a young man named Eric Kleist at Lakepoint Church… this week I did the memorial service for his suicide.
His baptism was legit. He was genuinely on fire for Jesus. Always reading, always confessing, always leaning into God for becoming a better person. He’d comment on all my messages. Just days before his passing, he sent me a strong email urging me to preach baptism more strongly at Lakepoint. His foundation of faith in Jesus meant so much to him, that he wanted everyone else to experience the same.
Eric went off of medications for his mental illness around the time of his baptism, which explains the suicide just weeks after.
Here’s the eye opener for me: you’re never done fighting the battles, even if you’ve won the war. Eric was rock solid and on track with Jesus. There’s isn’t any more you could look for in a new believer. The war for Eric’s life was won. Satan didn’t concede though, and won the last battle. Continue reading
Had a very engaging conversation with a new friend on beliefs. He’s exploring the possibility of joining the start of Lakepoint Church, but first wanted to know where I stood on a particularly debated topic of theology.
He asked me what I believed. I told him. He agreed. I asked him to articulate his version, and I agreed with him as well.
Some how or another, despite believing the same thing, we found ourselves on pretty different pages, leaving me scratching my head.
I found it’s possible for two people to believe the same thing, but be on entirely different pages on what to do about it.
Appropriate emphasis is the stickiest part of theology. Knowing how much emphasis to place on any particular belief is as important as the belief itself.
Let’s place emphasis into four categories. Continue reading
How can people talk about holy things from an un-holy heart. It amazes me how passionately people can talk about orthodoxy, church health, or discipleship with a spirit of callousness, division, or hate. As Eugene Peterson says – the Jesus truth, without the Jesus way, does not create the Jesus life.
Idolatry is an issue all over the Bible. All the prophetic books tackle the issue, and most of the historical narrative books as well. If you’re reading anywhere the Old Testament, it’s likely that you’re reading about idolatry; man setting up gods for themselves other than the one true God.
I wonder how far off from idolatry we are today. Although God, through sending captivity and exile upon his people, successfully purged Judah from the worship of inanimate objects in the 6th Century B.C., it’s just hard for me to believe that an issue so entrenched in human history would ever be gone entirely.
Idol worship seems primitive to today’s Western vantage point. Christian or not, we’d resonate quite readily with God’s words through Isaiah, narrating the scarcity of reason in forming an idol. Continue reading