Category Archives: Christian Living

The Virus of Offense

A couple months ago, the women in the area got together for a prayer summit. One of the big takeaways of the gathering was the issue of ‘offense.’ The ladies came back convicted that carrying around offenses, that is feelings of resentment, anger, disgust and distrust was toxic to their spiritual life.

In the weeks since the summit, many of us have wrestled with the sneaky nature of this thing called “offense.” The fact is, we often feel entitled to it. People or conditions in the world can awaken feelings both subtle and not so subtle that can churn at our insides and pollute our relationships.

Offense is bit like a virus that lies dormant, waiting for our immune system to weaken enough for it to awaken sin. It’s wise, then, to be aware of it and treat the virus before it makes us sin-sick. Moreover, if we’re not careful we can pass it along to others. A negative or cynical comment can infect our friends and family with offense.

Lately, in the midst of this particularly nasty flu season and a largely ineffective flue vaccine, I’ve been intentionally compulsive about washing my hands. I have been trying to be aware of what I touch and of not touching my face. All this so I can avoid getting sick with the flu. If I can stay healthy, I’ll be just one less carrier of the virus. Anyway, who wants to be sick? Not me.

I am thinking of “offense” as a virus. If I can keep from getting offended or, at least from expressing the things that I’ve gotten offended about–biting my tongue, if you please–perhaps my world can be less toxic.

Are You Ready to Quit?

Occasionally, I am amazed at the perseverance of some of the Biblical characters. Elijah and the drought, for example. The prophet prays for rain, asks his assistant if he sees anything—nothing—and so Elijah goes on praying. I would have looked at the sky a couple of times and figure God wasn’t going to come through for me. Then I would have gone home.

Elijah kept on praying.

And think about Anna and Simeon who waited for years around the Continue reading Are You Ready to Quit?

Community from the Sound Up

First, a lament: Where have I been on our website for, lo, these many weeks — dare I say, months? Ugghhh. What a slacker. What a slug! Ah, me!

OK, that’s done. I am suitably self-chastened. Now, down to some business.

I have been doing quite a bit of reading lately. If you’re interested in what’s been passing under my curious eyeballs, you can click “What Dan’s Been Reading” under the “Reading” tab on the toolbar. Actually, the list isn’t truly up to date, but I’m adding to the list as I remember where I’ve been.

Presently, l’m reading The Aqua Church, by Len Sweet. The following quote caught my attention:

If community is that which is created by shared experiences, communities of faith are built from the sound up. Sharing the same mission, eating the same food, and singing the same melodies result in the experience of community.

Sweet, Leonard. AquaChurch 2.0: Piloting Your Church in Today’s Fluid Culture (p. 151). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.

This is a simple way of describing the life of a relational church. I often advise people who want to build a church family to eat together and make singing a priority. Singing together calls a group of people to speak the same truths — the exact same truths — together at the same time. It is a community declaration of purpose. Far from a perfunctory component of a gathering, it is a needed opportunity to strengthen foundations and shore up the walls of faith.

Go and Sin No More?

Last time, I suggested that in John 8:2-11 there is a pattern for dealing with people whose practices don’t square with God’s design. In brief:

  1. Don’t accuse or belittle.
  2. Protect others from harm.
  3. Refuse to judge, remembering that I, too, have weaknesses.
  4. Don’t condemn.
  5. Recognize and reject sin.

I find the fifth one particularly interesting. Continue reading Go and Sin No More?

Saved? What’s it to Ya?

In the last few months we’ve been discussing the salvation message that many of us were raised with, namely that it is a very simple thing to “get saved.” I can’t remember how many times in conversation with people I have heard them say that they “said the words” in a prayer and, therefore, were saved and going to heaven. They staked their claim in the few square feet at the foot of the cross and expected to be able to live as they pleased until the trumpet sounded and then, by the strength of those words mumbled in prayer would be good to go.

Really? Is that was is required of the followers of Jesus? A few parroted words and we’re good to go with “the man upstairs”?

I’d like to recommend two resources that may be of help here. First, a sermon by one of our favorite preachers, Major Ian Thomas, and second, a book we published for a friend of ours called The Transforming Power of the Keys of the Kingdom – Rediscovering the Process of New Testament Conversion.

The Enemy of the Authentic Self

I have been thinking about being true to ourselves. It seems like personal fulfillment is our most cherished value. Contemporary culture stands up and cheers when somebody declares their “authentic self.” It is so American. It speaks of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I wonder if we shouldn’t consider whether to replace the national motto. (In case you forgot, it is “In God We Trust,” a pretty new addition to our national identity—only approved by congress in the 1950s.) Perhaps we should get our new motto from Hamlet: “To thine own self be true.” Unlikely? I’m not so sure. Regardless of Polonius’ true intent in the play, the words have a golden sound to them. Continue reading The Enemy of the Authentic Self