Friday, September 24, 2010

Walking in the Light (Without a Spotlight on Them)

One of our church members came forward after the sermon last Sunday.

He wanted to apologize to the church for his sins and to ask for our prayers. He has been in prison 5 times and in jail even more often. He has been in numerous fights, has stabbed people, and has been stabbed. He has consistently battled the allure of crack cocaine and alcohol.

He also wanted to thank fellow Contact Church members for saving his life a couple of weeks ago. Four of our members had been concerned about him. They went to his home to see how he was doing. When they found him, he was semi-conscious. He had overdosed on drugs in an attempt to commit suicide. Immediately, they called for the medical attention that saved his life.

Even though he was so ashamed of his sins that he felt like never returning to the church, he knew that members of the Contact Church loved him and had saved his life. He recommitted his life to following Christ. The church welcomed him back with warm embraces.

Something stood out to me about this incident: I never knew about our 4 members who had saved his life just a few days before. They had not mentioned anything about what they had done. (Knowing them, I doubt that they ever would have.) They were following Jesus' instructions: "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 6:1).

They were walking in the light without a spotlight on them. They were doing good without drawing attention to themselves.

It makes me wonder: How much more good is being done today by Christians who are not seeking attention? I have a feeling that it's much more than I can imagine.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What is a Man?

From The Atlantic to Newsweek, popular American magazines have been focusing on the definition of manhood this summer. It's a subject worthy of consideration, especially for parents of boys.

What is a man?

Maleness is determined at conception. When the egg and sperm cells combine, the mother contributes an X chromosome; the father contributes either an X or a Y chromosome. If the father contributes an X chromosome, the baby is female. If the father contributes a Y chromosome, the baby is male. Nothing changes after conception. A person with X and Y chromosomes is a male for his entire life.

Of course, a male may or may not develop into a man. It takes more (but not less) than X and Y chromosomes to become a man.

A man accepts responsibility. He accepts responsibility for himself and those under his care. He will take care of his family. "But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Timothy 5:8). He will do his work so that he can provide for his family and for those in need in his community. "Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need" (Ephesians 4:28). He will love his wife. "However, let each one of you love his wife as himself..." (Ephesians 5:33). He will discipline and teach his children. "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).

A man takes initiative. When he sees a problem, he works toward a solution. He does not merely complain. He is not passive. He tries to help. When Boaz discovered that the widowed Ruth and her mother-in-law were in need, he took the initiative to make sure that they would have enough to eat and that his employees would not abuse a vulnerable widow (Ruth 2). Ultimately, Boaz married Ruth.

A man shows courage. When the giant Philistine Goliath challenged the army of Israel, the young shepherd David stepped up to the responsibility to repel the threat to his people. He took initiative. He saw Goliath as both a physical threat and a theological threat to the people of God. With faith in the Lord and courage in his heart, he attacked Goliath (1 Samuel 17). A man will show courage when the people whom he loves are threatened. It may be by killing a snake in the backyard; or it may be by challenging a religious leader who is telling the church that the Bible cannot be trusted, that faith in Christ is unnecessary, or that God does not know the future. Whether the threat is physical or theological, a man will do what he can to protect the people he loves.

Men are different from each other. Some men play football; some men play the piano. Some men are boisterous; some men are quiet. Some men enjoy physical challenges; some men enjoy intellectual challenges. But those attributes are unrelated to manhood. At the core, a boy needs to develop a sense of responsibility, initiative, and courage in order to become a man.

"Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love" (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Heart of Christianity

"Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing (2 Timothy 4:8, NIV).

Christians can be passionate concerning many things. We love worship music. We are passionate about Bible study. We are driven to help the widows, the orphans, and the poor among us. We are passionate about pursuing justice, righteousness, and high ethical standards.

But above all, we are passionate about Jesus Christ. We love to hear about what he has done for us. We love to think about his character, his words, and his actions. We love to let other people know about him. And we look forward to his return above all other expectations.

Jesus Christ is the heart of Christianity.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Titus 2 in Action

Titus 2 in Action is one of my favorite blogs. Sonya Thompson, Kelly Combs, Sharon Sloan, Warren Baldwin, Heather Beals, and Stephanie write a variety of articles based on themes from this passage:

"But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us" (Titus 2:1-8).

The blog may be found at (I'm sorry, but I cannot figure out how to create a link to the site.)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What Do Muslims and Christians Have in Common?

What do Muslims and Christians have in common?

Love for their families
Loss of loved ones
Relationship problems
The need for Jesus Christ to take away their sins and to give them hope

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."--Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20).

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Need to Mentor Boys in the Church

In this video, Darrin Patrick talks about the need to mentor boys so that they become mature Christian men. As I have mentioned before, I want to raise my son to have the qualities of a biblical elder. It's an overarching goal for the way I approach parenting my son. This video encourages me to keep the goal in mind.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Subtle Power of Respect

Last night, I was watching the Boise State-Virginia Tech football game. As the game progressed, I became increasingly interested in seeing Boise State win. On the surface, my feelings made no sense. After all, I'm an Oklahoman. I remember a few years ago when Boise State upset the University of Oklahoma in a bowl game. I should have been wanting to see revenge taken out on the team that destroyed a good season for a good Oklahoma team.

So why was I cheering a team that I should have despised? As I thought about it, I realized that it was because of one man whom I respect from our congregation who became a fan of Boise State when he lived and worked in Idaho. This man works in the insurance business, but he teaches classes and preaches for churches in the area when they are in need of teachers and preachers. He is a great family man. He leads a Tuesday morning men's Bible study at the Contact Church which draws men from as far as an hour's drive away. He and his wife have been pillars in the Contact Church since the beginning, even allowing homeless men to stay in their home with them as those men tried to get their lives together. He has led a lifestyle of helping others. When he speaks, people listen, because he has something worth hearing.

It would have been difficult to have been against a team that he liked.

That's the subtle power of respect. It's the power of influence. And it makes more of an impact in the lives of others than merely which football team to cheer for.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

The Inspiration of Scripture

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

As I have studied the Bible over the years, I have noticed at least three ways that God has used in inspiring the Scriptures.

1. Sometimes God dictates the words. For example, see Exodus 20:1-17.

2. Sometimes God communicates his message in dreams and visions that are recorded by prophets. For example, see Daniel 7:1.

3. Sometimes God leads the author of a biblical book through careful research. For example, see Luke 1:1-4.

God has chosen different methods, but still "all Scripture is breathed out by God" (2 Timothy 3:16). Those who gave us the Scriptures "were carried along by the Holy Spirit" as they communicated God's message to us (2 Peter 1:21). And those Scriptures can be trusted because they came from a God "who never lies" (Titus 1:2).