Follow by Email

Monday, August 29, 2011

Making Fun of Journaling

I owe this to my congregation. During the month of August preaching on Psalm 27, I've had occasion (x2) to expound on the importance of recording God's provision for our lives & to have something available upon which to take notes or write down a Scripture Reference.

In other words: GET A JOURNAL!   (or if you're a man whose embarrassed to say he journals you can call it a "moleskin" -- see Mark Driscoll).

And while I still support this, I probably need to make fun it (lest I it too seriously & it becomes an idol). So just as I was laughing with someone about journaling, I browse the interwebs to find Jon Acuff already did a pretty good job this morning of doing just that. Enjoy a laugh Christians and read: 

"Secretly Hating to Journal"

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Eating Daily Bread...Daily

Is that a Bible made out of bread?!
You know it, your spouse/flatmate/good friend knows it, your college roomie figures it's still true though they haven't seen you in years. So I won't be another person who beats that barely breathing horse: It would help to be reading your Bible daily. Let's get past that factoid. You open Genesis and begin. You're doing it! Then somewhere either when you grow noxious at the Bible's version of "Temptation Island" in Genesis 19 (but far more twisted), when you encounter the detailed architectural plans of God's temporary beach/desert house (5 straight chapters, which means 5 days of power-napping), or, one word, LEVITICUS, you give up. Okay, a new season is starting: What are you gonna do about it this time? (resist saying: "Read my favorite Psalms." Everyone is comforted by ice cream, but people don't grow from eating a steady diet of Cherry Garcia...just ask my kids).

Might I suggest 3 simple things (including 2 resources) to help get you back on your feet:

(1) Simple attitude adjustment. "Man cannot live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD" (Deuteronomy 8:3). Every day we need bread for strength (or, if gluten-free, Rice Bread). Every day we need God's Word for strength to live for Jesus. Might I suggest that we take this one step further: That our Father is so intimately involved in our lives that whatever you read next in God's Word on a given morning (or evening), that is exactly the food you need. I have found this to, by and large, be true even if I don't realize it when I'm reading it. But each morning I make a conscious effort to wonder aloud: Lord, I wonder what you have cooked up for me today. This allows me to receive what He has to say much more readily. James 1:20 says this: "Get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." Each day God is planting His Word in your heart to deliver you, to strengthen you, to help you further depend on Him: Will you and I humbly accept what He's putting on our plate?

2) Staying in God's Word Daily requires Accountability. This can be accountability with others or just accountability before God. Bottom line: If you don't have a plan, it's ain't gonna happen. Here's a resource that I've found helpful in making, storing, & sticking to a plan:  Here you can Choose: (1) The Books of the Bible you wish to read (eg., John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John); (2) The duration of time in which you wish to read them (eg., 2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months); (3) Store your plan online and/or print it out; (4) Read Your Daily Scripture Passage(s) in different formats: It can be sent to your Email Inbox each morning, sent as an RSS feed, it can even be sent in audio format. Stay accountably by making a plan & sticking to it.

3) Staying in God's Word Daily requires Interaction. At least I find it to be significantly helpful as interaction stimulates the mind and keeps us from distraction. Write down something about what you read that day. Could be a promise from the Scriptures, a sin you were convicted of and for which are receiving Christ's forgiveness, a prayer you felt led to pray in response to the reading. You could just write down one verse. For years, I kept notebooks full of a very, very simple & free online study. Starts with a "peak your interest" type of question, moves into questions for Study, 1 or 2 application questions and a final prayer. Did I mention it's free? And it covers any book of Scripture. IV Press Online Bible Studies. After you click on the link, in the URL after the final backslash (/) type in the book of the Bible you wish to study. (Ex: Be flexible and try a couple times -- for Philippians, type in phil; for Leviticus, type in lev; for 1 Corinthians, type in 1cor.

May God strengthen and grow you with the food he puts on your plate.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer Reading & Summer Pics

I don't know about you, but Summer Reading used to immediately bring to mind: "Come on, do I really have to read Where the Red Fern Grows?!" (Incidentally, I think my best summer reading experience was the Summer I read Hatchet  - 13 y. old survives a plane crash and survives for 45 days in the wilderness using only a hatchet - he was the original Bear Grylls). Anywho, nowadays the summer reading experience is something I look forward to. So I thought I'd sally forth what I read this summer along with description - feel free to post back with any gems from your list.

#1 - Jack: A Life of C.S. Lewis by George Sayer. 464 pages. I've read so much of Lewis but have never read a full-length biography of his. Sayer knew Lewis well. Things I learned about Lewis - He was one lusty bloke before he put his faith in Christ. Sayers goes into this in some detail. Honestly, had Lewis been in his 20s while living in our era, he'd most likely be attracted to some hard core stuff on the web (if you know what I mean). He was so attracted to beauty, especially the beauty of a woman, that he greatly indulged in it vis-a-vis his thought life. When J.R.R. Tolkien explained Christ as the reality behind the beauty (or "myth"), Lewis found his heart's true home. But it was his penchant for passions and the constant struggle to focus on Christ as the object of His passions and pleasure with which I could most relate to Lewis. He struggled with co-dependency, was an incredibly faithful friend, and tirelessly, but quietly, cared for those in need. And, if you've ever watched the movie Shadowlands (Anthony Hopkins) which chronicles the end of Lewis' life dealing with the death of his wife, the book provides a more accurate and detailed handling of that time period (In the movie, Lewis is nebulously portrayed as having given up his faith, whereas in real-life, his struggle was more like that of the Psalmists - moving from despair toward hope and thanksgiving).

#2 - A Proverbs-Driven Life by Anthony Selvaggio. 201 pages. I read Proverbs in conjunction with 1 Corinthians over the Summer (the theme of wisdom being paramount in both). Thus, this book was a handy guide. Great chapters on friendship, making wise choice of a spouse, marital faithfulness, and childrearing. 

#3 - Autobiography of George Mueller, or a Million and a Half in Answer to Prayer. George Mueller is known for setting up scores of Orphanages throughout England in the early to mid 1800s. But what's truly remarkable about this man is his prayer life. I kept writing in the margins: "Didn't leave God alone" "Didn't leave God alone" (x20). And as a result, God did not leave George Mueller alone. If you want to be inspired in your prayer life with both a lofty and authentic example, try this on for size. You can also read a shorter version which has compiled "highlights" of his autobiography - it's called Answers to Prayer. And, yeah, he had a neck beard...and pulled it off!

#4 - The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson.272 pages. I don't just read stuff from the Family Christian Book Stores (besides, those places are kind of a rip-off, unless you like "Testa-mints"). I love to read about what makes people tick - why people do/think/feel as they do. Does your boss (or pastor??) demonstrate: Glibness/superficial charm, Grandiose sense of self-worth, Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom. These are the first three items on the Psychopath Test developed by Bob Hare and utilized around the world to help identify psychopaths and sociopaths. Jon Ronson, a journalist who also wrote The Men who Stare at Goats, is hilarious as he attempts to hunt down and speak with psychopaths, tries to figure out what's legit in the madness industry, attempts to ascertain if he's a psychopath, and discovers that CEOs of the Fortune 500 companies are far more likely to be psychopaths than your average Joe or Josephine.

Okay enough of that, I promised the peeps of Sunrise Community Church some pictures from our Oelschlager Summer Adventures (Grandiose sense of self-worth??):

Ziplining with Katie's side of family (Yes, all those people are related)
Mason's first time surfing.
Katie tubing on North Carolina's Dan River. Gage overwhelmed by life preserver.
River-tubing in the U.S. South has quite a clientele let me tell you.
Boogie-board Racing with my Dad
(he had a head start..I eventually won...should I really be writing about this?)
At one point, there were 10 children in this inflatable pool which was tenuously held up by duct tape
as the children continuously (and joyously?) walked in a synchronized circle.
U.S. Independence Day Celebration (4th of July).
We never really seemed to ride the bikes - just walked them along in a hot, slow death march.
Yes, I'm related to a (young) Uncle Sam