“You are Special” – Max Lucado
Max Lucado delivers a surprisingly powerful and redemptive message in this children’s story, a suggested read for youngsters and adults alike.
Sometimes it takes child-like allegory to fully grasp the craftsmanship and careful touch of our Father. Max Lucado provides just that and more with this illustrated book that’s elementary yet transformational. You may not find the biblical message of identity more artfully portrayed than in this mini book.
What is the most terrifying thing imaginable to Satan? Union. For the church to have a single mind, an allied charge to strengthen each member of its body, and the common bond to make disciples of every nation.The reaction to this very real and inevitable threat to evil is to spend every possible hour maneuvering, manipulating and prodding the church toward division. Pride, rebellion, disobedience and other sins and temptations are tactics to widen any conceivable fissure that could render the church dysfunctional and fractured. So if we know evil’s arsenal, can we be more mindful as a church, not to necessarily agree on each and every tradition or doctrine, but to manifest Christ and “make [each others] joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind?” (Philippians 2:2)
“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” – Mark 3:24
In Genesis 3, mankind first experiences the “division commission” when the serpent deceives Eve. Just a few verses before the serpent arrives onto the scene, Adam and Eve lived in communion with God and even though they “were both naked, they felt no shame.” After eating from the tree, however, scripture makes it clear that things drastically change. Their “eyes were both opened, and they realized they were naked.” Becoming exposed and thus conscious that they were naked and shamed became real for the first time because of disobedience, and with it a lack of union with God that would only be mended with the coming of a Son. This dividing line, however, was erased when the Son came into His kingdom and redeemed mankind, thus “striking the serpent with his heel.” Satan would have us believe that this dividing line still exists today but in the timeline of our faith this isn’t so. Realizing his ploy and resisting it is the first step to crushing division and fostering union.
I don’t know where to begin. I’d rank today as one of the top five days of my life. Here, halfway across the world, in India. We set out with Ravi Kandal and the Kingdom Foundations staff to minister and witness to the people of two small villages about two hours outside of Bangalore. Wow, words can’t describe the spiritual significance of what happened today. The countryside was beautiful in its own way. It’s quite hard to describe. We passed many villages in our journey. Some Hindu, some with Muslim influence. All with cows, goats, chickens and dogs roaming the streets. It’s organized chaos on the roads. We headed back toward the airport and stopped at McDonald’s for a sundae and pit stop and traveled on through towns and villages, some very small and some much larger. The streets were lined with people moving about from place to place. They all knew where they were going but it was hard to sort it out. We picked up a Christian Pastor in the ministry van and kept going. It was one of the pastors that Ravi sewed into as part of his church planting ministry.
We finally arrived at our first destination village and the team assembled, all 14 of us. We prayed and teamed up with the intent to canvas the whole village in an effort to bond as team and also to establish a rapport with the community, stopping at houses, taking off our shoes and hopefully being invited in. Our mission was simple: provide our testimony and present the gospel as clearly as possible.
Wild at Heart – Rediscovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul – John Eldredge
‘Wild at Heart’ qualifies as one of the premier Christian books in recent decades. Bold truths that have been hidden from many men for centuries are made plain as day and delivered with intensity in this instant classic. In it you’ll find a definition of Jesus not often portrayed in Sunday School and a new found zeal to strap on your battle-tested armor and step into the masculine shoes that you’ve long been destined for.
Wild at Heart is an essential read for the “nomadic man,” searching for destiny and purpose, but it dually serves as an effective and relevant refresher to those men (and women) engaged in the ancient and gallant pursuit of the each other, and more principally, Christ.
Sometimes debated but most times conceded, the thorn in Paul’s flesh, as taught by many in the American church, has become a bit of a “sore spot” for those who wish to throw off the baggage of biblical half-truths. In this blog, we’ll pick 1st Corinthians 12 apart, along with some other scriptures, in an effort to arrive at God’s truth in the matter.
“I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord.2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows.3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say,7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2nd Corinthians 12
There are always topics that we’d wish our Pastor covered or didn’t cover on Sundays with his/her message. Maybe you could do without the well-timed and redundant tithes & offerings sermons, or maybe you’d appreciate a more aggressive stance on particular social issues affecting Americans with your weekly message. I think that there is a degree of deference (that is, deferring to less offensive preaching material) evident in our churches, especially on hot-stove issues, that is more often rooted in fear than wisdom. The pursuit of popularity, I’ll call it, lacks boldness and tirelessly avoids “ruffling feathers” at the expense of diluting truth and shrinking back at a time when a decisive voice is most desperately needed from the Christian podium. As a result of this pursuit, safe preaching topics are selected more times than not and so the cycle of political correctness continues from our church’s pulpits.
The New Testament & False Teaching
A prime example of this compromise, which masquerades as noble ‘deference,’ is false teaching. One of the New Testament’s foremost emphases is in warning and exhorting the young and green church to be watchful of things that could bring upon its destruction. The text is particularly littered with warnings directed toward false teaching, false teachers and false prophets (I encourage you to not take my word for it, but rather search the scriptures for this trend). These admonitions appear over and over again, especially in the epistles and Pauline letters, but also are not exempt from the Gospels!