What should I write about Halloween? I can go a couple of ways. I can either be adamantly opposed to it or I can write about participating in Harvest Festivals and Hallelujah Nights. I could even mention Judgment Houses. Judgment Houses are a nice alternative to Haunted Houses, right? Corn Mazes are popular, so I could write about them. Which way am I supposed to go in my post today?
How about I tell you that my children have never trick or treated? We made that decision before we had children. Would I do it again? I can’t really answer that. I can’t say that I regret it. Someone once asked my daughter if she felt deprived for not ever “doing” Halloween. I think her answer was wise. She said, “I can’t really miss something that I never had.” If my children decide to do Halloween with their children, I won’t be upset or mad. That is for them and their spouses to decide together before the Lord. If they feel liberty to do so, then I will be satisfied with that.
All of that really isn’t the main thrust of what I want to talk about today. Halloween has recently become the official start to “The Holidays”. That in itself will anger some folks. There are people who are snarling their noses at the very thought of Halloween. They will say that it’s the devils holiday. Not me.
I was inspired by something I read this week.
What if we decided to make the entire Halloween experience an opportunity to love others and give life to others. Or maybe a better way to put it, what if we give Life as best we can during this experience?
I don’t know what that means for you. I don’t know even really know what it means for me. All I know is that I am looking at this day differently than I have in the past. I hope that you will too.
Can we take Halloween back for the Lord? How would you do that?
I’ve spent the last couple of Sundays writing about a church search. I’ll continue that today, but come at it from a different angle. When I find a church in my search, what kind of church member will I be?
I want to be a church member who bases what I think about God, Christ and the Church on the Bible. Sure, I will learn through my local church and circumstances, but ultimately I have to measure that against what God has revealed in His word.
I want the Gospel to be central to my life in my church. If not for the Gospel, where would any of us be? So, I want to bring a Gospel centered life to my new church.
I want to listen to the sermons in such a way that they impact my every day life. I want to worship the Lord through the preaching of His word so that I leave with the purpose of my life being closer to Him.
I want to be a church member who is persevering to the end. I don’t want to take my salvation for granted and I measure my experience against what the word of God says.
I want to be the kind of church member who shares the Gospel. Period. I guess you could call that evangelism. With my words. With my deeds. With my life.
I want to be the kind of church member who is committed. Committed to the church. Committed to the members. Committed to pastor.
I want to be the kind of church member who is disciplined. Disciplined by the word of God. Maybe even disciplined by fellow church members who approach me out of love and concern.
I want to be the kind of church member who is growing. Growing through the word of God. Growing in love for my fellow members. Growing in my love for the Lord.
I want to be the kind of church member who follows Godly leadership. I want to follow spirit-led leaders who I can come alongside and support.
I want to be the kind of church member who joins my fellow church members in prayer. I don’t see how much can get done in a church without the people praying.
These are the main things that the Lord has laid on my heart to BE as I look for and find a church.
What other things do you a church member should be?
I don’t usually write a full-fledged post on Saturday anymore, but today I am.
Two years ago today, Tennessee played South Carolina on Halloween night. The previous week, UT has suffered a heartbreaking loss at Alabama after having a last chance field goal attempt blocked. After a week of speculation, Tennessee came out wearing black jerseys. While I’m sure the players would have been excited to play anyway, the black jerseys seemed to give the players an extra spark and excitement. Tennessee ended up dominating the game and winning.
This week against South Carolina, Tennessee will be starting a new, freshman quarterback, Justin Worley. After losing starting quarterback Tyler Bray, Matt Simms had come in to play the position. Simms has tried the best he could for two years now, but he simply cannot perform at the level needed to be successful in the SEC. So, while this year Tennessee will not be wearing black jerseys, they will have a black jersey this year. Justin Worley is the black jersey.
I say all of that not really thinking about football today. I say all of that to ask you (and me) a question.
What’s your black jersey?
Let’s face it. We all need an extra spark from time to time. We all get into a rut. We all go into a slump. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually.
What is sparking you in your life? What change do you need to make to take you to another level, to get you off the plateau?
Maybe you need to go feed the homeless. Maybe you need to go on a mission trip. Maybe you need a new bible study plan. I don’t know exactly what you need.
I do know one thing.
Sometimes you need a black jersey.
What do you need?
That’s how I’m beginning this post. I’m simply asking the question, what do you need?
Think about it for a minute and let me know. I know Who can get it for you. However, what you ask for might not be your greatest need.
You might think you need money. You might think you need a new job. Or a new relationship. Or a change. I’m not saying that you won’t get those things.
It’s just that those things are not your greatest need.
You have a Father who will give it to you.
Jesus said that no father will give his son a snake when he needs a fish.
Jesus said that no father will give his son a stone when he needs bread.
You can check those out in Matthew 7
Jesus said that no father will give his son a scorpion when he needs an egg.
Check that out in Luke 11.
He said that the Father is better than all of us fathers who will give these things to our children.
He said that the Father will give what is good to those who ask.
He said that the Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask.
What do you need most of all?
You need what is good.
You need the Holy Spirit.
Do you have the Holy Spirit? Have you been given what is good? Have you been given what is better than anything you would ever ask for on your own?
It’s Twitterific Thursday, where I write about a subject in 140 words more or less.
Sometimes pride comes before a great fall. You and I have experienced it. Someone we know has a great amount of pride in their lives. Maybe it’s you. I know that I do on occasion.
Maybe, like me, you have been encouraged to take pride in yourself. Maybe you have been encouraged to take pride in your work. I don’t think this is something that we really have to enough pride in our lives.
I don’t think you and I are fundamentally that much different. I have not met anyone yet who does not struggle with pride.
It’s the root of most of your sins. It’s the root of most of your problems. It’s the root of most of your issues. It is the root of your personal conflicts. It’s the root of most problems in your marriage. I know because that’s the way it is for me.
Let’s battle the pride in our life?
What are you going to do today? Me? I’m going to go to work where I face the busiest, most hectic day of a two-week cycle that repeats itself basically twenty-four times per year. Thursday and Friday will slow down and then we start all over again. It will slowly build until I face this same day again two weeks from now.
You will probably face some other circumstances. You will work. You will face your own stresses. Maybe its financial. Maybe its relational. I don’t know. You can share it with me if you want to. I will pray with you about it.
Regardless, there is one thing that both of us need to do today. Today when it gets hectic. Today when someone cuts us off in traffic. Today when we get that unexpected bill. Today when we face illness. Today when we hear good news. It doesn’t matter. We all need to do this.
Can you do that? Can you do that when you eat today? Can you do that when you drink today? Can you do that when the stuff Old Tom covers up hits the fan? Can you do that when you the good comes today?
We were made to worship. We were made to glorify God with what we eat. We were made to glorify God with what we drink. We were made to glorify God with whatever we do.
What are you going to do today?
What do you expect today? Can you worship and glorify the Lord in whatever you do today?
My friend Chad wrote a post the other day called Gender & Equality In Jesus. I love what he said about wives and their command to submit to their husbands. He said to forget about the command for husbands to love them as Christ loved the Church. He advised them to focus on the command given to them and not the one for their husbands. He also said that we husbands should focus on our command to love our wives as Christ loved the Church and forget out the submission thing. I agree. Let’s focus on what we’ve been told to do, not someone else. We really can’t demand those things out of someone else.
Here is the thing, though, that I thought about and has been sitting back there in the back of my mind for a while now.
Are They The Same Thing?
Normally when we think of submission and love, we don’t think of them being the same thing. I think this is because we think of submission as a bad word. In this context it can’t be, though, because it’s in the Bible and we are all told to submit to each other just before wives are told to. So, what are we talking about anyway?
Christ Gave The Example Of Submission
Christ gave us the example of how we should submit in His life. He submitted to the Father. He put aside His own interests for the sake of ours. He looked out for our best interest because the Father wanted Him to , it would glorify the Father and it would be to our benefit. That, I think, is what submission is. Laying aside our wants and desires for someone else. We are all told to do this with each other and wives, in particular, are told to do this for their husbands.
Christ Gave The Example Of Love
In turn, Christ gave us me the example of how we should love. We are to love our wives as Christ loved the Church. This, it seems to me, is to lay aside our own interests for the betterment of our wives. Christ did this to the point of death. We husbands should do this up to the point of death for our wives.
Two Sides Of The Same Coin
It seems to me, the more I look at this example that Christ gave us, that they are really the same thing. Wives and husbands should be looking out for the betterment of each other. We should set aside our own interests for the betterment for each other. If this was taking place in our lives, there would be no controversy over the meaning of these verses. All of us should submit to one another and follow the example of our Lord. Our lives and the lives of our churches and the Church would be revolutionized.
How about you? Are you willing to biblically submit? Are you willing to biblically love?
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
There are lots of thoughts out there today about creatives. A lot of blogs are written about people who are referred to as creatives. I suppose, by definition, I am one since I write this blog on a daily basis. So, if this creating, then I am a creative. Despite what you think, you are too.
Really, it shouldn’t surprise us. We do have a creative Creator. After all, what does it say in the first verse of the Bible which I quoted above? The first act that we see that He did was Create. He created something out of nothing. By the time He got around to us, what else did He say? “Let us make man in our image!!!” Maybe we rush past that verse or maybe have different ideas about it. We usually only think of this in terms of holiness and perfection and the absence of sin. However, couldn’t it be more? More than we can imagine? And couldn’t that include creativity?
The problem is that Adam and Eve really mucked that one up for us, didn’t they? They ruined perfection. They ruined sinless lives. With that, they ruined our creativity. It didn’t disappear. It just became tainted. Those that did not fear created in so many ways that did not honor God. Those that did fear, simply quit creating. Today, many still live without that creative force in their lives. There is just one question I have to ask.
Why aren’t we creative? I’ve fought this for many years in my own life. I wanted to write for year after year. My wife encouraged me to write. Once, in a job interview, I was asked what I would do if money was no object. My answer was to write. What did I do? I went to work. I came home. I did my normal stuff. All of it, usually, pretty good. But I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do. Since I started writing this and my previous two blogs, I feel more alive than I have in years. Why? Because I am creating. I think that is the charge that God gave Adam and Eve. I believe that is the charge Christ gave with the Great Commission. Create. Make disciples. Make Me glorious. Use all of the skill, talent and gifts I have given you to glorify me. Create.
So What About You?
I’m not saying you have to write or sing or create in any particular way. We all have our talents and spiritual gifts that God has given us. Use them to create. If you are an accountant, create the greatest spreadsheet in the history of your company. If you are in the landscape business, create the best work possible for your clients. I don’t care how you do it. Create.
I read recently that thinking that serving this Creator of ours is boring is a sin. I agree. Glorify Him with the creativity that He has given you. Worship Him through this creativity. Enhance your other worship experiences that you have.
How are you creative? How has God gifted you and what creative talents has He given you?
Last Sunday, I wrote about preparing for a church search. A question that has to be asked, or most certainly will be asked, is. “What are you looking for in a church?” Since I’m just a little different from most people, for better or for worse, I approach that answer a little differently. I’m not looking for a certain size church. I’m not looking at a certain preaching style. I’m not looking for a certain style of music. The list I’m going to give is not original with me. It’s a list of characteristics that I’ve derived from Mark Dever’s little book, What Is A Healthy Church?
First, I’m looking for a church where the preaching is expositional. What I mean by that is that the one who proclaims the word does so in the context of the scripture. He tells the congregation what the word means before he ever tries to make any application to those of us listening. I understand that sometimes some stories will help illustrate, but don’t it shouldn’t be story time. The focus should be on the word of God. I think this is the center of worship for those of us who believe.
Second, I’m looking for a church where my biblical theology most lines up with theres. I want to go to a church where I am primarily on the same page as everyone else. Will some differences pop up? Sure. But I really want to be pulling in the same direction as the church I attend.
Next, I want the church to have a biblical understanding of the Gospel. This should be a given, but I’m not sure it is based on what I see and observe and hear from other folks. I want the church I attend to be united on this. Honestly, this should be central to the church.
Fourth, this church should have a biblical understanding of conversion. How does the church believes this takes place? Does it line up with what I believe the Bible teaches?
Fifth is a biblical understanding of evangelism. Does the church believe that they must sell the Gospel or do they present the gospel and trust the Lord to do His work?
Sixth is a biblical understanding of membership. What does the church believe about commitment? What are the expectations of the members? Are they high expectations or low expectations?
Seventh, I want to know if the church takes church discipline seriously. I don’t mean that the members are out looking for each other to screw up do that they can discipline them. I want to know that the church will not tolerate consistent, continuing sin and just gloss it over. I want to know that they will deal with it biblically.
Eighth, I want to know that this church will help me grow as a believer and follower of Christ. I want to know that what is going on in this church will make me more into what God wants me to be.
Finally, does this church have biblical church leadership. There can be a lot of disagreement with this. However, I believe that a church should have a plurality of elders. I believe that these in leadership are responsible for the spiritual direction of the church. I also believe that it helps keep the leadership accountable.
Now, are these things everything I’m looking for in a church? No. I think, though, that they are among the most important. Out of these, I am developing questions to ask myself and ask various people in the churches we visit so that I can determine if I want to land there. Please continue to pray for me.
What is important to you when thinking about looking for a church?
I am guest posting today over at Randomly Chad’s today. Check it out.
Chad hasn’t posted it yet because, well, he lives in Arizona and I don’t think he’s up yet. So you’ll have to wait a little bit before you will get to read it. It’s called All Roads Lead To Bacon and it’s nothing like anything you’ve ever read here. Why? Chad didn’t want a typical Deucology post. It was great to unleash something different from what I normally do. It’s random and silly.
While you’re over there, check out Chad’s other stuff. Chad has a heart for the Lord and for his family. He also loves Words With Friends which, as he pointed out, is a different kind of WWF than I am familiar.
Check it out. Chad will be guest posting over here soon.