Sticks and Stones

Posted July 28, 2014 by Dan Rockwell
Categories: Christian Living, Faith

Tags: ,

Use what you have. Stop worrying about what you don’t have.

If God can use sticks and stones, he can use you, right now.

stones

Stones:

David faced Goliath with 5 smooth stones in 1Samuel 17. Can you throw a stone?

Reject the false belief that dramatic results require unusual skills and resources. There’s nothing special about picking up and throwing rocks. David used simple skills and meager resources to get a big job done.

What’s special about the David/Goliath story is the faith David exhibited.

Faith isn’t about resources or guaranteed results.

Sticks:

Moses told God, “Suppose they say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to him?’”

God asked, “What’s in your hand?”

Moses was holding a walking stick in Exodus 4. God said, “Throw it on the ground.” It turned into a snake. How hard is it to throw a stick on the ground?

Our issue is trusting God to use what we have.

You’re too worried about what you don’t have. I wonder what God could do with what you have?

An Open Serving Policy

Posted July 8, 2014 by Dan Rockwell
Categories: Christian Living, Grace, Serving, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , ,

Greystone Bakery taught me about grace once again.

Anyone that comes to the front door of their bakery is given the chance to work, no questions asked. When a job becomes available they take the next person off the waiting list and give them a job.

keep out

I want to be part of a church that has an “open” serving policy. Anyone who wants to serve, can. This doesn’t mean they can do whatever they want, in whatever way they want.

There are standards and expectations for certain types of service. Elders and deacons are held to higher standards than others. But, graceful churches, like Jesus, can adopt an open serving policy. Think of the band of misfits Jesus used. One of them wasn’t even a believer.

The open hiring policy of Greystone says your past isn’t your future.

Reluctance:

  1. Children need protection from predators.
  2. Financial integrity is essential.
  3. Quality of service needs to be held high.

In other words, open serving doesn’t mean anyone can do anything. But, its incumbent for those who believe in grace to express grace by providing places of service for anyone.

Religious pressure:

Could it be that you are worried about what other believers think? After all, what would “they” think if the person who is passing out bulletins was drunk last night?

I’d rather offend a religious person than belittle an unbeliever by excluding them, unnecessarily.

Bigger issue:

The bigger issue is you feel superior to “them.” Your sins aren’t as bad as their sins. But, you don’t have permission to look down on outsiders, especially when Jesus loves them and died for them.

Low responsibility jobs have low or no standards. For example, the next time you take out the garbage, ask the guy who was drunk last night to help.

Better than Jesus?

Posted June 28, 2014 by Dan Rockwell
Categories: Christian Living

Tags:

Jesus welcomed children. We aren’t better than Jesus, are we?

little boy

Matthew 19:13–14 (ESV)

13Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

The disciples didn’t understand the Jesus way of living. They were stuck thinking about position and power. Children didn’t enhance their status.

The way churches think about children indicates their spiritual health. Sick churches ignore or minimize children’s ministry. Healthy churches prioritize it.

If parents brought their children to Jesus, why aren’t they bringing their children to us? Matthew indicates they came because of what they received. Parents wanted Jesus to touch their children and pray for them. What does this mean for us?

  1. Forget about status.
  2. Serve those who can’t serve in return.
  3. Express appreciation for children.
  4. Respond to the concerns of parents.
  5. Elevate and honor people who give themselves to children’s ministry.

The way Jesus responded to children was nothing short of revolutionary.

Tell me how your church treats children and I’ll tell you if your church is like Jesus. In a healthy church, children are part of the church.

Luke 9:46–48 (ESV)

46An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. 47But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side 48and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”

Being like Jesus means treating children like they belong, rather than like they are an incumberance. If the least of these are great, then children are great.

Why God Whispers

Posted June 2, 2014 by Dan Rockwell
Categories: Christian Living, Christology, Faith, Jesus

Tags: ,

When you’re as big as God, its easy to overwhelm people. Everyone who ever caught a glimpse of His power or glory, fell to the ground.

whisper

I’ve had believers ask me why God isn’t more obvious or direct. Why all the guess work?

Pudding or people:

If He wanted to turn us into puddles of pudding, He’d just have to peel back the curtain and let us see Him. A loud voice from heaven would do it for most of us.

When he arrived, Jesus laid aside the full display of his glory to establish a new way of relating to mankind.

Jesus is God’s whisper to humanity.

Two reasons God whispers:

First, God wants us to walk by faith. Faith requires uncertainty and ambiguity. You might think you want God to tell you more, but, too much clarity undermines daily dependence.

Ask yourself, why God wants you to depend on Him. Is He needy? Or is there something more?

Second, God wants meaningful relationship. Human dignity and volition are essential. Meaningful relationship ends when God starts yelling from heaven, and so, He whispers.

You may feel close to God when His voice seems loud and His presence feels obvious, but, you’ll know him best in a whisper – Jesus.

The Right Idea – The Wrong Idea

Posted May 5, 2014 by Dan Rockwell
Categories: Christian Living, Freedom, Grace, Love, Sin, Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

Grace is under-appreciated and abused. But, protecting grace from being abused turns some into self-righteous rule-makers.

wondering

I was reminded yesterday that people might get the wrong idea when they hear a graceful message from the Bible. The “wrong” idea is that sin doesn’t matter.

Paul was concerned the Roman believers might get the wrong idea.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? Romans 6:1 (ESV)

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? Romans 6:15 (ESV)

10 Observations:

  1. You haven’t taught grace until people start asking, “Does sinning matter?”
  2. Grace always goes one step beyond your sin, regardless of how much you sin (Rom. 5:20).
  3. Don’t solve your concerns about abuse by re-instituting the law. We aren’t under law (Rom 6:15)
  4. Sin has negative consequences, even for people under grace.
  5. Believers who fall into sin need more grace not less.
  6. Grace changes us from the inside out.
  7. Laws don’t have power to change us. Telling people what not to do never changes their heart.
  8. Freedom in grace is freedom to love and be loved.
  9. The standards of grace are higher and nobler than law. We live by the law of love.
  10. Holy living must be freely embraced.

Source of concern:

Why was Paul concerned that believers might get the wrong idea about grace? Because he was teaching in a way that might give people the “wrong” idea.

The question, “Does behavior matter,” only comes up when you teach that people are made right with God by faith, apart from behaviors. (Rom 4:5).

The idea that someone could be righteous before God and have unrighteousness in their life is astonishing. Grace is astonishing.

Can grace be abused? You abuse it everyday.

Should we remind people that sin matters? Paul did.

Why Have you Forsaken Me

Posted April 7, 2014 by Dan Rockwell
Categories: Christian Living, Jesus, Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

dark

During his darkest hours, Jesus craved connection.

Matthew 27:45–46 (ESV)

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

In the darkness Jesus kept crying out to God, “Why have you forsaken me?”

Craving

We crave connection when things are the darkest.

Being alone makes everything worse.

Jesus nearly died the night before the crucifixion.

Matthew 26:38 (ESV)

Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”

“… watch with me.” Do you feel his desire for connection?

Jesus desire for connection is scattered through the New Testament.

  • “I am the vine. You are the branches.” Jn. 15:5
  • “I in them and You in me.” – Jn. 17:23
  • “Remember me.” – Lk. 22:19 (Lit. “In remembrance of me)

The human craving for connection finds it’s roots in a God who embraces and looks for connection.

“Where are you Adam.” Gen. 3:9

Connecting factors:

  • We only connect with those we trust.
  • Transparency and vulnerability fuel connection. Fakers can’t connect.
  • Connection suggests acceptance.
  • Judging others destroys connection.

Glorify God and Pass the Salt

Posted March 27, 2014 by Dan Rockwell
Categories: Christian Living, Love, Uncategorized

Tags: ,

Christians say, “Glorify God,” as easily as, “Pass the salt.” Actually, pass the salt may have more meaning.

salt

We exist to glorify God. The Church exists to glorify God. Even, nature exists to glorify God. But, glorifying God isn’t a mystical experience that happens in isolation.

One behavior best exemplifies what it means to glorify God.

One purpose:

Everything the Church does has one purpose – winning people to Jesus and helping them grow so they can win people to Jesus. We are here to win people.

Paul teaches us that the Church is the body of Christ. Luke tells us that Jesus came to seek and save the lost. So, if we are the body of Christ, we are here to seek and save the lost.

Lets give teeth to religious language and say that everything the Church is here to do one basic thing – win people to Jesus and help them grow so they can win people to Jesus. Nothing less. Nothing more. Nothing else.

Everything:

What the Church does:

  1. Teaching
  2. Fellowship
  3. Worship
  4. Support
  5. Encouragement
  6. Friendship
  7. Social engagement
  8. Meeting needs
  9. You name it ….

Everything we do traces back to one objective, win people to Jesus.

The “edification of the saints,” is so they can win people.

Teaching the Bible loses it’s ultimate purpose if it doesn’t equip us to win people. Furthermore, fellowship isn’t just for our comfort and enjoyment. It’s to enable us to win people.

Winning people gives purpose and meaning to everything believers do. Without the objective of winning people, we’re just going through the motions and God is not glorified, regardless of what you do.

Method:

The method is as clear as the mission. Love people.

Now that I think about it, glorifying God is a bit like passing the salt.


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