Defining The Gospel

•September 12, 2009 • 1 Comment

So it’s been quite some time since I’ve posted anything on the blog. I could easily blame it on camp this summer or an overwhelming amount of school work, but it’s probably more because of complacency, distraction, and downright laziness. So I apologize for the lack of posting on my part, but that’s soon to change.

Over the summer I worked at the Christian summer camp known as Crossings. It was an amazing and life altering experience that I hope to relive one day in the near future. While I was leading a bible study this summer, composed of students ranging from the sixth grade to the twelfth grade, I realized that very few, if any of them, knew the basic words I was using to describe the gospel. Words like grace, faith, cross, and sin eluded them. I had to carefully explain the meaning and connotations behind each of them as we walked through the absolutely amazing and life changing news of Jesus and his bringing us to life. At the same time, however, I realized that I had often assumed that I knew the meaning and connotations of these words. Looking back, these words carried very ambiguous meanings and connotations. The true implications of their use in scripture was a mystery. My lack of understanding of these seemingly basic words disturbed me. So when I got back to Union University I immediately approached four of the wisest men I know and together we decided that we would flesh out these meanings. We figured that between the five of us we could come up with a definition that makes sense to not only theologians, but our neighbors and friends as well. So for the next seven months or so, we will tackle a different word each week. We will be looking at the gospel as a whole and the words that we often view as “basic”. What does scripture say about such things as “grace”, “faith”, or “sin”? How does our understanding of the gospel effect the way we live? How do we convey these big and oftentimes intimidating words to our friends, families, and those around us? These are questions we’ll be tackling as we get down to the roots. We are pumped to see what God has to reveal to us.

 -Jordan

Honoring our Seniors

•May 24, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Today I will  have the distinct pleasaure of honoring our Seniors. We will take a few minutes just to recognize five very special people in our church and student ministry. I have to be honest this day will be bitter sweet for me. Although I am excited for and  extremly proud of these five students, it will hard to see them go.  I’ve  had the pleasure to bring the word of God into their lives week after week for the past six months, it’s amazing to watch God work in the lives of these students.

Preston, Heather, Raye, Sam, and Ivy, I love you guys.  I want you to know that you guys are being lifted up in prayer today. To all the parents, thank you for letting Shivonne and myself be apart of your kids lives.

Praising God when Convenient

•April 28, 2009 • 1 Comment

This past week we spent our time in Daniel Chapter 3:1-7. The first thing that we read is that King Nebuchadnezzar is building a golden image of himself, placing it on the plain of Dura, for all to see his greatness. We found it ironic that this is the first thing we read, because if you look back at Ch. 2:46-47 you will find Nebuchadnezzar falling on his face and paying homage to Daniel. You will find him proclaiming that our God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries. How is it that Nebuchadnezzar can be  praising God in one breath and pleasing himself in the next? How can he turn to pleasing himself and no longer be praising God, knowing that God is the one that had revealed his dream to him and knowing that Daniel, a man of God, had revealed the meaning of the dream to him. How does this happen?  We said Sunday that when we face trials, when tough times come, we run to God, we seek an answer. But when the trial has passed and we are no longer scared or worried, we begin to think we can do this on our own, forgetting who brought us through the trial. We began to think, like Nebuchadnezzar, that we are great and we forget who put us in the position that we are in. You may not be raising golden images of yourself but you begin to build towers of pride. 

We asked the question earlier, how is it that Nebuchadnezzar can be praising God in one breath and pleasing self in the next. Let me ask you how can we as Christians do the same? Sunday morning we are flying high, we love our God  our hands raised high, voices singing praises to our King, then Monday comes. We are no longer surrounded by a body of believers, the spiritual high that we had a few short hours ago can’t be found. We find ourselves just like the jewish men in vs.7 bowing down to something other than Christ. It’s probably not to a golden image, but as we said Sunday anything that takes the place of praising God becomes something that we are bowing down to. What are you bowing down to today? Does American Idol or 24 get more of your time than Christ? Do you find yourself scheduling everything around what television show you are going to watch rather than Christ being the center piece of every day? Do you find yourself just fitting in with friends because sharing the word of God would cause you to be an outcast? Christ tell us that “Whoever saves his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for the sake of the Good News will save it.” We are going to see this next week, when we learn that Christ will not only get you through the trials, He will stand with you through the fire. Begin to seek God and and think about the things you do this week. Are you making Christ the center and core of your life or do you only run to Him when you are going through tough times? Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of only praising Him when convenient.

-Alan

People Pleasing…for the Glory of God

•April 22, 2009 • 1 Comment

So, after spending 3 posts demonizing people pleasing, I’m going to recommend that there needs to be more of it happening in our churches, and that I need to be doing a better job.

This series of posts was birthed after reading a passage of Scripture that I never really paid attention to before a few weeks ago. I had always believed that you can either live your life to please people; to win their approval and admiration; or you can live in such a way that pleases God. The two were in conflict. Even Paul asks in Galatians, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Gal. 1:10)

But after reading this passage, I have begun to look at things a little differently…

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. -1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1 (italics mine)

So Paul here examines the motive for seeking to please others. It’s not for his advantage, but that others could experience redemption and forgiveness in Christ. The motivation for people pleasing we discussed in the first 3 posts was selfishness and pride. But Paul shows us a better way.

I’d LOVE the opportunity to discuss this with some of you.

What do you think he’s talking about? In what way does he adapt his personality, non-essential beliefs and/or personal preferences to keep from adding offense to the gospel? What are some popular attitudes within our Christian subculture that need to be done away with in order to see salvation come? What are some of your behaviors or non-essential beliefs that turn off unbelievers to the gospel?

**Please note that I’m talking about the things outside of the Bible as we could never give up ground on things like the exclusivity of Christ and the authority of Scripture over our lives.

~Nathan

Who’s the Bigger Geek?

•April 14, 2009 • 8 Comments

This week you will decide who is the bigger dork myself or Josh Howerton. If you were at the Bridge this week,  you heard a powerful message on the resurrection not only of Christ but the resurrection of all who are saved in Christ. Near the end of the sermon Josh began to express his love for hobbits named Frodo and wizards with names like Gandalf.(Great illustration to drive home the point of the sermon, by the way) It’s almost like Josh wants to be a Hobbit. He watches the movies, has read the books like six times, the only thing he needs is pointed ears, funny shoes and green tights. What more has to be said.

Now for me. If you have been around me for any length of time at all you know that I am a small, very small, fan of Will Smith. I’ve seen all his movies, can quote Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (every episode) have most of his music, and will pre-order (weeks in advance) tickets to his up and coming movies. Maybe I’m a little more than a small fan, but lets face it, Will Smith is one of, if not the greatest actor in Hollywood.

Now it is up to you to decide. Who is the bigger geek?

~Alan

A Good Friday Cursing

•April 10, 2009 • Leave a Comment

~Nathan

People Pleasing Part 3

•April 7, 2009 • Leave a Comment

In part 1 of this series, we looked at what people pleasing was and how it can take shape in the life of a follower of Christ. In this post, we’ll talk about how people pleasing steals glory that is due to God, undermines relationships by living a lie, and leads a believer into additional temptation rather than away from it.

1. Glory Thievery-God alone is all-powerful, self-sufficient and sovereign. When we act in a way that communicates that we are the “master of our own destiny,” this robs God of the glory that is due him and sets the believer up for numerous pitfalls. We draw attention to and boast of our own power, wealth and accomplishments when God is the One Who allows us to draw our next breath. 

2. Fractured Relationships-People pleasing prevents others from knowing us in reality, with all of our fears, sin, hopes and dreams remaining hidden. We can find no real meaning or benefit in relationships if people don’t know us as we are. Rather than focusing on how we can meet the needs of others, we selfishly seek to prop up an image of strength and wisdom, depriving people of the blessing of our true presence.

3. Vulnerability to Temptation-One source of support God has given His Church is His Church. When Christians are struggling with a certain sin or addiction, their first instinct is to hide it and pretend that all is well. This is actually the most harmful thing that can be done, as it deprives us of receiving accountability, prayer,  encouragement and wisdom from people who have gone through similar temptations and struggles. In James we are commanded to confess our sins to one another, that we may be healed.

Should we expect healing without confession?

 

~Nathan