At Harbor Church we have been walking through chapter 15 of the Gospel of John the past few weeks and looking at what it means to have an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. Last week, I read through Jonathan Dodson’s book on discipleship and thought there was some great insight into where our abiding relationships can go sideways. The first and last part of the book were so-so but the middle section is a gold mine.
In the middle section Jonathan talks about the ways we distort discipleship by trying to mature on our own away from Christ instead of resting in him and growing in a deeper understanding of his life, death, and resurrection – the heart of the Gospel message.
This book helped me take a look at my own discipleship and allowed me to see some areas that I can get off track in my relationship with Jesus and how to course correct and come back to a relationship of abiding love and grace instead of one where I attempt to prove my love and gratitude toward him.
If you feel stuck in a rut in your maturation and sanctification I would encourage you to check out this short and easy read for yourself.
It’s a cold, dark morning on the Winterhalter ranch. Every breath is visibly seen before me in a cloud of mist as I make my way to the barn shivering more violently every step I take away from the warm comfort of our house. My dad is away, high up on a mountain range hunting an animal that in my dreams I believe is a wild beast he will battle and bring home so that I might enjoy it as pepperoni sticks and jerky.
Because he is away I have been entrusted with the duties of making sure our livestock are fed before I leave for school.
I have always been a pretty confident person, probably due in large part to all of my experience performing for people on stage as a musician and actor from an early age. But I will never forget the day I called one of my best friends from New York telling him I was going to drop out of my masters degree program.
My confidence was at an all time low. In fact, I had hit the no-confidence rock bottom. I had no idea why I had even come to New York in the first place and I felt exposed as a fraud and someone with no talent whatsoever.
Have you ever done something nice for someone and it went unnoticed?
Have you ever had the opportunity to do something special for someone and when you did there was no reward, not even a thank you?
This is the story of my wife, Rachel. As some of you know, we have three children ages four, two, and six months. Rachel is a busy stay-at-home mom. Not only is there the busyness of keeping all three children on a daily schedule of meals, naps, education, play time, etc, there is also the work of staying on top of managing our crazy household with things like cleaning, laundry, and a long list of things that make my remaining hair fallout or turn grey.
Take a quick moment to think about how today went. Did you accomplish what you set out to do? Did you finish the items on your to-do list? Or was your day a bit scatter brained? Maybe your tired, even exhausted after another day with not much to show for? Today, I want to share with you something that I’m doing to help maximize my daily schedule.
There are many different ways to schedule out your day, but one thing remains consistent between all schedules, we all have a 24 hours to fill.
Today is Opening Day for Major League Baseball and tomorrow is the official Opening Day for the Seattle Mariners, my baseball team since childhood. I could bemoan for hours how Seattle faces another long season of baseball ahead but I thought I would find more joy in spending a few moments starting a conversation about our own “Opening Days.”
For baseball, Opening Day falls right around the 1st of April every year and is preceded by Spring Training and followed by a 162 game season. We have all sorts of Opening Days in our lives.
With a lot of discussion this week surrounding how Christians are active in eradicating global poverty and need, I thought I’d keep us in this same vein of thought and conversation. So here’s the question of the day in two parts: Why do we serve those in need and how did we come to our current mindset of how we actively participate in this endeavor?
For me, there are two great books that have helped me work through both a local and global mindset of serving those in need.
In light of the controversy surrounding the policy changes and then reversal at World Vision this week I have spent considerable time thinking through how people have been handling this news. I was surprised, not in seeing people come to the support of World Vision, but rather, how many of these people were reacting to those who were considering pulling their monthly support of this organization.
What I was reading via blogs and social media posts boiled down to this for me:
Christians have a duty to care for the widow and the orphan and pulling your support, no matter what World Vision does, is abandonment of the child you said you would support and shows you care more about theology than showing the love of Christ.
As of today, March 26th, World Vision has reversed its decision according to this article in Christianity Today
. I’m thankful that their leadership listened to wise, biblical counsel and I trust that the men who supported the initial policy change have repented of any sin that might have led them to this decision. We all face decisions on a daily basis where we have the opportunity to give into the fear of man. May Jesus continue to give us strength and courage though the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in our lives as we face such decisions.
Yesterday, World Vision, the global non-profit organization that brings aid and resources to people in need all over the world, announced a new policy for hiring employees in its American branch. According to this article in Christianity Today, President Richard Stearns announced they will now no longer require their employees to restrict their sexual activity to marriage between one man and one woman allowing people in same-sex marriages to be employed at one of America’s largest Christian charities.
While the world responds on their social media platform of choice, I thought I’d take a moment to work through my own initial thoughts.
I have been reading this book, “Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl” by N.D. Wilson over the weekend and am really enjoying it. Nate Wilson, the son of Douglas Wilson who is himself a noted, Evangelical theologian, pastor, and author, writes this book to encourage Christians of the grandiosity yet closeness of God while leading those who would lean more agnostic or atheist toward an apologetic of the same. For me, this book had a similar effect as Tim Keller’s, “A Reason for God”, which I also highly recommend. While Keller’s writing is more of a systematic approach, Wilson writes more like an artist in the vein of Pollack spraying the canvas of this book with the paint of Biblical truths to reveal a clear and articulate work that will leave you encouraged by the activity of our Creator God all around us and hopefully giving you a desire to know more about the life of Jesus. If you are not a big reader, N.D. Wilson also has a DVD that leads you along an abbreviated version of the book, which I also own and recommend.