This looks like an interesting resource for parents, mentors, and youth leaders. It takes on this issues of the transition from teenager living at home to college student/young adult. It covers issues of dealing with new found freedom vs. the consequences of choices made. It uses clips from the movie and excerpts from the book to start discussions on the topics. I’m wondering if anyone has reviewed this resource and can share their experience with it.
World Vision is a great organization working to relieve all kinds suffering in the name of Christ. If you’re looking for a way to put your faith into action this Lenten season, check out this link.
Today begins a 14 week journey of faith called Ashes to Fire. It begins in the ashes of repentance and reflection. Ashes are an ancient symbol of death. The ancients had a much closer relationship with death than we do today. Hospitals, nursing homes, and funeral homes keep us separated strangely from our mortality. One thing we can’t separate ourselves from is grief. As Coldplay reminds us: sometimes you “lose something you can’t replace.” It became a tradition to make a physical statement of loss and reflection by covering oneself with ashes and even tearing garments or putting on obviously uncomfortable ones. No need to pretend or save face. Something or someone important has been lost. It’ll be a while before we’re restored to normal. Sackcloth and Ashes.
Physical death and grief are devastating realities. But so is spiritual death caused by sin. When we realize we’ve been on a wrong path sometimes we need a powerful symbol to validate a definite u-turn. Sin is anything that gets in-between us and God.
It could be just about anything: Disobedience to known commands from Scripture. Disobedience to the guiding voice of the Spirit or our conscience. Preoccupation with things of the world (entertainments, material goods, career advancement, even family) which keeps us consistently from being close to God. Unforgiveness toward the sins and imperfections of others. Lustful thoughts, overly sensual attitudes or dress, allowing are eyes to wander are also examples of sins. Pride of life or dress. Spiritual pride toward the outward sins of others. Spiritual hypocrisy of hiding our true motives. Half-hearted devotion or service to God. Unbridled anger. The list could be endless. But the results are similar. Spiritual death. Scripture warns us as soon as we become aware of sin we should confess it and deal with it before God and others.
But there is value in regularly and intentionally bringing both of these realities together in a public way. All of us will die someday and therefore must live sober lives. All of us have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. None of us are so holy as to not have areas of life which need renewal. So Ash Wednesday is like a big family meeting where everybody checks in with their commitment to God above all. It’s a solemn assembly that reminds us all that repentance is the only path to forgiveness. God is our only hope for eternal life. We admit that we are prone to drift away from Him if we just leave it in default mode.
And so we come. Apart from work and family and chores and entertainments. We come to God. We acknowledge we were born in sin and will die forever unless we receive God’s grace. Sin is serious business and we are having a going-out-of-business sale. Ashes on the forehead symbolize that we know we are dust and desire to have spiritual life, given by God. We kneel, we are marked with a cross. We rise in repentance. We pray for newness of life. We rehearse the great forgiveness that is ours. And we wipe away the ashes, anticipating a renewed walk with God. Just a simple ceremony. We could totally phone it in or fake it. Absolutely. Nothing magical about it. But for a few moments each year there is a fresh reminder of how deadly sin is and how amazing grace is. Why not do it for real? And should we stumble again before next year, we’ll remember how big a deal it is and know exactly what to do: repent, take it seriously, and be assured of forgiveness before sin swallows us up. We lose things we can’t replace. We break things we can’t fix ourselves. But God can. Ash Wednesday.
We begin in the ashes of repentance. By the grace of God we rise to seek Him more and grow in grace between now and Pentecost at the end of May. So let’s begin the journey with Jesus together.
Ever get stuck in the mud, wheels spinning? Mud is yesterday’s treasures and worries eroded by time back to the dust from which we came. When our thoughts are drifting back, we fail to be fully present to today, the only day we can change. The Good Old Days weren’t as great as we thought. The bad old days weren’t as bad as we feared because we’re still here. Still living. But are we fully alive?
Every morning the mercies of God are new. Grace for today. It’s not enough to cover our preoccupation with the past. God’s plan is for us to give yesterday to Him and receive grace. Just enough grace for today. Today. Drop everything and embrace what God has for you today. Celebrate the past. Grieve the losses. But live in today. Let God put His Spirit in you, healing, restoring, and beginning a new work called today. Get on with living. So many others need to be set free. Embrace God’s mission of letting your light shine right where you are. In serving others your past will be fully redeemed for their benefit and your healing. Today.
(I’m indebted to Nooma #17 Today) you can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tQ82LSSeZ0&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Connect with Engage the Word at NewHope Community Church Click on the Bible logo and get signed up for daily readings sent to your inbox. Join us on this 40 Day journey through the Bible! Pray. Read. Reflect. Respond.
When God delivered the Israelites from the hand of Pharaoh, it was a mighty act. Pharaoh did not believe it was possible. That’s how it worked. After the plagues, he let the people go, even giving them valuables to support the journey. But then he had a change of mind. He pursued God’s people to the edge of the sea. As they were essentially trapped, panic set-in. “Why did you bring us out here to die in the desert? It was better back in Egypt!,” the people cried. But Moses wasn’t buying it.
“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today…the LORD will fight for you; you need only be still.”
Moses was a true leader. On this day his faith was at the forefront of his mind and heart, where it could actually function. He knew that the LORD alone had gotten them this far. He also trusted that God didn’t bring them this far to abandon them now. So, he declared the simple truth that could save all of us considerable stress in life. “Do not be afraid.” Well, fear is a pretty normal response when the army of an empire is about the crush you. “Do not be afraid. Stand firm…” But they saw Pharaoh’s army! “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you WILL see the deliverance the LORD WILL bring to you today…” But they wondered why Moses or God allowed them to be in this spot. Surely it was poor planning or recklessness! And this is the same mistake we make today.
We think that being in God’s will means no problems. As soon as trouble hits, we’re ready to try something else! When circumstances surprise us, we who testify to being believers can become atheists. We act as if God doesn’t exist or at least doesn’t matter. Our first response is often to try to “figure out” how to fix our problems. But as believers, perhaps our first move should be to look to God. How often do we truly pray first? In a very real way our battle is always the LORD’s. We should never assume that God is surprised just because we are. In the New Testament, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world!”
At that moment, Moses realized why they couldn’t have faith. Because their eyes were fixed on circumstances. But if they would stop fearing and stand firm (both implying trust in God’s power) they would then “see the deliverance the LORD WILL bring. He hasn’t brought it yet. He allowed this to happen, but He has a plan to deliver us. “The LORD will fight for you; you need only be still.” This is a challenge to step up my faith. How about you? In times of challenge our frantic actions cannot deliver us. Freaking out never helps. God understands how tight things are. God has a plan. God WILL deliver us if we stop actively fearing and stand firm, watching Him work. And what wonders they saw…
So the question falls to us. Do we believe? If you’re up against it today, can you make the choice to stop fearing and allow God to help you stand firm? Can you get your eyes off circumstances and keep them fixed on God? Can you look with expectant eyes for His deliverance? Take heart. If you’re a fully devoted follower of Jesus, you’ve got one incredible captain! I’m going to Engage the Word today and let it guide my steps, trusting in God’s plan. I’ll stay on His mission, not getting distracted. I fully intend to see the salvation of my God today! Let’s believe God and experience his deliverance together!
I was moved tonight to be thankful for sound doctrine. In the Church of the Nazarene we have a great gift called the Manual. One of the reasons I started this blog was to express publicly how much I value our tradition as stated in the Manual.
Recent books and sermons on hell and heaven are another opportunity to highlight what’s right about our doctrine. We are careful to let Scripture be our guide. So we believe salvation is for all who repent of their sins, confess Jesus as Lord, and faithfully follow him. We don’t believe in a limited atonement. Whosoever will may come to Jesus. But we also follow the Bible on judgment. Everlasting punishment awaits all who fail to repent and/or callously reject Jesus as Lord.
Rob Bell, for example, wants to question this idea based on the philosophical idea that this makes God mean. But we’re not God so it’s not our place to reject clear Scriptures because we’re uncomfortable with the results. Mark Driscoll, on the other hand, goes so far as to teach (along with John Piper and others) that one must agree with him on hell to avoid going there. The Bible has a lot to say about punishment for false teachers. But The New Testament is clear: it’s what we believe and obey concerning Jesus which determines our destiny. That he’s the Son of God, that he came in the flesh, that he died for the sins of the world, was raised and is coming again to judge us all. But there is room for some variety on some details about judgment, hell, and heaven, where Scripture is less specific. But it’s pretty safe to say that no one will be in hell because they interpreted the Scriptures differently, unless their belief keeps them from repenting, confessing faith in, and following Jesus.
Thankfully, the Nazarene church has hammered out (and continues to study and debate for greater accuracy) clear doctrines on all major issues. These are found in The Articles of Faith. But the church has also pared these down to an Agreed Statement of Belief, which reflects the most foundational Christian beliefs (such as the Apostles Creed, etc…) as the required faith profession for membership. These are the things Scripture is undeniably clear on in multiple places, being affirmed in every age of Christianity.
I encourage you to go to nazarene.org for more information.
Recently some of our views have come under attack from relative newcomers who are committed to Reformed Tradition ideas. (As are Bell, Driscoll, and Piper). We are part of the Wesleyan-Holiness Tradition, not reformed. As one professor at Olivet Nazarene University said, “Issues like emergent are not primarily our fight. They are more of a family fight in the reformed movement. As Wesleyans we aren’t hung up on these questions.” Discipleship and evangelism form our mission.
Rob Bell has been an interesting figure, because even though he’s reformed, he believes in free will. So sometimes Nazarenes have been intrigued by him, but none I know would say he represents our views. As I pointed out in my review of his book, his views are different than ours. Quite different. But not so different as to call him unChristian. I have no agenda but truth and love in reviewing his book or in any other comments/posts I make.
I’m thankful for sound, biblical doctrine. Nazarene doctrine. Because it’s good classical Christian doctrine. I want to teach and preach that good news until Jesus returns or calls me home.
If you don’t know Jesus or even about him, can I challenge you to read the New Testament and check out a church? Jesus can save you from your sins, help you change your world, and get you ready for heaven! Join us at NewHope Community Church of the Nazarene This Sunday 10:30am, we’ll actually search for Jesus in the Scriptures! Be part of it!
Follow the above link to a fascinating article on the endlessly interesting saga of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. It’s good journalism because it carefully reveals thousands of years of history while explaining current tensions. To me this sifting project would be in my top 5 ultimate field trips. I’m especially interested in the 7th century figurines, the Herodian floor tiles, the inscriptions from Jeremiah’s period and the coins. These are all from decisive moments in the development of Judaism’s full understanding of God, which formed the foundation for the New Testament.
It’s more difficult than ever to claim that Solomon’s Temple isn’t under the Dome of the Rock. In a perfect world, modern excavation techniques could unearth treasures, while leaving existing structures and peace agreements undisturbed.
How amazing would it be to be able to take an elevator down to stand where King David stood, or raise arms toward heaven where Solomon did on Temple dedication day? But alas it would likely unleash such turmoil the price would be too high. Totally confirms in me that religion is not the world’s problem. The problem is the will to power, using religion as a front. Politically-minded men have too often ascended to religious leadership. This is a bad combination. Makes me think of the movie, Kingdom of Heaven… And so the creation groans, along with us, for the fullness of salvation to be revealed… How long, O, Lord?
It’s easy to judge from an armchair, but where are the growing edges of our own faith journey? John the Baptizer said, “I must become less, that he [Christ] become greater still.” In this Lenten season we’re reminded that we can’t always get what we want. And sometimes that’s for the best. Jesus emptied himself of all but love on the way to the cross. Are there artifacts we need to let go of? Do we need help from friends to sift through decades of “stuff”, to find the real treasures? Is the landscape of our journey defined by altars of worship or bloody battlefields of selfishness? Almost a month remains before Easter. What’s beneath your Temple Mount? What story is told from the artifacts of your journey?
Jesus of Nazareth Part Two, Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem To The Resurrection [Kindle Edition]
Pope Benedict XVI (Author)
Just started reading this book. I haven’t read any works by the sitting Pope, so it’s a first. I hope it’s not a last. The first few pages jump around quite a bit. He says he’s writing from a faith hermeneutic (doing interpretation unapologetically as a person of faith) but with due attention to historical exegesis, within its limits. He says his goal is to reveal Jesus in a fresh way, making him accessible to 21st century people. I like what he’s setting out to do. I hope I start enjoying what he’s actually done a little more…and soon!
Yeah, he’s, like ,Catholic and I’m, like, not. I’m Nazarene (an Evangelical Wesleyan-Holiness Protestant Christian denomination-similar to Methodist). But I share his desire to connect with the most essential aspects of Jesus. I’ll need to remember how different our concepts of authority are and hold onto my tradition. But it’s less of a stretch for us Wesleyans than say, Reformed people. We’ve always reached back to the early Church Fathers in interpretation. (Not that Reformed people don’t) Most of the time we’ve been pretty ecumenical.
He and I agree that what Jesus did in the last week of his life changed the world forever. Nothing is the same. There is now hope for this world. I hope this book avoids sectarian doctrinal detours and simply helps the reader follow Jesus all the way to the cross & resurrection!
I’ll let you know what I learn!
Grace and Peace
“Remember, from dust you came, and to dust you shall return.”
Today the Lenten journey began. Lent is about considering our mortality and dependence on God who will one day judge the earth. It’s about numbering your days so you see the value of each moment. It’s about becoming less so God becomes greater in your life. It’s about following Jesus’ example of emptying yourself of all but love. It’s also about making room in your life for others. Don’t let the journey inward keep you from what Jesus called the will of the father. John 4 tells us Jesus at times went without food in order to share faith with people far from God. So as you draw nearer to God, remember how his heart beats for those far from him. Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in your life and mine!
Grace and Peace