The True Neverending Story

HERE’S THE TRUTH:
You have found yourself in the midst of a story. Your story. Your life is a story and even now, as you sit here reading this, your story is being written. Here are some things to know about this story.
1. You don’t know where you are in the story: You know it’s not the beginning of your story, that was years ago, when you were born. But you aren’t really sure what chapter you are on. Some books are short, like brochures, and others are long winding novels. You may be close to the end of your story, but you really don’t know. Like many books, sometimes the chapters end abruptly and a character arc is cut short. The interesting thing about this story is you can’t see how many pages are left, so you have to just keep reading.
2. You don’t know the synopsis or the cliff notes of this story. As much as I love to read, I also like to look at the back cover to see what the story is about before I start a book. But this book is unlike others, you can’t read a summary of the book. You have no idea what is going to happen and unlike some books that have predictable endings, this book never seems to go the way you think it should.
3. You might not be the main character. This is your story, but you are not the main character in this book. You might actually be the supporting character in someone else’s story. Maybe you are the villian. Or perhaps you are the comic relief. Either way, you should probably not read this book as to being about you. Your significance in the story isn’t found in you, it’s found in how you support the other characters in the story.
4. This story is dangerous. Unlike superhero novels, in this story, you get hurt. You experience heartache, pain and suffering. And through it all, you always seem to push through. You’ve made it this far, as you say. But you realize that at some point, this story is a tragedy, because you will die. The pages are littered with foreshadowing of your demise. Perhaps you will go peacefully in the night, or maybe you won’t. Only time will tell.
5. Your story has an author. All books are written by someone, but the unique thing about your story is that you can know your author. You can speak to him. You can interact with him. You can love Him. And what’s even more unique is that the author of your story actually wrote himself into the book, even though the pages he is mentioned on are now stained red. The Author has promised that if you trust Him to finish writing your story, he will include you in another book: The Book of Life.
In the midst of all the madness of this world. The reality is that no matter how many people die from a virus or a flu or car accidents, no one is promised tomorrow. Your story will end and most of us will receive very little if any notice at all. It will simply end. But if you have put your trust in the Author of Life, then you really have nothing to fear because you will be written into the sequel. You will be in the next book and that book is the true neverending story.
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Love Lock: Creating Lasting Connections With The One You Love

Marriage books can be a dime a dozen, so I was somewhat skeptical when I was approached by email asking if I would review a book on marriage. The title of the book is Love Lock: Creating Lasting Connections with the One You Love written by Rich Rollins and Marty Trammell.Love-Lock-Large-Front-668x1024

“In our socially networked but disconnected age, we all find ourselves longing for a stronger, deeper connection!” Says the tagline on the back of the book.

I’m no expert in marriage, but I have read a few marriage books over the years and took a class in bible college on Marriage and Family. I typically divide marriage books into one of two styles: thought-provoking or practical. This book tries to bridge that divide without breaking much new ground, though depending on your experience this may be totally new ground for you. And while this book leans toward the practical, which I do like, it doesn’t overdo it. It’s a good mix between the two.

Each chapter of Love Lock typically starts with a short story to illustrate the greater point of the chapter. I really enjoyed that approach. It gave me a real life example to relate to before tackling the greater subject at hand. Rollins and Trammell do a great job in selecting the right stories to give readers a better understanding of the topic at hand.

The book is broken down by six of our basic needs in relationships: I need to feel understood, I need to feel valued, I need to feel a part of you, I need to feel appreciated and cherished, I need to trust you and I need more resolution, less conflict.

“This book is our studied response to the needs we’ve observed in our combined sixty years of counseling, and it is our humble attempt to point out the Bible’s answers to the growing loneliness and lack of connection documented in research journals,” says Rollins and Trammell.

Overall I found this book to be a worthy read with a few disclaimers. I do feel it would be a little more timely for couples who find themselves in the midst of conflict. And secondly, I do feel it’s more geared towards couples who are younger.

Should Worship Music Be Emotional?

Today I want to discuss a topic that is dear to my heart and that is the topic of worship. And in particular, I want to discuss whether over-emotional worship music is godly or not? Or how about the opposite question…is over-intellectual music, devoid of emotions, godly?

I’ll go ahead an answer both of those questions right now…No. Neither of those scenarios are godly in my opinion. Both are missing the balance taught in the Scriptures. Worship music, meaning both the musical sound of the song and the lyrics of the song should be a balance of both intellectual assent and emotional appeal. Worship is not merely something of intellectual assent, but it’s also not a completely emotional experience.

In today’s congregations, you have two ends of the pendulum. You have the high churches that have regulated worship to be nothing more than reciting the deep theological themes of the faith, but they have done everything in their power to keep it devoid of emotion. The idea is that Christian worship should be a grand indoctrination process. We should be memorizing the great ideas of scriptures via song. And to that I Continue reading “Should Worship Music Be Emotional?”

Three Ways to Overcome an Entertainment Addiction

Today we finish out our series called American Idolatry. Over the past several weeks, we’ve discussed how idolatry is found all throughout our culture. You can see where we have made idols out of very good things. These idols cannot save us. Money, sex, identity and family are all good things, but only when they are in their rightful place. But too often, we elevate these items to the position of God and that’s when they cease to be good things, but rather they become idols.

Today we are going to look at one more area of idolatry. Today we are going to discuss the idol of entertainment. This idol is found throughout our lives. We are constantly bombarded with distractions in the form of entertainment. Over the past ten years, it almost seems like it has multiplied. We now carry around “smart phones” in our pockets so we can stay entertained all hours of the day.

And part of the problem is once you get in the habit of constantly being entertained, it’s incredibly hard to cut it off. Instead of drugs, we have Continue reading “Three Ways to Overcome an Entertainment Addiction”

American Idolatry: Can Family Become An Idol?

In this episode I’m look at whether family can become an idol? Can something that God has ordained as the building block for society really become idolatrous. We spend some time discussing that on today’s show. I’m also experimenting with a new format to the show, so drop me a comment and let me know what you think of the new shorter format.

American Idolatry: How Identity Becomes An Idol

If you are just joining us, you’ve caught us in the middle of a series we started a few weeks back called American Idolatry, where we are looking at some of the idols that are prevalent in American culture. Now these idols can obviously be found in people groups all over the world, but the one’s I’m picking out for the show seems to be especially prevalent in American culture.

Today’s topic is the idol of identity. As we know from the book of Genesis, man was created in the image of God. We were created with a certain identity. Who we are and how we relate to God is wrapped up in our identity. Being made in God’s image has tons of implications and first and foremost it identifies us as like God, but not God. We are made to be like him, but we aren’t him. We are a copy, he is the master.

One of the problems in American culture stems from one of the things that I think makes it great, the old “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps” mentality. Americans are known to be individualists. We don’t need anyone else and we can prove it. The problem with this thinking is the face that we are made in the image of a Triune God. Because God is Triune, he is in perfect community within himself. We also should be in community. We Continue reading “American Idolatry: How Identity Becomes An Idol”

American Idolatry: Money

So to kick off this new series on Idolatry, let’s first define the word idol. An idol is anything that you worship in the place of God. When we worship idols we are in violation of the first commandment and quite possibly the second: You shall have no other gods before me and you shall not make any idols. The first commandment covers the big picture: No other gods. An idol is something that we make into a god. Now some, like in Bible times, were actual items of worship, like a golden calf or in our time and buddha statue. Other idols could be ones that we can’t see, like the Sun God Ra, or in today’s case – Money.

You’ve heard the old saying, Money is the root of all evil right? Well, that’s not the actual saying, the real saying is the LOVE of money is the root of all evil. Money, like many things, is not inherently evil by itself, it’s our love and worship of it that makes it the root of evil. People for ages have worshiped at the foot of money and yet walked away broke and lost. Others have amassed fortunes of it, only to realize that it cannot be taken with them to the grave.

Jesus himself had a lot to say about money. Jesus seemed to talk about money more than just about anything else. Out of 40 parables, he spoke on money at least 11 times. This tells us how important money was to Jesus. But why? I think Jesus spoke on it so much because he knew our hearts. He knew that this is an area for struggle for most people.

I think most people find it easier to trust God with their health than their money. People find it easier to trust that God will take them to heaven than trusting God will take care of them financially. We tend to spend most of our lives worrying about money, especially if you aren’t rich. And all of this worry is really another form of worship. We worship Continue reading “American Idolatry: Money”

Child Abuse and Church Coverups

 In this episode we discuss a recent child abuse scandal within the church. In our good news segment, we talk about a group who raised $57k for the abused and homeless. Our Unreached People Group is the Japanese of Japan. Today’s Word comes from John 10.

LINK TO NEWS ARTICLE

LINK HERE – Published letters discussed on today’s show.

Good News –

Over 12,000 Students Raise 57K for Abused Women, Homeless

Unreached People Group –

Japanese of Japan

Today’s Word – John 10:22-42

22 Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter,23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade.24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”

33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” 39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.

40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.

No Miracle? No Problem.

Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what happens when God doesn’t move…when He doesn’t perform a miracle…when he doesn’t heal someone. How do we handle that?

I know when I read the Bible my faith is built up. I see these awesome miracles being worked among Jesus and his disciples and it just gets me excited! I want to go out and pray for some sick people, I want to see something amazing happen. But I know that reality is, sometimes when you pray for someone, nothing happens. Or, nothing that we can see happens. Sometimes you just pray. And the person doesn’t get better. In fact, sometimes they die.

Some in the church would decry this type of “realistic” thinking as “stinkin’ thinkin'” or they would chastise me for my lack of faith. And I get it, we are told to have faith and to believe no matter what the outside looks like. I get it.

But today, I was struck by a small paragraph in the Bible about John the Baptist.

40“Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.” John 10:40-42

Here we read that even though John the Baptist never performed a sign, all that he said about Jesus was true. When I read this, I was struck by that testimony. And I started to pray. I am praying that even if I never see another miracle from God in my lifetime, all that I speak about Jesus would be true!

What a testimony to have! We are called to have faith and we are commanded to pray for the sick so that they can be healed, I never want to stop doing that, but more than anything, how precious would it be for Jesus to say all that you said about me was true!

I know my proclivity to sin. I know my shortcomings. I know where I fail, but oh that I might testify of Jesus with such accuracy that others would say this of me! When we testify of Jesus truthfully, others notice. And in that place, that place of honesty and truth, many will believe in Jesus.

 

Spoken Word Bible: Ephesians 4-6 (ESV)

In this episode, I am trying something a little different – this is a spoken word reading of the last three chapters of the book of Ephesians. I like hearing the Word of God spoken and thought you might like it too. You can listen to the first three chapters here: Spoken Word: Ephesians 1-3 (ESV)