I try to keep in my mind the simple question: Am I trying to do good or make myself look good? Too many of our responsibilities get added to our plate when we are trying to please people, impress people, prove ourselves, acquire power, increase our prestige. All those motivations are about looking good more than doing good. .
The Bible tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Surely part of loving in this way is trying to understand what another person wants us to understand. I may not understand perfectly and I may not agree, but if I love you I should try to know what it is you wish I could know. .
As a pastor in a Protestant church, my whole ministry centers on the conviction that by grace we are saved through faith. And it's not our faith that delivers us, as if believing something, anything at all were pleasing to God. It's the object of our faith - Christ's life, death, and resurrection - that saves us. .
The mystery of the Christian life is that Christ expects us to flee sin and the devil, but does not expect us to rid ourselves of either on this side of glory. Repentance is a way of life, and so is the pursuit of godliness. I wish every Christian could be reminded of these two things. .
Many people suffer at the hands of others. The world can be unfair, at times mercilessly so. Millions of people in the world are genuine victims, right now. All of us will be at some point, whether it's for small matters or large, for a long duration or short. But we aren't all victims, not all the time anyway, not for everything. .
As Christians we need to be patient, understanding, and kind. Instead of going on the attack, we can ask genuine questions. Instead of bristling when our narrative is summarily dismissed, we can carefully explain our way of seeing things. And when we are wrong, we won't be afraid to say so. .
As a pastor, I addressed the sorts of issues I see people struggling with most and the issues talked about most directly and most frequently in the New Testament. That leads us to recurring concerns with sexual immorality, relational sins, and vices associated with the breaking of the Ten Commandments. .
Churches that should be talking about the work of Christ on the cross and the grace of God for sinners are stuck on recycled pop psychology, moral exhortation, or entertainment. But these fail to speak to the eternal question that haunts all of us: 'How do I know that I'm OK?' We all want to know we are justified. .
A catechism is simply a tool for teaching the fundamentals of the faith. Unlike a creed or confession, a catechism uses questions and answers. Many Protestant confessional traditions, like Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Reformed, have used catechisms for centuries. Initially, most catechisms were intended for children. .
Many of us think in terms in parental determinism: 'If I push all the right buttons my kids are going to turn out OK.' I want to instill in myself and my people a wonderful dose, not of carelessness, but of God's sovereignty. He knows the hairs on your kids' heads. .
Sometimes Christians live in a terror of universal obligation: AIDS over here, people to be saved over here, a crushing sense of low-level guilt every day of our lives. Question to ask: Where has God put me right now? I need to say no to a whole bunch of other things because if I don't say no I can't say yes to others. .
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