I’ve been asked about “social justice.” Several weeks ago I delivered a sermon with biblical clarification about justice; what it is, and what we ought to be doing. You can listen to that sermon at this link, click here.
“I believe that parental anger, especially the parental anger outburst, is the single most destructive force within a family. Not anger in general, but parental anger. Do kids get angry? Of course they do. But they are kids; kids throw tantrums. That’s what a child with less than a fully developed brain does. We, however, are adults. We are supposed to have outgrown that type of childish behavior. We, the parents, are supposed to have our acts together so our children trust us implicitly as the rock they can rely on to protect them from the storms of life. We are not supposed to become an actual verbal and emotional storm ourselves.”
Source: Fearless Parenting: How to Raise Faithful Kids in a Secular Culture – George Barna and Jimmy Myers
Taking a summer to build wells in Africa is, for some, a genuine calling. But so is fixing a neighbor’s plumbing, feeding one’s family, and sharing in the burdens and joys of a local church. What we are called to do every day, right where God has placed us, is rich and rewarding.
Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World
By 7 p.m. on October 20, 1968, at the Mexico City Olympics Stadium, it was beginning to darken. It had cooled down as well.
The last of the Olympic marathon runners were being assisted away to first-aid stations. Over an hour earlier, Mamo Waldi of Ethiopia had charged across the finish line, winning the 26-mile, 385-yard race looking as strong and as vigorous as when he’d started.
As the last few thousand spectators began preparing to leave, they heard police sirens and whistles through the gate entering the stadium.
The attention turned to that gate. A sole figure, wearing the colors of Tanzania, came limping into the stadium. His name was John Steven Akhwari. He was the last man to finish the marathon in 1968. His leg was bandaged, bloody. He had taken a bad fall early in the race. Now, it was all he could do to limp his way around the track. The crowd stood and applauded as he completed that last lap.
When he finally crossed the finish line, one man dared ask the question all were wondering. “You are badly injured. Why didn’t you quit? Why didn’t you give up?”
Akhwari, with quiet dignity said, “My country did not send me seven thousand miles to start this race. My country sent me to finish.”
So it is with God. God didn’t just send you to start this race. He didn’t just send you to begin a noble task or a noble relationship. God sent you both to start and to finish.
Craig Brian Larson, “Strong to the Finish,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 155.
Thoughts For Young Men
“Young men, do not be too confident in your own judgment. Stop being so sure that you are always right, and others wrong. Don’t trust your own opinion, when you find it contrary to that of older men, and especially to that of your own parents. Age gives experience, and therefore deserves respect. “
- Love of Pleasure
“Youth is the time when our passions are strongest—and like unruly children, cry most loudly for indulgence. Youth is the time when we have generally our most health and strength: death seems far away, and to enjoy ourselves in this life seems to be everything… ‘I serve lusts and pleasures’, that is the true answer many a young man should give, if asked, ‘Whose servant are you?’”
“Not thinking is one simple reason why thousands of souls are thrown away forever into the Lake of Fire. Men will not consider, will not look ahead, will not look around them, will not reflect on the end of their present course, and the sure consequences of their present days, and wake up to find they are damned for a lack of thinking. Young men, none are in more danger of this than yourselves. You know little of the perils around you, and so you are careless how you walk. You hate the trouble of serious, quiet thinking, and so you make wrong decisions and bring upon yourselves much sorrow.”
- Contempt of Religion
“This also is one of your special dangers. I always observe that none pay so little outward respect to Christianity as young men. None take so little part in our services, when they are present at them—use Bibles so little—sing so little—listen to preaching so little. None are so generally absent at prayer meetings, Bible Studies, and all other weekday helps to the soul. Young men seem to think they do not need these things—they may be good for women and old men, but not for them. They appear ashamed of seeming to care about their souls: one would almost fancy they considered it a disgrace to go to heaven at all.”
- Fear of Man’s Opinion
“It is terrible to observe the power which the fear of man has over most minds, and especially over the minds of the young. Few seem to have any opinions of their own, or to think for themselves. Like dead fish, they go with the stream and tide. What others think is right, they think is right; and what others call wrong, they call wrong too. There are not many original thinkers in the world. Most men are like sheep, they follow a leader. If it was the fashion of the day to be Roman Catholics, they would be Roman Catholics, if it was to be Islamic, they would be Islamic. They dread the idea of going against the current of the times. In a word, the opinion of the day becomes their religion, their creed, their Bible, and their God.”
“Character cannot be summoned at the moment of crisis if it has been squandered by years of compromise and rationalization. The only testing ground for the heroic is the mundane. The only preparation for that one profound decision which can change a life, or even a nation, is those hundreds of half-conscious, self-defining, seemingly insignificant decisions made in private. Habit is the daily battleground of character.”
Warren E. Berkley
Part of one of my sermons (on Respectable Sins) was a discussion of “Vicarious Immorality.” We say we believe something is sinful, but we watch it, laugh about it and enjoy music about it (attempting to get as close as we can, without direct participation). We don’t actually do it (we argue), but get something out of vicarious participation – viewing, describing. We watch activity on TV and in Movies we say we believe is offensive to God. We play video games, becoming “virtually” engaged in things we say are wrong, like violence and murder (or theft). And while we say we believe adultery is wrong, we listen to music about it, or sing about it, or exchange jokes about it. I think sometimes, if something isn’t worth saying, someone will figure out a way to sing it and make a hit. Do we approve of things with our eyes that we say we condemn with our hearts? Do we open our ears and minds to what we allege we oppose?
And add to your thoughts about this Ephesians 5:1-4.
NIV: “…there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place…”
Do we secretly enjoy reading about the immorality of other people whose sexual misconduct is reported in our newspapers and weekly news magazines?…If we go to movies or watch television programs knowing that sexually explicit sins will be shown or read novels knowing that such scenes will be described, we are engaging in vicarious immorality. – Jerry Bridges
Warren E. Berkley
The ancient religious writers often identified a virtue they called “holy restlessness.” It was a concept that often became lost in monasticism but needs to be “restored.”
Certainly, there is a kind of restlessness that is not productive. Becoming occupied with something only long enough to find a level of boredom, then moving to another activity before completing the first, etc. Performance and excellence is not achieved or enjoyed when we never settle down to good tasks and see them through. This common restlessness can become a way of life and rob us of blessings that flow from good work (see Matt. 13:21, “only for a while”.)
There may be another kind of restlessness that holds some value. Not willing to relax deeply and lovingly into comfortable routines; anxious to find good new methods; working our way from complacency to zeal and diligence and excellence – is a type of restlessness that can spur good work for the Lord. This might be called a healthy or holy restlessness that propels us to the next good thing we ought to be doing. Perhaps we should ask God to help us defeat the destructive restlessness and help us find this holy restlessness of good conscience and zeal.
“…not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord,” (Rom. 12:11).
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“Many will agree with the first verse of ‘The Way Of The Cross Leads Home,’ for ‘there’s no other way but this.’ The trouble comes in the last verse: ‘Then I bid farewell to the way of the world, to walk in it never more…’ Dwell on that subject before the average Sunday-morning congregation, and you are in trouble!” — Vance Havner
The Plow Is Manual,
Not Remote Or Automatic!
From Expository Files Archives
Warren E. Berkley
“But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God’,” (Lk. 9:62).
What if your life was somehow submitted to the Lord on paper? After looking over the report, He stamps on the top sheet: “Unfit!” Imagine the disappointment and shame. You have been rejected and you cannot transfer the guilt, deny the content of your life or make any appeal.
In this verse the Lord is telling us that an absence of commitment will cause Him to declare us unfit. The advantage we have is, we can read this now and change the content of the final report. So long as we are alive there is opportunity to put our hands back on the plow and look straight ahead, living daily as a citizen in the Lord’s kingdom.
This is all about commitment!
Attendance is a commitment issue. People want preacher’s and elders to become like truant officers. The problem is not an isolated matter. Reading Heb. 10:25 over and over and over will not suddenly solve the problem – because the issue is not ignorance; it is lack of commitment. Ask the few people who regularly come Sunday evening services why they come back on Sunday evening. The answer will show they are committed! Absence is a symptom. The root cause has always been commitment. [I understand legitimate reasons. Most non-attendees cannot claim they can’t be there for some legitimate reason. Commitment gets people out.]
Giving is a commitment issue. Giving, all through the New Testament, is an expression of the content of one’s heart. Those who give grudgingly, sparingly or merely out of necessity, are in trouble with God. And it is not an issue of pocket. It is directly related to commitment. “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver,” (2 Cor. 9:6-7). See in this passage where good giving originates: purpose of heart.
Evangelism is a commitment issue. I’ve never heard any Christian argue that we don’t need to talk to people about the Lord or tell them what the Bible says. You don’t hear that because the New Testament is so clear about God’s people being the ones who are charged to preach the gospel. Many of the first Christians “did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ,” (Acts 5:42). They were committed. If we are indifferent, uninvolved and negligent about evangelism, our problem is commitment. We may have touched the plow, but we haven’t stayed on the job.
Responding to the spiritual needs of your brethren is a commitment issue. If you have read Gal. 5:13, “serve one another,” but you just don’t do that, the issue at hand is not your ability to digest what the text says. The problem is not that there are no brethren to serve. You cannot claim you have nothing to give. Dismiss all the excuses and understand the core issue: Commitment of heart to the Lord.
This list could be continued. Whatever the command, the activity, the participation – behind everything God asks us to do and everything provided for our spiritual welfare, there is this basic: Commitment. If you don’t have that right, open your eyes, open your Bible, renew your commitment. That plow the Lord spoke of has no automatic setting or remote control.