Becoming a Positive You

25 minute sermon on becoming a positive you by realizing the only person you hurt by not forgiving is yourself.


Muslims are killing Christians in Nigeria. Will we respond like Christ or like humans?

Over the weekend I tweeted and updated my facebook status with the simple statement: Muslims killing Christians in Nigeria followed by a simple question: Will we respond like Christ or like humans? It’s always interesting what captures people’s imaginations and provokes response.

After a year of conversations on facebook, I was still amazed at the response the simple status update received. Feel free to check it out here: http://bit.ly/auO0bH

Reflecting on responses, the following points are worth of mentioning:

1) There is no emotion like religious emotion.

Wars over the centuries have demonstrated that religions are frequently front and center in every war. Religious emotion is a product of two things as I see it. First, it is an indicator that people genuinely care. If they didn’t care, they wouldn’t get so upset.

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Thinking About Unemployment

Talk on unemployment. Given at Eastwind Community Church in Boise, Idaho on August 16, 2009.


The Real Christmas Story

The Christmas story we tell ourselves is usually nice and neat. But was it really that way?


Four Areas of Brokenness

The Bible starts off with God creating the world, bringing Adam and Eve to life, giving them tasks and walking with them. However, in the biblical account this does not stay that way for very long. Eve deceived by the Serpent eats the fruit of the forbidden tree and Adam, knowing better, follows her lead. The result is what is historically called the Fall of humankind. There were several curses that came about due to the Fall. These curses demonstrate areas of brokenness in our world. The four areas of brokenness are:


1) Abundance: God called Adam and Eve to work the garden, through which they had abundant resources (Gen. 1:28) for their well-being. With the Fall, work has become difficult and these resources became scarce (Gen. 3:17).


2) Relationships: God created Eve as it was not good for people to live alone. We were created for fruitful relationships. With the Fall, these relationships became contentious (Gen. 3:16).

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Preach the Gospel Always: When Necessary, Use Words

When followers of Christ become socially conscious about global issues, one of the first things that becomes discussed is the role or necessity of a verbal proclamation of the gospel. There are typically two camps: One believes that the good deeds required to respond to social issues is more or less sufficient; the other emphasizes a verbal proclamation over any type of “physical” service.

These tensions have become highlighted with two recent publications. The first is an article by Mark Galli of Christianity Today entitled “Speak the Gospel Use deeds when necessary”.

The second is The Hole in Our Gospel a book by World Vision USA President Richard Stearns.

Galli is writing from a perspective that demonstrates concern that a verbal proclamation of the Gospel is undermined when deeds are emphasized. He points to the quote, “Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words” which is commonly attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.

Galli shows two important things:

1) There is a good chance that St. Francis never said this since it does not emerge until two centuries after his death. It is unlikely that his followers would not have cited such a pithy phrase.

2) St. Francis regularly preached or verbally proclaimed the gospel, thus demonstrating that he had a high view of such activity.

Before we return to Galli, let’s look at one of Stearns’ stories in his new book. Stearns tells the wonderful story of a collaborative project that World Vision did with Habitat for Humanity in rural India. During a ceremony dedicating the project to the community, a local World Vision worker overhears the local people speaking in their dialect asking each other questions about why Christians would come from so far away to help them. Stearns concludes, “We had not spoken a word in their local language, but the village elders had already ‘heard’ the gospel” (p. 23).

While one could not say that Stearns reflects an opposite viewpoint of Galli, he is emphasizing that the good deeds done either replace or are the functional equivalent of verbally speaking the gospel.

I have read Stearns and Galli on numerous occasions and they are both thought provoking, faithful followers of Christ and strong leaders. If I could be privileged enough to sit down with them, I think we would all come to very similar conclusions regarding the relationship of word and deeds to the Christian faith. However, both of their viewpoints in these recent publications fall short of articulating the fullness of word/deed ministry.

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General Motors and Jesus Christ

On Monday, June 1, 2009 General Motors unveiled plans to close 14 plants and three warehouses in a move that could ultimately slash up to 20,000 workers from its payrolls, as the company undergoes an historic bankruptcy restructuring.

This is terrible news for just about everyone, most particularly the thousands of workers who have lost (or will lose) their job. As an economically engaged Christian, I do not think that God desires anyone to stay indefinitely involuntarily unemployed and I believe we should be praying for everyone affected.

Here are few points to consider

1) Difficult circumstances are a time to become stronger. A year or so ago, two friends of mine were facing personal finance challenges. Today, one of them is sinking into alcoholism, is divorced, and has little custody of his children. The other is working two jobs, sweating a lot, but has developed more character in the last year than in his previous 34.

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Churches and Environmentally Friendly Facilities

On occasion, I've asserted that churches should have the most environmentally friendly facilities in the world! The pushback that I get at times is that it is too costly and would take money away from reaching people.

These frequently vioced concerns touch on two aspects that I would like to respond to:

1) Being environmentally friendly is expensive, and

2) Taking care of the environment is inferior to reaching (or perhaps taking care of) people.


While my response to these two points is not intended to be exhaustive or perfect, I have at least four things Christians should think about:

 

1) Yes, there are very expensive, environment things one could do, like installing solar panels or a windmill. Many of these things are, unfortunately, currently cost prohibitive for many people and churches. However, awareness and intentional behavior modification goes a long way. Being environmentally friendly can help churches reduce costs! My church, Eastwind Community Church in Boise, Idaho (www.eastwindcc.com) has had three people from local businesses (a power company, a recycling company, and an electrical installation company) come to our church and help us develop a system that reduces our impact on the environment and helps us save money as an added benefit. During an economic recession, every little bit helps.

The Spiritual Mission of Microfinance

Poverty is a daily reality for billions of people on the planet. The numbers are so staggering that we can simply become numb. Approximately 3 billion people live on less than $2 a day. The World Bank estimates that 1.4 billion people are living in extreme poverty. The result of this is real.

Consider the following facts:

• Over 140 million children in developing countries are underweight and over 2 billion are undernourished.

• Every year more than 10 million children die of hunger and preventable diseases - that's over 30,000 per day and one every 3 seconds.

• 800 million people go to bed hungry every day.

• Every year nearly 11 million children die before their fifth birthday.

• 600 million children live in extreme poverty.
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The Economy of God

Sermon on the economy of God.


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Founder of Russell Media, author/speaker focusing on marketplace, economy and faith. On a journey to live the entrepreneurial life.


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