To change the world

I am reading Leonard Sweet’s latest book “The Jesus Manifesto” and came across the following quote which struck me as true but very sad at the same time.

Too many Christians want to change the world, not because they love the world but because they hate the world

It makes me want to cry because it so very true. How many people do you know  that hate the church and thereby often hate Christ, because a “loving” Christian tried to change them? I have seen it over and over again. People who proclaim Christ as Lord, yet ignore him when it comes to dealing with other people. For them, the Christian faith is all about Christ living in them and nothing about Christ living through them.

For so many people “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son . . . ” is about God’s love for me and not about God’s love for you too and God’s love for creation and community and all of the other children of God out there. From the very beginning when God created the world, he called it good and obviously loved what he had created. Even after the fall, even after evil came into the world, God still loves the world and wants us to do the same.

Do you see the difference love makes when we are out there changing the world? Even when the goal is the same (a better world, person, life, etc) to do so with love in your heart instead of hate makes all the difference in the world. Sure, hate is a part of this world and our lives. We can hate sin, but when our hatred begins to focus on others, there is a great danger that hatred will seep into all of our relationships including our relationship with God.

To truly love the world is to change the world. To truly love the world is to bring our God, who is love, into the equation. To truly love the world is to see the world as God sees the world – worthy of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ upon the Cross and worthy of our love.

Love came down at Christmas. May you know that love and may He reside in your lives always.  Merry Christmas

Answered Prayer

I love this quote, although I’m not sure who said it. It does a wonderful job of showing us that God is always looking out for what is best for us. Read it and then consider how God might have answered some of your prayers this way.  May the Good News of Great Joy that is proclaimed at Christmas be yours now and throughout the new year.

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve

I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey . . .

I asked for health, that I might do greater things,

I was given infirmity that I might do better things . . .

I asked for riches, that I might be happy,

I was given poverty, that I might be wise . . .

I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men,

I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God . . .

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life,

I was given life, that I might enjoy all things . . .

I got nothing that I asked for – but everything I had hoped for,

Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.

I am among all men, most richly blessed.

I have indeed been richly blessed – Roger

What I’m reading right now – December 7th edition

If you have ever been in my office, you will know that I am self-confessed book-aholic. I love owning books. I love buying books (gift cards to buy books are always good gift ideas for this preacher 🙂 I love going through them from time to time to remind me of things that I had forgotten. I have even moved into the 21st century and have developed a deepening love of e-books. (I absolutely LOVE my Kindle) – You get the picture.  So anyway, I thought that I would share with you some of the things that I am reading with the hope that it might start a conversation.

In fact, before I continue, I would like to make a request from my readers. What book(s) would you consider to be the most important to you?  Your favorite? The one that influenced you the most? etc.  I would like to hear what you have to say.

What I am reading now.

  • Jesus Manifestoby Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola.  “Restoring the supremacy and sovereignty of Jesus Christ”I have been reading Leonard Sweet for years and love his insights into culture and the church. what I have read so far states that we in the church have become so focused on doing church that we have forgotten that we are the body with Christ as our head. I can see their point.
  • Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster. This is the 25th anniversary edition of a classic. I still have my copy from 1988 and refer to it often. I am rereading this book as a guide for “The Journey” our Wednesday night study each week. We are going through the spiritual disciplines and Foster’s book provides a wonderful and easily readable introduction to some of the classical spiritual disciplines.
  • Sticky Church by Larry Osborne. “Does it matter how many people are coming through the front door if the back door is wide open?” I’m just starting this one, but the premise is of concern to churches everywhere. One of the things I am looking forward to reading is how his church structures their small group ministry around the Sunday sermon.  Ought to be interesting.
  • An Army of Ordinary People by Felicity Dale. An interesting book about the simple church (house church) movement. The book is built around stories of ordinary people who have discovered that they can share the Gospel and make a difference in peoples lives right where they live. There is something powerful about sitting around the kitchen table and talking about what God is doing.
  • Getting Things Done by David Allen “The art of stress-free productivity” This book is the basis of an online system for increasing your personal productivity. I’ve read about it for a number of years now and decided that I would check and see what it is all about.

P.S.  If you are a book-aholic (official name – bibliophile) like me, check out this website (thanks to Amy B for pointing me to this site) www.shelfari.com I’m just getting started on this site, but it is a great place to share your love of books with others.

John Wesley “It cannot be that the people should grow in grace unless they give themselves to reading. A reading people will always be a knowing people. A people who talk much will know little.”

Make a difference in the life of a child

My Christmas Wish – raise $1,000 to benefit Murray County Saturday Sacks.

I need some of that Peace the preacher talked about on Sunday

Yeah, I know. I’m talking about the sermon I preached two days ago. I mean, if I preached I ought to be able to live by it.  I do believe what I preach, but one of the glorious things that God does when a preacher prepares a message is God tries it out on the preacher first. It also helps when God uses my wife to remind me of something I said in my sermon. (she loves that by the way 🙂 )

I keep thinking back to those two definitions I shared on Sunday. Greek word for anxious means “To be pulled in two directions.”  Boy, isn’t that the truth. When you are worried or anxious about something, it sure is hard to focus on anything else.  Then the old english root for the word “worry” is “To strangle”  I like that definition too. Worry strangles a person in multiple ways. It strangles your focus, your thinking, your feeling and your productivity, not to mention your relationships with your family and with God.

Shalom, peace, is God’s answer to worry and anxiety. His peace will guard our minds and hearts. The peace of God will reside with us wherever we go. God designed it so that as we grow closer to Him, His peace will grow ever more prevalent in us.

The problem that I have, and I believe many others have, is that I know all of this in my mind, but it is my heart that clings to my worries and anxieties. It is my heart that will not let go. Praise be to God, however, that He reigns in my heart as well. When I finally realize that I cannot let go on my own and that I need to seek God’s help, that is when the peace I need comes into focus.

My prayer for all of you control freaks, worriers, type A personalities (like me) is this: May the peace of God become so near and dear to your heart that you cannot even imagine living without it. I pray that each time you begin to get anxious about something or worry about what lies ahead, God’s presence will be felt by you and His peace be real to you.  (and while you are at it – pray that prayer for me too!)