Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Answer to our Hopes and Dreams

• We want to be safe and secure.
• We want our kids to succeed.
• We want to be comfortable, and happy.
• These are our hopes and dreams.

And the person, or institution, or philosophy that can deliver our hopes and dreams we could call “savior.”

But there is the problem. There is only One Savior. And the hopes and dreams he has personally pledged to deliver may or may not align with our self-chosen hopes and dreams.

Jesus’ last name isn’t “Christ.” The term “Christ” is a title. He is “the Messiah” (the Old Testament version of the very same concept as “Christ”). “Christ” and “Messiah” mean “Anointed One.” He is the only One authorized and able (anointed and appointed) to deliver our legitimate hopes and dreams.

When I submit to Christ, I allow him to dictate what are those legitimate hopes and dreams. They include such things as:
• Being put right with God
• Receiving forgiveness of sins
• Being adopted into God’s family
• Receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit
These are hopes and dreams that we can live with, and for which we can commend to our children.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Conclusion to Do Hard Things

from the book Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion against Low Expectations, by Alex and Brett Harris.

The Three Pillars of the Rebelution: character, competence, and collaboration (p. 176)
These provide an easy framework from which to Do Hard Things. Here are some of the questions that these authors have provoked me to ask about myself:

1. Concerning character

a. Am I being honest with my own heart about sins and shortcomings; about misses and failures?
b. Am I allowing Scripture to dissect my life? When I read Scripture, do I apply it personally?
c. Am I carefully listening to what others tell me? Do I seek their input?

2. Concerning competence

a. Am I paying attention to the small things, to practice them diligently?
b. Am I daring to do bigger things – things that I have never done before?
c. Am I learning from my mistakes?

3. Concerning collaboration

a. How many new people are in my circle of contacts, with whom I share ideas and make plans?
b. How many things do I find myself doing all by myself, not involving others?
c. Who am I discipling and mentoring?

A Holy Ambition (p. 181)
Not all of our ambitions are holy. Even when it comes to character, competence and collaboration, we can go astray. We might aim to see our character shaped by some shining human personality, replete with distortions, rather than like Christ, who is perfect and beautiful in his holiness. We can become competent at some pretty bad things, or become proud when we get good at good things. Teams can go astray, just like individuals.

So how can I make my ambitions holy? By making sure they aren’t mine to begin with, but God’s. When I am drawn in to His ambitions, to do my part in His way in His time, enabled by His Spirit for the fame of His Son, - then they are holy. Anything less is profane.

Taking a Stand

(an ongoing review of the book, "Do Hard Things" by Alex and Brett Harris)

If we are to Do Hard Things, then it is clear that, at times, we must stand against the tide, or even swim upstream. As the old hymn says, this vile world is no friend to grace (Am I A Soldier of the Cross), and as Jesus said, “if they hated me, they will also hate you” (John 15:18,19, paraphrased).

“We have to care more about pleasing God than we care about pleasing man” (p.148). A clear quote, and Biblically sound. My only question is this: is my problem more with being driven to please others instead of God? Or am I tempted to please myself more than God? In either case, the quote stands, since “man” is still being placed above God.

“Please understand that we are saved by faith alone, but true saving faith doesn’t stay alone” (p. 151). A classic quote, but unattributed. Am I one of many Christians who is content with a dormant faith?

A Guide for Knowing How and When to Take a Stand:
1. Start with the Bible
2. Examine yourself.
3. Listen to your conscience.
4. Seek godly counsel.
5. Be humble, loving, and bold.
6. Be part of the solution.

This list of 6 things indicates that “taking a stand” should not be done without prayer and careful thought. How much damgae is done by spontaneous reactions that are filled with not-so-righteous indignation? I especially like #’s 4 and 5. We must be open to the advice of others whom we know to be godly, and we must check our attitudes at the door.

Is there a stand you know you should be taking but haven’t?
Is there something in your life you know is wrong but continue to do?