Monthly Archives: January 2011

Your Outlook On Conversion and Baptism Will Shape Your Faith

“Often a new convert makes a decision for Christ solely for the benefit of one’s escape from hell. The decision was not presented as a call to repentance and a life of service and redemption under the lordship of Christ”-David E. Fitch “The Great Giveaway” (pg. 35)

I often wonder of the fascination churches and para church organizations have with numbers. We see this all the time. Success is measured in numbers, how many came to know Christ, how many re-committed (whatever the heck that means) to Christ, how many got baptized? We want to know these things, we want to know if we are being successful! Yet i wonder, do any of these figures really measure any kind of success at all?

How did we start thinking this way and how will it affect us? Well for starters I think it has a lot to do with the culture around us and how companies and corporations measure success. However the church is neither of these things so it seems like a foolish comparison. More importantly however thinking in terms of numbers will do great damage to those who were apart of the numbers!

When we start viewing souls as another notch in the belt for the church we leave that soul in grave danger. That person will start right from the get-go on shaky grounds because the person who led them to Christ likely led them with terrible motivations. Being converted to being a number basically throws out the hope for that person living a life for Christ. Instead they will live for Christ until it gets boring or too hard. I wonder if a better number to look at would be the number of people who have fallen from God and the church. There is a number i would be interested in!

I fear that as a result of these conversions we are starting to see things like what these videos portray, due to terrible theology right from the start. (Please don’t feel like you need to watch the full thing…its pretty awful).

And this.

Needless to say I am starting to learn more and more the importance of proper theology in how we handle the things we do as Christians. Don’t just assume that everything you hear is correct. Don’t (EVER) assume that anything you read on this blog is correct. Start reading God’s word and talking to believers who have been following God longer than you (at least ten years longer than you) and lets help each other instead of hinder each other.

“When baptism (or confirmation) carries such weight, when it is more than a personal public testimony of one’s own private decision, when it is the full renouncement of a former way of life and a turning to a life of following Christ, it will then make sense to count baptisms (or consecrations of baptism of confirmations) as a sign that what we are doing as a church is being faithful to our call in Christ to make disciples and be his body.”-David E. Fitch “The Great Giveaway” (pg. 37).

-bent 😉

Matt & Kim-Daylight

This song is just a lot of fun! Enjoy!

-bent 😉

Are You Free?

“No one who simply eats or drinks when he feels like eating or drinking or smokes whenever he feels the urge to light a cigarette, or gratifies his curiosity and sensuality whenever they are stimulated, can consider himself a free person. He has renounced his spiritual freedom and become the servant of bodily impulse. Therefore his mind and his will are not fully his own. They are under the power of his appetites, and through the medium of his appetites they are under the control of those who gratify his appetites.”-Thomas Merton New Seeds of Contemplation

I would say that for most of us there are things that we apparently cannot live without. I instantly think of the helpful words from the gospel of Matthew,

“But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” (Matthew 6:23-25).

When we cannot control our own body and our impulses, and when we are not able to simply say no to certain things, we become slaves not to God but to ourselves. Although this passage is talking about money I would say that the same could be said for other aspects of life. You cannot serve both God and ____ fill in the blank. What is it that you are serving and giving greater importance to over God?

If you had to sit down and look at your life and how you spend each day what are the things you spend the most time on and really enjoy? Now these things do not have to be evil in fact in most cases these things are perfectly fine and maybe even healthy. Much like money, the money itself is not evil but most times lead to evil due to our obsession over it! So if for example you find yourself not being able to go a week or possibly even a day without something there may be a problem or an indication that you cannot control your own bodily impulses as Merton describes. Could you go a week without internet, video games, movies, television, beer, or spending money? None of these things are necessarily wrong, however if you cannot stop yourself from going a week without it, then it can be very wrong! Asking this question can be a very helpful way to figure out where our heart is at.

At the same time there are obvious things that are apart of our lives that are clearly wrong and need to be stopped altogether. Things like over eating, getting drunk, and watching porn (among many other things) need to be taken right out of our lives.

So my challenge for you is to consider what you figure you cannot go without and go without it for even a week. See who is charge, you and God or you and your body! 1 2 3 GO!

-bent 😉

God and Work

This is a article I read on Relevant’s Website today and i thought it was very helpful, especially for those who are graduating from college soon or have recently done so.

“Finding God’s Will For Your Career”

How can we figure out what God wants us to do?

I know people who are lawyers and who drive big machines and who are school teachers and who are coaches and who are selling insurance and who are accountants and who are science research professors and who are dentists and who are pastors and who are missionaries. What each of these people does matters. I kept thinking about this word—matters. I’m unconvinced that some jobs —the so-called “spiritual” ones—are valuable while others are “secular” and therefore not as valuable.

Many are struggling to discover a career that matters. Perhaps the reason so many today flounder from one job to another is because instead of examining what they do in light of the Kingdom, they fail to realize that what they are doing really does matter. (Unless they are paid to be professional spammers, which can’t be Kingdom work.) It is time to reconsider what we do in light of the Kingdom dream of Jesus, and I believe His Kingdom vision can turn what we do into something that matters and can give our life purpose.

See Your Vocation 
through the Kingdom Dream

Your vocation, which in so many ways is unique to you, can genuinely matter if you keep your eyes on the Kingdom of God as your guiding North Star. Teaching matters when you treat your students as humans whom you love and whom you are helping. Coaching soccer matters when you connect kids to the Kingdom. Growing vegetables becomes Kingdom work when we enjoy God’s green world as a gift from Him. Collecting taxes becomes Kingdom work when you treat each person as someone who is made in the image (the Eikon in Greek) of God and as a citizen instead of as a suspect. Jobs become vocations and begin to matter when we connect what we do to God’s Kingdom vision for this world. Sure, there’s scout work involved—like learning English grammar well enough to write clean sentences and reading great writers who can show you how good prose works. Like hours with small children when we are challenged to make some mind-numbing routines into habits of the heart and Kingdom.

It is easy to see missional work in the slums of India as something that matters. Perhaps the desire to do something that matters is why so many of us get involved in missional work like that. But most of us don’t have a vocation like that, and that means most of us do lots of scout work as a matter of routine. We have to believe that the mundane matters to God, and the way to make the mundane matter is to baptize what we do in the Kingdom vision of Jesus.

It’s Not about Money (Completely)

Only 15 percent of American households have a six-figure income, and only about 5 percent of American individuals have a six-figure income. Instead of focusing our lives on a six-figure dream, followers of Jesus need to focus on the Kingdom life, which turns the six-figure dream inside out. Jesus’ dream involved a radical detachment from possessions:

But seek first his kingdom
and his righteousness,
and all these things [clothing, food, shelter]
will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:33

It involved a willingness to contribute to the needs of others and virtually to renounce a life soaked in making money:
Sell your possessions and give to the poor.
Luke 12:33

While many in the history of the Church have given up everything they owned in order to serve others, and I think of St. Basil the Great and St. Francis of Assisi, the rest of us are challenged to cut back and to tone it down so we can take from our abundance and provide for those who are in need.

When the Lord of the Christian is a poor man, the wealth of His followers is brought into embarrassing clarity. When the Kingdom dream of Jesus shapes our vocations, it turns us from folks who strive for wealth into folks whose vocations are used for others.

Do What You Do Well

I grew up with the idea that I could only be happy if I found “God’s will.” People do weird things because they think they are doing God’s will.

There is a reason why so many people quote Frederick Buechner’s famous line about God’s will: because it tells a deep truth. Buechner said God’s will is this: “The place where God calls you is where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep hunger.” This beautifully combines the Kingdom dream of Jesus and your own personal dream—find that place and do that.

If you keep your eye on the Kingdom of God, if you keep in mind that deeply personal nature of all you do, then you can pursue that place where your deepest gladness and the world’s deepest needs meet, and in that place your life will speak. You are asked merely to discern the intersection of what God is doing—Kingdom of God—and what you are asked to do in what God’s doing.

Just Say No

There are too many places where we find the world’s deepest hunger, and many of them appeal to us as the place where we might find our deepest gladness. When we try to do too many good things, we burn out or we tune out or we leave out someone we love. Ten years of chasing all of the world’s deepest hungers can almost ruin a life.

Jesus said this so well when He told some would-be disciples that Kingdom dreams take priority. One man, distracted by his family, asked Jesus if he could stop following Him and do something else. Jesus said, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

Those are strong words; they are also true words. The focus, Jesus teaches all of us, must be to do the thing we are called to do as something swallowed up in Kingdom work.

In order to “do that” one thing well, one must guard from trying to do too many other things. Saying no to other things is what keeps life balanced. Andy Crouch, a well-known and very smart Christian thinker, said we shouldn’t try to “save the world” but we should play our part in the redemptive work of this world with a small group of friends. I completely agree with Andy on this. I’d put it this way: the way to “save” the world is for everyone to do the one thing God calls them to do. When we start trying to do everything in an enthusiastic dash to save the world, we neither save the world nor do what we are called to do.

Purpose in the “ordinary”

The further we get into the ordinary realities of our work, the harder it is to keep the Kingdom of God in focus. So we return to our opening point but this time with a slightly different focus: Let God’s Kingdom work swallow up what you do. It’s easier to be theoretical about the Kingdom of God than it is to let the Kingdom swallow up what you do. If the Kingdom of God is about justice, love, peace, wisdom and moral commitment, then you are summoned by God to let your life speak justice, love, peace, wisdom and moral goodness—wherever you are and whatever you do.

But does this “do something that matters” really matter? Does it matter ultimately or to God whether or not we follow Jesus? Does it matter whether or not we take seriously His words about Kingdom—justice, love, peace, wisdom, Pentecost and give Him our total life? Does it really matter?

In one word: yes. For Jesus, what you do with your life matters—both now and forever.

Scot McKnight (PhD, Nottingham) is Karl A. Olsson professor in religious studies at North Park University, Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of several books, including The Blue Parakeet, Galatians and 1 Peter in the NIV Application Commentary series, and the award-winning The Jesus Creed. Taken from One.Life by Scot Mcknight. Copyright © 2010. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.

(Accessed Jan. 21 2011 at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/career-money/features/24168-finding-gods-will-for-your-career)

An Update

Well life is back in full force out here at school. I am currently sitting at 8AM waiting to hand in my grad portfolio and sign up for a exit interview. Now let me explain to you what has been consuming my time these last 2 weeks. The grad portfolio is something every Briercrest grad must put together before they leave. It is basically a binder full of stuff that proves you are not a heretic and that you should actually get a degree from the school. It includes reference letters, a 10 page essay, and a doctrinal statement just to name a few. This has ate up all of my time and i cant wait to actually hand it in!

Once you hand it in you have to sign up to have two professors who will interview you at a later day. This interview goes for an hour as the professors go through your entire portfolio and talk through each section that you wrote. The professors will then give you either a pass, conditional pass, or a fail. Apparently only one student in 16 years has failed so its not that stressful however to sit with two profs for an hour to talk theology and what not is a little intimidating!

Either way i am glad that this process is coming to a close! This semester should get a bit more slow after this is over and I am looking forward to finish out the year! Well time to go sign up, have a good one!

-bent 😉

UNICORN SIGHTING!!!

So big news the unicorns are in Banff! I have a friend who thought they actually existed and we made fun of her…well looks like we were wrong they are real!

-bent 😉

Civil Twilight-Letters from the Sky

Shayna introduced me to these guys and I think they are pretty awesome! There is another video for this song at http://civiltwilightband.com/ have a good one!

-bent 😉

Why you need to stop watching porn

I would say that my friend Ryley has done a great job at bringing some helpful stats on this subject on his blog http://dayoldmusings.wordpress.com/ and handles the subject appropriately. So do yourself a favor and check it out. However I have to say that the more we hear we about why pornography is not only wrong but dangerous the better we will all be, esecially if we take time to listen! So here is a short list of reasons why you NEED to stop watching pornography.

1. It is against the very way God made creation to function.

God has set the world to work in certain ways that line up with his will and direction. When we deviate from this we only end up hurting ourselves and actually rebel against the God who loves us. Proverbs talks a lot about this and would be an important (among many) book to read when battling against this. Ephesians 5:3 “But among you 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.”

2. It hurts your brain.

Every time you engage in an activity that fires up your pleasure center it feels really good! This in of itself is not wrong, however when you engage in an activity that is constantly doing this, like porn, then part of your brain actually gets damaged. Donald Hilton Jr. writes “Just like other addictions, pornography addiction will interrupt dopamine, which functions as a neurotransmitter, and it will cause a part of the brain to shrink,” Hilton claims. “The shrinkage occurs in the Ventral Tegmental Area, or VTA, at the front of the brain.” Basically when you are addicted to porn your emotions are not in check and the things that bring you joy and pain are lowered and you do not feel emotions to the level you should. Along with this it often leads to people being more short with others and irritated a lot easier!

3. Once you start its VERY difficult to stop.

Pornography addicts have a more difficult time recovering from their addiction than cocaine addicts, since coke users can get the drug out of their system, but pornographic images stay in the brain forever. Ask almost anyone who has ever struggled with pornography about the images they have seen and they will likely tell you how they still can access the scenes in their brain, this makes it very tough to kick the addiction!

4. It ruins your ministry.

The last stat I heard on this subject was that 4 in every 10 pastors struggle with pornography. The stories I hear of pastors (both youth and lead pastors) getting fired or quitting because of pornography addictions is frightening. This is tearing the church apart and if you are considering being in ministry and struggle with this I hope for yourself and the church you are going to serve that you take this seriously and not allow it to cause troubles down the road

5. It ruins your marriage.

It would be a delusional thought to figure that marriage will fix your porn addiction. With that backward logic the same person would have to assume that marriage would fix their drug or alcohol addiction too. Marriage does not give you the right to watch porn, it allows you to have sex with your husband or wife. Sex is not porn therefore having sex does not solve your porn problems, your still going to be addicted to porn, don’t be a fool! This assumption i believe leads to many divorces. I always thought that was true but never actually saw it as a real problem since i didn’t know anyone personally who has experienced this. However this has hit close to home for a lot of my friends and their marriages suffer because of it. Do not go into a marriage without seriously working through this addiction and making sure your spouse is aware of it as well!

Well there is far more to be said but ill stop there, hope this was helpful for someone out there. If this is a reality for you please please please seek help and realize how serious (since it is a sin) this really is!

-bent 😉

Ingrid Michaelson & Sara Bareilles-Winter Song

I know christmas is over but winter is still here and this song is beautiful!

-bent 😉