Thursday, August 27, 2009

A dangerous place to be

I cannot think of too many more dangerous positions for a person to be in than when they refuse to accept correction. When a person consciously or subconsciously pushes correction and rebuke away, it seems like that person is destined for heartache and future failure.

Why is this so dangerous? Because normally the only people who will go to the painstaking task of correcting you are your friends. They are the ones who love you enough to speak to you. Most of us love ourselves enough to avoid conflict at all costs. But, when a person lovingly confronts and corrects that says a lot about their care for you. And when you won’t listen to them, who will you listen to?

So, what should we do? How can we best set ourselves up for future obedience?

Can we adopt a posture where we receive and even invite correction? The timing of adopting this posture is crucial. I think this is a decision that has to be made when we are not receiving correction. When someone begins to call us out on something, we generally will be defensive, if we have not cultivated a humble spirit long before correction comes.

Can we purpose in correction to be quick to hear and slow to speak? Can we sensitize our heart to perceiving our own defensiveness? Can we get past the “Yeah-well-look-at-the-speck-in-your-eye” syndrome?

I think we can, but it will certainly only happen with a great measure of God’s grace. We can look to and think of Christ who when He was insulted, did not hurl insults back even though He was always in the right. He is our only hope of salvation in this area.

Marriage resources, part 3

Another resource for marriages at OBC is the upcoming Marriage Conference on October 16-17. I will mention more about it on the blog, but I don't want any couples to miss this opportunity. Yesterday, I got to spend some time with Winston Smith, who will be leading the conference, and I was so encouraged about the opportunity we have to listen to him that weekend.

You can get more details and even register on our website.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Marriage resources, part 2

I have enjoyed and been helped by some messages done by Francis Chan (and his wife Lisa). He is pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, CA. The messages are primarily aimed at married couples, but as you will see when you listen, there is a great amount of benefit for any Christian. Francis loves Jesus, and it is evident in these talks.

So, here is what you do...
  • Go to the Cornerstone website
  • Click on "media."
  • Click on the quicklink "Listen to Messages"
  • Go to the messages preached LAST YEAR on 7/27/08, 8/10/08 and 8/17/08.
  • You can download video, audio, and study notes.
Or if you are iTunes and podcast savvy, you can link to Cornerstone Church's podcast.

Great stuff. Seriously, you have to listen to these!

Is Cain my worship leader?

I was reading in Genesis 4 (with some insight from a book called True Worship) this morning. As I began to search my heart in the area of worship, I wondered if at times my worship resembles Cain's rather than Abel's.

Both of the brothers brought 'offerings.' Both seemed to come at the same time. Both seemed to come to the same place for the presentation of the offering: God's presence. And yet, God's response was radically different to each of the men.

It makes me think. Could it be that I am in the same room with people, singing the same songs, hearing the same Scripture, being led in the same prayers, and could I be distant from God?

Am I too often like Cain? Living my life consumed with my desires, and then frustrated when God calls me on it. Is my heart in a place where (1) I know what God desires for me to offer Him, (2) I trust God to have my best interests at heart, and (3) I submit to God's authority for how I worship Him.

If worship takes place 24/7 in our body which is the temple (1 Corinthians 6), it means that I need regular heart check-ups.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Marriage resources, part 1

This week I am going to highlight a couple of things that have been helpful to me in thinking about marriage. To start off, here are some books that have been useful for me. They have served as a 'tune-up' or as a 'front-end alignment' for my thoughts and practices in marriage.

  • When Sinners Say, "I Do" by Dave Harvey - I have read this through a couple of times and have always benefited from it. Pretty easy read.

  • This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence by John Piper - New book from Piper. Often his writing can be 'varsity' level, but this book he seems to come down from the stratosphere a little bit.

  • Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas - I am about 50 pages into this book, and it has been so encouraging to me, in the convicting 'I-need-to-listen-to-this' kind of way.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Saturday Night Prayers

A friend shot me an email with an account of their family's Saturday night prayer time.
"Dear Jesus, I pray that you help Pastor Hill make sense tomorrow when he talks, and that when the people listen, that they listen right. Amen."
Awesome! I hope I made sense, and I hope you "listened right"!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

How big is the world and the gospel

I am convinced that I need to live in a bigger world and share a bigger gospel.

Bigger World - We shouldn't live or minister in a world that is small. The world is a big place. There are thousands of people groups and billions of people. There are millions of struggles. There are innumerable things that people are going through. There are countless fears and hopes that people have. Somehow, we have to keep pushing ourselves to live in a big world. Our kids need to grow into a worldview that encompasses more than the few square miles of New Castle County. Sometimes, I fear that the church gets focused on a little world, where there a few issues that we speak about, and a few people we speak to, and a few things we do well. But, I believe that verse like John 3:16 (God so loved THE WORLD), and Mark 16:15 (Go into all THE WORLD) reminds us that our omnipotent, omniscient God is bigger than we often think. And certainly he is up to something that is bigger than we can imagine, which reminds me of the next thing and that is we need a...

Bigger Gospel - I recognize that the gospel is what it is, and really cannot be quantified in bigger and smaller times. And yet, the incarnation of Jesus, the death and resurrection of Christ, and the restoration of all things under God's dominion is pretty HUGE. Sometimes, I fear we make the gospel a prayer you pray rather than the gargantuan good news that it is. God is doing something great with this world. When we witness to unbelievers we hold out to them that their faith and repentance toward Jesus Christ is not some small transaction, but is something that is placing them in God's eternal family, and is obedient to God's eternal plan.

God capture our hearts. May we grow in our understanding of how great You are. May you help us to remember that You are not a tribal deity over our people, but a God over all the world. May we remember that Your good news is not some small self-help strategy, but Your perfect plan for the rightful recognition of Your Son for eternity.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Back to blogging

I took a month or so off of blogging. Somewhat intentionally, although I was on a vacation for a good part of it. I don't have 50 things that I am prepared to blog about, but I have some thoughts running through my head this morning.

I am...
  • HUMBLED by the fact that God sent His Son to change my life, show his forever-love to me, and rescue me from sin and myself.

  • DEPENDENT on Him. This morning was a morning in which I took a deep breath and thought, "Work in me, on me, and through me today God for your glory."

  • ENCOURAGED by emails, facebook messages, etc of people who are hearing God's Word, and obeying it. It is a simple thing really.

  • BLESSED to serve God, my family, my OBC family. I count it a privilege to pull into the Ogletown parking lot, look through the Ogletown directory, and realize that this is where God has called me.

  • CONFIDENT that God's work in me will take a LOT of time. As David Powlison says, "Sanctification is a direction" and "Repentance is a lifestyle."

  • CONVICTED that often I don't enjoy God like I should.

  • LOVING what God is teaching me through His Word, especially Psalm 119 and 1 Corinthians 5-7.
So, that's where I am this morning.