Archives For Shepherding

Question-About-Suffering1

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One of my mentors used to wisely say, “We are either in a trial, about to enter a trial, or coming out of a trial.” Such is life under the weight of the Curse.

Since God’s people are called to be skilled relationally, this means that relating to people in suffering is going to comprise much of our relationships.

Here are a few reminders for Christians as we minister to others in their suffering:

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Like a premature unveiling of the picture of Dorian Gray, the hideous hypocrisy that lay discreetly stashed in the attic of AshleyMadison(dot)com’s online vault was unceremoniously exposed last week. scarlet letter

This outing of 28 million male and 5 million female adulterers has made a lot of people hot under the lipstick stained collar. Furtive liaisons that “weren’t hurting anybody” have now left a swathe of casualties in their wake. And now that their trust in the sanctity of Internet privacy has been shattered, these poor philanderers and home wreckers have to grow used to the scarlet letter on their reputation, now that everybody knows who they really are. What could they have done differently to avoid getting caught?

There is only one way to not get caught in adultery: don’t commit adultery.

Hebrews 4:13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

God’s observation of our lives has no blind spot.

But the Bible gives us practical wisdom on how to avoid committing adultery. Here are six suggestions from God’s word:

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This is the week where new seminary students report for duty—two hundred new students start at The Master’s Seminary in Los Angeles (and five at our Washington DC campus!), and as a pastor I watch new students leave for seminary every year.

Here is the advice I give them:    Continue Reading…

One of the hardest things about working with college students is growing in friendship with them over a summer only to watch i hate goodbyesthem leave for school come August. After unsuccessfully trying to convince them to stick around and attend the local college, the only thing left to do is to do my best to equip them to be able to thrive while they are away. So here are five prerequisites to have success in college.

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In light of the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this summer, here are six articles from The Master’s Seminary Journal that address the issue of homosexuality from a biblical perspective.

1. God’s Word on Homosexuality: The Truth about Sin and the Reality of Forgiveness

Abstract: Through following a distorted meaning of “love,” some in the present day have condoned homosexual practice, without realizing that biblical love excludes homosexuality because of its sinfulness. Christians can best share the gospel with homosexuals by calling their lifestyle what the Bible calls it—sin. Genesis 1–2, Matthew 19, and Ephesians 5 describe clearly the way that God has instituted marriage as a monogamous, heterosexual relationship. Genesis 19, Jude 7, and 2 Peter 2 illustrate how the Fall almost immediately eroded the purity of human sexuality, including a devastation of the divine institution of marriage. Leviticus 18 and 20 and Romans 1 lay out very plainly God’s instructions about how repulsive homosexuality is in God’s sight. Yet Isaiah 56 and 1 Corinthians 6 make plain God’s plan for homosexuals to find freedom and forgiveness through a life-changing faith in Jesus Christ. The door is wide open for homosexuals and lesbians to accept God’s invitation.

 

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There is no Workaholics Anonymous. Why would there be? Overwork isn’t a hamartia in our society’s currency-lubed, prestige based, multitasking rat race.

Gambling, pornography, cocaine, booze, and most other addictions carry a stigma of shame associated with weakness or dysfunction. But for some reason the caffeinated crew of interns at work broadcast their exhaustion with feigned self deprecating whines of “Sorry I’m so spaced today. It’s because I pulled three all-nighters and haven’t had a day off since the Blackberry was invented.”

Everyone in a cubicle thinks he’s Jack Bauer. Is it possible your job isn’t important enough to global stability to warrant the hours you put in? If that suggestion prickles your pride, then perhaps your dedication to the corporate fiefdom isn’t as noble as you make it out to be.jack_bauer_productivity

I don’t have a definition for what constitutes too much work, but we all know people whose lives are affected detrimentally by their workload. If, thanks to work, your family is disintegrating, your health is deteriorating, and time for God’s priorities (e.g. attending and serving in church) is disappearing then your schedule is unbalanced.

One of the reasons God made Sabbath for mankind is so that we will rest from our labor regularly enough to worship him devotedly, and recuperate sufficiently to sustain a long, productive, God-centered life.

And the hubris of an overstuffed day planner isn’t limited to Silicon Valley Microserfs, Wall Street moneygrubbers, or medical residents. Students, housewives, and pastors all glory in the shame of their limitless spirit being more willing than their sleep deprived flesh.

As a seminoid I loved that the strong coffee for sale in the break room was labeled “Lazarus Blend.” We sported dark rings under our puffy eyes and disheveled clothing (who has time to iron), and if someone remarked, “You look like death!” that was a compliment.

 

Here are five possible reasons for overworking:

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In a previous post we examined Fat Secret: The Invisible Sin of Gluttony. But that food for thought is only one serving among a smorgasbord of other gastronomical sins and dysfunctions. self control

Anorexia nervosa (voluntary starving), bulimia (self-induced vomiting), comfort eating (ice-cream therapy), and muscle dysmorphia ( or “megarexia” – a fear of being too small) are all staples in a psychologist’s handbook. Some of these may have a physical malfunction as a catalyst, but often they can be a direct result of sinful thinking.

In that case these types of “eating disorders” might more accurately be termed “disorderly eating.” The former label connotes a malady that has beset you, but the latter admits the responsibility for the problem lies with you.

I certainly don’t want to oversimplify the complex psychological and physiological factors involved with debilitating eating conditions. The body and the mind are so inextricable that one can’t just flip a “stop-it” switch to shut off a behavior without risk of physical consequences. For example, if an anorexic patient suddenly begins to eat copious quantities of solid food, they may actually die.

All I’m saying is that in cases where one’s behavior is causing health deterioration, we need to enlist the help of not only physicians, but also the counsel of godly friends to assist with applying Scripture and prayer and the guidance of the Spirit to bring about gradual change and healing.

Physical and mental conditions are sometimes actually spiritual conditions masquerading as an illness. The remedy is not just nutritional replenishment but spiritual repentance.

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Homosexuality is often seen as the worst of sins. But, what does the Bible say?   Continue Reading…

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Now that we Christians have had a few days to cool our jets a bit, we can reposition and recalibrate ourselves. Events like those transpiring last Friday provide opportune times of reminder for God’s people of our mission. When some of the more powerful human courts in the world express their fallenness, and the grandstands of culture erupt in praise, Christians are handed an occasion to be reminded of what we’re doing here on earth.

Humanity is still fallen. Jesus is still risen. Christians are still commissioned.

Being bestowed with every spiritual blessing from heaven means we have a responsibility to be a blessing on earth. One helpful place to go for biblical instruction on the matter is the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to the Colossian church. These believers lived in a culture which clashed with the biblical worldview. Things like homosexuality and unfriendly political stances were the norm. So, how did God, through the pen of the Apostle, shepherd his people to respond?

“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:5-6).

Overall, the idea is that when lost people do what lost people do, God keeps his church in their midst, as fellow-sinners (who have been saved by Christ), in order to wisely and humbly interact for his glory and their salvation.

Here are a few reminders to help us respond wisely as we live among the lost:

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Augustus GloopOliver Twist could hardly be accused of gluttony when he voiced his politely audacious request, “Please sir, I want some more.” But an identical demand from the overstuffed mouth of young Augustus Gloop, the obese candy addict in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, would elicit a call for temperance from any dietician worth her salt.

Gluttony is not that peckish sensation of wanting seconds when you haven’t had enough food to satisfy your hunger; it’s the sin of unrestrained overconsumption. Gluttony is thus the kissing cousin of drunkenness.

Proverbs 23:20-21 Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.

A temperate enjoyment of food and fermented beverage is heartily commended in Scripture (see Deut 14:26; Eccl 9:7; 1 Tim 4:3-4). However, Scripture decries dissolute overindulgence of any sort as a sub-Christian, feckless deficiency in self-control (Eph 5:18; 1 Tim 3:8; Titus 1:12).

What makes gluttony such a difficult topic to fit into our theology, is that identifying the sin is not as obvious as one might expect. It seems axiomatic that the corpulence of a person’s waistline is inversely proportional to their self-control—the less you can curb your appetite the more holes on your belt you’ll need to bypass. And it likewise seems as plain as a pikestaff that a thin person must possess unwavering gastronomic discipline. But this rudimentary “eyeballing it” assessment can actually prove quite misleading.

A metabolically fortunate individual may imbibe calories like a vacuum cleaner, while a person endowed with the metabolism of a hibernating bear turns asparagus into cellulite without breaking a sweat. Thyroid malfunction is another common cause of unavoidable weight gain, while myriad diseases incite unwanted weight loss. There simply is no universal visible indicator of the sin of overindulgence. Or you might say, there is no test that’s one-size-fits-all.

A glutton could be thin, and a nil-per-mouth could be portly. The people of Jesus’ day understood this. The Pharisees accused him of being a glutton and a drunkard (Matt 11:19), presumably despite his physical appearance, not because of it. It is highly doubtful that Jesus was a man of girth—it would have taken a long while to simply recover from his emaciating forty day fast, especially in light of his exceedingly ambulant itinerary.

That said, there is also a hefty probability that many Christians in our churches are succumbing to the temptation of intemperance in their eating habits. Pastor Rick Warren recently admitted that the idea for his enormously popular dieting program, The Daniel Diet, came to him while baptizing an exhaustingly long line of inordinately corpulent congregants. (We’ll overlook that Daniel’s diet made him fatter, not thinner. See Dan 1:15).

The sin of gluttony is invisible in our churches in that we intentionally ignore it.

Here are five possible reasons why:

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