Friday, May 25, 2007
First, get a job. There are many young men out there who are still too dependant on their parents for their livelihood. Furthermore, it seems that some young men still do not know what they want to do with their lives. As a result they bounce around from job to job. Or worse, they do nothing, waiting for God to miraculously drop their career path in their lap. These young men need to decide what to do with their lives and go after it. Until then, at least get busy doing something. Earn some money and establish something in the work force so that when God does reveal a career path you will have a foundation to build upon.
Second, get married. Outside of a relationship with Jesus Christ this is the most important relationship you can enter into. Being married makes you think of someone other than yourself. It causes you to focus on the needs, wants, and desires of another person, thereby causing you to realize how selfish you are and seek to change. Some young men seem to enjoy sitting around with other young men contemplating their own lives too much and the deeper meaning of life in general. This would be fine if they actually made a significant impact on the world as a result. Most do not. Getting married causes a huge reality check in a person’s life. It forces them to quit living in a dream world and focus on a person other than themselves.
Third, have sex with your wife. Although this seems like the obvious result of the second recommendation it is not. Many young married men are still involved in pornography, and even adulterous relationships. One of the contributors is they are not experiencing the sexual satisfaction God intended for a married man and woman. Young men need to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5) and seek to find fulfillment with that woman God has blessed them with and not a fake relationship over the internet.
Fourth, have kids. I used to think I was busy. I used to think I was tired. Then I had children. Now I know what it means to be busy and tired. Having children matures you in a way I never thought possible. It forces you to prioritize your life. It forces you to live a life that glorifies God at all times. It forces you to be more of a spiritual leader. It forces you to be purposeful in how you lead your family. It also makes you less sympathetic to younger people who are single who say they are busy and tired.
Before some of you get angry with my recommendations let me qualify the preceding statements. I understand that there are exceptions to the rules. I realize that God does not call everyone to get married or have children. I know of incredibly godly and productive single people and married adults who do not have children. However, these ideas do apply to the vast majority of young men. It seems that many young men are afraid to grow up. For whatever reason, it seems that many men between 20 and 30 years of age are maturing at a slower rate. All of this poses a problem for the future. Especially in the area that I focus much of my energy, the church. We need young men in this age range to step up, mature, and become the leaders that God has called them to be.
The purpose of this article is not to necessarily reopen this debate about worship style that has gone on for far too long. Instead I just want to briefly add a couple of perspectives that may need to be considered when trying to decide what worship is pleasing to God.
First, we need to consider the author of music. Despite the opinions of a few, Satan did not invent rock music. God is the creator of all music. Therefore, what are we saying if we refuse to worship to a style or genre of music? Are we not in effect saying that God did not do a good job of creating that form? I realize that there are many genres of music that have been used to convey messages that are in radical opposition to the truths conveyed in the gospel. However, I do not think this means we must abandon those forms in a church worship service.
Second, we need to be reminded of the other forms of worship in the world. When people declare that worship must only consist of hymns or contemporary music they forget about worship in other cultures. There are many cultures that have received the gospel which do not worship to our form of music. They do not worship with hymns or contemporary choruses. They may use different styles altogether. Does this mean that they are not worshipping God correctly? I think not. This reminds us of the simple truth that God loves a variety of different styles. Maybe we should be open to them as well.
I believe the church in America needs to focus on the proper aspect of worship. The content of what we sing to God. I know of hymns and modern songs that are shallow and even theologically incorrect. This does not mean that all hymns or contemporary songs are bad. As believers I think our focus must be on the God we worship and the words we sing to Him, not on the form in which we sing. When we focus on the form we are not focusing on the content or the One to whom we sing.
1. Day One: Read Ephesians 1:1 out loud ten times, looking at each word as if photographing it with your eyes. Be sure to include the verse number. Then cover the page and recite it ten times. You’re done for the day.
2. Day Two: Yesterday’s verse first!! Recite yesterday’s verse, Ephesians 1:1 ten times, being sure to include the verse number. Look in the Bible if you need to, just to refresh your memory. Now, do your new verse. Read Ephesians 1:2 out loud ten times, looking at each word as if photographing it with your eyes. Be sure to include the verse number. Then cover the page and recite it ten times. Your done for the day.
3. Day Three: Yesterday’s verse first!! Recite yesterday’s verse, Ephesians 1:2 ten times, being sure to include the verse number. Again, you should look in the Bible if you need to, just to refresh your memory. Old verse next, altogether: Recite Ephesians 1:1-2 together once, being sure to include the verse numbers. Now, do your new verse. Read Ephesians 1:3 out loud ten times, looking at each word as if photographing it with your eyes. Be sure to include the verse number. Then cover the page and recite it ten times. You’re done for the day.
4. Day Four: Yesterday’s verse first!! Recite yesterday’s verse, Ephesians 1:3 ten times, being sure to include the verse number. Again, you should look in the Bible if you need to, just to refresh your memory. Old verses next, altogether. Recite Ephesians 1:1-3 together once, being sure to include the verse numbers. Now, do your new verse. Read Ephesians 1:4 out loud ten times, looking at each word as if photographing it with your eyes. Be sure to include the verse number. Then cover the page and recite it ten times. Your done for the day.
This cycle would continue through the entire book. Obviously, the “old verses altogether” stage will soon swell to take the most time of all. That’s exactly the way it should be. The entire book of Ephesians can be read at a reasonable rate in less than fifteen minutes. Therefore, the “old verses altogether” stage of your review should not take longer than that on any given day. Do it with the Bible ready at hand, in case you draw a blank or get stuck … there’s no shame in looking, and it actually helps to nail down troublesome verses so they will never be trouble again.
1. Calvinsim vs. Arminiasm
2. Roles of women in ministry
3. Dispensationalism (right or wrong?)
4. View on Spiritual gifts (cessationist or still in effect?)
5. View on End Times
6. What happens to infants who die?
7. Can you lose your salvation?
8. View of baptism and Lord’s Supper
9. Leadership in the church (Deacons, elders, etc.)
11. Abortion – Is it wrong? Why or why not? Are there exceptions?
12. Emerging Church
13. Alcohol (Can Christians drink? What about ministers?)
14. Scripture (inerrancy, hermeneutics, authority, open or closed cannon)
16. Salvation (how is a person saved, more than one way, people who never hear)
17. Evolution vs. Creation (also age of earth)
18. Church History
19. Difference in Protestant and Catholic Theology
20. Role of Christianity in Culture
I am sure there are more things that could be added to the list. The point of this list is to get young ministers thinking about some of the core elements of the Christian faith and some of the key questions facing the next generation of church leaders. It is important that young ministers know early on where they stand on these issues in order to minister more effectively to the culture.
Monday, May 7, 2007
Recently I along with thousands of others flocked to the newest Spider Man movie. Don’t worry I won’t spoil any of it for those who have not seen it. Nor will I provide any critique of the film.
While watching the movie I was prompted to think about one of the recurring themes. The subject of forgiveness. A character in the film makes the statement to young Peter Parker about restoring a relationship which has been damaged. She says that Peter must first do the hardest thing, forgive himself.
I began to wonder. Could it be that many people have a hard time forgiving because they cannot forgive themselves? Or could it be that many people have a hard time forgiving because they have not experienced true forgiveness?
Check out Ephesians 4:32. Paul tells us that Christ models for us how to forgive. We are to then extend that same forgiveness to others. I believe that this is an amazing command. It is impossible to live out on our own. We are not capable of this type of forgiveness. Unless, we have experienced it first hand. Unless we have known this type of forgiveness from God as we confessed our sins and witnessed the miracle of God declaring us forgiven. When we experience this type of grace and mercy we are then able to extend it to others through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us.
Someone who does not feel forgiven will have a hard time forgiving others. After all, if they have to suffer so should every one else. This type of person holds on to their anger or hurt. They are unable to comprehend letting go and forgiving someone else. They do not want to give to others what they have been deprived. Unfortunately I think many Christians live this way. Even though they have experienced the greatest pardon they hold on to their bitterness.
What is needed is a reminder of the grace and forgiveness that God offers to sinners deserving eternal separation from Him. When we realize we have been forgiven. When we realize that God has canceled out our massive debt of sin. We can then extend same forgiveness to others. We can then forgive as Christ has forgiven us.