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“Unlike Jesus” – A Theology Matters Retreat for Dayspring Camp – Part 5

The Lord Jesus was a “friend of sinners”!  He was!  And I want to be too.  From August 3-5 I will be leading a “Theology Matters” retreat with young people on this topic at Dayspring Bible Camp in Missouri.

In this six-part study we have already seen that we need a theology which undergirds our efforts to reach lost people.  We need a theology of lostness, a theology of friendship, a theology of worldliness, and a theology of evangelism.

Let’s notice this morning a fifth theology which we need to rightfully be a friend of sinners like Jesus was and that is —

V.  A Theology of REPENTANCE!

What we mean here is that we need a solid grasp of the great joy of starting over!  Of admitting where we were wrong.  The North Carolina preacher Vance Havner once said, “An excuse is the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.”  We have many excuses for not being a friend of sinners — and we want to examine one of them in this post.

The great theologian Carly Simon sang, “I haven’t got time for the . . .” (she was singing about pain, but you get the point).  “I’m too busy to get involved with unsaved people,” some Christians might say.  “I’ve got church meetings, small group, mission trips (to reach lost people over the ocean), and I need to have some quality time for myself!”

Repentance is a change of mind and heart about a matter.  The repentant believer says, “Lord, I’ve been wrong not to intentionally pursue relationships with lost people.  I’m sorry, Lord.  Please forgive me and help me be more like my Savior!”

Although there are a number of other excuses we Christians give for not spending time with sinners, this issue of time cannot be avoided. All of us have exactly 24 hours each day, right? Well, one scientifically-minded person wrote the following question to a website: “Why do we have 24 hour days if the earth actually rotates every 23 hours and 56 minutes?” One smart person responded, “23 hours and 56 minutes is one ‘sidereal’ day with respect to the stars, but by then the Earth is in a slightly different position in its orbit around the Sun, so it takes an extra 4 minutes to make one ‘solar’ day (the number of sidereal days in a year is exactly one greater than the number of solar days).”[1] I didn’t really understand that much at all. But at the very least we can say that each of us has 23 hours and 56 minutes every day to experience. And to use.

Someone named Alice Bloch said, “We say we waste time, but that is impossible. We waste ourselves.”

The Lord Jesus intentionally spent time with the lost.  He socialized with them, ate with them, fed them!  He listened to their questions; He told them stories; He loved them.  May I ask you, what are you going to do with your 23 hours and 56 minutes today?  (to be continued)

 

[1] https://www.quora.com/Why-do-we-have-24-hour-days-if-the-earth-actually-rotates-every-23-hours-and-56-minutes

 

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2018 in repentance

 

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Getting into READING! (A Quote from John Piper)

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2017 in reading

 

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UNLIKE JESUS! One Area Where Jesus-Followers Excel (Part 13)

Let’s face it.  Most of us Jesus-followers aren’t following Him in being a friend of sinners as He was.  Matthew 11 is quite clear that He wore that charge as a badge of honor.  We’re often afraid of what other Christians will think of us if we spend too much time with lost people.

One of the excuses we use is TIME.  But the bottom line is that each of us has 24 hours in the day.  And we can’t (and shouldn’t try to) get around the fact that Jesus spent TIME with sinners.

We also looked at the fact that we have forgotten THE ART OF FRIENDSHIP.  In our self-absorbed culture, we tend to focus on me, myself, and mine.

We are looking at various excuses we Jesus-followers use for not following Jesus in this crucial area of being a friend of sinners.  Sometimes Christians are confused about THE WORLD and our place in it.  There is a great difference between being a friend of sinners (as Jesus was) and being a friend of the world (which James 4 condemns)!  We fail to properly define the world and end up, ironically, embracing the world’s values but avoiding its citizens!

Let’s begin a brief discussion of the issue of FUN!  What do you do for FUN?  I was once asked to interview a candidate for the position of dean of our seminary and I asked him two simple questions:  (1) “Please tell me about your unsaved friends.” (He candidly admitted that he had none).  (2)  “Please tell me what you do for fun.”  (He said he didn’t have time for fun).

Somebody needs to develop a theology of fun!  God made us to enjoy His world and that includes FUN!  Mike Witmer’s Becoming Worldly Saints is a tremendous help in this area.  We are to enjoy the world God has made.  There is a fun-factor built into each of us.  Hmmmm.  What if we were to spend time with sinners — and have FUN with them? (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2017 in discipleship

 

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UNLIKE JESUS! One Area Where Jesus-Followers Excel (Part 10)

Jesus was criticized for spending TIME with tax collectors and sinners.  We should be criticized for spending time only with ourselves and our loved ones.  As we saw in John 17, we have been left here on planet earth to reach the people of this world.  They need to be reached.  Lostness is real — and followers of Jesus have the answer to human lostness.

But the communication of that message takes TIME.  And time requires commitment, priorities, sacrifice.  And friendship.  Deep, on-going, strategic friendships.

I am an unapologetic C.S. Lewis fan.  He was not perfect.  And there are some areas where he and I disagree with one another.  But I love finding a new C.S. Lewis quote.  He said somewhere: “The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”  Time is the great equalizer.  Time measures our priorities.  It declares, wordlessly, what is important to us and what efforts we have made to express our values to others.

Someone named Roy T. Bennett put it this way:  “It’s worth making time to find the things that really stir your soul. That’s what makes you really feel alive. You have to say ‘no’ to other things you’re used to, and do it with all your heart.”  I’m really no fan of Stephen King, a man who has terrified innumerable people with his books.  I heard that King was raised in an Evangelical family.  King says in one of his books: “Time takes it all, whether you want it to or not.”

Jesus spent time with sinners.  It took time for Him to eat and drink with them.  He was charged with “welcoming sinners.”  It takes time to “welcome” someone.

Today is my last day of class with my fourteen lifer brothers in a local prison.  These men are in a two-year program to be trained as prison chaplains.  I’ve been teaching them Bible doctrine each morning from 9 AM to noon for three weeks.  Most of them will never leave prison.  Yesterday afternoon I went through security, got patted down, was let through several sets of locked doors, and met my students in the visitors’ room.  To play ping pong.  I invested a little bit of time with them, outside the classroom.

The brutal fact is that you and I have exactly the same amount of time every day.  We choose how we will use that time.  Lao Tzu said, “Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.”

How will you use the time God gives you today?  In the words of the great theologian Dr. Seuss, “How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2017 in discipleship

 

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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 90)

Psalm 90

A prayer of Moses the man of God.screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-6-57-12-am

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
    throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
    or you brought forth the whole world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

You turn people back to dust,
    saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
A thousand years in your sight
    are like a day that has just gone by,
    or like a watch in the night.
Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—
    they are like the new grass of the morning:
In the morning it springs up new,
    but by evening it is dry and withered.

We are consumed by your anger
    and terrified by your indignation.
You have set our iniquities before you,
    our secret sins in the light of your presence.
All our days pass away under your wrath;
    we finish our years with a moan.
10 Our days may come to seventy years,
    or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
    for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
11 If only we knew the power of your anger!
    Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
12 Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

13 Relent, Lord! How long will it be?
    Have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
    that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
    for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
    your splendor to their children.

17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
    establish the work of our hands for us—
    yes, establish the work of our hands.

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2017 in attributes of God

 

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Psalms of My Life (Psalm 90)

Psalm 90

A prayer of Moses the man of God.Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 8.15.09 AM

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
    throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
    or you brought forth the whole world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

You turn people back to dust,
    saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
A thousand years in your sight
    are like a day that has just gone by,
    or like a watch in the night.
Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—
    they are like the new grass of the morning:
In the morning it springs up new,
    but by evening it is dry and withered.

We are consumed by your anger
    and terrified by your indignation.
You have set our iniquities before you,
    our secret sins in the light of your presence.
All our days pass away under your wrath;
    we finish our years with a moan.
10 Our days may come to seventy years,

Isn't it amazing how much Moses looks like Charlton Heston?

Isn’t it amazing how much Moses looks like Charlton Heston?

    or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
    for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
11 If only we knew the power of your anger!
    Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
12 Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

13 Relent, Lord! How long will it be?
    Have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
    that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
    for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
    your splendor to their children.

17 May the favor[a] of the Lord our God rest on us;
    establish the work of our hands for us—
    yes, establish the work of our hands.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2015 in the book of Psalms

 

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Absorbing any woes? (Part 4)

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The Bible teaches that we are to “bear one another’s burdens.”  We want to continue to examine that passage in Galatians over the next few posts:

KeynoteScreenSnapz055I have suggested a four–part outline for this passage.
I.  The Occasion for Caring (v. 1)
II.  The Expression of Caring (v. 1)
III.  The Danger in Caring (v. 1)
IV.  The Characteristics of Caring (vv. 2-10)

We’ve looked at I.  The Occasion for Caring (v. 1) by noticing that the ones who are doing the caring are “brothers and sisters” and “you who live by the Spirit.”  The reason for the caring is that another brother or sister has been “caught in a sin.”  We’ve also looked at II. The Expression of Caring (v. 1) and saw there that we are to be looking to restore that person, but in a spirit of gentleness.  We’ve also noticed III. The Danger in Caring (v. 1).  When we care for others, especially those “caught in a sin,” we need to watch ourselves so that we do not give in to temptation ourselves.

Let’s look today at the fourth part of our study:

IV.  The Characteristics in Caring (vv. 2-10)

A.  Bearing each other’s burdens (v. 2)
How do we practically do that?  Here are some steps that might be helpful:
(1) Listen to each other’s story.  There is no substitute for spending time with each otherFinderScreenSnapz031!
(2) Show yourself trustworthy.  Prove that you are able to keep confidences.
(3) Don’t fear weeping with those who weep.

You may have heard the story about the pastor who was meeting with one of his parishioners.  As the man began to voice some of his complaints about the church, he looked up to see tears coming down FirefoxScreenSnapz305his pastor’s cheeks.  “Pastor, whatever is wrong?  Are you crying because I’m criticizing our church?”  “No, Bill,” said the pastor.  “I’m weeping over your sins.”

(4) Don’t think only professionals can provide encouragement, challenge, help in personal issues.  I think the counselor Larry Crabb is really on to something when he suggests in his book Connecting that most of us Christians are fully capable of helping other believers with their problems or issues, if we would only get involved and show that we care.FirefoxScreenSnapz306

Questions:

1.  How does prayer fit into “bearing one another’s burdens,” do you think?  Is it possible that we have greatly underestimated the power of prayer?

2.  Satan seems to be into noise, busyness, distraction (as the great theologian Beth Moore says).  What changes would you make if you saw TIME as one primary way to express your love and burden-bearing ministry to others?

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2014 in time

 

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