What is your Treasure?

aarrearkkuLast week I was given the privilege of teaching at the Youth Service here in Brussels. I am finding more and more that I love to teach the Bible, and that I am pretty good at it. Well, I just wanted to share it on here, like I did in the spring when I taught, so others could read it as well. Share this with others you think might need to hear it or would appreciate it.

What is your Treasure?

Main Idea:  If we were to truly savor and treasure Jesus Christ, how much differently would our lives look?

Matt 13:44 – “The kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

If you were stranded on a desert island and you could only have 3 things with you, what would you have?
There are things that we cannot live without right? How about in your everyday life. Are their certain things you cannot live without?
Phones, Internet, Facebook, Music, TV, Certain People?
How much do we love these things?

Do you love them as much as the things of God?
Community, Prayer, Reading the Bible, Memorization, Fasting, Righteousness, Holiness?
Or do you love them more?

I am right there with you. I love movies and TV shows, so there is judgement here. I am constantly listening to music, and its not always Christian music. I can literally talk about TV and music for hours. I have wasted many days binge watching Netflix.
But can we do that with the Lord. Can you binge read the Bible for a whole day? Can you spend an entire day with the Lord in prayer and study? Meditating on his Word and memorizing passages?
What would you do with an entire free day – free from obligation and commitments? Would you fill it with the things of the Lord or with the things of the World?

Yes, its true that all of these things are not sinful, we we must evaluate these things based on the Bible and not just our own reasoning.
First – Evaluate if the things you are watching or doing are promoting Christ or the World.
This is a HUGE problem with TV and music – most shows are, at best, indifferent to sin, if not promoting it. We must guard what we allow in our lives regarding the worlds view of sin, or we can begin to become indifferent to sin as well.
Second – Maybe its not promoting sin – but in 1 Corinthians 10:23 it says “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.”
So all things are lawful (he is not talking about sin – he was talking to the Jews about new freedoms in Christ and things that are permissible. He is NOT saying that sin is lawful!) but that is not our only filter when we act.
Is it helpful?
Does it build up? Yourself, others or the Glory of God?

We must be careful, because this tendency towards the things of this world, rather then the things of God, can be dangerous.
1 John 2:15, 17 – “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
Matthew 6:24 – “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
In this passage, Jesus is talking specifically of money, but this can go for anything we set up and worship other than God.
James 4:4-5 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?
The world = Enemies of God.
And the only reason that we are not still enemies of God is because of Jesus and what he did for us – if you are in Christ and born again. If you are not, you are an enemy of God.
I don’t know about you guys, but I do not want to be an enemy of God.
But how? How do we come to seek the things of God over the things of the world?
I believe that one of the reasons we do not long for God, that we do not desire the Word of God and why we cling to the things of the World is that we do not have a right view of God and we do not treasure Him as we should and how He deserves.
I think we take Jesus for granted and do no see Him as He is.

Do you treasure Jesus?
Matthew 13:44 “The kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
Matthew 13:45-46 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
Do we give our all to obtain more of the Kingdom? More of Christ? To be in closer fellowship with Jesus?
We don’t. I don’t.  — It’s because we do not properly treasure Christ. We do not have a proper view of our Savior.
Matt 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
This is problem with our hearts.
To solve this heart problem, let’s take some time to look at Jesus – A true and honest look, and we why we should value him so highly.

Reason 1

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
The Word is Jesus, and he was in the Beginning – he is eternal, existing before time – with God, and being God.
STOP: Think about that, not as something you have heard multiple times and has becoming normal for you to hear, but really think about it.
And all things, ALL THINGS, were made through Him. It says in Colossians 1:16-17 that all things were created by Him, and in Him all things hold together.
He is creator and sustainer – of EVERYTHING.

Reason 2

Revelations 19:11-16 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
He is defender and warrior. This passage is a terrifying view of Jesus, but a right view of Him. He is the one who will destroy sin and death – and all of those who are not His own.
To prepare a way for his people – those that He loves and that love Him. – to enter into this.
Revelations 21:3-5 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
This is the goal! – This is what we should have our eyes set on, and this is what we should  be valuing. Eternity with God, in full and unbroken fellowship – like Adam and Eve before the Fall.

Reason 3

Let’s continue to look at our Lord Jesus and why we should treasure Him.
John 1:14a And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
Jesus took on flesh and come to live among man.
Jesus – God, eternal, creator, sustainer, defender, and destroyer of sin and death – took on broken human flesh and lived among broken, sinful and unfaithful people.
He willingly chose to do this!  This was the plan since the beginning of time.

Why?!
Colossians 1:19-20 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
He did this to reconcile all things to himself buy the Blood of the cross. – He did this for US!
That was his purpose for coming… to redeem His people for His glory!
We are worth that much to Him.
He treasures us deeply – Why do not treasure him the same way?

We must remember what he saved us from – our bondage to sin, slavery and death.
Ephesians 2:1-3 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—  among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
So if you are saved and born again in Christ – we must remember that person we were and how Christ has set us from from that.
And we could not do this on our own – He had to be the one to do this!

Reason 4

John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
John 15:26 But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.
Christ has given us, sent us, the Holy Spirit to dwell with us and in us.
1 Corinthians 3:16 [Do you not know that you[a] are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?]
We are a temple – His temple- because God’s Spirit dwells within us.
The God of all creation has chosen to dwell within us.
To be with us always -and to teach and guide us about Christ
It says in Romans 8:11 that this is the same Spirit of God that raised Jesus Christ from the dead! – That power resides within us.
How can we not treasure this? We are so quick to think, “Yeah, I know this” but do we really absorb this information and what that means for our lives. The Holy, Just, God of Creation willing lives and indwells broken, sinful, man.
This is crazy right?! How is this even possible?
In the Old Testament, the Spirit of the Lord dwelled in the tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant.
This was most Holy – There is a story in 2 Samuel of a man named Uzzah and this is what happened to him as they were moving the Ark of the Covenant.
2 Samuel 6:6-7 And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God.
He was trying to steady the Ark so it would not fall. He touched the Ark and died! He died coming that close to the Holiness of God. That is the only fate available to sinners when confronted with the Holiness of God.
And this same Spirit lives in us! The very same. And we do not die – because of the blood of Christ and his sacrifice to bring us into right standing before God. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee of our salvation and the proof that we have right standing before God, because it we did not we could die.
This is how we learn to treasure God more – by realizing what he has done for us – and praising Him for it.
This is why we must meditate on the Word – think about it – not just hear it.

Reason 5

Finally – Romans 8:26, 33-34 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. –  Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
If everything else was not already more than we could process – The Holy Spirit and Jesus, Himself, intercede for us before the Father.
When we do not know how to pray as we should, the Holy Spirit prays for us – on our behalf.
And Christ is at the right hand of the Father interceding for us – rescuing us from the charges against us and from condemnation.
Why do we treasure Christ? – How can we not? – When we have a right view of Him!
The very God of Creation who has come into human flesh, the Christ who will end sin and death forever, for the purpose of saving and redeeming His people. More than that, Christ has sent the very Spirit of God – so holy that it cannot abide sin – to dwell within us, reveal truth to us and intercede for us.

This is how we treasure Christ – Look at Him!
My prayer for you is this: Ephesians 1:16-18 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
and that the Lord would make this your heart –
Philippians 3:8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
Fight the Good Fight of Faith my friends.
This will not be easy, but its worth it.

Mo3

Engage the Outsider

What do you find is your treasure in your own life? What is that thing you cannot live without?

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Outsider Applauds: Mark of the Lion Series

mo 2So, for my next Outsider Applauds I want to tell you about one of my favorite trilogies. But I want to preface this by saying that, generally, I do not like Christian Fiction. I often find it boring, or predictable, and too unrealistic. That is not true for Francine Rivers books. I have not read all of her stuff, and probably won’t to be honest. I first read her book, Redeeming Love. It’s a story based off of the book Hosea (which is my favorite book of the Bible – I am sure I will write a blog gushing over it at some point) and it was really good. Like real good. So note that despite that, I am not writing about that book.

I am writing about the Mark of the Lion Series. This trilogy is made up of Voice on the Wind, An Echo in the Darkness and As Sure as the Dawn. There are numerous characters that we follow throughout the books but two main storylines. The first is the story of Hadassah, a young Jewish girl just sold into slavery, and the family she serves The Valerian’s, a prominent, wealthy family in Rome. The other follows Atretes, a Germanic warrior who is captured and turned into a Gladiator in Rome. Set the generation after Christ when Rome desecrated Jerusalem and at the height of Roman prowess, this characters will captivate your heart. Hadassah is a constant testament to fighting for your faith, not just in society but within yourself, battling herself as much as she battles the world. The Valerians buy Hadassah to be a maid for their youngest child, Julia, and we begin to see the family dynamics at play. Demetrius, a foreigner who bought his Roman Citizenship and the Head of this Household doing everything he can to provide for his family and protect them from the endless indulgences and debauchery of Rome, with his wife Phoebe who loves her children but is brokenhearted by their desire to live as Romans and not live a life that is pleasing to the many gods she spends hours praying before. Then there is Julia, the spoiled, indulgent youngest child who wants nothing more than to be like her big brother and experience all the pleasures and wonders of Rome. Then there’s Marcus, a young man who has been swept up in the chaos of Rome, but had found himself jaded, unhappy and bored with the life he had created for himself, but refuses to be pressured into the life his father wishes for him. Finally, you have Atretes, a Germanic warrior who has been captured and uses his rage against Rome and his belief in his tribal god, Tiwaz, to fight for his life as a gladiator.

mo I have never found myself so invested in characters before, and I love to read. I would get so lost in these books that I would find myself praying for the characters. Strength for Hadassah. Salvation for others. Then I would realize what I was doing, laugh at myself and apologize to God getting so wrapped up in book. Hadassah is written so transparently and her struggles are put on display and we can see how she struggles to remain faithful, which demonstrates way we can struggle and fight to remain faithful, especially when our flesh wants nothing more than to cave and give in. Marcus is paramount in helping us to personify the struggle with being discontent with the world around us and the desperation and sorrow that comes when they have nothing else to turn to.

The book begins with a harrowing and haunting description of Jerusalem during the first Jewish-Roman war. Enjoying historical fictions, I loved the first new chapters that really set up the world Hadassah (in Jerusalem) and Atretes (in Germania) were leaving and the world they now found themselves in, the great Roman Empire. However, this intro can be very sad, and some people can get lost in it and give up on the book before getting to Rome. If this section is difficult for you, I would encourage you to read until you meet the Valerians and complete that chapter. Wait until you get to Rome and Hadassah is installed in the Valerian household. If you still are not hooked, then that’s fine, we all have different taste — but hold out through Jerusalem and Germania, get to Rome before you quit.

So, there it is. I love these books. I reread them at least one a year, I just cannot stop myself. So grab a copy on the first book for your next vacation and get ready to enter a world that will challenge you, convict you and cause you to look at the world around us. Here is the link for the author’s site and more information if you want: http://www.francinerivers.com/books/series/mark-lion

I hope that you have a great day, and happy reading!

Mo3RSVP!

What is your favorite fiction book you have ever read?

Outsider Applauds: Look at the Book

I just wanted to take a quick moment to share an awesome resource with you.

I will admit that sometimes studying the Bible, without workbooks, commentaries, etc, can seem daunting and a little overwhelming, but I have derived so much joy from time in the Word like this. I recently stumbled upon this sections of the Desiring God website called Look at the Book. What John Piper does is shows a bit of text on the screen, and walks us through how to look at the text and study it. It shows us his through processed and the way he breaks down the text. This can be really helpful as we grow in our abilities to study scripture and grown in our knowledge of God. See the video below for the “trailer” if you will given by Desiring God about Look at the Book.

I would encourage you to take time to review a couple of these videos. I’ll watch/listen to one while I am doing dishes or cooking. It can also be helpful if you are studying a particular passage or book, to see an additional viewpoint. I believe spending time watching videos like this, rather than yet another Fail video, or Dumb Cute Cat, can be beneficial for our growth as Christians and for just plain ol’ good for the soul.

Look at the Book: http://www.desiringgod.org/labs

I think this will be a new aspect of my blog every so often… Outsider Applauds- For resources, books, tools, etc that I would recommend and endorse to you as beneficial and good. What do ya think?

Tools for the Fight: My Lesson from Friday Night

Readers!

I promised you that if my lesson went well on Friday night I would post the notes from it on here! So here they are.

Main Idea: We naturally drawn to sin, but we have ways to avoid and protect yourself from sin. 

  1. Our Never Ending Battle with Sin.
    1. The Bible tells us over and over that we are sinful to the core.
      1. Genesis 6:5 — “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
      2. Ephesian 2:1-2 — “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience”
      3. This is an idea that most Christians are familiar with. Our relation of our sin drives us to our need for a Savior.
        1. There is nothing we can do to solve our problem with sin on our own.
        2. This is where Christ steps in.
          1. Ephesians 2:4-5 — “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved”
          2. 2 Corinthians 5:21 — “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”  
        3. Christ pays for the Eternal Consequences of sin for us!
          1. But does the means that we no longer desire to sin? By no means! Even Paul struggles with the impulse and desire to sin.
            1. Romans 7:18-20 — “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me”
          2. We are called to Fight the Sin in our lives.
            1. 1 Timothy 6:11-12 — But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses”
            2. 2 Timothy 2:22 — “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart”
          3. We must daily fight sin in our lives! But the Lord has given up two excellent tools to fight sin with!
            1. A New Identity
            2. A New Community
  2. Our New Identity
    1. Let’s start with 2 Corinthians 5:17 — “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come”
      1. When we are in Christ, we become NEW! (This happens when the Holy Spirit come to us.)
        1. The Old has passed away and the new has come.
          1. So what is this new that we are?
            1. Ephesians 1:3-12 – [This is a BIG chunk, but what is says about us as Christians, and its important.] “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory”
              1. Blessed with every spiritual blessing. 
              2. Chosen
              3. Holy
              4. Blameless
              5. Adopted as sons and daughters
              6. Blessed
              7. Redeemed
              8. Forgiven
              9. Lavished with Grace
              10. United with Christ
              11. Obtained an Inheritance
              12. Hope
            2. This is what God says has been given to us, through Christ, that we are given when we become Christians, submit to the Lord and walk in the life He has planned for us.
          2. But why does knowing our identity help us fight sin.
            1. This world often bases our identity on others and how they view us.
              1. Have you ever doubted yourself and your identity because of what another person, or society, says about you?
              2. Or, have you ever done something you didn’t want to, or that you knew was wrong, to gain others approval?
            2. Do you see how our identity matters! When our identity is questioned, we question our worth.
              1. When we feel worthless, we will often stop at nothing to stop feeling this way.
              2. Some sinful ways that this shows in our lives are:
                1. Taking 100’s of selfies in order to look “just perfect” before posting.
                2. Giving up our standards and purity in relationships to please the other person.
                3. Compromising our morals to save a relationship.
                4. Giving up Church or Time with God for other things like school, sleep or video games.
              3. These situations can lead us into sins like these because we are looking to relationships or people for our worth and identity.
                1. Busyness
                2. Laziness
                3. Vanity
                4. Drunkenness
                5. Sexual Immorality
              4. But why? – We put the thoughts and opinions of other, and what they say about us, before what God says about us, we do not walk in our identity that God has give us.
                1. This is why we must remember what God says about us and believe the Word of God over the World.
                2. We must seek what God says about us over what the world says!
                  1. When we trust God’s identity for us over the world’s, then we are free from trying to constantly impress others.
              5. I can share from personal experience – When I was younger, I was so worried about what other people thought of me that it was all that I could ever think about. It caused depression, anxiety and overwhelming selfishness in my life, trying to live up to the image I wanted them to see, and to be enough for them. But when I gave it up and chose to Believe what God says about me instead, there was such freedom. I don’t worry as much, so I can think about others more. I am more aware of when others are hurting or more focused on what is happening around me, and less focused on what people are thinking of me. It is such a relief.
  1. Our New Community
    1. We were never intended to live our lives in Faith by ourselves.
      1. Even all the way back in Genesis, in the Garden of Eden, God does not leave Adam alone, but gives him a companion because it wasn’t good that he was alone.
      2. Ecclesiastics 4:9-12 — Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
        1. This verse shows how when we fall or are overcome, if we are alone we will fail. But if we have others around us, they can lift us up and help us withstand.
          1. We help strengthen each other because we need each other!
      3. God gives an great example of what Christian Community should look like.
        1. Acts 2:42-47 — “And they devoted themselves to the apostles ‘ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved”
        2. This is a familiar passage for most of us, but let us take a deeper look at it. What elements are highlighted about this group?
          1. Devoted to Teaching (Studying together)
          2. Fellowship
          3. Prayer
          4. Provided for one another
          5. Attended services together
          6. Shared meals and life together
          7. Praising God
        3. It this what your friendships with other Christians looks like?
          1. Do you study the Bible together?
          2. Do you talk about what you have been learning in scripture together?
          3. Do you pray for one another often?
          4. Do we take care of each other when we need help?
          5. Do we truly share life together?
        4. Does another Christian truly know you and do you know someone else?
          1. When I say know, I mean does anyone know your struggles, the sins you battle, the doubts you have, the dreams your have?
            1. James 5:16 — “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
        5. When we are known by other believers:
          1. We stand stronger in our faith
          2. We grow stronger in our ability to withstand temptation to sin
          3. We are reminded of Truth when we begin to doubt, or question our identity.
        6. We need community to persevere. This is how we persevere. This close community is gift from the Lord, but one we ignore too often.

Well… There it is. I hope you enjoy it.

Coffee Shop Acquisition

I think I have finally found my coffee shop.

I love having a coffee shop. Sablon_Fotor

Seriously! I work at a coffee shop back stateside, I love coffee ,and I love the environment that a good coffee shop can provide. Enough comfort that I can relax and enough people around that I feel like I need to be productive. Sablon3_FotorIt’s it adorable!?! My friend showed me this place a couple of weeks ago, and then the students came and I life got a little insane for a bit. After that Oklahoma Tornado left, I was able to settle back in, and I thought about this place. This is my 3rd time here this week, and it is now official, I love it. It can get a bit busy, but if you get here earlier enough, you’re good. And there are little plug-ins in super convenient places.Sablon2_Fotor There are also excellent seat right by the windows looking out to the street for days that I just want to read and enjoy a cup of coffee. Oh! And did I mention that the roast IN HOUSE! This place! I am going to miss it in a few months.

That’s really all for today. Things are going well. I went to one of the open air markets for fruits and veggies yesterday and I was very proud of my spoils from the trip.

Market Spoils_FotorAlso, I am teaching tonight at Youth so… Exciting! If it goes well, I might just post my notes from it on here tomorrow.

Book Review: Honor and Shame

Hello World,

As you saw on my last post, I have a very large list of books that I want to read and I am quite happy about it. so, I thought that while I do this, I would post Book Reviews of the books that I read. Not a full on dissection, or any award winning anything, but something to help me remember the key points, share them, and promote the books that I think rock (or warn against the ones I don’t.)

So, here’s the first one.

Honor & Shame

by Roland Muller

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This book was first suggested to me by my friend V when I shared my love for Muslims and sharing truth with them. It has been a book that has been on the back burner for a while, and before I came on this trip I decided it was time to finally read it.

This writer outlines three main world-views in which people filter their beliefs and views. These are broken up amongst three main cultural divisions, guilt-based, fear-based and shame-based. The books then explains each of these world-views and provides a means of effective sharing the Gospel in a way that best connect with individuals in this culture.

We, as Americans, tend to live in a predominantly guilt-based and view things based on a legal model that tends to focus on right vs. wrong. When applied to the Gospel, we tend to focus on our guilt before the Lord and how Christ took our judgement and declared us not guilty and we stand innocent before God. There are aspects of the Bible that speak very VERY clearly to this, Romans for example, because it was written to Rome, which pretty much ushered in the whole legal/guilt-based trend (and Greece too). But this is not true for all cultures.

The book then takes a look the other two forms, starting with fear-based. Fear-based cultures tend to be those we would see in areas that have heavy spiritualism and heavy involvement with the supernatural world. These people believe “that gods and spirits exist in the universe and they must live in peace with these unseen powers, either by living quietly, or by appeasing their powers” (p.42). This is common is jungle areas of Africa, South America, Borneo and other places where fear of the spiritual world reigns. Christian Missionaries have been pretty effective in these areas because having power in Christ is something that we understand well and is easier for us to understand fear.

Next, and for the majority of the book, Muller looks at shame-based cultures. This is much harder for western-minded individuals to understand because it defies the right vs. wrong mentality we cling to. People within shame-based cultures do not focus on the rightness, or correctness, of an action, rather they look at if the action will bring shame. Also, when shame in given, it does not simply affect the individual, but their family and their tribe. We are highly individualistic in western cultures, so this focus on the group mentality and setting a higher priority on the groups shame and honor, rather than our own happiness and comfort is beyond our sphere of knowledge. In order to understand shame-based cultures, it requires intentionality that not all westerners are willing to put forth. In shame-based cultures, shame is more than a feeling or emotion, but rather a position within society,

Muller then goes into depth about Islam and how Shame and Honor play pivotal roles in their culture. He looks at what brings shame, and what brings honor. He then address the roles of honor and shame in the Bible and how clearly the theme of God removing shame and restoring honor is within scripture (Lev 26:13 for one). Finally, He shows how each of these elements, guilt, fear and shame, are a result of the sin and that the Lord does not address just one of these aspects as he restores us to Himself, but He addresses all of them and this is how we are fully restored before the Lord, free of guilt, free of fear and free of shame, because God takes out guilt and leave us innocent, takes our fear and gives us power and removes our shame and bestows us with honor! That is the Gospel. All elements are important to understand, but some resonate with our world-view and culture better.

Muller ends the books with the following quote “The church of Jesus Christ has the message and the methods to relate to ever worldview and every culture in the world. In this book I have simply attempted to unlock the door to our understanding of guilt-, shame-, and fear-based cultures… It is now your duty, as a servant of the Lord Jesus, to open the door” (Pg 110-111).

[Note: This book does not say that any one of these cultural world-views is right or wrong, just different. When we begin to understand how people see things different, we can better love, communicate and know others.]

I hope you all enjoy this book as much as I have!

[Also, don’t worry! I will be posting an update on life things either today or tomorrow!]

Pushing Back Darkness

[Note: This was written back few weeks ago (mostly) and I thought it had been lost, then I found it… so it was finished and posted… so the time delays are weird. Sorry, not sorry.]

This weekend, and currently, I am with my middle schoolers serving all around OKC. We painted, cleaned, take, tore down, edged and prayed all over this city these past two days. We also invited an apartment complex to a carnival that we will be throwing at their complex. Here are some pictures from our weekend thus far!

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Then, this morning, we attended church at Frontline Church in Mid-Town.

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It was an excellent service on the difference between finding out identity in Morality and the law versus finding our identity in Christ. The difference in freedom between those two is insane and humbling.
A couple of great quotes…

The law doesn’t give you righteousness , it shows you that you don’t have any! — Andy Burkhart

“We are children of the promise, it’s a miracle that God saved us [all of us, not just the really bad ones]” -Andy Burkhart

We talked about how Christ was and is our only righteousness and that when we try to obtain righteousness in any other way, we devalue His works on the Cross, and we elevate ourselves to a status that we cannot begin to obtain. Thinking we can do anything to save our selves, that our works are anything more than mere “filthy rags” is absurd and defames our Lord. Our ability to follow rule and make things look good for everyone IS NOT REAL CHRISTIANITY. It’s a facade that stops us from interacting with others genuinely and limits our ability to look to others around us for accountability and strength. When we begin to depend on ourselves, I am reminded of Ephesians 2:3 where Paul talks about us following the “desires of the body and the mind” which leads to wrath. Ephesians 2:1-3 gives a pretty good idea of where we stood before Christ intervened. Legalism and self-righoutness can very easily fall into these desires of the mind. It’s far easier to be focused on doing the right thing and following rules than it is to humble yourself, admit you cannot do it, and follow someone else to step in and save you.

We are a proud, proud people. We includes me, but it also included you. We cannot stand to fail, or be wrong. We HATE being forced to be dependent or anyone else. Any true and honest Christian will tell you that learning dependence on God is the most painful, difficult process that we face,but one that is so well worth it.