Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dealing with Problems

We all have problems in life, some major some minor. Some are physical, some are mental, some are social, some are psychological. It is my biased opinion that all are somehow related to a Spiritual problem. Whether its a spiritual problem in the sense of where we are in our spiritual life (i.e. sin), or a spiritual problem that involves a more general association with the existence of evil in the world in which we live.

I have found that focusing on problems (or a problem) is not helpful. It only makes the problem bigger than it already is. Denial isn't the answer either. I think a healthy recognition of the problem with a focus on God is the best way to work through whatever the problem is.

I have a confession to make: I've been terrible at focusing on God in the midst of problems. Its so easy to focus on the problem and seek the sympathy of other people when I should be focusing on God and seeking the prayers of other people. It is healthy to recognize a problem, its detrimental to let that problem become the focal point of your life.

Didn't Jesus says something about seeking first the Kingdom of God? And didn't Paul write something about dwelling and thinking about whatever is good, pure and lovely? Yes and Yes. May we become the kind of people that seek God and focus on worshipping Him even in the midst of facing problems.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Integrity is one of those virtues that once you lose it, it is almost impossible to get back. The only reason I say "almost impossible" is because I believe God can change people's hearts in drastic ways. Proverbs 10:9 says "The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out."

People of integrity can "walk securely" because they have nothing to hide. They have no conscious fear of negative consequences due to immoral or unwise actions. And even if there is immoral or unwise behavior, the person of integrity accepts the consequences knowing full well that it is the result of their actions.

A person of integrity strives to be honest, just and respectful, even if that means being uncomfortable and/or inconvenienced. Integrity is not a gift that we're given, rather, its a virtue created by the life we live. Its created by making wise lifelong decisions that are based on having the best interest of others in mind. For a Christian integrity should be assumed. Its sad and unfortunate that Christians do not have the reputation of being men and women of integrity. In fact, "normal" people (meaning people who don't call themselves Christians) view Christians as hypocritical, judgmental, homophobic, sheltered and agenda driven (for more on this, buy this book).

Those accusations are all too often accurate, which means more than ever Christians need to step up and live lives of integrity. Its not always easy to keep our integrity, but its worth whatever the cost.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Beautiful Mess

The church is a beautiful mess because our lives are beautiful messes. My life is a beautiful mess. Beautiful because God has blessed me so much and a mess because I'm human. There's a book about the church titled This Beautiful Mess that got me thinking about this idea. I just started reading it. It feels as though no matter how much I get done in a day I feel like I could've done more or even prioritized better-I feel like a mess. The amazing thing is that God's grace turns that mess into beauty. I'm not the perfect husband, father or son. But I have a beautiful relationship with my wife, children and parents. I'm a mess, those relationships get messy, but it seems like beauty always prevails. Thank God.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bible Study Website

I recently discovered (as of yesterday) this website. It is one of the best websites I've found for doing some serious bible study quickly. My favorite part is that it is so easy to use. It has boxes you can click on to take you straight to whatever resource you want to use. I've found other websites for Bible study that may have just as much or more information, but most of them aren't this easy to use. Biblios is simple and user friendly. Just to be clear, I am not associated in anyway with the website, I just like the layout and available resources that are there. It must be fairly new, because the Hebrew interlinear is not up yet. Check it out for yourself and tell me what you think.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Values, Goals and Interests

In a class I lead every Sunday we just finished up a portion of a book called Boundaries in Dating. I do some pre-marriage counseling and discovered something I intend to add to the sessions. I intend to ask questions about shared values, goals and interests. As they say in the book, it is possible to fall in love with someone that does not share similar values, goals and interests. When you marry someone that you have nothing in common with, it makes the marriage extremely difficult and often leads to divorce. I believe this is the core reason faithful Christians who have not encountered a moral failure (such as unfaithfulness) get divorced.

This idea helped me evaluate my own marriage. My wife and share similar values: we both want to be excellent parents, we both want to support causes we believe in, we both want to have a great marriage, etc. We share similar goals: we both expect our children to go to college, we both hope to one day live in Wilmington, NC, we both want to be successful in our careers, etc. While we have less similarities in our interests, if I had to pick one area of the three to disagree on it would be that one, especially because interests change. Some areas of agreement are: we are both interested in developing our faith and the faith of our children, we are both interested in our childrens lives and invested in giving them the best childhood we can, we both enjoy playing scrabble, etc. I wish I could get her interested in football and I'm sure she wishes she could get me interested in gardening, but I digress.

Here's the deal:
If you are single, it is important, no matter how shallow it may seem, to align yourself with someone who shares your values, goals and interests.
If you are married, it is essential to get on the same page if you aren't already, even if it means compromising what you like or dislike. Its worth it if it means saving your marriage.

Monday, August 3, 2009

NT Wright on Homosexuality

NT Wright is the Bishop of Durham and one the foremost Biblical Scholars in the world right now. Some people have described him as the modern day C.S. Lewis. While I understand the sentiment, I think the comparison does neither of them justice. Anyway, he's an author and teacher I respect, admire and make it a point to pay attention to. I was glad to read his recent comments on the decision of the Episcopalian Church in the United States to allow in principle the appointment, to all orders of ministry, persons in active same-sex relationships. To read the complete article, click here.

As I read the article I sensed his grieving the schism and his desire for Christians to remain loyal to orthodox faith.

One of his best quotes of the article: "We must insist, too, on the distinction between inclination and desire on the one hand and activity on the other — a distinction regularly obscured by references to 'homosexual clergy' and so on."

If you're interested some of his brief thoughts via video, here ya go: