Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Redeeming the Time

"Be careful how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity."  These words were written by Paul to the Christians in Ephesus.

The phrase "making the most of every opportunity" is a correct translation of a greek euphemism that literally says "redeeming the time." 

I love that phrase: "redeeming the time."

When we think of redemption we often think of it as something God did and God does and God is doing.  We think of redemption as God's work, not ours.  

But Paul writes that we are capable of "redeeming the time."  This is not just something God does, this is something we are called to do and capable of doing.

How?  By living wisely.  By asking the question "What is the wise thing to do with my time?"

John Wesley (the father of Methodism) wrote these rules for living:

1. Do no harm
2. Do good
3. Practice spiritual disciplines

We like the first one.  We like the idea of staying out of trouble.  Many Christians live like doing no harm is what following Jesus is all about.  That having a strong faith is about what you don't do.  

However, when I look at what Jesus taught and the example he lived I wonder how Christians have ever gotten that idea in their head.  Jesus was all about engaging people with a message of truth and love.  He was all about doing good and taking time to talk to God.  He was about action and involvement, not sitting back and patting himself on the back for staying out of trouble.

So what can you do to "redeem the time."  How can you move from a life of "doing not harm" to a life of actually "doing good?"

If you want to hear more about this, you can listen to or download the sermon from last week here.

May you "redeem the time" since God has redeemed you.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Best Question Ever

The current series at the church I'm serving is called The Best Question Ever.  I stole it from Andy Stanley.

The best question we can ask is: What is the wise thing to do?

This is better than any other question. 

We can ask: "What is the right thing to do?" 

But some decisions aren't about right and wrong, some decisions are morally neutral.  Also, so many decisions are not necessarily between what is right and what is wrong, but what is good and what is better.  The decision between going out with church friends to have fellowship and staying home to spend quality time with the family is a decision between a good thing and a better thing.

We can ask: "What does the Bible say?" 

But it is silent in so many areas.  Also, the Bible is not an instruction manual so it will not tell us what to buy, what to eat, what career to pursue and many other decisions.  This is not to devalue the Bible, I just think Christians use it in the wrong way sometimes.  The Bible is the amazing story of God creating the world, incarnating into the world and rescuring humanity within and beyond the world. 

We can ask: "What would Jesus do?" 

Sounds great.  But again, we don't actually know what Jesus would drive if he came into the world today.  We don't actually know if Jesus would care about the theme for this Summer's VBS at our church.  Another problem with "What would Jesus do?" is that it assumes that Jesus exists in the past tense.  I like "What is Jesus doing?" better.  The question, what is the wise thing to do looks to God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit as the source of that wisdom.

So may you ask instead: What is the wise thing to do and find that God uses it to keep you in the freedom He already has for you.

(Want to hear the messages?  Click here.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Laminin Video

This is a powerful video:

It may be just a bit of a stretch, but I'm still going to steal the idea for a sermon someday.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Current Read

I'm reading the book Bonhoeffer which is written by Eric Metaxas.  It is a biography of the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a name every Christian should know. 

He was a pastor and theologian during the rise of Hitler in Germany.  His story stirs something within me.  If you like biography's, you will love this book.  Eric Metaxas is an excellent writer.  He's clear and concise and yet offers enough detail to keep you interested in the intricacies of Bonehoeffer's life.

Like most brilliant people, Bonhoeffer had some brilliant quotes.  Here are three of my favorites:

1. A God who let us prove his existence would be an idol.

2. "Being free means "being free for the other," because the other has bound me to him. Only in relationship with the other am I free."

3. Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Completing the Process

I am ordained in the United Methodist Church, but I have not completed the ordination process.

To finish the process I had to submit papers to three different Boards within what is known as the Board of Ordained Ministry.  I did the same thing three years ago, accept at that time they were looking for readiness in minstry this time they are looking for effectiveness in ministry. 

The three Boards are:
1. Theology and Doctrine
2. Proclamation and Discipleship
3. Call and Disciplined Life

The total number of pages for all three Boards ended up being over 80 pages of work. 

And it's not over yet.

In February I will be interviewed by each Board.

If I pass each interview, in June I will have the Bishop lay his hand on me and I will have officially finished the ordination process. 

It might look something like this:

It will be a great feeling.

However, besides a new designation within Methodism, nothing will change.

I will still do what I've been doing at the church I'm serving: preaching, teaching, leading, praying and visiting.

I take the ordination process seriously, however, it seems minimized when nothing actually changes accept a designation within the conference.