Why are we not perfect?

Update 26 Dec 2014: The podcast links for BLASTcast in 2009 are unfortunately broken due to a server change. 🙁

(If you’re looking for our podcast recording from December 6th, this is it! Please be sure to SUBSCRIBE to our blog to receive email updates, using the form in the right sidebar of our BLASTcast blog. Cross-posted to BLASTcast.)

Today in our 5th grade Sunday School class we continued our unit of study focusing on the question, “What is the point?” We talked about how there are so many images and themes all around us at Christmastime, but often VERY few of these have to do with Jesus and his birth! We listened to the free Pandora Internet Radio Channel “Peaceful Holidays” and viewed some secular holiday images/themes represented in the Flickr Group, “A Very Flickr Christmas.” (There are over 50,000 shared Christmas photos in this group, and none of the ones we saw had anything to do with Jesus, his birth, the church, or Christianity!)

We discussed whether or not it is a sin to be “tempted,” and Matthew 4:1-11 (New International Version) when Jesus was tempted in the desert by the devil. We talked about how it is not a sin to be tempted, but our actions and choices determine whether or not we sin when we face temptation. While Jesus WAS tempted, he did not give in to temptation and always responded to temptation with the “sword of the spirit:” God’s word.

We next listened to our podcast recording from class two weeks ago, when we considered the question, “Why Did God Create Me?” We played images from the Flickr Creative Commons image search for “nativity Christmas” as we listened to our five minute podcast, and then discussed some of the “answers” we heard our classmates share during that audio recording.

We played a game of tag that proved to be very challenging because of the difficult rules we had to follow, and then talked about how that game connects to our theme today, “Why are we not perfect?” We then broke into three groups for a jigzaw activity. Each group read and discussed one of the following verses, discussing how it applied or related to our question, “Why are we not perfect?”

  1. Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 1:31 (New International Version)
  2. Psalm 139:13-16 (New International Version)
  3. Romans 8:35-39 (New International Version)

Finally, we recorded a seven minute podcast, discussing these verses and how they apply to our theme, “Why are we not perfect?” Please listen to our podcast and share feedback as comments on this post.

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Why did God create me? (Lesson intro and class podcast)

Cross-posted to the BLASTcast blog.

This morning in our 5th grade Sunday school class we started a new unit with the theme, “Why did God Create Me?” We read and discussed the following verses:

Ephesians 2:10
Psalm 139: 1-12
Romans 5:8-11

We recorded a five minute podcast in class (unfortunately no longer available online due to server changes), sharing these verses and some of our own ideas about what they mean in the context of God’s purposes for our lives. It is important to think about these ideas as we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the United States this week, and as we move into the month of December to celebrate Christmas.

We started off our lesson today talking about the following advertisement I saw at Pier 1 this weekend, and what the advertisers might be saying “our purpose” is in the world.

Sleigh Bells Ring, Are You Gifting?

God HAS made us to share our gifts with each other, but he has made us for so much more than to just buy things! He has made us to love him, to worship, and to be his hands and feet on earth. We are called to do his good works each day of our lives.

In December, we’ll be discussing questions like:

How Come I’m Not Perfect?
Why Didn’t God Make Us Like Robots?
What Does God Want from Me?

Next week (Sunday, November 29th) we will meet in Creation Station to make advent wreaths along with other elementary students. In December we’ll be back in our “normal” classroom for Sunday school.

If you have comments and feedback for our 5th graders on their podcast or on any of the ideas we’ve shared here, please leave a comment here on this post! Thanks for visiting our blog and listening to our podcast. We’d love to hear from you, and will share comments / feedback we receive here during class.

Here are some additional photos from our brainstorming, discussions, and prayer time today.

Key verses for today

Prayer concerns today

Great questions tonight at dinner

These are some of the great questions our two daughters asked tonight at dinner. Shelly and I did our best to answer these. Wow this was challenging!

In Mulan they pray and speak to “the ancestors” instead of God. Why do they pray to “the ancestors” and not God?

Is God the only God? Other people believe in other gods, so are those gods true?

How do we know God is the most powerful God in the world?

If you go up into space, will you get into heaven?

Why is God so confusing? We’ve lived on earth more than 2000 years and don’t know it all yet.

Are you saying we can’t get into heaven without Jesus’ help?

Are there secrets about God?

Did Jesus know he was “going to be the One” when he was a little boy growing up?

Could Jesus come again to earth as a person?

“Why does Jesus be mean to people when he said ‘let me people go’ like pharaoh?”

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Week 1: The Truth Project

Our church is offering an adult summer school class this year using “The Truth Project” as the curriculum. These are my notes from week 1. (I took these notes on my iPhone via EverNote, and am pasting them later– actually after week 2 which was today!) MY REFLECTIONS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS. Dr. Del Tackett is leading and presenting in this video series. His blog is on deltackett.com.

Setting up dichotomies: God’s view vs the world and devil’s view
– reminds me of Angels and Demons and the Catholic separation of the church and science

Postmodernism is the same old battle

What is truth?

Ravi Zacharias, RC Sproul, Os Guiness

Defines from Noah Webster in 1828

Isaiah 44

What is insanity: losing touch with reality and believing that the lie is real

Our actions reflect what we believe to be really real

Lies are powerful

Truth is fundamentally about who God is, he provides the reference point fir what is true and false

Colossians 2:12

Overarching message: the cosmic battle around us
– our faith is in the truth claims if God
– faith, hope, truth

Faith like a child
– image of child jumping off a diving board to his mom in the water

Our hope and faith us not a feeling, it overcomes our feelings

Our beliefs and perceptions determine our actions

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Week 2: The Truth Project

Our church is offering an adult summer school class this year using “The Truth Project” as the curriculum. These are my notes from week 2. MY REFLECTIONS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS. Dr. Del Tackett is leading and presenting in this video series. His blog is on deltackett.com.

Philosophy and ethics form the outside pillars of our understanding
– striving to understand “what our culture has been taken captive by”

2 Timothy 2: 24-26
– the Lord’s servant must gently instruct his opponents

24And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will

We were all outsiders before we came into the body of Christ

Col 2:8
– addressed to us as believers
– tone of this verse is a warning to believers
– message is we CAN be taken captive by lies

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

We have to receive this as a warning from God
– we should know what that deceptive philosophy looks like, otherwise we will be taken captive by it
– now showing an opening clip to a video series shown all over the United States and in other countries
– if you went to public school in the US, you may have seen this opening scene from “Cosmos” by Carl Sagan

– what were his opening words, “The cosmos is all that ever was, is, and ever will be”
– what he is fundamentally saying this is a material world, there is no God

[I HAVE READ THIS IDEA THAT CARL SAGAN, AN EXPERT ON SCIENCE BUT NOT THEOLOGY, MAKES LOTS OF FAITH CLAIMS IN HIS SERIES ‘COSMOS’]

If Sagan had came right out and said “There is no God” then that video wouldn’t have been shown in public schools
– Sagan says “our contemplations of the Cosmos stir us.”

What we see here is assumptive language: the most dangerous form of knowledge
– assumptions are caught and bought without an open, conscious dialogue
– if you buy a statement, you buy the underlying assumptions as well
– so Carl Sagan is precisely teaching here that “there is no God”

I DON’T ENTIRELY BUY THIS. I ACCEPT CARL SAGAN IS NOT SHARING A CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW HERE, OF COURSE, BUT I QUESTION (AS I DID LAST WEEK AS WELL) THE IDEA THAT ANYONE PRESENTING A SCIENTIFIC VIEWPOINT IS NECESSARILY ANTI-CHRISTIAN AND ANTI-GOD.

Carl Sagan: “we are made of star stuff, some part of our being knows this, we can return to the cosmos”

I AGREE THAT SAGAN’S WORDS IN THIS CLIP ARE GNOSTIC

We are going to call this “the cosmic cube”
– philosophical position that all we have and know is inside the

What we see is a philosophy that is attempting to define everything, everything is inside the box

THIS IS NOT TRUE OF THE SCIENTIFIC WORLDVIEW. THE SCIENTIFIC WORLDVIEW ACCEPTS THERE ARE MANY THINGS OUTSIDE OUR CURRENT UNDERSTANDING, AND WE CANNOT GO BEYOND WHAT WE CAN OBSERVE IN A REPEATED ENVIRONMENT IN TERMS OF TRUTH CLAIMS

A contrary view, a Biblical view, is that God is outside the box and acts inside the box

in Deism, people said God created the box but really doesn’t act within the box, doesn’t send his Word, and certainly wouldn’t come to die for us
– if he doesn’t act, speak, care, or come to use when we need us / help us: then he is irrelevant and gone
– then we end up with “the Cosmos” of Carl Sagan

What is this thing called philosophy?”
– we are going to find that the Biblical worldview and the worldview we are exposing here are polar opposites

Basis of the Biblical worldview
– God Is
– God reveals himself to us: in his creation and in his special revelation / in his Word

The “other” worldview begins with the assumption:
– God is NOT

CLEARLY SCIENCE DOES NOT MAKE FAITH CLAIMS, THAT IS A GIVEN
– I DO NOT THINK IT IS ACCURATE TO SAY THAT ALL SCIENTISTS AND ALL OF SCIENCE STARTS WITH THE BELIEF THAT GOD DOES NOT EXIST. LOOK AT DARK MATTER AS AN EXAMPLE. THERE ARE CERTAINLY THINGS WHICH SCIENCE ACKNOWLEDGES LIMITS TO ITS KNOWLEDGE.

Story of a man who was caught up in an addiction to pornography
– told him you do not believe in the omnipresence of God (if he did, he wouldn’t look at and do the things that he was)

A pantheist wouldn’t disagree with Carl Sagan’s statements
– a pantheist adds God throughout the box, not outside the box

Maybe we’ll turn God into “may the force be with you”
– paganism adds “spirit” inside the box
– many religions which profess belief in God do this as well

Without “the spirit” we might call it naturalism
– with the spirit we might call it “spiritual naturalism”
– this worldview says: the cosmos is all there was, all there is, and all there ever will be

What is philosophy?
– a scientific quest to discover “ultimate reality”

Again I love Webster’s old 1828 dictionary definition, of philosophy:

The objects of philosophy are to ascertain facts or truth, and the causes of things or their phenomena; to enlarge our views of God and his works, and to render our knowledge of both practically useful and subservient to human happiness.
True religion and true philosophy must ultimately arrive at the same principle

that same definition NOT in current Webster’s

Something has changed in philosophy
– webster’s new dictionary says: philosophy is a search for underlying reality
– that leaves God out of the picture, which is the problem, because now you just have “the box” and are searching for the truth in the box

Philosophical questions:
– why do I exist?
– what is existence?
– what is thinking?
– what is reason?
– what is logic?
– what is knowing?
– if I know something, how can I know it is real?
– what is the meaning and purpose of life?
– where did we come from?

If you want an impossible task, try to find the answers in “the box”
– this has been the great quest of philosohpers from the beginning: to find the big answers to the big questions

The Universals
– how are we going to make sense of the particulars if we don’t know the answers to the universal questions

Story of friends who told him “the universal truths of Cricket

This quest for the answers to “the universals” is captured in this incredible painting by Raphael in the Vatican, “The School of Athens”
– this captures the philosophical dilemma between Aristotle (looking for the particulars) and Plato (looking for the ideals)
– problem was they were both looking for the answers in the box”

From "The School of Athens" by Raphael in Vatican City

IS THAT REALLY TRUE FOR PLATO? I AM NOT SURE

There was a huge gap between the particulars and teh universals
– why am I here?
– what is the meaning to my existance?

Now showing a photo of Leonardo Da Vinci
– believed he could find those universals
– people believed we could find the universals through mathematics, then turned to science, then turned to art
– ended up as most of the philosphers do despondent, depressed, failing in their quest

IS THAT STATEMENT CORRECT, THAT MOST OF THE GREAT PHILOSOPHERS END UP DEPRESSED

The world’s approach is to try and discover the universals from the particulars
– God’s approach is the opposte: we don’t have to hunt for the answers to those big questions, therefore we can live in this world and make sense of all the particulars around us

OR AT LEAST MOST OF THE PARTICULARS. I DON’T THINK WE CAN UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS IN THE WORLD

different options:
– materialism
– mechaism
– solopism:
– rationalism:
– more….

When I attend Kansas State University, I attended my first philosophy class
– I was sitting on the front row, and the philosophy professor began his lecture sharing a philosophy without God
– he said “you don’t even know if the chair you are sitting on is real…” and I asked myself, “I am paying for this?”
-this path takes us to depression

THIS IS RIDICULOUS. HE IS REJECTING THE WHOLE OF PHILOSPHY BASED ON THAT ONE OPENING STATEMENT FROM HIS FRESHMAN PHILOSOPHY INSTRUCTOR.

Can you live in a world that is postmodern?
– that says there is no absolute truth: that says we can both have a truth and they can both be true

Story of an architect who designed the building with randomness and chaos in mind

You cannot live in a non-reality, insane world
– but that is where philosophy has taken us

IT IS A RIDICULOUS AND INACCURATE ASSERTION TO SAY THAT ALL OF PHILOSOPHY IS POSTMODERN AND MONOLITHIC IN REJECTING THE EXISTENCE OF GOD, THE GOOD, IDEALS, AND OTHER CONCEPTS OUTSIDE THE MATERIAL WORLD
– HAS THIS GUY ACTUALLY READ PLATO?

Brings us to the pillar of ethics
– who makes the rules?
– what is right, what is wrong

If this is your philosophy, then might makes right (postmodern society)
– then this leaves you with 51% of the vote is right

SO IS HE REJECTING DEMOCRACY HERE?
– WHO IS MAKING A CLAIM THAT DEMOCRACY IS THE PATH TO TRUTH

Now showing a montage of video of different people sharing what they thing truth is and how you know what truth is

we don’t know how to answer this question without God
– do we fall back on some utilitarian, pragmatic position? what is best for society? what about the minority?
– when might begins to make right, you will find a lot of people oppressed and crushed

so what do we turn to?

SO I GUESS HIS ESSENTIAL POSITION IS THERE ARE NO ETHICS WITHOUT GOD.

From Plato’s Euthyphro:” Is an act right because God’s wills it….”

I WISH HE WAS LEAVING THE SLIDES UP LONGER

Now quoting William of Ockham cited in Feinberg and Feinberg
– means God could change
– that is wrong because we know God is unchanging

If God never changes, then how would this guy explain “the new covenant”
– I AGREE THAT GOD IS, HAS BEEN AND ALWAYS WILL BE. I ALSO BELIEVE GOD IS IN RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS PEOPLE AND THAT RELATIONSHIP CHANGES. THE OLD AND NEW COVENANTS AR EXAMPLES.

God can’t lie.
– lying is wrong because it is counter to the very nature of God

SO THIS GUY IS SETTING UP A COMPLETELY BLACK AND WHITE VIEW OF ETHICS AND GOD, WHERE THERE NO ARE GREY AREAS. I WONDER (BUT DOUBT) HE WILL BRING UP SOME GOOD CASE STUDIES AND SITUATIONS WHICH

Dr William Provine
– lecture at Harvard
– summarizing views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us
– no gods or purposive forces, no life after death, no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning for life, no free will for humans
– Christian humanism has a lot going for it, it is warm and kindly (not for gays, of course)
– problem is you have to suspend your rational mind
– question is can atheistic humanism give us anything? Yes, it can give us intellectual satisfaction because we don’t have to cling to the fairy tales of our youth
– free will is a horribly destructive idea for our society
– so we can rely on “proximate meaning”

SO WHY DOES HE VIEW ‘FREE WILL’ AS DESTRUCTIVE?
– THIS IS QUITE A VIDEO. I WONDER IF IT IS AVAILABLE ONLINE ON YOUTUBE

you can’t live in that kind of world
– THAT IS NOT REALLY TRUE, TO THE EXTENT THAT DR PROVINE AND MANY OTHERS DO “LIVE IN THAT WORLD.” I AGREE THE POSTMODERN WORLD BELIEFS CAN VIOLATE THE LAW OF NON-CONTRADICTION AND NOT BE CONSISTENT

Quotation from R.C. Sproul (video clip)
morality looks at “is”
ethics looks at “ought”
– this distinction has been blurred in our society
– this leads to a statistical view of morality, “the good” is determined by “what is” rather than “what ought to be”
– this leads to a crisis in ethics

do you understand why we are so caught up in surveys and statistics today
– I’D SAY A LOT HAS TO DO WITH WHAT POSTMAN SAYS IN “TECHNOPOLOY”

Barna’s recent survey: How many Americans have a biblical worldview?
– only 4%
– based on 10 fundamental questions
– born again Christians: just 9%

Charles Colson quoted from “Now How Shall We Live?
– Christianity’s big problem: not seen as a viable worldview

merging formal worldviews and personal worldviews

formal worldviews
– marxism, Christianity, islam, etc…
– have truth claims
– these bombard us, are all around us

what I am interested in is your personal worldview
– “the set of individual truth claims that you have embraced so deeply that you believe the reflect what is really real…”
– very seldom do we have a personal worldviews that mirror exactly a formal worldview

What are the consequences when you buy the lives? You conform to the world
Romans 12:2

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Again from Sproul
– you can’t divorce the transformation of the mind and the heart
– postmoderns are looking for experiences and not intellectual study

the world “transformed” is overused in our culture
– “metamorpho” is the Greek word
– butterflies are the pretty part of metamorphasis

Only 3 times this word is used in the scriptre
– Romans 12:2
– also in the transfiguration of Christ, something that is fundamentally transformational
– also in 2 Corinthians 3:18

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit

We are involved in this study not just to know facts and have answers, but because of our children
– showed picture of a person who had undergone a lot of facial body piercings, and then juxtaposed that with a photo of his grandchildren

OUR CHURCH IS NOT PROVIDING ANY OPPORTUNITY FOR FOLKS TO DISCUSS AND TALK ABOUT THESE VIDEOS. THESE VIDEOS ARE 55 MIN LONG, AND NO TIME IS PROVIDED FOR DISCUSSION. I THINK WE SHOULD HAVE BOTH FACE TO FACE OPPORTUNITIES TO DISCUSS, QUESTION, AND DEBATE THE POINTS AND ISSUES WHICH ARE RAISED HERE, AND ALSO AN ONLINE OPPORTUNITY TO DISCUSS THEM. I THINK I AM GOING TO COMMENT ON DR. TACKETT’S BLOG AND MAKE THIS SUGGESTION. OUR CONGREGATION IS LIKELY “NOT READY” FOR THIS TYPE OF ONLINE FORUM FOR DISCUSSION LIKE THIS, BUT WE SHOULD BE. IF THE PUBLISHERS OF THIS SERIES DO NOT HAVE THAT TYPE OF FORUM SETUP AND ARE NOT WILLING OT SET ONE UP, PERHAPS I’LL SET ONE UP VIA NING.

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Choosing Legalism over Grace

Our church is currently in the midst of a series called “Real Life”. The focus is on daily living, what it looks like to be a Christian.  It’s really a study on the book of Galatians. I bookmarked a couple of verses today from the Message:

Galatians 2:20-21

My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.

Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.

The last line struck me.  Having lived the majority of my 45 years as a Christian, I still struggle with that. The world around me reminds me every day that it does not operate under grace. It operates under a belief that if you work hard, good things happen and you get exactly what you deserve.  This is likely why we fall into the trap of legalism.  Our Pastor asked, “Why are we so quick to succumb to legalism and yet so easily give up on grace?’  I ask myself that alot.

I also bookmarked Galatians 3:5

Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you?

These are questions I need to spend some time pondering.

The Good Life: Stewardship

These are my notes from John Gruel’s class, “The Good Life: Stewardship” on Wednesday, April 8, 2009. This was shared as a class following “The Gathering” at 1st Presbyterian Church in Edmond, Oklahoma.

THIS REMINDS ME OF A SERIES I TAUGHT AT OUR CHURCH IN LUBBOCK TITLED, “Lessons of Christian Stewardship from the Life of the Steward of Gondor”

Why is Stewardship season typically in the fall for churches?
– it’s budgeting time
– focus of stewardship season is usually money

steward = someone hired in a large household to manage domestic affairs
– some stewards are also on a ship

Stewardship: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care

Psalm 24:1

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;

Everything belongs to God
– also Genesis 1:1

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Point 2: We are radically dependent on God
– we don’t have anything that hasn’t been given to us by God

Genesis 2:15

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it

word “subdue” implies dominion and care for

Our position in creation by God is one of trust and relationship

dominion” we’re given over the earth is as STEWARDS
– to take care of the earth, we have responsibilities

human dominion and stewardship is affected by the fall recorded in Genesis 3
– consequences for women in childbirth

part of the blessing and charge was: be fruitful and multiply
– after the fall, we can and still do that, but it’s more of a burden
– language of the painful toil for childbirth is the same as the pain for Adam in bringing crops from the ground

Now we also have the first example of domination: the male over the female
– that is not necessarily part of the original plan, that is a consequence of the Fall

Genesis 3:16-19

As a result of the fall, our relationship with creation and our Creator is distorted

Foundational assumption: when things are going well for us, we tend to forget that everything we have is a gift from God
Deut 8:10-19

Deut 8:17-20 (The Message)

If you start thinking to yourselves, “I did all this. And all by myself. I’m rich. It’s all mine!”—well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth so as to confirm the covenant that he promised to your ancestors—as it is today.

If you forget, forget God, your God, and start taking up with other gods, serving and worshiping them, I’m on record right now as giving you firm warning: that will be the end of you; I mean it—destruction. You’ll go to your doom—the same as the nations God is destroying before you; doom because you wouldn’t obey the Voice of God, your God

That gives us an accurate glimpse of what we tend to do, when things are bad and good
– when things are good, we don’t tend to call out to anyone
– this is part of who we are and tend to be: we forget our dependence on God to our peril

2 Cor 5:17-18
– a new creation that is being redeemed is the result of us abiding in Christ

Christ reconciling the world to himself, as we are reconciled we join Jesus’ work of stewardship

Personal stewardship is holistic: it involves all our bodies
– Heart: desires, will, allegiance – in this time of thinking the heart was more than the organ that pumps your blood
– Soul: nature, self
– Mind: Thoughts, speech
– Strength: action, resources

You are a steward of everything you are and everything you have

On a corporate level, we are called to stewardship as well
– creation care
– economic justice

Stewardship of our own resources: time, energy, and assets

I THINK WE CAN ALSO THINK OF OUR “ATTENTION” IN TERMS OF STEWARDSHIP

Time
– Time is money: it is a resource, we have to budget it, it is a commodity
– like money it is not our own, it is given to us by God

– Differences: we can’t store up time like money for future use
— we have to manage it for current use
— once you lose it, it’s gone

– being a steward of your time means using it as God would have you use it
– a proportionate share of your time should be dedicated to the kingdom of God

If you waste, lose or squander your time, you can’t get it back
– we need to be good stewards of our use of time

Look at Jesus’ live as an example and model of stewardship of time: Time with his Father, time with his disciples
– this does not mean “making every moment count” and living a burnout life of constant labor
– that is not good stewardship of time either
– should include some time for ministry, work, family, relationship, prayer, Sabbath
– work of time that honors God and reflects God’s will for our lives

Stewardship of time should provoke us to think about

Story from San Cosme: After finding out that John has a laundry machine, the women asked, “When do the women talk to each other”

watching TV = developing a relationship with a phosphorescent tube
– leads to screen relationship

NATIONAL TURN YOUR TV OFF WEEK IS APRIL 20-26, 2009

Story of Dave Lewis, area pastor, cutting the cable to his family’s TV

A proportionate share of your time should be set aside for God and the kingdom of God
– that proportion dependent on what has been made available to you

Stewardship of energy
– enthusiasm: personal investment
— think about college sports fans
— Presbyterians will not raise their hands in worship, but look how passionate and active we’ll get when it comes to college sports!
— where are we investing our enthusiasm and displaying our passion?
– effort: personal involvement
— personal participation

Lots easier for me to write a check than get involved with something

finding ways to invest your energy in what God is doing in the world
– remember God is doing LOTS more in the world than just what is happening in your local church and congregation
– God is very active outside your local congregation

Assets
– material assets: property, possessions

monetary stewardship: using your money as God would have you use it
– includes caring for yourself and your family (that is a Biblical responsibility)
– interesting to see how we define “caring for our families” here in North America
– includes sharing generously with others (gleaning laws are an example)
– includes learning to the Lord a portion

When we started this discussion, we were focusing on money in terms of Stewardship. Why is that?
– institutional maintenance
– to a degree, churches are like businesses

THIS IS TRUE FOR SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES/UNIVERSITIES TOO
– it is about 80-90% of our budget now
– we have difficulty scaling that downs

you can’t keep an institutional church going without money

Is this a good reason for narrowing our focus on Stewardship to money? No.

Story of a friend who was told how much to donate to the building of a new pipe organ at his church

How should we give?
– joyfully (willingly, thankfully, cheerfully) – 2 Cor 9:7
— if you are going to give begrudgingly, don’t bother
– generously

Exodus 35

Construction of the tent in Exodus 36
– free will offerings continued to be brought

Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work

This personifies generous giving

Can you imagine if we had to tell people to stop bringing so much money to church, we can’t use it all?!

Tithe is not a NT concept
– it is not in the NT
– had to do with temple worship, supporting the priesthood
– generous giving, joyful giving IS a NT concept

Church of the Savior in Washington DC
established ideal of giving proportionally to different things, rather than setting up a tithe as an absolute floor of minimum giving

Giving sacrificially
– quotation from Kathryn Ann Lindskoog:

C.S. Lewis didn’t talk about percentage giving. He said the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. Our charities should pinch and hamper us. If we live at the same level of affluence as other people who have our level of income, we are probably giving away too little. Obstacles to charity include greed for a luxurious living, greed for money itself, fear of financial insecurity, and showy pride.

Story of John’s son Ben asking about their family financial priorities at age 11, comparing their families to others

Give compassionately
– requires the ability to see the need
– is a response to the perceived need

Story of CCC needing a new refridgerator

Galations 6:9-10

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Homework for next week:

1- Evaluate your giving patterns for some of these principles: joy, generosity, proportionality, sacrifice, and compassion. Identify areas that need improvement and address them

2- Look at the people who are regularly in and out of your life, or consider some of the ministries and missions of the church. Can you ID any needs which you could compassionately address through stewardship of your time, energy and resources?

Next week: We’ll talk about Sabbath!

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Jesus on WikiPedia

In writing a post this evening about the 2008/9 Wikipedia Selection for schools (“WikiPedia to go (an offline download for schools)”) I briefly scanned the opening paragraphs of the site’s article for Jesus.

WOW.

The first content issue the article raises is in the first sentence of the third paragraph, which reads:

…though some scholars argue that other texts (such as the Gospel of Thomas) are as relevant as the canonical gospels to the historical Jesus.

Score one point for Elaine Pagels and the modern-day gnostics. See my Christmas day post from 2005, “Modern day gnosticism,” for why it is misleading to suggest that Pagels’ fringe views on the “gospel of Thomas” deserve mainstream attention and respect.

Pagels and gnosticism aside, I find this extensive article about Jesus from the WikiPedia Selection for schools to be very thought provoking and worthwhile to consider as a Christ-follower, parent, spouse, Sunday school teacher, and leader in my local church congregation.

I think it could be a great activity for an adult or youth Sunday school class to review and analyze this article, in light of the beliefs, theology, and worldview of the local congregation in which it is studied.

Do you know what you believe? Do you know why you believe those things? Can you articulate and explain your beliefs, by reading an article about Jesus Christ ostensibly written from a secular perspective?

These sound like great challenges as well as opportunities for modern-day Christians. 🙂

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5th Graders speak: “Who Is Jesus?”

5th grade students in the Sunday school class I’m co-teaching this semester contributed to this four minute audio podcast on the theme, “Who Is Jesus?” Some of these recordings were made during our Sunday school class last week using Audacity and an external microphone, but most were made by students and teachers from home using their phones and the free Gabcast service.

Compatibility between science and faith

I attended a wonderful Christian men’s conference at Mo-Ranch in south Texas this weekend, and emerged from the weekend with 22 pages of handwritten notes! To begin the work I need to do in processing and reflecting on many of the ideas shared at the conference, I recorded a 30 minute Gcast podcast this evening with my cell phone, which was automatically posted to the web.


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The Sunday School lessons of Dr. Dan Foster, who was our conference keynote speaker, are available online.

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