We Cannot Bring About Lasting Change In Anyone

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Labor Day has thrown me off this week. I keep thinking that it is Tuesday when it is really Wednesday.

I’ve been wanting to share my notes from teaching through Paul Tripp’s Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family in Sunday School. Each week has been a good reminder of what I’d call Christianity 101. Foundational Biblical truths we all know, as Christians, and yet forget to live out.

Sunday morning, our topic was on Inability (Chapter 4). The key principle was: “Recognizing what you are unable to do is essential to good parenting.”

We started out by reading the following quote:

If you are going to be what God has designed you to be as a parent and do what he’s called you to do, you must confess one essential thing. This confession has the power to change much about the way you act and react toward your children. It is vital that you believe and admit that you have no power whatsoever to change your child. If any human being possessed the power to create lasting change in any other human being, again, Jesus would not have had to come! The incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus stand as clear historical evidence that human power for change does not exist.

And then shifted to talking about our inability to save ourselves from the punishment we deserve for sinning against a holy God. How only faith in Jesus Christ can bring about lasting change, in our lives, and save us.

Photo by Cristian Palmer on Unsplash

We then went over the Gospel presentation that our Children’s Director goes over with our kids. I think it’s helpful to know what our kids are going over AND the simple presentation is good for us adults.

As a class, we read through the following scriptures noted in the presentation:

  • Genesis 1:1; Revelation 4:11; Colossians 1:16-17; Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 5:8; Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18; Acts 3:19; 1 John 1:9; Romans 10:9-10, 13.

Afterwards, discussing what Tripp calls “The Three Most Often Used Tools of Parental Power”.

  1. Fear – “the power we buy into here is that we can issue a big enough threat that creates a big enough fear to change our kids.”
  2. Reward – “This may be the most popular way we fight our inability to change our children. We manipulate them to do what we want them to do by holding certain reward in front of them.”
  3. Shame – “Shame and guilt are power tools that parents use more frequently than we recognize.”

Coming to the point where we realize that we cannot bring about lasting change in others, apart from Christ, is freeing. Whether in our friendships, relationships, or parenting, Christ is the only one who can bring about lasting change. We CANNOT change anyone, no matter how hard we try.

“Good parenting lives at the intersection of a humble admission of personal powerlessness and a confident rest in the power and grace of God.”

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Top Five Things I Learned While Running A Facebook Group

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So you’ve decided to form a group on Facebook, fantastic! Facebook Groups are a great way to share a common interest with others. I should know, I successfully ran a videogame-related Facebook Group for 3 years. In that time, I learned to:

1. Promote a positive group culture by embracing a simple tagline that explains the rules – “Be excellent to one another.”

2. Recruit moderators that help shape conversations/discussions. Example: Ask followup questions and “like” responses.

KEY: Moderators are not policeman.

3. Allow conversations to run their course even if the discussion becomes uncomfortable.

4. Never threaten to ban people (see #3 above). Extend grace. If needed, talk to individuals one-on-one for clarification.

And that:

5. Growth is not measured by members added but by the conversations had.

So have fun. Ask big questions. Cultivate a group that you’d want to hang out with in real life.

In the hard moments

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My chest hurts today. I’m not sure why. All I know is that it feels like someone is sitting on me. Someone large; Someone heavy.

I read this morning that:

God is working right now, but not so much to give us predictable, comfortable, and pleasurable lives. He isn’t so much working to transform our circumstances as he is working through hard circumstances to transform you and me. Perhaps in hard moments, when we are tempted to wonder where God’s grace is, it is grace that we are getting, but not grace in the form of a soft pillow or a cool drink. Rather, in those moments, we are being blessed with the heart-transforming grace of difficulty because the God who loves us knows that this is exactly the grace that we need.

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God knows what I need. Even if it’s not the cool drink of peace that I desire.

Book Review: Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst

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Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst is a book to help you take the rejection life throws at us and give to God who is waiting for us. This is not a self help book that promises relief in three easy steps. Lysa’s points on how rejection affects life will hit home with most people. She makes the book personal, sharing feelings that are genuine and relatable.

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This book is not designed to be read in one sitting. It is designed to be read a chapter at a time so that the thoughts of the author and Biblical truths can be digested into your life. This is a book you put down to think, pray, and sometimes cry over. Yet at the same time, you’ll want to keep reading because you found the topic so engaging.

Rejection hurts and can cause thoughts to grow that are not true.

We have all been rejected at some point in our life. Rejection hurts and can cause thoughts to grow that are not true. Not only did I learn how to deal with past rejection and how to stop rejection pain from taking root. But I also learned that by extending the same love God gives to me, to others, I can help stop the cycle of rejection.

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After reading Uninvited, I have thought differently about the things that are said and done to me. I have thought about my own actions and words toward not only myself but also my friends and family. Uninvited is definitely a book I would recommend to others, be prepared with a highlighter.

God’s love isn’t based on me. It’s simply placed on me. And it’s the place from which I should live…loved.

I was given a copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own.

Best Theology Video Games Of 2015 – Destiny: Taken King

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This year, I had the chance to help the guys over at Theology Gaming with their Best Theology Video Games Of 2015 list. Had fun writing about Destiny: Taken King.

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Best Mirror Of Our Faith Journey
Destiny: Taken King

Sin. Repentance. Redemption. Destiny mirrors the faith journey of the Christian. Made in the console shooter creator’s image, this 2014 title launched with solid mechanics and an uneven tale. Broken from a story perspective, mired in sin, Destiny was yet embraced by the gaming populace.The Dark Below and House of Wolves expansions launched the game into an orbit of repentance. Redemption found in the Taken King. Sin, downfall, always but a step away. Developer Bungie continues the journey through the valleys and mountain-top experiences of game development.

Full of It

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My intestines won’t stop moving. I feel like a punching bag. The sides of my stomach hurt. I have no idea why. Living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is debilitating.

The first time IBS found me was in elementary school. I remember running around the house, clutching my stomach, screaming. My parents didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to do. A few uncomfortable medical procedures later, nothing.

High school was an IBS nightmare. The thing about IBS is that it can sneak up on you in a moments notice. Forcing you into an immediate posture of porcelain throne worship. I remember a friend telling me that it was all in my head. That I was the one causing it.

I remember a distinct feeling of wishing I could transfer my IBS to someone else. If they could only feel what my body does to me, they would know that I am more of a hostage to something far bigger.

The Apostle Paul talks about a thorn in the flesh in 2 Corinthians. I have always related to that.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

I have wondered if God gave me IBS as a way to keep me humble, focused on Him. In times of an attack, I pray for God’s strength to get through those moments.

My thorn in the flesh is not visible nor is it logical. I can’t tell when it is going to come and visit next. But I have learned to notice when my body is tightening up; I have learned that exercise helps reduce stress. God has taught me to rely on His strength when I have none. I just need to rely on Him when I am running at full capacity.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:10

Game on, dear friends. Game on.

Things I’m Learning: Social Media

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I did something stupid the other day. Radio host, author, and speaker, Dave Ramsey, had posted the following Joel Osteen quote on twitter: “God’s mercy is bigger than any mistake that you’ve made.”

Nothing wrong with the quote. God’s mercy is huge! For some reason though it bugged me that Dave Ramsey was quoting Joel Osteen.

So I replied: This is true, even if, as in Joel’s case, you are leading people to Hell.”

Yeah, I went there. I honestly believe that Joel Osteen leads people to Hell by promoting God as a genie (just pray super hard and God will give you your dreams) and by not talking about “negative” things such as sin.

I didn’t expect Dave to take the bait; I didn’t expect him to reply but had an inkling he might. Replying to me via twitter, in the face of all of his “followers”, he responded, “Struggle with Grace?”

Defensive now, I replied: “Most definitely. I also struggle with those who misrepresent the Bible.”

Dave’s disciples quickly descended upon me. Some offering support and others calling me to the mat for not being loving enough.

.: Social Media Misused :.

I want to admit, here and now, that I was wrong. Irregardless of my thoughts towards the Joel Osteen school of theology, I shouldn’t have ever responded to that original quote. I was baiting/trolling Dave Ramsey, effectively calling him a supporter of a false teacher. So Dave, if you are out there, I’m sorry. I hope you accept my apologies.

I want to intentionally reflect God in all that I do. Fighting a “twitter war” through an innocent man (Dave) is not the best way to do that. So again Dave, I’m sorry.