The Nest Is Never Empty

This overflow Monday brings our relationships series, It’s Complicated, to a close. In this series we’ve covered 7 relational seasons: spiritual relationships, friendship, singleness, dating, marriage, parenting, and mentoring. God did some incredible things through this series, and we saw dozens surrender to Christ, many for the first time!

Catch the rest of the Overflow blog series here. Watch or listen to each of the It’s Complicated messages on the Awaken teaching archive.

This week we covered the topic of mentoring the next generation. Enjoy…


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To quote the great theologian, Lloyd Christmas (Dumb & Dumber), “Maybe they’re right. Old people, although slow and dangerous behind the wheel, can still serve a purpose!”

That backhanded compliment (if you can call it that) ended up getting him “robbed by a sweet old lady on a motorized cart!”

He was right with the “purpose” part. All of us, old or young, have a God-given purpose for our lives – regardless of the season we are in.

The final installment of It’s Complicated brought us to a season often referred to as “empty nesters.”

I don’t love that term because it seems to imply that once your kids are gone and the “nest” is empty, your job is done. Parenting complete. Investment over. Now you can go with life and go back to thinking primarily about yourself.

But that’s not Biblical. In fact, Titus 2 raises the bar for the “older” crowd. Part of the “good doctrine” Titus is instructed to teach is to command the older generation to teach and train the younger generation.

“Older” is an arbitrary term though, because technically, we’re all older than someone. Even if you’re not older in physical age, you may be further along spiritually. And again, even if not, Paul told Timothy not to let people look down on his youth, but to set an example.

Bottom line: influence is for all and for life. Your “nest” (sphere of influence) is longer than an 18-year period while children are at home, and much bigger than the four walls of your house.

Titus 2 gives what I like to think of as the step-by-step instructions for mentoring. You might call it the spiritual syllabus for a life of influence.

ACTION: Teach & Train

Investment requires both conversation (teaching) and demonstration (training). Talk plenty, but do even more.

TARGET: Younger, upcoming generations

At every age, we have the opportunity and responsibility to set the example for those who are watching. Like it or not, there are plenty of eyes on you. Let your life be their lesson.

CONTENT: Biblical & practical wisdom about relationships & life

They were instructed to teach the younger generation about marriage, parenting, life, and Godly integrity. Those topics are both Biblical and practical, and should be ongoing topics of conversation and demonstration.

PURPOSE: That the word of God may not be reviled

The whole point of any of this is to live a life that is 1) worth imitating, and 2) defensive against the enemy’s attacks. He will try hard to revile (mock, oppose) the word of God, but our lives and our investment into others can prevent it.

Influence is not just for presidents, politicians, and parents. Influence is for grandparents, middle schoolers, young married couples, my 7 year old daughter, and everyone in between. Eyes are on us, so let’s commit to speaking truth into the lives of the people around us every time we can. And beyond that, as you’re able, don’t just speak it, walk through life with them as well!

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Teachable Moments

Monday is overflow day on my blog, where I dive deeper into a topic we didn’t have time to discuss during Sunday’s message.

I’ve been posting overflow blogs each week of the It’s Complicated series, and you can read each one HERE. You can also access the teachings, social media artwork, and submit questions at awaken.church/itscomplicated.

Make sure to join us on the Awaken Facebook page this Thursday night at 6:30pm CT for a special parenting edition of our live Q&A!

Sunday’s message was on a favorite topic of mine: parenting. We discussed Psalm 127, and how children are arrows in our hands.


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Life is full of teachable moments.

Whether it’s grades on a test, bullies at school, cuss words in movies, or a baby in the womb, kids are on a constant quest for information.

Our kids are 9 (10 this weekend), 7, and 2 1/2. Haddon, our youngest, is in the “why” stage. I remember the other two doing this, but not quite to this extent. Here’s a real conversation from the other day:

H: Dad, where are we going?

Me: Chick-Fil-A.

H: Why are going there?

Me: To eat lunch!

H: Why are going to eat lunch?

Me: Because we’re hungry.

H: Why are we hungry?

Me: Because it’s been a few hours since breakfast.

H: Why?

Me: Uh… It just has. 

I know these conversations can get annoying, but I’m learning to encourage the questioning. So many of the things that are old and underwhelming to us (boring) adults are new and exciting to our kids. What we may view as a common, ordinary occurrence, could be a unique teachable moment for our kids.

Don’t despise them; seize them.

When your kids ask questions, don’t brush them off; give an answer. Even if it’s a potentially embarrassing or awkward question. I know it may feel awkward answering questions about sex or dating, but it’s only awkward if you make it awkward. If your kid brought it up, they must not think it’s too awkward to discuss…so don’t make it that way!

If we don’t guide our kids when it comes to challenging topics, our culture and their friends will. (tweet this) That’s a scary thought, isn’t it?

Whatever the situation or question is, if there’s a lesson in it, use it.

Be intentional with teachable moments.

Teachable moments were so important to God, He built them into the habits and fabric of His people. The Jews had annual feasts and festivals, daily sacrifices, altars, monuments, tithing, and so many other things designed to remind, teach and fight forgetfulness.

Before Israel could march beyond the previously flooding, miraculously dried up Jordan River, God made sure to preserve some souvenirs. He had 12 men go back into the dried up river bed, carry 12 stones out, and stack them on top of each other. Why? So they would be visual conversation starters for parents and kids in the years to come. Divinely-planned teachable moments.

Just read the Gospels and Acts, and you’ll encounter teachable moments everywhere you look: healing, shipwrecks, sick people, funerals, thieves, natural disasters…

Recent Teachable Moments in the Miller Home:

  • Some choice language we forgot about on Home Alone: we apologized to the kids first, then talked about how some people say words we shouldn’t repeat
  • A girl who was rude to one of my daughters at school: we talked about how to treat others who don’t treat us nicely
  • A temper tantrum and resulting punishment: my daughters may have appeared to be angels when they joined us on stage, but don’t be fooled!
  • Good grades and not-so-good grades: we discussed how being a good student is a way to honor God and stand out from the rest of the crowd
  • Wearing helmets while riding bikes and why they’re so important
  • Praying before school: my kids are so accustomed to praying in the school drop-off line that now it would feel odd not to – Monday-Friday, we pray with them that they would shine brightly for Jesus in their class and with their friends
  • Leadership: how other kids (and siblings) copy what our kids do, so it’s really important for them to set a good example
  • Why mommy and daddy like to kiss: that was a fun one! I think their response was, “Ewwww!”
  • Yahir Trinidad: our 6-year old Compassion International child we sponsor monthly – we discussed what Christmas is like for him in Mexico, and we pray for him throughout the week

There are many more, and inevitably some opportunities we missed as well. Don’t let life just go by – use circumstances all around you to sharpen and aim your arrows (Psalm 127:3-5)!

And for some bonus footage…

Here’s video proof that my son loves to quote Psalm 23, even though he wouldn’t say a word when we brought him on stage…

 

Defending Your Marriage

Monday is Overflow day on my blog, where I give life to some of the content we didn’t have time to cover.

This week, Jenn and I preached a message on marriage called “It Takes Three To Tango,” where we learned some practical thoughts on keeping Jesus at the center of the marriage relationship. Make sure to watch or listen to the message on the Awaken teaching archive.

You can also read the previous overflow blogs (spiritual relationships, friendship, singleness, and dating) here.

Swing by awaken.church/itscomplicated for social media art and to submit questions for Thursday’s Facebook LIVE Q&A, where Jenn & I as well as special guests, Pastor Jim and his wife, Dawn, will answer your questions about marriage!


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In this week’s message, we discussed 4 words about marriage – 2 for the girls and 2 for the guys. We also hosted a surprise vow renewal at the end of each service! It was a blast.

Although we covered a lot of practical thoughts about marriage, one thing we didn’t have time to discuss was the importance and how-to of safeguarding your marriage. Anything valuable is worth protecting, and marriage is no exception. Along those lines, here are some thoughts on how to protect your valuable investment…

Half of the battle is knowing you’re in a battle.

Spiritual battle is all around us, and especially when it comes to marriage. Since marriage is a picture of the Gospel (Ephesians 5:32), Satan hates it. A God-honoring marriage reminds him that the Gospel is still changing lives, so he’s on the prowl. Be alert. Be vigilant. And know who the real enemy is. (Hint: it’s not your spouse!)

Lovingly resolve conflict; don’t fight to win.

Conflict will happen. It’s a fact. So when it happens in marriage, make it your goal to lovingly resolve the conflict. When you make it your aim to win the argument, you automatically turn your spouse into your opponent. Remember this: in marriage, we fight together against a common enemy, not against each other. Your enemy is whatever would come between you. Fight fair. Think before you speak. And remember that you’re on the same team!

Have extra marital sex.

Not extra-marital; extra marital. That hyphen is key. Extra-marital sex (sex outside of marriage) is destructive and potentially fatal to a marriage. But according to 1 Corinthians 7, extra marital sex (extra sex with your spouse) is healthy and protective. Paul says sex in marriage should only be withheld for short time periods when you and your spouse agree on it. When that period is over, you should come together again (sexually) “so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” Extra marital sex is a spiritual safeguard for your marriage. So, lock the door and battle some demons! (tweet this)

And for those wondering how much sex is “extra,” don’t try to put a number on it, just have fun and don’t be stingy!

Protection isn’t just physical, it’s also vocal.

1 Corinthians 7:3 says we owe our spouses affection. It’s not an option to be physical and vocal with your love within marriage. It’s commanded in Scripture!

Want to divorce-proof your marriage? Stop talking about divorce! (tweet this) The looming possibility of divorce kills honesty and security in a marriage. Don’t threaten divorce, joke about it, or even bring it up. It shouldn’t be an option whatsoever.

Speaking well of each other should happen in private and in public. When you speak well of your spouse in front of others, it communicates to them that you are happily married, and becomes a safeguard against anyone who may want to prey on a suffering marriage.

Marriage takes work and a lifelong investment. Fight for it. Defend it. Cultivate it. It’s worth every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears your pour into it!

Hard Lines & Guidelines

It’s Overflow Monday – a chance to give life to some of the content that I couldn’t squeeze into Sunday’s message.

On Sunday, I taught Part 4 of our relationships series, It’s Complicated, where we are finding clarity in the complexity of relationships. This week we covered the topic of dating in a message called “Ready To Mingle.” You can watch or listen to the message on the Awaken teaching archive.

You can also read the previous overflow blogs (spiritual relationships, friendship, and singleness) here. I hope they are helpful.

Make sure to swing by awaken.church/itscomplicated for social media art and to submit questions for Thursday’s Facebook LIVE Q&A, where I’ll answer your questions on dating!

And don’t miss out on our selfie challenge this week. Details on the It’s Complicated page.


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On Sunday we learned some hard lessons about dating from a guy who did it all wrong, Samson. He crossed lines, broke rules, and lived for pleasure…then suffered major consequences. God chose Samson to be the warrior who defeated the Philistines, but he slept with them and ended up imprisoned by them.

Samson was the epitome of “eligible bachelor,” and lived his life as a single, ready to mingle. The Bible records 3 romantic relationships in his life: his fiancee, a prostitute, and a live-in girlfriend. Some hard lines and some guidelines would have done Samson a lot of good.

Let’s talk about how those will benefit you as well…

HARD LINES

Everyone in a romantic relationship needs to draw some “hard lines” – lines in the sand that you will never cross, despite the cost.

Sinful Indulgence

Anything that crosses a line of sin will come back to bite you, I promise. I speak from experience on this one. Sin is pleasurable, but its pleasure is quickly passing (Hebrews 11:25). We wouldn’t want sin if it wasn’t fun, but just because it’s fun doesn’t mean you want it.

Whether it’s sexual sin, abuse, deceit, or any other type of sinful indulgence, it’s not worth the momentary pleasure and long-lasting consequences.

Spiritual Inequality

You’re asking for trouble when you become romantically involved with someone who doesn’t believe the same as you. The Bible calls this being “unequally yoked.” Christians should learn to approach any romantic relationship with this in mind: who you’re with on earth should be someone you’ll be with in heaven. (tweet this) Approaching dating with an eternal perspective will be a game-changer and a life-saver.

GUIDELINES

In addition to “hard lines” you should never cross, every relationship will also benefit from guidelines. These are self-made boundaries you choose not cross in order to keep you and the relationship healthy and moving forward.

Let’s (not) get physical, physical…

For years, I asked the question, “How close can I get to the line without crossing it?” That questions got me in trouble. The better question is, “How far away from the line can I stay?”

Any guidelines you can establish that prevent unnecessary temptation is healthy. It may not be a command in Scripture, but if it helps keep your conscience clean and relationship pure, it’s worth living by. For Jenn and I, we established a “no kissing” rule early on. I knew personally that if I began kissing her, it could quickly lead elsewhere, and I didn’t want to go down that road.

No kissing, no being alone at home together, no sexual conversations… Be honest about yourself and your weaknesses, then establish your guidelines and stick to them.

You’ll never understand marriage until you’re married.

Many people use cohabitation (living together before marriage) as a way to give marriage a “trial run,” but it doesn’t work that way. Living together before marriage invites temptation, can ruin your witness, and can separate you from God if it leads to unrepentant sin. It’s just not worth it.

Although I can’t turn you to a verse in the Bible that says, “Thou shalt not live together before you are married,” it’s a wise guideline to live by.

– – –

I grew up near the base of the Rocky Mountains, and I was an avid snowboarder for years. The more confident I got on my board, the further I pushed the boundaries. The areas marked “no access” looked like the most fun. Thankfully I never pushed the boundaries too far that I regretted the consequences, but I wouldn’t have been the first snowboarder to do so.

Boundaries exist for our safety. God established rules and guidelines to live by to make our lives better, not worse. Trust Him. He has your best in mind.

All The Single Ladies (and Guys)

Overflow Monday is an opportunity to give life to a bunch of content I couldn’t fit into Sunday’s message. Last Sunday, during my message on singleness, my first draft of the message was almost 1,500 words, but I ended up with a little under 1,000. About 1/3 of my original content had to be cut.

This week was Part 3 of our relationships series, It’s Complicated, where we are finding clarity in the complexity of relationships. It was a message on singleness that I called “Rings Are Overrated,” as we learned that our purpose is not found in a ring box, but in a relationship with Jesus.

Make sure to catch the previous overflow blogs here, and watch or listen to the messages on the Awaken teaching archive.

Make sure to swing by awaken.church/itscomplicated for social media art and to submit questions for Thursday’s Facebook LIVE Q&A, where I’ll answer your questions on singleness!


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Historically, the church hasn’t done a great job with its approach to singleness. Sometimes we’ve ignored the topic altogether, and other times, Christians just give really bad advice, tips, and ideas to single people, as though they’re broken and need to be fixed.

Here are some thoughts for married people and single people as we rethink our approach on the topic…

FOR THE MARRIED PEOPLE

1) Stop playing matchmaker.

Constantly trying to set your single friends up with each other is insulting and not helpful.  It communicates to your single friends that you think they are broken and that romance is the remedy. Both are false assumptions.

2) Remember they are people, not just babysitters.

Your single friends may be happy to babysit for you, but they’d probably also love to go to the movie with you. They’re not just babysitters; they’re people with social lives. Involve them. Don’t assume they will feel like the third wheel. They learn from you and you learn from them.

3) Pray for them (like you would anyone in any season).

Praying for single people isn’t a pity party – it’s an act of love. Ask for guidance on how to support or encourage them, and for God’s guidance and provision for them.

4) Stop encouraging them to lower their standards.

Comments like “you’re too picky” subliminally encourage single people who desire to be married to lower their standards. Low standards is a relational epidemic in our culture. It seems that many people are playing the limbo with the relationships bar: “how low can I go?” Encourage people to RAISE the bar, not lower it!

5) Stop making assumptions about single people.

Your snide remarks or underhanded comments about their need to find someone assumes they want to. Don’t let your assumption or comments contribute to a lack of contentment in their lives. Believe it or not, married people, “Happily single” is a thing.

FOR THE UNMARRIED PEOPLE

1) Romance is not your remedy.

Take it from someone who has been happily married for 13 years, romance isn’t the perfect fairy tale that Disney and Nicholas Sparks make it out to be. Ask my wife. She got her “Prince Charming,” but it’s been far from “Happily Ever After!”

2) You don’t need a wedding ring for God to use you – just a willing heart.

A spouse is not a prerequisite to being used by God. He’ll use anyone in any season who is willing and available – wedding ring or not! In fact, according to 1 Corinthians 7, as a single person, your time is more focused to serve the Lord even better!

3) Make the most of the season you are in.

Singleness is lifelong for some and temporary for others. Every season has a reason and a unique set of lessons to learn. Don’t rush the season you’re in – embrace it. Pump the brakes, learn some lessons, and enjoy the time you have.

4) Re-gfit your gift of singleness.

That’s right: GIFT. Singleness, according to 1 Corinthians 7, is a gift. Paul describes it with the same word he uses to describe spiritual gifts (tongues, prophecy, healing, etc) in 1 Corinthians 12. That tells me that like spiritual gifts, singleness should be cultivated, explored, invested in, and re-gifted for the benefit of others and the glory of God.

5) Be careful and prayerful with relationships.

Relationships require intentionality. You’re dealing with people and potential heartbreak, if done wrong. Pray for them, pray with them, and pray for yourself. If you believe marriage is in your future, start praying now! And in the meantime, become the answer to your future spouse’s prayers.

A Peek Into Your Future

Monday is overflow day here on my blog. It’s a way to give some life to some of the content I didn’t have time to preach on Sunday!

This week was Part 2 of a relationships series we’re calling It’s Complicated, where we are finding clarity in the complexity of relationships.

Read last Monday’s Overflow blog here: When Working It Out Doesn’t Work Out.

Make sure to watch Part 1: Spiritual Relationships and Part 2: Friendship on the Awaken teaching archive.


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People spend millions of dollars on fortune-telling, psychics, and and horoscopes. But I’ve found a free, simple way to get a peek into your future:

Introduce me to your five closest friends.

Show me your five closest friends and I’ll show you your future. Who you allow to speak into your life is who you will become. (tweet this) The voices we listen closest to determine the future we will live out.

There are certain Biblical passages and phrases that we tend to associate mainly with romantic relationships. Passages like 2 Corinthians 6:14 – “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” or Proverbs 4:23 – Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

Neither of those verses are found in the context of passages about romantic relationships though. The context really is about any relationship or situation in life that involves deep influence.

Who you are friends with matters.

Admittedly, some Christians get weird about hanging out with people who are not Christians. Some even get weird about being with people from different denominations or churches. Here are a couple things to consider…

How else will they hear?

In Romans 10, Paul asks the question, “how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?” I’ve heard it said that you may be the only Bible your non-Christian friend ever reads. But the goal would be for it to not stop there. The goal through any relationship is for people to glorify God because of what He has done in you! How will anyone who needs Jesus hear about Him if we withdraw from them?

God befriended you, so…

God is our example when it comes to befriending sinful, selfish people. After all, He befriended you and I! So if we follow His example, we should love, embrace, and befriend anyone and everyone who comes our way. Accepting someone doesn’t mean you’re condoning their sin. God loves you in your sin but that doesn’t mean He wanted you to stay in your sin.

Who is under the influence?

In any relationship, it’s important to constantly be considering influence. Who is doing the influencing and who is being influenced in the relationship? Yeah, Jesus was a “friend of sinners,” but He wasn’t the one changing – the other people were! Being a “friend of sinners” isn’t a justification for you to live in sin; it’s an opportunity for you to extend the same love and kindness to others that God has extended to you.

Winsome to win some.

If you are “winsome,” it means you are “attractive or appealing in appearance or character.” Our goal is to be winsome in order to win some to Christ. (tweet this)

Overflow #1: When Working It Out Doesn’t Work Out

Mondays are OVERFLOW days on my blog. Each week there are many things I don’t have time to fit into the Sunday message, so this is the platform to bring some of those ideas to life.

Just to give you an example: for a 40-minute message, I normally teach from 4 1/2 pages of notes. This week, I cut out 3 1/2 pages of content that I wouldn’t have time to preach!

Stay tuned here on Mondays as we go deeper. Make sure to sign up with your email to get these blogs in your inbox each week!


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Today’s blog post comes from week 1 of a new series at Awaken called It’s Complicated: Clarity in the Complexity of Relationships. You can keep up with the  messages, download social artwork, and submit questions for LIVE Q&A on Facebook at awaken.church/itscomlicated. During this series, we are learning about many different seasons of life – from spiritual relationships to dating to parenting and everything in between. Some of these relationship seasons are temporary, some are lifelong, but all need the clarity that is found only through God’s Word.

20161030-title_nvWeek 1 was about spiritual relationships. The Church. Christians. We are the Holy Spirit Unity Maintenance Crew (“HSU Maintenance Crew” for short). Jesus built the Church, the Holy Spirit unites the people, so our supportive role to is maintain and fight for the unity they created.

On Sunday, we discussed how the Bible directs us with how we relate to each other and how to work out our inevitable issues. Today I want to talk about the uncomfortable other side. What happens when “work it out” doesn’t work out?

Romans 12:18 – If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

“If possible” implies that working it out isn’t always possible.

“So far as it depends on you” reminds us that all relationships are two-way streets. Reconciliation is only possible if both sides are willing.

When working it out doesn’t seem to work out, here are 2 questions to ask and 2 things to keep doing…

Question #1: Did I give it my all?

Romans 12 says to live peaceably with all so far as it depends on you. That means our conscience can only be clear if we’ve exhausted all resources for reconciliation and fought for the relationship to the end.

If you can’t answer this question affirmatively, you still have some work to do, and God still has some work to do in and through you!

Question #2: Was it a battle worth fighting? 

You’d be amazed how many people choose very petty things to fight over. Personality differences, leadership styles that don’t compromise Scripture, social justice causes, and many more…

Do you have to keep fighting or allow this issue to come in between you and them, or is it possible to drop it? I know that might mean swallowing some pride and letting it go, but it turns out your ego is not your amigo. If you can, drop it.

Action #1: Keep praying.

Even if you gave reconciliation everything you had, sometimes the other person still walks out on you. They may still give up earlier than they should. They may be able to block you on Facebook or avoid seeing you by going to a different church, but they can’t block your prayers!

Keep praying for God to reconcile. I can say with certainty that’s a prayer He wants to answer!

Action #2: Keep building bridges.

They can cut you off, but you don’t have to cut them off. You can disagree with them without being disagreeable. Despite the wounds, I would encourage you to keep building bridges. You may be surprised at how God can heal, mend, and restore relationships you thought had no hope. With God, the most hopeless situations always have hope!

Overflow #16: Becoming Bilingual

It’s Overflow Monday once again – an opportunity to go deeper with a topic from Sunday’s message. This Sunday was the final installment of our Unruined series – a study through the book of Nehemiah.

It was an incredible series – one of my all-time favorites so far at Awaken (although I think I say that after almost every series).

You can catch the other Overflow blogs HERE.

You can watch or listen to Sunday’s message, Relentless Revival, or catch the Unruined series in its entirety on the Awaken teaching archive.


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I grew up in New Mexico, so you may think I know Spanish. I took some Spanish classes in High School and I can roll my Rs pretty well, but outside of the typical Mexican food dishes, I’m not a Spanish-speaker. I am bilingual, however, or at least my second language is in the works.

Spiritually speaking, my first language is the language of the world.

My second language is the language of God’s people.

In the final chapter of Nehemiah, he deals with an unfortunate setback upon his return to Jerusalem. The walls had been rebuilt, and as he promised, Nehemiah returned to the king for a while. About a decade or so later, he heads back to Jerusalem and finds some of the same issues plaguing the Jews as before: dishonoring God’s house, not tithing, not honoring the Sabbath, and intermarrying with the surrounding pagan cultures.

One of the greatest problems they faced as a result of their involvement with the surrounding cultures was the loss of their first language, Hebrew.

There’s an important spiritual parallel for us here.

The deeper we intertwine ourselves into the culture around us, the more we will begin to lose the ability to speak the language of God’s people.

As God’s people, we speak a different language than the world.

The world speaks the language of HATE, REVENGE, and DIVISION.

God’s people speak the language of LOVE, FORGIVENESS, and UNITY.

The world says, “FIGHT OR FLIGHT.” The Church says, “UNITE & HOLD TIGHT!” (tweet this)

It takes time to learn your second language. The language of God’s people doesn’t come naturally. Hate, revenge, and division are the natural first words for anyone to learn.

Here are a couple thoughts on developing your lingual skills…

Read the right Book.

If you want to learn another culture’s language, get Rosetta Stone. If you want to learn the language of God’s people, read God’s Book, the Bible. It’s filled with all-new, heavenly perspectives on life, ways to approach situations, and verses that should fill your mind and coming overflowing from your heart.

Surround yourself with people who speak the language.

When my Brazilian brother-in-law wanted to learn English, he moved to Australia for a couple years. He immersed himself in the culture. You need to do the same. It’s a lot easier to learn the language when you’re surrounded by people who speak it. Getting around God’s people will help you learn the language of God’s people.

Practice it, even when it’s awkward and unnatural.

When someone wrongs you, your first tendency will be hate and anger, but don’t speak your native tongue. Force yourself to speak the new language of love and forgiveness you are learning. Approaching someone in order to peacefully resolve conflict will feel awkward at first, but push through the awkwardness. It feels unnatural because it is unnatural. The language of love is supernatural. Pray, then keep speaking it, not because it feels natural, but because it’s right.

You can catch the full message on the Awaken website, but here’s a teaser for you as you learn your second language…

Overflow #15: When the Bible is Boring

The weekend is over, so it’s overflow Monday. Each Monday we discuss a topic or idea I didn’t have time to talk about or explain during Sunday’s message.

You can catch the other Overflow blogs HERE.

Watch or listen to the Unruined series in the Awaken teaching archive.


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Parts of the Bible are boring.

There. I said it.

What’s up with the lists of people and places in Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Nehemiah, and other Bible books?

I don’t know anyone who really loves a good list of names or places. That’s not where you find the underlines and highlights.

You remember the Yellow Pages, right? Comedian Mitch Hedberg said the Yellow Pages are like someone printed part of the Internet and dropped it off at your door so you can throw it away. No one curls up in front of a fire with the Yellow Pages and a cup of coffee.

I don’t wake up early each morning to enjoy the next page of the Rand McNally atlas.

We prefer our reading with a plot. Or at least a point.

On Sunday at Awaken, we covered Nehemiah 11-12 in our study through the book. 83 verses in one 40-minute message. Of the 83 verses, I only read 7 of them while I preached. That’s only 8% of the text! Why leave so much out? And maybe the bigger question, if they weren’t worth preaching, are the worth reading and why are they in the Bible?

Why all the names and places?

Couldn’t they have left those out and gotten right to the action? Numbers would be a pretty cool book if it weren’t for all the numbers.

They give the Bible personality.

If your name was in the list, you wouldn’t be saying it was boring, you’d be trying to get others to read it. When the Bible was written, the lists of names and places were real and recognizable to the readers. Thousands of people could find their own names, the cities they lived in, or their ancestors on the scrolls of Scripture!

The Bible is a personal book about personal stories concerning the lives of many people. God cares about people, and loves to use ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary work. The Bible tells that story. (tweet this)

They give the Bible historicity and geographical accuracy.

If the Bible constantly said, “the Jews traveled to a few different places, and over the next hundred years, quite a few people were born, led the nation, and died,” it wouldn’t have the same power.

 

The names and places remind us these events happened to real people in real places. And the people who were living at the time of its writing could trace their ancestry through the events of Scripture. They didn’t have ancestry.com back then, after all.

What do I do when I get to a list of names?

First of all, that assumes you read your Bible regularly and thoroughly. If you don’t, you probably won’t find yourself asking this question, which is unfortunate. You’re tuning God’s voice out of your daily life and missing life-giving lessons found only in the pages of Scripture.

Skimming is allowed.

It’s ok to skim through a list of names, numbers, or places. That’s allowed. You won’t get struck with lightning or something. Skimming is better than skipping. Skipping prevents you from learning or seeing anything. Skimming allows your eyes to scan the words looking for something irregular or interesting to grab your attention.

Digging is preferred.

Have you ever dug through the genealogy of Christ in Matthew 1? Did you know it was almost unprecedented to include women in a genealogy? Considering that, it’s interesting to find five women listed in the genealogical record of the Savior of the world in Matthew 1! That should at least be a hint at the elevated role the Bible gives to women.

Look at that, we learned something from a list of names!

Speaking of the names in Jesus’ family tree in Matthew 1, do you know any of those people’s back stories? Some are obscure and almost completely unknown, but some have some pretty fascinating stories. Like Rahab, the former Canaanite prostitute, turned God-honoring-Jewish-spy-hider; Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived; Zerubbabel, the man whose name is fun to pronounce quickly, who led a remnant of Jews out of exile back to Jerusalem…just to mention a few.

Look at all we’ve learned in a period of about 60 seconds!

Dig through it, even if you don’t think you’ll dig it. You may be surprised at the gems you find.

Overflow #13: Confession: Way Better Than It Sounds

Monday is where some of the content from Sunday’s message that hit the cutting room floor last week finds new life. It’s the overflow of what I couldn’t jam into the message.

You can catch the other Overflow blogs HERE.

Watch or listen to the Unruined series in the Awaken teaching archive.


13_confession

Confession.

If you have a Catholic background, that word immediately conjures up images of priests, confessional booths, and Hail Marys.

If you don’t have a religious background, “confession” may make you think of admitting to a crime or getting caught when you weren’t as sly as you thought you were.

Whatever comes to your mind, it’s probably not a good thing…but I hope to change that.

Nehemiah 9 continues the scene from Chapter 8 as Ezra opens the scroll of the Law and begins to read. A few weeks have passed since that scene, the Jews have celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles (something that hadn’t had that level of participation in over 1,000 years), and now they’re back for more. Nehemiah 9 says they spent 1/4 of the day reading the Word and 1/4 of the day confessing their sin and praying.

HALF OF THE DAY. They spent half of the day just focusing on and responding to God’s Word. Why? Because when you read God’s Word, God’s Word reads you. (tweet this)

And why such a long, drawn out scene of confession and repentance? Let’s look at a few important thoughts about confessing our sin…

The definition of confession.

When you boil it down, confessing sin is simply agreeing with God’s opinion about your sin. (tweet this) Sin is ugly. It killed God’s Son, Jesus. God sees our every action, thought, intent, and motive, so He’s not fooled by the facade that we may fool others with.

Confession is not about informing God of something He didn’t already know. You’re freeing yourself from thinking you got away with it!

The benefits of confession.

In Sunday’s message, we covered three things confessing sin enables in our lives, but here’s a quick recap:

Confessing sin enables forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Confessing sin enables healing. James 5:16 – Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed…

Confessing sin enables mercy. Proverbs 28:13 – Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

So if you want forgiveness, healing, and mercy in your life (and I think it’s safe to say we all do), confessing your sin is the God-given channel to receive all three! It’s a package deal.

The timeline of confession.

One mark of spiritual maturity is the ever-decreasing length of time that lapses between the offense and the confession. The quicker you are to recognize and repent, the better. Quickness in confessing sin demonstrates a few things: 1) You’re in tune with the Holy Spirit when He convicts, and 2) You’re willing to respond when He prompts.

It’s always better to get it off your chest anyway. In Psalm 32, David writes about a time when he tried to hide his sin, but he couldn’t keep hiding it.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. – Psalm 32:3–4 (ESV)

Although it’s uncomfortable in the moment, I’ve grown to love the “heavy hand of the Lord” on me that prevents me from keeping quiet about my sin. God loves me too much to let me get away with my sin. God doesn’t spoil His kids. His grace doesn’t give me the license to sin – it sets me free from bondage to my sin. Freedom is found by His grace when I confess.

Confession gets a bad rap. Don’t let it. It’s a good thing, and the more you do it, the more freedom you’ll find from it, and the more you’ll grow to love it!