Ipad People

Most of us are I-pad people. Even many of us who don’t own these devices. They were among the most popular Christmas gifts of 2011, along with Kindles, and smart phones and game playing devices. These things have something in common. Think about it.
While you are thinking about that answer this question: What do you do for fun? Most will say: Watch tv. Go to a movie. Go out to eat. Watch a sporting event.
All of these things have something in common as well. It’s what makes us a generation of what I call I-pad people. Here’s the common thread: We are observers and absorbers. That’s what the popular gifts and popular activities have in common. They are all designed for passive activity. We take in information. We read. We watch. We listen. Sure you can put stuff out there on these devices. But what do you really do most of the time. If you’re honest you’ll say: Check my email. Check my Facebook page. Watch a video. Read a book. Play a game. 
These tendencies are true of younger folks with jobs. When they come home at night, they believe they deserve to sit back and just vegetate. As we get older, it gets worse. We feel like we have done our part. We’ve had our productive years. We are ready to sit back and watch the world go by. We’ve earned the right.
It’s kind of hard to be salt and light if we are not accustomed to activities that will change anything. The way we look at life may be our biggest obstacle to being salt and light. It’s not that we don’t want to have a better world around us. It’s not that we agree with the attitudes that are displayed by all that we are observing. It’s just that we have lost our ability to do things that make a difference. 
Consider our church life. We read scripture (hopefully). We listen to sermons. We sit in church. Maybe we write a check or sing along with the worship songs; but we don’t actually get out there and DO anything. Our pews are very bright and very salty.
Come on folks. You can be Salt and Light. You have Jesus inside. You just need to let Him out. Let Him be seen, by what you Do. More precisely, by what He does through you.
You can do active things on an Ipad or computer. I’m writing this on one now. You can put yourself out there so your light can be seen and your salt can be tasted; but it’s going to take a big change in attitude for most of us. 
Tomorrow is the start of a New Year. Is it the beginning of a newer and brighter and saltier you?
Stop just observing and start making a difference.
And be greatly blessed.
Nick

Being salt and light

Yesterday when discussing making 2012 better than 2011, we decided that one way we need to do that is by changing our world. We do that by being salt and light. Here is some more thoughts on just how do we do that.  These thoughts are borrowed from the Teal Trust. Tomorrow we will look at an example of someone who is living as Salt and Light. 

Being Salt and Light in the world.

Salt and Light : Easy Printing Version


There are two broad approaches to seeking to shape values in society. At times the Christian community may feel it needs to confront a particular value, decision or priority adopted by the community.  But the Christian community is also able to influence values day in, day out through bringing a distinctively Christian approach to the people we come across as we go about our daily lives. This is what we mean by being “salt and light” in the world (Mt 5:13,14), where by living distinctively Christian lifestyles we seek to influence those around us, and through this the values, decisions and priorities adopted by our communities.    
Pause for Thought :  Start off by thinking for a moment where your influencing opportunities are.  There will be many more than you may at first realise.  Jot down a list of the times and places where you come into contact with other people.
Next think about some unrealised opportunities – chances that you have to come into contact with others within the community that would be relatively simple to do. 
Thirdly, go back through this list and reflect for a moment on which offer the greatest opportunity to influence others : where there is a chance for dialogue, where community decisions are taken, where it’s possible to spend time with people who can influence your community.

Jesus challenges us to be salt and light – to influence the world, and to be seen to be doing so.  You might like to spend some time reflecting on this passage :

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.  “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Mt 5:13-16

1. You are the salt of the earth. ·By beginning with You, Jesus emphasises to the disciples that they have both the calling and the responsibility to be influencers in the world.   Salt is a number of effects : 
salt and lightas a seasoning agent, it improves the taste of the food that it comes into contact with, and so as we come into contact with society our Christian values should improve the nature of that society.
salt and lightsalt makes people thirsty – and as Christians we seek to create a thirst in people’s lives that can only be satisfied by Jesus, who said : “if anyone is thirsty, let him come to me  me and drink” (Jn 7:37
salt and lightSalt is used to thaw ice on roads : so it can have the effect of warming hearts that have hardened against the gospel – over time the saltiness of Christians can bring people to know Jesus Christ. 
salt and lightas a preservative, salt gives food an improved length of life. Ultimately, with enough salt, those who do know Jesus, and acknowledge Him as Lord and Saviour will have eternal life.

2. Salt which loses its saltiness is useless. · Jesus’ teaching is challenging.  There is little room for those who are Christians, but who have lost their saltiness, or their “edge”.  Without the testimony of lives lived out with integrity and consistency with the principles that Christians claim to follow, the testimony of our lips is useless.  But be clear : this does not require us to be perfect : knowing our sinfulness, and knowing our need to confess it and be cleansed of it is a vital part of the Christian gospel. Then, as v16 says, “let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

3. You are like light for the world. · Light shines on dark things and exposes what is there. This is a call to the church to challenge evil within our society, however uncomfortable this may be. Having humility and servanthood within our character does not make us toothless and wishy-washy.  The light that we bring, is not our own light – it is not who we are in ourselves, but rather the light of God shining through our lives as the Holy Spirit works through them. This doesn’t mean that we have to refer to God in every other sentence, but when the opportunity arises, we can share with another person the light that God has given us. 

4. Don’t hide your light. · We hide our light when we stay silent in the face of discussion which is contrary to that which we believe. We hide our light when we fail to accept and conform with behaviours that are not in line with Jesus’ teaching. We hide our light when we don’t care for the needs of others, and walk by on the other side : since we have missed an opportunity to let the light of Jesus’ compassion shine out in acts of kindness.  If we let the light of the Holy Spirit at work in us shine through, then we bring glory to God, and there can be no greater joy than being able to give glory to the Father as we go through our daily lives. 

Pause for Thought :  After reflecting on this passage, revisit your list, and spend some time in prayer asking God to show you opportunities where you can be salt and light as you live out your life.  Pray not only that you might have insight now, but also that you would become better at spotting the opportunities to be salt and light as they arise.

Infiltrate in 2012

Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor.
Ephesians 4:25

Back in 1940, only 20 percent of college students admitted to cheating. Today, that number has increased to 75%-98%. Worse yet, two-thirds of parents think cheating is no big deal and that all students do it, according to statistics from National Public Radio. What has happened to integrity?

If 2012 is going to be better than 2011 there will have to be more integrity in our world and we will have to provide it.  We face a constant struggle being in the world but not being overwhelmed by it. For most of us I think we need to be in it more. We are comfortable surrounding ourselves with Christians, trying to create a Christian environment in which to live our lives. But we need to be bolder and more fearless and begin to operate more out there where the battle is. 

Christians sometimes treat unbelievers as untouchables. They appear as though they are avoiding all contact with them. I can understand not wanting to be influenced in a bad way. But how about influencing others in a good way?

Jesus said that as Christians, we are to be salt and light. In Jesus’ day, salt was used as a preservative. It was rubbed into meat to stop the rotting process. So, as salt in a culture, Christians are to stop the spread of corruption. But another thing salt does is stimulate thirst. So we are to stop the spread of corruption and stimulate a thirst for God in others.

In addition to being salt, Christians are to be light, which means that we are to proclaim the gospel and do good works. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

God has planted us as believers in this world. He has put His people in the culture to influence it, to make a difference. God is not calling us as believers to isolate, but to infiltrate.

Infiltrate in 2012. You’ve been blessed to be a blessing. 

Nick

Peace in 2012

27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troublednor let it be fearful. John 14

I have been considering making 2012 better than 2011. Yesterday  I looked at making sure I have a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy in my life. Today, I focus on making His peace the theme of my life. 

Jesus talked more about peace and the absence of fear than anything else. He spoke the above words hours before His crucifixion. If our lives are going to mean anything, if we are going to accomplish anything for Christ, we are going to have to get past fear and on to peace. 

If I can make certain truths real in my life, I can have that peace. 

  • God is in control of everything. Without this assurance, the world is a scary place. Everything seems so chaotic, only because we forget He’s in control.  Relax. He’s got this. 
  • He loves me and will see me through every circumstance, no matter how difficult or painful it may be. Most of our misery comes from believing we are not loved and the crazy things we do to get that love.  Forget it.  The God of the universe loves you.  What more do you need?
  • To have Christ’s peace, I must surrender my life to Him. When I hold onto my ways and plans, I’ll experience turmoil. He’s in control. Why do I think I can do a better job of running things. In the words of Dr.Phil, “How’s that working out for you?”
  • I have a limited perspective and understanding of my circumstances and God’s purposes for allowing them. His goals for me are greater than my immediate comfort. Stop thinking that today’s problem is there to ruin your life; just accept it’s there to improve your character. 
  • I must live in sync with God, walking in the Spirit and promptly confessing and repenting of sin. Life is not a rocket to perfection. It’s made up of daily falls and a string of second chances. There is no shame in admitting failure. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Just another chance to get it right. 
  • Scripture is my foundation for peace. It increases my trust in the Lord’s goodness, assures me that He keeps His promises, and reminds me of His sovereignty over every situation. Make a plan to get some scripture in your head each day. Find a daily scripture reading plan that works for you and get into it. 
On this last point, I have become impressed with the teaching of David Jeremiah. I get his daily devotional by email. It includes a scripture reading for each day. It’s my plan for 2012. You can sign up for it at DavidJeremiah.org.  There are lots of other options as well. Before Sunday, New Years Day, find one and commit to a daily scripture reading. 
It’s a positive step to Peace in 2012. 
Nick

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As we approach the new year, we review the past and plan for a better future.   Let’s consider our relationships.  One of the legacies of the Promise Keeper movement is the concept that we should all have a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy. Paul was a missionary to many regions of Greece, and eventually to Rome. Barnabas, which means “Son of Encouragement” was one of his partners in the missionary work. 


 Paul also trained Timothy to take over from him.  Paul was Timothy’s mentor. 

In order to live an effective life, we need to learn from someone wiser than we are, have one or more friends who can encourage and work with us, and to pass on our wisdom to someone else who can continue our life’s work long after we’re gone. So who’s your Paul, your Barnabas, your Timothy? Before this year ends, identify these key folks in your life and commit to developing those relationships in 2012. These things don’t happen by accident. Be intentional and be blessed. 

Nick 

Relax, it’s a gift.

It was a good Christmas. Lots of family time, good food and fellowship, memorable moments, and some fun gifts. We ended the day around a fire with good conversation and some expressions of exhaustion, even a couple saying  “glad it’s over.” That’s kind of sad. 
It seems to me we approach Christmas much as we do Christ. We can’t seem to accept either as a free gift. We have to make both a project. For Christmas, it’s like we are trying to recreate some ancient memory from our youth, or a scene from a favorite Christmas movie, maybe a picture from a magazine or a recipe from the Food Network. We exhaust ourselves for something that just needs to be treated for what it is, a free gift. 
We do the same with Jesus. With our universal type A personalities, we believe that it is all about us and what we do. We make salvation into a project. And, like our Christmas fantasy, we doom ourselves to failure. 
Next year we have another chance to just relax and enjoy the free gift of Christmas. With Christ, we don’t have to wait a year. We can decide today to accept Him as a gift and go about joyfully sharing Him with everyone we know. Or we can keep Him as a project. 
It’s up to us. 
Take the gift, be thankful, relax and be blessed. 
Nick

Split Christmas

A couple of days ago I brought tears to many of my family by considering how our parents got Christmas right. Our family gathered last night. A good time was had and I got another opportunity to consider my parents. I was unhappy in my failure to nail down how they were able to get Christmas right. 
So there is no confusion, although I grew up in the 50s, my family wasn’t Father Knows Best, or Leave It To Beaver, or even The Waltons.  My parents were real people with faults and “issues.” They were sinners, if you will.  We had many of the problems that haunt modern families. After much thought I realize that the difference was that my parents stayed together. Through poverty and drug addiction and even crime, I don’t remember one time thinking my parents might separate. It was beyond the realm of possibility. Through all that happened to us, and much did, that truth produced a stable and assured generation. 
Split Christmas was unknown to us. Today too many kids will spend Christmas in two different places. Because of divorce, or no marriage, their parents don’t live together. Christmas Eve isn’t the time to lecture anyone about their life choices. But sadly, it is the time to weep for and to pray for kids whose Christmas is split. It’s not natural.  It’s not the way things are suppose to be. I fear we will pay a dear price for it in the years  ahead. 
Jesus loves the little children. I can’t help but think he weeps. We can’t change what already is, but can’t we pray for a return to some of the old ways real soon? Rene and Mary Lou, your staying together makes forgiving what you got wrong really easy. I pray we will learn how you did that before it’s too late. 
Jesus, be with all the little children no matter where they celebrate your birth. 
Nick

What’s the Big Deal about Christmas?

Christmas is a big deal. It is strange how big a deal we make of it. Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead, but that was years later.  At his birth, he just lies there, doing nothing. He is a baby. That’s the big deal.  Jesus did it all during His life. He saved us. But in this season, we don’t even get to that, the marvel of all He did.  We stop and marvel at who He is. 

And He is the eternal Son of God, who took on our human nature in order to save us.  “Come, let us adore him.” “What child is this?” All we can do is kneel in awe, then celebrate, gather with loved ones, and exchange gifts and gratefulness.

We will have plenty of time to marvel at what He did.  For now, let’s just marvel at who He is.  That’s a really big deal. 

Have a blessed Christmas. 

Nick