Being Hated

Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. – 1 John 3:13 How does the thought of begin hated for following Jesus make you feel? John says not to be surprised if the world hates us. Reflecting the image of God will elicit a response from a world that does not understand and must confront their own sense of shame. It was this sort of shame that incited Cain to hate and kill his brother Abel. Looking around at the church in our culture, we do seem genuinely surprised when the world pushes back against our beliefs. One response we offer is to compromise. There are attempts to make the truth that we are immersed in more palatable. This effort to be liked and win affirmation voids the power of freedom and transformation that Christ Himself promises. There are many tough truths in the gospel, whitewashing them or saying that they don’t apply to modern culture takes away the cross that some must carry to be conformed into the image of Christ. People are being held back in captivity by compromise. Another response is to intentionally drum up hatred. As if Jesus and John saying to expect resistance means that we need to produce it ourselves. So we see a version of “in your face” Christianity that seems very far from the example that Christ demonstrated. This warning about being hated is not to be used as a way to build identity. Every effort is to be made to live in peace with everyone. Yet this goes hand in hand with holiness (Hebrews 12:14), because that...

An Idea About Evangelism Training

I went to a Friday night race in Daytona with my dad a couple weeks ago. We had a great time together experiencing the atmosphere and the sounds, smells, and power of the trucks on the track. As we entered the speedway grounds, there were three men at the entrance gate. One had a bullhorn and was reading a Bible passages about the judgment of God. The two others had signs with similar messages about perishing and hell and stood with their free arms outstretched holding tracts. While I am giving them credit for being well-meaning, there efforts were ignored by the large crowd walking past them. These men were doing evangelism. In our Christian terminology, evangelism is what you are trained for; having gone through a program, and been trained in the right steps in presenting the gospel to others. This type of training takes a variety of forms, but the commonality is that evangelism is seen as a separate discipline for the follower of Christ. Think of the fear response that is so common when people are told we are going to talk about or teach ‘evangelism’. Evangelism is presented as a discipleship elective and in practice comes off feeling forced and unnatural. What if we simply taught people to love others? That the people around them and that come into our churches are more than a statistic or a project. They are people who are struggling with their place in the world. What if we simply taught people to listen to others? Rather than giving enough attention to throw in the appropriate Bible verse, this would take compassion...

Prepare to WIN in 2017

At the end of every year, I take some time to look back at the previous year and look forward to the next. It is an exercise that is not uncommon, and I use the time to evaluate and make a plan in several areas of my life. So, in the couple weeks after Christmas and to start the new year, I spent a significant amount of time reflecting and planning. When working with coaching clients, I find that many people are attracted to the thought of doing this, but lack a framework that allows them to safely evaluate. Hence, for many, such an exercise becomes one of comparison, shame and making a commitment to try harder. What I wanted to do in this first blog of the year is give you a simple framework that you can add to or subtract from as is appropriate for the context of your life. It is a great tool to examine yourself spiritually, relationally, physically, financially, professionally, as a parent, or in numerous other areas. The acronym is simple: W. I. N. Click here to get 33 clarifying questions to help you make a discipleship plan. W is a prompt to look at what you did well in the area you are examining. Too often our tendency is to start an examination with where we fell short. My own tendency is to want to press on before celebrating what has been done. Here are a few sample questions: What did I do well in the area being examined? How have I celebrated these milestones? How will what I did well impact...

An Overlooked Discipline

During a coaching session not too long ago, I received an unusual answer to the question “what do you want to work on today?” My client had worked on several leadership and discipline challenges and chose this day to respond “Scott, I don’t have any recreation in my life. I don’t do anything for fun.” He didn’t have any play time. So that is what we worked on. When we talk about the concept of play, it tends to get relegated as something children do. But the need for play does not end with childhood. In his book Play, Stuart Brown discusses how our bodies are designed to need periods of play. Playing is a way to sustain relationships, boost creativity, and increase innovation. There is something that happens in our minds and spirits when we intentionally take time to release our grip on the urgent and productive. During his TED talk, Peter Gray reveals the correlation between the development of children (and adults) who play and levels of empathy, ability to problem solve, and increased creativity. Without playing, there is an increase in anxiety, depression, and narcissism. Setting aside time for recreation or play is related to identity. When your worth is based on outcomes or performance, it can be nearly impossible to temporarily step away from roles and responsibilities. That can be a good indicator that there is an issue – if you feel like you are too important to take some time for refreshment and to recharge. Of course there can be problems with play that need to be avoided. Play can be used as an escape...

Developing Presence

Driving on a Florida two-lane road recently, I got behind someone behaving erratically. The car was swerving from one side of the lane to the other. Not maintaining the speed limit, a line of traffic had build up behind this car. Every once in awhile there would be a tap of the brakes for no perceptible reason. At long last when I got to pass this car, the problem became apparent. The driver was on the phone, working the screen with sliding and tapping of the thumb. The driver was distracted and not fully present for the main task. When I got ahead, after I got over my sense of righteousness because my phone was on the seat next to me (comparison does that, right?), I realized, this is exactly how we treat God. All of us are distracted by the busyness and the noise of the world around us, so God rarely gets our full attention. Not developing awareness of the presence of God causes us to miss the main what is going on around us. With focus elsewhere, we are not attentive to the needs of others. With the inability to slow down, we miss opportunities to reflect the love of Jesus to others. With a drive to meet our own needs, we have an inability to be thankful. But worst of all, we miss out on knowing God and being known by Him. It takes intention to slow down our thoughts and be present before God. It takes discipline to be still and hear His small whisper. It takes desire to want to live in His truth rather than captive...

Gain Perspective. Live Well.

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