I have embedded a video below that has greatly convicted me. It is about 9 minutes long and includes an excerpt from a sermon by Allistair Begg. Begg’s incredible accent alone offers reason enough to watch all 9 minutes, not to mention the great beat in the background; but, it will be well worth your time for a number of reasons if you click play.
Before you watch it, though, please consider some of my thoughts…
I would consider myself a fairly political person. Most of the time you will find my radio dial in my car set to talk radio! I know, I’m boring. I enjoy political banter more than most, probably, and am generally interested in the happenings of the day. I consider myself a strong conservative, as well as someone who very much loves his country. Why am I telling you this? Because, as you watch the video below, you will understand my struggle with it. Although I did struggle, I would consider it a very good struggle. I am posting the video because I believe that many people like me need to experience this struggle. I will also say that the conviction I experienced far outweighed any struggle I had.
All I would ask is that you would watch the video and listen to Begg’s words with an open heart and see if you do not experience some of the same conviction. Struggle with his words, but in an introspective way. Allow the questions he raises to penetrate your own heart and life. Ask yourself, “How do I wage war in this culture?” Perhaps you will discover that your waging looks more like the world and less like the Scriptures. I know that has been true for me as I listened and evaluated.
One last observation before you watch. I do NOT believe that Begg advocates for a complete removal of the Christian from all things political. I have never heard his stance on that, but that is my conclusion gleaned from this 9 minute clip. In fact, at one point, he even suggests that ‘becoming an activist’ is ok. I do think he challenges the way we would seek to *ultimately* view our culture, fight to transform our culture, and set our ultimate hope. I would LOVE to both see and engage in some further dialogue concerning the thoughts presented here. So, please comment below and share your reaction and let’s chat about this most important topic together!
Awareness has been raised. The hashtag campaign is in full force. Celebrities and stars have enlisted in the fight. Bullying, in many ways, has become one of the key issues of our day. And for good reason. Bullying poses a real threat to young people all across our country. It has brought about trauma and tragedy. It is an issue that really must be addressed. However, can the pandemic of bullying be solved through celebrity shout outs and hashtags? Although all these things might raise awareness, the ultimate answer to this question is ‘no.’ The primary reason for this is that the anti-bullying message becomes convoluted and confusing when it comes from a culture of bullying. Consider the following. Continue reading
As pastor of discipleship at Westwood, I have been struggling with something for some time now. I believe our Life Groups are vital to the health and growth of our church Body. I have heard many testimonies about how they have strengthened individual believers. My family has benefited from taking part in our own Life Group. I know that most people at Westwood know just how important Life Groups are in my view. However, I want to make something clear. Life Groups are not and can not become the end for Spiritual Growth and discipleship. Let me explain what I mean.
Although we focus on three very important values within our Life Groups–those being discipleship, ministry and mission–we simply cannot pursue all areas of discipleship within that one small group program. Life Groups are wonderful for connecting families together, reflecting and applying what has been taught from the pulpit, intentionally ministering to each other’s needs, encouraging each other in the area of personal evangelism/mission, and occasionally going on mission together. But there is so much more to discipleship! I know of the frustration of some that would like to go deeper, more intimate, in Life Groups, but are hindered by the fact that our groups are ‘open’ and ‘multiplying.’ Well, let me clarify my answer to that frustration.
Life Groups are not designed for that level of intimacy. Continue reading
A couple of days ago, as is often the case, I found myself having to delete some stuff off of my iPhone in order to make room for a new update. If you have an iPhone, surely you can understand that process! First, you open the ‘usage’ part of the settings to see if there are any space-hogging apps that you can part with. Second, you go ahead and start hacking away at all of the temporary stuff, like photos and videos. One thing that I have found out about myself is that I am a picture hoarder. I hate deleting photos…especially ones of my kids! But, you gotta do what you gotta do, so you spend what feels like an eternity scrolling and checking pictures that can go. The worst part about this process is that with each rep it seems like you delete almost everything on your phone only to find out you have only freed like .02 mb of space!! This leads to yet another round of space clearing. I hate this process.
Anyway, as I scrolled through my pictures, painfully checking the ones to delete, I came across a video I had made at the beginning of the year. This particular video included pictures that I had uploaded to Instagram throughout the year. In 30 seconds that video quickly navigated through my year via Instagram. After leaving that box unchecked and completing my current rep of deletes, I went back and re-watched the video for the first time since uploading it in January. I especially loved watching my children grow through the pictures and reliving special moments that had occurred during the months of 2013. I also realized just how much of those neat events that I had almost completely forgotten. I became thankful for the opportunity to remember and relish once again in those memories.
A thought struck me as I watched the video through for the third time. If I were to make a spiritual recap video for 2013, what would that look like? What kind of snapshots would be included in that 30 second video? I became convicted on a number of levels as I pondered this thought. Continue reading
In his sermon this past Sunday our Pastor, Gerald, spoke of one of the deepest reasons that we fail to share the gospel with others. He said that perhaps we have just come to believe that some people are simply too far gone. He reminded us that salvation is a supernatural work of God that can open the eyes of any person, no matter how heinous, apathetic or hateful we believe them to be. As he proclaimed this truth, a powerful portion of Les Miserable came into my mind. It includes a soliloquy by Jean Valjean just after he has been shown incredible mercy and grace by a priest who took him in. I was reminded of just how powerful demonstrations of grace can be in a rebellious life. As I went back and watched that clip, especially ValJean’s struggle with the grace he had been shown, I was reminded that often God uses such demonstrations of grace through us to bring lost people to repentance and draw them to himself. Instead of being pessimistic toward the lost state of others, may we be conduits of God’s grace, trusting him to draw even those whom we deem to be the most radically lost sinners to himself!
Here are the lyrics, as well as Hugh Jackman’s performance from the 2012 film, which I believe to be his most powerful of the whole movie. Continue reading
One of the most well known declarations of the Apostle Paul can be found in Philippians 1:21. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Upon reading these words Paul offers his readers an opportunity to see his great internal struggle as he nears the end of his life. Although the work brings him great joy as he writes to what he considers to be the greatest fruit of his labor for the gospel, his body is worn and broken from the persecution and suffering for its sake. He knows that both avenues mentioned will bring glory to his Savior, as he has just stated in the previous verse, but if the choice were left to him, he cannot be sure which he would ultimately choose. The one thing he does, he continues to rest in the sovereignty of God, knowing that each breath provides him more time to complete ‘fruitful labor’ (v. 22).
As I read these words once again, I am struck that not only do these words paint a picture of this anguish that exists in Paul’s heart, but it also powerfully illustrates two great realities of the gospel. For us, especially as American believers, it is nearly impossible to identify with Paul’s distress. Most of us will never come close to experiencing that type of suffering for the sake of the gospel. However, this declaration, because of the two gospel realities it conveys, should be the same cry of every believer’s heart! So what are those two realities? Continue reading
As in all of his letters, Paul begins his message to the Philippian church by giving thanks for them and offering prayer for them. Verses 3-5 read, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”
I began a new study with our students this past week working through this beautiful letter. As I read these initial words for what seems to be the thousandth time, I attempted to look past my own familiarity with these words and really seek to feel the emotions Paul expressed in writing to his brothers and sisters. His love for this church is obvious through his thanksgiving, his prayer, his transparency, and his encouragement.
Paul continues in verse 6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” As I sought to feel what Paul expressed to his brothers and sisters in Philippi, I became quite convicted when reading this verse. As I have had time to reflect on it, here are some thoughts that have captivated my mind. Continue reading