We can all think back to the various warnings and advice that our mothers have given to us through the years. Sit up straight, clean your plate, brush your teeth are just a few. Anita Renfroe has been involved in women’s ministry for years and speaks on the Women of Faith tour. She talks about practical matters of family and life from a Christian standpoint and has a wonderful sense of humor. I have posted a video below of an original song she wrote about the life of a mother , set to the William Tell Overture. If you are mother, you will be able to relate. If you have seen this before, I’m sure you will enjoy it again. Happy Mother’s Day.
The winner of Chip and Dan Heath’s, “Decisive” from Waterbrook Press is Sean Johnson. He will be receiving his book in the very near future. Sean please get me your address and I will get your book out to you. Thank you to everyone who stopped by to take a look and share.
10. I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, 11 who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me. 12. I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart, 13. whom I wished to keep with me, that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the gospel.
The book of Philemon is a very interesting one. In a single chapter we find a book pregnant with spiritual truth. It is a book of grace, love, forgiveness, restoration, and relationship. This book, more than any other, zeroes in on the lives of specific people and explores their relationship. Onesimus was a slave who stole from his master Philemon and fled to Rome where he come into contact with Paul. Onesimus was won to Christ under Paul’s ministry in Rome. This letter is Paul’s request for Philemon to receive Onesimus back to himself. The word Onesimus means “profitable”. Paul states that at one time, in his lost condition, Onesimus was not profitable. But now, in Christ, he is profitable. He can be, and was, useful to the kingdom. Finally, he could live up to his name.
The elements in the book of Philemon; grace, love, forgiveness, restoration, relationship mirror the elements the believer enjoys in Christ. Prior to Christ, we were unprofitable. We were not of any use to the kingdom. We were incapable in making a difference in the world for Christ. After our new birth, we become profitable. We are useful to the kingdom. We are now capable of making a difference in this sin-stained world. Philemon forgave Onesimus. Jesus has forgiven us. Onesimus was restored in the eyes of his master Philemon. Through the blood of Christ we have been restored to a right relationship with God.
What do you think our churches would look like if we stood up for other believers and affirmed the Lord’s working in their lives the way Paul did with Onesimus? What do you think our churches would look like if we were as eager and ready to forgive each other as Philemon was to forgive Onesimus? What do you think our churches would look like if we were able to be as open with each other as Paul was with Philemon? Something to think about.
It is time once again for me to take another book from my bookshelf and give it away. This week, I am giving away a copy of Chip and Dan Heath’s new book, “Decisive; How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work”. In their new book, The Heath brothers present a new and intriguing process for everyday decision-making. You can read my review of the book here. To be entered to win, you must do (2) things.
1. Follow my blog by clicking on the button at the bottom of the page. Don’t forget this step.
2. Answer the following question by leaving your answer in the comment stream.
In 20 words or less, apart from seeking guidance from the Lord, what or who influences your decisions most often?
Good luck. Deadline to enter is May 9th, 2013. I will announce the winner here on May 10th.
22 And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there,
23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.
24 But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
There are times when the Christian will ask, “What is my job as a believer?” There are a multitude of possible answers for this age old question. One answer may be that we are to become students of the Bible in order to show ourselves as approved workmen unto God. While this is important, I don’t believe this is our most important job. Another answer may be that we are to sing praises of thanks to Lord for all that He has done for us. While this is important, I don’t believe this is our most important job. Still another answer could be that we are to pursue a Christ-like character. Again, while this is important, I don’t believe this is our most important job.
As Paul prepared to leave Ephesus for Rome, he addressed the Ephesian leaders and poured his heart out to them. He told them that he had no idea what was ahead of him. The only thing he knew was that the Holy Spirit was leading and the same Holy Spirit would go before him. As a believer, there is comfort here. There is comfort in knowing that when the Lord wants us to go somewhere or do something, His guidance and provision goes ahead of you.
This is what Paul knew. Even though Paul knew that prison awaited him, he set his heading and his mind toward that of Rome, believing the Lord wanted and needed him there. In Acts 20:24, Paul answers the question, “What is my job as a believer?” v.24, ‘But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.‘ Our primary job is to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. We are to tell others how great, how wonderful, and how merciful our Savior has been to us. Paul said this was more important to him than his own life. Is it more important than our own lives?
We make hundreds of choices every day. Some of them we are fully aware of and others seem automatic in nature. Choices such as “What should I have for breakfast?” What route should I take to work?” Do these clothes match?” Should I ask my boss for a raise?” I have a job offer, should I move my family to another state?” When faced with so many possibilities, choices, and options, how can we ensure that we make the right decision? In their new book, “Decisive; How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work”, authors Chip and Dan Heath takes this question head on and provides a format for making the best possible decision from among many choices given. Most of our decisions, as the authors relate, are made out of habit, custom, and past choices. The Heath’s begin by showing the fault in the traditional decision-making process. Traditionally, people make a list of pros and cons for each decision and choosing the one with fewer cons. The flaw, as the Heath’s agree, is that this process does not take into account the many internal and external forces.
These outside forces are described by the Heath’s as villains in decision making. These four villains make up the four major parts of the book. The villains are:
1. Narrow-framing. This is the tendency to define our choices too narrowly, thus putting ourselves in a confined box from which to act.
2. Confirmation Bias. We also have the tendency to highlight and consider the information that supports the conclusion we have arrived at and discard any information that objects.
3. Short-term Emotion. Instead of thinking long-term, we allow our emotions to dictate our actions based on what does or does not feel good.
4. Overconfidence. Far too often we are certain that we know how the future will unfold and we make predictions based on this false sense of confidence.
After introducing the reader to the villains that will disrupt and handicap our decision-making process, the Heath’s offer a strategy to combat these villains. Using the acronym WRAP, they detail an effective decision-making process. The four steps are:
1. Widen Your Choices. The Heath’s recommend avoiding the narrow definition of your choice. We are to seek other options instead of being locked into just a few.
2. Reality Test Your Assumptions. The Heath’s recommend gathering information that you can trust that is both in support of and against your preferred options.
3. Attain Distance Before Deciding. The key here is to broaden your perspective and get away from the emotional element of our decision. Seek others who have made a similar decision and get their advice.
4. Prepare to be Wrong. What happens after you do your diligence in making your decision and you are wrong? Are you prepared for that scenario? Failure is a reality, even after doing all we can to prevent it. Be ready for it.
The Heath’s have written a great book. They have a keen understanding of the business world that comes through clearly. “Decisive” is well researched and written. The Heath’s use countless examples of real-life leaders of some of the major US and world companies as mini case studies on the decision-making process. I believe this gives the book the credibility it needs. The decisions of these executives demonstrate the WRAP process in detail. This book is written from the business standpoint. You will not find any prominent spiritual application. However, regardless of your profession, this generic process can be applied with success. Great book. Read it.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
It is not difficult to see political agendas at play in our world today. Each party has their own platform, or set of values and priorities they choose to filter their decisions through. Each one also has a list of actions they would like to take and reforms and programs they would like to institute. Their agenda is their mission statement. Their agendas are shaped by their personal convictions and the advancement of that agenda supersedes all else. In his new book, “The Lamb’s Agenda; Why Jesus is Calling You to a Life of Righteousness and Justice”, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez introduces the reader to a new agenda. The Lamb’s Agenda is not represented by a donkey or an elephant, rather has the cross as its motivating symbol. Rodriguez believes we are on the brink of the Third Great Awakening and that the understanding and embracement of the Lamb’s Agenda will bring it to pass. Rodriguez gives an opening definition of this new agenda, He writes, “The Agenda of the Lamb reconciles both the vertical and horizontal elements of the cross, a platform of righteousness and justice. In other words, the Christian nexus of a kingdom-culture ethos and a transformational mission directive that is not either-or but both-and.”
Rodriguez speaks of righteousness and justice throughout his book. He does so in relation to the cross of Christ. He writes, “The cross is both vertical and horizontal. Vertically, we stand connected to God, his kingdom, eternal life, spiritual truths, divine principles, and glory.” This is the righteousness element. “Horizontally, to our left and to our right, we exist surrounded by and revealed through community, relationships, family, culture, and society.” This is the justice element. Rodriguez believes that the church of today needs to learn to live in this “nexus of the cross”, that place where vertical and horizontal meet each other. He writes, “This nexus is the place where conviction marries compassion, where the fish intersect with the bread, where truth joins hands with mercy.” After making his case for why the Lamb’s agenda is worth out time and attention, Rodriguez lists the four enemies of the Lamb’s Agenda. First, Moral Relativism which is characterized by the absence of absolute truth in our world today. Second, Cultural Decadence which is characterized by the increase and approval of open public sin. Third, Spiritual Apathy which is characterized by the lack of fire and passion and consumer mentality of God’s people. Lastly, Ecclesiastical Indifference characterized by the lukewarm, disconnected, and spiritually inept church of today. About the church, Rodriguez writes, “We need a church a church committed to saving the lost and transforming our communities, addressing sin while confronting injustice. We need a church that will be pro-life and antipoverty, that will strengthen marriage and end human trafficking. A church is not an either-or proposition; it is a both-and community. It is righteousness and justice.”
Several chapters of the Lamb’s Agenda deal with the reconciliation of attitudes, actions, and leadership. Rodriguez speaks of reconciling Billy Graham and Martin Luther King, Jr. He speaks of reconciling John 3:16 and Matthew 25, melting God’s love for the world with the need to show that love to the “least of these”. He speaks of reconciling the Vertical Lamb and the Horizontal Lion. The most powerful chapter is Reconciling Imago Dei with Habitus Christus. Imago Dei speaks of the image of God that lives all human beings. Habitus Christus refers to the habits and actions of Jesus Christ. The marriage of these two perspectives will, as Rodriguez explains, will cause the church to refocus and refrain from choosing righteousness with justice and justice without righteousness. Rodriguez has written a great book. The Lamb’s Agenda is practical, convicting, challenging, and passionate. The message of this book, loving God vertically and caring for others horizontally is one that our churches need to hear today. Rodriguez has a winner here. Smart. Intuitive. Timely. In closing, Rodriguez writes, “I am convinced that God is not done with America and America is not done with God. For at the end of the day our nation will be saved not via the agenda of the Donkey or that of the Elephant. Our nation’s only hope is found in the Agenda of the Lamb.”
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”