Monthly Archives: May 2010

Speaking the truth in Love

In my reading from Scripture this morning, I spent some time meditating upon Proverbs 28:23 “One who rebukes a person will later find more favor than one who flatters with his tongue (HCSB).” A few thoughts came to my mind this morning as I spent time asking God to help me understand and apply this verse.

First, I must be watching after my own heart before I should ever consider helping another with theirs. Jesus taught this in the Sermon on the Mount. “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:4-5).” Our culture teaches it is wrong to ever correct someone else, because we are not supposed to judge others, however, for followers of Jesus we have been taught by Him to first watch ourselves and then we can help others.

Second, if I am walking close to God, than my love for others (especially the family of God) should compel me to say difficult things to those we love from time to time. The key thing to remember is that our conversation should be grounded in Scripture and not preferences. We learn from Paul’s letter to Timothy that “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).” See the motivation, the other’s good and God’s glory. I am not attempting to push my preferences but God’s teaching concerning holiness.

Lastly, how I say something is as important as what I say. Scripture teaches, “But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head–Christ. From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part (Ephesians 4:15-16).” I had a good friend once tell me that this verse doesn’t say “Speak to those you love truth, but speaking the truth in love…” This helps me remember to pray before I have a conversation with someone I love about something that must be said and might hurt.

“The wounds of a friend are trustworthy, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive (Proverbs 27:6).”

Points of Application for me and you…

* Am I watching after my own heart and pursuing Christ?

* Am I praying for God to help me in my pursuit of Him, even if it means being rebuked by someone who will help me see my sin against God and help me grow in Christ-likeness?

* Am I willing to say a difficult thing to a friend, if I know they are headed for trouble, with prayerfulness and love for them and love for God as my motivation?

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Are You the One?

Watch this video put together by the North American Mission Board.

Click to Watch

Dug Down Deep

As we continue to get even closer to the end of this school year, I am excited to have the opportunity to meet with students who desire to go through our two summer books. I have already posted our first book, What is the Gospel?, by Greg  Gilbert.

Now I post the second book, Dug Down Deep. This will be a bit more of a challenge for our young folks because it is a little bigger, but well worth the hard work. I am including a website with info and a short video that helps explain the importance of such a book.

Dug Down Deep

Faith Talks and God Sightings

What do you desire for your kids? Do you desire things like good health or a good job? I think we who are parents all want these things for our kids.We desire a future for our children? We will attempt to put them in excellent rated schools or hire instructors for them. What about spiritually? We might try to find churches that keep our kids busy with activities. We, as parents, unfortunately look to the professionals to train our children even in spiritual matters.

As I have been reading through the book of Proverbs, I come across Proverbs 24:13-14,

“My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”

This is instruction from a parent to a child. It is a father instructing his son to heed the words that he teaches him. In Proverbs 22:17-18 he says, “Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge, for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips.”

All those things I mentioned before that we desire for our children can be good; however, the best is for them to treasure Christ in their hearts. God has designed parents to be the primary faith influencers in their children’s lives. The first implication is that parent’s would be treasuring the word of God in their hearts and applying it to their lives. One can only effectively teach that which is important to them. Second implication is for parents to be teaching their children. Do you take opportunities God provides to train your children? This can be accomplished in two different ways.

First, intentionally setting aside time during the week to come together as a family and read the bible, discuss, and pray together. This can be around the kitchen table or even in a park. This isn’t spontaneous but planned. We at Vann are referring to these talks as Faith Talks.

Secondly, training children can take place spontaneously. When you are at the ballpark or in the car, you can recognize the opportunity to teach them about God. One might see a beautiful sunset and explain how God created that sunset to display His power and beauty. I have had my daughter even initiate these conversations recently as she noticed her creative personality was given by God because He is a Creating God. It doesn’t get any better than to have your children initiates these! We call these talks God-Sightings.

Parents, we get the privilege to pour into our children the truths of God’s word and how they make a difference in our lives. Embrace this responsibility and don’t source it out. Yes the church comes alongside you and encourages and equips you, but you are the ones to who the children look. It’s how God set it up. It isn’t always easy, and quite frankly, we fail many times over. But each failing time is an opportunity to point to Christ and to His grace and forgiveness offered through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son.

This is God’s design for the future of those whom He has created and allowed us to treasure and train. May their righteousness exceed our own, for the glory of God and His Kingdom.

On the parenting journey,

Pastor Rodney

Sign of the Times

I hear that expression often and use it myself at times, but what does it mean? I believe we use it often to explain how we view the world around us. I hope it means I am paying attention to what is going on around me, but more importantly, do we view what is going on around us through the lens of Scripture.

As I was glancing at an article in the Evansville Courier-Press yesterday, Civic’s ‘Footloose’ Mixes Young Actors, Stage Veterans, I was struck by a particular comment.

“This is by no means an R-rated show,” Tyner hastened to add. “There’s nothing in the script these kids wouldn’t normally hear at their own high schools.”

I would encourage you to read the entire article, and I am not critiquing whether students should be involved in the play or not, but I want us to recognize how our worldview shapes everything we do and accept. The Civic’s education director and show’s director, Christopher Tyner, uses the standard of the students themselves to evaluate whether the show should be rated R. Now I haven’t taught regularly in high school for a few years, but if my memory serves me correctly, I would not base the appropriateness level of a show based on high school youth’s behavior.

I do not know Mr. Tyner and I am sure he is probably a great guy, but as a parent and a Family Life Pastor to parents and youth, I want us to be able to recognize and think through these types of issues. I want us to be reading and living life through a biblical worldview. Is this show appropriate for youth? I have never seen it, so I cannot speak to that. This I know, God sets the standard and not man. When man sets the standard we begin to see a sign of the times that looks like times past when the Scriptures say, “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25b).”

On the Journey

On the Journey! This is what we will call our group of youth who commit to be a part of our Tuesday afternoon gatherings. We will meet here at the church at 1PM. We will then load into a van and head to the Eastland Mall food court (students responsible for $). We will get some food and discuss the book and how it applies to our lives here and now, even in the mall. We will return to Vann and be ready to be picked up at 4PM.

The previous post shows you the first book, What is the Gospel?. The second book we will read and discuss together is Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris. I will highlight this book at another time. WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO BE A PART OF THIS? You need to be a youth (7th through 12th grade–or going into 7th next school year) and let me know via e-mail or text. You can even go to the calendar on our website, vannavenue.org, and click the event on June 1st. You will see my e-mail and can let me know if you plan to be a part of the Journey this summer. This is very important so I can order enough books for the group! This book is provided this time, but you must let me know as soon as possible that you intend to come.

Hoping to see you on the Journey! Click the picture above to go to youth website and see what else is going on.

What is the Gospel?

What are you looking forward to this summer? Do you have any special plans or trips? Are you looking forward to the pool or shaved ice at nights? One thing I am looking forward to this summer is attempting to get youth who are available together once a week and talk, get to know them better, and read two books. While the details are still developing, the book selection is finalized. We will be discussing the book What is the Gospel by Greg Gilbert.

Johnny Hunt has said concerning this book, “When I think of the centerpiece of my Bible, my heart immediately embraces the gospel. I know many people who love the gospel, but I’m always open to loving it more and understanding it better. Greg Gilbert has written this book to help us know and love the gospel more.”

So that shall be our goal. It is my prayer and hope that youth and myself, by reading and discussing this work, would come to love the Savior more and desire to be used by Him to spread the message that has deeply changed us.

Here is a short video by the author to help introduce this book.

Girls Gone Wise

Here is the book Pastor Eric referenced last night in his message. Here are what a few folks are saying about this book.

“A must-read for women who desire to honor God with their lives and to influence others to do the same.” —Nancy Leigh Demoss

“Mary Kassian will help you navigate the over-exposure we experience everyday to messages that call us to be anything but what God created us to be as women.” —Dannah Gresh

These are just a couple thoughts from those who are currently defending and teaching generations of women and girls what it means be a biblical woman. One particular chapter I like in the book is titled Boundaries: Her Hedges and Precautions. Her point is women (youth to adult) must safeguard herself from evil. She foresees danger and takes precaution (Prov. 22:3). Kassian then gives ten examples of how you can do this by relating them to hedges that protect you. Theses hedges are biblically formed and alltogether practical.

Are you struggling to live the type of life that honors Christ in a world that fosters a Girls Gone Wild type of life? Do you desire something better? Are you a mom of a young girl or a youth who has the privilege and opportunity to train your child what it means to live for Christ? You have this great privilege! Get the book and go through it with someone else.

I have included the links to look at the book and her website below.

Girls Gone Wise (Book)

Girls Gone Wise (Website)

Confirm or Ignore?

How many friends do you have? Could you come up with a number? Would you go to your facebook page and look for how many “friends” you have confirmed? What is a friend, and if we defined it, would there be different levels of friendship?

As we continue through the topic of friendship this month in the youth ministry, these are the types of questions we will be asking one another. We were presented with a definition last night, that if nothing else, provides us with some direction as we look to Scripture concerning friendship.

“A trustworthy peer with whom we mutually choose to lovingly “Do life together” by seeking unique access and service for God’s glory and mutual good.”

One unique quality of a friend is their willingness to lovingly help another friend recognize they might be making harmful and potentially dangerous choices.

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy (Proverbs 27:6).”

“Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel (Proverbs 27:9).”

Am I the type of friend who would be able and willing to recognize another friend making potentially harmful choices? Am I able in the sense of understanding biblically what is dangerous? Do I spend time with God guarding my own life first (Matthew 7:1-5)? Am I willing? Do I have the courage to speak to a friend lovingly about sin?

Those wounds that are referenced in the first part of Proverbs 27:6 are wounds that bring healing and not harm.

If we do categorize friendship (friends, good friends, close friends, best friends), then what is it that separates the categories?

Well, that’s why we have the whole month to look to Scripture and seek the wisdom from God first, as well as one another.

Your friend (maybe),

Rodney

Updates

I just wanted to mention a couple updates that could be overlooked if I don’t draw your attention to them. First, let me say I am greatly encouraged by the activity I notice this blog gets. Now I don’t know specifically who is coming to this sight, for all I know it may be my mom so as to encourage me (Hi Mom if you’re reading this!). None the less, someone is coming here to check out what I am putting up here. I do not want to seem arrogant what so ever, but recognize that I have the opportunity through this type of media to speak and provide encouragement and teaching to those whom use it. That being said let’s get to the reason for this post.

#1 I have updated my ability to upload audio on this site and have done so on the new tab at the top titled Message for Parents on Friendship.  I listened to this teaching and found it very helpful, as I assume you will as well, with our topic this month in the youth ministry on friendship.

#2 I have added a new resource area on the far right column called Audio/Visual Teachings. I will periodically update this area with sermons and such that will help all within the family. My first is a link to the ministry of Alistair Begg called Truth for Life. This particular series I reference is one on the family and I believe beneficial to you and worthy of your time.

I am so thankful to our great God and Savior in allowing me to serve Him and you with the blessing of being Family Life Pastor.