Proverbs 16:4
“Commit your works to the Lord,
And your thoughts will be established.”

This verse struck a chord with me Sunday. Lately (and throughout my life), I have asked God to reveal to me what I should be doing, or to give me ideas on how I can serve Him. A lot of times I feel lost on how I can use my abilities in ways to support projects that I care about.

If I were being completely honest, there are already opportunities for me to use my abilities to serve Jesus, but they just aren’t the opportunities that I want to take part in. Whether it’s pride, fright, or plain ole laziness, I let these chances go, all the while wondering why God isn’t revealing how I can serve Him in what I’m passionate about.

This brings to mind the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). The King gives his servants an amount of money to use based on their abilities. Two of the servants used the money wisely and were rewarded. The King says to each, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.” Unfortunately, I’m more like the third servant who squanders his chance, and the truth of this parable is that I am losing other opportunities to serve, maybe even in the projects that I care about.

God wants our commitment, not just our ideas. Without action, ideas tend to puff up and make us feel good about ourselves, like we are doing something, when we’re not doing anything at all. While our intentions may be good, God isn’t going to reward us with ideas on how to serve Him in big ways if we aren’t being faithful in the tasks He’s already given us. We’ve got the cart before the horse so to speak. God, though, has promised that if we commit our works to Him, He will establish our thoughts. He rewards our faithfulness and will establish our plans in ways we could never have imagined.

There’s a scripture that’s been circling in my head lately. I can’t seem to get away from it because I see it’s implications almost every time I turn around.

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. – 1 Peter 2:15-16

Too many times we want to silence opposition by winning an argument. We want to prove why we’re right as Christians and they’re wrong. The truth is, once the argument has begun, we’ve already lost.

Jesus said that others would know that we are His disciples by our love (John 13:35), not by our ability to win an argument. Sadly, the urge to win has more to do with our self-righteous desire to be right than furthering the cause of Christ into a dying world. Jesus wants us to share His love with others to save those that are lost. That is the arena we should be fighting in.

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A close up of one of our crepe myrtles.

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It was a typically hot day when I was jogging yesterday. Near the end, a cool breeze had me praising and thanking God. Oddly enough I continued to praise Him for the sun whose heat continued to press upon me. Even though it was unbearably hot to me, I thought about how essential the heat and light were for the grass, trees, and other plants to grow.

Similarly for a Christian to grow, we must remain in Christ’s light. As we stand in the light of His word and presence our faith and capacity to love becomes stronger. Sometimes His light is uncomfortably intense as it reveals sin and weakness in us. We may even want to run from the light only to find that we can’t grow apart from it. But, if you are willing to stay in His light, He will send the clouds of His grace and mercy and the rains of His love and joy to refresh you more than you could ever find apart from Him.

“In the light of the king’s face is life,
And his favor is like a cloud of the latter rain.” Proverbs 16:15 (New King James Version)

“The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

If art can inspire acts of good, it can also inspire evil and violence. To assume otherwise is both illogical and irresponsible.

There is no Social Gospel, Conservative Gospel, or any other Gospel as defined by society. There is only Christ. To supplement the message of Jesus with any other is to promote the latter at the expense of the former.

The influence on a Christian’s life should flow in one direction – from Christ into the Christian’s life then into the world through all aspects of that Christian’s life. Unfortunately that life is often porous in both directions. Christ’s influence becomes muddled with the world’s. The Christian’s life then begins to send a mixed and muddied message to the world that reflects less of Christ’s influence.

I’ve seen this to be especially true when it comes to politics. Political ideologies become the primary influence while Christ and the gospel is used to support that ideology regardless of political affiliation. While this may offend some, politics has no place in the church. The body of Christ should be united under His banner and not divided along party lines. Furthermore, a Christian, especially a pastor, shouldn’t call for prayer for a politician in one breath and demean him in another. The church in America for far too long has been focused on winning political goals instead of having a single minded vision for the cause of Christ. We must lay down our political swords and pick up His Cross. That is the only message we should be carrying into the world.

Do not worry about tomorrow lest you miss the adventure that is today.

What I’m about to say may strike a nerve with some, but I feel that I need to say it.

Recently, the Internet has exploded with “news” of Joseph Kony. If you don’t know, Kony is a tyrannical military leader from Uganda who has enslaved thousands of children to be used in a child army and as sex slaves. He has committed numerous atrocities, and although his power has diminished greatly, he is still at large.

For years, the charity Invisible Children (IC) has been drawing attention to Kony and the situation in Uganda. “Kony2012” is their latest effort. I don’t have an issue with the publicity that the situation is receiving; however, there are some questions that have been raised about the IC charity itself. Take this BBC article for example:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17295078

It’s alleged that most of the money received by the charity goes into publicity and self-perpetuation and that only a small amount actually goes to help the people in Uganda. They support the Uganda military despite that the military is guilty of committing some of the same atrocities as Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army. They are also accused of manipulating the current situation in Uganda by using older footage that does not reflect what is happening now.

I definitely don’t want to discourage anyone from getting involved, but we all need to be wise about how we go about it instead of just jumping on the latest band wagon. Here are some of my suggestions:

Learn all you can about the current situation in Uganda.

Pray that Kony would be brought to justice with no more bloodshed, that the hearts and minds of leaders will be opened to the atrocities that are still being committed by others, and that the love and peace of Christ would work inside each life through the ministries that are there.

Research charities that are working in Uganda that wisely use their money to minister to physical and spiritual needs.

Call your Representative and Senators to inform them and find out what more can be done to influence the situation.

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