We've been working on this great question from Sunday:
What are we to do when we see others doing impure things? Do we speak up? As a teacher I struggle daily with this.
One of the complicating factors in the questions is that teachers are in a setting where overt conversations about faith are not always encouraged and even not permitted in some cases. So what do we do?
We can never underestimate two great powers of God: prayer and letting our life speak.
If I were a teacher, all my kids would be in my prayers all the time. Think about it, God has given you a year in the life of these kids, and I truly believe it is for more than just teaching English. It is quite possible that they have never had anyone intercede on their behalf before God. God has let you in on their lives for a purpose. Pray for them by name. Pray against their temptations. Pray for a longing for something better, for something more within them.
The second is also powerful: letting our life speak. Jesus called us the salt of the earth and the light of the world. So much of our nature as salt and light is to just be there, being a solid witness of what life in God looks like.
I do not raise either of these as a cop out to overt confrontation. We still need to have conversations about character, or lack of it. We still need to plant questions that work in their minds and hearts. Ask a lot of questions...thought-provoking questions. Mostly, we need to express loving concern for their well-being. So many of their impure decisions risk their physical, mental, emotional, moral and spiritual health, not just today, but for years to come.
I believe in appropriate, loving conversation and confrontation. But too often we act as if we do not truly believe in the deep power of the tools God has given us.
The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. 17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! 18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.
Let your lips speak to God on their behalf. Let your life speak to them on God's behalf.
Here's the question tweeted Sunday:
What are we to do when we see others doing impure things? Do we speak up? As a teacher I struggle daily with this.
We started yesterday with motive. Why do I feel compelled to speak up... to get involved? Love has got to be our driving motivation. Any lesser motive is an invitation to sit in silence until our heart is in the right place. God is actually using this as an invitation to grow Christ in us.
If the motive is pure love, then a second question must be raised: does the person claim to follow Christ?
Our response differs based on the answer.
The Bible is clear about our relationship toward fellow Christ followers. We are to live in community, calling each other to live out the high standards of devotion to Jesus. I could list many verses.
In the positive, Hebrews 10:24 says
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.
On the other hand, all of 1 Corinthians 5 helps us to discern our role when sin is the issue.
We have a responsibility to call each other toward Christ-likeness, and to call out sin. This however, does not give us license to be rude, insensitive and inappropriate. Discretion is in order. Matthew 18 lays out a process for confrontation that starts privately, one on one. Too often we talk to everyone but the person, and when we finally do, we blurt it out in a public setting. Loving kindness is the key. Again, we are motivated by love. This is not a purity witch hunt; it is an opportunity to lovingly bring a person back toward God.
As far as the person who does not claim or pretend to follow Christ, I am concerned that at times we miss the point. We try to correct behavior without getting to the root cause. God wants more than corrected behavior or proficient sin management. He wants true conversion. Cleaning up behavior simply leaves us with well-behaved pagans.
Their need is Christ!
Does this mean that there is never a place for input or correction? No. We still want the better path for this person whom we love. But we do not simply want the better path, we want the best path. Focus on the real issue; they need Jesus!
I come back to where we started. All of this is about love. Paul speaks of being compelled by Christ's love.
Below you'll find an extended passage from 2 Corinthians 5. In the NIV it is entitled, "The Ministry of Reconciliation." This is our calling, not to simply clean up the world by correcting immoral behavior, but to bring people safely home to God. When they are reconciled, the old is gone and the new can come!
2 Corinthians 5:11-21
Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Part 3 tomorrow
On Sunday morning we've added a feature--The Five Minute Follow Up. It provides an opportunity to Tweet, Text or Toss a question back to the stage about the teaching of the day.
Five minutes creates two challenges: lack of time for all the answers and lack of time to give a studied answer. Sunday we hit a third challenge...technology glitch. I missed this question in my feed, and it's a good one:
I want to answer this one with three posts.
As Christ followers, all examination starts at home, and by home I mean, within our hearts.
We have to start with some serious self reflection.
First, we need to ask ourselves the why question: Why do I want to raise this issue with the other person? Any motive less than love is a suspect motive. My desire to call another person toward righteous living must come from a deep seated love for the other person. I want to see them experience God's best. By examining my motive, I am actually allowing God to use this moment to form something good in me.
Please understand, I do not think that a loving approach guarantees that the other person will receive our words positively. A motivation of love is not about manipulating the results. It's about being like Christ in every way.
The other area of required reflection is to examine where we are personally with the issue we are about to address. I am amazed in working with broken people (and being a broken person myself) just how often we are quick to point out in another person the very sin we are carrying in our own flesh. Or maybe it is not the same sin, but pointing out their sin helps to camouflage my own.
And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 42 How can you think of saying, ‘Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
Pretty vivid illustration. Jesus knows that we are great at spotting dust in the eye of another when we have a tree growing out of our own heads.
By the way, I do not think Jesus is saying we can say nothing until we are perfect. He's talking about owning our own junk. We can actually approach another person with sincere words like, "You know, I struggle with this too" or "I'm working on this as well."
Our starting point matters. The starting point in confrontation has to be me, my heart. We need to ask, "Why am I doing this?" Do I really love this person and want God's best for them? We also need to ask, "How am I doing with this?" Is it possible that God's Spirit is giving us an opportunity to look in the mirror and see our own fault, our own sin?
We started a new feature in church a few weeks back.
Sermons are not interactive by design. A really good sermon answers some questions and raises some as well.
We wanted to provide a way to ask questions and have them answered on the spot.
Our solution? The Five Minute Follow Up
Twitter users send us questions and include #askdmp in their tweet. Through our presentation software, ProPresenter, we can project the questions on the screen.
Three challenges have surfaced:
Not everyone tweets.
For non-tweeters we offer a phone number for texts, and if over 50, we honor your advanced years by letting you toss a paper airplane to the stage.
Not enough time to answer
We're getting a healthy number of questions every Sunday, but only provide five minutes to cover them. We have more questions than we have time.
Not enough time to think
Some questions require further research, or at least more thinking time between the end of the message and the start of the Follow Up.
We plan to provide a solution to challenges #2 and #3 right here.
During the week we'll post answers to questions that we didn't address in church.
So text, tweet and toss those airplanes.
We'll get started next week.
She will be 22 all but 2 minutes of this day. Yep, she was born 2 minutes before Valentine's Day.
Hey, anyone can be born on Valentine's Day. My girl went for Friday the 13th!
So, I only get ten favorites?
I could write books about this girl. I am so in love with this kid. Have been from the first second I saw her.
She makes my heart burst!
Here we go:
10. After a very long search, we found a new favorite place this year. Mickey's Drive In. Our Dunes days always started with a trip to the A&W in Bridgman. A few years ago they sold out to Quizno's. Neh... not doing that on a Dune Day. We've been on a two-year search. This summer we discovered Mickey's. Wow! Amazing place. Nothing like sitting in the car with the tray on the window when you've done a day at the beach.
9. I love seeing the fulfillment Shellie derives from teaching and tutoring. Most of her students are down south, but she tutors a shy little girl at our house. Shell makes that girl light up! Nothing like seeing your kid live out the purpose for which God made her.
8. That voice! Every time she sings...I'm telling you, she brings me right into God's presence.
7. Sticking with the music theme, Shell gave me/us some songs we will never forget in the final leg of our journey from CJHS to our own church home! Overwhelmed, Never Once, All Things New. Now that we're in she's brought us Furious and will soon bring How Deep the Father's Love for Us and Broken Vessels. I have all of them in a playlist, playing over and over again. Thanks for keeping the playlist fresh and full of songs that keep my eyes on God and my head in the right place.
6. She's a napper. Naps are the best! I'm so glad she has an appreciation for the value of a good nap. Naps are wasted on kids. They are made for adults!
5. When I sit at my desk, I stare at a project she put together with the help of many friends for my 50th birthday. It is covered with notes and lego pieces. I read them often, and when I do, I think of her, and all the hard work she put into creating this for me. This past year I watched her spend hours on gifts for a person she did not even know...a friend of a friend. Who does that? Who puts out that kind of time and creative energy for others? True love.
4. This was the year of the building. It consumed our lives. I cannot tell you how many times this girl dropped everything to ride to the rescue of her parents. She worked tirelessly, joyfully and in a way that lifted me up and helped me to keep going.
3. The other night she wanted me to carry her to bed. I cannot remember the last time I laughed so hard! It is memory that will be burned into my mind for a long time.
2. We were hunting for a theme for the opening of the new building. When I suggested the Reclaimed idea, she jumped on it. Between the song All Things New and the Fingerprint Project she put together for Christmas Eve...it still moves me to tears. She made beautiful things happen that gave all of us memories we will cherish forever.
1. How did I get so lucky? Out of all the billions of kids being born on this planet, God placed Shellie Renee in a crib at our house. My mind is flooded with memories...
dancing around the room with a baby girl to Beauty and the Beast
listening to her sing her first solo at Eisenhower and being shocked at the voice that belted out of our shy little girl
watching her lead hundreds of kids along with her friends singing at Day Camp
enjoying her roles in musicals
seeing her grow and change before my eyes into an amazing woman
Shellie, you make my life worth living. If I existed for no other purpose, knowing you was worth it all.
With you, it was love at first sight, and the infatuation has never worn off.
It never will.
I missed a couple birthdays.
Every family birthday I do a top ten.
Brian's birthday was in December. It was the day that we got permission to move into the new building.
Kim's birthday came in January. We were still hacking through deep weeds at the time.
Tomorrow my baby girl turns 23.
The building stuff is finally settling down.
I took a day off yesterday for the first time this year...a real day off.
So, it is time to get back at it.
I miss writing.
For a person like me, writing helps sort the jumbled ideas in my head.
Someone said, "Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass over our lips and through our fingertips."
I say someone because I've seen it credited to Howard Hendricks, Chuck Swindoll and Dawson Trotman in a short Google search.
My head gets so knotted up sometimes. Writing untangles the threads.
I simplified the look of the blog. Feeling a bit minimalist these days.
Time for some rebranding. For now, I'll just go with my name.
So tomorrow, a top ten for Shellie.