O merciful God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou has made, nor desirest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live; Have mercy upon all who know thee not as thou art revealed in the Gospel of thy Son. Take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy fold, that they may be made one flock under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
O most merciful Saviour, who willest that all men should be saved; be present with those who are gone forth in thy Name to preach the Gospel in distant lands, especially Southside UMC’s mission team to Guatemala. Be with them in all perils, in sickness and distress, in weariness, in disappointment. Give them sure confidence in thee. Pour out upon them abundantly thy Holy Spirit, and prosper mightily the work of their hands; send unto them faithful and true fellow-laborers. Give them a rich increase there, and grant that hereafter they may dwell with thee in the heavenly places, world without end. Amen.
Taken from The Pastor’s Prayerbook, edited by Robert Rodenmayer, 1960
My favorite room to investigate when I visit someone’s home is their library and/or study (provided I’m allowed to do so without being too nosey). I find that such a room says much about a person. My little makeshift study in my home is my favorite room in the house (though it is often hijacked and turned into the laundry room or the Food Network viewing room). Yesterday I wrote about John Baillie’s study. What an amazing place of peace, intimacy with God, study, fellowship and ministry it must have been.
The good folks at The Art of Manliness have put together an impressive list of The Libraries, Studies, and Writing Rooms of 15 Famous Men that you really should take a look at.
And while you’re coveting your neighbor’s library and study, take a look at this list of 14 Famous “Man Rooms,” also put together by The Art of Manliness. And now, if you will please excuse me, I must go and wipe the drool off my keyboard.
Here’s to dreaming dreams and reading good books.
Grace and Truth,
I could have entitled this post, “Conservatives and Social Justice,” because my point would have been the same. Very often, folks on opposite sides of the political or theological fence talk past each other. This often happens because they are using different vocabulary and/or approaching issues from different perspectives. But, as is sometimes (not always) the case, when you dig beneath the surface, you discover their concerns are the same.
This is true on an issue such as social justice. For most of Christian history, Christians of all stripes have been caring for the dying, rescuing the neglected, setting up orphanages, raising money for the poor, visiting those in prison, etc. In other words, Christians were declaring, as well as living out, the implications of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all its fullness.
This post is not an historical reconnaissance, but I think it was somewhere in the early 20th century when both the fundamentalist/modernist controversy and the social gospel movement began to gain traction. Folks who were described (by themselves or others) as “liberal” began highlighting, almost exclusively, the social ramifications of the Gospel. By “social” I mean the “this-worldly, here-and-now, physical needs” of the last, least, and lost. Of course, as a United Methodist, I would want to point to John Wesley who was ministering to those folks long before then. And, as a Christian in general, I could point to almost any century since Christ where Christians were caring for the poor, oppressed and downtrodden. The social gospelers’ concerns were not new. Their virtually exclusive "physical and temporal" emphasis (to the neglect of the spiritual and eternal) was new.
Toward the latter 20th century it became common to frame the argument thusly: Evangelicals or Conservatives care only about salvation of souls and the world hereafter. Liberals or Progressives care only about issues here and now, such as social justice. And, in truth, some Evangelicals and Conservatives brought that caricature upon themselves.
Whatever the perception and however it came to be, it’s still too often assumed to be the case. In reality, Evangelicals/Conservatives care just as much about life in this world as Liberals/Progressives. But very often, obstacles such as varying perspectives, differing emphases and vocabulary, and disagreements regarding strategies to deal with issues such as social justice come into play.
An example might look like this: If a person doesn’t think the government should be as involved as it is in issues dealing with poverty, then very often that person is deemed not to care about the poor. Instead, it may very well be the person in question cares a great deal about the poor but looks to other means and strategies to address the issue.
Of course, I’m not saying anything new here. But we play into established stereotypes far too often to be helpful to anyone. And so, on that note, I’ve linked some very fine and helpful articles on social justice by a few Evangelical and/or conservative thinkers (see below). The articles are well worth your time and effort.
Grace and Truth,
Great links on Social Justice at Break Point
The Real Social Justice? at IFWE
Social Justice links at Heritage Institute
Defining Social Justice by Dylan Pahman
Social Justice has Christian History at Anthony Bradley
The Elements of Social Justice by Anthony Bradley
How Do We Work for Justice and Not Undermine Evangelism by Russell Moore
Gambling, The Gospel, and Social Justice by Russell Moore
Social Justice links at Public Discourse
Social Justice links at The Society for a Just Society
The Social Justice Fallacy? by Mark Hendrickson
Christian Charity: Social Justice and the Good Samaritan by Mark Hendrickson
Social Justice links at First Things
Real Social Justice by Regis Nicoll
A Profile of Social Justice by Andree Seu
Glenn Beck, Social Justice, and the Limits of Public Discourse by Al Mohler
Redefining Social Justice by Elizabeth Waibel
On Social Justice by Brittany Baldwin
Is Social Justice Just Ice? by Marvin Olasky
Beck vs. Wallis by Marvin Olasky
He made a difference in his culture for the Kingdom of God...
It’s probably easier to ask what Abraham Kuyper did not do rather than what he did do.
Committed Christian. Cultural warrior. Founder of a political party. Prime minister and statesman. Newspaper founder and editor. Founder and president of a university and professor. Pastor. Writer. He did all that and more.
I believe with many that Abraham Kuyper is one of the most important role models for Christians today who want to make an impact in their world. He is someone you ought to get to know. Here are a few resources to help better acquaint you with him…
Grace and Truth,
Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A prayer by George Lyman Locke
This post is sort of a "part 2" to the post below on success.
Question: What is mediocrity? What examples of it have you witnessed recently? How do you prevent mediocrity from attacking you, your family, or your business?
Answer: I would say my definition of “mediocrity” is, not pursuing my God-given calling. Examples of mediocrity in my life would include: Not seeking to grow in my faith. Not learning about myself. Not learning how to develop myself so I can increasingly become who God made and called me to be. Not taking responsibility for my life. Not seeking to bear much, good, and lasting fruit for Christ and his Kingdom. General laziness and, sometimes, apathy. I guess with these examples I'm trying to point toward the direction of my life as opposed to results. While we participate in the process, results are ultimately up to God.
Some folks may be given five talents, some two, and some one. What counts is not how much you’re given, but what you do with what you’re given. Are you faithful with what you’ve been given, or do you tend to bury your talents in the ground? No effort – no risk – no trust in God. That describes too many of us. That has described me all too often.
I think we slow the influence mediocrity in our lives by obeying God, trusting him, staying close with him, continually seeking to be filled with his Spirit, staying in God’s Word, praying, praying, and praying some more, pursuing lifelong personal development and learning, etc. AND... traveling along this path with others is key.
The sanctifying process is more than learning how not to sin. While it obviously includes that, it also incorporates the positive act and attitude of conforming more and more to the likeness of Christ and renovating our lives under his Lordship so that we can grow toward our God-given potential…for his glory. Putting off sin and putting on righteousness. Dying to self and rising with Christ. We must continuously move forward, becoming progressively sanctified (i.e., becoming more like Christ, who perfectly fulfilled his calling). In all of this, God's grace is required. (I'm not endorsing a "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" mentality.)
I have experienced mediocrity in my own life. Every time I have daydreamed or surfed the net too long, watched too much TV, slept in too late, etc., I have embraced mediocrity.* But I think I’ve come to understand that I move toward overcoming mediocrity in my life only as I make the most of the time God has given me.
Very practically speaking, that means having a God-glorifying plan, (related to the various spheres of my life), and then faithfully, strategically, and consistently working that plan. There's certainly more to say about this, but this is a start.
By the way, I just started reading a great book by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy, entitled, Living Forward, which addresses these very ideas. Best of all, they provide a great road map (or action plan) for how to "live forward."
* Just a note to say I have not defined how much "too long, too much, or too late" is, regarding the things mentioned in this sentence. That's going to look different for each of us. I know the difference between "taking a break" versus "being lazy" in my life. You'll have to figure out the difference between the two in yours.
Just a quick thought for today.
Grace and Truth,
O give us homes built firm upon the Savior,
Where Christ is Head and Counselor and Guide;
Where every child is taught his love and favor
And gives his heart to Christ, the Crucified;
How sweet to know that, tho' his footsteps waver,
His faithful Lord is walking by his side!
O give us homes with godly fathers, mothers,
Who always place their hope and trust in him;
Whose tender patience turmoil never bothers,
Whose calm and courage trouble cannot dim;
A home where each finds joy in serving others,
And love still shines, tho' days be dark and grim.
O give us homes where Christ is Lord and Master,
The Bible read, the precious hymns still sung;
Where prayer comes first in peace or in disaster;
And praise is natural speech to every tongue;
Where mountains move before a faith that's vaster,
And Christ sufficient is for old and young.
O Lord, our God, our homes are Thine forever!
We trust to Thee their problems, toil, and care;
Their bonds of love no enemy can sever
If Thou art always Lord and Master there:
Be Thou the center of our least endeavor -
Be Thou our guest, our hearts and homes to share.
words by Barbara B. Hart, 1965