Saturday, July 21, 2007

Leave and cleave...

For most of my life I've heard the phrase "marriage requires a lot of hard work", or "marriage isn't easy - it requires lots and lots of work". Quite frankly, I'm surprised that I ever got married given those types of descriptions! To be honest, the prospect of marriage scared the living daylights out of me. I grew up in a "broken home" (although we didn't call it that back then). My dad left when I was rather young - that was likely for the best. Before he left us he was an out-of-control drinker who had an out-of-control temper once alcohol was introduced into his system. He and my mother fought constantly - both verbally and physically. Needless to say, I didn't see a lot of good things come out of a marriage when I looked at the home in which I was growing up. So with that as my "training", I entered the married scene about 10 years ago...

When my wife and I met, it wasn't under the best of circumstances. In a weird way, we were good influences on one another, although we were both caught up in drinking, partying, drugs and the like during that time. We got married even though we knew precious little about love. We should have been on our way to being another casualty, but the Lord intervened in our lives. Now, I give all that as some background, but it's not the thrust of what I want to say in this article.

In Genesis (and again in Matthew and Mark) we are introduced to the phrase "a man will leave his mother and father, and cleave to his wife". This word cleave really gives the idea that there is some work involved. The man is to stick to her, cling to her, love her, cherish her... I love the way that Genesis 2:24 ends "...and they shall be one flesh". So this idea of "cleaving" to the wife, gives the idea of coming into one mind and flesh - becoming completely united towards a common goal. I guess that sounds like a bit of work, particularly when you throw in the fact that it's virtually impossible to find two human beings who will agree on everything all the time!

I'm very thankful that I married the woman I married. We've made each other laugh nearly every day of our marriage, and we've never had a "fight" (although we don't always agree with one another). For us, the "hard part" about marriage hasn't really been that hard. When I read and hear the stats about how often marriages fail, I grow increasingly grateful for my marriage. While I'm certainly no expert on marriage (10 years is still in the honeymoon phase, I suppose), I think I've learned a couple of secrets to making a marriage successful.
  1. The Lord should be at the forefront of the marriage. Although my wife and I didn't learn this until several years into our marriage, it's a timeless truth that goes a long way to keeping a marriage "right".
  2. There is no place for selfishness in a marriage. When it comes right down to it, the reason every marriage that has ever failed has failed is because of selfishness - from one or both partners. That selfishness may manifest itself in the areas of finances, infidelity, time, or any number of other things, but the fact is that every failed marriage is the result of one or both marriage partners putting their selfish desires ahead of the needs of their spouse.
  3. The husband and wife compose the core family unit. Too often, marriages begin falling apart once kids are introduced into the mix. Why? Well, the focus begins to be on the kids rather than the spouse. A family is as strong (and as weak) as the marriage that provides the core to that family. If the husband and/or wife begin to put all their energies into the children to the neglect of the spouse, they've started down a dangerous path.

I hesitate to say much more than this. As a man who has only been married for 10 years, I'm still a relative newcomer to the world of marriage. Besides, my wife just called me to come eat supper....

In case you missed it...

On my side bar there are a variety of links under the heading "A Few of my Favorite Blogs...". These are the places that visit somewhat regularly on the internet. If you don't already visit them, you should. I'm going to highlight a few of my favorites, including a couple that I just added. These will be in no particular order. I would like you to notice that a number of these guys are pastors (they'll be the ones I list first). They are students of the Word and they have (in my opinion) added a great deal to the Christian blogosphere.

Brian McCrorie (Bowing Down) has a tremendous blog. Brian is a pastor in the Denver, CO area, and a guy whom I consider a friend. He doesn't update terribly often, but you will find him to be a great thinker and a truly passionate individual. Brian's writing has challenged me quite a bit...even during the times we don't quite see eye-to-eye. This is truly one of the bright spots in the Christian blogosphere.

Bob Bixby (Pensees) is, perhaps, my favorite blogger on the internet. Bob is a pastor in Rockford Illinois. As you read Bob's writings, you will find him to be a deep, logical thinker, with a tremendous command of the English language. I wish Bob could update his blog more regularly, as he is a tremendously gifted writer with good things to say.

Chris Anderson (My Two Cents) is yet another pastor blogger whom I enjoy reading. He pastors a church in Madison, Ohio. I appreciate the fact that Chris updates his blog regularly. I've only been reading Chris's blog for a few months, but it has become one of my favorites. You will find Chris to be a great thinker with a tremendous passion for the local church. Chris is one of those guys out there whom I'd like to meet some day.

Greg Linscott (Current Christian and irrelevant) is another pastor who has made a huge contribution to the internet. Current Christian is a news roundup site that he runs - I check it out every day, and have found some great blogs as a result - while irrelevant is a more personal blog of Greg's. Both are worth a gander.

Tom Pryde (NeoFundamentalist) is a pastor in Fremont, CA. While this is technically a "group blog", Tom runs it and and has written 360 of the 394 entries since the blog was started. I have read Tom elsewhere and I've appreciated his passion, grace, and desire to "right the ship" so to speak. He's another guy I'd love to meet in person some day.

Bob Hayton (Fundamentally Reformed) is one I just recently came across. Bob has left the dark, ugly side of Fundamentalism and is now in the conservative evangelical "camp" - although he obviously still has a soft spot for the movement. While most of his articles are quite lengthy, they are worhtwhile reads. I've really enjoyed what I've read over there thus far.

SharperIron isn't a typical blog. Jason Janz started the site (although he interacts there very little these days) and it has become the most read blog in Fundamentalism and one of the largest on the net. SI has published hundreds of authors and provides a place where Fundamentalists can engage in some valuable discussion. It's a very unique place and one of the reasons I began blogging in the first place.

There are many other blogs I could highlight, but these are sufficient for now. I would encourage you to take the time to check these places out, as well as the others I've listed on my side bar. One of the most enjoyable aspects of blogging is the little community in which you get to take part. I've benefited much from reading these blogs, and I think you will as well. Happy reading!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Children, salvation, and confusion...

Perhaps one of the most difficult things to deal with in regards to our children is the issue of salvation. We’ve really been struggling with this lately with our oldest son. He’s tooled quite a bit like I am – extremely analytical, yet somewhat driven by emotions.
Like me, our son tends to like clearly defined, “black and white” lines. The “grey areas” in life really bug him….I can sympathize with that. At one point in my life I embraced the KJV-only position, largely because it was so comfortable for me. I used to love the legalistic side of Fundamentalism simply because it removed all the grey areas for me. I didn’t need to engage in deep studies surrounding the Bible version debate, CCM, dress standards, worship styles, Calvinism, and other controversial issues because those things were spelled out for me in black and white. To a certain extent, I was comfortable in my ignorance; I was thrilled to have somebody tell me what I could and couldn’t do; and I was excited to have a sharp, clear line in front of me on every single issue in life. I didn’t have to think; I just needed to remember not to cross the line. Our oldest son will have some struggles as a result of this character trait which he has inherited from his father. But he’s also inherited very strong emotions from his father – that’s not bad, but it causes problems. The result of these two characteristics of his makeup is that he has really struggled with this area of salvation. Again, I can sympathize.

I must have made 30 professions of faith from the time I was 5 to the time I was 20. Each time there was an emotional appeal to accept the Lord, I tearfully obliged. Yet, I was so concerned that I hadn’t “done it right”, that I went on doubting and confused. I’ve been baptized in 6 different baptisteries, a lake, and a river, in 3 different states. Truth be told, if you were to ask me now when I was saved, I wouldn’t be able to tell you; although, I know beyond any doubt the Lord has mercifully saved my soul. I’m saying all this to get to a point….I don’t want my son to go through the same 25 years of confusion that I did. I didn’t get this thing nailed down until 4 or 5 years ago, and I don’t want my son to waste all that energy.

We’ve been working with him on this issue since he began seriously enquiring about it at age 3. As I’ve seen him grow into a sharp, caring, compassionate young man, who genuinely seems to seek after the things of God, I find myself thinking that he may have become a Christian at that early age. However, I’m unsure. He’s 9 now and truly struggling with this issue. We continue to pray with him and for him, and he continues to ask very “thoughtful” questions. We’ve committed to take him along slowly – at his pace – until everything comes together for him.

Perhaps the worst thing we can do to these young, inquisitive minds is to become impatient, lead them in “the prayer”, and tell them that they are now saved. About 5 years ago, a pastor in our former church did just that with our son. Our son had made it a habit to go forward at invitations to pray. Most generally, I went with him, but I chose not to that particular time. The pastor knelt down beside him and rose up a few moments later and began walking towards me with a big grin on his face. He said, “Your son just accepted Christ!”
“He did?”
“Yep! Isn’t that right, Trey?”

My son didn’t respond, so I said, “What just happened, son?” He indicated that he had prayed. I asked a couple of basic questions, but my questions were met with a blank stare. I looked at the pastor (who was still smiling). He looked back down at my son and began telling him that he was saved because he had followed him in the sinner’s prayer and….I interrupted him and asked him why he was trying to make my son believe something that he obviously didn’t understand yet. I can't begin to describe to you the frustration and anger I felt at that moment.

Some time later the pastor began to pressure my son about baptism, but I put an end to it rather quickly. I wonder how many times this story has unfolded and kids begin a lifelong struggle of misunderstanding and confusion about salvation? It took us quite a while to get over this with our son, but by God’s grace, we have.

The tactic we’ve landed on is one of patience and careful teaching. My son and I spent some time in my pastor’s office last Wednesday night speaking about this issue. I truly appreciated the way that my pastor carefully, slowly, and lovingly asked my son questions regarding his understanding and what he was thinking. He was careful and loving with Trey and didn’t rush him along, nor did he attempt to give him some false assurance. This is certainly, in my mind, the best way to approach this issue with these precious children.
Of all the factors that can contribute to a person having confusion and poor understanding regarding this issue of salvation, perhaps the most major factor is poor teaching. God help us to safeguard against confusing these young children about this...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

You've got to read this

This link will take you to one of my favorite blogs on the internet. I encourage you to take time to read the article I've linked to - it's only 20 pages or so long and well worth the read. It's extremely thought-provoking, and I will likely write some more on the subject later.

Thanks to Don Johnson for pointing me to this article.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Who's the best?

Well, as long as I'm in the mood to write controversial posts....

We often foster a cult of personality in Fundamentalism. While I haven’t studied the movement extensively, I suppose that the first prominent example of this was Billy Sunday. The man had charisma, he could draw a big crowd, and he got monstrous results. Sure, his doctrine was weak, his theology shaky, and his methodology questionable, but the end result was what mattered, so he got a pass. Fast forward into the late 60’s – 80’s and you find Jack Hyles. There’s no question as to how weak and shaky much of his theology was and his methodologies were outlandish. Hyles didn’t exactly get a free pass, but he was never really called “on the carpet” either. He was getting some results, so Fundamentalism at large just kind of turned a blind eye to the whole thing. Now, I’m not writing to simply beat up on dead men who can no longer defend themselves, but rather to call attention to a larger problem.

I spent two years working at this camp, one year at this camp, and a couple of years at this school. During that time, I heard some of the top evangelists in fundamentalism speak. I remember as a young man thinking that there was something wrong with many of these guys (at least in my mind). Many of them came across as arrogant and demanding, and their methodologies never seemed “right”. Yet, they got the results, so they were definitely in demand. The fact that the Lord seemed to be blessing their ministries caused me, as a young man, to assume that there must be something wrong with my mind rather than their methodologies.

Some of these guys were booked out as far as 3 – 5 years (a fact about which they were sure to let you know, whether you wanted to know or not). They were so numbers driven….some of them could quickly reproduce all of the “numbers” (decisions) of the last two years of evangelistic campaigns rather quickly. Now, I only saw them in camp settings and college, so the picture was incomplete. Later, as an adult, I was able to draw a more complete picture as I saw many of these same faces in the local church scene. Unfortunately, the picture grew a little darker. I would find that many of these guys would only travel to areas / churches where they were sure to get a large offering. They often made what was, at least in my mind, unreasonable demands on the churches at which they were speaking. Yet, they stay in high demand because we in fundamentalism tend to be so personality driven.

Now, I don’t want to categorically lump all fundy evangelists into the same boat, because this stereotype I’m drawing certainly is not descriptive of all of them. On the other hand, I also have no desire to start listing names, so bear with me as I make some sweeping generalizations.

I don’t think these evangelists are completely at fault in these things. Do you suppose that a typical fundamentalist church, college, camp, etc., is going to book the evangelist who is a great expositor but doesn’t necessarily get the results, or the guy who will get 300 decisions at a week of camp that has only 200 campers? In the past, we haven’t tended to question methodology, or poor exegesis. We were willing to overlook some faulty doctrine, so long as the end result was lots and lots of decisions. Fortunately, I think that day is passing, but I doubt that we’ll ever truly break free.

When I look back at the thousands of sermons I’ve sat through under these guys, I’m struck with the fact that they seemed to be relishing in being “the man” – the hero. They were the star athlete, the millionaire (or could have been one) who gave it all up to preach to young people…always the hero in the story…Some of the stories – even when I was a teenager attending camp – seemed to be a bit unbelievable to me. I’m not saying that there was outright lying, but sometimes I walked away thinking that the truth had been “polished up” a bit.

To tell you the truth, I’m not all that impressed with numbers these days. We often forget that Christ was remarkably unimpressed with numbers. As a matter of fact, with only one exception in the Gospels, we see Christ running away from accolades. Christ never held a huge evangelistic campaign with lots of results. Men like Jonah and Peter were given that privilege – and they managed to do it without a great story about themselves (they both had one to tell if they'd wanted to), and as far as I can tell they gave one invitation call and then shut their mouths!

No, I’m far more interested that the evangelist preaches the Word faithfully, honestly, carefully, expositionally, and with a focus on Christ rather than on themselves. I care that they follow the Lord’s leading (a term I'm always leary of for reasons that are explained quite well here) to determine where they’ll go and when…not the potential size of the love offering. I care that these men exemplify Christian charity and the humility to which Paul so often calls us in Philippians (“Let this mind be in you….”). I care that they take a back seat to Christ and that they allow the Word to be the point of offense rather than their own abrasiveness. I care that they teach the truth in love and, as a personal preference, I would rather they do it without all that incessant yelling.

Some years ago I heard a young evangelist who has since established a good name for himself. When he got up to preach, his face turned red and he started yelling. I’ll be honest, I thought to myself, “I’m going to hate this. What’s this dude so ticked off about anyway?” But as I listened to what he had to say, the Lord really used it in my life. It was one of the most doctrinally rich and expositional sermons I’d ever heard from an evangelist. I’m still not sure why he felt compelled to yell the entire time, but it was good to hear a young man that was stepping outside of (a portion of) the mold that had so typified the IFB evangelist of the last several decades.

So what’s the point of this article, anyway? Treat this as a call to the church to do their part in shaping the IFB evangelists. Demand an expositional, doctrinally sound, methodologically proper, humble, honest, approach to the preaching. Demand a guy who doesn’t feel compelled to give a 20 minute invitation every time he speaks. He should show a willingness to close the invitation even if there are still some people who haven’t responded. I've even heard that there are some great evangelists out there who don't always give invitations....

To be fair, not all the evangelists I heard while in the places I mentioned in my opening paragraphs were like what I’ve described here. There were – and are – some truly great teachers and preachers out there in evangelism. Some of them have been around for 30 years; some of them haven’t even been around for 3 years. Some of them are “big names” that just tend to do it right.

I would love to see IFB-dom move away from the personality-driven mentality that has so typified the movement through the years. I would love to see us gravitate towards solid preaching over the hysterics that have been at the forefront of the movement for so long. Maybe we’re closer than I think.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Confusion about "if I leave"...

It seems that I need to clarify a few things from my last article, including why I chose to write it. As I’ve followed the saga of Joe Zichterman, I’ve concluded that he brings up a host of good points about Fundamentalism. Granted, Joe is coming across as bitter, petty, and immature, but that’s beside the point. Many of the issues he has mentioned in his latest article are, in fact, major issues inside of much of Fundamentalism. In Fundamentalism we have never done a good job of critiquing and criticizing ourselves. For some reason the “in thing” to do these days is to bash Fundamentalism for the sheer sport of it. That’s not my goal.

I’ve been in Fundamentalism for most of my life. I grew up (thankfully) largely ignorant of the pervasive Fundamentalism of the day…the “Hyles brand”. These days, Hyles and the brand of Fundamentalism he spawned are alive and well. So many of the negatives he introduced to the movement are present in nearly every portion of Fundamentalism that exists. Granted, many individual churches have managed to shed much of the baggage, but the Fundamentalism of the 70’s and 80’s is still rampant and still a major part of our movement. I would like to see that brand of Fundamentalism completely wither up and die.

I’m not a bitter individual. I was in one of the worse environments in the movement for nearly 2 years. When I came to my senses, I left. I’ve never been back, and I’ll never go back, but I’m not bitter about it. For us, the wake up call was when one of our children asked us if my wife hated God. He asked this because of something the pastor had said in the service. What he said was unbiblical, illogical, nearly heretical, and absolutely foolish. I told my son as much and ended up apologizing to my family for having them in that church. When we left, I consoled myself with the thought that perhaps that church was an exception…that the rest of Fundamentalism was filled with churches much like the one we attend now. In my opinion – granted, it’s quite subjective – I was wrong.

I think I need to clarify a term I used a couple of times in my last article. I referred to myself as a “misfit” in Fundamentalism. This isn’t a term I mean to use in a prideful way. By misfit, I merely mean that I’m not a “cookie-cutter fundy”. I think for myself and that’s a good thing. A couple of decades ago, individualism was largely discouraged within the movement; however, with the rise of the Internet, and the amount of study resources now available, people tend to be more studious and have the opportunity to see and hear more than one vantage point on a subject. Many of us think outside the “box” of fundamentalism, and that’s a great thing. One unfortunate side-effect to this is arrogance. We think we have all the answers and often choose to gloss over the positive aspects of “old-school fundamentalism”.

One more word and I’ll end this little article. My wife does a great job of helping me keep the right focus. She confronts in such a loving way and is an incredibly wise woman. Anybody who has met her knows that I married up…considerably! I’ve described our marriage as the sympathy date that wouldn’t end! She went out with me the first time against her better judgment and eventually I coerced her into marrying me. I guess the decision she made to marry me might call her wisdom into question, but let’s just say that it was a brief lapse in judgment that saddled her with this cross she’ll have to bear until one of us dies! Sonja lovingly confronted me about my last article indicating that it came across as abrasive and a tad too caustic. While I don’t completely agree with this evaluation, I do see how it can be perceived this way. I want to leave no doubt that I believe in the movement we call Fundamentalism. If I have to leave it some day, I will – as I said in my last article – do so without apology or hesitation; however, I will be grieved that the movement I grew up in and loved was rendered unsalvageable.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

If I ever leave Fundamentalism, don't ask me why...

As a preface to this article, I need to mention that I am privileged to be a part of a wonderful IFB church. I truly enjoy this local assembly and I often describe it as atypical in the Fundamentalist movement. The problems I discuss in this article are non-existent or barely visible at our church. I'm truly grateful for that and, quite frankly, it's the few churches here and there that are like ours that give me hope and encourage me to "stick it out" in Fundamentalism. Having said that ....

At times I find myself as somewhat of a misfit in Fundamentalism. Don't get me wrong, I am a convinced fundamentalist, but the movement we call Fundamentalism is so fragmented, outdated, and often frustrating that I struggle with it a great deal. In my mind, many of our greatest strengths are also some of our greatest weaknesses. Let me explain:


This great hallmark of Fundamentalism is certainly an important one. This line we've made in the sand is one of the most significant factors that separate us (no pun intended) from the Evangelical community at large. I think this is an important doctrine and one for which we must fight. We must separate from bad theology and weak theology. We must separate from apostates and other errant brethren. This is important and is truly one of our strengths, but it's also become one of our greatest liabilities. There are those amongst us (the majority, I think) that separate over the most asinine of things. We have asked for the heads of those that have shared a platform with men who have shared a platform with men like Billy Graham. We have drawn lines of separation in our ranks with people who believe the same way as us, but they have different music standards and use a new Bible version. I know many people who would consider me a compromiser if they knew that I preached last Sunday in an SBC church. This church used drums and electric guitars in their worship service, and I preached from the NKJV and quoted often from the NASB. In some folks minds, this makes me a compromiser. In some folks minds, this has disqualified me from speaking in their pulpits. That's fine, though.

View of Scripture

Fundamentalists have traditionally held to rather lofty view of Scripture. This is vitally important and something I truly admire in many in our ranks. (However, I think that the majority of mainstream Fundamentalism pays mere lip-service to this - at least judging by the small amount of Scripture used from many pulpits as well as their horrible exegesis of the Scriptures). We have fought over the years to keep translations of the Scriptures as pure as possible and calling attention to poor and errant translations (The Book, for instance). This is good, but unfortunately we've also crossed a line and meandered into the ludicrous. It's foolish to claim that KJV-onlyism is only a problem that is rampant in a small segment of Fundamentalism. This doctrinal heresy is present in a segment of nearly every IFB church I've been to. The only exceptions are the churches that have switched translations, and many in Fundamentalism no longer consider them as part of the movement anyway....

Local Church Autonomy

This is one of the main reasons I prefer Independent Baptist churches. There is no hierarchy outside of the local body. This - in my opinion - is a good thing. HOWEVER.....we have more pastoral dictatorships than not in Fundamentalism. There is often no accountability within a local assembly. I could spill thousands of words giving testimony to the dangers of this type of set up. But perhaps the worst thing this has caused is that theology has become weak, doctrine shallow, and many of the problems I'm mentioning in this article have simply become a way of life.

Standards of Personal Holiness

We traditionally view personal holiness as being extremely important, and rightfully so. We expect mature Christians to live consecrated, separated lives that are markedly different than that of the world. But, once again, this has become perhaps our greatest liability. It is shameful that we still argue about the skirt issue. My word, it's shameful that it's even an issue! It's almost grievous that there will be church picnics all across the country today where women will be wearing long skirts and ridiculous culottes, while the men are wearing blue jeans, while attempting to play softball in 100 degree weather. This issue (standards), more than any other, has cost us a great deal. There are people in the community who won't pay that first visit to our churches simply because they have nothing to wear. For reasons I will never understand, many of us display that fact as a badge of honor while ignoring the fact that our insane standards have become hindrances to the Gospel. Worse yet, we've become so dogmatic about these standards - dress, music, hair-length, etc - that we've elevated them to doctrinal status. This is sad and shameful.

As I wander about the internet I often read claims that these sorts of things are only present in a small, yet vocal majority of Fundamentalism. Quite frankly, that's crap. This is how we've allowed Fundamentalism to be defined and those that think differently on these issues (churches, not people) are certainly outside the mainstream of the movement. We are no longer vital. We've gone from being salt in our culture to being the silly clown making balloon animals and throwing cream pies at people.

So, why don't you leave then? I'll go ahead and ask myself that question to avoid the inevitable email about it later....I likely will leave someday. I'm not sure if Fundamentalism is ever going to recover from the tailspin. If it doesn't recover, I will most certainly abandon ship and that without reservation or regret. For now I'm content being a bit of a misfit...

Monday, July 2, 2007

My week at camp & Romans 12:1

I had the opportunity to spend this last week working at a camp. It was really one of the best weeks I’ve had in years! I was given the opportunity to help out with a good chunk of the program, which turned out to be a great deal of fun for me. Additionally, I was given the opportunity to preach once. The only downer during the week was the fact that we had nearly a foot of rain dumped on us… I was very impressed with the kids though, as I never heard a word of complaint about it. We were still able to stick with our regular program for the most part, despite the rain. It rarely rained hard during a scheduled outdoor activity, and there was no thunder and lightning during the week, so we just carried on with business as usual. God was gracious in allowing us to go on with our schedule without much need for modification.

After camp, my family and I stayed in the area so that I could preach Sunday morning and Sunday night in my in-laws church. It’s been a number of years since I preached in an SBC church, and we had a great time. I really enjoyed the message I preached Sunday night, and I benefited from it greatly. I’d never preached it before and the message itself grew out of a conversation I had with a good friend (thanks, Mike!).

It was a look at Romans 12:1-2, but the focus was on verse 1: “I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God…” We looked at WHY we do what we do. Sometimes we get so caught up in doing simply for the purpose of doing, but Paul gives us the reason WHY we should do in this passage. He calls back on the mercies of God that he has explained in great detail throughout the first 11 chapters of Romans (particularly in chapters 4-11). I think that too often we teach these verses independently of the first 11 chapters of Romans. If you read and teach these verses without those first 11 chapters, it could lead to a dangerous legalism (I’ve seen this first-hand). Our “living sacrifice” to God should be motivated out of gratitude for what he has done for us and out of love for what He is to us. So often in fundamentalism, we get caught up in just making sure we do the right thing. We dress the right way, speak the right way, use the right music, stay away from alcohol and tobacco, avoid dancing….. In short, we focus on toeing the line, but in doing so we often display the mentality of a mindless drone. As I’ve studied this passage I’ve become convinced that God isn’t just concerned that we do the right thing, He is concerned that we do it for the right reasons. Our great motivation is gratitude and love toward a remarkable God Who daily sees fit to load us with benefits! Take a look at Romans 8 where Paul lays out so eloquently many of the mercies of God about which he speaks in Romans 12:1. Think about it: No condemnation ... sonship .. heirship ... a sinless Savior making perpetual intercession for us … the inescapable, constant love of God …all this and more is mentioned for us in Romans 8. God has done so much for us and has shown His grace, love, and mercy to us in countless ways. Perhaps we should add some feeling to our service….

I’ll probably add some of my notes from this passage in a future post.