>Who You Listening To?

>Great advice for all…but perhaps especially the 20-30 somethings…from MARK BATTERSON

For better or for worse, your destiny is determined by decisions. And it’s often big decisions that seem like little decisions, but destiny can turn on a dime.

The decision in I Kings 12:8 was “for worse.” It says: “Rehoboam abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him.”

Who are you listening to?

I think Rehoboam made the classic mistake many young leaders make. He surrounded himself with “yes men.” By surrounding himself with the young men he grew up with he limited his input to those who only knew what he knew. They had only experienced what he experienced. It’s so important that you have some people who can speak into your life from a different vantage point. It’s so important that you have counselors who have been there and done that. It’s so important that you respect those who have made more trips around the sun.

We only make a few major decisions in our lives. We spend the rest of our lives managing those major decisions. This one was catastrophic. This little decision to listen to the wrong voices split the kingdom in two! It led to civil war. And it all sprang from a young leader’s arrogance.

I think it’s so important that we listen to the voice of innovation but we also need to listen to the voice of wisdom. It’s not either/or. It’s both/and.

>Hard-Gained Wise Words from (Overseas) Mission Field

>((Why did I put, in title, (Overseas) Mission Field? Simply because I serve as a (home) missionary. I am so tired of people saying “Why should so many hear twice when so many have never heard?” – the implication being that missionaries are desperately needed (overseas) rather than stateside. Oh, really? When more than half of all professing “Christians” in evangelical churches in this country believe there are other ways to heaven than by Jesus? When the majority of 20-30 something “evangelicals” in this country think homosexuality is okay and church is negotiable? Please…I applaud and honor (and support!) those who are called overseas, but don’t you dare tell me we don’t need gospel-focused missionaries in this increasingly godless nation we call the US of A))

But the following contains significant insights from an “insignificant” (in some eyes) missionary (this from KEVIN DEYOUNG)

Katie Middlestead is a cool girl. She used to work at our church. For the past several years she has been serving as one of our missionaries with Food for the Hungry in the Philippines. She will finish her work there in the  next month and return to Michigan. I’ve enjoyed her newsletters and really appreciated these two paragraphs from her last newsletter where she reflects on her time overseas. I share them here with her permission.

I didn’t change the world. I didn’t start a revival. I didn’t eradicate poverty. I didn’t cure whole villages of malaria. I didn’t open a school or hospital. I didn’t single handedly share the gospel with an entire temple of Buddhist monks and have them all become believers in Jesus Christ. I didn’t translate the Bible into an obscure language. I didn’t get thrown into jail for my faith and then have an entire nation repent due to my witness. I didn’t bring a physically poor community into self-sufficient prosperity. I didn’t find every single street child a home with a loving family.
I did strive to build relationships. I did walk alongside people as they struggled to live each day. I did value and love those that I worked with and those that I worked for. I did have part of my heart forever planted here. I did constantly learn and grasped that the more you know about a people, the more you understand that you haven’t even begun to figure it out. I did share about Jesus Christ to people who had never heard. I did change from wanting to help “the poor” to acknowledging that we are all poor in one way or another and that we are all walking together. I did allow God to strip away idols and distractions from my life (which is a scary process by the way) to reveal my true heart. I did know more fully that God’s grace is truly sufficient.

Wise words, Katie. God asks for faithfulness, humility, and love. The rest of the work is up to him.

>Curious, or Furious?

>”How much we ought to hate sin! Instead of loving it, cleaving to it, dallying with it, excusing it, playing with it, we ought to hate it with a deadly hatred. Sin is the great murderer, and thief, and pestilence, and nuisance of this world. Let us make no peace with it. Let us wage a ceaseless warfare against it.”

>Secret of Appreciating Church

>This is by Hunter Baker via ZACH NIELSON

The secret of the church is not that it is some business to be run or a show designed to catch curious onlookers. The secret of the church is that is a community. It is a place where you belong and where people know you. In other words, it is a lot like the old bar on the television show Cheers. And it helps you to live the Christian life. In the church, you will become aware of what is going on in other people’s lives and they will learn about your life. You will pray with each other and minister to needs. Christianity is not meant to be practiced in isolation.

So, stop shopping for a church. Stop sampling. Don’t fall for all the hype of a Disneyworld experience with a Christian aura around it. Don’t chase after a superstar preacher. You can hear that on your iPod. Feel free to contribute to that ministry. But find a church where you can be part of a community of people who know each other and will help one another live the Christian life, sometimes as helpers and sometimes by being in need and providing an opportunity for others to help.

>The Cancer in the "church"

>I recognize this may bother some, to include some I love. But truth can’t be compromised to avoid bothering someone…

The “prosperity gospel” is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. Sacrifice, inconvenience, undergirdded by great joy remain key words of the genuine gospel. Health-and-wealth are not part of His sacrificial atonement. I make no apology if that offends or infuriates. It is truth. We who follow the living Lord do prosper; but not (usually) in tangible, financial, problem-absolving ways.

Here are important words:

During the second panel discussion at T4G2010, Mark Dever asked John MacArthur about his concerns for what is known as the “prosperity gospel” or the “health/wealth gospel.” The discussion followed Al Mohler’s message, “How Does It Happen? Trajectories toward an Adjusted Gospel.” Here’s an excerpt of the exchange:

Mark Dever: I think I heard you say recently in a conversation that you are more concerned about the prosperity “gospel” than you have ever been before, that you see it as an increasing problem. Do you want to talk about that for a moment?

John MacArthur: I think it is a far greater threat than the intellectual issues of modernism and postmodernism, because most people don’t live in those categories. I think it is the single greatest lie being propagated by so-called Christians today, in the sense that it overpowers all other lies.

Promising people they will feel better [therapeutically] will only get them so far. But if you promise them they will get rich—that will trump feeling better every time because you can feel better once you’re rich. I think it is a Satanic doctrine…

It preys on the weak and the weary and the broken and the sad and the poor and the desperate, and it promises them something God will never deliver. Jesus will never deliver. And it is a Ponzi scheme; the guys at the top get rich and everybody else is left in rags shredded everywhere in the name of Jesus Christ. So I think that is the most marketable commodity of all of the trajectories that you were talking about today.

The therapeutic one is always there, but I think we have been through and out the other side of the psychology thing. And I think the people who try to make their ministry some kind of pulpit therapy have probably already changed their approach to that and maybe they have gone off and opted out for the marketing thing.

“The poor you will always have with you,” Jesus said [Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7, John 12:8]. The desperate are always going to be there. And if you prey on those people, you are going to always have a wide audience.

You can download the entire discussion here.