Christians: Don’t Judge, Do Discern

It’s important for believers to discern the truth about how to live righteously. But using that truth to judge others can do more harm than good in trying to lead others to Jesus.

Figure out what lost people can discern of God and only share information that will invite them to investigate matters of faith further.

Shining your light to the world means leading with love. What people need most is the love of God, not the laws of God.

We (The Church) Have Not Arrived and That’s Okay

You can’t help someone else if you have unaddressed unrighteousness in your life. Only once you’ve learned to live above the bar yourself, can you help someone else over the bar.

None of us in the church have arrived. We are all incomplete and very much a work in progress in our walk with God. The church should be the safest place to be “in flight.” Invite others to join you and make the church a safe, welcoming place.

 

What’s one good way to solve inequality?

From the beginning, God has given us a clear view of equality in the Bible. There is no superior race; we are all one in Jesus Christ.

Revelations 7:9 tells us that, in heaven, people of every race will worship God as one throughout eternity.

While we can’t solve all the world’s problems with inequality, we can each do our part to address it wherever we have influence. Change begins at home. Talk to your kids about equality.

Treat everyone with God-given dignity and respect.

Influence From Obscurity – Hidden Figures Recap

While many of us don’t aspire to life in the limelight, we can probably all agree that it would be nice to at least be recognized for our achievements and treated the same as everyone else. But what do you do when you find yourself working in relative obscurity regardless of your talents and not being afforded the perks and access that you rightfully deserve? Katherine Jackson’s story, as told in the movie Hidden Figures, is one such story.

A brilliant mathematics prodigy, Katherine started high school at age ten and finished college at the age of 18. As talented as she was, there were few job options available for educated African American women at the time, other than teaching. She eventually found full-time work at NASA in the mid-1950s as a human computer, one of a pool of women doing mathematical calculations for the engineers. Her extraordinary abilities soon landed her a more prominent role with the Space Task Group, whose mission was to get a man into space ahead of the Russians. A widow and single mother, Katherine not only had to prove her worth in an all-male environment and for unequal pay; as a woman of color she also had to traverse the minefield of segregation. Undaunted by the odds, Katherine led the way in calculating the launch and landing trajectories that enabled NASA to put a man in orbit, bring him safely home, and eventually put a man on the moon.

Leading Out of Obscurity

As with all the movies in this series, there is something to learned here of living life the way God would have us live it. So what can we learn from the story of Katherine’s influential, yet relatively obscure life? How did she do it? What’s one good way to lead from obscurity?

The Apostle Paul would tell us that no one is as obscure as we feel; God sees our work, so we work for him:

 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…” (Colossians 3:23, NIV)

He would also encourage us to endure hardship as you solve more problems. Work at it with all your heart. This is what Katherine did. She continued to work the math with everything she had despite blatant snubs from her male peers and the humiliation of being singled out because of her skin color. And as she solved more problems for the sake of the mission, she found herself becoming less obscure and being given even more responsibility.

Taking on Responsibility

This brings us to another life lesson: What’s one good way to get more in life? Take on more responsibility. Not only did Katherine live out this principle; she instilled it in her daughters as well. Upon coming home and finding her two younger girls fighting the older one for the privilege of not having to share a bed, Katherine promptly informed them that the perk came with the added responsibility of doing all Joylette’s chores. They declined. But Katherine did not shirk the added responsibility of extra work and long hours on the job. She followed the Apostle Paul’s example just as he tells us in II Thessalonians 3:6-13:

“For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you.”

II Thessalonians 3:6-13

Fight for the mission more than yourself

Again and again we see Katherine accepting the challenges life threw her way. If we were to look to her for advice on one good way to rise to the occasion, she might answer, Fight for the mission more than yourself. Rather than her story being about her treatment as a woman in a man’s world and as a person of color in the 1960s, it’s about her efforts to do everything she possibly could to help the space mission succeed. The Apostle Paul was also on a mission, sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father (Galatians 1:1, NIV)—on a mission to serve others and spread the gospel. His attitude was that of a servant:

“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.” (I Corinthians 9:19, NIV)

We, too, our called to be on mission for Christ, living not for ourselves, but as servants for the sake of others. We, too, are called to rise to the occasion by being on mission for God’s Kingdom:

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, NIV)

Addressing Inequality Where You Have Influence

While taking on the posture of a servant feels like a backwards slip into obscurity, as we learned from Katherine’s story, fighting the tide of obscurity and inequality does not mean that we are without influence. In fact, her hyper-focus on the mission’s need to succeed and her ensuing push to be included in all aspects of her job were instrumental in bringing about change in how women and people of color were viewed and treated in her workplace. So while she couldn’t solve the problem of inequality in the whole south, she could address it where she had influence.

And so it is with us. Paul reminds us in Galatians 3:26-29 that in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. And in Revelations 7:9, we see a picture of the social landscape of heaven:

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” (Revelation 7:9 NIV)

Change can seem daunting and hopeless. But if we focus on addressing inequality wherever we have influence, we CAN make a difference. Both Katherine and the Apostle Paul did just that. They endured hardship, took on responsibility, focused on the mission at hand rather than themselves, and became a force for change in their circles of influence, one person at a time.

Forming Meaningful Connections in Life

In the movies, we often see heroes who outwardly seem to have it all – success, fame and fortune. But what is really going on beneath the surface? Are these people really happy and fulfilled by all their material things?

In Lego Batman, we see a hero who outwardly appears to have it all together and be at the top of his game. But Batman is about to discover the real fight—the one that happens when we take off our mask and look in the mirror. Sometimes, the greatest villain we face is the one looking back at us from the mirror. We live in isolation and loneliness and wonder why even life’s major milestones seem to lack true meaning for us.fa

God gives us wisdom on the topic of connecting in Ecclesiastes, which says, in part, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”  (Ecclesiastes 4:7-10)

Having meaningful relationships, living in authentic community is better than being isolated. So maybe instead of being celebrated, Batman should be pitied. He finds himself celebrating alone and even laughter is no fun when there’s no one to share it with.

PK identifies two powerful life lessons for us all in Lego Batman:

1) Life doesn’t work when you work alone!

Batman doesn’t do “ships” – as in relationships – because he thinks he prefers to work alone. But we see that what really matters in life is having authentic relationships with roots. Otherwise, when you stumble in life (and we all stumble), you’ll be on your own. As Batman discovered, when you work alone, you wear a mask even with the people you know. We fear rejection if we are our authentic selves, so it seems easier to remain isolated.

When you work alone, you lack self-awareness. You become BLIND to yourself, therefore you can’t see yourself or how you treat others. Your blindness often becomes your weakness, and your weakness can cause you to stumble and fall.

2) You can’t be a Hero if you only care about yourself.

You can’t be relationally or emotionally connected if you only care about yourself. The isolation we create leads to loneliness, and what good are celebrations and struggles if you have no one to share them with? Isolation and selfishness were never a part of God’s plan for our lives!

In Romans 12, we see God’s direction to us for building strong connections. We read that we are all part of the same body of Christ, although we have different functions and gifts. In verses 9-10, we are told to love sincerely and be devoted to one another in brotherly love. We are to honor one another by offering support, help and hospitality with those in need.

Pastor Kevin points out the proper application:

“I AM the church, I CARE ABOUT OTHERS. This is not telling others to be about me; this is teaching me to be about others. I don’t show up to church for me to be served; I show up for God and to serve others.”

This biblical guideline hits home for Batman when he painfully becomes aware of the reality of his isolation. Batman connects with others in order to do ‘ships’ – as in relationships – when he joins team with Gotham to beat the bad guys. And for the first time, Batman finds himself caring about people other than himself.

Connections that Last

In caring for others, Batman is no longer alone. He’s becoming a true hero. But it’s not enough that he cares. He has to go one step further and really connect. Batman finally allows these relationships to carry over into his personal life as well, no longer living in isolation, but becoming a true friend and being part of a family.

God created us to connect in community. And while sin has pulled apart our world of healthy relationships, Jesus makes it possible for us to re-connect to one another with him as the head of the church. This is why we are called a church family! Are there areas of your life where you can better connect with others?

So Lego Batman is not just a movie fantasy, it’s the reality of what Jesus accomplished when he died on the cross, rose to new life, and restores us to our created purpose. Life works best when we live in community with Him and with others. Through connection, we live out our life’s purpose and have an opportunity to grow. Real heroes restore relationships and community.

From self-absorbed to self-sacrificing

What does it take to save a galaxy? You might think of mighty heroes with outrageous powers, or genius warriors with superior weapons. But chances are you wouldn’t think about a group of selfish miscreants made up of an orphan, a murderer, a raccoon, and a talking tree. Yet that’s exactly what Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy gives us. A ragtag group filled with flaws responsible for stopping a wickedly powerful enemy.

Now, like every movie in our At the Movies series, Guardians has a message that echoes the Bible. We see in the New Testament another group of ragtag misfits brought together by Jesus. We call them the Disciples, and they were very much like the Guardians. A mix of people from different backgrounds, brought together for a purpose greater than themselves. And like the Guardians, we see the disciples take a very specific journey.

Read more

How Should Christians Build Relationships With Non-Believers?

Being in the world, but not of it, does not mean that we as Christ followers should isolate ourselves from people who don’t share our beliefs. Jesus spent an enormous amount of time relating to non-Jews, much to the consternation of the religious leaders of his time.

Engaging with non-believers can give us opportunities to demonstrate with our actions and our lifestyles how following Christ can make a difference in how one does life. This does not mean, however, that we engage in activities that are not Christ-honoring in order to reach out to the lost, rather, we invite them into our world and into our lives and into our church and make them a part of who we are.

The church should be a place of insulation and refuge for the lost, not a place of isolation and refuge from the lost.

How Should We Share Our Faith Without Being Preachy?

The desire to share Christ with unchurched friends can be outweighed by a fear of coming across as being too pushy or preachy. It is said that actions speak louder than words, so the life we live and the love we share can be the most effective means of opening the door to conversation.

When our relationship with Christ is evident in how we relate to others, how we date, how we handle money and disappointment, and how we do our work, others will want to know what makes us different. As we answer their questions and share the difference Christ has made in our lives, the next natural step is to invite them into a relationship with Christ as well.

Why Is There a Generational Shift in Authority and Opinion?

Young people have constant access to their friends and acquaintances through smart phones and social media. This leads to less interaction with adults.

Then, when it’s time to make a decision, there are multiple voices competing for attention, and each begins to have equal weight – regardless of whether the advice is helpful and wise.

Embrace the positive aspects of constant communication with friends, but take time to learn from generations who’ve gone before you. They have a wealth of wisdom and experience to share.

How Can I Encourage My Older Parents to Get Into Church Community?

Parent/child relationships can be difficult to navigate when one is trying to convince the other to change a course of action, especially when the tables turn and an adult child is doing the persuading.

If your relationship with your parent is a good one, pray for an open door in which to share your concerns. The thing you can best help others with is what they can best hear from you. Pointing out how their faithful commitment to community when you were young was one of the kindest things they taught you, and that you’re still practicing that, might well be the key that reminds them of the importance of continued community. If not, however, pray that God will put someone in your parents’ path that they will listen to.

In the end, though, you have to let go of the things you can’t fix and trust that God will provide the results. God loves and cares for your parents more than you ever could.

How Do You Live Free From the Guilt of Sin?

There is a difference between felt guilt and guilt for before our Holy God.

We are guilty before God for our sin, and that’s the guilt that Jesus covers on the cross.

There is also a guilt that we feel for hurting someone we love, and when we sin against God, we hurt Him. He forgives us through Jesus and asks us to release that, but remorse does matter.

Remorse demonstrates the authenticity of our love for God that we have to release. If we didn’t have it, there’s something very wrong in the relationship.

The freedom that God provides is the freedom of the consequences of sin eternally. We never before God and through Jesus will carry the consequence of our sins. But on Earth, there are very real consequences in society. We aren’t free of consequences on Earth. This is the reason God says “Don’t sin.” We’re going to be free in Heaven, but the destruction will be felt on Earth. That often destroys marriages, families, finances, careers, futures, and emotional souls.

Discussing Your Faith With Non Christians

Whether you’re a new follower of Jesus or someone with a deep relationship with God, talking about your faith with someone who doesn’t share it can be challenging. And when the person to whom you’re talking straight up says they don’t believe in God, it can be downright difficult.

That’s because many times Christians approach talking to an atheist like a soldier approaches war: victory against the enemy at any cost.

But, as PK shared during the Q&A, talking with an atheist isn’t about winning an argument—it’s about sharing how your faith makes a difference for you. The Apostle Peter suggested that approach as well; in 1 Peter 3:15-16, he writes:

“Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick.”

Did you catch that? The foundation of effective witnessing isn’t clever arguments or well-reasoned explanations. It’s not rhetoric or presentation or persuasion.

The foundation of talking about your faith is living it out daily.

Why is that?

PK mentioned in his answer that most people who come to Christ do so not because of theology or philosophy, or even the compelling evidence for Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection. They aren’t convinced by the evidence for the Bible’s reliability, or even by well-crafted sermons and excellent music.

Most people begin their journey of faith by what they experience—the interactions they have with people who say they follow Christ. When men and women of the Kingdom live with grace, love, and conviction, it makes an impression on those who don’t know Jesus.

When our actions are spurred by something greater than self-interest or the desire to prove ourselves right, something stirs in the souls of people who don’t yet believe in Jesus.

Peter said, “Be ready to speak when someone asks you about your faith.”

Why would they ask?

Because they see how you live. They see your kindness, your generosity, your commitment, and your respectfulness. They see you handle stresses and disappointments with the same grace that you handle success.

They are looking at you as the first evidence of God. And when they see it in your life (when you bear spiritual fruit), the Spirit of God can prompt their curiosity.

When it comes to talking to your atheist neighbor, co-worker, or friend, always remember that the most impacting thing about Jesus wasn’t what he said, it was who he was. When we draw near to God in our own lives, we live and love like Jesus and our witness becomes more compelling.

It’s not about our being smarter, it’s about our being more like Jesus. As PK said, “Arguments never brought anyone into the Kingdom.”

But love on display?

It’s been changing the world for over 2,000 years.

What The Voice of The Braves Taught His Son

Watching his father, legendary Atlanta Braves broadcaster Ernie Johnson, Sr., work taught Ernie valuable life lessons. These weren’t “sit down, fatherly instruction” moments; they were moments in which his father simply modeled great character. Ernie often questions himself today, “How would my dad handle this?”

Christians: Hang With Non-Christians

When we get to heaven, there won’t be any lost people. Why are we spending all our earthly time with Christians? We have eternity for that! Our one and only opportunity to reach lost people and help them receive God’s gift of salvation is now. It’s time for the church to intentionally step outside its walls and show the world the love of Christ.

Compromise

Download Full Fight Night Rules

Healthy Relationships Have 3 Habits:

  1. Close enough to listen.
  2. Clear enough to compromise.
  3. Committed Enough to self-correct.

What I Need To Know: Real relationship solutions involve compromise. (because nobody gets everything they want in life)

What I Need To Do: Serve the other persons interests while I solve my own. (instead of just solving it for me)

Fight Night Rules: (con’t from last week)

9) We agree to set directions for solutions. If we cannot agree on the mutual compromises that will strengthen our relationship & life together; we set another ‘fight night’ time and continue the process toward agreement.

10-16) See Full Fight Night Rules

17)If we discover we cannot come to a wholesome resolve through discussion and prayer and processing over time; we will agree to take it to selected friends for processing.

18) We will not “vote” on issues through friendships (gang up). The goal is not ‘right’ vs. ‘wrong’ with a win/lose motto: the only goal is win/win.

19) We agree to openly pursue counseling in the event that we cannot come to agreement following the praying & processing assistance with friends.

Small Group Shares Loss and Life

Three couples, bound together by the bond of a small group, navigated the heartbreaking loss of miscarriage. Later, one by one, each couple experienced fresh joy – and added four new babies to their small group family.

“On my loneliest days, I was never truly alone.”

Your small group can become like a second family for you. Together, with God, you navigate life’s ups and downs.