Tag: life

Prayer Mentoring: Elections

We should pray and keep the Gospel first. The success of the church is not determined by who wins elections. It’s success is determined by the work of God in the people of God. It starts with, held up with and ended with prayer.

1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying ) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 8 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.

~ 1 Timothy 2:1-8 NASB

Voting process

  1. Pray
  2. Be informed of things voting on
  3. Pray and search the Scriptures
  4. Vote your conscience
  5. Pray

A brief defense on teaching about end times

To understand life one must understand death. The teaching on end times in the Bible is the Christian understanding of ‘death.’ I put death in quotes as the Bible teaches death to be an unnatural state resulting from sin. There is an over reaction to teachings about end times, but running from it is unwise. Here are some often heard objections to teaching the end times:

None of your business
When the disciples asked Jesus if now was the time for the kingdom, Jesus said it wasn’t their job to worry about a timeline. At the end of this narrative angels asked what on Earth the disciples were doing, just as Jesus went up into the clouds he’d come back in a like manner. While me must hold a timeline loosely, there is still the expectancy of Christ’s return. Hold fast to Christ’s return, hold loosely a timeline.

It’s divisive
There is little in the Bible that isn’t divisive. 25% of Scripture deals with prophetic events in the future. It’s a major thing. The teaching on end times focuses on three critical themes: 1) The person and nature of Jesus. 2) The restoration of peace and harmony as Jesus makes all things new. 3) The punishment of evil and the vindication of justice. These are no small themes and the Bible speaks to them. Christianity isn’t about an eternal fight of good vs evil. Evil has an end date.

Left behind series is annoying
Lot’s of things are annoying in life. I don’t fault someone with trying to communicate what they believe artistically. There are weird or annoying things in all aspects of life. Just look at Facebook and you’ll see what I mean. Anytime we place a major emphasis on one doctrine over the others there will be issues. Further, anytime we move the Gospel from being first and central things get messed up. However, that doesn’t mean other doctrines are unimportant or shouldn’t be discussed. Our culture tries to run and hide from death and that’s unhealthy.

End times focuses on fear
No doubt the study of end times should be sobering. In it we see the outpouring of God’s wrath but we also see the outpouring of God’s love. For those in Christ the teaching on end times should be motivational and push us to place our trust in Christ. Not merely for our salvation, but also that he will work all things together for good. Fear is not all bad. Losing our fear of God is dangerous, as is over emphasizing the fear of God. A significant portion of passages on the end times is for encouragement and hope, not fear.

About that timeline
Jesus chastises leaders for being able to predict the weather but not understand the times. While we should hold our timelines loosely, it is not sin to think through one. Jesus expects us to be aware of what’s going on. We should be careful to not have it cause undue division within the church or play guessing games that force current events into our timeline. Having an idea of a timeline is part of having an answer for the hope that is within us.

Allegorical vs Literal
This seems to be the real crux of the problem and worthy of a post. Briefly stated, I don’t think end times passages are allegories about good vs evil and that the Gospel is social justice. Such is a massive misunderstanding of the Gospel and the nature of God. (I also believe that Christians have wrongly viewed the Gospel as divorced from social justice.) I do believe that end times passages often describe the indescribable and should be approached with an air of humility, not certitude, when taking a literal approach to Scripture.

The bottom line:
How we view ‘death’ determines how we view life. In things I’ve seen or heard recently it seems there is an overreaction to those who emphasize teachings on the end times. However, it is a significant aspect to the Bible, Jesus and the apostles taught on it, and ignoring it is not an option. Like so much in life, we need discernment.

Life & Religious Freedom vs Connivence

The news of late stands as alarming. Given an issue with a nonprofit wanting to stop funding for planned parent hood, the healthcare mandate on contraception, churches not being able to meet in public schools when such are not in session, small groups not allowed to meet in homes, it should give one pause. Life and freedom are fragile things.

Life
A society is measured by how it treats life. What concerns me about discussions of late is how pregnancy is treated. To be frank let me say this: Children are not pets. Life should be celebrated regardless of where it comes from. While I believe abortive contraception is wrong, the issue isn’t contraception. The issue is how we as a society view life. Are we at the point where life is only ok when it’s convenient? Societies have often found themselves on this slippery slope and millions die as a result.

Jesus died for all sin. Abortion is no doubt a sensitive topic often treated without grace. At the same time it must be clearly stated that all life is precious. If life is only precious through the lens of connivence, then as a society we’re in very dangerous territory. We fight for life when cancer is involved but as a society fall silent when birth is involved. It seems the greatest sin in our society is being inconvenienced.

Religious Freedom
A society is also measured by how it handles religious freedom. Religion has been the cause of war and discrimination. It has also been the cause for equality and life. By stating religion I’m including atheism as a religion as its system of belief and practice, as it’s fallout is like that of other religions. A war on religion is a war on freedom itself. For once a society tries to control religion tyranny is close at hand.

Having baptistic beliefs, I’m a firm believer in individual soul liberty. The first amendment was largely promoted by Baptists. In Virginia Baptists preachers, a minority, were thrown into prison for preaching without a license. Individual soul liberty means one has the choice of what religion they are to follow and should not be coerced into a system of beliefs, such as the Anglican or catholic church. This was a reaction to religious intolerance of the old world.

Interestingly, freedom of religion isn’t convenient. Nor is the freedom of assembly convenient. The first amendment is a foundational principle to freedom and our country. Without it we’re left with tyranny which is sadly already taking root. Our society does not, nor should it grant the right of freedom from religion. Given actions of late, however, one wonders what direction we shall take. If I were the press I’d be worried, for if religion and assembly are hindered, freedom of the press could be next.

The bottom line:
Are we a society willing to give up freedom at the altar of connivence? We’re constantly sacrificing morality in the name of freedom, but freedom is fast being sacrificed as well. What will we do when suddenly tyranny ceases to be convenient and we already gave up the freedoms that help keep tyranny in check?

1st Anniversary of twoznek.com: What I love…

It’s hard to believe that this blog project is a year old now! The best advice on blogging: write what you’re passionate about. One area I infrequently mention is a huge passion of mine: Kelly. The Bible guides us to live with our wife in an understanding way. I respect her wish to stay out of the lime light, and will probably get an eye roll for writing this. So, on the one year anniversary of this blog, here is a glimpse into the love of my life.

Joy
Kelly brings lavish amounts of joy into our house. She helps us boyz enjoy the little things, love each other and play. There is no greater gift a wife can bring than joy. Life in the Woznek house, both in good and challenging times, is a delight from the radiance she brings.

Elegance
There is a charm and refinement to our family because of my love. From incredibly detailed birthday cakes and cards, to graceful Thomas track layouts and “You’re not wearing that are you?” Kelly makes us boyz look good and she delights in it. Her quiet spirit lacks no playfulness. In her innocence, don’t think she didn’t play the prank on you. Kelly makes even the simplest things seem like art.

Hugs
I love holding Kelly. I love watching her hold our boyz. I love times we sit by the fire, or on the couch reading. I love lazy days off when we’re all in our PJ’s cuddling together and laughing. I love the warmth Kelly brings by just being in the room. The softness of her voice, the melody of her laugh and just her presence is unlike anything on Earth.

The bottom line:
I’m head over heels in love with Kelly! God was gracious for allowing me to be with her. This is just a glimpse. Her love of God, her faith, her courage, her dreams, her entire life I adore. She embodies learning and living. Kelly makes life a dream come true.

Manic Monday: Appreciate the little things…

Monday is a huge day in my household. It’s garbage truck day… Seriously.

I smile at people’s reaction to what has become bigger than football at our house. (Of note pretty much anything that makes your kids smile makes you smile- other than fine china being dropped and shattering in slow motion.) The oft-repeated phrase “you need a life.” is stated. Ok, here’s the lesson…

Kids appreciate the little things in life. What we take for granted, they see as wonders of science. The garbage truck has what every boy loves: horsepower, noise, banging sounds and it’s big. (The garbage truck is also a significant support actor in the movie Toy Story 3,)

Imagine a world without garbage trucks, plumbing, electricity or Toy Story 3, and you’ll gain an appreciation for what we consider a little thing in life.

(especially on Monday)

Why not Wednesday? Define and protect what’s #1

A comment by Lance Armstrong, on politics, stood out to me. Reading the morning news, I stumbled upon a USAToday article about Retirement 2.0. They asked Lance about his political ambitions. Below is the quote:

… A second career in politics someday does not seem out of the question.

“I don’t think so. I get asked that question a lot. It’s a job. It’s probably many times a thankless job. … If I were to run for any kind of office, it’s impossible or very difficult to run right down the middle,” he said.

“I would have to immediately alienate half of our constituents: ‘Wait a minute, we thought this guy was a Republican. Wait a minute, we thought he was a Democrat.’ I think the effect there would be a negative effect for the foundation. For now, absolutely not on my radar.”

Lance’s response is great in many respects and something we can learn from.

  1. Demonstration of respect for politics and their job.
  2. Communication of the nature and reality of politics.
  3. Clarification on what is most important.

I believe people should be well-educated and informed about politics. I also believe people engage actively  in politics. At the same time we must show discernment about what takes the public stage in our lives. Ponder this question:

Is there something so important in your life that other needed and important things take a back seat?

The bottom line:
I think there is something we can learn from Lance’s response. I love politics and keeping up on current events. But, for me, a person’s soul is more important. Increasingly I’ve backed away from politics, save a couple of close friends. Privately I am engaged, publicly the missions of the church is #1.

Retirement article from USAToday:
http://www.usatoday.com/sports/cycling/2011-02-16-armstrong-retirement_N.htm

Manic Monday: A return to story

Story is everything. It captures. It captivates. Throughout history, story carries knowledge and teaching above any other medium. Story and narrative carries what a bullet point, an outline or a technical guide cannot.

In a view documentaries about Pixar one key point stands out: Story is everything. Pixar’s successes clearly shows this.

For Christians we struggle with the concept of story. This is interesting since the primary genre in the Bible is narrative. Even the New Testament letters are a pieces of a greater story. I think the issue is being overtly Christian.

There seems to be an unwritten law that to be a Christian story-teller one needs to have a conversion or a distinct struggle and return to God. This comes from two things: 1) We have a distinct message we must carry out. 2) We are very passionate about that message from our own encounter with it.

Mission, or the carrying of our most important message, has both an overt and a covert aspect. Overtly it is the clear presentation and proclamation of what we believe. Covertly it is being in the world and not of it. We fear that being “covert” violates proclaiming our most essential message or being off mission. It is not. The idea seems more spy like- its most frequent usage- instead of the other aspect of covert- not openly displaying something.

We need more covert stories. Story for story’s sake, or art for the sake of art. Here is the concept of being in the world but not of it:

The best person to reach teenagers is a teenager.
The best person to reach a musician is a musician.
The best person to reach lawyers is a lawyer.
The best person to reach a writer?

Being covert- doing life with people- allows builds credibility to share what is most important. It’s allowing people to see our story, our faults and successes, and in God’s timing the core of our story.

The best part of story is if forces us to look at, examine and engage life. More than the highs and lows of life, story deals with dreams, the little things and all that makes life a gift from God. For inspiration for story beyond overt struggle with or conversion  to God one only needs to look at Proverbs. Proverbs deals with the “other” issues of life.

There is a place for overt communication of the Gospel. Even with that urgency there is a place to write about the other aspects of this gift of life God gave us.

What’s your story? We need more story tellers.

(especially on Monday)

Why not Wednesday? Less if more

We often say life is a marathon, but we lose sight of that. I am again reminded that life is more about pacing and that sprinting should happen in brief moments. If not, we get ourselves into a sprint crash burn recover, repeat frequently pattern.

God gave us 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to accomplish His will. If we constantly have more to do than we can get done, something isn’t God’s will for us. Think of it this way.

There are 168 hours a week…

To be healthy, God designed an on average need of 8 hours of sleep: 56 hours.

There are now 112 hours a week…

Getting dressed, ready for bed an other needs, let’s say about 2 hours a day: 14 hours.

There are now 98 hours a week… 14 hours a day.

God created the Sabbath for man. It was a day of rest. OT worship largely accomplished during the festivals. At 98 hours a week, or 14 hours a day, 14 hours focused on sabbath…

There are now 84 hours a week…

We need God, relationships, work, rest, leisure…

God designed us to need these things. We’re learning more and more and a non-stop, little sleep, high stressed life style leads to significant health issues: cancer, heart disease, premature aging, chronic fatigue, migraines, etc. All of these things affect our relationships not only with God, but family, co-workers, friends, and people we come in contact with. It’s hard to be a blessing when we are stressed.

The bottom line:
God gave us 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to accomplish His will. Less is more.

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” ~ The Apostle Paul

Linx & Stuff

The Bible says to rejoice with those who rejoice. A good friend of mine, Brian C. Jacobs, is getting to enjoy a dream of his. He recently published his first book: The Enigma Squad: The Case of the Old Man in the Mailbox. Brian dreams for this to be the first in an adventure series called The Enigma Squad.

Reading is important for children. It builds thought, imagination and learning. The Enigma Squad I hope builds and grows an audience. I’ve worked with Brian on a few creative projects. Brian excels at creativity and story telling.

To my friend, Brian: Congratulations & Dream big! As my boys grow older, I hope to one day by a box set of Enigma Squad books for my boys.

If you appreciate reading and know kids who enjoy adventure, check out the links below. What a better way to enjoy Christmas than to sit by the fire and read to your children.

http://enigmasquad.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Enigma-Squad-Case-Old-Mailbox/dp/0984165886/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1292005929&sr=1-1

http://www.facebook.com/enigmasquad

http://twitter.com/#!/BrianCJacobs