Sloth: Robs the World of You, and You of Life

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On Sunday we looked at the sin of sloth. At first glance this doesn’t seem like a sin at all. I mean, is God really against rest and relaxation? Clearly he isn’t, because he commands us to rest. I think the point of the sin of sloth is actually a refusal to respond to God’s calling in the world. Being slothful is not about resting, but refusing to enter the world in God’s way. Sloth is not physical laziness, but at its core it’s spiritual laziness to take God’s calling seriously. It’s not about resting but not following God when he asks us. The world is bursting with God-given possiblites, and sloth is saying no, staying in bed, making excuses, and not taking responsibility. That’s what the sin of sloth is. And that’s also why it’s deadly.

If sloth is saying no to God; then being slothful severs your connection with God, and robs the world of how God wants to use you. You are needed in the world, you have a particular makeup, gifting, and personality that God wants to use. Saying no to him, robs the world of a gift that only you can bring. This is why it is serious and damaging. It hurts our relationship with God, and hurts the world by us refusing to enter into it.

So we looked at how in Proverbs there are at least three reasons why we choose to be slothful. Sometimes it’s out of pride and ego. We only engage if we are in charge and recognized. We don’t serve unless we are leading, taking point, or given a title. Sometimes we don’t engage because of fear. We worry, make excuses, and focus more on the possibility of failure than being faithful. And sometimes it’s just pure self-interest. We don’t take resposniblty for ourselves or our calling and simply pass the buck.

We ended with realizing that this is a serious sin, and it has nothing to do with resting or relaxing. We can easily be busy and hardworking and still slothful – still refusing to say yes to God’s invitation to change the world. So we ended off with a challenge. A challenge to take time away this week to rest and relax and reflect on three questions:

  1. Is there anything in our lives hindering us from saying yes to God? Are we too busy, too fearful, too prideful, too….whatever. Is there anything that is stopping us from truly following God, and if so, we need to deal with it.
  2. How are we investing in our relationship with God? If being slothful is not responding to God, that assumes a relationship with God. So are we investing in that relationship?
  3. Have we neglected any important relationships? Being slothful is often about neglecting those God-gvien responsibilities. So have we  been slothful in our marriage, in our parenting, or in our relationships? And if so, how can we invest in them.

So that’s what we explored and learned. Being slothful isn’t about rest, but refusal of God. A semi-ironic ending is that closed the service challenging people to actually take some rest this week, and reflect on those questions. Who would have guessed a sermon on slothfulness actually encouraged rest and reflection?

 

Teaching Notes:

Big Idea Being slothful robs the world of you, and it robs you of life.

Take Aways…

  • As the door turns on its hinges so a sluggard turns on the bed. Proverbs 26:14
  • The lazy person is full of excuse, saying “I can’t go outside because there might be a lion on the road! Yes, I’m sure there’s a lion out there!” Proverbs 26:13
  • The sluggard buries his hand in the dish, But will not even bring it back to his mouth. Proverbs 19:24
  • God is not anti-rest.
  • The sin of sloth is really a refusal to enter into the world around us
  • Sloth is not physical laziness, but at its core its spiritual laziness to take God’s calling seriously
  • Sloth is saying no to the world and no to God.
  • All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. Edmund Burke
  • The world needs you.
  • Roots of Sloth: Ego, Fear, and Self-Centredness
  • Being a sloth or a sluggard robs the world of you, and it robs you of life.
  • Is there anything stopping you from joining in with God in the world?
  • How can you this week attend to your spiritual life?
  • “Sloth has come to be synonymous with physical laziness, but he original greek word acedia has a rather different meaning. Acedia is spiritual listlessness or laziness. It is the antithesis of worship. Sloth is the neglect of the greatest commandment: to love your lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” Michael Mangis
  • Is there any relationship we are not attending to?

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?

Have you ever thought about Sloth in this way? What was different or new about this perspective? Would you say that Sloth is something you struggle with? What is God’s calling on your life? What is he asking you to say yes to him with now? Who can help you to say yes to him?

Discussion Questions / Actions for Young Families: Today talk to your kids about the sin of sloth. Talk to them how its not about being lazy, but not being responsible. Talk to them about what they are responsible for (i.e. cleaning up toys, doing dishes, etc). Ask them why its important to do those things. Then talk to them about how we each are unique and have special gifts to give. Use this as a time to share with each of them what you see as their unique gift to give to the world.

Challenge for this Week: Reflect on the three question in a time of rest

Morning Prayer for Times of Transition and Change

1427667_31525848This was my prayer this morning:

God there is much before me, and much unknown. But you are also before me, help me to find you, and find your way.

Today is my first day without my friend and co-pastor Dave here at the church. He’s been called up north to continue his really wonderful relational ministry there. That leaves a large hole, or many different holes here to fill.

So as I was praying this morning and looking forward I realized that there is a lot of unknowns before not only me but also the church right now. What if we don’t find the right person? What if I make mistakes as I lead? What if in the transition I unintentionally hurt someone or miss something? There are a lot of “what if’s” whenever things change.

But as I prayed I realized something – even though a lot is unknown, there are a lot of potential pitfalls, and mistakes will surely be made (we are all human after all). One thing is sure. God is also before us. God is also leading us. God is also with us.

So even amidst change, transition, and uncertainty – I don’t believe we need to be fearful. Instead I think our call is simply to remain faithful. Faithful to God, and faithful to one another.

Because I really believe one thing is certain ~ God is before us. And if we look for him we will find him, and find his way for us.

So whatever today you might be facing, whatever uncertainty wonderings, or difficult futures I think the point is the same for you. God is before you, search and find him, follow him and he will get you through. The way may not be clear now, but the calling is: finding God and following God.

So may you do that this morning, and maybe even pray my morning prayer with me:

God there is much before me, and much unknown. But you are also before me, help me to find you, and find your way.

Amen.

Planting Life

On Sunday we looked at how people like Jesus but don’t really like the church. We looked at how our posture (way of relating, interacting, and responding) to the world needs to be the same as Jesus’.

We first looked at how our posture isn’t called to be one of judgment. Jesus is clear he came to seek and save the lost, not condemn the world (John 3:16-17). So a posture of judgment isn’t to be a primary posture towards those around us. We also looked at the posture of separation, where we remove ourselves from the world. And while we are certainly called to live lives of difference, we are not called to live lives of isolation. We are called to engage the world, and to be sent into the world. And lastly, we looked at a posture of accommodation, where we no longer seem to have any distinctives at all.

We discussed how all of these postures don’t seem to the one that Jesus had. That we are not called to judge, ignore, or simply accept the world around us. We are actually called to bless the world. We went back to Genesis 12 and discovered that the first covenant with God and his people is to be a blessing. Our posture, stance, and response to those around us must be blessing. This is our calling,

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s Christians should be known for how we bless others. This is what I hope our church is known for. Not what we stand against, for our separation, or accommodation but for our continuous acts of blessing.

We ended by explaining what blessing means. How, in Hebrew, it literally means to give life. I think this is an easier thing for us to practically understand and practice. We, as Christians, are to give life to those around us in simple, and real ways. This means shoveling driveways, inviting people over, and caring for others in simple and intentional ways. Christians should be people whom others want to be around because of how life-giving we are.

So that was our call and challenge this week: to go give life to those around us. And I think if we get this posture right, we might just also change people’s perceptions of the church as we adopt the posture of Jesus Christ.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea Our posture is to be life Giving

Take Aways…

  • If people are drawn to Jesus, they should be drawn to the church
  • Posture actually conveys more than our words ever do
  • A posture of judgment rarely communicates the heart of Christianity
  • We are called to be different to live lives of difference
  • God is going to use a people, not a program to change the world
  • We will not change the world through our judgment, through our separation, or through or simple accommodation we will change it through our blessing.
  • Barak (Blessing) : means to give life
  • We make our friends; we makes our enemies; but God makes our next-door neighbor. G.K. Chesterton
  • Our posture is to be life giving.
  • What can I do that would be life-giving for those around me.

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?

How has someone blessing you changed you? What is your posture to those who are around you? Would you say its one of judgment, separation, accommodation, or blessing? How come? How can you give life to those around you? What about you neighbor, co-worker, or friends?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Take a moment to talk to your kids about how we are to be blessing. Tell them we are to help others feel happy and full of joy, and life. Ask them if they have any ideas how they can do that for their friends. Then go about and do it!

Challenge for this Week: Be a blessing to those around you

My Daddy Fights Monsters for a Living : A Pastor’s Job Description

IMG_2978A couple of days ago I asked Hudson, “What Does Daddy do for a job.” He thought about it for a while and said to me, “Sermons…and hmm….fight monsters.” It’s at moments like this that I love my son. He’s so amazing, surprising, and so absolutely right.

That’s correct – he is right – I write sermons and fight monsters for a living. I think that’s a pretty concise explanation of my job as a pastor. And here is why Hudson is right.

I asked him why he said that daddy fights monsters, and here was his answer. “Because you work for God daddy. And God fights all the monsters in my room, he keeps me safe, he gives me good sleep. You work with God, so you fight monsters too.”  Hudson thought that since I work for God, I must do the things that God does. Which of course in his mind is mostly keeping him safe, fighting away the monsters of the world, and being his friend. That is actually a pretty good description of what God is up to in this world. I’ve read a lot of worse ones actually.

The point is this, for Hudson, those who follow God should be doing the same things as God. And this is why he’s brilliant and grasped something most Christians seem to forget – that God’s mission is our mission. Hudson might be using the language of a three-year old but it is true nonetheless. Christians need to be following God in what he is doing in the world. To follow Jesus, means to live and love like Jesus in this world. If God is fighting monsters, Christians need to be fighting monsters. If God is about grace, Christians need to be about grace. If God is about justice we need to be about justice. If God is about blessing, hospitality and life, we need to be about hospitality, life, and blessing.

Hudson simply intuitively gets that if we are following someone, we need to live like them. So my question for you is simple: are you living like Jesus in this world? Are you partnering with what he is doing in this world? Are you actively giving life, grace, hope, and seeking justice and his Kingdom?

Because regardless of where you work, as Christians, our calling is the same, to live like Jesus in this world. That means doing the same things that Jesus did, that means following the Spirit in his activity, that means working for the plans of the Father.  Christians are called to live like Christ.

So this week live like Jesus, and get involved in what he is doing in the world. And don’t forget to “fight monsters” too 😉

Grace and peace

 

New Futures and New Hope for All

1224442_75255610On Sunday we explored one of my favorite stories, the calling of Abram and Sarai. What happens is God comes to this couple Abram and Sarai and changes their future. In the story the line of Abraham is coming to a close. Sarai is barren and the future for their family is closed. They are in a dark and difficult place. But this is when God chooses to act.

God calls this couple, this unlikely pair, these people to a new future that would change the world. From the outside Abram and Sarai are not people with lots of potential, or promise. These would not be the people most people would choose to change the world with. But thankfully God chooses a different sort of people – not put together perfect people – but broken and barren people so his goodness can be seen. He uses ordinary regular people like you and me.

And God gives Abram and Sarai a new promise and a new future and they believe it and start to follow it. Through this belief God changes the world. Through their following God changes their future. Through their hope God changes them.

This was the point for us – that we follow a God who can change our futures. Your future is not dependant on your age, gender, education, race, finances, or anything else. Your future is dependent on God; the same God who gave a new future to Abram and Sarai and wants to give us one as well.

So we ended with inviting everyone to begin to hope. To hope in a new future, one in which depression, addiction, purposelessness, anxiety, or boredom doesn’t rule. One in which God sets us free for what he has for us. We challenged one another to start to hope and to start to follow. Listen for God and start to follow him like Abram. I have no idea how your situation and future will change. I know though who will change it – God. So begin to hope and trust him and see where he might lead. Because God is in the business of giving a new future and opening up closed ones. I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s something that gives me hope.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea God changes our futures

Take Aways…

  • God is involved in real peoples lives, with real struggles
  • This family begins its life in a situation of irreparable hopelessness. Walter Bruggeman talking about Abraham.
  • God is in the business of changing already pre-determined fates
  • They are called to leave behind their country, family, and father’s household
  • Abram lives in a world where life cycles, and repeats, and is destined
  • We base our futures on our past rather than the promises of God
  • Abram goes forward with “eyes close” – John Calvin
  • Your future is not determined by your birth, education, race, gender, skill-set, finances, health, or your parents, Your future is determined by God.
  • I don’t know how our futures change, but I know who changes our futures
  • We follow the God of the limitless future.
  • Start to hope and start to follow
  • My God is a God of new futures

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it?

Have you ever been tempted to believe that your future was set? How come? What future might God be calling you to? Do you have a sense of the next steps to take? How can you ensure that you don’t lose hope in God’s future? Who can support you as you walk towards God’s future? Who can you support?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Take sometime to talk with your kids about how with God the world is open. How their future’s are open because of what God wants to do in and through them. Ask them what they think God is calling them to do in the future. Listen really listen, and then no matter how big, decide on one step to take to get them there and take it.

Challenge for this Week: Start to hope and start to follow