Justice, Mercy, Humility and Ferguson

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Dustin Nickerson is a former children’s pastor who is bursting on to the standup comedy scene. He is a great friend, deep thinker and keen observer of life. For more about Dustin check out his site http://www.dustinnickerson.com/

Ferguson reminds me (maybe us, are we officially an us yet?) of our great desires for both peace and justice. We want this for ourselves and in our best moments, we want it for others even more so.

But we are broken people living amongst brokenness. We see this now as tragedy leads to more tragedy. We see this now as we rush to make our conclusions on the events that happened and how exactly we think others should respond.

People riot, some out of desperation and some for selfish gain. People protest, some out of a desire to bring others down, and some out of the righteous desire to pursue justice.

Simultaneously, some people will dismiss these events, blaming the media for an over inflation of tragic narrative. Some will look to the protesters and rioters and call them fools, disregarding that perhaps their actions are the best way they know how to pursue justice in a trying time. Some people will make these events about something they are not, meanwhile, others will oversimplify.

The Spiritual Discipline of Gratitude  

There are many disciplines in the Christian life. When you start to quantify them you usually get into trouble. Of all the disciplines that can be practiced and demonstrated in the Christian life I believe Gratitude is the singe most important discipline. Gratitude is the byproduct of something we can’t produce ourselves. Gratitude is something we feel when we have been given what we don’t deserve. Gratitude happens when we experience grace and it happens with regularity when we understand grace. Gratitude strikes at the heart of the gospel. If you have ever been to a sporting even in the past 40 years you would have seen the large happy fan of any given team holding up a sign that says John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he Gave….” Gratitude is us understanding what we have been given and receiving it with joy.

Will you go to hell for smoking marijuana?

We like to put things in boxes. We like tidy answers. Will you go to hell for smoking weed? No. Should you smoke weed? No. Many parents are going to have to start figuring out what they believe about marijuana. Most states that have legalized it have set the legal age at 21 which is wise.

Here is why I think legalizing marijuana is a bad idea.

  1. Wider use and acceptance. The legal age is 21 but so is alcohol and go to any High School party, college campus alcohol is everywhere. Is weed in these places now? Yes. But legalization will make it far worse believe me.
  2. People typically smoke it to get high to alter conscience
  3. I believe that the “drunk with alcohol” scriptures apply to “getting high on drugs”

How the Catechism keeps us from bad theology

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Kevin DeYoung in his fantastic devotional exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism explains the threefold outline of the Catechism in such a concise and profound way.

Question one of the Catechism shapes our whole existence. The first thing we need to know as a Christian is that we belong to Jesus and not to ourselves. But it doesn’t help much to know all about comfort and joy if we don’t know what is required to live and die in this comfort and joy. Belonging to Jesus and not ourselves means knowing three things: guilt, grace, and gratitude. The rest of the Catechism will follow this threefold outline.

First, we understand our sin. Then we understand salvation. And finally we understand how we are sanctified to serve. All three things are necessary. If we don’t know about our sin – which brings a true sense of guilt – we will be too confident in our abilities to do right and make the world a better place. We will ignore our most fundamental problem, which is not lack of education, or lack of opportunity, or lack of resources but sin and its attendant misery. But if we don’t know how we are set free from this sin and misery – which comes through God’s grace – we will try to fix ourselves in futility or give up altogether in despair. And if we don’t know how to thank God, showing gratitude for such deliverance, we will live in a self-centered, self-referential bubble, which is not why God saved us from our sin and misery in the first place. If Christians would hold all “three things” and not just one or two, we would be saved from a lot of poor theology and bad ideas. – Kevin DeYoung

As I am walking our own children through the Catechism I find myself convicted and moved to worship and the beauty and majesty of the truths it holds. If you are a parent looking for a great devotional check out “The Good News We Almost Forgot.” It is written to be read as a weekly devotional but can be read as frequently as you desire I read it all as quick as I could. Such a great book. Highly recommend it. If you are a fan of the Catechism this book will deepen your love for it. If you are skeptical or new to the Catechism it’s worth checking out.

Youth Culture and the New Relevance

christianity_orthodoxy_1920x1080Having served in kids ministry for 15 years and working in youth ministry for much of that time, it seems there has come a shift.  There has been a shift is our country as well as the Christian subculture.

You will often hear cultural experts talking about kids leaving their faith and how these kids need to be reached. We need to stem the rising tide. In our eagerness to solve this dilemma, we are making the wrong conclusions. We think the problem is a lack of relevance. We think our faith is not “hip” enough for the kids. So we create these algorithms of success that sounds like this: cool music + awesome lights + the perfect amount of fog = Jesus might be ok after all. Lights and music aren’t the problem it’s that we have prescribed the wrong medication. We have misapplied relevance and have actually given kids more of what they don’t need and less of what they are actually looking for.