10 Commandments as a Response

Right now, Katie and I are reading through the Bible in 90 days and today I’m starting Deuteronomy. I’m a little behind so I should’ve started Deuteronomy yesterday, but I’ll make up for it.

In Deuteronomy 5, the 10 commandments are given again. One of the things I appreciate about Deuteronomy is that it is a recap of sorts of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers.

For many, the 10 commandments are seen as what makes a good person. Many Americans believe if you follow the 10 commandments, you’ll go to heaven. They are a standard many set for themselves.

In reality, the 10 commandments are God’s design for how his followers, specifically in the nation of Israel in Exodus and Deuteromony will live with other and with God. As slaves in Egypt in the book of Exodus, they were told how to live, when to eat, when to rest. They didn’t know how to do this on their own. God gives them guidelines on how to do this.

Many think the 10 commandments are more slavery, in fact, the nation of Israel falls into sin so often they seem to think God was trying to bring them back into bondage and that they knew better. This plays out a lot in our lives as well. Every time we take matters into our own hands, go our way, it usually leads to disaster because it starts with what we want instead of what God wants.

Here’s the thing in Deuteronomy though, it starts in vs. 6 of chapter 5, and before saying what the commandments are, God reminds them of who he is, who they were, what he has done to rescue them. The 10 commandments are to be a response of gratitude, humility and worship for their redemption. Not more slavery.

I think this provides a great lens for following Jesus. The commands in scripture are found in the context of: this is who God is, this is who you were before being rescued, this is who you are now that you are rescued, now respond by obeying the one who rescued you.

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The God Who Keeps His Promises

I’m reading the Bible in a year plan that goes chronologically. I will admit, I am in a tough patch to keep moving. Going through Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy in order is tough going at moments. I’ve learned to look for anything that could jump out in the midst of laws, measurements, sacrifices and what seems like endless lists of names. It is a good practice because it definitely forces your attenaes to be up in terms of what God is saying.

Today I started Deuteronomy, I am heading into the home stretch of the books of Moses and the journey to the promised land. Hidden, maybe that is the wrong word since it isn’t hidden is verse 10 of chapter 1 that says, “The Lord your God has multiplied you, and behold, you are today as numerous as the stars of heaven.” Without any context it could be seen that Moses is simply stating there are a lot of Israelites.

Except, in Genesis 15:5 God told Abraham that his offspring would number the stars in the sky.

It took more than one lifetime, in fact several. Hundreds of years passed, but God kept his promise. For many of us, at least for me, I feel God taking me in a certain direction, clearly telling me to take a step of faith, do something. I do it, and nothing. Immediately, frustration and doubt set in. Hidden in Deuteronomy is the promise that God keeps his promises.

Whatever God has called you to, be faithful because he will keep his promise. When you have a hard time following the commands of Scripture, it makes life difficult, people don’t understand or make fun of you, stick with it because he will keep his promise.

Today, rest in the reality that there is a God in heaven who keeps his promises.

Go for the Heart (Some Thoughts on Disciplining Kids)

Discipline is a dicey topic. Everyone has an opinion on what is best and what does not work. Debates rage about whether or not to spank a child, whether or not to discipline at all. The list goes on and on. Do you put a child in time out? Ground them? Let it go? Every expert and parent, grandparent, friend, and the mailman all have an opinion.

Here is the problem with discipline and how we do it: we go after the wrong thing.

This past weekend at Revolution, I talked about the ultimate goal of parenting. Many people parent that says the ultimate goal of parenting is to make your kids into upstanding, good citizens. Or to make them act like a Christian, to attend church. Scripture says that life has a different goal. That God is more concerned with our hearts than he is with our behaviors, because out of our heart comes our behavior (Luke 6).

This break from scripture is seen really clearly when it comes to how we discipline our kids. Whether you believe in spanking, grounding or whatever your plan is, I don’t want to get into that. I want to get into your goal. Often, when a child does something wrong, we correct them and say something like, “Don’t do that again, do this.” This is called redirection. What have we just done? We have told them how to behave, but if Scripture is right (and I find that it is right on), changing our behavior won’t do any good because if our heart doesn’t change, eventually we will sin again.

In our culture, we start from the premise that man is basically good. We believe that our kids deep down are good and want to do the right thing. They don’t. Deep down, like the rest of us, they want to sin. Unless the gospel changes them, they will keep on sinning because their heart will not be changed.

It is not enough to just get them to do the right thing instead of the wrong thing, we must strive to make the gospel so attractive that they want to the gospel and their hearts are changed.

For example, often when a child misbehaves or doesn’t listen we say, “By the time I count to 3, you need to get in your seat.” We have just taught them they can misbehave until we count to 3. We have not taught them that they need to listen the first time. We have focused on behavior instead of changing their heart. When we focus on changing their heart with the gospel, we talk about why they need to listen to mom and dad, why God commands them to be obedient and how they need God’s help to do that.

I am finding that as Katie and I learn more and more about being gospel centered parents, how it changes your thinking. It changes how you scold, and talk with your kids. You focus on their hearts and not their behavior.

The Lost Art of Community: Rediscovering the Neighborhood

Today was part 3 in our series The lost art of communityFor the last 2 weeks I have been making a case that we are designed for community and the sacrifice that community will take to have it. 

Today I layed out how we are going to do community at Beginnings.  What happens in most churches when it comes to small groups is that we put people together based on their life stage.  How long have they been married?  Do they have any kids, what ages?  Are they single?  Divorced?  Widowed?  Empty nesters?  We do the same with kids.  We have kids & student ministries, which I am totally for, since I made a living working with students for 10 years. 

The problem lies in the fact, that what I just described appears nowhere in the Bible.  In Deuteronomy 6, Moses talks about what is to be taught to children when it comes to God and spirituality.  The Old Testament was written to and for a community.  So while these verses are for parents, they are also for everyone else in the community. 

At Beginnings, we decided that we would do community through geographic location instead of life stage.  So we are asking people to go to the small group that meets closest to them.  We are also including kids instead of getting childcare.  In fact, in our 2nd gathering on Sundays, we have the elementary age kids in the gathering with us.  The question is often raised, doesn’t this get messy and difficult to do?  The answer, yes.  Often, we want community to look like this.  When in fact, community, when we actually get it right looks more like this

It was weird laying out this plan today.  It sounds so “Mayberryish” to say that you should know your neighbors and create community where you live.  I was talking with someone you had this opinion and said, “It just seems backwards.”  While it might, that doesn’t make it wrong.  Because we are so new into living the way that we are right now, it is a shift from the agricultural lifestyle that has been lived since the beginning of time.  Because it sounds backwards, doesn’t make it wrong.  As Katie and I have made changes to our lives, it is has been interesting to see how it feels.  Seeing our neighbors, not working in the evenings, taking walks through the neighborhood, getting to know people, eating together.  It is different, but so far, it feels pretty good.  I think it is worth the experiment.

When it comes to community and passing our faith on, it is primarily the responsibity of the parents, but everyone in the community plays a part.  As we talked about this, I kept thinking of the groups that would come out of our church.  I imagined people sitting around a table, ranging in age from birth through retired.  Sharing a meal, telling stories, laughing, crying, listening to each other, giving advice, spurring each other on, basically doing life together.  The common denominator for community for us is simply where we live.  It seems like the most natural place for community to take place.  It is one of the places that we spend the most time in, and our hope is that the compaint, “I don’t have time for community” or “There isn’t a small group near me” won’t exist. 

You can read here & here to see where most of these ideas came from.  You can click here to read the thoughts of others at our discussion blog & click here to listen to the message if you missed it.

The Lost Art of Community: Crowded Loneliness

Today was the first day in our series The lost art of community.  I was really excited about today, I could hardly sleep last night.  I got to take a much needed break this past month, but it was awesome being back on my stool and speaking on sunday mornings.  Today was also the first day of having 2 services.  So I am a little tired.

The band did an awesome job today.  I was thinking today, if you told me in college that I would lead a church that did a Green Day & a U2 song in the same day, I would not have believed you.  It was awesome.  Way to rock out guys.

Today we talked about how from the beginning of creation, we are wired for community.  I came across a lot of medical studies that show being in community leads to a healthier life.  In fact, if you live outside of community, you actually are more likely to die than those who live in community.  You can listen to the message to hear more of what I shared.  This explains why we crave relationships and the ache that we feel from loneliness.  It is not by accident, but because we are wired that way.

Today was also the beginning for signing up for small groups.  We had over 20 families/couples/singles sign up to be in a small group.  That is awesome.  I think a lot of great things are going to be happening as we move to having small groups within our church.  Overall, a great day.