Who hasn’t learned that our human promises are usually pretty flimsy? We promise many things, often with the best of intentions, yet so many of them come up far short. “This product comes with a lifetime guarantee…” but the company did go out of business two months after we bought it. But when God makes a promise, he keeps it. He is the only one in the universe who is the totally loyal and reliable promise keeper. So what is it that he actually promises?
This time around I’m hanging out at an Assemblies of God church in Springfield, Missouri with Pastor Saehee Duran. This church, called Life360 Church, is built with the Gospel and the immigrant community in mind. I’ve never been to a church like this, and I suspect you’ll find it as compelling as I did.
God is worth his word being read, interpreted, and applied well. If you doubt that for a moment, then I recommend reading through Psalm 119 in its entirety. Even if you are convinced of God’s worth and the sufficiency of his word you have likely at times, like me, approached scripture with a faulty perspective. There are numerous ways to veer off track from faithful engagement with scripture; however, there are five common mindsets that will certainly miss the mark.
We are often told there are times we need to “cut our losses.” For example, if you’ve invested in a losing stock, there’s a point at which you may decide it’s better to get out at a loss than to continue to bleed more money. Athletes know all too well that it may often be better to punt the ball than go for it on the fourth down. In chess, losing a pawn beats losing your king any day. And in a battle with limited resources, it may be wiser to give up fighting for a smaller territory in order to focus your resources on defending your capital city. We all nod instinctively about the immeasurable wisdom gained from these failures. The only problem is that even with this knowledge about losing, we want absolutely nothing to do with it!
I have never been part of a church that did it, but I’ve often heard about workshops or classes that purport to help believers discover what their spiritual gift might be. There seem to be certain assumptions about the practice, but I wonder if they are borne out by looking at the relevant passages. The New Testament has a couple of sections that discuss spiritual gifts, but I want to focus on the one in Romans 12 because it gives us important pointers on how to think about spiritual gifts.
At the age of nineteen, he contracted smallpox but survived. His father died when he was eleven. While on a surveying trip, his straw bedding caught fire as he slept. Fortunately, a fellow surveyor doused the blaze. He was chosen as major and district adjutant of Virginia’s colonial troops at the age of twenty-one and commissioned to deliver an ultimatum to a French commander—a duty that entailed a hazardous, wintertime, wilderness trip.
Have you ever been stalked by someone in the church or by a random person on the Internet? Okay, all of us are guilty of having stalked someone by using our best sleuthing technological skills. Hopefully, we’re not all-out weirdos. But stalking your pastor, the pastor’s wife, the pastor’s family, or anyone else in the church or on the Internet goes beyond the usual fallen human being’s status.