Knowing that William (our eldest) has “words of affirmation” as his love language, what better way to honor and praise him than through a video full of affirmation?  So, I  dug through our archives and pulled out one of the greatest literary masterpieces of all time: Dr. Seuss’, Oh, The Places You Will Go.

How many kids possess their own personal reading?–set to music?!



Hannah and I try to “catch our kids” in the act of doing something good.  By the grace of God, our children give us many opportunities to do that (and, yes, a few opportunities of the other kind as well!).  William is forever looking for ways to give of his time, talent, and treasure to those in need.

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If you haven’t read it (why not!?), please withhold your condescension.  Don’t let the rhyming and silliness and vibrant pictures fool you: this book is brimming with sound, earthy wisdom capable  of carrying us far into adulthood.  I offer you my favorite line from the entire tome:

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.

What adult can’t relate to that?  Be it pride, depression, greed…the list goes on.

Through a book simple enough to captivate a child, the good Dr. Seuss also writes profoundly enough to touch each and every one of us.  His genius has no equal.

So, I got the book, went behind a closed door, and I read the entire thing into a voice recorder.  We then applied some voodoo magic of digital imaging and video editing software. [1]  The final product might not have impressed Spielberg, but it thoroughly warmed the heart of my son.

Mission accomplished.

Dads–be on the lookout for specific ways to reach your child’s heart.  Your return on investment will be immeasurable.

-bill

 

[1] Incidentally, this project caught on across all of Mesaeh Manor.  It won’t be long before we’ve all produced a “book set to movie” as an act of love and service to our fellow Mesaeh.  Stay tuned.

What Dishwashing Taught Me About Being a Christian

I’ve worked a lot of part-time, entry level jobs in my day.  Many of them, you won’t find on my resume simply because they don’t represent the type of employment we tend to lead off with when trying to get that next promotion.  Nor do we consciously draw on them when preparing for a great task or intensive project.  However, as I think about them, I’m reminded of all they taught me about life, success, and people.  Here are just a few of them and their respective lessons on applying Colossians 3.17 (look it up!) to daily living.

Paperboy—My First Job

I got this job at age 12 because my dad “suggested” I do so.  Two decades later, and I’ve never been without a job since that cold morning he and I got up to roll our first papers and hit the neighborhood delivering goodness in the form of local headlines.  That job taught me:

The Untold Story of the New Testament Church (Destiny Image, 2005)

This month I want to tell you about a fun little book that gives us an opportunity to relive the New Testament’s story in a refreshing way.  In The Untold Story of the New Testament Church, Frank Viola, “…has ‘straightened out’ the NT (New Testament) for us!  The Bible we have today is fully inspired, yes.  But the order of the NT epistles—well—a complete jumble.  Instead of being arranged by date, they are arranged by size!” (p. 9, from the foreword)

So, this book tells the story of God’s second covenant (aka: the New Testament) according to the way God put His story together.  After reading through (which can be done in one afternoon: it’s only 180 pages), you’ll walk away with more of a “ground-level” understanding of how the church—God’s Family—came to be.  Narrative in style, the book reads almost like a novel.  You’ll need to read it with your Bible at your side because the footnotes will have you flipping through all 27 NT books and exposing you to stories and characters that you may have never noticed before.

The author presents the giving of our second covenant as a play with five major “motions.”

  1. The Godhead in Eternity Past
  2. The Son is Sent to Earth
  3. The Church is Born
  4. The Son Returns to Earth
  5. The Godhead in Eternity Future

The third motion is the largest and longest, as Viola unfolds the growth of the very same church body we are all a part of today.  Following the book of Acts and Paul’s epistles, the author takes us through Jerusalem, Antioch, Galatia, the greater Grecian area, Ephesus, and finally Rome.  Along the way, he “sharpens the focus” with historical tidbits that help us better understand the culture of the day.

If you’re looking for a fun book to read as you hibernate and wait out the last of this cold weather, I recommend checking this one out.  It’s about $10 on Amazon.com.  If you read it, let me know what you think!

At Your Side,

-bill

What is the Restoration Movement?

“Remember where you came from!” is something my parents told me when I was growing up.  Regardless of where I went in life, they wanted me to remember my heritage, our work ethic, and the values most important to our family.  That’s good advice, and it carries over to matters of faith.  With an influx of guests visiting DCC, now’s a good time to briefly answer a few questions about what kind of church this is.

What kind of Church is DCC?

DCC is part of the Restoration Movement, which is a non-denominational effort to restore Jesus’ Church to its original New Testament form.  We do not believe we are the only Christians, but we do elect to call ourselves ‘Christians’ only (Acts 11.26).  We do so out of a firm commitment to teach, do, and insist upon nothing except which is found in the Bible.  We have no creed but Christ and no book but the Bible.

U-N-I-T-Y

I don’t like it when Christians treat each other as the enemy.  Most will say they don’t do that.  But—if we’re honest—we often expend more emotional energy thinking about a disagreement with a fellow believer than we do thinking about how to reach one more person for Jesus.  I really don’t like that.[1]  Actually, it makes me sad.  Here’s why:

We’re on the same team.  Followers of Jesus want the same thing: more Jesus.  We want more Jesus for ourselves.  More Jesus for our marriage.  More Jesus for our church.  More Jesus for our neighbors and our neighbors’ neighbors, for the mailman, the President, the President’s mailman, etc.  We all want more Jesus.  You know what?  There’s plenty of Jesus to go around.  I know.  He told me[2].

My prescription: decaf and the seventeenth chapter of John’s gospel.

Decaf

Calm down!  It’s ok.  Jesus isn’t going anywhere.  There’s been a war on Jesus since Herod tried to kill him and all the other Jewish baby boys 2000 years ago.  Herod lost then, and he continues to lose today.  But, we suffer personal defeats when we get excited and start arguing about the wrong things.  The right things are laid out for us in the Bible.[3]  What do you do when you think your take on the Bible is more right than another Christian’s take on the Bible?  Drink decaf and then apply John 17.

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (Zondervan, 2009)

Have you ever read the Bible and thought, “I don’t know what means”?  That’s a silly question; of course we all have!

This month, I want to recommend to you the single best “how to” manual for reading the Bible.  Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart wrote a wonderful book, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, that will forever change how you read the Bible.  Hopefully, you’re already reading the Bible and asking, “So what?  How can I apply this to my life?”  Sometimes however, the quest to apply the Bible to our lives can have us quickly jumping to conclusions about the text without first making sure we’re applying it the way God’s Spirit intended us to apply it.  As the authors put it, “To make this text mean something God did not intend is to abuse the text, not use it.” (p. 25)

The original recipients of the Bible never thought it was ambiguous nor had a difficult time understanding what the author meant.  Our challenge today is to read a Book that was written in the “then and there” and apply it to our lives in the “here and now.”  To do that, we rely on scholars and translators to grapple with the context and the content for us—producing accurate translations and reliable commentaries.  However, with a little homework, we all can do some of this ourselves.  That’s what this easy-to-read little book is about.

One of the most practical chapters in the book is the one on all of the different translations.  Why are there so many and how do you pick one?  They explain the two basic approaches to translating the Bible: [1] literal, word-for-word (think KJV, NASB), and [2] functional/dynamic, thought-for-thought (think the Message, TLB).  They talk about the strengths and weakness of each approach and then recommend some “happy medium” versions.

The rest of the book discusses how to “use” the Bible, section by section. What are The Law and OT narratives good for today?  What are they not good for?  How should we use books like Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes today?  Was the job of the prophets really the job we think it was?  Why do we have four books about the life of Jesus?  Did Luke want us to use the book of Acts as a normative, authoritative manual for how we should “do church” today?  Did Paul intend for his letters to be circulated to other churches and then used by us, 2000 years later?  Why are there so many disagreements over the book of Revelation?

God’s Word is perfect, priceless, and practical (2 Tim 3.16), but it only helps us if we understand it as He wants us to.  I highly recommend this book as a great tool for increasing your ability to do just that.

The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him…the body they may kill;
God’s truth abideth still: His kingdom is forever
–Martin Luther, A Mighty Fortress

 

At Your Side,

-bill

Lost that Loving Feeling?

Last week we defined love as a three-sided triangle (passion, intimacy, and commitment).  We usually judge the love in our relationship by looking at only one leg of the triangle.  If the passion is gone, we assume we’ve “fallen out of love.”  But, the good news is: we still have other pieces of the triangle.

Intimacy steps up to keep things warm if passion is running dry, and there’s the old-fashioned, grownup word “commitment” to help us “stick it out” when things are really rough.  But, nobody wants to live like that forever.  Marriage without passion is boring; love without intimacy is shallow.[1]

So, what happens to love after the wedding?  Everybody has asked themselves that question at some point.  We start singing the Righteous Brothers’ tune “Lost that Loving Feeling” and worry that our marriage is going to end up as another statistic.[2]  Psychologist and relationship researcher Dr. Dorothy Tennov says most couples “fall out of the love obsession” after two years of marriage.  Then what?  For those committed to not being another statistic, are they doomed to a lifetime of misery and loneliness?

The Love Triangle

When couples come to my office for marriage counseling[1], one of the phrases I hear most often is, “I just don’t love her/him anymore.”  When Hannah and I endured what we now refer to as the “black hole” of our relationship, few days went by when we didn’t say those very words to each other.  But, whether you asked the Black Hole Era Mesaehs or any couple sitting in my office, “What’s love supposed to look like?” the answer you’ll usually get is, “I don’t know, but this ain’t it.”[2]

What does love look like?

So, if we don’t know what love looks like, how can we know if we “have it?”  One psychologist developed the “triangular model[3]” of love to help us understand that lovin’ feeling.  He says love is made up of the three components:

EntreLeadership (Howard Books, 2011)

One of the best leadership books I’ve ever read (and I’ve read way too many!).  This is page after page of practical, “this works, this didn’t, try this, don’t even think of that” type of advice.  It’s everything you’ve come to love about Dave Ramsey applied to business (or NPO) leadership.  Over 350 5-star reviews on Amazon agree: this book is golden.

Baptism by the Book

I often receive questions about salvation, faith, baptism, ministry, and how they’re all connected.  This past month has seen an even greater number of people asking questions about the Bible’s stance on baptism.  Praise God!  So, I thought I’d use this month’s newsletter to write on the Bible’s teaching in this area.

Christian Baptism was established as the entrance into God’s New Testament (NT) Christian Church.  That New Testament church was built on the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.  Until those events occurred in their entirety, the world was living under the Old Covenant; aka: the Old Testament/Old agreement/Old “will” (see Heb 9.16-17).  In other words, baptism is completely Christian in nature.  We should not attempt to force it through an Old Testament event or counterpart.  When God started something entirely new in His Church, He also created a new way for us to respond to Him spiritually.