Love God as you would your spouse. God scandalously called his prophet Hosea to wed an unfaithful wife to illustrate his love for unfaithful Israel (Hosea 1:2). Hosea's spouse (Gomer) cheats on him so often that the father of two of their children is in doubt (1:6+8). Gomer's wild adultery results in destitution and slavery, but again God calls Hosea to buy her back to illustrate how he will redeem Israel and woo her back (3:1-2). Just as Hosea expects Gomer to save herself for him alone, so God expects us, his bride, to love him alone (3:3+2:23). When we ask Jesus Christ to be our Lord and savior we enter into a sacred relationship. Like a spouse, God desires genuine devotion and obedience to his word, not simply “going through the motions” or empty tradition (6:4-7:16). Since love is not lip service, God sees empty “Christian” behavior, like a ritual church visit or meal prayer, as hypocrisy, or worse, a sham. The idols in our hearts are an act of unfaithfulness and a breech of our marriage covenant with God (4:1-19). Many self-proclaimed Christians would receive a certificate of divorce if God were truly their spouse.
Love people more than you love things. Jonah is probably the only preacher in history who scorned the idea of certain revival. After Nineveh responded to his words (Jonah 3:5) Jonah reveals his reason for running: God is so loving that he wouldn't eviscerate the reprobate if they repented (4:2). Hoping God would change his mind and decimate the state, Jonah built a front row seat outside the city (4:5). God provided a vine to shield him from the sun, but then to Jonah's rage killed it as an object lesson (v6-7). How could Jonah care more for a single plant than 120,000 human lives, even if they were his enemy (v10-11)? People today fool themselves into thinking they love others when how they spend their time and money say otherwise. We ask “how are you?,” but don't make time to hear the response. We're not prejudiced, but there are people we'd never associate with. Christians share a greater responsibility. The messengers of Christ's love are too busy “doing church” to share the gospel, or prefer bigger TVs to helping a missionary. Many love a country more than the lost souls attacking it. We need to love like God.
What difference did media make in the Reformation? What kinds of media were used? How did it impact the Reformation? How does media influence spreading the gospel today?
The Renaissance introduced new media and messages, but they are often confused as one and the same. Media are tools that take the shape of the message they carry, which the Roman Catholic Church happily employed decorating churches with the art of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. However, these same media broadcast the corruption of the Church to all and the illusion of infallibility vanished.
Never run from God. Everyone has heard the tale of Jonah, a prophet who'd rather flee to “Timbuktu” than face his calling (Jonah 1:3). When he didn't like what he heard God saying he responded with his feet that he knew better than the creator of the earth and the seas. God hurled a storm at the ship to persuade him (1:4), but Jonah decided it was better to drown than answer God (1:12). However, God can not be thwarted and Jonah found himself preaching in Nineveh (3:1) after a three day hell in a fish belly (2:1). As a prophet of God, Jonah of all people should have known that fleeing from God's presence is futile. Yet people still follow Jonah's example today. Believers ignore the call to witness (Matt. 28:18) in favor of comfort and complacency (2 Tim. 4:3). Non-believers hope to escape God through denial (Psalm 14:1). Similar to Jonah both think freedom will result from fleeing God. So they judge his omniscient plan for them and crown themselves as ruler of their life. However, whether a medical crisis, the words of a friend, a lost loved one, or a hotel bible, they will find that God, the hound of heaven, pursues us all.
In Feudal Japan, samurai warriors committed a form of ritualistic suicide known as seppuku or harakiri for a long list of reasons. However, the original (overriding) purposes was to "to follow one's master in death" or "maintain full command over one's own destiny to the very last" (1).
For the Christian, the literal practice of seppuku is unthinkable, but the spiritual practice is paramount...(click "Read More" for entire article)
When they arrived, he [Paul] said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents." (Acts 20:18-19, emphasis added)
Leading from the Penthouse vs. Leading from the Outhouse
Lead with a towel
When he [Jesus] had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:12-17)
During the Upper Room Discourse (the Last Supper), Jesus gave his disciples final teachings to to prepare them for leadership in his physical* absence. Here Jesus delivers one of the most memorable lessons on humility and leadership. God incarnate took the position of a servant/slave and washed the gritty sandaled feet of 12 sweaty men who'd been walking all day.
In Luke's account of the Last Supper (Luke 22:7-38) he tells that once again the 12 disciples began to dispute who among them was to be considered the greatest (v24). Jesus then spells out the upside down kingdom again (just as in Matthew 18:1-9) by revealing that the one who rules is the one who serves, just as Christ served them.
Greek Matthew 6:9-13
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one."
Mindlessly reciting these words as a rote prayer or mantra is not what Jesus has in mind when he taught the disciples how to pray.