Recently I’ve been thinking more and more about our responsibility towards one another as described in Galatians 6:1-2. This morning I read a helpful article by Pastor Mark Driscoll about the difference between concern and responsibility, loads and burdens. In other words, when we are concerned about someone, how should that concerned be expressed? What does it look like? When should our concern move from deep compassion about their situation to taking some responsibility for their burden? And what burdens should we be expected to carry in relationship with one another? Does the Bible mandate that we carry every burden, and if so, to what degree?

Here is an excerpt from the article. I encourage you to read the rest of it.

As a Christian, we should lovingly and sincerely have concern for many people and their many circumstances. Our hearts should ache for the pain and trouble that others experience in life. This concern should compel us to speak truth into their life, which can include everything from pointing out sin to giving wise counsel, and intercede for them before God in prayer.

Still, as a Christian we cannot take responsibility for everyone and everything for which we have concern. As finite beings, there is only so much we can do and we must discern whom God has called us to help and how God has called us to help them. When we take responsibility for people and things we ought not, we are sinning by taking off someone’s shoulders a load God has called them to carry and sinning against our own health, family, and priorities by offering to carry it for them.

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Ray Ortlund has a great post on why we should show our love for God’s Kingdom by loving and serving His body, the local church.

“My passion isn’t to build up my church. My passion is for God’s Kingdom.”

Ever heard someone say that? I have. It sounds large-hearted, but it’s wrong. It can even be destructive.

Suppose I said, “My passion isn’t to build up my marriage. My passion is for Marriage. I want the institution of Marriage to be revered again. I’ll work for that. I’ll pray for that. I’ll sacrifice for that. But don’t expect me to hunker down in the humble daily realities of building a great marriage with my wife Jani. I’m aiming at something grander.”

If I said that, would you think, “Wow, Ray is so committed”? Or would you wonder if I had lost my mind?

If you care about the Kingdom, be the kind of person who can be counted on in your own church. Join your church, pray for your church, tithe to your church, participate in your church every Sunday with wholehearted passion.

We build great churches the same way we build great marriages — real commitment that makes a positive difference every day.

Worship

September 25, 2009

To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of GOd, to open the heart to the love of GOd, to devote the will to the purpose of God.

Archbishop of Cantebury William Temple

Reading fantasy is not something I find time to do often enough.  Yet, I am delighted to allow these peeks into other worlds to shed light on my own.  CS Lewis wrote that the fairy-tale “sometimes says best what’s to be said.”  Stories of strange worlds, unfamiliar hazards, and surprising forces at work are made even more helpful and engrossing when the tales are populated by characters who are sympathetic and even familiar to us.  We read their unreal struggles and hopes and often recognize our own.

The Wingfeather Saga is one of these stories that I read with great anticipation.  I came to love the characters of the first book, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness.  In the second book of the trilogy, North! Or Be Eaten!, young Janner, Tink, and Leeli Wingfeather are coming to terms both with their newfound identities and with the responsibilities they bear.  At the same time, they are running for their lives.  The children are valuable not only to those who hope for a better future for the world of Aerwiar, but also for those who would like to keep the people of Skree under their oppressive rule.

In many ways, I knew what we were getting with the second book of a trilogy.  North! was going to be The Empire Strikes Back of the Wingfeathers.  The journey is going to get harder.  The world is going to get darker.  And yet, it is in this trial that the High King of Anniera and his Throne Warden will become who they need to be to face Gnag the Nameless.

I was not disappointed – the book is an excellent middle installment.  The world that Peterson created is as rich as his writing.  As in our own lives, the threats are not always from the outside.  Several members of the Wingfeather family must confront the enemy within as they fight their way through new evils (wow!) and dangerous beasts alongside questionable allies.  As many have written, the stars shine best at night as the darkness serves to display their glory.  So it is in North! Things get dark, and both Janner and Tink must decide if they want to go on fighting.  And yet, I read with hope.  I believe in this ragged family, and that they will see hope prevail.  But we learn that it may come at a terrible price, as the hope of victory cannot be purchased for nothing.

It was a page turning story, each chapter closing with an irresistible invitation to begin the next.  Even in the midst of heavy burdens, Peterson peppers the story with glimpses of humor and hope.  I look forward to the final installment (next year?), and to the day I can read the entire Wingfeather Saga to my little boy.  After you read it, we can talk about some of our favorite parts – I don’t want to spoil anything for you.

Read more about the Wingfeathers (including an excellent note for parents by the author) and pick up the newest novel from Andrew Peterson on Amazon or the Rabbit Room.

To add to the timeliness of this review, you can see Andrew Peterson in concert at Covenant on Tuesday night, September 15.

I know we’ve discussed the Jesus Storybook Bible from the pulpit and on the blog before, so it’s no stranger to the Concord family. Our Children’s ministry has several copies. I know at least a dozen families (including ours) who use them at home. It even made an appearance during Pastor David’s “Jesus Glasses” series on Wednesday nights – remember the story of the Tower of Babel? It’s a favorite resource for telling kids (and adults) the story of Jesus throughout the Bible.

Well, the big news from Zondervan is a brand new addition of the Jesus Storybook Bible coming out in October of 2009. What’s great about the new addition is AUDIO CDs! It sounds fantastic, and I look forward to using the stories on car trips, during family quiet times, and other creative ways. Maybe Jonathan will perform a puppet show of the story of Jonah for us. You can see more info at their new website.

In full disclosure, posting this blog gives us a chance at winning a case of the JSS for our church. Wouldn’t that be great? If we don’t win, I’ll be placing my order for the deluxe addition in October.