Ohio State, Honesty, and, of course, a Parenting Tie-in

May 31, 2011 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

If you are looking for a rant about how evil Ohio St. is and how the Razorbacks got hosed by having to play this group of cheaters in the Sugar Bowl, you will have to look elsewhere.  Perhaps you should try fakecloften.com or evilcloften.info or whatcloftenreallythings.biz (Seriously, isn’t .biz uber-classy?)  This will be an attempt at something a little more thoughtful than that.  However, I’m sure you can google Razorback message boards or Michigan Wolverine message boards and get plenty of that.

I would think that most of us can agree that in the big picture of things, selling memorabilia in exchange for tattoos is not a big deal.  I would go so far as to say that a car dealership giving discounts to Ohio St. football players isn’t a huge deal.  “But Cloften, it’s against the rule.  The rules! The rules!!!!!!”  Agreed, those are violations of the NCAA rules for athletes and every school knows this and every player knows it as well.  Those are violations that call for punishments of some kind.

However, these are not the violations that finished off Ohio St. and brought hope to Michigan fans everywhere and a twisted sense of vindication for Razorback fans.  (”Yeah, see. They were cheaters.  We should have won that game.  We would have if those cheaters hadn’t been out there.”  Let’s agree on this: we should have won the game, by playing better.)  What ultimately brought down Jim Tressel was lying about it.  The coverup, the lying about the coverup, and the coverup of the lying about the coverup are what were considered unacceptable by the University, the NCAA and every sports fan.  What I mean by “every sports fan” is all sports fans except for those who would consider the beating of Michigan literally the most important thing that can happen in a year.

Had he simply told his compliance director and athletic director, this would have played out differently.  Maybe he knew the problem was so deep, that it was “better” to keep lying, because if everything was exposed, he would be in even more trouble.  He felt that his only hope was to try and convince the world of a lie that ultimately he knew wouldn’t last.

Do you know what this reminds me of?  “Yes, we do.  It’s what everything reminds you of–your kids.”  Hmm, I suppose I am predictable.  This is what my kids do.  They are caught doing something, but with minimal evidence.  Then they tell a preposterous story, and they will defend that story until it completely falls apart.  This makes Dad quite angry.  There are times when the offense is so small that had they said, “Sorry, Dad,” that would have been it.  “Thank you. Please don’t do it again.”  However, when you add lying to the list of offenses, now there has to be some punishment.  Lying always makes it worse.  Always.  Covering it up always makes it worse.  Always.  Maybe not immediately, but it catches up with you.

Do you know what this reminds me of? “Yes, we do. You are very predictable.  It reminds you of all of us.”  No need to be harsh; maybe you should just start writing these yourself.  I know that none of us like to admit to being wrong.  Well if that’s true, then just admit it quickly.  Wait, what?  Think about it.  You are only having to admit being wrong once.  If you lie, then you will ultimately have more things to confess.

Dishonesty really does rot us from the inside  It begins to eat away at us slowly.  We are never better off after the lie, even if we’ve “gotten away with it.”  You never get away with it.  (Christian cliche alert) God knows, His Spirit inside you knows, you know.  We only make it worse when we add deception.

So whether you are trying to get away with yelling at your sister, a bad habit you want to hide from your wife, or maintain the integrity of THE Ohio State University, don’t do it.  Don’t lie.  Confess, take your lumps and move on. There is freedom there.

Pirates of the Caribbean 4 Movie Review

Pirates 4

Pirates 4

I was invited by some guys relatively last minute to go see the new Pirates movie on Saturday. I had been wanting to go, but couldn’t quite pull the trigger.  I’m glad these guys did.

Pirates 4 (I don’t even feel like typing out the whole name of this movie.  That should give you some idea where this is headed.) returns the Mad Hatter as Jack Sparrow and the speech therapist from King’s Speech (Betcha didn’t think I watched movies like that) as Barbosa.  Those not returning include Legolas and Jules from Bend it Like Beckham.  New characters include “not-Selma Hayek or Catherine Zeta Jones” as a new pirate and Jack’s foil/love interest and “I think I know him no I don’t, but he was the voice of the bad guy in Kung Fu Panda” as Blackbeard.

Expectations:  The second and third movies were mediocre at best.  I ended up owning them, because of a mix-up with the Disney movie club that I didn’t feel like fixing.  The first one is probably a top 15 all time movie for me.  I loved it.  The fact that they were redoing the cast made me think that they had a good new idea and this one would be better.  Plus, it was in 3D, which is cool.  Wait…that’s right, I didn’t see it in 3D.  Why not? I’m looking at you, guys who invited me.  In summary, my expectations were medium-high.

Reality: I was disappointed.  Perhaps if I had had lower expectations I would have liked it.  Maybe if I had seen it in 3D (still looking at you guys).  The plot idea I think was a pretty good one.  However, there wasn’t enough Captain Jack being a goofus.  Also, the mermaid thing was little, hmmm, overdone? pointless? ridiculous?  It reminded me of one of those things that sounds like a good idea in your dorm room at 2 am, but in real life, no so much.  “Dude, what if we had mermaids and they were like evil and stuff?”  “Yeah, dude. What if they had vampire teeth?”  “Awesome, what if we gave them Spiderman’s powers?” “Dude!!!!”

Spoiler Question: Is that missionary dude now in Mermaid Heaven with Tom Hanks? (Boom! Dated reference!)

Appropriateness:  Short answer: just like the other ones.  Long answer: sexual tension between Sparrow and Angelica, and plenty of innuendo.  There were a few curse words and plenty of piratey violence.

Rating: (New System–American Idol Style)

Paula: That was fabulous, amazing, and I was touched deeply (Definitely go see it, now)

Randy: It was just aiiight for me, Dawg (Maybe see it, you should rent it)

Simon: That was indulgent nonsense (Bad, but still worth seeing. Redbox it)

Kara: What was the point of Kara, anyway? (Run for the hills, don’t ever see it)

I rate this a Randy, but it was almost a Simon.  I would wait to rent it.

You may be wondering about the other judges.  They could, I suppose be there own categories.  For your enjoyment:

Ellen: It’s supposed to be good, but it’s not, even though you really want it to be.

Steven: Trainwreck good

Jennifer: At least she can dance, but that’s not what we’re doing. Confusing, but mildly entertaining, nowhere near a Paula.

Why Am I the One That’s Nervous?

May 27, 2011 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

How many times in the last 5 years of my life has this been the scene?  I am standing on the sidelines of a soccer practice and watching Lauren.  I choose to not try and calculate that number.  (The answer will be troubling, like the time I calculated the number of sermons/talks I’ve heard in my life.)  However, this one was different.  This is her first “tryout.”  We are moving from academy level to club level.  What does that mean, you may ask?  First, it means they take more of our money and second, it would seem, that they take more of our time.  As they describe it though, I realize this team we’ve played on this year was already acting like a “club level” team, so we are already prepared for the time that competitive soccer can take.

Anywho, she is now trying out for the team as we move to this next level.  I am watching this tryout and I am as nervous as I have been in a long time.  I remember the first time I spoke at Fellowship Bible in Little Rock and I knew that I was going to speaking to thousands.  I was nervous.  Seriously, I was more nervous yesterday.  It felt silly, but I couldn’t help it.

I’ve felt this way before.  I took Maylee to an audition for a musical a few months ago.  I couldn’t get that stupid knot out of my stomach.  I was pacing down the hallway trying (unsuccessfully) to not listen in.

What is this neurotic behavior? Where does it come from?  It happens in a lot of parents for different reasons and manifests itself in different ways.  For me, I just don’t want them to be disappointed–ever.  I want them to always win, always be happy.  I want to give them everything they need and as much as they want as I can (within the bounds of good behavior, grateful hearts, anti-materialism, etc).  9 times out of 10 if they say, “Can we go to Sonic?” we go to Sonic.  Same for ice cream and renting movies.  The answer is almost always yes, if it is possible to do so.

Here I am though in situations that I can’t control even in the slightest.  I cannot ensure (good post on difference between insure, ensure and assure here) outcomes here, like I can with producing cherry limeades.  So perhaps, this is, at least in part, control issues.  However, it is so much more than that. I want them to win. I don’t want them to experience disappointment.

Unfortunately for some parents, this leads us to drive our children harder than they want to be driven.  “You must succeed.”  This makes it more about us than them.  Similarly, yet differently (nice, huh?) it can lead us to discourage our children from taking risks.  “It’s better to protect them, so they won’t get hurt.”  I think this also is about protecting us more than them.  It also isn’t realistic.  They will be disappointed.  That’s one of the sure things of this world.  Disappointment will come and it will hurt.

Are we preparing them for it? Are we walking them through it? Do we lovingly encourage them the whole way? These are the questions that we need to ask ourselves, not the question I wish I could: how can I make sure they are never disappointed or hurt?

As the reader(s?) of this blog know, I love my daughters and am overwhelmingly proud of them. I want them to win and I want them to know that I am their biggest fan in the world.  Our kids need to know that.

Just don’t tell them that I’m nervous, because it makes them nervous, and then they don’t do as well and then I get more nervous, which…you get the idea.

Why Don’t You Ask For Help?

May 26, 2011 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

Turns out the invincible Lauren Loften is having some problem with math.  This is a strange phenomenon for my younger daughter.  It turns out that pretty much everything she has been “taught” in school up to this point, she pretty much knew already or at worst, immediately understood and learned.  Converting fractions to decimals to percents has been weighing her down.  She was getting good grades on her work in class, because as it turns out, they let them use calculators that have  “convert to fractions” “convert to decimal” buttons on them.

(Side Rant.  Since when do kids get to use calculators?  That is ridiculous.  I remember getting to use a calculator in class in Trig, rarely and that’s it.  I took Cal in high school and I was a math major in college and took every kind of math imaginable and we didn’t get to use a calculator.  That’s like taking your spelling test on Microsoft Word with the red squiggles turned on.  No I didn’t walk to school uphill in the snow.  I did ride my bike a few times, but it was because I wanted to.)

When did I find out about Lauren struggling in math?  After she had already not done well on the test.  She has a dad who was a math major and has tutored lots of people in math, and she never asked me for help.  Someone who loves her very deeply and would help her in an instant is in the room across the hall and she doesn’t ask for help.  Turns out she also never asked her teacher for help or clarification as well.

I asked her why not.  She said, “pride.” (Strange answer for a 10 year old. Turns out she had already had this convo with mom)  We talked for a while over some Maggie Moo’s about how she doesn’t like to admit mistakes or weakness.  She doesn’t want anyone to think that she’s got problems.  She wants everyone to believe that she has everything under control.

Who does that sound like? (I wrestled a little with who/whom there.  I just go with who if I’m not sure, because whom always sounds wrong, even when it’s right)  If you said me, then you are correct.  Unless by “me” you mean me.  Then you are wrong.  You should have said “you” meaning you.  If you said “you” and you meant me, you are wrong.  You should have said “me” meaning you.  Wait, what?

Actually, it’s all of us. We have access to the God of the Universe through prayer and his word.  He loves us and already knows that we are struggling.  He would gladly provide peace and guidance and lead us.  We don’t ask.  Why?  Lauren’s one-word answer will suffice: pride.

We want to give the impression that we’ve “got it” when we don’t.  Even when we aren’t fooling anyone, even if what we are struggling with is crippling us.  We need to get over ourselves and recognize our weaknesses and our dependence on God.

He will gladly love you, help you and sustain you.

(Also, I will help you with your math homework)

#1 Rule of Cults and Apocalyptic Prophets

Even before we get into this, I am mindful of the bigger issue.  There is no enforcing body.  Even if we were to all agree on the rules and regulations that we need to put on cult leaders and apocalyptic prophets, there is no way we could agree to get them to submit to them.  These guys, you know, are kinda known for their desire to go against the grain.  More on this later.

Here is the rule:

If you make a specific prediction that can be measured and it fails to come true, you are done.

You have to publicly apologize and then you have to quit and go get a job where you can’t do any more damage, maybe a window-washer for skyscrapers? (Random I know but I was trying to brainstorm about a job where you aren’t around people. No, I’m not wishing them to fall, just not to be able to talk to people anymore.)  You wanted us all to believe that you have special insight into God and the world and are a prophet.  Great. Way to go buddy.  You are putting it on the line with something tangible.  However, when (it’s always when not if) you are wrong, you are done.  No further clarifications or redirects, just done.

Let’s take our latest prophet as an example.  He once predicted that the world would end in 1994.  It didn’t come true, so what did he say back then?  Mathematical miscalculation.  Are you kidding me?  That offends me, deeply.  Not as a pastor, (well yes as a pastor as well) but as a mathematician. Little known fact: Cloften was a math major.

Let me get this straight. You are predicting the end of the world, END OF THE WORLD and you cannot be bothered to check your math.  Seriously?  You should check your math if you are taking an algebra quiz that’s only worth 5 points. You most certainly should make sure that you carry the one if there is an impending apocalypse.  “Sorry everyone.  Turns out 7*7+1 is 50.  I had a scribble on my page that I thought was a parenthesis but it wasn’t. I had it as 56.  My bad.”

Once that happens you are done. You don’t get to come back 17 years later with better calculations and declare the real date.  But let’s assume that we can be gracious with his math and we let him come back for one more go at it.  He misses again.  What does he say now?  “I’m confused, but I’m real sure about the other date I predicted.  Sure I predicted two dates and the first was flat out wrong, but I’m just as confident in the 2nd.”  (I suppose I shouldn’t have put quotation marks there.  That isn’t what he said.  However, if he can wrongly predict the end of days twice, I can misquote him.  However, that was his basic sentiment.)  No, no, no.  The only answer is, “I’m sorry. I was wrong.  I’ve asked God to forgive me and asking you to do the same. I’m stepping down from leadership.”

Back to the other question, how do we enforce this?  I think we have to play on their arrogance.  They make the prediction, and since we cannot be trusted to ignore these people completely.  We interview him and ask the question, “Are you sure?” “Are you willing to stake you reputation on it?”  “Ok, great. Do you promise that if you are wrong, you will apologize and leave?”  If they start hemming and hawing (Old school southern expression), then they are done right then.  If they agree, then we have them on tape, and we play it incessantly after the nonpocalpyse.

Next week on Rules for Cults: Why would you ever pick an ascetic cult when there are plenty of good hedonist ones out there?

My Favorite Metaphor: 2 Yr Old Lauren in the Parking Lot (Colossians Review)

May 23, 2011 by cloften  
Filed under Bible, Church and Leadership, Teaching

One of the prevailing jokes in our home is that Lauren never learned to walk.  She went straight from crawling to running.  She would put her arms in the air, as if to indicate that someone had scored a touchdown.  Then she would run full force until a footstool, chair, and often a wall would get in her way.  She would fall, shake it off and do it again.  This process would repeat indefinitely.

The scariness of her in open spaces should be evident.  The worst case scenario inside our home would be hitting a wall.  What if there were no walls to contain her? What if it were just the open road?  Parking lots seemed (Did I say seemed? I mean continue to be.  10 yr old Lauren is still living the dream) to bring this out the most.  Just like Wal-Mart makes toddlers throw fits, malls make men cry and sports on TV make wives “want to talk,” 2 yr old Lauren viewed parking lots like an amusement park.

When getting her out of her car seat, you had to be completely ready to go. You got everything else out first and you kept a hand on her at all times.  Also, inside the store, you’d better get your hand on her before you hit the door. (Wow! I’ve burned over 200 words and have yet to get to anything close to resembling a point.  I really do like talking about this.)

Turning 2 yr old Lauren loose in a parking lot to find the car is both dangerous and futile.  She certainly would run with enthusiasm.  She would be going somewhere, going somewhere with zeal.  She would make progress by some limited definitions of progress. However, danger and futility are most likely to be the results rather than success.

We all desire to live lives worthy of the God that loves us so much.  Often we just jump out into life thinking, “I’m going to do something.”  With reckless (The use of that word diverted me to an online dictionary.  Yes, reck is a word and it does mean caution.  Who knew?  You did?  No you didn’t) abandon we take off into the parking lot wanting to make a difference, to be spiritual, etc.

This can unfortunately lead us to exhaustion and disillusionment when it doesn’t go the way we wish (getting lost in the parking lot) or doing wrong things with right motives and hurting ourselves (running into a car).

The Colossians were being influenced by some false teachers that were telling them to not emphasize Jesus quite so much and instead focus on following certain religious regulations.  Paul is less concerned about telling them to stop that and start doing other things (at least at first, we are not even 1/4 way through the book).  He is more concerned about telling them where to focus.  Our focus (where the car is) is the gospel.  When we set our minds on the gospel, we are overwhelmed with gratitude and will be headed in the right direction.  Furthermore, we need to put on our total trust in Jesus, who Paul describes as the creator and head of all things.  When we depend on him (hold his hand in the parking lot), he can safely navigate us through the trials and difficulties of life.

Lauren’s problem never was, is, will be zeal.  It is focus.  We are not altogether much different.

How Do I Keep from Breaking My Daughter?

May 19, 2011 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

This is an actual question put to me on a golf course recently by a friend and fellow dad of daughter.  I don’t know if that is word for word what he said.  If it wasn’t “break” it might have been “ruin” or “mess up.”  Regardless, it was something like that.

I love the question because it really gets at the heart of most guys’ fear about having a daughter.  We consider daughters to be significantly more breakable than a boy.  Boys are durable and tough, and girls are fragile.

Disclaimer: I am not saying that there is such a difference between boys and girls.  I’m saying that is how dads feel.  Little boys are significantly more fragile than most dads realize.

Clarification: Fragile does not connote weakness, at least not in this case.  It really is better understood as valuable and precious.  All things that are valuable and precious are breakable.  That’s how we feel.  You can’t judge our feelings (I may or not be crying now).

I think this belief that a dad can ruin a girl, easily leads many men to becoming passive in their parenting of their daughters.  “Since I am a blumbering idiot, I cannot be trusted.  Wife (I know, no one calls their wife, “wife”), you take care of it.”  If it is not that kind of passivity, a different kind emerges.  The second kind of passivity eliminates discipline.  “She is my beautiful princess.  She never does anything wrong.”  This is seen even more in dads that have sons first.  “Boys are punks like me and need beatings (exaggerated word for effect.  You guys are sensitive today) just like I needed them.  But my precious girl, she just needs more smooches and to be held and given everything she ever wants always.”

I think in my verbiage (turns out it’s not verbage, but verbiage and connote not connotate. Thanks red squigglies. Even though I’m ignoring you with the word “squigglies”) in that last sentence, anyone can figure out what one of my pieces of advice was–your daughter needs to be disciplined as well.

Despite the fact that she is beautiful and sweet, she also has a sinful, selfish heart that needs to be shaped.  She needs to be corrected, disciplined and punished, just as you would your son.  “Just as you would?  That can’t be true.  It has to be different.”  I can agree with that for the same reasons that I would say that you have to discipline different boys differently.  They have different personalities, tendencies, respond to different punishments uniquely, etc.  However, despite the differences between children in general and girls and boys specifically, one similarity remains–they need to have their selfish desires and hearts shaped by a loving parent.

I told my friend that your daughter learns that she is your beautiful princess when things are going well.  She learns to restrain selfishness and sin and (gulp) that she is not the literal or figurative center of the universe when she acts out.  It is possible to be the “fun one” and the “tough one,” to be the “doting dad” and the “disciplinarian.”

We risk “breaking” our daughters when we are one to the exclusion of the other.  Most guys, at least with girls, tend to dote and not discipline.  I certainly am not advocating the other extreme.

Balance, no not balance, but the appropriate role at the appropriate time under the appropriate circumstances is what we need to strive for as dads.  But that is a blog post for another day.

Thor Movie Review

thor_movie_poster_430px1Been a while since I’ve done one of these.  I’ve been seeing most of my movies well past when a review would even be relevant.  Not this summer though.  This summer will be the summer of seeing overly-hyped movies.  Woo-hoo!  Anywho, first on the list–Thor.

Thor stars Captain Kirk 2.0 in the lead role. It also co-stars a completely out of the blue, what is going on here Hannibal Lecter as Thor’s dad, Queen Amidala as the not too-wet-blankety female love interest, the math professor from Good Will Hunting as a scientist and slew of “who-dats?” in various roles. I would be remiss to not mention Rene Russo as Thor’s Mom (Dude! You broke your rule.  You said her name.  I know, but what are you going to say? The psychiatrist from Tin Cup? The horror film actress from Get Shorty? The completely ill-conceived never believable foil to Thomas Crown?  I said her name, because where does it even come from that she’s in this? She was barely in it and it was so “wha???”  She must have had some bills needing to get paid).

Expectations: I really had mixed emotions going into this.  It was going to be in 3-D, so that’s always great.  It’s a superhero movie so that raises expectations.  On the other hand, the previews seemed weird and I was really wondering how they were going to make his backstory even remotely believable. “Believable? Since when do you care about believable? We demand that you get Cloften back here immediately to finish this review.”  Even my implausibility or “that’s ridiculous” radar goes off every now and then.

Reality:  Well, my expectations were soundly met.  “Wait? You said you had mixed expectations.”  Exactly.  The coolness of the 3-D was undeniable, and superhero movies are in general pretty cool.  That said, the back and forth between the 2 (I guess 3) worlds conflict was a bit convoluted and pretty much a big who cares.  “So what you’re saying is that the plot was bad, but you still thought the movie was OK.  What is your problem?”  I have many problems.  One of them is that cool effects and hype can overcome a plot that I don’t care about, at least to a degree.  Sometimes it can’t.  I’m looking at you Clash of the Titans 3-D!

Appropriateness: There were a few curse words in there, not enough to make you think, “That was a lot of bad language,” but enough for, “I wish I hadn’t brought my 10 year old.”  There is, of course, violence.  More stuff blowing up than seeing people get maimed and killed.  Nothing real sexual, a budding romance that peaks with an appropriate kiss.  The scientist dude gets drunk.  Compared to either of the Iron Man movies, this is much more appropriate.  It is about on par with a typical X-Men movie.  I know–I’m a dork.

Rating: (Here is the system)

See it in the theater and will definitely own

See it in the theater and might own

See it in the theater and will likely rent it

See it in the theater and be done

See it at the dollar theater

Rent it

Avoid it.

I rate it a see it in the dollar theater (if you have one) or just rent it it. (One caveat, 3D effects are always great, so it is unlikely that either your dollar theater or TV has that, so might be worth it)

What Motivates Us to Follow God? (Colossians Review)

There are a lot of ways that we try to motivate people.  This isn’t really a well-thought out statement (Duh, we know what site we are reading), but I would imagine that the top 3 are guilt, manipulation and yelling.  The great thing about those methods is that they are quite effective.  When you yell at someone, there is a high probability that they will stop doing whatever is bothering you.  Try it some time (No, don’t do that).

Guilt works the same way.  Isn’t that why you call certain people?  You know the people that you call and you’re holding your breath hoping that it’s going to go to voicemail because you don’t really want to talk to them but you feel like you have to and you contemplate hanging up after the third ring before it goes to voicemail just in case they might answer and you know that at least it will show up on their phone that you called? (That sentence really called for some commas or something, but I like the way that it looks)

Manipulation is great as well.  On an unrelated note, it doesn’t matter to me at all if you bookmark this site or subscribe to the feed. It’s no big deal.  It’s not like I look on Google Analytics multiple times a day to see if anyone ever reads these posts.  It’s not like a put a lot effort into them or anything.  You do what you want to do.

The problem with all three of these is that while they are all relatively effective, they are only effective in the short-term.  In the long-term they build resentment and harden hearts; they do not soften hearts.  They do not change people’s attitudes. All they can do is change a behavior briefly.

The Apostle Paul understood that.  His desire for the Colossians was that they would walk with God for a lifetime.  He wanted God to change their hearts and that they would be faithful followers of Jesus.  He was significantly less interested in changing their immediate behavior.  He first wanted to provide the proper foundation and motivation for living their lives and having hearts devoted to God.

Colossians 1:9-14

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Notice the different phrases that Paul uses here.  He wants them to “live a life worthy” and to “please Him in every way.”  Paul wants them to be “giving joyful thanks.”  He reminds them of the overwhelming power of the gospel.  He believes that if they are mindful of what God has done and is doing in their lives, that they will want to live their lives for him.

There are a lot of different methods that we can use to motivate others to walk with God or use to motivate ourselves.  Let’s use this one the most.  Reflect on the goodness and love of God that was shown through Jesus.  Let that be what drives us to be men and women worthy and pleasing to God.
(If you don’t, I’ll be really mad at you.  I MEAN REALLY MAD!!!)

Colossians Preview

After a highly attention-grabbing title about when we will let our daughters start dating, I went the other direction and gave this the blandest title possible.  I suppose I could have put “Why Our Study of Colossians Will Rock…Your…World!”  However, that would put a lot of pressure on the post that I’m just not capable of living up to (I don’t like ending in a sentence with a preposition, but I absolutely love ending a sentence with two.)

Some things to conisder as we launch into a study of Colossians this Sunday:

This book was written by a person to a group of people living at a certain time under certain circumstances.  It is those circumstances that led the author to write the letter.  (Wait. What?)  While Colossians is Scripture given to us by God, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that this was a letter written by Paul to a group of Christians in the town of Colossae.  There was something going on with them that made Paul decide he needed to write them.

When we understand what that situation was, then we can ask, “How am I like that?”  Then we can best understand what God is wanting to show us and how he wants us to apply the truths in the letter.

Well what was going on then?  I’ll tell you but you still have to come on Sunday.  They were a new church with all new believers.  A group came to them and began to teach them that in order to maintain a good relationship with God you needed to follow certain rituals and follow certain rules.  They wanted them to follow the Old Testament laws.  “You may be saved by grace, but you maintain good standing with God by following certain religious rituals.”

We should all feel a kinship with that.  Many of us have felt, or still feel, the essential nature of certain religious acts in order to have a good relationship with God. We have probably heard it taught.

What Paul does is help them move from a perspective of “have to” to “get to.”  It is not that we have to act a certain way.  It’s that God demonstrated tremendous love for us through the gospel and we have an incredible opportunity to live for God.

When we truly understand what Jesus did for us on the cross and how amazing he is, we will want to please him, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, our hearts will change and we can become the men and women God has called us to be.

Come join us over the next couple of months as we explore deeply Paul’s letter to the Colossians and learn how we can:

live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience

Col 1:10-11

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