Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Everyone Needs Grace From Everyone

From @LiberateNet


From Jon Bloom at Desiring God - Lay Aside the Weight of Self Indulgence:
We are all self-indulgers. The whole lot of us. Let’s just admit it upfront and help each other fight.
Biblical self-indulgence is feeding the “passions of the flesh” (1 Peter 2:11). It’s indulging ourselves in any pleasure that is harmful to our souls, that does not spring from faith (Romans 14:23).
Recognize the Danger
Self-indulgence is spiritually dangerous to us because it’s a form of idolatry. It’s something we turn to instead of God for happiness. It dulls our spiritual tastes and curbs our spiritual appetites (Proverbs 27:7). If we don’t take it seriously, it can, like Solomon’s wives (1 Kings 11:1–3), turn our hearts away from God.Self-indulgence comes in all shapes and sizes. We can all name obvious or “gross” kinds (like those listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9–10). But perhaps for most of us the more dangerous indulgences are those that appear outwardly respectable. These are insidious because it is not the actions themselves that are sinful but our heart motives in doing them. So we may appear to do good while secretly indulging in pride (pursuing self-glory), greed or gluttony (too much of a good thing), negligence (should be doing something else), or lack of love (failing to serve someone else). This is what Jesus was talking about when he said,
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” (Matthew 23:25)
Feel the Weight
But whether gross or “respectable,” self-indulgence is a hard sin for us to fight because it’s hard for us to want to fight it.
At the moment of indulging, it doesn’t feel like an enemy. It feels like a reward that makes us happy. And it feels like a relief from a craving that insistently begs for satisfaction. But after indulging, defeat hangs like a heavy yoke around the neck of our souls. This makes running our race of faith difficult (Hebrews 12:1).
If an indulgence has become a habit, then we live with this heavy weight of defeat. And though we may repent and confess our sin each time and know that the Father forgives us in Christ (1 John 1:9), the demoralizing effect of repeat defeat is still heavy.
Jesus doesn’t want us to live with this weight of defeat but in the freedom he purchased for us (Galatians 5:1). He wants us to lay it aside (Hebrews 12:1). It’s a matter of obedience — and joy!
What Fuels Self-Indulgence
To fight self-indulgence, we need to know that what fuels it is a promise we believe.
If you ask yourself what promise you’re believing that’s fueling your indulgent behavior, you might not be able to articulate it right away. In fact, you might be tempted to think, “It’s not about believing a promise. It’s not rational at all. It’s an instinct, a craving. It’s about just saying ‘no.’” Well, just saying “no” has a place in the fight. But it will never get to the heart of indulgence. Often our governing beliefs are so much a part of us that we aren’t consciously aware of them. They reside at a deeper heart (or subconscious) level and it can take some probing to bring them to light.
Not only that, but our Adversary doesn’t want us to consciously experience temptation as a process of promise — belief — action. Too much thinking on our part might tip his hand. He wants us to experience it simply as a pleasurable invitation to happiness.
And that’s what fuels self-indulgence: the promise of happiness, however brief. And though we typically experience this promise as a strong, visceral craving, it’s the promise that gives the craving its power.
The Real Power for Change
So, wherever we have a persistent pattern of self-indulgence that we just can’t seem to conquer, what we are dealing with is our own unwillingness to let go of a promised happiness. If we simply try to address our craving we likely won’t see long-term change. Because it’s not our craving that’s so strong. What’s strong is our belief that we will be less happy if we pass up the indulgence. Belief governs cravings.....
More at the link.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Some Links Worth a Look

Some links worth a look:

The Disappearing Umbrella Over Conservative Christians- Tim Keller
A very discerning social commentary by Tim Keller explaining a major social trend in a way that makes a lot of sense to me.

The Wrong Kind of Christian at Vanderbilt University
When Southern Baptists are on the same side with an alcohol drinking female pastor, you know there's a real religious liberty issue in play.

9 Things You Should Know About Rabbinic Judaism
I was shocked at  my ignorance on this subject.

David Platt elected president of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board
Radical author/pastor gets opportunity to move missions in a radical new direction

Better Places to Send Your ALS Ice Challenge Donations
I lost an uncle to this disease, but would rather send donations to charities that do not use embryonic stem cells

How God is Moving With Dreams & Visions in the Muslim World
He did it in Bible times, and continues to do it today.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Good Doubt

From Challies.com

Finding a Safe Place in Grace

Great piece by Justin Buzzard on grace creating safety- places where people can be real and be accepted.
We’ve all experienced (and contributed to) this dynamic: You are afraid to share what you’re really thinking and what’s really going on in your life with your spouse/friend/parent/church leader because you fear they will use this information against you. You’re afraid that sharing reality will result in being challenged, fixed, or judged, instead of being known, understood, and loved. This dynamic creates unhealthy cultures in marriages, friendships, churches, and workplaces–people never share what’s really going on because they’re afraid, and this stunts both intimacy and growth.
Fortunately, this unhealthy dynamic can be replaced with a healthy dynamic: grace. Grace is God’s undeserved love. When an individual embraces a grace-based identity (instead of a performance-based identity) and standing with God, he or she becomes capable of extending grace (undeserved love) to other people. This individual becomes secure, and safe. This individual now has the ability to truly listen to what another person is really thinking, to what is really going on, without attempting to immediately use that information against the person.
See, grace creates safety. Grace creates a culture of safety where people can face and talk about reality. And, lest any of you think I’m being soft on sin, change, or sanctification, the crazy truth is that this grace-soaked culture of safety is what finally results in people changing.
Think about it. Environments and relationships that approximate unconditional love are what resulted in true, deep change and healing in your own life. When you experienced grace and felt safe, you finally opened up. And then you finally began to get help where you most needed it.Grace creates safety, which creates change.
How can you be such a person to others? How can you use your leadership to create such environments?
“‘I will place him in the safety for which he longs.’”-Psalm 12:5

Thursday, August 28, 2014


From Thinke

The Greatest Hymns

Here's Tim Challies' list of The 10 Greatest Hymns of All-Time.  I would move "Holy, Holy, Holy" and "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" to the top. Agree? Disagree?
 Here are my picks for the ten greatest hymns of all-time. Apart from the first, they are in no particular order.
And Can It Be? by Charles Wesley. I begin with what I consider the greatest hymn by the greatest hymn-writer. Wesley’s “And Can It Be?” simply delights in the goodness of God while marveling and his saving grace. It captures every Christian’s experience of wandering, of beholding Christ, of rejoicing in his salvation, and of the great hope of entering his presence at last. “No condemnation now I dread; / Jesus, and all in Him, is mine; / Alive in Him, my living Head, / And clothed in righteousness divine, / Bold I approach th’eternal throne, / And claim the crown, through Christ my own.”
A Mighty Fortress by Martin Luther. It is bold, it is triumphant, it expresses great faith in God and great defiance toward sin and Satan. I think Satan hates it when we sing this: “The prince of darkness grim — We tremble not for him; / His rage we can endure, For lo! his doom is sure, / One little word shall fell him.”
All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name by Edward Perronet. There are few hymns more triumphant than this one, and especially so when sung to the “Diadem” melody. It calls upon each of us, and everything else in all of creation, to pay homage to our great God. It anticipates the day when that will happen. “All hail the power of Jesu’s name! / Let Angels prostrate fall; / Bring forth the royal diadem, / To crown Him Lord of All.”
Oh, For a Thousand Tongues by Charles Wesley. In this hymn Wesley proclaims that one tongue simply is not enough to express his praise and his adoration before God. If he had a thousand tongues, he would use them all to proclaim who God is and what he has done. “He breaks the power of canceled sin, / He sets the prisoner free; / His blood can make the foulest clean, / His blood availed for me.”
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross by Isaac Watts. Watts penned this hymn—a meditation on the cross of Christ—as a means of preparation for the Lord’s Supper. Having reflected on the cross, he can only marvel at God’s wondrous grace and pledge his life to God’s service. “Were the whole realm of nature mine, / That were a present far too small; / Love so amazing, so divine, / Demands my soul, my life, my all.”
How Firm a Foundation by an unknown author. This hymn is unique in the way it speaks in God’s voice, so that God himself assures us of his goodness, his care, and his mercy. Few hymns are sweeter in times of suffering or despair. “The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose, / I will not, I will not desert to its foes; / That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, / I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”
Holy, Holy, Holy by Reginald Heber. Heber powerfully draws us to marvel at the majestic holiness of God. “Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty! / All Thy works shall praise thy name in earth and sky and sea; / Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and Mighty! / God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!”
It Is Well With My Soul by Horatio Spafford. A hymn for those suffering or for those who have suffered, it proclaims that through every trial, “it is well with my soul.” “And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, / The clouds be rolled back as a scroll; / The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, / Even so, it is well with my soul.”
Abide With Me by Henry Francis Lyte. This has always been a favorite and, though it’s considered a funeral hymn, we sang it at our wedding. I love the way it calls upon God to be present with us in all of life. “Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes; / Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies. / Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee; / In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”
Amazing Grace by John Newton. The list wouldn’t be complete with “Amazing Grace,” would it? It is considered by many to be the greatest hymn ever written and has been recorded more than any other song. It proclaims such sweet and simple truths: “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound / That saved a wretch like me. / I once was lost, but now am found, / Was blind but now I see.”
There are so many more that could easily have been on this list: “Crown Him with Many Crowns,” “For All the Saints,” “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah,” “Rock of Ages,” “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”, “Take My Life and Let It Be,” “In Christ Alone,” and on and on.