Monday, January 31, 2011

New Morning, New Intentions

Buried in the midst of the Book of Lamentations is this wonderful gem:
22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

(Lamentations 3:22-24)

Jim Martin at A Place For The God-Hungry reminds us that
This Morning Could Be Different for You:
"This morning many of us will begin a new work week. Consider how you might be more intentional about your week:
1. Choose to begin the new week by praying about what God might do in your life this week.
Pray for each person who you will be dealing with this week. Pray for your meetings. Pray for your conversations. Most of all, pray that you will be the husband, wife, father, mother who God has called you to be.

2. Choose to begin the new week by intending to bless those with whom you interact.
Some people do not bless but have a way of making regular withdrawals with people. They say something rude, self-centered, or obnoxious. Other people don’t make withdrawals but they don’t add anything of value to the conversation either. These people are so focused on themselves, they think a conversation is all about themselves. They are totally focused on what they want to say. Other people bless conversations. They encourage, build up, and bring out the best in people.

3. Choose to begin the new week by adding margin to your day.
Are you generally late? Do you pack your schedule too tightly? Do you find yourself leaving your house at the last minute only to discover that you are out of gas and your cell phone is about to die? Does this kind of thing happen again and again? This week choose to add margin. Choose to leave early instead of the last minute. Choose to think ahead and prepare. Taking care of the “little” things, like getting gas for the car, charging the cell phone, and leaving early instead of late can help you feel calmer about the day. You will be fresher and more fully present.

4. Choose to begin the new week by looking at your calendar for the week.
Look at the commitments and activities you have scheduled for each day. What projects are you working on this week? What errands do you need to run this week? What calls do you need to make? Who do you need to contact? Think about these before the week begins."
Good words on a new morning.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

What Makes Evangelicals Different?

From the Crossway Books blog, an answer to the question  What Makes Evangelicals Different? (from chapter four of Don’t Call It A Comeback edited by Kevin DeYoung).
What is it that separates evangelicals from the rest of the world, even some other branches of Christianity? The fundamental dividing line is the belief in the inerrancy and authority of Scripture. Why does it matter if we believe this or not?
  • It matters because what you think about the Bible directly affects what you believe and how you live. Is the Bible like an all-you-can-eat buffet where you pick and choose what to believe and obey?
  • It matters because views of the Bible set individuals and institutions on very different trajectories. Institutions that have rejected the Bible’s entire trustworthiness have often gone on to embrace beliefs incompatible with the gospel. This controversial issue is a theological line in the sand.
How is the Bible a book like no other? It is
  • A book that is God-breathed: Inspiration. God authored the Bible through humans. He did not dictate it as an executive would dictate do a secretary. If a musician plays the same tune through a variety of wind instruments, each will sound different although each is coming from the same breath. God produced the Bible through the different personalities of his “instruments.”
  • A book that is entirely true: Inerrancy. The Bible is not only inerrant in matters of theology, but in every subject it addresses. This does not mean that there are no difficulties in scripture. We do not have all the necessary data (i.e. archeological findings) to perfectly interpret the Bible. As sinful creatures we are susceptible to misinterpretation.
  • A book that is the boss of me: Authority. God is the supreme authority since he created the universe. It is the final authority for every domain of knowledge that it addresses.
  • A book that is all you need: Sufficiency. In the Bible, God has given us all we need to know in order to trust and obey him. The Bible alone is sufficient. It is not to be equated with the Koran or Book or Mormon. Some believe that God continues to reveal himself through special words or guidance. We cannot place these things on par with the Bible.
  • A book that is actually understandable: Clarity. Not everything in the Bible is clear. But the central message about God’s saving grace is easily understood. The debates that arise are not the fault of the Bible, but the faults of sinful and finite human nature.
  • A book that is essential to know God: Necessity. You must hear the message of the Bible, either by reading it or hearing it from someone else, in order to have faith in Christ. It is essential to remain immersed in it throughout our Christian walks. Spiritual endurance needs the Bible like physical endurance needs food and water.

Look Away

"The measure of our new self in Christ—the renewed mind—is the degree to which we look away from ourselves to Christ as our treasure. If Christ is more to you, you are more. If Christ is less to you, you are less. Your measure rises and falls with your measure of him. Your valuing him is the value that you have. Your esteeming him is the esteem that you have. Your treasuring him is the treasure that you are."
— John Piper "Assessing Ourselves with Our God-Assigned Measure of Faith, Part 2"  (Minneapolis, Minn.: Desiring God Ministries, Sept. 5, 2004)

Hat Tip:  Of First Importance:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The "Defiant and Free" Gospel

A recent article by Jason Hood in Christianity Today presented a thesis that there is too much grace preaching today, and not enough emphasis on morality and obedience. Yes, I know that is a gross over-simplification of the article, but you can follow the link above to read it and judge for yourself.

I love Dane Ortlund's response to that article in his post entitled The Radical Gospel, Defiant and Free.
The gospel of grace is so radical, so free, so counterintuitive, so defiant of all the entrenched expectations of our law-marinated hearts, that it would be surprising indeed if our preaching of this gospel is not met with the objection anticipated by Paul—“are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace?” (Rom 6:15; cf. 3:8; 2 Pet 3:15–17)...

....The next and most important question, then, is how this radical obedience and personal holiness are to be encouraged. And here we come to the real crux.
You wrote that we live “in a restraint-free culture dominated by Eat, Pray, Love spirituality and Joel Osteen-grade theology.” I am as averse to such things as you are. But there are two ways to seek to redress this.
One way is to balance gospel grace with exhortations to holiness, as if both need equal air time lest we fall into legalism on one side (neglecting grace) or antinomianism on the other (neglecting holiness).
The other way, which I believe is the right and biblical way, is so to startle this restraint-free culture with the gospel of free justification that the functional justifications of human approval, moral performance, sexual indulgence, or big bank accounts begin to lose their vice-like grip on human hearts and their emptiness is exposed in all its fraudulence. It sounds backward, but the path to holiness is through (not beyond) the grace of the gospel, because only undeserved grace can truly melt and transform the heart. The solution to restraint-free immorality is not morality. The solution to immorality is the free grace of God—grace so free that it will be (mis)heard by some as a license to sin with impunity. The route by which the New Testament exhorts radical obedience is not by tempering grace but by driving it home all the more deeply.
Let’s pursue holiness. (Without it we won’t see God: Matt 5:8; Heb 12:14.) And let’s pursue it centrally through enjoying the gospel, the same gospel that got us in and the same gospel that liberates us afresh each day (1 Cor 15:1–2; Gal 2:14; Col 1:23; 2:6). As G. C. Berkouwer wisely remarked, “The heart of sanctification is the life which feeds on justification.”
Right on, Dane! Read his entire article - it rocks!

Hat Tip: Vitamin Z

Update:  Some additional comments on the original CT article from Tullian Tchividjian.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

We Shrink to Our True Size

“Every time we look a the cross Christ seems to say to us, ‘I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.’ Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.”
                              — John Stott, The Message of Galatians

HT: Of First Importance and Rick Ianniello

Billy Graham on Aging, Regrets, and Evangelicals

From a Christianity Today interview, here's Christian elder statesman Billy Graham on aging, his regrets, and the future for Evangelicals.
1. What advice would you give to people who are aging?
First, accept it as part of God’s plan for your life, and thank him every day for the gift of that day. We’ve come to look on old age as something to be dreaded—and it’s true that it isn’t easy…
2. What would you say to children who have aging parents?
When we’re young we usually don’t think much about growing old, or about our parents growing old either—not until something forces us to think about it. But it will happen, if they live long enough. So the first thing I’d say to those whose parents are growing older is to be prepared for it, and to accept whatever responsibilities it brings you…
3. If you could, would you go back and do anything differently?
Yes, of course. I’d spend more time at home with my family, and I’d study more and preach less. I wouldn’t have taken so many speaking engagements, including some of the things I did over the years that I probably didn’t really need to do—weddings and funerals and building dedications, things like that. Whenever I counsel someone who feels called to be an evangelist, I always urge them to guard their time and not feel like they have to do everything.
I also would have steered clear of politics…
4. What are the most important issues facing evangelicals today?
But the most important issue we face today is the same the church has faced in every century: Will we reach our world for Christ? In other words, will we give priority to Christ’s command to go into all the world and preach the gospel? Or will we turn increasingly inward, caught up in our own internal affairs or controversies, or simply becoming more and more comfortable with the status quo? Will we become inner-directed or outer-directed? The central issues of our time aren’t economic or political or social, important as these are. The central issues of our time are moral and spiritual in nature, and our calling is to declare Christ’s forgiveness and hope and transforming power to a world that does not know him or follow him. May we never forget this. read entire Q&A
Hat Tip: An Aged Billy Graham on Aging, Regrets, and Evangelicals

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Prayer for Life

I would like to take this opportunity to say "AMEN" to this Prayer on National Sanctity of Human Life Day:
I am praying that God raises up a man or woman like William Wilberforce who would be willing to give their life to the political fight against the unthinkable injustice of abortion. Maybe that person is reading this right now.
I am praying for a man or woman to rise up with a voice like Martin Luther King Jr. to prophetically speak to our nation with a voice that transcends all others and rings true in the ears of thousands concerning the insanity of what is perpetrated behind cold, silent walls of abortion clinics every single day in our nation. Fifty million and counting. Maybe the person is reading this right now.
I praying that God would raise up a nation of Christians who are visibly willing to adopt so that an onlooking world thinks of us as the first and best option for unwanted children and not Planned Parenthood. I am praying that this is one of the primary things for which we are known. Maybe you will adopt.
I am praying for the courage to have potentially awkward conversations about abortion with those who are apathetic or uninformed. May our conversations possess humble tones yet contain irrefutable truth.
I am praying for the good news of Jesus Christ to be cherished and above all idols and that his rule and reign through the cross and resurrection would be the starting and ending point for murderous, arrogant, and apathetic people like me.
Come Lord Jesus. May it be so.

Let My Contrite Heart Rejoice

I was listening again yesterday to the album Redemption Songs by the group Jars of Clay. The CD consists of nothing but old hymns.  I love the words to this one, a hymn titled "God Be Merciful to Me."  A good meditation for a Sunday morning (or any other day)!

God be merciful to me 
on Thy grace, I rest my plea
Plenteous in compassion Thou
Blot out my transgressions now

Wash me, make me pure within

Cleanse, oh, cleanse me from my sin

My transgressions I confess

Grief and guilt my soul oppress
I have sinned against Thy grace
And provoked Thee to Thy face

I confess Thy judgment just

Speechless, I, Thy mercy trust

Friday, January 21, 2011

More Generous Justice

Here is part 2 of the interview with Tim Keller about his book Generous Justice. (Part 1 which I posted yesterday can be found here).

How Does the Gospel Apply?

That is a good question to be asking oneself daily, and moment by moment.
Living a gospel-centered life is really simply living in such a way that this gospel is central. Thus when any kind of a situation arises we can say, “How does the gospel apply to this situation?” When I am dealing with a particular sin or temptation I can ask, “How can I apply the gospel to this sin?” When I am confused about parenting, how I am to raise my children, I can ask, “What does the gospel tell me about my task in parenting?” The primary reality of the Christian life is this one: Christ died for our sins and was raised. Thus everything else flows out of that gospel and every question is answered in reference to it.

I like how Joe Thorn phrases it: “The gospel-centered life is a life where a Christian experiences a growing personal reliance on the gospel that protects him from depending on his own religious performance and being seduced and overwhelmed by idols.”

From Living Gospel-Centered | Challies Dot Com:

Hat Tip: Peter Cockrell

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Presenting Generous Justice

Here's part one of an interview with Tim Keller at Desiring God about his new book Generous Justice: How God's Grace Makes Us Just (Definately on my reading list).

Jesus is Not a Self-Help Guru

Consider this excerpt from a "rant" by Jeff Dunn at the Internet Monk site:
Jesus is not a self-help guru. He is not interested in you becoming a better person. He could not care less with you improving in any area of your life. Because in the end that is your life. Yours. And he demands you give it to him. All of it. An unconditional surrender. He did not come to improve you, or encourage you, or spur you on to bigger and better things. He came to raise the dead. And if you insist on living, then you’re on your own. Good luck. Sign up for all the seminars, workshops and marriage improvement weekends that you can, because you’re going to need them.
The Gospel is this: We are dead in our sins. Jesus, too, is dead in our sins. But because he is very God of very God, death could not hold him. He conquered sin and death and rose again. And the only life we are now offered is the life he lives in us. Period. He wants us dead. He’ll do the rest.
Now, go read the whole article (If you dare!) -See Ranting And Raving @

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Deeper Implications

"The main problem in the Christian life is that we have not thought out the deep implications of the gospel, we have not ‘used’ the gospel in and on all parts of our life. "
                                  — Timothy Keller "The Centrality of the Gospel"

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Words Required

Did Francis of Assisi really say the popular quote often attributed to him, “Preach the gospel. If necessary use words”?

Nope! Some evidence to that effect is summarized by Joe Thorn at Francis, Preaching, and the Gospel. Joe then concludes:
"Preaching the gospel with words is both prescribed and described as normative for the church everywhere in the Bible. It’s not a way to do it. It is the way. The saying is at least confusing because when we say, “Preach the gospel. If necessary use words” we are saying that one can preach the gospel without words. But let’s be clear about this. Our good works and godly lives can and should compliment our confession, but they cannot themselves announce the good news."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

No Other Purpose

"The Church exists for no other purpose but to draw men into Christ. . . If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other reason."

 -- C.S. Lewis

Hat Tip: Jared Wilson at The Gospel-Driven Church

One Way

When you realize just how dependent you are on Jesus for your salvation — his death for your sin, his life for your righteousness — you understand why the Bible is so insistent that salvation comes only through faith in him. There is no other way, no other savior, nothing and no one else in the world on which we can rely for salvation, including our own efforts.
— Greg Gilbert  What is the Gospel?
(Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2010), 78

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Back in the "Jesus Movement" days of the late 60's and early 70's, we used to hold up our index fingers in a hand sign meaning "One Way." It was true then and is true now.  There really is only one way.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Soul Power

"To our most bitter opponents we say: "We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws because noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. Throw us in jail and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory."

From a sermon by Dr. King (Loving Your Enemies, 1957).

Hat Tip: My Favorite Dr. King Quote | 9Marks

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Abortion Industry is Losing Its Support (PTL!)

The following quote is from 15 Reasons the Abortion Industry is Losing Its Support  by George Grant at the Ligonier Ministries Blog:As we approach the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, this is good news indeed!
Why does it seem that the abortion industry’s grassroots support is slipping at the very moment when its power and resources have reached their zenith? At least part of the reason may be the very nature of the abortion business itself—along with the inevitable fallout that accompanies it. Consider:
  • Although heralded by the abortion lobby as both “safe and legal,” it is now apparent that abortion is merely “legal.” The complications of this, the most commonly performed medical procedure in America today, are legion. They include sterility—occurring in as many as 25 percent of all women receiving mid-trimester abortions; hemorrhaging—nearly 10 percent of all cases require transfusions; viral hepatitis—occurring in 10 percent of all those transfused; embolism—occurring in as many as 4 percent of all cases; cervical laceration; pelvic inflammatory disease; genital tract infection; cardiorespiratory arrest; acute kidney failure; and amniotic fluid embolus.
  • As a result of these sundry complications, women in America have seen a massive increase in the cost of medical care. While the average cost of normal health maintenance for men has increased nearly 12 percent over the past fifteen years due to inflation, the average cost for women has skyrocketed a full 27 percent.
  • A spate of medical malpractice lawsuits from botched abortions has intensified the industry’s already looming insurability crisis.
  • At the same time, the cultural and political stigmatization of abortion providers has dramatically reduced the number of qualified physicians willing to serve them. As a result, many clinics have been forced to rely on less adequately trained personnel—nurse practitioners and doctors who more often than not have failed in private or institutional practices.
  • Revelations about deliberately suppressed research data on various procedural risks—particularly concerning the established links between abortion and breast cancer—have raised new questions about the industry’s medical objectivity and professional integrity.
  • New clinical evidence exposing the grave hazards of several of the other forms of treatment championed by the industry—from the deleterious effects of the RU-486 abortion drug and the Norplant contraceptive surgery to the inherent risks and complications in the use of intrauterine devices—have raised the specter of “wholesale institutional quackery.”
  • The shadow over the industry’s iatrogenic carelessness has been further darkened by its enthusiastic defense of the horrifying second-trimester “dilation and extraction” surgical procedure—commonly known as D&X or “partial-birth” abortion.
  • In addition, the industry has staked its tenuous reputation on the therapeutic usefulness of two very dangerous new chemical treatments—the Depo-Provera long-term contraceptive injection and the Methotrexate-Misoprostol abortifacient. Both drugs present grave hazards to women’s health, according to a battery of recent clinical tests.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Blinded by the Artificial Light

Here's a selection from a great piece by Elizabeth Scalia, aka The Anchoress, on looking at the stars with a sense of wonder - Stars and the Excess of Clarity :
Spent some time stargazing a while back, when I couldn’t sleep.

No telescope, just the naked eye, a dark neighborhood and a willingness to wonder. I was digesting a bit of Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain, and it had stayed with me through evening’s pass – the sight of the stars, the early, wise writings of a monk.

Does the fact that we can no longer see the stars have anything to do with our loss of wonder? These things, the stars, and all creation – they are more splendid, perfect, beautiful and lasting than anything man can create or even conceive.

It seems like when we were more aware of milky ways and horizons, it was easier to believe. Could Joan of Arc have led her army, could she even have thought to, could she have trusted enough, without having a sense of something greater, bigger than herself?

We have obliterated the stars with our artificial light – but perhaps we’ve blinded ourselves, too. Without the wonder, the greatness of the galaxies in our sight, we’ve lost the ability to believe in, or expect, miracles.

When you cannot see the glory of God’s creation, how can you wish to glorify the Lord? No longer seeing anything greater than ourselves, we turn inward, we worship our own thoughts, our invention, our desire.
More good stuff at the link.  Love the Anchoress!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dangers of Celebrity Status

 Who is more famous in the Evangelical world: Jesus or John Piper?  No criticism of Pastor Piper is intended - I'm just using him as one example. Some folks seem to be paying more attention to their favorite preachers or Bible teachers than to the Lord we all claim to serve. Here's Frances Chan (admittedly rather famous himself) on Celebrity Status and the Holy Spirit :
I have benefitted greatly by hearing biblical preachers via podcast. I’m glad that there is so much solid teaching available. However, I am struggling with the celebrity status that comes from this kind of exposure. It’s not healthy for the preacher, nor is it healthy for those who talk about their ministry heroes so often (I am guilty of this).

In many ways, we are conforming to the pattern of the world. While it is good that people are talking about what they have learned from “Piper, Driscoll, Keller, Chan, etc,” I am concerned about how much we speak those names rather than the name of Jesus. It has gotten to the point where I believe we have taken glory away from Jesus. Personally, I am intentionally trying to mention human names less and speak often the matchless name of Jesus.

All believers have received the Holy Spirit. We must go forth in his power with confidence. God has placed people in your path. You are called to disciple them. We too quickly direct converts toward podcast preachers and neglect our God-given mandate to disciple. We must believe in the power of the Scriptures themselves, and we must trust in the power of the Holy Spirit within us. 
Let’s use the resources God has given to the church at large, but let’s not shirk our responsibility to the local church. Let’s not boast too much of others, and let’s not underestimate what the Spirit desires to do through us.

Can You Create a Revival?

This is a brief selection from Tim Keller, writing on Revival: Ways and Means at The Gospel Coalition Blog:
How do seasons of revival come? One set of answers comes from Charles Finney, who turned revivals into a “science.” Finney insisted that any group could have a revival any time or place, as long as they applied the right methods in the right way. Finney’s distortions, I think, led to much of the weakness in modern evangelicalism today, as has been well argued by Michael Horton over the years. Especially under Finney’s influence, revivalism undermined the more traditional way of doing Christian formation. That traditional way of Christian growth was gradual—whole family catechetical instruction—and church-centric. Revivalism under Finney, however, shifted the emphasis to seasons of crisis. Preaching became less oriented to long-term teaching and more directed to stirring up the affections of the heart toward decision. Not surprisingly, these emphases demoted the importance of the church in general and of careful, sound doctrine and put all the weight on an individual’s personal, subjective experience. And this is one of the reasons (though not the only reason) that we have the highly individualistic, consumerist evangelicalism of today.

There has been a withering critique of revivalism going on now for 20 years within evangelical circles. Most of it is fair, but it often goes beyond the criticism of the technique-driven revivalism of Finney to insist that even Jonathan Edwards and the Puritans were badly mistaken about how people should embrace and grow in Christ. In this limited space I can’t respond to that here other than to say I think that goes way too far. However, this critique trend explains why there is so much less enthusiasm for revival than when I was a young minister. It also explains why someone like D.M. Lloyd-Jones was so loathe to say that there was anything that we can do to bring about revivals (other than pray). He knew that Finney-esque revivalism led to many spiritual pathologies.

Nevertheless, I think we can carefully talk about some factors that, when present, often become associated with revival by God’s blessing.
Keller lists five factors associated with Revivals:
  1. Extraordinary Prayer
  2. Recovery of the Grace Gospel
  3. Renewed Individuals
  4. Use of the Gospel on the Heart in Counseling
  5. Ordinary Instituted Means of Grace
More great discussion on this at the link.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Unplanned Conversion

The truth is winning!

Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director, has released a book on her conversion to the pro-life position. The catalyst point was her personal participation in an actual abortion procedure. The book is called unPlanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader's Eye-Opening Journey Across the Life Line

The quote below is from an article and interview in the Baptist Press.
"...In her last year with the clinic she was having more difficulty justifying her work. But it was not until an afternoon in September 2009 that Johnson came face to face with the reality of abortion. It would no longer be a simple matter of numbers on paper or a discussion in a management meeting.

Never had she been called into the procedure room to help with an abortion. In the past she had been in the room to hold a patient's hand or give counsel to patients during the process. But on this day the visiting abortionist was performing an ultrasound-guided abortion, an unprecedented procedure in her clinic. Johnson would witness -- in real time -- the life of a 13-week-old baby taken. She held the ultrasound probe on the woman's abdomen so the doctor could see the baby and the instrument as he did his work. The procedure was visible on a monitor.

The shock of witnessing an abortion in progress made Johnson question everything she had believed and advocated about the work of Planned Parenthood.

In her book, Johnson recalled thinking, "I had believed a lie! I had blindly promoted the 'company line' for so long. Why? Why hadn't I searched out the truth for myself? Why had I closed my ears to the arguments I'd heard? Oh, dear God, what had I done?"
Two weeks later she resigned her position as director of the clinic and walked to the offices of Shawn Carney of the Coalition for Life."
This is happening more and more. Truth does win in the end!

Update (1/19/11) New article in Christianity Today: Pro-life Challenges, From a Former Planned Parenthood Director's View.

Tullian's New Gospel Tweets

Here are some More Gospel Tweets from Tullian Tchividjian. (The first batch can be found here and here.) Think on these thing!
  • God’s intention for the gospel is that it not only grow wider in the world but that it also grow deeper in Christians.
  • When you trust in Jesus, your identity and worth is no longer based on what you can accomplish but on what Jesus accomplished for you.
  • I preach the gospel with life or death passion, not because I believe the gospel fully but because I don’t believe the gospel fully!
  • One reason we fail in OUR doing is because we fail to grasp at a deep, heart level what JESUS has already done.
  • One reason we give up in our efforts to obey is because we obsess more over our performance for Jesus than we do Jesus’ performance for us.
  • The gospel frees us from the slavery of becoming preoccupied with our goodness.
  • The gospel frees us to GIVE UP our place for others, not GUARD IN our place from others because our security is in Christ, not our place.
  • God’s grace toward us is not a lessening of his demands. Grace is experienced when we realize these demands have already been met in Jesus.
  • The gospel is meant to bring us to the end of ourselves so that we finally place our meaning, purpose, and sense of well-being in Jesus.
  • Because Christians find our emotional security in Christ’s achievement for us, we can admit our wrongs and weaknesses and not feel deflated.
  • My struggle isn’t believing my performance can EARN God’s favor; my struggle is believing my performance can KEEP God’s favor.
  • Legalism says God will love us if we change. The gospel says God will change us because He loves us.
  • Only the gospel can cause you to rejoice and be glad in your expendability: because Jesus was someone, your FREE to be no one.
  • God’s love for me and approval of me does not get bigger when I obey or smaller when I disobey. This makes me want to obey him more, not less!
  • Fall in love with Jesus’ work for you and you’ll grow. Fall in love with your work for Jesus and you’ll shrink.
  • Those who end up obeying more are those who increasingly realize that their standing with God is not based on their obedience, but Christ’s.
  • If you’re overly concerned with what others think then your living in the prison of human approval. Only the gospel can set you free!
  • What motivates our obedience determines whether or not it is a sacrifice of praise. Obedience to God’s commands prompted by fear or guilt is not true obedience.
  • The pursuit of holiness must be anchored in, and motivated by, the grace of God; otherwise it is doomed to failure.
  • Our spiritual lives become unimpressive and laborious when we spend our time and energy trying to spiritually impress God.
  • We only start “doing better” as we increasingly focus on what Jesus has already done, not on what we must do.
  • When we transfer trust from our success to Christ’s success, we experience the abundant freedoms that come from not having to measure up.

The Message of the Bible in One Sentence

If asked to put the message of the entire Bible into one sentence, could you do it? Check out What's the Message of the Bible in One Sentence.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gospel Transformation

The following quote was written about transforation of marriages with the truth of the Gospel (from Love That Lasts: When Marriage Meets Grace , Gary and Betsy Ricuchi,, Crossway, 2006, pp. 22-23).  But really, don't these truths apply to all areas of life?  Good stuff to meditate on and remember.
  • Because of the gospel, Christians have become new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). Therefore, in our marriage, our past does not define us, confine us, or determine our future.
  • Because of the gospel, we are forgiven (Ephesians 1:7). Therefore we can live free of all guilt and condemnation for every sin, and we can trust that God, in his mercy, will be gracious to us.
  • Because of the gospel, we can forgive, just as Christ forgave us (Ephesians 4:32). Nothing done against us compares to our sin against God. Therefore all offenses, hostility, and bitterness between Christians can be completely forgiven and removed.
  • Because of the gospel, we are accepted by God (Romans 15:7). Therefore we are not dependent on a spouse for who we are or what we need.
  • Because of the gospel, sin’s ruling power over us is broken (Romans 6:6, 14). Therefore we can truly obey all that God calls us to do in our marriage, regardless of any circumstance or situation.
  • Because of the gospel, we have access to God through Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16). Therefore we can at any time take any need in our marriage to the One who can do all things.
  • Because of the gospel, we have hope (Romans 5:1-4). Therefore we can endure any marital difficulty, hardship, or suffering, with the assurance that God is working all to our greatest good (Romans 8:28).
  • Because of the gospel, Christ dwells in us by his Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:13-14). Therefore we are confident that God is always with us and is always at work in our marriage, even when progress is imperceptible (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
  • Because of the gospel, we have power to fight and overcome remaining sin, which continues to dwell and war within us (Romans 7:19-21, 24-25; Galatians 5:16-17). This indwelling enemy represents the essence of what is called the doctrine of sin.
Hat Tip: How the Gospel Can Transform a Marriage – Justin Taylor:

Remembering an American Hero: Major Dick Winters (1918-2011)

Rest in peace, Major Dick Winters: Commander of Easy Company, 101'st Airborne Division, World War II and hero of the book by Stephan Ambrose and the HBO TV series "Band of Brothers." This quit and humble hero passed away last Sunday.  The clip below is the final scene from Band of Brothers.

Hat Tip:  » Major Dick Winters (1918-2011) | Denny Burk