Wednesday, August 31, 2011

We Come As Sinners

We come before God as sinners. You and I can't clean ourselves up in order to be more loved, or more accepted, or more worthy before the heavenly throne. The only love and worthiness we get is that love and worthiness freely given us because of Christ's sacrifice and the great exchange of the cross:  But isn't that enough?!

Love these words from Eric Ortlund at Scatterings:
When you were having devotions this morning, or not; when you were rubbing your eyes and waiting for the coffee to kick in and going to work, you were under the love and compassion of an infinite Friend and Savior. When you prayed this morning, you did not have to compose your soul in order to win a hearing. If yesterday's failings were weighing on you, you did not have to become suitably humble and mournful in order for him to listen to you. You can say, "In my heart of (hardened) hearts, I still love that sin - deliver me from my impenitence," and his mercy quickly attends you. And if you're doing well, and quite happy to come to God, he loves you no less than if you were coming stricken and ashamed and hardly knowing what to say.
We come, simply as sinners. We do not need to prepare ourselves first and then come to God. That's self-focused - dressing ourselves up appropriately to make ourselves more acceptable to God. It's a little form of self-salvation. You are in Christ, and all your sins are absorbed into his person, and all his divine righteousness is counted as yours simply by faith, by looking beyond yourself.
We don't need anything else!

You Hven't Really Said No Until You Say Yes

I like (and agree with) this discussion of repentance by Michael Kelley at Forward Progress
"The Bible calls us to repent of sin and all that it entails. Most of the time when we see that word, “repent,” we think it means “stop.” Stop doing, believing, or thinking whatever it is you are doing, believing, or thinking. But repent doesn’t mean to stop; it means to turn.

True repentance is not just stopping; it involves a shift in focus where you actively choose something different and better than what you used to involved yourself in. Or, to put it in terms of the rebound relationship, you’re not turning away from someone as much as you’re turning toward someone.

Make no mistake – following Jesus involves leaving things behind. Habits, relationships, tendencies, thought patterns – these all fall by the wayside. There is much, much loss in following Jesus. But loss is only the pathway that must be trod to gain.

We’re not just leaving something behind – we are pursuing something better. Think about the parable of the priceless pearl or the treasure hidden in the field. Was there loss? Certainly. The merchant in the story and the man in the field sold everything they had. But did they lament their loss? Absolutely not – for they knew that the loss was only the pathway to gain.

In the gospel, we gain something of universal value. It’s something that makes whatever is lost fade away into oblivion. By God’s grace, true repentance is not fueled by looking back; it’s driven by looking forward. It’s not just saying no, it’s saying yes to something better."

In other words, you haven't really said no to sin (or a specific sin) until you really say YES to Jesus!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cafeteria Menu Belief

"If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself."

                         - St. Augustine

Monday, August 29, 2011

IM Book Review: Counterfeit Gospels

From a review by "Chaplain Mike" at Internet Monk of Trevin Wax's book Counterfeit Gospels
In my opinion, Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope, by Trevin Wax, represents the best kind of thinking and presentation that evangelicalism has to offer the broader church today at a level that pastors and serious laypeople can appreciate and find useful.

It is written in simple, clear language, yet represents solid, informed thinking.

It is well-organized into a presentation that is readily understandable, logical, sensible, and easy to teach.
It communicates a clear perspective and strong convictions, yet does so in a gracious and winsome manner.
It interacts well, not only with the New Reformed doctrinal positions that the author clearly sympathizes with, but also with many ideas and trends in other contemporary evangelical movements.

It remains tightly focused on problems inherent in today’s evangelicalism. It does not deal with other questions that might be asked regarding corruptions of the Gospel in the broader Christian family, but this allows Wax keep his diagnostic and prescriptive energies pinpointed on his target audience without trying to do too much.
I really want to read this book1

The Exchange

"The essence of Adam’s sin was that he put himself in God’s place. The essence of Christ’s obedience is that He put himself in our place. Because of his life in our place, and His death in our place, we are freed from our sins.....

....Because Jesus was filled with horror and cried out, “My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?” we are filled with wonder and cry, “My God, my God, why have you accepted me?”
Because Jesus said, “I thirst,” we can drink from the fountain of living water and never thirst again.
Because Jesus said, “Woman, behold your son,” and felt the pain of separation from His earthly family, we can experience the blessing of being united "ith a heavenly family.
Because Jesus cried, “It is finished!” our new life can begin.
Because Jesus committed His spirit into the Father’s hands, God commits His Spirit into our hearts.
Jesus is the Passover Lamb — the substitute that protects us from the wrath of God. He experienced the curse of God, the punishment for sin, the hellish torments of eternal damnation — all for the glory of God and the salvation of His people."
-Trevin Wax, Counterfeit Gospels, p. 97f
Hat Tip:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

He Cares!

I encourage you to meditate on these two verses whenever you feel discouraged. Your perception needs a dose of Scriptural reality:
“Look to the right and see:
there is none who takes notice of me;
no refuge remains to me;
no one cares for my soul.”
—Psalm 142:4
"Humble yourselves . . . under the mighty hand of God,
casting all your anxieties on him,
because he cares for you.”
—1 Peter 5:6-7
Hat Tip: Who Cares? – Justin Taylor:,

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sinful Prayers Answered

If this wasn't true, my prayers would not be answered, and neither would yours!
“The prayer which moves the arm of God is still a sinful prayer, and only moves that arm because the Sinless One, the great Mediator, has stepped in to take away the sin of our supplication.”
— Charles Spurgeon "The Sinner's Advocate"
Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Another Planned Parenthood Manager Quits and Goes Pro-Life

I've written before about Planned Parenthood clinic manager Abby Johnson who quit and became a pro-life spokesman. From LifeSite News comes more exciting news - Another Planned Parenthood manager quits and converts to pro-life.
In a story with clear echoes of the now famous conversion of former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson, four months ago a manager at a Planned Parenthood facility in Sherman, Texas resigned from her position with the abortion giant and is now speaking out about her pro-life conversion.
In a press release from 40 Days for Life-Dallas, Ramona Trevino explains that although the particular Planned Parenthood where she worked did not perform surgical abortions, she was struggling “with [her] conscience . . . on contraception, abortion and [her] role in it all.”
Just like Abby Johnson, Trevino credits a 40 Days for Life campaign outside her Planned Parenthood facility with helping her movement towards a pro-life way of thinking....
It's working. It's working! God be praised.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Reminding Yourself of the Gospel's Glory

I need to do this every day! You probably do too.
"There is a lot of (necessary) talk these days about preaching the gospel to yourself. This is truly a great need for every Christian. We all found ourselves slouching back to the self-promoting, self-worshiping default position of our hearts. That is, we forget the gospel.
But let’s be very clear about what it means to forget. We are not simply talking about forgetting facts or Bible verses. It is not like we somehow can’t remember the definition of substitutionary atonement or that Jesus came to save sinners. No, no, it is much bigger than this.
The Issue is Our Satisfied Delight
When we talk about forgetting the gospel we are talking about forgetting to see the glory of Christ in the gospel. That is, we forget to see the infinite value of Jesus as the redeemer. In this we see our infinite sinfulness, hopelessness, idolatry, and separation from God. The only thing we have to do with God apart from Jesus is to be on the wrong side of his barrel of divine wrath. So in seeing the beautiful sufficiency in Jesus, both his person and his work, we begin to delight in him as our Savior.
In other words, what we don’t just forget facts, but rather to delight in the glorious God behind the facts! Christ and his work is both historical and personal. That is, it happened in time and it happened for sinners like me and you! And the fact that it is successful and available for a rebel like me causes me to be amazed, humbled, refreshed and happy as I bask in the illuminating beams of the glory of Christ through the gospel.
More than an Upload of Data
Preaching the gospel to yourself is not just a mind exercise. You are not to be just reciting facts without the engagement of your heart. The gospel is to stir our minds with theological truth but that stirring also is like a divine oar in the water of our hearts, as it stirs us with rich gospel happiness.
In the gospel we are seeing the glory of Christ in his condescension for us; we see his infinite stooping to rescue infinite sinners and provide eternal righteousness. And then, one day, we’ll see his perfect righteousness and preserving power and unfailing love on full display as we, his bride, the church is wonderfully presented to him as holy, blameless, and beyond reproach. This is all done through his work as the husband par excellence washing us, his bride with his word (Eph. 5.25-27)"

Monday, August 22, 2011

Is The Main Thing The Only Thing?

Is The Main Thing The Only Thing?  An important question and insightful words from Joe Thorn's blog:
When I was in Bible College I often heard an old preacher tell the students, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Of course he wasn’t the first to say it, but I loved it. I still do.

Recently someone I respect asked me, “is it possible that within the ‘gospel-centered movement’ some people are making the main thing the only thing?”

It is a great question, and I think it does point to a problem of unhealthy reductionism among some well-meaning brothers and sisters. I believe this brother was essentially saying, “Look, our people need to know what their hope is before God. This is of first importance. But, they also need to know how to pray, fast, love, give, fight, and serve.” Of course, I agree with this sentiment.

There is more in God’s word than the gospel. God has given us his law to show us the way, uncover our corruption and condemnation, and point us to our need of redemption. There are commands to be obeyed, there is wisdom to learn and practice, and affections to feel and be moved by. But, the law itself is unable to create within us new hearts, or empower us to obey its demands. So let me say it this way: The gospel is the main thing, it is not the only thing. However, it is the only thing that brings life, power, and transformation. The gospel isn’t everything, but it does connect to everything, and preachers and teachers in the church must be able to show that connection lest we allow the church to drift (or even be lead) into various kinds of hopeless, powerless legalism.

More at the link.

Costly ,,, and Transformative!

“What looks more glorious? A God who loves us by ignoring our sin? Or a God who pays the enormous debt for our sin by taking it upon Himself? When sin is seen as the rebellion it is, grace is costly — and tranformative! When sin is shrunken to the point that our accountability to God is removed, then grace is cheap, and it leaves us unchanged.”

— Trevin Wax, Counterfeit Gospels (Chicago, Ill.: Moody Publishers, 2011), 55

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Sunday, August 21, 2011

God of the Open Ear

O God of the open ear,
Teach me to live by prayer as well as by providence,
for myself, soul, body, children, family, church.

Give me a heart frameable to Your will,
so I might live in prayer,
and honor You,
being kept from evil, known and unknown.

Help me to see the sin that accompanies all I do,
and the good I can distill from everything.

Help me not only to desire small things
but with holy boldness to desire great things
for Your people, for myself,
that they and I might live to show Your glory.

- from Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, adapted
Hat Tip: O God of the Open Ear : Kingdom People

Friday, August 19, 2011

Church Planting Churches

One of the greatest and most encouraging trends today is the growth of church planting networks. The Acts 29 Network is relatively well know.  Many denominations are active in church planting, including Southern Baptists and Vineyard. Another movement you may not have heard of is the Launch Network. Their vision is growing church planting churches!  What a concept!

OUTLIVE Update: June 26, 2011 from Carl Barnhill on Vimeo.

This Video is from Pinelake Church here in central Mississippi.  Pinelake is a church planting hub for Launch Network.

Mac Lake, the director of Launch, says the following:
At the LAUNCH Network we realized early on if we desire to have an exponential impact on church planting we can’t do it alone.  In fact, you may be surprised that we acknowledge we don’t actually plant churches.  Churches plant churches.  That’s why our primary focus is not the church planter but church planting churches.  We are a Leadership Development Network that helps churches in their efforts to build a local church planting network that inspires and equips church planters to lead strong.  Our strategy is to come along side churches bringing them processes, systems, models and curriculum that make’s their church planting efforts easier and more effective.  In addition, because we’re creating a national network of local LAUNCH Networks we can synergize their efforts, time, resources and best practices to make each other stronger and better.  We currently have LAUNCH Hubs in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Jackson, Birmingham and Winston-Salem 
 I'm excited about church planting as a way to bring more people into the kingdom and make disciples.  How about you?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Talkin' About Jackson (While It's Temporarily Cool)

One Righteous Babe (love the blog name) talks about living in Jackson, Mississippi, (where I also live) while it's temporarily cool due to the book and movie "The Help."
You basically need a passport to come to The South because it's like a whole 'nother part of the world. Like good ol' William Faulkner said "To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi."
Then she says:
Did you know that Mississippi has brought you people like William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Soulja Boy, Afroman, Oprah Winfrey, Jim Henson, Faith Hill, Morgan Freeman, 3 Doors Down, James Earl Jones and Jimmy Buffet.
And I love this:
"Mississippi is like my mother. I am allowed to complain about her all I want, but God help the person who raises an ill word about her around me, unless she is their mother too."
It's nice to be temporarily cool (even when the weather is hot!) .... And don't you talk bad about either Mississippi or my mother!

Cat & Dog Christians

“A cat goes, ‘oh my owner feeds for me, cares for me, cleans up after me…I must be God!’ And a dog goes, ‘my owner, my master, feeds for me, cares for me, cleans up after me…he must be God!’ And that’s why when you come home, your dog is all over you, and unless you have like .0000001% of cats, your cat could care less when you get home. And far too many evangelicals are feline in their theologies…‘Well god loves me, he’s for me…I’m the point!’ And when you’re the point, everything falls apart.”
Matt Chandler, quoted at Christians in Context: from orthodoxy to orthopraxy

My response: Woof, Woof, Bark, Bark!

Are You Nominal?

What is a nominal Christian? from Crossway on Vimeo.

Are you a "nominal Christian," i.e one who is a Christian in name only?  Mike McKinley, author of Am I Really a Christian?, says these are some signs of nominal Christianity:
  • They assume they’re a Christan or claim to be a Christian.
  • They have a Christian family.
  • They go to church.
  • But there’s no desire to know God better.
  • But they don’t find joy in reading the Bible.
  • But they don’t delight in God.
  • But they’re focused on other pleasures.
  • But they don’t go to God asking for forgiveness.
"Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!"  (2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

$0.98 Audiobooks

Special deal at until August 31 - 12 Books. Only $0.98 each.

Cheaper than a song!
Tough economic times mean cutting back on "non-essentials;" this probably includes a weekly vanilla latte (instead of twice daily) and wearing those shoes just a little while longer (after all, the hole isn't all the way through the sole). We understand and have had to make our own changes and cutbacks. We feel your pain and decided that your thoughtful mind, ears, and book collections shouldn't suffer!

Until August 31st, you can download one or all of the following twelve specially selected audiobooks for only $0.98 each...yup, that IS less than what you'd pay for a single song.

Barefoot Hope Continues

I've written before about Barefoot Hope, a ministry to the homeless in Tampa, Florida, started by my nephew, Zachary.  Here's their updated video.

Zach will be starting college this month, studying youth ministry at Florida Southern College, but the ministry in Tampa will continue.

BTW, they do take donations on-line, if you are so inclined.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"Christians Get Depressed Too"

From a review by Tim Challies of the book by David Murray - Christians Get Depressed Too:
The message at the heart of David Murray’s little book about depression is all in the title—Christians Get Depressed Too. This message is remarkably liberating. Immediately it clears away so many of the dangerous and unhelpful misconceptions. We wouldn’t want this to give license to wallow in depression, but we would want it to allow us to see and believe and understand that for many people depression is to the fallen mind what illness is to the fallen body....
....I believe this book’s greatest strength is its liberating message that depression does not need to be a source of shame and that it should not carry a taboo that causes those who suffer from it to hide away in shame. At the same time, it should not cause other people to respond with shock or scolding or judgment. Murray does a good job of aligning depression—mental or emotion suffering—with the physical suffering we all encounter in life. Though it may be caused by sin or aggravated by sin, we must not allow ourselves to assume that this is always the case.
Another strength is the book’s measured, pastoral tone. Too much writing on this subject falls prey to broad strokes and sweeping judgments. Murray makes it clear that he is no stranger to depression; he has faced it in his ministry and “among friends and some of those I love most in this world.” This leads him to speak carefully, to speak sensitively, and to use nuance where nuance is warranted. The person who is dealing with depression, with anxiety or with panic attacks will find sympathy and hope in the words of this book and in the gospel message it depends upon.

Whoe Lotta Shakin' Going on

I don't know about where you live, but where  I live and in my life there's a whole lotta shakin' going on!  Heres what my friend Ron Brakin says about it at 'How shaky R U today?
I can’t think of anyone I know who is not “going through it.” Shaky job. Shaky marriage. Shaky kids. Shaky finances. Shaky health. Shaky spirit.

There’s just a whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on. Everywhere on the face of the earth.
And we are surprised.

Even after God warned us in Hebrews 12 that, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words ‘once more’ indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’”....

.....Get it? Everything’s being shaken. But these are also wonderful words of comfort and encouragement. He’s assuring us that we don’t need to be shaky, even when everything around us is being tossed like a salad.
 lMuch more at the link.  Good job, Ron!

Monday, August 15, 2011

More Signs You Are Growing in Grace

Here's another installment from the series Signs You Are Growing in Grace, from Timmy Brister quoting Scotty Smith:
A sign you’re growing in grace: You don’t park your car half-way into another slot just to protect against dings.
A sign you’re growing in grace: Your conversation and attitude don’t convey as much “us versus them” arrogance & phobia.
A sign you’re growing in grace: You want people to hold you accountable for believing the gospel more than anything else.
A sign you’re growing in grace: You no longer confuse self-examination with self-flagellation. Freedom trumped bondage.
A sign you’re growing in grace: You no longer “should” all over yourself. Jesus’ performance matters most to you.
A sign you’re growing in grace: You don’t clear your throat to get soft or low talkers to speak louder.
A sign you’re growing in grace: Your increased use of the word “gospel” is surpassed by evidences of grace in your life.
A sign you’re growing in grace: You’ve learning to enjoy all of God’s good gifts without guilt or dependence on them.
A sign you’re growing in grace: You spend more time wrestling with God in private than whining about people in public.
A sign you’re growing in grace: You no longer suffer from delusions of adequacy.
A sign you’re growing in grace: You waste less energy turning legitimate desires into consuming needs.
A sign you’re growing in grace: Nobody is more grieved by your demanding and controlling ways than you. Grace is at work.
A sign you’re growing in grace: You don’t start talking faster and louder when you’re in persuasion mode.
A sign you’re growing in grace: You’re better at catching yourself importing old unrelated pain into a current story.
A sign you’re growing in grace: You don’t “fish around” trying to find what someone WANTS you to say before speaking.
A sign you’re growing in grace: When commenting on you kid’s music, u no longer say, “How can you listen to that junk?”
A sign you’re growing in grace: You look to build bridges between you & your kids, not throw grenades on the bridge.
A sign you’re growing in grace: You don’t pompously ask, “Who ate the last piece of cake?”, when you already know.
A sign you’re growing in grace:You’re learning to steward your anger, as opposed to dumping or stuffing it.
A sign you’re growing in grace: When someone gossips about you, you don’t immediately gossip about their gossip to others.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Job in a Tweet

I'm currently reading the Book of Job in my daily Bible reading plan, so I found this one sentence summary of the book humorous (if somewhat inadequate!)

From:  The book of Job summarized in a Tweet - 22 Words:

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Gospel in Two Chairs

I greatly enjoyed Brian Zahnd's book Unconditional. - the best book I've read this year. This video from is the first time I have heard him speak.

Very interesting presentation.  Watch the video before considering my further comments.

Brian contrasts what he considers two versions of the gospel story:  the western legal version and a patristic (from the early church fathers) redemptive version. My response is to ask why we have to choose between the two versions? There is nothing fundamentally contradictory or incompatible between the two summaries of the gospel message,.  I believe both are essentially Biblical.  They expand and compliment each other.

The only problem I have with Brian's presentation is the idea that the first version pits Jesus against God.  No way, God forbid! I have never heard the gospel taught that way.  God was in Christ, bearing His own just wrath on our behalf. Both versions properly understood show God as being like the Jesus of the four Gospels.

I refuse to choose between two Biblical presentations. I believe both. What do you think?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

It is Jesus...

“It is Jesus in fact that you seek when you dream of happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal”.

              – Pope John Paul II

Hat Tip: The Anchoress

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

On Temptations to Sin Via Social Media

Found a great post by Julian Freeman - Social Media and Temptations to Sin   - the kind of post that makes me say Ouch! He begins with:
Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, the list is endless and growing. The options and opportunities for engaging in online social media are legion. To be sure, as Tim Challies points out in The Next Story, technology is not in and of itself either good or bad. Christians must engage deliberately and discerningly in an effort to redeem the opportunities afforded by living in the age we do.
It must be stressed again, however, that this engagement must be thoughtful. If we say, 'I just like it' and then go full-steam, headlong into the world of facebook, twitter, or whatever, we will be setting ourselves up for disaster.
Here are just a few of the immediate temptations we need to be aware of that come hand-in-hand with participation in social media...

Much good stuff in the post about confusing words with action and the problem of empty speech (read it at the link) - but then he closes with this:
..Much of what happens in the social media world is measured by some kind of 'analytics.' Friends in Facebook, followers in Twitter, subscribers in the blog-world, etc. It is tempting to measure our success by how many people 'like' what we write or 'retweet' what we post. We can find value in having people follow us, becoming our 'online disciples' of sorts.
But consider Jesus's description of the Pharisees who set themselves up as teachers:
They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matt 23:5-12)
 Ouch! If he had also quoted James 3:1, I'd really have to say ouch!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

More Signs You Are Growing in Grace

Signs You Are Growing in Grace- the 22nd installment in a great series by Timmy Brister at Provocations & Pantings, quoting Scotty Smith. Just excellent points!
A sign you’re growing in grace: Though you’d like to put a sock in some people’s mouth, you don’t.
A sign you’re growing in grace: Given the choice, you’d rather God use you anonymously than friends celebrate you publicly.
A sign you’re growing in grace: People with chronic pain don’t feel pressure from you to change, suck up or be happy.
A sign you’re growing in grace: You consider the gift of sufficient grace just as precious as an instantaneous healing.
A sign you’re growing in grace: You let GOD define words like “blessing”, “prosperity” & “success”.
A sign you’re growing in grace: You now treat the whole Bible as a “red letter edition,” because it’s all about Jesus.
A sign you’re growing in grace: When you get cut off while driving, you don’t wrongly expand your children’s vocabulary.
A sign you’re growing in grace: You don’t assume you can drive 7% above the speed limit before you’re breaking the law.
A sign you’re growing in grace: Your spouse doesn’t experience you as being as picky or defensive as you used to be.
A sign you’re growing in grace: Quicker than ever, you’re able to apologize to your children and ask forgiveness.
A sign you’re growing in grace: It doesn’t take you nearly as long to go from being condescendingly perturbed to loving.
A sign you’re growing in grace: You hate & grieve bad theology, but you’re not hateful & cynical to bad theologians.
A sign you’re growing in grace: Your family doesn’t have to wonder what kind of attitude or mood you’ll bring home.
A sign you’re growing in grace: When greatly disappointed by someone, you long for heaven more than you look to get even.
A sign you’re growing in grace: When not copied on a group email or invited into Google+, you don’t smell a conspiracy.
A sign you’re growing in grace: When a friend/spouse makes you run late, you don’t punish them by driving like a maniac.
A sign you’re growing in grace: If you’re known for getting lost, you love your family well by using your GPS a lot.
A sign you’re growing in grace: You know there’s no idol with greater power over your heart than people idolatry.
A sign you”re growing in grace: You know the difference between singing worship songs and engaging with God.
A sign you’re growing in grace: You can even find something in stinking hot humid weather for which to give God praise.
I recommend you go read every installment. I do!

Killing Moralism With Grace

Great post by Joe Thorn at The Resurgence - Killing Moralism:
"Many Christians have grown up in the church on moralistic preaching; that is, preaching that calls for obedience without connecting the commands of God to the cross of Christ.

This disconnect is dangerous, potentially leading hearers into either self-loathing or self-righteousness. Moralistic preaching is often the ground in which the devil sows the seeds of legalism. Of course biblical preaching will always be relevant and call for a response, but how can we preach the commands of God without reducing our messages to moralism? Is the key to simply jump from the command “pray without ceasing” to the reality that Jesus suffered a vicarious, penal atonement? Well, that’s one way to do it. But, let me suggest three ways of preaching the commands of God that help us avoid the trap of moralism.....
Much more content at the link - please read the whole thing. He concludes:
....So yes, we can and must preach the whole counsel of God. We must call men and women to obey, but not for approval, nor apart from the truth of the God who gives and fulfills the law for us. I believe if we do this when teaching the commands of God we kill moralism and will, by the grace of God, see conviction and encouragement among the people.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Free eBook: The Cloud of Unknowing

eChristian.Com is offering a free download in electronic book format of the classic devotional work The Cloud of Unknowing :
Some things never change, including the human need to connect with our creator. Prayer and meditation on the divine are techniques that have been used for millennia to grow in the knowledge of God. Cloud of Unknowing documents techniques used by the medieval monastic community to build and maintain that contemplative knowledge of God.
Scholars date the anonymous authorship of Cloud of Unknowing to 1375, during the height of European monasticism. Written as a primer for the young monastic, the work is instructional, but does not have an austere didactic tone. Rather, the work embraces the reader with a maternal call to grow closer to God through meditation and prayer.
This eBook is in the Public Domain, has been pulled from CCEL, and is distributed for free on in accordance with their license requirements.
Did I mention that it is FREE. All you users of Kindle, Nook or other electronic readers should jump at this opportunity.

False Faces on Facebook

From B J Stockman - The "Hotmess" and False Perceptions of Facebook:
You are not your Facebook page, and you don’t need to be. Sure use social-networking, but don’t be unaware of its dangers and deceits. Your friend from college who posts every possible pregnant belly shot possible–doesn’t always look that good. Your old friend from childhood who dates his wife every other day–still has rough patches in their marriage. Your friends who live far away and have those funny and cute kids–aren’t always that funny and cute. O, and neither are you quite that remarkable.
Your Facebook is not you nor is it your friends. Don’t trade the illusions of social networking for the difficulty and beauty of real relationships. What matters most about you is not what is visual–what is seen on the outside via Facebook or whatever–but what is internal.
Facebook tempts us to post things that increase the currency of our like-ability and indulge in the fear of man. The gospel of Jesus rescues you from the need to show how “hot” you are in whatever area of your life you deem important enough to be publicly personified so that people will “like” you. No matter what your Facebook page reveals about you, your life is messy and in desperate need of the life-changing grace and love that Jesus freely gives to those who trust him. The good news is that if you die to yourself and your identity and trust who God is for you in Jesus he gives you a glorious identity: “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you will also appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:3-4)
When you awaken to the reality of this glorious identity you may still use Facebook but it won’t shape who you are. The glory of your identity–your whole life–being “with Christ” and “in God” empties Facebook of its allure of false perceptions and being liked.
Hat Tip: Facebook, the Fear of Man, and the Gospel

War on Crisis Pregnancy Centers

From Albert Mohler's article - The Culture of Death Grows Desperate: War Declared on Crisis Pregnancy Centers:
The way this issue is framed by many in the major national media was made clear in an August 2, 2011 report in The New York Times. Reporter Jesse McKinley began his article with this remarkable sentence:
“Seeking to stem what they call misleading advertising, San Francisco officials on Tuesday began a two-pronged attack on ‘crisis pregnancy centers,’ which are billed as places for pregnant women to get advice, but often use counseling to discourage abortions.”
Look carefully at that sentence. The conjunction “but” is intended to contrast the phrases linked together. Thus, McKinley writes that the crisis pregnancy centers “are billed as places for pregnant women to get advice,” but they “often use counseling to discourage abortion.” In other words, he insinuates that if crisis pregnancy centers “use counseling to discourage abortions,” they are not “places for women to get advice.” Evidently, the only acceptable “advice” is counseling that encourages a woman to abort the baby within her.
This is the logic of the Culture of Death laid bare for all to see. Crisis pregnancy centers deserve the support of all who cherish the sanctity of life, the defense of the unborn, and the right of free speech.
As defenders of life, crisis pregnancy centers should be committed to nothing less than comprehensive truth-telling. It is the Culture of Death, and not the Culture of Life, that fears the truth.
Much more content at the link above.

For more happy news see Some Positive pro-Life Trends.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Enjoying Quiddity

You may have heard the Latin phrase "Quid Pro Quo," meaning "this for that" or "a thing for a thing,". signifiing a favor exchanged for a favor.  Quiddity is a interesting new word for me, which I found in a post by Justin Taylor (The Gospel and It-ness – Justin Taylor) quoting C.S. Lewis.  The word means the essence of an object, literally its "whatness," or "what it is." Taylor says:
The first step to real gospel joy is real gospel brokenness. We cannot get to real happiness in God until we get to real despair of our sin. “Til sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet,” Thomas Watson tells us.

But once we have despaired of all sin and the gods at their genesis, we are free. Really, truly free. To eat fat juicy steaks and drink rich red wine.

In fact, we cannot really enjoy the good gifts God gives us until he as their Giver is our greatest joy. Until he as their Giver is our greatest joy, we will left trying to enjoy his gifts for things they are not, rather than the things they are.

In Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis credited a close friend with cultivating in him “a determination to rub one’s nose in the very quiddity of each thing, to rejoice in its being so magnificently what it was.” John Piper echoes this enjoyment of quiddity, commenting on this kind of awareness: “To wake up in the morning and be aware of the firmness of the mattress, the warmth of the sun’s rays, the sound of the clock ticking, the sheer being of things… “ This is in Piper’s book Don’t Waste Your Life.

If I don’t believe the gospel, I will miss out on the joy of the it-ness of things. I will be looking to these things as drugs, as appetite-fillers, as fulfillers, as powers, as gods, as worshipers of the god of myself.

If coffee or chocolate or anything else other than God is the highlight of my day or the ultimate joy of my heart, my joy is temporary, hollow, thin.

But if I believe in the gospel, I can finally enjoy the chocolate-ness of chocolate and the coffee-ness of coffee. Only the gospel frees me to enjoy things as they truly are and as they someday will be.
 I'm determined to walk in the grace and acceptance of God in Christ, not look idolatrously on anything or anyone else to meet my emotional or spiritual needs, and thereby be free to enjoy the quiddity of all he gives me (including a good steak for tonight's dinner). How about you?

However, if you prefer to enjoy chocolate instead of steak, I'll understand.

Talking to Yourself

The above video features John Piper commenting on the message of one of my favorite psalms passages, Psalm 42:5  - "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation"

Hat Tip:  The Gospel-Driven Church: Stop Listening to Yourself and Start Talking to Yourself:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Forget Where is Waldo; Why is Waldo?

Who knew that Waldo was an Existentialist?

 Hat Tip:  Existential Waldo - 22 Words:

Not Distant, Not Indifferent

“If you think God is far away and indifferent, here is the surprising revelation. From the foundation of the world, God knew your sufferings and declared that he himself would take human form and participate in them (which means that we too could share in his). This is not a distant, indifferent God.”
  — Edward T. Welch, Depression: A Stubborn Darkness Winston-Salem, NC: Punch Press, 2004), 48

Hat Tip: Of First Importance