Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ladies Need Theology

From Ladies: Do Not Shy Away from Theology  by Jessica Thompson, co-author of Give Them Grace 
When I say the word “theology” what scary picture rushes into your mind? A thin man with a long white beard, and a monotone voice droning on and on about words you can’t understand? Or a group of people arguing seemingly about nothing but semantics? Or a book that you know you probably should read, but every attempt results in narcolepsy?

Let me paint a different picture for you: A woman sitting at the feet of her Rescuer, discovering the greatest love of her life; His likes and dislikes; pushing herself into who He is, relishing every aspect of His beautiful, amazing character. This, my sisters, is what theology is. Theology contemplates God, discovers the God you have pledged yourself to. As women, we study and want intimate knowledge of those we love, of those we are in relationship with. Why would we shy away from or snub knowing the One that knows us most fully?

Theology isn’t just a scary word. Theology, knowing God, is what will keep you when the trials come. If you have a false idea about God, you won’t be able to understand why He would allow suffering or hurt to come into your life....
More at the link.

Heart Guarding for Guys

Blogger "Jamie the Very Worst Missionary" has some wise words for guys on guarding our hearts.  Wise words, even if stated in her usual humorous and self-depreciating manner. Speaking of Proverbs 4:23 she concludes:

When I look around the church, when I talk amongst my friends, when I peek into the world - I see men who are broken and hurting, men tied to their addictions, men out of control, men drowning in lust, so many men longing for peace and grace and mercy, and in desperate need of restoration for their tattered and broken hearts. Hearts that have gone unguarded for far too long. And I want to break this verse like an alabaster jar over their brows. I want to pour out the perfume of Redemption on their lives. I want to release the words of Solomon to his sons, that they may be free to take up their spears and stand guard over their own hearts, because their hearts are worthy of the effort.... above all else....

"Above all else, guard your heart, 
for it is the wellspring of life."

...Above all else..... above all else.... above all else..... guard your heart, Bro. 
Much more at the link.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Repenting for the Way We Repent

Interesting post at the blog Forward Progress about Repenting for the Way We Repent
Martin Luther’s first of 95 thesis reads like this: “When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ said repent, He meant that the entire lives of believers should be of repentance.”
That’s a big call, but one you find to be true as you grow in Christ. Repentance isn’t a one time thing; it’s a lifestyle. When you’re a child, repenting often meant saying you’re sorry and really meaning it. But as you grow in Christ (and in age), you become more self-aware. And as you do, you start to find some disturbing things in play within you.
You find just how duplicitous your motives can be.
You discover how great is your capacity to deceive yourself.
And, in the case of repentance, you find that often when you repent, you don’t really mean it. You’re sorry for the consequences of the sin, but maybe not the sin itself. Or you make internal excuses for your actions, saying you’re sorry, but all the time justifying what you’ve done.
As our capacity for repentance increases, we find that we might need to repent of the very manner in which we are repenting.
More at the link. He goes on to say that we should not allow this concept to paralyze us with guilt, but rather to preach the gospel to ourselves even while repenting. The blood of Christ covers our sin and our inability ot properly repent of those sins. What a wonderful Savior!

Immeasurably Better

"Although it hurts us when he takes his own from us, his good will should be a greater comfort to us than all his gifts, for God is immeasurably better than all his gifts."

Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel, trans. and ed., Theodore G. Tappert, 1960, (Vancouver, BC: Regent College Publishing, 2003), 54.

Hat Tip:  Desiring God

Monday, November 28, 2011

Purified Thinking

“There is no other object of knowledge in the universe that exposes proud, man-exalting thinking like the cross does. Only humble, Christ-exalting thinking can survive in the presence of the cross. The effect of the cross on our thinking is not to cut off thinking about God, but to confound boasting in the presence of God. The cross does not nullify thinking; it purifies thinking.”

— John Piper, Thinking. Loving. Doing., ed. John Piper & David Mathis
(Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2011), 132

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Love God, Hate Idols

 "Little children, keep yourselves from idols."  (1 John 5:21 ESV)

I have often wondered why the First Epistle of John (one of my favorite books of the Bible) ends with the above emphatic command, which seems almost out of place to the themes of the body of the letter (living right, loving one another and believing the right things about Jesus). David Powlison has a good answer:
.....John’s last line properly leaves us with that most basic question which God continually poses to each human heart.

Has something or someone besides Jesus the Christ taken title to your heart’s trust, preoccupation, loyalty, service, fear and delight? 

It is a question bearing on the immediate motivation for one’s behavior, thoughts, and feelings. In the Bible’s conceptualization, the motivation question is the lordship question.

Who or what “rules” my behavior, the Lord or a substitute? 

The undesirable answers to this question—answers which inform our understanding of the “idolatry” we are to avoid—are most graphically presented in 1 John 2:15-17, 3:7-10, 4:1-6, and 5:19. It is striking how these verses portray a confluence of the “sociological,” the “psychological,” and the “demonological” perspectives on idolatrous motivation.

The inwardness of motivation is captured by the inordinate and proud “desires of the flesh” (1 John 2:16), our inertial self-centeredness, the wants, hopes, fears, expectations, “needs” that crowd our hearts.

The externality of motivation is captured by “the world” (1 John 2:15-17,4:1-6), all that invites, models, reinforces, and conditions us into such inertia, teaching us lies.

The “demonological” dimension of motivation
is the Devil’s behavior-determining lordship (1 John 3:7-10,5:19), standing as a ruler over his kingdom of flesh and world.

In contrast, to “keep yourself from idols” is to live with a whole heart of faith in Jesus. It is to be controlled by all that lies behind the address “Beloved children” (see especially 1 John 3:1-3,4:7-5:12). The alternative to Jesus, the swarm of alternatives, whether approached through the lens of flesh, world, or the Evil One, is idolatry.

Hat Tip: Justin Taylor

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Priority of Biblical Literacy

I have long been a strong proponent of Bible reading as a spiritual discipline, and the benefit and necessity of Christians becoming intimately familiar with the Scriptures. Here's good comments from Ed Stentzer at Lifeway on The Urgent Need for Biblical Literacy
......There is much research that shows the correlation between spiritual maturity and reading the Bible. In Brad Waggoner's book "The Shape of Faith to Come," which is based on a LifeWay Research study, and in George Guthrie's "Read the Bible for Life" material, we see that reading the Bible is the best predictor of spiritual maturity. In other words, if you are in the Bible, you are growing spiritually.

Many people are realizing that we aren't making as many disciples as we would like. Studies done by LifeWay Research show a lack of discipleship among many evangelical Christians. So we need to ask: What's the answer to that? Issues such as preaching, missional living and "doing life" in a covenant community are all part of the solution. But I think there's no question that an essential element is leading God's people to consistently engage God's Word through reading, studying and memorization. Biblical illiteracy is prevalent and personal commitment to God's Word is the only real answer......

....Perhaps what evangelicals need most right now is a strategy for biblical literacy. We need to reengage the biblical narrative and immerse ourselves in consistent study. It will help us be more gracious and winsome in the way we communicate. It will help us have a clearer view on controversial issues. It will help us to understand and communicate a clear Gospel as laid out in the Scriptures -- a Gospel of the cross and of the Kingdom. The Word of God is essential to where we are right now.

Nearer to Hell

"...a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither."

- C. S, Lewis

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Root and Fruit of the Problem

What is the root of all sin?  Pride?  Greed? No, it is Unbelief - not believing the good news, according to Tullian Tchvidjian
Temptation is a false promise–a promise that doesn’t deliver. When we give into temptation, we are believing a lie. In the moment that we’re being tempted to do something, say something, or believe something, there is a deeper temptation happening under the surface. This may come as a surprise to you, but temptation has more to do with belief than it does behavior. Every temptation to sin (going all the way back to the Garden of Eden) is, at it’s root, a temptation to disbelieve the gospel.
When we are being tempted, we are being enticed to purchase something we think we need in order to escape the judgement of emptiness. On the surface, the bait might be lust, anger, greed, self-pity, defensiveness, entitlement, revenge, having to win, and so on. But the only reason we take the bait is because we think it will satisfy our deeper hunger for meaning, freedom, validation, respect, empowerment, affection, a sense of identity, worth, and so on.

So, here’s the connection between sinning (the fruit of the problem) and unbelief (the root of the problem): our failure to lay aside the sin that so easily entangles is the direct result of our refusal to believe in the rich provisional resources that are already ours in Christ–we’re not believing that, by virtue of our Spirit-wrought union with Christ, everything we need and long for, we already possess. John Calvin rightly said that, “Christians are in perpetual conflict with their own unbelief.”
Much more at the link.  I could spend many hours thinking through the meaning and implications of this brief quote ..... and probably should!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Marriage: Painful and Wonderful

More good stuff from Tim Keller's The Meaning of Marriage (Dutton, 2011), pages 47–49:
So, what do you need to make marriage work?
You need to know the secret, the gospel, and how it gives you both the power and pattern for your marriage. On the one hand, the experience of marriage will unveil the beauty and depths of the gospel to you. It will drive you further into reliance on it. On the other hand, a greater understanding of the gospel will help you experience deeper and deeper union with each other as the years go on.
There, then, is the message of this book — that through marriage the mystery of the gospel is unveiled. Marriage is a major vehicle for the gospel’s remaking of your heart from the inside out and your life from the ground up.
The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. This is the only kind of relationship that will really transform us.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Getting Some Perspective

Jollyblogger (aka David Wayne, pastor and cancer patient) posted a humbling and necessary reminder of our real status today. His comments are partially a response to this old post from Carl Trueman, An Unmessianic Sense of Non-Destiny., which I previously referenced here.
I think it’s time to say goodbye the Christian industrial complex, the evangelical hype and marketing machine that promises life change every Thursday and promises that you, yes, you, and me yes me, can change the world. Hogwash. None of us is required to change the world for Christ, Christ has changed the world permanently, none of us can do anything about it. Everyone wants to change the world, no one wants to do the dishes or take out the trash. I would trade every kid who takes a mission trip to change the world for one who would stay home and clean his room, treat his brother like a human being and help mom around the house without being asked twice. Changing the world is easy, the latter is harder and far more Christlike.
The same goes for adults – I don’t need to become a great leader, I need to prepare a regular ol’ word based sermon for Sunday, make some phone calls to some shut ins, listen to my elders instead of sharing my vision with them and generally be available to my congregation.

More Mercy

“There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us.”
— Richard Sibbes, Works, Vol. 1
(Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1979), 47

Something to be THANKFUL for!

Hat Tip: Of First Importance:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Frozen Chosen

From:  The Sacred Sandwich:

The Far Side

I want to reemphasize one line from the Tim Keller quote in the previous post:
"If you understand what holiness is, you come to see that real happiness is on the far side of holiness, not on the near side."

Wow! Just totally wow.

Holiness and Happiness in Marriage

From Tim Keller's new book mentioned in the previous post:
"A parishioner heard me preach on Ephesians 5, where Paul says that the purpose of marriage is to “sanctify” us. She said, “I thought the whole point of marriage was to be happy! You make it sound like a lot of work.” She was right—marriage is a lot of work—but she was wrong to pit that against happiness, and here is why. Paul is saying that one of the main purposes of marriage is to make us “holy . . . without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish” (verses 26–27). What does that mean? It means to have Jesus’s character reproduced in us, outlined as the “fruit of the Spirit”—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithful integrity, gentle humility, and self-control—in Galatians 5:22–25.

When Jesus’s love, wisdom, and greatness are formed in us, each with our own unique gifts and callings, we become our “true selves,” the persons we were created to be. Every page in the Bible cries that the journey to this horizon cannot be accomplished alone. We must face it and share it with brothers and sisters, friends of our heart. And the very best human friendship possible for that adventure is with the lover-friend who is your spouse.

Is all this a lot of work?

Indeed it is—but it is the work we were built to do. Does this mean “marriage is not about being happy; it’s about being holy”? Yes and no. As we have seen, that is too stark a contrast. If you understand what holiness is, you come to see that real happiness is on the far side of holiness, not on the near side. Holiness gives us new desires and brings old desires into line with one another.

So if we want to be happy in marriage, we will accept that marriage is designed to make us holy."

- Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, pages 132-133

Hat Tip: Take Your Vitamin Z

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Defining Marriage in a Kardashian World

Tim Keller was interviewed on Fox News the other day on the subject of the meaning of marriage in the light of the Kardashian fiasco, and the general state of marriage in American society. The interview is prompted by the publishing of the new book he co-authored with his wife, Kathy Keller, entitled The Meaning of Marriage.

The video is below. Please excuse the advertisement you have to listen to to get to the interview: I have no control over that. But the interview is well worth the wait.

Hat Tip: Vitamin Z

ESV Bibles on Sale at Westminster

If you like the English Standard Version of the Bible (as I do), check out the great sale at Westminster Books - All ESV Bibles at 40 to 45% off! Just in time for Christmas gifts.

Hat Tip: All ESV Bibles on Sale – Justin Taylor:

Thankful for Your Bible? Help Give Bibles Away!

For those of you who use Facebook, here's an easy way to  give Bibles to some people who really need them via Crossway Books:
That’s why this Thanksgiving week, as a way to raise awareness for how important books are in passing truth on to the next generation, Crossway is inviting you to help send Study Bibles to leaders in the Global South (in partnership with our friends at Desiring God).

It’s super easy.

Through next Monday (11/28), for every new “Like” on our Facebook page, Crossway will give $1 worth of Study Bibles through Desiring God’s International Outreach initiative. Every Study Bible given will go directly to our brothers and sisters in the Global South, many of whom are hungry for tools to better understand, apply, and share God’s Word.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Smokin' Hot!

"May you be comforted by the burning protective strength of your Father’s strong and stormy love.
May you be captivated by the focused heat and glow of your Bridegroom’s jealous passion.
May you recline at peace and with veiled face bow.

May you be thrilled and terrified at the rampaging, irresistible zeal of this consuming fire who has pledged Himself to do you good all the days of your life and who will not hold back even if the good seems bad, and stings and burns and blisters your skin.

May your heart thrill at the awesome God who held nothing back that He might hold you close, who poured on His Son what He never deserved that you might receive forever what you would not have desired, but were created for.

Then may your own heart become an altar aflame with fiery love and exclusive zeal to bring Him glory and expand His praise among all peoples and nations—among your friends and enemies too."

  - Timothy Stoner,  The God Who Smokes: Scandalous Meditations on Faith

Hat Tip: Trevin Wax at Kingdom People

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Everything You Need .....And More

"You can never be richer than the man who has Christ and nothing else. Because the man who has Christ has everything He needs and more." 
- Tullian Tchividjian

Friday, November 18, 2011

More Than 18 Dollars? Priceless!

Perry Noble posted a cute story of telling his 3 year old that he loved her more than she could imagine. She responds, “Do You Love Me More Than 18 Dollars?” Apparantly, that was the biggest number a 3 year old could imagine. He assured her he loved her more than even $18! He goes on the say:
When I left her room, laughing at how “cute” that moment was, I felt the Lord move in my heart and show me that trying to comprehend his love for me is like Charisse trying to comprehend my love for her; my mind could never conceive it! (Ephesians 3:17-19). God loves his children, not based on their performance, but rather as their position as his children.
If you belong to Jesus, God’s love for you is more powerful than the sin that seems to haunt you:
  • God loves you even though you are wrestling through an addiction
  • God loves you despite the abortion
  • God loves you even though the divorce was finalized
  • God loves you even though you can’t stop thinking about your past
  • God loves you even though you rejected his love and sought to be religious to gain his approval
  • God loves you even though you turned your back on him and ran as hard as you could
He loves you because you are his child (Romans 8:38-39) and the love he has for us is greater than anything we could imagine or fathom. When we try to describe his love we wind up saying really silly things like, “God, do you love me more than $18?” To which he replies, I love you more than you could ever imagine.
If you belong to Jesus, God’s love for you is more powerful than the sin that seems to haunt you.
Truth! Hard to believe at times - but so true.

From Do You Love Me More Than 18 Dollars? | The Resurgence:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Good Blasphemy

"A bride joined to her groom forsakes all others. She writes the spiritual equivalent of Dear John letters to her idols. When God's love captivates you, you go around spurning all your other lovers. I call this "blaspheming" your idols.

Blaspheme them. Tell them they have no appeal to you anymore. Tell them you don't need their damage, their pain, their anti-glories. Tell them you have no desires to use and abuse them anymore. Tell them your heart, mind, soul, and strength belong wholly to God now. And then don't speak as a love to them ever again. Sinful relationships must end."
 From Jared Wilson's book, Gospel Wakefulness, page 70

Hat Tip: Reformissionary: Blaspheme Your Idols:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Forgiveness is NOT….

7 Things Forgiveness is NOT….  from Ron Edmondson:
....Forgiveness is not an option for the believer. We are to forgive others as we have been forgiven. For most of us (all of us if we will admit it), that’s a whole lot of forgiveness. Understanding forgiveness doesn’t make it easier to forgive, but it does make it more meaningful…perhaps even tolerable…but I believe understanding the process could make us more likely to offer the forgiveness we are commanded to give....

...Here are 7 things forgiveness IS NOT:
Forgetting - When you forgive someone your memory isn’t suddenly wiped clean of the offense. I know God could do that, but it seems that would be the easy way. I suspect God wants forgiveness to be more intentional than that.
Regaining automatic trust - You don’t immediately trust the person who injured you when you forgive them. That wouldn’t even be logical. Trust is earned, and they must earn trust again.
Removal of consequences – Even though you forgive someone, they may still have consequences to face because of their actions.
Ignoring the offense – You don’t have to pretend nothing happened when you forgive. The reality is an offense was made. Acting like it never occurred only builds resentment and anger.
Instant emotional healing – Emotions heal with time. Some pain runs deep and takes longer to heal.
Restoring the same relationship – The relationship may be closer than before or not, but most likely it will never be the same.
A leverage of powerGranting forgiveness does not give a person power over the person being forgiven. That would violate the entire principle and purpose of forgiveness.....
Hat Tip: Blogotional

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Helping The Depressed

Ministering to the Depressed from HeadHeartHand Media on Vimeo.
by David Murray, author of Christians Get Depressed Too:

Hat Tip: Justin Taylor

The Mega Egyptian Prayer Meeeting

Andrew at Tall Skinny Kiwi has some details on the historic prayer meeting in Egypt held last Friday.
- 71,000 attended the all-night prayer meeting in Cario.
- It was the largest Christian event in Egypt for over a thousand years
- It was held at the cave church on Cairo's largest garbage city, Mokattam. This church is called St Simeon the Tanner Coptic Orthodox Church.
- The gospel was proclaimed during the Prayer event and some people responded to the challenge call to follow Jesus.
- Prayers for healing were made at midnight and some people were healed of physical problems.
- Since the event, one Egyptian Christian leader told us "The heavens are clean! It is easy to pray!" He calls it the beginning of revival.

More at the link.

Serenty Revised

Most people have heard of the Serenity Prayer, usually attributed to Reinhold Neibuhr and widely used by 12 Step Recovery groups.
"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference."
But have you heard this variation:
"God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it's me."
A lot of wisdom in both versions for our consideration.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Remember Sayed Musa

I wrote a while back about Afghan Christian Sayad Musa, who was threatened with death for converting to Christianity. The first interview with him since his release from prison has been published by World Magazine. The article includes additional information about the persecution of Christians in Afghanistan.

Hat Tip:  Kingdom People

Path to Happiness

Hat Tip:  22 Words

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Remember The Persecuted Church

Sunday, November 13, 2011, is the  International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, a global day of remembrance and intercession for persecuted Christians worldwide. This is a day to remember and pray for the hundreds of men, women, and children suffering for (and even dying for) Jesus Christ each day, fellow saints who are ignored by the world but watched by the eyes of heaven. You can learn more about this here and here and here and here,

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Don't Try to Do God's Job!

The default position of every human heart (my heart and yours too) is legalism and self justification. The words below are from an article at The Resurgence entitled I Just Need To Give Myself Grace:
We all create rules to follow that make us feel like we’re closer to God. This is a sin called legalism. We add rules that God doesn’t ask us to follow, feel good when we do them, or bad when we don’t, and in the process we create a new law.

Your laws are a burden

Some people make daily Bible reading into law. They feel justified and holy when they read, but guilty when they don’t. This is messed up because the point of reading the Bible is to draw closer to God, to love him more, understand him better, and have your heart transformed—but it’s easy to take the gift of the Bible and turn it into a burden. It only becomes a burden when you use reading the Bible or any other new law that you create to make you feel righteous, instead of understanding that you are only made righteous by Christ.

You can't do God's job

You can often tell someone has created a new law for themselves when they use a phrase like, “I need to give myself grace.” 

When you catch yourself saying this in your heart or aloud you need to realize that you’re assuming two things:

      1. You’ve created a law you’re not following.

      2. You are assuming God’s position in trying to give yourself grace. 

It’s so easy to use Christian-sounding words in anti-Christ ways. Repentance is a good thing; it’s one of the great gifts the Father gives us, the Son won for us, and the Spirit empowers us to do—but the important question is “who are you repenting to?

Don’t repent to false gods, ever

When you create your own law and violate it, you are sinning against the false god of self. When you worship money and don’t have enough, don’t repent to it and pour yourself out for the money. When you worship sex and don’t have it the way you want it, don’t repent to this idol and bow down at other altars. When you worship ministry, don’t offer your spouse, kids, and relationship with Jesus on this idol's altar. Repentance to false gods will harden your heart from true repentance....
 More at the link above.

The Original Tablet Computer

Hat Tip: Take Your Vitamin Z: Tablets Have Been Around For a Long Time

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cancelled Handwriting!

C. S. Lewis, in a letter to his priest, December 1951--
So great is the difference between mere affirmation by the intellect and that faith, fixed in the very marrow and as it were palpable, which the Apostle wrote was substance (Hebrews 11:1).

This emboldens me to say to you something that a layman ought scarcely to say to a priest nor a junior to a senior. (On the other hand, out of the mouths of babes: indeed, as once to Balaam, out of the mouth of an ass!). It is this: you write much about your own sins. Beware (permit me, my dearest Father, to say beware) lest humility should pass over into anxiety or sadness. It is bidden us to "rejoice and always rejoice" (Phil 4:4). Jesus has cancelled the handwriting which was against us (Col. 2:14-15). Lift up our hearts!
--The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Vol. 3 (Harper, 2007), 151-52

Hat Tip: Strawberry-Rhubarb Theology:

Veterans Day 2011

 Today is Veterans Day in the USA. November 11 was originally called Armistice Day, in memory of the end of World War I. It is now called Veterans Day in honor of all U.S. military veterans.I wish to make special recognition today for and to:

1. My Dad (Col. B.F. Simmons, USAF, retired), my late Grandfather (Jefferson L. Simmons, Mississippi National Guard in WWI in France), my late Uncle Franklin Simmons (Navy "Sea Bee" in WWII), Uncle Charles Shirley (Air Force), Uncle Hal Shirley (Army National Guard), Uncle Cranford Nelson (Navy), Cousin Harry Nelson (Navy), Cousin Jimmy Walters (Marine Corps), Cousin Shain Vice (Major, US Army), Brother-in-law Gary Meier (Army), nephew Dale Meier (Army, 82nd Airborne), and any other family members I'm forgetting.

2. All our men and women serving and protecting us on the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan, and many other places around the world.

3. All current and retired American veterans.

4. The families of those lost in Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan, and so many other places.

I am thankful and grateful for your service and sacrifice.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thankful for Laughter

Love this little prayer from The Anchoress. As she says, "Laughter is not just good medicine. Sometimes having the opportunity to laugh segues into a prayer of thanksgiving:"
Thank you, God, for the interruption to a hectic day, and the cleansing effect of a laugh. Thank you God that I can hear and see this, in order to so fully enjoy it. Thank you that my lungs work, so I can bark out “HA! That’s funny!” and it heals me more effectively than a thousand sighs. Thank you for the Holy Spirit, who moves on the air I breath, and therefore on all of my tears and laughter and carries them where you will. Thank you for the good friend who sent this to me, and the fact that I have any friends at all. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for my life, I do not appreciate enough.
Thank you, God, that a few minutes spent in frivolity only led me back to you, who — being all good — can only be my joy.
I needed that. Thanks for the laugh, Lord!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Come and Die

From a challenging article by Dane Ortland at The Resurgence:
Jesus’ secret to joy and life was simple: Die.

If anyone would come after me,” he said, “let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:34–35).
Against what all our instincts of self-preservation whisper to us every day, total surrender to Jesus is the safest investment we can make.
For disciples of Jesus, the gospel of grace not only plucks them from the easy path to hell but also places them on the hard path to heaven. “When Christ calls a man,” wrote the German martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “he bids him come and die.”

That’s more than a cute tweet.
  Read the whole thing at the link.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Greenhouse Goodness

"The Christian thinks any good he does comes from the Christ-life inside him. He does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because he loves us; just as the roof of a greenhouse does not attract the sun because it is bright, but becomes bright because the sun shines on it."

             -C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book 2, chapter 5

Hat Tip: Strawberry-Rhubarb Theology

Monday, November 7, 2011

To Love is to be Vulnerable

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

          ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Redemption Video

Good little video from a church's (South Hills Evangelical Church, Missoula, Montana) Easter 2011 celebration, entitled "He Has Sent Redemption."  Well done!

Hat Tip: Challies Dot Com

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thanks to My Blog Followers!

Every time I see a new person has signed up to follow "The Journeyman's Files" via Google or Networked Blogs or, I am totally amazed. I am especially astounded by the new followers whom I do not know personally, either in real life or as "cyber friends."  The honor you do me by paying any attention to my meandering words and internet harvestings is only eclipsed by the responsibility I feel to not let you down. (See the "You Have a Right to Know" tab above).

Thank you!  I really wonder how people find this place. If you would be so willing, please leave a comment as to how you found my blog. But whether you do or do not wish to do that, I thank you anyway.  Thanks to all of you; I am very grateful.

Five Sola's

On my Facebook profile I list my "religious views" as "One God, Three Persons, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, Five Solas - and One Wife!" I stole that from a friend (thanks Rick!).

"Five Solas?"  I'm so glad you asked! For an explanation of what that means check out this article at Five Christian Mottos from the Reformation- Credo Magazine:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The God of the Cross

I'm still trying to digest Carl Trueman's words from yesterday, and now he has added this continued discussion at The God of the Cross - Reformation21 Blog: -
...The love of human beings is fundamentally reactive: the lover sees something intrinsically lovely in the beloved which draws out his love towards her; her loveliness precedes and indeed causes the love of the lover. That is how the theologian of glory thinks of God's love: I thank you, Lord, that I am not like other men....

The God of the cross, however, is far different. He delights in setting his love on the unlovely and thereby making them lovely. That is the logic of 1 Corinthians 1: the church, built in the midst of a port town, undoubtedly contained a high proportion of those who would have been regarded as the scum of the earth - the poor, the weak, former prostitutes, the sexually profligate; yet God chose these, the things that are not, to shame the things that are. The logic of the cross itself is manifested in the fact that God's love is no respecter of persons as society respects persons; God delights rather in loving those that are most despised.

Again, this is a word both of grace and of judgment on the contemporary church. Of grace, because it reminds us of God's promise that He - He and not we - will build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail against her. Only a God of the cross and of creative love can make and keep such a promise. Surely there is nothing greater that can give us confidence than the thought that it is ultimately God who gives the increase.

The Story Behind the Hymn “It Is Well with My Soul”

Hat Tip :The True Story Behind the Hymn “It Is Well with My Soul” – Justin Taylor:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, 
 when sorrows like sea billows roll; 
 whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, 
 It is well, it is well with my soul. 

Affirming the Gospel vs. Experiencing the Gospel

Some thoughts on belief and experience from Tullian Tchvidjian's new book at Crossway - I really want to read this book!
It’s one thing to affirm the gospel; it’s something altogether different to experience its power where the rubber meets the road of life. How does the finished work of Christ become real to me at my point of need? How does what Christ accomplished for sinners two thousand years ago become vivid and tangible in the moment of temptation, or in the moment when I’m desperately longing for human approval and affection? As I make my way across the wilderness of this life, how does the reality of the ongoing power of the gospel change me, help me, and serve me here and now? How does the gospel connect with my daily grind?

Thinking out the deep implications of the gospel and applying its powerful reality to all parts of my life is a daily challenge and a daily adventure. Theologically I understand that the gospel didn’t just ignite my Christian life but that it’s also the fuel that keeps me going and growing every day. My challenge is understanding how this works functionally. So, here are a few questions I go back to all the time that help me make the connection between what Christ accomplished for me and my daily internal grind:
  • Since Jesus secured my pardon and absorbed the Father’s wrath on my behalf so that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” how does that impact my longing for approval, my tendency to be controlling, and my fear of the unknown?
  • How do the life, death, and resurrection of Christ affect my thirst for security, affection, protection, meaning, and purpose? In other words, how does the finished work of the one “exposed, ravaged, ruined, and resurrected for us” satisfy my deepest daily needs so that I can experience the liberating power of the gospel every day and in every way?
Thinking those things through, asking those questions, is the hard work I believe I’m called to do, the kind of labor Paul speaks of in Philippians 2:12—“work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” I’m not saying the Christian life is effortless; the real question is where are we focusing our efforts? Are we working hard to perform? Or are we working hard to rest in Christ’s performance for us?
From Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Free Audiobooks Download for November

This month's free download on - The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun:
You've seen the headlines - government crackdowns on Chinese house churches; mass arrests and human rights violations...But this intensely dramatic autobiography makes it real! Learn how God took a young half-starved boy from Henan Province and enabled him to stand strong on the front lines for Jesus, braving horrific opposition and impossible odds.
Did I mention that it is FREE??!!!!

Luther's Forgotten Insight

I'm so glad I found this! Here's Carl Trueman on The Forgotten Insight of Martin Luther:
At the heart of this new theology was the notion that God reveals himself under his opposite; or, to express this another way, God achieves his intended purposes by doing the exact opposite of that which humans might expect. The supreme example of this is the cross itself: God triumphs over sin and evil by allowing sin and evil to triumph (apparently) over him. His real strength is demonstrated through apparent weakness. This was the way a theologian of the cross thought about God.

The opposite to this was the theologian of glory. In simple terms, the theologian of glory assumed that there was basic continuity between the way the world is and the way God is: if strength is demonstrated through raw power on earth, then God's strength must be the same, only extended to infinity. To such a theologian, the cross is simply foolishness, a piece of nonsense.

Now, some will respond: But the theology of the cross has not been forgotten; it is often talked about and discussed and even preached. But here's the rub: in the Heidelberg Disputation Luther actually refers not to a theology of the cross but to theologians of the cross, underscoring the idea that he is not talking about some abstract theological technique or process but rather a personal, existential, real way that real flesh-and-blood theologians thought about, and related to, God. A person's theology, whether true or false, good or bad, is inseparable from the individual's personal faith.

Throwing a Pity Party?

Are you throwing any pity parties lately?  Jonah's party can beat yours any day. 

Picture from a great article about the Book of Jonah at The Resurgence:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

No Hold on Me!

"World, death, devil, hell, away and leave me in peace! You have no hold on me. If you will not let me live, then I will die. But you won't succeed in that. Chop my head off, and it won't harm me. I have One who will give me a new one."

-- Martin Luther

Hat Tip: The Gospel-Driven Church: Invincible

All Saints Day 2011

Happy All Saints Day to all you saints!

This is the feast day in the liturgical calendar honoring "all saints, known and unknown," and recognizing the creedal confession regarding the "communion of saints."

For the origin of this holiday click here.