Monday, April 30, 2012

I'm Getting Drunk Today

I've decided to get drunk today: drunk on grace. I'll have what brother Martin Luther was having.
The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellar full of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two-hundred proof Grace–bottle after bottle of pure distilate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly. The word of the Gospel–after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your bootstraps–suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home before they started…Grace has to be drunk straight: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale; neither goodness, nor badness, not the flowers that bloom in the spring of super spirituality could be allowed to enter into the case. (Robert Farrar Capon, Between Noon and Three, pg. 114-115)
Hat Tip: Tullian TchvidjianJohn Dink

Friday, April 27, 2012

Your Idols Do Not Love You

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21) Quote below is from a great piece by Justin Buzzard .   I'm quoting it in full because it is so well said and so necessary for me (and you) to hear.
Everyone has to live for something and if that something isn’t the one true God, it will be a false God–an idol.
An idol is anything more important to you than God. Therefore, you can turn even very good things into idols. You can turn a good thing like family, success, acceptance, money, your plans, etc. into a god thing–into something you worship and place at the center of your life.

This is what sin is. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything (even a good thing) more than God.
Do you know the idols you’re prone to worship? At our church we talk about 4 root idols that we tend to attach our lives to.
CONTROL. You know you have a control idol if your greatest nightmare is uncertainty.
APPROVAL. You know you have an approval idol if your greatest nightmare is rejection.
COMFORT. You know you have a comfort idol if your greatest nightmare is stress/demands.
POWER. You know you have a power idol if your greatest nightmare is humiliation.
Here’s what you need to know about your idol: That idol that you love, it doesn’t love you back. False gods don’t love you. Idols don’t keep their promises. Anything you worship and build your life on other than God will suck the life out of you and destroy you.

A relationship with Jesus starts when you identify and turn from your idols. Notice what Jesus was always doing with people during his ministry–he was constantly identifying and challenging people’s idols, calling them to turn from their false objects of worship in order to follow and worship him.

I’m convinced that the reason there is so much shallow Christianity in our culture is because many people never displace the idolatry in their lives with Jesus, but instead simply bring in Jesus as an “add on” to their life, keeping their idolatry firmly in the center.

Americans think freedom is found in casting off all restraint and being masters of our own lives. What we are blind to is the reality that everybody has a master. We all worship something and whatever we worship is our master. Idols make bad masters. They enslave. Until you identify the idols in your life you will feel enslaved, tired, and unhappy and you won’t know why. You will feel this way until you discover the only master who can set  you free: Jesus. Jesus is the one master who will love you even when you fail him. Your idols don’t do that. Jesus is the one master who loved you when you were at your worst and who reigns over your life with perfect wisdom, power, and goodness. He’s the one master you can trust. Only he can give you freedom.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

One Message, Many Forms

Is there one gospel, or are there multiple gospels? I'm not referring to the four books we call "the Four Gospels," but to the message about Jesus called the gospel. I think there is only one gospel, but many models or forms for expressing it. Found this quote in an article by Tim Brister, referencing a Tim Keller argument. I agree with it wholeheartedly.
One of the most significant articles Tim Keller has written on the gospel can be found at Christianity Today, entitled “The Gospel in All Its Forms“.  In this article, Keller borrows from Simon Gathercole’s chapter in God’s Power to Save to explain the various “forms” of the gospel. Contrary to liberal theologians, Keller says there is not multiple gospels, but one gospel expressed in different forms.

For instance, when Jesus speaks of the gospel in the Synoptic Gospels, kingdom language is employed (“gospel of the kingdom”). In this case, the gospel speaks to the inauguration of Christ’s reign as King, and the focus is more communal and social.  When the Apostle John writes about the Gospel, there is no mention of kingdom language but rather “receiving eternal life,” and the focus is more individual and personal. When you get the writings of Paul, you hear little emphasis on “kingdom” or “eternal life” but instead the focus is on “justification by faith“. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul are all talking about one message, but that message is expressed in different forms. Through an analysis of these forms, what you find is that the gospel can be expressed as story-arc focused (creation, fall, redemption, restoration) as well as content-driven (God, man, sin, Christ). Not to be left out, Keller stresses the eschatological implications of the gospel with the in breaking of God’s kingdom and renewal of all things...
Brister goes on to say:
When disciples are being made, they need to understand the whole gospel for their whole life to impact the whole world for Christ. I want them to know the content/nature of the gospel. But that is not enough. They need to experience it and find their identity in Christ personally. They also need to understand the implications and application of the gospel for all of life. In my paradigm of gospel-centered spiritual formation, here is how I break it down:
Message of the Gospel: stresses the doctrinal content of the gospel so that we can have a correct understanding of who Jesus is and what He has done (text/normative)
Story of the Gospel: stresses the experience/realization of the gospel so that we can have our affections moved and captured by who Jesus is and what He has done (subtext/existential)
Gospel of the Kingdom: stresses the implication/application of the gospel in the world so that we can have our world brought under the reign and rule of who Jesus is and what He has done (context/situational)
When the message of the gospel gives us right understanding, our minds are renewed through the glorious truths of Scripture.  When the story of the gospel gives us right affections, the story of our life is rewritten by the story of the gospel, redeeming and renewing our hearts. When the gospel of the kingdom is applied to our lives, we walk in repentance and faith so that the kingdoms of our world become the kingdom of our God.
  More at the link - Good stuff!.


Hat Tip: Thinking Out Loud

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

E-Books & "Real" Books

I think I agree with this comment from Tim Challies:
There remains a vast difference between owning a physical book and owning an e-book. My brain may some day adapt to the point where I can believe that a file on an iPad or Kindle is in some way equal to a physical book sitting on my bookshelf, but for the time being, I just cannot equate the two. And perhaps the time will come when I can interact better with an e-book than with a physical book. But until that day I cannot give up those books. I cannot give up the manner and the depth in which I can own them, at least when it comes to the books that are most important to me.

And so I continue to prefer printed copies of the important books and the much-loved books, the ones I want to drive deep into my mind and heart, the ones I want to pour over, to absorb. I love my Kindle for light reading, for enjoying a good novel or a Christian living kind of book. But books that I am going to return to again and again and books I would want to leave behind as part of my legacy, those are volumes I still want to have in printed editions, sitting in my office, accessible to all, able to outlive me, able to represent me.
That's my current thought and feeling: E-reader for light reading, physical books for works I want to re-read, study and keep forever.  What about you?

Hat Tip: Vitamin Z (and I love this picture!)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I'm Not the Center

Read an interesting post from Tim Chester this morning about the danger of Facebook narcissism, how Facebook (and other social media) allow us "to recreate my image and my world through my words to gain approval." But buried in the discussion of that problem was this gem about finding true identity in Christ.
Am I trying to do self-identity or am I finding identity in Christ? Or, Am I looking for approval from others through my words or approval from God through his gospel word?
The gospel of Jesus says that Jesus recreates me in the image of God and Jesus is recreating the world. God’s kingdom is extended as his word is proclaimed.
  •      Jesus recreates me – not me
  •      Jesus recreate me in God’s image – not my image
  •      Jesus recreates the world – not me
  •      Jesus recreates God’s world – not my world
  •      Jesus creates God’s world with God at the centre – not me at the centre
  •      What creates and recreates are God’s word – not my words
It is these truths that enable me to be truly human, fit for the purpose for which I was created. And this is what liberates me from self-obsession to enjoy the goodness and grace of God. Knowing the real God is better than Facebook.
Tim used the British spelling "centre", but I still get his point.  I'm not the center, Jesus is the center. It's less about bringing God down into my story; It's about bringing me up into His story. Amen to all that!

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Bottle of Port

A pithy C.S. Lewis quote from an old Life Magazine interview.

Hat Tip: The Anchoress

Bogged Down in Levitucs?

Ever started to read the Bible through only to get bogged down in Leviticus?  Don't let it throw you - It's important to understanding the rest of the Bible. I love Steve Murrell's brief summary of the Book of Leviticus.
I read Leviticus on my recent Manila to Nashville flight and tweeted a 140 character summary. Now, a few weeks later, I'm not sitting in the Atlanta airport about to board My Delta flight to South Africa. Here's my quick summary of the twenty-seven chapters in Leviticus employing more that 140 characters.
1. GOD IS HOLY. Holiness is not something God does. It is not a list of religious rules. He is holy. It is his nature. What he does flows from who he is.
2. SIN IS COSTLY. It is impossible to exaggerate this point. The whole book of Leviticus, from start to finish, lays out the cost of covering sin: the blood of bulls, birds and lambs. If temporarily covering sin was that costly, what about the cost of forgiving sin forever?
3. IDOLATRY IS OFFENSIVE. Maybe not to our culture and our community, but idolatry is offensive to God.
4. WORSHIP IS AWESOME. Ultimately, the book of Leviticus is about worship. And the worship in Leviticus is not to be taken lightly. Worship is awesome because the God we worship is awesome. If our worship is anything but awesome, maybe we are not really worshipping the only true God.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Saturday, April 21, 2012

On-line Boasting

Hat Tip: Tony Reinke

Remembering Chuck Colson (1931 - 2012)

Charles W. "Chuck" Colson has gone to be with the Lord today- April 21, 2012.

Colson was the founder of Prison Fellowship, commentator on BreakPointe, and author of Born Again, Loving God, The Faith, and many other books. He shall be greatly missed.

An on-line memorial is up at RIP faithful warrior and brother to many.

From My Twitter Feed

From my Twitter feed this past week:
- Mississippi takes a major step to protect unborn children. -

Obama Underestimates Pro-Life Youth in Upcoming Campaign RT
Stop taking yourself so seriously. Start taking the Gospel much more seriously. RT 

RT : A proof that one experienced a genuine back-from-the-dead trip to heaven is refusal to write a book about it (2 Cor 12:3–6)

"God doesn't want you to walk around feeling guilty. He wants you to walk around feeling forgiven." RT

The way you live today indicates what you believe about the future RT
"Your inability to hear God reveals your unwillingness to sit still." See Ps.46:10 RT

"Sinners are not loved because they are attractive; they are attractive because they are loved" (Luther on Matt 9:13) RT

 When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up. C. S. Lewis RT
"I was brought to the end of myself and found all of Christ there, all of him free for me." RT (Me too!)

Friday, April 20, 2012

An Amish Kindle

LOL- No comment necessary!

The Comfort of Being A Sinner

“Luther taught that every time you insist that I am a sinner, just so often do you call me to remember the benefit of Christ my Redeemer, upon whose shoulders, and not upon mine, lie all my sins. So, when you say that I am a sinner, you do not terrify, but comfort me immeasurably.”

    — Thomas Oden, The Justification Reader
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 5

Hat Tip:  Of First Importance

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Imagining Oranges

"The good things even of this world are far too good ever to be reached by imagination. Even the common orange, you know: no one could have imagined it before he tasted it. How much less Heaven."

           - C. S. Lewis, in an August 1956 letter to a certain Mrs. Johnson

Hat Tip:  Dane Ortlund

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Attractiveness of Idolatry

From Why Idolatry Was (and is) Attractive by Kevin DeYoung:
..Idolatry made a lot of sense in the ancient world. And, had we lived two or three millennia ago, it almost certainly would have been tempting to each one of us. In his commentary on Exodus, Doug Stuart explains idolatry’s attraction with nine points. You’ll likely want to save this list and file it for future sermons or Bible studies.
1. Idolatry was guaranteed. The formula was simple. Carve a god out of wood or stone and the god would enter the icon. Now that you have a god in your midst, you can get his (or her) attention quickly. Your incantations, oaths, and offerings will always be noticed.
2. Idolatry was selfish. Scratch the gods backs and they’ll scratch yours. They need food and sacrifices; you need blessings. Do your stuff and they’ll be obliged to get you stuff.
3. Idolatry was easy. Ancient idolatry encouraged vain religious activity. Do what you like with your life. So long as you show up consistently with your sacrifices, you’ll be in good shape.
4. Idolatry was convenient. Gods in the ancient world were not hard to come by. Access was almost everywhere. Statues can be used in the home or on the go.
5. Idolatry was normal. Everyone did it. It’s how woman got pregnant, how crops grew, how armies conquered. Idolatry was like oil: nothing ran in the ancient world without it.
6. Idolatry was logical. Nations are different. People are different. Their needs and desires are different. Obviously, there must be different deities for different strokes. How could one god cover all of life? You don’t eat at one restaurant do you? The more options the better. They can all be right some of the time.
7. Idolatry was pleasing to the senses. If you are going to be especially religious, it helps to be able to see your god. It’s harder to impress people with an invisible deity.
8. Idolatry is indulgent. Sacrificing to the gods did not often require sacrifice for the worshiper. Leftover food could be eaten. Drink could be drunk. Generosity to the gods leads to feasting for you.
9. Idolatry was sensual. The whole system was marked by eroticism. Rituals could turn into orgies. Sex on earth often meant sex in heaven, and sex in heaven meant big rain, big harvests and multiplying herds.
Can you see the attraction of idolatry? “Let’s see I want a spirituality that gets me lots, costs me little, is easy to see, easy to do, has few ethical or doctrinal boundaries, guarantees me success, feels good, and doesn’t offend those around me.” That’ll preach. We want the same things they wanted.  We just go after them in different ways. We want a faith that gets us stuff and guarantees success (prosperity gospel). We want discipleship that is always convenient (virtual church). We want a religion that is ritualistic (nominal Christianity). Or a spirituality that no matter what encourages sexual expression (GLBTQ). We all want to follow God in a way that makes sense to others, feels good to us, and is easy to see and understand. From the garden to the Asherah pole to the imperial feasts, idolatry was the greatest temptation for God’s people in both testaments.
A look around and a look inside will tell you it still is.
 Is it any wonder Martin Luther said the human heart is an idol factory?

Truth & Alienation

“When a man sets himself against God, he sets himself against his own truth, and therefore does not become free, but alienated from himself.”

    -Pope Benedict XVI

Hat Tip: The Anchoress

Pray for Chuck Colson - PF Founder Near Death

Please joins me in prayer for Chuck Colson, prolific Christian author, popular speaker, and founder of Prison Fellowship. From
Family and associates of Chuck Colson, a pro-life Christian writer who has graced the LifeNews web site dozens of times with his insightful analysis and opinion, are worried he is dangerously close to death.

Colson was in critical condition following emergency surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain. Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries, had shown “some early signs of potential for recovery,” according to staff at the ministry, is hospitalized at a northern Virginia facility where he reportedly suffered a brain hemorrhage while speaking a couple weeks ago.
Jim Liske, CEO of Prison Fellowship Ministries, said Wednesday morning that Colson’s condition was not improving.

“It is with a heavy, but hopeful heart that I share with you that it appears our friend, brother, and founder will soon be home with the Lord. Chuck’s condition took a decided turn yesterday, and the doctors advised Patty and the family to gather by his bedside,” he said. “As you know, Chuck underwent surgery more than two weeks ago to remove a pool of clotted blood on the surface of his brain. And while we had seen some hopeful signs for Chuck’s recovery—including his ability to talk happily with Patty and the kids—it seems that God may be calling him home.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lost........ and Found!

“A true Christian is not a sheep who has gone looking for the Good Shepherd and found a man who seems to fit the bill, but someone who has been looked for and found by God.”

— Gerald Bray God is Love
(Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2012), 20

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Monday, April 16, 2012

Believe Much

"He is not righteous who works much, but he who, without works, believes much in Christ"

 -- Martin Luther (Heidelberg Disputation, Thesis 25)

The Story Line

"Out of the cross comes the resurrection. Out of weakness comes real strength. Out of repentance and admitting you are weak comes real power. Out of giving away and serving others comes real strength. Out of generosity and giving your money away comes real wealth. That’s the gospel story line."

   - Tim Keller

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Day of Prayer for North Korea

From Joe Carter at Gospel Coalition:
The Story: Christians around the world are setting aside April 15 as a day of prayer and fasting for the country of North Korea and the believers who live there.

The Background: According to Open Doors, this Sunday all of North Korea will celebrate the "Day of the Sun" in honor of Kim Il-Sung's 100th birthday. To the outside world, the picture will be one of prosperity and wealth; that North Korea is a great place to live under their caring leaders. But outside of the media's eye the vast majority will continue to quietly suffer extreme poverty and starvation.
The organization is encouraging Christians to show our solidarity by praying for believers in North Korea and taking a day off of food---or perhaps one meal---to remember the suffering of the North Korean people.

Why It Matters: North Korea is "among the world's most vicious religious persecutors," says Doug Bandow, a Senior Fellow in International Religious Persecution at the Institute on Religion and Public Policy. "For the Kim cult is akin to a religion, as evidenced by the exaggerated grief expressed over Kim Jong-il's death."
Even worse in Pyongyang's eyes is the rise of Christianity within the North's boundaries. Although no accurate count of Christians is possible, the Pew Forum estimates 480,000, most of them Protestants. The regime targets the faithful: "In recent years, police and security agency offices have infiltrated Protestant churches in China, begun training police and soldiers about the dangers of religion, and set up fake prayer meetings to catch worshippers." The penalty for law-breakers is high. Stated the Commission: "Anyone caught distributing religious materials, holding unapproved religious gatherings, or having ongoing contact with overseas religious groups is subject to severe punishment ranging from labor camp imprisonment to execution." One North Korean believer told Open Doors: "Since Kim Jong-un came closer to the helm, North Korea has stepped up its attempts to uncover any religious activities."
As Bandow notes, the greatest threat to North Korea's communist system is not internal strife, but the people's transfer of allegiance to a different God, one who created human beings in his image and values them accordingly.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Disappointment...His Appointment

Here are the lyrics to the Phil Keaggy song mentioned in the previous post.
Disappointment - His appointment,
Change one letter, then I see
That the thwarting of my purpose
Is God's better choice for me.

His appointment must be blessing
Though it may come in disguise
For the end from the beginning,
Open to His wisdom lies.

Disappointment - His appointment
Whose? The Lord's who loves best.
Understands and knows me fully,
Who my faith and love would test.

For like loving, earthy parent
He rejoices when He knows
That His child accepts unquestioned
All that from His wisdom flows.

Disappointment - His appointment
No good thing will he withhold
From denials oft we gather
Treasures from His love untold.

Well, He knows each broken purpose
Leads to fuller deeper trust
And the end of all His dealings
Proves our God is wise and just.

Disappointment - His appointment
Lord I take it then as such,
Like the clay in hands of potter
Yielding wholly to Thy touch

All my life's plan is Thy molding
Not one single choice be mine
Let me answer unrepining,
Father not my will but Thine.

Phil Keaggy, "Disappointment," from the album Love Broke Through, 1976

Revelations in Disappointment

Phil Keaggy (one of my favorite musical artists of all time) had a song on his "Love Broke Through" album entitled "Disappointment....His Appointment." Disappointment, he said, can be God's appointment for good in our lives. What is God saying to us in our disappointment?

From Michael Kelly at Forward Progress - Five things the Gospel has to Say about Disappointment.
So what might the gospel have to say about disappointment? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Your worth is determined not by the outcome of this situation. It’s determined and set by the cross of Jesus Christ. So regardless of how this turns out, you are secure in Him.

2. Because you feel so disappointed right now, you can ask the Holy Spirit what that disappointment reveals about your heart. Perhaps you have placed this hope, this relationships, or this job in higher esteem than you ought. Repent, and return to your first love that still passionately loves you.

3. Praise God! Evidently, there is some pitfall in your future that you are not aware of. God, who is working for your good, sees and knows all things. Thank God that He is protecting you from yourself, for surely you would fall into some kind of sin or trouble had things worked out the way you thought they should. Thank God He’s wiser than you are.

4. You do not have to be ruled by your emotions in this moment. You can choose joy in Christ. But learning how to do that only happens during seasons of disappointment. You are free, in Christ, to be okay in Christ.

5. Jesus loves you. He really, really does.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Matter of Wonder

Do you understand the gospel? Do I? More profound Keller wisdom below:
"If you think you really understand the gospel – you don’t. If you think you haven’t even begun to truly understand the gospel – you do. As important as our ‘gospel theologizing’ is, it alone will not reach our world. People today are incredibly sensitive to inconsistency and phoniness. They hear what the gospel teaches and then look at our lives and see the gap. Why should they believe? We have to recognize that the gospel is a transforming thing, and we simply are not very transformed by it. It’s not enough to say to postmodern people: ‘You don’t like absolute truth? Well, then, we’re going to give you even more of it!’ But people who balk so much at absolute truth will need to see greater holiness of life, practical grace, gospel character, and virtue, if they are going to believe. 
Traditionally, this process of ‘gospel-realizing,’ especially when done corporately, is called ‘revival.’ Religion operates on the principle:I obey; therefore I am accepted (by God). The gospel operates on the principle: I am accepted through the costly grace of God; therefore I obey. Two people operating on these two principles can sit beside each other in church on Sunday trying to do many of the same things – read the Bible, obey the Ten Commandments, be active in church, and pray – but out of two entirely different motivations. Religion moves you to do what you do out of fear, insecurity, and self-righteousness, but the gospel moves you to do what you do more and more out of grateful joy in who God is in himself. Times of revival are seasons in which many nominal and spiritually sleepy Christians, operating out of the semi-Pharisaism of religion, wake up to the wonder and ramifications of the gospel. Revivals are massive eruptions of new spiritual power in the church through a recovery of the gospel. In his sermon on Mark 9 Lloyd-Jones was calling the church to revival as its only hope. This is not a new program or something you can implement through a series of steps. It is a matter of wonder. Peter says that the angels always long to look into the gospel; they never tire of it (I Pet. 1:12). The gospel is amazing love. Amazing grace."
                                 - Tim Keller

Hat Tip:  Vitamin Z

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Empty Promises

From Ragamuffin Soul
I felt promised an easy adulthood because I had an easy childhood.
I felt promised no depression or anxiety because I had nothing to “worry” about.
I felt promised an easy marriage because I had a beautiful wedding.
I felt promised money in the bank because I put money in the offering plate.
I felt promised grace from man because I have grace from Jesus.
I felt promised understanding of grace because I wear a POTSC shirt.
I felt promised grateful kids because there is food on the table.
I felt promised knowledge because I read my Bible.
I felt promised success because I work 12 hours a day.

Then all of those promises were broken.
One. At. A. Time.
It’s because all of those promises are empty.

They ONLY thing that we are promised is the love of Jesus.
And that love can…
Hold you during a rough adulthood…
Sustain you during rough depression…
Restore you when you sabotage your marriage…
Provide for you when you are out of cash…
Support you when Jesus is your only grace…
Reveal to you when you look in the mirror and see Grace on your chest…
Be Hope for you when the fridge is empty…
Fill you when you read His Word…
Satisfy you when you have worked harder on your job than on your family…

These promises will not be broken.

Everything You Need, You Already Have

From an interview by Timothy Dalrymple with Tullian Tchvidjian regarding approval and acceptance.
When you realize that you already possess everything you need in Christ, you recognize that you don’t actually need anything from anybody.  Everything you need, you already have in Christ — you don’t need anything more, so now you can now spend your life giving yourself away.  That invests your life as a leader with unbounded courage.

Now, I can walk into a meeting to announce an important decision and not be worried that some in the room might not like it, and fight against it.  I can live my life with unfettered sacrifice because I don’t need to win.  I’m free to lose, and that’s something leaders face all the time.  So much of their own sense of value and worth and identity is wrapped up in success as the world defines it.

But when you realize that because Jesus won for me, I’m free to lose, because Jesus succeeded for me I’m free to fail, that makes you a powerful leader.  You can live your life with reckless abandon, realizing on the one hand that, like Paul said, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  Everything I need I already have.  There is nothing anyone can strip away from me that I actually need.  I’m free to be unpopular, free to make tough decisions, free to stand on principle and do what’s right even if people will resist it.

It changed me as a leader.  I have more courage.  I’m able to lead more boldly.  I’m able to lose and not have to walk out of a meeting getting my way.  I can be sacrificial.  I can give myself away, because all I need is Christ.  I don’t need anything else.  I’m now free to give everything I have without needing anything in return.  I can love those who hate me, I can turn the other cheek when I’m slapped in the face, because my dignity and my sense of value is not wrapped up in what I have in this person or this project.  It’s wrapped up in Jesus.
That changes everything.
 BTW, I highly recommend Tullian's book Jesus + Nothing = Everything.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Permeation Needed

“The Gospel is the power of God for the beginning, middle, and end of salvation. It is not merely what we need to proclaim to unbelievers; the Gospel also needs to permeate our entire Christian experience.”

— Jim Wilhoit. Spiritual Formation As If the Church Mattered

(Grand Rapids, Mi.: Baker Academic, 2008), 27

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Are You More Biblical Than a Fifth-Grader?

Do you know more about the Bible than a fifth-grader?  Well. that's not the title of this new show, but pretty well summarizes what it will be like: From Kathy Schiffer at Patheos:
Jeff Foxworthy, host of the popular game show “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader,” has signed a contract with GSN (the Game Show Network) to emcee a Scripture challenge. The new show will be called “The American Bible Challenge.”

According to a statement by GSN, questions will be designed to acknowledge and celebrate the Bible’s continuing importance in contemporary life and culture. Contestants on the show will share their personal faith stories before a live studio audience. Competing teams will represent “worthy faith-based organizations.”

Foxworthy—the self-proclaimed “redneck”—said, “I am excited to be hosting a show about the best-selling book of all time.” His goal is to present the Bible in a fun and entertaining way.
Another article has some sample questions:
Do you know what Balaam’s Ass did?
What were the names of Noah’s sons?
What was the name of Adam’s daughter?
Trick question! She’s not named in the Bible.

Should be fun!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

We Are All Poor...

My pastor preached on "Blessed are the poor in spirit" on Easter Sunday.  Therefoe, this quote really caught my eye:
“We are all poor, if only we will see it. We have nothing to offer God except the crushing debt of our sin. But Jesus offers us the riches of his grace: ‘For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich’ (2 Cor. 8:9).”
           — Philip Graham Ryken, Luke, Vol. 1
           (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2009), 174
 Hat tip: Of First Importance

Monday, April 9, 2012

Our World Prison is Split

The Third Day
The immovable stone tossed aside,
The collapsed linens,
The blinding angel and the chalky guards:All today like an old wood-cut.
The earthquake on the third day,
The awakened sleeper,
The ubiquitous stranger, gardener, fisherman:
Faded frescoes from a buried world.
Retell, renew the event
In these planetary years,
For we were there and he is here:
It is always the third day.
Our world-prison is split;
An elder charity
Breaks through these modern fates.
Publish it by Telstar,
Diffuse it by mundovision.
He passes through the shattered concrete slabs,
The vaporized vanadium vaults,
The twisted barbed-wire trestles.
A charity coeval with the suns
Dispels the deep obsessions of the age
And opens heart-room in our sterile dream:
A new space within space to celebrate
With mobiles and new choreographies,
A new time within time to set to music.
— Amos Niven Wilder
(NT Scholar and brother of Thornton Wilder)

Hat Tip: The Anchoress

Productive Illusion

I'm feeling so productive today!

Hat Tip: 22 Words

From Good Friday to Easter Sunday

From my Easter weekend Twitter feed:
 A Good Lord went through a Bad thing on Good Friday for Bad people in order to make us Bad people Good. #GoodFriday @bg_simmons

Remember that what appears to be Hope dashed is actually Love poured out. Redemption is sneaky like that. #GoodFriday RT @JamieTheVWM

If you're God's child, you don't have to fear never measuring up. Jesus perfectly measured up on your behalf. RT @idshift

The solution to sins slavery is not to sin less; the solution to sins slavery is the cross of Christ that kills the sinner. RT @pastortullian

"The resurrection was God’s way of stamping PAID IN FULL right across history so that nobody could miss it." RT @DailyKeller

For Christians, funerals are not goodbye - just "so long, see you in the morning." #resurrection @bg_simmons

"The resurrection was God’s way of stamping PAID IN FULL right across history so that nobody could miss it." RT @DailyKeller

Every other religion says "just do it." Jesus says "It is done." @bg_simmons

Easter - The ultimate reboot: CTRL-ALT-DEL for the universe. #Easter @bg_simmons

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Promise of Our Future

The promise of our future is found in an empty tomb.  He is not there. He is Risen....He is Risen Indeed!

Therefore, we will rise also. Death is defeated,; it no longer has its sting.

Wishing you a blessed and joyous Easter Sunday.

Hat Tip for Picture: Cross-Eyed

Hear the Bells Ringing....!

Easter Song by "Second Chapter of Acts" - One of my favorite songs from the "Jesus Music" era of the 1970's


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Sitting Among the Weeds

Holy Saturday is a good day to "sit among the weeds." What does that mean, you ask?  The term comes from Teresa of Avila. To sit among the weeds, says  Bill Mounce is to think upon your sins.
.....The weeds are your sins, and her encouragement is to look at the weeds, sit in them, and learn from them. You see, the degree to which you do not understand your sin is the same degree to which it will control your life. But as you sit among the weeds, it is there that you will start to understand your sin and, more importantly, you will more fully understand God’s love and grace and acceptance.

When we are walking without stumbling too much, God’s love may not mean that much; who wouldn’t love a great person like me! But in the midst of your weeds you will know God’s love in ways you have never before. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God doesn’t love us because we are good. He loves us despite the fact that we are wicked.

A friend of mine says that the great sin of the church is moralism. We do something wrong, and we quickly try to do something right to make up for it. I say something that hurts my wife, so I run out and buy a lamp to make up for it. (Actually, this happened quite a bit when I was first married.) I neglect my son, so I run out and buy a toy for him.

There certainly is a time and a place to “make up” for a wrong, but what my friend wants us to do is to stop long enough to get a good look at the sin. Why did I want to say something that would hurt my wife? What is it about my life that makes me so busy I tend to neglect others. Sit among the weeds. Learn about your sin.

If I could mix my metaphors, consider the iceberg. When you and I sin, it is just the tip of the iceberg. We bump into it and stumble. The worst thing we can do is simply cover over the tip. We need to stop, go down under the water so to speak, and look at the base of the iceberg. Dealing just with the tip isn’t going to help you; seeing the iceberg for what it truly is, is the only way to gain a true understanding of what the iceberg of sin really is in our life and therefore be able to deal with it. Sit among the weeds.

When you sin, confess it quickly, do what you need to, but take a long look at the sin. It’s only the tip of the iceberg. And yet God loves you, knowing more about the iceberg of sin, which is part of your life, than you will ever know.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Pre-Existing Condition

Aren't you glad Jesus doesn't really take that attitude.  Sin is a "pre-existing" condition that we all have, and He removes it by His grace.

Free Francis Chan E-Books!

You can't beat an offer like his one at and
Crazy Love eBook: FREE.
Forgotten God eBook: FREE.
Erasing Hell eBook: FREE.

Every once in a while, we hear about an offer so incredible that we just have to tell you about it, even if it doesn't happen to be for audiobooks. This is definitely one of those offers!

Thanks to the generosity of the ministry of David C. Cook, these three Francis Chan eBooks are absolutely FREE on our partner site eChristian, for 48 hours only: Crazy Love, Forgotten God, and Erasing Hell.

To get your free eBooks, visit the eChristian special offer page, login (your christianaudio username and password work at eChristian!) and download your free eBooks.

HURRY! This offer WILL end tomorrow (Saturday, April 7, 2012) at 11:59pm PT.
You can also get these three books for free at Amazon for the same limited time period.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dance Your Shoes Off...Again

This was big on the internet last year at Easter. Hey, I think it is wonderful enough to bring back this year.

Enjoy. Celebrate. And DANCE!

Remembering the I-Monk

Today I'm remembering Michael Spencer, aka "the Internet Monk," aka "I-Monk,"on the second anniversary of his untimely and too early departure from this life. I miss his writing so much. The blog-o-sphere is a better place because he was here.

The Internet Monk site has memorial postings up. RIP Brother Michael.

Rembrance & E-Books

Interesting article: Do E-Books Make It Harder to Remember What You Just Read? Conclusion? Maybe and maybe not. How decisive!
Kate Garland, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Leicester in England, is one of the few scientists who has studied this question and reviewed the data. She found that when the exact same material is presented in both media, there is no measurable difference in student performance.
However, there are some subtle distinctions that favor print, which may matter in the long run. In one study involving psychology students, the medium did seem to matter. “We bombarded poor psychology students with economics that they didn’t know,” she says. Two differences emerged. First, more repetition was required with computer reading to impart the same information.
Second, the book readers seemed to digest the material more fully. Garland explains that when you recall something, you either “know” it and it just “comes to you” — without necessarily consciously recalling the context in which you learned it — or you “remember” it by cuing yourself about that context and then arriving at the answer. “Knowing” is better because you can recall the important facts faster and seemingly effortlessly.
“What we found was that people on paper started to ‘know’ the material more quickly over the passage of time,” says Garland. “It took longer and [required] more repeated testing to get into that knowing state [with the computer reading, but] eventually the people who did it on the computer caught up with the people who [were reading] on paper.”
Context and landmarks may actually be important to going from “remembering” to “knowing.” The more associations a particular memory can trigger, the more easily it tends to be recalled. Consequently, seemingly irrelevant factors like remembering whether you read something at the top or the bottom of page — or whether it was on the right or left hand side of a two-page spread or near a graphic — can help cement material in mind.

A Stake in the Heart

"Jesus' death on the cross paid the debt of our sin and also drove a stake into the heart of its ability to produce brokenness. Jesus broke the Great Breaker. Jesus broke the back of sin so that it can only exert any of its slithery, divisive influence on us when we choose to go visit it in the hospital. "

--Michael Williams, How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens: A Guide to Christ-Focused Reading of Scripture (Zondervan, 2012), 199

Hat Tip: Dane Ortlund

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bad is Really Bad, But God Brings Good

Insights from the story of Lazarus by  Tim Keller
The story of Jesus standing before the tomb of Lazarus is an endless source of insight for me. As he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, Jesus was not smiling. He was angry. He was weeping. Why? Because death is a bad thing! Jesus wasn’t thinking, ‘They think that this is a tragedy, but no harm done! I’m about to raise him from the dead. This looks like a bad thing, but it’s not. It’s really a good thing! It’s a way for me to show my glory. It’s really exciting! I can’t wait!’ He wasn’t thinking that. Jesus was weeping at the tomb, because the bad thing he’s about to work for good is bad. The story of Lazarus does not give you a saccharine view of suffering, saying bad things are really blessings in disguise or that every cloud has a silver lining. The Bible never says anything like that! God will give bad things good effects in your life, but they’re still bad. Jesus Christ’s anger at the tomb of Lazarus proves that he hates death. He also hates loneliness, alienation, pain, and suffering. Jesus hates it all so much that he was willing to come into this world and experience it all himself, so that eventually he could destroy it without destroying us.

There’s no saccharine view in the Christian faith. The promise is not that if you love God, good things will happen in your life. The promise is not that if you love God, the bad things really aren’t bad; they’re really good things. The promise is that God will take the bad things, and he’ll work them for good in the totality.
                                 - Tim Keller

Pray for Chuck Colson

Please join me in prayer for the health of Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, radio commentator on Break Point, and author of Born Again, Loving God and so many other good books. Mr. Colson had emergency brain surgery this week. World Magazine reported the following:
Four days after emergency surgery to remove a pool of clotted blood from the surface of his brain, Prison Fellowship founder, author, and radio commentator Chuck Colson was in critical condition at a Washington, D.C., area hospital.

Colson was speaking at a Wilberforce Weekend Conference sponsored by the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview in northern Virginia on Friday when his speech became garbled and he had to sit down, according to witnesses at the event. He was taken by helicopter to a nearby hospital, where he underwent evaluation and then surgery early Saturday.

Prison Fellowship CEO Jim Liske said the surgery for the 80-year-old Colson was successful. “Chuck is resting comfortably, and his family is with him. He is heavily sedated (which is appropriate in the aftermath of this kind of procedure) and is responding well,” Liske said in a prepared statement on Monday. Tuesday night, the organization updated that statement, noting that Colson was in critical condition and had suffered an intracerebral hemorrhage, which is when blood vessels in the brain begin bleeding.

Liske, who visited Colson in the hospital on Tuesday, said, “I was encouraged to see that as we prayed, Chuck was responsive.”
Lord, please bless our brother, and return him to his ministry and the comfort of his family.

Are You Tired of Boring Church?

Tired of being bored at church?  Joe Thorn says:
Is the worship at your church stale? Is the preaching bland? Is the music dated, or even worse, boring? Well, if you want to hear powerful messages with maximum spiritual impact, be stirred by spiritual songs, and find joy in worship once again… try repenting of your sin and believing in Jesus. Seriously.
He's right.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"October Baby" Helps Heal an Actress' Heart

A wonderful story at Life News:
October Baby, a moving film with a message of life at the center of its story, surprised many in the media during its opening weekend by doing very well at the box office despite many odds.
What resonated with viewers? I suspect that in addition the film’s genuine and heartfelt approach to the issue of abortion, authenticity was key in the performances by actors. During the end credits, viewers got a glimpse of how true one particular performance was when the filmmakers decided to include an interview clip of Shari Rigby, the actress who plays a post-abortive mother, which you can view by clicking here.
Rigby shares how her role in the film mirrored her own life, to the surprise of the filmmakers who did not know that she had undergone an abortion in real life when they offered her the part of the mother. For Rigby, the role offered a chance to disclose a long-held secret, to find healing, and give voice to the story of so many women who have undergone abortions.

“It was easier to get rid of the child, to not be questioned again, rather than to have a child and be looked up at the time like another failure,” Rigby says of the circumstances surrounding her abortion, breaking down in tears. “So many times, especially as young women, we carry that burden that we’re going look like a failure, that it’s shameful. And you can hide a secret for a long time, of abortion, unless you really speak about it.

In one of the most gripping scenes towards the end of the movie, Rigby’s character and Rigby herself, found healing in the forgiveness of God. On filming that scene: “We went into it and I remember the cameras rolling and I just, right as I walked into the room, I just knew that the Lord was with me and it was just complete healing…that wasn’t acting, that was my moment with God and Him with me, saying ‘it’s okay, it’s over, and you’ve been forgiven.’"
Praise God - I am definitely going to see this movie.

Bristol Palin Talking Grace & Forgiveness

It is no secret that I was and am a fan of Sarah Palin, former Governor of Alaska. Now I am becoming a fan of her daughter Bristol also.

You may only know Bristol Palin from all the coverage of her very public unplanned pregnancy and conflicted relationship with the father of her child. Or you may know her from her time on the reality TV show Dancing with the Stars. But now, she is a blogger! Miss Palin has a blog at the Patheos site. One of her earliest posts was called How I Got Over My Very Public Mistakes. She says:
Most of the comments were wonderful and supportive. (I’ve addressed some of the not-so-nice comments here.)  But there’s one constant criticism I didn’t talk about:  some of you insist on calling me a hypocrite. After all, I became a mother before I walked down the aisle – how can I talk about waiting until marriage for sex?

I find it strange that the culture rightfully applauds former drug addicts who warn children of the dangers of drug use. They are happy to listen to former alcoholics talk about how they finally are living a clean life. But when it comes to me talking about waiting until marriage for sex, it’s almost like people want me to slink away in shame… unable to show my face in public again because of my past mistakes.

I want this blog to be a place where we can all be honest, so let me start. I’ve struggled with feelings of guilt and shame. I know (judging from my inbox) many of you have too.
She then quotes from Christian Counselor Ed Welch:
It feels so right – so spiritual – to live with regrets. It means you feel bad for the wrong things you have done or think you have done, and that sounds like a good thing. If you forget those wrongs, you are acting like they were no big deal.

We live with regrets because we think we should. We think it’s the right thing to do—that it is our duty before God. But…
The Kingdom of Heaven is regret-free. The truth is that the triune God liberates us from past regrets. His will is being done. Bank on it. Neither your human limitations nor your sins hinder the good plans of your sovereign Father.
Let’s go one important step further. It is God’s will that you jettison past regrets.
In a more recent post she talked about the message of Easter that "it’s not about what you’ve done, it’s about what’s been done for you." She embedded a video of the song You Are More by Christian band Tenth Avenue North which contains those words, and which I featured on my blog last year.

Way to go, Bristol. I look forward to reading more of your stuff.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Free E-Book: Rid of My Disgrace

You may not know April is National Sex Abuse Awareness Month. Crossway Books is giving away (today and tomorrow only) the E-Book version of their excellent book Rid of My Disgrace by Justin and Lindsay Holcomb.  It is also free on Amazon.
"The statistics are jarring. One in four women and one in six men have been sexually assaulted. But as sobering as these statistics are, they can’t begin to speak to the darkness and grief experienced by the victims. The church needs compassionate and wise resources to care for those living in the wake of this evil. Other books attempt to address the journey from shame to healing for victims of sexual abuse, but few are from a Christian perspective and written for both child and adult victims. In Rid of My Disgrace, a couple experienced in counseling and care for victims of sexual assault present the gospel in its power to heal the broken and restore the disgraced.
Justin and Lindsey Holcomb present a clear definition of sexual assault and outline a biblical approach for moving from destruction to redemption. Rid of My Disgrace applies a theology of redemption to the grief, shame, and sense of defilement victims experience. This book is primarily written for them, but can also equip pastors, ministry staff, and others to respond compassionately to those who have been assaulted."
If you have been a victim, or know someone who was, GET THIS BOOK! I cannot recommend it more highly. You need to act fast - the offer will expire tomorrow.

Where Jesus Leaks Out

"I believe the lifeblood of evangelism is not propositions, but prepositions. For God to do something through us, God must be doing something in us. If we are not always evangelizing ourselves, we have no business evangelizing others.In fact, it is usually as God's grace courses through us to someone else that we become aware of God's love in and for us. Evangelism is an invitation for broken people together to meet the Christ who loves broken people. We all are damaged but loved, crushed but cherished, with a divine embrace. When love is the motivation for evangelism, nudging is love in action. And the cracks in our broken vases are where Jesus leaks out first."

  - Leonard Sweet, Nudge: Awakening Each Other to the God Who's Already There, Page 28

Sunday, April 1, 2012

4th Anniversary of This Blog

Four years ago today "The Journeyman's Files" began its life on the world-wide interwebs. No April fooling; I really did start blogging on April 1, 2008.

Thanks to all of you who continue to visit and read. I pray that you are blessed in some way by my feeble writings and my harvests from writers who so much better than I am. Thanks to all who have followed this blog through Google, Networked Blogs or in some other way. I've been overwhelmed by the response

God bless you all!