Saturday, March 31, 2012

Jesus is the True & Better.....

More Tim Keller excellence. This is good. This is beyond good. This is (insert whatever superlative you like so long as it implies BIG)!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Friend Request

The Facebook concept has invaded all parts of life. Better not ignore this one!

Hat Tip: Vitamin Z

Free Tullian Books at Crossway

Crossway Books has a drawing for free copies of two of Tullian Tchvidjian's best books: Surprised by Grace and Jesus + Nothing = Everything. I have read and own copies of both, and have posted about them both on this blog - excellent reads. 

To enter the drawing  go here. They also published this list of Tullian's Twitter feeds. Enjoy!
  • “The power of the gospel is just as necessary and relevant after you become a Christian as it is before.” #jpne
  • “Typically, it’s not that Christians seek to blatantly replace the gospel. What we try to do is add to it.” #jpne
  • “Legalism happens when what we need to do, not what Jesus has already done, becomes the end game.” #jpne
  • “Our performancism leads to pride when we succeed & despair when we fail, but ultimately it leads to slavery.” #jpne
  • “We know God hates bad works; we’re not nearly so convinced that he also hates self-righteous “good” works.” #jpne
  • “Self-righteousness can lead only to the robbery of freedom.” #jpne
  • “Disobedience happens not when we think too much of grace, but when we think too little of it.” #jpne
  • “We’re always to soak first in what God has already done before we set out to do.” #jpne
  • “Only the gospel can free us from the enslaving pressure to defend ourselves.” #jpne
  • “Our ultimate problem is not indifference to God, but idolatry.” #jpne
  • “Christian growth doesn’t happen by first behaving better, but by believing better.” #jpne
  • “We’re liberated by the recognition that God loves us in order to make us lovely, not because we are lovely.” #jpne
  • “What licentious people need is a greater understanding of grace, not a governor on grace.” #jpne
  • “We need to make it clear that Jesus came first not to make bad people good, but to make dead people alive.” #jpne
  • “The primary goal of the gospel is to bring about mortal resurrection, not moral reformation.” #jpne
  • “The gospel of amazing grace gets us in, keeps us in, and will eventually get us to the finish line.” #jpne
  • Preoccupation with our effort instead of with God’s effort for us makes us self-centered and introspective. #jpne
  • Because our self-imposed rules make us feel safe and self-pleased, they become a counterfeit God. #jpne

For You

"Is there anybody here that never sinned? Then there is no Christ for you. He never did anything for you, and never will.

 Are you guilty? Do you feel it? Do you confess it? Do you own it? Christ is for you."

              -C. H. Spurgeon

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Putting On Batman - A Parable of Righteousness

From Matt Schneider at Mockingbird comes this story of a modern day want-to-be super-hero.The material below is his stuff, not mine.
Perhaps you’ve seen the recent viral images on Facebook and the like of Batman being pulled over on Route 29 in Silver Spring, Maryland for having no tags. The images made me laugh, but I didn’t think much of it until my wife sent me an article published earlier this week in The Washington Post titled, “Who is the Route 29 Batman?” Believe it or not, the curious case of Lenny B. Robinson sheds some light on the topic of imputed righteousness.

The article is worth reading in full, but the skinny is that Robinson is an independently wealthy divorced man who spends his free time and spare money on dressing up like the Caped Crusader, driving his black Lamborghini made to look like a Batmobile, visiting sick children Washington and Baltimore area hospitals:
Batman began visiting Baltimore area hospitals in 2001, sometimes with his now teenage son Brandon playing Robin. Once other hospitals and charities heard about his car and his cape, Batman was put on superhero speed dial for children’s causes around the region. He visits sick kids at least couple times a month, sometimes more often. He visits schools, too, to talk about bullying. He does not do birthday parties.
His superhero work is limited to doing good deeds, part of a maturation process in his own life. In his earlier years, he acknowledges that he sometimes displayed an unsuperhero-like temper and got into occasional trouble with the law for fights and other confrontations. Putting on the Batman uniform changes and steadies him.
“Eventually, it sinks in and you become him,” Batman told me. “It feels like I have a responsibility that’s beyond a normal person. And that responsibility is to be there for the kids, to be strong for them, and to make them smile as much as I can.” He understands that might sound corny, but he doesn’t care.
Of course, the metaphor ultimately is only partial; obviously I am not talking about God declaring us righteous on account of Christ. But there are parallels: putting on Batman (compare to “putting on Christ”) allows Robinson—who is then recognized as the real Batman by everyday people, children most especially—to become righteous in the ways the character Batman is regarded as righteous despite being an ordinary and undeserving guy underneath all that fancy black leather and neoprene.

This happened in Montgomery County, MD, where I used to live. Holy Parable of Righteousness, Batman! And no Joker anywhere in sight.

From the Buckle of the Bible Belt

This survey confirms what I already knew - That I live in the "Buckle of the Bible Belt." From Which U.S. States Are the Most Religious? by Joe Carter
The Story: A new Gallup survey finds that Mississippi is the most religious U.S. state, and is one of eight states where at least half of the residents are "very religious." At the other end of the spectrum, Vermont and New Hampshire are the least religious states, and are two of the five states---along with Maine, Massachusetts, and Alaska---where less than 30 percent of all residents are very religious.

The Background: Gallup classifies 40 percent of Americans nationwide as "very religious" based on their statement that religion is an important part of their daily life and that they attend religious services every week or almost every week. Another 32 percent of Americans are nonreligious, based on their statement that religion is not an important part of their daily life and that they seldom or never attend religious services. The remaining 28 percent of Americans are moderately religious, because they say religion is important but that they do not attend services regularly or because they say religion is not important but still attend services.
The research by Gallup appears to show that the differences in religious conviction are part of a "state culture" phenomenon, and are not the result of differences in the underlying demographics or religious identities in the states. As Gallup says in its report, "it appears there is something about the culture and normative structure of a state, no doubt based partly on that state's history, that affects its residents' propensity to attend religious services and to declare that religion is important in their daily lives."

Why It Matters: While America remains, as Gallup notes, a "generally religious nation" the national averages conceal the "dramatic regional differences in religiosity." Americans in the "Bible Belt" and Utah tend to be more religious while New England and the Western states tend to be the least religious.
Such surveys are admittedly crude tools for discerning trends. But when so many "state cultures" are nonreligious it's likely a sign that there is a need for broader efforts at evangelization here in the United States.

One problem with living in a heavily "churched" area is that so many people have just enough religious to be inoculated against the gospel.  On any given Sunday, 60% of the population in and around Jackson, MS are not  in church.  We still need more gospel preaching churches, and gospel sharing Christians,

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Your New Name - Defined by Grace

Who are you?  Are you simply and only the sum of your own actions, decisions, mistakes and failures? Or are you defined by His actions, His decisions, His victories and His grace.
‘To get a name’ in the Bible is to get what we call an identity. God, of course, constantly names people in the Bible. When he names Adam, Abraham, Israel, and even Jesus, he refers to what he has already done or what he is going to do in their lives. When God tells someone ‘what I have done/will do is your name,’ he means that his grace in their lives should be the defining factor.

Our security, our priorities, our sense of worth and uniqueness – all the things we call identity – should be based on what God has done for us and in us. This means that if we do not have a name, if we are insecure and have to ‘find who we are,’ we have either no grasp or an inadequate grasp of what God has done."

                        - Tim Keller
Let us find our identity in Him, not in ourselves!

Ultimate Tribute at the Hunger Games

"Hunger Games" Fans:  Jesus came to take your place at the Reaping...... and He is the ultimate Tribute!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Gospel Based Discipleship

I really like this explanation of discipleship:
"A disciple of Jesus is someone who learns the gospel, relates in the gospel, and communicates the gospel. This definition of disciple shows us that the gospel both makes and matures disciples. We see this in Jesus’s ministry. Jesus proclaimed the same gospel to the crowds that he taught to the disciples. He did not have the twelve on a special, gospel-plus track to study advanced subject matter.

The gospel is for undergraduates and graduates because nobody ever graduates from the gospel.

Jesus taught the same gospel of the kingdom to sinners and saints.

Why? Because his agenda of grace is the only solution to our common predicament of sin, Christian or non-Christian. Both desperately need the forgiving, reconciling, and restoring power of the gospel to know and enjoy God, not just once but for a lifetime.....

.....This gospel-centric approach to disciple-making is largely missing from discipleship today, which tends to focus on evangelistic techniques and discipleship methods. Unless these methods are tethered to a robust understanding of the gospel, they will actually sabotage discipleship. What we need is a recentering of Christian discipleship devolving it into forms of spiritual performance.

The Great Commission is not evangelism- or discipleship-centered—it is gospel-centered. It calls us to make disciples by being a people who orbit around Jesus and his blood-bought benefits, not performance and self-made efforts.

Disciples are gospel people who introduce and reintroduce themselves and others to the person and power of Jesus over and over again. A disciple of Jesus never stops learning the gospel, relating in the gospel, and communicating the gospel."
From Jonathan Dodson at The Resurgence

Monday, March 26, 2012

Harvests of Links

Some miscellaneous harvests from my internet meanderings:
Raptured Pet Insurance a Hoax

Tim Tebow in Babylon

Could Many Universities Follow Borders Into Oblivion? 

Seven Ways Leaders Regain Their Drive 

The Bristol Palin Post that Shut Down the Servers

Did Early Christians Believe Jesus Would Come in Their Lifetimes?

The Difference Between Partisans and Fans

Who Ya Gonna Call?

Out of work?  Looking for a job? My friend Randall Mooney knows who to call to help you!
People who have struggled for months or years to find work may believe they don't have a prayer anymore.
So Randall Mooney of Pearl decided to give them one.
A man of faith, the construction company owner figured if presidents and congressmen couldn't find people jobs, he knew someone who could.
About two years ago, he and wife Deidre began a mission called Praying For Jobs.
"We pray for people to get work," Randall Mooney said.
Since then, he has logged about 5,000 prayer requests - not only from people looking for work, but also from those seeking comfort...
More at the link.  We know who to call!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ruthless Perfection

We are, I am, being changed by a God of ruthless perfection.

This week I listened to an old album by Christian singer Kim Hill from the  late 90's called "The Fire Again." This song, Ruthless Perfection, grabbed me with both its words and tune. A good message to meditate on and pray through this morning.
Iron sharpens iron, deep cries to deep
The roar of the lion rouses from sleep
All who would heed the call of their election
He will baptize them with fire, and work His ruthless perfection

Is it any wonder, is it any guess
How He will respond to the one who answers yes?
I will yield to your love and to Your correction
In mercy severe He will work His ruthless perfection.

As we behold Him, we will be like Him
Changed from glory into glory into glory again.
As we behold Him, we will be like Him
Changed from glory into glory into glory again.

Let's call on His kindness, and fall on our face
Surrender the flesh to His judgement and grace
Comes the cross, so comes the resurrection
Let us be made new, by a work of ruthless perfection.

"Ruthless Perfection", words by Judie Lawson, music by Kate Miner

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Harvests from My Twitter Feed

I've been enjoying my new Twitter account this month.  Here's some interesting harvests from my Twitter feed.
Security is not to be found in your wisdom and strength, but in the moment by moment grace that meets you in your weakness. @PaulTripp

If we don’t see how Jesus fits into the Big Story the Bible is telling we invariably reduce the gospel to postmortem hell avoidance. @BrianZahnd

Stability= the realization that God is not elsewhere.

 GK Chesterton: "The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank." @TonyReinke

"Sin has been pardoned at such a price that we cannot henceforth trifle with it." (Spurgeon) @NancyDeMoss

Security is not found in the temporary acceptance of people, but in the eternal acceptance of the Father by the grace of Jesus. @PaulTripp
Are you following me on Twitter yet?  I'm @bg_simmons

Friday, March 23, 2012

Loving Your Enemies - A True Story

This is how to do it! Did you hear about the Texas Atheist "flabbergasted" by an outpouring of Christian Charity?
The Story: According to the Athens Review, an atheist who had threatened to sue a Texas county over the display of a nativity scene says he is "completely flabbergasted" that Christians from that same county provided him financial assistance for a medical problem.
 "My wife and I had never had a Christian do anything nice for us," said Patrick Greene. "Just the opposite."

The Background: Last month Greene, an activist with a long history of bringing lawsuits related to public displays of Christian imagery, threatened to sue Henderson County if county official allowed a nativity scene to be placed on the courthouse lawn next Christmas. Greene had intended to represent himself in the lawsuit, but dropped the threat when he discovered he had a detached retina and may lose his sight.

"There is no way for me to go up there if I'm blind," said Greene, who lives in San Antonio, nearly 300 miles from the Henderson County courthouse. Greene said he has no insurance to pay for an operation that might save his sight, and can't even pay for the exam that will confirm the diagnosis. "Why waste the money if I can't do anything about it," he told the local newspapers.

When Jessica Cry, a member of Sand Springs Baptist Church in Athens, read on the Internet about Greene's troubles, she felt compelled to help. Cry told her pastor, Rev. Eric Graham, who contacted Greene and inquired about how his church could help with the surgery.

Greene told Graham he had a more immediate need.....
 Read it all at the link. Perhaps there would be more Christian victories in the "culture wars" if more Christians acted like Christians.

Movie Trailer for "October Baby"

Thursday, March 22, 2012

October Baby - Pro-LIfe Film Released This Week

From a review by Gina Delfonzo at Breakpoint of new pro-life film October Baby, in theaters this weekend.
Late last week I had a chance to see a new film called October Baby, set to open in theaters March 23. The movie tells the story of a college student who belatedly learns that she was adopted -- and that she's a survivor of abortion.

Give them credit: That's a perspective that I believe has very rarely been shown on film before.

The filmmakers are, as you would guess, pro-life Christians, and the film openly reflects that. Which raises the question, how is it as a film? As many of you know, I strongly believe that a film needs to be a film, not a sermon. And I'll be honest with you: During the preview, when it was mentioned that the Erwin brothers, who made this movie, took some advice from the Kendrick brothers, who made Facing the Giants, I winced a little.

That said, October Baby is in many ways a strong film. Most of the acting is good, and some of it is very good. The characters are more real and likable than those in most other faith-based films I've seen, and not all of their storylines are tied up with a neat little bow. The story feels original and fresh, with both emotional impact (I teared up a couple of times) and humor....
Looks promising!

No More Tears

"God promises that the day is coming when there will be no more sickness and pain, no more sorrow and suffering, no more hidden tears and unanswered questions. The Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky pictured restoration this way:
'I have a childlike conviction that the sufferings will be healed and smoothed over, that the whole offensive comedy of human contradictions will disappear like a pitiful mirage... and that ultimately, at the world's finale, in the moment of eternal harmony, there will occur and be revealed something so precious that it will suffice for all hearts, to allay all indignation, to redeem all human villainy, all bloodshed; it will suffice not only to make forgiveness possible, but also to justify everything that has happened with men.'"
From Trevin Wax, Counterfeit Gospels, page 38.

Dostoevsky quote from The Brothers Karamazov, pages 235-6

Certainly sounds Scriptural to me!
He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,for the Lord has spoken.(Isaiah 25:8 ESV)

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:4 ESV)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Jesus is Greater....

"Jesus is greater": This should be a complete sentence all by itself. However, I love how those three simple words are continued in this little piece by Justin Buzzard:
Jesus >

Jesus is greater.

JESUS > Sin + Fear + Guilt + Regret + Discouragement + Need + Pain + Shame + Failure

Jesus is greater than sin, he took on, paid for, and beat your sin.

Jesus is greater than fear, he is bigger than whatever makes you afraid.

Jesus is greater than guilt, he has made a complete atonement for our guilt.

Jesus is greater than regret, he redeems our broken past.

Jesus is greater than discouragement, he is never discouraged even though he knows the worst about you, your circumstances, and life in this broken world.

Jesus is greater than need, he knows all of your needs and your needs are not difficult for him.

Jesus is greater than pain, he knows your pain and is stronger than what is hurting you.

Jesus is greater than shame, he cleanses dirty people, making us whiter than snow.

Jesus is greater than failure, he loves to work with failure–it’s his specialty.

JESUS > Sin + Fear + Guilt + Regret + Discouragement + Need + Pain + Shame + Failure

Hat Tip: Peter Cockrell

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Some Comedic Inspiration.....Dr. Seuss Style

Hat Tip: 22 Words

A Simple Way to Die to Self

 A simple suggestion, and powerful lesson, from Michael at Forward Progress:
Are you ready for it? I’ll warn you beforehand – it’s going to sound simple, but it’s not. It takes great concentration and effort and no small measure of grace. So here goes – a simple way to die to the self:


I mean really listen.

Here’s why that’s hard – because very few of us actually do it. Think about it – how many times, when leaving a conversation, have you forgotten the person’s name you just met? How many times has a detail resurfaced in conversation that you should have remembered but didn’t? How many times, as someone rattles on and on about their kids, their work, their ideas – do you simply tune out and look for an exit strategy to the conversation? How many times, if you heard a playback of the conversation, would you say something after someone else that only vaguely touches upon what they said and instead purports your own ideas?

Surely I can’t be alone here.

I find myself, more often than I care to admit, thinking more about my own clever reply or better story or great response than actually listening when another person is talking. But when you choose to actually listen, you are making the active choice to die to the self. You are placing importance on another human being – more importance than on yourself.

It’s true, those who actively listen, sometimes look like idiots in conversation because there are lulls after someone is speaking. But that’s because the listener hasn’t been thinking about how to respond nearly as much as he or she has been thinking about what is being said.

I’m willing to take that risk. Maybe you are, too. Listen today. Listen well.

Stay Tethered

"Theology is a way for you to know and respond to God. It is something you tether to God, not something you tether God to."

                  - Joe Thorn, Note to Self, page 52

HT: Rick Ianniello

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cell Phones..... and Bibles

Yeah, this is a little trite, but it makes an oh so true point! From Thinking Out Loud:
Ever wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone?

What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?

What if we flipped through it several times a day?

What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?

What if we used it to receive messages from the text?

What if we treated it like we couldn’t live without it?

What if we gave it to our kids as gifts?

What if we used it when we traveled?

What if we used it in case of emergency?

This is something to make you go….hmm…where is my Bible?

Oh, and one more thing…

Unlike our cell phone, we don’t have to worry about our Bible being disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill.
Yeah, I know many of you read the Bible on your phones, but the point is still well taken.

Revival in Iran

Quotes below are from Michael at Charismatica
Iran is in the news as a country developing nuclear weapons and preparing for war against Israel and ultimately the USA. However, regular folks in the country do not necessarily support their leaders particularly when it comes to Christianity.

A full blown revival is going on in the country and government officials are trying everything they can to stop it. Authorities continue to arrest pastors and persecute Christians to no avail. Recently the government issued a decree forbidding churches from meeting on Fridays. Friday is the traditional ‘day off’ and the time to worship in the Iranian culture and most of the Middle East for that matter. This decree is only going to affect the ‘official’ churches however since most Iranian Christians meet in illegal house churches in secret.

The Iranian revival continues to expand through dreams, visions, and healing. Some put numbers now at 500,000. This article estimates 370,000 have converted to Christianity through the recent revival. There is no way to get an accurate account since it is all underground......
More confirmation from Open Doors (Brother Andrew's group)
Open Doors staff members recently reported that church growth is “explosive” in Iran; they even speak of a revival.

Iran is the fifth country in the world on Open Doors’ World Watch List for the persecution of believers. The president and the supreme leader of the country openly speak against the growth of house churches, and persecution against Christian converts is highly prevalent.
Interestingly, though, these two government leaders are nearly alone in their disdain for Christianity as a “Western religion,” says one Open Doors staff member. “In the past, Christianity wasn’t popular; it was seen as a Western religion. Now only the government sees it as a Western product, or better: a Western political system,” says the staff member....
 Pray! Pray! pray!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Grace is....

A collection of wonderful Twits (Twitter messages) on GRACE by Paul David Tripp - @PaulTripp:
It is always timely and is never inappropriate - GRACE.
It always meets you where you are and takes you where you need to be - GRACE.
It never misses the point and will never run out - GRACE.
It has divine power to do for you what you could never do for yourself - GRACE.
It guarantees you a future that you could have never earned on your own - GRACE.
It's provision for the moment and hope for all eternity - GRACE
It offers you a kingdom that is greater and more glorious than what you could ever construct on your own - GRACE.
It's bad news about you coupled with the very good news of the cross - GRACE.
It's love, even when you're the most undeserving ~ GRACE.
It's daily strength for what you' ve been called to do ~ GRACE.
It's not just forgiveness, but a brand new identity as well ~ GRACE
 It not only forgives, it progressively transforms - GRACE.
 It fulfills very promise and delivers every provision - GRACE.
My response to all of this: Grace is not just how we get in. Grace is where we sit, how we stand, the way we walk and where we are going.

An Unending Enumeration

Hat Tip for Picture:  Thinking Out Loud

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Celebrating St. Patrick

"The Life and Ministry of St. Patrick" at Crossway Blog:
Patrick was raised in a nominally Christian home in Britain during the collapse of the Roman Empire. At 16 he was captured by Irish pirates and taken to the west coast of Ireland. The trauma of slavery turned him to the Lord, and he strove to spend each day in communion with God. Six years later he escaped and returned to Britain. After a time of theological study, Patrick felt the Lord’s call to return to Ireland as a missionary to his captors.

Despite strong opposition from both the Irish and his Christian contemporaries back home, Patrick speaks of “thousands” converted through his ministry, including sons and daughters of Irish kings, from the worship of “idols and filthy things.” This success came from Patrick’s deep understanding of what Scripture teaches regarding missions and a steadfast dedication to his work.

Patrick’s work firmly planted the Christian faith in Irish soil and left a deep imprint on the Celtic church that would grow up from this soil. The central place that the Bible held in his thinking helped initiate an impetus among the Irish toward literacy. In fact, this impetus was so strong that by the seventh century the Irish had become major participants in “bibliocentric literacy,” a key aspect of Roman Christianity in late antiquity. Throughout the sixth and seventh centuries, Celtic Christians evangelized the British Isles, Gaul, and central Europe with a passion that matched that of Patrick, the father of the Irish church.

“In the light, therefore, of our faith in the Trinity I must make this choice, regardless of danger I must make known the gift of God and everlasting consolation, without fear and frankly I must spread everywhere the name of God so that after my decease I may leave a bequest to my brethren and sons whom I have baptized in the Lord—so many thousands of people.” – Patrick

Weekend Links

 Some links that caught my attention:
 Encyclopedia Britannica Goes Out of Print After 244 Years

Also, Rest in Peace Britannica

5 Things a Pastor Should Never Say

Advance Review of "Blue Like Jazz: The Movie" 

Who Are the Greatest Preachers?

Praying "St. Patrick's Breastplate"

My annual repost of "St. Patrick's Breastplate:  There are various versions and translations of the prayer know as St. Patrick's Breastplate, contained in the ancient Book of Armagh, from the early ninth century AD. Here's a good translation for prayer today.
I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.
I bind to myself today
God's Power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort, [i.e., at home]
Christ in the chariot seat, [i.e., travelling by land]
Christ in the poop. [i.e., travelling by water]

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Journey Requires Multiple Decisions

There is a difference between "accepting" Jesus and "following" Jesus.
The concept of following evokes rich imagery—journey, process, adventure, and dependence. Accepting sounds like Jesus is put on our scales, and we decide his fate, like he is campaigning for our vote as he runs for Messiah. To accept Jesus does not call one to live as a disciple; it merely calls one to make a decision. Following calls for a series of decisions being made by the minute, keeping Jesus the focal point, refusing to look to the right or the left, increasing in likeness to his character and in closeness to his person.

- Bill Clem, Disciple: Getting Your Identity from Jesus
Hat Tip: Christians in Context 

This is a good book that I am part way through reading (along with so many other books!) Plus, as the "Journeyman" I am, of course, always interested in quotes describing following Jesus as a journey, because it is!

Follow Me on Twitter

For those of you who use Twitter I'm now on board with the Twitverse. You can follow me at bg_simmons.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Let's Go Swimming!

"The gospel isn't the diving board of Christianity. The gospel is the pool itself."

             - J.D. Greear

Hat Tip: Darryl Dash

Success = Serving

To follow up this mornings earlier post about "orthodoxy of community," consider this:
"Christians do not find happiness by ruling over their neighbors, or by seeking supremacy over the week, or by being rich, or by attacking the inferior. On the contrary, Christians see success in taking upon themselves the burdens of their neighbor, using their positions of superiority to benefit the deficient, an in distributing whatever they receive from God to the needy.  This is what it means to be an imitator of God."

      - From The Letter of Mathetes to Diognetus, 2nd century AD

Quoted in Trevin Wax, Holy Supremacy, page 70

Orthodoxy of Community

"One cannot explain the explosive dynamite, the dunamis, of the early church apart from the fact that they practiced two things simultaneously: orthodoxy of doctrine and orthodoxy of community in the midst of the visible church, a community which the world can see. By the grace of God, therefore, the church must be known simultaneously for its purity of doctrine and the reality of its community."

- Francis Schaeffer, The Church Before the Watching World

Hat Tip: Vitamin Z

(Love me some Schaeffer - now more than ever!)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Three Words

Salvation in three words:  God....Saves....Sinners!
God – the Triune Jehovah, Father, Son and Spirit; three Persons working together in sovereign wisdom, power and love to achieve the salvation of a chosen people, the Father electing, the Son fulfilling the Father’s will by redeeming, the Spirit executing the purpose of the Father and Son by renewing. Saves – does everything, first to last, that is involved in bringing man from death in sin to life in glory: plans, achieves and communicates redemption, calls and keeps, justifies, sanctifies, glorifies. Sinners — men as God finds them, guilty, vile, helpless, powerless, unable to life a finger to do God’s will or better their spiritual lot.”
— J. I. Packer, Teaching the Faith, Forming the Faithful
(Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2009), 103
Hat Tip: Of First Importance

He Wants You to Join the Song

From a beautiful piece by Paul at Thinking Out Loud:
When I looked to my right, there was Brett.

He looked angry. The worship leader had chosen a classic hymn, “A Shelter in the Time of Storm.” Brett doesn’t care for the hymns. Even though he’s the standby guitarist for three of the four worship teams, when a hymn comes along he doesn’t sing. Even the revamped versions of “When I Survey” and “Amazing Grace” don’t work for him. He just stands there with his lips pursed together.

When I looked to my left, there was Daniel.

He looked distressed. We’d moved on to a different song now, introducing the new modern worship Chris Tomlin song, “White Flag.”  Daniel is a retired school teacher. He gave up his NASB for a more modern translation, but he’s not giving in an inch when it comes to all the new songs we’ve been learning lately. So he stands stone-faced, silent, with his lips pursed together.

When I looked up, there was God.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Valley is the Place...

This may have to be my new life motto:
"Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all, 
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision."

From The Valley of the Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers

Quoted by Trevin Wax, Holy Subversion, page 127

On Nothing Less...

Excerpt from Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians, Preface
So then, have we nothing to do to obtain righteousness? No, nothing at all! For this righteousness comes by doing nothing, hearing nothing, knowing nothing, but rather in knowing and believing this only–that Christ has gone to the right hand of the Father, not to become our judge, but to become for us our wisdom, our righteousness, our holiness, our salvation!

Now God sees no sin in us. For in this heavenly righteousness, sin has no place. So now we may certainly think, “Although I still sin, I don’t despair, because Christ lives–who is both my righteousness and my eternal life.” In that righteousness I have no sin, no fear, no guilty conscience, no fear of death. I am indeed a sinner in this life of mine and in my own righteousness, but I have another life, another righteousness above this life, which is in Christ, the Son of God, who knows no sin or death, but is eternal righteousness and eternal life. For if the truth of being justified by Christ alone (not by our works) is lost, then all Christian truths are lost…On this truth and only on this truth the Church is built and has its being.

Hat Tip: Tullian Tchvidjian (Love the picture!)
BTW, the Kindle version of Luther's Galatians is free at Amazon

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Painful Side of Hope...and Healing

On the subject of hope for those suffering from abuse, addiction and emotional pain, here's an excerpt from Redemption by Mike Wilkerson.
Which is more painful? To live without hope or to catch a glimpse of hope only to have it disappear? Often, this is our experience on the eve of redemption. Certainly, God is not a fickle redeemer. He is faithful. But if we expect redemption to be mainly about comfort, we may be disappointed when—at least for a season—it brings more pain.

Or you may have come to God with a life that was a mess with sin and were relieved to find that he accepts you in Christ, just as you are. But in time, you were confronted with the reality that some of those sins from your former life still had a powerful hold on you. Some new Christians at this point are so discouraged they question whether they were ever saved at all.

Or you may have found that after years of harboring the pain of abuse in secret, it’s time to talk about it. You may have to revisit some painful memories or confront someone who has harmed you. The battle to decide to speak out is pain unto itself, intensifying the pain of the original abuse. Maybe you’ve made your secrets known, and your confidants, rather than comforting and protecting you, have hurt you further by suggesting that you keep quiet or have even blamed you for stirring up trouble by digging up the past.

Sinks & Faucets

"There are two kinds of Christians. 'Sink Christians'  view salvation as they would a sink. The water of salvation flows into the sink so that Christians can soak up all the benefits: eternal life, assurance in the presence of God, and strength in times of trial. Those who adopt this mind-set concentrate solely on what the Bible says God has done and will do for them. 'Faucet Christians' view salvation differently.  they look at the world as the sink and themselves as the faucet. The blessings of salvation flow to them in order to flow through them out to the wider world. They rightly see that the Bible describes salvation as something that God not only does for them, but also through them."

        - Trevin Wax, Holy Subversion, page 50

Sunday, March 11, 2012

New Facebook Page

I've set up a new Facebook page for this blog. This is an experiment, and I do not know if it will work or if I will keep it.

Let me know what you think!

Friday, March 9, 2012


"The Explicit Gospel" by Matt Chandler from Crossway on Vimeo.
"Popular pastor and worldwide speaker Matt Chandler writes his first book to remind the church of what is of first and utmost importance—the gospel. Chandler explains that many Christians forget the importance of the gospel and simply assume it. They grow up in church and can be just as confused about what the gospel is as those who have never even been to church. The antidote to the assumed gospel then is to make the gospel explicit. While some understand the gospel only as a means to salvation, Chandler asserts that the gospel is more than “I believe it so I’m saved.” The explicit gospel bears weight on the transformation of our lives, increasing our joy, and changing the way we see the world around us."
Another book on my wish list!

Hat Tip: Crossway


Good reminders via Ray Ortlund:
The longer I live, the more I care about fewer things, and it’s good. Here are those fewer things:

1. God is patient. “. . . the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience” (Romans 2:4). Where would I be now, if God were not patient with me?

2. My wife is my most precious earthly treasure. “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband” (Proverbs 12:4). And how I delight in my family!

3. Everything man-made will fail. But it’s okay. Everything God-made will last. “God’s firm foundation stands” (2 Timothy 2:19).

4. Gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture. “If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). When the gospel gets through, our relationships become beautiful.

5. I will die in just a few years. What matters now is lifting up a bold new generation for Christ. “I endure everything for the sake of the elect” (2 Timothy 2:10).

6. God visits weakness with power, suffering with blessing, setbacks with progress. “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

7. The Bible is my oxygen. “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63). How could I live a single day in this world of illusion without God’s inerrant Word?

8. The grace of God is the endless resource for everything I face. “Be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1).

9. The highest truth is God’s mercy for the undeserving. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). It’s all I want to talk about.

10. Whatever else I lose, I must keep my own walk with the Lord. “But for me, it is good to be near God” (Psalm 73:28).
Hat Tip: Vitamin Z

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Job Lessons

The Book of Job is not exactly the most popular book in the Bible. However, the effort to read and grasp its message brings great dividends. Here's Steve Murrell on 7 lessons from the Book of Job
1. Bad things happen to seemingly good and innocent people. Four times Job is described by God as "blameless and upright" yet he experienced horrible suffering.

2. The devil is real and he comes to "steal, kill and destroy." Chapter 1 makes it clear that all Job's pain and loss was an act of the devil, not an act of God.

3. People experiencing bad times need good friends. When you have friends who are suffering, try doing what Job's friends did in Job 2:13 "Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was."

4. Good friends often give bad counsel. Unfortunately, after that week of silence, Job's friends opened their mouths and stuck both feet in, nasty sandals and all.

5. Some things can't be explained and some "why" questions can't be answered. The book of Job never answers the "why" question. But it does paint a good picture of "how" - how to find God in our pain and how to respond to calamity in a way that honors God.

6. We can find God in our pain and loss, if we do what Job did when he realized the extent of his loss - "then he fell to the ground in worship..." (Job 1:20) Do we only worship God in the good times?

7. In the end, the blessing of God caught up with and overtook Job. Most people don't press through and read the whole book of Job. But if you endure til the end, you will find that "the Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the former." (Job 42:12) And if we endure past our pain, we will find God in the end.

Shout the Name

One of the most well known passages in the Old Testament is Deuteronomy 6:4 - Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. This passage is often know by it's Hebrew beginning - "Shema Ysrael," or simply as the "Shema"

What is it's significance?  What does it tell us about the God of Israel? The quote below is from Reading the Shema for all It's Worth by Jared Wilson
The original “creed,” full of truth and beauty.

“Hear, O Israel . . .” tells us theology isn’t just to be thought about but shouted about. Implicit in this proclamation is the assumption that those it is for will hear it. We proclaim God’s word with confidence knowing that it contains the Spiritual power to be heard by those with the ears to hear. So “hear this” isn’t just a figure of speech like “hear ye, hear ye” but a confession that true Israel will receive the speech in her spiritual senses. “Hear, O Israel” is a bit like “Come forth!” from the mouth of an empty tomb.

“The LORD our God, the LORD is one” tells us who God is, what God is, and how God is.

Firstly, who is this God? He is the LORD: he is YHWH. He has given us his name. He is not Baal or Belial or some indistinct Star-Warsian pantheistic life force. He is spirit but he is Personal — his name is YHWH, the great I AM. He tells us who he is.

Secondly, what is YHWH? Well, he’s God. Immortal, invisible, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, holy, and sovereign. Gracious and merciful, just and jealous. Immutable, eternal, ineffable, transcendent. The God named YHWH is God.

Finally, how is God? “The LORD is one.” This God named YHWH is the God, the only God, the one true God. Sure, there’s plenty of so-called “gods,” but there is just one real God (1 Corinthians 8:5-6). So “the LORD is one” tells us how many Gods there are. But it also tells us how many Gods the three Persons the Scriptures identify as God amount to. “The LORD is one” tells us quantity but also unity. The three Persons proclaimed God in the Bible — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — are one God.

There is more to the Shema, but this is a lot in itself.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Getting Warrren Right

Recently an article appeared in the Orange County Register (the original article is here) which claimed that Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church (author of The Purpose Driven Life) had stated that Muslims and Christians worship the same God, along with some other outrageous statements.  This article has been widely distributed and commented on at many Christian websites and blogs, with much strong condemnation of Warren's reported views.

Pastor Warren has since issued a clarification and refutation of many of the things in that article.
QUESTION: Do people of other religions worship the same God as Christians?

WARREN: Of course not. Christians have a view of God that is unique. We believe Jesus is God! We believe God is a Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Not three separate gods but one God. No other faith believes Jesus is God. My God is Jesus. The belief in God as a Trinity is the foundational difference between Christians and everyone else. There are 2.1 billion people who call themselves Christians . . . whether Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Pentecostal, or Evangelical . . . and they all have the doctrine of the Trinity in common.

QUESTION: A recent newspaper article claimed you believe Christians and Muslims worship the same God, that you are “in partnership” with a mosque, and that you both agreed to “not evangelize each other.” You immediately posted a brief refutation online. Can you expand on that?

WARREN: Sure. All three of those statements are flat out wrong. Those statements were made by a reporter, not by me. I did not say them . . . I do not believe them . . . I completely disagree with them . . . and no one even talked to me about that article!...
Read the whole thing here.

I have benefited from some of Rick Warren's books and admire his work, even though not agreeing with him on every method or emphasis. However, if bloggers are going to criticize Pastor Warren, they should at least make every effort to get the facts right and let him speak for himself. I don't think it is ever safe to rely solely on a piece in a secular publication for accuracy on Christian theology or practices, especially not an article about such a well-known and influential person as Rick Warren.


Lectio Divina

In my reading about devotional practices in different Christian traditions, I frequently come across the Latin term Lectio Divina. What is Lectio Divina, you may ask? The term translates to English as "Divine Reading." Below is a description of Lectio Divina from the website of Redeemer Presbyterian (Tim Keller's Church):
Lectio Divina, or "Divine Reading" involves meditative listening to the reading, out loud and slowly, of a short passage or a few isolated verses of Scripture. It can be down on your own or with a group. Those who listen are encouraged to set aside analysis, and what they "know" already about the passage, seeking instead to open themselves to God's Word, listen with their hearts and receive it expectantly and passively. They then attend to what they receive from God. God's Word is received personally, as an individualized gift to each person.
They go on to give a step by step guide on how to do it.

Sounds to me like a good and normal part of a devotional life and being a person of the Book, provided that it is not all you do.  Carl Truman has some balancing thoughts here.
Overall, it seems to me that this articulation of LD amounts to a formalized elaboration in sophisticated language of those Bible studies where everybody has a chance to tell everybody else 'This is what the passage means to me,' and, depending on the innate ability of the participants, the group may not necessarily go home with a better understanding of the passage or, indeed, any understanding of the passage at all.   Such is not really consonant with a Reformation understanding of scripture which placed a high premium on analyzing the text to establish its meaning and on a view of the church where the reading and understanding of scripture was to be guided and facilitated by those set aside as competent for the task.  Not that the Reformers did not think individuals should not read the Bible for themselves; but they were clear that, when doing so, such should not do so in isolation from the analysis and knowledge provided by their nurture within the church
Knowledge and devotion, study and meditation, head and heart -we should keep them both together.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dare to Be a Sinner

"In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner."

      - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Love With No Strings Attached.

 Does grace make you nervous?  Rejoice today in some one way love!
"...Grace makes us nervous, it scares us to death because it strips us of our beloved “you owe me” religion. It snatches control out of our hands. It tears up the timecard we were counting on to be assured of that nice, big paycheck on Friday. It forces us to rely on the naked goodness of Another and that is simply terrifying. However much we may hate having to get up and go to the salt mines everyday, we distrust the thought of completely resting in the promised, unmanageable generosity of God even more.

By nature we’re all perpetually suspicious of promises that seem too good to be true. We’re wary of grace. We wonder about the ulterior motives of the excessively generous. What’s the catch? What’s in it for him? So we try to domesticate the message of one-way love–after all, who could trust in or believe something so radically unbelievable?

Contrary to what we conclude naturally, the gospel is not too good to be true. It is true! It’s the truest truth in the entire universe. No strings attached! No fine print to read. No buts. No conditions. No qualifications. No footnotes. And especially, no need for balance."
From Tullian Tchvidjian at the Gospel Coalition

Monday, March 5, 2012

Knots of Nots

Found this on Facebook Sunday night. Don't know who the originator or writer is, or I would give them credit.  I needed to hear this.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Church Demonstrates Congegational Repentance and Reconciliation

Loved this story of a Baptist church in Memphis practicing reconciliation and healing after a near church split. The excerpts below are from an article in the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper.
"Since 2006, there have been several heartbreaking situations that have occurred in our church family that resulted in broken relationships, broken trust, divisions within our church family and a damaged witness in our community," Dr. Charles Fowler, the church's senior pastor, wrote to the congregation last month....

....Church leaders and members had been battling each other for control for years. One pastor resigned in 2006, citing "the protection of my wife and children" after a long and bitter dispute over church governance. Three years later, another pastor resigned after an angry dispute over worship styles and other issues.
Pastor Charles Fowler led his church through a season of repentance for division and then a worship service of confession and forgiveness.
On Sunday evening, Jan. 29, in Germantown, Fowler called his flock together to confess, forgive and repent corporately in a special service he called "Grace Applied."

"We have prayed so long for this service," Fowler began as hundreds of past, present and future church members and leaders filled the seats of the worship center. "Your Holy Spirit has prepared the hearts of many, many people who have a desire to be here tonight."

Fowler had prepared for the service by writing a declaration of confession and forgiveness for the congregation to read aloud together. He also set the stage with three chairs, three basins of water and three white towels.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Saturday Night Linkapalooza

More links form my internet meanderings:

Who Will Thank You in Heaven?

Heresy and a Call for Humility

What to Say and Not Say to Victims of Sexual Abuse

Where TULIP Goes Wrong

The real Meaning of Mark 11:22-23 (It's not what Joel Osteen says)

You Might Have Been Raised Charismatic If...

What is the Gospel?

How Google tracks You on the Internet

Jesus Over Idols

Know what your idols are, but know Jesus your Savior better!  From Josh Blount at Blazing Center:
An accurate working knowledge of the idols of our hearts is essential. I see this played out in my own life and in the lives of others around me. A conflict with my wife spirals hopelessly down what my senior pastor calls “the tunnel of chaos” until the moment God shines a spotlight on my heart: this conflict isn’t who said what. It’s about my idolatrous desire to always be right. The tunnel of chaos begins to dissipate. Repentance can be sought not blindly but intelligently. Knowing our idols is important.

But it’s not the heart of the Christian life. Jesus, the perfect Savior and Redeemer, is at the heart of our faith – not our own idol hunt. Ed Welch, in his blog post “Who Talks About Idols Among Friends?” makes a great point. While the quote is about biblical counseling, it’s equally as applicable to how we do “self-counseling.”
Idolatry isn’t at the heart of biblical counseling, Jesus is. Biblical counseling is not a process of lying in wait for the idols of someone’s heart. It is the application of the good news to everyday life, especially to the stubborn trials and sufferings of life. As such, the death and resurrection of Christ is the one thing that is always in view. It animates all encouragement, wisdom, illumination, trust, love and hope.
Today, what have you thought about, pondered, and given the most mental energy to – your sins, whether expressed outwardly in actions or buried deep in your heart through idolatrous desires? Or your Savior, who has completely atoned for your sins and is perfectly content with His own pace as He unfailingly transforms you into His image? Yes, there is a place for self-examination and consideration of our sins, but never as an end in and of itself.
Self-examination or idol-hunts as ends in themselves don’t lead to hope and are dead-ends. Considering Jesus, pondering His work and glorying in it, brings life, joy, and hope. So know your idols – but know your Savior even better!

Hand Raising Hints & Helps

Comedian Tim Hawkins on hand raising in church. LOL!

Friday, March 2, 2012

We've Been Sprung!

Amazing comment on Romans 8:1-
"Saint Paul has not said to you, “Think how it would be if there were no condemnation”; he has said, “There is therefore now none.” He has made an unconditional statement, not a conditional one–a flat assertion, not a parabolic one. He has not said, “God has done this and that and the other thing; and if by dint of imagination you can manage to pull it all together, you may be able to experience a little solace in the prison of your days.” No. He has simply said, “You are free. Your services are no longer required. The salt mine has been closed. You have fallen under the ultimate statute of limitation. You are out from under everything: Shame, Guilt, Blame. It all rolls off your back like rain off a tombstone.”

It is essential that you see this clearly. The Apostle is saying that you and I have been sprung. Right now; not next week or at the end of the world. And unconditionally, with no probation officer to report to. But that means that we have finally come face to face with the one question we have scrupulously ducked every time it got within a mile of us: You are free. What do you plan to do?"

      -Robert Capon, Between Noon and Three. pg. 113

Hat Tip: Tullian Tchvidjian

Comparative Danger

 Pride kills, and comparing ones-self to anyone but Jesus leads to pride. From a post by Ryan Huguley:
Pride is the feeling you experience when you compare yourself to someone else and deem yourself better than they could ever be.

So, I compare myself to another Christian and think, “I’m so much more holy then they are. I love Jesus far more than they do.” I compare myself to another father and think, “I’m a way better dad than that guy. I play with my kids, I’m sensitive to their needs, and I make them a priority. He doesn’t do any of that.” I compare myself to another pastor and think, “I’m so glad I preach better than that guy. I’m glad my theology is superior to his. I’m glad I love lost people more than he does. I’m making disciples far more effectively than he ever will.”

See what I mean? Comparing ourselves to others leads to one of two evils – despair, or pride.
S0 we need to stop comparing ourselves to other Christians, husbands, wives, moms, dads, pastors, friends, brothers, sisters, co-workers, and classmates. Instead, we need to start comparing ourselves to one person – JESUS.

When I compare myself to Jesus one thing becomes clear – He is perfect and I am not.  But the good news of the gospel is this…
“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8
The gospel kills our pride and destroys our despair. Jesus frees us from the need to compare ourselves to others.
Remember - "...when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding." (2 Cor. 10:12 ESV)

2 Minute Trinity

The Trinity in Two Minutes from Desiring God on Vimeo.

John Piper - "The Trinity in 2 Minutes"  What do you think: Adequate explanation or not?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

E-Book Benefits

 I'm a conflicted man: I use a Kindle e-reader (and love it), but I also love physical books and will never totally give them up. As I think through my conflict, I found this interesting list from  Eric Mckiddie of "10 Benefits of Ebooks that Will Surprise You":

1. Less buyer’s remorse. Ebooks can capitalize on our immediate gratification impulse (not that it’s a good impulse, but if you followed it, might as well make the best of it). How many of us have purchased a physical book on impulse from Amazon and waited several days for it to be shipped, only for it to sit on the shelf because the excitement wore off while we waited for it to arrive? Immediate delivery means – hopefully – less unread books that you purchased on a whim.

2. The Evernote connection. It’s easy to import your Kindle highlights into Evernote, making them easily and speedily searchable. This is a huge time saver when it comes to sermon prep. Michael Hyatt shows you how.

3. Shareability. The impact of a book grows exponentially with the shareability of ebooks. With the reader’s ability to tweet a quote from the Kindle app, the author increases the number of people he or she can impact, not to mention sales.

4. Your physical books are searchable…for free. You can read and search many books for free at Google Books. This gives you all the benefits of owning a physical book, and many of the best benefits (e.g., ubiquity and searchability) of digital books.

5. Increased student engagement with God’s word. Last week, when I thought I caught one of my junior highers texting during the sermon, I discovered that she was actually typing a note into her ESV Bible iPhone app. Awesome.

Realities for All

“The believer has died, is buried, is raised, is seated with Christ in the heavenlies, and so on. These are not plateaus for victorious Christians who have surrendered all and willed their way to victory, but realities for every believer, regardless of how small one’s faith or how weak one’s repentance.”
  — Michael Horton, Christ the Lord
  (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Baker Book House, 1992), 113-114

Danger of Assuming Knowledge of Someone's Heart

Jesus said “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt. 7:1). However, contrary to secular society's assumption, he was not saying that moral evaluations are off limits.  In the same Sermon on the Mount he talked about knowing someone by the fruit of their lives. What I believe He was saying is that we must be careful to apply to ourselves the same standards we apply to others, and with the same severity.  We should give others the same level of mercy and understanding that we want for ourselves.

He was also saying that we should not be quick to presume we know someone's' heart or the facts of their situation. Here's a thought provoking list from Kevin DeYoung of things not to assume (prejudge):
Don’t assume you know all the facts after hearing one side of the story.
Don’t assume the person is guilty just because strong charges are made against him.
Don’t assume you understand a blogger’s heart after reading one post.
Don’t assume that famous author, preacher, athlete, politician, or local celebrity won’t read what you write and don’t assume they won’t care what you say.
Don’t assume the divorced person is to blame for the divorce.
Don’t assume the single mom isn’t following Jesus.
Don’t assume the guy from the Mission is less of a man or less of a Christian.
Don’t assume the pastor looking for work is a bad pastor.
Don’t assume the church that struggles or fails is a bad church.
Don’t assume you’d be a better mom.
Don’t assume bad kids are the result of bad parents.
Don’t assume your parents are clueless.
Don’t assume everyone should drop everything to attend to your needs, and don’t assume no one will.
Don’t assume the rich are ungenerous.
Don’t assume the poor are lazy.
Don’t assume you know what they are all like after meeting one or two of their kind.
Don’t assume you should read between the lines.
Don’t assume you have interpreted the emotions of the email correctly.
Don’t assume everyone has forgotten about you.
Don’t assume they meant to leave you off the list.
Don’t assume everyone else has a charmed life.
Don’t assume a bad day makes her a bad friend.
Don’t assume the repentance isn’t genuine.
Don’t assume the forgiveness isn’t sincere.
Don’t assume God can’t change you.
Don’t assume God can’t love you.
Don’t assume God can’t love them.