Friday, February 28, 2014

Melted Hearts

Only when we turn away from looking at our sin to look at the face of God, to find his pardoning grace, do we begin to repent. Only by seeing that there is grace and forgiveness with him would we ever dare to repent and thus return to the fellowship and presence of the Father.… Only when grace appears on the horizon offering forgiveness will the sunshine of the love of God melt our hearts and draw us back to him. 

                 -Sinclair Ferugson in You Can Change

A Heart Detached

“If we are deeply moved by the sight of his love for us, it detaches our hearts from other would-be saviors. We stop trying to redeem ourselves through our pursuits and relationships, because we are already redeemed. We stop trying to make others into saviors, because we have a Savior.”

— Tim Keller    Counterfeit Gods
(New York, NY: Penguin Group, 2009), 45

HT: Of First Importance

Thursday, February 27, 2014

King Jesus

Found this good summary by Phillip Bethancourt at the Gospel Coalition about the relationship between Jesus and the Kingdom of God:
1. Jesus inaugurates the kingdom. With the coming of Christ, the kingdom begins not in the coronation of a mighty king but in the birth of a crying baby. Yet as Jesus' ministry begins in Mark, he announces, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15). What Israel had long awaited, Christ had now inaugurated.
2. Jesus is the kingdom. Where the king is, there is the kingdom. This is precisely why Jesus says to the Pharisees, "The kingdom of God is in the midst of you" (Luke 17:21). As Graeme Goldsworthy teaches, Jesus embodies the kingdom motif of God's people in God's place under God's rule. Jesus is both the faithful ruler and the righteous citizen of the kingdom.
3. Jesus purposes the kingdom. Jesus reveals that his purpose is to proclaim the kingdom. Jesus described his mission saying that he "must preach the good news of the kingdom of God" (Luke 4:43).
4. Jesus declares the kingdom. Through his words, Jesus explains the kingdom and invites people to enter into it. Luke summarizes Jesus' ministry as "proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God" (Luke 8:1). The declaration of the kingdom often came through the parables of Jesus that illustrated what it was and how it worked.
5. Jesus demonstrates the kingdom. Through his works, Jesus shows the power of the kingdom and his authority over the prince of darkness. As Jesus explains, "If it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you" (Luke 11:20). Jesus not only declares the kingdom in his words but also demonstrates the kingdom in his works.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Small Problems, Big God

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust. Lebanon would not suffice for fuel, nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering. All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness. (Isaiah 40:12-17 ESV)

In Order That...

"Grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them. "

— Augustine

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Freedom Within His Infallible Plan

From @DailyKeller

Jesus-Based Spirituality

Yesterday the Internet Monk site re-posted the late Michael Spenser's classic 2009 article entitled Jesus Shaped Spirituality. Spenser at that time had just gone through a thorough re-evaluatoin of his spiritual life based on a filter described below. It is well worth a read or a re-read- Never been said better!
What does Jesus-shaped spirituality look like?
1) It is a spirituality rooted in the Biblical story. It is a spirituality that grows up in the narrative of the Bible and within the categories of the Biblical worldview. Most particularly, it is a spirituality of the Biblical story that is finally and completely about Jesus and understood in Jesus.
2) It is a spirituality where God comes to all people: in Jesus, through the incarnation, the Gospel, Scripture and the work of the Holy Spirit.
3) It is a spirituality where God is available, immediately, through the mediation of Jesus, to all people, in the power of the Spirit as revealed in the Gospel.
4) It is a spirituality where Jesus is the ultimate sacrament, and all sacraments are visible, actual participations in Jesus as salvation.
5) It is a spirituality where the Kingdom of God is present everywhere and God’s people are called to be workers for and proclaimers of the Kingdom wherever God has placed them.
6) It is a spirituality especially manifested where the Gospel is explicitly heard, believed and practiced.
7) It is a spirituality where God is known, experienced and worshiped as Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit as revealed by Jesus in scripture.
8] It is a spirituality of the compassion of Jesus for the whole range of human brokenness. It is a spirituality of kindness, gentleness and generosity to the hurting, the lonely and the wounded.
9) It is a spirituality where all people are called to the decisive act of public, intentional discipleship, inaugurated in baptism and continued, when possible, in a local church.
10) It is a spirituality of grace as understood in the teaching and actions of Jesus, and through the grace of God revealed in the Gospel.
11) It is a spirituality of inclusion, particularly imitating Jesus’ inclusion of outcasts, touching of lepers, respectful treatment of women, outreaches to Gentiles and liberating miracles for those who were considered beyond help, hope and forgiveness.
12) It is a spirituality that takes place in a movement of cross-cultural church planting. Jesus shaped spirituality is formed in the context of the outcomes and values that contribute to cross-cultural church planting, particularly in places where the Gospel has not been heard.
13) It is a spirituality that is shaped, whenever possible, in local churches and under the ministry of local church leadership. It is a spirituality that receives the ministry of the Spirit through the broadest possible experience of the church of Jesus.
14) It is a spirituality that announces and practices the end of religion, because all religion is fulfilled in Jesus. What remains of religion and religious practice is completely transformed by Jesus into a New Covenant understanding of the people of God.
15) It is a spirituality that calls all persons, and especially disciples, to continual personal transformation by grace in every area of human nature, experience and relationship.
16) It is a spirituality formed by the practice of prayer, reading scripture, worship, servanthood, mission and simplicity, both individually and, whenever possible, in community with other disciples.
17) It is a spirituality that is consciously, exclusively and intentionally Jesus-centered. The center and the boundaries of Jesus shaped spirituality are Jesus himself, as revealed in scripture, especially in the Gospels. It is a spirituality that takes all study of Jesus seriously, but affirms that Jesus is revealed with the authority of God in scripture.
18) It is a spirituality with a hopeful, optimistic eschatology of the Kingdom of God, inaugurated now and coming in fullness, announcing in advance God’s judgment of the world and God’s vindication of his people.
19) It is a spirituality that is not dispensed or controlled by institutions, but is accomplished by the work of the Spirit through whatever means God chooses as the shaping, forming element.
20) It is a spirituality of creativity, freedom and cultural diversity. We are constantly discovering and rediscovering Jesus in new ways. It is a spirituality that honors and appreciates the discovery of Jesus by those who have known Jesus before us.
21) It is a spirituality that receives and evaluates tradition, authority and theology within a living experience of discipleship to Jesus.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Coram Deo

From Not A Fan

Coram Deo is Latin for "Before the Face of God"

Feasting Backward, Fasting Forward

Interesting comments on the connection between fasting and the Lord's Supper by Sam Storms by way of Rick Ianniello. I've never heard this before.
For 7+ years I've been fortunate enough to be part of a christian community that practices the Lord's Supper weekly. Sam Storm's wrote the following post which encourages me to look at the other end of that spectrum.
"There is a profoundly important connection between the spiritual discipline of fasting and our celebration of the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is a feasting that looks backward in time, whereas fasting is a feasting that looks forward in time. The breaking of bread and drinking the cup is done “in remembrance” of our Lord’s historic, and therefore past, act of sacrifice. Thus by eating and drinking we celebrate the finality and sufficiency of that atoning death and that glorious resurrection. We should never fast from the supper of the Lord, even when we are fasting from other ordinary “suppers”. On the other hand, as John Piper explains,
When we sit at Christ’s table with other believers we gratefully, fearfully, joyfully feast upon that food and drink that remind us of what has happened. And when we, in a time of fasting, turn away from the table where otherwise daily meals are served we declare our deep yearning for what has not yet happened.
“by not eating—by fasting—we look to the future with an aching in our hearts saying: ‘Yes, he came. And yes, what he did for us is glorious. But precisely because of what we have seen and what we have tasted, we feel keenly his absence as well as his presence. . . . we can eat and even celebrate with feasting because he has come. But this we also know: he is not here the way he once was. . . . And his [physical] absence is painful. The sin and misery of the world is painful. . . . We long for him to come again and take up his throne and reign in our midst and vindicate his people and his truth and his glory” (A Hunger for God, 84).

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Gratitude Over Entitlement

From Pete Wilson:
Everything that I have and everything in my life is a gift.
One of the things I’ve been focusing on this year is to have more gratitude and less entitlement because the truth is that whatever we feel entitled to, we cannot be grateful for.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Remembering HOW to Read the Bible

Strong and good advice for pastors and other Christian leaders from Dan Doriani at the Gospel Coalition:
In the past month, I learned that two more Christian leaders whom I know have either tarnished or destroyed their ministries. Neither was a friend, in the full sense, yet I've been friendly with both men and respected their talents and the fruit of their labors.young man reading small bibleOnce again, I wonder: How could a man who studied and knew Scripture and taught it faithfully to others, brazenly violate its most basic principle of love and self-control? Even as I ask the question, I know I'm liable to self-destructive sin too. Everyone needs Paul's admonition: "Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted" (Gal. 6:1). Self-aware leaders know that we can violate principles we thought we knew.
But how can we repent quickly and keep from hardening ourselves to God's voice as he calls us back to himself?
Leaders stumble for many reasons, and while I could argue that a zealous seminarian has little in common with a vain or depressed middle-aged leader, there is at least one common thread: My peers and my students can both stop reading the Bible as we should.
Technical and Devotional
A new Christian's Scripture reading tends to be naïve and devotional. New disciples devour Scripture, underlining word after word in their new Bibles. We often feel that God is speaking directly to us in every word.
After a few years, a budding leader's reading becomes sophisticated and devotional. We still feel that God speaks to us in the text, but as we learn basic principles of interpretation, we increasingly give our attention to Scripture's literary, cultural, and historical contexts. We own and use Bible dictionaries and commentaries. We know the translation strategies of competing Bible versions and begin to use that knowledge to get at the original text.
Most future church leaders go to seminary, where we become technical readers. We read Greek and Hebrew and consult scholarly sources. We respect the distance between our world and that of Scripture. Zeal to describe biblical history and theology grows. As we pursue what the word originally meant, we are tempted to neglect what it means today, to us.
When students become interns at a local church they remember that study should edify the church. We continue to read technically, but now we share our findings with others. We become technical-functional readers. Our reading may still be detached, personally speaking, but we store and organize our discoveries so we can offer them to others. While this phase may help us rediscover the proper use of Scripture, we may still be professional readers. We can present God's truth to others, while blocking his word to us.
Student and pastors need, therefore, to become technical, devotional readers. Here every exegetical skill remains, yet we also read like children, letting the word speak to our hearts again. We can find what Paul Ricoeur called a "second naiveté." We are both technically astute and spiritually receptive. Our study lets us to explain and apply God's Word to the church and to ourselves. Then we hear God's Word, so it does its work in us once again, so we purify our hearts, cleanse our hands, and walk in the ways of the Lord.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

AmI Quiet Enough?

“If you’re in need of a startling realization in your life, begin with solitude and silence. You may find that God has been trying to get your attention for awhile but you haven’t been able to hear Him. Not because he hasn’t been loud enough, but you haven’t been quiet enough….when God speaks, He often speaks in moments of solitude and silence.”

          -Kyle Idleman, AHA: The God Moment That Changes Everything

Worth Knowing

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Reality is Complicated

Do You Have A Problem With the Bible?

Brian Zahnd makes me think. I do not always agree with him, but he makes me think...and sometimes astounds me. Read this, and see what it does to you.
I have a problem with the Bible. Here’s my problem…
I’m an ancient Egyptian. I’m a comfortable Babylonian. I’m a Roman in his villa.
That’s my problem. See, I’m trying to read the Bible for all it’s worth, but I’m not a Hebrew slave suffering in Egypt. I’m not a conquered Judean deported to Babylon. I’m not a first century Jew living under Roman occupation.
I’m a citizen of a superpower. I was born among the conquerors. I live in the empire. But I want to read the Bible and think it’s talking to me. This is a problem.
One of the most remarkable things about the Bible is that in it we find the narrative told from the perspective of the poor, the oppressed, the enslaved, the conquered, the occupied, the defeated. This is what makes it prophetic. We know that history is written by the winners. This is true — except in the case of the Bible it’s the opposite! This is the subversive genius of the Hebrew prophets. They wrote from a bottom-up perspective.
Imagine a history of colonial America written by Cherokee Indians and African slaves. That would be a different way of telling the story! And that’s what the Bible does. It’s the story of Egypt told by the slaves. The story of Babylon told by the exiles. The story of Rome told by the occupied. What about those brief moments when Israel appeared to be on top? In those cases the prophets told Israel’s story from the perspective of the peasant poor as a critique of the royal elite. Like when Amos denounced the wives of the Israelite aristocracy as “the fat cows of Bashan.”
Every story is told from a vantage point; it has a bias. The bias of the Bible is from the vantage point of the underclass. But what happens if we lose sight of the prophetically subversive vantage point of the Bible? What happens if those on top read themselves into the story, not as imperial Egyptians, Babylonians, and Romans, but as the Israelites? That’s when you get the bizarre phenomenon of the elite and entitled using the Bible to endorse their dominance as God’s will. This is Roman Christianity after Constantine. This is Christendom on crusade. This is colonists seeing America as their promised land and the native inhabitants as Canaanites to be conquered. This is the whole history of European colonialism. This is Jim Crow. This is the American prosperity gospel. This is the domestication of Scripture. This is making the Bible dance a jig for our own amusement....
Much more at the link.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What Not to Say

From the Gospel Coalition blog:
"Job's friends were great counselors," Tullian Tchividjian observes, "until they opened their mouth."
Tchividjian sat down with Paul Tripp and Dave Furman to discuss things you shouldn't to say to a person in pain—many of which they've learned the hard way.....
...Watch the full seven-minute video to see these pastors discuss blunders they've made, comforting their kids, awkward silence, and more.

Return to the Source

From a piece by Jason Garwood called Returning to the Good News at Gospel-Centered Discipleship:
“What you really need is good news,” I told him. He didn’t understand. We had met time and time again and unbeknownst to him, he was trying to perform his way into the kingdom. “You can’t do that,” I exhorted, “otherwise you miss the entire point of Jesus and his performance on your behalf!”
Whether we acknowledge it or not, we all need good news. Not just good news, but better-than-anything news. News that announces something spectacular—like nothing you could ever imagine or fabricate. And until you recognize this need, you’ll be helpless. Like an engine with no gas, your life, without a constant barrage of Jesus-is-King news, will stall.
I often tell my congregation that I have 34 years left in my ministry here, and for those 34 years, you will hear the gospel over and over again, not because you don’t know it in your brain, but because knowing it in your brain isn’t enough. We must know it—I must know it—in our hearts, and in our hands. The gospel isn’t the starting point—it is the point. It’s the point of everything! And until we understand this truth, we will continue to be lured away, enticed by other false gospels that over-promise and under deliver.
Martin Luther is reported to have said that he continues to preach the gospel each and every week because each and every week his people forget it. I’m sure he would include himself in this assertion because let’s face it, we’re all guilty as charged.
Because of this, I came up with five simple reasons as to why we need to hear about Jesus and his glorious gospel each and every day. “Give us Jesus” ought to be the rally cry of the church. Over and over again, our hearts should be yearning to hear the gospel again and again—like my two-year-old daughter begging for a “horsey-ride” on my back, let us go back to the truth that sets us free.
Give us Jesus and his gospel:
The five simple reasons:  (1) So Our Affections Are Stirred, (2) So Our Identities Are Clarified. (3) So Our Idols Are Uprooted, (4) So Our Covenant is Kept, and (5) So Our Mission Is Spurred On.
Read it all at the link.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Happy Wounds

O Lord Jesus Christ,
draw our hearts to You;
join them together in inseparable love,
that we may abide in You and You in us,
and that the everlasting covenant between us
may stand sure for ever.
Let the fiery darts of Your love pierce through
all our slothful members and inward powers,
that we, being happily wounded,
may so become whole and sound.
Let us have no lover but Yourself alone;
let us seek no joy nor comfort except in You.
Miles Coverdale, 1488-1569 (HT – Marc Cortez)

Three Tips for Better Bible Reading

From the Desiring God Site- Three Tips for Better Bible Reading:
You probably don’t need to hear reasons that it’s important to read the Bible. You know it is.But you might need some motivation. One way to get excited about reading the Bible is to rethink your Bible-reading strategy. Here are three tips for better Bible reading:
Tip #1. Listen to audio-Bibles.
When you listen to an audio-Bible, you’ll be surprised how quickly the time goes by and how much of the Bible you “read.”
Sometimes I listen while doing other tasks such as driving or cleaning or running, but I’ve found it to be incredibly profitable to listen while following along in a different English translation (or in the original languages). Listening to a different version than you are reading helps keep you engaged as you inquisitively consider various renderings. The pace is so fast that you miss all sorts of nuances, but you gain a valuable macro-perspective.
Audio-Bibles work well for the Bible’s many styles of literature, though they work best for stories as opposed to proverbs or letters. This is evident when listening todramatized audio-Bibles (such as my family’s favorite: The Bible Experience). But it’s worth remembering that the congregations whom Paul addressed in his letters typically listened to Paul’s letters and did not own personal copies of them.
You might want to get started by downloading some free audio-Bibles from “Faith Comes by Hearing.”
Tip #2. Read books of the Bible in one sitting.
There is value in Bible-reading plans that divvy up the readings so that you read one chapter from four different books of the Bible. But if that’s the only way you read the Bible, it will be difficult to understand key literary features and the theological message of whole books of the Bible.
Have you ever read the Gospel according the Matthew straight through in one sitting? Or Romans? Or Job? Or Revelation? If not, you’re missing out. That’s the way they’re meant to be read. A book like Nehemiah would generally take about one hour. Ephesians would take 20 minutes. Here’s a full list of the approximate times it would take to read each book in our English Bible.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Going Deeper

Yesterday I posted an article about testing your heart. To follow up (again from Charisma Magazine), here are 2 Keys To Going deeper:
Experiencing the depths of Jesus Christ requires more than prayer and Scripture study; it calls for total abandonment to Him.
There are several steps involved in coming to know the depths of Jesus Christ.The first two are quite simple: praying the Scriptures and just beholding the Lord in quietness and trust. After you have pursued this level of experience with the Lord for a considerable length of time, you then should be ready to go on to a deeper level of knowing Him.
But in this deeper encounter with the Lord, you must move outside the realm of prayer alone; or, to state it more clearly, you must move away from just the one or two times a day you set apart for prayer with the Lord..
At this point, there must enter into your heart whole new attitudes toward your entire life. If you are to branch out beyond just a time of prayer each day, other parts of your life—and even your whole viewpoint of life—will have to be altered. This new attitude must come for a very special reason: so that you may go on deeper, still deeper, into another level with your Lord.To do this, you must have a fresh attitude toward yourself as well as toward the Lord; it is an attitude that must go much deeper than any you have known previously.
To help you develop this attitude, I introduce a new word to you. The word is abandonment.
To penetrate deeper in the experience of Jesus Christ, it is required that you begin to abandon your whole existence, giving it up to God.
Let us take the daily occurrences of life as an illustration....

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Is Your Heart Far From God?

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Corinthians 13:5, ESV)

Scripture says we should "examine" ourselves. From Charisma Magazine, here's a quick test on the status of your heart before God- and how to get back where you belong.
The prodigal son didn't end up among the pigs the day he left his father's house; he went through a gradual process of decline (see Luke 15:11-15). So it is with us. If the enemy presented the end with the first temptation, it would be easy to resist! But usually the departure from grace is so subtle that even leaders take the bait.
The warning signs are visible long before we fully embrace sin. One of the first is that we allow other people or things to take the place in our hearts that belongs only to God.
Preferring any earthly thing over God is a clear sign that our hearts have wandered. Even the spiritually mature are in danger of allowing what is visible to usurp the place of the eternal, invisible God.
The result is that we become lukewarm in our pursuit of God. Complacency sets in. We compare ourselves to the standard of others rather than to the standard of the Word and justify what we know is compromise.
We begin to live "a form of godliness," being outwardly religious but having no power in our lives (2 Tim. 3:5, KJV). Self then takes the throne (see vv. 2-4). We are no longer able to express the pure love God desires and are often judgmental and critical of others. Ultimately, like the prodigal son squandering his inheritance, we end up on the path to sin and spiritual death.
If your heart has wandered, recognizing your condition and crying out for God's help is the first step back into His empowering grace. Even your failure can be a stepping stone to a higher place spiritually if you come to see that your flesh can't be trusted. Understanding your own weakness is a key to releasing God's power on your behalf.

Friday, February 14, 2014

St. Valentine Says....

Lewis' Seven

Saw this very interesting article by Dr. Art Lindsley at The Poached Egg site on C. S. Lewis' Seven Key Ideas:
I have heard it said that many well-known thinkers have only two or three key ideas that they develop from various angles throughout their lives. It might be asked: What are C.S. Lewis's key ideas? I have chosen seven to summarize in this essay. You can click on the words in bold to get a further development of these ideas. The seven I have chosen are:
1.) Chronological Snobbery; 2.) Desire ; 3.) Imagination; 4.) Objective Values vs. Relativism; 5.) Myth; 6.) Immortality; 7.) Comprehensiveness
Read the details at the link.


"There never has been and never will be anyone like you, but that isn't a testament to you. It's a testament to  the God who created you. And that means no one can worship God like you or for you. You are absolutely irreplaceable in God's grand scheme. And God is jealous for you - all of you."

-Mark Batterson, All In: You Are One Decision Away From A Totally Different Life, pages 161 (italics in the original)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Small Things With Great Love

Holy Anticipation

"When you go all in with God, you never know how or when He might show up. But you can live in holy anticipation, knowing that God can invade the reality of your life at any given moment and change everything for eternity. And when He does, you need to mark the moment, mark the spot."

  -Mark Batterson, All In: You Are One Decision Away From A Totally Different Life, page 130

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Nothing More, Nothing Less

A comment at our small group Sunday night reminded me of this wonderful passage from J. D. Greear's Gospel.

Good words to remember....from a good book!

The Fertilizer of Failure

"Going all in for God isn't something you do once. In fact, you'll probably have a few failures before you get it right. But someday you'll celebrate the failure as much as the success. Failure is the fertilizer that grows character. And character sustains success so it doesn't backfire. Anyone without nay failure is like a plant without any roots or a building without any foundation. Failure is the substructure that supports the superstructure of success."

-Mark Batterson, All In: You Are One Decision Away From A Totally Different Life, pages 126-127

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Rejoice Until...

From @DailyKeller

Singing Atoms

"Arnold Summerfield, the German physicist and pianist, observed that a single hydrogen atom, which emits one hundred frequencies, is more musical than a grand piano, which only emits eighty-eight frequencies.

Every single atom is a unique expression of God's creative genius. And that means every atom is a unique expression of worship."

-Mark Batterson, All In: You Are One Decision Away From A Totally Different Life, page 118

Monday, February 10, 2014

Everyone Takes Their Turn As The....

From Coffee With Jesus and

Click image to enlarge

Soli Deo Gloria

"It's not about what you do.

It's about why you do what you do.

Ultimately, it's about who you do it for.

In God's kingdom, it's our motivations that matter most. If you do the right thing for the wrong reasons, it doesn't even count. God judges the motives or the heart, and He only rewards those who do the right things for the right reason, To be perfectly honest, i think much of my reward has been forfeited because I did things for me, not for Him.

SDG [Soli Deo Gloria] is living for an audience of one. It's doing the right thing for the right reason. It's living for the applause of the nail-scarred hands. You go all in and all out because Jesus is your All in All.

Just Jesus.

Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else."

    -Mark Batterson, All In: You Are One Decision Away From A Totally Different Life, page 118       (Italics in the original)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Born Again Veggie Tales

Interesting article about "Veggie Tales" creator Phil Vischer From David French in NRO Corner:
From “Veggie Tales” creator Phil Vischer, reflecting on his years as a pioneer in family-friendly, Christian entertainment:
I looked back at the previous 10 years and realized I had spent 10 years trying to convince kids to behave Christianly without actually teaching them Christianity. And that was a pretty serious conviction. You can say, “Hey kids, be more forgiving because the Bible says so,” or “Hey kids, be more kind because the Bible says so!” But that isn’t Christianity, it’s morality. . .
Barrett Johnson comments:Do you teach your kids “be good because the Bible tells you to” or do you teach your kids that they will never be good without Christ’s offer of grace? There is a huge difference. One leads to moralism; the other leads to brokenness. One leads to self-righteousness; the other leads to a life that realizes that Christ is everything and that nothing else matters.
I think that’s profound — and convicting. As a parent, I have a tendency to evaluate myself on whether my kids are doing good things. Are they excelling in school? Are they respectful to their elders? Do they practice and play hard at sports? Are they good teammates and loyal friends? The list can – and does — go on and on. Life by this list can be destructive. Seasons where kids are doing well build arrogance — in parent and child — while the rougher times can oppress the child and create waves of despair in parents.
This is a temptation even within homes that would scoff at the idea that they’re the least bit legalistic. (“We’re not fundamentalists! We drink bourbon and watch Game of Thrones!”) But legalism isn’t confined to teetotaling Disney-boycotters but instead rears its ugly head whenever we purport to attain virtue apart from Christ. My message to my kids should be clear: Any virtue you see in your father is due to Christ alone. Any good in yourself is due to Christ alone. Therefore, we boast in Christ alone and rely on Christ alone.
There’s no formula for raising Christian kids, but the truth certainly helps.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Only One Source

From @DailyKeller

100 Percent

"You don't have to make one hundred changes. all that does is divide your energy by one hundred and results in a 1 percent chance of success. You have to be 100 percent committed to one change.It will take and all-out effort.  And it will probably be the hardest thing you've ever done. But that one change has the potential to make a 100 percent difference in your life."

  -Mark Batterson, All In: You Are One Decision Away From A Totally Different Life, page 104

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Create the Future

"Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse to you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and the last day of your life. Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshiping what's right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze new trails."

   -Mark Batterson, All In: You Are One Decision Away From A Totally Different Life, page 85


Colllecting Scars Is Part of The Human Journey - By Pete Wilson

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Melting Power

Oh, the power, the melting, conquering, transforming power of the dear Cross of Christ. My brothers, we have but to constantly tell ourselves the matchless story, and we may expect to see the most remarkable results. We need not despair of our hearts now that Christ has died for this sinner.
With such a hammer as the doctrine of the Cross, this most flinty heart will be broken and such a fire as the sweet love of Christ will melt this most mighty iceberg. I need never to despair of my inability or my bad habits if I can but find occasion to bring the doctrine of Christ crucified into contact with my nature. It will yet change me and Christ will be my King. 
                — Charles Spurgeon
HT: Of First Importance

Monday, February 3, 2014

When Helping Hurts - Free Audio Book

Free AudioBook of the Month: “When Helping Hurts” 

Here’s a description:
With more than 225,000 copies sold, When Helping Hurts is a paradigm-forming contemporary classic on the subject of poverty alleviation and ministry to those in need. Emphasizing the poverty of both heart and society, this book exposes the need that every person has and how it can be filled. The reader is brought to understand that poverty is much more than simply a lack of financial or material resources and that it takes much more than donations and handouts to solve the problem of poverty.
While this book exposes past and current development efforts that churches have engaged in which unintentionally undermine the people they’re trying to help, its central point is to provide proven strategies that challenge Christians to help the poor empower themselves. Focusing on both North American and Majority World contexts, When Helping Hurts catalyzes the idea that sustainable change for people living in poverty comes not from the outside-in, but from the inside-out.
Did you notice the word "FREE"!

HT Justin Taylor 

Hot Or Cold

"Because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth." This verse from Revelation 3 certainly must rank as one of the most misused in the Bible. In the last month alone I have heard two speakers give it the same incorrect interpretation.
In the first three chapters of Revelation we find seven letters from Jesus to seven churches in late first-century Asia Minor (now western Turkey). In the letter to Laodicea, he says, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!" As a result, he will spit out their tepidness.
Often this is misinterpreted to mean that Jesus is tired of namby-pamby middle of the roaders. He would rather people be passionately against him or for him. This is ridiculous on two counts. First, Jesus simply does not want people to turn resolutely against him. He wants all to come to him and be saved.
Second, when Jesus refers to hot and cold water, he is drawing an analogy from the fact that Laodicea did not have a good water source. Instead, using Roman aqueducts, it received hot water from the north, from the city of Hierapolis, famous for its soothing and healing hot springs. Refreshing cold water came from the south, from Colossae, eleven miles away, from snow melt on the mountains. Unfortunately, by the time the hot water and the cold water got to Laodicea, both were lukewarm. As Richards and O'Brien say in Misreading Scripture Through Western Eyes, Jesus "wished his people were hot (like the salubrious waters of Hierapolis) or cold (like the refreshing waters of Colossae). Instead, their discipleship was unremarkable."
The problem was not that Laodicea lacked zeal. The problem was that the church was good for nothing.
So why describe the church as lukewarm? The answer found in the next verse. "You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked."
Laodicea as a city had a reputation for its many banks, for its excellent medical school and for its clothing industry. But, Jesus says, actually it was not rich but poor, not healthy but blind, not well clothed but naked. Their resources led them to rely on themselves instead of on Jesus. Their problem was not lack of fervor but a sense of self-sufficiency. They relied on themselves instead of on God.
For a culture that prides itself on its massive economy, the best medicine in the world, and a fashion industry second to none--Revelation 3, correctly interpreted, becomes all too relevant.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

What Do I Love?

"But what do I love when I love my God? . . .
Not the sweet melody of harmony and song;
not the fragrance of flowers, perfumes, and spices;
not manna or honey;
not limbs such as the body delights to embrace.
It is not these that I love when I love my God.
And yet, when I love him, it is true that I love a light of a certain kind, a voice, a perfume, a food, an embrace;
but they are of the kind that I love in my inner self,
when my soul is bathed in light that is not bound by space;
when it listens to sound that never dies away;
when it breathes fragrance that is not borne away on the wind;
when it tastes food that is never consumed by the eating;
when it clings to an embrace from which it is not severed by fulfillment of desire.
This is what I love when I love my God."
—St. Augustine, Confessions (transl. Pine-Coffin), X, 6.

Both Wicked and Valued

Some Tim Keller wisdom on self-image for Christians:
When Jesus invites Peter to follow him, he’s not just saying, ‘Would you like to sign up for a few courses with me?’ He wants him to live with him. He wants him to be his family. Therefore, when the salvation of Jesus Christ comes into your life, you see yourself as more wicked and sinful than you ever dared believe, and yet you sense you’re more valued and loved and affirmed than you ever dared hope at the same time.
That is a mark, infinitely greater self-worth, infinitely greater realism about your flaws at once, which is the selfquake, which is the unique self-image, which is the transformation of identity that happens to anyone into whose life this salvation comes. I say it every so often, but it has been a while so I’ll say it again. If you were saved by works, if you go to heaven through your performance, then you might be bold but not humble when you’re living up or you’ll be humble but not bold and confident when you’re failing, but you can never be bold and humble at once.
If you are more wicked than you ever dared believe and you’re more loved and affirmed than you ever dared hope at the same time because your relationship with God through Jesus Christ is based completely and sheerly on his grace, on his call, then it means you can’t be into either superiority or inferiority at all, because at the same moment you have infinite self-worth from his affirmation and you have infinite realism about your sin.
You can’t get an inferiority or superiority. There is a boldness and a humility about you at once. It is absolutely different.