Saturday, May 31, 2014

Pilgrim People


The Divine Intruder

"Our biblical story demands an offensive rather than defensive posture of the church. The world and all its resources, anguish, gifts, and groaning is God’s world, and God demands what God has created. Jesus Christ is the supreme act of divine intrusion into the world’s settled arrangements. In the Christ, God refuses to “stay in his place.” The message that sustains the colony is not for itself but for the whole world – the colony having significance only as God’s means for saving the whole world. The colony is God’s means of a major offensive against the world, for the world."

- Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon, Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony, 51.
HT:  Trevin Wax

Friday, May 30, 2014

Seeing More

"Growing in the gospel means seeing more of God’s holiness and more of my sin. And because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross, we need not fear seeing God as he really is or admitting how broken we really are. Our hope is not in our own goodness, nor in the vain expectation that God will compromise his standards and ‘grade on a curve.’ Rather, we rest in Jesus as our perfect Redeemer — the One who is ‘our righteousness, holiness and redemption’ (1 Cor. 1:30). "

— Bob Thune and Will Walker, The Gospel-Centered Life (World Harvest Mission, 2009), page 6

5 Benefits of Corporate Worship

From David Mathis at Desiring God - Five Benefits of Corporate Worship 
Worshiping Jesus together may be the single most important thing we do. It plays an indispensable role in rekindling our spiritual fire, and keeping it burning. Corporate worship brings together God’s word, prayer, and fellowship, and so makes for the greatest means of God’s ongoing grace in the Christian life.
But thinking of worship as a means can be dangerous. True worship is fundamentally an experience of the heart, and not a means to anything else. So it’s important to distinguish between what benefits might motivate us to be regular in corporate worship, and what focus our minds and hearts should pursue in the moment.
According to Don Whitney, “There’s an element of worship and Christianity that cannot be experienced in private worship or by watching worship. There are some graces and blessings that God gives only in the ‘meeting together’ with other believers” (Spiritual Disciplines, 92). Surely, many more could be given, but here are five such “graces and benefits” that we experience uniquely in the context of corporate worship....
He goes on to list the five benefits of corporate public worship as:
  1. Awakening
  2. Assurance
  3. Advance
  4. Accepting Another's Leading
  5. Accentuated Joy
You can read the full article at the link

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The "One Anothers" Not in the Bible

Sanctify one another, humble one another, scrutinize one another, pressure one another, embarrass one another, corner one another, interrupt one another, defeat one another, sacrifice one another, shame one another, judge one another, run one another’s lives, confess one another’s sins, intensify one another’s sufferings, point out one another’s failings . . . .
The kind of God we really believe in is revealed in how we treat one another.  The lovely gospel of Jesus positions us to treat one another like royalty, and every non-gospel positions us to treat one another like dirt.  But we will follow through horizontally on whatever we believe vertically.
Our relationships with one another, then, are telling us what we really believe as opposed to what we think we believe, our convictions as opposed to our opinions.  It is possible for the gospel to remain at the shallow level of opinion, even sincere opinion, without penetrating to the level of real conviction.  But when the gospel grips us at the level of conviction, we obey its implications whatever the cost.  Therefore, if we are not treating one another well, then what we’re facing is not a lack of niceness but a lack of gospel.  Our deficit is not primarily personal but theological.  What we need is not only better manners but, far more, true faith.  Then the watching world will know that Jesus has come in among us:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 13:34-35

HT: Aaron Armstrong

We Are All Catholic

When is a Baptist a catholic? When he says all true believers are catholic!

Read what Mark Dever, pastor of Capital Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC says:
 An essential part of the gospel is that it is catholic—that is, the Good News is given to all people. And the church the Holy Spirit creates is catholic.
Putting the matter like this may make some Christians squirm. Many Protestants affirm, either weekly or semi-regularly, the Nicene Creed, proclaiming, "We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church," but many balk at that word, catholic. (That's why in my own congregation, we use the word universal rather than catholic, because the original Greek term katholikos means "whole, entire, universal.")....
.....there is much more to be said than that "catholic" simply means "universal." Let me rehearse all too quickly the history and biblical theology behind the term, why it's included in the great summary of the Christian faith, and how it challenges churches today.
Read it all at the link.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Conference Call

Click image to enlarge
From Radio Free Babylon

The End of Books?

The "End of Books"? What a horrible thought! Read this interesting interview with Tony Reinke at Desiring God:
Why is reading so important to Christianity?
How is the Internet changing the way we read?
How can we become better readers?
These questions, and other critical topics about literacy, were addressed by
Desiring God’s own Tony Reinke in an interview with Cees-Jan Smits today in the newspaper Reformatorisch Dagblad (Dutch).
Tony is the author of Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books, or as it’s known in the Netherlands, Lees!.
What follows is the original (English) version of today’s interview.
Read it all at the link.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Avoiding On-line Self-Promotion

Some good counsel from Mark Sayers, author of the new book, Facing Leviathan: Leadership, Influence, and Creating in a Cultural Storm, (By way of Justin Taylor)
  1. Avoid being a fame-vampire.
  2. Don’t add to the Hubbub.
  3. Real life Followers>Online followers.
  4. Platform never beats spiritual authority.
  5. Promote resources not yourself.
  6. Avoid humblebrags.
  7. Ask the dangerous question ‘why?’
  8. Take breaks.
  9. Be patient with God.
  10. Track your time.
You can read an explanation of each point here.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Joy-Based Repentance

"In fear-based repentance, we don’t learn to hate the sin for itself, and it doesn’t lose its attractive power. We learn only to refrain from it for our own sake.

But when we rejoice over God’s sacrificial, suffering love for us — seeing what it cost him to save us from sin — we learn to hate the sin for what it is. We see what the sin cost God.

What most assures us of God’s unconditional love (Jesus’s costly death) is what most convicts us of the evil of sin. Fear-based repentance makes us hate ourselves. Joy-based repentance makes us hate the sin. "

— Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods  (New York, NY: Penguin, 2009), page 172

HT Of First Importance

Moving On

Friday, May 23, 2014

Pull Your Sorry Self Across the Line

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  – 1 Thessalonians 5:23
Not a single one of us is a perfect repenter. And not a single one of us ever will be. I do believe we cooperate in the work of our sanctification, working out what God has worked in (Phil. 2:12-13), striving to lay hold of the holiness with which God has already laid hold of us (Phil. 3:12), holding true to what we’ve already attained (Phil. 3:16), but the power and the success of sanctification must be the Lord’s alone, if only because only he sees all we need cleansing from.
It is a mistake to think that as we progress in sanctification we have less sin to address. We walk through victories, successions of freedoms, but my experience has been that the further into Christ’s righteousness I press, the more of my own unworthiness I see, not the less. And even as the Spirit bears more and more fruit in my life, even as I learn to trust more and more, when I do finally cross that heavenly finish line, there will nevertheless still be sins unrepented, especially among the sins I don’t even remember or don’t even see. And I will pull my sorry self across that line, some stupid sin still entangled around my ankle, and I will look up to see Christ the Judge standing over me, looking down, considering my pitiful soul. And do you know what he will say? “Well done.”
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.– Jude 1:24-25
My sorry self says amen and thank the Lord for this kind of grace! 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Getting Unstuck

I've spent thousands of hours in counseling sessions with people who are stuck in relationships. It wasn't always a husband and wife in a marriage gone bad; any two people in any type of relationship can find themselves stuck.
Are you in a relationship that has lost its passion? I'm not just talking about marital romance. A parent and child who once adored each other can now live in hostile tension. Two siblings who loved each other growing up can now be separated by anger. Co-workers or neighbors who used to get along so easily can now find it hard to have an argument-free conversation.
I would assume that everyone reading this Article can identify at least one relationship that isn't as joyful as it could be. But, if you have a good history with relationships, don't skip over this material. God can use you as an instrument of reconciliation between others.
To begin, let's look at 10 typical signs of a relationship gone bad:

  1. Do you struggle to be intimate with the other person? (Don't just apply this to the sexual life of a husband and wife; intimacy can be defined as "closeness")
  2. Do you struggle - or are you afraid - to talk about important subjects with the other person?
  3. Do you use words as weapons to hurt and tear down instead of using words to build up and give grace? (Ephesians 4:29)
  4. Do you spend more time criticizing the behavior of the other person than you do reflecting on the motives of your own heart?
  5. Do you continually struggle to solve problems and resolve conflict?
  6. Do you ever wish - even just for a moment - that you had never met (or had) the other person in the relationship?
  7. Do you struggle to serve the other person, or, have you lost the joy you once had in serving that person?
  8. Do you find yourself angrily replaying the conversations and interactions you had with the other person?
  9. Do you try to make yourself busy so you don't have to interact with the other person? (In other words, do you look for excuses that allow you to avoid them)
  10. As a whole, would you say that the quality of your relationship is worse now than it was ____ months/years ago?

Every relationship is going to experience conflict. After all, you - a sinner - are living with other sinners in a fallen world. It's bound to be messy!
So, I want to introduce you to a 6-step biblical process for changing a relationship. Before I tell you the steps, you need to know three things about this process:

  1. The order of these steps is crucial to the process of change
  2. Don't move on to the next step until the current work is complete
  3. Change is a process, not an event. This process could take months - even years. Don't rush it.

Here we go:
1. Confession & Forgiveness
If change is ever going to take place, it has to begin with an honest confession of wrongs done, followed by an honest and humble granting of forgiveness. If you're refusing to admit you wronged the other person, and/or refusing to let their wrongs go, you won't get unstuck.
2. Trusting & Entrusting
Now that the past has been dealt with, we need to deal with the present. You need to do everything you can to become a trustworthy person. And then, you need to be willing to be vulnerable. Entrust yourself to the other person, knowing that they're still imperfect people.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Lean On Him....


Gratitude For Schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer died 30 years ago this month. Ray Ortlund posted these three reasons to be grateful for the life and ministry of this great man.
Here are three reasons — for starters — why I am grateful for the life and ministry of Francis Schaeffer..... 
One, Francis Schaeffer pioneered a new way of advancing the gospel.  All my life I’d been exposed to conventional people using conventional methods, and I don’t mean that in a condescending way.  I had the privilege of knowing men of true greatness, like my dad.  But Schaeffer was just different.  He located the gospel within a total Christian worldview.  He talked about modern art and films and books.  He spoke with prophetic insight about cultural trends.  He worked out fresh ways to articulate old truths, even coining new expressions like “true truth.”  He had a beard and long hair and dressed like a European.  He had Christian radicalism all over him, called for by those radical times.  I found him non-ignorable.  To this day, I dislike conventionality, partly because I saw in Francis Schaeffer a man who made an impact not by conforming and fitting in but by standing out as the man God made him to be, the man the world needed him to be.
Two, Francis Schaeffer united in a coherent and even beautiful whole theological conviction with personal humaneness.  I remember his saying once that, in a conversation with a liberal theologian, he would try to conduct himself so that the liberal would gain two clear and equal impressions.  One, Schaeffer disagreed with him theologically.  Two, Schaeffer cared about him personally.  Moreover, Schaeffer pointed out that, in ourselves, we are unable to demonstrate simultaneously the truth and holiness of God, on the one hand, and the love and mercy of God, on the other hand.  In our own strength, we will slide off toward one emphasis or the other.  But as we look to the Lord moment by moment, we can hold together both theological conviction and human beauty.  But only by both together can we bear living witness to the magnitude of who Jesus really is.  And if we fail to show the fullness of Christ, we actually bear false witness to him, we make him ugly in human eyes, and we set his cause back, however sincere we may be.
Three, Francis Schaeffer and his wife Edith, leading L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland, exemplified compelling Christian community.  They welcomed all kinds of people.  They attracted all kinds of people.  They demonstrated a gentleness, openness and tolerance that created space for many diverse people who wouldn’t have found a home in our more typical churches.  They sacrificed personally to create this rare kind of community.  Their wedding gifts were wrecked, people threw up on their carpets, and so forth.  The Schaeffers flung open their lives, their hearts, their space, and it cost them.  But they gained many people for Christ.  This bold commitment is real Christianity.  Anything less is bluff and hypocrisy.
I thank the Lord for Francis Schaeffer.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Enter the Rest

‘So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.’ (Hebrews 4:9)

Come then, let us labor to enter into this rest. Let us quit the weary toil of sin and self. Let us cease from all confidence, even in those works of which it might be said, ‘they are very good’. Have we any such? Still, let us cease from our own works, as God did from his.

Now let us find solace in the finished work of our Lord Jesus. Everything is fully done: justice demands no more. Great peace is our portion in Christ Jesus.

— Charles Spurgeon, Cheque Book of the Bank of Faith, September 28

Monday, May 19, 2014

Apologetic Quotes

10 great apologetics quotes from "The Poached Egg":
Apologetics QuotesOne lesson we must learn from Misquoting Jesus is that those in ministry need to close the gap between the church and the academy. We have to educate believers. Instead of trying to isolate laypeople from critical scholarship, we need to insulate them. They need to be ready for the barrage, because it is coming. The intentional dumbing down of the church for the sake of filling more pews will ultimately lead to defection from Christ. Ehrman is to be thanked for giving us a wake-up call. - Dr. Daniel B. Wallace
Apologetics QuotesScientists rightly resist invoking the supernatural in scientific explanations for fear of committing a god-of-the-gaps fallacy (the fallacy of using God as a stop-gap for ignorance). Yet without some restriction on the use of chance, scientists are in danger of committing a logically equivalent fallacy-one we may call the “chance-of-the-gaps fallacy.” Chance, like God, can become a stop-gap for ignorance. - William Dembski
Apologetics QuotesEverybody has a point of view they think is right and everybody judges at some point or another. The Christian gets pigeon-holed as the judgmental one, but everyone else is judging, too. It’s an inescapable consequence of believing in any kind of morality.
- Greg Koukl
Apologetics QuotesIn the face of this modern nihilism, Christians are often lacking in courage. We tend to give the impression that we will hold on to the outward forms whatever happens, even if God really is not there. But the opposite ought to be true of us, so that people can see that we demand the truth of what is there and that we are not dealing merely with platitudes. In other words, it should be understood that we take the question of truth and personality so seriously that if God were not there we would be among the first of those who had the courage to step out of the queue. - Francis Schaeffer
Apologetics QuotesOne of the most disastrous illusions of the internet age is that an amateur plus Google is equivalent to a scholar. A search engine offers information, more or less relevant according to the skill of the searcher. But it does not sift that information; it does not sort fact from fancy, wheat from chaff. It does not explain which facts are relevant and which are beside the point. It does not weigh the merits of competing arguments and tell the user where the balance of evidence lies. A bright amateur armed with the internet may at best be better informed than he would otherwise have been, and he may occasionally catch a real scholar in a factual error. But it will not turn him into a scholar himself. There is no such thing as effortless erudition. - Dr. Timothy McGrew

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Nice Try, Eutychus

From The Sacred Sandwich

Beautiful Reverence

"It is not reverent to erect barriers of icy formality [with God] which Jesus died to tear down. Doing so is pious rebellion. There is no more beautiful reverence in the sight of God than the simple heartcry, ‘Abba! Father!’ "

— Ray Ortlund, Jr. Supernatural Living for Natural People (Ross-shire, UK: Christian Focus, 2010), page 85

Saturday, May 17, 2014

9 Things You Should Know About the Gosnell Infanticide and Murder Trial

Today [May 13th] marks one year since Kermit Gosnell, an abortionist from Pennsylvania, was convicted  of three counts of first-degree murder. Here are 9 things you should know about the case of America's most prolific serial killer:gosnell kermit1. Gosnell was arrested in January 2011, charged with eight counts of murder: one patient died under his care after a botched abortion, and seven infants supposedly born alive whose spinal cords Gosnell  severed with scissors.
2. According to prosecutors in Philadelphia, Gosnell catered to minorities, immigrants, and poor women, and made millions of dollars over 30 years performing illegal and late-term abortions in squalid and barbaric conditions. Gosnell took extra precautions with white women from the suburbs, according to the grand jury report. He ushered them into a slightly cleaner area because he thought they would be more likely to file a complaint.
3. Women paid $325 for first-trimester abortions and $1,600 to $3,000 for abortions up to 30 weeks. The clinic took in up to $15,000 a day, said authorities. Although abortions after the 24th week are illegal, Gosnell aborted and killed babies in the sixth and seventh months of pregnancy and charged more for bigger babies.
4. According to the grand jury report, the clinic reeked of animal urine and the furniture and blankets were stained with blood. Medical instruments found in the practice had not been properly sterilized. State officials have failed to visit or inspect his abortion clinic since 1993. Prosecutors also claim that Gosnell was not certified in either gynecology or obstetrics.
5. Prosecutors said that none of Gosnell's staff, including his wife, were licensed nurses or doctors and that a 15-year-old student performed anesthesia with potentially lethal narcotics.
6. A woman who worked for Gosnell testified that she was called back to a room at his abortion clinic in Philadelphia where the bodies of aborted babies were kept to hear one screaming amid a shelf-full of dead babies. "I can't describe it," says the woman. "It sounded like a little alien." She says the body of the child was about 18 to 24 inches long and was one of the largest babies she had seen delivered during abortion procedures at Gosnell's clinic.
7. On January 31, 1998, a then 15 year old Robyn Reid sought an abortion from Gosnell's clinic. Once she was in the clinic, though, Reid, an 87-pound teenager at the time, told Gosnell she changed her mind about the abortion. She claims Gosnell got upset, ripped off her clothes, restrained her, and repeatedly told her, "This is the same care that I would give to my own daughter." Reid regained consciousness 12 hours later at her aunt's home, with the abortion having been completed against her will.
8. At the time of Gosnell's arrest and trial, his crimes received almost no coverage by the national media. During the early part of the trial ABC, CBS and NBC did not cover the trial at all, yet gave 41 minutes and 26 seconds of air time to the story of Mike Rice, the Rutgers basketball coach who was fired for verbally and physically abusing his players.
9. The 3801 Lancaster Film Project is an ongoing documentary series about Kermit Gosnell, the Women's Medical Society, and the cover-up by state and local oversight agencies.
(Warning: The video contains graphic images.)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Robustly Trinitarian

Mike Reeves, author of Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith, delivers a short and delightful talk on the necessary relationship between the gospel and the Trinity:

 HT: Between Two Worlds

Finding Grace in Failures

Good stuff from Joe Thorn - 4 Ways to Find God's Grace Our in Failures
If you haven't figured it out yet let me encourage you to see something that will greatly help you. Not all of your ideas are good. Some of them are bad. And God will often let you flail and fail out there for very good purposes. And when you fail do not lose the opportunity to find grace in the midst of it.
I believe this is especially important for pastors to understand. It's one of the most important lessons I have learned in 16 years of pastoral ministry: failure is to be expected and learned from. I have misspoke, misstepped, and missed the mark in more ways than I can explain here. And failing hurts. Most of us of are afraid of it. Leaders in particular are afraid of failure since it's always a bit more of a public spectacle.
I'm not talking about moral failure that disqualifies someone from the ministry, but ministerial failure. It may sometimes involve sin, but more often it's poor judgment or simply the bad execution of an idea. And while we must always take ownership for our failures, we don't have to be defeated by them. In fact, I have found that there is much grace to be found in failure if I will seek the Lord through it.
Four Ways to Find God's Grace in Our Failures
Our failures remind us that we are not the Savior
When we fail it is a painful and helpful reminder that we are not God. This should be an obvious truth to us all, but in leading we sometimes begin to think that we can do it all. It is tempting to believe that only we can do "it," whatever it is. But our failure can be a means by which we are reminded that we not only need God to go before us and give us success, but also that we need saving even from our best efforts in ministry. We are weak and frail, yet called to serve and lead others. Failure helps us to see this tension and return to and rely on the grace of God for all we need in life and ministry.
Our failures teach us humility
Humility is not a natural character train in us. We are born proud sinners who boast in ourselves and our plans. Humility, on the other hand, is something that God must develop in us. It is grown by the grace of God, and often cultivated through failure. For even when we fail God is at work. We might not have accomplished what we wanted to, or even what God has called us to, but he uses such circumstances to make us more dependent on him, less dependent on ourselves. He helps us to see our smallness in contrast to his greatness and in this the grace of God shines brightly. He loves us anyway. He will use us in spite of ourselves. Here humility grows.
Our failures encourage us to be learners
This is very important for leaders--to remain teachable. When looking for leaders and future church planters in our church humility and teachability are indispensable. Success can breed pride. It's doesn't have to, but it often does. Failure, though, reminds us we have much to learn. It orients us to seek wisdom and help from God and those he has placed around us.
Our failures are used by God to show a better way
Whenever I am asked about what I have learned in church planting and pastoral ministry I always explain that at least 50% of what I know I learned through making mistakes. I have often done things wrong before I've done things right. But this is the grace of failure. We can see very clearly, painfully clearly, that there are things to avoid, fight against, prepare for, and die over. And there are other things worth letting go. Failure always shows us there is a better way.
We will fail. A lot. But God will use all of it for his glory and our good if we are willing to find his grace in our failure.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Not Just An Addition

Via @Challies

Sound Doctrine

From a post at Crossway 10 things You Should Know About Sound Doctrine by Bobby Jamieson, author of Sound Doctrine: How a Church Grows in the Love and Holiness of God.
1. Sound doctrine re-tells the single story that sweeps through all of Scripture.
From creation, through our fall into sin, to Jesus’s saving work on the cross and the eventual restoration of God’s rule over all creation, the Bible tells a single epic narrative that spans Genesis to revelation. Sound doctrine traces the contours of this story and repeats it in simple, memorable forms.
2. Sound doctrine summarizes and synthesizes the Bible’s teaching as a coherent whole.
For all its diversity, Scripture fits together as a marvelous unity because it consists of God’s own words, revealing God’s own thoughts and acts. Sound doctrine brings together all of Scripture’s teaching on every subject the Bible addresses.
3. Sound doctrine is a guide and guard for reading and teaching the Bible.
The goal of reading and teaching Scripture is to love God, and the way to love God is to know God. Sound doctrine tells us what God is like so that we may love him more. And sound doctrine is an important guard for interpreting Scripture. It helps ensure that we confess and delight in all that Scripture teaches, rather than setting one passage against another or drawing conclusions from one passage that contradict another.
4. Sound doctrine is God’s roadmap for the Christian life and the life of the church.
We listen to the teaching of God’s Word for the purpose of living it out. Sound doctrine isn’t an information archive that serves only to present facts. Rather, it’s a road map for our pilgrimage from this world to the world to come.
5. Sound doctrine nourishes holiness.
Every biblical doctrine, embraced by the mind and applied to the heart, conforms us to the character of Christ. Sound doctrine drives us to devote ourselves more completely to God in our thoughts, desires, attitudes, words, and actions—which is what the Bible calls “holiness.” As Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
6. Sound doctrine is the ground and pattern of love.
The apostle John once told a church that he loved them “in the truth,” and that all those who know the truth love them too, “because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever” (2 John 1–2). Truth is the basis of the special bond of love that ties Christians’ hearts together. And truth is the pattern of our love: we are to love one another in deed and truth, since that is how Jesus loved us (1 John 3:16–18).
7. Sound doctrine is the foundation of unity in the church.
When the Corinthian church was torn by divisions over favored leaders, Paul shot back, “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul” (1 Cor. 1:13). The unity of the church is grounded in the unity of the faith.
8. Sound doctrine is fuel for the fire of worship.
Over and over again the Bible not only tells us to worship; it tells us why to worship (Psalm 95:1–7). Sound doctrine reminds us that God has rescued us from our sin, reconciled us to himself, and pledged himself to provide for all of our needs, now and forever. All of these are reasons to praise him, adore him, make a joyful noise to him, and bow down before him in submission and obedience.
9. Sound doctrine equips and emboldens evangelism.
The better you know the gospel, the better you’ll share the gospel. And the better you remember that God is the one who gives life to the dead and sight to the blind (Eph. 2:1–10, 2 Cor. 4:3–6), the more you’ll boldly preach the gospel, pray for conversions, and trust God to save sinners.
10. Sound doctrine fills up our joy.
Referring to all the teaching he gave his disciples on his last night with them—including some of the Bible’s richest teaching on the Trinity—Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:11). Because it unfolds the riches of God’s grace to us, sound doctrine brings light and hope and joy. It fills our hearts with satisfaction in Christ because of what he has done for us.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Standing On the Promises

God’s promises were never meant to be thrown aside as waste paper; he intended that they should be used. God’s gold is not miser’s money, but is minted to be traded with.

Nothing pleases our Lord better than to see his promises put in circulation; he loves to see his children bring them up to him, and say, Lord, do as thou hast said. We glorify God when we plead his promises.

— Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, January 15

Missional Legalism

Is being "missional" or radical" a new form of legalism? Anthony Bradley wrote about this in World Magazine:
Is Paul’s urging to live quietly, mind your own affairs, and work with your hands (1 Thessalonians 4:11) only for losers? Do you feel that you’re wasting your gifts if you “settle” into an ordinary job, get married early and start a family, or live in a small town or suburb? Acton Institute Power Blogger Anthony Bradley has some provocative thoughts on the “new legalism.” —Marvin Olasky
A few days ago on Facebook and Twitter I made the following observation:
“Being a ‘radical,’ ‘missional’ Christian is slowly becoming the ‘new legalism.’ We need more ordinary God and people lovers (Matt 22:36-40).”
This observation was the result of long conversation with a student who was wrestling with what to do with his life given all of the opportunities he had available to him. To my surprise, my comment exploded over the internet with dozens and dozens of people sharing the comment and sending me personal correspondence.
I continue to be amazed by the number of youth and young adults who are stressed and burnt out from the regular shaming and feelings of inadequacy if they happen to not be doing something unique and special. Today’s millennial generation is being fed the message that if they don’t do something extraordinary in this life they are wasting their gifts and potential. The sad result is that many young adults feel ashamed if they “settle” into ordinary jobs, get married early and start families, live in small towns, or as 1 Thessalonians 4:11 says, “aspire to live quietly, and to mind [their] affairs, and to work with [their] hands.” For too many millennials their greatest fear in this life is being an ordinary person with a non-glamorous job, living in the suburbs, and having nothing spectacular to boast about.
Here are a few thoughts on how we got here. 
Anti-Suburban Christianity
In the 1970s and 1980s, the children and older grandchildren of the builder generation (born between 1901 and 1920) sorted themselves and headed to the suburbs to raise their children in safety, comfort, and material ease. And now millennials (born between 1977 and 1995), taking a cue from their baby boomer parents (born between 1946 and 1964) to despise the contexts that provided them advantages, have a disdain for America’s suburbs. This despising of suburban life has been inadvertently encouraged by well-intentioned religious leaders inviting people to move to neglected cities to make a difference, because, after all, the Apostle Paul did his work primarily in cities, cities are important, and cities are the final destination of the Kingdom of God. They were told that God loves cities and they should, too. The unfortunate message became that you cannot live a meaningful Christian life in the suburbs.  
Missional Narcissism
There are many churches that are committed to being what is called missional. This term is used to describe a church community where people see themselves as missionaries in local communities. A missional church has been defined, as “a theologically formed, Gospel-centered, Spirit-empowered, united community of believers who seek to faithfully incarnate the purposes of Christ for the glory of God,” says Scott Thomas of the Acts 29 Network. The problem is that this push for local missionaries coincided with the narcissism epidemic we are facing in America, especially with the millennial generation. As a result, living out one’s faith became narrowly celebratory only when done in a unique and special way, a “missional” way. Getting married and having children early, getting a job, saving and investing, being a good citizen, loving one’s neighbor, and the like, no longer qualify as virtuous. One has to be involved in arts and social justice activities—even if justice is pursued without sound economics or social teaching. I actually know of a couple who were being so “missional” they decided to not procreate for the sake of taking care of orphans.
To make matters worse, some religious leaders have added a new category to Christianity called “radical Christianity” in an effort to trade-off suburban Christianity for mission. This movement is based on a book by David Platt and is fashioned around “an idea that we were created for far more than a nice, comfortable Christian spin on the American dream. An idea that we were created to follow One who demands radical risk and promises radical reward.” Again, this was a well-intentioned attempt to address lukewarm Christians in the suburbs, but because it is primarily reactionary and does not provide a positive construction for the good life from God’s perspective, it misses “radical” ideas in Jesus’ own teachings like “love.”
Much more at the link.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Only Opinion That Matters

Ever wonder what God thinks when He thinks about you? Ever wonder what He really sees when He looks at you? You might be surprised. (From Pete Wilson)

Dangerous Grace

From  a classic post by Michael Spencer at iMonk: Grace Is As Dangerous As Ever
...Real grace is simply inexplicable, inappropriate, out of the box, out of bounds, offensive, excessive, too much, given to the wrong people and all those things.
When God’s grace meets us, Jesus has to order away the accusers of our conscience. Satan. Religion. Parents. Church members. Culture. Morality. Legalism. Civility. The oughts. The shoulds. The of course we know thats. The I’d like to but I just can’ts.
Jesus orders them away so he can tell us that grace is doing what only grace can do, and we must go and live in the reverberation of forgiveness. We must live with the reality of grace when it makes no sense at all, can’t be explained and won’t be commodified or turned into some form of medicine.... the heart of true Christian experience is this inexplicable, annoyingly inappropriate, wondrously superlative experience of Jesus saying, “I don’t condemn you. Go and live your life.”
He says it to the divorced. To the expelled. To the unemployed. He says it to criminals. To perverts. To the damaged and the worthless. He says it to cutters, to whores, to greedy businessmen, to unfaithful husbands, to porn addicts and thieves. He says it to the lazy, the unholy, the confused and even the religious. He says it to you and to me.
It’s how he changes lives, and it’s as dangerous as ever.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

When You Fall

"Since even the just man, the holiest man, falls as often as seven times a day, indeed, seventy times seven, what are you to do in these slips and falls? If you fall, and you cannot avoid it, do not lie still, do not sleep there where you have fallen. It would be a shame to sleep, therefore rise again. And how are you to rise? By lifting your soul and running to the fountain of grace and mercy, by repairing to Christ Jesus, to obtain mercy for your soul, and to ask Him to send from Himself the needed peace to put your conscience to rest, and to restore your soul to health."

— Robert Bruce, Mystery of the Lord’s Supper (Scotland, UK: Christian Focus Publications), page 160

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Why I Am Sure About Heaven

I lost my mother this week. She passed after a full life, a beautiful 64 year long marriage, and leaving behind a great legacy. Therefore, this carton was especially meaningful to me today. I know where Mama is.

Click on cartoon to see it bigger

From Radio Free Babylon

Friday, May 9, 2014

Prayer Truths

Do you know how many prayer are mentioned in the Bible (and how many were answered)? Here's the answer to that question and other things you should know about the prayer in the Bible.gethsemane_thumb1. There are 650 prayers listed in the Bible. (Here is the entire list and where they can be found.)
2. There are approximately 450 recorded answers to prayer in the Bible.
3. The first time prayer is mentioned in the Bible is Genesis 4:26 (earlier dialogues where initiated directly by God, e.g., Genesis 3:8-13Genesis 4:9).
4. The Bible records Jesus praying 25 different times during his earthly ministry.
5. In the Bible, Paul mentions prayer (prayers, prayer reports, prayer requests, exhortations to pray), 41 times.
6. Although prayer can (and should) be done from any bodily position, the Bible lists five specific postures: Sitting (2 Sam 7:18), standing (Mark 11:25), kneeling (Chronicles 6:13;Daniel 6:10Luke 22:41Acts 7:609:4020:3621:5Ephesians 3:14), with one's face to the ground (Matthew 26:39Mark 14:35), and with hands lifted up (1 Timothy 2:8). 
7. In Jesus model for how his disciples should pray (Luke 11:1-4), he provides five areas of focus: That God's name be honored - the focus on his everlasting glory ("Father, hallowed be your name"); that God's kingdom come - the focus on his eternal will ("your kingdom come"); that God's provision is given - the focus on our present ("Give us each day our daily bread."); that God's forgiveness is granted - the focus on our past (Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.); that God's deliverance will be provided - the focus on our future.
8. The Bible lists at least nine main types of prayer: prayer of faith (James 5:15), prayer of agreement (also known as corporate prayer) (Acts 2:42), prayer of request (also known as petition or supplication) (Philippians 4:6), prayer of thanksgiving (Psalm 95:2-3), prayer of worship (Acts 13:2-3), prayer of consecration (also known as dedication) (Matthew 26:39), prayer of intercession (1 Timothy 2:1),  prayer of imprecation (Psalms 69), and praying in the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:14-15).
9. The word "Amen" (which means "let it be, "so be it," "verily," "truly") makes its first appearance in the Bible in Numbers 5:22. In that passage God commands it to be said by a person who is yielding to his examination.