Friday, May 29, 2015

Holy Desperation

Good Stuff - My Three Biggest Struggles in Prayer by Darryl Dash. Mine too; How about you?
I don’t pray like I should. When I look at how Jesus prayed, I realize that my prayer life is anemic. I don’t say this to be humble or to exaggerate. I do pray; I just realize that my prayer life falls short of what I want it to be, and what it needs to be.

As I think about this, there are at least three reasons.
One: I’m not desperate. “A needy heart is a praying heart,” writes Paul Miller in his excellent book A Praying Life. “Dependency is the heartbeat of prayer.” I’m always needy, but I’m not always aware of my need. If I really grasped how much I need God, then I would be much quicker to pray.
Two: I’m not honest. I like to pray when I have my act together. I want God to see my best side. I have a much harder time praying when I’m tempted or struggling. More accurately, I have a hard time praying honestly when I’m tempted or struggling. This is a sign that I’m trusting in my own righteousness rather than in the righteousness of Christ. If I really understood the gospel, I’d be okay with coming to God no matter how I’m feeling. The gospel frees us to be honest in prayer and to come just as we are.
Three: I’m not bold. When I read Jesus’ lavish promises about prayer, I instinctively pull back. Can I really come boldly? Can I pray boldly, audaciously, relentlessly as Jesus seemed to teach? Is there really such a thing as mountain-moving prayer? I look for the footnotes, the conditions that will convince me that Jesus wasn’t really saying that I should keep on asking, seeking, and knocking. As a result, my prayers become safe and boring. Even I lose interest.
These are my three biggest issues in prayer. They also point me in the direction of a healthy prayer life. When I am desperate, honest, and bold, I am ready to pray. The best news: when the gospel sinks in, it frees me to be desperate, honest, and bold.
My prayer? That God would grant me a holy desperation, honesty, and boldness. Maybe you’ll pray with me?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

...And You Can Quote Me On That

How to enjoy and benefit from a good quote- Don't Kill That Quote by Tim Challies
...Now it all sounds very simple, and it really should be. But I have found, rather to my surprise, that many people do not know how to enjoy a quote. To the contrary, too many people ruin a perfectly good quote because they just don’t know how to make the most of it. Within 10 minutes of posting a quote, no matter what it says or who said it, someone will object. It is inevitable. No sooner do I post the quote than someone replies to tell me why they disagree with it (and, very possibly, why I am a rank heretic for ever sharing it in the first place).
The most common objection is that the quote does not contain the entire truth. The quote may be true, but not always true or not wholly true. John Flavel says, “A twig is brought to any form, but grown trees will not bow. How few are converted in old age!” But someone objects to say that his grandmother was saved at the age of 72. “The true test of our worldview is what we find entertaining,” says Al Mohler. But that person’s conscience is clear and she says she can thank God for the entertainment another person might find objectionable.
The very thing these people are objecting to is the beauty and value of the quotes: They provide a dimension of truth and give us the opportunity to reflect on what is true. Few single sentences contain exhaustive truth—that is too great a burden for 20 words or 140 characters. I can say, “Christ died for our sins and was raised” as a summary of the gospel, or I can write a 10-volume series exploring every nuance of the gospel. Both are true, but one far more completely true. In that way the quotes I share are much like Solomon’s Proverbs—rarely exhaustively true, but always true to at least some degree. This is why Solomon could share contradictory proverbs, because neither one is true all the time and in every situation (see Proverbs 26:4-5). The benefit of a good quote is in pondering it, in considering the extent to which it is true and the situations in which it is true. The joy of a quote is in thinking about it, yet without over-thinking it.
Quotes are like lozenges, great for savoring but terrible for just straight-out swallowing. Learn how to savor good quotes.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Virtuoso Spirituality

"Frances Young uses the extended analogy of music and its performance to provide a way of understanding the interrelated complexities of reading and living the Holy Scriptures, what John experienced as eating the book. Her book Virtuoso Theologysearches out what she names as “the complex challenges involved in seeking authenticity in performance.” It is of the very nature of music that it is to be performed. Can music that is not performed be called “music”? Performance, though, does not consist in accurately reproducing the notes in the score as written by the composer, although it includes this. Everyone recognizes the difference between an accurate but wooden performance of, say, Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 1, and a virtuoso performance by Yitzak Perlman. Perlman’s performance is not distinguished merely by his technical skill in reproducing what Mozart composed; he wondrously enters into and conveys the spirit and energy — the “life” — of the score. Significantly, he adds nothing to the score, neither “jot nor tittle.” Even though he might reasonably claim that, with access to the interrelated psychologies of music and sexuality, he understands Mozart much better than Mozart understood himself, he restrains himself; he does not interpolate.

One of the continuous surprises of musical and dramatic performance is the sense of fresh spontaneity that comes in the performance: faithful attention to the text does not result in slavish effacement of personality; rather, it releases what is inherent in the text itself as the artist performs; “music has to be ‘realized’ through performance and interpretation.”

Likewise Holy Scripture. The two analogies, performing the music and eating the book, work admirably together. The complexity of the performance analogy supplements the earthiness of the eating analogy (and vice versa) in directing the holy community to enter the world of Holy Scripture formationally.

But if we are “unscripted,” Alasdair McIntyre’s word in this context, we spend our lives as anxious stutterers in both our words and actions. But when we do this rightly — performing the score, eating the book, embracing the holy community that internalizes the text — we are released into freedom: “I will run in the way of thy commandments when thou enlargest my understanding” (Ps. 119:32)."

• Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book, p. 76f

HT: Internet Monk

Friday, May 22, 2015

Some Facebook Sins To Avoid

Are you guilty of any of these social media sins? - 5 Things Christians Should Stop Saying On Facebook by J.P. Jones:
Despite the flaws of social media, it can be a powerful force to share God’s amazing love over the long run. Our witness can be deeply powerful when our unbelieving friends see our continued faithfulness year after year and our hope of glory in the midst of pain (Colossians 1:27).
But that doesn’t mean everything we share on Facebook contributes to this witness. In fact, there are some types of updates we Christians share that, for the most part, do more damage than good.
Here are five status update traps to avoid:
1. Pastor So-and-So is a Big Ol’ Heretic
Imagine, if you will, your unbelieving friends tap into their Facebook app, and the first update they see is you complaining (again) about that pastor you love to complain about. You know the one. You mention, for the third time this week, another thing he taught that is heretical, and you make sure everyone knows it.
First of all, we absolutely must call out false teaching. Jesus laid the groundwork for this when He rebuked the Pharisees and scribes for their hypocrisy (Matthew 23). Paul and John weren’t afraid to point out many false teachers in their letters. So, that’s not the issue.
The issue is that your unbelieving friends don’t know all this. What they see, instead, is one Christian attacking another Christian for what seems like a minor matter. Such updates make it look like we spend most of our time beating each other up instead of doing that “love thing” we claim to do. (Think about how Pilate and other Roman officials responded to the complaints the Jews brought against Jesus and Paul. They didn’t see the difference; they just saw what looked like petty jealousy and bickering to them.)
Calling out false teaching is much better done in personal settings with other believers or in a private way with someone who isn’t a believer—and usually when you have time to really explain. The context is very important here. Slapping it all over Facebook makes the church seem hypocritical and hyper-judgmental.
2. Some People Just Don’t Know How Much Pain They Cause
Trust us. We get it. Someone talks about you behind your back or lies to your face. It makes you mad. You want to vent, but you don’t necessarily want to give all the details to everyone. So, up on Facebook goes a passive-aggressive post that you hope the person sees.
Maybe they will, or maybe they won’t. Either way, this isn’t what Jesus meant about us approaching that person privately to discuss the problem (Matthew 18:15–18). More than likely, you’ve made your innocent friends feel like maybe they were the ones who hurt you in some way, but they don’t know how. Now they’re paranoid.
If you need to vent, do it to someone you trust in person so that they can bear your burden (Galatians 6:2). Don’t post that vague status update.
3. Something Terrible Just Happened to So-and-So. Please Pray for the Family.
Requests for prayer can be very tricky matters on Facebook. For one thing, always-on Internet means that we can now get updates in seconds. That adds a new level of responsibility, especially in tragedy.
When something bad happens, we want people to be praying for those involved. That’s a good thing. But if we post an update about it on Facebook as soon as it happens, there’s a very good chance that family members and close friends who haven’t been notified yet could get the news through cold digital bits along with lots of strangers. That makes it even worse—especially if they don’t know all the details. At that point, our prayer request doesn’t bring the comfort we’re supposed to bring (1 Corinthians 1:3–4).
It’s much better for us to hold off on the post until we’re sure everyone knows the news (but see the next point). If you need to get prayer warriors going, text or call them directly.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Silence On Deck!

There is a time to speak.... and a time to be silent. Here are Five Reasons To Be Silent by William Ross
Silence is not highly valued in modern culture. When it comes to communication, it seems that we value quantity above all. And in our digital world it only gets easier to add your own voice to the cacophony. I recently read about a new book that suggests the act of writing is outstripping the act of reading in the digital age.
Whether e-mailing or snapchatting or podcasting or hash-tagging, we live in an age distinguished by noise. Not silence.
Church as Faithful Proclaimer
Of course, speaking is at the center of the Christian vocation as well. There is a range of biblical reasons to speak instead of being silent (e.g. Ps. 32:3; 35:22; 39:2; Jer. 4:19; Mt. 20:31; Lk. 19:40; Acts 18:9). Most importantly, we proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth (Mt. 28:19-20). Paul asks, “How are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Rom. 10:14c).
Yet I want to dwell here on the ways that Scripture counsels God’s people to be silent, and the blessings that come with it.
Five Biblical Reasons to be Silent
1. Obedience

Simply put, you can’t obey if you are not silent to listen. This is true on a physical level, but also a spiritual one. Scripture symbolically links our hearts with what comes out of our mouths (Mt. 12:34;Lk. 6:45). To extend the metaphor, only when we silence our heart are we in a place to hear—to receive God’s instruction—and obey.
Moses highlights this idea in one of his final speeches as he underscores Israel’s call to obey all of the Lord’s commandments (Deut. 27:1-10). That requirement is rooted in their identity as God’s people: no longer slaves, but God’s own inheritance (32:9). Moses puts an exclamation point on his speech with the sharp exhortation: “Be silent and hear, O Israel!” (27:9).
So God’s commandments and our obedience are hinged together by spiritual silence before the King. Conversely, disobedience is the uproar of indwelling sin as our heart denies who we are in Christ. This principle holds in a general way not just for God’s people, but all of his creation, including demons (Mk. 1:25//Lk. 4:35).
​2. Self-Control
The silence linked with obedience also manifests self-control, a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Obedience and self-control are inseparable, but distinct. On the one hand, lack of silence betrays a lack of self-control that otherwise governs faithfulness (Eccl. 5:2-3). Scripture warns that the wordy fool only gets into trouble and displays his or her ignorance (Eccl. 10:12-14; Prov. 12:23). The pragmatic but biblical solution for someone acting like a fool is self-inflicted silence: “Put your hand on your mouth” (Prov. 30:32).
On the other hand, being silent demonstrates our willingness to wait upon and serve others in love (Gen. 24:21; Job 29:21; Eph. 4:29). Silence is also the catalyst for godly self-reflection amid anger (Ps. 4:4). It attests to our resolve to endure difficulties with hope fixed firmly in the Lord (Lam 3:26-29). Silence also governs our ability to evaluate spiritual instruction carefully (1 Cor. 14:29-30), and interact shrewdly with the world without succumbing to its temptations (Ps. 39:1; Prov. 21:23).
3. Wonder
It is possible to worship God in complete silence. One of Scripture’s most beautiful paradoxes is that wordlessness can speak clearly about God’s glory. We honor God when were are in awe of him. We are made in his image and therefore bring him glory in our humble silence, while every other creature is simply mute. Scripture is full of instances of silent awe prompted by wonder before God.
This kind of silence works two ways, both of which can bless God’s people. On the one hand, when Christians come to terms with the depth of sinful grievances committed against a holy God, Paul says that their mouths should rightly “be stopped” (Rom. 3:19). Silence is the only possible response in the face of God’s holiness and the coming judgment (Zeph. 1:7; Zech. 2:12; Mic. 7:16). On the other hand, we ought to be struck silent in light of God’s incredible redemption, worked out in his promised deliverance for his people (Isa. 41:1; cf. Lk. 1:20) and the reconciling work of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:18; 15:12). Silence even in corporate worship, where the church gathers to meet with God, facilitates the reverence that he is rightly due (Hab. 2:20).

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Addition and Subtraction

From "What Does it Mean to Accept Jesus" by Ray Ortlund:
“You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” 1 Thessalonians 1:9
You and I are not integrated, unified, whole persons. Our hearts are multi-divided. There is something like a board room in every heart. Big table. Leather chairs. Coffee. Bottled water. Whiteboard. A committee sits around the table. There is the social self, the private self, the work self, the sexual self, the recreational self, the religious self, the childhood memories self, and many others. The committee is arguing and debating and voting. Constantly agitated and upset. Rarely can they come to a unanimous, wholehearted decision.
We are like that. We tell ourselves it’s because we are so busy, with so many responsibilities. The truth is, we are just indecisive. We are held back by small thoughts of Jesus.
A person in this condition can “accept Jesus” in either of two ways. One way is to invite him onto the committee. Give Jesus a vote too. But then he is just one influence among many. This way of inviting Jesus into one’s life is common here in the Bible Belt. But it isn’t Christianity, as defined by the New Testament. The other way to “accept Jesus” is to say to him, “My life isn’t working. Please come in and fire my committee, every last one of them. I hand myself over to you now. Please run my whole life for me. Show me how that works.” That is not complication; that is salvation.
“Accepting Jesus” is not just adding Jesus. It is also subtracting the idols.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


From @DailyKeller

Tests of Assurance

How Do I Know I'm a Christian by kevin DeYoung-
Whenever counseling Christians looking for assurance of salvation, I take them to 1 John. This brief epistle is full of help for determining whether we are in the faith or not. In particular, there are three signs in 1 John given to us so we can answer the question “Do I have confidence or condemnation?”
The first sign is theological. You should have confidence if you believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God (5:11-13). John doesn’t want people to be doubting. God wants you to have assurance, to know that you have eternal life. And this is the first sign, that you believe in Jesus. You believe he is the Christ or the Messiah (2:22). You believe he is the Son of God (5:10). And you believe that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh (4:2). So if you get your theology wrong about Jesus you will not have eternal life. But one of the signs that should give you confidence before God is that you believe in his only Son Jesus Christ our Lord (4:14-16; 5:1, 5).
The second sign is moral. You should have confidence if you live a righteous life (3:6-9). Those who practice wickedness, who plunge headlong into sin, who not only stumble, but habitually walk in wickedness-should not be confident. This is no different than what Paul tells us in Romans 6 that we are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness and in Galatians 5 that those who walk in the flesh will not inherit the kingdom. This is no different than what Jesus tells us in John 15 that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. So if you live a morally righteous life you should have confidence (3:24). And lest this standard make you despair, keep in mind that part of living a righteous life is refusing to claim that you live without sin and coming to Christ for cleansing when you do sin (1:9-10).
The third sign is social. You should have confidence if you love other Christians (3:14). If you hate like Cain you do not have life. But if your heart and your wallet are open to your brothers and sisters eternal life abides in you. One necessary sign of true spiritual life is that we love one another (4:7-12, 21).
These are John’s three signposts to assure us that we are on the road that leads to eternal life. These are not three things we do to earn salvation, but three indicators that God has indeed saved us. We believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God. We live a righteous life. We are generous toward other Christians. Or we can put it this way: we know we have eternal life if we love Jesus, we love his commands, and we love his people. No one of the three is optional. All must be present in the Christian, and all three are meant to be signs for our assurance (see 2:4, 6; 4:20; 5:2).
John belabors the same points again and again. Do you love God? Do you love his commands? Do you love his people? If you don’t, it’s a sign you have death. If you do, it’s sign that you have life. And that means confidence instead of condemnation.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

That Little Word “Amen”

The very last question in the Heidelberg Catechism - via Andrew Wilson
Q. What does that little word “Amen” express?A. “Amen” means: This shall truly and surely be! It is even more sure that God listens to my prayer than that I really desire what I pray for.
Amen to that! 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Community Over Relavance

What if the things you do to make your church attractive actually obscure the attraction of the gospel?
The attraction of the gospel is what Jesus described in John 13:35: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Not just love in general, but love for one another. That love in the Ephesian church—between Jew and Gentile who shared nothing in common but Christ—is what Paul says makes even the heavens above stare in wonder at the wisdom of God (Eph. 3:10). The gospel brings people with nothing in common (Eph. 2:18) to love each other even more deeply than family (Eph. 2:19).
Here’s an example of that kind of community: a few years ago, a Harvard professor visited my church. He was an expert in crowd psychology. He wasn’t a Christian. The relationships in the church fascinated him. It seemed people had nothing to gain from each other. He didn’t see any plausible explanation for what drew this ungainly group together—until, underneath it all, he discovered the gospel. Today, he is following Christ in our church.
In an attempt to be attractive, however, many of our churches let that vibrant, supernatural attraction of gospel-filled community sit idle in the background while we settle for tepid, naturalistic, similar-to-this-world attraction. To paraphrase those well-known words of C. S. Lewis, we’re making mud pies in the slums instead of delighting in a holiday at the sea.
How do we do that?
1. We divide a church based on similarity.
Sometimes an entire church is geared to a particular demographic, like a hip-hop church or a church for millennials. Sometimes it’s segmentation within the church, like a singles group or small groups for couples with kids, or services for different musical styles. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this “ministry by similarity.” But it comes at significant cost: if ministry by similarity starts to characterize your church, it obscures true gospel unity.
What if the Ephesians had split up into a church for Jews and one for Gentiles? After all, Jewish Ephesians would be more comfortable going to a church of their peers, right? But a gospel unity between natural strangers is profoundly more attractive than the comfort of similarity, be it the natural strangers of Jew and Gentile, Democrat and Republican, millennial and retiree, home-school mom and lawyer mom, or NASCAR fan and opera connoisseur. Have you constructed your church so that this kind of love is on display? Or is it smothered by ministry-by-similarity?
2. We downplay the commitment to each other Jesus expects every Christian to make.
Our churches allow any Christian to feel part of the church community on whatever terms they desire. But Jesus expects every Christian to love other Christians in ways that are quite significant—to sacrifice for each other, to pray for each other, and to hold each other accountable. When we’re not honest about the commitment Jesus expects of every Christian to a local church, we obscure the depth of commitment the gospel creates in a church. Look hard at how your church practices membership: does it clarify that Jesus expects this kind of commitment from all his followers?
3. We make evangelism an individual endeavor instead of a corporate endeavor.
Church community is perhaps the most obviously supernatural evidence for the truth of the gospel (Eph. 3:10). Is it clear in your church who led who to the Lord? Or are there so many people involved in each conversion, it’s impossible to say? If the church is functioning as it should, I hope that your general experience falls into that second category.
How are you trying to make your church attractive? Let’s be like Paul: “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”

Friday, May 15, 2015

The News

HT: Tullian Tchividjian

Reading the Bible to Your Fears

Are you anxious and afraid? Try this - Read the Bible to Your Anxiety by John Piper:
I created three labs teaching through Matthew 6:24–34 on anxiety. My objectives were both to understand how Jesus helps us overcome anxiety, but also to draw out six lessons for how to read the Bible for ourselves. With this short series, I have methodology, theology, and application in mind. Here are the six lessons I highlighted for Bible reading. Click on the links below to find the study guides and videos for all three labs.
Click through to the link to get the study guides

Thursday, May 14, 2015

No More Than...

HT: Paul Trip

Warnings to the Proud

Sobering words from Sam Storms - How Pride Poisons the Soul
The most important thing we need to understand about pride is that God hates it. Lest you think I should soften my language, consider these texts:
There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. (Prov. 6:16-19)
Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished. (Prov. 16:5)
Observe in Proverbs 16:5 that it is not merely arrogance itself that is an abomination to the Lord; the arrogant person is an abomination as well.

If you would take the time to excavate your sin, beneath it all you would discover the rotting bones of pride and arrogance.
Of all that God hates, of all that is an abomination to him, what is first on the list? Haughty eyes, which is to say, prideful, arrogant eyes. Haughty eyes does not refer to how a person’s eyes look to others but how a person views himself and others. He views them as less than himself, as essentially worthless. He is arrogant and puffed up with his own sense of value.
The word hate is an unpleasant one that we typically instruct our children to avoid. It’s vicious, venomous, and destructive. When we experience “hatred” it usually means we loathe certain things, we seek to avoid them, we desire to destroy them, we speak ill of them, and we vote against them. We do everything possible to forget them. Hatred in the heart of God is righteous hatred, pure, unalloyed, unmitigated disgust and revulsion. For something to be an “abomination” to God means that it is a stench in his nostrils. Such is what God feels about pride: he hates it; it is an utter abomination.
Think about James 4:6—“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James doesn’t say that God simply ignores the proud or avoids them or keeps his distance from them. No, he resists them. He works in open opposition to them. He wages war against them and thwarts them. Pride provokes God to wrath and indignation; it irritates him, agitates him, and displeases him beyond words.
Taproot of All Sin

Scripture also teaches that pride is a precursor to all other forms of sin. Pride is the soil in which all manner of sin germinates and grows. Consider Proverbs 16:18-19—“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.” I could mulitiply verses many times that say essentially the same thing about pride. First comes pride, then destruction of the proud person.

Pride is that ugly part of your heart that causes you to be more concerned about yourself and your own reputation than you are about Christ and his.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Look For The Wounds

"If you want to find Jesus, look for the wounds." - Leonard Sweet

HT: Jeff Clarke

Prayer Truths

9 Things You Should Know About Prayer by Joe Carter
Do you know how many prayers 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.
1. 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 3:8-13, Genesis 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 6:10; Luke 22:41; Acts 7:60, 9:40, 20:36, 21:5; Ephesians 3:14), with one's face to the ground (Matthew 26:39;Mark 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.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Guarantee

From Not A Fan

Be Not Afraid

Joshua Chapter 1 has been one of my favorite passages, and a major formation word for my life. Therefore, I really appreciate this word from Darrin Patrick - 4 Ways Courage Grows:
Risk is at the heart of Christianity. Risk is codeword for faith in Scripture. And there's a great definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Faith is risky.
You have to exercise faith to become a Christian. But faith is also the lifestyle of a Christian. Playing it safe will not satisfy us. But we need courage to take risks and face our fear. The good news is that we can grow in courage.
All the great leaders in the Bible have understood this. Few have demonstrated this better than Joshua. Here are four observations from his life on how spiritual courage grows:

1 Find Moses and Serve Moses
Have you seen the Ridley Scott’s Exodus: God and Kings? It's nowhere near as good as the classic Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston. But he does show something of the mentor-mentee relationship between Joshua and Moses. Joshua rarely speaks, but he does watch Moses speak to God. Eventually, Moses calls the curious Joshua to his side.
This is a reminder that Joshua was once a young, inexperienced man. Before God called him to lead his people, he was Moses' assistant (Exodus 33:11). By serving Moses, Joshua has plenty of opportunities to grow in courage.
So who is that mature Christian that you can serve? Who can show you what it means to take risks?
2 Deal with Your Fear of Failure
Can you imagine taking over for Moses? How would you like to be Lebron James’ son trying to make it in the NBA?
God understood that this would be a challenge for Joshua. Listen to what He says, "Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you" (Joshua 1:5).
Recognize it's not about your ability, but your availability. God will give you what you need.
3 Do What You Know
A life of faith is a life of obedience. It is the "ordinary" risks that pave the way for the "extraordinary" ones. Most aspiring leaders are looking for that spectacular vision from God. Whenever they come to me for counsel, I ask them these two questions:
Are you doing anything right now that you know you shouldn’t do? (sin of commission)
Are you not doing something right now that you know God wants you to do? (sin of omission)
It is a risk to obey God in a broken, sinful world. Exercise courage in what God has as said to do or not to do.
4 Soak in the Word
Listen to what God says as he commissions Joshua to lead His people:
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:8)
What does it mean to meditate? It is to think and ask questions about what God has said to hear what God is saying. The Holy Spirit can speak to us in any way He chooses. It just so happens that the vast majority of the time He chooses to use Scripture.
When we encounter temptation or uncertainty, the Spirit calls to mind Scripture. The Spirit speaks to us. He opens our eyes. He shows us the truth.
The more we meditate on God's Word, the more we can hear the Spirit speaking. And the Spirit will not lead us to play it safe. He will invite us into a life of risk. He will give us courage.

Monday, May 11, 2015

With Nuts

Doorways Cut In Sod

I once scorned ev’ry fearful thought of death,
When it was but the end of pulse and breath,
But now my eyes have seen that past the pain
There is a world that’s waiting to be claimed.
Earthmaker, Holy, let me now depart,
For living’s such a temporary art.
And dying is but getting dressed for God,
Our graves are merely doorways cut in sod.

– Calvin Miller, The Divine Symphony (Minneapolis: Bethany, 2000), 139.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

For the Beaten and Abused

To Those Beaten Up by the Church by Rod Rosenbladt at Liberate
Boody, bruised, and burnt out—our friends, family members, and coworkers are walking out of churches, giving up on God’s family, and at the same time giving up on the message that the Church has been entrusted with. This is the same old story that we’ve been hearing Christians sound alarms over for decades. But what do we do? And what words of comfort might we share for the people we love who’ve been victims of an abusive, graceless system?
Rod Rosenbladt described the kind of peoplethat many of us have met (and many of us are recovering from):

"Many of us have met and talked with the sad alumni of Christianity. And many of us have also met and talked with some of the mad alumni of Christianity. The venue may vary, but most of us know or have met men and women who tell us that Christianity was a part of their life in years past, but that they no longer consciously identify with Jesus Christ in His claim to be God and Savior."
How many people are becoming alumni of Christianity because they can never measure up to the demands of Christianity? How often are people walking out on the Church because they aren’t good enough to be a part of one? The problem for those leaving the Church is that when they were beaten up and broken by their sin, many of them weren’t given help; they were kicked while they were down. Instead of the grace that heals the wounds, every ounce of life was taken from them.
C.F.W. Walther, the great Law and Gospel theologian, said, “As soon as the Law has done its crushing work, the Gospel is to be instantly preached or said to such a man or woman.”
A Word for Our Friends Who’ve Been Left to Die, Bloodied and Bruised
Jesus tells a story of a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho who falls into the hands of robbers. Luke records, “They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead” (Luke 10:30). Some robber jumps him as he’s traveling and he’s left in a pool of his own blood, waiting for someone to help.
A priest enters the scene and he walks right by.
A Levite does the same, leaving the bruised and bloodied man to die.
For the bloodied and bruised who’ve given up on the Church; you know what it’s like to be on the side of the road. You’ve felt the pain of watching your religious leaders ignore your pain for the sake of their own holiness. When we’ve been beaten by a legalism that demands perfection and we’ve been bruised by our own failures and inadequacies, the religious leaders have left us for dead on the side of the road.
But in comes a Samaritan.

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said, “and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.” Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ (Luke 10:33-36)
Jesus is the Good Samaritan.
Jesus rescues you from the bloodied mess that you’ve been left in. If you’ve been beaten and bruised by the Law, and religious leaders have left you for dead, know that Jesus cleans up your wounds.
Jesus doesn’t avoid the stench of your near-death, unclean sins that put you on the side of the road. Jesus ignores that you don’t belong in the company of his holiness. Instead, Jesus gets covered in your own blood as He bandages your wounds. The Psalmist (Psalm 147:3) writes that he “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
You may have given up on the Church, but Jesus, and therefore His Church hasn’t given up on you. In the midst of the hurt, pain, and heartache, may you hear from God’s people and therefore from Jesus himself: “Your sins are forgiven.”
A Word to People Just Like Me
I haven’t been beaten up by a Church. I’ve been a part of a Church that preaches God’s two words (Law and Gospel) my entire life. But as a Christian who is trying to figure out how to share these two words with people, the story of the Good Samaritan cuts me to the heart.
Because how often do I miss an opportunity to share grace to somebody broken by their own sin? How often do I miss the opportunity for a simple conversation that might open doors into the hurts, pains, and suffering of a person’s life? How often have we failed to discern whether somebody needed to hear the condemnation of the law or the hope of the Gospel?
How many people have I left for dead because of my own religious agendas?
This story holds up the mirror to my own life and I find myself starting out as the religious leader who ignored the hurting and as the Law does its work, I find myself broken on the side of the road hoping somebody will rescue me because of my own failure to rescue. And in the midst of my own failure, I too am reminded that the one who was beaten, battered, and bruised comes with grace even for people like me.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

5 Questions

From Ann Voskamp - 5 Questions to Ask to Get You Out of Any Hard Time and Change Your Life
....I met a guy last week who told me that he carried around five questions that had ploughed a way through grief, through life for him. He had held up his hand and touched each of his fingers, his thumb: “These Five Questions changed me more than anything anyone ever told me.
And if you don’t make time to work out these answers, don’t be upset if your life doesn’t work.
If you want to make sense of life, you have to make time to ask yourself these.”
Grief and sadness and lostness had made me desperate for a way out — had made me desperate to lean in…
What is my greatest fear?
What is my greatest motivator?
What is Truth?
Who is God?
What is Success?
Unless you ask yourself the right questions, your life will never live into the right answers.
Read it all at the link.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


From Mike Patz via @darrinpatrick


"Accept your loneliness. It is one stage, and only one stage, on a journey that brings you to God. It will not always last. Offer up your loneliness to God, as the little boy offered to Jesus his five loaves and two fishes. God can transform it for the good of others. Above all, do something for somebody else!" 

            - Elisabeth Elliot

Monday, May 4, 2015


From Not A Fan

When A Body Becomes A Business

A number of years ago, I had the privilege of teaching at a school of ministry. My students were hungry for God, and I was constantly searching for ways to challenge them to fall more in love with Jesus and to become voices for revival in the Church. I came across a quote attributed most often to Rev. Sam Pascoe. It is a short version of the history of Christianity, and it goes like this: Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise.
Some of the students were only 18 or 19 years old—barely out of diapers—and I wanted them to understand and appreciate the import of the last line, so I clarified it by adding, "An enterprise. That's a business." After a few moments Martha, the youngest student in the class, raised her hand. I could not imagine what her question might be. I thought the little vignette was self-explanatory, and that I had performed it brilliantly. Nevertheless, I acknowledged Martha's raised hand, "Yes, Martha." She asked such a simple question, "A business? But isn't it supposed to be a body?" I could not envision where this line of questioning was going, and the only response I could think of was, "Yes." She continued, "But when a body becomes a business, isn't that a prostitute?"
The room went dead silent. For several seconds no one moved or spoke. We were stunned, afraid to make a sound because the presence of God had flooded into the room, and we knew we were on holy ground. All I could think in those sacred moments was, "Wow, I wish I'd thought of that." I didn't dare express that thought aloud. God had taken over the class.
Martha's question changed my life. For six months, I thought about her question at least once every day. "When a body becomes a business, isn't that a prostitute?" There is only one answer to her question. The answer is "Yes." The American Church, tragically, is heavily populated by people who do not love God. How can we love Him? We don't even know Him; and I mean really know Him....
Good question! read the rest at the link.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Primary Identity

"What would it mean, I ask myself, if I too came to the place where I saw my primary identity in life as 'the one Jesus loves'? How differently would I view myself at the end of the day?"

                 - Philip Yancey

Friday, May 1, 2015


'Sometimes I think that all religious sites should be posted with signs reading, "Beware the God.' The places and occasions that people gather to attend to God are dangerous. They're glorious places and occasions, true, but they're also dangerous. Danger signs should be conspicuously placed, as they are at nuclear power stations. Religion is the death of some people." 

            - Eugene Peterson