Monday, February 26, 2007

Glory begun, grace perfected

"Grace is but glory begun, and glory is but grace perfected." - Jonathan Edwards

2 Cor 3: 12 "Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."
Christ is all-glorious!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Irresistable Grace

God's irresistible grace is awesome to reflect upon, specifically God's effectual calling.

We have both an outward call of God and an inward call of God.
R.C. Sproul writes:
"The outward call of God comes from the preaching of His word. Many share the gospel with others, but not all who hear the message receive it. The outward call of God can be resisted. In fact, apart from God's working in us, we will resist this call (ie total depravity).

"The inward call of God is His secret work of regeneration (rebirth, a new beginning, spiritual resurrection) done in the souls of the elect by the work of the Holy Spirit. This work of the Holy Spirit changes us. God places within us a desire for Him. Before the inward call of God, no person is inclined to come to Him. After the inward call, we respond to God with the gift of faith. The inward call of God cannot be resisted."

Ezekiel 36:26-27 "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within
you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of
flesh. 'I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes,
and you will keep My judgments and do them.'" (NKJ)

II Thessalonians 2:13-14 "But we are bound to give thanks to God always
for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you
for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to
which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord
Jesus Christ." (NKJ)


"God's grace prevails over our natural resistance for those whom he has chosen." - R.C. Sproul

Praise God

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Volleyball, killing sin, and playing well

I thought, “Bring it on!” after digging the ball that had so furiously been spiked by the opposing volleyball team’s front line. The 60 or 70 (or whatever) mile-per-hour ‘kill’ was softly lofted high into the air, perfectly placed for my teammate to initiate our team’s response. As the opposing team’s hits got harder and more difficult, did I feel sorry for myself? No way! Did I have a pity party – “oh why is he hitting it at me?” Not at all, in fact, with much enthusiasm, I hoped that I’d get another chance at the next one. The more blows, the more opportunities. Set a new goal, look for a better tactic, or help the team get better.

Fast forward to the day at work… as a co-worker wrongs me grievously; I’m evicted from my cushy office to a makeshift shack outdoors (really); funding for our programs gets cut; I get word that some of us might be going to play in the sandbox; more work and longer hours are required beyond what seems fair… Oh, where is that spirit of “bring it on!” now? Crushed by living life in the flesh, Paul would say in Romans 8:13.

Even in my work situations, to whine, complain, pout, or wallow are to reject God’s sovereignty and His law. “The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so.”

Recognizing this contradiction, while playing volleyball last night, also reminds me of the warfare aspect of living by the Spirit, in submission to God’s word. “Be killing sin or it will be killing you,” says John Owen in his book ‘The Mortification of Sin’. John Piper has said about killing sin that:
“It's a violence against all the impulses in us that would be violent to other
people. It's a violence against all the impulses in our own selves that would
make peace with our own sin and settle in with a peacetime mentality. It's a
violence against all lust in ourselves, and enslaving desires.”
In volleyball, we defend against the attacks of the opposition, and as a team, we work together to do our own “killing” of the ball, so to speak, as we strike to overcome our opposition. In the battle against sin (our true enemy!), the war is not fought with flesh and blood, but by the “sword of the Spirit, the word of God” and “prayer.” (Ephesians 6:17, 20)

So, last night we only won half of our games. Other nights we have gone 3-0 and 5-1, etc. Yet, I would say last night we were more victorious. We encouraged each other and never gave up, even when we were down by 12 points once (other nights you could just feel the discouragement when the points started sliding). No one argued with the referee about his judgments, and we laughed at our silliest mistakes instead of pouting. Everyone pressed on in the cause which was not as much about beating the other team, as it was to play well and enjoy each other. And I do believe God was glorified.

(Where am I in this metaphor? Perhaps sitting on the bench watching the show? Or keeping score? Or am I killing sin and helping out my sisters and brothers in Christ to kill sin?)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Falling in Love with the Church

Falling in Love with the Church
By: Dr. Ligon Duncan 12/8/2006
Great message!
In this message from the 2005 PCA Women in the Church Leadership Training Conference, Dr. Duncan lays the ecclesiological foundation for women's ministry in the church. We see a pattern of how to live and minister in the church. God's love for us enables us to love and serve His church as He calls us to do.

http://resources.christianity.com/details/ace/20061208/92016b16-58e8-41a2-b235-b92e79d03773.aspx

Save on PCRT 06 Conference Recordings

The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals is offering MP3 Downloads from PCRT's 2006 Conference on the Doctrines of Grace at about half the cost of the CD set. Individual messages are available as well for $3.51 ea. I'd highly recommend these messages to anyone interested in digging deeper into timeless biblical truths or anyone just interested in growing in their knowledge, belief, and love of God. I've heard all but the pre-conference (City on a Hill) recordings, which I plan to download tonight.

Friday, February 16, 2007

'Single'-minded, Godly resources

I had the awesome privilege to run into a friend today who I haven't seen for like 9 years - when I used to attend the famous, Delaware FISH Bible Study! She and I are Christians, the same age and still single. So I figured I'd post a couple of encouraging articles in case anyone else is interested:

Singled out for good by Paige Benton Brown
cool quote:
"Let's face it: singleness is not an inherently inferior state of affairs. If it were, heaven would be inferior to this world for the majority of Christians."

We're Not on Hold: Biblical Femininity for Single Women by Carolyn McCulley - audio recording from the 2004 Desiring God National Conference.

For Single Men and Women (and the rest of us) by John Piper

Do you have any?

Hilarious quote of the week

Does anyone else think this is hilarious or is it just me?
“-- Sorry to break the news, but evolution has passed every test required of a scientific theory. It offers a mechanism, makes predictions… and explains in an elegant way the relationships between creatures living and dead. Calling it a religion is, I'm sad to say, just plain ignorant.”
brought to you by TIME senior writer Michael D. Lemonick, defending Darwinism on his blog. (HT: The Dawn Treader)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Spiritual Blessings in Christ

Spiritual Blessings in Christ
Ephesians 1:3 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Searching for the city or the landlord?

While reading today's Slice devotional titled The Destination, I found a particularly revelatory and important point that the author brings out with regard to living with an eternal perspective:
"In the classic telling of A Pilgrim's Regress, C.S. Lewis describes an intense longing for the enchanting island, the celestial city of ultimate beauty. Yet in his search he comes to a point at which he realizes that it is not the island in all its splendor for which he is faithfully yearning. Finding this, he wants more. He longs not for the island itself, but for its creator. He then concludes with some sense of shock: 'I set out to find an Island and I have found a Landlord instead.'"

Profound. And true. Yes, the city of God, the new Jerusalem, and Heaven will be free of sin, strife, disease, and suffering.. all the vexing elements of life as we know it. But this is not ultimately what I as a Christian long for. It is being forever in the presence of the love of our Lord, worshipping Him. That is the longing. Amen?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Let it snow

Psalm 51:7 b "Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow."


1 Cor 6:11 "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."


Monday, February 12, 2007

Baby steps...

Gal 5:6 "but faith working through love..." So, what evidence of faith are expressed in my life? Truly, there is so much more than I could conjur up in my strength. Compassion, hospitality, giving toward those who perhaps lack in some way by which I might fill the gap. Serving those in my care and those to whom I am accountable. Submitting to those in authority. Yes, there are evidences. Yet, I am all too aware that I continually fall short of Christ's example and the many fruits that we are called to live out. What is awesome is that if I confess and ask Him for the strength and willingness to obey, and take that first step of faith, He is so faithful and blesses it.

Earlier, I came across an article that struck me as incredibly practical as well as relevant and timely. It's called The Single Woman's Home: A Mission Field. In a way, it's like stumbling onto a whole new realm of understanding. Typically, I shutdown when people make 'women should stay home and cook' the thesis of their rhetoric. But this article is not like that. I want to be like this and it is thoroughly biblical, practical, and edifying in so many ways. I'm going to start with a new label - "Home" - and go from there. Baby steps...

Calvin & WCF on justification + multimedia

Calvin and justification (source: monergism.com)

John Calvin (1509-64). To be justified in the sight of God, to be Justified by faith or by works. A man is said to be justified in the sight of God when in the judgment of God he is deemed righteous, and is accepted on account of his righteousness...Thus we simply interpret justification, as the acceptance with which God receives us into his favor as if we were righteous; and we say that this justification consists in the forgiveness of sins and the imputation of the righteousness of Christ (Institutes, 3.11.2).

John Calvin. To justify therefore, is nothing else than to acquit from the charge of guilt, as if innocence were proved. Hence, when God justifies us through the intercession of Christ, he does not acquit us on a proof of our own innocence, but by an imputation of righteousness, so that though not righteous in ourselves, we are deemed righteous in Christ (Institutes, 3.11.3).

John Calvin. That Christ, by his obedience, truly purchased and merited grace for us with the Father, is accurately inferred from several passages of Scripture. I take it for granted, that if Christ satisfied for our sins, if he paid the penalty due by us, if he appeased God by his obedience; in fine, if he suffered the just for the unjust, salvation was obtained for us by his righteousness; which is just equivalent to meriting. Now, Paul's testimony is, that we were reconciled, and received reconciliation through his death, (Rom. 5: 11.) But there is no room for reconciliation unless where offense has preceded. The meaning, therefore, is, that God, to whom we were hateful through sin, was appeased by the death of his Son, and made propitious to us. And the antithesis which immediately follows is carefully to be observed, "As by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous," (Rom. 5: 19.) For the meaning is - As by the sin of Adam we were alienated from God and doomed to destruction, so by the obedience of Christ we are restored to his favour as if we were righteous. The future tense of the verb does not exclude present righteousness, as is apparent from the context. For he had previously said, "the free gift is of many offenses unto justification." (Institutes, 2.17.3)

John Calvin. The Sophists, who make game and sport in their corrupting of Scripture and their empty caviling, think they have a sublte evasion...For, according to them, man is justified by both faith and works. (Institutes 3.11.14).

John Calvin. The verbal question is, What is justification? They [the Council of Trent, Session Six] deny that it is merely the forgiveness of sins, and insist that it includes both renovation and sanctification. Paul's words are, "David describeth the blessedness of the man to whom God imputeth righteousness by not imputing sin; and the same Apostle, without appealing to the testimony of another, elsewhere says, "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself,not imputing unto men their trespasses." Immediately after he adds, "He made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be the righteousness of God in him." (2 Cor 5.19.) Can anything be clearer than that we are regarded as righteous in the sight of God, because our sins have been expiated by Christ, and no longer us under liability.

John Calvin. ...What! can the justification of the publican have any other meaning (Luke 17) than the imputation of righteousness, when he was freely accepted of God. And since the dispute is concerning the propriety of a word, when Christ is declared by Paul to be our righteousness and sanctification, a distinction is certainly drawn between these two things, though the Fathers of Trent confound them.

John Calvin. ...I would be unwilling to dispute about a word, did not the whole case depend upon it. But when they say that a man is justified, when he is again formed for the obedience of God, they subvert the whole argument of Paul, "If righteousness is by the law, faith is nullified, and the promise abolished (Rom 4.14). For he means, that not an individual among mankind will be found in whom the promise of salvation may be accomplished, if it involves the condition of innocence; and that faith, if it is propped up by works will instantly fall. This is true; because, so long as we look at what we are in ourselves, we must tremble in the sight of God, so far from having a firm and unshaken confidence of eternal life.

John Calvin. ...while I shall admit that we are never received into the favor of God without being at the same time regenerated to holiness of life, contend that it is false to say that any part of righteousness (justification) consists in any quality, or in the habit which resides in us....
John Calvin. ...It is just as if they [Trent] were to say, that forgiveness of sins cannot be dissevered from repentance, and therefore repentance is a part of it. The only point in dispute is, how we are deemed righteous in the sight of God, and where our faith, by which alone we obtain righteousness, ought to seek it.

John Calvin. When you are engaged in discussing the question of justification, beware of allowing any mention to be made of love or of works, but resolutely adhere to the exclusive particle.(Commentary on Galatians 5.6, 1548).

John Calvin. Being justified freely, etc. A participle is here put for a verb according to the usage of the Greek language. The meaning is, — that since there remains nothing for men, as to themselves, but to perish, being smitten by the just judgment of God, they are to be justified freely through his mercy; for Christ comes to the aid of this misery, and communicates himself to believers, so that they find in him alone all those things in which they are wanting. There is, perhaps, no passage in the whole Scripture which illustrates in a more striking manner the efficacy of his righteousness; for it shows that God’s mercy is the efficient cause, that Christ with his blood is the meritorious cause, that the formal or the instrumental cause is faith in the word, and that moreover, the final cause is the glory of the divine justice and goodness. With regard to the efficient cause, he says, that we are justified freely, and further, by his grace; and he thus repeats the word to show that the whole is from God, and nothing from us. It might have been enough to oppose grace to merits; but lest we should imagine a half kind of grace, he affirms more strongly what he means by a repetition, and claims for God’s mercy alone the whole glory of our righteousness, which the sophists divide into parts and mutilate, that they may not be constrained to confess their own poverty. — Through the redemption, etc. This is the material,–Christ by his obedience satisfied the Father’s justice, (judicium — judgment,) and by undertaking our cause he liberated us from the tyranny of death, by which we were held captive; as on account of the sacrifice which he offered is our guilt removed. Here again is fully confuted the gloss of those who make righteousness a quality; for if we are counted righteous before God, because we are redeemed by a price, we certainly derive from another what is not in us. And Paul immediately explains more clearly what this redemption is, and what is its object, which is to reconcile us to God; for he calls Christ a propitiation, (or, if we prefer an allusion to an ancient type,) a propitiatory. But what he means is, that we are not otherwise just than through Christ propitiating the Father for us (Commentary on Romans 3.24; Strasbourg, 1539).

John Calvin. Here it is proper to remember the relation which we previously established between faith and the Gospel; faith being said to justify because it receives and embraces the righteousness offered in the Gospel. By the very fact of its being said to be offered by the Gospel, all consideration of works is excluded. This Paul repeatedly declares, and in two passages, in particular, most clearly demonstrates. In the Epistle to the Romans, comparing the Law and the Gospel, he says, "Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the Law, That the man which does those things shall live by them. But the "righteousness that is of faith" [Rom 10.6] announces salvation....Do you see how he makes the distinction between the Law and the Gospel to be, that the former gives justification to works, whereas the latter bestows it freely without any help from works? This is a notable passage, and may free us from many difficulties if we understand that the justification which is given us by the Gospel is free from any terms of Law. Here is the reason why he so often opposes the promises to the Law, as things mutually contradictory: "If the inheritance is by the Law, it is no longer by promise." [Gal 3.18]. …Undoubtedly the Law also has its promises; and, therefore, between them and the Gospel promises there must be some distinction and difference, unless we are to hold that the comparison is inept. And in what can the difference consist unless in this that the promises of the Gospel are gratuitous, and founded on the mere mercy of God, whereas the promises of the Law depend on the condition of works? (Institutes, 3.11.17)

John Calvin. We, indeed, acknowledge with Paul, that the only faith which justifies is that which works by love, (Galatians 5:6) but love does not give it its justifying power. Nay, its only means of justifying consists in its bringing us into communication with the righteousness of Christ (Institutes, 3.11.20).

John Calvin. We dream not of a faith which is devoid of good works, nor of a justification which can exist without them: the only difference is, that while we acknowledge that faith and works are necessarily connected, we, however, place justification in faith, not in works. How this is done is easily explained, if we turn to Christ only, to whom our faith is directed and from whom it derives all its power. Why, then, are we justified by faith? Because by faith we apprehend the righteousness of Christ, which alone reconciles us to God. This faith, however, you cannot apprehend without at the same time apprehending sanctification; for Christ “is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption,” (1 Corinthians 1:30.) Christ, therefore, justifies no man without also sanctifying him. These blessings are conjoined by a perpetual and inseparable tie. Those whom he enlightens by his wisdom he redeems; whom he redeems he justifies; whom he justifies he sanctifies (Institutes, 3.16.1).

WCF
Westminster Larger Catechism. Q. 70. What is justification? A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace unto sinners, in which he pardoneth all their sins, accepteth and accounteth their persons righteous in his sight; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but only for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed to them, and received by faith alone.

Westminster Larger Catechism. Q. 71. How is justification an act of God’s free grace? A. Although Christ, by his obedience and death, did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice in the behalf of them that are justified; yet in as much as God accepteth the satisfaction from a surety, which he might have demanded of them, and did provide this surety, his own only Son, imputing his righteousness to them, and requiring nothing of them for their justification but faith, which also is his gift, their justification is to them of free grace.
Westminster Larger Catechism. Q. 72. What is justifying faith? A. Justifying faith is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and Word of God, whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition, not only assenteth to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receiveth and resteth upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation.
Westminster Larger Catechism. Q. 73. How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God? A. Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it, nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification; but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness.

Multimedia:
Justification & Christian Freedom lecture by Dr. David Calhoun Covenant Seminary
On Calvin's View of Justification in the Institutes Dr. David Calhoun Free MP3
Salvation: Justification lecture by Dr. Robert Peterson Covenant Seminary Free MP3
The Man Went Down to His House Justified Luke 18:9-14 by John Piper MP3 New! Understanding Imputation MP3 by Michael Horton & Kim Riddlebarger
The Doctrine of Justification RUF 2006 Summer Conference 10 MP3 Messages
Of Justification (MP3), by Gordon H. Clark
Justification and the Meaning of Imputed Righteousness by Rev. H. Dennis Leaman
Riches of Divine Grace: Justification MP3, by S. Lewis Johnson
The Principle of Imputation by Phil Johnson MP3
The Great Apostolic Anathema (Galatians 1:1-10) by Phil Johnson (MP3)
Alien Righteousness (Phil 3:9) by Phil Johnson (MP3)
The Righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21) MP3
The Doctrine of Justification by The Theology Program 4 MP3 Downloads
The Active and Passive Obedience of Christ by Curt Daniel
Justification Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV , Part V by Al Martin

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Tonight's study

teaching outline from this evening:

Seeking God's City -- Abraham and Sarah's example
Faith Principle: Biblical faith sets us free to seek the city of God.

Our roots
God's redemptive plan - His covenant
Gen. 12:1-3
1 The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and
your father's household and go to the land I will show you.
2 "I will
make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name
great, and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless
you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be
blessed through you."
Gal. 3:29 "If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs
according to the promise."

Abraham was a pagan when God called him to be the father of many nations.
And we are God's children, children of the covenant -- just like Abraham -- regardless of our earthly heritage ...

Now what does that mean?

Being unshackled from our love affair with this world
is realizing, believing and trusting in God's love affair with us!

Abraham and Sarah (just like all of us) learn the hard way. Sometimes we learn through disobedience, because of our lack of trust in God.

Abraham's descent into Egypt against God's will. Taking his family and belongings into the land that God was leading him to, even though he was told not to. (Read Gen. 12:1-10)
Why did Abraham disobey? Trying to help God? Taking matters into his own hands (not trusting that God was good enough, great enough to meet his needs?

Abraham's lies upon lies to try to 'help' God and to save his own skin, meanwhile risking Sarah's safety. (Read Gen. 12:11-20)
Why does Abraham lie? Protecting his own skin? Not trusting God's promises?

The "Rollercoaster faith" of the Abraham, Sarah, Hagar triangle. (Read Gen. 16 and Gal 4:21-31) How does seeing God make good out of repeated disobedience affect you? Does it lead us to repeated sin, presumption of God's grace to forgive and overrule the outcome of our sin? Or does it cause us to worship Him because of His greatness and our unworthiness?

We need to remember that God's love is FOR us! And that He made the covenant with Abraham and with us. He is the covenant fulfiller, not us. We could never, ever keep it. But he does, perfectly. He alone is worthy. Does that cause us to worship Him rather than the gods of this world?
Heb 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what
you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never
will I forsake you
."


Maturing in faith
Finally, because of God's grace, His patience, His lovingkindness through all of the above(!) to Abraham and Sarah (over those many years of their lacking faith), Abraham's faith, when put to the most severe test of all, was proved geniune.
Heb 11: 17 "By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a
sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and
only son, 18 even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your
offspring will be reckoned."19 Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead,
and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death."


Our living hope
And we do have One, the One given to suffer the most cruel death on the cross to die for our sin and to be raised again to life, to the right hand of the Most High God in Heaven. He is our living hope of eternal life in the new Jerusalem - the "better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called (our) God, for he has prepared a city for (us)." Heb 11:16

All of trials, tests, and circumstance of life in this world work together to prove our faith geniune, to us and to unbelievers.

1 Pet. 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In
his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can
never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are
shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be
revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a
little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These
have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even
though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and
honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love
him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled
with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your
faith, the salvation of your souls."


Praise God for his neverending love for us.

For prayer and application:
So, what is the one thing or the one situation that I know God promises, but which I must surrender to Him completely, place it on the altar and trust Him to give it life? What plan or job or relationship or ministry or whatever... do I need to turn over to His divine purposes and trust Him with the outcome?

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Woulda Shoulda Coulda

Deep inside I'm continually bothered by a gnawing sense that somehow I'm not a real disciple of Christ. I mean, yeah, sure, I'm a believer. I believe in Him and about Him and His Word. But when it comes to truly 'following' Him, I see myself as still being about 179 degrees in the wrong direction most of the time. Steve Smallman (Sonship) is preaching to our church for the next three weeks about discipleship and he's talking about this very subject. So, I'm looking forward to be built up while he illuminates this particular area to us.

Back to the idea that I'm 179 degrees in the wrong direction. Conviction of sin is good, wonderful, leading to repentence, faith, and holiness. But that's not what I mean. It's like every single thing about me seems like it falls so short of ... whatever it is that Jesus has called me to. My job. My relationships. My involvement in ministry. My family. My prayer life. Really. I have described my life as the result of the consequences of past sin and terrible choices. Woulda, shoulda, coulda... If only I was more holy, my life would be totally different. In one sense, I believe this comes from a lack of contentment and in another sense, it is a lack of trust in the sovereignty of God (Then I think, maybe I'm really not reformed afterall ! :).

Last week, my RZIM devotional was perfectly appropriate to this who concept of woulda, shoulda, coulda. Here is a link to the devotional: "If Only" One of my mentors, who has been a very strong advocate for me to be more involved with some of our ministries, took a step back with me recently, bringing my attention to the fact that I should serve where I am - that I should be content and seek to serve right where I am and leave to future to God. This is really great and takes a real load off for me.

Instead of constantly questioning what should I REALLY being doing (seminary, missions, outreach, on and on), she brought my focus back much more to reality. Instead of coveting - which the American Heritage Dictionary defines as "a blameworthy desire for that which is another's" - I'm developing a desire to be content with the specific opportunities in front of me and the circumstances in which the Lord has placed me.

More to come... Enjoy the Superbowl!

Quotes from 'A Calvinist faces death' by Time

Intro excerpts -
.."Calvinism, the faith of the Puritans, has made a modest comeback among
younger Evangelical Christians. One of the movement's potent mentors is Albert
Mohler, the influential, telegenic head of the Southern Baptist Theological
Seminary....

Mohler, a Calvinist, went into the hospital in December for a fairly
routine stomach operation and suddenly developed pulmonary embolisms, a
frequently fatal form of clotting, in both lungs. After emergency surgery and
four days in the Intensive Care unit, he made a complete recovery. "


Time Magazine interviewed him for this week's pub about his crisis and whether it had illuminated his brand of faith.

Just a few quotes to pique interest:

"everyone is a Calvinist in praying before surgery."

"In this sort of crisis we all want God to be sovereign, all powerful — to be able to intervene decisively, to rule over every atom and molecule of the universe"

"Some non-Calvinists might say, I'm glad he survived, but I'm so sorry this accident happened to him. A Calvinist would say "God had something for him to learn through this that will be important for his formation for eternity."
(interviewer:And you've learned...)

"A lot of things. I've blogged about it..."

Link to the article (you might need a subscription to read the whole article. I get free access as a grad student at FDU) Link to his blog.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Superbowl comment - My (football) hero

About half of my friends are cheering for Da Bears. The other half are for Indy. The one married couple I'm friends with is divided. He's from Indy, she's from Chicago (Wheeling).

I grew up with the Baltimore Colts. My hero - the guy I was just absolutely in love with - is Bert Jones!

Check out some of his stats:

NFL Most Valuable Player1976 season! Preceded by Fran Tarkenton and succeeded byWalter Payton


"The 1976 regular season was his finest as a professional as he threw for 3,104 yards and a career high 24 touchdowns compiling an astronomical passer rating of 102.5. Jones was one of only three quarterbacks to achieve a 100+ passer rating during the entire decade of the 1970s, joining Dallas' Roger Staubach (1971) and Oakland's Ken Stabler (1976). Jones was thus honored by the Associated Press as 1976's NFL Most Valuable Player and NFL Offensive Player of the Year, selected All-Pro and named to the Pro Bowl team. Jones was also selected 2nd Team All-Pro following the 1977 season." (source: wikipedia)

(As an aside, I actually got to meet him when I worked at the goretex company - he was one of our company's product spokesmen, I think with Cabela's catalog)

My dad and I used to go to Baltimore and watch them play - once against Pittsburg and once against the Jets (when Joe Namath was QB).
Anyhoo... when they moved to Indy, it didn't really bother me so much. I just became a Philadelphia Eagles groupie after that. So, nowadays, while the 'former' Colts' fans are bemoaning their new teams' loss (the Ravens) last month to Indy in Baltimore Stadium, I, on the otherhand, have been recharged with some of my fondest childhood memories.

I would love it for Peyton Manning, if the Colts were to win.
But if not, I can be just as happy for a few of my Chicago friends too -- (Jenny H, Michael M, Kim C.) Alrighty... now back to my homework.

The Jesus Manifesto

Stumbled onto this blogsite today. Very challenging and missional.
Truly what I'd like to strive to be more like (though I'm about 179 degrees from it now...)
http://mission.squarespace.com/-journal/2007/1/7/the-following-jesus-manifesto.html

Friday, February 2, 2007

Anger cont'd: God's wrath or our wrath?

Thought I'd share some more insights on anger from the articles I've been reading ...

Both God and the devil are always angry. On whose side is my anger?
In other words, do I get angry about the right things? Or is my anger based on my own set of expectations and my own laws? Anger always reflects our true moral standards, our definitions of good and evil - right and wrong. Anger is not a neutral emotion. It is either godly or sinful -- and based on James 1:20 "man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."

I can't help but think of Jonah Ch. 4. Jonah perceived something as wrong, which was good. When he saw that God had saved and spared Nineveh, he took it upon himself to actually judge God. He saw God's forgiveness and mercy toward Nineveh as unfair and unjust. Yet, Jonah himself - the ambassador and steward of God's word - who also had just been the recipient of God's mercy, had so quickly forgotten how much more he deserved God's wrath. As soon as Nineveh received the warning of the coming judgment, they repented and believed. Jonah (just like most of us, I'm sure) required appointed tempests, fish, and scrubs to remotely trust God. How much more am I like Jonah? And how much more deserving of His wrath, surely.

As God's people though, isn't it amazing and wonderful how much His anger is FOR us? The Holy Spirit, representing anger as a burning fire that convicts us and makes us new, in God's image. With His anger working FOR us, we cooperate and obey Him. His anger, all for His glory - and our joy! God's wrath becomes our hope. What a mystery! Ultimately, writes Powlison, "we can't understand His love, if we don't understand His wrath."

More notes -- sinful or righteous anger?
"A man of great anger shall bear the penalty, for if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again." -- Prov. 19:19.

By nature, asserts Powlison, "we are all 'warmakers.'" But God's Word says, "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God."
There is an interpersonal nature to all of this. In other words, he says, how we treat others directly equates to how we are treating God.

What sinful anger looks like: a tantrum, resentment, bitterness, hatred. We use anger to get what we want and our 'wants' or desires begin to rule us. Anger has been learned and needs to be unlearned. "Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man or associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared." Prov. 22:24-25.


Alternatives to sinful anger:
  • James 1:19 "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."
Trust.
Forgiveness.
Patience.
Contentment.
Godly confrontation.
Peacemaking.
Self-control.
Self-knowledge/self-confrontation.

Finally, to consider - (memorize!)
Titus 3:3 "At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying."