Thursday, September 30, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
A few posts back I told you about how I was re-baptized, and how the driving force behind wanting to do this was really a difference between proclaiming Jesus as my Lord and merely claiming Him as Savior. I think it's a vitally important distinction, and one we often overlook. There is a tendency to be all about being "saved," with much less emphasis on being transformed. But if we look at the Bible we find a unified message of salvation and sanctification. They are inseparable, and efforts to untie them reveal a misunderstanding of Jesus and what He came to do.
A person is not saved by making a simple "confession" of faith in Jesus when there is no change affected in the confessor. Real belief will produce real change. If there’s no change, there’s no belief. (See James 2:14-26)
So what evidences change? Does going to church? Being involved in Christian community? Volunteering? Tithing? Singing in the choir? Saying the right things? These things may give us some insight into the heart of another person, or they might not. Regardless, it’s not for us to judge. After all, we have no way of knowing someone’s natural state. An outwardly prickly person may have come a long way, and the seemingly kind may have made zero progress. But what we do need to do is to see evidence of change in our own lives. We have a desperate need to be honest with ourselves. And none of the above criteria are as revealing as simply looking at obedience.
Are you obeying God’s Word? Are you living your life in accordance with His law? You can flip through the Ten Commandments and read through Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels. Take a critical look at your life. Are you willing to suffer financial loss for the sake of honesty? Do you take your commitments seriously? Do you covet? Do you put God first? Are there idols in your life? (Read Counterfeit Gods if you are inclined to think there aren’t). Are you careful to observe boundaries to protect your marriage?
George MacDonald said, "Obedience is the key to every door." I've been reflecting on this quote for almost a month and I'm more and more inclined to agree. But I know for certain that obedience is indeed the key to the door of faith. Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship lays this out so well -- belief and obedience are like two points on a circle, and they reinforce each other. The more you believe the more you are able to obey, but interestingly, the more you obey the more you are able to believe. Obeying isn't just the right thing to do, it strengthens your faith.
So may we take the call to obey God's Word seriously, may we examine our lives for evidence that the Holy Spirit is working to sanctify us, and may we continue to make Jesus Lord over all!
As the apostle John said, "We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands." 1 John 2:3 (NIV). With that in mind, may we all know Him better.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
- In the Christian walk, God requires us to answer two primary questions: (1) How much do you love me? and (2) How much do you trust me? (Erwin Lutzer)
- Faith for the future is based on God's grace in the past. (Erwin Lutzer) This means we need to be reflective and intentional enough to acknowledge and remember God's gracious provision.
- Faith never judges God by circumstances. (Erwin Lutzer). In my opinion, there's a growing problem among Christians that overemphasizes circumstances, which is contrary to the message of the Bible. Faith should never be determined by circumstances, nor should ethics.
- Sufficient grace comes with sufficient faith. (Erwin Lutzer). 2 Corinthians 12:9
- All truth is narrow; God's grace is broad. (Ray Pritchard)
- Pray for tenacious, winsome courage. (Ray Pritchard)
- Love people where you find them, just like Jesus did. (Ray Pritchard)
- Everything we do is tainted, yet twenty-four hours a day Jesus provides the righteousness God demands. (Erwin Lutzer)
- Abraham was, of course, a man of great faith. He believed God in three specific areas: (1) he believed in the future and not just the present, trusting God's guidance without demanding to know the plan or destination; (2) he believed in the invisible not just the visible; and (3) He believed in promises, not explanations. (Erwin Lutzer)
- Faith always leads to ultimate victory, but we don't necessarily see it now. (Erwin Lutzer)
Sunday, August 22, 2010
When I was about five or six years old, I prayed with my mom to accept Jesus as my Savior. Oh the sweet relief I felt to know that I would go to heaven when I died. My faith was simple and pure, and I am thankful that God heard my prayer. Yet I did precious little to grow my faith, praying now and then, reading a devotional here and there, and on rare occasions cracking open His Word. Far from being a devoted follower of Christ, I marched through the next couple decades, with eternal security in hand, living life my own way.
Monday, August 2, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
- Show brotherly love.
- Be hospitable to strangers. You may even unknowingly entertain angels.
- Remember those in prison as though in prison with them.
- Remember those who are mistreated, since you have a body and can appreciate how demeaning it must be.
- Hold marriage in high esteem.
- Watch out for greed. Instead be content with what you have.
- Model your lives after strong disciples of Christ.
- Don't be led away by "diverse and strange teachings." Instead be strengthened by grace.
- Offer up a continual sacrifice of praise -- "that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name."
- Share what you have and do not neglect to do good.
- Wellspring International The humanitarian arm of RZIM.
- CouchSurfing This is not something I've actually done, but my friend, Michelle, has. She exemplifies this command and I admire her greatly for it. Plus, she has made some wonderful friends through Couch Surfing, modeled hospitality for her children like no one else, and gained some utterly fantastic stories as well.
- Prison Fellowship A wonderful ministry to prisoners and their families.
- International Justice Mission A human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation, and other forms of violent oppression.
- Love and Respect Ministries A great marriage resource, with wonderful tips for getting off the "crazy cycle."
- Crown Financial Ministries Our bank statements reveal much about our priorities. This ministry is dedicated to helping people take a hard look at how they spend their money. It is biblically-based and I highly recommend it.
- The C.S. Lewis Institute This ministry is a great way for people in DC, Atlanta, and Annapolis to connect with strong followers of Christ. The mentoring ministry of your local church is another good resource. We must be intentional if we hope to have strong believers in our lives. We can and should pray that God will connect us with good mentors, but we should also be humble and vulnerable enough to ask someone to be a mentor.
- RZIM Ravi Zacharias is amazing. He preaches grace and truth and reason. He is funny and brilliant and kind. I am also blessed to be at McLean Bible Church each week, where I am strengthened by grace.
- Getty Music One way to keep praising Jesus is to read the Psalms. Another way is to listen to great music, like that of Keith and Kristyn Getty.
- Operation Blessing and Compassion International are two ministries that are doing great things all around the world. Operation Blessing is more of a relief organization, and Compassion International connects you via sponsorship with individual children. Both are showing the love of Jesus Christ to many in need.
Monday, June 28, 2010
But I’m an imperfect person, and therefore an imperfect parent. That means as much as I hate it, I have already done things to harm the fragile psyches of my beloved little boys, and I’ll continue to make mistakes that hurt them emotionally. Yet the last thing I want to do is to embitter them, to plant bitter roots that can grow and infect others. The writer of Hebrews understood this completely, warning “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.” (12:15) In essence, bitterness is like any other weed, it has the potential to take over, to choke out the life around it. The weed killer is the grace of God, and we cannot fail to obtain it.
So bitter roots are eradicated by the grace of God, that's great news. But how do we obtain the grace of God? We simply admit we don’t have all the answers. We admit that we’ve fallen short. We acknowledge that in our human effort we will always fall short. Wouldn’t it be terribly arrogant to maintain otherwise? And yet the existence of sin is forcefully resisted. There’s an ever-present temptation to compare ourselves to others. We tell ourselves that we not as bad as this person and certainly not as bad as that person. But it’s not relative. Other people aren’t the standard. God is. And Jesus lived the standard here on earth in human flesh. A lack of information is not our problem.
So to obtain the grace of God, all you have to do is acknowledge your own need. And to quote Beth Moore, “Once we get it, we give it.”
So my prayer this week is all about grace. I’m praying that I will get grace. That I’ll understand it like never before, that I’ll give it like never before. My prayer is also that my boys will get it and give it, even to their very own mother.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Jesus You are mercy
Jesus You are justice
Jesus You are worthy
That is what You are
You died alone to save me
You rose so You could raise me
You did this all to make me
A chosen child of God
Worthy is the Lamb that once was slain
To receive all glory, pow’r, and praise
For with Your blood You purchased us for God
Jesus You are worthy. That is what You are
Perfect sacrifce crushed by God for us
Bearing in Your hurt all that I deserve
Misjudged for my misdeeds, You suffered silently
The only guiltless man in all of history
Jesus You are worthy. That is what You are
Jesus You are worthy. That is what You are
Copyright © 2005 Thankyou Music/PRS
This week may we remember that mercy comes at a price, that our God is a God of justice, and that we wouldn't want it any other way. And may we be filled with gratitude that justice and mercy did indeed meet on the Cross.
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
Friday, March 12, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Monday, February 1, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think tell him the first step. The first step is to realise that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.