Friday, October 24, 2014

When Helping Hurts

Laurie Chapman recently shared a very helpful illustration of how struggle is necessary in the path of growth. There are personal and interpersonal lessons here. Check it out.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

20 Ways To Be Refreshing In The Local Church

As a follow up to our "Faith in the Local Church" series, here's a great post by Jason Helopoulos entitled, "20 Ways to be Refreshing in the Local Church." 

Here are a few samples from the 20: 
  • Show up each Sunday morning with a mental list of three or four people that you are going to find and minister to (Philippians 2:4). Many of us walk into church with an attitude of, “I wonder who will minister to me today.” Nothing can be as drastically encouraging to a local church’s membership than a people united in the understanding that they are there to serve and love one another.
  • Don’t rush out of church on Sunday mornings. Be one of the last to leave because you are taking the time to talk with everyone you can (this will be hard for the introvert—but some of the most engaging and refreshing people I have served with are introverts. They wear themselves out on Sunday morning). The football games and lunch will be there fifteen or thirty minutes later. Often remind others of the benefits of salvation and the graces that flow from union with Christ. Let it season your conversations.
  • Aim to remember peoples’ names and greet them by name each Sunday (I wish I was better at this, because it means so much to people). The Cheers’ theme song had a point, we all feel loved when our name is known (Isaiah 49:16).
  • Get to know the children of the congregation and seek to talk to five different children each Sunday morning (Matthew 19:14).
  • Write thank you notes to volunteers in the church.
Imagine the impact of just these 5 being pervasively implemented, let alone the whole set of 20


I had a few people ask me for this Ray Ortlund, Jr. quote I shared this past Sunday. It's found on pages 25-26 of his commentary on Isaiah (which, by the way, I HIGHLY recommend):
What is conviction of sin? It is not an oppressive spirit of uncertainty or paralyzing guilt feelings. Conviction of sin is the lance of the divine Surgeon piercing the infected soul, releasing the pressure, letting the infection pour out. Conviction of sin is a health-giving injury. Conviction of sin is the Holy Spirit being kind to us by confronting us with the light we don’t want to see and the truth we’re afraid to admit and the guilt we prefer to ignore. Conviction of sin is the severe love of God overruling our compulsive dishonesty, our willful blindness, our favorite excuses. Conviction of sin is the violent sweetness of God opposing the sins lying comfortably undisturbed in our lives. Conviction of sin is the merciful God declaring war on the false peace we settle for. Conviction of sin is our escape from malaise to joy, from attending church to worship, from faking it to authenticity. Conviction of sin, with the forgiveness of Jesus pouring over our wounds, is life.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Left Behind?

I haven't read the Left Behind books or seen the movie, but in case you have or plan to, I'd encourage you to read this brief post entitled, "Will Christians Be Secretly Raptured?" by Jeramie Rinne.

So, what do we believe the Bible teaches about the return of Christ? From our doctrinal statement:
We believe in the blessed hope (Titus 2:13) that at the end of the age Jesus Christ will return to this earth personally (Acts 1:9-11), visibly (Mark 14:61-62), physically (Luke 24:39-43), and suddenly (1Thess 5:2-3), in power and great glory (Luke 21:27); and that he will gather his elect (Matt 24:31), raise the dead (1Thess 4:15-17), judge the nations, and consummate his kingdom. 
We believe in the bodily resurrection of both the just and the unjust—the unjust to everlasting conscious misery in hell (Matt 25:41, 46) and the just to eternal blessedness in the presence of him who sits on the throne and of the Lamb, in the new heaven and new earth, the home of righteousness (2Pet 3:13). 
We believe that the end of all things in this age will be the beginning of the never-ending, ever-increasing happiness of the redeemed, as God shows the infinite riches of his glorious grace for the everlasting enjoyment of his people. God will be all in all and his people will be enthralled by the unmediated sight of his ineffable beauty. We therefore eagerly await (Heb 9:28) our Savior’s return (Php 3:20-21), longing for his appearing (2Tim 4:8), living as pilgrims (1Pet 2:11) in this vapor-like life (James 4:13-15) on earth, desiring our better homeland (Heb 11:13-16), where we will see our Savior face to face and be forever with our Lord (1Thess 4:13-17).
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pray For Iraq

From Frontiers USA:

If you are interested in learning more or donating, Frontiers is a reputable missions agency doing great work among Muslim people groups. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Do You Know Who You Are?

If you are a Christian, do you know who you are? Do you really believe it? I think we often act more like street child survivors and cosmic orphans than beloved children and heirs of God.

In J.I. Packer's classic book, Knowing God, he offers some great advice on how to practice believing our identity as God's children. It's found at the conclusion of his chapter entitled, "Sons of God." This just might be one to print off and keep in your Bible for awhile, so you can preach the truth to yourself and prayerfully ponder these questions until you believe in sonship deep down in your bones.

Here it is (italics original):
Do I, as a Christian, understand myself? Do I know my own real identity? My own real destiny? I am a child of God. God is my Father; heaven is my home; every day is one day nearer. My Savior is my brother; every Christian is my brother too. 
Say it over and over to yourself first thing in the morning, last thing at night, as you wait for the bus, any time when your mind is free, and ask that you may be enabled to live as one who knows it is all utterly and completely true. For this is the Christian’s secret of –a happy life?—yes, certainly, but we have something both higher and profounder to say. This is the Christian’s secret of a Christian life, and of a God-honoring life, and these are the aspects of the situation that really matter. May this secret become fully yours, and fully mine. 
To help us realize more adequately who and what, as children of God, we are and are called to be, here are some questions by which we do well to examine ourselves again and again. 
  • Do I understand my adoption? Do I value it? Do I daily remind myself of my privilege as a child of God? 
  • Have I sought full assurance of my adoption? Do I daily dwell on the love of God to me?
  • Do I treat God as my Father in heaven, loving, honoring and obeying him, seeking and welcoming his fellowship, and trying in everything to please him, as a human parent would want his child to do? 
  • Do I think of Jesus Christ, my Savior and my Lord, as my brother too, bearing to me not only a divine authority but also a divine-human sympathy? Do I think daily how close he is to me, how completely he understands me, and how much, as my kinsman-redeemer, he cares for me? 
  • Have I learned to hate the things that displease my Father? Am I sensitive to the evil things to which he is sensitive? Do I make a point of avoiding them, lest I grieve him? 
  • Do I look forward daily to that great family occasion when the children of God will finally gather in heaven before the throne of God, their Father, and of the Lamb, their brother and their Lord? Have I felt the thrill of this hope? 
  • Do I love my Christian brothers and sisters with whom I live day by day, in a way that I shall not be ashamed of when in heaven I think back over it? 
  • Am I proud of my Father, and of his family, to which by his grace I belong? 
  • Does the family likeness appear in me? If not, why not?
1 John 3:1-3 (emphasis added):
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.