Monday, February 23, 2015

Affliction, A Servant

Do you resonate with Psalm 119:67?
"Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word."
Has suffering ever been a servant to halt your wandering heart and get you back on the path of life?

John Piper comments on this verse and gives five good reasons why God sends affliction to help us:

  1. Affliction takes the glibness of life away and makes us more serious so that our mindset is more in tune with the seriousness of God’s word.
  2. Affliction knocks worldly props from under us and forces us to rely more on God, which brings us more in tune with the aim of the word.
  3. Affliction makes us search the Scriptures with greater desperation for help, rather than treating it as marginal to life.
  4. Affliction brings us into the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings so that we fellowship more closely with him and see the world more readily through his eyes.
  5. Affliction mortifies deceitful and distracting fleshly desires, and so brings us into a more spiritual frame which fits God’s word more.
May the Holy Spirit give us grace to not begrudge the pedagogy of God.

And by the way, the above devotional (Thanks, Chuck B, for sending!) is one found on John Piper's daily devotional called Solid Joys. You can get it as an app, or have them sent to your email box. If you're looking for a good daily devotional, I'd highly recommend it!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Anti-Psalm 1

Ray Ortlund, Jr "translates" Psalm 1 in reverse:

Blighted is the man
who doesn’t stick his neck out,
doesn’t think for himself,
doesn’t revere anything.
But he laughs on cue
while watching TV day and night.
He is like everybody else.
In all that he does, he gets by.
The believers are not so,
they don’t move with the times.
Therefore, the godly will not stand
in the court of human approval,
nor the Christlike at the best parties in town.
For who’s to say what is right?
And doesn’t everybody go to heaven?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

"To Jesus, Through Mary" -- Does This Sign Point The Way?

I love Roman Catholics. That doesn't mean I have to agree with them. In fact, love often requires that we speak the truth to question and challenge another's beliefs. This is not a matter of nit-picking-ly picking doctrinal fights. It's not a matter of winning arguments. It's a matter of what is good for us. Truth is good for us. Error has impact.

So I was provoked by this sign as I drove by recently. It simply isn't true. The Bible never leads us to pursue greater union with Jesus, or to approach Jesus, through Mary. This is an invention of the Roman Catholic Church. I'm not trying to be incendiary. I am trying to say clearly that the developed Mariology (theological study of Mary) of the Roman Catholic Church does not arise out of nor is it governed by the Bible.

The path and pattern in the Bible is "to the Father, through the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit."

This is the way to God:
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
This is the basis of our access to the Father:
Ephesians 2:18 For through him (i.e. Christ Jesus - see 2:13-17) we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
This is how we give thanks:
Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
We do not need to "consecrate ourselves to the Mother of God" (Pope Pius XII). We do not need the guidance of Mary to lead us to union with Jesus. She does not have the role of molding us into the likeness of Jesus. That is the role of the Holy Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
None of this is to say we should denigrate or ignore the mother of our Lord. Absolutely not! She was highly favored by God (Luke 1:26-33). We should honor her and emulate her humble, exemplary faith (Luke 1:38, 46-49)! She has joined the great cloud of witnesses that line the way of "the race set before us" (Hebrews 12:1-2). She is cheering us on, just like Abraham, Sarah, and Moses, to keep running with our eyes fixed on Jesus.

I know this raises all the old Protestant / Roman Catholic issues and divides. I have a decent understanding of where we disagree and why. I'm not trying to take on Rome. But I would love to engage more often with my Roman Catholic friends in peaceful, yet serious, dialogue about what the Bible says, and what it means. Maybe you do too. Maybe this sign could point the way to doing just that.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Monday Morning Grace

As you head off into another week, here's what you're doing, and why you're doing it. From The Institute For Faith, Work & Economics:

Colossians 3:23-24:
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.