Archives For February 2012

Relief

February 8, 2012 — Leave a comment

If I’m honest with myself, most days are good days.

That doesn’t mean that all days are good days, or that most days are great days, but God has been gracious to me, and most days I’m reminded of that grace in more ways than I can count, and that makes the day good.

Some days, however, are heavy. Whether it’s a cummulation of minor things that become major in their aggregate, or a heavy loss or burden, some days are hard, difficult, and a challenge to get through. It’s those days that I find myself crying out to my Abba Father for relief – from simple escape from the heaviness that fills my heart.

Most of the time, I’m asking for relief from the situation; I want the circumstances to change so that they will no longer bother me. God, sometimes, but rarely provides that. Instead, He removes the heaviness of my heart. The situation usually does not change, at least in the short term, but as He walks through the trial with me, He provides comfort and peace.

As Psalm 94:19 says:

“When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.”

The heavier my heart is, the more He bears the load. When my cares are multiplied, so are His consolations. When storms rage, He brings peace.

He provides relief. Not by obliterating all my cares, but by overwhelming them with His grace. 

Bits & Pieces (2/8/12)

February 8, 2012 — Leave a comment

 

 

 

  • Know the Enemy - Tim Challies writes about the enemy of Christians and the importance the knowledge serves in battle.

 

  • Keller on NYC’s Ban – Tim Keller shares his thoughts and his heart on New York City’s ban against churches meeting in schools. (H/T)

 

The Purpose of the Paths

February 7, 2012 — 1 Comment

The 23rd Psalm is a well-known passage in Scripture. It has provided comfort and conviction to many as we realize what it means to have the Lord as our Shepherd – as the one who guides, protects, disciplines and pursues after us. Yet, because it is a familiar passage, I am prone to overlook the riches of what it says. In its familiarity it becomes common to me, but the truth it contains (as the truth of any Scripture) is anything but ordinary.

For instance, recently, as I listened to the 23rd Psalm being read, I was struck by the phrase in verse 3, “He leads me in paths of righteousness.” Like any good shepherd, one of the primary purposes of The Good Shepherd is to lead those who follow after Him. He is purposeful in choosing the paths that will lead to our protection and that will enable us to get to the place He has prepared. He is intent on choosing the roads that are in keeping with His Word, guiding us in the way of living more like Him. If I follow Him, I will increasingly live a life that is “righteous” – a life that better reflects Him.

Yet the very next phrase tells us the purpose of this leading; it isn’t for our own glory and esteem. We are led down these path of righteousness for His name’s sake. In other words, He doesn’t call us to go in a certain way primarily because it will be for our good (althoughHe does promisethat He is working all things together for that). Instead, His primary purpose is to bring glory to His name. The paths that He calls us to walk is not primarily about us; it’s about Him. And when we are called to go a certain way, we need to remember that choosing to go in a different direction, isn’t a “neutral” choice. We are choosing to deny Him the glory that He so richly deserves.

As a college professor, I get the opportunity to talk with a lot of students who are getting ready to enter “the real world.” Doing so is scary because all of their lives, they have had known what the next step was. They would finish elementary school, then go to junior high and so on and so forth until they are brought to graduation day. As they look to an unknown future, I always try to encourage them to look for the path that God has prepared. In doing so and in walking that path, they can be assured that He will accomplish something good from it. However, they can also be assured that if they walk the paths of righteousness that He has prepared, they will be used to make His name great. And there’s no better future to anticipate than that. For a college student or for the rest of us.

 

 

Bits & Pieces (2/7/12)

February 7, 2012 — Leave a comment

 

  • Jesus Chooses & Uses Failures – Sometimes it may feel that God has no use for us, especially after we have failed Him time and time again. Jon Bloom at Desiring God shows otherwise.

 

  • How Bad is it Really, at Vanderbilt University? – You’ll have to click through to read the background and the update, but this provides some information about the application of a recent Supreme Court decision that may affect how public institutions, like public colleges, treat on-campus religious organizations.

 

 

  • Thinking About Short-Term Missions Trip – Justin Taylor provides part of the transcript of an email exchange that illuminates the challenges between those who go short-term and those who go long-term. You can also click over to read the whole exchange.

Beautiful & Complete

February 6, 2012 — Leave a comment

I like completing things. As I’ve written about before, I’m a big fan of a to-do list, but I’m an even bigger fan of crossing things off that list. If I have a disagreement with someone, I always desire it to come to a specific and agreed-upon resolution, even if that resolution is just to agree to disagree. Projects that remain undone, chores that remain unfinished, opportunities that aren’t fully taken advantage of, leave me disappointed.

Yet, what I’ve learned is that this life will never completely satisfy this desire. Because the moment that things are truly completed, will be the moment that I’m in Heaven. At that point, my Savior and my God will bind up all the loose pieces of this life – the frayed fabric and the splintering ends, and reveal the beautiful masterpiece that He is creating with it. He is taking the things that I don’t understand, the moments that leave me saddened, and the “insignificant” ways in which I chose to obey Him (and not my own desires), and using them to create something that is far grander than anything I could ever even attempt. His ways are not my ways, and so in the things I question and in the incompleteness of this life, Hs is completing something beautiful; something that will make all the unanswered questions and disappointed feelings more than worth it.

Because He is worth it.  

Bits & Pieces (2/7/12)

February 6, 2012 — Leave a comment

 

 

 

 

  • Moving Beyond Faceboook Envy to Reality - Although written about parenting, a good reminder to all of us not to let what we see on a social media site drive us to jealousy over someone else’s “perfect” life.

As If I Had None

February 3, 2012 — Leave a comment

It’s easy to get caught up in all the stuff that we have – not just physical possessions, but the priorities and the to-do’s that pile up in front of us. It’s tempting to get wrapped up in what crosses our paths – the problem that needs solving, the situation that needs to be dealt with, the broken appliance that needs to be fixed. We’re surrounded by things that call out for our attention – begging us to focus on them and not on other things.

And while we can’t ignore the situations and circumstances that God allows in our lives, we can respond to them in a way that is different from how the world does. In I Corinthians 7 as Paul writes about the benefits of serving God as a unmarried person, he offers a prescription for everyone who is living this life with the next life in view. Instead of being overwhelmed by the cares of this world, we should live as if we had none. This isn’t to say that His children approach life with blinders on, unwilling or unable to see the bad things that happen, but we consider them in their proper perspective and remember that because of Christ’s work on the cross and His resurrection three days later, the final ending of our story is secured.  If you know that everything works out in the end, and in fact, more than works out but exceeds our expectations and understanding, then you can view the bumps along the way as insignificant in light of eternity. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have eternal significance, but it does mean that their significance is found in how those situations are used to bring glory to God. And if you’re living life as if there are no earthly concerns, and only heavenly ones, you are more apt to respond in a way that reflects that.

Getting wrapped up in the here and now is tempting – especially when you live in a culture that teaches you to live for today and to “just do it.” However, for the Christ follower we need to live as if the cares of this world don’t matter – because eventually, they won’t. 

Bits & Pieces (2/3/12)

February 3, 2012 — Leave a comment

 

  • 24-Hour Armor - Jared Wilson reminds us that we need the armor of God on constantly since we don’t know what attacks the Enemy will bring, or when he will bring them.

 

  • Sex & the Mystery of Marriage – Tim Challies tackles the subject of why Scripture says the marriage covenant is the only proper context for sex.

 

 

  • Learning Worship from Idolators – As we gear up for Super Bowl weekend, this post examines what we can learn about worship from sports fanatics as they are often more invested in their team than we are in our faith. (H/T)

 

Regardless

February 2, 2012 — 2 Comments

At a recent conference, one speaker talked about what it means to live for Christ with your family.  In a day amd age where the word “family” is fraught with different interpretations and when families, however they are defined, seem to daily break down in front of us, it is difficult to see how they can be a reflection of Christ. However, as Christians all our lives are to reflect our Savior, and within our families the same principle applies.

One of the ways that we do this is by not imposing our limitations on our commitment to those that God has placed in our lives. No where is this more important that our marriage. Of course, God makes it clear in His Word that our first commitment is to Him, and as such, that will create “limitations” of sorts (For example – if our spouse asks us to do something that violates a clear command of Scripture, God says that we must demonstrate our loyalty to Him and His Word, rather than our loyalty to our loved one.) However, outside of that parameter, we need to have a “regardless” attitude. We respect regardless of agreement. We love regardless of loveliness. Our fidelity to each other should not be dependent upon the other person. Instead, we remain faithful, regardless.

This isn’t an easy attitude to have. Our sinful nature prompts us to put boundaries and walls in order to protect ourselves and to ensure that we get what we desire. God, however, makes it clear that the purpose of a Christian marriage is to reflect Him, and no one had a “regardless” attitude more than our Lord. After all He died for those who were in rebellion against Him (Ro. 5:8). And having the same attitude as Him will require dying to ourselves, but as we do so, our marriage will be a beautiful portrait – not only of human love, but of the love that Christ demonstrates to His Church.

Bits & Pieces (2/2/12)

February 2, 2012 — Leave a comment
  • Free Book from Logos – for five more days only, Logos is offering free copies of Holiness by J.C. Ryle (in partnership with Desiring God.)
  • Free Audiobook - Christian Audio Book’s free book of the month is Trusting God by Jerry Bridges.
  • The Family Torn Apart – Albert Mohler writes about a recognition from an unlikely source on the negative impact of current family dynamics.