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Know Who You Are Not

If you are in Christ, you are not who you were. As John Newton, a slavetrader turned pastor, once wrote, “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.” https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/know-who-you-are-not

Cast in Darkness

In her autobiographical account of bipolar disorder, Kathryn Green-McCreight describes her writing as an engagement with “the darkness that was often my only perceived companion.” She is not alone in identifying darkness as a place of great suffering – Jesus himself did so too (Matthew 8:12, 22:13, 25:30). Here there is nothing to illuminate that which threatens and assails. There is no light of life nor warmth of companionship. In darkness, we cannot see behind us to remember from where…

Waiting

Adam and Eve had long since fallen, though sin remained. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had ceased their seeking and wandering, though Israel hadn’t yet found what it was looking for. Joseph’s dreams had faded away into history, though a dream of shalom persisted. The thunder of Mount Sinai had become a distant memory, though the law remained steadfast. The walls of Jerusalem were toppled, though God remained sovereign. The voices of the prophets had been silenced, though their words echoed…

Hope Amidst Cynics, Escapists, and Optimists

Aldous Huxley imagined a utopian society in which the purpose of all living was pleasure. People were endlessly gratified with new products, new games, an addictive drug called soma, and abundant and seemingly inconsequential sex. Such a society was constructed and maintained by others who found it the best way to maintain power and resist the chaos that existed beyond the society’s borders in the wilderness. Huxley actually had a far more dour view of our own world. “Maybe this world,” referring…

Confession and Forgiveness

The Seven A’s of Confession: Address everyone involved. Avoid “if,” “but” and “maybe.” Admit specifically. Acknowledge the hurt. Accept the consequences. Alter your behavior. Ask for forgiveness. The Four Promises of Forgiveness: I will not dwell on this incident. I will not bring this incident up and use it against you. I will not talk to others about this incident. I will not allow this incident to stand between us or hinder our personal relationship. Continue reading at The Gospel…

Suicide and Mental Health in the Church

More than half (55%) of churchgoers say people in their community are more likely to gossip about a suicide than to help a victim’s family. And few churchgoers say their church takes specific steps to address suicide or has resources to assist those experiencing a mental health crisis. A quarter (24%) of churchgoers say their church has shared a testimony in the past year of someone who has struggled with mental illness or thoughts of suicide. Fewer (22%) say the…

“I Was Far Too Easily Pleased”

From Desiring God and John Piper — “…These felt like competing motives. I could aim to make God look great, or I could aim at my own satisfaction. I did not have a framework of thought where these two motives fit together. They seemed like alternatives….” https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/i-was-far-too-easily-pleased

When the Future You Planned for Never Comes

Here is a mature Christian perspective, dealing with Real People having to deal with the brokenness of our Real World, in utter dependence upon the Real Jesus.  No pablum here… https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/when-the-future-you-planned-for-never-comes  

The Doctrines of Graciousness

It is a great shame when good theology has a bad reputation because of poor conduct. Yet however we’ve failed, we can take heart that the sovereign God in whom we trust is at work in us (Philippians 1:6; 2:13) by the power of his sovereign Spirit. With him in view, Paul prays that we would be “strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy” (Colossians 1:11). This is the kind of…

Improving Upon Your Baptism

Baptism is a wonderful sacrament given to us by God. Before a child is baptized, a minister asks the child’s parents several questions. If the person is old enough to answer for themselves, then they are asked directly: Do you acknowledge your child’s need of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, and the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit? Do you claim God’s covenant promises in her behalf, and do you look in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ for…

The Psalms: Real Feelings About The Real World…

“The Psalms keep us from being naïve, from having a naïve optimism about the emotional possibilities of fallen people. And they help us navigate the seas of embattled emotions…  The Psalms, more than any other book in the Bible, illustrate the sobering fact that our vision of God is often obscured. The psalmists’ joy in God is often conflicted and embattled….” https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/your-emotions-matter-to-god/excerpts/the-bible-never-ignores-our-feelings  

3 Things American Citizens Could Learn from Christian Missionaries

A Christian missionary typically moves overseas to minister among a group of people who differ from him or her linguistically, religiously, socially, culturally, and politically. …But in spite of—even because of—these deep differences, good missionaries are known for refusing to caricature the people’s religion, mock their culture, or impugn their motives. Instead, missionaries generally do three things that we—everyday Americans—ought to imitate in our coffee shop conversations… 3 Things American Citizens Could Learn from Christian Missionaries  

How a Christian Relates to the State

Our blood-bought rights and freedoms as citizens of heaven are not the same as American freedom of religion, freedom of worship, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly. Christ did not die to guarantee these rights for this age. All these freedoms — precious as they are — can be taken away without any essential loss of our Christian freedom! Therefore, when we seek to use the power of the state to secure these civic freedoms, as if their loss would…

Shrewd Living

We’ve come a long way since that primordial moment when God saw that this world was, six times over, good, and then finally, very(!) good. We’ve come a long way, and a long way from paradise isn’t a good thing. Chuck described this world in which we now find ourselves as an “alloyed world.” Even the things we might assume are neutral – like money or technology – actually have their own formative influences. Everything from credit cards to ventilators…

Budgeting Together for the Gospel

This past spring, Chuck preached a sermon series on money. In one of the sermons, “Gospeling One Another Every day,” Chuck posed a challenge: we’re too private with our money. One should be careful, of course, in using one’s finances to brag (Matthew 6:1-4), but one can also use their giving to encourage others. Take the example of the poor widow from Mark 12:42. Jesus praised her for what she gave, and how many people through history would have seen…

Yes and…!

Have you ever played the improv game “Yes and?” It can be pretty silly and illustrates an important conversational point. Someone might start by saying, “My car is red!” Then another person says, “Yes and the sky is blue!” Then the first replies, “Yes and Mandolin Orange is a great band!” Simply by use of the word “and,” each subsequent sentence builds on the previous even if they’re unrelated. It’s collaborative. The alternative to this little game is, “Yes but.”…

The Promise Is For You and Your Children

Baptism is an act of faith in the promises of God. If baptism is your testimony that you chose God, then of course it makes no sense to baptize children. They have no clue what is happening to them, no more than Isaac understood why he was being circumcised. But if baptism is God’s promise that through Christ he is willing and able to accept your child, then it is a precious reminder to you and to your children of…

If You Hate Jews, You Hate Jesus

“As Christians, we should have a clear message of rejection of every kind of bigotry and hatred, but we should especially note what anti-Semitism means for people who are followers of Jesus Christ.”…  Below is a link to an article this morning from Russell Moore: https://www.russellmoore.com/2018/10/28/if-you-hate-jews-you-hate-jesus/

A People of Signs, Seals, and Salves

In our modern world, medications—and indeed all medical interventions—compete with the sacraments of the church by means of imposing symbolic authority over how we conceive of our health, life, suffering, and dying. By ingesting a medication, we can be unified with what it symbolizes. Medications can act as both a sign of the working of this empty promise and as a seal, setting apart this person as one who faithfully awaits the fulfillment of this promise. Read more at Fathom…
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