Archive | October, 2013

The Reformation: Trick or Treat?

31 Oct

lutherOn this day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Looking back, Luther stated, “I would never have thought that such a storm would rise from Rome over one simple scrap of paper…”

The Reformation: Trick or Treat?

by David Mathis | October 31, 2013

It’s no accident that October 31 is both Halloween and the day remembered for the start of the Reformation. Both key off November 1, All Saints’ Day — or All Hallows’ Day Hallows from the Latin for saints or holy ones.On All Hallows’ Eve, October 31, 1517, the Roman Church received the world’s most memorable trick-or-treater at its door — though barely noticed at the time — when a lowly priest named Martin Luther approached the threshold of the Wittenberg branch in Germany and posted his 95 measly theses they aren’t nearly as impressive as you would expect. The coming All Saints’ Day seemed like an excuse for sparring about the Church’s deplorable sanctioning of indulgences, and Luther was angling for some good-spirited debate.

The Spark That Set the Church Ablaze

…Some nameless visionary translated his theses from the Church’s Latin into the people’s German and sent them far and wide through the printing press. In time, this lowly monk proved to have what it took to hold his ground against the Church and the world — “Here I stand,” he said courageously before the emperor — and under God, he became the human tip of the spear for massive reform…

Read the remainder of the article here: The Reformation: Trick or Treat? – Desiring God.

Links for Reformation Day:

 

Verbal Backspacing: It’s Not A Filter Issue »

29 Oct

Shut Mouth

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” –Proverbs 12:18 (ESV)

Have you ever blurted out something and before your sentence was completed realized you should have said nothing instead?  It is as difficult to recall words better left unspoken as it is to un-ring a bell once the clapper has clanged dissonantly. The following article explores the link between our heart and our tongue recognizing a heart in need of change is the most likely culprit for the lack of internal editor (Matthew 15:18). There are times when ugly thoughts surface verbally to audibly remind us of the need for the ongoing sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

“There is such a supernatural work created in believers by the Holy Spirit which always abides in them. This work of the Holy Spirit inclines the mind, will and heart to deeds of holiness and thus makes us fit to live to God. This work also gives power to the soul enabling it to live to God in all holy obedience. This work differs specifically from all other habits, intellectual or moral, that we may achieve by our own efforts, or by spiritual gifts that we might be given” (John Owen, “The Holy Spirit”).

Verbal Backspacing: It’s Not A Filter Issue

Last week while standing around with some friends, I carelessly commented on something I should have kept my mouth shut about. I criticized someone’s work without knowing it was actually the work of one of my friends. One who was standing right there. Of course I immediately felt like a first-class jerk. In hindsight, my words were idle, self-exalting, and proud, but what initially struck me about the situation was not my sin. It was how foolish I felt knowing I could have prevented the faux pas. Blame it on that faulty brain-to-mouth filter.

I fell all over myself apologizing. I tried to backtrack. I tried to put the comment in a less-offensive context. Ultimately, I tried to prove I really wasn’t such an insensitive and rude friend. All the while, I continued to dig a deeper and deeper hole for myself.

It’s easier to blame biting criticism or flat out rudeness on slow thinking or tiredness, than it is to take personal responsibility for accidentally exposing how you really feel – whether or not it’s socially appropriate. Let’s just call it an editorial problem, one we meant to delete and instead let fly. That’s the beauty of writing, if I type out something obviously foolish, offensive, or bad, I can backspace a few times and it’s like it never happened. But with my mouth, there is no backspacing. My words have “gone to print” so-to-say, too late to retract. If only there were such a thing as verbal backspacing, a delete button for the words I regret publicizing.

Excerpted from: Verbal Backspacing: It’s Not A Filter Issue » Worship Rejoices.

Save the Date!|Upcoming Women’s Ministries Events

26 Oct

save-the-date-step 002

Mark your calendars for these upcoming events:

  • Friday, November 15, 7-9pm

Oasis Worship Night

  • Saturday, December 7, 1-4pm 

“It’s About the Presence” Christmas Event

Stop by the women’s ministries cart in the courtyard for more information.

Four Keys to Satisfying Your Starving Soul

23 Oct

bibleAnd he told them this parable“The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” –Luke 12:16-21

Our soul craves spiritual sustenance; the kind of fulfillment only God can provide. Without it we are as lost as the rich fool who amassed wealth and property but left his soul untended. Fill up on the Word to quell the hunger and quench the thirst of a soul crying out for the Lord.

Four Keys to Satisfying Your Starving Soul

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. –2 Peter 1:3–4

If we’re honest, we’re all hungry. We’re starving for something to sustain us, to preserve our hope, to strengthen us through trials, to help us conquer sin. We’re starving for food that will fill us for the everyday fight of faith.But what does the fight look like? And how do we find the food we need?

Excerpted from:Four Keys to Satisfying Your Starving Soul – Desiring God.

Also, see this previous post: Drink the Word of God

What Young Christians Can Learn from the Elderly|Life Is Better In Community

18 Oct

life“Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone” –Psalm 71:9

Young people…the elderly are now what you will eventually become. The older generations possess a wealth of knowledge and wisdom most would love to share. Listen to their stories. The elderly know a lot about community and what it means to live life together. Many have enjoyed a long walk with Christ and would love to impart their experiences to the younger generations. Seek them out. Sit with them in worship. Hear their stories. Find out what their needs might be and serve them. In all these things there is much to be learned and an intergenerational community to be built.

What Young Christians Can Learn from the Elderly

Youth lends itself to the productive Christian life. We\’re active and healthy and have our whole lives in front of us. We are in control and independent. We need no help to make it through the day.

We are also really good at pretending the above is true.

Young people, myself included, want to appear independent. We are good at convincing others (and ourselves) that we are making do on our own. But the truth is that we\’re often lonely. In our efforts to remain independent, we have forgotten how to be dependent on a community.

The remaining article can be viewed here: What Young Christians Can Learn from the Elderly – The Gospel Coalition Blog.

TACC Missions News |Following Christ |Fruit-Bearing Discipleship

15 Oct

Thursday October 17:

2:00 PM Parking lot prayer send-off

india

 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” –John 15:8

These are  the 2013 October team members: Mark Engstrom, Terry Lichte, Felipe Lopez, and Doug Keller. Doug has been to India twice before. Felipe, Mark and Terry have never been to India.

TACC’s earlier trips have been predominately for evangelical purposes–sharing the gospel with the Adivasi through medical camps, children’s programs, and door-to-door visits. Our October team will be doing a medical camp one day, but the rest of our time will be spent in discipleship in some of the villages we have already visited for evangelism. TACC teams have visited 42 of the 79 villages we are trying to reach. Of those 42 villages, 25 now have local fellowships of believers.

Our plan for this upcoming trip is to…
…visit 2 of those existing fellowships for worship and then to do discipleship training in the afternoon
…have believers from several villages meet with us a one centrally located village for a day of discipleship
…a day of discipleship with women from nearby villages
…meet with the SAS pastor/evangelists and lay leaders from their churches for discipleship focused on leading their flocks and developing future leaders
…a ‘Big Gathering” of believers from multiple villages for a day of discipleship and fellowship
…the day of medical camp evangelism already mentioned above.

Follow the India team at the TACC Mission News Blog

 

God’s Mercy in Messed Up Families

10 Oct

 “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” –Ephesians 2:4-5

mercy-graceWithin the confines of the familial structure the intimate dynamic serves as a transparent illustration of God’s mercy when wrath, eternal judgment and death are the only thing we sinners deserve…

“…there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, that holds the waters back, that are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward. If God should only withdraw his hand from the flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God, would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it” (Johnathan Edwards).

and the Gospel message of love, forgiveness, and grace are shown.

God’s Mercy in Messed Up Families

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to find an example of what we would call a “healthy family” in the Bible? It’s a lot easier to find families with a lot of sin and a lot of pain than to find families with a lot of harmony.

Why is the Bible loud on sinfully dysfunctional families and quiet on harmonious families?

Well, for one thing, most families aren’t harmonious. Humanity is not harmonious. We are alienated — alienated from God and each other. So put alienated, selfish sinners together in a home, sharing possessions and the most intimate aspects of life, having different personalities and interests, and a disparate distribution of power, abilities, and opportunities, and you have a recipe for a sin-mess.

But there’s a deeper purpose at work in this mess. The Bible’s main theme is God’s gracious plan to redeem needy sinners. It teaches us that what God wants most for us is that we 1) become aware of our sinfulness and 2) our powerlessness to save ourselves, as we 3) believe and love his Son and the gospel he preached, and 4) graciously love one another. And it turns out that the family is an ideal place for all of these to occur.

But what we often fail to remember is that the mess is usually required for these things to occur. Sin must be seen and powerlessness must be experienced before we really turn to Jesus and embrace his gospel. And offenses must be committed if gracious love is to be demonstrated. So if we’re praying for our family members to experience these things, we should expect trouble.

Family harmony is a good desire and something to work toward. But in God’s plan, it may not be what is most needed. What may be most needed is for our family to be a crucible of grace, a place where the heat of pressure forces sin to surface providing opportunities for the gospel to be understood and applied. And when this happens the messes become mercies.

My point is this: if your family is not the epitome of harmony, take heart. God specializes in redeeming messes. See yours as an opportunity for God’s grace to become visible to your loved ones and pray hard that God will make it happen.

The remainder of this article may be viewed here: God’s Mercy in Messed Up Families – Desiring God.

God’s Bright Design for Your Bitter Providences|Taking Heart in Uncertainty

5 Oct

 wait

 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” –Romans 8:28

 

It should be comforting to acknowledge the supreme sovereignty of our God who works exclusively for the good of those He has called and yet in the midst of suffering or life’s vagaries we are sometimes hard pressed to recognize His hand. What the “good” is or will be is often intangible, mysterious, and hidden to us but never to God. He knows exactly what He is accomplishing and we need to cast our fears aside and rein in our anxiousness by waiting upon, hoping in, resting with, and seeking out the Lord –in scripture, in prayer, in meditation. 

“In the life to come there shall be no more mixture; in hell there will be nothing but bitter; in heaven nothing but sweet; but in this life the providences of God are mixed, there is something of the sweet in them, and something of the bitter” –Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, 125.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

–William Cowper God Moves In a Mysterious Way.” 

God’s Bright Design for Your Bitter Providences

This is the will of God, your sanctification. (1 Thessalonians 4:3)

The unexpected, unexplained twists and turns our lives take create all kinds of apparent uncertainties for us. And the profound pain we endure can be so perplexing. There is so much God doesn’t tell us — so much we think we would really like to know…

The secret things are the Lord’s for a very good reason. Trust him with the mystery. But the revealed things are yours and they are glorious. Believe them and one day you’ll share God’s holiness and all the forevermore pleasures he has prepared for you…

Excerpted from Jon Bloom’s God’s Bright Design for Your Bitter Providences – Desiring God.

What Is Marriage, Then?|Marriage Defined

2 Oct

married2

“In Ephesians 5, Paul shows us that even on earth Jesus did not use his power to oppress us but sacrificed everything to bring us into union with him. And this takes us beyond the philosophical to the personal and the practical. If God had the gospel of Jesus’s salvation in mind when he established marriage, then marriage only “works” to the degree that approximates the pattern of God’s self-giving love in Christ. What Paul is saying not only answers the objection that marriage is oppressive and restrictive, but it also addresses the sense that the demands of marriage are overwhelming. There is so much to do that we don’t know where to start. Start here, Paul says. Do for your spouse what God did for you in Jesus, and the rest will follow.

This is the secret—that the gospel of Jesus and marriage explain one another. That when God invented marriage, he already had the saving work of Jesus in mind.”–Tim Keller

MARRIAGE DEFINED

It is no secret that marriages are under attack in our world.  This is not surprising since marriage is a visible picture of Christ and His Church, what better place for the forces of hell to aim their fiery darts.  In response to this our church tries to have at least 2 marriage conferences per year (with hopes of having more).  As such I have been tasked with using several resources and putting together a curriculum for the conference.

Our very first session is What is Marriage?  In this session we attempt to come together on a theology of marriage.  We begin by defining marriage.  As far as I am aware this definition is original with me.  I would like to share it and then expound on it a bit—hopefully for your benefit.

Marriage is a binding covenant created by God between one man and one woman for our holiness, for our joy, as a picture of the gospel to spread the glory of God.

If I pick this definition apart I can come up with seven individual statements (and these are used as teaching points for the first session).

A Binding Covenant.  Covenant’s are a big deal to God.  Breaking covenants is a big deal to God.  To see how big of a deal covenants are consider Genesis 15.  The Lord walks through a host of animals that are ripped asunder and essentially says, “If I break my covenant let what is done to these animals be done to me”.  Covenants are a big deal.

Created by God.  If humans created marriage then we could make the rules.  But marriage is a binding covenant that is created by God, as such He makes the rules.  God created your marriage, so away with this silly talk of having “married the wrong person”.

Between one man and one woman.  The two shall become one.  This means breaking away from parents, past relationships, future relationships, and any other lovers.  This also goes against any arguments for homosexuality rightly being called marriage.

For our holiness.  Marriage is one of the means that God has ordained to sanctify us.  God is not satisfied with us merely having a “good” marriage. God wants to use our marriage to conform us more and more into the image of Christ. God has a rescue plan for your marriage. His goal is not simply to rescue your marriage. His goal is to use your marriage to rescue you.

For our joy.  Our joy increases when we, in holiness, fight for the joy of another.  Marriage can be extremely joyful.  Just read Song of Solomon.  Furthermore, if marriage increases holiness it will also increase our joy in God.

As a picture of the gospel.  Your marriage reflects Christ and His church.  It was created by God to be a visible picture for everyone to see the love between Christ and His Bride.

To spread the glory of God.  The purpose of God for humanity is to enjoy His grace and extend His glory.  Marriage is no different.  He uses marriages to rip out of our heart sin and unbelief. He uses marriage to further our joy. But he also uses marriage to create children, and to raise and nurture children in godly homes.

Your marriage has purpose.  It has meaning.  Don’t give up on your marriage. Don’t stop fighting for your marriage.  Know that God is fighting for your marriage as well.  Have hope in him and keep holding on.

Enjoy your marriage.  God is using it to display His greatness.  Rejoice that the Lord is using the union of two sinners to display His incomparable greatness and Trinitarian love.  Marriage is sweet.  Savor it.  Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Excerpted from:Marriage Defined – Borrowed Light and What is Marriage, Then?|The Gospel Coalition

 

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