Archive | May, 2014

Servanthood: A Lost Art?

31 May

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 “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10

Have we lost the art of servanthood? Have we allowed the world to twist, pull, corrupt, and change the definition of a word originally intended to mean a demonstration; a beautiful outpouring of our love for each other expressed as a devoted waiting upon? Have we forgotten who it is we ultimately serve; who our master is or are we weighted down under personal feelings and columns filled with tallies of perceived slights and offenses that allow the muddied messy church to obscure the true freedom of othercentered serving?Servanthood is not synonymous with slavery. We are as liberated as one dwelling on this cursed earth can be. We have been ransomed, a blood price was paid, and we are no longer living in bondage; no longer in chains. Our Savior, the ultimate servant Mark 10:45, poured out His grace as He hung on that tree along with abundant faith and love 1 Timothy 1:14 that we might glorify God through selfless service to others in an expression of deep love and shared grace.

Please read the remainder of the article at:  Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > Servanthood: A Lost Art?.

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Spiritual Disciplines For the Purpose of Godliness| Prayer | 3rd in Series

24 May

praying hands_opt“Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7b NASB)

Prayer is an expression of our heart, an outpouring of intimacy, a loving dialogue with the Father.The Word of God makes it clear we are to participate in prayer.

The remainder of this article can be viewed here:

Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > Spiritual Disciplines For the Purpose of Godliness| Prayer | 3rd in Series.

Strengthen Your Sisters | Hear Their Heart Cries | Meet Them Where They Are

17 May

womencommunity“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” —1 Thessalonians 5:11

Sisters we were saved individually through the finished work of the cross, adopted into a community; grafted onto the tree as daughters of the one true living God, a family; the bride (Ephesians 5:25) and body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). This communal Gospel aspect is structured to facilitate solid deep friendships with other believing women. The Lord designed this familial structure in order for us to meet one another where we are; to share, strengthen, encourage, and affirm one another, and to love each other in the chaotic storm of everyday life—a framework in which to tell your stories, share your life, open your heart in a living testimony of God’s transforming grace to build up and comfort your sisters in Christ.

For many of you an intimate group already exists—where true friendship allows hard questions and accountability—be bold, step outside of your circle, be deliberate; engaging—reach across the aisle, sit somewhere new, and draw in someone you may only know in passing or not at all.

Weave together a tightly knit tapestry from the fibers of inclusiveness; a true extended, diverse, intergenerational family of women whose heart cries you can see, hear, and feel, whose brokeness resonates, who you stand in the gap and pray for—pray with, built on the foundation of Jesus (Ephesians 2:20). Lift up and revive each other with shared stories of Christ’s amazing grace!

Father create in us a desire to be intentional with women who we may not know well, who are different then ourselves. Plant in us the desire to branch out; to be bold. Search our hearts—reveal our weaknesses that hinder vulnerability. Quell our fears associated with exposure. Revive our hearts—help us view others through your gospel lens with hearts wide open. Father allow the joy we find in you to bubble up and overflow as hope to others as we comfort and strengthen our sisters. We praise you Lord for your continued faithfulness—your transforming grace—for merciful salvation. In Jesus’ holy name Amen!

The following artcile explores ways we can comfort and strengthen each other:

Strengthen Your Sisters by Christina Fox

The four of us met every week for several years. It was a time to share, encourage, pray, and grow together in Christ. Those girls were the ones to whom I revealed the wounds, scars, and sins in my heart. Along the way, we discovered that we needed each other in the journey of faith. We learned that in sharing our stories of God’s redemptive work in our lives with one another that we were encouraged in our own trials. We experienced what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:3-4…

The remainder of this article can be read here: Strengthen Your Sisters | The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Additional resources:

10 Ways to Meet Women Where They Are | Connect to Women’s Ministry

Encouraging Fellow Strugglers | Mentoring Moments for Christian Women

I want a friend like that! | True Woman

This Mother’s Day | What is the Goal of Motherhood?

10 May

norman prayer_opt“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15b

On this Mother’s Day we celebrate all women; mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, aunts and pray whatever season of life you are in and whatever unique burdens you shoulder, you are counting all as joy (James 1:2)!

We are often tempted to observe what transpires in other families on celebratory holidays, measuring ourselves by how the cards, gifts, and acknowledgements we receive compare. We tie our expectations to tangible wordly goods, believing the enemy who taunts us with feelings of inadequacy. We forget there is no one-size-fits-all ideal mom and the bar we set for ourselves is too often unnattainably high. We allow mistakes and shortcomings to consume us instead of focusing on the new mercies and clean slate offered through our gracious and loving Savior— Jesus Christ every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

He is our gift received, along with renewed strength, daily. One who removes self criticism, comparisons, failures, regret, and mommy guilt, covering them in His own blood; replacing the joy thieves with strength and endurance — reminding us there is joy in this imperfect journey and that it’s not about us — it’s about holiness; growing in the image of Christ (2 Peter 3:18).

The following article offers up some thoughts and ideas about shifting our way of thinking about the goals of motherhood:

 

What is the Goal of Motherhood? Excerpt By Gloria Furman

Motherhood is a piece of evidence of God’s triumphant agenda to give life despite the curse of death. It is a gift that points us to Jesus. As life marches on to the praise of God’s glory, we see a riveting display of the grace of our Father, who will fulfill His promise to give His Son an inheritance of nations to the praise of His glory. There’s no greater goal than that.

Read the article in its entirety here: What is the Goal of Motherhood | True Woman

Further reading:
This Mother’s Day Don’t Worry | The Gospel Coalition
How to Find the “Happy” in Happy Mother’s Day | Girl Talk Home

Grace Poured Out | Wash in the Waters Again

3 May
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“and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also–not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” —1 Peter 3:21

The scope and magnitude of God’s love for us is most spectacularly displayed in the saving work of His own son, Jesus, on the cross. It is there in the torturous death of Jesus, blood spilled on behalf of humanity to satisfy the wrath of God (propitiation), taking upon Himself our sin and the sins of the whole world and giving us His righteousness (double imputation), conquering death when He rose from the grave (resurrection); His infinite grace is shown.

“…the aim of it all is to display the fullness of the glory of Christ, which is the glory of God. Everything that Christ did, and everything that he reveals about himself, and everything that Paul and the other biblical writers teach about Christ, aim at this—that the world would see and savor and show the fullness of the glory of Christ” John Piper, Justification and the Diminishing Work of Christ.

Mercy and grace at the cross highlight the glory of God, revealing His character. It is to this we are drawn. We come with empty hands, souls aching, laid bare, surrendered and through faith we are forgiven, made new, clothed in righteousness we could do nothing to earn or deserve, and adopted as sons and daughters of the King.

“Christ says, ‘Give me all of you!!! I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work. I want YOU!!! ALL OF YOU!! I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man or woman, but to KILL IT! No half measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather I want the whole tree out! Hand it over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them ALL over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self—in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart.’” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

We celebrate the grace of Christ and proclaim His glory through baptism. We announce to our brothers and sisters we have trusted in Christ, our old self has died.

“It’s what happens spiritually when we baptise people we take them under the water, they die and they’re brought back up, and they have this visceral temporal experience of what it meant when they became a Christian” Pastor Bob Burris, It is Well with My Soul.

Baptism serves as a celebration, proclamation,and an illustration of what it means to be a Christian not just for the person immersed but for the church as a Gospel reflection.

“Where there is genuine faith on the part of the person being baptized, and where the faith of the church that watches the baptism is stirred up and encouraged by this ceremony, then the Holy Spirit certainly does work through baptism…” Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology

Reflect on your own baptism in when you need a reminder of the grace of God. The following article examines how baptism keeps God’s presence near, “…as a means of grace throughout our Christian lives as we watch, with faith, the baptisms of others and renew in our minds the riches of the reality of our identity in Christ…”

Wash In the Waters Again by David Mathis

Visible words. That was the Reformers’ term for baptism and the Lord’s Supper.In complement to the spoken words of gospel preaching, these twin rhythms of the gathered church are dramatizations of the grace of God. These “visible words” rehearse for us the center of our faith through images and actions in the God-given pictures of washing, touching, smelling, and tasting. Alongside preaching, they reveal to us again and again the very heart of the gospel we profess and aim to echo. They are enacted “signs,” pointing to realities beyond themselves.

But these ordinances are not just signs, but “seals.” They confirm to us not just that God has done something salvific for mankind, but that it applies to me in particular. The gospel is not only true in general, but specifically for me. And when a Bible-believing, gospel-cherishing church applies the seal to me, it can be a great grounds of assurance that I myself am included in the rescued people of Christ.

In this way, baptism and the Lord’s Supper serve to mark us out as the church, distinct from the world, and are part of what it means for the new covenant to be a covenant — with acts of both initiation and ongoing fellowship, both inauguration and renewal.

View the remainder of the article here…Wash In the Waters Again | Desiring God.

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