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Love So Amazing, So Divine | Poured Out, Overflowing

17 Jan

 lovegodloveothers

“We love because He first loved us” 1 John 4:19

“God chose the moment…He sat His love upon you…He sent His Spirit to open your eyes to see the beauty of Christ…[to] take you for Himself” (Pastor Burris, The Affection of God in the Soul of the Church).

When the dank dark corners of our heart are flooded with the light of the knowledge of the glory of God we see in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6) and the hidden corners are illuminated as we are chosen to Him; the goodness, kindness, faithfulness, and graciousness of the Lord shines through; made visible to a heart no longer blind. His Word ceases to be unintelligible, revealing cogent scripture we can examine and savor; a feast for a newly awakened palate. 

“…a mighty power from God coming upon their souls, conforming them to God, addicting them to God, uniting them with God, making them center on God,…The Spirit that is from God suits us to God and to divine things and makes us savor the things of God and take delight in them.” (John Howe, via Ray Ortlund, Has He Given You New Life).

As believers filled with the Lord’s love from everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 103:17) our desires change. We become preoccupied with the Gospel and crave spiritual sustenance with hunger pains welling up from the soul only the Word can quell. 

“I can’t stop thinking about it, talking about it, writing about it, reading about it, wrestling with it, reveling in it, standing on it, and thanking God for it. For better or for worse, my focus has become myopic. My passion has become singular.” (Tullian Tchividian, I’m Addicted).

As God’s own possession filled with love poured out, the scope and magnitude of His love via propitiation spectacularly displayed upon the cross creates a spiritual affection for Him and those who belong to Him. We cannot remain comfortable, complacent, apathetic, and outside of community in the shadow of such enormity nor can we not love fellow Christians deeply and intensely. Seek revival; transform and renew your mind; immerse yourselves in the Bible memorizing, meditating, reading, studying and praying scripture so as to truly know the love of God. Ache to love Him more; you cannot love too much. 

The following article offers a love expository and posits love is the most important pursuit:

Love Is Not a Verb, by Jon Bloom

Based on the following statements by Jesus, I would say that love is the most important thing to pursue this year.

[The greatest commandment:] You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37–39

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35

However, we must be clear on what love actually is or else we will find ourselves lost in the pursuit of it and lose our resolve. Love Is Not Only a Verb…

Keep reading here: Love Is Not a Verb | Desiring God.

Additional Resources:

The Affection of God in the Soul of the Church

Love So Amazing, So Divine | Poured Out, Overflowing

It’s Wise to Hold Your Tongue|Taste Your Words|Measure Your Response

19 Nov

tasting_words“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble” Proverbs 21:23 (ESV)

It takes little effort to open your mouth and give way to whatever wants to gush out. Controlling the tongue requires concentration, diligence, maturity, and wisdom (Proverbs 17:27-28). The tongue, left to its own devices, can spew words that ensnare us (Proverbs 6:2) and pierce others (Proverbs 12:18). Thoughtless rambling can lead to sin (Proverbs 10:19) or even death (Proverbs 18:21). Precious friends once offended by careless vitriol, disparaging remarks, sarcastic comments, or whispered tales could be lost forever (Proverbs 18:19). 

think2We have become a people who are uncomfortable with silent pauses and we often charge into this absence of noise with poorly thought out words that ring like a cacophony of clashing weapons and hurt similarly. If we think before we speak (Proverbs 15:28) insalubrious speech can be averted and supplanted with thanksgiving and affirmation for the work God is doing in someone’s life. In this past Sunday’s sermon Pastor Burris said we must remember, “The most flawed believer in our midst is a work of God’s grace.” A good work began at the cross and if our focus is held there it is a simpler task to extend grace. 

Ten Times It’s Wise to Hold Your Tongue

I talk too much. Way, way too much.

But God is committed to teaching me when to hold my tongue.

With that in mind, let me share ten situations with you where I’m learning it’s better to refrain from talking:

  • When you have no idea what to say

Proverbs 17:28: “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”

  • When you’re wrongly accused

1 Peter 2:23: “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return.”

Isaiah 53:7: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth.”

  • When you’re mad

Proverbs 25:28: “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.”

  • When you’re confused about life

Lamentations 3:25–28: “The Lord is good for those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord . . . Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him; let him put his mouth to the dust—there may yet be hope.”

  • When you wouldn’t want someone else to find out you said it

Luke 12:3: “Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.”

  • When you don’t really mean it

Proverbs 3:28: “Do not say to your neighbor ‘Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it,’ when you have it with you.”

  • When you can’t stop yearning for the good old days

Ecclesiastes 7:10: “Say not, why were the former days better than these? For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.”

  • When you have a lot to do and you don’t like it

Philippians 2:14: “Do all things without grumbling or complaining.”

  • When the timing is wrong

Proverbs 25:11: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in setting of silver.”

  • When you don’t have anything to say that gives grace

Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear it.”

Excerpted from  True Woman | Ten Times It’s Wise to Hold Your Tongue by Lina Abujamra

Additional links:

Shut Up and Listen | Today’s Christian Woman

Keeping It Real: The Truth about Authenticity | Her.meneutics |(Part 2)

12 Nov

authentic_christianity_logo

“These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” –1 Peter 1:7

What does authentic Christianity mean? The following definition from Sharon Hodde Miller offers a starting point,

“First, authenticity is a discipline that requires time. It cannot be flipped on like a light switch, and it is not maintained without work…second…it can only be had in Christ.”  

Miller posits the idea that authenticity is rooted in Christ.

God opens our eyes to our sins, to the self-deception, to the things in our lives that are not of him. Then he transforms us, conforming us to the only perfect human being who ever lived. In Christ, we stop operating according to the constraints of social expectations, personal insecurities, and lies. Rather than live in ways that are subhuman, we finally live in a manner worthy of God’s vision for humanity.”

Irenaeus (an early Church apologist and theologian) noted, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive; and to be alive consists in beholding God.” Christian authenticity is expressed when the, “…divine life of God living in our soul…” (Pastor Burris) produces fundamental changes.

“There are no real personalities apart from God. Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self. Sameness is to be found most among the most ‘natural’ men, not among those who surrender to Christ. How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been; how gloriously different are the saints.

But there must be a real giving up of the self. You must throw it away ‘blindly’ so to speak. Christ will indeed give you a real personality; but you must not go to Him for the sake of that. As long as your own personality is what you are bothering about you are not going to Him at all. The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether.” –C.S. Lewis

We are made new and know God when we have the nature of God indwelling that accompanies believing the truth. We desire to live in fellowship with others who share this phenomena. We seek to magnify His presence through the honing of spiritual disciplines (Bible intake, meditation, fasting, prayer, and worship). Our focus and desires change and this is exuded in a real way as we seek to glorify God and share this Good News with others.

The following excerpt outlines 5 points related to authenticity:

(1) Authenticity proclaims the reality of the Bible.

In Numbers 13, God commands Moses to send 12 spies into the land of Canaan. Forty days later, they come back with fruit and a report.

Ten of the men tell it like they see it: fortified cities, strong people, and a fear of being squashed like bugs. Two of the men tell it like God sees it: “Let us go up at once and take possession for we are well able to overcome it.”

If the spies came to our churches today, which group of men would be praised as “authentic”?

Being authentic means that God and his Word define what is real.

Last Sunday, I had an imperfect experience of corporate worship. The kids were squirmy, the sanctuary was hot, and my mind wandered. That’s the truth.

But the Scripture adds an even greater truth to my experience. God, the Creator, declares that worship is good. Therefore, by faith, I declare it good too.

Whatever we say about our experiences, our report must also reflect God’s truth.

(2) Authenticity doesn’t excuse sin.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s phenomenally popular Eat, Pray, Love was the memoir of a woman seeking an authentic life. Its first page bears the motto: “Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth.”

But for Gilbert, living authentically includes adultery, hedonism, blasphemy, and so on.

Gilbert’s type of authenticity is easy for Christians to reject. Her sins are “obvious.” But are we on guard against more subtle sins?

Recently, in “The Double-Reach of Self-Righteousness,” Tullian Tchividjian cautioned a generation of Christians who say, “That’s right, I know I don’t have it all together and you think you do; I’m know I’m not good and you think you are. That makes me better than you.'” Pride is not authentic.

Selfishness, love of men’s praise, lack of joy can all lurk, undetected, around our authentic edges.

I have a friend who wants me to be authentic. She wants to know about my arguments with my husband, the sin of my children, and what I dislike about church. For her, authenticity seems to involve not only removing my own mask but exposing the sins of others, too. This is unkind. Everything that is done in the name of authenticity must also be done in the name of a holy Christ.

(3) Authenticity seeks the good of the Body.

In 1969, Hillary Rodham (now Clinton) gave a speech at Wellesley’s commencement. Her remarks champion authentic conversation about women’s struggles in a male-dominated world.

I have to admire her kind of authenticity, for she was promoting authenticity for the sake of a common cause. She wanted these women to be authentic so that all women could have a better life.

Christian authenticity is likewise other-focused.

We live transparently, not to unload our own burdens and thus walk more lightly alone, but to intentionally share the burdens of others and carry them to the same grace that liberated us.

(4) Authenticity honors wisdom.

Christians seeking to be authentic rightly value humility. We recognize that we are broken.

But sometimes, in our quest to avoid the appearance of pride, we question our God-given ability to shine the light of wisdom.

Singer-songwriter Christa Wells expresses this in a song: “So friends don’t take me wrong on those days when I sound too sure / Of the things I say.” Wells writes insightful meditations on the Christian life, but she is intentionally tentative.

This habit has a long root in the spirit of the postmodern age, in which all truth is elusive and dogmatism is the unforgiveable sin.

But the godly life is not merely a pooling of experiences; it is the confident application of God’s truth to individual circumstances. We have the Greater-Than-Solomon, who gives wisdom liberally to all who ask. We honor the Giver by using his valuable gift. Seeking wisdom and speaking wisdom must have a place in an authentic life.

(5) Authenticity points ahead to a perfected future.

Every pilgrimage has a final destination. Christians who are authentic about the struggles of this life should also be authentic about the perfection of the next.

In Lewis’s The Great Divorce, travelers from hell step off a bus onto heaven’s grass. It is so razor-sharp, so real, that it cuts their tender feet: “The men were as they had always been … it was the light, the grass, the trees that were different; made of some different substance, so much solider than things in our country that men were ghosts by comparison.” (p 21)

For Christians, our true self is found in Christ, and we are on a pilgrimage to become more like him. As 1 John 3:2 says: “We are now children of God, and what we will be has not yet appeared.” A greater reality awaits.

So, like Israelites singing the Psalms of Ascent, we ought to look up from our dusty feet and ahead to the even more authentic glories of Zion and her King.

That’s for real.

Excerpted from: Keeping It Real: The Truth about Authenticity | Her.meneutics | Christianitytoday.com

Additional links:

Real, Authentic Authenticity | Her.meneutics | Christianitytoday.com

Taft Avenue Community Church / Resources / Sermons

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Pilgrimage Growth Guide): Donald S Whitney: 9781576830277: Amazon.com: Books

 

 

Keeping It Real: The Truth about Authenticity | Her.meneutics |(Part 1)

8 Nov

authenti“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” –Matthew 5:6

Are your desires for the Lord and His kingdom strong or are you walking with one foot in the world, easily pleased by other things?

“We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” –C.S. Lewis

Keeping It Real: The Truth about Authenticity

Do we Christians even understand what the buzzword means?

I was standing in the kitchen, talking to my husband, when he began to yawn. As most wives would, I teased him for his insensitivity. He replied, “I’m just being authentic.” In case you haven’t noticed, the “authentic” label is not just for antiquities or ethnic restaurants anymore. One Thousand Gifts author Ann Voskamp recently posted on her blog: “I have felt it—how no one wants anything of anyone but to be honest and real and to trust enough to take off the mask.”

I have felt it, too. I am neither 20-something nor the least bit trendy. Still, authenticity has worked its way into my conservative evangelical life, making a regular appearance in my conversations with fellow Christians. Chances are you know someone who’s blogging or talking about being authentic: authentic life, authentic relationships, authentic community, authentic worship.

Christianity Today’s website designates “Authenticity” as one topic to classify its articles. Amazon.com sells more than 100 books under the search term “authentic Christian.”

Authentic is one of those slippery, know-it-when-you-see-it buzzwords. When I queried Andy Crouch, CT editor at large and author of Culture Making, about the word’s origins, he pointed me author Keith Miller. “His 1984 book The Taste of New Wine was a best-selling Christian distillation of both 1970s encounter groups and AA-style spirituality. I’m pretty sure his work was the catalyst by which authenticity became a specifically Christian aspiration.”

So authenticity is transparency and admission of failure. It’s the rejection of pretense and hypocrisy. It’s truth-telling about all areas of life.

I believe Christians can do authenticity best. We serve a God who is always truthful. Never lies. Never deceives. Has, in fact, defeated the Father of Lies. But I fear that without biblical thought, we may accept an inferior and postmodern version of tell-all, tolerate-all authenticity.

Excerpted from Megan Hill’s article :Keeping It Real: The Truth about Authenticity | Her.meneutics | Christianitytoday.com.

“Harmless” Gossip is a Myth|How to Stop Church-Killing Gossip

5 Nov

gossip

“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts” –Proverbs 18:8

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? Nothing could be further from the truth when one is a victim of gossip, rumors, slander, backbiting, talebearing, reviling, railing, or innuendo. Gossip can be covert or overt…true or untrue. Once out it is propelled along like an insidious virus reaching epidemic proportion. Is it any wonder so called news, YouTube videos, Facebook quotes, blog posts, and tweets that reach “trending” status are characterized as “viral.” 

“The Gospel of Jesus Christ defeats gossip…Jesus was a “trustworthy man,” someone to whom you could entrust your deepest, most shameful secrets, and know they were as safe as can be. He still is. And we can learn to be trustworthy too (Proverbs 11:13)” (Matthew C. Mitchell, Resisting Gossip).

We can follow Christ’s example. Believe the best about others. Speak positively; words of affirmation are healing and edifying. Talk to ____ not about____. Model graciousness. Exalt the Lord. Search your heart. Pray.

My name is Gossip.

I have no respect for justice.

I maim without killing.

I break hearts and ruin lives.

I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age.

The more I am quoted the more I am believed.

I flourish at every level of society.

My victims are helpless.

They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name and no face.

To track me down is impossible.

The harder you try, the more elusive I become.

I am nobody’s friend.

Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same.

I topple governments and ruin marriages.

I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights, heartache and indigestion.

I spawn suspicion and generate grief.

I make innocent people cry in their pillows.

Even my name hisses.

I AM CALLED GOSSIP –Anonymous

How to Stop Church-Killing Gossip

Kent Hughes: “Gossip involves saying behind a person’s back what you would never say to his or her face. Flattery means saying to a person’s face what you would never say behind his or her back.”

Here are some wise words from Dan Phillips for when you hear gossip from someone:

  1. Ask, “Why are you telling me this?” Often, that in itself is such a focusing question that it can bring an end to the whole unpleasant chapter. It has the added benefit that it can help a person whose intentions are as good as his/her judgment is bad.
  2. Ask, “What’s the difference between what you’re telling me and gossip?” See above; same effect, same potential benefits.
  3. Ask, “How is your telling me that thought, that complaint, that information going to help you and me love God and our brothers better, and knit us closer together as a church in Christ’s love?” Isn’t that the goal we should share, every one of us? Won’t it take the working of each individual member Eph. 4:16? Isn’t the watch-out for harmful influences an every-member ministry Heb. 3:12-13; 10:24; 13:12-15?
  4. Ask, “Now that you’ve told me about that, what are you going to do about it?” While the previous two are subjective, this is not. If neither of the previous two questions succeeded in identifying gossip/whispering/sowing-dissension for what they are, the answer to this question will do so. Tip: if the answer is “Pray,” a good response might be “Then why didn’t you do that and leave it there in the first place?”
  5. Say, “Now that you’ve told me about that, you’ve morally obligated me to make sure you talk to ____ about it. How long do you think you need, so I can know when this becomes a sin that I will need to confront in you?” The least that this will accomplish is that you’ll fall off the list of gossips’/whisperers’ favorite venting-spots. The most is that you may head off a church split, division, harmed souls, sidelined Gospel ministry, and waylaid discipleship. Isn’t that worth it?

Ray Ortlund explains what gossip is and why it is sinfully enticing:

  • Gossip is our dark moral fervor eagerly seeking gratification.
  • Gossip makes us feel important and needed as we declare our judgments.
  • It makes us feel included to know the inside scoop.
  • It makes us feel powerful to cut someone else down to size, especially someone we are jealous of.
  • It makes us feel righteous, even responsible, to pronounce someone else guilty.
  • Gossip can feel good in multiple ways. But it is of the flesh, not of the Spirit…
  • Gossip is a sin rarely disciplined but often more socially destructive than the sensational sins.
  • Gossip leaves a wide trail of devastation wherever and however it goes – word of mouth, email, blogging, YouTube.
  • It erodes trust and destroys morale.
  • It creates a social environment of suspicion where everyone must wonder what is being said behind their backs and whether appearances of friendship are sincere.
  • It ruins hard-won reputations with cowardly but effective weapons of misrepresentation.
  • It manipulates people into taking sides when no such action is necessary or beneficial.
  • It unleashes the dark powers of psychological transference, doing violence to the gossiper, to the one receiving the gossip and to the person being spoken against.
  • It makes the Body of Christ look like the Body of Antichrist – destroyers rather than healers.
  • It exhausts the energies we would otherwise devote to positive witness.
  • It robs our Lord of the Church he deserves.
  • It exposes the hostility in our hearts and discredits the gospel in the eyes of the world. Then we wonder why we don’t see more conversions, why “the ground is so hard.”

Excerpted from: How to Stop Church-Killing Gossip – Justin Taylor

Additional links related to gossip and how to avoid it:

Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue: Matthew C. Mitchell: 9781619580763: Amazon.com: Books

Gossip – Ray Ortlund

Pyromaniacs: How to shut down gossip and its nasty kin

Talking to People Rather Than About Them What I Left Out of the Sermon on August 6 – Desiring God

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

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

 

Helping You Down From the Pedestal…

30 Aug

bible3“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” –Colossians 3:16 (ESV)

“In religion and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue, but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.” –Mark Twain

“When leaders begin to thrill you more than Jesus, return your heart to Jesus. Listen to Him, watch Him, follow Him, for He alone brings living water to the desert of your life” –Pastor Koetsier, TACC Sermon Sunday, August 25.

Use discernment to determine if you are spending too much time with the speaker/author of the words and not enough time with the Word itself. 

Helping You Down From the Pedestal…

Posted by Gina Smith

Dear Christian authors, speakers and preachers,

I read your books and listen to you speak. You inspire me. I become a follower. Many have followed you. You have a lot of really good things to say. God is using you. Unfortunately,  I started to hold on to every word you said. I started to think you could say nothing wrong. I quoted you and promoted your writings.  In fact, it makes me feel quite “spiritual” when I mention that I love your writings and am in any way associated with your name. After all, you are highly respected, an “expert”…a theologian. You are, in many ways, a Christian celebrity.  Many would say you are their Christian hero.

Then I read something you said and I questioned it. In fact, I really didn’t agree with it. I studied my bible and found that what you said wasn’t completely biblical. I was shocked. I was disappointed. I shared it with someone and they defended you. How in the world could YOU be wrong?

I looked around and saw other people following you, reading your books, listening to you speak, agreeing with all you say, not wanting to see that you are human and that you are capable of error…

…and that all of us have a tendency to want to follow SOMEONE!

Then I sensed God telling me that I had been wrong to follow a person. That I had put too much stock in what you said. That even though you are godly, and are a gifted teacher and author, the only One that is without error is HIM.

I really don’t believe that you intend for people to follow you. You are very sincere in your attempts to present the truth. That is why I know you will not mind if I don’t agree with everything you write. I know you would want me to compare all you write and preach with the Word of God.

Even though I may not agree with everything you say…I promise that I won’t write you off. You still inspire me in many ways, and yet I will not hold you up as the ultimate authority anymore.

I know you wouldn’t want me to do that anyway.

I’m not disappointed anymore. I know you are only human. In fact, I have helped you climb down from the pedestal I put you on. I feel foolish and humbled for putting you there in the first place!

Sincerely,

Just another imperfect God follower who gets easily distracted by “what is seen” but who is trying to keep her eyes on the One who is not seen!

Acts 17:11 “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. ”

1 Corinthians 3:4 “For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe–as the Lord has assigned to each his task.”

Excerpted from: Real Life Titus 2: Helping You Down From the Pedestal….

Another article to consider: A Critical Mind vs. A Critical Spirit – Trevin Wax

LifeWay Women All Access — 10 Ways to Meet Women Where They Are

23 Aug

life“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” –Matthew 18:20

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen” — 1 Peter 4:8-10

10 Ways to Meet Women Where They Are

By Mary Margaret Collingsworth

We’re constantly trying to find new ways to reach women where they are, and it’s becoming increasingly more difficult. As culture shifts, so do the needs of women. No matter what your age may be, women are still women and we are always going to need other women in our lives. Here are 10 ways to meet women where they are:

  1. Don’t assume anything. We often look at women and assume that they already have enough friends or they don’t have enough time. Looks can be deceiving! Maybe she has a lot of acquaintances, but is longing for a real friend. It could be you!
  2. Ask. Ask her to go places with you and be in your life. The worst thing they can do is say, “No.”
  3. Keep asking. Unless someone tells you to stop asking, keep extending the ask. Sometimes it just takes a few attempts and the right thing to grab her attention. Don’t just quit asking because she turned you down the first time.
  4. Do life together. One of the sweetest parts of friendship is knowing the day-to-day happenings of the other women in your life. The mundane can be, well, mundane, and it  can be so much more rich in community. This also happens in the good, the bad, and the ugly times. Life is messy, and we all need other women in our lives who just know us to walk with us through it all.
  5. Be real. Last week, I heard Pete Wilson (pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville) say, “Authenticity is the cry of all, but the game of few.” While we often claim authenticity, we still try to prove ourselves and often end up being someone we’re not. Just be you, and she’ll love you for it.
  6. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Some of my dearest friends are ones that I initially thought I had nothing in common with, but was so wrong. When my friend Christie and I met while I was in college, she was a newlywed and I learned that she had majored in Math in college. I was single and lets just face it… I still hate math. I literally thought we had nothing in common except for Jesus, but boy, was I wrong! Nine years later, I’m in the airport waiting to board a plane to visit her and her family (5 kids!) and couldn’t love her more, even though our everyday lives look so different.
  7. Pray for her. Don’t just ask how you can pray for her… actually pray for her and pray with her if the Holy Spirit leads you to. Be willing to go to battle with her through prayer, whether she ever knows it or not.
  8. Speak truth. The truth can hurt, but find ways to speak it in love. Be honest, but be kind in how you approach challenging conversations and situations. It can feel risky, but seek the Lord before you speak. Make sure you’re not speaking out of your flesh, but you’re listening to the Holy Spirit. My closest friends are the ones who are willing to speak truth into my life.
  9. Love her right where she is. It’s not our job to fix anyone or change her, but we are called to love her. Be the kind of woman who is steadfast in her life, whether she has a relationship with Jesus or not. Walk with her, pray for her, and just love on her.
  10. Be Jesus to her. Take her a meal. Watch her kids. Listen to her. Cry with her. Laugh with her. Show up. Just be there. When you can, put your needs aside and just be Jesus to her. You don’t have to provide answers or a solution, but point her to the One who can.

At the end of the day, we are called to meet other women at the point of their need. Philippians 2:1-8 paints a beautiful picture of how to treat the people in our lives. If we truly are putting the needs of others above our own, it will show through our actions. Our role is to step in, stand in the gap, and offer them a cold cup of water in the name of Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:42). We often over-complicate things that are really simple, and sometimes it just takes one step in the right direction on our part. It might be hard, but it’s absolutely worth it.

via LifeWay Women All Access — 10 Ways to Meet Women Where They Are.

Don’t Drink the Dirty Water|Drink in the Word of God

20 Aug

bible2

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols” 

–1 John 5:21

“Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind””

–Matthew 22:37

“F. W.Boreham spoke of Christ’s cross as “the climax of immensities, the center of infinities, and the conflux of eternities.”

“The infinite God of the universe –the King, has communicated to us His insurpassable love, sent an inexorable Savior, with unfathomable salvation. Does He really need to do anything else?”

–Pastor Burris Passion 2013: For Our Families 

The scope  and magnitude of God’s love for us is most spectacularly displayed upon the cross. How can we stand lukewarm –leaning on our own self sufficiency and self satisfaction –too comfortable, complacent, and apathetic, in the shadow of such enormity? 

“The essence of lukewarmness is the statement, “I need nothing.” The lukewarm are spiritually self-satisfied. To find out whether you are among that number, don’t look into your head to see if you think that you are needy; rather, look at your prayer life. It doesn’t matter what we think in our head, the test of whether we are in bondage to spiritual self-satisfaction is how earnest and frequent and extended our prayers for change are.

Do you seek the Lord earnestly and often in secret for deeper knowledge of Christ, for greater earnestness in prayer, for more boldness in witness, for sweeter joy in the Holy Spirit, for deeper sorrow for sin, for warmer compassion for the lost, for more divine power to love? Or is the coolness and perfunctoriness of your prayer life Exhibit A that you are spiritually self-satisfied and lukewarm?”

–John Piper adapted from: How to Buy Gold When You’re Broke

Don’t Drink the Dirty Water

LORE FERGUSON

We both drank from the same glass, our mouths leaving marks on opposite sides, a tall drink of water for the parched soul. This is what it is to come to the only Water that will quench our thirst: a shared glass, shared germs, shared experience, but only one Way, one Truth, one Life. Drinking from the same glass.

I tell a friend this morning that I feel straddled between two camps, and I don’t know how long I can sustain this position. I fear being viewed as tepid water. John writes of lukewarm water being spewed from the mouth of God (Rev. 3:16).

We’re drinking from a stagnant pond if we keep returning to the same story over and over and over again hoping to find resolution (Prov. 26:11). We’re drinking from a rusty tap if we don’t purify our words with fire (James 4:8), season them with salt (Col. 4:6), and sweeten them with honey (Ps. 119:103). We’re drinking from contaminated water if we believe that we’re the water others long for.

We’re drinking from water that will never satisfy if we’re not drinking from the Living Water (John 4:7-30).

Some of us come to the well at high noon, fearful to gather our drink where others in our camp might see us. Some of us come in the morning, with the masses, because to stand apart, to stand alone is too much for our approval starved hearts.

But Jesus? Jesus takes our chin in his hand, lifts up our eyes to where our help can only come, and shows us a better way, a more beautiful way. He calls our sin what it is so there is no opportunity to remain lukewarm or ignorant, but he also says the watering hole in which we find ourselves is no thirst-quencher at all.

He is Water and we drink from his glass alone.

Excerpted from: Don’t Drink the Dirty Water – The Gospel Coalition Blog.

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