Tag Archives: following Christ

Maundy Thursday | A New Commandment

17 Apr

jesus-washes-feet_opt

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” —John 13:34.

On the Thursday before Jesus was crucified, in an act of humility and love Jesus was on His knees washing the feet of His disciples. The Creator of the Universe, the Author of Life performed the lowly task of washing clean the dirt and muck from callused feet seeing past the filth and grime. This simple act was full of meaning; a foreshadowing of the morrow.

On this day Jesus gave a new commandment shedding new light on “loving your neighbor as yourself,” (Leviticus 19:18).

“What makes the command new is that because of Jesus’ passion there is a new standard, a new example of love.There was never any love like the dying love of Jesus. It is tender and sweet (13:33). It serves (13:2-17). It loves even unto death (13:1). Jesus had nothing to gain from us by loving us. There was nothing in us to draw us to him. But he loved us still, while we were yet sinners.” —Kevin DeYoung, Maundy Thursday.

Jesus desired for us to love our brothers and sisters out of the depths of an overflowing love no matter the cost (John 15:13)…to go low in foot-washing-like service to others, be willing to risk everything, our lives, our privileges…to love because we are “members of His body,” (Ephesians 5:30) and like Christ who was sustained “by the joy set before Him,” (Hebrews 12:2) we too shall be stengthened by the indescribable joy found at the cross when we love out of faithfulness, obedience, and the desire to bring glory to God.

Additional Resources:

The Gospel Coalition | When Jesus Said Farewell

Desiring God | The Greatest Prayer in the World (Maundy Thursday)

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

Spiritual Disciplines For the Purpose of Godliness — Journaling | 1st in Series

9 Jan

journal“Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” 1 Timothy 4:7b NASB

“By divine design we are aliens…living in dramatic and serious times” (Pastor Burris, “Why We Don’t Belong Here“).

As believing Christians we live in a country increasingly hostile to the road we choose to travel as we seek after God (John 15:18). 

“We have become outsiders just as Jesus was an outsider. We are marginal in our culture because Jesus is marginal. The cross is the ultimate expression of marginalization and to follow him is to take up our cross daily. It is daily to experience marginalization and hostility. Being on the margins is normal Christian experience” (Tim Chester, “Everyday Church”). 

The prospect of negative public opinion or living on the fringe of society may frighten us into donning a veneer of secularization in order to fit in. A comfortable complacency may attach itself impeding one’s  pursuit of holiness and desire to know God. This is in direct opposition to what we are called to be —  obedient and holy (1 Peter 1:15-16); glorifying; a reflection of our Lord and Father to those who do not know Him (Matthew 5:15-16). We cannot become Christlike under our own power rather, God provides the impetus for change and spiritual maturity.

“The Spiritual Disciplines…promote spiritual growth. They are habits of devotion and experiential Christianity that have been practiced by the people of God since biblical times” (Don Whitney, “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life”).

The spiritual disciplines we choose change us from the inside when we hone our focus and dependent on the Holy Spirit”…place ourselves before God…” (Whitney), allowing Him to do a good work in us. One of the most introspective disciplines is journaling. Pouring out our hearts to the Lord and trusting Him with our feelings (Psalm 62:8) allows us to articulate a contemporaneous account of where we are in our faith walk. Creating a snapshot of a moment in time allows us to see the course God is charting and resulting changes. 

“The pursuit of holiness is a joint venture between God and the Christian.  No one can attain any degree of holiness without God working in his life, but just as surely no one will attain it without effort on his own part” (Jerry Bridges, “The Pursuit of Holiness”).

Journaling can help us stay rooted in Christ by serving as a visual reminder of our goals and the need for continued spiritual discipline  maintenance. The following excerpt offers additional journaling assistance:

Journaling as a Spiritual Discipline, Larissa Arnault

The new year is finally here, which means resolutions might be on your mind. In lieu of a typical goal like losing 10 pounds, how about adding the practice of journaling to your 2014? Here are a few reasons to put pen to paper.

Leave it all on the page. When I have lots of thoughts dancing around my head, whether it’s a to-do list or how upset I am by the conversation I had earlier with so-and-so, putting what’s in my mind on paper unclutters my brain and frees me to think of other things or, even better, sleep. Giving those thoughts to God can help you sort things out in a way that surpasses your own understanding.

Let your thankfulness flow. If daily thought pouring feels like too much of a commitment, try keeping a gratitude journal. My dear friend Anne Marie sent me one last year, and I loved filling in the blanks each day. The daily deed is simple—write a list of five things you are thankful for. Mine ranged from the hot water in my shower to good conversations to God’s provision and everything in between. When you’re mindful of things you’re grateful for each day, your outlook on life changes dramatically.

Lift up your prayers. Journaling is a great way to pray. The act allows you to quiet yourself and hear from God in a more structured setting. It also helps you stay awake if you’re prone to falling asleep while praying (like me). Maybe you’ll have an epiphany as your pen glides over the page. Or perhaps you’ll look back over the past month and see God speaking to you a bit more clearly. Either way, journaling can provide divine perspective.

Look back. Writing down goals increases your chances of achieving them, so set yours on paper and hold yourself accountable. I like to write down a fun list of things to do (big and small) on my birthday—one goal for each year of my life. Last year’s list included paddle boarding, buying balloons, and being a better listener. Use the documented pages to reflect on how far you’ve come, and keep track of what you’d like to do next.

Let it all hang out. You can truly be yourself on the pages of a journal. Say what’s really on your mind. Go ahead and word vomit all over the page. YELL IN ALL CAPS IF YOU NEED TO. Cover the page with tears if they flow. Dot all your I’s with little hearts if you’re so inclined. No matter what the pages end up saying, God can handle it.

Excerpted from: LifeWay Women All Access — Journaling as a Spiritual Discipline.

Additional Resources:

The Hole in Our Holiness – Kevin DeYoung

The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap Between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness, Kevin DeYoung

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald Whitney

You Can Change, Tim Chester

The Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry Bridges

Growing in holiness | Mars Hill Church

How to Read the Whole Bible in 2014 | Develop an Intentional Devotional Plan

30 Dec

bible

“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God'” Matthew 4:4

Feast on the Word of God and intentionally satisfy a soul craving spiritual sustenance. Make and keep a daily appointment with the Lord and experience the kind of fulfillment only He can provide. Pray before you begin that the eyes of your heart will be open (Ephesians 1:18) in order to achieve a fuller understanding of the Word. Incorporate the spiritual discipline of journaling into your plan and write down passages to pray through. Keep track of how God is working in your life throughout the year. Seek encouragement and share with others in your church family or life group. Fill up on the Word to quell the hunger and quench the thirst of a soul crying out for the Lord. 

How to Read the Whole Bible in 2014 by Justin Taylor

Do you want to read the whole Bible? The average person reads 200 to 250 words per minute; there are about 775,000 words in the Bible; therefore it takes less than 10 minutes a day to read the whole Bible in a year.For those who like details, there’s a webpage devoted to how long it takes to read each book of the Bible. And if you want a simple handout that has every Bible book with a place to put a check next to every chapter, go here. Audio Bibles are usually about 75 hours long, so you can listen to it in just over 12 minutes a day.

The remainder of the article, which includes great resources and tips can be viewed here: How to Read the Whole Bible in 2014 – Justin Taylor

Additional resources:

Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > Read the Bible in a Year

A Bible Reading Plan for Readers – The Gospel Coalition Blog

Want to Read the Bible through in 2014? – Mentoring Moments

Bible Reading Plans for 2014 by Nathan W. Bingham | Ligonier Ministries Blog

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

 

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