Tag Archives: trusting God

We Don’t Have to Read the Book or See the Movie to Know Heaven Is Real

24 Jan

glory2“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” John 14:2

The world places their hope in pop cultural near death experiences seeking to believe something eternal and glorious exists after death. The desire to have the “ears tickled” by the smoke and mirrors of crafty “myths” leads to a slippery slide down the road of junk ideology designed to entertain and muddle the “truth” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

God’s infallible Word makes it clear Heaven is real and as believers our citizenship (Philippians 3:20) and hope (Colossians 1:5) is there. A child’s purported account should not make it more so to believing Christians who place their trust and confidence in the Lord.

We Don’t Have to Read the Book or See the Movie to Know Heaven Is Real by Nancy Guthrie

“Have you read Heaven Is for Real? ” I’ve been asked this question more times than I can count. So let me just tell you—no, I haven’t. I was actually asked by the publisher to read the manuscript to offer an endorsement before the book came out, but I declined. And clearly the lack of an endorsement from me has not hindered sales.

I’ve been hoping that the hoopla surrounding this book and so many of the other” died and went to heaven and came back” books would end. And then I went to the theater over the holidays and saw previews for the upcoming movie based on Heaven Is for Real. So before you ask if I am going to see the movie, let me just tell you—no, I’m not.

The remainder of this article can be viewed here: We Don’t Have to Read the Book or See the Movie to Know Heaven Is Real – The Gospel Coalition Blog.

Other articles to ponder:

As citizens of heaven | Mars Hill Church

What Is Heaven Like? | The Resurgence

Citizens of Heaven | Desiring God

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

 

 

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.

Resolving Conflict: Don’t Make It About You |Make it About God

9 Aug

conflict“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” –Colossians 3:13

Easier said then done sometimes right? Forgiveness is not easy especially when our sense of self preservation kicks in to guard from further hurt. We are not imbued with magnanimity it is something we have to work hard to engage. God wants us to forgive so we need to obey and reflect His mercy and grace even when we want to hold on to the slight and make it all about us. When we refuse to forgive we risk allowing the anger to turn into bitterness and resentment.

“The person who is living by grace sees this vast contrast between his own sins against God and the offenses of others against him. He forgives others because he himself has been so graciously forgiven. He realizes that, by receiving God’s forgiveness through Christ, he has forfeited the right to be offended when others hurt him”

–Jerry Bridges Transforming Grace p. 44-45.

It is not about us…

Resolving Conflict: Don’t Make It About You

“If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone” Romans 12:18 (HCSB)

A LifeWay Research study revealed that people claim to be prepared to resolve conflict between themselves and others. According to a survey of more than 1,000 American adults, nearly 85 percent somewhat or strongly agree they are prepared for such resolution.

But how prepared are they, really?

Ranking seven options, respondents suggested “Go to a higher authority,” “Avoid the problem and hope it goes away,” and “Attempt to fully satisfy yourself and others” less than half the time. “Give in to the other person” and “Pretend there is no conflict” were suggested more than half the time, with “Find a middle ground” mentioned nearly 75 percent of the time.

This deeper questioning reveals a truly problematic thought process of how conflict can be resolved, though. The answer mentioned most often – more than 80 percent of the time – was “Stand up for yourself.”

Experience will teach almost anyone who cares to learn that wanting our own way – selfishness – is the cause of conflict, not the solution to it. It seems people who insist on their own way will impede peace rather than pave the way for it.

The Bible addressed this centuries ago. In the New Testament book of Philippians we read, “If there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” Phil. 2:1-4, HCSB.

Notice how the emphasis on unity in verse 2 depends on the attitudes mentioned in verses 3 and 4: humility and preferring others before ones self.

The attitudes of humility and putting others first are at direct odds with standing up for yourself as a means of resolving conflict. If humility is a means of deflecting conflict in the beginning, it is a necessary ingredient to resolving it.

As followers of Christ we must be peacemakers in our families, our small groups and our families of faith. As we pour over Gods Word together let us make sure we remain humble, treating others as we hope to be treated, and considering others before ourselves. To put it another way, echoing the words of the Apostle Paul, “Make your attitude that of Christ Jesus.” When we do, there will be more unity and less conflict.

via Resolving Conflict.

Prepare for Martyrdom | Step Out Boldly in Faith

6 Aug

bold“If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” –1 Peter 4:14-16

mar·tyr

/ˈmärtər/
Noun
A person who is killed because of their religious or other beliefs.

The etymology or origin of the word martyr is interesting. The old English martyr, from Late Latin martyr, from Doric Greek martyr, literally translates as “witness.” In that context it seems especially appropriate considering the number of early Christians persecuted for witnessing –sharing the Gospel.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? –Matthew 16:24-26

“Every believer in the true God MUST be a potential martyr” –Pastor Burris

What can you do? Pick up your cross and boldly follow Him! From August 4, 2013 TACC sermon:

  1. Be the church: holy, humble, honest, helpful, homeless (Daniel 6:13; Jeremiah 29:7; 2 Chronicles 26; Hebrews 11:13-16; 13:14).
  2. Seek God (Daniel 9; 1 Kings 8:46-50; Psalm 137:5,6; 132:13-18).
  3. Believe in the Sovereign LORD (Daniel 6:4, 10, 13, 16, 20, 22-23).

“Haven’t we all prayed the following prayer? Lord, we pray for safety as we travel. We ask that no one gets hurt on this trip. Please keep everyone safe until we return, and bring us back safely. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen. The exact wording may vary a bit, but that is the standard prayer we recite before leaving on mission trips, retreats, vacations, and business trips.

We are consumed by safety. Obsessed with it, actually. Now, I’m not saying it is wrong to pray for God’s protection, but I am questioning how we’ve made safety our highest priority. We’ve elevated safety to the neglect of whatever God’s best is, whatever would bring God the most glory, or whatever would accomplish His purposes in our lives and in the world.”

Excerpt from Crazy Love by Francis Chan, page 133

I’m Beyond Hurt >> from Proverbs 31 Ministries

2 Feb

Melissa Taylor

I’m Beyond Hurt
Melissa Taylor
February 1, 2012

“All your words are true…” Psalm 119:160a (NIV)

I’m beyond hurt.

I’m beyond confused.

I’m beyond stressed.

I’m beyond tired…physically, emotionally and mentally.

I could go on and on. But then I would be beyond depressed.

When feeling like this, I realize I have to get my mind out of the gutter and anchor myself on God’s promises.

I have to be intentional to focus on a different set of “beyond” statements or I quickly find myself in a pit. I know this from experience. Even if the “beyond” statements above are true, there are others that are also true.

I am beyond blessed: From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. John 1:16*

I am beyond strong: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Click here to learn more of God’s promises and read the rest of the article:  I’m Beyond Hurt

Unfailing Compassions > Kyria Blog

1 Dec

Unfailing Compassions

The truth behind God’s compassions and offering my own

by LaTonya Taylor

A couple months ago my friend Rosalyn asked me to sing soprano on a recording of her jazz-inflected arrangement of the 1923 hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”

As I sang the first verse of the hymn—the verse that includes the phrase, “Thou changest not/ Thy compassions they fail not”—I found myself emphasizing the word compassions. Even though I sang the other portions of the verse slightly differently each time I recorded, one thing was always the same: I’d sung the word compassions more expansively than in the traditional rendering of the hymn.

A few weeks later I still find myself humming Rosalyn’s arrangement and thinking about the idea of compassions.

I know that the line I sang comes from the prophet Jeremiah’s reflection on why his people could trust God, even after the fall of Jerusalem: because God is unfailingly, renewably compassionate. I know too that as a child of God, I am to be compassionate.

Yet my understanding of that term has been fairly limited. I’ve only thought of “compassion” as singular, and with humanitarian connotations: it implies a willingness to respond to poverty or calamity with resources. A secondary meaning would be akin to deep sympathy.

As I think more about what it means be conformed to Christ’s image, I’m facing an ugly reality: My compassions fail frequently, and have hard limitations.

Click here to read the rest of the article: Kyria Blog: Unfailing Compassions.

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Seeds of the Miraculous

5 Nov

God is purposeful and all-powerful. He has a plan for the history of the universe, and in executing it he governs and controls all created realities. Without violating the nature of things, and without at any stage infringing upon human free will, God acts in, with, and through his creatures to do everything that he wishes to do exactly as he wishes to do it. By this sovereign, overruling action he achieves his goals.

– J.I.Packer – Great Power

Click here to read “Seeds of the Miraculous”, a devotional post by Diane M. Hale at Mentoring Moments for Christian Women

Will Faith Be Enough Today? | True Woman

1 Nov

Will Faith Be Enough Today?

Posted on 10.19.11 by Elyse Fitzpatrick

I woke up this morning troubled by yesterday’s failures. In fact, I spent most of the night last night trying to drown out the voice of my inner slave driver who incessantly told me that I’m still the same and that I might as well give it up. More confessions: The truth is that I wasn’t primarily troubled this morning about my sin before God. Yes, of course, there was that, but I was mostly concerned about my reputation before others. The question, “Why did I say that?” led as it always does to, “I might as well give up.” It was this refrain that repeated in my head all night long: “Nothing ever changes. Everything will always be the same. You’re no different now then you were decades ago. Just give up.”

Of course, I knew that the ways I had sinned by not loving my neighbor, by trying to impress others, was ultimately tied to the gospel, but I was having trouble getting there.

Click here to read the rest of the article:  True Woman | Will Faith Be Enough Today?.

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