27 February 2015

This 'n' That

Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. (Matthew 6:1-2)

When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. (Matthew 6:5)

Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. (Matthew 6:16)
This photo has nothing to do with the
discussion, I just thought it was fun.
I think about these warnings often, though surely not often enough. Though they are here found in the context of giving, prayer, and fasting, they nevertheless can be applied across other actions as well. Boasting and bragging proceed naturally out of our fallen nature. All of us, at one time or another, have desired that others would notice our good deeds, wise words, or "humble" behavior. As we are sanctified, we recoil from these sinful desires (think Romans 7), yet that does not mean they cease to tempt us.

Everyone likes to be acknowledged, and while it is not wrong to praise someone for a job well done, should such praise be something we seek, or should we simply be content in knowing that we have served God well by doing something with the motivation of honoring Him?
But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:3-4)

But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:6)

But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; ​and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:17-18)
There, nestled firmly in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, is the answer. Christian, let us be quick to encourage one another, but let us not selfishly seek the praise of men, for it is far better to hear, "Well done," from our heavenly Master, than to hear the same from men whose influence is temporary.

Of course, this does not mean I don't appreciate each encouraging comment that is left here on the blog, or is communicated via some other means, so I thank you again for those! And I hope that you are challenged and blessed by some of these links as you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

20 February 2015

This 'n' That

photo: Blueberries
photopin (license) 
Well, I originally thought I might use a little Lent-themed sarcasm for this post. It always amuses me how the fast food chains capitalize on this time of year with their fish sandwich promotions.  But, I didn't have enough witty comments on that subject, so that idea fell by the wayside.

Then I thought about sharing with you the tale of the man in the office kitchen who was carefully counting his blueberries one morning this week. But...that's really all there is to that story.

So here is something that may interest you. I visited a different church last Sunday. Not in lieu of my regular service (perish the thought!) but in addition to and in partial fulfillment of a homework assignment. One of the most interesting aspects of that service was the choice of music that was played during communion. Are you ready? It was a rendition of this:

Yes. I am serious. And, curiously, this was a mainline denomination that followed a strict liturgy throughout the service. The fact that a church would think this is okay kind of makes you want to weep, doesn't it? Well, that's the effect it had on me. Anyway, that's all I have for today. Time to sit back and enjoy your somewhat skinny week in review (kind of):

17 February 2015

Practicing Righteousness

If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him. (1 John 2:29)
Photo: Wikimedia
The man who is born again, or regenerated, is a holy man. He endeavors to live according to God’s will, to do the things that please God and to avoid the things that God hates. He wishes to continually look to Christ as his example as well as his Saviour and to prove himself to be Christ’s friend by doing whatever He commands. He knows he is not perfect. He is painfully aware of his indwelling corruption. He finds an evil principle within himself that is constantly warring against grace and trying to draw him away from God. But he does not consent to it, though he cannot prevent its presence.

Though he may sometimes feel so low that he questions whether or not he is a Christian at all, he will be able to say with John Newton, “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.” What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?

A.W. Pink, The Attributes of God, (Kindle Locations 1948-1955), Chapel Library, Kindle Edition.

Further Reading
Shattering the Idol of 'Free Will'
The Comfort and Conviction of the Word
Garage Sale God Whispers, Twice Dead, and the Name of Jesus Ignored

14 February 2015

Equipping Eve: Erasing the Grey

This weekend, the movie theaters will be flooded with women who are eager to feed their carnal, fallen flesh with a feast of salacious, sinful immorality, otherwise known as Fifty Shades of Grey. The book-turned-movie that has been dubbed by the secular media as “mommy porn” has captured the lusts of millions, and there is no doubt that this has affected the professing Christian church just as much as it has secular society. Ladies, sisters in Christ, do not allow yourself to be found among the masses.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Phil 4:8)
Fifty Shades of Grey, whether it is the book or the film, does not comply with Paul’s command in the verse above. The story is not true, it is not honorable, it is not right, it most certainly is not pure or lovely, it is not of good repute and she who thinks Fifty Shades of Grey is worthy of any title of excellence or praise is a woman who is indeed deceived.

13 February 2015

This 'n' That

These are chocolate. I want some.

It's Friday the 13th. I've always liked that date. I don't know why, I just think it's a good date. So today ought to be a good day.

And here's a bonus—tomorrow is Valentine's Day. Okay, that's probably only a bonus for some people. For me, it means I can go to CVS on Sunday and stock up on juju heart candy at 50% off. I love those things. I like to think of it as a Valentine gift for my dentist.

While we're on the topic of Valentine's Day, let me pull you men aside for a minute and give you a piece of advice. Who knows, perhaps I've given this same advice in years past. If so, that only means that it's time-tested and true. Ready? Here it is: Don't get her roses. No, men, if God has been good to give you a doctrines-of-grace-gal, then go out and get that Calvinist lady some tulips. And chocolate. Scratch that, make it dark chocolate. Trust me, it's a winning combination. If you're really clever, you'll go the extra mile and get her some chocolate tulips. There, you have your assignment. Now go, and may your tulip tip-toeing be fruitful.

Okay, now that those important instructions have been delivered, let's get back to business. It's been a long, wintry week (for some of us, anyway), so why not curl up with your laptop and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

12 February 2015

Heavenly Heart-Shaped Cow-pies? (Repost)

This is a repost from 14 February 2013/2014. 

Every year as Valentine's Day approaches, I find myself reminded of a quote from Wild at Heart author John Eldredge. (No, this is not in any way an endorsement of that book or of Eldredge). Tim Challies posted this bizarre story from Eldredge's book Beautiful Outlaw back in October 2011, but somehow it just seems more apropos at this particular time of year:

10 February 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey and Christian Women

How many shades of 'grey' are there? Well, when it comes to professing Christian women and the bestselling book, soon-to-be-movie, Fifty Shades of Grey, the various shades between black and white seem to be abundant.

Landon Chapman of Entreating Favor has conducted a survey where he asked professing Christian women to offer their thoughts on reading Fifty Shades and seeing the movie. You may be interested in the results of that survey. View article →

06 February 2015

This 'n' That

See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!
(James 3:5b); photo credit
If you announce that you are working on bridling your tongue, does it actually negate the bridling? Is it the same thing as saying, "God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector" (Luke 18:11)? Is it the spiritual equivalent of ordering a Big Mac with cheese, a super-size order of fries, and two apple pies…with a Diet Coke? I’m thinking it is.

Nevertheless, we ought to be mindful of our tongues. This is something about which I am particularly convicted (over and over again) because, in case it has not been obvious, I tend to be a sarcastic and opinionated person. Hey, being sanctified but not yet glorified, right? But in our striving for holiness, we ought to desire that our speech be reflective of an ever-refined heart, for it is out of the abundance of the heart that our mouth speaks (Matt 12:34; Luke 6:45). And when we realize that we one day will give an accounting for “every careless word” that we have spoken (or typed) (Matt 12:36), our desire to pepper our speech with the sweetness of Christ ought to be that much stronger.

The book of James features some particularly convicting teaching on the command to bridle our tongues. Can any of us read James 3 without our faces flushing with guilt?
And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. (James 3:6)

If you’re in the mood to feel that conviction tighten even more, take a listen to John MacArthur’s sermons from the third chapter of James, here and here.

The teaching is hard to swallow…because it is so brimming with truth. Yet, as those who have been purchased by the blood of Christ, we love those hard truths, don’t we? Do you rejoice each time God convicts you of your sin? You should, for it is evidence of your regenerated heart. Thank him for the conviction, and for the subsequent growth that He will bring as you work, by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, to mortify that sin in your pursuit of righteousness.

Now that we’ve discussed bridling our tongues, I hope I haven’t included too many snarky comments in the list below. Let me know what you think as you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

04 February 2015

Thankful for Spiritually 'Well-Dressed' Men

Photo: picjumbo.com
May I request that you indulge me for just a few paragraphs? As those who have followed this blog for any significant amount of time know, it is a rare thing for me to offer up a moment of personal reflection. The reasons for this are simple: 1. If ever this blog were to become about me​, I would have to shut it down, and 2. Every good blogger knows that you should do everything you can to avoid showing emotion or any sign that you are human.

Okay, that last point is a bit in jest but just the same, I am not a terribly emotional person, at least not outwardly, so the moments that I even want to share a personal reflection with my largely unseen audience are rare. Further, what is about to follow is not actually all that personal. In a sense it is, but ultimately I hope it points the reader back to the goodness and grace of God, and elevates His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Not long ago, in the weekly This 'n' That post, I linked to an article titled, "The Well Dressed Man," that discussed the attributes of Christian gentlemen. Several people commented to me personally about that article, and how much they appreciated it. Indeed, in today's world it seems nearly impossible to find men who understand the basics of manners and etiquette (is it really that laborious to hold open the door?), but the notion of a true Christian gentleman? Well, I'd venture to say that many men who profess Christ have no idea what that looks like.