31 May 2016

Of Discipline and Diligence

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. (2 Peter 1:5-7)

Very often there is what we must needs describe as a mystical view of faith. This certainly accounts for the trouble in many people. By a mystical view I mean a conception of faith which always thinks of it as a whole. Putting it negatively I mean that such people do not realize that faith needs to be supplemented by virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity, as the apostle shows here. They have one formula only and the one formula is that you must always be looking to the Lord’, and as long as you look to the Lord’ there is nothing else to do. They say that any attempt to do anything else is dropping back to the ‘salvation by works’ position. So if you have a problem in your Christian life they say to you: ‘Just look to the Lord, abide in the Lord’.

This is a very common error.

29 May 2016

27 May 2016

This 'n' That

The internet truly is a double-edged sword, isn't it? Yes, it can be used to communicate great truth and proclaim the saving gospel of Jesus Christ, but it can also be the ultimate time-waster. Don't misunderstand, there are undoubtedly a myriad of ways we find to needlessly waste time but the internet seems to trump them all. All of the time spent on blogs, Facebook, and searching through pages and pages of useless information that may or may not be valid. Should we perhaps be a bit convicted about this?

Before you login to Facebook, why not evaluate how much time you've spent reading the Word? Before you dive into that online conversation about the latest big box church blasphemy, why not ponder how you might be more edified by enjoying time with your family and teaching your children? And I mean actual time conversing with them, not taking pictures to post on Facebook to give your "friends" a play-by-play of your day. Remember those days when nobody cared how you spent your weekend or your vacation or your Wednesday? Well, the reality is, most of us still don't care. Oh sure, we hope you are well and making the most of your time, but we don't actually care about your activities every waking minute. It's just that we've all been conditioned to be overly polite, so we hit the "Like" button even though we're grumbling that your day-in-the-park photos consumed our Facebook timeline again.

Friend, we live in an age of distractions and yet we, like the earliest believers, are called to a singular focus, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us be about the proclamation of His gospel. Let us be seeking to serve Him well.

In the spirit of this exhortation, then, and in the hopes that it won't steal too much of your time away, here is your slightly abbreviated week in review (kind of):

24 May 2016

But Please, Don't Call Me a Discernment Blogger

Blogging with the computer turned off? Perhaps not a bad idea.
"Discernment ministry." The phrase often carries with it a negative connotation that, whether we care to admit it or not, has at least a trace amount of validity to it.

I have been called a "discernment blogger" by a variety of people. The label has escaped as a hiss from the lips of those who loathe such websites and who think that all things theological must be subject to some vague, nebulous, mushy, emotionally-laden form of secular love and "tolerance." At the same time, the name of discernment blogger has been given to me as a mark of appreciation by men and women whose opinions I deeply respect and admire.

For a long while, I wore the label proudly and legitimately. A quick glance at the DNBS archives reveals that yes, I indeed was a discernment blogger. Emphasis on the was.

20 May 2016

This 'n' That

Here's a little public service announcement for you: if you're going to toss a bottle of water in your purse, make sure there is a cap on it.

If you don't take this extra precautionary measure, you will end up carrying a swimming pool in your purse. I repeat, open water bottles and purses are not a favorable combination.

Yes, I know this seems like an obvious fact, but apparently it isn't so clear to some of us. Earlier this week, I grabbed a bottle of water off the table on my way out the door, completely oblivious to the fact that it did not have a cap. When I arrived at church for Bible study I realized that my cap-less bottle had poured out inside my purse, drenching some of my favorite possessions, including...gasp...my Bible. But (yes, there is a wonderful, glorious "but"!) since I carry my Bible in a simple, handmade leather pouch, the Bible itself was not damaged. I was so incredibly thankful! I was thankful, too, that the pouch itself was able to be salvaged, and was not ultimately damaged in spite of its little swim.

Beautiful and functional — this Bible case kept my treasured
Bible safe and dry! Thank you, Cordoba Leather!
The event made me realize again just how wonderful and precious is the Word of God, and what a gift it is that it is so readily available to us. No, we do not worship a physical book, but, oh, where would we be without it? Who would we be without it? In the 66 books of Scripture God has revealed Himself to us, and has revealed His Son, our Savior, to us. He has given us all that we need to know to live fruit-bearing lives filled with obedience, worship, and a desire and striving after holiness. Yes, had my Bible been ruined I could have opened another, dry copy of the Bible that very night, but there is something special about the copy from which He has been teaching me over the past few years. Christian, do you take for granted your ready access to the Scriptures? There are those in the world who would give all they have for their own copy of the Bible and why? Because it is God's Word to His people. Friend, do not neglect this marvelous gift from our Lord!

Also, keep your Bible away from water. And invest in a good case or cover if you haven't already (turns out I know a guy who can help with that!), just in case you have a moment of stupidity like I did.

And on an unrelated note, take some time to start your weekend by enjoying your week in review (kind of):

16 May 2016

Equipping Eve: Church as Experience

What is the purpose of the local church service? Today’s self-seeking Christianity would say that the purpose is for you to have a meaningful “experience” each week, but what does God’s Word say? Why do Christians gather together and who or what should be the focus?

Click here to listen to the latest episode of Equipping Eve.

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: Finding Healing in the Father
Equipping Eve: Crayolas and Quiet Time
Equipping Eve: God's Final Word

13 May 2016

This 'n' That

My cat has a toy fish pole (be patient, my lame illustration is going somewhere. At least, I'm going to try to make it go somewhere). This toy is simply a fiberglass rod with a string and a piece of fabric attached to the end of the string, but my cat loves that stupid fish pole. If he can find the fish pole, he'll sit and stare at it for what seems to be an interminable amount of time, intermittently also glancing over at me to see if I'll take the bait (pun intended) and pick it up to play with him.

Since it is difficult to refuse such a cute kitty, I'll often pick up the fish pole and dangle it for him to play. But...he doesn't play with it. He stares at it, then stares back at me, then gives me a look like I'm supposed to make the stupid fish pole do something more exciting than just dangle that piece of fabric. So while my cat knows by what means he may be entertained (i.e., by playing with the dangling fish pole), he often does not exert any effort of his own, and therefore he ends up not actually playing, even though he thinks he wants to (although, perhaps for him the real entertainment lies in watching me look a bit foolish, but that doesn't fit with this illustration...).

Isn't it sometimes like that with us? We know our Bible is sitting on our nightstand waiting to be read, and we know that reading it is the means by which we come to know God, to grow closer to Him, and to be challenged in obedience and our Christian walk, yet we do not appropriate those means as we should. We know that prayer is the means by which we talk to God, bringing Him our praise and thanksgiving, our confession and repentance, yet we do not appropriate the means of prayer as we should. Aren't there times—too many times—that we end up just sitting and staring at the "fish pole" of sanctification, expecting it to magically do its work without any effort of our own?

Now, to be clear, sanctification is a supernatural and sovereign work of God. At the same time, we as Christians are not to simply sit back and "let go, let God." No, the transforming effects of sanctification are wrought in us by various means, two of those being Scripture and prayer. These great gifts have been given to us as believers, but we must appropriate those means. We cannot just stare at them and hope they will do their work. Believer, are you working out your salvation with fear and trembling even as God works in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13)?

Well, I'm not sure how sanctifying this weekly post is, but I hope it will at least give you a boost as you start your weekend. Without further ado, here is your week in review (kind of):

06 May 2016

This 'n' That

God is faithful. In the midst of trials, whether they be work-related, health-related, money-related, or relationship-related, God is faithful. Always. No exceptions. He is good and gracious and kind and merciful, and He is all of these things even as He desires to refine and shape us through earthly, temporary trials.

Perhaps the worst effect of a trial is the temptation it elicits to take our eyes off of Christ and put it onto ourselves or our circumstances And often we fall into this trap, do we not? Even if our words are garbed in Christianese, in reality, we are seeking our eyes are fixed on us not on Christ.

Yet the only way to weather a trial—and to truly emerge from a trial spiritually stronger—is to turn to Christ. If we have Christ, what else do we need? Jesus, like His Father, is faithful. He will not lose us nor forsake us. Oh, what a precious Lord we serve!

With that, I am thrilled to be able to present to you this week's almost-had-to-be-postponed-till-Saturday week in review (kind of):

01 May 2016

Equipping Eve: Finding Healing in the Father

It’s easy to look to the things of this world for comfort. Have you been wronged? Abused? Sinned against? Ladies, as Christian women we are not to search for self-worth in the fleeting fads of the age, but in the One who created the ages, the One who, as 1 Corinthians 1:3-5 says, is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.

Click here to listen to this most recent episode of Equipping Eve.

This episode discusses the following article: "Finding Healing in Front of the Camera."

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: Healing Photos
Equipping Eve: Thou Changest Not
Equipping Eve: Life Verses and Labyrinths

Sunday Morning Praise

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus