30 June 2017

This 'n' That

Have you ever felt absolutely parched? Sure you have. We've all been dehydrated to some extent, even if we feel that we have been drinking our fair share of fluids. For instance, today I have consumed ridiculous amounts of water, tea, and coffee and yet, I still can't get enough to drink. I am still drinking water like, well...like someone who is really thirsty. Whether it's due to too much salty food or some other reason, my body is telling me that, in spite of the quantity of liquid I've consumed, it still isn't enough.

A similar thing can happen to us spiritually, too, can't it? We can consume mass quantities of theology: sermons, books, blogs, journals, and yet we can still feel spiritually parched. Interestingly, God, in His goodness, alerts us to this parched state the same way that He's designed our bodies to tell us we are thirsty when we need to drink more water. We might find ourselves in a "spiritual funk," feeling a bit lifeless and uncertain why. "I listen to four sermons a day, what's wrong with me?!" Well, what's in those sermons? Is it true biblical exposition, opening the Word and allowing the Holy Spirit to do the work? Or is it man's ideas, lists, and principles?

"I read only the best, most doctrinally-sound blogs!" Well, good for you. Blogs are good; I like blogs. You should keep reading blogs (especially this one), but blogs should not be a primary source of your spiritual nourishment. Nor should podcasts (said the podcaster) or journals.

These are all good things and are helpful resources to help us grow in our understanding of God and His Word. Yet, at the end of the day, the only thing that will quench our spiritual thirst is to drink deeply from that Word. Beyond that, we must act on that Word, by desiring and seeking to live in pursuit of Christ's righteousness, yes, but also by using the gifts He has given us to serve His body. This is where the analogy breaks down, because if we are seeking to quench our spiritual thirst, doing so requires more than just consumption.

Are we busy in the Word and about His work? I know I certainly am not as busy with these things as I should be or want to be. Life gets in the way quickly (work, family, work, home maintenance,  work, oh my!), but without quenching our thirst with the Word, we find we are walking through that life too spiritually dehydrated to do much of anything well.

Remember, though, I did say you should still read blogs. So if it fits appropriately into your list of priorities, why not settle in to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

17 June 2017

Equipping Eve: The Importance of Context

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Context, context, context!”? Context is always important, especially when we are studying the Bible. In this episode, we’ll take a look at some errors that may result when context is ignored, and demonstrate why context is not only important, but interesting!

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

See also
Bible Backgrounds: Why You Need Them and Where to Find Them

Further Listening 
Equipping Eve: Canon Conversations
Equipping Eve: On Choosing the Good Part
Equipping Eve: How Healthy Is the Women's Ministry in Your Church?

16 June 2017

This 'n' That

Sometimes, circumstances happen in life that are simply...poetic. You're going through life, taking it one day at a time, and suddenly, in the midst of confusion or life-altering moments, everything providentially falls into place. You rejoice in God's goodness and give Him all the glory.

Then there are times when everything is a mess. There is confusion or chaos, and it seems as though every decision is a life-altering one. Yet, far from everything sweetly working itself out, things become tied in bigger knots and you end up feeling more disoriented than ever. Still, you rest in God's sovereignty and give Him all the glory, knowing that His timing will be perfect.

And then there are all of those times in-between. Things are status quo, not much exciting is happening, and you're a wee bit thankful for the break from life's nonsense. And then, just to remind you that there is still sin in the world...a bird goes potty on you.

Yep, you read that correctly, and no, it's not meant to be a euphemism. This happened to me the other day. It was a beautiful evening, albeit a bit heavy outside. I was out for a walk to enjoy the fresh air when suddenly, I felt something on my leg. I reached down to brush it aside, assuming it was a mosquito and wanting to end its dinner early. But instead of lifting my hand to find a smashed bug, I found...well, I discovered that a bird had actually gone potty on my leg. It was a less-than-poetic moment.

Disgusting is not a strong enough word to describe this moment. Suffice it to say that after scrubbing my hand and leg with antibacterial soap, Clorox wipes, and alcohol, I still didn't feel like it was clean. The only next reasonable step was to douse it with acid and burn off my flesh, but that seemed a bit extreme, so I just tried not to use my hand for several hours.

I know, I know. "After last week, why are you telling us more disgusting things, Erin?" you ask. Well, I share this because some things just need to be shared. When things seem to be going well and life seems tame, just remember this: a bird still might potty on you. However, please also remember this: even in your most disgusting bird dropping-covered moments, God ought still to be praised, if for no other reason than to acknowledge His obvious sense of humor.

Well, now that I've relived that moment, I think I need more Clorox wipes. While I go look for some, why don't you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

12 June 2017

Christ the Redeemer

There is no name of Messiah more significant, comprehensive, or endearing, than the name 'Redeemer.' The name of Savior expresses what he does for sinners. He saves them with an everlasting salvation. But the word 'Redeemer' intimates likewise the manner in which he saves them. For it is not merely by the word of his power as he saved his disciples when in jeopardy upon the lake, by saying to the winds and the seas, "Peace, be still: and there was a great calm;" but by price, by paying a ransom for them, and pouring out the blood of his heart, as an atonement for their sins.

The Hebrew word for Redeemer, Goel, primarily signifies a near kinsman, or the next of kin. He with whom the right of redemption lay, and who, by virtue of his nearness of relation, was the legal avenger of blood. Thus Messiah took upon him our nature and, by assuming our flesh and blood, blame nearly related to us, that he might redeem our forfeited inheritance, restore us to liberty, and avenge our cause against Satan, the enemy and murderer of our souls. But thus he made himself also responsible for us, to pay our debts, and to answer the demands of justice and the law of God on our behalf. He fulfilled his engagement. He suffered and he died on this account. But our Redeemer, "who was once dead is now alive, and liveth forevermore, and has the keys of death and of Hades."...He is the living One, having life in himself, "the same yesterday, today, and forever." Such was his own language to the Jews, "Before Abraham was, I am." Therefore the Redeemer is mighty, and his redemption is sure. He is able to save to the uttermost. His power is unlimited, and his official authority as Mediator is founded in a covenant, ratified by his own blood, and by the oath of the unchangeable God (Psalm 110:4).

—John Newton

09 June 2017

This 'n' That

Have you ever watched people in their cars? They are disgusting. Don't believe me? Pay close attention next time you are sitting at a red light. You'll see everything from women putting on makeup, to men and women ridding themselves of pimples, to excavation of the nasal cavity. It's true. Would I lie about something so important?

This is the primary reason I stay away from purchasing a used vehicle. Yes, I know sometimes circumstances necessitate it, but after you take these things into consideration, you start to wonder if it's really worth the money you are allegedly saving. It's also why I cringe in rental cars. I mean, if people are that disgusting in their own vehicle, what must they be doing to something they don't even own?

Yesterday, I decided to run an errand at lunch. As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed a man sitting in his car, examining himself in the visor mirror. Yes, examining himself. And picking things on his face. And combing, and possibly trimming, his sideburns. Yes, by the time he finally turned off his car and stepped out, he was ready for anything. He was as cleaned up and coiffed as he could be.

All of the casualties of his endeavors, whether they are skin, hair, or something else, are now in his car. Think about that the next time you get into a used car or a rental car, or even your own car. Yes, let's use this opportunity to exhort ourselves to be less disgusting in our vehicles. If you need to trim your eyebrows, do it before you leave the house. After all, you never know who is watching.

And if we are that disgusting with our physical selves, how much more disgusting are our spiritual selves! Sin dirties the whole person! The problem is, while we may be able to clean up the outside facade, only God can cleanse us from within and make us new creatures in Christ...and how gracious He is to regenerate such vile wretches! Indeed, His perfect righteousness and merciful grace are why we love Him and desire to serve Him, isn't it?

Well, now that you are completely grossed out, why not take some time in between clipping your nails to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

04 June 2017

02 June 2017

This 'n' That

Well, another week is coming to an end, but that certainly doesn't mean the end of the busyness, does it? Real life doesn't take a break; it doesn't stop for weekends. Sure, in the white picket fence world of the 1950s sitcom, when Dad came home from work on Friday, all the cares of the week slipped away while the family enjoyed two days of carefree fun and fellowship. In the real world? Parents open their laptops at the breakfast table, email from their phones at their child's soccer game, and open their laptop again late into the night.

It's as if we walk around with the glowing halo of electronics surrounding us, and yet, ultimately, the electronics are not the problem. It's our unwillingness to unplug, our narcissistic belief that our "sphere of influence" cannot function without us for even an hour, let alone for a whole weekend. Our twisted view of our own self-importance has led to a warped and wiped out generation. Our children do not know what it is to spend device-free time with Mom and Dad, and we do not know how to look at our children except through the lens of our camera phone, as we seek to capture every moment we do have with them to share with 500 of our closest social media friends.

One cannot help but consider how the age of electronics and social media have affected our view of ourselves.

"I must check Twitter, someone might be saying something that requires my opinion!"

"I must share this photo, no one else has ever made this for dinner!"

"I must check my work email, even on vacation, because nobody else knows as much about this project as I do!"

Seriously? How twisted are we that we think the broader world cannot function without us? You know who should not have to function without us? Our family. Our church. Our actual friends (not your Facebook friends that you knew in high school and haven't spoken to in 20 years).

Do we serve the Lord by serving our family? Do we serve Him by serving in our church? Or do we serve another god?

My apologies for the rant, and rest assured that I am not excluding myself from the above analysis. But as the weather warms and the days grow long, let us use our time wisely, as the Lord has commanded. Let us serve and seek to glorify Him. Perhaps that does mean sitting at a computer and typing a blog post (see what I did there?), but it may also mean turning off that iPad and playing a game of catch with your son or daughter. It might mean taking a walk with your best friend, discussing the ways the Lord has been working in your lives. Even more, it might mean setting that smartphone aside, falling on your knees, and drawing closer to the Lord who has been good and gracious to save you.

Okay, now that we're all feeling guilty about spending time on the computer (sorry about that), why not dive in and enjoy the week in review (kind of):