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Motivation – Life Together

I’ve been taking a class that is studying 1 John.  Yesterday when thinking about 1 John 1:3 it landed on me that when seeking to live out life in the church often our aims are wrong.  1 John 1:3 says he was motivated to write and announce because he wanted fellowship with those in his congregation.   John wanted life together with them, and with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.  His ministry was toward relationships.  Often our ministry is toward numbers, toward bragging rights, toward knowledge, toward stuff other than being in kinship with others and in kinship with the Father and Son.

Created to Create

Although not all of us are called to be artists, all of us are called to be creative. Making our home, apartment, or dorm room, a relaxed and health-giving  place in which to live, developing a garden into a pleasurable area with many indigenous plants so birds feel at home there too, raising children with skill and imagination, developing an appreciation of good music, developing taste in clothing, learning to appreciate the beauty of nature – all these are small but significant ways in which to cultivate God’s gift of artistic creativity in our lives.  The opportunities are endless.

From the book Living at the Crossroads by Michael W. Goeheen and Craig G. Bartholomew

Nostalgia? Fear? What is Our True Place in the Moment?

Lesslie Newbigin:

The real question is: What is God doing in these tremendous events of our time?  How are we to understand them and interpret them to others?  Nostalgia for the past and fear for the future are equally out of place for the Christian.  He is required, in the situation in which God places him, to understand the signs of the times in the light of the reality of God’s present and coming kingdom, and to give his witness faithfully about the purpose of God for all men.

Failure: The Last Taboo

Please check out this blog on failure…

http://headhearthand.posterous.com/

To A Young Child

Márgarét, are you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah!  ás the heart grows older I
t will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

-Gerard Manley Hopkins

Why I Love the Book The Prodigal God

I first encountered The Prodigal God a year ago during a very difficult time of life.  It was a timely book for me because one of the premises of the book was that our Prodigal God loves both the sinner and the Pharisee.  Both of these people I relate to, and so the book was singing, “the Lord loves you Nate Towers, even though you are self-righteous, and one who leaves Him”.

This unpacking of the parable of the Prodigal Son calls readers to think outside of the typical reading of the text which emphasizes the young, shameful son, who leaves home with the gracious father’s bequeathal in hand only to spend it on “wild living”.  Not only does it have encouraging things to say to us prodigal sons, but it also invites readers to consider Jesus’ audience, a group of upset Pharisees having a difficult time understanding why Jesus was accepting the friendship of those outside their religious influence.  We often miss that Jesus writes the Pharisees into this story, and by doing so he shows that it is not only the wandering son who is the sinner in need of grace, but the son who never left his fathers side.   About the older brother, the books author Tim Keller writes “The father goes out to the resentful elder brother, begging him to come into the feast.  This picture is like a double edged sword.  It shows that even the most religious and moral people need the initiating love of God, they are just as lost; and it shows that there is hope, yes even for Pharisees.”

Why I love this.  This is encouraging because for every time I need to hear that the Father runs to me having wandered away from his love to find it elsewhere, I also need to hear that everything He has is mine in spite of my critical, angry spirit towards those who in my mind are worse sinners than I.  How wretched of me, but how great is it that he comes outside to plead with me!  How awesome of Him to love me to the extent that his grace swallows up my self-righteousness.


http://www.theprodigalgod.com/

The Spirit, Adoption, and Condemnation

In one of the most comforting sections of the book Children of the Living God, Sinclair Ferguson writes, “The spirit of adoption gives us assurance. The Spirit, in His ministry as the Spirit of adoption, bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God (Rom. 8:16).” Ferguson asks, “Why is this so important? The Christian is often the object of satanic attack and is tempted to doubt his real standing before God.”   He quotes Romans 8, “Who can be against us? Who will bring any charge against those who God has chosen? Who is he that condemns? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? (Romans 8:31-35).”    Ferguson adds to this, “The one who tries to do these things is Satan. We therefore stand in need of a “friend in court”, who will take our side and say: “This is a child of God.” That is exactly what the Spirit of God does.” (Page 73-74).

Is it true that “we stand in need of a friend in court”? Absolutely. This is the case for three reasons that I can think of. The First is that our own consciences condemn us. We are sinners to the core, and when held up to the beam of Scripture, our sin is exposed before us. As a result, we need comfort that we are God’s child. The Second is that others can see our guilt and condemn us.   If we do not have a God who has the final say on our guilt, we give in to despair over the critique and condemnation of others.   Lastly as Ferguson emphasizes, Satan condemns us. Satan has the ability to recall sins we’ve committed, and cause us to doubt God’s forgiveness and desire for us.

Second by second we need the Spirit’s witness that we are God’s Children. Without the Spirit’s reminder of the Gospel of adoption by God’s grace, our failure, and obligations will stack up upon our shoulders, building a weight we cannot bear and making us a sure target for whoever would condemn us. Just imagine how easy it is for Satan to push us over in condemnation if this weight the weight builds up.   Rather we should work with the Spirit who reminds us that Jesus’ yoke is light and easy . “Who is it that condemns?” The child of God has a “Friend in the court”, and a Friend who reminds us!