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People often ask me what Mother Teresa was like. ... She was short, wrinkled, and precious, maybe even a little ornery, like a beautiful, wise old granny. But there is one thing I will never forget - her feet. Her feet were deformed. Each morning in Mass, I would stare at them. I wondered if she had contracted leprosy. But I wasn't going to ask, of course. "Hey Mother, what's wrong with your feet? " One day a sister said to us, "have you noticed her feet?" We nodded, curious. She said, "Her feet are deformed because we get just enough donated shoes for everyone, and Mother does not want anyone to get stuck with the worst pair, so she digs through and finds them. And years of doing that have deformed her feet." Years of loving her neighbor as herself deformed her feet. - Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne, pg. 168She gave sacrificially. What about you and me? Have we given sacrificially motivated by love for Jesus? Have we brought our "alabaster jars" to Him and poured them out on Him? Our families? Our careers? Our hobbies? Is there anything we hold back? We need to take these jars of what we value and break them open at His feet. And when we do, the aroma that will fill the place will be beautiful.
Joyfully sharing the good news of the sovereign love of God, and calling people to repentance, to personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, to active membership in the church, and to obedient service in the world.Part 2 discusses the joy found in participating in our Creator's grand plan.
Since evangelism is a process that occurs over time, it’s the sovereignty of God that gives me comfort in the fact that I’m just one part of God’s pursuit. Every conversation I have is part of God’s process in the life of the person I share with. I might have the part of planting a seed, watering what someone else has sown, or harvesting what others of planted, watered, and sown. Whether with a stranger on the street, or a long term friend, any conversation prompted by the Holy Spirit is one conversation in the process of God’s work.Part 5 expands on the basic definition of evangelism. Evangelism is calling people to:
Our membership in the church is a corollary of our faith in Christ. We can no more be a Christian and have nothing to do with the church than we can be a person and not be in a family. Membership in the church is a basic spiritual fact for those who confess Christ as Lord. It is not an option for those Christians who happen by nature to be more gregarious than others. It is part of the fabric of redemption.God never makes private, secret salvation deals with people. No Christian is an only child. The Jerusalem Bible translates the first verse of this Psalm, "How good, how delightful it is for all to live together like brothers."
Not what a man is in himself as a Christian, his spirituality and piety, constitutes the basis of our community. What determines our brotherhood [and sisterhood] is what that man [or woman] is by reason of Christ. Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to both of us.and then adds,
And what Christ has done is anoint us with his Spirit. We are set apart for service to one another. We mediate to one another the mysteries of God. We represent to one another the address of God. We are priests who speak God's Word and share Christ's sacrifice.The oil in this text represents the Holy Spirit and the dew is simply that, the fresh morning dew which is new every morning like His mercies. Peterson writes,
[In this we have] an ever-renewed expectation in what God is doing with our brothers and sisters in the faith. We refuse to label the others as one thing or another. We refuse to predict our brother's behavior, our sister's growth. Each person in the community is unique; each is specially loved and particularly led by the Spirit of God. How can I presume to make conclusions about anyone? How can I pretend to know your worth or your place?
[The people of God] are new persons each morning, endless in their possibilities. We explore the fascinating depths of their friendship, share the secrets of their quest. It is impossible to be bored in such a community, impossible to feel alienated among such people.
Oil and dew. The two things make life together delightful.
Perhaps the main task of the minister is to prevent people from suffering for the wrong reasons. Many people suffer because of the false supposition on which they have based their lives. That supposition is that there should be no fear or loneliness, no confusion or doubt. But these sufferings can only be dealt with creatively when they are understood as wounds integral to our human condition. Therefore ministry is a very confronting service. It does not allow people to live with illusions of immortality and wholeness. It keeps reminding others that they are mortal and broken, but also that with the recognition of this condition, liberation starts.
A 20-year-old man received probation after he was convicted of having sexual contact with a dead deer. The sentence also requires Bryan James Hathaway to be evaluated as a sex offender ...Apparently this guy is a repeat offender.
He was found guilty in April 2005 of felony mistreatment of an animal after he killed a horse with the intention of having sex with it.And in other news ...
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The great need of our time is for people to experience the living reality of God by hearing his word personally and transformingly in Scripture. Something is incredibly wrong when the words we hear outside Scripture are more powerful and more affecting to us than the inspired word of God. Let us cry with the psalmist, “Incline my heart to your word” (Psalm 119:36). “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Psalm 119:18). Grant that the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened to know our hope and our inheritance and the love of Christ that passes knowledge and be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 1:18; 3:19). O God, don’t let us be so deaf to your word and so unaffected with its ineffable, evidential excellency that we celebrate lesser things as more thrilling...This is opposed to those that say God speaks only through His Word or those that only get excited when God speaks outside of His Word. I love Piper's balance.
Simple Arminianism doesn’t fall in that category. It’s not fair to pin the label of rank heresy on Arminianism, the way some of my more zealous Calvinist brethren seem prone to do. I’m talking about historic, evangelical Arminianism, of the classic and Wesleyan varieties — Arminianism, not Pelagianism, or open theism, or whatever heresy Clark Pinnock has invented this week — but true evangelical Arminianism. Arminianism is certainly wrong; and I would argue that it’s inconsistent with itself. But in my judgment, standard, garden variety Arminianism is not so fatally wrong that we need to consign our Arminian brethren to the eternal flames or even automatically refuse them fellowship in our pastors’ fraternals.
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Worship is an act that develops feelings for God, not a feeling for God that is expressed in an act of worship. When we obey the command to praise God in worship, our deep, essential need to be in relationship with God is nurtured. ... Every time we worship our minds are informed, our memories refreshed with the judgments of God, we are familiarized with what God says, what he has decided, the ways he is working out our salvation.We come to God as an act of obedience. In doing so we meet with Him. The longing of our soul is pleased and yet the beauty of His presence only stirs a desire for more. This is true when we worship in spirit and in truth. Anything less leaves us longing for more but in a different way. This longing flows from emptiness rather than the longing that flows from having tasted His goodness in true worship. Come, let us taste and see that the Lord is good. He is great and worthy to be praised.
Worship does not satisfy our hunger for God - it whets our appetite. Our need for God is not taken care of by engaging in worship - it deepens.
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[Friedrich Nietzsche] wrote, "the essential think in heaven and earth is ... that there should be long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living." It is this long obedience in the same direction which the mood of the world does so much to discourage.
For recognizing and resisting the stream of the world's ways there are two biblical designations for people of faith that are extremely useful: disciple and pilgrim. Disciple says we are people who spend our lives apprenticed to our master, Jesus Christ. We are in a growing-learning relationship, always. A disciple is a learner, but not in the academic setting of a schoolroom, rather at the work site of a craftsman. We do not acquire information about God but skills in faith.
Pilgrim tells us we are people who spend our lives going someplace, going to God, and whose path for getting there is the way, Jesus Christ. We realize that "this world is not my home" and set out for "the Father's house." Abraham, who "went out," is our archetype. Jesus, answering Thomas's question "Master, we have no idea where you're going. How do you expect us to know the road?" gives us directions: "I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me" (Jn 14.5-6). The letter to the Hebrews defines our program: "Do you see what this means - these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running - and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in" (He 12.1-2).
The second danger, then, is that of being satisfied with something very much less than what is offered in Scripture, and the danger of interpreting Scripture by our experience and reducing its teaching to the level of what we know and experience. ... In other words, certain people by nature are afraid of the supernatural, of the unusual, of disorder. You can become so afraid of disorder ... that you become guilty of what the Scripture calls "quenching the Spirit"; and there is no question in my mind that there is a great deal of this ... People are so afraid of what they call enthusiasm, and some are so afraid of fanaticism, that in order to avoid those they go right over to the other side without facing what is offered in the New Testament ... Compare, for instance, what you read about the life of the church at Corinth with typical church life today. "Ah but," you say, "they are guilty of excess in Corinth." I quite agree. But how many churches do you know at the present time to which it is necessary to write such a letter as the First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians? Do not put your emphasis entirely on the excesses. Paul corrects the excesses but see what he allows, what he expects ... Of course, it is always life that tends to lead to excess. There is no problem of discipline in a graveyard; there is no problem very much in a formal church. The problem arises when there is life.In 1 Cor 14, Paul writes, "I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue. Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say you are out of your mind? But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, 'God is really among you!'"
give me the power to do your works
and the grace to experience your suffering.
However it may come,
hold me in the hour of trial
and show me Your compassionate face.
When we attribute foreknowledge to God, we mean that all things have ever been, and perpetually remain, before His eyes, so that to His knowledge nothing is future or past, but all things are present: and present in such a manner that He does not merely conceive of them from ideas formed in His mind, as things remembered by us appear present to our minds, but really beholds and sees them as if actually placed before Him. And this foreknowledge extends to the whole world and to all the creatures. Predestination we call the eternal decree of God, by which He hath determined in Himself what He would have to become of every individual of mankind. For they are not all created with a similar destiny; but eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others.I can live with that ...
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To evangelize is to present Christ Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit that men and women shall come to put their trust in God through Him, to accept Him as their Savior, and serve Him as their King in the fellowship of His church. This ties commitment to Christ with commitment to the church. God's will is clear... He wants men and women everywhere to come to Him and into the church of Jesus Christ.I love this definition because in addition to noting the power of the Gospel to transfer us from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Light, it highlights the point that this new Kingdom is one of community.
Christianity is not only intellectual, nor is it only your cultural responsibility. Christianity is being born again on the basis of the finished work of Christ, His substitutionary death in space-time history. Christianity is the reality of communion with God in the present life; it is the understanding that there is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; it is the understanding that there is the moment-by-moment empowering of the Holy Spirit. Christianity is the understanding that the fruit of the Spirit is "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meakness, temperance." It is the understanding that the fruit of the Spirit is meant to mean something real to all Christians. It is the understanding that prayer is real and not just a devotional exercise. (...) we must stress that Christ is Lord of the whole man, not just Lord of the soul. He is Lord of the intellect and Lord of the body. He means us to affirm life and not negate life. Such is the ideal. May God show us the living balance and help us to live, by his grace, in that balance.
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The church of Jesus Christ is, of course, first of all the church invisible. It is the body of believers united by faith in Christ in the full biblical sense, whether or not they are members of an external organization. It includes the church today at war in the present world and the church of the past whose members are already at peace. It is the church universal.But we also learn through Scripture that the Church is to be visible - a paradox - both visible and invisible. On being visible ...
There is no biblical norm as to where, and where not, the church should meet. The central fact is that the early concept of the church had no connection with a church building. The church was something else: a group of Christians drawn together by the Holy Spirit in a place where they worked together in a certain form ... Individual churches were formed as people became Christians, and these were definite, specific entities.This makes it hard for us to think about the practical outworking of what it is to be Church. Our building structure, or more precisely our love for certain structural types very often drive how we do Church. To help us, Schaeffer provides seven norms.
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Others have foreknowledge of things to come: they see visions, and utter prophetic expressions. Others still, heal the sick by laying their hands upon them, and they are made whole. Yea, moreover, as I have said, the dead even have been raised up, and remained among us for many years. And what shall I more say? It is not possible to name the number of the gifts which the Church, [scattered] throughout the whole world, has received from God, in the name of Jesus Christ ... but, directing her prayers to the Lord, who made all things ... and calling upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, she has been accustomed to work miracles for the advantage of mankind,
The Kingdom demands the opposite. It is not identified by sacred spaces, places, times or even special people. The Kingdom is on the move because God is making His enemies His friends, reclaiming His good creation, and bringing this occupied planet under His Lordship. Jesus, as we have seen, was committed to extending God's kingdom throughout the land. He proclaimed the Kingdom's presence, delivered the demonized, and healed the sick. This was God's reign in action, overcoming the other reign in the world that held people in bondage.Jesus has set us free. While it is right to understand that as being freed from bondage to obvious sin, it is also freedom from religious bondage. In Col 2.13-15 we learn that while we were dead in our sins, He made us alive "canceling the written code with its regulations". In this He disarmed the "powers and authorities ... triumphing over them by the cross." And because of this great truth, we guard ourselves, not once again placing ourselves or others under legalistic religion and the "elemental spirits of the universe" (Gal 4.8-9).
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The Bible teaches that long before Adam walked on the earth God determined the times and exact places where you would live (Acts 17:26). The Bible teaches that you were knit together with a specific, “intricate” design while you were still in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:14-16). You were not thrown together by chance circumstance. Sure, most of us know we are MADE, or manufactured, by God but do we really believe we were DESIGNED by God---designed not only with physical DNA that dictates our personality, appearance and talents, but a spiritual DNA as well—one that consists not only of a unique, spiritual gifting but a God-ordained, God-planned orchestration of every circumstance that has ever occurred in your life as well? It’s true. God designed you. Through His sovereignty, God appointed you to be born where you were born, to live where you live, to look the way you look, to have the opportunities you have, to possess the talents and gifts you have…and to be lacking in those you don’t have. Furthermore, he planned from the beginning of time for you to be where you are RIGHT NOW. And He has a path for you to follow once you’re finished reading this sentence.read more ...
Worship is happening when a person or a people take time to reflect upon and honor the nature and the actions of God by offering him praise, thanksgiving, confession, offerings, and a submissive heart and mind. This can be done through the medium of song, silent meditation, speech, sacramental activity, and other forms of artistic expression. Preaching may be a part of these functions, but not necessarily the most important part.MacDonald also lists a number of outcomes that should be evident where true worship has taken place:
Wherefore, also, those who are in truth, His [Jesus'] disciples, receiving grace from him, do in his name perform [miracles], so as to promote the welfare of other men, according to the gift that each one has received from him. For some do certainly and truly drive out devils, so that those who have thus been cleansed from evil spirits frequently both believe [in Christ], and join themselves to the church.In a few weeks I lead our weekly outreach to serve some of the poor around us. It is right to do. I'll not not do it. But I will do it with a budget and some humble willing workers who genuinely care. But I wonder how many of us expect God to take that amount of purchased material and multiply it? How many of us expect that as we interact with someone in the community and someone receive a miraculous healing through prayer? How many of us anticipate encountering or even recognizing a demon and by the power of Jesus casting the thing out? Sure, we need not stop but we need in our own way we also have lost a bit of the plot. We have gotten into a routine and it doesn't look like the Kingdom Jesus proclaimed.
In the first five chapters of Mark's Gospel, there are 22 references to Satan or demons. Jesus said that He had come to bind the strong man (Satan) and plunder his house (Mk 3.27). In Luke 11.20, Jesus says, "But if I drive our demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you." In Acts, Peter tells a Roman officer how "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him" (10.38). In Romans, Paul says, "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet" (16.20). John says, "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work" (1 Jn 3.8). This is the Kingdom come.Williams then offers several practical steps to prepare for this battle. Unfortunately he did not go into detail but I think they are easily studied through Scripture.
[it] is to talk about the kingship of God. It is dynamic, all-embracing and on the move. God is the King and He has His palace and His throne room in heaven. He has His retainers, the angelic hosts. He has His subjects, the angels, humans and all other forms of life. He has His realm, the heavens and the earth. In His love, He gives us the freedom to choose for or against Him. In His justice, He judges us accordingly. Although we have chosen to revolt, He comes after us to rescue us, forgive us and restore us to Himself. One day, His perfect reign will be manifest throughout His transformed creation. On that day, the redeemed will worship and serve Him out of cleansed and glad hearts. For now, His rule - His kingdom - has broken in on us and is advancing throughout the earth.This is not "soft". This is not just some decision we make. This is not just about acts of kindness. This not about trying to live right. This is not about God just loves and loves us. Etc. Sure, it includes that but it is beyond that. It is reversing our service to the king of darkness and serving the King of Light!
The presence of the Kingdom is good news because it means that God's presence has returned and that Satan's kingdom is under siege. Sins are forgiven, the sick are healed, the demonized are delivered, the exiles come home, and the age to come is upon us.
In true Kingdom preaching, the imperative always follows the indicative. So Jesus also told people what they must do to receive the Kingdom: "Repent and believe the good news." To "repent" implies as change in course. We have gone away from God and so now we must reverse course and turn toward Him. Repentance also involves surrender and sorrow for our sins. But there is more. ... to "repent" means to surrender ones agenda for Jesus' agenda. It means to take on His Kingdom message and ministry.Jesus showed the way in Luke, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”
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Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains.The post goes on to explain the real origin of the quote but I like it as is.
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What God creates, He also sustains. The universe is not only dependent upon God for its origin, it depends upon God for its continuity of existence. The universe can neither exist nor operate by its own power. God upholds all things by His power. It is in Him that we live, and move, and have our being.Murray continues, "God wills a great deal of blessing to His people which never comes to them. He wills it most earnestly, but they do not will it. Hence, it cannot come to them. This is the great mystery of man's creation with a free will and the renewal of his will in redemption. God has made the execution of His will dependent on the will of man."
The central point of the doctrine of providence is the stress on God’s government of the universe. He rules His creation with absolute sovereignty and authority. He governs everything that comes to pass, from the greatest to the least. Nothing ever happens beyond the scope of His sovereign providential government. He makes the rain to fall and the sun to shine. He raises up kingdoms and brings them down. He numbers the hairs on our head and the days of our life.
There is a crucial difference between the providence of God and fortune, fate, or luck. The key to this difference is found in the personal character of God. Fortune is blind while God is all-seeing. Fate is impersonal while God is a Father. Luck is dumb while God can speak. There are no blind, impersonal forces at work in human history. All is brought to pass by the invisible hand of Providence.
... when we ask whether we have “free will,” it is important to be clear as to what is meant by the phrase. Scripture nowhere says that we are “free” in the sense of being outside of God’s control or of being able to make decisions that are not caused by anything. (This is the sense in which many people seem to assume we must be free) Nor does it say we are “free” in the sense of being able to do right on our own apart from God’s power. But we are nonetheless free in the greatest sense that any creature of God could be free—we make willing choices, choices that have real effects. We are aware of no restraints on our will from God when we make decisions. We must insist that we have the power of willing choice; otherwise we will fall into the error of fatalism or determinism and thus conclude that our choices do not matter, or that we cannot really make willing choices. On the other hand, the kind of freedom that is demanded by those who deny God’s providential control of all things, a freedom to be outside of God’s sustaining and controlling activity, would be impossible if Jesus Christ is indeed “continually carrying along things by his word of power” (Heb. 1:3, author’s translation). If this is true, then to be outside of that providential control would simply be not to exist! An absolute “freedom,” totally free of God’s control, is simply not possible in a world providentially sustained and directed by God himself.So Murray is correct when saying, "Once God reveals to a soul what He is willing to do for it, the responsibility for the execution of that will rests with us." But the desire and ultimately the ability to execute comes from God. The reason prayer works is because God initiates it. Everything that happens is subordinate to His sovereignty.
In the same way, the very nature of God is to love and to bless. His love longs to come down to us with its quickening and refreshing streams. But He has left it to prayer to say where the blessing is channeled. He has committed it to His believing people to bring the living water to the desert places. The will of God to bless is dependent on the will of man to say where the blessing goes.Murray would have done well to exclude the last sentence. God's blessings flow to the just and the unjust. He takes action when there is prayer and when there is not prayer.