Friday, May 28, 2010

Reaching the Unreached - by Tim Chester

Tim Chester shares some notes he took at the second Reaching the Unreached conference on his blog today. The last part of the article chimes in well with a theme I have been hearing over and over again lately. It is part of the passion that drives me to continue my own blog. I keep coming back to Zacchaeus the tax collector and the other gospel stories where Jesus heart for the lost was right there having dinner with them and talking with them and showing compassion for their needs. You can read the whole article at Tim's site but I am sharing the conclusion here for those not inclined to follow links.

Implication: the Missionary Heart of God

Nothing of this is new to us. But what are the implications?

1. There is one gospel for all people

Peter said: ‘“Can anyone keep these people from being baptised with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.’ (Acts 10:47-48) What happened to the Jewish believers in Jerusalem in Acts 2 has happened to Gentiles here in Acts 10. It is the same gospel for a respectable corporate lawyer, a hard-working single mother, a teenager toying with petty crime and so on.

2. The gospel is made for outsiders

In Luke-Acts there is a disproportionate number of people who are outsiders: Gentiles, prostitutes, tax-collectors, lepers – people who sins and failures go before them. The people who would attract ‘tuts’ in many churches. Jesus takes outsiders and brings them in and says, ‘Look what I’m going to do with you.’ Jesus is not the Messiah that the world wants. He did not use his power for his own ends. He gave it away so he could help those who are weak. He saves by serving and losing his power. And I get his salvation not by being strong or pure or accomplished, but by admitting I have none of these things.

If our churches do not communicate this then we are not being revolutionary enough. If outsiders do not feel welcome then we are mis-communicating the grace of God.

3. The gospel is not too hard for anyone

Many people in our area do not want to come through the church door because they view it has self-improvement. The first time one friend came to church he would not go inside. The next week he sat in the entrance lobby. The third week he sat by the door. It took four weeks to get him to sit in a pew.

Many people in our area look at the church and say, ‘I can’t be like them.’ They have understood a message, but it is not the gospel. If they hear the message of grace then they will think, ‘I can do that!’

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sibbes on relationships among christians

In the last place, there is something for private Christians, even for all of us in our common relations, to take notice of: we are debtors to the weak in many things.

1. Let us be watchful in the use of our liberty, and labour to be inoffensive in our behavior, that our example compel them not. There is a commanding force in an example, as there was in Peter (Gal. 2). Looseness of life is cruelty to ourselves and to the souls of others. Though we cannot keep those who will perish from perishing, yet if we do that which is apt of itself to destroy the souls of others their ruin is imputable to us.

2. Let men take heed of taking up Satan's office, in misrepresenting the good actions of others, as he did Job's case, `Doth Job fear God for naught?' (Job 1:9), or slandering their persons, judging of them according to the wickedness that is in their own hearts. The devil gets more by such discouragements and reproaches that are cast upon religion than by fire and faggot. These, as unseasonable frosts, nip all gracious inclinations in the bud, and as much as in them lies, with Herod, labour to kill Christ in young professors. A Christian is a hallowed and a sacred thing, Christ's temple; and he that destroys his temple, him will Christ destroy (1 Cor.3:17).

3. Among the things that are to be taken heed of, there is among ordinary Christians a bold usurpation of censure towards others, not considering their temptations. Some will unchurch and unbrother in a passion. But ill humours do not alter true relations; though the child in a fit should disclaim the mother, yet the mother will not disclaim the child.

There is therefore in these judging times good ground of James's caveat that there should not be `many masters' (James 3:1), that we should not smite one another by hasty censures, especially in things of an indifferent nature; some things are as the mind of him is that does them, or does them not; for both may be unto the Lord.

A holy aim in things neither clearly right nor wrong makes the judgments of men, although seemingly contrary, yet not so much blamable. Christ, for the good aims he sees in us, overlooks any ill in them, so far as not to lay it to our charge. Men must not be too curious in prying into the weaknesses of others. We should labour rather to see what they have that is for eternity, to incline our heart to love them, than into that weakness which the Spirit of God will in time consume, to estrange us. Some think it strength of grace to endure nothing in the weaker, whereas the strongest are readiest to bear with the infirmities of the weak.

Where most holiness is, there is most moderation, where it may be without prejudice of piety to God and the good of others. We see in Christ a marvelous temper of absolute holiness, with great moderation. What would have become of our salvation, if he had stood upon terms, and not stooped thus low unto us? We need not affect to be more holy than Christ. It is no flattery to do as he does, so long as it is to edification.

The Holy Ghost is content to dwell in smoky, offensive souls. Oh, that that Spirit would breathe into our spirits the same merciful disposition! We endure the bitterness of wormwood, and other distasteful plants and herbs, only because we have some experience of some wholesome quality in them; and why should we reject men of useful parts and graces, only for some harshness of disposition, which, as it is offensive to us, so it grieves themselves?

Grace, while we live here, is in souls which, because they are imperfectly renewed, dwell in bodies subject to several humours, and these will incline the soul sometimes to excess in one passion, sometimes to excess in another. Bucer was a deep and a moderate divine. After long experience he resolved to refuse none in whom he saw aliquid Christi, something of Christ. The best Christians in this state of imperfection are like gold that is a little too light, which needs some grains of allowance to make it pass. You must grant the best their allowance.

We must supply out of our love and mercy that which we see wanting in them. The church of Christ is a common hospital, wherein all are in some measure sick of some spiritual disease or other, so all have occasion to exercise the spirit of wisdom and meekness.

So that we may do this the better, let us put upon ourselves the Spirit of Christ. There is a majesty in the Spirit of God. Corruption will hardly yield to corruption in another. Pride is intolerable to pride. The weapons of this warfare must not be carnal (2 Cor. 10:4). The great apostles would not set upon the work of the ministry until they were `endued with power from on high' (Luke 24:49). The Spirit will only work with his own tools. And we should think what affection Christ would carry to the party in this case. That great physician, as he had a quick eye and a healing tongue, so had he a gentle hand, and a tender heart.

And, further, let us take to ourselves the condition of him with whom we deal. We are, or have been, or may be in that condition ourselves. Let us make the case our own, and also consider in what near relation a Christian stands to us, even as a brother, a fellow member, heir of the same salvation. And therefore let us take upon ourselves a tender care of them in every way; and especially in cherishing the peace of their consciences. Conscience is a tender and delicate thing, and must be so treated. It is like a lock: if its workings are faulty, it will be troublesome to open.

The Gospel Vs. Religion- from Buzzard Blog

Buzzard Blog has been a treasure chest lately. Here is another great posting.

PDF Verson at Buzzard Blog

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Mercy Spiller

I found this post about mercy on Buzzard Blog. Praise God that he does not withhold mercy from us!

Once in a while a sentence of Scripture stabs your heart and wakes you up to realities you hadn’t quite felt before.

This morning I sat on my porch reading and praying through a few psalms. Eventually I came to a sentence, Psalm 40:11. I’m sure I’ve read this sentence many times. This time the sentence read me.

As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain
your mercy from me;


I restrain mercy. I hold back mercy, grace, and love from other people, even the people I say I love the most. My mercy-giving has a limit.

And, other people restrain mercy. Other people have restrained mercy from me. Instead of receiving mercy, I’ve received judgment, punishment, and shunning. My mercy-receiving also has a limit.

But a relationship with the Lord has an entirely different operating system.

His mercy-giving has no limit. He doesn’t restrain his mercy from his children. He never runs out of mercy! There’s an eternal supply! He doesn’t hold back and conserve his mercy, the Lord spills his mercy all over me.

This means my mercy-receiving has no limit. Because the Father spilled all his wrath on Jesus, he can spill mercy all over me every single day of my life, even on my days of greatest failure. So far, today has been a big day of failure for me.

Guess what? News Flash. This just in: At approximately 9am this morning in the San Francisco Bay Area, there was an oil spill of God’s mercy, poured out all over Justin. You should see the spill. It’s beautiful.

God isn’t in the mercy-restraining business, he’s in the mercy-spilling business.

This is so, so hard for me to believe. I’m so used to a life of limiting the mercy I give to others and rationing the mercy others give to me. I’ve been so afraid of running out of mercy. I’ve been a Mercy Miser.

I don’t want to be a Mercy Miser.


Function: noun. Etymology: Latin miser miserable

a mean grasping person; especially : one who is extremely stingy
I want to be a Mercy Spiller.

Read more on Buzzard Blog

Friday, May 14, 2010

Resonating Worship - by Mike T.

I have been thinking about what the Christian family should be like. Is the connection as good as it should be in our churches and among our brothers and sisters? What came to mind is this illustration from a childhood Physics lesson. In grade school they demonstrated resonance with two tuning forks on a sound box. When one tuning fork was struck with a hammer the vibration from the first would cause the second to begin to vibrate too. Since the incoming sound waves share the same natural frequency as the second tuning fork, the tuning fork easily begins vibrating at its natural frequency. This is an example of resonance - when one object vibrating at the same natural frequency of a second object forces that second object into vibrational motion. To me that seems like a perfect analogy for the effect one Christian should have upon another. I was created to resound with praise for God. This is the natural response of the Christian. When Christians come together at church or share time together should they not naturally cause one another to sound forth praise. At times it feels like I am a lone tuning fork and I strike a note of praise for Christ in hopes that others will pick up the tune and begin to resonate as well. But it is dispappointing that there is so little response to the note of praise. Oh that we would all resonate a chord of praise and a song of joy for what Christ has done for us.

Shirley Logan - Beautiful Music

Here is a favorite post from an earlier time. Shirley's Music has always inspired me. I particularly like her songs "Water", "Baby Jane" and "Like A Father". They are deeply moving and quite beautiful.

I encourage you to check out her web pages and blog.

I was excited to hear from Shirley regarding the post. I encourage you to check out her music.

You can find her blog here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Don't Keep People At Arms Length - by Dave Dorr


Dave Dorr:

Another way that we keep God at a distance is to hold people at arms length. And this keeping people at arms length is a behavior that is constantly reinforced culturally.

We feel that it is not spiritual to experience God in a community. For us the essence of spirituality is private religious experience. To have our spiritual experience weighed by a community of people seems to limit our freedom and calls into question our authenticity.

This is seen when we utter the words “organized religion.” It sounds about as appealing, and maybe even as sinister as “organized crime.” If religion is organized, then, to us Americans, it seems like something is taken away from a relationship with God, not added.

But God will not have it this way. His people are his way of speaking to us, his way of touching us. What else does it mean when God says that we are his body? If we are his body then, through people, God will make his will known to us.

And that is why keeping people at a distance, and not being part of an “organized” community, is so devastating to someone who wants to draw near to God. Because the true God dwells amongst his people, with all our problems, foibles, and sins. By dwelling among his people he hides from the arrogant, but draws near to those who have godly community.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Forgetting, Forgiving, Loving and Sharing Christ With Others - By Mike T.

I am a forgetful person. I forget to do things that I have told others I would do. I forget why I went to the kitchen. I forget where I put my keys. And there are times when I forget that I too am a sinner saved by grace by the goodness and loving kindness of God. I am justified not by what I have done or don't do but by what Christ did on the cross. When I withhold mercy from others I am forgetting that mercy that God gave freely to me in Christ when I was deserving of wrath instead. Don't begin to think of yourself as matured beyond certain sins especially if it makes you seperate yourself from the unbelievers who need the Gospel. And don't wall off certain Christian brothers and sisters who are still struggling with sin and need discipleship, exhortation and mentoring. Above all allow for the fact that people sin and some have more notorious pasts than others. We never take a light view of sin because God takes it seriously we must as well. But we must remember that God forgives sinners and gives us grace and mercy. If he forgives the vilest repentent sinner then we can do no less ourselves. There are those who have seen me do things in the past that I know that they can not look beyond. In spite of evidence to the contrary that those things are in the past they hold a low view of me. Probably always will and a cold shoulder from them is likely to continue indefinitely. But you know what, we are called to carry the gospel to sinners. That's right those who steal, cheat, lie, murder, perform evil acts, and to violent offenders, drug adicts, alcoholics, profane, wife beaters, rapists, deviants, depraved, lazy, selfish, rude, hipocrites, excons, prisoners, homeless, rich, poor, greedy, double-minded, idol worshippers, new agers, democrats, repubilicans, communists, dictators, tax collectors, pharasees and Christians who don't like us. There are unbelievers in need of Christ and there are believers in need of encouragement, exhortation, discipleship, fellowship and teaching. We miss the whole meaning of the mercy of God when we exclude taking and living that message out before all men. We never did or didn't do a thing to be saved in Christ. In fact everyone was a sinner when Christ saved them. And He calls us to tell others of this Grace. Paul reminds us of these things in Titus.

3:1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. Titus 3:1-8

As Paul stated 'we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by othes and hating one another.' He makes sure we know we are justified by his grace to this eternal life that we have. From there he reminds them of these things:
1. submit to those in authority. 2. be obedient. 3. Eager to help. 4. Not spreading gossip. 5. To avoid fighting. 6. To be kind to one another. 7. And a tall order to be courteous to all people. No exclusions are given based upon past sins, race, religious affiliation, political leanings, current sins, etc. The list is endless... ALL PEOPLE. He closes the reminder saying that they are to 'insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works.

LORD help me to live up to these reminders to be courteous to all people. Don't let my pride stop me from reaching out to others with the message that salvation is in no one else but Christ. Thank you for your mercy and grace and your Holy Spirit which helps me to live obediently to your Word and to serve you and others. Put aside my prejudices, my reluctance to serve you wherever and for who ever you call me to tell of the wonder of Christ. Help me to pray for those who are are struggling with sin and its power. Help me to love my brothers and sisters in Christ when they fail and to forgive and encourage them toward maturity and faith. Help me to share your Son with them. AMEN.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Are You A Real Friend (Part 2)

The second part of a good post from "Every Square Inch" I have included the first bit of this excellent article. You can follow the link at the bottom to read the rest. Make the effort to begin to challenge your friends and to be willing to listen to their challenges. Accountability, exhortation, discipleship, forgiveness, humility and grace will help us all serve Christ with more joy.

Are You a Real Friend? Part 2

If you are going to have the kind of friends that the Bible says that we all need, then you're going to have to wrestle with the counter intuitive nature of Christianity. So much of the Christian life is out of step with the way the way world works or how we naturally think on our own. It even seems to run against what we might call "common sense."

For example, both our own nature and the wider culture affirm the one who gains the world while Jesus affirms the one who loses their life. Or we are repeatedly told that the road to greatness is paved in fairly traditional and self-serving ways but Jesus teaches that greatness is attained through servanthood. It's a huge step of faith in God to find your life by losing it or to serve your way to greatness.
Read the rest.

Are You A Real Friend

A good post from "Every Square Inch". Well worth the read of this and its follow up (part 2). This is a subject that has been on my mind lately. I currently don't seem to have a friend like this in my life. Seems to me that every Christian should have a good biblically grounded friendship. Proverbs 27:17 says "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." Two things stand out from this verse. 1) Iron upon iron has a mutual effect that both pieces get sharpened. So two both friends grw and encourage one another. 2) The sharpening of the iron does require contact. Sparks will fly. Likewise we need to be willing to generate some friction and sparks in a friendship for there to be a mutual sharpening.

Few of us have the kind of friends that the Bible says that we need. That's because what passes for friendship today is often a cheap imitation of the real thing.

I'd guess that there are all kinds of reasons that meaningful friendship is harder to find in the modern world. There are the usual culprits such as busyness and technology ranging from HD televisions that make everything fun to watch to text messaging.

But I think that there are deeper reasons that are more interesting.
Proverbs 27:6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.According to this verse we often get our friends and enemies confused. Sounds weird doesn't it? Who would be dumb enough to think that their friend is an enemy and their enemy a friend? Well I guess most (or all) of us at one time or another.

According to the book of Proverbs, a true friend will occasionally wound you. Now think about that for just a moment. A wound hurts. It isn't pleasant. It might take some time to recover from. No one wakes up in the morning and says, "I sure hope that I get wounded today!"

Read the rest

Monday, May 3, 2010

All I Have Is Christ

I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way.
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave.

I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will.
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still.

But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross.

And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace.

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me.

Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose.
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You.

© 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI), by Jordan Kauflin