Life in the Spirit – Part 1

In this first of multiple posts we will explore Romans Chapter 8, which has been referred to as the cathedral of the Christian faith, the tree of life in the midst of the garden of Eden and the highest peak in a range of mountains by Bible scholars. It is by far one of my favorites passages in the Bible. It is something akin to “Salvation from start to finish in 39 verses.” The scope of the chapter is breathtaking in its implications for a disciple of Jesus. It reveals the trajectory of the Christian journey from justification to our future glorification. It unfurls the realities of the trials and sufferings we face in life and the majesty of God’s love that provides eternal assurance for the believer. We’ll start by looking at Romans 8:1-4.

I love that Paul doesn’t start with the imperatives, the how-to’s of sanctification in this chapter. He wants us to soak in the indicatives, restating the beauty of our justification, the way things actually are for those that are in Christ, our current status. That’s why verse one thunders with glorious news for us, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!” That is the foundation for our sanctification. The penalty for our sin has been dealt with in Christ. The “new way of the Spirit” that Paul mentions in Chapter 7, is the new way that we go about our progress in holiness. And that is made possible because in Christ the threat and fear of future condemnation has been removed.

That is the framework, the context, for where our progress in holiness needs to take place. Rooted in the reality of our justification, the ground of sanctification becomes fertile soil for the life-giving Spirit to do his work to bring about holy and happy obedience so that we can bear fruit for God. We’ll keep exploring the first 4 verses of chapter 8 over the next few days.

By |January 7th, 2013|Spiritual Growth|0 Comments|

{Mash Up} 1/7

Things People Should Never Say They Never Heard at Your Church | As a pastor I can identify with this list Kevin DeYoung puts together. You would never want people to leave your church over time and not have some basic mastery of some of the essentials of the faith.

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20 Creative and awesome things made out of cardboard | Francesco Mugnai — designer extraordinaire reveals some fun and creative designs made out of cardboard.

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Youth unemployment at all time highs – Article from the Washington Examiner spits out statistics from December’s Millennial Jobs Report. This will have great implications for our country and strong implications for how the Church reaches this burgeoning demographic. Trends like this one continue to impact cultural, idealogical and societal shifts in this generation.

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Q&A with Pastor Mark at Catalyst | Brad Lomenick interviews Mark Driscoll about his new book Who Do You Think You Are?

By |January 7th, 2013|Mashup|0 Comments|

Summa Pietatis

Institutes of the Christian Religion

Monday, January 7, starts our 12 month journey through Institutes of the Christian Religion. I am looking forward to being challenged in my walk with Christ by this remarkable work that has been challenging its readers for over 500 years.

In the introduction to the McNeill-Battles two volume edition, it is noted that Calvin wrote this work not as a summa theologiae but a summa pietatis — that is, a sum of all piety not a sum of all theology. Calvin’s theology flowed from his piety. Piety, a word that has lost its historic full meaning, was an honest word, it was a praiseworthy dutifulness or faithful devotion to one’s family, country or God. Piety, Calvin states, is a prerequisite for any sound knowledge of God.

Need another reason to read Institutes? This from the introduction.

Perhaps no other theological work has so consistently retained for four centuries (now five) a place on the reading list of studious Christians. In a wider circle, its title has been familiar, and vague ideas of its content have been in circulation. It has, from time to time, called forth an extensive literature of controversy. It has been assailed as presenting a harsh, austere, intolerant Christianity and so perverting the gospel of Christ, and it has been admired and defended as an incomparable exposition of Scriptural truth and a bulwark of evangelical faith. Even in times when it was least esteemed, its influence remained potent in the life of active churches and in the habits of men. To man Christians whose worship was proscribed under hostile governments, this book has supplied the courage to endure. Wherever in the crises of history social foundations are shaken and men’s hearts quail, the pas of this classic are searched with fresh respect. In our generation, when most theological writers are schooled in the use of methods, and of a terminology, widely differing from those employed by Calvin, this masterpiece continues to challenge intensive study, and contributes a reviving impulse to thinking in the areas of Christian doctrine and social duty.

Who doesn’t want to read something like that? Interested in reading with us — Find the details on the sidebar to the right.

The Servant in Battle

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I find that a lot of pastors are battle-weary and many feel beaten down under the weight of ministerial pressure. One of my favorite prayers from Valley of Vision–a Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, is “The Servant in Battle”. Be encouraged and strengthened by these great truths.

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THE SERVANT IN BATTLE

O LORD,
I bless thee that the issue of the battle between thyself and Satan
has never been uncertain,
and will end in victory.
Calvary broke the dragon’s head,
and I contend with a vanquished foe,
who with all his subtlety and strength
has already been overcome.
When I feel the serpent at my heel
may I remember him whose heel was bruised,
but who, when bruised, broke the devil’s head.
My soul with inward joy extols the mighty conqueror.
 Heal me of any wounds received in the great conflict;
if I have gathered defilement,
if my faith has suffered damage,
if my hope is less than bright,
if my love is not fervent,
if some creature-comfort occupies my heart,
if my soul sinks under pressure of the fight.
O thou whose every promise is balm,
   every touch life,
draw near to thy weary warrior,
refresh me, that I may rise again to wage the strife,
and never tire until my enemy is trodden down.
Give me such fellowship with thee that I may defy Satan,
unbelief, the flesh, the world,
with delight that comes not from a creature,
and which a creature cannot mar.
Give me a draught of the eternal fountain
that lieth in thy immutable, everlasting love and decree.
Then shall my hand never weaken, my feet never stumble,
my sword never rest, my shield never rust,
my helmet never shatter, my breastplate never fall,
as my strength rests in the power of thy might.

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Taken from The Valley of Vision, A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1975)

By |January 5th, 2013|Spiritual Growth|0 Comments|

Roadtrip with Calvin

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I am thrilled to start on our trek through Institutes of the Christian Religion and grateful for travelling companions on this journey of being discipled by Calvin. The opening salvo of the Institutes of the Christian Religion is something of which we truly could devote the entirety of our lives. Calvin writes, “Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.” That is the wisdom that we will seek to grow in over the course of this year.

I have some fellow road warriors joining me on the journey and they will also be journaling their discoveries right here. If you are interested in reading through Institutes click on the below reading plan to find out more.

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CLICK HERE FOR THE READING PLAN

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Why are we reading through Institutes in 2013:

  • Calvin is arguably one of the greatest theologians in Christian history and Institutes of the Christian Religion is one of the most important books written in the last 500 years. It has influenced many a great man of God and many great preachers.
  • Because Calvin wrote it not as a dogmatic work but as an aid for the enrichment of the Church. We plan to read it in more of a devotional style rather than an academic approach as one might a systematic theology textbook.
  • We want to know God better. Interestingly, Institutes is what inspired J.I. Packer to write “Knowing God”.
  • Personally, I want to serve God’s people better by growing in the grace of knowing God more and becoming a better theologian.

{tomfoolery}

For all you Fruit Ninja fanatics!

 

By |January 3rd, 2013|Tomfoolery|0 Comments|

Prayer for the New Year

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Below is a slight alteration of our closing prayer during our last service of the year at Sent Church. I taught from 2 Corinthians 2:12-17 on how we out to approach each new year and what we should be encouraged by as we anticipate the coming of our Lord. Though Paul was faced with anxiety and worry and possibly discouragement at the delay in hearing from news about the church at Corinth, he was able to find encouragement in some key truths.

  1. We are led triumphantly by Christ by virtue of being in Christ. Paul knew he was on the winning team because Christ had already conquered all his enemies.
  2. We give off the fragrance of Christ. To some that aroma is life and to others death. We don’t control the outcome of someone’s decision but we should live so that everyone that comes in our path is forced to a decision.
  3. We are commissioned by God. Because we are sent by God, we should live honestly, authentically and courageously before God and others.

 

The perfect New Year is coming — but it is not here yet. The promised “soon” of Revelation 22:20 is getting sooner! Be encouraged — 2013 means We are One Year closer to home.

Prayer for the New Year

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God we are grateful for this year that is coming to a close. No matter what the circumstances were this year, good or bad, delightful or disappointing, in much or in lack, fruitful or not, we can like Paul say, “But thanks be to God!”

As we look ahead, we are encouraged by the spiritual reality that we are led by Christ in triumphal procession, in an endless victory parade. Christ has conquered! Christ is Victorious! And we are on the winning team!

Let the aroma of Christ in our lives, impact and touch all of those around us. To some it will be life, to others death. May our prayer be like that of Jim Elliot; that everyone that comes in to contact with us is brought to a decision — “Make us a fork in the road, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in us.”

Let us live as commissioned men and women of God, a sent people. That we would live courageously, authentically and honestly before you and all men.

We eagerly anticipate, hope for and await, the everlasting “New Year”. When the perfect comes and You will make all things “new”. Until then, we are grateful to be “One year closer to home.” – Amen.
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By |January 1st, 2013|Spiritual Growth|0 Comments|

{Mash Up} 1/1

For Worship Leaders & Worship Teams | Some great insight from Zac Hicks for all worship leaders to keep in perspective. Great heart check stuff and kudos for the Braveheart reference.
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New Year’s Resolutions | Paul David Tripp gives his take on New Year’s resolutions and what brings real and lasting change.
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Most Popular DIY Projects of 2012 | Lifehacker.com lists their most popular DIY projects of the past year. There are some things there for all skill levels.
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32 Ways to Memorize Scripture | Mark Driscoll gives some new-school and old-school ways to memorize Scripture. Some really good practical tips.

 

By |January 1st, 2013|Mashup|0 Comments|

All Glory Be To Christ

Dustin Kensrue of King’s Kaleidoscope rewrites lyrics to arguably one of the most familiar melodies, “Auld Lang Syne”. Here is a link explaining why he did that. Great lyrics to an old tune. I want to sing this in to the new year! Listen to the EP, Joy Has Dawned along with chord sheets here.

 

By |December 21st, 2012|Music|0 Comments|