Archive for the ‘random stuff’ Category
I’m excited to tell you that Journey in Grace is moving to Love Broke Thru! Thank you for following us and we hope you will continue to at Love Broke Thru. Please re-direct your browser to Love Broke Thru. Once there, you can subscribe to our new feed and you won’t miss a thing! This is our last post on Journey in Grace. We hope to see you at Love Broke Thru.
A few months ago we visited some dear friends of almost 40 years in Utah. It was so good to get away, if only for a few days. There were tears as we shared our heartaches of the past few years with each other but there was also much joy as we talked about God’s grace. There was laughter as we shared our memories of our Jesus people days with a few of our grown children. And listening to some of our old Jesus music took us back to simpler times. Guitars were brought out for some singing of old praise songs. It was a beautiful time.
Friendships that last over decades are a rare gift. There was much healing that went on in my heart while we were there. It was good to be real and be with real people who truly cared for us.
A couple of days before we left for our trip I made the decision to shut down my Facebook. I felt I needed to begin living real again with Read the rest of this entry »
This piece by Sam Storms is well worth a look.
A friend posted this short video by J. I. Packer on Twitter and I wanted to pass it on to you. This really blessed me.
God is pleased to use us in our weakness and brokenness for his glory.
I’ve never been to a masquerade party, but that hasn’t stopped me from wearing these masks at different times and in different settings.
Life in a fallen world is like attending the ultimate masquerade party. Impatient yelling wears the costume of a zeal for truth. Lust can masquerade as a love for beauty. Gossip does its evil work by living in the costume of concern and prayer. Craving for power and control wears the mask of biblical leadership. Fear of man gets dressed up as a servant heart. The pride of always being right masquerades as a love for biblical wisdom. Evil simply doesn’t present itself as evil, which is part of its draw. -Paul Tripp
I was going to write more here, but after re-reading Tripp’s words, I can’t really think of anything to add except to say thank you Jesus for rescuing grace!
Someone once asked me why anyone would look to the Psalms for comfort when we have the New Testament. It was reasoned that the Psalms are messy and not an accurate reflection of the Christian life today. The Christian is supposed to have it all together because after all, he or she has been given a new heart and this side of Pentecost, we have the fullness of God’s revelation in the New Testament. This is code for “we should be able to outperform the Psalmist and our lives should not reflect that same messiness.” I’ve seen the benefits of embracing the messiness of the Psalms reasoned away by statements like, “well, they were a loud culture. We shouldn’t be like that.”
I couldn’t disagree more. The Christian life is messy. I’m messy and I need Someone outside of myself to love me in my messiness. Paul Tripp said it better than I can,
The Psalms are in the Bible to keep us honest about the brokenness of our world and the messiness of our faith.
Take a look at this short video by Tripp. I think you’ll be encouraged.
Earlier today someone directed me to a blog dealing with the subject of being late. The author was talking about those who are habitually late for things. I think he might have made a couple of valid points here and there, but because the overall tone of the blog was harsh, judgmental, and critical, those points were lost on me. It was very matter-of-fact and at times, just plain mean.
As I was reading, I remembered this story from the book When Bad Christians Happen to Good People: Where We Have Failed Each Other and How to Reverse the Damage, by Dave Burchett:
Author Philip Yancey shared a compelling illustration about a recovering alcoholic friend who attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. His friend said, “When I’m late to church, people turn around and stare at me with frowns of disapproval. I get the clear message that I’m not as responsible as they are. When I’m late to AA, the meeting comes to a halt and everyone jumps up to hug and welcome me. They realize that my lateness may be a sign that I almost didn’t make it.”
I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.
Andy Naselli wrote a short piece some time ago on one-issue organizations that is well worth the read. He says,
I still remember one of my theology professors taking our class to a room with a piano in it. He sat down at the piano and presented a “Middle C concert” to us. He just kept hitting Middle C over and over.
His point was that that’s a bad way to do theology because truth is truth proportionally.
And that’s a danger for one-issue organizations—whether they are advocating a particular view of worship, creation, gender roles, revival, or whatever—because they tend to overemphasize the importance of their one issue:
[I]t often seems to be the case that organizations with such narrow focus and which have been formed for the conscious purpose of advocating that position in opposition to a position viewed as biblically flawed . . . tend to over-speak their case. —Rodney J. Decker, “The English Standard Version: A Review Article,” Journal of Ministry and Theology 8, no. 2 (2004): 11n17.
I’m not opposed to one-issue organizations in principle; I happily support some and thank God for them. I’m merely pointing out a common weakness.
I have to agree… http://andynaselli.com/one-issue-organizations
Here are some recent quotes from my Twitter feed I thought you might like. The first group is on the need to be right and the second bunch is on failure. I can relate to both!
On the need to be right:
If you feel compelled to respond every time you’re criticized it reveals how much you’ve built your identity on being right. -Tullian Tchividian
Jesus, show me the difference between believing I’m right about a matter and needing to be right. -Scotty Smith
Too many Christians live to not make mistakes instead of resting in the love of the One whose blood covers all our mistakes. -Tullian Tchividjian
Theological arrogance devalues grace. It confuses knowledge with maturity, so it doesn’t treasure the grace alone that causes you to grow. -Paul Tripp
Jesus, show me the difference between faithfully guarding the gospel and arrogantly Read the rest of this entry »
I think Ray Ortlund’s words on how to read the Bible are insightful,
If we read the Bible as law, we will find on every page what God is telling us that we should do. Even the promises will be conditioned by law. But if we read the Bible as promise, we will find on every page what God is telling us he will do. Even the commands are conditioned by promise…. The laws and commands and examples are all there, fulfilled in Christ and revered by us. But they do not provide the hermeneutic with which we make sense of the whole. We can and should understand them as qualified by God’s gracious promise, for all who will bank their hopes on him.
There are two types of people in the church. The two types aren’t those that are broken and need rescued and those that are not broken and doing okay. The two types of people in the church are those that are broken and their eyes have been opened to their brokenness and those that are broken, but who’s eyes haven’t been opened to their brokenness.
The fundamental elements in our personality and temperament are not changed by conversion and by re-birth. The ‘new man’ means the new disposition, the new understanding, the new orientation, but the man himself, psychologically, is essentially what he was before. – D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
I’ve noticed a trend. Maybe you have too. The gospel is getting more granular – more to the heart. Here’s what I mean. Looking back over the past few years, it seems that the Holy Spirit started to move a whole bunch of believers back to gospel centeredness. For me, it was in late 2008 and early 2009. What He took us through was similar in many ways to what He has taken (and continues to take) many, many others through. A re-awakening of the imperative of keeping the gospel at the center of all we do and think. In our case, He used some deep trials and loss to gospel us up and show us our idols.
More recently, I am noticing how this return to the gospel that began a few years ago for so many of us, is getting better defined as to its heart implications. For a while, it seemed most of us were reeling from the shock and awe of how the Holy Spirit had recaptured our hearts with the gospel as we spent rich times reveling in that experience (which we should). But as we continue to revel in the liberty that is ours in Christ, I’ve noticed that how the gospel affects and changes my heart now is starting to take center stage. The “so what” of the Christian life is taking Read the rest of this entry »
This post appears as its own page on our site but I wanted to make it a blog post too. If you haven’t read it yet, enjoy!
Everything changed for me in January of 1973. I lived in a small town in northern Arizona where I was supposed to be in my senior year of high school, but I had dropped out a couple of months prior. I don’t recommend that experience. Jesus gripped my heart and I became a believer at a Saturday night concert at the original Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa California. The concert was in a big circus tent that had been set up on the property while a new building was being built. The original building was just down the street. For obvious reasons, I have a lot of fond memories of Read the rest of this entry »
This post is another excerpt from our homepage, but I wanted to make it a separate blog too because I think most everyone subsribed to our blog, just comes in here, or reads the blogs in a reader. Enjoy!
Yes, I admit it. I was thinking of Aerosmith’s Walk This Way when I wrote the title for this section. And yes, I am a Steven Tyler fan. So while you’re reading this, it’s ok to have the melody from that song rolling around in your head. It might actually help because I know my writing can get a little tedious at times.
The book of Colossians in the New Testament is one of my favorites. These words of Paul from that letter are encouraging and convicting at the same time.
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:6, emphasis mine)
I don’t care much for bland foods. I like food that light up my taste buds. I like food that is perfectly seasoned. Just the right amount of seasoning and the meal is a success. It’s the same with the words I choose. I like being around gracious words as they are spoken with just the right amount of seasoning. Seasoning that springs from the gospel of grace and is fixated on the cross. The words we choose when writing should be no different than Read the rest of this entry »
I came across this insightful piece on Jonathan Edwards and religous affections written by The Jolly Blogger (David Wayne). It’s timely because while I love Edwards, I’ve been wrestling with some of the same issues for the last couple of years with regard to religious affections and looking at myself as a source of assurance, so it was good to see his thoughts in print. Here’s what he had to say. What do you think?
At the risk of stirring up controversy I wanted to share a few private thoughts I have had over the last few years dealing with the theology of Jonathan Edwards. The proper caveats are in order here. I know I am out of my league disagreeing with him and he has done far more in the kingdom than a thousand guys like me. Still, I have come to find his overall theological project of the religious affections difficult, and I thought I would vent and open up to some constructive feedback.
When Edwards says that true religion consists largely in the affections I worry that he is Read the rest of this entry »
This post is an excerpt from our homepage, but I wanted to make it a separate blog too because I think most everyone subsribed to our blog, just comes in here, or reads the blogs in a reader. Enjoy!
What should a Christian blog look like? That’s a fair question. I’ve noticed a tendency in the Christian blog-o-sphere that’s disturbing. Part of the reason it bothers me is because it’s so easy to subscribe to and I’ve been guilty of it myself. Maybe you’ve seen it too. Maybe, like me, you’ve even given in to it from time to time and you’re tired of it like I am. It’s the need to always be right, the need to be first and to always have my say. It’s the need to be heard and given more air time. But all of those “needs” stem from pride.
Instead of building up, I’ve seen a number of Christian blogs that seem more interested in saying their piece and being heard, many times at the expense of hurting others. I don’t want to Read the rest of this entry »
Today we re-launched Journey in Grace. If you’ve been here before, you’ll notice some changes. First, the blog is no longer the home page. I wanted to make the home page a place to talk about our philosophy of what a Christian blog site should be and what Journey in Grace is about. I also added My Journey in Grace as an introduction of why Journey in Grace exists and where the Lord has taken us in our thinking and experiences, especially since late 2008. We hope you enjoy the new look and the new content! Feel free to interact with us at any time. If stealth surfing is more your style, have at it!
Today’s Bible reading took me to Exodus 34. Here’s something that struck me:
The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. (Exodus 34:6-8)
Moses’ worship was spontaneous, based on God revealing himself not only as just and holy, but also as merciful, kind, gracious, and forgiving sin. God is a God of hope and mercy. I thought of Romans 2:4,
Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
A couple of days ago, my Bible reading took me back to the account of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in Luke’s account.
On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. (Luke 9:10-11)
The twelve had just returned from being sent out to preach the gospel and take care of the needy. They were no doubt weary and probably looking forward to some down time with Jesus and possibly even getting away from the crowds for a while. Luke tells us that Jesus withdrew with them to Bethsaida.
But while there, the crowds showed up unexpectedly. How did Jesus Read the rest of this entry »
During this morning’s Bible reading, something really jumped out at me. I was reading about Isaac in Genesis 25,
These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham fathered Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. And Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren. And the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. (Genesis 25:19-21)
Here’s what jumped out at me. Isaac was 40 years old when he married Rebekah, but Rebekah couldn’t have children so Isaac prayed for her to be able to conceive. Then the very next sentence says that the Lord granted his prayer and she conceived. Pretty cool, right? Yes. But look closer at Read the rest of this entry »
Responding well to criticism can be hard to do. In fact, I’m pretty sure all of us have an initial knee-jerk reaction to criticism, especially when it is unjust, harsh, judgmental, or just plain mean-spirited. But how we respond is important. My default reaction to unfair or unjust criticism is to quickly jump to my own defense. But that’s not usually good advice and I don’t recommend it. I’d much rather respond like Jesus did, but on my best days, I’m inconsistent.
When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:23)
Returning unjust criticism with kindness is what’s in view in Peter’s words as he wrote to a group of believers who were undergoing a lot more persecution than I’ve ever had to endure. Here’s a few things I try to remember when receiving unjust criticism:
- If you are unjustly criticized or judged by someone who isn’t in your life and doesn’t really know what makes you tick, take what they say to heart. As hard as it is to listen to or read something like that, there are probably grains of truth sprinkled in it. Take those to the Lord and ask him to change your heart in those areas. The Lord brought this critic into your life for a reason.
- Be humble and receive Read the rest of this entry »
Something I was reading the other day led me back to this passage in the early chapters of Genesis:
The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7)
This passage comes on the heels of the well known story of the murder of Abel by his brother Cain and it depicts the ongoing tension, story, drama, and human predicament depicted for us in all the Bible. Sin has entered the world (in Genesis chapter 3) and it is always crouching at the door, waiting for the next opportunity to devour us. In order to be accepted by God, we must “do well” and somehow “rule over” or master sin’s power in our hearts. But we can’t. That’s the drama of Scripture. Sin has us in it’s Read the rest of this entry »
Have you ever heard that line before? I have. It usually goes something like this: “I wasn’t gossiping, I was just expressing my opinion.” When did it become OK to put a Christian spin on gossip so that we could call it something other than gossip and keep doing it? When did it become OK to “express my opinion” about someone publicly or to others, instead of going to that person? And when did gossip become “expressing my opinion?”
One thing I’ve noticed is that gossip gets easier to spin and justify in a setting that promotes an unhealthy preoccupation with Read the rest of this entry »
Do you remember the movie Bubble Boy that came out several years ago? I never saw it, but I remember the story line. It was about a young man who was born without an immune system and as a result, he had to live inside a bubble in his bedroom. When he decides to go after the woman of his dreams, he invents a portable bubble to live in so he can leave his bedroom and pursue her. He exchanges one bubble for another, but he continues to live within the confines of a bubble. I don’t know how it ends, so I may rent it some day just to find out. Maybe not. Life in the bubble can’t be good.
If we’re not careful and alert to it, we can become bubble Christians. By bubble Christian, I mean we can wall off our Christian experience from the surrounding culture and lose our ability to relate to our culture and communicate with it. We can become so inward focused on our church experience that we start to live in a Christian bubble, unable or unwilling to communicate effectively with the dying culture around us. We see no need to. We cease to be missional and we trade Read the rest of this entry »
I’m taking a break from social media. It’s really starting to effect my spiritual life. I find myself preoccupied with getting on Facebook or Twitter to the extent that I spend more time there (far more) than I do with my Lord. When I’m not on it, I’m thinking about being on it. I think the extent that I’m absorbed with social media is indicative of where my heart truly is and that disturbs me. I need to get re-focused. I need to be praying more and doing less contemplating of the next clever thing to say on Facebook or Twitter, or taking another look to see what my Facebook “friends” are up to since their last update 10 minutes ago. So I’m taking a Read the rest of this entry »
Wow! I haven’t blogged since February and here it is almost mid-June. There’s been a number of reasons for that, but they can all be summed up by saying that there has been an intense amount of trials going on in my life that have caused me to realize I had nothing to say. It’s hard to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10) when you’re talking (or typing) all of the time. Add to that the onslaught of social media that screams for my attention, and it’s a miracle I went missing at all. But the last few months have been tough for me and my family personally because of some intense trials that seemed to materialize out of nowhere. They weren’t really out of nowhere because the God who loves me knew they were coming and why. They surprised me because Read the rest of this entry »
John Piper published a report this morning on his leave of absence and I was so encouraged by it, that I thought I would pass it along. I’ll put the link below, but first, there are a couple of excerpts that really grabbed me. Talking about how God has ministered to his own soul, he said this,
I have been able to linger longer in the word and prayer than in any other eight-month period in my life. These times have been sweet. The insights and changes in ourselves that we have seen are owing deeply to these meetings with God in his word. I am jealous that these encounters not become hurried or mechanical on my return.
I love that! I can look back on the last two years of my own life and relate to what Piper is saying. When I stepped down from pastoring and eventually moved to a new church (almost 2 years ago), I went from being full-on and running at 120%, to nothing. It was hard and at the same time, it was sweet. Being in a position where I had no option but to stop “doing” has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. I love how Piper worded his own Read the rest of this entry »
Earlier this year I stumbled across an obituary of a man that had a tremendous impact on me as a new Christian starting in my late teens and continuing into my early thirties. His name was Vern Maharry. He pastored the church that we attended as new, young Christians for a number of years and I eventually became one of the pastors working alongside of him. Vern connected with young people and provided and created an environment for them to grow in and he encouraged them to find their spiritual gifts. He did that with me. He connected with me, never judged or became critical of my hippie-turned-Christian long hair and 70′s garb. He looked past that and Read the rest of this entry »
Today we celebrate Thanksgiving in the USA. We usually have friends and family over to celebrate with us and I always feel obligated to say something profound about being thankful to set the tone for the day. I think I’ve put that expectation on myself for some reason. But over the years, I’ve discovered that the topic of thanksgiving is a challenging one to broach. I always feel like I’m groping to find something profound to say without just sounding cheesy. But I usually end up sounding cheesy. So this year I’m doing something different. Here are some passages from the Psalms on thanksgiving and Read the rest of this entry »