Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Works of Art

A friend of mine recently wrote me about his attitude toward his children. I thought it was worth passing along:
Why don't I see the beauty that God has placed all around me – my children?  I see work – not works of art.  I see busyness – not joyful and eternal business.  I see inconvenience, not scenes of heaven.  Daily I prove that my pride means so much to me.
Especially in light of the recent shooting in Ohio, I want to hug my kids, pray with and for them, and be more grateful for the gifts of God they are.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Stronger for the Shaking

When I was a kid growing up I often heard that the Biblical word for "tempt" and "test" was the same. I have since learned that this is indeed true. It is still puzzling to me. The same temptation from Satan can be a testing from God (e.g. David's census 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21).

William Gurnall, the 17th century Anglican, explains how God uses Satan's temptations in his classic work, Christian in Complete Armour.
God makes Satan's temptations the courier of His love to the saints...And what did Satan get for all the energy he spent on Job, but to let that holy man know at last how dearly God loved him?
The devil thought he had the game in his own hands when he got Adam to eat the forbidden fruit. He supposed he now had man in the same predicament as himself. But did he catch God by surprise? Of course not! God knew the outcome before the match was ever begun and used Satan's temptation to usher in that great gospel plot of saving man by Christ. At God's command, Christ undertook the charge of wrestling His fallen creatures from Satan's clutches and reinstating them to their original glory, with access to more than they ever had at first.
God never condones wickedness in His saints, but He does pity their weakness. He never sees a saint in mourning without planning to clothe him in the sunlight of His love and mercy. God can, in fact, use His saints' failures to strengthen their faith, which, like a tree, stands stronger for the shaking.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Two Ways We Get Life Wrong

The 'Parable of the Prodigal Son' found in Luke 15 is really the story of two lost sons. The younger son was estranged from the father by breaking the rules. The older son was estranged from the father by keeping them. Both were seeking to live life on their own terms, apart from a loving relationship with the father. Tim Chester, from the Crowded House, explains how this dynamic works.
There are two ways we get life wrong.
1. We want to be our own Lord instead of Jesus
In other words, I replace Jesus as Lord with Tim as Lord. I run my life my way. I want to be in charge. That often leads to behaviour that by moral standards is bad: ‘sex and drugs and rock-n-roll’. We do not think Jesus is enough. We do not think the rule of Jesus is the good life. So we replace Jesus with others things.But there is a second way we can get life wrong.
2. We want to be our own Saviour instead of Jesus
In other words, I replace Jesus as Saviour with Tim as saviour. I want to save myself by doing good things or I want to save other people by straightening out their lives or I want to save the world through good causes.Now, here’s the tricky thing: This way of getting life wrong often leads to behaviour that by moral standards is good behaviour. People who are trying to be their own saviour are going to live moral lives. Or they are going to be good husbands and wives and parents because they want to rescue their family. Or they are going to be involved in good causes, raising money for the poor or campaigning for justice or getting involved in the environmental issues.Those are all commendable things to do. So replacing Jesus as Saviour can look like a good life. They will be people in your congregation who are doing this and you will think they are doing great.But its fruit will eventually become apparent. It will lead to pride or frustration or stress or anxiety or manipulation. Think, for example, about a parent who is trying to save or sort out their children and who thinks it all depends on them. They might be manipulative or domineering as they attempt to control and protect their children. Or they might be bitter about their children’s behaviour or weighed down with stress.
The people who are rejecting Jesus as Lord will usually be easy to spot. But be on the look out for people who are rejecting Jesus as Saviour. I can think of people who have come to us highly recommended, but whose hard work turned out to be driven by deep insecurities. Gently and firmly we have taught them the good news of justification and adoption. I tell people who are rejecting Jesus as Lord to repent, find joy in Christ and change their ways. I tell people who are rejecting Jesus as Saviour to do … nothing. Stop. Listen. ‘It is finished.’ There is nothing left to do. You have a heavenly Father who loves you and cares for you.And look out for saviour-tendencies in your own heart. Many of us are rejecting the lordship of Jesus in some areas of our lives while trying to be a saviour in other areas. Here is the good news: Jesus is Lord and Saviour. And he is better Lord than you and a better Saviour than you.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Bonhoeffer Moment

In case you missed this or haven't seen it yet, you really owe it to yourself to watch this video. Eric's talk begins 35 mins in (on the C-SPAN video below) and ends with him leading the 3,500 assembled (including the President, Vice President, and Secretary of State) in singing “Amazing Grace”. This may be the most important 30 minutes you spend today.

As Eric says, this is a Bonhoeffer moment. As Christians, we need to lovingly, yet with full conviction stand for religious liberty, the freedom of conscience, traditional marriage, and the protection of all human life.

Here are two first steps. First, get informed and add your voice to the the more than500,000 people who have read and signed the Manhattan Declaration. And then share it with others on Facebook, Twitter, and by email.

Second, please take 60 seconds and sign this petition to the President and let him know that you want him to stand for religious liberty.

Chuck Colson and Timothy George on this issue in Christianity Today.

Read Eric Metaxas' New York Times bestselling book on Bonhoeffer: