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Archive for July, 2012

Mark Altrogge talks about a family who gave up on God because things didn’t turn out they way they expected in life.  “It Wasn’t Supposed to Be This Way” ends:

“We should not be amazed that we suffer; we should be amazed we don’t suffer more than we do.

It helps me to remember that not only do I deserve any thing bad that happens to me, I deserve far worse – I deserve to burn in hell for eternity for my sins. Of course I’d never tell anyone in their sadness or suffering you deserve to be in hell so buck up, but it helps me keep things in perspective for myself when I’m tempted to complain.

So when is it appropriate to say “It wasn’t supposed to be this way?” Whenever something good happens to us! Whenever we are blessed! It wasn’t supposed to be this way – I sinned and rebelled against God – yet look how he has blessed me!

So don’t obey God thinking he’ll owe you, for God owes no one a thing. Serve him out of gratitude for all he’s done for you and because you love him. Serve him for his glory.

No, it wasn’t supposed to be this way. And aren’t you glad?”

Read the whole article here.

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“God is a talking God. The first action that is described under this general rubric “God created the heavens and the earth” is “God said, ‘Let there be light’” (1:3). I suppose one could understand this to be a kind of metaphorical way of saying that God brought the heavens and earth into being by his power and that he did not actually utter any words; the expression is metaphorical. Fine. Could be. Except that once Adam and Eve are made, then he actually addresses them and gives them some responsibilities: “This is what you are to do. This is what marriage will look like.” He speaks to them. So the God of the Bible in the very first chapter is not some abstract “unmoved mover,” some spirit impossible to define, some ground of all beings, some mystical experience. He has personality and dares to disclose himself in words that human beings understand. Right through the whole Bible, that picture of God constantly recurs. However great or transcendent he is, he is a talking God.”

~D. A. Carson~, The God Who Is There (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Book House Company; 2010) via Crossquotes

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Dr. David Garner has written an extensive essay (and yes it is very long) at Reformation21 (Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals) about the Jerry Sandusky scandal.  “Is Sandusky Really a Bad Guy After All?” is the most comprehensive, most systematic, most theological response to the biggest news story in sports. Garner goes really deep and long but if you want to understand what is happening in our culture I would encourage you to read it slowly and thoroughly.  You may not agree with all of Garner’s points but it will make you think much more biblically and seriously about this whole sordid story–which as Garner argues may one day not be viewed as so sordid.

A few excerpts. First on ethics:

 Our authority for ethical decisions extends from us. Our vice grip upon moral independence is unyielding. While ethical boundaries fluctuate, the determination that the boundaries belong to us has been driven like pilings into our corporate conscience. Non-negotiable is my ownership of ethics, a commitment which makes wholly negotiable the ethics themselves.

Thus, our conception of ethics necessarily functions on a continuum; ethics are fluid, as the culturally acceptable bubble drifts over months, years, and decades. Combine such floating with our practical disdain for self-reflective and self-critical history, and one finds a formula for the ethical elasticity of anything over time. Children are really not as safe as our current collective indignation about Sandusky and company might lead us to believe.
Again on modern ethics:

What of this? Can our Western culture sustain itself on a floating ethic grounded in the demands for moral self-law? Beneath this vital practical question is the fundamental question of authority – the question of epistemology, or the theory of how we know what we know. Who established the cultural standard that ethics are decided by consequences rather than standards? Who decided that consensual sexual expression is OK, but certain forms of coercion are not? The answer, it seems, is both revealing and unnervingly arbitrary. We did. And we continue to do so.

On Sandusky’s actions, Garner writes:

So then, is Mr. Sandusky really that bad? Measured by today’s norms and today’s blogs, he’s a certifiable scumbag. That’s today, but what about tomorrow? Given another day and another time, Sandusky could find himself the poster child for moral self-expression. Our dominant cultural ethical paradigm turns such plausibility into likelihood.

The truth of the matter is that Sandusky is really bad, and in fact, he’s much worse than the nastiest of our current cultural fury imagines. No matter how persistent it may be, no amount of societal indignation, legal consequence, or ostracization is commensurate with the perversion of his wickedness. Yes, lives are damaged, families wrecked, and a highly respected and now badly beaten educational institution reels on the ropes. It is all ugly, despicably ugly.
But none of that tells the truly gruesome story. Sandusky’s final court is neither public opinion nor even the Attorney General. He is not bad because our current shared sentiment declares him so. Sandusky’s sin is first a sin against God, his Maker. His moral accountability is comprehensive and his guilt pervasive. He will give an account. His moral failure was not finally his violation of our floating cultural norm, but a violation in heart and deed of the law of God. Mr. Sandusky is a man in the image of God and made for the glory of God. He has fallen well short of the revealed divine standard. His sinful heart and his cruel life expose rebellion, deeply rooted and personally intractable. He has leapt from the ocean of divine moral prescription, dragging others with him. His life reeks of this rebellion, and left to his own, he cannot come back.
And finally, what about us:
 Don’t let Sandusky’s paraded perversions lead you merely to partnership in self-righteous, societal indignation. To do so would be to extend the perversion and to miss the leading lesson. Instead, be honest. Grapple seriously with the rebellious inadequacy of our flighty, socially determined paradigm of ethics. Face the consummate failures of your own heart to meet the demands of a holy God. Yield to the fact that your longings for autonomy in ethics have chained you, not freed you. Turn nowhere else but toward God himself: his law, his demands, and his forgiveness in Christ. Only before God will we see ourselves as we really are, and only there will we discover the life of freedom.

That’s just a few snippets. Read all of “Is Sandusky Really Such a Bad Guy After All?

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Jon Bloom begins an article on spiritual spatial disorientation (a.k.a doubt) this way:

“Spatial disorientation” is what a pilot experiences when he’s flying in weather conditions that prevent him from being able to see the horizon or the ground. Points of reference that guide his senses disappear. His perceptions become unreliable. He can no longer be sure which way is up or down. It can be deadly — it killed John Kennedy, Jr.1

The only way a pilot can overcome spatial disorientation is to trust his cockpit instruments more than his intuitive senses to tell him what is real. That’s why flight instructors force student pilots to learn to fly planes by the instruments alone.

There is a spiritual parallel. I’ve experienced it. On a spring day in May 1997, I flew into a spiritual storm.

The details are too lengthy, but essentially I had a crisis of faith. I entered a tempest of doubt like nothing I had experienced before. God, who I had known and loved since late childhood, suddenly became clouded from my spiritual sight. I couldn’t see him anywhere. It got very dark in my soul and swirling winds of fear blew with gale force. The turbulence of hopelessness was violent. Not knowing which way was up or down, I found myself in spiritual spatial disorientation.

I was panicky at first. I swerved back and forth desperately trying to get my bearings. But one day a thought hit me with unusual clarity: “Jon, fly by the instruments. That’s what they’re for. Stop trusting your perceptions. Trust what the instruments tell you.”

In the years leading up to this experience God. . .

Keep reading “When You Are in a Spiritual Storm” what God did for Jon and what He can do for you in seasons of darkness and doubt.

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If you are grieving the loss of a loved one or friend, then may I suggest you go over to Justin Taylor’s post “Loving Those Who Grieve” and look at some of the resources available there.

If you really want to love those who are grieving, I would also suggest that you listen to what a few people who experienced deep grief have to say about what is helpful and what is not helpful to those in sorrow.

Justin post include personal reflections, books and some video as well.  Gracious resources for those grieving or those who really want to minister in love and not make things worse.

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Nearly all reject the weak and poor as objects of disgust; an earthly king cannot bear the sight of them, rulers turn away from them, while the rich ignore them and pass them by when they meet them as though they did not exist; nobody thinks it desirable to associate with them.

But God, who is served by myriads of powers without number, who “upholds the universe by the word of His power,” whose majesty is beyond anyone’s endurance, has not disdained to become the Father, the Friend, the Brother of those rejected ones. He willed to become incarnate so that He might become “like unto us in all things except for sin” and make us to share in His glory and His kingdom.

What stupendous riches of His great goodness! What an ineffable condescension on the part of our master and our God.

– Symeon the New Theologian
Discourse 2.4

HT: TWax

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Get it here in ebook format

About this book:

Earnestly consider your role in completing the Great Commission.

That was John Piper’s overarching plea when he delivered a biographical message on Adoniram Judson in 2003.

Judson was America’s first foreign missionary and an example of one who considered, and executed on, his own uniquely strategic role in the completing of the Commission.

Though warned not to go to Burma, he entered the country almost 200 years ago — in July of 1813 — and there invested the next 38 years of his life preaching Christ where he had not been named.

And the cost was very high. But in God’s perfect economy, his suffering had a plain purpose. As Piper explains, “I am persuaded from Scripture and from the history of missions that God’s design for the evangelization of the world and the consummation of his purposes includes the suffering of his ministers and missionaries.”

Originally an address to pastors, Piper’s biography of Judson is now available in a short e-book that leads us to ask the same challenging question, “Might God be calling you to fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ, to fall like a grain of wheat into some distant ground and die, to hate your life in this world and so to keep it forever and bear much fruit?”

An EPUB file is formatted for readers like the Nook, Sony Reader, and Apple iBooks (iPad, iPhone, iPod). A MOBI file is formatted for Kindle applications (this option works well on some mobile devices, and not so well on others).

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