Archive for November, 2014

“My thesis in this book is that we must turn from the frantic search for “something more” to “something more sustainable.” We need to stop adding something more of ourselves to the gospel. We need to be content with the gospel as God’s power for salvation. We also need to be content with his ordinary means of grace that, over time, yield a harvest of plenty for everyone to enjoy.”

Horton, Michael S. (2014-10-07). Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World (p. 126). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

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“At its heart sin is the eclipse of thankfulness toward God (Rom 1: 21). Why thankfulness? Because rather than seeing ourselves as self -creators who choose our own identity and purpose, the biblical worldview tells us that we are on the receiving end of our existence. We are beholden to someone else. Our life is a gift from God, not our own achievement. And our ingratitude is the clearest expression that we have idolized ourselves.”

Horton, Michael S. (2014-10-07). Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World (p. 89). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

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To an evangelical culture that is always looking for the next big thing, the next big movement of God, Michael Horton asks:

Is it not remarkable enough that Jesus Christ himself is speaking to us whenever his Word is preached each week?  Is it not a miracle enough that a lush garden is blooming in the desert of this present evil age? Is it not enough of a wonder that the Spirit is still raising those who are spiritually dead to life through this preached gospel? Is water baptism an outward pledge that we make in response to a decision we made to be born again? Or is it a means of God’s miraculous grace? And is it not sufficient that those who belong to Christ are growing in the grace and knowledge of his Word, strengthened in their faith by the regular administration of the Supper, common fellowship in doctrine, prayer, and praise, guided by elders and served by deacons?

If our Christian life is grounded in a radical experience, we will keep looking for repeat performances. Not slow growth in the same direction, but radical spikes in the graph. This keeps us always on the prowl for The Next Big Thing.

Horton, Michael S. (2014-10-07). Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World (p. 81). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Horton, Michael S. (2014-10-07). Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World (p. 80). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.


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Here’s a question I’d like you “weigh in” on today:

How does the technology we use shape us, for better and worse?  

I’m thinking through this question in light of this quote:

Technology has always rearranged our social and psychic furniture. As Jesuit priest and media scholar John Culkin pointed out, “We shape our tools and thereafter they shape us.” Ever since the printing press, evangelicals have always been at the front of the line for new technologies for spreading the Word. Radio, TV, the Web, and worship with rock bands, video clips, and PowerPoint presentations have become common.

There are two easy responses to technological innovation: embrace it or reject it. As evangelicals, we have a tendency to embrace popular culture, with its bent toward the ephemeral. Ironically, while we jazz up our worship spaces with gadgets and glitz, it is often specialists of technology and culture who caution greater reflection . One thinks of Marshal McLuhan’s The Medium Is the Message and Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death. In his bestseller, The Shallows, Nicholas Carr argues that in the Internet age we are losing our capacity for deep thinking, reading, and conversation. Instead of deep sea divers, he says, we jet ski on a sea of words and especially images.  Having taught a generation of students to develop new technologies, MIT professor Sherry Turkle raises this question from a commonsense perspective. The title of one of her recent books tells the story: Alone Together: Why We Expect More of Technology and Less of Each Other.

Horton, Michael S. (2014-10-07). Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World (p. 61). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Your thoughts?

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medium_11418034054Following Christ’s return to heaven, God’s plan for continuing what His Son had done focused on the Holy Spirit. Four times Jesus identified the Holy Spirit as a “Helper”

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,” (John 14:16)

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26)

““But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” (John 15:26)

“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7)

Translators of the King James Version call Him “another comforter.” In the New American Standard Bible He’s identified as “another helper.” Why these different English titles? The word in the language of the Greek New Testament is parakletos, and it’s transliterated into English as “another paraclete.” The important correlation here is that the Greek verb parakaleo is frequently translated “to encourage.” Therefore, it would also be appropriate to identify the Holy Spirit in this passage as “another encourager” which is why the King James Version uses the synonym “comforter.”

At this time in their lives, the apostles were very fearful. Their hearts were “troubled” (John 14:27). Hatred toward them by the religious leaders in Jerusalem had never been more intense. It was no secret that there had been several attempts to kill their Leader. This was why Jesus “no longer walked openly among the Jews”(John 11:54) No wonder these men were frightened and discouraged when Jesus announced His plans to leave them!

In actuality, Jesus was not going to leave them. He would still be present in the person of the Holy Spirit.The Holy Spirit was then to be “another Counselor” or “another encourager”. He would continue Christ’s work on earth. He would never leave the apostles or others who followed Christ.

Rejoice today, Christian friend, that you have a great Encourager, the best one there is, in the Holy Spirit of God!

photo credit: the past tends to disappear via photopin cc

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Here are some links I found worth a few minutes or more of your time today.medium_5687735193

The State of Theology: Sin Is Not Cosmic Treason: by Stephen Nichols

Dr. Sproul tells the story of receiving a particular book in the mail. It was Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, the classic reference collection of all sayings quotable. The publisher sent this new edition to him because it included a quote from Dr. Sproul. The quote is a memorable four words: “Sin is cosmic treason.”

While the editors at Bartlett’s liked it, most people don’t agree with it. In fact, 75% of the American population disagrees with it. That would be cause for concern enough. Consider this, however. 51% of Evangelical Protestants don’t agree that sin is cosmic treason, either.

15 Ways to Please Your Husband by Barbara Rainey

Romans 15:2–3 tells us, “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself . . .”

If you’re married, who is your closest neighbor? Your husband.

Sometimes the smallest gestures can make the biggest difference in your marriage.

How can you edify (build, improve) your mate and thereby enhance his self-worth? By discovering—and doing—what pleases him.

If you are creative, pleasing your mate may be a natural part of your personality. But a less creative person may need some coaching in becoming a partner pleaser. And all of us need an occasional cue card to remind us to reach out.

Here are a few ideas. . . .

How To Live In A World That’s Shaking, Cracking and Crumbling by Mark Altrogge

Do you ever feel like the world is cracking and beginning to crumble?  ISIS, Ebola, changing sexual morals, disintegrating families, escalating crime, drugs, suicides….I don’t need to elaborate.  The world is shaking.  It’s passing away.  But believers in Jesus need not fear or be depressed, for God has given us an unshakeable kingdom

Who Do You Say That I Am? by Kevin DeYoung

The greatness of God is most clearly displayed in his Son. And the glory of the gospel is only made evident in his Son. That’s why Jesus’ question to his disciples is so important: “Who do you say that I am?”

The question is doubly crucial in our day because not every Jesus is the real Jesus. Almost no one is as popular in this country as Jesus. Hardly anyone would dare to say a bad word about him. Just look at what a super-fly friendly dude he is over there. But how many people know the real Jesus?

There’s Republican Jesus who is against tax increases and activists judges, and for family values and owning firearms.

There’s Democrat Jesus who is against Wall Street and Walmart, and for reducing our carbon footprint and spending other people’s money.

There’s Therapist Jesus who helps us cope with life’s problems, heals our past, tells us how valuable we are and not to be so hard on ourselves.

World Magazine reports on the massive influx of money into Biologos for its aggressive campaign to spread its message. Of course, what is disturbing is that Christians and Christian institutions seem eager (to the tune of millions of dollars) to demolish a key tenet of historic Christian orthodoxy. The reason given by Biologos for its campaign to undermine the witness of Scripture is the reason so often given to justify such projects: “People cannot be expected to believe supernatural nonsense.” One wonders how the incarnation, atonement or resurrection of Christ can survive such a standard. HT: Todd Pruit

photo credit: Alaska Library Association via photopin cc

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So how was church this past Sunday?

What does your answer say about you? About God? About your church?

I’d enjoying hear your comments.

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