Did I Make A Bad Decision?

Have you ever asked or been asked that question?  I have - even recently.  I'm sure you have as well.  This video is helpful...

A Place at the Table: A Review

I wonder if the vast of majority of Christians have actually sought to identify with the poor and needy?  I mean, I'm sure many have - or at least support the idea - or at least talk about supporting the idea.  But I wonder if many have actually done it?

There seems to me at least to have been a push in recent years within the Christian community for "social justice".  (As an aside, that on the surface seems quite sad to me.  Even a cursory reading of Scripture would lead anyone to believe that this should be something the Church should be deeply invested in.)  And at the same time there has been a push back to safeguard doctrine and gospel integrity.  Basically saying that to feed the hungry physically apart from feeding them spiritually is tantamount to sending someone to Hell with a full stomach.  To which I would agree.  The problem, however, is that sharing the gospel with the hungry and leaving them "hungry" is just as wrong.

"A Place at the Table; 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor", by Chris Seay, "invites you on a journey of self-examination, discipline, and renewed focus on Jesus that will change your life forever."  Well at least that's what the book promises on the back cover.  So does it live up to the billing?  In short, for me, yes it did.  Personally, it struck a healthy balance on the above mentioned tension.  As for a review, I am finding it very difficult to write one.  The book really isn't a book (if that makes any sense at all).  It is more of a devotional guide.  And rather than a focus on the poor and needy, I found it to be more pointed at me, the reader.  Indeed, as stated, that is the purpose.

There are plenty of resources available to help on the "journey" as well. (Full disclosure...I didn't view any of the resources while reading for review purposes, because I read it in 3 days.  But, if one was to take 40 days to fully participate, I think they would be beneficial.)

Now, I am fully aware that this wasn't much of an in-depth review as far as likes and dislikes (there were a couple).  So let me just close with this...

At the beginning of Day 13 in the book, the author quotes Blaise Pascal saying, "All of man's misfortune comes from one thing, which is not knowing how to sit quietly in a room."  That has stuck with me.  "A Place at the Table" forced me to sit quietly and reflect on my walk, and I didn't like what I was "hearing".  The book spoke to me, pastorally, and I trust by God's grace has changed me.  I am thankful to have read it and would recommend it.

Here is a trailer...

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group

What Kind of Men Does God Use?

Horatius Bonar, writing the preface to John Gillies’ Accounts of Revival regarding the leaders of the First Great Awakening, proposed that men useful to the Holy Spirit for revival stand out in these nine ways:
1.  They are in earnest: “They lived and labored and preached like men on whose lips the immortality of thousands hung.”
2.  They are bent on success: “As warriors, they set their hearts on victory and fought with the believing anticipation of triumph, under the guidance of such a Captain as their head.”
3.  They are men of faith: “They knew that in due season they should reap, if they fainted not.”
4.  They are men of labor: “Their lives are the annals of incessant, unwearied toil of body and soul; time, strength, substance, health, all they were and possessed they freely offered to the Lord, keeping back nothing, grudging nothing.”
5.  They are men of patience: “Day after day they pursued what, to the eye of the world, appeared a thankless and fruitless round of toil.”
6.  They are men of boldness: “Timidity shuts many a door of usefulness and loses many a precious opportunity; it wins no friends, while it strengthens every enemy.  Nothing is lost by boldness, nor gained by fear.”
7.  They are men of prayer: “They were much alone with God, replenishing their own souls out of the living fountain, that out of them might flow to their people rivers of living water.”
8.  They are men of strong doctrine: “Their preaching seems to have been of the most masculine and fearless kind, falling on the audience with tremendous power.  It was not vehement, it was not fierce, it was not noisy; it was far too solemn to be such; it was massive, weighty, cutting, piercing, sharper than a two-edged sword.”
9.  They are men of deep spirituality: “No frivolity, no flippancy . . . . The world could not point to them as being but slightly dissimilar from itself.”

7 Marks of Humility

Paul Tautges...

  1. Humility begins in the mind. The reason the apostle exhorts believers to “be of the same mind” (v. 2) toward one another is because humility—the unifying glue in every Christian relationship—begins in the mind. Before Jesus humbled Himself to be conceived in the virgin’s womb, and born in a dirty feed trough, He consciously thought of Himself, and thus treated Himself, as lower than the ones He came to save.
  2. Humility is a conscious choice of the will. The effect of regarding “one another as more important” than oneself (v. 3) is caused by the will’s resolve to “do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit.” In obedience to the Father’s will (Jn 4:34), Jesus made the decision to resist any road—whether small or great—that intentionally moved Him toward self-glory.
  3. Humility is an attitude of the heart. A conscious choice of the will can sometimes be cold and hard (with us, not with Jesus). But such was not the case with Jesus’s self-lowering. When He chose to lift us and our need of redemption above His own personal right to be worshipped every moment of every day, and with every breath that human beings have ever breathed, it flowed from the heart attitude of love. Truly, as Jesus loved the twelve…with an everlasting love, “He loved them to the end” (Jn 13:1) so He has loved us. Hence the apostle’s call to have “this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus” (v. 5).
  4. Humility lowers oneself, while at the same time entrusts the possibility of any future exaltation with God. Humility is content with the absence of earthly recognition because of the infinite superiority of the heavenly. Jesus refused to treat His own right to personal glory as “a thing to be grasped [held tightly so as to never let go]” and, therefore, lowered Himself. He “emptied Himself” only in the sense that He took on something foreign to Him—the weakness of human flesh, which temporarily hid the fullness of His glory. He lowered Himself to “the form of a bond-servant” by being made in the likeness of men (v. 7). 
  5. Humility’s earthly end is death. True humility expects no glory in this short life. Rather it accepts death as its rightful end (at least death to self, but perhaps even physical death, as in the case of Jesus). Jesus humbled Himself “to the point of death” (v. 8). The Author of life subjected Himself to death—the just punishment reserved for sinners who defied the Creator’s first command (Gen 2:17).
  6. Humility accepts the likelihood of earthly shame. The death Jesus died was not a private, clinically-sterile death. It was in the public square, as filthy and vile as death could possibly be when dark sin is its cause. That’s why the apostle chose the phrase “even death on a cross” (v. 8). Crucifixion was the most humiliating form of torture known and practiced by the Romans. Jesus knew this ahead of time…before He chose to submit His will to the Father’s good pleasure to crush Him (Isa 53:10).
  7. Humility’s heavenly end is exaltation. “Therefore” says it all (v. 9). The eventual result of the voluntary humiliation of Jesus is His exaltation to the Father’s right hand and the receipt of “the name which is above every name.” One day the then humble Savior will be recognized as the all-glorious Lord, which was always His true station. Then, and only then, will every creature be required to lower himself before His throne and accurately behold His rightful exaltation by the Father (v. 10). When this occurs every tongue will be loosed to glorify Him by declaring “He Is Lord.”

Middle-Aged White Guy's Guide to Christian Rap!

BAM!  That's what I'm talkin' 'bout!

HT / Challies

Pray for the Persecuted Church

HERE is a list of the 50 most-watched countries for church persecution.

Do you have five minutes to spare?  Watch this...

Good Purposes In Suffering

Rebecca offers some good thoughts on suffering here...
  1. Suffering works to advance the gospel. In these two cases, it’s the suffering of persecution that helps spread the gospel, but I’m sure other kinds of suffering can work this way, too.
    I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ (Philippians 1:12-13 ESV).

    Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord (Acts 11: 19-21 ESV).
  2. Suffering spurs other believers to faith in Christ.  It may be that I should have included this verse with item #1, but I’m not sure. I’m thinking that it might not be saying here that Paul’s suffering advances the gospel, but rather that Paul’s faithfulness in affliction would spur other believers to keep on trusting God through difficult times. What do you think?
  3. …always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you (2 Corinthians 4:10-12 ESV).
  4. Suffering shows our weakness, demonstrating Christ’s power in us
  5. But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV).
  6. Suffering teaches us to trust God and not our own abilities. This is similar to #3, except this time the lesson is for us rather than others.
  7. For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1: 8-9 ESV).
  8. Suffering shows the genuineness of our faith
  9. ….you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1: 6-7 ESV).
  10. Suffering produces righteousness in us.
  11. It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? …..For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:7, 11 ESV).
    ….we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope… (Romans 5:3-4 ESV). Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-3 ESV).
  12. Suffering makes us value and long for what is eternal.
  13. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 ESV).
  14. Suffering brings us heavenly reward. 2 Corinthians 4:17 (directly above) could be used as a text here, too.
  15. ….we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:17-18 ESV).
  16. Suffering give us the ability to comfort and encourage others in their suffering. We suffer and God comforts us, and our experience of God’s comfort enables us to comfort others.
  17. …the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV).

    Trusting God - FREE!

    This months free selection from Christian Audio is...

    Just click the pic!

    Because obeying God makes sense to us. In most cases, His laws appear reasonable and wise, and even when we don’t want to obey them, we usually concede that they are good for us. But the circumstances we find ourselves in often defy explanation.
    When unexpected situations arise that appear unjust, irrational, or even dreadful, we feel confused and frustrated. And before long, we begin to doubt God’s concern for us or His control over our lives. Adversity is hard to endure and can even be harder to understand. If God were really in control, why would He allow the tragic auto accident or crucial job loss? How could He permit cancer in a loved one or the death of a child?
    Grappling with His concern for us we ask, “Why is God allowing this?” or “What have I done wrong?” In an effort to strengthen his own trust in God during a time of adversity, Jerry Bridges began a lengthy Bible study on the topic of God’s sovereignty. What he learned changed his life, and he now shares the fruit of that study with you in Trusting God.
    As you begin to explore the scope of God’s power over nations, nature, and the detailed lives of individuals, you’ll begin to acknowledge His loving control. And as you come to know Him better, you’ll find yourself trusting Him more completely—even when life hurts.