Archive for October, 2009

A Challenge to Women

Last Sunday at Second Mile we studied God’s command for wives to submit to their husbands. As a follow up, I wanted to recommend John Piper’s article, “A Challenge to Women,” where he offers 15 challenges for godly women to embrace their unique and wonderful design.

Click here to read the article.

Which of these stand out to you the most?

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The History of “Amazing Grace”

One of the interesting observations from last week’s U2 concert was that, as Bono sang the song “Amazing Grace,” very few people around me seemed like they knew the song. They knew all the U2 stuff by heart, but they didn’t know this famous hymn. It struck me that this was another indication that our culture is much more post-Christian that many churches or Christians would like to think. Christians are foolish to assume that people know things that we might take for granted or think, “everybody knows that.”

Anyway, I’ve always loved this video about “Amazing Grace” and the story of how John Newton developed the music to his much-loved hymn.

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Bono on Grace Over Karma

Last night I went to my first U2 Concert, and it definitely lived up to the hype. Great show. I’ve been thinking a lot about it and plan to post some of the things I learned from the experience here soon. In the meantime, I wanted to share a quote and interview of Bono by Michka Assayas regarding the nature of the gospel and how it’s different from religion (I actually think his description might even be better than using the word “religion”).

Here’s an excerpt:

Bono You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

Assayas: I’d be interested to hear that.

Bono That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep s—. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

I’d encourage you to read the whole interview where Bono also clearly articulates an argument for the deity of Christ.

HT: Brian Ring

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Set Your Mind on Christ Challenge – Day 6

Well, the challenge has come to an end. I hope it was as refreshing for your heart as it was for mine. And, if you made it all the way through, congratulations! Be sure to leave your comments on what you learned today (Luke 22-24), as well as from this whole experience.

Observations:

  • Jesus does not see any conflict between the absolute sovereignty of God that determines things to take place and the human responsibility of people to do what is right (22:22).
  • At the very end of his ministry, Jesus is still teaching his disciples that greatness in his kingdom is defined differently than the world. They, like us, seem to be slow learners (22:26). [This is also an encouragement in ministry that you need to say the same things over and over and it will take many people a long time to get it]
  • Jesus has obvious love for his disciples (22:28-30, 32).
  • Jesus’ death is a fulfillment of Scripture and prophecy (22:37).
  • Jesus surrenders to his Father’s will (22:42).
  • Even those who are strongest and closest to Jesus will still have times of profound failure (22:60-62).
  • Jesus, the true King of Kings, is mocked as though he weren’t king at all. Ironic (23:11).
  • Jesus was not guilty (23:22).
  • Jesus is willing to forgive even those who are unjustly killing him (23:34).
  • Grace is amazing, undeserved, and available to even the most surprising people (23:39-43).
  • Jesus saw the whole of Scripture pointing to himself (24:27) [Wouldn’t you love to have a recording of that conversation?!?!]
  • Jesus rose with a real, tangible, able-to-eat-fish, physical body (24:39-43).
  • Jesus sends his people out with a message: “repentance and forgiveness of sins” (24:47).

How would I be different if this truth were explosively alive in my innermost being?

  • I would be thankful, humble, and eager to follow the Savior into any path of suffering or difficulty for the sake of others. His grace is awesome, in every conceivable way. I would also be assured of our victory in Jesus and bold to live out of the strength and power he supplies.

What about you? How is God using this passage in your life? Questions or Comments?

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Set Your Mind on Christ Challenge – Day 5

Well, we’re coming down the home stretch! Those of you that are still with us, congratulations — don’t let up now! We’d still love to get your comments and thoughts on what you’ve learned in Luke 17-21.

A resource that you might find helpful related to chapter 18 is this excellent Modern Parable video, “The Widow and the Judge.”

Observations:

  • Leading others into sin is one of the worst things a person could do (17:2).
  • Jesus views obedience as a normal and expected part of life (17:10).
  • Jesus knows that real life doesn’t consist of the temporary pleasures of life (17:33).
  • Jesus views prayer as a natural part of what it means to be the elect (18:7) and the evidence of whether we have faith (18:8).
  • Jesus never minimizes the cost of following him (18:18-30).
  • Jesus sees radical repentance as evidence of salvation (19:9).
  • Jesus expects his people to bear fruit until he comes again (19:11-27).
  • If we don’t worship Jesus, the natural creation will (19:40).
  • Jesus teaching was irresistibly engaging — “all the people were hanging on his words” (19:48).
  • Jesus fearlessly speaks against those he knows are seeking to destroy him (20:9-19).
  • Jesus is wise and refuses to get trapped by the crafty evil of his opponents (20:20-26).
  • Jesus is thrilled when we give out of our poverty. Sacrificial generosity most reflects his character (21:4).
  • Jesus is coming back. Get ready! (21:25-36).

How would I be different if this truth were explosively alive in my innermost being?

  • If I believed that Jesus was coming back at any moment, I would live with a greater sense of urgency and desire for radical holiness (That is actually what the focus of our upcoming Advent season will be). As Jonathan Edwards once resolved, “Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.”

What about you? How is God using this passage in your life? Questions or Comments?

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Set Your Mind on Christ Challenge – Day 4

How’s it going? You hanging with us in the challenge? It has been a lot to read, but it has also been so refreshing to be washed over with God’s word. Below you’ll find some of my thoughts and observations on Luke 12-16. The comments so far have been great, so keep them coming. Also, here are a few resources that might help you go deeper into a few different aspects of today’s reading:

Observations

  • Jesus makes it so abundantly clear that having a good relationship with God is the most important thing a person could have (12:5, 8, 21).
  • Jesus says that our life is more than the abundance of possessions (12:15).
  • Jesus says that the times that we might be most worried about our finances is the time that we should be generous and trust God (12:22-34).
  • The more you know, the more God expects of you (12:47).
  • Human and natural disasters should serve as warnings that we need to repent (13:2-5).
  • The Sabbath was designed for healthful, life-giving rest, not restriction (13:16; 14:5).
  • People from all over the world will be saved (13:29), but the door into the kingdom is narrow (13:24).
  • Jesus-centered living is humble (14:11) and wildly generous (14:12-14).
  • The things that keep us from Jesus are not always the bad things, but the ordinary good things — like land, oxen, and a wife — that we love more than him (14:18-20).
    • About this, John Piper has written: “The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for Heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night. For all the ill that Satan can do, when God describes what keeps us from the banquet table of his love, it is a piece of land, a yoke of oxen, and a wife (Luke 14:18-20). The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable…“The pleasures of this life” … are not evil in themselves. These are not vices. These are gifts of God. They are your basic meat and potatoes and coffee and gardening and reading and decorating and traveling and investing and TV-watching and Internet-surfing and shopping and exercising and collecting and talking. And all of them can become deadly substitutes for God.” (John Piper, Hunger for God, 14-15)
  • Following Jesus is costly and the decision to follow him should be taken seriously (14:25-33).
  • God is seeking after those things that are lost, and has great joy when they’re found (ch. 15).
  • God seeks after the rebellious younger brothers and the self-righteous elder brothers, both of whom are alienated from his heart (15:20-32). Listen to Tim Keller preach about this here.
  • Jesus says you can’t serve two masters (16:13).
  • Hell is serious business (16:19-31).

How would I be different if this truth were explosively alive in my innermost being?

  • There is a new level of gravity and life-or-death seriousness that marks Jesus’ teaching in this passage. If that truth were explosively alive in my innermost being, I would take sin more seriously in my own life, more boldly share the gospel with those far from God, fearlessly challenge those who claim to know Christ but don’t have much fruit to show for it, and see people with the compassion that God has for them. That really would be a way of thinking that would be setting my mind on Christ.

What about you? How is God using this passage in your life? Questions or Comments?

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Set Your Mind on Christ Challenge – Day 3

I hope you’re hanging in there with the challenge. I’m sure enjoying all the rich lessons from immersing myself in Jesus this week. Be sure to leave your comments and questions. We’d love to hear how this is shaping you!

Observations:

  • Jesus’ ministry is constantly proclaiming good news with his mouth and being good news with his deeds.
  • Jesus expects that his people will obey him. This theme is relentless (6:46; 8:15, 21; 11:28).
  • Jesus has authority over nature (calming storm), legions of demons (the Demoniac), sickness (the woman with the issue of blood), and even death (Jairus’ daughter).
  • Following Jesus means following him into costly suffering (9:22-27, 57-62).
  • We should listen to Jesus, God’s Son (9:35)
  • Jesus equates following him with “proclaiming the kingdom of God” (9:60).
  • Jesus longs for kingdom workers to go to the harvest fields (10:2).
  • Loving our neighbor happens anytime his need meets our opportunity (10:25-37).
  • Our serving should not get in the way of our humble listening to Jesus (10:41-42).
  • Our prayer life should begin with adoring God’s fame and seeking first his kingdom, even before our needs (11:2).
  • God would love to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask (11:13).
  • Jesus cares more about the heart than the outward appearance (11:39-44).

How would I be different if this truth were explosively alive in my innermost being?

  • I would not only be willing to serve those in need, but eager to do so. Jesus seems eager to bless people, help them, and care for them. Even when the crowds get overwhelming or the need seems too great, he doesn’t get flustered. Rather, he helps them with grace and truth. May God make me a man who loves to serve!

What about you? How is God using this passage in your life? Questions or Comments?

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