Saturday, July 19, 2014

Quote of the Day

Once we know that we’re forever loved by Jesus, we’re free to love others regardless of the risk, because our deep need to love will be satisfied.

Tchividjian, Tullian (2010-04-23). Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels (p. 160). Crossway. Kindle Edition. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Are these words still true today?

So there’s such a thing as running from God in our obedience as well as in our disobedience. Even when Jonah obeys God’s call, it becomes clear that his heart’s not in it. 

It’s possible to do the right thing with the wrong heart—and when we do that, it proves we don’t know the heart of God.

Tchividjian, Tullian (2010-04-23). Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels (p. 122). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

This speaks to me today. I really don't want to go into why. But just the idea that we are justified because we (fill in the blank), God is pleased is so ridiculous. It reminds me of the parable where a father sends his two sons to go and work in the field.

Matthew 21
28 “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work inthe vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went.30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go.31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

Imagine the reaction of the listeners. It is likely that the chief priests and elders were among the crowd. Surely they thought that Jesus was full of himself. Imagine saying that tax collectors and prostitutes would gt into the kingdom of God before them! Wouldn't most of us be just as indignant if we heard words like this today? But has the nature of man changed so much that the same words are not still true?

True obedience in the Bible never means mere external compliance to God’s rules. Obedience that honors God flows from a heart that loves him and wants nothing more than to please him by doing everything he asks. 

And yet, although Jonah’s obedience was so flawed, God still used him to accomplish his purpose in Nineveh. That should continue to encourage us.

Tchividjian, Tullian (2010-04-23). Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels (p. 123). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

And yet there is hope. I wonder what ever happened to Jonah. Did this experience change him? Did he finally get it? There is always hope.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Quote of the Day

Both the Bible and church history show that God does everything through those who understand they are nothing, and God does nothing through those who think they are everything.

Tchividjian, Tullian (2010-04-23). Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels (p. 102). Crossway. Kindle Edition. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Trade that window for a mirror, and maybe you'll see things differently.

Tullian quotes Keller:

Jesus’ teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted do not bother coming to our churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did.

Tchividjian, Tullian (2010-04-23). Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels (p. 150). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Is it no wonder that in today's world of American Christianity, there is little difference in the statistics on divorce and etc. when compared to the secular world. Would not the very words of Jesus, if spoken today by Him to us in the manner that they were spoken then offend and turn many away? But, of course, we don't hear them like that. We apply His words to others. To those outside the church. To that other denomination that is so wrong. To the guy sitting next to us because we know what he really did last night. But not to me.

So how do we fix this?

Friday, July 11, 2014

What is true repentance?

Bible teachers often distinguish between two kinds of repentance. The first kind is what they call attrition. It isn’t heartfelt sorrow for wrongdoing but a selfishly motivated response to potential punishment. This could well be Jonah’s response. His willingness to go to Nineveh now in order to avoid further discipline can be seen as an act of attrition—external, self-preserving, and even self-centered. 

The second kind of repentance Bible teachers talk about is contrition. Contrition is true repentance. It entails heartfelt sorrow for offending God and others. It involves not just turning away from disobedience, but also turning toward obedience. It’s an external change motivated by an internal change. It’s self-sacrificial. It’s God-centered. 

False repentance, or no repentance, leads to bitterness, anger, and unwillingness to acknowledge wrongdoing. Until we can recognize our own wrongdoing, we’ll continue to be mastered by this self-centered bondage. Our relationships will continue to be strained and frayed. Freedom comes only with true repentance.

Tchividjian, Tullian (2010-04-23). Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels (p. 106). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

To pray, or not to pray. That is the Calvinist's question.

“Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?”

Tchividjian, Tullian (2010-04-23). Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels (p. 99). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Why do Calvinist's pray? So many mistakenly believe that Calvinism is fatalistic, that if God has already decided you fate, why try to do anything about it? Why not just live as you please, because God has already
sealed your fate.

Consider David here for a moment. God has already told him the child will die. David has no reason to doubt this. But he hopes. He hopes that God might be gracious in this one thing. Yet he accepts. He accepts that God may not.

So we pray. We work out our salvation "with fear and trembling." I believe one of the reasons we do this is because of all the people who can fool us, we are the one we need to be most wary of. We worship and trust. We don't take God for granted.

So what does David do when the child dies? He worships God. And those around him think he is crazy for doing it. But David knew what he was doing. After all, he was a man after God's own heart.

Monday, July 7, 2014

What do you think?

Equally significant here is how Jonah says it was God, not the sailors, who cast him into the deep.

Tchividjian, Tullian (2010-04-23). Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels (p. 67). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

I think a lot of people struggle with the idea of God being responsible for evil. I guess I have my own take on this whole idea. Here goes...

Evil was not created by God. Evil exists because good exists. Good would not be recognizable without evil, like high and low, or near and far. They are opposites, and help define each other. They are adjectives in this sense, descriptive words that define something. God is good. God is not evil.

So, used as an adjective, they describe things. In this case it is an action. God sends Jonah into the sea. An "evil" action, because it causes Jonah to suffer. Like sending His Son to the cross. Or sending a "harmful" spirit to Saul (1 Samuel 16:14). And we don't like to think of God as doing harmful or evil stuff.

But God is sovereign. He is in control of everything. Even the evil stuff. Thing about God is, He can use that evil for His own good. Like casting Jonah into the sea to be swallowed by a huge fish to be vomited up on know the rest of the story. Or sending His Son to die on a cross. God is not exempt from the suffering of evil. To me, that does not make Him less God. And Scripture teaches it is because of this very fact, that Jesus did suffer, that He can fully identify with us.

Consider Job for a moment. Satan asked to have a go at him, and God granted his request, but put some limitations on it. So who is in charge? Is it Satan who requested it, or God who granted it? So when I read, "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it" I can trust that statement, because God not only knows me, He knows suffering and temptation.

Sometimes it is hard to see the good that comes out of evil things. The book makes it clear that sometimes the things we want to change do not change. A person dies of cancer. A child starves. Horrific events claim untold lives. I don't always see the good. Consider Job. Even having more at the end than at the beginning does not take away the pain of losing his children, does it? But God was there throughout. Not giving explanations or accusations. He was just there being God. And ultimately, that is what Job needed. It is what we all need.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Quote of the Day

The gospel doesn’t make bad people good; it makes dead people alive.

Tchividjian, Tullian (2010-04-23). Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels (p. 56). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

What is the weather like for tomorrow?

Until we see God-sent storms as interventions and not punishments, we’ll never get better; we’ll only get bitter.

Tchividjian, Tullian (2010-04-23). Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels (p. 57). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

When thinking about grace, it is hard to see suffering as an act of grace. But think about being a parent. Sometimes a parent must discipline a child so that the child can learn truth. We intervene by taking away or not allowing computer privileges so that the child will not be in danger from predators. "But Johnnie's parents let him have his own laptop with full internet access." Do we take away their pain and expose them to danger?

Of course, if you read the whole book, it's not just about getting better, it's about getting better through understanding who we are in God's eyes, and how He is with us in the storm.

I wonder what the forecast for tomorrow is.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

When will the world see that we need __________.

In The Reason for God, Tim Keller writes this:

If you’re avoiding sin and living morally so that God will have to bless you and save you, then you may be looking to Jesus as a teacher, model, and helper, but ironically you are avoiding him as Savior.

Tchividjian, Tullian (2010-04-23). Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels (p. 56). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

I love Tim Keller's writing.

It's that whole house on the sand theme that started 2 posts ago. It's that whole Gospel theme that men like Keller, Tchividjian, Chandler, etc. seem to never let go of.

We need more of Jesus, not more of our own effort. Until we see that, we are just spinning our wheels. The answer to the blank in the title is Jesus, not more effort!