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Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

From Justin Taylor’s Blog:

In his excellent new book The Intolerance of Tolerance (Eerdmans, 2012), D.A. Carson reflects on the popular idea that “citizens with moral values grounded in religious beliefs are forbidden to articulate those beliefs and vote for those values” (p. 105). He draws our attention to a speech by Abraham Lincoln, who critiques this notion with respect to slavery:

But those who say they hate slavery, and are opposed to it, . . . where are they?

Let us apply a few tests.

You say that you think slavery is wrong, but you denounce all attempts to restrain it. Is there anything else that you think wrong that you are not willing to deal with as wrong? Why are you so careful, so tender, of this one wrong and no other? You will not let us do a single thing as if it was wrong; there is no place where you will even allow it to be called wrong! We must not call it wrong in the free States, because it is not there, and we must not call it wrong in the slave States, because it is there; we must not call it wrong in politics because that is bringing morality into politics, and we must not call it wrong in the pulpit because that is bringing politics into religion . . . and there is no single place, according to you, where this wrong thing can properly be called wrong!

—Abraham Lincoln, “Speech at New Haven, Connecticut [1860],” in Lincoln: Speeches and Writings, 1859-1865(New York: Library of America, 1989), 140-141.

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In an opinion post on CNN.com (Love and marriage are not the same thing), LZ Granderson discusses the principle of “till death do us part” in marriage and how he sees it as a “fire and brimstone tactic” that is used to uphold the “business model” of the church. He calls for churches to adjust their traditional position on marriage so as to better minister to the influx of divorcees and unmarried couples living together.

I do not disagree with Granderson that many churches fail in ministering to those outside of a traditional sexual relationship. The way in which many churches shun them and refuse to engage them says a lot about the church’s sin of self-righteousness. However, what must transpire is not a wave of reform endorsing any sexual relationship one chooses, but rather a recommitment to proclaiming the joyous wonders of biblical sexuality.

It seems that for Granderson, sexual relationships are good as long as they do not negatively affect others, are true to one’s self, and simply feel right. What he misses here is any conformity to the standards God has enacted for sexuality. For standards set in the Bible are those which conform to the character of God and choosing them results in the never-ending pleasures of living in accordance with his holiness.

What I pray for myself and for Granderson to understand is that which the Bible calls the mystery of marriage reflecting the love Christ has for his church. For as Christians hold to Christ’s love for his people, knowing that he will never leave them no matter how much they sour the relationship, so are marriages to be based in this covenantal love.

As Granderson perceives the idea of “till death do us part” as a fear tactic to conform to a church’s traditions, what is actually being conveyed is a marriage reflecting and existing out of Christ’s relentless love for his people.

 

Ephesians 5:31-32 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 

Hebrews 13:5 ….For he has said,“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

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Poem

I’m finishing up my first semester in seminary at Southeastern.

Although I have learned a ton of excellent stuff in my classes, what benefited me most spiritually were sermons given from my pastor, J.D. Greear, two sermons given in our chapel from Tullian Tchividjian, and a book I read for Ethics by N.T. Wright called After You Believe. They have turned my understanding of God’s grace and my obedience to him upside down.

So I wrote a poem (random I know) that conveys what God has done in my life through their work:

 

The mark I am called to is holiness throughout
And my striving to gain it has been without doubt

But it appears that this approach is far out of place
As I hear that God accepts me, freely by his grace.

For Tullian has helped me to see how to measure
Not my acts, but instead to just focus on God’s pleasure

Because in Christ I find that my holiness is met
So that now my sanctification can be without fret

Though working towards virtue is clear from Tom Wright
I’ve learned from J.D. that abiding in Christ brings might

For as all this has corrected
My grace by works objective

I can now with Paul, press on to know
How Christ Jesus has made me his own

 

 

Here are links to the books the sermons came from and the link to Wright’s book:

Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian
After You Believe by N.T. Wright

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Hajj Documentary

Fascinating look at The Hajj Pilgrimage which will be Nov 4-9 this year.

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Here’s a cool video of an idea of what Jerusalem looked like in King David’s time.

 

Here’s a link to the blog I found it at with two other videos:  What did Jerusalem look like in Bible times?

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Faith not only saves me but also empowers me to be holy.   Faith is looking to the promises in scripture of all that God is for me in Christ and through the satisfaction in those promises, I will become holy.  As John Piper put it (but I have never taken the time to get it) “The faith that justifies is the same faith that sanctifies.”

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From gospeldrivenchurch:

 

How to Deal with Persistent Guilt

From a fantastic little book I am loving very much, The Bookends of the Christian Life by Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington:

[A] little-known seventeenth-century Puritan, Thomas Wilcox . . . wrote Honey Out of the Rock, one of the most helpful essays we’ve found on dealing with persistent guilt. We’ve updated into modern language a series of Wilcox’s instructions for dealing with persistent guilt:

– Shift your focus away from your sin and onto Christ: don’t persist in looking upon sin; look upon Christ instead, and don’t look away from him for a moment. When we see our guilt, if we don’t see Christ in the scene, away with it! In all our storms of conscience, we must look at Christ exclusively and continually.

– Shift your focus to Christ, our mediator. If we’re so discouraged we cannot pray, then we must see Christ praying for us (Romans 8:34), using his influence with the Father on our behalf. What better news could we ever want than to know Jesus Christ — the Son of God, co-creator of the Universe — is addressing the Father on our behalf?

– Shift your focus to Christ crucified, risen, and ascended. When guilt persists, remember where Jesus is and where he’s been. He has been upon the cross, where he spoiled all that can ruin us. He’s now upon the throne of heaven, as our advocate and mediator. His state in glory doesn’t make him neglectful or scornful of the guilty sinners he died to redeem. He has the same heart now in heaven as he had upon the cross.

– Shift your focus to the glory of Christ. If guilt still persists, remember that he pardons for his own name’s sake (Isaiah 43:25; Ezekiel 36:22; 1 John 2:12), because in pardoning us he’ll make us living monuments of the glory of the grace he purchased. It’s Christ’s own happiness to pardon, so he does. By embracing this truth, even the most desperate sinner’s conscience can rest absolutely assured.

– Shift your focus off of self-condemnation. When our conscience relentlessly condemns us, remember that Christ will have the last word. He is judge of the living and the dead (1 Peter 4:5) and only he can pronounce the final sentence. Christ is the judge — not us or our conscience. So never for a moment dare to take the judge’s place by proclaiming irreparable guilt when he proclaims hope, grace, and pardon. If we think our sin is too great to be pardoned, remember that Christ doesn’t agree.

– Shift your focus off of self-contempt. If we’re focused on hating ourselves, realize that we’re focused on ourselves and not on him. Self-contempt is a subtle form of self-centeredness, which is the opposite of Christ-centeredness. Unless our self-contempt makes us look more at the righteousness of Christ and the cross of Christ and less at ourselves, the whole endeavor leads to death. Let our sin break our hearts but not our hope in the gospel.

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