Christianity

Hot off the presses!

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Just received these guys in the mail. Super exciting! If you’re interested in grabbing a copy for yourself or someone you know click here to order! Available in both paperback and for kindle.

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Kindle Deals 5/20

 I had never read Tozer until recently, but I’m really enjoying his work thus far. Below are three of his classics for just .99 cents. These books are staples in many Christian libraries, that Christians have been returning to year after year. I’d encourage anyone to pick these books up, especially at this price.

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I’m sure most of you already know, but in the interest of full transparency, this blog is signed up as an Amazon.Com affiliate. This simply means that if you click one of my links and purchase a book through Amazon, I receive a few pennies. This helps me to keep the blog going, and one day I hope to be able to buy myself lunch.

Striving With God-Facebook Giveaway

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Wow! Striving With God just hit 100 likes on Facebook! I never imagined we would hit that in just 4 days. If we make it to 250 likes by the end of the week I have a great giveaway planned. More details as we get closer. If you haven’t liked Striving With God on Facebook yet, follow the link here and then click like. Thanks so much!

Minimizing God: Missing The Real Jesus

 

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There is something very dangerous happening within the church today. A hazardous mistake that many of us are prone to make. Initially I was going to call this a dangerous trend, but in actuality this has been happening amongst God’s people ever since God has had a people. So what am I talking about? (The title of this post should give you a hint.)

Minimizing God.

When I speak of minimizing God, I’m not speaking in this case about our mistaken priorities, and even idolatry. Surely this too is a problem, and what I am about to discuss could definitely lead us further into this deadly trap. But for now, what I mean by the phrase “minimizing God” is the way in which we all tend to take one attribute of God’s character and elevate it above every other attribute.

For instance, there are some Christians who want to discuss nothing but God’s mercy. Others seem to speak of nothing but the judgment of God. Others say God is a God of love, and say they could never serve a God of wrath. But what does the Bible say? Is God loving, or is he wrathful? Is God a God of mercy, or is he a God of judgment? Well, what if I were to tell you the answer is yes?

God is all of these. God is Love. God is merciful. But God also judges, and God also pours out his wrath. Our God is just that big. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the Scriptures.

God of mercy:

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespases, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved…” Ephesians 2:4-5

God of judgment:

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” 2 Corinthians 5:10

God of wrath:

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36

God of love:

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

Within God, we see all of these attributes. God is a God of love, a God of wrath, a God of judgment, and a God of mercy. God exhibits all of these attributes, and does so perfectly. And now I want to take it a step further…

Some of you probably noticed I only quoted from the New Testament. I did this intentionally. I have heard some people say, even some people who call themselves Christians things like, “The God of the New Testament is different from the God of the Old Testament.” Or, “Well, God is full of wrath in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament we just see grace.”

I’m not going to spend a lot of time here, simply because this is ridiculous. The Bible says time and time again that God doesn’t change. The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament. This being true, we have to keep in mind that Jesus Himself was and is God, and therefore exhibits all of these attributes of God in himself. As Colossians 1:15 says, “He is the image of the invisible God…” And Hebrews 1:3, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature…”

So many times people act as if Jesus was some feel good hippie who never judged a soul, or never called out the sin he saw in others. But Jesus is the one who stormed into the temple swinging a whip and flipping tables.(John 2:15) Jesus is the one who said to the woman caught in adultery, “Go and sin no more.”(John 8:11) Jesus is the one who will judge the sin of the world, the living and the dead.(Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Timothy 4:1) So, just as God exhibits mercy and judgment, love and wrath…So too does Jesus. You can’t separate any of these divine attributes from who they are. You can’t elevate one attribute above the other. When you do, you are minimizing who God is in his very person. You are making the God of the universe, who was revealed to us perfectly in the person of Jesus Christ, smaller than he really is. This is extremely dangerous.

We must worship the God of the Bible. Not the God of our own minds. All of us are in danger of falling into this trap. I would dare say, all of us have fallen into this trap at one time or another. Maybe we are there now. This is why it is so important for us to continually study the Scriptures and seek the face of God in prayer. This is why we must be continually seeking to know Christ and seeking to abide in Him and His Word.

God revealed to us through Christ is not a one dimensional God. He is a beautiful multifaceted diamond, that grows more and more beautiful at every angle.

 

 

 

 

Amendment One

So, first off a confession. This really isn’t so much a post about Amendment One-I just knew if I titled it that, I’d get a lot of hits.

This post is though, related to the nature of the discussion surrounding what the Amendment is primarily about…Gay marriage.

First off, calling Christians who have biblical and theological convictions regarding gay marriage ‘hateful and bigoted’ is not beneficial. If Christians speak up on the issue, and voice their support for the said amendment, or speak of their convictions about homosexual marriage…It is called hate speech. Why? Isn’t name calling and false accusations much more hateful than simply stating your convictions and why you believe marriage ought to be between one man and one woman? Look, I believe the Bible defines marriage as one man and one woman. That doesn’t mean I hate gay people. It doesn’t mean I don’t believe gay people in a consenting, monogamous, committed relationship should have no rights.

It simply means what I say it means. I believe God, in the Bible, defines marriage as one man, one woman.

Second, and this is really related to the first. The tone of this discussion must change. Name calling, labeling, demonizing the other side, and lowering arguments to the lowest common denominator is unfair. This is a complicated issue on both sides. To say it isn’t is ridiculous. Whatever our opinions or convictions…whatever good points we have to make…and there are good points on both sides…must be made with respect and love. I think both sides ultimately want what they think is best for America and it’s citizens. Many of us have differing opinions. That doesn’t give us the right to talk down or insult each other. This won’t help either side…it will only serve to further polarize our country on this issue. Which is good for no one.

Third, and this is for you Christians. Only God can change hearts and only God and his Gospel will ultimately save. It is not up to us to save America or the World. Certainly we should preach the Bible in it’s fullness. I believe we should openly talk about the sin of homosexuality…but that isn’t all we should talk about. The Bible speaks of many sins…and many sins that are sexual in nature.  Elevating homosexuality to the sin of all sins or the unforgivable sin is not biblical nor is it helpful in light of the current discussion. We are to love our neighbors…all of our neighbors…even our gay neighbors.  Oftentimes it seems to me like we are trying to win the culture war by being just as loud or louder than the other side. This isn’t going to win us anything. All it does is plays up to the stereotypes we already have as hate mongers. Constantly telling people what you are against, rather than what you are for…Constantly talking about other peoples sin as opposed to loving people gets us nowhere.

Again, this is not a call to sugar coat sin. But it is a call to remember where our priorities are to be. All things are to be done with love and respect. We don’t have to agree with everyone, but we do have to love everyone…even in their sinfulness. God did that for us, and it is our call as Christians to do the same for others. Ultimately, as I’ve said it is not our job to save anyone. That job belongs solely to God, and He is quite good at it.

Whether this amendment passes or not…people are still going to be gay. If we pass the amendment, yet people continue in their sin, do we count this a win? Instead of using all of our energies on protesting, and trying to change and influence legislation…perhaps we should devote more time to preaching and living the Gospel. Because ultimately the Gospel is the only thing that is going to change anyone.

Awaiting A Savior

In ‘Awaiting A Savior’ Aaron Armstrong does a wonderful job at getting at the root cause of poverty.  Not only does he diagnose the ailment, but he reveals to us the hope we have for its cure, and motivates us to take part in what God is doing through Jesus Christ and His Gospel to alleviate the suffering we see in the world as a result of sin.

Initially I was tentative to read this book as I was fearful it was yet another in a long line of books inspiring us to live ‘radical’ lives of Christian discipleship. Radical discipleship is not wrong in and of itself, but focusing on ourselves and what we must do instead of Christ and what He has done, and is doing is. Mr. Armstrong completely put me at ease in this regard as I read his book. This is a book that is saturated with Jesus.

There seems to be two extremes within the church as regards to poverty and social issues today. We either want to solve the issues ourselves, focusing only on feeding people, giving them clean water, giving them medicine, or passing out blankets…The other side of the coin is, well let’s just tell them about Jesus and worry only about the state of their souls without regard for their physical well being.  Neither approach on its own is the picture you get in Scripture of the responsibility of God’s people towards those in need. The God of the Bibles seems to have quite a soft spot for the downtrodden, persecuted, and less fortunate among us.

Aaron presents us with the Biblical picture of what justice ought to look like, then gives us sound Biblical advice on how to strive for it. Ultimately as Aaron points out, the biggest issue is the issue of our heart…if we have a heart for God, we will have a heart for the people that God has a heart for. Those for whom God’s heart breaks…so will ours.

This is a well written book that challenged me a great deal…Aaron Armstrong has given us a perspective on poverty that seems to have gotten lost somewhere amidst the shuffle to ‘do more’. ‘Doing’ must happen…but it will only happen properly and with lasting results if our motivations are for Christ and seeing the Gospel go forth and transform. Ultimately physical and visible poverty is a result of our spiritual poverty…if we allow Christ to use us to help in alleviating this…the battle is already won.

I highly recommend this book. To purchase Aaron Armstrong’s book, or other titles from Cruciform Press, please visit their website:

Awaiting A Savior, Aaron Armstrong

Cruciform Press.Com

Ordinary Saint

“…they were saints in the most effective and telling way: sanctified by leading ordinary lives in a completely supernatural manner, sanctified by obscurity, by usual skills, by common tasks, by routine, but skills, tasks, routine which received a supernatural form from grace within, and from the habitual union of their souls with God in deep faith and charity.” Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain

Can this be said of us?

I want this…or maybe I don’t.

I suppose I want the spectacular. I don’t want to be ordinary.

Perhaps I should say that I want, to want this. The ordinary is the place where we learn the most about ourselves and our God. It is in the ordinary that we can truly understand how extraordinary our God really is. Perhaps this is why we long so much for the spectacular, or the extraordinary, because deep down it is really a longing for God.

May I strive to be an ‘ordinary saint’…Sanctified in obscurity.