Hope

Favorites of the Week: Sunday Reading

sunday reading

Here are some other blogs from around the inter-webs that I really enjoyed this week:

Searching for Jesus in today’s Church – Boz Tchividjian is the grandson of Billiy Graham and the brother of very popular pastor/author Tullian Tchividjian. He has long been an advocate of victims of abuse within the community of faith. This was a powerful piece with all that is going on regarding the scandal involving Sovereign Grace Ministries.

From Boz:

I grieve that much of the Church is asleep and doesn’t even realize it. I grieve that it is so hard to find Jesus in the midst of all this. For too many precious souls, inside the Church has become like Narnia – always winter, but never Christmas.

Better to tell the truth than stories – I found this piece by Aaron Armstrong very helpful. He references his work with ministering to kids, but also I see in here some great practical advice for everyone, especially preachers who have shifted away from expositional preaching and into sermons dominated by stories.

From Aaron:

While I obviously want to do all I can to make what I’m saying relatable and interesting, I don’t want to put me at the center of the teaching…I’d rather be accused of being boring because I’m not telling funny stories, if it means the kids get to hear the gospel.

Using the “H” Word – My friend J. Allen Murray here writes a great post on the quickness in which brothers in Christ are quick to assign the title of heretic to other brothers. There is much Godly wisdom here.

From  Allen:

An impassioned scripture-less fit filled with malice is no good medicine for the brother in error, and it proves no avail for correcting genuine heresy.

Simple Faith, Simply Beautiful – This is a post I posted earlier in the week about the beauty of simple faith I saw exhibited at the hospital while with my family. The post really seemed to resonate with folks, which is what I’m after with every thing I write.

Excerpt:

Today what I saw was my family simply trusting in the God they read about in the Bible. I saw them trusting, and resting in the promises of God. And you know what? God was faithful, and he delivered. God comforted and brought peace. God granted strength where it was needed. For our part, the throne of grace was approached boldly, and God was praised and worshiped as faithfully as we knew how. I’m not sure that God really asks for much more than that.

The Whole Truth – This might be my favorite thing I’ve read all week. Michael Newnham makes an attempt at telling the “Whole Truth” about Christians, while admitting that none of really do. He mentions some of the frequent generalizations people make about Christians and some of the scandals of the day. He also  muses about celebrity preachers, and gives a shout out to the faithful Christians in the trenches whom you hear nothing about. Simply a powerful piece that I think you all should read.

From Michael:

The true Christian faith isn’t represented by celebrity preachers or well known converts.

It’s represented in the heart of the neighbor who brought you dinner when you were sick…after putting in their eight hours on the job.

It’s represented in the hearts of millions who support children here and abroad who don’t have the resources their own children do.

It’s represented in the hearts of those who use vacation time to go to foreign countries to dig wells and plant crops and those who go next door to check on you.

It’s represented in the heart of that pastor who is not “successful”, but will be faithful to be there to care for you.

It’s represented by all the pastors and lay people alike who hate the scandals and the shame because they smear the name of our wonderful Lord and stall the work of His kingdom.

“Oh, the depth…”

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

~Hebrews 11:1

Hope is essential in the life of the believer. Hope is crucial to a life of faith. There are a couple of things though, that I think we need to ask ourselves:

What are we hoping in?

What do we base our hope on?

Are we hoping in God, or are we hoping on our perception of God? Are we hoping in the God of the Scriptures, or are we hoping on the God we’ve created in our minds; the God who looks a lot like us? So many times I hear people say things like, “I would never do that so God would never do that either.” Or, “I’m a mother and I could never imagine a loving father doing that to His children.”

First, you aren’t God. You can’t even fathom what it is to be God. Sure, being created in God’s image, there are things about us that are ‘like’ God, but that is a far cry from saying that God is ‘like’ us. God is so far above us, His ways are so far above us, His holiness is so far above us, that we can’t even wrap our minds around it. Why would you want a God that does everything exactly like you would do it? I look around at my life, and the mess I’ve made of a lot of things, and I am ever so grateful that God does not do things the way that I do things.

Second, our hope is to be based on the all knowing wisdom of God, not on our perception of God. We must base our hope on the God we read about in the Scriptures, not the God of our own making. It seems to me most people’s perception of God is dominated by their own emotions or sentimentality as opposed to the God my Bible talks about. Sure God is loving, sure God is gracious, sure God desires good things for His children…but none of these things are outside of his attribute of holiness. And by the way, who does the Bible say are actually children of God? See John 1:12-13, it may surprise you.

Search the Scriptures, learn the Scriptures, know the Scriptures. That is the God we are to serve and love and hope in. Some of us have formed a beautiful picture in our mind of a God that we love, and that loves us…but is a far cry, and far less beautiful than the God of the Bible. This God won’t always make you feel warm and fuzzy, sometimes he’ll shock you, but the most shocking thing of all is his love for his children(Again, see John 1:12-13) in spite of ourselves, and the lavishness of the Glory he promises them, all ultimately leading to his own glory.

The little god in your mind can’t save you. First of all he doesn’t exist. Even if he did, why would you want an eternity with a weak God who is bound by those whom he created. Why would you want a weak God who can’t, or doesn’t want to punish sin and just looks past it? Would you want your government or police force to act this way? If not, then why would you want God to?

Run to the Scriptures…Seek that God. That is the only God that can save you. He is the only God worth being saved by. He is the God that Jesus talked about and pointed us to. He is the only God worthy of our worship.

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”

“Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

~Romans 11:33-36

A Morning Psalm-Psalm 146

Praise the LORD!
    Praise the LORD, O my soul!
    I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
        I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
    Put not your trust in princes,
        in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
    When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
        on that very day his plans perish.
    Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
        whose hope is in the LORD his God,
    who made heaven and earth,
        the sea, and all that is in them,
    who keeps faith forever;
        who executes justice for the oppressed,
        who gives food to the hungry.
    The LORD sets the prisoners free;
        the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
    The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
        the LORD loves the righteous.
    The LORD watches over the sojourners;
        he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
        but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
    The LORD will reign forever,
        your God, O Zion, to all generations.
    Praise the LORD!
~Psalm 146 ESV~

In whom are you placing your trust today? From where are you seeking your help. The Creator and Sustainer of all things is the only One in whom we can trust, hope in, and seek salvation. Sing and shout your praises to Him today…For only He is worthy.