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15
Nov
10

Obedience

1 Samuel 15:22.  “Does the lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrafices as much as obeying his commands? Behold, to obey is better than to sacrifice.”  In other words, obeying the Lord is more important than worshiping Him.  Which makes sense because if we obey the Lord, we will be worshiping him according to His commandments. The whole point of worship is to express gratitude to God because He saved us from our transgression of His law. So why would He delight in worship that is in violation of His law?  Jesus said, “if you love me keep my commandments.” Love is the motive, and obedience is the action. Love bears fruit of obedience.  Does a mother delight in her boy who crosses a busy street to pick her flowers? In the same way, how much more does our Father, who knows the eternal consequences of our disobedience, delight in our worship that is not accordance to His commandments?
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12
Nov
10

Being an Effective Modern Messenger

A Christian media consultant named Phil Cooke came and spoke at the undergrad’s Chapel this week and gave an excellent message about the importance of presenting the good news of Christ that we have received to others in a way that they can understand.   In essence, packaging the Truth in a well-conceived PR campaign and presentation.

But this got me thinking: what are we communicating as Christians?  What depths are we drawing from?  Are we sharing a life giving message to everyone around us-through our words, actions, and lives…or are we trying to give our friends, family, and neighbors water from a dry well-seeking only to appeal to them?

Psalm 1 is one of my favorite scriptures because it describes the type of men we should aspire to be-the kind of men God delights in, and the kind of men that have something meaningful to offer to the people around them:

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers.  But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither-whatever he does prospers.” –Psalm 1:1-3

When we spend time with God in prayer and in His word, his Truth, his character, his heart, and his wisdom is poured into us so that our lives can yield fruit and bring what we’ve received from God to those who are around us.

Once we have our source right, then we can examine the delivery.  For that, we can look at what Jesus said when He sent out the 12: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.  Be on your guard….  But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it.  At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:16-20).  It was God who gave Moses the words to say before Pharaoh and his nation, it was God who gave the judges and the prophets the words to say, and it is God who will give us the words to say that are poignant and relevant to those around us…we need only ask Him and spend time with Him.

Like every worthwhile pursuit in life, the fear of the LORD is the first step we need to take-we cannot pour into others’ lives without first receiving from God.

-Jonathan

Sola scriptura, Sola fide, Sola gratia, Solo Christo, Soli Deo gloria

11
Nov
10

New Strength


Isaiah 40:29-31: “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

In these tiring, busy times, may we all be reminded that God “knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” He knows we need strength and inward renewal each day, and he is faithful to provide it.
10
Nov
10

Community of the Cross

– Community is One of the Beautiful Fruits of Christ’s Victory on the Cross –

Engage’s theme this year has been about the meaning of community in the Christian life.  Numerous conceptions of and approaches to this idea can be made with equal validity.  One such approach derives from Saint Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians.  He explains the impact that Christ’s Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection have had on community:

Christ is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end.

Eph. 2:14-16.  Christ the Victor brings peace.  We suffered division in at least two ways prior to Christ’s triumphant arrival: Jew from Gentile, and man from God.  Christ’s Passion has reconciled both of these estrangements, and now we can truly be able to enjoy community in peace.

Typically, I reflect exclusively on the second healed division involving man and God.  This always seemed to be the reconciliation that mattered, and naturally it is of the utmost importance.  But Saint Paul makes clear to us that God has not just ransomed us from the clutches of evil by raising redeemed humanity up to Him.  He has also reconciled us one to another.  Plainly, this breaks down the traditional barriers between the Jews and the Gentiles.  However, the larger point is that He has created a unified humanity, the Church.

My take away from this powerful scripture is that I need to look at my friendships as the very fruits of Christ’s Passion.  How much more meaningful will my relationships be if I realize that Christ has sanctified them through the establishment of His Holy Church?  I dare say I’d treat my friends much differently.  He promises us that our connection to each other will grow with Christ as the foundation.  His imagery is clear and strong: we should build upon one another as to build a very temple to God:

And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members
of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Eph. 2:16-22.

– A man in Community

 

09
Nov
10

One

“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” Philippians 2:1-2

There is only one way so many people from vastly different backgrounds, each having a different purpose and path in life, can be like minded and have the same accord and love. Some time read Luke 15 and think about how our unity and common focus ought to bringing in those who have left or have never known our unity so that they can be a part of it all.

Aaron

 

08
Nov
10

No Vision = Death

Prov. 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he.” (American King James Version) Prov. 29:18 “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.” (New International Version) This verse comes back to me or a regular basis as I find it exceedingly true in my life. I have a hard time working, pushing, toiling, even praising when I am not able to see the end game. Without a real vision of who Jesus is, without a genuine perspective of myself relative to the God, I find myself slowing, my eyes dropping and my heart relating to the meaningless of toil as discussed in Ecclesiastes. But when I seek out vision from God, when I sit with God and gain a proper perspective on Him and of myself- I am often filled with passion, vigor, and purpose. Heb 12:2 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” I have heard truth defined as “unveiled reality,” seeing things as they really are. Jesus’s work on the cross and love for you and I are real, the vision or revelation of Him is the substance and truth that enables us to press on. He is our end game- keep your eyes on Him and push through the marshes.

– Jeremiah

06
Nov
10

Give a Response

Hey guys,

I have been talking to a friend who is an atheist about God and faith and it has been weighing heavily on me.  When we first spoke and she raised some of her questions as to the existence of God I was taken a little aback.  I had thought about some of the questions that she posed on my own and asked some very similar questions, but as is my personal nature, what I dont regularly contemplate I forget.  While I could mention here that this points to the fact that I should, and those who are similar to me, constantly return to those things that are important to the foundations of who I am so as to not forget, I want to make a different point.  I feel like I spend a lot of time thinking about how to better honor God and how to be a better man, but I do not often think about how to respond to someone who asks about my faith and why I believe.  I think this is important as the scriptures say:

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”  1 Peter 3:15

And so, I encourage all of you to think about how to answer this question because I think we should be living lives where people cant help but ask us where our hope comes from, and Lord willing, we should be able to answer them.

-Michael

 

 




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