Monday, June 18, 2018

Quotes of Note



Each Monday, we share quotes we found encouraging, convicting, thought-provoking,  or all of the above.

Kim:

Do you know the poetry of George Herbert?  If you don't, why not try it out? Theology is not always expressed in big, dry books. It is also expressed in artistic forms like poetry. In his poem, "The Thanksgiving," Herbert utilizes four line stanzas, ending each one with the exception of two, with with the refrain "Was ever grief like mine?" The other two end with "Never was grief like mine." In these stanzas below, you can see how Hebert connects the tree in the Garden of Eden to the tree upon which Jesus hung.

O all ye who pass by, behold and see;
Man stole the fruit but I must climb the tree,
Th tree of life too all, but only me:
Was ever grief like mine?

Lo, here I hang, charged with a world of sin,
The greater world o'th' two; for that came in
By words, but this by sorrow I must win:
Was ever grief like mine?

Such sorrow, as if sinful man could feel,
Or feel his part, he would not cease to kneel,
Till all were melted, though he were all steel:
Was ever grief like mine?

But, O my God, my God! why leav'st thou me,
The Son, in whom thou dost delight to be?
My God, my God --
Never was grief like mine.


Persis:

I am on the launch team for Aimee Byrd's new book, Why Can't We Be Friends?, which will be released at the end of this month. As Christians, we know that we should flee from sexual immorality, but is that the sum total of all that purity entails? Or is that bar even too low and actually diminishes what we are called to as children of God? In the following quote, Aimee states rightly from Scripture that purity involves our whole selves in who we are, what we think, and what we do. Is this something we achieve and maintain in ourselves? No.
The dynamic nature of God’s generosity applies to our purity. Our purity is from God. Think of all that this purity entails. It involves our hearts and our thoughts, proper active love, integrity and holiness, and cleanliness, without being mixed with sin in body, mind, and soul. Can anyone uphold this in herself? Himself? No! But God graciously gave us his Son, imputing Jesus Christ’s full righteousness to every believer. From him we are given everything that purity entails. Everything! And through him we remain pure.
Jesus didn’t just pay for our impurity and give us his purity; he has given us the Holy Spirit! Paul makes this argument when discussing purity: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19–20). God has given the Holy Spirit to dwell within us—to tabernacle with us. Now that is holiness and purity! While affirming God’s ownership of us, Paul tells us that God has given us himself. Talk about divine generosity! He then concludes that we are to glorify God in our bodies. Our purity is from God and through God, and we respond by offering it back to God. Purity isn’t merely abstaining from sexual activity; it isn’t even having sex within marriage. It is offering our whole selves back to the Giver.


Deb:

Melissa Kruger's latest book, In All Things, traces Paul's conversion narrative in Acts and the  subsequent epistle he penned to the young, Philippian church. Through her devotional presentation of relevant Scriptures, Kruger recounts how Paul's words and life helped convey the secret to unshakeable joy and peace -- even during some of the toughest times of trial and suffering.

Early in the first chapter of In All Things, she shared a wonderful quote from the good doctor, D. Martyn Lloyd Jones:
If ever the world needed the witness and testimony of Christian people it is at this present time. The world is unhappy, it is distracted and frightened, and what it needs is to see stars shining out of the heavens in the midst of the darkness, attracting the world by rebuking that darkness, and by giving it light, showing how it too can live that quality of life. 

Rebecca:

Carl Trueman on the difference the doctrine of the Trinity makes in the everyday life of a believer:
[T]he doctrine is, in fact, one of the most immediately practical for Christians. The Trinity is far from being an abstract doctrine, and is not to be relegated to a virtual appendix in Christian theology. On the contrary, trinitarianism shapes everything, from Christian doctrine to Christian practice. If the Christian is one who is adopted by the Father through being united to Christ by the Holy Spirit, then to be a Christian is to have an identity that is trinitarian at its very core. Thus everything the believer is and everything the believer does has to be understood at some level in trinitatian terms. 
From the chapter The Trinity and Prayer in The Essential Trinity, edited by Brandon D. Crowe and Carl R. Trueman.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Five Star Links



Each Friday, we share links we found especially interesting or inspiring during the previous week. 

From Kim:

Youth Group or Frat House

When my daughter was a teen, she went to a day camp where they played a take off of "Fear Factor," and it involved dead animals and seafood. People couldn't understand why I was bothered by this. This article expresses much of how I felt, and still feel.

From Persis:

On Professors and the Cult of Personality

The celebrity culture is nothing new. In this article, Carl Trueman writes about the pitfalls in academia, but you could just as easily substitute pastor, favorite author/blogger, or women's ministry leader. This warning goes both ways - for those who lead as well as those who follow.

From Rebecca:

The Missing Ingredient in Our Parenting

Some excellent parenting advice from Margaret and Andreas K√∂stenberger. (It's an excerpt from their new book,  Equipping for Life: A Guide for New, Aspiring & Struggling Parents (Christian Focus, 2018).)

From Deb:

Acedia: Despair and disdain for life based on the habit of bad thoughts

An old term originally coined by monks during the fourth century, "acedia" (pronounced ah-SEED-e-uh) used to be viewed as one of the most severe afflictions of the soul. Though the word may no longer be in use, its connotations perhaps carry even more weight today.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Quotes of Note



Each Monday, we plan to share quotes that were encouraging, convicting, thought-provoking,  or all of the above.

So to start . . .

Kim:

I'm reading J.I. Packer's Concise Theology. Packer is always excellent reading. In his section on Satan, he gives a comforting reminder about the power of Satan. Sometimes, we feel defeated, but he points out that he is the one defeated:
He [Satan] should be taken seriously, for malice and cunning make him fearsome; yet not so seriously as to provoke abject terror of him, for he is a beaten enemy. Satan is stronger than we are, but Christ has triumphed over Satan (Matt. 12:29), and Christians will triumph over him too if they resist him with the resources that Christ supplies (Eph. 6:10-13; James 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:9-10). . . Satan is a creature, superhuman but not divine; he has much knowledge and power, but he is neither omniscient nor omnipotent; he can move around in ways that humans cannot, but he is not omnipresent; and he is an already defeated rebel, having no more power than God allows him. (p. 70) 

Persis:

When it comes to holiness and sanctification in the Christian life, I spent much of my life wondering if I would measure up to God's perfect standard. Thus assurance was always elusive, and even now, I need to be assured of my assurance. Christ the Lord: The Reformation and Lordship Salvation, Michael Horton, ed. has been very helpful so far.
As Christ is the answer to our guilt and condemnation (through justification), so he is the answer to our bondage and corruption (sanctification). He takes away not only the verdict, but also the slavery. To justify us in the heavenly court without giving us the gifts that, by virtue of that heavenly verdict, belong to us would be cruel and unjust on God's part. No, he does not simply put money into our bank account and then leave us stranded along the side of the road, beaten and bruised, Holiness is not an option for the Christ. But hold on - I can hear the hearts racing: "Holiness, the impossible dream?" To be sure, "but with God all things are possible" (Matt. 19:26). Holiness is not an option; it is a requirement, But this is not a threat. It's a promise. What God began he will finish (Phil. 1:6). In Christ, we already are holy, righteous, sanctified, reconciled (1 Cor. 1:30). Now we are called to live what we are, not to become what we are not yet. (pg. 56)

Rebecca:

In my church, we frequently use the last two verses of Jude for a benediction. You've heard them, I'm sure:
To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.(Jude 24-25 NIV)
When we hear or repeat bits of scripture regularly, there's a danger the words will become so familiar to us that we stop really hearing them.

I've been using Douglas Moo's NIV Application Commentary on 2 Peter and Jude for a bible study I'm participating in. Moo ends each section of this commentary with a few paragraphs on the contemporary significance of the verses he has just explained. In other words, he writes a bit about how to apply the truths of 2 Peter and Jude to the issues we may face in our lives right now. Of Jude 24, he writes:
Think of the marvelous security promised to us . . . .  God is able to preserve us so that we can stand before him on the last day spotless, forgiven, assured of an eternal "home in the heavens." Doubt and anxiety are constant companions on our earthly pilgrimage. We worry about our health, about money, about our children, about our jobs. In sober moments we perhaps become anxious about death. God does not promise to take away these worries, but he does take away from us our greatest worry: where we will spend eternity. 
Next time these beautiful words of doxology are recited at the end of a service, I want to really hear this promise.

And I want them to make a difference in the way I live. Moo ends his paragraph of application for this verse with these questions to ponder:
Do we reflect this confidence [that we will spend eternity with God] in the way we live? Do we truly value heaven enough so that our earthly worries, while sometimes pressing, fade in importance in light of our eternal destiny?

Deb:

Being immersed in some heady studies this Summer, I've been encouraged regularly by several Puritan devotions. Authors such as Gurnall, Owen, and Baxter have become regulars throughout the week. Recently, I revisited this one by Winslow for encouragement from Grace Gems :
Christ’s heart is a human heart, a sinless heart, a tender heart; a heart once the home of sorrow, once stricken with grief; once an aching, bleeding, mournful heart. Thus disciplined and trained, Jesus knows how to pity and to support those who are sorrowful and solitary. He loves to chase grief from the spirit, to bind up the broken heart, to staunch the bleeding wound, and to dry the weeping eye, to ‘comfort all that mourn.’ It is His delight to visit you in the dark night-season of your sorrow, and to come to you walking upon the tempestuous billows of your grief, breathing music and diffusing calmness over your scene of sadness and gloom. - Octavius Winslow, Evening Thoughts, Jan. 10.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Five Star Links


We have a brand new feature we're introducing today. Each Friday, we plan to share links we found especially interesting or inspiring during the previous week. 

So to start . . .

Horace Underwood - Korea's "Bundle of Fire"
Simonetta Carr writes about one of "the most influential missionaries in Korea." (Persis)

I am afraid of death
Courtney Reissig reminds us that there are legitimate reasons for a faithful Christian to fear death. Yes, it is the "gateway to life everlasting," but it is also a painful reminder that all is not right with our world. (Rebecca)

Made in His Likeness
We all bear the imprint of God by virtue of being made in his image. Jeanie Layne reflects on the implications of this. (Kim)

A Reminder that God's Provision Does Not Equal His Pleasure
Mike Leake's cautious take on God's provision reminds us that it's by His grace alone that He sustains us -- and leads us to passionately pursue His good pleasure. (Deb)   

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Have You Begun to Sing?

We at Out of the Ordinary have another author in our ranks! Staci wrote The Organized Heart, and now Rebecca has written The Good Portion - God: The Doctrine of God for Every Woman. I have been looking forward to this book for a while.

In her very first post at Out of the Ordinary, Rebecca talked about how theology makes her heart sing. When I knew that she would be writing a book about the doctrine of God, I hoped that the sentiments she shared in that initial post would find their way into her book. And they did. In the conclusion, she exhorts the reader: "Theology should always result in doxology; the study of God should always lead to praise." Her very last question to the reader is: "Have you begun to sing?"

Becky's purpose in this book is to introduce the reader to God: "Most of all, it is my desire that each reader catch a glimpse of His glory. As you read and consider God's nature and His work, I hope you will see how glorious and delight him"

God is so magnificent, so glorious, and so infinite that as finite creatures, we cannot begin to understand everything about him. However, in this book, we are encouraged to seek the understanding God promises to give should we make the effort. To know God is to know ourselves. It is the beginning of worship:
Unless we know God as He is, we cannot see ourselves as we are. And as painful as it is to see an accurate picture of ourselves, it is also necessary for true worship. True worship comes from a heart that sees how glorious He is, and understands its own unworthiness.
Each chapter explains a different facet of God's character, ending with a prayer. Each chapter also includes a number of questions for thought and further study. I really enjoyed the questions. I could see them generating some deep conversation among a group of people studying together. This would be a great book for group study.

Scripture is the basis for this exploration of God, but Becky does not hesitate to use other resources, such as creeds, systematic theologies, and writings of scholars. The end of the book has a very good selection of resources for further reading, and they are accessible resources. Once the reader has given a glimpse of the greatness and scope of the study of God, she (or he!) will want to look further. I love it when authors give book suggestions.

The first chapter discusses the need to know God, the second on his triune nature. The third chapter emphasizes how God is not like us, followed by chapters on his wisdom and power, his holiness, his goodness, his creative power, sustaining power, and saving power. Becky explains things thoroughly and with clarity. The truths build upon each other. She is not afraid to use theological terms, and when she does, she explains them, giving the reader a vocabulary for this subject. I don't think anyone should be afraid to use theological terminology. All subjects we study, whether cooking, science, or economics have terms which give us a language to understand and explain. Theology has a language as well, and I was glad to see Becky introduce the reader to it.

Many of the principles in the book are illustrated through Becky's own experiences learning about God through the regular events of life. I was especially grateful for her wisdom and maturity; the kind one can only get through time and experience. We need more women like Becky speaking out; women who have raised their children to adulthood; who are grandmothers, and who have had the time to see the difference it makes to know who God is. And her illustrations are ones that both men and women can enjoy. Though this book's subtitle is "The Doctrine of God for Every Woman," it is a book men would find very readable. This is not a book for women alone, but a book by a woman for everyone. Everyone who is called "Christian" needs to understand God's character.

One of the things I found most helpful was the principle of God's aseity:
Aseity comes from the Latin a se, which means 'from or by oneself.' To say God is a se means He exists from himself. Nothing caused Him to exist, but He exists uncaused, 'by the necessity of His own Being.' In other words, God depends on nothing outside of Himself for His existence - and he can't not exist.
This is such a crucial truth to understand. That God is from himself means that he is not affected by external factors. His love is not affected by outside circumstances, because his love comes from himself. God's wisdom is not going to change over time because it comes from himself, and nothing from the outside can diminish it. God's power is from himself, and nothing can reduce that power. This is complete contradiction to humans who are tossed and turned by all manner of external factors. This is not only comforting, but convicting. This eliminates any tendency to see God as simply a bigger version of ourselves. I really believe that as Christians we need to know just how great God is, and how small we are.

Does theology make your heart sing? Do you find yourself so awed and amazed by God that you cannot resist the desire to praise him? If not, why not? Do you know him? If you don't feel you know him well, this book should inspire you to start seeking. Though the book is not yet released in North America, you can pre-order it here at Amazon.com or Amazon.ca. If you just don't want to wait (I didn't!), you can order it from The Book Depository.