Friday, September 28, 2018

Five Star Links


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


Rebecca:

As you know, right now Jesus is in heaven in glorified human form, and he will remain in human form for all of eternity.  Does his everlasting humanity limit him anyway? For instance, how can he be omnipresent if he is in heaven in a human body? [Clint Archer].

Kim:

Are you familiar with the Apostles' Creed?  If you are not, Zondervan Academic has a post that provides a good summary. Included is a video clip from Mike Bird who is always very interesting, and who has a lovely Aussie accent. If you want to learn more check out Bird's book What Christians Ought to Believe. I read the book when it came out, and enjoyed it very much.

Persis:

What place does biblical counseling have in helping a family face dementia? Dementia: A Biblical Approach for Care.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Great Equalizer


When you have loved ones who are aging and declining, it's hard to avoid facing death, and it is sobering. For some reason, the phrase "Death is the great equalizer" came to mind the other night, so I googled it. References to Shakespeare came up, but the Bible describes this far better than any literature could.

"The wages of sin is death" 

This statement certainly encompasses us all no matter our station in life, bank account, or IQ score. In Adam all die, and none of us are exempt. But the verse doesn't end there, thank God.

"but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord."

Death may be a great equalizer, but there's another far greater equalizer. The gospel. When it comes to salvation, there is nothing we can do to merit God's favor. No matter how good we think we are or what sort of spiritual lineage we think we have, those things are nothing. But there is also no one who has sunk beyond the reach of God's grace. There is one Savior for the pharisee, the publican, you, and me. Christ alone paid the debt that we could never pay. Christ alone lived the life we could never live. The only thing we bring to the table is our sin, but Christ brings everything.

There are brothers and sisters who I would disagree with doctrinally, but when we stand before the throne of God, we aren't going to be pulling out our theological resumes and showing them off. We will be bowing before the Lamb and saying that He is worthy.

And when, before the throne,
I stand in Him complete,
"Jesus died my soul to save,"
My lips shall still repeat.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Quotes of Note



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

Persis:

This is from Spurgeon's Treasury of David on Psalm 103:13 -
"Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him." To those who truly reverence his holy name, the Lord is a father and acts as such. These he pities, for in the very best of men the Lord sees much to pity, and when they are at their best state they still need his compassion. This should check every propensity to pride, though at the same time it should yield us the richest comfort. Fathers feel for their children, especially when they are in pain, they would like to suffer in their stead, their sighs and groans cut them to the quick: thus sensitive towards us is our heavenly Father. We do not adore a god of stone, but the living God, who is tenderness itself. He is at this moment compassionating us, for the word is in the present tense; his pity never fails to flow, and we never cease to need it.

Rebecca:

Why should a Christion treat animals humanely? Why should they value all of nature? From Nancy Pearcey:
Genuine respect for animals and the rest of nature . . . derives from the conviction that all creation comes from the hand of God and therefore has intrinsic dignity and value. Scripture teaches that humans are stewards of creation, responsible to a higher authority for the way we care for the world around us (Gen. 1:28). Proverbs 12:10 says, "The righteous care for the needs of their animals." Humanity is not the highest rung of an evolutionary ladder, free to use nature any way we want for our own benefit. Instead we will answer to the Creator for the way we treat his creation.
[Love Thy Body, page 103.]

Kim:

For my Greek Exegesis class, we are reading D.A. Carson's Exegetical Fallacies. It is a truly eye-opening, thought-provoking book. In the introduction, Carson outlines the reasons why examining fallacies is helpful, and he provides a potential danger:
The first is that persistent negativism is spiritually perilous. The person who makes it his life's ambition to discover all the things that are wrong -- whether wrong with life or wrong with some part of it, such as exegesis -- is exposing himself to spiritual destruction. Thankfulness to God for both good things and bad things and for his sovereign protection and purposes even in bad things will be the first to go. It will be quickly followed by humility, as the critic, deeply knowledgable about faults and fallacies ( especially those of others!), comes to feel superior to those whom we criticizes. Spiritual one-upmanship is not a Christian virtue. Sustained negativism is highly calorific nourishment for pride. I have not observed that seminary students, not to say seminary lecturers, are particularly exempt from this danger. (p.22)
What Carson is talking about here is the tendency to allow knowledge to puff us up, and it isn't restricted to those studying Greek or those in seminary, for that matter. For anyone who is perceived to be in a position of authority, there is always a fear of spiritual one-upmanship. There is a lot of "sustained negativism" online. We probably see it daily.

Deb:

Sometimes, it can be tempting to give up -- to stop putting forth the effort to walk in obedience and grow in the knowledge of God and His grace. Especially with the rapidly changing cultural environment and the increasing polarization among fellow Christians, my personal motivation and inspiration can wane significantly.

Mike Leake in Torn to Heal encourages us to hold onto God's promises and His Word even when we're navigating the toughest times in life:
Yet God is in the process of redeeming us. The process is slow and it is painful, but God will stop at nothing to bring it about. Completely. All things, both good and ill, work together for our greatest good — conformity to Jesus. This includes our pain… He will stop at nothing to fully redeem us. He does this by changing our desires. And this is good (p. 16).

Friday, September 21, 2018

Five Star Links

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


Kim:

I so appreciate the writing of Christina Fox. She is insightful, humble, and encouraging. I really enjoyed her "Writer's Prayer."

Forgive me for the ways in which I have stolen your glory in my writing. Forgive me for the ways in which I have not glorified you in the words I have written. Forgive me when I fail to use the gift you've given me in a way that honors you, when I waste the gift and horde it, or when I fear what others think of my writing more than I fear you.

Persis:

This is the story of Kim In Tae, a survivor of Japanese-occupied Korea and the Korean War, written by her grandson - Hope When Hope is Lost.
While we commemorate the stories of freedom fighters, we tend to overlook the vast majority of regular people like my grandmother whose own hopes were sacrificed on the altar of someone else’s ideologies, ambitions, or societal norms. Their stories deserve to be heard as well.
Rebecca:
Scripture says that we should [glorify God] in every facet of our lives. “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). This includes our God-given vocations. And it applies in our mundane, ordinary lives . . . . 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Book Review: God Is Better Than Trucks


What is God like? When a child asks this question—or a similar one—how should we answer?

There’s a real sense in which God is nothing like anyone or anything in a child’s world. (He’s not much like anything in an adult’s world, either.) “To whom then will you compare me, God asks, “that I should be like him?” (Isaiah 40:25 ESV). The right answer to his question is “no one!” There is nothing in creation that is like the Creator (Isaiah 46:9). He is so far above and beyond the things he has made that there is really no comparison to be made (Isaiah 46:5).

How, then, do we bridge the gap between a child’s limited concrete knowledge of the material world and true knowledge of our infinite, transcendent God? How can we explain to a child what our God, who is pure spirit, and cannot be seen or touched, is like?

Even though God is like nothing in his creation, everything in creation reflects the One who made it. Every created thing points to its Creator. Throughout scripture, God uses some of the small ways things in creation reflect him to teach truths about himself. Scripture calls God a rock (Deuteronomy 32:18), because God, as the ultimate protector, is a little bit like a rock, which can also protect people from harm. God is full of life and strength, and, in a much lesser way, so is a cypress tree, so God tells us, "I am like an evergreen cypress" (Hosea 14:8). Even things made by his image bearers point to him, so he likens himself to some of them, too—a fortress (Psalm 46:7, 11), or a  shield (2 Samuel 22:3), for example—to explain aspects of his divine nature.

We can’t see or touch God, but we can see and touch things in our world. As he explains himself using illustrations from the material realm, we can know something about our immaterial, transcendent God. But we need to be careful how we use these illustrations, because, in the end, no illustration, or even a collection of illustrations, can adequately describe God.

In the picture book God Is Better Than Trucks, Sarah Reju teaches children about God’s nature and works using things from their world and their interests—trucks and other modes of transportation, twenty-six of them, from A to Z—and finds the perfect balance between these two truths: God is like nothing in his creation, but everything in his creation reflects him.

In this book, children can learn about God by comparing him to an ambulance, a bulldozer, a car carrier, a jet, a kayak, and many more. Each comparison is accompanied by a verse from scripture that supports it. Here is the text from the page for the letters F and G, which accompanies a picture of a fire truck and a garbage truck:
The fire truck sprays water to put out a fire, but God sends rain to water the whole earth. God is better than fire trucks! The garbage truck cleans up garbage, but God cleans our hearts. God is better than garbage trucks!
By the end, a child will know something about God’s nature and his works, and it will also be clear that God is so much better and so far beyond any truck that exists—or ever could exist—that there is really no comparison at all.

If you are looking for a book about God to read aloud to a 3-5 year old, you can't do much better than God Is Better Than Trucks. It would make a great Christmas gift, too.

Sarah Reju is a pastor’s wife, homeschooling mom of five kids, and lives in Washington, D.C.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Quotes of Note


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

Persis:

This is a quote about the Trinity from Rebecca's book, The Doctrine of God for Every Woman.
[F]rom the overflow of love between the Father, Son, and Spirit, the Father chose you in eternity and then sent His Son to die for you. In love, the Son came from the Father, lived and died for you, and now lives in heaven interceding for you. And out of love, the Spirit came from both the Father and the Son. In love, He regenerated you and is now living in you, making you more and more like Christ. From start to finish, your salvation depends on the Trinity - Father, Son, and Spirit - working together in love. Without the triune work of our loving God, you could not be saved and neither could I.
Yes, the doctrine of the Trinity is deep, but it is also beautiful. The triune God is a God, who can love deeply and save completely. Our God is perfectly glorious because He is three-in-one.
Rebecca:

Once again, I'm quoting from Doug Moo's NIV Application Commentary on 2 Peter, Jude, from his comments on Jude 24-25.

"New Testament doxologies," he writes, "tend to follow a common pattern with four basic elements:
(1) The person praised (usually God); 
(2) A word of praise (usually 'glory' [doxa]; hence the name 'doxology'); 
(3) An indication of time (usually 'forever and ever'); 
(4) 'Amen.' "
He also notes that "[t]hese doxologies 'Christianize' their content with the addition of the phrase 'through Jesus Christ'. . . ."

Here's Moo's list of New Testament doxologies (Don't forget Jude 24-25, as well.) if you would like to check them out to see how these elements are used:
If you really want to be thorough, here's a longer list of New Testament doxologies from James M. Hamilton.

Deb:

I'm featuring an older quote that I stumbled upon from Paul Miller's book, A Praying Life:
God takes everyone he loves through a desert. It is his cure for our wandering hearts, restlessly searching for a new Eden. Here's how it works: The first thing that happens is we slowly give up the fight. Our wills are broken by the reality of our circumstances. The things that brought us life gradually die. Our idols die for lack of food... The still dry air of the desert brings the sense of helplessness that is so crucial to the spirit of prayer. You come face-to-face with your inability to live, to have joy, to do anything of lasting worth... Suffering burns away the false selves...
After a while you notice your real thirsts.
While in the desert, David wrote:
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
(Psalm 63:1)

The desert becomes a window to the heart of God. He finally gets your attention because he's the only game in town.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Five Star Links

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



Kim:

Have you ever feared, deep down in your soul, that your faith is not strong enough? Do you ever fear falling? I do. In this article by David Mathis, we are encouraged to remember that "He Will Hold Me Fast."


Persis:

This is a post I could relate to - Worrying about worry.
Today I was reminded that worrying is a sin. So I started to worry about whether I worried too much.
And then I started thinking – it is true that worrying is a sin, but how do you overcome the sin of worrying. Do you worry about worrying? Do you work hard trying to overcome worry? But it seems that working to overcome worry simply involved more worry.
Rebecca:

Why do we suffer? The Bible doesn't tell us every reason, but it does give some "broad macro reasons" we may suffer . Here are four of them (Tim Barnett).

Monday, September 10, 2018

Quotes of Note


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

Kim:

The fact that Jesus was both man and God is a crucial aspect of our faith. As Christians, with 2,000 years of teaching behind us, we take it for granted. Set in its own time, the claim that Jesus was God was a difficult truth to grasp. It was truly an earth shattering reality. In the book How God Became Jesus, Michael Bird comments on how scandalous it was for Jesus to be considered God and to be worshipped:
To Jewish audiences, worshiping a crucified man was blasphemy; it was about as kosher as pork sausages wrapped in bacon served to Jews for a jihad fundraiser. To Greeks, worshiping a man recently raised from the dead was like doing obeisance to the first zombie you met in a zombie apocalypse. If Christian ideas about God were so snug and down within the ancient world, then why was Paul flogged by Jewish communities (2 Cor 11:24) and laughed out of the Athenian Areopagus by Greek philosophers (Acts 17:32)? Could it be that the Christian idea of God was startling, odd, and even offensive to the Jews and pagans, who had trouble swallowing its claims about Jesus? Perhaps the reason why New Testament authors like Paul, Luke, and John spent so much time talking about Jesus and God is because they meant something very different by "God" than what their Jewish and Pagans neighbors thought, and it took some effort to get the redefinition of God across.

Persis:

Something to ponder from Francis Schaeffer's essay, The Weakness of God's Servants.
Utopianism is cruel for it expects of men and women what they are not and will not be until Christ comes. Such utopianism, forgetting what the Bible says about human sinfulness, is hard-hearted; it is as monstrous a thing as we can imagine... 
Utopianism is terribly cruel because it expects the impossible from people. These expectations are not based on reality. They stand in opposition to the genuine human possibilities afforded by the realism of the Scriptures...
If we demand, in any of our relationships, either perfection or nothing, we will get the nothing. Only when we have learned this will we be Bible-believing Christians, and only then will we understand something of life. Only then can we be more understanding toward men and show real compassion. Consequently, I would repeat, if in any of our relationships of life we demand perfection or nothing, we will have nothing.

Rebecca:

I’m using Doug Moo’s NIV Application Commentary on 2 Peter, Jude to help me study Jude for a Bible Study I’m participating in. We’re at the end of the study, and right now we’re working on Jude 24-25, the last verses in the book. You are probably familiar with them because they are commonly used as a benediction for worship services.
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24–25 ESV)
Moo warns that there is a real risk that we will hear these words so often that we no longer really hear them.
What is most important is that we be careful that these words do not become on our lips a thoughtless and even hypocritical recitation of words. Here, of course, lies the danger in using Jude’s doxology in worship. We hear the words so often that they cease to have any meaning for us; they are all jumbled together in our heads (“To-him-who-is-able-to-keep-you”; “to-the-only-wise-God”). Thus, we need to pause and reflect on what these words really mean—and be prepared to live as if we meant them!
Here are some of his words of reflection on verse 24:
Think of the marvelous security promised to us in verse 24. 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. Do we reflect this confidence 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?
This not a dry or boring commentary! I am often moved to worship or prompted to act as I read it. If you need a readable commentary on Jude, one suitable for a lay person, this one is excellent.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Five Star Links

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


Kim:

Brad Hambrick asks a question I have asked myself: "Can Someone Be Spiritually Healthy and Still Experience Mental Health Challenges." This is an excellent article that doesn't give a pat answer.


Persis:

While we share a constellation of symptoms to various degrees, people on the spectrum are unique individuals who land in many denominations and churches.  We will be in your congregation, and I pray your mind and heart are open to us. For we, too, are fearfully and wonderfully—if a little differently—made.

Rebecca:

Are you in a dry spell when it comes to reading the Bible? Do you find reading more of a duty than a delight? Here are a few suggestions for fostering delight in the Word (Steve Midgley).

Monday, September 3, 2018

Quotes of Note


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

Persis:

This is a quote from Kelly Kapic's Embodied Hope: A Theological Meditation on Pain and Suffering. This is one of the best books that I've read on physical suffering and one I go back to often as I have a family member who is going through physical trials right now.
We may not be able to take away the physical pain, but we can point one another to him who promises one day to completely heal us. For now we cling to his promise of restoration, cling to him who has the ability also to restore the body. He will make all things new (Rev. 21:5). We will be free from sin, pain, and tears (Is. 65:19; Rev. 21:4). We will be free from isolation, self-condemnation, darkness, fear and anger (cf. Is. 35:10 //51:11; Rev. 21:22-27). We will be utterly free to love our Creator and our neighbor. While we may not fully experience that freedom now, we can help one another to experience genuine tastes of shalom even in the present, even in our pain, even as we struggle with our sin.

Rebecca:

I am reading Nancy Pearcey's book Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions on Life and Sexuality. This quote is from the chapter on issues related to euthanasia.
It is outrageous that people today are terrified of one day requiring "help." We must stand by people struggling with their fears and let them know that even when they become less independent and productive, they are worthwhile persons deserving of care and respect. A student of mine named Alison Delong, who works for a suicide hotline, told me, "I spend hours every week persuading people not to end their lives, telling them that their lives still have value. It breaks my heart that people think they must be able to function in a certain way to be considered significant."
Most of us will need help with our basic care at some point, so this message about the significance and value of everyone is something we need to tell ourselves, too.


Deb:

I am also reading Nancy Pearcey's book, so I won't share another quote from the same book. However, this one from Sinclair Ferguson seemed perfect:
“When we behold the glory of Christ in the gospel, it reorders the loves of our hearts, so we delight in him supremely, and the other things that have ruled our lives lose their enslaving power over us.”
Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Whole Christ