First, a couple from Christianity Today:
Nice little post from the January issue of Christianity Today about the incarnation. They ask if Jesus would have been incarnated without the fall. Good food for thought.
And, in the February issue, some musings on the level of conversion we see now versus in the book of Acts. The article is entitles Singing in the Chains
The conversions I witness generally aren't as radical as they seem to be elsewhere and at other times. Our hunger and thirst for righteousness, the first mark of kingdom-dwellers, is for the most part anorexic, and our lust for self-vindication appears as hearty as ever. Domestic problems seem to be as prevalent among evangelicals as they are among the wider public. The amount of interchurch migration, and the low level of actual net church growth, is embarrassing. The willingness, as the apostle Paul put it, to share in the fellowship of Christ's sufferings so that we might attain to the resurrection from the dead is at a low ebb in most North American churches. . .
But what do we mean, what should we mean, by saved? Does it not also include freedom and power, here and now, to live a life so transformed that others glimpse in it the possibility of their own transformation? Please, let us always, in the name of the God who saves us, mean this by the gospel as well.
Rick Mansfield on the heritage we are missing:
...in rejecting tradition in all forms, we've thrown out the spiritual baby with the bathwater. Our churches try to replace tradition with one new program after another, but we're so afraid of tradition that we cannot even stay with one program for long. We follow trends and seek after the NBT's [Next Big Thing] of the contemporary "Christian" culture, but I'm more than ever convinced that for all the programs we've involved ourselves in and for all the activities we pursued under the guise of discipleship, we haven't moved anywhere nearer to the image of Christ.
Finally, I found this one via ecclesia, but he got it here. On living the Christian life:
"There are basically four ways to live the Christian life. The first way is to attempt to do it entirely on our own, by our own effort and willpower. This way is doomed to failure...
The second way to live the Christian life is frequently a reaction to the first. Having experienced the futility of the self-effort way, we go to the other extreme, deciding to do nothing at all...
A third way is the 'Lord, help me' approach. The chief characteristic of this way is a partial dependence on the Lord: the unconscious but nevertheless real attitude that I can of my own self live the Christian life up to a point but that I need the Lord's help after that point. It is the assumption--unconscious, perhaps, but very real--that there is a certain reservoir of goodness, wisdom, and spiritual strength within my own character that I should draw on for the ordinary duties of life, but that beyond that, I need the Lord's help...
The fourth approach to the Christian life is the abiding-in-Christ way. the believer who practices this approach knows that the self-effort approach and the 'let go and let God' approach are both futile. He has also learned that he needs God's help not just beyond a certain point but in every aspect of life. He doesn't pray for hep just during crises or stressful times. Rather, his prayer is, 'Lord, enable me all day long, for without You I can do nothing.'
Amen! Good preaching! The only way that the Christian life can be lived is by abiding; that's how Jesus did it, by abiding in the Father; that's how we have to do it, too.