Friday, February 28, 2014


Let me lay out some facts as I see them.
There is nothing about what you do that is 100 percent secure.
There is nothing about what you have that cannot be taken from you.
There is nothing about what you desire that cannot change.
Do you disagree with these statements? To me they seem beyond disagreement—not because I’m so wise and profound, but because the claims they make seem clear and warranted. As far as I can tell—and I’ve thought about this a great deal and talked to hundreds of people in all walks of life about this very issue—these three statements are solid, universal descriptions of what it means to be human.— The Truest Thing about You, chapter 2

<idle musing>
Pretty much sums up the human condition, doesn't it?
</idle musing>

A complete circle

One could say the end of ends in 1 Corinthians 15:28 completes the task God gave to humans in the opening chapter of the Bible on day six (creation of humans). Humans were given just one charge: to govern this world as God’s representatives. So, in 1 Corinthians 15:28, when we are finally connected to God in this eternal union with God through his Son, humans will be doing exactly what God intended for his creation. God will be God and we will be God’s people—and the whole Story will be about God.— The King Jesus Gospel, pages 56-57

<idle musing>
God will be God—it's so simple, but we want to be God, so we end up as "foolish puppets, who desiring to be kings, now lie pitifully crippled after cutting our own strings." (Randy Stonehill </idle musing>

Thought for today

Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,
but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. (Prov 14:31 TNIV)
<idle musing>
Those in Congress and more than a few wealthy magnates would do well to remember that...
</idle musing>

Thursday, February 27, 2014

That's a serious charge

If we preach the Plan of Salvation as the gospel, we will find ourselves doing everything we can to get people motivated or, to used words from earlier, bucking up our efforts to get more people into column three, The Discipled. But, if we learn to distinguish gospel from Plan of Salvation, we will discover an altogether different world. I am convinced that because we think the gospel is the Plan of Salvation, and because we preach the Plan of Salvation as the gospel, we are not actually preaching the gospel.— The King Jesus Gospel, page 40

<idle musing>
That's a serious charge he's making—but I believe he is right! We are doing both God and people a disservice by selling the gospel as a salvation package apart from discipleship and restoration. There is no salvation without transformation!
</idle musing>

It's deeper than that

Here’s the deal with Jesus. He’s egalitarian when it comes to this issue, and He wants everyone to repent of their sexuality because everyone is broken sexually. Straight, gay, bi, whatever … if there is something truer to our fundamental identity than Jesus and what it looks like to follow Him, we’re not really following Him.— The Truest Thing about You, chapter 2

<idle musing>
Amen! I've never heard it put so well before. We are more than sexual beings and we all need to repent of our dysfunctional sexuality. And far more important than our sexuality is who we are in Jesus and how we respond to his overtures.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


In this book I will be contending firmly that we evangelicals (as a whole) are not really “evangelical” in the sense of the apostolic gospel, but instead we are soterians [Greek for salvation]. Here’s why I say we are more soterian than evangelical: we evangelicals (mistakenly) equate the word gospel with the word salvation. Hence, we are really “salvationists.” When we evangelicals see the word gospel, our instinct is to think (personal) “salvation.” We are wired this way. But the two words don’t mean the same thing…— The King Jesus Gospel, page 29

<idle musing>
I think Jim Wallis calls it the "atonement only gospel." Either way, it is a defective, half truth—at best! God gives us more than that in Jesus!
</idle musing>


What we desire, whether noble or corrupted, is not the truest thing about us. Building our identity on the foundation of what we desire guarantees that our identity will change every time our desires change.— The Truest Thing about You, chapter 2

<idle musing>
We're fickle, aren't we? If we reduce who we are to what we want, then every time we see a new advertisement, we become something new. Of course, that is what the advertisers want us to think, isn't it? They are no longer selling stuff, they are selling a feeling, a new you, a new image. No wonder we buy at unprecedented rates! And the whole time we are ignoring our real needs...I'm reminded of something well over 2500 years old:

  “Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.

   Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare. (Isa 55:1–2 TNIV)
</idle musing>

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Decisions, decisions, decisions

I believe the word gospel has been hijacked by what we believe about “personal salvation,” and the gospel itself has been reshaped to facilitate making “decisions.” The result of this hijacking is that the word gospel no longer means in our world what it originally meant to either Jesus or the apostles.— The King Jesus Gospel, page 26

<idle musing>
To our great loss, I might add.
</idle musing>

The sum of the parts...

When we take any one of our strongly felt desires and construct our entire identity around it, we discover that we are making a part of who we are into the whole of who we are.— The Truest Thing about You, chapter 2

<idle musing>
The old saying, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, is so true. We are more than a collection of felt desires—we are a unique creation of God, but he'll get to that!
</idle musing>

Monday, February 17, 2014

Truest and things

What we have—or don’t have—is not the truest thing about us.

Building our identity on the foundation of what we have means that we’ll always be focused on ourselves. A world of self-focused individuals sounds strangely like the world we live in now. . . and it’s the lonely experience of living in that very world that sends us in search of something truer.— The Truest Thing about You, chapter 2

<idle musing>
What is that old saying? A man (or woman) wrapped up in himself makes a very small package. Self-focus is a dead end; we need to focus outside ourselves—of course focusing on God is the best—but as Viktor Frankl found, even focusing on others, without God, pulled people out of much more when we focus on God!
</idle musing>

Whose gospel?

Isn’t the more important question about whether Paul preached Jesus’ gospel? Moreover, there’s another problem: Piper’s assumption is that justification is the gospel. The Calvinist crowd in the USA—and Piper is the leading influencer in the resurgence of Calvinist thinking among evangelicals—has defined the gospel in the short formula “justification by faith.” But we have to ask whether the apostles defined the gospel this way. Or, better yet, when they preached the gospel, what did they say?— The King Jesus Gospel, page 25

<idle musing>
Ah, that is the question, isn't it? We revere Paul so much that we start with him rather than with Jesus or the other apostles. Not that Paul is wrong, but without the added input of what Jesus and the apostles taught, we can put undue emphasis on certain aspects of Paul that the early church—and Paul himself—didn't...
</idle musing>

I should have expected this

This showed up in my inbox this morning:
Last month, “Big Food,” in the form of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), a trade organization that represents more than 300 businesses, sent a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advising that it intends to petition the agency to allow foods containing GMOs to be labeled as “natural.”
Right! But if GMOs are natural, then why this a bit further in the article:
General Mills, Inc., has started producing GMO-free Cheerios. The company expects this new product, which will bear the label, “Not Made With Genetically Modified Ingredients,” to be available to consumers “shortly.” However, this change does not affect other General Mills brands such as Honey Nut Cheerios.
Anything for a quick buck...Lord, deliver us from ourselves!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Grammar musings

I'm always wondering about grammatical usage of words. The question in my mind today was which is the correct way to say something: online, on line, or on-line. I've seen it all three ways, with online being the most common of late. When I worked at Eisenbrauns we always used on line as two words. But, which is correct in the minds of the rest of the world?

Google to the rescue—or not!

Here's what one grammatical source said:

Although all forms are seen in written communications, only two forms are correct (on line and on-line); the difference between them (ie the use of the hyphen) is very important and applies to many other grammatical forms.

To say that you are ‘online’ would be like saying that a tennis player is ‘oncourt’ or that a builder is ‘onsite’, rather than saying she/he is ‘on site’. We will never see the back of ‘online’, however, and the overall situation may change. To remain consistent though…

Where the phrase is just a factual statement, we use two words.
Where the entire phrase is used to further describe something else, we must use the hyphen to show this.

Seems straightforward enough—but can you trust a source that says "ie" instead of "i.e.,"? Plus, it is a site in the U.K. and their usage varies from American usage sometimes...

How about this: Purdue Online Writing Lab which is the next site Google lists after an ESL site. They don't raise the issue, but just use online as one word in their title. What does that say?

I could cite a bunch of sites (see the pun?), but this one says a lot (two words—not alot!): what is the name of the Merriam-Webster dictionary's Internet presence? Yep, you guessed it: Merriam-Webster Online!

Or, what about the venerable Chicago Manual of Style, my constant companion? Their Internet presence is The Chicago Manual of Style Online!

And my second companion, the The SBL Handbook of Style, what do they say? It might be getting a bit dated, being published in 1999 (before the Internet became the default source for research, what with JSTOR, WorldCat, and others), but even then, in paragraphs 7.3.13 and 7.3.14, they use online as one word...

What's a person to do?

The trials of being a copy editor...the question raised by all this searching? Does one still capitalize Internet? : )

True or truest?

But here’s the truth: what we do is not the truest thing about us. Building our identity on the foundation of what we do creates an identity that can crack or break or tumble down at any moment.— The Truest Thing about You, chapter 2

<idle musing>
But that's exactly what we do all the time. We take transient things about us and make them the absolute definition of who we are. The problem is that life is full of changes—and not all of them are better! If you have a minor (or major) setback/disappointment, you have to redefine yourself. Stress, anyone? But in Christ, we don't need to accept the merely true things as ultimate—that's what this book is all about—who you already are in Christ. And it's good news!

I read this in the electronic version, so I don't have page numbers, instead I will be citing the excerpts by chapter number.
</idle musing>

With open eyes

As a result of my Evangelism Explosion experience and its aftermath in my own thinking, I developed a cynicism about evangelism. It took deep root as I continued through my college, seminary, and doctoral education. I began to pay close attention to the connection of gospel and evangelism and salvation and our methods of persuasion, which (embarrassingly at times) border on the slick and manipulative. I am convinced there is something profoundly wrong with our evangelism and so have developed over the decades a sensitive ear for anyone with a thought about this problem.— The King Jesus Gospel, page 21

<idle musing>
Isn't it sad that we feel we have to stoop to slick marketing and emotional manipulation in order to get people to become Christians? As if the God of the universe is something we can put in a neat little package and sell!

We can be so blind...
</idle musing>

Thursday, February 13, 2014


So many of us grew up in homes where we never felt secure. We had to work extra hard, trying to earn approval or love that never came. Our tendency is to carry that mind-set into our relationship with God. We end up anxiously working to gain approval, not realizing that we already possess it.—Francis Chan in foreword to The Truest Thing about You

<idle musing>
I'm not sure that you need to grow up in such a home to feel that way. I didn't, but I still felt the need to earn God's love. Granted, it could be culture, but I suspect it's deeper than that. I think we know we don't deserve God's love—how can we? We're just created beings and he's the creator—infinite, all-powerful, totally other—how can we hope to gain his favor? But that's exactly what the gospel is all about. We are accepted in the beloved; we are the righteousness of God, we get the idea. Later in the book, Lomas will list a whole slew of things that we already are and have...
</idle musing>

The two Ds

Most of evangelism today is obsessed with getting someone to make a decision; the apostles, however, were obsessed with making disciples. Those two words—decision and disciples—are behind this entire book. Evangelism that focuses on decisions short circuits and—yes, the word is appropriate—aborts the design of the gospel, while evangelism that aims at disciples slows down to offer the full gospel of Jesus and the apostles.— The King Jesus Gospel, page 18

<idle musing>
Forget the American obsession with numbers! A thousand "decisions" that don't result in a transformed life are worthless. If a transformed life isn't the result of that raised hand, then I question if there was a real encounter with the living God...but that's just my
</idle musing>

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Thorn bushes

Looking back, I can see how I’ve tried to get others to perform, regardless of their motivation. I’ve focused a lot on their work and not enough on their identity. In hindsight, I realize I was shooting myself in the foot. I was trying to squeeze Christ-like actions out of people who hadn’t been transformed by Christ. You’ve helped me remember that when we trust in Christ, and take hold of that identity, our actions begin to happen naturally—or supernaturally.—Francis Chan in foreword to The Truest Thing about You

<idle musing>
Good stuff. I've been guilty of the same thing over the years...we can't get apples off of thorn bushes. We have to let God transform people from the inside out. We are frequently trying to get people to whitewash the tombs instead of pointing them to Christ, who can make them alive so they aren't a tomb.
</idle musing>

There's so much more

Multitudes in the Church walk around as if they are in mourning—never knowing rest of soul or the peace of Christ’s presence. They picture themselves under the thumb of God’s wrath rather than under His protective wings. They see Him as a harsh taskmaster, always ready to bring a whip down on their backs, and so their lives are filled with fear, guilt and despair. They live unhappily, with no hope, more dead than alive…The real problem is our lack of faith in God’s covenant promises. We refuse to accept His unconditional love, His unlimited forgiveness, His free reconciliation. We are not willing to believe He pardons and restores us simply because He loves us. Instead, we become focused on our sin, losing all sight of what God wants from us most.— It Is Finished, pages 180-181

<idle musing>
Wow. That aligns perfectly with what I posted yesterday. We just don't know who we are and what that means. Or, more likely, we just can't believe it—it seems too good to be true.

Part of the problem is the way the "gospel" has been presented to us (I put gospel in scare quotes for a reason). We are told that God-is-mad-at-us-and-hates-us-and-we-are-on-our-way-to-hell-unless-we-turn-and-repent-right-now-because-Jesus-may-come-at-any-moment-and-you-don't-want-to-go-to-hell-do-you?

Who in their right mind would turn down an offer like that! But that isn't the gospel! That is a small portion of the gospel—the salvation part of the gospel. The gospel is the story of God at work in the world from Genesis 1 through Revelation and beyond. The gospel is the good news that God loves you—always has—and wants to restore you (and all of us) to what we were in the garden. And he won't stop until he accomplishes that.

That's the final snippet from this book. Tomorrow I'll begin pulling stuff from Scot McKnight's The King Jesus Gospel. He goes on at length about what the gospel really is and how we got to where we are today. Good stuff...
</idle musing>

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

It's true

I just finished reading a new book (relaased February 1). I rarely read popular Christian literature, and even more rarely read a new release. But, Olive Tree offered a free book last Friday. Now come on, who can resist a free book?! But the funny thing is, I actually read this one! (Be honest now, how many of you have at least a hundred free books stashed in your computer/tablet/phone that you've never even opened!?)

And you know what? It was actually a good book!

Yep. A popular Christian paperback that I liked. And has good theology. And is practical. And is readable.

OK. Enough hype : ) You get that I liked it...

The name of the book is The Truest Thing about You, written by David Lomas and published by David C. Cook. That's right, the Sunday School people. Well, that's how I always thought of them anyway, but they've been doing some good non-Sunday School stuff in the last 10 years or so. When I worked at Eisenbrauns, one of the reps who called on me (Jerry Gortmaker—a great rep!) also represented them; we didn't carry their stuff—not academic enough—but he would periodically offer me an advance reading copy. One I remember especially is The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning.

Anyway, the thesis of the book is that there are many true things that can be said about you, but only one is truest—who you are in Christ. The whole book is an outworking of what that means and what it should look like in your life. Good stuff, and I'll be excerpting from it for the next few weeks or so. But, right now, I'm going to jump to the very end and throw in the last few paragraphs, because this is usually where books like this fall apart. Ready? Here we go:

At this point in the book you might expect application points. A “to-do list” of identity. Some journal questions. Five things you can do in the next five weeks to actualize your new identity.

But that’s not what this book is about. Unless you drive the single message of this book to the core of your being—beyond belief, to the place of your deepest trust—no application will stick.

So here it is.

You will not find your identity in what you have, but in who has you. You will not find your identity in what you do, but in what has been done for you. And you will not find your identity in what you desire, but in who has desired—at infinite cost to Himself—a relationship with you.

Christ is your life. He gives you a new identity and will work that new identity out in your life until the day when He appears. On that day you will finally see clearly, as Christ sees you now. You will know as you are known.

And you will understand that the truest thing about you—that in Christ God called you His beloved in whom He is well pleased—has been true all along.

And is now true forever.

Believe. Trust. Base your entire identity and worth on that fact.

Isn't that great? No long (or short!) list of "things to do to make this real" or other such garbage! You get the idea that he actually believes what he's writing! Once you know who you already are in Christ, you will begin to live like it! In the words of Augustine, "Tolo! Lege!" (Pick it up and read it!)

Almost too good

The secret of the Lord is a life-freeing revelation of His lovingkindness toward us at the point of our failures. It is the Holy Spirit enduing us with a powerful revelation that nothing can separate us from the covenant love of God. He is not mad at you, so get your eyes off your sin and gladly receive the free access you still have to the Father, through the cross of Christ.— It Is Finished, page 171

<idle musing>
The Hebrew Bible has a word for that: ḥesed
<rabbit trail>
Note the dot under the h; it sounds like the ch in loch, so you'll sometimes see it as chesed. A nice exposition of it is in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT), both BibleWorks and Accordance have TWOT by default, not sure about Logos because I don't use it; Strong's number 698 (but don't use Strong's dictionary!) for those of you who don't do Hebrew.
</rabbit trail>

This does not mean he is easy on sin! Quite the opposite! God hates sin because it is contrary to his nature and destroys the ones he made imago dei (in the image of God—his image). He hates sin so much that his intent is to destroy it in you. He will stop at nothing less! That's why we are a new creation in Christ; that's why the old is gone. That's why we need to fix our eyes on Jesus, not on ourselves. It is only as we we fix our eyes on Jesus that we begin to realize the riches we have in Christ. That is the gospel—good news! I'm not a better me. I'm a new me, clothed with righteousness and filled with the power of the Holy Spirit!

Can you tell this stuff gets me excited? : )
</idle musing>

Monday, February 10, 2014

There is no way

God did not say, “Shame on you, Elijah; you have fallen too far, reproaching Me in the eyes of this heathen people. Now you’re on your own until you wake up to your sin.” Instead, the Lord said lovingly, “Elijah, what are you doing in this cave? I want you to gird yourself and get back to work.” There was no harshness in these words. God’s call to Elijah was meant to restore and redirect a man in the midst of seeming failure and deep despair.

Here is the secret of the New Covenant: It is not some sudden rush of a supernatural power in us, enabling us to resist an overwhelming temptation. Rather, it is God’s still, small voice, revealing His love to us in the midst of our failure and testing.— It Is Finished, page 167

<idle musing>
We're always looking for a big splash, or in the words of Steven Curtis Chapman, are we "waiting for lightning" and "listening for thunder while he quietly whispers your name?" (Complete lyrics:Waiting for Lightning.) I suspect we are; we love a big splash—that's probably why we don't often get one...
</idle musing>

Then why even ask?

When I was a pastor, persons of the church occasionally asked me for advice on what the Bible has to say about various matters, and whether we are obligated to follow its views on these matters or not. I often asked a counter-question: if my answer was yes, were they willing to follow those admonitions in the Bible? In other words, I asked them, would they be willing to accept the Bible’s judgments on their behavior and act accordingly? If not, then, of course, the Bible would not function as a canon for them; they would simply be asking historical questions that they might, or might not, choose to follow when answered. Formation of the Bible, page 161

<idle musing>
I like his response; it cuts to the heart of the issue. Are we or are we not going to submit to the authority of scripture? If not, then don't even pretend that you want to hear the answer...
</idle musing>

Friday, February 07, 2014

Learn it all

A believer can memorize all the glorious promises of the New Covenant, master complex theological outlines and trace each of the biblical covenants for the Adamic to the New. But only a few will set their minds to seek the Lord diligently for understanding of His life-giving New Covenant.— It Is Finished, page 158

<idle musing>
If study doesn't lead you to worship, then it is just a dead end.
</idle musing>

The best translation

I am often asked which translation of the Bible is the best one to read today. My response is often “the one you most enjoy and read most often!” Formation of the Bible, page 141

<idle musing>
Excellent advice! The truth is that most all of the translations out there today are good. I would quibble with some of the choices of all the translations—some translations more than others, but they are all adequate.
</idle musing>

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Is this what you believe?

God is faithful to fulfill His promise to cause every enemy to flee from us. Think of Israel standing on the Egyptian side of the Red Sea. The enemy was closing in, trapping God’s people, allowing no way of escape. Do not think that at that point God said to them, “I’m sorry, Israel—I can’t deliver you. You have thousands of little golden idols packed away in your luggage. You have to get rid of your idolatry before I’ll bring deliverance. Otherwise, you’re as good as dead.”

The very thought that God would respond in this way is impossible. What kind of God would refuse to deliver His own people because they still struggled with a lust?

God will not abandon you at your Red Sea. Your temptations, habits and besetting sins may look like impossible roadblocks before you, but the Lord promises to deliver you, for His own name’s sake. Our God is faithful to keep His covenant.— It Is Finished, pages 154-155

<idle musing>
But, isn't that the "gospel" we too often preach? "Clean yourself up!" "Get your act together—God can't hear your prayer until you stop sinning!" And, my favorite: "God made the first step, now it is up to you to make the next one." Semi-Pelagianism, anyone?

Why is it so hard for us to get it through our thick skulls that God loves us?

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Romans 5:6–11 TNIV

By the way, Michael Bird has a great post today on sin.

And while we're mentioning some good posts, you really ought to check out Robin Parry's take on Intelligent Design. I agree with him—we end up with a God-of-the-gaps, not a transcendent God.
</idle musing>

Derived authority

What Jesus said and did was authoritative for the early Christians and his authority was never transferred to any other. The literature that comprises the New Testament largely focuses on Jesus, his significance, and the implications in daily life and ministry for what it means to follow him. The literature of the New Testament points us not to itself, but to Jesus who is the final authority for Christian faith (Matt 28:19). Formation of the Bible, page 89

<idle musing>
Amen! Good preaching!
</idle musing>

Thought for today

Finney was asked what he thought about double predestination (that God sends some people to hell for no other reason than his glory) . Here's his response:

It presents not the real and true God, but a different being. It is practicing  a deception on him, by holding out  the idea that God desires his  damnation, and he must submit to it; for God has  taken His solemn  oath that He desires not the death of the wicked, but that he  turn  from his wickedness and live. It is a slander upon God, and charging  God  with perjury. Every man under the gospel, knows that God desires  sinners to be  saved, and it is impossible to hide the fact. 

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Some thoughts

I just don't get it. In the 1970s Coke did the "I'd like to teach the world to sing" commercial. Nobody thought it was terrible—at least I don't remember it. I suppose there might have been some who claimed they were promoting an antichrist world order, but I didn't hear about it.

Now, they do a similar thing and it's the end of the world as we know it? I haven't seen it and don't intend to—after all, it's all about selling a sugar-laced drug that will make you sick and fat. Why should I watch it? I don't buy their product and I don't need to buy their worldview, either. It's bankrupt. But rather than argue about the commercial, why not live a life that shows how bankrupt that worldview is?

All I see is people who buy the same worldview arguing about who's in and who's out in a boat that is sinking. There are enough lifeboats around to rescue them all, but they are ignoring them and drinking their way to death. OK, bad analogy and bad logic. But really, how is the current situation in the world any worse than the first century was? Do you hear Paul, Peter, Barnabas, James, etc. arguing in this way? No. They present Jesus as the alternative and then draw out the ramifications of what that means.

Forget the "culture wars" and live for Jesus in your daily life. The rest will take care of itself. Just an
</idle musing>

Laying your cards on the table

As a matter of full disclosure, let me say at this point that I view the Bible, both Old and New Testaments in all of its teachings, as the church’s sacred and authoritative Scripture. Christian faith is bound to this book in all that we believe and practice as Christians. While we recognize that the Bible is an authoritative and sacred book, we also recognize that this authority is a derived authority and that the final authority for all Christians is Jesus Christ (Matt 28:19). He is the Lord of the church (Rom 10:9) and the Scriptures accurately reflect his teachings, his life, his fate, and his significance for the church today. We do not worship the Bible, but the God to whom the Bible directs our obedience, worship, and praise. Formation of the Bible, page 17

<idle musing>
What a great way to start a book on the canon and its formation!

Thanks for Bobby at Hendrickson Publishers for the book—way back when! It got put on a bookshelf when we moved up here and didn't get read as quickly as it might have...I'll be pulling a few snippets out over the next few days.
</idle musing>

Not what you think

The only weapon that scares the devil and his armies is the same one that scared him in the wilderness temptations of Jesus. That weapon is the truth of the New Covenant—the living Word of God. Only the Lord’s truth can set us free. He promises to be God to cleanse us, forgive us and cast away all our fill us with His lead, instruct and guide us by His Spirit and put within us all the power we need to walk in holiness and obedience.— It Is Finished, page 153

<idle musing>
Got ya! I'll bet your thought he was going to say "quoting from scripture" or "the Bible" didn't you? That's what you've been taught, isn't it? But only Jesus, the living Word of God, can face the enemy and temptation without losing. You can quote scripture until you're blue in the face, but without the living power of the Holy Spirit inside you, you'll still lose; I know, I've done it in the past—many times...always lost, too unless I allowed the Holy Spirit to control my thoughts and actions! You can win too, but you have to stop worshiping the Bible and start relying on the Holy Spirit!
</idle musing>

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

The cost of unforgiveness

Or, the devil may try to convince you that you have a right to hold on to bitterness because you have been wronged. He will try to destroy your marriage by persuading you, “You can’t endure this relationship any longer unless your spouse changes.” If you keep listening to his lies, you will begin to believe them after a while. And once you buy his evil argument, it will become embedded in your mind and heart—and then it will become a stronghold. This will keep Satan empowered over you through your thought life. He does not have to possess your body; all he needs is a foothold in your mind. Soon you will not be able to worship or praise God anymore, because his “worm” of a lie will constantly twist and turn in your mind, tormenting your thoughts.— It Is Finished, page 152

<idle musing>
Forgiveness is so important. We need to remember—continually—the parable of the ungrateful steward, reproduced here for your enjoyment and edification:

“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of golde was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

“The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.a He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive a brother or sister from your heart.”—Matthew 18:23–35 TNIV

</idle musing>

The higher the cost...

But it is not merely that more demanding religious groups attract and hold more members than do the less demanding faiths. They recruit them! That is, their members are sufficiently committed so that they seek to bring others into the fold, something members of the less demanding faiths seem reluctant to do. Nearly half of all members of the various evangelical Protestant denominations report that they have personally witnessed to a stranger within the past month and two-thirds have witnessed to friends. The Triumph of Christianity, page 363

<idle musing>
That explains the draw of cults, doesn't it? So it's a two edged sword—true Christianity demands everything, but so do a lot of the cults. We definitely, desperately need the Holy Spirit to enlighten us!

By the way, that's the last excerpt from this book. Not sure what I'll be extracting from next. I guess we'll all find out tomorrow, eh? : )
</idle musing>

What they don't tell you

Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. (Acts 14:21b-22 NIV)

<idle musing>
When was the last time you heard someone in the USA preach a sermon on this text?!

Our gospel is defective if it doesn't allow for—scratch that—if it doesn'twarn you that you will endure hardship in order to enter the kingdom...
</idle musing>

Monday, February 03, 2014

Too good to be true?

Have you accepted this incredible truth? Do you believe that Jesus agreed in covenant to keep you from falling, guaranteeing you would never be forsaken, and you would be able to obey Him fully and live in victory? Believe it—because He guaranteed it on His own worthy name. You were not the one who made a worthy oath, who provided a co-signer, who found an attorney. God did all of this for you, and now He wants to use it all to redeem you fully from the dominion of sin.— It Is Finished, page 117

<idle musing>
Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn't it? That's probably why most people don't believe it. Oh, they may say they do, but if you look at their lives, it doesn't line up with what they're saying.

I'm not faulting anybody here, just observing. We look at our experience; we look at the world around us; we look everywhere but into the face of Jesus. That's why we don't believe it's true.

But if we look at the face of Jesus and remember that "all the fulness of the Godhead" dwells there—that the Father is just like the Son—then, and only then, can it become believable.

And a funny thing happens. We become like what we are gazing at; we become more Christlike. We become saints—which is what the Bible always calls Christians, by the way. We become a light in a very dark place...
</idle musing>

As we were

In 1776, on the eve of the Revolutionary War, only about 17 percent of those living in one of the thirteen colonies actually belonged to a religious congregation; hence more people probably were drinking in the taverns on Saturday night than turned up in church on Sunday morning. As for this being an “era of Puritanism,” from 1761 through 1800, a third (33.7 percent) of all first births in New England occurred after less than nine months of marriage, and therefore single women in Colonial New England were more likely to engage in premarital sex than to attend church. The Triumph of Christianity, page 353

<idle musing>
Talk about an interesting little tidbit, eh? What does that do to the "let's get back to the founding fathers" mentality!

And remember, just because they were members, doesn't mean they attended! So, probably you were 2–4 times more likely to be having premarital sex than to attend church. That doesn't seem to be too much better than where we are at now, does it? The "good old days" don't look so different from today when you look at the actual facts and records.

Of course, we don't do that; we look at the past through an ideology. And the dominant ideology of some is that the past was an ideal time that we should try to get back to—whether you are a Tea Partier or a secular person; it doesn't seem to matter, because if you ignore the facts, you can find something to bolster both sides...

No wonder we need the Holy Spirit! Only he can remove the blinders from our eyes so that we can see the truth...
</idle musing>