There are a few cautions that we should keep in mind when it comes to celebrity pastors, at least for the Christians who are not members of those famous pastor’s churches. So to the people that belong to churches led by ordinary pastors like me, I would say this:
This poem by Mabel Williamson, a missionary to China, is a much-needed encouragement to lay down our notions of our "rights" in this world and praise God for the privileges we have in Christ.
Last week I wrote a blog on sexual sin. In that post I highlighted the depth of God's grace. Grace that meets us even in our deepest sin. At the same time (and by that I mean while holding on to that understanding of the grace and goodness and mercy of God) we must also actively pursue repentance with every ounce of our being. So what does it meant to repent?
My mind has been restless lately. It's felt too busy and too full. Thoughts, worries, fears, frustrations, questions, doubts. They've been bumping around in my head and I'm sensing the need to take a step back.
Many of you have been asking for updates so I channeled my [nonexistent] video editing skills to make a short documentary of our first few weeks in Denver: featuring the bipolar weather of Colorado (snow and toboggans one day and sunshine and shorts the next!), our exploration of new local food joints, and enjoying the mountains and sunsets of Colorado.
I'm familiar with the pang of goodbyes and the packing of boxes. Life has been full of change for me, so trust and commitment has always been a little difficult, while change and newness feels natural. But during the last three and half years in Birmingham, the Lord slowly but surely helped me to let my heart put roots down in people and places and it has been the most terrifying but also the most joyous thing in the world.
You know that feeling when something so deeply resonates and you feel this unexplainable sense of rightness? That deep deep conviction that God is real and true and good and faithful. And sometimes you can't even tell if that deep conviction is your own or if it's the faith of the people around you upholding yours. All I can think to describe it is the deep encouragement and sustaining of faith that comes from community. And it is beautiful.
In asking me to stay, God expanded my understanding of missions to be not just going to an overseas country to share the love of Christ, but rather leveraging any opportunity or situation to make disciples and share the gospel where I am.
...We are therefore able to have immense joy in the time of suffering because Christ Himself is our present joy and our future hope. Let us not be thankless and praiseless because we are in a season of sorrow or trial. Instead, may our pain and loss bring praise to our lips as we are reminded that our Savior is our only true comfort and our only true rest.
Despite how we fail and choose other things to love, God continues to chooses to love us. His love is incredible. And then he commands us to "love one another as I have loved you." But how? I can scarcely grasp His love for me, much less imitate it myself! And yet He gives us the key to doing so...
The yearning to know What cannot be known, to comprehend the Incomprehensible, to touch and taste the Unapproachable, arises from the image of God in the nature of man. Deep calleth unto deep, and though polluted and landlocked by the mighty disaster theologians call the Fall, the soul senses its origin and longs to return to its Source. How can this be realized?
To be honest, this has been one of the hardest semesters of my life. I've been overwhelmed at times with loneliness, confusion, fear, insecurity, and inadequacy. I've had quite a few moments where I've doubted everything. So many negative thoughts have plagued my mind: “What in the world are you doing?” “You aren't smart enough for seminary.” “How do you expect this all to work out?”
Oh that we would be reminded daily of the character of our God - lest our sin leads us to selfishly think that anything He does is for our satisfaction or our glory. He is thirsty for His glory alone. And He is infinitely worthy.
There is a type of love that arises in response to the beauty, value and other commendable qualities of its recipient. Grace is a different kind of love, one that exists although there is nothing commendable in the recipient. Grace only functions as such if its objects are the undeserving and the unable - those who have absolutely nothing to recommend them as a candidate for God's favor.
So now, instead of just feeling excitement when I drive through those amazing fall-colored tree tunnels on the winding back roads or cuddle up in a super soft blanket, I see an opportunity to practice eucharisteo. It's opened my mind and my heart to a whole new depth of joy.