“[Christmas] means not just hope for the world, despite all its unending problems, but hope for you and me, despite all our unending failings.” Tim Keller
“God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” C.S.Lewis
“Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.” Dr. Seuss
Have you ever gone on vacation intending to use that time to grow spiritually only to head home afterwards realizing you neglected your spiritual walk? Vacation is a time I’d like to spend more time in the Word but the opposite usually happens. My normal rhythms are interrupted. The pace is fast and our schedule is full. There’s so much to see and do. Even during vacation it’s easy for your time alone with the Lord to get squeezed out. While the week ends up being a lot of fun, you arrive home feeling spiritually weak because you’ve neglected the most important thing.
Continue reading Making the Most of Advent
(The following is a Communion meditation shared in my local church as we look forward to the Thanksgiving holiday.)
The Lord’s Supper is also called Communion or even the Eucharist. That latter term, Eucharist, comes from the greek word eucharisteo, which means “to give thanks.” In Luke 22, when Jesus instituted this meal, breaking the bread and drinking the cup, it says he did so by “giving thanks.” Since we’re less than two weeks away from what might be my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, I thought it might help us approach Communion today by considering why it’s a meal about giving thanks.
Continue reading Communion Meditation: Give Thanks, Remember, and Trust
“If the gospel is not the ABC’s of the Christian life but the A to Z, we can expect that the gospel is for all of life, not just the moment of conversion. The gospel’s saving work is deep work. It is deep tissue massage, spiritual reparative therapy, and radical reconstructive surgery.” Jared Wilson in Gospel Deeps
My recent posts have highlighted the importance of renewing our mind. Our thinking is prone to get off track, believe lies, filter things through our faulty grid, and be swayed by competing voices. Unless we are active in the fight by taking every thought captive and renewing our mind with biblical truth, we’re doomed. Of all the things we then talk to ourself about or set our minds on, none top the gospel in importance. The gospel sets us straight about who God is, who we are now in Christ, and how we can and should live in light of these realities.
Continue reading Renew Your Mind with Gospel-Centered Reflection
In my last post, I shared some thoughts on how to renew our minds so we fight error with truth. While any of it could be done in some form of Christian community (small group, bible study, discipleship relationships, etc.), it might have felt more individualistic. The ninth point in that post highlighted just how important a community, or a group of Christians living life together, is for thinking biblically together.
Continue reading Renew Your Mind in Community
“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?” Martyn Lloyd Jones
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” (Isaiah 26:3-4)
Growing in Christ includes putting off sinful behaviors and putting on Christ-like ones, but it begins with battling at the levels of the heart (desires) and mind (thinking). The two are inseparable (Matt. 15:18-19). The heart leads our head down certain ways of thinking, and our wrong thinking reinforces wrong desires.
Continue reading 10 Ways to Renew Your Mind
In addition to “no shave November” there are other challenges you might take on in this month. A couple personal ones are saying yes to pumpkin anything and downing as much Thanksgiving Blend coffee from Starbucks as possible (while it’s around). It’s a month of food and feasting, and that is certainly something I can give thanks for with a full heart (and stomach)!
Continue reading 2018 November Thanksgiving Reading Plan
“God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshipers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the supremacy of His name among the nations.” John Piper
God’s mission is that God’s people would multiply so they fill the whole earth with his glory. Our mission is to be image-bearers who multiply God’s image near and far.
(Below is the transcript of a recent sermon preached as part of our global missions emphasis. It provides a condensed summary of how the biblical storyline is driven by mission. The sermon developed from an article written previously on God’s Vision for Multiplication.)
Continue reading God’s Mission for God’s World
“Brokenness precedes usefulness.” Despite our failures, despite our weakness and weariness, despite what was done to us or what we’ve done to others, and despite hard seasons that feel like we’ve been put in the garage because we’re no longer useful, God uses broken people. In fact, God often walks us through a season of suffering or humility to make us usable.
Continue reading Brokenness Precedes Usefulness
One joy of studying the Word rather than giving it a cursory reading is all the truth that starts to pop. Read through anything quickly and little will stand out. Read things slowly and thoughtfully, and you’ll experience reading in a whole new way. One thing slowing down forces us to do is to ask questions about the Bible. What does a word mean? Why did the writer use that sentence order or repeat that phrase several times? Where else from Scripture might they be drawing from? If we pause to chew on one word, one promise, one truth, or one phrase, we’re much more likely to be gripped by it and do something with it.
Continue reading Seal: Small Word, Big Meaning
“If the Word does not dwell with power in us, it will not pass with power from us.” John Owen
Continuing the series of posts on Bible meditation, I wanted to list some practical ideas for how to do it. While meditation can be a result of reflecting on something in creation, life experiences, conversations, our future in eternity, or other things, we’ll focus on meditating on Scripture.
Continue reading Ways to Meditate on Scripture