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Monthly Archives: November 2011

A Note to Self: Fear

~From the book: A Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself by Joe Thorn~

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.” Psalm 111:10

“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28

Dear Self,

You often fear the wrong things. For example, often you are fearful of conflict, suffering, or the loss of good things like respect or acceptance by certain kinds of people.  It is understandable from a worldly perspective, for these things you are afraid of losing are themselves–worldly. This does not mean they are bad, but they are temporal.  So many of the things you value are good gifts from God; but they do not last, nor are they supposed to be something from which you find your identity and hope.

The problem with this kind of worldly fear is that it will lead you to toe party lines instead of correcting and challenging the people you are close to. It will compel you to try to live a safe life, free from risk or danger instead of being willing to make the hard and “risky” choice of following Jesus in a culture that rejects Him. It will lead you to so prize the good gifts of God that they mutate into idols that you are unwilling to let go.

You don’t need to be afraid of anything, but you do need to fear your God with a holy reverence. Such “fear” is an aspect of faith that responds to God’s holiness, sovereignty, and transcendence. This higher form of fear is that which leads to awe, adoration, and carefulness of life because of the intimate knowledge of your Maker and Redeemer. What should you fear in life above a holy God who forgives the sins of unholy men like yourself? What can be taken from you? Your possessions can go up in flames, but you have treasure in heaven and stand to inherit the kingdom. Your reputation may be sullied, but you are justified in Jesus. You may be rejected by those who you admire, but you are accepted by God. You may be hated, but your Father in heaven loves you with an undying love. What is there in this life to fear?

The fear you need to maintain and cultivate is a fear of God, for in it you will discover wisdom and develop strength that enables you to persevere in faith to the end.

 

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Posted by on November 25, 2011 in Edification

 

Beauty: A Craving of the Soul

Below is a post by a close friend of mine that I thought was excellent and really portrays so well the beauty of creation while proclaiming the delight we should find in creation and most of all God!
“Something of God…flows into us from the blue of the sky, the taste of honey, the delicious embrace of water whether cold or hot, and even from sleep itself.” 
~C. S. Lewis
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.” ~Psalm 19:1
Step onto the leaf-littered ground and listen to the crackling beneath your feet. Lift your face toward the beaming sun and savor the warmth of its golden glow. Close your eyes and tune your ears to the whispering of the November breeze. Do it deliberately. Determine to capture the day’s magic, its divine enchantment, the presence of Almighty God.
“God is present in all the moments, but I do not deify the wind in the pines, the snow falling on hemlocks, the moon over harvested wheat. Pantheism, seeing the natural world as divine, is a very different thing than seeing divine God present in all things.” 
~Ann Voskamp, from One Thousand Gifts
The soul craves beauty. A breathtaking sunrise; a fog-enshrouded lake; a tiny wide-eyed baby; wildflowers of deep violet, beaming yellow, and twinkling blue; the appearance of the first star each night, sunlight painted on the floor from an open window; the dancing flames of a campfire in autumn…All these wonders are graciously bestowed on us by our Father in Heaven.
Some beauty is not often recognized as loveliness; it is cast aside as insignificant. But it is just as awe-inspiring as the tallest snow-capped mountain or the daintiest pearl-pink rose. This beauty unfolds to us in the form of well-worn, gnarled hands–hands that have served the Father in years of service to others; a shattered bottle of expensive perfume–perfume poured out at the feet of the Master; crutches in the hands of the wounded–wounded in obedience to duty to God and country; a crude wooden manger in Bethlehem…And this beauty appears in one Man’s rough, nail-scarred hands, in His tear-streaked face, in His dirt-stained, weary feet, and in the very shadow of His presence.
“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing to find the place where all the beauty came from.” ~C. S. Lewis
I, like C. S. Lewis, long to find the place where all the beauty came from. Whenever I wonder and whenever I doubt, all I must do is gaze upward. HE is there. HE is where all the beauty came from. HE is beauty defined.

“He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing. He binds up the waters in His thick clouds, and the cloud is not split open under them. He covers the face of the full moon and spreads over it His cloud…Behold, these are but the outskirts of His ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand?”  ~Job 26: 7-9, 14*These pictures were taken on a walk near our house–how very blessed I am to experience such glory in my own backyard! Do we not all experience beauty daily for which we fail to thank God? Let us thank Him today for His presence and His power!*

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2011 in Encouragement

 

Two broken bones…

Back on November 7th I broke both bones in my right arm playing football and had to have surgery. The doctor put in two metal plates, one over each bone and due to this I have been unable to post on here for awhile. Now that everything is healing up, I have a cast on and it will be on for around 8 weeks total. through this though God has shown His wonderful grace and strength through this time. Although it has been difficult and a trying situation, God has overwhelmingly blessed me through wonderful friends and providing His strength through this. I have been able to see even more clearly the sufficiency of God no matter the circumstance. Here is a devotional from D.A. Carson’s For the Love of God which is very relevant and encouraging from James.

 

According to james 1:2–4, 12, there are two reasons why Christians should rejoice when they face trials of various kinds. Other reasons are articulated elsewhere, but these two are remarkably comprehensive.

First, we should rejoice because we know that when our faith is tested, the result is perseverance (1:2–3). As an athlete endures in order to build up endurance, so a Christian perseveres under trial in order to build up perseverance. Perseverance contributes something important to our character. It “must finish its work so that [we] may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (1:4). The alternative is a personality that may love the Lord when things are going well, a character that is bold and happy on bright days in the Spring, but knows little of steadfastness under duress, of contentment when physical comforts are withdrawn, of quiet confidence in the living God when faced with persecution, of stability in the midst of a frenetic pace or a massive disappointment. In other words, in a fallen world perseverance contributes maturity and stability to our character—and trials build perseverance. So James is very bold: we should, he says, “consider it pure joy” whenever we face trials of various kinds. This is not a perverse form of Christian masochism, but an entirely appropriate response if we remember the Christian’s goals. If our highest goals are creature comforts, this passage is incomprehensible; if our highest goals include growth in Christian character, James’s evaluation makes eminent sense.

Second, the Christian who perseveres under trial is blessed “because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (1:12). In other words, perseverance is a necessary ingredient to genuine Christianity. A real Christian, on the long haul, sticks: he or she perseveres. There may be ups and downs, there may be special victories or temporary defeats, but precisely because the One who has begun a good work in us completes it (Phil. 1:6), real Christians stick (cf. Heb. 3:14). They continue to be “those who love him.” Thus Christians facing a trial must perceive not only the threat or the unpleasantness or the disappointment, but also the challenge for which God’s grace equips us: to press on—always to press on—knowing full well that the ultimate reward, meted out by grace, is “the crown of life”—the crown that is life, life in its consummated splendor, the life of the new heaven and the new earth, the heritage of all Christians. Thus, once again James is entirely realistic to perceive that the person who perseveres under trial is “blessed.” It is an easy calculation, provided we remember the Christian’s goals.


 
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Posted by on November 21, 2011 in Encouragement

 
 
In Christ Jesus

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus