Christian, Failures Need Not End You

1367075786bad-luck1Christian, do not fear failures. Only fear quitting along the way.

C.S. Lewis explains:

No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes in the cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us; it is the very sign of his presence. (Taken from The Letters of Lewis, p. 199)

Get muddy and tattered, and get on.

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Why Repentance Looks Different for Different Folks

ba81facfb41270dcec1257ec031ffe65Repenting of sin always involves the same process, but it doesn’t look the same.

Benjamin Shaw explains it well.

Imagine repentance as a man walking in one direction who suddenly realizes that he is walking in the opposite direction from which he should be walking. He stops. He turns around. Then he begins walking in the new direction. It is a quick and simple process. He realizes. He stops. He turns.

But imagine someone on a bicycle realizing he is going the wrong direction. In one sense, it is still obvious. He stops. He turns around. He begins bicycling in the new direction. But it is a longer process. He has to come to a stop. Depending on his speed, that may take some time. The turning around also takes longer. And it takes longer to get up to full speed in the new direction.

The process is the same for a man in a car. But it takes longer than for the man on the bike, and it may require going somewhat out of his way before he gets back on the right track.

The process is the same for a man in a speed boat. He has to slow down, enter the turn, and come back. But the time and distance required to do so is much longer than what was required for the man walking.

Now, imagine that the man is piloting a supertanker. It takes him miles to slow the ship down enough to even begin to make the turn. The turn itself is immense, taking him quite a distance from his intended course. Then again it also takes a large amount of time to get up to full speed in the new direction.

Now apply the images to repentance. Some sins are small and easy. We stop and walk the other way. Some sins, like the bicycle, are a little more difficult. In God’s work in the believer, He takes a little time to bring the believer to an awareness that his course is actually a sinful one. Then there is the process of coming to a stop, the process of the turn itself, and the process of getting up to speed in faithfulness. But some sins are enormous. We may not be aware that they really are sins. Or they may be so deeply ingrained in us that we are not willing, at first, to recognize them as sins. God works patiently with us, carefully slowing us down, as the captain does with the ship, so that He can bring us through the turn and into the new direction, where He can bring us up to full speed…

So if you have prayed for repentance for some particular sin, and there has been no instantaneous change, keep praying. God has promised to work, and He will. And you will be glad in the end that He did it slowly and carefully.

See the whole post here.

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Are You Bearing With & Forgiving Other Christians?

2100116a457cae5857534dd0a751d109A good sermon is a wonderful gift that should be welcomed and shared.

This past Sunday, one of our church’s pastors, Derick Zeulner, preached an encouraging and needed sermon (for my soul, at least) on Colossians 3:12-17. To spread it’s usefulness and encouragement, I want to post a section of the sermon here that I particularly needed. I assume you need it too. The specific section below has to do with the following text:

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. ” Colossians 3:12-13

From this text, Pastor Derick unpacks what Paul means by “bearing with one another…” and “forgiving one another.”

Do you know what you bear? Burdens.

This is a burdensome idea – you don’t bear with a friend when they surprise you with your favorite drink. You don’t bear with a person in whom you discover lots of common interests. You don’t have to bear with someone who loves to listen and ask interesting questions.

You bear with people who are abrasive or invade your personal space; you bear with someone who talks louder (or quieter) than you like or about subjects you don’t care to hear about.

NT Wright defines bearing with one another as “restraining your natural reaction towards odd or difficult people” and then he adds – “it’s letting them be themselves”… Letting them be themselves, even if that means they don’t act as you’d like them to, or in a way that’s easy for you to get along with.

Because, if you are dressed in compassion and kindness, humility, meekness, and patience… then you are going to bear with your fellow believers, and not just once, but each additional occasion.

And the second practical application: FORGIVING each other.

“And, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

It’s one thing to bear with people that just kind of rub you the wrong way, in their personality or behaviors… but what about when they wrong you. When they sin against you.

Paul says: “If one has a complaint against another…” Have you ever had a complaint against someone else? Someone in the church perhaps? A fellow believer that did something, that you just could not believe. Maybe they turned their back on you. Or Made you feel left out. Maybe they made you feel insignificant or didn’t consult you about their plans. Maybe they slandered your name under the guise of “prayer concerns” or unfairly judged you. Maybe they burst out in anger at you, and said terrible things about you or your kids. Or maybe they just failed to listen, failed to care, failed to do something to help you, failed to be a friend or a brother…There are so many ways that we hurt each other, so many ways that we can bring pain into a relationship – and I have only listed the ways that I know I have sinned against others.

You see there are really just 2 ways that problems crop up in a relationship: I offend you. Or you offend me. But, Paul addresses the offended person and says you are to forgive. Now, this is not for the offender to point to and demand forgiveness. No, for you, your place is to apologize and go out of your way to make amends…

But Paul looks to the offended… and he says forgive.

Here we will start to object, “But, Paul! You don’t know what they did!” And Paul says, “Clothe yourself with Christ’s character and forgive.”

“But, you don’t understand how much they hurt me!” And Paul says, “As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive…”

Let those who have ears, hear.

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The Saturday Post(s)

Saturday Post

Donald Trump Discusses His Favorite Books of the Bible. LOL city. “Numbers & Deuteronomy: NO ONE has more respect for the Mosaic Law than me. I have never once broken it.”

Roman Catholics & the Bible. One (among several) important difference between Roman Catholics and Protestants.

Stealing Back Halloween. Christians and Halloween have a complicated relationship. For the record, my attitude is best articulated by Jared Wilson in the post.

The Interview That Ended Poorly. Douglas Wilson being provocative, funny, and insightful again.

Book on Transgenderism. It’s good book for a hot topic.

Meet the Baby Born Twice. Vis a vis abortion.

 

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The Treasure of the Gospel

the-gospelThomas Guthrie:

“In the blood of Christ, to wash out sin’s darkest stains,

in the grace of God to purify the foulest heart,

in peace to calm life’s roughest storms,

in hopes to cheer guilt’s darkest hour,

in a courage that defies death and descends calmly into the tomb,

in that which makes the poorest rich,

and without which the richest are poor indeed,

the gospel has treasure greater far than east or west unfold and its rewards more precious are than all the stores of gold.” (Taken from The Parables, p. 212)

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Self Interest Isn’t (Always) Sinful

6a00e54ef4f376883401bb0875ae4b970d-800wiThough there are all sorts sinful forms of self-interest, self-interest itself isn’t inherently sinful. In fact, there are a lot of good forms of self-interest the Bible approves of and even uses as motivators to live faithful lives.

Wayne Grudem explains:

Much self-interest is good and approved by Scripture, as when Jesus commands us to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matt. 6: 20), or when we seek to grow in sanctification and Christian maturity (1 Thess. 4: 3), or even when we come to God through Christ for salvation. God certainly appeals to the self-interest of sinful people when he says, “Turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezek. 33: 11). To define the essential character of sin as selfishness will lead many people to think that they should abandon all desire for their own personal benefit, which is certainly contrary to Scripture. (Taken from Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine) p. 491).

Deny the kinds of self-interest that drives you to sin, but not the kind that drives you to holiness.

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Hey Christian, Are You Happy?

Isaiah Early

Isaiah Early

J.C. Ryle:

How is it, people often ask, that so many professing believers have so little happiness in their religion? How is it that so many know little of joy and peace in believing, and go mourning and heavy-hearted towards heaven?

The answer to these questions is a sorrowful one, but it must be given. Few believers attend as strictly as they should to Christ’s practical sayings and words. There is far too much loose and careless obedience to Christ’s commandments. There is far too much forgetfulness, that while good works cannot justify us, they are not to be despised. Let these things sink down into our hearts. If we want to be eminently happy, we must strive to be eminently holy. (Taken from Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, John 14:21-26).

This doesn’t mean that all unhappiness in the Christian’s life is because of some lack of obedience, but I do think it accounts for much more of our unhappiness then we often realize.

For some more thoughts on Christian happiness, start here.

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