Thursday, 28 January 2010

The shortest and most helpful review of 'The Shack' that I've read


'At the heart of the book is a noble effort — to help modern people understand why God allows suffering, using a narrative form... I have heard many reports of semi-believers and non-believers claiming that this book gave them an answer to their biggest objections to faith in God. However, sprinkled throughout the book, Young’s story undermines a number of traditional Christian doctrines.

... The God of The Shack has none of the balance and complexity of the Biblical God. Half a God is not God at all.'- Tim Keller

Monday, 11 January 2010

A Great Mystery

'Indeed, this is one of the greatest mysteries in the world—namely, that a righteousness that resides with a person in heaven should justify me, a sinner on earth.'

-John Bunyan

Friday, 8 January 2010

Jesus and Relationships

'The gods of moralistic religions favour the successful and the overachievers. They are the ones who climb the moral ladder up to heaven. But the God of the Bible is the one who comes down into the world to accomplish a salvation and give us a grace we could never attain ourselves. He loves the unwanted, the weak and unloved. He is not just a king and we are the subjects; he is not just a shepherd and we are the sheep. He is a husband and we are his spouse. He is ravished with us- even those of us whom no one else notices...

When God came to earth in Jesus Christ... He became the man nobody wanted. He was born in a manger. He had no beauty that we should desire him (Isaiah 53:2). He came to his own and his won recieved him not (John 1:11). And at the end everybody abondoned him. Jesus cried even to his Father: 'Why have you forsaken me?'

... Why did he become the man nobody wanted? For you and me. He took upon himself our sins and died in our place. If we are deeply moved by the sight of his love for us, it detaches our hearts from other would-be saviors. We stop trying to redeem ourselves through our pursuits and relationships, because we are already redeemed. We stop trying to make others into saviors because we have a Savior.'

-Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods
From the chapter Love Is Not All You Need, pg 44-45

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

5 Hard Truths for Church Planters and How to Kill Stress

The series written by Dustin Neely from the resurgence is very helpflul and practical. The five hard truths are:

1) Be Resilient
2) Be Yourself
3) Think Hybrid
4) Kill Your Stress
5) Lead Your Family Well

Kill Your Stress is my favourite post. Here are four steps to killing stress featured in that post.

4 Steps to Kill Your Stress
Kill your stress before it kills you. Here are four ways:

1. Live your Bible.
"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:33-34).

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

"Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases" (Psalm 115:3).

We believe these Scriptures. We teach these Scriptures. But do we live these Scriptures? The reality is that most of us don't.

In seasons of stress, meditate specifically on passages that remind you of the truth and not your perceived reality. Look for the sins behind the sin for why you can't relax—sins like control, unbelief, or your worth rooted in your identity as a church planter. As you see the discrepancy between what you believe and how you live, confess, repent and pray for God's help.
Make it your goal to live the goodness of the gospel and not just believe it.

2. Listen to your body.
You know that burning in your chest at the top of your stomach? That's not supposed to be there! That, and other symptoms, are the “God-installed” ways your body has of telling you to slow down and trust him. Listen to your body’s signs, and let them be a reminder to trust him with your life, family, and church. You don't want somebody else raising your kids. If your body is telling you to slow down, do it.

3. Listen to your wife and kids.
If you are married, your spouse is likely your best ally in your ongoing battle with stress. Chances are, she and the kids (if you have them), are going to be who God uses to make you laugh, go to bed, and take a day off. Don't ignore them! If she thinks you are stressed, you probably are, even if you don't. If your kids make comments about why daddy is so tired or mad, listen to them and make changes.

4. Learn your limits.
Pastor Wayne Cordeiro has a great principle called "The Plate." Every leader has a certain-sized plate based on their skills, gifts, life season, health, etc. Not all our plates are the same size, and that is the way God designed it. Trust that God made you who you are to do what you can do and leave it at that. Realize that a lot of your stress comes from the fact that you have a salad plate stacked with a buffet plate's amount of food. Repent. Resize. Repeat.

Monday, 4 January 2010

New Year, Same Resolution

Happy New Year to everyone who reads/glances/scrolls through these posts! It's that time of the year when people make an extra effort to make a fresh start and turn over a new leaf. We call it making a New Years Resolution, but often these resolutions don't work. This is all because we look to the resolution for power to keep it. This is one of the big mistakes that lots of people make (including me) with the Christian life. We look at the law and think to ourselves 'God wants me to do this or that. So I need to try really hard to do what he wants'. We treat God's standards like a resolution, we look for power to keep the law in the law, we look for strength to be a good Christian from the commands. Again and again we find we aren't living in a Christian way because we look to the wrong source for our and strength power. The Christian life is a life of faith (Hab 2:4). The way to live according to God's ways is by faith. What does that mean? 'Faith' doesn't really mean anything until we describe what we have faith in. This is how Paul sums up the Christian life:

'The life which I know live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved my an gave Himself for me'

Galatians 2:20

Paul wants us to know that the only way to for God is by faith. And that faith needs to be faith in the gospel. It's faith in the fact that the God-man was slaughtered in my place and for my sin. But not only that. Paul also wants us to know that His bloody death is the greatest indicator of God's love. Jesus death means God's love. But not only in a general sense. We need to have an impression of His love on our hearts. We need to see and be amazed that He gave Himself for us and you individually. We need to see that God's love is wonderfully personally and beautifully individual, whilst being at the same time collective.

So according to Paul the Christian life is empowered by a realisation of God's love shown in Jesus. If I'm to do anything Christian in my life- if I'm to love my neighbour, help the poor, serve my city, kill sin- I need to believe the gospel to greater degree everyday. The extent to which I believe the gospel is the extent of the empowering I receive to live God's way.

My resolution for 2010 and (continuing resolution for every year to come) is reflected in Ephesians 3:17-19

'that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.'