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Archive for March, 2011

Eating, Drinking, and Doing Ministry

Jesus loved a good time and good food. His mission strategy was a long meal, stretching into the evening. He did evangelism and discipleship around a table with some grilled fish, a loaf of bread, and a pitcher of wine. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is usually going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal. He received flack from this at the hands of the Pharisees, who snidely remarked that “the disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink” (Luke 5:33).

Eating and drinking were so important to the mission of Jesus because they were a sign of his friendship with tax collectors, sinners, and others scorned by others. His “excess” of food and “excess” of grace are linked. In the ministry of Jesus, meals were enacted grace, community, and mission.

Meals are an effective way for Christians to emulate a part of Jesus’ ministry. It doesn’t take the profound knowledge of apologetics or hermeneutics to be a witness. If we share a meal three or four times a week and have a passion for Jesus, then we will be building up the Christian community and reaching out in mission. Luke describes Jesus’s mission strategy: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking.” In our food-centered culture, it sounds like an applicable act we can follow.

Excerpts modified from A Meal with Jesus.

March 31, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Church Ministry,Community,Culture,Evangelism / Missions,Life / Doctrine,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Staff @ 12:06 pm | 0 Comments »

The Final Judgment and Hell

In the forthcoming book Life’s Biggest Questions: What the Bible Says About Things That Matter Most, author Eric Thoennes briefly addresses what the Bible says about final judgment and hell:

  • God expresses both personal (Rom. 1:18–32) and national judgment (Isaiah 13–23), and his judgments have taken place throughout history and in the heavenly realm (2 Pet. 2:4).
  • But after the millennium (or, according to amillennialists, after the present age) Christ will judge the whole world once and for all (Matt. 25:31–33; 2 Tim. 4:1; Rev. 20:11–15).
  • At this time the righteous wrath of a holy God will be unleashed on a rebellious world (Rom. 2:5; 3:19). Jesus often warned that he would usher in the day of wrath (Matt. 10:15; 11:22, 24; 12:36; 25:31–46), and other New Testament writers repeated this idea (1 Cor. 4:5; Heb. 6:2; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6).
  • Unbelievers will be judged, and the result will be punishment for even careless words that were spoken (Matt. 12:36). Those who refuse God’s gracious offer of forgiveness in Christ will suffer eternal conscious punishment in hell, a condition of torment cut off from the presence of God (Matt. 25:30, 41, 46; Mark 9:43, 48; Rev. 14:9–11).
  • Christian believers, who understand the holiness and justice of God and the depth of human sin, should be able to relate to the martyrs in heaven who long for the day of judgment (Rev. 6:10).
  • However, in this age, the church is primarily called to warn people everywhere to repent and flee the wrath that will come when Christ returns as Judge: “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30–31).

Life’s Biggest Questions, releasing in July 2011, will serve as a great intro to Christianity or discipleship resource, especially for newer Christians. Life’s Biggest Questions will also address:

  • Does God Exist?
  • What Does It Mean to Know and Love God?
  • How Does God Reveal Himself?
  • How Well Can You Know God?
  • What Is God Like?
  • How Do You Explain the Trinity?
  • Who Is Jesus Christ?
  • Who Is the Holy Spirit?
  • What Did Jesus Christ Accomplish?
  • What Is a Human Being?
  • How Does God Relate to His Creation?
  • What Is Sin?
  • How Does God Save Sinners?
  • What Is the Church?
  • How Will It All End?
March 29, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Heaven / Hell,Life / Doctrine,Theology | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 10:34 am | 0 Comments »

Organization as a Homeschooler

Check out what reviewers are saying about Vicki Caruana’s The Organized Homeschooler.

  • “Though there are days the above title can feel like an oxymoron, there is hope. In this inspiring book by Vicki Caruana help abounds. Each chapter is a mix of encouragement and checklists to order your life and school while building off the solid foundation of God’s Word.”-Growing Grass.
  • “This is a wonderfully insightful book. Rather than just simply a “how-to” book of organization it challenges the reader to make a heart change and mind change.” -Abbie Reviews
  • “This is almost like a Bible study for home schooling moms who need a bit more motivation for organizing.  With steps to go through at the end of each chapter covering the heart, mind and body and including Scripture all along the way.” -Growing for Christ
  • “[Caruana] spends time on why to organize and then how to organize. My toes were stepped on more than once, but in a good way. Every chapter ends with boxes to check off relating to heart matters, mind matters, and body matters.” -Abundant Blessings.
  • “I was at awe at the way Vicki presented her helpful advice. The book is written in conversational tone. Vicki shares what works for her family but that was not the point of her writing this book.  Her purpose was not to get you to do what she does the way she does it.  She encourages you to find out what will work for you.”-Cross Rhodes Academy.
  • “The scope of  The Organized Home Schooler is quite wide. I enjoyed reading it, and picked up some good ideas for storing finished schoolwork, organizing my family, and storing (or eliminating) “stuff.”  The book is effective at motivating the reader to organize in addition to providing practical ideas.”-Debbie’s Homeschool Corner.
  • “Each chapter covers a different organization topic such organizing your thoughts, organizing your time, organizing your space, and so on.  Ideas are given for each of the topics to help you get your wheels turning on how to implement the new organizational system into your own home.” -Marine Corps Nomads

More reviews:

Canadianladybug Reviews

Eskypades

The Hankins Family

A Life Better Than I Deserve

Amanda

Dark Glass Ponderings

For One Another

March 26, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,News | Author: Crossway Staff @ 2:14 pm | (2) Comments »

Motivated by Love

John 14:15 reads, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

It is true that the object of our love can always be detected in our behavior. If errant children love their mother, they will seek to help her. In like manner, our lifestyle does prove the sincerity of our claim of love for God. If love for God isn’t present in our heart, then Godward obedience will be absent in our life. Jesus recognized the indissoluble connection between love and obedience. In the passage above he is teaching us about obedience, but not the way we teach our children. He isn’t piling on the guilt or hoping we’ll feel sorry for him and clean up our act. No, instead he knows that love for him is the only incentive that will stand up during trial and temptation, so he teaches us this vital relationship between love and obedience.

Jesus is lovingly stating a fact, but he’s also making a precious promise: love will motivate behavior. He completely knows us. He knows of our desire to obey and our shame and sadness because of our failures. But he also knows this: as our love for him grows, our obedience will grow, too.

Let me explain how the truth that love motivates obedience usually plays out in my heart. I think, Okay, I’ve got the “love God” part down, so now I need to concentrate on being more and more obedient to prove it. It’s right there that I fail to get the emphasis right. I gloss over the motivating role that love plays and focus in on what I need to do instead. I mistakenly assume that my love for him is what it should be. But this verse isn’t primarily meant as a correction to lazy believers. It is meant to tell us what the key to obedience is.

The key to a godly life is not more and more self-generated effort. Instead, Jesus is saying, “Love me and your obedience will flow naturally from that love.” The secret to obedience isn’t formulaic steps found in a self-help book. It is a relentless pursuit of love for him. How then do I cultivate the sincerity of love that motivates obedience? By focusing more intently on his love for me than on my love for him, more on his obedience than mine, more on his faithfulness than mine, more on his strengths than mine.

The apostle John knew that the only way love for God could be created in us was through a grasp of God’s prior love to us. He simply stated, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). The plain truth is that my love for God (and hence, my obedience) will grow as I cultivate my comprehension of his vast love for me. This is the wonderful promise of our Savior and the only sure method for true growth in godliness. If we neglect this key by focusing too narrowly on ourselves, our success or failure, then we’ll become mired down in guilt or pride, neither of which will stimulate loving obedience.

If, on the other hand, we intently focus on how we’ve been loved, irrevocably, eternally, freely, and without merit, if we contemplate how our obedience (or lack of it) doesn’t faze his love one whit, then we’ll find within our hearts a growing desire to obey. Why? Because love like that changes people.

Does this key to obedience guarantee that we’ll never struggle with sin? No. We’ll continue to struggle because our love will remain imperfect. It is weak and wavering because we can’t see him as he is. We’re still vulnerable to Satan’s lies. We can be deceived into thinking that our Savior is cruel, unfaithful, unloving, foolish. His beauty is distorted by our sin-skewed myopia, so we leave him and chase after what sparkles before us. Other gods whisper promises of love and happiness. We disobey. But our Redeemer doesn’t leave us there. He patiently and gently draws us back into his loving arms and reassures us of his overwhelming compassion, mercy, and grace.

Your Savior isn’t like your mother. He isn’t trying to motivate you through guilt or pity. His love is fervent, eternal, uncompromising. Rest there, drink there, luxuriate in the warm sunshine of his smile; grow strong in his everlasting embrace. Confront your own sinfulness, yes, but only after you’ve remembered his love for you. Then love him and obey.

From Comforts from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick

March 23, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life / Doctrine,Sanctification,The Christian Life | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 8:51 am | (3) Comments »

The Life and Mission of St. Patrick

Patrick was raised in a nominally Christian home in Britain during the collapse of the Roman Empire. At 16 he was captured by Irish pirates and taken to the west coast of Ireland. The trauma of slavery turned him to the Lord, and he strove to spend each day in communion with God. Six years later he escaped and returned to Britain. After a time of theological study, Patrick felt the Lord’s call to return to Ireland as a missionary to his captors.

Despite strong opposition from both the Irish and his Christian contemporaries back home, Patrick speaks of “thousands” converted through his ministry, including sons and daughters of Irish kings, from the worship of “idols and filthy things.” This success came from Patrick’s deep understanding of what Scripture teaches regarding missions and a steadfast dedication to his work.

Patrick’s work firmly planted the Christian faith in Irish soil and left a deep imprint on the Celtic church that would grow up from this soil. The central place that the Bible held in his thinking helped initiate an impetus among the Irish toward literacy. In fact, this impetus was so strong that by the seventh century the Irish had become major participants in “bibliocentric literacy,” a key aspect of Roman Christianity in late antiquity. Throughout the sixth and seventh centuries, Celtic Christians evangelized the British Isles, Gaul, and central Europe with a passion that matched that of Patrick, the father of the Irish church.

“In the light, therefore, of our faith in the Trinity I must make this choice, regardless of danger I must make known the gift of God and everlasting consolation, without fear and frankly I must spread everywhere the name of God so that after my decease I may leave a bequest to my brethren and sons whom I have baptized in the Lord—so many thousands of people.” – Patrick

Excerpts modified from Rediscovering the Church Fathers.

March 17, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Church History,Life / Doctrine | Author: Crossway Staff @ 2:28 pm | 1 Comment »