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Archive for November, 2011

Ladies: Do Not Shy Away from Theology

Guest post by Jessica Thompson, co-author of Give Them Grace

When I say the word “theology” what scary picture rushes into your mind? A thin man with a long white beard, and a monotone voice droning on and on about words you can’t understand? Or a group of people arguing seemingly about nothing but semantics? Or a book that you know you probably should read, but every attempt results in narcolepsy?

Let me paint a different picture for you: A woman sitting at the feet of her Rescuer, discovering the greatest love of her life; His likes and dislikes; pushing herself into who He is, relishing every aspect of His beautiful, amazing character. This, my sisters, is what theology is. Theology contemplates God, discovers the God you have pledged yourself to. As women, we study and want intimate knowledge of those we love, of those we are in relationship with. Why would we shy away from or snub knowing the One that knows us most fully?

Theology isn’t just a scary word. Theology, knowing God, is what will keep you when the trials come. If you have a false idea about God, you won’t be able to understand why He would allow suffering or hurt to come into your life.

Here’s an example where I was sustained by the theology I had already learned: When my oldest son was 7, he was admitted into Children’s Hospital for a very high fever and a strange lump on his neck. He looked like he had pushed an orange through his ear and it was lodged inside the side of his throat. We spent days and nights with doctors running tests and trying to figure out what was happening to my sweet baby. The only hope I had during that time of uncertainty, was that I knew my God. I knew He was loving, and powerful, and sovereign. I knew that He wouldn’t allow anything to come into my life unless it was for my family’s good and for His glory. I didn’t know how my circumstances would work out, I didn’t know if my son would be okay, but I was absolutely positive about the character of my God.

Theology isn’t boring or irrelevant. It is full and rich and beautiful. The more you know God and study Him, the deeper your love will grow for Him. The more you know Him, the more you be grateful for what He has done for you. Our immense, all knowing, all seeing God chose to set His love on you. He gave His Son to rescue you. He gives us the Holy Spirit to help us understand Him better.

Theological doctrine will bring richness to your relationship with your Heavenly Father. Being sure of what you believe and why you believe it will cultivate affection for your Savior. Praying that you would be able to comprehend the riches of the fullness of His grace will make your Christianity vibrant, unassailable in times of trial.

The truth of the matter is that even if you say theology isn’t important and you don’t want to bother with it, you are a making a statement about God. That statement is this: His character is not worthy of your time and energy.

Sisters, put the milk away, pull out a knife and fork and dive into the meat of our Creator. Don’t be afraid of theology, don’t leave the head work up to the men. Grab ahold of our great God and study Him. Study who He is, what He has revealed about Himself in the Bible. Study what He says about you. Be amazed at the wonder of His great love and see how that knowledge will revolutionize all of life.

Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them (Psalms 111:2).

Jessica Thompson is co-author of Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus. She is a member of an Acts 29 church and has been homeschooling for the past two years. She is married and has three children.

Related Posts:
- Theology as More Than Just an Academic Exercise
- Knowledge without Devotion is Dead Orthodoxy
- Human Thinking and Divine Revealing Work Together to Awaken Saving Faith

November 30, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life / Doctrine,Marriage / Family,Sanctification,The Christian Life,Theology,Women | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 8:00 am | (11) Comments »

How I’m Using the ESV Journaling Bible

by Joe Thorn on November 29, 2011 (original post here)

As a new Christian the Bible was entirely new to me. I didn’t know who the Apostle Paul was, nor well-known stories like that of of Cain and Able. So, I was hungry for the Scripture and read it fervently and frequently. For the first years of my Christian life I always had my bible. Of course I had a few Bibles, but my bible was the one I read and wrote in most of the time. (Here’s a peek at a page from the NIV Bible I was using as a young Christian in 1992.) By the late nineties I wound up just grabbing whatever Bible was close by. It didn’t matter which one I used since I kept all my notes in a journal. Well, maybe it’s just me but along the way I really missed having a special go-to Bible that was well-read and marked up.

In July 2006 Crossway released the ESV Journaling Bible featuring 2 inch ruled margins. I wanted one immediately, but wasn’t sure I would use it. After all, I am one of those Moleskine guys. Well, I finally purchased one this fall and just love it. For the first time in years I have my Bible again. For those who like to take notes in their bibles I think this is the best option around.

For a real review of the Bible you can check out Tony Reinke’s post from 2007 (while you’re at it, get his new book, Lit!). Here, I’m just going to tell you how I’ve been using those wide margins in the ESV Journaling Bible. I mean, you finally have a Bible with s p a c e. What do you use it for? I mostly do three things.

Using the Margins

1. Summation, Connection, and Implication.
I often write out a summation of certain truths, arguments, or passages that make things clear for me. Distilling things down to their essence helps me to see the big picture, or main point, and then return to the pieces. I also like to lay out some of the connections between the truth, promise, or command in the passage I am currently reading to truths, promises, etc. in other portions of Scripture. And, I also note some of the implications of those truths/passages I’m currently reading.

2. Cross references.
Some people won’t like that the ESV Journaling Bible doesn’t have cross refernces, but I like that I get to add my own. It forces me to work my brain (or a concordance), but then I add only the most relevant texts.

I’m even throwing helpful quotes from other writers/theologians when helpful to me or those I may wind up teaching.

An example.
Last week I was reading Proverbs 27 and verse 7 really caught my attention. “One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.” I used the margins to note that the rich forget their privileges, the comfortable forget their ease, but those who suffer savor even small graces. And, that I need to take note of my afflictions while savoring God’s present graces and gospel promises. Later I came across Matthew Henry’s comment on the passage and quoted him in the margin as well. He was explaining how the poor have a better relish of their enjoyments than the rich, and then wrote, “Hunger is the best sauce.”

Pen or Pencil?

If you’re going to mark this bad boy up, what will you use? I favor writing in this Bible with a pencil because I sometimes write down the wrong verse and would like to erase something rather than scratch it out. But I went onto Twitter last week and asked what people are using to write in their ESV Journaling Bible, and here are some of their answers.

Pigma Micron 005 (by Sakura)
Zebra F-301 0.7 mm Fine Point
Pilot Hi-Tec
Pilot G-2 0.38 Fine Point
Staedtler Mars Micro 775 Mechanical Pencil 0.5mm
Pentel 0.5mm pencil

Joe will be giving away a copy of the ESV Journaling Bible later this week. Check out his blog for details. Joe Thorn is the Lead Pastor of Redeemer Fellowship in Saint Charles, IL, and author of Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself. (Photos by Joe Thorn).

November 29, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Bible News,ESV,News | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 2:16 pm | 1 Comment »

3 Reasons to Prioritize Your Marriage Over Your Children

By Voddie Baucham, Family Shepherds: Calling and Equipping Men to Lead Their Homes

There is sometimes a tendency to prioritize our children to the neglect of our marriage. There are at least three reasons that make prioritizing our children over our marriage both foolish and dangerous:

1. Our children will eventually leave home. Prepare your marriage for the empty nest:
To my knowledge, I’ve never talked to a person who divorced after twenty-five or thirty years who didn’t say something like this: “Once the kids were gone, we realized we really didn’t have much of a marriage.” Building a marriage on the foundation of the preeminence of children is like building a house on a rented removable slab. You may have days or even years when you feel completely secure, but the day is coming when the lease will be up and the foundation upon which your home stands will be taken away. A family shepherd must not allow his family to fall into this trap.

2. Our marriage forms the cornerstone of our children’s security:
Ironically, those who prioritize their children above their marriage are not only jeopardizing their marriage, they’re actually depriving their children of the very thing they desire to provide them. The greatest source of security our children have in this world is a God-honoring, Christ-centered marriage between their parents. Putting the children first is like a police officer putting away his badge and gun in order to make the public feel more at ease. A family shepherd must put his marriage before his children in order to provide them with the security they both need and desire.

3. Putting your marriage first will actually prepare your children for marriage:

Prioritizing your children above your marriage is both foolish and dangerous because it sets a precedent that contradicts one of the greatest lessons you’ll ever teach your children—how to be good husbands and wives. We must first and foremost model a commitment to marriage. Failure to do this will communicate ideas that are contrary to what we believe—starting with the narcissism it tends to create in our children—including the pitfalls that may follow them into their marriage. For example, if we prioritize our children above our marriage, we teach our children that marriage exists for children. If this is the case, how will our children react to the early months or years of their marriage when there are no children? How will they respond if, God forbid, they should struggle with infertility? If the heart of marriage is “living for the kids,” these scenarios could be difficult at best.

Jesus our Savior—and our example of what a bridegroom truly is—laid down his life for his bride (Eph. 5:25). He doesn’t neglect her for another. And it’s this relationship of our Savior to his bride that governs our understanding of our role as husbands and family shepherds. We must give ourselves to and for our wives. We must view them not only as ours but as us! As I often remind myself concerning my wife, “She’s not just mine; she’s me. She’s bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh (Gen. 2:23); she’s my body (Eph. 5:28–29), and I am her head (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:23). We are one (Eph. 5:31; see also Gen. 2:24); and our union is a blessing to our children (1 Cor. 7:14).”

As family shepherds, our primary mission is to love our wives as our own selves. We must not allow anything to interfere with this mission. Neither our careers nor our children can be allowed to keep us from our task of modeling for the world the beautiful, mysterious, one-flesh union of our Savior and his bride (Eph. 5:33).

Related Posts:

Dads: Know the Difference Between What the Gospel Requires and What it Produces

By Voddie Baucham (from Family Shepherds: Calling and Equipping Men to Lead Their Homes)

Family shepherds must know the difference between law and gospel. We must know the difference between committing ourselves to leadership in our families because it’s “right,” and looking to Christ as the Good Shepherd who, by his grace, will conform us to the will of his Father as we trust and obey him.

We must also know the difference between condemning our family with the law and shepherding them with the gospel. We must know the difference between what the gospel requires and what the gospel produces.

All the gospel requires from us is repentance and faith.

  • This is the message Jesus conveyed: “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matt. 4:17; see also Mark 1:15).
  • This was Peter’s message on the day of Pentecost when, filled with the Spirit, he turned to the crowd and said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
  • And again: “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19).
  • This is also the message Paul proclaimed at Mars Hill: “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).

It’s absurd to expect obedience from men who are “dead in the trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1)—men who “are in the flesh” and who consequently “cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8). This is the heart of Paul’s argument in Galatians. There he makes it clear that we are “justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified” (Gal. 2:16). It is not our good works, our righteousness, our obedience that triggers the gospel’s effect in our lives; rather, the gospel calls simply for our repentance and our trust in Christ. This distinction must mark our understanding and proclamation of the gospel.

While repentance and faith are what the gospel requires, what the gospel produces is obedience to all the Lord’s commands.

  • This is clear when John writes: Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:4–6)
  • This is in keeping with Paul’s comment in 2 Corinthians 5:17 on the nature of true conversion: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has Family come.”
  • This, of course, is to God’s glory, not ours; for it’s God who has made us “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).
  • Make no mistake: “It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). Our obedience is produced by God, not by us. This obedience is the fruit or evidence of the work of the gospel in our lives.
  • Those who love the Lord keep his commandments (John 14:15, 21).
  • Moreover, Jesus associates the keeping of his commandments with abiding in his love (John 15:10), not trying to earn it.

All this may seem like splitting theological hairs, but I assure you these distinctions are crucial. Confusing what the gospel produces with what the gospel requires will lead either to a sterile works-righteousness on the one hand or to lawlessness on the other.

For example, if we work toward getting our unbelieving children to do that which only the gospel can produce in the life of a believer, and fail to point them to the undeniable truth that there’s nothing in and of themselves whereby they may obey in a manner that will satisfy God’s righteousness, then we’re essentially telling them they can please God on their own—something the Bible says is impossible (Rom. 8:8).

On the other hand, if we merely throw up our hands in surrender, never calling our children to repentance and never holding up to them the mirror of God’s unattainable standard of righteousness, then our children will think themselves safe and secure when in fact they stand condemned before a holy and righteous judge. They must know that in the Lord’s sight, “all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Isa. 64:6).

Thus, we must teach our children to view the law as “our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith (Gal. 3:24). Only then does the gospel have its full impact.

Related Links:

November 28, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Children / Parenting,Life / Doctrine,Marriage / Family,Men | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 3:00 pm | 0 Comments »

Grateful for Expiencing Grace

Timothy George has a great section in his book Amazing Grace: God’s Pursuit, Our Response where he speaks of the varied ways we experience grace. May his reflections lead your heart to gratitude and worship as you celebrate Thanksgiving today!

Grace is not an impersonal force or a divine quality to be studied only in the abstract. There is no hell on earth so deep but that God’s grace can go deeper still. Thus, the New Testament states that Jesus “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him” (Heb. 7:25). We experience grace on many different levels in our lives:

  • We experience grace as pardon. God’s forgiveness and justification remove our guilty standing before him—our real guilt, not just our guilty feelings. The psalmist claims that God’s pardoning grace removes our guilt of sin “as far as the east is from the west” (Ps. 103:12).
  • We experience grace as acceptance. In Christ we who were distant from God, covered with shame, have been embraced, welcomed, and accepted—not because we are acceptable, but solely because we are loved.
  • We experience grace as joy. This delivers us from the frantic quest to be “happy” through stuffing our lives with fleeting pleasures and “joyrides” that only leave us sadder, more depressed. Real joy comes from knowing God and serving him.
  • We experience grace as peace. God’s shalom answers the anxieties and insecurities that threaten us from every side. The standard New Testament greeting is “grace and peace.” Grace and peace are twins; they belong together, related as cause and effect.
  • We experience grace as power. Most people do not so much lack the knowledge to live as they should as they do the ability to carry out what they already know is right. God’s grace acts as an antidote to our impotence. It transforms, energizes, enables.
  • We experience grace as hope. This is hope not in the loose sense of a vague general wish that may not come true, as in “hopefully it won’t rain tomorrow.” In Titus 2:11–13, Paul connects the grace of God with the “blessed hope” of Jesus’ return in glory, a great motivation for confident Christian living.
  • We experience grace as love. God’s grace and love are so close that, at times, we cannot distinguish them. The Bible says that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18), and God’s gracious love counters the nagging fears and doubts all of us have.
  • We experience grace as gratitude. The most basic response we can make to grace remains a life of thank-yous to God. As Lewis Smedes points out, true gratitude involves “a sense of wonder and sometimes elation at the lavish generosity of God.”
November 24, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life / Doctrine,Sanctification,The Christian Life | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 8:00 am | 0 Comments »