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Archive for March, 2012

Struggling with All His Energy

by Elyse Fitzpatrick (original post here)

Colossians 1:28-29: Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with his energy that he powerfully works within me.

These verses are the perfect job description for a parent. Today as you interact with your children proclaim Him. Talk about Jesus, his incarnation, sinless life, substitutionary death, resurrection, ascension and intercession. Share these beautiful truths with them now, share how these change their day.

Pray that the Holy Spirit will give you words to say that your little ones will understand. Pray that you yourself will see how He intersects with every area of your life. Speak of a Rescuer that has come to save them.

Warn them and teach them. When your child is having a meltdown in Wal-Mart ask for help to see how Jesus life changes this moment for you and for your child. Paul says this is why he toils, he toils to present them mature in Christ. I know that when I am warning and teaching according to the strength I feel, I either give up and pretend I don’t see what my kids are doing,  or I get angry and hope that my wrath will be an instrument of change in their lives. When I am trying to present them mature in my own strength I feel overwhelmed and hopeless.

I love the end of these verses. Listen to where Paul puts the emphasis, “struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” Sometimes when I wake up in the morning and I think of all I have to do today, and think of trying to deal with my children, I just want to give up. I feel tired and sick of working with them, and the thought of having to answer one more question or break up one more fight, or trying to find my daughter who is strangely quiet, makes me want to hide in my bed and pretend like I am sick. But then I read these verses and I am reminded. I am reminded that the work to be done in my children’s lives is to do be done by Him. I don’t have to have the perfect answers, or be the perfect peace maker, I can rest and trust in His work on my behalf and for my children. He is powerfully at work within me. The Creator of the universe. The One who calls each star out by name. The One who knows if a hair falls from my head. This One, is powerfully at work in me. Because of this truth, I can rest while I toil. I can work with my children knowing that I am not the one that it all depends on. I can rest in His work in their lives, while I attempt to help them see Jesus in all of life.

What freedom, what joy! I can go forward today with full confidence that he will have his way in my life and in my children’s life. We can rest in his power together. I don’t have to change their hearts, I can trust in Him to work through me in their lives. When I don’t see the changes happen in their lives that I think need to happen, I can rest in His work. So today I can struggle with His energy. I am sure later this very day, I will forget this and go back to struggling in my own strength, and when I do I can remember the gospel. I can remember that I am hidden in Christ and I can once again rest in the arms of my loving, powerful Father at work within me.

Elyse M. Fitzpatrick holds a masters in biblical counseling from Trinity Theological Seminary. She is a member of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors, is a retreat and conference speaker, and is the head of Women Helping Women Ministries. Fitzpatrick has authored nearly a dozen books, including Because He Loves Me, Comforts from the Cross, Counsel from the Cross, and Give Them Grace.

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March 29, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Children / Parenting,Life / Doctrine,Marriage / Family | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 8:00 am | 1 Comment »

The Resurrection: This Changes Everything

Content modified from Raised with Christ: How the Resurrection Changes Everything by Adrian Warnock

Jesus’ resurrection does not only change us by saving our souls, making us holy, and filling us with power to live.

The fact that it changes our bodies to be immortal is still not the most glorious aspect of the story of salvation. Often the gospel is spoken of as being a great arc leading from the creation to the Fall to the Incarnation to the death of Jesus and then his resurrection and ascension. But that arc is not yet complete. Jesus will return, and when he does, the resurrection really will change everything. The Bible tells us, “He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything” (Acts 3:21, NIV). Paul tells us that God has “a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:9–10). There will be no more rebellion. Only then will this tiny rebellious corner of the universe we call earth resound with the praise of Jesus’ glory.

If this regeneration or resurrection of all things means anything, it means the reversal of the effects of death. Death entered the world through mankind: “Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). As a result of one man’s sin, the whole of creation was delivered up to bondage and decay. But all is not lost. This process has begun to be reversed as a result of the actions of one man, Jesus.

Christians have the same power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead living inside them.

One day that power will complete the work of saving us, but in the meantime the normal Christian life can be one in which we are very aware of the change that the resurrection brings. We are citizens of the age to come, living in a world that is dead to God. But we are not dead to him. We live to him. May God help us live in the light of that fact more each day. One day we will all see that, thanks to the death and resurrection of Jesus, everything really has been changed. The whole creation will have been renewed, and we will be like him.

I can think of no better way to end than with Paul’s prayer that speaks of the work of the Spirit, of the hope Jesus’ resurrection has given us, the power of his resurrection and of the coming kingdom in which he rules. May God answer this prayer in our lives and so help us to truly believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ and live in light of the implications of that event.

The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory . . . give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. (Ephesians 1:17–21)

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March 28, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Jesus Christ,Life / Doctrine,Sanctification,The Christian Life,The Gospel,Theology | Author: Lindsay Tully @ 8:00 am | (2) Comments »

The Measure of God’s Love (Toward Those Worse Off Than Frogs)

Excerpt from Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die by John Piper

The measure of God’s love for us is shown by two things. One is the degree of his sacrifice in saving us from the penalty of our sin. The other is the degree of unworthiness that we had when he saved us.

We can hear the measure of his sacrifice in the words, “He gave his only son” (John 3:16). We also hear it in the word Christ. This is a name based on the Greek title Christos, or “Anointed One,” or “Messiah.” It is a term of great dignity. The Messiah was to be the King of Israel. He would conquer the Romans and bring peace and security to Israel. Thus the person whom God sent to save sinners was his own divine Son, his only Son, and the Anointed King of Israel—indeed the king of the world (Isaiah 9:6-7).

When we add to this consideration the horrific death by crucifixion that Christ endured, it becomes clear that the sacrifice the Father and the Son made was indescribably great—even infinite, when you consider the distance between the divine and the human. But God chose to make this sacrifice to save us.

The measure of his love for us increases still more when we consider our unworthiness. “Perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7-8). We deserved divine punishment, not divine sacrifice.

I have heard it said, “God didn’t die for frogs. So he was responding to our value as humans.” This turns grace on its head. We are worse off than frogs. They have not sinned. They have not rebelled and treated God with the contempt of being inconsequential in their lives. God did not have to die for frogs. They aren’t bad enough. We are. Our debt is so great, only a divine sacrifice could pay it.

There is only one explanation for God’s sacrifice for us. It is not us. It is “the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7). It is all free. It is not a response to our worth. It is the overflow of his infinite worth. In fact, that is what divine love is in the end: a passion to enthrall undeserving sinners, at great cost, with what will make us supremely happy forever, namely, his infinite beauty.

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March 27, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life / Doctrine,Salvation,The Christian Life,The Gospel,Theology | Author: Lindsay Tully @ 9:14 am | 1 Comment »

Why Tracts?

Tracts are creative, short-form gospel presentations, convenient to use and economical to produce and distribute. They’ve been used by Christians since the 13th century and continue to aid in outreach efforts around the globe to this day.

Crossway, originally known as Good News Publishers, was founded in 1938 through the evangelistic ministry of Clyde and Muriel Dennis, two people who cared deeply about the advance of the gospel. The Dennis family found that tracts could have a unique and strategic role to play in the work of evangelism, printing over 50 million during World War II alone.

Crossway continues to distribute 16 million tracts annually to ministries and individuals actively sharing the gospel. The simple truth is that God still uses tracts today!

If you haven’t used tracts before and aren’t sure how to use them, here are some tips to get started:

  • Tracts are tools best used as an outgrowth of relationship, not in place of relationship.
  • Know your audience; choose a design and an approach that fits with the person you’re talking to.
  • When leaving a tract at a restaurant, be generous and thoughtful with the tip amount. Remember that for many servers, you’re representing Christianity as a whole. Use the opportunity to reflect God’s grace and generosity.
  • Tracts are strategic tools, but they aren’t comprehensive. Be ready with other resources such as Christian books to help answer the additional questions that come up.
  • Have your Bible or Bible app close by; ready to read the Word of God with the people you’re caring for.
  • Pray for the people you share with consistently and, on occasion, let them know that you’re praying for them
  • Follow up with the person you’re sharing with and help them find a church.

What an opportunity we have share the good news with the world around us. Please join us in prayerfully considering how God might use you in someone’s life today.

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”— Matthew 28:18-20

For more information on tract resources visit Crossway.org/Tracts or contact: tracts@crossway.org.

March 26, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Company Updates,News | Author: Crossway Staff @ 3:39 pm | (13) Comments »

The Awkward Guest in the Evangelical Household

Content modified from The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything by Fred Sanders

The doctrine of the Trinity has a peculiar place in the minds and hearts of evangelical Christians. How has it come about that so many evangelicals today are cold toward the doctrine of the Trinity, confused about its meaning, or noncommittal about its importance? Even though solid biblical and theological teaching on the subject is available, the doctrine of the Trinity continues to be treated as an awkward guest in the evangelical household.

What is the Trinity for?

The first and clearest answer has to be that the Trinity isn’t ultimately for anything, any more than God is for the purpose of anything. Just as you wouldn’t ask what purpose God serves or what function he fulfills, it makes no sense to ask what the point of the Trinity is or what purpose the Trinity serves. The Trinity isn’t for anything beyond itself, because the Trinity is God. God is God in this way: God’s way of being God is to be Father, Son, and Holy Spirit simultaneously from all eternity, perfectly complete in a triune fellowship of love. If we don’t take this as our starting point, everything we say about the practical relevance of the Trinity could lead us to one colossal misunderstanding: thinking of God the Trinity as a means to some other end, as if God were the Trinity in order to make himself useful. But God the Trinity is the end, the goal, the telos, the omega. In himself and without any reference to a created world or the plan of salvation, God is that being who exists as the triune love of the Father for the Son in the unity of the Spirit. The boundless life that God lives in himself, at home, within the happy land of the Trinity above all worlds, is perfect. It is complete, inexhaustibly full, and infinitely blessed.

A Gospel that Starts Outside of You

The good news is that God the Father saved us by sending the Son and the Holy Spirit. But we have also said that the eternal life of God in himself is something “even better than the good news,” if it is possible to say so reverently. What we mean by this is that God’s eternal life as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is a thing of infinite blessedness and perfection. There is a blessed God at the core of the glorious gospel. God in himself is perfect, and perfectly happy. This vision of a God with no unmet needs is a glimpse of the depths of the living God and the fund out of which he spends himself so freely in the economy of salvation.

The good news, in other words, starts far outside of us, in the life of the blessed Trinity which is complete in itself and suffers from no lack. This is not a cold abstraction, but a great thing worth praising God for. John Piper has worked hard to remind Christians that “God’s glory consists much in the fact that he is happy beyond our wildest imagination.” His 1986 book Desiring God is mostly devoted to the way “Christian hedonism,” or living to enjoy God, works its way out in every area of the Christian life (Scripture, prayer, money, missions, marriage, suffering, etc.). But Piper builds all these practical points, necessarily, on the solid foundation of “the happiness of God” as an eternal Trinitarian event of the Father and the Son rejoicing in each others presence. While he admits that “we stand at the foothills of mystery in all these things,” Piper also affirms that “the Scriptures have given us some glimpses of the heights.”30 Those heights are Trinitarian:

Within the triune Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), God has been uppermost in his own affections for all eternity. This belongs to his very nature, for he has begotten and loved the Son from all eternity. Therefore God has been supremely and eternally happy in the fellowship of the Trinity.31

It may seem counter-intuitive to start so far back in the divine mystery of God’s own being, if the goal is to change lives. The cry in our day always seems to be for a practical doctrine of the Trinity, for relevance, application, and experiential payoff. Indeed, it is true that the doctrine of the Trinity changes everything about Christian life. But the wisest Christian teachers have always known that shortcuts to relevance are self-defeating. In bypassing the deep sources of reality, they not only miss the truth but ultimately deliver less practical benefit. When it comes to the difference that the doctrine of the Trinity can make in our lives, it is crucially important that we begin with a recognition of God in himself before moving on to God for us. What we need to begin with is a profoundly impractical doctrine of the Trinity. With that in place, we can really get something done.

Footnotes:

  • 30. John Piper, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1986), 32.
  • 31. Ibid., 33. Piper is developing ideas from Jonathan Edwards throughout this section.

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March 24, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life / Doctrine,The Trinity,Theology | Author: Lindsay Tully @ 8:00 am | 0 Comments »