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Archive for September, 2012

Freedom for the Perfectionist (Hayley DiMarco)


The Pride of Perfectionism

Perfectionists often believe that their neurosis affects only themselves, that their problem is such a part of who they are that it cannot be changed. But this is not true. Perfectionism plagues more than the obsessed one; it also harms those around her. The problem with perfectionism is that it comes from a heart that believes that it deserves—no, must be—perfect. Perfectionists base who they are on how well they do things. In other words, they serve their pride and their sense of self through their efforts. This is pride and has no meekness in it. The meek or gentle spirit is content with even imperfect things. She puts no demands on herself that don’t come directly from God, and she accepts his grace in those moments when she fails. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8–9).

The Perfectionist has no Time for Grace

The perfectionist has no time for grace, and in the path of perfectionism lies battered relationships that experience the prideful wrath of the moments when perfection fails. Gentleness carries with it a sober understanding of who we are, broken and frail, fallen and unrighteous. (more…)

September 27, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life / Doctrine,Sanctification,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Author @ 8:00 am | 1 Comment »

Faking Fruit (of the Spirit) – Hayley DiMarco

In his book Fruit of the Spirit, G. W. Bethune says,

“The mind, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, perceives and understands the truth; the conscience, quickened by the Holy Spirit, feels and acknowledges it; the heart, converted by the Holy Spirit, loves and obeys it.”

The big question, then, is can you truly bear fruit if you aren’t abiding? I know many nonbelievers who love, who are kind, gentle, patient, and joyful. They love their families, they help their friends, and they serve the world, sometimes better than believers, but only because it feels good. Their fruit grows because of the pay-off they receive. A woman might love a man because of how he makes her feel, how he looks, or how much money he makes. People might give because of how important it makes them feel or how much it relieves their guilt.

Whatever does not come from the Spirit
is done out of pleasure seeking.

People do things for lots of reasons, but whatever does not come from the Spirit, but from the flesh, is done out of pleasure seeking. In other words, when the flesh is our source of fruit, the motivation isn’t God’s glory but our own. So, even those who  seem so selfless and good can be, at the root of it all, just serving themselves. And while it can be beneficial and kind, it isn’t evidence of the life of the Spirit or its fruit, because its ultimate goal is glorifying self and not God.

We must understand that without the life of Christ in us, any fruit worth producing is not sustainable. When hard times hit, when tempers fly, when necessity demands it, the fruit produced by sheer brute strength falters, because it isn’t the produce of the Spirit but of the flesh attempting to please itself. For most of us, any study of the fruit of the Spirit draws us inward and forces us to look at our lives, emotions, or feelings. We examine our lives for love, joy, or self-control and see that we sorely lack what we desperately need. We want more fruit, but we can’t seem to find it. What are we missing?

What is the purpose of the fruit of the Spirit?

Perhaps a better understanding of the purpose of the fruit of the Spirit will shed some light on its absence in your life. Have you considered the idea of the tree? It does not grow fruit for itself but to give it to those who would take it from its branches. Fruit doesn’t satisfy the tree from which it grows; it is meant to give glory to the husbandman or gardener and to benefit those who have need of its fruit. So it is with your fruit, which is meant for “the common good,” we read in 1 Corinthians 12:7. You cannot consider the purpose of the fruit of the Spirit to be your happiness but the glory of God and the hope, faith, and life of others. Your fruit is meant to serve the hungry, to prove the goodness of the Spirit from which it comes to those who would partake of it. Though there is no question of a residual benefit associated with experiencing the fruit of the Spirit, its ultimate goal is to serve the gardener by feeding those who have access to its fruit.

So the fruit of the Spirit isn’t about pleasure or pleasing self at all, but about denying self and giving all to the glory to God. It’s about needing nothing for ourselves from the fruit we produce. It’s truly unconditional, meant to serve the will of God. This fruit comes not from the goodness of our hearts but from the goodness of the Spirit of God, who lives in our hearts. By becoming mindful of abiding in Christ and desiring to respond to the Spirit’s promptings rather than to our flesh, we set our minds of the things of the Spirit rather than the things of the flesh, and when that happens our fruit begins to flourish.

adapted from Hayley DiMarco’s The Fruitful Wife

September 25, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life / Doctrine,Sanctification,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Author @ 8:00 am | 1 Comment »

Video: The Fruitful Wife by Hayley DiMarco

What is the purpose of the fruit of the Spirit? How is it cultivated? Who is it for?

Tune in below as Hayley DiMarco gives a brief overview of her new book, The Fruitful Wife: Cultivating a Love Only God Can Produce.

Learn more about The Fruitful Wife.

September 24, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,News,Video | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 8:00 am | 0 Comments »

Why Should We Care About Holiness?

Kevin DeYoung shares his heart and vision behind the new book, The Hole in Our Holiness. Some may fear that the pursuit of holiness leads to legalism or away from gospel-centrality. On the contrary, DeYoung suggests that “the grace that saves a wretch like me is also the grace that transforms me and leads me home.” Tune in below to hear more, download a sample chapter, or learn more about the book.

September 21, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,News,Video | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 12:42 pm | 0 Comments »

Is our Evangelism Trying Too Hard to be Culturally Relevant?

The event-based approach to evangelism is constantly trying to create experiences that match those found in the world. We want our music, our oratory, and our style to be such that people attend our meetings.

But it is a mistake to pursue relevance as an end in itself or to empha­sis how we are like the world around us. Our “product” will always be inferior to that offered by Hollywood, Facebook, and Nintendo. Brits spend 20 hours a week watching television, Americans 28 hours. We are entertained by multimillion-dollar movies. We under­take sophisticated role-play and action computer games. We can­not compete on entertainment.

At best this distracts us from the need to create distinctive com­munities that communicate a distinctive gospel, a gospel that more often than not grates with the wider culture. At worst the medium becomes the message, and the challenge of the gospel is lost among the entertainment or watered down to make it palatable to the audience. In a post-Christian context we cannot rely on church events however cool, because the majority of people will not attend church. Now we see another reason not to focus on “relevant” events. Our missional cutting edge is not events that are like the culture but a life and message that are unlike the culture.

Pursuing Difference

Trying to match the world begs the question, If the church is like the world then why bother with the church? The more we become like the world, the less we have to offer. Certainly we want to avoid unnecessary offense and an off-putting experience, but what will draw people to church is always going to be what is different about us.

Difference is what we need to pursue. It is not our similarity to the world that has missionary power, but our difference. This does not mean being gratuitously different. We can certainly put people off by being culturally weird, dated, or obscure. Nevertheless, we will only attract people through gospel distinctiveness. We become relevant to our world only by being gospel centered.

Even if we could produce cool church events, we would create a generation of Christian consumers who look to the church to entertain them. It would only create a consumer mentality among churchgoers. Some churches would attract those who want an intellectual experience through good teaching; others would attract Christians who want an emotional experience through good corporate worship. But there would be little sense in local churches that “each member belongs to all the others” (Rom. 12:5).

People often ask us what our meetings are like in The Crowded House. We have taken to refusing to answer if we can get away with it. It misses the point of what we are trying to do. We do not propose a formula for better meetings. In fact, our meetings are very ordinary. If you visited, you would probably be disappointed.

Ordinary, Everyday Life

At the heart of our vision is not a new way of doing events but the creation of word-centered gospel communities in which people are sharing life with one another and with unbelievers, seeking to bless their neighborhoods, “gospeling” one another and sharing the good news with unbelievers. The context for this gospel-centered commu­nity and mission is not events but ordinary, everyday life.

Programs are what we create when Christians are not doing what they are supposed to do in everyday life. Because we are not pastoring one another in everyday life, we create accountability groups. Because we are not sharing the gospel in everyday life, we create guest services. Because we are not joining social groups to witness to Jesus, we create our own church social groups. Please do not misunderstand. We are not against meetings or events or programs. The regular meeting of the church around God’s Word is vital for the health of everything else. This is where God’s people are prepared for works of service. But the works of service take place in the context of everyday life.

excerpt from Everyday Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis

September 20, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Church Ministry,Evangelism / Missions,Life / Doctrine | Author: Crossway Author @ 8:59 am | 0 Comments »