RSS feed for this section

Archive | Discipleship

The Real and Present Danger of Drift and Neglect

Neglect is not a pleasant subject, and it does not engender positive feelings within us.  Stories of the death of an elderly person who has lived, not by choice, as a virtual recluse in our neighbourhood, or the neglect of a child whose parents who are so caught up in their abuse-driven lifestyle, do not bring a smile to our face or make us laugh.  Neglect is not a good thing under any circumstances, but if it takes root in the life of the professing Christian it can have disastrous eternal consequences.

Neglect is never a sudden, cascading reality.  Invariably it always has a quiet starting point and its progression is often marked by an almost imperceptible drift into its ever increasing form.  The writer to the Hebrews calls his readers to pay much closer attention to what they have heard lest a drifting away from it lays hold of their lives.  The picture he paints is of a little rowing boat which is tied to the dock with a rope.  A failure to make sure that the mooring is tightly tied means that over time the movement of the boat on the ebb and flow of the tide begins to […]

A Good Bit From C.S. Lewis

Taken from Mere Christianity, chapter 9, Counting the Cost:

“That is why we must not be surprised if we are in for a rough time. When a man turns to Christ and
seems to be getting on pretty well (in the sense that some of his bad habits are now corrected), he
often feels that it would now be natural if things went fairly smoothly. When troubles come
along—illnesses, money troubles, new kinds of temptation—he is disappointed.

These things, he feels, might have been necessary to rouse him and make him repent in his bad old
days; but why now? Because God is forcing him on, or up, to a higher level: putting him into
situations where he will have to be very much braver, or more patient, or more loving, than he ever
dreamed of being before. It seems to us all unnecessary: but that is because we have not yet had the
slightest notion of the tremendous thing He means to make of us.

I find I must borrow yet another parable from George MacDonald. Imagine yourself as a living house.
God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is
getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the […]

Libations of Prayer

O loving Father,

  When our hope begins to fade

  And our strength fails,

Again you send Your servants

  To come alongside us,

  Visible, tangible messengers of Your care.

 

In prayer we cling to ancient promises

  With brokenhearted faith that cries,

  Weeping yet once again over loss.

Their tears fall together with ours,

  Forming on faces and floors

  The sweetest libations of Your Spirit.

 

As we arise from sacred moment,

  To look through bleary eyes

  Upon pained yet radiant faces,

We behold the glory of a Savior

  Who, having shed tears and blood,

  Even now fellowships with us.

A Very Little Thing

From childhood, I remember that Timex watches used to have commercials featuring either “torture tests” or short documentaries on true circumstances where their watches endured extreme conditions but still functioned afterward.  From being strapped to the propeller of a boat motor to being strapped to the belly of a Sumo wrestler, you would see the watch survive then hear the announcer quote their slogan:

It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

Living on the edge of woods in western Pennsylvania and having a small dog named Oscar, we have had occasion to reverse that motto.  For a while, almost every day Oscar would come in and we would find a tick or two upon him we would have to remove.  Though aggravating, it became somewhat humorous to see him learn to sit still for the tick removal because he associated the word “tick” with getting a dog biscuit afterward.  We could say about Oscar:

He takes a ticking and keeps on licking.

Though there was a certain gross factor and we had been warned of tick bites, still we did not consider a tick that big of a deal.

Then I came down with Lyme disease.

Now I am not writing this to elicit sympathy.  As the news shows, I […]

Willing to be the Foil?

Jewelers have sometimes backed gems with foil in order to cause the stone to gleam more brightly. The term “foil” then carried over into literature. A foil is a character who exists in a story in order to highlight another character in one way or another. In real life, it’s tough to be the foil. As Christians, we know that we serve as a backdrop in the cosmic story of redemption so that Jesus shines more brightly. With eyes of faith, we embrace that reality. But how do we respond when God makes us the foil to cause other people to shine more brightly for his glory? The Lord has given us the story of Joseph to show us the way.

Looking Forward to Persevering

“Of course!” “Absolutely!” “Why, certainly!” “Oh, yes!” “Oh, definitely!”

The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints rang sweetly in my ears with those exclamations as an eighty-six year old woman joined the congregation that I serve. That doctrine promises that God’s elect, once converted, will persevere in grace to the end (e.g. John 10:27-30). Each semester in Bible school, we have a church orientation class for prospective members. At the end of the term, the elders interview those desiring to make profession of faith for communicant membership. There, the words above were spoken.

A Time to Speak: The Conclusion of a Series on Emergence Christianity

Note:  As Gentle Reformation made the switch to its new format, the first three blogs in this series were lost.  Many thanks to The Aquila Report for keeping them online!  Here are links to  articles one  two and three   Below is the conclusion…better late than never, I hope! 

Though it feels like months have passed, it has only been a few days since you learned of your friend’s “Emergent” faith.  And yet these days have been packed with weeks’ worth of concern for him.  Your recent talk with your eccentric, eager-to-help professor was helpful, and you were especially strengthened by the prayer and Scriptural study which filled many sleepless hours since you saw your friend mark up his copy of the Apostle’s Creed with asterisks.

You’ve called your friend to invite him over, telling him that it’s cheaper to burn coffee at your place than to have it done professionally at the local shop.  As you wait for him, your thoughts turn again to the implications of his recasting of the Christian faith.

Given Emergent Theology’s (hereafter, ET) intentionally loose grip on biblical doctrine, you did some research on what its advocates deem distinctively Christian about the movement and how it interacts […]

Let’s Not Forget the Weekly Day of Prayer

My quiet wife really surprised me yesterday.  As the following letter to a Christian radio station manager shows, she was moved to write to address a concern. I’ll let the letter speak for itself.  Just thought I’d share it with you so you could join me in saying “Amen!”  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you for your programming. We are fairly new to the area and I’ve tuned in a few times. Since I’ve only listened occasionally I cannot comment specifically on your programming, but did want to address something I just heard this morning. Please understand I’ve never written an email or letter like this before. My heart was burdened to do so today.

I tuned in to hear the tail end of your segment on the National Day of Prayer. I listened as men and women earnestly prayed for our country. We, as a nation, have indeed largely turned from faithfully following Jesus Christ, and are in desperate need of His help. But how can we expect Him to honor us when we, as His people, are unwilling to honor Him in many ways?

What troubles my heart is the disregard that many who would call themselves followers of Christ have for keeping His Day. A […]

This is India in 2014

In February, I disembarked from a Boeing 777 in Mumbai, India. Others had told me to expect my first earthy scents of a developing country as I stepped into the terminal. Through the artificial light that glowed in the darkness of night, I stepped into the terminal and took a deep breath. My olfactory sense was overwhelmed with the…new car smell. We had arrived as one of the first planes to open the brand new international terminal that night. The plush carpet of the hallway cushioned my every step until it gave way to gorgeous marble-floored immigration waiting areas. Along the way, I stepped into the men’s room that sparkled like nothing I’ve seen in the United States. This is India in 2014.

In my travels from Mumbai to Bangalore to Delhi and to Dehradun over the next two weeks, I also saw rivers of trash, poverty, disease, deformity, and spiritual darkness. This too is India in 2014.

I saw the Lord at work in the hearts of people and in communities. He is saving Hindus, awakening nominal Christians, giving his people a heart for their cities and states, and giving his people a deep love for the truth of his word […]

Browse Worthy: Forgiveness

Though difficult to grant, the concept of forgiveness seems simple enough.  A debt removed and a relationship restored.

Yet because of such things as failing to see the mercy of God fully in Christ’s cross work; measuring the sin of others on a different scale than our own;  going through an awful, abusive circumstance; or working out forgiveness in unwise ways that can even be contrary to gospel principles, we do not experience nor reflect the depths of forgiveness and love that God intends us to know.  Here are three great links to help.

David Murray – In this post entitled “Let’s Stop Forgiving Those Who Don’t Want Forgiveness,” we learn of the reflective discernment that is needed when we are faced with tragic circumstances and the steps we should conscientiously move through to seek reconciliation.  

Portraits of Reconciliation – Via Tim Challies, here’s an incredible article by the NYT telling stories of forgiveness taking place in Rwanda following the 1994 genocide, with photos of victims with their persecutors.  The introduction states there are “degrees of forgiveness,” meaning it takes time and hard work in order for trust to be rebuilt, and illustrates well the lessons in Dr. Murray’s post above.  (This movement […]