Gifts are special. Gifts can sit on a shelf awaiting the appropriate time to be given, or they can be spontaneous. Gifts can come in small or large boxes. Sometimes the gift in the smallest box is far superior to the one in the larger container.
The Lord knows how to give good gifts. If a son asks for bread, he will not give him a stone.
When the Lord selects our gift, He handcrafts it so it is exactly what we need. His gift is sometimes not what we would have picked, but He knows our true needs.
Sometimes the gift is an unexpected answer to prayers that may be decades old or it could just be a little reminder that the Lord is good and He loves us with an infallible love.
Tonight, Marianne and I will have a romantic dinner at the country inn where I asked her to marry me.
Our friends often kid us, because we take time to celebrate key events in our life together. Our first date, our engagement, our wedding, and other anniversaries are important to us.
We don’t go on anniversary dates to create intimacy and passion between us, but to express the amazing, ever-deepening intimacy and passion that continues to grow between us – from the first time my heart unexpectedly fluttered at the sight of her, to the profound thrill I still feel when I see her.
There is a love between us that I seldom see in others. It, and our marriage, are testaments to the power of God to redeem lives.
Abundance often emerges from the impossible. Many times the very fact that the impossibility exists creates the opportunity for the Lord to bring forth His abundance.
Sometimes an act of faith is required. For Abraham, he had to believe in the midst of impossibility that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens.
Abundance wears many faces. Some assume that abundance implies health, wealth and prosperity and for some people that may be true.
However, God’s abundance does not come with a guarantee of those things. The churches of Macedonia experienced great trials of afflictions, but they possessed an abundance of joy even in the midst of deep poverty.
One day soon, you are going to wake up to a new world where your liberty to pursue virtue as an expression of your faith – and your right to proclaim those beliefs in the public square – are gone.
Vice is now using “tolerance” to bludgeon virtue, and virtue is currently losing.
This newest weapon in the war against virtue has met with great success – and, most disturbing of all, the naïve support of many “Christians”.
Somethings, it seems, never change.
Everyone loves the poor, until asked to share a meal in their home with one.
Everyone loves mercy, until they have to embrace the actual mess of inconvenient victims.
Everyone loves justice, until it disturbs their comfort zones.
Everyone loves the prophetic, until it exposes sin among them.
Everyone loves grace, until it calls them to repent.
Everyone loves love, until it speaks truth.
Someone asked if it is God’s will when evil happens.
I suspect it is God’s will that we have the right to reject Him and choose evil, because He wants us to have the related ability to freely choose the love, grace and rule He offers us.
I also suspect that He grieves with us at what some have done with those choices.
~ Jim Wright
Is it any wonder that a generation raised to believe it’s all about them has a hard time grasping that it’s all about God?
They are easy prey for those peddling God’s amazing grace, love and acceptance, while rejecting repentance, truth and change.
The greatest deceptions, however, involve half truths.
Unfortunately, there’s just too much of this going around these days, and it’s terminal when it comes to healthy believers, healthy ekklesia and healthy nations.
Among our fellowships, we keep it real.
We have to. We have no choice.
Continually, people are coming to the Lord through us from places of deep bondage and despair.
Tim Day, a fellow elder here in Virginia, is co-teaching a Biblical Foundations discipleship class with Sheri Warren and me on Sunday evenings.
That class pulls together folks from indigenous, participatory fellowships that are relating together in our county. Through it, the three of us – with help from other local elders – are helping to lay a foundation of sound doctrine in those churches through their emerging leaders.
Over the last few weeks we have focused on spiritual gifts, and the importance of everyone being able to encourage and minister to one another in our local fellowships as we each use the gifts God gives us for our mutual benefit.
This is the one year anniversary of a wedding I performed for Oscar and Nicole.
Marianne and I hosted the wedding in our home, and they are part of the fellowship that meets there.
I was very sick at the time, and had to have a stool beside me just in case I felt weak and needed to perform the ceremony sitting down. But I made it through on my own two feet and it was a great time of celebration!
This was a highlight of ministry for me. Oscar and Nicole mean a lot to Marianne and me, and are evidence of how God delights in redeeming lives.
Here’s more of the story…
Today is our wedding anniversary.
Our marriage is a testimony to the greatest gift two people can give each other: The ability to love and be loved.
Critique of the Center Church by Tim Keller [Part 3], by Neil Cole
I like Tim Keller’s books. We even went to the same seminary and share many similar influences. But Neil Cole provides a needed critique on Keller’s latest book, which views churches as institutions.
The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Gal 5:22-23 NIV
Self-control is the last fruit of the spirit. In life no one wants to be last. Somehow last implies that you don’t measure up, didn’t try hard enough or couldn’t quite do it. However, I don’t think being at the end of the list of fruit puts self-control in that same category.
I think self-control is like the parenthesis in math. For example, with (3+2) x (8+2) the math inside the parenthesis has to be completed first. You would get a totally different answer if the parentheses were missing from the equation.
In a sense love and self-control are like the parenthesis. They help group the other fruit. 1 Corinthians 13, the front parenthesis, reminds us that without love we can do nothing. Self-control comprises the back parenthesis.
Nearly a year has passed since I’ve been with the very first fellowship I helped start here in Virginia. I’ve missed them dearly.
Last night I got to be with them, share some stories of their beginnings, and convey a sense of God’s special pleasure and love towards them.
We all laughed and listened and talked – and there was life.
The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace… Gal 5:22
I am reminded of a children’s song that the kids liked to sing when I taught at a Christian school years ago. The song is I’ve Got Peace Like a River.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (I Cor 13:4-7)
The fruit of the spirit is love….. (Gal 5:22)
The Lord’s kind of love is a seemingly impossible task. No one in themselves is able to sustain this love. I would like to say that this is the way that I love, but that would be a misrepresentation of the truth. My goal is to strive towards it.
Real people want real answers and real freedom from real issues – not just the tidy platitudes of half truths.
Maybe that’s what has shaped my strong reaction to hyper grace, which is really half grace: It cannot offer real freedom from real issues because it seeks the grace of God’s affirming love and presence, but not the grace of His transforming truth and rule.
Many Christians have lost their way by embracing “hyper grace”, which is really half grace – it robs them of the power to become mature disciples and the confidence needed to go forth as ambassador’s of God’s full grace.
Marianne and I have a plaque in our home which says:
“One who practices hospitality entertains God Himself.”
This week, look around and make an effort to see those who have no family or are going through hard times – then ask if they’d like to share Thanksgiving with you and your family at your home later this month.
This is love.
If you live outside the United States and don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, then use some other time of celebration. You will bless, and be blessed!
The greatest challenge facing the Church today are those who promote truth out of balance:
- Those who think the Person of Christ can be fractured from His concurrent propositional truths, moral precepts and commands;
- Those who want the vibrancy of the internal Living Word, without submitting all things to the authority and discipline of His written external Word;
- Continue reading