When I first ran across this short article I was struck by it's uncompromising truth and challenged by its unattainable bidding. For me, personally, I need lots and lots (and lots) of extra grace in most of these areas.
"When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart, or even defend yourself, but take it all in patient, loving silence....that is dying to self.
When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, any impunctuality, or any annoyance; when you stand face-to-face with waste, silly extravagance, spiritual insensibility, and endure it as Jesus did....that is dying to self.
When you are content with any food, any offering, any climate, any society, any clothing, any interrogation, any interruption by the will of God....that is dying to self.
When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation, or to defend your own beliefs, your own good works, or itch for commendation, when you can truly love to be unknown....that is dying to self.
When you can see your brother prosper and have his needs met, and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit, and feel no envy, nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and in more desperate circumstances....that is dying to self.
When you receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself, and can humbly submit inwardly, as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion, retaliation, self-sympathy, self-defense, self-vindication, self-justification, resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness in heart....that is dying to self!"
To think: this is an integral part of what and who Christ was and did for us...I am continually awestruck not only by this, but by the fact that it is not required of me to attain such a disposition, no, not a requirement but a desire..a deep desire brought on by nothing less than a heart change; a heart changed by nothing less than Christ's death and resurrection for us. Jesus did it for me, He paid it all, all to Him I owe..
"For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."
(I just realized I'd posted this article here before, but will post this again anyway, partly to just update/post-over the previous (ancient) post!)
""O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?""-1Corinthians 15:55Lately (alas: daily) I've been utterly awed by God's undeniable movement in the world (and in mine) and Satan's undeniable increasing rage against that. If you're abiding in Christ you see it too.
"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." -John 15:5~What does that mean to be "abiding in" Christ? What might the "fruits" we bear look like?
In the past year or so I have heard/read several stories of people who'd lost a loved one in some completely unexpected and very tragic way...people who "abide in Christ", some rather public people. Consequently, because their faith had been growing through sound biblical teaching, by the Holy Spirit they were discerning; placing their trust fully in Christ and His promises throughout their tragedy, not in the systems and pratices of the world. So what we see come out from their lives is a sovereign, holy God magnified and glorified! -rather than the predictable, resulting train-wreck of lives that the world indulges us with.
You won't normally see the following types of stories given any real exposure in the MainStreamMedia (read: tool) let alone credence, just think of the bunk we are fed and flooded with day-in-day-out.. Why? Because where God is being glorified the "world" typically
anyway..If you abide in Christ then you have been paying attention and know the difference.
"And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment," -Hebrews 9:27There were four particular stories that really struck me..graphically illustrating the sovereignty of a very real, deeply loving and living God and the truth of the scriptures...the Creator of this universe working His fore-ordained providence through the relationships of mere humans to eachother, that by our relationship to Jesus we would show the world His Glory! That is what good fruit looks like. "...and they'll know we are Christians by our love" means so much more than what most people think.
"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." -Philippians 1:21The first "story" is one I posted in my blog awhile back..it comes from two year old Bronner "Cornbread" Burgess, who accidently fell and drowned in the family pool on Jan 19, 2008. I highly recommend viewing the videos of Bronner's dad giving a "speech" at his son's memorial service, it will leave you at least breathless, at best, changed. Probably the best quote (and there were many golden ones) from this grieved father went something like this: "the devil didn't know what he was doing to be messin with this family" - why would he say that? Because people got saved listening to the Gospel that Rick Burgess spoke forth at his son's memorial..and we know that saving souls from hell is the very antithesis of what Satan is "looking for".
And then there was the tragic death in April 2008 of Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter, Maria Sue, who was accidently run over and killed by her 17 year old brother. To the credit of the MSM (mainstream media)and The Larry King Show, for what it's worth, Larry had the Chapman family on to discuss their story in it's aftermath. On his website: "Between Two Worlds" Justin Taylor put the videos up of the Chapman's appearance with Larry King. As you can imagine Larry was just, well, Larry. Despite the Larriness of the show the Chapman's God-glorifying Christ exalting testimony came through loud and clear. ..ok Larry's not so bad..he does ask good questions and has had John MacArthur on several times..gotta give the guy points just for that :)
Perhaps the most riveting "family wreck" of a story (by the worlds' standards) occured on September 26, 2008, the story of 14-year-old Emily Joy Stauffer. Her father, Terry Stauffer, a Pastor in Canada has a blog called:"New Lumps", and on the morning after his daughter's murder he posted a notice for his readers. Many, Gospel-soaked posts have followed.. The next day he told a CTV Edmonton reporter: "We are realizing from the inside the value of good, Gospel theology right now,"
Indeed....the words of Terry Stauffer should send a sharp wind of..something alerty!
I want to be clear: I am not implying that the reason to be well taught of "good, Gospel theology" is about self preservation in this life -at all! Anything given or taken from us this side of heaven is God's working in us for His will to be done: "for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."-Phl 2:13 -it is a kindness..a mercy! Each breath we take is a mercy.
The one and only thing that is at stake for each of us when it comes to understanding good, solid biblical theology is our eternal life, where we will spend that.
"as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient,[temporary] but the things that are unseen are eternal" -2Corinthians 4:18There was one more "public" story brought to my attention just this week..perhaps it was the last straw for this kind of post I'd been wanting to write for some time. The story of 27 year old Andrew Mark. Andrew passed away this past Saturday, Feb. 7th from a truly horrid ordeal with cancer, leaving behind a wife and two young children.. Andrew along with his wife, Grace, kept a blog of the experiences throughout this battle..reading the stories of this man's ordeal as it unfolds is like being in the same room.
"And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever." -1John 2:1
The stories I linked here for your delving and edification are excellent examples of what it looks like to "abide" in -to literally lean-in on Him! But they are just a few grains of sand in an ocean of the things God has done, is doing, and will do.
My heart and prayers go out to each of these families, the impact of re-visiting their stories still grips me.
Good fruit, both inward and outward, never fails to come-forth of good Gospel theology, ..outward as it is shared and spreads among people with ears to hear (Luke 8:8)...everyone has ears but not all will hear and do. (Matthew 7:24)
"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." Phl 1:6
To God will be the glory, forever and ever, amen.
Speaking of salt and light, I ran across a couple of article's a few days ago that I found to be such exceptional
One is from a place I frequent called "American Thinker", the fantastic special of the day was called: It's How You Play The Game.
It may well be that this recipe goes back a couple hundred years.
For a truly just dessert, I truthfully enjoyed the Perspective being served at an as yet unfamiliar, but tidy place called "Walking Together."
All in all, it was very good stuff!
Uhm, I think it's time to take our eyes off our own "problems" and watch this video:
Folks, America is just a tiny blip in the enormous picture that is the Kingdom of, and Gospel of, Christ. And AMEN to that.
God is SO good, and we are so spoiled, and wretched.
"My son, fear the LORD and the king; Do not associate
with those who are given to change,
For their calamity will rise suddenly,
And who knows the ruin that comes from both of them?" - Pro 24:21
Well now, it's "official".
A nation that's become practically unrecognizable from its principled, Godly beginnings gets a president fit to lead it into further God-lessness. Welcome to Liberalhood Ex Officio.
I must say this: if there is one good thing about Barack Obama being elected president of the USA, it is that a racial divide has been well crossed, perhaps even (nearly) destroyed.
Alas, if only that were enough. Nothing; -NOTHING- justifies the murder of babies, nor ungodliness in any form
Are we a nation abandoned by God? One wonders.
It is at the behest of God's very fingertip, His very Word that each one of our wicked selves is allowed another breath. It is by His sovereign grace alone He keeps this whole world and it's inhabitants from imploding into judgement.
Frankly, we DO deserve it.
..but for God's great grace:
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
/edit: Ok, I've calmed down from the election-results enough for more Christ-centered thoughts, so with that in mind..
This is our chance, Christian's, to be salt and light in an ever darkening world.
Firstly, Barack Obama was created in God's image; second; no matter what, we must always honor and respect the office of the presidency, to do otherwise goes against biblical teaching. (Rom 13) Also, as Christians we ought be praying for Barack -our President's- heart, that he be converted to Christ, (now wouldn't THAT be a "change"!) -and we need to pray for his family, and also all those who will be at his side making decisions that will affect this nation for years to come..(1Pet 13-17)..and so much more to pray for, but you get the point.
Ultimately it is God who places man into postions of leadership according to His own plans and purposes, and they have not always been "Godly" men, quite contrarily.
And really, lest we forget: It is Jesus Christ, King of Kings, Lord of Lords who is leading this world and the nations therein. It is by His stripes we were given Life; and it is to Him I pledge my allegiance.
* * *
Actually I am Praising God for Senator McCain's choice pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. It seems this has raised the integrity bar (if there be one) for the liberally left quite a few notches. Finally, people with some real fortitude show up for the candidacy of highest office in our country.
There is still plenty to learn about Sarah Palin, and her time in her offices as mayor and governor, but so far from what I have gathered and especially after her speech last night (!!) there is nothing about her not to love - she's one of us. I also like the significance of her upward pointing finger -albeit un-specified :)
And I didn't exactly know much about John McCain either, but after listening to Sen. Fred Thompson's eloquent speech, that was all I needed to hear. Evidence of integrity, the likes of which any thinking person ought want in a President, was cemented for me after hearing about Sen. McCain's extraordinary military service and most especially his POW experience. But it didn't end there, he went on to serve our country within its borders, even forsaking his own presidential election campaign to see to it that our troops would continue to be roundly supported whilst our congress was trying its best to do just the opposite, all under the impression of a proclaimed "lost war".
I guess when you're doing your job in congress there's not alot of time for touting/campaining. This is a man who has the best interests of this country and his fellow citizens at heart.
I remember awhile back early in the campaign feeling really down about our choices and about the prospect of having to 'deal' with "President Obama" and the liberal guck that would rain down on America as a result, and knowing that as Christians we would be called to respect him, or somesuch, as our President. What came to mind while thinking of all this stuff was what this country needs is another "David". Little did I expect to see one come along, let alone a type of "Deborah" in the picture as well! ;)
As far as I'm concerned this election was/is first and foremost about the babies, a no brainer for me there, and it seemed un-contestedly apparent that any pro-lifer candidate was also highly likely to have the backs of our troops and the security of this country in top priority.
Truth be told I was never really "worried" about the outcome of this election because I believe in the supreme sovereignty of God over all things, all peoples and all nations. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind about God's perfect will. I knowingly live my life under the protection of His great wing and under the Blood of His Son Jesus, the Great Almighty, Lord of all, King of Kings. So bring it on.
Yet, God is so good to us to give us this "sign" of hope..though our faith can be solid as rock it is easy to get a little 'down'. I think these two Great Americans are a sweet "sign and wonder" ;) No matter who becomes the next leader of our nation, everything is going to work out for the best according to His perfect will for those who love Him. I am so thankful, and grateful to God for this rest in Him.
There is a great read that popped up this am over at Pulpit Magazine called "Christians and Government" - it is the first part in a series that looks to be very good.
God bless you, and God bless America.
Grace & Peace~