Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bonus Readings

Hello, friends - I have a few fun things for you to read today.  First, in prepping for study this week, I looked at  I Corinthians 6:18-20.  It's the passage that reminds us that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  As I read these verses, something stood out to me and I found myself on a rabbit trail, trying to figure out what the first part of these verses meant.  I came across this story about St. Augustine (www.preceptaustin.org site) as told by Harry Ironside and found it amusing and encouraging!  Enjoy:

Other sins do not affect the body, but this one sin is ruinous to body and soul alike, and so, Paul says, "Flee fornication,run from anything that would tend to stir the body to unholy lust. 
In his "Confessions" St. Augustine tells how in his unconverted days he had allowed himself to become the willing victim of vile and fleshly lusts. He lived his careless life as the pagans of that day, and associated with the corrupt and wicked members of society. When he got converted, the great question upon his mind was this, "Will I ever be able to live according to the Christian standard of holiness, will I ever be able to keep myself from the vile, sensuous life in which I have lived so long?" When he first yielded himself to Christ, he took as his life-text Ro 13:1314 (note), where the apostle exhorts the believer to
"Put on (aorist imperative = Command to make a decisive choice to do this!) the Lord Jesus Christ  and make (present imperative + negative = Stop doing this!) no provision (pronoia - word study) for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts."
For long after his conversion he did not dare even to go near that part of the city where his godless companions of former days lived. But one day a matter of business called him there, and as he was walking along the street he suddenly saw one of the beautiful yet wicked companions of his folly. The moment her eyes lit upon him her face was illuminated with delight, and she came running with outstretched arms and said, "Austin! where have you been for so long? We have missed you so," and he turned and gathered up his long philosopher's gown and started to run. It was not a very dignified proceeding for a doctor, a professor of rhetoric, to run up the street with a godless girl running after him. She called to him, "Austin, Austin, why do you run? It is only I!" He looked back and exclaimed,
"I run because it is not I."

And he was off again. "The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:20-note). That is our standard, and so in all our behavior in the use of the body we are thus to glorify Him. (H A Ironside Expository Commentary)

And finally, here is the statement I read at the end of study.  Several of you asked for it: (from home.snu.edu/~hculbert/commit.htm)

I'm a part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I'm a disciple of His and I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.

My past is redeemed. My present makes sense. My future is secure. I'm done and finished with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, or first, or tops, or recognized, or praised, or rewarded. I live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by Holy Spirit power.

My face is set. My gait is fast. My goal is heaven. My road may be narrow, my way rough, my companions few, but my guide is reliable and my mission is clear.

I will not be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed.

I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice or hesitate in the presence of the adversary. I will not negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won't give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached up for the cause of Christ.

I am a disciple of Jesus. I must give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes. And when He does come for His own, He'll have no problems recognizing me. My colors will be clear!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Living with a Gospel Awareness

"…that which is known about God is evident within them…"
Romans 1:19

CSI had an ongoing storyline this fall that culminated recently in an episode where two fathers were contrasted.  One father, whose daughter was kidnapped by a serial killer, was forced to act on behalf of the killer to save his daughter.  The other father made the choice to use his own daughter as bait to catch the killer.  He willingly put his daughter's life at risk, with her permission, I might add, to put an end to this man's killing spree.

In the end, the first father (who was a police officer, as well) was sent to prison and the second father was praised, as his sacrifice paid off and the killer was caught.  Well…actually he wasn't caught but he was identified and escaped, but I'm pretty sure they'll get him…so the story goes on…

Here's my point today - the gospel is everywhere.  Show me a good superhero movie and I'll show you a world who cannot save itself but needs a Savior.  Our movies and TV shows are filled with helpless characters who need saving.  And then there's the news - the brokenness of this world is the main storyline and occasionally a hero is exalted, though much of our news still needs a Savior.  We look to government or the police to swoop down and bring justice, but too often it falls short.

I just read a news report of a man in Georgia who was at a creek with his 9 year old son and heard the cries of a 4 year old girl.  He dove in the creek to save her and hit his head on the bottom, cracking his spine and immediately paralyzing his legs and one arm.  He was still able to save the girl and now a week later, he passed away in the hospital from complications.  Terribly sad story but in it we see sacrificial love - the helpless needing a willing savior and the savior, giving his life for the helpless.

The gospel is everywhere - look for it daily and you will see it.

One of the criticisms of Christianity is that the Father gave His Son - some have said, what kind of father would do that?  I've heard God accused of "cosmic child abuse."  But when we watched that CSI episode, the father who was willing to use his child as a lure for the killer, fully knowing the risks, he was hailed as the hero, rather than the father who protected his child.  It's a crazy world we live in, right?

Friends, I truly believe that the gospel basics are sown into our hearts.  Like King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 3, God has set eternity in the hearts of men. Deep down we know there is a God, we know He has standards, we know we don't meet them and we long for a savior.  It's the plot line for much of our entertainment.  So my challenge to you is to open your eyes and look for the gospel in everyday life.  When you do this, you will be surprised where it shows up…and remember, this longing is only filled in Jesus, so when you meet broken people in the midst of a gospel crisis, point them to the perfect Savior who will never let them down, miss His cue or fail at rescuing them.