recent pages

the recent pages of this year have done a work in me. To live a better story, be a willing/intentional instrument of change, to remember eternal perspective, of what a maturing Christian looks like, remember my need for grace and the gospel everyday,  and truth...

"A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by Donald Miller

As Donald Miller was approached about making his book "Blue Like Jazz" into a film, he learned and processed what makes a good story to be made into film and seeing that played into his reality; he saw he was not living a very good story and desired to live out a better story. 
Knowing the elements that made a story meaningful [are] the same that [make] a life meaningful.

This was such a great refreshing look on the stories we are living. Reminding me to process what truly makes a life a good story and am I living that? Am I giving of myself?
If I have a hope, it's that God sat over the dark nothing and wrote you and me, specifically, into the story and put us in with the sunset and the rainstorm as though to say, 'Enjoy your place in my story. The beauty of it means you matter and you can create within it even as I have created you. 
We were designed to live through something rather than to attain something and the thing we were meant to live through was designed to change us. 
People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain.   
The stuff I spent money on indicated the stories I was living...stuff I spent money on was, in many ways, the sum of my ambitions...the ambitions we have will become the stories we live.  
Misery, though seeming ridiculous, indicates life itself has the potential of meaning, therefore pain itself must also have meaning. 
A good storyteller doesn't just tell a better story, he invites other people into the story with him, giving them a better story. 
What do I want to be known for? Christ's love and grace. Refreshment. Life giving. Eternal perspective. Approachable. Giving.  Joy. Intentional.  Others minded. Authentic. Teachable. Trustworthy. 
I was a tree in a story about a forest and it's arrogant of me to believe anything differently...the story of the forest is greater than the story of the tree. 

"Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands" by Paul David Tripp

We are all people in need of change. We are all in process. In that process we get to join, encourage, push, and walk alongside those also in process. 
Suffering belongs to the Lord. It is an instrument of his purpose in us and for others. The way we suffer must put Christ on center stage. The Redeemer own our disappoint, fear, rejection, aloneness, etc. It all belongs to Him for His purpose. 

The purpose of our sanctification, making us more like Christ and the purpose to draw people out of darkness to point them to Christ, the hope of glory!

There's purposeful suffering to experience God's comfort with the ability to comfort others to offer a community of hope.  
2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Love - Know - Speak - Do

Enter the person's world
Incarnate the love of Christ
Identify with Suffering
Accept with Agenda - God's grace is always grace leading to change. 

Knowing a person Biblically
The Situation - What is going on?
The Responses - What the person does in response to what is going on?
The Thoughts - What does this person think about what is going on?
The Motives - What does the person want out of, or in the midst of what's going on? 

Rebuke is the word the Bible uses for bringing truth to where change is needed. 
We all need loving, honest rebuke because of:
the deceitfulness of sin
wrong and unbiblical thinking
emotional thinking
view of life tends to be shaped by personal experience

In the confrontation process, first filter through whose agenda drives your confrontation.
Confrontation process:
Consideration - what does this person need to see that they do not see? 
Confession - if people have looked at themselves in the mirror of scripture, they should have identified sins of heart and behavior that need to be confessed.
Commitment - the first step of the "put on" phase
Change - focuses on the how. How should these new commitments be applied to daily living?

We do want people to see, know, and understand, but we also want them to apply that insight to their daily life...Here we teach people to be dissatisfied with the gap between their confessional and functional theology. 

"Heaven" by Randy Alcorn

Understanding Heaven doesn't just tell us what to do, but why. What God tells us about our future lives enables us to interpret our past and serve him in our present. 
We are pilgrims in this life, not because our home will never be on Earth, but because our eternal home is not currently on Earth. It was and it will be, but it's not now.  

Perspective is life changing. It changes the way you look at life, at everyday, at the people you are surrounded by,  at the situations and circumstances of life you have no control over, at the unfulfilled longings of our hearts. Eternal perspective is something I so desire to always walk in and regularly talk about and want to encourage others in. 

I had put off reading, tackling, this book for awhile because it was intimidating in my mind. How can I grasp heaven and eternity from a book. This book did wonders as God has been growing in me the last several years a greater eternal perspective and greater longing for what I was made for. I'm not going to spend the amount of time here on this book as I really would like because there is sooooo much I want to chew on and share and process here with you but I think i'll write later a post just about eternal perspective and will probably use this book a lot there. 
God is the source of all joy - all other joys are secondary and derivative...God designed us to need each other. What we gain from each other is more of God because we're created in His image and are a conduit for his self-revelation. 
Desire is a signpost pointing to Heaven...Every longing for romance is a longing for the ultimate romance with Christ. Every desire for intimacy is a desire for Christ. Every thirst for beauty is a thirst for Christ. Every taste of joy is but a foretaste of a greater and more vibrant joy than can be found on Earth as it is now.  Our desires simply correspond to God's intentions, because he implanted his intentions into us in the form of our desires. 
I know our instincts tell us that this fallen world isn't our home - we were made for someplace better.
Not only will death separate us from Christ -  it will actually usher us into his presence. Then, at the final resurrection, Christ will demonstrate his omnipotence by turning death on its head, making forever alive what appeared forever buried...If you believe this, you won't cling desperately to this life. You'll stretch out your arms in anticipation of the greater life to come. 
In order to get a picture of Heaven - which will one day be centered on the New Earth - you don't need to look up at the clouds; you simply need to look around you and imagine what all this would be like without sin and death and suffering and corruption.  
Following Christ is not a call to abstain from gratification but to delay gratification. It's finding our joy in Christ rather than seeking joy in the things of this world. Heaven - our assurance of eternal gratification and fulfillment - should be our North Star, reminding us where we are and which direction to go. 

"Spiritual Maturity" by J. Oswald Sanders

This is the part of great series, Spiritual Leadership, Spiritual Discipleship, and the third Spiritual Maturity. I have re-read the others and hope to always come back to these rich books on Leadership, Discipleship, and Maturity. A reflection from scripture for practical principles of spiritual growth for ever believer. 

A look at the each person of the Trinity; at their character and what practical applications and implications this should look like for maturing believers. The overruling providence, prostrating vision, undiscouraged perseverance, discriminating disciples, perfected strength, moral antipathy, and satisfying compensations of God. Christ's supreme vision, transcendent worthiness, unfinished work, ideal of character, and His terms of discipleship. The Spirit-Breath of God, the transforming power, purging fire, mighty dynamic, missionary passion, giftings, and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. 

Awed to repentance by the infinite holiness of the Father. Challenged to surrender by the triumphant humility of the Son. Energized to service by the transforming power of the Spirit. 

"The Great Exchange" by Jerry Bridges & Bob Bevington
My Sin for His Righteousness

What an undeserving, beautiful exchange it is, and offered to all! This is an exposition of the atonement of Jesus Christ patterned after the apostles doctrine of the atonement. 
He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
This book took me awhile and I'm glad I slowly went through this one. I'm a doer. The tendency of my flesh is to want to earn my way, to "do" the right things that give me value. I need the gospel daily. 

This book works through our total depravity and need for Christ's atoning work on the cross, reconciling us to the Father. He died in our place as our substitute and representative. 

After walking through what sin is, pointing to our need for Christ, the foreshadowing of Christ in the Old Testament through sacrifices and prophecies, then a walk through most of the New Testament starting with Acts and working through most of the epistles showing the position and focus in each book of His righteousness, for my sin, what an exchange. 
What is sin?...missing the mark...failure to live up to the righteous standard's of God's holy law...a rebellion against authority...sin is a rebellion against God's sovereign authority, a despising of his Word and his person, and even a defiance of God himself.  
All our efforts toward spiritual growth should flow out of the realization of what he has already done to secure for us our perfect standing before God. 
We fail to see that our anxiety, our discontentment, our ingratitude towards God, our pride and selfishness, our gossip, our unkind words to or about others, our preoccupations with the things of this life, and a whole host of other subtle sins are an expression of rebellion against God and a despising of his Word and person...the truth is that even most mature believers continue to sin in thought, word, deed, and especially in motives. 
The term reconciliation refers to a state where two alienated parties are reunited by the satisfactory removal of the cause of estrangement or offense.  

Salvation rescues us, pulls us out. Redemption is to buy us out from something and into something. Propitiation is the satisfactory price that has to be paid. Justification is to be declared right with God, free, giving us the Righteousness of Christ.  Justification depends on redemption. Redemption depends on propitiation. All an outpouring of His grace, given to us personally by faith through the work of Christ on the cross. 

By the work of Christ on the cross, we are offered salvation, rescuing us from the power of sin over us, redeeming us from sin and into new life because Christ blood is a propitiation, a satisfactory payment, our ransom to redeem us, so we could be declared right, be justified, have right standing with God, called righteous, to be sanctification, on going process of making us more like Christ during our days here until glory. 

1. This righteousness is actually an accomplished fact.
2. The twofold nature of the Redeemer as God-man was necessary in order to accomplish the transfer of the righteousness of God to sinners.
3. Though operating through aspects - his life and his death - the righteousness of God transferred by the God-man is one, indivisible, finished work of one Christ.
4. The standard of this righteousness is the law of God and divine justice.
5. The righteousness of God is substitutionary righteousness, lived out by Christ in our place and for our benefit; the death of Christ is a substitutionary death. 
6. Sinners are born spiritually dead and remain dead and incapable of any aspect of sanctification until faith unites them to Christ. 
Our eternal life is in Christ. It is from Christ as the source, through him as the means, and to him as the ultimate destination. 
Our deliverance from the law of sin and death is a unilateral act of God. This deliverance is not due to something we have done; it is due to something God has done. God is the originator and source of the atonement. He sent his son. It was his act. It emanated from him like water from a fountain.
Ransom is the purchase price, and redemption is the purchase process
1. The buyer is the God-man, Christ crucified. 
2.  The price - the ransom for our deliverance from captivity to sin's curse and dominion - is too high. We cannot pay it ourselves. 
3. The receiver of the ransom is God. 

The fact that we are ransomed means that our old ways will necessarily change. We become the property of the one who redeemed us. We have a new master - Christ. We can never be the same once our lives are touched by his precious redeeming blood...Christ offers us redemption from all these dead-end rabbit trails, false treasures, and broken cisterns that will never satisfy.

"Total Truth" by Nancy Pearcey

After all the truth and studying and refuting and supporting a biblical worldview, I love how she ends the entire book with the last section "What Next? Living It Out."  In all that you can study, know, defend, debate, at the end of the day, if your life does not match the gospel you preach, you loose all credibility and effectiveness in bringing people into the Kingdom. 

"We may do a great job of arguing that Christianity is total truth, but others will not find our message persuasive unless we give a visible demonstration of that truth in action." p. 354

"A verbal presentation of a Christian worldview message loses its power if it is not validated by the quality of our lives." p. 355

"How do we know whether we are producing life or death? By whether our lives exhibit the beauty of God's character. When people see the way you live, are they drawn closer to God or are they alienated from God? When they observe the way you treat others, do they find the gospel more credible or less credible?" p. 361

"Having a Christian worldview means being utterly convinced that biblical principles are not only true but also work better in the grit and grime of the real world." p. 370

"The church is meant to be the "plausibility structure" for the gospel. When people see a supernatural dimension of love, power, and goodness in the way Christians live and treat one another, then our message of biblical truth becomes plausible." p. 355
"The church is called to be a witness to the gospel through an authentic demonstration of love and unity." p. 378