As David Powlison says in his Forward to Tedd Tripp’s, Shepherding Your Child’s Heart, “most books on parenting give you advice either on how to shape and constrain your children’s behavior or on how to make them feel good about themselves.” Of course, neither of those objectives is completely wrongheaded… they just shouldn’t be a parent’s primary objective. Tripp puts well what should be our primary objective with these words...
God is concerned with the heart – the well-spring of life (Proverbs 4:23). Parents tend to focus on the externals of behavior rather than the internal overflow of the heart. We tend to worry more about the “what” of behavior than the “why”. Accordingly, most of us spend an enormous amount of energy in controlling and constraining behavior.
When we miss the heart, we miss the subtle idols of the heart.
When we miss the heart, we miss the gospel. If the goal of parenting is no more profound than securing appropriate behavior, we will never help our children understand the internal things, the heart issues, that push and pull behavior. Those internal issues: self-love, rebellion, anger, bitterness, envy, and pride of the heart show our children how profoundly they need grace. If the problem with children is deeper than inappropriate behavior, if the problem is the overflow of the heart, then the need for grace is established. Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life and died as an infinite sacrifice so that children (and their parents) can be forgiven, transformed, liberated and empowered to love God and love others.
from Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
Featuring Michael Ramsden
Fantastic message on evangelism/apologetics based on 1 Peter 3:15-16. It was very encouraging and provides great insights in helping Christians more clearly communicate God's truth and good news to those in our personal mission fields. Definitely worth your time.
Read Psalm 2 and Romans 1:18-21.
The nations are depicted here as raging against God's rule. Such rebellion still exists in our day as well. Certainly on the individual and personal level, the constitutional nature of each person has not changed since Psalm 2 was written. People are still, in their fallen condition, at enmity with and rebellion against God and his rule in their lives. This human condition presents itself in many, many different ways... perhaps as may different ways as there are people. But it all stems from their sinful, fallen, and broken condition.
It shows up corporately as well. Such "raging" against God's rule and reign is revealed in groups, systems, and even the culture at large, much of which appears to be desiring and pursuing the opposite of what God desires and has commanded.
Wag the Dog
Yet none of this is in ignorance. The nations (and individuals) know what they are doing. This is where Romans 1:18-21 comes in. God has made himself plain (evident) to all so that no one has an excuse. Yet people in their fallen human condition suppress the truth they know about God in unrighteousness.
They neither glorify nor thank God, but instead, their thinking becomes futile and their foolish hearts are darkened. They do not want a belief system that stifles their desires and pursuits. They don't want a worldview and faith that leads to repentance and new life. Thus, their desires and lifestyles wag the dog. They adjust their worldview to fit their desires and how they want to live their lives.
Salt and Light
As a follower of Jesus Christ I am called to be his ambassador, his witness, to precisely these individuals, these systems, this culture. Christ tells me I am salt and light for this very dark and decaying world, for these are people who have been created in the image of God. Ours is a message of reconciliation and reclamation. It's the good news that even in our rebellion against the King of the universe, he makes a way to re-create that image through our redemption in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Our task is to learn how to faithfully bear witness to those in our spheres of influence. Instead of a cookie-cutter approach to evangelism, we need to really listen to, learn about, and get to know our neighbors to discover how their sin, rebellion, and brokenness presents itself. We know what their ultimate need is. We know what (Who) the ultimate answer to their need is. Yet, we want to be able to communicate that good news to them in a way they will understand. We want to win people and not just arguments, without compromising the truth of the Gospel.
We Do vs Christ Did
Have you ever noticed how often we focus upon ourselves - our performance - when it comes to our faith? Much of the time, it seems, we spend far too much effort concentrating on ourselves instead of the beauty and magnificence of God. Or, we're constantly concerned about what we do rather than what Christ did.
Many of us do this. And it's not because we're obsessed with bad things. We want to know how to be more faithful disciples. We want to grow in our faith. We want to be joyful, content, etc. But that's part of the problem: we, we, we, we.
Without meaning to, and with no malicious intent, our faith can become all about us - our needs and our wants. But this inward focus, instead of helping us become more faithful Christians, can often work against us. How?
Well, interestingly, one of the ways a Christian can lapse into spiritual depression is by being so inward focused that the weight of our spiritual short-comings and unworthiness can begin to crush us. As we compare ourselves to where God has called us to be or where other Christians are, we can move quickly into despair because, in our self-assessment, we keep coming up short.
That's why some of the best counsel I ever received when I was at such a place a number of years ago was this: Take the focus off of myself and spend some considerable time dwelling on our incomparable Christ. Because when it comes down to it, it's not about me, it's about him. It's not about my performance... what I can do, but what he has done.
It's only when I begin to really believe and embrace that truth that I get back to following Christ in a positive way.
What I discovered is that attempting to draw strength from myself is a fount that will eventually dry up. But going to the One who is Living Water is where we find a never-ending source of strength, grace, and love.
Our Incomparable Christ
The other risk of such intense self-focus is that when we concentrate so much on ourselves, our work, our story, our faith, and so on, we give the distinct impression to the rest of the world that Christianity is about us and not about Christ.
Therefore, in the next few posts I want to explore the riches of our incomparable Christ found in Hebrews 1:1-4. I hope by spending time focusing on his greatness and majesty, we might be encouraged and reminded why Jesus, and not ourselves, is much more worthy of our continual gaze.
In their study guide, "Being God's Man in the Face of Temptation," Steven Arterburn, Kenny Luck, and Todd Wendorff introduce the topic of men's temptations by listing a sort of "Top Ten" (in this case, it's only eight) temptations men face. They say a man is tempted to...
These are the areas they unpack throughout the rest of the study. I thought it might be helpful and good for me to revisit this study (which I did ten years ago) and see how my answers I wrote then match my thinking today. And, in the process, I hope to be able share some wisdom with you as well as receive some wisdom from you on these issues.
Five key ideas this study helps to provide us are...
You can order your own copy of the study guide here. I encourage you to do so as I found it to be a great blessing in helping me grow in godliness.
Featuring R.C. Sproul
Produced by Ligonier Ministries
John 3:1-15 (ESV)
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
Featuring Ken Boa
Check out more at KenBoa.org
from J. Oswald Sanders...
True greatness, true leadership, is found in giving yourself in service to others, not in coaxing or inducing others to serve you. True service is never without cost. …But the true spiritual leader is focused on the service he or she can render to God and other people, not on the residuals and perks of high office or holy title. We must aim to put more into life than we take out.
The genuine disciple of Christ earnestly desires a closer walk with God and a greater conformity to Christ. If these are absent, there is reason to doubt the genuineness of the discipleship.
…the goal of the Christian life is to attain in ever-increasing degree the standard of spiritual maturity which was seen in perfection in Christ.
A great piece by T.M. Moore on a multifaceted understanding of the biblical vision of justice.
from The Fellowship of Ailbe
Biblical justice has five harmonious facets, and they're all good.
The Law is Good (4)
“You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the LORD your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment. You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the LORD your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 16.18-20
God’s harmony on earth
The harmony of God, which is an aspect of His goodness, consists in the effective, cooperative, and fruitful working together of the three Persons of the Trinity, each according to His unique office, and all together in a spiritual symphony of unity, order, creativity, holiness, and love. There is no discord or dissonance in the divine Godhead, only a perfect and harmonious song of love.
The Law of God encodes the harmony of God like a musical score encodes the mind of its composer. As a musical composition plays out, we delight in the many and varied harmonies combining and blending musical lines, instruments, rhythms, and motifs into one transcendent experience of goodness.
When the harmony of the Godhead plays out through the Law of God, it takes the form of justice. All the Law of God is just (“righteous,” Rom. 7.12), and it provides justice for all members of a community and all aspects of that community’s life. Justice is the harmonious good will of God coming to expression in relationships, roles, and responsibilities. A society is just when harmony exists as God intends, and the community in which justice flourishes abounds in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Lord.
No wonder justice has such a high priority in the mind of God. The harmony of justice encoded in God’s Law can be seen in the five facets of justice outlined in the Law.
Click here to read the article.
Featuring Ken Boa
Check out more at KenBoa.org
Helping you extend
The Fellowship of Ailbe
Institute for Faith, Work, & Economics
Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
C.S. Lewis Institute
The Gospel Coalition
The Institute on Religion and Democracy
Every Square Inch Ministries
Gene Edward Veith
Center for Cultural Leadership
Church and Culture