As a Penn State Alumni, the past year has brought about many emotions and thoughts. Both Joe and I have restrained from commenting publicly on everything that has transpired. But Joe has now broken the silence in what I have found to be the most helpful writing on the Penn State scandal:
The reality is, we need community in order to follow Christ radically. I am convinced that one reason many of us have not taken radical steps in our giving, for example, may not be so much because we love our possessions as it is because we fear isolation. If the radical, simple living we see Jesus talking about were more common in the church, it would be much easier for us to live simply as well. But we look around, and everyone else has nice cars, nice homes, and lifestyles characterized by luxuries, so we accept that this must be the norm for Christians. We may get convicted about our way of living when we look at the Bible, but then when we look at one another, we assume it must be okay because everyone else lives this way.
Platt, David (2010-04-17). Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream (pp. 205-206). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
I have never met a person I could despair of, or lose all hope for, after discerning what lies in me apart from the grace of God.
- Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest, June 17 devotional
Yesterday this was the inspirational quote on the wall on the gym that I go to:
“Don’t quit now. You’re already in pain. You’re already hurt. Don’t miss out on the rewards.”
I found that to be close to one of our favorite verses to quote to encourage one another to persevere:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
May you persevere today for the reward of becoming more like Jesus.
To everyone wanting a safe, untroubled, comfortable life free from danger, stay away from Jesus. The danger in our lives will always increase in proportion to the depth of our relationship with Christ. Maybe this is why we sit back and settle for a casual relationship with Christ and routine religion in the church. It is safe there, and the world likes us there. The world likes us when we are pursuing everything they are pursuing, even if we do put a Christian label on it. As long as Christianity looks like the American dream, we will have few problems in this world. But if we identify with Christ, we will lose much in this world. Jesus said this himself: “Everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.”9 These words should frighten us. They should frighten us because our Teacher was mocked, beaten, scourged,spit upon, and nailed to a cross. Do we really want to be like him?
Platt, David (2010-04-17). Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream (pp. 167-168). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
The price of discipline is always less than the pain of regret. ~ Nido Qubein
This was the quote I read yesterday on the wall of the gym I go to. Definitely an inspiring word for not only a workout, but life in general. But after my workout as I was mulling it over in my mind, I realized that for most human beings, it doesn’t go far ENOUGH. We don’t want to just avoid pain, we want joy as well.
That is why the teachings of John Piper, specifically his term “Christian Hedonism” (the idea that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him) has been so powerful in my life. It is not an idea he made up, but something he found over and and over again that Jesus calls us to in the Bible. For example, in Matthew 16:25 Jesus says:
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Often, as Christians we focus on the “giving up” part. And don’t misunderstand me, there is a huge counting of the cost in Christianity. But it is not without reward. Jesus is always pointing us to the rewards along with the rules/limits/costs. He understood that as human beings we are driven by delight and not merely duty.
So today I would encourage you to look at an area of life that may be a struggle, think about what promises/rewards/blessings/benefits the Bible promises when you are obedient in those areas, memorize a pertaining Scripture and pray God would do a work of grace in you to trust in Him in that area of your life.
Have a great Tuesday!
I wanted to recommend the God’s Design for Sex series as really helpful tools to have around the house. We have chosen not to go with “the talk” when it comes to sex but to try and honestly answer the kids questions as they come up. For the most part, up until the past year, Abby’s questions had been pretty simple and she didn’t dig any further. But once she did, I explained sex pretty simply to her. To have the first two books around was a great way for us to continue to share and help answer additional questions she may have. Elijah has listened in and understood. And Naomi has also listened, but didn’t seem to be too interested in the topic. As I said, right now we own the first two books, but in the next few months, we will purchase the third as something for Abby to read with either Joe or me. If you have any other suggestions on good books for children that deal with sex from a God-centered perspective, please leave your ideas in the comments section.
I wanted to formally recommend Tim Keller’s book on marriage called The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God. I have quoted from it a few times here on the blog, but wanted to give it my full endorsement as well. If you have read my blog for any amount of time, you know I am a huge fan of Keller’s books and sermons, and this book on marriage is ranked right up there with my favorites. Here is a quote that hit home for me not only why this book was so good, but why marriage is so awesome:
Have you ever traveled to a mountainous part of the world when it was cloudy and rainy? You look out your windows and you can see almost nothing but the ground. Then the rain stops and the clouds part and you catch your breath because there, towering right over you, is this magnificent peak. But a couple of hours later the clouds roll in and it has vanished, and you don’t see it again for a good while. That is what it is like to get to know a Christian. You have an old self and a new self (Ephesians 4:24). The old self is crippled with anxieties, the need to prove yourself, bad habits you can’t break, and many besetting sins and entrenched character flaws. The new self is still you, but liberated from all your sins and flaws. This new self is always a work in progress, and sometimes the clouds of the old self make it almost completely invisible. But sometimes the clouds really part, and you see the wisdom, courage, and love of which you are capable. It is a glimpse of where you are going.
Within this Christian vision for marriage, here’s what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of the person God is creating, and to say, “I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to his throne. And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, ‘I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!’” Each spouse should see the great things that Jesus is doing int he life of their mate through the Word, the gospel. Each spouse then should give him- or herself to be a vehicle for that work and envision the day that you will stand together before God, seeing each other presented in spotless beauty and glory.
I got chills reading that quote. It is the amazing reality of marriage that says, “I see you for all of your sins and faults, more than anyone else in the whole world, yet I love you deeply and truly, more than anyone else in the whole world.” And of course, as two sinful human beings, we do not do that perfectly, but that longing to do so points us to the love God has for us in Jesus. God knows our inward sinfulness better than anyone, yet He sacrificed Himself in the greatest way to show how much He loves us and still wants us to be His own. I know of nothing else on earth that can stir me to such great emotion and desire to live in a deep and profound way.
So I highly recommend this book. The link above will take you to Amazon where you can get it (only comes in hardcover or Kindle right now) for $15-$13. It is totally worth the purchase!
When we are “in love” with someone we often appear to attend to our beloved when in fact we are doing the very opposite. Instead of being attentive we are acquisitive. We use the other for our own glorification, we bask in the presence of our beloved because we enjoy the image of ourselves that is reflected back….This is the opposite of Christian love. The opposite is all about me. Even idolizing my beloved- Certainly a danger for the newly infatuated- is all about me, though it pretends to be all about the other, it is all about me because it does not take my beloved seriously as a person created and redeemed by God but rather imagines him to be perfect, heroic, sublime, and customized to meet my needs
Lauren Winner in “The Countercultural Path” p.38 as quoted in Timothy Keller’s “The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God” p.213-214