Saturday, June 27, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
R. Larry Moyer defines a discipler as “someone who has been down the road ahead … who can give direction and encouragement as needed"”(Bib Sac 151:343). Michael Holmes underscores the need for such relationships:
One of the major challenges facing Christians nearly everywhere today is that of helping believers break free from the shackles of a secular, self-centered, and often hedonistic mindset so that they can begin to think and live on the basis of a genuinely Christian view of reality. Like Paul, we face the challenge of … helping people learn that there is an alternative to contemporary social behavior and ethics, and how to live out that alternative lifestyle consistently (1 Thessalonians, p. 18).
Monday, June 15, 2009
Don Carson, in commenting on 2 Corinthians 10:1-6, writes:
Argue a skeptic into a corner, and you will not take his mind captive for Christ; but pray for him, proclaim the gospel to him, live out the gospel of peace, walk righteously by faith until he senses your ultimate allegiance and citizenship are vastly different from his own, and you may discover that the power of truth, the convicting and regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, and the glories of Christ Jesus shatter his reasons and demolish his arguments until you take captive his mind and heart to make them obedient to Christ. The result will be a life transformed. Gone will be the principial egocentricity, the self-proclaimed independence. Replacing it will be a cheerful and devoted submission to the lordship of Christ. Only the weapons Paul advocates are sufficient to accomplish so stupendous a task. In the spiritual arena a successful campaign can be fought only when worldly weapons are self-consciously abandoned, and all our reliance is firmly set on spiritual weapons, which alone have divine power to demolish the strongholds where rebel minds cling to idolatrous, God-rejecting self-sufficiency and manufacture new forms of entrenched evil (From Triumphalism to Maturity, pp. 53-54).I also came across this at the Stand to Reason blog:
Prove to an atheist that a God that he finds hateful and ugly exists, and that atheist will still find Him hateful and defy Him. But describe and defend the beauty and goodness of that God, and perhaps the Holy Spirit will move him to love.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
James Hamilton has a great line in his Review of John Nolland’s Commentary on Matthew:
It is unfortunate that the price is as thick as the Index of Subjects and Modern Authors are thin.Sadly, that line (with a slight modification) can be applied to whole books: "The price is as thick as the entire volume is thin."
Friday, June 12, 2009
Many people have felt the disappointment of the church not being the place of fellowship and community that they desire. Larry Crabb describes his longing in the book The Safest Place on Earth:
My burden is to see spiritual communities develop, where spiritual friends and directors connect with people. I long to see communities where people feel safe enough to be broken. Where a vision of what the Spirit wants to do in people’s lives sustains them, even when they are far from it. Where wisdom from God sees what the Spirit is right now doing and what is getting in His way. Where the literal life of Christ pours out of one to energize that life in another, offering his divine touch (p. 56).Yet even as Crabb shares his burden, he offers this warning: “But we must heed Bonhoeffer’s warning not to love the idea of community, but to love our brothers and sisters.”
One of my favorite commentaries is Scott Hafemann's volume on 2 Corinthians in The NIV Application Commentary series. Here's something he writes about giving, based on 2 Corinthians 8:1-15:
The example of the Macedonians is still instructive today. In a radical role reversal of the world’s values, the abundance of their poverty, fueled by the riches of their joy in God, led to a wealth of generosity. We usually think of “fund raisers” as encouraging those who can afford to give to give more; in the Macedonian churches those who had nothing begged to give. Why? Paul’s answer is the grace of God.... Giving is not merely an expression of compassion for the needy. Nor is it simply a reflection of our own concern. Rather, the spiritual gift of giving to others is to be the reflex of our own joy in the grandeur of God’s gift to us in Christ....
By participating in the collection the Macedonians were not trying to pay their dues or make a wise financial investment. Instead, they were savoring and seeking the kingdom of God. Only the greater treasure of the kingdom of God can free us from clinging to the competing treasures of this world... Only the deeper satisfaction that comes from spending ourselves for others can defeat the sinfully natural impulse to use others for our own ends. And giving up ourselves for others can take place only when our own security needs have already been met in the Christ who spent himself for us....
We lack models of that kind of joyful, “Macedonian” giving that comes from a profound experience of God’s grace. As a result, we struggle against a nominalism that chokes out voluntary, sacrificial giving as an unsavory example of religious fanaticism. What could be more “fanatical” in our day than to live below one’s level of income for the sake of giving away as much money as possible? In today’s world, the Macedonians’ giving out of their poverty serves as a wake-up call in the midst of our self-satisfying slumber (pp. 350-351).
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Sunday, June 07, 2009
Alvin Reid issues a challenge to Fish or Cut Bait - to put up or shut up; to walk the walk and talk the talk - as far as missions support is concerned. While his focus is the Southern Baptists, his words have a wider application.
We do not have the funds to send missionaries. One might think this would be the last thing we would ever allow to have happen, economic downturn or not....
What if we took one year and asked our people to sacrifice like never before for, not for a building or an institution, but for the nations under the banner of the GREAT COMMISSION?
It is time to fish or cut bait. Enough of the “let’s not get too carried away,” “let’s be positive,” “let’s just keep doing what we are doing” talk. Enough bickering over semantics and excusing away our genuine decline. I submit this is the day of Amos and Micah. It is not a time to chill out, kick back, and remember past successes....
What if every one of us provoked by the economic effects on missionaries did just something greater than complain? What if each leader pushed for “not equal gifts, but equal sacrifice” for the nations?