Category Archives: Remembering

The Ministry of Reminder

imagesSin has affected all the parts of our being… including our memory.  It would be nice if after hearing the gospel once, we believed it, and continued to remind ourselves of its glory with insane consistency.  But the truth is that rarely an hour goes by when we don’t need something or someone outside of ourselves to remind us of God’s truth.

This is much of what the book of Second Peter is about.  Peter does not want his audience to be enticed by certain false teachers and their immoral lifestyle, so he sets out in chapter one to remind them of what they have in Christ and what they are called to through his salvation.  In fact, in verses 12 and 13, Peter straight-up tells his people that he is reminding them of these things.  This he is doing even though they “are established in the truth that [they] have” (v. 12).  It’s not that these Christians are ignorant of the gospel and holiness or living lives contrary to the Word, but Peter understands that when it comes to the truth we hang our lives on, we don’t move on to something new, but instead, we keeping going back to the old, old story.

This ministry of reminder becomes even more crucial when we realize in verse 14 that Peter’s life is near its end: “I know that the putting off of my body will be soon.”  If there was anything new that his audience needed to know, this would be the time to tell them, but instead Peter is telling them things they already know.  And we find out in verse 15 the reason for this is so that “after [his] departure [they] may be able at any time to recall these things”.  Peter is making “every effort” (v. 15) to remind these Christians of the gospel and holiness, so that when he is dead and gone, they will be able to remind themselves.

Church, sin has affected our memory, but we can get to a place, by the grace of God, where it is easier to remember the gospel.  But that requires frequently being reminded of the gospel from outside sources.  After first making sure we are diving into God’s Word on a regular basis, another way to train your memory would be to put people like Peter in your life, people who will tenaciously remind you of what you already know, but desperately need to believe and live by.

 

 

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How to Make the Most of Being Sick

The stomach bug stealthily crept into our home this week and took down each of us one by one, so I thought this post from  last winter was worth a re-post:

It’s that time of year right now when it seems as though there is an inordinate amount of people I know who are sick – the flu, sinus infections, bronchitis, strep throat, the common cold, and what many people have termed “the junk”.  People are missing work, school and church because they can’t bring themselves to do much more than keep breathing while they shuffle back and forth from the medicine cabinet to the bed.  Being sick is miserable, not only do we feel like we’ve walked through a car wash, but there’s nothing we can do about all our responsibilities that are being piled on someone else while we’re down.  When we’re sick it’s hard to bring our minds to a place where we think about something else besides how bad we feel and how much there is to do that we can’t get to.  But sickness exists inside the sovereign plan of God and he has ordained it for his glory and our good.  So, how can we take advantage of being sick?  How can we use our sickness to be productive (at least spiritually-speaking).

1)      Recognize that you are not independent and in-control – Sickness makes us drop the reigns.  If we aren’t careful we can easily get to a place where we believe the lie of self-dependence and self-sufficiency ( i.e. – “I got this”).  Being sick is a reminder from God that we desperately need him and he is the one calling the shots.  When we’re sick it doesn’t matter how much we may want to get up and check off our to-do list; we’re in that bed until God revives us.

2)      Reflect on the agony of the cross – For most of us, being sick is not a normal occurrence, so we should not allow ourselves to miss an opportunity to let the pain we are experiencing lead our thoughts to  the torture Christ went through for us.  Remind yourself that even with as bad as you feel, it is but a speck compared to what Christ experienced when he was “crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5).  Pray that God would use these thoughts to move your heart to worship Jesus through the suffering.

3)      Look forward to the day when sickness will only be a memory – In the new heaven and new earth God will dwell with us in perfection, which means that sin and the effects of sin will be no more (Revelation 21:3-4).  If we’re not proactive, then sickness leads to spiritual near-sightedness so that we only see the pain that is permeating our situation.  In your sickness, every time you blow your nose remember that there will be no Kleenex in heaven.  Every time you choke down a dose of Robitussin, remember that there won’t be such a thing in heaven.  And every time you wish the pain would just stop, remember that such a thought will never enter your mind in heaven because God will restore perfection to all creation through his only Son.

 


What to Remember When the Alarm Clock Sounds

So sorry for the lack of posting this week.  My family and I went to visit my folks down in Houston and I made myself keep the laptop closed for a few days.  While I was down there I ran into a text in the Psalms that has refreshed my perspective on mornings… that time each day where every body part is reluctantly forced over the side of the bed to do it all over again.

Psalm 3:5 simply says, “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.”  This verse is a blessing because it reminds us that each morning we open our eyes, it was on purpose.  Yes, it is on purpose for us, we do choose to wake up, but not unless God purposes to keep us alive throughout the night.  Think of it, for each moment you are sleeping, content in your most vulnerable state, God is actively keeping you breathing.  And if he has kept you breathing through another night, then he still has plans for your life.  You are here and not in heaven each morning you awake, so the God of glory and joy is not finished with you yet.

These thoughts can help change what, for many of us, is one of the most challenging parts of the day.  When the alarm clock sounds, remind yourself that your eyes are open here on earth because God was actively working to preserve your life for another day.  Because of God’s sustaining grace to us as we sleep, we should also remember that each day belongs to him.  So, as you go to hit the snooze button again, remember that the God of the universe is calling you to embrace the privilege of living life today the way you were intended to live it… his way for his glory.


What to Remember When Facebook Becomes a Mirror

When we open up Facebook hoping to find that people have left comments or liked one of our posts, we may be setting ourselves up for danger.  Certainly, it could be that you are simply excited about interacting with your friends and family… there’s nothing wrong with that.  But it could also be for you (as it is for me at times) that there is a lot more hinging on whether or not people have appreciated what you have posted.  It could be that your very happiness in that moment depends on people “liking” you.

Our hearts often move that way when left unchecked, don’t they?  When no one (or a precious few) have acknowledged our activity on Facebook, we take it personally and interpret it as a lack of love on the part of our friends or a deficiency in our ability to communicate.  We make ourselves the center of our social networking and as a result, when we’re in this state of mind, we never know if there’s going to be happiness or self-pity on the other side of opening our Facebook wall.  If people liked or commented, we’re  happy, if they didn’t, then some of the wind is sucked out of our sails.  When your joy is dependent on your ability to communicate, then your joy will be empty and short-lived.  This is just a small example of what happens when Facebook is about you and not about God.

If this sounds familiar, here’s a suggestion for how to battle this tendency.  The next time you’re about to open up Facebook and you sense that your heart is going there to look for happiness, instead, open up your Bible to a text that reminds you of what you have in Christ.  Go to a text like Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”  This verse shifts our attention from self to Christ because Paul is telling us that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing, but those blessings do not hinge on our performance, rather, they hinge on Christ, and Christ did not fail to do everything necessary for us to have those blessings.  The great thing about meditating on texts like these is that you never have to worry about them changing.  People’s recognition and praise of you on Facebook ebbs and flows, but God’s perfect love for you in Christ is always full and perfect.


What to Remember When Your Kids are Driving You Nuts

My wife and I agree, this summer has been our busiest summer to date.  Vacations, discipleship studies, counseling appointments, preaching, potty training, sickness, and getting ready for our first year of home-schooling have packed out the calendar and made it difficult to muster a sane thought at times.  As a result, lately, there has been an increase in temptation for the both of us, as parents, to be angry at our children.  You probably know how it goes.  You’re busier, so there’s more pressure to get more done in a less amount of time, so the little things your kids do seem to grate on you more than usual.

This reality has led Keri and I to discuss the things we need to remember in those times when our kids’ antics seem like an all-out assault on our contentment.  There are many things I could say here, but two points have been particularly helpful:

    1. Sometimes it’s not out-right rebellion, sometimes it’s just kids being kids – When we’re in the middle of a project and we hear a cacophony of laughing, shouting, and feet rapidly hitting the wood floor, it does not necessarily mean that your kids are executing a well-crafted plot to push you over the edge.  Kids are kids and kids play, but we often take their “kid-ness” and make it a personal attack on our authority.  It’s not always that way.  Parents, let’s remember what it was like to be kids and allow our children to have fun.  We must put limits on them, but we should not expect them to act like adults.
    2. You’re most-likely dealing with unregenerate unbelievers – Especially if you’re dealing with young children, like mine who are 5, 3, and 1, you have to operate under the reality that they have not yet been converted.  I understand that you may have children who have professed faith, but many of our children, if not all, do not have the God-given resources believers possess that help them pursue holy lives.  Therefore, parents, we should not expect our children to act like people who have trusted in Christ for salvation.  As Christians, we are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), which means we have new desires and new abilities that correspond to the commandments God has given us in Scripture.  We also have the Holy Spirit living in us, making us more like Jesus.  If your kids are unbelievers, we should not expect them to act as if they have these benefits as well.  Knowing this should lead us to be patient and compassionate towards our kids, instead of angry and vindictive.

 

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3 Reasons We Still Need the Gospel After Salvation

Today’s post is by Ben Whiting – a fiction writer, a devoted husband and father, a faithful member of our church, and a dear friend.

The gospel is not an appetizer. It doesn’t start the meal, whet your appetite for the main course, and then get out of the way. The gospel is the main course, and by eating it we are satisfied, energized, and matured. Here are three benefits of meditating on and diving deeper into the gospel.

The Gospel Inspires Worship:

Picture an evening news program. The weatherman says a storm is coming–the most powerfully decimating storm in history. That storm is God’s wrath toward sinners–every one of us. But, one of the news anchors interrupts, there is good news: a bomb shelter downtown that will stand against the storm. There is room for the whole town. Unfortunately, you are paralyzed from the neck down and cannot even change the channel to ignore this discussion of the epic storm. But the man who built the shelter knows your name, and he fights through the swirling debris as the storm begins to hit, and he comes to your house, pulls you out, and carries you to the shelter. He leaves you in safety and goes out for another helpless soul. And another. And another. Until he himself is killed by the storm.

This story is our story, and it is magnificent and glorious because our God is magnificent and glorious. Dwelling on the gospel should enflame our hearts in worship.

The Gospel Cultivates Humility :

Didn’t the story above empower you? Didn’t it make you feel capable?

We were helpless, and–as Paul reminds us in Galatians 3–we need God’s grace just as much to be made complete as we did to be rescued. Not only that, we were wretches. We deserved to die in the storm.

The gospel reminds us that we were and are helpless and ill-deserving. The gospel brings us low, robs us of a high view of ourselves, and turns our eyes to God for help.

The Gospel Tears Down Idols :

The gospel is the power of God, not just to deliver us from damnation but to progressively release the hold that sin still has on us. The base desires that lie at the heart of our sinfulness are uprooted by truths of the gospel.

The man who worships acceptance because his father never had anything but criticism for him? That man finds God’s acceptance in the gospel and can worship God instead.

The teen who accepts abuse from others and administers it to herself? That young woman finds God’s complete forgiveness in the gospel–all of the abuse she deserved, already taken by Christ.

The woman who worships intimacy and chases after it in sex or friendship or even marriage? That woman finds God’s romance in the gospel–a king who desired her when she was undesirable, cleaned her and made her his bride.

Keep preaching the gospel to yourself. Plumb its depths. Let it heal your heart, one corner at a time. What other benefits do you find in gospel meditation? What other wounds does it address? I’d love to hear your comments.


The Magazine Rack at Walmart and Your Response

Last night a friend and I had a helpful conversation about responding to temptation.  Part of the discussion focused on the specifics of what we should think and believe in those instances when we are confronted with lustful images on the magazine rack while waiting in line at Walmart.  Two truths came out of that discussion that I think are particularly important:

  • We must remember that the lustful image is telling us a lie.  With exposed skin, seductive eyes, and airbrushing the image is saying, “I am what is most desirable”, and because we have sinful hearts we are tempted to believe the lie and turn an accidental glance into an all-out gaze.  In this moment of temptation, in your mind and heart, the lie needs to be confronted with the truth: “In your (God’s) presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever more” (Psalm 16:11).
  • We must remember that the image we are tempted to stare at is a real person who may very well be going to hell.  The person on the cover of that magazine is, most-likely, caught up in a lifestyle of lust, money, and self-glory that will lead her to experience God’s just anger, unless by God’s grace she repents and trusts in Jesus.  This thought will help us to cut through the surface of make-up and wardrobe to the spiritual reality of that person’s spiritual state and the need she has for rescue.  Hopefully, this thought will lead you to pray for her instead of fantasize about her.

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