Monday Musings & Miscellany…on Tuesday

Me, Hubert, Ivan and Nieves at the Lincoln Memorial

I have the great privilege this week of spending it in our nation’s capital with three of my favorite people; Ivan Ibbotson, senior past of The Chapel Salzburg, Austria, Hubert Krifter, one of Ivan’s elders, and my nephew Jose Nieves Vargas, who is the pastor of a new church plant in San Juanito, Chihuahua, Mexico.

We are here for a 9Marks Weekender Conference at Capital Hill Baptist Church. As you think about it, please pray for us as we seek the Lord and his heart for his church, purchased with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Pray for good and rested minds and bodies as the schedule for the week will be very packed.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“The best advice I can send, or the best wish I can form for you, is, that you may have an abiding and experimental sense of those words of the apostle, which are just now upon my mind, ‘Looking UNTO Jesus.’ (Heb. 12:2) The duty, the privilege, the safety, the unspeakable happiness, of a believer, are all comprised in that one sentence.” John Newton, Jewels from John Newton, August 21st

When I was younger, my father would give me advice and like so many young people, I foolishly didn’t listen. The hardest part of giving advice to people you love and care for is when they ignore it, especially when you know how sound the advice is. I wholeheartedly concur that “Looking unto Jesus,” is the absolute best advice we could every give anyone. It is an expression of the Gospel in it’s simplest form. When we quit looking to ourselves and begin to look unto Jesus, everything simply makes sense.

VERSE FOR THE WEEK

1 Corinthians 15:10 (ESV) — But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

How easy it can be to question why it is that God made you the way that he did. I find that I can do this far too often. Oh, I don’t outwardly shake my fist at God like a frustrated child who doesn’t get his way. But, I can subtly begin to think of the “what ifs” in my life, what if I could do this or that, what if I was smarter, more creative, and the list goes on.

We can take comfort from this verse. It is by God’s grace that we are who we are. And like the admonition from Romans 9:20 we must never presume to think beyond the piece of clay we are and suggest God should have formed something different, let alone demand it. Rather, we should take the time to be thankful, and reflect on what God has made us to be and then seek to live out lives for his glory and the good of others. For it is in this that we will find the greatest satisfaction.

IN AWE OF HER GOD

“As a quadriplegic, I wake up in the morning and it’s hard. It is so hard having somebody else come into your bedroom [to brush your teeth and your hair]. It’s overwhelming at times. During those times, I say, ‘Lord God, I cannot do this, but I can do all things through you as you strengthen me.”

It has been fifty years since the diving accident that left Joni Eareckson Tada with quadriplegia. Fifty years of relying on others to meet her physical needs. Fifty years of pressing on in the midst of weakness, fatigue, and pain. Fifty years of trusting God to provide.

Tada exemplifies an enviable trust in the sovereignty of God who works all things for good, even when his working makes absolutely no sense to the human psyche. It is one thing to trust the Lord with the loss of a job, with a reasonable assurance that there is another one on the horizon, but how about 50 years of absolute dependency on others for practically everything we take for granted. An inspiring article to read.

HOW CAN YOUR CHURCH LOVE TRANSGENDER PEOPLE

If you don’t know much about gender-identity issues and don’t know what it’s like to struggle with them, learn to listen. If someone says, “You don’t understand,” rather than telling them they’re wrong, answer, “Very possibly not. Please tell me.”

Like it or not, agree with it or not, wish it would go away or not, the cultural shift towards a person being able to decide what gender they are going to be is here to stay and most likely not going to go away until the Lord returns. So, with that said, as Bible believing born again Christians, what should our response be?

It seems that we are always swinging from one side of the pendulum to the other often times with good intentions to extend the grace of God and the love of God to the sinner in the hopes of leading them to the gospel truth. Unfortunately, all too often, we tend to keep loving and loving and loving, and never see a change. Why is that? Because we never get to the truth.

This article is a great start in understanding how to gracefully love without compromise.

NASHVILLE STATEMENT

This secular spirit of our age presents a great challenge to the Christian church. Will the church of the Lord Jesus Christ lose her biblical conviction, clarity, and courage, and blend into the spirit of the age? Or will she hold fast to the word of life, draw courage from Jesus, and unashamedly proclaim his way as the way of life?

This is a hot topic because it threatens the very core of what every Christian should stand on, the biblical truth of God’s word and his plan to rescue mankind from certain eternal destruction as a result of a rejection of his truths and a desire to redefine it. I intentionally posted the previous article How Can Your Church Love Transgender People because of how important it is to accurately represent the love of Christ in the changing times in which we live. We must be led by the Holy Spirit as we seek to love unconditionally, without ever compromising the truth.

While I had not read the Nashville Statement prior to this writing, I know enough about it to say that it is stirring much debate, pro and con, even among professing Christians. As you carefully and prayerfully read it, you will understand why. It is important that we know God’s word well enough to be able to stand strong in the Christian faith.

 

2 thoughts on “Monday Musings & Miscellany…on Tuesday

  1. Hello Pastor Ron,
    Great Musings & Miscellany as always. I pray you all have a blessed time in DC this week and that the Lord would guide and teach all of you and allow you to draw closer to Him.

    The article above, How Can Your Church Love Transgender People, was very good. But it was also left me a little short. The following paragraph I felt was a little misleading and/or incomplete.

    “What does grace tell me? It tells me I fall short, and so do you. Grace tells me I’m still loved, and so are you. Grace is there for me in my repentance, and it’s there for you in yours. Grace says forgiveness is always available. Grace never lets us be proud, for our salvation isn’t of our own doing; but grace also prevents us from despair, for by grace we’ve been saved and are being remade. ”

    The 4th sentence is where my difficulty lies. “Grace is there for me in my repentance, and it’s there for you in yours.” I whole heartedly believe this and am so grateful for God’s grace in my life. Knowing I definitely don’t deserve it but so grateful for it. In relation to this article, most of the people in that lifestyle are searching for a church body that not only loves and accepts them but also their lifestyle. How does a church body love them but at the same time not promote or agree with the lifestyle? How do you show love at the same time you are correcting something like this? Granted, no one sin is greater than another, but that lifestyle is such an outward/visible affront to Christianity how do you correct without offending? The statement referenced above says Grace in your repentance. If they are not repentant do you point that out? If so, how without offending? How do Christians do this without it looking like judging them?

    I try not to seem like I’m judging but every time I discuss this or other lifestyle choices I am always accused of judging and the person gets upset. Even using scripture as a basis for the discussion or prefacing it with grace and love doesn’t seem to work.

    Thoughts?

    1. Todd, I really appreciated your thoughtful response and I definitely hear your concern and understand it. I have often felt the very same way you do. I think there are abuses on both sides of this discussion, on the side of ignoring it and embracing the sin, under the guise of grace, and on the side of being harsh in how we point it out, without Godly compassion. If we are not careful we can err on both sides. I think the key is knowing what is going on in the individuals heart, listening carefully enough to how they are viewing their sin, and the struggle with that sin. This can only happen by a genuine desire to know them as a person, either lost or saved. I believe we see this consistently in the life and ministry of Jesus. We must never compromise the truth of the gospel, ever, but we must be wise in how we handle that truth and the timing of when and what we share with them. If we are faithful to that, the individual will either go away angry, continue to listen with an open heart, or best yet, cry out to Jesus for help with a broken and contrite spirit (Acts 17:32-34). Our job is to graciously, confidently preach the gospel, the full counsel of God, get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit do his job. I have spent far too many hours trying to convince people of things they had no desire to be convinced of. Conversely, I have not spent enough hours listening to sinners hearts, praying for them, pointing them consistently to Jesus, and loving them, whether they perceive it as love or not. Does that make sense?

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