Tuesday, March 27, 2012

why truth matters

“If our faith is not true, it would be false even if the whole world believed it. If our faith is true, it would be true even if the whole world and the entire cosmos were against it."  

(--Os Guinness, "Why Truth Matters", at Lausanne Cape Town 2010)

Six reasons why truth matters supremely, and why those Christians who are careless about truth are as dangerous as the open skeptics of our day:

First, only a high view of truth honors the God of Truth.

Second, only a high view of truth reflects how we come to know and trust God.

Third, only a high view of truth empowers our best human enterprises.

Fourth, only a high view of truth can undergird our proclamation and defense of the faith.

Fifth, only a high view of truth is sufficient for resisting evil and hypocrisy.

Sixth, only a high view of truth will help our growth and transformation in Christ.

The transcript of this message can be found here.


Here are a few additional Guinness quotes highlighted by my friend James:

"It is because of truth, that our faith in God is not irrational." 

"We are those who think, in believing, and believe, in thinking." 

"All humans, including ourselves, are not only truth seekers, but truth twisters." 

"Our stand for truth must start in the church itself." 

"To abandon truth is to abandon faithfulness." 

"Post modern thinking makes us all aware of hypocrisy but give us no standard of truth to expose and correct it... Both hypocrisy and evil depend on lies." 

"We are called to follow the way of Jesus. Not just to believe the truth, or to know and defend the truth, but to so live in truth that truth may be part of our innermost being. That in some imperfect way we become people of truth."

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Swindoll on "10 Things I Have Learned"

Chuck Swindoll was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at Catalyst 09, and spoke on "10 Things I Have Learned During Nearly 50 Years in Leadership":

1) It’s lonely to lead. Leadership involves tough decisions. The tougher the decision, the lonelier it is.

2) It’s dangerous to succeed. I’m most concerned for those who aren’t even 30 and are very gifted and successful. Sometimes God uses someone right out of youth, but usually he uses leaders who have been crushed.

3) It’s hardest at home. No one ever told me this in Seminary.

4) It’s essential to be real. If there’s one realm where phoniness is common, it’s among leaders. Stay real.

5) It’s painful to obey. The Lord will direct you to do some things that won’t be your choice. Invariably you will give up what you want to do for the cross.

6) Brokenness and failure are necessary

7) Attitude is more important than actions. Your family may not have told you: some of you are hard to be around. A bad attitude overshadows good actions.

8) Integrity eclipses image. Today we highlight image. But it’s what you’re doing behind the scenes.

9) God's way is better than my way.

10) Christlikeness begins and ends with humility.

the joy of a paraprosdokian

Paraprosdokians have been cropping up in our leadership meetings, and even in a couple of recent sermons. 

A paraprosdokian is a "figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently used in a humorous situation." More here and here.

I started to collect the ones I heard or read, and enjoyed:   

Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on my list.

Where there's a will, there's relatives.

Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

The evening news is where they begin with 'Good Evening,' and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.

Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

War does not determine who is right - only who is left.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

Two guys walked into a bar. The third one ducked.

A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.

I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.

Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says, 'In case of emergency, notify:' I put 'DOCTOR.'

I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

Behind every successful man is a woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.

I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not so sure. 

You're never too old to learn something stupid.

To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

Two can live as cheaply as one, if one goes hungry and the other goes without clothes.

Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won't expect it back.

A bank is a place that will lend you money, if you can prove that you don't need it. 

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese. 

Hospitality is making your guests feel like they're at home, even if you wish they were.

Money can't buy happiness, but it can make misery easier to live with.

Some cause happiness wherever they go. Others whenever they go.

Some are attributed to their originators...

"She got her good looks from her father, he's a plastic surgeon." — Groucho Marx

"One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I'll never know." — Groucho Marx

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it." —Groucho Marx

“A fool and his money are soon elected.” —Will Rogers

"He was at his best when the going was good." —Alistair Cooke on the Duke of Windsor

"If I am reading this graph correctly — I'd be very surprised." —Stephen Colbert

"You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing—after they have tried everything else." —Winston Churchill

"A modest man, who has much to be modest about." —supposedly Winston Churchill, about Clement Attlee

"I like going to the park and watching the children run around because they don't know I'm using blanks." —Emo Philips

"I haven't slept for ten days, because that would be too long." —Mitch Hedberg

"On the other hand, we have different fingers." — Jack Handey

"Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes, that way when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes." — Jack Handey

"I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it." — Jack Handey

Friday, March 23, 2012

weekend links of interest

1) Islam not in continuity with Judaism and Christianity. 

2) Atheists don't own reason.

3) Fragments of Mark's gospel may date to first century.

4) Evidences of the Holy Spirit, a tract by J. C. Ryle

Here is a summary of the ten evidences listed by Ryle...

1. The Spirit awakens a person’s heart.
2. The Spirit teaches a person’s mind.
3. The Spirit leads to the Word.
4. The Spirit convinces of sin.
5. The Spirit draws to Christ.
6. The Spirit sanctifies.
7. The Spirit makes a person spiritually minded.
8. The Spirit produces inward conflict.
9. The Spirit makes a person love the brethren.
10. The Spirit teaches a person to pray.

psalm 62

Enjoyed this song at our conference...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

conference quotes (mike minter)

"When Life Doesn't Make Sense" (Genesis 37-50)

"You are between a rock (God's promise) and a hard place (this world)."

"It's impossible to be fair to every person."

"Life's not fair, but it is just -- and God will work it out in eternity."

"The irony is that they sought to destroy the dream, but actually were instrumental in fulfilling it."  

"When God's name is conspicuously absent, his providence is conspicuously present."

"The power of influence is greater than the power of position."  

"Honesty is not the same thing as integrity.  Honesty can be compartmentalized, but integrity involves wholeness."

"You cannot hang on to bitterness and unforgiveness, and experience joyfulness in life."  

"The grace of God is sufficient to see me through my earthly pilgrimage."

"Forgiveness will cost you.  It will cost you the right to get even, or get back.  It is costly to forgive, because you have to release a debt."

"Whatever others mean for evil, God means for good."

"Bitterness is like drinking poison, hoping that the other person will die."

"Don't say, 'I forgive you', unless a person asks for it. You can do it in your heart but not verbally, because 'I forgive you' is a form of accusation regarding something they have not acknowledged."

Final questions --"seeing ourselves in the story":
1) Do you believe you could forgive the way Joseph did?
2) Are you having trouble letting go of a hurt far less severe than  Joseph's?
3) Do you believe God's grace is sufficient for you to forgive?
4) Are you presently resisting that grace?
5) Are you a conduit of the grace that saved you?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

further observations on John 13:21ff

Jesus calls us to love "as I have loved you..."  Some additional thoughts...

Take a realistic view of the Christian life.  People may seriously betray you, and even close friends, exemplary Christians, may cause you great disappointment and hurt.  D. A. Carson writes, "If Christians are to be kind and not to pay back evil for evil, and to exercise this love and compassion first of all to Christians, what is presupposed is that some of the attacks and pain that any Christian will experience will come from others in the church. As wonderful as Christian fellowship and Christian love may be—and at their best they are beyond price, beyond words—both experience and Scripture tell us in frank terms that  sometimes Christians face the worst pain from others within the family of faith."  (From Love in Hard Places, p. 52)

Acknowledge the hurt.  Don't deny the painfulness of betrayal-- Jesus didn't.  "Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified..." (John 13:21)  Whether through betrayal, denial, disappointment, or finally death, all loves in this life experience pain.  In the movie Shadowlands, the character playing C. S. Lewis was asked (after losing his mother as a child, and his wife to cancer), "Why love if losing hurts so much?"  He answers, 
"Twice in life I've been given that choice, as a boy and as a man. The boy chooses safety, the man chooses suffering. The pain now is part of the happiness then. That's the deal".  

Do not take your own revenge, or pay back evil for evil.  "When he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas..." (13:26) Jesus traveled with and shared hundreds of meals with Judas over three years.  He even washed Judas's feet to demonstrate his own willingness to bring cleansing to the betrayer's life.  Miroslav Volf writes, "For Christians, forgiving, like giving in general, always takes place in a triangle, involving the wrongdoer, the wronged person, and God. Take God away, and the foundations of forgiveness become unsteady and may even crumble."  (Miroslav Volf, from Free of Charge

Remember the a spiritual dimension to those who oppose Jesus: "Satan entered into him."  (13:27)  Such broken relationships are never strictly intellectual or emotional in their cause.  Prayer is so important!

To love as Jesus did doesn't mean being a wimp or doormat.  "What you are going to do, do quickly..." (13:27)  Jesus did not run after Judas, nor did he prevent Peter’s failure which would bring humility to Peter’s life. (13:38) 

Rest upon God's sovereign ability to bring glory out of shame. "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him... (13:31)  If he can bring glory and good from the most unjust, tragic, evil situation (Acts 2:23), then he can bring glory and good from yours. "God works against evil and suffering. But God, in immense divine power and inscrutable divine wisdom, also works through evil and suffering."  (Miroslav Volf, Free of Charge

Be aware that fellow believers in their self-confidence will promise more than they can deliver: "I will lay down my life for you." (13:37)  

Take the initiative in reconciliation.  Jesus warned Peter, and prayed for his success (Luke 22:32). After the resurrection Peter was summoned by name to meet Jesus in Galilee (Mark 16:7).  There our resurrected Lord prepared breakfast for the disciples and led Peter to re-affirm his love three times, and then put him back to work in ministry.  (John 21) 

The painting above, "Christ Washing the Apostles Feet", by Dirck van Baburen (c. 1616) captures the shocking nature of Christ's action in washing the disciples' feet.      

Monday, March 5, 2012

eight pointers for foot washing

Chris Faith, in Sunday's sermon, gave eight principles in application to foot-washing, taken as a metaphor for serving.  

1. John 13:1 “He loved them to the end.” We need to wash from a relationship of love and trust. To my shame I have corrected others without this first step and done more harm that good. This is one of the reasons we need to get involved in Christian community, so please, get involved in a house group or a small group where you can know and be known. We must get close enough for to be able to love in such practical ways.  

2. Gal 6:1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. When God calls you to deal with another person’s dirty feet, please, wash with gentleness and kindness. Rough foot washing can leave a brother crippled if you aren't careful. And remember, we are no better than anyone, but could fall into the very same sin. We may even share some of our struggles, for all of us get dirty feet living in this world. 

3. Remind the brother, “You are already clean.” The reason we deal with dirty feet is because God wants us to enjoy more fully the wonder of His cleansing power. We have the resources in Christ to truly change and be cleansed. We need to remind folk that we are already clean by the sacrifice of Christ.

4. Matt 7:5 says, "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Let’s deal with our own sin first then address our brother. Don’t correct from anger, envy or pride. Seek peace and pursue it. 

5. Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. Admit to your brother that dealing with our sin hurts. Our aim is not to hurt but to be true friends in Christ. Our goal is healing and reconciliation.  

6. And Matt 7:6  "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet." Please evaluate before you get involved in sharing your insights into another person’s life. Are they open to rebuke? Are they willing to listen? If so, proceed. However, if you sense that they will only trample your words or worse yet, turn on you with anger, then simply pray for God to minister truth to him.  

7. Proverbs 17:9 He who covers a transgression seeks love. He who repeats a matter separates intimate friends. Don’t talk about other’s people’s dirt. If the Lord leads, deal with it personally, and if not keep silent and pray for that brother or sister.

8. Rom 14:5 One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Realize that there are differences of opinion in any fellowship. Something that “smells sour” to you may be just fine to a brother. Don’t press others in issues that are not a matter of the culture of heaven. Grant much grace to those around you. 

--Chris Faith, from The Man Who Washed Feet