thumb licks [7.7.11]

God’s Beautiful, Holy, Good—and Crushing—Law

The apostle Paul, a Jewish rabbi who had extensive respect for and acquaintance with God’s law (Acts 22:3) had some very shocking thoughts about it once he came to faith in Christ. Although he heartily agreed that it was “holy and righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12), and although he knew the beautiful nature of God’s law, he also knew that the law could never bring sinners to life because no one could obey it. He confessed that all his obedience (and it was extensive) had no more value than a pile of manure (Phil. 3:8). He wrote: “By works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight.” (Rom. 3:20) What then? Are we Jews [who have the written law] any better off [than Gentiles who didn’t]?

Hijacked by the Gospel

While studying Galatians 1:11-24, I am struck once again with how utterly supreme God’s loving plans are for us in Christ. Paul, captured always by the vision of the original capturing vision of Jesus on the Damascus road, appeals again to the singular transforming power of the gospel by appealing to the way it powerfully transformed him. He was headed one direction, resting in his own sovereignty over his life. But the One who had set Paul apart before his life story even began called him in grace and was pleased to reveal the Son to him (Gal. 1:15-16). His life was never the same. Paul was writing his own life story, but Jesus stole his pen… He got hijacked by the gospel.

Find Out Right Now Whether You Have a Pride Problem

When’s the last time you crept out of your house to worship at the feet of a sculpture created in your own image?  Never, right?  While you probably haven’t done that, it’s likely that you’ve asserted your claim to the title of “Center of the Universe” in other, sometimes subtler, ways. Ever honk at another car while driving because you thought it was slowing you down?  Ever neglect a household responsibility because you thought someone else ought to do it?  Ever dwell on a compliment someone paid you? If we take an honest look at our lives, we’re likely to find evidence of pride under every rock and around every corner.

Worship God by Serving the Poor

The words in chapter 58 of the book of Isaiah have affected me for years. In that Scripture, God tells us the Father sees our relationship with the poor (or lack of it) as something serious. It is impossible to serve God with all our hearts and at the same time miss out on God’s call to care for the needy. The Scriptures say the way we care for the poor is tantamount to the way we see God. The prophet makes it clear that we must have a relationship with the poor if we hope to please God with our lives. 

But in today’s church, most of us don’t know a single person who is needy. How can we obey God if we aren’t connecting with the poor on a regular basis? We can’t. 

Something needs to change. We need to hear the call of God to those in need.

Texting Teens: Typing Replaces Talking [INFOGRAPHIC]

Has texting taken over as the primary form of communication for today’s teens? We found our answer with this Infographic from Lab 42, which polled 500 social-networking Americans aged 13 to 21.

How Important is the Bible?

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sacrifice, balance beam, cross, and urgency

sacrifice

“Where are the young men and women of this generation who will hold their lives cheap and be faithful even unto death? Where are those who will lose their lives for Christ’s sake — flinging them away for love of him? Where are those who will live dangerously and be reckless in his service? Where are his lovers — those who love him and the souls of men more than their own reputations or comfort or very life?

Where are the men who say ‘no’ to self, who take up Christ’s cross to bear it after him, who are willing to be nailed to it in college or office, home or mission field, who are willing, if need be, to bleed, to suffer and to die on it?

Where are the adventurers, the explorers, the buccaneers for God, who count one human soul of far greater value than the rise or fall of an empire? Where are the men who are willing to pay the price of vision? Where are the men of prayer? Where are God’s men in this day of God’s power?” – Howard Guinness, Sacrifice [59-60]

the cross exposes

“The cross exposes the holy sovereign Lord whose authority we have defied and whose glory we have deflected to unworthy rivals was willing to endure judgment that his own impeccable justice pronounced upon us. The cross declares that we are loved with an intensity that defies our capacity to comprehend, not because we are intrinsically lovable but because God is intrinsically love.” Elyse Fitzpatrick, Counsel from the Cross [12]

Urgent Missiology

“Amid the many facets of the American dream that contradict the core of the gospel, one ideal Americans have embraced coincides subtly with the words of Christ. As James Adams was coining the phrase “American Dream,” Franklin Roosevelt was emphasizing how Americans will postpone immediate gradificatio and even endure hard sacrifices if they are convinced their future will be better than their past. Americans are willing to take great risks, he said, if they believe it will accomplish great reward.

In similar words Jesus said to His followers, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Jesus clearly acknowledged that following Him leads to a radical reward that this following Him involves risking the safety, security, and satisfaction we have found in this world. But in the end, Jesus said, following Him leads to a radical reward that this world can never offer. This begs a question from each of us: do we believe the reward found in Jesus is worth the risk of following Him?” – David Platt, Radical [161-162]

Are you needing a call to live radically for Christ? Check out An Unadjusted Gospel in an Unreached World: Connecting Gospel Theology with Urgent Missiology

balance beam

Francis Chan is one for stories and illustrations that pack a punch. I particularly appreciate this one passed along by a good friend, Sur John. Stop holding on and walk with Christ!