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Christlikeness Is Something To Long For, Not Be Delivered From (via Randy Alcorn)

Randy Alcorn is supporting his wife, Nanci, through her season of cancer.
God is supporting them both.
He writes about the experience of God using the very situations that nobody wants as the circumstances in which faith and Christlikeness grows:

If asked, “Do you want to be closer to Jesus, and more like him?” we all know what we should say. Yet, if God answered all our prayers for relief from suffering, he would be delivering us from the very thing we say we want. Christlikeness is something to long for, not be delivered from. It’s not easy to pray, “Please do whatever it takes to make me more like Jesus.” But when he does whatever it takes, we should trust him.

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The Hardest Battle In Ministry (via Jeff Robinson)

This is the battle every Christian fights, and it’s the hardest battle in ministry: the battle against yourself.
From Jeff Robinson:

The ministry is a lot like golf. You really are your own worst enemy. You have to battle you all the time. It comes down to realizing that you are weak. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10, You are weak, but he is strong. In our weakness, his strength is made perfect.
Jesus said it best in John 15:5. Apart from me, you can do nothing. You must rely on him. That’s part of winning the war within is God making you a humble, godly man who does look like the person Paul describes in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.
Regarding the war within, I think it’s time for battle.

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Why Church Should Be Nothing Like Cross-Fit (via Connor Gwin at Mockingbird)

I’ve been dabbling a little bit in personal fitness for a while now, so I’ve got lots of respect for those who exercise.
This article by
Connor Gwin on Mockingbird
interacts with popular thought about why gyms and exercise fill a space in some modern lives that used to be filled by church.
It wants to tease out that the thought that people can find more personally meaningful “content and wisdom and community” in gyms is because the church has been conditioning them to expect the wrong thing.
There are texts in the New Testament that utilise athletic metaphors, but they are not based so much in self-improvement as they are in increased resting in the finished work of Christ in order to grow more like him.
From the article:

What troubles me is that we so easily make the jump from church to gym.
This argument of the Vox article starts from the assumption that religion and religious institutions are “providers of content and wisdom and community.”
From the outside, this is an easy assumption to make. Those of us within the church can fall into this trap too easily as well. The church is not just a provider of content and community. Ritual is not “this really helpful way of making people think of something greater.” The church and the rituals contained therein are forms of participation in reality as opposed to the delusion of my own sinful understanding.
The church does not exist to “make people better” like CrossFit. The church exists first and foremost for the worship of Christ and the proclamation of his Gospel. This sole focus serves to remind people who they are and to proclaim the Good News that we cannot make ourselves better but there is One who makes us whole.
The church is not a provider of spiritual wisdom, but foolishness. It does not exist for improvement or even growth. Saying that CrossFit is the logical home for those who no longer darken the doors of the church is an indictment of the church more than anything.
It shouldn’t be an easy walk from the pew to the weight bench, but it is made easy by a Christianity that looks more like a spiritual fitness program than a Gospel balm.
Any mention of “nones” and someone will mention the “dones,” those who are burned out and tired of giving their all to the church. For the “dones,” the prospect of endless burpees sounds better than one more sermon about the next political issue they need to care about or the next moral ladder they need to climb.
What is happening in the church when the Workout of the Day sounds like better news than the Gospel?
Jesus is not a personal trainer or a guru espousing wisdom. Jesus is Lord, and he calls to each of us, saying, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Read the whole post at Mockingbird.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 33

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 33

88.
Q. How many parts are there to the true repentance or conversion of man?
A. Two: the dying of the old self and the birth of the new.

89.
Q. What is the dying of the old self?
A. Sincere sorrow over our sins and more and more to hate them and to flee from them.

90.
Q. What is the birth of the new self?
A. Complete joy in God through Christ and a strong desire to live according to the will of God in all good works.

91.
Q. But what are good works?
A. Only those which are done out of true faith, in accordance with the Law of God, and for his glory, and not those based on our own opinion or on the traditions of men.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 32

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 32

86.
Q. Since we are redeemed from our sin and its wretched consequences by grace through Christ without any merit of our own, why must we do good works?
A. Because just as Christ has redeemed us with his blood he also renews us through his Holy Spirit according to his own image, so that with our whole life we may show ourselves grateful to God for his goodness and that he may be glorified through us; and further, so that we ourselves may be assured of our faith by its fruits and by our reverent behavior may win our neighbors to Christ.

87.
Q. Can those who do not turn to God from their ungrateful, impenitent life be saved?
A. Certainly not! Scripture says, “Surely you know that the unjust will never come into possession of the kingdom of God. Make no mistake: no fornicator or idolater, none who are guilty either of adultery or of homosexual perversion, no thieves or grabbers or drunkards or slanderers or swindlers, will possess the kingdom of God.”


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Trials Of Various Kinds (via Scott Hubbard at Desiring God)

Scott Hubbard writes a short article about how God prepares us to face major trials by taking his people through multiple smaller trials of more mundane significance. How we teach ourselves to react with the smaller will be how we react to the larger seasons of adversity.

The little trials you meet today are not mere letdowns or annoyances. They are invitations from your Father to become more like Jesus. They are the exercises your faith needs, given in just the right size and quantity. They are God’s way of fitting you for glory.

Read the whole post at Desiring God.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 24

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 24

62.
Q. But why cannot our good works be our righteousness before God, or at least a part of it?
A. Because the righteousness which can stand before the judgment of God must be absolutely perfect and wholly in conformity with the divine Law. But even our best works in this life are all imperfect and defiled with sin.

63.
Q. Will our good works merit nothing, even when it is God’s purpose to reward them in this life, and in the future life as well?
A. This reward is not given because of merit, but out of grace.

64.
Q. But does not this teaching make people careless and sinful?
A. No, for it is impossible for those who are ingrafted into Christ by true faith not to bring forth the fruit of gratitude.