Monthly Archives: July 2009

IMPERFECT MIRRORS

Romans 12:1-2 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

  • The negative imperative “do not be conformed” assumes that most of the Roman believers were being tempted to be like the world around them.  The same is true of us.  Without intentional effort to avoid conformity with the world, our default setting is to reflect the sinful environment in which we live.  Our flesh is the same as that of the world, but the difference is that we have been given a new heart and the Spirit of God within us to help us go to war against the flesh and the ways of the world.  While we are redeemed from the Old Man (“the sin nature”), we have not yet been fully-sanctified (2 Cor. 5:17).  We still have a tendency to wander from the things of God and imitate the things of the world.  The truth is, we never remain stagnant.  We are either imitating the world or we are imitating the word; we are either worldly or we are godly.  There is no middle-ground.  Conformity is neither neutral nor accidental.  What we set our hearts and minds on determines what we reflect (Col. 3:1-3; 2 Cor. 3:18); essentially we are what we worship.  As Greg Beale has noted in his book We Become What We Worship, “What you revere you resemble, either for ruin or restoration” (Ps. 115:4-8; Ex. 32-34; Is. 6; Ps. 115).

Reflection

  • The command is to not be conformed to the world.  Conformity is not, in and of itself, bad.  After all, the purpose of redemption involves God conforming us to the likeness of His Son (Rom. 8:28-30).  In elaborating on this portion of the text, there is an idea that is slightly obscured by most English translations.  In an effort to be thorough without being technical, I hope to tease out this obscurity.  The literal translation of the term “world” in this passage is actually “age”.  In Scripture, the concept of two distinct ages is presented (“the present evil age” and “the age to come”).  The Pauline corpus, among others, provides multiple examples of this line of thinking: the present age (1 Cor. 2:6-8; Gal. 1:3-4), the age to come (Heb. 6:5), and both in relation to one another (Matt. 12:32; Eph. 1:19-20).[1]  As there is a war between the flesh and the Spirit (Gal. 5:16-17), there is also a battle between this present age and the age to come.  The tension comes between the one who “rules” this present evil age (Eph. 2:2; 2 Cor. 4:3)  and the One who is the rightful, and Sovereign King who reigns from the age to come (Ps. 2; 1 Cor. 15:20-28; Col. 1:10-20; Rev. 19:11-16).

  • Believers live in this present world (“age”), but are not supposed to be of it (Jn. 17:11-19).  It is the purpose of the ruler of this age to distract our attention from the age to come and to blind unbelievers to the good news that the age to come has begun, and currently coexists, with the present evil age.  Essentially, the kingdom of God has been initiated through the life and death of Christ.  The ruler of this age as distorted the truths of the gospel and perverted many who would claim to walk as Jesus walked, but we know that this present evil age is passing away (1 Jn. 2:15-17) and soon all of creation will recognize the lordship of Christ when the kingdom of God is fully completed.[2]  While the believers are tempted to love the temporary, trivial, and ungodly things of this world, Paul instructs them to treasure the timeless things of God.[3]  We are sponges who either soak up the word of God or soak up the ways of the world, and we ring out the water of godliness or worldliness depending on what we store up in our hearts.

  • Be transformed by the renewing of your minds reveals both the purpose and the process of God’s work to sanctify us.  Since we live in the present evil age but are being conformed to the age to come, God has accepted us as we are (imperfect) with the agenda to change us into the image of His Son (perfect).  The purpose is that we might be transformed into what we were created to be: holy and blameless (Eph. 1:4; Eph. 5:25-30) as those who reflect the image of His Son (Gen. 1:26-27; Rom. 8:28-30; 2 Cor. 3:18).  Our creation, and subsequent redemption, has designed us to be mirrors that reflect the glory of God to the rest of creation and the praise of creation back to Him as the chief Object of worship.  The process by which God accomplishes our sanctification is through the Holy Spirit’s illumination of the word in our lives (Jn. 17:17; 2 Cor. 3:18).  Through reading, meditating, and obeying the word of God, we behold the image of Christ and are transformed into that same image from one degree of glory to another.  In other words, God uses our study of Scripture to renew our minds (Ps. 19:7-14; Ps. 119).  Thus, our sanctification (“growth in godliness”) is a progressive process of seeing Christ more clearly in Scripture and reflecting him more clearly in our lives.  God shapes us as a sculptor diligently chips away at a stone in order to make it reflect the image of his design.

  • Over time, the Holy Spirit will bless the transforming power of the Scriptures upon our lives in a way that applies the redeeming power of the gospel to our thoughts, our emotions, our character, our passions, our behavior.  He will chip away the sinful habits and selfish motives that belong to the Old Man that was crucified with Christ.  Instead, He will cause us to resemble the New Man who has been remade in the image of Christ.  He has changed the very core of who we are so that we might better reflect Jesus Christ, but the transformation is not finished.  One day soon the work shall be made complete when we finally see Jesus as He is and become like Him (1 Cor. 13; 2 Cor. 3:16-18; 1 Jn. 3:1-2; Phil. 1:6, 3:20-21; Col. 1:28; 4:12; Heb. 12:1-3).  Let us therefore be transformed by the renewing of our mindsfor “clarity in your thoughts breeds passion in your affections.”[4]  Clearly understanding who Jesus is will cultivate in us a passionate love for knowing, obeying, and reflecting His holy character.  Instead of having our minds patterned after this world and Satan who “rules” it, we are to have our minds patterned after the world to come and Christ who rules all!!

Mirror Image

Questions for Meditation:

In what ways/areas are you most tempted to conform to the world around you?

What do you resemble (the word or the world) and what does that reflect as the object of your worship?

Since the means of transformation is the renewing of your mind, how diligently have you read, study, and meditate on the word of God so that the Holy Spirit might grow you in grace and truth as you seek to obey the teaching that you’ve heard?

______________________

[1] George Ladd, The Gospel of the Kingdom: “The present age is evil, but the Kingdom of God belongs to The Age to Come. The Kingdom of God, both as the perfect manifestation of God’s reign and the realm of completed blessing, belongs to the The Age to Come… His [Jesus’] mission, as well as His Messiahship, was a ‘mystery’; it was not to bring the evil Age to its end and inaugurate The Age to Come. It was rather to bring the powers of the future Age to men in the midst of the present evil Age; and this mission involved His death.”  The theology of “already/not yet” was formally proposed by Gerhardus Vos and further elucidated by George Ladd.  Articles/Illustrations on the “two ages”: Two Ages, Charts, Simple Illustration provide a helpful clarification of this theological proposal and its Scriptural evidence.  I highly recommend reading George Ladd for a better understanding of this topic.

[2] Abraham Kuyper: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”

[3] Tullian Tchividjian has an excellent book entitled, Unfashionable, where he quotes D.L. Moody as to the relationship between the church and the culture: “The place for the ship is the sea, but God help the ship if the sea gets into it.”

[4] Puritan pastor Richard Sibbes: “…Light in the understanding breedeth heat of love in the affections.  Claritas in intellectu parit ardorem in affectu [Clarity in your thoughts breeds passion in your affections]. In what measure the sanctified understanding seeth a thing to be true, or good, in that measure the will embraces it.  Weak light breeds weak inclinations; a strong light, strong inclinations…”  –  Richard Sibbes, The Works, Vol. I, p. 59.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Theological Reflection, Tribbett

HOLY WORSHIP

*This post is the 2nd of 4 posts on Romans 12:1-2.  See the previous post entitled “The Mercy of God” for the introduction to this discussion.

Romans 12:1-2
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

  • This portion of the passage carries the idea of constraining and consecrating one’s body for the service of God. In other words, it means restraining the selfish urges that I have and setting my whole self aside for the purposes of God. The picture is not limited merely to the physical body, but encompasses the whole man (understanding, will, affections, actions, etc).

  • While many of the Roman believers may not have caught the full extent of Paul’s allusions to the Old Testament sacrificial system, it seems unlikely that in such a pagan culture this imagery would have been entirely missed. The OT image of sacrifice carries the idea of the unblemished lambs that were slain as an offering to God for the covering of sin. In the New Testament, Jesus is revealed to be the ultimate sacrificial Lamb who made a permanent covering for sin through his death and resurrection (Heb. 9:14). The adjective “living” attached to sacrifice in this verse is quite the paradox. How could something that was slain and given to God continue to live? This paradox captures a couple of important thoughts: First, the living nature of the sacrifice pictures an ongoing or continual offering of oneself to the Lord. Second, and perhaps more profound, is the status of being raised from the dead (Rom. 6:2-6; 7:4-6). Through faith in Christ, believers are raised to new life. Being crucified with Christ, they are also raised to life with Him. They would not have to die the death that sin deserved since Christ experienced it in their place. In this way, they are called to be living sacrifices that are daily set apart for the things of God.


  • Holy and acceptable to God promotes the idea of being pure and pleasing to God. Holiness means that something is both clean and consecrated, in other words it is pure and set apart for a special purpose. The instruments used in the temple were said to be holy, that is they were set apart and no longer to be used for an ordinary use in everyday life. Thus, we as believers have been set aside as those redeemed for an extraordinary purpose. Our lives have been reserved for the things/purposes of God. In the Old Testament, God is often described as holy. It is a central facet of His character. And since God is holy, He expects His people to be holy (Lev. 11:44; 1 Pet. 1:16). Unfortunately, sin has rendered mankind totally incapable of being holy and acceptable to God. Yet, God in His mercy provided a way for man to be reconciled to Himself. Through the holy character and wrath-appeasing sacrifice of Jesus Christ, His sinless Son, God demonstrated His love toward man. Through our faith in Christ and the redemption He accomplished, His righteousness is given to us. Our sin was exchanged for His righteousness so that His holiness and sacrificial death would be credited to our account while our sin and all that it deserved was deposited to His. Once defiled, we are now made clean (Col. 1:21-23).
  • The term “spiritual” in the phrase spiritual worship is most literally translated “thoughtful” or “reasonable”. The idea is thoughtful service as a means of worship. This does not mean that the service rendered to God is not done through the Holy Spirit (John 4:24). Rather the idea that Paul seems to be emphasizing is that such worship derives its character as acceptable to God from the fact that it enlists our minds, the faculty of our reason, our intellect. This type of service requires a volitional or willful choice, a concerted effort to engage our minds (Col. 3:1-3, Phil. 4:8). It speaks of a conscious, careful, and consecrated devotion to the service of God. It is not instinctive or mindless worship, but rather an intentional and thoughtful work of serving the Lord God. [1]


    Questions for Meditation:

    (Remember that only God’s grace is sufficient to sanctify us toward Christ-likeness, but we are called to exercise faith and diligence in light of that grace.)

    1. In what ways does your life (thoughts, affections, attitudes, and actions) evidence that you are reserved for a special purpose? How do you use your hobbies, career, relationships, leisure time, etc. to serve the purposes of God?

    2. In what ways does your service to God and the things that glorify Him reflect careful, conscious, and consecrated worship? How intentional is the tangible expression of your devotion? How well do you engage your mind in thoughtful worship by meditating on the things of God and the person of Christ?

    Blessings in Christ, Gabe

[1] John Murray’s commentary on Romans was helpful in better understanding “thoughtful devotion/reasonable service.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Theological Reflection, Tribbett

THE MERCY OF GOD

Over the next several posts, I hope to consider Romans 12:1-2 and some of its implications for our lives. Before looking at the first portion of this passage, it will be helpful to take a look at the context.

Context: The book of Romans is one of the clearest and most logical (not to mention lengthy) presentations of the gospel. It was written by the Apostle Paul around A.D. 57 from the city of Corinth in order to strengthen the faith of those in Rome. While it is not a complete compendium of Paul’s theology, it is one of the fullest expressions of what he believed. He announces the premise of the letter in 1:16-17 by writing, “the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” The rest of the book elaborates on the gospel and its implications for life. The first three chapters testify to the revelation of God and the utter sinfulness of man: All have fallen short of the glory of God and are without excuse before their Maker. He explains mankind’s need to be reconciled to God (1:16-4:25), and that such reconciliation can only come through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.


By faith in Christ, the believer is justified—which is to say that he is declared righteous before God. The result of being justified by faith is that the believer is then progressively sanctified—a process of being made more and more to reflect the image and character of Christ (5:1-8:39). In the proceeding chapters (9-11), Paul describes his sorrow over those Jews who have failed to embrace the saving power of the gospel; they have rejected Jesus in an effort to make themselves righteous through the Law. However, he rejoices in God’s great mercy extended to the Gentiles who have been grafted into that salvation. In the final five chapters (12-16), Paul highlights how the gospel should affect the believer’s everyday life. The gospel which is the power of God unto salvation is the very means by which God intends to transform the lives of those who experience it.


Text: Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

  • Therefore points Paul’s readers back to the previous eleven chapters. The instructions that Paul is about to give concerning the Romans’ response to the gospel is rooted in the gracious activity of God in saving them. What he is about to tell them to do is entirely grounded in what God has already done for them in the work of Jesus Christ.  (See A Gracious Reading of Scripture for more examples!!)

  • Brothers indicates that Paul is addressing fellow believers, which seems obvious from the rest of the verse when he calls on them to remember God’s grace as they respond in obedience to Him. Notice Paul’s tone is very tender, much unlike his tone toward the Galatians who were flirting with a false gospel. His purpose is to guide the Roman believers toward dedicating their whole selves to the things of God.
  • By the mercies of God is a call to remembrance. Paul is asking them to intentionally reflect on the kindness that God has extended to them. God has not given them the punishment that their sin deserves. Instead, He has been merciful in granting them salvation. But like all humans, the Romans were in danger of forgetting what God had done for them. As a result, they would fail to live as those who have experienced the saving power of God which is evidenced by the fruit of transformation. In short, the effectiveness of the gospel would be demonstrated by the changes in their lives.

    Forgetfulness prevents Faithfulness: This call to remembrance reminds me of the story in Joshua 4 where the Israelites were instructed to erect a monument of twelve stones. These twelve stones were meant to be a visual reminder of God’s power and faithfulness toward His people. He delivered them, led them to the Promised Land, and gave them the power to inherit all that He had provided for them. How easily we forget God’s faithfulness to us. How quickly we lose sight of the blessings He has bestowed upon our undeserving hearts. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He did that so that we might be reconciled to God, and share in the inheritance of His righteous Son. He gave us the presence of the Holy Spirit to comfort, guide, convict, and ultimately sanctify us. Our salvation is the greatest mercy that God has provided for us, but there are countless others that could be mentioned as well. As we consider our calling to live lives worthy of the gospel, might we do well to consider the great mercies of God with humble hearts of gratitude!

Questions for Meditation:

What are some of the chief mercies that God has displayed toward me, and how have I responded to Him in light of them?

In light of His mercy in spite of my sin, how well do I grant similar mercies toward others when they sin against me?

Blessings in Christ, Gabe


Leave a comment

Filed under Theological Reflection, Tribbett

Going Through The Motions

Many of us go through the motions in life.  Let me explain what I mean.  We go to work/school, and then we finish all the related activities (TV, Sports, reading, Etc…), (if you are a follower of Christ) pray some, read God’s word some.  Then we just repeat.  It’s like living in a clothes washer.  You just spin round and round aimlessly waiting for the cycle to stop.

Clothes Washer

The monotony of daily life can only be satisfied by a God that is truly dangerous, yet secure, yet good.   In the classic Narnia series by C. S. Lewis, the character of Aslan symbolizes God/Jesus.  One of the characters of the book Lucy asks a Beaver, (Don’t ask) “is Aslan safe?”  He responds with,”‘Safe?’  ‘Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. but he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.'”[1] God is not safe, he is secure as the foundational ground[2] of all that this universe is, the creator God.

2nd Corinthians 13:4-8

4For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God.  For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God. 5Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 6I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. 7But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. 8For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.”

Testing and trials are the result of pursuing God.[3] Following Christ is neither safe nor easy.  When we are tested and found faithful we have something worth more than anything else in this world.  Faithfulness as the result, gives us more than we could ever ask for; eternal life with the one and only creator of the universe.  When you wander and think that God does not test us in love ponder what A.W. Tozer says about the attributes of God, “All of God does all that God does; He does not divide Himself to perform a work, but works in the total unity of His being.”[4] God works with all that he is to love us, care for us, to see us become what we were always intended to be – Faithful servants of the creator God.  Obedience is the new rebellion!

When God puts trials and tests of faith in our path what is our response?  Are we exalting His supremacy over creation and our lives?  Or casting off our true calling finding hope in false idols?  Will you stand the test of faith that God has prepared for you?  What tests of faith are you in right now?

In Christ Alone, John


[1] God called many men to be martyrs for the Gospel. He truly is dangerous (as defined by this world) as seen in the narratives of the Old and New Testaments.  Servants of God, met their death, as we all do, due to their obedient service.  Many times they were killed because of serving God, above all men.

[2] Christ is the cornerstone, the foundation of the church.

[3] See James 1:2-4 for encouragement in midst of testing.

[4] Tozer, Aiden W. The Knowledge of the Holy. (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1961) 15.

Leave a comment

Filed under Application, Mueller, Theological Reflection

A Review: Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption

Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption

By Jennifer Thompson-Cannino, Ronald Cotton , and Erin Torneo.

Thompson-Cannino, Jennifer, Ronald Cotton , and Erin Torneo. Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2009. 282 Pages.

About the Authors:

Jennifer Thompson-Cannino lives in North Carolina with her family.  She is an advocate for judicial reform, and is a member of the North Carolina Actual Innocence Commission, the advisory committee for Active Voices, and the Constitution Project.  Her op-eds have appeared in The New York Times, the Durham Herald-Sun, and the Tallahassee Democrat.

Ronald Cotton lives in North Carolina with his family.  He has spoken at various schools and conferences, including Washington and Lee University, the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Georgetown Law School, and the Community March for Justice for Troy Anthony Davis in Savannah, Georgia.

Erin Torneo lives in Los Angeles and Brooklyn.  She was a 2007 New York Foundation for the Arts Nonfiction Fellow.”[1]

Disclaimer:  This book contains depictions of rape (in almost no detail), and prison life (which includes swearing).

Summary:

The story line of this book came from the events of the case against Ronald Cotton.  He was accused with eye witness testimony of the rape of Jennifer Thompson.  Although he was in fact innocent he spent 11 years in jail.  The only evidence that was brought against him was from the testimony of Jennifer Thompson.  While he was in Jail he found the man that did commit the rape of Jennifer and another woman.  Eventually he gets convicted of both of their rapes.  This book is the story of his reconciliation with Jennifer.  He finds redemption through his release and reconciliation with his accusers.  Justice is served as he is acquitted of all crimes.

Review:

Major Themes: Redemption, Reconciliation, Justice, and Forgiveness.

I read this book as I was traveling to visit a friend.  It has a flowing story with starting part of the book written from Jennifer’s perspective with the next section written by Ronald Cotton.  After that they flow back and forth chapter by chapter.  Upon receiving the book I was skeptical of the theological or redemptive quality of the book.  But upon reading it is one of the most fluid true stories that I have read on redemption.

WARNING SPOILER:

When Ronald is getting tried for another crime (during his appeal) that he did not commit he prays this prayer, “Dear heavenly father, you know and I know that I’m an innocent man.  Please reveal this miscarriage of justice during the new trial. Please protect me and give me strength to endure, and please protect my loved ones.” [2] Even after he is convicted of more crimes he did not commit, he seeks redemption and justice.  He reads the psalms seeking for God’s word to be true in his life.  “Flipping to the dog-eared pages of my Bible, I read from the Book of Psalms to ease my mind.

In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion.  Deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to escape: incline thine ear unto me, and save me.  Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of unrighteousness and cruel man.”[3] As Ronald has one last chance to be found innocent, and with the help of DNA testing he is found innocent and freed after 11 years of jail time.

The guilt of putting Ronald in jail for that period of time, reverberates in Jennifer’s soul and the guilt kills her inside.  “I looked around the den, at the photos of my three children smiling back at me from the walls, and a picture of Vinny and me on our wedding day.  Eleven years.  How do eleven years pass when you are locked up for a crime you didn’t commit? I couldn’t begin to imagine.  For me, they were eleven years measured in birthdays, first days of school, Christmas morning.  Ronald Cotton and I were exactly the same age, and he had none of those things because I’d picked him.  He’d lost eleven years of time with his family, eleven years of falling in love, getting married, having kids.  He looked forlorn on the television, hurt and bewildered.  The guilt suffocated me.”[4] Jennifer makes a bold decision to meet the person that she sent to jail as a criminal that was in fact innocent.

“Jennifer asked me questions about life in prison, how I had survived.  She also asked me how my life had been since I had gotten out, how I was getting along.  I had to believe God had a plan,” I said, “and that this miscarriage of justice would one day be revealed.  I used to read the Book of Psalms a lot.”[5] God is mighty and just, this book gives one of the most contemporary true stories of redemption and justice.  Upon meeting Ronald, Jennifer embraces him.  “All I could think was: Had I really just been in the arms of the man I had accused of raping me?”[6]

Theological Reflection:

I will let Scripture speak:

Exodus 23:1-3, 6-7

1 “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness.  2 Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, 3 and do not show favoritism to a poor man in his lawsuit… 6 “Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. 7 Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.”

Psalm 9:7-9

7 The LORD reigns forever;
he has established his throne for judgment.

8 He will judge the world in righteousness;
he will govern the peoples with justice.

9 The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.

Psalm 11:7

For the LORD is righteous,
he loves justice;
upright men will see his face.

Ephesians 1:7-8

7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight

My prayer is this in light of this book:

Jeremiah 10:23-24

23 I know, O LORD, that a man’s life is not his own;
it is not for man to direct his steps.

24 Correct me, LORD, but only with justice—
not in your anger,
lest you reduce me to nothing.

Conclusions:

Despite the disclaimer about the content of this book, I highly recommend this book as a contemporary story of redemption.[7] Since it is both through the eyes of the accused and the accuser that adds merit to the story.  We all stand accused of the sin that so easily entangles our souls, but Christ has redeemed us through the power of the cross and His resurrection.  Much like Ronald, Christ was accused although innocent.  Much unlike Ronald though Christ died an innocent man, for the sins of the world to redeem sinners of which I am the foremost.  Ronald was proven innocent and freed by the acts of a just God.  This story is a rousing tale of Redemption, Reconciliation, Justice, and Forgiveness; that parallels how God has redeemed us through Christ.

In Christ alone, John


[1] From the “about the authors” section from the book.

[2] Thompson-Cannino, Jennifer, Ronald Cotton , and Erin Torneo. Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2009) 122.

[3] Ibid. 176-177.

[4] Ibid. 237-238.

[5] Ibid. 245.

[6] Ibid. 250.

[7] If you have a problem with reading about prison, and mild details about rape, then do not read this book.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Mueller

Practical or Professional

I’m going to be out of town for the next week without any opportunity to post, but I hope to follow-up with a four-part discussion on Romans 12:1-2.  In the meantime, Mueller will be sure to keep you company.  Since my time is limited, I thought I would post a quote from John Owen that God used to convict my heart.  I hope that you will find it equally stimulating.

Confessional and Functional Theology:

One of the major problems that I see in the Evangelical church today, and even in my own life at times, is a chasm between confessional and functional theology.  What I mean is simply this, what we say we believe does not always dictate what we actually do.  Our profession does not match our practice, even though it ought to guide it.  This is true not only of personal habits, but of ministry methods as well.  Instead, our behavior often evidences pragmatism (“whatever works best”) in the place of living out genuine biblical convictions in the church and in our personal lives.  The answer, according to Owen, is intimate communion with God as the doctrines of the gospel penetrate our minds and grab hold of our hearts.  Then, the overflow of our lives will be careful obedience to and delight in the person and truths of God.

Owen

John Owen: “When the heart is cast indeed into the mold of the doctrine that the mind embraces;… when not only the sense of the words is in our heads, but the sense of these things abides in our hearts; when we have communion with God in the doctrine we  contend for,–then we shall be garrisoned by the grace of God, against all the assaults of men… Let us, then, not think that we are anything the better for our conviction of the truths of the great doctrines of the gospel… unless we find the power of the truths abiding in our own hearts and have a continual experience of their necessity and excellency in our standing before God and our communion with him.”

Have you considered in what ways do your profession and practice fail to line up?  Is your faith merely confessional or is it also functional?  These are painful, but necessary questions.

Blessings in Christ, Gabe

Leave a comment

Filed under Application, Tribbett

FREEDOM

FREEEEDOM!”  That was the passionate cry and last dying word of a tortured William Wallace, at least as Hollywood depicted him.  In the 13th Century, William Wallace became a leader of the Scottish resistance aimed at independence from the tyranny of England’s Edward I.  He led the Scots to defeat the British on a number of occasions and became recognized as “the Guardian of Scotland.”  Martyred for the cause of Scottish freedom, Wallace is now considered a patriot and national hero.  The brutal nature of his death and the fervency of his commitment to freedom gained him a place among The 100 Greatest Britons and in our hearts as the hero of Braveheart.

William_Wallace

A similar commitment was made in our nation’s own journey toward independence.  Bodies were struck down and blood was poured out as men were willing to die for the freedom of others.  Many lives were lost on this soil in order to purchase the rights that most of us so easily take for granted each and every day.  As I pause to praise God for our national independence, I am reminded of an even greater cause for which to praise Him, our spiritual independence.  I was formerly dead in my trespasses and sins, yet God so graciously breathed new life into me.  He did that so that I might be freed from my sin and spared from the terrors of His great wrath.  I deserved an eternity of judgment, and yet Christ was committed to my freedom.  He was willing to die in order that I might live.  I am so grateful, yet so undeserving.

Freedom is costly.  It must be purchased.  Our freedom cost God His greatest treasure, Jesus Christ.  What sinful men could never do on their own, Jesus has already done for them.  He endured the Cross of Calvary like a lamb led to the slaughter.  In the kind intention of God, He provided the very means by which men would be delivered from the tyranny of sin and saved from the horrible consequences that it so justly deserved.  His blood was shed and His body was broken in order that the man of faith might experience ultimate freedom.    To those who were formerly slaves to their flesh, He made them into free sons and daughters who might freely love, serve, and enjoy God as they were created to do.  Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” John 8:36 says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” By faith in Christ and repentance from our sin, we can yell with William Wallace… “FREEEEDOM!!!”

Blessings in Christ, Gabe

Leave a comment

Filed under Justification, Tribbett