Christianity


We see that business is not heartless, but rather the ribcage which holds the heart

I read this interesting, and thought-provoking post on American Thinker. I am inclined to agree. What do you think?

Yes, it is more common and accepted that we Christians should say, “Christ died for me,” but I’ve had an occasion this morning to recognize, in a significant way, that Christ necessarily sighed for me as well.

I owe this revelation to the Matthew Henry commentary that I picked up on sale at the now, or soon-to-be, closed Borders in Keene, NH.

Have you ever shared with someone something of profound personal grief, or sorrow, and that person’s response was not in words of sympathy or comfort but rather in the physical manifestation of sympathy: a sigh? The gentle, or even gross, release of breath and energy as though they have suddenly realized the burden of your pain on their own shoulders.

It’s been my experience that women show this expression of complete sympathy better than men, but it is equally powerful coming from both men and women. I hope you’ve experienced it. If you haven’t, I’m not sure I can describe it in a meaningful way, but it is looking into someone’s eyes when you share awful news and seeing them deflate because they care about you.

Now imagine the God of the universe doing that.

The eighth chapter of Mark tells of a deaf and dumb man who Jesus took aside and healed. While he was healing the man, he sighed. Imagine, or picture if you will, Jesus looking you in the eye and sighing with sympathy for your sorrows. Who better to understand or sorrow than Jesus?

I am humbled that an all-powerful and all-knowing God would be able to sigh with me; sigh for me. I hope to share His love by showing similar acts of compassion to those who need it.

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Who among you didn’t want to be a Jedi when you grew up? Of course, most of us didn’t wait until we grew up to become Jedi, we immediately launched our Jedi careers upon our first discovery of the magical entity called The Force. So what if you were only 10 years old and master Jedi Yoda was over several hundred years old, we thought we could grasp all of the intricate details of being a Jedi master, too.

Well, I grew up (for the most part) and never did discover the ability to move objects with my mind. What I did discover was the real Force behind the universe that not only binds things together but also created all of those things in the first place (and it happens to also start with J): Jesus Christ

Read what John says at the opening I’d his testimony to the life and power of Jesus, the Son of God. John 1:1-18 ESV:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'”) And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

If you’ve never learned about Jesus, may I implore you to meet Him and get to know Him. It may not be as cool as becoming a Jedi, but it will be infinitely more important.

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I am wading in to waters that have already been stirred countless times over the ages by men and women far more knowledgeable than me, but permit me to share my thoughts (or just quietly ignore me…all two and a half of you). This is certainly not an exhaustive, or comprehensive, musing on the matter of faith and good works. Rather, it is just one morning’s worth of meditation on the subject.

A lot of energy seems to go into this debate, particularly among various groups that profess to be Christian. My casual observation is that Christians are split into two generic camps (with obviously a lot more distinctions as you look closer): the Good Works Christians and the Faith Alone Christians.

The Good Works group claims that faith means little if you don’t have good works, or you aren’t doing good deeds. The Faith Alone group asserts that your good works amount to nothing if you don’t have faith as the impetus for your good works.

On the surface neither group has it wrong, so to speak, but as philosophy gets put into practice both of these groups seem to miss out on what really matters: glorifying God.

The Good Works group looks with contempt at the navel-gazing Faith Alone folks because they aren’t doing as much as they are to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. The Faith Alone group scoffs at the Good Works group because their theology is a convoluted mess of feel-good self-help manuals that miss the establishment of a proper attitude toward God. (The best part of all of this is, in America, we take it out on each other on the battlefield of politics.)

Maybe that’s all an over simplification, but that’s basically my observation.

Why not be both? Well, that sounds nice but then we start to argue over which should be first, which is more important, etc. Again, it strikes me all as moot unless you keep one thing in mind: glorify God!

If the purpose of your good works is to bring glory to God, amen. If the purpose of your faith is to give glory to God, amen.

Let me have Paul speak for a moment:

Titus 2:11-14 ESV

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

In that passage he starts with people who have faith (the grace of God bringing salvation) and ends with people who are motivated to do good works. Not to mention all the good stuff in between.

In the next passage, he starts the same way, but takes care to exhort believers to live out their faith in a measurable way by doing good works.

Titus 3:4-8 ESV

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

So, have both. Do both. Or have one and do the other. Either way, faith and good works are not mutually exclusive and both are critical in order to call yourself a Christian. And keep in mind that we are Christ’s not because of our righteousness but because of God’s unsurpassable goodness and His unfathomable love for you.

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“We do these somersaults to justify the monster god we believe in,” he said. “But confronting my own sinfulness, that’s when things started to topple for me. Am I really going to be saved just because I believe something, when all these good people in the world aren’t?”

via Who’s in Hell? Michigan Pastor’s Book Sparks Debate About Eternal Torment – FoxNews.com.

Okay my Christian friends…discuss…

Surely, that each of the redeemed shall forever know and praise some aspect of the divine beauty better than any other creature can. Why else were individuals created, but that God, loving all infinitely, should love each differently?

From The Problem of Pain

This affirms that I am loved. I hope it does for you, too.

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In the February 24 entry from Our Daily Bread, Joe Stowell uses the well-known event of the voyage of the Titanic to make a poignant illustration:

It really doesn’t make any difference how the world ranks your status. The only thing that ultimately matters is whether you are “saved” or “lost.”

via What Really Matters | Our Daily Bread.

Follow the link to read more and decide for yourself if, at the end of your life, you will be counted among the “saved” or the “lost”.

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