As the Summer of 2013 approaches, I’m working on my reading plan. I have forty something books that I own and have yet to read. It would be nice to take that number down, especially since with each passing year my library continues to grow. Last summer I was able to take one whole book off the list. But that was because my library was on the east coast and I pursuing noble quests on the west coast.
This summer I’d like to read at least five books. My hope is for more, but I would be content with five. I have a three phase plan in which I would like to achieve fifteen books. Phase one comprises:
- Rid of My Disgrace by Justin & Lindsey Holcomb
- Death by Love by Mark Driscoll
- Welcome to the Story by Stephen Nichols
- Disciple by Bill Clem
- The Humor of Christ by Elton Trueblood
Phase two comprises:
- Vintage Church by Mark Driscoll
- Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul Tripp
- Broken-Down House by Paul Tripp
- Free of Charge by Miroslav Volf
- Gospel Wakefulness by Jared Wilson
Phase three is simply any five books not yet read. So there you have it; my three phase plan to get reading this summer. I am excited about reading these books. Sound off in the comments below if there are any book(s) you’re particularly excited about reading this summer. Keep reading. Excelsior!
Awareness is the First Step to Change.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and educate communities on how to prevent sexual violence. My hope is that this post, short as it is, will raise awareness and move you to action, even if it’s just to tell someone else about SAAM.
What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is any type of sexual behavior or contact where consent is not freely given or obtained, and it is accomplished through force, intimidation, violence, coercion, manipulation, threat, deception, or abuse of authority. Sexual assault is not merely an event in time; it is a long-term experience that leaves a painful legacy. Sexual Assault brings suffering, mars your identity, and replaces innocence with shame.
For more info: What is Sexual Assault
FACT: 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused by age 18.
Sexual Assault is Real:
I could share story after story, video after video but here is one of victory:
Suffering, Identity, Shame:
Paul Tripp shares how the Gospel brings healing to all three:
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, my prayer today is you do not go to church. It is my prayer that you are the Church. Jesus died for the Church (Eph. 5:25). The Church is an identity given to us by Jesus. His resurrection proves that God accepted His life as payment for our sins. In light of our risen King, may we serve our neighbors (Mark 10:44-45), count others more important than ourselves (Phil. 2:3), and love one another (John 13:34) as we proclaim that Jesus is alive (Mat. 28:18-20). That is what it means to be the Church. I pray that we are the Church not just today, but every day. This is what we have been called to, this is what we have been redeemed for. It’s Easter. We celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. Because Jesus is alive we are the redeemed of God; we are the Church. Let us be it.
“Under the pressure of the total gift [of salvation through Jesus alone], we might actually begin to love God as God, our God, and to hate sin. Think of it: We might actually begin to dislike sin and to hope for its eventual removal. Ordinarily we feel guilty about our sins and fear their consequences, but we are far from hating them. I expect we do them, in spite of all fears and anxieties, because we like them. Sanctification under the invasion of the new [being], however, holds out the possibility of actually coming to hate sin, and to love God and his creation, or at least to make that little beginning. It is not that sin is taken away from us, but rather that we are to be taken away from sin- heart, soul and mind, as Luther put it.”
-Gerhard Forde, Five Views of Sanctification, p. 29
*Words in brackets added by me for clarity.
Confession: I quite often forget who I am.
Spiritually speaking, I have memory problems. I forget what my identity is. I have what Elyse Fitzpatrick would call, “Identity Amnesia.” And I’m not the only one. Israel suffered from Identity Amnesia too- and it’s what caused so much of the problems that they faced.
Here’s just one example from Exodus 14. In this chapter, Israel has just been released from 400 years of bondage to the Egyptians. It was God who freed them from their slavery by sending them an advocate named Moses to plead for their freedom. But who were Israel to God? They were His beloved and they were part of God’s promise to Abraham to have offspring more numerous than the stars. And it would was through His beloved people that God was working to restore all things. They were His people. Yet in Exodus 14 they forget that. And they forget that God has just released them from slavery. So when Pharaoh shows up with His army to throw Israel back in bondage they forget that God has a plan and purpose for them and wish that they were still in slavery. But God in His graciousness, saves Israel despite their unbelief and puts an end to Pharaoh’s reign over them.
So it is with me. When I forget that I am loved by God (1 Thes. 1:4
), that I am His- perfectly accepted because of Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21
)- I am prone to sin. I wander from my Father toward other, worldly things that I think will satisfy. I stand at the edge of life’s waters, wishing that I was back in bondage to the Pharaohs of my life- as if that would be far better. As if I am not God’s Beloved and He Himself will not raise up an advocate to stretch His arms over life’s waters- part them and set me safely on the other side- completely away from the dangers of this world.
If I remember who I am, then those sins become virtually obsolete. Kevin DeYoung gets at this in his message about Spirit-Powered, Gospel-Driven, Faith-Fueled Effort
By telling us the truth of who we are, certain sins become more difficult when we understand our position in Christ.
- If we are heirs of the whole world why do you envy?
- If we are God’s treasured possession, why are we jealous?
- If God is our Father, why would we be afraid?
- If we are dead to sin, why live in it?
- If we have been raised with Christ, why continue in our old sinful ways?
- If you are seated with Christ in the heavenly places, why do you live like you’re in hell?
The truth is that I am a son of God. I am not a slave; I am a son. And it’s when I remember who I am, that I am liberated from serving the god’s of this world. And I am free to live life and honour my Father as He ought to be. The truth of who I am- and who you are- is: I am more broken and sinful than I ever dared believe, and at the same time I am more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope, because of Jesus.
This summer I had the tremendous opportunity to go out to Tacoma, Washington to be a part of an internship called Soma Immerse. I feel like a completely new man because of it; my theology is sharper, my joy is deeper, my vision of Jesus is grander, and my spiritual life is livelier.
Before attending Soma Immerse, functionally I was living like God wanted me to clean myself up; That the Father sent His Son to forgive my past sins but now it is up to me to pick myself up by my bootstraps, clean myself up, and follow His rather-hard-to-follow rules. I say functionally because in my head, I believed that Jesus had done everything and could somewhat articulate that, but the way I was living reflected that that is not what I believed in my heart.
In all honesty, whenever I had a prideful thought, a lustful moment, or didn’t tell someone about Jesus- I thought that God was a little disappointed in me and perhaps loved me a little less. But while I was in Tacoma, I saw the Spirit and His role of pointing me to the finished work of Jesus, and I understand now, that’s not true. “For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14)” It is finished.
I understand now that I am a sinner- I don’t live up to God’s standards and am not perfect. Yet, when I have those prideful thoughts or don’t live up to what I feel is God’s standard- He’s not disappointed with me and He doesn’t love me less. Rather, Jesus lived a perfect life for me and died in my place. So that now when the Father looks at me, He sees me as perfect. He loves me perfectly; delights in me perfectly; and is perfectly satisfied in me. And because of Jesus nothing can or ever will change that. Just like doing good doesn’t make Him love me any more, failure doesn’t make Him love me any less. He’ll never love or accept me any more or less.
And realizing that, I am free. I am free to “do” the Christian life because I know that when I fail, it’s ok. Jesus died for that too. His perfect record is mine and continues untarnished. His yoke is easy and His burden is light and it frees us from the weight of following God perfectly because only Jesus can and did do that. I have no more bootstraps to pick myself up by, rather, I have Jesus.
This summer I’ve learned a lot about who we are because of Jesus. Here are three videos that show how three people’s identities have been shaped by the good news of the Gospel.
For a more in-depth look at each of these identities, you can read more here.
Also, be sure to check out Adam Hillyer’s (my friend who filmed and edited these videos) website: Storyline Film