“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” -Eph. 2:8-9
“The world is by no means averse to religion. In fact, it is devoted to it with a passion. It will buy any recipe for salvation as long as that formula leaves the responsibility for cooking up salvation firmly in human hands. The world is drowning in religion. It is lying full fathom forty in the cults of spiritual growth, physical health, psychological self-improvement, and ethical probity–not to mention the religions of money, success, upward mobility, sin prevention, and cooking without animal fats. But it is scared out of its wits by any mention of the grace that takes the world home gratis.” -Robert Capon
Here are some thoughts from my meditation on Ephesians 6:10-18.
Belt of Truth: Belts hold your clothes on thus keeping you from shame, feeling dirty and/or violated; So it is with Truth.
Breastplate of Righteousness: Protect your heart with Christ’s righteousness; Just as you need external armor, you need an external righteousness because yours isn’t sufficient.
Shoes of the Gospel of Peace: Carry the gospel everywhere you go; Just as shoes protect your feet while you walk hard roads, the gospel protects you as you walk life’s hard roads.
Shield of Faith: Faith is the shield which protects believers against “flaming darts” or lies.
Helmet of Salvation: The world will bombard you with false saviors and false paths of salvation; protect your mind with the salvation that Jesus gives.
Sword of the Spirit: We only have one weapon in this world, and it is the Word of God.
Praying Always: Prayer is our communication with the One who has already won the war.
Picture Credit: Armour of God
Have you ever listened to yourself pray? I found that I learn a lot about what I actually believe by simply listening to my prayers. By ‘listening’ I mean more than hearing; I mean paying special attention to the words that you use and asking yourself, “Why did I say it that way?” I was practicing this on my drive to work and caught myself praying, “God would you be with me today?” And God, in His graciousness, reminded me that He is with me, always.
That’s what the Gospel is about. It is about us getting God, though we don’t deserve Him. Jesus’ title of Immanuel means “God with us.” And Jesus’ last recorded words to His disciples are, “I am with you always.” As Christians we can stand on the truth that God is with us, every minute of every day. “God secured that promise in Christ and sealed it with His Holy Spirit .”
Yet, daily distractions and sin make us feel as if God is not near. What I meant in my prayer was that God would be with me in the midst of those distractions and sin. But the truth is that He is with me. I don’t need to ask Him to be with me because He already is. He is with us always.
Now in my praying, I thank God for being with me and ask that I be aware of His presence. I want to rely upon Him and His power, not my own, so that my words and actions point to Him. That those around me would see and believe that the Gospel is true and know God is with us always.
1. Thanks to Mike Wilkerson for this quote. Redemption. Mike Wilkerson, p. 166
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.