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Living and Finishing Well in Christ

April 22, 2012

I know I speak for all of us when I say I will miss him. He was a dear brother who literally would give the shirt off of his back to one in need. I’ve no doubt he was sometimes taken advantage of because of his generosity, but he didn’t seem to mind. He would go anywhere and meet anyone if there was a remote chance to share the gospel. To him there were only two kinds of people in the world: those who had come to know Jesus, and those who needed to come to know Jesus. Social status, race, educational level, past mistakes, none of it mattered to him, only Jesus. Long ago he had learned what it was to die to self and live in Christ and by Christ and through Christ, and this last week he showed what it is to finish well in Christ.

At age 18 he had every reason to live for himself. A gifted athlete. Bigger and stronger than any of his peers, he was living every young mans dream. His future seemed tied to his ability to throw a football and scramble from a pocket. Then cancer came calling…..and the treatment to eradicate it. Suffice it to say, his athletic career was over. Life had taken a very different course. The cancer was halted, but at a terrible cost. For the next 28 years he would endure the battle wounds of the cancer’s defeat.

Many, if confronted with his future, would have been driven to despair and bitterness. But that was not the future God had for him. His feet became planted on the rock of Jesus and his physical affliction only caused him to embrace the cross that much harder. I once told him that he will be easy to identify in the resurrection because his body will be covered with splinters from hugging the cross. He who had basked in athletic glory now was driven by bringing glory to his Savior. Anytime, anyplace Jesus could be exalted he was ready to give an answer for the hope he had. He had learned through his affliction to live well in Jesus. He had become a mighty man in Christ.

I really wasn’t that surprised to read D.M.’s email of his conversation with him a week ago. He was preparing to begin the process of receiving an artificial heart yet asked for prayer to be bold in the number of witnessing opportunities the prep would bring. He was afflicted, but not crushed; …struck down, but not destroyed. Jesus was on his heart, mind and lips.

He never got the opportunity to tell the last dozen doctors and nurses about his Lord as he was called home. I’m certain he made a name for himself in the hospital as ‘the big guy who always wanted to talk about Jesus’, the same way we knew him. More importantly, I feel certain he made a name for himself in heaven as the big guy who loved Jesus. I’ll miss you Lyle. You taught me a great deal. Especially what it is to finish well. I’ll look for the big healthy athletic guy seated at the banquet. I’ll know it’s him by the splinters.

Steve, for Jeremy, Brad and Tony

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Taking a Break from Blogging

August 19, 2011

Well, this may come as a disappointment to all 5 of you readers out there, but I’m not going to keep up on this blog for a while. I don’t have a plan to resume any time soon. Other ministry items are pulling me different directions. And as far as this being a means of edification to the church (and Church), I don’t think it’s the best use of time. And there are some other folks whom I find much more edifying that I’d suggest you read too!

Here’s 2 of my favorites:
Justin Taylor
Desiring God

Too Good (and Simple) to Be True

August 18, 2011

For as much thought we give to the Christian life, and the complexity in which we tend to see as we look at our lives entangled, Jesus’ “key to success” (=joy, fruitfulness, peace, relationship with the Father) is quite simple: “Abide in me and let my words abide in you.”

That’s it! If it feels like your life is fruitless, pointless, hopelessly confused, here’s your cure, “Abide in Him.” How? By meditating on His words and commands, and do them.

Read John 15 again. It’ll do your spirit good.

Free AudioBook: Hannah Coulter

August 13, 2011

This month’s free book from Christian Audio is Hannah Coulter, a Christian romance novel.

Read this great post from Russell Moore (one of my old seminary profs) on why Christians should read great Christian fiction, and trash anything less than the best.

Work and Vocation to the Glory of God

August 12, 2011

A great snippet from John Piper for everyone who has a job. HT: JT

Pastor John from 1988:

I have in mind at least five things—five ways to make God known through your secular job and all of them are important. When one of them is missing, the witness to the truth of Christ suffers.

1. The excellence of the products or services you render in your job shows the excellence and greatness of God.

2. The standards of integrity you follow at your job show the integrity and holiness of God.

3. The love you show to people in your job shows the love of God.

4. The stewardship of the money you make from your job shows the value of God compared to other things.

5. The verbal testimony you give to the reality of Christ shows the doorway to all these things in your life and their possibility in the lives of others.

Erasing Hell, Love Wins, and beauty

August 5, 2011

THIS is a great review and insight into the spiritual battle in our day. Rob Bell wrote Love Wins, in which he puts forth a Christianity without a doctrine of hell (or a doctrine of hell that says there isn’t one). Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle respond with Erasing Hell. Trevin’s review should provoke some thinking on your part. Maybe a point for point refutation isn’t at all what’s needed. Maybe that’s deficient. Don’t get him wrong, Chan’s book is great. He raises a different question about apologetics and Christian testimony than Chan is trying to address. Here’s an excerpt:

Chan and Sprinkle have put forth a historically orthodox understanding of hell, demonstrating the biblical foundation for their views. But Bell challenges this understanding by seeking to appeal to a more beautiful vision of God. The tragedy of Love Wins is that the character of God as described by Bell isn’t, in the final instance, much more than a glorified vision of 21st century man.

The problem with the responses to Love Wins is that, while we are experts at critiquing Bell’s vision of God, we aren’t stepping up with a more compelling portrait of God’s magnificence. We are scribbling down our thoughts under Bell’s chalk drawing instead of taking up the paint brush and creating something that reflects the beauty of biblical truth.

We can write 50-page criticisms of The Shack. Meanwhile, men and women like William Young continue to craft great stories. We grasp the issues, but others grasp the medium.

Beyond that, we often appear pedantic in the grasping of these important issues. In the study of the communication arts, there is a part of the brain known as Brocha’s Area which acts like the gateway to whether people actually listen. Surprising or intriguing Brocha is one way to get that door to open – something that art in its many variations is capable of doing.

Erasing Hell is functional, but not beautiful. From a functional point of view, I recommend it. But I think we need to be pushed on the beautiful side of this equation as well. The gospel shouldn’t shut down our imagination, but rather fuel it and direct it toward the beauty that is inherent to the truth. We need more than analysis; we need artistry.

I’ve heard N. D. Wilson’s Notes from a Tilt-a-whirl gives it a go: beauty, wonder, and apologtetics all rolled up in one.

You, Christian, are Chosen as His Choice Vessels

August 3, 2011

In Ps 60:7-8, David says the tribes of Israel are “mine”, “mine”, “my helmet”, “my scepter”. But the foreign nations, his enemies are “his washbasin”, a place to “cast my shoe”, a place he triumphs over.

All who are in Christ are the true Israel. That’s you who believe in Jesus. You are his chosen instrument. Your value is that he has bestowed his glory and strength on you by making you His and using you for His good purposes and plans. You are useful to Him, specifically for His plans to conquer all His enemies (which goes beyond mere physical enemies to sin and death itself). Go conquer! God in the strength of His might! Let that purpose consume your thoughts and desires.

“With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes.” Ps 60:12

And that through His people as we just read!