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Posts Tagged ‘kevin deyoung’

Conventional understanding of God’s will defines it as a specific pathway we should follow into the future. God knows what this pathway is, and he has laid it out for us to follow. Our responsibility is to discover this pathway – God’s plan for our lives. We must discover which of the many pathways we could follow is the one we should follow, the one God has planned for us. If and when we make the right choice, we will receive his favor, fulfill our divine destiny and succeed in life… If we choose rightly, we will experience his blessing and achieve success and happiness. If we choose wrongly, we may lose our way, miss God’s will for our lives, and remain lost forever in an incomprehensible maze. – Gerald  Sittser, “The Will of God as a Way of Life,” quoted by Kevin DeYoung in “Just Do Something”

This conventional understanding is the wrong way to think of God’s will. In fact, expecting God to reveal some hidden will of direction is an invitation to disappointment and indecision. Trusting in God’s will of decree [God’s sovereignty] is good. Following his will of desire [God’s Word] is obedient. Waiting for God’s will of direction is a mess. It is bad for your life, harmful to your sanctification, and allows too many Christians to be passive tinkerers who strangely feel more spiritual the less they actually do.

God is not a Magic 8-Ball we shake up and peer into whenever we have a decision to make. He is a good God who gives us brains, shows us the way of obedience, and invites us to take risks for Him. We know God has a plan for our lives. That’s wonderful. The problem is we think He’s going to tell us the wonderful plan before it unfolds. We feel like we can know – and need to know – what God wants every step of the way. But such preoccupation with finding God’s will, as well-intentioned as the desire may be, is more folly than freedom.

The better way is the biblical way: Seek first the kingdom of God, and then trust that He will take care of our needs, even before we know what they are and where we’re going. – Kevin DeYoung, “Just Do Something”

Needless to say, “Just Do Something” is worth reading and I can’t imagine that it won’t be beneficial. DeYoung is easy to read, humorous, and quick to the point of the book: Stop seeing decision making about reading the signs in the sky and start taking risks for the kingdom of God.

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This week: godly friendship, a secular perspective on evangelicals, the life of Paul, and thoughts on the market crash.

The Gift of Friendship and the Godliness of Good Friends (Parts 1-4) (by Kevin DeYoung)

Friendship is wonderful, and we all want it. But friends can be hard to come by. This is nothing new. A true friend has always been one of God’s most sought after gifts. “Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6). Thankfully, the book of Proverbs says a lot about friendship. It won’t help you find friends, at least not directly. But Proverbs will help you be a better friend. And the best friends usually have the best friends.

Evangelicals Without Blowhards (by Nicholas Kristof)

But in reporting on poverty, disease and oppression, I’ve seen so many others. Evangelicals are disproportionately likely to donate 10 percent of their incomes to charities, mostly church-related. More important, go to the front lines, at home or abroad, in the battles against hunger, malaria, prison rape, obstetric fistula, human trafficking or genocide, and some of the bravest people you meet are evangelical Christians (or conservative Catholics, similar in many ways) who truly live their faith.

Paul’s Downward Trajectory (by Justin Holcomb)

Do you see the trajectory as Paul matures in faith? This is what happens when you boast in Christ alone. Your weakness becomes more evident. You can’t help but make much of Christ and little of self. That is maturity according to Paul—boasting in nothing but Christ’s grace and our weakness.

Why the Market Meltdown is Crazy (by James Altucher, Freakonomics)

So, don’t read the news; don’t panic. How many people in San Francisco took iodine pills because newspaper headlines (The New York Times, for instance) were talking about the “radioactive plume” that was going to hit San Francisco the week after the Japanese earthquake? Not many, I think.
My take: Relax. Eat a doughnut. Enjoy the weekend.

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This week: Lots of encouraging words from TGC – not on purpose, it just turned out that way – on the gospel, manliness, and winning with our kids.

The Subjective Power Of An Objective Gospel (by David Zahl & Jacob Smith)

The Gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:3-4) is good news, however, and good news for people with real problems. And it does tangibly address the subjective realities of suffering people – thank God – which is where most of us actually live. But it is helpful because it is true, not the other way around. One comes before the other. The Gospel is an objective word that has subjective power.

Play the Man (by Kevin DeYoung)

Driscoll’s mistake was not in taking the problem of effeminate men too seriously, but in making a flippant comment about something he knows to be a serious problem. In a day when certain men—from pirates to figure skaters to stand up comedians—wear eyeliner, and the typical sitcom dad is a henpecked oaf, we are overdue for some hard conversations about what manhood is supposed to look like.

Christ Died for the Sins of Christians Too (by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt)

The preaching was not, as it should have been, a proclamation of God’s grace to them because of the finished and atoning death of Christ-God’s grace for them as Christians. That emphasis is desperately needed. But the only way we can recover this message is by ceasing to read the Scriptures as a recipe book for Christian living, and instead find within the Scriptures Christ who died for us and who is the answer to our unchristian living. We must have that kind of renewal (a renewal, which not surprisingly, was important to the reformers, as well), and it can only come if we realize that the gospel is for Christians, too.

Why Youth Stay in Church When They Grow Up (by Jon Nielson)

The common thread that binds together almost every ministry-minded 20-something that I know is abundantly clear: a home where the gospel was not peripheral but absolutely central. The 20-somethings who are serving, leading, and driving the ministries at our church were kids whose parents made them go to church. They are kids whose parents punished them and held them accountable when they were rebellious. They are kids whose parents read the Bible around the dinner table every night. And they are kids whose parents were tough, but who ultimately operated from a framework of grace that held up the cross of Jesus as the basis for peace with God and forgiveness toward one another.

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Most people in the pew are simply not acquainted with the doctrine of justification. Often, it is not a part of the diet of preaching and church life, much less a dominant theme in the Christian subculture. With either stern rigor or happy tips for better living, “fundamentalists” and “progressives” alike smother the gospel in moralism, through constant exhortations to personal transformation that keep the sheep looking to themselves rather than looking outside of themselves to Christ… – Michael Horton, “Does Justification Still Matter?”

“First Things First” by Tullian Tchividjian is an immensely helpful article when it comes to the significance of our understanding of our justification. The article springs out of a friendly discussion between Tchividjian and Kevin DeYoung about the importance of justification in relation to making an effort to grow in godliness. DeYoung argues that justification is critical but that we still need to “make every effort” and work hard to grow spiritually. Tchividjian agrees that hard work is necessary but argues that understanding our justification is a key “effort” that needs to happen if we want to grow:

What is indisputable is the fact that unbelief is the force that gives birth to all of our bad behavior and every moral failure. It is the root. “The sin underneath all sins”, said Martin Luther, “is the lie that we cannot trust the love and grace of Jesus and that we must take matters into our own hands.” Therefore, since justification is where the guillotine for unbelief and self-salvation is located–declaring that we are already righteous for Christ’s sake–we dare not assume it, brush over it, or move past it. It must never become the backdrop. It must remain front and center–getting the most attention.

Justification: We Don’t Get It

Justification is much too often assumed and not enjoyed. I’ve seen this in my own life. I think I have always understood my forgiveness (though certainly not the depth of it!) in Christ but justification not half as well. I think I really started thinking about it more after I sat through a message by Tim Keller 2 years ago. Most of the time I think we act like convicted felons recently released from prison. Our slate has been wiped clean but now we better find a job and make a new life. We may have been exonerated but there’s always that mark on us. We better earn our way from this point forward.

Justification: We’d Rather Earn It

We may never say that out loud but we live that way. Our flesh, especially in a “Meritocracy” like America, is prone to be works and guilt driven rather than walking in grace and in our justification. We have more control that way. It’s more focused on us. It’s less messy. It feels safer. I’d much rather say, “Look at all that I’m doing for God! I am a beast in the kingdom!” than, “I am nothing but for the grace of God and I have everything through that grace, completely undeserved.” We accepted the gospel and turned to Christ but now we want rules and simple obedience. However, it doesn’t work.

The greatest danger facing the church is not that we take the commands of God lightly. To be sure, that is a bonafide danger but it’s a surface danger. The deep, under the surface danger (which produces the surface danger) is that we take the announcement of God in the gospel too lightly. The only people who take the commands of God lightly are those who take the gospel lightly–who don’t revel in and rejoice over what J. Gresham Machen called the “triumphant indicative.” Beholding necessarily leads to becoming. Or to put it another way, this wonderful and neglected view of justification by grace alone through faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone that I am championing does not deny the impulse toward holiness. Rather it produces it!

Justification: The Power to Rest is the Power to Grow

Later, Tchividjian goes on about the law versus the gospel…

The law now serves us by showing us how to love God and others and when we fail to keep it, the gospel brings comfort by reminding us that God’s infinite approval doesn’t depend on our keeping of the law but on Christ’s keeping of the law on our behalf. And guess what? This makes me want to obey him more, not less! As Spurgeon wrote, “When I thought God was hard, I found it easy to sin; but when I found God so kind, so good, so overflowing with compassion, I smote upon my breast to think that I could ever have rebelled against One who loved me so, and sought my good.”

Therefore, it’s the gospel (what Jesus has done) that alone can give God-honoring animation to our obedience. The power to obey comes from being moved and motivated by the completed work of Jesus for us. The fuel to do good flows from what’s already been done. So again, while the law directs us, only the gospel can drive us.

Don’t read those thoughts lightly. Motivation by works and by rules is motivation by fear and guilt. As a parent, I think about the limits of that motivation. Fear and guilt only go so far and I’d rather not have it that way. I’m convicted by how much I default to threats and the use of discipline but I don’t want it that way. I want my kids to be motivated to obey my wife and I out of a trust and love for us (and for God), understanding how much we care for them. I want my kids to believe that we have good for them and will provide it at the best time possible.

Fear gets us only to do just enough not to face wrath. Love empowers us to creativity and the second mile. This is what God desires in us. If God desired us to be primarily stirred up by fear of his wrath, Jesus would not have come to us as a humble, poor carpenter who consistently called attention not to his miracles but to his coming death and ransom for sin. He certainly would not be the one who told us that he plans to show us the extent of his kindness towards us for all of eternity.

When we start establishing our own justification, instead of trusting in our already completed justification in Christ, we dissolve into fear and away from love and grace. We also make it about ourselves and not God. At that point, what exactly are we growing in and why? Is life about our own perfection or knowing Jesus?

It’s very important to remember that the focus of the Bible is not the work of the redeemed but the work of the Redeemer. When the Christian faith becomes defined by who we are and what we do and not by who Christ is and what he did for us, we miss the gospel–and we, ironically, become more disobedient.

As Tim Keller has said, “The Bible is not fundamentally about us. It’s fundamentally about Jesus. The Bible’s purpose is not so much to show you how to live a good life. The Bible’s purpose is to consistently and constantly show you how God’s grace breaks into your life against your will and saves you from the sin and brokenness otherwise you would never be able to overcome.”

Read the whole discussion:

Make Every Effort (by Kevin DeYoung)

Work Hard! But in Which Direction? (by Tullian Tchividjian)

Gospel-Driven Effort (by Kevin DeYoung)

First Things First (by Tullian Tchividjian)

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This week: date nights and devotions, mission to the suburbs, more on female identity from Wendy Alsup, and a postscript on the resurrection from Kevin DeYoung.

Open Bible

Date Nights & Devotions (by Tim Challies)

What if the point of devotions is less about learning about God and more about spending time with God? What if it’s less about Bible study and more about building relational intimacy? What would change about our devotions if instead of trying to learn about God, we focused instead on spending time with God, time spent hearing from him through his Word and speaking to him through prayer? If this is the case it doesn’t much matter what we remember at the end of it because the joy has been in the moment, the value has been in the time spent together.

Mission: Suburbs (by Casey Cease)

The question is whether you will make disciples as you go, or will you wait for other, more professional people, to do it for you?  Let’s not fall into the suburban stereotype of outsourcing local missions, rather, let us invest into our communities, connect with our neighbors, and continually strive to be intentional about seeing lives transformed by Jesus.

The Gospel and the Bikini Barista (by Wendy Alsup)

We have adopted many Christ-less coping mechanisms for dealing with these desires the curse predicts. Instead of finding in God love and affirmation that satisfies, we have in our craving apart from Christ repeatedly carved out cisterns for ourselves, “broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13). For some it’s control and manipulation. I’ve been there, especially in my marriage. I thought if I manipulated things, I could get my husband to better meet my needs. But manipulation and attempts at control are as ineffective for meeting the needs in my heart as the bikini barista’s are for hers.

A Resurrection Postscript: Saved by Justice (by Kevin DeYoung)

The resurrection is not a sentimental story about never giving up, or the possibility of good coming from evil. It is not first of all a story about how suffering can be sanctified, or a story of how Jesus suffered for all of humanity so we can suffer with the rest of humanity. The resurrection is the loud declaration that Jesus is enough–enough to atone for your sins, enough to reconcile you to God, enough to present you holy in God’s presence, enough to free you from the curse of the law, enough to promise you there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

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This week: excellent thoughts on parenting by Kevin DeYoung, some closing thoughts on the death of OBL by Doug Wilson, and 2 must read articles discussing the increasing effect of pornography, including Russell Moore giving some steps overcome it in our churches.

Parenting 001 (by Kevin DeYoung)

I worry that many young parents are a) too adamant about the particulars of their parenting or b) too sure that every decision will set their kids on an unalterable trajectory to heaven or hell. It’s like my secretary at the church once told me: “Most moms and dads think they are either the best or the worst parents in the world, and both are wrong.” Could it be we’ve made parenting too complicated? Isn’t the most important thing not what we do but who we are as parents? They will see our character before they remember our exact rules regarding television and twinkies.

Seven Thoughts on the Assassination of Bin Laden (by Doug Wilson)

As I have written before, we must not allow our awareness of our own sinfulness, and the fact that all of us die as a result of that sin, to flatten the distinctions between sins. There is such a thing as great evil, and to recognize the fact is not the equivalent of denying that you yourself have sinned.

Arousing Ourselves to Death (by Russell D. Moore)

An incarnational picture of sexuality, rooted in the mystery of the gospel, is the furthest thing possible from the utilitarian ugliness of pornography. Our first step must be to show why pornography leaves a person, and a culture, so numb and empty. Human sexuality is, as our colleague Robert George put it, more than “body parts rubbing against one another.”

Pride and Prejudice and Porn (by Mark Mitchell)

Admittedly, Austen’s world is idealized, yet consider this: who would you prefer your daughter to bring home? 1) a young man whose sexual imagination has been formed by Jane Austen along with Homer, Virgil, The Song of Solomon, Dante, and Shakespeare or 2) a young man who has spent the last ten years of his life fantasizing about women whose images he has objectified and consumed through pornography? Who will make a better husband? A better lover? A better father? That so many of our young men are being shaped by pornography does not bode well for our young ladies or for our society as a whole. If we are witnessing the passing of the gentlemen, there is much to lament. Although the path is difficult and the outcome uncertain, perhaps it’s time for the gentleman to stage a comeback.

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This week: God using Survivor? Some solid personal notes to bookend the current discussion of hell by Tim Challies, Wilson blows up some conventional wisdom, and how not to just drift away from Kevin DeYoung.

‘Survivor’ Update: Hat Tip to the Almighty (by Mark Morning, CT): My wife and I are fans of this show and after we watched the episode that aired this past Wednesday, I was intrigued by what Julie shared and wondered if she meant it. From this article, it looks like she did!

I Hate Hell (by Tim Challies)

I hate hell. I hate that it exists and hate that it needs to exist. I’m amazed to realize that, when we are heaven, we will praise God for it and that we will glorify him for creating such a place and for condemning the unsaved to it. But for now I am too filled with pride, too filled with sin to even begin to justly and rightly rejoice in the existence of such a place of torment. I cannot rejoice in such a place; not yet. It is just too awful, too weighty. And I know that I deserve to be there.

Seven Memes for Keeping Christians in their Place (by Douglas Wilson)

Darwinian evolution is actually the funniest thing I ever heard of. It is so dumb that the average Christian needs at least three years of graduate study from white-haired profs to get adjusted to it.

Lest We Drift Away: A Sermon for Good Friday (by Kevin DeYoung)

Most church people drift away from God not because they meant to, but because they got busy, they got lazy, they got distracted, they had kids, they got a mortgage, a few illnesses came, then some bills, then the in-laws visited for a week, then the mini-van broke down, and before you knew what was happening the seed of the word of God had been choked out by the worries of life.

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