Our Lives, a Foretaste of the Extraordinary to Come

It is precisely because of this extraordinary hope, therefore, that we can embrace the ordinary lives God gives us here and now (Romans 8:19-25).  That’s enough to make even our ordinary lives a foretaste of the extraordinary revolution that is on its way.

– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 210-211

The 1 Percent – A Plea, A Pledge and A Promise – The Need and Nature of Prayer

Friends, I am interrupting my usual flow of interesting quotes (which I hope you all find provocative sometimes, uplifting always) to make a plea.  My plea is on behalf of a very close friend, Michael Garrett who just 4 days ago, learned that he may have cancer as a tumor has been discovered at the base of his brain stem.  Tests continue to gain better understanding of the nature of the tumor but as of now, the news has been more grim than hopeful.

So I am making a plea from any who come across this post to take a moment to pray fro Michael in his time of need.  Pray for the 1% chance they have been given that this will turn out to not be cancerous.  Pray that God’s will may become clear for all of us who love Michael and appreciate how he has served his many friends as a doctor (being a patient is not his forte, he likes to give answers and find solutions).  This is the Need of which I speak.

We submit this request to our Heavenly Father in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  This is the very Christ who is one with the Father and the mediator for all who call upon His name as repentant sinners in need of His Grace, first for salvation and then for sustenance in this fallen world.  And we do so because He made a pledge to His followers:

He told them a parable [the parable of the Persistent Widow (Luke 18:1-8)] to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.

Luke 18:1                                   

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you…You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide so that whatever you ask, the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

John 15:7; 16                            

The very One who created all that we see, all that we are, has pledged that the ear of our Father is always open to our request.  And I can attest that Michael is one who abides in Christ and Christ’s words abide in Michael.  Thus, these prayers will not return void.

Outside of the teachings of Christ on prayer, Paul, the greatest teacher and theologian, outside of Christ Himself, has given us a promise that we can trust:

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.  The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:5-7                       

As you can see, from the teaching of Paul and Jesus Christ, the nature of prayer is one of hope and peace.  And more than this, God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, has given us a Helper, the Holy Spirit (see John 14:26) even knows our needs when we don’t.

Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Romans 8:26                               

What a wonderful God we serve.  What a merciful God oversees the needs of His own, even Michael.  Would you join me in praying for Michael, first that the 1 percent chance this is not a malignancy but if it is, then doors would open to treatments (also gifts of God placed in the hands of doctors) that would benefit him whether at Duke or others we may not yet know of.  Lastly, we pray that the Garretts would so feel the love and care of God through this time, that they can rest in the peace promised and the comfort of knowing, whatever may be, it is good, because it is God.

Thank you all.

And That Christian Is All You Need to Know

In a roundabout way, our cries of grief are statements of faith that God in Christ is making all things new, that one day all that causes us pain and discomfort will be put away forever.  We’ve spoken about the danger of Romans 8:28; now it’s time for the beauty.  “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”.  And that, Christian is all you need to know.

– Tchividjian, Tullian; Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free; David C Cook Publishers, Copyright 2013, Kindle Edition, page 172-173

The Collective Need to Repent and Confess

To be clear, I absolutely believe in our collective need to repent and confess our sins to one another (James 5:16).  I am only cautioning against doing so outside the context of the countervailing, scandalous nature of God’s unconditional love.  It is, after all, “God’s kindness [that] leads you toward repentance” (Romans 2:4), repentance being nearly synonymous with honesty.  The confidence that “there is no no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1) is the engine that fuels honesty with one another, about both our ongoing sin and our ongoing suffering.  Fortunately, this is the good news that lies at the heart of the gospel.  But I disagree.

– Tchividjian, Tullian; Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free; David C Cook Publishers, Copyright 2013, Kindle Edition, page 71

We Are Not Telling Them to Transform Their Lives or Adopt a Self-Help Program…

We are not telling them (neighbors, coworkers, etc.) to transform their lives or to adopt a self-help program.  We are not even holding up our own experience as the big news that should move them to accept Christ.  They should not believe what we are reporting simply because they see that it puts a smile on our face or a spring in our step.  We are just announcing the headline: “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).  The news speaks for itself!

Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 124

Only Then Was Paul Cheered

The same apostle who said that we are justified (Romans 3-5) and have already been buried and raised with Christ in newness of life (Romans 6) goes on to relate his own experience of persistent failures in the Christian life (Romans 7).  Only when he takes his eyes off of himself and gives his ear again to Christ and his Word is the apostle once again cheered (Romans 8)

Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 107

Conformity is not the Cause but the Effect

The plain truth in Romans 8:29 is that God, before the foundation of the world, singled out certain sinners and appointed them unto salvation (II Thessalonians 2:13).  This is clear from the concluding words of the verse: “Predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son.”  God id not predestinate those whom He foreknew were “conformed”, but on the contrary, those whom He “foreknew”” (i.e. loved and elected) He  predestinated “to be conformed.”   Their conformity to Christ is not the cause, but the effect of God’s foreknowledge and predestination.”

– Pink, Arthur W.; The Attributes of God; Kindle Edition; page 25

What Praise and Gratitude Are Due

What praise and gratitude are due unto God for His divine decrees.  It is because of them that “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).  Well may we exclaim, “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things:  to Whom be glory for ever, Amen.” (Romans 11:36)

– Pink, Arthur W.; The Attributes of God; Kindle Edition; page 14

Known to God are All His Works From the Beginning of the World

The decree of God is His purpose or determination with respect to future things.  We have used the singular number as Scripture does (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 3:11), because there was only one act of His infinite mind about future things.  But we speak as if there had been many, because our minds are only capable of thinking of successive revolutions, as thoughts and occasions arise, or in reference to the various objects of His decree, which being many seem to us to require a distinct purpose for each one.  But an infinite understanding does not proceed by steps, from one stage to another: “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18).

– Pink, Arthur W.; The Attributes of God; Kindle Edition; page 10

Every Need We Have, He Supplies

But we are not without a Savior, Jesus Christ has come.  And he is a great Savior.  Every need we have, he supplies.  And his death on the cross is the price that purchases every gift that leads to deep and lasting joy.

  • Is there wrath and curse hanging over us? (Galatians 3:13)
  • Is there condemnation against us in the courtroom of heaven? (Romans 8:33-34)
  • Are there innumerable trespasses mounting up against us? (Ephesians 1:7)
  • Is righteousness required that we cannot produce? (II Corinthians 5:21; Romans 5:19)
  • Are we cut off from eternal life? (John 3:16)
  • Are we trapped in the dominion of sin that ruins our lives? (I Peter 2:24; II Corinthians 5:15)
  • Will all the follies and failures of our past drag us down with irrevocable, destructive consequences?  (Romans 8:28)
  • Have we lost all the good things God planned for his Children? (Romans 8:32)
  • Is there any hope that sinners like us could spend an all-satisfying eternity with God?  Can I ever come home to God? (I Peter 3:18)

– Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; copyright 2004; Crossway Books; Wheaton, Il.; p. 73-74