Monday, November 29, 2010

Caleb Breakey: Redefining Teens into Rockstars

Hello Everyone!

I am sure you all know by now how much we love to recognize Rebelutionary endeavors and resources. Today, we present you all one of the rare findings that actually serves as both an endeavor and a resource. Caleb Breakey operates a website (consequently titled and devotes large amounts of his time to serving teens, more specifically, teen writers. Yet, his site and his heart holds so much more than just the dedication of his time and effort to looking over teen writers' work.

First of all, let us introduce you to the man himself. Caleb is a Rebelutionay by its very definition. Homeschooled for his youth years, his passion for writing continued on to college, where he achieved a journalism degree from Western Washington University at the age of twenty. Holding steady in the journalism career, he spent a season covering the New York Yankees, freelanced for the Seattle Times, and named a finalist for Sportswriter of the Year as a reporter for the newspaper he currently writes for, Lynden Tribune. His passion for writing does not end with journalism, however. He remains enrolled in the Christian Writers Guild's Craftsman Course, being immensely privileged with meeting and working with Jerry B. Jenkins this past summer. Sitting on his likely worn laptop (from all that writing) is two manuscripts, one a work-in-progress and the other written. Besides all of this, he continues to be a devoted follower of the Lord, an avid reader, attends several writing conferences throughout the year, and enjoys a blessed marriage of about three years to his wife, Brittney Breakey.

But, if you think this Rebelutionary is done following God's calling and his passion, you are dead wrong. Just this past summer, he felt called to start a website where he would teach others all the writing knowledge that he has obtained over the past so many years. Over at, Caleb offers teens his time and teaching in critiquing three hundred word excerpts of a novel, essay, poem, article, short story, or whatever else it may be. After taking the time to send the submission, along with answers to a few interview questions, Caleb will critique your work though a peer editing secession (where your work is posted on the site along with the interview questions and other teens can comment on it), a Vlog (a video of his thoughts on your writing and your strengths as a writer), and finally, an audio edit (an audio of him going through your submission and suggesting corrections to your writings). Basically, this is an opportunity for you, as teens, to get another person to look at your writing and gather helpful opinions on how to enhance it at no cost to you!

Well, no cost as far as money goes, that is. Being on this site does cost you something; it costs you time, heart, and humility. Caleb strives to lead by example, first encouraging, then humbly pointing out flaws sprinkled with the excellence of your writing, and finally, exhorting your piece once again. He asks you to do the same. You will get what you put into this site; you will receive what you give at this place. The order in which he critiques your work is directly based upon how many ladder jumps you obtain; and ladder jumps can only be sought by posting full sandwich and insightful comments (comments that start with praise, lead into critique and insight, and end with praise once again). As Caleb loves to point out, it is the teens that dedicate their time and their passions to Caleb's site the make it what it is, that make-up the encouraging, grace-filled, and heart-felt community thriving on

We (both Mark and I) highly encourage that you visit Caleb's website, leave a comment for him and the other writers, send in a submission, and/or join the forums. Caleb Breakey is a prime example of a young man who dedicated his life and passions to the Lord, exceeded the world's expectations, and followed his dreams. We cannot wait to see where the Lord takes Caleb's site and his talent in the future.

God Bless!

Kevin DeYoung: Why We Must Pursue Holiness

Hello all!

It's great to be back to blogging after a very blessed break for Thanksgiving. As fate and the usual hustle and bustle of a major holiday would have it, we weren't able to do much advance preparation for Rebelutionary Musings; so you must forgive us if we are a tad slow getting back into the full swing of things. :-)

As I contemplated the things for which I am grateful over Thanksgiving Week, pretty much all the usual things came to mind, but this year more than ever The Gospel was at the forefront of my mind. Two particular elements of The Gospel and the character of God were in the forefront of my mind: Power and Holiness. Specifically, the power and holiness of the Lamb that was slain to save me from my sin (definitely a chart topping thing I am grateful for). I was deeply struck by the realization that the power of the Lamb to overcome death and sin was a result of its holiness. Christ was the spotless lamb - without blemish - the sacrifice necessary to reconcile us to God "so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

Clearly, because we were conceived in sin we have no power of our own to overcome our sin or to renew our minds according to the holiness of our Lord, but the power to do so is available through Christ. That available power combined with the clear command to pursue holiness doesn't leave us with a whole lot of excuse not to.

However, if those two reasons to pursue holiness are insufficient motivation for us, Kevin DeYoung has written an excellent and challenging blog post titled "Why We Must Pursue Holiness" based primarily on II Peter. I definitely recommend you read it in its entirety.

For this post, I would just like to share his list of reasons absent his additional commentary.

I see in 2 Peter alone twenty motivations for holiness.

1. We pursue holiness so that we might become partakers of the divine nature (1:4).
2. We make every effort to grow in godliness because God has already set us free from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire (1:4).
3. We grow in grace so we will not be ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (1:8).
4. We pursue Christlike character so we will not be blind, having forgotten that we were cleansed from our former sins (1:9).
5. We work hard at holiness in order to make our calling and election sure, so that we will not fall (1:10).
6. We practice these godly qualities so there will be richly provided for us an entrance into the eternal kingdom (1:11).
7. We pursue godliness because Jesus is coming back again in great power, and we know this to be true because of the glory revealed on the Mount of Transfiguration and because of the prophecy of Scripture (1:16-21).
8. We walk in obedience to Christ because those who wander into sensuality are condemned and will be destroyed (2:3).
9. We are serious about holiness because we believe God knows how to judge the wicked and save the righteous (2:4-10).
10. We turn from ungodliness because those who revel in sin are ugly blots and blemishes, irrational animals, unsteady souls, and accursed children (2:10-16).
11. We pursue holiness because sin never delivers on its promises (2:17).
12. We pursue holiness because those who live in their sin again are like those returning to slavery, returning to the mire, and returning to vomit (2:19-21).
13. We must remember to be holy so we will not be drawn away by those scoffers who will come in the last days following their own sinful desires (3:3).
14. We make every effort to be godly because the world will not always continue as it does now; the heavens and the earth are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly (3:4-7).
15. We must take Christlikeness seriously right now because we do not know when the Lord will return (3:10).
16. We pursue holiness because all our works will be exposed on the last day (3:10).
17. We pursue holiness because whatever we live for in this life will be burned up and dissolved (3:11).
18. We strive to walk in obedience and repentance because in so doing we may hasten the coming of the day of God (3:12).
19. We live in righteousness now because we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness will dwell forever (3:13).
20. We pursue godliness so that Christ might be glorified both now and to the day of eternity (3:20).

I hope this list and post was of some value to you.

God bless!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gone for Thanksgiving

Hey Everyone,

We just wanted to forewarn the readers of Rebelutionary Musings of the absence of posts and articles this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday. This week will likely be filled with the preparations for visitors (or visits), meals, traveling, and long work hours. Thus, due to the fact that we greatly want to encourage the focus to remain on our families and our friends, fellowshipping and being thankful for all the Lord has given us, we are hereby announcing a relinquish of posts throughout this entire week of Thanksgiving.

Please do know that we will have some amazing posts lined up for you all next week, though. Do not miss the return of Rebelutionary Musings on Monday, November 29th.

We pray and hope that you all will have a blessed and joy-filled Thanksgiving.

God bless!

 1 Oh come, let us sing to the LORD!
         Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
 2 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
         Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
 3 For the LORD is the great God,
         And the great King above all gods.
 4 In His hand are the deep places of the earth;
         The heights of the hills are His also.
 5 The sea is His, for He made it;
         And His hands formed the dry land.
          (Psalm 95:1-5, New King James Version)

 1 Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
 2 Serve the LORD with gladness;
         Come before His presence with singing.
 3 Know that the LORD, He is God;
         It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
         We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
 4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
         And into His courts with praise.
         Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
 5 For the LORD is good;
         His mercy is everlasting,
         And His truth endures to all generations. (Psalm 100, New King James Version)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Godz Dancers: Sweet Hour of Prayer

Hello all,

Tabitha of the blog "Godz Dancers" posted a challenge that really convicted me and I thought should be passed on here.

Sweet Hour of Prayer

Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer
that calls me from a world of care.
And bids me at my Father's throne
make all my wants and wishes known!

In seasons of distress and grief
my soul has often found relief.
And oft escaped the tempter's snare
by thy return, sweet hour of prayer.

This summer I learned what an hour of prayer can do. It can clear a cluttered mind, bring peace to a stormy heart, and direction to a wayward soul. It is no wonder William Walford called it 'sweet hour of prayer' for after spending three score minutes in the Saviour's presence, or simply listening to His voice, one does not want to leave for the sweetness he has tasted. We ought to make an appointment with the Lord on our knees, and keep it. If we do not set aside the specific time for prayer we will rarely get around to praying at all.

Our lives are busy, I know. At this moment I can think of five or six things I could be doing, but if I were honest I could do nothing more effective or productive then spending this hour in prayer. To what avail are the tasks of life in comparison to communion with the Saviour?

Lord, may I thirst for thy fellowship, and thine alone, and may I increasingly discipline myself to spend 'sweet hours in prayer.'

Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer
thy wings shall my petition bear
to Him whose truth and faithfulness
engage thy waiting soul to bless

And since He bids me seek His face,
believe His Word, and trust His grace
I'll cast on Him my every care
and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer.

Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer
may I thy consolation share?
Till from Mount Pisgah's lofty height
I view my home and take my flight

This robe of flesh I'll drop and rise
to seize the everlasting prize.
And shout, while passing through the air,
"Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer

If we are honest, most of us probably (certainly) do not give the priority to prayer that we ought. That indicates how few of us desire to fellowship with the Lord as much as we think and say we do. Our desire for Him is reflected in our devotion to Him in all aspects of life. God doesn't demand perfect, but He does expect devotion and prayer is a good gauge of a person’s devotion to Him.

If I'm honest, prayer has always been a weak area in my life. However, it's strange that I should struggle in this area because, like Tabitha, when I've been faithful in prayer the fruit of that faithfulness has been very apparent. You would think the fruit I've seen would prompt me to faithfully pursue it. But, Satan and the flesh both cry out against communion with God and the pressure to do something other than prayer will always be great.

Most of us almost surely have much more time available to devote to prayer and meditation, it's just a matter of really and truly desiring to do so, and I'm speaking to myself first and foremost.

I challenge each of you reading this post to devote yourself to prayer, and I commit myself (Mark) to doing the same.

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2)

God bless!

Monday, November 15, 2010

What's Best Next: Why We Need to Give Creative and Competent Thought to Addressing Global Poverty Part I

Hello all,

I thought this post would be a good follow up to yesterdays post on productivity in which we established the connection between the Gospel, good works and productivity with the help of the Bible and Matt Perman. Today we will again turn to Mr. Perman for insight into another issue; the issue of poverty.


Psalm 41:1 says “Blessed is he who considers the poor.” In his commentary on the Psalms, Derek Kidner points out: “The word considers is striking, in that it usually describes the practical wisdom of the man of affairs, and so implies giving careful thought to this person’s situation, rather than perfunctory help.”

Tim Keller draws out the implications of this in Ministries of Mercy: “God requires not only a significant expenditure of our substance on the needy. We are obligated to spend our hearts and minds as well. . . . We are to ponder the condition of the poor and seek ways to bring them to self-sufficiency. This takes a personal investment of time and of mental and emotional energy. God looks for a willing, generous heart, which freely helps those in need, and what we give with our hands is not acceptable without it (2 Cor 9:7).

So we are to be eager, not begrudging, in helping the poor and we are to give thought to how to do this in a way that helps bring them out of poverty over time, rather than merely doing a few things here and there.

Both of these are related. For if we are eager to help others, including the poor, this implies that we will give careful consideration to how we do it, even creating plans and generating ideas and initiatives to serve with insight in ways that help over the long term. And it means, when possible, we will ultimately seek to address root causes rather than give relief only — as important as relief itself is, all on its own.

Job is an example of this. In chapter 29 he mentions how he not only provided relief to those in need, but also “broke the fangs of the unrighteous and made him drop his prey from his teeth” (v. 17). As Keller points out in his article The Gospel and the Poor, the prophets also denounced “corrupt business practices (Amos 8:2-16), legal systems weighted in favor of the rich and influential (Deut. 24:17; Lev. 19:15), [and] a system of lending capital that gouges the person of modest means (Lev. 19:35-37; 25:37; Ex 22:25-27).”

So we should both seek to provide relief and have a view towards helping the poor become self-sufficient, ultimately seeking to address the root causes that keep people in poverty.

Mr. Perman makes persuasive arguments for why we should care about the issue of poverty. Often the "root cause" of poverty is based in a need for the Gospel which adds a new and extremely important dimension to the issue of global poverty. However, the Bible itself speaks to the issue so clearly that it's a sad testament to our culture and church today that we need the 'Matt Permans' of the world to make this case and stir us to action.

For instance, Isaiah 58:10 says: "if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday."

Proverbs 41:1 says: "Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him"

Proverbs 21:13 says: "Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered."

In my own life, the most convicting passage in scripture relating to poverty has to be Matthew 25:31-40.

"31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' 37Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' 40And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me'."

If we need more reasons for helping and caring for the poor and hungry after that we have massive heart problems. I remember as a small boy, (*does his best old man imitation*) listening to thousands of hours worth of Your Story Hour with Aunt Sue and Uncle Dan (it is now Aunt Carol and Uncle Dan). I loved them then and still love them now, as I recall many of their stories that have stuck in my mind. I remember a bunch of their stock sound effects, the voices of their actors, and most importantly - the rich truths their stories illustrated and communicated to youths such as myself. The one story that I recall most vividly though, was the one in which they illustrated the the principle of "whatsoever ye have done to these the least of thy brethren ye have done it unto me". I can't recall the name of that exact episode and can't find it in their online store (it would take to long to give the details of the story itself...perhaps digging through old cassettes will yield some fruit) but I don't have enough space to tell you how vital that understanding was to a young mind (I was probably in the 6-10 year range when I listened to them the most) in compelling me to evaluate all my actions not in light of how I felt, but in light of what I was doing to and for Christ. I can point to that realization as one of the turning points in my walk with the Lord.

The point of that story, beyond indulging my reminiscent mindset, is to say that this is a powerful and simple truth that can and should impact servants of the Gospel from a very young age.

Yet, it seems more than a little absent in our culture.

How tragically sad.

May it never be said of us that when Christ was hungry and thirsty we gave Him neither food nor drink. Or, when Christ was a stranger, we did not welcome Him. That when He was naked we did not clothe Him and when He was sick or in prison we did not visit Him.

The calling is clearly laid before us. We should feed the poor, as many as we can, because we are doing it unto Him. Now, let us each go forth and live out Matthew 25:31-40!

Tomorrow or the next day we'll explore practical elements of how to feed the poor, so be sure to come back and catch Part II! :-)

God bless!

The Importance of Productivity in Our Christian Walk

Hello all!

Productivity is something we hear a lot about in our culture...but rarely do we ask the question "why should we be productive?" Of the three pillars of the Rebelution, the second is competence (the other two being character and collaboration) and productivity is a key element of competence, so this is a question we must consider.

Speaking more broadly, not specifically to Rebelutionaries but to Christians as a whole, this oversight of consideration is unacceptable in light of the command to do all things for the glory of God. Further, it is clear that God is not glorified by unproductive servants. Proverbs speaks very pointedly and frequently in condemnation of the slothful person, pointing to foolishness as the primary cause of slothfulness (Proverbs 6:6, 13:14 and 24:30-31).

Matt Perman has put a great deal of thought into the matter, so much so that he is writing a book, and I would like to draw on his thoughts from several blog posts to help us lay the groundwork for a Biblical and Gospel-centric view of productivity.

Here are a couple of his answers to questions asked in an interview with

Do you think Christians downplay the importance of productivity?

Yes, I think some do. Because we can think, Oh, it's not spiritual. You have to make a living and learn to do that job well. So I realized that I need to know more than theology; I need to know how to do my job well. That made me realize the importance of learning about the practical.

How does productivity fit with theology?

Theology gives significance to the practical. The practical helps advance theology. It's not that we have theology over here, here's practice, let's do these practical things that will help theology; rather, we can think theologically about the practical. That means we realize that the practical things we are doing are part of the good works that God created us in Christ Jesus to do. So when we're doing practical things, we're actually doing good works. That's a theological understanding of the things we're doing every day."

His answer to the second question brings Proverbs 22:29 to mind.

Mr. Perman makes an important connection for us in the answers above. Being productive isn't about getting ahead and glorifying our self, or shouldn't be. Being productive is about living out the Gospel in the form of good works and being competent and productive in those good works.

He further expounds in an article for his personal blog:

There are lots of reasons we care about productivity — we might want to have less stress, we might want to get more done in less time, or we might simply find the subject interesting in itself. And those are all good reasons.

But there are deeper, better reasons to care about productivity. There are, in fact, some amazing and incredible reasons to care about productivity that I am seeing almost no one ever talk about.

Chief among these reasons to care about productivity is this: Productivity is really about good works.

That’s worth saying again: Productivity is really about good works — which we were created in Christ to do (Ephesians 2:10) and which are to do eagerly and enthusiastically (Titus 2:14). That’s why productivity matters, and that’s why I write about productivity. My aim is to help Christians be effective in good works.
This changes how you think about everything.

It means that when you are getting your email inbox to zero, you aren’t just getting your email inbox to zero. You are doing good works. When you are going to a meeting, you aren’t just going to a meeting. You are doing good works. Everything that we do as Christians, in faith, is a good work.

And therefore we are doing good works all day long — and consequently need to learn how to be more effective in them so that we can be of greater service to others.

Matthew 5:16 says: "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

So it is through our works that our light is meant to shine and it is by being productive that we maximize our ability to shine the light of Christ through/by our works. It's a connected cycle of cause and effect. By being unproductive in our good works or in our callings, which (as a point of emphasis) includes all the tasks we are called to by God whether they be in the home, for our career, our education (school) or as part of our church, we are in essence "hiding our light under a bushel" (Matthew 5:15) when we are not productive disciples.

Do you see the sequence? Matthew 5:14 says" "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." Matthew 5:15 says: "nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house." Matthew 15:16 says: ""Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

Let's simplify that one more time.

1) We are the light of the earth. God has made us to be that. 2) Why would God light a lamp and then put it under a bushel? 3. Therefore, be a light! Be productive in the work we are called to do and God will shine through us!

It's extremely important to understand that works are not in and of themselves of value in the eyes of God. To believe that would be highly legalistic for, after all, our righteousness is as "filthy garments" (Isaiah 64:6) and we are saved by grace through faith, "not by works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 82:8-10). But, we must understand that we are created for good works (Ephesians 2:8-10) and we must be productive if we are to shine brightly and not put ourselves under a bushel.

In closing, let's turn once more to Mr. Perman for his thoughts.

In a nutshell, what is the most important and fundamental principle for being productive?

I would actually say: realize that you don’t have to be productive. By this I mean: your significance does not come from your productivity. It comes from Christ, who obeyed God perfectly on our behalf such that our significance and standing before God comes from him, not anything we do. Then, on that basis, we pursue good works (which is what productivity is) and do so eagerly, as it says in Titus 2:14.
When it comes to day-to-day application, the main principle is this: The key denominator of effectiveness is not intelligence or even hard work, as important as those are. It is the discipline to put first things first. You need to operate from a center of sound principles and organize and execute around priorities. This means that instead of prioritizing your schedule, you schedule your priorities.

Many thanks to Matt Perman for his insight into this important matter! It is my hope that you were in some way challenged and/or encouraged by this post to be a brighter and more productive light in His service!

God bless!

Friday, November 12, 2010

9Marks Blog: How Members Can Serve the Church On Sunday Morning

Hello all,

As Sunday approaches, the following blog post (only linked) from 9Marks offers simple and practical advice as to how we Rebelutionaries can help with and be more active in our local church bodies.

Honestly, if you are anything like me (Hannah), I often skip the preparation time before church. I either awake running late or forgot to complete some random task or the like. My mornings are rarely, if ever, organized and accomplished. Some of you may nod and go 'Yes, those are my mornings. So, do I really have to prepare for the church service?' Yes. I have personally found it vital to setting your heart straight before hearing the words of praise from the songs and the words of wisdom from the pastor. When we leave our hearts still swimming in the messiness of our households or our mornings, we are not always as fully tapped into His spirit as we should be. Sundays are blessings. For those of us who have a welcoming church body, those are blessings as well. There are many people out there that do not have what we have, that cannot have what we have.

Most of the suggestions fall into the "small things" category, but the small things in life and church are the building blocks for greater and larger things.

Thus, while this article definitely encourages us with 'small things' that will aid us in becoming more actively and intricately involved in our church bodies, there is so much more to this message. These guidelines give us steps; we must provide the heart. Church is a gift, something that could mean death for many others. Knowing that, would we not want to savor our experiences? Would we not want to prepare our hearts to enjoy it all to the fullest? Church is not routine, and it never will be. Let this article be a reminder of that, and let us have the hearts to really tap into our church bodies with overflowing zeal and joy this Sunday.

How Members Can Serve the Church on Sunday Morning

Many thanks to 9Marks for their helpful list!

God bless your weekend!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Serving: A Distraction to Listening? (Desiring God)

Hello all,

One of the harmful tendencies Rebelutionaries need to guard against (a logical by-product of working to do hard things and rebel against low expectations) is that of miplacing our priorities. It is very important that we work diligently, but at the same time we don't want to make the mistake of Martha, as told in the following blog post from Desiring God.

Serving: A Distraction to Listening?

Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her
. (Luke 10:42-42)

Jesus’ gracious rebuke to Martha haunts me.

"Martha was distracted with much serving" (Luke 10:40). But Mary "sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching" (Luke 10:39). Distraction is the enemy of listening. For Martha, at that moment, serving was a distraction. Serving became the enemy of the real good.

But that's not how it felt to Martha at the time. She thought she was doing the right thing. That's why she appealed to Jesus to exhort Mary to get off her rear and get busy serving. Martha was tired of carrying the load herself.

She was shocked to hear that Jesus didn’t value her serving as much as Mary’s listening.

A constant battle we face is letting the fragmentation of urgent demands distract us from the good of listening to Jesus. There is so much to do. If we believe things will change when we get on top of things, that we’ll finally have the time to listen more to Jesus after we’ve plowed through these demanding tasks hanging over our heads, we’re likely being deceived.

We tend to value the volume of things accomplished, and call that "productivity." God values the importance of things accomplished, and calls it "fruitfulness" (John 15:5). And here’s what’s important to God: that we listen to and believe Jesus. "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent" (John 6:29).

So beware of your perceptions. Listening often doesn’t feel like doing. But it might just be the most important thing God wants you to get done today.

Many thanks to Desiring God and Jon Bloom for the timely reminder!

God bless!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Reasons for Reason

"How do you give a reason for the hope that you have when the people asking you aren’t interested in reason?"

It's a good question and an important one. We are, after all, called to always "be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within, with gentleness and reverence" (I Peter 3:15)

Kevin DeYoung is on the front lines of the battle to give an answer that is faithful and true to the Word, and in todays featured post he relay's an encounter he had that highlights the challenge and need we face in this area.

This is a bit of an unusual post for this blog because we try to primarily put out posts that provide more answers and challenges. But, it can be hard to get a handle on the challenge ahead of us without examining it in real terms. This post was, to me, helpful in clarifying our challenge, thus my reason for passing it on. :-)

Here ye be!

Reasons for Reason

God bless!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dye2Live4Christ: do not be blinded

Hello all,

We've featured posts from Sam Dye's blog 'Dye2Live4Christ' before and would like to do so again. We love that Sam's posts are simply studies/commentary on passages of scripture. We need so desperately to simply wash ourselves in the word and not just "hit the hot spots" but so often forget to even open our Bibles. This is especially problematic in the blog world where people contend for readership with by focusing on the "interesting", the "intriguing" and the controversial.

It's refreshing to see and read blogs like Sam. In today's featured post, Sam offers challenging thoughts on being blinded by sin and allowing it to persist in our lives. This post caught my eye not only because it is challenging and rich in truth, but because my church (Mark here) just finished a teaching series on Nehemiah. In many ways, the theme of Nehemiah is rebuilding "walls" that have been torn down and casting the product of disobedience that was allowed to persist in Jerusalem. It (Nehemiah) is an extremely challenging book, so if after reading Sam's post you desire further challenging, go read Nehemiah. ;-)

Wednesday 9-29-10

"He did right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. The LORD struck the king, so that he was a leper to the day of his death." (2 Kings 15:3-5)

As I read this it struck me that Azariah could be so blind to his sin. In chapter 12 and 14 we see two other Kings of Judah do the same thing. They lived right before God, only they did not remove the high places. And as I pondered how either blinded he must have been, or he didn't truly care. I was convicted, how many times has and does God show me my sin and yet I continue in it. It seems to very well coincide with what I was reading in Proverbs 29 today, it says: "A man who hardens his neck after much reproof Will suddenly be broken beyond remedy." God is so merciful, it honestly boggles my mind that time and time again I sin against Him, and I right now the wrath of God is not bearing down upon me. Even more than that, Christ took the wrath of God for me, I sinned I deserved God's wrath, Jesus died and took that wrath and punishment for me! But let me not "presume" upon grace, for Romans 6:2 says that we who are dead to sin are not to continue therein any longer.

I will be the first to admit, I've been deceived by sin, by my own lusts. In fact the natural man is nothing but deceived, because his mind is set on the flesh and not God. Satan is called the deceiver of the world in Revelation 12. We are not called to complacency or conformity with this world but rather to the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:2), that we might have that mind which was also in Christ Jesus (Phil 2:5). We are also called to encourage, exhort and even reprove other brothers (and sisters as the case may be) in Christ, that we would become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Heb 3:13). However if we attempt to not be deceived in our own strength and have the mind of Christ by our own doing, it will fail. We see in Jude 1:24 that it is only Jesus who can keep us from stumbling and present us spotless and without blame before the Father. And ultimately it will be worth it all because one day we "we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is." (1 John 3:2)

Many thanks to Sam for his challenge!

God bless!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Desiring God: Drudgery Vs. Christianity

Hello all,

Let's be honest. Doing Hard Things is a great thing and it's exciting to read about doing hard things, attend conferences about doing hard things and talking with like-minded people about doing hard things. But in the everyday reality of life, doing hard things is...hard. When serving Christ should be an indescribable joy it often feels like drudgery.

While there are many reasons that our joy is turned to drudgery, I believe one of the most common is a misunderstanding and/or misapplication of the Gospel to our everyday life. We easily fall into the trap of legalism and self- reliance without even realizing it. On this tendency, Mark Priestap offers wise words by way of the Desiring God Blog.

Drudgery Vs. Christianity

It's easy to allow slavish obedience to muddy the gospel, isn't it? We discover something beautiful about Christ and the gospel, but then after some time, instead of it remaining transforming good news that overflows in worship and good works, we turn it into a means of gaining acceptance, once again taking up the yoke of our former master.

But obedience that flows from joy is so different than obedience that flows from duty! The first is delight upon delight, while the second is drudgery leading to death.

In Mark 12 a scribe says to Jesus, "to love [God] with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." To which Jesus responds, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." This scribe saw that obedience to God was deeper than externals and required love from the heart (which is far more demanding!).

What he hadn’t realized yet was that he was also incapable of heart obedience. He understood the law in principle but had not yet used it as a mirror.

Have you looked into the mirror of the law and learned that you cannot obey it? If so, praise God! Admit it to him and repent of ever hoping you could obey on your own. Then you will find rest. Christ didn’t come to call the righteous but sinners (Mark 2:17).

"But", one says, "I still have to live my life. I am duty bound to love my wife and children, work for my employer, and worship God regardless of my feelings or motivations." Yes you are, but "fleshing it out" is not obedience. In fact, it only adds to the sin (Romans 14:23).

In Christ, slavish law-keeping counts for nothing (Philippians 3:4-8) but "only faith working through love" (Galatians 5:6). "You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace." Repent, therefore, and believe the gospel; and let the duties of your life be carried out in the love that flows from this faith.

Moralistic duty is not only drudgery; it is part of a false gospel which must be cast aside.

Let us have confidence only in Jesus, that he alone is able to complete what he started:

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

May we never forget the power and joy of the Gospel as we seek to honor God!

God bless!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Renewing Thoughts: The Purpose of Suffering

Charlie Albright has posted an excellent fundamental examination of the purpose of suffering. I would like to post some of that article with preliminary thoughts and comments prompted in my mind by Charlie's post.

When approaching the issue of suffering, if we are to benefit from suffering, we need to first think about what suffering actually is. I don't pretend or aim to have a full answer to that question, but I would suggest that there are two basic types of suffering: the physical and the spiritual, and that both these kinds of suffering are designed to accomplish common goals in our life (dealt with later in this post). One type of suffering is physical and it is usually pretty obvious. It can be sickness, injury, disease, pain, persecution and other such things. Then there is spiritual suffering, or "affliction". This can include depression, doubts, unrest, sorrow, etc.

One article on suffering I read described suffering in a way I found thought provoking and insightful: "It is a tool God uses to get our attention and to accomplish His purposes in our lives in a way that would never occur without the trial or irritation."

I personally like that definition and believe it is very much in line with Biblical teachings on suffering.

Suffering can be for disciplinary purposes. We know that God chastises those He loves (Hebrews 12:4-7) to purify them (Zechariah 13:8-9) and to bring them back to Him. We also know that what we sow will be reaped (Galatians 6:7-8). I make these points because as young Christians it's important that we understand this truth so we will know to examine ourselves (II Corinthians 13) in the face of suffering and not assume that our suffering is unrelated to our sin.

Suffering can also happen for reasons we cannot see or understand. This is where Christians can (and frequently do) become easily discouraged and disheartened. Just ask Job. He suffered more than I can imagine for reasons he never fully understood. Yet, the fruit of his suffering was clearly evident. Thank God we can always be assured by the truth of Romans 5:3-5 but must understand that we don't always know why we suffer.

Because we can't know why we suffer, it is imperative that we understand and cling to the promises of what is accomplished through suffering. That is why posts such as Charlie's are important and why we are posting it here. So, without further ado, here is an abridged version of Charlie’s post. If you would like to read the rest (and I would encourage you to) please hop over to Renewing Thoughts and read it there.

The Purpose of Suffering

Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises dead. 2 Corinthians 1:9

The suffering Paul and his companions were experiencing at this time felt like a death sentence. The burden of their suffering had driven them to the point that they had believed the time had come for them to lose their lives.

In the midst of the despair and sorrow that surround Paul and his companions the God of all comfort came to them. The experience does not end in despair. Though, it does not end in immediate physical deliverance either. Comfort comes by the means of truth. There is a truth attained by the experience which Paul explains in the last sentence, “to make us;” This tremendous burden of suffering had a purpose. There was an aim, a goal that it was set out to accomplish. No suffering is purposeless. Far be it from that! Instead the very creator and sustainer of ever molecule has a purpose in every affliction in our lives. What is that purpose?

It is theological in giving us a correct vision of God

to make us rely not on ourselves;” The first aspect of this correction is in making us see that we are not God. We are not lords over our lives. We like to think that we are. We like to think that we are in control of each and every day. But suffering is the clearest demonstration that this is not the case. We are not in control.

but on God;” When suffering removes our reliance from ourselves the only place that is a sufficient rock is none other than God. Suffering brings us to the place where the only stable and sure foundation is the Lord of the universe. This is why God brings suffering, that it might drives us to Him!

who raises the dead.” It is not: rarely, maybe, sometimes. Our Lord always moves and works for His children. Our God is one who does mighty deeds and glorious works for His children. He never leaves them behind, but always fulfills the plan which he set out to do for them. Now, His plans are not our plans. Faith is holding on to this truth while waiting for the glorious plan of God to come to fruition.

Suffering is hard and painful, yet by faith we can hold to the truth that the purpose is more glorious than a life of ease. Let suffering drive us to Christ and His love!

To those words of wisdom I heartily say amen!

God bless and veritas supra omnis!