obedienceismine

Insights from the joy of having peace with God

Archive for the category “Elder Josh Collins”

Reading Together: New Book!

7 Summits

Starting Monday April 18th we will be reading through Seven Summits In Church History by Jason G. Duesing.

Here is the description from Amazon:

The history of Christianity is like that of a great mountain range, with immense length comprised of peaks and valleys, enduring both stormy and prosperous weather. Certain figures in this history have risen to high peaks and represent significant moments in theological development. These figures are the hinge for major swings in the expansion of Christian thought. Duesing offers a quick, yet insightful introduction to seven of the highest peaks worth climbing in church history. His biographical summaries include Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Hubmaier, Edwards, Carey, and Henry. By examining the peaks of Christian history in these seven figures, this book engages several key issues without overwhelming the reader. It is brief but packed with pertinent information any student of history should know.

This book is NOT an in depth look at any of the men, but gives us a high level view at their impact. I fully expect it to give me an appetite to dig deeper into each person. I expect the same for you.

You can buy the paperback -or- Kindle version HERE.

Here is how “Reading Together” works:

  • We will read one chapter a week.
  • I will post observations on this blog each Friday.
  • You will be asked to share your observations and engage with others through the “Comments” section to my Friday post.
  • Together we will allow Dr. Duesing to take us on a brief journey!

Will you join us? This is open to ANYONE that wants to join so please share this post and get others to subscribe. Please post here in the comments field of this post to say that you are “In.”

Obedience is Mine. Results are His.

JMC

 

 

Star Gazing

“Blessed is the man

who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

nor stands in the way of sinners,

nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

but his delight is in the law of the LORD,

and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree

planted by streams of water

that yields its fruit in its season,

and its leaf does not wither.

In all that he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so,

but are like chaff that the wind drives away.”

Psalms 1:1-4 (ESV)

 

Living in the Hill Country outside of San Antonio I sometimes find myself sitting outside reading by a lamp post. We are far out of the city so there is actually a nice breeze that keeps it cool, a tranquil quietness that allows focus, and a lack of city lights to drown out the brilliance of the night sky. As I sat and read I took a break. The kind of break that we all need when reading something that is difficult so we can try to understand the words that we have just seen. I am reading a book written from another time and place. It was written by an English preacher and written in the 1950’s. As I took my pause to grasp on to what he was saying I noticed the night sky. Read more…

The problem with “Simple Faith”

“I have a simple faith.”

This past week I attended a charity luncheon. I go to many of these as well as nice gala’s for different charities. At each one there is an invocation. Usually it is not a “real” prayer and is a scripted advertisement for the charity. In this most recent invocation the prayer included two statements that made me cringe. The first was “Oh God who is father and mother to us all” and the second was “be with us as we all see the goodness within all of us revealed.” I know, I am just over analyzing the situation right? I brought up the statements to a fellow believer and they shrugged it off as “different” and they weren’t interested in picking things apart like that. They mentioned that they just have a “simple faith” and didn’t get mixed up in the complex issues. Read more…

You know what the problem is?

You know what makes me sick?  You know what makes me so mad I want to invent underpants for cattle – just so I can give a rodeo bull a wedgie? -Earl Pitts

Growing up I remember hearing the daily rant of Earl Pitts on the radio. It always started with the phrase “You know what makes me sick?” followed by a ridiculous phrase highlighting what he wanted to do due to his extreme frustration.

Our culture is amused by TV talking heads and radio personalities who vent their frustrations and give their advice on how to fix everything that is wrong. Think about it, when is the last time you heard a story on CNN or FOX that didn’t have a “problem” as it’s topic? (I’m sure there are some, but they are the exception to the rule.) Read more…

Beware the Straw Man!

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There are a lot of reasons in this life for people to disagree. We are all different. We have different convictions, tastes, attitudes, feelings, likes, dislikes, etc. For this reason we also have a lot of labels that define (roughly) us categorically. Read more…

Spiritual Orphans

Two years ago I watched a video on FB posted by a friend. He was in Asia for a year and had posted his monthly update in the form of a video. Something was different about this video update. I was struck with emotion and was given clarity on a few things that I had been restless about.

My friend had followed God’s call and had gone to Asia for a year  to live among people who have never heard the name of Christ. In his video he records students practicing English saying “Jesus loves me.” In other parts of the video he tells stories of how people in the states donated money so that their school in a village could have desks. One segment stopped me dead in my tracks as an unexpected wave of emotion came over me. Read more…

Biography Binge

A few years ago I was preparing to teach through Paul’s letter to the Roman church and stumbled onto the story of Martin Luther’s “Black Cloister” moment of salvation. (when he read Romans 1:16-17) I was fascinated that a monk could teach for years and then upon reading a relatively unknown and general verse could have his life changed forever. I read his biography and then became hooked on the conversion stories of some of history’s heroes. I read a biography on Charles Spurgeon and was blown away by how he was used by God in a critical moment in history. Then it happened. By it, I mean the publishing of Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas. If I had not caught the disease yet, I had a full blown case of biographical intrigue.

I broke away from the illness so as to try and somehow contain it, but this year the symptoms returned and there was no stopping my curiosity. I have now read biographies on John Wyclif, Adoniram Judson, William Wilberforce, George W. Bush (autobiography), and now C.S. Lewis (recently written by Alister McGrath). I now have the autobiography of George Whitefield on my bookshelf staring at me. It has sensed my weakness. Can anyone else sympathize with my condition?

This binge has been very eye opening. Here are some of the things that I have learned/observed in this time:

1. Every person that is regarded with heroic status has human baggage packed away in the closet. It is easy for me to place men and women in such high places of esteem that they seem saintly. In every case though, I feel like I have met real people who have simply been blessed with moments of grace by God to accomplish great things. They all had real struggles, sins, and issues that somehow make me feel like I still stand a chance to make a monumental mark in history because my failings are in good company.

2. The moments in history that define those who I read about were not regarded as great in the time that they occurred. There were some who applauded the accomplishments, but intense struggle was encountered in almost every circumstance. What we now see as heroic was once regarded as foolish. This gives me great perspective to view the “here and now” with humility and perseverance.

3. Hindsight is usually 20/20. It is easy to look back into history and see the glaring problems with things that are believed or done. Evaluating the sum of a person’s life will reveal blind spots and stains. I find myself thinking “they were great until they did that or until they said that.The fact is that we stand today on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. One of my favorite professors has once said that we should approach history with humility because of this very fact. Instead of judging the problems we find we should be grateful for the mistakes that they have made along with the victories that they have won. We inherit both for either warning or encouragement.

4. I see my story through the lens of theirs. By seeing the providential events in the life story of others I am able to identify moments in my own life that carry much meaning and value. What I mean by this is that I become aware of how some pivotal moments in my life will affect my future. The results of my decisions are yet to be seen. The importance of my obedience to God today will affect moments throughout the rest of my life.

I don’t think that I will recover from this condition so I will make due by finding more good life stories to dive into. I feel somewhat connected to those that I read about. One day we will be connected in eternal worship and I look forward to that day. For now, I will continue to connect with them through the stories of their lives while moving forward in humility and obedience in mine.

Obedience is mine. The Results are His.

Don’t Manage Your Stress and Anxiety

I know it all. Really. Ask my wife and she will tell you that I act as if I do. Sometimes I recognize this as pride, but other times I chalk it up to confidence. I pride myself on how “in control” I am in life and how little stress affects me. Correction: I used to.

Stress is not something I deal with often, but when it hits, it packs a punch. I know that many of you know what I am writing about. About 8 years ago I started experiencing dark periods of depression. I didn’t know exactly what was happening as I was usually known for my care free, easy going nature. I found myself in seasons of loneliness, indifference, void of feeling any emotion. In these moments I found that even knowing the truth of the Word did not mean that my body was able to believe it. I needed more than intellectual ammo, I needed the Holy Spirit. The good news is that He is always there. I am learning more about who He is and how great He is by my confrontation with how weak and depraved I am. I was starting to figure this whole thing out. But….

Recently I had some questionable news come back on a lab report during my annual physical examination. The info I received was so cryptic that I turned to the source of all credible information, WebMD. I knew this was a bad idea, but I clicked away anyways. If you are not familiar with the magnitude of this mistake please take note. Any symptom that you have on this site will show that it could be a sign of death, doom, and destruction. Out of hundreds of possibilities of what my reading could mean, my mind stuck on the worst of them, incurable cancer.

Within minutes my body literally went into panic mode and I experienced my first anxiety attack ever. For days I had no appetite, could not sleep through the night, and I even started to exhibit real symptoms of disease. After numerous tests my doctor could only tell me that the original reading that started this anxiety was a bad reading and that everything seemed to be fine. Right, like I could really believe that.

Finally I allowed myself to surrender to the thought that I was fighting a spiritual battle with physical weapons. I was trying to find ways to reduce my level of stress and anxiety through breathing exercises, stretching, walking, even praying. If I did enough of those activities I believed that I could “manage” the anxiety away. As I was reading through my Bible I kept reading commands given by God through prophets in the OT.

“Fear not.” 

I always thought of this phrase in Scripture as a kind suggestion. As I studied more I found that it was not a suggestion for managing problems in life, but a direct command. To go even further I found Scriptures that deal with anxiety and stress and found them to be commands as well. God does not command us to “fear not” and not to “be anxious” because he wants to help us experience a smoother ride in life. He commands it because it is not of Him. Because of this I was finally confronted with the fact that being apart from Him it did not proceed from faith, and therefore is SIN.

Paul writes in 2 Timothy 1:7 “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

Fear and anxiety are not from God. Therefore my reaction to fear and anxiety in my life should not be to try and manage it, but to hit my face before my God and repent of it. How freeing this is. The burden of worry is lifted. The pain subsides. Please make note that not all of my physical ailments have gone away, but they are no longer my burden to carry. I no longer need to worry about them because they are in the hands of my loving God. My job in this season is to live out His calling in my life. His job in this season is to bring about His will. Peace comes from not trying to do His job.

Obedience is Mine. The Results are His.

Joyfully Trusting Him in Drinking what He Serves

I recently finished reading the book Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas. (I know that I’m late to the party) If you have not read the book or seen the movie, it is a biography of William Wilberforce of England. Wilberforce is mostly known for his many years of pushing for the abolition of the slave trade in England in the late 18th/early 19th century. By reading the book I was able to see a greater picture of his life and see how he lived obediently and faithfully before God, trusting in Him to rule faithfully in his life. Much of his life was plagued by bad health. Along the way he lost many friends, mentors, family members, and even his wealth.

I was struck by a couple of quotes that Metaxas shared from the hand of Wilberforce as he experienced pain, struggle and loss in his life. As I was reading this I too was going through one of the most difficult times in my life, thus magnifying the impact of his words.

He writes:

“A kind of providence has enabled me with truth to adopt the declaration of David, that goodness and mercy have followed me all my days. And now, when the cup presented to me has some bitter ingredients, yet surely no draught can be deemed distasteful which comes from such a hand, and contains such grateful infusions as those of social intercourse and the sweet endearments of filial gratitude and affection.”

If you are like me, taking a cup to drink without knowing about it’s contents seems extremely odd. There is nothing worse than thinking you have one thing in the cup only to take that liberal first drink and it turn out to be something different. There is a level of trust involved in taking that liberal swig from a cup containing mysterious drink. It could be sweet, bitter, sour, spicy, putrid, or bland. Wilberforce though equates the quality of the drink to the trustworthiness of the server. If the cup is being offered by a Creator, Sustainer, Purposeful, Just, Loving God then it’s contents must be trusted and ingested faithfully and thankfully.

Once his daughter Lizzie died, her infant daughter was being vaccinated and Wilberforce offered the following:

“I was much impressed yesterday, with the similarity in some respects of my own situation to that of [Lizzie’s] dear little innocent, who was undergoing the operation of vaccination. The infant gave up its little arm to the operator without suspicion or fear. But when it felt the puncture, which must have been sharp, no words can express the astonishment and grief that followed. I could not have thought the mouth could have been distended so widely as it continued, till the nurse’s soothing restored her usual calmness. What an illustration is this of the impatient feelings we are often apt to experience, and sometimes even to express, when suffering from the dispensations of a Being, whose wisdom we profess to believe to be unerring, whose kindness we know to be unfailing, whose truth also is sure, and who has declared to us, that all things shall work together for good to them that love Him, and that the object of His inflictions is to make us partakers of His holiness.”

Life is perplexing. Death, illness, pain, and sorrow don’t discriminate between the believer and the unbeliever. Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. This is the vanity of life that King Solomon wrote about in Ecclesiastes. The reality of God changes our perspective and our condition. We are not lost without hope in times of trouble, pain or sorrow. God’s sovereignty gives us confidence and hope to drink the cup we are given with thanksgiving knowing that it is given us to drink by a loving, just and sovereign God.

Philippians 4:6-7 instructs us to not be anxious about the bitterness of the drink and instead thankfully lift our burden to God knowing that he will give us peace that will guard our hearts and minds.

I am reminded of our Lord Jesus in the garden the night of his arrest crying out to God that if the cup that He was to drink is given to Him by God that He would drink it faithfully, trusting in His Father.

In times of turmoil, stress and anxiety I crave rest. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30 to give our burdens to Him and that He would give us rest. Knowing that He is serving the drink gives me peace and rest knowing that it’s contents are purposeful and given to me by my Lord and Savior.

Like Wilberforce I am learning to focus on the server of the drink rather than on the drink itself.

Obedience is mine. The Results are His.

Inventors of Evil

As many people on the twitterverse have seen there is a trial unfolding in Pennsylvania involving Kermit Gosnell and his abortion clinic. There are many allegations that are shocking, disgusting, angering, and saddening. Despite a lack of coverage by major media outlets many are aware of the horrors that have taken place in this man’s clinic over the years. According to reports and witness testimonies hundreds of human beings have been murdered in the form of late term abortions, the severing of the spinal cords of children directly following their live delivery, and even two deaths of young mothers. Though this is illegal, the clinic operated without inspection for 17 years.

The stories of what took place inside the clinic are sickening and expose some of the most gruesome evil that exists in the world today. The evils of abortion, or murder, are easily identified by Christians as sins that are detestable to God. My spirit cries out in moments like this in agony longing for God’s justice and redemption. Admittedly, anger builds up inside of me along with heartache for the sins of this world. It even leads me to detest the sins that are still in my own life. Read more…

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stories and happenings from our simple life and occasional adventures in East Asia.