Thanking God for Orifices- Bill Allison

An ancient prayer of thanksgiving that is to be said after using the bathroom…

“Blessed is he [God] who formed man in wisdom and created in him many orifices and cavities. It is obvious and known before your throne of glory that if one of them were to be ruptured or one of them blocked, it would be impossible for man to survive and stand before you.” Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 60b, circa 400 AD

Yeah. I know. It’s funny.

But I also think this prayer is instructive on many levels if you’ll pause just a moment to think about it.

Evidently, ancient Jewish life was saturated in prayer… about everything.

Now consider this: The Bible commands us to “Pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” —1 Thessalonians 5:17-18

In light of the New Testament passage above, thanking God for orifices doesn’t seem so strange, does it?

What could God do in your life if you grew from times of prayer (at church, meals, or bedtime) to living a prayerful life?

How might God transform your life if you saturated every nook and cranny of your day with continual short prayers of thanksgiving… about everything… for just one day?

I dare you to try it… starting now… for just one day.

Let me know what God does.

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Being Thankful in a Dysfunctional World!- Derek Wadsworth

On earth, we are guaranteed to be worn out, discouraged, and deal with sickness. However, God wants to encourage us because our story, in Him, does not end in despair. By calling on Him, we have the authority to overcome the tough times in life, and see that Christ brings new life to situations that seem hopeless.

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

(2 Corinthians 4 ESV)

 

Saved From What? Derek Wadsworth

Who is Jesus?  Many of us ask or have asked the question :”Who is Jesus to you?”Not really a bad question to spark a conversation but….

SIN is something we all have in common because we were all born with it. Because of the disobedience of Adam, the first man, we are all born separated from God.

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” Romans 5:12

“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 “There is none righteous,not even one.” Romans 3:10

The Bible further EXPLAINS: “The wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23 The punishment for our sin is eternal separation from God in Hell. The punishment for sin may seem harsh but God is a God of justice and therefore He must punish sin. “For the Lord is a God of justice.” Isaiah 30:18
But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Romans 5:8

A.W. Pink said, “The nature of Christ’s salvation is woefully misrepresented by the present-day evangelist. He announces a Savior from hell rather than a Savior from sin. And that is why so many are fatally deceived, for there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of Fire who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and worldliness.”

Why do I always see the sadness in Life? David Powlison

Recently I received the following letter from a woman who raises searching questions about herself and her experience of life

Have you found that people who tend to be more thoughtful also tend to be sadder? I am the type of person who thinks about every little thing that happens— and sometimes I get really sad.

I’m not sure that the sadness I feel is the type of sadness that lies in self-pity, but I’m also not sure that it is the kind of sadness that is groaning for the return of Christ. Many times I will be sitting down and thinking, “I really wish Christ would come back so I don’t have to deal with this terrible sinful situation any more.”

Perhaps I am not seeing the grace of God in everything that he has given to me. Perhaps I’m not seeing God for who he is.

Everyone else around me seems completely happy, and I know I put on a good show, too, but is this what life is really like internally?

She asks good questions.

How should I answer her? Many things go into bringing rich pastoral care and counseling into the life of the church. Wise pastoral care invites honesty and good questions. It is willing to enter into the untidy perplexity and complexity of individual lives. This letter is honest.

Wise counseling also cares, and feels the weight of human troubles. It bears and bears with the struggles and sorrows of others. The woman who writes is burdened by many things.

Wise love reckons with the fracturing and confusions that beset the human heart, and with the estrangement and confusions that beset interpersonal relationships. It is not naïve. Though the letter does not mention details of “every little thing that happens,” it is not difficult to imagine what some of those might be.

Wise conversation speaks helpfully into complicated lives. It addresses the tangle of good and bad, the ambivalent reality of good motives intermingling with bad, the odd way that hard things and happy things cohabitate in human affairs. The letter calls for a constructive response, for something of Ephesians 4:29 to happen.

As I said, she has asked good questions. I hope that my response can capture something of wisdom: respecting her candor, feeling the weight of her concerns, recognizing the complexity of her experience, speaking helpfully. I hear five questions in her paragraph.

• First, does my underlying sadness arise from having a temperament that tends to reflect on life experience?

• Second, how can I sort out the difference between self-pity and faith?

• Third, is my faith in God supposed to give clarity and consistency in how I look at life?

• Fourth, does putting on a good show express the reality of what is going on?

• Fifth, what is life really like, and so what should my internal experience be like?

These are primal questions.

Scripture speaks to these kinds of questions and the Holy Spirit rearranges the inner conversation. My responses will be brief, but I hope to point in a constructive direction in this series of blogs.

Post Election Rant-Derek Wadsworth

Politics is something that stirs the emotions more than most subject matter. So I offer the following perspective based on what I trust both left-leaning and right-leaning Christians can agree upon.

First, can we agree that there is only one true King?

Second, can we agree that participation in partisan caricatures and absolutes is patently un-Christian?

Third, can we agree that a truly “Christian” community will make room for those from the political left, those from the political center, and those from the political right?

Fourth, can we agree that there is a more impactful Kingdom than the ones in which we are prone to anchor our hope?

The politics of Jesus consist of Jesus giving his life in the place of Barabbas. For Barabbas to live, Jesus has to die. A good man for an evil man. A lover for a hater. A man of peace for a perpetrator of violence.

Jesus died in Barabbas’ place.

Jesus died in our place.

As the crowds panicked and grasped for power, Jesus sat peacefully, quietly, and non-defensively, awaiting his unjust sentence from the Roman State.

Panic and grasping for power is the way of the world.

Sitting peacefully, quietly, and non-defensively, no matter what the political outcome, is the way of Jesus…and of his followers who have their kingdoms rightly ordered. “Do not fear, little flock, for I am with you,” says the King. Do not rejoice when you find yourselves in temporary positions of power and influence, Jesus said, “but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Render to God what is God’s.

Fifth, when we think about politics, can we think about how Jesus uses power to change the world, and adjust our methods accordingly?

Sixth, can we take a step back and remember a few things?

The shoulders of a President are too small to carry a government. Remember that the government is already resting on the shoulders of the Prince of Peace. His Kingdom is already here. Of the increase of his government there will be no end (Isaiah 9:7).

The Kingdom of God is above this world, and is not of this world (John 18:36). He plays by a different set of rules. His ways are often contrary to ours–and always higher than ours.

Pilate (and, as the case may be, an American President) would have no authority had it not first been given to him by God. The American public voted as it did because God, in the mystery of his providence, had already cast the deciding vote (John 19:11).

The heart of every King and ruler is in the hands of God (Proverbs 21:1).

Insofar as conscience permits, as conscience is informed by biblical truth, believing people are to pray for, honor, speak well of, and submit to their leaders. This is not optional. If it was true in Rome, where religious freedom did not exist, it must be the case in places like ours where religious freedom does exist (Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-17).

Lastly, let’s remember that with very few if any exceptions, Christianity has advanced and flourished most when the State was against Christianity, and it has languished and suffered most when the State was for Christianity…..

 

Thanks Scott Sauls for the chat….

 

“I Am Disappointed in YOU”

by Ed Welch

Be angry with me, call me all kinds of names, but, please, don’t be disappointed in me.

As a general rule, the older you get, the more oppressive the word.

Disappointing other people

If my wife says, “I am so angry with you.” I can live with that. But if she says, “I’m not angry. I am just disappointed in you,” that is unbearable. I feel like a scolded puppy. My tail goes between my legs, I retreat to the corner, and . . . I feel helpless because I am not sure what I can do to change her opinion. I could ask forgiveness, and she would be quick to forgive, but I would still be left feeling like a disappointment. Forgiveness does not remove disappointment. Maybe I would make vows to do better and spend the rest of the day living out those vows, but it would still be unbearable.

One reason being a disappointment is so hard is that it makes you feel less than—lower than—the person you disappointed. That’s why it might be harder the older we get. Kids already feel like they are not quite in the same category as adults, so they don’t fall very far, but other adults and spouses are peers, and now you have slipped down the ladder into the child category, or that of the family dog.

It is not wrong to be disappointed with someone. The Apostle Paul certainly was disappointed with the churches in Galatia and Corinth (e.g., 1 Cor 3:1). My point is simply that the experience of being a disappointment to someone close to you, especially a peer, is a tough one to shake off.

And, of course, what we find in our relationships with human beings we can typically find in our relationship with the Lord.

Disappointing God

Most people I know, when they think about seeing God face-to-face, would love to hear, “well done, good and faithful servant.” But most only hope for this. They are fairly certain that God will say, “You are such a disappointment. Forgiven, but a disappointment.”

Ugh. And how long does it take to unwrap your tail from between your legs in that relationship?

Can you sense how dangerous this is? If I am a disappointment, I turn away until I can somehow be a little more acceptable. In human relationships that means that we hope the urgent matters of daily life will distract the other person from the disappointment and we can soon act like nothing ever happened. But we don’t think that God is so easily distracted or quite as forgetful.

Don’t turn away from God

Since this identifies a common human experience, then we can be certain that Scripture says much about it. Here is just one way the Lord speaks to us about this essential matter.

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”(Numbers 6: 22-27)

This is how God deals with disappointing people. And remember that Israel by this time was supremely disappoint-ing. You might rival them in being disappointment-worthy but not top them.

The Lord turns his face toward them and delights in blessing them. In doing this he invites them to turn their face toward him. There are no doghouses in the Kingdom of God.

So when you feel like a disappointment to the Lord, hear his blessing and turn toward him. If you are looking for words to say to him, “thank you” is usually a fine place to start.

Don’t turn away from other people

Now, back to those times we disappoint others. The answer is the same: don’t turn away. They may not be so quick to pronounce an enthusiastic priestly blessing in our direction, but once we realize that disappointment is not a word that our Father uses with us, we might be bolder when we disappoint mere humans.

So instead of turning away from someone who is rightly disappointed with you, imagine going toward the person (probably after you have asked forgiveness), and saying: “I know I disappointed you, and I hate that, so I want to understand your concerns—I want to really hear them and take them seriously—because my relationship with you is important to me.”

Move toward people with humility rather than humiliation. That’s what we are after