Archives For holiness

What’s Your Goal?

January 11, 2016

Our human self-sufficiency is never more evident than at the beginning of the calendar year with our New Year’s Resolutions. Goals are great, but so often we set about those goals in a self-reliant, try harder kind of way.

As Christians, many of these goals are linked to spiritual growth, such as wanting to read the Bible more.

If spiritual growth were as simple as trying harder, we would all be light years ahead of where we find ourselves.

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I recently came across some Judah Smith quotes from his book, Jesus Is For You: Stories of God’s Relentless Love, which speak to this topic

The constant battle is to trust Jesus for growth and change even more than our own effort.

“Jesus isn’t standing aloof yelling at us to climb out of our pits and clean ourselves up so we can be worthy of Him. He was wading waist-deep into the muck of life, weeping with the broken. rescuing the lost, and healing the sick.”

Top Books in 2015

November 22, 2015

I review a lot of books on this blog and many others influence the posts I write.

In fact, my best books of the year are always some of the most read posts.

Just in time for the holidays and those needing gift ideas, I will give you my…

Top Books in 2015 which I have read.

I will link to the appropriate articles and reviews in the summary, but my aim is to tell you how these books are still impacting me months later.

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Charis: God’s Scandalous Grace for Us

Charis: God’s Scandalous Grace for Us

Hands down one of the best books on grace I have ever read. The part which sticks with me is the emphasis on seeing grace from cover to cover in Scripture. My teaching has taken on more of a “from Genesis to Revelation” flavor since reading this book.

When talking about grace, we often give negative connotations to words like effort, performance, and accomplishment.

They become four letter, anti-grace cuss words.

And if one is gaining their approval from God and others based on what they do, than a negative perception is the correct one.

We cannot earn or be worthy of God based on striving and effort. Broken people produce broken things. This means we cannot improve on perfection.

This line of thinking is reflected by the oft heard cliché, “We are not human doings, but human beings”

True…

But there is another side to achievement.

If we have our value and worth in God, based on what He has done for us, then there is a proper place of accomplishment in our lives.

God created us to work.

Improving on Perfection

August 11, 2015

When you merge something with impurities into something pure, it brings corruption.

In mathematics, we know a negative and a positive equals a negative.

As broken and flawed humans, we cannot improve the work of Christ by something we do, say, feel, or think.

Many times we are told the way to be a good Christian is “Jesus + (insert something we do or don’t do, an attitude, or a Christian discipline.)”

Consider some of the Christian activities we insert into this equation…

  • Prayer
  • Church attendance
  • Missions
  • Tithing
  • Spiritual gifts
  • Bible reading
  • Obedience

The list could go on and on. Notice the things listed above are all good things. We could easily attach a Scripture reference to each one.

The enemy would never think of convincing us that we need “Jesus + fornication or drugs” in order to be pleasing to God.

Soul Keeping

July 28, 2015

“Hurry is the great enemy of the spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

These were the words given to John Ortberg by Dallas Willard. They were the foundation on which Ortberg launched into a journey to discover a healthy soul life.

Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You is a collection of reflections on his conversations with and mentorship by Dallas Willard. Ortberg blends in decades of pastoral experience into this work.

For me the book started solely with some “scholarly” definitions of the soul, but soon branched into loads of practical application.

Ortberg tackles rest, gratitude, works and grace, as well as the disappointing seasons known as the “dark night of the soul.”

Here are some of the best quotes from the book: (JO=John Orterg, DW=Dallas Willard)