Responsible for Our Responses

For Lord’s Day, June 29, 2014

Dear Saints,

I’d like to share something with you I found helpful (among many things) at the Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship’s (IBCD) Summer Conference this week, entitled “Making Peace with the Past”.

Dr. Steve Viars of Faith Baptist Church in Lafayette Indiana (funny, as I was just in his neck of the woods early this week), shared from his book, Putting Your Past in Its Place, the following diagram (I typed it up since I wrote all over my notes: his is much nicer):

 

Microsoft Word - In What Occurred You Responded Diagram.docx

Notice what is the common thread in each “bucket”: our responsibility in our response.  You may or may not be responsible for bad things in your past, but you are always responsible for how you then and now respond to them Biblically.

Taking such responsibility is often an important part of putting our past in its proper place and not be haunted by it.  We as new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) are especially responsible to put on the new man in how we respond to good and bad things that happen to us, past, present and future.  For we have been made holy and are to reflect God’s holiness.  Tomorrow, we will see again in Exodus 22:31 that God calls us to be holy, for He is holy (Lev. 11:44, 45; 19:2; 20:7; 1 Peter 1:13-16).  Considering we are responsible for our responses, it is motivating to see what these writers note on our need to cooperate in sanctification with the Holy Spirit:

To confuse the potential for resisting [sin] (which God provided) with the responsibility for resisting (which is ours) is to court disaster in our pursuit of holiness … He makes provision for our holiness, but He gives us the responsibility of using those provisions … The Christian should never complain of want of ability and power.  If we sin, it is because we choose to sin, not because we lack the ability to say no to temptation.  It is time for us Christians to face up to our responsibility for holiness.  Too often we say we are “defeated” by this or that sin. No, we are not defeated; we are simply disobedient!  It might be good if we stopped using the terms “victory” and “defeat” to describe our progress in holiness.  Rather we should use the terms “obedience” and “disobedience.”  Only as we accept our responsibility and appropriate God’s provisions will we make any progress in our pursuit of holiness.  — Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness

He that would be holy must feel his responsibility for being so, both as a member of Christ’s body and a partaker of the Holy Ghost. — Horatius Bonar, God’s Way of Holiness

Beloved, let us take our responsibility as individuals, families, and a church for being holy, that is, godly, that is, Christ-like, in how we respond to everything and everyone.  And let us benefit in the blessed fruit of such progress in our sanctification together.

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. — Galatians 5:25

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant

Be a Difference Maker

For Lord’s Day, May 24, 2014

Dear Saints,

There is a song getting a lot of airplay on the Christian radio that my family and I have enjoyed singing along to while driving lately, and the refrain has been on my mind a lot with where God is bringing both sermons (and even the bulletin quote) this Lord’s Day, “I Am a Difference Maker”. Above is the band’s official video.   Here’s a video of a live performance at Austin City Limits:

And here’s a particularly nice live performance of the song:

A disclaimer: one of my daughters and I read the lyrics and each concluded, “I don’t get it.”  So I almost abandoned using the song for this week’s e-devotion. But it had touched my heart so much with what it had meant to me (and I like the style), that I searched for “what’s behind the song”.  I found an article that (while I still have some confusion or perhaps I’d give other qualifications) on the whole helps to understand and appreciate the song.  What songwriter Bear Rinehart shares about is behind his writing the song is important for us to consider with the sermons tomorrow, “Express a Good Profession”, and “Live a Good Report” with the main concern to witness to King Jesus’ rule over us and the world.

You can read the whole article here.  Following are some excerpts that should challenge us about why we do what we do, or more importantly, for whom (and some times we will find we have idols we need to lay down and bury):

This song is my story of trying to understand my role in God’s plan. We were on tour with a secular artist, Taylor Swift, playing to 20,000 and even 50,000 people per night. We felt like we were doing what we were supposed to be doing. Despite our efforts, I didn’t feel like we were having the impact we are called to have.

I think God was asking us at this time, “What are you doing this for? Are you doing it for Me?” …

We don’t need to be concerned about what happens after we’ve given up this gift we have to God. That was really powerful for us. We had ambition and let that take too much of a priority in things that led us down a road that wasn’t good.  I think that in trying to re-prioritize, God wants us to sacrifice those things, those idols in our lives. Some idols for us were wondering what the outcome was going to be, that we had the upper hand or maybe we were the best band out there, or we thought we were the most clever at it.

I feel like the beginning of the song is us asking ourselves are we really difference makers. How valuable are we, really?

Brethren, may we live our Christian profession with with a lifestyle like Christ and Peter command to make a valuable difference for Him:

  • Matthew 5:16: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
  • 1 Peter 2:12: Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Too many Christians are content with the status quo, and thus make little meaningful or lasting impact in the world for God.  May you and I, by the way we live our lives, be difference maker witnesses in this world for Jesus Christ.

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant