Month: February 2020

Making Every Effort (A Sunday Night Workshop)

This Sunday, February 9, 5:00-6:30 pm, Becky and I will facilitate a workshop that explores the role we all have in the character formation process. LEARN MORE & REGISTER →

I can’t begin to emphasize just how important this topic is.

Many followers of Jesus are confused about how transformation takes place. They don’t know what God’s role is, or what their role is, or how these roles converge.

The Bible is very clear that God’s role is sovereign, supreme, always initiating, and always gracious. His role is also transformative. God is always reaching out to us. His helping hand is always there. God is the Lord our Ezer (or our Helper). But notice, HELP implies a cooperative work. Even when the help is supernaturally powerful, it is still help.

God’s grace does not eliminate our responsibility. God’s grace empowers and makes possible our responsive partnership.

Grace is NOT opposed to EFFORT.
Grace is ALWAYS opposed to EARNING.

Therefore, God says to make every effort.
Press on and keep pressing on.
Work hard.
Put off and put on.
Be filled with the Spirit.
Do not grieve and do not quench that Spirit.
Keep in step with the Spirit.
Bear much

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Saving Graces, a Glorious Pursuit, and Loving Kindness

Three Books on the Pursuit of the Virtuous Life of Christ

In Philippians 4:8-9, Paul provides a short list of virtues. Here is how it reads in The Message:

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

On Sunday, I used 2 Peter 1:1-11 as an example of what EVERY New Testament author affirms about the formation of our inner world.

First, God is doing something that only God can do. God is the initiating, gracious, transforming presence.

Second, God gives us clear responsibility to partner with him in the transforming work he is doing in us. The sovereign God has so ordered the universe that humans are free, responsible, empowered, and accountable beings. We think, feel, desire, choose, decide, will, and act. All those things are real. God has so designed humanity and life in …

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Who Gets to Decide What is Good?

The fourth question (see yesterday’s post) is one that we have not clearly asked or answered in our series. It may be one of the most important questions there is. This post is longer. It has some important philosophical-ethical concepts in it. You will find these ideas in most introductory books on ethics.

4|| Who gets to decide or determine what is good and bad?
To talk about WHO is to talk about the source, the authority. Who is qualified and what makes them qualified?

Here are some options:

(1) If a celebrity makes a strong moral statement about an issue, does their celebrity status make them the authority? Before you say yes, be sure to research a little and find out just how much of a train wreck most celebrities are, and the damage they have done to themselves and those close to them. But even if the celebrity is a pretty good person, why would we turn to a celebrity for moral and ethical wisdom? Because we live in a Celebrity Culture, they have much more influence than they deserve. Just listen to the pontification that takes place at the awards shows.

(2) Is it the crowd

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Why Be Good? Some Thoughts from Peter Kreeft and Prophet Amos

While there are many foundational questions about morality and virtue, there are three questions we have addressed over and over and one we have not looked at. I will remind you of the three questions. I will give you three reasons for the second question. At the end of the post, I’ll mention the fourth question and dive in to it tomorrow.

1|| What does it mean to be good (or bad)?

This is the question of the nature of goodness and badness. WHAT defines and describes good and bad, right and wrong? What is beautiful or evil, true or false?

2|| Why does goodness (or badness) matter?

This question assumes morality matters, but WHY does it matter? You cannot give the “mom” answer or the “dad” answer, “Because I said so.” This is one where I like to use the Bible text, “Come let us reason together, says the Lord…” (Isaiah 1:18). And Isaiah 1:16-17 says, “Stop doing wrong, learn to do right.” It speaks especially of justice. And then Isaiah 1:18 continues with the cleansing, saving work of God.  Read Isaiah 1. It is a marvelous chapter, loaded with spiritual wisdom.

3|| How do I/we become good and

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