Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Debtor to Mercy Alone

 A song that has been stuck in my head and heart this week is from an 18th century Anglican turned French Calvinist preacher. Augustus Toplady wrote a few books and several hymns in addition to his pastoral ministry. 

Image result for augustus toplady

The work which His goodness began'

The arm of His strength will complete; 
His promise is yea and amen, 
And never was forfeited yet. 
Things future, nor things that are now, 
Not all things below nor above 
Can make Him His purpose forego, 
Or sever my soul from His love.

What comforting words to be reminded that salvation, our salvation is entirely of God. There is nothing we can do to earn his favor, nor thwart his favor because it is to his mercy and grace that we are indebted. To cling to the promises of Romans 8 that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus is a comfort to my soul. 

My name from the palm of his hand

Eternity will not erase.
Impressed on His heart it remains 
In marks of indelible grace. 
Yes, I to the end shall endure, 
As sure as the earnest is given 
More happy, but not more secure, 

The glorified spirits in heaven.

To know that we are love and cherished by our heavenly Father strengthens our hearts and reminds us that our salvation is secure because it is not guaranteed by us but by Him who alone is able to keep us until that day. Our eternity is secured because of the work of Jesus on the cross! Hold to that promise today if you find the waters of this life beating you down and causing you to question God's faithfulness and provision. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Further Thoughts on Romans 5

The Apostle Paul reminds us of God's grace was extended to us, while we were still sinners. As you reflect on your own sin and the grand story of God's grace perhaps take time to consider what your life or the world would look like if grace reigned rather than sin and death.

Think about an area of your life, our community, or the world that demonstrates the brokenness of sin. What would that area look like if there was a reign of grace rather than a reign of death?

Spend some time recording your thoughts in a journal or in a poem.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Christ Died for Each Individual Person

As we prepare to look at Romans 5 this Sunday at ECHO at #fbcborocollege I came across this commentary on some of the key verses in the chapter. The following is from Luke Timothy Johnson, a renowned New Testament scholar, in his book Reading Romans
Indeed, what "commends God's love for us" is this remarkable fact: "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (5:8). We note again how Paul has personalized the entire transaction. Not "others" were the sinners, but "we were sinners." Christ died not on behalf of a faceless humanity but for each individual human person.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Reflections from Romans 4

Ways Justification Changes Us
Adapted from Tim Keller’s Romans 1-7 for You.

  1. No Boasting: (v. 2-3, 20) Our righteousness is credited and received, gives us the chance to practice humility

  1. No Cowering: (v. 6-8) We know we are sinful, and we know our sins are covered. Sins are not counted against us and righteousness is credited, which should produce joy and gratitude.

  1. A Great Identity: (v. 12-17) We are included in the great plan of human history through the faith of Abraham.

  1. Complete Assurance: (v. 16) The promise of inheriting the earth and receiving new life is all grace. It relies on God’s work and ability and not mine. This enables us to live without fear of the future.

  1. Hope when hope is gone: (v. 18) There was no hope for Abraham and Sarah except God’s promises. There is hope for us through Jesus Christ alone.

Spend some time this week reflecting on the way that justification changes us. Which is most precious to you today and why? Which most challenges the way you see yourself and your life and why?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Romans: Grace for Restless Hearts

If you know a college student or young adult  or you are a college student or young adult in Statesboro, GA join us August 21st as we kickoff our fall study of Romans! 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Here We Go!

So over the past several years I have restarted and stopped writing on here more times than I can remember. I set a new goal of using this blog as a ministry to people. The first intended audience is to reach college students in Statesboro, GA, where I serve as a College Minister/Pastor. We launch a new series this fall entitled Romans: Grace for Restless Hearts! Part of the teaching plan is to connect with students during the week with preview thoughts and questions as well as follow up thoughts from our study each week. Writing on this blog started because it was a therapeutic way for me to process life, ministry, and the world around me...hopefully that will continue to be the case. So if you read this and we see each other every week, month, year, or five...ask me if I have posted anything lately so it will be motivation to share my thoughts, musings, ramblings, maybe an adventure or two along this pilgrim journey of faith.

Monday, February 22, 2016

A Lenten Book Review

As part of my personal observation of Lent, in preparation for Easter, I decided to read some selected books that focus specifically on issues associated with Lent. The books range on topics of sin, mourning, grace, frailty, and of course Jesus. I must admit that I haven't been able to read as quickly as I hoped to, but Lent isn't over, so I still have some time. My first selection, Turn My Mourning Into Dancing by Henri Nouwen, is a book I recently picked up at a discounted bookstore. I love finding cheap books! There is something about claiming a great book at a great price that lifts your spirit.

This book is really a collection of Nouwen's thoughts on grief and mourning that was compiled after his death. The book offers a reminder to the reader that even as we walk through mourning for ourselves, a loved one, a career, a relationship, or a phase of life, God's grace is present with us. God's grace is manifested in our moments of hurt, anguish, sorrow, and loss in ways that are never reproduced during the "good" times of life.

Nouwen says in the Introduction, "Suffering becomes a way into deeper fulfillment." Further into the book Nouwen offers these two thoughts that guide the rest of the book. "While Jesus brought great comfort and came with kind words and a healing touch, he did not come to take all our pains away. The way from Palm Sunday to Easter is the patient way, the suffering way."

The Psalmist writes, "You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing" (Psalm 30:11). Over the course of the last six years I have wrestled with losing people who are close and dear to me. Fathers, friends, relatives, each of them impacting my life in different ways. As I worked through my grief and loss especially with my fathers (my father and my wife's father) I realized that few people know how to grieve well with someone else. Most people, though well intentioned, offer some condolence and kind word, that stays with us long enough for spit to dry. I found even as a minister, not knowing how to console people until I experienced these loses and tried to make some sense of them in my own life. As I worked through my mourning, I found that joyful dancing did return, even if only in spurts at first. I also realized that what I most needed, and my hunch is that most people who mourn feel this way, was for someone to crawl inside the hole of sorrow with me and sit. I wanted, I needed the presence of friends who didn't try to fix my sadness, which was overwhelming. I needed someone to crawl in my hole and perhaps by their very presence remind me that God is present even in my mourning. "To live with compassion means to enter others' dark moments. It is to walk into places of pain, not to flinch or look away when another agonizes. It means to stay where people suffer." I found Nouwen's words to be true, "at the center of our grief we find the grace of God."

At the center of my experience with grief I found God's grace in deeper, richer tones than I ever had before. Nouwen's book is a excellent reminder of the overwhelming nature of sorrow and grief, which finds new meaning and purpose in light of the gospel.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

College Spring Break Mission Trip

Can't wait for the opportunity to see college students from Georgia Southern serving the people of Brunswick in a month and a half!!