Saturday, June 25, 2011

Book Review

Rest in the Shadow of the Almighty, by Daniel R. Ledwith (Living Grace and Truth Ministries)

What do we normally think of when we hear the theological term “the sovereignty of God”? For many, this doctrine means God’s providential, unconditional election, regarded as the hallmark of Reformed theology…but outside of seminary classrooms, people in the pews are more concerned over domestic, health and economic challenges. To put it bluntly, what is God up to when my car won’t start on a Monday morning? Pastor Dan Ledwith nails the matter--not dismissing TULIP, but focusing on the more practical aspects of God’s sovereignty. Everything God does is love, even when we can’t fathom His purpose.

Using Psalm 91 as his focus and foundation, Dan understands God’s promises in terms of “rest” as a multi-faceted manifestation of God’s providence. Rest is defined as “knowing that God knows what He is doing even when we don’t know what He is doing.” The One in control assures us that “nothing can stop Him from providing all that we need in order to do everything He has planned for us to do and to become all He wants us to be in Christ.” Believing this affects our behavior and frees us to live confidently for God. We may at times panic and fret; God does not. Even our guilt and human limitations present no obstacle for God who is remaking us. “We can let go of our past because God has let go of our past.”

While practical, the book does not suggest that a sovereignty of everyday challenges is less intellectual or less important than the “doctrines of grace”, though it is more relevant, especially when life hurts. It is comforting to know that is a reason, a “why” in the midst of suffering. Dan points out that we “do not need to fully understand everything about how the engine works in order to drive.” Rest in the Shadow of the Almighty is an encouraging book that explains why we can trust that God will bring us through the tough times intact.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Anniversary thoughts...

Today's my wedding anniversary, so a few thoughts on the subject of "LOVE":

Love is an unconditional, sacrificial, compassionate, mature, lifelong commitment...and not simply a "feeling." Unfortunately for many, loneliness plus hormones equals disaster. Thanks to Hollywood, many people expect to hear bells ringing and birds singing, and not the hard work true love demands. Love is also a choice; it doesn't "grab" us; we choose it. We love intentionally. What many call love is born of insecurity and often becomes jealousy. Love may be tested, but the genuine article will survive.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fan the Flame

II Timothy 1:6, “Fan into flame the gift of God”

Harley Sheffield was part of the 15,000-mile relay to carry the Olympic torch to the 100th gathering of the games in Atlanta. His section of the relay went over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington, on May 7th, 1996. While carrying the torch in a special holder on his bicycle, the rear tire blew out, he lost control of the bike, fell, the torch got damaged, and the flame went out. The crowd gasped in disbelief, but members of the Olympic committee accompanying Sheffield knew just what to do. They reached into their van, pulled out another torch and lit it from the “mother flame” that stayed with the van. The procession continued without further incident.

At times we need to rekindle the flame, with a little help. A relative of mine worked at a kids’ summer camp, and to get the campfire going would used an old “Native American” method: Wakunda Juice…otherwise known as lighter fluid!

Has our flame gone out at times? As we make our journey through life, we hit some rough spots, take some spills, and occasionally the fire goes out…but we can regain our fire from the Source, and we can again burn with spiritual passion. When we fall, we get up, learn from our experience, repent, and keep driving on, with renewed strength. When we get weary, God renews our strength. By His grace, we persevere.

People who talk about “fire in the belly” are declaring that they have the motivation to accomplish something difficult and challenging, that they have the drive to do it, to see it through--because it is well worth doing. Preachers often talk about “being on fire for Jesus”, meaning the same thing. Are we committed followers, or has our fire gone out?

In the Book of Acts, on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit appeared as flames atop each disciple, energizing them for the task of telling the world the Good News. They were “fired up” for the job! They burned brightly for God.

How do we fan into flame God’s fire? By first realizing that it’s not about us; God’s flame is a gift. God is the one who kindles and reignites us so that we can burn brightly. He uses others; one spark becomes a stronger flame when it is joined to others. We’re better able to live for God and reflect His light when we’re together. Here’s our mission…

Matthew 5, from the Message: “You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand--shine!”