>A sort-of Formula for Christian Growth

>I am not a big fan of “seven steps to spiritual growth” or “four keys to revival” stuff. Formulatic spirituality loses some of the spontaneity that I believe is evidence of the Spirit of God honoring time spent in His Word.

But, if I discern a formula in the reading of Scripture, it maketh sense to me.

I discovered one this morning while reading Romans 4.

This chapter is focused on Abraham, and that he was justified by faith rather than by works. Reading from the English Standard Version, verse 16 summarizes, “That is why it depends on faith…”

Verse 18 declares, “In hope he (Abraham) believed against hope.” The next couple verses reveal he “did not lean on his own understanding” (Prov 3.5); and then verse 20 reads “No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God.” (emphasis added)

Verse 21 reveals that he was “fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised.”

It appears to me that “as” he gave glory to God, his faith grew stronger.

So, no matter how dark the day, how dense the fog, how tough the journey; we are to “rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice,” give God glory that He is sovereign and that “all things work together for good” and, thereby, our faith grows stronger.

Rather cool.

>Child-like Prayer

>There is a difference between being “child-like” (which Jesus orders) and “childish.”

Several days ago I had the privilege of praying with a 14-year-old who was praying for an awareness/assurance of his salvation, a sort-of recommitment that may, in fact, have been a point of salvation (the Spirit of God knows).

Anyway, here is a portion of his prayer:

“Lord, cover my heart with glue so it will stick this time”

>"The Great Exchange" a Great Read

>Since the gospel is “of first importance,” I prioritize on reading, in addition to the Word, books focused on the cross. Currently in “The Great Exchange” by Jerry Bridges & Bob Bevington.

Here’s a quote from the preface that is vital:

“Yet, in recent times it has become apparent that some in the church have drifted away from the historical gospel and ventured to redefine sin and redemption and even the meaning of the cross. Some have done this in a sincere attempt to make the gospel message more acceptable to today’s culture. Others have attempted to usher in an age of greater authenticity and depth of commitment. But regardless of sincerity, no attempt to reform the church can succeed if it departs in any way from the centrality of the message that our sinless Christ actually died on a real cross as the sin bearer for those who are united to Christ by faith in His substitutionary sacrifice and righteousness.” (emphasis added)

“Jesus, keep me near the cross”
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>The Real Purpose of Bible Quizzing

>As most who read this blog know, Bible quizzing has been a huge part of my ministry for three decades. As I say too often, it is the only thing I do in which I can not lose…God’s Word hidden in hearts and minds does God’s work.

A New York quizzer who graduated last year posted this on his blog. My prayer is that every quizzer from every ministry recognizes the truth of Micah’s words:

“Nationals team selections happened a few days ago. This is the first year in six that I’m not quizzing. It’s sort of weird; only after graduating from quizzing do I grasp the sheer value of Scripture memorization and want more than ever to be at Nationals.

It hit me at some point in Minneapolis last year that the end goal is not quizzing. Quizzing is a tool that motivates people to study closely that which they would otherwise ignore. It was sort of a late revelation, but I’m happy that it came at all. All of a sudden, I truly didn’t care how I placed in the stats; the important thing was that I was equipped with several books of the Bible, and it was up to me to make sure I didn’t forget them. It seems obvious, the kind of thing that every good quizzer knows–I mean, I knew it, but somehow it never clicked until late April. It’s not the sort of thing you can beat into someone’s head by telling him over and over and over again. Once a quizzer graduates, he has to decide whether to keep on memorizing because there’s nothing more important to know than God’s Word, or to forget all that stuff because he’s too old to quiz–it was fun while it lasted.

I hope and pray that the buses home this year will be filled not with students happy that they won or bummed that they lost, but students absolutely joyful because they finally realized the blessing and power that is Word of God hidden in their hearts.”

>No, It Is NOT Harder!

>
I tire of people saying how difficult it is to reach today’s youth with the truth of the gospel.

Such statements limit God, and put too much emphasis on “us” in this amazing work of salvation.

As Jonah discovered in the belly of the great fish, “Salvation is of the Lord.” (Jonah 2.9) The God who “so loved” that “He gave His only” empowers His Word and His gospel to penetrate lives, minds, and hearts.

To be sure, the world of teenagers is different than it was five, ten, twenty years ago. But God’s Word remains “sharper than a two-edged sword” and is able to “penetrate,” “convict,” and “draw.”

To listen to some, God must be wringing His hands and moaning, “Oh, what do I do now to reach these poor students?”

Heresy!

God is sovereign in the affairs of man, and though God chooses to use weak vessels to accomplish His will, it is still His Spirit who does the convicting, convincing, and drawing.

Does it take more “work” to present the gospel in what some call as “post-Christian” world? Certainly! Those who “brag on Jesus” need to be careful to define terms, explain terms, and never “assume” that someone knows anything about the true God, Jesus, or the gospel.

But the impact of God’s Word projected is not negated. It is always relative, and the One who desires to relate to those outside His family remains omnipotent!

The job of the apprentice of Jesus Christ is to serve Him, to live for Him, to brag on Him, and to breath and share the gospel. Since “no one can come to the Son except the Father draws him,” our job is not to do the drawing, but rather the pointing (or, if it makes you more comfortable, “leading”).

Yes, the days are dark, and today’s teenagers are bombarded by negative influences of every stripe…but the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is more-than-able to overcome the darkness as the Body of Christ attacks in faith.

>"Justification by Death"

>Reading “The Truth of the Cross,” a short but packed book by R. C. Sproul. On page 10 he makes this observation:

“The prevailing doctrine of justification today is not justification by faith alone. It’s not even justification by good works or by a combination of faith and works. The prevailing notion of justification in Western culture today is justification by death. It’s assumed that all one has to do to be received into the everlasting arms of God is to die.”