>Thought About God’s Wrath Lately?

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Don’t hear many (any?) songs about God’s wrath…His fury, anger, and indignation at sin.

John R. W. Stott has a well-written reminder in a book that, if you’ve not read it, you should:

“Only he who knows the greatness of wrath will be mastered by the greatness of mercy. All inadequate doctrines of the atonement are due to inadequate doctrines of God and man. If we bring God down to our level and raise ourselves to His, then of course we see no need for a radical salvation, let alone for a radical atonement to secure it.
When, on the other hand, we have glimpsed the blinding glory of the holiness of God, and have been so convicted of our sin by the Holy Spirit that we tremble before God and acknowledge what we are, namely ‘hell-deserving sinners’, then and only then does the necessity of the cross appear so obvious that we are astonished we never saw it before.
The essential background to the cross, therefore, is a balanced understanding of the gravity of sin and the majesty of God. If we diminish either, we thereby diminish the cross.”
–John Stott

Side note: some readers are aware of the ongoing controversy regarding universalism ( all humans are “saved” according to this school of, ah, thought)..Stott is NOT a universalist, though he does believe nonbelievers are annihilated rather than confined to an endless hell. I really respect Stott, but as march as part of my heart wishes to agree, I can’t. His books, especially this one, are well worth reading:http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=jacksjots-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=083083320X&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

>Grace Indicators

>Regular readers know I absolutely love the writings, challenges, and encouragements of Scotty Smith. Here are some succinct, powerful “tweets” he wrote over a period of time regarding grace…don’t rush through them:

A sign you’re growing in grace is less bombast about not being a legalist & more humility because you “get” the gospel.

A sign you’re growing in grace is less theological arrogance & greater appreciation for diversity in the Body of Christ.

A sign you’re growing in grace is you work much harder at remembering names and forgetting slights.

A sign you’re growing in grace is that everybody notices it but you.

A sign you’re growing in grace is movement from destructive cynicism towards redemptive engagement. Anybody can spew.

A sign you’re growing in grace is that you’re less like a drive-by-shooting with criticisms & more of a healing presence.

A sign you’re growing in grace is evident when you receive feedback non-defensively and give it clearly & lovingly.

A sign you’re growing in grace is evident when people don’t feel like they have to walk on egg shells around you as much.

A sign you’re growing in grace is when you say, “I’ll be prayin’ for ya”, and you follow through on at least 50%.

A sign you’re growing in grace is committing fewer homicides in your heart of slow drivers.

A sign you’re growing in grace is praying for our government rather than simply being cynical about our government.

A sign you are growing in grace is that you are more disgusted with your critical spirit than offended by others’ sins.

>Jonah and Jesus

>Here’s some great stuff from Tim Keller’s new book:

We have a resource that can enable us to stay calm inside no matter how the storms rage outside.
Here’s a clue: Mark has deliberately laid out this account using language that is parallel, almost identical, to the language of the famous Old Testament account of Jonah.

Both Jesus and Jonah were in a boat, and both boats were overtaken by a storm—the descriptions of the storm are almost identical.

Both Jesus and Jonah were asleep.
In both stories the sailors woke up the sleeper and said, “We’re going to die.”
And in both cases there was a miraculous divine intervention and the sea was calmed.
Further, in both stories the sailors then become even more terrified than they were before the storm was calmed.

Two almost identical stories—with just one difference.
In the midst of the storm, Jonah said to the sailors, in effect: “There’s only only thing to do. If I perish, you survive. If I die, you will live” (Jonah 1:12). And they threw him into the sea.
Which doesn’t happen in Mark’s story.
Or does it?
I think Mark is showing that the stories aren’t actually different when you stand back a bit and look at it with the rest of the story of Jesus in view.
In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus says, “One greater than Jonah is here,” and he’s referring to himself: I’m the true Jonah. He meant this:

Someday I’m going to calm all storms, still all waves.
I’m going to destroy destruction, break brokenness, kill death.

How can he do that?
He can only do it because when he was on the cross he was thrown—willingly, like Jonah—into the ultimate storm, under the ultimate waves, the waves of sin and death.
Jesus was thrown into the only storm that can actually sink us—the storm of eternal justice, of what we owe for our wrongdoing. That storm wasn’t calmed—not until it swept him away.
If the sight of Jesus bowing his head into that ultimate storm is burned into the core of your being, you will never say, “God, don’t you care?”
And if you know that he did not abandon you in that ultimate storm, what make you think he would abandon you in much smaller storms you’re experiencing right now?
And, someday, of course, he will return and still all storms for eternity.
If you let that penetrate to the very center of your being, you will know he loves you. You will know he cares. And then you will have the power to handle anything in life with poise:

When through the deep waters I call you to go,
The rivers of woe shall not overflow;
For I will be with you, your troubles to bless,http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=jacksjots-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0525952101&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr
And sanctify to you your deepest distress.
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

>Loser’s Limp

>So a couple days ago Lindsay Lohans father says (after her court appearance during which the judge said if she accepted the D.A.’s plea bargain, or pled guilty, she’d go to jail),”I don’t see Lindsay as a criminal. This is all a result of her addiction.”

Oh?

So whatever “this is all” means is okay since it is a result of her addiction?

Convenient.

And typical of a fallen society.

Not harping on Lohan…just continually sick of excuses. When I was entering Oregon State Prison the reception committee basically said my criminal career was a result of my experiences in Vietnam.

Translated: “it’s not my fault.”

Well, yeah, stuff contributes to our decisions; but we are responsible for the decisions.

And if we step into the quicksand of addictions, we are responsible for actions made after that point also.

I’m grateful that my arrest and incarceration resulted in me reading the gospel for the first time…and eventually to taking responsibility/ownership of my sin, turning from sin, and turning in repentance to Christ.

And I pray Miss Lohan experiences deliverance…not from criminal charges, but from God’s indictment…

>He Knows Me!!!

>Significant insight from J. I. Packer…if you’ve not read Knowing God, or if it has been a few years, read (or reread) it!

“What matters supremely, therefore, is not the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it- the fact that He knows me. I am graven on the palms of His hands. I am never out of His mind. All my knowledge of Him depends on His sustained initiative in knowing me. I know Him because He first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is no moment when His eye is off me, or His attention distracted from me, and no moment…when His care falters.”

J.I. Packerhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=jacksjots-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=083081650X&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

>Condemnation or Conviction?

>“When you belong to the King, how can you discern the difference between the Devil’s condemnation and the Spirit’s conviction? How can you determine if you are in the bogus courtroom or the real one?
In the real courtroom:

  • you know your good deeds are not enough
  • your hope is in Christ alone for your deliverance
  • when convicted of sins, you are pointed past your sins and on to Christ
  • the last word is always hope.

In the Devil’s counterfeit:

  • the attention is all on your sins
  • you stand and fall on your own behavior
  • you are alone without an advocate
  • questions are raised about the extent of God’s forgiveness.

Christ alone, Christ alone– that is your defense.”
–Edward T. Welch, in:http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=jacksjots-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0978556755&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

>Prison and Christian Camp

>I was captured by Christ while in jail awaiting a prison sentence. I now work in both youth ministry and prison ministry.

I’m struck by the similarities…it is relatively easy to make “decisions” for Christ in prison and in Christian camps.

It is a different story to live out those decisions when returning to the real world…whether from a Christian camp or a prison sentence.

As the inmates are always told just before they get out, “Don’t leave Jesus at the gate.” The same thing applies to students leaving Christian camps.

Of course a week of summer camp doesn’t compare in most ways to a 3, 5, 10 or more year prison sentence.

But the fact remains – going back to the “real” world is where the decision must be lived out in dependence on God, in discipline, in accountability, and in community.

>Wonderful Plan for Your Life?????

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I’ve always disliked the phrase, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” The first phrase is wondrously true; the “for your life” part implies, “Come to Jesus and all will be well.” Yeah, right. “In this world you will suffer persecution” etc.

For the non-Christian God has, from our perspective, a terrible plan…for the repentant, this short-term life will have difficulties of varying degrees.

Trevin Wax offers this insight (from a great book, by the way)


– God’s “wonderful plan” for Christians may include times of suffering and persecution whereby we become more conformed to the image of Christ.

– The better, more biblical place to begin is to affirm that “God has a wonderful plan, period.” Salvation is not primarily about God’s plan for my life, but about God’s renewal of everything. It is only within the vision of the glorious new world that God has promised that we find the strength to cope with the fact that God may have a very difficult plan for our lives!

If you have ever looked at the backside of a quilt or a tapestry, you see that there seems to be no overall design or pattern. The quilt looks strange, without purpose or direction. But once you turn it around, you see how the individual patterns make up something that is beautiful.

Our lives do not always seem wonderful. But rather than trying to see what wonderful plan God has for giving us our best life now, Christians trust that the picture God is painting will be beautiful, so we look to experiencing our best life later. God has a wonderful plan, and because of his grace, we are part of that plan.