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Only for the asking

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Posted by Jason Rigby | Posted in | Posted on 4:33 PM

Only for the asking: "
'How much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!' Luke 11:13

In a sermon preached in 1740, Jonathan Edwards pointed out that we ask God for basically two kinds of things. We ask him for temporal blessings like health and jobs and family needs. We also ask him for spiritual blessings. But Edwards noted how much more frequently and fervently we ask for temporal blessings:

'They don't need any preaching to stir them up to take thorough care to obtain those outward things. . . . And if they begin to suffer for want of those things, how much do they make of their sufferings! . . . Had God nothing better to bestow upon you, when he had made you his children, than a little money or land, that you seem so much to behave yourselves as if you thought this was your chief good? . . . I am bold to say that God is now offering the blessing of his Holy Spirit to this town, and I am bold to say we may have it only for the asking.'

HT: Tim Keller
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“How can [a pastor] persuade a person to live by faith and not by works if [he has] to juggle [his] schedule constantly to make everything fit into place?” (pg. 17) -The Contemplative Pastor

“Thy righteousness is in heaven”

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Posted by Jason Rigby | Posted in | Posted on 3:39 PM

“Thy righteousness is in heaven”: "

“One day as I was passing into the field, this sentence fell upon my soul: ‘Thy righteousness is in heaven.’ And with the eyes of my soul I saw Jesus at the Father’s right hand. ‘There,’ I said, ‘is my righteousness!’ So that wherever I was or whatever I was doing, God could not say to me, ‘Where is your righteousness?’ For it is always right before him.


I saw that it is not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse, for my righteousness IS Christ. Now my chains fell off indeed. My temptations fled away, and I lived sweetly at peace with God.


Now I could look from myself to him and could reckon that all my character was like the coins a rich man carries in his pocket when all his gold is safe in a trunk at home. Oh I saw that my gold was indeed in a trunk at home, in Christ my Lord. Now Christ was all: my righteousness, sanctification, redemption.”


- John Bunyan, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners




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Review: “A Praying Life” by Paul Miller

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Posted by Jason Rigby | Posted in | Posted on 6:24 PM

Review: “A Praying Life” by Paul Miller: "

Over the weekend I read the best book on prayer I’ve ever read. Yes, over the weekend: that’s how engaging this book is. And yes, I’ve read quite a few books on prayer. Paul Miller’s A Praying Life beats them all.


Four reasons why Miller’s book is that good:praying-life1


1. It’s not simplistic. Miller engages the difficult questions about prayer without falling into na├»ve God-speak or smug cynicism. As an example, he starts the book by punching the reader in the mouth with this story:


I was camping for the weekend in the mountains of Pennsylvania with five of our six kids… I was walking down from our campsite to our Dodge Caravan when I noticed our fourteen-year-old daughter, Ashley, standing in front of the van, tense and upset. When I asked her what was wrong, she said, “I lost my contact lens. It’s gone.” I looked down with her at the forest floor, covered with leaves and twigs. There were a million little crevices for the lens to fall into and disappear.


I said, “Ashley, don’t move. Let’s pray.” But before I could pray, she burst into tears. “What good does it do? I’ve prayed for Kim to speak, and she isn’t speaking.”


My daughter Kim struggles with autism and developmental delay. Because of her weak fine motor skills and problems with motor planning, she is also mute. One day after five years of speech therapy, Kim crawled out of the speech therapist’s office, crying from frustration. My wife Jill said, “No more,” and we stopped speech therapy.


Prayer was no mere formality for Ashley. She had taken God at his word and asked that he would let Kim speak. But nothing happened. Kim’s muteness was a testimony to a silent God. Prayer, it seemed, doesn’t work.


Can you relate to this feeling? I can.


2. The author writes as both a fellow journeyer and a spiritual leader. To make me listen to what you have to say about prayer, you need to be skilled enough in prayer to know what you’re talking about, but real enough to relate to the rest of us. Miller walks this line perfectly. He isn’t afraid to claim that he knows something about prayer: “I never started out to write a book on prayer. I simply discovered that I’d learned how to pray. Life’s unexpected turns had created a path in my heart to God; God taught me to pray through suffering.” Okay, I’m listening. This guy has the smell of wisdom. But at the same time, he doesn’t over-promise: “What does it feel like to grow up? It is a thousand feelings on a thousand different days. That is what learning to pray feels like… a praying life isn’t something you accomplish in a year. It is the journey of a lifetime… There is not one magic bullet but a thousand pinpricks that draw us into [a praying life].” And that’s Miller’s stated goal: not for you to make impressive resolutions or pray for only a season, but to help you develop a praying life.


3. The book acknowledges both the poetry and the precision of effective prayer. To those who trust in formulas and structures, Miller has this rebuke: “Many attempts to teach people to pray encourage the creation of a split personality. You’re taught to ‘do it right.’ Instead of the real, messy you meeting God, you try to re-create yourself by becoming spiritual… So instead, begin with who you are. That’s how the gospel works. God begins with you. It’s a little scary because you’re messed up.” On the other hand, just when you start to make “praying like a child” an excuse for laziness, he retorts: “Many people… are suspicious of all systems. They feel it kills the Spirit. Systems seem to fly in the face of what we learned about childlike praying. But all of us create systems with things that are important to us. Remember, life is both holding hands and scrubbing floors. It is both being and doing. Prayer journals or prayer cards are on the ‘scrubbing floors’ side of life. Praying like a child is on the ‘holding hands’ side of life. We need both.”


4. The book is full of powerful sentences. If an author, time and again, grabs me by the throat with a single sentence, I know I’m reading a book that has punch. Hence the reason I enjoy Lewis, Tozer, and Chesterton. Miller is not in the same category as those great writers, but his book does have its share of thought-provoking turns of phrase. Among them:



  • Learning to pray doesn’t offer us a less busy life; it offers us a less busy heart.

  • If you are not praying, then you are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all you need in life.

  • Less mature Christians have little need to pray… there is no complexity to their worlds because the answers are simple.

  • Cynicism is the air we breathe, and it is suffocating our hearts. Our only hope is to follow Jesus as he leads us out of cynicism.

  • The persistent widow and the friend at midnight get access, not because they are strong but because they are desperate. Learned desperation is at the heart of a praying life.

  • I do not understand prayer. Prayer is deeply personal and deeply mysterious. Adults try to figure out causation. Little children don’t. They just ask.

  • Everything you do is connected to who you are as a person and, in turn, creates the person you are becoming. Everything you do affects those you love. All of life is covenant.

  • We think spiritual things – if done right – should just ‘flow.’ But if you have a disability, nothing flows, especially in the beginning.

  • There is a tendency among Christians to get excited about ‘listening to God’ as if they are discovering a hidden way of communicating with God that will revolutionize their prayer lives… This subtly elevates an experience with God instead of God himself. Without realizing it, we can look at the windshield instead of through it.

  • How would you love someone without prayer? People are far too complicated; the world is far too evil; and my own heart is too off center to be able to love adequately without praying.


Whether you’re just learning to pray or seeking to deepen your practice of prayer, do yourself a favor and read A Praying Life. It will feed your soul. We’ll have a few copies available at the Coram Deo book table next week.

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My new business cards came today!!!

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Posted by Jason Rigby | Posted in | Posted on 10:14 PM

Carmen bought some cool cards for her mom, friend, and knitting stuff sooo after I saw them I knew I needed some lol! I was excited to get them today they look really good and came really quick! If you need some really cool cards... then go check out these websites. Warning will spend money if you look! ;)
Here is thehappygirl's Etsy website: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5309497

A brother in Christ sent this to me today...

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Posted by Jason Rigby | Posted in | Posted on 2:42 PM

You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the evil powers of this world. So why do you keep on following rules of the world, such as, "Don't handle, don't eat, don't touch." Such rules are mere human teaching about things that are gone as soon as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, humility, and severe bodily discipline. But they have no effect when it comes to conquering a person's evil thoughts and desires. -Col 2:20-23

Thanks... I needed this!

The People of the Gospel

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Posted by Jason Rigby | Posted in | Posted on 1:12 PM

The People of the Gospel: "

“Christ died for his people, and we are saved when by faith we become part of the people for whom Christ died. The story of the Bible is the story of God fulfilling the promise, ‘I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God’ (Exodus 6:7; Revelation 21:3). If the gospel is to be at the heart of church life and mission, it is equally true that the church is to be at the heart of gospel life and mission.”


- Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, Total Church (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2008), 39.




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Our Identity in Christ

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Posted by Jason Rigby | Posted in | Posted on 9:47 PM

Our Identity in Christ: "

“By becoming a Christian, I belong to God and I belong to my brothers and sisters. It is not that I belong to God and then make a decision to join a local church. My being in Christ means being in Christ with those others who are in Christ. This is my identity. This is our identity. . . . If the church is the body of Christ, then we should not live as disembodied Christians.”


- Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, Total Church (Wheaton, Ill, Crossway Books, 2008), 41.




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6 Ways to Apply the Atonement

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Posted by Jason Rigby | Posted in | Posted on 9:25 PM

6 Ways to Apply the Atonement: "

AtonementWeb


The atonement is central to the Christian identity. It is what makes Christianity unique among all other worldviews. The idea of a loving God who sends Himself in the flesh to earth in order to ultimately satisfy His own wrath is the mind-blowing message of Christianity that saves people from their sin. It is the reality that, once we place our faith in it, changes everything. But how? Here’s 6 ways (from this morning’s message):



  1. The atonement provides a Savior that isn’t you. Stop trying to save yourself from God by your religious acts and outward piety. It doesn’t accomplish anything but add to your guilt when you stumble and your pride when you succeed! Rest in the finished work of Christ, not the ongoing weariness-bringing work of your own feeble efforts.

  2. It releases us of guilt. God has been done because of what Jesus has done. Like I said before, we don’t have to feel guilty when we falter (whether in rebellion or in religion), because the saving work of Christ on the Cross has freed us: not our rebellion or religion.

  3. Because God has been propitiated (satisfied), we now live for Him out of delight, not duty. Our lives and gifts and abilities and resources are poured out before God not as an offering of duty to appease Him, but out of delight in what He’s done already through the atoning work of Jesus. This is wildly freeing and provides us with radical independence from religious duty, and allows us to rest in joy of the Cross.

  4. We no longer live in fear of God’s wrath, but in faith of God’s faithfulness.  When we fall short of the glory of God and sin, we do not have to worry about His reaction, but rather place our trust in the fact that what He has begun in us through the propitiation, He will bring to completion through sanctification! We have been saved at the Cross, we are being saved by the Spirit’s work in us, and we will be saved by the glorification of our bodies when Christ returns.

  5. Because we are not alone in being redeemed, we can gather with others to enjoy our state before God. Sunday morning church gatherings are not our duty before God, but our privilege before Him: it is our time to publicly celebrate the finished work of Christ!

  6. We now long for others to place faith in the same reality, so we live on mission and preach the Gospel with our mouths and deeds. This is evangelism as a lifestyle: it is us, out of desiring for others to see Christ for who He is and what He’s done, living our lives with intentionality and purpose: to make Christ known.


Hope this helps.

"

When Relationships Are Built Around the Truths of the Gospel

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Posted by Jason Rigby | Posted in | Posted on 12:59 PM

When Relationships Are Built Around the Truths of the Gospel: "Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson, in Counsel from the Cross: Connecting Broken People to the Love of Christ (pp. 86-87):

When relationships are built around the truths of the gospel—the truth that we are walking in light even though we are still sinners in need of cleansing by his blood—we can be free from feelings of inferiority and the demanding spirit that is born of pride. We can pursue relationships without fear of being discovered as the sinners we are. This kind of open relationship rests solely on the realities of the gospel. We are more sinful and flawed than we ever dared believe, and so is everyone we know. Because of this, we won’t be surprised by other’s sins. They won’t expect us to be sinless either, so we don’t have to give in to self-condemnation and fear when they see us as we really are. We don’t have to hide or pretend anymore.

The gospel also tells us that we are loved and welcomed without any merit on our part, so we can love and welcome others whose merits we can’t see. We can remember the circumstances under which we have been forgiven, and we can forgive in the same way. We don’t deserve relationship with the Trinity, but it has been given to us. We can seek our relationships with others because we know that we have been sought out by him and that he is carrying us all on his shoulders. (Yes, he is that strong!)

HT: Buzzard Blog
"

My Answer to this... is JESUS

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Posted by Jason Rigby | Posted in | Posted on 10:17 PM

What is the Missional Church?

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Posted by Jason Rigby | Posted in | Posted on 11:56 AM

What is the Missional Church?: "The church is not sent on a mission by God, rather God is on a mission and the church is called to join him. The mission is not the church’s; it is the Missio Dei, or “mission of God” that we are called to be part of. Andrew Jones of TallSkinnyKiwi blog fame points out: “Missio Dei stems from the Triune God: the Father sends the Son, the Father and the Son send the Spirit, the Father and the Son and the Spirit send the church into the world.”

Missional activist Alan Hirsch points out what being missional is not: First, the missional church is not synonymous with the emergent church, which is primarily a renewal movement to contextualize Christianity for a postmodern generation. Missional is also not the same as evangelistic or seeker sensitive, terms that generally apply to a more attractional church. Missional is not a new term from church growth it has a much bigger agenda than that. Finally, missional is not just social justice. We should engage the needs of the world, which is a part of the mission, but certainly not the whole of it.

Hirsch goes on to say, “A missional theology is not content with mission being a church-based work. Rather, it applies to the whole of life of every believer. Every disciple is to be an agent of the kingdom of God, and every disciple is to carry the mission of God into every sphere of life. We are all missionaries sent into a non-Christian culture.”
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Great Video for all Church Leaders!!!

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Posted by Jason Rigby | Posted in | Posted on 11:25 AM

After Confession: God is the Welcoming One

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Posted by Jason Rigby | Posted in | Posted on 2:21 AM

After Confession: God is the Welcoming One: "

Ed Welch, in When People are Big and God is Small:


When we listen to God after difficult self-examination, God reveals himself as the Welcoming One. No 'I told you so.' No time-outs in a spiritual isolation room. Instead, God rejoices that we have turned to him in a more wholehearted way. God promises the repentant person, 'None of the offenses he has committed will be remembered against him' (Ezek. 18:22).


If you don't believe that, stop reading immediately. Don't say, 'How could God forgive me for that!' (whatever that is). Don't think that God's forgiveness is a begrudging forgiveness and with that thought deny some of God's glorious love. And don't think that Gods promises are only for other people. If this is how you are thinking, you must realize that your own sins, no matter how big, are not bigger than God's pleasure in forgiveness.


This is a time when you must be controlled by the truth of God more than your own feelings. God's Word, not feelings, is our standard. To be driven by our fluctuating sense of well-being may seem spiritual, but it is wrong. It exalts our interpretation above God's. This is why it is so important to immediately turn to God after any biblically guided introspection. When we listen to God, he speaks words that fill an empty soul.


Ed Welch, When People are Big and God is Small 169-170


"

Raised right but hell-bound

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Posted by Jason Rigby | Posted in | Posted on 3:35 PM

Raised right but hell-bound: "In case you've been reading this blog and still haven't figured it out, here's Al Mohler reminding Christians why moralism is not the gospel:
In our own context, one of the most seductive false gospels is moralism. This false gospel can take many forms and can emerge from any number of political and cultural impulses. Nevertheless, the basic structure of moralism comes down to this -- the belief that the Gospel can be reduced to improvements in behavior.

Sadly, this false gospel is particularly attractive to those who believe themselves to be evangelicals motivated by a biblical impulse. Far too many believers and their churches succumb to the logic of moralism and reduce the Gospel to a message of moral improvement. In other words, we communicate to lost persons the message that what God desires for them and demands of them is to get their lives straight.

In one sense, we are born to be moralists. Created in God's image, we have been given the moral capacity of conscience. From our earliest days our conscience cries out to us the knowledge of our guilt, shortcomings, and misbehaviors. In other words, our conscience communicates our sinfulness.
Add to this the fact that the process of parenting and child rearing tends to inculcate moralism from our earliest years. Very quickly we learn that our parents are concerned with our behavior. Well behaved children are rewarded with parental approval, while misbehavior brings parental sanction. This message is reinforced by other authorities in young lives and pervades the culture at large.
Thanks to Theocentric Preaching for the link.
"

What do you really want?

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Posted by Jason Rigby | Posted in | Posted on 3:31 PM

What do you really want?: "
'If money, jail time, conscience, family, friends, and God were not constraints, would you spend your time following Christ, learning of Him? Be honest, because the way you truthfully answer this question will reveal to you a lot about where you are in your walk with God.'
"

A secret strength upholding us

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Posted by Jason Rigby | Posted in | Posted on 10:36 AM

A secret strength upholding us: "

“Whence is it that, when assaulted with temptation and compassed with troubles, we have stood firm, but from a secret strength upholding us? To make so little grace so victorious over so great a mass of corruption, this requires a spirit more than human.


This is like preserving fire in the sea, and a part of heaven even, as it were, in hell. Here we know where to obtain this power, and to whom to return the praise of it. And it is our happiness that it is so safely hid in Christ for us, in one so near to God and us. Since the fall, God will not trust us with our own salvation, but it is both purchased and kept by Christ for us, and we for it through faith, wrought by the power of God, which we lay hold of.


That grace which is but a persuasive offer and in our power to receive or refuse is not the grace which brings us to heaven. But God’s people feel a powerful work of the Spirit, not only revealing to us our misery and deliverance through Christ, but emptying us of ourselves, as being redeemed from ourselves, and infusing new life into us, and afterwards strengthening us and quickening us when we droop and hang the wing, never leaving us till the conquest is perfect.”


—Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1998), 116-17




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another great poem from Wendell Berry

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Posted by Jason Rigby | Posted in | Posted on 10:33 PM

All goes back to the earth,
and so I do not desire
pride of excess or power,
but the contentments made
by men who have had little:
the fisherman’s silence
receiving the river’s grace,
the gardener’s musing on rows.

I lack the peace of simple things.
I am never wholly in place.
I find no peace or grace.
We sell the world to buy fire,
our way lighted by burning men,
and that has bent my mind
and made me think of darkness
and wish for the dumb life of roots.

The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry

Obesity Significantly Shrinks and Ages Brain Tissue, Study Says [Diet]

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Posted by Jason Rigby | Posted in | Posted on 3:37 PM

Obesity Significantly Shrinks and Ages Brain Tissue, Study Says [Diet]: "

As if you needed another reason to get and stay in shape, a new study has concluded that obese and overweight people have 'significantly less' brain tissue than persons who are of normal weight. According to the study's senior author, UCLA neuroscientist Paul Thompson, 'the brains of obese people looked 16 years older than their healthy counterparts while [those of] overweight people looked 8 years older.' He added that 'this is the first study to show physical evidence in the brain that connects overweight and obesity and cognitive decline.'

Photo by algarius.

The study examined brain images of 94 people in their 70s over five years and concluded that subjects classified as clinically obese had eight percent less brain tissue, while overweight persons studied had four percent less brain tissue when compared to 'normal' weight people.

We'll take this opportunity to slightly nudge you to revisit our fitness and exercise posts.

As Waistlines Widen, Brains Shrink [U.S. News & World Report]





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