Tag Archive for wisdom

The Gospel at the Grocery Store

The Gospel at the Grocery Store

This article is re-posted from Justin Taylor’s Blog. It was an encouragement to me. I think it will encourage you too:

Elyse Fitzpatrick helps us think through a situation of applying the person and work of Christ to sinful frustration at the checkout line of a grocery store. What I especially appreciate about this is how it helps us to think about all of Christ, and not just one aspect of his work.

Read the whole thing for context, but here’s how she applies the psychology of the gospel to her sin:

  • Because of the incarnation, Jesus Christ knows exactly what it is to live in a sin-cursed world with people who break the rules . . . like me. I am a rule-breaker but He’s loved me and he’s experienced every trial I face. He’s with me. He sympathizes with my weakness (Hebrews 4:15).This understanding of His love in the face of my sin drains my anger at my rule-breaking neighbor. I can love her because I’ve been loved and I am just like her.
  • Because of His sinless life, I now have a perfect record of loving my neighbor. He perfectly loved rule-breakers. This record of perfect love for my rule-breaking neighbor is mine now; knowing this relieves my guilt. Even though I continue to fail to love, His record is mine.
  • Because of His substitutionary death, I am completely forgiven for my sin . . . even the sins that I seem to fall into at the slightest provocation. God has no wrath left for me because He poured it all out on His Son. He’s not disappointed or irritated. He welcomes me as a beloved daughter.
  • Because of His resurrection (and the justification it brings), I know that the power of sin in my life has been broken. Yes, I’ve failed again, but I can have the courage to continue to fight sin because I’m no longer a slave to it. This replaces despair with faith to wage war against my selfishness and pride.
  • Because of His ascension and reign, I know that this situation isn’t a mere chance happening. He’s orchestrated it so that I will remember Him and be blessed by the gospel again. He’s ruling over my life and interceding for me right now. I’m not a slave to chaos or chance. He’s my Sovereign King and I can rest in His loving plan today and rejoice in Him.
  • And, because of His promised return, I know that all the doubt, injustice and struggle will one day come to an end. This line in this grocery store and my plans for dinner isn’t all there is. There’s the great good news of the gospel. I can go home now and share with my family and guests how Jesus met me at the grocery store and we can rejoice together in His work on our behalf.

Amen!

For more along this line of thinking, see the book she co-authored with Dennis Johnson, Comforts from the Cross: Celebrating the Gospel One Day at a Time.

The Wisdom Of John Newton

John Newton is one of the most unappreciated persons in the history of evangelical Christianity. Yes he authored Amazing Grace, the most beloved hymn in the history of hymnody, but he also was a consummate pastor and practical theologian. Over his 24 years of ministry, Newton pastored two churches; Olney in Buckhinghamshire, and St. Mary Woolnoth in London.

Newton was not without a sense of humor. A few anecdotes still exist of how he would make light of lifes circumstances. One such anecdote concerns a time when he was taken by a great sneeze and sneezed on a fly that had landed on his sundial Newton wrote:

“…Now if this fly keeps a diary, he’ll write Today a terrible earthquake.”

On another occasion, Newton was asked how he slept to which he replied:

“I’m like a beef-steak—once turned, and I am done.”

Newton also gave a humorous but revealing warning to the young man who was to replace him when he relocated from Olney to London. The old pastor said:

“Methinks I see you sitting in my old corner in the study. I will warn you of one thing. That room—(do not start)—used to be haunted. I cannot say I ever saw or heard anything with my bodily organs, but I have been sure there were evil spirits in it and very near me—a spirit of folly, a spirit of indolence, a spirit of unbelief, and many others—indeed their name is legion. But why should I say they are in your study when they followed me to London, and still pester me here?”

Newton’s practical approach to theology and teaching can be observed in his admonition to fathers to lead their families in worship. He didn’t set the bar unduly high but gave such realistic expectations as the following:

“I think, with you, that it is very expedient and proper that reading a portion of the word of God should be ordinarily a part of our family worship; so likewise to sing a hymn or psalm, or part of one, at discretion; provided there are some people in the family who have enough of a musical ear and voice to conduct the singing in a tolerable manner: otherwise, perhaps, it may be better omitted … If you read and sing, as well as pray, care should be taken that the combined services do not run into an inconvenient length.”

It would do well to remember Newton and his life long legacy of faithfulness to the gospel. His wisdom and encouragements inspired some of the greatest men of his day including the great poet and hymnist William Cowper, and the abolitionist and gospel champion William Wilberforce. What mighty work of grace might be done by your faithful adherence to the gospel and service to those whom God has placed in your life? Play the part of Newton today and act on God’s grace to be a light of the gospel in your community. If you are concerned about your many failures disqualifying your from serving, don’t. Newton didn’t:

“We serve a gracious Master who knows how to overrule even our mistakes to His glory and our own advantage”

Live Together, Die Alone

Up until a month and a half ago I had never watched an episode of Lost. I have a very close friend who is like a brother to me who loves the show and convinced me to watch it. I reluctantly went to Blockbuster and rented a couple of episodes and just like that I was hooked. In a period of less than two weeks I watched the first five seasons in their entirety. I dont recommend this to anyone but there you have it.

What got me hooked on the show besides the complex characters and fascinating plot twists was the fact that every episode was deeply thought provoking. I like Lost because it is not mindless entertainment. In fact, I have drawn many nuggets of wisdom from some of the characters. One of my favorite lines was one first spoken by Jack Shepherd who is the resident doctor and de facto leader of the group.

In a scene when Jack was attempting to foster unity and teamwork among the crash survivors Jack uttered the phrase, “Live together, die alone.” I doubt whether the writers of Lost studied the New Testament in their preparation but that bit of wisdom smacks of Hebrews 10:24 – 25 which states:

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Just like the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815, we have an enemy that wants to destroy us. I Peter 5:8 states:

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

If we are to survive our real enemy we as believers in Jesus Christ need to apply Jack’s aphorism. What is keeping you from living life together with other brothers and sister in Christ? Whatever it is its high time that you cast it aside and lock arms before Satan finds an easy target. Live together, die alone.

So You Want To Enter The Political Arena?

politicalarenaI have never held public office, but I have always been fascinated by those who do. I marvel at the wisdom of some politicians and the sheer stupidity of others but they all must be credited for having the courage to serve. No matter what your persuasion, life in the political arena is not for the faint of heart.

If you have ever considered a life of political involvement, you would do well to glean wisdom from those who have served with excellence. One of the finest examples I can reference is the a man whose life inspired me to start this site his name is William Wilberforce. Time doesn’t permit me to give you a thorough account of his life here, but you would do well to familiarize yourself with this man.

Wilberforce was unique among career politicians in that his motivation for holding public office was to serve the people. He was first and foremost an authentic Christian who knew that his accountability was to God and not just to his constituents. He knew that the real answer to the problems of his time and of all times was found not in the benevolence of government but in the grace of Jesus Christ who died on a cross to free men from slavery to sin. This profoundly affected his approach to the role of public policy in everyday matters.

Wilberforce was kind enough to chronicle his philosophy and approach to public service in his magnum opus A Practical View of Christianity. If you have ever considered running for public office or would like to have a model for holding your elected officials accountable consider the following points Wilberforce raises (I have included the page numbers and paragraph locations):

  • One of the best ways to win public opinion for sound policy is to “make goodness fashionable”. – pg. 83, paragraph 1
  • Great political victories come by patience and endurance or “by degree”. – pg. 159, paragraph 4
  • Choose your battles. – pg. 159, paragraph 5
  • Vote your conscience, not your party. – pg. 161, paragraph 2
  • Be the conscience of your country. – pg. 163, paragraph 4
  • Disappointment and desertion are certainties. – pg. 164, paragraph 4
  • Always look for opportunities to share the gospel. – pg. 164, paragraph 4
  • Create community for those of like mind and faith. – pg. 183, paragraph 1
  • Never compromise integrity for the sake of friendship. – pg. 201, paragraph 3
  • All service in victory and defeat is for the glory of God. – pg. 208, paragraph 1
  • Representation is always about serving the people. – pg. 253, paragraph 1

I hope that these gems of wisdom will encourage and challenge you. I also hope that they cause you to buy and read Wilberforce, himself. It is an investment that will pay dividends for years to come.