Weekly Once-Over (3.20.2014)


Does God Harden A Believer's Heart?: In the end, each of us must answer one question above all regarding the condition of our heart: Do I embrace Jesus Christ as the greatest treasure in the universe?

Saved By A Community For A Community: So let's radically love the brother in Sunday school who drives us crazy. Let's invite into our homes the awkward sister no one else approaches. Let's walk into the sanctuary seeking to engage the visitor in conversation. Let's go beyond sports and weather and politics to discuss how the gospel intersects with our lives, our marriages, our families. The more this interaction happens in our churches, the more we will be drawn into the lavish love of the triune God.

Outrage Porn and the Christian Reader: The fact is, so much Internet-based outrage is manufactured outrage, carefully structured to achieve the end of luring eyeballs to articles. This is the worst kind of outrage because it is designed to attract readers, not to bring about change. It serves us, not the other person and not the church or the Lord of the church. And in that way, the “porn” label fits it very well.

Real Forgiveness: A rebuker will make sure that his rebuke is fair enough to stand a chance of being received.  So it is wise to avoid the verb “to be” (“You are . . .”) or the words “always” and “never” (“You always/never . . .”).  Those categories are too absolute to be fair.  They blast the offender to smithereens, with no dignity left.  They presume to redefine what another human being is, and no one but God has the right to do that.  A wise rebuke limits itself to observable behavior.

Lesbian Professor's Fall To Grace: “I still felt like a lesbian, but what is my true identity, I wondered?” she said. “The Bible makes clear the difference between real and true. What is bigger, my lesbian identity… or God’s authority over me?” God won.

Genuine Repentance: I have sinned against you. I have apologized. But how do you know if I mean it?...Here are 12 signs we have a genuinely repentant heart.

Gospel-Centered Reduction: If the gospel isn’t an actor that accomplishes things, we should not speak about it as if it is. Rather, we should speak of the God of the gospel who works through the gospel to accomplish his purposes. If we insist on making the gospel itself an actor in the drama of redemption, we are engaging in a kind of gospel-centered reduction. I doubt anyone intends to do this, but it is an unintended consequence of buzzwords. They can be helpful, but often are not. Instead, they shortchange clear thinking by leading to reductions in our language. We rely on them as shorthand, but in this case, what gets left out is what is really of first importance.

Was Jesus a Celebrity Pastor?: This is important to say: just because so and so happens to be very popular, have a big name, sell books, and so forth, that doesn’t mean they’ve fallen into the celebrity pastor trap. They may just be attracting a lot of attention in the midst of a faithful and smart ministry. I’m struck with the fact that the for the first part of Jesus’ ministry, judging by numbers and popularity alone, Jesus was a celebrity pastor–for a bit.

5 Parenting Opportunities When Our Kids Sin: Sinful behavior in our kids is not an opportunity to war against them, but an opportunity to proclaim the gospel. Here are five ways God can take what was meant for evil and use it for good.

photo credit: Thomas Leuthard via photopin cc