God’s Grace in the Desert


Plenary Session One with Tim Keller

Here’s a sample:

God and Moses basically said to Israel, “Trust us.” And Israel trusted. Now, at Sinai, they are actually further away from the Promise Land than Egypt was.

He told them He was taking them to a land flowing with milk and honey. But He meets them in the desert. A place worse than where they were in Egypt.

It’s like this for us sometimes. We give Christ everything, our whole lives, and things get worse from there. It seems God is taking us away from where He says He’s going to take us.

This is so often the story of grace in our own lives as well.

For the rest of the notes, head over to kd316:

http://kd316.com/2012/06/22/plenary-one-tim-keller-exodus-19/

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Tim and Kathy Keller, Pre-Conference


Marriage is a picture of the Gospel, but it is so much more…

The take away quotes in this talk are amazing. Not for married women, but for all who love Jesus and desire to live the Gospel in their lives.

http://kd316.com/2012/06/22/tim-and-kathy-keller-pre-conference/

A Mile in Our Shoes


This week has been one of the most heartbreaking, inspiring, challenging, convicting, angering, and frustrating weeks I have had in a very long time.

My heart is breaking for so many that I see who are consumed by the self-deceiving justification of accepting a less-than-the-best plan for their lives. My heart is also breaking because of the reaction they have received from so many in the church.

With the passing of Amendment One in North Carolina and the declaration of support for gay marriage from President Obama, political and moral opinions have been shared far and wide from every social media platform available. And the extent of the thoughtfulness has generally been “We win. You are idiots” from both sides of the debate.

From the right I hear, “Shameful,” and “Ridiculous,” and “Sinners,” and “We win,” and “That’ll show the world what America thinks about Sodomites,” and a whole host of other sound bites.

From the left I hear, “Bigots,” and “Idiots,” and “Persecutors,” and “Close minded,” and “Bullies.”

Lots of talking about one another. Very little talking with one another.

But what has bothered me the most has been the posts and comments and conversations from people who appear to otherwise be faithful, Jesus-loving Christians. Statements that hint at a victory over Public Enemy #1, gay people. Statements justifying hateful attitudes by saying, “We’re just taking a stand against sin,” and “God is going to judge America for the words of our President.”

For one, I’d rather hear Christians taking a stand for Christ than taking a stand against particular sins.

Why?

Because we generally only attack the temptations that don’t personally attack us as individuals. You don’t hear gluttonous people attacking the gluttons. Those who have experienced divorce don’t judge others in the same position. People who have overcome addiction usually aren’t heard judging the addict. Ever been in bankruptcy? I bet you don’t dog on people who are up to their eyeballs in debt.

Why?

Because they’ve been there. They understand what it’s like to be overwhelmed by that struggle and they know that it’s not enjoyable, no matter what kind of happy face one may apply.

Before you begin talking about the current gay marriage debate, take a moment and place yourself in the shoes of someone who struggles or has struggled with same sex attraction. Imagine an embarrassing or shameful part of your past being dissected on every news channel, social media platform and in many conversations you pass through during the day. The conversations generalize and talk about “those people” in harsh and insensitive terms (stereotypes are almost always harsh and insensitive, by the way).

Even if it’s something you no longer struggle with, part of your past that is long past, it still hurts. Because while that person you trusted isn’t talking about you specifically, you know that if you were still struggling, they would be talking about you that way.

And so it becomes personal.

I had the following text conversation Thursday morning with a young woman I once mentored through her journey with unwanted same-sex attraction:

“Bekah, is it bad that I got to the point of crying last night? This older guy at church was talking about the [gay] marriage thing… and he started more around the lines of bashing. I didn’t stay for church. But I did start crying… I just remember what it’s like on that side and hearing all the stuff. Then hearing it at church…IDK… Is it bad that I got upset?”

“No, it’s ok to be upset about injustice. It’s sad to hear people in the church who don’t understand grace.”

“Between them and people who I thought ‘got it’… it’s just… idk… I don’t understand people. Beyond that, I don’t understand Christians. It’s like they pick the parts of the Bible they like and agree with and ignore the rest. Last night reminded me why I never wanted to become a Christian.”

I hardly knew what to say to that. Except, “I understand, I also remember what it’s like on that side. When I see and hear the behavior of some who claim to speak for God, and sometimes I don’t want to be a Christian either.”

Remember some things before you speak about any sin or person entrapped in sin:

1. Sin easily entangles.

2. Satan is a liar and the father of lies. No one sins without first being deceived.

3. “But for the grace of God go I.” That person could be you.

4. The person you’re talking to may be the person you’re talking about. You just may not know it.

5. Pay attention to your conversations. Do you take stands against things or take stands for Jesus?

6. Jesus dined with sinners and prostitutes. He condemned religious Pharisees. I was once a Pharisee. Then God showed me just how much of a sinner I am. Now I add “Pharisee” to the list of self-loving sins I need to die to daily.

7. It’s possible to love sinners and also say, “Go and sin no more.” Jesus did it and so can we.

8. Jesus said the world would know we were His by our love for one another, not by the platforms we support or soapboxes we stand on.

9. Strive to be the type of Christian that never makes another Christian regret taking that name.

10. Know that you can disagree without destroying. Our battle is not against flesh and blood. Attacking people is equal to attacking your own Army’s POWs in a time of war.

Have you ever experienced an unintentional attack by someone speaking carelessly? How did it make you feel? How did you respond?

How does Scripture instruct us to interact with those with whom we disagree or do not understand?

For more information on grace-filled dialogue about the current gay marriage debate, check out the following links:

Tim Keller on how to treat homosexuals


How to Win the Public on Homosexuality by Collin Hansen

NC Amendment One and President Obama by Matt Emerson

Thinking of Ourselves Less


“The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.”
–Tim Keller, The Reason For God

It just doesn’t get any more simple nor straightforward than the above quotation. The point of life is not to develop great self-esteem so that we think the world owes us a favor, nor is it to deny ourselves so much that we become  door mats to the rest of humanity. Rather a Christian’s one purpose is to follow in the steps of John the Baptist, who proclaimed, “I must decrease, He must increase.” When we die to self; when we remember who we were are as hopeless sinners; when we remember the greatness of our holy God and our utter inability to be in relationship with Him; when we think of ourselves less and our great God more, our lives begin to fall miraculously into place. Suddenly “the things of this earth will grow strangely dim/ In the light of His glory and grace.”

There are so many times when I take the focus off of him and I place it on myself. Those are the times I slide into thinking things like, “I’m doing alright. At least I don’t sin like so-and-so. I’m doing pretty good compared to her.” But our goal is not to be better than we were yesterday or to be better than the people around us. Our goal is to be holy as He is holy– a pretty tall order for a bunch of sinners.

In this journey to Christlikeness, I must remember that the fastest way to stay close to Christ is to remember the great sacrifice He made for me on the cross, and to remember how sinful I still am and how sinful I will remain without His grace and help. Praise to Him who loves enough to not let us stay in our sinful state, but instead made a way for us to be holy as he is holy!