Curiosity Kills Your Soul

 

By Matthew Wireman

“Men must not be too curious in prying into the weaknesses of others. We should labour rather to see what they have that is for eternity, to incline our heart to love them, than into that weakness which the Spirit of God will in time consume, to estrange us. Some think it strength of grace to endure nothing in the weaker, whereas the strongest are readiest to bear with the infirmities of the weak” (Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed, 33).

I have been reading Sibbes’ work on the mercy of Christ toward us. The book is an extended meditation on Isaiah 42.1-3. I have been reading it in my personal devotions, and I have been reminded by Christ’s persevering patience with me. How often have I been a smoking flax–a reed that does not give off heat nor light–yet the Lord does not view such paltry devotion as condemnable. Rather, he condescends and fans into flame that smoldering wick so that I can enjoy him more. What may seem like an endless cycle of failed attempts, he views the good.

Sibbes, here, challenges us to reflect the same merciful inclination in our dealings with others. How quick am I to write off someone who rubs me the wrong way. How sure I am that this person is weak in faith and in need of rebuke. How dead set on dealing out justice am I that I cannot see God’s mercy on display in my brother.

I am a curious fellow. Yet, Sibbes challenges the assumption that curiosity–the need to know the intricacies of someone’s sin or weaknesses–is not altogether noble. Rather, curiosity bends toward an inclination to judging again the one whom God has pronounced “not guilty” in his tribunal. The need to gather all pertinent information stems from a desire to sit in the dock and pronounce on others what I would not dare they know or pronounce on me.

Our tendency should be towards wanting to see the good in others, not digging up graves that have been long-sealed when this brother put his faith in the Christ.

“What about leaders?” someone may ask. “Aren’t they held to a different standard?” Surely the pastor will be held to a stricter judgment, that’s why he shouldn’t be too quick to assume the office (James 3.1). Yet, the judgment James speaks about is the Final Judgment performed by the Triune God. This is not an earthly tribunal, nor is it an ad hoc court set up in the figment of our own minds. Rather, God pleads with us to exercise judgment with mercy (James 2.13).

Surely, a leader who sins repeatedly must be rebuked. A leader who is unrepentant must be ousted. But the leader who sins, and seeks forgiveness, should be forgiven. We should not exact perfection, nor should we use a canon distinct from our own lives.

I fear that those who so quickly give in to curiosity will find that the proclivity toward mercy will show that they had not received mercy. Those who so quickly write off Scripture’s admonition to cover over sin with love will grope for this kindness and find it wanting toward them.

May we be quick to forgive and slow to condemn. May we entrust right judgment to God. And as we find ourselves in the already-not yet, may we admonish the unrepentant. As we live in the time between the times, may we proactively and persistently give mercy. A mercy that is imperfect, but perpetual. To the degree that we have received mercy, may we give such beautiful and resplendent mercy.

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M28 Connect

We are excited to announce a new initiative that is being led by Adam Renstrom that is setting out to help our college students that participate in M28 become apart of CrossWay and get to know the families here at CrossWay.

Adam will be sharing with us more this Sunday about M28 Connect and how you can be a part of this awesome group! Adam also wanted to give you a little preview of this announcement and thought there was no better way to do this than with this awesome video! enjoy!

Three Ways To Live

You might think that the Gospel is primarily the “beginning” of salvation, how we get saved. But, the Gospel is really about all of life. The Gospel is the answer to all of our sin problems.

When most of us think of the fact that God Himself has come to rescue sinners through the Person and Work of Jesus Christ on our behalf, we think primarily of the characteristic “sinner,” the person who rebels against God and His ways. We formulate the idea that there are “two ways to live.” There’s even a well-known tract by that very name.

We think of the younger brother in the parable of the Prodigal Sons, who wants things from the father but through rebellion. But as Tim Keller has helpfull pointed out over and over again, there are actually three ways to live and two ways to rebel against God:

 The older brother in the parable wants “things” from the Father but he does not rebel, he obeys. When the father welcomes back the younger brother, he points out that he has obeyed all along but never received anything from the father.

Both the younger and older brothers want the father only for what they can get from him but they show us that there are actually two ways to run from God: outright rebellion and religion.

But the Gospel cuts right through the middle of these two rebellions. Rebellion will never satisfy us and we can never earn God’s favor.

Thank God that Jesus not only lived the life we couldn’t but paid the penalty we should have, freeing us from slavery to sin, in all its forms.

Men, Leadership & Responsibility

Author: Jeff Wall 

My dad left our family when I was one. Like many men, his identity was wrapped up in his work, and I think his voluntary slavery to alcohol medicated his fear of failure.  He lived in a van down by the river. Over the years I tried to visit occasionally, but stomaching the filth and squalor he chose to live in made the visits infrequent and brief.

I wanted so much to know him and I didn’t. I wanted so much for him to be released from his bondage and experience a life of freedom and health. I yearned for a meaningful conversation with him and it started when on the phone I told him I loved him.

Yearning for more spiritual dialogue with him on a visit, I clumsily blurted out “I forgive you, Dad”. He gave me a quizzical look and asked “For what?”  “For leaving your family,” I replied. In true Adam-like fashion he wanted me to know my mother was to blame.

It seems that all of us fall into that same pattern to varying degrees.  We tend to place blame rather than take responsibility, myself included.

Quoting John Maxwell, my friend often says, “everything rises and falls on leadership” and “leadership takes responsibility.”  If leadership is truly about influence and not just position, then all of us are leaders because we all have influence.  But ineffective leaders make a habit of blaming others while effective leaders are ones who take responsibility.

Men who take responsibility for their families inspire me.  It’s no small thing to accept the responsibility to lead a family spiritually, love your wife like Jesus loved the church, provide, protect, nurture and much, much more that the Bible calls us to.  I believe when we begin to understand the weight of all that responsibility, we will be driven to desperate humility and dependence on our Father in heaven.  Without his help it’s impossible.

Jesus, my hero, accepted responsibility.  He took on himself all of the blame we rightly deserved.   And when the weight of that responsibility became unbearable, it drove Jesus to the Father to plead for help. His flesh fought him but through his dependence on the Father he endured and traded his righteousness for our sin. It’s only because he took responsibility for our failings that empowered by his strength working through us we can lead by taking up responsibility for others.

Our Father in heaven is a good father. He gives grace to the humble and doesn’t give us a stone when we ask him for bread. May we as men accept the responsibility of leadership and may the weight of that burden cause us to cry out to the Father for help.

How Do We Grow In Discipleship?

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(via marshillchurch.org)
To grow as a disciple of Jesus is to experience Jesus. God has graciously and supernaturally given us an inspired holy Scripture that leads us into life-giving and life-changing encounters with Jesus. To follow Jesus means finding life in him and through his words. But how does that happen? Here are four ways.

BY THE WORD OF GOD RENEWING OUR MINDS

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1–2

The Bible presents a God-centered world in which his glory is the highest good and worth living for. This is a major realignment from the predominant individualistic outlook in culture that says, “It’s all about me.” Seeing the stories of transformation of people who are now living for God’s glory instead of their own is inspiring. Catching a glimpse of God’s glory is life-altering.

BY GIVING US DIRECTION

“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”Psalm 119:11

When Jesus is tempted (Luke 4), it was his prior exposure and time in the Bible that served him well. Embedding God’s word in our hearts is not so much a memory project as it is a project of encountering truth. We grow when our exposure to God’s word helps us to identify the subtle lies that lure us away from God and his glory.

BY RESTORING OUR SOUL

“But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.” Psalm 103:17–18

Every message in our culture invites us to recharge with “me time.” The Scriptures suggest that recharging is in rehearsing God’s great work of forgiveness, calling us his children, and inviting us into his kingdom work.

BY INFORMING OUR PRAYERS

Jesus gives us many examples of how the Old Testament shaped his thinking and prayer life. We see that he took his understanding of what it meant for him to be our shepherd from Psalm 23. We see Christ’s prayer on the cross influenced by Psalm 22 as he cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

We even see that Christ’s model of discipleship was influenced by his view of the word of God. In his prayer for his disciples in John 17, he says that he has sanctified them through God’s word.

WHAT DOES GROWTH LOOK LIKE?

We grow as disciples as we learn to turn the expressions of our heart to God. So when you read the Bible, look for:

  • Sins to confess
  • Promises to claim
  • Examples to follow or avoid
  • Commands to obey
  • Statements of significance
  • Responses of awe, which is worship
  • Lives lived in community, which support righteousness and life change in each other
  • Your life used as a billboard to declare God’s invitation to life and to join him on mission.

This is what it looks like to be a growing disciple.

Who am I?

By Jeremy Oddy

Have you ever asked yourself that question?  I encourage you to ask that question right now.  What answers do you come up with?  Do the answers encourage  or discourage you?  Do your answers promote humility or pride?  Do your answers describe what you do instead of who you are?  If you are a Christian, I would like to provide some answers to that question: “Who am I?”  Thanks to wonderful, proven, godly authors, I will be relying on the wisdom of Jerry Bridges from his newest book that I’m currently reading, Who Am I? Identity in Christ.  Below is a list of answers from his book that describes who a Christian is; therefore, who you are, if you are indeed in Christ.

  • I am a creature, created in the image of God, fully dependent on him and fully accountable to him.
  • By the work of God, I am no longer in Adam: I am in Christ, through a union that is both living and representative.
  • I am justified, I am righteous before God, because God has charged my sin to Christ and credited to me his perfect righteousness.
  • I am an adopted son, or daughter, of God. I’m a child of the King. I have the privilege in this life of an intimate father-child relationship with him, and I look forward with expectant hope to an eternal inheritance that is far more glorious than anything I can imagine.
  • I am a new creation, with a new heart, a new spirit, and a new identity before God. Having been delivered from the dominion of sin and united to Christ, I am always able to resist temptation. When I do sin, I am always welcome at the cross, for all my sins have been forgiven in Jesus.
  • I am a saint: I do not belong to myself, but to God. I have been purchased and declared holy by God, and set apart for God. Thus, God is ever at work to cause me to grow in spiritual maturity, a process in which he calls me to cooperate, in every way, out of gratitude for his mercy.
  • I am a servant of Jesus Christ. By God’s grace, I serve him by serving others in the particular role or roles to which, in his providential wisdom, he has called me.
  • In this life I am and always will be imperfect, a saved sinner, seeking to grow in holiness and relating to God on the basis of grace that is mine because I am…in Christ!

As you can see, the answers to the question “Who am I?” have nothing to do with our achievements, our failures, or the evaluation of others, but only in Christ alone.  To conclude, let’s hear from Bridges one more time.  He writes, “For every look in your daily experience, take two looks at who you are in Christ.”

Legalistic Repentance vs. Gospel Repentance

By Jeremy Oddy

[Borrowed from Robert Cheong at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Adapted from Timothy Keller, “All of Life Is Repentance.”]

Repentance focuses on relationship.

  • Legalistic repentance focuses on the behavior.
  • Gospel repentance focuses on the offense against God.

Repentance flows from God.

  • Legalistic repentance flows from worldly sorrow that flows from man’s shameful or guilt-ridden will, resulting in despair and death.
  • Gospel repentance flows from godly sorrow according to God’s redemptive will, resulting in hope and life.

Repentance steps out by faith.

  • Legalistic repentance hesitates out of fear of judgment.
  • Gospel repentance steps out by faith believing that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.

Repentance seeks Christ.

  • Legalistic repentance seeks to be made right through ongoing and various means of self-atonement (ex. Self-condemnation, extreme efforts to keep the law, relentless restitution, etc.).
  • Gospel repentance seeks atonement and forgiveness through the finish work of Christ alone while taking responsibility to right the wrongs as much as possible.

Repentance is honest and humble.

  • Legalistic repentance might be honest but proud, or humble but dishonest.
  • Gospel repentance discloses everything without defensiveness and leads the person to submit to whatever the gospel calls for so that one can be made right with God and others.

Repentance focuses on redemption.

  • Legalistic repentance is seen as negative and as something we avoid.
  • Gospel repentance is seen as positive and as something we pursue.
  • Here is a test: Whenever you hear someone’s repentance, do you focus more on the sin and what they need to do to avoid sinning in the future? Then you may emphasize the person’s performance rather than Christ’s perfect and finished “performance” on the cross.

Repentance results in gospel fruit.

  • Legalistic repentance results in little change and little relational intimacy.  Why? Because legalistic repentance leads to increasing legalistic efforts to improve performance with limited help.
  • Gospel repentance results in heart change and intimacy with Christ. Why? Because gospel repentance leads to increasing freedom to trust and draw near to the perfect Redeemer with the unlimited help of the Holy Spirit.