Friday, August 14, 2015

The Silver Chair

Our family finally finished the 6th book in The Chronicles of Narnia series and I was sadly unimpressed. The story line, though somewhat interesting, was very slow and seemed to drag on. For me the last fourth of the book was the only exciting part, with a couple of others thrown in. For an adventure, it did not come across as real adventurous. My kids seemed to like it OK, but my husband did not like it much either. After the 1st and 3rd books in this series, this one was just a let down like most of the others. I found the ending too abrupt also, though an element of it was neat.

I would give this one 3 stars.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Very Funny, Elizabeth!

I read this book with my daughter after reading the Felicity series with her earlier this year. We found it at the library and Lillian was so excited! It was an interesting story. It's primary focus was on Elizabeth (Felicity's best friend) and her family. It is about Elizabeth's sister, Annabelle, getting engaged and Elizabeth playing jokes on her sister who is all about being prim and proper and becoming a lady in England, hence the title, though I feel like the title is not the best for this book.

I did enjoy reading about the engagement and seeing Elizabeth's view on it. I also enjoyed reading the historical view of marriage during that time. It was interesting, but not that great.

I would give it 3.5 stars as a whole.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Call To Renewal

This is the second part of Jude that we studied this week at Sojourn, with the continued theme of renewal that we are called to as Christians. Pastor Mike reminded us today that every true Christian is a convert, that is we are renewed and changed as an individual. Yesterday we looked at Jude 14-25:

14 It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with [p]many thousands of His holy ones, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” 16 These aregrumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; [q]they speakarrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.

17 But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, 18 that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” 19 These are the ones who cause divisions, [r]worldly-minded, [s]devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith,praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of Godwaiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on some, who are doubting; 23 save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and [t]forever. Amen.

The Dangers of Not Renewing
It is evident in verses 14-16 that there is a final judgement coming where God will separate the Righteous from the unrighteous. We cannot take sin lightly. This can be a hard word in our anything goes culture, but you cannot take hell out of the Bible. If you pluck out hell and judgement, the whole Gospel Truth unravels and Jesus died for nothing. It cost God everything to send His Son to earth to die for us and make us righteous. The more we understand judgement, the weightier the cost of the cross is.

The Call to Renew
We are commanded to keep ourselves in God's love by building up our faith and praying. We are wired to build things as we are made in God's image, so instead of focusing on building our house/garden/car etc, let's build our faith. Our souls are the most important things we can build up. How do we do this? By reading the Truth of God's Word and praying in the Spirit empowered by Him.

Pastor Mike encouraged us to start a Bible project. What is a Bible project?
Pick a book of the Bible and study it. Make a plan on what you want to read, memorize and study more in depth, then implement. He gave a 15 minute a day basic plan to help you start.

1. Read a chapter/passage
2. Meditate on what the chapter/passage says. (Meditate means to chew on, mull over, think about, contemplate) This is where our hearts are effected
3. Pray about what you read

Take 5 minutes for each to begin building your faith and see what God does with it.

Renewal is also a community project. We are to go after the lost, those who are doubting, those who are wavering. We also need to be willing to share our struggles, sin, and doubts with those around us. Do be on your guard so that you do not get sucked into sin yourself. Be wise in pulling others out of the fire. Renewal happens when you reach out.

The End of Renewal (The Purpose of Renewal)
Renewal begins with God's grace and ends with God's grace. The purpose is sanctification as God grows us in the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ. All of our effort is underwritten by God's grace. There is often contention between it being all God or all us in renewal, but it is clear throughout Scripture that it is both. It's 100% God's grace (v 2,24) and 100% our effort (v 3, 21). It all works together for our sanctification. We persevere in doing our work by God's grace.

Our chief end and purpose is to live a life that brings glory to God.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A Blueprint For Renewal

Last Sunday Pastor Mike talked about the first half of the book of Jude and a blueprint for renewal.

Jude 1-16

[a]Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of [b]James,
To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.
Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the [c]saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand[d]marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that[e]the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, [f]subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after [g]strange flesh, are exhibited as an [h]example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.
Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile [i]angelic majesties. But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”10 But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are [j]destroyed. 11 Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay [k]they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. 12 These are the men who are [l]hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, [m]doubly dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up their own [n]shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the [o]black darkness has been reserved forever.
14 It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with [p]many thousands of His holy ones, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” 16 These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; [q]they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.

The Source of Renewal
Right off the bat in verse 1 we are reminded of our identity in Christ. We are called, loved and kept by God. It is important to note that all of these are passive, meaning that these things happened to us, we did nothing to attain this identity. God called us. God loved us. God kept us. Our identity is based on what God has done for us alone. We cannot earn our place or His favor. It is given to us.

Gospel renewal starts with Jesus.

The Call to Renewal
Grace meets us right where we are, and it changes us. When Jesus renews us, He changes our hearts. His grace meeting us where we are is not license to do whatever we want, it gives us the grace to live the way He designed us to live. (Titus 2:11-12)

We are called to contend for the faith. Contend means to exert great effort. God's grace gives us the ability to extend the effort to say no to the flesh and the world and yes to God's ways. When we darken our hearts in some way, we cannot see God clearly and can easily fall into sin. When we deny the authority of Jesus, this will happen. He is the example of how we are to live and to contend.

The Danger of Not Renewing
God does not play around with sin. Jude gives 9 pictures of judgement from the Old Testament and Jewish history to remind us of this. If we are not renewed, then we will face eternal judgement and darkness.

If we do not continue in faith with Christ, then we are not saved. 

Contending for the faith is both external and internal. Internal contending is Jude's main focus, because if we are not contending in our hearts, our external efforts mean nothing. We are simply coasting.

Great Intentions
Agonizing Forward
Tossed back and forth
Deepening Convictions
Unconcerned about sin
Putting Sin to death
Faithful to externals
Internally Striving
No leadership in home
Leadership in home

Are you coasting or contending? How can we contend together?