Calvinist blogger, Tim Challies explains how illumination of the Holy Spirit is the distinguishing factor of being a Christian.
Illumination is what separates believers from unbelievers when we read the Bible. An unbeliever may read the Bible and view it merely as a religious or historical document, much like I would read the Koran or the Book of Mormon. But when a Christian reads the Bible, the Spirit guides him to see not merely history and religion, but the very words of God. And even more important, He allows the person to apply the great truths of the Bible to his life. He initiates change through the words of the Scripture. Being a Christian, then, is a necessary prerequisite for the Spirit’s illumination.
(“Revelation, Inspiration and Illumination by Tim Challies”, Credo Magazine October 2011 issue, pg. 66)
If you’re on the internet not just for Facebook updates but checking out Christian blogs, you will find that the people of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF) have a good web presence. With the likes of Ed Welch, David Powlison and Paul Tripp making waves over the blogosphere and social media, counseling is not concealed in a four cornered room but available to everyone thanks to the internet. Also if you check the awesome resources in the CCEF website (www.ccef.org), you’ll get handfuls of biblical counseling from articles and downloadable podcast. And of course, don’t forget to praise CLC Philippines for getting this book out for the Filipino readers.
Winston T. Smith place a sort of dilemma on the preface of the book that we might also be thinking: Why do we need another book on marriage when there are lots of them already? What can I learn from a book that is 300 pages long? My answer: a lot! Marriage Matters is a well thought and well planned book on what God considers important: marriage. The book focuses on ordinary moments, those day to day life of couples. Seeing God in those moments of married life, defining that those are important blocks of a healthy relationship that it is also a place where the enemy attacks and struggles sets in, Christian couples should ground themselves together to a biblical perspective that will bring out the extraordinary. Drawing from counseling to personal experiences wrapped with biblical teachings, this book will be a stand out.
Pop psychology has no room for this book as it unravels how to live that extraordinary life on God’s dream marriage for us. Topics like conflict, honestly, forgiveness and intimacy are tackled with depth and a compassionate heart. The chapter “Growing in Grace” will imprint your heart with the message that we need God’s grace in every aspect of our lives. Because we are limited beings we need grace especially to couples to have a strong relationship. Without grace our lives will be full of failure and regret that will result spiritual weakness. We need to have a continuous dependence to God because he is always present and active in our life. God is most important in the marriage relationship because he will restore and make it beautiful when it’s broken.
So why get this book when there are marriage books by Henry Cloud, Gary Chapman, or Harold Sala, Ed Lapiz and so on and so on? Because “Marriage Matters” makes God matters in your marriage. Whether you’re married or single please don’t miss this book!
Start your day with some surprise. Boost some exceptional prance to your life. Open the gift of surprise for yourself. Prepare to get blown away with this list:
- Have interests on other peoples likes – take time to get to know more about friends and relatives. Have log talks with them over coffee. Ask them their hobbies and talents. Find something in common. Ask if they can help you try it or collaborate.
- Carry a Notebook or camera everyday – jot down things that you find. Take snapshots of strange and common places. Try to bring out the zest in the ordinary. Then set to check it every week of the things you have discovered. Celebrate what you have found out.
- Ask people things about you – have an afternoon chat with your relatives. Talk about things about you like when you were born and how is life then. Ask them what you always do and want that you forgot when you grow up then think of things that will somewhat bring it back (if it’s possible). You’ll find interesting stuff that will amaze you. Discovery yourself in the eyes of others.
- Break from the routine –try to commute rather than drive to work. Go to a different route to your office or school. Go to the gym of the evening instead in the morning. Don’t go online to research but try going to the library. Cut the usual coffee break. Try other kinds of clothes. Put on some accessories. Bring your life back by breaking the routine.
- Buy yourself unusual presents- even if it’s for you, gifts still delivers a surprise. But give it a twist. Buy cookbooks of foreign foods then try cooking it. Get packs of seeds of unknown plants and plant them. Bring out the awesomeness in you by extraordinary gifts for yourself.
- Don’t have a planned adventure – set a getaway now. Explore places that you sometimes ignore because of its familiarity. Have an unscheduled stay at your friends’ house. Ask your buddy if they can come along with you without advance notice.
Anything surprising that happened to you lately? Post it on the comments.
If you would receive a blessing from the Lord, when you hear His Word preached, pray to Him, both before, in, and after every sermon, to endue the minister with power to speak, and to grant you a will and ability to put in practice, what He shall show from the Book of God to be your duty. This would be an excellent means to render the word preached effectual to the enlightening and enflaming your hearts; and without this, all the other means before prescribed will be in vain. No doubt it was this consideration that made St. Paul so earnestly entreat His beloved Ephesians to intercede with God for Him: “Praying always, with all manner of prayer and supplication in the spirit, and for me also, that I may open my mouth with boldness, to make known the mysteries of the gospel.” And if so great an Apostle as St. Paul needed the prayers of His people, much more do those ministers, who have only the ordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Besides, this would be a good proof that you sincerely desired to do, as well as to know, the will of God. And it must highly profit both ministers and people, because God, through your prayers, will give them a double portion of His Holy Spirit, whereby they will be enabled to instruct you more fully in the things which pertain to the kingdom of God.
Checking this book out reminds me of two of my favorite authors, J. Oswald Sanders and Oswald Chambers. Sanders placed in my heart the vision for Christ and a deeper look in following God. While Chambers keeps on pressing me to not seek mountain top experience but a valley of trials and challenges where we will grow and get more blessings from God. And that is truly finding eternal treasure from above.
A Vision of the Deep provides page after page gentle affirmation that we need to get serious in Christ if we want to follow Him. The book is like a castle and as you face its gates you are already challenge on how you view Christ in terms of serving Him. Sutton writes that we need a heart with an anchor. Anchor it to the Lord and no matter what happens in your ministry or personal life you won’t be moved. Wow! What an inspiring thing to read from someone who led a life serving in Africa.
Part Two gives you a shovel to dig more deeply to the infinitely preciousness of God. Let me give you samples for your taste buds. Chapter 3 is on “Treasuring”, which is finding the genuine will of God for every Christians. Chapter 4 titled “Emptying” ask us in times that we don’t have anything are we willing to serve for God. In those phase our faith is measured on how we are grounded to God. In “Soaring” in hopelessness we still need to look only to God and deem Him beautiful. Are you craving for more of this? Then go and buy the book!
This book brimful of biblical meditations and Sutton’s testimony will encourage every Christian in pursuit of his God. Relatively an unknown author, A Vision of the Deep will put Sutton on the map of Christian authors who will inspire this generation of Christians who search for a deeper meaning in coming to terms on how to abide in God.
Before we get bog down by the hustle and bustle of the day why don’t we stop and ponder the following questions that will bring some Christ changing transformation we need:
- Have I read and meditate God’s Word today? God commands us to do so because He knows it’s the only spiritual food that will guarantee to satisfy us.
- Have I inspired and encourage someone? Your friends need some uplifting words from you that will get them through tough times. Be sensitive to others who are hurting inside. Do it today and make a difference to someone.
- Have I done the things I have planned? Have you check your calendar or planner and see what needs to be done? Does it need some immediate attention? Don’t let anything distract you and stick to the plan.
- Have I been breaking promises lately? As a Christian we should be building some trust to others not just to be exemplary but that Christ might be magnified in things we promise. Maybe it’s time to consider doing what you have promised. You might have gone to the “point of no return” because of unfulfilled promises but it’s not too late to do what is right.
- 5. Have I come to Christ to confess my sin today? 1 John 1:9 states “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Are their hidden sins we need forgiveness from Christ? Sins not be brought to the feet of the Master will forfeit blessings and our fellowship with Him. Kneel down and ask for mercy today.
Are there any questions worth considering you can add to this list? Please post it on the comment section.
I’m curious about networking and marketing so I check out books from the likes of Seth Godin. Truly it’s loading up my mind with the concept that is worth thinking about. But one book that I came across gave something for me to think about. “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi it’s a good book on the subject and lots of stuff can be said on the importance of networking. But when he mention about his church, we Christians should take notice of this. In his networking strategy, he employs inviting someone to his church to make a sort of mutual connection to the people he wants to be acquainted with. On page 92 of this bestseller we read:
“Besides food and exercise, I sometimes take people to church. That’s right, church. I attend a mostly African-American and Hispanic Catholic Church in Los Angeles—St. Agatha’s. It’s wonderfully “unorthodox.” Instead of “passing the peace” in the form of a simple handshake, a gospel choir belts out uplifting tunes while the congregants walk around the church hugging each other for ten minutes. It’s an amazing scene. I don’t try to foist my beliefs on anyone; the people I bring along—whether an actor or lawyer or an atheist or Orthodox Jew—tend to see my invitation as a kind of personalized gift. It shows them that I think so highly of them that I’m willing to share such a deeply personal part of my life.”
It is truly elevating to see members of a church to invite guest which are mostly unbelievers on Sunday. It’s a chance for them to see our worship service, how we fellowship and how everyone function in the body of Christ. Most importantly it’s an opportunity for them to hear the gospel. I hope every Bible believing church will do this and encourage members to invite people who don’t know Christ. I can see it’s also a chance for those shy type Christians to evangelize friends and family. But if the intention is somewhat other that telling them about Jesus, well that’s a different story. I won’t invite people to church to have some business deals. I’m inviting them to hear the good news that is the most important news on earth. Doing so is disrespecting the church and Christ.
I think this kind of ‘invitation’ stems from two misconceptions: the true meaning of church and edifying the church. Church is not a building nor is it an organization. The people are the church. Redeemed by Christ’s blood at the cross, they are “called out” from darkness to light with one purpose: to glorify God. Any dealing outside the main purpose embraced by the church is disgraceful to the One who died for us at Calvary. If a person considers church to be a building or structure then the mind set will be its just another venue or place where we can socialize, get connected with others and widen our influence. Second, the role of believer to the church is that it edifies other members through different ministry functions like preaching, teaching, giving etc. The Holy Spirit enables us to do so in our various gifts. But can you find edification by bringing someone who has no business of edifying others? Can we treat church as a mere social club? Sadly Christians are guilty of this. They go to church not just to do business but find their friends, catch up with them while forgetting the One who is the reason that there is a church. Remember it’s Sunday and we should settle whatever transactions we have with the world on week days.
I hope this will reinforce our minds on what church is so in the end the respect and honor that is due will be met. In return we will see ourselves more mature and sensitive on how God views His church.