Reblog: 8 Characteristics of Sanctification

By Dustin Crowe

One of the things I enjoyed most about my previous job was the direct connection between how hard I worked and the results I saw. If I just put my head down and pushed hard I could get where I wanted. It was an independent role and I liked the fact that my production rested on no one’s shoulders but my own.

Much of my frustration in growing as a Christian is because sanctification isn’t exactly like my job. Yes, my effort does affect my growth but I can’t simply produce the desired outcome from my performance alone. I’m learning that while I certainly play a part in my maturity I can’t just will it through hard work. This has not only shaped my own spiritual formation but it changes how I encourage other believers.  When a brother comes to me sharing a struggle with sin I realize I can’t just take him to the mat for not working hard enough but I must take him to the cross to rest in Christ’s work for him. I find many Christians genuinely desiring to grow but they end up throwing up their hands in discouragement saying, “I’m trying but things don’t seem to be changing.” I think as weary believers, we can go from feeling frustrated to feeling free as we take the yoke off our own backs and place it on Jesus.

Gospel-centered sanctification tethers becoming (growing) to being (identity) by making Christ’s accomplishments and provision for us the catalyst of our lives. Here are eight characteristics of gospel-centered sanctification that frame our theology of the doctrine while also steering our practice.

1. News, Not Advice

“And this word is the good news that was preached to you.” (1 Pet. 1:25)

The gospel is first and foremost an announcement. It is news about the historical events related to the life, death, and resurrection of the God-man Jesus.[1]  And it is good news because the objective events have personal significance; they are for us so we might be redeemed from our sin and reconciled to God. I do my brothers and sisters in Christ little good when I resort to offering sage advice, giving opinions, or dispensing the latest spiritual maxims.

For the gospel (and no shabby replacements) to remain the center, we must regularly remind one another of the good news of Jesus Christ. We retell this accomplished, objective, historical news and unpack the never-ending applications gushing from it. If the majority of my conversations sound like “you should try doing this or that” instead of “Jesus has already done this for you” then I’m headed out to the stormy sea of advice and opinion.

“Advice often masquerades as the gospel. Messages filled with advice to help people improve their lives or turn over a new leaf are in contradiction to the nature of the gospel—news we respond to, not insight we should consider heeding.”[2] Also see: 1 Cor. 15:1-8; Eph. 1:13-14; Acts 15:6.

read the rest here.

Reblog: A Good Name

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A good name is more desirable than great riches; To be esteemed is better than silver or gold. - Proverbs 22:1
How important is your name? Sports columnist Skip Bayless reported this interesting story:
Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, offered sports-talk host David Kaplan $50,000 to have his name legally changed to “Dallas Maverick.”  When Kaplan declined, Cuban responded by offering to pay Kaplan $100,000 and donate $100,000 to Kaplan’s favorite charity if he took the name for one year.
Kaplan did some soul searching, but held firm. “I’d be saying I’d do anything for money,” he explained, “and that bothers me. My name is my birthright. I’d like to preserve my integrity and credibility.”
Building a reputation of integrity and reliability happens by establishing a consistent track record of sound decisions and hard work. And no amount of money or fleeting temptation is worth its undoing.

Gingerbread Houses 2013

IMG_7018 (2)Here is the lobby of the JM Marriott Resort at Desert Ridge.

IMG_7045 (2)The bases of the houses were 4′x6′.  The entire display took 17 pastry chefs 45 days to complete.

IMG_7034 (2)Our neighbor, Judy and the girls posing in front of the huge Christmas trees.

IMG_7022 (2)They used 4,000 pounds of gingerbread dough, 25,000 eggs and 2,000 pounds of icing.

It will be fun to see what they do next year! Merry Christmas! Everyone!

Reblog: Ask RC

Can a person who has committed suicide go to heaven?

Yes. Heaven is not a place for those who did not sin. It is a place for those whose sins are covered by the blood of Christ. The question, however, is understandable for at least three reasons.

Is suicide unforgiveable?

First, murder is a most grievous sin. Once we get past the common evangelical error that all sins are equally wicked (see an earlier piece here) we recognize that murder will surely be one of the biggest sins. After all, we are told those who practice these things will not see the kingdom of heaven (Gal. 5:21). That said, however, we know of at least two men guilty of murder who are in heaven, David, and Paul.  The list in Galatians 5 is not a list of unforgivable sins. Instead it is a list of those sins, which when they are practiced, evidence a lack of saving faith. Practicing these sins, however, is not the same thing as committing them. We practice these sins, or any sin, when we give up, when we no longer fight the temptation, when we embrace the sin as good.  When, however, we fight, when we repent for falling into these sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins (I John 1:9).

read the rest here.

Merry Christmas 2013

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This year I celebrated a Charlie Brown Christmas.  It was fun remembering things from my childhood, Charlie Brown being one.  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas  and remember the answer to Charlie Brown’s question, “What is Christmas is all about anyways?”

Linus answers, Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”[3

Luke 2:8-14

Reblog: New Life Daily Mediation

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Prayer and Meditation

But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him. - Habakkuk 2:20

Although we don’t think about it much, our communication with God consists of two equally important parts: prayer and meditation. Prayer is talking to God. Most of us have this aspect down. Meditation is listening to God.  And it’s here that most of us need a bit of work.

Have you ever been in a relationship where the other person does all the talking? It gets old fast, doesn’t it?  The one up side is you become a good listener while the other person gets everything off his/her chest. But there’s a down side too: always listening and never talking leads you to begin to feel unknown, a little unloved, and sometimes, even used.

Now, think about how this applies to your relationship with God. Are you doing all the talking, without ever taking the time to listen? If you’re sharing with Him from the depths of your heart, that’s fantastic!  By all means, keep it up.  Just make sure, that you also take the time to use the ears of your heart to listen to God as well.

Remember, God tends to speak with a still, small voice; He very rarely shouts at His children. I heard it explained this way once, “God is a gentleman.” That’s why meditation is such an important aspect of prayer.  It teaches you to develop a quiet, patient heart and an open, attentive ear. These are essential components to growing in your walk with the Lord.

Christmas Lights in Phoenix

IMG_6980 (2)This years light display travels took us to the Princess Resort, we were not disappointed.

IMG_6959 (2)more lights…

IMG_6974 (2)While waiting to ride the train through the festive grounds we were snowed upon by the snow machine.  It was about 65* at the time.

IMG_6984 (2)This 4 story tree blinked on and off with the rhythms of the Christmas music. The colors changed and the snowflakes lit up.  What a sight!

Saving Quilts

IMG_6811 (2)It so hard to pass up these beautiful baby quilts at Savers and Goodwill.  The price tags are $2-$3 and I’m a sucker almost every time.

IMG_6812 (2)I’ll be adding some extra quilting soon and seeing who I can pass them along to.

Reblog: 12 Reasons You Should Pray Scripture

bible1. You should pray Scripture because God’s people in the OT and NT did.

It’s not always logical to argue that we should do something merely because the Bible records God’s people doing it. Sometimes OT narratives or the book of Acts describe practices without prescribing them. But I can’t think of a one good reason that we shouldn’t emulate these two examples.

First, an example from the OT: When the Israelites confess their sins in Neh 9, the Levites lead the people in prayer (Neh 9:5–37). The entire prayer is scripturally informed (e.g., 9:11),1 and verse 17 quotes previous Scripture:

They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. Even when they had made for themselves a golden calf and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,’ and had committed great blasphemies . . . . (Neh 9:17–18, emphasis added)

Read the rest here.

This was an encouragement to me  ~Beth

Reblog: Daddy Looks at Porn: Can Fathers in Sexual Sin Lead Their Children?

Daddy-Looks-at-PornFrom Covenant Eyes Blog:

King Solomon stands out as one of the premier sexual sinners of the Bible. He was richer than Warren Buffet, smarter than Albert Einstein, more spiritually influential than Billy Graham, and yet he had a harem bigger than Hugh Hefner’s.  Solomon’s women would be his downfall. As predicted, the more he multiplied his wives, the more his heart turned from God (Deuteronomy 17:17; 1 Kings 3:11). His taste for foreign women was insatiable. Worse yet, this was the legacy he left for his sons; his ruling sons also multiplied wives, and the lands they ruled fell even deeper into sin (1 Kings 12:28; 14:22; 2 Chronicles 11:21; 12:1,14).

Read the rest here.

Reblog: Refocusing

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by  Steve Arterburn

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” - Romans 3:20

When Jesus walked the earth, He directed the focus off of the apparently “good” people doing apparently “good” things, and redirected people’s focus on to God. The religious leaders were pointing to the rules; Jesus pointed to Himself, through whom relationships are restored to God.

A healthy, growing faith is always focused on the person of God Himself. A healthy faith begins and ends in God, not in rules, regulations, and sheer duty. Jesus Christ, not religion, is at the core of a robust Christian faith.

Today Jesus Christ offers people like you and me the same opportunity He gave to people in the early church. The choice is ours. We can insist on performing and conforming out of obligation, and we can try to feel good by chalking up good deeds.

Or you can choose Christ’s way. You can love God with all our heart, mind, and soul.  You can experience His love and get to know Him intimately. You can stop hiding behind religious facades and meet Him right where you are. You can focus on Him and find sanity, rest, and peace when all hell seems to be breaking loose around you.

Life is not about you. Surrender yourself to Christ’s love and acceptance. Grow closer to Him. Make Him—not your “good deeds” or anyone or anything else—the focus of your life. You’ll never regret it.

“Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are.” - Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945)

~This came in my email box today.  Right on, I say.  You can sign up for these daily devotions from New Life Ministries.    Beth