February 14, 2016

Quotes from Today’s Service

Posted in Personal impact/anecdotes, Sunday school/service tagged , , , , , , at 7:12 pm by sanguinemare

Here were some quotes that really hit me from today’s service (and one from a previous week) – underlined parts are just my own emphasis:

“Men will never worship God with a sincere heart… until they properly understand how much they are indebted to His mercy.” – John Calvin

“Legalistic remorse says, ‘I broke God’s rules,’ while real repentance says, ‘I broke God’s heart.‘” – Tim Keller

“For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.” – Ezekiel 18:32

Reflecting on these, I think the common theme is men’s hearts, or more specifically, the state of my own heart.  I’ve been on a bit of a spiritual low lately, and these were a good reminder to reflect how cold my heart has become, and that maybe part of that is in not fully appreciating God’s Mercy and Grace to us.  Which perhaps is also why I often find myself on the legalistic side of Tim Keller’s quote, where I feel bad about breaking God’s rules, but maybe not to the level of understanding that it’s deeper than that.  Breaking God’s rules is not just something a naughty kid has done to a parent, but rather, something that breaks God’s heart because He knows that this path is one that will be of heartache to me, and I am doing it of my own volition.  Sin is breaking us both from the potential that He has given us to be, and the ability to draw near to Him, and both of those break His heart.

The last quote I think is helpful encouragement, in light of all this.  It’s a reminder that God is not simply the wrathful God that people so easily brush Him off to be, in the Old Testament especially – the one who just wants to see people burn and die – but rather he is a loving God who wants people to repent of their sins, to turn to him, and thus, to truly live.

August 27, 2014

How to answer the “What about the nice, good people out there who never hear about Jesus before they die?” question

Posted in Sunday school/service at 2:35 am by sanguinemare

We were talking about Romans 1:18-23 today in growth group (we would have covered the rest of the chapter tonight, but I kind of accidentally sent the convo spiraling on a tangent ^.^||) and got to the question of well, in light of the fact that part of human nature is to worship, and without God, we will find something else to fill the void… what happens to those people who never hear about Jesus, but who do recognize some higher power through creation, as mentioned in the chapter, and just believe in another deity/religion because that’s what was around them, and they are “good” people?

This is a question I wrestle with sometimes, personally when it comes up in sermons or talks, and also when people ask me about it, because I don’t have a great answer.  There’s the idea of inclusivity vs. exclusivity, where the former says that well, as long as they strove to be upright in all they did, there’s a possibility they can also be saved after death given their circumstances, like at the end of the Chronicles of Narnia series.  The latter however, says that Jesus is the only way anyone can be saved (Acts 4:12 and Romans 10:10-17 were the passages referenced by people in my group to answer this question), and thus the need for urgency of spreading the Gospel, as well as support for the exclusivity principle.

What I thought was a good perspective though, was how someone responded to the question I asked about how to respond to the inevitable follow-up question to the exclusivity idea, which is usually somewhere along the lines of “but that’s not fair – they can’t help that they weren’t told the gospel before they died”.  He said they when he had a similar conversation with a friend, his response was “well, since you do happen to be one of the ones fortunate enough to hear about it, how are you feeling about it right now, in your heart?” Eh, well he probably said it a lot more eloquent than that – I can’t remember exactly how he phrased it but it was less awkward and more impactful-sounding than what I wrote here, haha.  But basically, he said he’d felt that the friend was trying to see if he would say that it was possible those people could be saved without Jesus, which would become self-justification for himself to not need Jesus for salvation.  That was an interesting perspective on that question that I’d never thought about – usually I think people would be asking it because they were frustrated that Christians didn’t have answers and/or because they felt like God was not fair and therefore not worthy to put trust and devotion to.  But after hearing my growth group member’s perspective, I would add to that and say that maybe in asking the question that way, it distances themselves from “other people”, so they can advocate for and steer the conversation focus onto nebulous “others” rather than needing to self-reflect and think about what the gospel means for their lives specifically, or how they feel about it.

Anyways, just thought it was a good way to think about the question and the response.  In discussions like these, the most important thing is to bring the conversation back to Christ, what He did on the cross, and the amazingness of his saving grace.  I tend to forget that and just get lost in philosophical discussions that are all in the realm of the theoretical and unknown, and forget that ultimately, having a relationship with Christ and God is what is the most important.

August 11, 2013

Great quotes from today’s sermon

Posted in Sunday school/service tagged , , at 7:12 pm by sanguinemare

We talked about Luke 17 today, where we were showed many examples of what it meant to live like a true disciple of Christ.  Once concept our pastor talked about was the principle of fighting sin, but being eager and quick to forgive when someone sins against us.  Here are some quotes/excepts from our notes page for today:

“We should be willing to rebuke the wayward:

Nothing can be more cruel than the leniency which abandons others to their sin.  Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together)

We should be willing to forgive the repentant:

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

Disciples trust Jesus alone and thank Jesus openly (v. 11-19):

The best of us are far too like the nine lepers.  We are more ready to pray than to praise, and more disposed to ask God for what we have not, than to thank Him for what we have.  Murmurings, complainings, and discontent abound on every side of us.  Few indeed are to be found who are not continually hiding their mercies under a bushel, and setting their needs and trials on a hill.  These things ought not so to be. (J.C. Ryle)”

January 29, 2012

Why do you go to church?

Posted in Sunday school/service tagged , , , at 8:41 pm by sanguinemare

Words of wisdom from the local Christian radio station today (paraphrased): You don’t go to church to see “what can I get from it?” but to give – to give praises to God and be joyful and thankful for what He has given to you.  It’s a time devoted to praising God.

I thought this was an interesting concept and a good reminder.  So many times we go to church and are, in a sense, judging how “good” the church is.  Our response to the question of “why do you go to ____ church?” is something along the lines of “the Pastor is good/has good messages” or “the music is great”, or sometimes even “my friends/family go there.”  And this is one of the reasons people church-hop so much, because they are always searching for something better that they can receive from the church – better speakers, better music, better community.  But we forget that not only are we trying to get something out of church – which is also important – but it is time for us to give.  To give thanks for what we have, to give encouragment to each other, and to use this protected time to give praise to God. 

Having not grown up in a Christian family, it was always a privilege for me to be able to go to church, because it was such a rare occurence.  Now, I am able to drive myself to church every week, and enjoy it.  But I also find myself being kind of elitist – oh I don’t like big churches because I feel lost, this pastor is new and doesn’t speak as well, the music is not as good as my last church so I can’t really get into it… so many complaints, so many “I wish they could” or “if only they did this it would be so much better”… but that’s not all what going to church is about.  It’s about enjoying time with God, loving Him, praising Him, and being able to just BE with Him – something we often don’t find enough time for the rest of the week.

So next time you go to church, don’t just sit there and passively listen.  Don’t think about all the things that could be better about your church or the people around you.  Use that time to thank God and appreciate all He has done for you. Use that time to renew yourself in Him, and to love Him as he loves you.