Archive for April, 2016

“Men don’t talk honestly with each other.” “Women don’t talk constructively with each other.”

“Do those comments ring bells for you? Of course, neither generalization is always true. Moral issues apply across gender lines. But both comments are true enough often enough to make you think. Men don’t talk honestly? It’s the easiest thing in the world for a conversation to remain superficial and self-concealing, never getting to anything that actually matters. Empty words. And, of course, many women do the same, and just keep it light. Are your conversations pointless? Women don’t talk constructively? It’s the easiest thing in the world for a conversation to be revealingly honest, but never get anywhere helpful. Unfruitful words. And, of course, many men do this too, saying what they really think and feel, but not going anywhere good. Do your conversations rehearse what’s wrong but never pursue making it right? How do we begin to change how we talk with each other?’
…our Triune God teaches us to have meaningful conversations with him. The Psalms and the other prayers in Scripture are candid, constructive, relevant and grace-filled. They teach us to remember who he is. As we listen, we learn to talk honestly about what is good or bad about us. We learn to speak of hard things as well as happy things in our circumstances. We learn to cry out where we need help, and sing about how we are grateful. Our prayers can express care and concern for others—“I thank God every time I remember you, and I pray that your love will abound more and more with knowledge and all discernment” (Phil 1:3, 9). Prayer gets to what most matters and to what’s true.
…Listen in to how Scripture shows us what it’s like to talk with God. Talk about the same kinds of things with other people. Our Father teaches us to traffic in reality—addressing the best and the hardest things in life. You can’t live in reality without seeing both, and remembering your Lord in the midst of it. Facing the hard things, you can be honest about your need. Receiving the good things, you can express joy and thanks. As you learn to pray about what matters, you are also learning to talk with other people about what matters. It’s a curious thing, but entirely reasonable once you grasp the principle. Jesus’ conversations and prayers are about the same things. He’s committed to you and working in you. You, and I, and all of us together can become much more honest and much more constructive!”
-Excerpts from “Straight Talk” by David Powlison

What does it mean to be hospitable?

“The answer lies close at hand, in the word itself. The biblical term for “hospitality” is really a combination of two words, “love” or “friendship” and “stranger.” Hospitality is not first of all a matter of offering a perfunctory word of welcome to someone whom we do not know. Nor does it consist simply in entertaining guests or furnishing a richly spread dinner table, though these may be very important ways of showing hospitality. In its simplest and most basic meaning, hospitality means showing a regard, an interest in, a special affection and favor toward, those who are strangers or aliens. In the life of the church, it means that all the members, but especially the officebearers, should make it a point to welcome and receive in a kind and gracious way those who are strangers to us or our fellowship.

Now, if you were to ask, why does our heavenly Father want His children to be hospitable?, the answer is clear: because the gospel is all about God’s gracious hospitality toward us sinners. Were we not strangers to God and His covenant? And yet, God took us in! Were we not outside the fellowship of Christ, by nature objects of God’s wrath? And yet, God embraced us in His favor. Were we not aliens in the earth, like our father Adam, banished from God’s presence? And yet, God came to us, invited us to sit at His table, dressed us in the garments of royalty, and furnished that table with the finest of foods.

How then could a believer, toward whom God has shown such extraordinary hospitality, refuse hospitality toward a brother or a sister who is a stranger?

Reformed churches and believers, especially pastors and elders, should not be, as so many allege, “xenophobic,” that is, characterized by an unnatural fear of strangers. They ought to be, by God’s grace, hospitable, known for their warm welcome and kindness toward strangers. Is this true of you? Of your congregation? Within the context of a church community that pursues hospitality, the proclamation of God’s gracious welcome to us in Christ will have the ring of authenticity.”

-Cornel Venema

How should the Christian face death?

“We should regard death as a vanquished enemy whose sting has been taken away by Christ’s death.
We should think of him (death) as a foe who can hurt our body for a little while, but after that, there’s nothing more he can do. We should await his approaches with calmness and patience and believe that when flesh fails our soul will be in good keeping.
That was the mind of dying Stephen. ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!’ That was the mind of the apostle Paul. When the time of his departure was at hand he said, ‘I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed to Him against that day.’…Happy indeed are those who have a last end like that.”
“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:51-55)
-J.C. Ryle