Thursday, October 25, 2012

Charles Simeon on the joy of Christian service

Charles Simeon wrote of the joys of pastoral service in a personal letter to another laborer and described his work this way:

Surely this is happiness, to taste the love of God, to find delight in his service, and to see that we are in a measure instrumental to. the imparting of this happiness to others,—this I say is a felicity which nothing but heaven can exceed.

Simeon, Charles, 1759-1836; Carus, William, 1804-1891; McIlvaine, Charles Pettit, 1799-1873. Memoirs of the life of the Rev. Charles Simeon .. (Kindle Locations 2402-2404). New York, Pittsburgh, R. Carter.

Friday, October 19, 2012

How to Prepare Yourself for the Lord's Supper

1 Corinthians 11:28 says each person should examine themselves before eating the bread and drinking the cup at the Lord's Table. Here are the four bare minimum things that must be examined and obeyed before you should celebrate with fellow believers at the Lord's Table:

1. Believe solely on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Only professed believers in Jesus Christ should take the Lord's Supper. This is a meal that reflects our communion with Jesus and with fellow Christians. No one who has not entered into a relationship with God and His church should celebrate this meal.

2. Understand the nature of this meal of remembrance. The bread symbolizes Christ's body given for His church on the Cross. The wine (or juice) symbolizes the shed blood of Christ to bring forgiveness of sins and to inaugurate a new covenant with the people of God.

3. Be in a right relationship with God. No person engaged in known and unrepentant sin should partake of the meal. If you are engaged in ongoing adultery, lying (deception, fraud, etc.), rebellion against authority and so on and so forth, you must not take this meal symbolizing fellowship with God. Your unrepentant sin must be confessed as sin and turned from in repentance in order to restore your relationship with God. And friends, fear not, God forgives us of all sin and unrighteousness when we confess (1 John 1:9).

4. Be in a right relationship with others. In Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus says that when we come to the place of worship and are made aware of a breach in fellowship with another, we must go and make things right with that person before continuing to worship God. I believe this verse applies to all aspects of corporate worship, but it certainly applies to the Lord's Table. First go and be reconciled, and then come and participate in this meal symbolizing communion with God and fellowship with other believers.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Pushing Thirty: Happy to be Humbled, Part 4

(Carrie’s final post on turning 30.)

Earlier this year, a friend from college tragically passed away.  He would have turned 30 next week.  My grandparents all have battled serious health issues at one time or another this year.  A friend recently lost his teenage brother in a car accident.  Life on this earth is finite – it has a starting point and an ending point.

My starting point was 30 years ago.  Only God knows my ending point.  In between those two points, I have an opportunity.  It is called life. 

Because I am blessed to be trusting in Christ for my life and my salvation, I have assurance that my life continues even after my death. And that life will be so fabulous I can’t even imagine it. (Better even than the chocolate truffle and cup of orange spice tea I’m about to enjoy.  Happy birthday to me.)  But until that time comes, there is a life to be lived.

This birthday, and the brevity of life which has been at the fore of my mind, have caused me to ask myself the question, “What have I been doing these thirty years?”  I mean, there’s something very humbling about the discovery that I am not invincible and that how I spend my life really does matter. Some people my age are doctors by now, some are still living in their parents’ house (which was me 2 years ago, so I’m OK with that!), some are living lives of leisure and money, some are raising families, some are knee-deep in education or high-powered careers, some are just scraping by.

I think for all the “achievements” I’ve had in my life (let’s be real, it’s a short list), none of them really compares to a few very treasured parts of my last 30 years.  First, my family.  My husband, whom I respect and love more than any other man on this earth, and my three boys make life fun, awe-inspiring, always a learning experience, and sometimes challenging.  Second, extended family and friends have all added something to my life just by being who they are and living life with me.  Third, the church is teaching me to look up in faith to the God who is always enough and to learn what it means to live in Biblical community with other Christians.  Fourth, even the losses in life, which at the time were heart-wrenching, have caused me to lean into the strong arms of a tender Father.

With my genes, I have a pretty decent shot at living past 90.  So it’s possible I’m at the one third mark in my life.  It’s a great place to stop and re-evaluate my life trajectory.  I find myself making a few adjustments.

I’d like to care less about my own image and more about Christ’s.  I’d like to prioritize my own comforts below the needs of the three little men I am raising.  I’d like to slow down on the to-do lists and enjoy the moments to invest in the people around me.  I’d like to spend more time willingly bowing before the throne of Grace in dress rehearsal for eternity.

I think this whole getting older thing has been surprisingly good for me.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to slow down, take stock of where I’ve been, and think more deliberately about where I’m going.  It’s been good to look back on the many blessings I’ve received.  And it has been humbling to look back and realize that God has sometimes even used me to be a blessing to others, often despite myself. 

And it’s fun getting flowers and chocolate, too.

Here’s to another 30, or 60, or however many years of really living.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Books finished in September 2012

Memoirs by Eugene Peterson (a delightful read of one pastor's journey from start to almost finish)

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald (a fun tale that shows that you sometimes have to put trust in what is unseen because you see its impact around you)

Christian Beliefs by Wayne Grudem (short read on 10 important theological doctrines)

Improving Your Serve by Charles Swindoll (a sweet reminder of our calling as Christians to serve and give our lives away)