Be The Type You’re Looking For

For the single and searching, the lyrics of U2 find their place, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”. For the single and pursuing, the response, “You’re just not my type!” stings and leaves the heart sick. Whether you relate and resonate more with the first group or the second group, the common denominator is they both address the kind of person someone desires to be with in a relationship. Yet, questions abound for the Christian single: How does Scripture inform the characteristics you are looking for in a potential spouse? Furthermore, before you even begin a pursuit, do you know what type of person you are? With these two questions in mind, I believe Scripture encourages us to be the type of person we are looking for and to search for someone who is committed to the same characteristics. What characteristics define such a person? Holiness, humility, honesty, hospitality, and humor.

Pursue Holiness

This first characteristic may best be summed up by the saying, “Run as fast as you can toward God, and if someone keeps up, introduce yourself.” But what does it look like to run toward God? 1 Peter 1:15–16 helps us out here by pointing us to the character of God, “but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” Our holy God commands us as His followers to imitate Him in this way. To pursue a life of holiness means not living for self-comfort but living to be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ. The one who pursues holiness will prioritize time with God in Scripture and through prayer as well as commitment to the local church. Therefore, in your life reflect the character of God and seek someone committed to the same.

Display Humility

The reality is we all fall short of this first characteristic. Holiness doesn’t mark every moment of our lives. The second characteristic takes this into account. Our response when we sin is not to give up on pursuing holiness or to simply try harder. Our response when we fail in this pursuit of holiness is to look to Jesus Christ. The cross of Christ reminds us we are not justified by our own righteousness or holiness. We are saved by the grace of God through the person and work of Jesus Christ in the gospel. It is this truth of the gospel that produces a repentant heart and a teachable spirit to those who receive it. It is the gospel that enables each of us as believers to display humility in our thoughts, words, and actions. To display humility, first and foremost, means to submit to the authority of God’s Word. Submissive to God’s Word, humility among human relationships mean to listen and learn before speaking up, to “be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). Humility shows up in the midst of conflict as well. The display of humility in the midst of conflict leads to repentance, “Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (James 4:9–10). A mind of humility strives to be like Christ, thinking of others and looking to other’s interests first and God’s glory ultimately (Philippians 2:1–11). As you pray to God for someone who displays humility, plead with Him to give you a humble heart in the process.

Speak Honestly

The gospel not only changes our attitudes; the gospel also changes our words. After introducing the subject of the new life in Christ, the Apostle Paul begins to detail what this new life looks like, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another” (Ephesians 4:25). While the immediate context is to the church, the principle can be applied to any interaction we have with others. Speaking honestly means more than just not lying; speaking honestly means speaking truthfully as well as speaking transparently. As trust is an essential ingredient in any relationship, if you see the importance of honesty in a future spouse and relationship, then commit yourself to being a person who will speak the truth when inquired and confronted and who will speak with transparency for the sake of accountability.

Practice Hospitality

Being the type of person you are looking for is about more than simply a man pursuing a woman. It is about having an outward-focused life and making disciples. The practice of hospitality is one such avenue to both evangelize to the lost and build up believers in the faith. Hospitality is about having an open heart and home. One of the qualifications for a church leader, someone who is to be an example to the flock they oversee, is that they be hospitable (1 Timothy 3:2). 1 Peter 4:9 tells us how we are to do this, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling”. The person who practices hospitality opens their heart to others and welcomes them into their life. If your hope is to be with someone who cares for others, then make sure you are someone who is practicing an others-oriented life.

Value Humor

If you are striving to be the type you are looking for by pursuing these first four characteristics, then you are doing well. But I believe one necessary characteristic remains: humor. While Scripture may not explicitly uphold this characteristic on the same level as the previous four characteristics, humor still has an important place in a relationship. Proverbs 31:25 mentions laughter and Proverbs 17:22 values a joyful heart as good medicine. Having a sense of humor and finding someone with the same value allows you to joke around and laugh together during the high and low seasons of life.

Christian single, as you look for a person who exhibits these five characteristics, prepare yourself to be the type who pursues holiness, displays humility, speaks honestly, practices hospitality, and values humor. Be the type you are looking for.

Book Announcement: Are We United?

October 31, 2017 will mark the 500th anniversary of the birth of the Reformation. Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the Wittenburg Castle Church on October 31, 1517 put in motion a call for the Church to return to biblical truth and an exhortation to submit to Scripture alone in reforming believers and the church in belief and practice, namely how one is saved. The events of the Reformation drew the dividing line between Protestants and Catholics. The reaction of the Catholic church to the Reformation made clear Protestants and Catholics were not unified in the gospel. One was in line with the gospel and the other was out of step and headed toward destruction. The Reformation, resting on the authority of Scripture alone, revealed Protestants who believed salvation was found in trusting Christ alone by grace through faith alone were those in line with the gospel.Yet, today there seems to be a call for unity between Protestants and Catholics. The problem is not that we stand together on social issues. Protestants should stand beside their Catholic friends to speak for the unborn and to care for the poor. However, does this mean Protestants and Catholics ought to unite in the gospel? Pastor Brandon Sutton answers this question is his new book, Are We United? The Question for Protestants and Catholics. Are We United? looks to the truth of God’s Word and asks whether Protestants and Catholics are united in the gospel. Pastor Sutton examines the material cause of the Reformation, justification, and the formal cause of the Reformation, authority. 500 years after the birth of the Reformation, we still need to answer this question clearly. It makes all the eternal difference. May this book serve you well in pointing you to The Book. Purchase your copy HERE! (If you use BOOKSHIP17, you will receive 10% off and free shipping; discount ends October 9!)

When Christ is Supreme

I am angry. My heart remains heavy as I still try to process the events from last Saturday in Charlottesville. The displays and touts of white supremacy are sinful and pure evil. Yet, I am not only angry. I am disturbed. I am distraught over the response of some white brothers and sisters in Christ. What follows is not meant to condemn but to rebuke and correct. This cultural moment calls for Christian unity, not political pairings.

The Matter

When Colin Kaepernick chose to protest and sit during the National Anthem, some of these same white brothers and sisters were vocal about their disagreement with it. Whether you agree or disagree with Colin’s stance, the reality is it was a matter of free speech. What happened last Friday evening into Saturday was not. The actions of the Alt Right were blatantly sinful. Their hatred for other groups and races reveal the wickedness in their hearts. The proper response to such a malicious mindset is to speak out against it and to name racism for what it is: sin.

The Wrong Response

I am grateful for those who have spoken up on behalf of others in the body of Christ, particularly standing with their black brothers and sisters in Christ. At the same time, I am grieved by what I see from some who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ. In this cultural moment, their response to this tragedy is to get political. In the face of racism’s display, their stance is to argue about the statutes and to stand up for the president at what seems to be no matter the cost, even when his words fail to forcefully denounce such a sinful mentality. Don’t misunderstand me: we need to be praying for our president. However, that does not mean we have to affirm everything he says and does.

To Remain Silent is Sin

I want to be clear and say I am not calling my white brothers and sisters in Christ racists. But I feel I must say a word to my white brothers and sisters in Christ: we cannot remain silent. I believe to remain silent on this issue is sin. The Word of God from James 4:17 reminds us, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” Two chapters earlier, James exposes the Christian to the sin of partiality. So, for the one who calls themselves a Christian, knows racism is sin, but never speaks out against it, they are committing sin.

My Confession of This Sin

In transparency, I write these words as one who has committed such sin. In the past, my apathetic heart was not overly angered at the real issues going on. While I never would affirm or support racism, I failed to speak up for my brothers and sisters in Christ of other races. While I have shown private support for my black brothers and sisters, my public proclamations fail to mirror the unity I have with them in the gospel. To that neglect, I say “No more!”. I confess my apathy and my fear of speaking up. I ask for forgiveness from my black brothers and sisters in Christ. I repent of remaining silent when I know the right thing to do is speak up.

The Supremacy of Christ for the Joy of All Peoples

So, hear me my white brothers and sisters in Christ: We must speak out against the sin of white supremacy and denounce racism. We cannot live in a way which denies racism still exists or that downplays the problem we face. We all have been made in the image of God and are equal in dignity (Genesis 1:26-28). We must speak up and stand with all our brothers and sisters in Christ, showing we are one in Christ. When we do, we show the power of the gospel and witness to the world the supremacy of Christ. Because when Christ is supreme, our primary response to such events will not be political but spiritual, calling out sin. When Christ is supreme, we will be willing to listen to those who are of a different culture and color than our own instead of shutting them out with our preferences and presuppositions. When Christ is supreme, we will not seek to justify every word the president says but we will live out the Word of our God and Redeemer. Because when Christ is supreme, it is for the joy of all peoples (Revelation 5:9-10, 7:9-10).

An ‘Entrusted’ Life with Claudine Broussard

This is the second interview in a series entitled An ‘Entrusted’ Life (Our first interview featured author Jaquelle Crowe and can be found here). This series serves to introduce you to Christians who display faithful stewardship amid an entitlement culture. This interview features Claudine Broussard. Claudine is a young writer from the East Coast. She is the co-author of Seeking Jesus: Stepping into a Life of Bold Surrender, Freedom, and Deep Joy (you can read our review of the book here). As copywriter/designer at Forward Marketing, she partners with churches and businesses to amplify their message. When not writing, she can be found playing Celtic and classical music, devouring a good book, or vending at a farmer’s market.

Claudine, would you begin by sharing your testimony of how you came to saving faith in Jesus Christ? Who and what did God use in your life to point you to Christ?

Claudine: I’ve been so blessed to grow up in a Christ-centered home. My parents created a climate saturated with joy, love, and the truth of God’s Word. One of the mottos we live by is, “When the doors of the church are open, you should be there!” Because of their faithfulness in taking me and my siblings to church, I encountered the gospel at an early age.

When I was just 3 years old, I recognized my need for a Saviour. My dad and I sat on white plastic lawn chairs as he explained the gospel to me. After he finished, I prayed to accept Christ as my personal Saviour. A weight of guilt was lifted off my heart. We walked up the stairs together to tell my mom, and she told me that the angels were having a party because of my decision (Luke 15:10). I remember being filled with new joy and jumping up and down in excitement. I’m so thankful for how God used His Word and my parents’ faithfulness to reach me with the gospel at a young age.

You have co-authored a book with Jason Homan, Seeking Jesus: Stepping into a Life of Bold Surrender, Freedom, and Deep Joy. Oftentimes, people pit surrender against joy. To surrender oneself makes for a life of drudgery, not joy. How do you take a different approach in this book?

Claudine: I can definitely relate to the struggle to surrender completely to God. There have been seasons in my life when I covered my ears to block out the voice of God. With one hand, I held Him at arm’s length. With the other hand, I clutched my goals and dreams in a tightly closed fist. I refused to surrender to His will. Yet a nagging sense of guilt, of things left undone, dogged my steps.

At the heart of my struggle was a lack of trust in God. I did not believe that He was truly good, truly wise, and truly generous. I feared what He would do with my life if I gave Him everything. What if I ended up as an old maid or a missionary to Fiji? (My apologies to any missionaries to Fiji 🙂 ) Yet, time after time, God patiently spoke to my heart. Not with a harsh command, not with a lengthy lecture, but with a gentle call to surrender. His Spirit would move in my heart, convicting me of my rebellion. Sooner or later, I would choose to surrender.

And I discovered a fascinating truth. Surrender to God gives me both freedom and real joy! Instead of trudging miserably through a swamp of disobedience, I can walk freely and happily down the path of His will. In our book, we explore what it means to truly surrender to God. Serving God is an amazing adventure, and it’s definitely not a life of drudgery. He is absolutely good and incredibly generous. Yes, it can be very difficult to surrender to God. But there is no sweeter place to be than in the center of His will.

In chapter 2 of Seeking Jesus, you share the story of how God used your time at Bible camp to call you into Christian ministry. How does learning to submit to God relate to the biblical concept of stewardship?

Claudine: The foundational truth behind both stewardship and surrender is that we belong to Christ. Often, we struggle to surrender because we have an incorrect perspective. We have assumed ownership of the time, talents, and treasures that belong to Someone else. When God asks us to surrender something, we feel that He is asking for a personal favour. “After all, it’s mine!

Yet, as a Christian, I know that my life is not my own. It was bought with the precious blood of Christ. Stewardship is not a favour I give to Him. Rather, it is a privilege that He gives to me. For the years I walk this earth, I get to borrow this body—to read with these eyes, sing with this voice, and write with these hands. I get to use His stuff, spend His time, and employ His gifts. To be a faithful steward of these, I need to submit to His plan for my life.

With a call into Christian ministry, how did you come to the realization God had given you the skill and platform of writing? How have you stewarded this talent?

Claudine: In the spring of 2015, Pastor Jason Homan started Forward Magazine, an online magazine for conservative Christians. I enjoyed reading the first few issues, but the headline that caught my eye read, “We need your help!” The editor went on to request article and photo submissions. I thought, “What if I submitted something? Could I write something good enough to be published?”

One afternoon, a wave of inspiration flooded my mind. I sat down and wrote an article on rosemary—how its fragrance reminded me of the fragrance our lives can be to the Lord (2 Corinthians 2:15). I found it both challenging and delightful to capture in words the beauty of a simple idea, a transient impression. I nervously submitted my article to Forward Magazine, and I was so happy to see it in print.

Over the next year, I wrote several more articles for Forward. I gratefully realized that God had given me a gift and a love for writing. After I overcame the initial writer’s block, I absolutely loved the creative process. Words gave me power—to express, to create, to paint a bare-bones idea in a thousand different hues. With words, I could shape ideas and define truth.

Last summer, God provided a part-time job which has grown to include writing for church blogs, marketing, and graphic design. In the fall, Jason Homan approached me and asked if I would like to co-author a book with him. We began last October and released our book, Seeking Jesus, on June 7. Throughout those months of writing and editing and marketing, I experienced the grace of God and my need for Him in a deeper way than ever before. God has been teaching me not to rely on my gifts, but rather to rely on Him. His grace is more than enough for my need.

Young people today are sometimes portrayed as entitled beings. However, as Christians, we know we are not our own (Romans 14:7–8, 1 Cor. 6:19–20). How does the understanding that we exist to glorify God and live for Him impact your writing?

Claudine: I am simply a steward of the hours, resources, and abilities He has lent me. Each starry night I gaze upon, each melody that lingers in my ears, each sentence I type—these are gifts of His grace. Without Him, I can do nothing (John 15:5). I cannot touch a life with pixels on a screen. I cannot write words that matter. I cannot discern what my readers need right now. But the glorious truth is this…He can, and He wants to use me! God doesn’t need my help to carry out His plans. He could progress a lot faster without my stumbling efforts. Yet because He loves me, God wants me to be involved. What an incredible privilege and joy it is to live for the glory of our Saviour! For He is so worthy.

An ‘Entrusted’ Life with Jaquelle Crowe

This is the first interview in a series entitled An ‘Entrusted Life. This series serves to introduce you to Christians who display faithful stewardship amid an entitlement culture. This first interview is with Jaquelle Crowe. For those of you who may not be familiar, Jaquelle Crowe is a gifted 19-year-old writer and speaker from eastern Canada. She is the editor-in-chief of TheRebelution.com and a regular contributor to desiringGod.orgThe Gospel CoalitionUnlocking the Bible, and Beliefnet. She is the author of This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years (Crossway), which releases this month.

Jaquelle, thank you for your willingness to take part in this interview. Before we discuss your first published book, I would like for you to share with us your story as a writer. First, what gave you such a passion for writing? Along with that, when did you start to get serious about your work as a writer?

Jaquelle: My love for writing really started with a love for storytelling. As a little kid, I was constantly making up elaborate stories with my dolls (even before I could write) and as I got older, this naturally led into a love for writing these stories down. Non-fiction was something I dabbled in throughout elementary school but got passionate about the summer I turned 12. This was when I started a blog (largely from the encouragement of my parents) and began to record reflections of what I was learning in God’s Word and in his world. I was captivated by the art of making beautiful sentences and drawn to the capacity of non-fiction to tell truth compellingly.

I started to get increasingly more serious about writing when I was 16 and formally decided to pursue it vocationally when I was 17. Shortly before I turned 18, God provided an idea for a book and an incredible literary agent – and then a few months later, he provided a publisher and a book contract!

Now, here you are at 19 years old with your first published book, This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms Our Teen Years. What were your motivating factors in writing a book on this subject?

Jaquelle: For me, the desire to write a book existed before the idea of what book to write. Because of that, I found myself routinely asking, “What kind of book should I write?” And eventually the question turned into, “If I could only write one book, what would it be?” And I realized it was this: a book for fellow Christian teenagers who wanted encouragement and instruction on how to follow Jesus as a teen. This was the book I wanted to read. Since I started the book at 17, it was (and still is) deeply relevant for the stage of life I was at.

Furthermore, I knew so many teens who were pursuing holiness or wanted to pursue holiness, and they were left to read books by adults and for adults. I also knew teens who were struggling in their Christian walk, who wanted to read something written for them, something robust but not exhaustive, something theological yet practical, something fun but deep. They wanted something specific – a book on how the gospel transforms the season of life they’re in right now.

Your book is said to be a “deeply theological and yet practical and accessible book on how the gospel radically transforms every aspect of the teen years”. As a young adult and as a youth pastor, this book timely. Even for teenagers who profess to trust in Christ as Lord and Savior, there seems to be a disconnect between their life as a Christian and their relationships and habits. Why do you think that disconnect exists?

Jaquelle: I think culture plays a big part in this disconnect. They’ve subtly fed teenagers the lie that Christianity is not transformative. You can call yourself a Christian and do whatever you want.

Sadly, I think the church has played a part as well. There are often stunningly low spiritual expectations for teens – it’s thought that if they’re coming to church and showing some positive interest in Christianity, they’re living a gospel-centered life. But this is in radical opposition to the demanding, self-sacrificing, totally revolutionizing message of the cross.

In D.A. Carson’s endorsement of your book, he remarks, “In a culture where many young people feel entitled and struggle through the swamps of victimization, Jaquelle Crowe calls her fellow teens to Christian discipline…in response to the gospel of grace.” Based on your study of and meditation on Scripture, how does the gospel counteract an entitled mindset?

Jaquelle: From beginning to end, the gospel is a message of grace. It’s a story of us getting what we don’t deserve. We never deserved mercy, forgiveness, redemption. We never even deserved creation. We exist purely and solely because of the goodness of God. Entitlement is a self-focused framework that rejects this truth, that hates grace, and that boasts in itself. I really believe it’s an enemy of the gospel.

Where many young people are tempted to buy into an entitled mindset, you seem to work from an entrusted framework. One of the posts on your website sums it up, “That the day you hold in your grasp doesn’t belong to you. That your time is not your own. That every minute you breathe, every morning you wake up, every day you live is God’s. That you are only a steward of the time God has given you, and that you are entrusted to care for it well.” How has understanding this biblical truth affected your teenage years?

Jaquelle: The realization that my time is not my own completely changed the lens through which I viewed my teen years. I only have one life, one youth, and one fast and fleeting opportunity to make it count. I’m accountable to God for how I use this life, this uniquely precious resource he’s given me, and that means I don’t have the “freedom” (if we could call it that) to live for myself. I must live for his fame. I must use this life for his glory. It has to be about him, not me. And that perspective organically changed what I watched, what I read, how I treated my family, what kinds of friends I had, what I bought, how I dressed, how I spoke, and how I viewed things like dating and school and work.

The biblical concept of stewardship comes up not only in your life generally; it also comes up in your writing. As God has entrusted you with a gift, you are equipping and entrusting others to use the gifts God has given them. You are the co-founder of a program for young writers that you lead with Brett Harris called “The Young Writers Workshop”. Could you share with us what this program is about?

Jaquelle: Absolutely! The Young Writers Workshop is a monthly membership program for any writer aged 10-25 (from writing novices to publishing pros). We create exclusive content to motivate, encourage, and equip young writers to accomplish the individual goals and dreams they have. We interview experts, teach mechanics and skills, critique writing and book proposals, host Q&A events, facilitate a private online community for young writers, and lots more.

Brett and I firmly believe that writing is a powerful tool to serve God and that young writers have a unique capacity to wield this tool well. In the Young Writers Workshop, we teach them how to do that – write well and reach others for the glory of God.

The Key to Healthy Relationships

“What is the key to healthy relationships?” This question is not limited to the context of marriage. Healthy relationships are needed in the areas of family, friends, and church family. For those who profess faith in Christ, we know we are called to proclaim the gospel of how people can be reconciled to God. However, some of the time we miss out on showing them what that looks like in our life. In other words, we use words to share with them the gospel (which we must do) but we neglect to show how that very gospel has impacted our lives.

The Gospel and Our Relationships

The truth is the gospel changes everything. The gospel impacts every area of life, especially your relationships. So, to ask, “What is the key to a healthy relationship?” the answer is unsurprisingly the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, do not mistake the answer as an oversimplified solution. The gospel truly is the answer.

In the gospel, we see the person and work of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says it all, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” The gospel reveals our source for salvation is not in ourselves but in Christ. We are not saved by our righteousness, but by Christ’s righteousness. Only as we are in Christ are we made right with God.

Clearly, then, 2 Corinthians 5:21 speaks to our relationship with God. But how does this truth inform our relationships with one another? As Dr. Paul David Tripp shares the video above: what God gives us in His Son is a righteousness that is not our own. In our relationships, we too often live with a sense of our own “righteousness”. What does this look like? We get defensive when we feel we are being confronted or corrected. Rather than seeking to be transparent, we are known to be unapproachable. Instead of admitting to our mess, we seek to cover it up.

Our Problem

Does all this sound familiar? It should. We are all guilty of this. We somehow think we must measure up. The problem is the focus is on us. We cannot measure up. We are sinners. What the gospel does is it reveals our fallenness and leads us to confess it. We repent of our sin and we trust in the righteousness of another. We stand righteous before God because of Christ. When we realize that, we don’t try to hide the mess and pretend to be something we are not. Before God and others, we admit to our mess and deal with our mess. How do we deal with our mess? In our relationships.

The Gospel in Our Relationships

The key to any healthy relationship is the gospel. This gospel produces two essential qualities for healthy relationships:

Quality #1: The Humility of Approachability: “I become an approachable person because I am resting in a righteousness that is not my own”. When we sin, we ought to be humble enough that brothers and sisters in Christ can approach us to correct and restore us.

Quality #2: The Courage of Loving Honesty“I am not afraid to speak the truth to you because I am not afraid of your rejection, because my well-being is not in your acceptance. My well-being is in the acceptance that was purchased by righteous Christ.” When we see others living in sin, we must do the most loving thing and speak the truth to them for the sake of their salvation and sanctification.

Are You Applying the Gospel?

Are you letting the gospel impact the way you deal with your relationships? Are you an approachable person who knows they need accountability? Are you willing to speak the truth in love in your relationships, even when that means correcting and confronting? As a follower of Jesus Christ, be a humble and approachable person who is courageous enough to speak honestly and lovingly in your relationships.

15871997_10210430005099789_6580064576224717116_nThis post was written by EBG Lead Writer and Founder Theron St. John. His joy is serving God and His people, both in the church and the academy. He is the associate pastor of Blue Ridge Christian Union Church in Shelbyville, Indiana and an adjunct professor at Crossroads Bible College in Indianapolis.

Who Titles Your Life Story?

ourstoryThis blog was originally posted on Dr. Bob Kellemen’s site, RPM Ministries. Entrusted By God is re-posting it with Bob’s permission. The original post can be found here.

Two Editors to Your Life Story 

Your life is a story.

And two people seek to write the title to your story.

Satan’s Shaming Story

Satan seeks to title your life story using the lens of shame, guilt, sin, and condemnation.

Satan’s story is the story of the law…which condemns.

Christ’s Grace Story

The Author of Life is the only One with the right to name your story.

He—Christ Jesus—names your story through the lens of grace, forgiveness, the cross, justification, reconciliation, regeneration, and redemption.

Christ’s story is the story of the gospel…that forgives and makes all things new.

Consider David—Through Satan’s Law Lens

If King David were to allow Satan to write the title to his life story, what would that title be?

“The King of Sin and Shame!”

“Adulterer!”

“Murderer!”

“Hypocrite!”

“Shameful Failure!”

Consider David—Through Christ’s Gospel Lens

Instead…Christ titles King David’s story. David ends up not in Satan’s Hall of Shame.

No. David ends up in Christ’s Faith Hall of Fame.

“By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah, and about David and Samuel and the prophets. who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies” (Hebrews 11:31-34).

Did you catch who made Christ’s Faith Hall of Fame?

Rahab—the prostitute—is there—by faith.

David—the Adulterer-Murderer—is there—by faith.

That’s not enough? Here’s Christ’s title to David’s life story:
“Man After God’s Own Heart.”

Here it is, right in inspired, inerrant Scripture:

“After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ “From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised” (Acts 13:22-23).

David’s life story is sandwiched by grace. By grace he is a man after God’s own heart. In the flesh he sins gravely. By grace from David’s descendants God brings forth the Savior Jesus.

Let the Gospel Rewrite the Title to Your Life Story

Martin Luther understood how Christ’s gospel of grace rewrites our sinful, shameful life story. Luther points us to the center of Scripture—the comfort of the gospel.

“It is a falsehood, that God is an enemy of sinners, for Christ roundly and plainly declares, by commandment of the Father: ‘I am come to save sinners.’”

When we are tempted by the devil to doubt the grace of God, Luther encourages us to fight Satan’s condemning lies with gospel-grace truth.

“When the devil casts up to us our sin, and declares us unworthy of death and hell, we must say: ‘I confess that I am worthy of death and hell. What more have you to say?’ ‘Then you will be lost forever!’ ‘Not in the least: for I know One who suffered for me and made satisfaction for my sins, and his name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. So long as he shall live, I shall live also.’”

Spit on the Devil

Luther continues…

“Therefore treat the devil thus: Spit on him, and say: ‘Have I sinned? Well, then I have sinned, and I am sorry; but I will not on that account despair, for Christ has borne and taken away all my sin, yes, and the sin of the whole world, if it will only confess its sin and believe on Christ. What should I do if I had committed murder or adultery, or even crucified Christ? Why, even then, I should be forgiven, as he prayed on the cross: ‘Father, forgive them’ (Luke xxiii. 34). This I am in duty bound to believe. I have been acquitted. Then away with you, devil!’”

Luther urges us to “depend boldly upon this” in order to experience peace with God.

“Christ is not the one who accuses or threatens us, but he reconciles and intercedes for us by his own death and by his shed blood for us, that we may not be afraid of him, but draw near to him with all confidence.”

Luther counsels us to draw near to Christ with full confidence and assurance of his love. Awareness of God’s grace friendship has the power to entice prodigals to return home to the Father.

“Believe that he esteems and loves you more than does Dr. Luther or any other Christian. The conscience, spurred by the devil, the flesh, and the fallen world; says, “God is your enemy. Give up in despair.” God, in His own Fatherly love and through His Son’s grace and through His Word and through the witness of His people; says, “I have no wrath. You are accepted in the beloved. I am not angry with you. We are reconciled!”

Title Your Story through the Lens of the Gospelthestory

Who is writing the title to your life story?

Is it Satan—through his condemning/law narrative?

Or…

Is it Christ—through His grace/gospel narrative?

Join the Conversation: What is Christ’s grace-gospel title to your life story?

bob_kellemenBob Kellemen, Th.M., Ph.D. is the Vice President for Institutional Development and Chair of the Biblical Counseling and Equipping Department at Crossroads Bible College. Bob was the Founding Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition, and is the Founder and CEO of RPM Ministries. For seventeen years Dr. Kellemen served as the founding Chairman of and Professor in the MA in Christian Counseling and Discipleship department at Capital Bible Seminary in Lanham, MD. Bob has pastored three churches and equipped biblical counselors in each church. Bob and his wife, Shirley, have been married for thirty-six years; they have two adult children, Josh and Marie, one daughter-in-law, Andi, and three granddaughters, Naomi, Penny, and Phoebe. Dr. Kellemen is the author of thirteen books including Gospel-Centered Counseling.

Grace and Gratitude

grace_and_gratitudeOne of the most powerful verses God has been impressing upon my heart lately is Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We tend to view life through the lens of entitlement. Whether we care to admit it or even recognize it, our sinful nature reveals the thought we believe we deserve particular things. When we do not get our way, we respond in the same manner as the Israelites did in Numbers 11:1. They complained and grumbled. They had a distorted view of what God was doing and what they thought they deserved. Yet, what this verse from Romans teaches us is the one thing we truly deserve is death. What we are entitled to is physical and spiritual death because we have sinned. As sinners, we face eternal separation from God and have brought the wrath of God upon ourselves. Simply put, the payment we deserve is death.

Thanks be to God, though, Romans 6:23 does not end there. God, in His grace, extends mercy through the free gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus. If we deserve eternal death, then the very thing we do not deserve is eternal life. But because of the person and work of Jesus Christ on the cross, we can have eternal life in Christ. We are saved by the grace of God alone through faith in Christ alone. Those who understand this truth respond in repentance of sins and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. They realize they are undeserving of God’s grace and that they cannot be saved by their own good works. They recognize the mercy of God withholds what they deserve and the grace of God extends what they don’t deserve. Life in Christ is a free gift.

This biblical framework of understanding our salvation trickles down into our attitude toward God and toward life. Biblical counselor Paul Tripp explains, “If you tell yourself ‘I deserved that’ you won’t be grateful. Thanksgiving results when you remind yourself that every gift comes freely by grace.” Christians should be a people marked by gratitude, not grumbling. This Thanksgiving, meditate on the gospel. Remember salvation is not something earned, but salvation is a gift. We do not deserve it, but we have been entrusted with it. When you understand it is by God’s grace you have been saved, then you will respond with thankfulness and an attitude of gratitude. My prayer for you is your life would be marked by gratitude toward God for the grace of God.

Camp Reflection: Remember

As a teenager, I went to church camp once. While I have some good memories from my time there, the most profound experience at church camp did not come until last week. My roles at junior camp this year included teacher, chapel speaker, and, yes, a cabin dad. In other words, I was in charge of six boys, ranging from 8-14 years of age. It was a fun time, both teaching the Bible and hanging out with the kids. Yet, the greatest impact camp had upon me did not come until after it was over.Camp_Cabin

After all the activities were played and after all the chapel messages were taught, I was left with a burden on my heart. How many of these children and teenagers come to camp for this one week and that is that? How many leave camp the same way they came? Camp cannot be a one week retreat with no lasting impact. I praise the Lord three of the boys at camp attend the church where I serve as associate pastor, so I have the opportunity to disciple them and to see them grow in the Lord. But that still leaves me unsure of a good number of other campers. Therefore, my prayer for these kids is that God may use the teaching of His Word to prod their hearts and to cause them to turn to Him, changing their lives forever. The words of Ecclesiastes 12:1 especially come to mind, “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them'”. May God do a work in these children’s lives that they see the wisdom in following Christ now. May these kids repent and trust in Christ now so that they will find rejoicing in the time to come, not regret. May they remember their Creator and live according to His Word!

A Bumper and A Laptop: A Lesson on Patience

New_CarNew things should work without a problem. This unstated assumption is one I typically would affirm until two months ago. Within a span of two weeks, I chose to purchase a newer car and needed to buy a new laptop. Now, it must be known I am not one for major purchases. Therefore, in making these decisions my expectation was the car and laptop would run with no complications. Then it happened. First, I found out the bumper of my car was detached and would need to be replaced, costing both time and money. As if the issue with the car bumper was not enough, my new laptop became a victim to a virus. Although an anti-virus program had been installed, the computer required a new and different anti-virus program to be installed for the removal of the virus and its effects.

During this time, my attitude was anything but godly. Other than expressing through stressful venting, this ungodly reaction may not have been outwardly evident. Yet, inside impatience reigned. A repair on the car would mean a lack of transportation for a couple of days. School work would not be adequately completed and Bible lessons would not be sufficiently prepared. How could I bear all this?

In the midst of this turbulent time, the Spirit of God used the Word of God to teach me a lesson. The fruit of the Spirit, found in Galatians 5:22-23, is a well-known passage but a passage which we can always grow in and a passage we should often return to. In this set of circumstances, God directed my attention to the area of patience in the fruit of the Spirit. The problems of the car bumper and the laptop virus were a means of growing me in Christ-likeness. They were being used to grow me in the area of patience.

I wish I could say I realized this biblical truth right away. I didn’t. None of us ever do every single time. We fail and fall short. That is why we need the grace of Jesus. In the gospel, we repent of our sins and trust in the person and work of Christ for us. We do not have or grow in the fruit of the Spirit in our own will power. We grow in the fruit of the Spirit by the power of the Spirit. Praise be to God, for His Spirit using His Word to point me to His Son so that I may grow in His likeness. A lesson learned from a car bumper and a laptop.