Sunday Thoughts

It’s been a long time since I put up a blog post and Sunday afternoons are a good time to reflect on things I’m appreciative of.

Hello Friends. Anthony here. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of writing on the side and looking at other blogs. It made me realize how I haven’t written a blog post on here in forever. Amy and I are back doing the podcasts, which we hope you’re getting something out of, but for a self-professed, “Christian blog and podcast” there hasn’t been much of the former. So, I thought a leisurely Sunday afternoon was a nice time to open my laptop and write to you. Sunday afternoons are a good time to reflect on things I’m appreciative of.

Appreciating the Seasons

By God’s grace, we’re doing well. The Lord blessed us with a great summer. I’ll include some highlight photos at the bottom of this, including volunteering at our church’s VBS and one of me replacing the starter in our van, which was a neat accomplishment since I don’t usually do my own car repairs.

Now we are looking forward to the change of season. I think it can be sinful of Christians to rush the change of seasons. We ought not to grumble and complain about the weather the Lord is kind to provide us with. So often I notice the world grumbles about winter’s cold only to grouse six months later about summer’s heat, and how now they can’t wait for fall! It makes sense. The world without Jesus is a restless place. We Christians can fall into that trap too, though. Instead, let’s look forward to the Lord’s splendor on display in autumn’s brilliant leaves, cider, pumpkins, and, yes, cooler temps, but let’s be grateful for today, too.

Appreciating a New Chapter

By now the academic year has started again, and this time I praise the Lord I’m not part of it! Having completed my M.Div after 10 long years of on-again/off-again studies this past May, it feels equal parts strange and exhilarating that my academic days are behind me at last. Now I get to read books because I want to, not because I have to. It’s a nice new chapter of life to be in.

Appreciating My Co-Host

Over the summer podcasting break Amy and I had time to reflect on where we want to go with the show. Having her on as a co-host has been a real shift for the show, which started out with just me. Back then it was much more of a “teaching” show, me studying for some topic and effectively delivering a monologue about it. Now, with Amy, it’s a conversation. Besides her thoughtful reflections (which really add to the show, I think), her cheerfulness really comes out in the recordings. The whole dynamic of Grace and Peace Radio has changed, and for the better.

Appreciating Jesus

As I mentioned in our first episode coming back, we want to capitalize on the new dynamic. Instead of being straight-up teaching on a subject, we want the shows to be engaging discipling conversations. That’s not to say that we think we’re, ahem, so wise and sanctified that we have so much to impart to you, feeble listener. God forbid!

Rather, we both have found that we genuinely enjoy coming to the microphones and sharing what the Lord has shown us, the same way someone who is really into collecting seashells or sea glass would lay out their collection and talk about each piece’s uniqueness. I don’t know about you, but when someone does that to me I find their enthusiasm contagious. I become excited by what excites them. That doesn’t mean I’m going to start collecting shells, just that my world is a little bigger and a little more informed than it was, and that much more enjoyable.

And that’s the point, really. We want listeners of Grace and Peace Radio to share in our enthusiasm about the Lord Jesus Christ, who saved us sinners. It’s like how the Apostle John wrote in 1 John 1:3-5,

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our [or “your”] joy complete.

1 John 1:3-5 NIV

Jesus changed our lives when He saved each of us. And then He changed them again when He brought us together. And He’s changed them several times over through the 14 years we’ve been married, through all the ups and downs and twists and turns. Yet every single step of the way He has shown Himself good and kind and faithful.

Appreciating You

And so, as I sit here imagining you, our listeners, some I know and some I won’t meet until Heaven, it’s my prayer that in some small way, our joy at the treasure of Jesus we have will be shared with you.

That will make our joy complete, too.

May the Lord glorify Himself and bless you,

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Test Your Testimony

“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.” John 4:39

 

The story of the woman at the well is perhaps the most influential story of sharing Christ in the whole New Testament. For one thing, she not only shared about Jesus, she shared Jesus—running back into town to invite everyone to “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did…” (29).

 

I’m not one to be drawn to history or sports. Part of the reason is because it is all too detached for me. Another king. Another war. Some country far away. Some team that won or lost. Whatever.

 

But when someone is enthusiastic and describes the king, the underlying conflict, or the personal drama of why that particular game was so important to a player, coach, or the whole team, I’m drawn in. I suddenly care about something I had no interest in before. Likewise, when I hear someone’s testimony of how Jesus changed their life, I’ll stop what I’m doing to listen.

 

Yesterday I listened to a man tell his story of 12 years of drug addiction and how Jesus set him free. That was 12 years ago, so he’s now been clean for as long as he was using drugs. He had ruined his life but God, in the miraculous way that he does, reached down, saved him, and made him whole. God not only gave him new life; he gave him a story to tell. A testimony to share. “Come and see a man…”

 

Not coincidentally, the same day I heard that brother’s testimony, I read the story of a professional baseball player who had become a Christian. He was “fired up” about Jesus as the story was told. He quit all the vices of life on the road and was a changed man…but not for long.

 

Years later, the writer met that famous baseball player at a ballpark where he was doing a meet and greet with fans, signing balls and hats and having all the usual fan interactions retired baseball players do. When the writer asked him if he was still “fired up for Jesus” the man lowered his head and admitted, “Not like I used to be.”

 

How about you? Is yours a life radically and permanently changed by Jesus? Or did you have a go at following Jesus but, like so many others, eventually left him when things got too difficult? If you ran into your town today, would many “Samaritans” believe in Jesus because of your testimony?

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Two Musts

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30

When a believer comes to these words of John the Baptist, they should hit home with zeal. They should find fellowship in our heart. Like one string struck on a guitar vibrates the ones next to it, John’s desire to see Jesus exalted and himself brought lower should resonate in our own hearts.

There is a worldliness that has crept into most everything Christians do today. We aren’t primarily concerned that Jesus must increase, and even less so that we should—let alone “must”—decrease. I see this a lot among Christians who produce content. Often it is about promoting their blog, book, podcast, merchandise, etc. over primarily wanting to see others genuinely come to know and love the Lord Jesus Christ. That ought not to be.

Christians have just as much right in this world to enterprise and entrepreneurship as non-Christians. Being industrious is virtuous; God’s Word says so in many places (read through the Proverbs, for example). But if we are building something off the name and Person of Jesus Christ, we had better be sure we are putting him first. Our primary goal ought to be that his name be great among the nations (Malachi 1:11), even if that means our venture eventually fades out and the machine we spent so much time building turns to rust.

Do I want people to listen to Grace and Peace Radio? Sure.

Do I want them to maybe buy a coffee mug or something in the store? Sure.

Do I want them to tell a friend? Sure.

But do I want those things because I want them to know my name? God forbid!

There are two correlated events that must happen daily in our lives: He must increase and we must decrease. Both of those should cause us to rejoice.

Today, may God use my life and yours to exalt himself. May he be glorified whether he chooses to elevate us or remove us to make way for another.

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Joseph’s Strong Foundation in Temptations and Trials

Christians need the same foundation Joseph had in temptation and trials

This morning I read the story of Joseph again. I thought about how, at about 17 years old, he had the personal fortitude to flee the lustful temptations of his master’s wife. His reasoning? After professing his loyalty to his master (her husband), which really was a greater loyalty to him than she had as his wife, he declares, “How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” (Gen 39:9). It would be disloyal and wrong to dishonor his master, but it would be “great evil and sin” to dishonor God.

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Book Review: Redeeming the Feminine Soul

Anthony reviews Julie Roys’ Redeeming the Feminine Soul: God’s Surprising Vision for Womanhood.

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Grace and Peace Radio

Why would a guy read a book about “redeeming the feminine soul”? There’s a lot going on in the world and in the church about gender issues and roles And within the church especially, Complementarianism vs. Egalitarianism vs. Patriarchy, LGBTQ, and Intersectionality are all hot-button issues. I figured Roys’ take would be an interesting read.

With that, here’s my review of Julie Roys’ Redeeming the Feminine Soul: God’s Surprising Vision for Womanhood.

Not knowing much about Roys, I had read some of her work on the Internet. She struck me as a formidable Christian journalist, and still does. My wife is an avid reader and I thought she’d enjoy something different, so I bought it for her.

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