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Aletheia - (ἀλήθεια - "Truth")

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One Simple Question

 

In a world full of uncertainty, the value of absolute truth is hard to overstate.  Life is comprised of a wide range of emotions.  Circumstances are always prone to change.  But there’s a simple practice that has served as an anchor for my soul.

When time are tough, when I have doubts, or when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I have developed a habit that brings unspeakable consolation.  I ask myself one question: What do I know to be true?

My answer to the question is simply a list of Bible verses – as many as I can recall at the given time.  Sometimes I recount the truths verbally, sometimes I write them down, and other times I just recite them silently.

I cope with the reality of life in a fallen world by constantly reminding myself of the timeless truth found in the Bible.

God is faithful to His promises.

All His ways are perfect.

He doesn’t abandon His people.

He is with me.

He sees.

He knows.

He cares.

He is coming back.

He is making all things new.

The healthiest investment I can make in my life and in the lives of those around me is knowing and proclaiming the truth.  The truth should always inform my feelings, opinions, and circumstances, but all too often the opposite is my modus operandi.

Feelings are a shaky foundation on which to build a life.  Conversely, the truth of Scripture provides a firm and lasting foundation which can withstand the storms of life on earth, no matter how severe.

Today, let the truth govern your view of reality as you ask yourself that one simple, yet profound, question.

Written by: Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

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Never Once

 

Have a great weekend everyone!

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A Gracious Collision

 

Blogger and soon-to-be published author Sara Hagerty recently tweeted, “If knowing Him more intimately is my end goal, there’s not one single thing I will face today that can’t serve to draw me into this.”

Sara reminds me of Paul.

In Philippians 3, Paul weighs the world’s value system against Jesus.  Nothing – not family background, not religious background, not social status – outweighs knowing Jesus.  In fact, in my favorite verse of the Bible, Paul makes the claim that he now views all of his assets as losses “because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:8).

A glimpse of Jesus’ beauty changes the way we measure the value of everything else.

While knowing Jesus is incomparably valuable, it is also achieved in the “everyday-ness” of life.  It’s the most valuable thing in the world, but it can happen in the most ordinary of moments – on the level paths, on the mountain peaks, and even in the valleys of life.  In fact, as God would have it, some of the experiences we are most prone to resent are actually invitations to grow in our intimacy with Jesus.

Let me explain.  When faced with setbacks, disappointments, discouragements, failures, and hardships, we are especially prone to cry out to Jesus.  There’s something about suffering that puts us on the fast track, so to speak, to growth in our relationship with Jesus.  Paul calls this “the fellowship of His sufferings” (Phil. 3:10).  It’s an invitation to know Jesus on a level we can’t reach through ease alone.  As Hagerty also tweeted, “When we see suffering as a chance to know a new nearness to God, our circumstances get redefined.”

It bears reminding that God does not overlook evil.  We don’t ignore pain or excuse sin.  But we don’t let those realities define us, either.  What is meant for evil, God is both willing and able to use for our good and His glory (see Genesis 50:20).

Through tragedy and triumph, poverty and prosperity, we grow in a relationship that’s more valuable than winning the lottery a million times.  John Piper beautifully expresses this concept when he says, “Christ is glorified in me when people see He is more precious to me than all that life can give or death can take.”  He’s not just precious on the deathbed; He’s precious in the daily grind of an average workweek.

Every moment of life is an opportunity to know Jesus better.  No experience is excluded.  And it is especially true that the most challenging of circumstances are what propel us into deeper, more joyful fellowship with our Savior.  In the memorable words of Charles Spurgeon, “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.”

Today, thank God for any wave that graces your life by throwing you against that blessed Rock.

Written by: Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

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Keep Making Me

 

Happy Friday from the Sidewalk Prophets!

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The Best Gift Ever

 

Romans 5 is one of those glorious chapters which can be read in a minute but could be contemplated for a lifetime.  In only a few verses, Paul, in typical fashion, plunges simultaneously into the depths of mankind’s depravity and ascends to the heights of gospel grandeur.

As I read this chapter recently, one phrase in particular seemed to jump off the page: “the free gift of righteousness” (Romans 5:17).  This is one of those expressions which is easy to overlook in a cursory reading of the text, but when reading with care and intentionality, it stopped me in my tracks.

This phrase brought to mind an antithetical expression which is introduced just one chapter later: “the wages of sin” (Romans 6:23).

What is the difference between a wage and a gift?  A wage is something earned and merited.  Wages are deserved; they are the rightful recompense for a completed task.  For this reason, when I receive my biweekly paycheck, I don’t profusely thank by boss for her generosity.  I’m simply receiving that for which I worked based upon a prior agreement.  (I am, however, grateful to God for His generous provision through my job.)

A free gift, on the other hand, is usually given cheerfully and without obligation.  It is offered at the giver’s prerogative and demonstrates his or her care for the recipient.  Gifts aren’t meant to reflect the merit of the recipient; they show forth the generosity of the giver.  That’s why, when my boss gave me $50 out of her own pocket for Christmas, I absolutely thanked her for her generosity.

My paycheck is a reflection of my work, a precise repayment for what my time has earned.  An extra $50 for Christmas is a reflection of my boss, an unearned bonus based solely on her kindness.  Paychecks tell a story about the recipient; gifts tell a story about the giver.

Our sin earns death.  It’s what we deserve.  Death is owed to us.  If we resist grace and want to do it ourselves, all our hard work will earn for us death.

Conversely, righteousness is a legal standing granted to those who, by grace through faith, trust Christ for their salvation.  We don’t earn or deserve righteousness.  It’s not a debt we are owed.  God, out of the goodness of His own heart, has provided a means by which we are eternally declared “not guilty.”  Not only are we found “not guilty,” Christ’s perfection is also credited to us.  We’re not just found to be without guilt; we are actually declared to be innocent.  (See Colossians 1:22 which declares believers to be “holy and blameless and above reproach before him” and Jude 1:24 which reiterates the blamelessness of believers.)

If holiness, blamelessness, and being above reproach (in God’s sight!) doesn’t sound like your experience, don’t be alarmed.  Remember, our righteousness isn’t something our performance has earned.  Instead, if you are united to Christ by faith, thank God for the free gift of righteousness.  It was earned and secured by Christ, but it is offered freely and eternally to you.

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Written by: Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

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Multiplied

 

God of mercy sweet love of mine
I have surrendered to Your design
May this offering stretch across the skies
And these Halleluiahs be multiplied

-NEEDTOBREATH, "Rivers in the Wasteland"

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IICSE at CIU

 

Join us July 13-17, 2014
for The Institute!
 

Register now for the International Institute for Christian School Educators (IICSE) and join Christian school teachers and leaders for four days of challenging sessions, professional seminars, and inspirational fellowship. You’ll also have numerous networking opportunities with colleagues from across the United States and around the world.
The Institute spotlights the philosophy of Christian school education and its implications for today's Christian school.

This year’s Institute features keynote speakers who are experts in a variety of specializations:
  • Dr. Derek Keenan - Leadership
  • Dr. Glen Schultz - Kingdom Education
  • Dr. Milton Uecker - Philosophical Foundations of Christian School Education

Click here to register for the 2014 IICSE

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I Need Thee Every Hour

 


Have a blessed weekend!
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The Persecuted Church

 

At a biblical university with emphases on missions and church planting, discussion of the persecuted church occasionally drifts into conversation. Like pollen that is in the air, it lingers, unseen until it lands on something. It isn’t the perfect analogy, but for me, the pollen does not bother me too much, so I often forget its presence. When something becomes so common, believers fail to see it. For example, I can walk through an open doorway multiple times, but shift the location of the doorstop just a little bit when I’m not expecting it, and I could end up laid out in the hallway. So often, believers hear about the suffering church so much, but do not understand what makes the oppressed church so different.

These are the things that make the persecuted church look so different from the church of the Western world:

1. The persecuted church rejoices at persecution. There is a definite attitude among churches that suffer mocking and physical harm, and it is an attitude of grateful joy. Peter reminds believers that persecution is coming—it should not surprise us. He says to “rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12). The church around the world counts suffering as sharing in the suffering of Jesus Christ. Considering what Christ did for humanity in his death and resurrection, suffering should not be tragic. The church maintains “hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2), and with that the church can rejoice, knowing that suffering is creating character that glorifies God.

2. The persecuted church is strongly committed to the gospel. If it were not, the church would fall apart at the first hint of trouble. In many countries there exist blasphemy laws that prevent citizens from saying anything blasphemous to the culturally respectable religious leaders. Most recently, a Christian couple in Pakistan was sentenced to death for a text message supposedly sent by the husband that insults the Prophet Mohammed. Without a love for the gospel and a strong belief in the work of the Lord Jesus, this couple, Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar, have no reason to risk their lives.

3. The persecuted church does not compromise the gospel. It holds fast to the truth of the gospel as presented in the Bible. Now, there will always be exceptions, but the majority of churches in other parts of the world hold fast to the truth. If someone is willing to die for the gospel, they want to make sure the truth is not diluted with false teaching. In this, it is not dangerous to go back to the basics and understand the simplicity of the gospel. The church under pressure understands that it must be vigilant, expressing the whole gospel. In countries where suffering is a regular occurrence for believers, a gospel centered on loving God without a personal cost will not resonate. 

4. The persecuted church is not focused on its own persecution. The church has not abandoned the Great Commission just because they are suffering at the hands of others. The suffering church is not a church of self-pity. In many ways, they see their affliction as normal, and aim to help those who are experiencing even greater forms of suffering. According to World Watch List, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan are the five countries where Christians are persecuted most. In order to allow the Body to function well in these countries, selfishness cannot be the attitude of the church.

The persecuted church is often overlooked because people make light of the situation. However, a day in the life of a persecuted church member would be a challenge to anyone’s faith. Christians around the world suffer trial and tribulation, oppression and violence, torture and death. Many newly converted Christians live in fear of accusations of blasphemy from members of their old religion. For some, persecution discourages them from accepting Christ, but for many, the example of other believers has inspired them to stand firmly on the promise of God’s glory and their own sanctification. Many believers do stand up to persecution with confidence in the power of Christ, trusting that whatever the outcome, both death and life will be used for the glory of God. Every day, people suffer for Christ, while many Christians in the Western world live lives of compromise and oblivion.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/10751110/Christians-in-Pakistan-sentenced-to-death-over-a-text.html

http://www.worldwatchlist.us/world-watch-list-countries/

Written by: Emily Thornhill

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How Great Thou Art

 


How Great Thou Art, indeed!
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