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Aletheia - (ἀλήθεια - "Truth")

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Choosing to Praise Him

 

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Hillsong’s popular “Desert Song” is one of my favorite songs. As I was listening to it the other day, the line “I will bring praise” got stuck in my head and has been racing through my mind ever since.

A profound truth is communicated in those four words, a truth illustrated countless times throughout the pages of Scripture.  Let me give two examples:  

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised (Job 1:21).

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior (Habakkuk 3:17-18).  

Do you see the theme?  These verses demonstrate the principle that praising God is a choice.  They also communicate that God is worthy of our worship regardless of our circumstances.   

While circumstances should be acknowledged, they should not be allowed to control us.  I don’t believe it’s necessary to praise God for every situation, but I do believe we are to praise Him in every situation, believing that He is constantly working Christ-likeness into those who love Him (Philippians 4:6; Romans 8:28-29).  

Even though we don’t see the full picture, we can take comfort in the reality that we serve a God who does everything well (Mark 7:37).  

The choice is yours.  In the midst of your circumstances, will you praise Him today?

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

"Give us the day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

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A Debt I Could Not Pay

 

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I don’t like borrowing money from people.  There’s something about owing money to someone that makes me feel like I’m in bondage.  If for some reason I do owe someone money, I try to pay it back as quickly as possible. 

Having said that, “The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant” from Matthew 18:21-35 has been on my mind recently. 

In response to Peter’s question about how many times he should forgive a person who sins against him, Jesus tells a story about a man who had a huge debt cancelled.  His compassionate master realized his servant would never be able to pay back ten thousand talents (equivalent to millions of dollars), so he just dropped the debt and let his servant go.

I emphasized the debt was millions of dollars for a reason.  Sometimes I breeze over the “ten thousand talents” part because I don’t really get it.  But it’s only when I understand the enormity of his debt that I can understand Jesus’ point.

This man leaves with the debt of a lifetime behind him, and finds one of his servants who owed him one hundred denarii (get this – a few dollars).  Refusing to give him time to pay it back, the man threw his servant in prison over a small debt.

The man’s actions are outrageous in light of the forgiveness he’s just experienced.  In fact, it’s almost hard to believe.  My guess is that Jesus intentionally made the difference in size of the debts laughable.  No one would actually do that, right?

As I mentioned above, Jesus’ point cannot be fully grasped until we realize the extent of the first debt – it would have been impossible to repay.  I, too, know the burden of debt, and like the man in the story, I had no chance to pay it back.  But Jesus, the compassionate Master that He is, has forgiven me all my sins by cancelling the record of debt that stood against me with its legal demands.  He set it aside by nailing it to the cross (Colossians 2:13-14).

By the grace of God alone, I have been freed from the bondage of a debt I could never pay.  But until I realize the size of my debt, I will never fully appreciate the extent of His forgiveness. 

Only when we come to terms with how much we have been forgiven are we able to respond appropriately to Jesus (Luke 7:47) and to those who offend us.

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

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

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When Secondary Things Become Primary

 

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“If we make secondary things primary, they cease to be secondary and become idolatrous.  They have their place.  But they are not first, and they are not guaranteed.  Life is precarious, and even if it is long by human standards, it is short.” –John Piper, This Momentary Marriage

This quote has been on my mind since I read it for the first time about a month ago.  Although Piper was speaking of marriage specifically, I see how this concept plays out in my life as a whole.

I am often guilty of desiring, pursuing, and delighting in good things rather than the best thing.  I long to be more Christ-like; I want to be a better friend; I strive to improve as a wife.  Doesn’t all that sound pretty awesome?

I didn’t notice anything wrong with my thinking until I realized that Christianity isn’t a self-help program.  It’s not primarily about becoming better.  Christianity is primarily about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  Because of what He has accomplished on my behalf, I have access to God and stand before Him blameless.

When I fix my gaze on Jesus and what He has done, He becomes the supreme treasure of my life.  He is exalted to His rightful spot on the throne of my heart, and everything else falls into its proper place somewhere beneath Him.  As a result, I am free to enjoy the blessings He’s given me and the work He’s doing in my life appropriately – as byproducts of my relationship with Him, rather than as ultimate things which rival Jesus for my attention and affection. 

Jesus is not a side-note in my quest for godliness.  He is the goal – the ultimate One – and as I desire, pursue, and delight in Him, amazingly enough He works godliness into my life in His way, in His time, for His glory.

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

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

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The Knowledge of the Holy

 

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It’s no secret that college students are required to do lots of reading.  One of the great things about CIU is that we are often required to read books that are spiritually enriching.

Take The Knowledge of the Holy for example.  A.W. Tozer’s little book about the attributes of God is a classic for a reason.  Combining depth and readability in a way not many accomplish, Tozer has made a contribution to the Christian community that endures well beyond his time.

The Knowledge of the Holy, my all-time favorite book, also happens to be required reading for Theology 1.  If you haven’t taken the class, Tozer’s book is worth reading in advance.  If you have taken the class, I still recommend reading it at least once a year.  I read it often and am always challenged, encouraged, and awestruck.   

Want a preview?  Here are a few quotes to reflect on today:

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

“Without doubt, the mightiest thought the mind can entertain is the thought of God, and the weightiest word in any language is its word for God.”

“The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.”

“Give us minds to admire that perfection of moral wisdom which found a way to preserve the integrity of heaven and yet receive us there.”

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

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

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Got Balance?

 

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We all respond to busyness and the stress that comes from a full schedule differently. Some cave under pressure while others come alive as more is added to their plates. Honestly, at different times I can identify with both types of people.

Having said that, at every busy (or even semi-busy) point in life, I struggle with one thing: balance. There is school, school activities, church, work, family, friends, and more. Within each of those categories there are things like homework, quality time, deadlines, small groups, and appointments. As my level of busyness increases, the balance is often thrown off and sleep, exercise, and alone time fall by the wayside.

Something I’ve been learning recently is that if I can’t live a self-controlled life when I’m not busy, then when things start to pile up I have no reason to believe I’ll be able to pull off any semblance of balance. On the other hand, developing healthy habits – mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, relationally…you name it – when life is moving at a slower pace will provide for much more stability when your schedule is full.

As we finish out the summer, let’s build healthy behavior into our lifestyles so that when the pressures of a new semester are upon us we have something positive to fall back on. And if that doesn’t work, a midnight Taco Bell run helps just about anything…just kidding.

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

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

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God Grows Things

 

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One of the classes required for all CIU students is Progress of Redemption.  Dr. Layman teaches the course, and in it he goes through the Bible twice – once looking at what God is saying and the second time to study what God is doing.  

Two principles from that class have stuck with me since taking it online over a year ago.  

God grows things is the first, and second, God is not in a hurry.  

These principles are illustrated countless times throughout Scripture.  God’s timetable is not ours – He is working from and for eternity; His purposes are eternal.  And He grows things.  Dr. Layman uses the growth of a tree to describe this process.  A seed is planted, but an oak tree doesn’t appear overnight…or even in a week, month, or year.  

This, says Dr. Layman, is comparable to our sanctification. It is a process, and processes take time.  With this concept in mind, it is easy to look through the Bible and find examples of men and women who are processing developmentally in their relationships with the Lord.  Many of these Bible characters are our heroes.  

It relieves me to be reminded of these principles and there is an incredible sense of freedom that comes with the realization that God grows things and He’s not in a hurry. 

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

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

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Rock Solid

 

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I crave stability and look for it in countless places, some of which I’m too ashamed to admit.  By a well-established routine, perfectly-ordered home, and carefully-managed relationships, I attempt to craft a world of consistency and security in which I can breathe easy.  After all, everything has been taken care of, every detail attended to.

Except that’s not the case.  My routine changes, laundry piles up, and relationships require constant work.  I strive to keep everything under control only to realize that I’m the one who’s out of control.  I want something I can count on, something I know for sure, something guaranteed.  And I often look for it in things other than (and smaller than) Jesus, leaving me disappointed, tense, and imprisoned.

But there’s good news!  Psalm 62:5-6 speaks to my heart with the truth I so desperately need - Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

Psalm 62 is a timely reminder that I will not be shaken.  The stability for which I yearn can be a present reality, not because of my ability to stand firm, but because I am anchored to a solid rock.  And that’s something I can count on, something I know for sure, and something guaranteed.

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

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

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A Happy Ending

 

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I know several people who love reading, but have a habit of turning to the final pages of a book to find out what happens in the end.  Though tempted at times, I’ve never been one to do that myself.  If I know how a story finishes, I don’t always have the motivation to push through the whole book.  

However, I’m grateful that God, in His wisdom, chose to reveal some of how His great story will end.

The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever (Revelation 11:15).

If I didn’t know the story would end this way, some days on this earth would be absolutely unbearable.  I might question the value and purpose of my existence.  There would be times when I’d go beyond questioning God’s character, plans, and ways…I might even run out of hope.  

We don’t know every detail of God’s eternal work, and we don’t need to – what He has revealed in His Word is sufficient to do His work (Deuteronomy 29:29).  But we do know something.  We know enough to know that the end is a happy one…a gloriously triumphant one.   

Questions may arise as we journey toward that day – the day when all will be made right – when every knee will bow at the name of Jesus and every tongue will confess that He is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).  But as the questions come and go, and as the doubts surface and settle, let’s hold firm to the hope we have – hope that is ours because of His kindness in allowing us a glimpse into the end of the story.  

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall (finally!) see Him as He is (1 John 3:2).

He will reign for ever and ever.

Come, Lord Jesus. 

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

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11


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Combating an If-Then Mentality

 

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I recently read a quote by well-known pastor and author Tullian Tchividjian which said, “If you detach every time things don't go your way, it reveals just how much you've built your identity on winning.”  The thought stuck with me and I pondered situations which provoke the detachment about which he speaks.

Academic difficulties…

Financial pressures…

Relational struggles…

…The list could continue.  

I tend to live my life with an “if-then” mentality.  If things go my way, then I will be happy.  If this situation changes, then I’ll be comfortable.  What happens is that my security and emotions become attached to my circumstances and their hypothetical improvement.  Thus begins the detachment and identity crisis Tchividjian identified.

What’s the alternative to letting circumstances – good or bad – define my life?  One step in the right direction is to let the truth of God’s Word be the lens through which all circumstances are evaluated.  What do I know for sure to be true right now?  What has He already accomplished on my behalf?  What does God say about this?  What difference does knowing Jesus make today?  

Try asking yourself some of those questions and coming up with biblical answers.  You might discover, as I have, that regardless of your circumstances, you can agree with King David who acknowledged in the present tense, “my cup overflows.”

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

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

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How Suffering Sets You Free

 

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1997 CIU graduate Tullian Tchividjian is the well-known pastor of a thriving church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  While thousands sit under his weekly teaching, his influence extends beyond the pulpit.

Tchividjian, the grandson of Billy Graham, is a visiting professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, contributing blogger for The Gospel Coalition, an editor of Leadership Journal, and insightful author.

Tchividjian’s latest book titled Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free was released at the beginning of this month.  In what he describes as his most important work to date, Tchividjian focuses not on the why or how of suffering, but rather on the Who – a Savior scripture describes as “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3).

I’m about halfway through Glorious Ruin and it has been simultaneously challenging and encouraging.  Tchividjian’s perspective is fresh, yet steeped in the truth of the gospel.  I hope to finish the book later this week, but here’s a preview for those who might be interested in reading further:

“We may not ever fully understand why God allows the suffering that devastates our lives. We may not ever find the right answers to how we’ll dig ourselves out. There may not be any silver lining, especially not in the ways we would like. But we don’t need answers as much as we need God’s presence in and through the suffering itself. The truth is that when it comes to suffering, if we do not go to our graves in confusion we will not go to our graves trusting. Explanations are a substitute for trust.

For the life of the believer, one thing is beautifully and abundantly true: God’s chief concern in your suffering is to be with you and be Himself for you. And in the end, what we discover is that this really is enough.”

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

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

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