Archive for June, 2009

Living Proof Live – Stockton, CA

Living Proof Live – Stockton from Rich Kalonick on Vimeo.

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A Greeting and a Song

Good Monday morning, my dear Siestas!

Thank you for praying for all of us at Living Proof Live in Stockton, California! God gave us a fresh revelation of His Son this weekend (out of Revelation, as a matter of fact) and what more could we possibly ask except for the courage to act on it? For any of you who were there, thank you so much for allowing us the privilege of being your servants. I’ve thought about you constantly since I got home. I loved seeing the myriad of you at In-n-Out. I wouldn’t leave California without an In-n-Out cheeseburger if my life depended on it.

There are certain songs I play and sing when I’m especially aware of Christ as the ultimate, uncontested love of my life OR if I’m especially in need of remembering. This is one of them. I have no idea how many times I’ve played it and Mark Schultz has no idea how many times I’ve sung back up for him. Not that he’d want to hire me and take me on the road or anything. But if he did, I’d walk one thousand miles, one thousand miles it’s true, if he were heading straight to Jesus.

I would walk 1,000 miles
1,000 miles it’s true
I would walk 1,000 miles
Just to be with You

[Chorus]
‘Cause you’ve got my heart and you’ve got my soul
You’ve got this promise too
I would walk 1,000 miles
Just to be with You

If I could live 100 years
Before my life is through
If I could live 100 years
I’d spend them loving You

[Chorus]
Cause You’ve got my heart and you’ve got my soul
You’ve got this promise too
If I could live 100 years
I’d spend them loving You

If I could write 10,000 songs
10,000 songs it’s true
If I Could write 10,000 songs
I’d Sing them all for you

[Chorus]
‘Cause you’ve got my heart and you’ve got my soul
You’ve got this promise too
If I could write 10,000 songs
I’d Sing them all for you

(Mark Schultz, 1000 Miles)

SO, Siestas, what song reminds you personally that Jesus is the love of your life? I wish we had room for all the lyrics but here’s what I’ll request instead: the name of the song, the artist and the one line that especially gets to you.

Let’s build each other up in the Spirit this Monday morning. Jesus is so worthy.

I love you, Siestas!

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Thought You Might Like It, Too

Hey, My Darling Siestas!

I am at the Houston airport about to board my flight toward Stockton. So excited to see you California girls! A day or two ago Melissa sent me an answer to an email question she’d received to see if I’d approve it. Not only did I approve it, I asked her if she’d let me post it because a number of you might have had similar questions about Bible translations. This particular question pertains to the Message translation but we get similar questions about all sorts of translations. This is the kind of thing she and I did with our Lit class. It was so much fun. Man oh man, I love having my two daughters on this blog team so much. One thing you can count on around here is all sorts of different type posts! So let’s move from Amanda, Annabeth, and me at the Tea Room (where we did INDEED have some deep spiritual conversation amid our coconut cake – make no mistake, AJ is the deepest thinker in our family) to Melissa, our resident Bible technician. We all love serving you so much!

Off to California! Pray us a ton of Jesus!

The question in a nutshell:

I am having a very hard time putting my mind around using the Message as text for this first lesson…When I look up the Message in the Bible Gateway, it doesn’t even resemble NIV, let alone some of the other translations. I am not a KJV gal, but this is a stretch. Please help me understand. Sincerely with a searching heart.

OK, here’s Melissa’s response to the question (which has been tweaked some for purposes of posting it on a public forum):

Dear __________________,

You ask a very good question. What I appreciate most about people who are concerned with particular Bible translations is that they display a respect for the integrity of the Word of God. They don’t want people messing with it or putting their dirty little hands on it. And I totally get that.

We believe wholeheartedly in using many translations at Living Proof. To be fair, the Message is a true translation and not a paraphrase which people often assume. Eugene Peterson translates straight from the Greek and the Hebrew while a true paraphrase usually re-words or “paraphrases” an existing English translation and not the original languages. Peterson’s approach, however, is to elevate contemporary meaning and significance over the original meaning and traditional biblical idiom(s). As Fee and Stuart explain, “Peterson’s intent was to recapture the tone, to bring out the subtleties and nuances of the Hebrew and Greek languages while keeping a sense of the firsthand experience for contemporary readers. Peterson often asked himself, “If Paul were the Pastor of my church, how would he say this? or “If Jesus were here teaching, what would it sound like?” (see Fee and Strauss, “How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth”, 33). Even though Peterson is a solid scholar and a brilliant artist with language, I would not recommend using The Message as a primary text but as a supplementary text. And my guess is that Eugene Peterson himself would never have intended for The Message to replace major English translations like the NASB, ESV, or NIV that have all been birthed by major oversight and translation committees. When used in a supplementary manner The Message really is an absolutely beautiful translation. I personally use the NASB as my primary text along with consulting the Greek and the Hebrew but I don’t consider my reading or study complete without comparing a plethora of English translations (including NASB, ESV, NRSV, NIV, NLT, KJV, and many others). I would keep in mind that every English text of the Bible is a translation except the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. To take it one step further, every translation includes some interpretation. There is just no getting away from that. And even those who have had the opportunity to study Greek and Hebrew are still studying human languages. God spoke and continues to speak through human beings, a fact that is downright humbling and astounding in and of itself.

I totally hear your heart and understand your concern which is that you would like to use the closest “literal” rendering of God’s Word that is available to us and if that is the case I would use an NASB or an ESV. An NIV is still a mediating translation but keep in mind there are great things to be said about mediating translations. Many would argue that there are serious advantages to a good mediating translation which is why so many Pastors and lay-people still use the NIV. There are three major types of translations and each have different goals: Formal Equivalence, Mediating, and Functional Equivalence. All three of these types have pros and cons which are worth contemplating and the best thing to do, in my opinion, is compare all of them and then study up on what the editors and translators were trying to do in the first place. It is always a good idea to read the Editor’s notes in the front of a particular Bible. The introduction will usually explain the method behind the translation theory and also the person or committee that was involved in the translation process. This is, of course, a very brief response and much more could be said on the matter. If you continue to have questions concerning translations I would do some intentional reading into translation theory. A very user-friendly and readable book on this very issue is called “How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth” by Gordon Fee and Mark L. Strauss. I highly recommend it. I hope this helps you! Blessings to you.

Cordially,
Melissa Fitzpatrick

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MM&L and a First for Annabeth

Hi ladies! This week has been quite a ride! We are so excited about our summer study and we love how excited you are, too. It’s been really fun seeing all of your pictures. I squealed when the group pics started rolling in late Tuesday night.

I have a few new details about our summer Bible study:

A) Jennifer Rothschild, the author of Me Myself & Lies, has a blog!

B) Jennifer wrote a song based on Psalm 19 called “Let the Words.” Her hope was that women would connect with the song and use it to reinforce the idea of words (like the ones we say to ourselves) being “acceptable to you, Oh Lord.” A free MP3 download of the song and a music video are available here.

C) LifeWay has provided a free download of the first week of homework for anyone who doesn’t have their book just yet. You can get it here.

I’ve done my MM&L study the last two mornings and it is already impacting me so much. I don’t know about you, but I really need this. Mom and I had lunch at a cute little tea room today and we had our own discussion about our thought closets. That was nice because I had to miss my group’s first meeting. (Jackson was sick, but he’s all better now.)

By the way, Mom and I looked like lunatics at the restaurant because we took pictures the whole time. How could we not document and therefore blog about Annabeth’s first lunch at a tea room? When Mom grabbed a tiny tea cup off a shelf and positioned it in Annabeth’s hand for a photo op, I thought we were going to get kicked out. Thankfully we didn’t. If I’d had to miss out on coconut cake because of her misbehavior, it would not have been pretty.

Here are some pictures from Annabeth’s first tea room experience – the first of many.

Annabeth with the cup that my mom was apparently willing to purchase today. It was a very risky two seconds.

Praise the Lord.

Annabeth realizing we were going to have to take Bibby back to work.

Melissa, we will go again when you’re here!

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Ten-Ticket Giveaway for Stockton, California LPL!

*UPDATE – The Stockton tickets have all been given away.*

Anybody want to go to the Stockton, California Living Proof Live this Friday night and Saturday till noon but can’t spare the money for a ticket? Girlfriend, I betcha your Siesta Mama can get you in! Please call Living Proof Ministries toll free at 1-888-700-1999 and ask for Susan or Kimberly and, thanks to the Siesta Scholarship Fund, you’ve got yourself a ticket. Call right away! If it’s after work hours, call any time from 8:30-4:30 CST on Thursday or even Friday morning, for crying out loud. IF YOU WANT TO COME, WE WANT YOU THERE.

We love you, Siestas!

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Siesta Summer Bible Study Sign-ups!

We can’t wait to hear from all of you who are participating in our Second Annual Siesta Summer Bible Study! This is your official sign-up post. This year we are thrilled to be going through Jennifer Rothschild’s Me Myself & Lies (workbook only) and we launch with our first gathering today through the post below this one. But first you need to sign in by posting a comment right here. If you are participating solo, please sign in with your first name and city. If you are participating with a small group, only one of you needs to sign in, but please include all your group members’ first names and then the city from which you’re participating. We can’t wait to see the group God is pulling together so speak up, Girlfriends!

We at Living Proof Ministries are so honored to be your servants. Let’s stay in the Word!

*After you have posted your sign-up comment, you can upload a photograph of your group (or of yourself if you’re doing it individually) to our guest book. If you don’t have a picture yet, just come back later! Like our comments, pictures will be moderated.

I HAD TO GET BACK ON HERE AND TELL YOU GUYS THAT YOU ARE THE CUTEST THINGS I’VE EVER LAID MY EYES ON! I CAN HARDLY CONTAIN MYSELF! HOW WONDERFUL TO SEE YOUR FACES!

*From Amanda: As I’m moderating these pictures, many of them are showing up as question marks. I’ve been deleting those. If yours doesn’t show up after, let’s say 12 hours, you might want to try again.

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Siesta Bible Study Kick Off!

Siesta Summer Bible Study (Introduction) from LPV on Vimeo.

*If you’re having trouble viewing the video, you may need to download a newer version of Adobe Flash Player. You can get it here. Thanks for the tip, Adrienne!

Hey, Siestas! Let’s kick off some summer Bible study, why don’t we? I’m a little over-excited, too, but hold up before you write back! DON’T COMMENT YET! Your comments to this post are meant to FOLLOW your group meeting as a way of sharing a highlight about your time together. Again, please DO NOT WRITE COMMENTS until after you meet. If you’re participating solo, please watch the video first and do the exercises for yourself, THEN comment with your brief responses.

Here’s how it goes:

Please watch the eleven minute video for instructions for your small group and, if you can’t watch it together, no big deal! Each of you try to give it a look before your meeting. These videos will be posted indefinitely, so it’s no problem if your group can’t meet until later in the week. I’ll always write the instructions in the post just like I did last summer in case anybody has technical difficulty watching the video.

Here are your 3 interactive exercises for today:

1. An icebreaker just so we can have the opportunity to be ridiculous: What breed of dog do you most resemble in demeanor and why? If you don’t know your dog breeds, describe your demeanor to your group and let them help you.

2. This one will help us get to know one another’s priority needs right now. Get out a pen and paper and craft a one-sentence text message with a limit of 160 characters that starts with (and includes) these words: Please pray for me. I…

3. Have one group member read Psalm 19 out of The Message to the rest of the group. (See below) After she reads the whole psalm, have members lock in on the section that describes what the Word of God (called by other names such as “revelation”) does for us. Mention each benefit of studying Scripture and have group members who have discovered one of those benefits give short and specific testimonies as an encouragement to the rest.

You’ll pray and dismiss then designate ONE GROUP MEMBER to comment with a report about your group. Please limit the comment to a normal size paragraph. Each member will then complete Weeks One and Two of homework in their Me Myself & Lies member-book by our second gathering in two weeks. If you can’t get all your homework accomplished, meet anyway! A little Bible study is FAR BETTER than no Bible study! Thank you so much for participating!

I love you like crazy.
Beth

Psalm 19
A David Psalm
1-2 God’s glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.
Madame Day holds classes every morning,
Professor Night lectures each evening.

3-4 Their words aren’t heard,
their voices aren’t recorded,
But their silence fills the earth:
unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.

4-5 God makes a huge dome
for the sun—a superdome!
The morning sun’s a new husband
leaping from his honeymoon bed,
The daybreaking sun an athlete
racing to the tape.

6 That’s how God’s Word vaults across the skies
from sunrise to sunset,
Melting ice, scorching deserts,
warming hearts to faith.

7-9 The revelation of God is whole
and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear
and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right,
showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain
and easy on the eyes.
God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold,
with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of God are accurate
down to the nth degree.

10 God’s Word is better than a diamond,
better than a diamond set between emeralds.
You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring,
better than red, ripe strawberries.

11-14 There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger
and directs us to hidden treasure.
Otherwise how will we find our way?
Or know when we play the fool?
Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh!
Keep me from stupid sins,
from thinking I can take over your work;
Then I can start this day sun-washed,
scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.
These are the words in my mouth;
these are what I chew on and pray.
Accept them when I place them
on the morning altar,
O God, my Altar-Rock,
God, Priest-of-My-Altar.

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A Theological Conversation that Matters: Majoring on the Majors.

My dear Siestas! I would have written sooner, but I’ve just now finished reading all of your answers to my post a few weeks ago, “Talk to me.” Kidding. But for real y’all, I opened up a very glorious can of worms in that there post, didn’t I? For those of you who missed it, I asked everyone to answer two questions: 1) What biblical/theological/doctrinal issue(s) do you wish you were more educated about? 2) What biblical/theological/doctrinal issue(s) are you tired of hearing people bicker about? I was so delighted to learn that I am not the only chic on the blog-block who loves to talk all things theology. If you remain interested in these more technical discussions, then I will continue to respond every several weeks to your comments as in depth as I can without boring you to absolute tears. While I honestly don’t want to waste my hours working on posts that will be “too dry” or “too heady”, I also don’t want to under evaluate your desire to discuss theological issues. It would not be cool for the LPM blog to be part of promoting the long-standing reputation that women just don’t care about discussing theology. Can’t stomach the thought.

Now, if you read through the comments you probably gleaned the same thing I did: most of us are completely gorged by excessive arguments about church music preferences and minute details of the five points of Calvinism but have very little knowledge about the Trinity. This is telling but unsurprising because as many of you pointed out we often major on the minors and minor on the majors. And in terms of Christian theology it certainly doesn’t get much more “major” than the Trinity. Just the other day I when I was doing some personal reading I came across this paragraph:

“Every good answer to every question about God’s character appeals to God as Triune…My claim is no overstatement; it is an axiom of Christian faith. It is a theological rule the church has followed so we will not forget nor distort what we know of God in Jesus Christ, and so our knowledge of God in Jesus Christ will inform everything else we know and want to know better. Trinitarianism makes explicit the whole structure of Christian thought, which since its beginning has imitated and radicalized ‘the three structures of the Jewish understanding of God’ in light of Jesus Christ. It is neither a generalization nor a speculative exercise. It is our way to honor Christ’s memory and follow in his footsteps” Telford Work, Ain’t Too Proud to Beg: Living through the Lord’s Prayer (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, p 16).

Turned out I was doing a theological read concerned with the Trinity the very same day I was reading through your comments. It got me all jazzed up to want to post about the Trinity. But to be honest, I didn’t feel qualified to do it justice. The bulk of my training is in biblical studies and biblical languages and the peeps who usually exposit the doctrine of the Trinity the best not only have biblical training but are also church historians or systematic theology buffs. So, I immediately wrote a former theology professor of mine from Moody Bible Institute and begged and pleaded for his help. He is one of very few people I know who speaks in Trinitarian language regularly and in a way that us common-people can actually understand.

Dr. Bryan Litfin is not just a former professor of mine, but he is truly a friend. It took me a long time to consider him as such because after all, he is a specialist in Patristics and has written articles like, “Tertullian’s Exegetical Use of the Regula Fidei as an Interpretive Device in Adversus Marcionem.Studia Patristica (2006). Dr. Litfin did his doctoral studies at University of Virginia and had the incredible opportunity to work under Robert Louis Wilken, one of the most distinguished professors of early christian studies in the field. How the heck are you supposed to be “friends” with a dork, oops, I mean a guy like that? Dr. Litfin’s teaching really resonated with me from the beginning, partly because he knows what it is like to grow up under quite a bit of pressure. His father is the President of Wheaton College and is a legendary preaching machine well known throughout the evangelical seminary world. I remember Dr. Litfin telling a small group of us a hilarious story about when he was a student at Dallas Theological Seminary and he had to preach in the same department where his father taught and had been given a hallowed preaching nickname. It’s brutal for me just thinking about it. I figured if he could live up to that kind of pressure, I could handle some of the pressure I live with as well. It was also Dr. Litfin’s respect for his father and his respect for Wheaton College that drew me to do my Master’s in Biblical Exegesis at Wheaton Grad School. Those two years turned out to be two of the best years of my life. To make things even more exciting, Dr. Litfin’s wife Carolyn is a siesta! She is an incognito one most of the time but she reads the blog often and is always such an encouragement to me. She is my very favorite kind of woman – she not only loves the Lord with all of her heart but she also is an amazing cook and has a huge passion for Scripture. And she is so classy! They are a great pair, see them for yourself:

There is really no overstating how much the Litfin family means to me and there is no doubt that you will be hearing about them again, especially because Dr. Litfin has an exciting book coming out April of next year but we will save that news for another time. It deserves its own post. So that is enough by way of introduction. I hope you’ll read the post all the way through, maybe even twice. Here it is:

If there’s one thing I’ve observed about the siestas, it’s that they love the Bible. And no one can claim to be biblical without understanding the doctrine of the Trinity. Let’s talk a little bit about this famous doctrine that we all know we should believe, yet have a hard time grasping.

The Christians of Bible times worshiped Jesus as their divine Lord. They agreed with Thomas when he encountered the risen Christ and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) Jesus himself made the kinds of claims only a divine person can make, and his followers accepted his testimony that he is “one with the Father.” (John 10:30) But if you think about it, this is a hard thing to accept in a Jewish context. Remember what Deuteronomy 6:4 had said? “Hear o Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” The first Christians lived with a certain level of tension. They worshiped the Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as God, yet they claimed to be monotheists. They didn’t try to figure out how both could be true at once.

Soon, however, people in the Roman Empire began to address this problem. They didn’t always get it right, and we call the erroneous views that cropped up, “heresies.” One heretical view taught that Jesus was simply a different manifestation of the same God who was previously known as the Father. In other words, God the Father now reveals himself as God the Son, but they’re actually the same guy. You can see how this concept, called “modalism” by theologians today, preserves the “oneness” of God. However, we must ask with skepticism in our voices: Is Jesus Christ just God the Father in a different outfit? No, that can’t be right. The early church fathers scrapped the modalistic idea as quickly as it popped up.

In the year 318 AD in Egypt, the senior pastor of the church at Alexandria held the view that Christ is eternal because he shares the same divine existence as the Father. However, one of the assistant pastors in Alexandria, named Arius, disagreed. To him, this smacked of modalism: it made Christ and the Father into the same being. Arius confronted his pastor (or bishop) and said Christ cannot be eternal. Only the Father is eternal, argued Arius. Therefore, Christ must have been created by God at a point in time. Arius claimed, “God existed when Christ did not.” You can see immediately this is just plain wrong. Today we call it the Arian heresy. But it made sense to a lot of people in ancient times. They viewed the Father as eternal, and said he created Christ as his helper.

The Arian heresy spread and became a huge divisive issue. The ancient church needed to define its views on the matter, so a council was called in 325 AD at a town called Nicaea. (It’s pronounced “Ny-SEE-uh, and today it’s known as Iznik, Turkey.) At the Council of Nicaea, the church rejected Arius’s view. The early church fathers defined the important Trinitarian terms of “person” and “substance,” which are the same terms evangelical Christians consider orthodox today. I teach this doctrine every semester in my theology class at Moody. The view held in the “Nicene Creed” produced by the council is that Christ and the Father have the “same substance.” In Greek, the term is homoousios, and sometimes you see that important word in books about the Trinity.

But if we say the Father and Son have the same substance – that they are both eternal and neither is created by the other – have we slipped into modalism? In other words, have we made God the Father and God the Son into the same being? Absolutely not. The theology of Nicaea uses the term “person” to distinguish them. God the Father is one Person, and God the Son is another. They share the same substance, but not the same personhood. For example, think of Beth, Melissa, and Amanda. They each share the substance of being a woman, yet each is distinct as a person. So it is with the Trinity: the shared substance is divine, but the persons are distinct.

In the aftermath of the Council of Nicaea, Arianism did not go away, but managed to hang around due to political considerations in the Roman Empire. Fortunately, several church fathers rose up to defend the ideas of Nicaea. The most famous defender was Athanasius, who went on to become the senior pastor of the Alexandrian church. Thanks to Athanasius’s tireless work, which often put him at odds with the Roman emperors who preferred Arianism, the true view of the Trinity (Nicene Trinitarianism) finally triumphed. Several thinkers also extended the theology that had originally applied to the Father and Son to the Holy Spirit as well. The initial debate had centered on the question of Jesus’ relationship to the Father, but everyone knew you were supposed to baptize in the threefold name of Father, Son, and Spirit. (Matthew 28:19) After the original council in 325 AD, a more secure theology was put in place by the church fathers, so that the Holy Spirit was clearly included as divine. The upshot is this: each member of the Trinity is a distinct “person,” yet they share one “substance.” That is the mark of the true doctrine of the Trinity: 3 co-eternal persons, 1 shared substance. Don’t follow anybody who tries to teach you otherwise!

What does all this mean for the busy siesta in 2009? There are several big-time implications of the Trinity. First, we see that the full and complete deity of Christ is defended. As Athanasius so often insisted, our salvation is compromised if you accept the Arian premise that Christ isn’t fully God. Christ had to be one with the Father to provide perfect salvation, and one with mankind by becoming fully man. To save us, Jesus had to be 100% God and 100% Man. Athanasius was really clear about this point.

We also see in the doctrine of the Trinity that the Bible’s teaching is well-balanced. There are many verses that depict the Father, Son and Spirit as divine, yet we are never taught in Scripture to worship three separate gods. We worship ONE GOD who is a Trinity of persons. How exactly something can be three and one at the same time is a mystery to us; yet we speak this way because the Bible makes both points equally clear. God is both three and one. He is a Tri-Unity, according to Scripture.

There is one final implication of the Trinity I want to mention. Imagine a man locked in solitary confinement his whole life. He lives in a stark white cell. Not once does he ever have any interaction with another living being. My point is not to focus on the tragic life or psychological trauma such a person would have, but to ask the simple question, “Can this man truly love?” In our imaginary scenario, we would have to say no, because he has no object for his love. He has no relationship with anyone. He is solitary. He is utterly alone. There is no one to receive his affection and give it back in return. But God is not like this. His love is so full, so abundant, so profound, that Relationship is built into his very being! Even before he said, “Let there be light” and created a world with people for Him to love, the giving and receiving of love already existed within the Trinity. God is a Community of persons who love each other perfectly.

Do you see what this means? The Trinitarian God is not just the “boss of the world”; he is Eternal Love. The experience of a relationship between Father, Son and Spirit is fundamental to who God is. Love is his identity – and he shares it with us! This is the amazing teaching of Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer in John 17:21. Jesus prays that all Christians may be one, just as he and the Father are one. In other words, Jesus invites us into the Trinity’s community of love! Interpersonal love characterizes God’s own being for all eternity. We are called to participate in it – and to demonstrate it to a watching world in our own relationships.

The doctrine of the Trinity is not as complex as theologians make it out to be. Yes, it has some mysterious aspects, but its basic ideas are clear enough. The Bible teaches that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are three distinct persons who love each other perfectly, forming one Trinity with a shared divine substance. The God of love invites us into his community, and he makes it possible for us to live in loving relationship with others so that the image of God can be seen in man.

Dr. Bryan Litfin, Associate Professor of Theology, Moody Bible Institute

I am so grateful for Dr. Litfin’s willingness to guest blog here at LPM. I think it is a beautiful thing when academic folks and ministry folks partner together. I wish it happened a whole lot more often. So, thank you, Dr. Litfin, on behalf of the entire LPM blog! And come back and visit again.

“Such and so many are the Saviour’s achievements that follow from His incarnation, that to try and number them is like gazing at the open sea and trying to count the waves. One cannot see all the waves with one’s eyes, for when one tries to do so those that are following on baffle one’s senses. Even so, when one wants to take in all the achievements of Christ in the body, one cannot do so, even by reckoning them up, for the things that transcend one’s thought are always more than those one thinks that one has grasped…wherever a man turns his gaze he sees the Godhead of the Word and is smitten with awe.” (St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation).

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Burning Down the House

It’s June, the mother of all wedding months. And, as was mentioned before, it’s also the month we celebrate our anniversary. So I’ve been thinking some thoughts about marriage.

I’ve been hearing a lot of conversations about marriages – marriages on the rocks, marriages failing, marriages unlikely to last. It’s sad. And scary. Will we be one of the couples who makes it? I certainly hope so. We definitely plan to. But what if one of us goes off the deep end and burns the whole thing to the ground? What if we face a challenge so great that we don’t overcome it? I know for a fact that the enemy attacks our marriages and anyone in ministry can count on being on his hit list. We’ve felt the heat before and I’m sure we will feel it again. What if we fall for his lies and tricks? What if we don’t even need his intervention because we are so self-destructive on our own?

What do you do when your friend’s marriage is burning to the ground? Really, what steps do you take? How far do you go to try to help them? This is not currently happening in my circle of relationships, but what if?

If it were Curtis and me, what would our friends do? Would they stand by quietly or would they take us out to the woodshed and beat some sense into us? Seriously, I hope they’d take us to the woodshed. I hope someone would stage an intervention.

Even so – as I’m learning in my adulthood – people do what they want. There’s only so much you can do to help.

I have no idea where I’m going with this. None. But these are the thoughts I’ve been thinking.

About six weeks ago Curtis and I watched Fireproof for the first time. I don’t know why we’d waited so long to see it. Actually, I do. We were feeling rebellious about it. So many people were saying we should see it that it made us not want to. Nice, right? It’s funny because the night before we actually watched it, we had a humongous fight. The fight was about which “movie on demand” we were going to watch on our TV. For real, y’all. How that seemed worthy of such a huge fight, I have no idea. The next night, when we finally watched this movie about a marriage being saved from the flames, it ate our lunch. We both cried. When was the last time we saw a movie that showed romance in a marriage? I don’t even know. If your marriage needs a shot in the arm (and whose doesn’t), do yourself a favor and watch this movie. And get the book, “The Love Dare,” that’s shown in it. You might be feeling a little rebellious like we were. If so, you just need to get over it because your pride is stealing a blessing from you.

Here’s a question for you. If you ladies who are married knew that someone reading this blog was struggling in her marriage, what one thing would you want to say to her?

I’d say something that my mom once told me. Difficulties come in waves. If you can make it through the wave you’re on, you’ll find that it will end. Just because it’s hard right now and just because you don’t feel any affection for your mate at this moment doesn’t mean it will never go back to normal. Or even to better-than-normal. Persevere, pray, and read your Bible. We need God’s living and active Truth to pulverize the stubbornness, the numbness, the indifference, and the lies we’ve bought into. Get counseling. And please don’t say it’s too expensive. Getting a divorce is much more expensive in every way. Plus, a lot of Christian counselors will offer their services on a sliding scale based on your income. Okay, I will stop writing now because I want to hear your two cents.

Also, if you have been in a failed marriage, I pray that this post does not heap discouragement on you. That would be the last thing we’d ever want to do on this blog. Please know that Jesus loves you so much and there is no situation that He cannot redeem for His glory and your good. If He were not capable of redeeming, I would be the most hopeless of all. But here I am telling you that there is hope. He is hope.

Ephesians 5

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:
“Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

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LPL – Pittsburgh

Living Proof Live – Pittsburgh PA from Rich Kalonick on Vimeo.

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