From Michael S. Horton in a recent White Horse Inn email . . .
There’s a crisis of biblical literacy on three levels:
1. The basic storyline – including famous episodes and characters in Scripture – meet blank stares, even with young people raised in the church.
2. Many who can identify key names and events express confusion about how it all fits together. They might have pieces of the puzzle, but they don’t know the big picture.
3. Still fewer of those who can put it together can explain it to someone else. And because they don’t understand the drama of redemptive history, they unwittingly revise the entire story.
Are you running out of love for the people in your life? Fuel up by faith in the love of Jesus for the likes of you!
You endure the weight of love by being rooted in God. Your life energy needs to come from God, not the person you are loving. The more difficult the situation, the more you are forced into utter dependence on God. That is the crucible of love, where self-confidence and pride are stripped away, because you simply do not have the power or wisdom or ability in yourself to love. You know without a shadow of a doubt that you can’t love. That is the beginning of faith— knowing you can’t love.
Faith is the power for love. Paul the apostle tells us that the I-beam or hidden structure of the Christian life is “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). Faith energizes love. We handle the weight of love by rooting ourselves in God. Our inability to sustain love drives us into dependence on God. Then faith becomes a continuous cry. Like the tax collector in the temple, we cry out, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13).
In overwhelming situations where you are all out of human love, you discover that you are praying all the time because you can’t get from one moment to the next without God’s help. You realize you can’t do life on your own, and you need God and his love to be the center. You lean upon God because you can’t bear the weight of love. So faith is not a mountain to climb, but a valley to fall into . . .
. . . As we love “in place,” as we love the people that God has permitted in our world, the texture of Jesus emerges in us. Our beauty comes not from pursuing a brilliant career track, but in the nitty-gritty endurance with difficult people or circumstances.
An excerpt from A Loving Life: In a World of Broken Relationships by Paul E. Miller (Crossway 2014, pp. 43-44)
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit, three-in-one God, one God in three persons . . .
You are the original relationship. You are the original God-centered, others-oriented community. You are the MODEL for the unity of Your Church. Our Lord Jesus prayed that we would live in holy relationship with one another, even as You live as a holy relationship.
But we have fallen short of the glory of Your loving unity, Lord. Forgive us: for we have hurt and hated one another, we have turned away from and not toward one another, we have talked about and not to one another.
But because of His great love for us, the Father planned to provide peace through the Son by the power of the Spirit. You have forgiven us so that we might be able to forgive those who have sinned against us. You are not only the glorious MODEL but also the gracious MEANS by which Your people live in unity.
Now we ask, Lord, that Your work of redemption for us and in us might powerfully work reconciliation between us. Stir our hearts to forgive as we have been forgiven, to reconcile with one another even as we have been reconciled to You.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Spirit, one God, now and forever,
A poem/song for Lent . . .
I am dust
I am ashes
I am full of life
I am full of passion
I am feeble
I am frail
I can’t help but live behind this human veil
I am sin
Yet You show me
That You want to love me, want to know me
Just as I am . . . dust and ashes
I am only dust and I am ashes
I Am . . . in dust
I Am . . . in ashes
To fill me with His life and with His passion
He was feeble
He was frail
He was moved by love to wear this human veil
Just to show me
That He would make me righteous for His glory
Just as I Am . . . in dust and ashes
A Treasure in this jar of dust and ashes
– Jimmy Davis, Ash Wednesday, 2012