Laying Aside and Putting On

Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
Consider these admonitions from the New Testament: "Let us lay aside the deeds of darkness...and put on the armor of light." (Rom 13:12) "In reference to your former way of life, lay aside the old self...and put on the new self." (Eph 4:22,24) "Since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices; anger, wrath, malice, slander, abusive speech, and lying...and have put on the new self." (Col 3:8-10) "Putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness...receive the word implanted which is able to deliver your souls." (Jam 1:21) "Putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander...long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to [your present] salvation." (I Pet 2:1-2) "Let…
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The Tug of Sin’s Power

Analogies, Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
We have all heard the story of how baby elephants are trained.  A chain is placed around the baby elephant's foot and attached to an iron stake driven into the ground.  The young elephant pulls at the chain but does not have the strength to dislodge the stake.  Eventually, the elephant gives up.  As the story goes, when the elephant is fully grown, he can be easily contained by a chain and a stake - something he could now easily uproot - because he is conditioned by his past experience to believe the chain is a sufficient constraint.  I have been unable to determine if this is a true method of elephant training or a story used by life coaches to identify the chains in your life that limit your…
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A Thick Wet Blanket

Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
How many times have you heard something along these lines?  "He says things that are controversial.  He sometimes stretches the interpretation to make a point.  I don't always agree with what he says.  But, at least, he is preaching from the Word!"  The words "at least" are our way of saying we value a message based on a text of Scripture rather than a motivational topic looking for a Bible verse.  And we should.  But is "at least" the best we can do? There is no honor in "preaching the Word" if we are not getting it right.  In response to our view that modern preaching has gone soft, we are in danger of thinking any expository message will do.  And a common expository message of evangelical preaching today is…
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The Exchanged Life

Analogies, Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
When our preaching wanders into the realm of motivational speaking, we play right into Satan's hand by delivering a less than complete gospel message.  When our teaching takes the form of self-help pop psychology delivering ten steps to a better life, we have stripped the power from the gospel.  But when we let the Bible speak for itself, the message of Christ is a message of an exchanged life.  It is not a message of life improvement; it is a message of life transformation. For the unbeliever, it is the exchange of my sin for Christ's righteousness.  This is the basis of my justification, my being reconciled to God.  "God made Him [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of…
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A Message of Confusion

Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
Both Jesus and the apostles stressed the central need for unity within the Christian community.  Satan, on the other hand - having lost the war already and still losing individual battles every time someone joins God's kingdom - is focused on just the opposite:  disrupting the unity of our message through planting seeds of envy, strife, and disharmony. It is imperative that we get a handle on what Satan is up to in this world.  We often relegate Satan to the make believe world of fairies and elves and in so doing have dropped our defenses against him.  Peter warns, "Be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (I Pet 5:8).  And Paul writes, "Put on the full armor of…
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A Good Name

Church Life, Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
Prosperity teachers, name-it-claim-it theology, and the word of faith movement have all combined to give the power of words a bad name.  But words do carry power.  We believe the written Word of God carries supernatural power.  And we empower our believing community when we properly use the words of Scripture to describe ourselves and our brothers and sisters in Christ. I am a firm believer that kids and adults live into the expectation we set before them.  And that expectation often takes its form in the words and labels we use.  If we practice a ministry of condemnation (II Cor 3:9); labeling believers as sinners, telling them how poorly they are doing, and not holding out much hope for improvement, can we be surprised when our parishioners live into…
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Kindling for the Fire

Thoughts
Let me introduce you to a new book by Dwight Edwards titled, Kindling for the Fire.  Here is an excerpt from the Introduction: "Fire. There are many pictures used for God in the bible – rock, water, wind, fortress, refuge, etc. But the similitude which outstrips all of them is one that we probably wouldn’t expect. It is that of fire. Over ninety times God and His presence are likened unto fire. 'For our God is a consuming fire' writes the author of Hebrews and both the Old and New Testaments camp heavily upon this blazing portrait. However, God is not only a fire on the outside; He is equally a fire on the inside. And were that not true; I would not have written this book. Let me explain."…
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