Sunday, January 20, 2013

"My Righteousness"

Christians of all ages, backgrounds and social standing have often  turned together to the Psalms to find comfort and counsel that speaks to the very core of their being.  These inspired songs from the pen of David and others resonate with our souls.  If we are in trouble, we easily find a Psalm that gives expression to innermost longing: "Bow down Your ear, O Lord, hear me; for I am poor and needy (Psalm 86:1)."  When the Christian longs for solid ground amidst the shifting sands of a world sold-out to relativism, then "Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven" (Psalm 119:89)  steadies our soul.  When the stain of sin burdens our heart, Psalms of repentance echo our own experience: "For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me (Psalm 51:3)."

And we could go on.  But there is one expression in the Psalms that I have sometimes struggled with.  It does not seem to fit into the channels of my own experience.  It is the phrase, repeated several times, "my righteousness."

For example:
Psalm 7:8  "The Lord shall judge the peoples; Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, And according to my integrity within me."
Psalm 18:20 "The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me."
Psalm 18:24 "Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness, According to the cleanness of my hands in His sight."

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday School Plans - Pleasure, Politics & the Pen

We have taken a brief intermission in our study of Paul's letter to the Colossians to consider a series of videos taught by R.C. Sproul entitled the "Christian Worldview."

The title may be misleading.  The series seems to me to be really a more full-orbed review of secular worldviews and how they contrast with the Christian worldview.  But maybe that is a distinction without a difference.  I'm not sure.  The topics include such studies as Secularism, Existentialism, Humanism, Pragmatism and others.

We haven't watched every one of the 12 episodes.  We have seen 5, and I will show 3 more.  The following are the 3 that remain which we will watch over the course of the next 3 weeks (D.V.):

  • Hedonism
  • Government
  • Literature

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Growing - A 2013 Exordium

Spiritual growth is a funny thing.

I mean, most sorts of growth are pretty easy to measure.  Financial growth (or the lack thereof!) is pretty obvious.  Growth in size (or weight...ugghhh) is not too hard to track.  We can tell when a plant grows - and depending on the time of year - such growth can be observed even daily.  Kids seem to grow right before our eyes.  Scientists can even measure the growing distance (sort of) between the galaxies (thought I won't try to get into the complexity of this phenomenon - since it boggles little minds like mine).

But spiritual growth is another matter entirely.  There is no ruler available to us that adequately accounts for it.  In fact, quite counter intuitively, the Bible seems to describe growing Christians as getting smaller (at least smaller in terms of their estimation of themselves).  John the Baptist summed it up when he said, speaking of Christ, "He must increase, but I must decrease."

I guess I'm thinking about spiritual growth sort of like an investment portfolio, managed by a trusted accountant, but into which you have no direct access.  You know what you put in, but have no real clue where you are at.  Not a brilliant analogy for sure.  But maybe it has some correlation to our situation with respect to growing as Christians.

But we are told to grow.  There seems to be no question about this.  I won't trouble you with quotes.  Anyone familiar with their Bibles is well aware that growing is not merely a spiritual fantasy but a Divine Command.  "Grow, you must!" is how Yoda would say it.  But with abundantly more authority, the Apostle Peter makes it clear, "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18)."

Since we are commanded to grow in spite of our limited capacity to really measure growth, I am especially grateful for books that help me to focus on specific areas to concentrate on.  Rather than always trying to determine if I am ACTUALLY growing, it seems better to just focus on the things that make for growth.  Do them, and we can be reasonably sure we are growing, whether we can see such growth or not.  Donald Whitney wrote a book entitled "Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life."  In it he draws our attention to 10 Biblical Areas to focus on if we want to grow as Christians.