An Easy, Low-key, Non-threatening Way To Share The Gospel That Anyone Can Do

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I’m not an evangelist.

I’m not bold. I regularly pray for boldness, but I usually chicken out when I have an opportunity to say something. I especially don’t like “cold call” evangelism – going up to strangers and trying to engage them to share the gospel with them.  What’s a chicken-hearted weakling like me to do?

I was recently stirred when a brother shared at fellowship group how he got saved. He said that when he was in college a friend of his met with him weekly over coffee and they read through one of the Gospels together.  They met week after week, reading at a leisurely pace, stopping to discuss any questions my friend had. It was low-key, no pressure, and my friend believed in Jesus along the way.

Not only that but it involved coffee!  

I’ve also been stirred recently by reading the Gospel of John – in it the word “believe” is mentioned 100 times.  John tells us his purpose in writing his book in Chapter 20:30-31:

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

The purpose of the book of John is to help people BELIEVE. When we BELIEVE in Jesus’ name – that Jesus is God the Son, the Christ who became man, died for our sins, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven – WE HAVE LIFE!  So when people read through the book of John they’ll see Jesus’ miracles and read his own words about his identity.  And many will believe.  So I prayed, worked up some nerve, and called a guy I met recently and asked him if he’d like to read through the Gospel of John together.  He said yes! So we’ve started meeting for coffee and reading through the book together.

What I love about reading through John with someone is that it’s low-key and nonthreatening. I don’t feel like I have to convince them by my brilliant arguments – John does all the talking for me. John is telling my friend about Jesus.  And John presents a full picture of Jesus, which you can’t do in a brief presentation.  The gospel is like a seed.  It takes time germinate, take root, and grow.  The more truth we have about Jesus, the more likely faith will grow in our hearts.  That’s the advantage of slowly going through John.

Maybe you have a friend or family member that you are not able to meet with. But they might be willing to read through the Gospel of John. There are many booklet-sized versions of the Gospel of John.  Here is a link to the ESV version, which you can get at Crossway for $1.79. So if you can find someone who will go through it with you, it will cost you $3.58 for 2 copies, plus coffee.  (Treat your friend).

Is there someone you can think of that might be willing to meet with you and work through the Gospel of John together? Consider praying about it and giving them a call. The worst thing that could happen is they could say no. But they might say yes.

The Habit That Changed My Life

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Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 TH 5:18

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ EPH 5.20

Early in my Christian life my mother heard a teaching on giving thanks for everything. I was 23, out of work, and had recently moved back home. I was depressed and not very hopeful about my life.

I was incredulous. “Thank God for everything?” I asked. “Do you mean that I’m supposed to thank God if I have a flat tire?”

“Well, yes, because you don’t know but there might be an accident up the road that God prevented you from being in by letting you get that flat tire.”

I was skeptical, but decided to try to put my mom’s advice into practice and thank God for everything. It was the mid-summer and I was putting a patio in for my parents. As I lugged the large stones in the blazing sun I began to thank God. “Lord, thank you for how hot it is. Thank you for these stones. Thank you that I don’t have a job. Thank you that I had to move back home with my parents. Thank you for how miserable I am.”

I didn’t feel thankful. But I gave thanks out of sheer obedience to God’s word. Little did I know that this was the beginning of a habit that would change my life.

I remember another day many years later. I was playing basketball in the back yard with my son and twisted my ankle. As I sat on the asphalt basketball court it looked like someone had inserted a large sausage under the skin. My son stood there with eyes wide open. The thought went through my head – what kind of example would I show my son in my pain? So I began to thank Jesus in the midst of my screaming pain. Later, a podiatrist told me it would’ve been better if I had broken my ankle, the sprain was so bad. During the following weeks I had many opportunities to practice thankfulness. One day when I was sliding into self-pity I caught myself, grabbed myself by the collar and began to thank the Lord. “Jesus, thank you that I sprained my ankle. Thank you that it was only one ankle I sprained and not both of them. Thank you that I did not have to go to Vietnam where many guys had their legs blown off by mines….”

By God’s grace I have sought to practice thankfulness in all kinds of circumstances. Not that I have done it perfectly, but God has helped me to give him thanks not only in times of blessing but even through tears and deep sadness.

I have learned that to give thanks in all circumstances doesn’t mean we thank him for the evil in those circumstances. But we can always thank him that despite the evil and pain we suffer, he is in control and he is loving and faithful and causes all things to work together for our good.

God he doesn’t expect us to put on a smiley face and act like pain isn’t there. But he tells us to rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances. When we do this, even through tears or pain we glorify him and he will bless us and reward us for it.

If you are thinking of resolutions or new habits you’d like to begin this coming year, I would suggest you put giving thanks at the top of your list if you aren’t doing it already. Thanking God in everything has made a huge difference in my life and I believe it will in yours as well.

A Tale of Two Poems

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When I was a kid, I hated poetry. Too obscure, and too much obsession with rhyming, I thought. Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I took the one with no poets pining behind the pine trees.

Over time, however, I?ve come to see poetry?s value. Good poetry is about life, the stuff of universal human experience, but distilled into concrete, specific moments. It is a window into the human heart: what do we believe, feel, long for, fear, crave?

Take, for instance, the most universal of all human experiences: death. What is it like to face death, to know it?s coming next just as surely as an appointment on your calendar? And what does that experience say about what we?re made of, who we really are? Here?s one approach from the poem Invictus by William Earnest Henley.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

?Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

Don?t speed read it! (Hint: ?speed? and ?poetry? are words that go together as well as, say, ketchup and peanut butter.) Read it carefully. Let its message bring you up short. You can summarize this poem?s approach to death in one word: defiance. It?s raw; there are no filters on the poet?s words. Master. Captain. Unafraid. Isn?t this one hard-boiled, extreme expression of Isaiah 53:6: ?All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned ? every one ? to his one way??

There?s another way, however. Consider the poem Even Such is Time by Sir Walter Raleigh:

Even such is time, which takes in trust
Our youth, our joys, our all we have,
And pays us but with earth and dust.
Who in the dark and silent grave,
When we have wander?d all our ways,
Shuts up the story of our days;
But from this earth, this grave, this dust,
My God shall raise me up, I trust!

If Invictus is defiant, Even Such Is Time is dependent. It?s about the same human experience, but Raleigh stands ? we might say, kneels ? on a totally different viewpoint. The sorrow of death is vividly portrayed ? remember, Scripture calls it the last enemy (1 Cor. 15:26) ? but rather than despair or defiance, this poem leads to confidence. Earth, grave, and dust do not have the last word. That right belongs to the God who raises the dead.

Two poems. Two diametrically opposed viewpoints. But don?t make the mistake of thinking this is only about the end of life. Every human trial, every human struggle, ultimately contains either defiance or dependence at its core. Does God exist for me (whatever gods may be?) Or do I exist for God, whatever the story of my days may be? That is the essence of the moral drama we wake up to each morning. That is the drama you are living out even now. Defiance or dependence. Unbelief or faith. Pride or humility. Which will it be? Perhaps, we might even say:

Two roads diverged ?neath a cross of wood?

Photo by Lydur Skulason

The Secret To Rejoicing In Every Situation

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Puritan pastor?Matthew Henry was once robbed by thieves. This is what he recorded in his journal:

?Let me be thankful first because I was never robbed before; second, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, and not someone else.?

How could Matthew Henry rejoice after being hijacked? Because he didn?t derive his joy from his circumstances, but he took joy in the God of his salvation.

Paul and Silas freed a slave girl from a spirit of divination that had kept her in bondage for a long time. Deprived of their cash cow, her owners dragged Paul and Silas before the local magistrates and riled up a mob who proceeded to give Paul and Silas a fine Philippian pounding. Then they tossed them into prison, in the inner prison, and fastened their feet in the stocks.

The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them?(Acts 16:22-25)

Paul and Silas are chained up in a filthy Philippian prison and they?re singing!

I?ve never been stripped, beaten, thrown into prison and fastened in stocks. But if I were, I don?t know if my first inclination would be to sing ?I Just Want to Thank You.? That?s not usually the first thought that comes to my mind when the kids put a dent in the car or the back porch ceiling starts leaking.

The reason Paul and Silas could worship in the blockhouse was because they didn?t derive their joy from their circumstances, but took joy in the God of their salvation.

For believers in Christ, the source of our joy is Jesus himself. He?s our fountain of life, our chosen portion, our beautiful inheritance. He?s our meat and drink. And he never changes, no matter how much our circumstances fluctuate. I once flew from Pittsburgh to Toronto. It was overcast and snowing in Pittsburgh, but when the plane rose above the clouds, the sun was blazing in all its glory. When we descended in Toronto it was grey and snowing again. I had a flash of revelation (that?s right folks, it had never dawned on me until that very moment) ? no matter what it?s like ?down here? in our circumstances, God is still shining like the sun above the clouds. He?s blazing with goodness and kindness and power and love for us. He hasn?t changed any more than the sun changes when it?s raining.

So where does your joy come from? Does it come from your spouse or your children? Does it come from having a nice home or good job? Do you derive your joy from your health or possessions? What if you should lose them all? Would you be able to rejoice?

If you have not yet called upon the Lord Jesus Christ to save you from your sins, and give you eternal life, I urge you to do so right now. If you do know Jesus, be glad and sing praises, no matter what?s happening ?down here? in your life. Rejoice in the God of your salvation.

 

5 Things Forgiveness Doesn?t Mean

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Over the years I?ve counseled some individuals who?ve been horribly sinned against.

At times I did a really poor?job of helping them navigate their pain and the process of working toward forgiveness. Forgiving others is clearly commanded by God, and deep down most believers want to, but it isn?t always easy, and lots of questions arise. Questions like, when I forgive must I feel like forgiving? If I forgive you does it mean end of discussion and I can?t talk about my hurt feelings? Does it mean everything?s automatically back to the way it was before you sinned against me? There are whole books written on the subject but here are a few things that forgiveness doesn?t mean. ?I hope they are helpful.

The command to forgive doesn?t mean that it?s easy or that we must forgive quickly. When we are sinned against it can be devastating, life-shattering, disillusioning, disorienting. Some sins are easy to forgive, but others can take a long time, much prayer, and much help from God. When someone?s reeling in pain, the first thing they need is our compassion and sympathy, not a quick encouragement to forgive. That will probably be part of the process of helping someone, but not the first step. I regret that at times in the past I was incredibly insensitive to some people?s pain and way too quick to suggest that they meet with those who?d sinned against them and grant forgiveness.

Forgiveness doesn?t mean we will feel like forgiving. Forgiveness is a decision of the will to absorb the pain or consequences caused by someone?s sin and not require them to repay. If you borrow my car and wreck it, someone?s got to pay to fix it, you or me. If I ?forgive? you, I make a costly decision to absorb the cost of your failure, just as Jesus absorbed the cost of our sins and paid for them on the cross. So it can be very painful to forgive someone. So the command to forgive doesn?t mean we will ?feel forgiving? when we make this decision. And it doesn?t mean that we won?t experience pain for a long time after we forgive.

Forgiveness doesn?t mean we must immediately trust someone. Forgiveness is instantaneous; trust is earned over time. If a drunkard comes to church and turns to Christ, God forgives him immediately, but he shouldn?t become a leader the next day. If someone asks our forgiveness for hurting us, we can forgive them, but it doesn?t necessarily mean they?ve changed. It?s not wrong to want to see a track record of change before trusting someone again, even if we?ve forgiven them.

Forgiveness doesn?t mean end of discussion. How many of us husbands have said to our wives ?I said I was sorry. So why do we have to keep talking about it?? Even when we forgive, it can be really important for the one sinned against to share how the offender hurt or affected them. We need to realize the consequences of our sins. Often we need to consider all that led up to our sin – how we got there in the first place – in order to prevent future sin.

And finally, forgiveness doesn?t mean there are no consequences for sin. If I foolishly max out my credit card, then confess my sin, God will forgive me, but I?ll still have to pay off my debt, which might take years. When we forgive someone, we are saying, ?Lord, please don?t condemn them for this sin. Please don?t give them what their sin deserves, just as you have not given me what my sins deserve.? But there may still be consequences – even life-long consequences – even when God forgives them of the guilt of their sin.

Sometimes it?s easy to forgive. At other times it feels like an impossible task. Very often, Jesus commands us to do the impossible, like love our enemies and do good to those who hate us (LK 6:27). We can?t do these impossible things on our own, but if God commands them, he will give us the grace to obey him if we ask for it.

A Great Question to Promote Humility and Thankfulness

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The Corinthian church had some pride issues. Many were ?puffed up? and arrogant, even looking down on Paul who had delivered the gospel to them. Paul gave them a great reminder to help them stay humble. It?s a good one for us. As Paul asked the Corinthians a question, we can ask ourselves the same question. Here?s what he asked:

What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? 1 CO 4:7

What do you have that you did not receive?

Think about it. All we have – every single thing – is ultimately a gift from God. We didn?t earn it, we didn?t deserve it; God just blessed us with it.

You may say, ?I have worked hard for all I have. I worked my way through college, paid for my own tuition, studied hard, and when I got a job I worked harder than anyone else to advance in my company. That?s how I have these things. I earned them.?

Oh yeah? I think you may be forgetting just a few small things. Like the fact that God placed you in this country where a good education is possible. God gave you your intelligence. If you were raised in a stable family it?s because God put you there. Your diligence is a gift from God. God?s blessing makes opportunities for businesses and individuals to make money. Your sound mind, your intelligence, your talents, your health, your education, your job, your income, your house, your car – you name it – if you have it, it is because you have received it.

And what about spiritual things? How is it that you know the gospel? Because somebody else told you. How do you know anything about God? Because you received it from somebody else. Why do you even have a Bible? Because others wrote down God?s word, preserved it, copied it, developed printing presses, published it, and eventually it wound up in your hands – as a gift. All our spiritual knowledge – anything and everything we know about God – all a gift. Our salvation, our adoption as sons, our spiritual gifts, our joy, our confidence, our hope, our experience of God?s love – ALL undeserved gifts and blessings from God.

What do you have that you did not receive? Answer: Nothing. All we have – every spiritual gift and every material blessing – we have received as undeserved blessings from God. This should humble us. This should make us exceedingly thankful. We should breathe thanksgiving to our heavenly Father all day long.

What do you have that you did not receive?

Blessed To Not Be Blessed

Winning the lottery is like throwing Miracle-Gro on your character defects
–Quote from a TV show on the lottery.

Sometimes we?re blessed to not be blessed.

What I mean by ?not to be blessed? is not blessed in the way we think we should be. ?Or the way we want to be. ?God is so wise that sometimes he withholds blessings from us because he knows we couldn?t handle them. ?That we?d forget him. ?That we?d fall too much in love with this world. ?That we?d ruin ourselves. ?That it would throw Miracle-Gro on our character defects.

Psalm 84:11 says God doesn?t withhold blessing from his children:

No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.

God withholds NO good thing from those he loves. ?So if God does withhold something from us, we can know that it must not be a good thing for us. ?We might think it would be a good thing, but we need to trust God?s wisdom. ?He knows what we?re made of and what would tempt or ruin us. ?He knows that winning American Idol wouldn?t be good for most of us. ?Lots of money wouldn?t be a good thing for most of us. ?Too much honor and adulation wouldn?t do most of us good either. ?Agur, author of part of Proverbs says:

Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and say, ?Who is the LORD??
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.
(Proverbs 30:8-9)

I?ve got to admit, it?s hard to pray this prayer. ?I can easily pray ?Don?t give me poverty,? but I don?t add the second part, ?or riches.? ?Because I think riches would be good. ?I want more than just needful food. ?I want to feast on steak and cake and cookies. ?Agur says it?s just as dangerous to be rich as it is to be poor. ?He says if we?re poor we can be tempted to steal, which profanes God?s name. ?But when we?re rich we can be tempted to deny God and say ?Who is the Lord?? ?If have everything, you can think you don?t need God.

Sometimes God uses sickness or poverty to ?hem us in? – to keep us back from harmful things we?d pursue if we were healthy enough or rich enough.

If God isn?t pouring out on you the ?good? we think you should have – whether it be wealth, a wife, a husband, a child, a job, a break, health, a home, whatever – it might be that if you had it, it might not be for your good. ?God is out for your best, which is to know him, and be conformed to his likeness. ?So seek to be content to have Christ alone. ?If we have him we have the infinite riches of God. ?We have all the good God can give us. ?If God hasn?t given us something we?ve asked for, we can seek him for it, but then let us trust his wise providence. ?He?ll give it to us if it?s really good for us. ?He?ll withhold it if it?s not.

God will prune us.? He’ll cut off branches that don’t bear fruit.? But he won?t throw Miracle-Gro on the weeds in our hearts.

And that’s something to praise him for.

 

What God’s “Clothing” Reveals About Him

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You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment, (PS 104:1-2)

The Psalmist poetically compares the creation with God?s clothing: ?You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment.? We can?t see God, but he shows us something of himself in his “clothing.”

Spurgeon says ?Garments both conceal and reveal a person, and [so does the creation] of God.? The universe conceals God ? we can?t see him in his infinite glory as he really is. But the universe also reveals God ? and if the creation is filled with such majesty and beauty, how great must God be. ?It makes us feel how altogether inconceivable the personal glory of the Lord must be; if light itself is but his garment and veil, what must be the blazing splendor of his own essential being!? (Spurgeon).

Michael E. Travers says, ?All of nature can only hint at God?s greatness, just as a person?s clothing can only give a suggestion of what the person is really like.? (Encountering God in the Psalms)

A couple weeks ago I happened to catch the most beautiful sunset. The fiery oranges and the subtle pinks and purples evoked a sense of awe and hunger for a deeper beauty. That yearning for a deeper beauty is ultimately a yearning for the infinite beauty of Jesus Christ. As John Piper says, ?It is the glory of Christ that finally satisfies our soul. We are made for Christ, and Christ died so that every obstacle would be removed that keeps us from seeing and savoring the most satisfying treasure in the universe?namely, Christ, who is the image of God.?

Beloved, we are God?s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 1 JN 3:2

In heaven there will be no more pain or tears. We?ll be reunited with loved ones who believed and went before us. We?ll have glorious immortal bodies. But nothing will compare with the rapturous vision of Christ?s face.

If you can, take a few minutes today and observe the beauty of the creation. I hope you live somewhere where you can take in a sunset or pine trees reflecting in a lake. As you delight in the Lord?s ?clothing? praise him that someday you?ll stare in amazement upon ?the blazing splendor? of his face.

*painting – “Starry Night” by Van Gogh

Treat That Wound Right Away

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Are you angry with a brother? Offended at a sister? Are you avoiding her? When you hear the song, “We Can Work It Out” do you say, ‘Yeah sure we can’? We can be tempted to think that if we ignore anger, it will just go away. But it won?t. Like an untreated wound, it gets more infected if we fail to deal with it.

In Matthew 5:21-26 Jesus says:

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.”

UNRECONCILED RELATIONSHIPS LEAVE US LIABLE TO JUDGMENT

First Jesus says ?You have heard that it was said to those of old? ? the OT law said – ?that whoever murders is liable to judgment.? Of course. ?But now Jesus puts three other things in the same class as murder: being angry with a brother, insulting a brother, calling a brother a fool. ?Anger with a brother is murder in the heart and makes us liable to the judgment of hell. ?Serious business.

Unreconciled relationships expose us to judgment, so Jesus commands us to deal with relational strains quickly. Especially if you know that someone has something against you. Don’t wait. Take care of it now. Go and seek to be reconciled

RECONCILIATION TAKES PRECEDENCE OVER WORSHIP

In verses 23 and 24 Jesus says,

?So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.?

Even if we are right in the middle of worship and remember we?re unreconciled with someone we should stop what we’re doing, “leave your gift there before the altar” and GO. “FIRST” ? before you worship ? “be reconciled to your brother, and THEN” ? after that ? “come and offer your gift.”. Reconciliation takes precedence over worship.

Maybe you don’t think you’ve sinned against him, but he certainly believes you did – he “has something against you. ?But that’s his problem you say. No! Jesus says: ?Leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.?

What Jesus implies is that unresolved conflicts hinder worship. God won’t accept our songs and prayers if we tolerate broken relationships and let offences divide us.

Keep short accounts. Deal with offences quickly. “Do not let the sun go down on your anger. And give no opportunity to the devil.” (Eph. 4:26-27). When we let anger fester, it gives Satan the opportunity to tempt us to bitterness and ruin our relationships. ?It gives him the opportunity to tempt us to slander and gossip and hate in our heart.

So Jesus says “GO!” Now. ?Before the sun sets. ?Even if you’re in the middle of worship. Keep short accounts. Does this mean we leave in the middle of a song Sunday and drive to someone’s house to be reconciled? Not necessarily, but we should work toward reconciliation as quickly as possible.

If you know someone has a problem with you go to him. Humble yourself. Try to see your sin. Listen to him. Don’t be defensive. ?If you see your sin ask forgiveness. If you can’t see it, don’t write him off ? tell him you want to see your sin, that you’ll pray about it and if you do see it you want to ask his forgiveness. ?It’s hard to go to someone who’s offended at us. Sometimes they unload on us. But failing to try to reconcile?can have disastrous consequences. In verses 25 and 26 Jesus says:

Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

If we don’t try to work things out with people, it can get much worse down the road. So come to terms quickly!

If every church practiced this what unity, joy and blessing we?d see. What a witness it would be to our children and the world. Is there anyone who has something against you? Anyone you?re not reconciled with? Humble yourself, go to them, and seek to be reconciled.

Resolution #9, #9, #9….The Resolutions Of Jonathan Edwards In Today’s English

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It?s that time of year again when many of us make bold resolutions to do things like quit smoking, start exercising, or quit smoking while exercising.

I have never found making New Years resolutions helpful though, because:

1) I don?t write them down, thus forgetting what I resolved by January 2nd,
2) I make resolutions I can never possibly do, like ?Do Iron-Man Triathlon,? or ?Memorize book of Habakkuk in original language? or,
3) I make resolutions I feel I ?should? do but have not the least whit of actual desire to do, like ?Raise organic free-range chickens.?

In the 1700s when there was no HDTV, YouTube or Twitter, people passed the time by making resolutions, as did the famous theologian, Jonathan Edwards. He made approximately 5,000 mostly unkeepabable resolutions, such as ?I resolve always to clean the kitchen sink before going to bed,? but narrowed them down to 70 keepable ones, like ?I resolve to witness to 342 people a day.?

Yearly I examine the Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards whenever I want to remind myself what a loser Christian I am. But in addition to reminding one of how spiritually pathetic one is, the Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards have great value to inspire. So I thought it would be good if we looked at a few. And because we are a full-service blog, I?ll make helpful and insightful comments and interpret his Puritan into language any common Pittsburgh Steeler fan can understand. Let?s get started.

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God?s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ?s sake.

What a great beginning. We can?t do anything apart from God?s grace and help, so J.E. prays for grace. I regularly fail to pray before doing things, so often I find myself looking at a toilet I?ve installed upside down, or hot water coming out the cold water spigot after I?ve repaired it, and my wife Kristi asks me, ?Did you pray about it?? To which I reply, ?No! And I?m not going to!? But let?s move on, next J.E. says:

Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

J.E. hasn?t even made his first resolution and already I know I?d fail to do this. I?ve entered weekly reminders into my Google Calendar, like ?Jog? or ?Clean Gutters? and though they pop up like prairie dogs before my eyes every week, after 2 pop-ups they become invisible, like the exercise equipment in my basement. On to the first resolution.

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God?s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.

Here?s a great example of Puritan language: ?never so many myriads of ages hence.? This means ?a heck of a long time.? Here Jonathan Edwards resolved to live completely for God?s glory, for his own and others? good. But Puritans always made things sound more impressive by using words like ?hence? and ?soever.? One of their favorite words was ?duty,? which roughly means ?that which is boring and tedious like flossing?.

2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new contrivance and invention to promote the aforementioned things.

Again, it makes you sound more spiritual to your friends if you use Puritan words like ?endeavoring?, ?contrivance? and ?aforementioned.? What he means in plain English is: ?Git ?er done.?

4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

When Edwards says, ?nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it,? he means he will avoid things like snowboarding and swing dancing because he could throw his back out.

5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

Obviously he could only have kept this resolution because Facebook hadn?t been invented. No one today can possibly do this.

7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

Let?s see, in the last hour of my life, I?d be afraid to light myself on fire, eat a live scorpion (Bear Grylls couldn?t make this resolution), or sing ?The Impossible Dream? in front of Simon Cowell.

Well, so as not to overwhelm you, to be continued?

Originally published Dec 28, 2009