When the World Turns

Yesterday, something bittersweet happened at Victory Tacloban. Pastor Kix Javier was announced as the new senior pastor of the church as Pastor Eugene Ramirez moves forward to another ministry opportunity. The transition was God’s act of grace that left many people teary-eyed and resulted in an outpouring of love within the congregation. It was one of those moments when your heart is pulled into two opposite directions. On the one hand you are excited with the fresh opportunities that come with new leadership; on the other hand you are sad about having to let go (at least formally) of pastors with whom you’ve forged strong relationships through the years. How do you even rejoice and be sad at the same time?

That’s the thing with the Christian message. We don’t actually have to choose between the two because if you look at the crux of the gospel story, the joy of our salvation is purchased with the heavy price of the suffering Christ. This teaches us that as long as we are in this world, all our joys will always be tempered with a tinge of suffering. When Jesus described the kingdom of heaven, he used the analogy of the joy and pain of childbirth. Christmas is both heaven’s loss and earth’s gain. Holy Week is both crucifixion and resurrection. We don’t get to pick one and reject the other. Jesus embraced both; we should do the same.

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Silent Graces

In the wee hours of a Monday morning, grace found me reading Eugene Peterson’s book ‘The Contemplative Pastor’ with Fernando Ortega music playing in the background. My heart soars in worship. There’s something about Peterson’s writing that warms the heart of pastors and there’s something about Fernando Ortega’s music that beckons me to the quiet waters of God’s presence. The combination is so serene. Praise God for quiet moments.

The Order of Salvation

Ordo Salutis (Order of Salvation) from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology:

1. Election (God’s choice of people to be saved)
2. The gospel call (proclaiming the message of the gospel)
3. Regeneration (being born again)
4. Conversion (faith and repentance)
5. Justification (right legal standing)
6. Adoption (membership in God’s family)
7. Sanctification (right conduct of life)
8. Perseverance (remaining a Christian)
9. Death (going to be with the Lord)
10. Glorification (receiving a resurrection body)

A Transformation of Taste Buds

Dane C. Ortlund:

New birth does not simply change us by giving us a new power to do the same things we always wanted to do. It changes us by getting down underneath even the very level of our desires and changing what we want. Sovereign, regenerating grace does not enable us to do what we don’t want to do. More deeply, it brings us to want to do what we should want to do. Regenerating grace is grace that softens us way down deep at the core of who we are. This is taste-bud transformation. In a miracle that can never be humanly manufactured, we find ourselves, strangely, delighting to love God. We are changed. The will itself is renovated. We see things as they really are.

Edwards on the Christian Life

Dane C. Ortlund:

How does a man who never typed an e-mail or drove a car or swung a golf club or watched a Super Bowl or blogged or tweeted or Skyped help me live my twenty-first-century Christian life? Not much if what matters essentially in Christian living is what we do. A lot if what matters essentially in Christian living is what we are.

Edwards walks us through the wardrobe into Narnia. We are given glasses– not sunglasses, which dim everything, but their opposite: lenses that brighten everything.