For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him, as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
From Mike Tong, Pastor for Neighborhood Outreach, Downtown
You may have seen in the news that on September 25, 2015, there was a double homicide in South Minneapolis. The victims in that story were my dear neighbors Gina and her daughter Victoria. Victoria was only 15 years old.
This terrible disaster has caused significant sadness for my wife, Catherine, and me. It has confused and angered us. It has consumed every spare moment of our minds. We are wearied by our emotions. Even now, there is an aching in my bones that does not subside.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.—2 Corinthians 9:6–7
At the Converge Transform meetings in California last week, keynote speaker Efrem Smith spoke from Matthew 9 and said, “Community cannot be accomplished outside the agape love of Jesus.”
That means true community is impossible, unless the Spirit of Christ reigns.
Lives matter not only to those whose lives they are (i.e., my life matters to me and your life matters to you), but lives matter to those around them (i.e., your life matters to me and my life matters to you). They matter to those who are enriched by them and to those who pile up blessing or condemnation for themselves on account of the way they treat others’ lives.
In yesterday’s post we cited Norm Andersen’s 12 “seeds” for producing fruitful relationships. He contrasts those positives with corresponding negatives, as follows:
1. Respect / disrespect, rudeness
2. Encouragement / discouragement, negativity
3. Listening / inattentiveness, insensitivity
4. Appreciation / ingratitude
In his book entitled 12 Seeds for Successful Relationships, Norm Andersen launches each of his dozen chapters from a Bible text under 12 headings as follows ...
1. Respect: Outdo one another in showing honor.—Romans 12:10
2. Encouragement: Encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.—Hebrews 10:25
Jared Wass underscores the following from Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
(The headings below are Jared’s).
How Zeal for Community Can Kill It—The Need to Kill the Wish Dream
Christmas Gatherings are parties hosted by believers in their neighborhood, with the goal of building relationships, extending hospitality, and sharing the gospel with the people God has placed around us (note: Speakers are available to help you share the gospel at your gathering). Studies have shown that Christmas and Easter are when people are most open to hearing about religious things, so let's use this opportunity to point people to the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us! (John 1:14)
Last week I received a letter from Crossway. My 2011 book, Practicing Affirmation, is published and distributed by Crossway, a significant publisher, though a relatively small publisher as book publishers go. I am one of 350 authors published by Crossway, who publishes 800 titles.
Amazon sells hundreds of thousands of titles by myriad authors. I am small.
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Philippians 2:3