Thursday, October 24, 2013

Reformation Sunday

On the Liturgical Church Calendar, this Sunday is Reformation Sunday. It is the Sunday commemorating the beginning of what is affectionately known as the Protestant Reformation. The official unofficial start date is October 31, 1517. This is the day that Martin Luther nailed the "95 Theses" to the door of Wittenberg Cathedral. These "theses" were points of discussion that Luther wanted to have with the Roman Catholic church at the time. He had been studying his Bible (imagine that) and found much of the teaching that was being espoused by the Roman Catholic church did not line up with what was actually in scripture. So, he wanted to have a conversation about those items. Well, it wasn't much of a conversation. The Church branded Martin Luther a heretic. They wanted him to recant what he came to believe by studying the bible (again, imagine that) and "come back" to the Roman Catholic church. His now famous reply was, "I cannot choose but adhere to the word of God, which has possession of my conscience; nor can I possibly, nor will I even make any recantation, since it is neither safe nor honest to act contrary to conscience! Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God! Amen.” 

And, so was born a return to the Bible, the Protestant Reformation. Out of that movement in Christian history, several streams of the river of Christianity have flowed. Of which, we baptists are one. The Protestant Reformation is our spiritual heritage. And, while we may not agree with every itty bitty detail or teaching that came from this movement, we cannot deny that it is our heritage. 

As historians have studied this movement in Christian history, 5 pillars have been identified as foundational truths for the continued success of the Protestant Reformation. Over the next five weeks, we will study each one of them as they are demonstrated and taught in the Bible. These five pillars are: sola scriptura, sola gratia, sola fide, sola Christus, and sola deo gloria. In English, they are scripture alone, grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone, and Glory to God alone. 

May the fires of revival and renewal and reformation be stoked in our souls over these five weeks.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Finding God's Perspective in Difficult Situations

Do you think Job was confused at the circumstances in which he found himself? Have you ever felt confused about your circumstances? I'm sure we all have been there. Our study group on Monday nights is going through the study Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. In one of the lessons this past week, we are learning about seeing our circumstances from "God's perspective", seeking to gain his viewpoint on what is happening to us. In that lesson, Blackaby proposed some helpful principles that can aid in gaining God's perspective on our situation, especially if we might be confused. Here they are:
  1. Settle in your mind that God has forever demonstrated His unfailing love for you on the cross. That love will never change.
  2. Do not try to understand what God is like from the middle of your circumstances.
  3. Go to God and ask Him to help you see His perspective on your situation.
  4. Wait on the Holy Spirit. He may take God's Word and help you understand your circumstances.
  5. Adjust your life to God and to what you see Him doing in your circumstances.
  6. Do all he tells you to do.
  7. Experience God working in and through you to accomplish His purposes.
Maybe these principles will be helpful when you are in a confusing situation.