Unlikely Likeables: Peter the Impulsive
JULY 21, 2018
Then Peter took [Jesus] aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”
Recommended Reading: Matthew 26:31-35
In terms of human strengths and weaknesses, many counselors hold the view that weaknesses are simply strengths misused or over-applied. Or, a weakness is an immature expression of a strength. For example, impulsivity, speaking without thinking, and hyper-activity might mellow into enthusiasm, boldness, and proactivity. That might have been the case with the apostle Peter.
Peter is a favorite disciple of many Christians, though he suffered from a continuing case of foot-in-mouth disease from speaking without thinking. For instance, when Jesus told His disciples He would be killed in Jerusalem, Peter immediately rebuked Him: Not going to happen, Lord! Instead of asking for an explanation, Peter assumed he knew better. And when Jesus predicted Peter would deny Him three times, Peter insisted—twice—that he would never deny or disown the Lord. Impulsive? Yes. But then Peter became the epitome of boldness in the early chapters of Acts.
Maturity takes time; the fruit of the Spirit is evidence of God’s conforming us to the image of Christ. Today’s weakness can become tomorrow’s strength.
There are no shortcuts to spiritual maturity. It takes time to be holy.
Erwin W. Lutzer
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Read-Thru-the-Bible: Isaiah 25 – 31
C.S. Lewis: Today's Reading - Screwtape offers more advice on using daily annoyances to entrap a Patient @ biblegateway
Screwtape offers more advice on using daily annoyances to entrap a Patient:
It is, no doubt, impossible to prevent his praying for his mother, but we have means of rendering the prayers innocuous. Make sure that they are always very ‘spiritual’, that he is always concerned with the state of her soul and never with her rheumatism. Two advantages will follow. In the first place, his attention will be kept on what he regards as her sins, by which, with a little guidance from you, he can be induced to mean any of her actions which are inconvenient or irritating to himself. Thus you can keep rubbing the wounds of the day a little sorer even while he is on his knees; the operation is not at all difficult and you will find it very entertaining. In the second place, since his ideas about her soul will be very crude and often erroneous, he will, in some degree, be praying for an imaginary person, and it will be your task to make that imaginary person daily less and less like the real mother—the sharp-tongued old lady at the breakfast table. In time, you may get the cleavage so wide that no thought or feeling from his prayers for the imagined mother will ever flow over into his treatment of the real one. I have had patients of my own so well in hand that they could be turned at a moment’s notice from impassioned prayer for a wife’s or son’s ‘soul’ to beating or insulting the real wife or son without a qualm.
From The Screwtape Letters
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis
The Screwtape Letters. Copyright © 1942, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright restored © 1996 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works. Copyright © 2003 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
Models for Combating Discouragement
By John Piper
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)
Literally the verb is simply fail, not “may fail.” This God-besotted psalmist, Asaph, says, “My flesh and my heart fail!” I am despondent! I am discouraged! But then immediately he fires a broadside against his despondency: “But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
The psalmist does not yield to discouragement. He battles unbelief with counterattack.
In essence, he says, “In myself I feel very weak and helpless and unable to cope. My body is shot, and my heart is almost dead. But whatever the reason for this despondency, I will not yield. I will trust God and not myself. He is my strength and my portion.”
The Bible is replete with instances of saints struggling with sunken spirits. Psalm 19:7 says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.” This is a clear admission that the soul of the saint sometimes needs to be revived. And if it needs to be revived, in a sense it was “dead.” That’s the way it felt.
David says the same thing in Psalm 23:2–3, “He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” The soul of the “man after [God’s] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14) needs to be restored. It was dying of thirst and ready to fall exhausted, but God led the soul to water and gave it life again.
God has put these testimonies in the Bible so that we might use them to fight the unbelief of despondency. And we fight with the blast of faith in God’s promises: “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” We preach that to ourselves. And we thrust it into Satan’s face. And we believe it.
“This is embarrassing,” my friend said to me over the phone.
“That’s okay,” I assured him. “Go ahead. You can tell me.”
He sighed. “Well, we found out our little girl shoplifted a book from the church bookstore. We were really surprised because she’s a good kid. Anyway, I was wondering whether you would help us out with something.”
Frankly, I was relieved the news wasn’t more serious. “Sure,” I said. “What can I do?”
“We’d like you to represent the church so she can come in and apologize,” he replied. “Maybe you could figure out some sort of restitution. We want to use this as a teaching moment.”
I agreed to help, but I have to admit I had an even bigger lesson in mind.
The next day, the parents and their eight-year-old daughter walked hesitantly into my office and sat down. The girl was so small, she was almost swallowed up by the chair. Her eyes were downcast; her mood was somber.
After I exchanged some pleasantries with her parents, I sat down on the edge of my desk so I was facing the girl. As gently as I could, I said to her, “Tell me what happened.”
She hesitated, her lower lip quivering. “Well,” she said as she started to sniffle, “I was in the bookstore after a service and I saw a book that I really wanted, but I didn’t have any money.” Now tears pooled in her eyes and spilled down her cheeks. I handed her a tissue, which she used to dab her eyes before continuing.
“So I put the book under my coat and took it,” she blurted out, almost as if she wanted to expel the words as fast as she could so they wouldn’t linger. “I knew it was wrong. I knew I shouldn’t do it, but I did it. And I’m sorry. I’ll never do it again. Honest.”
She was so contrite that it broke my heart. “I’m glad you’re willing to admit what you did and say you’re sorry,” I told her. “That’s very brave, and it’s the right thing to do.”
She nodded slightly.
“But,” I continued, “what do you think an appropriate punishment would be?”
She shrugged her shoulders. I knew from her parents that she had already thrown out the book to hide the evidence. I paused for a moment, then said, “I understand the book cost five dollars. I think it would be fair if you paid the bookstore five dollars, plus three times that amount, which would make the total twenty dollars. Do you think that would be fair?”
“Yes,” she murmured, though I could see fear — almost panic — in her eyes. Her mind was whirring. Where was she going to come up with twenty dollars? That’s a mountain of money for a little kid. She didn’t have the five dollars to buy the book in the first place, and suddenly her debt had spiraled completely out of sight.
At that moment, I got up and walked behind my desk. Sitting down, I pulled open the top drawer. The little girl’s eyes narrowed. She couldn’t figure out what I was doing. I pulled out my checkbook, picked up a pen, and wrote a check from my personal account for the full amount that she owed. I tore off the check and held it in my hand. Her mouth dropped open.
“I know there’s no way you can pay the penalty that you deserve,” I told her. “So I’m going to pay it for you. Do you know why I’d do that?”
Bewildered, she shook her head.
“Because I love you,” I told her. “Because I care about you. Because you’re important to me. And please remember this: that’s how Jesus feels about you too. Except even more.”
With that, I handed her the check, which she grabbed and clutched to her heart. She simply blossomed with a look of absolute relief and joy and wonder. She was almost giddy with gratitude. The same little girl who had slinked into the office under the weight of shame now left lighthearted and skipping.
I don’t know how God ultimately used that teaching moment in her life. But I do know this: once a person, even at a young age, experiences a taste of the kind of grace offered by Christ, it leaves an indelible mark on the soul. Who could resist being attracted by the forgiveness and unmerited favor extended by Jesus?
This is one of the greatest dimensions of the unexpected adventure. The message we convey isn’t based on condemnation or shame. We’re not offering people a life sentence of hard labor to try to somehow make themselves worthy of heaven. Instead, we have the privilege of telling people how they can find complete forgiveness as a free gift that was purchased when Jesus died as our substitute to pay for all of our wrongdoing — past, present, and future.
“Grace means there’s nothing we can do to make God love us more,” writes Philip Yancey in his classic book What’s So Amazing About Grace? “And grace means there’s nothing we can do to make God love us less. . . . Grace means that God already loves us as much as an infinite God can possibly love.”
Wow! When I try to let that sink in, I’m just as overcome with gratitude as that little girl. At the same time I feel a renewed desire to let others know about this incredible message of redemption and reconciliation. After all, with good news like that, how could we possibly keep it to ourselves?
What I have seen in teaching theology is often a "theologically illiterate" evangelical community lacking a sufficient understanding of differing viewpoints from their own, and sometimes only an elementary understanding of their own viewpoint. May I suggest:
1. Read strong proponents of both your side AND the other side. (protestant and catholic, dispensational and covenantal, baptist and paedobaptist, etc.).
2. Resist the notion that we must "shelter" young believers by protecting them from what other denominations believe. They will eventually find out! Why not honestly and charitably guide them now.
3. Read and know Church History.
4. Relish the opportunity to engage and be enlightened concerning the hard questions, weaknesses/strengths of differing viewpoints.
5. A good starting point is the Counterpoint series by Zondervan.
*** If you misrepresent the other viewpoint you immediately discredit your own and cut off further dialogue.
Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? by Wayne Grudem
Evaluating the Church Growth Movement: 5 Views (Counterpoints: Church Life) by Gary McIntosh
Exploring the Worship Spectrum: Six Views (Counterpoints) by Paul Basden
Five Views on Apologetics by Steven B. Cowan
Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy by J. Merrick
Five Views on Law and Gospel by Walter C. Kaiser Jr.
Five Views on Sanctification by Melvin E. Dieter
Five Views on the Church and Politics (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology) by Amy E. Black
Four Views on Christian Spirituality (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology) by Bruce A. Demarest
Four Views on Christianity and Philosophy (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology) by Paul M. Gould
Four Views on Divine Providence (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology) by Dennis W. Jowers
Four Views on Eternal Security by J. Matthew Pinson
Four Views on Hell: Second Edition (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology) by Preston Sprinkle
Four Views on Moving beyond the Bible to Theology by Gary T. Meadors
Four Views on the Apostle Paul by Michael F. Bird
Four Views on the Book of Revelation by C. Marvin Pate
Four Views on the Church's Mission (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology) by Jason S. Sexton
Four Views on the Historical Adam by Ardel B. Caneday
Four Views on the Role of Works at the Final Judgment by Robert N. Wilkin
Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism by Kevin T. Bauder
How Jewish Is Christianity?: 2 Views on the Messianic Movement (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology) by Louis Goldberg
More than one way? by Alister E. McGrath
Remarriage after Divorce in Today's Church: Three Views by Mark L. Strauss
Show Them No Mercy: 4 Views on God and Canaanite Genocide by C. S. Cowles
Three Views on Creation and Evolution by John J. Davis
Three Views on Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism (Counterpoints) by James J. Stamoolis
Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond by Darrell L. Bock
THREE VIEWS ON THE NEW TESTAMENT USE OF (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology) by GUNDRY STANLEY (9-Dec-2008) Paperback by Stanley Gundry
Three Views on the Rapture by Gleason L. Archer Jr.
Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology) by Preston Sprinkle
Two Views on the Doctrine of the Trinity by Stephen R. Holmes
Two Views on Women in Ministry (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology) by James R. Beck
Understanding Four Views on Baptism by John H. Armstrong
Understanding Four Views on the Lord's Supper by John H. Armstrong
Who Runs the Church?: Four Views on Church Government by Steven B. Cowan
Most contemporary Christians acknowledge the doctrine of hell, but they’d rather not think about how God punishes the wicked. The authors of Four Views on Hell meet this subject head-on with different views on what the Scriptures say. Is hell to be understood literally as a place of eternal smoke and flames? Or are such images simply metaphors for a real but different form of punishment? Is there such a thing as “conditional immortality,” in which God annihilates the souls of the wicked rather than punishing them endlessly? Is there a Purgatory, and if so, how does it fit into the picture? The interactive Counterpoints forum allows the reader to see the four views on hell—literal, metaphorical, conditional, and purgatorial—in interaction with each other. Each view in turn is presented, critiqued, and defended. This evenhanded approach is ideal for comparing and contrasting views in order to form a personal conclusion about one of Christianity’s key doctrines. The Counterpoints series provides a forum for comparison and critique of different views on issues important to Christians. Counterpoints books address two categories: Church Life and Bible and Theology. Complete your library with other books in the Counterpoints series.
Grace for Every Need
By John Piper
Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant.(Psalm 86:16)
Future grace is the constant plea of the praying psalmists. They pray for it again and again to meet every need. They give us a beautiful model of daily dependence on future grace for every exigency.
On the lord’s prayer
If you are interested enough to have read thus far you are probably interested enough to make a shot at saying your prayers: and, whatever else you say, you will probably say the Lord’s Prayer.
Its very first words are Our Father. Do you now see what those words mean? They mean quite frankly, that you are putting yourself in the place of a son of God. To put it bluntly, you are dressing up as Christ. If you like, you are pretending. Because, of course, the moment you realise what the words mean, you realise that you are not a son of God. You are not being like The Son of God, whose will and interests are at one with those of the Father: you are a bundle of self-centred fears, hopes, greeds, jealousies, and self-conceit, all doomed to death. So that, in a way, this dressing up as Christ is a piece of outrageous cheek. But the odd thing is that He has ordered us to do it.
From Mere Christianity
Compiled in Words to Live By
Mere Christianity. Copyright © 1952, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1980, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
Dwight L. Moody - Father of Modern Campaign Evangelism
Dwight L. Moody (1837 - 1899), the most indomitable and influential evangelist of the nineteenth century, turned revivalism into big business. His work became the benchmark for all revivalists who followed him. A pushy shoe salesman turned pushy evangelist, he refused to be limited by his lack of education and low social status, turning private religion into a public campaign. It is said that he once stopped a man on the street and asked, as was his custom, "Are you a Christian?" "It's none of your business," the offended pedestrian replied. "Yes, it is," insisted Moody. "Then you must be Mr. Moody," the man said.
Born in Northfield, Massachusetts, he had a difficult childhood. His alcoholic father died when Moody was four, leaving his mother in debt and alone with nine children. The farm was put into foreclosure, and the older children were sent out to families, where they worked for their room and board. Even little Dwight was soon sent to live with a family, working for them more than attending school and barely learning to read. At seventeen he moved to Boston to work in his uncle's shoe store. Moody's conversion came at the prompting of his Sunday school teacher right there in the store.
Moody was enthusiastic to follow Jesus, and what he lacked in book learning he made up for in street smarts and salesmanship. He moved to Chicago where he excelled in sales and organized evangelistic outreach, shoddy as it was.
This work led to the founding of a Sunday school of some six hundred children and sixty volunteers. It was so noteworthy that on November 25, 1860, President-elect Abraham Lincoln visited and offered remarks to the class. How did Moody attract so many youth in his ministry outreach? As a salesman he used the tricks of the trade: passing out candy and offering free pony rides. Needing a permanent home for the growing class, he started a church in Chicago, the Illinois Street Church, as a home for poor immigrant families. For several years he also headed up the Chicago YMCA.
In 1858, he met fifteen-year-old Emma Revell. Despite the striking difference in their social status, they married four years later. Throughout their marriage she worked beside him and managed the family. He regarded her as a more effective teacher and one-on-one evangelist than he was.
In 1871 Moody teamed up with gospel singer Ira D. Sankey. Two years after the Great Chicago Fire, he and Sankey set out for England. As a self-made American rags-to-religion hick, Moody rose to superstar status. Students flocked to his meetings. Among his converts were the "Cambridge Seven," some of them England's most celebrated cricket players, who now headed overseas as missionaries with the China Inland Mission.
He returned to America in 1875 as an internationally famous revivalist. Every city wanted him to hold a campaign. Reporters jostled each other in getting the lead story; his self-deprecating style and his quotable quips perfectly suited the hungry press, eager to sell penny-papers, and his lack of education and proper etiquette, his poor grammar and pronunciation made him all the more endearing.
Moody's uncle once quipped, "My nephew Dwight is crazy, crazy as a March hare." Another observer offered a different slant: "There was the revivalist Moody, bearded and neckless, with his two hundred and eighty pounds of Adam's flesh, every ounce of which belonged to God." H. L. Mencken, the wit and satirist of the day, was the source for much of the contemporary reflection on Moody. "When he started out, an evangelist had no more dignity and social position among us than a lightening-rod salesman," wrote Mencken. "When he finished, he was friendly with leading merchants, industrialists, and public figures of the day, including Cyrus McCormick and such august characters as John Wanamaker, Morris K. Jesup, and General O. O. Howard."
Moody, however, was more than a charismatic revivalist. The uneducated shoe salesman became an educator, establishing three all founded in part to train more evangelists. When Moody died three days before Christmas in 1899, it was a time of mourning and homage. "Chicago at one time claimed this mighty preacher," a hometown newspaper eulogized. "But when he died the whole world claimed him."