Tag Archives: Grace

Wrestling with God

Well,

I just got back from a motorcycle trip where everything did not go as planned.  On the way to Dubuque, Ia my motorcycle broke down mid afternoon and did not have enough power to go up hills any longer. I did not know exactly where I was and was wondering …..”What the heck do I do next”.  Well, eventually a guy stopped by so I was able to ask where the nearest mechanic was.  The nearest mechanic was a guy that was a good mechanic was not really a motorcycle specialist , let alone a Polaris Victory specialist.  Well, we got on the phone with a guy from the Victory dealership and our best guess was that I purchased bad gas.  They said they saw this all the time. So we drained the gas and put in new gas. Cost for the mechanic plus new gas was only $70.

So I took off and it seemed to be at least moving.  I went to the next town and then I was getting no power on hills again… Drat!  What do I do now.  Well, back on the phone to the Vic dealership  and they eventually sent a tow truck, I spent the night in a hotel and they diagnosed a hard clutch.. or a clutch cable that was too tight!  The next day after adjusting the clutch cable,  I test drove the bike  but after 10 miles I was getting the same thing. I limped back to the Vic dealership and this time we had to replace the entire clutch!!!!  They had to overnight  a clutch but then I got the real bad news!  A 2nd night in a Hotel in a small town without much to do.. but the really  bad new was even though the bike was in warranty … because the clutch cable was too tight …. it was labelled as “neglect” and it would not be covered under warranty. Well, I bought the bike directly from a Polaris rep and eitehr he or his technician was the last to adjust my cable.   . My total bill for the new clutch was $1200 with the tow truck now! GRRR!

So instead of 3 days  riding I spent 2 nights stuck in a Hotel in Waukon, Ia.  I basically lost 3 days of vacation and never got to my destination of Anamosa, Ia to see the motorcycle museum. GRRRRRR!

Well, that’s the specifics of what happened but what was occurring behind the scenes of this broken down few days of lost vacation and personal isolation in Waukon, Ia.

Well I started out the trip and was meditating on Psalm 131 and the idea of resting under the umbrella of Gods providence!  However, even at the beginning of the trip I was actually wrestling with God… A LOT!  You see, recently we had some unfortunate leadership changes in my men’s group and I have been struggling with this for the last few weeks as the other leader in this group.   It has clearly impacted me.  As I was sitting on the side of a road for several hours this week, I had several opportunities to get upset at the mechanic.  I was working hard at managing my emotions.   Rather, than resting under the umbrella of Gods providence, I was wrestling with God.  How do I manage my emotions?  Do I snap out in anger at someone?  Do I do something even worse?  I was wrestling with God in a deeply spiritual way.

In the past these kinds of situations would have sent me off the deep end.  After all. I lost a ride I was really looking forward too and I lost 3 days vacation and I was stuck on a little dink town without much to do. In the past,  I would have found some negative behavior to engage in. Well temptation hit me several times as I wrestled with God over what to do!  All I can say is my trip that started out attempting to rest under the umbrella of Gods providence ended up in me and God wrestling for most of the time.

I opened my Bible and read the story of where Jacob wrestled with God!  At the end of a night of wrestling with God Jacob said “I won’t let you go till you bless me!”  What I can say is this that wrestling with God is not a bad thing … because it means you have not given into your fleshly desires.  And following this wrestling is a time of blessing.    Why do I say wrestling with God is a good thing?  Because the the option to not wrestling with God would have been giving into my anger and personal desires.  If you wrestle with God .. God will always win… and by default you will be blessed more than if you do NOT give in to your desires.

So my encouragement to those that have given in to your anger or desires is …. feel free to wrestle with God over your desires. FIGHT! Don’t give in!  FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!  Gods grace and mercy are more than sufficient for you as you work toward  the goal of “living under the umbrella” of God’s providence! In the end God will sovereignl work in the lives that love him and dont give in to their desires.

Now, as I attempt to write an e-mail to the guy I purchased the bike and contact Polaris over my dissatisfaction over my lack of warranty with a bike that should be in warranty….. I am sure I will continue this “wrestling match”… but I know God will always bless me as I stay in the fight!

So FIGHT! Dont give in to your desires. God will bless those that struggle against their flesh and “wrestle with Him”  as they work toward doing the right thing. My goal is to still rest under Gods providence…. but that proved to be very hard this week. So feel free to wrestle with God till you can find that resting spot! In the end God will always win!

The Failure of Moralistic Preaching–Calvinism–Moral Inability

John Newton(poet and Author of the hymn amazing grace) wrote the following. It can be found at: http://www.reformedreader.org/rbb/newton/letter24.htm. I have some important things that speak to me underlined.

The Failure of Moralistic Preaching–Calvinism–Moral Inability
by John Newton

October 21, 1775

My Dear Friend,

The calls and engagements which I told you engrossed and anticipated my time when I wrote last, have continued without any intermission hitherto, and I am still far behind-hand with my business. I am willing to hope, that the case has been much the same with you, and that want of leisure has been the only cause of my not having been pleasured with so much as a note from you since my return from London.

I am loath, for my own sake, to charge your silence to an unwillingness of continuing that intercourse which I have been, and still find myself, desirous to improve on my part. For though we are not agreed in our views, yet while our preliminary agreement, to allow mutual freedom, and to exercise mutual candour, in expressing our sentiments, subsists, we may, and I hope shall, be glad to hear from each other. It may seem to intimate I have a better opinion of myself than of you, that while I seem confident your freedom will not offend me, I feel now and then a fear, lest mine should prove displeasing to you. But friendship is a little suspicious when exercised with long silence, and a plain declaration of my sentiments has more than once put Continue reading

The power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Paul is showing us in the entire book of  Galatians  that bringing the gospel truth to bear on every area of life is the way to be changed by the power of God. The gospel is described in the Bible in the most astounding terms. Angels long to look into it all the time. (I Peter 1:12). It does not simply bring us power, but it is the power of God itself, for Paul says “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation” (Rom.1:16). It is also the blessing of God with benefits, which accrue to anyone who comes near (I Cor.9:23). It is even called the very light of the glory of God itself–“they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ…for God…has made his light shine into our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (II Cor.4:4,6)
It has the life of God. Paul said to the Corinthians, “I gave you birth through the
gospel”! And then, after it has regenerated us, it is the instrument of all continual growth and spiritual progress after we are converted. “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.” (Col. 1:6). Here we learn: 1) That the gospel is a living thing (cf. Romans 1:16) which is like a seed or a tree that brings more and more new life–bearing fruit and growing. 2) That the gospel is only “planted” in us so as to bear fruit as we understand its greatness and implications deeply–understood God’s grace in all its truth. 3) That the gospel continues to grow in us and renew us throughout our lives–as it has been doing since the day you heard it. This text helps us avoid either an exclusively rationalistic or mystical approach to renewal. On the one hand, the gospel has a content–it is profound doctrine. It is truth, and specifically, it is the truth about God’s grace. But on the other hand, this truth is a living power that continually expands its influence in our lives, just as a crop or a tree would grow and spread and dominate more and more of an area with roots and fruit.

Living the Gospel: Implication #2: The Sufficiency of the Gospel

This is a part of a continuing series on Living the Gospel.

Implication #2- The sufficiency of the gospel. Second, Paul is showing that we never “get beyond the gospel in our Christian life to something more advanced” The gospel is not the first “step” in a “stairway” of truths, rather, it is more like the “hub” in a “wheel” of truth. The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s but the A to Z of Christianity. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make all progress in the kingdom.

We are not justified by the gospel and then sanctified by obedience, but the gospel is the way we grow (Gal.3:1- 3) and are renewed (Col.1:6). It is the solution to each problem, the key to each closed door, the power through every barrier (Rom.1:16-17). It is very common in the church to think as follows. “The gospel is for non-Christians. One needs it to be saved. But once saved, you grow through hard work and obedience.” But Col.1:6 shows that this is a mistake. Both confession and “hard work” that is not arising from and “in line” with the gospel will not sanctify you–it will strangle you. All our problems come from a failure to apply the gospel. Thus when Paul left the Ephesians he committed them “to the word of his grace, which can build you up” (Acts 20:32)/.

The main problem, then, in the Christian life is that we have not thought out the deep implications of the gospel, we have not “used” the gospel in and on all parts of our life. Richard Lovelace says that most people’s problems are just a failure to be oriented to the gospel–a failure to grasp and believe it through and through. Luther says, “The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine….Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” (on Gal.2:14f) The gospel is not easily comprehended. Paul says that the gospel only does its renewing work in us as we understand it in all its truth. All of us, to some degree live around the truth of the gospel but do not “get” it. So the key to continual and deeper spiritual renewal and revival is the continual rediscovery of the gospel. A stage of renewal is always the discovery of a new implication or application of the gospel– seeing more of its truth. This is true for either an individual or a church.

This was an excerpt from Tim Kellers Centrality of the Gospel that can be found here

The Gospel is…
We are more sinful and weak than we ever dared to admit and…
We are more loved and accepted than we ever dared to hope.

In Christ,

Jon S

Living the Gospel: Implication #1: The Power of the Gospel

Implication #1 – The power of the gospel. First, Paul is showing us that that bringing the gospel truth to bear on every area of life is the way to be changed by the power of God. The gospel is described in the Bible in the most astounding terms. Angels long to look into it all the time. (I Peter 1:12). It does not simply bring us power, but it is the power of God itself, for Paul says “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation” (Rom.1:16). It is also the blessing of God with benefits, which accrue to anyone who comes near (I Cor.9:23). It is even called the very light of the glory of God itself–“they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ…for God…has made his light shine into our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (II Cor.4:4,6)

It has the life of God. Paul said to the Corinthians, “I gave you birth through the gospel”! And then, after it has regenerated us, it is the instrument of all continual growth and spiritual progress after we are converted. “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.” (Col. 1:6). Here we learn: 1) That the gospel is a living thing (cf. Romans 1:16) which is like a seed or a tree that brings more and more new life–bearing fruit and growing. 2) That the gospel is only “planted” in us so as to bear fruit as we understand its greatness and implications deeply—understood God’s grace in all its truth. 3) That the gospel continues to grow in us and renew us throughout our lives–as it has been doing since the day you heard it. This text helps us avoid either an exclusively rationalistic or mystical approach to renewal. On the one hand, the gospel has a content–it is profound doctrine. It is truth, and specifically, it is the truth about God’s grace. But on the other hand, this truth is a living power that continually expands its influence in our lives, just as a crop or a tree would grow and spread and dominate more and more of an area with roots and fruit.

This is from Tim Kellers Centrality of the Gospel Document that can be found here: