Archive for February, 2013

February 28, 2013

843 Acres Lent: Crucifying our Desire for Cheap Grace

by Bethany

Lenten Morning

843 Acres Lent: Crucifying our Desire for Cheap Grace
Readings: Luke 14 (text | audio, 4:09 min)
and Exodus 11:1–12:21 (text | audio, audio, 5:52 min)

The Cost of Discipleship: Luke 14:25–33

Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ … So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Discipleship

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without the requiring of repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate …

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price”, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God … Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: “my yoke is easy and my burden light.”

Lenten Evening

The Daily Examen

1. Opening prayer of invitation: become aware of God’s presence (2 minutes).
2. Review the day with gratitude (3 minutes).
3. Pay attention to your emotions (3 minutes).
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it (5 minutes).
5. Closing prayer: look toward tomorrow (2 minutes).

If you would like The Daily Examen emailed to you on weekday evenings at 9pm EST during Lent, sign up: here.

Lenten Community

As we approach Easter, let us consider how we look upon the cross – with a view in mind of cheap grace or costly grace? How can we increasingly crucify the sin within us that longs for cheap grace and cultivate the courage to pursue costly grace? Share your insights with us by commenting on our Facebook page (here) or tagging us on Twitter (@theparkforum or #theparkforumlent) or commenting on our blog.

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Bible Listening Logo

Please join us on Tuesday, March 5 for a special event this Lenten season! Space is limited so register soon: here.

___________________________________

FAQs

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February 27, 2013

843 Acres Lent: Cultivating a Life of Repentance

by Bethany

Lenten Morning

843 Acres Lent: Cultivating a Life of Repentance
Readings: Luke 13 (text | audio, 4:36 min)
and Exodus 10 (text | audio, 5:19 min)

Repent or Perish: Luke 13:2–5

“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

George Whitefield: A Penitent Heart, the Best New Year’s Gift (a sermon excerpt)

The parts [of repentance] are sorrow, hatred and an entire forsaking of sin.

Our sorrow and grief for sin must not spring merely from a fear of wrath; for if we have no other ground but that, it proceeds from self-love, and not from any love to God; and if love to God is not the chief motive of your repentance, your repentance is in vain, and not to be esteemed true.

Many in our days think their crying, God forgive me! Or Lord have mercy upon me! Or I am sorry for it!, is repentance, and that God will esteem it as such; but, indeed, they are mistaken; it is not the drawing near to God with our lips, while our hearts are far from him, which he regards. Repentance does not come by fits and starts; no, it is one continued act of our lives; for as we daily commit sin, so we need a daily repentance before God, to obtain forgiveness for those sins we commit.

It is not your confessing yourselves to be sinners, it is not knowing your condition to be sad and deplorable, so long as you continue in your sins; your care and endeavors should be, to get the heart thoroughly affected therewith, that you may feel yourselves to be lost and undone creatures, for Christ came to save such as are lost; and if you are enabled to groan under the weight and burden of your sins, then Christ will ease you and give you rest.

And till you are thus sensible of your misery and lost condition, you are a servant to sin … But I hope better things of you, my brethren, though I thus speak, and things which accompany salvation; go to God in prayer, and be earnest with him, that by his Spirit he would convince you of your miserable condition by nature, and make you truly sensible thereof. O be humbled, be humbled, I beseech you, for your sins. Having spent so many years in sinning, what canst thou do less, than be concerned to spend some hours in mourning and sorrowing for the same, and be humbled before God.

Lenten Evening

The Daily Examen

1. Opening prayer of invitation: become aware of God’s presence (2 minutes).
2. Review the day with gratitude (3 minutes).
3. Pay attention to your emotions (3 minutes).
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it (5 minutes).
5. Closing prayer: look toward tomorrow (2 minutes).

If you would like The Daily Examen emailed to you on weekday evenings at 9pm EST during Lent, sign up: here.

Lenten Community

Lent is a season of repentance and a turning of our faces to the Lord. Have we considered our motivation for repentance – whether it proceeds from love of self or love of God? How can we cultivate a life of repentance that daily seeks the forgiveness of God and, thus, daily receives his grace? Share your insights with us by commenting on our Facebook page (here) or tagging us on Twitter (@theparkforum or #theparkforumlent) or commenting on our blog.

___________________________________

Bible Listening Logo

Please join us on Tuesday, March 5 for a special event this Lenten season! Space is limited so register soon: here.

___________________________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
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What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

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February 26, 2013

843 Acres Lent: Deciding What to Do with Abundance

by Bethany

Lenten Morning

843 Acres Lent: Deciding What to Do with Abundance
Readings: Luke 12 (text | audio, 7:38 min)
and Exodus 9 (text | audio, 5:39 min)

The Parable of the Rich Fool: Luke 12:20

But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?”

John Wesley: On Worldly Folly (a sermon excerpt)

Our Lord had been giving a solemn caution to one who spoke to him about dividing his inheritance. “Beware of covetousness; for the life a man,” that is, the happiness of it, “does not consist in the abundance of the things that he possesses.” To prove and illustrate this weighty truth, our Lord relates this remarkable story … “And he said within himself, What should I do?” … What should you do? … Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Be a father to the fatherless, and a husband to the widow. Freely you have received; freely give …

[And he said] – without asking God’s leave or thinking about Him any more than if there were no God in heaven or on earth – “I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my goods and all my fruits.” My fruits! They are as much yours as the clouds that fly over your head! … “And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have much goods laid up for many years!” … Believe him not; he was a liar from the beginning. He could not prolong his life, if he would. (God alone is the giver of life and death.) …

Does it not concern every one that hears – “The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully.” – to inquire, “Was this ever the case with me? Have I now, or have I ever before had, more worldly goods given than I wanted? And what were my thoughts upon the occasion? Did I say in my heart, What should I do? Was I distressed by my abundance?”… Say not, then, I will pull down my barns; but say to God, in the secret of your heart, “Lord, save, or I perish! See, my riches increase; let me not set my heart upon them! …

Let the language of your heart be, “Having more means, I will do more good, by the grace of God, than ever I did before. All the additional goods which it has pleased God to put into my hands, I am resolved to lay out, with all diligence, in additional works of mercy. And hereby I will lay up for myself a sure foundation, that I may attain eternal life.”

Lenten Evening

The Daily Examen

1. Opening prayer of invitation: become aware of God’s presence (2 minutes).
2. Review the day with gratitude (3 minutes).
3. Pay attention to your emotions (3 minutes).
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it (5 minutes).
5. Closing prayer: look toward tomorrow (2 minutes).

If you would like The Daily Examen emailed to you on weekday evenings at 9pm EST during Lent, sign up: here.

Lenten Community

Lent is a season to remember our poverty before the Lord and his generosity to us in Christ. Yet what is our response to our poverty and his generosity? John Wesley resolved to live on twenty-eight pounds a year – regardless of his income – so that he could increasingly give more away [1]. When we are generous with our earthly goods, what do we proclaim about the character of God and our trust in his promises? Share your insights with us by commenting on our Facebook page (here) or tagging us on Twitter (@theparkforum or #theparkforumlent) or commenting on our blog.

___________________________________

Bible Listening Logo

Please join us on Tuesday, March 5 for a special event this Lenten season! Space is limited so register soon: here.

___________________________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

____________________________________

Footnotes

[1] John Telford. The Life of John Wesley. Wesley Center Online.

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February 25, 2013

843 Acres Lent: Living by the Spirit, not the Law

by Bethany

Lenten Morning

843 Acres Lent: Living by the Spirit, not the Law
Readings: Luke 11 (text | audio, 7:01 min)
and Exodus 8 (text | audio, 5:49 min)

The Law: Luke 11:37-41

While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at the table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within and, behold, everything is clean for you.”

Thomas Merton: No Man Is an Island (an excerpt)

The justice of the scribes, who perfectly understood the letter of the law, was not sufficient to gain anyone admittance to the Kingdom of Heaven. It was necessary for the law to be fulfilled in spirit and in truth. It was necessary that men should be perfect in the law, not by the exterior observance of precepts but by the interior transformation of their whole beings into sons of God. Then they would be children of their Father in Heaven, perfect as He is perfect [1]. They would no longer keep the law with a formalistic perfection that defeated the whole purpose of the law, but they would realize that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. They would cease to make void the law of God for the human traditions of ritualists and lawyers who could not understand Jesus when He taught that man must be born of the Holy Ghost …

The new law is not merely an exterior code of conduct but an interior life, the life of Jesus Himself, living by His spirit in those who remain united to Him by charity. The new law is expressed not only in the demands made upon us by divine and ecclesiastical precepts but above all by the exigencies of the Holy Spirit Himself, alive and active in the depths of our souls, constantly urging us to yield our wills to the gravitational pull of charity, drawing us, through self-sacrifice, to the fulfillment of God’s will in our own lives.

St. Paul knew that his own inspired writings were as nothing compared to the “writing” of Christ in the hearts of those who heard him. “You are the epistle of Christ,” he told the Corinthians, “ministered by us and written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God” [2].

Lenten Evening

The Daily Examen

1. Opening prayer of invitation: become aware of God’s presence (2 minutes).
2. Review the day with gratitude (3 minutes).
3. Pay attention to your emotions (3 minutes).
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it (5 minutes).
5. Closing prayer: look toward tomorrow (2 minutes).

If you would like The Daily Examen emailed to you on weekday evenings at 9pm EST during Lent, sign up: here.

Lenten Community

For many of us, Lent is a season of fasting and abstention. Yet the good news of the gospel is that our salvation is not found in our fasting (or our obeying the law), but in our trusting Christ alone. How, therefore, can we make sure that our Lenten fast is according to the Spirit, not the law? Share your insights with us by commenting on our Facebook page (here) or tagging us on Twitter (@theparkforum or #theparkforumlent) or commenting on our blog.

___________________________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

____________________________________

Footnotes

[1] Matthew 5:45, 48  |  [2] 2 Corinthians 3:3

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February 22, 2013

843 Acres Lent: Trusting God in Frowning Circumstances

by Bethany

Lenten Morning

843 Acres Lent: Trusting God in Frowning Circumstances
Readings: Luke 8 (text | audio, 7:26 min)
and Exodus 5 (text | audio, 3:24)

Moses Questions God’s Plans: Exodus 5:22 – 6:8

Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.”

But the Lord said to Moses, “How you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land … Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.”

William Cowper: God Moves in a Mysterious Way (with music by Jeremy Riddle)

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

Lenten Evening

The Daily Examen

1. Opening prayer of invitation: become aware of God’s presence (2 minutes).
2. Review the day with gratitude (3 minutes).
3. Pay attention to your emotions (3 minutes).
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it (5 minutes).
5. Closing prayer: look toward tomorrow (2 minutes).

If you would like The Daily Examen emailed to you on weekday evenings at 9pm EST during Lent, sign up: here.

Lenten Community

As we approach Easter, can you imagine the disciples’ perspective on the Saturday after Good Friday. Surely, they – like Moses – wondered about the mysterious plans of the Lord because they did not understand what He had planned – that is, Easter Sunday, when God declared, “I am the LORD”, in a new way. Today, how can we look upon the risen Christ in our seemingly frowning circumstances, knowing that God has declared decisively by His Son, “I am the LORD”? Share your insights with us by commenting on our Facebook page or tagging us on Twitter (@theparkforum or #theparkforumlent) or commenting on our blog.

___________________________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

____________________________________

M’Cheyne Weekend Texts (our reading plan)
Sat, Feb 23: Ex 6 (text | audio, 4:09 min) & Luke 9 (text | audio, 7:43 min)
Sun, Feb 24: Ex 7 (text | audio, 4:00 min) & Luke 10 (text | audio, 5:14 min)

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