Posts tagged ‘Lamentations’

August 28, 2014

843 Acres: Reader’s Choice: Prone to Wander, Lord, We Feel It

by Bethany

Reader’s Choice: Jen Pollock Michel: I appreciate this post for its clear presentation of the gospel: we are reckless sinners who need grace at every turn. Only the steadfast and patient love of God, expressed in Jesus, insures our hope of hearing and faithfully obeying the voice of God.

843 Acres: Reader’s Choice: Prone to Wander, Lord, We Feel It
Originally published on April 28, 2014
Highlighted: Heb 3:12-14

Exodus: When God rescued the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and led them through the Red Sea, they were full of celebration. With one voice, they sang, “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously … The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” [1] Three days later, however, they complained about the way He gave them food and water. They said that they would rather be slaves again than depend on Him. Then, a few weeks later, they worshipped handmade idols, saying, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” [2] How did they fall away from the Lord so quickly?

Caution: Looking back on these events, the Psalmist warned, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts … when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. For forty years I loathed that generation and said, ‘They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.” [3]Hundreds of years later, the writer of Hebrews quoted the Psalmist and expanded the message: “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called, ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence to the end.” [4]

Gospel: The Hebrews were slaves to Egypt; we are slaves to sin. They were released by the plague of the firstborn son; we are released by the death of the firstborn son of God. On the cross, the work of God is on display far greater than during the Exodus. How much more, then, must we cling to belief!

Prayer: Lord, We confess that, like the Hebrews, we can turn quickly from celebration to sin. Yet we do not have the strength to endure in faith. Therefore, we beg you to increase our faith. As we look to the cross, help us to remember your work and to exhort one another daily so that we will not be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we admit that we are prone to wander. Amen.


About Jen: Jen lives in Toronto with her family. She’s the author of Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith. She also regularly contributes to Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog and Today in the Word, a devotional publication of Moody Bible Institute. You can follow her on Twitter: @jenpmichel.

M’Cheyne Reading as Scheduled

Lam 5 (txt | aud, 2:01 min)
Ps 36 (txt | aud, 1:23 min)



[1] Exodus 15:1, 2 ESV | [2] Exodus 32:4 ESV | [3] Psalm 95:7-11 ESV | [4] Hebrews 3:12-14 ESV

August 27, 2014

843 Acres: Reader’s Choice: Unconditional Love vs. Contraconditional Love

by Bethany

Reader’s Choice: Brett Gaudin: I like this because it reminds me that what we refer to as God’s “unconditional love” is not without conditions. Those conditions are the law and it demanded of Christ his very life. And yet it was to his joy to give us his inheritance and take us as his. “What a love, what a cost, we stand forgiven at the cross” … perfectly ruled and perfectly free.

843 Acres: Reader’s Choice: Unconditional Love vs. Contraconditional Love
Originally published on September 18, 2013.
Highlighted: 2 Cor 7:9-10

LoveIn 1961, psychologist Carl Rogers popularized the term, “unconditional positive regard,” suggesting that we mustlove our children for who they are, not for what they do [1]. In 2004, TV personality Phil McGraw argued that what children want or need should be offered contingently until they “behave according to your wishes” [2]. Supernanny agreed: “The best rewards are attention, praise and love,” and these should be held back “when the child behaves badly until she says she is sorry” [3].

Grief: In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul called out their conflicts, divisions and immorality. He did not write these things to make them feel “ashamed,” but to “admonish” them as “beloved children” [4]. When he heard that his letter grieved them, he wrote again, saying, “I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death” [5]. Paul did not have an “unconditional positive regard” for the Corinthians nor did he withhold his love from them until they behaved according to his wishes; his love was neither permissive nor manipulative.

Contraconditional: God’s love is something more than unconditional. As David Powlison has written, “God does not accept me just as I am; He loves me despite how I am; He loves me just as Jesus is; He loves me enough to devote my life to renewing me in the image of Jesus. This love is much, much, much better than unconditional! Perhaps we could call it ‘contraconditional’ love … Contrary to my due, He loves me. And now I can begin to change, not to earn love but because of love … You need something better than unconditional love. You need the crown of thorns … You need the promise to the repentant thief. You need to know, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’ You need forgiveness. You need … a Father, a Savior. You need to become like the one who loves you. You need the better love of Jesus” [6].

Prayer: Lord, What wondrous love is this! Your love for us is neither permissive nor manipulative. How desperately we need your love so that we can live as Paul, loving others as you do. Give us the crown of thorns and the better love of Jesus. Amen.


About Brett: Brett is from Indiana and has lived in NYC going-on nine years. Brett works for Tegu, a socially-minded toy company, and is part of Redeemer’s Center for Faith & Work Gotham Fellowship Class of 2013.


M’Cheyne Reading as Scheduled:

Lam 4 (txt | aud, 3:32 min)
Ps 35 (txt | aud, 3:22 min)



[1] Carl Rogers. On Becoming a Person. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961. | [2] Carl Rogers. On Becoming a Person. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961. | [3] Carl Rogers. On Becoming a Person. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961. | [4] 1 Corinthians 4:14 ESV | [5] 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 ESV | [6] David Powlison. God’s Love: Better than Unconditional. 2001.

August 26, 2014

843 Acres: Founder’s Choice: Bearing with the Weakness of Others

by Bethany

Founder’s Choice: Bethany Jenkins: The “stumbling block” passage, when properly applied, is one of the most beautiful truths in all of Scripture. To me, it’s one of the ways that we can live totally opposite from the wisdom of this age: Who in their right mind voluntarily puts down their rights for others? Here, Paul doesn’t tell “the strong” that they are wrong; in fact, he says, they’re right. Yet he calls them to lay down their rightness out of love and service to others who are “weak” and, he acknowledges, wrong. I rarely see such humility in my own heart. I like to be right, to win arguments, to live according to the rights that I have. I don’t want to lay down my rights to those who are wrong; instead, I want to show them how wrong they are. Yet when I see Jesus, who laid down his divine rights out of love and service to me (his wrong-headed and stubborn enemy), I weep as I embrace his kindness. This, in turn, enables me to lay down my rights—not because I’m wrong, but because I’m called to love and serve others as he has loved and served me.

843 Acres: Founder’s Choice: Bearing with the Weakness of Others
Originally published as a Tuesday Tweetable on September 3, 2013.
Highlighted: 1 Cor 8

Discerning Brokenness

We exclude people in three ways: (1) expulsion: get away from me, (2) subjugation: submit to me, (3) assimilation: conform to me.

Traditional intolerance says, “We have rules and, if you do not adhere to our truth, then you are out.” #expulsion

Modern (in)tolerance says, “We can live together as long as no one claims to have the truth. This is the only absolute truth.” #assimilation

Imagining Redemption 

Modernity says, To accept someone, you accept their beliefs. Christianity says, Accept one another, even if you don’t accept their beliefs.

How do we treat people who we think are wrong? We were saved by someone who entered into our humanity when we were wrong. #love #innerpoise

Eating food sacrificed to idols was not sinful unless it was in the presence of a believer with a weak conscience.

Praying ACTS

Lord, On the cross, we see your intolerance for sin and your vulnerability for us. What a condescending, loving God we serve! #adoration

Lord, We confess that we are often impatient with others. Instead of being driven by other-love, we are driven by self-love. #confession

Lord, Thank you for bearing with our weak consciences, for being intolerant of our sin and for adjusting your life for us. #thanksgiving

Lord, Help us relate to others as you relate to us – on the basis of your grace, not our goodness, rightness or kindness. #supplication


About Bethany: Bethany is the founder of The Park Forum and the director of Every Square Inch, the faith and work initiative of The Gospel Coalition. She attends Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, where she was a Gotham Fellow in 2012-2013. She studied at Baylor University and Columbia Law School.


M’Cheyne Reading as Scheduled:

Lam 3 (txt | aud, 5:05 min)
Ps 34 (txt | aud, 2:02 min)



[For further meditation on this topic, I highly recommend: Tim Keller. “Receptive Grace.” Sermon. February 10, 2002. Redeemer Sermon Store: here.]

August 25, 2014

843 Acres: Reader’s Choice: How Generous Should We Be?

by Bethany

Reader’s Choice: Evan Shaver:  CS Lewis’ comments from “Mere Christianity” challenge me to never think about giving in numerical terms. As he eloquently states, “the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.” It’s a difficult rule to follow because it’s not a straightforward percentage of income. It’s a state of mind and heart. If we’re not constantly challenging our mind and heart to be uncomfortable, then we’re not sacrificing enough and trusting God with our lifestyle. I’ve found that as I apply these principles, I can consistently increase my level of giving because I learn to adapt to live within those tighter fiscal constraints.     

843 Acres: Reader’s Choice: How Generous Should We Be?
Originally published #TBT September 19, 2013

Paul. 2 Corinthians 8:2-5.

… their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.

C.S. Lewis. Mere Christianity. (an excerpt)

In the passage where the New Testament says that everyone must work, it gives us a reason: “in order that he may have something to give to those in need.” Charity—giving to the poor—is an essential part of Christian morality: in the frightening parable of the sheep and the goats, it seems to be the point on which everything turns. Some people nowadays say that charity ought to be unnecessary and that instead of giving to the poor, we ought to be producing a society in which there were no poor to give to. They may be quite right in saying that we ought to produce this kind of society. But if anyone thinks that, as a consequence, you can stop giving in the meantime, then he has parted company with all Christian morality.

I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditures on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charities expenditure excludes them. I am speaking now of “charities” in the common way. Particular cases of distress among your own relatives, neighbors or employees, which God, as it were, forces upon your notice, may demand much more: even to the crippling and endangering of your own position. For many of us, the great obstacle to charity lies not in our luxurious living or desire for more money, but in our fear—fear of insecurity. This must often be recognized as temptation. Sometimes our pride also hinders our charity; we are tempted to spend more than we ought on the showy forms of generosity (tipping, hospitality) and less than we ought on those who really need our help.


About Evan: Evan is a former McKinsey consultant and currently works at PepsiCo in Dallas, where he lives with his wife and two young daughters. He is a member of Irving Bible Church and has been following The Park Forum since his consulting days.


M’Cheyne Reading as Scheduled:

Lam 2 (text | audio, 5:03 min)
Ps 33 (text | audio, 2:12 min )


August 22, 2014

843 Acres: Reader’s Choice: What’s the Purpose of Giving Something Up?

by Bethany

Reader’s Choice: Anon: This was one I enjoyed over the Lenten season. It helped articulate that living the Christian life is not a long list of things you now can’t do, but orienting your life around saying Yes, Yes to Christ, in whom is ultimate freedom. Made it easier to give up sugar!

843 Acres: What’s the Purpose of Giving Something Up?
Originally published during Lent, March 5, 2014
Highlighted: 2 Cor 4:7-12

Lent: Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of the 40-day liturgical period of prayer and fasting or abstinence that we call Lent. During this season, many of us will give up certain things—social media, chocolate, alcohol—but how many of us understand that Lent isn’t fundamentally about abstention at all?

Abstention: On Saturday, at S1NGLE hosted by Redeemer, Wesley Hill talked about abstention in the form of chastity. He said that his understanding of chastity as a single Christian flipped from negative to positive when he began to discern the fundamental purpose of abstention in the Christian life. “When God gives someone a calling,” he said, “it’s never primarily about orienting your life around saying, ‘No,’ to something. A calling is not about constructing a practice of abstention from something. A calling or a vocation … is fundamentally about saying, ‘Yes,’ to something and whatever you abstain from in the course of pursuing that is important, but it’s not the most important. It’s not the thing you build your passion around or order your affections around.”

Purpose: What then do we build our passions and affections around? To what do we say, “Yes”? Paul writes, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed … so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.”[1] In other words, Paul embraces abstention from political freedom in the form of imprisonment and persecution and abstention from an unmarked and healthy body in the form of sufferings and beatings. Why? So that the Corinthians might fully enter into the risen life of Christ. He abstained so that they might know Christ.

Prayer: Lord, In this season of abstention, may we look deeper than at the abstention itself. Show us how to say, “Yes,” to knowing you and to loving others so that we may discern that to which you are calling us to say, “No.” And may we orient this Lenten season around our Yes, not our No. Indeed, may we use Lent as a time of seeking your face so that we may hear your voice about turning our entire lives toward you. Amen.


About Anon: Anon works in the healthcare industry in New York City. 


M’Cheyne Weekend Reading as Scheduled:

Friday, August 22: Jer 51 (txt | aud, 11:31 min) & Ps 30 (txt | aud, 1:29 min)
Saturday, August 23: Jer 52 (txt | aud, 6:23 min) & Ps 31 (txt | aud, 3:16 min)
Sunday, August 24: Lam 1 (txt | aud, 4:42 min) & Ps 32 (txt | aud, 1:29 min)



[1] 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 ESV


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