PROOF Is the New TULIP — A New Paradigm for Explaining God’s Irresistible Grace

I don’t know readers’ theological position is on this and I have to admit I struggle with it some, but still I benefit from hearing, reading and pondering this deep area. Listen to the short video from Koinonia.

(Can’t see the video? Watch it here)

9780310513896Every generation is called to reframe the glorious grace of God for their day.

Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones have answered that call with their new book PROOF, a powerful new paradigm for explaining the intoxicating joy of God’s irresistible grace.

Montgomery explains a number of years ago he struggled to communicate the historic doctrines of grace in a way that was helpful for his people. While TULIP had been used for that purpose in the past, he insists “it hasn’t been the most helpful tool in magnifying the glorious gospel of God’s grace.”

This is where PROOF comes in.

Each letter refers to 5 facets of God’s grace, which the video above walks through in detail. Watch it and then engage Montgomery’s and Jones’ book to help you better communicate God’s grace in a way that is helpful for your own people.

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4 Benefits of Stories for Discipleship

from Grace for Sinners

Not everyone values a good story. Sometimes Christians can be the worst of all afraid of being of the world. What we must remember is that everything we do is part of a liturgy we live in. If we are not intentionally discipling ourselves and others creating liturgies around the acts and words of God then we are being discipled by someone or something else. Everything you hear, see, taste, and touch is telling you a story. Reading good stories is crucial to combating these destructive stories. Christians must wisely choose stories that will help them mature as disciples.

1. Stories help us shed the skin of our unbelief.

“We are narrative creatures, and we need narrative nourishment—narrative catechisms.”
— N. D. Wilson

Have you ever found your heart longing for something long before your mind wrapped itself around the truth and beauty you desired? I’ve found myself in this position time and time again as the Spirit matures me. There’s this deep longing in my gut for Jesus—for more of him. But often my understanding of him doesn’t grasp him fully (it never will).

Perhaps you enjoy reading fiction and you’re a fan of Lee Childs’ Jack Reacher novels. I enjoy these books for many reasons, but partly because my gut wants to believe that someone will make the wrong in this world right. That someone out there will make sure those who have acted wickedly and grossly immoral will get their comeuppance. Jack does this in a limited way. He’s limited because he’s a human with his own sinful actions and his thoughts aren’t always pure. But reading these books helps me to shed my unbelief, namely that the wicked I see now will go unpunished. These stories make me hope for a final judgement. For someone perfect, unlike Jack, to come to earth and make all things right once and for all.

2. Stories bring doctrine to life.

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I believe so that I may understand

from TGC blog

I confess, Lord, with thanksgiving,
that You have made me in Your image,
so that I can remember You,
think of You,
and love You.

But that image is so worn and blotted out by faults,
and darkened by the smoke of sin,
that it cannot do that for which it was made,
unless You renew and refashion it.

Lord, I am not trying to make my way to Your height,
for my understanding is in no way equal to that,
but I do desire to understand a little of Your truth
which my heart already believes and loves.

I do not seek to understand so that I can believe,
but I believe so that I may understand;
and what is more,
I believe that unless I do believe,
I shall not understand.

– Anselm of Canterbury

Finding God’s will for our lives

from Wintery Knight

I’m stealing from Amy Hall, who blogged at Stand to Reason.


Chandler Vannoy wrote about “What We Get Wrong about ‘Finding God’s Will,’” and it’s always a good time to be reminded of this:

The phrase we have all heard…is we need to find God’s will for our life. And for the past 21 years, I thought I had to keep praying for God to open my eyes to the will he had laid out for me. That if I just kept searching long enough and hard enough, I would know exactly what I was supposed to do in the future.

But Kevin DeYoung blew up this idea for me while I was reading his book Just Do Something….

In the beginning of the book, DeYoung says, “We should stop thinking of God’s will like a corn maze, or a tight-rope, or a bull’s eye, or a choose-your-own-adventure novel.” This rocked my world. I always thought that if I made a wrong decision or took a wrong turn, I would be removed from God’s plan.

But what he is saying here is that we are free from the burden of trying to discover God’s will ahead of time. It is not a maze for us to perfectly navigate in order to reach our end goal, but instead, God desires for us to trust Him with all of the twists and turns.

Yes, God is sovereign over my life. Yes, He has specific plans for my future, but He does not expect me to find out the details of His plan before I get there. So this whole idea of finding God’s will for my life has been me searching for something God does not want to reveal.

The answer for making good decisions is to learn wisdom from the words God has already given us, and to rest in the knowledge that God has guaranteed that all things work together for the good of making us more like Christ (Romans 8:28-29). Even if a wise decision leads to unforeseen difficulties, that doesn’t mean it was the “wrong” one. In fact, difficulties are the most powerful tool God regularly uses to shape us.

I think this is good advice for everyone.

Continue at

The Gospel and the Shower Curtain Liner

from Out of the Ordinary blog

After my daughter was born, the house was a mess. It didn’t help that I was so tired and bloated prior to her birth. I just wanted to put my feet up and rest after a day’s work rather than attempting to clean while being very great with child. The emergency C-section and the stress of caring for a newborn were the finishing touches to the dust and grime, which were the last things on my sleep-deprived mind.

A friend, who happened to have a house cleaning business, offered to get things spick-and-span. What a gift and what a blessing! But a few days before the date, I noticed the shower curtain liner. In a word, it was gross. Now my friend was an experienced mom who could completely empathize with a new mom’s exhaustion. She had cleaned plenty of houses in all sorts of condition, so I doubt she would have been repulsed. She was also my sister in Christ. But pride and fear of man do funny things. I couldn’t possibly let her see that I had let it get to such a state and think who knows what about my competence as a homemaker, so I did what any self-respecting person would do. I cleaned ahead of the cleaner to save face, and I still do this but in a different context.

What will they think of me if I share this prayer request or admit that I struggle with this sin? What if I  confess that I thought this or said that? What will they think if I start crying or fumble for words when I pray or don’t give the “right” answer to a question? What will they think if they find out that I don’t have it all together? I had better do a little scrubbing to make sure everything looks good before I let anyone see into my life.

But what does the Gospel say?

Read on at

15 Reasons Why We Should Still Be Using Hymnals

I have somewhat confused self opinions about music in church gatherings. I like some of the new music; some I would rather never hear or sing again. I miss many of the old hymns, but so often when “worship” leaders sing them they lead them at a funeral service tempo. At any rate, here is a link to a blog that promotes using hymnals. If interested, check the blog out at


Everything hidden will be revealed

from Blogging Theologically by Aaron Armstrong –  LEAVE A COMMENT

Jesus scares me.

He absolutely terrifies me sometimes. Not because of the power He exhibits in His miracles, although that’s certainly a good reason to fear Him. It’s because of what He says. He tells us we have to be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48). He warns that some who do mighty works in His name will hear, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23). And then He says things like this:

No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away. (Luke 8:16-18)

On the one hand, there is great encouragement to be had here: You cannot hide who you are, it always comes out. If you are in Christ—if you are called “son” or “daughter” by God our Father, if you have been saved by Jesus, if you have been given new life through the Holy Spirit—you can’t keep it hidden. It will always be made manifest; the “light” of your faith will eventually be revealed, even if you try to cover it.

Negatively, the same is true. If your heart is rotten, if there is darkness in your soul, it will be made manifest. It will inevitably come through in your speech, whether in words of anger and hatred, or sweet words of manipulation. No matter how hard you try, no matter what kind of appearance you put forward, what you are will be revealed.

Anyone else a little nervous?

If it doesn’t scare us a little, then I’m not sure we’re really taking verse 18 seriously: “Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”

It’s not difficult to see how this warning is at work in the life of a guy like Mark Driscoll, who built his entire ministry on his persona as an edgy, “angry young prophet.” And many of us, who were either too immature to see it, or too caught up in the excitement of seeing the lost come to Christ through (or perhaps in spite of, depending on your point of view) his efforts, turned a blind eye to concerns that have only grown more serious.

And now it’s all coming to a head. Plagiarism. Manufacturing a bestseller. Questionable financial dealings. More and more stories of people coming out about their experiences at Mars Hill… And now, the unearthing of a thirty-ish year-old Driscoll’s actions as “William Wallace II” online—140 pages filled with some of the most foolish, ungodly, and downright evil things I’ve ever had the misfortune of laying eyes on.

For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.

No one knows for certain what’s going to happen to Driscoll or to Mars Hill Church, nor is it really appropriate for any of us to speculate. But it should make us consider our own actions—and do so with fear and trembling. What have we done that, if revealed, would end our careers, our marriages, our ministries? What have we said—or thought—that would put the worst of the Wallace rants to shame?

None of these are a secret to the Lord.

And if they’re online, they’re probably not a secret to someone else, either.

When we see a man besieged, and potentially undone, by controversies of his own making, we should weep—for him, for the people directly affected by all of this… And also for ourselves, for but by the grace of God go we.


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How to Rest When You Can’t Do Anything Well


Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28).

Tension wrapped its fingers around my shoulders and heart.

Messed up again. I can’t seem to remember anything. I missed Grayson’s shower . . . I nearly missed Glory’s and I still have homework to do, VBS to plan for, talks for a conference in Florida, and a 20 year high school reunion to attend.

My heart raced and my eyes darted back and forth calculating, calculating — There isn’t enough time — Did I tell my parents my family and I are coming in this week? For the reunion?

On the way to pick up a friend for the baby shower I called my mom.

“Did I tell you and dad we are coming this week for the high school reunion?” I cringed as I drove praying maybe I had.

“No . . . ” my mother graciously laughed. “May I don’t remember you telling me, but we are not busy this week. You are welcome to come.”

That is July in a nutshell. CRAZY busy and I MUST make wise use of my time.

But in the midst of the busy Jesus has been whispering to my soul.

“Come to me.”

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We Are Purposeful But Not Programmed

We are purposeful in our choices; we are not programmed by past or present influences in any manner that relieves us of responsibility for the directions we choose. We move through life toward chosen goals that we think are reasonable and justified. Therefore, behavior can better be understood by looking at what it achieves than by studying its background.

~ Dr. Larry Crabb, Understanding Who You Are, Page 10

Serve One Another, Part 2

from Dan Ledwith at Learning to be Full of Grace and Truth

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love (Galatians 5:13, NIV).

Living for God through Christ means serving one another. This service is not to be given out of duty, or grudgingly, or for self-serving purposes, but out of love. Since it is out of love this serving is going to be marked by the presence of some things and by the absence of others.

Let’s start with what it is not.

First, this service is not about gratifying yourself as Paul says in Galatians 5:16. It is not about your pride, or selfish ambition. Serving one another is not about gaining power or authority for yourself. Jesus says in Matthew 20:25-28 (NIV),

You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Second, you don’t serve people by sinning with one another. Paul lists several examples of these kinds of sins: sexual immorality, debauchery, and drunkenness. Charlie Jones used to say one of the proofs that our hearts are bad is that sin is fun. “If you don’t think sin is fun, you don’t know the right sins!” he would say. Engaging in sin with one another—even if they like it—is not serving one another. It is serving yourself.

And third, if you don’t serve people by sinning with them and you certainly don’t serve people by sinning against them. When we are stirring up hatred, discord, having fits of rage, dissentions, factions, and envying each other we are not advancing the kingdom of God or the Gospel, no matter how strongly you may feel about any given issue; you are serving yourself and your agenda and your kingdom.

Serving one another in love requires the absence of those things. So what should be present in our serving of one another? The fruits of the Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22, NIV).

You know you are serving rightly when…

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