Christian Worship Is a Discipline, Not a Fun Experience

How The Holy Spirit Helps In Our Weakness: A Reflection On John 14:15–17

“You need help.” These words can elicit a strong reaction. They are easier to hear in the form of a question: “Do you need help?” The question at least gives us the opportunity to opt out, for denial. “No, I’m fine. I can take care of myself. I can do it myself.” But in the form of a statement, the words “you need help” give the diagnosis before the excuses ever have time to leave our mouth. These words can sound more like an accusation than a lifeline.

It’s one thing to admit, “I get by with a little help from my friends” (Lennon & McCartney). Most of us can agree to that. We even find ways to dress up such superficial admissions as strengths. In college I took a “Professionalism” class in which students were instructed on the finer points of job interviews. We were told to answer the common question, “What is your greatest weakness?” by saying something that is actually a strength, such as, “Well I work too hard or I’m often too invested in my projects” and so on. While such statements tickle the ears of a workaholic culture, they are hardly reflective of the state in which the Bible tells us we are in. The help that we need, the help that we learn to long for from the addict, the abuser and the powerless, is not a push in the right direction, but for resurrection and restoration.

1. The Holy Spirit gives us the freedom to admit our weakness.

The problem is that we are hindered from looking to the Holy Spirit for resurrection and restoration as long as we continue to fight admitting our own weakness. The very nature of asking for help entails a confession: “I can’t do it. I can’t stop. I can’t change on my own. I need help.” This is indeed the first step, but how can we get there if our inability to admit our weakness is part of the problem?

In John 14:15–17 we are given our answer that Jesus is for us, and that he prays for us. In the preceding verses of 12–14 we see Jesus promising his very own works will be done in and through us and “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (13–14). Jesus is for us and gives us this unconditional favor and access to him and to the Father. When we are given this good news, we are freed from the power to be our own strength, righteousness, and holiness. This is exactly how God intends for it to be. As Marva Dawn states,

Even as Christ accomplished atonement for us by suffering and death, so the Lord accomplishes witness to the world through our weakness. In fact, God has more need of our weakness than of our strength. Just as powers overstep their bounds and become gods, so our power becomes a rival to God… By our union with Christ in the power of the Spirit in our weakness, we display God’s glory.[1]

In learning of God’s strong preference for our weakness, we are finally able to give an honest self-assessment. Knowing that Jesus is for us in our weakness tells us of his loving and saving attitude toward us. It means that arm-twisting games are over. He knows exactly what he is getting into with sinners like us and it doesn’t scare him. We can “let our guard down.” Knowing that he is praying for us tells us of his sovereign advocating care on our behalf (cf. Hebrews 7:25). It means that Jesus is not only present in our weakness but active—actively making “all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

This is true when we cannot see it, and it’s true even in the midst of great suffering and pain. “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” (Psalm 126:5). We have the freedom to be honest about our weakness because the one who can most acutely diagnose our sin and failings is the one who is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). He is the one who said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Red more:

The Cost of Following Christ

A Broadcast with John MacArthur

The gospel is not a message of self-fulfillment, but one of self-denial. Today, John MacArthur challenges us to count the cost of faithfully following after Jesus Christ.

Think You Don’t Need A Church To Know Jesus? Think Again

Tips on Loving God With All Our Heart, Soul, and Mind

Groaning, Waiting, Hoping – How to Live in a Fallen, Fragile World


Jon Bloom:

A late verdant spring is at this moment giving way to a lush early summer in Minnesota, the state where I have sojourned these nearly 55 years. Walking outside on a fair morning, when the brilliant new variegated greens of the trees and grasses are bursting with life, when a gorgeous spectrum of colorful, fragrant blossoms waves in the gentle breeze and seems to silently sing for joy, when the deep blues of our abundant rivers and lakes quiet frenetic thoughts, and everything is awash in the golden light of a blazing star ascending in a sky-field of azure, one can almost wonder if Eden has returned.

Almost. Then a police vehicle speeds by me, followed soon by a blaring ambulance. Then beneath the bridge I see the decaying body of a songbird whose voice so recently added more beauty to our urban avian choir. Then I pass by burned-out, boarded-up buildings that testify to the great pain and anger that just days ago surged through our streets after a man was needlessly killed under the knee of an officer of the peace. Then I read of another priceless life lost to a global pandemic, adding to the terrible death toll of hundreds of thousands and to the millions of living hearts broken. And then I read of the global economic crises driving hundreds of millions to desperate places.

The stories keep coming. Another child subjected to the nightmare of sexual abuse, the impending demise of the Great Barrier Reef, the slaughter of 92 soldiers at the hands of armed religious zealots in central Africa. I don’t wish to read more. Eden has not returned.

Looking at this sun-drenched spring morning world, I delight in its glory and the glory of the One who created it. But woven into this sublime beauty is sorrowful gore. The world labors under a profound and horrible brokenness. I hear its groaning and groan with it to the One who created it. But there is hope in this groaning, for the world’s Creator is also its Redeemer, and he has promised that something greater than Eden is coming.


Why is this world so profoundly and horribly broken? And why do we intuitively and deeply feel it should not be this way? The fact that mankind can’t help but ask both questions is revealing.


Live like you believe in God


Perhaps one of the most stimulating and deep thinkers in the world today is Jordan Peterson. These two video clips come from one of his most challenging full length videos ever. It is part of a playlist with two other videos on his belief in God. I embed the playlist at the end of this post.

When asked a question Peterson will often answer “I have spent years thinking about that”. Not for him a trite careless answer.

He is at the forefront of nothing less than a revolution of thinking which is appealing to many believers and non believers alike.

He has digested ancient philosophical and theological writings, as well as 20th century psycho-analytic thinkers, psychological research, and is a fierce critic of our inspid modern culture which seems intent on destroying itself.

It is no accident that after Neitche declared “God is dead” we had the most deadly century ever when man killed more other men than had ever been done before. The 20th century stands as a testimony of what man is capable of when he no longer believes in God.

Peterson says we should act as if we believe in God.

Read the rest:

A Call to Holiness

Matthew 28:18–20

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

These are uneasy times. The unrest is hitting all-time highs it seems. Today’s presenting scripture has been called the the Great Commission. It is often seen as the marching orders for the Christian church. We are called to go and make disciples of or for Jesus Christ (whichever makes the most sense to you – lol). We are called to do this in good times and in not so good times. It might even be more needed during tough times.

In the early years of the Methodist movement – making disciples – followers of Christ – seemed to be the main focus. Revivals and Camp Meetings were all the rage and altar calls were common place in Methodist worship – as pastors challenged parishioners to be transformed after the likeness of Christ. I typically have an altar call each week to challenge those in attendance to faith – or to a deeper faith – or simply to pray about something that has been a challenge for them. Does your pastor invite you to the altar to pray? If not – you might ask them why not.

Early Methodists were called to holiness – they were part of the holiness movement in the United States for instance. We were taught to study the Word of God (the Bible) and to strive to live our lives after what it taught. We were even encouraged to avoid some of the ills of our society. The way it was explained to me (as a third generation Methodist pastor) – Methodists were encouraged to abstain from alcohol – from playing cards – from dancing – even from playing pool. The reason – again as it was explained to me – was because these social activities were often associated with bars and night clubs – with gambling and behavior and places that were not appropriate for folks striving to follow after Christ. We were encouraged to avoid even the appearance of evil or sin (we actually called behavior contrary to God’s will – sin – some don’t like to even say that word).  We were encouraged to keep Sunday set aside for the Lord. In my home growing up – Sunday was a day for worship and Sunday School in the morning – a family lunch – a nap time – youth group – and worship in the evening. Sunday was a day set aside for being with God and with other Christians. How do you spend your Sunday?

A worldly Christianity 

(Octavius Winslow)

“Do not be conformed to this world.” Romans 12:2

Professor of the gospel! Guard against the world; it is your undoing! Watch against conformity to it . . .
in your dress,
in your mode of living,
in the education of your children,
in the principles, motives, and policy that govern you.

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit by . . .
any known inconsistency of conduct,
any sinful conformity to the world,
any inordinate pursuit of . . .
its wealth,
its honors,
its pleasures,
its friendships,
its great things.

Pray against the sin of covetousness, that canker-worm that feeds at the root of so many souls!

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Three Marks of a Godly Person

The Bible tell us that King David was a a godly person; he was a man after God’s own heart.

So what set him apart as a godly person? David was a regenerated man, a man with a new heart, a man with a different spirit than other men of the world. We read of his godliness throughout the Old Testament books of first and second Samuel, as well as in the Psalms.

I want you to notice three truths that made David such an outstanding servant of the Lord, what distinguished him from all the rest. Let’s measure ourselves against these and remember that these are the gifts that Christ holds in His hands, and He offers them to us.

A Godly Person Has a New Heart

Read the rest: