Nothing Can Cut You Off From God’s Love in Christ

nature-forest-waves-treesFor various reasons and purposes, dams are constructed almost anywhere there is a significant body of water. Sometimes dams are created to prevent flooding. Other times they are constructed to create lakes. But always, dams are constructed for the purpose of blocking water from reaching a certain area. Dams trap water in a certain area and prevent water from reaching another area.

Paul is finishing his answer to a question he has posed in verse 35: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Paul isn’t asking if God loves us. He’s asking if there is anything that can block God’s love from reaching us. He’s asking if there are any dams that can prevent the river of God’s love from flowing to us. He lists ten possible dams that might separate us from God’s love in Christ. Let’s look at each of them in three categories.

First, can life or death separate us from God’s love? No, because God’s love busts through each of these dams since “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:20). Even death is used by God’s love to only increase your experience of it.

Second, can angels or rulers or powers separate us from God’s love? No, because even Satan himself, the highest evil ruler and power, only serves the expansion of God’s love. Satan tempted Judas to betray Jesus to his own demise. God’s love crushes these supernatural and evil would-be dams. They cannot keep God’s love from you.

Third, can height or depth or anything else in all creation separate us from God’s love? No. Nothing. Nada. Goose egg. Not one conceivable person or thing can separate us from God’s love. There isn’t one single ruler, power, person, angelic or demonic being that can block God’s love from incessantly flowing to his people. Even death itself is a pawn in the hands of a loving God used for the ultimate good and joy of his people.

So, those of us who have unstoppable access to the river of God’s love must be rivers of living water (John 7:37-38). The love of God in Christ that has freely flowed to us must freely flow through us to others. Don’t construct any dams between you and others. Freely offer the love that has been given to you. Love relentlessly. Love incessantly. Love like your Father.

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Morning Mashup 04/24

Morning Mashup

A daily mashup of book recommendations, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place | Andy Crouch

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Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture | David Murray

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ARTICLES

A Legacy of Forgiveness | The Washington Post

Jemar TisbyHe was walking home from an Easter meal on Sunday when a man walked up to Robert Godwin Sr., asked him to say a name and then shot him in the head. To add to the horror, the killer recorded the shooting and uploaded it to Facebook. Thousands of people saw the slaying before it was removed over an hour later.

The family’s grief, particularly that of Godwin’s children, was on display, too. But so was their love. In a baffling demonstration of grace, three of his children publicly forgave their father’s killer the next day.

Is the Enemy of My Enemy My Friend?| Ligonier

Albert Mohler: In a time of cultural conflict, the enemy of our enemy may well be our friend. But, with eternity in view and the gospel at stake, the enemy of our enemy must not be confused to be a friend to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Truthing in Love | GoThereFor

Lionel Windsor: Truthing in love means speaking the gospel, speaking the implications of the gospel, and speaking in a gospel-shaped way within the whole network of loving relationships characterized by God’s love for us in Jesus.

Three Lessons from an Intentional Life | ERLC

Lauren McAfee: I have the privilege of working in the company that grandpa started more than 40 years ago. There are many things I’ve learned from him over the years, but here are three specific lessons I’ve gleaned from his life:

10 Reasons to Be Humble Toward Opponents | TGC

Andrew DavisGod doesn’t will for us to give in for an instant on issues of biblical truth. It’s not humilty but self-serving cowardice that causes us to back down from doctrinal attacks. We must fight like lions for the truth of the gospel—the souls of our hearers are at stake. 

I think it’s unlikely for a work of church revitalization to go on without overcoming significant human opposition. But God commands us to be humble toward our opponents, entrusting ourselves to him. This is among the greatest displays of grace. And it’ll be instrumental in transforming your church.

As personal conduct goes, I believe there are at least 10 reasons we should be humble toward our opponents.

VIDEOS

Morning Mashup 04/10

Morning Mashup

A daily mashup of book recommendations, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

This Is Our Time: Everyday Myths in Light of the Gospel | TREVIN WAX

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12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You | TONY REINKE

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ARTICLES

REMEMBERING THE RURAL | CANON FODDER

Michael Kruger: In recent years, this interest in the urban has sometimes turned into a superiorityof the urban, and even a disdain of the rural. Those who are a part of urban churches can sometimes project an attitude, even unwittingly, that urban centers are where “real” ministry happens.

ARE SHORT TERM MISSION TRIPS VALUABLE | EPM

Randy Alcorn‘s answer to the question, “Wouldn’t it be better just to take the money spent on short-term trips and send it to the mission field instead?”

THE OBSCENITY OF THE CROSS AND THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL | TPJ

Timothy Paul Jones: These forsaken bodies—the vast majority of the victims of Roman crucifixion—remained on their crosses to be consumed. Thus their remains disintegrated into the dust of the Roman Empire. But the case of Jesus—a Jew, crucified near Jerusalem on the eve of a popular religious festival—doesn’t fit this pattern.

WHY YOU MAY BE MISREADING SCRIPTURE | LOGOS

Tyler Smith: When we come to familiar passages, like the Easter story, we are tempted to rely more on our memory of the story and less on the text of Scripture itself.

RAISING EXPECTATIONS FOR YOUNG BELIEVERS| REFORMED MARGINS

Erik Odegard: There are young believers throughout our churches who are capable to be trusted with significant responsibilities, gospel labors, and growing in grace.  I pray that we would recognize that God has gifted young believers for the edification of our churches (1 Corinthians 12:7), raise our expectations of them, sharpen them training, and entrust them with significant tasks.

5 LESSONS FROM FALLEN PASTORS | ERIC GEIGER

Eric Geiger: As pastors are removed from ministry, the implications on churches and families are far-reaching. Here are five lessons from a season of fallen pastors, a season that has, at times, felt epidemic.

VIDEOS

Russell Westbrook Game-Winning Buzzer Beater | NBA

Back to Blogging With a New Perspective

glenn-carstens-peters-203007After a much-needed five-month hiatus, I’ve decided to re-enter the fray of the blogosphere. When my wife gave birth to our second son in mid-September of 2016, it didn’t take me long to learn my limitations as a minister, husband, father, and man. In order to fulfill my roles as husband and father, something needed to take a backseat. So, in late October, I abruptly walked away from my blog. Waking up at 6 AM or staying up until 2 AM to write blog posts was no way to help my wife in those early months with our newborn son. I realized that writing blog posts wasn’t the best expenditure of my time and energy.

To be honest, blogging took the place of the few moments of alone time with my wife. Blogging took the place of rocking a crying baby or changing a dirty diaper. When Erica and I were finally able to sit down together after a rough night getting our boys to bed, my eyes became fixated on a screen rather than on her. Blogging simply got in the way.

After only a couple conversations with my wife about the role blogging was playing in my life, I knew what had to be done. I had to quit. And by God’s grace, I wanted to quit. Not because I lost a desire to write or share helpful content with my readers, but because I had a greater desire to be with my wife.

Blogging, for me, had turned from a personally sanctifying tool and means of ministering to a wider base of people into a time-sucking machine that was a product of the selfishness in my heart. Blogging turned from a sanctifying partner to a relentless slavedriver. Pastors, like everyone else, very much dislike admitting their own struggles. Maybe that’s why so many of us burn out or fall into habitual sin. I know I don’t enjoy sharing that blogging, for me, had become more sinful than sanctifying just before my break.

By God’s grace, I clearly saw my sin for what it was and snuffed it out. Blogging was causing more pain than pleasure, and more sin than sanctification, so I quit. No final post. No specific timeline. I knew I would return to blogging at some point, but I didn’t want it to be on my mind at all during the break. Honestly, the break has been refreshing. However, I feel I am now at a good place to return to blogging. And I’m excited. I’m excited to return to the blogosphere because of the two things I’ve learned about blogging over the past five months despite not hitting “publish” once.

1. Blogging is a personally sanctifying tool when put in its place.

Writing is more than therapeutic for me. It helps me wrestle with ideas. It helps me pray. it helps me fight sin in my own life. It helps me meditate deeper on a theological or biblical truth. In short, writing gives me wings that propel me closer to God.

I ran into problems with blogging when I allowed blogging to take a place in my heart and life that it has no business taking. With proper accountability from friends and healthy communication with my wife, blogging will remain in its place. Instead of intellectually holding to the idea that my wife and children take priority in my life, I’ve been putting it into practice. And by God’s grace, I will continue.

2. Blogging is an edifying tool when used properly.

Pastor Bobby Griffith of City Presbyterian in Oklahoma City tweeted yesterday, “Maybe people don’t have to blog about every issue, especially when it’s not in their wheelhouse.” I’ve been thinking through this idea over the past few years, but increasingly over the past few weeks. No matter how small, every blog is a platform and every blog has an audience. But that doesn’t mean every blogger should blog about every issue.

This is especially true in the Reformed Christian blogosphere where hot takes on the latest “heretical” sermon clip or theological issue have become as common as plaid shirts and pipes. My goal in writing for this blog in the future is to never foolishly presume mastery over any topic, but especially one I haven’t studied. And while some issues deserve a response, I pray blog posts are never designed merely for the sake of site traffic or just to have said something.

All in all, as good as the break from blogging has been, I’m glad to be back.


17498999_1870940272931412_6999370580315029592_nMathew Gilbert is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew and his wife, Erica, live in Tupelo with their two boys, Jude and Jack.

Morning Mashup 10/20

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Sunday nights provide me with a unique opportunity. I will without fail be doing four things simultaneously: (1) Shaping up a paper due for class at 11:55 pm, (2) Watching both The Walking Dead and Sunday Night Football, (3) Watching my wife and our dog take a long, long nap, and, finally, (4) Work on the Morning Mashup post for Monday.

This all made for an exceptionally interesting night, especially when Gareth was gnawing on Bob’s leg at the end of TWD. Not sure I have recovered from that yet. But as intrigued as I was throughout the night, I kept this in mind as I prepared this edition of Morning Mashup. I hope you find these articles interesting, encouraging, challenging, informing, edifying, or all the above. But seriously…those Terminus folks are MESSED UP!


Peyton Manning Breaks Brett Favre’s All-Time TD Record – Last night, Peyton Manning set the NFL record for career touchdown passes. He threw four TD passes against the 49ers in an all out shellacking. So, here’s to the greatest quarterback in NFL history. Yeah, I said it.

Hillsong Shifts on Homosexuality – When asked to clarify their stance on homosexuality and gay marriage, Hillsong pastor, Brian Houston, was anything but clear. He essentially gave a non-answer and this article from Andrew Walker shows why evangelicals should be concerned.

Hillsong (kind of) Clarifies Statement on Gay Marriage – While Houston affirms traditionally held Christian views on homosexuality, he remains unclear. I don’t see this statement as invalidating Walker’s above article.

How Boko Haram’s Murders and Kidnappings are Changing Nigeria’s Churches – “Leading Nigerian evangelical says Christians won’t abandon the North.”

Why I’m Not Afraid of Ebola – Inspiring words from a doctor who is a Christian.

One of the Oldest Known Synagogues Seized by ISIS – “Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists not only threaten the current Middle East according to antiquities officials in Iraq and Syria, the terror group threatens to erase 5,000 years of history and relics in upper Mesopotamia, including one of the earliest Jewish synagogues.”

The Better Half: SEC Wives – This brief feature on the lives of the wives of SEC football coaches is unique and interesting. However, there is a saddening effect inherent with their lifestyles.

The Mid-Degree Crisis and Value of Work During Seminary – This was timely in my life. I am a theology student who works. I received much-needed encouragement from Phillip Bethancourt in this post.

Book Review of “The Bible Tells Me So” – Don’t miss this important review of Peter Enns’ controversial book.

Marriage on the Edge of Eternity – Francis Chan: “Eternity changes how we enjoy marriage and everything else in this life. Eternity changes how we love. It would be unloving to get my wife and kids so focused on this life that they are unprepared for the next.”

5 Bad Substitutes for Discipline – Tim Challies: “There is nothing easy about parenting, and nothing easy about the responsibility of training our children in obedience through discipline. Because discipline is unpopular and unpleasant, parents often find themselves looking for substitutes.”

The One Key Component to Good Writing – Barnabas Piper with some helpful advice for all of my fellow writers out there.

As long as we let the Word be our only armor we can look confidently into the future. –Deitrich Bonhoeffer

Morning Mashup 06/11

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Think Before You Post – Much wisdom in this blog post on blog posts. Before you tweet, post, publish, email, or even send a text today, check out these social media guidelines from blogger Kevin DeYoung. As a blogger, this was especially helpful to me.

10 Lessons from 10 Years of Public Schooling – Tim Challies on the dilemma of whether Christian parents should send their children to public school. While Christians line up on both sides of this debate, Challies represents in this article the position that public school is a viable option for Christian parents to consider.

The “Sacrament” of Suffering – Here is a unique perspective on suffering offered by Thabiti Anyabwile which I found compelling and helpful.

How Are Women Saved Through Childbearing? – This perplexing passage (1 Tim. 2:15) will make you want to pull your hair out. There are many interpretations given. Here is one offered by John Piper, which originally came from British Anglican scholar, Henry Alford. It is worth your consideration.

Committed to Marriage, Committed to the Church – This article is particularly helpful for young married couples. Commitment to one another in marriage should lead to deeper commitment to the local church.

Michael Sam and First Take: Maybe Tolerance Goes Both Ways – I agree with Jon Akin’s reflections on ESPN’s First Take. It has become my favorite sports podcast and is the only one I listen to daily.

The Future of Evangelical Reflection on Same-Sex Orientation – Denny Burk reflects on Matthew Vines’ reflections on Sam Alberry’s reflections on Matthew Vines’ book God and the Gay Christian. Yeah, just check it out. All of this discussion over same-sex orientation, behavior, and relationships is much-needed. I’m glad these discussions are taking place.

Napoleon Dynamite Cast Reunites – “Gosh!”  The cast from “Napoleon Dynamite” reunites to unveil a statue to commemorate the ten year anniversary of the film that made awkward humor fanatics go wild.

Misplaced affections need to be replaced by the far greater power of the affection of the gospel. –Thomas Chalmers