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.

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 08/25

Morning Mashup

A daily mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


KINDLE DEALS

Shaped by the Gospel: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City (Center Church) | Tim Keller | $3.99

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Relationships: A Mess Worth Making | Tim Lane | $2.99

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ARTICLES

Purity Culture | Samuel James

 It is often difficult for me to read a blog post that excoriates evangelical purity culture, and discern where the criticism of legalism ends and the criticism of the Bible’s teachings on sex begin. 

Remember Their Names | James Faris

You can minister to family members of public figures by following God’s pattern: remember their names. Most are pretty happy to live in the orbit of their more luminous family member; but when you work to know a person’s name and use it, it brings them even greater joy because it shows that you care about them as an individual.

You Are Not the Bride of Christ | Ryan Higginbottom

The image in Scripture is clear: God is preparing and purifying his people for a great gathering at the end of time. The victorious Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, will meet his bride, the church, and there will be a great feast of celebration. Let’s not dilute or distract from this great biblical image. You are not the bride of Christ; we are.

Writing and the Lie of Better-Than | Barnabas Piper

When we worry about which writers are better than us we have taken the infinite game of creating and lowered it to the finite world of win or lose. When we do this we lose ourselves and our unique ability to say or create anything that matters. We become derivative and soulless – precisely the opposite of what makes the most significant writing significant. Our game is not to defeat other writers but to continually grow as writers.

Pastoral Ministry Doesn’t Have to Be Sedentary | Erik Raymond

Pastors spend a lot of time in a chair. Consider a quick list of regular tasks that a pastor attends to: sermon preparation, counseling, reading, prayer, meetings, driving to meet someone, answering emails, working on projects, and a host of other (seated) things. We know that without some degree of intentionality a pastor can slouch into a sedentary lifestyle. We also know that this type of lifestyle is not healthy. In this post I want to highlight a few practices that I have found helpful in my ministry to combat this problem. If calling them “life-hacks” makes them more compelling and inviting then so be it, but I’m content to call them suggestions.

VIDEOS

Morning Mashup 06/08

 

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A mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


KINDLE DEALS

C.S. Lewis’s Remarkable (and Surprising) Sermon | Justin Taylor

Seventy-five years ago tomorrow C.S. Lewis ascended the pulpit at the University Church of St Mary the Virgin in Oxford and delivered “The Weight of Glory,” one of the most insightful sermons of the twentieth century.

6 Ways to Influence a Culture of Evangelism | Taylor Turkington

We must depend on Jesus for help to lead well, but we must also be intentional. So how do we lead well in evangelism? The tone we set in our community changes the way those around us see the value of proclaiming the gospel. Here are six ideas to consider as others watch you.

On Abortion and Racism: Why There is a Greater Evil in this Election | Thabiti Anyabwile

It’s been more difficult to be an African-American and an “Evangelical” or “Reformed” these last few years. It was never an easily negotiated identity or space. But a certain quietude about matters of “race” and racism made it possible to enjoy a measure of unity in theological matters and some seeming trust as spiritual family. A degree of political affinity, defined largely by the obvious wrongs we opposed, created a co-belligerence that kept our eyes off our differing political needs and emphases along ethnic lines. Suspicion and mistrust were kept at bay by a tacit sense that some things were more important.

Can You Name All Ten Commandments? If Not, This (and 18 Other Questions) Could Get You Deported | Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra

These questions, among the nearly 20 questions in CT’s quiz below, have been asked of Christian converts from Islam who are applying for asylum in the United Kingdom. Wrong answers put them at a high risk of deportation.

6 Theses on Online Writing and Civility | Jake Meador

Put another way, the problem with internet writing isn’t just the particular internet tools we use; it’s also with the people using the tools. And those same people who make such a mess on blogs or public social media channels are the ones populating our private forms of online media. So even if we no longer have to deal with particularly destructive tools, we still must deal with the destructive sins we ourselves commit every day. A shift toward more private media, then, may help reduce the impact of certain problems created in part by bad technology, but it cannot solve the problem entirely.

Four Ways for Fathers to Engage at Home | Jeremy Adelman

Admittedly, it is often difficult to remain engaged at home. After a long day, it is easy to detach from our family and enter the worlds of media, technology, and sports. Our minds are occupied with the work we left behind or looking forward to the sleep that is to come, but God calls us to more as husbands and fathers.Here are four ways, among many, that men can be more engaged at home.

Fahrenheit 381 | Carl Trueman

Trueman and others at Mortification of Spin have called complementarian leaders (CBMW & TGC) to the carpet on serious charges of Trinitarian heresy. I’ll be following this exchange closely.

VIDEOS

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