The Way To Gain Influence

We don’t always have the opportunity to share the gospel directly with those we love, live around or work with. But we can still exert a godly influence.

I’m stirred by this quote by Tim Keller, commenting on God’s command to Israel to seek the welfare of Babylon when they had been taken captive:

“For you,” God says, “the route to gaining influence is not taking power. Influence gained through power and control doesn’t really change society; it doesn’t change hearts. I’m calling you to a totally different approach. Be so sacrificially loving that the people around you, who don’t believe what you believe, will soon be unable to imagine the place without you. They’ll trust you because they see that you’re not only out for yourself, but out for them, too. When they voluntarily begin to look up to you because of the attractiveness of your service and love, you’ll have real influence.” — Tim Keller, King’s Cross

Here are some questions this quote raises:

  • How am I seeking to serve or bless my neighbors, co-workers, or unbelieving children?
  • Would the unbelievers in my life see that I’m truly “out for them” – that I have their interests at heart?
  • Would my non-Christian friends say I was “sacrificially loving?”
  • What sacrifices can I make for unbelievers?
  • How is my church sacrificially serving our community?
  • What are some ways we can do that?

What questions would you add?

Win A Copy Of “Note To Self” By Joe Thorn

Today I want to give away three copies of a new book that I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about. That book is called Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself by Joe Thorn. This is a short book that packs a punch. If you don’t have much time to read, the 2-3 page chapters are perfect for you.

Here is how the book is described:

We need good preaching—preaching that challenges us by God’s Word and brings the comfort that comes from God’s promises. Yet many of us rely solely on others to preach to us and are not benefitting from the kind of preaching that should be most consistent and personal—preaching to ourselves.

Note to Self is a practical introduction to this daily discipline. Pastor Joe Thorn delivers fifty brief, devotional chapters that model preaching the gospel to ourselves and its practical implications. Readers will be challenged by the book’s direct, personal exhortations to apply the law and the gospel to their own lives.

To win a copy of the book, use the form below: (note RSS and email readers need to click through to the actual post). The giveaway ends on Monday.

Aging Is Humbling

Here’s my favorite comedian, Brian Regan with some observations on getting older.  And he’s not even old…

I think I’m going to get one of those Sonic Ear thingies…

What To Do When God’s Word Doesn’t Give Answers

I’m a kind of guy who likes answers. I don’t like ambiguity or gray areas. When I get sick, I want to know exactly what I have, which sometimes leads to me getting on WebMD and trying to do self-diagnosis. Getting on WebMD and looking up my symptoms is never helpful though. I always come away feeling confused and thinking that I either have a cold, liver failure, or some rare form of nasal cancer. But I keep going back because I want answers.

Sometimes I treat the Bible like the Internet, as if the Bible is God’s big book of answers. And that often presents a problem, because on a lot of issues, the Bible is silent. God doesn’t tell me exactly how election and free will work together. He tells me that he is perfectly just, but he doesn’t tell me how he will be just with people who haven’t heard the gospel. He tells me that he works all suffering for good, but he doesn’t take me behind the scenes to show me exactly how everything is working for good.

So what should I do when I have questions that God doesn’t answer? I find the words of John Calvin helpful here:

Let us use great caution that neither our thoughts nor our speech go beyond the limits to which the Word of God itself extends. For how can the human mind measure off the measureless essence of God according to its own little measure…? Let us then willingly leave to God the knowledge of himself. But we shall be “leaving it to him” if we conceive him to be as he reveals himself to us, without inquiring about him elsewhere than from his Word. And let us not take it into our heads either to seek out God anywhere else than in his sacred Word, or to think anything about him that is not prompted by his Word, or to speak anything that is not taken from his Word. (Quoted in “Historical Theology”, pg. 155)

In other words, I need to let God be God. When he is silent on an issue, I need to be okay with that and not look for answers elsewhere. I need to shut my mouth, marvel at his glory, and humbly submit to him.