Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Respectable Sins: Chapters 7 & 8

We almost had a full house this week for bookclub. It was nice. :)

Here’s a snippet of our discussion:


How do you live each day? Do you live like God really exists? Of course you’d never so that you live like He doesn’t. But this chapter was quite confronting about the very fact that we really do live like he’s not a part of the little details. We have our devotions in the morning and then get on with life, and forget about Him for the rest of the day.

How ungodly are you? Quite a confronting question but as Jerry puts it… “If you followed my reasoning this far, you can see that no Christian is totally godly, and to the extent we are not, there is still some degree of ungodliness in us. The question we should honestly and humbly ask is, How ungodly am I? How much of my life do I live without any regard for God? How much of my daily activities do I go through without any reference to God? Page 58

Do you live ALL of life as if God is relevant or irrelevant?

It reminded us of a discussion we had whilst reading ‘Loving God with All Your Mind’ by Elizabeth George. She encourages us to get into the habit of using the down times, when our mind is often not engaged, ie. Doing dishes and mundane tasks, to train our minds. To think on Him. She suggests some practical things like, memorizing scripture whilst you do the dishes, or vacuuming. While walking or driving. Fill your mind with the Word of God.

As we discussed Gods Moral Will that we live lives that please God, we recognized that in many ways we are God’s representatives to the world. Do we live our lives as advertisements for Christ? When people see the way we live, behave, act and interact, is God glorified, or are we just like them. Do they see any in us? We should treat every meeting with others as ‘divine appointments’ and make every interaction with others as positive as it can be. We should seek to be and influence for good. We never know what’s going on in the lives of people around us. They may be having a terrible time, and even that smile, or encouraging word, may be an opportunity to bless them.


Who else found this a challenging chapter? Had you ever truly acknowledged that your anxiety and worry was sin? In our worrying we are displaying our lack of Trust in God. When Paul says in Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything”….
‘ “Don’t be anxious,” it has the force of a moral command. In other words, it is the moral will of God that we not be anxious. Or to say it more explicitly, anxiety is sin.’
Page 64

Sometimes our first reaction is fear and anxiety, and its often involuntary. We didn’t feel that this was necessarily wrong but that we should then step back and remember the Lord is in control, rather than indulge it. We must not let our emotions control us.

We loved the anecdote about Gods Agenda versus our on page 65. “Anxiety is a sin also because it is a lack of acceptance of God’s providence in our lives” page 64. As reformed people, we own the belief that God is Sovereign and in control of every detail of our lives. But do we really live like we believe it? Do we accept that when things don’t go according to our plans, that it is because God has a different plan? Even the little plans? Even the printer not working?

I pray that God would help us to see these little trials and frustrations as opportunities to grow in godliness rather than hurdles and obstacles. “Some believers have difficulty accepting the fact that God does in fact orchestrate all events and circumstances, and even those of us who do believe it often lose sight of this glorious truth. Instead we tend to focus on the immediate causes of our anxiety rather than remember that those immediate causes are under the sovereign control of God.” Page 65

Well there is so much more to be said… but I think my post is long enough.

Share with us your thoughts on these chapters… we’re anxious to hear your thoughts!

P.S. I've also started a face book page for the book club, as some of you were having difficulty getting online to post comments, so if you want to follow along on facebook, follow this link to the page. those of you who would like to do this but are not on facebook yet, let me know and I'll send you a facebook invitation.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Respectable Sins: 4,5,6

Hi Girls

Well, I’m running late on this post… sorry. Thought I’d better post it before we discuss the next chapters tomorrow!

We did meet to discuss Chapters 4, 5, & 6. And here are a few of the thoughts we discussed.

Preach the Gospel to yourself every day: We were reminded once again, how important it is to preach the gospel to ourselves every day. In doing so we recognize how sinful we are, and appreciate and love his great Mercy all the more. But it also helps us to refocus on the Lord, and remember that His work is accomplished, That Christ has the victory and we will overcome. It helps us put all our trust in Him as we try to put to death sin in us. Through Christ’s work we are freed from its Guilt and its power “… Christ, in His work for us and in us, saves us not only from the penalty of sin but also from its dominion or reigning power in our lives. This twofold aspect of Chris’s great work is beautifully captured in Augustus Toplady’s great hymn “Rock of Ages,” with the words,

Let the water and the blood,
From the riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.
Page 33

“Stepping forward to accept my place as a sinner in need of the gospel each day drives a dagger into my self-righteous heart and prepares me to face up to and accept the reality of the sin that still dwells within me.” Page 34

I think its so useful in fact, to Preach the Gospel to yourself daily, that I decided to put it into the monthly planner this year to help us do just that.

Will you preach the gospel to yourself every day?

The Work of the Holy Spirit: What an encouragement it is to know that the Holy Spirit works in us to change us. That He transforms us. “… That is, Paul urges us to work in the confidence that God is at work in us. Though Paul refers to God, presumable God the Father, as the One at work, we have already seen that God works through the Holy Spirit as the transforming agent in our lives.’ Page 43

The Beauty of Trials: Can trials be beautiful? Can we look at our trials and see and opportunity to put to death certain sins? Do we recognize that often our trials give us great blessings through the lessons God teaches us. They cause us to truly trust in the Lord, and to sense our great dependency on Him.
“… It is obvious that we can deal with the activity of our subtle sins only as the circumstances we encounter expose them.” Page 44

What are trials? Are the always the big things? Circumstances that bring us to tears? Or do we face little trials every day? We should accept even the little daily trials as opportunity to put to death sin? We should focus on our sins, and concentrate on putting them to death when opportunity to sin arises? And, Not only Not committing certain sin in each trial, but actively practicing the fruits of the spirit in our daily response to our circumstances.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Respectable Sins: 1,2,3

Well, Tuesday we got together again to discussed the first 3 chapters of Respectable sins. Here’s snippet of what we discussed:

The terribleness of sin and the depth of Gods Grace: How did you feel reading it? Most of us felt it was depressing to be reminded just how sinful we are and how terrible sin really is. It feels like we fight against those ‘acceptable sins’ all the time…. The cold hard truth. You can’t dress it up!

It definitely catches us up short when we realize that we do all at some time display ‘conduct unbecoming a saint’ as he discussed on page 15.

“Conduct unbecoming an officer” that expression covered anything from minor offenses resulting in a reprimand to major ones requiring a court martial… it was a statement that the conduct was inconsistent with that expected of a military officer. The officer so described had failed to live up to his responsibility to act as an officer should act.

Perhaps we might do well to adopt a similar expression for believers: “conduct unbecoming a saint” Such an expression would pull us up short, wouldn’t it? When we gossip, become impatient or get angry, we could remind ourselves that our conduct is unbecoming a saint. We are in principle, if not in degree, acting like the Corinthians. We are living inconsistently with our calling.’ Page 15-16

‘Sin is sin… It is unbecoming a saint.’ Page 16

Is our conduct inconsistent with that expected of a Christian? …Sadly I think we all know the answer.

But it is also beautiful in that in being shown the depth of our depravity, The horribleness and malignancy of Sin, we are truly reminded of the depth of Gods Grace and how amazing it truly is.

How can anyone truly understand the Gospel, without first understanding how terrible sin is. If sin is not that terrible, then we don’t really need a saviour.

The watering down of words: We found the statements about the watering down of the language of sin to be very true. Jerry concluded that… ‘the whole idea of sin has virtually disappeared from our culture’ page 18. How true this is. Once upon a time the names for sin sounded terrible and everyone new it was sin, but today we interchange the words, so they no longer have the negative connotations, and even sometimes seem positive.

Adultery has become ‘an affair’, Fornication has become ‘sleeping with someone’ or ‘living with someone’ a viable alternative to marriage, ‘Murder’ has become ‘termination’. And these are only the most obvious sins. Society has made industries out of Gossip and made greed a virtue.

But worst still it is clear the ‘church’ is also guilty of softening the blow.

It was interesting how sermons have changed since the puritan era (see list of titles on page 25), and how many now have difficulty communicating what sin is. “… the language frequently cushions the listeners from their impact as it employs a variety of softening rhetorical devices.” Page 18 “indeed, strong biblical words for sin have been excised from our vocabulary. People no longer commit adultery; instead they have an affair. Corporate executives do not steal; they commit fraud.” Page 19

Compare ourselves to the word not to each other: We thought it was good to be reminded not to compare ourselves with others around us, but rather to compare ourselves with the Word. As Jerry said on page 24 ‘We who are believers tend to evaluate our character and conduct relative to the moral culture in which we live. Since we usually live at a higher moral standard than society at large, it is easy for us to feel good about ourselves and to assume that God feels that way also. We fail to reckon with the reality of sin still dwelling within us.’

Well, now that we’ve been crushed by the weight of our sins. And seen how terrible, infectious, and deadly the disease of sin is… we look forward to the next chapters we’ll be reading…
‘The Remedy for Sin’, ‘The Power of the Holy Spirit’ and ‘Directions for Dealing with Sins’

Look forward to hearing your thoughts…

Monday, August 17, 2009

Late start!

Hi girls

well the books have finally arrived, and I'll get them too you as soon as I can. Some of you already have them :)

We will meet on the 25th of August and discuss Chapters 1, 2 & 3, as they are short and go together. In all 12 pages.

So we'll read
Chapter 1 : Ordinary Saints
Chapter 2: The Disappearance of Sin
Chapter 3: The Malignancy of Sin

Look forward to discussing it with you soon.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Planner time again!

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New Book Club Book Chosen!

Hi Girls,

Welcome back after a long break.

We all got a bit tired with our last book, and various commitments and trials lead to us taking a break for a while.

However we're back on, and last night we got together (some of us...;) ) over tea and scones and decided which book we are going to read this term.

We chose this book... Made For His Pleasure by Alistair Begg.... However I just checked with koorong and they only have 2 left in the country and no new orders coming in...

Therfore I think we’ll have to go with #2 on our list... Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges.

If you’d like to read along with us and would like me to order a book for you, let me know by emailing by Sunday, so that I can order it in time for next week. There are 6 available in Koorong Adelaide if you’d like to go in yourselves and get it.

Hope you've all had a good break. I look forward to reading with you all again.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Recommended books for Children

In our last discussion these books were recommended as useful tools in teaching our children scripture and values:

'My 1st Book of Christian Values' by Carine Mackenzie

Excellent for short devotions on Christian values.

'My 1st Book of Memory Verses' by Carine MacKenzie

'My 1st Book of Questions and Answers' by Carine MacKenzie

For those of you have been looking unsuccessfully for the 'Prove it Catechism' that I've recommended on this website this would be a great alternative.

This is the Recommendation by Douglas F. Kelly:

"As evangelicals, we have analysed the harmful cultural influences on our children bu have been less effective in offering positive solutions to the problem. It is a joy, therefore, to recommend very highly Carine MacKenzie's new Catechism for children.

Here is something that Christian parents, grandparents and friends can do for the character developement and wholsome spiritual growth of the young generation: teach them this catechism!

It is Biblically sound throughout; a fine and clear summation of the structure of Reformed Theology. It is both comprehensive and comprehensible. Written in very plain and current English, it wastes no words and keeps to the point at issue in each question, and is organized so that theological concepts follow each other in proper order, much like its model, the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

It presents profound turth as simply as possible. As a father of five, I deem it to be happily accessible to children. It conveys a spirit of uplifting devotion.

This catechism could make a great difference in the lives of those who learn it. May prayer is that it may be widely read.'

All these books are available at Koorong, and probably most christian book stores.

Path Through Trials - Section 3

This week we discussed Section 3 pages 101 to 135.

Staying in our trials: We discussed staying in our trials. Do we need to? Often there are ways we could avoid the trial but some times the right thing to do is to face them head on. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego for example, could have avoided their trial. They could have said to themselves ‘well God knows my heart, and that I’m not really worshiping the Golden statue’ They could have bowed in order to avoid the aweful punishment, knowing that in their hearts they still worshiped the true God. But they didn’t. They didn’t compromise. They decided to face their trial. What kinds of trials do we face? Do we compromise even with the every day tests and trials? Could we easily avoid the trial by compromising? What is the right way to respond to each trial, rather than the easy way?

Elizabeth gave us examples of people who stayed in their trials, who chose to go through them rather than avoid them. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-Nego, Abraham, and even Christ. “In all of these instances… It was 100 percent Him [God] and not the skills, knowledge, abilities, smooth talking, and clever manipulations of humans that ended these tests. Those involved only had to do three things: step into their test, stay in their test and wait on and trust in God.” page 140

It is good to remember some of those listed in Hebrew ‘Hall of Faith’ failed just like us, but God still honored them. Sarah tried to manipulate her circumstance to bring her trial to an end. She failed, with disastrous consequences, but she became stronger through her trial.

Weakness: The world tells us that to get through difficulties we need to be strong. Find our inner strength and get on with it.

But the bible says that when we are weak we are strong. We need to be at peace with our weakness so that we can trust God for His strength. We should not let pride get the better of us. We should be honest about our weakness. As Elizabeth said on pg 127 ‘Let God use others to assist you as you make your way through your trial. This shows your maturity and lest God work through the other person.’

When facing trials we should look to God for strength and Grace to endure. 'And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am week, then I am strong.' 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Our weakness emphasizes God’s strength.

The purpose of Trials: ‘God works through trials in our lives to ‘perfect’ and mature us.’ page 136. We thought that in the world today, and in the circumstance in which we live it is difficult for people to see the purpose of trials. We live in a shallow world with often an artificial peace and happiness. In a world that is always seeking to fulfill pleasure, and perpetual happiness, it is difficult to see the need for trials. It is hard for people to see that suffering is necessary to make us stronger, and that on the other side of trials there is blessing.

We were reminded that having nice children is not good enough. We need to help our children develop character and maturity, and sometimes this means allowing them to face a difficult situation rather than stepping in to help them. ‘… maturity and usefulness are the overarching outcomes of trials endured and seen through to the end.’ Pg 143

To Sum up: We all enjoyed this anonymous poem. We thought it a beautiful illustration of how God lovingly teaches us in ways we don’t expect and how we are blessed because of His wisdom.

'I asked God for strength that I might achieve,
I was made weak that I might learn to humbly obey.

I asked for help that I might do greater things,
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.

I asked for riches that I might be happy,
I was given poverty that I might be wise.

I asked for power that I might have the praise of men,
I was given weakness so that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things that I might enjoy life,
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing that I asked for but everything I had hoped for.
I am among all men, most richly blessed.'

Page 144-145

“Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:4

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Recapping Section 1 & 2

Hi Everyone

We started book club again on Wednesday after a long break, so we thought we’d recap the chapters we’d already read to refresh our memories. Here’s a few of the things we discussed.

Elizabeth’s Challenge: Did you do the ‘assignment’ from page 39? “For one week keep a journal of your trials. Then evaluate them from God’s perspective, choose to count them as all joy, and record the positive results that come from making this godly choice. Choose to follow God’s beautiful and practical path through your tials! He has carefully laid out the stepping-stones fro you, the first one being a joyful attitude.”

Most of us didn’t literally keep a journal but we did take mental notes. We realized that it’s the little everyday trials that we failed to count as Joy. Not the big ones. It’s the little troubles that shape our character. It was a good exercise to do and we realized that if we are not learning from the little trials it’s a scary thought that God my need to use big ones to get through to us!

I actually didn’t do the ‘assignment’ when we originally read it. However recently I spent the night in hospital with both my boys, and a dear ‘book club’ friend told me over the phone to ‘remember to count it as joy’. It was a great encouragement and as I lay on the very uncomfortable trundle bed in between my boys, I was meditating on James 1:2 ‘My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.’, and it really helped me to put the whole episode into perspective. And in a way I was able to count it joy. I could see that the Lord was teaching me about myself, my attitudes my emotions, impatience. I’m very grateful for the reminder and remembering that it is all part of Gods purposes really encouraged me.

We discussed tiredness: On page 80, Elizabeth says “Tiredness is never an excuse. In fact, it’s a test. If tiredness is our excuse, we have failed the test, and we’ll have to go right back into the Refiner’s fire (Zechariah 13:9). We must deal with this weakness. We must purge it from our lives. Stable women don’t give into tiredness. Instead they fight it. They remain constant and keep on keeping on… no matter what.” The context of this was in relation to our commitments and responsibilities.

How do you feel about that statement? It seemed rather strong, however we though that there were many lessons to learn. If we are too tired, maybe we have committed ourselves to too many things and need to re examine our priorities. If we’re too tired to be effective wives and mothers then maybe we need to commit ourselves to less.

Giants of the faith: We thought it was good to remember “Gods Hall of faith” in Hebrews 11, which Elizabeth discusses on page 96.

I thought I’d leave you with these thoughts from page 97:

“What can you trust Jesus for today? Right this minute, what challenge is standing in your path? Are the little ones driving you crazy? Do you feel trapped? Useless? Remember, you walk with the giants of the faith.

Are you nursing your heal… or a broken heart… or a loved one with cancer? Are you suffering unjustly because of slander of gossip? Are you going without a home, sufficient finances, a husband, or children? Remember, you walk with the giants of the faith.

Realise that just as God was honoured by the faith and fortitude of those incredible saints of old, He will be honored as you trust Him when you suffer.

No matter what God is asking of you, no matter what the size of it, ask Him to give you the grace to take even a small step of trusting obedience in whatever He requires of you. That one small step will put you on God’s path through your trials There you will experience His gracious help and provision, enabling you to stand alongside His giants of genuine faith in your times of testing.”