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…