Christian Living

You Are What You Love - A Review (Part 1)

Image of You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit
by James K. A. Smith
Brazos Press 2016
Kindle Edition 225

Three themes dominate James Smith’s You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit. (1) Our loves are like unconscious dispositions we have towards the things and events around us and they reveal our identity. (2) The habituation of godly virtues forms our inner self-our soul. So while gaining knowledge of God and His Word is vital to discipleship, the gaining of virtues—the forming of the soul—is the core of discipleship. (3) The primary way of gaining virtues (of forming the soul) is liturgy in the church.

Chapter 1 explores love and worship. Which is more indicative of our identity? What we love, or what we think? Smith argues that what we love defines our identity. We as humans love something. “You can’t not love.”1 Our loves dictate our choices. Smith compares our loves to our compass, a default orientation of the soul.

Virtues are the habituated, internalized inclinations of the soul “to be compassionate, forgiving, and so forth.”2 “As Aristotle put it, when you’ve acquired a moral habit, it becomes second nature.”3 “Those habits that become ‘second’ nature operate in the same way: they become so woven into who you are that they are as natural for you as breathing and blinking. You don’t have to think about or choose to do these things: they come naturally.”4 “In fact, if I have to deliberate about being compassionate, it’s a sure sign I lack the virtue!”5 Read more about You Are What You Love - A Review (Part 1)

Five Ways to Beat Bitterness: #4 - Act

Detail from Job & His Friends. Eberhard von Wächter (1762–1852)

Read the series so far.

Elijah sits under the juniper and bemoans the failure, unfairness, and pointlessness of his years of work (1 Kings 19:10). Jonah sits under his gourd and broods over his unwanted success (and God’s unwelcome mercy!) in Nineveh (Jonah 4:1-11). Job sits among his “friends” and agonizes physically, emotionally, and spiritually (Job 2:8, 13).

Then there’s Peter. What was he doing between his denial of Jesus, with its resulting bitter regret (Matt. 26:75), and his decision to “go fishing”?

It probably involved a lot of sitting. Read more about Five Ways to Beat Bitterness: #4 - Act

Always Abounding in the Work of the Lord

From Dispensational Publishing House; used by permission.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58).

Whenever I think of this verse, my mind goes back to a Friday in October of 1996. I was pastoring in Iowa at the time, and my wife and I took a day off to attend a banquet held by the Kansas City Youth For Christ.

That day is memorable to me for several reasons. For one, that was in the age before GPS, and we got lost both going to the meeting and coming back home. Secondly, I remember that, as we were eating our meal at the banquet, we suddenly heard the strains of the theme from “Mission Impossible” and saw some young men going over our heads toward the platform on zip lines. But the third reason that day is memorable—the most important one and the reason that we went to Kansas City on that beautiful autumn day—was that the speaker was one of my spiritual heroes, Dr. Dave Breese. Read more about Always Abounding in the Work of the Lord

From the Archives: Joy - Worth Hanging On To

The Book of Philippians is one of the most positive books in Scripture. Its theme is joy. One of the best books on Philippians at a popular level is the one penned by Dr. Warren Wiersbe titled, Be Joyful.

Wiersbe presents Philippians as a book about joy and suggests that Paul identifies four thieves of joy: circumstances, people, material things, and worry. Weirsbe then suggests that Paul offers a solution to neutralize each thief of joy: the single mind (Philippians 1), the submissive mind (Philippians 2), the spiritual mind (Philippians 3), and the secure mind (Philippians 4).

Real joy comes from rich meaning; as Christians, we possess tremendous meaning if we live to glorify God. But this meaning needs to surface and affect the way we think. We can either aim to win by the world’s standards, or aim to win by God’s standards. If we try to do both, we will fail on both counts. Obviously, I advocate the second choice! Read more about From the Archives: Joy - Worth Hanging On To

The Blind Eye and the Deaf Ear (Part 3)

This post continues a lecture from C.H. Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students (read the series so far).

Avoid with your whole soul that spirit of suspicion which sours some men’s lives, and

to all things from which you might harshly draw an unkind inference turn a blind eye and a deaf ear.

Suspicion makes a man a torment to himself and a spy towards others. Once begin to suspect, and causes for distrust will multiply around you, and your very suspiciousness will create the major part of them. Many a friend has been transformed into an enemy by being suspected. Do not, therefore, look about you with the eyes of mistrust, nor listen as an eaves-dropper with the quick ear of fear. To go about the congregation ferreting out disaffection, like a gamekeeper after rabbits, is a mean employment, and is generally rewarded most sorrowfully. Read more about The Blind Eye and the Deaf Ear (Part 3)

Taste and See

Still Life by Gerard Van Honthorst
Still Life by Gerard Van Honthorst

You’d think after ten years, I’d have figured out a better way. You’d think that I’d have learned how to motivate, how to cajole, or how to simply avoid the conflict altogether. But no. Ten years into this thing called parenting, dinner time can still be a battle.

Not every night, of course. The nights I serve up macaroni and cheese, chicken, or pizza, all is well and all manner of things shall be well. But the nights we’re broadening our palate, the nights my husband and I enjoy a grown-up meal or attempt some exotic recipe, these nights devolve into protestations, stalling, and outright depression. I can never guarantee precisely how it will all go down–which food will be the stumbling block or which child will stumble–but I have noticed a pattern.

It begins with quiet resistance, moving the food around on the plate, sad looks, and barely uttered sighs. Perhaps all the other portions are consumed, leaving behind the one offending pile of vegetables or curry. My husband and I will have finished by this point. We will be ready to clear the table or have dessert, ready to move on. But instead, we stay. We stay for round two. We stay to encourage, to confront, and eventually to demand. We set timers, appeal to their sense of gratitude, and promise no other food until morning. Sometimes this works; sometimes they take us up on the offer.

After ten years, I should know better. Yet, each time, I continue to be surprised. Read more about Taste and See

Pages