Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Our Greatest Hope

Last post I shared a excerpt from John Bunyan's All Loves Excelling in which he expounded on God's infinite greatness in all of his attributes, especially that of His love. He is a breadth beyond all breadth, a length beyond all lengths, a depth beyond all depths, and a height beyond all heights. Here, Bunyan offers an application to believers.

"And I will say, there is nothing more helpful, succoring, or comfortable to a Christian while in a state of trial and temptation, than to know that there is a breadth to answer a breadth, a length to answer a length, a depth to answer a depth, and a height to answer a height"

In other words, we all face trials and temptations in this life. We all experience fear, doubt, confusion, insecurity, injustice, feelings of ineptitude, etc....Frankly, the struggles and brokenness we face in this world are overwhelming. In light of these overwhelming struggles, it is terribly exhausting and eventually ineffective to combat these struggles by relying on the breadth, length, depth and height of our own strength and power. We forget that we are finite beings who are not only limited in our abilities, but who are also prone to dig ourselves into a deeper hole.

That is why in the midst of such struggle, temptation, injustice, and fear, we need a love that is infinite. We need a strength that is stronger than ours. We need a hope that is deeper and more beautiful than self-centered hope. This is the hope that Bunyan talks about. For the Christian, our hope and comfort is in God. Regardless of how deep your pain is, God's love is deeper still. No matter how broad your affliction be, God's comfort has more breadth. Your struggle may be long, but Christ's love is infinitely longer.

God is our Rock and a Refuge for us. The love and comfort God offers to us in Christ is infinitely better than any other comfort we could look to. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

He is Beyond All Measure

"that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 
may have the strength to comprehend with all the saints
what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge"
Ephesians 3: 17b-19a

One of my favorite things about Ally and my's honeymoon was that for the first time in several months, I was able to read for the sheer purpose of enjoyment. It was greatly tremendously refreshing to be able to read and not have it be for the purpose of school or work. One of the books I was able to read during our week long was John Bunyan's 'All Loves Excelling'. In it, Bunyan spends all 120 pages expounding on the above verse from Ephesians 3. His purpose in writing is to encourage believers with the simply unfathomable and infinitely wonderful love that Christ has for his people. Speaking of Ephesians 3:17-19, Bunyan writes this in the opening pages:

"They are here to be taken...to suggest unto us the unsearchable and infinite greatness of God; who is a breadth beyond all breadths; a length beyond all lengths; a depth beyond all depths; and a height beyond all heights, and that in all his attributes: He is an eternal being, an everlasting being, and in that respect he is beyond all measures, whether they be of breadth, or length, or depth, or height. In all his attributes he is beyond all measure: whether you measure by words, by thoughts, or by the most enlarged and exquisite apprehension; His greatness is unsearchable; His judgments are unsearchable (Job 5:9). He is infinite in wisdom. 'O! the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of our God! (Romans 11:33). 'If I speak of strength, behold, He is stronger' (Job 9:19). Yes, 'the thunder of his power, who can understand?' (Job 26:14) 'There is none holy as the Lord.' (1 Samuel 2:2), 'and his mercy is from everlasting to everlasting, upon those that fear him.' (Psalm 103:17) 

The greatness of God, of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is that, if rightly considered, will support the spirits of those of his people that are frighted by their adversaries. For here is a greatness against a greatness. Pharaoh was great, God was greater, more great in power, more great in wisdom, more great in every way for the help of his people. These words therefore, take in. The great God who in his immensity and infinite greatness is beyond all things."

John Bunyan, All Loves Excelling (1998), pg. 4-5. 

The main encouragements I gather from this passage are this:
  1. God is infinitely great. In all his attributes, he is beyond measure. 
  2. This infinitely great God who is beyond all measure, acts FOR his people. Meaning, if we have been reconciled to God, this infinite greatness is now on our behalf. No matter the adversary or circumstance we face, God is greater. What we have in God, is better and greater than anything the world can throw at us or offer us.  
If the infinitely great God of the universe has drawn close to me and now calls me his son, why would I trust in the strength of anything else. Why would I trust in my own strength when the strength of God is infinitely stronger? Why would I try to find my comfort in my bank account when I know the comfort God offers is infinitely better? Why would I look to find joy in professional success when I know the joy God gives is beyond all other joys? I am challenged by this passage to remember the infinite greatness of God, and how I must apply this everyday. This is the 'daily bread' that I truly need. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Back in the Saddle

If you are someone who reads this blog, you can probably tell that over the last 5 months, our (Josh and mine) activity has been lacking relative to previous months. This has been partly intentional, partly circumstantial, and partly due to forgetfulness.

It was intentional in that I (Mike) was beginning to notice that posting on here subtly became a burden, and my resulting posts became increasingly sloppy and thoughtless. I came to realize that I had forgotten Josh's and I's original intention in starting this blog; to be a place where we could center our thoughts on the glorious gospel of God's unfathomable love for those who had gone astray. This blog was created to be a place of refreshment. It was meant to be a place where sinners could plunge deep into the depths of God's mercy and once again be reminded of the story in which they live; the story of our Heavenly Father unceasingly pursuing our adoption and redemption. When my posts lacked this foundational motivation, I decided that it would be good to take a break.

The lack of posts was also circumstantial. It is true that as you grow older, life gets busier. Josh is currently entering his 4th year of medical school at the University of Illinois. If  you don't know much about med school, just know that there are frequent periods where you are hostage to a very demanding schedule, sometimes 70-80 hours in a week. Thus, writing on behalf of Josh, I know he is busy. For me (Mike), there are a couple updates. First and foremost, I got married! On August 11th, I married the love of my life and best friend, Ally (now Berttucci......check out here blog HERE). All this to say, with a wedding comes a lot of planning and craziness. On top of the wedding, I'm still full time with Rebirth: East St. Louis, as well as taking part time classes at Covenant Seminary. I'm hoping now that Ally and I are finally getting settled in our new apartment and getting more into a routine, I will have more opportunities to write.

Over the past several weeks, I have realized how much I have missed writing on All of Grace. I realized that writing on here was not just about posting  something so that others could read. Rather, it is an opportunity for me to stop, to reflect, and to center myself upon the gospel. I realized that I needed it for my refreshment. Of course, life is busy, which means that circumstantially I may not be able to write as much. Yet, I know that it takes intentionality and discipline to consistently ground myself in the reality of the gospel. I also know that this is something I deeply desire and need. To that end, it is my hope to re-enter the blogging world by aiming to write at least a couple times a week on here. As always, I love when people comment, encourage, or interact with anything myself or Josh writes.

Looking forward to being back in the saddle. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013