Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Category: Christian Life (page 3 of 11)

The ‘Get Up and Go!’ Factor in Faith

So, today is beautiful. It’s warm, sunny, not oppressively hot… and perhaps best of all, it’s Friday. How awesome is that? I should be happy, right?

That’s what struck me today around lunch time as I was walking to the school to pick up one of my daughters: I should be very happy. But as I thought about the disposition of my heart I found something quite different: I was sad. I wasn’t depressed or angry, and I wasn’t ready to weep or break down. There was just a kind of low-grade sad, disappointed mindset that was colouring all my thoughts and interactions.

I didn’t know what else to do, so I began to question myself in the fashion of Psalm 42-43:

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (Psalm 43.5)

What’s cool about this question is that it is actually drawing out the reasons for sadness, while at the same time challenging those reasons for sadness with timeless truth: God reigns, he saves, and I will praise him into the future. So in light of the truth that was (I’ve praised him before), the truth that is (he is still my salvation and my God), and the truth that will be (I will praise him again), are my reasons for sadness still justified?

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Faith, Justification, Gratitude, and Action

In his excellent teaching on the meaning of faith, J.I. Packer tackles the age-old question of how justification by faith alone results in anything other than spiritual sloth and antinomianism. He writes the following:

ji-packerFaith abandons hope in man’s own accomplishments, leaves all works behind, and comes to Christ alone and empty-handed, to cast itself on mercy. Such is the faith that saves.

But does this mean that saving faith throws a halo over idleness, and that the gospel of justification by faith only is really hostile to moral endeavour? Indeed not. ‘Faith is a lively thing,’ wrote Luther, ‘mighty in working, valiant and strong, ever doing, ever fruitful; so that it is impossible that he who is endued therewith should not work always good works without ceasing … for such is his nature.’

What saves is faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone; it is always ‘working through love (Gal. 5:6), becoming a moral dynamic of unparalleled power in the believer’s life. The proof that a man’s faith is real is precisely this — that it makes him work. How does it do this? By making him feel the constraint of Christ’s love for him, and the greatness of the debt of gratitude which he owes to his God. As we said once before, Christian doctrine is grace, and Christian conduct is gratitude. The believer does not do what he does as a means to being justified, but there are no limits to what he will do for his Lord out of gratitude for the justification that he has received.

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Don’t Be Okay with Not Reading Your Bible

I’m a part of a bi-weekly Bible study that I love. Rather than working through a specific text together, we each come ready to talk about what we’ve been reading on our own.

It’s nice because each time we meet is very different. Also, it adds accountability. And no matter how many good reasons to read the Bible I have in theory, it’s easy to let it slip in practice. But if I show up and haven’t been reading my Bible, I’ll have to answer to the group as to why I’m not able to share with them.

But more than anything, the blessing is in the fellowship as we reflect on what God is saying to us through his word in an ongoing, relational context that is deliberately set-up to foster fellowship.

This past Monday night one of the people in our group shared something with me that really challenged me. We were talking about why we sometimes get away from regular Bible-reading and he strongly admonished us, ‘Don’t be okay with not reading your Bible!’

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Why Should I Go to Church?

Why should I go to church?

It’s a question that every Christian has asked at some point or another. Whether it’s because we’re sick, tired, having a hard time seeing the point, or at relational odds with someone there, we’ve all asked the question.

There are, of course, many ways to answer. The simplest is that we’re commanded to (Heb 10.24-25) and since our lives are not our own, but were bought with a price, we must obey. But for the Christian who wants to reflect on it more, there is much more to be said.

A few years ago I heard Matt Schmucker from 9 Marks say that absence from church (in an ongoing or regular sense) is either a result of sin or a gateway to sin. I wholeheartedly agreed with him on an anecdotal level. This was true of all people that I’ve known. But why is that?

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Do You Know Tim Challies?

He’s the owner & proprietor of Challies.com, one of the world’s most popular and influential evangelical Christian blogs. He’s the author of several great books. He’s the guy who got the Discerning Reader up and running, as well as being one of the founders of Cruciform Press. He is a conference speaker and world-traveller. In short, Tim is famous.

But ‘Famous Tim’ is just one side of the man. And if ‘Famous Tim’ is the only side of him you know, then let me humbly suggest that you don’t know him all that well.

I know Tim as my friend. I’ve observed him living life as a husband and father. I’ve watched him serve as a pastor of a small, independent, not-famous church in Canada. I’ve watched him live his life before God. And the more I’ve gotten to know him, the more I thank God for him.

I’ve wanted to write this for some time now, because I’ve read a lot of things written about Tim in various seasons of his public ministry that are simply not true. But I didn’t want this to seem reactionary or defensive, so I’ve waited for a time that’s relatively controversy-free.

My intention in writing about Tim is not to glorify him or make him seem more perfect than he is. But I do want to make sure you know that the man behind the blog is a real man of God. He is not someone different when he is out of the public’s view. Continue reading

A Neglected Way to Love

Today I read 1 Thessalonians 4.11. My first thought was, ‘I wonder if this is the most forgotten-about command of the New Testament?’ This is how it reads:

… aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you…

How many church conflicts, how many rumours, how many hurt feelings would have been prevented if we listened to this command? How many times have we pursued busyness, noisiness, and in our boredomophobia-driven society pursued activity at all costs? And what is the net result? More stress, more tiredness, more strenuous relationships.

When I consider the cost of not trying to live quietly, of not minding my own affairs, and not being content to simply do my job, I see that it’s clear how Paul connects this to brotherly love. Immediately before these commands, Paul says,

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another… . But we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly…

In other words, this command to live quietly, to mind your own business, and to work hard at the job God has given you is an enactment of brotherly love. When you keep your nose out of someone else’s business, you’re loving them. When you are not a back-biter or a gossip, you are loving other people. When you stick to your job and stop being a busy-body (in the church and out of it), you are loving others.

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The Brotherhood of Servants & Stars

Yesterday I was able to add one more thing to the list of ‘Things I Never Learned in Seminary.’ Somehow our church had the opportunity to be involved in helping to put on the Toronto show for the Unashamed Tour. It was a blast to get a group of volunteers together and get a ‘behind the scenes look’ at how a show like this is produced.

Unexpected Privilege

Early on in the day I had the unexpected privilege getting to meet and chat with several of the artists. Fortunately for me, being as ignorant as I am, I didn’t know who most of the guys were who I was talking to. I introduced myself and we chatted, just like I would with anyone else.

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