Category Archives: Legacy

Four Seasons of Spiritual Formation

https://www.amazon.com/author/robert_davis_smart

Our identity, besides being one of the most precious things to prevent from theft, crisis, or loss, is extremely important to God. The Father has given his children an identity in Christ that will shape us on our journey to heaven. If in the process of identity formation we ignore what God says concerning our identity, then we may expect confusion in other seasons of spiritual formation. four-seasons-chart_print

Just after birth, a child is given an identity. Identity formation, however, is a longer process. When Jesus Christ was approximately thirty years of age the Father spoke of his identity at his baptism just before entering fully into his calling. In the same way, identity in Christ ought to precede our calling to Christ. It is at this important season of identity that Satan challenges each of us, as he did our Lord. The devil’s first attacks on our Lord were aimed at his identity: “If you are the Son of God.”

The evil trinity—the world, the flesh, and the devil—is seeking to kill and destroy us in each season of spiritual formation. In the spring they confuse our identity, in the summer our calling, in the autumn our intentionality, and in the winter our legacy. The world escorts us to the pit; the flesh entices us to fall in; and the devil pushes us over the edge. “The pit,” as it were, represents a dark and slimy collection of lies, condemning thoughts, and foolish strategies designed to confuse and distort our identity formation.

Start a spiritual formation group on your campus or in your church this Fall by ordering a book designed for each season. See the following link https://www.amazon.com/Robert-Davis-Smart/e/B005SXVJI6/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

An Identity Group is the first of four spiritual formation groups designed to shape us into the likeness of Jesus Christ. It assumes that you have to begin here before asking the next three major questions of the Christian life: Where’s my place (calling)? How do I steward all my gifts, resources, and efforts with intentionality in the light of eternity (intentionality)? What inheritance, testament, and benediction do I leave behind as I prepare to cross the river of death in order to gain eternity (legacy)?

Legacy from Christ

Allistair Begg writes: “In January of 1981, he invited me to speak at the Londonderry Young People’s Convention. Just what a man in his late seventies was doing as the chairman of such a gathering, you might well ask. The answer had to do with a particular ministry of his. He was the founder and leader of a boys’ Bible class called Crusaders, a weekly duty he fulfilled for fifty years. His mission statement was clear. He wanted every boy that came to class to have: A Bible in his hand, A Savior in his heart, and A Purpose in his life. Many boys had come to faith in Christ through the years as a result of his ministry, and not on account of T.S.’s athletic ability or dress sense or knowledge of contemporary music. He was devoid of all of that.
When I stayed as his guest for the week during which I spoke, I was introduced to what he referred to as his ‘rogues’ gallery.’ His sitting room had large windows, extremely high ceilings, and a central fireplace he kept stocked with coal. The furniture was plain and comfortable, and a large table over by the window was stacked with books and correspondence. And everywhere, pictures of his ‘rogues.’ Some were by this time successful surgeons. It had been one of “his boys” who had performed open-heart surgery on T.S. some years before. Others were schoolteachers, others in banking and commerce, a significant number in pastoral ministry, and all of them regularly in his prayers. Prior to my visit and certainly afterward, he had written to me and never failed to remind me that he remembered me ‘regularly at the best place.’
T.S. lived alone and had a housekeeper who came in regularly to take care of his domestic affairs. When she arrived on this particular morning, she was not met by the normal cheery smile and bright eyes. She found T.S. sprawled across his bed. He was fully dressed and had obviously begun his day as usual, because when others were called to help and they moved his body, they discovered that he had fallen on top of his prayer list. He had gone to heaven praying for his “rogues.” He could never have died that way had he not lived in such discipline. It is a matter of great concern to me that the varied opportunities of my life can be an excuse for neglecting the kind of routine that is clearly necessary for the maintenance of a meaningful walk with God.”
Begg, Alistair, Made For His Pleasure: Ten Benchmarks of a Vital Faith (Kindle Locations 583-603). (Chicago,IL: Moody Publishers, 2005). Kindle Edition.

 

Christian Identity Leans into Something Lasting Like “Planting Trees” by Andrew Peterson

IMG_0230https://youtu.be/5TM2Ju6vkRU

We chose the spot
We dug the hole
We laid the maples in the ground
To have and holdAs autumn falls
To winters sleep
We pray that somehow in the spring
The roots grow deep

And many years from now
Long after we are gone
These trees will spread their branches out
And bless the dawn, hmm

He took a plane
To Africa
He gathered up into his arms
An orphan son

So many years from now
Long after we are gone
This tree will spread its branches out
And bless the dawn

So sit down and write that letter
Sign up and join the fight
Sink in to all that matters
Step out into the light

Let go of all that’s passing
Lift up the least of these
Lean into something lasting
Planting trees, hmm, yeah

She rises up
As morning breaks
She moves among these rooms alone
Before we wake

And her heart is so full
It overflows
She waters us with love
And the children grow

So many years from now
Long after we are gone
These trees will spread their branches out
And bless the dawn

These trees will spread their branches out
And bless someone, hmm

Narrow is the Way that Leads to Life

Gauguin_-_D'ou_venons-nous_Que_sommes-nous_Ou_allons-nousWhere Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? is a painting by French artist Paul Gauguin. Gauguin inscribed the original French title in the upper left corner: D’où Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous. The painting was created in Tahiti, and is in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

This blog seeks to let the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament answer these questions,  though primarily “Who are we in Christ?” Jesus asks two questions; namely,  “Which person are you of the two?” and “Where are you going of the two places?” Your identity determines your destiny. The main question is one of identity.

At the end of His sermon on the mount (Matthew 7) He calls for a decision by setting a clear, uncompromising contrast between two identities; one enters the narrow path with a smaller crowd and ends up with life in the end. She bears good fruit and is authentic. She withstands the torrents of trials and death itself because she heard and put into practice Christ’s words. The other identity is that of one pretending to be some one they are not (a wolf in sheep’s clothing). She takes the broad path with the large crowd, bears bad fruit, and doesn’t put into practice the Gospel. She is not known by Christ, and at last she is like a house that ended in a big crash.

On the one hand, there are those who use God to get something from Him and others. On the other hand, there are those who receive Christ’s acceptance, forgiveness, and His righteousness. They get Christ, then use everything to love Him and others.

You must want and receive Jesus in exchange for everything else – your good works, your reputation, and yourself. For the saddest words of separation are spoken to those who say: “I lived did all these good things my whole life for your Name. Why don’t You accept me? Did we not . . .?” Jesus, nevertheless, said: “Depart from Me. I never knew you.”

Have you placed all your trust in Christ? Do you trust He lived a perfect life of goodness in your place? Do you trust that He paid the penalty you deserved by dying in your place? Do you trust He rose again and won the victory over death? Have you put His words into practice? Have you repented of your entitlement-mentality that Christ owes you something for your good works? Do you know He loves you? Lovers make great knowers.

O What a Legacy My Husband, and Your Father, has Left Us!

Jonathan Edwards’s daughter, Esther, describes how her father’s counsels were beneficial to her as an adult. She made a trip to visit his home and wrote:

“Last eve I had some free discourse with My Father on the great things that concern my best Interest—I opened my difficulties to him very freely and he freely advised and directed. The conversation has removed some distressing doubts that discouraged me much in my Christian warfare—He gave me some excellent directions to be observed in secret that tend to keep my soul near to God, as well as others to be observed in a more public way—What a mercy that I have such a Father! Such a Guide!”[1]

When Edwards died in March 1758, his wife, Sarah, wrote to their daughter Lucy:

“My very dear Child,

What shall I say? A holy and good God has covered us with a very dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands on our mouths! The Lord has done it. He has made me adore his goodness, that we had him so long. But my God lives; and he has my heart. O what a legacy my husband, and your father, has left us! We are all given to God; and there I am, and love to be.

Your ever affectionate mother,

Sarah Edwards”*

[1] Esther Edwards Burr, The Journal of Esther Edwards Burr, 1754-57, ed. Carol F. Karlsen and Laurie Crumpacker (New Have, CT: Yale University Press, 1984), 224.

*Works of Jonathan Edwards Online, vol. 32, Correspondence by, to, and about Edwards and His Family (Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University).

Calling Sons Out & Blessing Their Future

Good Words to My Five Sons. May this encourage you, too.

One: Arise from the battlefield and behold. Though death and wounds exist, you stand like warriors of old shouting victory with the sword of truth pointed to GOD Almighty. His last cry on the cross was a victory cry, it is your security in suffering. Morning has dawned in your life. Joy is going to flood into your soul like a pool of water in the wilderness. Pant after Him and His love. It shall be better than life and make His Presence distinguish you among all the other writers & teachers. You have suffered the loss of a daughter, and courageously carried her casket in front of a cloud of witnesses, leading us to sing a hymn. Your other daughters adore you, and your son looks to you for the fatherly blessing.

Two: You shall prosper & be mighty in the land. No weapon formed against you shall stand. You shall rejoice soon when morning comes with joy and your name all over it. You shall stand tall in your identity and be posted secure in your calling as a Gospel preacher. Fear not, GOD is with you. It SHALL come to pass. Shepherd the flock under your care – your wife and four little sheep.

Three: You shall prosper and be established in the land. You shall mount up and be established on firm ground. No one can stand against you when you will become God-hungry and humbly love well. Morning is come with joy and victory over mourning, weeping, & darkness in your life. Stay near Him whose Presence shall distinguish you as a father to your sons and soon-coming-daughter.

Four: The Lord is establishing you. Morning dawns with joy in your life. No more weeping, darkness, and night. It has ended. Soon you shall be fortified to enter more fully a age-old battle of generations and enjoy your inheritance. No one will be able to stand against you as you draw near, panting after God. His Presence alone is what will distinguish you among all the others. Fear not. See how God gave you pastoral ministry with a man of God, and there is much to learn.

Five: You shall prosper and be mighty in the land. No weapon formed against you shall prosper. God will establish the work He has begun in you.  A time is coming, soon, when Nehemiah 6:16 shall come to pass in your life. Indeed, this is happening now. See how God has raised you up at such a young age in that high tower of a work place. Walk humbly under God’s mighty Hand, and He shall exalt you to make much of Him in due time. You are pursuing a godly woman, and i delight in your masculinity.