Providence Church Blog A gospel-centered church in Austin, Tx


Archive for July, 2011

Contentment: “Do Not Covet”

Now that we have worked our way through the Ten Commandments, we see what Paul discovered in Romans 7, namely, that we are guilty: “For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness.” His use of the Tenth Commandment here is instructive. The issue is not that we are doing bad and need to do better. This commandment is not about a behavior problem. It is about a worship problem.

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Honest to God

In the last post, I said that we live for the good of others by being generous. Continuing in that vein, the 9th commandment teaches that we live for the good of others by being honest.

Just as we are made to have and care for things, we are also made for relationships. We are created in the image of a Trinitarian community (Genesis 1:26). Jesus prayed that we would be one, just as he and the Father are one (John 17). Still further, much of the imagery for the church is communal in nature: body, family, flock, a people.

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Generous God

Younger siblings usually go through a phase when they feel like they have to protect their world from the older siblings. My youngest used to worry about a food shortage. Whenever his older brother would start to scoop corn onto his plate, he would start yelling, “He’s taking all the corn! He’s taking all the corn!” I would have to calm him down and assure him that there would be enough corn to go around. I would explain, “Hey, buddy, even if we run out of corn, there is a grocery store around the corner. Daddy has access to more corn.” He would store up food in his cheeks like a squirrel. We would find food in his room. It took a while for him to trust that I would take care of him, and not let his brother have all the corn.

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Feedback

When my kid falls off his bike, he looks at me to determine how he should feel about it. If I let out a scream and run toward him, he will start crying. If I say, “Awesome wipeout, dude!” he will give me a thumbs-up. Kids are funny like that, and by funny I mean transparent.

When you have a conversation with someone or give a presentation, don’t you wonder how it went; that is, how you should feel about it? I do: Did I offend that person? Was that sermon any good? Could that meeting have been more effective? Is this counsel helpful? These questions point to my various insecurities, sure, but also to the need we all have for honest feedback.

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Murder & Adultery

I asked a friend last week how he was doing with the 6th and 7th Commandments: Do not murder; Do not commit adultery. He said he was good. I said, “okay,” but in a way that he knew it wasn’t okay. Then, as he removed his aviator sunglasses, he replied, “Well, I probably need to see this through a different lens. Maybe I should take off the aviators of cool and put on the goggles of God.”

The sixth and seventh commands prohibit murder and adultery, but we should not think of them as being just that, as if what God has in view here is simply stopping short of these things. Just because I have not taken someone’s life, or wife, does not mean I am at home with God when it comes to my relationships and sexuality. So how can we understand the full weight of these commandments?

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Sabbath Rest for a Redeemed People

As 21st Century Americans we are extremely restless – meaning it is very difficult for us to rest. Silence and inactivity often make us uncomfortable, so we reach for our cell phones to catch up on a Twitter or Facebook feed. Most of us can remotely work from anywhere, which means that we work everywhere – including in our homes and during our “free” time.

We don’t rest well, because we don’t trust God. We don’t trust him to meet our needs. We don’t trust him to give us an identity. We don’t trust him to fulfill us. So we overwork to provide for ourselves and to prove ourselves. We frantically pursue entertainment, leisure, and information to somehow satisfy our soul. At best this is exhausting; at worst, enslaving.

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Rock Bottom

When a film strikes a chord in your soul, you have to figure out why. Chances are there is a voice deep inside you that needs to be heard. When two films strike the same chord, you have to blog about it. The first movie was Everything Must Go, a story about a man whose life is falling apart. In a single day…

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The Kind of Relationship God Wants

The heart of Deuteronomy is that God wants a covenant relationship with his people, similar to a marriage covenant. And in that sense, the Ten Commandments are less like rules, and more like vows. We are committing to one God, to love him, and to live in such a way that honors him. That’s essentially the first three commandments.

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The God Behind the Law

Two weeks ago my neighbor gave me a book called The Year of Living Biblically for my birthday. In the book, the author (A.J. Jacobs) tries to follow all the laws and rules of the Bible as literally as possible for a year. He tries to follow obvious laws like not lying and not coveting. But he also attempts to follow more obscure laws like not wearing clothes made of mixed fibers and dwelling in a hut for a time. Jacobs makes an insightful point about what seems to be one of the biggest mysteries of the Bible: “How can these ethically advanced rules and these bizarre decrees be found in the same book? And not just the same book. Sometimes the same page. The prohibition against mixing wool and linen comes right after the command to love your neighbor. It’s not like the Bible has a section called, ‘And Now for Some Crazy Laws.’ They’re all jumbled up like a chopped salad.”

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Remembering God

A common frustration is that everything seems to take longer than it should. There are the obvious culprits: home improvement projects and anything related to the DMV. But these things only point to the reality that much of life is like this. Why am I still struggling with the same temptations? How many times am I going to say the same thing to my kids? Will my circumstances ever change?

If anyone ever knew the frustration of things taking longer than they should, it was the nation of Israel on the plains of Moab. In the opening verses of Deuteronomy, we find out that they are in the fortieth year of an eleven-day journey. What? Something has gone terribly wrong!

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