A Rock In The Sock

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Hebrews‬ ‭12:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This morning as I made the way down the street for my morning run I was pestered by something in my shoe. It began as a little itch, something I just ran through trying to take my mind off of it. Then it became more annoying so I adjusted my shoe a bit hoping for relief. Then it was unbearable so I put my finger in my sock to find a small rock, a pebble, working like sandpaper on my heel as I ran the race that was set before me.

Immediately the comparison to sin that lingers and stays so close became abundantly clear and painful even. I suppose I could have continued on with the rock in my sock but it would have ruined the run. It would have dominated the experience and detracted from the purpose. I may have hobbled along, but there would have been no joy, no undistracted exertion.

This friends is us when we live with the little rocks of sin. Those things that have become routine. The behaviors, the thinking, the attitudes. They usually just start as an itch but become something that tries to burrow into the skin and wreak havoc.

These are the things we are to lay aside, give up on, remove from the “socks” of our lives. So that we may run. Live the abundant life we are meant for.

But the encouragement doesn’t stop in Hebrews with just running. It is running while “looking to Jesus” we are encouraged toward. The founder and perfecter of our faith that took on a cross to clear every “rock,” remove every weight of sin that clings so closely. And because he did that, for the joy of claiming you, you are now free to remove those pesky rocks from your socks.

Christian, there is no rock of sin that can condemn you in Christ. You are covered, and made to wear his righteousness. Now in him you are also empowered to lay aside sin. Notice it, own it, repent of it, and turn away from it. Discard the rocks.

This is for me and I think the Lord gave me a pebble to illustrate with frustrating clarity the distraction of those tightly clinging sins I have been trying to run through.

May we live to surrender those lesser things to the finished work of Christ. May we run looking to him.

Repentance

“We can only lay bare our sinful hearts when we are certain of receiving forgiveness…” Brennan Manning.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

“Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful…” Joel 2:13

You can be certain of your forgiveness in Christ. Come to him.

Ben Todd on Spiritual Disciplines

Preparing for a paper due in my prayer and spiritual disciplines class I decided to interview the only living Puritan I know! Ben Todd is a man of great wisdom and humility and I know I have learned a lot from him over the years and look forward to watching his ministry in days to come. Ben is a small group leader and mentor to men in Washington, DC and recently he had been speaking about spiritual disciplines and calling Christians to personal growth through them, for God’s glory.

Our conversation lasted over forty minute but here I give you the best 11 minutes!

The Fullness of God: Lobbying for the Discipline of High-Volume Scripture Memorization

Today’s post is by Ben Todd, a mid-twenties married man living in Washington, D.C. Ben leads mens bible studies and serves at a 2,000 person multi-site church. He is in his groove when challenging men to pursue godliness.

In speaking of scripture memorization I must firstly confess a bias. I am an unashamed Presbyterian and lover of Puritan thought to such an extent that John Knox himself may have cause to blush. This being the case, my love for the structured, governed, orderly, purposeful and disciplined things of our Christian faith is such that I can hardly contain my joy at wrapping myself in a structured program of study and spiritual exercise.

Biases aside, my hope in memorizing scripture is that someday those who know me will speak of me as Charles Spurgeon spoke of John Bunyun:

“He had studied…till his whole being was saturated with Scripture…Prick him anywhere; and you will find that his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his soul is full of the Word of God.”

In working out the discipline of scripture memorization I think there or some thoughts and fruits that can be shared with the hope that many more Christians might take up the Word as their own and come to know God as he presents Himself in his scriptures. Scripture memorization…

…Prevents Unfruitful and Likely Damaging Generalizations: Ranging anywhere from “[Insert famous theologian here] said that…” to “Doesn’t the Old Testament say that…”, this type of generalization is wholly unfruitful and is ultimately contributing to indistinct, unconvicting message that is commonly preached and believed today. Furthermore, inaccurate paraphrases of poorly remembered scriptures are not thoughts that are captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), but are more likely prideful, uncontrolled assertions that are not expressed in love. The Word can, should and will speak for itself if we submit ourselves to it.

…Convicts the Memorizer and Those with Whom the Memorizer Associates: When we submit ourselves to knowing God and His Law in its fullness we will naturally be convicted of our sin and be brought to our knees in repentance. Our response to God the Father, as known in the scriptures, can be nothing less. Our unavoidable humility in response to the Word will, in turn, infect those around us. They will know us by our fruits and by our truth, which will be completely distinct from the purported faith that we see around us.

…Reveals To Us the Fullness of God the Father and Dramatic Necessity of Christ the Son: Memorizing large portions of scripture shows us what traditional “memory verses” cannot. That is, the full and deliberate nature of God’s revelation of Himself in the scriptures and his story of redemptive history that defines our inevitable judgment by and reliance upon Christ Jesus for salvation. Our unfortunate tendency outside of the deliberate preaching, teaching and studying of the fullness of scripture is to twist the Gospel into many things that it is not. This can be traced to a misunderstanding of God himself and an intellectual and emotional disconnection from our desperate condition as sinners in light of His glory, which scripture desperately and clearly displays.

The specific method of memorization that I’ve begun using embraces and is inspired by the need to have our minds renewed by the fullness of the Word of God and I strongly recommend it. (Many thanks to Jeff for pointing it out to me and convicting me of its necessity) The method is described and justified more fully in “An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture” by Dr. Andrew Davis. Get after it.