we shall always be victorious

 

John Calvin
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I am reading “John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology,” and learning about John Calvin from some of the authors, pastors, and theologians I most respect. It still amazes me how words penned in the early 1500s could be so poignant today. When the Gospel is at the center, your message never wears out, I suppose.

I have been so encouraged as I grow to know a little more about this fascinating man. Most recently, I have been reading the chapter “The transforming work of the Spirit” by Thabiti Anyabwile.

I’m still carrying around the blessing of these words, quoted from Calvin’s original work.

“Hence we are furnished, as far as God knows to be expedient for us, with the gifts of the Spirit, which we lack by nature. By these fruits we may perceive that we are truly joined to God in perfect blessedness. Then, relying upon the power of the same Spirit, let us not doubt that we shall always be victorious over the devil, the world, and ever kind of harmful thing.”

John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, 2.15.5

Wow. I love that word furnished. We are furnished, as an empty house is with furniture, with the gifts of the Spirit. The gifts are IN us and they weren’t before. We were an empty house, except that God saw fit to give us what we did not have to be “truly joined to Him in perfect blessedness.”

Let us not doubt! God has FURNISHED us with the the power to be victorious. Always.

God always wins. Did you know that?

The other day, I was talking to a distraught student in my office who needed to make it through the day. From the look in her eyes, her 10th grade strength was failing and she needed back-up. I had the shortest counseling conversation on record, but I think I’ll be giving myself the same therapy. It went something like this:

“What is your only weapon against evil (bad days, grouchy people, sadness…)?”
(reluctantly)”God…?”
“No, wait, really. What is your only weapon?”
“God. The Bible.”
“Do you believe that?”
“Yes.”
“Do you really believe that?”
“Yes.”
“Okay, so you are going into battle right now and you’ve got your sword, the Bible. Are you protected?”
“I think so.”
“With what?”
“Armor of God.”
“So, you are going into battle with God’s armor as protection and God’s Word as your weapon.”
“Okay.”
“Is there any chance you will lose?”
“….No.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure. No chance.”
“Why?”
“Because!”
“Because God always wins.”

Off she went.

You can question my counseling techniques, I don’t mind at all. But, I will say that when she left I felt like God had just given me the same pep talk. It was not a feel-good message about mastering bullies or getting my own way.

It was a reminder that God defeats evil. Always. He hems us in, behind and beside and before and for eternity, in all His victory.

He is always victorious and He has furnished our human houses with gifts of the Spirit. We shall always be victorious over the devil, the world, and every other harmful kind of thing.

That is something beautiful. Evil doesn’t stand a chance.

let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

beginning again

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Wow. It’s hard to know how to begin. I didn’t write all summer, but I don’t feel bad about that. I never really do. There’s something about taking a break to live life and let the words drift in and out on the wind instead of flow from my fingertips. I spent some time putting pen to paper, but I even let that just be for a while.

What I DID do was enjoy the people who stood right in front of me. What a beautiful blessing it is to have community that builds us up, gives us new energy, and reminds us of the One who is responsible for anything good in this life.

I spent quiet mornings at the farm, drinking in newness of day. I passed time on the patio with my grandparents, listening to updates about neighbors and the bird family that just grew by three.

I ran the quaint streets of Atlantic and ate at my favorite Mexican restaurant. I played competitive nertz games with people who make joy bubble out in every direction and stayed up until 4 am debating politics and Christian living.

I barbecued homegrown steak with my parents on the East porch and talked about old times and the upcoming year. I spent beautiful time at my family reunion and then road-tripped for weddings in Chicago.

I picked up the biography of Bonhoeffer by Metaxas and rediscovered the biography of John Calvin. I watched some of my closest friends decide to love someone forever and I celebrated family every chance I got.

My summer was at the same time full and spaced out. It was a double-spaced, ten page paper on the most interesting topic imaginable and it never felt rushed.

And so, with that little prelude, I walk into this year with fresh eyes. All my excitement is bound up in the sincere decision to trust God in all things. In his grace, He makes every good work abound. If I could borrow a phrase from Mark Driscoll, I hope this year sees me working to the “glory of God and good of all people,” knowing that God is moving regardless.

If you are still confused about this outlook, the soundtrack to Peter Pan captures it pretty well.

and, as always, I’m setting out to

let love fly like crazy