The Proverbial Tweet

Twitter is a fascinating medium.  What are you thinking, in 140 words or less?  How could this possibly be worthwhile?!

One way that I’ve benefited from Twitter is the revival of the proverb.  Throughout my day, I receive little nuggets — some of it fool’s gold, some the real thing.  When my time is limited, it can give me something to chuckle at, chew on, pray for.  Greater minds probably don’t need these sorts of catalysts.  But I often do.

So, I’d like to periodically highlight some of my favorites.  Here are some recent ones that gave me pause:

@tomascol 8:59am Sept 4: Foolishness only labors when the stomach growls. Wisdom labors because it knows the stomach will growl-J Kitchen (Prov. 6:8)

@drmoore 2:17pm Sept 7: How will our neighbors hear us about the real, cosmic conspiracy when they see us constantly falling for silly pseudo-conspiracy theories?

@edstetzer 2:01pm Sept 9: “When you delegate tasks, you get followers. When you delegate authority, you develop leaders” Craig Groeschel #theNines

@joethorn 5:35pm Sept 9: trying to get people on mission who haven’t been transformed by the gospel is a fool’s errand. -Stetzer (via @mxbx)

@trevinwax about 11 hours ago: Deciding what not to do is just as important as deciding what to do.

@TonyReinke about 5 hours ago: E.M. Bounds: “The Gospel moves with slow and timid pace when the saints are not at their prayers early and late and long.”

Gospel Ministry: By Grace

Salvation in Jesus Christ is “by grace through faith, not of works” (Eph 2:8).  Left to myself, I would still be in rebellion against my Creator, deserving his holy wrath.  However, due to no merit of mine, Christ bore my judgment and I now stand under God’s eternal favor.  Even the good that I do is not mine but stems from Christ in me, a gift of grace.

This is clear from Scripture, basic to any faithful articulation of the Christian faith.  But is it clear from my life?

The theme “Unlikely” is really just my way to emphasize grace.  I am an Unlikely Christian because, left to myself, I would not be one.  Any reasonable person who truly knew me would not have predicted my conversion.  I was never a prime candidate for faithfulness.  I am one of those who needed an “extra miracle,” whatever that is.  The same is true of my other roles — husband, father, pastor, missionary.  Who in his right mind would have chosen me for these weighty tasks?  Only a fool.

But what if God is that fool?

1Cor. 1:20   Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.  22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,  23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,  24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

1Cor. 1:26   For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

Paul tells us that God purposely chooses the unlikeliest of people to carry His name and gospel forward because in doing so His grace and power is emphasized (over-against our weakness and inability).  In 2 Corinthians 4:7, Paul writes about the gospel and ministry, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”

This truth then shapes how Paul carries out gospel ministry.  Paul refuses to come to the Corinthians with “lofty speech or wisdom” but “in weakness and in fear and much trembling” (1 Cor 2:1-4).  We know from his letters that Paul can cut a mean argument, so why didn’t he match the false “super-apostles” with superior rhetoric?  Why does he cringe when asked for a letter of recommendation?

Paul takes tremendous care to align his practice with his proclamation, which means he goes out of his way to emphasize his weakness.  This is lost on much contemporary church ministry.  We want to be relevant, culturally-savvy, marked by operational excellence.  We read business books about quality control and marketing.  We take Myers-Briggs tests ad nauseum.

These emphases then trickle down to the pews, whose families are always put together nicely on Sunday morning and are always, no matter when you ask them, “doing well, thanks.”  We become afraid to confess specific sins, even though our gospel presentation includes Romans 3:23.  I don’t rest as well as my unbelieving neighbor, though I, not he, have entered Christ my rest.

These are only a few examples.  There are many more, because this is what us sinners do.  The gospel of grace is offensive to us; we want to imagine that we’ve earned our place.  Because of this, we must always be on guard.

Is God’s graciousness and power emphasized or clouded by your ministry practice?  Is the gospel proclaimed more clearly through our actions or does it become something else?

A New Name

As I said in my first post, I didn’t care for my first blog’s name.  I’ve been chewing on this one for awhile — first it was just cute, but slowly its meaning has expanded.  Below is the copy for my About page which explains myself.  In the coming weeks, I’ll elaborate on the theme and the gospel.

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You have stumbled upon the website of Dave Ainsworth.  The most important things about me: husband to Maggie, father to Shepherd, servant of and to Covenant Community Church in Pearland, Texas, ambassador of the gospel to the world, in thanks to my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, and to the glory of His Father and my Creator.  Should you stay around, my humble prayer is that everything else you might learn about me through this blog comports with these few all-important things.

That my efforts could even remotely align with my purposes, His purposes, is unbelievable.  That’s the reason for the blog name — Unlikely Texan.  I’m not just an unlikely Texan (though that I am!).  I am an unlikely husband, father, pastor, missionary.  If you knew where I’ve come from, the tortured paths my mind has followed, the thoughts and decisions I still struggle against, you’d think so too.

Yet, the Lord delights to use the unlikely to shame our best sense.  The Apostle Paul — himself once a murderous zealot — gloried in his weaknesses because in them Christ is shown strong.  In other words, as people get to know my utter inability (when, like Paul, I share it with them!), they begin to understand the super-ability of God in Jesus Christ.  They see that the gospel must be by grace, because only grace would include Dave Ainsworth in its fold and only grace could effect his change of heart.

So UNLIKELY is my theme.  In this blog, I will mostly connect readers with items that have encouraged me.  At times, I will offer reflections or observations.  In it all, I pray that I am made little of, others are made more of, and Christ is shown supreme.  To God Be The Glory.

Blessings,

Dave Ainsworth

A New Home

So, I’m abandoning my first blog, Written in a Forest, and starting up a new one.  Why?  A few reasons.  First, I regret the name.  Second, I like WordPress better.  Third, I’m undergoing a lot of other changes in the next weeks, so why not?

Maggie, Shepherd, and I are moving to Pearland, TX (south of Houston) in 10 days to be members of a new church plant, Covenant Community Church.  We will be joining Daniel and Joy Davis, Tim and Sarah Ganger, and a growing contingent of other Christians, modeling gospel community and mission, preaching repentance and faith to each other and our suburban neighbors.

I conceived this blog with that new role in mind.  I hope to be an encouragement to my church family and to others stationed in similar circumstances.  I hope to hone my thinking by placing it under the scrutiny of other faithful believers and careful thinkers.  (That means you can’t just disagree, you must comment!)  I hope to reflect the light of Jesus Christ onto what I read and observe, illuminating God’s sovereign work in the lives of others, exposing the effects of our fall into sin, encouraging evidences of grace in Christian hearts, and calling us back to his purposes in and through Jesus Christ. I hope all this is done with Christian grace, humility, and zeal.

I pray that I’m more consistent with this blog than the last.  I started out strong, sputtered on for a few months, and then fell off entirely with the birth of my son, Shepherd.  Last time I went for hare-speed.  Maybe now I’ll shoot for turtle.