Thursday, October 30, 2008

Voice of the Martyrs






Dear Friend,

This is the busiest time of the year for the wonderful people who work in the VOM mail shop. Each month they package and send hundreds of thousands of newsletters to our faithful readers who read those newsletters, pray for and minister to our persecuted brothers and sisters.

During the insertion process for our November newsletter, some newsletter envelopes went out without the special year-end resource supplement. These books and materials assist you to learn and tell the stories of the persecuted church.


Rather than wait another month before many of you see these resources–with special year-end prices and new products–I wanted to get them to you electronically. Please CLICK HERE to see the products featured in the November newsletter. You can review each product on this page, and then link directly to our online bookstore to place your order.

Or if you prefer, you can use the order card included with your newsletter or order by phone by calling toll free, 1-800-747-0085.

One of the products featured is VOM’s 2009 Prayer Calendar, which will help you (or those on your Christmas gift list) pray for the persecuted church throughout the year.

For those in bonds,




Tom White Executive Director

Remembering Seth

This Youtube was just sent to me. A good friend created it for the family.



Thank you Heavenly Father for taking Seth into your loving arms.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Nucleus of Civilization

(by John MacArthur)

According to the Bible, God himself ordained the family as the basic building block of human society, because He deemed it "not good that man should be alone" (Genesis 2:18). That verse stands out starkly in the biblical creation narrative, because as Scripture describes the successive days of the creation week, the text punctuates each stage of creation with the words, "God saw that it was good" (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, italics added). The goodness of creation emerges as the main theme of Genesis 1, and the statement "God saw that it was good" is repeated again and again, like the refrain after each stanza of a lengthy song. Then finally, after the sixth day of creation, we're told with emphasis, "God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good" (italics added).

But then Genesis 2:18 takes us back to the end of day six and reveals that just before God ended His creative work, just one thing was left that was "not good." Every aspect of the entire universe was finished. Each galaxy, star, planet, rock, grain of sand, and tiny molecule was in place. All the species of living things had been created. Adam had already given "names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field" (v. 20). But there was still one glaring unfinished aspect of creation: "For Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him" (v. 20). Adam was alone, and in need of a suitable mate. Therefore God's final act of creation on day six--the crowning step that made everything in the universe perfect--was accomplished by the forming of Eve from Adam's rib. Then "He brought her to the man" (Genesis 2:22).

By that act, God established the family for all time. The Genesis narrative says, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (v. 24). Jesus quoted that verse in Matthew 19:5 to underscore the sanctity and permanence of marriage as an institution. The same verse is quoted practically every time two believers are united in a Christian marriage ceremony. It is a reminder that marriage and the family are ordained by God and therefore sacred in His sight.

So it is no mere accident of history that family relationships have always been the very nucleus of all human civilization. According to Scripture, that is precisely the way God designed it to be. And therefore, if the family crumbles as an institution, all of civilization will ultimately crumble along with it.

Over the past few generations, we have seen that destructive process taking place before our eyes. It seems contemporary secular society has declared war on the family. Casual sex is expected. Divorce is epidemic. Marriage itself is in decline, as multitudes of men and women have decided it's preferable to live together without making a covenant or formally constituting a family. Abortion is a worldwide plague. Juvenile delinquency is rampant, and many parents have deliberately abandoned their roles of authority in the family. On the other hand, child abuse in many forms is escalating. Modern and postmodern philosophies have attacked the traditional roles of men and women within the family. Special interest groups and even government agencies seem bent on the dissolution of the traditional family, advocating the normalization of homosexuality, same-sex "marriage," and (in some cultures nowadays) sterilization programs. Divorce has been made easy, tax laws penalize marriage, and government welfare rewards childbirth outside of wedlock. All those trends (and many more like them) are direct attacks on the sanctity of the family.

These days whenever families are portrayed in films, television dramas, or sitcoms, they are almost always caricatured as grossly dysfunctional. Someone recently pointed out that the only television "family" who regularly attend church together are "The Simpsons"--and they are cartoon exaggerations deliberately saddled with the worst imaginable traits, designed mainly to mock and malign both church and family. It's no joke, though. A relentless parade of similarly dysfunctional assortments of people assaults us on television and in the movies. Hollywood has defined a broad new meaning for the word family.

Meanwhile, traditional nuclear families with a strong, reliable father and a mother whose priorities are in the home have been banished from popular culture, made to feel as if they were the caricature.

Although many Christian leaders have been passionately voicing concerns about the dissolution of the family for decades, things have grown steadily worse, not better, in society at large. Secular social commentators have lately begun to claim that the traditional nuclear family is no longer even "realistic." An article published not long ago by the on-line magazine Salon said this: "The 'ideal' American family--a father and a mother, bound to each other by legal marriage, raising children bound to them by biology--is a stubborn relic, a national symbol that has yet to be retired as threadbare and somewhat unrealistic." [1] The nuclear family simply won't work in 21st-century society, according to many of these self-styled "experts."

I know those voices are wrong, however, because I have witnessed literally thousands of parents in our church who have put into practice what the Bible teaches about the family, and they and their families have been greatly blessed for it.

As society continues its mad quest to eliminate the family, and as our whole culture therefore unravels more and more, it becomes more important than ever for Christians to understand what the Bible teaches about the family, and to put it into practice in our homes. It may well be that the example we set before the world through strong homes and healthy families will in the long run be one of the most powerful, attractive, and living proofs that when the Bible speaks, it speaks with the authority of the God who created us--and whose design for the family is perfect.

[1] . Amy Benfer, "The nuclear family takes a hit" (7 Jun 2001), Salon.com.
http://www.gty.org/Resources/Articles/663

Suffering for Christ


(by C.J. Mahaney)

What constitutes suffering for the name of Christ? Often we recall the most severe examples of suffering—Stephen crying out to the Lord as enraged Jewish leaders hurled rocks at his body; Paul and Silas with feet shackled to a Philippian prison, still feeling the pain of their earlier beating; Jim Elliot and his four missionary friends rushed by armed Huaorani Indians. These are all graphic examples of Christians enduring great sacrifices for the advance of the gospel.

Scripture teaches (even promises) that all Christians will suffer, but these graphic examples are not the norm for faithful Christians in the West today. So what does suffering for the name of Christ look like in twenty-first century America?


During one panel discussion at the Together for the Gospel conference, Ligon Duncan and I interviewed our friend John Piper on this issue.
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Ligon Duncan: John, you have done a pretty extended exposition on kinds of suffering, available on the Desiring God website. You have done it in different forms. You are addressing this very question that, that suffering just means taking a bullet or getting your head hacked off. You make a great point in that message about how any kind of suffering can become suffering for Christ if you will embrace it that way.


John Piper: If you pick a text on suffering and you try to apply it to cancer, when it is dealing with persecution, a lot of people will say, “I don’t think that applies to me, because that is really applying to getting suffering from somebody hurting you or saying something evil.” So I have developed an argument: All suffering that a Christian endures in the path of obedience is suffering with Christ and for Christ (though not in the same way).


And there are a couple of reasons for that.


One is that in suffering, the temptation is the same whether it is coming from cancer or slander. And the temptation is to say, “God is not good and it is not worth serving him, and escaping from this suffering in some sinful way is to be preferred.” Those are the same. And so the real battle is the same, whether it is coming from a physical thing or another.


Secondly, I don’t think historically you can draw a line between suffering from persecution and physical suffering. Just try to imagine a particular kind of Pauline persecution, like being whipped 39 lashes, five times (2 Corinthians 11:24). Well, let’s just take the third time. You can imagine what his back must have looked like—39 times five is a lot—and it healed five times. So the third time his back is turned into jelly again.


Now they don’t know anything about antibiotics. When they are done with him, they throw him on the floor and his back is now covered with dirt. What happens when your back is lacerated and it is covered with dirt? I’ll tell you what happens: infection happens. What happens when you get an infection? Fever happens.


Now which is the physical suffering here and which is the persecution suffering? Where are you going to draw that line between the fever and the lashes? Which is why I say that any fever experienced in the path of obedience—getting my sermon ready, making hard calls, staying up late with the suicide situation, and not enough rest and I have got this awful sore throat—tell me these are not the same suffering as being criticized for your ministry. It is the same essential suffering.


And so I think I can develop textual and thoughtful arguments for why almost all texts on suffering can help our people, whether their pain is coming from a difficult marriage, coming from slander, coming from cancer, or coming from wherever.


The issue is in all suffering, when we trust him and keep trusting him, we will find some evidences of his sovereign mercy toward me. And the source of it is a very minor part when it comes to the real battle down here of “Will I trust him? Will I hold on to him or not?”


C.J. Mahaney: Knowing you, John, and knowing your church, you have devoted much time to addressing the topic of suffering and to preparing your church for suffering. Why and how would you recommend that local pastors here do the same?


JP: Well, the why is because the Bible promises, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22, ESV). It is a given that to come to Jesus is to compound your suffering, not minimize your suffering. Certain kinds of sufferings get minimized. The suffering that comes from drunkenness will probably go down. So don’t hear me saying nothing changes or is beneficial. That is not true. There are amazing releases for conscience. A lot of psychological things will improve, but others will get worse.


So, if you are now in a marriage where one of you is a believer and one is not, that is this sort of thing. They will suffer.


And the second is because you see it out there. You see the little Down-syndrome kids, and you see the people in the wheelchair, and you see the painful marriages that are out there. You see it, and you either are going to just ignore it, or you are going to give them something to help.


Third, I don’t think Christ is glorified anywhere more than when suffering people rejoice in him as their treasure. If everything is going rosy for all my people, the possibilities of us making a name for Jesus in the city is smaller than if things are going hard for our folks. Then the possibility of making a name for Jesus is greater. What the world wants to see is not for you to tell them, “Jesus makes things go well for me.” Things are going well for them, too, probably better than for you, and it is money and doctors that are doing it for them. So that argument has teeny-weeny effectiveness.


Rather, when neighbors know that the baby in your womb has a liver outside his body, no spinal column, and you have carried this baby to the end and they watch you, the possibilities of making much of Jesus are staggering.


Not many people see life that way. My job as a preacher is to help that mom, way before the pregnancy, get ready for it so that she has some resources. And one of the most satisfying things in ministry, guys, is to do this long enough so that you get a steady stream of testimonies that come to you at funerals and in hospitals and other places where a mom or a son or a relative just takes you by the hand and says, “So glad we have been at Bethlehem. We would be insane if we didn’t have a big God, if we didn’t have a strong God, if we didn’t have a sovereign God, if we didn’t have a holy God.”


I love those testimonies and I get a lot of mileage of late-night work out of testimonies like that, and they are pretty common stream.


We have got a lot of strong women at our church. They bear a lot of things. They endure pain through marriages and through kids that are disabled…Strong women are magnificent testimonies to Christ because, if they are complementarian, they are combining things the world can’t explain. They are combining a sweet, tender, kind, loving, submissive, feminine beauty with this massive steel in their backs and theology in their brains.

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Listen to the T4G panel discussion here.

Thinking Good About Him

(by Carolyn Mahaney)

As wives, we frequently face situations where we are tempted to think harsh and critical thoughts about our husbands. Sometimes we are more inclined to concentrate on what our husbands are doing wrong than what they are doing right. We are more aware of their deficiencies than areas where they excel. But if we submit to these temptations they will only dampen any desire to do them good.

In her book Love Has a Price Tag, Elisabeth Elliot includes some very good counsel from her husband for wives:


“A wife, if she is very generous, may allow that her husband lives up to perhaps eighty percent of her expectations. There is always the other twenty percent that she would like to change, and she may chip away at it for the whole of their married life without reducing it by very much. She may, on the other hand, simply decide to enjoy the eighty percent, and both of them will be happy.”


The apostle Paul understood the influence of people’s thoughts and feelings on their behavior. He exhorted the Philippians in this way: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worth of praise, think about these things” (Phil 4:8).

As we choose to focus on our husbands’ many commendable qualities—to enjoy the “eighty percent”, we’ll be amazed. We’ll grow in our eagerness to encourage, serve and love them—to do them good all our days.

Posted by Carolyn Mahaney on October 24, 2008 at 04:08 PM in Marriage



Girl Talk is also doing a series this week on blessing your husband. Please check out some of the suggestions at http://www.girltalk.blogs.com/ and show your husband how much you love him!!!

Guard Your Heart, Don't Suffocate It

(by Tyler Kenney)

“Guard your heart” is a good command. That’s because it’s biblical:

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

In its context, this verse suggests that keeping—or guarding—your heart means to retain wise words and resist wicked desires. But I’m afraid some people—ahem, me, too often—use it to justify being cowardly or cold instead of loving others, because we think that “guard your heart” means “don’t get hurt.”

C. S. Lewis provides the necessary rebuke:
Of all arguments against love none makes so strong an appeal to my nature as “Careful! This might lead you to suffering.”

To my nature, my temperament, yes. Not to my conscience. When I respond to that appeal I seem to myself to be a thousand miles away from Christ. If I am sure of anything I am sure that His teaching was never meant to confirm my congenital preference for safe investments and limited liabilities.…

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell. (From The Four Loves, as found in The Inspirational Writings of C.S. Lewis, 278-279.)

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org.

http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/1467_Guard_Your_Heart_Dont_Suffocate_It/

Monday, October 27, 2008

Let Christians Vote As Though They Were Not Voting

(By John Piper)

Read this article on [the Desiring God] website.

Voting is like marrying and crying and laughing and buying. We should do it, but only as if we were not doing it. That’s because “the present form of this world is passing away” and, in God’s eyes, “the time has grown very short.” Here’s the way Paul puts it:

The appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away. (1 Corinthians 7:29-31)

Let’s take these one at a time and compare them to voting.

1. “Let those who have wives live as though they had none.”

This doesn’t mean move out of the house, don’t have sex, and don’t call Honey. Earlier in this chapter Paul says, “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights” (1 Corinthians 7:3). He also says to love her the way Christ loved the church, leading and providing and protecting (Ephesians 5:25-30). It means this: Marriage is momentary. It’s over at death, and there is no marriage in the resurrection. Wives and husbands are second priorities, not first. Christ is first. Marriage is for making much of him.

It means: If she is exquisitely desirable, beware of desiring her more than Christ. And if she is deeply disappointing, beware of being hurt too much. This is temporary—only a brief lifetime. Then comes the never-disappointing life which is life indeed.

So it is with voting. We should do it. But only as if we were not doing it. Its outcomes do not give us the greatest joy when they go our way, and they do not demoralize us when they don’t. Political life is for making much of Christ whether the world falls apart or holds together.

2. “Let those who mourn [do so] as though they were not mourning.”

Christians mourn with real, deep, painful mourning, especially over losses—loss of those we love, loss of health, loss of a dream. These losses hurt. We cry when we are hurt. But we cry as though not crying. We mourn knowing we have not lost something so valuable we cannot rejoice in our mourning. Our losses do not incapacitate us. They do not blind us to the possibility of a fruitful future serving Christ. The Lord gives and takes away. But he remains blessed. And we remain hopeful in our mourning.

So it is with voting. There are losses. We mourn. But not as those who have no hope. We vote and we lose, or we vote and we win. In either case, we win or lose as if we were not winning or losing. Our expectations and frustrations are modest. The best this world can offer is short and small. The worst it can offer has been predicted in the book of Revelation. And no vote will hold it back. In the short run, Christians lose (Revelation 13:7). In the long run, we win (21:4).

3. “Let those who rejoice [do so] as though they were not rejoicing.”

Christians rejoice in health (James 5:13) and in sickness (James 1:2). There are a thousand good and perfect things that come down from God that call forth the feeling of happiness. Beautiful weather. Good friends who want to spend time with us. Delicious food and someone to share it with. A successful plan. A person helped by our efforts.

But none of these good and beautiful things can satisfy our soul. Even the best cannot replace what we were made for, namely, the full experience of the risen Christ (John 17:24). Even fellowship with him here is not the final and best gift. There is more of him to have after we die (Philippians 1:21-23)—and even more after the resurrection. The best experiences here are foretastes. The best sights of glory are through a mirror dimly. The joy that rises from these previews does not and should not rise to the level of the hope of glory. These pleasures will one day be as though they were not. So we rejoice remembering this joy is a foretaste, and will be replaced by a vastly better joy.

So it is with voting. There are joys. The very act of voting is a joyful statement that we are not under a tyrant. And there may be happy victories. But the best government we get is a foreshadowing. Peace and justice are approximated now. They will be perfect when Christ comes. So our joy is modest. Our triumphs are short-lived—and shot through with imperfection. So we vote as though not voting.

4. “Let those who buy [do so] as though they had no goods.”

Let Christians keep on buying while this age lasts. Christianity is not withdrawal from business. We are involved, but as though not involved. Business simply does not have the weight in our hearts that it has for many. All our getting and all our having in this world is getting and having things that are not ultimately important. Our car, our house, our books, our computers, our heirlooms—we possess them with a loose grip. If they are taken away, we say that in a sense we did not have them. We are not here to possess. We are here to lay up treasures in heaven.

This world matters. But it is not ultimate. It is the stage for living in such a way to show that this world is not our God, but that Christ is our God. It is the stage for using the world to show that Christ is more precious than the world.

So it is with voting. We do not withdraw. We are involved—but as if not involved. Politics does not have ultimate weight for us. It is one more stage for acting out the truth that Christ, and not politics, is supreme.

5. “Let those who deal with the world [do so] as though they had no dealings with it.”

Christians should deal with the world. This world is here to be used. Dealt with. There is no avoiding it. Not to deal with it is to deal with it that way. Not to weed your garden is to cultivate a weedy garden. Not to wear a coat in Minnesota is to freeze—to deal with the cold that way. Not to stop when the light is red is to spend your money on fines or hospital bills and deal with the world that way. We must deal with the world.

But as we deal with it, we don’t give it our fullest attention. We don’t ascribe to the world the greatest status. There are unseen things that are vastly more precious than the world. We use the world without offering it our whole soul. We may work with all our might when dealing with the world, but the full passions of our heart will be attached to something higher—Godward purposes. We use the world, but not as an end in itself. It is a means. We deal with the world in order to make much of Christ.

So it is with voting. We deal with the system. We deal with the news. We deal with the candidates. We deal with the issues. But we deal with it all as if not dealing with it. It does not have our fullest attention. It is not the great thing in our lives. Christ is. And Christ will be ruling over his people with perfect supremacy no matter who is elected and no matter what government stands or falls. So we vote as though not voting.

By all means vote. But remember: “The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17).

Voting with you, as though not voting,
Pastor John

Halloween

Please click on the link below to hear a message by Pastor Jim Murphy (First Baptist Church) in Johnson City, NY explaining the history and customs of Halloween and the impact it has had on our culture.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Take Up Your Cross

Give not into the darkness of the night.
Illuminate thy world with God’s pure light.

Deceive desolation with exhaled breath.
Do not give freely to the lust for death.

Live! Live forever where the truth is found.

Discard the dark and grasp the light of morn.
From a lost sinner salvation is born,

and stretches its wings into the grace of day.
Beautifully untouched as it flies away,

to reside in purity forever.

Rejoice for our Father is ever near.
The faintest sigh of our breath He can hear.

For peace is only a heartbeat away.
Take up your cross and follow Christ today.

Dare to Be like Daniel

(by John MacArthur)

No one would argue that we live in a world of compromise. In fact, compromise is often touted as a virtue; it’s diplomatic and reasonable. On the other hand, those who hold fast their integrity are viewed as difficult, hard-nosed, and unconcerned about the common good. You can understand how the world thinks that way, but shouldn’t Christians be different?

Unfortunately, too many believers worry about what people will think, say, or do if they take a stand on godly principles. So instead, they compromise their convictions or maintain them under the cover of darkness. If you’re one of those faint-hearted Christians, or if you know people who are, I’d like to encourage you to take a lesson from the life of one man, a man with a backbone.

The Test of Integrity

Following his first invasion of Judah and siege of Jerusalem in 606 B. C., King Nebuchadnezzar took hostage dozens of quality Jewish youths (who were probably in their teenage years) to help ensure the success of his long-range plans for world dominance. One of those youths was especially destined for greatness, and today his name is synonymous with integrity and an uncompromising spirit. His name is Daniel.

It wasn’t captivity that tested Daniel’s integrity, it was privilege. When the king ordered his chief official, Ashpenaz, to choose from among the Israelites, he sought youths with certain qualities. They were to be without defect, good looking, “showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge,” with the ability to serve in the king’s court (Dan. 1:4). They were to receive privileged instruction for privileged positions.

The king ordered Ashpenaz “to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans” including mathematics, astronomy, natural history, agriculture, and architecture (Dan. 1:4). They were to eat the king’s food and drink the king’s wine, and after three years, they were to have a guaranteed position in the king’s personal service. I doubt the other exiles were getting along as well.

Now you say, “Privilege, education, good food and drink, one of the most sought after jobs in the kingdom—who could have a problem with that?” Daniel.

Daniel didn’t argue with the education, the training program, and the future in the king’s court. He didn’t even balk when Ashpenaz named him Belteshazzar, after a Chaldean god. Daniel drew the line where the Scripture did—he wouldn’t eat the king’s food or drink the king’s drink.

“But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank” (Dan. 1:8). Those enticing morsels and vintage wines—perks of the king’s service—had been ritually dedicated to Babylon’s false gods. What’s more, eating food prepared to Babylonian standards was likely to put the young exiles in violation of God’s laws concerning unclean foods (cf. Lev. 7:23-27; Lev. 11).

Daniel wanted no participation in any pagan feast, even to the slightest degree. That would be a form of idolatry that would provoke the wrath of a jealous God (Ex. 20:4-5). His decision, though immediately dealing with food and wine, was ultimately a decision about who he worshiped.

The Results of Integrity

Daniel’s decision constitutes a basic part of genuine integrity and the uncompromising life: you must draw lines where Scripture draws them. If the truth of God’s Word opposes the world’s wisdom on a certain issue, you must align yourself with God’s Word.

The more you read about and analyze the life of Daniel, the more clearly his personal integrity comes into focus. His uncompromising lifestyle stands in sharp contrast to the way many believers live out their convictions. Many Christians tend to waver and offer ambiguous explanations for abstaining from certain secular activities. But that wasn’t how Daniel approached the opportunity to state his convictions.

Unashamed Boldness – If Daniel wanted to abstain from eating and drinking what the king provided, he could have gone about it a number of ways. He could have thrown it away when no one was looking and sneaked other food from the kitchen; he could have made arrangements with the kitchen staff; he could have started a vegetable garden out back. But Daniel, having made up his mind, chose the route of open boldness. “He sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself” (Dan. 1:8). He was respectful, but unbending. That’s called courage.

Unearthly Protection – Daniel was in a foreign country, at the very heart of the empire that had just destroyed his homeland. And yet, “God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials” (Dan. 1:9). He proved the truth of Proverbs 16:7: “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Don’t compromise and forfeit God’s protection. Stand firm in obedience to God’s Word and trust Him—He’ll take care of you.

Unhindered Persistence – In his boldness, Daniel didn’t hesitate to go right to the top. But when Ashpenaz feared the forfeiture of his head for granting the special menu, Daniel was undeterred. He appealed to a lower-ranking overseer who monitored him–presumably a man who would not be as afraid of Nebuchadnezzar since he didn’t report directly to the king. Daniel showed another vital trait of integrity: persistence in doing what is right.

Unblemished Faith – When Daniel sought permission to go on a water and vegetable diet, he demonstrated unwavering faith in God. He said, “Please test your servants for ten days … then let our appearance be observed in your presence and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king’s choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see” (Dan. 1:12-13). Daniel did what was right, and trusted God for the results, no matter what. In this case, God caused Daniel to look healthier than all the other youths (Dan. 1:15).

If it had turned out that Daniel’s appearance failed the overseer’s scrutiny, I believe he would have trusted God without wavering, maintained an uncompromising lifestyle, and humbly accepted the consequences. I also believe that all true Christians will show the same fortitude in the midst of trials.

If you’ve fallen into a pattern of compromise, confess it as sin to the Lord. Repent and look at Daniel as an example of unwavering integrity. Then seek the Lord’s help to live like he did. You must resolutely set your heart as Daniel did to fear the Lord, and the Lord alone. Borrow a little backbone from him, and you’ll live your life with integrity before God.

Today’s Post Adapted from The Power of Integrity (Crossway, 1997).
Posted in Spiritual Growth

Thursday, October 23, 2008

When I Don't Want to Do Him Good

(by Carolyn Mahaney)

We’ve considered ways to do our husbands good (with more great ideas sent in by the hour—keep ‘em comin’ ladies!); but we must also pay attention to what hinders us from doing our husband good. In Feminine Appeal I recount a time, early in my marriage, when I discovered a hindrance to loving my husband.

During my courtship with C.J., he had multiple speaking engagements in the local central Florida area. We were both desperate to be together; so as much as possible I would accompany him to these meetings. Before long I began to notice an unusual pattern: Mealtime would come and go, and C.J., preoccupied with ministering to people, would completely forget to eat. What’s more, it didn’t occur to him that I might be hungry! However, I didn’t mind all that much. I so enjoyed his company that I was easily able to ignore my hunger pangs.

Then we got married. We traveled often during our first year of marriage, and, not surprisingly, eating continued to remain a low priority for C.J. But now I began to grow resentful whenever we missed a meal. He’s not thinking about me. He’s more concerned about his ministry than he is about my needs. As these thoughts simmered, the loving feelings I felt for my husband turned to vengeful feelings, and these vengeful feelings led to angry reactions.

Where did all the love go?

The answer is very simple: sin destroyed my tender love, and with it, my desire to do my husband good. C.J. hadn’t changed. He wasn’t behaving any differently than before we were married. He certainly didn’t have evil motives—not that this would have justified my anger. But instead of being patient with him as he learned to care for a wife, instead of being happy to serve him as he cared for others, I began to respond with bitterness and resentment.

If we find that our desire to do our husband good is waning or has subsided altogether, then we do not need to look any further than our own hearts. Where sin is present, our eagerness to serve dissipates. Anger, bitterness, criticism, pride, selfishness, fear, laziness—all vigorously oppose our desire and efforts to do our husband good.

So if you find a lack of desire to do your husband good today, ask God to reveal what sin may be hindering that desire. He is eager to grant you the gift of repentance and to change your heart toward your husband!

Posted by Carolyn Mahaney on October 23, 2008 at 02:22 PM in Marriage
http://girltalk.blogs.com/girltalk/2008/10/hindrances-to-d.html

Closing Prayer of Spectacular Sins

(by John Piper)

When I got my copy of Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ a few weeks ago, I took it to my prayer bench, knelt down, and prayed the closing prayer printed on pages 108-110.

I thought you might be willing to join me in praying this.

A Closing Prayer

Gracious and glorious Father,
because you are rich in mercy,
and great in love,
and sovereign in grace,
we ask that you would make this little book a window onto the panorama of your glory,
and a skylight to your supremacy in all things.

By the truth-loving power of your Holy Spirit grant that the glass pane would be clean—
that what is faithful to your word would be confirmed,
and what is not would be forgiven, not confusing.
We ask that your cloud-banishing illumination would be given to our minds,
and that spiritual understanding would fill our hearts,
and that according to the command of your apostle,
we would grow in the grace and knowledge
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

May we see the spectacular sins of the world
as horrible as they are. And may we see the holiness of God
as pure as it is.
And may we see the rule of God over the sin of man
as righteous as it is.
And thus grant the steel of ultimate reality
to strengthen the spine of our faith,
and sweeten our lips for the bruised heart.

Put the ballast of biblical truth
in the belly of our little boats,
lest the crashing waves of calamity
in these changing times
cause us to capsize in the sea of trouble.

And according to your apostle’s warning,
forbid that the increase of our knowledge
would cause the increase of our pride.
Rather, O God of infinite wisdom,
reveal, with all our understanding,
the unfathomable sinfulness of our hearts without Christ,
and the infinitesimal smallness of our strength
in comparison to yours,
and the absolute dependence of our life on you,
and the unfathomable depths of your judgments,
and how dim is the mirror in which we see.

Grant to our minds and hearts
new and deeper capacities to see and savor
the glories of Jesus Christ.
With every new glimpse of his glory in your word,
let there awaken new affections in our hearts.
Ignite our souls to treasure Christ in a way that
destroys our sinful lusts
and delights the deepest recesses of our being
and displays his truth and beauty
to a world that does not know
that this is what it needs more than anything.
And from this all-satisfying treasuring of Christ
may there flow a liberation from selfishness,
and a triumph over bitterness and anger,
and a freedom from worry and fear,
and victory over depression and discouragement,
and the severing of every root of sensual lust.

All this freedom, Lord, we seek for the sake of love.
Grant that our contentment in Christ would be a
dissatisfied contentment,
eager to expand by including others.
Grant that the joy of the Lord would not be a solitary joy,
but the strength to sacrifice
for the good of others,
even those who hate us.
May brokenhearted boldness
and contrite courage
attend all our deeds of compassion
and all our commendations of Christ to a lost world.
Awaken in us tender affections
for those who hurt,
and self-forgetful attentiveness
for those in our presence.

And in this treasuring of Christ for his supreme glory
and this overflowing love for others,
may Jesus be exalted above all things—
honored, admired, adored, esteemed, enjoyed,
praised, extolled, thanked, and worshiped.
May our light shine in this world
so that people see you in our sacrificial deeds of love
and our uncompromising words of truth
and give glory to your hallowed name,
Father.

Through Jesus Christ,
your Son,
Amen.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org.

http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/1461_Closing_Prayer_of_Spectacular_Sins/

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

4th Annual Writer's Digest Competition

Writer's Digest has announced their fourth annual Poetry contest and so I am off to try and write that award winning poem. With the first place prize being $500 I know a great cause to which that money can go!!! Even second ($250) or third ($100) place would be great for this cause! ...But only if it is God's will! To Him be the glory.


http://www.writersdigest.com/poetryawards

Politics, Activism, and the Gospel

(by John MacArthur)

With the nation focused on the November elections, we thought a post on politics might be appropriate. The point of this article is not that we should abstain from any participation in the political process, but rather that we must keep our priorities straight as Christians. After all, the gospel, not politics, is the only true solution to our nation’s moral crisis.

We can’t protect or expand the cause of Christ by human political and social activism, no matter how great or sincere the efforts. Ours is a spiritual battle waged against worldly ideologies and dogmas arrayed against God, and we achieve victory over them only with the weapon of Scripture. The apostle Paul writes: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5).

We must reject all that is ungodly and false and never compromise God’s standards of righteousness. We can do that in part by desiring the improvement of society’s moral standards and by approving of measures that would conform government more toward righteousness. We do grieve over the rampant indecency, vulgarity, lack of courtesy and respect for others, deceitfulness, self-indulgent materialism, and violence that is corroding society. But in our efforts to support what is good and wholesome, reject what is evil and corrupt, and make a profoundly positive impact on our culture, we must use God’s methods and maintain scriptural priorities.

God is not calling us to wage a culture war that would seek to transform our countries into “Christian nations.” To devote all, or even most, of our time, energy, money, and strategy to putting a façade of morality on the world or over our governmental and political institutions is to badly misunderstand our roles as Christians in a spiritually lost world.

God has above all else called the church to bring sinful people to salvation through Jesus Christ. Even as the apostle Paul described his mission to unbelievers, so it is the primary task of all Christians to reach out to the lost “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me [Christ]” (Acts 26:18; cf. Ex. 19:6; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9).

If we do not evangelize the lost and make disciples of new converts, nothing else we do for people—no matter how beneficial it seems—is of any eternal consequence. Whether a person is an atheist or a theist, a criminal or a model citizen, sexually promiscuous and perverse or strictly moral and virtuous, a greedy materialist or a gracious philanthropist—if he does not have a saving relationship to Christ, he is going to hell. It makes no difference if an unsaved person is for or against abortion, a political liberal or a conservative, a prostitute or a police officer, he will spend eternity apart from God unless he repents and believes the gospel.

When the church takes a stance that emphasizes political activism and social moralizing, it always diverts energy and resources away from evangelization. Such an antagonistic position toward the established secular culture invariably leads believers to feel hostile not only to unsaved government leaders with whom they disagree, but also antagonistic toward the unsaved residents of that culture—neighbors and fellow citizens they ought to love, pray for, and share the gospel with. To me it is unthinkable that we become enemies of the very people we seek to win to Christ, our potential brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Author John Seel pens words that apply in principle to Christians everywhere and summarize well the believer’s perspective on political involvement:

A politicized faith not only blurs our priorities, but weakens our loyalties. Our primary citizenship is not on earth but in heaven. … Though few evangelicals would deny this truth in theory, the language of our spiritual citizenship frequently gets wrapped in the red, white and blue. Rather than acting as resident aliens of a heavenly kingdom, too often we sound [and act] like resident apologists for a Christian America. … Unless we reject the false reliance on the illusion of Christian America, evangelicalism will continue to distort the gospel and thwart a genuine biblical identity…..

American evangelicalism is now covered by layers and layers of historically shaped attitudes that obscure our original biblical core. (The Evangelical Pulpit [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993], 106-7)

By means of faithful preaching and godly living, believers are to be the conscience of whatever nation they reside in. You can confront the culture not with the political and social activism of man’s wisdom, but with the spiritual power of God’s Word. Using temporal methods to promote legislative and judicial change, and resorting to external efforts of lobbying and intimidation to achieve some sort of “Christian morality” in society is not our calling—and has no eternal value. Only the gospel rescues sinners from sin, death, and hell.

13 Ways to Bless Missionaries Without Paying for Postage

Were you unable to send a Christmas present or care package to some missionaries you love this season? It’s okay. You can still bless a missionary this Christmas.

[Update: It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway—even though Christmas is past, these ideas can still encourage our friends overseas. Let's keep serving them all year long!]

Here are 13 post-office-free ideas to get you started, most of which you could do right now from your desk:

  • Pray specific Scripture for them and their ministry, and then email it to them.
    Call or email their parents—Christmas might be just as lonely for the ones at home as the ones away.
  • Purchase phone minutes for an international calling card through an online service like OneSuite and email them the account number.
  • Donate frequent flier miles to them.
  • Purchase an iTunes gift card for them. Have it sent to you and email them the account number.
  • Commit to pray for them on a specific day of the week for a year.
  • Write a song or poem or story for them. Email them the text and a recording of you reading or singing it.
  • Get friends and family together to create a holiday video greeting for them using Google Video or YouTube. Include lots of people you know they miss.
  • Make a year-end gift through their missions board or agency.
  • Western Union—the fastest way to send money.
  • Call their local florist (not everyone is in the jungle these days) and have flowers delivered, or their local Pizza Hut and have pizza delivered—with corn and shrimp as toppings!
  • Donate to a charity that means a lot to them.
  • Make a monthly commitment to support them financially.
By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

10 Reasons to Ponder Job's Story

(by John Piper)

John Piper is giving the first message of our Job conference right now. The audio will be up later tonight and the video tomorrow. Update: The audio, video, and notes are now available.

To whet your appetite, here are his 10 reasons for speaking on Job that he just listed in the intro of his message.


1. Hundreds of you have suffered or are suffering and are looking for light in your darkness.

2. Suffering is coming. For sure. Basic discipleship means tribulations.

3. Persecution, disease, war, disability, disaster, freak accident, assault—all are alike in this: Satan aims to destroy your faith, but God aims to strengthen it.

4. Natural disasters put theodicy in the news: tsunami, Katrina, flooding, tornadoes, avalanches.

5. God is rejected by many because of the suffering in the world.

6. There are Christians who openly question the sovereignty of God over all suffering.

7. God's wise, good, just, absolute sovereignty is pastorally precious beyond measure. Being able to say, "Satan meant it for evil, but God..." gives hope and strength. Nothing is wasted. Nothing surprises God.

8. Suffering is appointed as one way the Gospel is spread.

9. The supreme value and glory and admirableness of Christ is shown most clearly when Christians treasure Christ more than they treasure what they're losing—health, wealth, family, or life.

10. Job is the main book in the Bible dealing with suffering. It can help us in all these ways.


By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

FABULOUS Articles by Albert Mohler

Albert Mohler currently has so many spectacular pieces of writing on his blog I encourage you to surf right over there and dig into the following:

The Abortion Question and the Future which gives some information about the preferences of 2008 Presidential candidates.

Abortion is back front and center in the 2008 presidential race. Sen. John McCain and the Republican Party Platform call for a reversal of Roe v. Wade and are against any notion of abortion as a fundamental right. Both the candidate and the platform call for specific measures to curtail access to abortion and to lead, eventually, to the end of abortion on demand.

Sen. Barack Obama and the Democratic Party Platform call for a stalwart and enthusiastic defense of Roe v. Wade and for expanded access to abortion. In the case of Sen. Obama, his advocacy of abortion rights goes considerably beyond where any major candidate has ever gone before. (Continue reading...)

Spare the Rod? America's Parents Just Won't Get With the Science

Alan E. Kazdin is a frustrated man, and it's America's parents who are frustrating him. These parents are, of all things, prone to use an occasional spanking in disciplining their children. Dr. Kazdin's great frustration is that these parents insist on doing what seems right to them, and thus they are ignoring or rejecting the fact that "science" shows that spankings don't work. (Continue reading...)

The End of Evolution?

The evolutionist is locked into an intellectual box from which there is no rescue. Evolutionary theory is naturalistic by necessity -- everything must be explained in purely naturalistic terms. Only nature can explain nature, and there is no other source of meaning or truth. Thus, in the end the theory of evolution -- and the theory of evolution alone -- must explain everything about humanity.

This predicament was made clear in a lecture recently given by geneticist Steve Jones at University College London. Speaking on his chosen topic, "Evolution is Over," Jones argued that human evolution has reached an end because of changes in human health and human behavior.

This argument stands in stark contrast to those offered by other evolutionists, who now call on humanity to use modern reproductive technologies and techniques designed to enhance the species. Some go so far as to argue that humans must employ these technologies and direct evolution in order to save the species from itself. (Continue reading...)

The End of the Nation? Russia Chooses Death Over Life

Reports out of Russia indicate that the recent military clash with Georgia may have represented something more like desperation than opportunism. Murray Feshbach of The Washington Post reports that, all things considered, Russia is actually close to a national collapse. (Continue reading...)

Are We Promised Prosperity?

There are a host of issues to be considered here. Many Americans are just waking up to the basic facts of economics. Most, sad to say, remain oblivious. Some among the more curious are discovering how much borrowing and lending goes on in the course of business -- and among their neighbors.

Niall Ferguson, one of the world's most influential historians, puts much of this into perspective in an essay published in the current issue of TIME magazine. In "The End of Prosperity?," Ferguson argues that another Great Depression -- a "Depression 2.0" -- is avoidable. Nevertheless, a period of far less material prosperity is almost surely at hand. (Continue reading...)

You Must Be Born Again

The New York Times ran a story on September 26 that provides incredible evidence that there is within the human heart a yearning to be born again. In "For a Fee, a Thai Temple Offers a Head Start on Rebirth," reporter Seth Mydans tells of a Buddhist temple that "offers, for a small fee, an opportunity to die, rise up again newborn and make a fresh start in life." (Continue reading...)

"On Faith" -- On Overturning "Roe v. Wade"

The question posed at "On Faith," the project of Newsweek magazine and The Washington Post, had to do with whether the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion should be reversed. The responses from columnists were very revealing, if tragic. My own column was brief, but to the point: (Continue reading...)

Phew...see what I mean? So much excellent, thought provoking stuff!!! Now off you go to dig in!

Unique Online Bible Study Tool

(by Tyler Kenney)

Today Johnathon Bowers introduces us to the new online Bible study site, Bible Arc.
In his post, Johnathon explains what the website has to offer, what the Bible study method "arcing" is, and why learning it is worth all the time you'll invest.
He testifies that it is “one of the most significant tools for Bible study I’ve ever learned.” And he concludes with a quote from John Piper that tells how arcing transformed the way he reads his Bible.

http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/1445_Unique_Online_Bible_Study_Tool/

Translations

I could not resist. These are funny.






Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sovereign Grace Ministries and Ethiopia



A trailer of the three 2008 Mission Presentation videos.

2008 Mission Presentation
Short Film 2: Planting in Ethiopia


Each year, we produce a collection of short documentaries featuring ministry activities among our family of churches. The highlight is the annual Mission Presentation, usually shown in Sovereign Grace churches during October. In 2008, we revised our annual Mission Presentation to become three separate films, showcasing the three divisions of our Mission Fund: our Pastors College, our ministry among international churches, and our church-planting activities in the United States.

Our second documentary in the 2008 Mission Presentation features Covenant Life Church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which was planted by two Pastors College students five years ago and is now planting another church in Addis.

Please click on link to see short film 2: Planting in Ethiopia video:
http://www.sovereigngraceministries.org/About/MissionPresentations.aspx

Why Not Destroy the Devil Now?

(by John Piper)

Why doesn’t God totally remove Satan and all demons now, since he will someday without their approval (Revelation 20:10)?

Here is the answer I propose in the first paragraph of chapter nine of Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ. The rest of the chapter gives the biblical basis and implications.

The glory of Christ is seen in his absolute right and power to annihilate or incapacitate Satan and all demons. But the reason he refrains from destroying and disabling them altogether is to manifest more clearly his superior beauty and worth. If Christ obliterated all devils and demons now (which he could do), his sheer power would be seen as glorious, but his superior beauty and worth would not shine as brightly as when humans renounce the promises of Satan and take pleasure in the greater glory of Christ.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org.

http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/1443_Why_Not_Destroy_the_Devil_Now/

Monday, October 13, 2008

Please Pray for Ethiopia

Please click on the link below to view BBC news story entitled "Ethiopia faces food crisis":


Kristin wrote, "The following video [is] not easy to watch, but we pray that as you do so, God would bring this country and these people to your heart, mind and prayers more often as a result. God is Lord not just here in the USA but over every tribe and every nation...may we rejoice in the words of Revelations 5:9, 'Worthy are You [Jesus] to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.' In the coming week, we can't wait to show you another clip about a Sovereign Grace Church that has been planted in the capital city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. There is Hope...and His name is Jesus!"

Book Review: Mistaken Identity by Mark Tabb

Saturday night I sat in a bookstore while my older children attended a school dance. While roaming up and down the aisles of the “religion” section I came across a book that grabbed my attention and then kept it for the next two hours. The book was called MISTAKEN IDENTITY: TWO FAMILIES, ONE SURVIVOR, UNWAVERING HOPE by Mark Tabb. Seven chapters and two days later I am still thinking about the book and how much I was enjoying the way it glorified God.

You might remember the story of Taylor University students Laura Van Ryn and Whitney Cerak. Both girls were involved in a serious accident that left one alive but in critical condition and the other was sent to the arms of her Heavenly Father. But which young lady lived and which went on to meet with God? One family believed they had lost their daughter while another clung to theirs recovering in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Both families, devoted followers of Christ Jesus, held tight to their faith and trusted completely in God for His grace and mercy through their suffering, tribulation, and sadness.

In her journal, Susie Van Ryn wrote the following scripture:
“Oh, bless our God, you peoples! And make the voice of His praise to be heard,
Who keeps our soul among the living,And does not allow our feet to be moved.For You, O God, have tested us;You have refined us as silver is refined.You brought us into the net;You laid affliction on our backs.
You have caused men to ride over our heads;We went through fire and through water; But You brought us out to rich fulfillment.” (Psalm 66:8-12. NKJV.)

What beautiful confidence in our Lord and savior in the midst of an unfathomable circumstance and unimaginable grief.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

C. H. Spurgeon


'Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.'-Lamentations 3:41



The act of prayer teaches us our unworthiness, which is a very salutary lesson for such proud beings as we are. If God gave us favours without constraining us to pray for them we should never know how poor we are, but a true prayer is an inventory of wants, a catalogue of necessities, a revelation of hidden poverty. While it is an application to divine wealth, it is a confession of human emptiness. The most healthy state of a Christian is to be always empty in self and constantly depending upon the Lord for supplies; to be always poor in self and rich in Jesus; weak as water personally, but mighty through God to do great exploits; and hence the use of prayer, because, while it adores God, it lays the creature where it should be, in the very dust. Prayer is in itself, apart from the answer which it brings, a great benefit to the Christian. As the runner gains strength for the race by daily exercise, so for the great race of life we acquire energy by the hallowed labour of prayer. Prayer plumes the wings of God's young eaglets, that they may learn to mount above the clouds. Prayer girds the loins of God's warriors, and sends them forth to combat with their sinews braced and their muscles firm. An earnest pleader cometh out of his closet, even as the sun ariseth from the chambers of the east, rejoicing like a strong man to run his race. Prayer is that uplifted hand of Moses which routs the Amalekites more than the sword of Joshua; it is the arrow shot from the chamber of the prophet foreboding defeat to the Syrians. Prayer girds human weakness with divine strength, turns human folly into heavenly wisdom, and gives to troubled mortals the peace of God. We know not what prayer cannot do! We thank thee, great God, for the mercy-seat, a choice proof of thy marvellous lovingkindness. Help us to use it aright throughout this day!


Friday, October 10, 2008

Deceitfulness and the World

It breaks my heart when a loved one or friend sins against me and lies to me. God's word says, "But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars,(E) their portion will be in(F) the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is(G) the second death." (Revelation 21:8. ESV.)

But what can be expected from those who have not received a rejuvenated heart of flesh to replace their heart of stone? What can I look forward to from a wayward and worldly person? Worldy expert Caroline Presno says, "Telling lies is a normal part of everyday life. People tell small lies to make themselves more likable or to spare other people's feelings.

However, it's when the lying gets out of hand that it becomes harmful to a budding relationship. If someone you are dating repeatedly lies to you for their own personal gain, you need to be aware of it. By becoming a better lie detector, you can prevent others from taking advantage of you, both literally and emotionally.

Here are eight ways to spot a liar:

1. Eyes aflutter. When people lie, their blink rate tends to go up.

2. The eyes have it. Conventional wisdom says that liars don't look you directly in the eye. And sometimes this is the case. However, research shows that practiced liars will actually give you more eye contact than people telling the truth!

3. Frankly, my dear. People who lie often feel the need to draw your attention to their trustworthiness. They may preface statements with words like "honestly," "frankly," and "truthfully." They're also likely to make assertions such as "I would never lie to you" and "I'm not lying."

4. Cool and casual. Most people expect liars to be nervous, but practiced liars know how to act casual while weaving a web. They may have their feet up or be slumped down in a chair as the lies flow.

5. Behind the smile. A liar's smile is different from a truth-teller's smile. According to research, true "enjoyment smiles" are so big and bright that you'll notice a crinkle around the eyes. These authentic smiles last for less than five seconds. The "masking smile," or lie smile, tends to last longer than five seconds, doesn't involve the eyes, has a hint of negative emotion, and may be crooked.

6. Sticking to it. Good liars stick to the true parts of their story as much as possible and insert lies at key points. Good liars stick to the true parts of their story as much as possible and insert lies at key points. If you suspect you're being lied to, don't be fooled into thinking that the whole story is true, even if you can confirm that parts of it are true.

7. Derailed by details. Liars often try to divert you from their falsehoods by detailing you to death. They'll get you so bogged down by the minutiae of the story that you lose track of what they're saying or you get tired of listening. Never hesitate to ask for clarification if the story seems confusing or doesn't add up.

8. It's not me, it's you! If you catch someone in a lie, they'll frequently try to turn it back on you. "You must be crazy. I never said that!" or "You must have memory loss because that's not the way it happened."...

The more people lie and get away with it, the more lies they tell. Stop the cycle by confronting the lies! (Dating 101: Eight Ways to Spot a Dishonest Date by Dating expert Caroline Presno, Ed.D., P.C.C.)

Is it only when "the lying gets out of hand that it becomes harmful" or should I be concerned about the little lies as well? For isn't it "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks"? (Matthew 12:34. ESV.) Albert Mohler reminds me, "The Bible clearly affirms that what is done with the body is directly related to the soul.” And what should I say to the loved one who repeatedly sins against me?

Don't Desire Wealth

(by John Piper)

I can smell it. It’s like toast or steak or brownies. It doesn’t just draw our desire, it creates desire. Deep drops in the stock market make many people salivate. They know it will rebound. They are sitting on cash. By year’s end their pile could ride the recovery to riches.

For such people I have a word from God. The word is: Don’t desire to be rich. It will kill you. And in a world like ours many will probably perish with you. Paul’s language is more graphic than mine:

There is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.

It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1Timothy 6:6-10).

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org.

http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/1436_dont_desire_wealth/

The Godward Focus of Faithfulness

(by John Piper)

One of my long-standing dissatisfactions with the focus of biblical theology is the habit of tracing God’s faithfulness only as far back as his covenant-keeping. Righteousness (tsedeqa) is portrayed as covenant-keeping. Love (hesed) is portrayed as covenant-keeping. Faithfulness (emet) is portrayed as covenant-keeping.

This has an ill-effect. It skews biblical revelation by making God’s relation with man seem more ultimate than God himself. There is always something more ultimate than God’s faithfulness to his covenant, namely, God’s faithfulness to God.

If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. (2Timothy 2:13)

Here is how Jeremiah pleads for God’s covenant-keeping mercy:

“Do not spurn us, for your name’s sake; do not dishonor your glorious throne; remember and do not break your covenant with us.” (Jeremiah 14:21)

Beneath covenant-keeping there is a more ultimate foundation: God’s allegiance to his name—God’s jealousy for the honor of the glory of his throne.
This emphasis on God’s allegiance to his own name and glory behind his allegiance to his covenant and his people, is desperately needed in a day when we are spring-loaded by nature and culture to make ourselves ultimate: “Of course, God will keep his covenant, he made it with us!”

There is a great biblical antidote for our pride. God keeps covenant for his name’s sake:

“Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name” (Ezekiel 36:22).

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Working Replica of Noah's Ark

Thanks mom for sending me the following story w/ pictures.

Working Replica of Noah's Ark Opened In SCHAGEN, Netherlands . The massive central door in the side of Noah's Ark was opened the first crowd of curious townsfolk to behold the wonder. Of course, it's only a replica of the biblical Ark , built by Dutch Creationist Johan Huibers as a testament to his faith in the literal truth of the Bible.


The ark is 150 cubits long, 30 cubits high and 20 cubits wide. That's two-thirds the length of a football field and as high as a three-story house. Life-size models of giraffes, elephants, lions, crocodiles, zebras, bison and other animals greet visitors as they arrive in the main hold. A contractor by trade, Huibers built the ark of cedar and pine. Biblical Scholars debate exactly what the wood used by Noah would have been. Huibers did the work mostly with his own hands, using modern tools and with occasional help from his son Roy. Construction began in May 2005. On the uncovered top deck - not quite ready in time for the opening - will come a petting zoo, with baby lambs and chickens, and goats, and one camel.

Visitors on the first day were stunned. "It's past comprehension", said Mary Louise Starosciak, who happened to be bicycling by with her husband while on vacation when they saw the ark looming over the local landscape. "I knew the story of Noah, but I had no idea the boat would have been so big." There is enough space near the keel for a 50-seat film theater where kids can watch a video that tells the story of Noah and his ark.

Huibers, a Christian man, said he hopes the project will renew interest in Christianity in the Netherlands, where church going has fallen dramatically in the past 50 years.




Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Kitchen Fire Safety

video

I think this video speaks for itself.

What to Say to the Depressed, Doubting, Skeptical, Confused, Angry

(by John Piper)

If you care about people and risk talking to the depressed, the doubting, the skeptical, the confused, and the angry, you will soon run into a person who says to your counsel: I’ve tried that. Whatever you say, they will minimize it and say it doesn’t work. Do not be surprised at this response. This is what it means to be depressed, doubting, skeptical, confused, angry. It means that whatever they hear sounds useless.

So I want to offer some suggestions for what you say in a conversation that is about to be cut off like that.

1. Don't be offended.

First, resist the temptation to be offended. Don’t pout or take your ball and go home. That’s what you may feel like. They wanted to talk, and here they are throwing my suggestions back in my face with a dismissive attitude. Don’t leave. Not yet. “Love suffers long” (1 Corinthians 13:4, NKJV).

2. Listen.

Second, listen to their responses. Part of your power is not only what you say, but how they feel about the way you listen. If your truth produces empathetic ears, it will feel more compelling. This listening will be a witness. In 2 Timothy 2:24-26, Paul describes the kind of engagement that may set people free from sin and error. One feature is “patiently enduring evil.”

3. End with hope.

Third, when you have spoken all the experiential counsel you can think of, and they seem to have demeaned it all, don’t let them have the last word of despair. You leave the last word of hope. I suggest that you do it something like this. Say . . .

I know that you don’t feel very helped by what I have said. I think I understand some of what that’s like. I don’t mean to be offering a quick fix, as though your problems or doubts can be turned around that easily. But I have more hope than you do that God’s truth is powerful and will have its good effect in due time. May I share one more thing before you go?

I simply want to make sure you hear the best news in the world. Jesus said he spoke so that we would have peace (John 16:33). And Paul said that faith comes by hearing the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). You don’t feel this right now. But God says peace and faith come from hearing.

In other words, moving from not seeing and feeling the reality of Christ to seeing and feeling the reality of Christ happens through hearing news about Christ. Something happens. At one moment, you are not seeing him as beautiful and satisfying and compelling. Then in the next moment, you are.

In the moments leading up to this experience, listening to God’s word seems empty and futile. That doesn’t put me off. If you doubt what I am saying, you are the very person who needs to hear what I am saying.

So let me tell you this spectacular news. This comes from Colossians 2:13-15.

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Paul is talking about what God offers to everyone and what those who believe in Jesus experience. There are five mind-blowing things here:

1) God makes you spiritually alive.

2) God forgives all your sins.

3) He does this because he canceled the record of debts that stood against you. You owed God what you could never pay because of all your sins. And he cancelled the debt.

4) How could he do that? He set it aside by nailing it to the cross. But the nails that went into the cross didn’t go through parchment. They went through Jesus’ hands and feet. That’s the heart of everything I have to say to you. Christ became our substitute and bore our debt.

5) When that happened, the devil was disarmed. Why? Because the weapon of accusation was taken out of his hand. He always waved that record of debt in our face and God’s court. But now that’s canceled. The devil is disarmed. He can huff and puff, but he cannot damn you.

I leave you with this news. I will pray that the obstacles to peace-filled faith in your mind will be overcome by these truths. Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Meditate on these verses. May the Lord give you light.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

https://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/TasteAndSee/ByDate/2008/3283_What_to_Say_to_the_Depressed_Doubting_Skeptical_Confused_Angry/

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