Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Battling Sin: Legalism

(by: me)

While in the car yesterday and Sunday, I enjoyed the wonderful message "Enjoying the Grace and Detecting Legalism" by C.J. Mahaney. I encourage everyone to listen to it as it is really fabulous!

When I look at my life and lifestyle I see many things. I notice my struggles with particular sins, I observe where I am falling short in my responsibilities as the Proverbs 31 woman, I take note of what the children in my home are learning and what issues I need to address with each one's heart, but have I for a moment stopped to ask myself if I am being legalistic? Not really, and perhaps it is because I do not have a full understanding of the term.

It has taken me the better part of two and a half years to comprehend legalism. Had you asked me in 2006 (when I first received grace) what legalism is, I could not have answered. Today, I can give you an explanation however C.J. Mahaney has pointed out I still do not have a thorough grasp of it. Not only is it acting like a Pharisee, going though the motions, following the rules, yet being like a whitewashed tomb (Matthew 23:27)…there is so much more to it and God takes it very seriously!

C.J. Mahaney says,
“Why are we prone, why are we so apt to so quickly and so easily forget the gospel? Well a primary reason I submit to you, a primary reason for our tendency to forget the gospel is in a word, legalism….Legalism is a daily tendency, legalism is a daily temptation for each one of us. No one is exempt from this daily tendency and temptation and no one present will mature beyond this daily temptation and this tendency. And Paul in Galatians chapter two is addressing this daily tendency and temptation…”

Galatians 2:15-16: We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

Galatians 2:21: I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Okay, so far so good for me! I get it and currently feel I am not just a whitewashed tomb but rather a creature who was given a new heart of flesh. And since I received this regenerated heart only by God’s grace through faith alone, my actions, words, and life as a whole are significantly different. Therefore I am not doing good works because I think that is the right thing to do, I am serving and behaving as someone who follows Christ because I am so in love with God, Jesus, and Christ’s obedience to His Father and sacrifice for me on the cross.

C.J. Mahaney goes on to state, “
Let me not assume all present understand legalism. Let us begin with a definition of legalism….Legalism involves seeking to achieve forgiveness from God, justification before God, and acceptance by God through our obedience to God. Legalism involves seeking to achieve forgiveness from God, justification before God, acceptance by God through my obedience to God….Legalism, its essence is in effect substituting my works for His finished work….In a phrase, legalism is self atonement….Legalism is my attempt to atone for my sins.”

Still going good here! I continue to feel my heart is in the right place! Legalism, in my opinion is a pride issue. And, though I do struggle with the sin of pride in some areas---as Jonathan Edwards (I believe it was) said, “It is not IF you are prideful but rather HOW you are prideful.”---I do not yet draw a line to legalism in my own life. Perhaps this is an accurate self assessment or maybe I am just fooling myself…we shall see.

Martin Luther said, “The only contribution we make to our justification is the sin God so graciously forgives.”

Moving right along…you will have to listen to the mp3 to hear all of the excellent things C.J. says regarding legalism as self atonement!!!

C.J. Mahaney points out some evidences of legalism. He says, “
1. You are more aware of and affected by your past sins than you are the finished work of Christ…. I have had a number of interactions with Christians over the years who have no difficulty receiving forgiveness for all sins committed prior to conversion but do find difficulty receiving forgiveness from God for sins committed since conversion….If you are more aware of sin, if you are more aware of any season of sin in your past, than you are the person and finished work of Jesus Christ, that is the evidence of legalism. That is an evidence that legalism is present in your life….

2. You are more aware of and reliant upon godly practices than you are the cross….Now while preparing this material I thought [a plate spinner (man/woman who spins plates on a flexible rod) for a variety show like the Ed Sullivan show] is a picture of a legalistic Christian….If you don’t understand the difference between justification and sanctification you will engage in [biblical/godly] practices not as a means of grace but instead as a means of merit….”

Yes! So far I have a gold star! Whoo-hoo! I do not feel I am more affected by my sins than the finished work of Christ and I do not consider myself more reliant upon godly practices than the cross. I love, adore, delight in studying God’s word!!! It is a passion that I would much prefer to do rather than anything else…especially chores! While my children are studying their school subjects each day, I use the time to commune with God and learn His word (between helping the kids with their work).

I was right in the middle of my touchdown dance when I heard C.J. Mahaney say the next evidences of legalism, “
3. You consistently experience condemnation which is distinct from conviction….Ignorance of justification leaves one vulnerable to condemnation. Actually I can assure you that if you don’t understand justification you will experience condemnation….I can either repent of my sin and receive forgiveness and receive righteousness as a gift from God or I can seek to establish my own righteousness….Until you’ve resolved the guilt of sin biblically you’ll never be able to weaken the power of sin in your life….How do you resolved the guilt of sin? You receive the forgiveness that was achieved on the cross by the substitutionary sacrifice of His Son. And if you don’t receive forgiveness because of the cross you are in effect setting aside the grace of God and declaring that Christ died for nothing. It’s not that you think His death was unnecessary but in effect was insufficient….”

And then, came the killer for me! The final evidence of legalism according to C.J. Mahaney, “You lack joy!” And there, dear sisters in Christ is where I crashed and burned!!!

Serve the LORD with gladness! (Psalm 100:2. ESV.)

Now, I am not saying I always walk around with a sour puss attitude. Usually I delight in serving others and the Lord however sometimes, in some areas of my life, I do not and can be quite the stinker about it!!! And it is during these times that I realize I have taken my eyes off of the cross! I am no longer focused on Christ and His most gracious Father!!! But, rather I am only focused on myself!!! Ick!!! So I then have to preach to myself and get my eyes back on the cross.

Charles Spurgeon said, “One might better try to sail the Atlantic in a paper boat than to get to heaven by good works.”

J.I. Packer Speaks to New Christians

JI Packer Speaks To New Christians from Mike Anderson on Vimeo.

Who Were the Puritans and What Can They Teach Us?

Click here to listen to lecture by Sinclair Ferguson.

And, check out the Puritan Resource Center!

Moms of Teenagers

(by Carolyn Mahaney of Girltalk)

Moms of teenagers—you’re up next. Building on our series from last week, what’s the first great deal for you? First and foremost: have faith.

As women, we are all vulnerable to fear, worry, and anxiety; and few areas tempt us more than mothering teenagers! But faith must dictate our mothering, not fear. Faith, as it says in Hebrews, is the "assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1).

Continue reading this post.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Ways to Avoid Dealing with Your Sin

(by Dan Phillips)

Christianity can be deucedly inconvenient and confrontive.

It starts out with us being brought face to face with our sin (see Romans 1:18 - 3:20, for instance). We are forced to accept that we're guilty, we have no one to blame but ourselves, and we deserve punishment. More, we can't fix the problem; we have to be rescued. Still more, our rescue can't be on our terms, has to be on God's terms; what is required of us is unconditional surrender and submission to One who calls Himself Lord, and actually means it (cf. Luke 6:46).

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The Cross He Bore

(by Tim Challies)

The Cross He Bore - Man of Sorrows

Over the next thirteen days, I will be reading one chapter each day of Frederick Leahy’s book The Cross He Bore: Meditations on the Sufferings of the Redeemer. I know that many of you will be reading along as well. My plan is simply to post a favorite quote or two, or perhaps a small reflection on the chapter. I will then open it up for discussion if you have something you’d like to add. This will culminate on Good Friday with the book’s final chapter.

The first chapter takes us to Gethsemane where Jesus “began to be sorrowful and troubled.” Leahy looks to these words.

Continue reading this post.

The Cross He Bore - Prayerful Submission

This is day two of our thirteen-day trek through Frederick Leahy’s The Cross He Bore. Today Leahy looks to Jesus’ words of submission to the Father. “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as you will” (Matt 26:39).

Here is a favorite quote:

Continue reading this post.

The Red Envelope Project


Friday, March 27, 2009

The Most Important Prayer Request in the World

(by John Piper)

The most important prayer is that the most important person in the universe do the most important act in the universe.

That’s why Jesus put this request at the beginning of the Lord’s prayer: “Hallowed be your name.”

God is the most important person in the universe. More important than all others put together.

All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness” (Isaiah 40:17).

The whole-souled act of hallowing God’s name is the most important act in the universe.

To “hallow” means to “sanctify” which in God’s case means to set apart in your mind and heart as supremely great and beautiful and valuable.

“Hallowed be your name” means, “See to it that your name is hallowed. Use your infinite power and wisdom and love to stir up billions of hearts and minds to admire you and prize you above all things."

We ask him to fulfill this promise:

I will sanctify [hallow] my great name, which was profaned among the nations.... And the nations shall know that I am the Lord...when I shall be sanctified [hallowed] in you before their eyes.” (Ezekiel 36:23)

For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” (Isaiah 48:11)

Ask the Lord to help you make the most important prayer your most common prayer. And the one you desire most to see answered.

© Desiring God

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

Strength For a Weary Mom

(by Kristin Chesemore for Girltalk)

We began this series by asking: “How does the mom with young kids make the best use of her time when she doesn’t feel like she has any time?” We’ve looked at a few essential deals for this busy season:

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Red Envelopes

(by Carolyn McCulley)

If you have read my blog for a long time, you may have noticed that I don't offer much political commentary. But I do believe it is important to stand up for causes. So while I can be proud of President Obama for many reasons, I also feel it is my civic duty to express my concern about the direction he is taking on issues related to the sanctity of life. Thus, the blog topics I am tackling this week. Today I am encouraging you to participate in the Red Envelope campaign.

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Paul Tripp on Imagination

(by Justin Taylor)

Five talks:

* part 1
* part 2
* part 3
* part 4
* part 5

Click here if above links do not work.

John MacArthur on Bible Teaching

(by Mark Driscoll)

In our own day there are many faithful Reformed Bible teachers carrying on in the legacy of Charles Spurgeon. Among the best known is John MacArthur, a fifth-generation pastor. Like Spurgeon, he has committed his life to Bible preaching and teaching. This commitment extends, as Spurgeon’s did, to leading a school to train people for gospel ministry (The Master's College and The Master’s Seminary, which we have benefited from directly since one of our Mars Hill elders is a graduate), publishing many Bible commentaries, and launching publications. He has also published a long list of books.

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Reading “The Cross He Bore”

(by Tim Challies)

Easter is fast approaching and, as you may remember, I thought it would be both fun and worthwhile to read a book together as we prepare to remember the Lord’s death and to celebrate his resurrection. The book that always come to mind this time of year is Frederick Leahy’s The Cross He Bore.

Continue reading this post.

Jesus, Interrupted

(by Dr. Darrell Bock)

Bart Ehrman's Jesus, Interrupted by his own admission says nothing new. It packages what scholars have been saying for two decades. Since he learned the historical critical method in place of the devotional method, he discovered the Bible was full of contradictions and discrepancies, a completely human book with Christianity being a religion that is completely human in its origin and development. That is the core thesis of Bart Ehrman's new book, who has become a one man marching band to make clear what everyone should know about the origins of the Christian faith. We cannot speak of the divine in any of this, he says, because historians cannot handle that kind of data.

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Texas votes on science standards

(by Kristin Chapman for World Magazine)

The Texas State Board of Education tentatively determined yesterday that new state science standards will no longer require teachers to teach the weaknesses of scientific theory, including evolution. A final vote is expected today, but if passed, the new standards would end a 20-year-old rule requiring both “strengths and weaknesses” of all scientific theories to be taught.

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The Power of a Peacemaking Church

Thabiti Anyabwile

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Battling Sin: Doubt

(by: me)

If I had a nickel for every single time I doubted my King, sadly I would be a very rich gal!!! When I do not take every thought captive, doubt sneaks in like a quietly slithering serpent. Before I know it, it has spread into all of my thoughts and leaves me feeling icky. Charles Spurgeon says,

“Doubts are among the worst enemies of your souls. Do not entertain them. Do not treat them as though they were poor forlorn travelers to be hospitably entertained, but as rogues and vagabonds to be chased from thy door. Fight them, slay them, and pray God to help thee to kill them, and bury them, and not even to leave a bone or a piece of a bone of a doubt above ground. Doubting and unbelief are to be abhorred, and to be confessed with tears as sins before God. We need pardon for doubting as much as for blasphemy. We ought no more to excuse doubting than lying, for doubting slanders God and makes him a liar."

Isaiah 30:15: In quietness and in trust shall be your strength.

Hosea 14:1: Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.

Exodus 14:14: The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.

Man, why is it so hard for me to just be silent and let the Lord fight for me? I picture, once again, the scene at the garden of Gethsemane. Peter unsheathes a sword and cuts off a guy’s ear! As I have mentioned before, yep, that’s me!!! I, once more (as if I haven’t learned this lesson a thousand times over), jump out from behind the protection of my Lord and start swinging my sword around. And being I am such a small framed person this sword is most likely bigger and heavier than I. So not only do I put myself at risk from coming out from behind the protection of my Lord, I am now putting others at risk because I am carelessly waving around a deadly weapon!!!

My words can be deadly weapons too! When I do not put a guard over my mouth I say things that may cause another to stumble right along with me because of MY sin. And then that person’s soul could very well be at risk! If I, as a Christ follower, am not acting in a way that glorifies God then why in the world would anyone, who is not a follower of Christ, desire to be one? When they look at me do they say to themselves, “If that is a Christian then I want no part of it.” Why am I so quick to give into my flesh?

Romans 12:2: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

James 4:4: You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Romans 13:14: But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Just yesterday God was preparing my heart most of the day for something big that lay in store. Morning, afternoon, and early evening I felt out of focus as though God was encouraging my heart to dive deep into his word and get ready for what was coming. I was going to be called upon by one of the children in my home to give her some advice that would not only affect today but the rest of her life. I needed to be ready to advise her in a way that would glorify God and please Him. And, I am hopeful that is exactly what I did. I counseled her in what God asks of His children. I encouraged her to behave as God’s girl would. And now, I can only pray that God will pierce her heart and call her to Himself.

My trust has to be in my Heavenly Father, my King. All things are His servants (Psalm 119:91) and he does everything for our good (Romans 8:28) and His glory.

2 Peter 1:3: His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17. ESV.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Gianna Jessen Abortion Survivor

Wow!!! This is amazing! Amazing Grace! GOD'S BEAUTIFUL GRACE!!!

Part 1

Part 2

Why Jethro? The Wisdom of What God Doesn't Say

(by Jon Bloom for Desiring God Ministries)

God gave very detailed instructions to Moses regarding the construction of the tabernacle and the keeping of the law. So isn’t it interesting that God didn’t tell Moses how to perform his role as judge in Israel?

Instead he allowed Moses to struggle with an overbearing workload for awhile and then sent Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law and priest of Midian (a pagan priest?), to give him counsel. In Exodus 18, Jethro observes Moses’ administrative approach to judgment and then gives sage advice on delegation. The outcome was a much more effective and efficient way of serving the people.

Continue reading this post.

Pay Attention

(by Carolyn Mahaney for Girltalk)

Mothers are responsible to mold and shape lives; to raise children who, in the words of G.K. Chesterton, “require not so much to be taught anything as everything.”

“I might as well be at the controls of a moon shot,” reflected one mom, “the mission is so grave and vast.” And so it is. The training and discipline of our children in the fear the Lord is an awesome task, demanding of our full attention (see Deut 6:5-9).

That’s why, if there’s one concern I have for this generation of mothers, it is the potential for distraction.

Continue reading this post.

The Love Dare Book

In the Movie FIREPROOF, The Love Dare covers the topics of relationship parasites (addictions like pornography and gambling) and unconditional love.

The Love Dare devotional book expands and extends the topics addressed in the films plot to include such vital issues as:

* Why Marriage? Explore the blessings and challenges of godly marriage.

* Contract or Covenant? Examine the difference between the worlds design for marriage and Gods original intention.

* Clean Fighting. Learn how to fight the fires of conflict effectively and respectfully. * Leading Your Heart, Instead of Vice Versa. Practice choosing love when it isnt your instinctive response.


John Calvin (Christian Biographies for Young Readers)

(by Tim Challies)

This is the year of John Calvin. In celebration of the 500th anniversary of his birth, many ministries are holding conferences to discuss his life and impact and many Christian publishers are releasing biographies of the man who did so much to form the Christian faith and the Western world. Reformation Heritage Books has taken a unique route by producing a biography targeted at children from ages 7 to 10. Written by Simonetta Carr and illustrated by Emanuele Taglietti, the book combines the story of Calvin’s life with excellent watercolor illustrations.

Continue reading this post.

Fanny Crosby

(by Justin Taylor)

American hymnwriter Fanny Crosby was born on this day in 1820. She became blind as a young child, was a lifelong member of the Methodist Church, and composed nearly 8,000 hymns throughout her life.

Continue reading this post.
Fanny J. Crosby: An Autobiography.

No questions

(by Andrée Seu for World Magazine)

Has your child ever been in a situation where his life depended on his immediate cooperation, no questions asked? Maybe you had been remiss in training him in instant obedience—you had allowed him too many times to engage you in negotiations; you had gone into lengthy explanations to justify your demands to his satisfaction so that he would see the reasonableness of compliance.

Now you are in a life-or-death moment, no time for the usual rigmarole: “Make one false move and you’re dead. It is very important that you DO EXACTLY WHAT I SAY—RIGHT NOW.” (The child doesn’t see the truck careening around the bend, doesn’t see the rattler five feet behind him.)

Continue reading this post.

Leap of faiths

(by Lynn Vincent for World Magazine)

Emad Hussain owes his life to a habit of casual dress. His owes the reunification of his Muslim family to a United Methodist Church in Denver. Hussain fled Iraq in 2007 after Shiite militants attacked his work place and shot his father. The terrorists kidnapped 36 people that day, all of whom are now presumed dead. Hussain, who became a target, sought asylum in the U.S..

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Dr. Tiller goes to court

(by Lynn Vincent for World Magazine)

The trial of “Tiller the Killer” opened in a Wichita courthouse today. Late-term abortionist George Tiller, who claims to have performed 80,000 late-term terminations — many just a few weeks from delivery — is being tried for a business relationship with a consulting physician that is alleged to have violated Kansas law.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

A Plea for Heart Devotions and Head Study

(by John Piper)

This is a plea that all of you would build into your lives both personal devotions and purposeful study of God’s word.


Daily prayerful meditation seeking personal application of God’s word to your own heart and life.


Regular study in a class or with a book where the (living or dead) teacher has seen more than you have and can give you insight in 30 minutes that might otherwise take you ten years to see.

The reason I plead for both is that without a book or a class about what some part of the Bible means and a teacher who is ahead of you, your devotions will probably flatten out at a low level of insight.

Year after year you will go over the same biblical ground and find it as perplexing as before. There will be little advance in understanding. This will tend to take the heart out of devotional reading, because the lack of growth cannot sustain the joy.

Seek out preaching, books, and classes which take you further in grasping what various books and texts in the Bible mean.

© Desiring God

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

Doubt is not a virtue

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

Too many in the church of God regard unbelief as if it were a calamity commanding sympathy, rather than a fault demanding censure as well. . . . Doubts are among the worst enemies of your souls. Do not entertain them. Do not treat them as though they were poor forlorn travelers to be hospitably entertained, but as rogues and vagabonds to be chased from thy door. Fight them, slay them, and pray God to help thee to kill them, and bury them, and not even to leave a bone or a piece of a bone of a doubt above ground. Doubting and unbelief are to be abhorred, and to be confessed with tears as sins before God.

Continue reading this post.

The Love Surprise Mailbox Company

(by Carolyn McCulley)

Recently I was the recipient of a "surprise and delight" activity that I am eager to share with you all because I want to spread the idea -- and because I want to showcase the writing efforts of a young friend of mine. Below you will find a report about the "Love Surprise Mailbox Company" from 11-year-old Ashley Wilda. I stayed with her family a few weeks ago and discovered my surprise in the morning. Over breakfast, I asked Ashley if she would write a guest post for my blog. Her report was waiting for me when I returned later that night.

Continue reading this post.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Most Like Sarah

I took the "Which mighty woman of the Bible are you most like?" quiz and the result is: You are most like SARAH

Dedicated to your spouse/boyfriend, you would do anything for them. You also are a woman of faith, who takes God at His word. You have much wisdom, and are a role model to many other women, both young and old. Your life is filled with adventure, oft times and is unpredictable as you live a kind of "nomadic" existence as the Spirit leads.

Mighty Woman of the Bible Quiz

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Lust of Ignorance and the Life of Holiness

(by John Piper)

Listen | Podcast

1 Peter 1:14-16

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY."

For twelve verses Peter gave no commands and no admonitions and no exhortations. He just celebrated and blessed the God who elects and regenerates and refines and preserves. Then in verse 13 we saw last week the first commandment of the Christian life: "Hope fully in the grace of God." Keep yourself mentally fit and morally sober to fight the fight of hope.

So hope is first. Today we see the second command: be holy (vv. 15, 16). Now we have two commands: Be hopeful in the grace of God; and be holy like the holiness of God. You can see that both of these commands call for a thoroughgoing orientation of life on God.

* Be a hope-filled person, and let the hope that you are filled with be hope in God.
* Be a holy person, and let the holiness that you have be like the holiness of God.

Continue reading this post.

Heart-Work and a Holy Calling

(by Kristin Chesemore for GirlTalk)

Janelle's Pick: Don't Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman
The subtitle of this book, “A mom’s look at heart-oriented discipline” is the perfect description of why this is one of my favs when it comes to child-training. Ginger Plowman combines her witty writing style with the truth of God’s Word to help moms learn how to use Scripture as the basis for the training and discipline of their little ones.

Kristin's Pick: The Duties of Parents by J.C. Ryle
In this sobering, yet inspiring classic, Bishop Ryle calls us to consider from Scripture our holy calling as parents to “train up a child in the way he should go.” He provides us with 17 helpful “hints” on parenting that simply “ought not be be lightly set aside.”

Continue reading this post.

The Cross and Criticism

(by Justin Taylor)

Ten years ago Alfred Poirier (PCA pastor and Board Chairman for Peacemakers) wrote a great article on The Cross and Criticism for The Journal of Biblical Counseling, and it's now available online. It is very much worth your time to read, digest, and apply.

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You Need Atonement Counseling

(by Trevin Wax)

Mark Driscoll thinks the cross is the answer to your problem. That’s right. Whatever your problem, the cross provides the answer.

In Death by Love: Letters from the Cross (Crossway, 2008), Driscoll describes the cross as a multi-faceted jewel that needs to be appreciated in all its biblical glory. He refuses to pit one theory of the atonement against another, instead insisting that the proper view of the cross will lead to proper pastoral application of each theory.

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None of my business

(by Andrée Seu for World Magazine)

“For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because John had been saying to him, ‘It is not lawful for you to have her’” (Matthew 14:3-4).

Imagine going up to a king or a congressman or your next-door neighbor and getting in his business about some immoral slump he’s fallen into. Or did the Baptizer get a pass because he wore that weird hair shirt and ate locusts in the desert?

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Nothing Personal

(by Lauren F. Winner for Boundless Webzine)

It can be easy to think that the main actions our Christian faith asks of us are personal, even private actions: You participate in a small group; you faithfully set aside time each morning for prayer and Bible study; you are vigilant about your sexual behavior.

All of that is great, of course, and right in line with the gospel's demands. But the gospel also calls us to embody our faith in service: in caring for the poor, for the widowed, and for the orphaned. We are called to be people concerned with justice and charity. We are, in the words of the prophet Micah, enjoined to "act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" (6:8b, NIV).

I will admit that practicing justice and mercy toward others is a place where I need to grow.

Continue reading this post.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Iron Sharpening Iron

(by: me)

"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. (Matthew 18:15. ESV.)

Last week a dear friend/sister in Christ and I were at the park and the topic of rebuking one in the body of Christ came up. I mentioned how difficult this task is for me whether I am approaching someone else or am the one being corrected by another. And I feel there are such icky feelings revolving around this (that as Christians we are called to do) because of the flesh and pride that can raise its ugly head on both sides of the situation at any given moment!

First, What God’s Word Says:

Luke 17:3: Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him,

2 Thessalonians 3:15: Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

James 5:19-20: My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Leviticus 19:17: "You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.

1 Timothy 5:19: Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.

Romans 16:17: I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.

2 Thessalonians 3:6: Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.

Matthew 5:46-47: For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

Just recently (this week or last) I have read blog posts by Trevin Wax and Tim Challis regarding accountability and conflict resolution between members of the body. Trevin Wax refers to Luke 12:14 and says,
“We take minor and petty disagreements with our brothers and sisters in Christ and begin to see them as major differences. We narrow the definitions of faithfulness until we can congratulate ourselves on being the only ones who are on the right track. Next comes the appeal to Scripture for going our own way. The double-edged sword intended to cut our own hearts gets turned into a sword we wield against others. Finally, when we can come to no agreement with our brother or sister, we think it best to end the tumultuous relationship by calling Jesus to issue the final decree of division. Please, Lord! Just show them they’re wrong! Tell him to do what I say! Prove my point so I can separate justifiably from them! But Christ refuses. In the passage above, instead of judging the man’s situation and family argument, Jesus boldly told him, “You get right! You watch yourself!” Jesus refused to codify the division and bless the break in this man’s relationship with his brother. I suspect that he would do the same with us in our petty feuds.”

Tim Challies blogged,
“I meet every week among a group of leaders from my church and just about every week somebody asks one of these questions: “Is there anything you really do not want to talk about?” or “Is there something you should tell us that you’re hoping nobody will ask?” These are good questions, leading questions, that cause us to probe our hearts a little bit to see if there is something we ought to confess. As leaders and potential leaders in the church, we desire transparency; we believe the Bible demands it….A little while ago I was reading a book review by Erik Raymond and thought he brought this out so succinctly. “Accountability is often quite helpful,” he said. “However, many times folks end up fearing their ‘accountability partner’ while remaining numbly void of a healthy fear of God. This does not kill the root of sin, but unwittingly increases a fear of man (idolatry).”… I think Erik nails it when he says accountability may give opportunity not to kill the root of sin, but to actually increase a fear of man. This is not the fault of accountability, I’m sure, but of the individual’s sinful heart. It’s my fault, not accountability’s.”

I agree with both of these and feel it in my heart! When I feel burdened to go to a member of the body am I addressing a sin issue or am I splitting hairs? Am I blind to my own sin while confronting another about theirs? Do I have any room to talk? Am I acting like a Pharisee? Am I using the “double edged sword intended to cut [my] own heart” as a “sword against others”? And when receiving correction from another do I address my sin issue out of a fear of God or a fear of my accountability partners---a.k.a man? In my opinion this is all good stuff on which to meditate!

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:24-26. ESV.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Good Friday

Good Friday video from Mars Hill Church. Check it out!!!

The Rebel and the Compliant Child

(by: me)

John Piper really got me thinking with his blog post regarding Matthew 21:28-30 which reads,
"What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' 29And he answered, 'I will not,' but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, 'I go, sir,' but did not go.

John Piper reminds me, “Do not despair of the rebel, and do not assume the heart of the compliant child is with you.” What an excellent point!

There are four children in my household and each one is very different from the others. The first is a huge supporter of “under dogs”. If she feels someone (or a group) is under attack she swoops in to defend them. This child always pleased people when she was younger but is now loud and makes her feelings heard. She stands up for what she believes to be true and fights very passionately for what she deems to be right, just, and fair…truth, justice, and the American way looks to be her policy.

The next child is quiet, just goes with the flow, yet has a “let the chips fall where they may” mentality. When she is disobedient she is passive about it which requires me to pay close attention because she does not broadcast her defiance. This child was exceedingly articulate when she was very young yet talks softly and not very confidently now and seems to have a humble attitude. It is hard for me know how she feels about things because she is so quiet and apparently content just doing what everyone else is doing. It is difficult to see where her heart lies.

The third child is also very quiet yet remarkably stubborn at times. He openly professes his love for God and Jesus and encourages those around him to have faith that leads to grace. Most of the time he is obedient however sometimes he just wants to do what he wants to do (as he puts it) and argues with me or flat out says, “No, I’m not going to do that.” He has a gentle spirit and a heart that loves and in turn hurts deeply. This child will throw a massive temper tantrum and then asks to read his bible when he is sent to his room for a time out following his outburst. He has a repentant heart.

The fourth child is exceptionally loud and very energetic. His volume is always turned up high and he goes full speed ahead from the moment he rises in the morning until the second before he falls asleep. He does not like to be overly affectionate, except to me and sometimes his siblings, and he enjoys playing hard and being rough. He is outstandingly open about his love for God and Jesus and finds it hard to understand when he meets someone who does not have faith that leads to grace. Though he is dreadfully rough-and-tumble he possesses a tender heart and feelings that are easily hurt.

Out of the four children in my household I believe I protect the second child and fourth child the most. They are wired differently than the average child and are sometimes mistreated and/or misunderstood because of this. God has made them unique. I struggle with sin in my own heart and try not be like a "mother bear" protecting her young.

Matthew 18:12: What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?

Matthew 21:32: For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

Matthew 27:3: Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders,

It is my heartfelt prayer that the children in my home will be of God’s elect, that they will have faith that leads to grace, and that they will receive a new heart of flesh from God and eyes to see and ears to hear. Fervently I ask my King for their salvation and am mindful of their hearts. John Piper reminds me, "...pray like crazy for...them. And keep showing...them the gospel of undeserved, blood-bought grace." I will continue sowing the seeds with the children in my household!

Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— (Romans 9:21-23. ESV.)

Book Recommendations regarding Parenting:

© 2009 B.T.P.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Gospel Coalition

(You can also read an edited transcript of this video.)

Visit The Gospel Coalition.

An Encouragement and Precaution for Parents

(by John Piper)

Jesus tells of two sons:

What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” And he answered, “I will not,” but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, “I go, sir,” but did not go. (Matthew 21:28-30)

I draw this advice for parents from these words: Do not despair of the rebel, and do not assume the heart of the compliant child is with you.

Which means practically, pray like crazy for both of them. And keep showing both of them the gospel of undeserved, blood-bought grace.

© Desiring God

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

Jonathan Edwards's Apologetic: In Theory and Practice

(by Justin Taylor)

If you're looking for a book on what Jonathan Edwards thought about certainty, epistemology, the role of the Spirit, and the role and purpose of apologetics, you probably can't do better than Steve Nichols's An Absolute Sort of Certainty: The Holy Spirit and the Apologetics of Jonathan Edwards (P&R, 2003).

Continue reading this post.

Please, Lord! Prove My Point…

(by Trevin Wax)

“Man, who made Me a judge or arbitrator over you?”
- Jesus, to a man in the crowd (Luke 12:14)

As Jesus taught the crowds about the kingdom of God, a man called out and asked Jesus to command his brother to divide his family’s inheritance with him.

The man surely thought himself correct regarding the family dispute, and knowing that Jesus held authority in the mind of his brother, he figured he would use Jesus to get his own way. The man wanted to end the estranged relationship he held with his brother by calling for Jesus to issue the final decree of division - proclaiming his point of view and thus winning the battle over the family’s money.

I fear that too often we act just like this man. We take minor and petty disagreements with our brothers and sisters in Christ and begin to see them as major differences.

Continue reading this post.

God-given thirst

(by Tony Woodlief for World Magazine)

Spiritual thirst is a gift from God, declared Alexander Schmemann in one of the talks he delivered to Russian Christians suffering under communism. In the face of this God-given yearning, he said, “complete ideologies have sprung up, based on the rejection and renunciation of spiritual thirst, on hatred toward it.”

Continue reading this post.

Homeschoolers ordered to school

(by Kristin Chapman for World Magazine)

A North Carolina judge, who is presiding over the divorce proceedings of Thomas and Venessa Mills, has ordered the mother to stop homeschooling her three children and put them back into public school. According to court papers, Thomas Mills had “objected to the children being removed from public school” four years ago after his wife got involved with a local church.

Continue reading this post.

Deeper realities

(by Lynn Vincent for World Magazine)

What happens when a prominent physicist — a French physicist, no less — amasses a body of evidence that science cannot fully explain the “nature of being,” and that there is likely a true “spiritual dimension” to human existence?

Continue reading this post.

Too much to tell

(by Megan Basham for World Magazine)

This month, NBC is launching an ambitious new series, Kings, it hopes will revitalize its faltering ratings (the network currently comes in last place among ABC, CBS, and Fox overall). Heroes producer Michael Green created the hour-long drama, a modern retelling of the life of King David, after he took a trip to visit his mother in Israel.

However, he warns that while the series is based on the Bible, audiences may find that it's not the same David they're familiar with. And certain elements are already stirring up a storm on the web. I chatted with Green recently about the show, some of the controversies it presents, and what viewers can expect.

Continue reading this post.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Penn Says: A Gift of a Bible

I am sad Penn feels there is no God but what he has to say about Christian's sharing God's word is actually pretty interesting and got me thinking...and maybe even encouraged me a bit!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Here Your Proud Waves Must Stop

(by: me)

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth and issued from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band; when I fixed My limit for it, and set bars and doors; when I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, and here your proud waves must stop!’” (Job 38:1-2 & 8-11. NKJV.)

How wretched am I to question my Father and become frustrated with the obstacles He places before me! What an untrusting, ungrateful daughter am I who whines and complains. Yet my King remains true to me and continues growing me in various areas so I may bear fruit. (John 15:2.) And I have not to this day abandoned my prideful, foolish nature.

“God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble”. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:5-7.)

Matthew 20:26: But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,

Matthew 20:27: and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,

John 13:14: If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

James 4:10: Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Psalm 37:5: Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.

Psalm 55:2: Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Humble me, Father! Let my eyes be focused on You and my thoughts kept in perspective. This life is but a vapor that will leave just as quickly as it came. It will be a moment of time in the scheme of eternity, yet it will determine my time without end. By Your grace I have been saved, Father, and by your grace I awaken each morning to a new day. I should have a joyful spirit instead of struggling with my sin of self pity and self love.

As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God! (Psalm 40:17. ESV.)

© 2009 B.T.P.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

2 Stages of God’s Care for Us: Fettered and Freed

(by John Piper)

In this age, God rescues his people from some harm. Not all harm. That’s comforting to know, because otherwise we might conclude from our harm that he has forgotten us or rejected us.

So be encouraged by the simple reminder that in Acts 16:19-24 Paul and Silas were not delivered, but in verses 25-26 they were.

First, no deliverance:

* “They seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace.” (v. 19)
* “The magistrates tore the garments off them.” (v. 22)
* They “inflicted many blows upon them.” (v. 23)
* The jailer “fastened their feet in the stocks.” (v. 24)

But then deliverance:

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God...and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. (v. 25-26)

God could have stepped in sooner. He didn’t. He has his reasons. He loves Paul and Silas.

Question for you: If you plot your life along this continuum, where are you? Are you in the stripped and beaten stage, or the unshackled, door-flung-open stage?

Both are God’s stages of care for you.

If you are in the fettered stage, don’t despair. Sing. Freedom is on the way. It is only a matter of time. Even if it comes through death.

© Desiring God

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

Scheduling the Unexpected

(by C.J. Mahaney)

At the beginning of the biblical productivity series, I stated that busyness is no sign of diligence, faithfulness, or fruitfulness. And that is because busyness does not indicate that we are devoting ourselves to the most important things. We can become busy with everything under the sun except fulfilling the roles God has assigned for us. And no matter how busy I appear, if I am neglecting one of my primary roles, I am a procrastinator, spinning in unproductive circles.

Continue reading this post.

Children at Risk

(Carolyn McCulley)

Sometimes the gravity of a situation can render me mute.
I've been thinking about how so many children are at risk -- and struggling to find the words to process my thoughts.

One haunting article was published this Sunday in the Washington Post magazine, "Fatal Distraction." It was written by a man who is usually known for his middle-school humor. But in this case, Gene Weingarten showed an amazing sensitivity to parents who have suffered a baffling tragedy: they accidentally left their babies to die, strapped down in a locked and overheated car.

Continue reading this post.

Daily World Magazine

I was not a big daily news fan until I met World Magazine. Their Christian approach to the worldly news is refreshing. And, as always, they have some good stories for today...however I am not going to post all of the links today. But here is one to get you started:

Another one gets the boot
(by Kristin Chapman)

Charles W. Freeman Jr., President Obama’s appointee to chair the National Intelligence Council, withdrew from consideration this week after he came under fire for his Israel policy views. Israel supporters had expressed grave concern about Freeman’s attitude toward Israel after he said a key barrier to Mideast peace was “Israeli violence against Palestinians.”

Continue reading this post.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pastor shot in Bihar, India

(by Voice of the Martyrs)

This afternoon, Compass Direct released a report of a violent attack on a pastor in the eastern Indian state of Bihar in an attempt to stop his evangelistic work. Here is a summary:

Continue reading this post.

Good News! Relying on Grace Gives God Glory

(by John Piper)

It is very good news that God designs his glory to be magnified through the exercise of his grace.

To be sure, God is glorified through the power of his wrath (Romans 9:22), but repeatedly the New Testament (and OT, e.g. Isaiah 30:18) says that we should experience God’s grace so that God gets glory.

Ponder how this works in the prayer of 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12,

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul prays that God would fulfill our good resolves.

How? He prays that they would be done “by [God’s] power.” That is, that they be “works of faith.”

Why? So that Jesus would be glorified in us.

That means the giver gets the glory. If we fulfill a good resolve “by his power” he gets the glory. We have faith; he gives power. We get the help; he gets the glory. That’s the deal that keeps us humble and happy and keeps him supreme and glorious.

Then Paul says that this glorification of Christ is “according to the grace of God and the Lord Jesus.”

God’s answer to Paul’s prayer that we rely on God’s power to do good works is grace. God’s power to enable you to do what you resolve to do is grace.

That’s the way it works in the New Testament over and over. Trust God for gracious enabling and he gets the glory when the help comes.

We get the help. He gets the glory.

That’s why Christian living, not just Christian conversion, is good news.

* “[Serve] in the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 4:11)

* “[May you be] filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:11)

* “It is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:15)

* “We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

* “And not only that, but he has been appointed by the churches to travel with us as we carry out this act of grace that is being ministered by us, for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our good will.” (2Corinthians 8:19).

* “…to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6)

© Desiring God

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

How God Visits Sins on the Third and Fourth Generation

(by John Piper)

Does God visit the sins of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation? Some texts seem to say he does and others seem to say he doesn’t. Our job is to figure out the sense in which he does and the sense in which he doesn’t.

On the one hand it seems as if he does:

The Lord...visits the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation. (Exodus 34:6-7 = Deuteronomy 5:8-10)

“Because of their iniquity, and also because of the iniquities of their fathers they shall rot away like them.” (Leviticus 26:39)

On the other hand it seems that he doesn’t:

Continue reading this post.

How to Wait for Jesus

(by Justin Taylor)

D.A. Carson preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis:

* How to Wait for Jesus, Part 1
* How to Wait for Jesus, Part 2

A Test Case for How to Put the Bible Together: Baptism

(by Andy Naselli)

Christians disagree—sometimes sharply—on how themes unfold in the OT and NT. Here are a few examples:

1. the old covenant and new covenant
2. law and grace
3. Israel and the church
4. promise and fulfillment
5. type and antitype
6. the Sabbath and Lord’s day
7. circumcision and baptism

People cannot study such issues in an isolated way without raising larger biblical and theological structural issues.

Continue reading this post.

Sound Doctrine, Sound Words (Part 2)

(By Phil Johnson)

Now, that's a much longer introduction than I originally intended to give, but I want to stress that this problem is serious, and widespread, and it's moving through the evangelical movement with frightening speed. As one guy said, it's not really a trend anymore; it has become the new norm.

One more thing about contextualization. (I spoke on this subject at last year's Shepherds' Conference): If your approach to contextualization is designed mainly to make you fit comfortably into a pagan culture—then you have an upside-down view of what Paul meant when he spoke of becoming all things to all men so that he might by all means win some.

Continue reading this post.

Preachin' Dirty

(by Phil Johnson)

Pulpit Live is currently posting transcripts from Friday morning's plenary session at last week's Shepherds' Conference. The comment-threads there would be a perfect place for me to answer some of the questions I have received since the Shepherds' Conference, but for reasons unknown, the Pulpit website won't accept my comments. (I'm dead to them.)

On top of the many comments posted in various on-line forums, I've received about two dozen e-mails from people who have written me directly to ask questions or lodge complaints about Friday's message. All who have written me directly have been very gracious, and I believe all of them have been sincere.

Continue reading this post.

A Worthwhile Documentary on the Abortion Debate

(by Trevin Wax)

My wife and I recently rented a 2007 documentary about abortion in the United States entitled Lake of Fire. It is directed by Tony Kaye, a British filmmaker who spent 15 years putting this documentary together.

Let me say up front that everyone interested in the debate over abortion in America should rent this documentary. Let me warn you in advance that there are some gruesome images, including footage of three abortions. There is also an indecent scene featuring a pro-abortion woman’s rock band that you will want to forward past.

Continue reading this post.

Reaction to Obama’s reversal

(by Mickey McLean for World Magazine)

Here are some reactions to President Obama’s reversing of the ban on federally funded embryonic stem cell research:

Albert Mohler at albertmohler.com–”Those wondering when President Obama would make a clear move on a matter that involves the sanctity of human life now have their answer—and its consequences. When President Obama says he will “respect” the point of view that such research is immoral, his respect is hard to detect. . . . The vulnerable human embryo is now at greater risk than ever before. And this, inevitably, means that every single human life is devalued by this decision.”

Yuval Levin at National Review Online—”Science policy is not a science:

Continue reading this post.

But what about the money…

(by randybohlender)

The most common objection we hear about adoption involves the cost. It seems a lot of people have a heart for adoption but not the stomach for the cost. While some fees can be avoided (that’s a long post for another day), adoption is often expensive. That said, I’ve never met an adoptive parent who regretted plunking down the money either.

What most people are feeling is inadequate when it comes to raising the funds.

Continue reading this post.

Man charged in church shooting

(by Lynn Vincent for World Magazine)

Illinois authorities today charged Terry J. Sedlacek, 27, with fatally shooting First Baptist Church Pastor Fred Winters yesterday during Sunday services in Maryville, Illinois. Parishioners still don’t recognize the man or know what motivated him to kill Winters. Two men whose actions are being called “heroic” sustained knife wounds when they wrestled Sedlacek to the floor during the shooting.

Continue reading this post.

Religion on the decline

(by Kristin Chapman for World Magazine)

According to a new study released yesterday, the percentage of Americans who identify themselves as Christians has declined over the past two decades, although less dramatically in recent years.

Continue reading this post.

Firm in the faith

(by Andrée Seu from World Magazine)

I am tutoring the wife in a family of immigrants who recently arrived from Asia. Today she had me proofread one of her ninth-grade son’s social studies assignments, in which I noticed he said some very appreciative things about a new religion he’s been introduced to at the local high school: Taoism. I’m sure that the mom’s language skills are good enough to get the gist of her son’s paper, but I can see that she is not fazed. She just wants red marks on the spelling and syntax.

I wouldn’t normally be alarmed myself except that I’m having déjà vu: Christian family moves to America, the kiddos go off to school, and three things happen:

Continue reading this post.

Monday, March 09, 2009

More Joy in Heaven

(by Trevin Wax)

Let’s face it. People are self-centered. You, me, everyone. People tend to think of themselves and their own needs before those of others. Even after we become Christians, we can invert even the good gifts of God manifested in our lives, turning blessings into evidence that the world really does revolve around us. This kind of attitude then leads us to neglect the work of God in the lives of others because we are foolishly concentrating only on what God does for us.

Continue reading this post.

Christians and Accountability

(by Tim Challies)

I am convinced there is great benefit in Christians pursuing accountability relationships, at least in some situations. It is valuable, I believe, for Christians to meet on a regular basis to confess sin, to speak of God’s grace, to share triumphs, to ask tough questions and to pray for one another. I meet every week among a group of leaders from my church and just about every week somebody asks one of these questions: “Is there anything you really do not want to talk about?” or “Is there something you should tell us that you’re hoping nobody will ask?” These are good questions, leading questions, that cause us to probe our hearts a little bit to see if there is something we ought to confess. As leaders and potential leaders in the church, we desire transparency; we believe the Bible demands it.

Read this post.

Sound Doctrine, Sound Words (Part 1)

(By Phil Johnson)

This morning I want to look at two verses in Titus 2—verses 7-8. This is an admonition from Paul to Titus, his friend, partner, protege, and true son in the faith. Titus is one of the unsung heroes of the early church—a young pastor whose faithful support and constant behind-the-scenes labor made him extremely precious to Paul. Paul writes to Titus with these instructions (Titus 2:7-8): "Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us."

Continue reading this post.

When Convictions Differ

(by John Thomas)

What defines "Christian" behavior is a topic of discussion that requires an enormous amount of grace. While the New Testament is packed full of behavioral commands, we need to remember that Jesus' most searing rebukes where reserved for those who "behaved" right on the outside but whose hearts were dark on the inside. White-washed tombs, He called them. Sons of Satan.

Read this post.

How to Handle Criticism When You Defend Doctrine

(by Justin Taylor)

When engaged in polemics it does not take too long before strong words can be spoken against your character. The great New Testament scholar Gresham Machen was often vilified and subject to personal attacks. Why does this happen and how should you handle it?

Expect it. Those who teach aberrant doctrine successfully are always, always possessed of two qualities – pride and intelligence.

Read this post.

Pray for Blessed Eyes

(by John Piper)

When the disciples asked Jesus why he spoke in parables he said:

To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. (Matthew 13:11)

The parables were part of God’s judgment on blindness.

This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see. (Matthew 13:13)

And the judgment he rendered on blindness was more blindness.

To you it has been given to know.... To them it has not been given, (Matthew 13:11)

But to the disciples he said,

But blessed are your eyes, for they see. (Matthew 13:16)

Do you have “blessed eyes”? The new birth is the gift of “blessed eyes.” This is what Paul was sent to do in the power of Christ: “I am sending you to open their eyes” (Acts 26:18).

And once we have “blessed eyes,” we pray for the fullest use of them every day.

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. (Psalms 119:18)

Nothing is more important for joy and love and worship than the gift of “blessed eyes.” O pray for blessed eyes.

© Desiring God

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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

The Wings of Prayer

(by Tim Challies)

While Charles Spurgeon has justly gone down in history as “the Prince of Preachers,” he was also a man who prayed very powerfully. Tony Capoccia has gone to the trouble of updating just a few of Spurgeon’s prayers, removing some of the antiquated language and replacing it with language that is a bit more familiar to us. Though these prayers are clearly geared to corporate prayer, they are valuable even to individuals as we seek to pray better, more powerfully, to our God. Here is one that Tony has titled “The Wings of Prayer.” I marked with bold type my favorite portion of the prayer.

Continue reading this post.

Author Spotlight: C.J. Mahaney

NEXT Monthly Webzine is featuring C.J. Mahaney! Click here to visit NEXT Webzine and check it out for yourself!!!

Civilizing moments

(by Tony Woodlief for World Magazine)

Our culture feels like a diet of sugary cereal, and so it’s with an odd relief that I, in recent weeks, have stumbled upon life-affirming moments that remind me that we haven’t all forgotten that community means more than contiguity. The first was a gathering at a friend’s church, a celebration in advance of their Lenten observation. Their church has a large immigrant population, and so there was Middle Eastern music, and food, and dancing. Some of them got up and sang songs from the places they’ve left behind. Old and young mingled with ease, and you could see the children absorbing the traditions of their families.

Read this post.

Pray for First Baptist Church of Maryville, Ill.

(by Justin Taylor)

This morning a gunman opened fire during the church service of First Baptist Church of Maryville, IL (about 20 minutes from downtown St. Louis), killing the senior pastor, Fred Winter. Rev. Dr. Winters was in the pulpit at the time. He sought to shield the bullets with his Bible, but died from a gunshot wound to his chest. The shooter's gun jammed, and he stabbed himself with a knife. Others were injured in an attempt to restrain him. At this time only one death has been reported.

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Pastor slain Sunday in church shooting

(by Lynn Vincent for World Magazine)

Hours ago, a man walked up the aisle at First Baptist Church of Maryville, Illinois. He exchanged words with Pastor Fred Winters, then pulled out a 45-caliber handgun and shot Winters dead. USA Today reports:

Continue reading this post.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Pastor Killed During Sunday Service

I do not know all the details regarding this story but was quite surprised to read about it in the news.

Click here to see this story.

Full story on video.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

More Excellent Sermons from Pastor Jim Smith

Arrested in a Garden (Low Quality)
John 18:1-12

Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus
1When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron Valley, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, "Whom do you seek?" 5 They answered him, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus said to them, "I am he." Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, "Whom do you seek?" And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth." 8 Jesus answered, "I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go." 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: "Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one." 10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?"

Jesus Faces Annas and Caiaphas

12 So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him.

A Trial and a Denial
John 18:12-27

Jesus Faces Annas and Caiaphas
12 So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. 13 First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.

Peter Denies Jesus
15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the court of the high priest, 16 but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. 17 The servant girl at the door said to Peter, "You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?" He said, "I am not." 18 Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.

The High Priest Questions Jesus
19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, "I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said." 22 When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, "Is that how you answer the high priest?" 23 Jesus answered him, "If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?" 24 Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Peter Denies Jesus Again
25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, "You also are not one of his disciples, are you?" He denied it and said, "I am not." 26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, "Did I not see you in the garden with him?" 27 Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.

Friday, March 06, 2009

An Interview with the Youngest Children in my Home

Once again I have the chance to view myself through the eyes of my children. This time it is the youngest ones in the house. I asked them the following questions and they, of course, gave me their very honest answers. So here we go...

1. What is something mom always says to you?
"Do your school work."

2. What makes mom happy?
"When we do our school work."

3. What makes mom sad?
"When the bottle falls on your toe." (Once a full bottle of baby oil fell on my toe and I cried.)

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
"By doing funny faces."

5. What was your mom like as a child?
"Our love."

6. How old is your mom?
"I don't know!" "You're going to get old like dad!"

7. How tall is your mom?
"Don't ask." "Shorter than dad!"

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
"Make us happy!"

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
"You always go on the computer."

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?

11. What is your mom really good at?
"Telling us what to do!"

12. What is your mom not very good at?
"You're not good at anything."

13. What does your mom do for her job?
"Stay at the CASA office."

14. What is your mom's favorite food?
"Salad." "Strawberries."

15. What makes you proud of your mom?
"When you don't let us do school work." "Because you're our mom and we love you. And you love us."

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
"Princess Leia" (Star Wars)

17. What do you and your mom do together?
"We always sit and watch t.v." (I think they mean movies here. I don't really watch regular t.v.)

18. How are you and your mom the same
"We're the same colors."

19. How are you and your mom different?
"From the length of us." (Our height.)

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
"Because of your kisses and hugs."

21. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
"The book store!"

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Shepherding Conference May 2008

Shepherd's Conference General 3 John MacArthur p1: What kind of church's did Jesus condemn?

Shepherd's Conference General 3 John MacArthur p2: What kind of church's did Jesus condemn?

God Serves Us So We'll Serve Others

(by Abraham Piper)

David Mathis's article "Served by God, Serving Man" is posted at Ligonier. He writes,

Sacrificial service in the church doesn’t start with serving. It starts with being served by God. Then as we are satisfied in Him and who He’s revealed Himself to be in His crucified Son, we gladly overflow in service of others.

Read the whole thing for more on "what amazing communities our churches are when we gather both with the expectation of receiving from God and with the expectation of giving to others."

© Desiring God

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

Reading the Classics - Real Christianity (I)

(by Tim Challies)

Today, as part of the Reading Classics Together effort, we begin looking at the next classic of the Christian faith—William Wilberforce’s Real Christianity. We’ve gone from C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity to Wilberforce’s Real Christianity. It’s nothing more than coincidence.

If you are interested in reading along with us, there is still plenty of time. Over the next seven weeks we will be reading this classic of the Christian faith, one chapter per week, and posting thoughts and reflections at this blog.

Continue reading this post.

Meet Jerry Bridges

(by C.J. Mahaney)

So who is Jerry Bridges? What is he presently reading? How does he structure his devotional time? What is his favorite book on the gospel? Let’s find out.

Read this post.

The Public Reading of Scripture

(by Justin Taylor)

A good post here by Dan Phillips on why we should do it (hint: the Bible tells us so) and how we should do it.

Paul commanded Timothy to devote himself to the public reading of Scripture (1 Tim. 4:13). And the early church took this seriously. In about A.D. 150–155 Justin Martyr, describing a typical church service, includes the importance of reading the Word aloud:

Continue reading this post.

Abortion clinic owner arrested

World magazine offers an article about an unbelievable story regarding an abortion clinic worker who placed a living baby in a bio-hazard bag which suffocated the infant. There is also a link to another website where the writer there offers more details.

Click here to read this story.

Overshadowed Productions

(by Justin Taylor)

Last week my wife and I were graciously invited to attend a play, entitled Unshaken Love: The Story of Ruth, put on by Overshadowed Productions. It was at a small church in Chicagoland's historic downtown Itasca. We had a wonderful time, and as soon as we got home we ordered tickets for my mom and our five-year-old daughter to attend the show the next day. It's surely one of the best-kept secrets in the Chicago area.

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Confessions of a Legalist

(by Rachel Starr Thomson)

Legalism is also incredibly destructive to relationships within the Body of Christ. Whenever I set up my own laws as equal to God's, I become a horrible judge of others — proud, arrogant and unforgiving. In Romans 14:4, Paul rebukes those who judge their brethren by standards God has not set: "Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand."

Read this post.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Color Blind

(by: me)

I have a few loved ones who are color blind. They either cannot see color at all or they have difficulty differentiating colors such as red from orange and blue from green, etc. I am sure this sometimes causes confusion and frustration and I have witnessed a few incidents where this condition has caused a pretty comical outcome. All of this I say in deep felt love without any intent to hurt feelings.

As I was thinking about my loved ones and color blindness I could not help but compare it to individuals who are blind to God and Christ Jesus. They might have good intentions but with an inability to see things clearly or accurately there is misunderstanding and annoyance. God in a beautiful hue of red may come across rather as a dull orange. His bold and unshakeable blue might be mistaken for a warm yet not as distinctive, perhaps wishy washy green. But is that the fault of the person? No, they have no control over how their eyes work or how the signal is perceived by the brain. It is just the way they are wired. It is the way God created them.

So why do I struggle with my sin of aggravation and disappointment so much sometimes when interacting with someone who may be blind to God and Christ? Their eyes and mind tell them one perspective while I stand before them trying to convince them they are incorrect about what they see and know to be true. If the sky looks green to me why would I believe anyone who tells me otherwise? If the grass appears blue why would I doubt what I witness?

Before I received God’s grace and had a change of heart in 2006, I was blind to so many things!!! I did not have the Holy Spirit within me and could not see things clearly.

Ezekiel 36:26: And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 11:20: that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

Acts 26:12-20: "In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. 14And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' 15And I said, 'Who are you, Lord?' And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles— to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'
19"Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.
Acts 22:4: And he said, 'The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth;

Jeremiah 15:20: And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the LORD.

Isaiah 35:5: Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped;

Isaiah 24:7: …to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9. ESV.)

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26. ESV.)

© 2009 B.T.P.


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