Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Free Will of the Wind

(by John Piper)

Listen Watch

video

Look to the Crucified Christ


When, in your helplessness and deadness, you say, “What shall I do?” Jesus says, “Look away from yourself to the Son of Man, lifted up on a cross to die for your sins.” The work of the Spirit in the new birth is to make us alive so that we see the glory of Christ crucified and risen. So look to him. Look to the Son of Man.

And when you hear Jesus say, “The Spirit blows where it wills,” don’t hear him taking from you the will that you treasure, but hear him giving to you eyes to see Christ as your treasure.


© 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.

Blogging the CDG Conference

(by Abraham Piper)

The Children Desiring God National Conference starts tonight. We'll hear from John Piper, Bruce Ware, Paul David Tripp, David Michael, and more.

Here at the DG blog, Tyler Kenney and I will be blogging the plenary sessions as well as several of the almost 40 elective seminars.

If you'd like to follow along, please subscribe by RSS or email. We'll also link each new entry here, so if you want to let others know about the CDG conference blog, this is the post to send them to.

© 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

Glorifying God in Trials

(by Tim Challies)

Today’s post comes courtesy of my good friend Ryan who offers some reflections on glorifying God through life’s trials. He wrote this article yesterday.

Continue reading this post.

Egyptian Christians suffer from swine flu response

(by Glenn Penner for Persecuted Church Weblog)

Who would have thought that swine flu and persecuted Christians could be linked in some way? But yesterday’s announcement by the Egyptian government that all of the country’s pigs were to be slaughtered due to unfounded fears that they might spread the disease will have a devastating impact on Egypt’s Christians.

Continue reading post.

All God's Callings

(by Nathan Finn)

As a graduate of a small liberal-arts college affiliated with an evangelical denomination, I frequently heard my fellow students talk about their calling.

"Calling" simply meant that God was giving someone a particular desire — presumably something that would glorify Him — and thus directly leading the student in a particular direction.

Continue reading this post.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Can You Lose Your Salvation?

(By John MacArthur)

For many years people have debated the issue of whether a Christian can lose his salvation. Some within Christendom believe you can lose your salvation; others say you can’t.

Continue reading this post.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The problem of defining “persecution”

(by Glenn Penner for Persecuted Church Weblog)

For those of us who minister to and on behalf of persecuted Christians, it is generally agreed and understood that there is no consensus on the correct use of the term “persecution.”

Continue reading this post.

Is It Safe to Follow Jesus?

(by Glenn Penner of the Persecuted Church Weblog)

During my devotional time this morning, I was reading from Nehemiah 6. In this chapter, Nehemiah’s enemies sought to immobilize him with threats and fear.

Continue reading this post.

Friday, April 24, 2009

More for Moms from the Girltalkers

A Mother's Pride
(by Carolyn Mahaney)

“A foolish son is a sorrow to his mother” it says in Proverbs. Some of you know all too well the truth of these words.

Continue reading this post.

A Mother's Prayer
(by Nicole Whitacre)

If you are the mother of a rebellious child, the great pastor Charles Spurgeon has some encouraging counsel for you:

Continue reading this post.

A Mother's Conversation
(by Carolyn Mahaney)

I’ve been a mother to four teenagers now—three are adults and one is still a teen. I’ve had hundreds (probably thousands) of conversations with my kids.

Continue reading this post.

Grace Abounding to a Teenager
(by Kristin Chesemore)

At the Sovereign Grace Pastors Conference last week we received exceptional teaching from God’s Word. As a mom, I was particularly encouraged by Jared Mellinger’s sermon on Psalm 78.

Continue reading this post.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ginger Plowman



Also check out Ginger Plowman's fabulous book "DON'T MAKE ME COUNT TO THREE!"

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Epitome of a Quiet Spirit

(by: me)

“Do not let your adornment be merely outward – arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel – rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” (1 Peter 3:3-4. NKJV.)


When I was growing up there was a beautiful, Japanese woman who lived across the street from us. My family and I were invited over to her home often and still keep in contact with her today. She was and continues to be very hospitable. I remember her home was always spotless clean with no sign of laundry, spider webs, or dust bunnies (like the ones found in the home I keep). Even her garage was immaculate. And her house was at all times filled with the enticing aroma of delicious food! Plates and plates full of rice, egg rolls, chicken wings, and noodles with water chestnuts sat upon the kitchen table just waiting to be devoured! My favorite were then (and still today) the Japanese rice crackers she shared with me…some with seaweed, several without…a few with sesame seeds, others lacking…but all mouth watering delectable!!!

This woman, who in my eyes is the very essence of loveliness, has two children. I knew them fairly well when they were in elementary school through high school and I recall thinking to myself (when I was little), “I hope her children are well behaved and good to her,” because I could not imagine this woman, this tender mother ever raising her voice or struggling with her own sin of frustration or anger. I knew her to be always gentle, soft spoken, tender hearted and never without self control.

God makes His expectations of biblical men and women very clear in His word. 1 Timothy 2:8-15 says,
“I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self control.” (NKJV.)


Faith, love, and holiness, with self control…what beautiful attributes! When I think about these along with a quiet, gentle spirit, I think about the exquisite woman I have mentioned above and how her beauty should be a worldly example of biblical charisma for me to follow. I am thankful God placed her in my life for many reasons. One of which is that I have a living, breathing visual example of what my King desires me to look like.

“But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things – that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

“For the grace of god that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (Titus 2:1-5 & 11-14. NKJV.)

Stop the World by Matthew West


Sheila Dougal shared this at http://a-homemakers-meditations.blogspot.com/ and I thought it was lovely. Thanks Sheila.

How to Kill Sin in Your Life

How to Kill Sin in Your Life (Part 1)
(by John MacArthur)

Today's article comes from a message John preached on a practical plan for overcoming personal sin.

The question is, “How do I kill sin in my life?

Continue reading this post.

How to Kill Sin in Your Life (Part 2)
(by John MacArthur)

Today’s post is the second part in our series on how to kill sin in your life.

Yesterday, we considered the first of five steps necessary to killing sin in your life — namely, that you must recognize the presence of sin in your flesh.

Continue reading this post.

Also check out RESPECTABLE SINS by Jerry Bridges

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dry Bones

(by: me)

This past Sunday, Pastor Jim Smith read a passage from Ezekiel which really got me thinking! Ezekiel 37: 1-14 says,


The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. 2And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. 3And he said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord GOD, you know." 4Then he said to me, "Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD."

7So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. 9Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live." 10So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

11Then he said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.' 12Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD."


When I was 20 years old I received a job oversees in Asia. I had never been to Asia before so I felt great anxiety over moving there for 9 months. The same can be said for my similar feelings over the death of my body and eternal life with God and His precious Son. Sometimes it keeps me up at night just going over it in my mind.

Aside from numerous other things, I have to remind myself that God’s grace is sufficient however it does not cover the abundant “what ifs” rolling around in my thoughts. God addresses reality, not the worries that plague the scenarios in my head.


1 Corinthians 15:34-37: Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame. 35But someone will ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?" 36You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain.

John 5:28-29: Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

Rev 11:7-12: And when [my two witnesses] have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, 8and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. 9For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, 10and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth. 11But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. 12Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here!" And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them.

Isaiah 26:19: Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.

Ezekiel 36:27: And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Ezekiel 36:24: I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land.

Ezekiel 17:24: And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the LORD; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it."


So now, I suppose, the only question left rolling around in my head is…when our body is dead (or asleep – like Lazarus) where is our soul? Is it asleep with the body or with God and Christ in Heaven? I look to Jesus’ answer to the thief while on the cross. Luke 23:43 says, And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

2 Corinthians 12:2-5: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago – whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows – such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man – whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows – how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities.

Ephesians 4:8-10: Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.” (Now this, “He ascended” – what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

Revelations 2:7: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”


I also look to Enoch and Elijah. Enoch walked with God and then disappeared off the face of the earth one day and Elijah was taken to Heaven on a chariot of fire. Further scripture says,

1 Thess 4:15-17: For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

Isaiah 26:19: Your dead shall live; together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; for your dew is like the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.

1 Corinth 15:51-52: Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

Daniel 12:2: And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Matthew 25:46: And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

Acts 24:15-16: I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and man.


Phew, that’s a lot of information! Got ya thinking yet?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Go Deep

(by Trevin Wax)

Peter had labored with his fellow fishermen all night long and had not caught anything. Feeling discouraged, exhausted, and hopeless, the men were probably just about ready to call it quits. That’s when Jesus walked up along the shore and gave Peter some advice. “Go a little deeper!”

Continue reading this post.

The Quiet Time Performance

(by Tim Challies)

Like all Christians, I love my quiet time. I am always thrilled at the prospect of sitting down for a few quiet moments before a busy day to spend some time alone with God—a few moments one-on-one with my Creator.

Continue reading this post.

Consumed By Hatred

(by John Thomas for Boundless Webzine)

I have a history of struggling with depression and lately, have embarked on therapy in order to undercover what's preventing me from bearing fruit (no interest in dating, losing weight, depression, job hopping, etc.).

Read this post.

Saudi Christian’s blog still blocked

(by Glenn Penner for Voice of the Martyrs)

In a Compass Direct report on Thursday, Gamal Eid, director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI ) said that he was not surprised the blog was blocked.

Read this post.

Preview

(by Phil Johnson for Pyromaniacs)

Sixteen years ago Crossway released John MacArthur's Ashamed of the Gospel. That book has never gone out of print.

Continue reading this post.

Knowing Christ

(by John MacArthur)

The apostle Paul perfectly expresses the most earnest desire of every true follower of Christ: “That I may know him” (Phil. 3:10).

“Knowing Christ,” in the Pauline sense is not the sort of mystical relationship many people imagine.

Continue reading this post.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Multitude of Sins

(by: me)

“Whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).


This is the scripture I have been preaching to myself for the past few days. I am convinced the children in my home take turns being God’s servants in growing and stretching me! The challenges never seem to end but boy do I find myself at the foot of the cross and my King’s throne often…and for that I am so thankful!

As children grow they seemingly become keenly aware of how they are wired and use it to their advantage. They are hard hearted, slaves to their sin and to the flesh until God gives to them a new heart not of stone but of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). And until the Holy Spirit begins convicting them, I feel it is my job to act in a Holy Spirit type capacity to train them in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6)…which sounds MUCH easier than it truly is…mainly because I cannot see their heart.

It is always a blessing (and often times a great conviction) to hear and watch the children when they think I am not around. The lip service stops and what lies in their heart becomes a bit clearer to me. The ugly sin that leaks out is a wake up call to me! Hello!!! Their heart is not in it yet!!! Press on!!!

The hardest sin for me to address thus far is the sneaky, quietly deceitful, and careful not to draw attention to itself sin. Were it not for a few acts of God clueing me in, I would never know about some of the wretched sins that are being committed by the children in my home! And He does bring it to my attention and I am called to respond…even when it disturbs the peace. Carolyn Mahaney reminds me,
“Neither turning a blind eye nor remaining ignorant are acceptable options. We cannot afford to assume ‘this is just a phase’ or ‘this is normal for his age.’"


God's word says,
"Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:58)


What a beautiful, refreshing, encouraging promise!

A word to the weary and weak parent

(by Sheila Dougal)

I have been overwhelmed with discouragement this past couple days. Truly I am one of His "weary" and "weak".

Continue reading this post.

A Call to Intentional Mothering

(by Carolyn McCulley)

My friend, Holly Elliff, is featured this week on Revive Our Hearts about intentional mothering and it's an amazing series!

Continue reading this post.

Matt5verse6 is Now on Facebook

Matt5verse6 (for Women) can now be found on Facebook!!! If you are a Facebook user you can follow the blog there, become a "fan", and fellowship on the message board (only God glorifying discussions please.)

Click here for Matt5verse6 (for Women) on Facebook.

How Long Till I Become Holy?

(by Tim Challies)

“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” The world was made perfect and holy, but through the sin of our first parents, Creation fell with us.

Read this post.

The church Jesus left

(by Tony Woodlief for World Magazine)

Churches tend to be perfectly nice places avoided by a good many people. This can be problematic when some of those people are Christians.

Continue reading this post.

MEET THE NEW ATHEISTS... same as the Old Atheists

(by Matt Sieger for Jews for Jesus)

Make room for the new kids on the block—Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens! These "New Atheists" proclaim God's non-existence with great fervor.

Continue reading this post.

I Escaped From Hitler Twice: The Fred Wertheim Story

(by Jews for Jesus)

When a Jew comes to believe in Jesus, it not only affects his life but the lives of those closest to him—his family. This was certainly the case when Steve Wertheim, the son of a Jewish immigrant, came to believe in Jesus.

Continue reading this post.

Survivor Stories


First five minutes of Survivor Stories. To purchase the DVD, click here.

Holocaust Remembrance Day

(by Jews for Jesus)

Holocaust Remembrance Day, which takes place in the Spring, is a time when Jewish people around the world remember the six million Jews and the millions of other people who perished during one of the darkest times in history.

Continue reading this post.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Raising Teens

For those of you who know me well and on a day to day basis, you know my struggles with training up the teens in my household. These children are heavy on my heart as they each navigate through their life, high school, peer pressure, and their own sin. The battles do not seem to end as I assist and parent each one in turn. I get through one obstacle with one child only to trip over the next barrier with the other child. Sometimes the obstructions are small and easy to maneuver around and other times the issues are rather large and I struggle with my own sin of frustration.

The Girltalk gals have been doing a fabulous “Best Deals for Moms of Teenagers” series for which I am truly thankful. It has helped me to know where I am on track in my parenting and in which areas I should re-evaluate and make some changes.

Click here to read the most recent posts in the series:
Proactive Not Reactive
by Carolyn Mahaney

Proactive Parenting

by Carolyn Mahaney

Rear them Tenderly
by Carolyn Mahaney

After Easter

I know this is late but rather late than never I suppose. Excellent reading after Easter.

The Day after Easter

by Stephen Nichols
Click here to read this post.


Abounding Works
by Nancy Ann
Click here to read this post.

That's Easter

Death to Life


Life to Death

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Preachin' Jesus

(by: me)

"You preach Jesus Christ, and that will suit them, I am sure, if they are learned people it will suit them; if they are ignorant it will suit them? God blessing it."
~ Charles Spurgeon

When I am struggling with my sin (which seem likes all the time!) I preach to myself. When I am training up the children in my home, I teach about Jesus. Despite the fact they are the younger children in my residence or the older kids in the house, I instruct them to follow Jesus. Regardless if they are saved or unsaved, I urge them toward Jesus. Whether they realize it or not, I am preachin’ Jesus!

This year Holy Week came with a couple of unexpected blessings…the blessings of questions. But not inquiries from the younger children who learn about Christ when they are sitting in the house, and when they walk by the way, and when they lie down, and when they rise (Deuteronomy 6:7). Rather from my husband and oldest child in the home…both of whom are not followers of Christ. Let me tell you when God opened the door, I went barreling through it!

Charles Spurgeon said,
“A simple gospel text is the word which every man needs who is in fear of divine wrath, and he may be sitting next to you at this moment, or he is in the same house of business with you, and needs that you should tell him about Christ. Do that, and bless his soul. May you all understand the Scriptures in this way, and may God make you a great blessing to those around you.”


The night before Resurrection Sunday my husband asked me why Easter is so important to me. I answered, “Because of Jesus.” A day or two before this, the oldest child in our home began a line of questioning regarding faith that leads to grace (Ephesians 2:8). You see she can spot a Pharisee a mile away and dislikes them just as Jesus did…with great passion! Yet she does not understand she is picking out the legalistic, whitewashed tomb hypocrites. She sees them as professing Christians and has decided if they are what a Christian looks like then she wants no part of following Christ. So it is left to me to point out the differences between true followers and deceiving Pharisees. Which, I explained to her has everything to do with the heart (of flesh)…to be so in love with God our Father and His precious Son that good works (among other things) are done out of love and not in an effort to self atone.

Spurgeon reminds me,
“[T]o hope ever to bring sinners to holiness and heaven by any teaching but that which begins and ends in Jesus Christ is a sheer delusion. None other name is given among men whereby they can be saved. If you have to deal with highly learned and educated people, nothing is so good for them as preaching Jesus Christ; and if the people be ignorant and degraded, nothing is better for them than the preaching of Jesus.

“When the great Biblical critic, Bengel, was dying, he sent for a young theological student, to whom he said, ‘I am low in spirit; say something good to cheer me.’ ‘My dear Sir,’ said the student, ‘I am so insignificant a person, what can I say to a great man like yourself?’ ‘But if you are a student of theology,’ said Bengel, ‘you ought to have a good word to say to a dying man; pray say it without fear.’ ‘Well, Sir,’ said he, ‘What can I say to you, but that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin?’ Bengel said, ‘Give me your hand, young man; that is the very word I wanted.’"


Somewhere in the midst of all the questioning I made one point clear. That the only thing this precious child has to do is have faith and repent…even if it is take place on her death bed (whenever that may be).

But (preaching to myself now) I know that God’s ways and His timing are perfect. If she does not feel Him calling until right before she leaves this vapor of a life (James 4:14) then so be it. I have faith it is all for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28) and for His glory. I pray each night for her salvation and that of my loved ones who have yet to deny themselves, take up their crosses daily, and follow Him (Luke 9:23). I will continue preaching Jesus!

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1 Tim 1:15. ESV.)

Monday, April 13, 2009

"While I'm Waiting" Music Video- from the movie FIREPROOF

18 kids, 1 grandkid: Duggars announce pregnancy

A couple years ago I became aware of the Duggar family after watching a show on television which featured their family. Since then I have checked in on the website a few times and stopped to read a recent YAHOO blog story entitled, "18 Kids, 1 Grandkid: Duggars Announce Pregnancy". The eldest Duggar is now old enough to start a family of his own...but will he have a large family like his mother and father? Check out this story at YAHOO News.

Malatya video now available from VOMC

(by Glenn Penner for Persecuted Church Weblog)

Three Christians were brutally murdered on April 18, 2007 in the offices of a Christian publisher in Malatya, Turkey. The five Muslim men who killed them all carried identical notes in their pockets: "We did this for our country. They were attacking our religion."

Continue reading this post.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Remembering the Resurrection

(By John MacArthur)

In 1874, a Baptist minister named Robert Lowry penned one of the most stirring hymns to ever exalt the resurrection of Jesus Christ—”Low in the Grave He Lay.” Notice how these verses contrast the impotence of death and suffering with the resurrection power of Christ:

Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my Savior;
Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!
Vainly they watch His bed, Jesus my Savior;
Vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord!
Death cannot keep its Prey, Jesus my Savior;
He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!

Continue reading this post.

Christ's Glory in Humiliation

(by Justin Taylor)

From Jonathan Edwards's sermon, "The Excellency of Christ" (which can also hear in audio), where he argues that Christ's "admirable conjunction of excellencies remarkably appears, in his offering up himself a sacrifice for sinners in his last sufferings."

Continue reading this post.

Confess your sins: the blessings of accountability

(by Ryan Townsend)

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. - James 5:16

Good Friday always gives me pause. It's amazing what Jesus Christ did on the cross by drinking the cup of God's divine wrath on behalf of all who would repent of their sins and believe in Him. God the Father forsook his Son so that we might live. Sin is defeated. And we only need to confess our sins, turn from them in faith, and be grateful debtors.

Continue reading this post.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Battling Sin: Pride and Strife

(by: me)

“Whoever loves transgression loves strife; he who makes his door high seeks destruction.” (Proverbs 17:19. ESV.)


It is my opinion that pride is such a difficult sin to fight against. Mainly, I feel it is because it changes its shape, is very sneaky, and often hides in our blind spots making it hard to detect. C.S. Lewis said,
“If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, you are very conceited indeed.”


Benjamin Franklin said,
“There is perhaps not one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive. Even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.”


Jonathan Edwards said,
“The first and worst cause of errors that abound in our day and age is spiritual pride. This is the main door by which the devil comes into the hearts of those who are zealous for the advancement of Christ. It is the chief inlet of smoke from the bottomless pit to darken the mind and mislead the judgement.”

Proverbs 11:2: When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.

Proverbs 29:23: One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.


I feel pride can be exceptionally tricky when we as followers of Christ hold each other accountable like Nathan did for David regarding his adultery with Bathsheba and then the murder of her husband, Uriah (2 Samuel 12). But not only did David receive rebuke from Nathan, God also “afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick” (2 Samuel 12:15) and “on the seventh day the child died” (2 Samuel 12:18). So even though the Lord sent Nathan to David to act as the Holy Spirit does for us, God still disciplined David for his sin. David did not have the Holy Spirit but thankfully we do!

Rebuking one another seems to be a hot topic right now as I have been seeing it over and again in the past few weeks on many different levels. This is in no way directed at anyone but rather is me preaching to myself as rebuking and being reproved are very tough tasks for me! I have only dared to rebuke or hold various persons in the body accountable three times…and none of those went well. The reason…PRIDE! And it can rear its ugly head on each side of a reproof. Before I approach someone in the body I first have to make sure my own heart is right. I have to evaluate myself before going any further and ask, “Is this really a sin issue or just my preference?” If it truly is a sin issue then I need to consult God prior to speaking to the individual. Surely if the Holy Spirit is offended in me then the other Christ follower most likely has felt the Holy Spirit convicting them. Do they really need me to bring it to their attention as well? If I for some reason feel the answer to this is yes then I believe I must talk to the person at the right place and time with them being properly prepared. If I confront someone in a public area or take them off guard I will most likely embarrass them and might even provoke them to anger. It is my opinion it must be done privately…just one on one.

Matthew 18:15-17 says,
"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. 16But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”


When a rebuke does not take place properly and without pride I believe it causes strife…and none of us are without pride! So if I am doing the reproving or being rebuked then I feel I must take strife into consideration.

Isaiah 54:15: If anyone stirs up strife, it is not from me; whoever stirs up strife with you shall fall because of you.

Isaiah 8:9: Be broken, you peoples, and be shattered; give ear, all you far countries; strap on your armor and be shattered; strap on your armor and be shattered.

Isaiah 8:10: Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; speak a word, but it will not stand, for God is with us.


Jonathan Edwards said,
“Alas, how much pride the best have in their hearts! It is the worst part of the body of sin and death; the first sin that ever entered into the universe and the last that is rooted out. It is God s most stubborn enemy!... Pride is much more difficult to be discerned than any other corruption because of its very nature. That is, pride is a person having too high an opinion of himself. Is it any surprise, then, that a person who has too high an opinion of himself is unaware of it? His thinking is that he thinks that the opinion he has of himself has just grounds and therefore is not too high. If the grounds of the opinion of himself crumbled, he would cease to have such an opinion…. Spiritual pride takes many forms and shapes, one under another, and encompasses the heart like the layers of an onion: when you pull off one, there is another underneath. Therefore, we have need to have the greatest watch imaginable over our hearts with respect to this matter and to cry most earnestly to the great Searcher of hearts for His help. He that trusts his own heart is a fool.”
(Emphasis added.)

Edwards goes on to say,
“The spiritually proud person shows it in his finding fault with other saints, that they are low in grace and how cold and dead they are, and are quick to discern and take notice of their deficiencies. The eminently humble Christian has so much to do at home and sees so much evil in his own that he is not apt to be very busy with other hearts. He complains most of himself and complains most of his own coldness and lowness in grace. He is apt to esteem others as better than himself and is ready to hope that most everybody has more love and thankfulness to God than he, and cannot bear to think that others should bring forth no more fruit to God s honor than he….”


Now, on the opposite side of the coin, when I am rebuked…and yes, I have been rebuked much for I am not without wretchedness, ugliness, and sin…I must receive this information with a humble heart! If I have offended the Holy Spirit in someone else then a self assessment is in order. Perhaps I have failed to completely comply with conviction from the Holy Spirit in myself and have to remedy the issue.

Jonathan Edwards taught,
“Spiritual pride takes great notice of opposition and injuries that are received and is prone to be often speaking of them and to be much in taking notice of their aggravation, either with an air of bitterness or contempt. Pure and unmixed Christian humility, on the other hand, causes a person to be more like his blessed Lord when reviled: quiet, not opening his mouth, but committing himself in silence to Him who judges righteously. For the humble Christian, the more the world is against him, the more silent and still he will be, unless it is in his prayer closet, and there he will not be still…. One under the influence of spiritual pride is more apt to instruct others than to inquire for himself and so naturally puts on the airs of control. The eminently humble Christian thinks he needs help from everybody, whereas he that is spiritually proud thinks everybody needs his help. Christian humility, under a sense of other's misery, entreats and beseeches, but spiritual pride tries to command and warn with authority….”


Lastly Edwards noted,
“Another effect of spiritual pride is to make the subject of it want attention. People often tend to act in a special manner as though others ought to take great notice and regard of them. It is very natural to a person that is very much under the influence of spiritual pride to take all the respect that is paid to him.”


This can take place on each side of a rebuke. So no matter which position I am in, I must take special care when it comes to pride. Should I rebuke or should I leave it to the Holy Spirit? Should I become downcast when I am held accountable by another? How can I make sure pride is not an issue? The answer I offer is this:

“Nothing sets a Christian so much out of the devil s reach than humility and so prepares the mind for divine light without darkness. Humility clears the eye to look at things as they truly are. Psalm 25:9—He leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way."
~ Jonathan Edwards.

Matt Chandler - Jesus Wants the Rose


Matt Chandler tells a story about the gospel being for broken sinners:
You can also read the notes taken during this portion of Matt Chandler's message:

It didn’t take long before my passion for the gospel and to see lost men and women saved started to collide with the church. And so it wasn’t very long before I decided that if I was going to do this, I wasn’t going to do it as a churchman.

This break in me happened during my freshman year of college when I sat next to a 26-year-old single mother trying to get her degree. We began a dialogue about the grace and mercy of Christ in the cross....

A friend of mine was in a band playing in the area and we invited her to hear him. She agreed. She thought it would be a concert. I knew better....

The minister got up and said we would talk about sex. He took a red rose, smelled it, and threw it out in the crowd and told them to smell the rose. He then began one of the worst, most horrific handlings of what sex is and isn’t that I ever sat through.

With Kim beside me, I’m thinking, “What are you doing?” As he wrapped up, he asked, “Where’s my rose?” Some kid brought the rose back and it was broken.

His final point—his great crescendo—was to hold up the rose and ask, “Who wants this rose?”

Anger welled up within me and I wanted to say, “Jesus wants the rose!” That's the whole point of the gospel: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.



© 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

A Shelter in the Time of Storm: Meditations on God and Trouble

Jesus is God’s Answer to our Cry: A Meditation for Holy Week

(by Trevin Wax)

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6)

Last November, Mumbai, the largest city in India, was the target of a series of coordinated terrorist attacks that killed 173 people. Two of the victims were from Brooklyn, New York - a Jewish Rabbi and his wife, both in their late 20’s. Kashmiri militants entered the rabbi’s home and slaughtered the parents. The nanny found their 2-year-old son, Moshe, sitting in a pool of his parents’ blood.

Continue reading this post.

The Posture of Prayer

(by Tim Challies)

In the past week or two I have been thinking a lot about my times of personal devotion, trying to see where I have allowed them to become just the “same old”—where I may have fallen into bad habits or lazy customs. I have been thinking about what I can do to make these times that will serve to help me grow in godliness while at the same ensuring that they are opportunities to bring worship to God. This is something I find that I need to do on a regular basis. My reflections on prayer coincided with reading 1 Timothy in my times of personal worship. In 1 Timothy we read Paul’s command that “in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.”

Continue reading this post.

Tips for Loving Teens

(by Carolyn Mahaney)

How can we as mothers cultivate and express tender love for our teenagers? Here are a few ideas:

1. Pray.
2. Take an interest.
3. Listen closely.
4. Express Affection.

Continue reading this post.

The Cross He Bore - Satan’s Cup Refused

(by Tim Challies)

Today we come to the eleventh chapter of Frederick Leahy’s The Cross He Bore, a book many of us are reading to turn our hearts and minds toward the cross as we prepare to remember Jesus’ death and to celebrate his resurrection. Today’s text is Mark 15:23: “And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it.”

Leahy uses this chapter to look to the cup Jesus refused and to compare that to the cup of God’s wrath he was in the midst of drinking, and to the cup of righteousness he could then offer to all who would believe in him.

Continue reading this post.

John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor

(by Justin Taylor)

I have enjoyed reading John Calvin, but I confess that the same hasn't necessarily been true in reading about John Calvin.

However, I've been enjoying Robert Godfrey's new book, John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor.

Continue reading this post.

Springtime of the Church

(by Roberto Rivera y Carlo)

Now, if you're anything like me — and for your sake, I pray that you're not — all this talk about self-examination and repentance can be unnerving and even depressing. After all, the contours of my life are marked by (to borrow a phrase by Re:Generation Quarterly's Andy Crouch) "disappointment, transcendence, frustration, delight, and anxiety — and a fair amount of just plain sin." My shortcomings can cause me to dread, not look forward to, this "springtime" of the Church.

That's because, as is my wont, my self-absorption causes me to miss the point and blinds me to the central and distinctive role that memory plays in biblical faith, especially during Holy Week. Holy Week is about anamnesis, bringing the past to mind in a way that transforms the present.

Read this post.

No war on Islam

(by Emily Belz for World Magazine)

President Obama arrived back to the White House today in the wee hours of the morning, following a stint in Europe and the Middle East, where he sought to refresh and build alliances. Transporting his campaign-proven town hall format abroad, he told a Turkish audience, “Let me say this as clearly as I can: The United States is not — and will never be — at war with Islam.”

Continue reading this post.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Joy-Filled Christian Life

(By John MacArthur)

All people like to be happy — to be exhilarated with joy, to feel good, and to be on top of everything. There’s nothing wrong with that. God wants joyous, excited, happy, and uplifted people. The problem lies in how happiness is generated. Some people think they’ll find it in a liquor bottle or in a narcotic. But neither of those is the Christian’s source of joy.

Continue reading this post.

Active Obedience

(by Phil Johnson for Pyromaniacs)

We find the apostle Paul putting Christ's obedience in contrast to the disobedience of Adam: "As by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many he made righteous." Now this is not Christ's death merely, but Christ's active obedience, which is here meant, and it is by this that we are made righteous.

Continue reading this post.

Palm Sunday

(by Trevin Wax)

Go through, go through the gates!
Prepare the way for the people!
Build up, build up the highway;
clear it of stones!
Lift up a signal over the peoples.

Continue reading this post.

Evil as Entertainment

(by Tim Challies)

The internet is such a strange phenomenon and one we are really only beginning to understand, at least in terms of its impact on society and faith and family and just about everything else. What passes for entertainment on the internet would, at most other times in history, be regarded as shocking or wasteful or disgusting or maybe just plain absurd. Witness the web sites that offer video after video of people cracking bones doing stupid skateboard tricks. You can search YouTube for videos of people breaking bones and spend hours in senseless entertainment, guffawing at the stupidity and wincing at the pain. Or witness the sites that specialize in the macabre, displaying lineups of dead or dismembered bodies or photographic evidence of brutal accidents.


Continue reading this post.

Greek & Hebrew Reader's Bible

Wow! Check it out!!!

The Greek and Hebrew Reader's Bible

Which Gospel?

(by Greg Gilbert for 9Marks)

Speaking of Scot McKnight, he published a post a few days ago in which he asks the question "Which gospel do you choose?" You can check it out here.

Like many others, Scot has been advocating recently for a "broader" gospel than what I have called "The Gospel of the Cross," and this post, I think, is in the same vein. Scot quotes two different statements of the Christian gospel, one by N.T. Wright and the other by an unnamed, unlinked, "slightly edited" someone. I think it's safe to say that Scot's hope is that we will all choose Wright's version of the gospel, rather than the other one.

Continue reading this post.

Profound Influence

(by Carolyn Mahaney)

The second great deal for moms of teenagers is: be a godly example.

Three wise authors weigh in:

“The example of parents, for good or ill, is an influence more profound than can be measured,” observes author Elisabeth Elliot.

Your children “will seldom learn habits which they see you despise, or walk in paths in which you do not walk yourself,” warns J.C. Ryle. “[She] that preaches to [her] children what [she] does not practice, is working a work that never goes forward.”

Continue reading this post.

Not Perfect, But Humble
(by Carolyn Mahaney)

If you’re like me, you’re painfully aware of the imperfect example you are to your teenagers. But this is good, for it brings us back to the cross.

We are sinful mothers; however, we must not forget that the Savior died for sinners such as we. We will never be able to hold up for our teenagers a perfect example; however, we should display the humble, honest example of a woman striving after holiness, by the grace of God.

Continue reading this post.

Children, Imitate Me
(by Carolyn Mahaney)

In difficult situations with our teenagers, a humble example is a powerful tool that breaks down barriers. A humble spirit helps us get behind the walls our teenagers may erect. It’s a doorway into their hearts, no matter how hard they have become.

From the time our children were old enough to communicate, C.J. and I asked them regularly, “If there is one thing about Daddy and mommy you could change, what would it be?” Often they said silly things like, “Give us more ice cream.”

Continue reading this post.

The End of Christian America

(by Justin Taylor)

That's the title of Jon Meacham's cover story in the latest Newsweek. Al Mohler interacts and responds, concluding:

I appreciate the care, respect, and insight that mark this essay by Jon Meacham. I also appreciated our conversation about an issue that concerns us both. Still, I hope I did not reflect too much gloom in my analysis. This much I know -- Jesus Christ is Lord, and His kingdom is forever. Our proper Christian response to this new challenge is not gloom, but concern. And our first concern must be to see that the Gospel is preached as Good News to the perishing -- including all those in post-Christian America.

Click here to go to the "Between Two Worlds" blog.

Frustrating, Funny, Fascinating, and Frightening

(by Phil Johnson)

Here's eighty-eight minutes of video that is at various times stupefying, thrilling, maddening, amusing, and intriguing. And that's just the opening statements.

Continue reading this post.

Following Jesus in the real world

(by Dave Burchett for World Magazine)

What does it mean to follow Jesus in the real world?

My day job is television sports directing for Fox Sports Network and others. It is a very secular job where I am surrounded by cynical media types. To be fair, a television production truck is not a nurturing spiritual environment. I am sure that some lifelong Christians would leave the TV truck with hair looking like Don King after they’ve witnessed the shock and awe of F-bombs flying freely through the air. I have worked with producers and others who could match the accomplishment of Ralphie’s dad in the classic movie, A Christmas Story. (“In the heat of battle my father wove a tapestry of obscenities that as far as we know is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan.”)

I have to figure out how to follow Paul’s admonishment to “not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” while working in this environment.

Read this post.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Health Alert -- Read to Save Your Life

(by Albert Mohler)

We are constantly bombarded with health messages these days, with many offering confusing, complicated, or contradictory advice. There are so many messages with so many misunderstandings that, in the end, they have become like car alarms going off in the parking lot. They are heard now as a noisy nuisance.

Well, here is a health alert we can all understand. Researchers at the University of Sussex have determined that the very best way to relieve stress, both physical and mental, is to read a book.

Continue reading this post.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Worthy!

(by Glenn Penner for Voice of the Martyrs)

In Revelation 4, the apostle John was given a glimpse into the throne room of heaven itself. This revelation was given to remind John and his readers that God is still in control, that in His presence chaos is stilled and that their persecutors ultimately have no authority at all. In chapter 5, the revelation continues and deepens. John notices something else about the One sitting on the throne. He is holding a scroll with writing on both the inside and the outside and sealed to insure its security. It is a book containing God’s plan for and contract with the world. History is not out of control. The lives of God’s persecuted people are not unaccounted for and the persecution they endure is not something He did not anticipate. Nothing has come into their lives that did not first go through His hands. God has not lost control, even though life may seem that way, especially in the midst of suffering.

Continue reading this post.

Hugs and Special Blessings

(by: me)

I just love when God gives us those little hugs, those special blessings He knows we need. Like the parent who sees the struggle in their children to honor and obey, I feel God likewise notices the storms brewing in us and gives us the extra encouragement we must have to press on and battle doubt.

Today’s post by Jon Bloom entitled “I Will Never Believe” on the Desiring God blog was just such a hug for me. I do not know how many times I have heard that very statement, “I will never believe,” (or some form of that declaration) from some of my dear loved ones!!! The tally is numerous and the battle tumultuous.

Jon Bloom writes,
“Be patient and gracious with the skeptics in your life. We shouldn’t assume their outward confidence accurately reflects their inward condition. Keep praying for them and share what seems helpful. Keep confidently and humbly following Jesus. And trust his timing. He knows best how and when to reveal himself to them.”


This, though I have heard similar sentiments from others, was like a deep breath of fresh air. After long periods of what seems like not being able to even catch my breath, this crisp, clean air filling my lungs is a much welcomed change in pace and an unexpected blessing to my heart.

Bloom writes,
“Believing what we cannot see is hard. All of us are skeptics to some degree, and some more than others. But there is often more going on inside a skeptic than meets the eye. And Jesus knows how to reach them. That’s one reason I love Thomas’s story….”


Bloom goes on to discuss the turmoil in Thomas’ heart in the days following Jesus’ resurrection. He illustrates for us stating,
“Feeling angry [Thomas] blurted out with more conviction than he felt, 'Unless I see in [Jesus’] hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.'...

“The following eight days were long and lonely for Thomas. His friends were gracious. No one debated him. It was, in fact, their calm confidence in Jesus’ resurrection that aggravated Thomas’s growing conviction that he was wrong. Outside he tried to maintain a facade of resolute intellectual skepticism, but inside he was wrestling and melting and wanting more than anything to see Jesus too.

“And then it happened. Thomas was staring at the floor, pondering again the possibility that his unbelief had disqualified him. Had Jesus rejected him? If so, he knew he deserved it. Then someone gasped. He looked up and his heart leaped into his throat! Jesus was standing across the room looking back at him. “Peace be with you.”

“Thomas could hardly breathe. Jesus spoke to him, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.’

“All objections and resistance in Thomas evaporated. And in tears of repentance, relief, and worship Thomas dropped on his knees before Jesus and exclaimed, 'My Lord and my God.'”


To see this carried out in the lives of my loved ones would bring tears of great joy to my eyes! Hearing them declare the name of our Lord and King after listening to them speak such hard hearted words of doubt, foolishness, and even sometimes hatred toward God and His precious Son would be more precious to me than words could ever describe.

Daily, I have to preach to myself mainly that of Psalm 46:10 which says, "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" (ESV.) And that of Habakkuk 2:14 which states, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” (ESV.)

Exodus 14:13: And Moses said to the people, "Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again.

Isaiah 2:17: And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.

Isaiah 33:10: "Now I will arise," says the LORD, "now I will lift myself up; now I will be exalted.


I anxiously await this most holy of days and continue to pray for the salvation of those I love and strangers alike.

Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory!

Amen and Amen

"I Will Never Believe"

(by Jon Bloom for Desiring God Ministries)

Believing what we cannot see is hard. All of us are skeptics to some degree, and some more than others. But there is often more going on inside a skeptic than meets the eye. And Jesus knows how to reach them. That’s one reason I love Thomas’s story.

Jesus’ death had been difficult and confusing for everyone. Having been welcomed into Jerusalem like a king, he was dead before the week was over. And when the shepherd was struck, the sheep scattered. But they regathered in a secret hideout in Jerusalem.

On Sunday things took a weird twist. It began with Mary Magdalene insisting that she had seen Jesus alive in the morning. True, Jesus’ body disappearing was admittedly strange. But still, everyone knew Jesus had really died. No one could believe Mary’s claim except maybe John.

Then later in the day Peter announced that he also had seen Jesus alive. This troubled Thomas. But he figured he could cut Peter some slack. After denying Jesus publicly, no one could blame Peter for wishing everything was okay. He just needed time.

But then Cleopas burst into the house Sunday night claiming that he had walked—walked!—with Jesus to Emmaus that afternoon. What Thomas found particularly hard to believe was that Cleopas and his friend hadn’t recognized Jesus the entire time until dinner when—poof!—he just disappeared.

Well, this excited everyone else, but Thomas only felt agitated. He desperately missed Jesus too, but he wasn’t going to let grief make him believe bizarre things. Jesus was dead.

Yet he didn’t feel like dousing everyone’s unreal hope with a wet blanket of reality. They weren’t ready to hear it anyway. Thomas decided he needed to clear his head with a walk. By himself.

So after whispering a discreet excuse to Nathaniel, he managed to slip outside without much notice. After being very careful not to betray the hideout, he started down an empty street.

The quiet was refreshing. But the walk wasn’t as helpful as he had hoped. The Jesus sightings were disturbing, especially because the witnesses were credible.

Then a rush of memories from the past three years flowed through Thomas’s mind. So many things he had seen would have been unbelievable if he hadn’t seen them. Most haunting now was Lazarus. And Jesus had seemed to know that he was going to die in Jerusalem.

Suddenly Thomas realized he was arguing with himself. His agitation really wasn’t over his friends’ failure to face the facts. The facts, in fact, were now ambiguous. He was agitated because part of him actually believed Jesus was alive. And this frustrated the skeptic in him who took pride in being a man of common sense. A resurrection just seemed too incredible to be true.

The more he thought, the less sure he became. No one knew where Jesus’ body was. Those who claimed to have seen him were people he trusted. It would make sense of certain prophesies. Could it be?

Show me the body! his skeptic side shouted. At least Lazarus could be seen and touched in Bethany by any doubter. So if Jesus really was alive, why this hide-and-seek game? Wouldn’t he just show himself to them all?

He’d believe Jesus was alive when he saw him alive.

When Thomas returned to the house four of his friends pounced on him, “We have seen the Lord, Thomas! It’s all true! He was just with us! Where were you?”

Thomas instantly felt a surge of shock, unbelief, isolation, regret for having left, and self-pity over feeling left out.

Feeling angry he blurted out with more conviction than he felt, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Most of his friends were dismayed. But Peter just watched him, smiling slightly.

The following eight days were long and lonely for Thomas. His friends were gracious. No one debated him. It was, in fact, their calm confidence in Jesus’ resurrection that aggravated Thomas’s growing conviction that he was wrong. Outside he tried to maintain a facade of resolute intellectual skepticism, but inside he was wrestling and melting and wanting more than anything to see Jesus too.

And then it happened. Thomas was staring at the floor, pondering again the possibility that his unbelief had disqualified him. Had Jesus rejected him? If so, he knew he deserved it. Then someone gasped. He looked up and his heart leaped into his throat! Jesus was standing across the room looking back at him. “Peace be with you.”

Thomas could hardly breathe. Jesus spoke to him, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”

All objections and resistance in Thomas evaporated. And in tears of repentance, relief, and worship Thomas dropped on his knees before Jesus and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God.”

Be patient and gracious with the skeptics in your life. We shouldn’t assume their outward confidence accurately reflects their inward condition. Keep praying for them and share what seems helpful. Keep confidently and humbly following Jesus. And trust his timing. He knows best how and when to reveal himself to them.


© 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

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Remember them

(by Glenn Penner for Voice of the Martyrs)

I have found that many people when they first hear about the persecuted church are almost paralysed, wondering what they should do next. They hear how the Bible commands Christians to "remember them" who are in bonds (Hebrews 13:3) but wonder how to practically do this?

Continue reading this post.

What Are Baptism and Communion? - Vintage Church

(by Mark Driscoll)

In chapter five of Vintage Church we answer the question, "What Are Baptism and Communion?" Part of that answer can be found in these excerpts from pages 114 and 130:

By virtue of reminding us of our connection to Jesus and his people, baptism and Communion are supposed to be incredibly meaningful.

Continue reading this post.

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