Monday, August 30, 2010

Let Us Not Grow Weary: Part Two

It Is Not Me Who Lives But Christ Within Me

Who am I to give advice or tell someone what to do? The way God moves my heart or directs my steps is most likely not the way He orchestrates the thoughts or paths of others. What God has provided for me are not necessarily the needs of another. Walking in my own shoes takes a lot of concentration, commitment, and learning to stay focused on God, not on self, and mindful of the flesh. Thankfully, God has given the Holy Spirit:

"If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."…

"All this I have spoken while still with you. 26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
(John 14:15-21, 25-27. ESV.)

And I am not the Holy Spirit of somebody else...and no man is mine.

The Character and Word of God

Using the tribulation (mentioned in part one) and after He gave me the Holy Spirit, God guided my heart in understanding His character and the gospel.

Instead of only focusing on parts of scripture individually, I have to consider all that is written collectively. For example, the bible says to not judge others. It also states: #1 Each is given a measure of faith according to the purpose God has for him or her (Romans 12:3, 1 Corinthians 7:17), #2 God has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills (Romans 9:14-24), #3 Believers are to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16), #4 It is foolish to hang out with a bad crowd (1 Corinthians 15:33), #5 Do not deliver a person who struggles with wrath because you will only have to do it again (Proverbs 19:19), #6 Only God can see hearts (1 Samuel 16:7, Romans 8:27, 1 Chronicles 28:9, Proverbs 15:11;17:3, Jeremiah 17:10, Luke 16:15).

It is my opinion each response from a believer to a situation is case specific given the details and matters of the heart. And, of course,
"It is better to take refuge in the Lord that to trust in man." (Psalm 118:8. ESV.)

Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5. ESV.)

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

13 "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
(Matthew 7:12-14. ESV.)

To be continued...

This Isn’t ‘Separate but Equal.’ They’re One.

This Isn’t ‘Separate but Equal.’ They’re One.
(Pastor Mark Driscoll)

Now, when you get that picture of God, then you go through Genesis and you realize that the man and the woman were created in the image and likeness of God. Men and women are a shadow of God’s nature and existence. We are not little gods, but we reflect some of the attributes of God. We have the possibility of showing a little bit of what God is like. Within the Trinity, there is a difference. And between men and women, there is a difference. That difference does not mean that they are unequal. Our culture really struggles with it. They can’t understand how people could be different and still equal, but in God they are.

Click here to read the entire post.

Back to School Time

It is our first day back to school and the kiddos are off and running with their (independent study) curriculum. Which I have to say, we LOVE the K12 syllabus and virtual program with which we work. It is not for everyone (because not all families have the same lifestyle, preferences, etc.) but it has been a huge blessing for us! And I am so thankful!

So, I most likely will not post again until evening time (because I am also teaching two dance classes today I do not normally teach...but for which I am also so grateful). Until then...

The LORD bless you and keep you; 25 the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26. ESV.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

How God Called Me to Follow Christ

How God Called Me to Follow Christ

In high school I was privileged to be a member of a wonderful youth group. We laughed and cried together (Romans 12:15) and grew in faith collectively. They were some of the best years of my life and I knew then I loved the Lord. But I had not yet "died to self" (Galatians 2:20) or taken off the old and put on the new (Colossians 3:1-17), so I was disobedient and still a slave to sin instead of righteousness (Romans 6:17-18).

Click here to read the entire post.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Let Us Not Grow Weary: Part One

"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." (Galatians 6:9-10. ESV.)

This year has been a significant one for me in grasping God's character, His laws, putting together His word and obeying it collectively (instead of a piece at a time), trusting in Him completely, unwavering faith, the discipline and importance of prayer, measures of faith, the baby believer verses the mature follower of Christ, relying on the Lord rather than man, vengeance being His, obedience, and pride (lack of wisdom and the idol of self).

The Trial

I have been dealing with the same tribulation for over ten years now. It has spanned many levels and presented numerous challenges of which I stared in the face and thought to myself, "There's no way!" But with God, NOTHING is impossible (Matthew 19:26) and I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). I was/am NEVER alone.

The Mature Follower

Though I grew up in the church, for the most part, I feel I was a "baby believer" (1 Corinthians 3:2, Hebrews 5:12-13, 1 Peter 2:2) for a prolonged period of time. I was so in love with God but I would perhaps call it a "puppy love" because I did not stay faithful to Him (though He stayed true to me). I was rebellious, naive, and very foolish. This disobedience covered the years of 1996-2006. But then, the Good Shepherd came and got me and brought me back to the cross. My days of wandering in the dark were over.

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— (1 Peter 2:2. ESV.)

In 2005 or 2006 I was lead to a church building with a small congregation. I felt like an outsider but God was with me. Individuals shook my hand and said, "Welcome," but there were no invites to lunch, dinner, "Bunko", or bible study. I believed I had been misplaced and stopped attending after three to five times. But God did not let me off that easy.

He guided my heart to go back weeks later and give it a second try. The response from this "church family" was the same however God upped the incentive for me to stay. A spot had opened up in one of the preschool classes and my child was offered the position...which we took. Further, on one of the preschool days there was a ladies bible study which met. The book they were starting was Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Tim Grissom's SEEKING HIM: THE JOY OF PERSONAL REVIVAL. This is the workbook God used to wean me off of the milk and start me on the meatier foods. It was also during my time with this church I had a great teacher who "introduced" me to a fantastic pastor under whose instruction I have grown leaps and bounds spiritually. I think it is safe (after four years under the direction of the Holy Spirit) to call myself a mature believer now.

The Character and Word of God

To be continued...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

High Holy Day Services

Jews for Jesus Invites You to Worship with Us for the High Holidays

Join us for Rosh Hashanah Yom Kippur, and other Jewish holidays as we worship the God of Israel. Through music, liturgy, and word, we will celebrate together His provision of Y'shua (Jesus), who gives us new life and who is the atonement for our sins.

Click here for more information!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Confined by the Flesh

I'm sure I am not alone in my frustration with the flesh. Though I have (and continue to) "store up [God's] word in my heart, that I might not sin against" Him (Psalm 119:11) the flesh still likes to challenge me. How did Jesus do it? Yes, He was the Son of God but while walking on earth He too was restricted by the flesh. Did He have incredible (yet attainable) self control or was he enabled by the Holy Spirit?

While reading EXPERIENCING GOD (Blackaby, Blackaby, and King) the authors give an example of a lovely lady who had a passion for ministering to those in the hospital but despite her best efforts only ended up offending or upsetting them. Come to find out though she was not very good at comforting individuals, she was fantastic at praying for them. With empowerment from the Holy Spirit, interceding on the behalf of others was a task she could complete with flying colors!

I can definitely relate to this, as I have/had desires of the heart that just were not God's will for me, and I have seen it happen with people around me as well. A former bible study leader of mine once painted this visual for us that I feel goes well with this topic. (Thanks, Kristin.) She talked about how one might spend the entire day cleaning and organizing the hall closet only to hear the Lord say, "That's great you did that but I asked you to tidy up the kitchen."

While the Lord has me waiting on Him I seem to be coming up with all kinds of things I would like to be doing...adoption, missions, participating as a chaperon (offering encouragement and guidance) in a youth group, being an advocate, etc. But for now I write and teach dance at a Christian dance studio...(both for which I am thankful and bring me great joy in serving the Lord while I abide in Him).

For the LORD loves justice;
he will not forsake his saints.
They are preserved forever,
but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land
and dwell upon it forever.

30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
and his tongue speaks justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
his steps do not slip.

32 The wicked watches for the righteous
and seeks to put him to death.
33 The LORD will not abandon him to his power
or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.

34 Wait for the LORD and keep his way,
and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
you will look on when the wicked are cut off
. (Psalm 37:28-34. ESV.)

Thy Word by Amy Grant

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Harnessing Self Awareness

Raymond Ortlund Jr. described conviction of sin the following way,
"What is conviction of sin? It is not an oppressive spirit of uncertainty or paralyzing guilt feelings. Conviction of sin is the lance of the divine Surgeon piercing the infected soul, releasing the pressure, letting the infection pour out. Conviction of sin is a heath giving injury. Conviction of sin is the Holy Spirit being kind to us by confronting us with the light we don't want to see and the truth we're afraid to admit and the guilt we prefer to ignore. Conviction of sin is the severe love of God overruling our compulsive dishonesty, our willful blindness, our favorite excuses. Conviction of sin is the violent sweetness of God opposing the sins lying comfortably undisturbed in our lives. Conviction of sin is the merciful God declaring war on the false peace we settle for. Conviction of sin is our escape from malaise to joy, from attending church to worship, from faking it to authenticity. Conviction of sin, with the forgiveness of Jesus pouring over our wounds, is life."

(Thank you Pastor Phil for including that quote in your message.)

One of the best books I have read (aside from the bible) is RESPECTABLE SINS by Jerry Bridges. I feel it is a fantastic book that promotes and encourages self awareness. In order to walk upright, God's word states, "first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye." (Matthew 7:5). I feel RESPECTABLE SINS assists with that. It causes the reader to look at self and ask, "Do I struggle with that?" For me, it further encourages me to evaluate relationships and watch interactions while again questioning myself each time, "Is that something I need to address and on which I should work?" When/if noticing "respectable sins" in others prompts me to wonder, "Do I do that?"

Given some sins are tucked away in blind spots making them easy to miss I then go to brothers and sisters in Christ I trust most and seek their assessment. I do not do this with everyone but rather those I have found that #1 stay firm in the foundation of Christ and faithfully study God's word daily, #2 do not criticize, gossip, or slander, #3 are not prideful in the area of couneling others, #4 give a soft answer rather than a harsh word (Proverbs 15:1), and #5 request God's wisdom rather than speak out of their own strength and assumption. Sometimes it is very difficult to find someone (or a married couple) because each of us struggles with "respectable sins" but do not give up (and do not get discouraged if you find out a person you trusted is actually not trustworthy at all). Continue in heartfelt prayer and God will provide exactly what (and who) you need.

Harnessing self awareness is a challenge but attainable...just like taking each thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5).

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13. NKJV.)

Christian-rooted political philosophy

Christian-rooted political philosophy
(World Magazine:Mickey McLean)

David Theroux, founder, president, and CEO of The Independent Institute and founder and president of the C.S. Lewis Society of California, has written an interesting and timely series of articles titled “C.S. Lewis on Mere Liberty and the Evils of Statism.”

Click here to read this post.

Do You Glorify God in Your Movie Watching?

I get teased about regulating the movies I watch and the movies/television my children view. So, naturally I was interested in what Pastor John Piper has to say on the topic of enjoying art and glorifying God at the same time.

The following is an edited transcript of the audio.

Is it possible to glorify God through the enjoyment of music, movies, literature, etc. produced by secular artists?

Yes. I assume the computer you are holding there was probably not built by Christians, and I hope that you are glorifying God as you tap away at it. And of course out from there, there are a 1000 things that we use all day long, and God says, 'whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God.' And he knows that you are eating this meat that may have been sacrificed to idols, so that means it was probably butchered by an unbeliever, or handled by an unbeliever, shipped by an unbeliever, it may have been cooked by an unbelieving cook. And here you are savoring the product of all those unbelievers' work because you are in that moment giving thanks to God for it, recognizing that the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof and taking the strength and the joy that comes from it to render back to him.

Now with the arts and with media it is more morally complex than with food. But it is the same principle. The complexity of it is, in those moments what do you do with the moral elements of it that are so contrary to your faith?

I'll just point out one principle because we can talk about this forever. What concerns me is the distinction between entertainment and cultural analysis. To watch something, to study the culture, learn from the culture, be more able to interact with unbelievers for the sake of the glory of Christ is one thing. To just sit and bask in nudity, or bask in fifty f-words, or bask in a world view that is shot through with arrogance to the core, and enjoy it? Hmm. That seems to point to something going on in the heart. And frankly, I have tasted it big time. I think today we are going to have to work at not being shaped by the world because the world has made its world view so scintillatingly attractive.

Movie after movie after movie has come out and most young reformed people are, I would say, indiscriminate. "Let's go to a movie tonight." OK, and then we just choose the best. None of the movies in that theater at that night are any good, probably. But you are just going to do it, because that is what you do. You go to the movies on Friday night, or whatever. And then of course you think, we've got to Christianize this thing somehow.

I just think we need to test our hearts big time. Big time. Why are we able to enjoy hell bound, God ignoring, Christ dishonoring, false world views because we can give it a little twist at the end that it taught us this or that about the world? So, I think the main thing I'm saying there is, test your heart as to whether entertainment is defaulting to the world, or to something more wholesome. We live in an age where we tend to default to the world for entertainment.

© 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:

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wise As A Serpant wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16. ESV.)

(I have been a writing maniac lately and cannot quite remember if I have posted this yet or not. I don't think so. But, if I have...please forgive me.)

I know God is good and does all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). With that said, God's word also tells believers to "be wise as serpents".

John Piper, in his book A SWEET AND BITTER PROVIDENCE, reminds me,
"Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road.... And the point of bible stories like Joseph and Job and Esther and Ruth is to help us feel in our bones (not just know in our heads) that God is for us in all these strange turns...." (p.101)

Now, I want to look at Moses and the Exodus. It must be important because there is an entire book in the bible regarding the Exodus. God's people had been calling out to Him because their affliction and labor was great.

"...the time came when: 'The Israelites groaned because of their difficult labor, and they cried out; and their cry for help ascended to God because of the difficult labor. So God heard their groaning, and He remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God saw the Israelites, and He took notice' (Exodus 2:23-25.)"

God took notice. I cannot help but believe God does pay heed when we pray...when we lift up our voices and call out to Him. But I also feel His response is going to be different (though within the context of His written word) depending on the situation and the hearts involved. So, again looking at Exodus, we have God's people who were crying out to Him and we have Pharaoh. Now, not all of God's people were upright in heart (as can be seen when an idol is introduced and when the selection happened for the promised land...however God's covenant was with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, not Moses, not these specific Israelites, and certainly not Pharaoh.

A lot went into getting the Israelites out of Egypt...numerous talks between Moses and Rameses; showings of God's power (like turning the water of the Nile River to blood, etc.); plagues; deaths; etc. But finally, after heartfelt pleading and God's ultimate sovereignty, the Israelites were freed! There was quite a bit of whining and complaining but not a single one returned to Egypt and Pharaoh's oppression. And what if someone had decided to return to their master, Rameses? What would the reader of Exodus think then? Perhaps something along the lines of, "WHAT A FOOL!" Because it most likely would not appear to be a wise move, right?

In his book DOES GRACE GROW BEST IN WINTER, Ligon Duncan says the following,
"It is the Holy Spirit at work in you who uses suffering to make you grow in grace. That is why the same suffering bears entirely different fruit in those who by faith trust in Christ than in those who do not."

Which raises the question in my mind...who am I to judge someone based on their circumstance? Shouldn't I be praying for them, encouraging them, trusting God in their situation, and looking for fruit? Would it be right for me to criticize and/or slander someone in the midst of their affliction? In my opinion, NO! God alone is judge and jury not me! He has called believers to not be foolish...not to act on His behalf and convict sinners when only He can see hearts and what an individual NEEDS for their salvation! Who am I to take that away from them?

During the message I heard on Sunday, the pastor reminded me, "Jesus...challenge[d] people to repent and by faith live the lives God expected of them, instead of trusting in dead traditions." God "challenges" those without salvation and leads them to the cross to show them they NEED a whatever means necessary to get their attention. How did God get your attention?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Armor of God Comic Book Style

Over at the Marvel website you can "Create Your Own Superhero". So, I could not resist doing "The Whole Armor of God"! She has quite the fancy "belt of truth", "breastplate of righteousness", and "shoes" (or rather boots) of "the readiness given by the gospel of peace". In her hand is the "shield of faith" and on her back are two swords! of "the Spirit". But drat she's missing her "helmet of salvation" so is she really saved? Maybe she just didn't want to mess up her hair...or perhaps she's just a nice looking "white washed tomb" (Matthew 23:27). Just kidding. Her outfit is a little suspect but it's conservative by comic book character standards. :)

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. (Ephesians 6:14-18. ESV.)

State dunque saldi, avendo fissato sulla cintura della verità, e aver messo la corazza della giustizia, e, come scarpe per i piedi, dopo aver messo la disponibilità data dal vangelo della pace. In tutti i casi prendere lo scudo della fede, con cui è possibile spegnere tutti i dardi infuocati del maligno, e prendete anche l'elmo della salvezza e la spada dello Spirito, che è la parola di Dio, pregando in ogni momento in lo Spirito, con ogni preghiera e di supplica. (Efesini 6:14-18).

Estad, pues, después de haber atado el cinturón de la verdad, y vestidos con la coraza de justicia, y, como calzado para sus pies, habiendo puesto en la disposición dada por el evangelio de la paz. En todas las circunstancias tomad el escudo de la fe, con que podáis apagar todos los dardos de fuego del maligno, y tomad el yelmo de la salvación y la espada del Espíritu, que es la palabra de Dios, orando en todo momento en el Espíritu, con toda oración y súplica. (Efesios 6:14-18).

站在因此,在系上皮帶的真理,放在胸有義,正如你的腳的鞋子後,放在準備給予和平的福音。在任何情況下都採取了屏蔽的信念,與您可以消滅所有的邪惡燃燒飛鏢之一,並採取拯救的頭盔和劍的精神,這是上帝的話,在任何時候都在祈禱的精神,與所有的祈禱和懇求。 (以弗所書 6:14-18)。

したがって、スタンドは、真理のベルトと、固定した正義の胸当てをすること、そして、あなたの足の靴として、準備の平和の福音によって与え置くこと。すべての状況では、これであなたは悪の1つのすべての炎の矢を消すことができます信仰の盾を取りなさい。救いのヘルメットを取る、と御霊は、神の言葉ですの剣、祈りのすべての回でスピリットは、すべての祈りと願いです。 (エペソ6:14-18)。

Tenez donc, ayant fixé sur la ceinture de la vérité, et après avoir mis la cuirasse de la justice, et, comme les chaussures à vos pieds, après avoir mis sur la préparation donnée par l'Évangile de la paix. En toutes circonstances, prendre le bouclier de la foi, avec lequel vous pouvez éteindre tous les traits enflammés du malin, et prenez aussi le casque du salut et l'épée de l'Esprit, qui est la parole de Dieu, priez en tout temps dans l'Esprit, avec toutes sortes de prières et de supplications. (Ephésiens 6:14-18).

Стойте же твердо, привязывают на ремне от истины, и, поставив в броню праведности, и, как обувь для ваших ног, положив на готовность определяется благовествовать мир. При любых обстоятельствах, возьмите щит веры, с помощью которых можно погасить пылающий стрелы лукавого; и принять шлем спасения, и меч духовный, который есть Слово Божие, молиться в любое время в Духа со всеми молитве и молении. (Послание к Ефесянам 6:14-18.)

I Do Not Comprehend Everything About You, But I Know Christ Within You

When I was a junior in high school I received the amazing opportunity to travel to Europe and visit for ten days. It was one of the best adventures of my life. While there, one evening the group of peers I was with was out exploring and we ran into another crowd who was also there from the States. Though we were not acquainted with these individuals, we shared something in common...we were from the same country and immediately there was a comfortable feeling of familiarity. I reckon the same came be said in reference to the body of Christ.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20. ESV.)

It is such a blessing and relief to have the unconditional love (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) and support of brothers and sisters in Christ especially during the times in this vapor of a life (James 4:14) when I need their loving, gentle, biblical guidance most. I have witnessed amazing things happen when the body has come together as a unit and God's grace, mercy, and work was there (Matthew 18:20). A lady in the community was holding a fund raiser for a family dear to my heart. The goal set was $10,000.00. The ladies bible study of which I was a part joined in the effort. I attended planning meetings with one or two other ladies from the church plus a few from around the area. We spearheaded the endeavor and a number of individuals collectively prayed for God's blessing. Needless to say, the event was a huge success. The amount of participants was low and the weather less than favorable (which caused skepticism in the minds of some) however, God provided! The total raised well surpassed the goal. And if memory serves it sat roughly around the $14,000 - $15,000 mark (give or take). GOD has NO DOUBT about what we NEED and all are His servants (Psalm 119:91).

I have heard it asked, "Why isn't the God of the bible the God of today?" I can tell you with ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY from experience that He is the same God of yesterday, today, and forever. If a person wants to see Him at work they need only to look around (and not assume they are wiser than Him). If God pulls you into a situation you do not understand or cannot discern how to handle, pray for wisdom (James 1:5) and seek God's will not that of your own or of the flesh. For example, (I don't usually watch television much but I did view a "What Would You Do" piece where a woman was sitting on a park bench minding her own business when a group of young adults came over and started harassing the woman and verbalizing hurtful, offensive, derogatory statements about the women's weight. Passersby were observed to distinguish who would intervene and who would turn a blind eye and leave the victim to fend for herself. This, of course, was a staged circumstance using actors but the emotions involved were real.

I feel God places us in specific circumstances to teach us more about ourselves. Are we as wise and compassionate as we think and say we are? Do we know His character and His word as well as we give ourselves credit and lead others to believe? When the world looks at us do they notice Christ or "white washed tombs" (Matthew 23:27)? If I was a betting woman (which I'm not...usually) I would have lost a fortune wagering on what I thought to be true. For example, I went through a church "split" once. (I am not bringing this up to stir up strife or speak of one side or the other…but rather to give an illustration. No offense intended.) And, I gambled and lost (figuratively speaking) on what I conceived was going to happen. (I did not have all the FACTS nor did I walk in the shoes of each human being really, I did not have much on which to base my FEELINGS.) My tribulation has been a similar test. God did things contrary to what I imagined He would (Isaiah 55:8) and brought people in and out of my life completely and utterly different than I presumed. But His ways and timing are PERFECT…so unlike my own.

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. (Romans 6:6. ESV.)

Book Notes: You Can Change / Surprised By Grace

Fellow blogger, Trevin Wax, over at "Kingdom People: Living on Earth as Citizens of Heaven" briefly reviewed the books YOU CAN CHANGE: GOD'S TRANSFORMING POWER FOR OUR SINFUL BEHAVIOR AND NEGATIVE EMOTIONS by Tim Chester and SURPRISED BY GRACE: GOD'S RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF REBELS by Tullian Tchividjian.

Do these titles interest you? If so, click here to read his reviews.

World aid to Pakistan increases

World aid to Pakistan increases
(World Magazine)

The United States, Germany, and Saudi Arabia all announced new pledges of aid, while Japan said it would send helicopters to help distribute food, water, and medicine. The Asian Development Bank said it would redirect $2 billion of existing and planned loans for reconstruction.

The floods have affected 20 million people and about one-fifth of Pakistan’s territory, straining its civilian government as it also struggles against al-Qaeda and Taliban violence. Aid groups and the United Nations have complained that foreign donors have not been quick or generous enough given the scale of the disaster.

Click here to read the entire post.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

From Boy to Man–the Marks of Manhood

From Boy to Man–the Marks of Manhood
(Albert Mohler)

When does a boy become a man? That interesting question was recently posed to me, and it raises some of the most important issues facing Christians today. While the world seems increasingly confused about matters as basic as what it means to be male and female, Christians are called to frame our arguments in distinctively biblical terms.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

When does a boy become a man? That interesting question was recently posed to me, and it raises some of the most important issues facing Christians today. While the world seems increasingly confused about matters as basic as what it means to be male and female, Christians are called to frame our arguments in distinctively biblical terms.

All around us, cultural developments and media messages communicate a fog of confusion over questions of gender. In reality, these issues lie right along the fault lines of today’s culture war and its most controversial points of debate. For many years, this society has been experimenting with the most fundamental realities of human existence. The essence of what it means to be male or female has been routinely discounted by a society infatuated with unlimited self-expression and assertions of personal autonomy.

Women are now joined by men, who complain that traditional expectations about gender roles are oppressive, limiting, and intolerant. An entire generation of young women is trying to find a way to genuine womanhood against the tidal force of ideological feminism. Similarly, boys and young men are desperately looking for models of manhood and answers to their urgent questions of male identity, male responsibility, and male roles.

Christians understand that God created human beings as male and female–for His glory and for our good. The differences between the sexes are not matters of evolutionary accident, but are clear indications of God’s sublime and perfect design for human happiness. As followers of Christ, we understand that it is our responsibility to embrace, affirm, and fulfill the roles and responsibilities God has given us.

In the context of this confusion, boys are especially vulnerable. The feminization of society, mixed with confusing cultural signals, has led many boys and young men to be uncertain and unaware of their masculinity and proper role. In a desperate search for a secure male identity, some are attracted to gross distortions. Some embrace a brutalized and arrogant posture while others retreat into insecure manhood, never understanding a man’s responsibility to lead.

We now face the phenomenon of perpetual boyhood on the part of many males. Refusing to grow up, these young men function as boys well into their twenties–some even into their thirties and beyond. An extended male adolescence marks the lifestyles, expectations, and behavior of far too many young males, whose masculine identity is embraced awkwardly, if at all.

When does a boy become a man? The answer to this must go far beyond biology and chronological age. As defined in the Bible, manhood is a functional reality, demonstrated in a man’s fulfillment of responsibility and leadership. With this in mind, let me suggest thirteen marks of biblical manhood. The achievement of these vital qualities marks the emergence of a man who will demonstrate true biblical masculinity.

1. Spiritual maturity sufficient to lead a wife and children. The Bible is clear about a man’s responsibility to exercise spiritual maturity and spiritual leadership. Of course, this spiritual maturity takes time to develop, and it is a gift of the Holy Spirit working within the life of the believer. The disciplines of the Christian life, including prayer and serious Bible study, are among the means God uses to mold a boy into a man and to bring spiritual maturity into the life of one who is charged to lead a wife and family. This spiritual leadership is central to the Christian vision of marriage and family life. A man’s spiritual leadership is not a matter of dictatorial power, but of firm and credible spiritual leadership and influence. A man must be ready to lead his wife and his children in a way that will honor God, demonstrate godliness, inculcate Christian character, and lead his family to desire Christ and to seek God’s glory. Spiritual maturity is a mark of true Christian manhood, and a spiritually immature man is, in at least this crucial sense, spiritually just a boy.

2. Personal maturity sufficient to be a responsible husband and father. Christians often speak of raising boys to be men. In the face of today’s cultural onslaught, this is an important goal. However, it is just not enough. Biblical manhood is always defined in terms of functions, roles, and responsibilities. True masculinity is not a matter of exhibiting supposedly masculine characteristics devoid of the context of responsibility. In the Bible, a man is called to fulfill his role as husband and father. Unless granted the gift of celibacy for gospel service, the Christian boy is to aim for marriage and fatherhood. This is assuredly a counter-cultural assertion, but the role of husband and father is central to manhood. Boys must be raised to see themselves as future husbands and fathers. They must be taught what to look for in a godly wife and how to fulfill all of the responsibilities that Scripture invests in a husband and father. Marriage is unparalleled in its effect on men, as it channels their energies and directs their responsibilities to the devoted covenant of marriage and the grace-filled civilization of the family. Boys must be taught what it means to be a husband, how to respect and honor marriage, and how to earn the respect and confidence of a wife. Similarly, boys must be taught about the responsibilities of fatherhood. Christians must reverse generations of inattention by speaking directly and clearly to boys about their future responsibilities, including the care, training, education, protection, and discipline of children. They must aspire to be the kind of man a Christian woman would gladly marry and children will trust, respect, and obey.

3. Economic maturity sufficient to hold an adult job and handle money. Advertisers and marketers know where to aim their messages–directly at adolescent boys and young men. This particular segment of the population is inordinately attracted to material goods, popular entertainment, sporting events, and other consumer options. The portrait of young manhood made popular in the media and presented as normal through entertainment is characterized by economic carelessness, self-centeredness, and laziness. A real man knows how to hold a job, handle money with responsibility, and take care of the needs of his wife and family. A failure to develop economic maturity means that young men often float from job to job, and take years to “find themselves” in terms of career and vocation. Once again, an extended adolescence marks a huge segment of today’s young male population. A boy must be taught how to work, how to save, to invest, and to spend money with care. He must be taught to respect labor, and to feel the satisfaction that comes from a job well done, and a dollar honestly earned. Too many boys are coddled and entertained, demonstrating a laziness that will be highly detrimental to their future prospects as husband and father. Slothfulness, laziness, and economic carelessness are marks of immaturity. A real man knows how to earn, manage, and respect money. A Christian man understands the danger that comes from the love of money, and fulfills his responsibility as a Christian steward.

4. Physical maturity sufficient to work and protect a family. Unless afflicted by injury or illness, a boy should develop the physical maturity that, by stature and strength, marks recognizable manhood. Of course, men come in many sizes and demonstrate different levels of physical strength, but common to all men is a maturity, through which a man demonstrates his masculinity by movement, confidence, and strength. A man must be ready to put his physical strength on the line to protect his wife and children and to fulfill his God-assigned tasks. A boy must be taught to channel his developing strength and emerging size into a self-consciousness of responsibility, recognizing that adult strength is to be combined with adult responsibility and true maturity.

5. Sexual maturity sufficient to marry and fulfill God’s purposes. As a boy develops into a man, he becomes aware of the sexual powers God has put within him. In an age saturated with distorted sexuality, bombarded with sexual stimulation, and confused by unbridled sexual passion, boys must be taught to discipline their sexual energies into anticipation of marriage. Even as the society celebrates sex in every form and at every age, the true Christian man practices sexual integrity, avoiding pornography, fornication, all forms of sexual promiscuity, and corruption. He understands the danger of lust, but rejoices in the sexual capacity and reproductive power God has put within him, committing himself to find a wife, and to earn her love, trust, and admiration–and eventually to win her hand in marriage. Boys must be taught to respect this incredible gift, and to protect this gift until, within the context of holy marriage, they are able to fulfill this gift, love their wives, and look to God’s gift of children. Male sexuality separated from the context and integrity of marriage is an explosive and dangerous reality. The boy must understand, even as he travels through the road of puberty and an awakened sexuality, that he is accountable to God for his stewardship of this great gift.

6. Moral maturity sufficient to lead as an example of righteousness. Stereotypical behavior on the part of young males is, in the main, marked by recklessness, irresponsibility, and worse. As a boy grows into manhood, he must develop moral maturity as he aspires to righteousness, learning to think like a Christian, act like a Christian, and show others how to do the same. The Christian man is to be an example to others, teaching by both precept and example. Of course, this requires the exercise of responsible moral reasoning. Boys will not learn this on their own, but must be taught. True moral education begins with a clear understanding of moral standards, but must move to the higher level of moral reasoning by which a young man learns how biblical principles are translated into godly living and how the moral challenges of his day must be met with the truths revealed in God’s inerrant and infallible word.

Biblical manhood does not develop in a vacuum. A boy’s most important teacher is his dad, and one of a father’s chief responsibilities is to instruct and inspire his son into true manhood.

When does a boy become a man? This is not just a hypothetical question, for an incredibly large number of boys and young men are struggling to answer this question, and many are without fathers who are faithful to guide them, or other male role models who offer inspiration and instruction. Furthermore, our society is so confused on these issues that boys are understandably puzzled. Tragically, far too many churches never even address this question, and thus sow the seeds of a greater and even more culpable confusion.

Friday, April 22, 2005

When does a boy become a man? This is not just a hypothetical question, for an incredibly large number of boys and young men are struggling to answer this question, and many are without fathers who are faithful to guide them, or other male role models who offer inspiration and instruction. Furthermore, our society is so confused on these issues that boys are understandably puzzled. Tragically, far too many churches never even address this question, and thus sow the seeds of a greater and even more culpable confusion.

Part one of this series presented six vital marks of manhood, intended to define the transition from boy to man. Now, seven additional marks to complete the picture:

7. Ethical maturity sufficient to make responsible decisions. To be a man is to make decisions. One of the most fundamental tasks of leadership is decision-making. The indecisiveness of so many contemporary males is evidence of a stunted manhood. Of course, a man does not rush to a decision without thought, consideration, or care, but a man does put himself on the line in making a decision–and making it stick. This requires an extension of moral responsibility into mature ethical decision-making that brings glory to God, is faithful to God’s word, and is open to moral scrutiny. Parents often leave their sons unprepared for this role by making decisions for them, and by failing to teach boys how to think and reason in responsible terms, how to weigh evidence and think clearly, and how to prioritize values according to a biblical standard. A real man knows how to make a decision and live with its consequences–even if that means that he must later acknowledge that he has learned by making a bad decision, and then by making the appropriate correction.

8. Worldview maturity sufficient to understand what is really important. An inversion of values marks our postmodern age, and the predicament of modern manhood is made all the more perplexing by the fact that many men lack the capacity of consistent worldview thinking. For the Christian, this is doubly tragic, for our Christian discipleship must be demonstrated in the development of a Christian mind. The Christian man must understand how to interpret and evaluate issues across the spectrum of politics, economics, morality, entertainment, education, and a seemingly endless list of other fields. The absence of consistent biblical worldview thinking is a key mark of spiritual immaturity. A boy must be taught how to translate Christian truth into genuine Christian thinking. He must learn how to defend biblical truth before his peers and in the public square, and he must acquire the ability to extend Christian thinking, based on biblical principles, to every arena of life.

9. Relational maturity sufficient to understand and respect others. Psychologists now talk of “emotional intelligence,” or EQ, as a major factor in personal development. While the world has given much attention to IQ, EQ is just as important. Individuals who lack the ability to relate to others are destined to fail at some of life’s most significant challenges and will not fulfill some of their most important responsibilities and roles. By nature, many boys are inwardly directed. While girls learn how to read emotional signals and connect, many boys lack the capacity to do so, and seemingly fail to understand the absence of these skills. While a man is to demonstrate emotional strength, constancy, and steadfastness, he must be able to relate to his wife, his children, his peers, his colleagues, and a host of others in a way that demonstrates respect, understanding, and appropriate empathy. This will not be learned by playing video games and by entering into the privatized world experienced by many male adolescents. Parents–especially fathers–must draw their sons out of inwardness, and demonstrate what it means to relate to others as a man and as a Christian.

10. Social maturity sufficient to make a contribution to society. While the arena of the home is an essential and inescapable focus of a man’s responsibility, he is also called out of the home into the workplace and the larger world as a witness, and as one who will make a contribution to the common good. God has created human beings as social creatures, and even though our ultimate citizenship is in heaven, we must also fulfill our citizenship on earth. A boy must learn to fulfill a political responsibility as a citizen, and a moral responsibility as a member of a human community. The Christian man bears a civilizational responsibility, and boys must be taught to see themselves as shapers of the society even as the church is identified by our Lord as both salt and light. Similarly, a Christian man must learn how to relate to unbelievers, both as witness and as fellow citizens of an earthly kingdom.

11. Verbal maturity sufficient to communicate and articulate as a man. Here’s a striking phenomenon of our times–many adolescent boys and young men seem to communicate only through a series of guttural clicks, grunts, and inchoate language that can hardly be described as verbal. A man must be able to speak, to be understood, and to communicate in a way that will honor God and convey God’s truth to others. Parents must work with boys, requiring them to speak, to articulate, and to learn respect for language. This respect must extend to an ability to enunciate words so that articulation is clear and communication succeeds. This skill must be learned at the dinner table, in family conversation, and in one-on-one talk, especially between father and son. Beyond the context of conversation, a boy must learn how to speak before larger groups, overcoming the natural intimidation and fear that comes from looking at a crowd, opening one’s mouth, and projecting words. Though not all men will become public speakers, every man should have the ability to take his ground, frame his words, and make his case when truth is under fire and when belief and conviction must be translated into argument.

12. Character maturity sufficient to demonstrate courage under fire. The literature of manhood is replete with stories of courage, bravery, and audacity. At least, that’s the way it used to be. Now, with manhood both minimalized and marginalized by cultural elites, ideological subversion, and media confusion, we must recapture a commitment to courage that is translated into the real-life challenges faced by the Christian man. At times, this quality of courage is demonstrated when a man risks his own life in defense of others, especially his wife and children, but also anyone who is in need of rescue. More often, this courage is demonstrated in taking a stand under hostile fire, refusing to succumb to the temptation of silence and standing as a model and example to others, who will then be encouraged to stand their own ground. In these days, biblical manhood requires great courage. The prevailing ideologies and worldviews of this age are inherently hostile to Christian truth and are corrosive to Christian faithfulness. It takes great courage for a boy to commit himself to sexual purity and for a man to devote himself unreservedly to his wife. It takes great courage to say no to what this culture insists are the rightful pleasures and delights of the flesh. It takes courage to serve as a godly husband and father, to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It takes courage to maintain personal integrity in a world that devalues the truth, disparages God’s word, and promises self-fulfillment and happiness only through the assertion of undiluted personal autonomy. A man’s true confidence is rooted in the wells of courage, and courage is evidence of character. In the end, a man’s character is revealed in the crucible of everyday challenges. For most men, life will also bring moments when extraordinary courage will be required, if he is to remain faithful and true. Parents should give close attention to their sons’ character, for if character is corrupt, nothing else will really matter.

13. Biblical maturity sufficient to lead at some level in the church. A close look at many churches will reveal that a central problem is the lack of biblical maturity among the men of the congregation and a lack of biblical knowledge that leaves men ill equipped and completely unprepared to exercise spiritual leadership. Boys must be taught to know, to treasure, to honor, and to understand the Bible. They must know their way around the biblical text, and feel at home in the study of God’s Word. They must be taught how to read with care, “rightly dividing the word of truth,” and they must learn how to apply the eternal truths of God’s Word to the challenges of modern manhood. Furthermore, they must stand ready to take their place as leaders in the local church. While God has appointed specific officers for his church–men who are specially gifted and publicly called–every man should fulfill some leadership responsibility within the life of the congregation. For some men, this may mean a less public role of leadership than is the case with others. In any event, a man should be able to teach someone, and to lead in some ministry, translating his personal discipleship into the fulfillment of a godly call. There is a role of leadership for every man in every church, whether that role is public or private, large or small, official or unofficial. A man should know how to pray before others, to present the Gospel, and to stand in the gap where a leadership need is apparent.

When does a boy become a man? I’m glad I was asked this question, and this series represents my attempt to provide an answer that will be both faithful to Scripture and applicable to the real-life challenges faced by men today. More urgently, it was good for me to think through this question and articulate these hallmarks as I seek to show my own son how to grow into biblical manhood. I am absolutely sure that there is more to be thought and more to be said, but this may help us all to see the challenges before us.

Dads, you are absolutely crucial to the process of man-making. No one else can fulfill your responsibility, and no one else can match your opportunity for influence with your son. By word and by example, we are teaching our sons the meaning of manhood. May God make us faithful as we seek to lead our boys to become true Christian men.

(Albert Molher. 2005.)

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Proclaiming God's Glorious Design for Men and Women

Check out their website at

Children Desiring God: New Youth Curriculum

Children Desiring God: New Youth Curriculum
(Desiring God Ministries)

This curriculum incorporates several new media features, including PowerPoint® shows and video clips, to help teachers present the lessons and engage youth in class-room discussion. Your Word Is Truth also uses student journals to assist young people as they apply the truth of the lessons to their everyday lives.

Click here for more information.

Wordless Wednesday

Bobbing for apples??? Nope, just cooling off.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Vacation Bible School

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5. ESV.)

This year we attended two weeks of Vacation Bible School (VBS). The first week was called "Mega Sports and Art Camp" and the second was "Saddle Ridge Ranch". Both were fantastic and my youngsters had a wonderful time. Below are some of our favorite songs from each. And last is a promotional video for "Saddle Ridge Ranch".

Mega Sports and Art Camp

I'm Not Ashamed Worship Song-August from Kids Quest on Vimeo.

Saddle Ridge Ranch

Monday, August 16, 2010

Two Women Killed

Domestic Violence takes two more lives. This is so upsetting. Why doesn't anyone step in to intervene before it becomes deadly?

A 40 year old Bay Shore woman was stabbed to death by her estranged husband. (August 8, 2010)

A 21 year old University of Central Florida student was killed by her ex-boyfriend. (August 14, 2010)
"She was a sweet girl. She didn't deserve what happened to her," said coworker John Adams.

How is Our Child Sponsorship Program Different Than “Regular” Schooling?

How is Our Child Sponsorship Program Different Than “Regular” Schooling?
(Compassion: Silas Irungu)

Many sponsors have the misconception that Compassion runs schools. We do not. However, we do facilitate a holistic child development program that complements and supplements the school systems in the countries we works in....

The purpose of our sponsorship program is to help children to become “responsible and fulfilled Christian adults.” Our Implementing Church Partners (ICPs) are encouraged to be creative in the ways they administer the program, but we also provide age-graded curriculum to help each church partner minister to their children consistently.

Click here to go to this post.

Come Boldly to the Throne of Grace

"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16. NKJV.)

Lord, I thank you for your word (2 Timothy 3:16). Thank you for a measure of faith (Romans 12:3), Your grace (Ephesians 2:1-9), a new heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26), eyes to see, ears to hear (Deuteronomy 29:4), and a new spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, oh Lord. Take not your Holy Spirit from me (Psalm 51:11) but lead me in the paths of righteousness, for your glory (Psalm 23:3).

I am grateful for the body of Christ, the bride. For those brothers and sisters in Christ you have placed in my life to pray for me, give me wise biblical counsel, encouragement, unwavering love (1 Corinthians 13:4-7), and support. I am blessed you have removed anyone who would lead me astray, away from You as the center of my life and my focus. Sometimes it is hard for me to understand why things are the way they are (Isaiah 55:8) but I have complete faith in You for You, unlike me, are omniscient. You see hearts and intentions. You recognize when a person is struggling with the flesh as opposed to being obedient to you. I pray I will listen carefully to your leading of my heart and follow Your instructions exactly. You alone are the compass which I consult, my map, my Way.

I rejoice in Your sovereignty...that not a single particle of dust dances randomly in the breeze. But rather you have the ability to stop the wind from blowing, the waves from crashing, the fire from burning. You speak and all things are your servants (Psalm 119:91). You have told the ocean, "Here your proud waves stop." (Job 38:11). You have given me an abundance of experiences so that I may be empathetic to others. It has taken me a while to grasp why I have felt such pain, why I have had to look in the face of evil and not be moved, why I have had to undergo the sting of being judged by both friend and foe, why I have had to learn what bullying, maltreatment, and humility feel and look like. I get it now that when I say, "For Your glory" I have to have a full and complete understanding of these things in order for me to serve to the fullest with as not to inadvertently hurt others. Please, Lord, don't ever let me forget.

All honor and glory are yours. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in you sight oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14).

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16. ESV.)

If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— (John 10:35. ESV.)

Your View of Scripture and Your View of God

Your View of Scripture and Your View of God
(The Gospel Coalition: Justin Taylor)

When you encounter a present-day view of Holy Scripture, you encounter more than a view of Scripture.

Click here to read the entire post.

What Is the Worst Thing about Hell?

What Is the Worst Thing about Hell?
(The Gospel Coalition: Justin Taylor)

We need to realize that those who are in hell desire nothing more than the absence of God. They didn’t want to be in God’s presence during their earthly lives, and they certainly don’t want Him near when they’re in hell. The worst thing about hell is the presence of God there.

Click here to read this post.

The Suffering of Christ and the Sovereignty of God

The Suffering of Christ and the Sovereignty of God
(John Piper)

The Ultimate Biblical Explanation for the Existence of Suffering

I believe the entire universe exists to display the greatness of the glory of the grace of God. I might have said more simply that the entire universe exists to display the greatness of the glory of God. That would be true. But the Bible is more specific. The glory of God shines most brightly, most fully, most beautifully in the manifestation of the glory of his grace. Therefore, this is the ultimate aim and the final explanation of all things—including suffering.

God decreed from all eternity to display the greatness of the glory of his grace for the enjoyment of his creatures, and he revealed to us that this is the ultimate aim and explanation of why there is sin and why there is suffering, and why there is a great suffering Savior. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came in the flesh to suffer and die and by that suffering and death to save undeserving sinners like you and me. This coming to suffer and die is the supreme manifestation of the greatness of the glory of the grace of God. Or to say it a little differently, the death of Christ in supreme suffering is the highest, clearest, surest display of the glory of the grace of God. If that is true, then a stunning truth is revealed, namely, suffering is an essential part of the created universe in which the greatness of the glory of the grace of God can be most fully revealed. Suffering is an essential part of the tapestry of the universe so that the weaving of grace can be seen for what it really is.

Or to put it most simply and starkly: the ultimate reason that suffering exists in the universe is so that Christ might display the greatness of the glory of the grace of God by suffering in himself to overcome our suffering. The suffering of the utterly innocent and infinitely holy Son of God in the place of utterly undeserving sinners to bring us to everlasting joy is the greatest display of the glory of God’s grace that ever was, or ever could be.

In conceiving a universe in which to display the glory of his grace, God did not choose plan b. This was the moment—Good Friday—for which everything in the universe was planned. There could be no greater display of the glory of the grace of God than what happened at Calvary. Everything leading to it and everything flowing from it is explained by it, including all the suffering in the world.

© 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:

Click here to read this post in its entirety.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The priority of fatherlessness

The priority of fatherlessness
(World Magazine: Anthony Bradley)

Churches, schools, and non-profit organizations not partnering on specific initiatives to build virtuous men and strong fathers are missing an opportunity truly to bless society....Churches and community organizations lacking specific, directed initiatives to build and support virtuous fathers forfeit the right to complain about America’s social problems.

Click here to read this post.

Wordless Wednesday

A am so thankful for the opportunities I have received to live in other countries/territories (Singapore, Taiwan (Republic of China), and Australia) and to visit (France, Switzerland, and Italy) experience their ways of life, learn their culture, and enjoy their friendships and food.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Always" by Building 429

I was standing in the pouring rain one dark, November night;
fighting off the bitter cold when she caught my eye.
Her face was taught and her eyes were filled and to my surprise
she pulled out a photograph and my heart just stopped inside
she said, "He would of been three today. I miss his smile. I miss his face."
What was I supposed to say?

But I believe always, always our savior never fails.
Even when all hope is gone,
God knows our pain
and his promise remains. He will be with you always.

he was living in a broken world dreaming of a home
his heart was barely keeping pace when I found him all alone
remembering the way he felt when his daddy said goodbye
fighting just to keep the tears and the anger locked inside

he's barely holding on to faith
but deliverance is on its way

because I believe always, always
our savior never fails.
Even when all hope is gone,
God knows our pain
and his promise remains. He will be with you always.

Friend I don't know where you are
and I don't know where you've been.
Maybe you're fighting for your life
just about to throw the towel in,
but if you 're crying out for mercy
if there's no hope left at all
if you've given everything you've got and you're still about to fall
well hold on,
hold on ,
hold on

Because I believe always, always
our savior never fails.
Even when all faith is gone,
God knows our pain
and his promise remains always. always.
He will be with you always.
He will be with you always.
He will be with you.

When the Rain Comes

Today we were at the public pool when rolling in came the dark clouds. The recreation area has a policy that when lightning is seen or thunder heard they (obviously) evacuate the facility. "If you hear it, clear it," they say. So the gray clouds loomed, appearing very threatening, and the cool wind blew. I was certain the storm was only a moment away.

As I watched and listened intently for any indication of lightning, the clouds broke open and fat drops of rain plummeted to the ground. The lifeguards blew their whistles and everyone exited the water as they could no longer see the bottom of the pool. A few minutes passed by and I was sure we were going to have to leave. But, before I called our ride to come get us, the clouds moved on and radiant light and magnificent heat came bursting forth. The sky was clear and amazing blue as feathery clouds dotted the heavens. Everything glistened and smelled fresh.

It made me think of tribulation and how easy it is to assume the darkness is going to linger. How without effort, thoughts focus on the gloom instead of the brilliance of hope and belief that all will be resolved well and good, just as God intended from before the foundations of the earth.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11. ESV.)

So, about 45-60 minutes later when once again the sun disappeared behind a curtain of wind, rain, and sinister, dreary clouds I was not so quick to expect the thunderstorm but instead looked forward to the return of the sunshine.

"Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it." (Matthew 7:24-27. ESV.)

New Piper Audio: Living, Preaching & Praying in the Spirit

New Piper Audio: Living, Preaching & Praying in the Spirit
(Desiring God Ministries: John Piper)

Living in the Power of the Spirit
Preaching in the Power of the Spirit
Praying in the Power of the Spirit

The Taste of Hell and God's Sovereign Choice

Joni Eareckson Tada is confined to a wheelchair because of a diving accident when she was a teenager. She said,
"Oh thank you, thank you for this wheelchair! By tasting hell in this life, I've been driven to think seriously about what faces me in the next. This paralysis is my greatest mercy."

How many, in this vapor of a life (James 4:14), have "tasted hell"? Until I read this quote I never thought of my tribulation as "a taste of hell" but I do believe that would be a very accurate description. I have looked evil in the face and stared in the crazed, blood shot eyes of wickedness. I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4) a few times yet still stand firm on the Rock (2 Samuel 22). I won't lie though, I did fear evil. I have been delivered from Pharaoh and hidden from Saul until the appointed time.

"He sent from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of many waters.
18He rescued me from my strong enemy,
from those who hated me,
for they were too mighty for me.
19They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
but the LORD was my support.
20 He brought me out into a broad place;
he rescued me, because he delighted in me.

21"The LORD dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
22 For I have kept the ways of the LORD
and have not wickedly departed from my God.
23 For all his rules were before me,
and from his statutes I did not turn aside.
24 I was blameless before him,
and I kept myself from guilt.
25 And the LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to my cleanness in his sight.
(2 Samuel 22:17-25. ESV.)

I do not carry the burden of unbelief on my shoulders. I have given the facts as they occurred. Disbelief in the mind or heart of some does not lie with me but with God who is sovereign and orchestrates events. To doubt His servant and witness is to distrust God's sovereign choice.

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen....

What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" 21 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? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?
(Romans 9:1-5, 14-24. ESV.)

The story is not finished. God's glory is still yet to come.

All I Have Is Christ from Sovereign Grace Ministries on Vimeo.

What Do I Have to Believe to Be Saved?

What Do I Have to Believe to Be Saved?
(Desiring God Ministries: John Piper)

Click here to read this post.

Now Is Not Forever

Now Is Not Forever
(Our Daily Bread)

The confidence we have as Christians is that God has something good planned for us. Suffering was not part of His original act of creation, but it serves as a temporary reminder of what happens in a world where God’s order has been broken. It also motivates us to spread the word about God’s plan to redeem the world from the suffering caused by sin.

Click here to read this post.

Kicking Off our 12th Year of Homeschooling with a Fun Tradition

Once again I'm linking to fellow blogger Tonya over at "Live the Adventure". Today she published a post entitled, "Kicking Off our 12th Year of Homeschooling with a Fun Tradition" which caught my attention. As a "homeschooling" parent myself I am generally fascinated with stories from other families regarding how they get along with schooling. And here is a glimpse of what Tonya has to say:

In addition to shopping for new school supplies, which I admit doesn’t thrill them like it used to, and purchasing a new outfit for the occasion, our favorite First Day of School Tradition is to go out for breakfast. Though it means waking up earlier than they are accustomed to, my kids have never dared to complain.

Click here to read the entire post.

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Life That Matters

The Life That Matters
(Our Daily Bread)

First Peter 5:5-6 comes to mind: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” Reverend Isaac Hann “made it big” in a way that matters—humility before God and a reward in heaven. We can too.

Click here to continue reading this post.

If You Have Teenagers, You Should Consider Watching this Movie

Fellow blogger Tonya over at "Live the Adventure" published a post about the movie "To Save a Life". Interested, I headed over to "Focus on the Family" to read up on the film which gets a detailed review.

Regarding her recommendation, Tonya wrote:

To Save a Life is written by a youth pastor and addresses many controversial subjects like suicide, teen drinking, sex, drug use, cutting and hypocrisy. If you haven’t yet figured it out, this is not your typical ‘Christian movie.’ It is however, an honest look at what many of our teens in the church and out of the church deal with.

To Save a Life is not going to be a movie that all Christians will enjoy watching because it’s challenging. It addresses areas about ourselves that we don’t like to think about. It also challenges us to make a difference. This is a movie that I think you should sit down and watch with your kids because unfortunately I think we forget just how many pressures our children are faced with and yes, I am including homeschooled children in that statement.

The writer at "Focus on the Family" wrote:

I'm inclined to let Mr. Britts have the last word in this case. Partly because after watching his movie, I wanted to watch it again. And I wanted to show it to my 16-year-old daughter—because it actively applies biblical principles to serious subjects teens struggle with every day. But it's not just because she should see this movie. It's because she'd love to see it, too.

A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Part Two

"[Ruth] has set her heart on God for hope and joy. And when a person does that, God's honor - not the value of our work - is at stake, and he will be merciful. If you plead God's value as the source of your hope instead of pleading your value as a reason for God's blessing, then his unwavering commitment to his own glory engages all his heart for your protection and joy." (John Piper. A SWEET AND BITTER PROVIDENCE. Crossway Books. p.67)

My hope is in God! It is not in myself and most assuredly not in man (Psalm 118:8)! Honestly speaking, had I placed my hope in man I would have given up long ago. I would have thrown in the towel and waved the white flag of retreat in the good fight.

His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
11but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love
. (Psalm 147:10-11)

For your name's sake, O LORD, preserve my life!
In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
(Psalm 143:11)

whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies-in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11)

John Piper, in his book A SWEET AND BITTER PROVIDENCE, reminds me,

"One of the terrible effects of depression is the inability to move purposefully and hopefully into the future. Strategies of righteousness are the overflow of hope....

"One of the reasons we must help each other 'hope in God' (Psalm 42:5) is that only hopeful people, hopeful families, and hopeful churches plan and strategize...." (p.82)

I have run into a few people who have resentment toward the church. And, I know this is a touchy subject so I desire to keep a soft word so as not to stir up anger (Proverbs 15:1). I have heard it said, "The church is just made up of hypocrites," and "All the church does is let people down." Given I do not know the situations from which these comments have been born it is difficult for me to be specific. The best I can do is say this, #1 If you find yourself in disagreement with the pastor and are speaking out against him and/or his leadership then perhaps the church you are attending is not for you. May I suggest prayer and maybe a change in teachers. #2 The church groups are made up of human beings, prisoners of the flesh, both recipients of salvation and those who are not, alike. The possibility of running into "whitewashed tombs" (Matthew 23:27) is happens. The "bride" (as mentioned in scripture) consists of followers of Christ (Galatians 2:20), filled with the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26), slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:20-23)...though still bound by the flesh. What's the difference? Faith and grace (Ephesians 2:1-10). If you have been wronged by someone in the body of Christ, possibly they were walking in the flesh at the time (or simply do not completely understand that about which they spoke). Again, may I suggest prayer, Matthew 18:15-20, and they just might come to you asking forgiveness. #3 Take refuge in the Lord rather than trusting in man (Psalm 118:8), commune with Him, and spend time each day in God's word to better grasp His character and instructions. That is my two cents for whatever it is worth. :)

"...The life of the godly is not an Interstate through Nebraska but a state road through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee. There are rockslides and precipices and dark mists and bears and slippery curves and hairpin turns that make you go backward in order to go forward. But all along this hazardous, twisted road that doesn't let you see very far ahead, there are frequent signs that say, 'The best is yet to come....'

"Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road.... And the point of bible stories like Joseph and Job and Esther and Ruth is to help us feel in our bones (not just know in our heads) that God is for us in all these strange turns...." (p.101)

"...If we would trust God implicitly, like Ruth, we would find that all our complaints against God are unwarranted. Our providences may be bitter, but God is at work for our good - whether we can see it or not." (p.105)

Walking in the flesh reaps destruction (Galatians 5:19-21) and relying on man instead of God is foolishness, in my opinion. (Not to say God does not use His servants (Psalm 119:91) to fulfill His plan. He provides doctors, counselors, etc. from whom we can get help but ultimately He is the "Great Physician" and "Mighty Counselor". He trumps all.) He calls us to Him. He takes us by the hand and leads us to the cross where we see and are overwhelmed by our need for a Savior. He opens the eyes of our heart so we can witness Him and all His works (Romans 1:20).

"You did not choose me, but I chose you..." (John 15:16).


Related Posts with Thumbnails