Thursday, September 30, 2010

Suffering and God's Goodness—Go to the Cross!

Suffering and God's Goodness—Go to the Cross!
(Desiring God: Jonathan Parnell)

Jesus Christ’s life and death demonstrate that God has never dished out any suffering he hasn’t taken on himself.

His death on the cross is God’s answer to the question, “Why don’t you do something about evil?” God allowed Jesus’ temporary suffering so he could prevent our eternal suffering . . .

God wrote the script of this drama of redemption long before Satan, demons, Adam and Eve—and you and I—took the stage. And from the beginning, he knew that the utterly spectacular ending would make the dark middle worth it. Paul writes, “This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time” (2 Timothy 1:9). How could God give us grace before our lives began, even before the universe itself existed? Only because God knew and determined in advance the work of Christ for us on the cross.

The story’s low point is the death of Jesus, yet this low point is the basis upon which he will one day, in a dramatic resolution to the story, return to establish his eternal kingdom on Earth. (Randy Alcorn. The Goodness of God: Assurance of Purpose in the Midst of Suffering. pp. 44-45)


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Think

"Think" by John Piper from Crossway on Vimeo.

Divorce — The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience

Divorce — The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience
(Albert Mohler)

Evangelical Christians are gravely concerned about the family, and this is good and necessary. But our credibility on the issue of marriage is significantly discounted by our acceptance of divorce. To our shame, the culture war is not the only place that an honest confrontation with the divorce culture is missing.


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When A Loved One or Stranger is Suffering

Today's bible study with my children was in Luke 10 regarding the parable of "The Good Samaritan". And, it got me thinking about what God's word says about serving others... especially when they are in great need like the man who was attacked by robbers in the parable.

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How do you read it?" 27 And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." 28 And he said to him, "You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live."

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 30 Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.' 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" 37 He said, "The one who showed him mercy." And Jesus said to him, "You go, and do likewise."
(Luke 10:25-37. ESV.)


A Choosy Servant Does Not a Good Samaritan Make

Hollywood makes movies about the desire to be a hero (or rescued by one), authors write books about it, poets compose sonnets regarding it and yet when it comes to reality and real people in distress, who is there for them? (And I am not only talking about widows and children, the homeless, the hungry, those who have lost everything due to hurricane, earthquake, tsunami, etc. I am also referring to the day to day individuals requiring assistance.) If God places someone in our life do we pass them by as the priest and Levite did or stop in our tracks and show empathy, grace, and tenderheartedness as the Samaritan did? Everyone is at risk of falling into tribulation. NO ONE is immune. Which leads me back to Luke 6:31 which says,
"And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pray the Bible

After receiving an email, I became interested in learning more about Matthew Henry's Method for Prayer website. What is "Method for Prayer"? The site states the following:

The aim of the online publication of this “old-made-new” monograph is to assist and encourage modern Christians in both public and private prayer. Surely we all recognize that the Church of our day, at least in the West, is weak in the way of prayer. Few of us, perhaps, understand what prayer really is. We do not pray often. We do not pray with scriptural proportion, nor does our prayer much reflect the language and thought of the Bible. We do not pray fervently. Although we claim otherwise, maybe we really do not believe in prayer!


As someone who needs all the encouragement one can get in the field of prayer, I am very excited to view Henry's information further... and I thought I would pass the link along as well.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

God and Football

Yes, I am a fan...a GATOR fanatic! College ball all the way...sorry NFL.

But I do not pray for my fabulous FL Gators to win. Someone once asked me, "Do you really think God cares about football?" No. I do not feel God gives a hoot about which team wins or loses however I do believe He cares a lot about the players!

But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7. ESV.)

Jeremiah 17:10: "I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds."


While I am cheering regarding the plays, God and His angels rejoice each time a sinner is saved.

I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:7. ESV.)


As I watch twenty-two individuals scurry about passing, kicking, blocking, running, and tackling, God views the hearts of these men and even governs their time on the field...(not to mention the spectators). He orchestrates every person, word spoken, and action performed as though painting a canvas...each stroke perfectly crafted and placed. And during this process, a game is either won or lost.

Though I do not bother with stats or rules but rather just enjoy the entertainment of the sport, I take great joy in knowing God cares about so much more than victory or defeat in a worldly pleasure. He is concerned about souls and eternity.

GO GATORS!!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Doing Well and Doing Better

I saw this on a loved one's blog and thought I would post it here too.

Doing Well and Doing Better
(John Piper)

One little way to undergird our efforts to love as we ought is to recognize moral gradations inside the bounds of good and evil. In other words, the Bible teaches that there is evil, and then there is worse evil. And the Bible teaches that there is good, and there is better. Sometimes we lose this perspective because we believe that falling short of perfection is sin. And how can sin be called good?

Perhaps we define perfection differently than God does. Jesus said, “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). But Paul said, “He who marries his betrothed does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better … Let him do what he wishes, he does not sin; let them marry” (1 Corinthians 7:38, 36). So you can fall short of doing “better” and still “do well.” So is less than “better” sin in this case? No. Paul explicitly says that doing less than better in this case is “not sin.”

Is less than “better” a falling short of perfection? Probably, if you define “perfection” in absolute terms. But evidently Paul did not think this way. It seems that “perfection” had some room in it. It seems that when there are several options, several may not be sin, even though one may be better than the other. So we must be careful not to overstate the demands of perfection. Even inside perfection, there is good, better, and best.

The same is true of evil. Inside evil there is bad, worse and worst. This is why Jesus ended one of his parables about the end of the age by saying, “That slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, shall receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few” (Luke 12:47-48). In other words, hell is not a place of invariable suffering. There are gradations of evil and gradations of torment in hell.

But that’s not my main concern here. My concern here is to caution us about over-absolutizing perfection. I have said often that none of us will attain perfection in this life (Philippians 3:12). That is true. And it is comforting that there is always forgiveness for sinners who bank on Jesus. I have also said that there are many gray areas in life where we do not know the ideal course of action and must choose what we hope will do the greatest good, when we are quite unsure. That, too, is true. It is both frustrating and comforting. We must live with ambiguity, and we are relieved of the burden of omniscience.

But now I am saying something different (not contradictory). Not only will we fall short of what is expected of us often in this life, and not only are there gray areas of ambiguity in the choices that we make, but also (this is the new thing), even when we don’t fall short, we may be doing well, better or best—all of which are not sin. In other words, not only are there gray areas between white and black, but there are shades of white inside of white. And the darker shades of white are not sin (1 Corinthians 7:36).

Knowing this, I say, will help us love as we ought. Think about it.

Growing, little by little, with you,

John Piper


© Desiring God

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Yom Kippur: It Is Finished

Yom Kippur: It Is Finished
(Desiring God Ministries: Jon Bloom)

For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the Lord from all your sins… And the priest who is anointed and consecrated as priest… shall make atonement for the holy sanctuary… for the tent of meeting… for the altar… for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. And this shall be a statute forever for you, that atonement may be made for the people of Israel once in the year because of all their sins. (Leviticus 16:30-34)


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20 Secret Household Cleaners You Already Own

20 Secret Household Cleaners You Already Own

These 20 money-saving cleaning tips can help solve almost any household cleaning problem. Just shop your pantry for these secret cleaners to disinfect, polish and shine.


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Saturday, September 18, 2010

NO HATE, KNOW LOVE

God is Love

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7. ESV.)


I can only imagine what the world would be like if there was no hate. It is quite possible individuals would be able to disagree peacefully, affection would be unconditional, issues of divorce, domestic violence, child abuse, etc. would be minimal or perhaps nearly nonexistent. Boarders and possession of land would be settled without hostility or violent wars. The condition of the earth, its inhabitants, and way of life would (in my opinion) look altogether different. Crime would ultimately be at a low. In short, the population would potentially be more childlike. It is even plausible an absence of hate would affect the amount of drug and alcohol abusers in existence as well.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3. ESV.)


Can people hold differing opinions and still show love? I believe so. Why not? I reason men, women, and children have the ability (though maybe not the skills) to coexist despite national, cultural, racial, geographical, cosmetic, relational, prophetic, and/or religious differences.

Regardless the gospel says...

God's Grace is Sufficient

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
(2 Corinthians 12:9. ESV.)


Be a Kinder...

Abraham Piper wrote a post (I have quoted on this blog before and part of which I have again pasted below) called "Be a Kinder Calvinist". Though some (or even most) may not place themselves in the category of either "Calvinist" nor "Arminian" I feel Piper's message is still applicable in general (dare I say for everyone)...be the most considerate, tolerant Christian, Calvinist, Arminian, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist, Muslim, Pagan, or whatever else one might be, from the heart, in LOVE.

There is a letter on Scot McKnight's blog from a pastor who is very frustrated with certain Calvinists in his church. It would be easy enough to disregard it, pointing out that not all Calvinists are like that or that his use of the word "hyper-Calvinist" doesn't match correct theological jargon. But that would be missing the point. And, ironically, that reaction would only lend credence to the frustration that motivated the letter in the first place.

So how should we read this letter in a way that acknowledges, understands, and respects the discouragement of its author?

First, we should note that it is simply indisputable that some people are exactly the way he describes. When you see mean extremists in another circle, it reminds you why you don't run with that crowd. But when you see mean extremists in your own circle, it's just plain embarrassing. Unfortunately, until we are perfected there will always be mean people of every theological strain. But fortunately, we are a part of the church not merely for the company, but for Christ.

The second way to understand the letter is to see it (along with the numerous comments that follow) as abundant evidence that, to many, Calvinists come across as self-righteous, condescending, arrogant, unfriendly, argumentative, and even stingy. The fact that we're not all that way is irrelevant in the same way that it didn't matter to Molly that I had done three things to show I appreciate her—she still felt unappreciated. Her frustration was true because, whether or not I was grateful to my wife, I was perceived as an ingrate. Similarly, the frustration in the letter is true because, whether or not the Calvinists in the letter-writer's church are good folks, they come off as proud and divisive jerks. Those Calvinists, as church members, and I, as a husband, should change based on this information, regardless of how "inaccurately" the frustration may be worded.

In my marriage, it doesn't matter whether I'm thankful if I don't seem like it. And in the church, it doesn't matter whether we have the fruits of the Spirit if no one can tell.

It won't be easy to change the pejorative stereotype that clings to Calvinism, but we can start by admitting that it is accurate far too often. Then we can make sure we are manifestly not self-righteous, condescending, arrogant, unfriendly, or argumentative. Also, you can count on us to buy dinner or coffee sometimes.

Paying attention to those who disagree with us and taking them seriously, even if we're pretty sure we'll still disagree, is part of what it means to be in the body of Christ. It's humbling; it sanctifies. It will make us better husbands and wives. It will make us better Christians, and maybe even better Calvinists.
(© Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org)

The Way of Love

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away....

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13. ESV.)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Justin Taylor on a ‘tragic mistake’

Justin Taylor on a ‘tragic mistake’
(World Magazine: Mickey McLean)

On Wednesday, our beloved columnist Andrée Seu wrote a column on her observations on Glenn Beck and his faith, which has drawn a lot of attention in the blogosphere. Our friend Justin Taylor wrote a thoughtful response at his Between Two Worlds blog, which we reprint below with Justin’s permission.


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What Is the Gospel?

What Is the Gospel? (1 Cor 15)
(The Gospel Coalition)
D.A. Carson | May 22, 2003

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Christianity Explored

The congregation I attend is getting ready to start a study called "Christianity Explored". The website for this course is located at www.christianityexplored.org/. It sounds fantastic and I wanted to share it with anyone interested. According to the website,

"Christianity Explored is an informal course for people who'd like to investigate Christianity, or just brush up on the basics. It explores who Jesus was, what his aims were, and what it means to follow him."


Kevin DeYoung (The Gospel Coalition) gave his recommendation which says (in part),
"If you are looking for an evangelism program to use in your church, I strongly urge you to consider Christianity Explored. Although there are several good programs out there, we decided to go with CE several years ago. We appreciate that the CE videos go through a book of the Bible (Mark) and does not skip over the doctrine of sin."


Further, DeYoung conducted an interview with an elder from his own church, Bruce Jeffries, who said,
"All 10 video presentations include all the three main content areas: 1. Jesus His Identity, 2. His Mission, 3. His Calling. The earlier sessions focus on who Jesus is, then they transition to His death and resurrection and end with His rightful claim on your life. As you know Mark is used to look at Jesus."






Exploró el cristianismo es un curso no formal para los que le gustaría investigar el cristianismo, o simplemente repasar los conceptos básicos. Explora quién era Jesús, lo que sus objetivos eran, y lo que significa que lo siguiera.

Esplorazione cristianesimo è un corso informale per chi desideri approfondire il cristianesimo, o semplicemente rispolverare le nozioni di base. Essa esplora chi era Gesù, quello che i suoi obiettivi erano, e cosa significa per seguirlo.

Christianisme exploré est un cours structuré pour les personnes qui souhaiterions effectuer des recherches christianisme, ou simplement rafraîchir les bases. Il explore qui était Jésus, ce que ses objectifs étaient, et ce que cela signifie de le suivre.

基督教探討的一個非正式課程的人誰想要探討基督教,或只刷了對基礎知識。它探討耶穌是誰,他的目的是什麼,和什麼手段來追隨他。

キリスト教模索、キリスト教、または調査するようにしたい人のための非公式のコースだけで基本的にブラッシュアップされます。これは、探検イエスは、どのような彼の目的があったであり、それは彼に従うことを意味します。

Разведанные христианство является неофициальным курс для людей, которые хотели бы исследовать христианство, или просто освежить в основах. В нем рассказывается, кто такой Иисус, что его цели были, и что это значит следовать за ним.

استكشفت المسيحية هو بالطبع غير الرسمية للأشخاص الذين ترغب في التحقيق في المسيحية ، أو حتى فرشاة فقط على الأساسيات. ويستكشف الذي كان يسوع ، ما هي أهدافه و، وماذا يعني أن يتبعه.

Would You Drink It?

I believe it was John Piper who brought my attention to fellow blogger Dustin over at his site "His Peace Upon Us" where he posts for both Christians and Muslims. Very interesting reading, by the way, if I do say so. A couple of articles I have read and wanted to share from "His Peace Upon Us" are:

Would You Drink It?

Most people I know (me included) underestimate the seriousness of sin. “Sin isn’t that bad, and besides, I don’t sin that much.” We fail to recognize that God is holy and therefore any sin is an offense against him. Since he is infinitely holy any sin (no matter how little) is infinitely offensive.


(Click title to continue reading this post.)

Christian Janitor Dies to Save Muslims

“A clash of civilizations.” That’s how many in the media and in politics describe the relationship between Muslims and Christians. This popular narrative, however, does not capture the full story. Yes, there is a faction of Islam that is hostile and even aggressively violent toward the West. And there are some Christians who ignorantly scrawl Bible versus on the gun barrels of their tanks. But there are also people like Pervaiz Masih.... [who] represents what happens when Christians take seriously their calling to love their neighbors–even when those neighbors are Muslim.


(Click title of post to view this story in its entirety.)

Weeping Together

Weeping Together
(Tim Challies)

Last night we received the shocking news that one of our next-door neighbors had taken his life just a few hours prior....Yesterday, while out with his mother, he threw himself off a building and fell to his death. We grieve for the family he left behind—for his mother, his sister and his two brothers.


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Samson and Jesus: Studies in Contrast

Samson and Jesus: Studies in Contrast
(Pyromaniacs: Dan Phillips)

Judges and kings all foreshadow Christ, one might say — yet, in some, the foreshadowing is by way of contrast. Was there a greater than Samson, in this way?

One might say that Samson was dedicated to God from the womb (Judges 13:7), as was Christ (Luke 1:35), but there the similarity ends. Samson's dedication was external and formal, Christ's was internal and real.


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Just The Way I Am

Just The Way I Am
(Sovereign Grace Ministries: C.J. Mahaney)

Krista [23 years old, was diagnosed with Apert syndrome the day after her birth and has since undergone more then 60 surgeries] is also the author of the new book Just the Way I Am: God's Good Design in Disability (Desiring God, 2009). When it was released I received a copy from my friend Jon Bloom at Desiring God. I immediately read the book when it arrived and was deeply moved as I read it. I think you will be as well.


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Low support for radicalism among European Muslims — Pew report

Low support for radicalism among European Muslims — Pew report
(Faith World: Tom Heneghan)

Support for radical Islamist groups is low among European Muslims and some leading groups with overseas roots are now cooperating with local governments and encouraging Muslims to vote, according to a new report.


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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Unless One Changes and Becomes Like a Child

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

5 "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
(Matthew 18:1-7. ESV.)


Understanding the Text

Honestly, I thought this was going to be an easy post. No, actually. Not so much. So, it is full of scripture because I wanted to make sure I got the meaning behind each piece of text correct. Originally, I felt this was saying we have to be childlike...in a number of ways...not only humble but also unconditional in love, unwavering in belief, and plentiful with innocence. After further digging, however, I feel I was (perhaps) a bit off.

"Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great." (Luke 9:48. ESV.)

Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." (Mark 10:15. ESV.)

John 3:5: Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.


Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. (1 Corinthians 14:20. ESV.)

Ephesians 4:14: ...so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

Romans 16:19: For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.


Okay, so one is to be "born again", baptized, and receive the Holy Spirit. Further he or she is to be wise as serpents yet innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). So, I personally take that to mean I need to use wisdom and be certain I am not guilty of ANY evil.

One of my all time favorite teachers, John Piper, puts it this way,
"'What must I do to be saved?' is probably the most important question any human can ask. Let's look for a moment at the different ways God answers that question in his Word. The answer in Acts 16:31 is 'Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.' The answer in John 1:12 is that we must receive Christ: 'To all who received him . . . he gave power to become children of God.' The answer in Acts 3:19 is, Repent! That is, turn away from sin. 'Repent therefore, and turn again that your sins may be blotted out.' The answer in Hebrews 5:9 is obedience to Christ. 'Jesus became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.' Jesus himself answered the question in a variety of ways. For example, he said in Matthew 18:3 that childlikeness is the condition for salvation:

Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.


Back to the Basics

Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19. ESV.)


What are the commandments? Exodus 20 says they are:

1. Have no other gods before God.

2. Do not bow down to or serve carved images (or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.)

3. Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

5. Honor your father and your mother.

6. Do not murder.

7. Do not commit adultery.

8. Do not steal.

9. Do not bear false witness against your neighbor.

10. Do not covet anything that is your neighbor’s.

In Conclusion

See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man came to save the lost. (Matthew18:10. ESV.)

Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. (1 Corinthians 8:12. ESV.)

Zechariah 2:8: For thus said the LORD of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye:

Sufferers Make Strong Believers

Sufferers Make Strong Believers
(Desiring God Ministries: Tyler Kenney)

The yoke of affliction, disappointment, and excessive labor is by no means to be sought for; but when the Lord lays it on us in our youth, it frequently develops a character which glorifies God and blesses the church.


Continue reading this post.

Praying for Saul: Lover of Hate

Theology seems to be a great debate. God gave us His word to live by and individuals want to argue over it...which, by the way, doesn't that go against what God says? (I.e. keep the peace...do not stir up strife and God is love not hate):

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

Hatred stirs up strife,
but love covers all offenses.
(Proverbs 10:12. ESV.)

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
(Proverbs 15:18. ESV.)

A greedy man stirs up strife,
but the one who trusts in the LORD will be enriched.
(Proverbs 28:25. ESV.)

A man of wrath stirs up strife,
and one given to anger causes much transgression.
(Proverbs 29:22. ESV.)


Yes, He warns also to be wise (Matthew 10:16) but does NOT state to treat others poorly, take revenge upon them, demonstrate an eye for an eye - a tooth for a tooth, and repay evil with evil. Rather God says quite the OPPOSITE and, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." (Romans 12:19. ESV.)

Do not say, "I will repay evil";
wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.
(Proverbs 20:22. ESV.)

But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. (Matthew 5:39. ESV.)

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (Romans 14:19. ESV.)

For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." And again,(B) "The Lord will judge his people." (Hebrews 10:30. ESV.)

Vengeance is mine, and recompense,
for the time when their foot shall slip;
for the day of their calamity is at hand,
and their doom comes swiftly.'
(Deuteronomy 32:35. ESV.)

...that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. (1 Thessalonians 4:6. ESV.)


Scriptures give many examples of how God's people (and unbelievers alike) acted and what the outcome was for their behavior. If they did not glorify God and obey His instruction, they reaped consequences... as a child would from his or her parent.

At this point I am going to look toward Saul of Tarsus. A man of hate who did unspeakable things. However the contrast between Saul of Tarsus and the apostle Paul are overwhelming. A heart of repulsion, venom, and ruthlessness replaced by one of adoration. Quite a stunning difference... and no gray area. Which, come to think of it, is something else that strikes me about the gospel. God does not like "lukewarm". It is black or white, hot or cold, believer or not. (Not to say there is not a season when God is working on the heart and one might experience a battle between the flesh and Holy Spirit, but rather (based on the word of God) God does not appear to be the author of confusion. It either is or it is not... either love or hate... Saul of Tarsus or apostle Paul.)

Now, am I a theologian, masters holder, or doctorate recipient? No. But neither (I presume) were the disciples, Ruth, Esther, Mary (mother of Jesus), nor Mary Magdalene. I am just me... a stop what I'm doing, drop everything, let the dead bury their own dead, denier of self, cross carrying, follower type gal. Jesus is my Lord and Savior and He does not require me to be a scholar... only like Paul and more importantly... as similar as humanly possible to Christ Jesus.

So, when I witness worldliness and perhaps see men or women behaving badly, I pray for ones imitating Saul: the lover of hate. For hate is not of God. Hate is of the devil.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7. ESV.)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Let Us Not Grow Weary: Part Three

Standing Before the Throne

I love that I can go before the throne of God and place all of my sadness, doubts, anxiety, heartache, frustrations, trials, joy, praises, requests, intercessions, thankfulness, etc. before my King. And, I can stay as long as I want.

He never turns a deaf ear nor tells me to leave. I can even sleep there if I desire. He knows my heart yet He allows me to voice it all to Him regardless. And it is only because of His obedient Son, my Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus that I may approach my King and He is my Heavenly Father full of love, discipline, grace, mercy, wisdom, and blessings for me...for all of us.

It's Not About Man! It's About Him!

Lack of knowledge and the idol of self causes me to be unable to hear and be blind to God and His will. If I am more concerned about being right, getting my own way, and only focusing on myself then I am going to miss how God is leading my heart.

The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps.
(Proverbs 16:9. ESV.)


We are the Church Together

The church is the body/bride of Christ. And (as John Piper says) Christ Jesus NEVER divorces the church. I know it is debated as to the importance of meeting together in a building (Matthew 18:20) but I, personally, love and desire to fellowship with others. I feel it is lovely to share something of the heart so dear as Christ Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit. I recently read a phrase that I consider accurately expresses my feelings on the matter. It said, “One church, many congregations”.

No, my fellow sisters and brothers in Christ and I do not always agree (or even often concur) on EVERYTHING...and I do have my favorite teachers but is one facility better than another? If they are both firm in the foundation of God's word/ doctrinally sound, I do not believe so. Is it wrong to attend more than one "congregation" if both have excellent instructors/pastors?

It is my opinion no one group is going to be perfect. Man is not without flaws. There are always going to be disappointments on some level or another. But God's ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not like ours (Isaiah 55:8). And, I have to admit, sometimes it is hard to understand why things have to happen the way they do. Why does God's will hurt at times...or even worse, upset those we love so dearly?

Regardless of circumstances, despite events big or small, God is still on His throne.

"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is filled with his glory." (Isaiah 6:3)

How To Be An Atheist

How To Be An Atheist
(Youthguy: Carl Jones)

...today, I offer up my opinion on what makes a good atheist. I hope you will read it in the spirit it is intended. So here we go- how to be an atheist... (Go to this post to see points).

Many atheists consider themselves to be intellectuals, above all the "hocus-pocus" of religion. Consider this intellectual perspective. Have you ever witnessed child birth? Have you ever picked a ripe apple from a tree and tasted its amazing flavor? Have you ever looked into the Grand Canyon or out at the waves on the ocean, or thought about the precision complexity of the human body? If you can consider these things and still think all of it happened by accident, then you may have what it takes to be an atheist. But consider this- if you are right and there is no god, then I look foolish, and neither of us have lost anything. But if I am right, and God created the world and sacrificed His only Son so that we might spend eternity with Him, then there is much to gain through seeking God- and much to lose by choosing to ignore His presence. If all of that sounds like a case for God, then why don't you look into Jesus?


Click here to continue reading this post.

How Humans Are Greater Than Angels

How Humans Are Greater Than Angels
(Desiring God Ministries: Tyler Kenney)

Jonathan Edwards gives three reasons why human beings, though sinful and inferior in wisdom and strength, will forever exceed angels in glory and honor:

1. Angels were made to serve God by serving man, but man was made to serve God directly.

2. Human grace, holiness, and love are greater virtues than angelic wisdom and strength.

3. Believers are united to Christ in a way angels never will be.

Follow his logic for these points in Miscellanies #103.


© 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

Praying God's Promises

Praying God's Promises
(Tim Challies)

A few months ago my friend Tim Kerr, pastor of Sovereign Grace Church in Toronto gave me permission to share Take Words With You, a prayer manual he has written. It is a small book that contains over 1600 scripture promises and prayers meant to help God’s people pray more effectively. The promises are arranged around the cross—its purposes and rewards.


Click here to read this post.

Ike’s Anger Problem

Ike’s Anger Problem
(Our Daily Bread: Dennis Fisher)

Inevitably, each of us will at times be tempted to lash out in anger. Yet through God’s work in our lives we can learn to control our anger. What better way to influence people than through a gentle spirit.


Click here to read the entire post.

Piper on Solving Marital Conflict

Ladies (and gentleman) this is nothing to sniff at...I love it where Piper says,

I would say a wife's role is to see all that God enables her to see and then ask the Lord for wise and humble and submissive ways to share, to bring into her husband's life her perspective on things. And it's his job as a leader to be humbly receptive to those kinds of things and then to take action.

She doesn't want to take over at that point. She wants to say, "Here's the way I see it. I think we need to do this or this or this." And then his job as the leader—and this is the hardest job as the leader—is to humble himself to act on that instead of saying, "OK, if you don't like the way I do it, go ahead."

Yesterday in the airport we saw a husband bring his wife a Coke, and there was no ice in it. And she said, "Where's the ice?" And I could tell on his face that he wasn't happy about that question. "I just got you a Coke, and you say, 'Where's the ice?'" And then he handed her the juice, and she said, "You got this kind of juice for our kid?"

So he blew it: he got Coke without ice and the wrong kind of juice. And he comes down to the end of the line and just sits down, three seats down from where they are. Now at that moment, what does leadership do? Leadership has picked up that this wife wants ice in her Coke, and this wife wants a different kind of juice for their three-year-old who's walking around here. And he just blew it on both and he's sulking at the end of the line, just like I do. That's not leadership.

The hardest thing in the world at that moment is to receive from your wife news that you don't want to receive, and then to rise above the self-pity, the anger, and the frustration of that moment that "I just served her, and she didn't say 'Thank you' but 'Where's the ice?'" You're going to forgive, you're going to rise, and you're going to lead and say, "I'll go get it."

So yes, we husbands need to hear things we're blind to—like reminders that she likes ice, and that the kid needs orange juice not grapefruit juice—and we need to then lay it down and stop sulking and being self-pitying and go lead.


Click here to read the entire post.

New drug resistant superbug found in three states

New Drug Resistant Superbug Found in Three States
(World Magazine)

A new gene that can turn many types of bacteria into superbugs resistant to nearly all antibiotics has sickened people in three states and is popping up all over the world, health officials reported Monday.


Click here to read this post.

Virtual Education and Faith

Virtual Education and Faith
(K12 blog)

What I’ve found is that more than any other curriculum and school possibility, K¹² has allowed us, as families, to share our beliefs and faith with our children while using a thorough, secular curriculum....K¹² doesn’t inhibit what you want to share with your children. Rather it enhances the possibilities to do so. More possibilities to share, discuss and teach…using a secular curriculum to do so. K¹² teaches the history, you teach the faith, whatever that might be.


Click here to read this entire post.

Update from the Pipers

Pastor John Piper is one of my absolute favorite teachers. His place in my mind as great instructor is accompanied by Jonathan Edwards, John MacArthur, and C.J. Mahaney (among others). As part of the body of Christ/ the bride/ the church I feel it is of importance to have dependable, wise mentors for firm, strong, biblical guidance without prejudice.

Current events in the lives of the Pipers have pastor John on a sabbatical but it is refreshing to hear from him every once in a while to share what God is continuing to do in his life:

Update from the Pipers
(John Piper)

Noël and I continue to be deeply thankful to our family at Bethlehem for the gift of these months away. You may recall my explanation for the leave where we said there were three components: soul, marriage and family, and vocational. Each needed a reality check. And of course they are interrelated.

On the soul front, we continue to probe the roots of our most characteristic sins with a view to confessing them and repenting and seeking God’s transforming power through prayer and Bible-saturated counsel. Extended time in prayer and the word is part of this focus.

On the marriage and family front, we are spending much more time than usual talking with each other and connecting with our children, grandchildren, and wider family.

On the vocational front, we are finding that we do love Jesus more than we love serving Jesus. And we really love serving Jesus, especially at Bethlehem, and are eagerly looking forward to being back. We have not given much thought yet to the pace and pattern of the post-leave ministry. That will come in the latter months of the leave. Soul and family have priority for now.


© 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

Those opposed to the gospel seek to destroy Bibles.

Those opposed to the gospel seek to destroy Bibles.
(Voice of the Martyrs)

We seek to replace them!

Your contribution to VOM's Bibles to Captive Nations Fund will help ensure that we can continue delivering Bibles to those who have had theirs destroyed or confiscated or to believers who have never owned a Bible of their own.


Click here to continue reading this post.

Friday, September 10, 2010

How Majestic is Your Name

O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.

2 From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.

3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?

5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.

6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:

7 all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,

8 the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

9 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
(Psalm 8:1-9. ESV.)

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Christians Get Depressed Too

Connected Kingdom Podcast, Episode 18
(Tim Challies)

What is depression and what are its causes? Do Christians really suffer from depression and, if they do, what does this say about their spiritual state? What is the role of medication in treating depression? Should Christians make sure that they visit a Christian family doctor or psychologist if wrestling with depression?


Click here for the entire post.

Set a King Over Us

Now Samuel called the people together to the LORD at Mizpah. 18 And he said to the people of Israel, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.' 19 But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses, and you have said to him, 'Set a king over us.' Now therefore present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes and by your thousands." (1 Samuel 10:17-19. ESV.)


I feel this piece of scripture gives me a glimpse into what God meant when He said, "...for I the LORD your God am a jealous God."

Further, Psalm 118:8 also springs to mind which states, "It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man."

It sounds to me as though God was quite offended by the request for a king. But who is man to think human beings can govern (or anything else for that matter) better than God?

"Hence that dread and amazement with which, as scripture uniformly relates, holy men were struck and overwhelmed whenever they beheld the presence of God...Men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God." J. Calvin


However, I understand why Samuel was pressured to intercede on behalf of the people and beseech God for a king. I too have a habit of looking to man first when I should go straight to the foot of the throne. I am swift to consult attorneys for legal counsel, psychologists for matters of the mind, and pastors for biblical guidance. What I fail to immediately grasp (in the moment) is because of Christ Jesus there is the opportunity and great privilege to commune with God (King above all kings, Mighty Counselor, Great Physician) directly. Worldly speaking, I cannot even stand before the President of the United States, king or queen of another country, or Dalai Lama with every single question, concern, and/or grievance I have. In fact, I would not get very far if I attempted to walk up to the door of the white house and ring the bell for a meeting with the president to discuss the matters of my heart. Infact, I would probably be black listed. :)

On the other hand, God has made Himself available to me 24/7/365. He speaks ever so gently to my heart and guides my steps (Proverbs 16:9). I know it is His purpose that will stand (Proverbs 19:21). I only have to stay focused on the cross and be obedient. Or, as someone dear to my heart told me...all we have to do is be faithful and God will take care of the rest. Praise God!

"The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe." (Proverbs 18:10. ESV.)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

It's Not What is Said, It's How It Affects the Other Person

I love how God uses all things as His servants (Psalm 119:91), even me. How a remark in passing will mean little to me, or even nothing to many others in ear shot, but will hit God's chosen recipient(s) like a ton of bricks...exactly what they needed to hear at the imperative moment

Things that are important to me are not the same for the next person...and vice versa. My challenges are not theirs. But I am thankful for each trial I get to face (though unpleasant) because it teaches me empathy and compassion. It is far more difficult for me to encourage another when I have not walked the path myself.

For example, in my vapor of a life (James 4:14) I know someone who is wrestling dearly with something I have never experienced and do not understand. Unfortunately, I have attempted to speak to this individual based on God's word however given my naivety on the matter it did not go well at all. Fortunately, God continues to keep this adult in my life so I have the opportunity to ask forgiveness and try again. This time, doing research first and then opening my mouth.

Come to find out, after talking to another who struggles with this same temptation, my approach and assumptions on the matter were all wrong! No wonder I offended when my intention was to bless. I had no clue what lay at the heart of the matter. In this particular case, it is a lack of time and depth in God's word. I was trying to address the issue at the surface instead of digging to the root.

What added insult to injury was I had the prideful audacity to presume I knew how to fix someone else's tribulation and that my unsolicited opinion was wanted and best. Even though I am grounded deep and firm in God's word, that #1 does not make me an expert and #2 does not make me the Holy Spirit. I am a daughter of the King, recipient of an inheritance, and former wretch...NOT holy.

"Hence that dread and amazement with which, as scripture uniformly relates, holy men were struck and overwhelmed whenever they beheld the presence of God...Men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God." J. Calvin

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Masculine Mentoring

Masculine Mentoring
(Carolyn McCulley)

Sometimes when I speak to women about the issues surrounding feminism and biblical femininity, I receive questions about who is teaching men their corresponding roles. Who is teaching men how to be servant-leaders?...One of the bloggers I follow, Justin Buzzard, wrote about the advice he received from an older man in his congregation upon the birth of his second son,...

Over the next year you are really going to have to be intentional in putting [your wife]'s needs ahead of your own. She will be 24/7 putting the needs of two boys ahead of her wants, desires and needs...that's the just the way it is in this stage with multiple kids....so she is going to desperately need someone to pamper her and put her first...prioritize her.

Guess what? That is YOU. :) I know this sounds kind of like a raw deal (I mean, who is going to be pampering Justin?). But this is the Biblical model. Christ laid down his life so that He could present the church (bride) blameless. I think as men we have that same challenge. We need to be building into our wives by serving them, meeting their needs, putting them first in all things...that's how we lead them to a deeper relationship with Jesus
.


Click here to read this entire post.

Comforting Others

Comforting Others
(Carolyn McCulley)

Comforting others isn't always about opening our mouths. In fact, our sympathetic presence may be all that is needed in the short term. As we all know, that's the only thing Job's friends got right. But also, we need to pray for the endurance of our friends who are suffering:...

God is the one who comforts the downcast (2 Cor. 7:6-7), but He often uses us to do so. Paul was clear about that when he told the Corinthians how Titus was used in his life: "But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more." Our presence is often an assurance of God's covenant love.


Click here to read this entire post.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Unteachable

He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, do you wash my feet?" 7 Jesus answered him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand." 8 Peter said to him, "You shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no share with me."...14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:4-8, 14-17. ESV.)


I love this scripture because it reminds me of what love produces in serving others from the heart. Matthew 12:34 says, "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." And honestly, I think that goes for "works" as well. It is so evident when a person is tenderhearted, compassionate, empathetic, and most importantly, Christ like in their words and actions as opposed to being "whitewashed tombs" (Matthew 23:27) beautiful in appearance but ugly and dead on the inside...shallow and prideful.

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (2 Timothy 3:2-5. ESV.)


I am always thankful (though it is usually painful) when God gives me small glimpses into the hearts of others. This weekend I saw the precious, stunningly gorgeous heart of a servant in love with her Lord and His bride (the body). She put things on hold one day and went that extra mile (that only comes from love) to serve me and my children. It was touching, memorable, and inspiring. It makes me stop and think, "Now THAT is what a true follower of Christ looks like!" I do not know how easy or difficult it was for her to do what she did for us but it was more priceless than words can express. Not because of the act itself but because it was heartfelt and significant on a deeper level. It was a sacrifice of self, and whatever she otherwise had planned for that day (and this is one very busy lady), for a fellow sister in Christ. (Thank you, Chrissy! I saw Christ in you!)

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
(1 Peter 5:1-11. ESV.)


I am so thankful for Chrissy's example. Lord, I beg you, please keep my ears turned toward You and my eyes focused on You. Please halt me in my tracks so that I may serve someone who is in need of a reflection of Christ Jesus. Please do not allow me to become too engrossed in my own life or agenda to stop and see what You have placed right in front of me. All honor and glory are Yours!

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12. ESV.)

Who Made God?

Who Made God?
(Randy Alcorn)

Everyone who questions the existence of God will benefit from this book, as will those who believe in God and wish to defend their faith more effectively.


Click here to read this entire post.

The Importance of Using Your Body in Worship

The Importance of Using Your Body in Worship
(Desiring God Ministries: Tyler Kenney)

Jonathan Edwards says that a lack of external expression in worship can actually destroy Christian community and devotion.


Click here to read entire post.

The Worst of All Evils

The Worst of All Evils
(Pyromaniacs: Phil Johnson)

Nothing is more offensive to God than false religion. The first two of the Ten Commandments underscore that truth. The order of the Commandments is significant. By ruling out false religion before forbidding murder, adultery, or stealing, Moses' Law made clear that that false religion is the vilest of sins.


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Friday, September 03, 2010

Help Your Kids Love God with Their Hearts and Minds

Help Your Kids Love God with Their Hearts and Minds
(Desiring God Ministries)

Available this Fall from Crossway, the ESV Seek and Find Bible is a great way to help kids ages 5-9 learn to love God’s Word. The Bible contains the full ESV text along with other helpful resources, like book introductions written for children, character profiles, maps, and a concordance
.


Click here to read this entire post.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Birthday Thursday

I am off today celebrating a birthday in the family but will return soon. Time now to go bake the cake and play the party game of choice...Monopoly.

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