Millennials Have Turned Away From ‘Cool’ Christianity, But Traditional Churches Are Making A Comeback
Millennials need the church, now more than ever, but they need the church to just be the church. Concert entertainment, coffee, and friends can be easily found. But as Evans wrote, “Church is the only place you can get ashes smudged on your forehead as a reminder of your mortality.” If churches return to the liturgy and tradition that has always sustained them, the pews will fill back up again. Until then, Millennials and other generations won’t find what they’re really looking for.
Feminists: Defend the Body, Not the Frankenstein
It now appears that the criticism of the abortionists has not been wholly accurate. It’s not that they have calculated fetusus to be worthless but rather that the fetuses are worth less than the sum of their parts. Babies who have been aborted to “save them from being unwanted” by their parents are, conveniently for the humanitarian corporation, highly desirable commodities.
Shh. If You Suspect He’s Religious, Don’t Ask. If He Is, Don’t Tell
This new Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has comes full circle in the military, too. The same service that once barred gays and lesbians from service now punishes chaplains who quote their scripture in dealing with questions of sex outside of traditional marriage. One case didn’t even involve sexual ethics at all; Navy Captain Joe Lawhorn received disciplinary action for explaining how he relies on Scripture to overcome depression, hardly a novel approach for any Christian minister.
“These Mothers Don’t Know”
“It really wore me down,” she said. “The environment, it’s morbid. You can hear screaming. You can hear crying.” While she worked for StemExpress, O’Donnell started her days by reviewing sheets of tissue orders. One such sheet shown in the video listed the need for a liver from a baby at 18 to 22 weeks gestation for UCLA, a 14-week pancreas for the University of Massachusetts, and a 16- to 18-week brain that was “complete but can be in pieces” for Temple University.
Twenty Unnecessary Years
Sadly, for twenty unnecessary years, Israel and God occupied the same house but in an estranged fashion. For twenty unnecessary years, Israel refused the rescue of God and suffered under the domination of the Philistines. For twenty unnecessary years the Ark of the Covenant remained unmoved and there was no mention of a tent or corporate house of worship
Why Is Norman Lear Sounding More Like Archie Bunker?
Civics courses were an early casualty of an educational establishment that increasingly regarded America as the great problem in the world and the fountainhead of all things evil—racism, sexism, and homophobia, not to mention the misuse of the environment, and the killing of Cecil the lion. Formerly, it was thought that there is something distinctive and worth perpetuating about America to which immigrants should conform, but now the traditional metaphor of the “melting pot” is widely seen as repressive of minorities.
When America Put Pastors in Prison
The troubles in Virginia generated a backlash, as Enlightened elites and evangelical Christians alike called for a new era of religious freedom. That reaction birthed the most important statutes regarding religious liberty in American history. Backed by legions of Baptists and other evangelicals, Madison and Jefferson finally secured the adoption of the Bill for Establishing Religious Liberty in 1786, stopping formal support for the Church of England and promising an end to religious persecution. That law was the critical precedent for Madison’s religion clauses in the First Amendment
Scalia Gets It Pretty Much Right
That is exactly what Scalia predicted in his dissent to Lawrence when he responded to the majority’s insistence that its decision had no implications for the issue of gay marriage. “Don’t you believe it,” Scalia retorted. “If moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct is ‘no legitimate state interest’… what justifications can there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples?” He was right, and there is no reason that the logic of his argument should stop there.
7th Shocking Video Catches Planned Parenthood Harvesting Brain of Aborted Baby Who Was Still Alive
You’d think that it couldn’t get any worse than it already is for abortion mill Planned Parenthood (PP), but with each new video released by The Center for Medical Progress, the American people discover yet another heinous procedure being done on human beings for the purpose of “medical research.” Life News has the story:
The pro-life advocates behind the five shocking videos exposing Planned Parenthood selling the body parts of aborted babies for research have released a 6th video today that shows how the abortion business sells body parts of aborted babies without patient consent.
The video features Holly O’Donnell, a licensed phlebotomist who unsuspectingly took a job as a “procurement technician” at the fetal tissue company and biotech start-up StemExpress in late 2012. That’s the company that acts as a middleman and purchases the body parts of aborted babies from Planned Parenthood to sell to research universities and other places.
Two more videos have been released by the Centre for Medical Progress and they keep getting more and more horrific. What Planned Parenthood is getting away with is criminal. They should be shut down immediately and their leaders thrown in prison.
The sixth video documents how women are not even being informed or giving consent about where aborted fetal tissue being supplied to buyers. Holly O’Donnell said that when she came to work each day, she and her StemExpress coworkers had access to Planned Parenthood’s logs and patient records
so they could plan what kinds of “supply” they would be able to procure that day. Even patients coming to the clinic for a simple pregnancy test could be considered part of their agenda for the day. “Pregnancy tests are potential pregnancies, therefore potential specimens,” O’Donnell said. “So it’s just taking advantage of the opportunities.”
O’Donnell described the women she worked with as “cold” and uncaring about the patients who were oftentimes throwing up and crying in the clinics. She said she’s seen women who expressed doubt about having an abortion, and every time a woman would ask her what to do, she’d advise them to run away from the clinic — despite getting in trouble for doing so. “I’m not going to tell a girl to kill her baby so I can get money, and that’s what this company does,” O’Donnell said.
But it is the horrific revelation from the seventh video that is really hard to stomach. It also involves O’Donnell, a former procurement technician at StemExpress. Her story goes as follows:
At Mar Monte’s Alameda clinic in San Jose a co-worker named Jessica brought over the most fully developed baby she had ever seen and said, “I want you to see something kind of cool.” There she saw the “closest thing to a [fully-developed] baby I’ve seen.”
“It had a face. It wasn’t completely torn up,” she said. “Its nose was very pronounced. She has one of her instruments, and she taps the heart, and it starts beating.” “I’m looking at this fetus, and it’s heart is beating,” O’Donnell said in astonishment. “I don’t know if that constitutes it’s technically dead, or it’s alive,” she continued.
Dr. Ben Van Handel, the vice president of Novogenix Laboratories, says on the video “there are times when, after the [abortion] procedure is done, that the heart is still beating.” O’Donnell said that, after showing her the child’s beating heart, Jessica told her, “This is a really good fetus, and it looks like we can procure a lot from it.”
She then asked O’Donnell to remove the baby’s brain with scissors through the baby’s face. “I can’t even describe what that feels like,” O’Donnell said. “That was the moment I knew I couldn’t work for the company anymore…even if it was the cure for some disease.”
Wow. What can anyone say? But we must say something. We must speak out. And many already have been speaking out. Rush Limbaugh could barely control himself on his radio broadcast about this diabolical butchery:
In case I didn’t make myself clear, I… (disgusted sigh) It’s just tough. The point about the latest video from Planned Parenthood is that the brain harvested from the aborted baby was taken while the baby was still alive, folks. That’s why the StemExpress woman is marveling. She’s holding it. She’s holding it in her hand. It’s actually a baby. It’s a baby.
She says (summarized), “It’s a fetus! I can’t believe it. You just tap it and its heart starts beating.” Not for long. (disgusted sigh) Not for long because Planned Parenthood was right there to harvest the brain. It’s just… I don’t know, folks. I just… I don’t know how talk about this anymore. (long pause) As I say, it’s just unspeakable.
Lila Rose, President of Live Action, said this:
Today we learned of another life cut short by Planned Parenthood, a fully formed baby still intact with a heart still beating as technicians carve his little face in order to harvest a brain. It is difficult to even speak of such horror, and yet our nation allows and even funds these atrocities against our weakest children. This little one is among the hundreds of thousands of lives extinguished every year by Planned Parenthood, a corporation that taxpayers are forced to fund with over a half billion dollars a year while the abortion giant harvests, traffics and profits from the illegal sale of baby organs. It is time for people of decency to fully embrace the humanity and dignity of these innocents and demand an end to these barbaric acts of violence and cruelty. It is time to protect women and children by defunding and shutting down the abusive and criminal enterprise that is Planned Parenthood.
And of course all this harvesting, buying and selling of baby parts – and now, even infanticide – is on top of the core business of PP: baby killing. As Becky Yeh writes, some 7 million unborn babies have been slaughtered by PP over the years:
In July of 1970, Planned Parenthood Center of Syracuse became the first free-standing abortion facility in the nation, just one day after New York legalized abortion. That year, Planned Parenthood reported an estimated 100 abortions.
As the passage of abortion legislation dominoed across the country, Planned Parenthood’s abortion numbers spiked the following years, reaching approximately 5,000 in 1973. The Roe v. Wade decision that year paved the way for abortion-on-demand across the country, propelling Planned Parenthood forward as America’s largest abortion chain. In 40-plus years, Margaret Sanger’s corporation grew to become a billion dollar enterprise, killing over 320,000 preborn babies every year.
Based on calculations from 1970, Planned Parenthood has killed over 7 million preborn lives.
And American taxpayers subsidise this appalling baby killing. But, Australians might say, at least we are not paying for this. Yes we are. As Miranda Devine reminds us, “we provide more than $30 million in foreign aid to the international arm of Planned Parenthood, for ‘reproductive health’ activities in the Pacific and Asia.”
She says, “NSW MP Fred Nile wants funding stopped: ‘The Australian Government is aiding the organisation’s unethical, inhumane practice of utilising foetal tissue as a commodity and for monetary gain.’ But the response of the government is just business as usual.”
So we too are involved in all of this. We too are subsidising slaughter on a mass scale. And we too, at least indirectly, are all implicated in taking live babies, slicing open their heads with a scissors, and extracting their brains. You now know.
But the good news is, this is even forcing longstanding pro-aborts to reconsider their position. Consider one such pro-abortion advocate, Ruben Avarrette, writing in the Daily Beast. The title is explosive: “I Don’t Know if I’m Pro-Choice After Planned Parenthood Videos.” He writes:
For the last 30 years, I’ve supported abortion rights. This year may be different.
The only thing I hate more than talking about abortion is writing about it. It’s no accident that, in 2,000 columns over a quarter-century, I have never—ever—written about abortion. I’ve avoided the topic like a root canal.
But that is getting harder to do with the release of what are now five gruesome, albeit edited, undercover videos by The Center for Medical Progress depicting doctors and other top officials of Planned Parenthood discussing, and even laughing about, the harvesting of baby organs, as casually as some folks talk about the weather.
It’s jarring to see doctors acting as negotiators as they dicker over the price of a fetal liver, heart, or brain, and then talk about how they meticulously go to the trouble of not crushing the most valuable body parts. This practice is perfectly legal, and for some people, it is just a business. With millions of abortions each year in America, business is good….
David Daleiden, head of The Center for Medical Progress, issued an unsurprisingly stronger statement: “Planned Parenthood’s system-wide conspiracy to evade the law and make money off of aborted fetal tissue is now undeniable. Anyone who watches these videos knows that Planned Parenthood is engaged in barbaric practices and human rights abuses that must end.”
I agree with that assessment, and I’m pro-choice. At least I thought I was until recently. These days, each time, I express concern, outrage, disgust, or horror over another video—which should come with warnings that they may produce nightmares—some supporter of the organization responds by attacking me and insisting that I was never really pro-choice to begin with.
He concludes: “For those of us who are pro-choice, the Planned Parenthood videos are a game changer. As to whether that means I’ll change my view, I’m not sure. I’m on the bubble. Ask me in a few weeks, after the release of more videos.”
Well, this piece was written a week before the most recent video was released. If he can claim to still be pro-abortion after watching video seven, then he is not a human being, but a heartless piece of stone. So is anyone who can still support baby killing after watching these videos. And at least another five videos are forthcoming.
These videos most certainly are a game changer. They change everything. No civilised society can ever go down this path with a clear conscience again. No one can ever say, “But we didn’t know”. You now know – you now fully know. So what is your response? More business as usual?
Planned Parenthood Whistleblower: Heart of Aborted Fetus Was Still Beating
A whistleblower describes extracting brain tissue from a fetus whose heart was still beating, in a seventh undercover video targeting Planned Parenthood that was released Wednesday morning.
Holly O’Donnell used to help collect aborted fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood clinics as a former lab technician for the California-based biomedical company Stem Express. She appears in past footage released by anti-abortion investigator David Daleiden, and in the latest video, she says she was asked by a colleague named “Jessica” to handle an aborted fetus whose heart was still beating.
Watch video and read more
In 1987, Allan Bloom dropped a cultural bomb on to U.S. intellectual soil with his surprise bestseller, The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students. Bloom (now) famously opened his diatribe against cultural permissiveness and political correctness with the following words:
“There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.”
Fast forward to 2015.
In a cover article titled, “The Coddling of the American Mind,” authors Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt explore how in the name of “emotional well-being” college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like, and seeking punishment of those who give even accidental offense.
In other words, things aren’t just “relative” anymore. “A movement is arising… to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense.”
And, of course, the idea of what causes discomfort or gives offense is highly… relative.
Two terms loom large on today’s campuses: first, “microaggressions.” These are small actions or word choices that “seem on their face to have no malicious intent but that are thought of as a kind of violence nonetheless.”
The second term is “trigger warnings.” This is what a professor is expected to issue “if something in a course might cause a strong emotional response.”
Sound good on the surface?
Keep in mind the “relative” aspect.
During the 2014-2015 school year, the deans and department chairs at the 10 University of California system schools were presented by administrators at faculty leader-training sessions with examples of microaggressions. The list of offensive statements included: “America is the land of opportunity” and “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.”
As Lukainoff and Haidt note, this is beyond political correctness. The ultimate aim, it seems, is to turn campuses into “safe spaces” where “young adults are shielded from words and ideas that make some uncomfortable… [and] this movement seeks to punish anyone who interferes with that aim.”
Ready for another term? Try “vindictive protectiveness.”
In essence, in the name of emotional well-being, students can eliminate anything they do not want to think about, read about, or be challenged about. And penalize those who would expose them to it.
In the name of “offense.”
“Emotional reasoning dominates many campus debates and discussions,” write Lukianoff and Haidt. “A claim that someone’s words are ‘offensive’ is not just an expression of one’s own subjective feeling of offendedness. It is, rather, a public charge that the speaker has done something objectively wrong.”
For example, a student at Indiana University-Purdue read a book titled Notre Dame vs. the Klan, a book which honored student opposition to the Ku Klux Klan when it marched on Notre Dame in 1924. The cover of the book featured a picture of a Klan rally. Despite the book’s actual content, the student was found guilty of racial harassment by the university’s Affirmative Action Office.
Someone was “offended.”
Or consider “Hump Day” at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. Inspired by Wednesday being known as “hump” day in the workweek, students would be allowed to see and pet a camel.
But a group of students created a Facebook group protesting the event for animal cruelty, for being a waste of money, and for being insensitive to people from the Middle East (despite the event being devoid of any reference to Middle Eastern peoples).
The event was canceled because the “program [was] dividing people and would make for an uncomfortable and possible unsafe environment.”
All to say, the “thin argument ‘I’m offended’ becomes an unbeatable trump card.”
This is breeding a generation to “focus on small or accidental slights.” Even more, to then “relabel the people who have made such remarks as aggressors.”
Lukianoff and Haidt rightly opine, “What are we doing to our students if we encourage them to develop extra-thin skin in the years just before they leave the cocoon of adult protection and enter the workforce? Would they not be better prepared to flourish if we taught them to question their own emotional reactions, and to give people the benefit of the doubt? … If students graduate believing that they can learn nothing from people they dislike or from those with whom they disagree, we will have done them a great intellectual disservice.”
They are right.
And it is a closing of the mind that goes beyond anything Bloom would have ever dreamed.
Except in a nightmare.
James Emery White
Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, “The Coddling of the American Mind,” The Atlantic, September 2016, pp. 42-52, read online.
Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students (Simon & Schuster, 1987)
It is believed that up to as much as 30% of the Word of God deals with prophecy. Some has been fulfilled; some has yet to come to pass. Some is for Israel; some is for the Church. And sometimes Biblical prophecy is fulfilled numerous times over numerous generations and situations. God has given us […]
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(The Daily Signal, by Ken McIntyre) Jack Phillips knows he can’t do anything about those who call him a hater. He says he just loves to get up each day to design and make cakes, cookies and brownies to honor God—and to make a living. This year, however, Phillips faces a loss of $100,000 or more […]
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Colo. marijuana legalization taking a toll
Baptist Press reports:
One Colorado “church” is pushing for its mountain town of 1,500 to become the nation’s first “sanctuary” for “therapeutic and spiritual users of cannabis.”
Legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado is taking a toll in heightened social services and employment issues but also may give the church new opportunities to share Christ.
Calling itself “Closer to the Heart Ministry,” the so-called church in Nederland, Colo., celebrates cannabis — the plant that produces marijuana — as mankind’s “tree of life.”
Baptist pastors in Colorado, however, see no safe haven from recreational marijuana’s toll since its legalization on Jan. 1, 2014.
Bombs Found Planted at New Mexico Churches
According to Christian News Network:
Police are searching for clues after bombs were found planted this month outside of three houses of worship in New Mexico.
On August 2, police responded to a call about an explosion at Calvary Baptist Church in Las Cruces, where reportedly a bomb had been wrapped in newspapers and placed into a mailbox that had been bolted to the wall. The force of the explosion ripped the mailbox from the building, throwing it approximately 150 feet.
Kathie Lee Shares Gospel in Tribute to Husband
Kathie Lee Gifford’s tribute to her late husband Frank Gifford is going viral on social media.
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Rev. Graham: “The God of Islam is Not the One True God of the Bible”
CNS News reports:
In reaction to news reports that 26-year-old Kayla Mueller was regularly raped by Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi before being killed, and that Islamists believe the Quran gives them permission to rape and that it pleases God, Christian evangelist Franklin Graham said “the god of Islam is not the one true God of the Bible.”
“Now it has been released that Kayla Mueller, the 26-year-old American aid worker captured by ISIS and killed in February, was repeatedly raped by ISIS top leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and another senior IS member,” said Rev. Graham in an Aug. 15 post on Facebook.
(Breitbart News–by Dr. Susan Barry) The biomedical scientist—who assisted the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) in its preparation to infiltrate Planned Parenthood and expose its practice of harvesting aborted baby parts for sale to biomedical companies—says she suspects that the “babies in some of these cases were alive until their hearts were cut out” for […]
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A controversial St. Charles pastor was sentenced Wednesday to seven years in federal prison and ordered to repay $3.3 million to elderly investors he defrauded in an investment scam.
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24 (KJV)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Don’t ever get involved with any sales and marketing schemes run by a church, any church. Christianity is not a business, and those who would use a congregation to get gain are not acting in accordance with the teachings of the Bible. You cannot successfully mix working for the Lord and working for the world.
Jim Staley, 40, pleaded guilty in April to four counts of wire fraud, admitting that he cheated others while making $570,000 for himself. In court Wednesday, some victims and their relatives called him “sick, manipulative and deceitful” and a “disgusting and sickening criminal.” They said some elderly investors trusted him because of his professed Christian faith and family values, and some because they were slipping into dementia. Officials said none of them was a member of his church.
What is the Hebrew Roots Movement? Click to find out…
Staley began with basement Bible study, incorporated the Passion For Truth Ministries in 2008 and began live-streaming messages in 2009. He has since appeared on multiple Christian TV networks and radio stations nationwide. His church has about 200 local members, and an international following of believers in the “Hebrew Roots Movement,” who advocate adherence to the Old Testament Bible teachings.
Defense lawyer Scott Rosenblum asked the judge for a five-year term. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dianna Collins wanted something within the federal sentencing guidelines of nine to 11¼ years.
In ordering seven years, U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber cited Staley’s solid marriage and home life and his complete lack of a criminal record or any drug or alcohol abuse. But Webber also said Staley showed “very little interest so far in making restitution” and had repeatedly played down his crime.
In a 35-minute video response to critics posted in 2013, Staley insisted, “I was not conning little old ladies out of their money.” After his indictment last year, he blamed investor losses on an economic downturn.
Although he was warned after the guilty plea not to continue denying responsibility, he said in an Aug. 1 sermon that he simply was in “the wrong place at the wrong time” and had not yet been allowed to share his side. “I know the truth and my King knows the truth,” he said.
Because of those statements, Staley lost a credit that federal sentencing guidelines allow for accepting responsibility. He has repaid just $1,950 — a tiny fraction of the restitution owed to victims — despite an annual church salary of $127,000 and free rent in a $1 million house, according to court testimony.
Rosenblum described Staley’s acceptance of responsibility as a “process,” and said that after an epiphany last week, his client stopped parsing words and accepted that he had nefarious intentions at some point.
Holding back tears, Staley, in a blue button-down shirt and jeans, apologized to the court for being overzealous, not doing enough research on the investments and failing to warn investors of possible losses.
He vowed to repay victims, explaining, “My faith requires it.”
Victims and officials have said that Staley promised guaranteed returns, and persuaded some to cash in annuities, knowing it would result in “substantial” sums lost to penalties. They said he falsely claimed that billionaire Warren Buffet was an investor, and that companies were using the investments in their 401k plans.
Prosecutors said he continued to sell the investment — bundled life insurance policies — and recruit salespeople after realizing the product wasn’t selling and after being ordered to stop. He failed to tell investors about a state cease-and-desist order.
Staley worked as a sales agent for a California company named B&B Equity Group. Other agents and those who recruited them faced criminal investigations elsewhere.
Asked if it appeared that Staley truly accepted responsibility, Collins quoted an earlier statement by Rosenblum about some who put on different faces for different people. “That might just be the face that Staley put on today,” she said.
After the hearing, the daughter of a man who lost $155,000 said she thought Staley’s apology was “staged” for church members. Dozens of them showed up to support Staley — so many that spectators were sitting in the courtroom’s jury box and some were forced to stand. source
With one very small edit (for clarity), below are the chapter headings for 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, presently on sale for only $1.99 (Kindle). Though not an overtly Christian book, the author does speak of how her faith in God helped her through the sudden loss of her mother and then, soon after, her 27-year-old husband.
Read it through the lens of Scripture to weed out anything contrary to Scripture, to identify principles and guidance that are consistent with Scripture (see chapter headings below), and to have these principles explained in more detail.
It’s on that latter point that I found the book most helpful. Many of these 13 strategies are biblical. But the Bible doesn’t give us all the detail about how to argue ourselves out of self-pity, how to set boundaries, etc. That’s where this book excels. Read it with Biblical spectacles, add spiritual analysis, spiritual motivation, and spiritual empowerment, and you have a God-designed package that combines the best of God’s special grace with the best of His common grace. As Jay Adams wrote (in a paragraph that I wish was more consistently applied in the rest of his writing):
I do not wish to disregard science, but rather I welcome it as a useful adjunct for the purposes of illustrating, filling in generalizations with specifics, and challenging wrong human interpretations of Scripture, thereby forcing the student to restudy the Scriptures (Competent to Counsel, 1970, xxi).
It’s not a book just for those who are feeling mentally weak; it’s also for those who want to improve their mental strength and to prepare for times when their resilience will be sorely tested. It will also help you minister to people who are struggling in these areas. Here are the chapter headings:
1. They don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves.
2. They don’t allow everyone else to set their boundaries and expectations.
3. They don’t shy away from change.
4. They don’t focus on things they can’t control.
5. They don’t worry about pleasing everyone.
6. They don’t fear taking calculated risks.
7. They don’t dwell on the past.
8. They don’t make the same mistakes over and over.
9. They don’t resent other people’s success.
10. They don’t give up after the first failure.
11. They don’t fear alone time.
12. They don’t feel the world owes them anything.
13. They don’t expect immediate results.
13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin.
If joy in Christ is so important in Philippians, what about joy in people? Is that a compromise? Is it good? Well, you can’t read this letter and not
see Paul exulting in his relationship with the Philippians.
He sets the stage in Philippians 1:3–5, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” When these believers come to his mind, joy happens and prayer overflows. And he says it’s because of their partnership with him in the gospel.
Partnership implies a wonderful linking of lives with other flesh and blood human beings for the sake of the gospel. Paul always links his joy in people with his joy in Christ. Some people, non-Christians and even Christians, do not feel loved when you describe your joy in them that way. Why is that? We’ll come back to that question.
Complete My Joy
Philippians 2:2 says, “Complete my joy.” Think about that. Paul is saying this to people: You complete my joy by having the same mind and the same love, not doing anything from rivalry, but rather counting others more significant than yourselves. Don’t only concern yourself with your own interests, but also with the interests of others. Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.
So how will the Philippians complete Paul’s joy? By their unified desire to serve others the way Christ serves us. He links their giving him joy with their having the mind of Christ, which is the way he thinks all over the place. It’s precisely because Christ is being formed in them that he has such overflowing joy in them.
Another example is Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:29. Paul sends Epaphroditus back to the Philippians. Epaphroditus had brought a gift from them to Paul, and Paul is sending Epaphroditus back, probably carrying this letter. Paul writes, “Receive him in the Lord with all joy.” In other words, let the coming of this person you love make you happy. Receive him with all joy.
He goes on to say, “Honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ.” There it is again. Honor — take and express joy in — kind of men? Men who love the gospel so much, love Christ so much, that they are wiling to risk their lives for him. This is not just abstract joy in a friend. It is joy that is rooted most deeply in that friend’s being the kind of person who lays down his life for the gospel.
My Joy and Crown
Philippians 4:1 says, “Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown.” Paul calls the Philippians his joy. You are my joy, my crown. What does that mean? In what way are they the crown of Paul’s life and the joy of Paul’s life? I think the answer is given back in Philippians 2:16, “[Hold] fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.” In other words, if you will hold fast to Christ, if you will hold fast to the word of Christ, then we will arrive together in the presence of Christ. Your whole faith, your whole life — delighting in Christ and following Christ and living a life worthy of the gospel — will be my joy and my crown. You will be the living evidence that my life succeeded in pointing you to Christ and the value of his Word. And that will be my joy.
One last text. Philippians 4:10 says, “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me.” You are making me glad. You have remembered me. You have revived your concern. And you have sent Epaphroditus and brought me gifts. And I am thrilled. And then in Philippians 4:17 he steps back and says, “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.” In other words, ultimately what was making him glad as he saw the revived concern that they had for him was that they were not just offering something to him, they were offering something to God.
The Great Fountain of Love
Every time Paul refers to his joy in his friends, he also refers to his joy in Christ as necessarily connected with it. His delight in other people is coming out of his delight in Christ, and it is aiming at their deeper and greater delight in Christ.
So what if someone will say: “I don’t feel loved when you talk that way. I feel used when you talk that way.” Why would a person say that? Paul says: “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). For Paul, the greatest happiness resides in seeing, knowing, relating to the greatest person in the universe, Jesus Christ. He believes Christ alone is all-satisfying. And so that is what he wants for other people, as well.
What if a person doesn’t share that value? Christ is not precious to them above their own life or above their family or above their things. They hear you talking like your love for them is coming from your love for him, and your love for them wants them to know that. But they don’t believe in that. They cannot experience that as love, because what they want is for you to make much of them.
That person may say to you: I think Christianity has made you an unloving person. That makes total sense inside of their worldview. It does. And it’s a false worldview. It is a worldview without Philippians 3:8. When that happens, you have to take a deep breath, be patient, and realize they can’t see it any other way. They can’t feel it any other way, because they can’t make sense out of a Christ-centered love, because they are not Christ-centered. At least not yet.
So let us treasure Jesus Christ above all things, and let us enjoy each other and serve each other toward that great end.
This video is the fifth of a six-part series on the theme of joy in the book of Philippi-ans. John Piper walks us through a short study of how to understand joy, pursue it for ourselves, and then apply it in all of life. Here are the other videos in the series:
Part 1: How Do You Define Joy?
Part 2: What Is Christian Hedonism?
Part 3: What Is the Secret of Joy in Suffering?
Part 4: Do We Have to Enjoy God to Believe?
Part 5: How Does Joy Overflow in Love?
Part 6: Does Joy Die in Sorrow? (August 27)
is a word for which we should keep as strictly-defined a definition as possible, straying only under duress. The apostolic definition is lawlessness
(1 John 3:4
; cf. Romans 5:13
). The definition from Piper’s Baptist catechism
also works: “Sin is transgression of the revealed will of God which teaches that we are to act in perfect holiness from a heart of faith to the glory of God.”
The Bible is really serious about this. How serious? Well, think of someone who really, really sinned badly against people — sexually used one, had another killed, betrayed the trust of scores and hundreds. Of course, you know I am thinking of King David. And you know right where I’m going, to his head-scratching confession in Psalm 51:4 — “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” On the face of it, this is simply an absurd statement. “You only”? What of Bathsheba? What of his own wife/wives? What of Uriah?
Yet David knew the truth that most deeply offends atheists, humanists, everyone who’s bought the big lie: sin is only sin because God defines it as sin. Sin is sin because God says it is sin. Spouse betraying spouse, children failing to honor parents, neighbor slandering or robbing neighbor — all these are sins because God says they are sins.
Apart from God, there would be no sin. All sin is, in the final analysis, against God; for without God there would be no sin. And so, as I have heard D. A. Carson say well more than once, in all sin, God is the primary offended party.
Back to the notion of forgiving yourself. It simply is faddish, man-exalting nonsense to speak of forgiving yourself. In your sin, you aren’t the wronged party. If you (or I) really think that it is meaningful to speak of forgiving ourselves for our sins, then I don’t think we’ve got that whole repentance thing straight. It isn’t our own forgiveness which we need. It is, of course, God’s forgiveness, a forgiveness that cost the Son of God His lifeblood (Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:13-14, 22; 10:4).
It is only meaningful to speak of forgiveness of ourselves, then (A) by God, (B) of sin (C) against God, extended to us only (D) because of the shed blood of Christ, through whom alone we can find forgiveness. Secondarily, it is meaningful to speak of horizontal forgiveness of people upon repentance (that is not the focus of this post; but I can recommend a great book on the subject). But we know that God does command us to repent of our wrongs against others, to pursue restitution for those wrongs. We do those things because God calls us to do them. He defines my sin against my brother, He calls me to repent and pursue restitution and reconciliation (and commands me to forgive those who repent of sins against me). It’s still all about God, and it’s a subject of direct Biblical teaching.
Forgiving myself, however? Never. Biblically meaningless at best.
I can still remember sitting with my last baby in the hospital, comfortably secure in the space between the energized adrenalin of post-birth and the life awaiting at home. By this time, I knew what to expect in terms of the family adjustment to come.
There would be the sad and displaced former-youngest, needing plenty of one-on-one time. The older kids to reign in in terms of discipline. There would be the normal marital adjustments. There would be a need for greater flexibility in terms of routine and schedule. There would be many little changes necessary to every aspect of our lives, and it was all these things I looked ahead to as I sat cradling Will, enjoying this last experience of becoming a mom—again.
But what evaded my forward glance was a shocking but painful reality awaiting: I would not be the mother of my dreams.
“Perfect Mother” was out of the question. My blotted record had shown me that already. But maybe “Good Mother” could be enough for my little ones.
For no sooner had I cut the hospital bracelets off my wrists upon returning home than I was awakened to the imperfection and limitations of this new life I had created. The baby was gassy and fussy. The toddler remained high-spirited as ever, her high energy no match for my low supply. The older kids lived in a cycle of school and after-school activities, none of which seemed to mesh with my new sleep schedule—three hours here, one hour there. I became discouraged quickly and realized that I was going to have to employ a new parenting strategy to survive.
“Perfect Mother” was out of the question. My blotted record had shown me that already. But maybe “Good Mother” could be enough for my little ones.
The months following Will’s arrival were marked by pain as God began to strip away my perfectionism slowly, day by challenging day. But they were also months marked by great grace as He began to free me from the exhaustion of unrealistic expectations. Throughout there were countless truths that became clearer with each unrealized goal, each interrupted plan.
Get the Source of Perfection Right
He has accomplished perfection on our behalf, emptying our lives of the need to strive for what cannot be humanly had.
There is only one ultimate root of perfection, and it is found in the person of Christ. Hebrews directs us to fix our eyes on Christ, who is the author and perfecter of our faith (12:2). Christ alone lived a perfect life, ultimately dying in our place so that we could stand before God faultless. Faultless! No longer guilty of the imperfection and sin that stains our every day. He has accomplished perfection on our behalf, emptying our lives of the need to strive for what cannot be humanly had. This is unparalleled news for mothers. Your limitation is covered at the cross!
Focus on Perfect Promises
God is a God of promises. He makes them, and He promises not to break them once He has committed. Scripture teaches us that God is with us when our yoke is heavy (Matt. 11:29). It promises that God generously gives us wisdom when we ask for it (James 1:5). To be unfamiliar with God’s promises is to face the day without armor, emptied of strength. Know His perfect promises, and you will surely see them manifest in your life, day after challenging day.
Focus on Your Strengths
Know your passions, as they are likely your strengths. There are the crafty moms and the serving moms. The academic moms and the organized room moms. There are the ministry moms and the soccer moms.
To be unfamiliar with God’s promises is to face the day without armor, emptied of strength.
We will all be one of the types, but none of us will be all of the types. The surest means of burnout is to try and be all moms in one. Each of us is uniquely gifted by God to be who He has made us to be, and within the framework of motherhood this allows for great freedom of expression and individuality. Be you, and enjoy it!
Lower Your Expectations
This is the white flag of surrender to perfectionist moms. But it is necessary to daily lay down false expectations for our reality, or we will become oh-so-weary so very quickly. It has been my experience that roughly half or less of all my mothering goals are realized, and after twelve years in, this seems to be a rule, not an exception. Though this flawed record can discourage me at times, I try to accept that my desires will always supersede the realities of mom-life.
In his book No Little People, Francis Schaeffer warns against the fight toward perfection when he states, “If we insist on perfection or nothing, we get nothing every time.” There is a piece of me that would love to claim the title of “Perfect Mom,” and I am sure that you would, too. It would be such an honor, such a crown. But since “perfect” is well beyond our grasp, why not strive for “Good Mom”? I am.
And truthfully, life has been much more enjoyable on the other side of perfect.
By Chuck Lawless
Several times in my teaching career, I’ve asked graduate students to give me descriptions of the worst teachers they’ve had. During those same years, I’ve watched leaders, discussed leadership, and read leadership books to learn characteristics of good and bad leaders. Perhaps not surprisingly, I’ve seen that some of the characteristics of bad teachers and bad leaders are the same.
- They don’t communicate well. Sometimes they just don’t communicate; they expect others to read their mind and meet their unstated expectations. At other times, they are simply boring when they do try to communicate.
- They make others feel dumb. They don’t miss many opportunities to point out when others are wrong. Nor do they miss a chance to show others how much they know. Eventually, no one speaks up around them – and the worst teachers and leaders are too unaware to recognize they are often the problem.
- They’re disorganized. Maybe they’re just so busy that it’s hard to stay on top of everything, or maybe they’re just plain disorganized. Either way, they usually can’t figure out why others struggle with following their unclear – and often changing – directions.
- They’re disconnected. Many are the students and staff members who are frustrated by teachers and leaders who are nowhere to be found. When the teacher or leader fails to build relationships, those he teaches or leads become means to an end – not people created in the image of God.
- They’re lazy. It’s clear from their lack of passion that they lost their focus and energy years ago. They know nothing new, and their teaching/leading has not changed in decades. They may think others don’t realize they’re just “going through the motions,” but they’re kidding no one.
- They are arrogant. You know what this trait looks like, even in Christian organizations. These teachers and leaders always talk about themselves. Any sense of humility seems to be forced; in fact, others see it as only another way to point out how good they are.
- They’re critical. Not only do they criticize others, but even more importantly, they almost never praise others. The only time you hear from them is when they want to correct something.
- They don’t know what they’re talking about. Some teachers don’t know their material well, and some leaders don’t know their field well. In some cases, both have been given their positions for some reason other than their know-how – and it’s obvious.
- They don’t enjoy their work. People who spend time with them learn quickly that they have no joy in their day-to-day tasks. Their smiles are forced and their laughter is infrequent.
- Their Christian walk is debatable. That is, some who know them best question the depth of their walk with God – primarily because the leaders they are in public are not always the people they are in private. Needless to say, this problem is, among all these listed here, the most serious one for Christian teachers and leaders.
Recognizing that all of us probably show some of these characteristics at times, what other characteristics would you add to this list?
Be sure to check out Dr. Lawless’ daily blog posts at http://www.chucklawless.com. Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on both Twitter and Facebook.
The post 10 Descriptors of Bad Teachers and Bad Leaders appeared first on ThomRainer.com.
New Research: Divorce Divides More Than Just Families | Ed Stetzer
“Pastors are divided about when divorce is sinful and whether or not they would perform the wedding of someone who is divorced.”
The 7th Planned Parenthood Video | Justin Taylor
Nooooooooooo! Long time since my whole being shuddered. I couldn’t get past 6.30.
How Should our Churches Deal with the After Effects of Abortion? | 20 Schemes: Sharon Dickens
“Scotland has the second highest percentage of teenage abortions in the world (Cuba being the highest).”
Recover and Redemption after a Failed Adoption | Biblical Counseling Coalition: Joshua Waulk
A failed adoption presents the Christian family with an emotional trauma that is at once a crisis of faith and an opportunity for the gospel to expand the borders of belief.
Faithfulness in College is Life-Wide | TGC: Stephen Lutz
“In order for academic work to glorify God we have to see it as a high calling, but not the be-all, end-all.”
What is Cage-Stage Calvinism? And what causes it? | R C Sproul Jr.
“Cage-Stage describes an all too common phenomenon wherein a believer comes to embrace the doctrines of grace, and for a time becomes an obnoxious lout in defending the doctrines to all comers, whether they are interested or not. It suggests that such a newbie should spend some time in a cage until they calm down. If you are a Calvinist you likely have been through this stage. If you are not, you surely have encountered those who were infected.”
How To Get Useful Feedback: A Speaker’s Guide
Let’s start with three truths about feedback:
- Most of the feedback you receive as a speaker is not very useful.
- Useful feedback is hard to find and uncomfortable to receive.
- To reach your potential as a speaker, you require substantial feedback.
Why People Hate Making Phone Calls | The Atlantic”
“Don’t hate the phone call, hate the phone.”
The Town That Decided to Send All Its Kids to College | The Atlantic
“The Baldwin Promise is more than just $5,000 a year for four years of college. It brought with it a complete change in how the town viewed education. Just as elementary school and middle school were in Baldwin, college was a right for everyone.” As long as it doesn’t become “College is right for everyone.”
Here are some Kindle deals: Hebrews in The New American Commentary series ($2.99); Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace ($0.99); One Race One Blood by Ken Ham ($2.99); Sermon on the Mount by Charles Quarles ($2.99); The Ten Commandments by Mark Rooker ($2.99).
Tom Ascol offers some thoughtful reflections on Donald Trump. “In some sense it is like a car accident—you just can’t look away no matter how hard you try.” Be sure to read the final lines before flaming Ascol (or me).
Do we have guardian angels? “While many other objections may be raised … of this much we can be sure–God will not spare to send the entire host of heaven to the aid of His people if He so chooses.”
I think Christine Hoover is bang-on here: “As a mother, there is a constant, uncomfortable battle that rages inside of me. It is not the big or dramatic…”
This week’s deals from Westminster Books will help equip your evangelistic efforts (as an individual or as a church).
This Day in 1920: Seven men, including the now-legendary Jim Thorpe, gathered to organize a professional football league. Has ever a sport had a greater impact on Christians and (American) Christianity than football with its Sunday schedule? *
Is God for us or against us? Ray Ortlund says, “If we are in Christ, the answer is: maybe both. God is certainly for us, and God might also be against us.”
Here’s WORLD’s recap of the new and 7th video in the series exposing Planned Parenthood. (Stand to Reason also has a good article on the matter.)
Today we are visiting dear friends who are expecting another child any day now. The contrast between a loving, Christian home with a father and mother eagerly awaiting their gift from God, with young siblings anticipating excitedly the arrival, and the callous disregard of the unborn that our culture exhibits could not be more stark.
The sixth and seventh videos of the Center for Medical Progress may be the most chilling yet, but not for what they show visually. Rather, Holly McDonnell, who unsuspectingly took a position as a “procurement technician” for a fetal tissue company, tells of one of her experiences. No adjective is strong enough to describe the atrocities she recounts here.
For a commentary on what these videos are telling us about us, see Douglas Wilson’s article Not What Scissors Are For. Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse Holly and us.
The latest Planned Parenthood video is so evil I’m having trouble handling it.
A former StemExpress tech tells of her supervisor playfully making an aborted baby’s heart start beating again. Of having to cut the baby’s face open in order to get the prized brain ordered by researchers. Was the heart still beating when they did that? Maybe. It’s unclear. Thankfully, there’s no video of either of these things. But you do see a live baby moving on a tray, and that’s enough.
Or, at least, it should be enough.
I can’t stop thinking about the people doing these jobs day in and day out. And of those who watch the videos and either yawn or continue to defend Planned Parenthood. And of how entwined this industry is with the medical community. I just heard that parents who go through IVF can sign a consent form to donate their leftover embryonic children to research. Now that I’ve seen what Planned Parenthood is doing, I can’t help but think: Are IVF doctors getting compensated by researches for providing them with embryonic human beings? Are they pushing parents to create more children so they’ll be able to provide researchers with more and get more benefits in return? This doesn’t seem like an outlandish speculation anymore. There’s money to be had selling human beings.
How far does this go? How much of our entire society is connected to this barbarity? What are we letting happen all around us, every day?
It’s a horror to realize what I should have always known to be true: There was no special evil in Nazi Germany. The human heart is evil. Either the norms of a society keep the evil human heart in check, or they give permission for that evil to be unleashed. But it’s there. In every society. Waiting.
The doctors in the Planned Parenthood videos seem like normal people because they are normal people. It’s normal for human beings to take their cues about proper behavior from the people around them. Everyone around you is cutting babies’ faces off like it’s no different morally from using the copy machine? Well then, it must be normal and okay! How did people shuffle papers for Nazis in thousands of offices? This is how. This is how an entire culture loses its ability to see the evil right in front of its nose. All it sees are regular people, working in ordinary offices, doing something everybody knows about, and surely something so commonplace couldn’t be evil, right? Meanwhile, the evil spreads its tentacles into multiple areas of life (economics, medicine, etc.) until we’re convinced we can’t manage without it. We have so many reasons to keep it around, you see. Like slavery.
We need to rip this evil out of the fabric of our society. Because it’s so intertwined with our way of life, it may rip some things we’ve come to regard as comforts out with it. We may lose some opportunities for research. We may have more children than we were expecting. We may have less control over designing our dream lives. But take a step back for one minute and look at the baby moving on the tray. Look at it! This is the moral cost of those “comforts,” and it is dark and ugly evil. I pray we are not yet too far gone to see it.
Prayer is vital for the fight to be more like Jesus. In this lab, John Piper looks at prayer in the Bible that models the pursuit of purity. All of our effort in the pursuit of purity and holiness rests on the power and favor of God to guard us from evil.
Dear Mother – “I love and care for you. I do not write this letter out of hate for you. I write this with compassion. There is too much at stake concerning this matter than to just stand on the fringes and not take any action. I want to protect you from the emotional, physical, and spiritual scarring that many woman have experienced. I write this letter with words not drawn from the well of human subjectivity or rationalism, but it comes from the profundity of God’s Word. They are the words of God that reveals who we are before our Holy Maker. We do not deserve to live, but in His grace, He has preserved our heartbeat. His truth has the power to provide peace and tranquility. But the words of the world that are anchored in lies brings a melancholy spirit that causes the soul to cleave to the dust. The lies of the world destroys lives because it comes from the father of lies, who is Satan. At this moment, he is one of the agents who provides the weapons of death to the medical killers.”
How the apostate church defends abortion – “In this piece Lee Duigon, contributing editor with the Chalcedon Foundation, addresses the left’s fabrication that abortion mill Planned Parenthood is ‘doing God’s work.’ Duigon isn’t buying it, He says scornfully: ‘As if God’s work were to kill babies in the womb and auction their organs. Can you say blasphemy’?”
A Public Service Announcement Regarding Goshen and EMU – “So, at the ‘convenient’ time when the US legalized same-sex marriage across all 50 states, two Mennonite Church USA schools were prepped and ready to flee biblical fidelity. The US supreme court ruled in favor of Obergefell v. Hodges on June 26, 2015. Eastern Mennonite University released there newly revised ‘Non-Discrimination Statement‘ on July 16, 2015, and Goshen College released theirs two days later.”
Christians Evangelizing For Secularism – “There’s a growing list of contexts in which many people think we should say little or nothing about God. Think of the radical redefining of separation of church and state and religious liberty in recent decades and the reaction to the intelligent design movement, for example. It’s often considered too divisive, embarrassing, or whatever to bring up religious matters in school, in the workplace, in the media, or at family gatherings. The more that mindset is adopted in some settings, the more it tends to grow in others.”
Easy Pickings for Satan? – “By every measurable standard it is clear that Biblical Christianity in America is on the decline and in a growing state of crisis. Youth, being heavily influenced by a public education system increasingly hostile toward God, are leaving the faith in record numbers. And many professing Christians do not understand, or disagree with, basic tenets of Biblical Christianity.”
Ken Fryer – The Biblical Qualifications of Church Leaders (Titus 1:3-9)
AUDACITY (Full Movie) – Ray Comfort
3 Minutes to Live
“All death can do to the believer is deliver him to Jesus. It brings us into the eternal presence of our Savior.” – John MacArthur
The post The Daily Discovery (August 20, 2015) appeared first on Entreating Favor.
Christian Headlines Daily – Thursday, August 20, 2015
Josh Duggar Exposed as Ashley Madison Client
Christianity Growing Among China’s Well-Educated
John Stonestreet Named President of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview
‘Megareverend’ John Oliver Trolls Televangelists with New Tax-exempt Church
Christian Converts Beaten and Arrested During Iranian House Church Raid
Danny Lotz, Husband of Anne Graham Lotz, Has Died
Ted Cruz Says Evangelical Americans Should be More Involved in Politics
Museum of the Bible Allies with Israeli Antiquities Agency
Why Franklin Graham’s Salary Raises Eyebrows among Christian Nonprofits
70-year-old World War II Prayer Book is Returned to Widow of Veteran
Archaeology Gives Insights into Jesus’ Hometown
Batman Dies in Car Crash
When ‘Discernment’ Leads to Disaster
Trigger Warning! The Bible May Disturb Your Emotional Health
Sexual Revolution Versus the Gospel
READING: Habakkuk 1-3
TEXTS AND APPLICATION: Today’s reading covers the entire book of Habakkuk. At the end of the book are these words that express the prophet’s confidence in God:
Hab. 3:17-18 Though the fig tree does not bud and there is no fruit on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will triumph in Yahweh; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!
The Babylonians would be increasing their empire as they invaded Judah, but Habakkuk knew that God would then in turn bring judgment on the invading armies. The prophet’s role in the meantime was to “quietly wait for the day of distress to come against the people invading us” (Hab. 3:16). God would indeed bring His judgment — but He would do it in His timing.
So, Habakkuk had learned that he could trust God even if everything were messed up — even if the trees produced no buds and the fields produced no food. If nothing went right, still Habakkuk could rely on God. But, not only could he trust God, but he would also rejoice in God.
Rejoicing in God is seldom easy when the bottom drops out beneath us. Rejoicing may not be easy, but still it’s necessary. He is worthy of our worship whether we find ourselves at the top of the mountain or at the bottom of the valley. Rejoicing in the toughest times might, in fact, be one of the strongest witnesses we have.
PRAYER: “God, I don’t know what today will bring. It could bring disaster. If it does, grant me grace to rejoice in You anyway.”
Only Two Religions!
I don’t know if you know this but there are only two religions in the entire world.
You might say I’m nuts. There are hundreds if not thousands!
But there is one religion that likes to put on hundreds if not thousands of different masks on, and so ultimately there are only two: the religion of Human Achievement and the religion of Divine Accomplishment.
You see Islam, Mormonism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Judaism and every single religion that you have ever heard of, ultimately teaches some form of a works-based salvation. They say that you have to be a little more good than bad in order to make it to heaven. These religions encourage you to hand God a resume when you face Him one day. The resume will be filled with all your accomplishments. It will list everything you’ve done for other people, every penny you’ve given to charity and every good deed you’ve done. God will look over this resume and say, “Good job! You’ve made it into heaven”.
The problem is that if you were to enter into heaven because of a resume based on your accomplishments God would get no glory; you would be the one who gets all the praise. In fact, Ephesians 2:9 would say that salvation is not of works lest you should boast! Genesis chapter one shows us that God created the entire universe including you. Everything He created is designed to bring Him glory. The problem is that sin has entered the world, and from birth we all have replaced exalting God with exalting ourselves. Everything we do from birth is geared towards bringing us glory and bringing praise to ourselves. We all have a throne in our hearts that God should be sitting and reigning on, but instead we are born with ourselves sitting on it. We are so used to it we don’t even notice it to the point where we all think that our resumes are good enough to get us into heaven.
Of course we are going to think that we are good people! Of course my mom is going to tell me I’m a good person! But what does your Creator think? He says in Romans 3:23 that we all have sinned and fall short of His glory. He also says in Romans 6:23 that the wages of sin is death. So if we stand before God and start listing accomplishments or hand Him a resume we might as well slap Jesus in the face because God is going to look at the resume and say, “I killed my only Son because you were not good enough to get to me!”
And that’s where the only other religion comes in.
The religion of Divine Accomplishment. God saw your situation, and decided that since man was so sinful and could not save himself, that He would come Himself and take the form of a man. He humbled himself, spent nine months in a womb he created, grew up with every temptation you and I face every day, but without sinning. He then died on the cross for our sins, and then rose from the dead and defeated death. He made it possible for human beings to stand before God one day and not hand Him a resume and condemn themselves further, but rather, tell God that they deserve His wrath but have placed their faith and trust in the work that Jesus did on their behalf on the cross and through His resurrection.
You see we need someone to be a substitute for us because no matter how hard we try, we can never bridge the gap between God and us. And the substitute can’t be merely a human. It must be God Himself.
Do you see the difference between Christianity and every other religion?
The Greatest Story Ever Told
God’s goal in all of His creative and redemptive work is to bring glory to Himself (Isa 43:7; cf. Eph 1:6, 12, 14).
What is The Gospel?
CanIKnowGod.com is a website inspired by LifesGreatestQuestion.com, with new content, images, audio and video that will help you understand more about who God is and how to know Him. The site is mobile responsive and has an infinite scroll which makes for a very user-friendly experience. After you indicate a decision on CanIKnowGod.com, you are directed to a page that details what it means to have a new and transformed life through Jesus Christ. There’s even a Facebook page for daily updates, encouragement and scripture sharing.
“My Last Day” — the Jesus Anime
9 powerful minutes of animation that begins with a thief behind bars watching the scourging of Jesus, and it ends with the thief dying next to Jesus, and waking to see Him in a beautiful place.
The dying thief: What was so great about his faith?
There are many acts of extraordinary faith in the Bible. The one that has impressed me the most concerns the dying thief on the cross. We could take the approach that he had nothing to lose, so he decided to cast his lot with Jesus. But this makes absolutely no sense of the text and the context.
In this conversion we have a specific fulfillment of Christ’s first words on the cross. No sooner had Christ spoken the words, “Father, forgive them,” had the Father answered that prayer by turning a once-reviling criminal into a Christ-glorifying saint. While the soon-to-be converted criminal was not directly responsible for Christ’s death, he nevertheless joined with those who were and was thus indirectly addressed when Christ asked for God to forgive “them.”
Christ, the sinless one, was numbered with or counted among the transgressors (Isa. 53:12; Luke 22:37), all of whom have a bigger problem than the day-to-day sins they commit. They hate Christ, the God-man. Anyone who has a master other than the Lord Jesus hates him (Lk. 16:13; Gal. 4:8). That these two criminals loathed him is clearly manifested during the crucifixion: “And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way” (Matt. 27:44).
When the criminal who was converted was doing his worst against Christ, Christ was doing his best for this criminal.
The conversion of the one criminal was most extraordinary and testifies to the power of Christ’s prayer and the grace of God. Why?
This criminal’s faith did not come at a time such as when Christ turned water into wine; or performed miracles, such as walking on water, opening the eyes of a blind man, or raising Lazarus from the dead. No! The criminal believed on the Messiah while he was hanging as one cursed upon a tree. The criminal trusted in and boldly defended the one whose disciples had abandoned him. Jesus was at his lowest when this criminal asked to be remembered in Christ’s kingdom.
When he was on the cross, did anyone publicly cry out, as John the Baptist did, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn. 1:29)? But this is essentially what the dying thief did. Little wonder, then, that Christ should promise him a place in his kingdom: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk. 23:43).
The criminal acknowledged he was guilty; he acknowledged that Christ was not (“this man has done nothing wrong”); he feared God; but, and here is the key: the criminal did not merely want to be in a better place. He wanted to be with Christ in a better place: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Lk. 23:42). The criminal believed “against all hope”.
Heaven is a better place because that is where Christ is. Everyone wants to go to heaven, but not everyone wants to go to Christ’s heaven. Not so with this criminal: he saw, with his eyes, Christ at his worst; but with the eyes of faith, he believed that Christ would soon be at his best, and so put his faith in a dying king.
Christ is always – always! – willing to save even the most miserable of sinners. A recognition of guilt (Lk. 23:40) and a confidence in him and not ourselves (Lk. 23:42) will always lead to the most assuring truth a sinner can receive: the Savior welcomes such into his paradise!
“One is saved, and we may not despair; the other is lost, and we may not presume.” Spurgeon
Our Time is Short
Read: Recommitting Your Life To God and Jesus Christ – Restoration and Forgiveness With God and Jesus Christ (Updated Version)
Ready to start your new life with God?
Who do you think that I am?
With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.
Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.
Consider what the Bible says about Him: Read more
Look to Jesus
Have you ever felt a little lost and wished there was a quick-start guide to your relationship with God? This is it!
30 Day Next Steps
John Beckett, a leading Christian businessman, has written a series to read over 30 days for new believers.
New Believers Guide
The New Believer’s Guide is a series of articles designed to show you how to walk in the new life Christ has given you— a life of faith and freedom.
Jesus is the Savior of the world. Discover who Jesus is today in this series.
Know Jesus Christ and your life will be transformed
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