18 August 2017

This 'n' That

Summoning two of his disciples, John sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” (Luke 7:19)
Standing on this side of the cross, most of us of Gentile origin, we may easily overlook this bold question set forth by the disciples of John the Baptist.

"Are You the Expected One?"

The Expected One. What a name! Those Jews who knew and trusted their Scriptures (known to us as the Old Testament) were confident that there was a Messiah coming, because the LORD had declared this in no uncertain terms in His holy Word. Sadly, today there are still many who are waiting for the Expected One, for they are too blind to see that He has already come and is indeed coming again (Hebrews 9:28).

The Expected One. How could anyone miss it? How could anyone not see that Jesus was the Messiah? How good of our Lord to explain to the disciples on the road to Emmaus everything within the Scriptures concerning Himself (Luke 24:27)!

The Expected One. So many waited expectantly for His first coming. Today, we wait expectantly for His second coming, when justice will prevail and His children will be with Him forever. Are you eagerly awaiting His return?

Well, it would be fantastic if Christ would return right now, wouldn't it? Since that may not happen, why not wait while enjoying your week in review (kind of):

11 August 2017

This 'n' That

Use it as a vase today,
serve lemonade in it tomorrow!
I remember a pre-Pinterest world. I remember when people had opinions, likes, and dislikes, and decorated their homes accordingly. Sure, there were trends and fads, but if you didn't like chickens, then you didn't decorate your kitchen with chickens. It was that simple. No one judged you; no one cared. But now, if you don't decorate according to the latest Pinterest fad, well, clearly there must be something wrong with you. Don't like burlap and mason jars? Too bad. It's popular and it's on Pinterest, ergo, you must conform. (For the record, I have nothing against mason jars. It's just...they are everywhere.)

Well, this may help date your pictures to precisely the month and year they were taken, and your  home may always be up to date with the latest kitschy trinkets, but is it an enjoyable place to live? Some of my fondest memories are stirred when I sift through old treasures and find something that I remember sitting on our coffee table, or in our curio cabinet, not just for months until the next trendy wave came through, but for years. And it remained there so long because it meant something. It had sentimental value. It belonged to my mother, or my grandmother, or to my mother's grandmother. Those decorative items had a story behind them—stories I loved to hear and stories I still remember.

I often wonder if children today will be able to enjoy similar memories, or will their thoughts of their childhood home be empty and Pinterest-ified? To each his own, I guess, but I am thankful to have grown up in a Pinterest-free world.

It's easy to get caught up in the latest fads, whether it is clothing, furniture, cars, or decorating ideas. How many of us will find in a year or two that our "distressed" furniture now just looks, well, old and outdated?

Perhaps the saddest fad of all, though, is the fad of evangelicalism. There is no doubt that, in many parts of America, it is trendy to call yourself a Christian. It's cool to be #blessed and many eagerly hop on the bandwagon. Unfortunately, the bandwagon they are boarding is one of a false faith. It's supported by wobbly, damning doctrine and will not withstand the fires of persecution, which will indeed come. So how does the true Church respond? With the gospel. With the message of mercy and forgiveness found in Jesus Christ alone. We respond with the truth and let God take it from there.

Speaking of home decorating fads, I'm thinking about bringing back wall stenciling (just kidding). Now before you go de-Pinterest your home, why not first take a few moments to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

04 August 2017

This 'n' That

One of my worst nightmares has always been that I will be that person who holds up a line boarding a plane. That my boarding pass will cause the scanner to screech and flash red. That I will be left standing in a strange and obnoxious city watching my ride home literally fly away.

Well, a few weeks ago, it happened....most of it, anyway. Everything except the plane leaving without me. There's still no explanation as to the "ticketing error" that caused me to be the last one running to her seat. No one can explain why my boarding pass could get me through security but not through the gate. Suffice it to say I am exceedingly grateful for the Delta employee who worked quickly to fix it so I could board and we could leave as scheduled ("as scheduled" meaning the usual 30 minutes late, of course).

Traveling is always stressful, but this particular trip was a doozy. I am so thankful to the Lord for His protection and kindness throughout it. Little things like travel hiccups make you realize how wonderful the doctrine of God's sovereignty truly is. Almost late for that important meeting because the hotel goofed up? God wasn't surprised. Last minute flight change because crazy traffic won't get you there in time for your initial flight? God had that planned too. Very last minute panic when your boarding pass fails you? Yeah, God totally knew that was coming. If He promises to care for His children, then we know that what He's ordained is good and according to His perfect plan, even if it throws a massive wrench into ours.

With that, let's all breathe a sigh of relief that it is Friday and sit back while we enjoy the week in review (kind of):

01 August 2017

"Crammed Full of the Gospel"

I believe that those sermons which are fullest of Christ are the most likely to be blessed to the conversion of the hearers. Let your sermons be full of Christ, from beginning to end crammed full of the gospel. As for myself, brethren, I cannot preach anything else but Christ and His cross, for I know nothing else, and long ago, like the apostle Paul, I determined not to know anything else save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. People have often asked me, "What is the secret of your success?" I always answer that I have no other secret but this, that I have preached the gospel,—not about the gospel, but the gospel,—the full, free, glorious gospel of the living Christ who is the incarnation of the good news.[...]There ought to be enough of the gospel in every sermon to save a soul.

Spurgeon, Charles H. The Soul-Winner: or How to Lead Sinners to the Saviour. Kindle Edition, 42-43.

Further Reading
On the Dangers of Distorting God's Grace
When We Forget the Meaning of Grace
The Dividing Doctrines of Grace

28 July 2017

This 'n' That

I'm concluding listening through a study of the book of Genesis and, I have to say, I think I am going to miss these people! I have throughly enjoyed getting to know the men and women whose lives are shared with us in this book. Yes, I've read Genesis before, many times. Yet for some reason, through this read-through and the sermons with which I was following along, the book—and its characters—truly came alive.

In Genesis we have the story of creation, perfect and unblemished in its execution. We quickly see man fall, and just as quickly see God offer the promise of a Savior, a promise and plan that was determined before the foundation of the world.

We see God's power in the waters of the flood. We see God's sovereignty on full display throughout the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We see His provision and protection in the story of Joseph. We see the sins of men, and the grace, mercy, and faithfulness of God. In Genesis, we first meet our Maker, and we see that He is powerful, just, and holy, but He is also good, faithful, and true.

The exaltation of God that is seen in Genesis is truly immense, and to think that it is only the beginning of the book! This is why we love God's Word, isn't it? It reveals to us our great and glorious King and Savior. It reminds us of our fallibility and fallenness, yes, but it also reminds us of the goodness of our God. And it proclaims for us the way to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone. How gracious was God to give us this book? How dare we ever imply it is insufficient! How dare we question its authority! How dare we question its inerrancy and authenticity! May we instead thank our Lord for giving us such a clear proclamation of His ways, His will, and His wonders.

Well, the links below won't be nearly as edifying as an excursion through Genesis, but I hope you still enjoy your week in review (kind of):

24 July 2017

On the Dangers of Distorting God's Grace

The unrighteousness of men cannot nullify the grace of God.

This is a paraphrase from a sermon I recently heard, and I was struck by the importance of this simple truth. And yet, even in its simplicity, it is a truth far too often ignored in some Christian circles. It seems that, in our sweeping attempts to avoid the dangerous error of a "seeker-sensitive" mindset, we find ourselves swinging the proverbial pendulum too far in the other direction. As a consequence, we find ourselves stressing holiness and righteousness—and rightly so—but we find these being stressed at the expense of God's grace.

The Apostle Paul, in discussing this topic, posed the typical argument that one might hear when preaching the gospel of grace:
So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? (Romans 5:18-6:1)
And we, with Paul, heartily exclaim, "May it never be!" (Romans 6:2). Still, it behooves us to remember that the gospel is indeed a gospel of grace, and without that glorious, divine grace, no man would be saved.

21 July 2017

This 'n' That

I bought a power washer.

That thing is amazing.

My concrete has never looked so clean, and I have never enjoyed cleaning concrete or siding more.

The only question is—why did I wait so long to purchase one of these fantastic contraptions?

All of that cleaning makes me think of a terrifying passage of Scripture, though.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:27-28)
There's more to this passage, but I suspect you are familiar with it and, even if you are not, you get the idea. It's a pretty intense condemnation spoken by Jesus about those who are religious hypocrites.

We might clean up really nice on the outside, but have we taken a 2000 psi power washer to the inside?

Only Christ can perform such a powerful cleansing on us. Have we been cleansed by Christ, regenerated by the Holy Spirit? If so, then we are new creations in Him.

Still, in this world, and in our fallen flesh, we will inevitably find ourselves dirtied daily. But Christ offers cleansing even then.
Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” (John 13:5-10)
This is grace. Amazing grace. He saves us. He cleanses us. He graciously forgives us of our sin (1 John 1:9).

In response, we desire to serve Him. We desire to have our hearts and minds aligned with His and with His will. We pursue righteousness. We will all have our hypocritical moments, but may we, with the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, seek to mortify those with a mighty blow. May God forgive us for our unfaithfulness when He is so steadfastly faithful.

Well, it is Friday (hooray!), so please enjoy your week in review (kind of):

15 July 2017

Equipping Eve: The Discipline of Grace (Part 2)

In this episode, we continue our discussion of God’s disciplining by grace, and examining the distinction between law and gospel. The Law is good, but salvation is by grace.

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.
Click here to listen to Part 1.

Additional Resources
Equipping Eve: Have We Left Our First Love?
When We Forget the Meaning of Grace
"It Is Finished"

14 July 2017

This 'n' That

Sometimes I use talk-to-text to compose these introductions during my Thursday evening commute. What follows are my observations from last night.

Why is this person riding his brake? There's no reason to and yet there he is braking all the way down the street. Why is he driving in the middle of the road? Doesn't he know that there are two lanes? How did I end up behind this person? More importantly, how can I get around him?

Oh look, the Catholic Church wants me to call them if I have questions about the Catholic faith. I bet their phones are ringing off the hook.

Looks like the Methodist church is hosting this year's Global Leadership Summit… Again. Sigh. That is profoundly unsurprising.

Why is the stoplight lasting so long, especially when there's no one coming from the other direction?

Ooh, Wendy's has 50¢ Frosties! I can't have dairy, but those of you who can should take advantage of that deal!

Well, there you have it, a little insight into my life. I apologize that there's no spiritual application today, but I'd have to do some pretty intense stretching to make that happen. There is this, though: God, in His sovereign providence, knew that I'd be lacking for material this week, and so, just to test my readers' loyalty, He (thankfully) allowed me to have an uneventful commute so that I could share these unremarkable and un-motivating observations. Yes, God is sovereign even over the mundane!

Now that you've seen how utterly un-interesting my real life is, why not take some time to immerse yourself in something a bit more intriguing as you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

07 July 2017

This 'n' That

During the warmer months, I like to go for a walk in the evening. Nothing strenuous, just a peaceful walk around the neighborhood after being cooped up in an office all day. Last night, though, required a bit of maneuvering. It had rained most of the day and was still sprinkling when I stepped outside. With the sky still bright, however, and the sun striving to peek through, it was only a few minutes before the sprinkles ceased and the evening's walk could commence.

The humidity was a bit unpleasant (I always get "Texas hair" in the humidity [no offense intended toward my Texas friends]), but still, there are few things more enjoyable than enjoying the fresh air an evening stroll affords you...except when that stroll is interrupted by bugs. Lots of bugs. Not mosquitos necessarily (I've surrendered to all mosquitos; avoiding or repelling them is hopeless. My flesh is yours to dine upon), these were simply ambiguous flying bugs. Too large to be called gnats, they nevertheless swarmed and dive-bombed, essentially eliminating any sort of relaxation or pleasure one could gain from the evening. And so it was a brief walk last night. A brief, buggy walk.

To be clear, I'm not actually complaining, but am simply describing the circumstances. Seeing all those insects, though, and being attacked by them, caused me to think of can instance that involved a great deal more swarming flies:
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth, that it may become gnats through all the land of Egypt.’” They did so; and Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff, and struck the dust of the earth, and there were gnats on man and beast. All the dust of the earth became gnats through all the land of Egypt. The magicians tried with their secret arts to bring forth gnats, but they could not; so there were gnats on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had said. 
Now the LORD said to Moses, “Rise early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh, as he comes out to the water, and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. For if you do not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and on your servants and on your people and into your houses; and the houses of the Egyptians will be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they dwell. But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living, so that no swarms of flies will be there, in order that you may know that I, the LORD, am in the midst of the land. I will put a division between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign will occur.'” Then the LORD did so. And there came great swarms of flies into the house of Pharaoh and the houses of his servants and the land was laid waste because of the swarms of flies in all the land of Egypt.
(Exodus 8:16-24) 
Can you even imagine? Then, consider a future time, when far larger creatures will do more than simply swarm when the fifth trumpet is sounded during the period of the Tribulation, as described in Revelation 9:1-12.

Do you see now why I wasn't actually complaining about last night's bugs? I think I'll take my rainy day flies to these plagues rendered upon mankind as judgment from a holy, just, and omnipotent God! It is so magnificent to consider and ponder, though, that this same God is also a merciful and gracious God. He is long-suffering toward us ,who are great sinners, and His mercies are new each morning. Yes, He judges and does so rightly and righteously, but for those who call upon the name of Christ, He freely grants forgiveness of sin and the promise of eternal life. He indeed is worthy of our praise!

Okay, swat that fly off of your iPad, because it is time for your week in review (kind of):

06 July 2017

Relieved by the Thought of Jesus

If we compare our best performances with the demands of the law, the majesty of God, and the unspeakable obligations we are under; if we consider our innumerable sins of omission, and that the little we can do is polluted and defiled by the mixture of evil thoughts and the working of selfish principles, aims, and motives, which, though we disapprove, we are unable to suppress; we have great reason to confess: "To us belong shame and confusion of face."

But we are relieved by the thought that Jesus, the High Priest, bears the iniquity of our holy things, perfumes our prayers with the incense of his mediation, and washes our tears in his own blood. This inspires a confidence, that though we are unworthy of the least of his mercies, we may humbly hope for a share in the greatest blessings he bestowed, because we are heard and accepted, not on the account of our own prayers and services, but in the beloved Son of God, who maketh intercession for us. Thus the wisdom and love of God have provided a wonderful expedient, which, so far as it is rightly understood, and cordially embraced, while it lays the sinner low as the dust in point of humiliation and self-abasement, fills him at the same time with a hope full of glory, which, with respect to its object, can be satisfied with nothing less than all the fullness of God.

There are favored seasons in which the believer, having a lively impression of the authority and love of the Intercessor, can address the great Jehovah as his Father, with no less confidence than if he was holy and spotless as the angels before the throne, at the very moment that he has abundant cause to say, "Behold, I am vile! I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes!"

– John Newton

Further Reading 
When We Forget the Meaning of Grace
Consequences of the Cross: Redemption
Consequences of the Cross: Reconciliation

05 July 2017

Equipping Eve: The Discipline of Grace (Part 1)

In his book, "The Discipline of Grace," author Jerry Bridges has noted that God disciplines by grace, not law. Yet, is this how we perceive our Christian walk? Might we be trapped unknowingly in a subtle cycle of dangerous legalism? How does it help us to “preach the gospel to ourselves everyday?”

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

Additional Resources
Equipping Eve: Have We Left Our First Love?
When We Forget the Meaning of Grace
"It Is Finished"

30 June 2017

This 'n' That

Have you ever felt absolutely parched? Sure you have. We've all been dehydrated to some extent, even if we feel that we have been drinking our fair share of fluids. For instance, today I have consumed ridiculous amounts of water, tea, and coffee and yet, I still can't get enough to drink. I am still drinking water like, well...like someone who is really thirsty. Whether it's due to too much salty food or some other reason, my body is telling me that, in spite of the quantity of liquid I've consumed, it still isn't enough.

A similar thing can happen to us spiritually, too, can't it? We can consume mass quantities of theology: sermons, books, blogs, journals, and yet we can still feel spiritually parched. Interestingly, God, in His goodness, alerts us to this parched state the same way that He's designed our bodies to tell us we are thirsty when we need to drink more water. We might find ourselves in a "spiritual funk," feeling a bit lifeless and uncertain why. "I listen to four sermons a day, what's wrong with me?!" Well, what's in those sermons? Is it true biblical exposition, opening the Word and allowing the Holy Spirit to do the work? Or is it man's ideas, lists, and principles?

"I read only the best, most doctrinally-sound blogs!" Well, good for you. Blogs are good; I like blogs. You should keep reading blogs (especially this one), but blogs should not be a primary source of your spiritual nourishment. Nor should podcasts (said the podcaster) or journals.

These are all good things and are helpful resources to help us grow in our understanding of God and His Word. Yet, at the end of the day, the only thing that will quench our spiritual thirst is to drink deeply from that Word. Beyond that, we must act on that Word, by desiring and seeking to live in pursuit of Christ's righteousness, yes, but also by using the gifts He has given us to serve His body. This is where the analogy breaks down, because if we are seeking to quench our spiritual thirst, doing so requires more than just consumption.

Are we busy in the Word and about His work? I know I certainly am not as busy with these things as I should be or want to be. Life gets in the way quickly (work, family, work, home maintenance,  work, oh my!), but without quenching our thirst with the Word, we find we are walking through that life too spiritually dehydrated to do much of anything well.

Remember, though, I did say you should still read blogs. So if it fits appropriately into your list of priorities, why not settle in to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

23 June 2017

This 'n' That

I am about to venture into dangerous territory. I am about to go where some of you may think I shouldn't. I am about to comment on parenting...even though I am not a parent.

It's true, I do not have children; however, I do have common sense. I do have a Bible, which tells me basic principles. And, let's face it, I also have an opinion.

Photo by Sebastian Molinares on Unsplash
Climbing. Climbing can be fun! We all loved climbing trees in our yard when we were young, didn't we? I know I did! That fun did not come without an element of required oversight for safety, though, and it was fun that took place on my parents' property.

Climbing can also be dangerous. When you climb someone else's property, it can be a liability. When you climb anything, safety must be strictly considered.

Yet, some parents today do not seem to understand this. Their kids can be seen climbing anything and everything, from their own counters, refrigerators, and walls, to store shelves and street lights. Yep, street lights.

I ran an errand the other day, and as I pulled into the parking lot, I saw two children taking turns climbing the base and pole of one of the lights in the parking lot. These kids weren't unattended, however; no, the mother was right there...helping and encouraging them. She gave them a boost when they needed a boost, and lifted them off when she decided it was time to go. It seemed careless and unwise, to say the least.

So there I sat, mouth agape, wondering just what would have happened if she had dropped one of those children in helping them down or if one of those kids had fallen on their own. Would the store have been sued for being so careless as to have lights in their parking lot? Chances are that such an accident would have been seen as anybody's fault except the parent.

It's the way of the world, isn't it? Parents are so busy being "cool" and being friends with their kids that they fail to perform their actual job—a most important job—parenting. It may be difficult to believe, but it is possible to be a fun parent while still being a parent. It is possible to show love to your children, even when telling them no, and even when disciplining them.
My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD
Or loathe His reproof,
For whom the LORD loves He reproves,
Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights. 
(Proverbs 3:11-12; cf. Hebrews 12:7-11)
Parents, don't neglect the incredible duty and honor of being a parent. Someday, your children will be grown and, by God's grace, they will then be your friend. While you are responsible for their growth, nurturing, and well-being, though, you need to be their parent, watching out for their physical needs and protection. This might mean not allowing them to climb lampposts in parking lots, and telling them "no" might lead to a tantrum. That's okay, because, in case you forgot...you're the parent. If you cannot be trusted with their physical protection, how can you hope to cultivate their spiritual growth?

Okay, I'm done speaking out of turn now. If you're still reading, I hope you'll enjoy your week in review (kind of):

17 June 2017

Equipping Eve: The Importance of Context

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Context, context, context!”? Context is always important, especially when we are studying the Bible. In this episode, we’ll take a look at some errors that may result when context is ignored, and demonstrate why context is not only important, but interesting!

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

See also
Bible Backgrounds: Why You Need Them and Where to Find Them

Further Listening 
Equipping Eve: Canon Conversations
Equipping Eve: On Choosing the Good Part
Equipping Eve: How Healthy Is the Women's Ministry in Your Church?

16 June 2017

This 'n' That

Sometimes, circumstances happen in life that are simply...poetic. You're going through life, taking it one day at a time, and suddenly, in the midst of confusion or life-altering moments, everything providentially falls into place. You rejoice in God's goodness and give Him all the glory.

Then there are times when everything is a mess. There is confusion or chaos, and it seems as though every decision is a life-altering one. Yet, far from everything sweetly working itself out, things become tied in bigger knots and you end up feeling more disoriented than ever. Still, you rest in God's sovereignty and give Him all the glory, knowing that His timing will be perfect.

And then there are all of those times in-between. Things are status quo, not much exciting is happening, and you're a wee bit thankful for the break from life's nonsense. And then, just to remind you that there is still sin in the world...a bird goes potty on you.

Yep, you read that correctly, and no, it's not meant to be a euphemism. This happened to me the other day. It was a beautiful evening, albeit a bit heavy outside. I was out for a walk to enjoy the fresh air when suddenly, I felt something on my leg. I reached down to brush it aside, assuming it was a mosquito and wanting to end its dinner early. But instead of lifting my hand to find a smashed bug, I found...well, I discovered that a bird had actually gone potty on my leg. It was a less-than-poetic moment.

Disgusting is not a strong enough word to describe this moment. Suffice it to say that after scrubbing my hand and leg with antibacterial soap, Clorox wipes, and alcohol, I still didn't feel like it was clean. The only next reasonable step was to douse it with acid and burn off my flesh, but that seemed a bit extreme, so I just tried not to use my hand for several hours.

I know, I know. "After last week, why are you telling us more disgusting things, Erin?" you ask. Well, I share this because some things just need to be shared. When things seem to be going well and life seems tame, just remember this: a bird still might potty on you. However, please also remember this: even in your most disgusting bird dropping-covered moments, God ought still to be praised, if for no other reason than to acknowledge His obvious sense of humor.

Well, now that I've relived that moment, I think I need more Clorox wipes. While I go look for some, why don't you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

12 June 2017

Christ the Redeemer

There is no name of Messiah more significant, comprehensive, or endearing, than the name 'Redeemer.' The name of Savior expresses what he does for sinners. He saves them with an everlasting salvation. But the word 'Redeemer' intimates likewise the manner in which he saves them. For it is not merely by the word of his power as he saved his disciples when in jeopardy upon the lake, by saying to the winds and the seas, "Peace, be still: and there was a great calm;" but by price, by paying a ransom for them, and pouring out the blood of his heart, as an atonement for their sins.

The Hebrew word for Redeemer, Goel, primarily signifies a near kinsman, or the next of kin. He with whom the right of redemption lay, and who, by virtue of his nearness of relation, was the legal avenger of blood. Thus Messiah took upon him our nature and, by assuming our flesh and blood, blame nearly related to us, that he might redeem our forfeited inheritance, restore us to liberty, and avenge our cause against Satan, the enemy and murderer of our souls. But thus he made himself also responsible for us, to pay our debts, and to answer the demands of justice and the law of God on our behalf. He fulfilled his engagement. He suffered and he died on this account. But our Redeemer, "who was once dead is now alive, and liveth forevermore, and has the keys of death and of Hades."...He is the living One, having life in himself, "the same yesterday, today, and forever." Such was his own language to the Jews, "Before Abraham was, I am." Therefore the Redeemer is mighty, and his redemption is sure. He is able to save to the uttermost. His power is unlimited, and his official authority as Mediator is founded in a covenant, ratified by his own blood, and by the oath of the unchangeable God (Psalm 110:4).

—John Newton

09 June 2017

This 'n' That

Have you ever watched people in their cars? They are disgusting. Don't believe me? Pay close attention next time you are sitting at a red light. You'll see everything from women putting on makeup, to men and women ridding themselves of pimples, to excavation of the nasal cavity. It's true. Would I lie about something so important?

This is the primary reason I stay away from purchasing a used vehicle. Yes, I know sometimes circumstances necessitate it, but after you take these things into consideration, you start to wonder if it's really worth the money you are allegedly saving. It's also why I cringe in rental cars. I mean, if people are that disgusting in their own vehicle, what must they be doing to something they don't even own?

Yesterday, I decided to run an errand at lunch. As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed a man sitting in his car, examining himself in the visor mirror. Yes, examining himself. And picking things on his face. And combing, and possibly trimming, his sideburns. Yes, by the time he finally turned off his car and stepped out, he was ready for anything. He was as cleaned up and coiffed as he could be.

All of the casualties of his endeavors, whether they are skin, hair, or something else, are now in his car. Think about that the next time you get into a used car or a rental car, or even your own car. Yes, let's use this opportunity to exhort ourselves to be less disgusting in our vehicles. If you need to trim your eyebrows, do it before you leave the house. After all, you never know who is watching.

And if we are that disgusting with our physical selves, how much more disgusting are our spiritual selves! Sin dirties the whole person! The problem is, while we may be able to clean up the outside facade, only God can cleanse us from within and make us new creatures in Christ...and how gracious He is to regenerate such vile wretches! Indeed, His perfect righteousness and merciful grace are why we love Him and desire to serve Him, isn't it?

Well, now that you are completely grossed out, why not take some time in between clipping your nails to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

04 June 2017

02 June 2017

This 'n' That

Well, another week is coming to an end, but that certainly doesn't mean the end of the busyness, does it? Real life doesn't take a break; it doesn't stop for weekends. Sure, in the white picket fence world of the 1950s sitcom, when Dad came home from work on Friday, all the cares of the week slipped away while the family enjoyed two days of carefree fun and fellowship. In the real world? Parents open their laptops at the breakfast table, email from their phones at their child's soccer game, and open their laptop again late into the night.

It's as if we walk around with the glowing halo of electronics surrounding us, and yet, ultimately, the electronics are not the problem. It's our unwillingness to unplug, our narcissistic belief that our "sphere of influence" cannot function without us for even an hour, let alone for a whole weekend. Our twisted view of our own self-importance has led to a warped and wiped out generation. Our children do not know what it is to spend device-free time with Mom and Dad, and we do not know how to look at our children except through the lens of our camera phone, as we seek to capture every moment we do have with them to share with 500 of our closest social media friends.

One cannot help but consider how the age of electronics and social media have affected our view of ourselves.

"I must check Twitter, someone might be saying something that requires my opinion!"

"I must share this photo, no one else has ever made this for dinner!"

"I must check my work email, even on vacation, because nobody else knows as much about this project as I do!"

Seriously? How twisted are we that we think the broader world cannot function without us? You know who should not have to function without us? Our family. Our church. Our actual friends (not your Facebook friends that you knew in high school and haven't spoken to in 20 years).

Do we serve the Lord by serving our family? Do we serve Him by serving in our church? Or do we serve another god?

My apologies for the rant, and rest assured that I am not excluding myself from the above analysis. But as the weather warms and the days grow long, let us use our time wisely, as the Lord has commanded. Let us serve and seek to glorify Him. Perhaps that does mean sitting at a computer and typing a blog post (see what I did there?), but it may also mean turning off that iPad and playing a game of catch with your son or daughter. It might mean taking a walk with your best friend, discussing the ways the Lord has been working in your lives. Even more, it might mean setting that smartphone aside, falling on your knees, and drawing closer to the Lord who has been good and gracious to save you.

Okay, now that we're all feeling guilty about spending time on the computer (sorry about that), why not dive in and enjoy the week in review (kind of):

29 May 2017

"We Are the Dead"

It is Memorial Day. You might not even notice. In fact, you may not even read this post until Tuesday or Wednesday, or later, this week. You may be too busy swimming, or gardening, grilling hot dogs, or just plain enjoying a Monday off of work to realize that men and women had to die for you to enjoy a free vacation day.

I'm not trying to lecture you or make you feel guilty. I have been longing and looking forward to this three-day weekend as much as anybody! It is not wrong to enjoy the time with friends and family, but we ought not forget why we celebrate Memorial Day in the first place.

27 May 2017

Equipping Eve: Without the Shedding of Blood (Part 2)

Is the plan of redemption too violent? Is it really just a horrific tale of “cosmic child abuse”? Believe it or not, there are those who profess to be Christians who would say that it is. As always, let’s go back to the Bible and see what God has to say about the penal substitutionary atonement.

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.
Click here to listen to Part 1.

Additional Resources
Christ—Our Substitute (Charles Spurgeon)
The Scriptural Necessity of Christ's Penal Substitution
Penal Substitution in Church History
Penal Substitution in the Old Testament
Replacing the 'Violent' Cross

26 May 2017

This 'n' That

Okay, there are two things that you, as the reader, need to know for context before I tell this story.

First, we had some intense storms in the area last Friday evening. At least that's what I'm told. I was preoccupied.

Second, there's a Catholic hospital in the area that is allegedly "continuing the healing ministry of Jesus." Yeah. Apparently they haven't paid too much attention as to how Jesus healed when He cured illnesses and restored limbs.

Anyway, there's your context.

I was sitting in this hospital last Friday night (no, I wasn't a patient) when a voice came over the loudspeaker. In case you're wondering, it was not the voice of God, unless God is a soft-spoken, approximately 82-year old woman (He isn't). So there I sat, weary from the day, but extremely intrigued when I heard (the following is a loose paraphrase),
We'd like to offer you a spiritual moment of reflection.
Oh boy. This should be good.
Today's storms came quickly and they were intense and disruptive. Sometimes the circumstances of our lives are like that. The storms come unexpectedly and they turn our lives upside down.
Wow. Profound.
When the storms come, we need to find peace in our lives. There is one who offers peace.
Wait, is she actually going to speak the name of Jesus Christ?
So in those moments of turmoil, look to the source of peace in your life.
Silence. That was it. The moral of the story? When life is topsy-turvy, pick a random source of peace and run with it. Yep, that'll help. Sigh.

The peace that Jesus offers is the only peace that matters: peace with God, reconciliation between us fallen, hateful sinners and a perfect, righteous, thrice-holy God. If He is not your source of peace, then any "peace" you find will be temporary and inadequate.

So now that you've had your spiritual moment of reflection, are you ready for your week in review (kind of)?

20 May 2017

A Turning Point for Each Man

...it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment...
(Hebrews 9:27)

All men are born physically just one time.

Each man is also appointed to die physically just one time (Job 14:5; Psalm 139:16).

At the time of physical death, those who repented of their sin and trusted in Jesus Christ alone for salvation are ushered into eternal life with Him (John 3:3; 2 Corinthians 5:6-8). Those who refused to bow the knee to Christ are ushered into eternal torment (Isaiah 66:22-24; Mark 9:42-48; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Eternity. That is a very long time. Yet, man is an eternal being. No, he does not exist from eternity past; however, he has been made to live forever. And every man will live forever, either in the presence of Jesus Christ, or away from His presence, "where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched."
Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house-- for I have five brothers--in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead. 
(Luke 16:19-31)
Such an eternal existence is unthinkable, and yet it is right and just for the perfect, thrice-holy God of the universe to execute His judgment in such a way on unrighteous, depraved, sinful men.

19 May 2017

This 'n' That

On my desk sits a wooden nutcracker. It is there all year, even though we typically associate nutcrackers with Christmas. I found it this past winter at a local Christmas market, one of those that masquerades as an authentic German Christkindlmarkt, when in reality it's nowhere close. In spite of its inauthenticity, though, the excursion wasn't a complete bust, because I returned with my nutcracker...my shepherd nutcracker.

You see, the fact that it's a shepherd is why I love it, and it's why I intend to keep it on my desk year round. Perhaps one of my favorite analogies found in Scripture is that of the Good Shepherd.
I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father. (John 10:11-18, emphasis added)
What a picture! What a caring, tender, sacrificial Savior we serve! Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd. He lays down His life for His sheep. Moreover, He knows His sheep. He is not a faraway god, high and lofty and out of reach. Yes, He is high and lofty and mighty and all-powerful, but He also is near, caring for His own, and knows each of His sheep. He knows their flaws and imperfections, their trials and joys, their conflicts and triumphs.

So as I sit at my desk and type, looking at my feeble and frail reminder of this great and glorious Good Shepherd, I am struck by His immeasurable goodness, His unwavering faithfulness, and His unfathomable love for a poor, wretched sinner like me.

There is so much more contained in this passage, but that ought to be enough to stop us in our tracks for today. With that, then, why don't you pause to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

13 May 2017

Equipping Eve: Without the Shedding of Blood (Part 1)

Is the plan of redemption too violent? Is it really just a horrific tale of “cosmic child abuse”? Believe it or not, there are those who profess to be Christians who would say that it is. As always, let’s go back to the Bible and see what God has to say about the penal substitutionary atonement.

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

Additional Resources
Christ—Our Substitute (Charles Spurgeon)
The Scriptural Necessity of Christ's Penal Substitution
Penal Substitution in Church History
Penal Substitution in the Old Testament
Replacing the 'Violent' Cross

12 May 2017

This 'n' That

I heard a great quote this week from Jerry Wragg, pastor of Grace Immanuel Baptist Church in Jupiter, Florida. In fact, it came from an equally edifying sermon that is embedded below. Said Wragg,
We are raising a generation of Christians who love to talk about Reformed theology but [who] lack genuine love.
In its immediate context, I think Wragg was referring to those "young, restless, and Reformed" folk who like to flaunt their alcohol consumption, tattoos, and coarse language. At the same time, I think we do well to take this thought into deeper consideration as it refers to those of us who hold to the doctrines of grace. As I've heard another wise pastor say, and I am paraphrasing, it often seems as though those who hold to the doctrines of grace fail to show much grace. The irony is, if we truly believe in the doctrines of grace, we of all people should be filled with love and grace for others, just as Christ has demonstrated His love, grace, and mercy to us undeserved sinners.

Let's be mindful, then, of keeping our spiritual pride in check. Let's be mindful that we do not forget God's grace in our attempts to proclaim and uphold the gospel, because without grace, there is no gospel.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8, 9)
With that, let's celebrate the fact that it is finally Friday by enjoying our week in review (kind of):

07 May 2017

When We Forget the Meaning of Grace

Without a continual reminder of the good news of the gospel, we can easily fall into one of two errors. The first is to focus on our external performance and become proud like the Pharisees. We may then begin to look down our spiritual noses at others who are not as disciplined, obedient, and committed as we are and in a very subtle way begin to feel spiritually superior to them.

The second error is the exact opposite of the first. It is the feeling of guilt. We have been exposed to the disciplines of the Christian life, to obedience, and to service, and in our hearts we have responded to those challenges. We haven't, however, been as successful as others around us appear to be. Or we find ourselves dealing with some of the sins of the heart such as anger, resentment, covetousness, and a judgmental attitude....Because we have put the gospel on the shelf as far as our own lives are concerned, we struggle with a sense of failure and guilt. We believe God is displeased with us, and we certainly wouldn't expect His blessing on our lives. After all, we don't deserve His favor.

Because we are focusing on our performance, we forget the meaning of grace: God's unmerited favor to those who deserve only His wrath. Pharisee-type believers unconsciously think they have earned God's blessing through their behavior. Guilt-laden believers are quite sure they have forfeited God's blessing through their lack of discipline or their disobedience. Both have forgotten the meaning of grace because they have moved away from the gospel and have slipped into a performance relationship with God.

—Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace: God's Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness, (NavPress: 2006), 22-23.

Further Reading
Faith Makes Christ Precious
Equipping Eve: On Choosing the Good Part
The Cross and the World

Sunday Morning Praise

Amazing Grace

05 May 2017

This 'n' That

So, I tweeted this a couple days ago:
Yeah, you've been there, haven't you? You open your email or text messages, read the latest, and think, "Wait, am I on Candid Camera, or did this person actually think that writing/saying/doing this was a good idea?

We've all experienced this and should not be surprised when it happens. Still, it's disappointing to watch grown adults, both men and women, behave like 14-year old girls. Junior high was miserable enough the first time around, do we really need to live through it again? Backstabbing, shunning, lies, gossip—will we ever grow up?

Well, if we are Christians, we should grow up, shouldn't we? We should not be characterized by these things, but by other, more lovely fruit:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:16-24)
I know—we are saved, but we are still sinners, and we all have our "mean girl moments," but we have been purchased with the precious blood of Christ. This Savior, in His mercy and grace, purchased us in spite of those sins, so ought we not strive, by His enabling power and indwelling Spirit, to have far more "fruit of the Spirit moments"?
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
Wow. How amazing is His grace! May our own love for His Body be ever-increasing as we grow to look more and more like our precious Redeemer.

Okay, now that we've all successfully mortified that sin (yeah, right), let's take a few moments to enjoy our week in review (kind of):

28 April 2017

This 'n' That

I've been thinking a lot lately about grace. And law. Grace and law and the required balance between the two. A gospel without grace is no gospel at all (Acts 20:24). And without a proper presentation of the law, we cannot understand our need for the gospel of grace (Romans 3:20). Both are necessary. Both are good. Both are true.

Unfortunately, both are not always presented rightly.

On one hand, we have the antinomian mindset: "Let us sin so that grace may abound!" May it never be. Grace without law leads to lawlessness.

On the other hand, we have the legalistic mindset: "Do this. Think that. Feel this way." May it never be. Law without grace cannot save.

With these thoughts, I've been pondering the subtleties of legalism and how it can creep in, unnoticed, until it has slowly but deftly suffocated its unwitting victims.

Such error leads to spiritual stagnation and spiritual depression. It is just as dangerous as antinomianism, perhaps even more so. Satan would love nothing more than to render the saints impotent, after all, too busy wallowing in their own sin and failure to measure up to be of any service to Christ's kingdom.

Anyway, those are just a few things I've been thinking about. I've also been thinking about something else very important: it is Friday, and you know what that means! Time to relax for a bit and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

23 April 2017

Sunday Morning Praise

Our Great Savior (Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners)

21 April 2017

This 'n' That

My house sits a few doors up from a small pond, and each year there are one or two pairs of ducks that come to nest. By now they've learned that they can find food in our backyard, so I watched again last night as they waddled through the grass to munch on some corn.

I love observing these creatures. I find it so fascinating that the male stands back and waits, keeping guard while the female eats her meal. Animals act on instinct, yes, but his protection and care for his mate is nevertheless worth noting.

Now, does a female duck think extensively of her mate's care for her? Of course not; she simply knows that he is watching over her for her protection. Still, it offers us a sweet and simple picture, does it not? Just as God cares for these simple animals, so too does He care for us.

In fact, our Good Shepherd is always protectively overseeing and always lovingly guiding. How easy it is to follow such a One as this! I love the picture of Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd; nothing could be more appropriate for us helpless, dependent sheep!

Well, in spite of a slightly disjointed introduction, let's get this post rolling, shall we? It's Friday, which means you are obligated to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

14 April 2017

This 'n' That

If you read last week's post, you know that I was struggling with laryngitis leading up to my speaking commitment at the Answers for Women conference last Saturday. Well, praise the Lord for His faithfulness! It was a wonderful conference, and my voice remained strong and clear throughout the talk.

Now, by the time I was leaving the venue on Saturday, my voice was starting to struggle again, but this was a good thing because it was due to having so many wonderful conversations with the ladies. The women in attendance at this year's conference were insightful, inquisitive, and were asking great questions. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to participate!

Now, one week later, we are approaching Resurrection Sunday. I hope you've had time to contemplate the meaning of this week, and have taken time to meditate upon our Lord's sacrifice for those who are His, as well as His victorious resurrection. If not, please do not let this Resurrection Sunday pass you by without doing that!

Hopefully you will find some of these articles to be helpful in that regard as well. So with that, please enjoy your week in review (kind of):

"It Is Finished"

Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; and they began to come up to Him and say, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and to give Him slaps in the face. Pilate came out again and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.” Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold, the Man!” So when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying, “Crucify, crucify!” Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.”

Therefore when Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid; and he entered into the Praetorium again and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar.”
Therefore when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!” So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”

So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified.

They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Therefore many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews were saying to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews’; but that He said, ‘I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be”; this was to fulfill the Scripture: “THEY DIVIDED MY OUTER GARMENTS AMONG THEM, AND FOR MY CLOTHING THEY CAST LOTS.” Therefore the soldiers did these things.

But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upona branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

(John 19:1-30)

Further Reading
In the Light of the Resurrection
The Cross and the World
This Is What Matters

12 April 2017

Equipping Eve: Choice or Chance?

“Choice, not chance, determines destiny.” Do you think the writers of this church sign had verses like John 1:12-13 in mind? It seems doubtful! Let’s open our Bibles and use the example of Lydia in Acts 16 to see just who is making the choices that determine our “destiny.”

Click here to listen to this latest episode of Equipping Eve and find additional resources.

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: You Make the Choice, God Makes the Change? (Part 1)
Equipping Eve: You Make the Choice, God Makes the Change? (Part 2)
Equipping Eve: On Choosing the Good Part

09 April 2017

07 April 2017

This 'n' That

Well, it's finally here. This weekend, several hundred women will gather in Florence, Kentucky, for the Defend: Answers for Women conference. I'm honored to be a returning speaker at this event and am looking forward to seeing old friends, making new ones, and engaging in some challenging and God-honoring conversations!

God, in His grace and wisdom, gave me a little lesson in dependence on Him this week. Over a week ago, I came down with a sinus infection, which quickly led to a cough and laryngitis that persisted throughout most of this week. I am cautiously optimistic now, as my voice has strengthened and is (I think) back to normal, but would greatly appreciate any extra prayers as I prepare to speak on Saturday morning. I pray He will be glorified, whether my voice is weak or strong!

As you can imagine, it's been a busy week, so let's get right down to business, shall we? Why not sip some tea (I've been sipping a lot of tea this week!) while you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

31 March 2017

This 'n' That

It's hard to believe that it is already the end of March! That means that tomorrow is April Fool's Day, or at least it is for those who celebrate it.

I never understood the point of April Fool's Day. I mean, I understand it, I just don't understand why some people think it's a worthwhile use of their time, energy, and brain power in such a way. Although, perhaps my aversion to this day is actually due to the fact that my brother pulled some pretty good pranks on me when we were younger. It's fine, though. Someday maybe I'll get him back!
Yeah, I don't get it either.

Considering the origins of April Fool's Day remain a bit of a mystery, I suspect that many others out there share my sentiments about this bizarre and pointless day. Nevertheless, as long as it's all in good fun, a little levity is healthy for us, right?

What strikes me is how many people treat the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ as no more than a predated April Fool's joke. From the swoon theory, to the claim that His disciples stole Christ's body (Matthew 28:11-15), sinful men have long tried to convince one another that Jesus didn't die on the cross or, if He did, that He did not rise 3 days later. Thankfully, we Christians know this is not the case, for God's inerrant Word tells us exactly what happened:
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” And they remembered His words, and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened. 
(Luke 24:1-12)
Aren't we thankful that we can know without question that Christ not only died on the cross, serving as a substitute and bearing the wrath of God for all who would ever believe, but that we can also know that He rose three days later, demonstrating God's acceptance of His sacrifice (Hebrews 10:11-14)? Faith may be the conviction of things not seen, but it is also the assurance of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1). We know our faith is not in vain, because the truth of what we must believe is sufficiently contained within the Bible, that Word that God has been so gracious to give to us (John 20:31).

Well, that was a long and windy introduction, wasn't it? Oh well, I suppose we're all entitled to wax eloquent now and then! Now that I'm done, I hope you'll stick around and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

26 March 2017

24 March 2017

This 'n' That

Well, thanks for giving me a break from blogging last week. It was greatly appreciated, and much needed. Things are only slightly less chaotic this week, but they are a great deal more clear, so that makes for a still busy, but #blessed, blogger (see what I did there?). Would you like to know something I learned this week?
The mind of man plans his way,
But the LORD directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Yes, I know. Those aren't exactly obscure, hidden verses, are they? Things can get a little fuzzy, though, even when we are pursuing the Lord's work and our desires are to serve Him. At the end of the day, the Lord still has completely different plans than we do, and sometimes, we may not like that those plans aren't clearly laid out for us, or aren't coming to fruition when we think they should. The Lord's timing is always perfect, though, isn't it? Now I'm excited to see what the real plan—His plan—will be.

For now, though, things are back to normal (whatever that is), and that is just fine with me! That means that we have some catching up to do, so grab a cookie (because we all need more cookies in our lives) and get ready to enjoy your last two weeks in review (kind of):

17 March 2017

This 'n' That (Not Quite)

In all the years that I've been posting This 'n' That, I don't believe I've ever missed or skipped a Friday. Until now. It is a particularly busy season, and an even busier week, and unfortunately, the post cannot take priority.

Do not worry, though! This 'n' That will be back next week, Lord willing, or perhaps even earlier. In the meantime, this busy blogger would deeply covet your prayers.

12 March 2017

10 March 2017

This 'n' That

“Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him. (Luke 8:39)
This is just a happy picture.
Jesus has indeed done great things for us, has He not? Perhaps He has not cast out demons from our bodies, as with the man described in Luke 8, but He has done great, wonderful, magnificent things. If we have been saved, He has cured us of our spiritual blindness. He has purchased salvation for us. He has promised us eternal life. He has promised to care for our practical needs. What a majestic Savior!

Well, it seemed to be a bit of a slow week, didn't it? Or perhaps it is that, for me, this week real life was so full and busy that internet life took not just a backseat, but was dragging behind on its own rickety trailer. Regardless, this week's lineup is a bit slim, but I hope you still find it worth taking a break to enjoy your week in review (kind of):