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)
Also,
“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):

09 March 2017

Faith Makes Christ Precious


To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ. (Ephesians 3:8)
Faith is the effect of a principle of new life implanted in the soul, that was before dead in trespasses and sins; and it qualifies, not only for obeying the Savior's precepts, but chiefly and primarily for receiving from and rejoicing in his fullness, admiring his love, his work, his person, his glory, his advocacy. It makes Christ precious; enthrones him in the heart; presents him as the most delightful object to our meditations—as our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and strength; our root, head life, shepherd, husband...

A most valued friend of mine, a clergyman now living, had for many years given a rational assent to the gospel. He labored with much earnestness...was very exemplary in his whole conduct; preached almost incessantly (two or three times every day in the week for years)...He succeeded likewise with his people so far as to break them off from outward irregularities; and was mentioned, in a letter to the Society for Propagating the Gospel...as the most perfect example of a parish priest which this nation, or perhaps this age, has produced...

One day, reading Ephesians 3 in his Greek Testament, his thoughts were stopped...He was struck, and led to think with himself to this purpose: The apostle, when speaking of Christ, uses remarkable expressions; he speaks of heights, and depths, and lengths, and breadths, and unsearchable, where I seem to find everything plain, easy, and rational...

This led him to a close examination of all his epistles and, by the blessing of God, brought on a total change in his views and preaching. He no longer set his people to keep a law of faith; to trust in their sincerity and endeavors, upon some general hope that Christ would help them out where they came short; but he preached Christ himself, as the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth. He felt himself, and labored to convince others, that there is no hope for a sinner but merely in the blood of Jesus; and no possibility of his doing an works acceptable to God, till he himself be first made accepted in the Beloved.

— John Newton, Jewels from John Newton: 07 March, Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2016.

06 March 2017

Repost: Lydia's Conversion and God's Irresistible Grace

A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. (Acts 16:14, NASB)
The manner of Lydia's conversion is a fine illustration of how God always redeems lost souls. From our human perspective, we may think we are seeking Him, that trusting Christ is merely a "decision" that lies within the power of our own will to choose, or that we are sovereign over our own hearts and affections. In reality, wherever you see a soul like Lydia's truly seeking God, you can be certain God is drawing her. Whenever someone trusts Christ, it is God who opens the heart to believe. If God Himself did not draw us to Christ, we would never come at all. Jesus was quite clear about this: "No man can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (John 6:44). "No one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father" (John 6:45).

The fallen human heart is in absolute bondage to sin. Every sinner is just as helpless as Mary Magdalene was under the possession of those seven demons. Romans 8:7–8 says, "The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God." We are powerless to change our own hearts or turn from evil in order to do good: "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil?" (Jer. 13:23). The love of evil is part of our fallen nature, and it is the very thing that makes it impossible for us to choose good over evil. Our wills are bent in accordance with what we love. We are in bondage to our own corruption. Scripture portrays the condition of every fallen sinner as a state of hopeless enslavement to sin.

Actually, it's even worse than that. it is a kind of death—an utter spiritual barrenness that leaves us totally at the mercy of the sinful lusts of our own flesh (Eph. 2:1–3). We are helpless to change our own hearts for the better....

[Lydia's] heart was truly open. She was a genuine seeker of God. But notice Luke's whole point: it was not that Lydia opened her own heart and ears to the truth. Yes, she was seeking, but even that was because God was drawing her. She was listening, but it was God who gave her ears to hear. She had an open heart, but it was God who opened her heart. Luke expressly affirms the sovereignty of God in Lydia's salvation....

If it were not for God's sovereign work drawing and opening the hearts of sinners to believe, no one would ever be saved. This is the very thing Paul has in mind in Ephesians 2, after stressing the utter spiritual deadness of sinners, when he says salvation—all of it—is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8–9).

Did you realize that even faith is God's gift to the believer? We don't reach down into our own hearts and summon faith from within by sheer willpower. God is the one who opens our hearts to believe. Repentance is something He graciously bestows (Acts 11:18; 2 Tim. 2:25).

I think all Christians have some intuitive understanding of this truth....We know in our hearts that our salvation is wholly and completely the work of God's grace, and not in any sense our own doing. All believers, like Lydia, must confess that it was God who first opened our hearts to believe.

...Grace doesn't push sinners against their wills toward Christ; it draws them willingly to Him—by first opening their hearts. It enables them to see their sin for what it is and empowers them to despise what they formerly loved. It also equips them to see Christ for who He truly is. Someone whose heart has been opened like that will inevitably find Christ Himself irresistible. That is precisely the meaning of the expression "irresistible grace." That is how God draws sinners to Himself. Luke's description of Lydia's conversion captures it beautifully. The Lord simply opened her heart to believe—and she did.

– John MacArthur, Twelve Extraordinary Women, (Thomas Nelson: 2005), 192–194.

Further Reading
John MacArthur on the New Birth
Replacing the 'Violent' Cross
Halftime and the Renewed Mind

03 March 2017

This 'n' That

Every now and then, I go through my purse and/or wallet and run across store credits that I have forgotten about. It's like finding free money! Except, I spent the money in the first place, and now I'm limited as to where I can re-spend it. So...when you apply logical thinking, it's not very exciting after all.

These scare me in so many ways.
Nevertheless, it is still fun to be able to then go to the store or to the website (we'll use DSW as an example, since that's the store credit that is currently sitting on my desk), pick out a pair of shoes, and "not pay" for it when I purchase it. Sure, it's not free money, but, 6 months after receiving the store credit, it is kind of like free money since the new charge isn't applied to my credit card.

So that's the world. In the world, you consistently get nothing for free. Nothing. Then there's the spiritual realm. In the spiritual realm, those who have been saved by Christ have a wealth of resources at their disposal, all given as a gracious, unmerited gift from a holy, loving, giving God.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. (Ephesians 1:3-4)
Of course, our salvation was in fact quite costly.
knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. (1 Peter 1:18-19)
What an amazing, gracious, God we serve, that He would give His Son to purchase lowly sinners! What a loving Christ we serve, that He would lay down His life to redeem those sinners!
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
Salvation is no mere "store credit;" no, it is indeed a gift. A magnanimous gift from a magnificent God. Oh, that we might serve Him well!

Now that all of that has been said, I do need to use up these store credits before I forget that I have them (again). Anybody need any shoes? While I go online shoe-shopping, why don't you take some time to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

25 February 2017

Equipping Eve: On Choosing the Good Part


Ladies, open your Bible to Luke 10 and let’s take a look at the familiar story of Mary and Martha and ask ourselves: Are we choosing the good part?

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

The following resource from Grace to You was used in this episode of Equipping Eve:
Bible Questions and Answers, Part 65.

Additional Resources
Equipping Eve: How Healthy Is the Women's Ministry in Your Church?
Equipping Eve: Have We Left Our First Love?
Equipping Eve: What Is Sanctification?

24 February 2017

This 'n' That

I don't know what to write about today. How's that for exciting honesty? If you've read this blog for any period of time, you know this has happened to me before. Some days, there's just nothing worth writing about. Or at least, there's nothing in my head worth writing about, except, of course, the fact that I have nothing to write about.

More often than not, when I hit these creativity walls, it's not for lack of things to discuss, it is simply due to a lack of things that would be wise to discuss in such a public forum. Blogs, Facebook, and other forms of social media are great outlets for teaching and creativity, but they are not the ideal means for us to discuss the inner wonderings (or wanderings) of our minds and hearts. When we use these means to this end, we ultimately indulge in selfie righteousness as we seek validation from our 4 billion Facebook friends.

With that in mind, I'll keep my words this week to a minimum and encourage you to settle in with a cup of tea (or coffee or cocoa or soda or water) while you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

17 February 2017

This 'n' That

There cannot be a flock without a shepherd; neither is there a shepherd truly without a flock. The two must go together. They are the fullness of each other. As the church is the fullness of him that filleth all in all, so we rejoice to remember that "of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace." That I am like a sheep is a sorry reflection; but that I have a shepherd charms away the sorrow and creates a new joy. It even becomes a gladsome thing to be weak, that I may rely on his strength; to be full of wants, that I may draw from his fullness; to be shallow and often at my wit's end, that I may be always regulated by his wisdom. Even so doth my shame redound to his praise. Not to you, ye great and mighty, who lift your heads high, and claim for yourselves honor: not for you is peace, not to you is rest; but unto you, ye lowly ones, who delight in the valley of humiliation, and feel yourselves to be taken down in your own esteem—to you it is that the Shepherd becomes dear; and to you will he give to lie down in green pastures beside the still waters. 
- Charles Spurgeon, "The Sheep and Their Shepherd"
How grateful we should be for our Good Shepherd! Scripture tells us that believers are His sheep and in fact, Jesus Himself calls us "My sheep." We are His! We are His because He has elected us from before the foundation of the world, and we are His because He purchased us with His own precious, unblemished blood.

We are His and because we are His, we can never be plucked from His hand. What a gracious picture this offers the weary and war-torn Christian. To know that we may rest in His palm even now...such a comfort is merely a foretaste of the eternal life that has been promised to us. It is no wonder that we love this Savior of our souls and yet we long to love Him more, we long to serve Him better, indeed, we long for eternity when we can sing more perfectly,
My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
With that sweet hymn echoing through your mind, I hope you'll enjoy your week in review (kind of):

12 February 2017

Equipping Eve: Have We Left Our First Love?



At one time, the church at Ephesus was a stalwart body, sound in doctrine and intolerant of sin and error. Yet, in a sobering letter to this first-century church, Jesus Christ said these gut-wrenching words: “I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Is it possible to be zealous for sound doctrine but lacking in love for Christ?

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

Resources
Rekindling Your Love for Christ
The Lord's Word to His Church: Ephesus
Ephesus: When Love Grows Cold

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: How Healthy Is the Women's Ministry in Your Church?
Equipping Eve: Stickers In My Bible
Equipping Eve: A Victim of Spontaneous Baptism

Sunday Morning Praise

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow)

10 February 2017

This 'n' That

I love waffles. I mean, who doesn't love waffles? If you don't love waffles, I have to seriously question your sanity.

So...waffle irons. They're fantastic because they make waffles, but they seem determined to do this under a complete cloak of secrecy. Oh, sure, that little green light on the top is supposed to blink or glow when the waffle is done, but let's be honest, that little light is useless. That little green light of mine, it does not shine. Or it does shine...all the time. Yeah, so that's not helpful at telling me when the batter has become waffley deliciousness.

I ask the question then: why not a window? Why not a little window on the top of the waffle iron so you can monitor the progress of your waffles? We are wearing computers on our wrists, for crying out loud, so why can't we develop a windowed waffle iron? And this one may claim to be "smart" and know the perfect cooking time for my preferred waffle color, but how does it know?

These are the things I ponder when I am trying to escape everything else that plagues my mind. What's the spiritual significance? Well...um...here you go: it doesn't matter if we think we've closed the blinds on the window of our soul, God still sees the thoughts of our mind and the true condition of our hearts. Now, if any of you pastors decide to use this for a sermon illustration on Sunday, I'll expect to receive my royalty check next week.

Well, it is Friday (hooray!). Why not whip up a batch of waffles, pour a cup of coffee, and sit down to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

03 February 2017

This 'n' That

I am thankful for the Lord's provision and equipping. I am thankful for circumstances that challenge me practically, mentally, and emotionally. I am thankful for opportunities, whether at work or elsewhere, that push me outside my comfort zone, because there are times when I discover that my comfort zone has expanded along the way without me realizing it.

Yes, I am amazed at God's equipping, kindness, and graciousness extended toward me in all things.

Even better than His provision for daily needs or practical equipping in daily life is His spiritual equipping of His saints through His Word. Sixty-six books; He has given us 66 books! They are His words, and, written by men carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21), they are inspired, inerrant, and infallible in their original manuscripts. Each of these books, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21, points to or reveals to us the only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. How good of God to give us such a clear way to know His Son!

Do you treasure this word? Do you look to it for daily nourishment? Indeed, it is through this word that God has truly equipped us for everything pertaining to life and godliness. May we not disdain it by neglecting it.

If you haven't taken time to read the Bible yet today, stop reading this blog and go do that. When you're done, come back and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

27 January 2017

This 'n' That

I love the story of Joseph in Genesis. Reading through these chapters again, I'm struck anew by God's sovereignty in all of our circumstances.

Fast-forward to our Lord Jesus Christ. He was God incarnate, with all the authority and sovereign power of His Father. He could have felled the soldiers who came to arrest Him in the garden. He could have walked away from the jeers and abuse at his mock trials. He could have, with just a word, destroyed the soldiers who beat Him. He could have come down from the cross.

But He didn't.

Why?

For the joy that was before Him, He endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). For those sinners the Father had given Him, He died (Romans 5:8-10). Out of love and obedience to His Father, He humbled Himself to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8).

What a magnificent Christ we serve! May we fix our eyes firmly on Him, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, and not grow weary in this life, but rather look to the next, when we will be with Him forever.

Of course, until that time, we still live on this earth, and so the close of another week means the opportunity for you to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

25 January 2017

Grace Upon Grace


For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. (John 1:16)

If I was to describe [a believer] from the Scripture character, I should say, he is one whose heart is athirst for God, for his glory, his image, his presence; his affections are fixed upon an unseen Savior; his treasures, and consequently his thoughts, are on high, beyond the bounds of sense. Having experienced much forgiveness, he is full of bowels of mercy to all around; and having been often deceived by his own heart, he dares trust it no more, but lives by faith in the Son of God, for wisdom, righteousness, and sanctification, and derives from him grace for grace; sensible that without him he has not sufficiency even to think a good thought.

But was I to describe him from experience, especially at some times, how different would the picture be? Though he knows that communion with God is his highest privilege, he too seldom finds it so...He takes up the Bible, conscious that it is the fountain of life and true comfort; yet perhaps, while he is making the reflection, he feeds a secret distaste, which prompts him to lay it down, and give his preference to a newspaper. He needs not to be told of the vanity and uncertainty of all beneath the sun; and yet is almost as much elated or cast down by a trifle, as those who have their portion in this world. He believes that all things shall work together for his good, and that the most high God appoints, adjusts, and overrules all his concerns; yet he feels the risings of fear, anxiety, and displeasure, as though the contrary was true.

How can these things be, or why are they permitted?...By these exercises he teaches us more truly to know and feel the utter depravity and corruption of our whole nature, that we are indeed defiled in every part. His method of salvation is likewise hereby exceedingly endeared to us: we see that it is and must be of grace, wholly of grace; and that the Lord Jesus Christ, and his perfect righteousness is and must be our all in all.

—John Newton

22 January 2017

Equipping Eve: How Healthy Is the Women's Ministry in Your Church?


A recent article by Melissa Kruger asks the question, “How healthy is the women’s ministry in your church?” What a great question! In this episode, we will discuss Kruger’s article, as well as look at the biblical portrait of women.

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

Below is a list of resources to accompany this episode of Equipping Eve:
How Healthy Is the Women's Ministry in Your Church? (Melissa Kruger)
The Biblical Portrait of Women: Setting the Record Straight (John MacArthur)

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: The Wisdom and Witness of Anna
Equipping Eve: The Cross of Christ
Equipping Eve: How to Study the Bible

Sunday Morning Praise

O Worship the King

20 January 2017

This 'n' That

I hate to say it, but there is a word that we as Christians need to stop using. Wait, scratch that. We need to stop overusing it. That word is: blessing.

Yes, blessing. I know, I heard you gasp. I hear you muttering under your breath, "Why, I'm not sure she's even a Christian!"

My guess is if you asked, she'd say she feels "blessed."
Listen, the next time you are in conversation with your Christian brethren, I want you to pay attention to just how often this word is used. Then I want you to truthfully acknowledge how often it is used genuinely. My unscientific guess is that, more often than not, we (yes, let's include all of us) use this word because we think we have to. We think that, if we don't call everything a blessing, people might think we are grumbling, or in sin, or not even Christians at all. Be honest—I'm describing you right now, aren't I?

The irony is, the more we use it, the more we sound like we are just trying to convince ourselves. "Yes, that splinter embedded in my finger was a real blessing, and it was a blessing when I couldn't find the tweezers to get it out, because then I was blessed by the subsequent pain. It was a blessing for me to realize just how much pain a small thing like a splinter can create. The blessing that came from the subsequent infection was blessed, too. Then it was a blessing to be able to apply antibiotic ointment, which in itself is a real blessing. That was all followed by the blessing of applying the bandage to my finger, which by this point was feeling like the most blessed finger any blessed person ever had."

I realize I may be coming across as a bit of a grouch here, and my example above is hopefully a bit exaggerated. We, as Christians, most certainly should be recognizing and acknowledging the blessings of God in all of our situations, both good and bad. Further, we should boldly and always praise and thank Him for these great blessings, again, both good and bad. We should proclaim the blessings of God to all who can or will hear. I do not deny this; in fact, I heartily commend you to do so daily.

The problem is, when we speak this way, if we do not genuinely believe what Scripture tells us, namely that all good things come from God and that even His discipline and trials are good, then others can see right through our hypocritical speech. Let us not be defined by hypocrisy, proclaiming our thankfulness for blessing through the lips of a forced smile. Are you in a trial yet you see the blessed hand of God in the midst of it? It is okay to declare thankfulness for that blessing through tears, and in fact you should. God sees our heart, not our play-acting. Don't patronize Him or His Word by pretending otherwise.

Sometimes it is enough just to know that He is good and gracious to bless His children.

With that, I hope you'll be blessed by the blessing of this blessed week in review (kind of):