24 April 2018

Equipping Eve: A Whole New Wardrobe

Ladies, we like to be well dressed, don’t we? And while we certainly don’t want to neglect our outward appearance, we know that Scripture emphasizes the greater importance of our spiritual adornment. When Christ saves us, we are given, in essence, a whole new wardrobe. The best part? This is one wardrobe that will never go out of style!

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: The Incomparable Christ
Equipping Eve: God Never Promised Us a Rose Garden
Equipping Eve: Exposition for Women and Productive Boredom

20 April 2018

This 'n' That

We all sing or maybe even dance when we think nobody is watching. Come on, admit it. At some point in your life, you've sung in the shower, or while driving, or even busted a move in what you thought was an empty grocery aisle (listen, in my defense, I was only 9 years old!). Hey, this lady felt free to dance while waiting at the bus stop!

Those of us who are hopelessly tone deaf have to be even more careful about when and where we decide to exercise our vocal cords. But then, there are always those who just don't care. They're so confident (or conceited) that they relish the idea that others around them are gaping in awe at their most likely lack of singing ability. These people are the type who FaceTime their like-minded friends while sitting at a stoplight and, together, sing songs like Abba's Super Trouper at the top of their lungs.

Yep, I witnessed it. I only wish I could have recorded it to share, but trying to record and pay attention to the road don't mix. Unless, of course, you are this young lady. Apparently she was able to deftly utilize her driving, singing, and recording skills simultaneously. Yes, friends, these are the people with whom we are sharing the road. Drive carefully. Sing softly. And please, if you're going to sing out loud, select a better song!

Great, now that song is stuck in my head. Oh well, better than one of those frustratingly awful 7-11 "praise and worship" songs, I guess. While I go try to knock it out of my brain, why don't you relax and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

13 April 2018

This 'n' That

The evangelical conference world has certainly given us plenty to talk about this week, hasn't it? (If you don't know what I'm referring to, don't worry about it, and consider yourself fortunate).

I've no desire to engage the social gospel issue currently at hand. I'd just be adding more murmurs to the already maddening noise, and there's simply no point in that. I would simply encourage all of us to engage this topic, and others, biblically, and to test anybody else's engagement of it against scripture. That means testing a man's hot-button issue-based sermon against the Word, and determining whether it divides that Word properly.

It amazes me how Christians so easily forget and fail to keep the main thing the main thing. We mirror the world in this, ready to jump on the latest bandwagon and blow that trumpet until folks are finally tired of hearing about it and we move onto something else. Funny how we voice our frustrations when the world does this, but are totally blind to our own guilt in this matter. Worst of all, the divisions among Christians do not go unnoticed by the world, and when we fail to display the unity that we are to share in Christ, we injure our witness.

That's why we must keep the main thing, or rather, the main Person, front and center: Christ. We must keep the gospel—the true gospel—at the heart of all our speech and behavior. It's astonishing, really, how difficult that can be in this world of constant political, material, and social distractions. May God help us keep our focus.

Speaking of distractions, I have another list of them for you today! So why not take a few minutes this weekend to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

06 April 2018

This 'n' That

Tis the season, around here anyway, for schizophrenic weather. The week began chilly, then temperatures soared to near 80 degrees on Tuesday. Unfortunately, that lovely reprieve from winter was bookended by severe thunderstorms in the morning and evening, as well as a tornado watch. Wednesday found us bundled back up and watching a few flurries float around. Now, we are waiting to see if accumulating snow will actually arrive overnight as currently predicted. It's always at this time of year that I ask, "Remind me again why I ever left Southern California?"

I actually do appreciate the change of seasons, though. They provide a tangible, recurrent illustration of watching something move from death to life...and only God can do that. As unpredictable as the seasons (or at least spring) may seem to man, they are perfectly designed and timed by the Creator Himself. And when it is time for new life to emerge from the ground, it will, just as God commands.

Likewise, when it is time for a man or woman to be born again, to be granted new life in Christ, it will happen, just as God commands. Some may wonder or even lament that they were not saved earlier in life, and the sentiment is understood, but the reality is that they did not come to saving faith in Christ one moment too soon or too late for God's plan. That truth, friends, is mind blowing and praise eliciting.

Thank God for His power over the seasons and, even more, thank God that salvation is wholly His work.

Okay, while I go try and find my scarf, gloves, and boots (guess I put them away too early), why don't you cozy up with a cup of tea (or coffee or hot chocolate or milk or water or whatever) and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

01 April 2018

He Is Not Here

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. So the disciples went away again to their own homes.

But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.

(John 20:1-18)

Alleluia, He is risen!

Resurrection Sunday Morning Praise

Christ the Lord Is Risen Today

31 March 2018

The Original Plan

Saturday. The day between Christ’s death and, for all the disciples knew, merely the next day.

Still not understanding all that Jesus had prophesied about His resurrection, His earliest followers no doubt felt a measure of great despair on that Saturday. We can conclude this from the actions of the women, who hurried to the tomb early the next morning to properly prepare Christ’s body:
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. They were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?" 
(Mark 16:1-3)
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. (Luke 24:1)

30 March 2018

This 'n' That

Oh yeah, this is totally what I do when it rains.
Well, "spring" arrived last week. Yes, the daffodils are blooming, the birds are singing...and in many places in the midwest it's 45 degrees and raining. The pitter-patter of the rain on the roof is enough to lull you to sleep for days, and the overwhelming amount of rain has caused those lovely daffodils to bend low, as if they've given up on life.

Oh well, such is life on this earth! The changing seasons, the rain, clouds, and sun, all remind that there is a Creator who is sovereign over all these things.
Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD from the heavens;
Praise Him in the heights!

Praise Him, all His angels;
Praise Him, all His hosts!

Praise Him, sun and moon;
Praise Him, all stars of light!

Praise Him, highest heavens,
And the waters that are above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the LORD,
For He commanded and they were created.

He has also established them forever and ever;
He has made a decree which will not pass away. (Psalm 148:1-6)
This same Creator was sovereign over the events of Christ's death and resurrection, upon which we reflect this weekend. Let us take comfort in knowing that this is our God—One who has ordained all things that come to pass, One who is surprised by nothing, and One who is working all things for His ultimate glory.

If your weather report is like mine, then you likely won't be venturing far today, so why not use the opportunity to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

26 March 2018

Whose Church?

There is a disturbing tendency rampant in Christianity. While it may not always be deliberate, it is nevertheless worrisome and, if one is boldly honest, potentially even damaging.
I attend [insert pastor’s name here]’s church.
Yes, he attended such-and-such seminary and/or was/is affiliated with thus-and-so ministry.
Hopefully the reader sees the problem with the above scenario. Further, hopefully the reader is not blind—whether willfully or ignorantly—to the truthful reality that such conversations actually do occur.

It is acceptable to like, appreciate, encourage, and even praise our pastors. They have been called to preach the Word, to proclaim the gospel of Christ, and to teach the whole truth of Scripture without compromise. That is not a simple job. It does not come without spiritual warfare, fatigue, and times of doubt. If our pastor is faithful to Christ and to His Word, we ought to joyfully share that with those who are inquiring about the body of believers with whom we worship and serve.

24 March 2018

Equipping Eve: The Incomparable Christ

Who is Jesus Christ? He is the image of the invisible God. He is the Creator. He is God incarnate. He is the head of the Church. He is the Savior. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is incomparable.

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

Additional Resource
Introduction to Colossians (sermon by Pastor Bill Vine)

23 March 2018

This 'n' That

There is a squirrel that's been coming to the feeder in my backyard that has lost his tail. The poor little thing! With the many unpleasant members of wildlife that roam around here, I suspect he was attacked by something, whether it was a hawk that didn't properly latch onto its prey or the neighbor's cat failing to fully immobilize his victim, or a mangy coyote, this poor little squirrel has been left with only a red nub.

Watching this squirrel maneuver through the woods is interesting. He seems to hop, rather than scurry as his squirrel counterparts do. He obviously cannot climb trees or leap from branch to branch. I have no idea how long he has been this way, but it's incredible to see him function. It also makes me a bit sad. When God designed squirrels, He clearly had a reason for every detail, including their bushy tails.
A squirrel’s tail is much more than a fashion accessory. It serves 3 main functions that enable the squirrel to survive: protection, balance and communication. (Source)
This furry, tail-less rodent has no way to protect himself from the elements or to communicate with others. How long will he survive like this? Only the Lord knows, but watching him reminds me of our God's great creativity and deliberate intent in creation. We did not evolve from primordial goo, and apes are not our ancestors. Every muscle, joint, and eyelash has a purpose and indeed, God knows even the number of hairs on our head. What an incredible, amazing God He is, and what an immeasurable privilege it is to serve the One who designed and created us!

Okay, while I grab my binoculars to get another look at Tail-less Tommy, why don't you grab something sweet to munch on while you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

16 March 2018

This 'n' That

No, this isn't the picture.
In my house hangs a picture of a flute. I found it years ago at an art show in Chicago. I originally bought this picture for two primary reasons. First, it was drawn in pastels, a medium that has always held the fascination of this artistically deficient blogger. I remember wanting to learn to draw with pastels as a young teenager. Suffice it to say that, if you don't have artistic talent, it doesn't matter what tool is in your hand, you still can't draw! I also purchased this picture because I once played the flute (I think I actually did that well, in spite of my tone deafness) and always love to hear flute music. It's one of my favorite instruments.

I don't play the flute anymore (though I admit that I wish I did and I have picked it up a few times over the years), but this picture remains on my wall as a reminder. It reminds me of junior high days gone by, when life, which seemed so overwhelming and complicated at the time, was actually quite simple and enjoyable. It reminds me of the beauty and complexity of music, and what a great gift it is from our gracious Heavenly Father. It reminds me that not everything will come naturally or easily. Some things take practice, and some things take time to work themselves out. In the end, with perseverance, all the notes and scales come together into a beautiful masterpiece.

In an odd way, this picture reminds me of Romans 8:28.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Now, when we fallen humans try to execute our musical masterpieces called life, we stumble and we hit bad notes (to put it mildly). What a blessed comfort it is, though, to know that even those sour notes are being used by our God—indeed, they were even written by Him into the score—to bring things together for His glory and our good. What a remarkable God we serve!

Well, while I ponder whether I should pull out my flute and try to remember my scales, why don't you be thankful you are out of earshot as you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

12 March 2018

Equipping Eve: Hopeology

John MacArthur has said, “Life without hope is bleak.” He’s right. The reality is, Christians are the only ones who know what true hope is because Christians are the only ones who know the One who is the source of true hope, Jesus Christ.

Additional Resource

09 March 2018

This 'n' That

Well, it's coming. Daylight Savings Time (DST) arrives on Sunday. Yes, it's the time of year when folks show up late to church, or, if on time, are yawning with exhaustion from the loss of an hour of sleep. Nothing says "Happy Spring" like increases in heart attacks and car accidents.

I once lived in a place that did not observe DST (only part of the state opted not to change its clocks). At the time, it annoyed me simply because I didn't understand why that part of the state couldn't be "normal" like the rest of the country. Now, I miss it. Why? Because I have come to the conclusion that DST is not overly useful, particularly in this age of electricity. Let's face it, even if it is still light outside, I am probably going to turn on the lights in my office or family room so that I can be most effective at whatever task needs to be accomplished. Most of us who work do so in well-lit offices, even though the sun is up during our core hours, do we not?

In 2013, National Geographic reported on some of the studies that have been conducted to determine the benefit, if any, of DST.
Environmental economist Hendrik Wolff, of the University of Washington, and colleagues found that the practice did indeed drop lighting and electricity use in the evenings—but that higher energy demands during darker mornings completely canceled out the evening gains. [...]

In terms of energy savings, Downing said, Wolff's and other studies are no longer in much dispute: It's clear that DST doesn't save energy in the big picture.

Part of the story that is often ignored, he added, is the energy required to get people from place to place—gasoline. In fact the petroleum and automobile industries have always been huge supporters of DST, Downing said.

"When you give Americans more light at the end of the day, they really do want to get out of the house. And they go to ballparks, or to the mall and other places, but they don't walk there. Daylight saving reliably increases the amount of driving that Americans do, and gasoline consumption tracks up with daylight saving." (Source)
And for those of us who grew up thinking that DST was necessary for farmers, well, we were lied to (shocking, I know). According to the article cited above, farmers were a group most strongly opposed to the idea.

So, I will change my clocks tomorrow night, simply because it does no good to rebel against this particular system. Let it be known, though, that I am not thrilled about it. Also, a huge shoutout to smartphone designers for designing those clocks to change themselves. Otherwise, I most certainly would not awaken in time to get to church!

Okay, now that this week's grumbling-fest is over, before you take a pre-DST nap, why not take a few minutes to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

02 March 2018

This 'n' That

Shockingly, I don't really have much to say today. It's been a very long, not-so-fabulous week and my brain is absolutely fried. Forming coherent thoughts—much less putting them together into equally coherent sentences—is not something that I feel I can excel at this week. Our dear brother Charles Spurgeon, however, never seemed unable to voice his thoughts clearly:
Dear brethren, do not despise the day of small things. Rest assured that God does not save by numbers, and that results are not in the spiritual kingdom in proportion to numbers....

Again, and again, and again, repeat the feeble stroke, and there shall come to be as much result from it as from one tremendous blow. God accepts your little works if they are done in faith in his dear Son. God will give success to your little works: God will educate you by your little works to do greater works; and your little works may call out others who shall do greater works by far than ever you shall be able to accomplish. Evangelists, go on preaching at the street corner--you that visit the low lodging-houses, go on. Get into the room and talk of Jesus Christ there as you have done. You that go into the country towns on the Sabbath and speak on the village-greens of Christ, go on with it. I am glad to see you, but I am glad to miss you when I know you are about the Master's work. We don't want to keep the salt in the box: let it be rubbed into the putrid mass to stay the putrification. We don't want the seed forever in the corn-bin: let it be scattered and it will give us more. Oh! brethren and sisters, wake up if any of you are asleep. Don't let an ounce of strength in this church be wasted--not a single grain of ability, either in the way of doing, or praying, or giving, or holy living. Spend and be spent, for who hath despised the day of small things? The Lord encourage weak believers, and the Lord accept the efforts of feeble workers, and send to both his richest benediction for Christ's sake. Amen.

—Charles Spurgeon, Encouragement for the Depressed
Do not worry, friend, if you feel that you are a feeble worker for the Lord. Strive only to be a faithful worker. With that, I hope you have time today to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

23 February 2018

This 'n' That

Consider the trail you are leaving behind you. Does it lead to truth?
Men die. Women die. All of us, unless the Lord should come for His Church, will die a physical death. Let us pray, then, that we would leave behind a legacy of faithfulness to Christ and His Word, no matter the cost.

This is what has long disappointed me about groups such as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). These are organizations, yes, but they are made up of men and women who profess Christ, but whose willingness to compromise His truth is troubling. The early ecumenical compromise of groups such as these should serve as a warning to us, even as individuals. May our legacy not be tainted by our striving to placate everyone. May we seek only to please and bring glory and honor to Jesus Christ alone.

As one example of such compromise, I've long been troubled by this interview Billy Graham did with Robert Schuller, wherein he clearly states that a person can be saved apart from knowledge of Jesus Christ. Such a message is a false, damning gospel, no matter who speaks it. I hear or read people justifying this statement of Graham's by attributing it to his declining health. Considering the interview took place back in 1997, I'm not certain that's a robust argument.

An eagerness for unhealthy ecumenism and compromise can be traced throughout the history of the BGEA. This is clearly documented in Iain Murray's book, Evangelicalism Divided. I urge everyone to read this book. There, Murray writes,
Achieving 'common ground' with Roman Catholicism is one of the things for which [writer] Mark Noll commends Graham. But agreement with non-evangelicals has gone still further. In 1978, McCall's magazine quoted Graham as having said, 'I used to believe that pagans in far countries were lost if they did not have the gospel of Christ preached to them. I no longer believe that.' (Murray, Iain H. Evangelicalism Divided. The Banner of Truth Trust: 2001. 73)
BSF as an organization, too, has long sought to befriend the Roman Catholic Church, as described in founder A. Wetherell Johnson's biography.

The purpose of my words here is not to appear judgmental of a specific man or woman, for we are all weak and fallen individuals. I write this instead as a means of encouraging us to test all things against scripture, for fruit can sometimes appear shiny on the outside but be found a host to worms on the inside. God's Word never returns void, but that does not mean we remain silent when that Word is compromised. Visible wayward fruit ought to remind us that none of us are above deception. We are all sustained in the truth by God's grace alone, and He must be our daily lifeline, through the reading and study of scripture and through prayer, so that we remain true to His Word and His will.

Well, if you're still reading (I suspect I lost some of you forever), I do hope that you enjoy this week in review (kind of):

19 February 2018

Out of the House of Bondage

Sin enslaves the soul. O how a man wears himself out in the service of sin—it wastes his body, breaks his sleep, and distracts his mind. Sin says to one, defraud; to another, be unchaste; to another, take revenge; to another, make a false vow. But sinners are content to be under the command of sin; they are willing to be slaves; they love their chains; they wear their sins, not as fetters, but as ornaments; they rejoice in iniquity. What freedom has a sinner to his own confusion, when he can do nothing but what sin will have him do? He is enslaved in the house of bondage.

Satan is a tyrant over the souls of men. He fills their heads with error and their hearts with malice. He rules men's minds and blinds them with ignorance. He rules their wills, and captures their hearts to obey him. Every man by nature is in the house of bondage; he grinds in the devil's mill and is at his command. How could those swine but run, when the devil entered into them? When the devil entered into Judas, and bade him betray Christ, he would do it, though he hanged himself. It is a sad and dismal case to be in the house of bondage under the power and tyranny of Satan. He hurries men on to perdition!

But God takes his elect out of the house of bondage, beats off the chains and fetters of sin, and brings them into the glorious liberty of the children of God. The saints are made spiritual kings to rule and conquer their corruptions. It is a matter of the highest praise and thanksgiving to be taken out of the bondage of enslaving lusts and made kings to reign in glory forever! Jesus Christ redeems captives, he ransoms sinners by price, and rescues them by force as David took a lamb out of the mouth of the roaring lion. Oh, what a mercy it is to be brought out of the house of bondage to be made subjects of the Prince of Peace!

—Thomas Watson

Further Reading
Resting in the Immutability of God
Vessels of Mercy
To Him Who Is Able

16 February 2018

This 'n' That

I definitely cannot eat wooden blocks right now.
Over the past couple of weeks, I've been enduring a flareup of TMJ (well, technically TMD [temporomandibular disorder], but most people refer to it as TMJ, even though that is actually the joint, not the disorder. You get the idea). It's a mild case, so I truly can't complain, but it is astonishing how 1) you crave things you haven't craved in months or even years, like Tootsie Pops or chips, but know that eating such things will cause pain and prolong the problem and 2) if you do cheat, you know you shouldn't have. It doesn't take long for that jaw to tighten up and remind you that it needs time to heal, too!

Our bodies may be fallen and, as such, prone to illness and injury, but God nevertheless designed them to still know what is best. Right now, my jaw knows what is not good for me. If I eat even a slice of toast, I end up taking a pill to relieve the pain that I've caused. That's right, I cannot even eat toast without regretting it. And let me tell you, I am getting really tired of hot cereal for breakfast! When morning rolls around, all I want is toast with my breakfast. When afternoon rolls around, I often think about hard candy or crunchy snacks. I want what I cannot have.

It's often like that with us, isn't it? We want what we cannot have. Therein lies the magnificence and miraculousness of regeneration. We who once craved and delighted in our sin, by God's grace and by the power of the Holy Spirit, find that, upon our salvation, our desire for our sin disappears. Oh yes, we do still sin, and consciously so; indeed, while on this earth we will always find ourselves in a Romans 7 struggle! Still, our desire and the inner craving of our heart is for holiness so that we might bear fruit that is worthy of the gospel by which we have been saved. This is the power of Christ. This is the power of the Gospel. This is a good gift from a loving, generous God. How thankful we must be for such grace. How worthy is He of our praise for His outpouring of that grace!

Okay, I guess I'll go look for something soft to eat. Marshmallows? Applesauce? Let me know if you have any good ideas, and in the meantime, please also enjoy your week in review (kind of):

13 February 2018

Erasing the Grey (Repost)

In light of the release of the third film in the Fifty Shades trilogy, I thought it might be helpful to repost this article and episode of Equipping Eve. This was written (and the episode was recorded) at the height of the popularity of the book, Fifty Shades of Grey, and in anticipation of the release of the first film three years ago. Three years later, every word rings true. This is simply not material that should be capturing the minds and hearts of Christians.

Erasing the Grey

This weekend, the movie theaters will be flooded with women who are eager to feed their carnal, fallen flesh with a feast of salacious, sinful immorality, otherwise known as Fifty Shades of Grey. The book-turned-movie that has been dubbed by the secular media as “mommy porn” has captured the lusts of millions, and there is no doubt that this has affected the professing Christian church just as much as it has secular society. Ladies, sisters in Christ, do not allow yourself to be found among the masses.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Phil 4:8)
Fifty Shades of Grey, whether it is the book or the film, does not comply with Paul’s command in the verse above. The story is not true, it is not honorable, it is not right, it most certainly is not pure or lovely, it is not of good repute and she who thinks Fifty Shades of Grey is worthy of any title of excellence or praise is a woman who is indeed deceived.

10 February 2018

Equipping Eve: Unshakeable Joy

“Consider it all joy.” “Rejoice in the Lord always.” The Christian life is a serious thing, and we are not promised lives of ease. Yet, Scripture calls us to rejoice in all circumstances, and when one considers the blessings that are ours in Jesus Christ, why would we not?

Further Listening

09 February 2018

This 'n' That

With Valentine's Day rapidly approaching, I feel compelled to share a very important truth with you: Jesus is not your boyfriend.

I know it's shocking, but it's true. I realize that, somewhere, someone is currently writing a blog post about how our prayers are like love letters to Jesus. And in another corner of the blogosphere, someone is composing a well-intentioned post to single Christians to remember that Jesus is the best valentine they can have. And in still another, more dimly lit corner, author John Eldredge is still mooning over his heart-shaped cow pies from Jesus.

Nevertheless, Jesus is not our divine boyfriend. He is our friend, to be sure. More than that, He is our Savior, Redeemer, Lord, Shepherd, Life, Truth, King. He is indeed a personal God, yet, because He is God, we do not go on playdates with Him or belittle Him by cheekily describing our coffee dates with Jesus as though He were the divine equivalent of our college roommate. We praise Him because He is worthy of our praise. We worship Him because He is the only One worth worshiping. We revere Him because He is who He is.

So, as Hallmark's favorite holiday approaches, don't be deluded by the mushy-gushy "Christian" nonsense that will no doubt be found in abundance all over the internet. Look to your King, your gracious, saving, loving, personal, yet almighty King, and look to Him with biblical fidelity. Nothing could be purer or more sincere.

Okay, while I go track down a bag of my favorite Valentine candy, why don't you spend a little time enjoying your week in review (kind of):

02 February 2018

This 'n' That

When it comes to science and medicine, I continually find myself fascinated. Daily, in fact. There have been so many helpful and desperately needed advances in medicine over the decades and centuries. From better understanding of natural remedies, to creating lifesaving or quality of life-improving medications and devices, we most certainly are blessed to live in a time such as this.

True, many chronic conditions remain just that—chronic. But many are now tolerable thanks to modern medicine. Take, for example, the 2016 approval of the artificial pancreas. This was a huge advancement in the treatment of Type I diabetes, and researchers have not stopped with this initial device. I was reading this article in Massachusetts General's magazine, Proto, and was excited to see that there is ongoing development of a device that would not only regulate insulin, but also glucagon. While no man-made device will ever function exactly like the God-created human body, it is amazing to see how God has gifted fallen men to discover and create as they have.

And that leads to yet another thing that makes me marvel: the unbelief of so many doctors and scientists. I once attended a cardiology seminar, and heard the young cardiologist say something to the effect of: "You see, the heart evolved to..." I almost laughed out loud. How could this man, so intelligent and obviously gifted, deny the reality of a Creator?
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. (1 Corinthians 3:19)
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. (Romans 1:18-23)
Ah, yes, that is how they can deny the existence of their Creator! Sin. The Fall. Deception. Pride. Man simply cannot accept that he is not the highest being.

Still, God uses even fallen men to advance His purposes. We certainly see that throughout Scripture with men like Pharaoh and Pilate and others. So we, as redeemed children of the King who must live in this broken world, take advantage of the gifts God has given us through modern medicine. We thank our good and gracious Father for the way that He heals through these advances and through the hands of these men whom He has gifted, even if they refuse to acknowledge His sovereignty. Finally, we take comfort in knowing that, even if earthly medicine cannot cure our ailments, one day we will be with our Lord Jesus Christ in glory. There will be no more tears, no more sickness, no more death, no more sin. Oh, what a glorious day that will be!

Well, since I live in Allergy Alley, I suppose it's probably time for me to take some sort of a pill. While I do that, why don't you sit back and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

30 January 2018

Equipping Eve: God Never Promised Us a Rose Garden

Contrary to what the Word of Faith preachers would have us believe, we are not promised lives of luxury as Christians. In fact, Scripture promises us quite the opposite. Scripture also promises us that God will strengthen us in our trials, sustain us in times of persecution, and grant us joy in all circumstances. God never promised us a rose garden, but we can still enjoy the fragrance of His grace and blessing in all things.

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: Have We Left Our First Love?
Equipping Eve: The Discipline of Grace (Part 1)
Equipping Eve: The Discipline of Grace (Part 2)

26 January 2018

This 'n' That

I love word search puzzles. I don't know why, I just do. Crosswords? No way. I never know enough pop culture to succeed at those. But word searches? Even as a kid, those books were a staple for me. They say things like that keep your brain sharp as you age, so perhaps I'm just planning ahead, knowing that I'll need some extra help in that area!

Often, as I search up and down, backward and forward, and diagonal for that one elusive word, I am reminded of those deceived and deceptive individuals who teach that the Bible is full of secret codes. Just read every seventh word of Isaiah backward while standing on your head and twirling a baton, and you might finally see what it is God has been trying to say to us this whole time!

Our God is not a God of chaos. He is a God of order. And He is not a God of secrets. If He were, why would He have given us the Bible in the first place? The Bible is clear, understandable, complete, and sufficient....just like its Author. There is no secret, gnostic knowledge to be discovered in the white spaces, or in a word jumble. We may search for a word, but we must read that word in context so that we can properly understand what God is saying. He doesn't speak in riddles, and He doesn't stutter. If we want to know what God says, we need only open His Word and read. What a gracious God we serve, who has made Himself known in such an explicit way!

Speaking of reading, as always, I have a few articles you might want to peruse, so why not grab your favorite snack and take a few minutes to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

19 January 2018

This 'n' That

Patience. They say it's a virtue. It's a quality I possessed as a child, but now, as an adult, I often feel as though I have to constantly re-learn the concept and at times feel it waning in the midst of exceptional circumstances. Of course, I am reminded of—and convicted by—the fact that patience must characterize the people 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 5:22-24)
So when I feel my blood pressure start to rise, whether sitting on hold for what seems like endless hours (which is happening as I write this), or nearing frustration with others, I pray that God would bring to my remembrance His gracious, long-suffering patience with me, such an undeserving sinner.
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
Unfortunately, I am still being sanctified and have a long way to go to refine my patience. I am sure I am not alone in this. But if God has been so good to save me and forgive me in spite of my sin, then surely I can be aware of my shortcomings in this area and be deliberate in my reactions so that I represent Him well and bring glory to Him in all things, no matter how seemingly insignificant.

Well, now that confession time is over, why not sit back and take a few minutes to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

13 January 2018

Equipping Eve: Feeding on God's Word in 2018

With a new year often comes the start of a new Bible reading plan and Bible study. How should we approach both our reading and study of the God's Word, and what are some resources to help keep us focused and accountable this year?

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

Bible Reading Plans for the New Year
Every Woman's Grace (resources from the women's ministry of Grace Community Church)

12 January 2018

This 'n' That

I've long lamented my handwriting. On any given day, depending on the medium, the setting, and/or my mood, it might be a sloppy cursive, a sloppy printing, a slightly more legible printing, or a sloppy "prursive."

The struggle for not only legible, but admirable, handwriting, is one that I've kept to myself. Whenever I see that someone—man or woman—writes with a beautiful, flowing script, I envy them. Yes, I'll admit it. And so I keep trying to force myself to write neatly. Of course, my efforts aren't helped by the fact that I often am writing on my lap or writing in a hurry, but nevertheless, I strive.

My ongoing endeavors to write legibly have, I think, been greatly aided in recent days with the receipt of a fountain pen as a gift at Christmas. I've long been a slave to my favorite ballpoint pens, so this has been quite a change, and one that I believe has been for the better. No, the pen has not magically altered my handwriting into that magnificent script that I wish flowed effortlessly, but it has caused me to slow down and be more deliberate, even if just jotting notes. When you have a beautiful writing tool, you tend to want the output to reflect the instrument.

Of course, the typed word prevails these days, but studies have shown, and I think many of us can testify from experience, that our brains retain things better when we write by hand. Further, handwriting is so personal—who doesn't love to receive a handwritten note from a loved one, knowing they spent time and effort to relay an important message to you? I still have many small notes written by my grandmother, and seeing her handwriting brings back many wonderful memories of her.

You see, whether we like it or not, our handwriting is part of our legacy. It's true, sloppy writing will not taint memories, but would we rather not have those messages we've written be able to be shared for years to come? Oh, sure, we can type our thoughts, but how much more special is that handwritten note?

A far more important part of our legacy, however, is our witness for Christ. Whether our handwriting is akin to professional calligraphy or whether our readers must squint and turn the page in order to decipher our code, at the end of the day, it has no eternal significance. How we live for Christ, then, is far more important. How did we react to the joys and trials of life? Did our families and friends see our trust of God in even the most difficult circumstances? Did the gospel of God's grace drip from our lips at every opportunity? Did our children see us reading the Word, and praying to our Lord?

Let us each pray that our legacy is one that brings glory to God, even after we are gone. Even lovely handwriting will fade, but our witness for Christ will reach into eternity.

With that, why don't you take a few minutes to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

05 January 2018

This 'n' That

"Equipping Eve tree" created by Jerry Krider.
Well, we've nearly survived the first week of 2018. How did you fare? Are all of your resolutions, if you made any, still intact? Are you still enjoying your Christmas gifts, or have they already been shoved into a drawer or closet?

One of my favorites gifts that is definitely not hiding in a closet is this "Equipping Eve tree," designed and carved by artist Jerry Krider. Krider is an amazing woodworker and showcases his work at art shows, mostly in the Midwest, I believe. I have to say that this is a truly phenomenal piece, and I love it!

I've also been enjoying the electric blanket I received. Seriously, how have I gone this long without one? For someone who is always cold, this is a no-fail gift. Not to mention, it pairs extraordinarily well with the Elizabeth Prentiss biography that was also under the tree!

Still, all these are just material gifts and even the luster of our favorites will eventually fade. So here we are. It's the fifth day of 2018, life is slowly returning to "normal," and half of the country is experiencing a ridiculous cold spell and/or being pummeled by snow. I suppose it's a time of renewal in more ways than one, then! So as we reflect on whether we're maintaining our New Year's resolutions, and considering how useful our gifts might be throughout the year, we ought also be asking ourselves another far more important question: are we keeping our focus on Christ? Even amid the busyness of the holiday season, we may find ourselves immersed in advent devotionals and thoughts of Him. Yet, as the new year begins, and as we return to that "normal" spoken of earlier, we may be tempted to set Christ aside while we get our affairs in order for this new season.

Sure, we may not set aside our Bibles. After all, we all opened up to Genesis 1:1 on January 1, didn't we? We have to keep that Bible reading plan going at least until we get to Numbers! But even if our Bible reading plan is up to date, we can still end up setting aside our Lord, forgetting that He alone must be at the top of our list as we organize our earthly lives for another year.

With that, let me welcome and thank you for spending the first Friday of 2018 here at Do Not Be Surprised. Let's all take a few moments to enjoy the first week of 2018 in review (kind of):