Monday, September 22, 2014

God is in the Restoration Business



Wednesday, August 6, 2014

It's All a Gift

“No one knows who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” - Luke 10:22

 "You should always look at yourself and think, 'I can't believe I'm a Christian.' If you're a Christian, it's a miracle." - Tim Keller

"Belief in the Gospel is not in our DNA. Belief in the Gospel is a miracle God is constantly performing." - Ray Ortlund

"Your faith will not fail while God sustains it. You are not strong enough to fall away while God is resolved to hold you." - J.I. Packer

500 posts.  That's a lot of time, thought and effort...and guess what?  Every single one of them was a gift.  Many were directly inspired by topics that I was wrestling with or by things the Holy Spirit was showing me.  But every post was only done because I was given the ability, opportunity and insight by the God of the universe.

We like to think we are in control of so many things.  But as I read today..."proximity does not equal control."  I did not control my last breath or heartbeat.  I don't control the saving work of the Spirit in my life.  I didn't go out and seek faith in Jesus and call it my own.  It's all a gift.

God has taken it upon Himself to hold on to me.  My assurance of salvation does not lie in myself.  It lies with a covenant-keeping God.




http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-incalculable-wonder-of-being-a-christian

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Confessing Our Sins




http://www.desiringgod.org//blog/posts/confessing-our-sins-together

http://feedingonchrist.com/confess-sins-one-another/

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Evidence for the Eternal?

"I don't think God lets anyone peek around the curtain of eternity if they are not going to stay." - Tim Keller

Bottom line...start and end with the inspired Word of God.

From Hank Hanegraaff...



Popular interest in near-death experiences (NDEs) is at a fever pitch. From Raymond Moody's Life after Life to Eben Alexander's Proof of Heaven, to Mary Neal's To Heaven and Back, to Todd Burpo's Heaven Is for Real—and, of course, now the movie—NDEs have titillated the masses for the better part of a generation. New revelations ranging from the physical characteristics of the devil (three heads, earless, a nasty nose, and moldy teeth) and demons (green, long fingernails, hair made of fire), to descriptions of God the Father (blue eyes, yellow hair, and huge wings), God the Son (sea green-bluish eyes and a rainbow-colored horse), and God the Holy Spirit (bluish but hard to see), are captivating the minds of millions of evangelicals. The problem is there are significant liabilities associated with NDEs.


First, we should note that the substance of an NDE is inevitably informed by the worldview of the celestial traveler. And that is precisely the problem. The objective reference point of sacred Scripture has been supplanted by the subjective experiences of those who have allegedly had a foretaste of heaven. Thus, while Scripture knows nothing of human preexistence, Betty Eadie—in concert with her Mormon presuppositions—alleges that while being embraced by the light, she recognized the very Jesus that she had previously encountered in her preexistence. In like fashion, Raymond Moody and Eben Alexander—in accord with their presuppositions—view life after life as devoid of the judgment of an altogether holy God. As such, what I said in yesterday's Daily e-Truth bears repeating: the subjective recollections of near-death experiencers are wildly divergent and mutually contradictory; and thus, logically, they can all be wrong, but they cannot all be right.


What we have in Heaven Is for Real is something not even the biblical writers had the temerity to do. Among the biblical writers who "spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21), not one dared say that like his Lord he spoke authoritatively about heaven from firsthand knowledge. Think about the apostle Paul. In the Bible we are told that he was "caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell" (2 Corinthians 12:4). Unlike Colton Burpo, Paul was not permitted to speak about his "surpassingly great revelations" (v. 7). Nor did any one of the biblical writers dare prophesy the century of Christ's return—one of Colton's revelations was that his father Todd would be alive to fight in the battle of Armageddon.





https://soundcloud.com/askpastorjohn/how-real-is-the-book-heaven-is

http://blogs.lcms.org/2014/review-heaven-is-for-real

http://www.challies.com/articles/what-the-bible-says-about-the-heaven-books




Friday, April 18, 2014

Holy Week 2014

“Only through weakness and suffering could sin be atoned - it was the only way to end evil without ending us.” - Tim Keller

"Loving like Jesus loved means one thing - sacrifice."

"Our sins have to be Christ's sins or we shall perish forever." ~ Martin Luther

“If Christ is risen, nothing else matters. And if Christ is not risen—nothing else matters.” — Jaroslav Pelikan

"Through Christ, death has lost her sting. Christ is the Death of death." ~Martin Luther

"How can we remember his death w/o sorrowing over the sin which made that death necessary?" - C.H. Spurgeon

"'Why do bad things happen to good people?' That only happened once and He volunteered." - Sproul, JR.

"The issue on which everything stands is not whether or not you like Christianity, but whether or not He rose from the dead." - Tim Keller









http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-problem-of-palm-sunday

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2014/04/17/maundy-thursday-4/

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2014/04/17/when-jesus-said-farewell/

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-greatest-prayer-in-the-world-maundy-thursday

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2014/04/18/how-can-this-be-a-good-friday-meditation/

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/it-is-finished-good-friday

http://www.rzim.org/blog/new-testament-studies/loves-unveiling-day-12-loves-extremity/

http://glennpackiam.typepad.com/my_weblog/2011/04/n-t-wright-on-the-atonement.html

http://www.bloggingtheologically.com/2013/03/22/did-jesus-really-have-to-rise-again/

http://www.bloggingtheologically.com/2014/04/20/sent-one-sends/

https://www.unlockingthebible.org/meaning-significance-resurrection-jesus-christ/

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/have-you-found-what-you-re-looking-for-easter-sunday

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2014/04/19/holy-week-day-8-sunday/

http://www.rzim.org/blog/worship-and-spirituality/ravis-easter-meditation/

http://www.rzim.org/blog/new-testament-studies/four-gardens/

http://patriotpost.us/pages/309

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas

 "Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will be with child ..." (Luke 1:30)

 

No matter how troubled Mary was, her heart had been cultivated by faith, and she responded to the news with composure, dignity, and faith. She did not scream or fall on her face. She simply asked the angel a question: “How will this be … since I am a virgin?” (v. 34).

 

She asked with expectancy. “How will God do this, with me being a virgin and all?” It is not a question of doubt. It is a question rooted in faith. Mary immediately believed Gabriel. She did not laugh as Sarah did when she overheard the conversation between her husband and the Lord that she in her old age would bear a son. When confronted with the miraculous, Mary asked how will.

 

Unbeknownst to Mary, this same angel had visited her relative Zechariah and brought him astonishing, impossible news. When Gabriel told Zechariah that he and Elizabeth in their old age would have a son, an amazing son, Zechariah asked, “How can this be?” (v. 18, author’s paraphrase). Not how will. How can. The difference exposed his heart. He did not believe the angel, and it did not go well for him. Mary was blessed by the angel above all women. Zechariah was struck dumb. 

 

Mary asked, “How will?” She knew that if God says something—anything—we can believe him. God is true. He is trustworthy. Jesus is a man of his Word. (From "Becoming Myself" by John Eldredge)



"At Christmas God moved into very bad neighborhood and began rehabilitating it." - Tim Keller




http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/five-truths-about-the-incarnation

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/mary-s-model-for-mothers

www.bloggingtheologically.com/2013/12/21/living-in-her-old-testament-faith

http://www.lizcurtishiggs.com/2013/12/the-women-of-christmas-the-wondrous-gift-is-given/

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/2013/12/25/christmas-for-the-weary-and-heavy-laden/

http://kellerquotes.com/the-greatest-gift/

http://kellerquotes.com/the-message-of-christmas/

http://www.rzim.eu/a-christmas-message-from-john-lennox

http://www.rzim.org/a-slice-of-infinity/questioning-gabriel/

www.rzim.org/a-slice-of-infinity/the-santa-delusion

http://www.rzim.org/a-slice-of-infinity/which-virgin-birth/

http://pastormark.tv/2011/12/21/who-was-saint-nicholas

thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2011/11/28/immanuel-the-real-meaning-of-christmas

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Nelson Mandela

Written by Ravi Zacharias...

I’m sitting at the airport in Bahrain, about to catch a flight to Jakarta. The television screens are full of coverage for a man of courage, conviction, and influence. Every now and then his picture with his winsome smile is shown with the words under it: Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013.

Looking at the dates, I thought first of my mother. She was born just two years before him but passed away nearly four decades before he did. Yes, she had a short life span. She did not make a world impact but it was because of her that I am a free man today. Her life and example were for me, life-defining. Nelson Mandela, by contrast, changed history for millions, if not for the world. A different role, a different call. So it is that each one of us has a part to play, whether of great influence or of small influence, but equally important.

Yet, as I look at his picture and consider his legacy, I mourn the loss of not just a person, but an example for all politicians. While his early years were more aggressive, his veteran years spoke of wisdom gained through steps and missteps. Where are the leaders like him today? Many of those who are eulogizing him have evidently not learned from him. For one, he bore no hatred towards his oppressors. Even his period of violence was short-lived and tempered. When he acquired freedom he did not ask the oppressed to “go and vote for revenge.” After his time in prison, he did not use the microphone to whip up hostility, division, and frenzy or go on diatribes blaming his predecessors for doing everything wrong. He did not use language that some in the media do, some verbiage that is too vulgar to even repeat. He wanted to correct society, not change, penalize, or pollute it. He won supporters to his side with grace and dignity, not by bullying.

On one occasion I nearly met the man. It was my loss when it didn’t come about. I was in Cape Town after having spoken to the framers of the Peace Accord in Johannesburg when I received a call from his office where his staff was trying its best to bring about a meeting between us. But a strong bout of pneumonia, which he had contracted in prison, hit him hard at that time and actually plagued him for the rest of his life. Not meeting him was a loss I felt. I would have loved to have asked him a few questions. One I would like to have asked is, “Deep inside, did you ever feel like giving up?” I suspect I know the answer, but just to be inspired, I would have liked to hear this one-time boxer turned freedom-fighter in his soft voice express his determination to never give up.
Nelson Mandela

The world has become a dangerous place. We need the Mandelas who know when to lead, how to treat their opponents, and when to step down. There is so much hatred in speeches today, such inflammatory rhetoric. There is such an unyielding quest and clinging to power that we shudder at the seduction so evident. What we win the masses with is what we win them to and we are subjecting a generation to ignoble speech and lacerating rhetoric: How will this win them to noble ends?

Two remarkable decisions among many show how Mandela bore no contempt for his adversaries. Journalists have pointed this out. You’d think they themselves would be instructed by it. When he received the Nobel Prize he chose to share it with his predecessor, President F.W. de Klerk. This was an incredible move, truly walking the second mile. He never wanted to play the hero. He knew the fight wasn’t about him. Also, at his inauguration he invited the white jail warden to be present as his personal guest. Mandela cautioned leaders that hatred beguiled the mind and was an emotion leaders could not afford without reaping the whirlwind. He would give no place to mockery that masqueraded as statesmanship.

Our own leaders today would do well to learn from Nelson Mandela rather than just giving grandiose speeches about him. What he began still has a long way to go. I am a Christian and I admire the courage and sacrifice of people such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela. Even if we are not all on the same page theologically, we are on the same page for the protection of people who are exploited or abused. It is a noble end. But the way our media and political leaders frame the problem actually digs a hole deeper than the one they are trying to fill. They poison the soul but expect healing. When language comes easily for those who have the microphone, it can become fatally fluent.

I spoke once at the Islamic University in Malaysia, one of the oldest such universities of the world. I was asked to present a defense of Christianity to a primarily Muslim audience. It was a nerve-wracking hour, with sophisticated scholars in the audience. I would not compromise my convictions. I needed to build a bridge without surrendering ground. “How does one handle this?” I thought. I did my best and the response was truly gratifying. Even the head of the Islamic Studies department, the professor who was my host, said some of the kindest words afterward in her office.

That evening I was taken out for dinner by a professor who specifically asked if we could have an hour. His name was Professor Living Lee, a geologist by specialty. He told me this story. Some years ago the late vitriolic Muslim apologist Ahmed Deedat was presenting a defense of Islam at the same university. Ironically, he was from South Africa too. He had a bent to abusive language and inflammatory speech, mocking opponents and inciting anger in his supporters towards those of a different view. He provoked all the baser emotions for a supposedly elevated cause. Deedat had delivered his talk at the university in his usual hate-filled style, mocking Christianity and calling it nonsensical and unlivable, among other charges. When Professor Lee, one of the few Christians in the audience, questioned his charge, Deedat called him to come to the front. Professor Lee walked forward. Deedat raised his hand and with a full swing slapped him with a stinging hit to the face. Professor Lee was nearly knocked to his feet. Deedat then barked, “Now turn the other cheek!” It was obvious what he was trying to do. Suddenly he paused and said, “We can do this quicker. Give me your shirt!” Professor Lee unbuttoned and took off his shirt. “According to Jesus, you should now offer your trousers, too, shouldn’t you?” Deedat said. Professor Lee turned to the audience, apologized to his students and faculty colleagues, took off his trousers, and quietly walked out of the room in his underwear. The audience was in a dazed, stunned silence. Outdone by a gentle but equally determined scholar, Deedat looked utterly juvenile and like a man who had just been hoisted on his own petard.

Dr. Lee went back to his office and put his face in his hands, his spirit swirling with indescribable emotions. He wept though he knew he had done the right thing in standing his ground. A few moments later there was a knock on the door, then another, and another, and another. When he opened the door, he saw students and colleagues lined up to apologize to him for the pain and foolishness just displayed.

Deedat was freewheeling in rhetoric but a slave to pride. Quite incredibly, he spent the last few years of his life smitten with a stroke, unable to speak. The only weapon he had was lost to him. But in reality, Deedat could never have attained greatness because he was already too great in his own eyes.

Mandela had a cause greater than himself and is so remembered. He spent the last few years of his life quite unwell. But his example continued to speak for the freedom of all mankind. His spirit fought for the dignity of man, and he never compromised the dignity of anyone in fighting for it.

So when we read 1918-2013 we would do well to remember that though the span of Mandela’s life is finished, the span of our human struggle is not closed. But if our leaders do not know how to use speech supported by character and instead use words only to provoke hostile instincts, we will kill others with hate and the bracket around dignity and freedom will be closed. Not everything that is fatal is immediate. We are near the edge of that precipice. We have a choice. We all have a platform.

I cannot end without mentioning one wound that Mandela probably wished he could have healed: the break-up of his family. The price for him was huge and the pain must have been deep. It was a price my mother would not pay: We five children would have been the cost. It is a sobering reminder for all of us. Our nation and our homes need healing. The national struggle and the heart of a child will shape the future. Politicians and parents play that role. No momentary gain had dare violate eternal truths.

I pray for our leaders. I pray for our families. May God guide and help us.