It was 7 years before William Carey baptized his first convert in India; it was 7 years before Judson won his first disciple in Burma; Morrison toiled 7 years before the first Chinaman was brought to Christ; Moffat declares that he waited 7 years to see the first evident moving of the Holy Spirit upon his Bechuanas of Africa; Henry Richards wrought 7 years on the Congo before the first convert was gained at Banza Manteka. – A.J. Gordon, The Holy Spirit in Missions, pp.139-140
“The law offends us because it tells us what to do; grace offends us even more because it tells us we can’t do anything!” – Pastor Tullian Tchividjian
Quoted while preaching through Galatians in a sermon series entitled Free at Last.
Leaning forward, you strain to hear. The fresh, cool breeze of the garden morning brushes your cheek. Bending, you look into that open, black-dark mouth of the tomb, its only light the sun’s thin finger reaching past your shoulder to touch the corner of a bone box. But the bones for which it waits have changed, gotten up and walked away. No smell of death; only the sweet scent of burial spices hanging in the air.
Bouncing off the walls of this vacated tomb, you may hear echoes from another garden where the lie, “Has God really said?” prevailed, and death was ushered in. But now, in this garden the lie has been silenced with a resounding, “Yes!! His Word lives!” and death has been driven out, the curse of Eden swallowed up in this empty space.
And do you hear the echo of righteous Noah, who built a deliverance to carry God’s creations through the judgment, or Father Abraham, through whom all the peoples of the earth would be blessed? Do you hear the echoes of Egypt’s oppressive slavery turned inside-out in powerful salvation, and at its peak an innocent lamb slain so that death would pass over? Do you hear the echo of new life found through parting waters, or of bread, water, and the Shekinah tent given in a wilderness? Do you hear the death-dealing law, unable to give life, at once fulfilled and filled full by the Life? Do you hear these echoes?
As you now kneel on this rough-hewn path leading into where Hope was dead for a moment, do you hear Joshua’s name, bouncing ’round these walls, the same name as “Yeshua,” “Jesus,” whose very name shouts “Salvation!”? Walls have crumbled. Evil has been judged, banished from the land. Joshua led God’s people to a promised place, a place flowing with all good things, as does now his namesake, who takes us to a promised rest harder bought. And the chaos of Judges too rings through this darkened grave, its “every man did what was right in his own eyes” now crushed under a staggering obedience, one Man having done what was right to give us new hearts, making us right with God.
King David’s words, “You will not allow your Holy One to see decay,” hang in this sweet air, and His Son, the ultimate Man, the ultimate King, receives the coronation song and, finally, dominion of the world and of a different kind of Kingdom. And this Easter tomb, having become a temple of sorts, housing God, echoes with the words of blessing over Solomon’s temple, its walls now torn down but built up in flesh and bone, stone by stone, to go walking through the world, taking the Light of the Gospel, the Presence, to all the black corners of the earth. The temple decisively cleansed by one Offering, the Great High Priest intercedes, never to offer another sacrifice, the way into the holiest place forever opened by His trail-blazing life.
Here too, in this now-hollow crypt ring full the words of Isaiah, “On this mountain … He will destroy death forever,” and Jeremiah’s “they will all know Me,” and do you hear Ezekiel’s bones rattle with hope? Exile having been exiled, this now is the true return, the Kingdom come, God’s people ruled by one ever-living King.
A baby’s cry, warbling out from a dusty trough, warbles here too, for the birth of Salvation always was leading to death, thus to this place. Vulnerability led to and ended here. The Jordan with open sky and loving Voice, the temptation to bow down, gain dominion, and avoid the terrible fate, and the transfiguration, shining and telling of his Exodus — events that all anticipate this shaking of the earth, this shattering of our assumptions. Echoed in every inch of this tomb are Love’s words, “no greater love,” and Love’s power that shushed a storm and raised a child. You hear them here in this cavernous glory.
And now you turn looking from this garden to the outpouring, the Spirit come, and to the church spreading down the ages, and to those who die in Hope, and you see us. For all these echoes from the Easter tomb, you realize, are our Story, and we, at the mouth of this conquered grave, stand at the center of His Story.
Part of the curse Jesus would bear for us on Golgotha was the taunting and testing by God’s enemies. As he drowned in his own blood, the spectators yelled words quite similar to those of Satan in the desert: “Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe” (Mark 15:32). But he didn’t jump down. He didn’t ascend to the skies. He just writhed there. And, after it all, the bloated corpse of Jesus hit the ground as he was pulled off the stake, spattering warm blood and water on the faces of the crowd.
That night the religious leaders probably read Deuteronomy 21 to their families, warning them about the curse of God on those who are “hanged on a tree.” Fathers probably told their sons, “Watch out that you don’t ever wind up like him.” Those Roman soldiers probably went home and washed the blood of Jesus from under their fingernails and played with their children in front of the fire before dozing off. This was just one more insurrectionist they had pulled off a cross, one in a line of them dotting the roadside. And this one (what was his name? Joshua?) was just decaying meat now, no threat to the empire at all.
That corpse of Jesus just lay there in the silences of that cave. By all appearances it had been tested and tried, and found wanting. If you’d been there to pull open his bruised eyelids, matted together with mottled blood, you would have looked into blank holes. If you’d lifted his arm, you would have felt no resistance. You would have heard only the thud as it hit the table when you let it go. You might have walked away from that morbid scene muttering to yourself, “The wages of sin is death.”
But sometime before dawn on a Sunday morning, a spike-torn hand twitched. A blood-crusted eyelid opened. The breath of God came blowing into that cave, and a new creation flashed into reality….
The following is my favorite excerpt from: Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ by Russell Moore, Crossway, 2011. pages 124-125.
What is grace?
Grace is not unconditional acceptance, but it is undeserved. That is a very difficult balance to strike! God’s grace comes to us without prerequisites, finding us as we are. God;s grace does not come to the “deserving” (there is no such person), and it does not discriminate. Rather, initially it comes to us freely. But once it enters into our lives, God’s grace demands changes; it holds us accountable. Why? Grace demands our holiness and growth for our sake as well as for God’s glory. Grace intercepts destructive behavior, protects us from the ravages of sin, sanctifies us so we can be “holy and happy,” two inseparable qualities.
In summary, grace is undeserved caring that intercepts destructive behavior. It is not unconditional acceptance, nor is it a legalism that says, “Shape up or I will stop loving you.” Rather, it says, “Your sin cannot separate you from me,” and then, in addition, says, “I won’t let your sin destroy you.” Grace comes to the unlovely person, but refuses to let him remain ugly.
Timothy Keller, Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road. P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ. 1997. 226-227.
Hacked! And you thought your email was secure!?
Sent into the Harvest: Halloween on Mission. Be on mission this Halloween.
7 Reasons Why Halloween Judgment Houses Miss the Mark. I always thought they were corny.
Strangest Ways to Travel. I totally want one.
Give us the Peculiar Grace of a Peculiar People. A prayer from Spurgeon.
Religious Nerds. Too funny not to be true.
Is this the future of punctuation? Hey, I use these.
I’ve been thinking about the joys and challenges of being hospitable with small children at home. Having toddlers afoot amid home and meal preparations, while expecting a large or small gathering of people, can be a challenge. So much so that many people just don’t do it much at all. But it can also be a great joy and delight.
Despite our history of antagonism toward public schools, especially as a cultural darkness seems to have settled on them, it’s intriguing to wonder: what if Christians flooded public schools with practical help? What if Christians became more willing to enroll their children in public schools? And what if the lines between public and private educations began to blur?
Geographic Travels has put together a map of locations identifying where, according to tradition, the 12 Apostles of Christ died. Blue markers represent commonly accepted death locations while yellow markers represent disputed locations.
So how can we be better Bereans? Most Christians are eager to receive the word, especially when we get new insights and background information, but how many go the extra step and examine the Scripture to see if the new nugget is actually true (Acts 17:11)? Here are a few things to keep in mind when we hear an exciting new teaching or connection…
Warfare Causes Suffering
“Warfare causes suffering, spiritual warfare being no exception. Those who take up the mission of God’s people by simply living, working and witnessing in the public square so dominated by the gods of this world, who choose to live by the distrinctive ethical standards that flow from their biblical worldview, who confess Jesus as Lord, and not Caesar or Mammon – such people will suffer in one way or another” – Christopher Wright in The Mission of God’s People
“This song that I wrote is a reflection of what happened in the Garden of Eden. It is an expression of longing and aching for what was lost and looking for what is to come. In his book, Dr. Kapic talks about the moment that Adam and Eve “first began to doubt God’s generosity.” I was overwhelmed with this idea that Dr. Kapic presents in his book, that God, in response to our sin, gives more to us and pours out himself for us. God delights in giving to me and that is just one way in which he shows his love.” – Esther Ellis
A new study shows American’s shifting spiritual choices, including rising numbers of people with no religion, within a generation.
The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself
Preaching to ourselves is the personal act of applying the law and the gospel to our own lives with the aim of experiencing the transforming grace of God leading to ongoing faith, repentance, and greater godliness. A good teacher or evangelist is first a good preacher to himself.  – Joe Thorn, Note to Self, Crossway, Wheaton, IL. 2011.
Preaching to yourself demands asking a lot of questions, both of God’s Word and especially of yourself. To preach to yourself is to challenge yourself, push yourself, and point yourself to the truth. It is not so much uncovering new truth as much as it is reminding yourself of the truth you tend to forget.  – Joe Thorn, Note to Self, Crossway, Wheaton, IL. 2011.
Simply Herald Christ
Paul, in his own estimation, was not a philosopher, not a moralist, not one of the world’s wise men, but simply Christ’s herald. His royal Master had given him message to proclaim; his whole business, therefore was to deliver that message with exact and studious faithfulness, adding nothing, altering nothing, and omitting nothing. And he was to deliver it, not as another of man’s bright ideas, needing to be beautified with the cosmetics and high heels of fashionable learning in order to make people look at it, but as a word from God, spoken in Christ’s name, carrying Christ’s authority, and to be authenticated in the hearers by the convicting power of Christ’s Spirit. – J.I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. IVP, Wheaton, IL. 2008. 52.
Preach Christ [and conviction of sin]
It is not conviction of sin just to feel miserable about yourself and your failures and your inadequacy to meet life’s demands. Nor would it be saving faith it a man in that condition called on the Lord Jesus Christ just to soothe him, cheer him up and make him feel confident again. Nor should we be preaching the gospel (though we might imagine we were) if all that we did was to present Christ in terms of human’s felt wants. (“Are you happy? Are you satisfied? Do you want peace of mind? Do you feel that you have failed? Are you fed up with yourself? Do you want a friend? Then come to Christ; he will meet your every need”–as if the Lord Jesus Christ were to be thought of as a fairy godmother, or super-psychiatrist.) No; we have to go deeper than this. To preach sin means not to make capital out of people’s felt frailties (the brainwasher’s trick), but to measure their lives by the holy law of God. To be convicted of sin means not just to feel that one in an all-around flop, but to realize that one has offended God, flouted his authority, defied him, gone against him and put oneself in the wrong with him. To preach Christ means to set him forth as the One who, through the cross, sets men right with God again. to put faith in Christ means relying on him, and him alone, to restore us to God’s fellowship and favor. – J.I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. IVP, Wheaton, IL. 2008. 69-70.
The Story of Jesus is True
Dr. Keller began his talk with listing three statements that he was going to prove. 1) Why it’s important that the story of Jesus is true. 2) Why it’s important the story of Jesus is about Jesus. 3) Why it’s important that the Gospel is not a set of bullet points, but rather a story. He spent the remainder of his message giving eight arguments that answered the above questions. After the talk, Keller stayed for a book signing. The event was sponsored by Lemuria Books, Reformed University Fellowship and Belhaven University.
If you are a parent you have huge influence on whether or not your kids fall in love with Christ’s Church. Thomas Weaver give 5 very real ways parents can cultivate a hateful attitude in their children’s heart towards the church.
My Christian Commitment
“I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of His and I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still…I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice or hesitate in the presence of the adversary. I will not negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won’t give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes. And when He does come for His won, He’ll have no problems recognizing me. My colors will be clear!” – Written by a young African pastor. Found among his papers in Zimbabwe after he was martyred
Everyone has an opinion on what the pastor should preach. Most of the time people’s opinions lead to poor preaching. Pastors also have the problem of ticking their hearers ears rather than preaching good sermons their hearers need to hear. What makes poor preaching?
Most of us would agree that criticism is difficult to take. Who of us doesn’t know someone with whom we need to be especially careful in our remarks lest they blow up in response to our suggested corrections? I do not fear man’s criticism for I have already agreed with God’s criticism. And I do not look ultimately for man’s approval for I have gained by grace God’s approval.
With the 2011 MLB season on its way America’s pastime is in need of serious fans. Maybe you have cheered for the same team you entire life. Maybe you do not know which team to cheer for. Maybe you need to consider the Baseball Flow Chart. [HT]
Lick it, flip it, clip it, quote it. A thumb lick is a term used to describe the action taken when turning the page of a book. While reading I often find great one-liners, statements and paragraphs that are golden nuggets of biblical wisdom. So Thumb Lick Thursday is a way to pass along great tidbits of truth.
This is probably one of the most common questions I hear from parents wanting to establish Christian disciplines in their kids. Every Christian parent deals with this at some point. They struggle with what they should mandate vs just encourage their kids to do. And with this, how much? At what point will we defeat our purpose and discourage them?
There are far too many marriages in our Churches and communities that are hanging together by very thin threads. When marriages are like this, patterns of neglect are almost always part of the reason. It takes commitment and work for a marriage to be the mutually satisfying relationship it was intended to be (Note: 5 key commitments for a good marriage).
Worship is “worth-ship”, an acknowledgement of the worth of Almighty God…It is therefore impossible for me to worship God and yet not care two cents whether anybody else worships Him too…Worship does not beget witness is hypocrisy. We cannot acclaim worth of God if we have no desire to proclaim it. – John Stott, Our Guilty Silence. 27-28
Suffering & Death
The Greatest single secret of evangelistic or missionary effectiveness is the willingness to suffer and die. It may be a death to popularity (by fatefully preaching the unpopular biblical gospel), or to pride (by the use of modest methods in reliance on the Holy Spirit), or to radical and national prejudice (by identification with another culture), or to material comfort (by adopting a simpler lifestyle). But the servant must suffer if he is to bring light to the nations, and the seed must die if it is to multiply. – John Stott, The Cross of Christ, Leicester: IVP, and Downers Grove, IL. 1986. 322.
What are you Sinking about?
It is easy for communication to be lost in translation. This commercial by the German Coast Guard and their new recruit emphasize this point.
What is Spiritual Warfare?
Spiritual warfare is not about naming territorial spirits, claiming the ground or binding demons. It is all about the gospel. It is to live a gospel life, to preserve gospel unity and to proclaim gospel truth. It is to do this in the face of a hostile world, a deceptive enemy and our own sinful natures. And it is to pray to a sovereign God for gospel opportunities. Advance comes through godliness, unity, proclamation and prayer. – Timothy Chester, The Message of Prayer. IVP, Downers Grove, IL. 2003. 231.
Have you ever read the Westminster Shorter Catechism? Really read it, closely? Matt Kirkland just started, and man – it’s beautiful. This project is both a study aid, as well as a small way for an creative artist to interact with the text.
The Prodigal God
In Timothy Keller’s sermon on the Prodigal God, he share from Luke 15 how both the rebellious younger brother and religious older brother are both lost, and the father’s character is exceptional abnormal,
“The hearts of the two brothers were the same. Both sons resented their father’s authority and sought ways of getting out from under it. They each wanted to get into a position in which they could tell the father what to do. Each one, in other words, rebelled–but one did so by being very bad and the other by being extremely good. Both were alienated from the father’s heart; both were lost sons. Do you realize, then, what Jesus is teaching? Neither sons loved the father for himself.” – Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God. Dutton, New York, NY. 2008. 36
Religion operates on the principle of “I obey–therefore I am accepted by God.” The basic operating principle of the gospel is “I am accepted by God through the work of Jesus Christ–therefore I obey.” 
Volkswagen Commercial: The Force
The spot features a pint-sized Darth Vader who uses the Force when he discovers the all-new 2012 Passat in the driveway. It leverages humor and the unforgettable Star Wars™ score to create an emotional commercial.
Lick it, flip it, clip it, quote it. A thumb lick is a term used to describe the action taken when turning the page of a book. Have you ever know someone who licks their thumb to grip the pages of a new book? While reading I often find great one-liners, statements and paragraphs that are golden nuggets of biblical wisdom. These thumb licks are quotes that must be shared. So Thumb Lick Thursday is a way to pass along great tidbits of truth.
Every 14 days a language dies. By 2100, more than half of the more than 7,000 languages spoken on Earth—many of them not yet recorded—may disappear, taking with them a wealth of knowledge about history, culture, the natural environment, and the human brain.
I’ve never been to Heaven, yet I miss it. Eden’s in my blood. The best things of life are souvenirs from Eden, appetizers of the New Earth. There’s just enough of them to keep us going, but never enough to make us satisfied with the world as it is, or ourselves as we are. We live between Eden and the New Earth, pulled toward what we once were and what we yet will be. – Randy Alcorn, Heaven
It’s the Inequality, Stupid
A huge share of the nation’s economic growth over the past 30 years has gone to the top one-hundredth of one percent, who now make an average of $27 million per household. Read more about the growing disparity between the rich and the other folk.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
– Be Thou My Vision, Eleanor Hull, 1874.
It is okay for me to have limits–God doesn’t. It is okay to get a good nights sleep–God doesn’t sleep. It is okay for me to rest–God doesn’t need to. We don’t know a lot about what heaven looks like, but this much we know: God is not pacing the throne room anxious and depressed because of the condition of the world. He knows, He is not surprised, and He is sovereign. It is okay for me to have limits. He is able. – Richard A. Swenson, The Overload Syndrome, p.37
Humility, rightly understood, shouldn’t be a fabric softener on our aspirations. When we become too humble to act, we’ve ceased being biblically humble. True humility doesn’t kill our dreams; it provides a guardrail for them, ensuring that they remain on God’s road and move in the direction of His glory. – Dave Harvey, Rescuing Ambition, 14
Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to be saying to us, “I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.” Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. – John Stott, The Message of Galatians, 179.
Your sleep tonight will be a small but real fact of faith. You’ll lay your full weight on a bed, trusting this structure to support you. You can fully relax, because no effort at supporting yourself is required; something else is holding you up. And in the same way, throughout the night sleep, Someone else is sustaining you. This is a picture of what it’s like to belong to Christ. – C.J. Mahaney, Humility: True Greatness, 85.
When people lose their global vision, they begin to lose their spiritual vitality. And of course all this affects their values. – Tom Julien, Antioch Revisited, 23.
cross and tongue
When the message of the Cross captures our hearts and captivates our imaginations, our tongues, stammering, halting, insulting, awkward, sarcastic, imperfect as they may be, won’t be far behind. As Jesus said, “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” [Matthew 12:34] – Mark Dever, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, 144.
what’s to come
Christianity is not finally about anesthetizing us to life’s pain, or even about waking us up to it and teaching us to live with it. it is about teaching us to live with a transforming longing, with a growing faith, with a sure and certain hope of what’s to come. – Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, 35.
The gospel, you see, is not simply an additive that comes to make our already good lives better. No! The gospel is a message of wonderful good news that comes to those who realize their just desperation before God. – Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, 40.
peace of mind
“Where are the young men and women of this generation who will hold their lives cheap and be faithful even unto death? Where are those who will lose their lives for Christ’s sake — flinging them away for love of him? Where are those who will live dangerously and be reckless in his service? Where are his lovers — those who love him and the souls of men more than their own reputations or comfort or very life?
Where are the men who say ‘no’ to self, who take up Christ’s cross to bear it after him, who are willing to be nailed to it in college or office, home or mission field, who are willing, if need be, to bleed, to suffer and to die on it?
Where are the adventurers, the explorers, the buccaneers for God, who count one human soul of far greater value than the rise or fall of an empire? Where are the men who are willing to pay the price of vision? Where are the men of prayer? Where are God’s men in this day of God’s power?” – Howard Guinness, Sacrifice [59-60]
the cross exposes
“The cross exposes the holy sovereign Lord whose authority we have defied and whose glory we have deflected to unworthy rivals was willing to endure judgment that his own impeccable justice pronounced upon us. The cross declares that we are loved with an intensity that defies our capacity to comprehend, not because we are intrinsically lovable but because God is intrinsically love.” Elyse Fitzpatrick, Counsel from the Cross 
“Amid the many facets of the American dream that contradict the core of the gospel, one ideal Americans have embraced coincides subtly with the words of Christ. As James Adams was coining the phrase “American Dream,” Franklin Roosevelt was emphasizing how Americans will postpone immediate gradificatio and even endure hard sacrifices if they are convinced their future will be better than their past. Americans are willing to take great risks, he said, if they believe it will accomplish great reward.
In similar words Jesus said to His followers, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Jesus clearly acknowledged that following Him leads to a radical reward that this following Him involves risking the safety, security, and satisfaction we have found in this world. But in the end, Jesus said, following Him leads to a radical reward that this world can never offer. This begs a question from each of us: do we believe the reward found in Jesus is worth the risk of following Him?” – David Platt, Radical [161-162]
Are you needing a call to live radically for Christ? Check out An Unadjusted Gospel in an Unreached World: Connecting Gospel Theology with Urgent Missiology
Francis Chan is one for stories and illustrations that pack a punch. I particularly appreciate this one passed along by a good friend, Sur John. Stop holding on and walk with Christ!
Lick it, flip it, clip it, quote it. A thumb lick is a term used to describe the action taken when turning the page of a book. Have you ever know someone who licks their thumb to grip the pages of a new book? While reading I often find great one-liners, statements and paragraphs that are golden nuggets of biblical wisdom. These thumb licks are quotes that must be shared:
“Anything God has ever done, He can do now. Anything God has ever done anywhere, He can do here. Anything God has ever done for anyone, He can do for you.”- A.W. Tozer, What do you want God to do for you today?
“There are five stones that will bring down any giant. They are: God is, God has, God can, God will, God does.” – Charles Fox
a nation of victims and whiners
“We are a nation of victims and whiners and pouters to a large degree. That is, if someone says something negative about us—no matter how constructive they may try to be—we either slump into a fit of self-justifying woundedness, or we file a harassment suit. We are a very thin-skinned people in America these days. Easily offended and easily provoked.
This is not good. And followers of Jesus Christ should be different. We don’t need to be thin-skinned and vulnerable. We are chosen by God, loved by God, forgiven by God, accepted by God, indwelt by God, guided by God, protected by God, strengthened by God—and God is more important than anyone else in the universe. We do not have to feel vulnerable or insecure. We do not have to be self-justifying or self-defensive or self-pitying. We can be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger, as James says [James 1:19]. We can be like Paul who said, ‘When we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate’ [1 Corinthians 4:12-13].” – John Piper