black friday

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There are two Fridays that people reference frequently: Black Friday and Good Friday.

How did Black Friday get its name? “Black Friday” had an early meaning of referring to the day that normally retailers “sell in the black” or make a profit from their sales for the year. Religiously, the day after Thanksgiving, we make a mad rush to stores long before they open to get bargains before Christmas.

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More important is “Good Friday.” It was the first Black Friday. Good Friday is ironically named. It’s good because something horrific happen, a death. How can a death be called good? It’s who died and why He died. Jesus died. And when he died, on Friday, He carry the weight of our sin on the cross, bore the wrath of God, and paid the price for our sins!

Isn’t it ironic we call it “Good” when Jesus suffered incomprehensibly for us? As horrific as it is, it’s Good News! Jesus took our place! Without Good Friday we have no eternal profit, rather we are bankrupt. We would be in the red.

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Who has believed what he has heard from us?

And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

For he grew up before him like a young plant,

and like a root out of dry ground;

he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,

and no beauty that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by men;

a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;

and as one from whom men hide their faces

he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs

and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his wounds we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have turned—every one—to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,

yet he opened not his mouth;

like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,

and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,

so he opened not his mouth.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away;

and as for his generation, who considered

that he was cut off out of the land of the living,

stricken for the transgression of my people?

And they made his grave with the wicked

and with a rich man in his death,

although he had done no violence,

and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;

he has put him to grief;

when his soul makes an offering for guilt,

he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;

the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;

by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,

make many to be accounted righteous,

and he shall bear their iniquities.

Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,

and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,

because he poured out his soul to death

and was numbered with the transgressors;

yet he bore the sin of many,

and makes intercession for the transgressors.

– Isaiah 53

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the gospel is for grandma’s, too!

From a missionary to central Asia:

For the past few months, God has been burdening my heart heavily with the fact that so many of the old people around us are dying without knowing Christ. Usually it is more difficult to bring old people into the Kingdom as they are so set in their ways of Islam to even want to listen. Nevertheless, I started to pray for my aged neighbors. One of them is Diana’s mother-in-law, I will call “Grandma Margaret.” (Diana is our neighbor who had come to faith a few months ago. I am discipling her.) Margaret has heard my testimonies and sharing of His Word with open heart before but since she started going to the old ladies’ Koran reading group, she seemed to have become more distant.

I was so burdened for her soul that I asked God for one more opportunity to share the Truth with her. Several weeks ago, God gave me that opportunity to share but as soon as I mentioned Jesus, she started quoting the usual defensive lines about Islam. It seemed like what I was sharing was falling on deaf ears. With my heart aching for her soul, I shared with her that it is because God loves her so much that He has put her on my heart to pray for and to share with her like this. I shared with her that we don’t know how much longer we will live on this earth but that I would like to and that God would like to see her by His side in Heaven. Somehow, the reality of God loving her seemed to melt that closed heart some to enable her to finally listen. Though she said that she cannot accept Him right now, I am praying that God will be merciful to Grandma Margaret and open wide her heart to receive God’s precious gift of Jesus. Pray that she and her whole household with get to know Jesus as their Savior and Lord.

A few days later, God gave another opportunity for my husband and I to share God’s love with a 75-year-old woman we will call “Grandma Sherry.” A few months before, she didn’t agree with the Good News and even was teaching us about Mohammed. We left her the movie about Jesus called Magdalena. Even though she didn’t seem interested, she decided to watch the movie. Then when we visited a few weeks ago, with childlike faith and tears rolling down her cheeks, she said that she believed in Jesus being the Savior and the way to God! During the visit, she also mentioned that her back really hurt. So we laid hands on her and claimed Jesus’ healing over Grandma Sherry’s back, and moments later she said it was feeling better that she stood up with no pain to see us off. Praise God!

Please join us in asking God for Grandma Sherry to understand and experience the abundant life that she has received in Christ. And may her whole household and the generations come to put their trust in Jesus and surrender their lives to Him.

Thank you for your continued prayers for this city!


The 65/95 Window? Because the Gospel is for seniors too. Much is said about the 4/14 Window (religious decisions are mostly made by youth). But in a world that is aging, how do we reach out to seniors?” Read missions commentator Justin Long’s thoughts on the 65/95 Window.

Other recommended resources: Joe Thorn writes about how “the gospel is for Senior’s.”  John Piper’s talk “Getting Old for the Glory of God” and Dr. John Dunlop’s Finishing Well to the Glory of God: Strategies from a Christian Physician (Crossway, 2011). Read an excerpt of Finishing Well. Read Tabletalk’s interviewwith Joni Eareckson Tada, on the secret of her joy and contentment in the midst of relentless pain. The entire Tabletalk issue [October 2011] is devoted to death and disease from a biblical perspective.

why did Jesus die?

Jesus lived to die. Jesus was a man on a mission. I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, who took on flesh so that He would become the complete and perfect God-man. His death is incredibly important.

Without the death of Christ man cannot live (Galatians 2:20-21; 1 Corinthians 15:16-17) Christ died to save lost and sinful me. Christ died to save sinful man from their hopeless state (Romans 3:21-26). In other words, Christ died in my place to satisfy the wrath of God on me in order to declare me innocent even through I was guilty (justification), He died to buy me off the slave market of sin (redemption), He died to make me friend even when I was an enemy (reconciliation), and He died so the Father would see me through the righteousness of Christ. Christ paid the penalty that He did not owe so that I might be freed from a penalty that I owed but could not pay.

Without the death of Christ He would not have glorified His Father (Luke 22:41-42; John 6:38; 17:1-5). Jesus was obedient to His father and did what He was commanded to do—be the sacrifice for mankind’s sin. Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament sacrificial promises and became our suffering servant (Isaiah 53). The death on the cross is what God wanted and the cross was the means by which Jesus glorified His father. Jesus Christ glorified God the Father in both His life and in His death.

Jesus lived to die. Without His death I could not live, forever. Without His death i could not glorify the Father. But Jesus did die, therefore I have eternal hope of glory. Thanks be to God.

For more, check out this video by Thabiti Anyabwile:

thumb lick thursday [3.31.11]

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.

Is Mandated Bible Reading Healthy for Kids?

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?

Hope for hurting marriages

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).

Worth-ship

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.

the consequences of sin

Have you ever fallen so hard that you hurt yourself and needed help? I remember a few years ago, Hannah, a gal in our church fell so hard that she fractured her scull on the concrete sidewalk. She did not remember her fall after the initial impact, other than what other people tell her. Supposedly she was able to get up from the sidewalk and say, “My head hurts, really bad,” but doesn’t remember anything. When visiting her in the hospital she was noticeably dazed and confused. The fall left her with some immediate pain and sickness and long-lasting consequences such as memory troubles, headaches, and cautious attention to future activities. The consequences of the Fall of Mankind in the Garden of Eden were not at all different.

First, there are immediate consequences to the fall of man [3:7-13]. The major immediate consequence of the fall was death [Romans 3:23]. No longer was man innocent. They now knew right and wrong and their innocence could not be undone. This was not the only immediate consequence for sin.

Immediately sin brought guilt [3:7]. Satan promised Adam and Eve freedom, instead they received guilt. They thought sin would bring freedom, but all it brought was bondage. Their guilt caused them to be ashamed. They once were naked and unashamed, now they were naked, humiliated, and ashamed. They noticed their nakedness. Now, no one told them they were bare-naked, they simply felt open and vulnerable because God uncovered their hearts.

Immediately sin brought alienation from God [3:8-13]. Man was fooled into thinking they would be like God, instead they found themselves hiding from God. Like little kids hiding from their parent they tried to duck and cover from God but that is impossible [i.e. talking to bf or gf, porno under bed, drinking, immodest outfit, homework, etc.]. How silly is it to hide from an all-knowing, ever-present God? Sin makes you stupid. Have you ever watched COPS? Sin makes you do silly things. Sin alienates mankind from God, which breaks their relationship with Him.

Do you notice God has a lot of questions of Adam and Eve? Why so many questions? Through a few direct questions God quickly uncovers man’s heart. What you cover, God uncovers. However, what you uncover God covers. What Adam and Eve should have done is confessed to God immediately. When God asks, “Where are you?” They should have responded, “Here I am, I have sinned against you, God.”

You cannot run from God, for long. He is a pursuer. Man does not seek God; God seeks man. He is on a mission to “seek and save the lost [and hiders].” No matter how far or fast you run God, He is right there. You cannot shake Him. He is a pursuer because He is a lover. Will you stop running? Are you willing to come out of hiding and uncover your shame?

Second, with the fall of man came specific curses and consequences for specific characters [3:14-19]:

Character Curse Consequence
Serpent [14-15]

 

Note: he has already Fallen.

Cursed above all animals

Eat the ground [Cf. Is.65:25]

Made enemy of Seed

Death and promised judgment [3:15]
Woman [16] Pain in childbearing, childrearing, childbirth, & parenting [cf.Gen.1:28] Desire to rule over husband [i.e. control, dominate, manipulate, boss, cf. 4:7]
Man [17-19]

 

Note: Man was with Eve when she sinned. God holds him responsible for family.

Ground is cursed [17]

Struggle against the ground [18-19]

Go back to the ground [19]

Banished from the Garden [23]

Ground treat man like man treats God.

Weeds will mock man. Work will mock man.

Alienation from the land and Paradise. Relationship with ground and God affected.

Third, there are long-term consequences because of the fall of man [Genesis 3:20-24]. Shame caused the two-sinners to sew fig-leaf-undies to cover their nakedness. Like soldiers arming themselves with protection and defense they cloth themselves with weak and useless greens.[1] Notice God does not shame them even more because of their new Fruit of the Looms; rather God replaces their man-made coverings with a sacrificial garment [v.21]. God does for man what they cannot do for themselves. God sheds animal blood to give them a garment to wear, which begins the biblical theme of sacrifice, which weaves its way through Scripture.

The consequences for sin are serious, but God in His grace sends a sacrifice. Adam and Eve’s garment is the first sacrifice of many bloody sacrifices to come that stretch all the way to Jesus Christ on the cross [cf. John 1:29]. He is the Sacrificer for mankind’s sin, and therefore the self-declared Savior for mankind.


[1] Cf. Deuteronomy 28:48; Job 1:21; Isaiah 58:7.

real questions: death?

Ned Anzers: Is there life after death?

Death is a scary thing. Survey says it is #1 on a list of things that people fear. We all want to know whether there is more to life after death. In the face of death Jesus gives His followers some really comforting words, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26) Interestingly enough Jesus said these words at the funeral of a friend.

If I believe in Jesus I will be resurrected live with Him. There is power of a few words. For example not too long ago I asked a good friend this question: “Will you go out me?” Lucky me, her response was, “Yes I will.”  However, there are a few other 3-word responses that she could have had that would have determined the course our relationship like: “No I wont,” “I feel sick,” “get the bill,” “ha ha ha!” 3 words make all the difference. Now there are 3 words spoken that changed the course of mans eternal destiny and hope for an after life. “Christ is Risen!” (Mt.28:6)

3 days after Jesus died He rose from the grave and was alive! It was miraculous. No one in human history has ever done this feat before or since on their own.

What difference does the resurrection make?

Well to illustrate this question a few years ago my brother and I went to Great America in Chicago. My brother had never been on a large rollercoaster before and I wasn’t going to play around the small game area all day. I coaxed him to go on the Ragging Bull. He was so nervous. As we were in line he watched thousands ride and enjoy it and they all have lived. He did it and lived to tell the story.

Just the same Jesus is the first and only person to who has ever died and overcome it completely. He will never die again. He is deaths master. He conquered the grave. And if we follow Him we too can live and be resurrected from the dead [resurrection = brought back to life].

How do I know Jesus died and didn’t fake it?

Eyewitnesses tell us that He was dead (Jn.19:31-37). You see the Roman executioners were expert killers: Broken legs, pierced side, and a heavy mummy wrap in a sealed tomb all add up to proof that there is no way Jesus could have lived through the crucifixion or 3 days in the grave.

Could the disciples have stolen Jesus body?

Sure, but he Romans were prepared for that (Mt.27:62-66), there were guards and a big stone. This question was posed in Jesus’ day too (Mt.28:11-15). No one could produce Jesus’ corpse.

Jesus rise from the dead was a hoax, right?

Not. He was seen by over 500 some people (1 Cor.15:3-8, 6). His disciples even died for their belief in Jesus after the resurrection. Even Thomas, the most skeptical of the disciples believed.

What will life after death be like?

Harps and clouds! I hope not. There is not a lot spoken about it. I suppose He wants us to live here and not be so preoccupied with its details. Isn’t it okay for God to have some secrets? What He does say is that it will be perfect, like a feast, we will have rooms within the great city—a real place, we will have real bodies and recognize each other.

Is there life after death?

From what the Bible says, yes!

real questions: kill Jesus?

Ned Anzers: Did Jesus have to die? And why did Jesus have to die?

We often forget that these questions were posed the day Jesus died (Matthew 27:37-43). That horrid Friday afternoon Jesus was taunted and mocked before his death to come down and save Himself. Yet Jesus did not come down. He died that day.

There are 2 possibilities of why Jesus didn’t save Himself, either He could not or He chose not to do it. Which you believe depends on who you think Jesus is. This is what I believe:

1.  Jesus could have saved Himself.

Jesus could have stopped His arrest (Mt.26:52-54). During His earthly ministry Jesus did chose to save Himself multiple times from death. He escape from kill-hungry mobs: throw Him off a cliff (Lk.4:28-30), stone Him (John 10:39), and strangle Him (Jn.7:30), but no one could touch Him for it was not time…He would disappear into the crowd.

2.  Jesus chose not to save Himself.

Jesus went to Jerusalem knowing that His enemies were there ready to kill Him (Mt.16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19). In fact, Jesus knew the kind of death He was going to face (Ps.22:7-18) This prophecy was given hundreds of years before there was such a thing as the Roman crucifixion.

3. Jesus chose to die as the ransom (Mt.20:28).

When we hear the word ransom we think of hostages being held captive by bank robbers or terrorists. They have a note demanding payment or the hostages will die. In the days of Jesus it was similar. Ransom was often paid to release people from slavery. All because of sin I am guilt as charged.

The verdict: sin (Rom.3:23)
The sentence: death (Rom.6:23).
The prison: hell
The Judge: God (Rom.5:8a)
The Ransom: Jesus (Rom.5:8b)

How is Jesus death a ransom? Jesus came to release us from spiritual slavery. Sin has a serious price tag. No amount of money or stockpile of good deeds can meet the demand of the ransom. Jesus death paid my ransom. A sinful man cannot die for another sinful man. But Jesus was sinless. Jesus took my place. He chose to die for those who hate Him. Sometimes we wish God would just keep out of our business, but God made our sin His business. It was something He was born to do. He lived to die. Jesus was the perfect plan to pay my ransom: God’s justice demanded a ransom (punishment for sin), and God Himself is the ransom (payment for sin).