One of my teacher friends appreciated this one.
Monthly Archives: August 2015
Tim Challies’ wife, Aileen, has written a heartfelt post in which she pleas for Christian men to stand up and act like men. She writes in response to the Ashley Madison revelations that “hundreds of pastors would have to resign after being caught with accounts on this website that glorifies adultery. And it’s not just pastors—hundreds of other Christian men, both single and married, have been caught up in the scandal. Now there are more broken homes, more devastated churches, more weeping wives, more mocking of God.”
She issues a direct challenge when she says,
Men, you are supposed to be modeling holiness before the world (Titus 2:6-8). You are supposed to be cherishing your wives as Christ cherishes his church (Ephesians 5:25). You are supposed to be abstaining from all sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3). You are supposed to be fleeing youthful passions (2 Timothy 2:22). Why are so many of you failing at these basic tasks? Is it really that difficult? You would almost think that this one sin is beyond the power of the Holy Spirit.
You who keep choosing to sin, you who keep visiting those websites, you who have secret lives you keep hidden from your friends and your wives: Why won’t you stop? You know that God loves to give victory over every sin. You know that God calls you to pursue sanctification. You know that the Holy Spirit equips you to succeed. God has given you everything you need. So why do you keep failing? The only conclusion I can come to is that you are so consumed with self-gratification that you are not willing to fight, and I mean really willing to fight, this sin. If it’s not that you can’t, it must be that you won’t.
I plead with you. I plead with you on behalf of your wives, on behalf of your future wives, on behalf of Christian women everywhere: Stop. Just stop.
Stop believing that this is a special sin that women just can’t understand—we do understand sin. This isn’t a special sin, it is just sin: God-belittling, Christ-mocking, Spirit-despising sin. Stop pretending like there are no future consequences to your actions. Stop putting your selfish desires first. Stop engaging in activities that bring shame on the gospel. Stop doing things that leave us picking up the pieces of your devastated wife. Stop indulging in your sin, and start thinking and acting like a God-honoring, Christ-praising, Spirit-glorifying man. For the love of God and his church, stop.
Gentlemen, let’s take it to heart.
For further reading and help, consider these blog posts by Ed Stetzer:
An ambassador is …
- Ready. An ambassador is alert for chances to represent Christ and will not back away from a challenge or an opportunity.
- Patient. An ambassador won’t quarrel, but will listen in order to understand, then with gentleness will seek to respectfully engage those who disagree.
- Reasonable. An ambassador has informed convictions (not just feelings), gives reasons, asks questions, aggressively seeks answers, and will not be stumped by the same challenge twice.
- Tactical. An ambassador adapts to each unique person and situation, maneuvering with wisdom to challenge bad thinking, presenting the truth in an understandable and compelling way.
- Clear. An ambassador is careful with language and will not rely on Christian lingo nor gain unfair advantage by resorting to empty rhetoric.
- Fair. An ambassador is sympathetic and understanding toward others and will acknowledge the merits of contrary views.
- Honest. An ambassador is careful with the facts and will not misrepresent another’s view, overstate his own case, or understate the demands of the gospel.
- Humble. An ambassador is provisional in his claims, knowing that his understanding of truth is fallible. He will not press a point beyond what his evidence allows.
- Attractive. An ambassador will act with grace, kindness, and good manners. He will not dishonor Christ in his conduct.
- Dependent. An ambassador knows that effectiveness requires joining his best efforts with God’s power.
Gregory Koukl, in Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing your Christian Convictions
“Is this you?” I must admit, I was puzzled by the question and asked for clarification. “Is this you?” the clerk asked a second time as she held out my credit card to me. The lightbulb finally lit up and I realized what she was asking.
Five years ago, I lost all of my hair due to illness and it never returned. I am completely bald down to my eyebrows and eyelashes. However, the picture on the back of the credit card showed me with hair. It had to be at least 6-7 years old. My credentials didn’t match my identity.
Prior to his entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday almost 2,000 years ago, Jesus predicted his death for the third time (Mark 10:32-34), taught that greatness is based on service (10:35-45), and gave sight and salvation to the blind (10:46-52). Now, as he enters the city, Jesus presents further credentials as to his identity. Some recognize and acknowledge him, some resist him, and others ignore him completely. All are faced with the question, “Who is Jesus?”
Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday is one of the few events recorded by all four of the gospel writers (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-19). Weaving the four accounts together provides us with a unique chronological perspective of what took place that day.
Jesus makes preparations for his entrance into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-3, 6, 7a; Mark 11:1-7a; Luke 19:28-35a; John 12: 2, 12). Some people have the idea that Jesus was a victim of circumstance. He got caught up in the celebration and was swept away by the emotion of the people. Contrary to that opinion, we see that Jesus was establishing his credentials. He demonstrated his omniscience by knowing details about the donkeys. He showed his authority by saying, “The Lord has need of them.” He sets the stage for a public display for the first time in his ministry. Through all the events of the day, Jesus revealed that he was in control.
Jesus starts riding toward Jerusalem (Matthew 21:4, 5, 7; Mark 11:7b; Luke 10:35b; John 12: 14, 15). As Jesus mounted the donkey and rode into Jerusalem, he fulfilled the prophecy about how the Messiah would enter Jerusalem (Zechariah 9:9). If we were in charge, we would have scheduled a ticker tape parade with a stretch limo or at least a majestic war horse. But a donkey? What we don’t realize is the kings of Israel rode a horse in times of war and a donkey in times of peace. Riding a donkey revealed Jesus as the king who brings peace.
People accompanying Jesus from Bethany spread their outer garments on the path, while others cut branches from the trees to help pave the way (Matthew 21:8; Mark 11:8; Luke 19:36). This was the first-century version of the red carpet treatment.
Pilgrims already in Jerusalem who had heard about the raising of Lazarus join in the celebration (John 12:1, 12, 13a; 18). During the Passover celebration, the population of Jerusalem swelled to 4-5 times the normal size. Estimates range as high as 2 million people who may have been present. Among the crowds were people who had already arrived, those who were traveling with Jesus, and people who had heard about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.
As the two groups meet, the enthusiasm mounts (Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:9, 10; Luke 19:37, 38; John 12:13b). As people climbed the road into Jerusalem for the Passover, they traditionally sang the psalms of ascent (Psalms 113-118). Now they add high praise for the Messiah, “Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Jesus does not correct them but rather accepts their worship.
The excitement reaches a climax as those who had seen the resurrection of Lazarus tell the story (John 12:17). People cannot stop talking about what they have seen Jesus do.
Beside themselves with envy, the Pharisees appeal to Jesus to stop the celebration (Luke 19:39, 40). The praise police show up and demand that Jesus stop the parade and silence the people. Jesus answers by saying that creation itself will shout his praise if the crowds are silenced. Which do you prefer, praise from people or praise from rocks?
Upon seeing Jerusalem, Jesus weeps for the city (Luke 19:41‑44). Jesus is overcome with emotion and weeps for Jerusalem. The Jews had misread the calendar laid out in Daniel’s 70 weeks which showed when the Messiah would arrive. Jesus knew that the people’s praise would turn into scorn and they would cry for his death in a few short days. Jesus knew prophecy that said that in a few short years, Jerusalem itself would be destroyed. No wonder he wept!
As Jesus enters Jerusalem, the entire city is stirred (Matthew 21:10, 11; Mark 11:11). The crowds are confronted with the question, “Who is Jesus?” Some view him as the Messiah while others believe he is a prophet. Throughout his ministry in general and this day in particular, Jesus demonstrated his credentials. He is the suffering servant of Isaiah. He has the power over sickness and death. He knows all. He is Lord of all. He fulfills prophecy. He is the King who brings peace. He accepts worship. He is compassionate and caring.
Jesus is the Sovereign King who brings salvation.
This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on August 30, 2015. It is part of a series in the Gospel of Mark. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.
Book Review: Seven Women: And the secrets of their greatness, by Eric Metaxas
In 2013, I was introduced to Eric Metaxas inspiring book, Seven Men: And the secrets of their greatness. In this volume, I read about several men I was unfamiliar with. I found the book both informative and challenging.
Metaxas has now written a companion volume profiling seven women of high character and leadership. He makes it clear in the introduction that he is not trying to compare the women to the men. Rather, he chose women who
… were great for reasons that derive precisely from their being women, not in spite of it; and what made them great has nothing to do with their being measured against or competing against men. In other words, their accomplishments are not gender-neutral but are rooted in their singularity as women. All of them existed and thrived as women …
The seven women he profiles are women of great leadership in Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox traditions of faith. All of them believed in the realistic presence of Jesus Christ in daily life.
Joan of Arc – As a teenager, Joan of Arc heard God’s command and led the French army to a mighty victory over the British. Joan’s innocence, purity, and holiness helped make it possible for her to do what she did. Her vulnerability and womanly virtue stunned and inspired the rough soldiers in a way that no man ever could do.
Susanna Wesley – Much of the dramatic social advances of the nineteenth century came as a result of the unprecedented outpouring of faith during the Wesleyan Revival, led by the brothers John and Charles Wesley. While their evangelism and service to the poor, disenfranchised and hopeless changed the world, their lives were shaped by the woman who raised them.
Hannah More – Hannah More was a best-selling playwright and author, a woman of boundless charm that everyone wished to be in her society. As a contemporary, friend, and collaborator with William Wilberforce, she played a crucial role in the abolition of slavery in the British Empire.
Saint Maria of Paris – Saint Maria was the one I had not heard of previously. She was canonized by the Orthodox Church in 2004. Born in Latvia and raised in Russia, she was considered to be a radical nun whose life “remains an indictment of any form of Christianity that seeks Christ chiefly inside the walls of our churches.” She challenged the Orthodox Church “to serve Jesus Christ with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and body—that is to be the church of Jesus Christ.”
Corrie ten Boom – Corrie ten Boom is probably the best known of Metaxas’ profiles. She risked her life to hide Dutch Jews from the Nazis in World War II and somehow survived the horrors of a concentration camp. Years later, she survived her greatest challenge—forgiving one of the prison guards who tormented her.
Rosa Parks – Considered the mother of the civil rights movement, Rosa Parks’ God-given sense of justice and unshakable dignity helped launch the twentieth century’s greatest social movement.
Mother Teresa – Mother Teresa is also a well-known figure best known for her commitment to live out the commands of Christ: love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. She deliberately made some of the poorest people on earth her nearest neighbors.
Like his previous book, the brief biographies of these women are well written and inspiring. They whet one’s appetite for a longer book on each person. The book would be a great gift for a high school or college graduate and would hopefully inspire a young woman to pursue greatness through sacrifice and service.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.