Death is the Great Beginning

C.S. Lewis:

‘There was a real railway accident,’ said Aslan softly. ‘Your father and mother and all of you are as you used to call it in the Shadowlands – dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.’

And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

(Taken from The Last Battle, Book 7 of The Chronicles of Narnia (New York: HarperCollins, 1956), 228.)

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What God Doesn’t Command Us to Do for Other Believers

Ray Ortlund:

The beautiful “one another” commands of the New Testament are famous.|

But it is also striking to notice the “one anothers” that do not appear there.

For example, sanctify one another, humble one another, scrutinize one another, pressure one another, embarrass one another, corner one another, interrupt one another, defeat one another, sacrifice one another, shame one another, marginalize one another, exclude one another, judge one another, run one another’s lives, confess one another’s sins . . .

Why is this important? Because . . .

The kind of God we really believe in is revealed in how we treat one another. The lovely gospel of Jesus positions us to treat one another like royalty, and every non-gospel positions us to treat one another like dirt.  But we will follow through horizontally on whatever we really believe vertically.

Read the whole pose here.

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Are You Going to Marry a Non-Believer?

In answering the question, “What can I say to my Christian friend who just got engaged to a non-Christian?” John Piper offers a question I think needs to be asked by anyone considering such a marriage.

How can you be intimately, psychologically, spiritually, physically involved with a man who does not say “Jesus is Lord,” a man who doesn’t love your Savior?

He goes on to explain the thinking a believer must have in order to justify marrying a non-believer.

What is at root here is that she is loving this man more than she is loving Jesus. Because if she really loved Jesus—and he was satisfying to her, and her best friend, and walked with her, and talked with her, and sustained her—then the fact that he doesn’t love Christ but says, “I don’t want anything to do with him. He’s not my Lord. He’s not my Savior. I think that’s mythological and foolish,” that should tear her apart emotionally.

What is she saying by delighting in him when the essence of him is anti-Jesus? That’s who he is, he’s anti-Jesus! Women or men who go that direction show that their capacities for loving Christ have shrunk down, and they’re not feeling or thinking straight about loving Christ.

What does it mean to know him, love him, walk with him, cherish him, be satisfied in him, treasure him? It can’t mean what it should if a Jesus-rejector is valued as a husband over obedience to Christ.

Read the whole of John Piper’s answer here.

For more reading on the subject, check out these:

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Why the Bible & the Church Are Really Dangerous

Jesus once taught:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27).

John Stott explains the thrust of Jesus’ teaching:

The truth on which Jesus is insisting in these final two paragraphs of the Sermon is that neither an intellectual knowledge of him nor a verbal profession, though both are essential in themselves, can ever be a substitute for obedience. The question is not whether we say nice, polite, orthodox, enthusiastic things to or about Jesus; nor whether we hear his words, listening, studying, pondering and memorizing until our minds are stuffed with his teaching; but whether we do what we say and do what we know, in other words whether the lordship of Jesus which we profess is one of our life’s major realities.

John Stott takes a step further and powerfully applies the teaching:

In applying this teaching to ourselves, we need to consider that the Bible is a dangerous book to read, and that the church is a dangerous society to join. For in reading the Bible we hear the words of Christ, and in joining the church we say we believe in Christ. As a result, we belong to the company described by Jesus as both hearing his teaching and calling him Lord. Our membership therefore lays upon us the serious responsibility of ensuring that what we know and what we say is translated into what we do.

By listening to God’s Word and associating ourselves with God’s people we place ourselves under the weighty obligation to actually obey what we know and live according to what we confess to be.

Trust Jesus as Savior. Hear Jesus as Teacher. Obey Jesus as Master. There is no other way to joy or Heaven.

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17 Minutes That Prove the Need for a Savior

Today, at a faculty meeting for Capistrano Valley Christian School, a colleague led a devotion by sharing the following, convicting article.

Andrée Seu Peterson shares the thoughts of an ordinary woman on her way home from the grocery store on an ordinary day and draws out a piercing observation.

She conjures three comebacks she could’ve hurled at Ellen if she had not been caught off guard.

She spots the baby shower invitation on the dashboard and schemes a way to be out of town that weekend-then thinks better of it because she has a favor to ask the sender at a later date.

She sizes up a woman standing at the bus stop-and judges her.

She stews over a comment her brother made behind her back, and crafts a letter telling him off-and sounding righteous in the process.

She reviews the morning’s argument with her husband, and plans the evening installment.

She imagines how life would have been if she had married X (a well-worn furrow, this).

She magnanimously lets a car merge into traffic, and then is ticked off when she doesn’t get her wave.

She resolves to eat less chocolate starting today-well, tomorrow.

She replays memory tapes going back to the ’60s, trying to change the endings.

Somebody rides up the road shoulder and budges to the head of a traffic jam, and she hates the driver with a perfect hatred.

She passes the house of the contractor who defrauded her and fantasizes blowing it to smithereens.

She passes Audrey working in her garden and waves-but thinks, “If Audrey has chronic fatigue syndrome, I’m a flying Wallenda.”

She glares at a driver who runs a red light in front of her, forgetting that she did the same about a mile ago.

She checks her slightly crooked nose compulsively in the rearview mirror, and reassures herself it isn’t too bad.

An inner voice tells her to turn off the radio and pray, but she decides that’s the voice of legalism.

She brainstorms talking points for her upcoming woman’s Bible study lecture on “Ephesians” and considers how she can improve it-and make it better than Alice’s talk of last week.

She is angry at God because here she is a Christian and broke, while her good-for-nothing heathen of a brother is rolling in dough.

She thinks how much better her life would be if she were beautiful, and fantasizes all the bungee-jumping, maggot pizza-eating “fear factor” stunts she’d be willing to subject herself to to look like Gwyneth Paltrow.

She wonders how her parents will divvy up the inheritance-and how long she has to wait.

She rehearses two good reasons why her sister and not she should take care of the folks when they’re too old. She thinks about her childhood and counts the ways her parents have screwed up her life.

The Johnsons drive by, and she recalls all the meals she made for them 10 years ago when Lydia had toxemia during pregnancy, and bets they don’t even remember. Hmm, did they even send a thank-you card?

The word treachery flashes through her mind (Mr. Beaver’s succinct epithet for Edmund in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) but leaves no footprints.

An SUV cuts her off, and she decides to punish it by tailgating.

Her heart smites her for this. So she determines to try harder to live righteously from now on. Who knows, God may reward her in some amazing way: Her husband may give her grounds for divorce, and God will lead her to the arms of Mr. Right.

She tries to pray but doesn’t get past “Our Father.”

There are lots of other people that the woman does not think of while driving home with groceries, people who are not important to her social status, or just not interesting.

She doesn’t think about AIDS-ravaged Africa, she doesn’t think about the death sentence dangling over millions in Sudan, she doesn’t think about missionaries, she doesn’t think about martyrs in Kim Jong-il’s prisons, she doesn’t think about ways she could encourage her children.

She pulls into her driveway. Total driving time: 17 minutes.

Her conclusion is worth chewing on a bit more slowly.

And if you were to ask the lady, as she rustles parcels from the car, what she has been thinking about on the drive from town, she would say, “Oh, nothing in particular.” And she would not be lying.

Imagine believing that we don’t need a Savior.

Yep. Imagine.

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One of the Most Godly Things You Can Do

D.A. Carson once said,

Sometimes the godliest thing you can do in the universe is get a good night’s sleep — not pray all night, but sleep. I’m certainly not denying that there may be a place for praying all night; I’m merely insisting that in the normal course of things, spiritual discipline obligates you get the sleep your body need.

David Murray explains why.

Why You Should Go to Bed Early Tonight from Crossway on Vimeo.

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Fleas, Concentration Camps, & Giving Thanks

In her book, The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom recalls the time she and her sister first entered the barracks at the Nazi prison camp they were assigned to during World War II. The space was cramped. The smells were foul. The beds were soiled. The groans of sick and dying filled the air. Even more, when they wearily crawled into their bunks to rest, they soon realized, the beds were infested with fleas.

In the midst of their bewilderment, Betsie, Corrie’s sister, remembered a Scripture they had read earlier that day:

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus…” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

She exclaimed, “That’s it, Corrie! That’s His answer. ‘Give thanks in all circumstances!’ That’s what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!” So, though they didn’t see any good in most of their circumstance, they thanked God for everything around them; including the fleas.

Throughout their time at the camp, the sisters led Bible studies where many women came to know and love Jesus as their Savior. They always marveled that their meetings were never stopped by the guards. In fact, the guards never once entered the barracks during Bible study. Later, Betsie found out why and told Corrie: the guards never entered the barracks because of the fleas. God protected them and their ministry with His fleas.

When she heard the news from Betsie, Corrie wrote, “My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place. I remembered Betsie’s bowed head and I remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for.”

We can give thanks in all circumstances because we have a sovereign God who is graciously working in all circumstances, even if they’re infested with fleas.

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