A Tender Jesus Isn’t Enough

istock_000052071536_mediumJesus is tender, meek, and mild. He is a precious friend who comforts us, nourishes us, and fills our souls with His peace. But, that is not all He is and that is not all we need Him to be. In our world of pain and darkness and tears, we need more than tenderness and intimacy from God. We need more than a friend.

John Piper explains.

I know that God is tender, and that personal fellowship with him is sweet, and that touching the heart happens through the brokenness of the still, small voice. I know this, and I love it. Jesus Christ is a precious friend to me.

But I also know something else. If, while I am having a tender conversation with my wife, a man breaks in and kills her and all my children and leaves me wounded on the living room floor, I will need a way of seeing the world that involves more than the tenderness of God. If pestilence takes out tens of thousands of my fellow citizens and half my church, my mental and spiritual survival will depend on more than the precious gifts of God’s intimacy…

Without a way of seeing the world that can deal with massive evil and unremitting pain under the supremacy of Christ, we will collapse in self-pity or rage.

(Taken from Spectacular Sins, p. 17).

This leads to the question, “Have you come to know God well enough to survive such an evil scenario?” Have you been readied for such events by God’s Word? Will your theology hold you up when nothing else does?

Jesus is your friend, yes. Praise God for that. Sing because of that. Rejoice! But, don’t stop there. God has more to teach you about Himself and it’s thrilling, satisfying, and desperately needed.

If you feel that you wouldn’t be ready for such tragedy, I can’t think of a better place to start than with this book.

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Feelings, Emotions, & God

emotional-statusFeelings are surprising, powerful, painful, pleasurable, and complex and because of that, a lot of people don’t exactly know what to do with their emotions. Some folks treat their emotions like they’re a curse and do all they can to repress them, ignore them, and eliminate them from their lives. On the other hand, others treat their emotions as if they are the most important thing in their life. What is most true and significant in their life is what they feel and nothing else. For them, emotions are god.

For these people, for whom emotions are god, John Piper shares a challenging and needed word.

My feelings are not God. God is God.

My feelings do not define truth. God’s word defines truth.

My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives. And sometimes – many times – my feelings are out of sync with the truth. When that happens – and it happens every day in some measure – I try not to bend the truth to justify my imperfect feelings, but rather, I plead with God: Purify my perceptions of your truth and transform my feelings so that they are in sync with the truth.” (Taken from Finally Alive: What Happens When We Are Born Again? Download it for free here.)

Emotions are not gross, but they’re also not God. They a gift given to us to enjoy in relationship with God and others as they’re aligned by God’s truth.

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A Russian King, a Slave, Some Wolves, & Jesus

Paul Washergray-wolves-snow-norway-e1440601501849:

Several years ago when I was in the Ukraine, they told me a story about a Russian Prince and his slave who were riding a dog sled in Siberia. Soon into their journey, they began to be chased by a pack of ferocious wolves. As much as they tried to outrun the wolves, they couldn’t. The wolves drew nearer and nearer and soon both men realized they wouldn’t be able to escape.

So, in great love, the servant threw himself off of the dog sled and sacrificed himself to the hungry wolves so his Prince would get away unharmed and survive. The servant died so the King could live.

As I listened to this story, one man said, “That’s a picture of the cross!”

To this, another man quickly responded, “No it isn’t. If that was a picture of the cross then the King would have thrown Himself off to save the slave. In the gospel, the King dies so the servants can live.”

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Why I Believe the Bible is God’s Word

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-3-38-02-pmAlthough there are many more reasons, John Stott does a good job summing up the main reason I believe God is the ultimate author of the Bible: because Jesus believed it.

To accept the authority of the Bible is a Christian thing to do. It is neither a religious eccentricity, nor a case of discreditable obscurantism, but the good sense of Christian faith and humility. It is essentially “Christian” because it is what Christ himself requires of us. The traditional view of Scripture (that is God’s Word written) may be called the “Christian” view precisely because it is Christ’s view.

The ultimate issue in the question of authority concerns the Lordship of Christ. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’,” he said, ‘and rightly so, for that is what I am’ (John 13:13). If Jesus Christ is truly our teacher and our Lord, we are under both his instruction and his authority. We must therefore bring our mind into subjection to him as our Lord. We have no liberty to disagree with him or to disobey him. So we bow to the authority of Scripture because we bow to the authority of Christ. (Taken from John Stott: The Making of a Leader, p. 356).

Among the many reasons why Christians believe the Bible is God’s very Word, top among them is because Jesus did.

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Safe Friends Are Dangerous to Our Soul

autum-best-friends-boy-cute-favim-com-3489766Greg Morse:

Your soul needs friends who are willing to risk wounding your pride in the moment for the long-term good of your soul.

The world cares nothing for our eternal good. Ungodly friends cheer us on toward destruction. They bequeath the kiss of flattery — the Dementor’s kiss. They coddle our egos, telling us what we want to hear, not what we need to hear. Even the most genuine and moral among them sets sail away from God. Thus we need a crew of Christian companions — a body — to keep us from shipwreck. Finishing the race is not an individual endeavor, and eternity is at stake.

Praise God then for the faithful wounds of true friends who protect us from ultimate injury. They tell us plainly, “You’re flirting with destruction!” Or, “Spiritual sloth is unacceptable!” Friends who ask us hard questions, who crush the whispering lizard on our shoulder, who are for our eternal soul above our momentary feelings — these are true friends.

Find these friends. Thank these friends. Imitate these friends. They are, as a friend of mine calls it, God’s “community grace” to you.

Do you have such friends?

Read the whole post here.

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Why Pro-Choice Arguments Fail

abortion_2Scott Klusendorf narrows the abortion debate down to one question:

Pro-life advocates contend that elective abortion unjustly takes the life of a defenseless human being.  This simplifies the abortion controversy by focusing public attention on just one question:

Is the unborn a member of the human family? 

If so, killing him or her to benefit others is a serious moral wrong.  Conversely, if the unborn are not human, elective abortion requires no more justification than having a tooth pulled.

After this, Klusendorf explains that there is no essential difference between the unborn and the born.

Philosophically, there is no morally significant difference between the embryo you once were and the adult you are today.  Differences of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are not relevant in the way that abortion advocates need them to be.

In other words, those inside the womb are no different than those outside the womb and therefore should have the same rights.

At this point, people may begin to argue that there are tons of differences between the unborn and the born. Helpfully, Klusendorf summarizes the main arguments offered and show how they fail to demonstrate any actual difference between the unborn and the born.

Philosophically, there is no morally significant difference between the embryo you once were and the adult you are today.  Differences of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are not relevant in the way that abortion advocates need them to be.  The simple acronym SLED can be used to illustrate these non-essential differences:

Size: True, embryos are smaller than newborns and adults, but why is that relevant?  Do we really want to say that large people are more valuable than small ones?  Men are generally larger than women, but that doesn’t mean they deserve more rights.  Size doesn’t equal value.

Level of Development: True, embryos and fetuses are less developed than you and I.  But again, why is this relevant?  Four year-old girls are less developed than 14 year-old ones. Should older children have more rights than their younger siblings?  Some people say that the immediate capacity for self-awareness and a desire to go on living makes one valuable. But if that is true, newborns do not qualify as valuable human beings.  Infants do not acquire distinct self-awareness and memory until several months after birth.4 (Best case scenario, infants acquire limited self-awareness three months after birth, when the synapse connections increase from 56 trillion to 1,000 trillion.)  As abortion advocate and philosopher Dean Stretton writes, “Any plausible pro-choice theory will have to deny newborns a full right to life.  That’s counterintuitive.”5

Environment: Where you are has no bearing on who you are.  Does your value change when you cross the street or roll over in bed?  If not, how can a journey of eight inches down the birth-canal suddenly change the essential nature of the unborn from non-human to human?  If the unborn are not already valuable human beings, merely changing their location can’t make them so.

Degree of Dependency: If viability bestows human value, then all those who depend on insulin or kidney medication are not valuable and we may kill them.  Conjoined twins who share blood type and bodily systems also have no right to life.

As John Piper once wrote, “They know they are killing children, all of us do.

May God equip us to love our unborn neighbors and speak on their behalf.

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The Bible Cannot Be a Merely Human Book

995453_10200383392529170_883928022_nArchibald Alexander:

If any man can bring himself, after an impartial examination of the Scriptures, to believe that they were written by unprincipled impostors, then he may believe that an untutored savage might construct a naval warship; that a child might have written the “Iliad” or “Paradise Lost;” or even that the starry sky was the work of mere creatures. No, it cannot be that this is a forgery. No man or set of men ever had sufficient talents and knowledge to forge such a book as the Bible.

It evidently transcends all human effort.

It has upon its face the impress of divinity.

It shines with a light, which by its clearness and its splendor shows itself to be heavenly.

It possesses the energy and penetrating influence which bespeak the omnipotence and omniscience of its author.

It has the effect of enlightening, elevating, purifying, directing, and comforting all those who cordially receive it.

Surely then it is the Word of God, and we hold it fast as the best blessing which God has vouchsafed to man. (From Evidences).

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