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April 08, 2012

Christ has died and Christ has risen. He has called a people to himself and he is jealous of those who are his. Read and reflect upon what Charles Spurgeon says about Christ’s holy, jealous love:

The Lord Jesus Christ, of whom I now speak, is very jealous of your love, O believer. Did he not choose you? He cannot bear that you should choose another. Did he not buy you with his own blood? He cannot endure that you should think you are your own, or that you belong to this world. He loved you with such a love that he could not stop in heaven without you; he would sooner die than that you should perish; he stripped himself to nakedness that he might clothe you with beauty; he bowed his face to shame and spitting that he might lift you up to honour and glory, and he cannot endure that you should love the world, and the things of the world. His love is strong as death towards you, and therefore will be cruel as the grave. He will be as a cruel one towards you if you do not love him with a perfect heart. He will take away that husband; he will smite that child; he will bring you from riches to poverty, from health to sickness, even to the gates of the grave, because he loves you so much that he cannot endure that anything should stand between your heart’s love and him. Be careful, Christians, you that are married to Christ; remember, you are married to a jealous husband.

April 07, 2012

Dispatches from the FrontThere are few things that thrill me more than learning what God is doing in other parts of the world. The Lord works in amazing ways and calls to himself people from every nation and tribe and tongue. Yet even in a world that is rapidly shrinking through the new media available to us, we hear far more than we see. Dispatches from the Front is a series of DVDs created by Frontline Missions that gives us a glimpse of what God is doing across the world.

The most recent episode, number 5 (titled “Father, Give Me Bread”), arrived on my desk just a few days ago and I am glad to say that it is every bit as interesting as its predecessors. In this episode Tim Kessee travels to Ethiopia and South Sudan and gives clear evidence of the gospel’s advance in this war-torn region. As you watch the video you will meet brothers and sisters in the Lord and hear how their lives were transformed and you will see just how much work remains to be done.

Keesee writes about all of these things in his journal; the format of the DVDs is to combine video footage with his journal entries. And it’s a powerful combination.

Here is the trailer for this new episode:

And here is Tim Kessee discussing the series:

April 06, 2012

A few hours from now I will be heading downtown for a Good Friday service that will bring together several local congregations and, we hope, hundreds or maybe even over a thousand, Christians. Together we will remember the death of our Lord. Today I found a few choice quotes from Frederick Leahy’s wonderful little book The Cross He Bore (seriously, it’s an amazing book and bears repeated readings).

In this first quote Leahy writes about Satan’s hour.

Initially the plans of his enemies would succeed, not just because they came to him under cover of darkness, but essentially because in this hour Satan and his forces were permitted by God to subject Christ to further suffering and humiliation. God reserved this hour for Satan. In all of time this hour was especially his. The darkness of which Christ spoke was the darkness of evil and of the prince of darkness. In this dread hour Satan had free rein. In the case of Job God set a limit to Satan’s activity. In the experience of Christ there were no limits to Satan’s onslaught. He was free to do his worst, and he did.

Gethsemane and Calvary marked high noon in the world’s long day, and God’s permission was absolute as Satan mustered his legions for the decisive encounter. The first Adam had been easy prey. How would he fare with this Adam? As Satan entered the battlefield he did so fully conscious of the Word of God: “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Did he recall his cynical contempt for God’s Word earlier when he asked, “Did God actually say…?” (Gen. 3:1). Or did he fear the sentence passed in Eden? Doubtless he did. But the hour was fixed. It was decreed by God. When tempting Christ in the wilderness, Satan had done his utmost to deflect him from this hour, to take some other road than the way of the cross, but all in vain. Now the battle had commenced in earnest. Nothing could stop it. This is your hour, Satan!

And in this second quote he writes about the Lamb who was silent before his accusers:

Christ remained silent about the hidden things. He left his judges with the Word of God and there lay their great responsibility. They must busy themselves with the things that had been revealed. Christ will take his riddle with him to the grave. The meaning will become apparent in due course. He will not cast his pearls before swine, rather he will leave it to his judges to execute their high office before God. In this he did justice to them and at the same time condemned them.

To have explained the riddle to the Sanhedrin would not have been to the glory of God or for the good of Christ’s judges. Imagine what would have happened had he said, “Bury me and within three days I will rise again.” He would have been regarded as an ostentatious and supernatural escapologist! He would have relieved the Sanhedrin of its moral responsibility. The dawn of the New Testament Sabbath would have become the occasion for a gathering of gawping spectators hoping to see the latest wonder. What a mockery of predestination that would have been! And what a windfall for Satan! Christ the redeemer reduced to a mere super-fakir, not lying on a bad of nails or walking on hot coals, but rising from the grave!

If Christ had explained his riddle that day, it would have been a most untimely word. That he would never do. He would not prostitute his God-given mission. All his miracles, including his resurrection, were essentially part of his kingdom and of his redeeming work. They were totally different from those related in the Apocryphal Gospels, as when it is written that the boy Jesus making clay birds with other children made his birds fly! But Christ was no magician; he had neither need nor place for stunts.

All too often Christ’s silence has been given a dangerous one-sidedness, as his passive obedience is stressed almost, if not altogether, to the exclusion of his active obedience. Christ’s silence was deliberate, emphatic and authoritative; it was his deed. The passivity of his suffering was real, but so was the activity of his obedience. Led as a lamb to the slaughter and like a sheep before the shearers, he was active right up to and on the cross. He went as a king to die.

There are just two small dimensions of Christ’s crucifixion for you to ponder today.

April 06, 2012

Free Stuff Fridays
This week’s Free Stuff Friday is sponsored by CBD Reformed, and you know that they always offer up some great prizes. Today they give you your first chance to get ahold of Matt Chandler’s new book. There will be 5 winners this week and each of them will receive these 3 books:

  • The Explicit GospelThe Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler - Retail Price $17.99
  • Crazy Love by Francis Chan - Retail price $14.99
  • The Barber Who Wanted to Pray by R.C. Sproul – Retail Price $17.99

Here’s a quick description of Matt Chandler’s new book:

Even if you go to church, it doesn’t mean that you are being exposed (or exposing others) to the gospel explicitly. Sure, most people talk about Jesus, and about being good and avoiding bad, but the gospel message simply isn’t there-at least not in a way that is specific and comprehensive.

Inspired by the needs of both the overchurched and the unchurched, and bolstered by the common neglect of an explicit gospel within Christianity, popular pastor Matt Chandler has written The Explicit Gospel, a punchy treatise to remind us what is of first and utmost importance—the gospel.

In doing so he makes a clarion call to true Christianity, to know the gospel explicitly, to teach it uncompromisingly, and to unite the church on the amazing grounds of the good news of Jesus!

In addition, CBD Reformed is offering a 4-day sale (April 6 - 9) on the following three products. Anyone is free to take advantage of these offers:

Giveaway Rules: You may only enter the draw once. Simply fill out your name and email address to enter the draw. As soon as the winners have been chosen, all names and addresses will be immediately and permanently erased. Winners will be notified by email. The giveaway closes Saturday at noon.

Note: If you are reading via RSS, you may need to visit my blog to see the form.

April 06, 2012

Let’s get started today with a few ebook deals. eChristian has all of Francis Chan’s books available for free in all ebook formats. Over at Amazon you can get Randy Alcorn’s Heaven for Kids along with Francis Chan’s books Crazy Love, Forgotten God and Erasing Hell all for free. Titanic: Ship of Dreams, a kids’ book from Christian Focus, is down to $2.99. Finally, be sure to check out Ligonier’s $5 Friday as they’ve got some really good deals today in ebooks, printed books and teaching series.

Five Titanic Myths - Speaking of Titanic, here are a few myths about Titanic that have been spread by movies. “It is the tragic story that everybody knows the end to - the doomed Titanic sinks. Its final hours have become the stuff of myth - but how much have the various film versions of the story helped to create and reinforce these legends?”

Romans 7 & J.I. Packer - This blogger shares a key insight into Romans 7 that he learned from J.I. Packer.

Hotel Rankings - I was wondering about this very thing the other day: How do online hotel rankings work and why don’t they ever seem to agree? WSJ has an article worth reading before booking your next room.

Age Before Beauty - An article on aging. “Aging gracefully in Hollywood seems, to a certain point, optional these days—at least until you hit the freakish plastic surgery stage. Aniston, it is said, spends more than $141,000 a year to look as good as she does—or about $400 a day.”

Positive about Psychiatric Medications - “Biblical counseling can be positive about psychiatric medications. It depends, in part, on the person or group we have in mind. For example, if I am thinking about my father, who was overmedicated, I would say one thing. If I am thinking about another family member, who was helped by psychiatric medications, I would emphasize medication’s usefulness.”

Get Bored - Do you want to get more creative? Then maybe you need to get bored first.

To deny the great doctrine of atonement by the blood of Jesus Christ is to hamstring the gospel, and to cut the throat of Christianity. —C.H. Spurgeon

April 05, 2012

The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games is all the rage today; had I known what a phenomenon it would become, I’m sure I would have read the books and prepared a review to coincide with the release of the films. Alas, it is too late for that. But with every twelve-year old I know either reading the books or begging to, and with many of the women I know also reading and enjoying them (along with more than a few men), I began to wonder, what is it that makes this story sell millions of books and 155 million dollars in movie tickets on opening weekend alone? So I read the The Hunger Games (the first book in the series, at least) and watched the movie. And I think I get it. Some of it, anyway.

Now I’ll admit from the outset that I didn’t enjoy the book as much as many others have. Aileen says I’m just a book snob. I’d tend to disagree, but I suppose I shouldn’t just discount what she says. However, even though I wasn’t as taken with the books as many others, I do think I see what the fuss is about and why they have such great appeal. 

But first, here in a hundred words or less, is a summary of the book: The United States has been very nearly destroyed and in the aftermath of the apocalypse the Capital holds all the power, utterly dominating the remainder of the country which has been divided into 12 districts. As a form of punishment and control, once per year each district has to send one teenaged boy and one teenaged girl to participate in The Hunger Games, a winner takes all fight to the death. Katniss Everdeen, the hero of the story, is one of those who must battle for her life.

Now here are some of the themes that I believe have contributed to the book’s popularity. If you’ve read the story, I’d love to hear if you think I’m right or if I’m completely missing the point.

Good and Evil. The story clearly delineates between good and evil. There is no confusion about what is right and what is wrong, no difficult or confusing shades of gray. Collins makes it easy on the reader by making the participants in the games either all-good or all-evil. There is one character who may be a little less evil than the rest, but he dies at the hand of one of the bad guys; none of the good guys has to face an agonizing decision about whether or not to take his life. Katniss is good, Peeta is good, Rue is good, every other participant who is developed as a character is evil. We all love a story of good versus evil and this one follows a tried-and-true pattern.

April 05, 2012

Reading Classics Together
Today we continue reading John Bunyan’s classic work The Pilgrim’s Progress, and we arrive at the fifth stage of his journey. Last week Christian’s journey took him through two valleys—Humiliation and the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Though he faced fierce trials, he made it through both of them alive and now he continues on his pilgrimage.

Discussion

The fifth stage of Christian’s journey is far more about the conversation than the setting. He immediately meets Faithful and the two of them begin to converse, sharing their accounts of their pilgrimage. Here they model Christian fellowship and conversation.

There were a few things that stood out to me and the first of them was Faithful’s recounting of getting himself pummeled by Moses.

April 05, 2012

He Buried 200 Church Members - Erik Raymond: “There in his office I was struck with so many emotions. Here stood a man who has buried over two hundred of his parishoners. And here I stand, a young-buck having buried a grand total of zero of our members.”

RYM Minute - R.C. Sproul hasn’t joined Twitter, but he’s done the audio equivalent with these new Renewing Your Mind minutes—short podcasts that get straight to the point.

Praying Past Our Preferred Outcomes - You can read the whole article, or just even read the first paragraph and you’ll have something to think about. “It is one thing to be asked to pray for another person. … However, it is another thing to be told what to ask God for in the situation. I’ve noticed that often requests for prayer come with specific instructions on how to pray. I call it a ‘please pray for my predetermined positive outcome’ request.”

The Crucifixion - This is a helpful article from Stand to Reason. It clearly outlines what took place in Jesus’ last few hours.

Banning Laptops - Yesterday I spent some time with the teachers at my old high school and a lot of our conversation was around issues like this—technology in the classroom. Should it be encouraged and discouraged? Should students be able to use their laptops in class, but without Internet access? So many new questions…

Daily Life - I enjoyed this photo gallery. “Nearly 2,000 images moved across the wires last month under the category ‘daily life’.” This is a gallery of some of the most interesting from around the world.

Nearness to God brings likeness to God. The more you see God the more of God will be seen in you. —C.H. Spurgeon