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July 07, 2015

The story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10 is one of those accounts from the life of Jesus that is in danger of becoming cliché. And it will become that if we fail to see the true hero of the story.

Luke sets up a contrast between two sisters: Mary and Martha. Jesus has come to visit, and he has brought a crowd with him. Martha is likely the older sister here, and the owner of the home. The responsibility of hospitality has fallen to her, and as Jesus teaches, she rushes around to prepare food and to keep her guests full and fed. She undoubtedly believed she would be able to count on her sister Mary to help her. But instead of helping, Mary just sits at the feet of Jesus, listening and learning. A sharp conflict arises.

Luke tells us that Martha has become distracted by much serving. We would probably say that Mary is the distracted one; she has been distracted from helping her sister show hospitality. But no, it’s Martha who is distracted. She complains to Jesus and asks him to intervene, to command Mary to help. Jesus, full of love and compassion, replies, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (v. 41). And so we learn that we are to be like Mary in a Martha world, people who prioritize spending time with Jesus instead of allowing the cares of life to overwhelm us. Mary is the hero.

Or is she? In all our talk of the atoning death of Jesus, we need to guard ourselves against losing the wonder of the fact that God himself, the second person of the Trinity, came in human flesh; that the One who created the world took on a human nature and entered our world as a baby who needed to be cared for like any other human infant; that as a man born under the law, he obeyed his mother and father; that as a man he had to grow in wisdom and understanding; that as the incarnate Jesus and true man he really walked from place to place, that he got blisters on His feet, that he got tired and hungry, that he needed hospitality.

Charles Wesley wrote a powerful hymn to proclaim the wonder of God made man.

Let earth and Heav’n combine, angels and men agree
To praise in songs divine, Th’ incarnate deity
Our God contracted to a span, Our God contracted to a span,
Incomprehensibly made Man.

Do you see the great love of God, that Jesus Christ, God immortal, God eternal, would become a man so that he could be like us, so he could be one of us, so he could save us? When we see Jesus sitting in Martha’s home, we see the true hero of the story.

July 07, 2015

Grace To You Bible App - The Grace To You Bible app launches today. The app is free and includes the ESV Bible and lots of MacArthur resources. If you like you can purchase the MacArthur Study Bible notes as an extra.

Climbing a Tree - It’s just a mother raccoon teaching its baby to climb a tree.

Praying Backwards - Praying Backwards, one of my favorite books on prayer, is on sale in the Kindle edition ($1.99).

Christian Bakers Face $135K Fine - You’re probably already read about this story, but Joe Carter will get you caught up with the relevant information.

The Prayer Meeting Revival - Vance Christie tells the story of an amazing revival. Why would we doubt that God can do this again?

Pastors Who Don’t Delegate - Delegation is a difficult skill to learn, but a crucial one for leaders.

The World’s Deadliest Animals - As usual, we tend to fear all the wrong things.

It is not the perfection of one’s life but the direction of a life that provides evidence of regeneration. —John MacArthur

MacArthur

 

July 06, 2015

The church has always had some of those people associated with it. There have always been people who maintain an offensive disposition when it comes to their faith. These are the people who seem to love nothing more than a good fight. They bait every conversation with a few key words, hoping that you will blunder into a discussion they know they can win. They play one Christian off another. They might elevate themselves into positions of Christian leadership for the purpose of enriching themselves at everyone else’s expense.

Even back in the days when the Apostle Paul was traveling from city to city to preach the gospel and plant churches—even then there were people who had an unhealthy craving for controversy (see 1 Timothy 6). At one point he wrote Timothy to warn specifically about these people. He identified them as professed Christians who especially love to quarrel about theological nuances and who have a knack for causing fights between others. It’s a too-common “gift” this gift of spiritual discouragement.

But as I read 1 Timothy and hear Paul warn about these controversialists, I hear him sound a second warning as well. This is a warning about a second kind of person who sins very differently but no less seriously. If we have controversy on the one side of the equation, we have complacency on the other. This, too, is a sin and it, too, is very dangerous.

The complacent Christian is the one who is afraid to speak up even when the situation is serious and in dire need of attention. He is the one who cowers before men and who would rather not speak at all than risk offending another person or risk taking sides. He would allow his Christian brothers and sisters to face spiritual risk instead of speaking up in defense of the truth. As we read the New Testament it seems possible, and perhaps even likely, that Timothy’s temptation was toward complacency. Paul felt it necessary to remind Timothy of the importance of taking sides in order to protect the purity of the gospel and to defend God’s people.

As I thought about controversy and complacency, I realized that in my own way and in different contexts I am prone to both of them. In real life and in face to face conversation, my tendency is toward complacency. Fear of man can compel me or shame me into silence. I have to push myself to speak boldly when there is controversy that needs to be addressed or, even worse, controversialists who need to be rebuked.

But I’m a hero behind my keyboard and have a natural tendency to be bold and brave and, if I’m not careful, downright obnoxious. I have to push myself to resist the temptation to speak up about issues that do not concern me and for which I have no business offering an opinion.

Controversy and complacency—both are alive in the church today. Sadly, both are alive in me as well.

July 06, 2015

Here are today’s Kindle deals: Note to Self and Experiencing the Trinity by Joe Thorn ($3.99 each)—both are excellent and good additions to any library; Joni: An Unforgettable Story by Joni Eareckson Tada ($1.99); An Introduction to Wisdom and Poetry of the Old Testament by Donald Berry ($0.99); Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas ($1.99).

R.C. Sproul on the Same-Sex Marriage Ruling - R.C. Sproul has recorded some thoughts on the recent ruling on same-sex marriage.

Japan’s Suicide Rate - Here’s an interesting line from a sad article: “Japan has no history of Christianity…so here suicide is not a sin. In fact, some look at it as a way of taking responsibility.”

The Original Bohemian - Andrew Wilson writes about Jan Hus who was martyred 600 years ago today.

When to Baptize Believing Children - I found this quite a helpful distinction: “I think we Baptists should move away from the language of a ‘credible’ profession of faith when it comes to our children and teens, and instead speak in terms of a ‘mature’ profession of faith before baptizing.”

When the World Doesn’t Recognize Who You Are - Melissa draws an important and applicable lesson after spending some time at Disney World.

What If He’s Not Healthy? - This is one mom’s reflections on pregnancy and all that really matters.

Right is right though all condemn, and wrong is wrong though all approve. —Charles Spurgeon

Spurgeon

 

July 05, 2015

I am sure you have considered God’s command in 1 Corinthians 11:28: “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” It sounds simple enough, but what is actually involved in this kind of self-examination? How should we prepare ourselves before celebrating the Lord’s supper? Thomas Haweis offers help in his classic work The Communicant’s Spiritual Companion, recently republished by Reformation Heritage Books. He offers these 4 directions:

Examine your repentance. Consider whether you have really repented of your former sins and purposed to lead a new life. You can help determine repentance by considering whether you have a sorrow for sin, a hatred of sin, a general forsaking of sin, and whether there are clear evidences of change in your heart and life. Have you confessed known sin? Are you genuinely sorry for how your sin has offended God? Is there evidence that God has been transforming you by his power?

Examine your faith. Consider whether you have a dead faith or a living faith—a mere speculative assent to the truth or a lively, genuine, energetic trust in God. This is the kind of faith that directs you to Christ as your propitiation and that lays hold of his strength as the only power that can cleanse and pardon you. Where is your trust? How often are you pondering the great truths of the gospel?

Examine your gratitude. Consider whether you are thankful for the precious privileges which are yours in Christ. If you are aware of the depth of your sin and the heights of God’s mercy, you must be filled with gratitude. Are you quick to give thanks when you pray? Are you quick to give thanks to God for his grace and mercy? Do you thank God for his most precious gift of his Son?

Examine your love. Consider whether you are “in charity with all men.” The Christian faith is a faith of love toward God that works itself out in love for one another. Are you harboring hatred or malice toward another person? Are you expressing love in acts of kindness and charity? Are you especially showing love to fellow believers?

“Let a person examine himself, then.” And let him do it by repentance, faith, gratitude, and love.

July 04, 2015

Thomas Kidd writes of The Final Break Between God and Country. “As proud as we may be of the American tradition, our nationalistic mixing of faith and state can make it difficult for us to see when the nation has gone wrong. It can also make it hard for us to know what to do when the nation has patently wandered from the truth.”

This site digs up the old question: How Did President Zachary Taylor Actually Die? It is a question that has perplexed people for some time now. But it seems there’s probably no mystery or conspiracy there.

The GTY Bible App is coming soon. Very soon. And it looks excellent.

Mike Wittmer is struck by our cultural leaders’ lack of sympathy for a religious perspective. And he draws an important lesson from it.

R.C. Sproul Jr. reflects on an interview he and I recently recorded together. (It will be out in the fall) He says that each of us is a Student in a School of Fools.

David Prince says Don’t Manuscript Your Sermons, and he says it in response to an article from 9Marks that advocates manuscripting. Between the two articles you’ll get the two sides of that discussion.

Winston Smith, a Christian counselor with CCEF, watched Inside Out and really enjoyed it. Here’s his review and analysis.

Thanks to NavPress for sponsoring the blog this week with Stealing from God.

There are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done. —Hudson Taylor 

Taylor

 

July 03, 2015

This week’s Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored by a first-time sponsor: Founders Ministries. “Founders Ministries is a ministry of teaching and encouragement promoting both doctrine and devotion expressed in the Doctrines of Grace and their experiential application to the local church, particularly in the areas of worship and witness. Founders Ministries takes as its theological framework the first recognized confession of faith that Southern Baptists produced, The Abstract of Principles.”

Founders is offering an interesting prize package this week. There will be 5 winners and each of them will receive:

Enter Here

Giveaway Rules: You may enter one time. 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.