Seriously, who doesn’t love free stuff?
Recently, my friends and I had the privilege of visiting Capitol Hill Baptist Church (CHBC) in Washington, D.C. We had a great evening visiting and gleaning wisdom from the elders of their church. CHBC is also the headquarters for an organization known as 9Marks, an organization that publishes resources to help equip and build healthy churches. Most of their books are on my Amazon wish list, but since buying them all would cost a pretty penny, I was waiting until later to buy them.
While we were visiting with the elders, they were telling us about some of the work they do in 9Marks. As we were talking with them, they invited us up to the 9Marks office to see where all of their work was done. When we got to the office they shocked us all with a gracious gift – they offered us any number of their books that we wanted to take – for free!
It was such an unexpected and gracious gift, I could barely contain my excitement.
Now, free stuff on its own is great, but free stuff that we wouldn’t be able to afford on our own is even better. A free meal from McDonald’s is a nice gift, but if someone bought you a steak dinner out of the blue – how much more shocked and grateful would you be?
I must’ve taken 15 or 16 books, all of which I was planning to buy at some point but didn’t currently have money to afford. Being at the church was a gift enough, but a stack of nice books that I couldn’t afford was amazing.
As Christians, we know all about getting extravagant gifts for free. The Bible is clear that apart from the mercy and grace of God, we are destitute broken, and alone. Our good works – works that we often think are worth something – are described as either filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) or (literally) poop (Philippians 3:8). Our violation of God’s law has left us in an eternal debt that we are unable to repay. Even on our best day, we are entirely unable to achieve or pay for a right standing with God.
And yet, God is merciful and gracious towards us in astounding ways. The Apostle Paul explains to us the free gift that we have in Christ:
But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:15-17)
We were dead in our trespasses before receiving the free gift of God, but because of Christ’s death and resurrection we have been given grace in abundance (verse 17). We are justified, that is, declared to be in right standing with God. Elsewhere, the Apostle Paul says that the gifts and riches of God’s grace are lavished upon us (Ephesians 1:7-8). We can’t even come close to affording this gift on our own, not even close! When we confess our only hope in Christ the King, we are not given a door-prize of a free gift. No, we are given far more than we could ever imagine or hope for, a gift that keeps on giving; now and into all eternity.
Whence knowest thou thy misery?
Out of the Law of God.
As you consider this new film, remember that we have been here before. Remember that there are a lot of people hoping to make a lot of money from this film. Remember that God promises to bless the preaching of his Word, not the display of that Word on the silver screen. Don’t expect a movie to do the Word’s work.
For me the real evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back: sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides. And this harem, once admitted, works against his ever getting out and really uniting with a real woman. For the harem is always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no real woman can rival. Among those shadowy brides he is always adored, always the perfect lover: no demand is made on his unselfishness, no mortification ever imposed on his vanity. In the end, they become merely the medium through which he increasingly adores himself…. And it is not only the faculty of love which is thus sterilized, forced back on itself, but also the faculty of imagination.
And I don’t think reading your blog is helping with that. Whether I agree with you or not, all you do is make me mad. And what’s worse is, you’re funny and charming while you do it. You make me like being mad. And I don’t want to like being mad.
So, I feel terrible for doing this. But I’m breaking it off, before we get too serious.
And while this stool is hurling through the air towards the minister, Jenny Geddes is said to have called out, “The devil cause you colic in the stomach, false thief! Dare you speak the Mass in my ear?” Well, like I said, this is one of my favorite stories in church history. Wouldn’t you love to meet Jenny Geddes? They say there is a sculpture of the stool that she would have sat on there in St Giles’ as a memorial to her.
You see, when you admit your limits, you’re a humble and restful person. You’re humble enough to admit weakness, always open to learning. And you’re restful, because you know that control is in the hands of God – and not yours.
Two more months passed and a fox named cancer tried to raid my home.
He is a wily one, he is. We fought him when he called himself Non-hodgkins Lymphoma. We fought him when he called himself Hodgkins Lymphoma. We fought him when he called himself myelodysplastic syndrome and we fought him when he called himself Acute Secondary Leukemia. And still we fight on.
Finally, let me encourage you that God knows your need. He knows where you are and He will be faithful to you in these moments. The work that Christ did on the cross provides forgiveness for our sins and our short comings and gives us the freedom to walk with God and not lose his favor. The work Christ did provides healing for our souls. You are not alone in your struggle, you are not alone in your darkness, and you are not alone in your pain. God is real and his people do care, and he will bring you through this struggle with a greater love and dependence on him.
Christian, life is short. You should get some sleep.
A recent Pew Research survey finds that most Americans (60%) say that “humans and other living things have evolved over time.” But a third of U.S. adults (33%) reject that point of view, instead saying that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.
Note, my belief that other people are wrong and I’m right in this situation isn’t really a moral issue. I’m not particularly arrogant for believing myself to be correct, nor am I implying that they’re particularly stupid for disagreeing with me. Nor does this imply that I am not open to correction on this belief. It just naturally follows from the fact that I hold something to be true. Actually, all it means in this case is that I happen to be closer to the window and have been able to see that the world really is a certain way that they don’t see yet. In fact, when I state the belief, ‘It is raining right now’, my focus is not on my correctness, but simply on the fact that it’s raining.
The Black Church has often dropped the ball when addressing this most difficult of issues. We need to confess it when we do. But we need to keep leaning into this issue because the very notion of beauty and sexuality are being defined by a culture replete with Cover Girls portraying womanhood in confusing ways. All of our mothers, sisters and daughters are affected. They join us in our worship and they live in great need of the Lord’s grace. It’s the task of pastors, elders and the entire church family to see to it that they receive this grace in our congregations. We must preach the gospel in such a way that all people hear the free offer of salvation from our merciful God. We must preach the Bible’s vision of gender roles in a way that welcomes and celebrates feminine diversity. We must do the careful disciple-making work that helps young women through periods of sexual confusion, questioning and experimentation. And in the meantime, we Christians will have to learn how to be discerning about the images our favorite entertainers as we offer support and critique. I want the Queen Latifahs of the world to succeed and be saved. The church and the world actually need more Jackie Hills.
A week later, the pastor showed up at my doorstep in the middle of the night, ostensibly to escape the incessant phone calls of one of the women. Before I knew it, he was in my apartment, behind me, on top of me. Immobilized, I wept.
I have learned that their struggles and sins are no different than any other ethnic group. Low-income whites want to have a better life for themselves and their children. Some of my closest friends within the community do not look like me, but the time spent with them and listening to their lives has secured a level of respect that allows me opportunities to speak the Word of life to them. I desire for the poor–regardless of their ethnicity–to see, hear, and experience the power of the Gospel across every aspect of their lives.
He shall not cry. He shall not display weakness. He shall not need affection or gentleness or warmth. He shall comfort but not desire comforting. He shall be needed but not need. He shall touch but not be touched. He shall be steel not flesh. He shall be inviolate in his manhood. He shall stand alone.
How many things are necessary for thee to know, that thou, enjoying this comfort mayest live and die happy?
Three; the first, how great my sins and miseries are; the second, how I may be delivered from all my sins and miseries; the third, how I shall express my gratitude to God for such deliverance.
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom. 7:24, 25.
So in 1558, an 82 year old man is martyred for his faith. And that’s one of the significant events, a catalyst moment, in the Reformation in Scotland.
Biologically beneficial, huh? What about some other effects like STD’s? Unwanted births? Destruction of families?
Here’s a correlation scientists might not pick up on: there’s a reason why our straying from God is also called adultery: sin.
Here’s a fun comic from Adam Ford.
The transformation of Zacchaeus is a testimony to the power of Jesus to save. When you are meeting with seekers who want God, don’t get in the way of the capital S Seeker who seeks and saves the lost. He is the One who can transform a heart.
Pray to Him. Ask Him to put you in the right place at the right time. Do whatever it takes to introduce people to Him. Don’t make seekers climb trees to get around you in order to see Jesus.
Digging out of the celebration of the Lord’s Day is in itself a refreshing thing. Turns out, greater obedience in this area gave me greater insight into what kind of rest I actually need. I don’t need a clean space, I need an obedient one. I don’t need a perfect haven of restfulness, I need a heart of rest. I don’t need all the external resources to celebrate the Lord’s Day without consequences. I need the consequences of the Lord’s Day for the rest of the days to be joyful.
Until then, we do not need the testimony of an impressionable 4-year-old boy, a neurosurgeon, spine surgeon, sports writer, or even a pastor to know that heaven is real. We have everything we need in the Bible. Its testimony is enough to generate genuine faith in Christ, as well as a greater longing for unending life in his presence.
This is not a formula! Kids from wonderful gospel-centered homes leave the church; people from messed-up family backgrounds find eternal life in Jesus and have beautiful marriages and families. But it’s also not a crapshoot. In general, children who are led in their faith during their growing-up years by parents who love Jesus vibrantly, serve their church actively, and saturate their home with the gospel completely, grow up to love Jesus and the church. The words of Proverbs 22:6 do not constitute a formula that is true 100 percent of the time, but they do provide us with a principle that comes from the gracious plan of God, the God who delights to see his gracious Word passed from generation to generation: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”