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Archive for July, 2011

Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin is a disgrace to any people.
– Proverbs 14:34 (NIV)

Note: This tragic story is more evidence of the horrendous emotional damage caused by abortion.

An artist killed herself after aborting her twins when she was eight weeks pregnant, leaving a note saying: “I should never have had an abortion. I see now I would have been a good mum.”

Emma Beck was found hanging at her home in Helston, Cornwall, on Feb 1 2007. She was declared dead early the following day – her 31st birthday.

Her suicide note read: “I told everyone I didn’t want to do it, even at the hospital. I was frightened, now it is too late. I died when my babies died. I want to be with my babies: they need me, no-one else does.”

Read full article here: www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive/ldn/2008/feb/08022204

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Below are a few lessons I’m in the process of learning when making unpopular decisions (mostly gleaned from the Book of Proverbs):

1. Allow the opposition an opportunity to speak. The only thing lost by listening to the opposition is time; but what can be gained is insight, which is by far the more precious commodity. “…in the abundance of counselors there is victory” (Prov 24:6b).

2. Earnestly listen to those you trust. Surround yourself with individuals marked by wisdom and competence. In the midst of a storm, their counsel and advice will be reliable guides. “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel” (Prov. 27:9). Also, heed the rebuke and criticism from trusted friends. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Prov. 27:6).

3. Be guided by reason and facts. Good leadership requires a commitment to intelligent thinking. Things can quickly become clouded by emotions, competing perspectives, and relational loyalties. A leader must strive for objective decision-making. “The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly” (Pro 15:14).

4. Don’t take insults personally. Unpopular decisions will make people angry with you. Insults will come from unexpected sources–even by those with whom you thought you were on good terms. Leadership requires individuals who are able to put their own hurts aside, and see the bigger picture. “A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult(Prov 12:16).

5. Don’t be surprised by irrationality and anger. Most people are guided by their emotions, and few have learned to master them. “A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back” (Proverbs 29:11 NKJV). “…The mouth of fools pours out folly (Proverbs 15:2).

6. All you have is your integrity. The temptation will be to try to please some individual or group (however, if your in leadership long enough you will soon find yourself in a position where you cannot please everyone). A man of integrity will do what he considers right and wise, even if all turn against him. “The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them” (Prov 11:3)

7. You’ll never lose a true friend. Though perhaps many will privately and publicly attack you, true friendship survives difficulty and disagreement. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Prov. 17:17). “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24).

8. If you have integrity, you will be hated. Though honesty and integrity will win many, there are certain individuals who will hate you all the more. Your integrity is a living, breathing reminder of what they lack. In your presence they feel guilt and shame towards themselves, which they redirect into bitterness towards you. “Bloodthirsty men hate one who is blameless and seek the life of the upright” (Prov 29:10)

9. Stop trying to convince everyone. Proverbs 18:2 tells us that “a fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind.” Certainly there are other wise individuals who happen to see things differently, but it is also true that there are fools who simply refuse to listen to reason. Your job is to be an effective leader marked by wisdom and integrity, not a zookeeper who constantly attempts to remove the ostrich’s head from the sand.

 

 

Source: www.joshgelatt.com

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Are you ready for the second coming of Christ? He will come again to this world one day. As surely as He came the first time, so surely will He come the second time. He will come to reward all His saints who have believed in Him and confessed Him on earth. He will come; to judge all His enemies, the careless, the ungodly, the impenitent, and the unbelieving. He will come very suddenly, at an hour when no man thinks, as a thief in the night. He will come in terrible majesty, in the glory of His, Father, with the holy angels. A flaming fire shall burn before Him. The dead shall be raised. The judgment shall be set. The books shall be opened. Some shall be exalted into heaven. Many, very many, shall be cast down to hell. The time for repentance shall be past. Many shall cry, “Lord, Lord, open to us,” but find the door of mercy shut forever. After this there will be no change. Reader, if Christ should come the second time this year, are you ready? Oh! reader, these are solemn questions. They ought to make you examine yourself. They ought to make you think. It would be a terrible thing to be taken by surprise. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

  

~ J.C. Ryle

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“Before the foundations of the earth He knew you, and it’s not because He looked in some crystal ball, or down the corridors of time and saw you in the future.

 

The bible never speaks of a crystal ball, and it never speaks of corridors of time or God looking into a book that talks about the future… it never does. It never talks about God looking into the future.

 

God does not know the future because He’s looked ahead and seen it… God knows the future because He’s Lord over it, and directs every molecule, every fiber of being, every bit of matter towards the purpose He has ordained.

 

That is a God my friend.

 

Not a god who looks into the future and then reacts, not a god who makes choices based on choices of other men He’s seen in the future.

 

No.

 

A god who is The God and Lord and Author of the future.”

 

-Paul Washer

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Matt Perman  provided a really encouraging post on  six things Christ accomplished by His death!

 

Here’s his brief summary of the six core things Christ accomplished in his death:

 

1. Expiation

Expiation means the removal of our sin and guilt. Christ’s death removes — expiates — our sin and guilt. The guilt of our sin was taken away from us and placed on Christ, who discharged it by his death.

 

Thus, in John 1:29, John the Baptist calls Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Jesus takes away, that is, expiates, our sins. Likewise, Isaiah 53:6 says, “The Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him,” and Hebrews 9:26 says “He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”

 

2. Propitiation

Whereas expiation refers to the removal of our sins, propitiation refers to the removal of God’s wrath.

 

By dying in our place for our sins, Christ removed the wrath of God that we justly deserved. In fact, it goes even further: a propitiation is not simply a sacrifice that removes wrath, but a sacrifice that removes wrath and turns it into favor. (Note: a propitiation does not turn wrath into love — God already loved us fully, which is the reason he sent Christ to die; it turns his wrath into favor so that his love may realize its purpose of doing good to us every day, in all things, forever, without sacrificing his justice and holiness.)

 

Several passages speak of Christ’s death as a propitiation for our sins. Romans 3:25-26 says that God “displayed [Christ] publicly as a propitiation in his blood through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, because in the forbearance of God he passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration of his righteousness at the present time, that he might be just and the justifier of him who has faith in Jesus.”

 

Likewise, Hebrews 2:17 says that Christ made “propitiation for the sins of the people” and 1 John 3:10 says “in this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

 

3. Reconciliation

Whereas expiation refers to the removal of our sins, and propitiation refers to the removal of God’s wrath, reconciliation refers to the removal of ouralienation from God.

Because of our sins, we were alienated – separated — from God. Christ’s death removed this alienation and thus reconciled us to God. We see this, for example, in Romans 5:10-11: “For if while we were enemies, we werereconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”

 

4. Redemption

Our sins had put us in captivity from which we need to be delivered. The price that is paid to deliver someone from captivity is called a “ransom.” To say that Christ’s death accomplished redemption for us means that it accomplished deliverance from our captivity through the payment of a price.

 

There are three things we had to be released from: the curse of the law, the guilt of sin, and the power of sin. Christ redeemed us from each of these.

    • Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13-14).
    • Christ redeemed us from the guilt of our sin. We are “justified as a gift by his grace, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).
    • Christ redeemed us from the power of sin: “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your fathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Note that we are not simply redeemed from the guilt of sin; to be redeemed from the power of sin means that our slavery to sin is broken. We are now free to live to righteousness. Our redemption from the power of sin is thus the basis of our ability to live holy lives: “You have been bought with a price;therefore glorify God in your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:20).

 

5. Defeat of the Powers of Darkness

Christ’s death was a defeat of the power of Satan. “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Colossians 3:15). Satan’s only weapon that can ultimately hurt people is unforgiven sin. Christ took this weapon away from him for all who would believe, defeating him and all the powers of darkness in his death by, as the verse right before this says, “having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14).

 

6. And he Did All of This By Dying As Our Substitute

The reality of substitution is at the heart of the atonement. Christ accomplished all of the above benefits for us by dying in our place – that is, by dying instead of us. We deserved to die, and he took our sin upon him and paid the penalty himself.

 

This is what it means that Christ died for us (Romans 5:8) and gave himself for us (Galatians 2:20). As Isaiah says, “he was pierced through for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities . . . the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him” (Isaiah 53:5-6).

You see the reality of substitution underlying all of the benefits discussed above, as the means by which Christ accomplished them. For example, substitution is the means by which we were ransomed: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Christ’s death was a ransom for us — that is, instead of us. Likewise, Paul writes that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).

 

Substitution is the means by which we were reconciled: “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). It is the means of expiation: “He made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21) and “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 3:24). And by dying in our place, taking the penalty for our sins upon himself, Christ’s death is also the means of propitiation.

 

There is nothing more humbling and Christ-exalting than to meditate on and rejoice in what Christ did for us on the cross!

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Editor’s note: A minister, about to write an article criticizing a fellow minister for his lack of orthodoxy, wrote to John Newton of his intention. Newton replied as follows:
 

Dear Sir,

As you are likely to be engaged in controversy, and your love of truth is joined with a natural warmth of temper, my friendship makes me solicitous on your behalf. You are of the strongest side; for truth is great, and must prevail; so that a person of abilities inferior to yours might take the field with a confidence of victory. I am not therefore anxious for the event of the battle; but I would have you more than a conqueror, and to triumph, not only over your adversary, but over yourself. If you cannot be vanquished, you may be wounded. To preserve you from such wounds as might give you cause of weeping over your conquests, I would present you with some considerations, which, if duly attended to, will do you the service of a great coat of mail; such armor, that you need not complain, as David did of Saul’s, that it will be more cumbersome than useful; for you will easily perceive it is taken from that great magazine provided for the Christian soldier, the Word of God. I take it for granted that you will not expect any apology for my freedom, and therefore I shall not offer one. For method’s sake, I may reduce my advice to three heads, respecting your opponent, the public, and yourself.

 

Consider Your Opponent

As to your opponent, I wish that before you set pen to paper against him, and during the whole time you are preparing your answer, you may commend him by earnest prayer to the Lord’s teaching and blessing. This practice will have a direct tendency to conciliate your heart to love and pity him; and such a disposition will have a good influence upon every page you write.
 

If you account him a believer, though greatly mistaken in the subject of debate between you, the words of David to Joab concerning Absalom, are very applicable: “Deal gently with him for my sake.” The Lord loves him and bears with him; therefore you must not despise him, or treat him harshly. The Lord bears with you likewise, and expects that you should show tenderness to others, from a sense of the much forgiveness you need yourself. In a little while you will meet in heaven; he will then be dearer to you than the nearest friend you have upon earth is to you now. Anticipate that period in your thoughts; and though you may find it necessary to oppose his errors, view him personally as a kindred soul, with whom you are to be happy in Christ forever.
 

But if you look upon him as an unconverted person, in a state of enmity against God and his grace (a supposition which, without good evidence, you should be very unwilling to admit), he is a more proper object of your compassion than of your anger. Alas! “He knows not what he does.” But you know who has made you to differ. If God, in his sovereign pleasure, had so appointed, you might have been as he is now; and he, instead of you, might have been set for the defense of the gospel. You were both equally blind by nature. If you attend to this, you will not reproach or hate him, because the Lord has been pleased to open your eyes, and not his.
 

Of all people who engage in controversy, we, who are called Calvinists, are most expressly bound by our own principles to the exercise of gentleness and moderation. If, indeed, they who differ from us have a power of changing themselves, if they can open their own eyes, and soften their own hearts, then we might with less inconsistency be offended at their obstinacy: but if we believe the very contrary to this, our part is, not to strive, but in meekness to instruct those who oppose. “If peradventure God will give them repentance to the acknowledgment of the truth.” If you write with a desire of being an instrument of correcting mistakes, you will of course be cautious of laying stumbling blocks in the way of the blind or of using any expressions that may exasperate their passions, confirm them in their principles, and thereby make their conviction, humanly speaking, more impracticable.
 

Consider the Public

By printing, you will appeal to the public; where your readers may be ranged under three divisions: First, such as differ from you in principle. Concerning these I may refer you to what I have already said. Though you have your eye upon one person chiefly, there are many like-minded with him; and the same reasoning will hold, whether as to one or to a million.
 

There will be likewise many who pay too little regard to religion, to have any settled system of their own, and yet are preengaged in favor of those sentiments which are at least repugnant to the good opinion men naturally have of themselves. These are very incompetent judges of doctrine; but they can form a tolerable judgment of a writer’s spirit. They know that meekness, humility, and love are the characteristics of a Christian temper; and though they affect to treat the doctrines of grace as mere notions and speculations, which, supposing they adopted them, would have no salutary influence upon their conduct; yet from us, who profess these principles, they always expect such dispositions as correspond with the precepts of the gospel. They are quick-sighted to discern when we deviate from such a spirit, and avail themselves of it to justify their contempt of our arguments. The scriptural maxim, that “the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God,” is verified by daily observation. If our zeal is embittered by expressions of anger, invective, or scorn, we may think we are doing service of the cause of truth, when in reality we shall only bring it into discredit. The weapons of our warfare, and which alone are powerful to break down the strongholds of error, are not carnal, but spiritual; arguments fairly drawn from Scripture and experience, and enforced by such a mild address, as may persuade our readers, that, whether we can convince them or not, we wish well to their souls, and contend only for the truth’s sake; if we can satisfy them that we act upon these motives, our point is half gained; they will be more disposed to consider calmly what we offer; and if they should still dissent from our opinions, they will be constrained to approve our intentions.
 

You will have a third class of readers, who, being of your own sentiments, will readily approve of what you advance, and may be further established and confirmed in their views of the Scripture doctrines, by a clear and masterly elucidation of your subject. You may be instrumental to their edification if the law of kindness as well as of truth regulates your pen, otherwise you may do them harm. There is a principle of self, which disposes us to despise those who differ from us; and we are often under its influence, when we think we are only showing a becoming zeal in the cause of God.
 

I readily believe that the leading points of Arminianism spring from and are nourished by the pride of the human heart; but I should be glad if the reverse were always true; and that to embrace what are called the Calvinistic doctrines was an infallible token of a humble mind. I think I have known some Arminians, that is, persons who for want of a clearer light, have been afraid of receiving the doctrines of free grace, who yet have given evidence that their hearts were in a degree humbled before the Lord.
 

And I am afraid there are Calvinists, who, while they account it a proof of their humility, that they are willing in words to debase the creature and to give all the glory of salvation to the Lord, yet know not what manner of spirit they are of. Whatever it be that makes us trust in ourselves that we are comparatively wise or good, so as to treat those with contempt who do not subscribe to our doctrines, or follow our party, is a proof and fruit of a self-righteous spirit.
 

Self-righteousness can feed upon doctrines as well as upon works; and a man may have the heart of a Pharisee, while his head is stored with orthodox notions of the unworthiness of the creature and the riches of free grace. Yea, I would add, the best of men are not wholly free from this leaven; and therefore are too apt to be pleased with such representations as hold up our adversaries to ridicule, and by consequence flatter our own superior judgments. Controversies, for the most part, are so managed as to indulge rather than to repress his wrong disposition; and therefore, generally speaking, they are productive of little good. They provoke those whom they should convince, and puff up those whom they should edify. I hope your performance will savor of a spirit of true humility, and be a means of promoting it in others.

 

Consider Yourself

This leads me, in the last place, to consider your own concern in your present undertaking. It seems a laudable service to defend the faith once delivered to the saints; we are commanded to contend earnestly for it, and to convince gainsayers. If ever such defenses were seasonable and expedient they appear to be so in our own day, when errors abound on all sides and every truth of the gospel is either directly denied or grossly misrepresented.
 

And yet we find but very few writers of controversy who have not been manifestly hurt by it. Either they grow in a sense of their own importance, or imbibe an angry, contentious spirit, or they insensibly withdraw their attention from those things which are the food and immediate support of the life of faith, and spend their time and strength upon matters which are at most but of a secondary value. This shows, that if the service is honorable, it is dangerous. What will it profit a man if he gains his cause and silences his adversary, if at the same time he loses that humble, tender frame of spirit in which the Lord delights, and to which the promise of his presence is made?
 

Your aim, I doubt not, is good; but you have need to watch and pray for you will find Satan at your right hand to resist you; he will try to debase your views; and though you set out in defense of the cause of God, if you are not continually looking to the Lord to keep you, it may become your own cause, and awaken in you those tempers which are inconsistent with true peace of mind, and will surely obstruct communion with God.
 

Be upon your guard against admitting anything personal into the debate. If you think you have been ill treated, you will have an opportunity of showing that you are a disciple of Jesus, who “when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not.” This is our pattern, thus we are to speak and write for God, “not rendering railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing; knowing that hereunto we are called.” The wisdom that is from above is not only pure, but peaceable and gentle; and the want of these qualifications, like the dead fly in the pot of ointment, will spoil the savor and efficacy of our labors.
 

If we act in a wrong spirit, we shall bring little glory to God, do little good to our fellow creatures, and procure neither honor nor comfort to ourselves. If you can be content with showing your wit, and gaining the laugh on your side, you have an easy task; but I hope you have a far nobler aim, and that, sensible of the solemn importance of gospel truths, and the compassion due to the souls of men, you would rather be a means of removing prejudices in a single instance, than obtain the empty applause of thousands. Go forth, therefore, in the name and strength of the Lord of hosts, speaking the truth in love; and may he give you a witness in many hearts that you are taught of God, and favored with the unction of his Holy Spirit.

 

Source: Reprinted from The Works of John Newton, Letter XIX “On Controversy.” Reprinted from New Horizons, October 2002.

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This consolatory letter, written by Calvin to Monsieur de Richebourg, shows the caring heart of the young minister of the gospel. Calvin was only thirty-one years old at the time he penned this letter, and he was away on an important mission to Ratisbon, Germany where he represented the city of Strasbourg at an ecclesiastical gathering. Two deceased men are mentioned in Calvin’s benevolent letter: (1) Louis, the young son of Monsieur de Richebourg; and (2) Claude Ferey, the distinguished Professor at the Academy of Strasbourg and Louis’ personal tutor. Sadly, both men were carried away by the Plague that swept through Strasbourg with deadly consequences in April, 1541. Calvin writes:

The son whom the Lord had lent you for a season, he has taken away. There is no ground, therefore, for those silly and wicked complaints of foolish men: O blind death! O horrid fate! O implacable daughters of destiny! O cruel fortune! The Lord who had lodged him here for a season, at this stage of his career has called him away. What the Lord has done, we must, at the same time, consider has not been done rashly, nor by chance, neither from having been impelled from without; but by that determinate counsel, whereby he not only foresees, decrees, and executes nothing but what is just and upright in itself, but also nothing but what is good and wholesome for us…

In what regards your son, if you bethink how difficult it is, in this most deplorable of ages, to maintain an upright course through life, you will judge him to be blessed, who, before encountering so many coming dangers which were already hovering over him, and to be encountered in his day and generation, was so early delivered from them all. He is like one who has set sail upon a stormy and tempestuous sea, and before he has been carried out into the deeps, gets in safety to the secure haven…

But what advantage, you will say, is it to me to have had a son of so much promise, since he has been torn away from me in the first flower of his youth? As if, forsooth, Christ had not merited, by his death, the supreme dominion over the living and the dead!…However brief, therefore, either in your opinion or in mine, the life of your son may have been, it ought to satisfy us that he has finished the course which the Lord had marked out for him. Moreover, we may not reckon him to have perished in the flower of his age, who had grown ripe in the sight of the Lord…Nor can you consider to have lost him, whom you will recover in the blessed resurrection in the kingdom of God…

Neither do I insist upon your laying aside all grief. Nor, in the school of Christ, do we learn any such philosophy as requires us to put off that common humanity with which God has endowed us…set bonds, temper even your most reasonable sadness; that having shed those tears which were due to nature and to fatherly affection, you by no means give way to senseless wailing…May Christ the Lord keep you and your family, and direct you all with his own Spirit, until you may arrive where Louis and Claude have gone before.[2]

Here we have an open window into the heart of John Calvin. And surprisingly, for some skeptical readers, it reveals a heart that is warm and tender towards those who suffer through the trials of life rather than one which is cold and hard. It is the heart of a true shepherd and pastor to his people. May we learn from Calvin’s compassionate example.

 

Source: www.ncfic.org

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