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Archive for May, 2013

Have you ever considered the things in this life which you will NEVER regret?

You will NEVER regret trusting Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you’ll only regret you didn’t do it sooner.
You will NEVER regret any sin which you turned from, you’ll only regret the ones you kept.
You will NEVER regret the time you spend with God in prayer (sweet communion).
You will NEVER regret the time you gave to interceding for others.
You will NEVER regret the time you gave to the pursuit of God in studying the scriptures.
You will NEVER regret the opportunities you took to witness to the lost.
You will NEVER regret discipling others in the faith.
You will NEVER regret the energy you spent in proclaiming the truth of God.
You will NEVER regret the money you gave to the work of God.
You will NEVER regret the attention you gave to nurturing your wife.
You will NEVER regret the attention you gave to the training of your children.
You will NEVER regret submitting to your husband for the glory of God.
You will NEVER regret ‘sacrificing’ your career to minister to your family.

You will NEVER regret the amount of children you have.
You will NEVER regret the unnecessary things in this world you didn’t buy.
You will NEVER regret the good you do to others.
You will NEVER regret the zeal you gave to knowing and submitting to Christ.
You will NEVER regret the sufferings you endured for the sake of Christ.

Article by Julius Mickel (constrainedbygrace.com)

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from Desiring God  by John Piper

Some might say that, in regards to our salvation, it really doesn’t matter who chose whom first. Why do you believe it is important to understand that God chose us first?”

Because God means to get all the glory for our salvation. We need to know the One on whom we’re leaning and what we’re really leaning on him for. Let me say a word about each of these two.

The second one: we need to know how we got saved. We were born not of blood, not of man, not of the human will–we were born of God. That is, we were brought into being as spiritually alive people by God. We were dead, according to Ephesians 2, and now we are alive together with God–by grace we have been saved.

Grace is the sovereign work by which God speaks to the dead corpse of our own spiritual life, and says, “Lazarus, come forth,” and we awake from the dead, or “John Piper, come forth!,” and we were brought into being. Now we need to know that so that we can rest in God’s sovereign saving of us. That’s how we got saved! We didn’t somehow raise ourselves from the dead. We didn’t somehow create–out of nothing–spiritual affections. God did this for us, which leads now to the first thing: he means to be glorified for all of this.

God wants to be acknowledged for all that he has done and for all that he is. We will not give him all of the praise and all of the glory that he should get if we don’t think he did all that he did for us. So I think it is really important that we teach people how they actually got saved, even if they don’t fully understand how they got saved, because we want them to begin–now better than never–praising God and honoring and relying on God for all that he did and not just for part of it.”

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Send Prayers But Don’t Just Send Prayers

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A friend of mine retweeted the following on twitter: “If everyone who is “sending prayers” to OK would send some clothes or money instead, they could actually help.”

 

There’s some truth there even if it is a bit misplaced. As Christians, we should most definitely be praying for all those affected by the devastation caused by the tornado in Oklahoma. Pray for safety. Pray for healing. Pray for the missing to be found. Pray for comfort. Pray for peace.

 

But…let us also do. Let us care visibly for those in need. Let us love our neighbors as the Good Samaritan loved his (& realize that the point of that parable is that everyone is your neighbor not just those in close proximity to you). Let us love others as God has loved us. Let us sacrifice for others as Jesus sacrificed his life for poor, undeserving sinners such as ourselves.

 

And continue to pray. Add to those prayer requests that God would be glorified in this tragedy and would make himself known through his people demonstrating his love toward others.

 

By: Wes Lauderback

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Enduring Persecution

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TESTIMONY – Pastor Florescu couldn’t bear to watch his son being beaten by the Communist officers. He had already been beaten himself, and he had not slept for two weeks for fear of being attacked by the starving rats the Communists had forced into his prison cell. The Romanian police wanted Florescu to give up other members of his underground church so that they, too, could be captured.

Seeing that the beatings and torture weren’t working, the Communists brought in Florescu’s son Alexander, only fourteen years old, and began to beat the boy. While Florescu watched, they hammered his son’s body unmercifully, telling the pastor that they would beat his son to death unless he told them the locations of other believers.

Finally, half mad, Florescu screamed for them to stop.

“Alexander, I must say what they want!” he called out to his son. “I can’t bear your beatings anymore.”

His body bruised, blood running from his nose and mouth, Alexander looked his father in the eye. “Father, don’t do me the injustice of having a traitor as a parent. Stand strong! If they kill me, I will die with the word Jesus on my lips.”

The boy’s courage enraged the Communist guards, and they beat him to death as his father watched. Not only did he hold on to his faith, he helped his father do the same.

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This country loves Mother’s Day. We love to honor moms and get flowers. We love to take her out for dinner and make her stand up in church. Americans are the people of motherhood and apple pie.

But what makes a mom a mom?

Happy Mother’s Day. Or Parent’s Day. Or Gender Neutral Guardians. Or Whatever.

We know who mom is, but do we know what a mom is? Are the two persons (or three? or thirty?) in a marriage interchangeable? Is there anything beyond biology (and affirming biology is a start!) that makes a mom a mom? When your little girl asks, “What does it mean to be a mommy?” what will you say to her?

One answer is found in 1 Thessalonians 2. Look at how Paul uses parenting as an analogy for his pastoral work.

1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 “But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also of our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 “For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.”

Within the span of a few verses Paul likens his pastoral approach to both mothering and fathering. And the approaches are not the same. For the Apostle, mothering implies gentleness, affection, and sacrifice. Fathering, on the other hand, implies exhortation, encouragement, and a spiritual charge. This is not to suggest that one set of virtues are exclusively feminine and the other exclusively masculine. After all, Paul says he was gentle among the Thessalonians like a nursing mother. Men can be tender and women can exhort. But still, there is a method behind the metaphors. For Paul, the picture of divinely aided gentleness is a mother and the picture of divinely guided exhortation is a father. A mom is a mom and not a dad, and a dad is a dad and not a mom.

I recognize that mothers have different personalities. Some are quiet and some are loud. Some prefer the background and some enjoy the spotlight. God doesn’t expect every mother to me shy and retiring. And yet, there is something particularly maternal and feminine and biblical about a woman marked by gentleness (1 Peter 3:4). It’s part of what makes a mother a mother.

Which is saying something, because if there is any vocation that mitigates against gentleness it is taking care of rowdy, unruly, ungrateful children. So take time this weekend to thank your mom, or your kids’ mom, for all the times she was affectionately desirous of you and eagerly gave of her own life because you were so dear to her. Be glad your mom was a mom.

 

Source: Kevin DeYoung (Gospel Coalition)

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My oldest son started high school this fall. At his orientation the counselors took a portion of the program to speak to parents about the greatest challenge they see students face in school. I expected to hear about poor study habits or substance abuse, but to my initial surprise, these were not at the top of the list. Apparently, the greatest challenge presenting itself in the office of the high school guidance counselor is a growing number of kids struggling with anxiety and depression. Can you guess why? A combination of over-scheduling and sleep deprivation, linked to two main contributors: electronics use and extracurricular activities. We were encouraged as parents to go home and talk to our teenagers about setting boundaries in both these areas. Parents across the auditorium scribbled notes furiously as the counselors outlined some suggestions: limit texting, monitor bedtimes, cut back on team practices. I couldn’t help but think to myself: tonight there will be many demonstrations of teenage angst when mom shows up with her new list of suggestions.

 
What is unfolding at my son’s high school is a clear illustration of a spiritual truth: the need for regular periods of rest in our lives. From the earliest pages of the bible we find God instituting patterns of activity and rest – not just any kind of rest, but rest with the intent to engage in worship and community. The concept of Sabbath weaves its way through the Old Testament and the New, occupying a prominent place among the Ten Commandments and informing our understanding of Heaven. Despite its prevalence, few Christians understand or practice Sabbath as a regular part of life, and consequently, neither do their children. Christian parents bear the responsibility of teaching our children the value of rest, through our words and through our actions. Children don’t set the calendar in our homes – if they are overscheduled or sleep-deprived, the fault lies with us. How can we better discharge our duty of raising children to seek Sabbath? To value down-time to reconnect with God and family?

 
While I admire the high school guidance counselors’ optimism, fourteen is probably too late to start imposing boundaries on our child’s rest habits and schedule. We need a plan, and we need it early. How will we safeguard for our families the key Sabbath concepts of rest, worship, and community? Here are a few suggestions that have helped our family to honor God in our rest.

 
Electronics Late-night texting and TV watching, online chatting, surfing the web – all can rob a child of rest. Children between the ages of 7 and12 require a whopping 10-11 hours of sleep each night, an age range during which most acquire the electronics to rob them of it. Parents can guard their children’s rest simply by keeping electronics in sight. We made a rule in our home that no electronics are allowed upstairs: no TV’s, computers, phones, or games in bedrooms or rooms where their use cannot be monitored. Each night, those of us who have phones leave them in a spot on the kitchen counter. These measures give us accountability to each other, keep electronics as a shared rather than an individual privilege, and force our electronics to obey our family’s Sabbath priorities of rest, worship, community. Well-rested kids bypass many of the unsavory habits of their tired counterparts: fits, backtalk, forgetfulness, drama, isolation, and yes – anxiety and depression. Guarding your child’s rest actually gives them a running start at Christlike behavior, even during adolescence.

 
Activities So many to pursue, so little time. Don’t be fooled: the proliferation of activity options for children is a reflection of our cultural affluence, not of a child’s need to be well-rounded or socialized. Gobs of money are being made off of our misplaced desire to expose our kids to every possible talent path. How can we choose activities for our family in a way that doesn’t compromise Sabbath principles?
Because the four Wilkin kids are extremely close in age, our schedule and our finances forced us to limit activities to “one or none” for each child. Not all families need to impose a limit this low, but it has taught us something our grandparents probably knew: children who participate in no organized activities at all still lead lives full of activity and joy. To many parents the idea of a child on no sports team, in no music lessons, at no club meetings is completely foreign and a little frightening: Won’t they get bored? Won’t they drive me crazy lurking around the house? Won’t they miss out on an NFL career and blame me? Or, my personal favorite: Won’t other parents think I’m a bad parent? I would answer all of these questions with “Maybe, but who cares?” As is often lamented, parenting is not a popularity contest. With that in mind, here are some good (and highly unpopular) questions to ask when evaluating which activity to pursue:

 

  1. Does it sabotage weekend down-time or worship?
  2. Does it sabotage family dinners?
  3. Does it sabotage bedtime?
  4. Does it pull our family apart or push us together?
  5. Is it an activity my child can enjoy/benefit from into adulthood?
  6. Can we afford it?

 

Notice that “Does my child enjoy it?” is not on the list. So often I hear parents justify keeping a child in a time-sucking activity because “He loves it so much”. Kids love Skittles and Mario Kart so much, but they don’t get to decide if, when and how much to consume. Because children possess a limited range of life experience, it is difficult for them to conceive of happiness outside their current circumstance. It is our job to help them learn.

 
Why do we have such a hard time as parents placing limits on electronics and activities? Both electronics and activities can appeal to parents for less-than-admirable reasons. Both can serve as a babysitter or a diversion. But the appeal of activities extends even further, to our very identity as parents. We actually want to be labeled “soccer mom”, on rhinestone-studded tee shirts and coffee mugs. We carefully arrange our car decals so that every identity-marker is announced. The thought of removing or withholding our child from an activity threatens the very way we view ourselves. Maybe our view needs to adjust to something a bit higher. Families that prioritize Sabbath fix their eyes on and find their identity in Christ, recognizing that their greatest potential for missed opportunity lies not in neglecting activities but in neglecting time – lots of it – spent together as a family in worship, rest, and community with each other.

 
God forbid we value the discipline of a sport more than the discipline of Christian living. Both require great application of time and effort, but one is worth far more than the other. Because time is our most limited resource, how we allocate it reveals much about our hearts. Our time usage should look radically different than that of the unbelieving family. We must leave time for slow afternoons, for evening meals where we pray together and share our faith and struggles, for Sunday mornings of shared worship. God ordains Sabbath for our good and for His glory. May our homes be places where Sabbath rest is jealously guarded, that in all things God might have preeminence – even our schedules.
Ephesians 5:15-17 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Source: Jen Wilkin is a wife, mom to four great kids, and an advocate for women to love God with their minds through the faithful study of His Word. She writes, speaks, and teaches women the Bible. She lives in Flower Mound, Texas, and her family calls The Village Church home. You can find her at jenwilkin.blogspot.com.

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Have you ever in the first five seconds of temptation, demanded of your mind that it look steadfastly at the crucified form of Jesus Christ? Picture this. You have just seen a peek-a-boo blouse inviting further fantasy. You have five seconds. “No! Get out of my mind! God help me!” Now, immediately, demand of your mind – you can do this by the Spirit (Romans 8:13). Demand of your mind to fix its gaze on Christ on the cross. Use all your fantasizing power to see his lacerated back. Thirty-nine lashes left little flesh intact. He heaves with his breath up and down against the rough vertical beam of the cross. Each breath puts splinters into the lacerations. The Lord gasps. From time to time he screams out with intolerable pain. He tries to pull away from the wood and the massive spokes through his wrist rip into the nerve endings and he screams again with agony and pushes up with his feet to give some relief to his wrists. But the bones and nerves in his pierced feet crush against each other with anguish and he screams again. There is no relief. His throat is raw from screaming and thirst. He loses his breath and thinks he is suffocating, and suddenly his body involuntarily gasps for air and all the injuries unite in pain. In torment, he forgets about the crown of two-inch thorns and throws his head back in desperation, only to hit one of the thorns perpendicular against the cross beam and drive it half an inch into his skull. His voice reaches a soprano pitch of pain and sobs break over his pain-wracked body as every cry brings more and more pain. Now, I am not thinking about the blouse any more. I am at Calvary. These two images are not compatible.

John Piper

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