The Gladness of the Risen God on Desiring God

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Acts 2:28

Thou hast made known to me the ways of life;
thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.

Three Easter Morning Questions

I begin this morning with three questions for you to answer silently in your own mind.

  • First, do you want to be happy?
  • Second, do you want your happiness to be partial or full?
  • Third, do you want your happiness to stop or to last as long as you last?

The reason I count these questions worthy of Easter Sunday morning is not just because I think every person in this room cares about them, but also because these questions are the rock bottom concerns of the Bible.

Wherever the Bible has had its profoundest effect in people’s lives, it hasn’t been because of the demands of a new duty but because of the power of a new pleasure. Let me illustrate what I mean.

The Effect of the Bible on John and Mary Paton

John G. Paton was born on May 24, 1824, in Dumfries County, Scotland. His father was a weaver and had his stocking frames in a room of the house. And his father was godly. Paton’s biographer says that the churchgoing and Bible stories and Shorter Catechism were „not tasks but pleasures” in the Paton home.

The boy had to quit school when he was 12 to help his father support the family of eleven children, and when he was 17, he had a deep experience of conversion that brought all his parents love for Christ home to his own heart.

The call to Christian service became irresistible and Paton worked for ten years as a city missionary in Glasgow among the poor children of the slums.

At 32 he accepted the call to missionary service in the New Hebrides in the South Pacific. In March 1858 he married Mary Ann Robson, and on April 16 they sailed together for the cannibal island of Tanna.

In less than a year they had built a little home and Mary had given birth to a son. But on March 3, 1859, one year after their marriage, Mary died of the fever, and in three weeks the infant son died. John Paton buried them alone, and wrote, „But for Jesus . . . I must have gone mad and died beside that lonely grave.”

One of the gifts that Jesus had given him to sustain him in those days were the words his wife spoke shortly before here death. And right here is where we see the profoundest effect of biblical Christianity. She did not murmur against God, or resent her husband bringing her there. Rather she spoke these incredible words—and you find them again and again where the Bible has sunk into the heart—”I do not regret leaving home and friends. If I had it to do over, I would do it with more pleasure, yes, with all my heart” (Fifty Missionary Heroes, by Julia Johnston, 1913, p. 153).

The Bible Produces a Serious Pursuit of Happiness

Among those who know the Bible best and who have experienced it most deeply, it has never diverted people from the quest for happiness and pleasure. Instead, it has caused people to get really serious about the quest. It has caused them to ask, „Do I really want to be happy? Do I want the fullest happiness possible? Do I want my happiness to last forever?” In other words, the Bible makes us stop playing games with our happiness. It makes us serious, even desperate, in our pursuit.

It makes a harried and overworked businessman go away for a few days and sit by the lake, and look at the sunset and the stars, and ask: „Have I found it? Is this what I am really after? Does it satisfy? Will it last?”

Jesus Christ never once condemned the quest for happiness. But often he has rebuked us for taking it so lightly.

Now what does all this have to do with Easter Sunday? Back in January when I first conceived of this message, I saw the connection in a new way, and I want to try to show it to you.

The Earliest Days of the Church

In Acts 1:3 Luke tells us that „Jesus presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to his apostles during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God.” For forty days he sought to prove to his followers that he really was alive,

  • that his body was new and indestructible,
  • that his death for sinners was validated,
  • that his teaching was true,
  • that his fellowship would be permanent,
  • and that his cause would triumph in the world.

Then Jesus ascended into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God the Father. And there he will reign until his ransomed people are gathered in from every people and tongue and tribe and nation. Then the Lord will come a second time in power and great glory and the dead in Christ will be raised to reign with him forever and ever.

The Apostles Pondering the Old Testament

Then the book of Acts goes on to show us that for ten days after Jesus had ascended to heaven the apostles and Jesus’ mother and his brothers devoted themselves to prayer in Jerusalem. During these ten days Peter and the others must have combed the Old Testament for predictions and explanations of what was happening in these incredible days, because when the Holy Spirit finally comes upon them with power at the end of those ten days, the apostles are full of Scripture. They explain everything in terms of the fulfillment of Scripture.

One of the psalms that Peter evidently pondered deeply goes like this:

Preserve me, O God, for in thee I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, „Thou art my Lord;
I have no good apart from thee.”
As for the saints in the land,
they are the noble, in whom is all my delight.

Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;
their libations of blood I will not pour out,
or take their names upon my lips.

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
thou holdest my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
yea, I have a goodly heritage.

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I keep the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
my body also dwells secure.
For thou dost not give me up to Sheol,
or let thy godly one see the Pit.

Thou dost show me the path of life;
in thy presence there is fullness of joy,
in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.

Psalm 16

The reason we know that Peter had given thought to this psalm is that he quotes from it in Acts 2:25–28. It was a psalm of David and Peter’s mind seemed to go something like this when he pondered this psalm.

What Peter Saw in Psalm 16

We know that God gave David a promise (in 2 Samuel 7:12–16) that one of his own posterity would be the everlasting king of Israel—the Son of David, the Messiah (Isaiah 9:6–7). David must have often thought of this wonderful thing—that in his own body, as it were, there was a king whose reign would never end.

And Peter noticed in reading the psalms of David that sometimes, as David expressed his own hope in God, he would be caught up by the Holy Spirit to say things about himself that went far beyond what his own experience would be. It was as though David were sometimes transported into the future of his son the Messiah and would say things that only the Son of David would experience sometime in the future.

How Will David Not Be Shaken?

This is what Peter saw as he meditated on Psalm 16. He read, „The LORD is at my right hand that I might not be shaken.” (You can see this in Acts 2:25.) And he asked perhaps, „In what sense will David not be shaken?”

So he reads on for the answer. Acts 2:26—”Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will dwell in hope.” And Peter ponders and answers his question: „The sense in which David will not be shaken is that his heart and his flesh are secure in God. He will be protected—soul and body.”

Will David’s Flesh Really Never See Corruption?

Then Peter asks, „How will they be protected? How safe is David really? Will he not die? Did he not die?” Peter reads on (Acts 2:27), „For thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let thy Holy One see corruption.” Peter looks at this for a long time. He ponders, „Will David’s flesh really never see corruption? Will David really never see the decaying effects of the Pit? Does he really expect this much protection for himself?”

And suddenly (or gradually?) it dawns on Peter that these words go beyond anything that David experienced. David did die! David was buried! David’s flesh did see corruption. So Peter recognizes that David is no longer speaking merely for himself. The Spirit has lifted him up to see the destiny of the second David. And the voice of the Messiah is heard prophetically in the voice of his father David.

This Is What Happened to Jesus!

And then the connection with Jesus hits home. This is what happened to Jesus! Peter makes the connection for us in Acts 2:31—”David foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.”

God’s Goal for Jesus’ Gladness

Now right here we begin to make the connection with that longing for happiness that I referred to back at the beginning. In Acts 2:28 Peter goes on to quote from the last verse of Psalm 16. But now we know that it is really Jesus, the Son of David, speaking through the voice of the prophet David:

Thou hast made known to me the ways of life;
thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.

And the psalm ends (though Peter doesn’t finish it), „In thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.”

In other words, what we see from this text is that God’s goal for Jesus Christ beyond the grave was that he might fill him with gladness. So he didn’t abandon his soul to Hades or let his flesh see corruption. He raised him from the dead to make him full of happiness forever and ever.

And what is the essence of this happiness?

Verse 28 says, „Thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.” Which means that we end this 13-week series on the pleasures of God where we began—with God the Son and God the Father delighting in each other’s presence. „Thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.”

But what does Jesus experience in the presence of God? What are the pleasures in God’s right hand?

The first thing that comes to mind is glory. Jesus had prayed in John 17:5, „Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory which I had with you before the world was made.” Jesus had laid down his glory in order to suffer for us. Now he is eager to take it up again.

And the Father was eager to give it. That’s what Paul means when he says (in Philippians 2:8–11), „God has highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Our Gladness and the Gladness of the Risen God

Now what does the gladness of the risen God have to do with us?

Sanctioning the Pursuit of Gladness

Jesus didn’t just happen upon this gladness beyond the grave; he pursued it with all his might. Hebrews 12:2 says, „For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God.”

In other words, Jesus was able to endure the cross because he knew it was leading to the Father’s presence where there is „fullness of joy” and to the Father’s right hand where there are „pleasures for evermore.”

This means that, if you are here this morning with a deep longing for happiness, you will not be told by Jesus Christ that this longing is bad, or that it must be denied or that you should have nobler goals on Easter than happiness. Jesus lived for the joy that was set before him. He is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. And therefore he sanctioned the thirst of our souls by the thirst of his own.

Is Jesus for Us or for Himself?

But there’s more that has to do with us. If all Jesus wanted was the glory and gladness that he had with his Father before the world was, why did he come into the world in the first place? The Bible says, Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners like you and me (1 Timothy 1:15).

But someone might say, I thought you said he was pursuing his own joy. You said he wanted to be glorified by the Father. Which is it? Does he want his own glory and his own gladness or does he want ours? This has been the key question of this whole series on the pleasures of God. Is he for us or for himself?

Listen to his own answer one last time from John 17:24, „Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which you have given me . . . before the foundation of the world.”

Yes he is for himself because he longs for the glory and the gladness of his Father’s presence. And yes he is for us, because he wants us with him there.

The Doubly Wonderful Message of Easter

The message of Easter is doubly wonderful.

It is wonderful to see the suffering Son coming home to the Father. What a reunion that must have been when Creator embraced Creator and said, „Well done Son. Welcome home.” What a wonderful thing to see the bloody Passover Lamb of Good Friday crowned with glory and honor, and handed the scepter of the universe!

But it is also wonderful to hear Jesus say, „I want others to be with me, Father. I want others to share my glory. I want my gladness in your glory to overflow like a mountain spring and become the gladness of others. I want my joy in you to be in them and their joy to be full forever and ever.”

On Easter Sunday morning Jesus blew the lock off the prison of death and gloom and returned to the gladness of God. With that he put his sanction on the pursuit of happiness. And he opened the way for sinners to find never-ending satisfaction at the fountain of the glory of his grace.

From the right hand of God he speaks to everyone of us today and invites us to the never-ending banquet: „I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst (John 6:35) . . . I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25–26).
By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

Reclame

Al Mohler and Jim Wallis Social Justice Debate at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Here’s a debate that I had the pleasure of attending in October, at the Chapel of  Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield,Illinois) and which is part of an ongoing series of debates held through the University’s prestigious Carl F. Henry Center. I just wish more time was allotted for a meaningful dialogue and that all relevant subjects related to social justice would have been broached.  All that aside, it was an interesting debate. My take away was Albert Mohler’s statement that „the church ought to do what only the church was called to do, and that is to proclaim the Gospel. When people’s lives are transformed by the Gospel, social justice becomes part of our works.

 

October 27, 2011  Is Social Justice an Essential Part of the Mission of the Church?

Participants –  Jim Wallis – “Yes”    Dr. R. Albert Mohler – “No”

Moderator – Chris Firestone

Location – ATO Chapel (TEDS)

Description:

North American Evangelicals have recently experienced a revival of interest in issues of social justice. The growing sentiment among many today is that Jesus preached “good news to the poor,” and was indeed among the poor and marginalized. These Christians believe that the implications of these facts should renew the church’s understanding of the gospel and its mission. Rightly or wrongly, this interest in social justice is transforming the blueprint and vision of ecclesial ministry.

For others, this blueprint conjures up concerns about 20th century liberal Protestantism and a watering down of the gospel’s message of salvation. The defining mission of the church, for them, continues to be the sharing of the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to all nations, generations, and social classes. The issue of social justice, though important, is not to be considered as an essential part of the mission of the church.

A basic question at the heart of the debate is this: Is social justice an essential part of the mission of the church?

The Henry Center for Theological Understanding, in its Trinity Debates forum, is pleased to provide a public venue for addressing this question by hosting two prominent voices from competing perspectives. Jim Wallis will answer “Yes” and R. Albert Mohler will answer “No.”

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Henry Center | Video Player, posted with vodpod

The (Our) Problem with Putting Jesus First

photo – http://www.trinitychurchofgod.org

Don’t Put Jesus First This Year–Seriously

This article makes so much sense! It is not the word of God that is faulty ( see  Colossians 1:15-20 ) but our human methods in appling it. Read on…   Original source here. (www.churchleaders.com)

by Steven Furtick, the Lead Pastor of Elevation Church, an incredible move of God in Charlotte, NC.

More from Steven Furtick or visit

Steven at www.stevenfurtick.com

I have one piece of advice for you as we start out this New Year:

Don’t put Jesus first this year.

Yes, you read that correctly. Before you label me a heretic, let me explain.

I imagine that many of you are going through a similar process as me right now of setting and resetting your priorities. Personally, I love this time of year. I’m a very goal-oriented individual, and I’ve found that reprioritizing and recalibrating your life is an indispensable activity if you really want to actualize your potential.

And here’s what it usually looks like. We start by putting Jesus at the top. Then family. Then maybe career. And so on. So our priorities look something like this:

1. Jesus/God
2. Family
3. Career

Looks good. However, I’ve found that this isn’t very effective when you get down to the grind of everyday life. For example, what does it even mean to put Jesus before my family? Do I ignore my family to spend more time with Jesus? Or with your career, do you stop working to put Jesus first?

The essential problem with this approach is that it segregates the different priorities of life. You end up removing Jesus from where you spend the majority of your time and putting Him on an island by Himself. The biggest island maybe, but an island nonetheless.

I don’t think this is the way it was ever supposed to work. Colossians 1:15-20 repeatedly tells us that Jesus is first before and over everything. But it also says that all things were created through and for Him. That in Him all things hold together. That the goal of the cross was to reconcile all things to Himself.

So Jesus is first. He is first in order. He is first in importance. But He is so because He is the center of everything.

That’s what He should be in your life. And consequently, the thing that is at the center of your life is the thing that is ultimately first in your life.

This year, instead of worrying about putting Jesus first in your life, what if you concentrated on making Him the center of every area of your life? Not just the top priority in front of every other priority, but the top priority in every priority?

Not Jesus, then my family. But Jesus in my family.
Not Jesus, then my career. But Jesus in my career.

We’d probably be a lot more successful in actually keeping Jesus at the top spot on our list. And we’d be much more likely to do an exponentially greater job at accomplishing our other goals and maintaining our priorities.

The Use of Your Time (Jonathan Edwards) – Steve Lawson

via http://www.illbehonest.com On Jonathan Edwards’ 1723 Resolutions

You can read or listen to Jonathan Edwards resolutions being read in the preceding post here.

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The Use of Your Time (Jonathan Edwards) – Steve…, posted with vodpod

The Anatomy of Backsliding

by John Piper. Read post at www.desiringGod.org

PSALMS 119:176

I have gone astray like a lost sheep;
seek thy servant,
for I do not forget thy commandments.

Introduction

The truth about our experience is that we fail to live at the level of holiness that we know is fitting for a follower of Christ. We need to see how this same reality of imperfection turns up in the saints of Scripture and how they handled it.

The Structure of Psalm 119

Psalm 119 is the most sustained act of praise and commitment to the Word of God in all the Bible.

It is composed of 22 stanzas of 8 verses each. Each of the 22 stanzas is built on a different Hebrew letter, of which there are 22 in the Hebrew alphabet. In each of the stanzas, each of the eight verses begins with the letter of that stanza.

Why This Structure?

It is the sort of thing you do when you „delight in the law of the Lord” (PSALM 1:2) and when you believe (with PSALM 19:7–10) that:

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring for ever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.

It is a way of passing the time of night or day rolling the Word over in your mind, seeing how many different angles you can see.

It is a reveling in the riches of the Word. Like when we wanted to honor Elsie, we took the letters of her name and thought up words to describe her.

The Background for the Shocking Last Verse

That is the background for the last verse of the psalm, a verse that comes as a shock, because there is nothing quite like it anywhere else in the psalm—a confession that, in spite of all that has gone before, he has now backslidden and gone astray. Verse 176:

I have gone astray like a lost sheep;
seek thy servant,
for I do not forget thy commandments.

Three Parts to the Anatomy of Backsliding

1. „I have gone astray like a lost sheep . . .

The saints sometimes go astray.

  • He was a saint:
    • his love for the law—v. 97
    • his life of prayer—vv. 145, 147 (whole psalm!)
    • his persistent praise of the Word—v. 164
    • his track record of obedience—vv. 22, 100f., 110, 121
  • He went astray:
    • he admits it openly in this verse—v. 176
    • it is not the first time—v. 67
    • the battle will not be over to the end of life; perhaps this is why he puts it last: after all his success the battle for holiness goes on!
  • Like a lost sheep:
    • „lost” in Hebrew also means perishing
    • sheep will die if not found

2. ” . . . seek your servant . . . ”

True saints cry out to be found when straying.

  • He is not content to stray.
  • He admits his need of help: „Seek me!”
  • How does he anticipate God’s intervention?
    • be gracious—v. 58
    • revive me—v. 25
    • open my eyes—v. 18 (cf. 129!)
    • incline my heart—vv. 36f., 112 (cf. 165!)
    • teach me—vv. 12, 26f., 29, etc.
    • strengthen me—vv. 28, 133
    • afflict me—vv. 67, 71

Note: though he gives God the tribute of having power to rescue him, he does not fault God for his straying. God is not guilty that I am prone to wander. He is not bound to rescue me in any time but his own, if at all.

What is the saint’s assurance of God’s willingness to seek him?

3. ” . . . for I do not forget your commandments.”

True saints cannot erase the law that has been written on their heart by the Spirit of God. They remain there beckoning and enticing.

  • The spiritual taste for God cannot be wholly obliterated in the heart of the saints.
  • Saints not only call on God to seek them, they seek God through his Word. „Not forgetting” is a litotes for „really remember and call to mind.”
  • Connection to Communion:
    • ISAIAH 53:6—”All we like sheep . . . „
    • JOHN 10:11—”I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
© Desiring God

Perry Stone – The Curse of Casual Christianity in the home

Perry Stone discusses with Mark Casto- Today we have the most  addicted (youth) generation ever. Addicted to pornography, homosexuality, drugs and alcohol. Can God facilitate change  only through the Church or does it need to happen in the home also, since we started turning away from the Lord in our homes first?

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Perry Stone – The Curse of Casual Christianity …, posted with vodpod

Through the Gates of Splendor – 5 missionaries speared to death on January 8, 1956 on a beach in Ecuador (documentary)

A beautifully crafted documentary about five young missionaries who were martyred by a savage tribe of Indians in the mid 1950s and the heroic effort of reconciliation that has followed.

The killing of five missionaries in the Amazon jungle captured the attention of a nation and prompted one of the widows to write the best-selling Through Gates of Splendor. But what would remain untold for a half a century is the incredible response to these deaths. Beyond the Gates of Splendor, a stirring documentary by director Jim Hanon and producer Mart Green, brings this story to life. The film traces friendships forming on a Midwest college campus, young families venturing out to the South American mission field, and the heartbreak of a bloody beach in Ecuador. Five lives taken by the most violent tribe on earth. The tragedy compels several of the women to risk their lives, and those of their children, to live alongside their husbands’ killers. Through the example of these brave women, a brutal, warring culture is transformed, murderers become healers, and what was once known as the cradle of darkness becomes a community of light and hope.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Related articles

Get Wisdom (1) or Advice for Reading Theology Books Even Though You’re Busy

by John Piper. You can listen to the audio of this sermon here at www.desiringGod.org Piper gives some very encouraging instructions on how to read those big (long) books we’ve always wished we could read at the bottom of his post.

PROVERBS 4:1–13

I believe all men have this in common: that they want to be happy. They do not all agree on what brings the greatest happiness, but they do all long to have it. And this longing is not bad. It is good. Evil consists in trying to find happiness in ways that displease and dishonor God. Goodness consists in finding happiness in ways that please and honor God. We can conceive of a world in which we might be called upon to do right at the expense of our ultimate happiness. But that is not the world in which we live. God has established this world in such a way that doing good through faith in Christ always leads to greater happiness eventually. We do not live in a world where we must choose between our eternal happiness and God’s glory! God has created this world and its moral laws in such a way that the more we choose to glorify God, the happier we will be.

John Piper's church. Also see here

God Made Us to Be Eternally Happy

Of course this does not mean that there is no discipline, no self-denial. „If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Forwhoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (MARK 8:3435). But it is clear from Jesus’ words that self-denial is a means to saving our lives. This means simply that we must stop seeking our happiness in one way and start seeking it in another. Therefore what sets Christians off from the world is not that we have given up on the universal quest for happiness, but that we now seek our happiness from a different source and in different ways. We have learned from Jesus, who „for the joy set before him endured the cross” (HEBREWS 12:2), that the joy we seek may require that we choose to suffer for Christ’s sake.

Yet we must never become self-pitying because „the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (ROMANS 8:18). Nor can we ever become proud since we know that „suffering produces patience, and patience produces approvedness, and approvedness produces hope” (ROMANS 5:34)—hope that God will restore our happiness one hundredfold (MARK 10:30). So you can’t boast in your sufferings since they are all bringing about our greater happiness in God.

So I take it to be a great and wonderful and liberating truth that God made us to be eternally happy. And I find great help in viewing the Bible as God’s guidebook to joy. We ought to view the Bible as a divine prescription for how to be cured of all unhappiness. The medicine it prescribes is not always sweet, but the cure it brings is infinite and eternal joy at God’s right hand (PSALM 16:11).

The point of my message this morning is that we should „get wisdom.” We should bend all our efforts to become wiser tomorrow than we are today. And I speak not just to students and graduates, but to us all. Graduation today at Bethel gives me an occasion to say something that applies to us all, namely, that formal education is only one stage in the process of becoming a wise person. So much of life has been professionalized and institutionalized that we easily slip into the notion that it is the responsibility of some profession or some institution to impart to us wisdom. You can see this tendency in the fact that continuing education in many spheres is thought of entirely in terms of taking courses from professionals in institutions.

The implication seems to be that wisdom and understanding are something you purchase with tuition and class fees, rather than being a daily, lifelong process of growth. But what I want to stress this morning is that we should never be content with the wisdom we attained through formal education, and we should not think that the only way to grow in our understanding is by taking more courses. When the wise man says in PROVERBS 4:5, „Get wisdom, get insight,” he does not mean, „Go to school, take more courses.” That might be part of God’s plan for you. But for most of us it is not. Yet the command comes to us all: „Get wisdom!” What does this mean? How shall we do it? And why is it so important?

What Is the Importance of Getting Wisdom?

Let’s begin by asking why is it so important? We have already seen that all men seek happiness, and that this is not bad but good. Now the reason that getting wisdom is important is that it is the practical knowledge by which we gain this true and lasting happiness. PROVERBS 3:13 says, „Happy is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gets understanding.” PROVERBS 24:13–14 says, „My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”

In other words, by means of wisdom you can make your way into a hope-filled future. It is the key to lasting happiness. PROVERBS 19:8 says, „He who gets wisdom loves himself.” In other words, do yourself a favor: Get wisdom! Get wisdom!PROVERBS 8:32–36 sums it all up beautifully. Here wisdom herself is speaking and she says, „And now, my sons, listen to me: happy are those who keep my ways . . .Happy is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord; but he who misses me injures himself; all who hate me love death.” If we do not make it our aim to „get wisdom,” we will suffer injury and finally death. Therefore, the command, „Get wisdom; get insight,” is very important. As PROVERBS 16:16 puts it, „To get wisdom is better than gold; to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.” It is a matter of life and death. The ultimate, eternal happiness that all people long for will only be found by those who first „get wisdom.”

I say that ultimate and eternal happiness is what wisdom will bring, because I want to emphasize that not all happiness comes from true wisdom. PROVERBS 15:21 says, „Folly is a joy to him who has no sense.” Our thirst for happiness is insatiable in this world, and if we do not have the wisdom to seek it in God, then we will find whatever substitutes we can in the world. Terrorists may find it in shooting presidents and popes. Executives may find it in climbing the corporate ladder. Athletes in breaking world records. Scholars in publishing books. Gamblers may find it in Reno. Musicians in selling a million records. The sources where people seek happiness apart from God are countless: drink, drugs, sex, suntans, television, tubing, eating, talking, walking, etc., etc. But the happiness that these things bring is not true and lasting. It is not ultimate and eternal. It is not the joy for which we were made. And, therefore, it leaves us unsatisfied, frustrated, incomplete, knowing that there must be something more. But that ultimate and eternal happiness that we crave is only found by wisdom. Therefore it is supremely important that we „get wisdom.”

What Is Wisdom?

Now what is it? What are the characteristics of the person who has it? The first characteristic you all know: „The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (PROVERBS 9:10). The wisdom that leads to life and ultimate joy begins with knowing and fearing God. You may recall from two weeks ago in the message, „A Woman Who Fears the Lord Is to Be Praised,” that fearing the Lord means fearing to run away from him. It means fearing to seek refuge, and joy, and hope anywhere other than in God. It means keeping before our eyes what a fearful prospect it is to stop trusting and depending on God to meet our needs. The fear of the Lord is, therefore, the beginning of wisdom not only in the sense that it is the first step in a wise way to live, but also in the sense that all the later characteristics of wisdom flow from the fear of the Lord like a river flows from a spring.

Let’s look at some examples. PROVERBS 11:2 says, „When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but with the humble is wisdom.” The wise person is characterized by humility. The person who is proud does not fear the Lord, who hates a haughty spirit, and therefore can’t get to first base in wisdom. But the person who fears the Lord is humble, because he depends on God for everything and fears to take credit himself for what God does. Humility, in turn, is foundational for the other aspects of godly wisdom because humility is teachable and open to change and growth. The proud person does not like to admit his errors and his need for growth. But the humble person is open to counsel and reason, and ready to be corrected and follow truth.

Humility, unlike pride, does not recoil when commanded to do something. And this is essential for the advancement of wisdom, because Moses taught us that wisdom consists in knowing and doing the commandments of God. DEUTERONOMY 4:5–6, „Behold I have taught you statutes and ordinances, as the Lord my God commanded me that you should do them . . . Keep them and do them; for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples.” And Jesus said the same thing about his own words, „Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon a rock” (MATTHEW 7:24). A good definition of godly wisdom, therefore, would be: hearing and doing God’s Word. God’s Word is a divine prescription for how to be finally cured of all unhappiness. Wisdom is the practical knowledge of how to attain that happiness. Therefore, wisdom is hearing and doing the Word of God. But the only people who will do this are the people who are humbly relying on God for help and who fear to seek happiness anywhere but in him. Therefore, the fear of the Lord is the beginning and spring of all true wisdom.

But something more has to be said about the nature of this wisdom. It is not enough to say it is a humble hearing and doing of God’s Word, because God’s Word does not address itself specifically to every human dilemma. A famous example from Solomon’s life will illustrate (1 KINGS 3:16–28). One day two prostitutes came to King Solomon. One of them said, „My lord, this woman and I live in the same house, and we each gave birth to a son last week. And one night while she was asleep, she rolled over on her son and smothered it. So she got up at midnight and took my living son from me while I slept and left me with her dead son. When I woke in the morning and looked closely, I could tell it was not my son.” But the other woman said, „No, the living child is mine, and the dead child is yours.” And so they argued before the king.

Then the king said, „You both say the living child is yours. I will settle the matter; bring me a sword.” So a sword was brought and the king said, „Divide the living child in two and give half to the one woman and half to the other.” But the woman whose son was alive yearned for her son and said, „No, my lord, give her the child and by no means slay it.” And the other said: „It shall be neither mine nor yours, divide it.” Then the king said, „Give the living child to the first woman. She is its mother.” The story concludes with this observation: „And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had rendered; and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him, to render justice” (1 KINGS 3:28).

There was no biblical command to tell Solomon what to do when two harlots claim the same baby. Therefore, wisdom must go beyond knowing and doing the Word of God. Wisdom must include a sensitive, mature judgment or discernment of how the fear of the Lord should work itself out in all the circumstances not specifically dealt with in the Bible. There has to be what Paul calls in ROMANS 12:2 A „renewing of the mind” which is then able to examine and approve the will of God. He calls this a „spiritual wisdom” in COLOSSIANS 1:9, „We have not ceased to pray for you, that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Of course the wisdom which follows God’s Word and the wisdom which discerns the way to act when there is no clear word from God are not separate. It is precisely by saturating our minds and hearts with God’s Word that we gain the spiritual wisdom to guide us in all situations.

So in summary, when the Bible says, „Get wisdom,” it is referring to that practical knowledge of how to attain true and lasting happiness. It begins with the fear of the Lord and consists in humbly hearing and doing God’s will perceived both in Scripture and in the unique circumstances of the moment. Such wisdom is essential because the person who has it finds life and joy, but the person who doesn’t finds death and misery. Therefore, „Get wisdom! Get wisdom!”

How Can We Get Wisdom?

– Now finally I want to mention five biblical instructions for how to get this wisdom.Firstdesire wisdom with all your might. PROVERBS 4:8 says, „Prize her highly and she will exalt you; she will honor you for your embrace.” These are not cheap words. To prize something and to embrace someone are signs of intense desire and love. Wisdom must be valuable for us. We must be willing to sell all in order to buy it: „Seek it like silver, and search for it as for hidden treasure” (PROVERBS 2:4). Blessed is the graduate who walks through the commencement line more hungry for wisdom than when he entered school, for he shall be satisfied.

Second, since wisdom is found in the Word of God, we must apply ourselves in study and meditation to know the Word and do it. „The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” (PSALM 19:7). Therefore, we must devote ourselves to know and understand the testimonies of the Lord. And here I commend not only faithful Bible study, but also regular reading of great books on theology and biblical interpretation, books that distill the wisdom of the greatest students of the word over the past 1900 years.

Now, I know what you are thinking: I don’t have the time or the ability to get anywhere in books like that. So I want to show you something really encouraging. When this was shown to me about four years ago by my pastor, it changed my life. Most of us don’t aspire very high in our reading because we don’t feel like there is any hope. But listen to this. Suppose you read about 250 words a minute and that you resolve to devote just 15 minutes a day to serious theological reading to deepen your grasp of biblical truth. In one year (365 days) you would read for 5,475 minutes. Multiply that times 250 words per minute and you get 1,368,750 words per year. Now most books have between 300 and 400 words per page. So if we take 350 words per page and divide that into 1,368,750 words per year, we get 3,910 pages per year. This means that at 250 words a minute, 15 minutes a day, you could read about 20 average sized books a year!

When I heard that, I went home, analyzed my day, and set aside the 15 minutes just before supper to read Jonathan Edwards’ big book, Original Sin. And I did it in a couple of months. Then I turned to something else. I was absolutely elated: reading that I thought never could get done was now getting done in a 15 minute slot that would have been wasted anyway. Therefore, I encourage you, there is hope. Choose some classics that you’ve always wanted to read (St. Augustine’sConfessions, or City of God; John Calvin’s Institutes; Martin Luther’s Commentary on Galatians, or Bondage of the Will; John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress; Jonathan Edwards’ Religious Affections; etc.), and set aside 15 minutes, maybe just before you go to sleep, to read. You will not be the same person next year at this time. Your mind will be stretched, your heart enlarged, your zeal more fervent. Above all, you will have grown in wisdom. And it may not be long until someone says of you: „The words of his mouth are as deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a gushing spring” (PROVERBS 18:4).

The third thing we should do to get wisdom is pray. Solomon was not born a wise man. He prayed for wisdom and God said, „Because you have asked this and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold now I do according to your word” (1 KINGS 3:11). And Daniel admitted that in himself he had no wisdom (DANIEL 2:30), but he said, „To thee, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for thou hast given me wisdom and strength, and hast made known to me what we asked of thee” (2:23). And we have seen how Paul prayed that the churches might be given „spiritual wisdom” (COLOSSIANS 1:9) and that they might have „a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of God” (EPHESIANS 1:17). And finally, James puts it as clearly as we could wish: „If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God” (JAMES 1:5). The wisdom that leads to true and lasting happiness is not natural or inborn. It is supernatural. It is a gift of God. Therefore, if we would „get wisdom,” we must pray.

The fourth biblical instruction for how to get wisdom is to think frequently of your death. Or to put it another way, think of the shortness of this life and the infinite length of the next. PSALM 90:12 says, „So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” There is scarcely any thought that will purge our priorities of vain and worldly perceptions like the thought of our imminent death. O how cleansing it is to ponder the kind of life we would like to look back on when we come to die. There is great wisdom in such meditation. Therefore, think often of your dying.

Finally, there is one last, absolutely essential thing to do if you would „get wisdom”: you must come to Jesus. He said to the people of his day, „The queen of the south will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold something greater than Solomon is here” (MATTHEW 12:42). What an understatement. Greater than Solomon indeed! Solomon spoke God’s wisdom. Jesus is the wisdom of God (1 CORINTHIANS 1:2430). Others had spoken truth; he is the truth. Others had pointed the way to life; he is the way and the life (JOHN 14:6). Others had given promises, but „all the promises of God find their yes in him” (2 CORINTHIANS 1:20). Others had offered God’s forgiveness; Jesus bought it by his death. Therefore, in him are „hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (COLOSSIANS 2:3). To know and love and follow this Jesus is to own the treasure of ultimate and eternal happiness. Therefore, the command, „Get wisdom,” means first and foremost „Come to Jesus! Come to Jesus!” in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom.

© Desiring God

Burn Out

by Al Baker from the Banner of Truth Trust UK

The seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:18)

Are you presently living with a sense of hopelessness, a sort of low grade depression where you tend to speak in negative absolutes? For example, do you say, ‘My marriage will never get better. God never answers my prayers. My husband never listens to me. We will never get out of debt. Our ministry is going no where.’ Are you ready to throw in the towel, to check out, to cash in your chips, to say, ‘I have had enough! I am leaving my husband. I am getting out of the ministry.’ Have you entertained the thought of ending your life, of saying, ‘What’s the use? I cannot go on any longer.’ Are you angry, given to outbursts of anger with your spouse or children at the slightest provocation? Are you mired in self-pity, saying things like, ‘My husband does not understand me. My children ignore me. I have nothing to offer anyone.’

If so, then you are probably suffering from what many call burn out or depression. What is this malady? From where does it come? And what is the remedy for it. James is putting forth the characteristics of a good teacher, one who influences others for the sake of righteousness, saying that this heavenly wisdom cascades down from the Triune God like the Tuolome River in Yosemite Park cascades down with great power from ten thousand feet, along the Tuolome River canyon for some twenty miles, bringing refreshing water to the valley. This wisdom flows from a fountainhead that thirsts for holiness. In James 1:4 we are told to be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing; and that if anyone lacks wisdom he is to ask God for it. The wisdom of holiness is higher than the wisdom of Solomon who wanted the ‘wisdom of skill’ to govern his people. That was a good start but he did not go far enough, eventually succumbing to the big three obstacles all men face — women, horses (power), and gold and silver (mammon). See Deuteronomy 17:14-17. The wisdom we need is not earthly (inanimate like a rock or tree), natural (literally the Greek word means sensual), or demonic (inspired by the devil and hell), but is heavenly — pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, and without hypocrisy. The seedbed of this heavenly wisdom yields a fruitful garden of righteousness and holiness, the exact opposite of the breeding ground of earthly wisdom which yields bitter jealousy and selfish ambition where nothing can grow, where everything dies.

What is burn out? It is a mental, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion. This is evident in the lives of both Elijah and Jonah. In 1 Kings 19:4ff, after Elijah’s remarkable confrontation with the prophets of Baal, when he prayed down fire from heaven to burn up the water-soaked sacrifice at which the priests of Baal were woefully unsuccessful, he heard of Jezebel’s desire to kill him. He was overwhelmed with this mental, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion, asking God to take his life. He could not go further. He wanted to quit. He wanted to die. If there were so few who followed God, then life was not worth living. And we see the same thing in Jonah after this racial and religious bigot was angry with God for converting thousands of the pagan people at Nineveh. He sat down in anger, telling God that he too wanted to die. Both evidenced a sense of hopelessness, suicidal tendencies, anger, and self-pity. How about you? Do these characterize your life at this present time?

And second, from where does burn out come? Often it occurs after major accomplishments in one’s life — the birth of a child, a daughter’s wedding, the successful completion of a major project. See both Elijah and Jonah. Often it happens after some major upheaval, good or bad, in one’s life — the death of a spouse or parent, a transfer to another city far from home, taking a new and demanding job.

Tissot-Moses strikes the rock

But burn out always comes when one lives by earthly, natural, or demonic wisdom, that which is a breeding ground for destruction, a seedbed of devastation. Earthly wisdom often seems logical, the right thing to do. God earlier told Moses to strike the rock and water would flow to quench the thirst of the Israelites in the wilderness (Exod. 17:6). So when God later told Moses (Num. 20:8ff) to speak to the rock and the same would happen, he decided to do his own thing and strike it. God judged him, telling Moses that he would not enter the Promised Land because of his rebellion. And when David was bringing the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem on an ox cart, after its absence for many years, in the midst of great rejoicing, the oxen nearly upset the Ark which was falling off the cart. When Uzzah tried to steady the Ark God struck him dead (2 Sam. 6:1ff). Our ways are not God’s ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts (Isa. 55:8). He chooses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise (1 Cor. 1:27). Earthly wisdom says, ‘Lay up treasures on earth . . . walk by sight . . . live under the sun.’ It makes sense, doesn’t it, to hoard your wealth for a rainy day, an unexpected setback? But when doing so one can jeopardize the ministry of his church or the immediate need of a missionary. It makes sense to live by what you see, to not trust the unseen God, to work ridiculous hours or to skip church to finish a project, ‘to make things happen.’ It makes sense to live under the sun, as though this is all there is, to hold onto the temporal you can touch, and to neglect the eternal which you cannot hold in your hand. In other words, burn out comes from unrealized and unnecessary earthly expectations. A pastor expects a thriving, larger ministry; a married couple expects a house full of children; a young businessman expects to be on top by the age of forty. This is living by earthly, natural, and demonic wisdom which will bring you down into the valley of despair. It is a seedbed of death that will yield a garden of death and despondency.

Finally, what is the remedy for burn out? Two things are vital. First, you must desire heavenly wisdom. Instead of laying up treasures on earth, lay them up in heaven. Don’t hoard things, use them. Invest them in the eternal kingdom of God. Instead of walking by sight, walk by faith. Believe the promises of God. Take them at face value like a child. God says he will meet your every need in Christ Jesus. He says that he will never leave you nor forsake you. He says that no good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly. Believe what he says and act on that belief. And instead of living under the sun like Solomon in parts of Ecclesiastes, live under heaven, living with heaven in full view, getting to the place where the glory of heaven is as real to you as is sitting in a chair in your living room. Solomon’s depressing language is directly related to living under the sun.

We see the benefits of this heavenly wisdom played out in the Apostle Paul who says that he considers the sufferings of this present time not worthy to be compared with the glory that awaits us (Rom. 8:17), who says that this momentary light affliction is working in us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison (2 Cor. 4:17).

And second, you must fear God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Prov. 9:10). Fearing God means that you love what he loves and hate what he hates. It means desiring his smile and dreading his frown more than anything. It means seeing God in every circumstance of your life and rejoicing. It means running daily to the river of grace filled with the blood of Jesus and the living water of the Spirit.

I have been ‘in the nineteenth century’ quite a bit lately, reading of the great saints and great movements God at the time. John Milne of Perth, Scotland is one of those men mightily used of God in the Scottish revival of the late 1830’s, early 1840’s.1 In 1847 at the age of forty Milne finally slowed down enough to marry. Within a year a daughter was born to John and his wife, Robina, but she died at eight months. But then God gave them a son, but shortly after his birth, Robina died. And finally a few months later his two year old son died. As Bonar says, ‘During this time Milne was hardly ever out of the furnace.’ As he told to a friend, ‘I am all alone.’ In his grief Milne went on with his life, became a missionary in Calcutta for a few years, remarried, and eventually came back to Perth and remained a faithful pastor until his death at the age of sixty-one.

How do you overcome burn out? It will not come by earthly wisdom. That will only exacerbate your problems. You must seek heavenly wisdom like fine gold or silver. You must fear God.



Notes:

1. One of the better biographies I have read recently is The Life of John Milne of Perth, written by his friend Horatius Bonar and published by the Banner of Truth. I highly recommend it.

Rev. Allen M Baker is Pastor of Christ Community Presbyterian Church in West Hartford, Connecticut.

www.christcpc.org

Al Baker’s sermons are now available on www.sermonaudio.com.

Puritan Advice on Discovering God’s Will via Jonathan Parnell, Desiring God

(via) desiringGod.org

John Flavel:

If therefore in doubtful cases you would discover God’s will, govern yourselves in your search after it by the following rules:

  1. Get the true fear of God upon your hearts. Be really afraid of offending him. God will not hide his mind from such a soul. „The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant” (Psalm 25:14).
  2. Study the Word more, and the concerns and interests of the world less. The Word is light to your feet (Psalm 119:105), that is, it has a discovering and directing usefulness as to all duties to be done and dangers to be avoided. . .
  3. Reduce what you know into practice, and you shall know what is your duty to practice. „If any man do his will he shall know of the doctrine” (John 7:17). „A good understanding have all they that do his commandments” (Psalm 111:10).
  4. Pray for illumination and direction in the way that you should go. Beg the Lord to guide you in straits and that he would not permit you to fall into sin. . .
  5. And this being done, follow Providence so far as it agrees with the Word and no further. There is no use to be made of Providence against the Word, but in subservience to it.

The Mystery of Providence, 1678, (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2006), 188-9, emphasis mine.

Who was John Flavel (via) Monergism.com

jfla.jpgJohn Flavel (1628 – 1691)

John Flavel (or Flavell) was born in 1628 in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. He was the son of Richard Flavel, a minister who died of the plague in 1665 while in prison for nonconformity. John Flavel was educated by his father in the ways of religion, then “plied his studies hard” as a commoner at University College, Oxford. In 1650, he was ordained by the presbytery at Salisbury. He settled in Diptford, where he honed his numerous gifts.

He married Joan Randall, a godly woman, who died while giving birth to their first child in 1655. The baby died as well. After a year of mourning, Flavel married Elizabeth Stapell and was again blessed with a close, God-fearing marriage, as well as children.

In 1656, Flavel accepted a call to be minister in the thriving seaport of Dartmouth. He earned a smaller income there, but his work was more profitable; many were converted. One of his parishioners wrote of Flavel, “I could say much, though not enough of the excellency of his preaching; of his seasonable, suitable, and spiritual matter; of his plain expositions of Scripture; his talking method, his genuine and natural deductions, his convincing arguments, his clear and powerful demonstrations, his heart-searching applications, and his comfortable supports to those that were afflicted in conscience. In short, that person must have a very soft head, or a very hard heart, or both, that could sit under his ministry unaffected” (Erasmus Middleton, Evangelical Biography, 4:50-51). read more….

Excerpt from Meet the Puritans by Dr. Joel Beeke and Randall J. Pederson

 

UGANDA – The Story of a National Transformation – Povestea Transformarii a Unei Natiuni (subtitrare in Limba Romana)

Via AlfaOmegaTV

Video cu subtitrare in Limba Romana – Cum a devenit Uganda tara crestina si incercarile prin care au trecut credinciosii. Printre marturiiile acestui video, un frate Penticostal povesteste cum un grup a fost asaltat de soldati cu intentia sa ii impuste pe toti, dar, ei se rugau in Engleza si apoi au inceput sa se roage in limbi si soldatii avind confuzie s-au oprti din macelul intentionat.

Uganda…o tara in inima Africii. Astazi este o tara care se dezvolta tot mai mult. Este bine sa traiesti aici. Dar lucrurile nu au stat la fel si in trecut. Peste tot sunt dovezi care amintesc de anii de suferinta din timpul razboiului civil, de crimele brutale, un trecut intunecat, in timpul caruia crestinii au suferit foarte mult. In 1975, Idi Amin a declarat Uganda o tara musulmana. De la declaratia de independenta in 1960, Uganda nu a prea cunoscut vremuri de pace Astazi Uganda este o tara unde oamenii se roaga pe strazi, in guvern si viata este total diferita.

Avoid anything that causes you to lust by Clay Jones

portrait of Clay JonesClay Jones is Assistant Professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Learn more about Clay here. He has started a series of posts on his blog on the subject of Sexual Temptation. You can follow him here.

In this particular post Jones gives helpful guidance on how to deal with lust. He states that:

Christians need to alarm about absolutely, positively every little bit of lust.

and gives points on how to take steps in order to control lusts. The first step he gives is:

Avoid anything that causes you to lust. I have found, however, that some people will say that they can watch a certain amount of sensuality, sexuality, or nudity and it doesn’t encourage them to lust. But, the trouble is that the reason these people say it doesn’t stumble them is they see so much extremely lustful material that they hardly realize that these little bits fuel their lack of self-control….

So, then, don’t read, watch, or listen to anything that encourages or causes lust. Nothing. If you can’t keep your eyes off jiggling bikinis, don’t go to the beach! If you lust after an actor in your favorite TV show—don’t watch it! Obviously this will result in a major lifestyle change for many.

Matthew 16:24: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Read another really good article by Clay Jones entitled-

“Lust: Are We Willing to Do what It Takes?”

and visit his page of the christian perspective on the topic of Sex here.

Additional articles by Clay Jones- short, biblical and to the point. A must read:

The submissive wife by Brian Chapell (essential read)

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything (Eph 5:22-24).

When Fergie married Andrew we marveled at the days of pageantry surrounding the wedding, but what most of us remember is a moment when their vows were taken. Fergie was supposed to say to her groom, “I promise to love, honor, and obey…” She did say the phrase, but not without a sideways grin at the Prince that said much more. Her look could hardly have more clearly articulated the new Duchess’s thought: “You gotta be kidding. Nobody really believes those anachronisms about wifely submission anymore, and you had better not!” She repeated the vows, but with a toss of her head Fergie as clearly tossed away the content of those words without any indication of what commitments should or could take their place. In hindsight, that smirk of bemused lip service to traditions not intended to be truly honored has become a sad illustration of a royal marriage gone awry. But it is not merely royalty to whom the illustration applies.

It is my guess that if we strip away party platforms and lip service we too readily give to the official positions of our churches, political agendas, families, or traditions we will also find large question marks remain in all the thinking people about the current responsibilities of women in marriage. Hal Farnsworth, a Reformed University Ministries campus minister at Vanderbilt, tells me, “It does not matter whether the intelligent women on my campus are liberal feminists or conservative traditionalists, if you can get them to talk honestly about their deepest concerns most will say that even when they make choices according to one perspective that they constantly wonder if they are right. Deep down they are desperate for a credible authority to tell them what women are supposed to be.”

Sadly, our churches have not proved to be a credible enough authority to settle the issue even among themselves. I know of some churches that have urged women fed up with abusive husbands to leave their marriages. Others have used discipline to try to force women to submit to husbands guilty of the same offenses under the assumption that the abuse is a result of the women not being submissive enough. I hear the resultant confusion among my own relatives as women long committed to marriage and deeply desiring to honor Scripture have after decades of sacrifice cried out in emotional exhaustion and spiritual agony, “I know the Bible says to submit, but I can’t continue to live this way. I have tried, but I can’t keep on. I just can’t.”

From palaces to campuses to churches to our homes and hearts the questions echo: What really is a wife supposed to love, or to honor, or to obey? I do not have all the answers to the questions this fragmented and broken society demands that I consider. However, I do know that some of the flip answers we often give do not consider the complexity of our age, the dignity of each person, and the authority of God’s Word. Many of these principles appear in this passage which I cannot read without discovering a rather straight answer to the ultimate question we have to ask: “What is a Christian wife to be?” The inescapable answer here (for those who believe this Word is authoritative) is stated directly–a Christian wife is to be submissive. However, lest that answer merely be simplistic, we must carefully assess the requirements, nature, and goals of this submission.

The Duty of a Christian Wife
The duty to which God calls Christian wives could hardly be more clearly stated by the apostle: “Wives submit to your husbands as unto the Lord” (vs. 22). However, as you well know, simply repeating the word “submit” or even giving its Greek origin (which means “to arrange under”) does not tell us all we feel we have to know. What does Paul intend for us to understand by submission?

Submission Does Not Mean “Nothing”
We know that submission cannot be an incidental term without meaning because of the comprehensive ways in which it is addressed. If we do not understand what submit means Paul first gives us a comparison analogy. Wives are to submit to their husbands “as to the Lord” (vs. 22). As all persons should arrange their lives under the righteous purposes of their Lord so wives should prioritize their lives relative to husbands’ purposes in God’s kingdom. Lest that comparison prove insufficient, the apostle then adds a more compelling example of his thought based on the relationship of Christ and the church. As the church submits to Christ as its head, so wives should submit to their husbands’ headship (vs. 23-24). As the church would never think it could fulfill its purposes without submission to the holy will of its Lord, the apostle reminds women that they cannot fulfill their divine purposes if they are not submitting to the biblical purposes of their husbands. Finally, lest we assume Paul only means these standards to apply to some narrow part of life, the apostle clarifies the comprehensive extent of his instruction by saying that “wives should submit to their husbands in everything (vs. 24).” These really are comprehensive words.

The Scope of Scripture’s Witness
As comprehensive as these words appear in this place, however, we might still find a way to narrow their intent if this seemed to be an exceptional passage. Then, our culture as well as our biblical interpretation principles of letting Scripture interpret Scripture and allowing clearer passages to interpret less obvious passages might well lead us to conclude these “submission” words do not really mean anything for us. We cannot draw such a conclusion in light of the consistent commitment of Scripture to these concepts.

Note that wives are instructed three times in this passage alone to subject their priorities to their husband’s authority. Paul uses the same or related terminology about husbands and wives in at least five other books (viz. 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 Timothy, and Titus). The Apostle Peter also tells wives, “be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without talk by the behavior of their wives” (1 Pt 3:1). This “gentle and quiet spirit” Peter then ties to Israel’s earliest history saying it was with such a demeanor that “Sarah obeyed Abraham” (1 Pt 3:4-6). Paul goes back even further in the Ephesians and Corinthians passages by relating this order of family relationships to the events of creation (vs. 31). The effect of this consistent witness is to spread the instruction for wives to submit to husbands not only over one passage, but across the Pauline material, through the New Testament, to Israel’s origins and throughout humanity’s history. Submission (so comprehensive in its imperatives, scope, and duration) cannot mean nothing.

Submission Does Mean Something
The something that submission means is perhaps most obvious in light of the purpose it fulfills. Paul reminds us of this when in the same passage he refers to the genesis of the marriage relationship saying, “For this reason a man will leave his Father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery…” (vs. 31, 32). These words tell us that submission is the pouring oneself into the completion of another. It is the sacrificing of self to make a relationship, and those in it, whole. Paul says this is a profound mystery and we can well attest to that. It is so past our explaining (and yet so obvious to us) that God has made those of us not gifted for celibacy so that we are never quite whole–in our relational maturity, in our personal development, or even in our spirituality–without those he intends to complement and complete us in marital oneness.

We will look at another individual (or even at ourselves) after a few years of marriage and say, “That person has so matured, so leveled out, or become so less self-absorbed since marrying so and so.” At least, that is what we say if the marriage is functioning well. If the marriage is going poorly, we typically recognize that the self-absorption, immaturity, or character flaws may be even more prominent. When the real oneness God intends for marriage does not occur, then the people themselves become less whole. Though this is a mystery it fits precisely with the pattern of Scripture which tells us that since God made us such that marriage would make us whole, then the abuse or neglect of that union must damage us.

Ultimately it is this knowledge of the way in which our lives affect each other that directs our understanding about what the apostle says here about the mutual responsibilities of marriage. To the husband is given the authority for the sacrificial responsibility of biblical headship that is designed to lead a family in the paths of God. To the wife is committed the nurture and care to support him so that he can carry out these responsibilities. Each has responsibility for the other to the end that the family unit as a whole is whole and healthy before God. Note this goal is much clearer than a specific set of behaviors imposed on every couple despite differing personalities, gifts, and situations. We are not obligated by some simplistic imposition that determines who takes the garbage out, who washes dishes, or how many hours outside of the home a spouse may work or play without crossing some definite biblical threshold of marital correctness. The responsibilities of marriage are determined at the deepest levels of the Christian heart, and call for the most diligent, honest, conscientious questions of self-examination. The husband must not only ask, “Am I leading my family to a better knowledge of God?” but also, “Is my leadership self-serving or sacrificial?” Similarly, the wife must not only ask, “Do my actions, words, and attitudes enable my husband to lead my family to a better knowledge of God?” but also, “Have I truly in everything submitted my life to this highest priority?”

These are questions that cannot be answered by arbitrary, cultural, or merely traditional role assignments regarding such things as who gets to talk first, who writes the checks, or who gets to drive. The inappropriateness of culturally imposed rules is obvious when we understand that submission (in addition to requiring the pouring of oneself into the completion of another) involves the exercising of gifts for the glory of another. This becomes most apparent when you recognize the balanced construction of the instruction Paul gives wives and husbands in this passage. His instruction for husbands directs them to use their headship as Christ used his for the glory of his bride, the Church (vs. 25-27). The effect is to remind husbands that they must never abuse their authority so that they rob their wives of “radiance” (cf. vs. 27). At the same time wives are told not to so disregard submission that they rob their husbands of “respect” (vs. 33). Discerning how wives make sure they fulfill this obligation requires us to recognize the implications of Paul’s comparison of marriage to the relationship of Christ and the Church. The Church does not honor Christ by dispensing with the gifts and graces God provides. Rather she is called to arrange all her energies and abilities under the grand purpose of glorifying the Savior. To do less would not be submission; it would be disobedience. By this line of thought we grow to understand the wisdom of Paul’s terminology. Biblical submission truly is an “arranging under” of one’s own gifts for the glory of another. Such submission is never an abdication of responsibility for another’s welfare, nor is it an abandonment of one’s own gifts to fit a culturally determined role.

Let me indicate at least one reason why humanly prescribed behaviors are an insufficient measure of biblical submission. On a church council outside our locale there is a lay leader who asks every new pastoral candidate entering that denomination’s churches, “Does your wife submit to you?” This man’s agenda is to make each candidate prove to the council that he has control of his family the way this official thinks headship should be practiced–meaning the way he controls his own family. However, it would be tragic if candidates actually did satisfy this official.

Over the years this man’s friends have watched as his intelligent, once glowing and buoyant wife has become increasingly silent, sullen, and dowdy under his “headship.” Sadly, the more withdrawn she has become the more obnoxious, belligerent, and accusing he has become with everyone in his path. The more she retreats from her own gifts the more his faults assert themselves. You need to hear me clearly say that I am not blaming her for his faults. I am simply noting the marital results of a spouse’s suppressed gifts. Yet, despite the obvious deterioration of their Christian witness both parties in this marriage claim the wife is biblically submitting to her husband because she only talks when he allows, only leaves the home when he permits, only wears what he approves. How sad. By limiting headship and submission to a certain set of behaviors they have actually lost sight of their true biblical priorities of promoting God’s glory and, thus, they have diminished each other. I cannot prescribe the specific actions this wife should do each day, nor would I pretend to know when certain things should have been discussed between these two people in years gone by. I do know, however, (and their lives confirm this) that submitting one’s life to the good of another does not mean abandoning them to their faults, nor abandoning one’s own gifts. God does not expect anyone to minimize the gifts he grants for a worship response to his own creative character and through which he has designed the character and happiness of a marriage to mature. Submission ultimately is not the suppression of gifts but the full expression of them in behalf of another.

The Dignity of a Christian Wife
It is this expression of gifts in behalf of another that further defines submission not only in terms of duty, but also in terms of dignity. To see how biblical submission grants dignity you must examine the precise wording of this passage. Such an examination may initially yield a shock. Where our translations say, “Wives submit to your husbands” (vs. 22), the word “submit” does not appear in the original language of the text. The very word we are so ready to debate is not actually present in this verse. Interestingly its absence not only underscores the necessity of submission, it is also confirms the dignity of a Christian wife.

The Value of a Christian Wife
The place the word “submit” does appear is the preceding verse where the apostle concludes his instruction on being “filled with the Spirit,” by saying we should all “Submit to one another out of reverence to the Lord” (vs. 21). The instruction to wives then follows as only the first constituency among Christians to whom the submission mandate applies. Next will follow husbands, then fathers, then children, then slaves, then masters. The construction of the passage, thus, unfolds with the following impact:

Submit to one another…Wives, to your husbands as to the Lord (5:22-24, 33); Husbands, by giving yourselves for your wives, as the Lord gave Himself for the church (5:25-33); Children, by obeying you parents (6:1-3); Fathers, by not exasperating your children (6:4); Slaves, by obeying masters properly from your hearts (6:5-8); and, Masters, by treating slaves with respect and fairness since you are slaves of Christ (6:9).

Each person is to submit whatever gifts, rights, or authority he or she has to the good of another for the building up of Christ’s kingdom.

The reason this structure confirms the dignity of a Christian wife is that it proves that her submission does not lessen her value or diminish her place in the kingdom. All Christians are to submit themselves to the good of others whom God has placed in their lives. Although the apostle clearly assigns differing purposes to husbands and wives, he just as clearly exempts no one from the requirement of having the attitude that was also Christ’s who made himself nothing and became obedient to God’s call for selfless sacrifice (cf. Phil 2:5ff.). In Christ’s Kingdom submission does not lessen believers’ standing, it confirms their place. Christians’ responsibilities vary, their value does not. To conclude otherwise is to reason that Christ became an inferior in the Godhead when he submitted himself to the Father, or that the Spirit deserves less glory because he fulfills the purposes of the Son. By his Trinitarian nature our God has made it abundantly clear that an equality of value does not require an identity of roles.

To Respect Her Husband
Paul concludes this address to husbands and wives with the instruction for men to “love” their wives and for wives to “respect” their husbands (vs. 33). Here the apostle seems to be dealing with each gender at the weak points of our relational tendencies. Often a man’s great temptation is to use the power of his position and physique to enforce dictatorial rule or to indulge passive self-absorption. A woman’s comparable temptation is to use the power of words and emotions to diminish a husband’s influence so that she has control of the home. Paul allows neither “power play,” by commanding men to love their wives sacrificially and commending women who respect their husbands.

Something in us instinctively knows the power of the forces the apostle is seeking to curb. When Kathy and I were first married and living in an apartment in a low-income part of this city, the paper-like walls and floors of the complex gave us an ear-opening perspective on the way some people live. The vileness and violence so many of the families around us considered normal were shocking to us. Most curious was the minister’s family below us. Most of their fights were about who was the better witness. We usually tried to ignore the shouts and slaps until he started choking her so she could not respond, and then we would have to find some way to intervene. It was awful. But as Kathy and I would night after night try to close our ears to the conflict as it built, we would sometimes turn to one another and say, “Why does she taunt him so? She knows he is going to hit her.” We did not know then what we have now learned about abusive homes: that as often as a man will try to dominate a woman with his strength, a woman will try to control a man with shame.

Even if violence is not a part of your home you must learn by listening to the ways spouses try to get their way even in Christian marriages. With intimidation or intransigence that are both expressions of power, men often exert their control. Women by a look, a cutting remark, an accusation, or some embarrassing reminder, may seek to diminish a man so he becomes less sure of himself and, thus, more controllable. Sadly these factors often, then, turn cyclical as insecure men react to their sense of being diminished by becoming more dominating, which only gives a wife more opportunity to needle and shame, which subsequently triggers more abuse. When this cycle is in effect to any degree each party in the marriage is vying for power, but note Paul is crusading for love (cf. 5:1- 2). Love permits none of this grappling for spousal control. A Christian husband has no privilege to intimidate or ignore his wife; a Christian wife no right to diminish or shame her husband.

The Glory of a Christian Wife
The dignity of a Christian wife is not only spelled out in the comparison of her duty with others’ tasks, but also in the glory of the purpose God grants her. To understand the dignity of this purpose it may be helpful to compare it to the role current society sometimes advocates. Such a comparison is available in author Phoebe Hobby’s January 1994 review of current books addressed to women (as it appeared in Harper’s magazine). Hoban writes that in the past feminism has been about power and money. Now, however, she concludes-

Feminism is no longer a battle for equal opportunity in a male-dominated society, but a kind of 12-step recovery program for wounded women. There is an endless appetite for self-help books. They do not offer women still struggling in an unfair world any clarion call to arms. Instead they urge women to redefine their inner lives.

I remind you these words are not my assessment, but rather are the observations of a secular advocate of modern feminism. How sad (and revealing) that a movement with such altruistic rhetoric and so often correct pleas for justice, equality, and dignity now finds at its end that it was but another journey into me-ism. Whether this cause returns to the direction of getting more external affirmation of status or stays focused on inner healing, the result of the movement as it is currently framed is the same–a path for women that is but the pouring of one’s life and demands into the vain, cloying pursuit of “what’s-in-it-for-me.”

Whether it be a man or woman, we find nothing so detestable as a person driven by selfishness, and nothing so ennobling as a life given in service and sacrifice for others. If you can see this in the comic book life of a Donald Trump who gains power and wealth at the expense of our respect, and sense it in the life of a Mother Teresa who has the honor of the world and its rulers though she has nothing, then perhaps you can begin to gauge the dignity God grants to the wife who submits herself to the good of her husband and family. The Bible says that they will rise up and call her blessed (Prov 31:28).

Heaven’s Cheer
I sensed some of this divine pleasure at a social I attended a few days ago. There I took much delight in listening to an older couple sing their own version of “Do You Love Me” from the musical, Fiddler on the Roof. At the point of the song where the stage characters are supposed sing, “After twenty-five years it’s nice to know,” this couple substituted their own marriage’s stats and sang, “After 48 years it’s nice to know.” In a church dominated by young marriages that have not yet stood the test of years, and in which we had just that evening heard previous stories from some in troubled relationships battered by cultural influences, the enduring love of this couple was more than endearing. It was inspiring. When they hit the last notes the room exploded in a standing ovation as we cheered for a love that had so powerfully encouraged us and had so radiantly persevered in them.

We were about to discover there was more for them to endure. Just a few minutes later their 41-year-old son also went on the stage to tell us about his current battle with cancer and the hope he still claims as a result of his parents’ life of faith. After the social when I spoke to the parents privately in a remote hallway of the church, I told them I was surprised to hear the cancer report. They said the report was only days old to them as well. There had been no history or warning signs to prepare them-just an out-of-the-blue telephone call: “Mom and Dad, I have cancer.”

As they told me this account of their beloved son, the recentness of the news with its shock, grief, and fear welled in the couple. The man, usually so stoic, could not keep tears from his eyes. When his wife saw that pain and the embarrassment of his tears, she touched his arm. It was such a simple and subtle gesture, and yet you could almost see the strength flow from her as he, then, collected himself and spoke again of their faith in God’s care.

The wife, I am sure, wanted to cry as much (if not more) than her husband wanted not to cry. Knowing her as I do, tears would have been far more typical of her, and she had no less a need to be comforted by him. Yet, in that moment he needed her strength and in that reassuring touch she sacrificed the expression of her own grief to minister to his pain. In their oneness she knew just how to help him, and how to preserve his respect in the midst of her own hurting. The gesture was a duty of deep love, a dignifying of him that dignified her, and a desire to serve another nurtured through a lifetime of serving God. Who witnessed this wife’s giving of herself in that caring touch in the hall? I did, and maybe one or two others, but for her I again heard applause–another standing ovation exploding this time from the portals of heaven as its hosts rejoiced for a wife who in those moments submitted her right to grieve to her husband’s need for support. I hope with her spiritual ears she heard it, too. I pray that on that day she sensed heaven’s regard for the beauty of her service; and, I pray that on this day she, like you, will know and claim the eternal value and scriptural glory of every wife who submits to her husband out of reverence for the Lord.

Credinta in horoscop este demonica

Horoscopul săptămînii! În orice ziar cotidian, revistă sau prospect pe care măcelarul ţi le pune amabil în sacoşă împreună cu cîrnatul şi şunca, peste tot te loveşti de acelaşi lucru: de horoscop. De fapt ce este un „horoscop” şi de ce în zilele noastre se întrebuinţează atît de multă cerneală pentru aşa ceva?

Cuvîntul „horoscop” provine parţial din latină, parţial din greacă şi înseamnă „perspectiva orei” sau „vederea orei”. Se cerceta cum era poziţia stelelor, una faţă de cealaltă, în momentul naşterii unui om. De aici se credea că se pot primi lămuriri asupra destinului său. Grecii şi romanii au preluat aceste lucruri obscure de la babilonieni, ai căror preoţi păgîni se ocupau în mod deosebit cu prezicerea viitorului, pe baza studiului corpurilor cereşti -un neologism numit „astrologie”, în evul mediu această superstiţie era foarte larg răspîndită, însă, şi aceasta ar trebui să alarmeze cel mai mult, ea a fost în floare nu numai în întunecimea evului mediu, ci astăzi este cu mult mai mult răspîndită. Pare a fi doar o glumă, însă este cruda realitate, în epoca noastră luminată, progresistă, în care dezagregăm atomul şi trimitem în spaţiu nave cosmice, credinţa în horoscop este superstiţia cea mai larg răspîndită.

Cum este posibil acest lucru? Mulţi oameni nu mai cred în Dumnezeu; sau ceea ce este şi mai rău, ei trăiesc aşa ca şi cum n-ar exista Dumnezeu. Ei vor să fie independenţi, să facă sau să lase numai ce le convine lor. De aceea se îndreaptă spre o altă credinţă aproape obligatoriu, şi anume superstiţia. Aceasta este tot o credinţă, chiar dacă ea este îndreptată în sens opus, spre Satana. Cine este superstiţios, cade automat în vraja puterilor întunericului. Iar cine îi întinde Satanei degetul cel mic, aceluia el îi apucă toată mîna. Un astfel de deget mic este horoscopul.

În S.U.A. se cheltuiesc anual aproximativ 800 milioane de mărci pentru astrologie. Acolo există nu mai puţin de 30.000 de astrologi, care prin meseria aceasta îşi fac afacerile lor. În Anglia, potrivit statisticilor, două treimi din adulţi citesc sau răsfoiesc horoscoapele. Dar cum este situaţia în Germania Federală? Un institut de cercetări ale opiniilor a întrebat multe persoane asupra părerilor lor despre astrologie. Rezultatul obţinut: 28 % citesc zilnic horoscopul, 25 % citesc din cînd în cînd, 47 % nu-l citesc. Cu alte cuvinte, mai mult de jumătate din concetăţenii noştri citesc zilnic sau ocazional horoscopul.

Oare este adevărat ce stă scris în horoscop? Dacă horoscoapele din ziarele noastre ar spune adevărul, atunci n-ar exista, conform zodiacului, mai mult de 12 grupuri de oameni dintre care fiecare grupă ar trebui să experimenteze zi de zi aceleaşi lucruri. În afară de aceasta, horoscoapele din diferite ziare şi reviste se contrazic unul pe altul, sau sunt redactate într-un fel lipsit de precizie ca să poată fi interpretate în multe feluri cu multe înţelesuri, ca să se potrivească pentru oricine. De asemenea „regulile de joc” ale astrologiei sunt pe deplin arbitrare şi nu au de-a face cu ştiinţa cîtuşi de puţin. Aşa că nu trebuie să ne mirăm cînd adevăraţii oameni de ştiinţă ai astronomiei sunt adversari hotărîţi ai astrologiei cu totul neştiinţifice, într-o depoziţie a societăţii astronomice se spune: „Ceea ce astăzi se prezintă ca astrologie, cosmobiologie ş.a.m.d., nu este altceva decît un amestec de superstiţie, şarlatanie şi afacerism”.

Obiectiv deci, nu se poate da crezare horoscopului. Pentru aceasta însă să credem că poate fi doar o prostie, o glumă nevătămătoare? Nu, în nici un caz, nu. Cine îşi pune încrederea în horoscop se aşează cu aceasta în conflict direct cu Dumnezeu. El ajunge în sfera de extindere a puterii Satanei. După Biblie, superstiţia nu este numai un semn de prostie, credulitate şi lipsă de cunoştinţă, ci o punere la dispoziţia puterilor împotrivitoare lui Dumnezeu. „Să nu vă duceţi la cei ce cheamă duhurile morţilor, nici la vrăjitori; să nu-i întrebaţi, ca să nu vă spurcaţi cu ei. Eu sunt Domnul, Dumnezeul vostru” (Leviticul 19:31).

Credinţa în horoscop a fost, este şi va fi pînă la sfîrşit o credinţă demonică, drăcească. Urmările acestei credinţe ne înconjoară în tot locul: indiferenţă faţă de Cuvîntul lui Dumnezeu, deprimare, melancolie. Este un drum ce conduce la pierzare, într-o astfel de viaţă se poate zări adesea de aici înspăimîntatorul foc al gheenei. Nu în zadar spune Dumnezeu despre acela care face astfel de lucruri: „Îmi voi întoarce Faţa împotriva omului aceluia…” (Leviticul 20:6). De aceea nu trebuie să credem în horoscop. De aceea nu trebuie nici să-l citim. Ca şi toate lucrurile oculte, magia, ghicitul în cărţi, chiromanţia ş.a.m.d., horoscopul este viclenie perfidă ca o pînză de păianjen. Cine ajunge odată în ochiurile ei, fie chiar şi în glumă, se încurcă tot mai adînc în ele.

Cum poţi ieşi afară din această periculoasă pînză de păianjen? Unde se poate găsi eliberare? Mai întîi trebuie să-ţi dai seama că tu singur nu te poţi elibera. Nici un om nu este suficient de puternic ca să poată birui forţele întunericului din această lume. Singurul care este suficient de puternic, este biruitorul de la Golgota, Isus Cristos. El este Fiul lui Dumnezeu care l-a biruit pe cruce pe Satana. Această biruinţă trebuie s-o iei pentru tine în mod personal, ca un drept al tău. De aceea vino la El cu toate păcatele tale şi constrîngerile ce le ai! Mărturiseşte-I vina ta! El te iartă şi-ţi curăţeşte inima, după care Isus Cristos îţi dă şi putere să începi o viată nouă cu El, spunînd NU păcatului.

Atunci nu mai ai nevoie de horoscop. Talismanul poţi să-l arunci la coşul de gunoi. Coşarul privit în legătură cu norocul tău îţi va deveni indiferent. O pisică neagră ce-ţi va tăia drumul poate să-ţi pară frumoasă sau nu, dar norocul sau nenorocul nu depinde de ea. Vinerea în ziua de 13 a lunii îţi vei vedea de treburile tale tot aşa de voios ca şi în celelalte zile. Cuvintele precum „mult noroc” sau „a ţine pumnul strîns”, ce nu vin de la Dumnezeu, nu-ţi vor mai aluneca pe buze, iar tu nu vei mai trebui să baţi de trei ori în masă pentru a-ţi asigura viitorul. Cînd Isus Cristos este Domnul tău, atunci El îţi hotărăşte viitorul. Iar viitorul, orice om vrea să-l asigure. Noi nu lîncezim ca un mormoloc. Noi suntem înzestraţi cu daruri spirituale, putînd să cugetăm asupra noastră retrospectiv, în momentul de faţă şi să privim în viitor. Totuşi, despre viitor nu ştiu nimic; nici măcar ce-mi va aduce clipa următoare. Nimeni nu poate spune acest lucru, nici mie, nici ţie. Însă, dacă Isus Cristos este Domnul tău, atunci te ştii călăuzit de El în toate situaţiile din viaţă ajungînd în împrejurări gata pregătite. Atunci noi, tu şi eu, putem spune cu o încredere neclintită că nu ni se poate întîmpla nimica decît ceea ce El a ales pentru noi şi ceea ce nouă ne este de folos. Astfel, viitorul nostru nu se află în stele, ci în voia lui Dumnezeu plină de har şi de îndurare.

Friedhelm König

„…cel care râde şi plânge cu tine”

În toate epocile istoriei, pe om l-a preocupat natura prieteniei. Ea este lăudată în poeme, înălţată în cântece iar distrugerea ei este deplânsă în drame. Un vechi şlagăr spune: „…un prieten bun şi mereu sincer, este acela care râde şi plânge cu tine.” Şi astăzi oamenii au diferite legături, stabilesc diverse contacte, îşi doresc o comuniune în scopul aflării adevăratei prietenii. Părerea cvasi-unanimă este: Şi în cazul unei căsnicii este important întâi să fii prieten – lucru care desigur e foarte adevărat. Însă ce înţelegem de fapt prin prietenie?

Se ştie de fapt ce se aşteaptă de la o prietenie, cum ar trebui ea să se manifeste: „Dacă-ţi merge bine”, sună mai departe vechiul şlagăr, „ai mereu mulţi prieteni pe lume; când îţi merge rău, ai nevoie de cineva care să ţină la tine în ciuda tuturor lucrurilor…”

Chiar şi Aristotel era de părere că: „Prietenia îi ajută tânărului să nu facă greşeli, moşneagului să se îngrijească acolo unde, din slăbiciune, nu poate să acţioneze, iar pe cel adult îl sprijină în zilele generoase; căci ‘doi Împreună’ sunt mai capabili să gândească şi să acţioneze decât unul singur.”

Însă şi acest vechi filozof grec nu ne explică natura reală, baza, nucleul prieteniei.

Umăr la umăr…

Profesorul creştin de literatură engleză C.S.Lewis a dat o definiţie a dragostei, care ne ajută în mod real în problema noastră:

„Îndrăgostiţii stau faţă în faţă şi se privesc adânc în ochi; prietenii stau umăr lângă umăr şi privesc către un ţel comun.”

Aceasta reprezintă natura prieteniei: a fi împreună pe un drum către un ţel comun.

Adevărata prietenie nu se bazează aşadar pe o consonanţă a celor două suflete, nu rezultă nici dintr-o buimăceală a simţurilor sau prin încercări bine intenţionate de satisfacere a unor necesităţi prieteneşti, ci ea trăieşte dintr-o conştiinţă comună a scopului.

Către un scop comun

Poate eşti şi tu un astfel de tânăr, care tocmai îşi pune problema prietenilor. Şi iată că ţi se spune că lucrul cel mai important în cadrul unei prietenii îl reprezintă o cunoaştere clară a scopului, ceea ce ţi se pare ciudat.

Să luăm un exemplu: doi alpinişti au ales împreună un anumit vârf de munte ca ţel al căţărărilor lor. Acest scop va decide asupra pregătirilor lor, ei vor stabili ruta, vor discuta asupra ordinii la frânghie. Fiecare va avea grijă să-şi pună propriile înzestrări şi forţe în slujba binelui comun – acelaşi ţel.

Deci, dacă duci lipsa unei prietenii, să nu-ţi pui întâi întrebarea: „Cum voi face rost de un prieten?”, ci să te întrebi dacă tu însuţi poţi deveni un prieten şi dacă doreşti acest lucru. Atunci îţi vei da seama dacă ai înaintea ochilor un sens al vieţii, o temelie care să te susţină.

David şi Ionatan

Oprindu-ne la cea mai importantă relatare a unei prietenii din Biblie, cea dintre David şi Ionatan, vom rămâne uimiţi de baza pe care ne-o prezintă Biblia pentru această prietenie.

În 1 Samuel 14 ni se vorbeşte despre Ionatan şi felul în care el, singur cu cel ce-i ducea armele, porneşte împotriva filistenilor pentru a-i izgoni, în el era o mare dorinţă: de a restabili slava Dumnezeului celui viu, al cărui popor fusese batjocorit de către filisteni. El a urmărit acest scop riscându-şi viaţa şi încrezându-se deplin în puterea lui Dumnezeu.

Apoi în 1 Samuel 17 aflăm acelaşi lucru despre David: el porneşte absolut singur împotriva uriaşului Goliat şi-l biruieşte. Marea dorinţă a lui David era: restabilirea slavei Dumnezeului celui viu – al cărui popor tocmai fusese batjocorit de către

Goliat. El urmăreşte atingerea acestui ţel în acelaşi mod: punându-şi viaţa în joc şi încrezându-se deplin în puterea lui Dumnezeu.

Recunoşti tu temelia prieteniei dintre David şi Ionatan, ţelul lor comun? Amândoi doreau slava lui Dumnezeu, amândoi îşi riscau în acest scop vieţile, amândoi se în-credeau numai în puterea lui Dumnezeu, Creatorul lor. Lucrul acesta i-a făcut prieteni. Ei s-au pus fără menajamente în slujba ţelului vieţii lor.

Un ţel comun aduce armonie

Adevărata prietenie este determinată de ţel. Cine trăieşte fără nici un ţel, va considera simpatia şi concordanţele sentimentale, stările lăuntrice comune, ca fiind prietenii şi va fi astfel mereu dezamăgit. Numai un ţel comun poate motiva cu adevărat în depăşirea – în „căţărarea” comună (în viaţă) – a multor obstacole şi muchii, a stâncilor periculoase şi a cărărilor înguste, pietroase. Senzaţiile de îndrăgostire şi ochii frumoşi în care te poţi cufunda îşi au şi ei locul lor, totuşi nu pot sluji ca temelie pentru o prietenie adevărată şi durabilă.

Ţelul comun decide cu privire la armonia spirituală dintre doi oameni. Ar trebui să fie de la sine înţeles că acest lucru este fundamental şi pentru o căsnicie. Pot fi prezente în cadrul ei anumite aspecte armonioase atât în domeniu] fizic cât şi sufletesc – însă fără o armonie de natură spirituală nu se va putea ajunge la o comuniune desăvârşită în cadrul căsniciei.

Tocmai cei care se află în situaţia alegerii unui partener ar trebui să se întrebe cu toată seriozitatea şi să se lămurească ce presupune adevărata prietenie şi care „prietenii” nu reprezintă de fapt nimic.

Ţelurile diferite produc dizarmonie

Să ne închipuim acum că cei doi alpinişti au ţeluri diferite: unul doreşte să ajungă la gheţarul din vârf, celălalt doar la o cabană însorită de pe o culme fermecătoare.

Ambii căţărători au pornit de fapt împreună, dar în curând au ajuns în faţa unor probleme de netrecut, căci fiecare îşi dă seama deodată că împreună cu celălalt nu va putea atinge niciodată propriul său ţel.

Practic cei doi se vor despărţi (caz în care probabil nici unul nu-şi va atinge ţelul), sau unul din ei va ceda în faţa ţelului celuilalt şi se va căţăra mai departe împreună cu el, mai mult sau mai puţin descurajat. Ne putem închipui atmosfera dintre cei doi: proastă şi apăsătoare.

Multe cupluri suferă tocmai de această boală. Motivul: ţelurile total diferite. Urmarea (inevitabilă): o tot mai mare îndepărtare reciprocă.

Ce fel de ţeluri?

Între ţelurile comune nu trebuie înţelese în nici un caz teme secundare sau păreri superficiale, cum ar fi de exemplu convingerea că în viaţă trebuie să faci să-ţi meargă mereu bine sau să se practice împreună un anumit sport. Primul ţel ar fi mult prea vag, superficial şi lipsit de conţinut; cea de-a doua intenţie n-ar fi de fapt rea, numai că ocoleşte temelia existenţei, sensul vieţii. O relaţie profundă, durabilă între doi parteneri nu se poate baza pe nişte activităţi sportive comune.

Ţelurile comune trebuie să privească problemele de bază ale vieţii: sensul vieţii mele, rostul, sarcinile mele, relaţia mea cu Dumnezeu, priorităţile după care mă ghidez. Dacă omul găseşte răspuns la aceste probleme esenţiale ale vieţii, lucrul respectiv se va răsfrânge în modul cel mai practic asupra vieţii sale. Gândirea şi acţiunea sa vor fi determinate de aceste lucruri.

Tocmai în acest context este limpede că porunca biblică din 2 Corinteni 6 cu privire la orice creştin nu reprezintă o povară pe care Dumnezeu vrea să ne-o pună în spinare, ci un ajutor, fiindcă El nu are decât intenţii bune cu noi: „Nu vă înjugaţi la un jug nepotrivit cu cei necredincioşi. Căci ce legătură este între neprihănire şi fărădelege? Sau cum poate sta împreună lumina cu întunericul? Ce înţelegere poate fi între Cristos şi Belial? Sau ce legătură are cel credincios cu cel necredincios?” (vers. 14,15)

Faptul că cineva se subordonează cu totul autorităţii lui Dumnezeu, dorind să ia Biblia ca măsură obligatorie pentru toate domeniile vieţii sale, reprezintă cu totul altceva decât intenţia de a fi pur şi simplu religios – un om care merge cuminte la biserică şi care vrea să trăiască potrivit lozincii: „Fă dreptate şi nu te teme de nimeni.”

Un om care şi-a pus viaţa plin de încredere în mâna lui Dumnezeu, dorind să-L urmeze pe Domnul Isus şi să fie ucenic al Lui, acela are cu totul alte ţeluri decât un om al cărui nume împodobeşte fişierele unei organizaţii creştine sau ale unei biserici, care-şi achită conştiincios taxele către biserică, sau decât unul care-L respinge pe Dumnezeu, nu-L crede sau nu are nici o relaţie vie cu Creatorul său.

Aşadar, adevărata prietenie şi armonie nu pot lua fiinţă decât acolo unde problemele de bază ale vieţii sunt clarificate de ambele părţi şi unde există dorinţa de a parcurge împreună drumul către acelaşi ţel.

de Walter Nitsche

De ce ne bate Dumnezeu?

Articolul de mai jos este scris de Aaron S. Glick, un autor Amish. El descrie diferitele motive pentru care Dumnezeu ne trece prin suferinta. Ne-am obisnuit sa privim la suferinta altora ca o pedeapsa, pina ne vine rindul si atunci vedem cu ce lipsa de dragoste am judecat. Cititi motivele de mai jos atenti, si sa ne abtinem sa judecam noi motivele lui Dumnezeu, ci mai degraba sa sprijinim pe fratii si surorile care au de trecut prin ele. Din experientele noastre stim clar ca ori mai devreme ori mai tirziu, toti vom trece prin suferinte. Domnul sa ne dea frati si prieteni care sa ne incurajeze atunci si sa sa ne tina privirea atintita pe tinta credintei noastre.

Viaţa este un mozaic de experienţe şi transformări lăuntrice. Unele se întâmplă fără durere, dar altele au nevoie de „trecerea prin cuptorul suferinţei”. În astfel de situaţii, credinciosul neînţelept strigă: „De ce tocmai eu, Doamne?”

Când ne eşuează planurile şi când ajungem pe pat de spital, mintea şi inima noastră sunt puse la grea încercare. Sunt clipe de cercetare şi de pocăinţă. Uneori, ne copleşeşte convingerea că am ajuns să plătim pentru greşeli săvârşite mai înainte.

Sigur că şi aceasta este o parte de adevăr. Există şi suferinţe ispăşitoare în care plătim preţul vinovăţiei. Nimeni nu poate semăna buruieni şi să se aştepte să culeagă grâu. Cel ce şi-a chinuit trupul cu tot felul de abuzuri, va secera preţul suferinţei. (Ca în cazul fumătorului, pocăit şi iertat astăzi, dar bolnav de cancer.) N-avem de ce să-L învinuim pe Dumnezeu pentru astfel de suferinţe.

Alteori însă, suferinţa nu este o retribuţie pentru vinovăţii trecute, ci o unealtă în mâna măiastră a Creatorului nostru. Asemenea unei dalte, ea contribuie la modelarea caracterului nostru. Din punctul acesta de vedere, suferinţa nu este un scop în sine, ci doar o cale spre o stare mai desăvârşită:

„Nu v-a ajuns nici o ispită, care să nu fi fost potrivită cu puterea omenească. Şi Dumnezeu, care este credincios, nu va îngădui să fiţi ispitiţi peste puterile voastre; ci, împreună cu ispita, a pregătit şi mijlocul să ieşiţi din ea , ca s-o puteţi răbda” (l Cor. 10:13).

Auzim adesea pe cel proaspăt convertit spunând: „De când am devenit creştin, am mai multe ispite şi necazuri ca înainte.” Despre cei cărora totul le merge bine se spune că: „Probabil sunt binecuvântaţi pentru că stau bine cu Domnul”. Dar există şi o altă faţă a monedei. Cel ce priveşte în jur, vede că nu de puţine ori o duc bine şi cei păcătoşi. Unii dintre ei au foarte puţine necazuri; bolile se pare că-i ocolesc şi totul pare că le merge bine. Această constatare i-a dat mult de furcă psalmistului. Aduceţi-vă aminte ce scrie el în Psalmul 73:

„Era să mi se îndoaie piciorul şi erau să-mi alunece paşii. Căci mă uitam cu jind la cei nesocotiţi, când vedeam fericirea celor răi. Într-adevăr, nimic nu-i turbură până la moarte, şi trupul le este încărcat de grăsime. N-au parte de suferinţele omeneşti şi nu sunt loviţi ca ceilalţi oameni …” (Psalm 73:1-5)

Psalmistul nu şi-a revenit din această tulburare, decât atunci când s-a gândit mai bine la soarta de la urmă a celor ce-L nesocotesc pe Dumnezeu.

Patriarhul Iov a fost un om după inima lui Dumnezeu, dar aceasta nu l-a scutit să treacă prin cuptorul curăţitor al suferinţelor:

„El ştie ce cale am urmat; şi, dacă m-ar încerca, as ieşi curat ca aurul.” (Iov 23:10)

Suferinţele sunt o metodă de purificare a sufletului. Dumnezeu o foloseşte adesea cu copiii Lui. Adeseori, ea are aspectul unor suferinţe fizice, dar ea poate lua şi forma unor chinuri şi agonii ale sufletului.

Ţineţi minte că Pavel a avut parte şi de una şi de cealaltă. În 2 Corinteni 12:7-10 găsim mărturia lui despre „ţepuşul” pe care-l purta în trupul său şi despre dorinţa lui de a scăpa de el. În alte părţi, el ne vorbeşte despre agoniile sufletului său şi despre suferinţele provocate de atacurile învăţătorilor mincinoşi sau de alunecările fraţilor nestatornici.

Există însă un text care ne poate da un răspuns complet la întrebarea din titlul articolului nostru. El se găseşte în epistola către Evrei 12:5-11. Dacă-l vom citi cu atenţie, vom descoperi cinci idei principale care se aplică subiectului nostru:

1) Versetul 5 ne spune că pedeapsa nu trebuie „dispreţuită”, iar importanţa ei nu trebuie minimalizată. Noi facem tocmai aceasta ori de câte ori ne plângem şi devenim morocănoşi, uitând că ni se dă o lecţie şi că avem ceva de învăţat din fiecare împrejurare a vieţii.

„Nu-ţi pierde inima când eşti mustrat de El”. A-ţi pierde inima înseamnă a ajunge să te îndoieşti, a pune la îndoială calitatea ta de copil al lui Dumnezeu din cauza unei situaţii nedorite pe care o întâmpini. A nu-ţi pierde inima înseamnă pe de altă parte să rămâi statornic în încredinţarea că Dumnezeu este la cârma tuturor lucrurilor şi că El face ca toate să lucreze împreună spre bine.

2) Versetul 6 ne spune că pedeapsa este un semn al iubirii divine.

Pretenţiile lui Dumnezeu sunt semne că El ne este Tată şi că ne vrea să-I fim asemenea. Iată ce găsim scris în cartea lui Iov: „Ferice de omul pe care-l ceartă Dumnezeu ! Nu nesocoti mustrarea Celui Atotputernic” (Iov 5:17).

3) Versetul 6 ne spune că pedeapsa este o dovadă a faptului că Dumnezeu ne acceptă în familia Sa: „(El) bate cu nuiaua pe orice fiu pe care-l primeşte.”

Prin procesul disciplinării, Dumnezeu urmăreşte să ne facă asemenea Fiului Său preaiubit (Rom. 8:29). Dacă un lată îşi pedepseşte copiii, şi Tatăl nostru cel ceresc trebuie să facă acelaşi lucru. În cuvintele unui cunoscut poet:

„ Când trebuie să-l pedepsesc,
simt chiar în trupul meu cum doare.
Şi, când îl fac să lăcrimeze,
îmi plânge inima cu lacrimile lui.

Doar eu am dreptul să-i aduc vină
şi cu blândeţe să-i dau pedeapsă,
pentru că numai cel ce iubeşte
poate să-ndrepte pedepsind …”

4) Versetele 9 şi 10 ne spun că scopul final al pedepsei este profitul nostru etern: „Dumnezeu ne pedepseşte pentru binele nostru, ca să ne facă părtaşi sfinţeniei Lui.” Noi nu putem preţui pedeapsa decât în măsura în care ne supunem „Tatălui duhurilor” şi înţelegem că disciplinarea urmăreşte desăvârşirea noastră.

5) Versetul 11 ne spune că este normal să ne întristăm sub pedeapsă. „Şcoala suferinţei nu este un timp de fericire, ci de educare”. Dumnezeu nu ne cere să afişăm o bucurie forţată şi artificială atunci când trecem prin pedeapsă. Creştinii nu se bucură din pricina necazurilor, ci în ciuda lor!

6) Tot versetul 11 ne spune care este urmarea procesului de educare prin suferinţă: „mai pe urmă aduce celor ce au trecut prin şcoala ei, roada dătătoare de pace a neprihănirii”, adică o poziţie şi o atitudine corectă în faţa lui Dumnezeu.

7) Din versetul 10 aflăm că există un îndoit scop al pedepsei: mai întâi, să ne facă să trăim cum se cuvine: „Până ce m-ai smerit, rătăceam, dar acum păzesc poruncile Tale” (Psalm 119:67). În al doilea rând, ca să ne facă părtaşi naturii lui Dumnezeu: „Apropiaţi-vă de Dumnezeu şi El se va apropia de voi” (Iacov 4:8).

Suferinţa celui credincios poate fi încadrată în trei categorii distincte: restauratoare, mărturisitoare şi mijlocitoare.

1. Suferinţa pentru propria corectare poate fi exercitată prin durere fizică sau prin cercetarea Duhului Sfânt. Când cel credincios se îndepărtează de Domnul şi cade într-o stare de apatie şi formalism, Dumnezeu îl pedepseşte pentru a-i atrage atenţia asupra stării periculoase în care se află (l Ioan 1:6,7). Ciobanul care aruncă cu băţul şi rupe piciorul oii care a luat-o razna spre prăpastie îşi manifestă astfel grija şi dorinţa de a o ţine împreună cu turma.

Pasajul din l Corinteni 11:29-32 ne spune că Dumnezeu trimite boala şi chiar moartea peste cei credincioşi pentru a-i disciplina acum şi pentru a-i feri să ajungă la judecată împreună cu lumea osândită. Scopul lui Dumnezeu nu este chinuirea noastră, ci recuperarea noastră prin pocăinţă: „Dacă ne mărturisim păcatele, El este credincios şi drept, ca să ne ierte păcatele şi să ne curăţească de orice nelegiuire” (l Ioan 1:9).’

Biserica din Laodicea, amintită în cartea Apocalipsei (Apoc. 3:14-20), este un astfel de exemplu de credincioşi ajunşi căldicei, lumeşti şi în situaţia de a trebui să fie disciplinaţi: „Eu mustru şi pedepsesc pe toţi aceia pe care-i iubesc. Fii plin de râvnă dar, şi pocăieşte-te!” (Apoc. 3:19)

Un alt exemplu de pedeapsă pentru aducerea la pocăinţă este cazul împăratului David. În Psalmul 32 el ne povesteşte chinurile cumplite prin care a trecut din cauza păcatului săvârşit şi din cauza refuzului pocăinţei. Izbăvirea şi bucuria iertării lui o găsim exprimată apoi în Psalmul 51.

Ceva asemănător s-a întâmplat şi cu apostolul Petru. Păcatul, pedeapsa şi pocăinţa lui au urmat aceiaşi traiectorie ca şi în cazul lui David.

Pentru a ajunge la restaurare şi reaşezare în privilegiile părtăşiei, credinciosul aflat sub pedeapsă trebuie să se plece înaintea lui Dumnezeu cu smerenie. Cel mai mare pericol care-l paşte pe cel mustrat de Domnul este să cadă într-o stare de răzvrătire încăpăţânată care duce la împietrire. Deşi Dumnezeu nu doreşte moartea păcătosului, s-ar putea foarte bine ca un astfel de om să-şi refuze singur scăparea: „Un om care se împotriveşte tuturor mustrărilor, va fi zdrobit deodată şi fără leac” (Prov. 29:1).

2. Suferinţa pentru lucrarea Domnului este gustată de toţi aceia care calcă pe urmele lui Isus Christos şi lucrează pentru avansarea Evangheliei în lume. Iată motivul pentru care sufăr aşa de mulţi credincioşi care încearcă să meargă pe calea îngustă şi să se ţină foarte aproape de Domnul. De fapt, Domnul Isus ne-a spus de mult despre aceasta: „În lume veţi avea necazuri; dar îndrăzniţi, Eu am biruit lumea” (Ioan 16:33).

În ilustraţia cu viţa şi mlădiţă (Ioan 15) ni se spune că Dumnezeu trebuie să taie din când în când viţa pentru ca să o facă să aducă şi mai multă roadă. Sigur că accentul ilustraţiei este pus pe rămânerea sau nerămanerea în Christos ca şi condiţie a rodirii. Totuşi, chiar şi mlădiţele roditoare au nevoie de o anumită „curăţire prin durere” pentru a fi în stare să aducă „şi mai multă roadă” (Ioan 15:6).

Această tăierea a viţei despre care vorbeşte Domnul Isus era şi este cea mai obişnuită metodă de întărire a viţei. Fără ea, viţa ar fi lemnoasă, dar fără struguri. Acesta este un alt fel de a spune că Dumnezeu nu vrea credincioşi care să se dezvolte în firea pământească, ci preferă să ne lovească în fire, ca să ne înlesnească o rodire mai bogată în duhul. „Tăierea” firii poate fi produsă prin înfrângeri, prin dezamăgiri, prin îmbolnăviri şi prin tot felul de alte lucruri care ne fac să ne concentrăm mai mult la lucrurile duhovniceşti. Ţineţi minte că intenţia lui Dumnezeu nu este să ne facă să suferim, ci să ne facă mai buni şi mai rodnici (Efes. 5:9; Gal. 5:22,23). Pavel vorbeşte despre propriile lui experienţe şi despre beneficiul pe care l-a tras din ele: „Căci întristările noastre uşoare de o clipă lucrează pentru noi tot mai mult o greutate veşnică de slavă” (2 Cor. 4:8-17). Ca şi celălalt text din l Petru 4:12-16. Numai suferinţa în răbdare poate converti adversitatea în avantaj.

3. Suferinţa pentru alţii este experimentată doar de o clasă de suflete alese, puse deoparte de Dumnezeu pentru o lucrare specială. Acest gen de suferinţă nu este pentru desăvârşirea proprie sau pentru corectarea caracterului, ci pentru a da ocazie celor din jur să vadă strălucind slava lui Dumnezeu pe faţa celor ce I se predau cu toată inima. Uneori, credincioşi buni se îmbolnăvesc de cancer şi ajung pe paturile spitalelor, alteori, alţi credincioşi sunt prinşi şi bătuţi pentru mărturisirea lor. Despre astfel de oameni aleşi pentru lucrări deosebite ni se spune că ei „nu şi-au iubit viaţa chiar până la moarte” (Apoc. 2:10). Situaţiile acestor oameni nu se pot explica pe pământ. Doar veşnicia va ridica cortina şi ne va ajuta să vedem care a fost adevărata explicaţie şi care va fi extraordinara răsplată care-i va aştepta pe astfel de oameni.

Probabil că una din cele mai bune ilustraţii din Biblie este viaţa lui Iosif, copilul patriarhului Iacov. El a fost ascultător şi iubitor, dar toate lucrurile i s-au întors împotrivă şi a ajuns sclav aruncat în închisoare într-o ţară îndepărtată. Numai dincolo de perspectiva anilor a venit adevărata explicaţie: „Acum, nu vă întristaţi şi nu fiţi mâhniţi că m-aţi vândut ca să fiu adus aici, căci ca să vă scap viaţa m-a trimis Dumnezeu înaintea voastră” (Gen. 45:5). „Voi, negreşit, v-aţi gândit să-mi faceţi rău; dar Dumnezeu a schimbat răul în bine, ca să împlinească ce se vede azi, şi anume, să scape viaţa unui popor în mare număr” (Gen. 50:20).

Toate sacrificiile martirilor de-a lungul secolelor de istorie au perpetuat acest gen de suferinţă. După cum au observat comentatorii: „Sângele martirilor a fost sămânţa creştinilor”. Există o suferinţă necesară pentru atragerea altora la Christos şi pentru dovedirea vinovăţiei lumii înaintea lui Dumnezeu. Unii dintre fraţii noştri sunt chemaţi să o poarte.

Este greşit să vorbeşti despre suferinţă fără să închei cu câteva cuvinte despre suport şi despre speranţă. În toate durerile noastre, Dumnezeu este acela care ne dă suportul să rezistăm şi să mergem mai departe. Fără mângâierile Lui, ne-am usca sub vântul deznădejdii. Prezenţa lui Dumnezeu prin Duhul Sfânt în inimile noastre ne aduce speranţa izbăvirii şi a răsplăţii. Dumnezeul nostru este bun. Ştim aceasta din părtăşia pe care o avem cu El în fiecare clipă şi, chiar dacă paharul vieţii este amar, îl bem până la fund, căci acolo dăm întotdeauna de adevărata … miere.

Traducatorul (anonim) din publicatia Calvary Messenger 1995


Cum si de ce m am pocăit !!! Fostul Preot Nicolai si Cristian, România

Cum si de ce m am pocăit !!! fostul preot Nicolai, România

Cum si de ce m am pocăit !!! fostul preot Cristian, România

Cintarea lui Joni Eareckson Tada -English with Romanian Subtitles

As a teenager, Joni loved life. She enjoyed riding horses, hiking, tennis, and loved to swim. But on a hot summer day in July 1967 (Sunday July 30) that all changed. While on a beach with some friends, Joni dove into Chesapeake Bay not knowing how shallow the water was. She broke her neck—a fracture between the fourth and fifth cervical levels—and became a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the shoulders down. While her friends were preparing to go to college in the fall, Joni was fighting for her life and facing the fact that she would have to live the rest of her life in a wheelchair. Joni’s rehabilitation was not easy, and she struggled through it for the next two years. She was angry, struggled with depression, and had frequent thoughts of suicide. Her book relates her questions of how God let this happen to her. She participated in various rehabilitation programs that taught her how to live with her disabilities, and says she immersed herself in the Bible to become spiritually strong.

Despite her severe disability, she has led an adventurous life. She has written over forty books, recorded several musical albums, starred in a major autobiographical movie of her life and is actively involved as an advocate for disabled people.[1] During her two years of rehabilitation, Tada learned how to paint with a brush between her teeth, and later began selling her artwork.

Tada wrote of her experiences in her 1976 international best-selling autobiography, Joni , The unforgettable story of a young woman’s struggle against quadriplegia & depression, which has been distributed in many languages, and which was made into a 1979 feature film of the same name, starring herself, which told of her accident, struggles and subsequent life. Her second book, A Step Further, was released in 1978.

Tada founded Joni and Friends (JAF) in 1979, an organization for Christian ministry in the disabled community throughout the world. The organization grew into the establishment in 2006 of the Joni and Friends International Disability Center (IDC). The building was designed by Vincent Dyer AIA and the interiors were designed by Gensler and Associates.[citation needed]

Joni and her husband Ken Tada have been married since 1982. In 2001, Mr. Tada received Family Life Ministries’ Robertson McQuilken Award honoring “The Courageous Love of a Marriage Covenant Keeper.” Mr. Tada retired from 32 years of teaching in 2004 to work with his wife. Ken Tada, along with Joni, are permanent members of the International Board of Directors of Joni and Friends.

Led by Tada and President and COO Doug Mazza, the Joni and Friends International Disability Center has four flagship programs. Joni and Friends, a daily five minute radio program, is heard over 1,000 broadcast outlets. In 2002 it received the “Radio Program of the Year” award from National Religious Broadcasters. The organization offers family retreats. Wheels for the World collects wheelchairs, which are refurbished by prison inmates and donated to developing nations where, whenever possible, physical therapists fit each chair to a needy disabled child or adult.

In 2005, Tada was appointed to the Disability Advisory Committee of the U.S. State Department.

Tada is a conference speaker. Her articles have been published in Christianity Today, Today’s Christian Woman, The War Cry (Salvation Army), and newspapers around the world. Tada has appeared four times on Larry King Live.

In November 2009, Tada signed an ecumenical statement known as the Manhattan Declaration calling on evangelicals, Catholics and Orthodox Christians not to comply with rules and laws permitting abortion, same-sex marriage, and other matters that go against their religious consciences.[2]

On June 23, 2010 Tada announced that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She also announced she was scheduled to have a major surgery on Monday, June 28, 2010. Tada emerged successfully from breast cancer surgery and is hopeful of a positive prognosis. (biography via Wikipedia)
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