Craig Evans Discusses Bart Ehrman’s Book „How Jesus Became God”

photo patheos.com

Craig Evans discusses Bart Ehrman’s assertions against the divinity of Christ in Ehrman’s book ‘How Jesus became God’, as he published in his own book ‘How God became Jesus’.

~~ Bird et al, How God Became Jesus. http://amzn.to/1gJHalo (Canada: http://amzn.to/1jmdez6 )
~~ Ehrman, How Jesus Became God. http://amzn.to/OKT20e (Canada: http://amzn.to/1plFQKP )

VIDEO by AcadiaDivCollege

How God Became Jesus:
The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus’ Divine Nature
–A Response to Bart Ehrman

Book Description via Amazon – In his recent book How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher From Galilee historian Bart Ehrman explores a claim that resides at the heart of the Christian faith– that Jesus of Nazareth was, and is, God. According to Ehrman, though, this is not what the earliest disciples believed, nor what Jesus claimed about himself.
The first response book to this latest challenge to Christianity from Ehrman, How God Became Jesus features the work of five internationally recognized biblical scholars. While subjecting his claims to critical scrutiny, they offer a better, historically informed account of why the Galilean preacher from Nazareth came to be hailed as ‘the Lord Jesus Christ.’ Namely, they contend, the exalted place of Jesus in belief and worship is clearly evident in the earliest Christian sources, shortly following his death, and was not simply the invention of the church centuries later. (Book – 233 pages) Publisher: Zondervan (March 25, 2014)

Bart Ehrman vs Craig Evans Whole Debate on „Does the New Testament misquote Jesus?”

Watch Craig Evans new interview about his latest response to Bart Ehrman’s book ‘How Jesus became God’, here- Craig Evans Discusses Bart Ehrman’s Book „How Jesus Became God”

„Does the New Testament misquote Jesus?”

THE QUESTION:  Does the New Testament present a reliable portrait of the Historical Jesus?

DEBATERS:

  1. Dr. Bart D. Ehrman, Professor of Religious Studies at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  2. Dr. Craig A Evans, Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College of Acadia University

Here’s a summary of the opening statements from The Chronicle Herald:

A debate on whether or not the New Testament Gospels give a historically accurate account of the life and death of Jesus Christ is not exactly Hockey Night in Canada.

Yet, increasingly, biblical scholars, like Acadia’s Craig Evans and University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s Bart Ehrman, have been showing up on YouTube, CNN, CBC, CTV, the History Channel and the Discovery Channel, and even, in the case of Bart Ehrman, on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, not to mention the bestseller list of the New York Times.

All of Ehrman’s 25 books are based on sound scholarship, and most of them are intended for and read mostly by scholars, „an audience of dozens” as he once put it. But his last few books, written in a more user-friendly literary style, have made the New York Times bestseller list. They include: God’s Problem, Jesus Interrupted, Forged and Misquoting Jesus.

Of Evans’s 50 books, including ones he has edited, he has written one popular book, Fabricating Jesus — How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels, in which he takes on Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus as well as three books by other writers, all of which he describes as „popular books” as opposed to „scholarly books.”

Thursday night in Halifax more than 600 people packed the McNally Theatre Auditorium on the SMU campus to hear these two New Testament champions spar over the issue of whether the accounts of Christ’s life, as described by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Gospels, which were written as many as 80 years after His birth, present a reliably accurate historical portrait of the man whose life and death is at the heart of a 2,000-year-old religion with two billion adherents.

At the beginning of the debate the steel flashed and the lines were sharply drawn. Evans, the first to take the lectern, emphatically declared his answer: „Yes it does.”

He had 25 minutes to make his point, citing the preponderant agreement of a long list of biblical scholars that the four Gospels are the primary source for the historical narrative of the birth, life and death of Christ.

„I disagreed with the whole thing!” said Ehrman heatedly after striding to the lectern. He said if you read the Gospel accounts „horizontally,” that is, start reading Matthew’s account of Jesus’ lineage, then skip over to Mark’s account of it, then to Luke’s and finally to John’s, you will discover irreconcilable discrepancies. „They can’t all be right,” he said. And the same holds true for accounts of the birth, life, crucifixion, and resurrection. So who do you trust?

At the end of the lectern challenges, assertions and rebuttals, the two professors moved over to two comfortable chairs centre stage for the „conversation” part of the debate in which they asked each other questions and discussed the issue. By now the spears had mostly been transformed into ploughshares. It had been entirely cordial.”We’re really agreed that there are discrepancies in the Gospel accounts,” Ehrman concluded. „And all New Testament scholars say the same.”

But he conceded that a life of Christ could be arrived at through them and that their inaccuracies didn’t affect the theological significance of Christ’s life.

VIDEO by TalalRafiChannel The full debate between Bart Ehrman and Craig Evans about whether the Bible is reliable as a source. Bart Ehrman is a bible scholar who became an atheist after studying it. He believes that there are too many contradictions and errors in the bible for it to be called the word of God. He is famous for his book Misquoting Jesus.

He also talks about how the bible was changed and about its history and who the authors of the gospels were.

Literatura: Aventurile lui Tom Sawyer si Huckleberry Finn de Mark Twain (film si desene animate)

VEZI alte filme aici

Sambata, in timpul iernii obisnuim sa mai postam cateodata documentare educationale si literatura clasica, ceea ce ajuta elevii scolari in studiile care le vor face la scoala. Astazi am ales sa prezentam Aventurile lui Huckleberry Finn, film si carte audio,  autor Mark Twain.

Aventurile lui Tom Sawyer (1968)
Film romanesc intreg

Aventurile lui Tom Sawyer (în engleză The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer) este un roman scris de Mark Twain și apărut în anul 1876. Este o lucrare considerată ca literatură pentru copii, dar este citit cu plăcere și de unii adulți. Din cauza jargonului folosit de autor, romanul după publicație inițial a fost pus în America pe lista cărților interzise. (notita, jargonul se refera la denumirea care era data negrilor in anii aceia).

Copilul orfan Thomas Sawyer este crescut împreună cu fratele său vitreg Sid și verișoara Mary de mătușa Polly în satul american „St Petersburg” de pe malul fluviului Mississippi, denumire fictivă a orașului natal al autorului Hannibal, Missouri. În roman apar și Huckleberry Finn, un prieten de-al lui Tom, sclavul negru Jim, precum și Joe Indianul, un răufăcător căutat de autorități. Sid un copil model, îl pârăște la fiecare ocazie pe fratele său neastâmpărat Tom. Acesta chiulește de la școală, ducându-se la scăldat, se bate cu alți copii și se împrietenește cu Huckleberry Finn, un vagabond al cărui tată este un bețiv. Tom în peripețiile sale este în căutare de comori. Cu această ocazie este martorul unei crime comise în cimitir. În cele din urmă Tom descoperă pe Joe Indianul într-o peșteră. Cu ajutorul lui răufăcătorul este prins de autorități, iar Tom este sărbătorit ca erou. Autorul prezintă cu simpatie, înțelegere și umor aventurile personjului său principal, povestire care îl face pe cititor să-și reamintească de zilele fericite și fără griji ale copilăriei sale. (Sursa wikipedia)

Aventurile lui Huckleberry Finn – Carte audio

VIDEO by vladghering

Aventurile lui Tom Sawyer

Eroul principal al romanului este un băiat pe nume Huckleberry Finn care trăiește în târgușorul american imaginar St. Petersburg, Missouri, situat pe râul Mississippi, și duce o viată de hoinar, până când o vaduvă îl ia să îl educe și să îl învețe carte. Dar când prinsese și el puțin gustul modului lui nou de viață, apare tatăl său care îl răpește pe o insulă a râului, vrând astfel să îl dezvețe cu forța de bunele maniere proaspăt învățate. Huck evadează de acolo, înscenând totul ca și cum ar fi fost omorât. El fuge pe o altă insulă unde se întâlnește cu un negru fugar pe nume Jim. Cei doi se duc pe o plută în statele libere, dar în drumul lor ei întâlnesc doi hoți care îl vând pe Jim ca sclav unui fermier, unchiul personajului de roman Tom Sawyer. Huck fuge și, împreună cu Tom, îl eliberează pe Jim în stil eroic, fugind cu toții in Teritoriul Indian. Sursa pentru info si poze – wikipedia.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Movie (Hulu)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Animated English (Hulu)

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
FULL Audio Book – by Mark Twain (5 hrs)

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (or, in more recent editions, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn) is a novel by Mark Twain, first published in England in December 1884 and in the United States in February 1885. Commonly named among the Great American Novels, the work is among the first in major American literature to be written in the vernacular, characterized by local color regionalism. It is told in the first person by Huckleberry „Huck” Finn, a friend of Tom Sawyer and narrator of two other Twain novels (Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer, Detective). It is a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
The book is noted for its colorful description of people and places along the Mississippi River. Satirizing a Southern antebellum society that had ceased to exist about twenty years before the work was published.

If Christ was fully God lived on this earth in human nature, what was the role of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’s earthly life? What could the Spirit of God contribute to the deity of Christ?

Alemayehu Mekonnen, Ph.D, Associate professor of missions at Denver Seminary, 2013 reviews Dr. Ware, A. Bruce, The Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflection on the Humanity of Christ. Crossway, Wheaton, IL; 2013. Paperback $13.50. ISBN 13-978-1-4335-1305-3 (Photo credit http://www.amazon.com)

One would ask, if Christ was fully God lived on this earth in human nature, what was the role of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’s earthly life? What could the Spirit of God contribute to the deity of Christ? Bruce said; “The answer we must give is: Nothing! As God he possesses every quality infinitely, and nothing can be added to him. So then we ask instead this question: what could the Spirit of God contribute to the humanity of Christ? The answer is everything of supernatural power and enablement that he, in his human nature, would lack. The only way to make sense, then, of the fact that Jesus came in the power of the Spirit is to understand that he lived his life fundamentally as a man, and as such, he relied on the Spirit to provide the power, grace, knowledge, wisdom, direction, and enablement he needed, moment by moment an day by day, to fulfill the mission the Father sent him to accomplish” Pg. 30. To illustrate this point biblically, Bruce exegetes (Isa. 11:1-3) effectively.

The Man Jesus Christ sets an example of dependence on heavenly father and obedience to Him in the context of suffering. “This incarnate obedience, we might call it, was rendered often within the context of opposition and affliction, with the result often, that his obedience was the cause of much further suffering. In other words, he knew that he obeyed the Father, he was inviting only greater opposition and was putting himself in a place of increased suffering. Obedience per se was not new; rather, this kind of obedience was indeed new” Pg. 60. At a time a when “wealth and health” gospel is preached, and suffering is considered as negative in spiritual maturity or labeled with lack of faith. The obedience of Jesus Christ in the context of suffering refreshes authentic Christian and biblical outlook. “Oddly, some Christians seem instinctively to want to push away suffering. They think it best to keep suffering at arm’s length. But not only is this a mistake biblically and theologically; it is a huge mistake spiritually and practically” pg. 70.

Read the article in its entirety here- http://www.denverseminary.edu/

John Piper: „Brothers, Be Bible-Oriented—Not Entertainment-Oriented—Preachers”

John Piper has updated and added content, 6 new chapters and a new Introduction, to his book „Brothers We Are Not Professionals” to coincide with the theme of the Desiring God Pastor’s Conference 2013 also titled „Brothers We Are ‘Still’ Not Professionals” (the word ‘still’ added for 2013). Here is an excerpt form the newly added Chapter 13 here. You can read it in full at http://blog.bhpublishinggroup.com

Chapter 13: Brothers, Be Bible-Oriented—Not Entertainment-Oriented—Preachers
by John Piper

Earnestness is the demeanor that corresponds to the weight of the subject matter of preaching. The opposite of earnest is not joyful but trivial, flippant, frivolous, chipper. It is possible to be earnest and have elements of humor. But there is a vast difference between humor and levity—between robust laughter that grows up out of the realities of life and the silliness that constantly angles for a clever line and savvy turn of phrase.

Spurgeon had a way with words, for example, that caused some foolish things to look ludicrous. “Live on the substantial doctrines of grace, and you will outlive and out-work those who delight in the pastry and syllabubs of ‘modern thought’” (C. H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1954], 310). Now “syllabubs” is an extraordinary word! I don’t know how many of his people knew it. It means “a sweetened drink or topping made of milk or cream beaten with wine or liquor and sometimes further thickened with gelatin and served as a dessert.” It is a funny-sounding word. But he probably did not smile, and I doubt there was a calculated pause for the laughter to register. He is earnest but not so solemn in his earnestness that he cannot experience human folly as both sad and comical.

Unbroken seriousness of a melodramatic or somber kind will inevitably communicate a sickness of soul to the great mass of people. This is partly because life as God created it is not like that. There are, for example, little babies in the world who are not the least impressed with or in need of our passion and zeal and earnest looks. They are cooing and smiling and calling for their daddies to get down and play with them.

The daddy who cannot do this will not understand the true seriousness of sin because he is not capable of enjoying what God has preserved from its ravages. He is really a sick man and unfit to lead others to health. He is in the end earnest about being earnest, not earnest about being joyful. The real battle in life is to be as happy in God as we can be, and that takes a very special kind of earnestness, since God threatens terrible things if we will not be happy.

As far as I can remember in thirty-two years as a pastor, I have never told a joke in a sermon. Don’t feel picked on. My father, whom I esteem as high as any man, startedevery sermon with a joke. But joke, or no joke, our people laugh with uninhibited joy when humorous things happen, and I laugh with them. For example, once I was comparing the dolphin with the jellyfish. The dolphin swims where he wills. He is free and can cut against the current. But the jellyfish floats with the tide in bondage to every current that comes along. You can tell where I am going. So I looked out over the people and said with a loud voice, “Who in the world would want to be a jellyfish?” And a little girl in the second or third row said loud enough for all to hear and full of joy: “I would!” The place erupted in laughter. As it should.

There are hundreds of such things in life. And only the sick soul fails to laugh. But we live in a day when, it seems to me, few pastors are falling off their horse on the side of excessive seriousness. The trend is all in the other direction—toward the flippant, casual, clever, hip feel of entertainment. The main problem with this is that it is out of sync with the subject matter of the Bible and diminishes our people’s capacities to discern and feel the weight of glorious truth.

God
The sheer thought of God should make us tremble. Isaiah 66:2 says, “All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” Quipping and jesting about God—or in an effort to point to God—simply means a person is oblivious to reality. The domestication of God is a curse on preaching in our day. We need to recover reality and the language of majesty and holiness and awe and glory: “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” (Exod 15:11).

Sin
Sin is intrinsically ugly and outrageous in the universe. To trifle with sin and treat it as minor or casual is to miss what it is. We get some idea of its outrage by considering the images of physical suffering and agony that have entered the world to testify to sin’s moral horror.

And if we do not feel the immensity of sin’s contemptibleness from its images in human suffering, then the final penalty of it should make us shiver with what it must really be: “He . . . will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night” (Rev 14:10–11).

Sin’s outcome is eternal misery. What infinite ugliness then must be the ugliness of sin. This is the constant subject of preaching, for this is what we must ever overcome. It is more serious than Satan and sickness and insanity. None of those can damn a soul. Only sin can damn. This we must defeat in preaching, or all is in vain. Flippancy in and around our preaching communicates to people that sin is not as serious as the Bible says it is.

Hell
Jesus, more than anyone else in the Bible—and the apostle of love, after him (see Rev 14:10–11 above)—spoke of the horrors of hell. Jesus spoke of “outer darkness” (Matt 18:12), and “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 13:50), and a place where “their worm does not die” (Mark 9:48), and “unquenchable fire” (Mark 9:43), and a “place of torment” (Luke 16:28). These are descriptions of an eternity to which many people are heading because “the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction” (Matt 7:13).

Preaching has hell ever in view because so many people are going there and because the Word of God saves from hell. This makes a preacher earnest. If it does not, he is simply out of touch with reality.

Cross
The death of Jesus was unspeakably horrible. Not only because of its moral hideousness as the ultimate desecration of the infinitely pure Son of God but also as one of the most cruel kinds of torture a human can endure. The central saving event of our preaching was a horrible reality. Had we been there, we probably would have thrown up at the sight and then wept uncontrollably at the suffering of the most precious Person who has ever lived.

This act was the price for all we offer in preaching. Virtually every benefit or hope we offer in preaching was obtained at this cost. How can any of it be trifled with?

Read the article in full here –  http://blog.bhpublishinggroup.com

Preparing your christian kids for college – even home schooled kids with the first Christian Psychology Introductory Textbook in 60 years

photo via Dr. Rice’s Twitter page
The Christian Post has an interview with Dr. Tim Rice, LPC, author of Psychology: A Christian Perspective, High School Edition, who home schooled his own children.

Dr. Rice introduces psychology from a Christian perspective says Christian students entering college are unprepared for the challenges of today’s Psychology classes and „schools-of-thought.”  He also believes this unpreparedness is a reason for the high rate of Christian students dropping their faith after entering college.

Dr. Rice on his experience in college, as a Christian: “As a young Christian, one of the first college courses I took (almost 30 years ago) was Psychology 101. I was not ready to refute the worldview assumptions hidden in the theories I was taught. Under the banner of “science,” the psychology professor challenged or ridiculed everything I held dear. I was part of the majority of Christians who “walked away” from their faith within 12 months of starting college. I wrote Homeschool Psych to help prepare Christian homeschool students for the dangers of modern psychology and to provide a framework in which our children can study the wonders of the soul, the mind, the brain, and behavior though a Christian worldview.” source  and photo immediately below are from North Georgia Home Education Academy- http://www.nghomeeducationacademy.com/psychology

Dr. Rice on the book:

I really believe that every Christian student needs to deal with Psychology class before they go to college. As a young Christian taking Psychology 101 almost 30 years ago, I was not very prepared to defend my faith and totally unprepared to recognize the worldview beliefs underlying the theories and schools-of-thought I was taught. I don’t want that to happen to students today. That is why I believe that Psychology is one of the most important electives that a student can take in high school.

I also believe that because Psychology is a contentious topic among Christians, we’ve abandoned it to the secular, humanistic, and evolutionary perspectives. We need to reclaim Psychology for Christ and that starts with high school students. The goal for the study of Psychology, just like the study of Biology, Theology, History, and every other discipline, should be to understand God’s creation and, in the words of Johannes Kepler, to „think God’s thoughts after him.” Instead of surrendering psychology or falling away in the face of the world’s teaching, we have a duty to put forth reasoned explanations for our worldview in every discipline, including psychology.

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/author-aims-to-equip-hs-students-with-psychology-from-christian-perspective-88006/#O02IJRYH6mS3884P.99

The Jesus-Centered Church: An Interview with Matt Chandler

Tony interviews Matt Chandler about his new book Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church. Published on Nov 2, 2012 by 

„Sanctification in the Everyday” (Free eBook by John Piper)

Click on book image to download in pdf format or click here- http://dsr.gd/Q45E1U

If you would like to download on Kindle, iPad,Nook, etc – go here- http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/sanctification-in-the-everyday-free-ebook

A VERY MUCH NEEDED BOOK, a short read 44 pages + notes – Desiring God describes it:

How does the cross and victory of Jesus affect your everyday sanctification?

Over the past 30 years John Piper has preached several messages that equip listeners to apply the Bible in their daily lives. Stretching three decades, this e-book includes three of those sermons that intend to mobilize the church in the fight against sin and the walk of faith. In addition to these sermons, there is a practical appendix of acronyms Pastor John uses in his own life and commends to others.

Whether fighting a specific sin or walking by faith amid stressful circumstances, the aim of this e-book is to add to your arsenal for the everyday work of sanctification, for the glory of God.

Matt Chandler – The Explicit Gospel

 

The Crossway simulcast from May in Orlando, Florida, compliments of Lifeway.

Explicit Gospel Simulcast – Orlando, FL from Crossway on Vimeo.

Free Book download from John Piper – Love your enemies

John Piper is offering a free download of one of his oldest books titled ‘Love your enemies’ here at DesiringGod.org where you can either purchase the paperback edition from Crossway or download the entire book in pdf format.

Thank you John Piper and Desiring God and Crossway!

You can click on the link above or click on the book on the left and it will take you to the DesiringGod.org website where you can download this book.

Limitation on our Knowledge of God

John M. Frame in his book (textbook) p 20 ‘The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God‘:

Our limitations are of several kinds. First (as we have mentioned), sin motivates fallen people to distort the truth, to flee from it, to exchange it for a lie, and to misuse it. This is one potent source of falsehood and ignorance in our thinking, even in the redeemed mind. Because of Christ, Christians have that problem under control (Rom. 6:14), but it will not completely disappear until the Last Day.

Second, errors in our knowledge arise from immaturity and weakness. Even if Adam had not fallen, the acquisition of knowledge would not have taken place all at once. It would have been a historical process, part of the „subduing of the earth” (Gen. 1:28; cf. 2:19f.). Even Jesus „grew” in wisdom and stature (luke 2:52) and „learned” obedience (Heb. 5:8) in His life as a perfect man. Certainly then, even apart form sin, human knowledge may be incomplete; we may be ignorant in comparison to what we may know later.

Frame then gives a list of ‘discontinuities’ ways in which our thoughts are not like God’s thoughts on p.22. Here are a few of them:

  • God’s thoughts ultimately determine, or decree, what comes to pass
  • God’s thoughts, therefore, are self validating; they serve as their own criteria of truth. God’s thoughts are true simply because they are His… Our thoughts are not necessarily true, and when they are true, it is because they agree with the thoughts of someone else, namely God, who furnishes the criteria for our thinking.
  • God does not need to have anything ‘revealed’ to Him; He knows what He knows simply by virtue of who He is and what He does. But all of our knowledge is based on revelation. When we know something, it is because God decided to let us know it, either by Scripture or by nature.
  • God has not chosen to reveal all truth to us. For example, we do not know the future, beyond what Scripture teaches. We do not know all of the facts about God or even about creation.

You can listen to the first chapter in mp3 format here – John_Frame_Doctrine_of_the_Knowledge_of_God_chapter_1.mp3

You can access or download a study guide for this book here – http://thirdmill.org/newfiles/joh_frame/frame.he2005.studyguidetodkg.pdf

You can find dozens of articles and some mp3 messages from John M. Frame at the monergism website  at this link – http://www.monergism.com

Books by John M. Frame – http://www.monergismbooks.com

it matters what (that) your kid reads

Jason Lee -Creative Kids Photography

Jason Lee -Creative Kids Photography


Did you ‘get’ the titles of the books these cute sisters are reading? As adults, we have come to know that reading the Bible is the best way to stay strong in our faith. However, we see many who struggle to „make themselves” read. So, it’s important to teach kids to like (if not love) to read.

What books will you recommend that your kids read? And how do you instill the love of reading in your kids? Here is a link on 10 ways to get kids excited about reading.(One example-Show your kids that reading will introduce them to new people, take them to faraway places, and let them travel through time. Start a family or neigborhood book group) If you click on #3 it will take you to a page where you can sign up for a free e-newsletter for Printable Worksheets and age specific Activities for the Family in the following age group ranges-    0-3     4-6     7-11     12-18.

Here’s how you can make reading a part of your kids’ everyday lives. by Cindy Bond


1. Show your kids that reading will introduce them to new people, take them to faraway places, and let them travel through time. Start a family or neigborhood book group.

2. Sign up your kids (and yourself) for a book club.

3. Print out these bookmarks and your kids will never lose their place again!

4. Make the connection between fact and fiction for your kids. If they loved Stellaluna, point them toward this quiz on bats.

5. Have your kids recommend their favorite books to friends and get their friends’ recommendations.

6. Turn your kids into supersleuths. After they read a book, they can create an unbreakable, crazy code.

7. Be sneaky! Take our kids on a „book nick.” It’s kind of like a picnic, only better!

8. Remember that practice makes perfect. Help your kids practice rhyming words, drawing lines and shapes, and moving their eyes and hands from left to right.

More on: Learning to Read Read more on FamilyEducation: http://school.familyeducation.com/reading-fun/parenting/38335.html#ixzz1v3P3rHO6

This picture reminds me of my own childhood… My dad had bookcases lining the walls of several rooms, he always had a book in his pocket in case he had to wait at an appointment, and even when he took us to the park to play he sat quietly on a bench and read. Like father, like daughter. He instilled the love of reading into me for which I am forever grateful. My favorite book? The wisest, the most interesting, historic, literary and redeeming book of all- the Bible!

Dr. John R.W. Stott – John Stott on the Bible and the Christian Life (Audio – Chapter 1 – in his own words)

via 

John Stott sheds light on the authority of the Bible, the „dual-author” nature of the Bible, biblical interpretation, the problem of culture, developing a Christian mind, and making an impact on society.

Available in print, audiobook format and DVD format. In the six-session DVD curriculum, author and pastor John R. W. Stott–recently named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine–addresses key areas of Christian beliefs in his typical clear, balanced, biblically based, and intellectually rigorous manner. Sessions include:

  1.  The Authority of the Bible;
  2.  The Nature of the Bible: Double Authorship;
  3.  The Interpretation of the Bible;
  4.  The Problem of Culture;
  5.  Developing a Christian Mind; and
  6.  Making an Impact on Society.  Also includes a discussion guide.

Videourile Vodpod nu mai sunt disponibile.

Free audiobook through December 31 – „When I don’t desire God” by John Piper

Here is a great gift to us from John Piper: You have about 8 days to go to http://www.audiobook.com (or click on the photo of the book on the right hand side)and get this book in audio form. Here are the instructions on how to do this:

  1. Go to the book’s link at Christian Audio
  2. Click „Add to Cart”
  3. Enter the code DG1211 and „Apply Coupon”
  4. Checkout and „Download Now”

You can also download the book in pdf form here – Download When I Don’t Desire God (PDF).

From the book cover:

For over thirty years, John Piper has been trumpeting the truth that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” He calls it Christian Hedonism.

The problem is that many people, after being persuaded, find out that this truth is both liberating and devastating. It’s liberating because it endorses our inborn desire for joy. And it’s devastating because it reveals that we don’t desire God the way we should.

When you discover the biblical truth that God commands our happiness in him, the absolutely urgent question becomes: What can I do if I don’t have it?With the heart of a pastor and with radical passion for the glory of Christ, John Piper wants to help you answer that question.

(via)Jonathan Parnell @ http://www.desiringGod.org

Book Recommendation „In Light of Eternity” – The Life of Leonard Ravenhill

IN LIGHT OF ETERNITY – The Life of Leonard Ravenhill
by Mack Tomlinson
http://illbehonest.com/Leonard-Ravenhill-Biography-In-Light-of-Eternity-Mack-…

Ravenhill’s spiritual life, uniquely marked by experiential godliness, was from its beginning rooted in eighteenth century English Methodism. Had he lived two hundred years earlier, he could have been one of the men laboring in the gospel with John Wesley or George Whitefield. His grandmother, mother, and father were all converted to Christ through that spiritual heritage. Converted at age fifteen, Ravenhill later trained for Christian ministry under the saintly influence of Samuel Chadwick at Cliff College in England. Characterized by a deep life of prayer, passionate evangelistic zeal and a powerful preaching gift, his ministry drew traffic-jamming crowds in the British Isles during the 1930’s and 1940’s. Along with D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and J. Edwin Orr, Ravenhill was one of the few specialists in the 20th century regarding the message of genuine revival and spiritual awakening.

Hardcover / 597 pages
$36.95 postpaid within U.S.A.
$46.95 postpaid international – UK or Australia only; not available in any other countries.

Available here: ravenhillbiography.com

Videourile Vodpod nu mai sunt disponibile.

God’s Secret Agent – by Sammy Tippitt (Iosif Ton,Titus Coltea, mentioned in book)

God’s Secret Agent is an autobiography of  Sammy Tippit (written with Jerry B. Jenkins)

Cover of

Cover of God's Secret Agent

It is a riveting account of Sammy Tippit’s mission work in Communist Eastern Europe (Romania) and it reads like a spy thriller. Readers will feel the danger of smuggling Bibles and preaching God’s Word behind the Iron Curtain and will witness God’s miracles as Tippit introduces people enslaved by Communism to the freedom to be found in Christ. Previously released as No Matter What the Cost (Thomas Nelson Publishers). (from the book cover) In this book Tippit works ‘underground’  with Iosif Ton and Dr. Titus Coltea.

Chapter 1:

THE DAY THE CURTAIN TORE
One of the defining moments of my life came the evening of New Year’s Day in 1990. More than ten years later, I still see it in my mind as though it were yesterday. Everything I’ve ever done pointed to an experience destined to thrust me into situations I never dreamed possible. That night would give me the courage to walk into the aftermath of genocide in Rwanda. It thrust me into the middle of war in Burundi. It opened doors for me to speak in some of the largest stadiums in the world. And it inspired me to dream of reaching China and the Middle East
with the message of Christ.

It was cold and dark, and snow fell at the eerily quiet Romanian border that evening. Revolution was in full swing. Everyone else seemed to be trying to get out of the country, but two friends and I had to get in. My heart pounded as armed soldiers approached our car. I knew my name was in their computers as having been blacklisted a year and a half before. If the soldiers
were tied to the communist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, our very lives were in danger.
“Get out!” I knew that what came next would change my life, for good or for bad. I was not new to that border crossing. There had always been delays, searches, and harassment. But to try to get into Romania on New Year’s Day evening during the revolution, after what had happened July 22, 1998, many would consider lunacy. That fateful July night, soldiers had pulled me off a train and held me under guard until the next day. Then I was blacklisted and told, “You’ll never set foot on Romanian soil again as long as you live.” All I could do was sing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” because I had to believe God would allow me to see my beloved Romanian friends again. We had developed such a mutual love over the years that the very thought of our separation broke my heart. After I had been deported, Romanian friends smuggled a note to me. “Sammy,” it read, “remember, the glory of God comes only through much suffering. Keep praying. Don’t give up.” But how could anything ever change in Romania? The Securitate [Si-kyoor-’i-ta-’tay], Romania’s dreaded secret police, were ruthless, helping Ceausescu rule with an iron fist. Many believed that one of every three people in the nation was somehow linked to the Securitate. There was no such thing as peaceful protest in Romania. Whenever I visited, friends and I had been followed and threatened, and now I had been banned. I had been preaching in Nigeria in 1989 when I first heard news that made me dream of the possibility of going back to Romania. After a couple of hours of fitful dozing in a remote, dilapidated hotel, I awoke dehydrated and doubled over with pain. The only people I knew in the hotel were two missionaries from New York whom I’d met in the restaurant. In the middle of the night I staggered to their room and woke them. The phone system was down, but somehow they got through to a local pastor and brought him to me. As soon as he saw me, he knew I needed to get to a hospital. There they wanted to pump liquids into me, and as much as I hated to offend the woman preparing the IV, with AIDS rampant in Africa I had to ask, “Has this needle been used before?” “Why, of course not!” she snapped. There seemed to be only one person on duty in the entire hospital, and no one on my floor. When my IV ran low, I had to get up and carry it with me, calling for someone downstairs to come and help me. They tried to convince me it was natural that my stomach began to bloat. I was scared and in pain. Never had I been so sympathetic to my wife, who had twice been pregnant. I thought I was going to burst. I prayed earnestly, “Lord, I hate to put out a fleece, but I’ve got to have an answer. If what they’re doing to me is wrong, don’t let my stomach deflate. If it’s right, let the swelling reduce.”If my stomach was still swollen twelve hours later, I was going to take the needle out, get dressed, catch a taxi, and pay whatever it cost to get me to Lagos (about a three-hour drive). From there I would fly to London and find a hospital where they could help me. I knew my decision might offend the people of Nigeria, but I was so sick I felt I had no choice. Fortunately, the swelling subsided, but I was still very sick. The local pastor visited me for about a half hour each day, but otherwise I was lonely. He kept telling me, “You’ll be okay, brother Sammy. God has given us assurance. He will take care of you.” I appreciated that, but in truth I wanted divine help that was concrete and visible—in the form of people who would stay with me. Short of that, I had to call my wife, Tex. Finally finding a working phone, I brought her up to date and said, “Sweetheart, pray for me, and get your other women to pray for me.”

After she encouraged me, she asked if I had heard about the Berlin Wall.  “No,” I said. “What about it?” “It’s come down.” I was sure I hadn’t heard her right. “You’ve got to be kidding!” “I’m not, Sammy. The wall has come down. People are dancing in the streets.” Sick as I was, I hardly slept. So much of my life and ministry revolved around the Eastern bloc that my heart and soul and mind yearned to be there. I’d had the indescribable privilege of
preaching all over the world, but my international ministry began in Europe, a place God led me to in my first few months as a Christian. I had prayed since my college years for the downfall of atheistic Communism, because I knew it was Satan’s greatest weapon against the gospel in Eastern Europe. Since beginning to minister there in the 1970s, I had prayed more specifically for the end of oppression of the beloved brothers and sisters in Christ I had grown so close to over the years. I had heard great elderly saints cry out to God for this day, yet I can’t say I truly had the faith to believe it would happen in my lifetime. I knew it was a worthy prayer and that people imprisoned by godless dictatorships were victims of spiritual warfare, but I was as shocked and thrilled as anyone when the news came. I knew how important the Berlin Wall news was when I realized that in spite of all my pain and sickness and fear and loneliness, I was occasionally overcome with joy. Lying in that hospital bed, wishing I could be anywhere but there, I began thinking about the wonderful news from Europe and praised God for His mighty work. As usually happens with intestinal distress, the antibiotics gradually began to work against the bacterial infection, and the pain and discomfort slowly started to lift. I was eventually able to preach the last couple of days of the Nigerian crusade, and I couldn’t wait to get back to the States and to see about getting to the Eastern bloc.

Before I was blacklisted and deported, my main area of ministry had been Romania. Tex told me as soon as I arrived home that everyone wanted to know if I thought Romania would be the next place to break free of totalitarianism. I told her, “Not without a bloodbath. The Securitate is too
strong. With transportation and communication so limited, no one could pull off a coup without bloodshed.” Just a few weeks later, I took my family to Louisiana to visit my widowed mother. We were enjoying the Christmas holidays, the adults chatting in the kitchen, when my son, Dave, came in. “Dad, come and watch the news. Something is happening in Timisoara [Tim’-mee-schwa’-ra]. There’s been a massacre.” I rushed to the TV in time to view CNN’s reports about the Romanian city of more than 300,000 people, the city that had become so dear to my heart. People had been killed. Multitudes had taken to the streets. Could any of them be my treasured loved ones in Christ, the brave soldiers of the cross who had for so long lived out their faith under the tyranny of Nicolae Ceausescu? I was glued to the TV, praying I wouldn’t hear numbered among the victims the names of layman Nelu Dronca or Pastor Peter Dugalescu—two of the many brothers and sisters in Christ in Timisoara who had become so beloved to my family and me. Reporters had never been allowed into the country, so news was sketchy. The borders were closed, and truck drivers were the only ones allowed out. I called Sam Friend, a former associate in Washington State, and asked what he knew. He told me the Securitate had come to arrest a pastor named Laszlo Tokes, who had spearheaded a demonstration. When government forces arrived, they found people surrounding his home to protect him. The Securitate had fired into the crowd, killing dozens. That was all Sam knew.
I called Wheaton, Illinois, to talk to Josif Tson, head of the
Romanian Missionary Society and former pastor of the great
Second Baptist Church in Oradea, Romania, where revival had
swept through years before. Josif confirmed Sam Friend’s report and bemoaned the plight of his countrymen. I believed the United States needed to take a stand. Romanians were always low on food. They had no weapons, no money. We needed to come to their aid. I became obsessed with the people of Romania. I told Tex, “I know it’s our Christmas, but I have to do something.” “I’m with you all the way,” she said. “But what are you going to
do?” I considered something drastic and noisy, as I would have done early in my ministry—maybe chaining myself to a cross in front of the United Nations building. Or going to the great Romanian population in Chicago and calling for a big rally in the civic center there. But times had changed. Techniques that had once been effective could now make me a laughingstock. I called all my media contacts and encouraged them to get the word out that the Securitate would march through and massacre more people while the world press was focusing on controversy in Panama. One thing the Communists hated was adverse publicity. So every chance I got I accepted interviews as a Romania watcher who had spent years in ministry there. I called for the American people, particularly the Christian community, to raise a loud cry against the atrocities. “We need to protest every killing. We need to stand for the Romanian people.” Within days the stunning news arrived. The army had pulled out of Timisoara. The Communists had been booted out, and a transitional government was in control.

From what he knew of the passion of the resistance and his years as a Romania watcher, Josif Tson predicted that within forty-eight hours Ceausescu would be dethroned. From anyone else, that was a remark I would have dismissed as foolishness. I had spent enough time in Romania to know how powerful Ceausescu was, how he had surrounded himself with security and staged elaborate parades in honor of himself. Yet Josif was a Romanian, a powerful expatriate. Perhaps his contacts in-country had passed on inside information. Still, I was skeptical. “It will happen, Sammy,” he said. “We need to prepare.” I was so excited about the possiblity of returning to Romania that I could hardly think of anything else. After my years of ministering there, it had now been seventeen long months since I had been to that country whose precious people I loved so much. I helped arrange for a colleague, evangelist Steve Wingfield, to preach in Timisoara the next month, and for Dr. Joe Ford, chairman of the board of our ministry, to go. “It’s dangerous,” I said, “and I can’t tell you what you should do. But, I’m making plans. I don’t know when, but at the right moment, I’m going.” Steve and Joe both said, “We’re going, too.” The next thing I heard was that while Ceausescu was making a speech in Bucharest, he staged another demonstration to show how the people loved him. But some university students, who had heard over Radio Free Europe what had happened in Timisoara, began hollering from the back of the crowd, “Jos cu Ceausescu! Jos cu Ceausescu! [Down with Ceausescu!]” The crowd picked up the chant, and perhaps for the first time since he had taken power in 1974, Ceausescu realized he didn’t have the support of the people. Ceausescu was the cruelest of all dictators. He spent elaborately on himself, even built himself an obscenely opulent palace, one of the largest buildings in Europe, despite the squalor of the people. The populace was starving and couldn’t get bread or meat. They camped out to stay in line for gasoline. Yet Ceausescu lived like a king. Most experts agree that at least a third of the population had been compromised by the Securitate. Family members would turn each other in for various offenses to gain favor with the

Within days the stunning news arrived. The army had pulled out of Timisoara. The Communists had been booted out, and a transitional government was in control. From what he knew of  the passion of the resistance and his years as a Romania watcher,guards. Yet all over the country signs read, “Long live Ceausescu!” “The People for Ceausescu!” ”Ceausescu Peace!” It was Orwellian. One of my dearest friends in the world, a compatriot, a prayer warrior, and my companion and translator in Romania, was a man named Titus Coltea. A young medical doctor who risked everything to serve Christ against the wishes of the Communists, Titus and his wife, Gabi, were on our minds every minute. How I missed this dear brother and his deep, warm, affectionate, bold faith! Steve Wingfield came to me with the news that a friend of his had used a phone with an automatic redialer to finally reach Titus after thirty hours of continuous calling. “It was strange,” Steve reported. “My friend kept asking Titus how he was doing
and was he safe and how was his family, but all Titus could say was, ‘The glory of God has come to my country. The glory of God has come to my country. Tell Sammy that what we have prayed for for so long has come. Tell him he must come immediately.’” The next day I talked to Titus by phone, and he told me to get a vehicle and put a red cross on it and drive to the border. “They’ll let you in if you bring medical supplies, no questions asked.” I arranged for a vehicle through a friend in Germany and began planning to go. That Sunday morning my pastor, David Walker, asked me to update the congregation on Romania. After I shared what was happening and what our plans were, he added: “Sammy will not ask for money, but I will. If you want to help get him there or provide medical supplies, just give it directly to him after the service.” It reminded me of earlier years in my ministry, when God had His ways of providing for us. One man asked me how much I thought my flight would cost, then wrote a check to cover it. By the time I left church that morning, I had been handed more than four thousand dollars!
On Christmas Day I heard the stunning news that Josif Tson had predicted: Ceausescu was not only dethroned but also put to death by firing squad. It was time to go. Steve and Joe and I flew into Vienna January 1, 1990, and were met at about noon by Don Shelton, pastor of a church I had pastored years before in West Germany. Don and a few other laymen were there with a
van and medical supplies. Although my luggage never arrived, I didn’t take the time to buy clothes. We had nearly an eight-hour drive to the border at Oradea, and I couldn’t wait to get there. Titus told me there would be a church service that night, and though he wouldn’t tell anyone I was coming, I wanted to be there more than anything. “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” was on my heart again as I realized that truly, even when everything else fails, God is faithful. No government, no dictator could keep me out if God wanted me
in. We drove as fast as we dared across Austria and Hungary. About an hour outside the border between Hungary and Romania, we started praying. Don Shelton and I were both blacklisted in the computer, and we were not to be allowed back in the country. The question now was, who was in charge of the
border? Who would be in control of the computer, and how would they respond to us, even with our red cross and medical supplies? First we had to pass through the Hungarian border, where they welcomed us with open arms and insisted we enjoy a lengthy meal. We kept tying to beg off, but they wouldn’t hear of it. We finally got to the Romania side, and in the dark, desolate, dead of winter we were ordered out of the car.

In the past the first question had always been whether we had Bibles. The Romanians believed Christianity was an illness. While there was no law against people afflicted with its disease meeting together, trying to bring a Bible in was considered akin to pushing drugs. I didn’t try to smuggle in even my own Bible, let alone Bibles for others. I always used one from someone
inside the country. But this time the question was different. “Are you a Christian?” My heart raced. I always made it a practice to tell the truth, to
not smuggle, to assume that if God wanted me somewhere, nothing could stop me. I had seen friends turned away because they had been “in-country with Sammy Tippit,” only to be routinely processed through myself a few minutes later. “Yes,” I said, “we are Christians.” With that the guard smiled, threw open his arms, and said Welcome to Romania. There is a man in the customs office waiting for Christians to arrive.” We looked up, and here came Titus and Gabi running to embrace us. What a joyous reunion! We knelt in the same spot where I had once been told by a Securitate guard that I would never be able to return. We prayed and praised God, and then Titus said, “We must get you to the church. The service has already run two hours.” We got there at the end of the meeting. I had become so endeared to the people of that great church that they even had a greeting just for me. Whenever I showed up, whoever was leading the service would say, “Tonight we have with us . . .,” and the people would say in unison, “Sommy Teepeet.” Now there was a stir as they saw me arrive after my exile. Titus’s brother-in-law was at the microphone. Although they had been about to close, he said, “Tonight we have with us . . .” How sweet to hear that congregation of more than two thousand say in their unique accents, “Sammy Tippit!” Peter said, “Brother Sammy, would you preach?” There was nothing I’d rather do. Titus and I mounted the steps to that platform, and my heart burst with love and joy as I looked into the beaming faces of newly freed people. I couldn’t wait to open to them the Word of God. Titus and I

click to read book

could only weep as we spoke, praising God for the mighty miracle He had wrought in their land. The great question on all our minds was what this would mean for the rest of the Iron Curtain countries. With the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and the execution of the Romanian dictator, what could be next? From the massive Soviet Union came rumors of  demonstrations, threats of secession, and Kremlin strong-arm tactics. Clearly we had burst into a historic period. The mammoth Iron Curtain had been rent, and the world would never be the same. Neither would our ministry.

You can read this book on google books or click on the icon at right.

Ravi Zacharias – Our disappointments matter to God

Ravi Zacharias International Ministries

Adapted from a message by Ravi Zacharias based in part upon a chapter from his most recent book, The Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives (Zondervan: 2007).

I want to look at the theme of God as the Grand Weaver. When I was a teenager growing up in Delhi I was really not doing very well. I was failing at everything. For those of you who have read my story in Walking from East to West, you’ll know failure was writ large on my life. My dad basically looked at me and said, “You know, you’re going to be a huge embarrassment to the family—one failure after another.” And he was right given the way I was headed. I just was looking for an escape. I wanted to get out of everything I was setting my hand to, and I lacked discipline.

During this time, India was at war with a neighboring country and the defense academy was looking for pilots to be trained. They were calling them general duties pilots—G.D. pilots. So I applied and I went to be interviewed for this. It was an overnight train journey from the city of Delhi. It was wintertime and it gets quite cold then in the northern part of the country. We were outside freezing in the cold air for about five days as we went through physical endurance tests and all kinds of other tests. There were three hundred applicants; they were going to select ten. On the last day they put their selection of names out on the board, and I was positioned number three.

I phoned my family and said, “You aren’t going to believe this. I’m going to make it. I’m number three. The only thing that’s left is the interview. The psychological testing is tomorrow, and I’ll be home.”

The next morning I began my interview with the chief commanding officer, who looked to me like Churchill sitting across the table. He asked me question after question. Then he leaned forward and said, “Son, I’m going to break your heart today.” I wondered what he was going to say. He continued, “I’m going to reject you. I’m not going to pass you in this test.” “May I ask you why, sir?” I replied. “Yes. Psychologically, you’re not wired to kill. And this job is about killing.”

You know, inside of me I felt that I was on the verge of wanting to prove him wrong right then and there. But I knew better, both for moral reasons and for his size! So I went back to my room and didn’t talk to anybody, packed my bags, got into the train, and arrived in Delhi. My parents and friends were waiting at the platform with garlands and sweets in their hands to congratulate me. No one knew. I thought to myself, “How do I even handle this? Where do I even begin?” They were celebrating, and yet for me, it was all over.

Or so I thought.

Had I been selected, I would have had to commit twenty years to the Indian armed forces. It was the very next year that my father had the opportunity to move to Canada. My brother and I moved there as the first installment, and the rest of them followed. It was there I was in business school and God redirected my paths to theological training. It was there that I met Margie; there my whole life changed. The rest is history. Had I been in the Indian Air Force, who knows what thread I’d have pulled to wreck the fabric.

Thankfully, our disappointments matter to God, and He has a way of taking even some of the bitterest moments we go through and making them into something of great significance in our life. It’s hard to understand it at the time. Not one of us wants that thread when it is being woven in. Not one of us says, “I can hardly wait to see where this is going to fit.” We all say at that moment, “This is not the pattern I want.”

After a series of miracles, Moses audaciously said to the Lord, “How will I know it is you who’s calling me here?” And the Lord, if you will, with a little grin on his face, probably said, “When you get there, you’ll find out. You will worship me on that mountain.” Moses essentially replies, “Wait a minute. I’m not asking you what I’m going to feel like when I get there because it’s too late then to say I’ve done the wrong thing. I want to know now: what is it you’re really asking me to do and why?”

Complex Questions

Regarding our disappointments, there are two critical points I want to make before I get into the heart of my response. (Those of you who pick up the book, there’s a study guide at the end of it addressing this in detail. I hope this response will become meaningful for many of you as it was for me.) The first thing is this: when you speak of disappointment, it is impossible to think of it outside of the philosophical issue of suffering itself. That is, it is not just that you’re disappointed in a job interview. It is not just that you’re disappointed that you went on a journey and it turned out to be something other than what you thought it would be. It’s not just that you bought a car and found out it was a lemon.

Rather, it is the fact that life itself sometimes has the word “disappointment” writ large all across it. Despair, for some, is not a moment—it is a way of life. I remember reading the story of a well-known baseball umpire at the peak of his career. Everything was seemingly going well. Then his wife comes home and finds him in the garage, and he’s poisoned himself with carbon monoxide. He’s gone and there’s no note left.

Over the years I have discovered that pain, like despair, comes not in one package or one expression but in different measures and spares nobody. In the process it shapes us uniquely.

I have a very basic philosophical response, and I’ve written on this many other ways. It runs something like this: the philosophical problem is actually far more intense than the skeptic actually thinks it is. The philosophical problem, or the problem of pain, is actually more complex and complicated than the philosopher actually thinks it is when he or she raises the question. Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens attempt to hit God with both fists. Their biggest problem is the problem of evil. How can God allow all of this?

In fact, Harris actually showed his true colors in an interview with The Sun magazine in September 2006. He said, “If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion. I think more people are dying as a result of our religious myths than as a result of any other ideology.” I shudder to think, if he has a daughter, whether he’d say that after she was raped, possibly by an irreligious man.

They raise the question of evil, and I’m telling you, it is more complex than they think it is. Why? Because one must question the questioner. If there’s such a thing as evil, you assume there’s such a thing as good. If you assume there’s such a thing as good, you assume there’s such a thing as a moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil. If you assume there’s such a thing as a moral law, you must posit a moral law giver, but that’s whom they are trying to disprove and not prove. Because if there’s not a moral law giver, there’s no moral law. If there’s no moral law, there’s no good. If there’s no good, there’s no evil. What is their question?

Now you may question the last jump: why do you actually need a moral law giver if you have a moral law? The answer is because the questioner and the issue he or she questions always involve the essential value of a person. That is, you can never talk of morality in abstraction. Persons are implicit to the question and the object of the question. In a nutshell, positing a moral law without a moral law giver would be equivalent to raising the question of evil without a questioner. So you cannot have a moral law unless the moral law itself is intrinsically woven into personhood, which means it demands an intrinsically worthy person if the moral law itself is valued. And that person can only be God.

Second, the question is not only more complex philosophically; the question’s more complex experientially. You see, most people end in despair not from disappointment through pain but disappointment with pleasure. The loneliest moment in life is when you have just experienced what you thought would deliver the ultimate—and it has let you down. That’s the reality. Oscar Wilde once suggested, “There is no passion that we cannot feel, no pleasure that we may not gratify, and we can choose the time of our initiation and the time of our freedom.” He was the quintessential hedonist, yet he confessed that “desire at the end was a malady, madness, or both.” He said that he had become numb to feeling; he’d lost the capacity to feel pleasure. At the end of his life, he sent for a minister and admitted that only Christ was big enough to forgive his sin. This was the definitive man on sensuality. Thus, the question is far more complex philosophically and experientially.

Finding Balance

So where do we find some answers? By way of introduction, let me suggest that we must put our own disappointments in balance. I have seen so much as I travel, and I think we, particularly in the West, are spoiled. That is, we take up issue with God about a cold. Now I understand that colds can be horrible, but while people are being martyred in the Middle East for the sake of the Gospel, we need to put our problems a little more in perspective. I’m not saying not to be disturbed by such troubles; I’m just saying don’t lose your faith over them.

When I was finishing writing my book, I went to the kitchen early in the morning to make myself a cup of coffee. All of a sudden I heard some crunching. My daughter was visiting us and she brought her puppy. The previous night, in front of the kids, I presented my wife, Margie, with a necklace I bought overseas of semiprecious and precious stones and zircons. The colors were so beautiful that everyone I showed it to wished I were giving it to them. Yet there was that necklace on the floor, and the puppy was having a ball. I started crying. I said, “What do I tell this dog? You’ve just ruined a beautiful necklace.” And of course, the puppy just looked at me. When Margie came down, she was horrified and said she would see if she could find a jeweler to fix it. I was thinking more of somebody that could take care of the dog!

But sometime later it dawned on me as I was mourning this loss that the previous night Margie had talked with one of her very close friends from childhood. They’d grown up together, and within eighteen months she had lost her father, her husband, and her son. She commented, “It has put all of life in perspective.” Yes, I mourned the loss of that necklace—it was something I really wanted to give. But one can always replace a necklace. So we ought to put our disappointments in balance.

The First Step

How do we do this? Every journey requires deliberate steps. I believe there are three distinct steps before the pattern becomes visible and the work of God is displayed. The first step is a commitment of the heart. Your commitment to God is first and foremost a thing of the heart. To “trust in the Lord with all your heart and to lean not on your own understanding and in all of your ways acknowledge him” (Proverbs 3: 5-6a). Nobody understood this better than the man who wrote those words, Solomon. If you look at the book of Proverbs you’ll find the word “heart” again and again. Solomon talked about the heart because he lost his heart to many women. But he reminds us, “My son, give me your heart” (Proverbs 23: 26). This is because your entire spiritual journey and the threads that God wants to pull together will be determined by who owns your heart.

Now I’m an apologist; we deal with the things of the intellect. Some of my closest friends are apologists and we work together. William Lane Craig, probably the finest Christian philosopher around today, was a classmate at graduate school. Norman Geisler was my professor and I know him well now. I remember once being at a conference with them and two other apologists. We were having lunch together when a man nearby joked, “I hope a bomb doesn’t fall in this place; apologetics is finished for a few years.” But you know what? Every one of them will tell you it gets tiresome. After some time, it gets tiresome to just give intellectual answers to people because life has to find a bridge from the mind to the heart. It was a famed archbishop of Canterbury who said that the longest journey in life is from the head to the heart. The problem with these hatetheists is that for many it has never gone into their hearts. It is all a cerebral thing.

However, the work of God is not displayed in abstract terms. It is concrete. Here is my point. At the end of your life, one of three things will happen to your heart: it will be hardened, broken, or made tender. These terms are not clichés; they are real. Nobody escapes. Your heart will become coarse and desensitized, be crushed under the weight of disappointment, or be made tender by that which makes the heart of God tender as well. God’s heart is a caring heart. As the writer of the letter to the Hebrews reminds us, He is deeply touched by our infirmities (see Hebrews 2:14-18; 4:14-5:3).

Writer Calvin Miller says in his book Spirit, Word, and Story,

“The sermon and the Spirit always work in combination to produce liberation. Sometimes the Spirit and sermon do supply direct answers to human need, but most often they answer indirectly…. The sermon, no matter how sincere, cannot solve these unsolvable problems. So if the sermon is not a problem solver, where shall we go for the solutions? Together with the Spirit, the sermon exists to point out that having answers is not essential to living. What is essential is the sense of God’s presence during dark seasons of questioning…. Our need for specific answers is dissolved in the greater issue of the lordship of Christ over all questions—those that have answers and those that don’t.”

It is your heart in close communion with God that helps carry you through the pain, beyond the power of mere words. We went through a very tough time as a family over the last two years, and one of my daughters said to my wife and me, “Sometimes I wonder if God’s plan is a little bit like these GPS systems in our cars. You get off route and a voice tells you you’re on the wrong road—make a U-turn or make a left—and somehow it prompts you to get you back onto the main route. You might take the long way there but your destination is the same, and like the GPS, God calculates the way back.” I think it’s a brilliant analogy.

The children of Israel wandered around for forty years. It should have taken six weeks. God said, “Wrong route—get back here. Wrong route—get back here.” Our stiff-necked belief tells us we have it all together and so we don’t hear God’s direction. But in God’s grace He leads us back. My purpose here is simply to note the appointments God makes with each of us individually in the disappointments of our lives—both the threads that He brings in and the ones that He leaves out. That is where we will find the distinctive shape and imprint of the Grand Weaver.

I was talking to the chief of intelligence of a Middle Eastern country recently who said, “I give this part of the world no more than five years. And maybe the whole world no more than five years if nothing changes.” We have all these minds working on solutions but we don’t have any answers because our hearts are not in tune with the mercy and the grace and the love of God. We want to solve it all our way. And so problems of five thousand years old, we are settling on the battlefield. One man we met who lives on his country’s border takes his ten-year-old son to the top of the hill every day and tells his boy, “Your whole goal in life should be to kill as many of them on the other side as you can.” When he’s sixteen and has these bombs strapped on him, he doesn’t know any better because that’s all that’s been pummeled into his brain. We don’t have the brains to solve everything we see.

My question to you today is who owns your heart? To whom does your heart belong? How will you know the answer to the question? It is what Solomon said: “In all your ways acknowledge him.” It is the path that you choose, the decisions that you make, the way that you live. If you do not acknowledge God, then your heart belongs to something or someone other than to Him. So the first step is a commitment of the heart.

Faith Is a Mindset

Second, it is a discipline of the mind. When you have faith in God, it is not credulity; it is not foolishness. Neither do you emerge into some kind of a cerebral individual. In fact, I have known some highly cerebral, driven individuals who spent most of their lives defending the Christian faith and then ended up with some very deep questions of the soul. Such a life is unlivable. Yes, faith is a thing of the mind. But the mind is more than the brain. What the brain is to the body, the mind is to the soul. Faith is the way you view things. If you do not believe that God is in control and has formed you for a purpose, you will flounder on the high seas of purposelessness, drowning in the currents and drifting further into nothingness.

Let me give you a simple illustration of this. One of the things I love about the Christian faith is that we have some wonderful questions that we’ll have time to interact with and see brilliantly unfold for us in eternity. Think of the ones walking on the Emmaus road with all of these questions. They look at this stranger and ask, “Are you the only one in Israel who doesn’t know what’s happened?” when the irony was Jesus was the only one in Israel who did know what had happened! And then after explaining everything, he broke a piece of bread and their eyes were opened. Then he was gone. They wanted to ask a few more questions, but instead they had to trust what they had received from him already.

Noah’s another fascinating character. Read his story again. Genesis 6 describes every detail of the ark: how high, how wide, what kind of wood, the whole blueprint. Take your family: your wife, your children, and their spouses. So Noah gets in, locks the door, and the flood is on. Notice that everything is described except for two vital details: there is no sail and no rudder. Imagine preparing to be on water for that many days with nothing to control the direction of the ship! The very two things he needed to have some control are missing. Just when you think you’ve got everything in control, you’ll find out you don’t.

It’s like the comical story I read about a very nervous elderly flier. It was her first flight and the aircraft was bouncing its way through “moderate” turbulence, which is a euphemism for the last rites and you wonder if even the pilot is still in his seat. The woman was panicking and began to scream. After they cleared the turbulence, the pilot stepped out of the cockpit and knelt beside her. He asked her, “Madam, do you see that light on the end of the right wingtip?”

“Yes,” she stammered.
“Now look out of the other window at the left wingtip. Do you see the light on the left wingtip?”
“Yes,” she replied.
“You know what, Ma’am,” the pilot continued, “as long as we stay between those two lights you have no reason to worry.”

In other words, the lights are a guide but they a self-referencing beacon. Such self-referencing guides are supposed to make us feel better, and we think that if only we were in control everything would be fine. The sail and the rudder. We want to control it all. I know a friend who is terrified of flying because he says he cannot handle anything in which he has no control. I did not want to offend him by saying, “Welcome to life.”

God says to us, “No, I am in control.” Remember the chapter on faith in Hebrews 11? Here’s what it says at the end: “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect” (verses 39-40). Even these great people of faith did not see the end of the story. But there was a mindset they had, and it is this: God has made it imperative in the design of life that we become willing to trust beyond ourselves. Walking by faith means to follow Someone else who knows more than we do, Someone who is also good. If you do not have the mind of faith you will be in peril repeatedly and the one who will get the blame will be God. This discipline of the mind is the necessary second step when we wrestle with our disappointments.

Ultimate Purpose

The third step is recognition of your ultimate purpose. You have to define what your ultimate purpose is. Pascal said in his famed Wager that you have to define life backwards and then live it forwards. He wrote, “For it is not to be doubted that the duration of this life is but a moment; that the state of death is eternal … [and] that it is impossible to take one step with sense and judgment, unless we regulate our course by the truth of that point which ought to be our ultimate end.” Where are you going, and what is your goal and destiny? On the basis of your answer, then, you plan the route accordingly.

I was asked to speak at the United Nations for their prayer breakfast for a second time, and they gave me a tougher subject than the first one. I was to speak on “Navigating with Absolutes in a Relativistic World”—at 6:30 in the morning! I was asked to do this in twenty-five minutes and given one other requirement: don’t talk much about religion because people from all faiths will be there. I said, “I’ll do it, but on one condition. Eighteen minutes, your talk; seven minutes, why my belief in God answers these questions.” I spoke on the search for absolutes in four areas: evil, justice, love, and forgiveness.

“We all want to define what evil is,” I said. “We have people here calling other nations evil. We all want to know what evil is. You’re a society that’s supposedly looking for justice. You’ve left your families, and you miss them because you love them. And some of you are going to blow it big time with ethics; you hope the rest of your peers are willing to forgive you, and you want to know on what basis. Evil, justice, love and forgiveness.”

They’re all nodding. I said, “I want you to think for a moment. Is there any event in history where these four converged in one place? It happened on a hill called Calvary, where evil, justice, love, and forgiveness converged.”

There was pin drop silence. With five minutes left, I spoke on the cross of Christ and how the cross shows the heart of man, how the cross came because of the justice of God, how the cross demonstrates to us the very love of God, and how we find at the end of the day that without his forgiveness we would never make it. At the end one ambassador confessed, “My country’s atheistic. I don’t even know why I came here. Today I have my answer. I came here to find God.” That is the power of the cross.

The hill of Calvary is at the very center point of the Gospel. All the suffering of the world converged there in that single act of sacrifice when the One who was without sin took the penalty of sin and accepted the ultimate in suffering—separation from his Father—so that we might be brought to Him. It was the lowest point of the incarnate Christ; he was separated from the Father while still in the center of the Father’s will. There the threads converged in a pattern that seemed so disparate from the world’s point of view, yet they were the crimson threads of our restoration to God. This was Jesus’ ultimate purpose: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

Through the Eyes of Jesus

There’s an incredible story told from Scotland. My wife and I were visiting there with our colleague Stuart McAllister. Stuart is from Scotland and I often joke with him about needing an interpreter when he speaks English because he has a rich Scottish accent. I asked Stuart to take us to Glencoe. In 1692 the Campbell clan was sent there by the king to eradicate the MacDonalds completely. The Campbells came to Glencoe posing as friends and then slaughtered the MacDonalds in the middle of the night. The story is immortalized by a song titled “The Massacre of Glencoe.”

Oh cruel is the snow that sweeps Glencoe,
and covers the graves o’Donald.
Oh cruel was the foe that raped Glencoe,
and murdered the house of MacDonald.
They came in a blizzard, we offered them heat,
a roof o’er their heads, dry shoes for their feet.
We wined them and dined them, they ate of our meat
and they slept in the house o’ MacDonald.
They came from Fort William with murder in mind.
The Campbells had orders, King William had signed.
“Put all to the sword,” these words underlined,
and leave none alive called MacDonald.
They came in the night while our men were asleep,
this band of Argyles, through snow soft and deep.
Like murdering foxes among helpless sheep,
they slaughtered the house o’ MacDonald.
Some died in their beds at the hand of the foe.
Some fled in the night and were lost in the snow.
Some lived to accuse him who struck the first blow,
but gone was the house o’ MacDonald.

What is fascinating about this historic incident is that three hundred years later it is still remembered in Scotland as if it were yesterday. As you arrive in Glencoe, a lone bagpiper slowly paces back and forth playing the haunting melody. The story is tragic and the song always leaves me heavy-hearted. But what is more, when Stuart spoke of the massacre, his Scottish accent and the mournful sounds of that distinctively Scottish instrument amid the ruins of the setting where it all occurred almost made me feel that I had been there when it happened.

It was three hundred years ago, but hear the bagpiper and the story unfolded with a Scottish voice, and the reality of the tragedy becomes even deeper for a stranger. If an accent, the location, and music can put the reality within reach even though we are separated by three centuries, how much more can we understand suffering when we see it through the eyes of the One who defines good and evil, justice and forgiveness, and who went to the cross to deal with it? Is that not the only way we can understand and cope with our own suffering? When you see the Son of God and he explains Calvary to you, you will understand it like you’ve never understood it before. You’ll hear it in his voice; you’ll see it in his body. He is the One who cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Yet again, at the very moment Jesus uttered that prayer, he was at the center of his Father’s will.

We must see our world of pain through the eyes of Jesus, who best understands it not merely as pain but as brokenness and separation. In the solitude of reflection, the heart and the mind come together to think of the cross. The hymnwriter said it well:

I sometimes think about the cross
And shut my eyes and try to see
The cruel nails and crown of thorns
And Jesus crucified for me.
But even could I see him die,
I could but see a little part
Of that great love, which, like a fire,
Is always burning in his heart.

I want you to understand that we have a Shepherd who leads us through, who takes care of us, and your disappointments do matter. How many times I’ve thanked God that I was not wired to kill. But you see, He wired me differently because he had something else in mind for me. Have there been some deep, deep valleys? You bet. But have I always sensed that He’s been with me and never doubted it.

You may have heard this commentary on Psalm 23:
“The Lord is my shepherd”: that’s relationship.
“I shall not want”: that’s supply.
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures”: that’s rest.
“He leads me beside still waters”: that’s refreshment.
“He restores my soul”: that’s healing.
“He guides me in the paths of righteousness”: that’s guidance.
“For his name’s sake”: that’s purpose.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”: that’s testing.
“I will fear no evil”: that’s protection.
“For you are with me”: that’s faithfulness.
“Your rod and your staff, they comfort me”: that’s discipline.
“You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies”: that’s hope.
“You anoint my head with oil”: that’s consecration.
“My cup overflows”: that’s abundance.
“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life”: that’s blessing.
“And I will dwell in the house of the Lord”: that’s security.

“Forever”: that’s eternity.

Your disappointments do matter because the Shepherd of your soul will put it all together for you and has an eternity for you to revel in the marvel of what God has done. Our Father holds the threads of the design, and I’m so immensely grateful that He is the Grand Weaver.

How the Gospel Can Transform a Marriage (via Justin Taylor)

Gary and Betsy Ricuchi, Love That Lasts: When Marriage Meets Grace (Crossway, 2006), pp. 22-23:

  • Because of the gospel, Christians have become new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). Therefore, in our marriage, our past does not define us, confine us, or determine our future.
  • Because of the gospel, we are forgiven (Ephesians 1:7). Therefore we can live free of all guilt and condemnation for every sin, and we can trust that God, in his mercy, will be gracious to us.
  • Because of the gospel, we can forgive, just as Christ forgave us (Ephesians 4:32). Nothing done against us compares to our sin against God. Therefore all offenses, hostility, and bitterness between Christians can be completely forgiven and removed.
  • Because of the gospel, we are accepted by God (Romans 15:7). Therefore we are not dependent on a spouse for who we are or what we need.
  • Because of the gospel, sin’s ruling power over us is broken (Romans 6:6, 14). Therefore we can truly obey all that God calls us to do in our marriage, regardless of any circumstance or situation.
  • Because of the gospel, we have access to God through Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16). Therefore we can at any time take any need in our marriage to the One who can do all things.
  • Because of the gospel, we have hope (Romans 5:1-4). Therefore we can endure any marital difficulty, hardship, or suffering, with the assurance that God is working all to our greatest good (Romans 8:28).
  • Because of the gospel, Christ dwells in us by his Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:13-14). Therefore we are confident that God is always with us and is always at work in our marriage, even when progress is imperceptible (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
  • Because of the gospel, we have power to fight and overcome remaining sin, which continues to dwell and war within us (Romans 7:19-21, 24-25; Galatians 5:16-17). This indwelling enemy represents the essence of what is called the doctrine of sin.

These are just a few of the ways the gospel can transform a marriage. Sometimes it’s not easy to live in the reality of these truths. But it is always possible—and not because of our strength or determination, but because of God’s empowering and enabling grace.

How the Gospel Can Transform a Marriage. (Gospel Coalition-Justin Taylor)

Previous Older Entries

Blogosfera Evanghelică

Vizite unicate din Martie 6,2011

free counters

Va multumim ca ne-ati vizitat azi!


România – LIVE webcams de la orase mari