Are You Wretched?

absolute-surrender“You will find that in this passage (Romans 7:6-25) the name of the Holy Spirit does not occur once, nor does the name of Christ occur. The man is wrestling and struggling to fulfill God’s law. Instead of the Holy Spirit and of Christ, the law is mentioned nearly twenty times. In this chapter, it shows a believer doing his very best to obey the law of God with his regenerate will. Not only this; but you will find the little words, I, me, my, occur more than forty times. This is the regenerate I in its impotence seeking to obey the law without being filled with the Spirit. This is the experience of almost every saint. …

“Blessed be God when a man learns to say: ‘O wretched man that I am!’ from the depth of his heart. He is on the way to the eighth chapter of Romans [Romans 8:1]. …

“God does not work by His spirit as He works by a blind force in nature. He leads His people as reasonable, intelligent beings, and therefore when He wants to give us that Holy Spirit Whom He has promised, He brings us first to the end of self, to the conviction that though we have been striving to obey the law, we have failed. When we come to the end of that, then He shows us that in the Holy Spirit we have the power of obedience, the power of victory, and the power of real holiness.” —Andrew Murray, in Absolute Surrender

Take Your Life Back (book review)

take-your-life-backStephen Arterburn and David Stoop say it’s quite simple—you are either living a reactive life or a responsive life. One keeps us trapped by our past or other people, and one sets us free to live life to the fullest. Arterburn and Stoop want you to Take Your Life Back.

Arterburn and Stoop vividly describe the childhood wounds and experiences that can lead to so many of us burying our real selves and living out of a reactive, false self that we believe others want to see. Then, using the imagery from the story of the Prodigal Son, they talk about how the younger son came home to address his concerns, and how the elder brother who never left home also had to come to grips with his woundedness.

To some extent or another, we all carry some sort of woundedness in our hearts—someone abused us, or let us down, or led us to believe that we weren’t valuable. The question now is: “Do I know my wound? Am I willing to admit to my wound? Am I willing to take the necessary steps toward healing and freedom?” Far too many people hide their wound and end up living restricted, reactive lives. But Arterburn and Stoop want to help lead you to confront your wound and take the necessary steps to live a free, responsive life.

Whether you have a wound in your life that you need to address, or you know someone close to you struggling with their woundedness, Take Your Life Back will be an invaluable resource. Stop letting your past or other people control and limit you, take your life back to live the abundant life God wants you to live!

I am a Tyndale book reviewer.

Jesus Is The All-Mighty One

light-and-truth-revelation“Yes, says the apostle [John], Jesus is mighty. Whatever appearances may say; whatever we might be tempted to infer from the power of the world and the weakness of the church; from the prevalence of evil and the scantiness of good; from the depression of His friends, and the elevation of His enemies—He is mighty—mighty in Himself, and in all things pertaining to Him.

“His Word is mighty; His gospel is mighty; His purposes are mighty; the arm with which He wields the world’s scepter, and holds satan’s bridle, is mighty. He is mighty over the world, and in the world; mighty over the church and in the church, and in behalf of the church; so mighty, that no weapon forged against her, or against one saint, shall prosper; so mighty, that she is entirely safe—secure in the midst of danger, and wiles, and power.

“All His strength is ours; it belongs to the Church; it belongs also to each member of His body. We are strong in the Lord.” —Horatius Bonar, in Light & Truth: Revelation

What If Jesus Had Been Physically Weak?

physical-healthWe have been exploring the whole health of Jesus, as Dr. Luke recorded it in Luke 2:52. In this verse Luke tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom (mental health), stature (physical health), in favor with God (spiritual health) and in favor with men (emotional/social health). Being unhealthy in any one of these areas will ultimately pull down the health in all of the areas.

The life of Jesus shows us that we, too, must strive to live wholly healthy lives.

Yesterday at Calvary Assembly of God, Scott asked a challenging question: “What if Jesus hadn’t been strong enough to make it to the top of Calvary’s hill?”

Think about the excruciating torture Jesus went through—

  • He was sleep deprived.
  • He was dehydrated from His intense prayer time in Gethsemane, where He sweat blood.
  • He was emotionally depleted from having all of His friends abandon and deny Him.
  • He was beaten multiple times by temple guards and Roman soldiers.
  • He was brutally whipped to the point that His back muscles and nerves were exposed.
  • He had thorns crushed into His scalp.
  • He had His beard ripped out.
  • He had to carry a 60- to 90-pound wooden crossbeam nearly 650 yards uphill.

All of this took place before He had metal spikes slammed through His wrists and ankles, and then was hoisted up rudely into the air to be suspended from His Cross.

Jesus went through all of that for you and me. In making it all the way to the point where He said, “It is finished,” He fulfilled every prophesy concerning His death.

The only way Jesus could have made it through this is if He was at optimal physical health.

If Jesus had died from exhaustion or heart attack or loss of blood before He was actually nailed to the Cross, how many of the prophesies would have been left unfinished? He needed to keep His physical body in tip-top shape throughout His entire earthly life in order to be ready for this one crucial moment.

Being physically weak makes it difficult for us to…

  • …think clearly (mental health)
  • …concentrate on the things of God (spiritual health)
  • …control our emotions and respond appropriately to other people (emotional/social health)

So we, like Jesus, must work on our physical health. God has a plan for your life. In order for you to fulfill all God has in mind, you must be wholly healthy. Are you taking care of your physical body? If you’re not, you are slowly robbing all of the other areas of your life of the strength they need.

If you’re not as physically healthy as you could be, what are you willing to do differently?

Check out this 3-minute clip where Scott asks us what physical health changes we’re willing to make for God’s glory…

Poetry Saturday—The Thought Of God

clouds-and-waterThe thought of God is like the tree 
Beneath whose shade I lie, 
And watch the fleet of snowy clouds 
Sail o’er the silent sky.

‘Tis like that soft, invading light 
Which in all darkness shines, 
The thread that through life’s sombre web 
In golden pattern twines. 

It is a thought which ever makes 
Life’s sweetest smiles from tears 
It is a daybreak to our hopes 
A sunset to our fears. 

One while it bids the tears to flow, 
Then wipes them from the eyes, 
Most often fills our soul with joy, 
And always sanctifies. 

Within a thought so great, our souls 
Little and modest grow, 
And, by its vastness awed, we learn 
The art of walking slow. —Frederick William Faber

A Solution to the Porn Epidemic

This was originally posted by Murray Vassar. It is an outstanding post that I wanted to share with you…

computerFor ten years I have been studying at Christian universities and seminaries, and I have found that pornography is rampant among my peers. The problem is so bad that Christian leaders have begun advising young women not to break up with their boyfriends over porn addiction. The logic is tragically compelling: if Christian women insist on only dating porn-free men, the odds are they will never get married.  

We are repeatedly told that the solution to porn addiction is accountability groups. Accountability groups may be helpful for some, but they have clearly been unable to halt the epidemic. Often, such groups merely end up normalizing porn use. 

Before we can find a true solution, we must identify the reason for the epidemic. Availability is not the primary problem. The primary problem is that deep down inside, perhaps even subconsciously, we do not think porn is really that bad. (I know many will object, but hear me out.)

You can break your addiction to pornography in one day. It only takes two steps: (1) go to your cell phone company and trade in your smart-phone for a regular phone, and (2) call your internet provider and cancel your service (or have your wife set a password only she knows). We do not do this for the simple reason that we do not hate pornography enough. If we really thought that viewing pornography was like drinking poison, we would do whatever it took to cut off access. 

At this point someone may object that his work or studies require home internet. Perhaps this is true for a small segment of the population. The vast majority, however, have access to computer labs at public or university libraries. Living without home internet would be inconvenient, but not impossible. Furthermore, for those few who absolutely require home internet, my point remains. If you truly thought that viewing pornography was like drinking poison, you would take whatever steps necessary to cut off access – even if those steps involved moving or changing jobs. 

Jesus said, “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you.” We are so quick to identify this saying as hyperbole that we ignore the point of the hyperbole. Jesus does not want you to literally cut out your eye, but that doesn’t mean you get to keep your smart-phone. 

So the problem is that we don’t hate porn enough. But why don’t we hate porn? What has happened? I think the answer is clear. I know few Christian men who would be comfortable saying it’s not a sin to go to a strip club. However, I know few Christian men who would be comfortable saying it is a sin to watch Deadpool, even though the film features a scene in a strip club. Through a series of infinite compromises over a span of decades, we have convinced ourselves that there is a fundamental difference between viewing a naked woman in person and viewing a video recording of that same naked woman. On-screen depictions of nudity and sexuality have become so trivial that we simply cannot muster up genuine hatred when we take that infinitesimally small step from Game of Thrones to ‘real pornography.’  

So what is the solution? We need to ask God to fill us with his hatred for an industry which degrades and destroys the most vulnerable members of our society. Then, in the power of the Spirit, we need to pluck out our modem and cast it from us.

Pornography: Let’s #Endit

Today is the day the End It Movement is shining a light on the dark slave trading and human trafficking practices around the globe. One of the biggest things fueling slavery is when people click on pornography.

NOT COOL!

ftnd-facts-on-trafficking“However harmless or private pornography may seem, it is not.

  • Pornography blinds us to God (Matthew 5:8). It blurs our eyes to his goodness, truth, and beauty.
  • Pornography trains us to treat women as objects, as less than human. It portrays them as possessions to be used and enjoyed, and then thrown away.
  • Pornography fuels sex slavery—real people held against their will and raped repeatedly—all over the world, even in the United States, even in your city or the major city near you.
  • Pornography belittles real beauty—like the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 31:30)—and replaces it with a cheap and fading imitation.
  • Pornography makes sex small and momentary, like a cigarette, instead of massive and lifelong, like it is in marriage.
  • Pornography robs us of some of the delight we might have had with our spouse. It keeps us from experiencing and enjoying them and their bodies without a fog of images from our past.
  • Pornography quickly bankrupts trust in a relationship. It encourages us to lie and hide from others, to walk in darkness and then build walls around ourselves in the darkness.
  • Pornography grossly stunts our maturity, the development of our mind and our gifts—our abilities to understand God and love others.
  • Pornography pursues an undergraduate degree in selfishness, training us over and over to focus on ourselves, prefer ourselves, and serve ourselves.
  • Pornography keeps us from all kinds of ministry, disqualifying many and demotivating even more.
  • Pornography is teaching many children an awful, evil distortion of love and sex even before their parents explain the truth to them.” —Marshall Segal

We can make a huge step toward helping to #ENDIT if we can convince others of the damage pornography is doing to themselves, as well as to countless sex slaves around the world.

Thursdays With Oswald—You Don’t Have To Get Worn Out By Sin

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

You Don’t Have To Get Worn Out By Sin

     To begin with we are not prepared to accept Jesus Christ’s diagnosis of the human heart, we prefer to trust our own ignorant innocence. Jesus Christ says, “Out of the heart proceed fornication, adultery, murder, lasciviousness, thieving, lying,” etc. (Mark 7:21-23). No man has ever believed that. We have not the remotest conception that what Jesus says about the human heart is true until we come up against something further on in our lives. We are apt to be indignant and say—“I don’t believe those things are in my heart,” and we refuse the diagnosis of the only Master there is of the human heart. We need never know the plague of our own heart and the terrible possibilities in human life if we will hand ourselves over to Jesus Christ; but if we stand on our own right and wisdom at any second an eruption may occur in our personal lives, and we may discover to our unutterable horror that we can be murderers, etc. … 

     Many a man out of havoc and sin and the clanging of the gates of Paradise on the irreparable past, has come to Jesus Christ with a life exhausted by sin. Why should he? We know what Jesus Christ can do for a man in that condition, but why cannot we see what He can do for the man who is not exhausted by sin? God does rescue the man who is down and out in sin, but there is no reason why any man should get there.

From Shade Of His Hand

In this book, Oswald Chambers is walking us through Solomon’s thoughts in Ecclesiastes. Solomon went to the highest of human ecstasies and lowest of human depravity to discover one thing: Nothing apart from a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ has any meaning at all.

If you have been worn out by sin, come to Jesus and find relief.

But don’t ever, ever, EVER feel like sinning is unavoidable, or that you have to have a “history” in order for God to forgive you. Come to Jesus before sin wears you out, and know the freedom of living a life victorious over sin!

In It To End It

download-end-it-logoSlavery is illegal in every single country of the world, and yet slavery still exists in 167 nations today! One-in-five of those in slavery is under the age of 18, and 55 percent of those trapped in slavery are women.

NOT COOL! 

One of the biggest industries fueling human trafficking and human slavery is the pornography industry. Every time you click on a porn link, you are helping to keep someone in bondage. Those clicks mean money in the pockets of those who peddle in human flesh, so they do whatever they can to keep you clicking and viewing.

Think about this—Your porn viewing is keeping someone’s daughter or son in slavery! 

Thursday, February 23, is the day the End It Movement wants us all to shine a bright light on the vile practices of those slave-holders who are keeping people in bondage all over the globe.

What can you do?

  1. FullSizeRender 2Wear your bright red X tomorrow, and share it for the world to see. Use hashtag #endit to let slave traders know you are on to them.
  2. Pray for those held in slavery and traffickedRemember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies (Hebrews 13:3).
  3. Support groups like The End It Movement or International Justice Mission who are working to free slaves around the globe.
  4. Stop viewing pornography!

I am in it to #endit in my generation! Will you join me?

The Gift Of Fanny Crosby

 

Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard ### FREE Community Edition ### on 2016-02-09 20:53:56Z | http://piczard.com | http://codecarvings.com“The hymns To God Be the Glory, Blessed Assurance, All the Way My Savior Leads Me, and He Hideth My Soul remind us that it’s never too late to begin serving Christ. Some people start as children, others as teens or young adults. But Moses was 80 when God commissioned him, and Paul was middle-aged. So was Fanny Crosby, author of the above hymns.

“Fanny was born in a cottage in South East, New York, in 1820. Six weeks later, she caught a cold in her eyes, and a visiting doctor prescribed mustard poultices, leaving her virtually blind for life. Growing into childhood, she determined to make the best of it, writing at age eight:

O what a happy soul I am!
Although I cannot see, 
I am resolved that in this world contented I will be.

“Fanny spent many years in New York’s Institution for the Blind, first as a student, then as a teacher and writer-in-residence. Her career flourished; her fame swelled. She recited her poems before Congress and became friends with the most powerful people in America, including presidents. But not until 1851 did Fanny meet her greatest friend, the Lord Jesus. While attending a revival meeting at John Street Methodist Church in New York, she later recalled, a prayer was offered, and ‘they began to sing the grand old consecration hymn, “Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed?” and when they reached the line, “Here, Lord, I give myself away,” my very soul was flooded with celestial light.’

“Fourteen years later she met the hymnist William Bradbury, who told her, ‘Fanny, I thank God we have met, for I think you can write hymns.’ Bradbury suggested an idea for a song he needed, and on February 5, 1864, Fanny Crosby, seizing his idea, wrote:

We are going, we are going
To a home beyond the skies
Where the fields are robed in beauty
And the sunlight never dies.

“It was her first hymn, and she was 44. But by the time she reached her ‘home beyond the skies’ 50 years later, she had written 8,000 more.” —From On This Day

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