How Do I Let Go of Anger over Past Wrongs?

John Piper
Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Audio Transcript

Recently, I mentioned John Piper’s massive sermon series on Romans called “The Greatest Letter Ever Written” — 225 sermons in length, which took him 8 years and 8 months to complete. In that earlier episode, I played a clip from an early sermon from this Romans series. Today I want to fast-forward seven years and play for you another clip from the series. This one is from February 20, 2005, a sermon titled “Do Not Avenge Yourselves, but Give Place to Wrath.” It’s a sermon on Romans 12:16–20, specifically verse 19, where Paul writes, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’” So how does faith in the future, vindicating justice of God settle us and stabilize us and make it possible for us to live with sanity in a world that will cut us deeply? Pastor John explains.

“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for” — this is the ground, the basis; this is the way you’re able to do it — “it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay’” (Romans 12:19).

Now, here’s what that implies: that little word for implies that one of the motivations in our hearts for why we can’t return good for evil; one of the motivations for why it’s so hard not to strike back, not to plan vengeance; one of the reasons it’s so hard is because deep down in our souls, there’s this warranted, justified desire that justice be done. And it doesn’t look like it’s going to be done if I just say, “Okay, I won’t count it anymore; I won’t think about it anymore; I won’t seethe with it anymore; I won’t hold a grudge anymore.” We feel like, “If I do that, nobody knows except me how bad that was.” That’s unbelief talking. God knows.

Justice for All

How does it work? Is this saying, “Oh, I get it: if you want to get your enemy, let God get him”? And you kind of rub your hands together, gleefully hoping that as you give the cup of water God will strike him with lightning? I don’t think so. Because listen to Proverbs 24:17–18:

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,
lest the Lord see it and be displeased,
and turn away his anger from him.

“If you lay down your rage, your anger, it doesn’t get lost; God picks it up.”

No, the way it works is this: All of you in this room — all of you — have been wronged in your life. Nobody has not been wronged. And many of you — let’s reduce it down a little bit now — many of you have been seriously wronged by people who have never apologized, nor done anything sufficient to make it right. And one of the deep hindrances to your letting hurt and bitterness go is the conviction that if you let it go, justice isn’t going to be done. And justice ought to be done.

“The fabric of the universe is going to unravel if I just treat this person like I treat everybody else, or even better than I treat everybody else. He’s got everybody deceived. Everybody thinks he’s a good guy. He’s a jerk, and nobody knows about it. He’s getting away with it. He’s getting away with it!” It’s one of the hindrances to forgiveness: we just can’t let it go.

That’s not the only problem we have in forgiving, but I’m just dealing with one here. We can’t do that: we can’t let this go, this wrong that we’ve been done. We hold on to the anger. We play the story in our mind over and over again: “It never should have happened. It never should have happened. It was so wrong. It was so wrong. And he’s just happy as can be, and I’m in misery.” I’m thinking about a divorce: “He’s got that young chick! The kids like going there for Christmas. I’ve got debts galore.”

Love Grows Where Burdens Lift

This text is for you, all you who are carrying a seemingly legitimate grudge. You were wronged — massively wronged. Justice ought to mean the death of the other person. It ought to mean that. You feel that to let it go, to lay it down, would mean there’s no justice, or that he’s going to get away with it, or that there’s no vengeance in the world. And you’re wrong. This text is in the Bible for you, so that when you walk out of here, you can lay it down and know God’s going to pick it up. If you lay down your rage, your anger, your playing it over and over again in your head, if you lay that down, it doesn’t get lost; God picks it up. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” “Let me take care of it.” That’s huge.

Oh, how I want you, Bethlehem, to enjoy this liberty. Because you know what? In the liberty of a laid-down grudge, love can happen. You’ve been wondering, “Why can’t I love? Why I can’t I love? Why can’t I love like I ought to love? There seems to be a blockage to my love.” And one of the answers is that you just keep holding on to that wrong. You might even be making God the whipping boy, or a husband or a son or a business partner or an old boyfriend who just picked you up and dropped you like a stone — got you pregnant.

There are a hundred pains in this room of injustice that was done to you, and you can lay it down because God’s going to take it up. And as you lay it down, you can walk out of here with a huge burden lifted. And in that freedom, love can happen.

Together in Heaven

Let me close with a testimony, my testimony. In 1974, as many of you know, my mother was killed in Israel. And as I’ve pieced the story together from those who were there, she and my dad were in a bus, sitting in the first seat behind the driver, and a VW minivan full of drunken Israeli soldiers, with lumber on top, loosely tied, swerved out of their lane and hit the bus on the front corner. And the lumber came through like missiles. And ten days later, when she was flown back to Atlanta from Tel Aviv, and I read the death certificate, it said “lacerated medulla oblongata.” And I said, “Thank you at least that it was quick.”

I nursed my dad back to health for a month, taping with Scotch tape the lacerations on his back, pouring in hydrogen peroxide, pushing the wounds together, taping them with Scotch tape so they’d heal from the inside out. If you knew, as some of you do, the nature of my growing up years, with my dad away and my mom doing everything, you would know how big that loss was at age 28. But as a tribute to the mighty mercy of God, I can bear witness that I don’t hate those soldiers. I feel no hatred for them. I don’t wish them evil.

It occurred to me as I was thinking recently that most of them are probably about my age now. One was killed, I heard. Most of them are about my age, a little younger — maybe five years younger. I was trying to compute: I was 28, they were soldiers, so they were probably in their mid-twenties. So, they are now in their fifties, somewhere in Israel today. And it occurred to me that the gospel might reach them, and that they would be with me in heaven. And how do I feel about that? I feel really good about that. They would be with my mom in heaven, with me in heaven.

“God, if there is some vengeance to be done there, I just hand it over to you.”

How do you feel about your adversaries? You know, if Christ got to them and saved them, they’d be with you forever. Are you relating to them now in a way that would make it hard to relate to them then? That’s not a good idea. It’s going to be so embarrassing to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and then say, “You? I don’t like you. I’ve been mad at you all my life.” That’s not a good idea. You should be praying that God would save them.

Give Away Every Grudge

So, I commend to you — as one who has lived since 28 not carrying that grudge — I commend to you this life. It is a free and wonderful life. And in the life of freedom, you say, “God, if there is some vengeance to be done there, I just hand it over to you. And if there’s salvation to be done there, I pray that you would do it. May the gospel reach these men, who, in their drunkenness, caused my mother’s death at age 28, so that she only knew one of my five children.”

Father, on this Lord’s Day morning, I ask that burdens would be lifted. I pray that you would take this amazing promise, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” and let every person in the hearing of my voice lay down every grudge, rage, anger, bitterness, resentment, story going through their head over and over — “It shouldn’t have been that way, it shouldn’t have been that way. It was wrong, it was wrong.” May they lay it down.

And would you give wonderful liberty? And in that field of liberty, would you cause great love to grow, so that we, from the heart, can give a cup of cold water to our adversary, in the hope that our light would cause them to glorify our Father who is in heaven? I pray in Jesus’s name, amen.

Transformed in Truth and Love

 

Good News Club is filled with activity, busy hearts and minds receiving the eternal seed of God. This month, we have been sharing aspects of the early Church with our club kids, and watching what Holy Spirit does best. We have the privilege of witnessing heartwarming, life transformation in our sweet first-graders.

“Darren,” came to us this month with pent-up anger and frustration. He has lots to say, but isn’t allowed to speak much at home; which hurts and upsets him. He spends a lot of time being sent to his room, and told to stop talking. (My sister was like this growing up, so I understand). At the beginning of the month, when Darren became frustrated, he would pull his shirt over his head and slump down, disregarding anything that was said.

Darren is intelligent and personable, but because he’s been stifled in communication, he has a tendency to “make the most” of his opportunities to speak. He asks good questions, and along with our acknowledgment of this, and our consideration in replies to his questions, we have seen him settle.

Once children know they are valued and heard, Holy Spirit brings understanding and appreciation for God, His Word, and relationship with the Godhead, Hallelujah! Darren has gone from feeling out of control, and like he couldn’t measure up, (raising his hand every few moments, and pulling his shirt over his head), to a child that experiences God’s peace and love. He enjoys being with the other kids at club, and has wonderful leadership abilities. Above all, he is learning how much God loves him!

Meme_ Acceptance Belonging_ Victoria Borodinova
Photo by Victoria Borodinova

When our identity is wrapped first in the foundation of God’s love, we begin to live a life of purpose and fulfillment. We become transformed in truth and love, which produces a heart to serve and love those around us. As for Darren, in our last club meeting, he announced to me before the missionary story that he was going to follow the rules so he could have a good day, and you know what? He did.

If you have children in your life in any capacity, I hope this testimony encourages you to hang in there:

  • When we remain calm and provide understanding for God’s Word, rules, and other important information, we give children the opportunity to apply what they are learning.
  • We instruct our kids (sometimes at the beginning of each activity) with our “Up Rules” Sit Up, Look Up, Listen Up, Hand Up, Zip Up. When you have a “Darren” who likes to keep raising their hand, just let them know you will get back to them, then they won’t worry about being heard; which frees them up to listen.

We all want to be accepted, loved, and to belong; and when these things are available to us, we respond (or at least begin to) in kind. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” I Peter 4:8 NIV. And love frees us up to be the best version of who God created us.

Blessings,

Jacquie ♥

Transformed in Truth and Love

 

New Spring Church turns campuses into blood donation centers during COVID-19 pandemic

By Samuel Smith, CP Reporter

The South Carolina megachurch NewSpring Church is hosting blood drives at its campuses across the state through a partnership with a local nonprofit that has issued an urgent call for blood donations amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The church is now partnering with The Blood Connection to convert its campuses into temporary donation centers that will allow donors to maintain a safe distance from other donors during the blood donation process.

In a Facebook post published Wednesday, NewSpring told its congregants that donating blood is “one way to help hospitals and serve those in need.”

“Blood donations provide hospital patients with essential treatments and transfusions,” the church’s post explains. “Your donation could be life-saving for many patients during this pandemic. So starting this week, NewSpring will host blood drives at campuses across the state.”

The Blood Connection, a South Carolina-based nonprofit, is an independent community blood center that provides blood products to more than 70 hospitals serving hundreds of thousands of patients across Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

NewSpring was founded by Perry Noble, its former pastor, over 20 years ago and now consists of 14 campuses lead by a team of lead pastors.

The partnership between the church and nonprofit comes as U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued an urgent call last month for Americans to donate blood. Due to stay-at-home orders nationwide, thousands of blood drives across the U.S. have been canceled in recent weeks.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, respiratory viruses like COVID-19 are not known to be transmitted through blood transfusion and there have been no reported cases of transfusion-transmitted coronavirus.

Blood drives at NewSpring began on Thursday at the church’s main campus in Anderson.

Other blood drives were held at NewSpring’s campuses in Powerdersville and Clemson on Friday, while two more are scheduled to take place on at NewSpring Spartanburg and NewSpring Greenwood on Saturday.

On April 30, NewSpring campuses in Aiken and Charleston will host blood drives, while campuses in Columbia, Myrtle Beach, and Rock Hill will host blood drives on May 1.

On May 2, the drives will be held at NewSpring campuses in Florence and Greenville.

Most of the NewSpring blood drives run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., while some run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. A schedule of the blood drives can be found here.

To give blood, donors must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health while not taking any antibiotics.

“Although it may feel like there isn’t much that people can do to fight COVID-19, donating blood is one way to help hospitals and serve those in need locally,” a statement from NewSpring Church sent to media outlets reads. “Blood donations provide patients with essential treatments, surgeries, and transfusions. Because The Blood Connection supplies blood products for local hospitals, donors are making a positive, community impact.”

People in other parts of the United States looking to donate blood can find a local blood drive through The Red Cross, which is also seeking plasma donations for researchers studying whether antibodies from COVID-19 survivors can be used to treat patients.

The Red Cross has enacted new measures like the spacing of beds and social distancing practices at donation centers to ensure safety to donors and staff during the coronavirus outbreak.

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

or Facebook: SamuelSmithCP

https://www.christianpost.com/news/new-spring-church-opens-campuses-for-use-as-blood-donation-centers-during-covid19-pandemic.html

Wise As Serpents, Gentle As Doves

Mar 20, 2020

The other day I was talking to my brother on the phone while I was driving home from work and he asked me, “If everyone who got the coronavirus turned into a zombie, would you rather face The Walking Dead style zombies or the I Am Legend style zombies?”

Yep. Here we are. End of the world. I hope you have your toilet paper. Listen, I was half way through writing on a different topic entirely for the blog. Then the coronavirus hysteria got real. I knew instantly I had to change the topic, and not just to be trendy.

I am only 26, and I am aware that I do not have near the experience as most men and fathers have with worrisome situations. In fact, this would be my first real “national panic” as a father. Right now I am father to my sweet 1 ½ year old girl, Ellie and husband to my beautiful wife, Cheyenne (who has kid number two in the oven right now). However, in my short 26 years I do remember the scares of things like SARS, Swine flu, Ebola and Zika. Not to mention the Mayan world ending prediction in 2012 or the North Korean threats, all of which came and went without the world ending.

There is no doubt we are living in times of turmoil, and I am in no way attempting to minimize the severity of the current situation, especially as it pertains to the loss of lives and loved ones. Once again, I am young and have zero medical expertise. However, I do know this; no man has ever led his family effectively from a place of fear, nor of ignorance.

My dad, who is also my pastor (where all my PK’s at?!), has always stressed the importance of balance in life and leadership. Being plunged into fear will get our families nowhere, and ignoring sound evidence and warnings will put us in harm and leave us behind.

We must not be fooled; there is a difference between discernment and fear, and there is a difference between courage and ignorance. Men leading their homes must learn the difference.

What I’m getting at is, that during times of crisis and, in this case, pandemics, men must lead their homes with discernment and wisdom, accompanied by action and preparedness.

As men and women who follow Jesus, we should not be consumed with fear. The media is projecting a very grim picture to us of what is to come, and many people are falling for it. Hence why you can’t find toilet paper anywhere! On the other end of the spectrum though, I know many who are intentionally turning a blind eye to the entire situation. For them, well, they will need some of that toilet paper to wipe some “you know what” off the fans. The bottom line is this; we shouldn’t be afraid, especially as those who follow Jesus, but we should be prepared for every situation.

The scripture that comes to mind as I contemplate this season is Matthew 10:16. “…Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves.” This is the balance we need now; wise as serpents, gentle as doves.

To be wise as serpents. What does that look like?

A wise man prepares for the worst and hopes for the best.
In Genesis 41 we read the story of Joseph, already gone through the trials set by God- the pit, slavery and prison- and now to a new mission. Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dream of the seven years of plenty and seven years of famine, and is placed with the responsibility of preparing for this harsh reality to come. God granted Joseph as his child and as a leader to interpret the times and prepare for the future. As followers of Jesus and as leaders of our home, God gives us this same discernment and guidance if we will seek his wisdom and listen for his voice. I cannot stress enough how vital it is for the health and safety of our families that we must pray and listen for God’s voice and guidance. God speaks, we must listen and prepare accordingly. Having a plan in place to prepare for “the famine”, or pandemic, or whatever else, is being wise as serpents.

Gentle as doves

In all this chaos, we as Christians are truly being handed a gift. We are being handed an incredible opportunity to extend compassion and to evangelize via generosity like never before. When others are paralyzed by fear, we can extend our peace we have in our assurance in Christ Jesus. When the world looks to hoard food and resources, we get to show generosity like Jesus showed us. While people are feeling mortal and vulnerable to sickness, we can show them the eternal joy and life we have found. When the world feels dark, we can shine brightly as the city on a hill! We must take advantage of every opportunity. Not to be the loudest or the pushiest, but to be the most generous and compassionate, and they will know we are Christians by our love. Matthew 5:40, “If a man asks you of your shirt, give him your coat also.” To edit that for our scenario presently, “If a man asks for your Purell, give him your Lysol also.”

As wild as these days are, with new information being thrown at us every day, we are assured, our God doesn’t change. He is the same yesterday, today and forevermore. He saw this one coming, and he isn’t shocked. We have the Holy Spirit to give us both the discernment to guide us, and the grace to walk in compassion. Brothers and sisters, He’s got this, be at peace. God Bless.

Justin Capozzi
Guest Discerning Dad

Guest- Justin Capozzi- Wise as serpents, gentle as doves

God’s Unimpeachable Sovereignty

God’s Unimpeachable Sovereignty

by John MacArthur, April 6, 2020

Few chapters in the Bible elicit as much controversy as Romans 9. The subject matter of God choosing to redeem one person over another—based solely on His sovereign choice—is an absolute affront to most modern sensibilities of fairness and justice. But the apostle Paul wasn’t bothered by those objections. In fact, he used the truth of God’s sovereignty to repudiate them and reaffirm God’s unimpeachable justice and righteousness.

Paul had a passion for the salvation of sinners, and it was particularly strong for the Jews—after all, they were his people. So in Romans 9 he starts by saying, “I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart” (Romans 9:1–2). What troubled Paul? He explains, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:3). Paul’s heart breaks for lost Jews such that he would wish himself out of fellowship with Christ for the sake of winning their salvation. That’s an evangelistic zeal most of us know nothing about. He expresses the same impassioned longing a chapter later: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation” (Romans 10:1). Everything in Romans 9 is sandwiched between those earnest expressions of deep desire for the salvation of his fellow Israelites.

Israel’s spiritual waywardness and unbelief fired up Paul’s heart. The Jews had been given the adoption as sons, the glory, the covenants, the Law, the Temple, and all the blessings and promises of being God’s people. They descended from the fathers—the very line of Christ. But they had rejected all that and more, forfeiting their spiritual inheritance and inviting God’s wrath. And Paul desperately wanted to see them saved. He is literally begging God for the salvation of sinners. And that evangelistic zeal drove him all the way to Rome, where he was ultimately beheaded for the faith.

Paul knew what is essential for sinners to be saved. First, he explains that it requires divine sovereignty—he recognized that salvation is a divine work. In Romans 9:6, Paul indicates some believed that God’s plans had failed. But the Word of God has not failed in the unbelief of Israel, and here’s why: “For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel” (Romans 9:6). God never intended to save all of Israel—He has always been selective. Paul explains that the blessing did not extend equally to all of Abraham’s offspring—that it came through Isaac, then Jacob. God never made a secret that this was part of His divine plan: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Romans 9:13).

Paul anticipates the possible objection to God’s selectivity, and heads it off. “What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!” (Romans 9:14). That final phrase, mē genoito, is the strongest negative in the Greek language. Paul is saying “No, never, not at all.” He goes on, “For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy” (Romans 9:15–16). The Lord’s gracious choice of certain people unto eternal life is just that—His choice. It’s not based on human merit or exertion. To further illustrate God’s discriminatory practices, Paul looks all the way back to Pharaoh:

For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. (Romans 9:17–18)

Again, Paul knows our natural inclination is to object on the basis of so-called fairness. In verse 19 he raises the objection for us: “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?’” How can God find fault with us if He’s the one who makes the decision? How can He harden Pharaoh’s heart, then hold him responsible for the actions of a hard heart?

Paul answers those gripes by essentially telling us, in his own vernacular, to shut up:

On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? (Romans 9:20–22)

As the potter, God exercises ultimate and unquestioned authority over us, the clay.

Now, bear in mind also that God exercises His sovereignty without doing any violence to the will of the creature. Pharaoh was guilty because he himself was in willful rebellion against God. God did not overrule any desire or inclination of Pharaoh in order to harden the evil ruler’s heart. The hardening of Pharaoh’s heart was not done against Pharaoh’s own will.

Still, this passage in Romans 9 is perhaps the strongest statement of divine sovereignty in the New Testament. We must understand that God has the right to put His wrath and His justice on display for His glory just as much as He has the right to put His mercy and His grace on display. Obviously, we prefer the glory He receives from His grace, but He gets just as much glory from His wrath. It is simply not up to us to determine how God displays His glory. Paul understands that salvation is a sovereign work and that God is not unjust, and nothing here contradicts the truth of Psalm 119:142, which says, “Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness.” God will do what God will do, and it will always be righteous and just.

(Adapted from None Other)

https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B200406

A Wonderful But Difficult Challenge

Looking back, few grandparents will say that being a parent was easy. Many, however, will say that parenting has been and continues to be one of the most rewarding experiences of their life.

Others have said that knowing what they know now, they wouldn’t have children again. Some well-known surveys have shown that parental disillusionment is fairly widespread. Newspaper columns and radio and television talk programs continue to show that there’s probably more than a smile behind the following bumper stickers:

  • HAPPINESS IS SPENDING YOUR CHILDREN’S INHERITANCE BEFORE THEY DO.
  • SUCCESS AS A PARENT IS LIVING LONG ENOUGH TO BE A PROBLEM TO YOUR CHILDREN.

Behind the humor there is heartbreak, sleepless nights, and broken dreams.

The tough part of this subject for any parent is that our children are so close to our hearts. Many of us will quickly acknowledge that nothing is as important as our children. More than a few moms and dads will say that nothing else matters if their children are not happy. Nothing else matters if a son or daughter is sick, or hurt, or afraid.

Much of this parental concern is healthy. It goes with the territory of loving enough to care about your children. At some point, however, the care can also become unhealthy. At some point the worry over a difficult child can become consuming—and a warning of a lost perspective.

Marks Of A Lost Perspective.
Although all mothers and fathers experience moments of parental frustration and anger, many have said they’d be willing to do anything to assure their children’s happiness. It’s not uncommon for parents to wish they could give their own lives for the sake of their child. These are often well-meant expressions of love, and go with the territory of being a mom or dad.

At some point, though, perspective can be lost. Although the concern and heartbreak is understandable, it’s not healthy when a troubled parent lives with the following convictions:

It Wasn’t Supposed To Be This Way. All too often, parents idealize what it means to be a good mom or dad. Many of us have unrealistic expectations of the parenting process. We assume that if we are good parents we will have good children—now. Such hopes and assurances are not what wise and loving parenting is all about.

Nothing Else Is Important. It is possible not only to idealize the process of parenting, but also to idolize our children. As important as our sons and
daughters are, they are not all-important. We cannot allow them to become the consuming focus of our lives. We cannot afford to let our children’s immature choices come between our relationship with our spouse, or our own Father in heaven.

Our Children’s Problems Reflect Our Mistakes. While we all bequeath to our children our own human nature, it is unwise to assume that our children’s problems are always in proportion to our own mistakes.

In the Old Testament story of Job, a troubled man’s three friends wrongly assumed that what had happened to Job and his children was the result of Job’s own sin. His friends understood the moral principle that “what we plant, we harvest.” But they were wrong in assuming that the problems that came on Job’s family were in proportion to Job’s sin.

If, in our concern for our children, we become aware of our own wrongs, we can do nothing better than to admit our failures and commit to change. But it would be a mistake to think that when we change our ways our children will change as well.

All Hope Is Lost. The experience of Job helps us in another way. In time, he learned that his moments of darkness and despair did not write the last chapter of his life. In time, the God who had been so silent—for His own reasons—did speak. And He spoke with great affection.

Does The Bible Promise Good Results?
One of the most quoted parenting principles of the Bible is found in Proverbs 22:6. There Solomon, the wise King of Israel said, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” In the Hebrew language this literally says that if you train up (initiate, imbue, consecrate, or dedicate) a child in his own way (with regard for his own temperament and individual needs at each stage of growth or development), when he is old (from a word that meant “bearded” or “mature”) he will not depart from it.

Some take this as a promise. Others believe it is a general rule of wisdom that expresses the amount of influence a parent has on an impressionable child. There is some truth in each view. At the very least, this proverb reflects that if you give a child a good beginning by training him in a manner appropriate to his own distinct needs, then the positive influence of this early training will remain with him for the rest of his life. He will never be able to get away from what the parent has impressed on him. That doesn’t mean the adult child will always comply with his parents’ influence, but he will carry the memory of their training with him until the day he dies.

Overall, the Bible shows that a mature approach to parenting will follow the example of our heavenly Father. He loved as no other parent has ever loved, while also giving His children enough room to make their own choices and mistakes.

 

Original here

A Stone, a Virus, and a Drop of Blood

MARCH 19, 2020 BY JOE RODRIGUEZ

Yes, of course, this post was inspired by the current coronavirus pandemic. Besides the hundreds of memes, videos, articles, and reports that have and will continue to surface on this topic, you can rest assured that many more blog posts and even sermons will also. So, with that in mind, what do you think the three items in the title all have in common? For one, they are all agents of death in spite of their size.

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A STONE
Approximately 3,000 years ago, a lowly shepherd boy named David stepped up to the plate to defend a hopeless and fearful army against a menacing enemy named Goliath (1 Samuel 17). Compared to his opponent, David was not only small in height but young and seemingly inexperienced in combat. No one thought he could fight let alone defeat a 6′ 9″ Philistine warrior. Yet David was anything but immature and unprepared. He packed a powerful weapon that consisted of a slingshot and a small smooth stone. Ballistically speaking, the stopping power of the stone fired from David’s sling was similar to that of a (.45 caliber) shotgun. The mighty Goliath did not stand a chance against the kid who was not only well-armed but whose confidence and faith came from the God of Israel. With just one little stone, David effortlessly killed the “giant” that had kept over 2,000 trained soldiers emotionally and physically immobilized for 40 days!

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A VIRUS
By now, almost everyone on this planet (young and old) knows what a virus is and what it can do. A virus would look like a grain of sand in the midst of the Sahara desert if compared to David’s little brookside stone. Yet this microscopic agent can pack a punch so powerful that it can paralyze not only an army but an entire nation(s)! We have come a long way in the detection and treatment of virus-related diseases. Thanks to modern technology and medicine, we have been able to greatly reduced the fatality rate associated with these deadly microorganisms. But as we are experiencing right now, they can either mutate or be engineered in a way that they can create new unexpected global havoc.

Drop of blood with the reflection of the cross

A DROP OF BLOOD
Blood, the lifeline of humanity. Among other benefits, blood is necessary to supply oxygen to tissues, carry nutrients, remove waste, and fight infection. So, how can something so precious to life also be considered an agent of death? The fact that pathogens are also bloodborne is reason enough, but there is one more deadly thing that blood can do that is far more powerful than a bullet-like stone in the hands of an expert hunter or a killer virus like COVID-19. And I am not referring to just any blood, but the blood of Jesus in particular.  Just one drop of the sinless blood shed on Calvary’s cross can eradicate the spiritual effects of sin, which are far worse than any disease or even natural death, for the entire human race!

We all fight battles every day. No matter what our social, economic, physical, or even spiritual status may be, we face situations that will either make us or break us. Yet every challenge in life is an opportunity to grow stronger in character and faith. But in order to do that, we will have to fight against and put to death many things in our lives like pride, stubbornness, jealousy, resentment, unforgiveness, apathy, complacency, self-righteousness, and other life-controlling issues. Thank God we do not have to do this alone. We can accomplish it with the help of Him who shed his blood to forgive us, heal us, and save us! Confess the blood of Jesus over your life, your family, and all whom you hold dear.

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“For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. 19-It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” 1 Peter 1:18-19

“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. “ (Romans 5:9)

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7)

“But he was pierced because of our rebellion, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on him, and we are healed by his wounds.” (Isaiah 53:5)

“David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.’” – 1 Samuel 17:45

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A Stone, a Virus, and a Drop of Blood

A University President’s Message

MARCH 19, 2020 BY FRANCES ROGERS

Jerry received his degree in Industrial Engineering on December 15, 1961, from Auburn University. The following excerpts are from the President’s message, one you would not hear from a secular institution, today. We see how far we have come from the foundation of our nation and its institutions of higher education.We pray the Lord would bring us back to our humble beginnings.

“”””””””””””””””””

“My dear Friends,

You have completed your work for the degree in a time of the tremendous expansion of knowledge and in the midst of a world ferment of exploration of all the areas of thought.

I have the distinct feeling that the impact of new knowledge, which is producing so much of change is also reflected in changing outlooks among governments. I believe that you will live to see the effects of these forces also in the individual attitudes and beliefs of men.

We of the Western World have been conditioned in our thought and our morality largely through the beneficent influence of the Christian ethic. Although as individuals and as a nation, we have departed often from this ideal in individual acts, over the years and in the long view, we have been generally governed thereby. I would hope that the growth of knowledge, with the attendant dislocations which harass the world today, may serve to strengthen the influence of the Christian ethic and, eventually, ring wisdom and understanding among men and nations.

The prospects of that hope do seem dim at present, but I hope that you will cherish the ideal because I believe mankind must respond to the spirit of good and recoil from the spirit of evil. If this can’t be believed by men, there is little hope that civilization can survive.

I think that, perhaps, the best wish I could make for you on this occasion would be that each of you may be guided by the philosophy of the love of your fellowmen; goodwill; sensitivity to just and honorable relationships; and willingness to stand on the side of good against evil.

I wish for you, also, the joy of hard labor for worthwhile ends, and an awareness of the struggle in which you will be engaged throughout your lives. I wish for each of you good health, happiness, and success in that struggle, and I hope your lives may be blessed by the hope, the wisdom, and the influence of the Christian ethic.”

Ralph B. Draughon

 

The Auburn Creed includes seven points, the last of which is:

“I believe in my Country, because it is a land of freedom and because it is my own home, and that I can best serve that country by “doing  justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with my God.” (quote from Micah 6:8)

A University President’s Message

Don’t Get It Twisted – God Is My Sustainer

PASTOR RAY PATRICK MARCH 16, 2020

I was washing my hands thinking about life, I began to think that water is the great sustainer of life – we drink it, bathe in it and now we are being told it could save our lives by washing our hands. We are told most of our sources are generated by water. But don’t get it twisted, the greater sustainer and generator of life is God. He is your source of life. He wants you to abide in Him and rely on Him for everything. He wants to be your source for strength, provision, hope and joy. Like the air you breathe, He wants you to rely on Him for your very existence.

Remember, abiding in God begins by communing with Him, and meditating on His Word all day long. When you abide in Him, you talk to Him before you go to sleep at night. You think about Him when you first wake up. You dwell on His promises all throughout the day, and continually fellowship with Him in prayer. You make Him your number one priority and stay connected with other believers. Notice what this verse says will happen when you abide in Him—you will produce much fruit! He will be your water and sunlight in the midst of your darkness, so that you can produce gigantic fruit for His Kingdom!

Today, when you are connected to God, everything you set your hand to will be fruitful and blessed. Just like a branch thrives when it is connected to the vine, you will thrive and be prosperous when you abide in Him!

I am the vine, you are the branches. The one who abides in me while I abide in him produces much fruit…”

(JOHN 15:5, ISV)

Pray With Me

Yahweh, today I have decided to abide in You. Please be my source. Father, as I wash my hands more than ever before, and drink more water to survive and remain healthy, I won’t get it twisted, but remember, You are my sustainer and I totally depend on You. God, thank You for Your promise of blessing on me, and help me to always be a blessing to others at this time. God, I praise You today because You are my primary sustainer and generator of my life, in Jesus’ Name! Amen.

https://godinterest.com/2020/03/16/dont-get-it-twisted-god-is-my-sustainer/

How to Pray the Psalms

by Christopher Ash Guest Contributor

If you want your prayer life to be shaped by the word of God — as I hope you do! — you cannot do better than to make the Psalms a central part of your prayers. For in the Psalms we have words that God has given us to speak to God. Such a rich tapestry of praises, laments, meditations, requests, and urgent supplications is given to us that we neglect it at our peril. The Psalms tie our personal prayers to the corporate prayers of the people of Christ in every generation. They warm our hearts, inform our minds, and shape our wills.

“The Psalms connect our personal walk with God to the corporate life of the whole church of Christ.”

Christian history certainly supports a robust use of the Psalms in our worship. In the first few centuries after Jesus, the Psalms generated more commentaries than any other biblical book. By the fourth century, at the latest, the book of Psalms (the Psalter) was being used regularly for Christians to sing. For Benedictine monks, the Rule of Saint Benedict (c. 530) stipulated that all 150 Psalms should be sung each week! We have come a long way from this focus on the Psalms. Now, in many Christian churches, the Psalms get no more than the occasional sermon and some songs loosely inspired by psalms. Does this matter? I think it does.

I want to encourage you to make the Psalms a rich and major part of your life of prayer and praise, both privately and corporately in your churches. I want to persuade you that this is right and good. And I want to give some pointers to help you know how to do this.

Teach Us to Pray

Let’s go back to basics. We need to be taught how to pray. It is a wonderful privilege that Christian people have: through Jesus Christ and his death for our sins, and by the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we have access to God the Father in prayer (Ephesians 2:18). That is a magnificent, life-transforming, joyful privilege. And yet we need to be taught how to use this privilege; we need to be taught how to pray.

God hears us when we ask according to his will (1 John 5:14) and in Jesus’s name (John 14:1416:2326). But what does this mean? Jesus gave his disciples the pattern of the Lord’s Prayer when they asked him to teach them to pray (Luke 11:2–4Matthew 6:9–13). In many ways, the Psalms are the expanded version of the Lord’s Prayer, or we might say that the Lord’s Prayer is the compressed version of the Psalms. Just as the Lord’s prayer expresses in brief an adoration for the majesty of God’s holiness, a yearning for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, a supplication for God to provide for us all that we need, and a concern to live with pure piety in a sinful world, so we shall find that the Psalms express all these expansively and majestically.

No wonder, then, that the epistles give the Psalms a central place in the life of the church. In Ephesians 5:19, Paul says that a Spirit-filled church will speak to one another “in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” In Colossians 3:16, he instructs the church to let the word of Christ dwell in them richly as they sing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” All three words — psalms, hymns, songs — are most closely associated with the biblical psalms in the Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint). It is not that “psalms” mean psalms, whereas “hymns” and “songs” mean other things; they all (mostly) mean biblical psalms. (The adjective “spiritual” may apply to all three, since all biblical psalms are given by the Holy Spirit.) So the New Testament tells us that the speaking, the praying, and — yes! — even the singing of psalms is part of a church that is in tune with the Scriptures.

Why Pray the Psalms?

The blessings of praying the Psalms are many.

For one, the Psalms are Spirit-inspired words, given us by God to speak about God and to God. Even the best of our Christian hymn-writers or songwriters are not inspired by the Spirit in this definitive and authoritative way. Every word of every psalm is given by God.

“The interpretive key to the Psalms is how the New Testament uses them.”

Also, the Psalms connect our personal walk with God to the corporate life of the whole church of Christ worldwide and through the centuries. We do not invent our individual spiritualities (in the way that is so fashionable in Western cultures today); rather, we join in the God-given spirituality of the whole Church of Christ. In particular, many psalms will help us to identify and stand with the persecuted church.

And then the Psalms greatly enrich the depth and breadth of our affections and our emotions, so that we learn, for example, to lament in a godly way, to wait and hope in a godly way, to praise even in dark days in a godly way.

But how are we to do this? I am not here asking the musical question. In the past, Psalms have most often been chanted, as they still are in some denominations. But this musical form can often be dreary when sung by a congregation, and it doesn’t exactly feel contemporary. So we should be grateful for musicians who set psalms to contemporary settings that can be sung well by an untutored congregation.

How Do We Pray the Psalms?

By asking the question “How?” I mean, “How do we overcome the many problems we encounter in the words of the Psalms?” Many of us cherry-pick; we read through a psalm and fix on a verse we like. Perhaps we put that verse on a devotional calendar or as the screensaver on our tablet. But we skim over all sorts of difficult verses. For example, we ignore verses where the psalmist claims to be deeply innocent (Psalm 17:35, for instance); we skip over verses where the psalmist’s sufferings feel too intense for us (such as Psalm 88); we feel awkward in the many places where the psalmists pray for God to punish the wicked (as in verses 19–22 of the otherwise popular and well-loved Psalm 139).

“It is vital that we ask of every psalm just how it speaks to us of Christ.”

So how are we to use all the verses of every psalm in our prayer life? I cannot here do more than offer some pointers. (I have written at greater length about these questions, both for readers and for teachers of the Psalms.) The interpretive key to the Psalms is how the New Testament uses them. The New Testament quotes often from the Psalms and echoes the Psalms with bewildering frequency and rich variety. We may sum up the main lines of these echoes and quotations as follows.

1. PRAYERS OF JESUS

Often, the Psalms express the experience, the sufferings, the faith of Jesus of Nazareth in his fully human nature during his life on earth. They are the prayers of Jesus. They express his “loud cries and tears” (Hebrews 5:7) as well as his praises. As the early church father Athanasius wrote, “Before Christ came among us, God sketched the likeness of this perfect life for us in words, in this same book of Psalms; in order that, just as He revealed Himself in flesh to be the perfect, heavenly Man, so in the Psalms also men of goodwill might see the pattern life portrayed, and find therein the healing and correction of their own.”

2. PROPHECIES ABOUT JESUS

Not infrequently the New Testament sees in the divine nature of Jesus the fulfilment of words spoken of God in the Psalms. The most remarkable of these is Psalm 45:6–7, in which the king in David’s line is addressed as God. But also, for example, the Psalms three times rejoice that God “will judge the world in righteousness” (Psalms 9:896:1398:9); the New Testament proclaims that he will do precisely this through the resurrected Jesus (Acts 17:31).

3. WORDS FOR THE CHURCH

Finally, the New Testament understands that what is true of Christ overflows to his church today. His sufferings overflow (see, for example, Psalm 44:22 quoted in Romans 8:36). His government of the world will be shared with his people (Revelation 2:26–27 promises Psalm 2:9 to the believer who perseveres to the end). Just as Jesus entrusted his soul to the Father in the words of Psalm 31:5, so Christians are to entrust their souls to a faithful Creator (1 Peter 4:19). And similarly in various other ways.

“The Psalms are Spirit-inspired words, given to us by God to speak about God and to God.”

Colossians 3:16 indicates that the singing of Psalms will lead to a rich filling with the word of Christ. It is therefore vital that we ask of every psalm just how it speaks to us of Christ. It may show us Christ praying, and leading us, his church, in prayer. It may speak to us of Christ’s kingship and rule (as in Psalm 72, for example). It may speak to us of Christ in some other way. There is a rich variety in the Psalms.

Four Questions for Every Psalm

I have found it helpful to ask, as I read a psalm, the following questions:

  1. What would it have meant for David, or the original psalmist, to sing the psalm? How would it have expressed his convictions, his hopes, his prayers, his praises in his original circumstances?
  2. What would it have meant for old-covenant believers (such as Simeon and Anna in Luke 2) to sing this psalm?
  3. What might it have meant for Jesus of Nazareth, as the perfect worshiper, to sing this psalm in his earthly life?
  4. What will it mean for us, as men and women in Christ, as the church of Christ, to make this psalm our own today?

May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus fill you with his Spirit, and cause the word of Christ richly to indwell you, as you too join with God’s people in praying and singing the Psalms.

 is writer-in-residence at Tyndale House, Cambridge, and a former pastor and Director of the Cornhill Training Course in London. He has written three books on Psalms, including Bible Delight. He is also writing a three-volume commentary on the Psalms, exploring how we appropriate them as the church of Christ.