Hills and Valleys

Psalm 22:1- My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?

It seems to me that our Christian culture has made it a sin to despair, to question God, to be just downright sad. However, the Bible is filled with mighty men of God who struggled with God, who questioned God, sought their own way, or just had down days. I don’t feel like Christianity should promote despair, but I also don’t think that it should try to make it seem like everything is awesome, every day of the week. This is an unrealistic goal which can cause us to be frustrated when we cannot achieve it, or to ignore these thoughts and push them away without dealing with them directly.

Now before we continue, I am not talking in this post about clinical depression that needs treatment from a licensed clinical psychiatrist, which I am not. Depression is a real struggle for many and I will not claim to have all the answers to it.

Let’s look in the Bible where men of God questioned God and their circumstances:

• John the Baptist was in prison and questioned if Jesus was the Messiah even after proclaiming it at Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 11:2-3)

• Habakkuk 1:2- O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?

• Moses was frustrated with God and the Israelites many times. In Numbers 11:11 he said to the Lord, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people?

• Many of David’s psalms were filled with sadness and discouragement including Psalm 22

• In Psalms 73, Asaph questioned God about the prosperity of the wicked

• After the defeat of the prophets of Baal, Elijah suffered from despair, even wishing to die. In 1 Kings 19:4 he said “I have had enough Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”

• Jonah rebelled against God, but after the successful saving of Nineveh, Jonah became bitter telling God “Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Jonah 4:3

Now it’s easy as Christians to quote the Bible where it says “the joy of the Lord is our strength” and “rejoice in the Lord always”. I’m not saying that these are not good goals, but as fallible humans we need to understand that we will have good and bad days, we will have strong faith mixed with weak faith, we will question God and we will be without any doubt. There are high and low points in our “climb up the mountain” as Christians. Just read Pilgrim’s Progress…

Martin Luther, the great reformer, struggled with doubt. It’s one of the key drivers of him questioning the church at the time to lead the reformation. At one point his doubt led to such great a depression that he wrote, “For more than a week I was close to the gates of death and hell. I trembled in all my members. Christ was wholly lost. I was shaken by desperation and blasphemy of God.”

What is our end goal when we despair? If we question God or have sadness what do we do? We do not live in that state, we use it to propel us forward and out of it. We seek help, read the Bible, pray to God, and ultimately stand firm in our faith in who God is. It is important to not go through this alone, we need to find fellow believers we can be accountable with and who we can call up when we are struggling.

Feel free to read my previous post on “Wrestling with God.” God is a big God and He can handle our doubts, worries, anxieties, fears, and sadness. If we give them over to God, He can handle them where we, in our own strength, cannot. Once we rest in God’s sovereignty, we can realize that we do not have all the answers, and that is ok.

Back to Psalm 73, it is my favorite Psalm. The first half is the authors frustration’s with the wicked, but by the end it brings him to a place of confidence in God and His ultimate plan. How he may not understand everything fully, but his ultimate trust is in God.

23  Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24  You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25  Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26  My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
27  Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28  But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.

May the same be said of us, that we can use our dark times to help illuminate God and His power, that we can rest in the fact that He has everything under control. Our doubts and fears are not sinful in and of themselves, we should not feel unworthy for having them. But after we push through, get everything out in the open, and fall back on God’s sovereignty, we can get back to pursuing God. We can then truly claim that “The Joy of the Lord is my Strength” (Nehemiah 8:10)

Discerning Reflection: What do I do when I am sad, when I question God? Do I pray and turn to Him or do I turn away from Him? Do I feel shame for having those thoughts? How can I quickly turn around from these thoughts and who do I need to be accountable with to help me?

Prayer: Lord help me seek after you in the good and the bad times, help me understand that I will have high and low points and to not despair but to trust that you have everything under control.

Hills and Valleys

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My Uncontrolable Sobbing While Watching Unplanned Scared My Wife

This weekend, history will be made as the Unplanned movie will open in more than 1,100 theaters across the nation. And you can expect the backlash to be intense. And I mean very intense. The foundations of the pro-abortion movement, in particular, those of Planned Parenthood, will be challenged. Evil will be exposed and hope will be exalted.

By all means, make your plans to flood the theaters this weekend, not just for your own benefit, but to help send a message to the movie industry that this movie needs to be seen. That means it needs to be widely available.

If you’re not familiar with the background to Unplanned, it tells the real-life story of former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson, who is now a pro-life champion.

Earlier this week, on my radio show, I spoke with Ashley Bratcher, the Christian actor who plays Abby in the movie. She explained what it took for her to become Abby Johnson, and as you’ll see, she did it with excellence.

I was able to watch an advance release of Unplanned in the privacy of my home, but I was caught off guard by one pivotal scene.

To be clear, I’ve been involved in the pro-life movement in varying degrees for many years. And I’ve often shared the horrifically-graphic, deeply-moving images of aborted babies.

Back in the early 1990’s, the day before participating in an Operation Rescue event in Washington, DC, we had an all-day prayer meeting at my house.

During our prayer time, I passed around one of those graphic pictures – the mangled body of a late-term aborted baby. And as each person saw the picture, each began to weep. “What have we done?” cried out one of my friends.

You could say, then, that I was emotionally prepared for whatever was coming in Unplanned. Except I wasn’t.

I had about 45-minutes free before going to teach a night class at our ministry school on a Tuesday night, so I told Nancy (we’ve been married for 43 years) that I was going to start watching the movie in my study while having my dinner salad.

You see, I thought the movie would proceed chronologically with Abby’s life and so, it would be awhile before any disturbing images might appear. That meant I could sit at my desk, have dinner, and watch the first part of the movie.

Without giving anything away, let’s just say that an important scene in the movie occurred earlier than I expected. (For those concerned about bringing children to Unplanned, first, there are far more graphic images of aborted babies found online than anything seen in the movie. Second, if your kids are old enough to have an intelligent discussion with you about abortion, they are old enough to see the movie.)

As the scene unfolded – it is something witnessed at Planned Parenthood clinics every day of the week and it was scientifically fair and honest – I was completely overcome, sobbing uncontrollably. Yet there was nothing manipulative or contrived about the scene in the least. Just the simple reality of an abortion. And I lost it.

For the next 15 minutes I tried to compose myself, shutting the movie off and distracting my mind (after first pouring my heart out to the Lord in prayer). Then, when I thought I was ready, I went to talk to Nancy, who hadn’t heard me tell her I was about to watch Unplanned.

I managed to get out the words, “I have to compose myself,” before completely losing it, sobbing and unable to speak.

As you can imagine, this totally scared Nancy, who thought someone close to us had just died. (What would you think if your spouse came walking into your room and was sobbing so intensely he or she couldn’t talk?)

When I finally did speak, I barely got out the words, “That movie,” before explaining the rest.

Then, a few minutes later, when I shared with my students about recent, aggressive, pro-abortion developments, one of the students asked if we could stop and pray.

We did, and the class never happened, as we spent the better part of the next 2 ½ hours in prayer, often weeping and wailing for the lives of the unborn.

Honestly, I am amazed that Pure Flix was able to get Unplanned into so many theaters, knowing how hotly opposed this movie will be.

In fact, I have learned that the number rose from 900 to 1,100 theaters (at last report) due to popular, advance demand. I also heard that one theater cancelled the showing but had to reinstate it after a local outcry.

Not everyone will be affected the way I was. But I’m confident that all who see this movie with an open heart and mind will be positively and deeply impacted for the cause of life.

Make your plans to be there this weekend. Perhaps this will be a turning point in the history of the modern, pro-life movement.

It’s way, way past time.

https://barbwire.com/my-uncontrolable-sobbing-while-watching-unplanned-scared-my-wife/

One Question, Four Answers

WHICH MOMENT OF JESUS’ LAST WEEK ON EARTH SPEAKS TO YOU THE MOST?

 

Mark 15:16-19 carefully details the mockery that Christ endured at the hands of a battalion of about 500 Roman soldiers inside the Praetorium. After He was falsely accused of leading an insurrection, the soldiers taunted Jesus by putting a twisted crown of thorns upon His head, wrapping a purple robe on His bloody body, placing a fake scepter in His trembling hands, and saluting Him with sadistic glee. Through enduring these various forms of abuse, Jesus as our high priest took upon Himself the shame of innocent victims living in a fallen world. Victims of verbal, emotional, sexual, and physical abuse need to know Christ as not only a guilt-bearing Savior but also a shame-bearing Savior—one who identifies, empathizes, and heals.

—Mika Edmondson, pastor of New City Fellowship in Grand Rapids, Michigan and author of The Power of Unearned Suffering: The Roots and Implications of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Theodicy

 

Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane—“Not as I will, but as You will” (Matt. 26:39)—is one I think about often, as it reveals much about the nature of prayer. When we pray, we are not asking God to magically do things we want, but rather we enter God’s presence and ask that our hearts and minds be transformed. We’re tempted to see problems in the world as out there, in other people; it’s much harder to recognize the darkness, greed, hate, lust, and anger in our own heart. In prayer, we follow Jesus in asking for our own transformation—not to make us better people, but to make ourselves available to embody God’s love and compassion in the world.

—C. Christopher Smith, editor of The Englewood Review of Books and author of How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church

 

After all Jesus went through His last week on earth, He could have said “OK, Father, I’m done with them.” But that’s not who Jesus is. I find it moving that He took the time to come back to the disciples a second time after His resurrection—and in particular that He decided to give Thomas a chance to touch His wounds and believe. He could have been “done” with Thomas, but He proved Himself again. He did that so there would be a record of it for people like me. I appreciate that about Jesus. He knows us, and He loves us still. His love is never done.

—TaRanda Greene, member of Cana’s Voice and solo vocal artist. Her latest album is The Healing.

 

I can’t imagine being at the table with Jesus in the upper room. After He took the cup and bread, giving thanks, He said six words I can’t shake: “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19). I kind of think of communion now as part of a progressive dinner party that began in the upper room and ends in the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. We attend the same meal those disciples did; we’re just down the street a little. Believers who come after us attend the same meal, but it’s held at another house. The body and the blood is timeless, and believers get to be there for the finale in heaven. We remember every time, but He remembers as well. It’s His covenant with us, and I can’t wait to find place settings with my name and yours at the ultimate Easter banquet.

—Sarah Harmeyer, speaker and founder of Neighbor’s Table

https://www.intouch.org/read/magazine/faith-works/one-question-four-answers-holy-week

GOD’s instructions for victory

Dear friends,

it’s so nice to win, isn’t it?

Have you ever wondered why we love it so much?

Could the reason be that it is what HE wanted us to strive for, fight for and wanted it to be our most favorite blessing?

I mean it is just so fascinating that EVERYTHING we love and want and desire is exactly what GOD has promised us and has even died for that we would have it.

Fascinating and demonstrating.

Showing us proof that we are HIS people, made by HIM, designed in HIS image and also according to HIS ideas about us – we are seeking and yearning for love, for a happy marriage, for a family, good health and happiness – at least if we are in our right mind, which is also a desire we all have and a blessing HE gives us – and what a “conincidence”:
these are the blessings GOD promised to HIS people.

Of course it is not a coincidence.

We are HIS creation.

If the devil had made us, we would be happy and deeply fulfilled every time we destroy or kill or violate others.

Whereas he fooled many people into believing that this is what they are supposed to be doing and what makes them happy, ALL of them know deep within themselves that it is NOT THE TRUTH, that they are not on the right path, that they are rebelling, disobeying and that they WILL be punished for this one day.

This is called a conscience and everybody has it, is born with it, it is given to us by birth.

Regardless where we are born and which circumstances we are born into, we have a natural and instinctive knowing about right and wrong and about justice and goodness.

Many people do not act according to it and do their best to unlearn it over the course of their lives, but when you look at children, they know what a lie is and they do feel guilty when they tell a lie – at least until they learn something else, most likely by their role models which would be us, their parents, their relatives, their teachers…

What I am getting at is that victory is important to everybody and GOD has intended us to seek it, to fight for it and to desire it.

BECAUSE it is what we can have when we are HIS.

And only when we are HIS people can we have victory.

Only through HIM.

We cannot win by not following the principles and rules GOD has layed out for us and we cannot win without HIM.

It is simply not possible.

When we try to do it our way and without GOD, our victory will ALWAYS and only be temporary and superficial and when we even fall for the snare of the enemy, who is telling us that the power is within us and that we can do whatever we want, then, we may seem to be victorious and even seem to have won in this life, but we will never be winners for eternity!

The stronger our egos and will and soul is, the harder it can be to win.

Because then, we are prone to believe that we are the doers, the soldiers, the fighters, that through our power the battle is won.

GOD has many examples in HIS WORD to prove this wrong.

I would like to take a look at the story in 2 Chronicles 20 with you to demonstrate what I mean.

This chapter has been very helpful for me to learn about HOW we can attain victory over the enemy.

It contains divine instructions when you analyze it – and last night, at a late night prayer and spiritual warfare meeting with my beloved sisters, all highly skilled and experienced prayer warriors (they all have many more years of praying and fighting and serving THE LORD under their belt than I do!), we looked at this chapter once again together and it was our basis for the breakthroughs we achieved right there and then, the victories of last night for HIS kingdom.

So the situation was that King Jehosaphat was threatened by 2 tribes, the Ammonites and the Moabites, who outnumbered his people greatly and he was afraid and the first thing he did was to seek THE LORD and proclaim a fast throughout all Judah.

Very important and ESSENTIAL first move!

If you want to win the battle, you MUST ask GOD first about it and also, you need to become receptive for what HE is going to tell you and you need to show HIM that you are submitting yourself (and if you are a leader, also your people) into HIS hands and this is an accepted and proven means of doing so, FASTING.

Here is GOD’s promise for those who fast and pray and for success of this endeavour, and that it will work every time!

2 CHRONICLES 7: 14-15
14 IF MY PEOPLE, WHICH ARE CALLED BY MY NAME, SHALL HUMBLE THEMSELVES, AND PRAY, AND SEEK MY FACE, AND TURN FROM THEIR WICKED WAYS; THEN WILL I HEAR FROM HEAVEN, AND WILL FORGIVE THEIR SIN, AND WILL HEAL THEIR LAND.
15 NOW MINE EYES SHALL BE OPEN, AND MINE EARS ATTEND UNTO THE PRAYER THAT IS MADE IN THIS PLACE.

Verse 15 emphasizes that if this is done in a place, a church building for instance, or your home, it also will sanctify the place and will improve the anointing of this place and will make it more likely that GOD will hear other prayers made there as well in the future!

What a promise!

An instruction for success, for victory and for answered prayer!

Priceless!

I really wonder why so many people don’t do this, me personally, I cannot over-emphasize the importance of fasting and what it has brought me spiritually, I would not have had any breakthrough without fasting I suppose, or let me put it that way, when I discovered fasting for MY FATHER, that’s when HE really started to accept me, to communicate with me, to guide me, to heal me, to deliver me and to give me more and more opportunities to serve HIM.

Ok, so far, so good.

So they started out right.

The next thing is what Jehosaphat did next:

He gathered them all together and they sought the face of THE LORD and were asking for a word of knowledge or a word of wisdom or for a prophecy.
That’s exactly what we need to do as well!

Sometimes, GOD will speak to us personally in a matter that only concerns us.

Sometimes when we don’t hear from HIM and/ or when it is a matter for many, for a group, a congregation for instance or in the story of the bible, for a tribe, the tribe of Judah, it takes a gathering, seeking GOD together, fasting together, praying together, crying out to GOD together for help.

Even the sequence and the order of a successful prayer is given in this story!
Wouldn’t you love to have your prayers answered?

There are certain things a prayer needs to contain in order to get GOD’s attention and approval.

Let’s take a look at verses 6-13 of this chapter:

2 CHRONICLES 20: 6-13:
6 AND SAID, O LORD GOD OF OUR FATHERS, ART NOT THOU GOD IN HEAVEN? AND RULEST NOT THOU OVER ALL THE KINGDOMS OF THE HEATHEN? AND IN THINE HAND IS THERE NOT POWER AND MIGHT, SO THAT NONE IS ABLE TO WITHSTAND THEE?
7 ART NOT THOU OUR GOD, WHO DIDST DRIVE OUT THE INHABITANTS OF THIS LAND BEFORE THY PEOPLE ISRAEL, AND GAVEST IT TO THE SEED OF ABRAHAM THY FRIEND FOR EVER?
8 AND THEY DWELT THEREIN, AND HAVE BUILT THEE A SANCTUARY THEREIN FOR THY NAME, SAYING,
9 IF, WHEN EVIL COMETH UPON US, AS THE SWORD, JUDGMENT, OR PESTILENCE, OR FAMINE, WE STAND BEFORE THIS HOUSE, AND IN THY PRESENCE, (FOR THY NAME IS IN THIS HOUSE,) AND CRY UNTO THEE IN OUR AFFLICTION, THEN THOU WILT HEAR AND HELP.
10 AND NOW, BEHOLD, THE CHILDREN OF AMMON AND MOAB AND MOUNT SEIR, WHOM THOU WOULDEST NOT LET ISRAEL INVADE, WHEN THEY CAME OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT, BUT THEY TURNED FROM THEM, AND DESTROYED THEM NOT;
11 BEHOLD, I SAY, HOW THEY REWARD US, TO COME TO CAST US OUT OF THY POSSESSION, WHICH THOU HAST GIVEN US TO INHERIT.
12 O OUR GOD, WILT THOU NOT JUDGE THEM? FOR WE HAVE NO MIGHT AGAINST THIS GREAT COMPANY THAT COMETH AGAINST US; NEITHER KNOW WE WHAT TO DO: BUT OUR EYES ARE UPON THEE.
13 AND ALL JUDAH STOOD BEFORE THE LORD, WITH THEIR LITTLE ONES, THEIR WIVES, AND THEIR CHILDREN.

So he started with addressing GOD properly, exalting HIM, acknowledging HIS power and might and then reminds HIM of what HE has done in the past and the promises HE made to HIS people. Also, he reminds GOD of what they had done for HIM and how they had walked in HIM and served HIM.

Then he comes to the center of his prayer, the petition and asks that GOD would defend them.

The end of the prayer is also important, because it says everybody, the entire tribe, including children and wives, stood before HIM and waited on HIM.

This is what will lead to answered prayer and to hearing from GOD.

And they did.

Not through Jehosaphat, but THE LORD spoke through Jahaziel (and Jehosaphat was wise enough to know that THE LORD can speak through anyone!) and told them that HE would fight the battle.

That’s it.

When GOD tells us that, it means it is a done deal.

What it doesn’t mean though is that there will be no more required of us in order to secure, receive and own our victory, but it means that GOD has decided that we WILL be victorious.

What HE will ALWAYS expect from us next (and what they did in the story!) is to give thanks, to worship HIM and to listen for and follow the further instructions.

So what they did – and all they did! – was appoint singers and PRAISED HIM!

And their enemies all died.

Not only that, GOD let them have such a great spoil that they were not able to carry all of the treasures with them.

That’s not only the victory, but also a great increase on top!

We need to remember though that they could have lost the victory GOD had blessed them with, had they not been obedient to HIS instructions and had they not stayed in close contact and in submission to HIM.

I think that’s what happens to us a lot in our daily lives – at least do I remember this from my own past.

I recall situations when THE LORD had given me a victory and I was so glad about it that I forgot to stay close to HIM until the victory was complete and for instance broke my fast or didn’t pray as intensely and often anymore or focused on the next thing – in a way, I can say that I left my humility, because of the “winner mindset” that I went into.

Not a godly winner – mindset, not one that would give GOD all the glory, but one that would let ME appear great and victorious, I may have boasted about it – not necessarily before others, but before myself – and would have believed too much that it was me or my powers or my endurance or my cleverness who got me the victory  – instead of what it truly was, instead of seeing the only reason for it: GOD.

Pride can let us loose our victory.

Another thing they also did is they kept praising HIM and also spreading the story of HIS glory and how HE gave them the victory.

GOD wants us to be witnesses, wants us to give HIM thanks, wants us to testify  – HE wants HIS goodness to be used in order to bring more souls to HIM, wants us to tell others about HIM and about what HE can do – to share the stories of the miracles GOD did for us will ensure that HE gets the glory, that HE stays pleased with us and that we are still obeying and operating under HIS favour.

Because in the end of the chapter it is also demonstrated that Jehosaphat through an allegiance with Ahaziah, a wicked and ungodly king – lost THE LORD’s favour and GOD destroyed his ships.

I recommend that you read the entire chapter if and when you need a victory from OUR FATHER 

And I will write a separate post about what came out for me from following these principles and which victories THE LORD has granted me recently.

I wouldn’t be surprised – if you looked back on a victory GOD has granted you in the past, if you would discover that you had followed these principles layed out in 2 Chronicles 20.

Can you remember?

Will you share some of your success stories with us?

I hope and pray that this will inspire, bless and heal you and that THE LORD will bless you abundantly in all areas of your life, that HE will keep you, shine HIS face upon you and give you peace. In JESUS’ name I pray. AMEN.

GOD’s instructions for victory

 

VIDEO Boasting Only in the Cross

But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

You don’t have to know a lot of things for your life to make a lasting difference in the world. But you do have to know the few great things that matter, and then be willing to live for them and die for them. The people that make a durable difference in the world are not the people who have mastered many things, but who have been mastered by a few great things.

If you want your life to count, if you want the ripple effect of the pebbles you drop to become waves that reach the ends of the earth and roll on for centuries and into eternity, you don’t have to have a high IQ or EQ; you don’t have to have to have good looks or riches; you don’t have to come from a fine family or a fine school. You have to know a few great, majestic, unchanging, obvious, simple, glorious things, and be set on fire by them.

But I know that not everybody in this crowd wants your life to make a difference. There are hundreds of you — you don’t care whether you make a lasting difference for something great, you just want people to like you. If people would just like you, you’d be satisfied. Or if you could just have good job with a good wife and a couple good kids and a nice car and long weekends and a few good friends, a fun retirement, and quick and easy death and no hell — if you could have that (minus God) — you’d be satisfied. That is a tragedy in the making.

“Don’t coast through life without a passion. Make your life count for something great and for eternity.”

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Testimonies to the Unwasted Life

Three weeks ago we got word at our church that Ruby Eliason and Laura Edwards had both been killed in Cameroon. Ruby was over eighty. Single all her life, she poured it out for one great thing: to make Jesus Christ known among the unreached, the poor, and the sick. Laura was a widow, a medical doctor, pushing eighty years old, and serving at Ruby’s side in Cameroon.

The brakes failed, the car went over the cliff, and they were both killed instantly. And I asked my people: Was that a tragedy? Two lives, driven by one great vision, spent in unheralded service to the perishing poor for the glory of Jesus Christ — two decades after almost all their American counterparts have retired to throw their lives away on trifles in Florida or New Mexico. No. That is not a tragedy. That is a glory.

I tell you what a tragedy is. I’ll read to you from Reader’s Digest (Feb. 2000, 98) what a tragedy is: “Bob and Penny . . . took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball and collect shells.”

The American Dream: come to the end of your life — your one and only life — and let the last great work before you give an account to your Creator be, “I collected shells. See my shells.” That is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. And I get forty minutes to plead with you: don’t buy it.

Don’t waste your life. It is so short and so precious. I grew up in a home where my father spent himself as an evangelist to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost. He had one consuming vision: preach the gospel. There was a plaque in our kitchen for all my growing up years. Now it hangs in our living room. I have looked at it almost daily for about 48 years. It says, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

I am here at One Day in a sense as a father. I am 54 years old. I have four sons and one daughter: Karsten is 27, Benjamin is 24, Abraham is twenty, Barnabas is seventeen. Talitha is four. Few things, if any, fill me with more longing these months and years than the longing that my grown sons not waste their lives on fatal success.

The Plea of a Loving Father

So I look out on you as sons and daughters and I plead with you as a father — perhaps the father you never had. Or the father who never had a vision for you like I have for you, and God has for you. Or the father who has a vision for you, but its all about money and status. I look out on you as sons and daughters and I plead with you: Want your lives to count for something great and for eternity. Want this. Don’t coast through life without a passion.

One of the reasons I have loved the vision of Passion 98 and Passion 99 and One Day is that the 268 declaration is so clearly what my life is about. The declaration is based on Isaiah 26:8: “Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” Here is not just a body but a soul. Here is not just a soul, but a soul with a passion and a desire. Here is not just a desire for being liked or for softball and shells, here is a desire for something infinitely great, and infinitely beautiful, and infinitely valuable and infinitely satisfying — the name and the glory of God — “Your name and your renown are the desire of our souls.”

“Don’t waste your life. It is so short and so precious.”

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This is what I live to know and long to experience. The mission statement of my life and the church I serve: “We exist — I exist — to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples.”

You don’t have to say it like I say it. You don’t have to say it like Louie Giglio says it (or like Beth Moore says it or like Voddie Baucham says it).

Finding and Sharing Your Passion

But whatever you do, find your passion and find your way to say it and live for it and die for it. And you will make a difference that lasts. You will be like the apostle Paul. Nobody had a more single-minded vision for his life than Paul did. He could say it in different ways.

I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may accomplish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)

One thing mattered: Finish my course, run my race.

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:7–8)

How shall I help you? How can I be used of God in this moment at One Day to waken in you a single passion for a single great reality that will unleash you and will set you free from small dreams and send you to the ends of the earth?

A Key Scripture Text

The answer I think the Lord gave me was: take them to one verse of Scripture that is as close to the center as you can get and show them why Paul says there what he says. The verse is Galatians 6:14:

May it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

“I exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples.”

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Or to state it positively: only boast in the cross of Jesus Christ. It is a single idea. A single goal. A single passion. Only boast in the cross. The word can be translated “exult in” or “rejoice in.” Only exult in the cross of Christ. Only rejoice in the cross of Christ. Paul says let this be your single passion, your single boast and joy and exultation. In this great moment called one day let the one thing that you love, the one thing that you cherish, the one thing that you rejoice in and exult over be the cross of Jesus Christ. This is shocking for two reasons.

  1. One is that it’s like saying: Only boast in the electric chair. Only exult in the gas chamber. Only rejoice in the lethal injection. Let your one boast and one joy and one exultation be the lynching rope. “May it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” No manner of execution that has ever been devised was more cruel and agonizing than to be nailed to a cross. It was horrible. You would not have been able to watch it — not without screaming and pulling at your hair and tearing your clothes. Let this be the one passion of your life.
  2. That is one thing that is shocking about Paul’s words. The other is that he says this is to be the only boast of your life. The only joy. The only exultation. “May it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

What does he mean by this? Really? No other boast? No other exultation? No other joy except the cross of Jesus — the death of Jesus?

But Doesn’t Paul Boast In Other Things?

What about the places where Paul himself uses the same word for “boast” or “exult” for other things? For example:

We exult in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:2)

We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that they produce patience and approvedness and hope. (Romans 5:3)

Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you?” (1 Thessalonians 2:19)

So, if Paul can boast and exult in all these things, what does Paul mean — that he would not “boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”?

But what does that mean? Is that just double-talk? You exult in one thing and just say that you are exulting in another thing? No. There is a very profound reason for saying this — that all exultation, all rejoicing, all boasting in anything should be a rejoicing in the cross of Jesus Christ.

He means that, for the Christian, all other boasting should also be a boasting in the cross. All exultation in anything else should be exultation in the cross. If you exult in the hope of glory you, should be exulting in the cross of Christ. If you exult in tribulation because tribulation works hope, you should be exulting in the cross of Christ. If you exult in your weaknesses, or in the people of God, you should be exulting in the cross of Christ.

Why Boasting Only in the Cross Is Central

Why is this the case? For this reason: for redeemed sinners, every good thing — indeed every bad thing that God turns for good — was obtained for us by the cross of Christ. Apart from the death of Christ, sinners get nothing but judgment. Apart from the cross of Christ, there is only condemnation. Therefore everything that you enjoy in Christ — as a Christian, as a person who trusts Christ — is owing to the death of Christ. And all your rejoicing in all things should, therefore, be a rejoicing in the cross where all your blessings were purchased for you at the cost of the death of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

One of the reasons we are not as Christ-centered and cross-saturated as we should be is that we have not realized that everything — everything good and everything bad that God turns for the good of his redeemed children was purchased by the death of Christ for us. We simply take life and breath and health and friends and everything for granted. We think it is ours by right. But the fact is that it is not ours by right. We are doubly undeserving of it.

  1. We are creatures and our Creator was not bound or obligated to give us anything — not life or health and anything. He gives, he takes, and he does us no injustice.
  2. And besides being creatures with no claim on our Creator, we are sinners. We have fallen short of his glory. We have ignored him and disobeyed him and failed to love him and trust him. The wrath of his justice is kindled against us. All we deserve from him is judgment. Therefore every breath we take, every time our heart beats, every day that the sun rises, every moment we see with our eyes or hear with our ears or speak with our mouths or walk with our legs is free and undeserved gift to sinners who deserve only judgment.

And who bought these gifts for us? Jesus Christ. And how did he purchase them? By his blood.

Why God Gives Us Gifts

Every blessing in life is designed to magnify the cross of Christ, or to say it another way, every good thing in life is meant to magnify Christ and him crucified. So, for example, we totaled our 1991 Dodge Spirit last week, but nobody was hurt. And in that safety I exult. I glory in that. But why was nobody hurt? That was a gift to me and my family that none of us deserves. We are sinners and by nature children of wrath, apart from Christ. So how did we come to have such a gift for our good? Answer: Christ died for our sins on the cross, and took away the wrath of God from us, and secured for us, even though we don’t deserve it, God’s omnipotent grace that works everything together for our good. So when I exult in our safety, I am exulting in the cross of Christ.

“Find your passion and find your way to say it and live for it and die for it. ”

And the insurance paid us $2,800 for the car and Noël took that money and went to Iowa and bought a ’92 Chevy Lumina and drove it home in the snow. And now we have a car again. And I exult in the amazing grace of so much bounty. Just like that. You wreck your car. You come out unhurt. Insurance pays up. You get another one. And move on almost as if nothing happened. And in thanks, I bow my head and exult in the untold mercies even of these little material things. Where do all these mercies come from?

If you are a saved sinner, a believer in Jesus, they come through the cross. Apart from the cross, there is only judgment — patience and mercy for a season, but then, if spurned, all that mercy only serves to intensify judgment. Therefore every gift is a blood-bought gift. And all boasting — all exultation — is boasting in the cross. Woe to me if I exult in any blessing unless my exulting is an exulting in the cross of Christ.

Another way to say this is that the design of the cross is the glory of Christ. The aim of God in the cross is that Christ would be honored. When Paul says in Galatians 6:14, “May it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he is saying that God’s will is that the cross be always magnified — that Christ crucified always be our boast and exultation and our joy and our praise — that Christ get glory and thanks and honor for every good thing in our lives — and every bad thing that God causes to turn for good.

Education for Exultation

But now here’s a question: If that is the aim of God in the death of Christ — namely, that “Christ crucified” be honored and glorified for all things, then how is Christ to get the glory he deserves? The answer is that children and youth and adults have to be taught that these things are so. Or to say it another way: the source of exultation in the cross of Christ is education about the cross of Christ.

That’s my job: to get glory for Jesus by teaching you these things. And then your job is to get more glory for Jesus by acting on them and teaching them to more people. Education about Jesus is for exultation in Jesus. And if we want there to be no exultation except in the cross, then we must pursue education about the cross — and under the cross.

“All your blessings were purchased for you at the cost of the death of the Son of God.”

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Or maybe we should say, “on the cross.” Education on the cross will lead to exultation of the cross. What do I mean? Look at the rest of verse 14: “May it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Boasting in the cross happens when you are on the cross. Is that not what verse 14 says? The world has been crucified to me, and I have been crucified to the world. The world is dead to me, and I am dead to the world. Why? Because I have been crucified. We learn to boast in the cross and exult in the cross when we are on the cross.

When You Were Crucified With Christ

Now what does that mean? When did that happen? When were you crucified? The answer is in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.” When Christ died, we died. The glorious meaning of the death of Christ is that when he died, all his own died in him. That death, that he died for us all, becomes our death when we are united to Christ by faith.

But you say, “Aren’t I alive? I feel alive.” Well, here is a need for education. We must learn what happened to us. We must be taught these things. That is why Galatians 2:20 and 6:14 are in the Bible. God is teaching us what happened to us, so that we can know ourselves and know his way of working with us and exult in him and in his Son and in the cross as we ought.

So we read Galatians 2:20 again to see that. Yes, we are dead and yes, we are alive. “I have been crucified with Christ [so I am dead, and he goes on]; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me [why? Because I died, that is, my old rebellious, unbelieving self died, and he goes on]; and the life which I now live in the flesh [so, yes, I am alive, but it isn’t the same “I” as the “I” who died] I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.” In other words the “I” who lives is the new “I” of faith. The new creation lives. The believer lives. The old self died on the cross with Jesus.

And if you ask, “What’s the key for linking up with this reality? How can this be mine? The answer is implied in the words about faith in Galatians 2:20. “The life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God.” That is the link. God links you to his Son by faith. And when he does there is a union with the Son of God so that his death becomes your death and his life becomes your life.

Now take all that over to Galatians 6:14, “May it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Don’t boast in anything except in the cross.

Becoming Radically Centered on Christ’s Cross

And how can I become that radically cross-centered — so that all my exultation is traced back to the cross? Answer: realize that when Christ died on the cross, you died; and when you trusted him, that death took effect in your life. Paul says it’s your death to the world and the world’s death to you.

Meaning: when you put your trust in Christ, your bondage to the world is broken, and the overpowering lure of the world is broken. You are a corpse to the world, and the world is a corpse to you. Or to put it positively, according to verse 15, you are a “new creation.” The old you is dead. A new you is alive. And the new you is the you of faith. And what faith exults in is not the world, but Christ, and especially, Christ crucified.

This is how you become so cross-centered that you say with Paul, “I will not boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The world is no longer my treasure. It’s not the source of my life and my satisfaction and my joy. Christ is.

But what about safety in the car accident? What about the insurance payment? Didn’t you say you were happy about that? Isn’t that the world? So are you dead to the world?

I could be. I hope so. Because being dead to the world doesn’t mean going out of the world. And it doesn’t mean not feeling things about the world — some negative and some positive (1 John 2:151 Timothy 4:3). It means that every legitimate pleasure in the world becomes a blood-bought evidence of Christ’s love, and an occasion of boasting in the cross. We are dead to insurance payments when the money is not what satisfies, but Christ crucified, the Giver, satisfies. When our hearts run back along the beam of blessing to the source in the cross, then the worldliness of the blessing is dead, and Christ crucified is everything.

That is the goal of education for exultation — in the cross. Oh, may God grant us to dream and plan and work and give and teach and live for the glory of Christ and him crucified!

https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/boasting-only-in-the-cross

VIDEO The Abby Johnson Story – It Starts With The Workers

One day, about a decade ago, a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic director saw something at her own clinic—and it made her instantly pro-life.

Her name is Abby Johnson, and she was the director of the Bryan, Texas Planned Parenthood clinic, which was affiliated with the greater Houston area Planned Parenthood—one of the largest markets for America’s largest abortion-provider. In 2008, Abby had been voted as Planned Parenthood’s Employee of the Year. She was on a fast-track for further promotion within Planned Parenthood.

I interviewed Abby Johnson on the radio a few years ago. She told me about something that happened that made her question how good Planned Parenthood really was:

“I had been instructed to increase the abortion quota at our facility, which was strange to me because I really got involved with Planned Parenthood, believing that abortion was something we were trying to eradicate, [to] make unnecessary through various education programs.”

I said, “Safe, legal, and rare?” She said, “Sure, that’s what we said to the media, and that’s what I believed.” She naively thought abortion (as a last resort) was helpful to women.

Abby said in a television interview for D. James Kennedy Ministries (DJKM):

“Planned Parenthood says that they offer options counseling, but that’s not true….they don’t really know how to effectively counsel on anything but abortion. I was great at selling abortion. I was a very, very good salesperson. I could sell an abortion to anybody. It’s so easy when you get a woman into your office, and she is vulnerable and she’s unsure.”

But on September 26, 2009, at the request of a visiting doctor who insisted on sonogram-assisted abortions, Abby ran the sonogram machine and saw from a different perspective what her life’s work (up to that time) was really all about.

In her book, The Walls Are Talking (with Kristin Detrow, 2016), Abby writes:

“As I stood watching, a thirteen-week-old unborn child struggled and lost its life within its mother’s womb, finally crumpling and disappearing into the cannula, a hollow plastic tube attached to the suction machine by a flexible hose.”

She described it this way in the DJKM television interview:

“I was just in shock. I couldn’t believe what I was watching. And the baby was actually making some progress. It was moving further and further away from the instrument, so much so the doctor had to reposition the cannula. And he finally got everything in place, and he asked the technician to turn on the suction, and she did.”

Abby continues:

“In just, a few moments, I saw the child’s body begin to go through that tube.

For those few moments I was watching this child fight hard for its life. It didn’t have a chance. We had all those instruments and all that technology, and that little baby didn’t have a fighting change, and it did fight.”

Abby adds:

“I walked out of the room that day just realizing, ‘I’ve got to make a change. Never again. I’m never going to participate in this again.’”

Today, Abby’s story can be seen on the big screen. Unplanned, based on her best-selling book of the same title (with Cindy Lambert, 2010), opened this past weekend and was a surprise hit. It came in number five at the box office, which is quite an accomplishment for an independent pro-life movie that virtually all of Hollywood does not want you to see. I saw it on its opening weekend and highly recommend it.

Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, told me:

“The depiction of abortion in Unplanned is something that every pro-life person should see—and every pro-choice person.”

Today, one of Abby Johnson’s central goals is to assist abortion clinic workers who want to leave the abortion industry. Her organization, And Then There Were None, is directly geared toward this.

In an online video for that outreach, Abby says, “Our vision statement for And Then There Were None is ‘No abortion clinic workers, no abortion clinics, no abortions’—it starts with the workers. We see ourselves as being part of a pro-love movement…we want to love these workers out of the clinics. We want to love them to a path of healing, and we want to love them…into a relationship with Jesus Christ.” So far, they have been able to help 500 people leave the abortion clinics.

In her book, The Walls Are Talking, Abby says she relates to Mary Magdalene:

“I have also done my fair share of sinning. And I have also been forgiven much more than I deserve. I abused and betrayed women in the worst possible way. I convinced them to kill their children….It was Christ who changed me.”

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, make your plans to go see Unplanned.

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Jerry Newcombe, D.Min., is an on-air host/senior producer for D. James Kennedy Ministries. He has written/co-written 31 books, e.g., The Unstoppable Jesus Christ, American Amnesia: Is American Paying the Price for Forgetting God?, What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? (w/ D. James Kennedy) & the bestseller, George Washington’s Sacred Fire (w/ Peter Lillback)   djkm.org  @newcombejerry      www.jerrynewcombe.com

https://barbwire.com/the-abby-johnson-story/

Chick-fil-A Derangement Syndrome

April 1, 2019 By Reverend Paul N. Papas II

 

 

The disease has been spreading across the country with the latest outbreak being found in the San Antonio Airport area. The symptoms include HIGHsteria over false impressions and false reports of certain beliefs attributed to Chick-fil-a owners and workers.

In today’s society there is a noisy group that has lost or never learned the art of debate, instead they bully those who disagree with them. For some unknown illogical reason the noisy group mistakenly believes noise, assaults, and violence will change someone’s point of view, this is known as Chick-fil-A Derangement Syndrome.

If the Founding Fathers had Chick-fil-A Derangement Syndrome we would not have our Constitution and we would be subjects of the Queen. If the Founding Fathers had Chick-fil-A Derangement Syndrome there would not have been a War of 1812. If the Founding Fathers had Chick-fil-A Derangement Syndrome members of the military could commandeer any housing it wished without recourse by or compensation to the property owner. If the Founding Fathers had Chick-fil-A Derangement Syndrome police would not need a warrant to search your property. If the Founding Fathers had Chick-fil-A Derangement Syndrome cruel and unusual punishment would be legal.  If the Founding Fathers had Chick-fil-A Derangement Syndrome there would be no civil rights acts or equal rights.

Chick-fil-A Derangement Syndrome was on display in the Decline and Fall of the SPLC Empire (One Conservative Group Fought Back).

Chick-fil-A Derangement Syndrome was on display in the Jussie Smollett case.

Chick-fil-A Derangement Syndrome was on display after the Pennsylvania State Rep opened the House in Prayer: “At The Name of Jesus Every Knee Will Bow”

I think you get the idea.

Chick-fil-A Derangement Syndrome is not helpful to enjoying our Rights “endowed by [our] Creator … certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

It is good to keep Chick-fil-A.

It is time to eradicate the Chick-fil-A Derangement Syndrome.

It is time to practice the age old art of debate where we discuss a question by considering opposing arguments.

Here is one example of a popular debate format called “traditional” in an academic debate setting:

Stock Issues Case:
• Demonstrate that there are serious problems with the status quo
• Show that these problems are inherent to the system
• Present a specific plan (implementing the resolution)
• Show that this plan will help solve the problems without creating serious new ones

Longtime readers may remember I served on a Charter Commission for a town. The voter registration for the town was 3 to 1 Democrat. The Charter Commission make up was five Democrats and four Republicans The membership age range was from the early twenties to late sixties.  The GOP Party town chairman and Democrat Party town vice chair were members of the Commission. All members ran town wide. The Chairman of the Charter Commission sold caskets, the rest of us worked in various fields.

The Charter Commission was authorized by voters and the membership was elected at the same election. We had one year to work together to write a Charter which is akin to a Constitution. The charter needed to resolve conflicts in town laws, bylaws and state laws as they affected the town specifically, as well as provide for town boards and commissions structure and function.

The Charter Commission held weekly open meeting and several public hearings where sections of the proposed new charter were debated by the voters and commission members.

One year after the Charter was authorized and the members elected the finished product of the printed new proposed town charter was in hands of every voter to be voted up or down as a whole.  The voters approved and accepted the new charter by a comfortable margin.

The point is we volunteered to serve one year on the town Charter Commission to write from scratch the document which outlined the operation of the town and we succeeded. We succeeded because we worked together, debated, and came to agreement in full view of the public and press.

The Charter Commission is but one example of how this country of ours became great. We can do it again.

Let’s keep Chick-fil-A.

Let’s eradicate the Chick-fil-A Derangement Syndrome.

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2019/04/05/chick-fil-a-derangement-syndrome/