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save.ca

Insurance companies amaze me sometimes. Something like one little speeding ticket or a minor fender-bender, and everything changes. Your monthly payment sky-rockets. They no longer trust you. Simply for doing the human thing of making a mistake, you henceforth are placed on insurance detention. They not only record the minor mishap, but your previously good relationship with them goes sour from merely one mistake. One little blunder results in a tarnished relationship.

Too often we can be the same way in our relationships with one another. Someone commits a few small sins against us and look out; like the graceless insurance company, the relationship gutters. We place them on our spiritual detention list for relational prosecution. We are no longer trusting, but suspecting. We are no longer caring, but gossiping. We are no longer inviting, but ignoring. We are no longer loving, but judging. And we are sinning.

“Love…does not take into account a wrong suffered” (1 Cor. 13:5).

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A little over a year ago Steven Furtick, a Pastor in North Carolina, preached a sermon called “It Works Both Ways.” Recently on his Facebook page he took a two minute clip from that sermon and posted it on his facebook page.

broken 10 commandmentsIn short he paints a picture of a parent who finds his child with a severe head injury after having fallen off of the monkey bars. The parent scoops the child up and heads for the car. As he begins driving, he doesn’t even notice the speed limits and even if he did he wouldn’t obey them, because of his love for his child. Similarly, Furtick says “God broke the law for love.” God after giving us the law, displayed his love by breaking it. In essence he loved us more than His own love.

There are many problems with this theologically and philosophically but it is not my purpose in this post to detail them. (If you’re interested in those Tim Challies wrote a very helpful post here)

The reason why the allegation that God broke the law particularly bothered me, and what I am hoping to demonstrate in this post, is that even a simple reading of a single chapter in the Gospel of Luke would show how meticulous Mary, Joseph and Jesus were in making sure Jesus kept the whole law precisely. As we have been teaching through Luke in our young adults group it is clear that in order for Jesus to be the mediator between God and man, He had to be the perfectly obedient God-Man. In fact, so great was the Trinity’s concern for keeping the law, that the One who was being sent to fulfill the law was placed in a family that would be meticulous in their obedience to all the law’s demands in bearing and raising Jesus.

Here are four brief examples from just one chapter of Luke’s Gospel which demonstrate Jesus and His family’s obedience to the law.

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24-7One effective incentive to keep prisoners compliant is the rewarding of good behavior with extended visiting hours for family. One correctional facility in Spain, the Aranjuez Prison, boasts some of the most docile and well behaved prisoners in the world. As long as inmates remain submissive and appear punctually for roll call, they are permitted to have their entire family stay with them in prison indefinitely.

Of course, the spouse and children are permitted to come and go as they please, as long as they don’t smuggle contraband items to the jailbirds. This is a perk that could very easily be abused, and yet it is exceptionally rare that anyone violates the rules, for fear of losing the great privilege of unlimited access to loved ones.

I wonder how seriously you would take your sanctification and your own holiness if you knew you could lose your uninhibited access to visit with God?

Moses was one who truly grasped what a goldmine it was to meet with God. He never got bored, in fact he got greedy for more of God’s glory. Consider what led to this jaw-dropping honor…

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Empty Tomb 1Last week, we looked at the significance the resurrection has as it relates to Jesus’ Himself. The resurrection identifies Jesus as the Second Adam, the seed of the woman, the Seed of Abraham, and the Son of David. It also vindicates the testimony He had given about Himself.

This week and next, I want to consider the significance of the resurrection for believers. What implications does the resurrection have for the people of God? In fact, every aspect of our salvation—our regeneration, our justification, our sanctification, and our glorification—is tied in some way to Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

The Ground of Regeneration

1 Peter 1:3 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

Peter says our new birth comes through the resurrection of Christ. Our new spiritual life that is born in our regeneration has its source in Christ’s resurrection life.

And we are made to share in that resurrection life through union with Him. Ephesians 2:5–6 says that while we were dead in our transgressions, God “made us alive together with Christ . . . and raised us up with Him.” Because of the union that believers have with Christ, Scripture says that our spiritual resurrection in our being born again has its source in Jesus’ bodily resurrection.

And so the resurrection is the ground of our regeneration.

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workingsheepdog.co.uk

Amusing sheep stories abound. Some of my moments of more rigorous chortling have been in response to real-life sheep tragi-comedies. One of the more recent involves what is called the “Draad Kruiper,” which I heard from my good friend, Pastor Anton Van Straaten. “Draad Kruiper” is Afrikaans for, “fence crawler.” The story goes like this: Continue Reading…

The Foundry Bible Immersion is a ten-week discipleship program for college-aged students (ages 18-25). Located at Immanuel Bible Church in the Washington D.C. area, this program is focused on preparing young people to become bold evangelists, give them deep biblical and theological knowledge, and to expose them to all the ways that they can serve in the local church.

A little over a year ago we sent out a call: was there anyone who was crazy enough to move to Washington D.C. for ten weeks to read the entire Bible, do evangelism, learn theology, missions, and more in the classroom? Well six students decided to take us up on it. Here is the impact God had in their lives through the program, in their own words:

Abby Breyer – Arizona

imageI have two words for the 10 weeks I spent at The Foundry Bible Immersion: LIFE CHANGING!! People ask me what the biggest take away is, honestly, ALL of it was so impactful. It is very difficult to say something short about this program because God did many incredible things.  God showed me His sovereignty on a whole new level, He showed me this through reading the Bible at the pace we did, through the teachings, through evangelism, through the daily routine I had with the other students, He continually showed me that He is in control always, that what man means for evil God uses it for good. I got to see how great our awesome God is in the smallest of things and in the biggest of thing on this trip. A verse that is applicable for what I experienced and need to continue applying everyday is “He must increase, but I must decrease” – John 3:30. That is something I learned continually, I must be humble at the feet of Jesus so God will increase and get the glory, so I may see His sovereignty over everything! Through the 10 weeks I was super encouraged and spurred on to do missions even more than ever before, I have a stronger passion and love to serve Jesus and I love Him and understand God’s Word more because of this trip. Unforgettable and forever changed because of this program. Thanks and praise be to God for His faithfulness.

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I’m sure you’ve encountered the quirky literary technique sometimes employed to drive plots in some novels and serials known as the doppelgänger. A doppelgänger is the look alike of another character. In popular fiction the doppelgänger is usually a foil for the protagonist, often as an evil twin or as a deliberate double. Examples are Twelfth Night, Tale of Two Cities, The Man in the Iron Mask, Dave, and Superman III.kirk doppelganger

At the climax of the story, a third character is often called upon to authenticate one of the two. This resolves tension in the denouement. A classic technique is to quiz both with personal questions that would stump the evil twin. Other traps include luring the doppelgänger into eating food the real character is allergic to, or challenging the doppelgänger to a task only the good guy can do.

But my favorite unveiling is in Star Trek: The Original Series in the 1969 episode “Whom Gods Destroy.” Spock encounters Captain Kirk being imitated by a shapeshifter. They get into a fight and the one Kirk orders Spock to shoot them both to prevent the imposter from escaping. Knowing that only the real Kirk would sacrifice himself for the safety of the Enterprise, Spock stuns the other one.

Psalm 1 supplies us with a tried and tested technique to discern between the righteous and the unrighteous.

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He Has RisenLast Sunday morning, the people of God celebrated the triumphant victory of King Jesus, who died for our sins according to the Scriptures, who was buried in a borrowed tomb, and who three days later rose from the grave, triumphant and victorious over sin and death. And on Resurrection Sunday, we always say that our worship of Christ for His resurrection isn’t something that happens only once a year, but rather is something we do all year round. But I’ve found that that’s not always the case. It’s easy for the busy-ness of life, or even just the next sermon series to replace disciplined and sustained meditation on the significance of the resurrection.

So I want to do some post-Resurrection-Day resurrection reflection. And today I want to focus particularly on the biblical and theological significance of the resurrection with respect to the person of Christ Himself. What did the resurrection mean for Jesus?

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Today I want to give a summary of the foster care case happening out in California involving a family from Grace Church and the ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act). I—along with many other pastors—have encouraged people to sign a petition about this case, so I think it requires some more explanation, and then I will close with seven recommended posts to read on the ICWA and Lexi.

The gist of the story: Lexi, a six-year-old girl in Los Angeles who had been in foster care since she was seventeen-months old, was placed with a family from Grace Church (where John MacArthur pastors) for the last four years. The family, the Pages, began the process of adopting Lexi after her biological parents both ceased reunification efforts.

In a typial foster-adopt situation, here is what happens: the court would appoint the child an attorney/advocate, who would meet with her, meet with the foster-adopt parents, and meet with any other extended family who want to pursue adoption. The child’s advocate then makes a recommendation to the court based on what would be in the child’s best interest and the court gives its verdict.

But because Lexi is Native American (she is 1/64 Choctaw), the LA County Department of Family and Children’s Services did not follow this approach. Because of the ICWA—a federal law which mandates that in the adoption proceedings of a Native American child that the Indian Tribe get the final say in their placement—the LA County DFCS moved to block the adoption in court, and remove Lexi to extended family in Utah.

Three different times trial courts cited the ICWA and sided with DFCS in wanting Lexi moved to Utah, but the first two times the court was reversed on appeal. The third decision is being appealed now, but while the appeal was pending, DFCS transferred Lexi to Utah.

Now if this were just about one girl, one family, and one church, I probably wouldn’t be blogging on it. But there are several elements of this case that intersect a biblical world view, so I want to address them here. Continue Reading…

March 30, 2016

The Healthy Soul

by Eric Davis

Planting Edible Quail Foliage 1In a recent effort to diversify my smoothie recipes (I currently know of two), I accidentally made one that was actually good and healthy (so I thought). When I shared it with a good friend, they suggested that it was, unfortunately, sub-par on the “healthy” scale. If I would have added things like collagen and other forgotten-phrases from ninth-grade, Oregonian biology, then it might have passed the healthy test.

But it was a reminder that we live in a time of perhaps unprecedented fixation with being healthy. It’s no longer enough to eat fruit and veggies. Now, you have to eat organic, sustainable, raw, uncooked, not-in-the-dirty-dozen fruits and veggies. It’s no longer enough to eat a balanced diet. You have to eat a gluten-free, paleo, superfood diet. It’s not enough to eat eggs. You have to eat eggs from a free-range quail, with a name, fed on organic wheat grass in a gentle-noise barnyard. And it’s no longer enough to moderately exercise a few times a week. You have to do HIT, P90X, or Crossfit. And I’m sure people could find something wrong even with the things I’ve mentioned. It’s nearly become a form of salvation. In many circles, various views of healthy eating become a form of imposed righteousness.

o-SMOOTHIE-INGREDIENTS1-900Now, those things are not necessarily bad, in and of themselves. It’s good to put in effort to steward our earthly tents. But, none of them will deliver physiological utopia. That will only come through a spiritual upgrade. Bodily discipline is only of some profit (1 Tim. 4:8). And “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17).

Spiritual health, on the other hand, is beneficial for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and the one to come (1 Tim. 4:8). So, simple math indicates that one ought to give the most effort to that which pays the highest dividends. With that, here are a few signs of spiritual health in our lives.

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