Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

7.29.2011

Damsel in Distress

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I have always been addicted to tales of damsels in distress, but maybe that’s just me.  I practically had the page numbers memorized in the Elsie Dinsmore series wherein she either fainted, became sick with the ever convenient “brain fever,” or was rescued from a villain.  I loved the G.A. Henty books, but I especially adored the predictable rescue scene in each where a lovely, virtuous young woman was rescued by a chivalrous, broad-shouldered young man.  My sisters and I reveled in a particular episode of The Waltons in which Elizabeth, in melodramatic slow motion, broke her leg and we were on the edges of our seats wondering if she would walk again.  Even my own writing often ran along these lines, and hardly a story was complete without a dramatic injury, which was the best I could do since Papa banned me from morbidly killing off my characters!  

That is all a bit embarassing, sappy, silly, corny, and sentimental.    Nevertheless, within balance there is nothing inherently wrong with the storyline of a man rescuing a woman, except, perhaps, from a literary standpoint.  After all, women are the weaker vessels, and God did create men to protect and lead women.  I Peter 3:7 says,
“Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”
I don’t see myself joining the ranks of the feminists who find the damsel in distress tale revolting any time soon.  However, one tiny verse in Proverbs has recently challenged me to consider this storyline on a deeper level.  Proverbs 24:10 says simply,

“If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.”
Period. 
While there are worse things than fainting when that snake slithers over my hand, necessitating a rescue by my little brother (it will teach him manliness, right?), what will happen if I am faced with a poisonous snake ready to bite my toddler?

While getting all lightheaded when a sibling whittles his finger may not seem like a crucial weakness, will I be weak-kneed and chicken-hearted when I’m in a life-and-death emergency involving gushing blood and a machete instead of a pocket-knife?

While needing to be rescued may seem romantic and beautiful, what will I do when I am being mocked and threatened for my faith and there is no one around to rescue me?

We may love to read tales of fainting princesses being rescued by knights, and while rescues have their place, God wants His princesses to have strength in the day of adversity.  The good news for us is that strength isn’t always physical.  Only a few verses earlier in Proverbs we are told,
“A wise man is strong, Yes, a man of knowledge increases strength.” –Proverbs 24:5

Perpetua didn’t faint in the face of the lions—she was a woman of strength.  Dolley Madison didn’t faint in the face of enemies and fire—she, too, was a woman of strength.  Mary, mother of Jesus, and Jael, tent-peg-dispatcher of the enemy Sisera, hold their own places in the Feminine yet Strong Hall of Fame. 

Being a feminine woman does not at all mean playing the part of the damsel in distress when adversity comes, contrary to the boxed-in stereotype.  In fact, you have not attained true Biblical femininity unless you have cultivated womanly strength.  What better passage can I appeal to on the subject of femininity than Proverbs 31?  Proverbs 31:25 indeed says,
“Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in time to come.”
 It is true that we women are weaker, and our bodies cannot tolerate as much as men can.  That is how God created us.  Therein, dear sisters, lies our secret.  Ours is this promise:
“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”    
-2 Corinthians 12:9
 
 I was truly a damsel in distress when Christ redeemed me.  I now can boast with great boastings that I am the weakest, the shortest, the scrawniest, and the most foolish, so that anyone who says, “There is a damsel of strength!” will know that it is nothing, nothing in me.  It is only and all the power of Christ resting upon this damsel. 



Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

7.26.2011

Life Planning at Five

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As a child, I hated it, but as an adult, I often resort to it—the what-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up question is the all-important query for children ages 3 through 18. I wrote about struggling to answer this question in my post "What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?" Is our identity as Christians so tied up in what we do and how we earn money that this question is the number one topic we can think to put to kids? How often have we asked this question? We’re looking for answers like pilot, president, ice cream man, veterinarian, or teacher. And from there, the prescribed dialogue dictates that we encourage the child in his dream and find out how he intends to get there.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t think children are wrong for dreaming about how they will use their time in the future. I don’t think we are wrong for being interested in these children’s hopes and dreams. However, I do think we are wrong to continually emphasize an occupation over other things through our faithful repetition of that age-old question.

Let me remind you of that sobering parable in Luke 12:19-21:

“And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

We’re going at this all wrong—from the world’s perspective, instead of God’s. We’re perpetuating a worldview that is greedy and self-centered when we ask a six year old about his chosen profession, whether we realize it or not. Don’t ask “What do you want to be when you grow up?” (That is, “What is the most exciting prospect to you?”) Instead, try, “How do you think God wants to use you?” or, “How are you serving God right now?”

Most of the time, to be honest, Christians do not know what God wants us to be when we grow up. We do not have things figured out, and we do not know how God is going to use us in five years, let alone ten. I have a vision and a hope for the next ten, twenty, or fifty years, but I do not have a certainty or a knowledge because I am committed to following God's plan and not mine. I Corinthians 2:1-5 and 10 says,

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. But as it is written:

‘ Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’”

Obviously, the most important part of life is not excellence of speech, human wisdom, or persuasive powers. God may be calling you to writing, medicine, or law, but I should be much less excited and impressed by those exciting and impressive avenues of study—I should be most excited and impressed by your spiritual power and love for God.

Fourteen years ago, Melanie was challenged by Rebecca, a wonderful friend and, at that time, her Sunday School teacher, to respond to the what-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up question with Mark 12:30:

“’And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.”

Help me out, ladies and gentlemen—what questions can you think of to inspire the children in your life and get them talking, without placing all the emphasis on academic, worldly, or money-making occupations and while letting God plan each step of the way? Let’s reject the world’s priorities and challenge even the five year olds we know to start seeking God’s priorities instead. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!



Photo Credit: horizontal.integration

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

7.22.2011

Breaking News on the Event of the Year


LONG BEACH, WA: Rain was no match for the seasoned Heritage Bible Church Campers who gathered at Long Beach, Washington last weekend for an intense time of all things wonderful and refreshing.  They thronged to the campsite in a suprising array of twelve passenger vans and suburbans, carrying vast supplies of food and chocolate.  This reporter trailed along to keep you up-to-date on all the strange goings-on of this group. 
Babies also seemed to be in vast supply to this reporter.  However, despite the fact that the median age of the campers was 2, there never seemed to be enough babies to fill the arms that wanted to hold them! 




You would not expect a symphony orchestra at a campground, but there very nearly was one at this camp. The only thing missing was a saxaphone, it would seem. 
They all seemed to get a bizarre thrill out of a song called "Father Abraham."  Some people began the song at a leisurely trot, but a quick glance at the Heritage Bible people convinced them to break into a quick jog at the very least! 



See?  I wasn't kidding about the orchestra! 

These five men were the speakers of the weekend--the Craig men, who were also quite talented musicians and vocalists!  Their family fit right in with the other families, and from all the laughing, fellowshipping, counseling, and jovial ribbing, I know some lasting friendships were formed. 

Their sermons were quite revolutionary, and they were all concerning the topic of glorifying God in your family.  These godly men pointed out that relationships expose sin, which is why we run from relationships.  They shared that you will only be as strong as your relationships are.  Several times, they challenged young people specifically, frankly stating that they do not have a vision for passing on a godly heritage yet it is vital that they do become visionary.  Every word was rich with sincerity, truth, and opportunity for application. 
They spoke with conviction, power, and many "believe-me-I've-tried-this" anecdotes that had everyone chuckling. 
A question and answer time yielded some good discussion time. 

 





S'mores were a delicacy not to be missed, in which I may or may not have indulged one or more times.  I can't confirm, but the coconut marshmallows with Reese's peanut butter cups sandwiched between golden graham crackers may or may not have been delectable.  

The young folk made a beeline for the dirt, where they dug to China over the weekend and emerged muddy, yet happy and very satisfied. 


A certain family (of which Lauren and Mikaela are members) was in charge of games, and I was quite  shocked when they all made their entrance with sunglasses and stern glares, then prepared to inform us of a deep historical tale of intrigue and suspense, involving lost Old Testament pages which make up the most accurate copy of the Old Testament.  This game was a week-long event which resulted in hilarity and confusion too fascinating to do justice in this short space.

A strange game called Dutch Blitz seemed to be very popular, but I didn't even venture to join--the competition was too hard-core and the cards were flying too fast to even see.  But these people must have liked it--they stayed up until midnight to finish tournaments of it!  

Family games were held in the rain, with not an umbrella to be seen, but smiles in abundance! 







The food was fabulous, and all of the people at this camp were refreshingly eager and cheerful to jump up and do dishes, wipe tables, chop lettuce, and serve in general.  Singing, laughing, and talking generally accompanied the work as well. 
A five-year old volleyball champ! 
This was an example of family harmony, unity...and fun!
Amazing volleyball move...
Flabbergasting volleyball move...
Even more volleyball and soccer moves that would blow you over...
Wet tents and rain notwithstanding, by the end of the weekend, I was quite impressed with this group!  I'm beginning to understand why the Heritage Bible Church Family Camp is called the event of the year. 


 By: Laurence B. Newsy

7.19.2011

Pass on the Vision

The lyrics of a hymn I wrote several years ago.

Standards churn and people fail;

Etern’ty leaves their eyes.

Gone the children, lost, the war;

Purpose wastes and vision dies.

Photo Credit

The time is now, the crisis here;

Proclaim God’s strength, proclaim God’s strength,

To this generation,

And His power to the future!



Abram knew the heart of God:

God’s heart became his dream.

Abram’s dream has transformed lives;

Lives who live His lifelong theme.



The time is now, the crisis here;

Proclaim God’s strength, proclaim God’s strength,

To this generation,

And His power to the future!



Prove to Isaacs yet to come,

God’s praises strength and truth.

Shout His works abroad to all:

Rise! You men, women, and youth!



The time is now, the crisis here;

Proclaim God’s strength, proclaim God’s strength,

To this generation,

And His power to the future!







Photo used by by permission under the Creative Commons License. Created by todoloko.

7.15.2011

Her Passion

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She was just an average young woman who was standing in line.  She was about twenty-two, and from a well-off family.  She was the mother of a dark-haired,precocious baby boy, and she loved her husband and son with all of her heart.  She had dreams just like the rest of us.  She was going to homeschool her son, so that he would not be indoctrinated by the state schools.  She was going to take care of her parents in their old age, and let her son take care of her in hers.  She dreamed of seeing her parents find the faith that she had.  She was going to make a difference in her country, which was fast sliding into the swamp of depravity and debauchery.  She hated the abortion that was so commonplace, and passionately wanted to see it ended. 
 
She was a follower of Jesus—a Christian.
 The line was moving now, the five other people surrounding Perpetua walking with firm, decisive steps.  The lights began to glare, and the noise began to batter her ears so excruciatingly that nausea dropped like a curtain over her.  Her husband’s gentle smile floated into her mind, and then the picture of that day when she had decided to take the step of baptism and had joined the requisite classes.  It had been a sunlit day, and yet she remembered holding her baby boy close for an eternity that evening, while a tear or two dropped upon his velvet cheek. 
Perpetua felt a shove from behind and stumbled.  The crowd roared even more, and as she lifted up her intent eyes to meet the stare of the people in the stadium, they could not hold her gaze, and they turned away uncomfortably.  A few of them Perpetua recognized as friends of her parents, and the realization overwhelmed her with the memory of the last time she had seen her father. 
It was at the sentencing, after she had been imprisoned for her faith in Jesus Christ.  Each one of her friends was thrown in front of the governor.  Each one was asked, “Will you sacrifice in worship to the Emperor?”  Each one raised their bruised heads and replied in as ringing a tone as they could muster, “No; I am a Christian, and Christ is Lord.” 
It was finally Perpetua’s turn, and as the guard prodded her in the back with the edge of his sword, she wet her dry lips, prepared to seal her death sentence for Christ.  But suddenly, her father had rushed in, carrying her precious son.  He grabbed her, and his faded eyes gazed with intense love into hers as he begged, “Perpetua, perform the sacrifice. Have pity on your baby!” 

The governor saw an opportunity and added his voice to her father’s: “Have pity on your father’s grey head; have pity on your infant son. Offer the sacrifice for the welfare of the Emperor.”

Most compelling of all, her baby boy held out his arms to her with a heart-wrenching cry. 

And though tears had filled her own eyes, Perpetua turned from the easy choice, putting life behind her for once and for all, and said decisively, “I will not.” 

“Are you a Christian then?” asked the governor.

“Yes I am,” Perpetua replied without a moment’s hesitation, her clear eyes pinning him with that same intense stare. 

And with that, she sealed her fate, even as her father was beaten for desperately appealing to his daughter one last time. 

And now, condemned to die, this Carthaginian girl, barely in the bloom of womanhood, was striding onto the stage of her own death, the trench for her own blood, the arena of her brutal martyrdom for the entertainment of hundreds of heartless people.            

And through all of these memories, the words of a psalm pierced Perpetua’s soul with their comfort and appeal to God, and this young woman on the brink of death began to sing.  At first, the onlookers hardly noticed, so hoarse and quiet was her lone voice, but it only took a few measures before all six of the condemned were pouring their hearts out to God through the simple psalm.  A few of the watchers paused, wondering where that faint yet sweet melody could be coming from, and the voices of Perpetua and her fellow Christians rang as they marched to the death. 

Witnesses described Perpetua in the arena as “young and beautiful”, “a pure and modest Christian lady”, “with shining countenance and calm step, as the beloved of God, as a bride of Christ.” 

And she was only twenty-two.  Shortly before this day at the stadium, Perpetua wrote, “I understood that I should fight, not with beasts but against the devil; but I knew that mine was the victory.” 

To the bloodthirsty screams of the onlookers, the Christians were beaten.  To their violence-lusting shrieks a wild heifer was let loose to charge the group of Christians, and Perpetua was hurtled onto her back.  To the audience’s maniacal chants for more, a leopard was released into the stadium, and blood did begin to flow, but not fast enough for the audience.   To their murderous shouts, Perpetua was hauled up, barely conscious, and lined up with the other five bloodied Christians.  Then they were murdered by the sword, and then the audience’s insatiable bloodlust was satisfied momentarily.    

Perpetua’s body lay lifeless and still on the arena floor, her spirit in Heaven in the presence of the Lord she refused to deny.  But the testimony of that bloody and battered body still speaks, over 1800 years later.  And the testimony in her own words of her martyrdom and unfailing allegiance to Christ she wrote for us, her sisters and brothers in Christ centuries removed, as if to say, “Make Christ the Lord of your life, dear ones, and care not for this short breath of time on earth.” 

She wrote of her death, “It will all happen in the prisoner's dock as God wills, for you may be sure that we are not left to ourselves but are all in his power.”  She was only twenty-two, and Christ was the Lord of her life and her death.   

Read Perpetua's journal from prison, The Passion of Saints Perpetua and Felicity , recounting her imprisonment, and the testimony of her martyrdom from a fellow Christian. This account is one of the earliest pieces of writing by a Christian woman.

A Christianity Today Article with more information on this incredible woman of God. 

7.12.2011

The Sky is Rising!

Chicken Little never seems to go away—there is always someone, somewhere crying out that the sky is about to cave in. I feel like Chicken Little every day when I think about America—when I look at our unfathomable debt, the swindle that is Social Security, and the increasing depravity of the citizens. And then I realize that there is hope.

With the 2010 Census results recently released, there came a shocking prediction: by 2023, minorities—everyone except for non-Hispanic, single race whites—will account for more than half of all children, and by 2042, minorities will become the majority. By 2050, the 65 and older group will have more than doubled. The Hispanic population is expected to triple, with black and Asian people groups growing steadily as well. In 40 years’ time, the non-Hispanic, single race white population will increase only very slightly, and the total share of the population will drop from 66% of the population to 46% [1].

In 2050, we will be living in a very different America. Or will we? While superficial things like the color of people’s skin, or the number of Mexican restaurants on a block, or holidays and traditions might change, it will only be because the United States is continuing in a grand tradition of building a country out of international immigrants. The skin color of the 21st century immigrants has changed, but the principle remains the same.

In fact, these immigrants are our country’s only chance of survival. While the long-established American citizens are busy pursuing the “American Dream” and having 2.06 children in their lifetime—barely enough to maintain the population—immigrants, and Hispanics specifically, are having larger families. Because of this, our population of 15-to-64 year-olds between now and 2050 may grow as much as 42%. And while critics complain about overpopulation, many countries in the rest of the world will be in deep distress by 2050. According to a recent Smithsonian article, “the number of young and working-age people is expected to decline elsewhere: by 10 percent in China, 25 percent in Europe, 30 percent in South Korea and more than 40 percent in Japan [2].”

The U.S. population growth, at .96 %, is certainly not impressive, but compared to Europe, it is huge. At quadruple that of Denmark, triple that of Belgium, double that of Great Britain and France, and larger than Canada, the United States is one of the only great nations in the world set to grow, rather than decline. Russia and Japan are already negative in their growth rate [3].


So what does all this mean? It certainly does not give us reason to continue in the status quo, grateful that there will actually be someone after us to clean up our mess. The projected 458 million US citizens in 2050 should inspire all 308 million of us in 2011 to work harder, with greater vision and clarity. To give up now, with great sighs of devestation, and loud declarations of our country’s doom, is cowardly. To laugh at our debt, shake our head at elections, and wring our hands over the spiritual state of our nation is foolish. America is not dead—America is growing, thanks not to her citizens, but to her immigrants. It is up to us to ensure that America grows strong and solid in the next forty years, remaining a power to be reckoned with in the world, but more importantly, becoming once again a beacon of Christian charity, love, and freedom to the countries around us.

 
Photo taken by Amanito. Used with permission.

[1] “An Older and More Diverse Nation by Midcentury.” August 14, 2008. U.S. Census Bureau. http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/population/cb08-123.html


[2] Kotkin, Joel. “Ready, Set, Grow.” Smithsonian, Vol. 41, No. 4: July/August 2010.


[3] The World Factbook 2009. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2009.

7.08.2011

In the Land of If

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My mom used to practically inform me when I needed a good dose of reality, “I don’t live in the land of ‘If’,” which always amused me to no end, wondering just what that land looked like.  But at other times she would indulge our imaginations and join us in creating lands with our minds, which is exactly where I feel like going this morning.

"If" I truly loved others, and, for that matter, "If" all Christians truly loved others:
  • I would refuse to gossip about anybody.
  • There would be an increase in church discipline. 
  • I would never argue with siblings. 
  • “Rights? What are those?” 
  • I would be too busy showing love to be nosy. 
  • I would never have to wonder what that person really, truly thinks about me.
  • Half-hour long discussions about whose turn it is to do that chore would be a thing of the past.
  • I would pray for others, and not only those who are in the hospital.
  • I would listen more.
  • I would find my selfishness had disappeared.
  • I would witness to everyone I met.
  • Lawsuits wouldn’t exist.
  • The word “grudge” would grow archaic and would only be used in reference to unbelievers or in historical fiction.
  • I wouldn’t give a second thought to letting someone borrow something from me.
  • I would accept criticism without defending myself.
  • I would never have a surplus of money.
  • I would be sending many more e-mails.
  • The world would know that I am a Christian. (John 13:35)
  • I wouldn't have to worry about a lack of joy in my life.
It's the simplicity of Scripture's command to love that makes it confusing. Because that’s how humans work: the more direct and simple the truth, the more eager we are to start backpedaling away from it. Take I John 3:14-16:


“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”


That Scripture is as clear as the water in your glass, and if we must explain it, it is because we are like the Gap theorists or progressive evolutionists who cannot accept that what Genesis says is true.   I John says, “He who does not love his brother abides in death.  Whoever hates his brother is a murderer.” But does death really mean death, or does it just mean something else? If I don’t love that person, am I really as bad as Casey Anthony?… In other words,


“Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" -Genesis 3:1


You see, it really is so very simple.
John 13:35 says,

 
"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
Here's another "If" while we're in that land: "If no Christian is showing love, then how do we know who is truly saved?"
And one final "If": "If I were to get started on living that list of love right now..."

Love is no make-believe utopia land--it's the true test of Christianity.


Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.





7.05.2011

Victory


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 "Come--and say hello to her," Grandpa G. urged. We walked into his neat bedroom, crowded with the condensed treasures of two people's lives. And in the far corner, on a bed right next to a light-filled window, lay Grandma G. Although we're not actually related at all, they are the grandparents of close friends, and have thus become grandparents by proxy.

I tried to rouse her as Grandpa G. wished--I rubbed her shoulder and spoke to her, first softly, and then briskly. And to my surprise, she wouldn't wake. Only the warmth of her skin and her slow, shallow breathing assured me that she was alive. Only two weeks ago, she had been up and in her wheelchair--but even then, the vacant blue eyes had told how much Alzheimer's had robbed from her. Only one month ago, she had actually responded to my greeting with an intelligible question--and Grandpa G. and I had looked at each other in awe, feeling that a small miracle had occurred.

Now, here we were, unable to even bring her to consciousness; Grandpa G. rubbing her feet and speaking loudly to her about her visitor, and urging me to continue to try to wake her. Finally, I suggested music.

"Oh--can you bring it in here?" Grandpa G. asked eagerly. I consented, and while I got out my violin, I mentally chose the song I would play.

"Can you play Brahms?" he asked, interrupting my thoughts.

"Uh, Brahms? Well, uh..." I hesitated, and he began to hum--the Brahms' Lullaby. To my shock, I couldn't remember if I had ever actually played the piece before, but I put up my violin, chose the key, and began, confident that my ear would guide me. Grandpa G. joined in, singing the German lyrics in his aged but still rich, deep voice.

There we were--an old, old gentleman with pain in his body, sorrow in his heart, and the wisdom of a lifetime of incredible experiences in his past, singing with me--a lively, outspoken girl with dreams as high as Mt. Rainier, and many, many things to learn. We played and sang this old lullaby, serenading an elegant, godly woman in the twilight of her life. And the love in her husband's eyes as he sang to her, and the sorrow in the room as she never once stirred, and the awe I felt to participate in such a moment--these are things I will never forget.

I only saw Grandma G. once more before her spirit left her broken body and went to be with her Lord and Saviour. As difficult as her death is for her family and friends, there is also rejoicing, because she is no longer a tortured prisoner of her own body--she is basking in the presence of God, free of pain and sorrow.

"Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory.'
      'O Death, where is your sting?
      O Hades, where is your victory?'
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." I Corinthians 15:51-58


Photo courtesy of Mr TGT

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson,
   Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

7.01.2011

John Piper is Human, Too

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Godly men and women—pastors, authors, speakers, missionaries—have impacted my life, and you may have heard of some of them. Many of them are Christian leaders and, dare I say, “superstars” of Christianity today. People like John Piper, John MacArthur, Alistair Begg, Beth Moore, Voddie Baucham, Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin, Ken Ham, and Matt Chandler are just a few examples.

These are men and women who have dedicated everything to God without reserve, laid it all on the line without hesitation, searched the Scriptures with diligence, and proclaimed God’s truth with boldness. These are Christian leaders with whom I largely agree, and whom I tend to hold on a pedestal far far away from me. Come to think of it, perhaps pedestal is an understatement—it might be more accurate to venture that they’re on another planet from me, and someday when space exploration is feasible for us laypeople I may be able to board a shuttle to visit for a few minutes.

Hold the spacecraft: I smell smoke!

I am sure that all of these people would be the first to exclaim, “We are human!” And though we know that in our heads, when we still treat them as though they are an earthly anomaly of perfection, capable of higher theological understanding, we are in danger of abandoning our Berean-esque critical thinking and Scripture-searching skills, and indeed the Holy Spirit Himself.

The fact of the matter is that of the Christians in the list I gave above, I seriously doubt that there is one with whom I would agree on every doctrinal and spiritual issue. Some I agree with more than others, some I can think of disagreements with immediately, and with others, I scratch my head to think of one area of disagreement with them, yet know that one probably exists. These are not argumentative disagreements, or disagreements on areas foundational to salvation, or disagreements that exclude them from my favorite authors or speakers list. Yet they persist as a reminder to me to never, ever become so comfortable with one person’s teaching that I fail to check it out against Scripture.

I discount not one iota of the enormous impact that godly men and women have had in my life and in the lives of many of you, but I challenge you never to swallow any blogpost here or sermon there without first checking the ingredients against Scripture.

Because how is such an attitude of total veneration of one Christian any different than the attitude of the Catholic clergyman who declared to William Tyndale, “We are better to be without God’s laws than the Pope’s”? Do we not sometimes act as though we would rather be without Scripture than our John MacArthur commentary or our favorite theologian’s exposition on doctrine?

Apparently this is not a new issue, for Paul wrote of it to the Corinthian church. Try substituting the names of some of those who have been influential in your Christian life in here:

“For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.
So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building.”
-I Corinthians 3:4-7,9

It is easy to simply label yourself: I am a Calvinist. I like John Piper. I read So Much More. In fact, it is vastly easier than testifying of how you are God’s field and God’s building: sharing your life verse; elaborating on what God has been teaching you doctrinally, theologically, and practically; and revealing where you are in the sanctification process. But no one said Christianity was easy, and I challenge you as well as myself to move away from what is, according to Scripture, carnal labeling.


“Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come--all are yours. And you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.”
-I Corinthians 3:21-23
Hi, I’m Lauren. The most important thing you should know about me is that I am Jesus Christ’s. I am a Christian.



Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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