Wise Words Regarding World Vision

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Update: Two days after changing its policy regarding employees in same-sex marriages, World Vision announced that it had chosen to reverse the decision and to once again affirm its support of the biblical definition of marriage.   If you haven’t … Continue reading

Women of the Word

John Piper: If you believe that the Bible is the Word of God with authority over your life, it takes a good deal of humility to interpret it correctly. The reason is simple: the Bible often requires of us that … Continue reading

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“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Prov. 18:13). It is arrogant to answer before you hear. Humility does not presume that it knows precisely what a person is asking until the questioner has finished asking the question.

How many times have I jumped to a wrong conclusion by starting to formulate my answer before I heard the whole question! Often it is the last word in the question that turns the whole thing around and makes you realize that the questioner is not asking what you thought he was.

It is rude to answer a half-asked question. Rude is a useful word for Christians. It means “ill-mannered, discourteous.” The New Testament word for it is aschēmonei. It is used in 1 Corinthians 13:5, where modern versions translate it, “Love is not rude…”

Not answering a question before you hear it all honors and respects the person asking the question. It treats the person as though his words really matter. It is belittling to another to presume to be able to finish his question before he does.

Proverbs 18:13 says it is our “folly” to answer before we hear. That is, it will make us a fool. One reason for this is that almost all premature answers are based on thinking we know all we need to know. But that is “foolish.” Our attitude should be: What can I learn from this question? The fool thinks he knows all he needs to know.

~John Piper in “Listening Before Answering

Photo: OBMonkey

Just Another Birthday

“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, 
   the fruit of the womb a reward.”

Psalm 127:3

I read these heartbreaking statistics in an article at LifeNews.com yesterday…

The roughly 53 million children aborted since 1973 equals about 17 percent of America’s current 312 million-plus population. Nearly one-fifth of us, simply taken out of the equation…

In order to make these numbers more understandable, the author Allan Sears explained that the number of lives lost through legalized abortion in the U.S. is now equal to the combined populations of California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Arizona. Unspeakable tragedy.

Many churches across the country set apart this past Sunday as Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Designating one day each year to focus on this vital issue is good, but as Christians, we need to believe and help others understand that the sanctity of human life must be recognized and protected every day of the year.

As we influence our culture with the love and truth of Christ, perhaps many more will be allowed to see and celebrate the precious gift of life.

“Just Another Birthday” A powerful new video by Casting Crowns 

Find out how you can make a difference in the cause of life by reading John Piper’s article “Five Ways to Fight Abortion and Serve the Unborn and Their Moms” 

Photo: Michael Lorenzo

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How can you identify a woman who fears the Lord? What does she look like in action? I think that is what the acrostic of verses 10–31 [Proverbs 31] intends to give us…First of all, a woman who fears the Lord is not anxious about the future. Look at verse 25. I love this line, and I praise all you women who are like this: “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” Satan dangles in front of her the specter of tomorrow’s troubles, but she glances up at the almighty God at her right hand…and laughs at Satan’s folly. She fulfills in her own life Proverbs 14:26, “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.”

Her fear of the Lord makes her fearless of man. But it doesn’t make her naïve. She knows that the Lord has appointed some means for our safety. For example, verse 21, “She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.” Winter is a fearful thing in Minnesota, and God has appointed that we do more than pray that our feet not freeze. Clothing must be made or bought. When a woman fears the Lord, she will not be anxious about tomorrow, she will do what God has appointed for her to do and trust him in everything to show her mercy.

~John Piper in “A Woman Who Fears the Lord is to Be Praised” 

Photo: OBMonkey

The Weight Will Be Worth It

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the LORD delivers him out of them all.”

Psalm 34:19

When we’re suffering under the weight of trials, it’s difficult to think of little else besides escaping from the pressure. In this excerpt from the series Battling Unbelief, John Piper explains how God enables believers to stop running from their trials and begin rejoicing in the midst of them instead. 

Photo: Ana Labate

Watch Where You’re Going

“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…”

Hebrews 12:1-2

Running into doorframes, stubbing my toe, whacking my knee on a bedpost—such unpleasant incidents occur all too frequently in my life. More often than not, these minor mishaps are rooted in a common cause: Not watching where I’m going. It’s a simple mistake with painful consequences. Perhaps you can relate.

Whenever we allow our minds to wander from the path our feet are traveling, we run the risk of stumbling and falling. This danger is especially real in our spiritual lives where we regularly face the temptation to fixate on the actions of others instead of on the face of Christ.

In the following Q & A from Desiring God, John Piper reminds us that the key to avoiding discouragement on the path to Christlikeness may be as simple as remembering to watch where we’re going… 

How do you keep from getting discouraged when it is apparent that so many people, even in your own church, just aren’t passionate for God and his word?

I keep from getting discouraged mainly by not focusing on my people. I focus on the Lord instead. Then he gives me the heart I need for the people. If I were to focus on the world and its condition, or the church and its condition—or even my own soul and its condition—I think I would be overcome by discouragement. But that’s not where encouragement comes from.

We are to draw encouragement mainly from Christ, from his work on the cross, his resurrection power, and his intercession for us at the Father’s right hand. We should be encouraged by his promises to work all things together for our good. And we should be encouraged that one day he will come and complete history, make this creation all his own, cast out all ungodliness, and establish righteousness and peace.

It is contemplating Christ, the history of redemption, the work of the cross, and the promises of God that establish the heart. That is the most fundamental way I fight discouragement.

Another way I fight is by reflecting on and appreciating the evidences of grace that are already in the church, even in the weakest saint. Likewise, we should give thanks for the smallest evidences that the Holy Spirit has begun a work in our own lives. Because really, for all of us, that’s all he has done: “He who began a good work in you will complete it unto the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:6). He has just begun.

So look first to Christ—that’s my hope. And then look for the evidences of his grace, even in the weakest saint. And you can find them. And you can celebrate them, and then bring those people along further.

Photo: Per Hardestam

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It is plain then that when we talk of femininity we must make careful distinctions between distortions and God’s original design. “Mature femininity” refers not to what sin has made of womanhood or what popular opinion makes of it, but what God willed for it to be at its best…

The disposition of mature femininity is experienced as freeing. This is because it accords with the truth of God’s purpose in creation. It is the truth that frees (John 8:32). There are sensations of unbounded independence that are not true freedom because they deny truth and are destined for calamity.

For example, two women may jump from an airplane and experience the thrilling freedom of free-falling. But there is a difference: one is encumbered by a parachute on her back and the other is free from this burden. Which person is most free? The one without the parachute feels free-even freer, since she does not feel the constraints of the parachute straps. But she is not truly free. She is in bondage to the force of gravity and to the deception that all is well because she feels unencumbered. This false sense of freedom is in fact bondage to calamity which is sure to happen after a fleeting moment of pleasure.

That is the way many women (and men) today think of freedom. They judge it on the basis of immediate sensations of unrestrained license or independence. But true freedom takes God’s reality and God’s purpose for creation into account and seeks to fit smoothly into God’s good design. Freedom does include doing what we want to do. But the mature and wise woman does not seek this freedom by bending reality to fit her desires. She seeks it by being transformed in the renewal of her desires to fit in with God’s perfect will (Romans 12:2). The greatest freedom is found in being so changed by God’s Spirit that you can do what you love to do and know that it conforms to the design of God and leads to life and glory.

~John Piper in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Photo: OBMonkey

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If the mouth is going to be a fountain of life, what comes out of it needs to feed and heal and deliver.

I don’t choose those three things at random. I choose them because that’s what I found in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs 10:21 says, “The lips of the righteous feed many.” Proverbs 12:18 says, “The tongue of the wise brings healing.” And Proverbs 12:6 says, “The mouth of the upright delivers men.” So the mouth is a fountain of life for others because it brings forth words that feed and heal and protect.

So I close with these probing questions: Does your mouth usually feed people with the truth and substance of what you say, or does it starve people through silence or empty speech (maybe even your children)? Does your mouth usually heal people with words of grace and love and kindness, or does it wound people with insensitive, harsh, critical, unhelpful words? And does your mouth usually deliver and protect people with advocacy and partnership, or does it join the attack?

If you answer, “My mouth is too seldom a fountain of life; there is too much starving and wounding and attacking; it comes far too naturally,” then don’t try to become a factory of good works for God. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The problem is that we are not living on God as our abundance and treasure. We have turned from the abundance of God’s feeding and God’s healing and God’s deliverance. We have sought our joy and hope in other things, and our mouths bear witness that we have forsaken the fountain of life, and our hearts are starving, sick, and threatened. So return with me again to the fountain of living waters.

~John Piper in “The Mouth of the Righteous Is a Fountain of Life

Photo: OBMonkey

You Have to Believe It to See It

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God,
for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them
because they are spiritually discerned.”

1 Corinthians 2:14

In this video from The Gospel Coalition, John Piper answers a commonly debated question in a rather uncommon way. There is great truth in what
he says…

Learn more in Piper’s message “Why I Trust the Scriptures.”

Image: Billy Alexander

Scriptural Clarity on Sexual Purity

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal
of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Romans 12:2

If you’ve been following the news lately, you may be feeling heavy-hearted about the rapid changes taking place in our culture’s attitude toward homosexuality. As our society spirals deeper into moral confusion, it’s vital that true believers remain steadfast in believing and proclaiming the whole counsel of God, regardless of how politically incorrect those truths may be. When it comes to the church’s response to homosexuality, the old Adam and Eve vs. Adam and Steve jokes simply aren’t going to cut it any longer.

Over the past few days, Albert Mohler, John Piper, and John MacArthur have each modeled well how to handle this issue with wisdom and with love…

In an article for today’s edition of the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Mohler addresses the topic of “Evangelicals and the Gay Moral Revolution”:

Since we believe that the Bible is God’s revealed word, we cannot accommodate ourselves to this new morality. We cannot pretend as if we do not know that the Bible clearly teaches that all homosexual acts are sinful, as is all human sexual behavior outside the covenant of marriage. We believe that God has revealed a pattern for human sexuality that not only points the way to holiness, but to true happiness… 

In this most awkward cultural predicament, evangelicals must be excruciatingly clear that we do not speak about the sinfulness of homosexuality as if we have no sin. As a matter of fact, it is precisely because we have come to know ourselves as sinners and of our need for a savior that we have come to faith in Jesus Christ. Our greatest fear is not that homosexuality will be normalized and accepted, but that homosexuals will not come to know of their own need for Christ and the forgiveness of their sins…

Read the article HERE.

In a Desiring God blog post entitled “My Eyes Shed Streams of Tears,” Dr. Piper writes on the tragic progression of homosexuality within our culture from celebration to institutionalization and normalization:

Christians, more clearly than others, can see the tidal wave of pain that is on the way. Sin carries in it its own misery: “Men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1:27).

And on top of sin’s self-destructive power comes, eventually, the wrath of God: “sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming” (Colossians 3:5–6).

Christians know what is coming, not only because we see it in the Bible, but because we have tasted the sorrowful fruit of our own sins. We do not escape the truth that we reap what we sow. Our marriages, our children, our churches, our institutions—they are all troubled because of our sins.

The difference is: We weep over our sins. We don’t celebrate them. We turn to Jesus for forgiveness and help. We cry to Jesus, “who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10)…

Read Dr. Piper’s entire article HERE.

Even though we have reason to be concerned about recent changes regarding the issue of homosexuality in our society, we must never lose sight of this one fact–the Gospel of Jesus Christ still sets sinners free from bondage. In this audio clip, Dr. MacArthur reminds us of the hope contained in six simple words from First Corinthians 6: “and such were some of you”

 

Image: olly bennett

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Lois and Eunice had been so faithful and true in teaching Timothy the Old Testament Scriptures that when Christ was preached, Timothy believed on him [2 Tim. 3:14-15]. He did not stumble over the stumbling stone. He saw Christ as the goal of the law, and he believed, and was saved. The Old Testament had made him wise unto salvation “through faith in Christ Jesus.”

…Mothers – and all those charged with training up the younger ones in the family and the church – are we teaching the Old Testament and the New Testament to make our children wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus Christ? The emphasis is on “faith in Jesus Christ”! Or are we turning the Scriptures into a collection of little morality plays? Do the stories of the Bible point again and again to the need for a Savior or do they point only to the need for you to get your moral act together?

Are children getting the impression that Christianity is mainly a list of do’s and don’ts or mainly the story of how God justifies the ungodly through the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Are they getting the impression that the foundation of their acceptance with God is their good behavior or the perfect behavior and death and resurrection of Jesus received by faith alone? Are they learning to win God’s favor by a righteousness they perform, or by a righteousness that Christ performed for their sake?

Or to make the question more complete, and draw in the larger issue of how the obedience of believers – their sanctification – relates to their justification, we ask: Are the children learning from us that the practical, personal obedience God requires of believers is the way to become a justified person or the way a justified person becomes?

When you tell a child to do something, and insist on his obedience –which you should – are you leading the child to think that his good behavior is the root that grows into justification, or a fruit that flows from justification by faith alone? Are we helping the children see saving faith both as the way we have Christ’s righteousness as the basis of our acceptance with God, and as the way we have Christ’s power to become like him in daily life?

…Lois and Eunice taught the scriptures to Timothy so faithfully that when Timothy heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, he saw that this is what the Scriptures were all about: “salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

~John Piper in “How to Submit to the Righteousness of God

Photo: OBMonkey

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The sun of God’s glory was made to shine at the center of the solar system of our soul. And when it does, all the planets of our life are held in their proper orbit. But when the sun is displaced, everything flies apart. The healing of the soul begins by restoring the glory of God to its flaming, all-attracting place at the center.

We are all starved for the glory of God, not self. No one goes to the Grand Canyon to increase self-esteem. Why do we go? Because there is greater healing for the soul in beholding splendor than there is in beholding self. Indeed, what could be more ludicrous in a vast and glorious universe like this than a human being, on the speck called earth, standing in front of  a mirror trying to find significance in his own self-image? It is a great sadness that this is the gospel of the modern world.

But it is not the Christian Gospel. Into the darkness of petty self-preoccupation has shone “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The Christian Gospel is about “the glory of Christ,” not about me. And when it is–in some measure–about me, it is not about my being made much of by God, but about God mercifully enabling me to enjoy making much of him forever.

~John Piper in Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ

Photo: OBMonkey

A Challenge to Women

“…a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”
Proverbs 31:30

I’m so grateful for the treasure trove of online resources that have been made available by ministries like Revive Our HeartsGrace to You, and Desiring God. With thousands of archived messages and articles from Nancy Leigh DeMoss, John MacArthur, and John Piper, these three websites offer a wealth of rich teaching on nearly every topic a Christian would ever need or want to hear addressed. I regularly dig through these archives in search of encouraging truths that may have been hidden away for years, and I have yet to be disappointed.   

Here’s one such jewel from John Piper… 

A Challenge to Women

  • That all of your life—in whatever calling—be devoted to the glory of God.
  • That the promises of Christ be trusted so fully that peace and joy and strength fill your soul to overflowing.
  • That this fullness of God overflow in daily acts of love so that people might see your good deeds and give glory to your Father in heaven.
  • That you be women of the Book, who love and study and obey the Bible in every area of its teaching. That meditation on Biblical truth be the source of hope and faith. And that you continue to grow in understanding through all the chapters of your life, never thinking that study and growth are only for others.
  • That you be women of prayer, so that the Word of God would open to you; and the power of faith and holiness would descend upon you; and your spiritual influence would increase at home and at church and in the world.
  • That you be women who have a deep grasp of the sovereign grace of God undergirding all these spiritual processes, that you be deep thinkers about the doctrines of grace, and even deeper lovers and believers of these things.
  • That you be totally committed to ministry, whatever your specific role, that you not fritter your time away on soaps or ladies magazines or aimless hobbies…That you redeem the time for Christ and his Kingdom.
  • That, if you are single, you exploit your singleness to the full in devotion to Christ and not be paralyzed by the desire to be married.
  • That, if you are married, you creatively and intelligently and sincerely support the leadership of your husband as deeply as obedience to Christ will allow; that you encourage him in his God-appointed role as head; that you influence him spiritually primarily through your fearless tranquility and holiness and prayer.
  • That, if you have children, you accept responsibility with your husband (or alone if necessary) to raise up children who hope in the triumph of God, sharing with him the teaching and discipline of the children, and giving to the children that special nurturing touch and care that you are uniquely fitted to give.
  • That you not assume that secular employment is a greater challenge or a better use of your life than the countless opportunities of service and witness in the home the neighborhood, the community, the church, and the world. That you not only pose the question: Career vs. full time mom? But that you ask as seriously: Full time career vs. freedom for ministry? That you ask: Which would be greater for the Kingdom— to be in the employ of someone telling you what to do to make his business prosper, or to be God’s free agent dreaming your own dream about how your time and your home and your creativity could make God’s business prosper? And that in all this you make your choices not on the basis of secular trends or yuppie lifestyle expectations, but on the basis of what will strengthen the family and advance the cause of Christ.
  • That you step back and (with your husband, if you are married) plan the various forms of your life’s ministry in chapters. Chapters are divided by various things—age, strength, singleness, marriage, employment choices, children at home, children in college, grandchildren, retirement, etc. No chapter has all the joys. Finite life is a series of tradeoffs. Finding God’s will, and living for the glory of Christ to the full in every chapter is what makes it a success, not whether it reads like somebody else’s chapter or whether it has in it what chapter five will have.
  • That you develop a wartime mentality and lifestyle; that you never forget that life is short, that billions of people hang in the balance of heaven and hell every day, that the love of money is spiritual suicide, that the goals of upward mobility (nicer clothes, cars, houses, vacations, food, hobbies) are a poor and dangerous substitute for the goals of living for Christ with all your might, and maximizing your joy in ministry to people’s needs.
  • That in all your relationships with men you seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in applying the Biblical vision of manhood and womanhood; that you develop a style and demeanor that does justice to the unique role God has given to man to feel responsible for gracious leadership in relation to women—a leadership which involves elements of protection and care and initiative. That you think creatively and with cultural sensitivity (just as he must do) in shaping the style and setting the tone of your interaction with men.
  • That you see Biblical guidelines for what is appropriate and inappropriate for men and women in relation to each other not as arbitrary constraints on freedom but as wise and gracious prescriptions for how to discover the true freedom of God’s ideal of complementarity. That you not measure your potential by the few roles withheld but by the countless roles offered.

Photo: d.j. jones

The Message of Maundy Thursday

“Greater love has no one than this,
that one lay down his life for his friends.”

John 15:13

During my childhood, I was very familiar with the significance and meaning of Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, but it has only been in recent years that I’ve been introduced to the meaning of Maundy Thursday. Remembering the events that Maundy Thursday commemorates can help us direct our hearts in worship as we consider not only what Christ did for us during the Passion Week, but also what He called us to do.   

John Piper explains the significance of this special day…

Today is Maundy Thursday. The name comes from the Latin mandatum, the first word in the Latin rendering of John 13:34, “A new commandment (Mandatum novum) I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” This commandment was given by the Lord on the Thursday before his crucifixion. So Maundy Thursday is the “Thursday of the Commandment.”

This is the commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.” But what about Galatians 5:14? “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” If the whole law is fulfilled in “Love your neighbor as yourself,” what more can “Love one another as Christ loved you” add to the fulfillment of the whole law?

I would say that Jesus did not replace or change the commandment, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” He filled it out and gave it clear illustration. He is saying,

Here is what I mean by “as yourself.” Watch me. I mean: Just as you would want someone to set you free from certain death, so you should set them free from certain death. That is how I am now loving you. My suffering and death is what I mean by ‘as yourself.’ You want life. Live to give others life. At any cost.

So John says, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16). Was Jesus loving us “as he loved himself”? Listen to Ephesians 5:29-30, “No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.”

In the horrors of his suffering Christ was sustained “by the joy that was set before him” (Hebrews 12:2). And that joy was the everlasting gladness of his redeemed people, satisfied in the presence of the risen king.

Therefore, let us see the greatest love in action during these next 24 hours. “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1). And let us be so moved by this love that it becomes our own. “He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” This is the commandment. This is the Thursday.

Artwork: Christ’s Example by Brian Jekel