The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,300 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Sometimes I really don’t recall the specific details of how God has led my life or how the many aspects of my life came about to bring me to where I am today. Some of it is a blur and some of it is still a bit of a surprise to me, but what I do know is that God has gone and continues to go before me and I know that He is present with me.
I recently finished studying the names of God and the last name I looked at was Jehovah-Shammah ‘The Lord is Present’. I spent time looking at some verses throughout the Old Testament mostly to try to understand what God is communicating to us about Himself through this name.
In Exodus 13:20-22 the Israelites (God’s people) are wandering around the desert. During the day the Lord was before them in a pillar of cloud and at night He was a pillar of fire. God went beforeHis people. It was Him who was leading them. And He never left them.
Later on in Exodus 23:20-22 we see that God again goes before His people. As the Israelites fight their enemies it is God who actually defeats them. God fights for His people.
When Joshua fought against the city of Jericho God sent the captain of His host to fight with Joshua. God does not leave His people to fend for themselves. No, He fights with and for His people. (Joshua 5:13-15)
Again with Gideon we see that God fights forGideon and joins in battle with him.
As you follow the path God sets before you, He has already walked there. It may seem unknown to you, but God has already been there.
When you feel helpless or overwhelmed, remember that God is fighting for you. He wants to see you succeed and His name glorified. He is the God with you, engaged in battle and bringing you forward.
Part of this blog-post originally appeared on March 22, 2013 at ‘Be Strong and Take Heart’
Maybe you’re tired. Maybe you’re weary. Maybe you’re sad. Maybe you’re weak. Maybe you’re heartbroken. Maybe you’re lonely. Maybe you’ve lost hope. Maybe – maybe not. But you need to hear this anyway.
Here are two verses for you to consider. “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21
This article was originally written and posted by Jim Perdue
OUR GOD IS ABLE
Maybe – just maybe – you need to hear that. I’m guessing you’re just like every other person in the entire world. From time to time you need to be encouraged. From time to time you need to be reminded. Remember a few things about Almighty God.
1. Able to do. Only Christ can provide you the power that you need to live for Him. You can’t do it on your own. You don’t have the strength. We tend to think of the Christian life as only imitation – trying to be like Jesus. But the Bible says the Christian life is first incarnation – Christ in you. Think about it. The infinite power of God Almighty resides within you. Now that’s power!
2. Above all we ask. Look at that verse again. Do you see those words? “Exceedingly abundantly above all…” Do you get the point? God can do so much more than we ever imagine. What would you do for God if you knew you couldn’t fail? What vision has God placed on your heart? What is your greatest passion? God can do more than we ask or think. The problem is, we don’t ask or think.
3. According to the power. Look at the words “according to.” This means “in proportion to.” We are blessed in direct proportion to God’s ability. God’s ability is limitless. Therefore His blessings are limitless. This power works within us to accomplish His purpose for His glory. It’s the power that dwells in us through the Holy Spirit.
4. All for His glory. Now this is incredible. All that God does in us, through us, and for us brings Him glory. It is for our good. But more importantly, it is for His glory. “To all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Lastly – you need to hear this. God is able. He really is. You may think that you’re situation is too big for Him – it’s not. You may think you’re problem is too difficult for Him – it’s not. You may think you’re situation is different – it’s not. You may think it’s over – it’s not. God is able. Hear it, believe it, live it!
This article was originally written and posted by Jim Perdue
Please comment below. Would love to hear your thoughts on this.
First Adam vs. Last Adam
In the Bible, Paul called Jesus the “Last Adam” because he is the remedy for idolatry and the redeemer of humanity, where as the first Adam was the source of idolatry and the down fall of humanity.
–The first Adam turned from the Father in a garden; the last Adam turned to the Father in a garden.
–The first Adam was naked and unashamed; the last Adam was naked and bore our shame.
–The first Adam’s sin brought us thorns; the last Adam wore a crown of thorns.
–The first Adam substituted himself for God; the last Adam was God substituting himself for sinners.
–The first Adam sinned a ta tree;the last Adam bore our sin on a tree.
–The first Adam died as a sinner;the last Adam died for sinners.
According to the Bible,we die in Adam but are born again in Christ: “For as in Adam we all die,even so in Christ all shall be made alive”.
–In Adam there is condemnation, but in Christ there is salvation.
–In Adam we receive a sin nature, but in Christ we receive a new nature.
–In Adam we’re cursed, but in Christ we’re blessed.
–In Adam there is wrath and death, but in Christ there is love and life.
ARE YOU IN ADAM OR IN CHRIST?
This is incredibly important because, literally, your identity and your eternal destiny hang in the balance of whether you’re in Adam or you’re in Christ. You’re born in Adam as a sinner and you’re born again in Christ, who is the Saviour.
None of us are individuals alone. None of us are isolated. None of us stand alone. We’re part of one of two groups, one of two families, one of two teams, one of two nations: those who are in Adam, and those who are in Christ. Here’s how Paul says it in 1 Corinthians 15:21–22. “For as by a man came death,” that’s Adam, “by a man has also come the resurrection of the dead,” that’s Jesus. “For in Adam,” there’s one team, one group, one category, “all die”, but in Christ,” (here’s today’s big idea), “in Christ shall all be made alive.”
Who do you think you are?
God says that you’re created and you’re an image bearer. You’re made to mirror Jesus. Therefore, your true identity is not yours to create. It’s given to you by God. The real question you need to know the answer to is, “Who does God say that I am?”
There are only two categories of human beings: those who are in Adam, and those who are in Christ. Are you in Adam or in Christ? In Ephesians 1, Paul says that if you are in Christ, you can be faithful, you are blessed, you were chosen and made blameless, you are forgiven, you can know the will of God, you are reconciled, you have an inheritance, you have hope, and you have the Holy Spirit.
In Adam or in Christ
The Bible speaks of identity as being in Adam or in Christ, so much so that the Bible speaks of believers being in Christ no less than 216 times. Just the Apostle Paul himself, in the thirteen letters of the New Testament that he writes, he talks about us being in Christ. He’ll use language like, “in him, in the Beloved, in Christ,” 216 times. Let me say this: anyone who tells you something 216 times, number one, it’s important, number two, they’re afraid you’re going to forget it.
Do you know how many times the New Testament says that a Christian is a Christian and uses the language of “Christian”? Three times. The Bible says that your identity is ‘a Christian’ three times, and that your identity is ‘in Christ’ 216 times. It’s one of the primary ways, if not the most common way, that God refers to a Christian.
Here’s the difference between being in Adam and being in Christ: at the cross of Jesus Christ, he traded places with us. He literally traded places with me. All of the death, all of the shame, all of the condemnation that I deserve went to Jesus. All of the forgiveness, all of the love, all of the grace that Jesus rightly has as the sinless Son of God comes to me. What that does is that changes our identity.
I want you to see this
If you are in Christ, you are in Christ’s position and Christ is in your position. He suffers and dies so that you might be blessed and live. Do you believe that God the Father loves the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you believe that he is kind toward him, and gracious toward him, that his ear is attuned toward him, that his affection is devoted to him? I have great news for you. If you are in Christ, you stand in the position of Christ. You are loved as Christ is loved, you are blessed as Christ is blessed, you are embraced and adored as Christ is embraced and adored. I want you to see this so that you’ll live from your identity in Christ, that you’ll realize that you’re free from religion and trying to perform for God. You’ll be free from shame and condemnation, because all of that is taken care of for you by Christ and is available to you in Christ.
WHO WROTE THE BOOK?
For a brief time at the end of his second missionary journey, and then for more than two years on his third missionary journey, Paul ministered to the church at Ephesus (Acts 18:18–21; 19:1–41). During his time in this city that housed the famous temple to the Greek goddess Artemis, Paul saw many converted to faith in Jesus Christ and many others who opposed his preaching in the synagogues and homes. One prominent silversmith, Demetrius, who made implements for the worship of Artemis, found his business suffering greatly because people were converting to Christianity. The ensuing near-riot led Paul to leave the city, but only after the apostle had done much to stabilize and grow the Christian community there.
Where are we?
Paul wrote the letter to the Ephesians sometime in AD 60–61, around the same time he wrote Colossians and Philemon, as he sent all three letters by the hand of Tychicus, accompanied by Onesimus (Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7–9; Philemon 1:10–12). It was during this time that Paul sat in Rome undergoing his first Roman imprisonment (Ephesians 3:1; 4:1), making Ephesians one of the four epistles commonly known as the Prison Epistles. The others are Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.
Why is Ephesians so important?
Second Corinthians and Galatians abound with personal touches from Paul, either about his own life or that of the recipients. Ephesians, on the other hand, stands at the opposite end of the spectrum as one of Paul’s most formal letters. While Galatians offers instructions particularly important for those churches overrun with legalism, Ephesians deals with topics at the very core of what it means to be a Christian—both in faith and in practice—regardless of any particular problem in the community.
What’s the big idea?
Paul divided his letter to the Ephesians into two clear segments; applying the truths of the first makes possible the actions and lifestyle of the second. Paul spent the first three chapters of the letter discussing God’s creation of a holy community by His gift of grace in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The members of this community have been chosen by God through the work of Christ, adopted as sons and daughters of God, and brought near to the Father through faith in His Son. All people with this faith—Jews and Gentiles alike—were dead in their transgressions and sins but have been made alive because of the person and work of Jesus Christ.
While Paul was not responding to a particular theological or moral problem, he wanted to protect against future problems by encouraging the Ephesians to mature in their faith. So after laying out profound theological truths in the first half of the book, Paul made his purpose clear: he expected that this community of faith would walk in accordance with its heavenly calling (Ephesians 4:1). As a result of the theological realities Christians accept by their faith in God, several practices should follow in their relationships within the church, in the home, and in the world.
How do I apply this?
The book of Ephesians hits on a wide range of moral and ethical behaviours, designed to ensure believers are living up to our heavenly calling. As we continue in our faith from day to day, month to month, and year to year, the temptation to get comfortable will always exist. However, Paul presented the gift of God in Christ and the benefits we receive so clearly that we cannot help but ask ourselves if our lives reflect that reality as they should.
How have you grown in your Christian life since you came to faith in Jesus Christ? The latter half of Ephesians makes clear that spiritual growth occurs primarily in community with others, iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17). Your Christian “walk” (in other words, your daily life) is to be characterized by unity, holiness, love, wisdom, and perseverance in spiritual warfare.
Maturity yields benefits in believers’ moral lives, but it extends far beyond that as well. Increased maturity benefits the community at large, leading us as Christians to present a more consistent witness to the working of God in our lives as well as protecting us from the harmful divisions and quarrels that have plagued so many communities throughout history.
Join us at Bethel Church in Lindsay ON. and follow along on our biblical voyage to and through Ephesus.
The definition of the word Gospel can be summed up as ‘the good news,’ referring to the message about Jesus. But what is so good about this good news?
First of all, know what ‘the good news’ is not. Even after giving their lives to Christ, many believe that they need to be good for God to bless them. They become influenced by incorrect teaching or people’s expectations on them and come to believe that if they make mistakes, God is not happy with them. That is not the Gospel we read about in the Bible. The good news is not: “God is unhappy with you!”
When you give your life to Jesus, your relationship with God becomes all about what Jesus has done—not what you have done or have failed to do. Romans 5:19 (NKJV) says “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” In other words, one man (Adam) sinned and made us sinners. Another man (Jesus) was perfectly obedient and made all who call Him their saviour righteous (in right standing with God). Adam broke the agreement mankind had with God. Jesus restores it when you give your life to Him.
Why is it such good news? Because we don’t have to earn our way to Heaven! Your good behaviour is not involved—only come to Jesus as you are and believe.
Your relationship with God is not an “in and out” experience. Some think that when you make a mistake, you are out of His good books and when you ask forgiveness or behave well, you are in. It’s not true.
In fact, when you try to earn God’s acceptance, Galatians 2:21 (NLT) says you “treat the grace of God as meaningless.” It also says “if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.” After all, what was the point of Jesus’ sacrifice if you still need to earn God’s approval?
The good news doesn’t stop with Heaven. Isaiah 61:1-3 (NKJV) says “the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor…heal the brokenhearted…proclaim liberty to the captives…comfort all who mourn….To give them beauty for ashes….The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”
These verses tell us about the good news Jesus brings. If you feel broken, have lost hope and you can’t seem to trust again, Jesus can heal you everywhere you hurt. If you are held captive by addictions, He sets you free. If you struggle with your finances, He enables you to prosper. If you mourn, He comforts you. Even if you are mourning the loss of a dream—you do not have the marriage you had hoped for or you are filled with regret about your career—Jesus can replace your grief with joy!
There is more good news. The Bible contains thousands of promises God has made to mankind, but many in the Old Testament have ‘ifs’ attached: if you do this, God will do that. However, 2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV) says “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.” This verse tells us the ‘ifs’ have been removed…by Jesus! It does not say His promises are ours if we earn them. It’s not sometimes yes. It is YES.
When you really wrap your head around what Jesus has done, you begin to understand how good the good news really is. You come to know how amazing Jesus is and you fall in love with Him more than ever before!
A few weeks ago, I heard a pastor finally confess something I’d been waiting for a pastor to say my entire life. During the middle of his sermon, he declared, “This sermon is going to have four endings.” I was so happy I wanted to give him the world’s most awesome side hug. Finally, a pastor was admitting the difficulty of ending a sermon.
“WHEN THE END IS NEAR”
Seven Signs a Sermon Is (Almost) Over
This blog post is from Jon Acuff and he has heard quite a few sermons in his day. Here’s his handy guide for discerning when the end is near.
Some pastors just preach until the clock runs out and then tie the whole thing off unexpectedly with a prayer. With little or no warning, right after they’ve read a Bible verse, they’ll say, “Dear God, we just thank you for this Sunday.” If you’re in the audience taking notes you don’t even know you’re supposed to have your eyes closed. “Are we in a prayer right now? Was that the end?”
To prevent End of Sermon Whiplash or “ESW,” I’ve collected seven signs that will indicate to you that the ride is about to come to an end. Get your Bibles and your coat. Break yourself, fool, it’s time to go to lunch!
1. “In closing…”
This is an old school sermon ender. When you hear this phrase, you’ve got about seven minutes left.
2. “If I could leave you with one thing today…”
When I hear this, I kick everything else out of my head and laser focus. The “one thing” approach is like a grenade of knowledge that is about to be dropped.
3. “As we’re wrapping up…”
Technically not accurate, since only the pastor should be wrapping up. Hopefully the crowd isn’t zipping up Bibles or gathering stuff while he’s trying to close the sermon. That’s distracting.
4. The band starts to materialize like musical mist.
Wait a second, is that a guitar player slowly creeping onto the stage all quiet like? Did the drummer just rise out of the floor to sit behind his kit?
5. The pastor closes his Bible.
Class is over. We took a good look at the good book and now we’re done.
6. The pastor sneaks a peek at the clock and gets nervous.
I’m not a pastor, but occasionally you’ll see me do this when I’m speaking. A lot of churches have clocks on the back walls indicating how much time you have to speak. And they count backward. When you go over your time they start flashing red. If you ever see a pastor look up, as if to the heavens, and get “insta-sweaty” it’s because he’s way behind.
7. They start talking faster.
I have two talking speeds – fast and wicked fast. If I realize I’m out of time but still have two main points to share, I speed up. Like a ninja. Or a cheetah. Or a ninja cheetah, the fastest of all martial arts jungle cats.
Those are the signs a sermon is about to end. If on the other hand a pastor takes his coat off, removes his watch or says, “Today I want to talk about …” forget it, that sermon is nowhere near over.
Me, personally? I don’t worry about the length of a sermon. I let the Holy Spirit take all the time necessary, but I’m probably holier than you are.
Question: What does your pastor say at the end of sermons? Are there any other signs that a sermon is about to end?
Twilight is for teenage girls what porn is to teenage boys: sick, twisted, evil, dangerous, deceptive, and popular.
This past weekend, millions flocked to movie theaters for the final installment of the teen vampire saga. Tragically, many were driven by their parents, including some cougar moms encouraging and joining their daughters’ obsession with handsome young males.
Our family car won’t be driving to the theater for Twilight—or over a cliff for that matter.
I want to give a special thanks to Mark Driscoll for this tough love approach article to raising kids in a Christ-less culture. Pastor Mark ranted on this garbage-tastic phenomenon before, and finds the whole genre profoundly troubling.
The popularity of supernatural soap operas has inspired some real-life demonic trends. Overreaction? Tell that to the kids biting, cutting, drinking blood—sometimes while having sex—and sinking deeper into the occult:
- NBC News: “Teenagers obsessed with the Twilight vampire saga, or those simply fascinated with fangs, reportedly have been biting each other—hard—and then licking or sucking the blood. ‘These are kids who think they are real vampires,’ said Dr. Orly Avitzur. [. . .] ‘Having that thick, warm copper-tasting blood in my mouth is the best thing I can think of!’ wrote a teenager identified as ‘GothicGirl10’ this year. ‘Sometimes my boyfriend lets me feed off him. I let him feed off me as well.’”
- ABC News: “Paola Hernandez, 15, said a boyfriend tried to pressure her to allow herself to be bitten. ‘He said, “I love you and that’s the way I want to show you,”’ she said. ‘I didn’t give in because it was kind of idiotic.’ She said some of her classmates, mimicking on-screen vampires, even cut their skin so they can taste one another’s blood. ‘That means you’re stuck with them, they have your blood inside of them and you have their blood and so you’re closer to each other,’ she said.”
- Sanguinarius is a popular website for “Real Vampires” that includes a special section for teens with “advice on the problems and issues teen vamps face: school, parents, coping with awakening, how to enter the vampiric community without looking like a fool, and more.” Other resources on the site include techniques for “safe bloodletting and feeding, dealing with bloodthirst, flavoring your donor’s blood, and cooking with blood.”
- Another support page for Real Vampires appeals to outsiders with “a few words for anyone who has ever been bullied, picked on, teased or harassed because you’re different. What you have suffered is wrong. It is wrong for anyone to hit you or harass you, or to make you hate yourself for being different, whether or not you consider yourself a vampire.”
- The Week: “Lyle Monroe Bensley, 19, was arrested in his boxer shorts after he allegedly broke into the Galveston, Texas, home of a randomly chosen single woman, growled and hissed at her, dragged her down the hall, and tried to bite her on her neck. . . . When the police arrested Bensley a short time later, he told them he was a 500-year-old vampire. ‘He was begging us to restrain him because he didn’t want to kill us,’ says Galveston officer Daniel Erickson. ‘He said he needed to feed.’”
- The UK’s Channel 4 produced a documentary about the growing vampire subculture. The chance to play vampire provides an opportunity to “be nasty and evil and let my darker side out for the evening,” says one subject. The film profiles a group of teenagers in Texas who consider themselves to be real vampires (and werewolves). One explains, “When I drink someone’s blood, I feel like I own them in a sense. Like they’re mine.”
Please pray for these kids. If you know them, speak with them lovingly, honestly, biblically, and quickly. Satan is real, clever, and a deceiver who “disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). He’s not going to come at us with a pitchfork and horns. More likely, he’ll attempt to lure people towards darkness with methods like “harmless” entertainment, possibly in the form of bad acting and melodrama.
As a father to a teenage girl, I find it devastating to simply read the most popular web pages that come up when searching for “teen vampire.” There, girls the same age of my 15-year-old daughter are talking about “awakening,” which is their word for converting to paganism (like the Christian word “born again”). In a perverted twist on Communion, their sacraments include the giving of your own blood by becoming a “donor.” This is entirely pagan. These storylines offer eternality without God and salvation; in the place of Jesus’ shed blood, girls and boys shed their own blood to be awakened to their own salvation of a new spiritual way of life filled with sex and occult behavior.
I do not shelter my children from these sorts of things. Pop culture is too pervasive to hide from (on a recent trip to a Barnes & Noble with my daughter we noticed an entire section of books dedicated to “Teenage Vampire Romance”). My wife and I talk to my daughter about these things so that she can be discerning, informed, and safe.
However, we do not treat things like movies, books, and TV shows as harmless entertainment, but rather a potential threat to her well-being to be aware of so she can walk in wisdom by God’s grace. I rejoice that our oldest daughter (and all of our five children) loves Jesus, see right through this demonic deception, and speak freely with us about these sorts of things. I want that for all children and families.
As a pastor and a father, I am particularly concerned for Christian parents who are naively allowing this filth into their children’s lives, buying these books and driving kids to see these movies. To such parents, “It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:9–11, emphasis added).
I want to give a special thanks to Mark Driscoll for this tough love approach article to raising kids in a Christ-less culture.