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Jesus’ Message to ISIS Signed in Blood

In recent days, ISIS militants led twenty-one Coptic Christians onto a secluded beach in Libya. With faces covered, they forced the Christians to their knees, in preparation for their execution. Standing with his knife drawn, one militant mockingly said to a praying prisoner, “Safety…is something you can only wish for.

21 coptic

They proceeded to cut off all their heads with knives.

Oh, if only that masked man knew how safe that beheaded brother is now. If he did, he would have joyfully thrown down his knife, taken off his mask, and surrendered his life along side those heroes of the faith.

God’s word assures us that those twenty-one Coptic Christians have nothing to fear any longer. Militants may have killed their bodies, but their soul will never die (Matthew 10:28). Their faith has been made sight and they join the many other believers who have laid down their lives in similar ways.

Revelation 6:9–11 “When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.”

Those brave brothers have been given a robe and told to rest a little while longer. There is more time until their blood will be avenged. More Christians will be called to shed their blood for the testimony of Jesus. More believers will join those martyred saints.

But there is a day coming when the blood that is shed will no longer be Christian blood. It will be the blood of all those who will not repent of their sins. That includes ISIS militants. ISIS soldiers may raise their swords and shed the blood of Christians today, but a day is fast approaching when Jesus will unsheath His own sword to avenge the blood of His people.

Revelation 19:11–16 “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”

One day soon, Jesus will return, not as a lamb, but as a lion (Genesis 49:8; Matthew 24:30). His robe will be stained with the blood of His enemies (Isaiah 63:2-3), including the men who slit the throats of those twenty-one Christians. The day of God’s vengeance is coming soon.

The only hope those murderers have of escaping the Day of Justice is to repent of their evil and look to Jesus who willingly laid down His life in a way much like those twenty-one men on that beach.

But what Jesus did on the cross was far greater. Jesus was the sinless Son of God who came for the purpose of saving sinners like them, like us. The Apostle Paul, once a persecutor of Christians said it this way “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:15-16).

When Jesus stopped Saul in his tracks on the road to Damascus, He said “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting Me? (Acts 9:4). He would say the same thing to ISIS militants today.

The video that recorded their murder of our brothers was titled “A Message Signed in Blood to the Nation of the Cross.” Well, Jesus has a message to ISIS signed with His own blood. It is this, “repent of your disbelief in Me and repent of your murdering My people and you will live, but if you continue to deny Me, you will pay with your own blood.”

Today is a day of grace, but the sands of time are sinking from the hour glass of God’s mercy. The Day of Judgment is coming. For those of us who are in Christ, we long to see mercy extended, but we also long to see justice served. We are tired of burying our brothers and sisters in Christ.

So what ought we do as we wait Jesus’ return? We must pray.

  1. We must pray for our enemies. Jesus commands us to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Pray for their conversions. Pray for them to be haunted by the prayers of those Coptic Christians. Pray for them to be converted by the Gospel they have heard proclaimed by so many they have killed. Pray for them to be born again. Jesus can save all sorts of sinners. If he can save us, He can save them.
  1. We must pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters. Hebrews 13:3 commands us to “remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” When one part of the body of Christ suffers, the whole suffers (1 Corinthians 12:26). Pray for the persecuted church around the world to be brave in the face of such terrifying hostility. Pray for them to have courage to speak the Gospel and to not deny the Lord, no matter what the cost. Pray for them to know the peace that only God can give during such times of testing.
  1. We must pray for ourselves and our churches. Pray that we will be sobered by the call of following Christ. Pray that we will put away our silly squabbles and whining over petty discomforts. Pray that we would have courage if one day we were forced to kneel on a beach for the name of Jesus. Pray that the Lord would raise up from among us people who will take the Gospel to lands where it is not safe to proclaim Christ. Pray that we would be willing to shed our blood to get the Gospel to those who want to shed ours.

Brothers and sisters, there is much to consider at a time like this. May God give us sobriety about what it means to be a Christian and certainty that the joy set before us is worth despising the shame—no matter what the cost.

“Come, Lord Jesus!” Revelation 22:20

Helping Your Spouse To Heaven

Helping Each Other To Heaven

 

“Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13

God designed the church to be a community of people who actively and intentionally help each other to heaven. And I’d like to suggest that in marriage, God does a very similar work.

When God brings a Christian man and woman together as husband and wife, He provides them with one of the most potentially potent discipling partners on the planet. Your spouse knows you like no one else does and together you can serve each other’s deepest spiritual needs—including helping each other persevere in love for Jesus, until death do you part.

In fact, I’d like to propose that one of the the primary purposes of a Christian marriage is to glorify God by helping each other to heaven.

What follows are four observations from Hebrews 3:13 that apply to the way husbands and wives should strive to help each other persevere in faith until the end.

 

#1 – Encourage each other.

The word “exhort” shows up 109 times in the New Testament. Depending on how it’s used, the word can be translated “to speak words of encouragement,” “to invite,” “to beg,” “to urge,” “to persuade,” “to plead,” and “to implore.”

The heart behind this word is one of passion in which one person is doing all they can to help another person do something important. In the context of marriage, it is a call for the couple to inspire each other toward Christ. Husbands are to speak words of encouragement to lift their wife’s heart to find strength in God. Wives invite their husbands to come to the banquet table of grace by reminding them of promise in God’s Word. Together, couples are to urge each other on toward heaven.

While this type of encouragement is wonderful, I suspect we can also recognize the potential difficulty in it. My flesh resists people exhorting me and imploring me. I’m prone toward being defensive and irritated, especially toward those who are closest to me. And if I’m honest, I’m often fearful to challenge and encourage my wife because I don’t want to come across as nagging or judgmental.

But God knows that we need this kind of help from each other and that is why He calls us to fight through all our sinful excuses to engage in it.

In what ways do you think your spouse needs encouragement to more fully rely upon God?

What ways could you spouse help you? Have you shared this with them?

What kinds of fears do you feel when you think about giving and receiving exhortations with your spouse?

How are you openly warring against cowardliness and defensiveness in your marriage?

 

#2 – Encourage each other daily.

In Hebrews 3:13 the command to “exhort” shows up as a present, active, imperative verb. That means it’s something we’re commanded to be doing in a consistent way. We could literally translate the command “you are to keep on encouraging each other every day.” Date nights are great for your marriage, but daily encouragements are better.

God calls husbands to consistently invite their wives to not lose heart after an exhausting day. The Lord commands wives to relentlessly plead with their husbands to fight their insecurities by clinging to God’s Word. Husbands and wives are exhorted by God to daily exhort each other to strive through dark seasons of doubt and despair.

What a wonderful portrait of how Christians are called to enduringly love each other!

Again, this is where our sinful nature will rear its ugly head and call this kind of persistent love an annoying intrusion. Do not believe this lie. God initiates love with us each day (1 John 4:19; Lamentations 3:23) and never takes a day off from showing us His faithful commitment to us (Psalm 136:1; Jeremiah 31:3).

Jesus has shown us a relentless love, and He has called Christian husbands and wives to show that same kind of love to one another (John 13:34, 15:12; Ephesians 5:22, 25, 28, 33).

While there is no formula that works for every couple, here’s a few ideas of how to encourage each other daily toward heaven.

  1. Go to bed at the same time and close your evening by praying together.
  2. Get on the same Bible reading schedule and share one thing each day that you saw from the reading. This won’t work for everyone, but try it for a week or a month and see how it goes.
  3. Memorize verses or portions of the Bible together. By doing this you will both be meditating on the same scripture and can share insights from that text to situations you are facing.
  4. Share with your spouse the promises from God’s Word that most edify your soul. Set up a plan of how they can approach you and use them when you are in need of this kind of encouragement.

 

#3 – Encourage each other daily to protect your hearts from sin.

The context of Hebrews 3-4 is essential to understanding the urgency of encouragement. Here, the author is exhorting the church to not harden their hearts against God like the Exodus generation who faltered in faith and fell under His judgment (Psalm 95:6-11). To ensure this doesn’t happen to us, God commands His people to provide daily exhortations to each other reminding them of hope that lies before them.

In the context of marriage, Christian husbands and wives are commanded by God to exhort each other to not fall prey to sin’s deceitful offerings. Satan is daily seeking to lure us away from God, so we must daily be exhorting each other to remain faithful to God. This kind of regular encouragement is one of God’s prescribed antidotes to the satanic poison that leads to apostasy.

Do you know how your spouse is currently being tempted to harden their heart against God (Hebrews 3:12, 3:15)?

What plan do you and your spouse have in place to help each other war against the sin that so dangerously hinders our progress toward our heavenly home (Hebrews 4:11)?

How are your regularly calling each other toward the throne of grace to gain help in your times of need (Hebrews 4:14-16)?

Talking to our spouse about how we are being tempted can be tricky for many couples. For some, there is a fear of being exposed, while others wisely know their spouses’ God-given limitations when it comes to hearing about certain sins. I would however strongly encourage couples to find a way to talk about their battles with sin in a way that works for them.

For a help in considering how to discuss temptations with your spouse, consider the principles in the article “Should I Tell My Spouse About My Struggles with Sexual Purity?”

 

#4 – Encourage each other daily to protect your hearts from sin, until death do you part.

Our text challenges us to “Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today.” There is a day when “today” will turn into “the day” we will see the Lord’s face (Hebrews 10:25). But between now and then, husband and wives are to help each other strive forward in faith.

As Christians, our marriages are commitments that last until death separates us. Because of this, we must take the long view and encourage each other despite all our differences and difficulties. Marriage is not easy because it is a union of two sinners, but the grace of God is sufficient to help us make it home.

The day is coming soon when we will see the Lord Jesus, our hope will be realized and we will forever thank Him for the way He used others, including our spouses, to help us persevere and see Him face to face.

Oh what a day that will be—come Lord Jesus, come!

 

A Few Final Action Steps:

  1. Encourage your spouse to read this article and set up a time to discuss its implications in your marriage.
  2. Humbly share the hopes and fears you have about encouraging and challenging each other in your walks with God. Don’t give into the temptation to hide from your spouse—that is exactly what sin wants you to do.
  3. Prayerfully select another couple from your local church that can help you grow as a couple. Encourage them to read this article and talk openly about things the Lord challenges you with.

 

May the Lord give you and your spouse grace as you help each other toward heaven.

What Would Jesus Say to Someone Like Leelah Alcorn?

Leelah Alcorn Selfie

On December 28, 2014 a 17-year old high school student apparently committed suicide after a difficult journey with confusion over gender identity. In his suicide note, Josh Alcorn said that since he was 4 years old he felt like “a girl trapped inside a boy’s body.” Because of this Josh desired to be called “Leelah” and wished for people to relate to him as a woman.

I will refer to Josh as “Leelah” in this post, but will also refer to him as a male, please bear with me, even if you passionately disagree with either of those choices.

This is an excerpt from Leelah’s final words posted shortly before taking his own life:

Leelah Alcorn

 

The letter goes on with sad details that I hope none of us are ever tempted to write or left to read in the wake of losing a loved one in such a tragic way.

Leelah’s final request was, “my death needs to mean something.” I could not agree more.

It is heart-wrenching to know that a young person was so overwhelmed with pain that their only response was to stop living. That should mean something. Whether you’re LBGT, Christian, liberal, conservative, religious or otherwise—we are humans and a tragedy like this should lead us to stop, weep, pray, and take notice.

For me, it made me wonder what I would say to my own child if they felt the same way Leelah did. And more importantly, it made me wonder, what would Jesus say to someone who feels the same way Leelah did?

I do not know exactly what Jesus would say them, but there are a few truths from the Bible that give me a pretty good idea.

1.     Jesus would say…“You are made in My Image, and I love you.”

 Just like Leelah, all people are wonderfully made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-28). We are each knit together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-14) and brought safely into this world to walk as an image bearer of God. When people see you, they see a reflection of the glory of the God who made you.

Jesus would say to you that you have value and worth because God made you. He would say something like, “no matter what anyone tells you, you are valuable and I love you. Come and find refuge in My faithful arms, I made you and I will protect you” (Psalm 91:4).

 2.     Jesus would say…“You are broken, just like everyone else.”

Leelah was an image bearer of God, but he was a broken one. Just like you are. Just like I am. Every person who has ever been born, except Jesus, is deeply and totally affected by the curse of sin (Psalm 51:4; Romans 5:12). We are all relationally, sexually, morally, rationally—broken. Sin does this to us. It corrupts our feelings and desires and understanding of life and of ourselves. We are all aware of this brokenness, though we experience it in different ways.

Jesus would say to you there is hope for your brokenness because “in me you can have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

3.     Jesus would say…“You have a unique struggle, and I will use it.”

There’s a scene in the Bible where Jesus declared that a man was born blind so “that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3). God works in the mist of our fallen, sinful, broken lives for His glory. In fact, He only uses broken, sinful, needy people who have sinful struggles.

That does not give us an excuse to give into temptation, but it does give us hope that God can use even the most heinous sinful struggles to display His grace and sufficiency in our lives. If God did this with a self-righteous murderer like the Apostle Paul (Acts 9) and an impulsive denier like Peter (John 21), He can do it with you and me.

Jesus would say something like this to you, “I know you do not understand how I can use your struggle and your pain, but I can. I can work all things together for the good of those who love Me and are called according to My purpose—I can even use your struggle with transgender feelings in ways you cannot imagine” (Romans 8:28).

4.     Jesus would say…“I came to rescue people like you, so trust in Me.”

Jesus didn’t come to rescue people who had it all together. In fact, He said “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). It may seem insensitive to talk about sin at a time when you already feel so unloved and misunderstood, but all of our confusion about who we are in life flows from this very issue.

All of us, whether we consider ourselves straight or gay or transgender or anything else, are sinners. That means that we have disobeyed God’s design in every imaginable way. In the way we think, the way we talk, the way we treat others—the ways are too many for us to count. But God has counted our sins, none have escaped His eye (Psalm 69:5).

But in spite of our rebellion against God, He still loves us. There’s a place in the Bible where we are told “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus came to rescue us from our sin by dying in the place of sinners and then rising from the dead to forgive us of our sins.

For those who truly believe in Jesus, God will never turn away (John 6:37) and rather than count all their sins against them, He will forgive them and throw them “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 32:1-2, 103:11-12; 2 Corinthians 5:17-19).

Anyone who says that is a message of hate is not listening to what has really been said. That is the greatest act of love anyone could ever show us (John 15:13). Jesus laid down His life so that we could be forgiven and made right with God. Does this new relationship change us? Yes, in every way. But please do not dismiss this good news because God calls us to change. He only wishes to transform us into the image of His own dear Son (Romans 8:29). He is better than whatever else we wish to hold on to. Ask God if it is really true that Jesus died for you.

5.     Jesus would say…“The journey is hard, but it is worth it and I will help you.”

 Just because someone becomes a Christian, does not mean things get easy. There is still much pain in this life. People you love will still hurt you at times. You will still be misunderstood by some people. You will still struggle with sin—in all sorts of ways (Romans 7:15-19). Your affections will change toward sin, but often that change doesn’t happen all at once and sometimes it happens very slowly (2 Corinthians 3:18).

You may never “feel” like your body looks. Your sexual desires may never be redirected. But as you walk with Jesus you will understand and respond to your passions differently. This may be a struggle for a long time, possibly for your whole life. But Jesus promises that you don’t have to carry the weight alone. He says to you “come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

If you are a born again child of God (John 1:12), your primary identity is now rooted in God’s acceptance of you in Christ. This radically alters the way you see everything, including your gender identity. This journey of understanding how to please God in spite of your struggles may be daunting but it will be worth it because it comes with the promise “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

6.     Jesus would say…“Your parents aren’t perfect, but they love you.”

I am a parent and as I’ve reflected on this heart-breaking story, I weep for Mr. and Mrs. Alcorn. I cannot imagine how anguishing it must have been to see their child struggling and despairing over such deep questions. I’m sure they wish they had answers to help their child understand why God allowed this pain into their child’s life and how to trust God in the midst of it all. I’m sure they wish they could take their child’s pain and bear it themselves.

Some will scorn Christian parents for attempting to help their child live according to their biological sex, but ridicule is not the answer. You may be upset that it sounds like I’m taking the parent’s side. I’m only saying that sympathy needs to go both ways in a situation like this.

Parents who love God and love their children will do all they can to help their child live in God’s perfect ways. How parents do this will sometimes be right and sometimes be wrong. There are no easy answers for parents either. I wish there were.

If you are at odds with your parents like Leelah was, I want to encourage you to be patient with them. Your parents aren’t perfect, but I suspect they do love you—even if their love feels oppressive. There is a great difference between being an abusive parent and a parent that in good faith is trying to help guide their child.

If your parents are pointing you toward trusting Jesus, don’t receive that as unloving—it is the most loving thing anyone could ever do for you. If they are doing it in a way that hurts you, talk with them and pray for God to help you not give up.

7.     Jesus would say…“Go to my people, they will walk with you in grace and truth.”

Many of your friends may tell you that the church is filled with hateful, bigoted, backwards people. Sadly, there are some people who do horrible things in the name of Christ—things that Jesus Himself would condemn. Sometimes Christians fall short of Jesus’ standard of love, but there are countless others who are trying by the grace of God to do better.  You need to find a church that is not Christian in name only. Find a Bible-believing, Spirit-led community that will love you and walk with you

Jesus came “in grace and truth” (John 1:17) and His people are to live in the same way (John 15:12). The church is filled with people who need your help to walk in humility before God, and you need them to do the same (Hebrews 3:13, 10:24-25). Jesus would tell you that you should not struggle alone, and that the people who tell you the truth are the people you can trust the most.

A true church is a community of people who are patient and compassionate—because Jesus been patient and compassionate with them. They are a people who will help you fight against your sins—because Jesus has forgiven their sins and helps them fight against their own issues. You may be surprised to find how many Christians there are who struggle with the same kinds of things you do.

8.     Jesus would say…“Don’t give up on life, I make life worth living.”

 There are some struggles that feel like they are too much to bear. Sometimes it seems as if ending your life will bring you the peace that has been so fleeting up until now. Maybe it feels like the only way to silence those who hurt you or get the attention of those who won’t listen to you.

If this is how you feel, Jesus would say do not give up because “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). He would say your weeping is not ignored and “I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears” (2 Kings 20:5). Jesus would tell you that He made you and He has all your days numbered in His book (Psalm 139:16).

He would tell you to not give up on life because He knows how He plans to work all of this together for your good if you will surrender to Him (Romans 8:28). And He would tell you that a day is coming when God “…will wipe away every tear from (your) eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

This is the promise for those who trust in Christ. Do not give up on life, but cling to the Jesus who will bring you through the many trials and temptations you are facing.

 

Some will say that because I am a Christian and believe the Bible to be true that I am the kind of person who causes deaths like Leelah’s. If you feel that way, please look past any of my shortcomings in this post and consider Christ Himself. Take up the Bible and read about Jesus for yourself.

There are no easy answers for any of our brokenness, including the kind of brokenness that Leelah Alcorn knew so deeply. But that does not mean that his death should mean nothing. It should lead us to listen to one another’s stories rather than spew hate at one another. Jesus is the hope for those who are LBGT, just as He is the hope for everyone else. He is the one who understands us, and our brokenness, even when no one else does. Draw near to Him in faith and ask Him if this is true and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).

 

I Don’t See You As A Black Friend

I Don’t See You As A Black Friend

Garrett Bio

I grew up in the hills of West Virginia and had no African Americans in my graduating class. I attended a university with a fairly diverse campus, but most of my interactions with people who weren’t white came on the basketball court.

My experience in church was much of the same. After I became a Christian, I moved to Texas and was part of a solid, but mostly white congregation. I later became the pastor of a church plant in a small oil town named Graham, TX. In the seven years I pastored there, we had one black member, a brother named Bobby who’s “amens” and “tell’em preacher” encouragements still ring in my soul.

Though I had a few black acquaintances, most of my friends looked like me, thought like me, felt like me, and experienced life in the same way I did. But all that changed in 2011 when I moved to Washington, DC to do an internship at Capitol Hill Baptist Church.

Our intern class consisted of 6 men, one of whom was black.

 

The Conversation that Changed Everything

- Trip Lee

Trip Lee was a quiet guy with a baby face. When I met him, I thought he couldn’t be more than 13 years old, but as our friendship developed, I grew to respect Trip for his devotion to Jesus and desire to be a humble servant of Christ’s church. We had regular discussions about theology, church, culture, and then one day—we talked about race.

As the discussion went deeper, Trip mentioned something about him being a black man. I leaned in and with all sincerity said to him, “Trip, when I see you, I don’t see you as black. I see you as my brother in Christ. I see you as a friend, but I don’t see you as a black friend.”

My intention was to communicate respect and to ensure him that I was “color-blind” because that was the height of love—right?

Wrong.

Trip looked at me and gently said, “Listen man, we are brothers in Christ, and that means something. But if you and I are going to be able to be real friends that go deep, you need to know that I am a man—but I am a black man.”

After a moment of silent staring, I pushed back and said that I didn’t understand. I explained that I never thought of myself as a white man and I wouldn’t want him to think of me as his “white friend.”

Trip said to me, “I hear you, but you’ve got to know that being a black man affects everything I do. Every time I walk into a store, every time a policeman looks at me, every time I step into our very-white church. I feel it. I breathe it. I live it. I am a black man, that is who God made me.”

He went on to explain that being a black man meant that, in many ways, he experienced life differently than I do. His pains and joys and fears were similar to mine, but also very different. He has fears for his children that are different than the fears I have for my children. He has hurdles in relationships that I don’t have to jump. He has to trust God in ways that are both similar and different than me. And those differences matter.

 

A Journey of Love

That conversation with Trip proved to be pivotal for me. It opened my eyes to the fact that not everyone sees and experiences life in the same way I do. This shouldn’t have been such a revelation to me, but it was.

- Shai Linne

I later became the lead pastor at Del Ray Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA. Our church is mostly white, but is slowly increasing in diversity. Shai Linne, our assistant pastor, is an African American brother who has graciously allowed me to ask him questions and wrestle openly with things I find confusing about race and ethnicity.

After George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin, Shai and I had several conversations about why the news was so upsetting to many of my black friends, including him. We eventually had a public discussion with about twenty other people where I (the ignorant white friend) got to ask Shai questions about how he saw and experienced the tragic event—not just as a Christian man, but also as a Christian black man.

During our dialogue, Shai humbly shared about a time when he was walking down the street and was stopped by police. He was questioned, cuffed, and put into the back of a police cruiser because he “fit the description of someone they were looking for.” He described to us the pit that formed in his stomach when a car with a white woman pulled up next to him to identify if he was the person they were looking for. He said, “my life flashed before my eyes. In that moment I knew that if she said, ‘that’s him’ that my life was over. I was going to jail. My whole life hung on what that woman said.”

I will never forget his tears as he told his story. I never knew that about him. But it made me love him and hate our fallen world and desire for Jesus to come back in a way I hadn’t felt before.

Nor will I ever forget the interaction Shai had with his young son after the news broke that the police who killed Eric Garner would not be facing any charges. While watching the news, his son asked, “daddy, what are they talking about?” Shai said to him “black lives matter.” And then with innocent eyes he looked at his father and asked “why are they talking about that?”

Now, as a father, I’ve had to answer tough questions from my children before. But that kind of heart wrenching questioning has never happened in my house. Shai and my other black friends have to explain things to their children that I don’t have explain to my children.

Yes, we have the same kinds of concerns about the persecution our children will face if they follow Christ (2 Timothy 3:12), but most of my black friends and their children have had and still do have, a path that with more obstacles than the one I and my family walk on.

The Lord has given me relationships with friends from different ethnicities and cultures to open my eyes, not just to what it means to be black or Asian or Hispanic, but to what it means to love people who are different than I am. Moreover, these relationships have even impacted the way I read and apply the Scriptures.

 

Seeing More Clearly

“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law.” Psalm 119:18

I’d like to highlight three passages from God’s Word that have taken on a whole new meaning for me because of the diverse friendships God has brought into my life.

#1 – “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” Romans 12:15

If my black brothers and sisters weep and lose sleep over something, God-glorifying love calls me to care about it. I may not understand why they are weeping, but if they hurt, God calls me to sympathize with them and to seek to understand. There is no room in the heart of a Christian for apathy or indifference toward other believers (1 Peter 4:8).

Not all my black friends have been affected in the same way by the Ferguson and Eric Garner decisions. But many of them have—and that must mean something if I am a Christian. Why? Because we are “members of one body” (Ephesians 4:25) and “if one part suffers, every part suffers with it…” (1 Corinthians 12:26). Jesus says that I am to “do to others what [I] would have them do to [me]” (Matthew 7:12) and I am certain that when my day of weeping comes, I will want others to weep with me.

#2 – “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

We live in a fallen world that is filled with suffering. In many ways, all people’s suffering is similar, but there are also unique burdens each of us bear. Many of my African American friends have unique burdens to bear. And though understanding why they are burdened by certain events may not come natural to me, loving them (fulfilling the law of Christ) requires that I ask them to help me understand how I can bear their burden with them.

Sometimes this burden-bearing comes in the form of a prayer or a phone call. Often times it comes just through listening and striving to learn more about your brother’s suffering. One of our white church members recently asked if he could have dinner with a few African American couples to talk about the issues of racial tension in our country that have been exposed through the events in Ferguson. They graciously agreed and one of the brothers said to him, “I really appreciate you asking to talk with me about this, because from my experience, it is very rare that someone would reach out to talk about these issues.”

Burden bearing begins by taking a step of love toward another and saying, “do you need help carrying that? I’m not sure I can help, but if I can, I’m here, and I’d like to try.”

#3  “when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy…their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel…” Galatians 2:11–14

In days past I would have wholeheartedly dismissed the notion that “race issues” were Gospel issues. But the Apostle Paul clearly states here that because Peter and Barnabas (Jews) segregated themselves from the Gentile believers, “their conduct was not in step with the truth of the Gospel.” It was anti-Gospel to step away from brothers and sisters who weren’t like them in order to keep traditions that Jesus died to set them free from.

One of the goals of Jesus’ saving work on the cross is to “break down the wall of hostility” between Jew and Gentile and to create in Himself a new humanity where hostility is put to death and we are united in peace (Ephesians 2:14-16). The church is to be a “city set on a hill” (Matthew 5:16) in which the glory of God is seen through the love and unity His people have for one another (John 13:34-35, 17:20-21).

If there is any place that love and unity seems tenuous, it is along racial lines. Marin Luther King famously said, “the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.” While we can praise God that there has been tremendous progress in race relations in the church since Dr. King’s day, we must all admit there is a long way to go.

And what is the way there? It is the way of Christ. God calls all His people to be “of the same mind in the Lord” (Philippians 2:2, 4:2). That doesn’t mean we will always agree on how we see an issue, but it does mean that we are to follow the example of Christ and humbly “count others more significant than ourselves” (Philippians 4:3).

It is through loving those who are “other” to us that we most walk in step with the truth of the Gospel. It does us good to consider the fact that we are more “other” to Jesus than any of us are to each other. Jesus is God, and it doesn’t get any more “other” than that. Yet, what did Jesus do? He was moved by compassion and love for sinners to come and serve and die and rise for us (Philippians 2:1-11). Jesus teaches us what it means to love.

Shai recently preached about loving those who are “other” in this sermon from Philippians 3:17-4:3.

 

A Few Final Lessons About Love 

While there is much that could be said, I want to conclude with three reminders about what Gospel love requires from us.

#1  Love requires relationship

If we are going to learn to understand people who are different than us, we must pursue relationships with people who are different than us. This isn’t limited to black and white relationships of course, but it is certainly true for them. If love is going to flourish in the church, we must be willing to risk stepping out of our comfort zones and into the lives of other people.

I can hear what black men and women think on blogs and interviews, but love must go beyond this. As Shai said in the sermon I referenced above, “the more time and conversations you have with someone, the more sympathy is developed. It’s not going to happen through Facebook. It’s not going to happen on Twitter. It’s not going to happen on a blog post. It won’t be through watching news on cable, but its gonna be over the dinner table.”

How are you stretching yourself to develop authentic relationships with people who are different than you?

#2  Love listens.

Love requires that I listen. I have learned that it is best for me to ask more questions and make fewer assumptions. This allows my brother the opportunity to speak for himself. And where better should we have the freedom to have these kinds of conversations than with our church family?

White police officers should be able to sit down with black members and talk about their mutual fears. They should also be able to encourage each other with how the Gospel gives them mutual hope. God is glorified in this, and the world is amazed.

#3  Love risks.

If you walk down the path of love, you will be hurt and you will hurt others. As John Piper recently said, “there is no love in this world without tears.” If you take the risk of walking with people, you will encounter relational briars of racism and apathy and skepticism and bitterness and cynicism. These will hurt you, and your own briars will hurt others.

And this is why I am more convinced than ever that diversity in relationships is one of the best catalysts to our spiritual growth. When we are stretched to love and forgive and rejoice and weep in ways that are not natural to us, we are forced to lean upon Jesus in freshly desperate ways. And when we are all equally desperate before Jesus, we have great hope that He will move to unite us in ways that will call the world to ponder the power of our Lord.

 

There has been progress in our country and in our church. We have great reason to hope that God will grant even more progress. But this progress will not come from being colorblind. Progress will come when we see each other as we are, and prayerfully draw together for the honor and glory of God.

 

Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

 

 

Jesus is the Mighty Magnet

This is the October 4th entry from Charles Spurgeon’s daily devotional Faith’s Checkbook. 

A wonderful encouragement to proclaim Christ with hope and expectancy.

The Mighty Magnet 

“And I, if l be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me”   (John 12:32).

Come, ye workers, be encouraged. You fear that you cannot draw a congregation. Try the preaching of a crucified, risen, and ascended Savior; for this is the greatest “draw” that was ever yet manifested among men. What drew you to Christ but Christ? What draws you to Him now but His own blessed self? If you have been drawn to religion by anything else, you will soon be drawn away from it; but Jesus has held you and will hold you even to the end. Why, then, doubt His power to draw others? Go with the name of Jesus to those who have hitherto been stubborn and see if it does not draw them. No sort of man is beyond this drawing power. Old and young, rich and poor, ignorant and leaned, depraved or amiable–all men shall feel the attractive force. Jesus is the one magnet. Let us not think of any other. Music will not draw to Jesus, neither will eloquence, logic, ceremonial, or noise. Jesus Himself must draw men to Himself; and Jesus is quite equal to the work in every case. Be not tempted by the quackeries of the day; but as workers for the LORD work in His own way, and draw with the LORD’s own cords. Draw to Christ, and draw by Christ, for then Christ will draw by you.

Can I Ever Wear My Adrian Peterson Jersey Again?

Adrian Peterson

I’ve been a longtime NFL fan.

More specifically, I’m a Minnesota Vikings fan.

My earliest childhood memories include watching games with my parents and hearing grandpa grumble about how much he hated the Dallas Cowboys.

Before the 2014 season began, I printed out a sheet with all the NFL team helmets for my 4 year old son. We talked about each team and whom he wanted to root for and whom he was never allowed to root for (Bears, Packers, and Jets).

A couple days later, we had a Fantasy Football draft at my house. In Kell family style, my two sons and I got decked out in our Vikings jerseys. Football has provided some solid fun in our family.

But things haven’t been quite as fun the past few weeks.

This isn’t because my Vikings are striving for mediocrity once again, but rather it’s because of the stench that surrounds all things NFL. The league has been oozing headlines about domestic violence scandals, concussion cover-ups, and most recently child abuse charges against my favorite player, Adrian Peterson.

My aunt, who is a Patriots fan, wrote me this week and said “what is happening to our beloved game?…I was going to email you before [the Pats and Vikings] game last week but AP took all the fun out of that.”

To add to the nauseating situation, we’ve seen the NFL execs’ lust for money broadcast in high definition. The waffling of the Panthers, Ravens, and Vikings organizations in the handling of their respective scandals has been directly tied to public outcries that threatened to cost them money, lots of money.

All of this has left a bad taste in my mouth toward the NFL and toward some of the players, including Adrian Peterson. Right now his jersey is hanging in my closet, and I’m not sure what to do with it.

To be clear, I never wore my AP jersey because I thought he was the model of morality. I wore his jersey because he’s an electrifying player who helped my team win. Granted, he also seemed to be an upstanding young man, and even professes to be a Christian. I respected his posture off the field, and that made it easier to wear his jersey.

But with everything that has come out about the apparent child abuse, I have been debating whether or not I’ll ever wear it again.

Though this wardrobe decision is pretty low on my priority list, the way I think about the NFL and its players is more important. I’ll keep it brief, but I’d like to share two lessons I’ve taken away from my consideration of all this NFL nastiness.

1. I need to take the log out of my own eye.

Jesus said, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).

In those piercing words Jesus warned against pointing out other people’s sins while not first addressing the sins in your own heart. This is where I have found some much needed correction.

Before I point the finger at what I perceive to be money-hungry executives and the Ray Rice and Adrian Petersons of the world, I need to first look at the nastiness in my own heart.

Can you guess what the first thing was that I thought about when the Peterson news broke a few days ago? I thought about how it affected my hopeless Vikings and how it would impact my fantasy football team.

I reduced Peterson to a commodity and the abuse of his child to an obstacle to my sports enjoyment.

How sick is that?

What about the trauma that Adrian’s child has been through? What about his other children? What about the mothers of his children? What about Adrian’s soul before God?

Left to myself, I’m just as greedy and self-interested as the people I was criticizing.

Does that mean I can’t critically think and speak about their wrongs? Of course not. Jesus didn’t tell us not to judge others, He told us not to be hypocrites when we judge others (Matthew 7:1-5). What it does mean is that I must prioritize the examination of my own heart. I must come face to face with the fact that I’m not all that different from the people I was criticizing.

My selfish, consumeristic mindset defaults to using people rather than loving them. My self-righteousness strives to find a reason to condemn people rather than care about their ultimate good. My pride looks at the sin of others and tempts to be less convicted about my own sin. (Adrian abuses his child?  I guess my raised voice or harsh words to my child aren’t so bad after all).

How dangerous is that?

Child abuse and domestic abuse are heinous evils and need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But as I wrestle with all that is happening in our world, I must not avoid examining the evil that remains in my own heart. If I neglect this work, I fear how far I could wander into the darkness of my own sin.

2. Human heroes will always fail me.

Thankfully, I’m not enslaved to sports anymore. My afternoons aren’t ruined when my team loses and my heroes are no longer men in tights running through a field carrying a piece of dead pig. Maybe I’ve just grown calloused because of all the sports heartbreak over the years, but I’m hopeful that it is the Lord changing my affections toward eternal things (Colossians 3:1-3).

Through all of this, I’ve come to realize that while we can admire people for the way they play sports, we should never make them our heroes. Why? Because ultimately, they will fail us.

Sure, not everyone will act in the grievous way Adrian Peterson is accused of acting. But the fact is that all people, even the best of people will fail us.

Does this mean there aren’t any great men and women of character for us to learn from? Of course not. Does this mean we can’t be inspired by phenomenal athletes? Of course not. Does this mean we can’t wear the jerseys of our favorite players? Of course not.

What it does mean is that we must never forget that Jesus is the only One who will never put us to shame when we associate with Him (Psalm 25:3, Romans 10:11). In fact, He is the One who graciously covers the shameful sins of all those who draw close to Him in faith.

Christ is the never-failing One who promises grace and forgiveness to any who believe in Him. This promises is extended to child abusers, greedy executives, and hypocritical self-righteous preachers like me.

That is the beauty of the Gospel. Jesus is the hero who rescues us from the depths of our sin and now promises to never leave those who come to Him (John 6:37). No other person can ever promise that.

Trip Lee’s song about Jesus being the ultimate Hero captures this well, check it out here.

So will I ever wear my Adrian Peterson jersey again? I’m not sure yet.

If I do, it won’t be because I condone his behavior. It would be because of the way he responds to this incident and because I respect him as a player.

If I don’t, it won’t be because I think I’m a better person that he is. It would be because I wouldn’t want to send a confusing message to those who might see me wearing it.

But in the end, what matters isn’t if he or anyone else ever wears a #28 jersey again. What matters is if God will bring healing to his children, reconciliation in his family, and transformation to his life. We should pray and ask God to do that.

I could only hope you would do the same for me if I were the one wearing his jersey.

 

 

 

A Sobering Reminder from the Ray Rice Situation

Ray Rice and Wife

On Monday the NFL suspended running back Ray Rice indefinitely and the Baltimore Ravens released him from the team. This came after a video was released by TMZ showing a heart-breaking, stomach-turning domestic violence incident.

The curious thing is that this incident is not new news. Rice was initially suspended by the league for two games back on July 24. They knew at that time that Mr. Rice punched his then fiancee in the face and knocked her out.

Why the change of mind by the NFL and Ravens organization? Joshua DuBois said it better than I ever could:

Ray Rice Tweet 

What was in the dark was brought into the light.

Because the world saw what Mr. Rice did, there was an outcry for justice. In a pretty ironic turn of events, TMZ alerted the consciences of the world that justice needed to be shown.

There is something about seeing the video of the assault that stirs anger in us. I won’t comment on whether the NFL or the Ravens had seen the video before everyone else did. But I will say that once it was released, people were calling for this wrong to be addressed severely.

There are important lessons to be learned here about the horrors of domestic violence, and for those I’d like to point you to these excellent articles.

But there is another, even more weighty lesson we need to take to heart in all this.

Hear these words of Jesus:

Luke 12:2 “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.”

Jesus says a Day is coming where there will be no more secrets. No more things hidden. All things done in the dark will be made known in the light.

There are countless deeds of injustice done each day throughout the world, and for the vast majority there are no TMZ videos to alert us that justice needs to be done. But the fact is that God’s Word promises a Day is coming when the all-knowing God of heaven will bring into the light all that is now done in the dark.

This should bring us comfort, because justice is coming.

This should also bring us discomfort, because justice is coming.

The TMZ video release is actually a great act of mercy from God. How? Because it serves as a reminder to Mr. Rice and to all of us that there is a day coming when all that is done in the dark will be brought into the light.

The Bible is very clear that history is moving to a moment that will result in us standing before the holy God of heaven. What will happen there? Here is what the Bible says…

Romans 2:16 the day is coming “when…God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.”

2 Corinthians 5:10 “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”

Revelation 20:11 “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it. From His presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.”

I’m not sure what it will look like, but one day the “video tape” of our lives will be played. Every word we said, every thought we had, every thing we thought we got away with—all of it will be exposed before a holy God and we will give an account.

What should this move us to do? It should lead us to step into the light today and seek mercy from God.

This is where good news comes to us from the Lord,

“Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:6-7

The reason God can extend mercy is because His Son, Jesus Christ, came to earth and died on the cross for sinners. There He received the punishment for every one of our deeds done in the darkness. Three days later He rose from the dead and now promises that if anyone will confess their sin (1 John 1:8-9) and turn to Him in faith-filled repentance (Romans 10:9-10; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10) they will be saved from the judgment that awaits that day.

The day of exposing our sin is coming soon. Let us not think we can hide. Turn to Jesus and receive forgiveness.

A Prayer on Behalf of Iraqi Christians

The past few months have been a living hell for Christians in Iraq. Stories of ISIS systematically killing our brothers and sisters along with other minority groups are heart-wrenching. Nightmarish tales of soldiers raping mothers, hanging fathers, taking the heads of decapitated children and posting them on poles emerge regularly. What can we do?

We can pray.

We must pray.

Hebrews 13:3 says “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.”

 

Father,

We do not know how to pray for our brothers and sister, but You promise to help us in our weakness, so we come in faith knowing Your Spirit will guide our prayers (Romans 8:26).

Help them to believe that while they are cursed by men, that they are indeed blessed for their sufferings (Matthew 5:10-12).

Help them to believe that when they suffer on earth, that the Lord Jesus is angered and ready to intervene from Heaven (Acts 9:4-5).

Help them to believe that when they cry out for help, that You hear their voices and are near to their crushed spirit (Psalm 34:17-18).

Help them to believe that they can joyfully surrender their property because they know they have a better and lasting possession stored up in heaven with You (Hebrews 10:34; 1 Peter 1:3-5).

Help them to believe that while they may be snatched from their homes, they shall never be snatched from the hand of Your Son (John 10:28).

Help them to believe that when they feel as if no one cares, that You see (Exodus 3:7-8) and You hear (Psalm 18:6) and that their tears do not fall to the ground unnoticed by You (Psalm 42:3, 56:8).

Help them to remember that when they feel forsaken, that Jesus was forsaken for them so they must not fear being abandoned by You (Mark 14:34).

Help them to believe that when they flee, that they can flee to You because You are good and stand as a refuge for them in their day of trouble (Nahum 1:7).

Help them to remain faithful to You when they are called to deny Your Name. Help them to not fear death, but to find courage in the hope of the greater resurrection that awaits them (Matthew 10:28; Hebrews 11:35; Revelation 2:10-11).

Help them have courage to proclaim the Gospel to those who are doing them harm, and may You use their witness to turn terrorists into worshippers of the One true God (Acts 9).

Help them to believe that though their suffering is great, it is not worth comparing to the glory that is soon to be revealed to them (Romans 8:18).

Help them to know that though their persecutors appear to be victorious today, that You will bring a swift judgment upon all those who rebel against Your great Name (Psalm 68:21; 110:6; 143:12; Habakkuk 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:6-9).

Help them to rest in the promise that one day soon You will take them to that glorious Land where tears and death and mourning and fear shall be no more (Revelation 21:1-5, 22:1-7).

Father, send Your Son soon. Rescue Your people (Psalm 28:9)!

Come Lord Jesus, come (Revelation 22:20).

Marriage is From God and For God

Wedding Rings

 

While Colossians 1 doesn’t specifically speak to marriage, I trust you’ll find truths in this passage to be a source of help for husbands and wives who desire to have a healthy marriage.

 

Colossians 1:15-17 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

Marriage is from God.

“…all things were created by Him…”

As with all good gifts, marriage comes from God (James 1:17). He made it, which means He knows how it is supposed to work. While that may not be rocket science, it is certainly important. Why? Because we naturally assume we know how marriage works. I mean, we love each other, what more could we need to know?

A lot.

Husbands need God to continually teach them how to lead their wives through sacrificial love (Ephesians 5:25-33; 1 Peter 3:7). Wives need God to ceaselessly show them how to help their husbands through honoring and following their leadership (Ephesians 5:22-24; 1 Peter 3:1-6). Couples need God to teach them how to not be easily offended and how to lovingly work through conflict (Colossians 3:11-15). They need to be reminded of how Christ loved them so they will treat one another as more important than themselves (Philippians 2:1-11).

Heart-centered characteristics like humility, service, gentleness, patience and sacrifice don’t come natural to us. We need God the Father to show us Christ the Son through His Word so that by His Spirit we might be changed and love our spouses as He created us to love them.

This passage calls for us to assume the posture of students in our marriages. From the moment we say “I do” to the moment we must say our final “good bye”, husband and wife should be learning together about God’s design for marriage.

Do you and your spouse humbly approach marriage as learners? Do you study the Scriptures to be instructed, corrected, and encouraged about the way you live as a married couple?

Marriage is from God, so draw near and let Him teach you how to love each other.

 

Marriage is for God.

“…all things were created…for Him…”

One of our most basic assumptions about marriage is that it exists for us. But our text says something different. Marriage isn’t ultimately for us—it’s for Jesus.

What does that mean? Let’s say you wake up in the morning, and you walk into the kitchen—and there is a sink full of dirty dishes. Again. Let’s also assume you’re the neurotic one who hates dirty dishes in the sink.

If you think marriage is for you or about you, you’ll be tempted to respond with anger. Why? Because your rights, your desires, your preferences are not being honored. But if you can remember that marriage is for Jesus, you find in the sink an opportunity to serve your spouse as Christ served you.

Does that mean you shouldn’t talk to your spouse about the dishes? Not at all. Because marriage is for Jesus, there must be an atmosphere of honesty. But the way you talk about your struggles is informed by the desire of making Jesus supreme. Someone is always going to look big in your marriage, and there is only One who is worthy of that honor.

How would your marriage be different if you knew it wasn’t ultimately about you? Why is that so difficult to embrace? What if every conversation or conflict was colored by the desire to bring pleasure to Christ (2 Corinthians 5:9; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:1)? How might focusing on pleasing Christ be freeing to your relationship?

Marriage is for Jesus, so humble yourselves and make much of Him.

 

Marriage is sustained by God.

“…in Him all things hold together.”

The enduring strength of your marriage comes not from yourself or your spouse’s resolve, but it comes from Jesus Himself. It is “in Him” that your marriage holds together. This is wonderful news for weak and frail sinners like us.

When you are weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9).

When you doubt, He gives hope (Romans 15:13).

When you are weary, He gives strength (Isaiah 40:29).

When all around you shakes, He holds you steady (Psalm 75:3).

The all-powerful One who created the universe is the same God who sustains everything in the universe. This includes your marriage. God is willing and able to help you keep your vows that you made to your spouse in His presence. In Him, you hold together.

In your dark days, don’t lose heart, for He is with you (Psalm 23:4).

In your days of ease, don’t grow cold to the One who gave the ease (Deuteronomy 6:11-12).

As Christians, we never graduate from the Gospel. We came to Christ as weak, broken, needy sinners. Marriage doesn’t change that. If anything, it only confirms it.

Do you believe that God is willing and able to hold your marriage together until the end of your life? What might be the greatest test of your faith in this promise? How are you looking to Him for your strength? How can you do this as a couple?

Marriage is held together by the hands of the Almighty God, so lean upon His everlasting arms.

 

My wife and I host a monthly Honeymooners Group (young marrieds) in our home. This is a summary of the lesson our group discussed for June. Below are a few suggestions we made to help us consider these truths throughout month. You may find them helpful as well.

  • Memorize Colossians 1:15-17
  • Consider posting a sign that says “Our marriage is from Jesus and for Jesus.” Ask God to help you keep this truth in the forefront of your heart.
  • Consider the questions in the above summary together.
  • Pray regularly that God would help you to make pleasing Jesus your primary pursuit.
  • Keep record of the things that tempt you to make marriage about you. Share these with your spouse. Don’t use this as an opportunity to attack each other, but pray for God to use it to help each other grow in Christ-likness.
  • Make sure you take time to pray for each other regularly.

Why Tell a Child the Same Thing Twenty Times?

PloughingA sister in our church shared this portion of a Spurgeon sermon with me today.  

“Why do you tell your child a thing twenty times?” asked some one of a mother. “Because,” said she, “I find nineteen times is not enough.” Now, when a soul is to be ploughed, it may so happen that hundreds of furrows will not do it. What then? Why, plough all day till the work is done. Whether you are ministers, missionaries, teachers, or private soul-winners, never grow weary, for your work is noble, and the reward of it is infinite. The grace of God is seen in our being permitted to engage in such holy service; it is greatly magnified in sustaining us in it, and it will be pre-eminently conspicuous in enabling us to hold out till we can say, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” ~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

Lord, help us to sow, plow, speak, parent, pray, and minister with the certain hope that you’re using our feeble efforts for your faithful purposes. Give us grace to persevere knowing that you are working in and through us for Your glory. Amen.