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Take a Look – 6/15

Here are some great links from around the web. I hope your mind is engaged and your heart is encouraged.

Three Ways to Pray for Adult Children

Prayers for strong marriages, safety on the job, or wisdom in college selection are all good requests from the heart of a Christian mum, but Paul’s three-verse, single-sentence outpouring to God challenges me to lift my sights to motivation and to pray about the drive behind my adult children’s following lives — and to take a careful look at my own.

Prayer Request: More Negative Prosperity-Gospel Stories

Meyer’s statement is a departure from one of the tenets of the prosperity gospel. The prosperity gospel emphasizes the avoidance of suffering or failure. These are not the marks of your best life now. If you suffer or fail in life, it’s because you haven’t exercised enough “faith”—a kind of spiritual energy or force that needs to be released.

Scientists Finally Read the Oldest Biblical Text Ever Found

The 2,000-year-old scroll has been in the hands of archaeologists for decades. But it hasn’t been possible to read it, since it was too dangerous to open the charred and brittle scroll.

Can a Believer be Blotted Out of the Book of Life

We’ve heard of the book of life, a book that includes the names of those who believe in Christ and will dwell with him forever. Can a believer’s name be blotted out? Some argue that Revelation 3:5 proves that a believer can have their name blotted out. But, is that a proper way to interpret Rev. 3:5? Here are a few reasons why this verse does NOT claim that a believer can have their name blotted out of the book of life:

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2019 in Take a Look

 

Raw Honesty in Prayer

When we read Psalms, there are times sections when we struggle with the content.  Imprecatory Psalms are those that invoke judgment, desire calamity or pronounce a curse on someone.  They are often vengeful and appear void of grace and mercy.  One example of these challenging sections is Psalm 137:8-9:

O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed,

    blessed shall he be who repays you

    with what you have done to us!

Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones

    and dashes them against the rock!

How do we understand these passages, and what do we learn from them?

Psalms as Prayers

We must first understand the nature of the Psalms.  Each one is a response to God.  As the psalmist experiences things in life, he responds to God in different ways. There are psalms of lament, psalms of praise, and psalms that cover a wide range of experiences and emotions.  

Consider the first part of Psalm 137.  The people of Judah are in captivity after the Babylonian invasion.  Zion is Jerusalem – their capital – a place where the glory of God was displayed among God’s people as a testimony to the nations around.  Falling into the hands of the Babylonians was more than just a military failure, their identity and hope were lost.  This event was God’s judgment on his people.

For the Babylonians, the mighty God of Israel had fallen to their gods.  They boast in verse 3 as they request songs from their captives about the glory of Zion.  They are asking for praise songs of God – they are taunting their prisoners – “Where are your songs of how great Zion is now?  You were deceived!  Where is your God?”  That is why the people of Israel have hung their harps on the trees.  Do they have reason to sing?

The psalmist turns to God amid these circumstances.  The prayer is honest and pours forth from the anger, hurt, and disappointment that weave in, around, and through the heart.  There is a desire for the enemy to pay for what has happened to the people of Israel.  Psalm 137 is a raw and honest prayer.  

We often forget that God knows what is in our hearts.  He knows the desired vengeance, the anger, or any other festering emotion.  When we come to the throne of God, we can be sincere, because of God’s knowledge of our heart, mind, and soul.  He is the one we turn toward and before whom we lay all of our vileness – God is the only one that can handle it.  He is the only one who brings the remedy for such heinous thoughts through the atonement of Christ.

Prayer becomes an Encounter

The act of praying, even such a vile thought, is an act of faith because we seek God during the prayer. We desire to comprehend life’s circumstances, and through prayer, the psalmist acknowledges that God is the only genuine source of understanding.  

As we read Psalm 137, we do not see God’s response to this prayer.  We are left with only one side of a conversation.  Therefore, we judge the final verses as inhumane and evil, never getting to see the encounter the psalmist sought.  Perhaps the one-sided conversation does not bother us, because we consider prayer to be a one-voice conversation?

When we approach the throne of God, we should not desire him to do anything other than change our hearts. We cannot trust the wants that we lay before his throne, but we can trust the one who sits on the throne.  It is for this reason we come – wanting more of him.  We want to see things the way he sees them and walk faithfully through every experience. This aspect of the prayer found in Psalm 137 is absent.  However, if we turn to Psalm 37, we see a clearer picture.

“Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!”  Psalm 37:1 reads as though it is a response to Psalm 137.  In our raw and honest prayers, we know that we have encountered God when we arise from our knees with five changes of the heart seen in Psalm 37:3-8.

  • Trust (v 3) – We trust that God has us where we are for a specific reason and His glory.  In our act of trust, we continue to walk faithfully through the desire of our heart may try to lead us astray.
  • Delight (v 4) – As we delight in the Lord, he becomes our desire.  As we gaze into his grace and mercy, the things of this world grow pale and dim.  The circumstances that surround us lose their gravity in the light of God’s glory.
  • Commit (v 5) – Our profession of trust must have action.  If we truly trust God in our current circumstances, we will commit to his ways and desire to walk in them.
  • Be Still (v 7) – We stand in awe of the overwhelming majesty of God the Father.  Though we might enter prayer overwhelmed by our circumstances, we leave our time of prayer shaken but strengthened by the holy and just God that provided salvation in Jesus Christ.  
  • Refrain (v 8) – We stop. The anger and envy that controlled our heart as we knelt to pray are conquered by our desire to trust in, delight in, commit to, and be still before God.  We put to death the sinful desires of our heart through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

I pray that as you approach the throne of God, you will not only seek to speak, but you will desire to hear.  Be honest before him.  As you pour out your heart to God, I pray you will find that he changes your heart in accord to who he is.   May your prayers not only be one-sided conversations but encounters with the Creator.

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2019 in Christian Living

 

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Take A Look – 5/24

Take a few minutes and look at these links from around the internet. Prayerfully, your mind will be engaged, and your heart will be encrouaged.

You’re Insignificant for God’s Glory

The power of the glorious gospel has nothing to do with us, except that we are the clay pots in which this precious treasure is hid.

Six Reasons Prayer is Moving Hundreds of Churches to Revitalization

I have heard from countless numbers of leaders how specific prayer efforts have led to revitalization in hundreds of churches. Let me share with you the six most common reasons they articulated why prayer is vital to turnaround.

9 Things You Should Know About Global Persecution of Christians (2019 Edition)

Here are nine things you should know about the persecution being faced by our brothers and sisters in Christ around the globe. (Note: The title of this article includes 2019 to mark the year of the report, though the details are about events that occurred in 2018. Also, while we should be concerned about the persecution of other faiths documented in this 238-page report, for the sake of brevity this article will only include actions against Christians.)

Did God Create Evil?

This short video, featuring Ted Cabal answers a question many ask.

The Gift of Tongues in Corinth – and Today

The issue of tongues is sometimes a matter of controversy and heat. As a result, let me state my intent at the beginning. I want to put forward an argument for the scope of speaking in tongues in the first-century church. But I do so in a tentative way. I hope not to stir up heat.

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2019 in Take a Look

 

Like A Glass Hammer

Like A Glass Hammer

They were powerful words that commissioned the climax of the creation account, “Let us make man in our image.” (Gen 1:26) It was at this point, God breathed life into dirt, and the image bearer of God walked through creation. Humanity was meant to uniquely display God’s glory, bearing an image to which the rest of creation only testified.

All was well until the moment of deception when they ate of the fruit. Bearing the image of God was no longer the desire of their heart. As the serpent enticed, the lie became more believable – perhaps they could be like God (Gen 3:5). With straying affections that led to an act of disobedience, sin marred the image of God in man. Guilty of and broken by sin, mankind was removed from the garden.

Bearing an Image

A small glass hammer sits on a shelf in my office. Though it looks a little abstract, it was the best glass hammer I could find. When most people look at it, they can tell it is a hammer, but they also clearly see it is not something one might buy at the local hardware store. There would be consequences in using the glass hammer in the same manner as the one in my toolbox. To remove it from the shelf and strike it against anything would prove destructive – not for the object, but the glass hammer. Made of glass and of little physical use, the object on my shelf merely bears the image of a hammer.

A Reminder

This hammer stays in my office to remind me of Genesis 3. Through the person and work of Jesus Christ, the image of God is restored from one degree of glory to the next (2 Cor 3:18). I am a work in progress that God is faithful to complete (Phil. 1:6). Though this is a great promise, I also struggle with the same desires as Adam and Eve. Sin wells up within as I begin to be dissatisfied as an image bearer and seek to be God.

When we think of someone trying to be like God, we picture a prideful and controlling attitude. They may be domineering, wanting everything done their way. We may even use this idea when thinking of a “know-it-all” or narcissist. In using these mental pictures, we are often comforted because we create a scenario that does not resemble us.

A desire to be God, or act like God, most often takes place in our rebellion against his Word and his working in our lives. When we walk outside of the parameters God designed for us, by default, we try to take his place. We act as if our knowledge is more excellent than his and our desire is purer than his. We may not demand that people do what we say or try to control the lives of others. We dethrone the God of the universe to bow down to our own will.

Consequences

We are not all-powerful, and our vision of life pails to the eternal perspective of God. We take matters into our own hands, following our indecisive hearts and minds. Walking in rebellion of God’s design and desire, we end up a shattered glass hammer. Not only are we broken, but we make a mess of everything around us. Shards of broken pieces and destruction replace the beauty and glory we are designed to bear.

The hammer sits on my shelf to remind me that God’s desire and design is better than my own. In times of doubt and struggle, I can trust what he is doing. He desires to do something more beautiful in me than I want for myself, and no matter what means he uses to accomplish his work, it will be what is best. He protects my soul and guides my path for his namesake. I am to be an image bearer, not a god.

 
 

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Take a Look – 4/19

If you have a minute or two, check out these posts. My prayer is that your mind will be engaged and your heart encouraged.

Mothers, Embrace the Mess

When the house is clean, I hear a hallelujah chorus in the background. It’s amazing. The sky is bluer, my head is clearer, and I feel like I have the mind space to dream and plan and focus on what I actually care most about in life.
But having kids and keeping the house continually clean is like oil and water.


Proudly Humble

Sometimes pride looks an awful lot like humility. There are times that our pride convinces us to put on a great show of what looks to all the world like humility so that we will be seen and acknowledged by others. We swell with pride when we hear, “He is humble.” It is a tricky thing, the human heart—prone to deceive both ourselves and others.

Has He Forsaken You?

No other place displays the griefs of Christ like this, and no other moment at Calvary is so full of agony as when His cry rends the air—”My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” At this moment physical weakness was united with acute mental torture from the shame and ignominy through which He had to pass; His grief culminated in suffering the spiritual agony beyond all telling that resulted from the departure of His Father’s presence. This was the black midnight of His horror—when He descended the abyss of suffering.

9 Things You Should Know About Notre Dame Cathedral

On Monday more than 400 French firefighters attempted to save Notre-Dame Cathedral from a devastating fire. Here are nine things you should know about one of Europe’s more historic and iconic religious landmarks:

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2019 in Take a Look