September 19, 2014

Choosing Books...

 Friday's Thought:

"We should always choose our books as God chooses our friends, just a bit beyond us, so that we have to do our level best to keep up with them." 
                                                                                  Oswald Chambers

September 16, 2014

The Narrow Gate

I recently finished John MacArthur's book 'Hard to Believe.' It was sobering at the least and not a lite read. The chapter on the narrow gate really stuck out for me, so I thought I'd share a few of John MacArthur's thoughts on what Jesus says about it.

Jesus said:

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.

Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." Matt. 7:13-14

 And in Luke one asked Him:

 "Then one said to Him, 'Lord, are there few who are saved?' And He said to them,

'Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able." Luke 13:24-25

John MacArthur says of the narrow gate:

"It is not enough to listen to preaching about the gate; it is not enough to respect the ethics;

you've got to walk through the gate. 

And you can't come unless you abandon your self-righteousness, see yourself as a beggar in spirit, mourning over sin, meek before a holy God, not proud and boastful, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, and not believing you have it. Hell will be full of people who thought highly of the Sermon on the Mount. 

You must do more than that. 

You must obey it and take action.

You can't stand outside and admire the narrow gate; you've got to drop everything and walk through it. There's that self-denial again. 

You come through, stripped of everything.

But isn't that narrow-minded? Does that mean Christianity doesn't allow room for opposing viewpoints? No compassionate tolerance? No diversity?

That's exactly right.

We don't do it that way because we're selfish or prideful or egotistical; we do it that way because that's what God said to do.

If God said there were forty-eight ways to salvation, I'd preach and write about all forty-eight of them. But there aren't:

"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved," Acts 4:12 reminds us, no other name but Jesus.

In John's gospel, Jesus said, "I am the bread of life" (6:35); "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (14:6); "He who does not enter the sheepfold by the a thief and a robber...I am the door" (10:1,7)

Paul affirmed these words in 1 Timothy 2:5: "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus." 

There's only one: Christ and Christ alone. That's a narrow viewpoint. but that is Christianity, and it is the truth. You have to enter on God's terms, through God's prescribed gate. Christ is that gate. Holy God has the right to determine the basis of salvation, and He has determined that it is Jesus Christ and Him alone. You can enter only through Him, by faith."

He then talks about how to enter the narrow gate. He says here:

"To come through the narrow gate, you must enter with your heart repentant over sin, ready to turn from loving sin to loving the Lord."

And later he writes:

"The requirements are firm, strict, refined, and clear-cut, and there's no room for any deviation or departure from them. It must be the desire of our hearts to fulfill them, knowing full well that when we fail, God will chasten, and then God will wonderfully and lovingly forgive and set us on our feet again to pursue His will."

The narrow gate is not a popular subject.

It's been debated a million times, even within the church, but when we step away from the chatter and really listen to what Jesus is saying we will hear...hope in the narrow gate, unconditionally love in the narrow gate, and unspeakable joy in the narrow gate.

Because, Jesus is that narrow gate.

He is forgiving of a repentant heart and the gate is always open to you.

You just have to walk through it.

"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."   2Peter 3:9

Here's one of my favorite songs by Jeremy Camp, which expresses the wonderful only way...Jesus.

Buy it HERE on Amazon

September 12, 2014

Rembrandt's Raising of the Cross

Friday's Thought:

I've been reading Francis Schaeffer's book "How should we then live: The rise and decline of western thought and culture" and came across this painting by Rembrandt.

The author wrote this of Rembrandt and his painting:

"Rembrandt had flaws in his life (as all people do), but he was a true Christian; he believed in the death of Christ for him personally. In 1633 he painted the Raising of the Cross for Prince Frederick Henry of Orange. It now hangs in the museum Alie Pinakothek in Munich. A man in a blue painter's beret raises Christ upon the cross. That man is Rembrandt himself - a self-portrait. He thus stated for all the world to see that his sins had sent Christ to the cross."

Reading this gave me great pause and appreciation, not just for this masterpiece, but for it's deeper meaning, of what Christ did for us.

Art is a beautiful expression of who we are and I'm thankful for artist's like Rembrandt who decided to share his talents with the world and by doing so, shared the gospel.

September 10, 2014

Jane Austen's First Love

This was such a sweet and delightful novel!

If you enjoy the writings of Jane Austen, you are sure to enjoy this Austen inspired novel as well.

The author, Syrie James, has taken a sentence from a letter Jane wrote to her sister Cassandra, and has created a wonderful story of what if...

She quotes and writes in the afterword:

"We went by Bifrons and I contemplated with a melancholy pleasure the abode of him, on whom I once fondly doated."

So wrote Jane Austen in a letter to her sister Cassandra in 1796. That tantalizing sentence has long intrigued me. Every Austen scholar concludes that Jane, as a young woman, was enamored of Edward Taylor, the heir to Bifrons, a grand manor house and estate in Kent - but the details of their relationship were never known. Who was Edward Taylor? What did he mean to Jane Austen? Did he return her affections? How did they meet? 

Fascinated by the implications of this connection, I was determined to learn as much as I could about it. Unfortunately, Austen biographers presented very little information about Edward Taylor, simply repeating the same brief, generic, reference: that Jane met him while visiting her brother Edward in Kent."

Bifrons Manor in Kent, England

Jane is fifteen and spending the summer in Kent on the engagement of her brother Edward, to Elizabeth Bridges. There Jane meets Edward Taylor, an adventurous young man of seventeen.

Filled with historical persons in Jane Austen's real life, as well as hinting at some of her novel's characters and plots throughout, this book is sure to put a smile on the face of any reader who loves her.  : )

Buy it HERE on Amazon

September 5, 2014

Meditate on what is good

Friday's Thought:

If you've been watching the news lately, you know that evil is rampant in this world and it's easy to get overwhelmed by it all.

But what we need to remember is this, that God has not called us to dwell on evil, but to meditate on what is good.

"Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." 
                                                                                  Philippians 4:8
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