September 29, 2015

6 Books I Still Think About

Have you ever read a book that just stayed with you through the years?
I admit I've read a lot of books that I don't even remember were about! But once in awhile something I've read stays with me and has given me a greater understanding of the world, the Bible and God.

Today I thought I'd share a few of these books and what stood out and stayed with me through the years.

The Confessions of St. Augustine - I'd never heard of Augustine before I read this book. And to be honest, I'd never heard must of any church history, until these last few years.

Augustine of Hippo was the beginning for me. He was a bishop in the 4th century. Someone who God transformed from a passive fornicator and dabbler of false religion to a man of God.

There are a few things I often think back on from this book.

Firstly is his thoughts on infants sinning, even though unknowingly, which gave me something to ponder. If we were born into sin then we were sinners as infants, and as an infant, who does not know he is a sinner, so are grown men and women who deny they are sinners, until they come to Christ.

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23

Here is what Augustine said:

"Hear, O God. Alas, for man's sin! So saith man, and Thou pities him; for Thou made him, but sin in him Thou made not. Who reminds me of the sins of my infancy? For in Thy sight none is pure from sin, not even the infant whose life is but a day upon the earth. Who reminds me? Does not each little infant, in whom I see what of myself I remember not?"

Secondly, is his mother's love and endurance in Christ. He talks of his mother a lot in the book. Crediting her with the prayers that brought him to the Lord.

Augustine's love and respect for his mother was beautiful to read, but her love and dedication to God was even more beautiful.

Augustine says of her here:

"I will not leave out what my mind can express about her, your handmaid. Her flesh brought me forth to live in this daylight, as her heart brought me forth to live in eternal light. I shall not speak of her gifts, but of Your gifts in her, since she did not create or teach herself, You created her, and neither her father nor her mother knew what she would become."

Her life, lived so long ago, has had a huge impact on me. Reminding me to pray fervently for my children and to never give up.

And thirdly, Augustine's humbleness. The book is written as a love letter to the Lord and you can feel the emotion as you read. I think Augustine may have shed a few tears while writing it. : )

The Scarlet Letter - This is a novel about judgement and control. About a small 17th century puritan community, who have left the true God behind and fallen into legalism. It will break your heart.

I often think about the man who impregnated Hester Prynne, the woman who was made to wear the scarlet letter. He becomes so broken and there is one scene I just can't get out of my mind. A scene of repentance that is just so beautiful.

Many may think Hester is the heroine of this story with her strength and resistance to the awful things being said and done to her, but for me it was this man who humbly repented before God.

Because only the repentant heart knows who the true Hero is.

"The high and lofty one who lives in eternity,
the Holy One, says this:
I live in the high and holy place
with those whose spirits are contrite and humble.
I restore the crushed spirit of the humble
and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts."
Isaiah 57:15

Mere Christianity - This book single-handedly changed my way of thinking. It set me on a path to seek God and God alone.

Having  a charismatic background, it was easy for me to over spiritualize things. And easy to blame the 'evil spirit' of this or that as the cause of a person's bad behavior. I see now that way of thinking kept me from really looking at myself. It was just easier to blame the devil for everything.

What C.S. Lewis has taught me, is this... I am simply a sinner, and that most of my problems are rooted in my own sinful nature.

Yes, the devil can tempt us, but we need to always start with who God is and who He says we are in sin, before we can see who God is making us to be as new creations when we have surrendered to Him.

Lewis also taught me that God gave us a mind for a use it. To think for ourselves and not believe everything we hear. Learning to discern through God's Word and not of ourselves or others.

Lewis also encouraged me to really look at Jesus.

The quote that moved me the most in this book, was this one:

 "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. 

A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg--or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. 

He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

Jesus said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Matt. 15:16

We must choose. And we must have no doubts about it. This book encouraged me to look at Jesus as He is, to really listen and trust Him.

The Light Between the Oceans - This is a novel about a young couple who live isolated on an island, running a lighthouse. One stormy night changes their lives forever as a baby is washed up on shore.

I just can't get this story out of my mind. This couple makes one wrong decision (to keep the baby, which is not theirs) and it rips them apart. I cried often reading this book. And I still struggle with the emotions of these two characters, who suffered so much while trying to have children. Then they make a mistake, one regrets and one lives in delusion of. I was so torn, should they do the right thing? What is the right thing? It's an emotionally stressful read. One I can't get out of my head.

The lesson for me in this book was, once you start down the wrong path it's hard to get off. You just get deeper and deeper into the darkness. This book had no redemptive answers, but I know there is One who can rescue us from that darkness and that brings me comfort.

"The LORD will rescue his servants; no one who takes refuge in Him will be condemned." Psa. 34:22

Knowing God - This is a very intense book that took me over a year to read. But it was so worth it.

There was one section that I often think on. It's about what it means to be a child of God. The world calls themselves children of God, but are they without Christ? The truth is, when we are saved (born again) we become children of God, before that we were His enemies.

It is such a great comfort to know I am an adopted child of God. And He is a good Father, who since I was born again, will never unadopt me.

I'll let J.I. Packer explain:

"The idea that all are children of God is not found in the Bible anywhere.

The Old Testament shows God as the Father, not of all, but of His own people, the seed of Abraham. 'Israel is my firstborn son,...'Let my son go' (Ex. 4:22-23). 

The New Testament has a world vision, but it too shows God as the Father, not of all, but of those who, knowing themselves to be sinners, put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as their divine sin-bearer and master, and so become Abraham's spiritual seed. 'You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus...You are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed' (Galatians 3:26-29) 

Sonship to God is not, therefore, a universal status into which everyone enters by natural birth, but a supernatural gift which one receives through receiving Jesus. 'No one comes to the Father' - in other words, is acknowledged by God as a son - 'except through me' (John 14:6). The gift of sonship to God becomes ours not through being born, but through being born again. 

"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:  who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." John 1:12-13

Sonship of God, then, is a gift of grace.

It is not a natural but an adoptive sonship, and so the New Testament explicitly pictures it. In Roman law, it was a recognized practice for an adult who wanted an heir, and someone to carry on the family name, to adopt a male as a son - usually at age, rather than in infancy, as is the common way today. 

The apostles proclaim that God has so loved those whom He redeemed on the cross that He has adopted them all as His heirs, to see and share the glory into which His only begotten Son has already come. 'God sent His redeem those under law, that we might receive the full (adoptive) rights of sons' (Galatians 4:4-5): we, that is, who were 'foreordained into adoption as sons by Jesus Christ unto Himself' (Ephesians 1:5). 'How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!...When He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is' (1John 3:1-2).

I think this is very important to understand, as in these days, humankind is trying to spiritually unite, calling themselves all children of God...but without Christ. This is ungodly and unbiblical.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - Though this is not my favorite Narnia book, it does have one unforgettable scene that I love so much.

It's when Eustace is turned back into a boy from being a dragon. He first turns into a dragon when he becomes selfish and hard-hearted. This represents the sin of the first Adam in the garden. One God made good but was tempted and sin entered into the world.

Then when Eustace wants to serve Aslan, Aslan must turn him back into a boy. This can only be done by Aslan, just as only Christ can save us and change us. This is not easy and is very painful for Eustace, representing how hard and painful it is for us to die to our ourselves and live for Christ.

It made me think of Nebuchadnezzar's dream of a great tree cut down in the book of Daniel. The dream was about him! He would be cut down from his glory as king and made like an animal until he repented. Then he sang praises to God and gave Him the glory.

"Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble." Daniel 4:37

Here is Lewis's scene:

"Then the lion said – but I don't know if it spoke – You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

"The very first tear he made was so deep and I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off." 

Do you have something from a book that has stayed with you? Feel free to share in the comments. : )

September 21, 2015

The Life of Charles Spurgeon

Today I thought I'd share this wonderful documentary on the life of Charles Spurgeon. I admit it took 10 or 15 minutes to get into it, but once I got used to the English accents I thoroughly enjoyed it. : ) It's about 2 hours long so you may want to watch in sections or find a time you can sit to watch the whole thing.

The life of Charles Spurgeon isn't really that extraordinary, he became a pastor, married and had children, but what God did through him, really was extraordinary. Spurgeon suffered greatly from depression as well as exhaustion. And there is no doubt where his strength came from. It was from the Lord and Spurgeon would be the first to admit that.

I so highly respect Spurgeon because of his deep devotion to the Lord and also for his commitment to the truth. A commitment that caused him great adversities and deep depressions. But he keep going with the strength of God lifting him up.

I'll leave you with this quote I found at the beginning of his autobiography:

"We want again Luthers, Calvins, Bunyans, Whitefields, men fit to mark eras, whose names breathe terror in our foemen's ears. We have dire need of such. Whence will they come to us? They are the gifts of Jesus Christ to the Church, and will come in due time. He has power to give us back again a golden age of preachers, a time as fertile as great divines and mighty ministers as was the Puritan age, and when the good old truth is once more preached by men whose lips are touched as with a live coal from the alter, this shall be the instrument in the hand of the Spirit for bringing about a great and thorough revival of religion in the land.

I do not look for any other means of converting men beyond the simple preaching of the gospel and the opening of men's ears to hear it. The moment the Church of God shall despise the pulpit, God will despise her. It has been through the ministry that the Lord has always been pleased to revive and bless His church." 

Spurgeon was one of them. A great preacher for truth, whom God used to bless His Church. : )

*You can also watch the film at this website: Through the Eyes of Spurgeon

September 13, 2015

Another Jesus Calling

This is a delicate subject, and I am a little nervous to write about it, as I know many people have found comfort through Sarah Young's book 'Jesus Calling.' I'm hoping you take the time to really think about what I'm sharing here and have an open mind to what Jesus is really saying to us through His Word.

I first heard of Sarah Young's popular book through Tim Challies review ... and he did not recommend it.

I also found Tim Keller's wife, Kathy strongly urging others to not read the book... HERE

This put red flags up for me and I began to think about it more deeply. Here are three options for 'Jesus Calling'

1. Sarah Young actually heard the voice of Jesus Christ (of the Bible) and wrote down what He said. (This is what she claims)

Sarah Young says here:

"I wanted to hear what God had to say to me personally on a given day. I decided to listen to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I believed He was saying."

2. Sarah Young wrote down her own thoughts and claimed them to be of Jesus Christ (of the Bible).

3. A false spirit spoke to Sarah Young and she wrote down what it said to her.

I was glad to have found this book, 'Another Jesus Calling' by Warren B. Smith, as it cleared up some concerns of mine and explained what needs to be looked at more closely in Sarah Young's "Jesus Calling."

Some of my concerns about Sarah Young's book were:

1. Why would the Jesus of the Bible use so much 'new age' terminology as Sarah Young's Jesus does? Terms like: co-create, divine alchemy, Love-Light, Light-bearer, supernatural plane, living channel, paradigm shift, true self, ultimate reality, universal presence.

The truth is Jesus never used any of this terminology, it is all from the new age.

2. Would the Jesus of the Bible promote a new age book called 'God Calling,' channeled by two mystery women as Sarah Young's does? (The publishers have since removed Sarah's Young's praise for this book as well)

Sarah Young says of the new age book 'God Calling'... "My journey began with a devotional book (God Calling) written in the 1930's by two women who practiced waiting in God's Presence, writing the messages they received as they listened."

It doesn't make any sense for Jesus to promote 'God Calling.' Warren B. Smith uses the first part of his book to explain the new age teachings within it.

3. Why did the publishers change some of the book in the past year or two?

I believe the reason for this was to remove the controversial things, so they could make more money from the book. They are a business.

Here is one example that worries me about Sarah Young's Jesus:

In Proverbs 30:5-6 it says:

"Every word of God is pure:
He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.
Do not add to His words,
Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar."

In 'Jesus Calling' Sarah Young's Jesus says on page 233:

"My Word is a lamp to your feet. My Presence is a Light for your path."

This contradicts Psalm 119:105 which says:

"Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path."

This verse does not say His presence is a light for your path, but rather His Word is a light to your path.

This really disturbed me. Sarah Young's Jesus seems to be lying, according to the verses in Proverbs 30:5-6 as she adds her own words.

Who is this Jesus who dictated to Sarah Young? 

That's where this book, 'Another Jesus Calling' comes in. Author Warren B. Smith was heavily involved in the new age movement many years ago before coming to the Lord and he explains the many similarities to what Sarah Young's Jesus teaches.

He breaks his book into two sections. The first section has 10 chapters on the book 'God Calling' that influenced Sarah Young. The second section is about 'Jesus Calling' and has 20 chapters. He also includes 3 appendix:

- Ten Basic Warnings About Deception
- The Gospel of the True Jesus Christ
- Ten Ways to Be More Discerning

In one chapter, he talks about the worldwide misuse of Psalm 46:10 within the Church and the new-age movement. 'Be still and know that I am God' which is also misused in 'Jesus Calling.'

This verse is not a call to meditation or contemplation. This is not a call to sit in silence, but rather as the author of 'Another Jesus Calling' states here:

...the real meaning of this verse has nothing to do with sitting in silence, practicing the presence, or any meditative practice. In reality, God is rebuking the nations of the world and telling them to 'Be still' and to know that He is God. 

It's not only a call to God's people, but also a call to His enemies...

Matthew Henry in his commentary says here of Psalm 46:10:

(1.)Let His enemies be still, and threaten no more, but know it, to their terror, that He is God, one infinitely above them, and that will certainly be too hard for them; let them rage no more, for it is all in vain: He that sits in heaven, laughs at them; and, in spite of all their impotent malice against His name and honor, He will be exalted among the heathen and not merely among His own people, He will be exalted in the earth and not merely in the church. Men will set up themselves, will have their own way and do their own will; but let them know that God will be exalted, He will have His way will do His own will, will glorify His own name, and wherein they deal proudly He will be above them, and make them know that He is so. 

(2.) Let His own people be still; let them be calm and sedate, and tremble no more, but know, to their comfort, that the Lord is God, He is God alone, and will be exalted above the heathen; let Him alone to maintain His honor, to fulfill His own counsels and to support His own interest in the world. Though we be depressed, yet let us not be dejected, for we are sure that God will be exalted, and that may satisfy us; He will work for His great name, and then no matter what becomes of our little names. When we pray, Father, glorify thy name, we ought to exercise faith upon the answer given to that prayer when Christ Himself prayed it, I have both glorified it and I will glorify it yet again. Amen, Lord, so be it.

It is a call to 'be still' and know that He is God, in order to glorify His Great Name, not a call to open our minds and hearts to the supernatural world.

Here is Psalms 46 in context:

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling.

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.

God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.

The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.

Come, behold the works of the LORD,
Who has made desolations in the earth.

He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. 

The Jesus of 'Jesus Calling' twisted Psalm 46:10 in these and many other quotes:

"Sit quietly in My Presence, letting My thoughts reprogram your thinking." (pg. 200)

"Make your mind like a still pool of water, ready to receive whatever thoughts I drop into it." (pg. 228)

"Let me control your mind." (pg. 116)

Where does Jesus say things like this in His Word? Reprogram your thinking? Drop thoughts in your mind? Control your mind?

This is scary stuff, because the Jesus of the Bible never said any of it. And yet Sarah Young is saying He said it to her.

Randy Alcorn in his book 'hand in Hand' says:

"Meaningful choice is essential for genuine love." 

I agree. God does not control our minds, but rather has given us meaningful choice to love Him genuinely.

In Luke 10:25-27 a lawyer questioned Jesus to test Him. The lawyer asked:

"Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"

Jesus answered with a question:

"What is written in the Law? How do you read it?"

The lawyer answered:

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all you soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."

Jesus replied:

"You have answered correctly, do this, and you will live."

Was Jesus trying to control this lawyers mind? Of course not! He was allowing the man to use his own mind to work out the truth so that he could choose genuinely.

God does not control our minds or reprogram our minds, but rather wants us to make a genuine choice to love Him with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and to love others the same way.

Sarah Young's mind-controlling Jesus plainly contradicts the Jesus of the Bible.

Many Christians are being deceived into practicing 'The Presence' and this is not from the Bible, yet Sarah Young's Jesus talks about 'The Presence' over 300 times!

We are called to seek God, not practice Him or His presence.

The real Jesus said: 

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." Matt. 7:7-8

And in the book of Revelation Jesus said:

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me." Rev. 3:20

What He is saying here is, all who come to Him asking for forgiveness in humility and repentance will be saved.

Everyone who asks, seeks and knocks on the door.

These verses are about coming to Christ and surrendering our lives, not about opening the door to the supernatural world or practicing any presence.

Here is a little test for you...

Go to a Bible app site (Blue Letter Bible) or any other, and search 'practicing the presence', or 'practice presence' you will find absolutely nothing in the Bible referring to this.

The simple truth is 'practicing the presence' was introduced into the church by a mystic Catholic monk named Brother Lawrence in the 17th century, and is a practice used by new-agers today. Why is it practiced by new-agers today? Because it is a ancient pagan practice. It was never part of the church, only introduced into it.

Don't be fooled by supposed new things man brings into the church, even by those who are sincere, but instead wholly depend on God's Word.

Warren B. Smith quotes from 'God Calling' the book Sarah Young praises and got her idea to write her own book:

"Wherever the soul is, I am. Man has rarely understood this. I am actually at the center of every man's being, but, distracted with the things of the sense-life, he finds Me not."

This is an outright lie.

This is pantheism and pantheism is... 

"the belief that the Universe (or Nature as the totality of everything) is identical with divinity, or that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent God. Pantheists thus do not believe in a distinct personal or anthropomorphic god." 

The dictionary says of pantheism:

"The doctrine that God is the transcendent reality of which the material universe and human beings are only manifestations: it involves a denial of God's personality and expresses a tendency to identify God and nature."

God is not at the center of every man's being. Sin has separated us from God and it's only the Gospel of Jesus Christ that can bring us into communion with Him. 
Pantheism is the heart of 'practicing the presence'...finding the 'god' within, because it teaches there is no true personal God.

But there is and He is Holy.  


R.C. Sproul in his book 'The Holiness of God' describes God's holiness here:

"When the Bible calls God holy, it means primarily that God is transcendentally separate. He is so far above and beyond us that He seems almost totally foreign to us. To be holy is to be 'other' to be different in a special way."

And he defines God's transcendence here:

"The word transcendence means literally 'to climb across.' It is defined as 'exceeding usual limits.' To transcend is to rise above something, to go above and beyond a certain limit. When we speak of the transcendence of God, we are talking about that sense in which God is above and beyond us. 

Transcendence describes His supreme and absolute greatness. 

The word is used to describe God's relationship to the world. He is higher than the world. He has absolute power over the world. The world has no power over Him. Transcendence describes God in His consuming majesty, His exalted loftiness. It points to the infinite distance that separates Him from every creature. He is an infinite cut above everything else."

It is also important to distinguish between 'practicing the presence' and Biblical meditation.

As I shared above 'practicing the presence' is basically pantheism, but Biblical meditation is, as Warren B. Smith says in his book:

"Biblical meditation is different. We are to meditate on - think on - His word. His precepts, His law, His attributes, His statutes, His testimonies, and His works."

There are so many other interesting things Warren B. Smith shares in his book. Things that Sarah Young's Jesus said to her that contradict Scripture. The new age similarities really upset me. I can guarantee you will not be able to put it down. I highly recommend it to those who are seeking the truth in these matters.

I'll conclude with this. Warren B. Smith says of his book:

"In this book, I have done my best to raise some of my questions and concerns. I am sure my conclusions will upset a great many people who are devoted to Jesus Calling. Obviously, what you do with these conclusions is completely up to you. but I couldn't imagine not bringing what I discovered to your attention. Hopefully, you will consider what I have presented here." 

This is how I feel as well. I hope my thoughts and concerns give you something to ponder and to pray about.

Be assured, there is nothing new in theology except that which is false. —C.H. Spurgeon

*Note: My intention here is not to discourage anyone from reading devotionals. I know there are some wonderful ones out there. Here are a few I've read that were really good:

My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

We Shall See God by Randy Alcorn and Charles Spurgeon

Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman

My Daily Pursuit by A.W. Tozer (This one I haven't read yet, but it's next on my list! I love Tozer) : )

Buy it HERE on Amazon 


September 7, 2015

All Are Wanted, All Are Loved

I've often read God's conversation with Jeremiah:

"Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying:

'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.'

Then said I:

'Ah, Lord GOD!
Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.'

 But the LORD said to me:
'Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’
For you shall go to all to whom I send you,
And whatever I command you, you shall speak.

Do not be afraid of their faces,
For I am with you to deliver you,' says the LORD.

Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me:
'Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.

See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms,
To root out and to pull down,
To destroy and to throw down,
To build and to plant.”   

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Jeremiah was young at the time and God let him know he was wanted, even before he was formed. He was loved before he even existed.

God knew him. God had a plan.

And oh what a plan! A plan of redemption, a plan of forgiveness, a plan of grace.

I recently finished reading the book of Jeremiah and it was so beautiful the way God kept calling His children back, kept giving them another chance. (And they had done some horrific things, things like sacrificing their own children to other gods (Jer. 7:30-31), and though they had to suffer the consequences (Jer. 32:29-30), God continued to pursue them, call them back and keep His promises. (Jer. 4:1, Jer. 31:15-18, Jer. 24:5-7) Oh how I can relate! He calls me back time and again.

His love is unfailing and His promises are always kept. I am so grateful and love Him even more for this. : )

Have you ever deeply thought about how God wanted you? How He calls you and how much He loves you? I think about this sometimes and it is so overwhelming I can't even fathom it, but I know it is true.

I trust Him. He is good.

Each of these beautiful children, from Compassion International's programs, are also wanted by God. He knew them before He formed them and He has a plan for each of them.

All are loved by God.

Just look at their faces.

I see outgoing smiling kids, I see quiet thoughtful kids, I see goofy fun kids.

I see children made in God's image. All wanted, all loved by God.

I recently read a biography of a women named Hannah More, she was a poet, a reformer and an abolitionist in the late 1700's and early 1800's.

The biographer says of her:

"More had a conservative approach to reform (of the poor*) centered on expanding responsibility, not rights, and promoting duty, not democracy."

More said:

"Reformation must begin with the GREAT, or it will never be effectual."

This really moved me.

As Christians we are to give up our rights and live to obey the Lord, and in that obedience we do what is our responsibility, not our right.

One of our responsibilities is to help the poor. Feed them, cloth them, teach them and share the Gospel with them.

Will you give?

Would you consider sponsoring a child in need?

Here's an opportunity for you.

Check out Compassion's website here: Compassion International

*NOTE: Emphasize (*) mine.

September 1, 2015

The Cross He Bore


"For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgement and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this." 

Isaiah 9:6-7

Jesus is Wonderful, He is our Counselor, our Mighty God, our Everlasting Father, our Prince of Peace.

He is why I am a Christian.

I loved this book, The Cross He Bore, which was filled with meditations on the sufferings of the redeemer.

It reminded me that we should reflect on the Cross more often.

And it gave me a greater appreciation of every step Jesus took, from the garden of Gethsemane, to the beatings He endured, to the Cross, to the grave and to His resurrection.

I can truly say I was overwhelmed by His love while reading it. What He did is so far beyond anything I could do for Him. I am completely at His mercy, and I am so grateful He gives it freely.

The author of this book, Frederick S. Leahy, delves deeper into each step Christ took and I learnt so much more than I knew before.

Here are the chapter headings:

1.  Man of Sorrows
2.  Prayerful Submission
3.  Strengthened To Suffer
4.  Satan's Hour
5.  The Dumb Lamb
6.  Taking the Oath
7.  Sentenced To Death
8.  The Butt of Mockery
9.  The Crown of Thorns
10. Outside the Gates
11. Satan's Cup Refused
12. Outer Darkness

In the introduction Edward Donnelly says here:

"We are too apt to hurry past the cross, to undervalue, in spite of ourselves, the supreme mystery of the ages by a shallow assumption that we know it all. We don't and never will. But we need to take time to learn as much as we can. We need to 'behold', to 'survey', to 'stand and stare."

And the author, Frederick S. Leahy, starts the first chapter with this:

"The Gospels are not mere biographies; indeed, strictly speaking they are not biographies at all, for they are silent on much of the earthly life of Christ. Their purpose is theological, to convey to mankind what God has done in Christ for the salvation of sinners. They proclaim good news and the cross is the center of that saving message."

How blessed are we here in North America to have easy access to Bibles? To be able to read the Good New whenever we want, when so many around the world are starving for it. We should never take it for granted, never leave it on the shelf.

Where would I be if I hadn't heard the Gospel?

Everything in this book stood out to me. It's a book that I will definitely be reading again and again and I rarely re-read books!

Here's a few great quotes to give you a taste of what truths you will find in it.

This is from the first chapter, 'Man of Sorrows':

"...the death of Christ is different from every other death. True, the physical aspect of His death has much in common with other deaths, but there the comparison ends. He died as the Surety for His people and as their Substitute. 

Not only must He experience physical death, but also He must taste eternal death - damnation - separation from God! In all of this He must grapple with Satan and destroy death itself (Gen. 3:15, 1 Cor. 15:26). There is no analogy between the death of Socrates and that of Christ. Christ's death is not to be compared with any other."

This is something I've thought of often. What was different? This book will help you understand that difference more clearly, and appreciate more fully what Christ did for us.
In the second chapter, 'Prayerful Submission' we are in the garden of Gethsemane and are reminded that Jesus was the second Adam (1 Cor. 15:45) the Scriptures talk about:

"In Gethsemane it was never a question whether the Savior would obey or disobey. In Eden God asked, 'Adam, where are you?' In a sense the question was repeated in Gethsemane and this Adam did not try to hide; He had no need to; His whole response was clearly, 'Here am I!' Willingly and voluntarily the Good Shepard laid down His life for the sheep."

This next quote was an answer to prayer for me. There are many false teaching out there, one being the kenotic theory, which teaches that Jesus emptied Himself of His divinity when He came to earth.

This is from chapter 3 'Strengthened to Suffer':

The Bible says in Phil. 2:7:

"He made Himself of no reputation."

"This is commonly translated to read that Christ 'emptied Himself', and B.B. Warfield regards this as a mistranslation. Certainly Christ could not have emptied Himself of His divine essence, for then He would have ceased to be God. The kenotic theory, that Christ divested Himself of His deity, or at least of certain divine attributes, became popular with 19th-century German theologians and survived in various modified forms. It presents a Jesus who is either 'shrunken deity' or else not truly human. 

And as Warfield says cogently, 'No Christian heart will be satisfied with a Christ in whom there was no Godhead at all while He was on earth, and in whom there may be no manhood at all now that He has gone to heaven.' Warfield stresses that there is no half-way house between the doctrine that Christ is both God and man and that Christ is merely man. Someone has said that a Jesus who is just less than God is like a bridge broken at the farther end. Such a Jesus could not deliver from Satan and sin, and such a Jesus the Bible does not present."

I agree... Christ was and is both fully man and fully God. That's the Jesus the Bible presents.

In chapter 5 'The Dumb Lamb' we have Jesus keeping silent. What does this say about Him?

"Christ's silence was deliberate, emphatic and authoritative: it was His deed. The passivity of His suffering was real, but so was the activity of His obedience. Led as a lamb to the slaughter and like a sheep dumb before the shearers, He was active right up to and on the cross. He went as a king to die."

In chapter 7 'Sentenced To Death' This quote was hard to read but so true non-the-less:

"At no point did the Savior receive justice from man. And every sinner has said in effect, 'Away with Him...I will not have this man to reign over me."

The author then quotes this beautiful poem by Horatius Bonar:

I see the scourges tear his back,
I see the piercing crown,
And of that crowd who smite and mock,
I feel that I am one,

'Twas I that shed the sacred blood,
I nailed him to the tree,
I crucified the Christ of God,
I joined the mockery.

Yet not the less that blood avails,
To cleanse away my sin,
And not the less that cross prevails
To give me peace within.

The author says of Jesus while being flogged in chapter 8, 'The Butt of Mockery':

"As that suffering, humiliated figure stood there, His tormentors despised Him in their hearts. They thought that He was utterly helpless in their hands. 

How wrong they were!

Christ was never in retreat, never merely passive. At this moment He was actively and voluntarily exposing Himself to the fury of His enemies. Now came the fulfillment of those prophetic words, 'I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting' (Isaiah 50:6)."

Chapter 11 'Satan's Cup Refused' was extremely moving for me. It is a powerful testimony to what Christ did for us.

" The cup that the Father placed in the Son's hands was brimful of wrath and judgement. Its every drop brought torment. 

Yet this cup He would drink to the glory of God! 

This cup He would drink in honor of God's holiness and righteousness. This cup of death He would drink in order that not one of His people might ever taste a single drop of it. 'Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?' (John 18:11). Yes, indeed! He would drink it to its dregs. He would drain that cup. Not one drop would be left."

We can never repay Him for this. We can only accept His gift of grace.

Jesus went through all of this for us, then He conquered death and rose again.

The author says in chapter 13 'Outer Darkness':

"Christ spoke solemnly of 'outer darkness', associating it with unspeakable anguish (Matt. 8:12, 22:13, 25:30). 

To redeem His people He entered and endured that darkness. 

Now He calls us 'out of darkness into His marvelous light.' He is the true light and those who follow Him 'will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life' (1Peter 2:9, John 8:12).

I highly recommend this book!! It encouraged me to think more deeply on Christ and the Cross.

I'd like to share this beautiful song by Aaron Shust which encourages me to look to the Savior.

"My Savior My God"

I am not skilled to understand
What God has willed what God Has planned
I only know at his right hand
Stands one who is my Savior

I take him at his word and deed
Christ died to save me this I read
And in my heart I find the need
Of him to be my Savior

That he would leave his place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You called it strange so once did I
Before I knew my Savior

My Savior loves
My Savior lives
My Savior's always there for me

My God he was
My God he is
My God he's always gonna be

Yes living, dying let me bring
My strength my Solace from the Spring
That he who lives to be my king
Once died to be my Savior

That he would leave his place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You called it strange, so once did I
Before I knew my Savior

My Savior loves
My Savior lives
My Savior's always there for me

My God he was
My God he is
My God he's always gonna be

I'll leave you with this great quote about Jesus:

"The real truth is that while He came to preach the Gospel, His chief object in coming was that there might be a Gospel to preach."  R.W. Dale

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