Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Welcome to the Christian Carnival!

Welcome to the September 28th version of the Christian Carnival!
This week, in order to generate some interaction between all of the blogger participants, I am offering to give away a brand new resource called: The World-Tilting Gospel: Embracing a Biblical Worldview and Hanging on Tight by Dan Phillips. The winner of the free copy will be the blogger to visit the most websites featured on this week's Carnival - and to write an encouraging and/or insightful comment on the other bloggers' sites!! Hopefully, this will help create some online interaction and fellowship.

UPDATE: As it turns out, it seems like the majority of the blog sites are having issues with comment posting. So, what I'm going to do is have anyone who would like a chance to win the book either email me (DEBLW at YAHOO dot COM) or put a comment on this blog post. Next week, I will announce the winner of the book and send a copy by Oct. 15th. Hope this helps!


Enjoy your reading!

Apologetics
Maryann Spikes presents Peter Williams on how the Gospels get people, places and plants right posted at Ichthus77.

Deb (that would be me:) presents Which is Easier? posted at All Things New.

Dean presents My Jarrol Spot: Gracious Sovereignty posted at My Jarrol Spot

Narratives
Ched presents When Hope Screams . . . posted at Ched Spellman.

Ridge Burns presents Setting Off the Alarm posted at Ridge's Blog.

Melanie Grant presents Learning Chinese Mandarin as a Second or Third Language posted at Mel's Mouthful on Mothering.

Rebecca LuElla Miller presents Groaning posted at A Christian Worldview of Fiction.


Devotionals
loswl presents The True Meaning of Grace posted at INSPIKS.

Russ White presents Misunderstanding Judgment posted at Thinking in Christ.

Jenny Davis presents Listening posted at InFaith's Mission Blog.

Henry Neufeld presents Our Father posted at Under Christ's Archy.

Zowada presents Jesus should not be first in your life. posted at Zowada Blog.

Josh presents 20 Inspirational Bible Verses About God’s Love posted at What Christians Want To Know.

Jason Price presents Needs vs Wants: What’s the Difference? posted at One Money Design.

Richard H. Anderson presents Fatigue in keeping time posted at dokeo kago grapho soi kratistos Theophilos.

Josanne presents Is Submission In Marriage Slavery? Part 1 posted at Just Josanne.

Ashley Reid presents Be About Our Change: Living What We Preach (Troy Davis Case) posted at The Real.

Future Submissions:
Submit your blog article to the next edition of christian carnival ii using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Which is Easier?

Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, take up your bed and walk'?” (MAR 2:9).

I love having Bible study with young people from other countries who are new to the Bible and new to Christianity. Sometimes, their questions bring out things in our discussions that shed a new insight or perspective that I’ve never thought of. And their questions always make me think deeply about what I believe and why I believe it.

As we were studying Mark’s Gospel account of Jesus forgiving the sins of the paralytic, we came to the part where Jesus says: “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, take up your bed and walk'?” (MAR 2:9).

One of our Asian students looked puzzled about the question and responded: “What sins could the paralytic need to be forgiven of? If he was paralyzed, maybe he didn’t have that many sins?” Another student, from an African country, added, “So, maybe it was easier to forgive his sins than to heal him?”

Now, I’ve been in several past church Bible studies with other Christian and we always seem to take for granted that it is easier to physically heal someone than to actually forgive their sins. Even the scribes and Pharisees in the text knew that! After all, they had thought to themselves, who does this guy think he is?? Only God can forgive sins (MAR 2:8).

Church people understand that only God can forgive sins. We’ve been trained, after all.

But it wasn’t until I had to walk some folks brand new to the Bible through the sinfulness of sin that I realized how much we probably all take this for granted – And how much more we are like the paralytic than we even know.

You see, a paralytic is similar to the Pharisee, in a strange sort of way. A Pharisee (in the most negative connotation that we often use) measures holiness primarily by outward adherence to rules. “Don’t handle, don’t taste, don’t touch!” If we can keep our outward circumstances in check, then we will rule out temptation to commit outwardly sinful acts. This is exactly what our international students were picking up on! The paralytic has (probably) never committed adultery, murder, theft, or serious rebellious acts.

So, observing the lame man strictly from an outward vantage point, as we humans are so prone to see other people, one might imagine that this man’s sins are not all that great. On the other hand, we know that his physical disability is very great. So, in our human nature, we are prone to think that it is more difficult to be healed physically than to be healed spiritually – that is, to be forgiven from our sins.

By the work of the Holy Spirit in us, we do come to believe and understand what Jesus taught later in the Sermon on the Mount: If we hate our brother or sister, we are guilty of murder in our hearts. If we look lustfully on another person’s spouse, we are guilty of adultery. If we covet another’s position, wealth or goods, we are guilty of theft inour hearts. And on and on it goes. If we live and breathe, we’ve committed enough sin in our thoughts alone to separate us from our Holy, Majestic, Perfect Creator for all eternity. If we understand the human heart’s wickedness, we know that no matter how good we look to the world, we are always in desperate need of a Savior who can forgive our sins!

Make no mistake, the most difficult thing that Jesus did while he was incarnate and dwelled among us was to pay the penalty for our sins by suffering a cruel death on the cross, enduring the Father’s wrath for every sin of ours – past, present, and future. Being separated from his Heavenly Father as he became sin for us caused Jesus to cry out: “My God, My God! Why have you forsaken me?” Yes, by His Wounds We are Healed! But the hands-down most significant healing he gives us is the healing of our souls, by the forgiveness of our sins.

One day. One day, dear brother, dear sister in Christ. We who have received the forgiveness of our sins by faith in Christ, one day will have perfect bodies! Fully healed bodies – without any more pain or disease or suffering! This, Jesus promises us!! And today we can pray for the consummation of his healing in our physical bodies, and we praise the doctors who are able to fix us temporarily. Even unbelievers can be healed supernaturally or by medical doctors in this temporal life that we live, and so we can pray for them. But only by faith in Christ are we forgiven our sins.

One day, these mortal bodies of ours will pass away (unless we are alive at the resurrection). But then, the worst thing that we can imagine happening to us in this life as a result of the decay of sin, our physical deaths, will usher us into the absolute best thing that we have been given in Christ – Our eternal communion with Him!! The forgiveness of our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ IS the gift of eternal life.

So, now we ask again with Jesus, “Which is easier?”
I hope the "textbook answer" has a greater meaning to you after reading this explanation. It has to me!

Application to those of us in the church:
After we fill our prayer lists with all of the abundant physical needs that God has laid on our hearts to pray for -- the great needs which we see around us everywhere -- let us also ask by God’s mercy for whom do need to pray that Jesus will forgive their sins? And let us confess our own sins to one another, so that we may repent and be set free, and so that we can encourage one another.

Let us go to any lengths (as the paralytic's friends did by digging a hole in the roof and lowering him down in front of Christ) to bring all of these to the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ that they and we may hear His Word and receive His forgiveness of sins. To the glory of our holy God!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Polemics as medicine, not food

Excerpt from Tim Keller's blog on the topic of Polemics:
"Polemics is medicine, not food. Without medicine we will surely die—we can’t live without it. This is why polemical theology must be a required part of every theological curriculum. Yet we cannot live on medicine. If you engage in polemics with relish and joy—if polemics takes up a significant percentage or even a majority of your time and energy—it is like trying to live on medicine alone. It won’t work for the church or for you."
Read the entire post here>>>

A couple of interesting things this quote brought to mind:
- Medicine can be addicting - so can engaging in polemics all the time
- Medicine heals and restores - so the goal of polemics is not to defeat and demoralize, but to restore and heal each other.

That's some pretty good medicine!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Christ, the Church, Fidelity & Pat Robertson

Russell Moore writes" "Christ, the Church, and Pat Robertson"

Here is his conclusion (but don't miss the entire article, here>>>):
"Jesus tells us he is present in the weak, the vulnerable, the useless. He is there in the least of these (Matt. 25:31-46). Somewhere out there right now, a man is wiping the drool from an 85 year-old woman who flinches because she think he’s a stranger. No television cameras are around. No politicians are seeking a meeting with them.

"But the gospel is there. Jesus is there."

Amen and Amen!!! (ht:challies.com)

Five Books Every Christian Should Read

Yesterday Michael Horton shared his list of The Five Books that Every Christian Should Read:

1. Athanasius, On the Incarnation
2. Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians
3. John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion (Which isn’t as hard as the title sounds!)
4. The Heidelberg Catechism
5. R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God

I've read #2, #3, and #5 completely. Most of #4. And none of #1. Since I'm Presbyterian, I'm more a WCF person than a Heidleberg Catechism person. However, since I lived in Heidelberg for a year -- and since Dr. Horton is recommending it, I suppose I will at both it and Athanasius, On the Incarnation, to my WishList.

Great ideas! HT:White Horse Inn Blog

Monday, September 12, 2011

It is Truth! (ee-taow!)

An incredible story of an older couple with children who were called to bring the Gospel message to a tribe of people in New Guinea. The video is about 20 minutes long. Enjoy!

EE-TAOW (The Mouk Story) from oliver wong on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Gospel at Ground Zero

Here is a short, but great excerpt:
"In the word of the Cross, God tells us he knows all our traumas, our insurgencies, our secrets -- and that he has already executed them at Golgotha. We need not fear hell, not because there isn't one, but because -- if we are found in Christ -- we have already been through all of that. We are free. And whenever our consciences accuse, the gospel takes us away from denial or preoccupation and right back to Ground Zero -- the the Cross."

Eight Objections to Being a Missionary

Brother Eugene, a missionary to China, posted an article that answers the Eight Most Common Objections that People Have to Becoming a Missionary. The original article is by John Piper, but you can read the latest post here>>>.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sola Scripture - Free PDF Giveaway

If anyone would like a free copy of Sola Scripture on PDF, email me or let me know in the comments.

Update: the free pdf has been claimed (I received three emails -- and no comnents, in total).

Sola Scripture is published by Reformation Heritage Books and the contributing authors are:
Dr. W. Robert Godfrey is president of Westminster Seminary California in Escondido, California, and professor of church history there.

Dr. James White is the director of Alpha & Omega Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is a professor, having taught Greek, systematic theology, and various topics in the field of apologetics.

Dr. R. C. Sproul is founder, chairman, and president of Ligonier Ministries of Lake Mary, Florida, and minister of preaching and teaching at Saint Andrew’s in Sanford, Florida.

Dr. Derek W. H. Thomas, a native of Wales, is a professor of systematic and practical theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi, and minister of teaching at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson.

Dr. John MacArthur is pastor/teacher at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. Dr. MacArthur also serves as president of the Master’s College and Seminary in Southern California.

Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson is senior minister of First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina, and professor of systematic theology at Redeemer Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas.

Dr. Joel R. Beeke is a pastor of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation; president of and professor of systematic theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary; editor of the Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth magazine; editorial director for Reformation Heritage Books; president of Inheritance Publishers; and vice president of the Dutch Reformed Translation Society, all in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Rev. Ray B. Lanning is pastor of the First Reformed Presbyterian Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Ordained to the ministry in 1977, he has served Presbyterian and Reformed churches in various parts of the United States and Canada.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"We are not little Adams"


"The first Adam failed terribly, but God sent a second and last Adam into the world, the Lord Jesus Christ. Chapter 3 tells the main points of this wonderful biblical story. Christ the last Adam not only took upon himself the penalty of the first Adam’s sin, but also took upon himself the responsibility of fulfilling Adam’s original task. Christ offered perfect obedience in this world to his Father, and was exalted to his right hand as a result. The Lord Jesus, as a human being—as the last Adam—has attained the original goal held out for Adam: a glorified life ruling the world-to-come. Because Jesus has fulfilled the first Adam’s commission, those who belong to Christ by faith are no longer given that commission. Christians already possess eternal life and claim an everlasting inheritance. God does not call them to engage in cultural labors so as to earn their place in the world-to-come. We are not little Adams. Instead, God gives us a share in the world-to-come as a gift of free grace in Christ and then calls us to live obediently in this world as a grateful response. Our cultural activities do not in any sense usher in the new creation. The new creation has been earned and attained once and for all by Christ, the last Adam. Cultural activity remains important for Christians, but it will come to an abrupt end, along with this present world as a whole, when Christ returns and cataclysmically ushers in the new heaven and new earth."

VanDrunen, David (2010). Living in God's Two Kingdoms (p. 28). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Thanks to Challies.com announcing the great Kindle deal (just $3) on VanDrunen's book, I have the pleasure of reading this gem of a book this week. The quote above was taken from the introduction and seemed to capture the essence of why I'm excited about reading it.