BEWARE THE HOLY TROLLER BTW, J esus L ives ! SPIRITUAL ALLERGIES? (BLESS YOU)
A publication of On My Own Now Ministries, Inc.
GENUINE MOTIVATION Young Christian Man April/May 2014, Vol. 5 On My Own Now Ministries, Inc., Publisher Rob Beames, Editor
in this issue... Foremost
All Things Subject to the Risen Christ John Piper
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Donna Schillinger Page Design
Contributors Pete Alwinson, Rob Beames, Will Dole, Sam Harris, Key Life Ministries, Thom Mollohan, Jason Moore, John Piper Except where noted, content is copyright 2014 On My Own Now Ministries. Articles may be reprinted with credit to author, Genuine Motivation and www.OnMyOwnNow.com. On My Own Now Ministries, Inc. is a nonprofit organization with a 501 (c) (3) determination. Your donations aid in our mission to encourage faith, wise life choices and Christ-likeness in young adults during their transition to living on their own. We welcome submissions of original or repurposed articles that are contributed without expectation of compensation. May God repay you. Visit us at www.OnMyOwnNow.com.
The Wonder of it All Will Dole
Real Relationships Beware the Holy Troll Trap Sam Harris
Can You Relate A Costly Ransom Thom Mollohan
BTW, Jesus Lives! by
Spiritual Peanut Allergies by
.6 .8 .10 .12 .14
May God Bless the Hell out of you Dangerous Freedom by
By John Piper
All Things Subject to the Risen Christ I
n one sense Christ has the right to rule the universe because He is God, not because He died and rose again. He did not have to die and rise in order to be what He was. And what He is from all eternity is God. This gives Him the right to exercise authority over all things. â€œIn the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was Godâ€? (John 1:1-2). Christ is God, and as God has all authority to submit all things to Himself.
But in another sense God the Father decreed that it would be most fitting, appropriate, beautiful, good, and right for the one who rules the world of fallen humankind, and everything that relates to humans in their suffering, would be One who bore their likeness, and endured their temptations, and suffered their pain, and died their death. God decreed that the one who would rule in power would be a redeemer who suffered with us and for us in this world. God decreed that the 3 GM
Foremost Lion of Judah when He comes in power and great glory to bring judgment on the earth will have been a lamb slain for sin on that earth (Revelation 6:16). Here is one verse in this regard: Hebrews 2:10, “For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” The Lord and Judge and Savior over all the universe was tested and found perfect through human suffering. Now He is doubly suited for His role as Lord of the universe: He is God with natural rights, and He is Redeemer with purchased rights. He can put his foot on Satan’s neck not just because of raw divine power—which would have been enough—but also because He exposed himself to Satan’s temptations and to His final weapon, death, and broke it on Easter Sunday morning. So he is doubly suited to rule. He has Creator rights and Redeemer rights. And now with all that in mind we read in Philippians 3:21 that He has “the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” In order to marvel at this power of Christ today, consider 1) its scope, 2) its process, 3) its pervasiveness, 4) its triumph, 5) its finality for man, 6) its duration, and 7) its final base of operation. Marvel at the scope of Christ’s power today.
After His resurrection, Jesus said in Matthew 28:18, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” There is no higher authority than Christ’s, not on the earth, not in heaven. And Philippians 2:10 adds, not “under the earth.” There is no place or sphere of reality or dimension of existence anywhere in the universe that is not under the absolute authority of Jesus Christ. 4 MAY14
When the world doesn’t look like it is under the authority of Christ, it would be wiser for us to marvel at the mystery of his ways (the way Paul does in Romans 11:33) than to question the scope of his power. Marvel at the process of Christ’s power today.
While Christ has absolute authority and power over all things, He does not yet use that power to completely subdue His enemies. Not yet. His kingdom advances by the preaching of the gospel and by the sacrificial love of His people. In this way unbelief and spiritual darkness and demonic deception are defeated by the power and beauty of Christ. When this process has gone as far as God wills, Christ will step in and finish the victory. Here is the way Paul said it in 1 Corinthians 15:24-27: “Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’” “He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” So His power and authority are complete. But the process of subjection goes on at the pace He chooses. Our job is not to know the times and the seasons which the Father has set by His own authority (Acts 1:7). Our job is to marvel at the scope and process of His power, and speak the gospel. Marvel at the pervasiveness of Christ’s power today.
Christ’s power pervades the universe from the largest to the smallest elements of reality. Colossians 1:17 says, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” And Hebrews 1:3 says, “He upholds the universe by the word of
Foremost his power.” Christ’s authority is absolutely pervasive. No galaxy, no atom, no demon would stay in being without the authority of Jesus Christ.
be found an enemy of that power. Marvel, don’t mock.
Marvel at the triumph of Christ’s power today.
Namely, the earth. It will be renewed. All sin and sickness and satanic power will be removed. It will be a new heaven and a new earth. But not another one. The same one renewed. That’s why He comes back in power. Matthew 24:30, “Then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Marvel, therefore, that the scope and process and pervasiveness and triumph and finality and duration of Christ’s power by which He subjects all things to Himself will be based finally on the earth. That is the first focus for our marveling at Christ this morning. Marvel at His power to subject all things to Himself. Philippians 3:21b, “. . . by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”
1 Peter 3:22 says, He “has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.” When Christ died and rose again, He was triumphant over all the powers of hell. He knew this triumph was coming, so He said to Peter in Matthew 16:18, “I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” In other words, hell cannot defeat Jesus. His triumph is sure. He will accomplish all His purposes for the church and for the universe. Marvel at the finality for man in Christ’s power today.
Jesus said in John 5:27, “[God] has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.” The GodMan has the right to act as God in judging men. And He will. And it will be final. There is no court of appeals above Christ. And John 17:2 shows how this authority is full of hope for those who belong to Jesus, “You [God] have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.” Both judgment and eternal life are in His hands. For every human being. Marvel at the finality of the authority of such a judge. Marvel at the duration of Christ’s power today.
In Revelation 11:15 loud voices in heaven said, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” There will never be another chapter after Christ. Nothing comes after Christ. His power and authority last forever. Don’t
Marvel at the final base of operation of Christ’s power.
Marvel That Today Your Citizenship Is in Heaven Where Christ Rules
Philippians 3:20, “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” If you are a believer in Christ, you do not have to wait for the second coming of Christ to know where your home is: heaven or hell. When you trust Christ your name is sealed on the citizen roles of heaven. Not because you will live there forever instead of on the new earth. But because your King is there. And when He comes, your citizenship comes with Him. Where He is, there you have the privilege and the right to be. This article is excerpted from the sermon “All Things Subject to the Risen Christ” by John Piper. ©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org
The Wonder of it All
ave you ever stared up into the night sky “ and pondered how God is way beyond our comprehension? He set the stars in their place, spins the earth on its axis and created entire galaxies. He knows when a sparrow falls to the ground. He exists outside of time and is the only truly eternal being, having no beginning or end. He entered time as a man to save sinners. He is spirit and is the Creator of matter, but in no way restricted by its limitations. God emptied Himself, took on flesh and was obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. The amazing acts and attributes of God should command a childlike wonder from us. One way of pursuing this wonder, although it is by no means the only method, is through the Bible. It is our primary way of knowing what He is like, including what is amazing, unsearchable, and inscrutable about Him. The Bible is the vehicle by which we can come
to truly know God. It contains God’s special written revelation to us. In it we come to know His character, His purposes for the world, and most importantly, we come to know His Son. But the fact that Scripture is our highest source of revelation does not imply that it is our only source of revelation. Creation also reveals much to us about God. Scripture bear witness to this, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge” (Psalm 19:1-2). The heavens declare God’s glory and the skies proclaim the work of His hands. You might say that to look up into the sky is to see an incomparably large billboard which seems to scream, “God made me! Is His work not amazing?” The fact that God exists is made manifestly clear to us simply by observing what is around us when we walk outside. But is this
the only thing creation tell us? Is there more that it has to say? “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:18-21). In this passage, the Apostle Paul tells us, not only that creation reveals the existence of God, but also that it clearly displays His eternal power and divine nature. They are so apparent that the only way men can ignore these things is to suppress the truth in their wickedness, refusing to glorify God. This is what we all by nature do. If these things are available for the unbeliever to see then certainly believers can see them as well. Can we not look at the skies and see the handiwork of God? We can, and we should. As we leave March behind and spring begins, this is the perfect time of year to begin this endeavor. Martin Luther wrote, “Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection not in books alone, but in every leaf in the springtime.” The resurrection of nature symbolizes the resurrection of Jesus and should encourage us all to get outside and look around. Look and see the excellence of what God has made and consider the implications of His work. Jesus encouraged His followers to combat worry in their lives by focusing on the wonder of God: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you
by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:26-30). Jesus tells us to look at the birds of the air and see the flowers of the field. It is one thing to read this and think, “Sure, God takes care of the birds, so He will take care of me.” It is another to actually sit and observe birds and see that they are in fact well cared for by our heavenly Father. We can easily acknowledge that flowers do nothing to attain their beauty, but it takes more effort to put aside our busy schedules in order to walk through a flower garden or a field of wildflowers and ponder the fact that these beautiful things did nothing to earn their beauty. God simply chose to clothe them so wonderfully. It’s difficult to really feel the weight of something unless we truly seek to do so. We will not feel the same smallness that the psalmist describes in Psalm 8 unless we’re standing outside at night gazing at the stars. We probably won’t cultivate a deep trust in God without considering His creation. While feelings should not define our faith, they are important. We need to believe with all that we are.This requires time but not necessarily an immense amount of time. It only takes an hour or so to walk outside and watch birds—an hour of ignoring our phone, leaving our laptop in the house and actually marveling at that little fourounce guy bouncing around looking for worms and seeds. This also requires discipline to focus on what we see. Wonder has a hard time grabbing hold of a distracted heart. Don’t let this spring pass without taking in the wonder of it all. Will Dole is pursuing a life in ministry and currently works with South Lake Youth Ministries in Plummer, Idaho. Visit him at www.cdubthinking.blogspot.com.
Real Relationships by
Holy Troll Trap
ecently, thousands of spectators across the country watched as a clash of ideologies took place. Bill Nye, beloved science guy of children’s television, debated Ken Ham, creationist and founder of Answers in Genesis. As I watched the debate, I analyzed both sides trying to keep a fair mind despite my already firm belief in biblical creationism. After both men had been going back and forth for a while, it seemed to me that they both had flaws in their arguments; both had begun repeating themselves and even attacking each other at times. The way the argument went back and forth with neither man willing to concede reminded me of certain internet discussion boards, like Facebook, where heated discussions tend to take place. But before I point the finger at individual debaters or the faceless masses of the internet, I have to admit that it also reminded me of myself— once upon a time. There was a time, earlier in my undergraduate years, when I spent far too many hours arguing with skeptics and atheists on the internet. Sometimes it was with old acquaintances from high school or people I’d encountered through mutual friends, many of whom I had never met 8 MAy144
in person. Whenever topics related to Christianity came up, I was convinced that it was my job to persuade these people to believe the truth of the Bible. Armed with an introductory philosophy course and one on creation studies, I crowned myself captain of my own debate team. I had listened to different speakers on the issues and done some internet research of my own. Whether the topic was creationism versus evolution, or historical evidence for the Bible’s prophecies, or even biblically-based politics in the modern world, I felt fully equipped to change people’s minds with my extensive knowledge and superior debating skills. After all, if I didn’t correct people when they were wrong, then how would they ever be saved? How could anyone refuse to believe the truth with so much compelling evidence on my side? That was my mindset then. To be fair, some attempts to persuade skeptics may have taken on healthy and civil discussions, but all too often these debates escalated into full-blown arguments. Both the Christian and atheist in the conversations would sometimes get angry or become offensive by implying that the other person was stupid or blind for not agreeing with the other. While my arguments may have been sound, my actions and attitudes were definitely flawed. It turns out that no one was saved due to my arguments. Not one showed the slightest desire to become a Christian. That’s not surprising. In most cases,
Christ wasn’t represented very well. What may have been good intentions, at first, ultimately became an effort to provoke people. Trying to win an argument became more important than showing love. I had become a holy troll. Somewhere along the way, I realized that this isn’t our mission. These types of arguments do more harm than good for obvious reasons. The hostility displayed is largely ineffective. Yelling and insulting are much less likely change minds than kind reasoning. As a current teaching assistant for a college freshman English course, I stress that students write arguments which are credible and ethical, not only by the words they use, but also in the way those words are communicated. Civility, kindness and understanding go a long way in keeping disagreements healthy and thought provoking. Not only is a peaceful disposition the practical way to handle differences, but it’s also the Christian way. We are told in I Peter 3:15 to be prepared to give an answer but “with gentleness and respect.” Upon further reflection, our entire approach can be flawed. Even if our discussions remain entirely peaceful, they may not be the best ones to have in the first place. Logical arguments don’t change people’s minds or speak to their hearts as does God’s Word and genuine Christian love. If we think about it, Jesus didn’t seem as focused on debating creationism or homosexuality with the scribes and the Pharisees as He was about showing love to broken, contrite sinners. He did speak forcefully to His opponents when the situation called for it. He even invited doubters of the miracles He performed to carefully consider the evidence before them. So, there’s definitely a time and a place for those conversations and there’s ultimately nothing wrong with people like Ham and Nye debating. But we as Christians should engage in those discussions if, and
only if, we still have the central message of the Gospel in mind, with Christ’s love guiding all that we do and say. After all, to paraphrase Paul in I Corinthians 13, what good is it if we say a lot of fancy words or try to do a lot of great things for God, but do so without love? To an extent, it’s fine to be skilled at apologetics and use logical arguments to back one’s beliefs. There is quite a bit of historical and scientific evidence to support the Bible’s claims. But the very word “apologetics” comes from the Greek word apologia, which in the above verse from Peter means an answer or defense. Therefore, apologetics and intellectual knowledge should be used more as a shield. They’re great for defending against the criticisms of others, but we shouldn’t wield them as a sword to attack or attempt to win over others to our side. God’s Word is the only sword that “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). So let us beware the trap of acting like holy trolls on the internet or jerks for Jesus anywhere in life. If we do want to lead people to Jesus, as we should, then let us do so as Jesus did—not with a mean spirit, but by building meaningful relationships and showing genuine love. Sam Harris is continuously striving to follow Jesus Christ more closely and to love others more fully. He is currently pursuing an M.A. in English at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he also works as a teaching assistant for English classes. He enjoys writing nonfiction accounts of his life experiences, as well as science-fiction and fantasy stories and the occasional poem. He would like to be either a teacher, a writer, or a superhero when he grows up. You can find his blog at www.sirrahleumas. wordpress.com, or like “Samuel N. Harris” on Facebook.
Can You Relate by
A Costly Ransom
he greatest danger facing you today is that of overlooking the eternal essence of your temporal life. Does that seem like a contradiction? How can something temporal be eternal at the same time? While our days are numbered, there is a part of us that endures beyond the demise of our physical frames. And it’s this enduring part that makes us who we really are. It’s also the part of us about which God is the most passionate. With an eternal perspective, He engages humanity in an urgency that is not primarily focused on the here and now, but upon the hereafter. We may not like to think about death and what comes after that, but God very much wants us to be thinking about that subject. Consider Jesus’ remarks in Matthew 16:26, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” So here we are in what some might describe as the great contradiction of the Post-Modern era. On the one hand, we maddeningly pursue high standards of living, distracted from the cares of our souls and the business of preparing for our eternities. On the other, no matter what we gain and in spite of all that we may possess, our souls still cry out, “Isn’t there anything more?” It is important to note that this isn’t really a new dilemma. Hundreds of years before Jesus spoke the words recorded in Matthew, the Psalmist made the observation that “the ransom for a life is costly… People who have wealth but lack understanding are like the beasts that perish” (Psalm 49:8, 20). Do we have understanding today? Can we grasp the fact that even if we possess everything our hearts desire, we still have nothing if we do not know God? We can spend a lifetime trying to get more, but it will be wasted if we don’t know and trust God. Indeed, the ransom for a soul is costly… so costly, in fact, it is beyond price. Material possessions cannot compare with the worth of the soul. Nor is there a way to earn the ransom for our souls. Our predicament would be a sad one if it rested in our hands.
Fortunately, it doesn’t. Our souls are in God’s hands. He alone has what it takes to ransom our eternal destinies. His perfect and sinless Son willfully and lovingly took our place on the executioner’s cross. He paid perfectly the required price and broke the chains which bind us to the here and now, drawing us into an eternity with Him. So how does one begin the wonderful journey of eternity… even now while still here on earth? We can start by simply receiving Jesus as our Savior and Lord, surrendering to His Spirit’s daily guidance and empowerment. Why submit to Jesus? Is there not some other easier and less controversial way? No, because our souls’ hunger can only be satisfied by Jesus. He tells us why: “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:27-30). Jesus is the only way for satisfying our soul’s deepest longings. He is the means by which we can shed the weight of failure and hopelessness. He is the light which provides our daily paths with purpose and meaning. He is the truth that our confused and disillusioned generation so desperately needs. He is the life for which we truly long. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6). Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio for more than 18 years. He is the author of The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at unfurledsails.wordpress.com. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at email@example.com.
BTW Jesus Lives
opefully, somewhere in the sea of Cadbury eggs and marshmallow bunnies, we’ll have time to focus—time away from molding Rice Krispies treats into the shapes of eggs, hardboiling, painting and hiding real eggs (in places they can easily be found again). Somewhere in the middle of this pastel tradition we might even remember what we’re celebrating. Oh, by the way, all the “new life” symbols of Easter Sunday don’t just allude to spring. They symbolize the coming back to life of Jesus Christ. After he died on the cross, Jesus didn’t stay dead, and that’s kind of important. “So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the
tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)” (John 20:3-9). Did you catch that parenthetical remark in the last verse? It seems much too important to be mentioned in passing. In the original language the Bible was written, there was no such punctuation. So maybe, instead of sounding a bit like this: “Oh, by the way, the disciples still didn’t get it;” it should sound more emphatic, like this: “They still didn’t understand that Jesus came, not only to die for sinners, but also to conquer death.” It’s why Paul could announce that Jesus was the fulfillment of Hosea’s prophesy: “Where, O death,
is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55). Of course, the answer to these rhetorical questions is that Jesus robbed death of its victory over us and removed its sting by His power. Even Jesus’ closest friends failed to grasp this concept. We don’t want to miss it either. If we know Jesus came back to life, why don’t we live with the hope and joy the resurrection was meant to bring? John felt the need to explain why the two who went to the tomb acted in the way they did. Apparently in retrospect, he thought they ought to have known better, given the years they spent with Jesus. Perhaps John was confessing his own lack of faith. Either way, most of us should be able to relate. We tend to fixate on our sins which made the cross necessary but disregard the implications of His resurrection. And this can lead to some very strange “Christian” behavior. Grieving over sin is appropriate and necessary, but only to the point when we experience the eager embrace of our Father. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, He has already forgiven us. We are new creations by faith! As Paul explains, “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:15, 17). Paul taught a great deal about Christ’s death and what it means to us, but he concludes that it is all worthless if the body of Jesus was found still in the tomb. “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith... And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:14-17). Paul also wrote a great deal about the importance of living by faith as opposed to trusting in our works
to save us. Yet, Paul implies here that our faith is a waste of time if a certain falsely convicted criminal failed to get up and walk away. If the most famous death of all time had happened, but the resurrection hadn’t followed, then we would have been lost. It would have meant Jesus lacked the power to heal us to the depth we require or to forgive us to the degree we need to be saved. The bottom line is this: a dead Jesus leaves us in our sin. That would be just, because we deserve it. It would be sad, because we would be slaves to sin. And once we die, it would all be over. There would be nothing left: no hope, no salvation, no point to this life, and nothing after it. We’d still be in good company, everyone dies after all. Mother Teresa lived an incredible life, but her death confirmed she was just like us. She had no unique power within her. Martin Luther King, Jr. died a hero for the cause of civil rights, but he still died. Even all of Jesus’ disciples died—most of them in the plain act of pushing back the gates of hell that attempted to defeat the early church. So you see, Jesus had to rise from the dead to prove His identity and to prove His words true, along with all the prophecies regarding Him. The resurrection proved He is more than a man from Nazareth. It proved He is the only Son of God and heir to His kingdom. He had already demonstrated that He possesses the power to heal and to forgive, but the resurrection proved He is more powerful than death, both physical and spiritual. So the resurrection is sort of important, by the way. It’s the essence of our faith. “If you declare with your mouth, ‘’Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Yes, remember His death, but don’t forget He still lives! (I believe He wanted me to remind you of this.)
Spiritual Peanut Allergies by
few months ago, the staff and interns of our church were gathered for our monthly meeting. It didn’t take long before we started veering off track, chasing rabbit trails and going off on tangents, as young men often do. We might have had some attention deficit issues when we started talking about peanut allergies. We discussed how a parent can safely give a peanut to one child, but then be forced to protect another child from the threat the peanut poses. It’s amazing how can one little legume can be a delight to one person and a danger to another. A good parent often knows what his child needs and also what might be dangerous for that child. A good parent spares his child from unnecessary danger; although, there is
nothing inherently wrong with the peanut. The peanut tastes good and is nutritious. But for a child with an allergy, that peanut poses a very real threat. But, what does the child think of the peanut prohibition? It may seem like the parent is depriving him, being unfair or is uncaring, because he can’t have what he wants. The child may think, “What harm could a peanut do?” It may be that we often look at God and wonder why He doesn’t give us what we want. We may see the success of a rival at work and become jealous of their good fortune. We may see our neighbor going on vacation and envy the financial freedom they have to do so. We may see our friends find love, get married, have babies and seemingly live happily ever.
After a while we might even grow bitter because our most intimate relationships have not gone well. We may see earthly blessing come to people who we don’t consider very good or very nice and wonder why God is holding out on us—we can easily feel we deserve those good things, too. But it could be that something good for one person will not be good for us at all. Maybe our own temptations and weaknesses would make that particular thing actually dangerous for us. Perhaps we possess a type of spiritual peanut allergy. It’s good to consider that God may know that some of the things we think are good for us may be bad for us in reality. Could success, wealth, comfort, approval, influence, popularity or power actually hinder us or stifle our relationship with God? It doesn’t seem logical, but it’s possible. Sometimes, God may need to keep us from having perceived good things in order to spare us from some danger we cannot foresee. God may take things away or keep things from us to teach us something we need to know about Him or about ourselves. He may even keep us from having something we treasure to show us that our true treasure is in Jesus Christ. No one can know the mind of God, but if there is one truth in this life, it is this: the things of this world will always fail to fill our deepest longings. But knowing that we are fully forgiven, absolutely accepted and lavishly loved by our Father in heaven will answer the deepest desires of our heart and soul. There is hope and healing in a relationship with God. Earthly blessing is great. We’ve all been blessed with many good things in this life, but the longer we live the more we’ll become convinced that what we really need is more Jesus. Jesus makes the good things good. Because of Him, the good gifts flow downward. “Every good and perfect gift is
from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). God gives us wonderful gifts and protects us from the dangers of spiritual peanuts. God could be showing us grace by protecting us from something we feel we need. We can sometimes feel that He’s holding out on us, but... consider the peanut. Consider also that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). Meditate on God’s Word, remember His promises, pray and connect with our Father in heaven. He’s a good parent who knows what’s best for us. Trust that He will spare us from spiritual peanuts whather we realize it or not. Jason Moore is a church-planting pastor with the Presbyterian Church in America. More than that, he is a child of God saved by His amazing grace. It is his hope that, come what may, God will use his life to display the love of God and make His goodness known.
We may see earthly blessing come to people who we don’t consider very good or very nice and wonder why God is holding out on us—we can easily feel we deserve those good things, too. 15 GM
May god bless the hell out of you
Dangerous Freedom by Pete Alwinson
Dangerous Freedom by
angerous and Free…Those are the kinds of men Jesus builds. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). When we’re little boys, we don’t typically want to be sweet and nice, cuddly and quiet momma’s boys. We want momma to love us and hug us, yes, but as we get a bit older, we like to get the hug and then escape into a bigger world…a world of adventure and risk. We don’t want to be called little boys, we want to be manly and a somewhat dangerous. My dad’s first name was Peter. I am Peter too.
To differentiate who they were talking to… people would call me “Petie.” As soon as I could understand that name I hated it…hate it still. I’m mad just thinking about it right now. It’s demeaning in all the wrong ways. I think my mom thought it was endearing and loving. I begged to differ. I’m still in recovery from that huge early life trauma. My two sons have their stories too…have I ever told you about the shotgun and the basketball…? Where was I? At the seminar I give guys time around the table to talk about some of their exploits of boyhood and the risks they took to prove they were big guys. My new friend
Bob told about crawling underneath one of the bridges that spanned the Mississippi (I think he said the Franklin Bridge), and he would light and drop M80s onto the River Boat decks below and watch the people scatter. Dang I love that one! I was seriously addicted to M80s in my day too. One guy said he was always lighting things on fire. We used to bend straight pins in half, and shoot them from a rubber band…at each other. Man, we drew blood and it was fun. Thankfully none of us ever lost an eye over it. God made us to be free and adventurous, but sin made us slaves. In the grip of sin men have turned this masculine urge to freedom and adventure and even danger into being dangerous to themselves and to others. Enter Jesus. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). Freedom for us cost an awful lot for Jesus but He was compelled to pay in blood for we who live in the flesh. Hey, if you’re now a grown man who’s been freed by Christ, that means you’re not anchored to either the condemning or the controlling power of sin, and are able now to be dangerous in a way that matters—in a way that matters to the King and to people all around you. One way you are free because Jesus is your Elder Brother is that your identity has been changed from outsider to insider; from no name to re-named; from being one of the great unwashed, to being one of the those cleaned up and dressed in the righteous clothes of Christ. Because you’re now a son of the Father because of the Son, you have a new identity that is not something you earned or ever could earn but can never be taken away. You are free from worth via human approval or personal achievement. That’s a horrible idol to worship. A “scum sweetheart.” Now you can be dangerous to the enemy. Since you know who you are, you can serve the King, not worrying what people think about you or if you’re getting enough praise. You can sacrifice, spend your money for Him along with your time as you tell people about Jesus and
build up His people all around you. PC aside now…Jesus is Who really matters. You can even be a more loving husband because criticisms at home won’t destroy you inside where the Son resides to remind you that you are a son. An internal, unchanging and high identity always makes confident men who can keep growing and taking ground previously owned by who Johnny Cash called “the long-tongued liar.” Christians have always been fewer in numbers than others around them…and 10 times more influential because they knew who they were and it set them free to invade enemy territory. Freedom precedes being dangerous in the Matthew 10 sense. Both are what we want as men. Where are you going to step onto enemy turf this week and wreak some havoc? Pete Alwinson serves as Vice-President of Leadership and Men’s Discipleship at Key Life Network. He is the founding pastor of Willow Creek Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Winter Springs (Orlando), Florida, where he served for 26 years as Senior Pastor. He has served churches in California, Illinois, Connecticut and Florida. He is a graduate of Biola College in Communications, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (M.Div) and Reformed Theological Seminary (D. Min) in Oviedo, Florida. Pete was one of the first speakers to join the faculty of Man in the Mirror and is asked to fill in for Pat Morley on occasion at Man in the Mirror Bible Study in Winter Park, Florida. Currently he is on the Board of Man in the Mirror. Pete is an Adjunct Professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Oviedo, Florida. He is on the Board of Key Life Network, the Bible teaching ministry of Dr. Steve Brown, and can be heard weekly on the Question and Answer segment with Steve each Friday. This article was reprinted with permission from Key Life Ministries.
What’s the matter, Miss? John 20: 1-18 (how I would say it)
efore the sun came up on Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she ran to find Simon Peter and me, and reported, “Jesus is gone! Someone took him and now we have no idea where he is!” So Peter and I took off running for the tomb, but I outran Peter and got there first. I bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but I didn’t go into the tomb. Peter ran up behind me and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen too, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. I finally went inside too and saw that the body was gone. We knew now that Mary was telling the truth, but we still didn’t understand what the ancient texts had instructed: that Jesus had to come back from the dead. We went back to our lodging. But Mary stayed at the tomb, crying. As she cried, she bent over and peered into the tomb and saw two angels dressed in white, sitting where Jesus’ body had been, one where the feet had been, one where the head had been. They asked her, “What’s the matter, Miss?” “Someone took our leader and now we have no idea where he is.” Then she turned and saw someone standing near her. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him at first. He asked her, “What’s the matter, Miss? Who are you looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you took him somewhere, please tell me where, so I can go get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned to look right at him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus said, “Wait, Mary, you can’t touch me, I haven’t gone up to the Father yet. Why don’t you go tell my brothers I said, ‘I’m going to see my Father and your Father, my God and your God.’” Mary hurried off to find the other followers and tell them the news: “I saw Jesus!” And she told them everything he said.
Read More Scripture (how I would say it) 18 may14