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We Don’t Have to Read the Book or See the Movie to Know Heaven Is Real

24 Jan

glory2“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” John 14:2

The world places their hope in pop cultural near death experiences seeking to believe something eternal and glorious exists after death. The desire to have the “ears tickled” by the smoke and mirrors of crafty “myths” leads to a slippery slide down the road of junk ideology designed to entertain and muddle the “truth” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

God’s infallible Word makes it clear Heaven is real and as believers our citizenship (Philippians 3:20) and hope (Colossians 1:5) is there. A child’s purported account should not make it more so to believing Christians who place their trust and confidence in the Lord.

We Don’t Have to Read the Book or See the Movie to Know Heaven Is Real by Nancy Guthrie

“Have you read Heaven Is for Real? ” I’ve been asked this question more times than I can count. So let me just tell you—no, I haven’t. I was actually asked by the publisher to read the manuscript to offer an endorsement before the book came out, but I declined. And clearly the lack of an endorsement from me has not hindered sales.

I’ve been hoping that the hoopla surrounding this book and so many of the other” died and went to heaven and came back” books would end. And then I went to the theater over the holidays and saw previews for the upcoming movie based on Heaven Is for Real. So before you ask if I am going to see the movie, let me just tell you—no, I’m not.

The remainder of this article can be viewed here: We Don’t Have to Read the Book or See the Movie to Know Heaven Is Real – The Gospel Coalition Blog.

Other articles to ponder:

As citizens of heaven | Mars Hill Church

What Is Heaven Like? | The Resurgence

Citizens of Heaven | Desiring God

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Happy New Year!|Resolution or a Real Solution

1 Jan

tide“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” Isaiah 40:31.

According to Time magazine nearly 2/3 of Americans will make a New Years resolution. The top ten of these include 8 that emphasize some sort of a personal change designed to effect a transformation of sorts. The other 2 popular choices involve helping others and spending more time with family. Out of the myriad people making one of these commitments on January 1 2013, nearly 50% stopped pursuing their goal after the first month and only 8% successfully achieved their goal at the end of the year. This lack of accomplishment may emanate from a false hope. Pinning one’s expectation of success on the new year and unassisted effort will prove pointless.

“Believing that things will get better apart from Christ is a cruel deception. It truly is an exercise in futility. Even if bank accounts grow or fortunes appear to improve, the relief this provides is short-lived” (Jay Younts, Celebrating Insanity).

 Resolutions can be a good thing. Approach change with prayer (Philippians 4:6), wisdom (James 1:5), persistence (Galatians 6:9), and patience (Psalm 37:7a).

Lifeway Women offers the following 3 tips for a realistic approach:

Approach your goals with a healthy dose of reality. If you’re serious about making a true change, those goals have to be practical and reasonable.

Behavior modification won’t last. Only Jesus can bring true and lasting transformation…

Your own strength will ultimately fail you. …true success comes when you press hard into Jesus—through constant prayer—for a strength that only He can provide.

Whether you choose one word that encompasses a focused character change, ten thousand little moments of grace, or the typical dramatic pledge remember;

“…change takes place through faith…where our hearts lead, our emotions and behaviour will follow…look to God, to find hope and help and satisfaction in him” (Tim Chester, You Can Change).

Wait upon the Lord! Trust in His perfect timing. Do not attempt things in your own strength.

Additional Resources:

Don’t Waste Your Weaknesses in 2014 – Desiring God

On To The Next One… – Tullian Tchividjian

Hoping for the New Year | CBMW | The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

 

God’s Bright Design for Your Bitter Providences|Taking Heart in Uncertainty

5 Oct

 wait

 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” –Romans 8:28

 

It should be comforting to acknowledge the supreme sovereignty of our God who works exclusively for the good of those He has called and yet in the midst of suffering or life’s vagaries we are sometimes hard pressed to recognize His hand. What the “good” is or will be is often intangible, mysterious, and hidden to us but never to God. He knows exactly what He is accomplishing and we need to cast our fears aside and rein in our anxiousness by waiting upon, hoping in, resting with, and seeking out the Lord –in scripture, in prayer, in meditation. 

“In the life to come there shall be no more mixture; in hell there will be nothing but bitter; in heaven nothing but sweet; but in this life the providences of God are mixed, there is something of the sweet in them, and something of the bitter” –Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, 125.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

–William Cowper God Moves In a Mysterious Way.” 

God’s Bright Design for Your Bitter Providences

This is the will of God, your sanctification. (1 Thessalonians 4:3)

The unexpected, unexplained twists and turns our lives take create all kinds of apparent uncertainties for us. And the profound pain we endure can be so perplexing. There is so much God doesn’t tell us — so much we think we would really like to know…

The secret things are the Lord’s for a very good reason. Trust him with the mystery. But the revealed things are yours and they are glorious. Believe them and one day you’ll share God’s holiness and all the forevermore pleasures he has prepared for you…

Excerpted from Jon Bloom’s God’s Bright Design for Your Bitter Providences – Desiring God.

Will You Be a Believer Tomorrow Morning?

3 Sep

Perseverance“in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” –Proverbs 3:6

 “But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life” –Jude 1:20-21

 Endure in faith–wholly dependent on God, trusting in Him, standing in His power and grace, walking with Him, immersed in His word, sustained by Christ.

“Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen” –Oswald Chambers

by John Piper | August 20, 2013

Christian, how do you know you will still be a believer when you wake up in the morning? And every morning till you meet Jesus?

The biblical answer is: God will see to it.

Are you okay with that? Does this make you uneasy, admitting it depends decisively on God? I hope it is your joy and song. It really does have huge implications to believe this. Let God’s word shape your mind on it.

For the remainder of this article: Will You Be a Believer Tomorrow Morning? – Desiring God.

Helping You Down From the Pedestal…

30 Aug

bible3“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” –Colossians 3:16 (ESV)

“In religion and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue, but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.” –Mark Twain

“When leaders begin to thrill you more than Jesus, return your heart to Jesus. Listen to Him, watch Him, follow Him, for He alone brings living water to the desert of your life” –Pastor Koetsier, TACC Sermon Sunday, August 25.

Use discernment to determine if you are spending too much time with the speaker/author of the words and not enough time with the Word itself. 

Helping You Down From the Pedestal…

Posted by Gina Smith

Dear Christian authors, speakers and preachers,

I read your books and listen to you speak. You inspire me. I become a follower. Many have followed you. You have a lot of really good things to say. God is using you. Unfortunately,  I started to hold on to every word you said. I started to think you could say nothing wrong. I quoted you and promoted your writings.  In fact, it makes me feel quite “spiritual” when I mention that I love your writings and am in any way associated with your name. After all, you are highly respected, an “expert”…a theologian. You are, in many ways, a Christian celebrity.  Many would say you are their Christian hero.

Then I read something you said and I questioned it. In fact, I really didn’t agree with it. I studied my bible and found that what you said wasn’t completely biblical. I was shocked. I was disappointed. I shared it with someone and they defended you. How in the world could YOU be wrong?

I looked around and saw other people following you, reading your books, listening to you speak, agreeing with all you say, not wanting to see that you are human and that you are capable of error…

…and that all of us have a tendency to want to follow SOMEONE!

Then I sensed God telling me that I had been wrong to follow a person. That I had put too much stock in what you said. That even though you are godly, and are a gifted teacher and author, the only One that is without error is HIM.

I really don’t believe that you intend for people to follow you. You are very sincere in your attempts to present the truth. That is why I know you will not mind if I don’t agree with everything you write. I know you would want me to compare all you write and preach with the Word of God.

Even though I may not agree with everything you say…I promise that I won’t write you off. You still inspire me in many ways, and yet I will not hold you up as the ultimate authority anymore.

I know you wouldn’t want me to do that anyway.

I’m not disappointed anymore. I know you are only human. In fact, I have helped you climb down from the pedestal I put you on. I feel foolish and humbled for putting you there in the first place!

Sincerely,

Just another imperfect God follower who gets easily distracted by “what is seen” but who is trying to keep her eyes on the One who is not seen!

Acts 17:11 “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. ”

1 Corinthians 3:4 “For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe–as the Lord has assigned to each his task.”

Excerpted from: Real Life Titus 2: Helping You Down From the Pedestal….

Another article to consider: A Critical Mind vs. A Critical Spirit – Trevin Wax

Prepare for Martyrdom | Step Out Boldly in Faith

6 Aug

bold“If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” –1 Peter 4:14-16

mar·tyr

/ˈmärtər/
Noun
A person who is killed because of their religious or other beliefs.

The etymology or origin of the word martyr is interesting. The old English martyr, from Late Latin martyr, from Doric Greek martyr, literally translates as “witness.” In that context it seems especially appropriate considering the number of early Christians persecuted for witnessing –sharing the Gospel.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 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? –Matthew 16:24-26

“Every believer in the true God MUST be a potential martyr” –Pastor Burris

What can you do? Pick up your cross and boldly follow Him! From August 4, 2013 TACC sermon:

  1. Be the church: holy, humble, honest, helpful, homeless (Daniel 6:13; Jeremiah 29:7; 2 Chronicles 26; Hebrews 11:13-16; 13:14).
  2. Seek God (Daniel 9; 1 Kings 8:46-50; Psalm 137:5,6; 132:13-18).
  3. Believe in the Sovereign LORD (Daniel 6:4, 10, 13, 16, 20, 22-23).

“Haven’t we all prayed the following prayer? Lord, we pray for safety as we travel. We ask that no one gets hurt on this trip. Please keep everyone safe until we return, and bring us back safely. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen. The exact wording may vary a bit, but that is the standard prayer we recite before leaving on mission trips, retreats, vacations, and business trips.

We are consumed by safety. Obsessed with it, actually. Now, I’m not saying it is wrong to pray for God’s protection, but I am questioning how we’ve made safety our highest priority. We’ve elevated safety to the neglect of whatever God’s best is, whatever would bring God the most glory, or whatever would accomplish His purposes in our lives and in the world.”

Excerpt from Crazy Love by Francis Chan, page 133

Ebenezers for a Parched Soul: Through the Dry Season

24 Jun

drynessAn ebenezer was a remembrance to mark God’s presence; His help, guidance, faithfulness and grace. We are probably not outdoors building stone remembrances but there are practical spiritual disciplines we can employ to remind us of His blessings and keep ourselves spiritually minded during the dry seasons.

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1

  • Hearing, reading, and studying God’s Word, meditating, memorizing, and applying scripture, enables us to refocus on God’s deep love for us when we are thirsting for Him.
  • Praying through scripture alone, out loud and with others helps strengthen and grow our faith.
  • Journaling helps us to get deeper into God’s Word and provides a broader understanding of how God has worked in our lives as we reflect.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
 

Lean on the Lord during these arid times tuning your heart to Him and growing in trust.

Ebenezers for a Parched Soul (Excerpt)

Growing up in the church, I understood an ebenezer to be a marker set up to remember something that God has done in the past. The word is only mentioned briefly in Scripture. In I Samuel 7, Samuel raises a monument and calls it Ebenezer, which seems to mean a “stone of help.” It has come to mean, at least in some Christian circles, something set up as a reminder of God’s character or provision for His children.

I don’t plan to erect stone monuments to the Lord as Samuel did, but I do take note of the ways God has provided for me and what He has revealed to me of His character at different points in my life. I write them down. I journal them.

Some days, I am dry and thirsty, and I feel I can barely open my Bible in my discouragement, let alone tackle some new passage I’m supposed to be studying. On those days (which sometimes last for long seasons), ebenezers are a gift from God. He gave us great wisdom when He gave us the instruction, “Remember!”

If you are in a hard season, it’s easy to forget or diminish what God has done for you in the past. “If God really worked for me in the past, why am I having such struggles now?! Shouldn’t it be getting better?” But that has never been the nature of this journey of faith. Never, ever in Scripture is it portrayed as a steady positive climb. It’s portrayed as mountains and valleys, raging rivers and dry deserts. He leads us by still waters where we can drink deeply. But it is in preparation for walking through the valley of the shadow of death. His instruction to REMEMBER is key for surviving the drought and enduring through the valleys.

If you are struggling right now in such a season, I offer the simple suggestion that you go find some ebenezer from your own life. Engage with the reminders of how God has worked for you in the past. I believe you will find water for your thirsty soul that equips you to endure for the future.

Psalm 77 11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.

The article in its entirety can be viewed here: Practical Theology for Women: Ebenezers for a Parched Soul.

The Next Time You Have a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day . . .

15 May

thessWhen things go wrong in your life do you still hold on to joy? If not, open the “eyes of your heart” and fix them on the hope of Heaven given to you when Christ died on the cross. There is no suffering that we will encounter that will ever approach the level of what Jesus endured on our behalf. No matter how painful or grievous the experience, keeping hope in God makes joy less elusive.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” Romans 12:12

The Next Time You Have a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day . . .

Have you ever read the classic children’s story Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? When you first read the story, you think Alexander did have an unusual number of negative things happen to him, so no wonder he had a terrible day. But then you realize that Alexander’s day was filled with irritations and stressors typical to us all. They are simply part of being alive in this far-from-perfect world that suffers under the curse.

It should be good news to Alexander and to us that God is going to take away all pain, suffering, death, and tears, so we can live forever with Him and His people on the New Earth, in absolute peace, health, beauty, and happiness (Rev. 21–22). Wow! If you remind yourself of this, won’t it put what seems like a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day in perspective?

Ponder that you deserve eternity in Hell, but Jesus went to the cross so you will get what you don’t deserve, eternity with Him in Heaven.

For the article in its entirety: True Woman | The Next Time You Have a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day . . ..

I’m Beyond Hurt >> from Proverbs 31 Ministries

2 Feb

Melissa Taylor

I’m Beyond Hurt
Melissa Taylor
February 1, 2012

“All your words are true…” Psalm 119:160a (NIV)

I’m beyond hurt.

I’m beyond confused.

I’m beyond stressed.

I’m beyond tired…physically, emotionally and mentally.

I could go on and on. But then I would be beyond depressed.

When feeling like this, I realize I have to get my mind out of the gutter and anchor myself on God’s promises.

I have to be intentional to focus on a different set of “beyond” statements or I quickly find myself in a pit. I know this from experience. Even if the “beyond” statements above are true, there are others that are also true.

I am beyond blessed: From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. John 1:16*

I am beyond strong: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Click here to learn more of God’s promises and read the rest of the article:  I’m Beyond Hurt

Offer Your Whole Life to God

1 Feb

@CatalystLeader:

Take ur everyday, ordinary life– ur sleeping, eating, going-to-work & walking around life & place it before God as an offering. Rom 12:1

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