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Open the Doors of Grace

21 Feb

elephants

“do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4

How we react to others’ brokenness speaks volumes. Do we circle the herd, lean in, speak truth to the one who is dying inside, struggling, wrecked, and alone; wading in and meeting our sister where she is…

Continue reading here: Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > Open the Doors of Grace.

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God’s Word Our Story | Final Thoughts From Nehemiah

5 Jul

gospel group_optThe Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference

From Saturday June 28

Highlights from John Piper “Responding to God According to His Word” Nehemiah 9-10“God does not exist so that we would enjoy Bible stories. Bible stories exist so that we would enjoy God. Bible stories are no more ends in themselves than the universe is an end in itself; or history is an end in itself. There is a point to the universe, to history. The heavens declare the glory of God. That’s what the universe is about. History is what it is in order to show that God is Who He is. God writes his story; acts His story; in order to make known Who he is.”Throughout scripture God’s character is revealed to us. Every page speaks His name. God made Himself known thousands of years ago so we could…

Please continue reading at:

Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > God’s Word Our Story | Final Thoughts From Nehemiah.

Immanuel, “God With Us”

24 Dec

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“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” — Matthew 1:23 (NASB)

“‘Immanuel, God with us.’  It is hell’s terror.  Satan trembles at the sound of it. . . . Let him come to you suddenly, and do you but whisper that word, ‘God with us,’ back he falls, confounded and confused. . . . ‘God with us’ is the laborer’s strength.  How could he preach the gospel, how could he bend his knees in prayer, how could the missionary go into foreign lands, how could the martyr stand at the stake, how could the confessor own his Master, how could men labor if that one word were taken away? . . . ‘God with us’ is eternity’s sonnet, heaven’s hallelujah, the shout of the glorified, the song of the redeemed, the chorus of the angels, the everlasting oratorio of the great orchestra of the sky. . . .Feast, Christians, feast; you have a right to feast. . . . But in your feasting, think of the Man in Bethlehem.  Let him have a place in your hearts, give him the glory, think of the virgin who conceived him, but think most of all of the Man born, the Child given. I finish by again saying, A happy Christmas to you all!” — C. H. Spurgeon

God entered into human history as Jesus Christ — Immanuel, God with us, when he was born in a stable. “…the Word that was with God and that was God (John 1:1) “…became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14). He lived a sinless life and on the cross was a life poured out; taking upon Himself our sins and giving us His righteousness (double imputation). After His resurrection and ascent to Heaven we are not alone,

“…new covenant believers enjoy God’s constant presence in [their] lives through the Holy Spirit…John Piper says, that the first distinguishing thing about being Christian different from those who are “in the flesh” is that we are an “inhabited” people. And Paul says it three ways in Romans 8:9-10:

  1. “the Spirit of God dwells in you” (v. 9b);
  2. “you have the Spirit of Christ” (v. 9c);
  3. “Christ is in you” (v. 10a).

The different names here all are referring essentially to the same presence. The Spirit is equally the Spirit of God the Father and the Spirit of God the Son, Jesus Christ. Believers are in the presence of Christ all of the time…[as] the constant presence of God, the indwelling Spirit” (Marcia Lichte via It’s All About the Presence).

“…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” — Matthew 28:20 (b). Jesus was and is “God with us!”

References/Resources:

Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > It’s All About the Presence | Christ in You

Ray Ortlund

True Woman | Immanuel Changes Everything

Four Keys to Satisfying Your Starving Soul

23 Oct

bibleAnd he told them this parable“The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” –Luke 12:16-21

Our soul craves spiritual sustenance; the kind of fulfillment only God can provide. Without it we are as lost as the rich fool who amassed wealth and property but left his soul untended. Fill up on the Word to quell the hunger and quench the thirst of a soul crying out for the Lord.

Four Keys to Satisfying Your Starving Soul

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. –2 Peter 1:3–4

If we’re honest, we’re all hungry. We’re starving for something to sustain us, to preserve our hope, to strengthen us through trials, to help us conquer sin. We’re starving for food that will fill us for the everyday fight of faith.But what does the fight look like? And how do we find the food we need?

Excerpted from:Four Keys to Satisfying Your Starving Soul – Desiring God.

Also, see this previous post: Drink the Word of God

What Is Marriage, Then?|Marriage Defined

2 Oct

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“In Ephesians 5, Paul shows us that even on earth Jesus did not use his power to oppress us but sacrificed everything to bring us into union with him. And this takes us beyond the philosophical to the personal and the practical. If God had the gospel of Jesus’s salvation in mind when he established marriage, then marriage only “works” to the degree that approximates the pattern of God’s self-giving love in Christ. What Paul is saying not only answers the objection that marriage is oppressive and restrictive, but it also addresses the sense that the demands of marriage are overwhelming. There is so much to do that we don’t know where to start. Start here, Paul says. Do for your spouse what God did for you in Jesus, and the rest will follow.

This is the secret—that the gospel of Jesus and marriage explain one another. That when God invented marriage, he already had the saving work of Jesus in mind.”–Tim Keller

MARRIAGE DEFINED

It is no secret that marriages are under attack in our world.  This is not surprising since marriage is a visible picture of Christ and His Church, what better place for the forces of hell to aim their fiery darts.  In response to this our church tries to have at least 2 marriage conferences per year (with hopes of having more).  As such I have been tasked with using several resources and putting together a curriculum for the conference.

Our very first session is What is Marriage?  In this session we attempt to come together on a theology of marriage.  We begin by defining marriage.  As far as I am aware this definition is original with me.  I would like to share it and then expound on it a bit—hopefully for your benefit.

Marriage is a binding covenant created by God between one man and one woman for our holiness, for our joy, as a picture of the gospel to spread the glory of God.

If I pick this definition apart I can come up with seven individual statements (and these are used as teaching points for the first session).

A Binding Covenant.  Covenant’s are a big deal to God.  Breaking covenants is a big deal to God.  To see how big of a deal covenants are consider Genesis 15.  The Lord walks through a host of animals that are ripped asunder and essentially says, “If I break my covenant let what is done to these animals be done to me”.  Covenants are a big deal.

Created by God.  If humans created marriage then we could make the rules.  But marriage is a binding covenant that is created by God, as such He makes the rules.  God created your marriage, so away with this silly talk of having “married the wrong person”.

Between one man and one woman.  The two shall become one.  This means breaking away from parents, past relationships, future relationships, and any other lovers.  This also goes against any arguments for homosexuality rightly being called marriage.

For our holiness.  Marriage is one of the means that God has ordained to sanctify us.  God is not satisfied with us merely having a “good” marriage. God wants to use our marriage to conform us more and more into the image of Christ. God has a rescue plan for your marriage. His goal is not simply to rescue your marriage. His goal is to use your marriage to rescue you.

For our joy.  Our joy increases when we, in holiness, fight for the joy of another.  Marriage can be extremely joyful.  Just read Song of Solomon.  Furthermore, if marriage increases holiness it will also increase our joy in God.

As a picture of the gospel.  Your marriage reflects Christ and His church.  It was created by God to be a visible picture for everyone to see the love between Christ and His Bride.

To spread the glory of God.  The purpose of God for humanity is to enjoy His grace and extend His glory.  Marriage is no different.  He uses marriages to rip out of our heart sin and unbelief. He uses marriage to further our joy. But he also uses marriage to create children, and to raise and nurture children in godly homes.

Your marriage has purpose.  It has meaning.  Don’t give up on your marriage. Don’t stop fighting for your marriage.  Know that God is fighting for your marriage as well.  Have hope in him and keep holding on.

Enjoy your marriage.  God is using it to display His greatness.  Rejoice that the Lord is using the union of two sinners to display His incomparable greatness and Trinitarian love.  Marriage is sweet.  Savor it.  Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Excerpted from:Marriage Defined – Borrowed Light and What is Marriage, Then?|The Gospel Coalition

 

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.

Soul Mates | Soulful Connections

30 Jul

couplepray“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy,cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” –Ephesians 5:25-33

Soul Mates

How to become more intimate with God and your spouse.

As newlyweds, one of the first times my husband, Tim, led me in prayer aloud, I made the awful mistake of laughing at him when he stumbled over his words! Many years into our marriage, Tim still remembers how uncomfortable I made him feel.

Most couples have difficulty developing an intimate spiritual life not just in the early stages of marriage, but throughout their lives. Yet there’s nothing more significant than consistently and intentionally coming together before God to know him better and to serve him more fully. Unfortunately, according to author Neil Clark Warren, only 10 to 15 percent of couples really enjoys true intimate spirituality.

The remainder of this article can be viewed here: Soul Mates | Today’s Christian Woman.

This link offers further exploration of spiritual intimacy among married couples: Soulful Connections | Today’s Christian Woman.

Joy in His Presence – Worship in Spirit and Truth

22 Jul

worshipjoy“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules”–Matthew 15:8-9

“The purpose of God in sending His Son to die and rise and live and be at the right hand of God the Father was that He might restore to us the missing jewel, the jewel of worship; that we might come back and learn to do again that which we were created to do in the first place – worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, to spend our time in awesome wonder and adoration of God, feeling and expressing it, and letting it get into our labors and doing nothing except as an act of worship to Almighty God through His Son, Jesus Christ” (A.W. Tozer, Worship The Missing Jewel).

Prepare our hearts Lord that we may honor and praise you with awe and astonishment; magnifying your worthiness.

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand”–Psalm 16:11

“God created me—and you—to live with a single, all-embracing, all-transforming passion—-namely, a passion to glorify God by enjoying and displaying his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. Enjoying and displaying are both crucial. If we try to display the excellence of God without joy in it, we will display a shell of hypocrisy and create scorn or legalism. But if we claim to enjoy his excellence and do not display it for others to see and admire, we deceive ourselves, because the mark of God-enthralled joy is to overflow and expand by extending itself into the hearts of others. The wasted life is the life without a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples” (John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life).

Prepare our hearts Lord; fill them with the indescribable glorious joy found in the promise and hope of the cross.

“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth”–John 4:24

“Having the Holy Spirit residing within does not guarantee that we will always worship in spirit and truth, but it does mean we can. To worship God in spirit is to worship from the inside out. It means to be sincere in our acts of worship. No matter how spiritual the song you are singing, no matter how poetic the prayer you are praying, if it isn’t sincere then it isn’t worship, it’s hypocrisy. The balance to worshiping in spirit is to worship in truth. We are to worship according to the truth of Scripture. We worship God as He is revealed in the Bible, not as we might want Him to be. We worship Him as a God of both mercy and justice, of love and wrath, a God who both welcomes into Heaven and condemns into hell. We are to worship in response to truth. If we don’t, we worship in vain” (Donald Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life).

Prepare our hearts Lord for worship; that we may genuinely come before you.

 

Joy in His Presence

Joy is referred to not once, but 422 times in the Bible. A simple word, it packs a powerful fruit of the Spirit punch.

Joy begins with fellowship in Christ — loving Him and His presence.

The seeds of joy are Holy Spirit planted, rooted, and find life when we spend time in intimate prayer and worship of God. When His Word is rooted in our lives and our hearts find completion in Him alone, joy flourishes.  Simply, when God is bigger than the largest mountain in our lives, joy blossoms.

Need some joy today? Take your Bible, ponder His scriptures on joy and spend time in His presence praying. Fall in love with Christ anew today and allow the joy of the Lord to become your strength.

The remainder of this article can be viewed here: Joy in His Presence – Mentoring Moments.

 

 

 

 

TACC Missions News |Reaching the World for Christ

26 Jun

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15 

Commissioning of 3 Teams to Go and Tell!

So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” John 20:21 

Thursday, June 27:

7:45 AM Parking lot prayer send off: High School and College groups and leaders will be heading to Mexico to serve the people of Punta Colonet via Casa de Pan ministry.

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Thursday June 27:

3:00 PM Parking lot prayer send off: Team of eight will be leaving to bring the gospel to the Adavasi tribal people of Siliguri, India.

map-of-india

Friday, June 28:

12:45 PM Parking lot prayer send off: Jr High students will join in the missions activities with their trip to the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles.

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Click here for detailed mission information 

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.

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