Tag Archives: faith

Who Holds Your Heart?

14 Feb

heart hands_opt

 

“My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways.” Proverbs 23:26

There is a spiritual battle for women’s hearts and souls…a battle that exploits our deep longing to be loved, protected, secure. The world encourages us to be someone’s valentine—to give our hearts completely, relying on another to validate our self worth and fill the empty places. We may forget the other person is also a sinful fallible creature and become resentful when the fairytale ending is not achieved and our needs remain unmet. We may turn to the world; seeking…

Please continue reading here: Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > Who Holds Your Heart?.

Poured Out Overflowing Grace

24 Jan

overflow

“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16 (ESV)

Grace upon grace, mercy upon mercy, layers upon layers of undeserved overflowing love and favor; everlasting to everlasting…relentless, constant, infinite—began at the cross; blood spilled on behalf of humanity to satisfy the wrath of God (propitiation), Jesus…

Please continue reading here: Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > Poured Out Overflowing Grace.

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.

God’s Word Our Story | Hearing From Nehemiah

2 Jul

gospel coalitionRepresenting all 50 U.S. states and 38 countries from 6 of the world’s 7 continents, The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference gathered together nearly 4,000 women focused on Jesus Christ, desiring to grow in the Word in order to speak it clearly while spreading the life-giving Good News to others. The conference highlighted, “…feasting together on Nehemiah,” Kathleen Nielsen, providing the opportunity to dig deep–pulled into the power of Nehemiah’s story–God’s story, unfolding the Gospel in the Old Testament book, viewed from this side of the Cross…

Please click here to view remaining article:

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

Grace Poured Out | Wash in the Waters Again

3 May
Water_opt
“and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also–not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” —1 Peter 3:21

The scope and magnitude of God’s love for us is most spectacularly displayed in the saving work of His own son, Jesus, on the cross. It is there in the torturous death of Jesus, blood spilled on behalf of humanity to satisfy the wrath of God (propitiation), taking upon Himself our sin and the sins of the whole world and giving us His righteousness (double imputation), conquering death when He rose from the grave (resurrection); His infinite grace is shown.

“…the aim of it all is to display the fullness of the glory of Christ, which is the glory of God. Everything that Christ did, and everything that he reveals about himself, and everything that Paul and the other biblical writers teach about Christ, aim at this—that the world would see and savor and show the fullness of the glory of Christ” John Piper, Justification and the Diminishing Work of Christ.

Mercy and grace at the cross highlight the glory of God, revealing His character. It is to this we are drawn. We come with empty hands, souls aching, laid bare, surrendered and through faith we are forgiven, made new, clothed in righteousness we could do nothing to earn or deserve, and adopted as sons and daughters of the King.

“Christ says, ‘Give me all of you!!! I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work. I want YOU!!! ALL OF YOU!! I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man or woman, but to KILL IT! No half measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather I want the whole tree out! Hand it over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them ALL over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self—in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart.’” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

We celebrate the grace of Christ and proclaim His glory through baptism. We announce to our brothers and sisters we have trusted in Christ, our old self has died.

“It’s what happens spiritually when we baptise people we take them under the water, they die and they’re brought back up, and they have this visceral temporal experience of what it meant when they became a Christian” Pastor Bob Burris, It is Well with My Soul.

Baptism serves as a celebration, proclamation,and an illustration of what it means to be a Christian not just for the person immersed but for the church as a Gospel reflection.

“Where there is genuine faith on the part of the person being baptized, and where the faith of the church that watches the baptism is stirred up and encouraged by this ceremony, then the Holy Spirit certainly does work through baptism…” Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology

Reflect on your own baptism in when you need a reminder of the grace of God. The following article examines how baptism keeps God’s presence near, “…as a means of grace throughout our Christian lives as we watch, with faith, the baptisms of others and renew in our minds the riches of the reality of our identity in Christ…”

Wash In the Waters Again by David Mathis

Visible words. That was the Reformers’ term for baptism and the Lord’s Supper.In complement to the spoken words of gospel preaching, these twin rhythms of the gathered church are dramatizations of the grace of God. These “visible words” rehearse for us the center of our faith through images and actions in the God-given pictures of washing, touching, smelling, and tasting. Alongside preaching, they reveal to us again and again the very heart of the gospel we profess and aim to echo. They are enacted “signs,” pointing to realities beyond themselves.

But these ordinances are not just signs, but “seals.” They confirm to us not just that God has done something salvific for mankind, but that it applies to me in particular. The gospel is not only true in general, but specifically for me. And when a Bible-believing, gospel-cherishing church applies the seal to me, it can be a great grounds of assurance that I myself am included in the rescued people of Christ.

In this way, baptism and the Lord’s Supper serve to mark us out as the church, distinct from the world, and are part of what it means for the new covenant to be a covenant — with acts of both initiation and ongoing fellowship, both inauguration and renewal.

View the remainder of the article here…Wash In the Waters Again | Desiring God.

Seasoned with Salt, Peppered with Grace | Prayer and Hope for Unbelieving Adult Children

15 Mar

salt pepper2“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” –Colossians 4:5-6

Do you have family members who do not believe in Christ? If you answered “yes” like me, take heart, Jesus did too. According to John, “not even his brothers believed in him” (John 7:5) and Mark makes note of his family thinking he was “out of his mind” (Mark 3:21). They lived with Jesus for 30 years and did not KNOW him! Take comfort for although they did not truly know Jesus during his earthly ministry, after the ascension there they are in the upper room with the Apostles praying (Acts 1:14).

This is a topic very close to my heart as I see this unbelief in my own daughter. She is, like Christian in Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress,”  trapped by Giant Despair, imprisoned in Doubting Castle. Lamenting her condition and blind to the fact that she possesses good news in her heart; the key of Promise that will unlock the dungeon that holds her captive is forgotten. So I pray that she “will know the truth” (John 8:32). I pray she will put her faith and trust in Jesus who poured out His own blood on the cross, taking her deserved punishment (1 Peter 2:24), to free her from the enslavement of sin. I pray her heart is softened and her eyes and ears are opened. I pray she pictures the warrior Jesus ready for battle and realizes nothing is too big for our Savior. I pray my husband and I will continue to shine Christ, speak truth, and extend grace to our daughter through email, Facebook messages, phone calls, and the very rare visit. I pray that God will continue to strengthen our marriage, root us deeper in Christ, and surround us with church family who love and pray with us, for us and for our daughter who many do not even know.

While home recently our daughter said, “Mom, why do you guys keep holding out your arms to me?” I pray someday she will truly understand what a precious gift she is to us and how loved she is, by her Dad and I of course, but even more so by the Lord whose arms are also open.

Relating to your unsaved grown child by Annette Cole

I looked at the row of velvet boxes and noticed a cross with a rose nestled next to it. I asked to see the attractive silver ring and bought it minutes later. For the first time in days, I felt a gentle touch of peace.

I’d been feeling only fear and grief as I watched my youngest daughter denounce her faith and rush into sin. Now I had a symbol of hope to cling to. As the father of the prodigal son placed a ring on his son’s finger at a “coming home” celebration, one day I hope to do the same for my daughter.

It has been years since my daughter walked away from Jesus Christ. Today we call and visit each other, but it has not been easy. The Bible asks, “What fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14, NIV).

Since the obvious answer to this is none, how do parents maintain relationships with their adult, unsaved children? I have had to find answers because my daughter does not want to be estranged from her family.

The remainder of this article can be viewed here: Relating to Your Unsaved Grown Child

The first paragraph of this blog was influenced by Jon Bloom’s article: Jesus Also Had Unbelieving Family Members

John Piper’s son Abraham, once a prodigal, wrote this letter from his perspective: 12 Ways to Love Your Wayward Child

For more of Christian’s journey pick up a copy of John Bunyan’s classic book: The Pilgrim’s Progress

Spiritual Disciplines For the Purpose of Godliness| Bible Intake |2nd in Series

30 Jan

bible

“Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7b NASB)

“If I were the devil, one of my first aims would be to stop folks from digging into the Bible. Knowing that it is the Word of God, teaching men to know and love and serve the God of the Word, I should do all I could to surround it with the spiritual equivalent of pits, thorn hedges, and man traps, to frighten people off…At all costs I should want to keep them from using their minds in a disciplined way to get the measure of its message” (J.I. Packer).

Bible intake is a broad term and encompasses the many ways the Word is made known to us. “[There is] no spiritual discipline…more important than the intake of God’s Word” (Don Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life). This particular discipline is inextricably linked to spiritual growth and maturity; where hearts opened to the knowledge of the glory of God crave “the pure milk of the word” (1 Peter 2:2-3) and yearn to know and love Him more. Our soul cries out as a “deer pants for water” and “thirsts for God” (Psalm 42:1-2). Quench this thirst by hearing purposefully, reading consistently, studying deeply, memorizing intentionally, meditating thoughtfully, and applying God’s Word accordingly.

Through Bible intake God’s attributes are revealed and His characteristics are highlighted in the Gospels through Jesus giving us access to a deeper understanding of how to glorify God and an amazing love. Seek Him, spend time with Him, obey Him, honor Him…He is jealous for us

How to Get People to Read the Bible Without Making Them Feel Dumb by Trevin Wax

“The Bible is easy.”

“The Bible is simple for a child to understand.”

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand the Bible.”

I hear these and other statements at times from well-meaning church leaders and church members. The idea is to shrink the distance from us and the biblical text, to make the Bible seem accessible…with the hope that more people will read it. I think this is the wrong way to go about it. It’s just not going to happen. When we stress the Bible’s “easiness,” we lead our people into two wrong directions. Some will throw up their hands and say, “I must be really stupid because this seems very dense.” Or, even worse, we train people to only look for the easy parts, to be satisfied with daily nuggets of wisdom and never wade deep into the Bible’s waters. Either way, you wind up with people who never feel the satisfaction of studying the Bible on their own.

Instead, I suggest we be upfront about the demanding nature of the Bible.  Let your people know that it’s hard work. It’s a challenge…

Continue reading here: How to Get People to Read the Bible Without Making Them Feel Dumb – Trevin Wax

Additional Resources:

Three Tips for Better Bible Reading | Desiring God

Why Read the Bible? | Desiring God

Five Promises for Your Bible Reading and Prayer | Desiring God

3 Common Ways to Read Scripture – The Gospel Coalition Blog

Hearing Gods Voice 101 | Are YOU listening? | Connect to Women’s Ministry @TACC

 

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

Harried, Hurried? | Finding Rest in the Merry-Thon

17 Dec

stress“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28

“One reason we are so harried and hurried is that we make yesterday and tomorrow our business, when all that legitimately concerns us is today. If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to Him and ask Him to indicate which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy.” ― Elisabeth Elliot

If you find yourself harried, hurried, and just too busy to do the will of God during this Christmas season and your focus has shifted from Christ to the wordly pursuit of the perfect gift, meal, or travel experience…refocus. If all thoughts of serving have fled under the crushing stress of unrealistic expectation and the highlighted ideal has robbed you of your joy…realignPerfect holiday tableaus are erected months in advance in the hopes we will all be looking ahead willing to spend now for unattainable perfection in the future or looking to the past at less then ideal gatherings that missed the mark hoping for a second chance to recreate what failed. Blind yourself to these manufactured distractions…re entrench

“…your only hope for joy, and your only hope for peace, and your only hope for comfort, your only hope for love, and your only hope for strength in this life is found in the cross of Jesus Christ” ― David Platt

You cannot truly find your joy, peace, hope, love, strength, rest, or faith anywhere else but in the cross. Peter began his letter in 1 Peter 1:1-9 by addressing believers; reminding them they owe their salvation to God’s mercy and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is there on that tree fashioned of wood and nails we find God’s gift; a heart poured out. When weariness deflects your thoughts from the magnitude of the cross immerse yourself in the Word…drink it in and rediscover the hope and joy inexpressible found when you rest in the Lord.

“And what shall meet the deep unrest around thee,

But the calm peace of God that filled His Breast?

For still a living Voice calls to the weary,

From Him who said, “Come unto me and rest.””

― Freda Hanburry Allen

Additional resources for women: Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > Harried, Hurried? | Finding Rest in the Merry-Thon

The following article explores the ways Jesus offers us a place to store our fears and rest in Him…

Finding Rest in the Merry-Thon

For many, the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas leave us grateful but gassed. In the name of holiday festivities, December means attending multiple Christmas parties, traveling to see family and friends, and standing in line to get the ever-elusive “perfect gift.”

As much joy as Christmas brings, if we aren’t careful, holiday cheer can sap our energy and steal our joy. It is a great irony that the season of light often feels heavy. What can we do to find rest in this annual merry-thon?

Five things you might do to cultivate spiritual rest.

1. Unplug. While there’s a place for Christmas specials and live nativities, doing something smaller, with less pomp and circumstance, may be exactly what you need to cultivate rest. Such a change might give you the margin you need to be still and know that he is God.

2. Say no to something old. If your schedule includes multiple family meals, Christmas parties, and gift exchanges, find one (or more) to which you can say no. We are finite creatures, and it is good for us to draw boundaries.

3. Say yes to something new. Sing Christmas carols in a nursing home. Serve meals at a local mission. Take groceries to a needy family in your church. Christ’s invitation to rest is not a call to complacency; it is a chance to work in his strength (Col. 1:29).

4. Feed on the Word. As much attention as we give to savory meats and holiday treats, we should give more attention to God’s Word. This might mean reading Advent scriptures or picking up a book on Christ’s birth. However it looks, spiritual rest always involves hearing the promises of the gospel.

5. Pray. With your family or with others, carve out time to praise God for the birth of Christ. Pray for the persecuted church and those who are suffering this Christmas. Pray for missionaries and for those who don’t yet know Christ.

Whatever you do this month, put Christ at the center. And whether you finish the month rested or restless, take comfort that ultimately his life, not ours, secures our Sabbath rest. In this month’s merry-thon, remember that Christ has come to be the good news of great joy for weary people.

Excerpted from David Schrock’s article Finding Rest in the Merry-Thon – The Gospel Coalition Blog.

 

Four Accounts, One Savior | Captivated By Christ

3 Dec

in-the-gospels

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” John 17:3

The four Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) present their parallel accounts of the life of Jesus uniquely to help us, the reader, truly understand the magnitude of his birth, death, burial, and resurrection through comprehension of His character in which God’s attributes and His glory are revealed. The more we immerse ourselves in this truth the more we are captivated by Christ. Our desire to know Him grows exponentially and we become more purposeful in our pursuit; cultivating inexpressible joy at the foot of the Cross and in the presence of God.

Peace, joy, radical generosity, audacious faith, and unwavering trust are all the fruits of dwelling on the gospel…That is the “secret,” if you will, of the gospel: these fruits are not produced, at the heart level, by focusing on them; they come by focusing on Jesus. That is what makes the gospel truly a “revolutionary” message.

~J.D. Greear

Four Accounts, One Savior

The significance of Jesus’ birth is best understood in the totality of his life, teachings, death, and resurrection. Whether you have just begun to consider Jesus or already consider yourself a believer in him, let me encourage you to read through the four Gospels this Advent season to gain a fuller appreciation for the significance of his birth…

To view the post in its entirety please click here: Four Accounts, One Savior | Captivated By Christ

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