Tag Archives: the cross

What is Marriage Then?

4 Oct

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“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ ? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” —Matthew 19:4-6

The world focuses on marriage as an extension of the love a man and a woman feel for each other; a union based on feeling. Marriage is so much more…

Please click here to continue reading: Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > What is Marriage Then?.

Filled With Awestruck Wonder

9 Aug

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“And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today” ―Luke 5:26

Responding with awestruck wonder after observing first, a paralyzed man being lowered from the ceiling into the midst of Jesus and next, that same man, rising healed from the bed at Jesus’ insistence, the crowd acknowledged they had seen something completely out of the ordinary! We may not stand spectator to that kind of miraculous healing in the every day but…

Please continue reading here: Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > Filled With Awestruck Wonder.

Oh, How He Loves Us! | The Marriage Metaphor

7 Jun

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“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 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.” –Ephesians 5:22-27

“Jesus Christ is the focal point of history and the reference point for all our obedience. Husbands find in Christ a model for sacrificial, loving, strong, tender headship. Wives find the church’s submission to Christ, a model for intelligent, gracious, trusting, respectful submission…these roles are meant to be an expression of the unchanging gospel dynamics of Christ’s relationship to the church and the church’s relationship to him,” Gospel Transformation Bible.

Marriage is a union, a joining, two become one, cleaved together, a promise, a covenant, a bond, representational of Christ and the church; a living, breathing, dynamic reflection of grace extended to us mercifully via spilled blood, nailed to the cross, a debt cancelled…

Please continue reading here: Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > Oh, How He Loves Us! | The Marriage Metaphor.

Servanthood: A Lost Art?

31 May

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 “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10

Have we lost the art of servanthood? Have we allowed the world to twist, pull, corrupt, and change the definition of a word originally intended to mean a demonstration; a beautiful outpouring of our love for each other expressed as a devoted waiting upon? Have we forgotten who it is we ultimately serve; who our master is or are we weighted down under personal feelings and columns filled with tallies of perceived slights and offenses that allow the muddied messy church to obscure the true freedom of othercentered serving?Servanthood is not synonymous with slavery. We are as liberated as one dwelling on this cursed earth can be. We have been ransomed, a blood price was paid, and we are no longer living in bondage; no longer in chains. Our Savior, the ultimate servant Mark 10:45, poured out His grace as He hung on that tree along with abundant faith and love 1 Timothy 1:14 that we might glorify God through selfless service to others in an expression of deep love and shared grace.

Please read the remainder of the article at:  Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > Servanthood: A Lost Art?.

Strengthen Your Sisters | Hear Their Heart Cries | Meet Them Where They Are

17 May

womencommunity“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” —1 Thessalonians 5:11

Sisters we were saved individually through the finished work of the cross, adopted into a community; grafted onto the tree as daughters of the one true living God, a family; the bride (Ephesians 5:25) and body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). This communal Gospel aspect is structured to facilitate solid deep friendships with other believing women. The Lord designed this familial structure in order for us to meet one another where we are; to share, strengthen, encourage, and affirm one another, and to love each other in the chaotic storm of everyday life—a framework in which to tell your stories, share your life, open your heart in a living testimony of God’s transforming grace to build up and comfort your sisters in Christ.

For many of you an intimate group already exists—where true friendship allows hard questions and accountability—be bold, step outside of your circle, be deliberate; engaging—reach across the aisle, sit somewhere new, and draw in someone you may only know in passing or not at all.

Weave together a tightly knit tapestry from the fibers of inclusiveness; a true extended, diverse, intergenerational family of women whose heart cries you can see, hear, and feel, whose brokeness resonates, who you stand in the gap and pray for—pray with, built on the foundation of Jesus (Ephesians 2:20). Lift up and revive each other with shared stories of Christ’s amazing grace!

Father create in us a desire to be intentional with women who we may not know well, who are different then ourselves. Plant in us the desire to branch out; to be bold. Search our hearts—reveal our weaknesses that hinder vulnerability. Quell our fears associated with exposure. Revive our hearts—help us view others through your gospel lens with hearts wide open. Father allow the joy we find in you to bubble up and overflow as hope to others as we comfort and strengthen our sisters. We praise you Lord for your continued faithfulness—your transforming grace—for merciful salvation. In Jesus’ holy name Amen!

The following artcile explores ways we can comfort and strengthen each other:

Strengthen Your Sisters by Christina Fox

The four of us met every week for several years. It was a time to share, encourage, pray, and grow together in Christ. Those girls were the ones to whom I revealed the wounds, scars, and sins in my heart. Along the way, we discovered that we needed each other in the journey of faith. We learned that in sharing our stories of God’s redemptive work in our lives with one another that we were encouraged in our own trials. We experienced what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:3-4…

The remainder of this article can be read here: Strengthen Your Sisters | The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Additional resources:

10 Ways to Meet Women Where They Are | Connect to Women’s Ministry

Encouraging Fellow Strugglers | Mentoring Moments for Christian Women

I want a friend like that! | True Woman

Grace Poured Out | Wash in the Waters Again

3 May
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“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.

The Preciousness of Jesus | Fixing Our Eyes on the Cross

26 Apr


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“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” –Matthew 6:20-21

In the days leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday it seems simpler somehow to focus on Jesus and the willing sacrifice He made as he took upon His perfect self our sin bearing our punishment; imputing to us His righteousness. The cross and all of its implications stands in stark relief across the worldly backdrop of cloying chocolate, spring flowers, bunnies, and decorated eggs. The glory and significance of the resurrection shines so brightly the pastel canvas is all but obliterated and our eyes and hearts are drawn to Jesus, the treasure that will never be destroyed or stolen, and the joy that can only be found in Him.

“Jesus spoke of this joy as he faced the torture of Good Friday. He faced denial, faced betrayal, faced beatings, faced splinters and nails and spears — he could not stop talking about joy! Only joy would keep him going. Joy was on his mind, joy was on his tongue, and joy was drawing him, not away from suffering, but into it (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus went to the cross for joy: to buy joy, create joy, and offer joy.” –Troy Reinke, Have You Found What You’re Looking For?

What happens on the Monday following when the candy and discarded broken and bent baskets are heaped into the clearance bin and the backdrop shifts? Our excitement and joy may wane and the treasure become less distinct. The mundane trials of everyday life may obscure the “inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8). Our weariness and hurts more easily dismissed in the light of anticipation may now win our undivided attention. John Piper believes this is the time we should draw upon the strength of our brothers and sisters sharing ours in return as “…our worst spiritual and emotional collapses often follow in the wake of our happiest, most victorious experiences.” 

Draw in close to your Church family. Draw near to His heart and keep your eyes and heart focused on the finished work of the cross. Drink in the Word and spend time with the Lord in prayer, He desires to spend time with us, is jealous for it. Empty yourself of brokeness and ashes, pour it out at His feet enabling the light of the power of God to shine (2 Corinthians4:7).

The Preciousness of Jesus by Jared C. Wilson

What is the one thing you cannot live without?

I think there are two stark realities shown in the passage of the woman who anointed Jesus’ head — a deadly devaluing and a saving adoration. See if you don’t agree:
And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” –Mark 14:3-9

The logic of those scolding is understandable, clear. What the woman has done is wasteful.

And what Jesus says in reply is provocative. He is not denying the importance of caring for the poor. Indeed, how could he, since he has taught so much on caring for the poor and needy already! But he is suggesting that there is something more important.

There is something more important than helping the poor. What could that be?
It is Jesus himself.

To devalue Jesus as the indignant have done is eternally deadly. To devalue the nard as the woman has done is eternally saving.

Gospel notes on the text and the remainder of the article can be viewed here: The Preciousness of Jesus | The Gospel Coalition

Maundy Thursday | A New Commandment

17 Apr

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“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” —John 13:34.

On the Thursday before Jesus was crucified, in an act of humility and love Jesus was on His knees washing the feet of His disciples. The Creator of the Universe, the Author of Life performed the lowly task of washing clean the dirt and muck from callused feet seeing past the filth and grime. This simple act was full of meaning; a foreshadowing of the morrow.

On this day Jesus gave a new commandment shedding new light on “loving your neighbor as yourself,” (Leviticus 19:18).

“What makes the command new is that because of Jesus’ passion there is a new standard, a new example of love.There was never any love like the dying love of Jesus. It is tender and sweet (13:33). It serves (13:2-17). It loves even unto death (13:1). Jesus had nothing to gain from us by loving us. There was nothing in us to draw us to him. But he loved us still, while we were yet sinners.” —Kevin DeYoung, Maundy Thursday.

Jesus desired for us to love our brothers and sisters out of the depths of an overflowing love no matter the cost (John 15:13)…to go low in foot-washing-like service to others, be willing to risk everything, our lives, our privileges…to love because we are “members of His body,” (Ephesians 5:30) and like Christ who was sustained “by the joy set before Him,” (Hebrews 12:2) we too shall be stengthened by the indescribable joy found at the cross when we love out of faithfulness, obedience, and the desire to bring glory to God.

Additional Resources:

The Gospel Coalition | When Jesus Said Farewell

Desiring God | The Greatest Prayer in the World (Maundy Thursday)

Five Truths About Christian Suffering

8 Mar

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“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” –Romans 5:3-4

God is the author of His story – our story and no chapter is without purpose. The story is not one of isolation for there on every page is the presence of the one true living God revealed. When the words of our story are thick, inky black, tear stained, strokes of pain, grief, or suffering God is near sharing in our ache (Psalm 34:18). When we struggle to muster the strength to begin the next page He is there relieving our burdens (Matthew 11:28).

“God does not willingly bring affliction or grief to us. He does not delight in causing us to experience pain or heartache. He always has a purpose for the grief He brings or allows to come into our lives. Most often we do not know what that purpose is, but it is enough to know that His infinite wisdom and perfect love have determined that the particular sorrow is best for us. God never wastes pain. He always uses it to accomplish His purpose. And His purpose is for His glory and our good. Therefore, we can trust Him when our hearts are aching or our bodies are racked with pain.” –Jerry Bridges, Trusting God Even When Life Hurts

God is the sovereign author of the universe; the chief character in our narrative glorified in our weakness. His great love for us is most visible in the suffering and excruciating death of His son–the Word made flesh–Jesus Christ bearing our sins on the cross. Ransomed by His blood, the richness of God’s abundant grace is evident and overflowing. It is here at the foot of the cross our sorrows can be exchanged for indescribable inexpressible soul filling joy and the hope found in Christ alone. Our book will not close with “the end.” Our story will continue to unfold and new pages will be written for our hope is in Heaven.

Five Truths About Christian Suffering by Joseph Scheumann

All Christians suffer. Either you have, you are, or you will — “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

This reality is a stark reminder that we have not reached the new heavens and new earth. The new Jerusalem of no tears and no pain, of no mourning and no death, hasn’t arrived yet (Revelation 21:1, 4).

But just because we experience suffering as we await the redemption of our bodies, it doesn’t mean that our suffering is random or without purpose. And neither does it mean that Scripture doesn’t tell us how to think about our suffering now.

Here are five important biblical truths about suffering every Christian should have ready:

Finish the article here: Five Truths About Christian Suffering | Desiring God.

 

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

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