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Archive for the ‘Encouragement’ Category

Romance is often overcomplicated. Billboards and television would have modern men believe that romance is tied directly to the money spent, the outfit worn, or the extremity of the act of love presented. I have found that there are very simple ways of romancing my wife that have little to do with the price tag. For example, last Tuesday night my wife was feeling downcast about family not being able to visit us for Thanksgiving weekend due to illness. We had looked forward to roasting marshmallows and making smores with our nephews, and talking and eating with family. That night, as I went to the store to get a few necessities for the home, I picked up a a bottle of sparkling cider (a favorite of Ashton’s), some marshmallows, 70% dark chocolate, and some graham crackers. Ashton is kind of a chocolate snob and doesn’t really put up for anything less than 70% :). I went home and lit a candle, poured two glasses of cider (in our wine glasses to get a laugh), and made homemade smores in the oven. This simple gesture brought smiles and laughter to my wife’s face, and encouraged a very enjoyable evening talking with one another about God, life, and family.

So, if you are struggling in romancing your wife, don’t be afraid to be simple, and even silly sometimes. It is these things that are done in love that can warm your wife, and can cultivate a happy marriage.

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2271963883_4ecebeb0e32Here’s an encouraging illustration from the sermon entitled Justification: God’s Covenants are Not Annulled or Added to, preached by Ryan Fullerton yesterday at Immanuel Baptist Church.

Let’s say you have two jobs, and both of them at a restaraunt called “Charley’s.” One of them is in the West End and the other is in the East end. At both Charley’s you have the exact same job. You are a cook, “short order”, making fish n chips, club sandwiches, fries on the side, cleaning the grill, cleaning out the grease trap, taking out the garbage. . . you’re a cook. The kitchen at the Charley’s in the West End is just like the kitchen in the Charley’s in the East End. You are a cook in both places. But at one Charley’s your boss is a guy named Moe (short for Moses). Moe is excruciatingly fair. He tells you everyday when you get into work, “You do everything I tell you, and you will keep your job, and if you don’t your outta here.” And he’s not overly rigid, but he expects perfection. He is righteous, and he is fair. And on your best days you want to do a good job for Moe, you try but even then you are messing up the pickles, messing up the fries, you are getting the orders wrong, and then some days you are just livid with Moe, you could care less what he thinks, you are just sneaking out back for an extra break, you have no interest in even obeying him. And everyday at the end of your shift he reams you out and wails on you. . . perfectly fairly. . . and tells you all the things you know are right and true. You are a bad worker, and he ought to fire you on the spot like he promised, and he will fire you…very…soon.

Shifts over. . . And it’s hell and misery.

And you drive across town to the other Charley’s, where your bosses name is Jesus. And he tells you, “you worked a terrible shift last night. But I stayed late and cleaned up your mess. I covered everything you did wrong, and my Father who owns this place is delighted with you and your work. And I want you to know that you will never lose this job, and you are gonna own the restaurant some day. And now I want you to get to work and clean the grease trap, clean the grill, make the orders and get to work.”

In both places you are called to do the same things. And under Moses and under Christ, though there were differences, at the end of the day you are called to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. What you are actually called to do is the same but the boss you are under is completely different. The covenant you are under is completely different. You are not under Moses who says “do this and live,” you are under Christ who says “I promise you I’ve done everything for your justification, I’ve done everything to earn your inheritance. You are my family, my offspring…now love. Don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal, don’t murder. . . love me and love the brethren and fulfill my law.”

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Believers Ought to Make the Mortification of Indwelling Sin their Daily Work:

The choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin, ought yet to make it their business all their days to mortify the indwelling power of sin. So the apostle, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth” (Col. 3:5). To whom does he speak? Such as were “risen with Christ” (v. 1); such as were dead with him (v. 3); such as whose life Christ was and who should “appear with him in glory” (v.4).

Do you mortify;
do you make it your daily work;
be always at it while you live;
cease not a day from this work;
be killing sin or it will be killing you.

Your being dead with Christ virtually, your being quickened with him, will not excuse you from this work. And our Savior tells us how his Father deals with every branch in him that bears fruit, every true and living branch. “He purges it, that it may bring forth more fruit’ (John 15:2). He prunes it, and that not for a day or two, but while it is a branch in this world. And the apostle tells you what was his practice: “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection” (1 Cor. 9:27). “I do it,” says he, “daily; it is the work of my life: I omit it not; this is my business.” And if this were the work and business of Paul, who was so incomparably exalted in grace, revelations, enjoyments, privileges, consolations, above the ordinary measure of believers, where may we possibly base an exemption from this work and duty while we are in this world.?

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Here is a wise word from Jerry Bridges to all of us from his great book, The Pursuit of Holiness. I read this book soon after being converted and found in immensely helpful and encouraging. This is a portion dealing with why Christians might not be experiencing holiness in their daily living, and why they might feel defeated in their struggle with sin. Here, Jerry addresses the first problem; he writes

“Our first problem is that our attitude toward sin is more self-centered than God-centered. We are more concerned about our own “victory” over sin than we are about the fact that our sins grieve the heart of God. We cannot tolerate failure in our struggle with sin chiefly because we are success-oriented, not because we know it is offensive to God.
W.S. Plumer said, “We never see sin aright until we see it as against God. . . .All sin is against god in this sense: that it is his law that is broken, His authority that is despised, His government that is set as naught. . . .Pharaoh and Balaam, Saul and Judas each said, ‘I have sinned’; but the returning prodigal said, ‘I have sinned against heaven’ and before thee’; and David said, ‘Against thee, Thee only have I sinned.'”
God wants us to walk in obedience–not in victory. Obedience is oriented toward God; victory is oriented toward self. This may seem to be merely splitting hairs over semantics, but there is a subtle, self-centered attitude at the root of many of our difficulties with sin. Until we face this attitude and deal with it we will not consistently walk in holiness.
This is not to say God doesn’t want us to experience victory, but rather to emphasize that victory is a byproduct of obedience. As we concentrate on living an obedient, holy life, we will certainly experience the joy of victory over sin.”
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Other Books by Jerry Bridges:
1. The Discipline of Grace – (Highly Recommended)
2. The Gospel for Real Life
3. Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate
4. The Great Exchange: My Sin for His Righteousness

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On Men having dominion in the world…

“This is a dangerous problem for the men in our generation. There is this idea that lordship (dominion) cannot just be cut loosed from God’s lordship but it can also be trivialized. Men are supposed to conquer the world but many waste their time conquering imaginary worlds on their laptops. They can waste their lives gaming, and spending all their time conquering imaginary civilizations that do not exist or happened a thousand years ago. And they become consumed with this, and its a hobby. But the problem is that it is a waste of time when there are real issues to face.

Let me give you an illustration of this. Christi and I were shopping for computers a while back, and she said “come over here you gotta see this demo.” There was this incredible game called “Age of Empires,” and you get to basically be the general in things like the Revolutionary War and maybe the Civil War. And you get to watch the bullets fly across the battlefield and you can basically oversee and dominate an entire battlefield in the most incredible battles in all of human history. And my wife, who has no tolerance for time wasting said, “That looks pretty incredible.” I knew that this would be a dangerous thing to start playing.  Because the crazy thing about these games and what happens is that what used to take courage, and strength, and valor, and training, and discipline….now only takes 50 bucks at Wal-mart and good hand eye coordination, and you can rule the world.

So, am I saying that all video games are wrong, no. Am I saying it’s always wrong to play one of these games, no. What I am saying is that men find the thrill of Lordship on a video screen easier than the difficulties of lordship in a fallen world.

The fallen world is where God has called you to put your feet on the ground. The fallen world is where there are battles that need to be fought. The fallen world is where there are orphans that need to be rescued. The fallen world is where there are people worshipping false gods and need to be brought under God’s dominion. This fallen world where we live, this is where the Lordship of Jesus Christ needs to be extended. And there are hours…thousands and thousands of hours…strong mens best hours are being drained in saving civilizations that can be turned off at the end of the night, while this civilization is decaying…..and while churches are corroding. ”

-Pastor Ryan: From the Sermon entitled What is a Real Man.

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Many of you know that one of my favorite pictures in the Bible regarding the salvation of sinners is adoption. Most of you also know that my wife and I are planning on adopting children in the future. Here, one of my favorite preachers, John Piper, talks about adoption and why we should adopt children. I pray you are encouraged.

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arturo.jpgMonergism has linked to this exerpt from a sermon by Arturo G. Azurdia III, which answers the question “Does the church replace Israel?” This is from a sermon that he preached from Revelation 2:8, in his exposition of Revelation. This series has proven to be extremely helpful and encouraging, and you can currently get the audio here for free, with only paying for shipping (around 6 bucks). I highly encourage you to get into this awesome exposition of Revelation. Thanks to Ryan Harrison for getting me excited about this series, it has proven extremely beneficial.

Arturo Azurdia III is Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology and Director of Pastoral Mentoring at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. He is the author of the book Spirit-Empowered Preaching, and a contributing author to The Compromised Church and Reforming Pastoral Ministry.

Art’s website is Spirit-EmpoweredPreaching.com. You all should especially check out his SERMON PAGE, which has a wealth of his powerful preaching of the Word of God.

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Does the Church Replace Israel?
by Dr. Arturo Azurdia III

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this: ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” (Revelation 2:8)

… Poverty as a consequence of slander and accusations …. The source of their persecution: the Romans. Fomenting the Roman persecution was the inciting accusations of ethnic Israelites about whom Jesus here says are not worthy of that ancient and honorable name. “I know the slander [blasphemy] by those who say they are Jews and are not.” My friends that is a profoundly important statement. When we watch the flow of redemptive history, the storyline of the Bible unfold and we move from the epic of promise into the epic of fulfillment, God’s people are no longer defined genealogically, they are defined Christologically … Christocentrically. You say “what do you mean?” True Jews are those who follow Jesus as their Messiah. They are characterized by a birth not of the flesh, but of the Spirit. They are marked out by a circumcision not of the flesh but of the heart. So who then are these people? These people who claim to be Jews by virtue of their bloodline, but according to Jesus himself, they are not. Jesus defines them for us: “They are a synagogue of Satan.” It is like what Jesus says to the unbelieving Pharisees in John chapter 8, who claimed the paternity of Abraham. He says: “You are of your father the devil.” You see beloved, this is why we need to think clearly at this point. This is what is so utterly wrong today when people refer to the Judeo-Christian God. [They say] “Christians and Jews really in the end worship the same God.” NO! …To reject Jesus Christ is to reject the full and final revelation of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The truth is there is no such thing as an orthodox Jew, beloved, unless he is a Christian because if the Jews really believed in the Old Testament they would believe in Jesus Christ. If a person does not believe in Jesus Christ then, according to John chapter 5, then he does not believe in Moses either. “Moses spoke of me,” Jesus said. And so Paul says in Romans chapter 2 “A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly nor is circumcision merely outward and physical”, no “a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly and circumcision is circumcision of the heart by the Spirit not the written code.”

Now friends, people often ask me, “Do you believe that the church replaces Israel. The answer is “no of course not!!!” The church does not replace Israel. The fact is, Jewish people who reject Jesus Christ are apostate from Israel. Following Jesus Christ is the ultimate expression of true Judaism. Everything in the Old Testament pointed to Him. Israel and the church, then, are not in radical discontinuity, rather, the later is the consummated expression of the former. Beloved, a failure to appreciate that has profoundly determined strange things in our [own] country. By virtue of the influence of American evangelicalism we say silly things like “Always side with Israel, no matter what Israel does always side with Israel. God will take care of America if we always side with Israel. They are God’s people.” [But] Jesus says they are a synagogue of Satan. And is there a reason then why American evangelicals are notoriously ineffective in their evangelism of Arabs?

[Jesus is] The full, final, ultimate expression of Judaism. You are Abraham’s seed. C’mon … Tear those pages out of your study Bibles.

Excerpt from Dr. Arturo Azurdia III’s 81 part series on the Book of Revelation.

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