Weekly Jot • 4/16/13

John Piper Meets the Moonies – A helpful article that demonstrates how John Piper has dealt with false teaching, particularly that of the Moonies.

A Better Way – “As Christians, when we see lost people acting like lost people, what should be our response? … I fear that too often the Christian response in the United States is one of protest — protesting slaves because they have the wrong master, picketing the blind because they cannot see. How could we get this so wrong?”  There is a better way.

321: The Gospel – The Story of God, the World, and You – another way to share the gospel message.

Gospel-Centered Ambition – “There is inherent in the life of the Christian and the church what I call a content ambition, or perhaps an ambitious contentment.”

Note to Self: “You are a New Creation” – “my salvation includes more than justification, and I’m prone to forget it….I’m not the same person I was before Christ, now pardoned. I’m different.”

A Possible Marriage Saver in Nine Steps – “The way to think about this marriage saver biblically is that it is an effort to see Colossians 3:13 fleshed out in real life: ‘Bear with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgive each other.’ There is both ‘bearing with’ and there is ‘forgiving.’ How do they mingle in marriage?”

Before You Take a Sip, Consider This & The Christian and Alcohol – “I’ve never seen a beer commercial featuring battered children, broken lives, fractured families, or teenage amputees.”  This is a wonderfully balanced summary of a sermon on a text frequently cited in order to revel in our freedom.  Read it with grace and truth.  (cf. Ambivalence about Alcohol)

Don’t Just Share Your Testimony – “Note that the text calls Paul’s speech a ‘defense.’ That’s probably a better description than a ‘testimony,’ and offering a defense is probably a better goal for us than merely sharing our story.”

How Can We Teach Children About Worship? – “I was struck by the fact that children learn what they see us do….Here are seven commitments with regard to teaching our children using concrete actions.”

Living with Cerebral Palsy – “This is a [tremendously convicting] story of how Roger finds hope in the midst of living with cerebral palsy.”

Why the Silence? – Dr. Doran goes behind the curtain to answer why the media is being silent about the Dr. Gosnell atrocities.

Beware: The Bible Is About to Threaten Your Smartphone Focus – “Why should we think of the Facebook app threatening the Bible app? Why not the Bible app threatening the Facebook app, and the email app, and the RSS feeder, and the news?”

Death of Y.O.L.O – You Only Live One? Let me introduce you to Resurrection Sunday!

Of First Importance – This blog provides short, daily “heart-stirring insights on the good news about Jesus” — a perfect way to start your day.  Here are a couple of my favorites — Hell Grasped a Corpse and Met God & Some name, some title, some attribute of Christ.

Dear Pastors, Please Quit Picking On Video Games – “See, here’s the thing: video games aren’t really the problem.”

Some insightful articles on responding in faith to what has happened in Boston.

Some humor to close with:

  • NYC Soda Ban Explained – I know it’s old new (and not even finalized), but this video is funny…so, watch it!
  • The Popinator – You gotta be kidding! I’d never buy this, but if you didn’t get me a birthday gift last month, I’ll take one of these.
  • Impractical Jokers – These guys have a dream job.
Posted in Weekly Jot

“Freakish” Physique + Rigorous Effort = Gold Medal Phelps

Michael Phelps is an American swimmer and the most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 medals. He also holds the all-time record for Olympic gold medals with 18, which is double the second highest record holders. His list of honors, awards, accomplishments, and records is enormously lengthy, and he stands as the greatest swimmer of all time.

What has contributed to his incredible success? An August 2008 article examined Phelps’ physique and demonstrated several unique features that helps Phelps as a swimmer.

First, although he stands at 6’4″ and most peoples’ wingspan equals their height, Phelps’ wingspan is 6’7″, allowing his arms to work like powerful propulsive paddles. The article also states that his lower body, interestingly, is shorter than that of an average man of his height. His relatively short legs result in less drag or resistance. In short, Phelps has an upper body of a 6’8″ person but his lower body seems to be of someone who is only 5’10”, which also make the perfect plane in water. Then there’s his size-14 feet and double-jointed ankles that allow him to whip his feet as if they are flippers. Finally, Phelps eats 12,000 calories a day, but his body produces less lactic acid than most other people which means he takes less time to recover after a swim.

So, Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer of all time, because he’s built perfectly for it, right? Wrong! The article goes on to state that Phelps swims 60 miles a week and maintains a mind-boggling daily routine. Without his workout program, Michael Phelps would still have a “freakish” physique, but nothing to show for it. His God-given gifts had to be complemented with his own rigorous effort in order to accomplish the results that have made him famous.

Likewise, believers have been given a unique “spiritual physique”—”old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). They have the life of God, as they are “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). Yet, unless they use what they’ve been given, they’ll still have a “new man” nature, but nothing to show for it. The believer’s God-given gifts (2 Peter 1:1-4) have to be complemented with his own diligent effort (2 Peter 1:5-7) in order to accomplish the results that glorify Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:8-11).

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Best Present Ever

My pastor shared the following illustration with his ABF class recently. We’re currently studying through 2 Peter and this illustration really helps to clarify Peter’s tension between justification (1:1-4) and sanctification (1:5-11).

When his children were still in high school, my pastor and his wife bought them all inline skates for Christmas. The kids were ecstatic about that gift, especially in light of (1) their 140 foot paved driveway, (2) their large and energetic dog that could pull them around, and (3) the unusual 60 degree weather they happened to have on that particular Christmas day. For one of their children, however, a wrong size had been purchased—the skates fit okay, but would be outgrown within a few months. So, the parents had the incredibly difficult job of convincing that child to wait until their inline skates could be returned the next. Why was that so hard for the child to understand and agree to? Because the natural response for those children—in light of the really neat gift and tremendously warm day—was to run outside and enjoy it.

In a picture, that’s what sanctification it—having received the incredibly wonderful gift of salvation, we run outside and use it! Recognizing our freedom from sin and reveling in our new status as children of God, we naturally and energetically unwrap the gift and put it to use! Some gifts just make us want to drop everything and start using it right away, and not to do so is agony—just ask my pastor’s kid! Likewise, God’s gift of true faith through Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:1-4) is a gift that keeps on giving, and it compels the recipient who’s paying attention to drop everything else and respond in gratitude and cooperation. This is sanctification.

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A Slave of Jesus Christ

I recently had the opportunity to challenge my church family concerning the mission of the church. Time didn’t allow me to conclude the way that I had hoped, so I’ll do so here.

The New Testament authors all humbly and gratefully identified themselves as “slaves of God.”

• Titus 1:1 – “Paul, a slave of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ” (cf. Romans 1:1; Philippians 1:1).

• James 1:1 – “James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

• 2 Peter 1:1 – “Simon Peter, a slave and an apostle of Jesus Christ.”

Of this humbling, yet honorable term, William Barclay writes:

(i) To call the Christian the doulos [slave] of God means that he is inalienably possessed by God. In the ancient world a master possessed his slaves in the same sense as he possessed his tools. A servant can change his master; but a slave cannot. The Christian inalienably belongs to God.

(ii) To call the Christian the doulos of God means that he is unqualifiedly at the disposal of God. In the ancient world the master could do what he liked with his slave. He had the same power over his slave as he had over his inanimate possessions. He had the power of life and death over his slave. The Christian belongs to God, for God to send him where He will, and to do with him what He will. The Christian is the man who has no rights of his own, for all his rights are surrendered to God.

(iii) To call the Christian the doulos of God means that the Christian owes an unquestioning obedience to God. Ancient law was such that a master’s command was a slave’s only law. Even if a slave was told to do something which actually broke the law, he could not protest, for, as far as he was concerned, his master’s command was the law. In any situation the Christian has but one question to ask: “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” The command of God is his only law.page7image26872

(iv) To call the Christian the doulos of God means that he must be constantly in the service of God. In the ancient world the slave had literally no time of his own, no holidays, no time off, no working-hours settled by agreement, no leisure. All his time belonged to the master.”

(The Letters of James and Peter, rev. ed. [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1976], 293; emphasis in the original).

By way of application, we had considered the following in our series together through Titus:

Paul was always driven by the reality of who he had become in Christ.  His understanding of the grace of God (I Corinthians 3:10; 15:10; Ephesians 3:7) and of his own unworthiness (I Corinthians 15:9; Ephesians 3:8; I Timothy 1:15) helped him easily claim the responsibility of “commissioned slavery.”  How much of a bearing on your daily mindset and pursuits does your position have?  What drives your work ethic?  What motivates you in the business and ugliness of the work place?  What compels your relationships with people?  What influences the way you plan for tomorrow and dream about the future?  What summarizes your goals for this year?  Does the awareness that you are God’s slave and Christ’s ambassador influence your thinking and regulate your interactions and plans?

O church, you’re on a mission as a “slave of God”!  Fulfill your calling until the rest that awaits.


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Weekly Jot • 8/26/12

Storyteller Video — A fascinating video the tells the story of the Bible and its climax of the Storyteller entering the story.

Helpless Sacks of Sand — The author learns that “the fundamental reality of sleep is that it assures us that we are not God.”

Silent Suffering – At times, in the midst of suffering at the hands of other people, our mouths should be silent while our minds should be loud with biblical truth-speaking.

He Knows Me – J. I. Packer rejoices, “What matters supremely is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it — the fact that he knows me. I am graven on the palms of his hands. I am never out of his mind.”

Bad Boys of Theology: Pelagius – A brief, helpful summary of the theology underlying Pelagianism.

The Good News for All Sinners – May this truth define our church’s mission and message.

The Message of the Bible in 221 Words – A short summary of an eternal activity.

Calvin on the Good News in Christ – Without Christ there is no gospel, and without the gospel there is no hope.  “In short, since rich store of every kind of good abounds in [Christ], let us drink our fill from this fountain and from no other.”

Two Hebrew Guys Named Smith and Brown on the Night of the Passover – A tremendous illustration to remind us that our salvation rests, not on the amount or genuineness of our faith, but on its object.

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Jesus Is My Substitutionary Propitiation!


I was reading this tract this morning, and I was overwhelmed again by Jesus’ substitutionary atonement.

Jesus was “crushed for my sins” (Isaiah 53:5). It’s easy to allow familiarity with the crucifixion to lessen its impact. We think so much of the physical pain and only occasionally of the spiritual pain. Even Jesus’ phrase “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?!” doesn’t strike us as being the horrific expression of real experience that it was.

Don’t miss it though – we’ll never fully understand the weight of the punishment that Christ took…that’s the point of the GOSPEL! We’ll never know it…NEVER! Even when we read and meditate on the crucifixion, and try to put ourselves in Christ’s place, and seek to logically understand what happened in that moment of substitution – we’ll never fully get it. Because Christ paid it ALL! He took ALL that wrath…wrath reserved for me! Jesus was CRUSHED for me, so that I would never know what that was like, even when I read about it in the Bible.

Praise be unto our Jesus Christ – our propitiation and substitution!

(For more artwork that powerfully illustrates the Gospel, click here. I’m thankful for Full of Eyes ministry for using their free artwork to the glory of Jesus Christ.)

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Weekly Jot • 6/23/12

Recommended Articles

Recent Tweets/Facebook Statuses

  • To call someone “worthless” is to state the obvious, and it overlooks both God’s standard and grace. To condemn a fellow-sinner is like one piece of dirt demeaning another piece of dirt for being so dirty. Our God is well-pleased that His people be known by the same ridiculed and scandalous title as His Son–“the Friend of publicans and sinners.””Don’t fall asleep at the wheel, only to wake up one day and realize that your job or your hobbies have no eternal value, but the souls” around you do. (paraphrase from Courageous)
  • Thank you, Almighty God, that you are simply Yourself, and therein sinners have inexpressible joy & steadfast hope!
  • Both the penalty of sin and the need for salvation are nature-ally dealt with by the God who is simply being Himself.
  • God was not merely “being” loving when He initiated salvation; He, as “love,” was simply being Himself.
  • Let the powerful Word of God that created, recreate you (cf. II Corinthians 4:6).
  • Do you need your life preserved, your inexperience matured, your heart gladdened, or your faith strengthened? God’s Word! Ps 19:7-8
  • What has great value, great delight, great guidance, and great reward? God’s Word! Ps 19:10-11
  • Studying “Knowledge of the Holy” & you know what I’ve learned? I sin bc I’m proud – I’ve asserted myself against this Altogether Unique One.
  • With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, & the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack? AWT
  • RT @desiringgod: “A little awkwardness…is a small price to pay for enjoying the power of God’s Spirit using us to be his witnesses.”
  • “It is utterly crucial that in our darkness we affirm the wise, strong hand of God to hold us, even when we have no strength to hold him.” JP
  • “The sun comes up; It’s a new day dawning — It’s time to sing Your song again. What ever may pass and whatever lies before me, Let me be singing when the evening comes.” A tremendous reminder to live in worship, rendering grateful praise to a God that is not only daily, but also everlastingly worthy! Do you wake up remembering your reasonable duty to render God worship?
  • What a wonderfully unique Being our God is: “All that God does agrees with all that God is, and being and doing are one in Him….God, being who He is, cannot cease to be what He is; and being what He is, He cannot act out of character with Himself….The tempted, the anxious, the fearful, the discouraged may all find new hope and good cheer in the knowledge that our Heavenly Father is faithful” (AW Tozer).
  • RT @burkparsons: While Christ came to preach the gospel, his chief object in coming was that there might be a gospel to preach. RW Dale
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