Radical

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By Dan Amos

I love that Martin is calling the series on Jesus from the book of Mark, “Radical.” Jesus was a radical and remains so today. Unfortunately, we’ve conformed our perception of Him into our cultural box, rather than be transformed by Him. There is no doubt Jesus was a man of compassion, but His mission here was anything but the passive, “gliding action” caricature we see so often.

If you’ve heard me speak and managed to stay awake, you’ve probably heard me rail against the cultural stereotype of Jesus as a long-haired European in a flowing robe. In Isaiah 53:2 we’re told “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.” He looked like the other Jews of the region and not as if he came from some trendy dive in Seattle. He traveled by foot, so His journey from Nazareth to the site of John’s baptism was probably 10 days. Your robes don’t stay white for very long if you do this kind of walking.

That’s just the appearance, though. At Joshua’s encounter with the preincarnate Jesus (YHWH Tzaboat… I AM the Lord of Hosts) before Jericho, the Lord introduced Himself as the commander of the hosts of the Lord. He is the commander-in-chief of heaven’s armies. He is prepared for battle and leads armies prepared for battle.

When He leaves heaven for earth in the Gospels, he is still the CINC of the angels, yet arrives in the form of a helpless baby born to a poor teenager. Can you imagine the preparation of the angels for this event? The commander leaves his forces and goes into the center of enemy territory surrounded by those who would eventually kill him. I now look differently at my favorite passage in Luke where the angels appear to the shepherds. The shepherds were afraid. You bet they were afraid! The armies of heaven were on hand to announce His arrival, and when they said be not afraid, that was a command. The glory of the Lord was on display.

In last week’s sermon, Jesus was baptized, proclaimed by God as his own, and immediately propelled into the wilderness to be weakened and tempted. Satan attacked, thinking he could defeat Jesus and get his creator to bow down to him. Jesus could have crushed him then, and the time will come, but it wasn’t then. If Jesus had, we would still have our sin problem that could only be fixed by the blood of Christ not just the defeat of Satan. Jesus knew his mission and stayed true to the Father. He endured the harassment of Satan, persevered under temptation, and did not give in.

This life is a battle and we need to know that it will be. Jesus battled and so will we. It may not be easy, but it is simple. We know who wrote the book and we know how it ends. Jesus the warrior will come and snatch His people from the enemy and those who are not His will suffer destruction.

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W.W.J.D.

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by Beau Leaman

When I was in grade school there was a big fad for bracelets that were imprinted with “W.W.J.D.” This, of course, stood for “What would Jesus do?” No matter what kind of kid they were, it was the style to wear bracelets like these, even several at a time in various colors. Some people really took these to heart, while others were just trying to keep up with the new trends. I even owned one myself, but never challenged myself to let the words actually challenge my life. Yet, like most fads, it was a trend, and it did not last long.

Society pushes us to find the next best thing and encourages us to reach out for more and more happiness, changing what’s popular at any given time. We’re programmed to be bored and want more. Why did the W.W.J.D. trend go out of style like the others? It was biblically based, rooted in doing the right thing in whatever situation one encountered. How could this get unpopular? It didn’t seem too difficult, since the person just needed to do what Jesus would have done. We have the scripture to guide us and we have the Holy Spirit literally living inside of us. What else could we ask for? Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” We are already charged as believers to do what Jesus would do, so why not preach this statement to the world? This statement seemed easy at first and very trendy. The trendy folks were the first to take it off once it faded away, and then the folks who wanted to live by it kept it on so all knew whom they represented. Others may have been encouraged to search the scriptures to find out what Jesus would have actually done in certain situations they encountered. Some may have actually lived it out on a daily basis. But what happened to these bracelets? Here is the answer: “Holy knowing does not actually produce holy living.” You need a special ingredient called obedience. Knowing what Jesus would do is only half the battle; the most difficult part is throwing away our desires and running toward obedience.

We are called to be holy as Christ is holy. Elim’s topic this week has been radical living. This radical living requires us to ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” The key to holiness is obedience and the key to obedience is faith. We are saved through faith because of grace, and that grace is everything! I challenge you this week to acknowledge God in all your ways. May our hearts be obedient and may we live our lives faithfully in obedience and steadfast love.

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The Winds of Doubt

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By Stan Peterson

The sky was dark. Pitch black clouds loomed over the ocean and at any moment would let loose the rage of a squall. Winds had broken the main mast, sails were torn from their riggings and shredded from the gale force. Waves rolled in over the sides, crushing everything under their immense weight and showing no mercy where they landed. The ship plummeted hundreds of feet from tip of wave to bottom, and then back to tip, causing anything that was not lashed down to be hurled overboard. The waves were the size of small mountains. All caused by the wind.

Just like the ship in this description, we can become overwhelmed by life and circumstances. We can lose sight of the horizon and lose our bearings altogether.The Bible speaks of us being like a wave tossed about by the wind when we doubt.

We are reminded that the Israelites went into the wilderness not because they were lost, but because they doubted (Hebrews 3.19). Are you in the wilderness? Are you tired? Are you weary? Do you feel as though you cannot take one step further? Have you stopped asking God because the pain is too much?

When we doubt God’s character and His Word, we have allowed our flesh to rule our minds. “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be” (Romans 8.7). These are dangerous waters to sail in. I know, I’ve been there recently and have seen the results start to show up in my life and in my children’s lives. These thoughts are destructive for us and those all around us.

Remember what God has told us in His Word. We as God’s children are admonished to be diligent in taking every thought captive to the lordship of Christ Jesus. We are reminded that we have put off the old and put on the new man who is renewed in the knowledge according to the image of Him who created him. If indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Take courage beloved, for you are not alone! God is with you, He is in you, and your doubt has not caught Him by surprise. Humble yourself before Him and be set free today! Right now! Do not put off until tomorrow that which you can do today.

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Do You Mind?

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By Jeff Foerster

We purchase milk for our families devoid of bovine growth hormones. We stock up on organic produce that contains neither pesticide nor chemical fertilizer residue. We suck down vitamins and supplements like water. We look for whole grains, and seek out fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers’ markets. We avoid high-fructose corn syrup, refined sugars, MSG, trans fats, and high-caloric foods.

We give such high regard to the care and maintenance of our physical bodies. Do we place an equal emphasis upon the care and maintenance of our minds?

Do we drink of the pure milk of Scripture? Do we labor to build up our minds with the nutritious word of God? What weight do you give to the feeding of your heart and mind?  The Scripture guides us to, “Set your minds on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). It urges, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind …” (Romans 12:2).

Does it really matter what I watch? Does it matter what I listen to? Does it matter what I read? Does it matter what I say to others? Does it matter what I say to myself? Does it really matter?

God says it does. “Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?” (James 4:4). What is the measuring stick you use? How do you evaluate your choices pertaining to entertainment, information, and conversation? Do you stay just one step outside the cultural norms, thinking, “At least I’m not __________,” or, “Compared to most people…”?

What is on your grocery list for your mind? What are on the nutrition labels of the conversations, diversions, and entertainments you consume? Do you take into account the long-term effect of the language you hear, the words you say, and the quiet thoughts you harbor? Does it matter what stirs my heart with emotion?

If I may, let me offer a few questions through which we can filter our choices:

  • Does this choice honor God and align with His character in some way?
  • Am I considering the good of someone other than me first?
  • What is the purpose of my involvement in this activity?

God has promised to draw near to us as we draw near to Him (James 4:8). May He bless you as you do just that.

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Happy Child = Easy Life

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It is every well-intentioned parent’s desire to give his/her child the best life they can. They want to give them the best opportunities and do their best to protect them from pain and disappointment. I know I do! However, what role does disappointment and pain play in a child’s development and character?

A few weeks ago, I ran across a blog written by Dr. Paul Tripp that is worth sharing. I hope that all parents will glean the important truths and the encouragement from this article!

God’s blessings…

Martin

Happy Child = Easy Life, by Dr. Paul Tripp

I love the Bible. Well, that’s a silly thing to say – of course I love the Bible! But one of the (many) reasons I love the Bible is because of the specific detail that’s woven through each verse. Today we’re going to look at what seems like a “side comment” in 1 Kings 1.

1 Kings 1:6 – “His [Adonijah] father [David] had never at any time displeased him by asking, ‘Why have you done thus and so?’”

I don’t have space in this article to give you the context of this story – if you want it, you can listen to my sermon on this passage or download the PDF transcript.

Let me first talk about Biblical “side comments.” All of these minute details are preserved for us by a wise God who knows our hearts. You don’t have a comprehensive history in Scripture; you have a redemptively selective history. These “asides” are more than just an aside. Each one provides us with tremendous insight. So when you read, don’t rush through in a spiritual monotone.

Back to the passage. Talking of David, it says, “His father had never at any time displeased him by asking, ‘Why have you done thus and so?’” What an interesting parenting comment. Adonijah was a happy child because his father never got in the way.

Parents, I think we need to reflect once more on the children that God has placed in our care. We need to reflect once more on the fact that we’re agents of the authority of God. We’re, by our exercise of authority, not only called to define the nature of God’s world, but the nature of God Himself. We, in our parenting, must picture His law and His grace, His faithfulness, His patience, and His perseverant commitment to our welfare.

We must also reflect on the deep and abiding spiritual struggle in our children. You’ve given birth to a child who has the DNA of sin in him and in her, and the DNA of sin is selfishness.

Think about the first sin ever committed. What was it about? Autonomy and self-sufficiency.Adam and Eve were on a quest to be in the position that God and God alone should be in. In the very same way, your children (and you, too) have god-like intentions. They want to rule. They want to set their own agenda. They want to be indulged. They will carry with them shocking entitlement.

Seldom will your child say when he’s been told no, “Thank you, dear parent of mine. How much I need your authority. I’m a shockingly idolatrous child.” It’s amazing to be in a mall or grocery store and watch a four-year-old child, with hands on hips and jaw set, argue with somebody who’s lived 40 years longer and who’s three times their size.

What’s going through the heart of that child in that moment? What’s that child thinking? I’ll tell you what they’re thinking – “I am the lord.”

In this verse, we see a grown child who was never told “no.” Adonjiah had been given what he wanted, when he wanted. He was allowed to indulge as he grew, and his pleasures were always satisfied. His heart was never challenged, his motives never questioned, and his selfishness never confronted. Isn’t it interesting that the treason of Adonijah against his father is connected to the way he was raised?

Parents, God the Father is our example. Hebrews 12 says that the one the Father doesn’t discipline is not His son. He’s faithful to discipline us because He knows it will produce a harvest of righteousness.

Parents, your discipline isn’t meant to be punitive. You don’t discipline your child because they’ve messed up your day and you have the right to meet out your anger against him. No, you discipline your child because you want that child to begin to embrace the depth of their sin, and therefore, the depth of their need, and therefore, hunger for the Lord Jesus Christ. In hungering for Christ, your prayer is for that child to commit to a righteous life that’s lived for the glory of the God that they once wanted to replace with selfish indulgence.

Now don’t get me wrong – you’ll get weary. You’ll want to throw in the towel. It’s not easy to say no to a self-sovereign child. In many ways, the easiest life as a parent comes when you give your child whatever they want. It’s going to be very tempting to make your day easier by making your child happier by withdrawing your authority.

But this little side comment in Scripture is a warning to us – persevere! Are you committed? Are you devoted to the heart of your child, or would you rather make life comfortable? Remember, your Lord won’t call you to do a task without enabling you to do it.

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