Posted by: austend | Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Holocaust Memorial Day

Today, Tuesday, April 21, is Yom HaShoahHolocaust Memorial Day. It is a very sobering day as people around the world, particularly those in Israel, pause to remember the murderous atrocities committed by Hitler and his regime against the Jews and other undesirables. Some 6,000,000 Jews were killed during the years of World War II, and millions of others were scarred for life.

I have written a lengthy post elsewhere on how you and I can today remember those who died in the Holocaust.  Please read it {here}, and take time out of your busy day to honor those who perished.

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Posted by: austend | Friday, April 10, 2009

Red Envelope Day: Update

Hopefully you remembered Red Envelope Day on March 31, wherein people around the country made a statement to the President of the US about abortion. According to the results posted on Facebook, on Red Envelope Day’s website, and the news story published by WorldNetDaily, some 2.25 million red envelopes arrived in the White House, stamped March 31. Another 1 million had arrived prior to that. A White House mail room worker said that it was one of the largest mail efforts in the past 35 years. Whether the President is affected or not, the voice for the voiceless was heard, if only for a brief moment. May God move in the hearts of Americans that they may stop this sin of abortion.

Posted by: austend | Thursday, April 9, 2009

Passion Week

This week, as you well know, is Passion Week.  This past Sunday was Palm Sunday, this coming Friday is Good Friday, and this coming Sunday is Resurrection Sunday (Easter).  That means that this week commemorates the last week of Jesus’ life before His crucifixion and resurrection.

One helpful thing to do this week as you remember these most significant events is to retrace what Jesus did on each of the days of His last week.  I just attended a seminar with one of my favorite college professors that dealt with this very topic, so my excitement with this remembrance scheme is quite timely.

Dr. Doug Bookman’s basic Passion Week chronology, which I 99.9% agree with, is:

Sunday: Triumphal Entry
Monday: Cleansing & Controlling the Temple
Tuesday: Confronting Enemies, Olivet Discourse
Wednesday: Silent day
Thursday: Passover, Arrest, Trials
Friday: Crucifixion
Saturday: Body in Tomb
Sunday: Resurrection

{Here} is someone’s chronology chart which agrees with the above.  Other very helpful charts are {here}, {here},  and {here}, with only minor differences. [I cannot fully endorse any of these since I have not fully reviewed them, but a cursory review of them seemed satisfactory.]

Thus, I think it would be most appropriate to read the corresponding Gospel accounts of these events on each day of this week to powerfully remind ourselves of our Lord’s death and resurrection for you and me.  I have been intending to prepare a list of readings for two years now, but still haven’t gotten around to it…  However, a very good friend’s blog post and list is {here}.

Below is a list of audio sermons you can listen to by Dr. Bookman wherein he amazingly communicates the chronology of the Passion Week: {here} [11.22-11.24.02], {here}, {here} [2.21-2.22.09], and {here} [10.24-10.26.08].  Dr. Bookman is definitely one of my favorite and most influential teachers ever.  He will make your reading of the Gospels come alive!  I really encourage you to take the time to download and listen to the sermons to which I have linked.

Posted by: austend | Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Passover

Starting at sunset this evening [Wed April 8] is Pessach (Passover).  It is the very special holiday that commemorates the Israelites being supernaturally delivered from the house of bondage as slaves in Egypt by God.

You recall the story in Exodus 12.  The Israelites were warned of a final plague against Egypt, one that would finally break Pharaoh’s hardened heart.  The Israelites gathered a lamb for each family, sacrificed it, and put its blood on the doorposts of their home.  That night, the Destroying Angel went throughout Egypt and struck down all the firstborn males, but He passed over the homes with blood on the doorposts.  From that point onward, all the firstborn males of Israel belonged to the Lord, because He had spared the Israelites’ firstborn, thus all Israelite firstborn males must be redeemed (bought back) [Exodus 13].

Passover was one of the appointed feasts, the pilgrimage feasts, which all men were required to visit Jerusalem yearly to observe (Leviticus 23:4-8).  The feast began the Feast of Unleavened Bread which lasted another 7 days, during which time there could be no leaven in the house.

Several noteworthy celebrations in Scripture of Pessach include Numbers 9 with Moses, Joshua 5:10-11 when Joshua entered the Promised Land, 2 Kings 23:21-23 with Josiah, 2 Chronicles 30 with Hezekiah, and Ezra 6:19-22 with Ezra and the exiles.

According to Deuteronomy 16:1-8, a sacrifice from the flocks or herds was to be offered at sunset.  The meal was to be eaten in haste, to remember the Exodus from Egypt.  The animals was only to be sacrificed in Jerusalem, at the Temple.

Significantly, it was at Passover that the Lord Jesus was crucified.  He was the ultimate Passover sacrifice–the ultimate substitute sacrifice.  It is especially appropriate to remember that this week as Easter looms near.  There is debate whether Christians are supposed to “keep” Passover or not (see 1 Corinthians 5:7-8), however at the very least I think it is highly appropriate to remember Passover, though not necessarily to “keep” it as the Jews do today.

Tonight Jews around the world will gather as families to celebrate this most special holiday.  There is no more sacrifice, but a special family meal will be held to remember what God has done for them.  Usually the meal will last many hours, until midnight.  There is an entire “ceremony” rich with symbolism to remind them of God’s miracle for them so long ago.  A book called a Haggadah (“telling”) guides the ceremony.  A plate with several foods represents different things.  On the plate is a bone reminding of the sacrificed animal; some fresh greens to represent life; some bitter herbs or horseradish to remind of the bitter tears of slavery; some sweet paste to represent the mortar of the bricks from their slave labor; some unleavened bread; and several cups of wine, each with a specific meaning.  After the ceremony, rich with symbolism and memory, is completed, the Hallels from the Psalms are sung.  It is a beautiful ceremony that reminds them of their debt to God.  Read more about the holiday ceremony {here}, {here}, {here}, {here}, {here}, and {here}.

Again, for us Christians today, I do not think we should celebrate the Passover as the Jews do today, for that Passover that they remember is not ours.  Our “Passover” revolves around the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I think it is most profitable to remember the Exodus story today, and to celebrate with our Jewish friends, but our thoughts should automatically shift toward our Lord.  This evening I challenge you to read the Passover story (Exodus 12, Deuteronomy 16:1-8), consider Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8, bless the Lord in the Hallel Psalms (Pss. 113-118), and remember our Lord’s sacrifice of Himself for us!  It would be good for you to read up on the Jewish celebration of Pessach also so you can be more culturally literate (see above)!

Posted by: austend | Thursday, March 19, 2009

Can We Continue in Sin?

Bishop Ryle always has poignant things to say.  This quote arrested my attention the other day:

“If you love Me, keep My commandments….You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 14:15, 15:14).  Plainer words than these it would be difficult to find, and woe to those who neglect them!  Surely that man must be in an unhealthy state of soul who can think of all that Jesus suffered, and yet cling to those sins for which that suffering was undergone.  It was sin that wove the crown of thorns; it was sin that pierced our Lord’s hands, and feet, and side; it was sin that brought Him to Gethsemane and Calvary, to the cross, and to the grave.  Cold must our hearts be if we do not hate sin and labor to get rid of it, though we may have to cut off the right hand and pluck out the right eye in doing it.

Sin certainly is appealing, but can we honestly sin when we are thinking of what Christ did to redeem us from that sin?  Yes it will hurt us to rid our lives of hardened sins that we like so much, but for the love of the Savior, is that too much to ask of us?  Can we really continue in habitual sin, knowing how great a cost Christ paid to win us?  God help us not to do so!

Quotation taken from J.C. Ryle’s amazing book Holiness {here}.

Posted by: austend | Monday, March 16, 2009

The Discipline of Grace Ch. 12

Chapter 12 “The Discipline of Watching”

We know that we are sinners.  We want to live godly lives.  But sin is so powerful.  We must constantly be on guard against sin, watching for it to rear its ugly head, so that through the power of the Spirit and the Scriptures we can defeat that temptation.

We must know our enemy.  Our enemy is us, though!  Our sin nature is our greatest enemy and it is in us!!  This means that we must know ourselves.  We must study our weaknesses.

If you know you are weak in a particular sin in particular circumstances, then make a commitment never to allow yourself to be in that situation so that you can be tempted.  Don’t let yourself be alone with the computer if you struggle with pornography.  Don’t buy lots of sweets if you struggle with gluttony.  Set up boundaries for yourself so that you can avoid temptation.

“Having identified our own areas of vulnerability, we should make definite commitments regarding them, pray about them, and memorize specific verses of Scripture that will strengthen us against those temptations.”

“We must be alert for those particular sins as they seek to assert themselves.”

Material including all quotations taken from:
The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges (Colorado Springs: Navpress, 2006). {here}

This is part of a series of posts {here}.

Posted by: austend | Sunday, March 15, 2009

Paper on Ecclesiology of the Anabaptists & the Reformers

I posted this on my personal blog the other day: I don’t know if you would be, but perhaps you may be interested in a paper I wrote recently for a Church History class.  The paper is a discussion and contrast of the ecclesiology (the theology of the church) of the Reformers and the Anabaptists. Their views of the church were very different. The Reformers held that the church is composed of the Corpus Christianum–all those who had been baptized (usually as infants). The Anabaptists held that the church was composed of the Corpus Christi–only those who had believed in Christ as Savior. These two differing views led to vastly different worldviews which affected their evangelism, their view of the church & society, their use of coercion, their view of baptism, and their conduct. After reading some of the things Calvin said so harshly against the Anabaptists, I prayed that the Lord would always keep me from being so fiercely and dogmatically wrong. He hated the Anabaptists, but from our perspective in history, the Anabaptists were right! It serves to remind us that we must be careful, cautious, and humble about what we believe. You can read the paper {here} if you would like.

Posted by: austend | Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Discipline of Grace Ch. 11 Pt. 4

Chapter 11 “The Discipline of Choices” Pt.4

Struggle

“Mortification involves a struggle between what we know to be right (our convictions) and what we desire to do.”

“Mortification is going to involve struggle.”  “It is always emotionally painful to say no to those desires, especially when they represent recurring sin patterns, because those desires run deep and strong.  They cry out for fulfillment.”

Difficulty & Failure

“We must also realize that the discipline of mortification will be attended by a certain amount of failure.  In fact, as we initially begin to mortify a particular sin, we will often fail more than we succeed.  This is where we need to realize that we stand before God on the basis of His grace rather than on our performance.”

“We must, however, keep going back to His grace.  Only the grace of God revealed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ will give us the courage to get up again and keep on going even after we have failed for the umpteenth time.”

Material including all quotations taken from:
The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges (Colorado Springs: Navpress, 2006). {here}

This is part of a series of posts {here}.

Posted by: austend | Friday, March 6, 2009

Red Envelope Day

If you are interested in having a very small part in standing up against abortion in our nation, please see this website {here} for information on how to make your voice heard with many thousands of others on March 31, 2009 by sending an empty red envelope to our President.

Posted by: austend | Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Discipline of Grace Ch. 11 Pt. 3

Chapter 11 “The Discipline of Choices” Pt.3

Dawson Trotman (founder of The Navigators): “You are going to be what you are now becoming.”

“Mortification (putting to death of sin) is our responsibility.  This is something we must do.  It is not something we turn over to God.”

“To mortify a sin means to subdue it, to deprive it of its power, to break the habit pattern we have developed of continually giving in to the temptation of that particular sin.  The goal of mortification is to weaken the habits of sin so that we do make the right choices.”

“Without a purpose to obey all of God’s Word, isolated attempts to mortify a particular sin are of no avail.  An attitude of universal obedience in every area of life is essential.”

“See sin for what is really is—a rebellion against God, a breaking of His law, a despising of His authority, a grieving of His heart.  This is where mortification actually begins, with a right attitude toward sin.”

“All sin is desired, or perhaps the perceived benefits of the sin are desired, before it is acted upon.”

“Our desires are never satisfied.”

Material including all quotations taken from:
The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges (Colorado Springs: Navpress, 2006). {here}

This is part of a series of posts {here}.

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