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Blog

7 Ways to Deal with Doubt | TGC: Michael Patton
“I’ve found that there are primarily two types of doubters. The first are walking away from God and believe they’re finding freedom. The second feel they’re walking away from their faith and are deeply disturbed about it. The difference with the second is that they are always facing God, crying out with arms outstretched for him to help. Thankfully, in most cases, these doubters eventually return to the faith.”

How VBS Saved My Life | Prince on Preaching
Here’s an encouragement for everyone involved in VBS these days:

“I like to tell my VBS story because it serves as an important theological reminder: we don’t often get to see the fruit of our labors. As the apostle Paul reminds us, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gives the growth” (1 Cor. 3:6). Some of you are tempted to think that you’re wasting your time when you serve at things like VBS. “What good can this really be doing? These kids aren’t listening to a thing I say? That boy is as wild as a buck!” Well, that boy was me. I was the crazy kid that probably looked like I wasn’t getting a thing. But what I took away from the mundane investment of countless church workers ended up saving my life.”

The Truth About Living with an Invisible Illness | Her.meneutics
“The greatest joy in my life is by Christ’s resurrection my pain, invalidation, and grief are being redeemed. Despite a diagnosis that spans the rest of my life, the hope of the gospel is my pain matters to God and will end. My illness may be invisible, but I am not invisible to God.”

Browse Worthy: Prayer Helps | Gentle Reformation
“Here are a few links that may help you to pray with more strength, focus, and quantity.”

An FAQ on America as a “City on a Hill” | TGC: Justin Taylor
“At the end of the day, you really can believe that America is to be a city on a hill, shining its values as a beacon of light to a watching world. But just don’t say that’s what John Winthrop (or Jesus!) meant when they used that phrase.

Kindle Book

For your non-Kindle book buying needs please consider using Reformation Heritage Books in the USA and Reformed Book Services in Canada. Good value prices and shipping.

Letters to a Young Pastor by Calvin Miller (Free)

New Book

The Revolt: A Novel in Wycliffe’s England by Douglas Bond (Kindle $5.99). Our boys have read Douglas Bond’s books over and over again.


From a Bloodthirsty Lion to a Blood-shedding Lamb

I will go and return to my place till they acknowledge their offense, and seek my face. — Hosea 5:15

In the previous verse, Israel is ravaged by the divine Lion. The nation is torn and taken away, and none can rescue. Now the angry Lion is portrayed as returning to His lair with its prey in His mouth. He drops the faintly breathing body and lies down in His place. His fury is partly assuaged; His prey is barely alive. And He says, “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offense, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.”

After some time, the body begins to groan and stir; the eyes open and slowly and fearfully focus on the angry adversary. Eyes meet. Time stands still.

“I’m so sorry,” stutters and stammers the aching body. “I provoked your anger. I understand and accept your just response. Thank you for sparing my life. Please pity me. Please help me.”

The Lion slowly rises and walks round the pitiful sight. He moves towards the face, pauses, opens His mouth, and…begins to lick the wounds and warm the fear-frozen limbs. The eyes open in wonder and, instead of seeing a bloodthirsty lion, behold a blood-shedding lamb!

Wounded, bleeding, barely breathing believer, has the Lord ravaged you? You provoked and provoked until His anger was justly roused. He tore you and took you away. Bodily disease, family disaster, business failure, or dark depression has left you barely alive. But you sense there is now a lull in the storm, some welcome days of relative peace.

This glimmer of comfort enables you to lift your eyes heavenward. And there you sense the root cause of all your troubles—the face of your God, justly angered by your backsliding and compromising. Eyes meet. Time stands still. Fight or flight? Or faith?

Faith neither fights nor flies but rather repents and casts all on the Savior’s mercy. Such faith and repentance transforms the bloodthirsty Lion into a bloodshedding Lamb. Look at the very next verse, “Come, and let us return to the Lord: for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up” (Hos. 6:1).


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Blogs

Eight Warning Signs of a Bully Church Member | ThomRainer.com
T
hom responds to the following question:

“Thom, I am currently encountering a bully church member. He wants me fired. I didn’t see it coming. How can we be warned about potential bullies before they inflict the most damage?”

Does a Husband have the Authority? | Mary Kassian: Girls Gone Wise
Here’s a thought-provoking post that challenges a few stereotypes:

“According to the Bible, a wife’s submission is her choice alone. A husband does not have the right to force or coerce her to do things against her will. He does not have the right to domineer. He does not have the right to pull rank and use strong-arm tactics. He does not have the right to make his wife submit. No. According to the author of our faith, it must not be like that among us!”

When We Say, “I Forgive You” | Gentle Reformation
This is excellent:

“When we really dig into Scripture’s teaching on forgiveness, we find that it stretches and challenges us, forcing us into the uncomfortable territory of being more like Jesus. Without further ado, taking our cues from God’s Word and God’s forgiveness, here’s what we should mean when we say “I forgive you…”

A Normal Parent’s Guide To Homeschooling | Lifehacker
A non-Christian take on homeschooling.

Help! My Congregation Struggles With My Preaching | Gentle Reformation
Kyle Borg asks, “What should I do if my congregation is struggling with my preaching?” He then offers a number of helpful attitudes to adopt.

Why We Don’t Punish Our Kids | TGC
“The next time an offense is committed in your home, remember how your Father treats you when you sin. Address it head on, but don’t neglect the heart. Pursue relationship. Remember that you’ve been entrusted with the care-giving staff of a shepherd, not the gavel of a judge.”

Sunday Women: Being in Ministry Saved My Marriage
“I also know firsthand the privilege of a ministry marriage. And I worry that an endless litany of blame-the-ministry could cause faithful pastors and their wives to view the local church as their marriage’s enemy rather than its best ally.”

Fighting for Holiness Under Fire | The Christward Collective
“Though the trials we face will vary greatly from person to person and season to season, we must learn to recognize those that are common to all people in order to withstand them. Here are a few of the temptations that suffering believers commonly face:”

Kindle Books

The Baker Compact Bible Dictionary $1.99.

Inside the Nye-Ham Debate $2.99

Scripture Alone: Exploring the Bible’s Accuracy, Authority, and Authenticity by James White.

Seeing Christ in all of Scripture by Westminster Seminary Faculty $2.99.


This is how bad it will be

For I will be like a lion to Ephraim.— Hosea 5:14

What would you most like to meet, an angry lion or a peaceable lamb? That’s the choice we all face. The Lord Jesus is revealed in Scripture as both the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5) and the Lamb of God (John 1:36). To His enemies He will be an angry lion, and to His friends He will be a peaceable lamb.

Hosea foresees this and predicts that, for Ephraim and indeed the whole of unrepentant Israel, the Lord will be as a lion who will tear them and then take them away without hope of rescue. “For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him.” Terrifying!

To be torn apart by a lion is surely one of the great human horrors. So, here, the Lord takes this most frightening of fears and says, “This is how bad it will be.” And it was. The brutal Assyrians came, tore them in pieces, and carried them away captive without hope of rescue. And it could have been so different. Through the annual Passover and the daily sacrifices, God was pointing Israel towards the Lamb of God who would take away their sins and give them peace with God. But because they did not want the Lamb, He changes into a soul-tearing Lion.

We will all meet the Lord Jesus one day, either at the day of our death or on the Day of Judgment. So, the question is not, “Will you meet Him?” but “How will you meet Him?” or, rather, “How will He meet you?” Will He be as a Lion or a Lamb to you? Will it be anger or peace? Will the Lion want your blood, or will the Lamb give you His blood? Will you spend eternity being torn asunder without remedy, or will you spend eternity celebrating “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8)? “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.”


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Blogs

The Immaturity of Addiction | Gentle Reformation
“The age you began to use intoxicating substances to get drunk or high in an ongoing way is the basic maturity level you currently have. For instance, if someone began to use drugs heavily at age sixteen and was now twenty-four, such areas as his mental, relational, and work maturity levels would roughly still be that of a teenager. You simply stop maturing very much when you do drugs.”

Trends in Church Architecture, Part 1 | Ed Stetzer
Fascinating reflection on what our church buildings communicate about our message.

Who’s Really Influenced by Their Cultural Situation? A Deep Irony in the New Perspective on Paul | Canon Fodder
“There is a deep and biting irony in the NPP.  While chiding reformed folks for being culturally bound, the NPP folks themselves seem influenced by their own cultural and theological climate.”

Five Things I Pray I Will Not Do as a Senior Adult in the Church
Thom Rainer, who recently turned 61, reflects on what he does not want to be in his senior years.

Recovering the Priority of Personal Holiness | Alistair Begg
“What gave John Owen success in ministry was not so much his oratory skill, nor his evangelistic zeal, nor even his love for the people he shepherded. John Owen was used mightily by God in all these ways because he was a man characterized by personal holiness. ”

The Recent Turkish Coup: What It Means and How to Pray | TGC
“For people outside of Turkey, the most pressing questions are simple: How did this even happen, and what does it mean? Answering them requires a basic understanding of Turkish political and religious history, so let’s take a quick look back.”

Behind the Tears in Baton Rouge | TGC
“My beloved city is in turmoil. Grief, fear, anger, and frustration are settling on our community like a dark cloud. We hurt. We grieve and mourn. Deep down, we feel something we’ve never really felt before; to be honest, it’s hard to put into words.”

New Book

Biblical Church Revitalization by Brian Croft.

Kindle Books

For your non-Kindle book buying needs please consider using Reformation Heritage Books in the USA and Reformed Book Services in Canada. Good value prices and shipping.

Fulfilled: The Refreshing Alternative to the Half-Empty Life by Joey Lankford $0.99.

J I Packer: An Evangelical Life by Leland Ryken $2.99.

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I will change their glory into shame

Therefore will I change their glory into shame.— Hosea 4:7

Material and spiritual prosperity rarely go hand-in-hand. Apart from some happy exceptions, as a person increases in financial wealth, they usually decrease in spiritual health. So it is with churches and with nations. So it was with Israel: “As they were increased, so they sinned against me” (v. 7).

As the nation grew and expanded under the skillful economic management of Jeroboam, so did their sins. As men and women grew more self-sufficient, they grew away from dependence upon God. Places of idol-worship multiplied and flourished. They gloried in their shiny golden calves at Dan and Bethel which were much more impressive than the blood-stained temple at Jerusalem! And what about our priests and our ceremonies?

“I will change their glory into shame.” God zeroes in on what they especially boasted of and gloried in. He targets what was the greatest source of their pride—their man-made religion—and warns, “I will turn their glory into shame.” God can take what is the greatest source of pride and turn it into our shame. Hanging Haman, grass-eating Nebuchadnezzar, and worm-eaten Herod testify loudly to God’s abilities in this area.

Do you glory in your beauty? God can take glamorous supermodels and change them into bald models of the latest sackcloth (Isa. 3:16–24). How many beautiful women are in hell, their glory turned into their shame. Do you glory in your wisdom? God says, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent” (1 Cor. 1:19). How many clever men are in hell lamenting the glory they gave to their now shamed degrees.

How easily God can change your glory into your shame. So glory not in your children, your career, your church, or your nation. “But let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, says the Lord” (Jer. 9:24).

How easily God can turn your shame into glory. He can take you from the lowest and most shameful condition and, through the grace of the Lord Jesus, transform you from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18).