Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Thinking Biblically About Forgiveness

Brian Borgman 
Whenever I have counseled or preached on forgiveness,  I always cover what forgiveness is not.  Too many of God’s people struggle with guilt, believing they haven’t forgiven somebody, when in reality they are not thinking about biblical forgiveness at all.  The following list is adapted from a sermon by John Piper, who borrowed it from the Puritan Thomas Watson.
  • Forgiveness does not mean that we treat evil deeds as if they were good.  True biblical forgiveness requires that sin be called sin and nothing else.
  • Forgiveness is not pretending that what happened to me was somehow not really bad.
  • Forgiveness does not mean there cannot be righteous anger at the wrong done and pain caused by the sins of others.   There should be righteous anger, without sin (Eph.4:26)
  • Forgiveness does not mean there are not painful consequences for those sins.   David is the prime example.  God forgave David.   David’s sin was wiped away.  But the consequences remained.  If a person sins against us in a way that requires the involvement of law enforcement and the courts, forgiveness does not mean erasing the legal consequences.
  • Forgiveness does not look the same when the offender has not repented (Luke 17:3-4).  We always have the obligation to release all offenders of their debts before God  (Luke 23:34).  This means we do not hang on to offenses; we do not harbor ill feelings, anger, or bitterness.  If the offender does not repent, then forgiveness is not explicitly expressed and reconciliation does not occur (Rom.12:19).
   Forgiveness is freely letting go of the offense, not expecting penance or payment or getting even. 
….All of God’s people have been forgiven of far more than we will ever forgive.  Therefore,  forgiveness from the heart is the true indication that we have received God’s forgiveness and cherish it.   When we see the majesty and holiness of God, then we see our sins for what they are—unpayable debts against divine holiness.  Cherishing God’s forgiveness of our billion-dollar debt will compel us to relieve the hundred-dollar debts against us.  When we breath in the air of the cross and the Father’s love in wiping away our sins, the last thing in the world we will do is look for the person who owes us a hundred bucks!” 

  Feelings and Faith – Cultivating Godly Emotions in the Christian Life by Brian S. Borgman;   Crossway;  2009;  pg. 118-120

Monday, April 14, 2014

Holy Week Video Series

  Throughout the week  Justin Taylor at the Gospel Coalition will be posting a terrific new video every day  between Palm Sunday and Easter.   Here's the first two installments and you can catch the rest HERE
 "Holy Week Day 1, Palm Sunday  
Sunday, March 29, AD 33.

The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with New Testament professors Doug Moo (of Wheaton College Graduate School) and Andreas K√∂stenberger (of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary). We will be releasing a new video each day this week. -  


 Holy Week,  Day 2:  Monday
Monday, March 30, AD 33. 
The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with New Testament professors Nicholas Perrin (of Wheaton College) and Grant Osborne (of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), focusing in particular on the cursing of the fig tree, the cleansing of the temple, and the role of the temple in the theology and practice of Jesus. We will be releasing a new video each day this week." 

The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived by Andreas J. K√∂stenberger,  Justin Taylor and Alexander Stewart

"Walk With Jesus During His Last Week on Earth

On March 29, AD 33, Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem and boldly predicted that he would soon be put to death—executed on a cross, like a common criminal. So began the most important week of the most important person who ever lived.

Nearly 2,000 years later, the events that took place during Jesus’s last days still reverberate through the ages. Designed as a day-by-day guide to Passion Week, The Final Days of Jesus leads us to reexamine and meditate on the history-making, earth-shaking significance of Jesus’s arrest, trial, crucifixion, and empty tomb.

Combining a chronological arrangement of the Gospel accounts with insightful commentary, charts, and maps, this book will help you better understand what actually happened all those years ago—and why it matters today."  Amazon

Sunday, April 13, 2014

"A Mighty Fortress is Our God" by Martin Luther


A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
“Words & Music: Mar­tin Lut­her, 1529.  Trans­lat­ed from Ger­man to Eng­lish by Fred­er­ic H. Hedge, 1853. This song has been called “the great­est hymn of the great­est man of the great­est per­i­od of Ger­man his­to­ry” and the “Bat­tle Hymn of the Ref­or­ma­tion.”  This hymn was sung at the fun­er­al of Amer­i­can pre­si­dent Dwight Ei­sen­how­er at the Na­tion­al Ca­thed­ral in Wash­ing­ton, DC, March 1969.”  Cyber Hymnal

A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing. 
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be? 
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth, his name,
from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed 
 his truth to triumph through us. 
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers,
no thanks to them, abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours,
thru him who with us sideth. 
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill;
God's truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Avoiding One Upmanship in Suffering

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”
Romans 12:15
   Years ago the Lord taught me a valuable lesson about compassion as I sat sipping coffee with two Christian women.      Both women were young  mothers in their 30’s and lived in the same neighborhood.    Both had two small children about the same ages.     And both  women had tragically  lost their husbands.      One woman’s husband had died and the other woman’s husband  had left her for another woman. 
  Each woman began  talking  about why her  grief  was  greater,   and presented  her line of reasoning.    The conversation was loaded   with  deep emotional pain and  I  could only listen  quietly  with  astonishment  as my heart ached  for both of these poor women.       The women became very angry with each other and  our  visit  ended  abruptly,  as did  their new friendship.      
  I confess,   I’ve  had to  check my  attitude  for  insensitivity towards the suffering of others  when   I’ve been  been consumed by  my own affliction.      Whether it’s physical or emotional pain,   it’s easy to become so self absorbed that we forget other people are truly hurting as well.      It’s   weird how  we  can  even be tempted to   slip into a  sort of competitive mode…. You think you’ve got troubles???    Well… let me tell you  what trouble really is!”  
  It’s times like these  that I need to  set my own problems  aside for a minute  to  listen,  pray,   and   make a  sincere effort to be  sympathetic regarding the trial someone else is going through.   It’s amazing how therapuetic that can be  for the person who needs  sympathy and for myself.     
  Just this week,  I was talking with a  young Christian  mother who has been battling  very  advanced   cancer.   When I shared with her some of the various  physical afflictions people I  love are  currently facing,   her eyes welled with tears of compassion and she promised to be praying.    What an example this sister  was to me of  Christlike empathy!
  The Lord, being a man of sorrows,   sympathizes  with all of our  infirmities,   whether  great and small.    He is our ever faithful  Friend  who  stands  ready to comfort  and intercede for His children,  and I want to be like Him.
 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are,  yet without sin.”  Hebrews 4:15


Friday, April 11, 2014

Tips For Faxing Without a Fax Machine

  Hey friends.   Seems odd that we still need fax machines these days,  but occasionally we  do,  so I   just wanted to pass along some  little tricks  I figured out.   
  When we ditched our landline that meant our fax machine went bye-bye too.     The other day I walked into Kinkos with a armful of documents to fax to my mortgage company and  nearly choked when I saw how much it was gonna cost,  so being the cheapskate I am,   I  went home determined to get 'er done for free.    
   For starters, there are  plenty of  online fax services you can use from your computer.   Some of them have apps  so you can snap a shot and fax it  right from your phone.   Most of  them will give you a free 30 day trial but a few are free without signing up – like this one:
 Whatever service you use, there’s usually a  limit on how many  “documents”  you can send at one time but I found a way around that.    
  You can just turn your individual pages into PDF (Portable Document Format) files and then bind them together  to make  “one” PDF document using a PDF binder.   You may have a PDF binder  already if you have something like Adobe Pro but if you don’t you can download the binder for free.    It’s super simple to use.    
  If  you don’t have the docs you want to fax  in your computer,   you’ll have to scan them first, and save them as either a PDF file or a writable text, which you can turn into a PDF file once it's in your computer.      If you don’t have a scanner,   you  can take a picture of the document with a digital camera or your phone and send them to your computer.     Then you can   insert  the photo into a  Word doc and stretch the image to fit the whole page.   Then save your Word doc as a PDF. 
   Next, add all your PDF files to the binder and Voila!    You can turn 10 pages or more into 1 and fax it for free.
There’s more than one way to skin an onion!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

"The Perfect Wisdom of Our God"

"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!"
Romans 11:33

The Perfect Wisdom of Our God
 Writers: Keith Getty and Stuart Townend
The perfect wisdom of our God
Revealed in all the universe:
All things created by His hand
And held together at His command.
He knows the mysteries of the seas,
The secrets of the stars are His;
He guides the planets on their way
And turns the earth through another day.
The matchless wisdom of His ways
That mark the path of righteousness;
His word a lamp unto my feet,
His Spirit teaching and guiding me.
And O the mystery of the Cross,
That God should suffer for the lost,
So that the fool might shame the wise,
And all the glory might go to Christ!
O grant me wisdom from above,
To pray for peace and cling to love,
And teach me humbly to receive
The sun and rain of Your sovereignty.
Each strand of sorrow has a place
Within this tapestry of grace;
So through the trials I choose to say:
"Your perfect will in Your perfect way."


Friday, April 4, 2014

Beautiful Little Churches

 One of the things  I love about  watching the live stream video from the Shepherd’s Conference every year is listening to the men sing.     There’s just something  thrilling  about  hearing several thousand men    corporately singing praises to God, and especially when they sing a cappella.    Knowing  that these guys are faithfully serving the Lord  all over the world  is really encouraging    and  I'm  happy that our pastor was  able to be in the crowd.   
  In spite of all the criticism  about  “celebrity pastors”    I thank God for those men  who are faithful to the Scriptures  who  make the effort to  come and  minister  to the non-celebrity   pastors.  These men who come  from little churches (and bigger ones) are  often discouraged under the weight of ministry  but will  come away refreshed.   
   The  number  of   men who pastor small churches   who have quit the ministry for no other reason than utter discouragement,  and perhaps financial hardship,   is  both staggering and heartbreaking.     I know this personally because  my husband was one of them.      We  have  talked often  about  how  things might   have been different for him  had he been  privileged to attend  these kinds of conferences,  but there was   no such  thing  30 years ago, at least  that we were aware of.     And even if there had been,    we probably couldn’t have afforded to send him.    But now  with the Internet,  pastors can at least  have the benefit of listening online.
    The  church we belong to has less than a hundred members and  our pastor and his wife are true servants who  have faithfully ministered  there for 35 years.     Our pastor  and my husband graduated from their respective  Bible colleges  the same year and have been friends ever since.       A few   members  of our church  have been there even longer  than  our pastor.      Ours  may be a small congregation but the people there  are committed to sound doctrine,  to loving one another,  and to sharing the Gospel  of Christ with those around them.    What more could  we ask for?   
   I  hope  that  any pastor’s wife (or pastor) reading this,  who might be discouraged  because their church  isn’t growing in numbers  or because of any other problem,   won't give up and will be encouraged  to  continue  serving  those God has given them.       
   Pastor-Teacher Tom Pennington  gave an encouraging message to  the church leaders  and you can listen to it here:  Tom Pennington - Shepherd's Conference 2014 .   Here's some interesting  statistics he gave about the average church size in America:
 "Most of the New Testament churches were relatively small.   Men, size is not the Biblical standard of success!   It’s not even an accurate one!  You probably heard that the average church in the US has 186 attenders.  But that average understand,   is highly skewed by the mega churches.  According to the National Congregations  Study    the median church in the US  has 75 regular participants in worship on Sunday mornings.   In other words half the churches in the US have 75 attending on Sunday and less,  and half have more than 75.  If your church has 350 attenders or more then you are in the top 10% of the largest churches in the country.   It’s deceptive, the whole size thing—it’s  a lie—it’s  not even true!    And it’s certainly not even the standard.”   [1]
“Let us not lose heart in doing good,  for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” - Galatians 6:9

[1]  Tom Pennington   Pastor-Teacher  -Countryside Bible Church, Southlake, Texas  Shepherd's Conference 2014 - General Session VII - Tom Pennington 
Photo:  Historic Church in Yosemite National Park,  California

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Luther's "Alien Righteousness"

"... for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith;  
as it is written, "The just shall live by faith" 
Romans 1:17
  "In the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. ...this was the verse the Holy Spirit used to awaken Luther as he was preparing his lectures on the book of Romans.  He glanced at a manuscript from Augustine and  found where Augustine said the righteousness here is not God's righteousness but that which he provides for people, who do not have any righteousness.  It is the righteousness he makes available by free grace to all who believe.   Luther called it "alien righteousness."   The righteousness is not our own;  it is Jesus' righteousness.
   Luther sought every means he knew within the confines of the monastery to satisfy the demands of God's law, yet he had no peace.  Luther was an expert in the law of God, and every day he was in terror as he looked in the mirror of the law and examined his life against God's righteousness.   We are not in terror, because we have blocked out the view of God's righteousness.   We judge ourselves on a curve, measuring ourselves against others.  We never judge ourselves according to the standard of God's perfection.   If we did, we would be tormented like Martin Luther was in the monastery.    When Luther finally saw the doors of paradise swing open, he walked through, which is why he stood against kings and officials of the church.   He refused to compromise.  Once he had tasted the gospel of Jesus Christ and had been delivered from the pangs and torment of the law, nobody could take it from him."  [1]

Excerpt  from 2012 Ligonier Conference explaining why it's imperative to hold fast to the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Ligonier

[1] The Righteous shall Live by Faith - Romans - by RC. Sproul;  Crossway,  2009   pg 33-

Wednesday, April 2, 2014



  We woke up early the other morning to find  Rocky Raccoon pressing his fat nose against our glass patio door.     Our cat, Mrs. Spurgeon, was  caterwauling  and pressing her nose right back from the inside before he finally   sauntered away.    This isn't  a normal  occurrence around here since  we live in town.
   It’s been too cold to work in the yard.  I’m looking forward to warmer weather this weekend so  I can plant the lovely  English Laurel bush I found at Home Depot..     We live in high desert country and I was determined when we to moved to Carson City 25 years ago,  to try and cultivate  my little  patch of God's good earth to be ever  bit as  green as it was  where I grew up in  lush Northern California.   Northern California is home to  the  world famous  Napa Valley Vineyards—smile.
Robert and his young apprentice  completed a mural project on Saturday  for a  local swim center.   The newspaper came out to do a story and tweeted this: 
    I’m  excited about the 2015 Shepherd’s Conference  because it’s going to be a special Summit on the Inerrancy of Scripture. - a vital issue in our day.    This has been a men only conference ever since my hubby's been going.   I've been told  it was originally open to the womenfolk too,  but they have pastors coming from all over the world and space is limited.     What a wonderful problem to have!      But the girls  can still watch it LIVE online for free!     I feel kinda  weird being one of the few women following  their  Twitter page though.  (like I'm some sort of creepy lady twitter stalker).   The past general sessions are available   to watch at Shepherds   in several languages.    If you know a guy  who'd  be interested,  I suggest they register soon because this will sell out fast.
"Inerrancy and the Prophetic Word" -  Featuring:  Al Mohler,  Ligon Duncon, Sinclair Ferguson, Ian Murray, Steven Nichols, Norman Geisler, Mark Dever, Page Patterson,  Carl Truman, Ian Hamilton, Miguel Nunez, Steven Lawson, Derek Thomas,  R.C. Sproul ,  and John MacArthur.


  How anyone can REALLY be an atheist...

I’m so very grateful that the Lord's return is imminent.  
“waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,  who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”   Titus 2:13-14