Wednesday, April 23, 2014

When Christians Can't Agree


 Most, if not all,  sincere Christians will  at some time experience conflict with another brother or sister and a  healthy dose of    patience and humility will usually mend the rift.  But not always.
 There are times when Christians reach a standoff  just   as  Paul and Barnabas did.  Here were two  missionaries,  one an Apostle,  who had been directly commissioned by the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel as a team. 
“Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”  Acts 13:2  
  This dynamic duo  had witnessed  so  many conversions among the Gentiles  throughout their journeys together   that the news “brought great joy to all the brothers”  (Acts 15:3).    And yet,  their disagreement  over  whether  to  take John Mark  along  was so  sharp that the Greek word "paroxusmos"  indicates  their partnership dissolved not amicably but with violent emotions”.1  
 There is reason to suspect   that this waterloo was  not an isolated event and  may have  merely been the straw that broke the camel’s back.    Earlier,  Paul had a major problem in Antioch  when he publically rebuked Peter  for  kissing up to the Jews  and distancing himself from the Gentiles.   Peter’s duplicity had rubbed off on the other Jews who were with him  “so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.” (Gal. 2:13).   Added to that,  John Mark was Barnabas’ cousin  so family tension  likely played into the equation.
Matthew Henry

“Neither would yield, therefore there was no remedy but they must part.   We see that the best of men are but men, subject to like passions as we are.   Perhaps there were faults on both sides, as usual in such contentions.  Christ's example alone, is a copy without a blot.  Yet we are not to think it strange, if there are differences among wise and good men.   It will be so while we are in this imperfect state; we shall never be all of one mind till we come to heaven.”2
   We know that the story of Paul and Barnabas ended well  because Paul later wrote  in Barnabas` defense (I Cor. 9:6)  and spoke affectionately of John Mark as a co-laborer. (Col. 4:10).   

  But  what can we  glean from this account?     Irreconcilable differences  with other Christians happen sometimes.     Right or wrong,   I think it’s important to keep in mind  that those who belong to the body of Christ,  regardless  of  earthly  discord,  from an eternal perspective  are  still  unified  through  the blood of Christ.    The church is currently  in a state of being sanctified and perfected and in the end  Christ  will  “present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle.”   (Eph. 5:26-27). 
    Our Lord did not  waste one precious word when He prayed,
  The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”  John 17: 22-23
   Christ’s Kingdom will advance  in spite of our differences  on secondary matters or  our  inability to work  together harmoniously at times.    Leaving room for the grace of God to work in our lives and  in the lives of those with whom we disagree,  will go a long way in bringing peace to  disrupted relationships.  
Chris Brauns

 “While it was sad that Paul and Barnabas parted company in this manner, and while they may not have handled the situation perfectly, it is significant that they both continued on for Christ.   The Lord’s work went forward.

…Christians must make every effort to resolve all differences.  But we should not be surprised when we come to an impasse.  We  live in a fallen world, and imperfect people cannot always sort everything out.  When we do come to an impasse, we should:
  • Accept that impasses happen.  If Paul and Barnabus came to one, then we might as well.
  • Fix our eyes on Jesus and continue on.  We must not quit.
  • Say less.  Without gossip a quarrel dies down.
  • Submit.  We must respect God-ordained authority.
  • Wait.  Time heals wounds that emotions and reason cannot.” 3  

  1. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary - Acts 13-28;  Moody Press, 1996; Pg 82 . 
  2. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary;   Acts 15
  3. Unpacking Forgiveness by Chris Brauns;  Crossway, 2008  Pg.183, 186

Monday, April 21, 2014

Back to Work: Mural Stuff

" Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men"  Colossians 3:23
 Well, happy Monday everyone, and it's back to work after a fantastic weekend of celebrating our Lord's  Resurrection with the saints.
   We're gearing up to head out for another trophy room project.   Robert  works as a self employed freelance artist and we have two main clients that provide the lion's share (no pun intended)  of our bread and butter.   
    One is a  taxidermy exhibitor where he works as their sole muralist  painting landscape backdrops for trophy rooms.  Some of the murals are done on huge canvases in the shop but some of them have to be painted on location which typically takes several weeks, depending on the size of the room.  
  Trophy rooms are like  small private natural history museums, for big game hunters and  are quite elaborate  when completed.     Our part is to paint the background murals that correspond with the place the animals have come from.    When I say "our",  I mean Robert does the painting, and I gather reference materials, print photos to work from,  email the client with updates,  order supplies, do the bookkeeping, and provide moral support when we're on the road. 
 Here's a little demonstration video I put together a few years ago to show how we do trophy rooms on location.  This one was in Utah.   
  Below is a new  mural he  did for the  Cabela's store that opened earlier this year  in Anchorage,  Alaska.  
    Next to  the taxidermy company,  Robert  works alongside his longtime friend and very talented artist partner,  Paul Manktilow,  who contracts  with Cabela's.    When they work on  murals for a store they each paint their own murals.  They've been doing stores together throughout the US  for over a decade.   Most of what they do is on canvas in the shop at home,   and the murals are put up like wallpaper.  
  I'm so thankful God provides  these  projects because  the life of an artist can literally be feast or famine. 
   Below:  Robert and Paul when we  worked at the Cabela's store in  Austin, Texas -2005   

Related blogposts:
Diary of a Traveling Mural Painters Wife 
A Lion, a Zebra, and a Case of Mistaken Identity 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

"Where You There?"


 Sung by Jubilant Sykes
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when  the blood came streaming down?
Were you there when the blood came streaming down?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when the blood came streaming down?
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Were you there when He rose up from the dead? 
Were you there when He rose up from the dead?
Oh, sometimes I feel like shoutin’ Glory! Glory! Glory! .
Were you there when He rose up from the dead?

      "Where You There?" is an African American Spiritual that predates the Civil War.
Have a very blessed Resurrection Day!


Friday, April 18, 2014

"It is Finished"

Upon a Life I did not live,
Upon a Death I did not die,
Another’s death Another’s life
I cast my soul eternally
Bold shall I stand in that great day,
For who, aught to my charge can lay?
Fully absolved by Christ I am,
From sin’s tremendous curse and blame
"When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said,   It is finished" (John 19:30
     "It is finished." What was finished? The work of atonement.
  The sins of the believer - all of them - were transferred to the Saviour. As saith the scripture, "The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isa. 53:6). If then God laid my iniquities on Christ, they are no longer on me. Sin there is in me, for the old Adamic nature remains in the believer till death or till Christ’s return, should he come before I die, but there is no sin on me. This distinction between sin IN and sin ON is a vital one, and there should be little difficulty in apprehending it.   Were I to say the judge passed sentence on a criminal, and that he is now under sentence of death, everyone would understand what I meant.   In like manner, everyone out of Christ has the sentence of God’s condemnation resting upon him. But when a sinner believes in the Lord Jesus, receives him as his Lord and Master, he is no longer "under condemnation" - sin is no longer on him, that is, the guilt, the condemnation, the penalty of sin, is no longer upon him.   And why? Because Christ bore our sins in his own body on the tree (1 Pet. 2:24).   The guilt, condemnation and penalty of our sins, was transferred to our substitute. Hence, because my sins were transferred to Christ, they are no more upon me.

 "It is finished." Reader, do you believe it? or, are you trying to add something of your own to the finished work of Christ to secure the favour of God?   All you have to do is to accept the pardon which he purchased. God is satisfied with the work of Christ, why are not you?   Sinner, the moment you believe God’s testimony concerning his beloved Son, that moment every sin you have committed is blotted out, and you stand accepted in Christ!  O would you not like to possess the assurance that there is nothing between your soul and God?   Would you not like to know that every sin had been atoned for and put away?   Then believe what God’s word says about Christ’s death.   Rest not on your feelings and experiences but on the written word.   There is only one way of finding peace, and that is through faith in the shed blood of God’s Lamb.

"It is finished." Do you really believe it?"

The Seven Sayings of the Savior on the Cross; by Arthur Pink;
Available online @ Chapel Library


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

Thoughts on Compassion

“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!