This is an open letter of gratitude to the staff and elders and people of Bethlehem Baptist Church at the end of my two-month writing leave. If writing books can be compared to having babies, there were two births on this leave. And, like a mother rejoices over her newborn children—and the end of labor—I rejoice over finishing these books...
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One of the massive differences between life with God in the Old Testament and life with God in the New Testament is that in the New Testament all our conscious glorifying of God should be “through Jesus Christ.”
“. . . to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 1:25)
“. . . that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 4:11)
“. . . to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.” (Romans 16:27)
“. . . filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the …
I made my annual visit to a Sunday morning service in a “mainline Protestant church” a couple weeks ago. It is an eerie experience. Heart-wrenchingly eerie.
- A magnificent building.
- A magnificent choir singing, “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of he world, have mercy on us” (in Latin).
- A closing hymn, “Lord, I want to be a Christian.”
- Three women pastors on the platform and two men.
- Pews filled with well-to-do looking folks.
The reason I say it was eerie is that much of this religious language means something totally different in their minds from what I mean by it. There is a keeping of the language and a demythologizing of the origin…
If you look at sunsets and sunrises without knowing that God is painting them then and there, you will miss the point. Sunsets and sunrises do not just happen. God does them.
You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy. (Psalms 65:8)
What are they so happy about?
Psalm 19 gives the answer. They are happy because they are showing the glory of God. “The heavens declare the glory of God” (v. 1).
How happy is the rising sun to display the glory of God? Answer: “In them [the heavens] God has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy” (Psalm 19:4-5).
The difference between heaven and hell is not that heaven will be ethnically diverse and hell won’t be. Both will be diverse. All races and all ethnicities and all cultures will be present in hell.
The difference between heaven and hell is that in heaven—that is, in the new heaven and new earth—there will be perfect racial and ethnic harmony, but in hell, racial and ethnic animosities will reach their fullest fury and last forever.
Paul spoke of the ethnic diversity of hell in Romans 2:9,
There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek.
“Jew and Greek” was shorthand for all ethnic groups.
Born March 31: Rene Descartes, 1596 (“I think, therefore, I am”), Joseph Hayden, 1732 ("The Creation" Oratorio), and Barnabas William Piper, 1983 (Son of Encouragement).
Things just keep getting better and better.
Happy birthday, Barna!
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:13).
James 1:13 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one” (James 1:13).
That’s true. But the Bible also says, “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1).
So God does not do the tempting—he does not put evil desires in our hearts (for he can have no evil desires in his heart)—but he does bring us into the presence of many tests and temptations. “A man’s steps are from the Lord” (Proverbs 20:24).
In fact, every step we take is a step into the presence of temptation.…
This is our new world in the Twin Cities:
- The Twin Cities’ Hispanic population more than doubled from 1990 to 2000. The Twin Cities was the eighth fastest growing Hispanic city in the United States during the 1990s.
- The Twin Cities was the 9th fastest growing Asian city in the U.S. during 1990s.
- There are 13,000 international students in the Twin Cities (10,000 college students and 3,000 high school exchange students).
- There are 200 different languages spoken by people living in the Twin Cities area.
- The light rail system in the Twin Cities sells tickets in four languages: English, Spanish, Hmong, and Somali.
- The Phillips Neighb…
The most important prayer is that the most important person in the universe do the most important act in the universe.
That’s why Jesus put this request at the beginning of the Lord’s prayer: “Hallowed be your name.”
God is the most important person in the universe. More important than all others put together.
All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness” (Isaiah 40:17).
The whole-souled act of hallowing God’s name is the most important act in the universe.
To “hallow” means to “sanctify” which in God’s case means to set apart in your mind and heart as supremely great and beautiful and valuable.…
It is not a sign of a seasoned Christian soul that steady joy is untinged with steady sorrow.
Or to put it positively, the seasoned soul in Christ has a steady joy and a steady sorrow.
They protect each other. Joy is protected from being flippant by steady sorrow. Sorrow is protected from being fatal by steady joy.
And they intensify each other. Joy is made deeper by steady sorrow. Sorrow is made sweeter by steady joy.
For the seasoned Christian soul, I do not see how it can be otherwise while people are perishing and we are saved. I do not see how it can be otherwise while these two passages are written by the same inspired man:
I have great sorrow and unceas…