The Apostle Paul wrote, “Continue in what you have learned and become convinced of” (2 Timothy 3:14) because he knew some who had not continued.
We share his concerns. We share them especially for our children as they become increasingly independent. Statistics vary widely but one thing is clear, many children who were raised in Christian homes leave the faith they once professed.
We can’t make our children continue in the faith, but we aren’t left anxious and passive. We can give our children the privilege of being in a family where they are taught about, participate in, and witness life with Jesus.
“I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the One Nietzsche ridiculed as ‘God on the cross.’ In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of the Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time after a while I have had to turn away. And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in Godforsaken darkness. That is the God for me! He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of his. There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark, the cross that symbolizes divine suffering. ‘The cross of Christ ... is God’s only self-justification in such a world” as ours….’ ‘The other gods were strong; but thou wast weak; they rode, but thou didst stumble to a throne; But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak, And not a god has wounds, but thou alone.’” ~John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p.326-327
“Your soul’s business is in the hand of a High Priest who can be touched with the feeling of your infirmities…He well knows that world through which you are struggling, for He dwelt in the midst of it thirty-three years. He well knows ‘the contradiction of sinners’, which so often discourages you, for He endured it Himself (Heb. 12:3). He well knows the art and cunning of your spiritual enemy, the devil, for He wrestled with him in the wilderness. Surely with such an advocate you may well feel bold.
Are you alone in the world, and neglected by those who ought to love you?
So also was Jesus.
Are you misunderstood, misrepresented, slandered and persecuted?
So also was Jesus.
Do you ever feel great agony and conflict of mind? Do you feel in darkness as if God has left you?
So did Jesus.
It is impossible to conceive a Savior more suited to the wants of man’s heart than our Lord Jesus Christ—suited not only by His power, but by His sympathy—suited not only by His divinity, but His humanity…[He] is the most loving and sympathizing of friends, as well as the mightiest and most powerful of Saviors….you want no comfort…so long as you can repose your weary soul on the Man Christ Jesus.” ~J.C. Ryle, Holiness, pp.240-242
Each Christmas season, my sisters and I try and think of a new way to draw our children’s attention away from “getting” and towards “giving.” This year Mike and I decided to have Caly begin sponsoring a child with Covenant Mercies.
For those of you who aren’t aware, Covenant Mercies is a “gospel-centered non-profit organization” dedicated to “serving the poor, the orphan, and the widow.” This ministry is an auxiliary of Covenant Fellowship Church—the Sovereign Grace Church located in Philadelphia, PA. We girltalkers are privileged to know the Covenant Mercies director, Doug Hayes, and I am so excited for our family to be able to participate with this ministry in the great work they are doing around the world.
This morning Caly and I sat down together and had a talk about Christmas and this new opportunity. I was able to remind her again about how blessed she is and how there are many children who don’t even have enough food to eat or warm clothes to wear—forget about Christmas presents. And through an organization like Covenant Mercies we can play our small part in caring for one of these children. So we turned on the computer and I helped her sign up to become an official sponsor.
Such a small thing, but I’m praying that the Lord would use it to help Caly grow in love this Christmas, and give a child she may never meet a glimpse of the Savior’s love.
Today was “one of those days.” I woke up late and could barely keep my eyes open as I began my morning routine. I was behind schedule. All of my well thought out plans for my morning seemed lost. On days like this, the temptation to live by my emotions looms large. Complaining and grumbling were on my tongue. And then I read this, “We are TODAY accepted in the Beloved, TODAY absolved from sin, TODAY acquitted at the bar of God. Oh! Soul-transporting thought.” Mr. Spurgeon strikes again. My grumbling heart stood rebuked. Today is one of those days—one of those amazing days, which find me standing before the bar of God acquitted from all of my sin because of the death of Jesus Christ on my behalf. Yes, Mr. Spurgeon, this is a “soul transporting” thought.
Regardless of what this day holds for you, may the truth of your acceptance in the Beloved reign first in your heart.
“Every single thing that happens to us expresses God’s love to us, and comes to us for the furthering of God’s purpose for us. Thus, so far as we are concerned, God is love to us—holy, omnipotent love—at every moment and in every event of every day’s life. Even when we cannot see the why and the wherefore of God’s dealings, we know that there is love in and behind them, and so we can rejoice always, even when, humanly speaking, things are going wrong. We know that the true story of our life, when known, will prove to be, as the hymn says, “mercy from first to last”—and we are content.”
Thought you’d like to see this clever introduction to the gospel by the folks at Southern Seminary. Show it to your children or forward it to a friend—a great way to start up or continue a gospel conversation:
These were just a few of the fearful questions swirling around in my brain last week as I anticipated 1:00 PM on Thursday. This was the time I had arranged to meet with an unbeliever who wanted to ask me questions about God.
Come Thursday morning I “happened” to check a blog I occasionally read and here was the post for that day:
And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. (AC 18.9-11)
Election and evangelism work together. God had chosen many in Corinth – he called them “my people” – though they were not yet saved. Because they were elect, God told Paul not to fear but keep proclaiming the gospel. Far from producing apathy, God’s sovereignty fueled Paul’s evangelism.
God has people all around us that he sees as saved. Let’s go on speaking and not be silent.
My apprehension immediately lifted.
This woman’s salvation was not dependent on me. God is the one who saves.
I simply needed to speak.
So speak I did. I certainly wasn’t eloquent. In fact, I don’t think I did a very good job.
Yet my deficiencies didn’t seem to diminish this woman’s interest. Even though she didn’t put her trust in Jesus Christ, she’s responding. She’s seeking.
Sitting in Starbucks that Thursday afternoon, my heart thrilled to think that perhaps she is one of God’s elect. And however feeble my effort, I know God was with me—he gave me grace to speak and not be silent.