A Parent’s Guide to Discussing Easter

jesus_cross_death_giotto_di_bondone-423x388

“When you teach a child writing, you hold its hand while it forms the letters: that is, it forms the letters because you are forming them. We love and reason because God loves and reasons and holds our hand while we do it.” (Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis)

Drive-by parenting can be a remarkable tactic. Life is busy and families move fast. At what seems as the most inconvenient time, we see an opening to ask our child a question, whether sitting at the breakfast table or digging through the laundry. If you have their attention, if just for a moment, you have an opening. If the opportunity is not seized, it could be lost forever. This happened to me several months ago with my 13 year old son. What follows is a true story…

Me: “Hey, have any of your classes discussed evolution yet?

Son: “Huh? Uh, no, I don’t think so?’

Me: “Really, Nothing? Maybe they’re calling it something else like, Darwinism?

Son: “Yea, I guess. I think my science teacher spoke about that awhile back”

Me: (Internal thought) Bingo!

Me: “So, you’re in youth at the church, what did you think when the Teacher was instructing something different than what the Bible teaches?”

Son: (Slowing opening up) “Well, I’m not sure. I don’t know what to think. I want to believe the Bible, but the evolution stuff sounds like it works”

Me: “So, what is your take on which one sounds right?”

Son: “Well, I think God did create man, animals and stuff, and then He let evolution do the rest.”

Me: “Interesting. It’s great that you’re thinking about it and trying to make sense of it. You know, scientists have debated these theories for years. Let me provide you with this idea, if God left his creation alone and used evolution to make what we see in the world today, then that would mean God doesn’t interact with us and is impersonal. You think that is true?”

Son: “No. That doesn’t make any sense”

Me: “I don’t think so either. If God were not personal, whom would we be praying to then? Since God is personal and holy, He sent Jesus on our behalf as the perfect atonement for our sin. This justifies us into right standing before God and reconciles us to Him. That doesn’t seem like God wants to let the world operate without Him involved. It sounds like God wants to be engaged in our lives and have a relationship with us.”

Son: “Yea, I guess so. Cool.”

Our foremost responsibility as parents is to teach, guide and nurture our children. Therefore, at Easter, assisting them with the incredible events of Jesus crucifixion, resurrection and saving redemption for humankind is a responsibility we cannot take lightly. In the situation described above, culture was providing the framework that would have guided my child’s faith for possibly the rest of his life! I am thankful for that morning. I took the time to find out if my child needed assistance in reconciling conflicting information about Jesus, the Bible and the world we live in. The Acts 19 Apologetics Ministry encourages you do the same.

As we enter the Easter season, family, friends and especially our children will have questions about Jesus, the Christian faith, and how this relates to our traditions of celebration. The apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 4:6; “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Answering the questions of why we believe what we believe demonstrates to others there are solid foundations to the Christian faith.

In as little as 30 minutes, this outline will assist you in framing this essential conversation talking about Jesus, the love He has for us and providing parental leadership to your family as a reflection of that love.

The Acts 19 Apologetics Ministry provides this guide as a means to encourage you to seize this chance to speak truth and love into your children.

Will you join us in completing this worthwhile task?

“3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also…” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

Talking to your family about Easter and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Step 1: Set the Theme:

• The celebration of Easter is a season to celebrate the resurrection three days after our Saviors death on the cross at Calvary.

Step 2: Read Bible scriptures aloud:

*Consider having others in your family read the passages.*

• Crucifixion prophecies fulfilled from Old Testament in Isaiah 53:3-12 and New Testament Mark 15:21-32, John 19:17-27.

• Burial of Jesus- Mark 15:42-47 and John 19:38-42

• Empty tomb- Luke 24:1-12, and John 20:1-9

• Jesus’ resurrection- 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 and 15:14

• Appearances of Jesus- John 20:10-30

• Faith in Jesus- Romans 4:25 and 10:9 and Acts 4:10.

Step 3: Address the points of discussion.

1. First main point– Easter is a celebration of Jesus Christ! Our Savior’s death accomplished; atonement of humanity’s sinful actions, conquered death, defeated evil and provided the absolute example of sacrificial love with His resurrection!

• Jesus’ crucifixion was predicted in Isaiah 53.3, “5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

• Jesus Christ was crucified, was buried in a known tomb sealed by the Roman government, and protected by Roman guards. The tomb in which Jesus body was placed, was found empty three days later. Jesus sat with, spoke too, and ate with his disciples and appeared to hundreds of people after his resurrection. (1 Corinthians 15:3)

• Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, overcoming our separation from God. Jesus’ crucifixion had to occur for us to be justified, or declared righteous before God. (Galatians 2:16) The crucifixion is God’s gift to His creation, which He loves. “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:25)

• It was necessary for Jesus to be crucified on the cross, as an outpouring of God’s love for his children. God wants to be with His children who believe and trust in Him! Jesus loves you! (1 Peter 2:24)

• Jesus Christ’s victory over death and evil is God’s way of providing us the ultimate indication that He alone is in control of the world! With the exception of God, no one in the past, present or future will accomplish the incredible feat of denying mortality! (Romans 6:6-8, 4:25, 5:19)

2. Second main point– Easter is not about hiding eggs; it is about celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

• Some people believe that Easter is only a celebration of the spring season. When considered this way, it empties the resurrection of its real meaning.

• We affirm that Easter is not all about chocolate bunnies or even family gatherings, but remembering Jesus, His death and resurrection and the love our Lord has for us. (John 3:16-17)

• It is OK for our family to celebrate modern Easter traditions of Easter egg hunting, the Easter bunny, and family gatherings. We should do these things! They are fun, and spending time together as a brothers and sisters in Christ worships the Lord!

3. Third main point– The life of Jesus and the reality of His resurrection changes everything:

• When you have bad days, when something terrible happens to you, a friend or your family, we may not always know why, but we do know that God has a reason, and He alone is in control. No matter how messed up life can be, Jesus loves you! We should take comfort in placing our trust in the Creator of the universe. (2 Corinthians 4:8-12)

• Jesus teachings, death, resurrection and ascension into Heaven and to the sit on the throne with God are the ultimate realizations of forgiveness. (Acts 1:9-11, Matthew 19:28) As followers of Christ Jesus, we are to have the same compassion, grace, humility, and love towards people who may or may not treat us nicely. By doing this, we strive to continue the mission of Jesus until His return to correct all the evils in this world and make them right forever! (Matthew 28:19-20)

4. Conclusion:

• The Resurrection is the reconciliation of humanity’s wickedness, the defeat of evil, the conquering of death, and the ultimate example of love. All occurred with the resurrection of Jesus Christ’s on the cross! (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

• Easter is a time of year for celebrating new beginnings, spending time with family, and remembering the ultimate sacrificial gift Jesus provided for us. (1 John 2:2, 4:10 and Romans 3:25)

• We can take comfort in placing our trust in the Creator of the universe. (Genesis 1:1-31)

• Our God, in His infinite being, is in control of the world! (Ephesians 6:12)

• Jesus will return to correct all evils, wrongdoings, insults and injustices in this world and make them right forever! (Revelations 19:16)

A Parent’s Guide to Discussing Christmas

christmas-tree37 Parents Guide to Discussing Christmas

“The best thing of all is God is with us.”- John Wesley, Theologian. 1703-1791

As the days drew closer to Christmas, the anticipation increased. The brightly decorated tree had presents surrounding the base and Christmas music played on the television in the living room. The smell of freshly baked holiday treats lingered in the air. The atmosphere was filled with joy and full of hope. However, it was full of hope that “it” would not happen again. Hope that the drinking would not start. Hope that the shouts of rage and anger would not be directed at the people he declared he “loved”. Hope that the drinking he repeatedly promised to stop would not destroy yet another holiday.

No such luck. The rage began and the kids scattered to different areas of the house. The Christmas joy and cheerful thoughts vanished as quickly as they had come. All hope collapsed. The sound of Christmas bells echoing from the television sounded strangely like the starting bell at a boxing ring. However, now the boxing ring was contained inside a three bedroom, two-bath home in a no-name suburb.
“Please do not let the neighbors hear the yelling and screaming, again.”

As the rounds progressed, the tempo increased and with each passing moment, the siblings’ hearts ached more and more.

“Why is this happening now?”

“What was wrong this time?”

“Is this how a father is supposed to act?”

“How could he do this so close to Christmas?”

“Why won’t God save us?” The battle thundered on.

The heightened conflict was different this time. From its base, the Christmas tree was snatched from the corner of the room. Presents, gift-wrapped with such great care, were kicked out of the way. Ornaments flew around the room as he carried the tree toward the front door.
“No!” The kids screamed with tears streaming down their faces.

“We are not having Christmas!” he proclaimed. Everyone was crying as the tree landed in a crumbled pile in the yard. Once again, the neighbors were very aware of the events unfolding in the home.

Seated on the edge of her bed, her head in her hands, Mother wept. Their tormentor had stormed off and taken his drunken rage with him. The house was quiet now and the kids gathered around their Mom to check for physical damage, and, in an all too common turn of events, preceded to comfort her.

Through her tears she muttered, “All I wanted was for you kids to have a good Christmas. I’m sorry, I’m so very sorry…” *

I pray that the true story above is not reflective of you, your family, or anyone you know. Sometimes it hurts to remember, and as the Christmas season is celebrated, it causes memories to surface. Some memories are wonderful reflections of the past, and other memories; frankly, we would wish to forget forever.

If this story resembles your personal story, words cannot express my distress. No one should harbor those types of memories. However, you now have the opportunity to create joyous memories and influence your children’s holiday recollections. What will your children remember from your holiday celebrations? Will it be joy, happiness and love? This parents’ guide is your opportunity to speak directly into your children and share with them the true meaning of Christmas. You can create positive memories that will last a lifetime. How special it is to communicate to them your love and the love of our Father-God who will never forsake us, and sent His only Son as proof of that love!
The Acts 19 Apologetics Ministry provides this guide as a means to encourage you to seize this chance to speak truth and love into your children.

Will you join me in completing this worthwhile task?

John 3:16: “16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him…”

Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”

Talking to your family about Christmas and the birth of Jesus in three easy steps:

Step 1: Set the Theme:

The celebration of Christmas is a celebration of the birth of our Savior, sent by God the Father who loves us.

Step 2: Read aloud scriptures:

*Consider having others in your family read the passages.*

  • Jesus birth- Luke 2:4-7 and Matthew 1:18-25.
  • The Shepherds and Angels celebrating his birth- Luke 2:8-20 and Matthew 2:1-12
  • Jesus presented at the Temple- Luke 2:1-40
  • Prophecies fulfilled from Old Testament in Isaiah 7:14 and 9:6 and foretold in the New Testament -Luke 1:26-45
  • Gifts from your Father in heaven—Matthew 7:7-11
  • The Lord will never leave you nor forsake you.—Deuteronomy 31:6

Step 3: Address the points of discussion.

First main point: God the Son came as a man to save us. Jesus Christ is fully God and fully human.

The Father sent God the Son (Jesus) into this world in the lowliest of ways. Born to a poor farm girl, in a small town in the middle of nowhere, and in barn with animals the “the Son of the Most High” was delivered to redeem us from sin.
Jesus’s birth was foretold in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. This was God’s plan from the very beginning.
Also in Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.”
Six months prior to Jesus’ birth, the Lord sent the angel Gabriel to tell Mary she will be with child, and He will be called Jesus and He will be called, “the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:26)
The manger was in reality settled in a cave under a family home in the hills of Bethlehem! (Luke 2:16) Draw the comparison to the nativity scenes commonly seen today. Note of the differences between modern depictions of the birth and the reality of a 1st century birth. Bethlehem was a very small town, without the modern comforts of an “inn”. There was no choice, but to stay in any available space. (Luke 2:12) Hence, the birth of Jesus in a manger.

Second main point: God the Father loves you, and sending Christ Jesus demonstrates this love.

God sent His Son, Jesus, to atone for our sinful human nature. (1 John 3:1, and 4:10)
One of the attributes of God is His perfect holiness. Holiness means to separate from, or set apart. God must set Himself apart from our unholy and sinful nature. (Hebrew 12:14 and Ephesians 2:20-21) Jesus came to us as a fulfillment of God’s love to bring us near to Him. Through our faith in Jesus, we are made holy! (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Father-God loves us so much our Lord provides the path of reconciliation for our unholy nature. Our reconciliation is Jesus! (2 Corinthians 5:18 and Deuteronomy 4:37-38)
You have a Father who loves you and will never forsake you. (Psalm 94:14) The Christmas season is a celebration of God’s love for us, through the birth of His son Jesus. (Luke 2:8-20 and Matthew 2:1-12)
Jesus sets the example of how a husband is to treat his wife and children. (Ephesians 5:25-26, 6:4) No matter our past, we are to model ourselves after our savior Jesus.

Third main point: Christ Jesus is at the center of the Christmas celebration.

All the traditions surrounding Christmas and the holiday season are wonderful. We should wholeheartedly enjoy all of the food, family, parties, trees and trimmings, as long as Jesus stays the primary focus of it all.
We affirm that Christmas is not all about material things or even just family, but remembering Jesus, His birth and the love our Lord has for us.
Purchasing and giving gifts to each other is fun and can be glorifying to God when we know why we are doing it. The gifts and giving represent love and the gift of Jesus’ birth to us.

Conclusion:

The Lord loves you! The Lord will never forsake you, regardless of the situations in your life.
God the Father has sent us the perfect example of love, in His son Jesus.
Remember: Jesus was born, of a virgin birth, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” and he came to be with us and provide the path of reconciliation for all of our sins. (Colossians 1:15)

* For the family members depicted in this guide’s opening story, their ending is one of redemption, joy and happiness. The Lord redeemed and restored this family many years ago and in March 2012, the devoted husband lovingly transitioned his bride of almost 40 years to be with our Lord. Here lies a visible example of our Savior’s grace. With that grace and by that grace alone we are redeemed.

Seeker Series, Why? Does God allow evil?

quote anselm

Why does God allow an obliteration of people in a natural disaster without seemingly a thought or concern? Why God doesn’t just remove Satan and his evil schemes that he executes in this world? If God is all-powerful (omnipotent), this task would certainly be within his power. If God is all-knowing (omniscience), he knows the evil processes Satan will instigate. If God is all-loving and completely good, God should want to protect his children from any harm that may come to them.

 
• Evil is at work in this world, but not in the next.

 
God created the world in which the difficulty of evil/sin is possible, but it was not in his design that we participate in it. Man created the problem of sin and brokenness at the first fall of Adam. Adam exercised his free will by choosing to deny our creator’s direct command and ate the forbidden fruit. (Genesis 3:6-7) Written in his book, Intellectuals don’t need God & other modern myths, Alister McGrath maintained, “How do they (we) know that there cannot be morally sufficient reasons for God permitting suffering?” Consider the possibility that to “die” from this life and go to heaven is not punishment. Philippians 1:21 reveals, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”, therefore, gaining entrance into a heaven with overwhelming joy, happiness, and love. Do we as finite humans, with limited knowledge, have a capacity to judge if evil that has occurred is not allowed by God for sufficient reasons unknown to us? It is within boundaries of God’s known character attributes that he is all-loving. With that assurance we can assume that God is restraining evil in this world. God is inhibiting wickedness until his overall redemptive strategy is achieved. This permits all who will come to know Jesus Christ time to place their faith in him.

 
23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:23–24)

 
One would assume that God could stop evil, but to do so would require the end of this world. No one knows “the day or hour” of the end as we are told twice in the gospel of Matthew and once in the gospel of Mark. “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32) To have an all-knowing God intervene during times of great evil would diminish the reason for sending his son to bear the suffering of this life for us. There is no pain, murder, evil, hate or anything not perfect in heaven. Yes, God could make it trouble-free to gain the promised reward heaven, but at what cost? The cost was his Son, and at his suffering, the admission price was paid. To maroon his children in the precarious position of an opulent spoiled child, waiting for the great protection of a parent would lead us to be unable to freely choose God’s forgiveness and grace He provided in Jesus.

 
Man, a broken self-deprecating individual could not justly determine the level of pain or evil at which point God should intercede. Would murder be the precipitating evil? How many murders must occur prior to intervention? Should the count be taken into consideration, the murder of one or the murder of 100 or more? If the needless killing is of someone who has lived a long fulfilling life, then is this considered a “needless death”? Does the death of a young child hold more weight within the balance of judgment of evil? Man’s finite mind is in no position to make decisions such as these, as all life is considered sacred. If not murder, what about natural evils that are not initiated by man? If we pronounce floods, tsunamis and other natural disasters that appear to our finite minds to needlessly take life as sufficiently wrong humanity cannot rightly conclude as to what level of disaster should or should not be contained as we have no visibility to the destination of the intended purposes.

 
God can and does intercede against all forms and methods of evil and when doing so carries out His design for His creation. We are not God, so to second-guess when God should or should not step in places us as God’s equal. Equal footing between God and man does not increase the status of man, but serves to decrease the status of a perfect, all loving, all knowing God. By doing this, He then ceases to be God. We need God to be God; man needs God in all his impeccable glory.

 
• So God restrains evil in this world, what does this mean for me?

 
Shake your fists, yell, scream and stomp your feet at God, and plead with Him to intervene for all wickedness and earthly sufferings. God is great enough to shoulder the burden. Place your reliance for security in this life in one who was sent to bear the evil and sin of this world, Christ Jesus. If it is God’s will to stop the evil for the last time he will do so. Directing your attention to Him is to correctly place your faith and expectant optimism exactly where it should be.

 
“4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelations 21:4)

 
McGrath, A. (1993). Intellectual Barriers to Faith. In Intellectuals don’t need God & other modern myths: Building bridges to faith through apologetics. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Re 21:4, Mark 13:32). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
The New International Version. (2011). (1 Pe 2:23–24). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

“Take care of your Mother…”

Driving Away

Two men, who had succumbed to their own sinful desires, presented me with that final emotional statement prior to their departure from my life. The first time it occurred at age 7, the other time I was well into adulthood. Each time it deeply hurt. Who tells a 7 year old boy, to “take care of your Mother”? I didn’t understand what it meant. My Mother and Father were supposed to take care of me. During the second occurrence I empathized with the concept of, “take care of your Mother”. I had a family of my own, but the painful sting of the finality of the situation struck cords of anguish within me I thought were long since buried. My Fathers of this world had twice failed me in spectacular fashion and left me with a poor example of love, marriage and trust. This is the end result of porn use and sinful desires. This is where years of pornography consumption the leads. This is the ending.

Here is the beginning.

Pornography is an uncontrolled virus of our culture. The statistics are appalling.

  • U.S. pornography revenue: $13.3 billion. $4 billion more than mainline Hollywood films in 2007
  • Daily pornographic search engine requests: 68 million (25% of total search engine requests)
  • U.S. adults who regularly visit Internet pornography Web sites: 40 million
  • Internet users who view pornography: 42.7%
    http://erlc.com/issues/quick-facts/por/#sthash.N2DdVq8T.dpuf

And it gets worse.

Is it any surprise that the two men that were placed in the position of responsibility to raise me failed miserably in maintaining a marriage founded on an intimate relationship with one woman?

A pornographic culture is compelling men, both young and old, away from the biblical doctrine of the Imago Dei. Simply stated, the Imago Dei is that humanity is created in the image or likeness of God. “27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27) Conversely, this doctrine is NOT articulating we are “gods”, or can be “gods”, but that both males and females have been created IN the image of God. God the Father has imputed his commutable attributes of spirituality,knowledge, goodness, love, holiness and other attributes, to his created beings. (Genesis 5:1-2, 1 Corinthians 15:49)

  • When men are allowed to consume women as a collection of body parts to be displayed and fantasied about, they fail to consider that within that individual is a soul. A soul that is created in the image of God! (Matthew 5:27-28)

Within this pornographic fantasy perishes the sanctity of a marriage covenant. (Genesis 2:24, 1 Corinthians 7:2) Hardcore, graphic pornography is intensely encouraging man’s sinful desires to view women in a way that is not healthy. The statistics above outline the conclusion that the money follows the pornographic demand.

If you’re a man addicted to images where does pornography use end? If you’re lucky you repent your sin to God, confess to your spouse, pray deeply for forgiveness and together you move forward in healing reconciliation. (Ephesians 4:24, Colossians 3:10) Refraining from use of erotic images by continually working on sanctification with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 6:11)

Most men are not that fortunate to receive an ending as described above. (Mathew 7:13) The lines between fantasy and reality are distorted. Escalating from the anonymity of solitary porn use, to strip clubs, and who knows what else, causing a splintering of all your relationships to occur. Lies and secrets breed to cover the traces. No longer will “regular” porn suffice, but with an ever increasing appetite more explicit pornography must be consumed creating new neural pathways in your brain. This modifies the way the brain functions to perceive what is real and not-real disabling the ability to formulate relational bonds. This will drive a deeper wedge between you and your spouse removing any traces of intimate connection from the relationship.

Still not convinced? The scientific research confirms these findings with a research study published in the Journal of American Medical Association: Psychiatry. It concludes that “the more pornography a person watches, the less gray matter, connectivity and activity they have in their brain.” http://pornharms.com/wp-content/uploads/K%C3%BChnGallinatJAMA.pdf

“9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” (Colossians 3:9-10)

Many men are in this dark place of exploiting pornography and are unable or unwilling to find the light. (1 John 1:5) Whatever the situation, I plead with you to want better for yourself, your spouse and your children. No child daydreams of becoming a porn star. No one imagines that the only way they will be able to survive in this world is to become a detached tool of lust for someone on the other end of a computer screen. I implore you to look at your children, especially your daughters and want more for them! Teach them that there is more to this world then the desires laid before us by an over sexualized society. (Deuteronomy 6:5-7)

No sin is too dark, to hidden, too horrible to escape the atonement work of Jesus Christ.

24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25 For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:24-25)

You haven’t astonished the Lord by the choices you have made. He knows your heart. (Romans 3:12-17) Forgiveness is available and freely provided to those who pursue the grace offered. A new life and beginning is open to you and your family. (John 3:3-8)

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy, blot out my transgressions.” (Psalm 51:1)

I plead with you to receive open invitation from Jesus, thus breaking the cycle of telling your children to, “take care of your Mother”, before you leave the shattered remains of your secret life for someone else to clean up…

Los padres Guía para Discutir Navidad- Translation of The Parents Guide to Discussing Christmas

Los padres Guía para Discutir Navidad

“Lo mejor de todo es que Dios está con nosotros.” – John Wesley, Teólogo. 1703-1791

A medida que los días se acercaban a la Navidad, la anticipación aumentada. El árbol brillantemente decorado tenía regalos que rodean la base y la música de Navidad jugado en la televisión en la sala de estar. El olor de la trata de vacaciones recién horneados permanecía en el aire. El ambiente se llenó de alegría y lleno de esperanza. Sin embargo, estaba lleno de esperanza de que “eso” no volvería a ocurrir. Espero que la bebida no arrancaba. Espero que los gritos de rabia y la ira no se dirigen a las personas que decían que él “amaba”. Espero que la bebida que en repetidas ocasiones se comprometió a parar no destruiría otra fiesta.

No tuve esa suerte. La rabia comenzó y los niños esparcidos a diferentes áreas de la casa. La alegría de la Navidad y pensamientos alegres desvanecieron tan rápidamente como habían llegado. Toda esperanza se derrumbó. El sonido de las campanas de Navidad haciendo eco de la televisión sonaba extrañamente como la campana de inicio en un ring de boxeo. Sin embargo, ahora el ring de boxeo estaba contenida dentro de una de tres dormitorios, dos baños casa en un suburbio sin nombre.
“Por favor, no dejes que los vecinos oyen los gritos y gritos, de nuevo.”

A medida que las rondas avanzaba, el ritmo aumentó y con cada momento que pasa, los corazones de los hermanos le dolía más y más.

“¿Por qué está pasando esto ahora?”

“¿Qué fue mal esta vez?”

“¿Es así como se supone que un padre para actuar?”

“¿Cómo podía hacer esto tan cerca de Navidad?”

“¿Por qué no va a Dios salvarnos?” La batalla tronó en.

El conflicto mayor era diferente esta vez. Desde su base, el árbol de Navidad fue arrebatado de la esquina de la habitación. Presenta, envuelto para regalo con tanto cuidado, fueron expulsados del camino. Adornos volaban por la habitación mientras se llevaba el árbol hacia la puerta principal.
“¡No!” Los niños gritaban con lágrimas en sus rostros.

“No vamos a tener la Navidad!”, Proclamó. Todo el mundo estaba llorando como el árbol aterrizó en un montón desmenuzado en el patio. Una vez más, los vecinos estaban muy al tanto de los acontecimientos que tienen lugar en el hogar.

Sentado en el borde de la cama, con la cabeza entre las manos, la madre lloraba. Su verdugo había enfurecí y tomado su rabia borracha con él. La casa estaba en silencio ahora y los niños se reunieron alrededor de su mamá para comprobar si hay daños físicos, y, en un giro muy común de los acontecimientos, precedido de consolarla.

A través de sus lágrimas, murmuró, “Todo lo que quería era para ustedes niños a tener una buena Navidad. Lo siento, me siento mucho … “*

Rezo para que la verdadera historia anterior no es un reflejo de usted, su familia, o cualquier persona que usted sabe. A veces duele recordar, y ya que la temporada se celebra la Navidad, provoca recuerdos a la superficie. Algunos recuerdos son maravillosos reflejos del pasado, y otros recuerdos; francamente, nos gustaría olvidar para siempre.

Si esta historia se parece a su historia personal, las palabras no pueden expresar mi angustia. Nadie debería albergar ese tipo de recuerdos. Sin embargo, ahora tiene la oportunidad de crear recuerdos alegres e influir en los recuerdos de vacaciones de sus hijos. ¿Cuáles serán sus hijos recordarán de sus celebraciones de las fiestas? ¿Será la alegría, la felicidad y el amor? Esta guía de los padres es su oportunidad de hablar directamente a sus hijos y compartir con ellos el verdadero significado de la Navidad. Puede crear recuerdos positivos que durarán toda la vida. Lo especial que es para comunicarse con ellos su amor y el amor de nuestro Padre-Dios que nunca nos abandonará, y envió a su Hijo unigénito como prueba de que el amor!
El Hechos 19 Apologética de Canyon Creek ofrece esta guía como un medio para animarle a que aprovechen esta oportunidad de hablar la verdad y el amor en sus hijos.

¿Quieres unirte a nosotros en la realización de esta tarea que vale la pena?

Juan 3:16: “16 Porque de tal manera amó Dios al mundo que dio a su Hijo unigénito, para que todo aquel que en él cree no se pierda, mas tenga vida eterna. 17 Porque no envió Dios a su Hijo al mundo para condenar al mundo, sino para salvar al mundo a través de él … ”

Salmo 55:22 “Eche sus cuidados en el Señor y él te sustentará; él nunca permitirá que los justos sean sacudidos “.

Hablando con su familia acerca de la Navidad y el nacimiento de Jesús en tres sencillos pasos:

Paso 1: Establecer el tema:

La celebración de la Navidad es una celebración del nacimiento de nuestro Salvador, enviado por Dios el Padre que nos ama.

Paso 2: Lea en voz alta pasajes de las Escrituras:

* Considere la posibilidad de tener a otros en su familia leer los pasajes. *

Jesús al nacer Lucas 2: 4-7 y Mateo 1: 18-25.
Los pastores y los ángeles celebrando su nacimiento: Lucas 2: 8-20 y Mateo 2: 1-12
Jesús se presentó en el Temple- Lucas 2: 1-40
Profecías cumplidas de Antiguo Testamento en Isaías 7:14 y 9: 6 y predichas en el Nuevo Testamento Lucas 1: 26-45
Regalos de su Padre en el cielo-Mateo 7: 7-11
El Señor nunca te dejará ni abandonará usted.-Deuteronomio 31: 6
Paso 3: Atender los puntos de discusión.

Primer punto principal: el Hijo de Dios vino como un hombre para salvarnos. Jesucristo es plenamente Dios y plenamente humano.

El Padre envió a Dios el Hijo (Jesús) a este mundo en el más humilde de los caminos. Nacido en una pobre chica de campo, en un pequeño pueblo en el medio de la nada, y en el establo con los animales del “Hijo del Altísimo” fue entregado a redimirnos del pecado.
El nacimiento de Jesús fue predicha en Isaías 07:14: “Por tanto, el Señor mismo os dará señal: He aquí que la virgen concebirá y dará a luz un hijo, y llamará su nombre Emanuel. Este era el plan de Dios desde el principio.
También en Isaías 9: 6: “Porque nos ha nacido un niño, se nos ha concedido un hijo, y el principado sobre su hombro. Y se llamará su nombre Admirable, Consejero “, Dios Fuerte, Padre Eterno y el Príncipe de la Paz.
Seis meses antes del nacimiento de Jesús, el Señor envió al ángel Gabriel a decirle a María que ella estará con los niños, y se llamará su nombre Jesús y Él será llamado “Hijo del Altísimo” (Lucas 01:26)
El director, era, en realidad, se instaló en una cueva debajo de una casa familiar en las colinas de Belén! (Lucas 2:16) Dibujar la comparación de los belenes comúnmente visto hoy. Nota de las diferencias entre las representaciones modernas del nacimiento y la realidad de un nacimiento siglo primero. Belén era un pueblo muy pequeño, sin las comodidades modernas de una “posada”. No había otra opción, pero para estar en cualquier espacio disponible. (Lucas 2:12) Por lo tanto, el nacimiento de Jesús en un pesebre.

Segundo punto principal: Dios Padre te ama, y enviar a Cristo Jesús demuestra este amor.

Dios envió a su Hijo, Jesús, para expiar nuestra naturaleza humana pecaminosa. (1 Juan 3: 1, y 4:10)
Uno de los atributos de Dios es Su perfecta santidad. La santidad se separen o apartados. Dios tiene que desmarcarse de nuestra naturaleza impía y pecadora. (Hebreo 12:14 y Efesios 2: 20-21) Jesús vino a nosotros como un cumplimiento del amor de Dios que nos acerquen a Él. A través de nuestra fe en Jesús, somos hechos santos! (2 Corintios 5:21)
Padre-Dios nos ama tanto nuestro Señor provee el camino de la reconciliación de nuestra naturaleza impía. Nuestra reconciliación es Jesús! (2 Corintios 5:18 y Deuteronomio 4: 37-38)
Usted tiene un Padre que te ama y que nunca abandonará. (Salmo 94:14) El tiempo de Navidad es una celebración del amor de Dios por nosotros, a través del nacimiento de su hijo Jesús. (Lucas 2: 8-20 y Mateo 2: 1-12)
Jesús nos da el ejemplo de cómo un esposo debe tratar a su esposa e hijos. (Efesios 5: 25-26, 6: 4) No importa nuestro pasado, somos nosotros mismos después de modelar nuestro Jesús salvador.

Tercer punto principal: que Cristo Jesús está en el centro de la celebración de la Navidad.

Todas las tradiciones que rodean la Navidad y la temporada de vacaciones son maravillosos. Debemos de todo corazón disfrutar de todos los alimentos, la familia, fiestas, árboles y adornos, siempre y cuando Jesús se queda el foco primario de todo.
Afirmamos que la Navidad no tiene que ver con las cosas materiales o incluso sólo la familia, sino para recordar a Jesús, su nacimiento y el amor de nuestro Señor tiene para nosotros.
Compras y dar regalos a los demás es divertido y puede glorificar a Dios cuando sabemos por qué lo estamos haciendo. Los regalos y donaciones representan el amor y el don del nacimiento de Jesús para nosotros.

conclusión:

El Señor te ama! El Señor nunca os dejará, sin tener en cuenta las situaciones en su vida.
Dios Padre nos ha enviado el ejemplo perfecto de amor, en su Hijo Jesús.
Recuerde: Jesús nació, de un nacimiento virginal, “El Hijo es la imagen del Dios invisible, el primogénito de toda creación” y que llegó a estar con nosotros y proporcionar el camino de la reconciliación de todos nuestros pecados. (Colosenses 1:15)

* Para los miembros de la familia representados en la historia inicial de esta guía, su final es una de la redención, la alegría y la felicidad. El Señor redimió y restauró esta familia hace muchos años y en marzo de 2012, el esposo devoto amorosamente la transición a su novia de casi 40 años para estar con nuestro Señor. Aquí yace un ejemplo visible de la gracia de nuestro Salvador. Con esa gracia y por esa sola gracia somos redimidos.

Re-Blog- Five Tips for Leading Your Small Group | TGC

Five Tips for Leading Your Small Group | TGC.

By KEVIN DEYOUNG

As school starts back up, so will plenty of church-sponsored and church-related small groups. Some will study the Bible. Others will read a Christian book together. Almost all will have a designated leader or leaders. While knowing your Bible and having Christlike character are the more important factors, there are also a number of skills which go a long way in leading an effective small group.

1. Communicate early and often, and then follow through.

A good leader is always leading. If you wait until the meeting to lead, it may be too late. In this era of easy communication, there is no reason leaders can’t remind the group of upcoming dates and assignments. Make sure everyone knows what is expected. Conclude every meeting by highlighting what’s next–what should be read? when is the group meeting? where are they meeting? who will be leading the discussion? Then before the next meeting send out a reminder email (or call or text or tweet or Facebook post). People forget. People are lazy. People get busy. People need lots of friendly reminders to stay on task–especially students.

As for the meeting itself, respect people’s time. Get things started promptly and end at the agreed upon time. Sure, emergencies come up. There are exceptions to almost every rule. But people need to know that they can count on you to get the meeting started and ended on time.

Whenever possible, keep things consistent. Changing dates and times almost always leads to dwindling numbers.

Ask people for specific commitments. Don’t do everything yourself. Get someone to bring a snack, another person to organize the upcoming barbecue, and someone else to open in prayer next week. This not only builds up others, it will encourage greater participation. Asking for commitments is better than making a general invitation.

2. Think through your questions ahead of time.

If your group consists of nothing but very mature Christians who have known each other for years you may be able to get away with little preparation. But that’s not the make up of most groups (and if so, it’s probably time to mix things up a little for the sake of newcomers and those just starting out as followers of Christ). Make sure your questions are crisp and clear. If you aren’t sure what you are asking, you can be sure no one else will either.

If the selection you are studying (in the Bible or in a book) is hard to understand, you may need a number of knowledge questions. Don’t make them so obscure that only seminary trained Christians would know the answer. But don’t make them so painfully obvious (e.g., fill in the blank questions) that everyone is embarrassed to venture forth an answer.

Don’t stay at the level of knowledge only. Ask questions which call for analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Prepare final questions which get at the heart.

Be creative in how you phrase your questions. Don’t just say “What do you think?” or “How do you feel about this?” or even “How can we apply this to our lives?” Ask questions like:

  • What is one thing you want to see change in your life as a result of this study?
  • What new promise can you take with you into the week?
  • What did you learn about God?
  • Where have you seen these things lived out well?
  • How does this relate to the cross?
  • How does this resemble our church for good or for bad?
  • Where is this a struggle for you in your marriage?
  • What do you have a hard time believing in God’s word?

You get the picture. There are hundreds of good questions you can ask on any given week. Few of them will come to you on the spot without any preparation.

3. Be mindful of group dynamics.

Being a leader is much more than opening and closing in prayer. You should do whatever you can to foster a warm, welcoming environment in your group. This means being especially mindful of new people. The 30 minutes of hang out time before the study may be a sheer delight for the old-timers, but for new people it’s bound to feel anxious and awkward. As a leader, you should do whatever you can to make them feel at ease. Ask them questions. Get the group to introduce itself. Have an exercise ready to encourage group sharing. The less people know each other the more structure is needed.

Keep in mind that newcomers may not know your history, your humor, or your theology. I made the mistake once of teasing one of our longtime small group members about not yet being convinced of paedobaptism. It was playful banter between me and these friends, but for the new folks visiting it sent them the (wrong) signal that credobaptists weren’t welcome here. I later apologized and explained that I was only joking with my friends and that we’d love to have them (the new couple) in our group. My bad.

One of the hardest and most important things a leader must do is try to include as many people as possible in group discussion. Obviously, the aim is not to make quiet members feel embarrassed, but often the quiet members simply need to be asked. A good leader won’t allow every discussion to be dominated by the same two or three people. He will specifically call on those who haven’t said much. He may need to gently add from time to time,  “Let me see if anyone else has something to add before I come back to you.”

A good leader will be sensitive to the mood of the group, discerning whether there is hurt, confusion, sadness, or frustration that needs to be addressed. Don’t just play traffic cop. Be a shepherd.

4. Know how to handle conflict.

The worst fear of most small group leaders is that they will be called upon to quell some raging inferno of disagreement. Thankfully, most Christian groups (in my experience) play pretty nice (almost to a fault). Angry conflict is rare, but it does happen. Depending on the circumstances, here are some of the things you may want to say in the midst of disagreement:

  • Sam, it sounds like you are trying to say XYZ. Am I hearing you correctly?
  • Amanda has offered a different interpretation. What do the rest of you think? How should we interpret this verse?
  • I know it’s hard to talk about such a controversial or painful topic, but I don’t think we should we run away from constructive conflict. I’d love to hear what everyone else is thinking.
  • This is an important discussion, but it’s not really involving the whole group. It would be great if the two of you could get together and continue the conversation at a different time.
  • It sounds like I may have done something to upset you. Why don’t we talk about it after the meeting is done?
  • Guys, I’m happy for us have disagreement in this group. But that sounded personal. Let’s try to be gentle even when we are passionate.

There may be times where the leader needs to be even more direct. You may have to shut down the conversation, explicitly correct a wrong interpretation, or reprove someone for speaking in a harsh and unedifying way. While we don’t want hot-headed leaders who make conflict worse, neither can we afford passive “leaders” who put their own people-pleasing and fear of man above the good of the whole group.

5. Plan for prayer.

If you expect prayer to just happen it will only barely happen. There is nothing wrong with 60 seconds of prayer to begin and end a meeting, if that’s your plan. Just to know that without preparation, that’s what will almost always happen. Effective times of prayer–whether short or long–take intentional planning. Are you going to ask for prayer requests? If so, how will ensure your “prayer” time is not all sharing with almost no praying? What are prayer requests from previous weeks that need follow up? How long do you want the prayer to be? How many people are you hoping will pray?

Leading in prayer requires clear direction. Don’t be afraid to call on certain individuals to pray (usually not newcomers). Remind people that their prayers can be short (in fact, you may want to encourage them to be short). Guide people through different topics (family, church, nation, world, etc.). If your prayer time is generally brief, consider setting aside a meeting every few months for nothing but prayer. We’ve often done this in our group, usually separating men and women for these most extended times of sharing and prayer.

The biggest difference between a small group that is spiritually, relationally, and biblically edifying and one that feels like an awkward waste of time is leadership. Good leaders do not always get good followers. But it almost never happens that you get good small groups without faithful, wise, skilled men and women to lead them.

Re-Blog- Simon Sinek on Leadership – TED2014 – YouTube

I don’t agree with Simon’s worldview, but I like his thoughts and his critical thinking process regarding these problems.

Watch the video and consider what Jesus taught during his ministry about leadership and serving others.

I found this video helpful.

Simon Sinek on Leadership – TED2014 – YouTube

Enjoy.

We cannot do without the doctrine that Jesus Christ is God

G Sidney Smith

G. Sidney Smith (1805-1875) was my great, great, great Grandfather.  He was the Rector of Aghalurcher, March 1838, Professor of Biblical Greek at Trinity College, Dublin, and Rector of Drumragh, 1867

This is his work, and it was written sometime in the mid 1800’s.  I like it, it needs to be posted.

Blessings…

 

We cannot do without the doctrine that Jesus Christ is God

To what is religion reduced, if the belief in the Divinity of Christ be taken away? Your attention is invited to this important question, apart from any discussion of the Scriptural argument for the doctrine.
There are some who do not doubt it, and yet do not seem to fell how completely it penetrates into every truth, and doctrine, and promise of the Word of God.
Christianity becomes meagre and hopeless and comfortless, if you leave this out. Rob religion of this jewel, and all its peace and power and glory are gone. We cannot do without the doctrine of a Divine Christ.
Go over the truths, which form the leading features of the hope and the knowledge of a true and happy believer.

Man is a sinner, and cannot save himself. He is in love with sin. He is condemned for his sin. He has a polluted heart, and the sentence of death is written upon him.
He cannot be saved unless two things take place. His guilt must be blotted out, and his heart must be changed. He must be pardoned or justified. He must also be made alive, or born again.
The sinner can only be pardoned in one way, namely, be the sin being laid upon a substitute. The sinner can only be made holy by passing from death unto life. And when alive, he can only be kept alive, not by himself, but by a power greater than himself.
He believes that when he dies it is to rise again; that his condition hereafter shall be eternal happiness; that he shall be conqueror, and more than conqueror, over sin, and death and Satan, forever.
He is one that even now has free access to his Father in heaven. He knows that his prayer reaches to Him, and prevails; that all things are working together for his good; that the earth may tremble, and the nations be shaken, but that the evil shall not overtake him.

This is but a sketch of these great things- justification, sanctification, glorification, victory. Would you consent to part with any of them? Which of them would you give up?
Now, all these privileges and blessings hang upon this fact, that the Lord Jesus is God. Take this away, and all collapses. We cannot do with a Divine Savior.
Take the subject of sin. A thoughtful mind sees that it is a mightier one than we can conceive. Who can estimate its effects, for these reasons, that God hates it to a degree that is beyond our comprehension, and will punish it with a penalty far beyond what men think it deserves? “Fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell: yea, I say unto you, Fear him.” These are words of awful import. How is such an evil to be dealt with? There is only one way made know to us: the sin must be transferred to another. A SUBSTITUTE comes forward to take it on himself, and he bears all the penalty. But who can do this? None but one. None but the Eternal himself can bear a penalty sufficient to counter-balance enteral woe.
We cannot, then, be satisfied with any substitute unless that substitute be Divine. No created angel could stand in my place and say, “I will bear all his iniquity, and heal him by my stripes, and give him peace by enduring his chastisement.”

We are told that this satisfaction for sin has been paid in BLOOD. “Without shedding of blood there is no remission.” Life has been forfeited, and life has been surrendered. “The life is in the blood” (Lev. xvii), and the blood has been shed. It is blood that purges consciences from dead works, to serve the living God. In blood are made white robes of the great multitude before the Throne. It is by blood that the sinner is justified. By blood he overcomes. By blood he enters into the holiest. Peace is made by the blood of the Cross. Redemption is obtained by the precious blood of the Lamb. The Church of God is purchased by blood. Can the blood of a creature do all this? How can this blood be so potent and precious, unless there be a Divine element in its value?
Dead in trespasses and sins all are by nature. The unconverted, unchanged sinner is dead- incapable of serving or glorifying God. Unless the be implanted within him the principle of a NEW LIFE, he cannot be saved. Life must be created in the soul, or it is dead forever. Born again he must be, or he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. He must pass from death to life. Who can effect this? Was he a creature only that restored life to the daughter of Jairus, or called Lazarus from the tomb? Who but the Creator can give life to a dead soul? Can you be satisfied that anyone else has power enough to take the dead, motionless heart, and breathe life into it? No; you cannot dispense with Him who is “Resurrection and the Life.” You cannot be born again with the power of the Creator.

Do I know my own heart? Can I penetrate into the mysteries of my own nature, or search into the mysteries out my own spirit? No; it is beyond my powers. This This heart is “deceitful above all things.” It has depths and dangers in it that I cannot fathom. I want ONE WHO CAN SEARCH AND TRY IT. I want a power that can pierce into the joints and marrow, and discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. None but He who made the soul can do this. None but a Divine Spirit can hear and understand the unutterable groaning’s. None but such a one can detect the deceits, and spy out the perils, and reveal to myself what I am. The Word of God alone is living and powerful enough for this. None else can claim to have the manifold wisdom. None else has all truth. None but He has the light shining in the dark place.

One of the images that ministers comfort and strength to the Christian is that which exhibits Christ as the SHEPHERD, and his people as the sheep. Very precious are the thoughts that gather around this idea of the Lord Jesus. How many have rejoiced in the words, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” It would be painful indeed to be deprived of the belief that our Savior is truly “the great Shepherd.” Weak, straying defenseless, the sheep want this Mighty One. He must be so strong that none can pluck them out of his hand- so strong as to be able to lay the lost sheep on his shoulder, and to carry the lambs in his bosom. He must be so loving as to lay down his life for them- so great as to give them eternal life. These things are very precious. We must not be robbed of them; if Jesus is not God, what becomes of his power to give eternal life to his sheep? They cannot do without him. Their great Shepherd was brought again from the dead through the blood of the everlasting covenant. Can this be the blood of a mere creature?

Again; we are soldiers. We have a battle to fight- such a battle as cannot be matched with any earthly conflict. The devil is the foe. The battlefield is the heart of man; the issue of it must be the loss or salvation of the soul. Out only hope lies in this, that the Captain of the salvation is FIGHTING THE BATTLE; that he comes forth to make war, conquering and to conquer, putting all enemies under his feet, and securing the victory to his people. Who can he be but one, “King of Kings, and Lord of lords”? Shall we trust our battle to any one less? Can we be defended in any other armor than his- the armor of God?

Death has a sting. The grave has a victory. Who is to take that sting away?- to rescue from that victory? Who is to ABOLISH DEATH, and to bring to light life and immortality, but the Almighty God? Unless this be so, I cannot meet death. I shudder and shrink from the thought of it, did I not believe that my Savior is one who has overcome death, and destroyed him that had the power of death. Deity must be in that Savior to whom I can trust my spirit when life is on the ebb, and the world fading away. In that solemn hour, what would it be to have none but a creature mediator!

When we look round and look forward, how much seems dark and perplexing! The Christian suffers much. Losses and griefs, pain and danger, come upon him. Many a bitter trail meets him, and dark clouds gather, and the way is slippery. But we read that “all things are working together for his good.” No matter how sharp and obscure and bitter they may be, there is a giant hand ruling and guiding and causing all these things- these events so harsh and untoward- these blows so heavy and unaccountable- to work together, to converge to one end, the good and blessing of the children of God. Will you part with this text? No: it has been the consolation of millions. But if you are to take it and lean upon it, you must have a SAVIOUR WHO CAN HOLD ALL THINGS IN HIS HANDS, and shape all the events, and wield all the influences and doings and occurrences of earth, according to his own will. He can do this of whom we know he “upholdeth all things by the word of his power.” He has power over all flesh. All power in heaven and earth is his, and all things are given into his hands.

It is not on his power only, but on his LOVE, that the Christian delights to dwell. What amount of love is to satisfy us? Must it not be a love which shall know no change? Which shall not be affected by our unworthiness? Which shall not be enough to take in even the enemy and the ungodly? There is a love which passeth knowledge. (Eph. iii.19.) There is a love from which no power can separate us. (Rom. viii. 35.) Shall anything less content the soul? Can any other but God so love us? If we are to rejoice in this marvelous love, must we not feel also that it is but a sad and miserable doctrine which gives us a Savior whose love could never rise to such a Divine and unutterable intensity as this?

It is a happy and blessed thing to believe that Jesus KNOWS ALL THINGS, AND FORSEES ALL THINGS, even those which men call contingencies- every danger which is approaching, every enemy who threatens, every trouble which is ahead of me. These things of the future are all dark to me; there may be rocks and breakers at hand, but I cannot see them. But there is One who knows and foreknows all that concerns me, and can provide for all. Every minute circumstance of my history, every step of my march, are known to him long before; and therefore I will not fear. Can I afford to trust my ship to a pilot who knows not the channel? Can I commit my way absolutely to a creature who cannot foreknow the future, and cannot provide for it?

Our joy and hope is, that we shall be put in possession of an inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away- a KINGDOM that cannot be moved. But who is to be the King? Is it the King eternal, immortal, invisible, or an inferior being? To whom is the regal power in heaven and earth to be committed? The kingdom is to be one that cannot be moved; but unless the King be Divine, it has an insecure foundation, and is the object of a shadowy hope.

The Christian is one who knows the comfort, the value, the power of PRAYER. What would be his condition without it? It is the source of his strength, the means of this victory. The weak, trembling human soul can thereby wield a marvelous power. The electric telegraph is one of the greatest triumphs of man’s skill; and wondrous indeed is the fact that he can take the lighting’s power and force it to obey him, and carry his message thousands of miles in a moment of time. Wondrous it is that thoughts and words can be made to travel over hill and valley, and along the bottom of the ocean through deep waters! But what is this in comparison with the power of a believer’s prayer? It traverses in a moment the space between this world and the right hand of God, and reaches the great Intercessor there. But prayer does more than this. It not only reaches God, and but it has power with God. It is a force moving a mighty hand. It has promise, “Ask, and ye shall have.” “Ye shall have your petitions; I will so direct events, and so shape the course of history, and so bend the wills of men, that your prayer shall prevail.” And there are few of the children of God who could not furnish striking proofs of this: the answers to prayer are oft-times so plain, so wonderful, so unexpected, as to fill us with awe as well as gratitude. This is an amazing privilege: can we give it up? If Jesus be not God, prayer is no longer such a power. It may be a homage, a worship; but the mighty prevalence of the effectual fervent prayer is gone: prayer to Him then becomes only prayer to one who cannot answer; for unless He rules and reigns, and worketh all things after the counsel of His own will, how can He promise to do whatsoever we ask?

Again: we want a Savior EVER AT HAND, and not far off. I cannot have one moment’s peace, security, or strength, unless my Lord be nigh. Leave me to myself, out of the reach of his hand, and, like Peter, I must sink into the waters. The millions of the people of God throughout all the world- all count upon this nearness: He must be nigh unto every one, by the side of every one: He must be omnipresent; but neither saint, angel, virgin, nor any other created being, could be ever present with each and all. He who is, must be God.

Go over the promises that are sweetest and most precious, and see how they are shorn of their beauty and power, of this be not so. “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Who was he that could say this? “Fear not, little flock. Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world. I am the Resurrection and the Life. Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Peace I give unto you. Not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” Let the idea enter for a moment that Christ is not God, and what are all these promises worth? Would you part with any of them? What would the Christian do if any one of them were shaken” Take all the promises that you love best, that have whispered comfort and courage to you in the hour of trouble and pain- would you lose them? No. But they all collapse and melt away, if this doctrine be not true. Take away the elements of Deity from “the doctrine of Christ,” and your faith is vain; your hope is gone: the sin-stain is still upon the conscience: death has not been abolished: Satan has not been casted down.

Happy is the man who has learned this truth, and who hold it fast, so as to feed upon it and build upon it. He has a peace that flows as a river, a joy full of immortality, a hope which cheers and sustains him in life’s darkest hour; for he knows that He who loved him, and has redeemed and saved him, is the eternal Word, who was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us: that He was with God, and was God: that He has the keys of hell and of death, and is alive for evermore!

To whom shall we go but to the Son of God, who has the words of eternal life?