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Posted by Dean Paulson

When I first heard about the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed I found my response to be mixed.  I began to ask myself, how I should respond as one who is a follower of Jesus Christ and who believes the Bible is the word of God.

Here are three ways that I believe that I as a Christian should respond.

 First, the Bible is clear that God is a just God.   Psalm 9:16  says that “The LORD is known by his acts of justice; the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.” (NIV 2011) Psalm 11:7 says “For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.” (NIV 2011) It also tells us in Romans 13 that the rulers and authorities are to be the bearers of justice on this side of heaven.  It was determined by them that justice was to either capture or kill bin Laden. I believe we should respect their decision. On a spiritual level because God is a just God either we pay the penalty for our sins or Jesus will.  Justice will be done.

Second, we should support, pray for, and encourage the men and women who serve or have served in the military.  Thank the Lord that they protect us and our freedoms.

Third, Ezekiel 18:23 says, “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” (NIV 1984) This passage causes me to hesitate in taking pleasure in the death of bin Laden.

I am grateful for those who God has ordained to bare justice on this side of heaven and I am grateful for the military personnel that follow their orders.  I am grateful that God is just and does not ignore anyone’s sin but brings about justice.  I do not take pleasure in the fact that another human being has been deceived into choosing and believing that which will eternally condemn them.

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Posted by Dean Paulson

Twice Mary Magdalene and Mary where told to not be afraid.  Why?  Because Jesus had risen from the dead!!

Don’t be afraid, read the good news yourself.

Matthew 28:1-10

 1After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

 8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”   (New International Version, ©2011)

[3] Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. [4] In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. [5] And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?         “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.  [6] For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”   [7] It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? [8] If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. [9] Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? [10] For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. [11] For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.  [12] Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, [13] and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. [14] Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. [15] See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; [16] that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. [17] For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. (Hebrews 12:3-17 ESV)

Esau gets a bad rap in this text.  He is called unholy and lumped in with the sexually immoral.  What is it that caused him to be viewed as such by the author of Hebrews?  He gets hungry and sells his birthright for a bowl of stew (Genesis 25:29-34).  So, the satisfaction of hunger is a sin, the action of an unholy man?

Yes.

The Bible tells us that Esau, as evidenced in the selling of the birthright for a single bowl of stew (must have been some She-Crab soup), despised his birthright (Gen 29:34).  In doing so, Esau is demonstrating that he is both unwise and unholy.  He gave up his God-given birthright, which would mean a double-portion of his father’s inheritance, for a bowl of stew!  Clearly he was unwise in this action.  But he was also unholy.  Why?  Because he satisfied his carnal appetite at the expense of his godly appetite.  The birthright was a gift from God.  It required patient trust.  Had Esau trusted God, he would have eschewed the bowl of stew for the birthright.  However, he wanted instant gratification, so he took the easy way out and satisfied his immediate desire.

What does Esau’s soup gluttony have to do with you?  Why is this example located in the book of Hebrews?  Let’s take the last question first.  This comment by the author of Hebrews concerning Esau comes within a context.  In Hebrews 11, the author presents person after person who demonstrates faith.  Faith, we are told, is the assurance of things hoped for the conviction of things unseen.  Person after person believes God’s promises to them even though they don’t receive it while on earth!  Then in Hebrews 12, the author calls his hearers to that kind of faith.  He calls them to persevere in light of the persecution they are facing, just like the heroes of faith (Hebrews 11) throughout all of history.  Perseverance needs discipline.  Those who persevere are those who are disciplined.  The goal of every parent in discipline is that our children will discipline themselves so that they will succeed in life.  Esau is an example of one who is not disciplined.  He does not persevere.  He does not have saving faith.  He is hungry and he is willing to do whatever it takes to get that bowl of stew.  Even if it means sinning.

And there is the tie-in to our situation.  We live in an Esau world.  Everything we need or want is at our fingertips.  Some of it is good.  Some of it is not.  But even the good can be abused.  We are Esau-like when we choose the instant gratification at the expense of our God-given responsibility.

One area in which our Esau-likeness often manifests itself is in the area of parenting.  Parenting is hard.  We are called to discipline and be disciplined in our parenting.  It takes sacrifice, a lot of sacrifice.  Consider the following ways in which the easier way is Esau-like:

  • God has given us our children.  We are the primary gospel-stewards of these precious gifts.  We are called to gospel our children.  This means making sure that every part of our children’s day is a gospel opportunity.
  • The Esau way is to give this responsibility to others.  This may mean that you expect the church to be the primary source of discipleship in your child’s life.  This may mean that the television disciples (children will follow who or what is the primary source of instruction) your children.  It may mean that others (neighbors, Day Care workers, In-laws, etc.) may be the primary disciplers of your children.  This is often the easier way, but it is not the godly way.  The godly way is teach our own children to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and might (Deut 6:4).
  • The Esau way is to give in to your children rather than to hold to the standards of discipline.  We don’t want our child to throw a fit, so we give in.  We don’t want her to hate us, so we give in.  We don’t want to be embarrassed in the grocery store aisle, so we give in.  This is the easiest way at the time of the tantrum/rebellion/etc.   But it is not the godly way.  The godly way understand that discipline seems painful (at the moment) but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Heb 12:11).
  • There is a place for grace in parenting, but, we cannot use the word grace as a cover-up for permissiveness.  The Esau way is to label permissiveness as grace.  The godly way is to understand that we are not to continue to sin in order that grace may abound (Romans 6:1).
  • The bottom line is that we may be more Esau-like in our parenting than we care to admit.  The hardest job on this earth is that of a parent.  Many of us shirk this responsibility either actively or passively.  What is your bowl of stew?  Is it time in front of the television?  Is it your hobby?  Is is your career?  Is it money?

Godly living in an Esau world is tough.  It takes faith and perseverance.  Faith in God’s promises.  Perseverance and discipline in everyday life.  But it is worth it.  I love Jim Elliot’s famous quote:  He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. Conversely, he is a fool who goes after what he cannot keep and loses what is assured.

Post by Ken Schmidt

Disclaimer:  I am going to brag about my godly and lovely wife.  With joy!

2 Cor 10:5 speaks of taking every thought captive to obey Christ, and Ephesians 5:15-16 challenges us to make the best use of our time.  My wife has an amazing gift of discernment.  So often we think of discernment in terms of making a wise decision or choice.  Kim’s discernment consists of this facet and more.  The discernment that I love in my wife is  the way she is able to examine the details of life and understand and explain the gospel implications.

An example of this discernment applied in everyday life happened last evening.  She attended a coupon seminar.  In the midst of this seminar, the leader told them that it is best to leave your children home when grocery shopping.  Enter Kim’s discernment.  She takes our boys grocery shopping with her.  Because it is easier? NO!  She takes them grocery shopping because it is an opportunity (i.e. a chance to redeem our time with our boys) to teach the boys about self-discipline.  We can’t afford to have every food or treat we want.  We must plan or discipline ourselves (budget, shopping list) to use the resources God has given us. 

It is taking root.  Last week, I asked our 4-year old to make sure that a jar of pickles ended up in the cart.  He said to me in a very serious tone:  “Daddy, pickles are not on mommy’s list.  If it is not on mommy’s list, we don’t get it.”  He is learning self-discipline!  The gospel teaches self-discipline.  The gospel says seek to make every thought captive to obey Christ.  We are seeking to instill in our boys a love for and obedience to the gospel.  Kim’s gift of discernment is helping us as gospeling parents to see and seize every opportunity to gospel our children.

I thank the Lord for giving me a wife who sees and seizes opportunities (and not run from them because it makes it more difficult) to gospel our children.

Posted by Dean Paulson

Consider these natural disasters; Gulf Coast, Indonesia, Haiti, New Zealand, Peru and now Japan.  When these natural disasters occur there usually are two responses from the Christian community and the church. One deals with judgment and the other the second coming of Christ. Unfortunately both presume that we know the mind of God in regard to his judgments and His return.  And usually someone from the Christian community who has access to the media tends to proclaim that they know that this is God’s judgment on a nation or people.  Another response is that the end is near so get ready.  Now it could be those things? The problem is you and I don’t know.

What is a biblical and Christian response to what is happening in Japan?  I think Jesus tells us in Luke 13:1-5Luke 13:1-5

 1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (NIV 2010)

Our response to what has happened in Japan and all natural disasters should be that we repent.  The point is not are they being punished for their sins or is the end near.  Jesus tells us what we should think when we see these things.  We should think that they are no worse sinners than we are so we should repent lest we to perish.

When we see these things happen I would encourage us to not put much energy into reflecting on if this is the end or reflecting on are these people being punished. These are simply distractions that keep us from focusing on what we should do.  We should reflect on our own state and spend time in repentance.  Then after we repent we should get up off our knees and become the hands and feet of Jesus and help those in distress. 

I recommend giving to the Red Cross (redcross.org) or the Samaritans Purse  (samaritanspurse.org).

Let’s put our time and energy into what we do know is the mind of God.  Through our own repentance and open hands to help those in distress, God will turn a natural disaster into something that will glorify his great and holy name.

Posted by Dean Paulson

I could not pass this up.    A portion of a powerful message by John MacArthur titled “Commitments of a Powerful Leader, Part 2”.  Titus 1:1-3.

I am not sure I have ever heard it put quite like this.

You can hear or read the rest at http://www.gty.org/AudioPlayer/Sermons/56-2

The following is quoted from the above titled message;

Go back to John 6, the last text in this little look and then I’ll pull it together. In John 6 verse 37 Jesus says, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me and the one who comes to Me I’ll not…certainly not cast out.” Why? Because anybody who comes to Christ is a gift from God. That’s right…is a gift from God. Verse 39, “This is the will of Him who sent Me that of all that He has given Me, I lose nothing but raise it up on the last day.” The Lord says when they come I won’t turn them down and once they’ve arrived I’ll keep them because the Father is sending them and He wants me to hold on to them.

And verse 40, “This is the will of the Father that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” And verse 44, “No one comes to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him and I’ll raise him up on the last day.”

Here’s the covenant, here’s the eternal covenant. The Father God says to the Lord Christ in eternity past, “I love You, I love You so much I want to give You something and what I want to give You is a redeemed humanity, I want to create a race of people and I want to redeem them and I want to give them to You as a gift and I want to give them to You to love You and adore You and honor You and praise You and worship You forever and ever.” That’s why there is a salvation because God predetermined in eternity past to give a love gift to the Lord and everybody who is saved is a part of that elect and chosen, predestined group of humanity that is going to be the love gift from the Father to the son. That’s why nobody ever gets saved unless the Father draws them because the Father knows who it is He’s giving the Son. That’s why the Son never loses the ones who come because He holds on with tenacity to the precious gift that God the Father has given to Him.

We are that redeemed humanity. And that is precisely the plan of redemption that is revealed in Scripture. Wonder of wonders, the day will come when God the Father will have drawn all of the predestined and elect humanity, they will have come to faith, they will embrace Christ, Christ will hold on to them and all of them together will arrive in glory. And they will be the love gift from the Father to the Son. And they will spend all eternity praising and honoring and serving and glorifying. And you know what is especially wonderful and remarkable? According to 1 Corinthians 15:28 it says the Son takes them all and gives them back to the Father so that God may be all and in all.

Posted by Dean Paulson

Take a listen or read John Pipers excellent sermon from 1994, “As We Forgive Our Debtors.”

http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/as-we-forgive-our-debtors#/listen/full

 Merry Christmas

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