2 Chronicles 19:1 Then Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned safely to his house in Jerusalem. 2 And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him,
1 Samuel 9:9 Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he spoke thus:
“Come, let us go to the seer”; for he who is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer.)
1 Kings 16:1-2 Then the word of the Lord came to Jehu the son of Hanani, against
Baasha, saying: “Inasmuch as I lifted you out of the dust and made you ruler over My
people Israel, and you have walked in the way of Jeroboam, and have made My people
Israel sin, to provoke Me to anger with their sins,
2 Chronicles 20:34 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first and last, indeed they are
written in the book of Jehu the son of Hanani, which is mentioned in the book of the kings
and said to King Jehoshaphat, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Therefore the wrath of the Lord is upon you. 3 Nevertheless good things are found in you, in that you have removed the wooden images from the land, and have prepared your heart to seek God.”
The Reforms of Jehoshaphat4 So Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jerusalem; and he went out again among the people from Beersheba to the mountains of Ephraim, and brought them back to the Lord God of their fathers. 5 Then he set judges in the land throughout all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city, 6 and said to the judges, “Take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment. 7 Now therefore, let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes.”
8 Moreover in Jerusalem, for the judgment of the Lord and for controversies, Jehoshaphat appointed some of the Levites and priests, and some of the chief fathers of Israel, when they returned to Jerusalem. 9 And he commanded them, saying, “Thus you shall act in the fear of the Lord, faithfully and with a loyal heart: 10 Whatever case comes to you from your brethren who dwell in their cities, whether of bloodshed or offenses against law or commandment, against statutes or ordinances, you shall warn them, lest they trespass against the Lord and wrath come upon you and your brethren. Do this, and you will not be guilty. 11 And take notice: Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the Lord; and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, for all the king’s matters; also the Levites will be officials before you. Behave courageously, and the Lord will be with the good.”
Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir Defeated2 Chronicles 20:1 It happened after this that the people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat. 2 Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, from Syria; and they are in Hazazon Tamar” (which is En Gedi). 3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.
5 Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, 6 and said: “O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You? 7 Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever? 8 And they dwell in it, and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name, saying, 9 ‘If disaster comes upon us—sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine—we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.’ 10 And now, here are the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir—whom You would not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them and did not destroy them— 11 here they are, rewarding us by coming to throw us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit. 12 O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”
13 Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the Lord.
14 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. 15 And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”
18 And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. 19 Then the Levites of the children of the Kohathites and of the children of the Korahites stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high.
20 So they rose early in the Morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.” 21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying:
“Praise the Lord,
For His mercy endures forever.”
24 So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.
25 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away their spoil, they found among them an abundance of valuables on the dead bodies, and precious jewelry, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away; and they were three days gathering the spoil because there was so much. 26 And on the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berachah, for there they blessed the Lord; therefore the name of that place was called The Valley of Berachah until this day. 27 Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, with Jehoshaphat in front of them, to go back to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies. 28 So they came to Jerusalem, with stringed instruments and harps and trumpets, to the house of the Lord. 29 And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30 Then the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.
The End of Jehoshaphat’s Reign31 So Jehoshaphat was king over Judah. He was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. 32 And he walked in the way of his father Asa, and did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the Lord. 33 Nevertheless the high places were not taken away, for as yet the people had not directed their hearts to the God of their fathers.
34 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first and last, indeed they are written in the book of Jehu the son of Hanani, which is mentioned in the book of the kings of Israel.
35 After this Jehoshaphat king of Judah allied himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who acted very wickedly. 36 And he allied himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish, and they made the ships in Ezion Geber. 37 But Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, “Because you have allied yourself with Ahaziah, the Lord has destroyed your works.” Then the ships were wrecked, so that they were not able to go to Tarshish.
Jehoram Reigns in Judah2 Chronicles 21:1 And Jehoshaphat rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David. Then Jehoram his son reigned in his place. 2 He had brothers, the sons of Jehoshaphat: Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Azaryahu, Michael, and Shephatiah; all these were the sons of Jehoshaphat king of Israel. 3 Their father gave them great gifts of silver and gold and precious things, with fortified cities in Judah; but he gave the kingdom to Jehoram, because he was the firstborn.
4 Now when Jehoram was established over the kingdom of his father, he strengthened himself
and killed all his brothers with the sword, and also others of the princes of Israel.
5 Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. 6 And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab had done, for he had the daughter of Ahab as a wife; and he did evil in the sight of the Lord. 7 Yet the Lord would not destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that He had made with David, and since He had promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever.
8 In his days Edom revolted against Judah’s authority, and made a king over themselves. 9 So Jehoram went out with his officers, and all his chariots with him. And he rose by night and attacked the Edomites who had surrounded him and the captains of the chariots. 10 Thus Edom has been in revolt against Judah’s authority to this day. At that time Libnah revolted against his rule, because he had forsaken the Lord God of his fathers. 11 Moreover he made high places in the mountains of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit harlotry, and led Judah astray.
12 And a letter came to him from Elijah the prophet, saying,
Thus says the Lord God of your father David:
Because you have not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat your father, or in the ways of Asa king of Judah, 13 but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and have made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to play the harlot like the harlotry of the house of Ahab, and also have killed your brothers, those of your father’s household, who were better than yourself, 14 behold, the Lord will strike your people with a serious affliction—your children, your wives, and all your possessions; 15 and you will become very sick with a disease of your intestines, until your intestines come out by reason of the sickness, day by day.
16 Moreover the Lord stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines and the Arabians who were near the Ethiopians. 17 And they came up into Judah and invaded it, and carried away all the possessions that were found in the king’s house, and also his sons and his wives, so that there was not a son left to him except Jehoahaz, the youngest of his sons.
18 After all this the Lord struck him in his intestines with an incurable disease. 19 Then it happened in the course of time, after the end of two years, that his intestines came out because of his sickness; so he died in severe pain. And his people made no burning for him, like the burning for his fathers.
20 He was thirty-two years old when he became king. He reigned in Jerusalem eight years and, to no one’s sorrow, departed. However they buried him in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.
Ahaziah Reigns in Judah2 Chronicles 22:1 Then the inhabitants of Jerusalem made Ahaziah his youngest son king in his place, for the raiders who came with the Arabians into the camp had killed all the older sons. So Ahaziah the son of Jehoram, king of Judah, reigned. 2 Ahaziah was forty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Athaliah the granddaughter of Omri. 3 He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother advised him to do wickedly. 4 Therefore he did evil in the sight of the Lord, like the house of Ahab; for they were his counselors after the death of his father, to his destruction. 5 He also followed their advice, and went with Jehoram the son of Ahab king of Israel to war against Hazael king of Syria at Ramoth Gilead; and the Syrians wounded Joram. 6 Then he returned to Jezreel to recover from the wounds which he had received at Ramah, when he fought against Hazael king of Syria. And Azariah the son of Jehoram, king of Judah, went down to see Jehoram the son of Ahab in Jezreel, because he was sick.
7 His going to Joram was God’s occasion for Ahaziah’s downfall; for when he arrived, he went out with Jehoram against Jehu the son of Nimshi, whom the Lord had anointed to cut off the house of Ahab. 8 And it happened, when Jehu was executing judgment on the house of Ahab, and found the princes of Judah and the sons of Ahaziah’s brothers who served Ahaziah, that he killed them. 9 Then he searched for Ahaziah; and they caught him (he was hiding in Samaria), and brought him to Jehu. When they had killed him, they buried him, “because,” they said, “he is the son of Jehoshaphat, who sought the Lord with all his heart.”
So the house of Ahaziah had no one to assume power over the kingdom.
Athaliah Reigns in Judah10 Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal heirs of the house of Judah. 11 But Jehoshabeath, the daughter of the king, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him away from among the king’s sons who were being murdered, and put him and his nurse in a bedroom. So Jehoshabeath, the daughter of King Jehoram, the wife of Jehoiada the priest (for she was the sister of Ahaziah), hid him from Athaliah so that she did not kill him. 12 And he was hidden with them in the house of God for six years, while Athaliah reigned over the land.
Joash Crowned King of Judah2 Chronicles 23:1 In the seventh year Jehoiada strengthened himself, and made a covenant with the captains of hundreds: Azariah the son of Jeroham, Ishmael the son of Jehohanan, Azariah the son of Obed, Maaseiah the son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat the son of Zichri. 2 And they went throughout Judah and gathered the Levites from all the cities of Judah, and the chief fathers of Israel, and they came to Jerusalem.
3 Then all the assembly made a covenant with the king in the house of God. And he said to them, “Behold, the king’s son shall reign, as the Lord has said of the sons of David. 4 This is what you shall do: One-third of you entering on the Sabbath, of the priests and the Levites, shall be keeping watch over the doors; 5 one-third shall be at the king’s house; and one-third at the Gate of the Foundation. All the people shall be in the courts of the house of the Lord. 6 But let no one come into the house of the Lord except the priests and those of the Levites who serve. They may go in, for they are holy; but all the people shall keep the watch of the Lord. 7 And the Levites shall surround the king on all sides, every man with his weapons in his hand; and whoever comes into the house, let him be put to death. You are to be with the king when he comes in and when he goes out.”
8 So the Levites and all Judah did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded. And each man took his men who were to be on duty on the Sabbath, with those who were going off duty on the Sabbath; for Jehoiada the priest had not dismissed the divisions. 9 And Jehoiada the priest gave to the captains of hundreds the spears and the large and small shields which had belonged to King David, that were in the temple of God. 10 Then he set all the people, every man with his weapon in his hand, from the right side of the temple to the left side of the temple, along by the altar and by the temple, all around the king. 11 And they brought out the king’s son, put the crown on him, gave him the Testimony, and made him king. Then Jehoiada and his sons anointed him, and said, “Long live the king!”
Death of Athaliah12 Now when Athaliah heard the noise of the people running and praising the king, she came to the people in the temple of the Lord. 13 When she looked, there was the king standing by his pillar at the entrance; and the leaders and the trumpeters were by the king. All the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets, also the singers with musical instruments, and those who led in praise. So Athaliah tore her clothes and said, “Treason! Treason!”
14 And Jehoiada the priest brought out the captains of hundreds who were set over the army, and said to them, “Take her outside under guard, and slay with the sword whoever follows her.” For the priest had said, “Do not kill her in the house of the Lord.”
15 So they seized her; and she went by way of the entrance of the Horse Gate into the king’s house, and they killed her there.
16 Then Jehoiada made a covenant between himself, the people, and the king, that they should be the Lord’s people. 17 And all the people went to the temple of Baal, and tore it down. They broke in pieces its altars and images, and killed Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. 18 Also Jehoiada appointed the oversight of the house of the Lord to the hand of the priests, the Levites, whom David had assigned in the house of the Lord, to offer the burnt offerings of the Lord, as it is written in the Law of Moses, with rejoicing and with singing, as it was established by David. 19 And he set the gatekeepers at the gates of the house of the Lord, so that no one who was in any way unclean should enter.
20 Then he took the captains of hundreds, the nobles, the governors of the people, and all the people of the land, and brought the king down from the house of the Lord; and they went through the Upper Gate to the king’s house, and set the king on the throne of the kingdom. 21 So all the people of the land rejoiced; and the city was quiet, for they had slain Athaliah with the sword.
The Holy Bible: containing the Old and New Testaments with the Apocryphal / Deuterocanonical Books [New Revised Standard Version]
What I'm Reading
You Need to Be a Leader if You Hope to Lead People to Truth
By J. Warner Wallace 8/25/2017
Of all the topics I read about on Christian Case Making (apologetics) blogs, I seldom find anyone writing about leadership. But this aspect of theChristian life, while it is often overlooked, is critical to our success as Case Makers. When we think about what’s required to be a good Christian Case Maker, we need to remember that leadership is key; we’ll never lead anyone to the truth unless we learn how to become good leaders, and leaders, by definition, have followers. It’s really as simple as that. You may not consider yourself much of a leader, but I bet someone is looking to you for answers in some aspect of your life. Are you a mom or a dad? You’re leading your kids. Are you the senior employee at your job? You’re leading the junior members. Are you the person people rely on for an answer in your group? You’re leading those who are less informed. If you’re living in community with others, you are inevitably leading (and being led). If you hope to make a case for Christianity, you need to identify those you lead and become a good leader:
Followers Respect Their Leaders | While it’s true that excellence often elevates people to positions of leadership, excellence alone is not enough. I’ve worked for many excellent detectives who were terrible leaders once they were promoted. Leadership takes more than excellence; in fact, excellence is the baseline to which all of us should aspire (leaders and followers alike). Respect, however, requires much more. Have you been demonstrating Christian character to those who look to you for answers? Leaders go first; do the people in your world see you as a servant? Are your conversations about Christian evidence seen as an effort to demonstrate your knowledge or an effort to serve them? Are your conversations focused on what you know, or are they focused on the people you hope to influence? Followers respect leaders who are selfless rather than selfish; they can “sniff out” people who are more concerned about status than service.
Followers Trust Their Leaders | If there’s one thing law enforcement will teach you about leadership, it’s that trust is key in difficult situations, and trust requires time. When push comes to shove, I want to align myself with leaders who have proven themselves over the long haul. I’ve seen them do it before and I trust they can do it again. As a Christian Case Maker, I sometimes find myself thinking that the only people I am called to reach are folks who come to a talk or conference session. Meanwhile, there are lots of people in my life who have an extended relationship with me. They know me beyond the sixty minute presentation. They already trust me, because they’ve known me for years. These are the folks that I am most able to reach, yet I seldom think of them as an audience to whom I am called. I bet you’re in a similar situation. There are people who already trust you; these are the folks you can reach with the truth.
Followers Listen to Their Leaders | I’ve had the privilege of working with leaders who commanded the attention of their followers. They didn’t have to try hard; we simply quieted down when they began to speak. We respected them. We trusted them. We listened to them. But no one’s going to listen to leaders who don’t make an effort to say something! Are there people in your life who are waiting for you to talk to them about Jesus? While I typically have no problem making a case for Christianity to strangers, it’s often far more difficult to make the case to my father or to friends whom I’m afraid of alienating. Yet these are the people with whom I have the deepest relationship. These are the folks who respect and trust me. I already have their attention, why am I afraid to speak?
If you’re like me, you may have underestimated the power of leadership. Make an assessment of your situation today so you can become a good leader. Do the people in your life think you’re more concerned about the argument than their well-being? Do they think you’re more concerned about building a blog audience or a ministry than you are about sharing the truth? Have you taken the time to develop the depth of relationship necessary to have a real impact? Do people trust you? And finally, are you bold enough to speak up and share the truth with people you sometimes take for granted? You’re already a leader in some aspect of your life; take the time now to lead someone to the truth.
J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:
Death of objective truth on campus is destroying higher education, university president says
By Lauren Fox 8/14/2017
Higher education suffers when academics abandon objective truth for relativism, giving out degrees in opinions rather than knowledge, a university president says.
“When we as a community rejected truth … when we decided that there is no objective truth any longer and that everything is truth with a lowercase ‘t’ — nothing but a construct, nothing but a collection of cultural constructs where people agree together — then it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as it works for you–which is of course nonsense,” said Dr. Everett Piper, Oklahoma Wesleyan University president, in an interview with The College Fix.
John Piper, author of the newly released book Not a Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth, said the self-absorption of the current college generation is leading universities and students to glorify opinions, not truth.
“Opinions lead to bondage,” he told The Fix. “Truth sets you free.”
Piper (pictured) made national headlines in 2015 when he defiantly told students in a campus message that “This is not a daycare. It’s a university!” He was prompted to write the missive after a student responded to a chapel service that he felt victimized and uncomfortable.
How to Fight for Faith in the Dark Three Lessons for Depression
By Stephen Altrogge 4/19/2017
I’ve often said that depression is like wearing tinted glasses. Everywhere you look, things look dark. Bleak. Black. Hopeless. Helpless. The waiting room for depression says, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”
Depression is both a physical and spiritual affliction. Neurons and synapses fail to fire properly, leading to chemical imbalances in the brain. These imbalances cause the depressed person to feel awful, like their entire world is a raw catastrophe hovering over the depths of despair. When everything is a catastrophe, it’s easy for faith to falter and stumble.
Normally, the prescription for faith is somewhat straightforward. We read the promises of God, let them diffuse throughout our hearts, and then embrace them fully. As we embrace these promises, our faith rises. When we have more faith, there is often a physical feeling of encouragement and hope.
But with clinical depression (and most other forms of mental illness), things don’t work quite that way. Depression usually causes a person to feel only gloom and despair, no matter what they’re thinking. Filling your mind with God’s promises is necessary, but it doesn’t usually alter the way you feel. It’s like having a migraine. Believing God’s word is essential, but it won’t take away the migraine (usually).
From Gloom Toward Gladness | When all you feel is gloom, it becomes very hard to have hope, no matter what you read in Scripture. As someone who labored under a lot of depression and anxiety throughout my life, I know that it usually doesn’t help a depressed person to say, “Just believe God’s word more!”
- 1 Create: Stop Making Excuses and Start Making Stuff
- 2 Untamable God: Encountering the One Who Is Bigger, Better, and More Dangerous Than You Could Possibly Imagine
- 3 The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence
- 4 Game Day for the Glory of God: A Guide for Athletes, Fans, and Wannabes
- 5 Twists and Turns: Short Stories About Strange Situations
- 6 The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Thoughts On Following Jesus, Amish Romance, the Daniel Plan, the Tebow Effect, and the Odds of Finding Your Soul Mate
- 7 The Last Superhero
- 8 The Chip
Theology Learned in the Flames of Adversity
By Steven Lawson 8/11/2017
In 1527, Martin Luther experienced a trial so severe that church historian Philip Schaff described that year simply as “the disastrous year.” It was the time of Luther’s “severest spiritual and physical trials.” As the leading figure of the Reformation, Luther paid a high price in the struggle for truth, and his physical condition deteriorated under the movement’s mounting demands. On April 22, 1527, Luther was so overcome by dizziness in the pulpit that he stopped preaching and was forced to retire. Other physical problems followed for the Reformer, including severe heart problems, digestive ailments, and fainting spells. He also began to wear down emotionally, suffering bouts of discouragement and depression.
On July 6, another attack struck Luther. He was entertaining friends for dinner when he felt an intense buzzing in his left ear. He had to be carried to bed, where he frantically called for water or else, he believed, he would die. Luther became so chilled that he was convinced he had seen his last night. In a desperate prayer, he surrendered himself to the will of God and prepared to meet his Maker. Though Luther remained seriously ill for days, he eventually regained his strength.
In August, the Black Plague rapidly spread among the people in Wittenberg. Many died, and others fled for their lives. The University of Wittenberg moved to Jena, Germany. Frederick urged Luther to escape to spare his own life. Adding to the danger, Katie was pregnant and they had a one-year-old child, Hans. Luther, however, considered it his moral duty to remain and minister to the sick.
Weighty trials rested heavily upon Luther’s shoulders. Death surrounded him on every side. He watched people die in his house and in the streets. He chose to transform his spacious house into a hospital to care for those suffering from the plague. Hans became desperately ill, and Luther became so heavily burdened that he could not eat for eleven days. He was deeply concerned for Katie’s safety and grew weak with despair.
In a letter to his trusted friend and coworker Philip Melanchthon, Luther acknowledged his increasing bouts of depression:
- 1 The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther (A Long Line of Godly Men Profile)
- 2 The Kind of Preaching God Blesses
- 3 The Daring Mission of William Tyndale (A Long Line of Godly Men Profile)
- 4 The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon (A Long Line of Godly Men Profile)
- 5 The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards (A Long Line of Godly Men Profile)
- 6 Holman Old Testament Commentary - Psalms 76-150
- 7 The Evangelistic Zeal of George Whitefield (A Long Line of Godly Men Profile)
- 8 Holman Old Testament Commentary - Psalms
- 9 Famine in the Land
- 10 The Expository Genius of John Calvin (A Long Line of Godly Men Profile)
- 11 The Passionate Preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones (A Long Line of Godly Men Profile)
- 12 Pillars of Grace
- 13 Made in Our Image: The Fallacy of the User-Friendly God
- 14 Foundations of Grace
- 15 The Attributes of God Study Guide
- 16 Pillars of Grace (A Long Line of Godly Men, Volume Two)
- 17 When All Hell Breaks Loose: You May Be Doing Something Right : Surprising Insights from the Life of Job
- 18 The Legacy: Ten Core Values Every Father Must Leave His Child
- 19 In It to Win It: Pursuing Victory in the One Race that Really Counts
- 20 As Firmes Resoluções de Jonathan Edwards (Portuguese Edition)
- 21 Faith Under Fire: Standing Strong When Satan Attacks
- 22 Absolutely Sure: Settle the Question of Eternal Life
- 23 Men Who Win: Pursuing the Ultimate Prize
- 24 Final Call
- 25 Heaven Help Us!: Truths About Eternity That Will Help You Live Today Insights from the Book of Rev Elation (Christian living)
Fellowship With The Unorthodox? Some Thoughts On A Recent Controversy
By Wesley Hill 8/8/2017
In recent days, there’s been a discussion of the boundaries of orthodoxy in some corners of the evangelical blogosphere. James K.A. Smith, the prolific writer and professor of philosophy at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, kicked off the discussion. Since his opening salvo, there have been a number of responses — by Alastair Roberts, Derek Rishmawy, Alan Jacobs, and others. Here’s the gist of Smith’s argument:
"Now, no one for a second can deny that [male-and-female, ordered-to-procreation] views of sexual morality and marriage have been the historic teaching of the church. … But it is surely also worth pointing out that conciliar standards of orthodoxy do not articulate such standards. If the adjective “orthodox” is untethered from such ecumenical standards, it quickly becomes a cheap epithet we idiosyncratically attach to views and positions in order to write off those we disagree with as “heretics” and unbelievers. If “orthodox” becomes an adjective that is unhooked from these conciliar canons, then it becomes a word we use to make sacrosanct the things that matter to “us” in order to exclude “them.” And then you can start folding all kinds of things into “orthodoxy” like mode of baptism or pre-tribulation rapture or opposition to the ordination of women—which then entails writing off swaths of Christians who affirm conciliar orthodoxy."
"So perhaps we should be more careful with how we use the adjective orthodox. It can’t be a word we flippantly use to describe what is important to us. The word is reserved to define and delineate those affirmations that are at the very heart of Christian faith—and God knows they are scandalous enough in a secular age."
Smith’s concern is that speaking of traditional Christian sexual ethics as orthodox (as opposed to calling them biblical or traditional) is not only a category confusion but a potentially dangerous one: If we decouple orthodoxy from its conciliar definition, who knows what content might arise to fill it out? Meanwhile Smith’s critics have replied that if we don’t see the traditional scriptural sexual ethic as entailed by the ecumenical creeds, then we’re in danger of downplaying the seriousness of its rejection in vast swaths of the modern church.
Without entering fully into the fray, I want simply to offer a kind of exegetical footnote to the debate, as well as a question for those — including most of us who blog here at Covenant — who choose to remain in a Christian communion in which there exists profound disagreement over the matter of what constitutes sexual morality (i.e., in particular provinces of the Anglican Communion: the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Church in Wales, and others).
I discovered a love for Scripture and theology while an undergraduate at Wheaton College where I majored in Ancient Languages. From there, I began a long and winding journey into the Anglican fold and was confirmed in the Church of England while in graduate school at Durham University. My teaching and research interests are shaped by the conviction that the study of Scripture and attention to the church’s creedal and doctrinal traditions belong together in the theological task. I try to help my students understand how attention to Scripture formed the church’s creedal heritage and, likewise, how that heritage can now help us to read Scripture afresh as the word of the Triune God for us today.
Wesley Hill Books:
Paul and the Trinity: Persons, Relations, and the Pauline Letters
Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian
Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality
The Conciliar Nature of the Orthodox Church: Definition and Implications
By Eden Grace 2004
It is an unmistakable fact of the 20th century that the Christian church has rediscovered an interest in itself. Ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church, has flourished in the last 50 years or more. Stimulated by such things as the modern ecumenical movement, the Second Vatican Council, and the Pan-Orthodox Pre-Conciliar process, theologians, church leaders and ordinary Christians have brought renewed attention to the questions of “what is the church?” “How is meant to function in its earthly form?” “What are its instruments of authority?”
Eastern Orthodoxy has experienced a particularly poignant ecclesial renewal. After centuries during which Orthodox theology existed in what has been called a “Western captivity” — an exile of sorts, in which most theological activity took place in western Europe, subsumed by the Roman Catholic/Protestant polemic, while most autocephalous churches lived in isolation from each other, in uncongenial political contexts — Orthodox churches are now reasserting the living tradition of authentic Orthodox ecclesiology. Socio-political change, diaspora experience, development of missiology, and the ecumenical conversation have all stimulated new ecclesial self-understanding.
In attempting to express its authentic identity, the Orthodox church has rediscovered that it is “neither papal nor protestant.”1 Orthodoxy resists the vertical authority structure of the Roman Catholic church; “as a third way beyond the antithesis that had been set up during the Reformation era, Eastern Orthodox ecclesiology seemed to present a view of the church that hallowed its traditions as even Roman Catholicism did not and that nevertheless did not identify those traditions with an authoritarian and juridical institution.”2 Likewise, Orthodoxy resists the horizontal, individualistic pietism of the Protestant church. The Orthodox church is neither overly horizontal nor overly vertical in focus; rather, it is conciliar.
Under any circumstance, Orthodoxy has “an intense ecclesial consciousness.”3 The Church is a subject of doctrinal, and not simply political, consideration. The renewed interest in the conciliar nature of the church has highlighted the distinctive approach and importance of ecclesiology for Orthodoxy. The Church, as an article of faith, is neither a mystical body nor an historical institution. Rather, it is an incarnational reality, an embodiment of the triune God, set in order by the Holy Spirit.
The Church is constitutive of Christian faith precisely because of its trinitarian, relational nature. Human life in the image of God is life in relationship: relationship with the world, other people, and God. Human spiritual fulfillment is not a moral attainment or accomplishment, it is a way of being in relationship. The Church is the place where such relational fulfillment is (or should be) most realized. Indeed, a solitary Christian is a contradiction in terms. To be a Christian is to be part of a Christian community. Therefore, the qualities of the community are anything by incidental. The way of being as Church is the way of being as Christian.
Eden and her family are currently serving as Field Staff with Friends United Meeting, ministering among East African Quakers. They live in Kisumu Kenya, and are working with Kenyan colleagues to establish an Africa Ministries Office of Friends United Meeting, which will implement the programs and priorities of Friends United Meeting within the African Quaker constituency.
Eden seeks to promote Christian faithfulness among Quakers, and to work toward Christian unity and reconciliation for the sake of Christ’s mission in the world. As part of this ministry, Eden writes and speaks to both Quaker and ecumenical groups. In sharing her work on this website, she hopes to encourage others in their ministry. If you have thoughts or comments, please write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Eden would especially like to make contact with other Quaker ecumenists.
Reconciling the Irreconcilable
By Daniel Martins 3/1/2015
For as long as I have been an Anglican Christian and a member of the Episcopal Church, which exceeds four decades now, my ecclesial environment has never been free of dramatic conflict. The first General Convention that I paid attention to in real time (1976) dealt with the twin quagmires of Prayer Book revision and women's ordination. Every three years thereafter, the rhetorical decibel level has spiked.
In 2003, however, the baseline level of underlying conflict escalated not just incrementally, but exponentially. There has, since then, been a "new normal" in the way we engage one another over areas about which we are in fundamental disagreement. A relative trickle of Episcopalians departed in the 1970s over issues of liturgy and sacraments, forming what became a dizzying array of "alphabet soup" ecclesial entities. (Of course, there had been a notable schism a century before that over sacramental theology, resulting in the formation of the Reformed Episcopal Church.) But these ruptures were mere blips, wrinkles, compared with with the departures that ensued in the wake of 2003. Solid (indeed, in all but one case, overwhelming) majorities in the conventions of five dioceses voted to separate themselves from the General Convention. Tens of thousands of Episcopalians and former Episcopalians have either engaged in protracted litigation, or walked away from buildings and financial assets, or both. A new generation of ecclesial acronyms has appeared, and multiplied, and been culled. Out of that soup, the Anglican Church in North America has emerged as an entity that appears to have some staying power, having made what looks like a successful transition from the first to the second generation of top leadership.
Of course, in our shrinking world, turmoil in North America creates waves for Anglicans in other regions. In recent decades, while TEC has been growing precipitously smaller, Anglican Christianity has been growing markedly larger, both numerically and in vitality, in Africa and Asia, in provinces that have become known as the Global South. These provinces, many of which are on a frontier with militant Islam, tend to be much more conservative on issues of sexual morality and marriage than their developed world counterparts. Most of them find the notion of condoning, via blessing, same-sex partnerships (let alone "marriage") to be unimaginable, a violation of core precepts of the Christian faith as revealed by God. Many (most?) within the Global South have made various alliances with Episcopalians and former Episcopalians in the U.S. who share their assessment of how the dominant thinking has evolved in TEC around sexuality and marriage.
The question that arises, then, is, Are these extramural Anglican entities in North America actually ... Anglican? And that, in turn, raises the question, What defines "Anglican"? The classic answer to the latter question, which would have been widely agreed to before the post-2003 fissiparation, is that "Anglican" denotes full sacramental communion with and recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury. By that standard, ACNA, despite the first 'A' in its acronym, is not Anglican, because Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is on record that he does not consider them a province of the Anglican Communion. On the other hand, the Diocese of South Carolina, which separated from the Episcopal Church late in 2012, and is not part of ACNA, has been given a foster home by the Global South under the provisions of an agreement developed by the primates of the whole Anglican Communion (reportedly including TEC's Presiding Bishop) in Dromantine, Ireland in 2005 and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 2007. This is arguably an official mechanism, endorsed by two of the four of the Anglican Communion's Instruments of Unity, and, I have it on good authority, is precisely why South Carolina chose to go that route rather than join ACNA.
Yet, there is another coalition within the Global South that muddies the waters. This is the Global Anglican Futures Conference, known widely by the acronym GAFCON. GAFCON does fully recognize ACNA as part of the Anglican fellowship, and for the most part withholds such recognition from the Episcopal Church, and while its leaders profess reverence for the historic role that the See of Canterbury has played as a sign of Anglican unity, they have at times seemed to proffer a narrative that Anglicanism could, in concept and if necessary, legitimately exist apart from a relationship with that ancient See. I think it can be safely said that the provinces and dioceses represented by GAFCON comprise a solid majority of those around the world who can currently claim to be Anglican even by the classical standard. So ... it's complicated, with lots of eddies and tide pools and countervaiing forces.
Daniel Hayden Martins, aka Dan (to my friends), Danny Boy (to some of my Brazilian relatives), Big Guy (to my kids and their friends), Bishop Daniel among those with whom I work, and probably some other aliases I'm not aware of. I'm an Anglican bishop, a Baby Boomer who was born in Brazil, raised in the Chicago suburbs (at the end of a runway at O'Hare), and has lived in both central and southern California, western Oregon, southeast Wisconsin, and south Louisiana. Married 43 years to Brenda, father of three fabulous grown children, and now serving the Diocese of Springfield (Episcopal Church).
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
by Bill Federer
He was once one of America’s greatest generals. During the Revolution, he captured Fort Ticonderoga with Ethan Allen, and defeated the British at Saratoga. But it was on this date, August 30, 1780, that General Benedict Arnold conspired with General Clinton of Britain to surrender West Point for twenty thousand pounds. When discovered, George Washington wrote: “Treason of the blackest dye… General Arnold… was about to… give the American cause a deadly wound if not fatal stab…. Its [discovery] affords the most convincing proof that the Liberties of America are the object of divine Protection.”
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Do not have your concert first,
and then tune your instrument afterwards.
Begin the day with the Word of God and prayer,
and get first of all into harmony with Him.
--- Hudson Taylor
This modern emphasis only on personal salvation makes us lose sight of the grandeur and glory of God’s church. I am not minimizing our personal experience with Christ, but I am affirming that it is not the primary goal that God has in mind. He is building His church. He is building up the Body of Christ. The glory and greatness of our personal salvation is but a reflection of what God is doing corporately in and through His church.
--- Warren Wiersbe Prayer Basic Training
Order my footsteps by Thy Word,
And make my heart sincere;
Let sin have no dominion, Lord,
But keep my conscience clear.
... from here, there and everywhere
In case you are wondering, this is not a post in which I am going to bash the church. Far from it. I love the church. But I am going to point out a “weakness” that we urgently need to address (see Proverbs 27:6).
How can I claim that Christians are so insecure? For the past decade, I have been role-playing an atheist at camps, conferences, churches, and other Christian events. I have done this in youth groups of ten students and in stadiums up to six thousand people. And I have done my role-play with parents, youth pastors, businessmen, and a variety of other groups from a myriad of denominations. During the presentation, I put on my “atheist glasses,” do my best to make the case for atheism, and then have two volunteers take microphones out into the audience so people can raise questions and challenges. People typically ask questions about morality, the origin of the universe, and evolution. And I simply respond back with the answers many of my atheist friends have given me.
Inevitably, people tend to get defensive, agitated, and quite upset. In fact, after the role-play is over, I often ask the audience to use individual words to describe how they treated me and “hostile” is one of the most common responses. Sure, there are undoubtedly people who are gracious and kind. But, in my experience it’s the exception to encounter a Christian who can engage the “atheist” both thoughtfully and graciously. Even though people know I am merely role-playing, I have had people call me names, yell at me across the room, walk out, and even threaten me—seriously!
This experience has caused me to ask the following question for some time: why do we Christians get so defensive? There can certainly be a variety of issues, but as I write in A New Kind of Apologist, there is one pressing reason we often overlook: Most Christians do not know what they believe and why. As a result, when I push back on their beliefs as an “atheist,” many get defensive.
It is human nature to get defensive when someone challenges us and we’re ill equipped to respond. If we really haven’t thought through how we know the Bible is true, why God allows evil and suffering, and how to reconcile science and faith, then when someone presses us to explain our beliefs, we have two options: admit we don’t know the answer, which takes humility, or get defensive. In reality, many Christians get defensive because they simply don’t have thoughtful answers to these big questions.
I don’t write this blog from a position of higher ground. I have fallen short many times in my interactions with non-Christians. Trust me, this post comes from my own frequent shortcomings. But I have seen firsthand the confidence training in apologetics brings to the church as a whole and students in particular.
Training in apologetics is especially important today because we find ourselves, as a church, increasingly at odds with the wider culture. If you believe the Bible is true, especially on issues related to sexuality, then you may find yourself getting tagged as hateful, intolerant, bigoted, and homophobic. We simply cannot respond with defensiveness. Rather, we must respond truthfully, but with kindness and charity. As the Apostle Paul wrote:
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person (Colossians 4:5-6).
Sure, some people learn apologetics and become haughty. There’s no question about that! But the problem is not with apologetics per se, but that it is often not coupled with grace. Here’s the bottom line: we Christians often get defensive because we don’t really know why we believe what we believe. If we want to be confident ambassadors of the faith, who can interact with both kindness and substance, we must get training in apologetics.
Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 18 books, an internationally recognized speaker, and a part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.
Thanks to Meir Yona
The Surrender Of Gischala; While John Flies Away From It To Jerusalem.
1. Now no place of Galilee remained to be taken but the small city of Gischala, whose multitude yet were desirous of peace; for they were generally husbandmen, and always applied themselves to cultivate the fruits of the earth. However, there were a great number that belonged to a band of robbers, that were already corrupted, and had crept in among them, and some of the governing part of the citizens were sick of the same distemper. It was John, the son of a certain man whose name was Levi, that drew them into this rebellion, and encouraged them in it. He was a cunning knave, and of a temper that could put on various shapes; very rash in expecting great things, and very sagacious in bringing about what he hoped for. It was known to every body that he was fond of war, in order to thrust himself into authority; and the seditious part of the people of Gischala were under his management, by whose means the populace, who seemed ready to send ambassadors in order to surrender, waited for the coming of the Romans in battle-array. Vespasian sent against them Titus, with a thousand horsemen, but withdrew the tenth legion to Scythopolis, while he returned to Cesarea with the two other legions, that he might allow them to refresh themselves after their long and hard campaign, thinking withal that the plenty which was in those cities would improve their bodies and their spirits, against the difficulties they were to go through afterwards; for he saw there would be occasion for great pains about Jerusalem, which was not yet taken, because it was the royal city, and the principal city of the whole nation, and because those that had run away from the war in other places got all together thither. It was also naturally strong, and the walls that were built round it made him not a little concerned about it. Moreover, he esteemed the men that were in it to be so courageous and bold, that even without the consideration of the walls, it would be hard to subdue them; for which reason he took care of and exercised his soldiers beforehand for the work, as they do wrestlers before they begin their undertaking.
2. Now Titus, as he rode out to Gischala, found it would be easy for him to take the city upon the first onset; but knew withal, that if he took it by force, the multitude would be destroyed by the soldiers without mercy. [Now he was already satiated with the shedding of blood, and pitied the major part, who would then perish, without distinction, together with the guilty.] So he was rather desirous the city might be surrendered up to him on terms. Accordingly, when he saw the wall full of those men that were of the corrupted party, he said to them, That he could not but wonder what it was they depended on, when they alone staid to fight the Romans, after every other city was taken by them, especially when they have seen cities much better fortified than theirs is overthrown by a single attack upon them; while as many as have intrusted themselves to the security of the Romans' right hands, which he now offers to them, without regarding their former insolence, do enjoy their own possessions in safety; for that while they had hopes of recovering their liberty, they might be pardoned; but that their continuance still in their opposition, when they saw that to be impossible, was inexcusable; for that if they will not comply with such humane offers, and right hands for security, they should have experience of such a war as would spare nobody, and should soon be made sensible that their wall would be but a trifle, when battered by the Roman machines; in depending on which they demonstrate themselves to be the only Galileans that were no better than arrogant slaves and captives.
3. Now none of the populace durst not only make a reply, but durst not so much as get upon the wall, for it was all taken up by the robbers, who were also the guard at the gates, in order to prevent any of the rest from going out, in order to propose terms of submission, and from receiving any of the horsemen into the city. But John returned Titus this answer: That for himself he was content to hearken to his proposals, and that he would either persuade or force those that refused them. Yet he said that Titus ought to have such regard to the Jewish law, as to grant them leave to celebrate that day, which was the seventh day of the week, on which it was unlawful not only to remove their arms, but even to treat of peace also; and that even the Romans were not ignorant how the period of the seventh day was among them a cessation from all labors; and that he who should compel them to transgress the law about that day would be equally guilty with those that were compelled to transgress it: and that this delay could be of no disadvantage to him; for why should any body think of doing any thing in the night, unless it was to fly away? which he might prevent by placing his camp round about them; and that they should think it a great point gained, if they might not be obliged to transgress the laws of their country; and that it would be a right thing for him, who designed to grant them peace, without their expectation of such a favor, to preserve the laws of those they saved inviolable. Thus did this man put a trick upon Titus, not so much out of regard to the seventh day as to his own preservation, for he was afraid lest he should be quite deserted if the city should be taken, and had his hopes of life in that night, and in his flight therein. Now this was the work of God, who therefore preserved this John, that he might bring on the destruction of Jerusalem; as also it was his work that Titus was prevailed with by this pretense for a delay, and that he pitched his camp further off the city at Cydessa. This Cydessa was a strong Mediterranean village of the Tyrians, which always hated and made war against the Jews; it had also a great number of inhabitants, and was well fortified, which made it a proper place for such as were enemies to the Jewish nation.
4. Now, in the night time, when John saw that there was no Roman guard about the city, he seized the opportunity directly, and, taking with him not only the armed men that were about him, but a considerable number of those that had little to do, together with their families, he fled to Jerusalem. And indeed, though the man was making haste to get away, and was tormented with fears of being a captive, or of losing his life, yet did he prevail with himself to take out of the city along with him a multitude of women and children, as far as twenty furlongs; but there he left them as he proceeded further on his journey, where those that were left behind made sad lamentations; for the farther every one of them was come from his own people, the nearer they thought themselves to be to their enemies. They also affrighted themselves with this thought, that those who would carry them into captivity were just at hand, and still turned themselves back at the mere noise they made themselves in this their hasty flight, as if those from whom they fled were just upon them. Many also of them missed their ways, and the earnestness of such as aimed to outgo the rest threw down many of them. And indeed there was a miserable destruction made of the women and children; while some of them took courage to call their husbands and kinsmen back, and to beseech them, with the bitterest lamentations, to stay for them; but John's exhortation, who cried out to them to save themselves, and fly away, prevailed. He said also, that if the Romans should seize upon those whom they left behind, they would be revenged on them for it. So this multitude that run thus away was dispersed abroad, according as each of them was able to run, one faster or slower than another.
5. Now on the next day Titus came to the wall, to make the agreement; whereupon the people opened their gates to him, and came out to him, with their children and wives, and made acclamations of joy to him, as to one that had been their benefactor, and had delivered the city out of custody; they also informed him of John's flight, and besought him to spare them, and to come in, and bring the rest of those that were for innovations to punishment. But Titus, not so much regarding the supplications of the people, sent part of his horsemen to pursue after John, but they could not overtake him, for he was gotten to Jerusalem before; they also slew six thousand of the women and children who went out with him, but returned back, and brought with them almost three thousand. However, Titus was greatly displeased that he had not been able to bring this John, who had deluded him, to punishment; yet he had captives enough, as well as the corrupted part of the city, to satisfy his anger, when it missed of John. So he entered the city in the midst of acclamations of joy; and when he had given orders to the soldiers to pull down a small part of the wall, as of a city taken in war, he repressed those that had disturbed the city rather by threatenings than by executions; for he thought that many would accuse innocent persons, out of their own private animosities and quarrels, if he should attempt to distinguish those that were worthy of punishment from the rest; and that it was better to let a guilty person alone in his fears, that to destroy with him any one that did not deserve it; for that probably such a one might be taught prudence, by the fear of the punishment he had deserved, and have a shame upon him for his former offenses, when he had been forgiven; but that the punishment of such as have been once put to death could never be retrieved. However, he placed a garrison in the city for its security, by which means he should restrain those that were for innovations, and should leave those that were peaceably disposed in greater security. And thus was all Galilee taken, but this not till after it had cost the Romans much pains before it could be taken by them.
The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston
The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)
by D.H. Stern
and a forbidden woman like a narrow well.
28 She lies in wait to snatch her prey
and adds to the number of faithless men.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Am I convinced by Christ?
Notwithstanding in this rejoice not …, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.
--- Luke 10:19, 20.
Jesus Christ says, in effect, Don’t rejoice in successful service, but rejoice because you are rightly related to Me. The snare in Christian work is to rejoice in successful service, to rejoice in the fact that God has used you. You never can measure what God will do through you if you are rightly related to Jesus Christ. Keep your relationship right with Him, then whatever circumstances you are in, and whoever you meet day by day, He is pouring rivers of living water through you, and it is of His mercy that He does not let you know it. When once you are rightly related to God by salvation and sanctification, remember that wherever you are, you are put there by God; and by the reaction of your life on the circumstances around you, you will fulfil God’s purpose, as long as you keep in the light as God is in the light.
The tendency to-day is to put the emphasis on service. Beware of the people who make usefulness their ground of appeal. If you make usefulness the test, then Jesus Christ was the greatest failure that ever lived. The lodestar of the saint is God Himself, not estimated usefulness. It is the work that God does through us that counts, not what we do for Him. All that Our Lord heeds in a man’s life is the relationship of worth to His Father. Jesus is bringing many sons to glory.
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
the Poetry of RS Thomas
The night my father got me
His mind was not on me;
He did not plague his fancy
To muse if I should be
The son you see.
The day my mother bore me
She was a fool and glad,
For all the pain I cost her,
That she had borne the lad
That borne she had.
My mother and my father
Out of the light they lie;
The warrant would not find them,
And here 'tis only I
Shall hang so high.
Oh let not man remember
The soul that God forgot,
But fetch the county kerchief
And noose me in the knot,
And I will rot.
For so the game is ended
That should not have begun.
My father and my mother
They had a likely son,
And I have none.
Selected poems, 1946-1968
The reasons for keeping kosher are obscure to most people. The ignorance of and irreverence toward kashrut is epitomized by a brief tale and commentary from Woody Allen’s collection Getting Even :
Rabbi Zwi Chaim Yisroel, an Orthodox scholar of the Torah and a man who developed whining into an art unheard of in the West, was unanimously hailed as the wisest man of the Renaissance by his fellow Hebrews, who totaled a sixteenth of one percent of the population. Once, while he was on his way to the synagogue to celebrate the sacred Jewish holiday commemorating God’s reneging on every promise, a woman stopped him and asked the following question: “Rabbi, why are we not allowed to eat pork?”
“We’re not??” The Reb said incredulously. “Uh-oh.”
This is one of those few stories in all Hasidic literature that deals with Hebrew law. The rabbi knows he shouldn’t eat pork; he doesn’t care, though, because he likes pork. Not only does he like pork; he gets a kick out of rolling Easter eggs. In short, he cares very little about traditional Orthodoxy and regards God’s covenant with Abraham as “just so much chin music.” Why pork was proscribed by Hebraic law is still unclear, and some scholars believe that the Torah merely suggested not eating pork at certain restaurants.
Many people have been brought up believing that the avoidance of pork is for health reasons. They cite the prevalence of trichinosis in the ancient world, assuming that the rules of the Torah were to make us healthier. The Torah, however, never mentions hygiene. One could, in fact, keep all the laws of kashrut as outlined by the Bible and Talmud and eat a pretty unhealthy diet—low in fiber, high in fat and calories. Leviticus, as understood by the Rabbis, gives a clear rationale for the kosher laws—holiness.
Some say “You are what you eat.” The Rabbis said “You are how you eat.” They insisted that Jews find sanctity in every act, even in something as mundane as eating. When we assume it’s for health reasons, we consign kashrut to the past. When keeping kosher is to make us holy, then it can continue to serve a meaningful purpose in our lives.
There are all sorts of reasons why people observe religious traditions. Our Midrash teaches us that some reasons are better than others.
A woman maintains a kosher kitchen—buying only kosher foods, never cooking or serving dairy and meat together, using two sets of dishes and silverware and pots. When asked by a friend why she holds on to this ancient tradition, the woman explains, “Even though my mother is gone now ten years, I feel that she would be very disappointed in me if I didn’t keep a kosher home.”
An elderly man insists on fasting on Yom Kippur, despite the fact that he has medical problems. His doctor has told him that he should eat, and his children have pleaded with him not to fast. Even the rabbi has been enlisted to try to talk sense to the man. “Sol, I’m deeply impressed with your desire to do this mitzvah. But given your condition, you really shouldn’t.” “Rabbi, I can’t explain it. I just have a fear that God will punish me if I eat on Yom Kippur.”
A pair of twins—a girl and a boy—have been lighting Shabbat candles and making Kiddush every Friday night since they celebrated their Bar and Bat Mitzvah. Their parents are thrilled that their children have taken on these rituals. What they aren’t aware of is that the twins have made a bet to see which one can keep their “mitzvah streak” going longer than the other.
Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah would certainly be happy that the woman kept a kosher home. But he would think that there were many positive reasons why she should do so: adding holiness to her life; fulfilling God’s will; building up her self-discipline; strengthening her Jewish identity; showing consideration for animals. Maintaining the traditions out of a sense of guilt would not be high on his list.
He would also be pleased that the old man continued to have such strong feelings about his religious rituals. The Rabbi would, no doubt, quote the teaching that insisted that a sick person not fast, and would remind him that it was a mitzvah to eat if life and health were at stake. He would also teach him that the reason we observe our rituals is not out of fear of punishment, but because we believe that the rituals enrich our lives. Fasting is a way to show God our regret; it is a concrete act of contrition; it is a way of reminding ourselves that for at least twenty-four hours we can control our physical instincts; and it is a way of sensitizing ourselves to those who are without food so that we might resolve to reach out and help them.
Rabbi Elazar would surely understand that many people—adults as well as teenagers—embark on the observance of a particular mitzvah for the wrong reason, but in time end up doing it for the right reason. He might be amused at the twins and their “competition.” But he would teach them that candlelighting and Kiddush help make an otherwise ordinary day into sacred time, and that sacred times help to give our lives deeper meaning and purpose.
The Jewish people are strengthened by every mitzvah that they do. The people who do those mitzvot would be even more strengthened by searching for positive reasons for doing them.
Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living
He spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. --- Psalm 33:9.
The power of God appears in preserving the souls of believers amidst the many dangers to which they are exposed and bringing them safely to glory. (Thomas Boston, “Of God and His Perfections,” downloaded from The Boston Homepage at www.geocities.com/~thomasboston, accessed Aug. 21, 2001.) They have many enemies without: a legion of subtle and powerful devils, a wicked and ensnaring world. They have many strong lusts and corruptions within, and their graces are but weak, in their infancy while they are here. It [is a] wonder how they are preserved. But the apostle tells us that they “through faith are shielded by God’s power” until salvation (1 Peter 1:5). Indwelling corruption would soon quench grace in their hearts if that grace were not kept alive by a divine power. But Christ’s power moderates the violence of temptations, supports his people under them, [and] defeats the power of Satan.
The power of God appears in the redemption of sinners by Jesus Christ. Thus in Scripture Christ is called the power as well as the wisdom of God. This is the most admirable work that God ever brought forth in the world.
More particularly, the power of God shines in Christ’s miraculous conception in the womb of a virgin. The power of the Highest overshadowed her (Luke 1:35), and by a creative act framed the humanity of Christ of the substance of the virgin’s body and united it to the divinity. If God will accomplish that stupendous wonder, much more will he rescue his people from their adversaries.
The power of God shines in uniting the divine and human nature in the person of Christ, without any confusion of the two natures or changing the one into the other. One nature does not swallow up another and make a third distinct from both. But they are distinct and yet united; the properties of each nature are preserved entire. What a wonder of power that two natures, divine and human, infinitely distant, should meet together in a personal conjunction! Here the Creator and the creature are miraculously allied in the same being. Here a God of unmixed blessedness is linked personally with a man of perpetual sorrows. That is an admirable expression, “The Word became flesh” (John 1:14). Nothing less than an omnipotent power could bring about what an infinite and incomprehensible wisdom projected in this matter.
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Two Martyrs August 30
Christianity became firmly rooted in North Africa in the 200s, but the Roman emperors exerted every effort to pull it up. Among their targets: an urban bishop and a small-town pastor. The urban bishop was Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus, who had turned his back on a promising political career to represent Christ. Though a relatively new convert, Cyprian was appointed bishop of Carthage in 248. “The stain of my earlier life had been washed away by the help of the water of birth [baptism],” he wrote, “and the second birth restored me so as to make me a new man.”
He served for ten years, steering the Carthage church through stormy days of persecution. At length, Roman Emperor Decius ordered the liquidation of all leading Christian bishops. News came of bishops executed in Rome, Jerusalem, Antioch, Caesarea. Then the soldiers came for Cyprian, too. He was beheaded on August 30, 258.
Several years later, during the reign of Emperor Diocletian, a village pastor outside Carthage faced similar jeopardy. The persecution unleashed by Diocletian was the worst of all. Churches were destroyed, Bibles burned, and all civil rights of Christians were suspended. Diocletian required everyone to sacrifice to the gods. When Roman magistrates came to the village, they summoned leading Christians and ordered them to surrender their Bibles. The believers replied that their Pastor Felix had them in his possession, and he was away in Carthage. When Felix returned the next day, he was surrounded by troops who demanded he turn over the Bibles.
He refused. “It is better that I should be burnt myself than the Scriptures,” he told them. They gave him three days to reconsider his answer, then sent him to the proconsul in Carthage who suggested he wriggle out of the dilemma by offering some old Bibles and spare books.
Felix refused. “I have Bibles,” he said, “but I will not surrender them.” He was escorted to the lowest cell in the city’s filthiest prison for a month of misery, then shipped to Italy bound in heavy chains. He died en route on August 30, 303, in the hold of a ship carrying horses.
I chose you and sent you out to produce fruit, the kind of fruit that will last. … So I command you to love each other. If the people of this world hate you, just remember that they hated me first.John 15:16-18.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - August 30
“Wait on the Lord.” --- Psalm 27:14.
It may seem an easy thing to wait, but it is one of the postures which a Christian soldier learns not without years of teaching. Marching and quick-marching are much easier to God’s warriors than standing still. There are hours of perplexity when the most willing spirit, anxiously desirous to serve the Lord, knows not what part to take. Then what shall it do? Vex itself by despair? Fly back in cowardice, turn to the right hand in fear, or rush forward in presumption? No, but simply wait. Wait in prayer, however. Call upon God, and spread the case before him; tell him your difficulty, and plead his promise of aid. In dilemmas between one duty and another, it is sweet to be humble as a child, and wait with simplicity of soul upon the Lord. It is sure to be well with us when we feel and know our own folly, and are heartily willing to be guided by the will of God. But wait in faith. Express your unstaggering confidence in him; for unfaithful, untrusting waiting, is but an insult to the Lord. Believe that if he keep you tarrying even till midnight, yet he will come at the right time; the vision shall come and shall not tarry. Wait in quiet patience, not rebelling because you are under the affliction, but blessing your God for it. Never murmur against the second cause, as the children of Israel did against Moses; never wish you could go back to the world again, but accept the case as it is, and put it as it stands, simply and with your whole heart, without any self-will, into the hand of your covenant God, saying, “Now, Lord, not my will, but thine be done. I know not what to do; I am brought to extremities, but I will wait until thou shalt cleave the floods, or drive back my foes. I will wait, if thou keep me many a day, for my heart is fixed upon thee alone, O God, and my spirit waiteth for thee in the full conviction that thou wilt yet be my joy and my salvation, my refuge and my strong tower.”
Evening - August 30
“Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed.”
--- Jeremiah 17:14.
“I have seen his ways, and will heal him.”
--- Isaiah 57:18.
It is the sole prerogative of God to remove spiritual disease. Natural disease may be instrumentally healed by men, but even then the honour is to be given to God who giveth virtue unto medicine, and bestoweth power unto the human frame to cast off disease. As for spiritual sicknesses, these remain with the great Physician alone; he claims it as his prerogative, “I kill and I make alive, I wound and I heal;” and one of the Lord’s choice titles is Jehovah-Rophi, the Lord that healeth thee. “I will heal thee of thy wounds,” is a promise which could not come from the lip of man, but only from the mouth of the eternal God. On this account the psalmist cried unto the Lord, “O Lord, heal me, for my bones are sore vexed,” and again, “Heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee.” For this, also, the godly praise the name of the Lord, saying, “He healeth all our diseases.” He who made man can restore man; he who was at first the creator of our nature can new create it. What a transcendent comfort it is that in the person of Jesus “dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily!” My soul, whatever thy disease may be, this great Physician can heal thee. If he be God, there can be no limit to his power. Come then with the blind eye of darkened understanding, come with the limping foot of wasted energy, come with the maimed hand of weak faith, the fever of an angry temper, or the ague of shivering despondency, come just as thou art, for he who is God can certainly restore thee of thy plague. None shall restrain the healing virtue which proceeds from Jesus our Lord. Legions of devils have been made to own the power of the beloved Physician, and never once has he been baffled. All his patients have been cured in the past and shall be in the future, and thou shalt be one among them, my friend, if thou wilt but rest thyself in him this night.
Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
I SURRENDER ALL
Judson W. Van De Venter, 1855–1939
Anyone who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:38, 39)
The Bible teaches us that brokenness is a prerequisite to blessing and usefulness. No one ever achieves spiritual greatness until he has fully surrendered himself to God. Victorious living comes only as we abandon ourselves to the Lordship of Christ, becoming His loving bond slave. God’s best for our lives is not the result of struggle. Rather, it is simply the acceptance of His perfect will and the recognition of His authority in every area of our lives.
Higher than the highest heaven,
Deeper than the deepest sea,
Lord, Thy love at last hath conquered:
Grant me now my supplication,
None of self and all of Thee.
Judson Van De Venter wrote this text after surrendering his many talents to his all-wise Savior:
For some time, I had struggled between developing my talents in the field of art and going into full-time evangelistic work. At last the pivotal hour of my life came, and I surrendered all. A new day was ushered into my life, I became an evangelist and discovered down deep in my soul a talent hitherto unknown to me. God had hidden a song in my heart, and touching a tender chord, He caused me to sing.
After making his decision to devote his life to Christian service, Van De Venter ministered with much blessing in extensive evangelistic work both at home and abroad. Billy Graham is one of many who claim that Judson Van De Venter had greatly influenced their lives and ministry.
All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I free give; I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live.
All to Jesus I surrender, humbly at His feet I bow; worldly pleasures all forsaken, take me, Jesus, take me now.
All to Jesus I surrender, make me, Savior, wholly Thine; let me feel the Holy Spirit—truly know that Thou art mine.
All to Jesus I surrender, Lord, I give myself to Thee; fill me with Thy love and power; let Thy blessings fall on me.
Chorus: I surrender all, I surrender all, all to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.
For Today: Romans 6:8-14; 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20; Ephesians 3:16, 17
If you have lost the enthusiasm for Christ that you once had, make a fresh surrender to His will and Lordship. Sing as you go ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Wednesday, August 30, 2017 | After Pentecost
Proper 16, Wednesday
Psalms (Morning) Psalm 119:1–24
Psalms (Evening) Psalm 12, 13, 14
Old Testament 1 Kings 3:1–15
New Testament Acts 27:9–26
Gospel Mark 14:1–11
Index of Readings
1 Happy are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD.
2 Happy are those who keep his decrees,
who seek him with their whole heart,
3 who also do no wrong,
but walk in his ways.
4 You have commanded your precepts
to be kept diligently.
5 O that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping your statutes!
6 Then I shall not be put to shame,
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
7 I will praise you with an upright heart,
when I learn your righteous ordinances.
8 I will observe your statutes;
do not utterly forsake me.
9 How can young people keep their way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you;
do not let me stray from your commandments.
11 I treasure your word in my heart,
so that I may not sin against you.
12 Blessed are you, O LORD;
teach me your statutes.
13 With my lips I declare
all the ordinances of your mouth.
14 I delight in the way of your decrees
as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on your precepts,
and fix my eyes on your ways.
16 I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.
17 Deal bountifully with your servant,
so that I may live and observe your word.
18 Open my eyes, so that I may behold
wondrous things out of your law.
19 I live as an alien in the land;
do not hide your commandments from me.
20 My soul is consumed with longing
for your ordinances at all times.
21 You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones,
who wander from your commandments;
22 take away from me their scorn and contempt,
for I have kept your decrees.
23 Even though princes sit plotting against me,
your servant will meditate on your statutes.
24 Your decrees are my delight,
they are my counselors.
Psalm 12, 13, 14
To the leader: according to The Sheminith. A Psalm of David.
1 Help, O LORD, for there is no longer anyone who is godly;
the faithful have disappeared from humankind.
2 They utter lies to each other;
with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
3 May the LORD cut off all flattering lips,
the tongue that makes great boasts,
4 those who say, “With our tongues we will prevail;
our lips are our own—who is our master?”
5 “Because the poor are despoiled, because the needy groan,
I will now rise up,” says the LORD;
“I will place them in the safety for which they long.”
6 The promises of the LORD are promises that are pure,
silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.
7 You, O LORD, will protect us;
you will guard us from this generation forever.
8 On every side the wicked prowl,
as vileness is exalted among humankind.
To the leader. A Psalm of David.
1 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O LORD my God!
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”;
my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But I trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the LORD,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
To the leader. Of David.
1 Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
there is no one who does good.
2 The LORD looks down from heaven on humankind
to see if there are any who are wise,
who seek after God.
3 They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse;
there is no one who does good,
no, not one.
4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
who eat up my people as they eat bread,
and do not call upon the LORD?
5 There they shall be in great terror,
for God is with the company of the righteous.
6 You would confound the plans of the poor,
but the LORD is their refuge.
7 O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion!
When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people,
Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.
1 Kings 3:1–15
3 Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt; he took Pharaoh’s daughter and brought her into the city of David, until he had finished building his own house and the house of the LORD and the wall around Jerusalem. 2 The people were sacrificing at the high places, however, because no house had yet been built for the name of the LORD.
3 Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of his father David; only, he sacrificed and offered incense at the high places. 4 The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the principal high place; Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. 5 At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.” 6 And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. 7 And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8 And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. 9 Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?”
10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11 God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12 I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. 13 I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare with you. 14 If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life.”
15 Then Solomon awoke; it had been a dream. He came to Jerusalem where he stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. He offered up burnt offerings and offerings of well-being, and provided a feast for all his servants.
9 Since much time had been lost and sailing was now dangerous, because even the Fast had already gone by, Paul advised them, 10 saying, “Sirs, I can see that the voyage will be with danger and much heavy loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” 11 But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said. 12 Since the harbor was not suitable for spending the winter, the majority was in favor of putting to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix, where they could spend the winter. It was a harbor of Crete, facing southwest and northwest.
13 When a moderate south wind began to blow, they thought they could achieve their purpose; so they weighed anchor and began to sail past Crete, close to the shore. 14 But soon a violent wind, called the northeaster, rushed down from Crete. 15 Since the ship was caught and could not be turned head-on into the wind, we gave way to it and were driven. 16 By running under the lee of a small island called Cauda we were scarcely able to get the ship’s boat under control. 17 After hoisting it up they took measures to undergird the ship; then, fearing that they would run on the Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and so were driven. 18 We were being pounded by the storm so violently that on the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard, 19 and on the third day with their own hands they threw the ship’s tackle overboard. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest raged, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.
21 Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul then stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and thereby avoided this damage and loss. 22 I urge you now to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For last night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before the emperor; and indeed, God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26 But we will have to run aground on some island.”
14 It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; 2 for they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.”
3 While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. 4 But some were there who said to one another in anger, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? 5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her. 6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”
10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. 11 When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.
The Book of Common Prayer: And Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church