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Archive for the ‘testimonies’ Category

wisdom-is-with-the-aged-and-understanding-in-length-of-days-esv3356

I had the privilege this morning of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga and four other men preach a sermon called “Wisdom from the Aged.” Here is a summary of their sermon in one sentence: A commitment to God’s Word, His mercy and grace, discipline, and being a blessing will help you live for the Lord wherever He has placed you.

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ps 30

This morning I had the privilege of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga preach on Psalm 30. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: A God-centered life is one that praises God for deliverance in order that others will praise God, too.

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This is my testimony. It’s your testimony, too, if you’re a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. The details may differ slightly, but this is our story. Praise God!

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:1-10).

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MIS87-2

Rosaria Butterfield’s follow-up to The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert is excellent. The subtitle says it all: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ. 

She gives her thoughts on some of the hottest issues in the world and the church today – same-sex marriage, homosexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Her strong (and correct) contention is that one of the major lenses through which all of these issues should be viewed is that of identity – not the way we see ourselves, but the way God sees us. According to His Word – the Bible – we are either “in Christ” or “in Adam.” There are no other options available to us. All that we are, including, but not limited to, our sexuality is wrapped up in one of those two categories.

Butterfield calls conversion “the spark of a new identity.” A Christian’s new identity is based on our union with Christ – we being in Him and He in us. She says that sexual orientation (at least as the world understands it) is a false concept introduced by Sigmund Freud  in the Nineteenth Century. Her chapter on repentance is one of the best I’ve ever read on the subject. A chapter called “Community” presents the virtue of hospitality as representing Christ to the world by giving us a look at what she, her husband, and children do regularly.

I highly recommend this book, but with one caveat: read The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert first. When you do, you’ll understand better her conversion to Christ and her growth in Him. Tolle lege!

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I read an excellent article in World magazine, written by Rebecca Gault, about a woman named Rachel Norris. After she was converted to faith in Jesus Christ, she became a potter. Working with clay has taught her a number of spiritual lessons. Gault writes:

Norris’ parents retired from the mission field after 32 years and returned to the family homestead in Bryan, Texas. Her mother, overwhelmed from years of battling depression, suffered a nervous breakdown. At the same time, Norris accepted a job near Bryan that ended abruptly. Divorced and unemployed, she moved into her parents’ home. There she began to explore the prophets’ word pictures of God as the Potter and His people as the clay. She reflected on her own life: How God formed her as clay, and how it was His prerogative to smash and reform her, creating a useful vessel.

At her wheel, she formed a pitcher, smashed it and re-wedged the lump. She centered the new lump on the potter’s wheel and formed a new vessel, observing that centering the clay is as much about knowing when to apply pressure as it is knowing when to release. Even lumps go to church, thought Norris. After drying came the fire. This changed the clay’s character. The fire made it strong and fit for use. As creator-potter, Norris monitored her creation’s time in the flame closely, careful not to remove the red, glowing vessel to soon. She chose this clay to become an ornamental fruit bowl and dug her design tools into its flesh. God chose her to display the fruits of the Spirit as a potter.

Today, Norris is remarried with two children and owns Joy Pottery, where she creates functional and decorative clay products. She travels with her wheel, giving personal testimony of brokenness and redemption. “Don’t rest in a place of potential and comfort,” she tells her audiences. The broken pieces off her back porch are memorials of God’s grace. (December 15th, 2012 edition of World, pp. 61-62).

Read Jeremiah 18 and Romans 9 to know more, or remind yourself, about the Potter and His wheel.

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Luke 2 contains some of the most memorable sections in all of the Bible. The birth narrative of Jesus is familiar even to those who know very little of the content of the Bible. In my reading of this chapter, two themes jumped out at me.

First, a number of different people (or creatures) gave testimony to confirm the identity of Jesus Christ.

1. Angels (verses 10-11). They said to the shepherds, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

2. Shepherds (verses 17-18,20). After the shepherd saw Jesus, they “spread the word concerning” what they had seen and whom they had met.

3. Mary – “But Mary treasured up all these things in her heart” (verse 19).

4. Simeon (verses 28-32). The Holy Spirit had promised him that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. When he saw Jesus at the temple with His parents, he saw the Messiah.

5. Anna the prophetess (verses 36-38).

6. Jesus Himself (verse 49). When Joseph and Mary found Him in the temple, He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in My Father’s house?”

Second, what, or who, did all these witnesses reveal Jesus Christ to be?

First, He is revealed to be the Savior.
The angels proclaimed it best when they said, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you” (verse 11). He is God’s “salvation” according to Simeon in verses 30 and 31. Anna says He is “the redemption of Jerusalem” in verse 38.

Next, He is revealed to be the Lord.
Once again, the angels announce to the shepherds that the newborn Jesus is “the Lord” in verse 11.

Finally, He is revealed to be the Son.
Jesus said that He “had to be in my Father’s house” (verse 49). Of course, the Father He’s speaking of is God the Father, whose “house” was the temple in Jerusalem.

The Gospel of Luke (and all of the Bible for that matter) points us to the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s especially true in the Gospels. Whatever else we may find there, and however interesting it may be, it’s all about Him ultimately.

Jesus is Savior, Lord, and Son of the Father. He was then and He is now! Praise God!

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