It is by Grace You Have Been Saved

Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV)

By Grace Through Faith
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not 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, that we should walk in them.

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What is the Gospel?

FROM Oct 26, 2015 Category: Articles

There is no greater message to be heard than that which we call the gospel. But as important as that is, it is often given to massive distortions or over simplifications. People think they’re preaching the gospel to you when they tell you, ‘you can have a purpose to your life’, or that ‘you can have meaning to your life’, or that ‘you can have a personal relationship with Jesus.’ All of those things are true, and they’re all important, but they don’t get to the heart of the gospel.

The gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness–or lack of it–or the righteousness of another. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.

The great misconception in our day is this: that God isn’t concerned to protect His own integrity. He’s a kind of wishy-washy deity, who just waves a wand of forgiveness over everybody. No. For God to forgive you is a very costly matter. It cost the sacrifice of His own Son. So valuable was that sacrifice that God pronounced it valuable by raising Him from the dead–so that Christ died for us, He was raised for our justification. So the gospel is something objective. It is the message of who Jesus is and what He did. And it also has a subjective dimension. How are the benefits of Jesus subjectively appropriated to us? How do I get it? The Bible makes it clear that we are justified not by our works, not by our efforts, not by our deeds, but by faith–and by faith alone. The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in Him–and in Him alone. You do that, you’re declared just by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity.

Be killing sin or it will be killing you

John Owen, The Mortification of Sin

Just before Christ blew the doors of my heart clean off the hinges,  I attended a weekly young men’s church group centered on purity. The pastor made a statement that caught my attention: “in dealing with sexual temptation with young women, many guys often say to themselves ‘how close can I get to the edge of the Grand Canyon without falling in?”

At that point in my life, I flirted with the Canyon every couple of months. A few months later, I got snatched up into God’s love displayed at Calvary and, like many Christians who fall victim to their own purity, very soon started running in the opposite direction.

Running away from the natural beauty of the Canyon is one extreme, risking a suicidal fall is another. I’ve come to realize that both are equally sinful. As a very young believer, I couldn’t imagine that abdicating the responsibility to serve my sisters in order to protect my own purity would somehow turn out to be something that would be ‘killing me’, as John Owen put it. God has grown me through the years and now, that’s a sin I’m mortifying by God’s grace.

Having some legalistic perfectionistic tendencies through much of my Christian life and attending at least one church with many legalistic perfectionists made me think I had to have my ‘ducks lined up’ before seeking marriage, rather than simply obeying God’s command to love His Son more than I love any potential wife. That too is a terrible sin that God has helped me mortify.

If you’re obsessed with Couples Nursing, please repent, or else it’ll be killing you.
If you look down on believers who want an ANR only in marriage, I urge you to repent, or it’ll be killing you.
Don’t let purity be an idol, or it’ll kill you.
If you have any other god besides Yeshua, your idolatry will kill you, both here and eternally.

Marriage is a gift from God. Pre-marital purity is also a gift all must desire. Asceticism is not.

Enjoy the Grand Canyon but don’t let it enjoy you.

Proverbs 5:19 in context

Enjoy Marriage

15 Drink water from your own cistern,
water flowing from your own well.
16 Should your springs flow in the streets,
streams of water in the public squares?
17 They should be for you alone
and not for you to share with strangers.
18 Let your fountain be blessed,
and take pleasure in the wife of your youth.
19 A loving doe, a graceful fawn—
Let her breasts drench you at all times;
   
    be led astray always in her love.
20 Why, my son, would you be infatuated
with a forbidden woman
or embrace the breast of a stranger?
21 For a man’s ways are before the Lord’s eyes,
and He considers all his paths.
22 A wicked man’s iniquities entrap him;
he is entangled in the ropes of his own sin.
23 He will die because there is no discipline,
and be lost because of his great stupidity.

On Dealing With Rejection | Gospel Relevance

Recently, I was on Facebook scrolling down my newsfeed, checking to see what my friends and family were up to. I only scrolled for a few seconds when I noticed a picture of a few friends out to eat at a restaurant. They seemed like they were having the time of their lives. I sighed. And then I thought to myself, “How come they didn’t invite me?”

I felt rejected. Sure, I like social media. I enjoy checking Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and following the lives of people that I know, people that I don’t know. But I notice that if I spend too much time on social media, I’ll fall into the comparison trap, thinking that everyone’s life is more awesome than mine.

You will face rejection.

I’m talking about the feeling of being excluded, or when you’re denied something that you want. The world is set up to increase your discontentment and so, as Christians, you and I must ask, “How do I deal with rejection?”

I propose an unconventional route — theology. In particular, through the doctrine of …

Read more at On Dealing With Rejection | Gospel Relevance

A life pleasing to God

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1th.4.3-8.ESV

More on the uniqueness of ABF

Yesterday, I was reflecting on my male bedroom fantasies. When married, I know I’d enjoy them in the moment. The feeling won’t last. But couples nursing does last. It totally changes the dynamic of the relationship and brings about long-term changes to women’s bodies. One even imagined feeling more feminine in a biblical sense. That’s why women love it. Unlike their male counterparts, they’re created to prefer ties that bind.

Affection

So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.

Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this.

1 Thessalonians 2:8, 17-20, 3:1-3

Quantum Entanglement and the Wisdom of Rafiki – Elisha’s Riddle

Disclaimer: I like much of Elisha’s riddle, but their doctrine doesn’t completely align with mine, especially with regards to salvation. The article below though, is a gem.

Are you familiar with “entangled particles” from the world of quantum physics?  Far more mind-blowing than anything in science fiction is the reality of God’s creation, and how it reveals deep truths about Him–and us. Here is an excerpt from an io9 article on the reality of how particles become entangled and will instantaneously and seamlessly mirror each other across great distances of space (and even across distances of time as well) …

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“Quantum entanglement says that two particles can become intertwined so that they always share the same properties, even if they’re separated in space. Now it seems particles can be entangled in time, too. Who’s ready for some serious quantum weirdness?

Of all the ideas in modern physics, quantum entanglement is a serious contender for the absolute strangest. Basically, entangled particles share all their quantum properties, even if they are separated by massive distances in space. The really odd part is that any changes made to the properties of one particle will instantly occur in the other particle. There are some subtle reasons why this doesn’t actually violate the speed of light, but here’s the short version: this is all very, very bizarre.”

(Quantum Entanglement – io9)

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This speaks powerfully of our union with Christ.  We are “entangled” with Him in both time and space.

Read More

Source: Quantum Entanglement and the Wisdom of Rafiki – Elisha’s Riddle

Monthly ANRSpace member tally

To show that ANRs are very gradually becoming more popular, here’s an up to date record of the number of profiles on ANRSpace: 6,146 members.
A month ago, there were 6,064 members, a 1.4% month-over-month increase, or 2.7 new members daily.


Caution: of all ANR dating sites, ANRSpace comes closest to receiving an endorsement from Christ-centered ANR. We applaud their policy of not allowing any cleavage but wish they would do more to ensure sexual purity. PLEASE exercise extreme caution if you plan to visit ANRSpace. Some profiles contain text that some readers may find explicit. Gentlemen, if pictures of women who aren’t showing cleavage but are well-endowed make you stumble, you might want to consider blocking images on your browser. This is precisely why we need an ANR site for Christians, by Christians.

Woman, thou art loosed

Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.”  And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it?  And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?”  As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.
Luke 13:10-17 ESV
http://bible.com/59/luk.13.10-17.ESV

God cares about the Spirit of the Law, not just the letter.

Regrettably, minimalistic legalism been leading Pharisees to grossly misinterpret God’s Word for two thousand years and counting. Somehow, they went from ‘thou shall not work on the Sabbath’ to ‘thou shall not heal the chronically sick on the Sabbath’.

There’s no guilt or shame in seeking an ANR very cautiously, or in promoting the practice among married couples. The spirit of wanting to see stronger, more intimate Christian marriages ultimately triumphs over the letter of legalistic, moralistic Bible-overextension, the kind that makes some demand a 12-month waiting period to begin dating if you have an improper covenant with your eyes.

The neglected ministry

I just signed up for a Christian financial counseling course online, shortly after which it occurred to me that in many churches, we have financial ministries, children’s ministries, teen ministries, college, young adults, women, men, seniors, sports, career, grief counseling, substance recovery, parenting and lots more ministries so why can’t we have a greater number that focus on intimacy within marriage, with a completely cross-centered approach?

God created sex and delights in His children having gospel-focused sexual intimacy.

I met a Proverbs 31 woman

This woman was amazing.

She was everything I’m looking for in the spiritual, but not in the natural, so I had to cut all romantic ties. Wasn’t at all easy. In fact, I had to have a chat with my pastor, Pastor JH, who reminded me that Christians are to be comprehensively attracted to their mates, not just spiritually. I specifically recall him mentioning the importance of physical and sexual attraction as well, and I remember him strongly cautioning me against falling into the Gnostic trap. “You shouldn’t have to argue yourself into marrying someone”, he said.

Marrying her despite knowing she won’t meet my earthly needs is akin to entering a marriage knowing an ANR won’t ever happen. Marrying someone to whom you don’t feel a natural attraction is equivalent to setting your marriage up for failure.

Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting. But a woman who fears the Lord and is gorgeous in her husband’s eyes is a real prize.

Deny yourself doesn’t mean deny your ‘humanness’

Thank God for:

Marriage
Intimacy
Sex
Love
Romance
Companionship
Parents
Family
Children
Warmth
Friendship
Mercy
Grace
Compassion

Vacations
Entertainment
Comedy
Music
Dancing
Movies
Sports
Travel
Resorts
Cruises

Sunshine
Warmth
Blue skies
Rainbows
Waterfalls
Tropical islands
Flowers
Rain
Sunsets
Meteor showers
The Northern Lights

Food
Ice cream
Whipped cream
Appetizers
Wine
Fruit punch
World-class chefs

Hospitals
Laws
Law enforcement
The International Criminal Court
The Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty
Transparency International
Public transportation
Uber

Smartphones
Google
WordPress

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

John 10:10

Thank God for the God-man Who came and did what we totally depraved mortals could never do.

Forget Him not, for joy is only found in Christ-John Piper reading plan on YouVersion

I just finished day 5 of the @YouVersion Plan Living In The Light: Money, Sex And Power by John Piper. Check it out here:
http://bible.com/r/dL

Today’s verses:
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalms 16:11 ESV
http://bible.com/59/psa.16.11.ESV

For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
Jeremiah 2:13 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jer.2.13.ESV

The Preeminence of Christ

Matthew 19
v. 12: There are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.

v. 14: The kingdom of heaven belongs to [people who humble themselves like children].

v. 21: If you want to be perfect go, sell your possessions, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.

Mark 10:15: Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.

Wow.

Christ is worth more than our net worth, wealth, socio-economic status, adult superiority complex, insubordination, and sex drives. He’s even worth more than our godly desire to procreate.

And Colossians 1:15-22 reads:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be pre-eminent. For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him.

We love because He first loved us

Wedding Kiss_of_bride_and_groom hands high

God Is Love

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

1 John 4:7-21

Charis: God’s Scandalous Grace for Us

Charis

According to Wikipedia, Charis is “a given name derived from a Greek word meaning ‘grace, kindness, and life’. In Greek mythology, a Charis is one of the Charites or ‘Graces’, goddesses of charm, beauty, nature, human creativity and fertility.”

Over two thousand years ago, the word had a mythological denotation but Google it today, and the majority of results you see are Christian.
I like how a bit of Greek mythology has been reclaimed by God the Son. New Testament writers just had to take this word after eyewitnessing the risen Lord.
I couldn’t help but smile when I read the secular definition of this Christianized word. Kindness. Grace. Beauty. Human creativity. Fertility. I think these describe many ANR-interested women perfectly. In a picture dictionary, a portrait of the typical Christian woman with ANR interests is all that would be needed to define charis.

To this day, some refuse to accept Christian rock, rap and heavy metal as legitimate forms of worship. Like most Adult Nursing Relationships, rock, rap and metal continue to be subject to the power of the prince of the air. But God makes all things new. If He can redeem desperately wicked sinners like you and me, then He can redeem anything.

Philippians 3:20-21 says “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.”

And 1 Corinthians 15:24-28: “Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God[a] has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.”

RC Sproul comments on these verses: “Redemption is not complete ‘until he has put all his enemies under his feet’ (v. 25, a clear reference to Ps 110:1), and since death is the last enemy, ( v. 26), Christ’s work is not done until death is destroyed…[t]he climax of Christ’s submissive, messianic work is this total conquest over His enemies, ‘that God may be all in all’, when His absolute rule is universally acknowledged.”

Nothing in existence, nothing, not sex, drugs, rock and roll, not hip hop, heavy metal, no, not Couples Nursing or even hell is outside the domain of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus looks at entire realm of the universe and says “Mine”.

Adult Nursing Relationships are bowing to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Monthly ANRSpace member tally

To show that ANRs are very gradually becoming more popular, here’s an up to date record of the number of profiles on ANRSpace: 6,064 members.
A month ago, there were 5,998 members, a 1.1% month-over-month increase, or 2.1 new members daily.


Caution: of all ANR dating sites, ANRSpace comes closest to receiving an endorsement from Christ-centered ANR. We applaud their policy of not allowing any cleavage but wish they would do more to ensure sexual purity. PLEASE exercise extreme caution if you plan to visit ANRSpace. Some profiles contain text that some readers may find explicit. Gentlemen, if pictures of women who aren’t showing cleavage but are well-endowed make you stumble, you might want to consider blocking images on your browser. This is precisely why we need an ANR site for Christians, by Christians.

God Loves Sex: An Honest Conversation about Sexual Desire and Holiness

God Loves Sex

About

“It’s rare to find a Christian book about sex that is real and helpful and honest. God Loves Sex is all of that and more.”–Donald Miller, bestselling author of Blue Like Jazz and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

The church’s stance on sexual matters has been clear throughout history: all sexual activity outside the boundaries of Christian marriage is sin. So we hide our struggles and pretend to live above the erotic fray, or else we embrace the culture’s redefinition of what is acceptable. But in this book Allender and Longman explore what the Bible really says about sexual desire and sexual intimacy.

God Loves Sex
offers a truly liberating, godly view of holy sensuality by recovering the clear meaning of the Song of Songs as God-sanctioned eroticism. Then it uses that lens to answer questions posed by a fictional new Christian struggling with expectations of sexual purity. It asks provocative questions, such as What does it mean to be both holy and filled with rich sexual desire?and How can our sexual struggles take us deeper into the purposes of God?

Pairing psychological insight with sound biblical scholarship, the authors bring desire and sex out into the open, allowing Christians of any age and any marital status to understand sex the way God meant it to be.

“In a world where sex most often lives in confusion, perversion, compulsion, guilt, and shame, it is wonderful that Allender and Longman use the Bible’s sex song to restore sex to its original created beauty.”–Paul David Tripp, author of Sex & Money

Order the book on this site.

Christianity is still alive in the UK

It’s dying but still shows some signs of life.

I was just there and was impressed by a church I walked past that boldly displayed a Bible verse, and generous praises lavished upon a bishop by a woman on Sky News who unfortunately said she wasn’t a Christian.

Best of all was my visit to a conservative Anglican church in central London. Their evening service was exclusively attended by young, mostly single folks about my age. There were so many young believers, it got me thinking about moving to London. This church is as close to perfect for me as any church can get. It has everything a church should have: a gospel-focus, sound doctrine, great worship, fellowship, love and grace, warmth, good food, lots of mingling between the sexes, active missions, multiple leaders and great diversity across the board.
The amazing aesthetics were a welcome bonus.

It was easily one of the five best services I’ve ever attended. When it comes to fellowship, it certainly was the best, without contenders.

Happy Easter

The_Empty_TombGreetings to you and yours as you celebrate our Savior and the day He conquered death.
How unfathomable that the spotlessly righteous One Who created the universe would voluntarily condescend into human form and die for a wretch like me. How is that possible? I certainly don’t deserve it.

“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”

1 Corinthians 15:4

“For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.”

1 Thessalonians 4:14. (This verse is very comforting to me right now, as I recently lost a beloved relative who was a firm believer in Jesus Christ.)

“O death where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’

For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

“For our sake He made Him Who knew no sin to be sin so in Him we might be the righteousness of God.”

2 Corinthians 5:21