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A Short, Free eBook on Abortion - by John Piper

Exposing Darkness of Abortion

We are children of the light. Abortion is a work of darkness. The apostle Paul said, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11).

Our aim, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ, through the authority of his word, is to glorify God by making much of his image in the unborn, and his mercy in forgiving sinners.

We would like to give you a free eBook based on three sermons I preached on abortion. We hope it helps you speak out. Please feel free to download it, print it, copy it, and share it with as many people as you like.

Here’s a sample sentence:

God is calling passive, inactive Christians today to engage our minds and hearts and hands in exposing the barren works of darkness. To be the conscience of our culture. To be the light of the world. To live in the great reality of being loved by God and adopted by God and forgiven by Christ (yes—for all the abortions that dozens of you have had), and be made children of the light. I call you to walk as children of light.

Thanks for caring,

John Piper

From Desiring God Ministries:

We produced the video above to give you a picture of the lack of theological resources available to leaders in much of the world and to highlight the impact of people joining together with us, as God calls them, to help financially underwrite those efforts.

We are very grateful for so many of you praying with us about the One Percent Campaign. God has been very gracious to provide more than 2,500 people, as ongoing or one-time donors, through this effort!

Would you be part of this one percent? Even just one percent of you giving small monthly gifts, or a one-time gift, will make a significant impact on our domestic and international outreach initiatives.

This clip is taken from the sermon “Jesus, the Son of God,” preached by Pastor Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church’s Ballard location in Seattle, Washington, on October 23, 2011. It is the 95th sermon in our sermon series on the Gospel of Luke.

To watch the full sermon, visit http://marshill.com/media/luke/jesus-the-son-of-god


Pentecost

It was around 5 PM when Pastor Christophe asked if I could preach during the English service at the Cathedral at 7:30 AM. That hasn’t given me much time to prepare, and since the Anglican church follows the liturgical calendar I am obligated to preach on the story of Pentecost found in Acts 2. It’s an incredible story known by anyone who’s ever heard of the New Testament. Can you imagine being a grandchild of someone who was at Pentecost & growing up hearing wild stories about what happened that day? In my own mind, I can’t stop thinking about how good God is for establishing covenants with his people, remaining faithful to those covenants, & always fulfilling what he has said he will do. Ultimately, God established a new covenant with all people through His son Jesus, & we can know with certainty that he’s coming back one day to establish the complete & eternal rule of His Kingdom, & to bring restoration & renewal to every broken part of creation. That gets me excited & I want to share some thoughts from tonight as I soaked in the meaning of Pentecost.

 Several blue-collar Jewish fishermen & a devout Jewish Pharisee who once killed Christians became Spirit-filled apostles & leaders of the early Christian church. They changed everything about the known world within their lifetime, & 2000 years later we're still talking about how we want to "make a difference for Jesus in this world." Of course, some of the miraculous events recorded in the New Testament were unique to their situation and don't need to be repeated. Yet, we are filled with the same Holy Spirit & empowered by the same God of the universe so that we can GO tell every single group of people on earth about Christ's crucifixion, resurrection, & coming return. That's it, that's our only job description. Jesus said don't worry about when the end will come or when God's Kingdom will be fully established. In a way I can hear Jesus saying, "Just receive the Holy Spirit, continue watching the big plan unfold, & bring the Kingdom to earth by living a Spirit-empowered life & preaching my name.... But know that the eternal establishment of God's Kingdom WILL be fulfilled."

 Jesus clearly told people what will happen at the end of time, he offered them a message of hope, & he called them to a life of repentance & discipleship. To those who follow him, Jesus said all we need to know is that the Spirit will come upon us & that we will receive the power of God to be who He created us to be & to carry out His perfect plans on Earth, right now in the present. Right now, go preach the gospel to all people. Right now, repent & turn to God. When Jesus came to earth, God came to earth in the flesh. Now the Spirit of God, the third person of the Trinity, has come to earth & filled with power every single follower of Jesus. God is present all over the earth through His people who have been filled with His Spirit. Our only concern should be with how the power of God through the Spirit is working in our lives to accomplish what Jesus said it would be used to accomplish. Are we living witnesses to ALL people - with our words & with our deeds - of who Christ is & what he's done? Only the Holy Spirit has the power we need to live that way, & if we aren't living that way & receiving power from the Spirit, then who's our power coming from? Paul tells us in Ephesians 1 that the Spirit of God seals or hearts & guarantees our inheritance of eternal life with God & his big adopted family. That's for real, this isnt pretend. It's a perfect plan in action, not just a set of doctrinal beliefs about the Trinity or salvation. We get to actually see our God working to restore His creation, drawing people to salvation in Jesus through radical love, & fulfilling promises to his people. It's an amazing story & plan that has been unfolding since time began. My only desire is to do the will of God as I live by the power of His Spirit in me.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Heaven Is Real’

It is no surprise that holding down the top spot on bestselling book lists for weeks now is a book about a little boy who claims that he saw what heaven looks like. People are fascinated with stories about the supernatural realm beyond the world we know, and for many (including Christians and non-Christians alike) these stories tickle their ears and give them ideas about God and heaven that simply are not biblical. I have not read the book myself nor do I plan to, but I know that it is very popular and I would like to offer what I believe are biblical words of wisdom, full of truth and communicated with grace.

Troy Nicholson was my youth pastor at First Southern Baptist Church in Bryant, AR from the time I was in 10th grade until I graduated High School. A couple of years ago Troy and his family moved to Tuscaloosa, AL to start a church plant where they live and do ministry now. I would say if there is one person who, to this day, has helped shape my theology and approach to ministry the most - it has been Troy. I say all of that to show that I know him personally and have the utmost respect for him no matter what area of life it comes to. So, I was pleased to come across and read Troy’s book review of Heaven Is Real on Facebook because I think he hit the nail on the head and offered a caring pastoral response. Click the link to read more.

Heaven is for Real - Reviewed by Troy Nicholson

A Note of Context:

Perhaps it is necessary to confess up-front, “I am a skeptic”.  If you were to tell me the shirt that I am wearing is blue, rest assured I will look down to make sure.  Whether this is a byproduct of contextual influence during the formative years of my life or a gift associated with the role of pastor/shepherd will only be revealed in Heaven - which is a great segue into our topic. 

Heaven is for Real follows the life of the Burpo family with specific emphasis on Colton, a four-year old boy, and his father Todd.  In a nutshell, Colton gets very sick and, after a series of frustrating events and days, the family finds out emergency surgery is needed for a ruptured appendix in February of 2003.  Todd is already discouraged due to his own broken leg, breast cancer scare, financial troubles, and strenuous life as a school coach/fireman/pastor/overhead garage door installer.  Colton has surgery and the recovery was not void of troubles either.  Eventually, the boy is released, the community surrounds the Burpos, God provides for their needs, the family learns valuable lessons, and others begin to be encouraged by the story.  Why?  Because Colton begins to leak out bits and pieces of a journey to Heaven he experienced while in surgery (perhaps dead - perhaps not).  Thus the book finds its flow:  Colton shares something - Dad thinks about it - Dad remembers a Scripture - Dad leaves Colton to digest his thoughts alone or with someone else - Everyone waits for the next opportunity to probe Colton for more details.  6 or 7 years later, upon being encouraged by others, Todd writes the book detailing the events of the journey.  This short-fun-easy read is a 17+ week #1 on the NY Times Bestseller list … and seems to be gaining more momentum.  An edition for children will be available in the Fall, so don’t be shocked when it comes out in 3-D at your local theater. 

A Note of Content:

The book is filled with intriguing moments and fascinating details.  The boy’s out of body experience allows him to see his dad praying in another room and his mom on her cell phone.  He meets his great-grandad “Pop”, an unnamed sister who had been miscarried, John the Baptist, and the Virgin Mary.  The mother of all moments is his interaction with Jesus, who not only talked with him and showed him his scars but also gave him “homework”.  Jesus wears a white robe and purple sash but has no wings.  Conversely, everyone else wears different color sashes, colors we’ve never seen, and sport wings of varying sizes.  He saw the pearly gates, glowing aura’s around people, pet Jesus’ horse, tons of children, and even swords to keep Satan out of heaven.  Nobody was old and nobody wore glasses.  God Himself was seen, the biggest person there, as was the Holy Spirit, who was only identified as a “blue” something.  Power was “shot” to his dad, Todd, when he preaches and his (Todd’s) prayers are the reason that Jesus made Colton go back.  Again, this book is saturated with mind-blowing details that stir emotional fibers.  All details that the Apostle Paul surely saw … but was instructed to never utter … lest he be found boasting (2 Cor 12). 

A Note of Care:

Call it cynical or call it shepherding (I feel strongly about one of those) but here is where a side of me arises from the “field of flowers” sensation of this book and assumes a defensive stance.  Trust me, this book in no way poses threat to evangelical theology like “The Shack”, but it does have that same strange allurement.  An allurement to get more excited about someone’s story instead of the Text of Scripture.

Four Notes of Concern:

1.  The gospel is lacking.  In one section, Colton is uncontrollable in his concern that a deceased man “knew” who Jesus was.  “He Had to know Jesus” is repeated several times at the funeral home, to the point where the mom is forced to remove him from the facility.  Here lies my concern:  How did Colton (who went to heaven) “know” Jesus in a way that the older man did not “know” Jesus (and the reader is left to decide his fate).  I am going to avoid the debate here over childhood salvation - but raise the question “is this book helpful or harmful to the adult who has a head knowledge of Christ but has never understood sin, substitution, wrath, atonement, etc”?  In other words, does that individual walk away encouraged because he/she at least has the same child-like faith of Colton?  Statements like “I’m not perfect but I talk to Jesus all the time” - “Me and God have our own thing going” - “I was baptized when I was…” - “I walked the aisle at age…” are justified with books like this.  Satan whispers in individual’s ears, “See, if Colton got to go to heaven then you are okay”.  Paul used his heavenly experience to BOAST in the gospel.  He used it to urge people to repent of their sin - not be encouraged by ethereal cloud hopping. 

2.  Experiences are communicated as truth.  I will admit up front, most of these are not necessarily contrary to Scripture.  However, they are not Biblical either.  They fall into some sort of grey, blurring the lines between vision and truth (more on that later).  In other words, a 5-minute Google search on “near death experiences” will give you all the heavenly moments you can handle but I am not ready to bank on “having a water fight with Jesus in the River of Life” because someone said so. 

            IN HEAVEN:

•  The great grandfather spends eternity as a young 30 year old and the little miscarried girl is bound to the age of 4ish.  Is the girl growing older year by year?  Is she stuck at 4? Is the man getting younger?  Is he stuck at 30?  Will they both experience heaven in those states for all eternity?

•  Everyone has wings in heaven…except for Jesus.  This is absolutely not taught in Scripture and even calls into question several passages where angels and mankind are clearly distinct from one another.  (Is 6, 1 Cor 6, Heb 2, Revelation)

•  Swords are needed in heaven to keep Satan out…yet Colton saw Satan.  Did the swords not work and Satan made it in?  Did Colton go to where Satan was?  Is God not powerful enough to keep Satan out without swords?  Conversely, and most importantly, wasn’t Satan allowed in the presence of God in the Book of Job?

•  Staying on the sword theme, Colton wanted to hold a sword but Jesus wouldn’t let him because it was “too dangerous.”  Why?  Who was he going to hurt?  Was he going to hurt himself?  Was he going to hurt someone else?  Remember, he was in heaven … no tears, no pain, no death (Rev 21:4) … but danger?

•  The Holy Spirit “shoots” his dad power when he preaches and Colton saw it happen.  Trust me, every preacher alive will say “AMEN” to that.  However, remember, he was in heaven for 3 minutes.  His dad wasn’t preaching in those three minutes, right?  So apparently Colton was able to see the future … yet the martyrs in Rev 6:10 are not allowed to see the future.

•  Did the boy die or not?  Colton suggests he did but the doctors say he did not.  If he did die, did God not know it was his time? (Ps 139:16).  Did He change his mind, send him back, and re-allot a new amount of days?

•  Colton saw Jesus and confirmed His likeness as portrayed in a painting by a child prodigy whose parents are atheist.  This is a massive portion of the books appeal.  The family asks him over and over and over and over and over to confirm images they find.  Todd makes it a point to keep this repetitive theme going throughout the book in an attempt to build his case.  However, the case falls just as easily with one question:  Who is to say Colton’s acknowledgment of Akiane’s depiction INVALIDATES every other visionary depiction that has been produced from those claiming to have seen Jesus?  Why do we choose this one over others?  Because he was 4 and she was 8?  Illogical to me.

Again, my issue is not necessarily with what was said but the fact that it is presented as truth.  To state it bluntly, there is nothing in this book worthy of canonization.  This is not the missing 23rd chapter of Revelation and people are ready to defend it as such.

3.  The father writes from a 6 or 7 year delayed perspective yet in a very detailed and descriptive fashion.  We all fall victim to filling in the gaps as details are lost.  We also fall victim to filling in the gaps with more colorful content when details are lost.  Furthermore, leading questions produce led answers.  Those who have read the book balk, “Troy, the dad said he did not lead Colton on”.  (A) I have questions about that process coming later.  (B) I am also equally concerned with the bestselling co-authors questions to Todd in the production of the book.  As a professor once told me, “Pay careful attention to who endorses, publishes, and helps co-author a book before you read it.”

4.  Scripture is reduced to a “back up what Colton said” and never “question what Colton said” answer key.  I will forgo discussion on this area for the sake of time and my blood pressure.  However, if you can tell me Colton Burpo’s heavenly experience and cannot tell me about Isaiah’s, Stephen’s, Elijah’s, John’s and Paul’s then I beg you to put down this book and pick up your Bible.  Don’t get excited about heaven because of what a 4 year old boy said, get excited because of what is said by Jesus in the Gospels. 

A Note of Concession:

So the million dollar question:  Did Colton go to heaven?  Maybe…maybe not.  There is adequate wiggle room for the believer as well as the skeptic.  “But how did he know all this stuff?”  Simmer down, easy, take a breath.  Get mad at one another if you disagree on Scripture, not the Burpo’s experience.  Rest assured, Colton has learned a ton as the son of a pastor.  I can relate to this on two levels.  First, as a pastor’s son, my parent’s did not know all the things I was exposed to in Sunday School, Training Union, and Wednesday night classes.  They did not know all the conversations I overheard.  They did not realize how much I absorbed with each and every sermon I heard - especially when it came to swords, horses, rainbows, eternity, Satan and Heaven.  Second, as a pastor with two sons, I have influenced answers with “leading questions” even when I was trying my best not to use “leading lingo”.  Pastors have passions.  When a discussion of the Bible emerges I get excited - and inadvertently use semantics that fuel the conversation.  Start a conversation with me about politics and I will count the seconds till the conversation ends offering little in return for your efforts.  Start a political conversation with a politician and he will be naturally catalytic to continued dialogue - influencing your thoughts with each and every word.  Add to that the high fevers and medicines Colton was being exposed to and the potential for “heightened visionary phenomenon” is fostered.

With that said, God indeed speaks in “visionary language” all throughout Scripture.  Whether speaking through a donkey, in a wrestling match, by placing dew on the ground, on the top of a mountain, or through a witch - He manifests Himself in specific ways for the needs of specific people.  Therefore, I have no problem with God meeting this child in imagery that he could understand … TO point Colton to the fact of His existence, eternity, Christ, and even begin preparing him for something to come in his future. 

This is vital to my heartbeat concerning the book:  Visionary experiences are just that…visionary experiences.  The details are NOT equal with Scripture, NOR to be communicated as practical TRUTHS.  Saul’s conversation with Samuel via the Witch of Endor does not give us permission to build a theology of prayer around utilizing psychic mediums.  If you have read this book and embraced it as a theology of heaven, even accidentally, (and most people who ask me about the book start by celebrating the experiences rather than heaven itself) then I urge you to rethink your excitement.  If you were strangely drawn to Jesus Christ as the sole provider of access to eternal co-existence with the God that created you through the power of the Holy Spirit - then read it again!

Desiring God Website Now in Swahili

With excitement and praise to God we announce the release of KumtamaniMungu.org (desiringGod.org in Swahili). Already there are several sermons and articles available on the site, and we plan to continue releasing new material each week, as God provides.

Swahili is an African language, spoken primarily in the central and eastern regions of the continent. It is the first or second language of over 50 million people worldwide (with approximately 5 million online users). Speakers can be found in

  • Burundi, 
  • DR Congo,
  • Kenya,
  • Northern Mozambique,
  • Rwanda,
  • Somalia,
  • Sudan,
  • Tanzania,
  • Uganda,

and a few places outside of Africa, such as Canada, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. Alongside translating sermons and articles, there are also Swahili book translations underway. 50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die (Je, Kwa Nini Kristo Alikufa Msalabani?), a free download, was completed last year.

Forthcoming, Lord willing, are Swahili translations of Piper’s Finally AliveFor Your Joy, and Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ.

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Romans 8:31-39 (ESV)

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

"For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. http://bible.us/Rom8.31.ESV

"HE IS NOT HERE - FOR HE IS RISEN!"

I’ve been trying to get this blog post to go through since last Saturday night, but the internet connection at our house is out and the two hotels I’ve been to haven’t had a good connection either. Nonetheless, I persevere.

I wanted to share these pictures I took in Jerusalem (2008) so you might get a visual of the path our Lord Jesus took to the cross and where he *might* have been buried. Most all of the sites in Israel are “traditionally” where Christians believed certain events took place, but no one can know for sure and there are a few places where it’s obvious that wasn’t the biblical location. In addition to my pictures I have posted "The ‘Who,’ ‘What,’ and ‘Where’ of Holy Week: A Visualization" that appeared last week on Justin Taylor’s blog, Between Two Worlds.

For the past few days I’ve been itching to share my Easter thoughts, so here they are:

We who are in Christ Jesus have also died to sin and resurrected to new life. This means that we become just like Jesus in every way as we share in his sufferings and the crucifixion of our old selves. We are being made into his likeness every single day, and the sinless nature of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit is the exact nature we take on. Can anyone be perfect, can anyone not sin? Well, that’s what the Bible says. Paul makes this clear on more than one occasion, but some of my favorite passages are in Romans 6-8. Without typing a 20 page exegetical paper, I want us to see that the entirety of Paul’s claims about what it even means to be a Christian - his basis for helping us understand our position in Christ -  is that we are united with Christ in his DEATH and RESURRECTION. This means we are dead to sin, alive to Christ, and therefore “BY NO MEANS/NEVER/NO WAY/MAY IT NEVER BE SO” that we should continue sinning. Easter is glorious because Jesus rose from the dead, he is alive, and he reigns above all…and I know you haven’t forgotten that Jesus died for your sins - that’s the whole point! But I pray that more Christians (including myself) would live out biblical truth that we do not have to live this life now on earth and sin! We have been freed from sin (past tense)! How liberating it is to see and understand that God planned it all to work that way, and that those with faith in the work of Jesus have literally become united as ONE body with Christ who is the head. Don’t make excuses for your sin, and don’t say, “Well, no one is perfect…thank God for grace!” YES, hallelujah praise Jesus that he rose and thank God for grace!…..but Paul uses the very fact that God does have grace and that Christ did die and resurrect to say to believers, 

"How can you who have died to sin (past tense) continue living in it(present tense)? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:1-4) 

In other words, “Do you even know what it means to be a Christian? It means you don’t go on sinning…how can you???”

Lastly, I need to say that it’s not about “trying not to sin.” What Paul is talking about is a supernatural change that has taken place — a reworking of the human heart and sin-nature that can only be done by God. We don’t stop sinning because we choose to. We stop sinning because we are united with Christ, have the presence and power of God through the Holy Spirit within us, and it is impossible to live in sin if all of that has laid its claim on your life. Be encouraged by the fact that you can’t be good by trying to be good…..but you can be perfect through Jesus. Amen? Yes, Amen.

(Click through to see a larger high-resolution image. Then right click and click “Save As” to download.  Or download in PDF format.

Holy Week Timeline from Bible Gateway

(via Between Two Worlds) Readers may also want to check out a Google Map of Jerusalem, constructed by Crossway, pinpointing (to the best of our knowledge) the location of the major events of Holy Week with chronology. (Click through for more info.)

Google Maps | Life of Christ events and places

The Gospel Coalition | TGC 2011 - Free Audio Downloads

The Gospel Coalition

I guess it was a few years ago, The Gospel Coalition started an annual conference and have always had some of the sharpest Christian minds and most gifted communicators come speak. The website itself contains daily blogs from some guys you may or may not have heard of, but I’ll let you check that out if you want. It’s one of my favorite sites and I wanted to share a couple of links where you can download audio from all the messages given at the conference this past weekend. These guys are always putting out great material on the Bible, theology, church, ministry, etc… and it’s always from some of the top Christian scholars/church leaders. At least bookmark the website so you’ll have a good resource from now on.

Like The Gospel Coalition on Facebook
Follow @TGC on Twitter
The Gospel Coalition | TGC 2011 - Audio Links
  • Most of the links to download audio are up on the home page. Right-click and save.

Desiring God Ministries | TGC 2011 - Audio Links
  • All of the audio links are on one page to download.

APRIL 6: My Birthday and the Rwandan Genocide

April 6, 1994 - It was my seventh birthday. I’m sure I blew out seven candles, ate too much birthday cake, got some new Hot Wheels, and shared quality time with my family. All the while everyone was oblivious, and many still are.

April 6, 1994 - An airplane carrying then Rwandan President, Juvenal Habyarimana, was shot down near the Rwandan capital city, Kigali, and he was killed along with 10 others - including then Burundian President, Cyprian Ntayamira. Habyarimana (a Hutu) seized control of Rwanda from President Gregoire Kayibanda (also a Hutu) in 1973 after leading a coup and killing many of the leaders from the former regime.

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I Owe You

On Tuesday [March 29] I went with Bishop Mbanda and a few other pastors to a small village in the surrounding mountains. I can’t remember the name of the village because I couldn’t pronounce it, but we visited one location of the 300 Shyira Diocese churches as well as one of the 52 Shyira schools. They had a confirmation ceremony for about 30 new Christians, and as a lifelong member of a Baptist church that was a new experience for me. Additionally, the entire ceremony was in the native language, Kinyarwanda, which means that I understood nothing about what was happening at any point in the 4-5 hours that we were there. However, I was a guest of honor and was allowed to sit down front in the shade since the ceremony was outside. (Imana Ishimwe = Praise be to God)

Inside Local church

Inside the local church.

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