Author: Percy Parakh

Persevere In Times Of Difficulty – God Calls Abraham’s Family


Genesis 32:22-32 NIV

Jacob Wrestles With God

22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.

 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered.

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[a] because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

30 So Jacob called the place Peniel,[b] saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel,[c] and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.

Persevere In Times Of Difficulty (Notes)

Genesis 28 New International Version

28 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman. 2 Go at once to Paddan Aram,[a] to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. 3 May God Almighty[b] bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. 4 May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.” 5 Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.

6 Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, “Do not marry a Canaanite woman,” 7 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram. 8 Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; 9 so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.

Jacob’s Dream at Bethel

10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it[c] stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.[d] 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel,[e] though the city used to be called Luz.

20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord[f] will be my God 22 and[g] this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”


Genesis 32:1-21 New International Version

Jacob Prepares to Meet Esau

1 [a]Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 2 When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is the camp of God!” So he named that place Mahanaim.[b]

3 Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4 He instructed them: “This is what you are to say to my lord Esau: ‘Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now.

5 I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, male and female servants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.’”

6 When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”

7 In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups,[c] and the flocks and herds and camels as well. 8 He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group,[d] the group[e] that is left may escape.”

9 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, Lord, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ 10 I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps.

11 Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. 12 But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’”

13 He spent the night there, and from what he had with him he selected a gift for his brother Esau: 14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16 He put them in the care of his servants, each herd by itself, and said to his servants, “Go ahead of me, and keep some space between the herds.”

17 He instructed the one in the lead: “When my brother Esau meets you and asks, ‘Who do you belong to, and where are you going, and who owns all these animals in front of you?’ 18 then you are to say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau, and he is coming behind us.’”

19 He also instructed the second, the third and all the others who followed the herds: “You are to say the same thing to Esau when you meet him. 20 And be sure to say, ‘Your servant Jacob is coming behind us.’” For he thought, “I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.” 21 So Jacob’s gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp.

2 Corinthians 5:17 New International Version

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!

Ephesians 6:18 New International Version

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

What Does It Mean To Be Born Again


The Bible uses several metaphors involving birth to help explain what it means to have a saving relationship with Jesus. We find terms such as born again (John 3:3), born of God (John 1:13), and born of the Spirit (John 3:6). They all mean the same thing.

Birth metaphors are used because we all understand physical birth. When a baby is born, a new person emerges into the world. The new life will grow, and the young person will come to resemble his or her parents. When we are born of the Spirit, a “new person” arrives with a new spiritual life. And as we grow, we come to resemble our Father in heaven (Romans 8:29).

People try to know God through a variety of means: some try religion or following an ethical code; some turn to intellect or logic; others try to find God in nature; and others through emotional experiences, believing that God inhabits whatever feelings they can muster when they think about Him.

None of those bring us one step closer to actually communing with the God of the Bible because He cannot be known through our moral codes, our minds, our environment, or our emotions. He is Spirit, and those who would worship must worship “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).

Imagine trying to paint a portrait using a hammer and nails or trying to bake a meal using pen and paper. It would not help to try harder or cry over it because both tasks are impossible given the tools mentioned. So it is with the flesh and the Spirit.

We cannot commune with a holy, incorporeal Being using sinful, fleshly means. Unless our spirits are reborn with life from God’s Spirit, we simply do not have the capability to fellowship with Him. We must be born of the Spirit.

God has instituted a way for fallen human beings to enter His holy presence, and it is the only way we can come to Him. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

When Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice for sin (John 10:18) and rose again, He opened a door that had been locked. When He died on the cross, the veil of the temple was torn in two, symbolizing the fact that He has made a way to enter God’s presence. God has opened the door to heaven so that whoever trusts in His Son’s sacrifice can be born again in his or her spirit (Mark 15:38).

When we place our faith in the risen Christ, a divine transaction takes place (2 Corinthians 5:21). God removes from us the sin, guilt, and condemnation we deserved because of our rebellion against Him. He throws our sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).

At the moment of repentance and faith, the Holy Spirit breathes new life into us, and our bodies become His temple (1 Corinthians 3:16). Our spirits can now commune with God’s Spirit as He assures us that we belong to Him (Romans 8:16).

We might think of the human spirit like a deflated balloon that hangs lifeless inside our hearts. We are scarcely aware of its existence until God calls our names and an awakening begins.

When we respond to God’s call with repentance and faith in what Jesus Christ has done for salvation, we are born of the Spirit. At that point the balloon inflates. The Holy Spirit moves into our spirits and fills us. He begins His transforming work so that we begin to resemble Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17Romans 8:29).

There are only two types of people in the world: those who are born of the Spirit and those who are not. In the end, only those two categories matter (John 3:3). Our earthly lives are extended opportunities for us to respond to God’s call and become born of the Spirit (Hebrews 3:15).

If Jesus paid the price for our sin, why do we still suffer the consequences of our sin?

Sep 17, 2022 the_title_attributes by Percy Parakh

The Bible gives the good news that Jesus paid the price for our sin (Ephesians 1:7), yet in many ways we still suffer the consequences of our sins. For example, a drug dealer may become a Christian in prison, but that doesn’t mean he will be released from prison the next day—he will still experience the consequences of his past sin. A born-again Christian who falls into adultery may lose his family, his career, etc.—even after he confesses and forsakes his sin, the consequences of his sin remain. Coming to Christ does not erase the temporal effects of sin; rather, our salvation guarantees that we will not face the eternal consequences of sin.

The consequence of sin is death (Romans 6:23a). As sinners, we deserve to be eternally separated from God and His holiness. On the cross Christ paid the penalty of our sin with His own blood. He who knew no sin was made to be sin on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21). On the basis of Christ’s perfect sacrifice, those who believe are no longer under God’s condemnation (Romans 8:1).

It’s important to understand that, when the believer in Christ experiences consequences for sin, it is not because he is under God’s condemnation (Romans 8:1), His wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9), or His retribution (2 Thessalonians 1:8). Believers are under God’s grace (Romans 6:15). Jesus took the wrath of God upon Himself (Isaiah 53:10). Sin’s consequences still experienced by believers could be classified in one of these ways:

Universal consequences. Some of sin’s consequences are experienced perpetually by every human being on earth, because we are all children of Adam. We all have weeds growing in our gardens, we all face natural disasters, we all get sick and grow old, and we all eventually die physically (Romans 5:12). As sinners living in a sinful world, there’s no avoiding these consequences of original sin.

Natural consequences. We live in a world of cause and effect, where the law of sowing and reaping is in full effect. Some of sin’s consequences are built-in and practically guaranteed, no matter if the sinner is saved or unsaved. The Bible warns that sexual immorality is a sin committed against one’s own body (1 Corinthians 6:18). “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?” (Proverbs 6:27). If you steal something, you should expect to get caught and face the natural consequences that follow the sin of theft. If you resist arrest when you get caught, you pile on more consequences. Sowing and reaping.

Instructional consequences. Very likely, God allows some of sin’s consequences to remain in our lives to teach us the heinous nature of sin and to remind us to depend upon God’s grace. Sin is a serious enough problem for God to have sent His Son into the world to die. We dare not take sin lightly. In the face of sin’s consequences, we humble ourselves and seek God’s kingdom and righteousness all the more (see Matthew 6:33). When Ananias and Sapphira were disciplined for their sin, it was instructive for the church: “Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events” (Acts 5:11). See also 1 Corinthians 5:5 and 1 Timothy 1:20.

Disciplinary consequences. Some of sin’s consequences are the result of God’s treating us as a father should his children. There’s a difference between a penalty for sin and discipline for sin. As God’s children, we experience discipline designed to guide us back to the right path. “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son” (Hebrews 12:5–6; cf. Proverbs 3:11–12). Note how many of God’s children undergo discipline: “everyone” (Hebrews 12:8). We are all wayward at times. God’s purpose in allowing us to experience disciplinary consequences of sin, true to His nature, is perfect: “God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness” (Hebrews 12:10).

The church of Corinth provides an example of Christians facing the disciplinary consequences of their sin: in partaking of the Lord’s Table in an unworthy manner, they brought God’s displeasure: “That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 11:30). We see similar disciplinary action taken in 2 Samuel 12. Even after David confessed his sin and was forgiven, God allowed certain consequences to befall David and his household (verses 11–14).

God allows us to experience some of the temporal consequences of sin to show His love for us. If God never disciplined His straying children, He would not be a good Father. If we were never disciplined or never suffered the consequences for our wrong action, we would never learn right from wrong. We tend to learn from our mistakes more readily than we learn from our successes.

Praise the Lord for His goodness. He allows us to experience the temporal consequences of sin (for our own good). But He has saved us from the eternal consequences of sin. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins so we will never experience the second death, which is the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14). Believers in Christ are promised that the curse and consequences of sin will be completely removed one day, and “nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain” (Isaiah 11:9, NLT).

An Unexpected Choice – God Calls Abraham’s Family


Genesis 25:19-34 NIV

Jacob and Esau

19 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Isaac.

Abraham became the father of Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram[a] and sister of Laban the Aramean.

21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.

23 The Lord said to her,

“Two nations are in your womb,
    and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
    and the older will serve the younger.”

24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau.[b] 26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob.[c] Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.

27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. 28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.[d])

31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”

32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”

33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.

34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.

So Esau despised his birthright.

An Unexpected Choice (Notes – scriptures)

Genesis 25:1-11 New International Version

The Death of Abraham

25 Abraham had taken another wife, whose name was Keturah. 2 She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. 3 Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Ashurites, the Letushites and the Leummites. 4 The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanok, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah.

5 Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. 6 But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.

7 Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. 8 Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. 9 His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, 10 the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites.[a] There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah. 11 After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.

Genesis 17:4 New International Version

4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations.

Genesis 25:19-34 New International Version

Jacob and Esau

19 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Isaac. Abraham became the father of Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram[a] and sister of Laban the Aramean.

21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.

23 The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”

24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau.[b] 26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob.[c] Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.

27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. 28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.[d])

31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”

32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” 33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.

34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.

Genesis 24:15 New International Version

15 Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milkah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor.

Genesis 24:10 New International Version 10 Then the servant left, taking with him ten of his master’s camels loaded with all kinds of good things from his master. He set out for Aram Naharaim[a] and made his way to the town of Nahor

Proverbs 8, 9 Message Bible – Lady Wisdom Calls


Proverbs 8-9 The Message
Lady Wisdom Calls Out

8 1-11 Do you hear Lady Wisdom calling?
Can you hear Madame Insight raising her voice?
She’s taken her stand at First and Main,
at the busiest intersection.
Right in the city square
where the traffic is thickest, she shouts,
“You—I’m talking to all of you,
everyone out here on the streets!
Listen, you idiots—learn good sense!
You blockheads—shape up!
Don’t miss a word of this—I’m telling you how to live well,
I’m telling you how to live at your best.
My mouth chews and savors and relishes truth—
I can’t stand the taste of evil!
You’ll only hear true and right words from my mouth;
not one syllable will be twisted or skewed.
You’ll recognize this as true—you with open minds;
truth-ready minds will see it at once.
Prefer my life-disciplines over chasing after money,
and God-knowledge over a lucrative career.
For Wisdom is better than all the trappings of wealth;
nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.
“I am Lady Wisdom, and I live next to Sanity;
Knowledge and Discretion live just down the street.
The Fear-of-God means hating Evil,
whose ways I hate with a passion—
pride and arrogance and crooked talk.
Good counsel and common sense are my characteristics;
I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out.
With my help, leaders rule,
and lawmakers legislate fairly;
With my help, governors govern,
along with all in legitimate authority.
I love those who love me;
those who look for me find me.
Wealth and Glory accompany me—
also substantial Honor and a Good Name.
My benefits are worth more than a big salary, even a very big salary;
the returns on me exceed any imaginable bonus.
You can find me on Righteous Road—that’s where I walk—
at the intersection of Justice Avenue,
Handing out life to those who love me,
filling their arms with life—armloads of life!

22-31 “God sovereignly made me—the first, the basic—
before he did anything else.
I was brought into being a long time ago,
well before Earth got its start.
I arrived on the scene before Ocean,
yes, even before Springs and Rivers and Lakes.
Before Mountains were sculpted and Hills took shape,
I was already there, newborn;
Long before God stretched out Earth’s Horizons,
and tended to the minute details of Soil and Weather,
And set Sky firmly in place,
I was there.
When he mapped and gave borders to wild Ocean,
built the vast vault of Heaven,
and installed the fountains that fed Ocean,
When he drew a boundary for Sea,
posted a sign that said no trespassing
And then staked out Earth’s Foundations,
I was right there with him, making sure everything fit.
Day after day I was there, with my joyful applause,
always enjoying his company,
Delighted with the world of things and creatures,
happily celebrating the human family.

32-36 “So, my dear friends, listen carefully;
those who embrace these my ways are most blessed.
Mark a life of discipline and live wisely;
don’t squander your precious life.
Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me,
awake and ready for me each morning,
alert and responsive as I start my day’s work.
When you find me, you find life, real life,
to say nothing of God’s good pleasure.
But if you wrong me, you damage your very soul;
when you reject me, you’re flirting with death.”

Lady Wisdom Gives a Dinner Party
9 1-6 Lady Wisdom has built and furnished her home;
it’s supported by seven hewn timbers.
The banquet meal is ready to be served: lamb roasted,
wine poured out, table set with silver and flowers.
Having dismissed her serving maids,
Lady Wisdom goes to town, stands in a prominent place,
and invites everyone within sound of her voice:
“Are you confused about life, don’t know what’s going on?
Come with me, oh come, have dinner with me!
I’ve prepared a wonderful spread—fresh-baked bread,
roast lamb, carefully selected wines.
Leave your impoverished confusion and live!
Walk up the street to a life with meaning.”

* * *

7-12 If you reason with an arrogant cynic, you’ll get slapped in the face;
confront bad behavior and get a kick in the shins.
So don’t waste your time on a scoffer;
all you’ll get for your pains is abuse.
But if you correct those who care about life,
that’s different—they’ll love you for it!
Save your breath for the wise—they’ll be wiser for it;
tell good people what you know—they’ll profit from it.
Skilled living gets its start in the Fear-of-God,
insight into life from knowing a Holy God.
It’s through me, Lady Wisdom, that your life deepens,
and the years of your life ripen.
Live wisely and wisdom will permeate your life;
mock life and life will mock you.

Madame Prostitute Calls Out, Too
13-18 Then there’s this other woman, Madame Prostitute—
brazen, empty-headed, frivolous.
She sits on the front porch
of her house on Main Street,
And as people walk by minding
their own business, calls out,
“Are you confused about life, don’t know what’s going on?
Steal off with me, I’ll show you a good time!
No one will ever know—I’ll give you the time of your life.”
But they don’t know about all the skeletons in her closet,
that all her guests end up in hell.

Confronting The Toxic Power In Me


I(Jamin) can still see their faces. Every Wednesday night we gathered in a living room, and about 40 high school students fixed their attention on me as I taught on a passage of Scripture. I was in seminary at the time, so my teaching was infused with a unique brand of arrogance that comes from the rare opportunity to immediately speak authoritatively about things you just learned for the first time yourself.

It wasn’t a church sanctuary filled with 3,000 people, but it might as well have been. I can remember feeling powerful in that room. As I wielded my gifts and abilities, I received adoration and respect. The constant affirmations by well-meaning brothers and sisters in Christ didn’t help curb the pride growing within me. Each affirmation was like a puff of air stoking the flames of the early embers of grandiosity smoldering in my heart. I can still remember them: “You’re wise beyond your years,” “You’re a uniquely gifted communicator,” “You’re going to be a senior pastor one day.”

These stories often go unreported. Only the pastors with notoriety and status make headlines. In recent months, the primary story making headlines regards Bill Hybels, the former senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. I (Kyle) became a Christian at Willow Creek, and my young faith was fostered in that place.

The stories of sexual misconduct are painful and grievous to me in a very personal way. As I witness the resignation of the elder board and the exodus of senior leadership, I can only pray and grieve for the people of Willow Creek for the days ahead. But this is not a new story. We’re all well aware of other high-profile pastors who, in recent years, have made headlines for the wrong reasons.

For many years, when stories like this surfaced we would often respond with swift judgment. Not just judgment of the individuals caught in sin, but judgment of the megachurch model. It was an easy turn to make. We decried the vices of pastoral celebrity and dictatorial authority that seemed so endemic in ecclesial settings. To be sure, pastoral idolatry and totalitarian forms of leadership have no place in the church of Jesus Christ. Yet this move to judgment was especially easy because it allowed us to avoid the caldron of toxic power brewing in our own souls.

In our early years of ministry, the Lord began to show us the problem of power wasn’t just “out there,” at those megachurches and in those celebrity pastors. It was “in here,” within our own hearts. It turned out I (Jamin) was just as tempted to wield my talents and abilities to wow the crowd in my youth group of 40 students as a celebrity pastor on video screens at multiple venues.

Toxic power is not bigoted; it cuts across all socioeconomic, racial, and denominational lines. It does not focus its attention only on obviously powerful pastors. It is an equal opportunist. It crouches at the door of every church, regardless of Sunday morning attendance. If you are a pastor, you will be tempted to embrace toxic forms of power in ministry.My teaching was infused with a unique brand of arrogance that comes from the rare opportunity to immediately speak authoritatively about things you just learned for the first time yourself.

You might fall prey to the false belief that the solution to this problem is to eschew power altogether. But this would be a rejection of our vocation. The Christian life is a call to power (2 Cor. 12:9–10), and more specifically, God has vested the pastoral office with authority. Power isn’t the problem, but not all power is created equal.

The problem in the church concerns toxic forms of power. Toxic power is power in strength for the sake of control. It is power grounded in pride and autonomy, and wielded for the sake of control, coercion, or domination. Toxic power is the way of the world, the flesh, and the devil (James 3:13–18), and as such is opposed to the power of the cross.

While toxic power is surely a dangerous and corrosive agent in the church, there is another form of power we are called to embrace. Kingdom power is power in weakness for the sake of love. It is power grounded in humble dependence upon God and wielded in service and blessing. This is the power modeled by Christ. Therefore the cross defines kingdom power, and as such the world deems it foolish and weak (1 Cor. 1:18).

It is easy to point fingers at “fallen pastors” as icons of toxic power, but the story is far more complex and nuanced than the salacious headlines suggest. Toxic power isn’t only at work through explicit and demonstrative forms of failure or abuse in ministry. More often toxic power is content to be the hidden leaven in the lump of bread (Luke 12:1).

It shows up in a myriad of subtle, yet destructive ways in pastoral life. Toxic power shows up when we leverage our personality or intelligence in preaching to generate an artificial response in our congregants. It shows up in our vision casting, when guilt and shame are the primary motivators we appeal to in order to get people engaged.

We see toxic power at work when we relate to people in our congregation as resources to use in accomplishing our goals, rather than as people to love. It is on display when we tailor our ministerial vocation to our personal strengths in order to hide areas of weakness from congregants.

Toxic power is at work when our evangelism strategy is to reach the powerful, influential, and wealthy in the community, rather than the weak, marginalized, and poor. We see it when our tools for ministry are not primarily Scripture, prayer, and faithful presence, but are instead worldly business practices and techniques.

I (Kyle) have seen in my own heart the temptation to craft my preaching style as a way to cover my weaknesses and play to my strengths, fearing to show any element of vulnerability. I did this not because I thought God was calling me to do so, but because it was an assumed cultural norm. People need an example to look up to, I thought, so it’s my duty to appear as polished as possible.

Preaching style can become akin to choosing the best possible photo for your profile picture on Twitter, meant to highlight what you want highlighted and to hide everything else. I was using the pulpit to wield a kind of power that was antithetical to the gospel, yet in my mind it was all being done to the glory of God. I liked the idea of “power in weakness for the sake of love,” but at the end of the day, I preached in the hope that power was ultimately found in my strength to control my destiny.

These are the stories that must be told. We must be wary of the temptation to gather around the bonfire of social media outrage over the most recent celebrity pastor to fall from grace, as a means of minimizing or avoiding the fire ablaze in our own hearts. To be sure, the headline stories of power mongers who domineer and abuse in the church are deeply troubling and ought to be lamented.

Yet they should also serve as occasions to open our hearts to the truth of our own temptations toward power. Perhaps we have not committed the obvious “pastoral sins” of adultery or stealing money, but we all, at times, have wielded power in strength for the sake of control. Therefore in recognizing our desire to embrace toxic power, our first response should be repentance.

As Peter told Simon the Magician, who sought the power of the Holy Spirit for his own purposes, “Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you” (Acts 8:22, ESV).

If we desire to become the kind of pastors who seek the way from above, the way of power in weakness for the sake of love, there are a few practices that can help us participate in the Spirit’s work.

First, we must cultivate the habit of honesty in prayer. Repentance of toxic power is not a one-time prayer, but must be an ongoing conversation with God throughout our lives. For those in a position of leadership or influence, the temptation toward toxic power will always lurk right around the corner.

Second, we must commit to practicing honesty with others in regards to our temptations with power. Real vulnerability is required. It is imperative that we not only have conversations about power fellow pastors, but that we also do so in appropriate ways with people in our congregations.

Power in strength for control is a temptation faced by the whole body of Christ. When we are vulnerable and speak honestly about our temptations with power it will pave the way for a much-needed ongoing conversation between pastors and congregations.

We need to be known by God and others in truth. As we open our hearts before God and in relationship with others, we are invited to stay present to our weakness and frailty. It is here that we come to know kingdom power in our vocation as pastors. It is here that Christ declares, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).

Jamin Goggin is a pastor at Mission Hills Church in San Marcos, California.

Kyle Strobel teaches spiritual theology for Talbot’s Institute for Spiritual Formation and is on the preaching team at Redeemer Church, La Mirada, California.

Jamin and Kyle’s journey to understand pastors’ temptations to embrace worldly power can be found in The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb (Thomas Nelson, 2017).

Unbroken Promises – God Calls Abraham’s Family

Genesis 12:1-5, 7 NIV

The Call of Abram

12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.[a]
I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.”[b]

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring[a] I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.

Genesis 15:1-7 NIV

The Lord’s Covenant With Abram

15 After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:

“Do not be afraid, Abram.
    I am your shield,[a]
    your very great reward.[b]

But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit[c] my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”

Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring[d] be.”

Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”

Unbroken Promises (NOTES)

Joshua 21:45 New International Version

45 Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

Joshua 23:14 New International Version

14 “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.

Philippians 1:6 New International Version

6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Numbers 23:19 King James Version

19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Jeremiah 29:11 King James Version

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Genesis 3:15 King James Version

15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Genesis 6:6 King James Version

6 And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

Genesis 15:7 New International Version

7 He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”

Nehemiah 9:7 New International Version

7 “You are the Lord God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham.

1 John 2:15 King James Version

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Genesis 12:10 New International Version

Abram in Egypt

10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.

Genesis 12:14 New International Version

14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman.

Genesis 12:1-3 New International Version

The Call of Abram

12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.[a]

3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;

and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”[b]

Romans 4:3 New International Version

3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[a]

Galatians 3:6 New International Version

6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[a]

James 2:23 New International Version

23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[a] and he was called God’s friend

Genesis 15:8-21 New International Version

8 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”

9 So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”

10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.

12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there.

14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi[a] of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”

All Things Work Together For Good!

Sep 3, 2022 the_title_attributes by Percy Parakh

💫 ❤️ His Good Purpose 💖

🌞 Randy Alcorn, in a book he has co-authored with his wife Nanci, offers some insights. He quotes the NAS translation of verse Romans 8:28 : “God causes all things to work together for good.” Randy points out that it doesn’t say each individual thing is good, but that God works them together for good.

🙇‍♀️ Recalling his boyhood days, Randy tells how he often watched his mother bake cakes. One day when she had all the ingredients set out — flour, sugar, baking powder, raw egg, vanilla — he sneaked a taste of each one. Except for the sugar, they all tasted horrible. Then his mother stirred them together and put the batter in the oven.

🙇‍♂️ “It didn’t make sense to me,” he recalls, “that the combination of individually distasteful things produced such a tasty product.” Randy concludes that God likewise “takes all the undesirable stresses in our lives, mixes them together, puts them under the heat of crisis, and produces a perfect result.” Let’s look beyond our immediate circumstances and remember that God has an ultimate good purpose. — Joanie E Yoder

Though I do not know the reason,
I can trust, and so am blest;
God is love, and God is faithful,
So in perfect peace I rest. — Anon.

The growth we gain from waiting on God is often greater than the answer or result we desire.

🎊 Stay Blessed My Friend 😊 🌹

The Seven Churches Of Revelation


Revelation 2 NIV

To the Church in Ephesus

“To the angel[a] of the church in Ephesus write:

These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

To the Church in Smyrna

“To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:

These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.

11 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.

To the Church in Pergamum

12 “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:

These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. 13 I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.

14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. 15 Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

17 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.

To the Church in Thyatira

18 “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:

These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.

20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.

24 Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, 25 except to hold on to what you have until I come.’

26 To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— 27 that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’[b]—just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give that one the morning star. 29 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

To the Church in Sardis

“To the angel[a] of the church in Sardis write:

These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits[b] of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

To the Church in Philadelphia

“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:

These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. 13 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

To the Church in Laodicea

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

No Better Refreshment – The Great Hope Of The Saints

Revelation 21:1-7 NIV

A New Heaven and a New Earth

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

Genesis 3:15 New International Version

15 And I will put enmity  between you and the woman and between your offspring[a] and hers; he will crush[b] your head, and you will strike his heel.”

Revelation 21:22-27 New International Version

22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.

24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.

26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Genesis 2:10 New International Version

10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters.

Ezekiel 47:1-12 New International Version

The River From the Temple

47 The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. 2 He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was trickling from the south side.

3 As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits[a] and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. 4 He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. 5 He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. 6 He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?”

Then he led me back to the bank of the river. 7 When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. 8 He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah,[b] where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. 9 Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. 10 Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Mediterranean Sea. 11 But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. 12 Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”

Genesis 3:14-19 New International Version

14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,

“Cursed are you above all livestock

    and all wild animals!

You will crawl on your belly

    and you will eat dust

    all the days of your life.

15 And I will put enmity

    between you and the woman,

    and between your offspring[a] and hers;

he will crush[b] your head,

    and you will strike his heel.”

16 To the woman he said,

“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;

    with painful labor you will give birth to children.

Your desire will be for your husband,

    and he will rule over you.”

17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you;

    through painful toil you will eat food from it

    all the days of your life.

18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,

    and you will eat the plants of the field.

19 By the sweat of your brow

    you will eat your food

until you return to the ground,

    since from it you were taken;

for dust you are

    and to dust you will return.”

Revelation 1:3 New International Version

3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

Revelation 14:13 New International Version

13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”

Revelation 16:15 New International Version

15 “Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.”

Revelation 19:9 New International Version

9 Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

Revelation 20:6 New International Version

6 Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

Revelation 22:7 New International Version

7 “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.”

Revelation 22:14 New International Version

14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.


May The God Of Hope Fill You With All Joy and Peace


💫 ❤️ Health-giving Hope 💖

🌞 It is well-known that our emotions can have a profound effect on our bodies. And the condition of our bodies can affect our emotions. For example, a 1997 article in the journal published by the American Heart Association points to the negative physical consequences of hopelessness. It essentially said that those who had experienced extreme feelings of despair had a 20-percent greater increase in arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) over a 4-year period. Other studies have also connected hopelessness with heart disease, heart attacks, and death.

🙇‍♀️ The relationship between one’s emotional well-being and physical condition, however, is not a modern discovery. In the Old Testament book of Proverbs, we read that “a merry heart does good, like medicine”, and that the wisdom found in God’s words “are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh.”

🙇‍♂️ 🙇‍♂️ A proper relationship to God and His Word can benefit us spiritually, physically, and emotionally. The central concern of the gospel is to bring us into a right relationship with God through faith in Him. Its blessed byproduct is an abundant life filled with health-promoting hope — the assurance of total forgiveness of our weaknesses and eternal life with Him. — Vernon C. Grounds

The hope we have in God
Brings joy into our heart;
And when we know the love of God,
His peace He will impart. — Spergeon

Hope in the heart puts a smile on the face.

🎊 Stay Blessed My Friend 😊 🌹

The Best Things In Life Are Not Things


💫 The Best Things In Life 💖

🌞 An old adage says, “The best things in life are free.” There’s a lot of truth in that. Some people, however, believe that the best things in life are expensive or perhaps elusive. Recently I saw a sign that made me smile and think. It said, “The best things in life are not things.” What a great way to say it ! The value of family, friends, and faith points us to the realization that what matters most in life is all wrapped up in people and the Lord.

🙇‍♀️ King Solomon was well qualified to speak about material things because he “surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom”. His advice ? — “Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease ! Will you set your eyes on that which is not ?” Few things are less secure than money. We work hard to earn it, yet there are many ways to lose it. Even if we manage to keep our money, the time we have to spend it continually flies. Blink, and your life is going, going, gone.

🙇‍♂️ 🙇‍♂️ What to do? God tells us : “always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” The best things in life are the eternal riches that come from God’s goodness and grace. We do not hold them in our hands, but in our hearts. Invest your life in Him; He alone will keep you forever. — Compiled

The treasures of earth are not mine,
I hold not its silver and gold;
But a treasure far greater is mine;
I have riches of value untold. – Hartzler

Our greatest riches are the riches we have in the Heavenly Father.

🎊 Stay Blessed My Friend 😊 🌹

No Place Like It – The Great Hope Of The Saints


Revelation 21:10-21 NIV

10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 

12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 

14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia[a] in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 

17 The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits[b] thick.[c] 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 

19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.[d] 

21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.

Philippians 3:20 New International Version

20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

1 Peter 2:11-12 New International Version

Living Godly Lives in a Pagan Society

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

1 John 2:15-17 New International Version

On Not Loving the World

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[a] is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Exodus 28:17-20 New International Version

17 Then mount four rows of precious stones on it. The first row shall be carnelian, chrysolite and beryl; 18 the second row shall be turquoise, lapis lazuli and emerald; 19 the third row shall be jacinth, agate and amethyst; 20 the fourth row shall be topaz, onyx and jasper.[a] Mount them in gold filigree settings.

Scriptures On Repentance


SCRIPTURES ON REPENTANCE

Mar 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Mat 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Act 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Act 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;

Act 8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

Act 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every

Mar 6:12 And they went out, and preached that men should repent.

Act 26:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

Rev 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

Rev 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

Rev 2:21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

Rev 2:22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

Rev 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

Rev 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Mat 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

Mar 2:17 When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Luk 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

Luk 5:32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Luk 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Luk 24:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Act 5:31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

Act 11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

Act 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

Act 26:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. Rom 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

2Co 7:9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.

2Co 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

2Ti 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

Heb 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

Heb 12:17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

The Only Way To Win It Is To Loose It

Aug 15, 2022 the_title_attributes by Percy Parakh

“The only way to gain your life is to give it up. The only way to win it is to lose it.” | Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth #BrokennessBook

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” | Matthew 16:24-28

No More Tears – The Great Hope Of The Saints

Aug 9, 2022 the_title_attributes by Percy Parakh

Revelation 21:1-9 NIV

A New Heaven and a New Earth

21 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

The New Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”

Matthew 24:8 Amplified Bible

But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs [of the intolerable anguish and the time of unprecedented trouble].

Matthew 24:13 King James Version

13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

2 Timothy 2:8-13 King James Version

8 Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:

9 Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.

10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:

12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:

13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

Revelation 2:10 King James Version

10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

Revelation 21:4 King James Version

4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Numbers 23:19 King James Version

19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Revelation 2:11-19 King James Version

11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;

13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.

16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;

19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.

Romans 8:20-22 King James Version

20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,

21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

Genesis 3:15 King James Version

15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Revelation 20:10-15 King James Version

10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

2 Peter 3:10-13 King James Version

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

Leviticus 26:11-12 King James Version

11 And I set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.

12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.

Exodus 40:34-35 King James Version

34 Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

35 And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

1 Kings 8:10-11 King James Version

10 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord,

11 So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.

1 John 5:4-5 King James Version

4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

The Characteristics Of The Holy Spirit


Ephesians 4:30 NIV

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Romans 8:11 NIV

11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of[a] his Spirit who lives in you.

1 Peter 1:2 NIV

who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:

Isaiah 57:15 NIV

15 For this is what the high and exalted One says—
    he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place,
    but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
    and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Zechariah 4:6-9 NIV

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.

“What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’”

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you.

Galatians 5:22-23 NIV

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Jelly Fish Christianity


It was a rousing mid-sermon rebuke — the kind to make you sit up in your pew.

“Jesus, being made perfect,” the preacher continued, “became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him. And this Jesus, was, of course, designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. . . .”

The congregation doesn’t hide puzzled expressions. He pauses.

Melchize-who? Their sleepy faces wondered.

“Order of Melchizedek. . . .

. . . The King of Salem . . . “King of Righteousness”?

. . . Priest of the Most High who blesses Abram?

. . . In whose line the Messiah will serve as priest forever?

Maybe if he said, “Order of the Phoenix,” some might have recollected better, but “Melkitsadek” garnered little familiarity.

At this, he departs from his manuscript, walks around his pulpit, and looks them in the eye:

About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food. (Hebrews 5:11–14)

These grown men and women, Christians for some time now, started off well (Hebrews 10:32–34), yet still needed doctrinal milk, and not solid food. Although by now they should have been sharp on how the Christian should read the Old Testament, their dull ears (literally “sluggish”) made them perpetual students taking the same courses over and over. The author of Hebrews expected them to uncover Messianic treasures, pointing irreversibly to Jesus, in the deeps of God’s word; instead, they were still treading water on the surface.

Believers on the Bottle

Do texts like Hebrews 5:11–14 not vindicate for all time the careful study of God’s word, a hearty adherence to the whole counsel of God, a glad obedience to the fullness of its teaching? If the specifics of an enigmatic figure in Genesis 14 and Psalm 110 — one who many today might be tempted to deem obscure or irrelevant — has its proper place in the Christian mind, how much more the more conspicuous points?

Yet how many small groups or Sunday schools or Bible studies around the Western world today know much (if anything) about Psalm 110:4 and the priestly order of Melchizedek? Of its significance compared to the Aaronic order? The question grows sharpest, however, when we ask, How many want to know? How many of us, through disobedience and stagnancy, become “dull of hearing”?

Some modern minds seem to enshrine ignorance of finer points of Christian thought and doctrine as a Christian virtue. Particulars of Christian dogma they see as only useful to fracture, puff up, or make one useless in this world. Seminaries, in their view, are better called “cemeteries,” for higher education is where passion and love go to die.

God’s truth — that stubborn and imperishable reality that shall outlive the stars — has fallen on hard times with them. They do not wish to draw unwelcome lines, and what’s more, they believe this to be a very charitable and beautiful thing in the world. They seem altogether proud of their non-denominational, non-doctrinal, non-distinctive, and non-divisive faith. This, they say, is Christianity at its finest. Death, they cry, to circling round and round in endless debate over texts and theological jargon. Back to what Jesus gave us: a religion of love.

So much fighting exists already; they preach unity. Everywhere they see bitterness and rage; why should they argue? The most expedient thing to do, in a world of conflicting opinions — especially about religion — is to cast particularities of Christian interpretation, and in some cases, religion itself, overboard.

Lovers of First Grade

“Carried away by a fancied liberality and charity,” J.C. Ryle wrote in 1877, “they seem to think everybody is right and nobody is wrong, every clergyman is sound and none are unsound, everybody is going to be saved and nobody going to be lost. Their religion is made up of negatives; and the only positive thing about them is that they dislike distinctness and think all extreme and decided and positive views are very naughty and very wrong!” (Holiness, 278).

What it means that God predestines unto salvation, that Christ is the only way, that you must be born again, that by works of the law none will be justified, that God’s design entails differences between men and women — seem so small from their lofty perch. Faintly they hear the combatant chirping over particular views, but what is that to them? Catholic, Protestant, “spiritual, but not religious” — they see nothing really all that different in the end. Different shades of gray, they might call it.

They love doctrinal milk, love the first grade. Their vague creed of love sends them away from controversy, away from laborious study, away from loving God with “all their mind,” away from such “trivialities” as the order of Melchizedek, indeed, away from the Bible itself, beyond a favorite verse or two. And some take this to be more Christlike because it fosters unity better, or it is thought, than a religion filled with doctrinal detail.

Good Vibes Christianity

Christian teaching does divide. It separates “self-made religion” from heavenly, all other gospels from the true one, the proud from the humble, the false from the true, the goats from the sheep, the unsound from the sound, the passing away from the eternal, the teachings of demons and the teachings of Christ.

“Christian teaching separates the goats from the sheep, the unsound from the sound, the passing away from the eternal.”

Christians ought to be Berean, lovers of God’s word, lovers of steak. What is true of the nobler Jew has been true of the noble Christian throughout history: “they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

But what of our unity? It is precious, “good and pleasant” (Psalm 133:1), a gift from above not based on vague spiritualism or good vibes; real unity does not seek to discover how little can be believed. No, we embrace and teach and love the whole counsel of God. Love for others is nourished by doctrinal meat; by Scripture, all of Scripture — without abridgment or apology. As we confess in the Desiring God Affirmation of Faith, “Our aim is to encourage a hearty adherence to the Bible, the fullness of its truth, and the glory of its Author” (15.2). This alone “stabilizes saints in the winds of confusion and strengthens the church in her mission to meet the great systems of false religion and secularism.”

We will not agree to a man on every point; some distinctions will separate some of us from the particulars of weekly fellowship. But even then, as the Church, our superseding oneness in Christ makes our unity stronger than it ever could have been in untruth, error, and apathy, in clawing for the least common denominator, rather than turning our souls to God’s word as supreme, and then finding who are our fellows.

Need of the Hour

Our souls need more than little-truth, little-light, little-belief. Our souls need a feast of pure meat and holy potatoes to gird us up for life’s hardships. Milk-and-water theological minimalism may sustain infants, but not for long.

“Our souls need more than little-truth, little-light, little-belief.”

“We must charge home into the consciences of these men of broad views,” as Ryle put it, “and demand a plain answer to some plain questions. We must ask them to lay their hands on their hearts, and tell us whether their favorite opinions comfort them in the day of sickness, in the hour of death, by the bedside of dying parents, by the grave of beloved wife or child. We must ask them whether a vague earnestness, without definite doctrine, gives them peace at seasons like these” (31).

And our neighbors, coworkers, and family members need to be met with weighty-truths, broad-shouldered beliefs, and a living faith in the living Savior. All of which give us reason to smile, not frown.

What Ryle calls that spiritual “colorblindness” that “fancied liberality,” that “boneless, nerveless, jellyfish condition of soul,” that “pestilence which walks in darkness . . . a destruction that kills at noonday” (328) — cannot be the religion that turned the world upside down.

Mark what I say. If you want to do good in these times, you must throw aside indecision, and take up a distinct, sharply-cut, doctrinal religion. . . . The victories of Christianity, wherever they have been won, have been won by distinct doctrinal theology; by telling men roundly of Christ’s vicarious death and sacrifice; by showing them Christ’s substitution on the cross, and his precious blood; by teaching them justification by faith, and bidding them believe on a crucified Savior; by preaching ruin by sin, redemption by Christ, regeneration by the Spirit; by lifting up the brazen serpent; by telling men to look and live — to believe, repent, and be converted. (328)

Dare then, Christian, to have decided beliefs in this world. Satan and his demons are decided. The world is concrete in its creed. False teachers are bold in their belief. Those attempting to uncreate God’s reality are firmly concluded. Will we not be?

And in such courage, we will not find ourselves alone but flanked — by real fellows, with whom we will then taste true unity.Greg Morse is a staff writer for desiringGod.org and graduate of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He and his wife, Abigail, live in St. Paul with their son and daughter.

A digest from Desiring God

Present Forever – The Word: The Agent Of Creation

Aug 3, 2022 the_title_attributes by Percy Parakh

John 14:15-29 NIV

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[a] in you. 

18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 

21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.

How Much Should Doctrine Divide Us


On the night before he died, as Jesus looked at his twelve men and, beyond them, the billions who one day would follow him, he prayed for a oneness that would make the world take notice: “[I ask] that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you” (John 17:21). Father, take Jews and Gentiles, men and women, old and young, and make them one. Heaven-sent unity was his great prayer for us.

And yet, just moments earlier, he voiced another request that gives Christian unity a tension and a tang: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Father, take these disciples, and bind them by your word. Spirit-given truth was also his great prayer for us.

Jesus wants his church to be one, and to be wise. He wants us to love all his people, and to treasure all his word. He wants us to offer an earthly illustration of Trinitarian unity, and an earthly witness to Trinitarian truth.

Few Christians and churches naturally maintain a balanced grasp on both prayers; on our own, we tend to drift toward a “unity” that erodes truth, or a “truth” that destroys unity. And so, we often need recalibrating: our inner ecumenist needs more backbone; our inner watchdog needs less bite.

To that end, one ancient tool, rearticulated and clarified in recent decades, may help: theological triage.

What Is Theological Triage?

Theological triage — a term coined by Albert Mohler in 2005 — seeks to organize Christian truth on different tiers, ranging from essential doctrines to more peripheral teachings. In a helpful recent book, for example, Gavin Ortlund offers the following fourfold model:

  • First-rank doctrines are essential to the gospel itself.
  • Second-rank doctrines are urgent for the health and practice of the church such that they frequently cause Christians to separate at the level of local church, denomination, and/or ministry.
  • Third-rank doctrines are important to Christian theology but not enough to justify separation or division among Christians.
  • Fourth-rank doctrines are unimportant to our gospel witness and ministry collaboration. (Finding the Right Hills to Die On, 19)

Rightly handled, theological triage does not justify indifference to doctrines below the first tier. All Scripture carries God’s breath (2 Timothy 3:16), and so, when Jesus prayed that we would be sanctified “in the truth,” he meant all of it — every iota (Matthew 5:18).

Nevertheless, Scripture itself treats some doctrines as more foundational than others, and theological triage seeks to follow suit. As Jesus spoke of “weightier matters of the law” (Matthew 23:23), and as Paul spoke of the gospel as “of first importance” (1 Corinthians 15:3), so theological triage seeks to differentiate the weightiest, most important doctrines from those with less urgency. (Hence Mohler’s triage image: ER doctors treat gunshot wounds differently from sprained ankles.)

The main benefit, as we’ll see, is balance and wisdom in our pursuit of unity. We don’t minimize mountains, and we don’t magnify molehills.

Science and Art

As in a medical context, the process of triage is often complex. We will not always discern immediately whether a doctrine fits on the first tier (dividing Christians from non-Christians), the second tier (dividing local churches, denominations, or ministries), or the third tier (dividing nothing). Triage is both science and art; it requires both intellectual perception and spiritual wisdom; it runs on both careful judgment and godly instinct.

“Triage is both science and art; it runs on both careful judgment and godly instinct.”

The same doctrine, for example, may fit into a different category depending on the situation. As Ortlund observes, the issue of spiritual gifts sometimes fits on the second tier — but not always. Currently, a convinced cessationist gladly worships in the continuationist church where I serve.

Cultural or missiological contexts also influence the practice of triage. New churches on unreached frontiers, along with some missionary teams, may lower some typical second-tier doctrines to the third tier. In America, a church’s elders might limit membership to those who have been baptized as believers; in Afghanistan, the elders might not, or might not yet (and wisely so).

At times, even evaluating first-tier disagreements calls for wisdom. One person may reject justification by faith because he doesn’t understand it; another may reject the doctrine because he understands and hates it. The first situation calls for careful teaching and further evaluation, while the second does not.

More complexities could be mentioned (see Joe Rigney’s article “How to Weigh Doctrines for Christian Unity”), but these suffice to show the need for humility, patience, and collective wisdom rather than individual reflex. We read of a plurality of local-church elders in the New Testament, and for good reason. Theological triage happens best in a group of spiritually discerning pastors, men who have their eyes on the flock and are wise to the needs, dangers, and opportunities of their local context.

Just as ER doctors need more than medical knowledge to practice triage well, a church’s elders need more than scriptural knowledge to do the same. They need to know not only the canon of Scripture, but also the case before them and the context around them. They need to ask, “All things considered, is this doctrine worth dividing over now?”

Three Triage Tests

In his book When Doctrine Divides the People of God, Rhyne Putman offers three tests to aid the discernment process (220–39):

  • The hermeneutical test: the clearer the Bible teaches a doctrine, the more likely it belongs on a higher tier.
  • The gospel test: the more central a doctrine is to the gospel, the more likely it belongs on a higher tier.
  • The praxis test: the more a doctrine affects the practice of a church, the more likely it belongs on a higher tier.

These three tests won’t answer every question, but they do offer a start. Consider where some common doctrines fall after running them through hermeneutics, gospel, and praxis:

  • Doctrines like the deity of Christ and the Trinity (clear hermeneutically and central to the gospel) belong on the first tier.
  • Doctrines related to baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the callings of men and women (less clear hermeneutically, but still near the gospel and shaping a church’s praxis) typically belong on the second tier.
  • Doctrines like the age of the earth or the nature and timing of Christ’s millennial reign (less clear hermeneutically, less connected to the gospel, and less important for a church’s praxis) typically belong on the third tier.

Again, however, each category admits of complexity, requiring churches to practice triage in light of individual cases and their broader context.

Why Practice Theological Triage?

If theological triage involves such complexity, why practice it? Because, in all likelihood, only a habit like this one will keep our heartbeats in rhythm with Jesus’s John 17 prayer. Only as we distinguish doctrines will we learn to avoid the dangers of theological maximalism, theological minimalism, and what we might call unconscious triage.

THEOLOGICAL MAXIMALISM

Theological maximalists, or theological sectarians, may differentiate doctrine to a degree — they may not equate Christ’s deity and a church’s form of government, for example. But they tend to raise third-tier doctrines to the second tier, and second-tier doctrines to the first tier. And in so doing, they often separate when they should tolerate, divide when they should bear with. Afraid of wolves, they attack other sheep.

Maximalists rightly sense that protecting sound doctrine sometimes calls for strong words; like Jude, they “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” But as Ortlund points out, they do not necessarily share Jude’s eagerness to celebrate “our common salvation” (Jude 3). And so, failing to distinguish the weightiest from the less weighty, they can end up cutting at the limbs of Christ’s body.

THEOLOGICAL MINIMALISM

Theological minimalists also struggle to speak of “weightier matters” — not, however, because they raise so many doctrines to the higher tiers, but because they raise so few there. If pressed, they may agree that an anti-Trinitarian cannot be a Christian, but only if pressed. On their own, minimalists tend to lower first-tier doctrines to the second tier, and second-tier doctrines to the third tier. And in so doing, they often say, “Unity! Unity!” when there is no unity (Jeremiah 6:148:11).

“True unity requires an immovable core of conviction; otherwise, what are we even uniting around?”

Minimalists seek to embody the seventh beatitude — “Blessed are the peacemakers” — but they rarely or never take stands strong enough to embody the eighth: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:10–11). They struggle to see that true peace, true unity, requires an immovable (and sometimes offensive) core of conviction; otherwise, what are we even uniting around?

UNCONSCIOUS TRIAGE

Perhaps the best reason to practice theological triage, however, is because we already functionally do. We can’t help but treat some doctrines as weightier than others. And unless we have carefully considered which doctrines really are weightier, our approach to triage likely will be shaped less by Scripture and more by a mixture of personality, background, and whim.

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for “straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel” (Matthew 23:24), and many of us, though less hypocritical, need to hear the same warning. Naturally, we are peculiarly attuned to some gnats and strangely dense to some camels: some vehemently contend for a young or old earth but breeze past justification; some attack complementarians or egalitarians as Athanasius attacked Arius, but dismiss Trinitarian controversies with a wave. We cannot abide the gnat in our stew, but we can stomach the camel in our meatloaf.

Theological triage, then, helps us weigh not only doctrines, but ourselves. It exposes our own besetting tendencies, and it invites us to recalibrate our unconscious models according to Scripture’s own example.

Loving Unity, Treasuring Truth

How will we know if we are growing to weigh doctrines as God himself does?

Those who tend toward theological maximalism will find themselves enduring disagreements when they would have broken fellowship beforehand; those who tend toward theological minimalism will find themselves ruffling more feathers than none. Maximalists will not treat second- and third-tier doctrines as unimportant, but they will learn to lower their voice when they talk about them; minimalists, meanwhile, will not roll their eyes when they see a brother or sister contending for precious truth. Minimalists will learn to fight more; maximalists will learn to fight themselves more.

And all of us, wherever we naturally tend, will hear ourselves praying more often, “Father, make us one” — then, in the next breath, “and bind us by your truth.”Scott Hubbard is an editor for Desiring God, a pastor at All Peoples Church, and a graduate of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He and his wife, Bethany, live with their two sons in Minneapolis.