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A really good and important question comes to us today from an anonymous husband. “Dear Pastor John, I have been following your podcast ‘religiously’ for the past six months. As a backsliding believer it has played a significant role in bringing me back to God and to serving him, albeit in much weakness and stumbling. I am ever thankful. My marriage has suffered much due to me neglecting my wife in many ways over the past 22 years of our marriage. Currently it is teetering on the brink of collapse and it has reached the point where it is completely at God’s mercy and is proving to be the biggest struggle in my rekindled newfound faith and relationship with God. I wake up many mornings despairing that my marriage is beyond repair and I struggle to rejoice in the new mercies that the new morning is bringing to me. My wife has given up on me and I cannot blame her. My question is this: How is marriage, like mine, which is so hard to pull off, a model of Christ’s covenant love for his church? Can a hard marriage model Christ, or only easier ones?”

How Can My Difficult Marriage Glorify Christ?First, welcome back. Welcome home to Jesus. And I have prayed that, even though it feels hopeless, it won’t be hopeless. That is my prayer. Let me read the text that he is assuming; namely. Ephesians 5:22–26 about marriage as the picture or the model of Christ and the church that he is concerned about.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.

And then, just about five verses later, he puts the twist on it: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” — that is a quote from Genesis 2:24. “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” So, marriage is designed by God to be a parable or a drama or picture of the covenant love between Christ and the church, the bride of Christ.

Now, I wonder if he really means to ask the question in just this way. He says, “Can a hard marriage model Christ, or only easier ones?” Well, the answer to that is easy. Yes. Whether a marriage is easy or hard is not what undermines the testimony to the world about Christ and his church. There are plenty of stresses between Christ and the church, and it is all the church’s fault, not Christ’s. What communicates something false about Christ and his church is when a marriage covenant is treated as broken, because the covenant between Christ and his church is never broken.

Hard, hard marriages that persevere in faithfulness, year in and year out, against all odds, tell a great truth about Christ and his church. The blood-bought new covenant will never be broken — ever. That is what is different. That is what is new about the new covenant over the old covenant. He secures its permanence by his blood. And that newness is why Jesus raised the standards of faithfulness in marriage above the standards of the Old Testament law.

Now, I would go a step further. If a faithful believer sees his marriage unraveling, he or she can tell the truth about Christ and the church by keeping the covenant, even if the other partner doesn’t. That is what is new and radical in the ideal that Jesus has lifted up to model the new covenant. And then I would add another crucial reminder. Marriage is only one of the many ways that the truth of Christ is shown in the world. A believer whose marriage is destroyed and no longer presents a parable of covenant love, that believer can show the worth of Christ in dozens of other ways that God has appointed. And one of those ways is how he or she treats people in that horrific process of dissolution. Christ’s all-satisfying worth is displayed when we find him sufficient to meet every need so that we have grace to return good for evil to our estranged spouse or children or parents or whoever has made life so hard.

It is possible to have failed to glorify Christ in one area and yet, in the very ruins of that failure, to glorify Christ in different ways. In fact, we are all in that situation, aren’t we? Don’t all of us bear the scars of some past failure that we wish we could undo? We can’t. And yet this is the very life with all of its scars, all of its ruins, that Christ intends to redeem and in which he intends to be glorified.

The apostle Paul had been a murderer of Christians and, therefore, lived all his life with the painful consciousness that he was the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:1315). You can hear it in his old age. It still gets him. That was the life God redeemed and in which, not just after which, in which — the painful ruins in which — Paul would glorify him all his remaining days.

So, my answer is that a hard marriage can, indeed, display the covenant-keeping love of Christ and, not only that, a faithful, covenant-keeping spouse after a failed marriage can display the truth of that covenant. And if it looks like there has been complete failure in regard to marriage, God can yet so transform you that, in the ruins of it, he gets glory.

Find other recent and popular Ask Pastor John episodes here.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including A Peculiar Glory.

(By Desiring God. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not e2 media network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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The Apostle Paul said:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good… (Romans 13:1-4)

Likewise, Peter said:

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:13-17)

But this is only when they’re godly right? We don’t have to submit to ungodly authority. After all, rulers are to punish evil and praise good – so whenever they aren’t following the Bible, we don’t have to follow them!

No, you still have to obey the government or you bring judgment on yourself.

Whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (Romans 13:2)

Daniel said that God removes kings and sets them up… even tyrants such as Nebuchadnezzar!

He removes kings and sets up kings. (Daniel 2:21)

Jesus told Pilate

“You would have no authority over Me at all unless it had been given you from above.” (John 19:11)

And Pilate was a guy who liked to kill Jews in the temple just to show them he could!

Government is a blessing from God. Because without it, things would be a whole lot worse. God also uses government to bring about His judgment. We are to obey our rulers because God said so. We pay taxes out of obedience, because that’s how He made government to run.

He is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. (Romans 13:4-6)

Now, if that authority tells you to renounce your faith or be silent, follow the Apostles’ example and keep preaching Christ!

We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging Him on a tree. God exalted Him at His right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to those things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him. (Acts 5:29-32)

It’s the will of God that we should submit to earthly authority (even though you won’t always agree with the government), putting to silence the talk of foolish people who would otherwise paint us as law breakers.

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution… For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people… Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:13-17)

The Bible says to pray for our governors, not rebel against them…Christians must obey government officials even when we disagree

First of all then I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

… that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, Godly and dignified in every way, when we understand the text. 

(This video is by WWUTT. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not emedia network.)

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To say that after “they” — to quote the Apostle John — “bound Jesus and brought Him first to Annas,” Jesus’ life would never be the same again would be a gross understatement and wholly inaccurate.

Fact is, as you are about to hear in this PODCAST, only some 15 hours after this cohort of some six hundred elite Roman soldiers led Him away in chains, Jesus’ life would be over.

The Roman leader principally responsible for Jesus’ execution? The Procurator Pontius Pilate, whom we will meet up close and personal next week.

The Jewish leader principally responsible for Jesus’ execution, whom we will meet this week? The High Priest Joseph Caiaphas.

You read that right. At this point in time, Caiaphas was — Listen! — the highest ranking religious leader throughout all the land, over all the people.

As High Priest, Caiaphas was the only person alive permitted behind the veil in Temple into the Holy of Holies, and that on only one day of the year — Day of Atonement. The Holy of Holies, where God’s manifest presence — His Shekinah Glory — literally, visibly flamed and flashed… But. Not. Anymore.

Trust me. God moved out of His house long before Caiaphas ever donned the robe and put on the vestments of his high-but-now-highly corrupt, once-holy-but-now-utterly-unholy office.

Caiaphas, an unspeakably unscrupulous man about whom we know much historically. And one whom — in an odd sort of way — I almost feel like I know personally. I say this for two reasons.

Firstly, I’ve been in his home. And, even these 2,000 years later, it’s impossible to miss the lavishness of his home that attests to his obscene wealth. Even his basement was incredible, though it speaks to the extremely perverted power that this man had over the Jewish people… and on one particular night, over Jesus Christ.

Secondly, I actually touched Caiaphas’ bone box. (Don’t tell on me… you’re not supposed to do that! …It was on display at the Israeli museum; and despite all the “Do Not Touch” signs surrounding it, I simply couldn’t help myself.)

Anyway, let’s recall that just four days prior to Jesus’ arrest, on what we call Palm Sunday, Jesus entered into Jerusalem with pageantry and fanfare. On Monday, Jesus cleared out the Temple, overthrowing the tables belonging to the money changers and other corrupt business people that were there in God’s house…

…The Temple that Caiaphas was in charge of.

When Jesus cleansed the Temple, this hit Caiaphas hard. Jesus suddenly intruded squarely into Caiaphas’ life and lifestyle. In less than a day, Jesus went from someone who was a mere blip on Caiaphas’ personal radar to someone who needed to die.

So, as Caiaphas saw Jesus as an existential threat when Jesus labeled the Temple a “den of thieves”, he recognized himself as the “Chief Thief” that Jesus was pointing out. This set in motion Caiaphas’ blindingly jealous rage, culminating in his conspiracy to kill the one and only Son of the God Caiaphas claimed to love and serve.

In actuality, if anyone should have recognized who Jesus was, it should have been the High Priest, Caiaphas. Yet, rather to embrace Jesus, Caiaphas chose to crucify Him.

So, there, in Gethsemane, Jesus was arrested by some 600 Roman soldiers and bound in chains. Remember, this was Jesus who had never brandished a weapon against anyone and instructed His followers to turn the other cheek when they were wronged by the officials. Yet still, they chained Him as they would a dangerous murderer or worse, an animal as we read in John 18:12-13,

Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year.

They then led Him off to His first of six separate trials that would take place that Thursday night through Friday morning – the first three were Jewish, the second three were Roman, and all six were illegal.
Now, as we look at the role of Israel’s high priest, and as John wrote in John 18:13, it’s evident that there was only one person in that role at a time. Yet, in Luke 3, as we learn about John the Baptizer, we read:

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— 2during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. (Luke 3:1-2)

Did you catch that? Luke, in his historically accurate method, listed both Annas and Caiaphas as high priests… plural. Welcome to the corruption of the highest priestly office of the land!

You see, the Romans, who maintained their tight-fisted control over everything, exercised their control even over the Jewish religion. They actually controlled everything that happened in and around the Temple. They even appointed and removed Israel’s high priests at will.

Thus, the Romans effectively hijacked the spiritual sovereignty of the Jewish people. And in the process, thoroughly politicized and corrupted what should have been a totally non-political and undefiled spiritual office.

So, historical records show that Annas was indeed high priest from 6 A.D. until 15 A.D. before falling from favor of the Romans and being removed from office. For two years after that, Annas’ son Eleazar filled the high priestly role. However, while they could remove him from office, even the Romans couldn’t take away Annas’ influence and power. Annas actually oversaw a family dynasty consisting of six “puppet high priests”, including his son-in-law, Caiaphas, who served as high priest from 18 A.D. – 37 A.D. Now, the very fact that Caiaphas held his office for 19 years in an era when the Romans shuffled the priests like toys speaks to Caiaphas’ character and political leanings.

All this sets the table for Jesus’ first three trials. Upon being arrested, He was first ushered to Annas for a preliminary trial. Secondly, He received a more “proper” trial before the high priest, Caiaphas. Then, Jesus was brought before the high counsel, or Sanhedrin, which acted as the Jewish Supreme Court with Caiaphas as its chief justice to stand trial.

Talk about a rigged system!

So, Jesus was arrested and brought before Annas, Caiaphas’ father-in-law. And, as John writes about Caiaphas, just to add yet another detail:

Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people. (John 18:14)

John then writes about his a Peter’s “adventures” as they followed Jesus to Annas’ house. John was allowed in, but Peter waited outside, where he denied knowing Jesus for the first time.

15 Simon Peter and another disciple [John] were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard,16 but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in.

17 “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter.

He replied, “I am not.”

18 It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.

Meanwhile, John was able to follow Jesus and witness His preliminary trial:

 Inside, the high priest [Annas] began asking Jesus about his followers and what he had been teaching them. 20 Jesus replied, “Everyone knows what I teach. I have preached regularly in the synagogues and the Temple, where the people gather. I have not spoken in secret. 21 Why are you asking me this question? Ask those who heard me. They know what I said.”

22 Then one of the Temple guards standing nearby slapped Jesus across the face. “Is that the way to answer the high priest?” he demanded.

23 Jesus replied, “If I said anything wrong, you must prove it. But if I’m speaking the truth, why are you beating me?”

24 Then Annas bound Jesus and sent him to Caiaphas, the high priest. (John 18:19-24)

All of this happened before Annas, who maintained the title “high priest”, just as we refer to former U.S. Presidents as “Mr. President”, even after they leave office. However, unique to Annas, was the fact that he also kept a firm grasp of his power and influence, even though Caiaphas now officially held the office.

Now, I mentioned earlier that Jesus’ trials were illegal. First off, it was against Jewish law to try a man at night. And that is just one of a laundry list of illegalities within this scam that Jesus suffered, including the multiple times Jesus was bound even though no evidence pointed to Him being a physical threat to anyone.

Matthew writes this about Jesus’ second trial:

Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. (Matthew 26:57)

This was now in the late hours of the evening. The Sanhedrin, or as Matthew described them “the teachers of the law and the elders” totaled 70 men. These men, after celebrating Passover, dropped everything they were doing that night in order to illegally meet and try Jesus.

Now, to paint the picture of the scene we are diving into, the high priest “house” was more like a compound with Annas’ house as part of it and Caiaphas’ home on the other side, both connected by a common courtyard where Peter was hiding out that night.

And, inside of Caiaphas’ house, this was taking place:

Image from the film “Passion of the Christ”

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death.

But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.

Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”

Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent. (Matthew 26:59-63)

As I mentioned, the system was rigged beyond imagination!

Yet Jesus remained silent. Just as Isaiah had prophesied some 700 years earlier.

…as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)

Yet, even as Jesus remained silent, the high priest continued:

The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” (Matthew 26:63)

Did you catch that? Caiaphas charged Jesus “under oath” by His Father. So Jesus answered:

64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy.66 What do you think?”

“He is worthy of death,” they answered.

67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?” (Matthew 26:64-67)

In Luke’s account, he adds that they blindfolded Jesus before striking Him and that they “toyed with Him”.

Meanwhile, outside the compound, Matthew describes what Peter was doing.

71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”

73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”

74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”

Immediately a rooster crowed. (Matthew 26:71-74)

At this point, Luke adds the detail:

The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. (Luke 22:61) 

You can imagine Peter’s guilt and anguish!

 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:75)

This was not just a denial. Jesus was disowned by Peter.

Then, morning came. The morning of what we now call “Good Friday”… though it was not a good morning at all for Jesus.

When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor. (Matthew 27:1-2)

This is where the entire Sanhedrin issued their death sentence upon Jesus and sent Him away for formal, trial by the state. They had to send Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor, because only the Romans crucified people.

This reveals something very telling about Annas and Caiaphas and their hatred toward Jesus. They not only wanted Him silenced or even killed. If all they wanted was a dead Jesus, they could have stoned Him to death.

No… they wanted Him publically tortured and crucified as only the Romans could do!

Why did the Jewish leaders go to all the trouble of bringing the Romans into this thing – to have Jesus crucified – when the Jewish leaders could have had Jesus stoned to death?

Had they stoned Him, the religious leaders knew that they would be running the risk of turning Jesus into a sympathetic figure, even a martyr, in the eyes of the Jewish people with whom Jesus was quite popular.

After all, a crowd had just welcomed Him into the Holy City on Sunday, laying coats and palm branches before the feet of the donkey he rode upon. The people loved Him!

At this point, I must dispel an historical perversion that has been propagated over the years. The Jewish people were not responsible for killing Jesus. It was the Sanhedrin – a group of 70 religious leaders – and the Romans who did so at the Sanhedrin’s behest. Let’s not hold an entire populace guilty for the decision of 70 men.

Anyway, it wasn’t enough to destroy Jesus’ life. The religious leaders also had to destroy His reputation. And the ultimate way of doing this was through crucifixion. We read it in Deuteronomy 21:23, the religious leaders knew this as they had the Torah memorized, just as Paul did when he quoted it in Galatians 3:13…

Anyone who is nailed to a tree is under God’s curse.

They didn’t just want to kill Him. They wanted to curse Him! So that the people would walk away from Him in disgust.

But, it didn’t work.

Christ, the Messiah, redeemed us from that curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”) (Galatians 3:13)

So, make this mental note – just after daybreak, the Sanhedrin, under the auspices of Caiaphas, met again to rubber stamp the previous night’s decision. Why? To legitimize a totally illegitimate process. They knew it was illegal to try a man at night (even though they just had… twice even), so they made it “legal” by meeting at dawn. Another “legal problem” they ran into was this: If a death sentence were decided upon, it could not be carried out for another 24 hours. Yet, they pronounced Jesus’ death sentence and carried it out in the same day.

Now, as I look closer at this night and day of Jesus’ life, I wonder: What did they do with Jesus in those pre-dawn hours between the second and third trials?

Excavations of the high priest’s house, beneath the compound, just adjacent to the courtyard, but underground, archeologists have discovered a pit… a dungeon. Holding cells where prisoners were whipped, tortured, and one particular “cell” which was actually a pit from which no one could escape. In fact, the prisoner would be lowered into it in a harness using ropes to hold them… likely until their next trial phase.
It would not surprise me at all that while trapped in that dark, lonely pit, Jesus prayed Psalm 88:

Lord, you are the God who saves me;
    day and night I cry out to you.
May my prayer come before you;
    turn your ear to my cry.

I am overwhelmed with troubles
    and my life draws near to death.
I am counted among those who go down to the pit…

…You have put me in the lowest pit,
    in the darkest depths.
Your wrath lies heavily on me;
    you have overwhelmed me with all your waves.
You have taken from me my closest friends
    and have made me repulsive to them.
I am confined and cannot escape;
    my eyes are blinded by my tears.

I call to you, Lord, every day;
    I spread out my hands to you…
13 …I cry to you for help, Lord;
    in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14 Why, Lord, do you reject me
    and hide your face from me?

15 From my youth I have suffered and been close to death;
    I have borne your terrors and am in despair.
16 Your wrath has swept over me;
    your terrors have destroyed me.
17 All day long they surround me like a flood;
    they have completely engulfed me.
18 You have taken from me friend and neighbor—
    darkness is my closest friend.

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Had Jon Wickes and Ben Law wanted to avoid a calling to foster care, they had a good list of excuses at their disposal. At the time, both men were in their mid-20s. Both were single. Neither Jon nor Ben were adopted. Yet, one night out of the month, along with their Missional Community group, they hosted a parents’ night out at the For the City Center for local foster families.

serving foster parents through childcareIn the fall of 2012, The Austin Stone Community Church featured a sermon series on adoption and, as Jon and Ben’s community walked through the series, they began to feel convicted by the Spirit to serve in the area of adoption and foster care. But this proved challenging. The group was made up of unlikely candidates—mostly singles in their mid-20s.

“This is great,” Jon remembers, feeling the tension. “But how are we supposed to respond? We weren’t in a place to foster or adopt kids at that point.”

serving foster parents through childcareStill, the community group didn’t allow their life stage to overshadow the command in Scripture to care for the orphan. They continued to talk about what it might look like for their group to serve somehow, and eventually they met with Becca Harris, the Children’s Director at Austin Stone’s St. John’s Campus.

“There was a meeting with a couple of people in our MC and they basically said, ‘We are a group of single people, but we want to be obedient to care for the widow and the orphan, so what can we tangibly do to help?’”

Becca suggested that one of the things foster families needed most was childcare.

Childcare options can be extremely limited for foster parents. For the protection of foster children, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Service requires that children only be left in the care of individuals who have gone through a state-mandated certification program. Completing the program can be taxing as it requires background checks, hours of training, and navigating convoluted requirements.

serving foster parents through childcareStill, the community group was undeterred. They began undergoing background checks and started the certification process while discussing how they might provide childcare for foster families.

“We thought, Well, we’ll just meet people who have foster kids, and then we’ll just go to their houses to take care of their kids or have their kids come over to our house and have an MC block party … We soon realized that’s not a good idea.”

Eventually, the church agreed to partner with them to provide the facility and front all of the costs and, in the spring of 2013, the For the City Center played host to the very first Parents’ Night Out.

serving foster parents through childcareThe initial event was a great success. As the members of the MC began interacting with kids and parents, they saw how deep of a need they were truly meeting. It was a tangible reminder that they, too, were adopted by God as sons and daughters through Jesus’s payment of sin and defeat of death.

“There was a dad who dropped off his kid who was so excited,” Ben remembers. “He said he had to go to the mall because it had been so long since he and his wife had been on a date that he didn’t have a shirt to wear for date night.”

Unfortunately, the MC was only able to host the event a few more times before the program was put on hiatus since the service they were providing was a bit unorthodox. Even still, the group continued to push forward. They used this break to ensure that everything they planned was in compliance with state licensing standards. This time also allowed new members of the MC to become foster care certified.

serving foster parents through childcareFinally, after a nine-month break, Parents’ Night Out was restarted. Now, the members of Jon and Ben’s community group have expanded their commitment from one night a month to two. They are also seeking additional certifications that would allow them to provide in-home care for foster children when necessary.

James 1:27 (ESV) defines pure and undefiled religion as this: “To visit orphans and widows in their affliction.” It would have been easy for Jon and Ben—two young, single men—to decide this verse didn’t apply to them. Instead, they looked to their own need for adoption into God’s family to inspire and empower their service. Serving children and families in the foster care system has not been easy, and they have had to sacrifice much. However, without Christ, our adoption would have been impossible, and yet it cost Him everything.

“We were not convenient,” Jon says. “I wasn’t in a good place when Jesus began pursuing me, and I didn’t want to be a part of His family, but He didn’t stop pursuing me.”

serving foster parents through childcare

The Austin Stone Story Team is a community of artists who tell stories of gospel transformation. We are photographers, writers, editors, filmmakers, and musicians on a common mission to use our gifts for His glory.

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How do we relate the sin of Adam to humanity? Why are we guilty for something we did not do? How is this just? Are children born with original guilt and corruption, or does Scripture teach that there is an age of accountability? What did Augustine, Pelagius, or Arminius believe about this important question? On this program the hosts will discuss various perspectives on the effects of the Fall that have arisen throughout the history of the church as they continue to unpack the implications of Original Sin. Join us for the latest episode of the White Horse Inn.Adam's Fall or Original Sin Affects Us Today

“We don’t have trouble with the fact that someone else can carry our sins away. We don’t have trouble saying that someone fulfilled the law in our place and someone imputed his righteousness to us. What we have trouble with is that someone’s sin was imputed to us. But you can’t have one without the other. They’re two sides of the same coin. If you don’t like this side, you’re going to have to throw out the whole coin.” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

“Pelagianism”

The term designates both the teachings of Pelagius, a fourth-century Christian monk, and any teaching that minimizes the role of divine grace in salvation. It was Pelagius’ views on the Christian life, his moral rigorism, his high regard for the law, and his emphasis on discipline and the human will that laid the foundation for the controversy that gave birth to what has come to be known as Pelagianism. Pelagius was offended when he read in Augustine’s Confessions that humans must necessarily and inevitably sin, even after baptism. Augustine’s phrase “Give what you command and command what you will” seem to him to undermine the moral law and the quest for perfection, because it placed responsibility for righteousness on God rather than on the human will. Pelagius did not, as is often thought, deny the necessity of grace. Grace was to be understood as the revelation of God’s purposes and will, the wisdom by which humans are stirred to seek a life of righteousness…. Pelagius saw no opposition between the laws of the old covenant and the gospel. He saw grace as a precept and example, a view that led him to overestimate human capability and thus to invite criticism. (Adapted from The Encyclopedia of Religion, s.v. “Pelagianism.”)

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“Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme.” And we just keep retelling and re-singing it. I’m talking about the year’s biggest movie.

In a segment on NPR last Wednesday, Bob Mondello documented the bizarre entertainment phenomenon known as “movie twins.” Hollywood has long puzzled the public by releasing films with nearly identical premises and plots within months or even weeks of one another. “Mission to Mars” and “Red Planet,” “Armageddon” and “Deep Impact,” “Antz” and “A Bug’s Life,” and “Happy Feet” and “Surf’s Up” are just a few of the uncannily similar flicks to hit theaters at or around the same time.

“Hollywood is a small town,” says Mondello, and directors, producers, and screen-writers often swap ideas. But the trend has recently intensified and commingled with a growing preference for remakes. “Interstellar” and “Arrival” tell strikingly similar stories, as do “Life,” and “Alien: Covenant,” both slated for release this spring.

Spiderman has starred in no less than half a dozen movies in the last fifteen years, as have Batman and Superman. And next year Warner Brothers’ take on “The Jungle Book” will follow last year’s live-action remake from Disney, and “not two, but seven Robin Hood movies are currently in development,” because, as Mondello quips, “the over 100 previous ones listed in IMDB just weren’t enough.”

As I said last year on BreakPoint, the new “Star Wars” sequels also retread familiar ground, with what some called a “beat-by-beat” recycling of George Lucas’ original.

Trailers and posters for a “Power Rangers” movie will greet theatergoers this month, as will previews for the um-teenth installment of “Transformers,” a series that’s gone on so long, most of the original cast has quit.

Of course, Disney just achieved its biggest opening ever with a “re-skin” of its award-winning 1991 “Beauty and the Beast.” It’s the latest in a series of live-action remakes of classics from the Disney vault, like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. And Allison Wilmore at Buzzfeed wasn’t wrong when she described it as “the mouse-house’s strange, sad ode to itself.”

Fans of the original and deservedly beloved “Beauty and the Beast” will likely enjoy this new version because, other than the live actors, a longer run time, and some not-so-subtle politicking, it’s the same movie! As my BreakPoint colleague, Shane Morris, put it, “this was a special edition of the original with eight times the budget.”

But if the quarter-century-old cartoon was so perfect, why did we need a scene-by-scene remake? Putting aside the obvious answer, which is money, the observation I made last year about “Star Wars” still rings true.

Hollywood has run out of ideas.

Hollywood has run out of ideas

Image: RealBigHits

And even movies that shine—and make no mistake, this new and high-budget “Beauty and the Beast” shines—are borrowing their glory from decades past. If asked to name recent films with truly original plots and characters other than dusted off, fifty-year-old comic book heroes, many of us would have a tough time. And that’s not cool!

By the way, the much-ballyhooed “exclusively gay moment” which “Beauty and the Beast” director Bill Condon referred to turned out to be two or three suggestive moments, plus an “in-your-face” transgender moment involving a man dressed in drag and loving it. As a Christian dad, that bugged me. But as a fan of good stories, I found it far sadder that LGBT propaganda was the most original thing about the new “Beauty and the Beast.”

Folks, we need fresh stories! And judging by the recent fare from Disney, Mickey Mouse is fresh out. The familiar can feel good—especially with so much uncertainty when we turn on the news. But it doesn’t uplift us, challenge us, or inspire anew as truly original work can. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: I think Christians are the ones to write, produce, and direct these exciting, new stories and break the spell of non-stop nostalgia.

Visit Breakpoint.org to get further information about the many great books and other resources available there and you can link up to our social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

By Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not e2 media network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.

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Jeremy writes in with today’s question: “Dear Pastor John, I have served for the past seven years as a ‘worship leader.’ Something I’ve had trouble reconciling is how worshiping God turned into singing trendy praise songs in a community setting. Does it derive from the Levites and appointed leaders in the Old Testament? I have a hard time finding something relatable in the New Testament. In fact, one of the Scriptures that I find most denotes what worship is comes from Romans 12 where Paul tells the church in Rome that worship is giving of one’s self completely to God. Long question short, what brings us the corporate musical worship that inhabits almost every church today?”

Let’s just overlook the use of the word trendy, because I doubt that is really what he is asking. I don’t think he expects to find in the Bible a justification for trendy. I think his question really is: Why do we sing for a half an hour in worship services all over the world? Why do we do it that way?

So, let me try to go at that and see what I can do. I would define worship as anything we do which gives expression to the supreme, all-satisfying worth of God. That is worship, which would include both offering my body to be burned in martyrdom (1 Corinthians 13:3), because I am showing how precious Christ is to me, that I am willing to give up my life for him. And it would include my singing, my heartily offering up my voice and my heart in church as I sing, because I am giving expression to his worth as I sing a God-exalting song.

What makes them both worship is the experience of the heart which treasures God above all things. That is the essence of worship: the experience of the heart. Jesus says your heart is far from you. You worship me with your lips (Matthew 15:8–9). This is a zero worship. So, the essence of worship is a heart that treasures God above all things. The universe was created so that human beings would do everything we do and use everything we have to display the supreme worth of God. And in an ideal world all is, thus, worship.

Now, how does it come about that today most evangelical services around the world, at least the parts I have been to and that I look at online, have an extended time of singing at the front-end and preaching at the back-end? Here is my best effort to give an account for this. When you compare — this is the most important thing I am going to say; this is a little observation here — when you compare the Old Testament and the New Testament, something startling emerges with regard to worship. In the Old Testament, there is an extremely detailed set of guidelines for how everything should be done in relationship to the tabernacle and the sacrifices and the way people come to God. In the New Testament, those details are almost completely lacking. I am tempted to say completely lacking. There is no way anybody could construct a normative worship service from what we have in the New Testament. Lots of people think they can, but I don’t think so. There is more tradition going on there than they realize.

My opinion about why this is so is that the Old Testament was a “come see” religion with all of redemptive history focused on a culturally unified ethnic people called Israel, and the New Testament is a “go tell” religion with no ethnic center, no geographic center, no cultural center. And, therefore, the New Testament is written so as to be a manual of theology and life, useful in all cultures and all the peoples of the world, which is why it should be translated into all the languages of the world. If the New Testament had given detailed guidelines for what a worship service should be, it would have enshrined one first century culture to be imposed on all the cultures of the world. It would have been a colossal failure given what God designs for his church to look like all over the world as it becomes embedded in, incarnate in all the cultures of the world.Do We Really Need Musical Worship?

So, to explain why there is so much singing and why there is preaching, I don’t think you look for prescribed patterns in the New Testament. You look for emphases, trajectories, implications, the nature of God, the nature of man, the nature of his mind, the nature of his emotions, the nature of salvation, the nature of gifts. And what you find is that there is an extraordinary centrality and emphasis to the word of God in the Christian life, and there is at least one example of preaching mandated in the context of worship:

I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. (2 Timothy 4:1–2)

And as we would expect from the Old Testament legacy of singing, there is a good bit of singing in the New Testament and pictures of it in the age to come.

There are a couple of texts, at least, that say it should be done corporately. Let me just give you a flavor of singing in the New Testament. Heaven in Revelation is full of song.

“And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!’” (Revelation 15:3).

And James says,

“Is any one [among you] cheerful? Let him sing” (James 5:13).

Then Paul says,

“I will sing with my spirit, and I will sing with my mind” (1 Corinthians 14:15).

And, again,

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).

And then he says the same thing, almost, in Ephesians 5:18–19, only here he makes it clear that it is corporate. He says,

“Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.”

And you got this same Paul — bless his heart; I just love this guy — at midnight, feet in stocks, having been beaten with many blows, and he and Silas are singing (Acts 16:25). They are singing hymns to God, which means he knew some hymns by heart. Singing was so much a part of Paul’s life. You don’t usually think of Paul as a singer, but as a logician who pounds out Romans on an anvil of truth. You are like: No, no, no, no. He sang in tongues and he sang intelligible language and he sang in prison. He probably sang on the road and sang in the boats and sang while he was clinging to the shards of wood in the sea. This man was a singer big time. And where did he get that? Jesus sang. He sang.

“When they had sung a hymn” — He and His apostles — “they went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Mark 14:26)

The last thing he does with his disciples, almost, is sing with them.

And, of course, the New Testament loves the Psalms, and the songs are full of commands to sing over and over. Five times I think it says: Sing a new song (Psalm 33:340:396:198:1149:1). And Jesus says that his new covenant scribes, the writers, are going to be:

“like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old” (Matthew 13:52).

So, I expect we will always be singing new songs and old songs, and I don’t know if the word trendy is helpful. I think new is great. I hope we will, anyway.

So, it doesn’t seem at all surprising to me that over the centuries Christians would come together to corporately express the infinite value of God by lifting their voices and lifting their hearts in song about his worth, and that they would crave to hear the voice of God heralded from his word. Of course, lots more could be said about why we do what we do in worship. But that is pretty much why I feel so at home today in worship services like this, provided — this is a huge provision — provided the preaching and the singing are radically God-centered, Christ-exalting, gospel-rich, Bible-saturated, singable, and authentic through and through.

Find other recent and popular Ask Pastor John episodes here.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including A Peculiar Glory.

(By Desiring God. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not e2 media network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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1 Timothy 2 begins:

First of all then I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

Hang-on now! prayers and thanksgiving for kings and all who are in high positions?? So, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Dictators, Governors, Chiefs of State, Cabinet Members, Congress…we’re supposed to pray for them and thank God for them?

Yes. Well, that’s what the Bible says.Does the Bible Say to be Thankful for the President?

Not just because it’s good for us, but especially because it pleases God.

This is good and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

In Jeremiah 29:1-28, Israel had been exiled to the Babylonians because of their sin. But, through the Prophet Jeremiah, God assured them that He would not annihilate them. Rather, they needed to pray for the welfare of their captors, work the land and be successful, be fruitful and multiply their families, and watch out for false teachers in the meantime, who would not be spared judgment.

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat of their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf for in its welfare you will find your welfare. (Jeremiah 29:4-7)

God would indeed deliver His people as He promised He would do.

The Apostle Paul, writing to his servant Timothy, says that same thing still applies:

We are exiles in this world. Pray for those who are of this world, especially rulers, realizing that everyone needs to hear the saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We, too, must watch out for false teachers who will not escape the wrath of God – nor will those who follow them.

Some people may contradict our teaching, but these are the wholesome teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. These teachings promote a godly life.  Anyone who teaches something different is arrogant and lacks understanding. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions.  These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth. To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become wealthy. (1 Timothy 6:3-5)

And, just like He did in Israel, God will save all whom He means to save and lead them to a knowledge of the truth. Not one of His people will be lost!

when we understand the text. 

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When Ben and Jessica Turner agreed to move overseas in hopes of sharing their faith in Jesus, they never imagined pizza would give them opportunities to connect with Muslim families on a gorgeous tropical island.

“God told us, ‘I want you to go to a place where there is nothing but people who don’t know Me, and where you won’t have all the distractions of the States,’” Jessica remembers.

The couple clung to Scripture as they prepared to leave their comfortable lives and become goers. “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news.’” (Romans 10:14-15 ESV)

As they completed the process of confirmation, equipping, and support raising through the 100 People Network, the Turners planned to move to a country in Africa. Yet they couldn’t shake the desire to live in a strictly Muslim community. They longed to share the good news of a forgiving God who offers free grace through the perfect life of Jesus and His death and resurrection, in contrast to their Muslim friends who struggled as they failed at trying to be perfect.

Before the Turners left for Africa, God opened their hearts to another option. They met with a fellow Christian who shared about the bed and breakfast he owned on a remote tropical island in the Indian Ocean.

“The conversation sparked something in us,” Ben said. “We longed to work with Muslims, and he told us of a Muslim population that was unreached and unengaged.”

After visiting the island, they felt the Holy Spirit calling them there—despite the relentless heat and three-hour boat rides to buy groceries. It is a place where the majority of people have never heard of Jesus, and talking about Him openly is forbidden. It is a culture where the people do not easily trust one another and pride keeps them carrying a burden of perfection. It is an island that could easily be isolating for two American outsiders. Yet the Lord made a way.

“I’ve always been a chef, and I’ve always loved making pizzas,” Ben says. “It’s simple, and it reaches a wide spectrum of people. Everybody loves pizza.”

When they first moved, Jessica ran the bed and breakfast, and Ben used his degree in culinary arts to make traditional pizza for surfers taking advantage of the area’s dynamic waves. Ben thought they would appreciate something different to offset the tropical food choices of tuna and mango.

The pizza was so well-received that word of his delicacy spread among the locals and soon the entire village sought after it. They even rallied together and asked the Turners to open a little pizza place on the island.

Ben and Jessica prayed about the restaurant and saw it as an opportunity to grow in their relationships with others and to share God’s love. A family Ben and Jessica had invested time in was glad to fill the island’s requirement of a local partner. Another family donated all the concrete work through the company they owned. In addition, people came every day to help build walls and do electrical work.

“They are invested in the business, too. And that would have never, ever happened if God had not developed these relationships,” says Jessica. “Absolutely, hands down, no way.”

The restaurant features a large, open-air courtyard with handmade picnic tables, providing an inviting atmosphere. Entire families come to sit and eat pizza together, including the women, who are culturally not allowed to enter the cafes on the island. Husbands love having their wives along, and many consider it a date night.

Jessica was told by locals, “There is just something different about you and Ben. We love you guys, and we want to see this business succeed—because we want you to stay here.”

While their pizza business is a success, the Turners’ adventure is not all paradise. The isolation they feel can be painful, and sometimes, they are agonizingly lonely. Physical comfort is difficult to maintain, including when Jessica fought a high tropical fever in an apartment with no air conditioning and little circulation. Still, Ben and Jessica know that God has them on this remote island for a reason.sharing the Gospel with pizza

“We are making a difference in people’s lives,” Ben says. “But without Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, we would not be able to stay.”

From the tall picnic tables of the open courtyard, one can see the beautiful waters, hear the crashing waves, and take in the breathtaking view. Ben and Jessica followed God’s lead to build a refuge that offers much more than a taste of pizza. They realize that they might be the only reflection of Jesus these people ever see.

The Austin Stone Story Team is a community of artists who tell stories of gospel transformation. We are photographers, writers, editors, filmmakers, and musicians on a common mission to use our gifts for His glory.

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Following Jesus can be a treacherous path of trying to change the world, as we see it, and running straight into the truth that we are, indeed, the one with the problem.  We need deliverance from:

  • … Our belief that it is up to us to change people.
  • … Our judgmental and legalistic ways.

Think about this:

In the beginning of Luke 19 – the story of the tax collector Zacchaeus.

(Raise your hand if you just started to sing “Zaccheaus was a wee little man, a wee little man, a wee little man was he!”)

Jesus is in Jericho and a crowd has gathered. The crooked tax collector Zaccheaus was there. He can’t see over the crowd so he climbs up a tree to see Jesus. In the middle of that crowd – which likely would have included more than a fair share of holy or influential or important or preferred or religious people – Jesus heads right for that tree and calls out to that guy – the one who is a social and religious outcast, ridiculously perched up in the branches – to come on down because Jesus wants to go to that guy’s house for supper.

Huh?   How do I explain that to my religious friends?

I mean, honestly.

  • Jesus always picks the wrong guy.

Of course, everyone in the crowd gets quite indignant, muttering among themselves about how Jesus is now the guest of a sinner. Not only did the guy betray his religion, Zacchaeus has betrayed his people, his nation, colluding with the powers that be for his own gain and oppressing the very people who were supposed to be his people.

Or how about the story of the town harlot of Samaria?   The infamous, “Woman at the Well”?  (John 4:1-42)  The longest conversation recorded of Jesus and one person was with this woman who had five husbands, and was with a guy she wasn’t married too when Jesus approached her.

There is our Jesus, sitting by a well…in forbidden Samaria.

Does anyone else see the humor in this story?

The town slut, (or Ho, Hussy, Loose, Sinner, etc. (as she would be called today) approaches Him.

Breaking the Christian rules with humility, grace and mercy

Image: Katie Bulmer

What?

Isn’t she hopeless and an embarrassment? And openly living in sin, (deep breath)!

Plus, Jesus, as a Jew, was not even supposed to be in Samaria, let alone talk to a woman, for heaven’s sake!!

That woman!!

We hate that woman!  Don’t we?  We can’t be seen talking to her.

  • Isn’t that breaking the rules?

Imagine if Jesus was in our world right now in the flesh,  and he heads right over to someone who cooperated with and benefitted from oppression of innocent people, someone who had traded integrity for political power, someone we distrust, someone who we feel is dangerous, someone who stole from people in a socially acceptable and governmentally blessed way, someone who took the very religious or national identity that we cherished and basically stomped all over it for his own gain.

I can think of a few already, but I won’t mention names.

Ugh. We hate that guy.

Don’t we?   I mean aren’t we supposed to keep ourselves clean by dissing those who are not living up to our standards as we interpret them?

Would we be murmuring and complaining and wondering about this Teacher who apparently had missed the important parts of the very Law he claims to teach.

Never mind He really came to fulfill the law Himself.

We don’t hang around with people like that, Jesus.  (Insert whine)

Don’t you know? Good people wouldn’t be caught dead with a man like that.

Just like we don’t hang around with women who are caught in the act of adultery, or fornication, and….

  • We don’t hang around with Samaritans,
  • We don’t hang around with powerless children,
  • We don’t hang around with women who have a bad reputation,
  • We don’t hang around with beggars or the poor or the oppressed or the criminal or the possessed or the socially marginalized or the ones who aren’t allowed to come to church with the good religious people, never!

Get it together, Jesus.

And, hey, news flash, we certainly don’t go to the personal home of a corrupt politician for a bite to eat or the apartment of the town prostitute for a cup of tea.

But Jesus does it anyway.

Jesus seems not to care about our who-is-in and who-is-out line in the sand. He doesn’t seem to care about what we think about all the wrong folks hanging around with him.

Jesus came to fulfill the Law but while also revealing the Love behind the Law, and the inadequacy of it, he came to replace the real love of a real God for their people.

Jesus came because God so loved the world.  After all, as Jesus tells Nicodemus in the book of John, it was because God so loved the world that Jesus came to us.

Jesus came, not to condemn the world but to save the world.

…Including the guy we would rather see condemned, to be honest.

How can we miss this?

Now take note of this fact:  because of an encounter with Jesus, Zaccheaus turns around gives half of everything away. He is so moved by Jesus, he vows to pay back anyone he has cheated four times the amount he stole.

The Samaritan woman?

Oh, she just became the first woman evangelist telling the whole town about Jesus.

Extravagant repentance.

Wild, reckless love for a man who was like no one they ever met.

They both were not just fulfilling the letter of the Law, they were repenting into the heart of Love Himself.

Looks like the presence of Jesus transforms everyone…even those of us who think we have it all together.

  • The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

Zaccheaus was lost, Jesus sought him out, and in this moment of repentance – which was so much more than just money or position – he’s reoriented to the Kingdom of God.   The woman at the well discovered that her bucket could only be filled with Jesus, not a multitude of lost men.

Now that is something to get excited about!

  • Think of the word “today” in that passage. Jesus says “Today I must stay at your house” and then later “Today salvation has come to this house.”

The time is now.

We’d rather another day, another house, another time, another kind of sinner.  Don’t bother us with the now.

But today is the day for the wrong guy…or the wrong woman.

It’s perhaps telling, where we see ourselves in that story.

Are we the crowd, resentful and muttering because we think THAT PERSON shouldn’t be included because they aren’t righteous enough or holy enough or good enough or acceptable enough or just enough?

  • Do we have a long list of people we’d probably be pretty mad to see Jesus hanging out with in our world? Do we begrudge seeing Jesus head right to a certain house with a certain person?

We have our sort of people we want to keep out.

Sure, we’re okay with this kind of sinner being included –but not that kind.

But over and over, Jesus picks the wrong person in our eyes.

He even picks you, and me!

Or perhaps we see ourselves more in the one who everyone else wants to keep out.

 “Today, today, today, I’m coming to your house.

And all we can do is receive Jesus with such joy and relief.

And our own sin – everything that damages us and damages our relationship with God and damages our relationships with one another – is over!

We stop putting God into a box of our own self righteous rules and let Him do what He came to do.

…Love on all of us and see lives transformed.

So we turn everything in our lives upside down and inside out to be with Jesus, to be Him extended to everyone…not just those we think won’t contaminate us.

…To cooperate in making all things right, today.

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