Suffering for the Gospel

Written By: John - May• 05•15

I’ve been reading an incredible book by G.K. Beale and Mitchell Kim, God Dwells Among Us. In the book they quote J Hudson Taylor, “It does not matter how great the pressure is. What really matters is where the pressure lies—whether it comes between you and God, or whether it presses you nearer His heart.”

They went on to discuss how the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 put Hudson’s conviction to the test. In his own ministry, China Inland Mission, 58 adult missionaries and 21 of their children were murdered. Taylor declared,

“It is a wonderful honor…to have among us so many counted worthy of a martyr’s crown. Some who have been spared perhaps suffered more than some of those taken, and our Lord will not forget.”

A few years, while in China, I stood in a church built by Taylor. His faithfulness led to millions of Chinese people coming to Christ. I wonder if we are made of the same stuff as Taylor and the men and women of China who understood the words of Tertullian, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

As we watch the Christian genocide of ISIS and Boko Haram are we willing to say it is a wonderful honor to be a martyr for Christ? As we watch the continual attack upon Christian beliefs in our own country are we willing to join our forefathers of whom the writer of Hebrews said, “joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” (Hebrews 10:34)

If the Church is to grow we must embrace the fact that we will suffer for the Gospel. A recent house church leader in China testified,

“We have numerous testimonies of powerful revivals that have broken our in places where Christians have spilled their blood and endured many hardships for the Gospel. In some areas where there is much opposition, it seems that God’s children must suffer and bleed before demonic powers are broken and people can see the light of the gospel.”

Could it be that we are not seeing revival today because we are not willing to pay the price for it?

(Quotes from God Dwells Among Us, pages 110-111)

Staggering Promises to Colossal Failure!

Written By: John - May• 01•15

Yesterday I wrote about Solomon’s colossal failure at the end of his life. As you read through 1 Kings you soon come across someone who may be the greatest example of waited potential in the Bible. God judged Solomon’s sin…He said, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant.” (1 Kings 11:11)

He was going to allow Solomon’s line to keep Judah for the sake of David, but the rest of the kingdom would be split after his death. We are soon introduced to Jeroboam who was in charge of all the forced labor of the house of Joseph.

Jeroboam was met by Ahijah, a prophet, who told him God would give him ten of the twelve tribes of Israel and he told him, “And I will take you, and you shall reign over all that your soul desires, and you shall be king over Israel. And if you listen to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did, I will be with you and will build you a sure house, as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you.” (1 Kings 11:37-38)

The promise given to Jeroboam is staggering…if he would follow God, God would give him a kingdom like David. If Jeroboam had followed God we would be talking about his greatness in the same breath that we used to speak of David. But Jeroboam didn’t follow God.

He leads the tribes away after Rehoboam stubbornly refuses to give them relief. He divides the kingdom, but instead of following after God he turned the people from God. He build altars to false god’s and sacrificed to them and led the people to worship idols. Why? Why did he turn the people away?

In 1 Kings 12:26-27 we are told, “And Jeroboam said in his heart, ‘Now the kingdom will turn back to the house of David. If the people go up to offer sacrifices in the temple of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of the people will turn again to their lord, to Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah.”

He refused to trust the word of the prophet, he refused to trust the promise of God, he put his own wants and desires over the true needs of the people, and he placed his own survival over the desire for holiness. He turned out to be a colossal failure when he could have been one of the greatest kings in the Bible.

I want to urge you to always put God first, to always put holiness first, and to always seek to live by John the Baptist’s words, “He must increase and I must decrease.” Who knows what God has in store for the man and woman who will live for His glory in everything!

Finish Well!

Written By: John - Apr• 30•15

It is always heartbreaking to watch someone start well and finish poorly. I can think of no better example of that than Solomon. He started well and God rewarded him like He rewarded no one else, but he finished horribly.

God told the people of Israel that they were not to marry the people surrounding them. It wasn’t because God was against mixed marriages…God didn’t want them to intermarry with pagans, but that is exactly what Solomon did and they turned his heart away from God to other gods. 1 Kings 11:2-4,

“…Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.”

Verse 6 says, “So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD…” The man who faithfully built the Temple also built high places for false gods in Jerusalem.

When I read the account of Solomon’s life I am reminded of several things.

  1. No one is above God’s law.
  2. The faith of our spouse will often make or break us.
  3. It truly isn’t how you start…it is how you finish.
  4. We can never let down our guard.

There are many other lessons, but stop and consider your own life. Are you finishing well? Are you letting the busyness of things get in the way of God? We must run the race with our eyes set on Him and we cannot allow ourselves even the thought of taking a rest…we must press on and finish for the glory of God.

Give Me Jesus!

Written By: John - Apr• 29•15

Yesterday I woke up with the following song on my mind.  I woke up this morning with it still on my lips…hope you enjoy, but most of all I hope you come to know that when you have Jesus you have everything!


The Grace of the Cross

Written By: John - Apr• 07•15

As we come off of one of the highlights of the Christian’s year…let’s not forget what Jesus did on the Cross and in His Resurrection. This morning I read the following words from John Owen’s book The Glory of Christ,

“That intimate conjunction that is between Christ and the Church; whence it is just and equal in the sight of God, according to the rules of His eternal righteousness, that what He did and suffered in the discharge of His office should be esteemed, reckoned, and imputed to us, as to all the fruits and benefits of it, as if we had done and suffered the same things ourselves. For this conjunction of His with us was an acts of His own mind and will, wherein He is ineffably glorious.” (from Kindle, but it is second paragraph of chapter 9.)

Now that is a mouthful and it is typical of John Owen’s writing, but what he is saying is this…he is saying that what Jesus suffered on the Cross is applied to us. It is “esteemed, reckoned, and imputed to us,” and though faith, we get all of the benefits of His sacrifice. In fact it is so credited to us that in God’s eyes it is as if we were the ones who suffered! That’s the love, that is the grace, and that is the mercy of our great God and we should fall to our faces and worship Him!

A Sacrifice of Praise

Written By: John - Apr• 06•15

“Every creature is happiest when it is doing what it is made for. A bird that is made to fly abroad pines in a cage. An eagle would die in the water, even as a fish that is made to swim perishes on the river’s bank. Christians are made to glorify God. We are never in our element until we are praising Him. The happiest moments you have ever spent were those in which you lost sight of everything inferior and bowed before Jehovah’s throne with reverent joy and blissful praise. I can say it so with me, and I do not doubt it so with you. When your whole soul is full of praise, you have at last reached the goal at which your heart is aiming. Your ship is now in full sail. Your life moves on smoothly and safely. This is the groove along which it was made to slide. Before, you were trying to do what you were not made to do, but now you are at home. Your new nature was fashioned for the praise of God, and it finds rest in doing so. Keep to this work. Do not degrade yourself by less divine employment.”


Charles Spurgeon, The Practice of Praise, pages 161-162

Written By: John - Apr• 03•15

It’s Friday…But Sunday’s a Coming!

“It is Finished!”

Written By: John - Mar• 30•15

Last night we looked at three words uttered by Jesus from the Cross, “It is Finished.”  Surgeon said this about those words,—“It is altogether immeasurable. It is high; I cannot attain to it. It is deep; I cannot fathom it.”  One of the questions we sought to answer was this–when Jesus said “It” is finished, what was the IT to which He was referring? Matthew Henry gives the following things:

  1.  IT is the malice of his enemies that is finished.
  2. IT is the sufferings ordained by God that are finished.
  3. IT is all the Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled.
  4. IT is the ceremonial law that is abolished.
  5. IT is the price of sin paid in full.
  6. IT is His physical sufferings that were coming to an end.
  7. IT is the work of redemption that is now complete.

As you go about this Holy Week…enjoy the finished work of Jesus!


“Camouflaging Greeds to look like Needs”

Written By: John - Mar• 25•15

Kirk Franklin recently said,

To die with untapped greatness inside of you is a sin. To miss the moment you were created for (outside of knowing God and being known by Him) is a travesty. The evening news is filled with headlines of scandals because character was not the main agenda. I agree you cannot legislate morality in our culture, but you cannot avoid holding people accountable.  You can’t let people slide by just because they are charismatic and can “kill” a room.

We don’t have a shortage of greatness, we have a shortage of character.

When a pastor wants people to buy him a private plane while a missionary in Somalia bathes children with sores, that’s a shortage of character. When I camouflage my “greeds” to look like “needs,” that’s a shortage of character. When young students are comfortable enough to sing racial slurs on a bus while furthering their education to someday lead a corporation that may have minorities apply for jobs, that’s a shortage of character…

And it’s something you can’t teach in school.

You can read the entire piece here.

“I’ve Known Grace”

Written By: John - Mar• 23•15


Yesterday someone sent me a link to a sermon on grace by Ray Cortese. It would be worth your time to listen to his sermon and you can find it here. It was an incredible sermon on grace, but I think the thing that stuck me the most was a story he told at the end. I could identify with it because I’ve been there and I’m married to someone just like the woman he described. I found the story on a blog by Kelly Flanagan…I don’t know anything about his, but his blog is here.

 “It’s 9pm, and I walk in the door still carrying the burdens of a day at my office. The kids are already in bed, eyelids heavy but holding out for a “goodnight” from Daddy. My wife is tired but smiling and happy to see me.

And I don’t want any of it.

I stomp around, tearing open mail, griping about food that isn’t in the fridge, acting like a serious jerk. And in some secret place inside of me, I know it. Somehow, this only makes it worse. I wait for the reprisal from my wife. The well-earned reprisal. The angry, “I don’t deserve this!”

But it isn’t forthcoming. Instead, she kisses me on the cheek, says she loves me, and goes to bed with the same smile on her face. I stand by myself in the kitchen, but I have two companions. My bad mood. And my wife’s grace…

…I stand in the kitchen with my bad mood and my wife’s grace. And the brilliance of her love quickly becomes clear. Her attack would have only rooted me deeper in my anger. Instead, she has given me acceptance in the midst of my anger, the space to feel it and experience the fullness of my self.

I still feel grumpy, but I discover there is something else there inside of me: I want to apologize.

I go to the bedroom and I tell her I’m sorry, and her response is quick and her grace is complete: “You had a long day, you’re allowed to be in a bad mood, and you’re a good man, I knew you’d apologize.”

…I used to say I believe in grace. I don’t say that anymore. Now I say I have known grace, and what I know is this: grace believes in me.