Sunday, September 16, 2018

Thinx 105: Nireekshana Orphanage

Image Copyright Google Maps.

That’s how far apart two friends live. I’m in Perth and Rev Brenham Dake is in Tanuku, Andhra Pradesh, India. Google Maps shows the large swathe of Indian ocean between us but can’t tell us how to cross it.

Brenham Dake and his wife run Nireekshana Orphanage.

I came to know Brenham a few years ago through a mutual friend in New Zealand. We corresponded for a while and then I had the opportunity to meet him as he was on his way back from a conference in Tasmania. Now we keep in touch on Messenger. It’s a very poor replacement for face to face but it’ll do for now.

We talk about many things, pray for each other and seek to encourage one another. Where I can I contribute to his work and occasionally post on Facebook about the ophanage’s needs. Last (Southern) Summer I encouraged people to donate to pay for blankets.

This year I’m encouraging people to send donations for the purchase of a van to take the children to school. Apparently the children have been walking this distance. I remember walking to primary school as a child but that was a mere 2km. That they should have to walk 10km astounds and alarms me.

While walking is a challenge, what concerns Brenham far more is a very real threat of kidnapping. As he said to me a few weeks ago, “the other thing is security problem since the human trafficking is going on every where that makes us much fear. [B]ut we thank God for His protection all the way.”

The cost of the van they have in mind is $3000. So far they have raised $1200. If you would like to contribute to the cost of the van, please visit Brenham's FriendPay portal. Donations are given in Euros so you may want to visit an onlineexchange calculator.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Thinx 104: Bearing the likeness of God

Were God to introduce you to someone, he would say, “See! My son/daughter.” Not, “See my adopted son/daughter” because when God adopts us, the change in relationship is permanent and irrevocable
“the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable”
Were God to introduce you to someone, he would say, “See! My son/daughter.”

Now when we introduce our own children, people look at them to see if there is a family resemblance. But in this case, we’re talking about God’s family. So whose family resemblance do you bear?

It’s as well that God is Spirit. If God looked like Akin, then family resemblance would be on the basis of physical appearance and folk like me would be doomed.

But God is spirit and so has no physical resemblance against which to compare. The only way to see if there is any resemblance is to look for similarities in character and behaviour. Do you bear the family likeness of God in your character and behaviour? Or do you still bear the family resemblance of that other spiritual father, the Devil?

I closing I say this to you: Abide in the vine! Actively remain in Christ! Study God’s word. Pray. Weep. Rejoice. Dance. Sing praises. Give thanks. Intercede for others. Do good works of service. Share with others! Bear fruit in an out of season!

In everything, bear the family likeness of God; In everything, demonstrate your Christian-ness by being like Christ, loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and loving your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
[The expert in the Law] answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

© Copyright , 2018

Thinx 103: Slicing the pile

"I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that remains, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. This I command you - to love one another.

— John 15:15-17

Good works were prepared for you to do from before the foundation of the world.
“For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.“

— Ephesians 2:10

Fruit that lasts, that abides, that remains after you leave this earth. Even in your faithfulness when nothing seems to be happening counts. When you are faithful in sickness and hardship and loss and death, these are also fruit because the way you face them, wherein you are faithful to God, these also glorify God. You get cancer and the world sees how you handle it. Your company goes bankrupt and the world sees how you handle it. All kinds of misfortunes may occur, but like Job you will say,
As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that as the last he will stand upon the earth.

— Job 19:25

One may well say that Mother Teresa of Calcutta is one whose fruit lasted, but it could also be said of her cook, and her driver, her administrator and the other nuns. For Mother Teresa didn’t do everything herself. Someone else cooked her meals, washed her dishes and laundered her clothes. The world sees only Mother Teresa. God sees everyone else’s faithfulness and fruitfulness (or lack thereof.)

The world thinks that if Jesus does return he’ll take the cream of humanity – those who have done the most good, or have given the most money or have sacrificed the most. The world sees society as layers of really good, fairly good, mostly good, not so good, bad, really bad, and extremely bad and thinks that Jesus will slice the pile horizontally.

But God sees differently. As 1 Samuel 16:7 says,
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t be impressed by his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. God does not view things the way men do. People look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

— 1 Samuel 16:7

God will cut the pile vertically on the basis of how people respond to Jesus. On the basis of faithfulness and abiding in him.

© Copyright , 2018

Thinx 102: A verse a day? Not quite.

"I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete. My commandment is this - to love one another just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this - that one lays down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you."
Jesus did as his Father commanded him. He was always perfectly obedient to his Father. We must behave in like manner, doing as Jesus commands. This is what is expected of us as disciples, as apprentices, of Christ, And where do we find his commands? In the Bible. So study it diligently.

By studying God’s word, I don’t mean just reading a verse out of the Bible App on your phone at breakfast every morning saying, “There I’ve done my Bible bit for today.” Think about the passage and ask yourself questions about it. In Psalm 119:18 it says,
“Open my eyes so I can truly see the marvelous things in your law!”
So ask God to reveal himself as you read his word. And ask yourself questions of the text. For example,
  • What is the context of the passage?
  • What does the passage tell me about God?
  • What does the passage tell me about myself?
  • What does this tell me of the past, the present and the future?
  • Do I need to repent of something
  • What should I take from this into the day ahead?

© Copyright , 2018

Thinx 101: Faith is a verb

"Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; remain in my love. If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commandments and remain in his love."
Jesus never seemed to be in a hurry. He knew where he was going and what he was doing. When the centurion asked Jesus to heal his servant, as recorded in Matthew 8:9, among the things he said was this:
“For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I say to this one, 'Go' and he goes, and to another 'Come' and he comes, and to my slave 'Do this' and he does it."
The centurion could see by Jesus’ manner and behaviour that he was not acting by himself. Jesus knew what was expected of him at any given moment. He saw himself as an active instrument in the hands of his Father.

To receive from the vine then we must listen to what Jesus says and that is best achieved by constant study of his word. Jesus promised us that his Holy Spirit would help us do this.

And it is in our attitude to his Word that we stand or fall.
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.
Where the word of Christ dwells richly there the Christ dwells.

As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote, “The great challenge to those of us who wish to take the Bible seriously is to let it teach us its own essential categories; and then for us to think with them, instead of just about them.”

WWJD is only so helpful as there are many challenges and choices we face for which we have no record of what Jesus did in response. More helpful is HWJT – How Would Jesus Think. If we have the mind of Christ the we will think correctly and respond approriately to every challenge and need.
“For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to advise him? But we have the mind of Christ.”
We also need to make a habit of prayer for this is how we communicate our requests to God
“Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God.”
So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness.
(confess for accountability, not forgiveness as only God can do that.)

And we need to express our Christianity in good works, the one’s that God has prepared for us to do
“For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.” – Eph 2:10
First look to what must be done around you. Are you living with your parents? Honour them!
‘“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment accompanied by a promise, namely, “that it may go well with you and that you will live a long time on the earth.”’
Obey them! Contribute to the running of the household. Keep your room tidy. Accompany your parents on outings from time to time. Be polite to them.

And all these things need to be done with faithful constancy.
“Look, the one whose desires are not upright will faint from exhaustion, but the person of integrity will live because of his faithfulness.”
As God is faithful, so the one who bears the family likeness will also be faithful. Not simply having “faith” but living out that faith faithfully.

© Copyright , 2018

Thinx 100: Glorifying God

"My Father is honoured by this, that you bear much fruit and show that you are my disciples."

— John 15:8

Fruit honours and glorifies God. It is not for our glory. It is not so that we can look good, be highly regarded and receive accolades from the world. The more we reflect the character and nature of God, the more he is glorified.

Fruit is for a purpose. It has beauty and fragrance. It nourishes and promotes health. It demonstrates God’s amazing creativity, power, knowledge and wisdom.
In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.

— Matthew 5:16

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2018

Thinx 99: God is the point, not you

"If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown out like a branch, and dries up; and such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and are burned up. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you."
Your asking will be in line with the nature and goals of God.

Asking whatever you wish does not include necessarily, being forever healthy, having lots of cars, boats, houses, fancy clothes and flaunting ostentatious wealth. One may need a car. But five!?

Abiding in Christ means learning to think, reason and value the way Jesus does. Abiding does not mean making yourself the focus of all effort.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2018

Thinx 98: Cooperating with God

"I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me - and I in him - bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing.
— John 15:5
If one remains in the vine one cannot help but bear fruit. The apples of an apple tree naturally occur because they are the fruit of the apple tree. Certain things will become true of you because you have been grafted into the vine. You will bear fruit that glorifies God. That you have become a Christian glorifies God. God is at work within you."
for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort--for the sake of his good pleasure--is God.
He has begun a work in you and will bring it to completion.
“For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
What fruit you display is because he makes you able to display it. You are now in the vine, so you will produce fruit. God will make sure of that.

Were you still a wild branch you would not be able to understand what God wants and why, for
The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
and many of us still remember what it was like when we ...
... lived out our lives in the cravings of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath even as the rest ...
Only when the Father draws one to himself is one able to respond, to bear fruit, to give sacrifices of praise. The Fall made us all God haters. We cannot understand and we cannot love and we cannot serve and we cannot bear fruit unless the Father draws, the Son saves and the Spirit fills.

Nothing – no thing – great or small can be achieved such that God is glorified except it have its genesis and its revelation in Christ and from our abiding him. Others do great things and are applauded by the world but they already have their reward – people think well of them. But the only way to have God’s applause is for the action to stem from faith in him,
... and whatever is not from faith is sin.
So cooperate with him! Do not resist being purged, pruned and tended. Abide! Remain! And do so actively! Actively submit to the presence, power and purposes of God in Christ through his Spirit.

As we abide in the vine as branches, so we receive what we need for spiritual growth from the vine. But we are not alone on the vine. We are each one of many branches and we each help the other branches to grow through prayer, service and encouragement.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2018

Thinx 97: Abiding

You are clean already because of the word that I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.

— John 15:3-4

Remember that God made the first move in your salvation. He sought you out. He pursued you. He drew you to himself out of totally undeserved grace. There was nothing in you that attracted you to him. Now respond to his seeking by seeking him. You now have his Spirit working in your to will and to do, so will and do.

The fruit you seek comes from the abiding. It does not come primarily from knowing, being or doing but from knowing being and doing in response to and as a result of God’s saving work. The knowing, being and doing don't come first. What comes first is God saving you; taking you, a wild branch, and grafting you in. As Paul says,
“Now if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among them and participated in the richness of the olive root, do not boast over the branches. But if you boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.”

— Romans 11:17-18

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2018

Thinx 96: What fruit is expected from the vine?

"I [Jesus] am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He takes away every branch that does not bear fruit in me. He prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it will bear more fruit."
It is God who cares for the vine. He is the one taking away and pruning. His reputation as a gardener is at stake. He will work at making sure that the vine bears and that the yield is great.

God purges so as to form bigger, better, more flavoursome, more nutritious fruit. In the process you may lose something precious to you, but it may be in God’s plan that that loss is so as to improve your fruit and make you resemble God more in your character and behaviour.

And what is the yield in view? What fruit must come from the Christian? Christianity! Christian-ness! Christ-likeness! In fact some commentators suggest that so far as John is concerned, the sheer fact that you have been grafted into the vine is fruit, because it’s not something you can do yourself – only God can make you, a wild branch, part of the vine.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2018

Monday, May 14, 2018

Thinx 95: Accountability

So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness.
But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.
We confess our sins to God and gain forgiveness. We confess our sins to one another and are accountable. And we pray for one another that each be strengthened and encouraged.

Sanctification goes hand in hand with mortification. Putting to death the deeds of the flesh is painful. We need all the help we can get.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2018

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Thinx 94: Sermon notes #3

Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers,  with the following letter:
    The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings.  Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions,  it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,  men who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth.  For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements:  that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.

— Acts 15:22-29 [ESV] (italics mine)
seemed good ἔδοξεν (edoxen) – make a subjective decision based on personal perspectives and values.

This is what everyone does. So the difference between the Christian and the non-Christian is the personal values. The values/perspectives of the Christian must be informed by Scripture.

Also decisions cannot contradict previous declarations by God. Nor can one claim that the Spirit has told them something that contradicts previous declarations by God, as the Spirit is the 3rd person of the Trinity so what the Spirit says, the Father and the Son also say. What the Father and Son say, so the Spirit also says. E.g. gifts of Spirit are also gifts of Son are also gifts of Father.

So it's just not on to claim that you got a private prophetic utterance from the Spirit that your marriage should be dissolved. The will of God the Father and God the Son concerning marriage has already been stated -- what God has joined together let no man separate (Matthew 19:6). To claim that the Spirit can rescind that is to introduce dissension into the Godhead. Jesus has already stated that a house divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:25). Are you saying that God can be divided against himself?

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2018

Thinx 93: Sermon notes #2

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

— Hebrews 11:5-6 (emphasis mine)

Faith/trust are what it takes to receive anything beyond the usual providential stuff: rain, sunshine, seasons etc. Like it says in Acts 17:28 when Paul is in Athens,"In Him we live and move and have our being."

Decision-making is hard. We are afraid of making the wrong decision. Of “hearing a voice behind you” (Isaiah 30:21) because you had headed off in your own direction.

Everyone does what seems good to them. We also must do what seems right to us. However, we need to do that in the light of God's word and in the context of the people of God (the church). Imagine, having purchased a ticket to fly somewhere, kneeling in a toilet cubicle (in search of some privacy), prayerfully waiting for a voice from heaven authorising you to get on the plane.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2018

Thinx 92: Sermon notes #1

Now someone came up to him and said, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to gain eternal life?” He said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he asked. Jesus replied, “Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “I have wholeheartedly obeyed all these laws. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he was very rich.

— Matthew 19:16-22

Interesting how Jesus asks questions first before giving answers. Interesting too how gracious Jesus is. I'd be saying “Which ones???!!! Seriously?? What are you looking for? The absolute minimum rules to keep so that you can max out on breaking all the others? You want to do some good works so that God will owe you something?"

What was that young man really after? He wanted an answer and got one. It wasn't the answer he was expecting. People ask us questions too. Sometimes we're too quick to give answers. And sometimes we're too quick to say a comfortable lie rather than an uncomfortable truth. After all, saying something that's offensive or disappointing is really bad, right?

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2018

Thinx 91: Preaching

There's an old joke about the minister traveling to a distant church in an outback farming community. He gets there to find that only one man has turned up for the service. The minister asks the man, a farmer, what he should do. The farmer says, "If I take a trailer-load of feed out into the paddock and only one beast turns up, I still feed it."

So the minister does the whole service with all the hymns, the eucharist, the offering, the sermon ... everything. At the end the minister goes to the front door as the farmer ambles out. Shaking the farmer's hand the minister asks how he found the service. The farmers says, "I said I'd feed the beast. I didn't say I'd give it the whole trailer-load!"

So there's this verse in Matthew that keeps prodding me. It says,
“Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time?"

— Matthew 24:25 NRSV

It what I see happening in church when the bloke up front speaks: He's a slave of God. He's talking to other slaves of God. And he's feeding them. And he'd better be feeding them good wholesome food and not junk. The goal is spiritual growth not spiritual indigestion. God will hold him to account for what he says and, I expect, what he fails to say. The barest mininum will not suffice -- the full counsel of God (Acts 20:27) is the goal. And that takes time and commitment both from the speaker and from the listener.

I get it that the world (and even some Christians) think preaching is stupid and out of place in this "scientific age" (whatever that means.) But I believe in it. It seems good to me to preach. It seems good to the Holy Spirit to have people preach. He does good things in peoples hearts when healthy, nourishing food is served up in a sermon.

So I recently had an opportunity to preach at a Redeemed Christian Church of God gathering in Hilton, WA. There were only 10 in the congregation, but I fed them all the same. And it's good that they have a tradition of 50 minute sermons, because I took longer than I expected unpacking Acts 15:1-31. By the time I was done with that, I turned to the pastor, my good friend and neighbour Akin Oyemade, and asked how much time I had left. He said, "it'd be good to wind up fairly soon." Winding up took about 10 minutes but we all got home in time for lunch.

They want me back on the last Sunday in April and likely after that as well.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2018

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Thinx 90: Regeneration

Let me again experience the joy of your deliverance! Sustain me by giving me the desire to obey!

— Psalm 51:12 NET

Without the gift of the desire to obey, we don't. We are helpless. We are "... fast bound in sin and nature's night"[1]. We need a saviour -- one who meets us in our dungeon, shines light into our darkness and sets us free. One who not only gives us the power to do God's will but also give us the desire to do it.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2017

Friday, January 15, 2016

Thinx 89: Forgiveness Leading to Fear? to Love?

But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.

— Psalm 130:4 ESV

"Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little."

— Luke 7:47 ESV

I'm trying to figure this out. How is it that forgiveness leads to fear? Is this just an OT thing or is there more to "fear" than just being afraid? Is there more to "love"? How should we respond to forgiveness, both in the short term and in the long?

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2016

Thinx 88: The Empty Words of the Comfortable

In the thought of one who is at ease there is contempt for misfortune; it is ready for those whose feet slip.

— Job 12:5 ESV

We've all been in these conversations: the one at ease saying what some unfortunate should have done. It's easy after the fact to say what should have been done.

It's easy to sit back and pontificate rather than stand with the unfortunate one, shovel in hand, waist deep in the muck. Words are always easier than actions. If there are to be words let them be of mercy, encouragement and the calling in of God's purity, power and provision. Intercession is far more effective an agent for change than the empty words of the comfortable.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2016

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Thinx 87: Holding On and Being Upheld

Everyday, it's you I live for
Everyday, I'll follow after you
Everyday, I'll walk with you, my lord

— "Everyday", Hillsong United.

I sing it often. Pity it's not true. Sometimes I don't live for God; sometimes I live for others or live for myself. The gap between what I sing and what I am oscillates.
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

— John 10:28 (ESV)

It's just as well Jesus holds me. If my salvation depended upon my efforts alone, there'd be no hope for me.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2015

Thinx 86: Prayer

"Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish."

— Esther 4:16 (ESV)

It has long been known that three days without water is fatal. Esther invites the Jewish community to go with her on a journey to the edge of death. Everyone's prayers will be fervent, sincere and urgent and even more so because if Esther fails to reach the king then all is lost.

Rarely do I intercede with such intensity, as if my life depended on it. I am unhappy with the shallowness of my faith.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2015

Thinx 85: Life After Death

When your days are fulfilled to walk with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom.

— 1 Chronicles 17:11 (ESV)

Note "walk with your fathers". Other translations say "time to die". The latter implies the end of David as a person. The former suggests that David will live on, walking with his fathers (e.g. Abraham, Isaac, Israel) and doing so immediately, not waiting for the resurrection.

Reminds me of the words of Jesus himself:
"But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.”

— Luke 20:37,38 (ESV)

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2015

Thinx 84: Following the Crowd

“You must not follow a crowd in doing evil things; in a lawsuit you must not offer testimony that agrees with a crowd so as to pervert justice,

— Exodus 23:2 (NET)

Even if the crowd has important people in it; even if men and women in lab coats with doctorates say it's a good thing; even if the law of the land sanctions what God forbids; Even if your parents or your spouse or your children think it's OK or least socially acceptable.

I fear God. I know he's not to be trifled with.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2015

Thinx 83: Hiding the Cost of Discipleship

strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

— Acts 14:22 (ESV)

It is unfair not to tell new believers about the inevitable outcome of their choice to believe the Gospel; focusing purely on the wonderful plan that God indeed has for one's future makes for shallow disciples who are thus left unprepared for the schemes and screams of the flesh, the world, and the Devil.

Making the gospel attractive is one thing; being knowingly evasive about the consequences of faith is quite another.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2015

Thinx 82: Persecution and Punishment

For their crime will they escape? In wrath cast down the peoples, O God!

— Psalm 57:6 (ESV)

See the psalmist's plight: hounded all day by enemies who twist his words; who watch his every movement, looking for grounds to accuse. The psalmist has enemies who, like wild animals, acknowledge no law apart from their own evil desire.

Note the psalmist's response: He calls out to God in prayer and praise, expressing trust; he acknowledges his fear and declares its remedy; and he leaves the anger, judgment and punishment to God.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2015