Posted in life, theology

Your Worst Life Now

By Elizabeth Prata

I saw this meme on Twitter. The ‘best life now’ mantra offends me.

I’m personally glad that this is my worst life now. It’s hard and upsetting. I can’t wait until there is only joy and peace.

As for the unsaved, sadly, John MacArthur said at the Strange Fire conference some years ago,

All peoples need to hear this mantra, which is no mantra but only absolute truth:

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)

 

Posted in conception, encouragement, jesus, life, science

Flash of light announces life

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (Genesis 1:1-5)

This actually happened. It happened the way the Bible records it happening. God created everything. With HIS VOICE!

Awesome.

Anyway, we read in 1 John 1:5, This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

God is light. He is unapproachable light. (1 Timothy 6:16).

I read a cute story in the Science section this week. You might have read it as well. It’s this:

Human life begins with ‘flash of light,’ claim scientists

A “flash of light” marks the beginning of life in humans, according to a study conducted by researchers from Northwestern University in Chicago. Scientists were able to capture in video the light or “fireworks” that break out when a human egg is activated by sperm, which mimics the process of conception. During fertilization, the amount of calcium in the egg increases, and the egg releases zinc. As the zinc is released, it bursts into light. This happens every time conception occurs.

It makes sense that light accompanies life, as we read in John 1:1-3

All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.

God is life. God is Light. God ordains all life, creates it, sustains it, numbers it, and calls it home.

Human life begins with a flash of Light. God is good.

Posted in death, Jesus atonement, life, resurrection

The sting of death

EPrata photo

Wen a bee stings, it shoots the stinger into the flesh, and the wound stings and hurts, it inflames and it pains. However, the bee dies.

Jesus took the sting from death when His perfect life and His sacrificial death pleased God and God resurrected Him from death.

Now, those who believe on the name of Jesus, His continued life in Heaven, and soon to return appearance in Sovereign glory, will live forever. Jesus still has the scars on His hands, but the sting of death for us who believe is removed forever. Our death is simply a passage from a world which is not our home, into permanent glory and everlasting life in Jesus’ home He pas prepared for us.

Those who do not believe however, rightly fear the sting of death. For them, death is not a passage into glory but a descent into hell. The sting of death is not removed for them, because they have not believed on the name of Jesus as Lord and Savior. Not only is the sting of death not removed from them, but they will bear the pains and scars and hurts and punishment for their sins forever in the flames.

Jesus is the most precious, most beautiful, most glorious Person in the universe. Believe in His work on earth during His life and believe in His substitutionary death for sinners, and believe in His resurrection to everlasting life. Why?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Posted in bible study, life, summer

Switching to summer mode

I am a 54-year-old kindergarten special education teacher’s aide. School with the kids let out a week ago, and teachers and staff finished Friday. That means this is the first official summer day for me, being the first week-day I am not headed to school for a 7:15am starting bell.

I don’t like to write a lot about myself, but occasionally I believe it’s warranted. People need to get a context of who I am and what I am about so they can assess credibility. There are many Christian bloggers who aren’t members of a local congregation, or who don’t believe in real life ministries, don’t perform a service, don’t submit to oversight of pastors or elders, or who don’t read the Bible. I am not one of those.

The Lord made it clear to me that I am not to be married. It is also clear that He gave me a delight in and a talent for teaching children. I was formerly a certified teacher but stopped some years ago to do other things like travel and become editor of a weekly newspaper. When I moved from Maine to Georgia, I returned to education once again but as a vastly different person. This time I came to education as a single, born-again, elder woman whom the Lord wants to use for His glory both at school and out of school. He designed my life so that I can be fulfilled in working with children in a not-too-stressful job, use it as a ministry both to kids and colleagues, but also to have lots of time off to write blog essays, based on the available time He has blessed me with.

So when the school vacations and summer rolls around, I am aware that I have a duty to redeem the time He has afforded me and to use the talents He has given me as a spiritual retreat and opportunity to dig into His word in a way I would not if I had a more stressful job, or a husband & family.

So I do. I’m filled with gratitude at the life He has given me and want all the more to glorify His name in all I think, say, and do.

However I am fleshly and given large quantities of time I can easily sink into laziness and simply end up watching endless episodes of “Sea Patrol” and reading easy novels in between naps.

In order to stay diligent and productive, I make a schedule. This is my day.

When I awake I am pretty refreshed and I after making coffee I sit down and begin study immediately. I pray through my prayer list. I then study.

I begin with reading the Bible. I recently finished 1 Corinthians so I sought advice from my teaching-pastor as to next steps. The past two summers he has given me a project to do and these have proved helpful in giving me summer structure. He suggested I read Galatians-Ephesians-Philippians-Colossians. He suggested I compare and contrast, and also look for the similarities in each books’ use of presenting the indicative before the imperatives.

I love my Logos 6 software so I plugged in the four books into the software and generated a reading plan that would take 50 days to complete.

I am blessed with having lots of study aids, which I’ll get to in a minute, but I believe that the best approach is two-fold: first prayer, then study the actual Bible. I read it directly.

After I read the designated chapters and have prayed in thanks, then I move to some study aids. Whatever the Spirit has pricked in me is what I go forward with next. Was I interested in looking at a map or atlas to see where Galatia is? Is there an archaeological dig with recent discoveries I can learn from? Did I get hung up on a word and need to do a Greek or Hebrew word study? Was there an animal or plant mentioned I’d like to follow upon? Is there a doctrine I would benefit by comparing to others in the NT? Is there a person mentioned I can learn more about by studying their biography? What does the Commentary say?

After the discipline of reading with prayerful attention, then I let loose my mind and see where the Spirit will take me. In the past, this combination has worked well for me. I believe this is one of the ways, with me anyway, He knits together a wider perspective and a greater understanding. I first put in the work to read His word, and it’s not always easy, then He takes a seed and blows it and I follow. He directs my steps. Almost always, after reading the Bible I will look at my MacArthur commentary and usually the Matthew Henry Commentary to flesh out ideas.

Quite often this is when I receive an idea for a blog essay. Not always, but usually something from my morning reading will spark me into a direction, or will dock with another idea I’d had previously and I’ll follow up on it and write. I put the idea down in draft and then I make breakfast and get dressed.

I don’t like to hang around in my PJs all day. I think it’s important to be dressed early just as if I was headed for work, albeit a few hours later 😉

I’ll write. This takes me hours. For the better part of the next four or five hours I’ll write a blog essay on and off, combined with study, cleaning up the kitchen, looking at Twitter or other people’s blogs and listening to sermons or other Christian-oriented audio while I putter.

For the record, I can heartily recommend the following Bible teachers as trustworthy expositors:

John MacArthur
Phil Johnson
David Martyn Lloyd-Jones
S. Lewis Johnson

and also
Alistair Begg, Sinclair Ferguson, Adrian Rogers. I also enjoy Voddie Baucham and RC Sproul but not on the eschatological texts.

Yes here’s the ubiquitous study photo. Bible, commentary, notebook, theological book
I’m currently reading, coffee, laptop with Logos 6,
and tissues because studying the Word is so moving

In the afternoon I slow down and around 3:30 or 4:00, about the time I’d be coming home from school, I’ll switch to personal stuff. Then and only then do I watch Netflix or Hulu. I might read a novel. I listen to sermons while I craft at the kitchen table. I play with my photographs in post-processing software, I’ll cook, go outside and take photos in the softening light. I answer emails.

Mixed in with these usual days are real-life discipling opportunities I do with people once per week, and church twice per week. It’s important to stay connected with a local congregation. Virtual ministry doesn’t substitute for real life ministry. I also go out once per week to get groceries. I try not to use the car much because summer is a time I can save on fuel consumption as one of the only discretionary utility bills I have control over. The less I browse and shop the less I crave and covet, so I restrict my shopping to groceries and try to stay away from Amazon, too, lol, though I LOVE to buy books. Pay for a teacher aide in Georgia is not too high but the Lord provides me with all I need to survive and thrive. I value time more than money. I really do have everything I need here in this little apartment that during the summer I call The Hermitage.

So that’s it. I am a writer/blogger who studies the Word and I really am a member of a Baptist church and I really do serve in real life ministries, as well as all the stuff I do online.

I thank each and every one of you. So many of you have written to me to encourage me or provide oversight or offer sympathy or ask great questions. I love you my brethren, and I’m grateful not just for the time here to write and study but I’m humbled by and grateful to you, real people who bless me with your comments and questions. You keep me continually realizing that our faith constitutes a kingdom of people from all over the world! Because of you I don’t get myopic or depressed at the state of things. I’m encouraged by you and energized by you, the thriving Kingdom of people whom Jesus loves and the Spirit indwells and God in His timing will glorify. Just imagine the Day when we all meet each other in the air!

Let me not forget to mention Study Aid #1: Bert

Study Aid #2: Luke. He’s saying, “Hey it’s my turn!”

Not to be outdone, Murray is on scene below, Study Aid #3

Posted in bucket list, death, life

Of bucket lists, fear of death, and eternal perspectives

Example of a bucket list

I read Tim Challies’ link to Randy Alcorn’s piece on ‘bucket lists’. Alcorn, whose niche field of study is heaven and whose ministry is named Eternal Perspective Ministries wrote an essay recently titled “You don’t need a bucket list“. It is sooo true, having an eternal perspective changes everything.

Bucket list is a term popularized by a 2007 movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. The term refers to a person making a list and doing all that is on it before one dies, or ‘kicks the bucket.’

Mr Alcorn wrote:

The idea is, since our time on earth is limited, if something is important for us to do, we have to do it now, because this is our only chance to do it.


This makes sense from a naturalistic worldview, one which doesn’t recognize any afterlife. It also makes sense from various religious worldviews that maintain there may be existence after death, but without resurrection and physical properties, and with no continuity between this life and the next. The one worldview in which the bucket list makes no sense is biblical Christianity.

and…

For the Christian, death is not the end of adventure, but our exit from a world where dreams and adventures shrink, and entrance into a world where dreams and adventures forever expand.

The resurrection’s reality makes bucket lists unnecessary. The interesting thing is I never talk about bucket lists. However the day after I read the Alcorn article, someone raised the topic and I became involved in a discussion about bucket lists. The conversation brought the Alcorn article to mind. I love how that providentially happens!

I was saved when I was 42. I had many years decades of secular living before the eternal perspective came in. In the conversation I explained that I’ve already checked everything off my bucket list. The other person said I should make a new list.

I thought to myself, “Why? I did all that I’d wanted before, I now have all that I need for victorious living, and in the future I’ll have the entire world, universe and best of all, Jesus.”

That thought got me thinking further about why secular people make bucket lists in the first place, or at least why I did.

It’s the fear of death.

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. (Hebrews 2:14-15)

Death comes for all of us eventually. EPrata photo

And again in Romans 8:15 we read of the fear-

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Note the connection in the Hebrews verse of the fear of death and slavery. The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary says,

Christ by delivering us from the curse of God against our sin, has taken from death all that made it formidable. Death, viewed apart from Christ, can only fill with horror, if the sinner dares to think.

Because, behind the fear of death is the fear of judgment. All people know and understand that there are standards to behavior. God has made it plain to them. (Romans 1:18-20). We all have a conscience and a moral compass. We instinctively know that murder is wrong, for example. Each person has a conscience in them and knows that they do wrong, all the time. What they suppress is Who they do wrong against. Therefore they suppress the truth and focus on this life rather than an afterlife. And because an afterlife is too terrible to contemplate, we try to make this life as fun as possible. Hence, a bucket list.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ changed everything. The disciples who were with Him heard His words about going away and were mightily troubled. However Jesus reassured them, that His death would bring eternal life, and they would be with Him forever. (John 14, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” speech).

All of the disciples of Jesus since that upper Room Discourse are similarly reassured. The atoning work of Jesus on the cross and the Father’s approval of His Son’s work by raising Him from the dead, reassures us that all who are in Christ will possess the very great treasure. This treasure is eternal.

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matthew 13:44)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, (1 Peter 1:3-4)

Why cling to a bucket when we have all treasure already? When nothing will be denied to us, and we can do, see, and experience all that Christ will has to offer?

As Alcorn said, it is good to want to experience new things, and to have goals written down on a list. There is nothing wrong with that. However, the impetus behind the bucket list is removed from us due to Christ’s resurrection. There is no need to hurry up, no fear is warranted, no worries about missed opportunities. The best is not now, but is actually to come. Maybe I’ll make a POST-bucket list.

–Fly over to Saturn to view the rings up close
–Applaud Jesus’ formation of new Earth and new Heaven
–Do good work for Christ without selfish motivations or sin polluting it
–Have long conversations learning from Abraham, Noah, Enoch, Elijah, …
–Sit at the feet of Jesus and watch Him rule and reign in perfect love and justice
–Smell a flower
–Look up all my ancestors, all the way back, who made it to heaven
–Read the bible with perfect understanding

But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. 55″O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?“(1 Corinthians 15:55)

Life everlasting in Jesus
Posted in death, eternity, life, prophecy

Deathbed words. Do we die before our time?

Source: The Graphics Fairy

I read this on Facebook from No Compromise Radio

“Deathbed words: “I am dying before my time and my body is going to return to the earth.This is the fate of Napoleon the Great.”

The dead always think it’s too early to die. It is never too early to die. It’s always just right.

God numbers our days and they are determined from long before the foundation of the world. He has appointed each one of us to a time, and a nation and a place. He stretches out our days or years to the exact amount of time He wants us to walk the earth. He appoints some to His wrath and others to His joy.

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Thessalonians 5:9)

The appointment of God’s grace is here mentioned as the efficient cause of our salvation; and the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Mediator through whom salvation is bestowed. (Pulpit Commentary)

If there are some appointed to salvation then that means there are some appointed to wrath. Gill’s Exposition says,

For God hath not appointed us to wrath,…. To destruction and ruin, the effect of wrath; though there are some that are vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction, of old ordained to condemnation, and who are reserved for the day of evil;

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)

I’d said at the start that the dead (unsaved people) always think that their death is too early. No one who is unsaved think their death comes too late. Or rarely do they think so. But we all have a number of days.

Man who is born of a woman
is few of days and full of trouble.
2He comes out like a flower and withers;
he flees like a shadow and continues not.
3And do you open your eyes on such a one
and bring me into judgment with you?

4Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?
There is not one.
5Since his days are determined,
and the number of his months is with you,
and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass,
6look away from him and leave him alone,
that he may enjoy, like a hired hand, his day. (Job 14:1-5)

Matthew Henry says of the Job passage, and eloquently too,

Job enlarges upon the condition of man, addressing himself also to God. Every man of Adam’s fallen race is short-lived. All his show of beauty, happiness, and splendour falls before the stroke of sickness or death, as the flower before the scythe; or passes away like the shadow.

Source: The Graphics Fairy

The dead have only a short life to cling to, but the living have Jesus, who is the Giver of Life and the Eternity in which we dwell. Since they know, and we know, our days on earth are short, how will we spend them?

I hope it is that we will share life. Share the Gospel today. For some, death will come early. At least, compared to eternity, it will feel very early.

No Compromise Radio also posted these deathbed words from a person who knew Jesus:

Live in Christ, die in Christ, and the flesh need not fear death.” ~John Knox

Posted in death, life, salvation

You will be swallowed up

It’s one or the other. There is no need to make it more complex than it is.

Swallowed by death,

Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it. (Isaiah 5:14 KJV)

Swallowed by life,

For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (2 Corinthians 5:4 ESV)

The difference between being swallowed by death or life is repentance of sins and falling onto Jesus. He is mighty to save. Be saved today.

Posted in encouragement, life

Breathing out milkweed

EPrata photo

I think milkweed is pretty. I’m tickled by how ephemeral it looks, shining delicately in the sun, and then, poof, the next day the threads are all gone.

Milkweed is an apt illustration of the temporary nature of our days on earth. We usually look to the James verse to make the point (James 4:14) but I got stuck on this Isaiah verse this morning.

Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem? (Isaiah 2:22)

All the puffs we’ve already breathed are gone. The next breath is not promised. We only have the breath that’s in in our nostrils now.

What will we do for Christ?

How will we live for Him?

Don’t take too long to decide.

Posted in encouragement, life, psalm

What to do when you feel like life is squashing you down–

Feeling a little like this, lately?

How about this instead?

“But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah. I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.” (Psalm 3:3-6)