Morning Mashup 04/17

Morning Mashup

A daily mashup of book recommendations, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

The Resurrection of the Son of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God, Vol. 3) | N.T. WRIGHT

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The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus | GARY HABERMAS & MICHAEL LICONA

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ARTICLES

CHRIST’S RESURRECTION AND OUR JUSTIFICATION | LIGONIER

R.C. Sproul: How is the resurrection of Christ linked to the idea of justification in the New Testament?

THE EMPTY TOMB POINTS US TO HOME | BLOGGING THEOLOGICALLY

Aaron Armstrong: Whenever we gather together with a body of believers in the area, even as visitors or semi-regular attendees as we’ve been doing over the last several months,1 it reminds us that there’s still one thing that’s the same, even if the faces and songs aren’t. And that doesn’t change for us just because this Sunday happens to be Easter. If anything, it makes this truth more real for me.

HOW DO I LOVE MY UNBELIEVING SPOUSE? | ASK PASTOR JOHN

The key to persevering in a discouraging marriage is hope and faith from God’s word that he can overcome the divide.

FOLLOW THE WOMEN AT THE TOMB | TGC

Kelly Minter: How many times have I looked for life in places where only dead men live? I’ve peered into the tombs of fame and wealth, stepped into caverns where the powerful and popular preside, and carried my offerings to the pleasures of this world, looking for life. And then the whisper that cuts with the tip of a sword slices through: Why are you looking for life here? Look for Jesus. No life is life except the life he gives.

AN EASTER SUNDAY MEDITATION | STRAWBERRY-RHUBARB THEOLOGY

Dane Ortlund: Easter is the promise of final in-breaking light to every pocket of darkness in our lives. Easter is the proven certainty of a sunrise on every self-inflicted sunset. Easter is the promise of reversal. 

VIDEOS

CHRIST IS RISEN, HE IS RISEN INDEED | TGC

 

 

Who Killed Jesus?: Meditations on the Murder of the Son of God

jacob-meyer-32136The crucifixion of Jesus is the focal point of Christianity because of the nature of the one nailed to the cross. Wayne Grudem has called the crucifixion of Jesus “the most evil deed of all history.”[1] This is because the most innocent man to ever walk the earth died the death reserved for the worst of criminals. An unjust trial led to brutal beatings and ultimate death by crucifixion, and the Son of God was nailed to a sinner’s cross. It is only fair that anyone with a moral conscious would have to wonder who is responsible for such a horrific act. When the innocent are murdered today, they warrant headline news. Jesus was brutally and unjustly killed. It is here we must ask, who did it? Who is responsible for such a horrific act?

The Method of the Murder

Crucifixion was not reserved only for Jesus. It was a form of execution perfected by the Romans. Crucifixion has been called “the most painful and degrading form of capital punishment in the ancient world.”[2] Originally developed by the Assyrians and Persians, crucifixion was later used by the Greeks and Romans as a form of capital punishment for those who opposed the state. By the time Jesus walked the face of the earth, crucifixion had become more and more common, as crosses bearing criminals became a normal sight on the sides of roads leading into towns.

The Roman method of crucifixion also included scourging and flogging.[3] Not only did scourging increase pain, but it also hastened death and was in one sense merciful as the torture of hanging on the cross was greatly reduced. Nevertheless, the torture was not lacking, as the one being crucified was forced to carry his crossbeam to the execution site where he was then stripped of his clothes and bore a sign detailing his crime.

Once at the execution site, the criminal would have his hands either tied or nailed to the crossbeam. A criminal was only nailed to a cross if the executioners desired a quicker death. If nailed, the nails would be driven through the wrists and feet. Though death often resulted from asphyxiation, it was also common for criminals to bleed out. More often than not, crucifixions were inhumanely brutal, torturously long, and indescribably shameful. This brutal form of capital punishment was on display for all to see. A man was stripped, beaten, scourged, flogged, mocked, degraded, dehumanized, and slowly killed as a public display of the nation’s might and resolve to punish any and all enemies of the state.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the sinless Savior, the suffering Servant, died the ancient world’s worst death in the absolute worst way.

A Grand Murder Mystery Party

In seeking to answer the question, “Who killed Jesus?” it is like participating in a cosmic and historic murder mystery party. The Son of Man hangs on a cross, bows his head, gives up his spirit, and dies. He lays down his life for his sheep. But who is to blame? Who is at fault? Who is responsible? As Jesus’ mangled and bloody body hangs from the cross, all look around on top of the hill outside Jerusalem and wonder who truly killed this sinless and innocent man.

Like all good murder mystery parties, we must look for evidence—clues that lead us to the culprit. There are many suspects and many answers we can give. Let’s look at them.

  1. Was it the Romans?

One could argue that it was the Romans who were responsible for the death of Jesus. Rome did have authority in Israel. Rome was the governing empire in Jerusalem, and all who lived in Israel were subject to Roman rule. Crucifixion also belonged to the Romans. It was their form of capital punishment that killed the Son of God, so it must be Rome! After all, was it not the Roman soldiers that actually carried out the act of crucifixion, nailing Jesus to a cross, waiting for him to die? Did not Jesus appear before multiple Roman leaders? What about Pilate? Did Jesus not appear before him (Matt. 27:2)? Wasn’t it Pilate who ordered the death of Jesus (Matt. 27:17, 22, 24; Luke 23:25)? What about Herod? He mocked the Son of God, found him innocent, yet sent him back to Pilate to make the final call (Luke 23:11). These Roman leaders called for the execution of a man they knew to be completely innocent (Luke 23:14-15). Does it get more evil than this?

The prayer of the early church affirms: “For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel” (Acts 4:27, emphasis added). So did the Romans kill Jesus? Yes. Yet their motives were evil, and their role was small.

  1. Was it the Jews?

Though we have meddled through some evidence and seen that, yes, the Romans killed Jesus, there is much more evidence at hand. Could there be multiple culprits, multiple killers? Scripture seems to answer so. Surely, the Jews killed Jesus. Was it not the Jewish leaders who opposed Jesus from day one of his ministry? Was it not the Jews who called for his death (Matt. 27:20, 22-23)? Jesus did appear before the Jewish Council where he was questioned and condemned for blasphemy.

Since it was the Jews who pressured Pilate to crucify Jesus, surely the Jews are responsible for the death of the Christ. Peter himself accused the Jews of murdering Jesus in his Pentecost sermon (Acts 2:23). Again, the prayer of the early church affirms: “For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel” (Acts 4:27). So, did the Jews kill Jesus? Yes. Yet their motives were evil, and their role was small.

  1. Was it Judas?

How about Judas? We have seen that, yes, it could be said that both the Romans and Jews killed Jesus. However, we have more evidence to consider—a suicide victim. What guilt led Judas to the point of suicide (Matt. 27:3-5)? He “betrayed innocent blood” (Matt. 27:4). Judas was one of the original twelve disciples and was chosen by Jesus to follow him. He was a lover of money (John 12:4-6), and he chose silver over the Treasure. It was Judas who betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Matt. 26:47-50; Luke 22:47-48). Judas delivered Jesus into the hands of those who would crucify him. Surely he is responsible for the death of the Son of God. Based on the evidence at hand, can we say that Judas killed Jesus? Yes. Yet his motives were evil, and his role was small.

God Killed Jesus

We have three suspects before us so far—Romans, Jews, and Judas. Each played a role in the death of Jesus. The Romans judged and crucified him. The Jews delivered and accused him. Judas betrayed him. Each of these components led to the death of the Son of God, and each suspect carried out their respective roles with malice in their hearts. However, there is a better “suspect,” if you will. There is a much greater answer we can give to this question. Who killed Jesus? God did. His motives were pure and his role was grand. God is ultimately responsible for the death of Jesus. The Father did not only send his Son to die, but he sent his Son to be killed at his hand. Realizing this radically changes our understanding of God and his love for sinners. In the active work of the Father in the death of his Son, we get a glimpse of his glory and incomparable love.

It is odd to speak of the death of Christ in this way. It seems quite blasphemous to even say, “God killed Jesus.” Killing connotes sin, and we know that God cannot sin (Titus 1:2; Heb. 4:15; 6:17-18). Nevertheless, this is the way the Bible puts it. In the great Servant Song in Isaiah 53, the prophet writes, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted…All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all…Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief (Isa. 53:4, 6, 10, emphasis added). Do you see the active language? God “crushed” his Son. He “put him to grief.” Jesus was “smitten by God.”

Still further in Acts 2:23, Peter proclaims this very idea of divine smiting: “Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” This tells us that behind the evil intentions and actions of the Romans, the Jews, and even Judas was God not merely passively observing, but actively working with the greatest intentions of all. God’s sovereignty over all sin, evil, and suffering is exemplified in the cross of Christ as God is the one who delivers Jesus to be crucified. God smote his Son. God crushed the Christ. God laid on him the iniquity of us all. Who killed Jesus? His Father did. Why? Because God is eternally holy and eternally love (Isa. 6:3; 1 John 4:8, 16). God’s love for his own righteousness and his love for sinners find reconciliation in the death of Jesus. God cannot justly magnify his glory and love sinners without a sinless sacrifice to atone for sin. John Piper words it this way:

The Son was bruised because God-dishonoring sin could not be ignored. And why couldn’t it all be ignored? Why couldn’t God just let bygones be bygones? Because God loves the honor of his name. He will not act as though sin, which belittles his glory, didn’t matter. It cannot simply be swept under the rug of the universe, as though nothing awesome were at stake. The judge of all the earth will do right. He will judge the world in righteousness.[4]

For Love and Glory He Died

God did not sit by idly as lawless men killed his Son. No, God actively killed his Son out of his indescribable love for those who have belittled his glory, defamed his name, and delighted in sin. Who killed Jesus? His Father did. And through this death, God put his glory, his love, his grace and his sovereignty on full display. The Father poured out his wrath on his Son so that guilty sinners would be counted righteous. Jesus bore the wrath of God in our place. Jesus hung in shame on a cross on a hill outside Jerusalem. He was slaughtered by sinful Romans, Jews, and even one of his disciples. Oh, but he hung in glory and love as he bore the sin of those whom God would save. The cross of Christ is a display of sinful man and a sovereign God. In his crucifixion, Jesus’ sinless death displays the glory and love of God for all to see.

In the cross of Christ, we see the righteousness of God in saving sinners. “It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26). Christian, you can delight in God’s prerogative to kill his Son on your behalf. By your faith in the Son who was slain, you will enter into life. In the death of Christ, death found its death.

Because the Father is eternally committed to his glory and passionately loves sinners, he actively designed in eternity past and carried out at the perfect time the death of his Son (Acts 4:27-28). This is the greatest news for you and me. God vindicated his love for his glory and his love for sinners in the substitutionary death of Jesus. Jesus was forsaken, smitten, crushed, and ultimately killed by God all for love, all for glory, and all for the global worship of the Lamb who was slain (Rev. 5:9; 7:9). Rejoice in the God-designed plan of salvation that only comes through the Christ who was “pierced for our transgressions [and] crushed for our iniquities” (Isa. 53:5).

*This post originally appeared as a chapter in my book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God.


[1] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 326.

[2] Grant Osborne, “Cross, Crucifixion” in Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. Chad Owen Brand, Charles W. Draper, and Archie W. England (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 368.

[3] Scourging is the process in which a criminal was “beaten with a whip consisting of thongs with pieces of metal or bone attached to the end” (Ibid., 368).

[4] John Piper, The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God (Sisters: Multnomah, 1991, 2000), 161.

Morning Mashup 04/12

Morning Mashup

A daily mashup of book recommendations, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together | Jared Wilson

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Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture | John Piper

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ARTICLES

THE NEW MARTIN LUTHER MOVIE | PATHEOS

Gene Veith: I’m not a huge fan of this hybrid of documentary and drama, but this one works as well as I’ve seen.  Luther’s life is so interesting and so inherently dramatic that the narrative is gripping and entertaining, even though it is continually interrupted by the scholars.

THE HORROR OF CRUCIFIXION | DESIRING GOD

Tony Reinke: This week we celebrate the death of our Savior. And today we are going to look at the crucifixion from its historical and physical realities.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE RECOVERY | CHRISTWARD COLLECTIVE

Nick BatzigWhen we have sinned in our Christian life or made a error in judgment in pastoral ministry, we need to remember that so much of the Christian life and pastoral ministry is in the recovery.

SOME HELPS FOR FAMILY WORSHIP | VASSAL OF THE KING

Geoffrey Kirkland: What is family worship? What does it look like? How does one get started? Is it really doable in our ‘fast-paced society’? This is the outline that I provided our men to guide us in our discussion through this important topic.

PASTOR, DON’T WASTE YOUR EXCLAMATION POINTS | TGC

Jared Wilson: If you’re one of those rah-rah guys firing on all emotional cylinders for everything from bake sales and the book table to baptisms and baby dedications, you create an equality between minutiae and missional milestones that can be disorienting, and ultimately dulling. But more directly, just remember that if everything is exciting, nothing is.

VIDEOS

MARTIN LUTHER | PATHEOS

 THE UNIQUENESS OF THE PSALMS | LIGONIER

Teach Your Children to Thank God for Basketballs and Balloons

pexels-photo-106225Bedtime is a precious time in the Gilbert home. With two boys under two, both full of energy, evenings, from time to time, find us all a little grumpy and a lot tired. After dinner, the boys are still ready to play, but they are clearly starting to wind down. It doesn’t take much to upset our (almost) two year-old, Jude, and our 7 month-old, Jack, is tough to keep happy as the sun starts to set behind the tree-line across from our house. By this time, I’m not typically in the best of moods. There are some nights when it doesn’t take much to push my buttons. If we aren’t careful, a perfect storm of complaining and grumbling can wreak havoc in our living room.

Which is why our nightly happen of prayer as a family is so important. Every night, just before Jude goes to sleep, we come together to pray. But before we pray we ask Jude to say what he wants to thank God for. His answers are the best. Over the past week, Jude has “tanked” God for Cheerios, trucks, trains, balloons, basketballs, outside, and Jack. The simple practice of thanking God for even the smallest graces he gives is more than just a cute little tradition.

Reminding yourself and your children that every good thing in their lives is a gift from above is a tonic for grumpy, tired souls. Teaching your children to thank God for the things they love is to teach them that God is the source of all blessing. Gratitude teaches the heart to rejoice in God. Raising your children to trust, obey, and enjoy God begins with showing them that God is worthy of our thanks. Training your children to thank God is to declare war on sin and disobedience in their little hearts, as well as yours.

Gratitude is the heart’s joyful response to God’s sovereign reign and saving work on behalf of sinners. Gratitude is not strictly related to the gift that is given, but rather to the giver of the gift. When you are aware of God’s glory and grace in your life, your heart will well up with gratitude, which will then overflow in glad obedience to him. Gratitude requires you to rightly see God’s grace and rightly respond to it.

While gratitude creates faith, ingratitude is central to unbelief and idolatry. The antithesis to gratitude is pride, self-love, and the pursuit of self-exaltation. A failure to give thanks to God is a failure to glorify God. It is a failure to depend on God’s grace. The root of every sin is ingratitude. New Testament scholar Tom Schreiner has written, “All the discrete acts of sin are a consequence of failing to honor and give thanks to God.” This echoes Paul’s words in his letter to the Romans: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21).

Why is ingratitude so central to unbelief? Because in order to turn from sin and trust Christ, you have to see him as always right and yourself as always wrong. You have to see him as possessive of all the resources for the good life. You have to see him as the one from whom all blessings flow. You have to see him as a sovereign Lord in whom all things have their being. You have to see him as the source of righteousness, joy, and life. Faith requires humble gratitude, so a thankless heart is a heart that cannot and will not believe in Jesus for salvation.

The old life in the flesh is a life of thanklessness that rebels against God as sovereign ruler. The new life in Christ is a life of thankfulness that submits to God as sovereign ruler. Ingratitude says, “My way is better than your way!” Gratitude says, “Your way is better than my way!” As Paul counseled Timothy,

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (2 Tim. 3:2-5)

Ingratitude may just be at the heart of this list. The original sin in the Garden was one of ingratitude. Adam and Eve failed to trust God to satisfy them. They failed to be grateful for what God had given them, and they craved the very thing God had forbidden them. Thanklessness led to discontentment and disobedience. The same thing happens in our homes. When we forget to give God thanks with our lips, we will forget to give God thanks with our lives. Thankless hearts lead to thankless lives.

So, we fight discontentment and disobedience with thanksgiving. Gratitude is central to saving faith, worship, and gospel living. Schreiner has said, “The call to give thanks in every circumstance represents the heart of the Pauline gospel.”

Gratitude is central to saving faith because it is through faith that we grasp God’s work on our behalf and renounce all efforts to earn his favor or live life our own way (see Luke 17:11-19).

Gratitude is central to worship because it is through worship that we see God as supremely valuable. We are teaching Jude to worship when we show him that we direct our thanks and delight to God for the good things we have and enjoy.

Gratitude is central to gospel living because it is through gospel living that we reflect God’s character to the world.

I believe the reason many of us fail to pursue holiness with joy is because our motivation for godly living is guilt, not gratitude. The reason many of us cease our spiritual growth after baptism is because we adopt the attitude that we must obey God in order to pay him back for saving us. “Jesus died for you, so what are you going to do for him?” Is this the right kind of motivation to fuel gospel living?

A better way forward to living the good life, the new life we now have in Christ, is to live every second of every day in thankfulness to God. When we are grateful to God, we are aware of his grace that he has freely given us in Christ. Gratitude creates the kind of gospel awareness necessary to cut off the lifelines of sin in our lives. Gratitude looks back in thanks to God for his grace in the past and looks forward in faith in God for his grace in the future.

Gratitude is central to gospel living because through our self-renouncing thankfulness we see both our need for God and his ability and willingness to meet our need. This empowers us to kill sin in its tracks and chase hard after righteousness. Only a grateful heart can thrive in kindness, patience, love, and forgiveness. Only a heart that recognizes God as the rightful ruler of heaven and earth will submit to his will and his ways, and so be conformed to his image.

So, teach your children to thank God for everything–Cheerios, trains, balloons, and basketballs included. Show them that every good thing they have or experience is a gift of God’s grace. In so doing, you will be sowing seeds of faith that may one day take root.

Morning Mashup 04/11

Morning Mashup

A daily mashup of book recommendations, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

The New City Catechism: 52 Questions and Answers for Our Hearts and Minds | TGC

 

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The New City Catechism Devotional: God’s Truth for Our Hearts and Minds | TGC

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ARTICLES

ANXIETY: MY THORN IN MY FLESH | A DAUGHTER OF THE REFORMATION

Rachel Miller: I woke up last week with a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. Nothing, in particular, was wrong, but that didn’t stop my mind from racing through every possible thing that I could worry about. And then it latched on to something. And I began to obsess about it. And worry about it. And I prayed and talked myself down. And then “but, what if?” And then it latched on again. And I continued to obsess about it. And worry about it. And I prayed and talked myself down. Again, and again, and again. For days. Every night I’d go to sleep praying about it. Every morning I’d wake up early with the same dread, and the cycle would begin again. It was exhausting.

YOU’RE WELCOME HERE | DESIRING GOD

Stephen Witmer: The redeeming death of Jesus saves individuals, but it does more than just this. It creates communities, miraculously forming redeemed people into churches who live as family with one another.

ALABAMA GOVERNOR RESIGNS AMID ETHICS SCANDAL | WORLD MAGAZINE

Robert Bentley, an Alabama Republican once known as a champion of family values and conservative Christian morals, resigned as the state’s governor today amid a sex scandal that triggered a state ethics investigation.

A CATECHISM–WITH OUR KIDS? | TGC

Kathy Keller“Catechism—with our kids?” Years ago that was my response when someone suggested we begin doing a catechism with our very young, very active boys. But, to my amazement, it was a truly wonderful experience.

Grandfather Apologizes After Dylann Roof’s Guilty Pleas Add to Sentence | NY TIMES

It was Ms. Collier who stunned the nation by leading a procession of family members who expressed forgiveness for Mr. Roof at his bond hearing, only two days after the shootings. She reinforced that message in addressing Mr. Roof on Monday. “I just want to say,” Ms. Collier said, “have mercy on your soul.”

VIDEOS

WHY IS SIN IRONIC? | GENTLE REFORMATION

Being Beautiful: Flourishing Beauty in a Fallen World

pexels-photo-273929What is a beautiful woman? It’s an age old question with as many answers as there are cultures who have defined beauty. And one whose answer is molded and shaped to fit the culture of the day. Social media, namely Instagram, makes it quite clear how our culture answers this question – thick hair, large bright eyes, full lips, shapely bodies, tiny waists, large diamonds, pricey clothes, and a smile that can pass the “tissue test.” We see pictures of it often; if not every day.

A beauty that’s only skin deep can never change who we are. It’s not enough to make us truly beautiful. It’s much too shallow, too easy to achieve with the right amount of money. It takes hours to perfect but seconds to destroy with something as harmless as a make-up removing wipe, or as tragic as a car accident. And what does this view of beauty say about those of us who don’t fit the mold? Are we inferior? Are we to be pitied? Scripture answers with a resounding no.

In the third chapter of 1 Peter, we find a command that, at first glance, seems like the restrictive commands of a grouchy great grandmother–pointed finger and all. But upon further investigation, we see hope beaming forth in radiant light. Hope for an “imperishable beauty”.

Let’s dig deep into the truths in 1 Peter 3:3-4. What was Peter saying to the 1st century exiled Jews (1:1)? What is the Lord saying to us? The text reads as follows:

“Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

Can’t you see her peering down through her glasses, confidently listing everything you can’t do? Does this mean Ann Taylor and Zales are out? I would argue that Peter, and supremely the Lord, aren’t saying that at all. But if we value our looks and appearance more than “the hidden person of the heart”, we have it all backwards, upside down, wrong.

Have you ever heard the saying, “pretty is as pretty does”? I would dare say that Peter had not. Yet, this picture of adorning our inner person that is hidden from the glances of those around us and from our own eyes when we look in the mirror, echoes just that. Peter is charging women with a high calling and a high standard for beauty. He’s arguing that a beautiful heart is worth the labor. This is a beauty accessible to us all. And this is a kind of beauty that will never fade away.

True beauty cannot be found in the lovely, dainty earrings we wear, or the brand new bag on our arm. We will tire of the earrings. The bag will fade. Our eyes will lose their brightness and crow’s feet will appear even after the smile is gone. If we spend valuable time laboring over what we see in the mirror rather than what God sees in our hearts, the joke’s on us. It’s fading. It’s dying. This is why the Lord values something much more precious; much more eternal. May we take heed of Jesus’ scathing words to the Pharisees,

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matt. 23:27-28)

“But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” The adorning that never rusts nor fades is the hidden person of the heart, a gentle and quiet spirit. While the face wrinkles and the body breaks down, a beautiful spirit continues to live on; and it even becomes more lovely over time. “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” (2 Cor. 4:16). This is a beauty beyond our culture’s fickle preferences. And this is a beauty found in the heart of Jerusalem on a hilltop called Golgatha.

Do you want to know what a “gentle spirit” looks like? Look to the sinless Savior within whom no deceit was found (2:22). What about a quiet spirit? Look no further than the One who was reviled but did not revile in return; who suffered but did not threaten “but continued entrust himself to him who judges justly” (2:23). Where can we find the source of an imperishable beauty? A kind of beauty that is invisible to the world, but can never be snuffed out by its slighting, judgmental eyes? Lift your eyes to the Lord who “bore our sins in his body on the tree” that we might be truly beautiful.

Jesus has set the standard of beauty, even though “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). He was not outwardly beautiful when he came to us as a man. His beauty was found in his pure, righteous, and gentle heart that burst forth with self-sacrificial love. Only he can make us truly and eternally beautiful; only he can give us new hearts that overflow with streams of love. For he says, “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

Ladies, don’t let the standard of beauty all around you deter you from the precious labor–and surrender–of adorning your heart. Sacrifice your wants and desires for those of your neighbor. Put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander (2:1). Love with the endless streams that flow forth from the Lord’s cistern. Stay focused. Rest secure. Be beautiful.

Morning Mashup 04/10

Morning Mashup

A daily mashup of book recommendations, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

This Is Our Time: Everyday Myths in Light of the Gospel | TREVIN WAX

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12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You | TONY REINKE

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ARTICLES

REMEMBERING THE RURAL | CANON FODDER

Michael Kruger: In recent years, this interest in the urban has sometimes turned into a superiorityof the urban, and even a disdain of the rural. Those who are a part of urban churches can sometimes project an attitude, even unwittingly, that urban centers are where “real” ministry happens.

ARE SHORT TERM MISSION TRIPS VALUABLE | EPM

Randy Alcorn‘s answer to the question, “Wouldn’t it be better just to take the money spent on short-term trips and send it to the mission field instead?”

THE OBSCENITY OF THE CROSS AND THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL | TPJ

Timothy Paul Jones: These forsaken bodies—the vast majority of the victims of Roman crucifixion—remained on their crosses to be consumed. Thus their remains disintegrated into the dust of the Roman Empire. But the case of Jesus—a Jew, crucified near Jerusalem on the eve of a popular religious festival—doesn’t fit this pattern.

WHY YOU MAY BE MISREADING SCRIPTURE | LOGOS

Tyler Smith: When we come to familiar passages, like the Easter story, we are tempted to rely more on our memory of the story and less on the text of Scripture itself.

RAISING EXPECTATIONS FOR YOUNG BELIEVERS| REFORMED MARGINS

Erik Odegard: There are young believers throughout our churches who are capable to be trusted with significant responsibilities, gospel labors, and growing in grace.  I pray that we would recognize that God has gifted young believers for the edification of our churches (1 Corinthians 12:7), raise our expectations of them, sharpen them training, and entrust them with significant tasks.

5 LESSONS FROM FALLEN PASTORS | ERIC GEIGER

Eric Geiger: As pastors are removed from ministry, the implications on churches and families are far-reaching. Here are five lessons from a season of fallen pastors, a season that has, at times, felt epidemic.

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Expositional Devotions: Esther 9:16-19

Think of moments of great celebration in your life. Not birthday parties or family reunions. Has there been a day or event in your life that has been cause for special celebration? For some, it is the day they learn they have beaten cancer. For others, it is the birth of a child after years of infertility. Still for some it may be the return of a loved one from a distant battlefield. What day is of special significance in your family that leads to feasting and rejoicing?

After the fighting in Susa had ceased and the enemies of the Jews had been vanquished, there was peace and joy and feasting. A day of true and final salvation had come. The streets of Susa were filled with gladness. Every Jew in every village in the Persian Empire was celebrating their victory over their enemies.

The Jews in Persia did what any nation does after winning a war—they rejoiced. Peace and freedom from their foes had been accomplished. After two days of fighting, the Jews rested and decided to commemorate their rest. The same way we make certain days holidays, the Jews chose to mark their day of rest and victory as a kind of holiday—a day of feasting and gladness.

The Jews have gone from a marginalized and hated people to a celebrated and elevated people. Two of the three most powerful people in the Persian Empire were Jews. Some Persians pretended to be Jews just to stay on the side of the victors. The fear of the Jews spread throughout the kingdom. They finally received the honor that they lacked as exiles.

But, this Jewish feasting and celebrating is merely a glimpse into the celebration that will commence in the New Earth after Christ finally and forever vanquishes his enemies. On that day when sin and death are no more, we will celebrate at a feast like no other with our God who will reign over and with us forevermore. The victory of the Lamb over sin and death is a victory worthy of an eternal celebration. This victory brings true and lasting peace and freedom. In the words of John in Revelation 21,

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Main Idea
God’s victory over sin and death leads to feasting and rejoicing with him.

Discussion Starters
How does knowing that you will one day feast and rejoice with God help you when life gets tough now?

Prayer Points
Ask God for help to look forward to the New Earth when life in the old Earth is hard.


17498999_1870940272931412_6999370580315029592_nMathew Gilbert is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminaryand the author ofCome to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew and his wife, Erica, live in Tupelo with their two boys, Jude and Jack.

Expositional Devotions: Esther 9:6-15

If Esther 9:1-5 was a declaration of the grand reversal, verses 6-15 serve as the description of the reversal of fates. And boy what a description it is. I always appreciate when history/narrative books of the Bible are thorough in describing events. Bible book authors don’t shy away from details. The author of Esther is no exception. Though the battle descriptions aren’t too graphic, they aren’t exactly the best bedtime story either. These verses may not be “family friendly,” but they are factual. And the facts before us tell a story of God’s judgment, faithfulness, and mercy.

Esther 9:6-15 describe the bloodshed that commenced on the thirteenth of Adar between the Jews and their attackers. When you think of this war don’t think of the invasion of Normandy in World War II. As Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944 there was vicious fighting and gunfire from both sides. Both sides suffered many casualties. Many men on both sides of the fight were killed. The fighting that occurred in Susa and all the Persian Empire was unlike most wars. This war was completely one-sided. The Jews completely conquered their enemies. It was a sweeping annihilation of all those who attacked them.

When we read or hear of the Jews killing over 800 Persians in Susa alone, it makes our eyes and ears quite uncomfortable. The original readers of Esther would have been cheering at this point in the story. We just sit quietly and scratch our heads. In thinking about Persian bloodshed at the blades of Jewish swords, we need to keep a few things in mind.

First, the Jews were participating in what we would call “just war.” The Jews’ attackers were not innocent bystanders. Persian followers of Haman instigated an unjust war because their fighting was based on hatred. The Jews, on the other hand, were right to defend themselves against their enemies. So, the Jews weren’t bloodthirsty mongrels, but rather a people fighting for their lives.

Second, the Lord had given the Persian attackers into the hands of his people. As he has done throughout the history of his people, God judged his enemies at the hands of his people.

Third, God displays his steadfast love and mercy toward his people. At just the right time and just the right way, God preserved his people from annihilation. His commitment to his people is not his response to their righteousness, but rather an outworking of his. If you belong to God in Christ, he is forever and always committed to you, and none of your enemies will be able to ultimately succeed against you.

Main Idea: God judges his enemies and shows mercy to his people.

Discussion Starter: Do you think it was right for the Jews to kill all their enemies? Why?

Prayer Points: Thank God for his merciful commitment to you despite your sin against him.


17498999_1870940272931412_6999370580315029592_nMathew Gilbert is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew and his wife, Erica, live in Tupelo with their two boys, Jude and Jack.

The Death of Death in the Greater David

 

The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. –1 Corinthians 15:26

The Sunday School teacher gave two strikingly opposite descriptions of two men. One man’s name was Goliath. He was a Philistine. He was a tremendously terrifying warrior—the best of the best among the army of the Philistines. He was a mountain of a man. His armor was impressive. He possessed an arrogant confidence. This is the guy all the kids love to think about and the one we indirectly encourage many of them to be like.

However, the teacher moved to describe another “man.” This other man’s name was David. He was the son of Jesse from the tribe of Judah. He was a shepherd boy, the youngest of his brothers. He was armed with only a slingshot and a few stones. Yet, he also exhibited a confidence, a vibrantly humble and dependent confidence in “the living God” (1 Sam. 17:26). He was fearlessly confident in Yahweh (v. 37). He was a Savior. He was not the savior Israel wanted, but he was the savior Israel needed.

Similarly, we all face a gigantic enemy. His name is Death. In the words of Jeremiah, “For death has come through our windows, has entered our palaces, to kill off the children–no longer to be outside! And the young men–no longer on the streets!” (Jer. 9:21). Death haunts every human. Regardless of race, language, culture, time, gender, or worldview, death relentlessly pursues us all. We can do nothing to control it. We can do nothing to avoid it.

Despite the various rungs on the ladder of life on which we all stand—some higher, some lower—death crushes the ladder itself and we all lie together in the rubble of death’s blow. In his book on the death and resurrection of Jesus, Captivated, Thabiti Anyabwile writes, “We deserve death because of our sin, but we hate it because of life.”

Death is a valiant enemy, one that for thousands of years has destroyed even the strongest and most noble of mankind. Death does not discriminate. The 90 year-old woman dies warm in her bed and the 10 year-old child dies cold in the street. And much like Israel, we all stand before this dark enemy with sheer dread. Who among us will go out to face this conquering devil?

Enter: Jesus. Jesus was the son of Joseph and Mary. Like David, he was born in Judah, in Bethlehem. He was a carpenter, an ordinary guy. He was not wealthy and in his adulthood had no place to call home. Yet, there was something unique about this ordinary Judean. Jesus was the Son of God. He carried with him divine authority. And he showed himself to be the long-awaited Messiah. However, he was not the Messiah, not the Savior Israel or we want, but he is exactly the kind of Savior we need. Indeed, he is the only Savior.

Jesus is the greater David who conquers the enemies of his people. He is the hero we wouldn’t expect, but just the hero we need. He is called the one “who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10). Jesus conquered death once for all, but he did so by succumbing to death itself. Death forever died the day Jesus died. Through suffering, Jesus ensured suffering’s eternal defeat. When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead three days later he delivered death a blow far greater than death itself gives. In Christ alone we see death’s demise and the restoration of all things.

Therefore, in the death and resurrection of Jesus we see both life and death. Jesus grants us what death takes and grants death what it so loves to give. The only true and lasting hope in the face of death is the hope we find in Jesus, the greater David who died not only to give his people life, but to destroy death. As Anyabwile puts it, “Though we see people still dying, a time fast approaches when the experience of death will be done away with.”

So, as you see death and face death, do so with real sorrow and real joy. Real Christlike sorrow because we hate that which robs life (John 11:35). Real Christ-empowered joy because by his death and resurrection, Jesus achieved eternal victory over death. Death, my friends, is done.

When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)
Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14).
Christian, when you are faced with death look to Jesus. Not as some super spiritual fantasy of comfort. Look to Jesus for real, earthy sorrowful-yet-always-rejoicing kind of comfort. Stand firm. Do not succumb to fear or temptation. Death does not have the last word for those who are in Christ. Jesus, the life-giving Savior, has the last word. When you see death or stand at the precipice of death, say confidently,
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

17498999_1870940272931412_6999370580315029592_nMathew Gilbert is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminaryand the author ofCome to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew and his wife, Erica, live in Tupelo with their two boys, Jude and Jack.