Posted on May 14th, 2013 by David Burnette
If you’ve benefited from the biblical resources produced by Crossway, not least of which is the ESV Study Bible, see the following from Lane Dennis, Crossway’s President, regarding the recent flood which significantly damaged their facilities:
Some of the priority projects affected include:
- Translation costs for the ESV Chinese Study Bible, to be published in Mainland China
- Printing costs for 60,000 copies of the Chinese-English ESV bilingual Bible, also for publication and distribution in Mainland China
- Completion and global distribution of the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible this fall
- Development of the Knowing the Bible studies, to be offered free digitally worldwide
To support Crossway or learn more, go here.
Posted on May 14th, 2013 by David Burnette
The audio and video of Pastor David Platt’s teaching sessions at Secret Church 13, “Heaven, Hell, and the End of the World,” are now available for a free download under our ‘Resources’ tab. Simply click here.
You can choose between two different options for the Study Guide, which is also free. You can download a Study Guide with open blanks, or with answers filled in.
In order to purchase a DVD, a hard copy of the Study Guide, or bundle packaging, go here.
If you haven’t already, get a small group together and work through these crucial topics.
Posted on May 13th, 2013 by David Burnette
It almost sounds cliched now to hear Christians criticize our culture’s distorted definition of love. And, of course, this criticism is warranted. People seem to be using the word ‘love’ and then pouring in any old definition that suits their purposes.
We should question our culture’s squishy, unbiblical view of love, but we need to make sure that we put something more solid in its place. To do this, there are few places in Scripture that offer us more help than 1 Corinthians 13. This is a text we often hear at weddings, and it certainly fits the bill in terms of how husbands and wives ought to relate to one another. However, love in 1 Corinthians 13 is more than sentimental and pink roses; this is the work of the Spirit in the believer’s heart.
Paul expounds on the theme of love to believers in Corinth who were struggling with pride and divisiveness. For them (and for us) the apostle seeks to explain biblical love and to help us spot it.
Based on 1 Corinthians 13, we can identify 6 things that do NOT necessarily indicate that love is present:
- speaking with the tongues of men and of angels (1)
- possessing prophetic powers (2)
- understanding all mysteries and all knowledge (2)
- believing in such a way that mountains are moved (2)
- giving away all your possessions (3)
- sacrificing your body to be burned up with fire (3)
So if these things are not necessarily indications that love is present, what should we look for? Paul tells us that love is:
- patient and kind (4)
- not envious or boastful or rude (4-5)
- not insistent on its own way (5)
- not irritable or resentful (5)
- not glad about wrongdoing (6)
- glad about the truth (6)
- willing to bear, believe, hope, and endure all things (7)
- never-ending (8)
Much more could be said of the Bible’s definition and description of love, but 1 Corinthians 13 gives us a good start. Notice that the first list above, the things that don’t necessarily mean that true love is present, don’t require a transformed heart. Possessing great power, great abilities, and even sacrificing one’s own life can be done without a heart transformed by the Spirit. However, the second list of items requires new desires and affections.
We cannot simply muster up the willpower to stop being envious or to genuinely rejoice with the truth. Sure, some of these characteristics are present in unbelievers, at least in part; this is part of being created in God’s image. However, a genuine work of the Spirit will produce a love that perseveres in each of these characteristics. Christians don’t love perfectly, but they do continue to grow in this kind of love.
As we rightly call into question our culture’s perverted definition of love, let us keep in mind what love really looks like. And if we forget how to spot it, 1 Corinthians 13 can serve as our guide.
Posted on May 13th, 2013 by Jonathan Lenning
Kurd, Kurmanji of Turkey
Language: Kurdish, Northern
Religion: Islam (93.19%)
% Christian/% Evangelical: 0.01%/0.00%
About: The Northern Kurds of Turkey live in the most rugged part of Kurdistan. They are located near the Turkey-Iran border, and eastward along the Iraq and Syrian borders. In the mountain regions, winter temperatures drop to -30C. In the summer, they reach 45C. Water is scarce; and malaria, tuberculosis, and trachoma are persistent problems.
Kurds are divided by both outside influences and internal strife. In spite of their longing for a united Kurdistan, the people have not yet initiated any political or liberation movement. Historical trends have driven them apart and accentuated their differences. However, since 1965, these proud and fiercely independent people have made a clear return to their roots. The urge to speak Kurdish is becoming a catalyst for more and more educated Kurds. Although they have suffered set-backs since the Gulf War, this nationalism is laying the foundations for a Kurdish cultural and literary revival.
What are their lives like?
Kurds in Turkey make their living in the same way their relatives do in Iran and Iraq: farming, and raising cattle and goats. The area is well wooded, although the demand for firewood is slowly thinning the supply of trees. Although a few Kurds still live the semi-nomadic lifestyle of their ancestors, most now live in small villages of less than 2000 people.
Although Kurdish farming techniques are somewhat archaic, they are now being integrated into the Turkish capitalist market. Cotton, sugar, beets, and tobacco, are replacing the traditional food crops. The Kurds grow them for the Turkish market and for export. Kurdistan is also the main source for cattle, sheep, goats, and animal products in Turkey. Kurdish agriculture has changed little since the Middle Ages and is far behind the rest of Turkey.
Large families are the rule and most households have at least five or six members. Disintegration of the tribal structure began at the turn of the century and entered its final phase in the seventies. Massive migrations to the towns, as well as other cultural and social changes, have contributed to the extinction of tribal society.
Schools are ill-equipped and there are too few of them. Medical care is inadequate in the towns and almost non-existent in the rural areas.
What are their beliefs?
Nearly all Kurds are Muslim, most being Shafiite Sunnis, and embraced Islam following the Arab conquests if the seventh century.
Although Kurds are predominantly Sunnis, there is stormy hostility between the Sunni Kurds and the Shi’ite Kurds. These differences have class overtones, and the lower class minorities are associated with the more unorthodox sects of Islam. These have proven to be the most fervently rebellious parts of Kurdish society.
Even among the Sunni Kurds, there are traces of an earlier pagan and violent type faith which sets them apart from other Muslims. In the rural areas, a few still believe in jinnis, demons, and elements of animal worship. Mullahs (Muslim spiritual leaders) play an important role in the social and cultural life of those living in the country. Religious fraternities operate throughout Kurdistan. In the past, some influential sheiks (spiritual leaders) even became members of parliament. However, as time went by, their authority began to crumble. Today, their spiritual and economic power is being challenged.
What are their needs?
The Kurds have followed Islam for many years. Although the New Testament is now available in their language, there are few known Northern Kurd believers.
Physically, the Kurds live in very poor conditions. Good water supplies are scarce, and they are exposed to diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. Politically, they are oppressed by the government. They need the liberty to educate their children in their own language.
- Ask the Lord to call qualified Christian doctors who are willing to go to Turkey and share their medical expertise as well as Jesus Christ with the Kurds.
- Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Kurds who are Christians.
- Ask God to send more laborers to work among the Kurds.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Kurds towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
- Pray that God will open the hearts of Turkey’s governmental leaders to the gospel.
- Ask the Lord to raise up a strong local church among the Northern Kurds of Turkey.
Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! – Psalm 117:1
Posted on May 12th, 2013 by Cory Varden
Here’s this week’s episode of “Well Said”. Better late than never, right?! Intriguing discussion between Andrew Wilson and Rob Bell regarding Christianity and homosexuality. There is much to be learned here from Wilson about how to engage in a civil discussion on this matter.
You can read some additional insights from Trevin Wax on this by clicking here.
Posted on May 10th, 2013 by David Burnette
Is it wrong to lead someone in a “sinner’s prayer”? David Platt asks Mark Dever about the dangers of false conversion and false assurance in our evangelism.
Parts 1-4 of this conversation can be seen here.
Posted on May 9th, 2013 by David Burnette
World magazine is reporting the following concerning Saeed Abedini, the American pastor who is being held in Iran’s infamous Evin prison:
“Iranian authorities released American pastor Saeed Abedini from solitary confinement today after forcing him to spend the week of his birthday in a “small dark hole,” according to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
Abedini, imprisoned for 225 days in Evin Prison because of his Christian faith, turned 33 on May 7 while in solitary confinement. Supporters sent more than 52,500 birthday messages to the prison addressed to Abedini.
His wife, Naghmeh, wrote in a letter: “With tightness in my throat, pain in my heart, and tears streaming down my face … I promise to stand strong in the strength of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ fighting with every strength of my being until you are united to our family again.”
Read the full story here.
This is good news, especially considering the physical suffering Pastor Abedini was previously facing according to a previous article posted by Christianity Today on April 19th. See the earlier story here.
Posted on May 9th, 2013 by Jonathan Lenning
The following is one of the May 3 prayer updates from Voice of the Martyrs:
“Persecution of Christians by Muslim extremists continues to increase in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. Pastor Mathayo Kachili was killed in Buseresere, Tanzania, recently by radical Muslims who attacked him with machetes. Pastor Mathayo was a husband and father of 12 children. VOM workers met with his wife, Generosa, to encourage and comfort her, and also helped provide some of her needs, including shelter, food, clothing and seed money to start a small business. Christianity is still the majority religion in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, and church growth has been remarkable in the last 20 years. But Islamists in the north have been pouring resources into East Africa to radicalize the Muslim population and drive out Christians.”
For more information about persecuted believers and how you can pray for them, be sure to check out Voice of the Martyrs. Open Doors also offers a variety of useful information to help us better support our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world.
Posted on May 8th, 2013 by David Burnette
Among the various theories and images related to the cross – redemption, reconciliation, etc. – John Stott referred to Christ’s substitution as the “foundation of them all” (The Cross of Christ, 168). Stott is surely on the mark here. If Christ had not willingly substituted himself in the place of sinners, bearing God’s holy and just wrath, none of God’s blessings would be ours. Only His judgment would remain.
However, in the previous post we saw that 1 Peter presents Jesus as our example. Peter calls on us to imitate the One who trusted and obeyed God perfectly in the midst of unimaginable suffering (1 Pet 2:21). But how do these two realities fit together? How does Jesus’ substitution relate to his example for us? Or does it?
One way to answer this question would be to look at 1 Peter 2:21-24, where the theme of imitating Christ is tied to Christ’s death on behalf of sinners. Peter tells the believers scattered throughout Asia Minor that Christ left them an example in the way that He suffered. They are to “follow in his steps” (21). Jesus didn’t sin, revile, or threaten in the face of suffering, but instead he “continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (23). Then comes verse 24, where we see these two themes – imitation and substitution – converge. Peter says,
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.”
Notice the uniqueness of Christ’s suffering in this verse: He bore our sins in his body. There is no imitating this example. We dare not seek to add to the sufficient sacrifice of the Son of God. Yet, Peter is saying something more (though certainly not less) than that Christ died for sinners. Jesus’ death has a specific purpose in verse 24. Did you catch it?
“…that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.”
In other words, Jesus bore our sins so that we might die to sin’s enslaving power and live righteously. Living righteously here is specifically set in the context of submission to masters, even the unjust ones (1 Pet 2:18). Christ’s example at the hands of his persecutors gives us the perfect pattern for how we are to react when we are mistreated.
See, then, the connection between Christ as our substitute and Christ as our example: Christ’s death in the place of sinners (substitution) frees them from sin’s dominion so that they are able to imitate his righteous life (example) in their own suffering. On the other hand, we could also say that Christ’s example of suffering righteously qualified Him as our sinless substitute.
Seeing these themes come together is a reminder of the glory of the One who accomplished our salvation. Our Lord Jesus not only suffered for us, as if that wasn’t enough; He also showed us how to suffer in the process. Our Substitute is our Example.
Posted on May 8th, 2013 by Jonathan Lenning
Kunbi of India
Religion: Hinduism (99.86%)
Persecution Rank: 31
About: The Kunbi (alternate names of Reddi and Desai) are a prominent community of Karnataka. They can also be found in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Pondicherry, Karnataka, Kerala, Orissa and Maharashtra. However, traditionally the Reddy belong to the fourth of the Hindu Varnas, Sudra. One section of the Reddy is called Kapu which means guardian.
The majority of the Kunbi communities are non-vegetarian, and all the communities take rice as their staple cereal. Jowar, wheat, bajra, and ragi are the other cereals for them.
The Kunbi community have social divisions such as clans, lineage, subcastes and sects. These social divisions regulate marital alliances.
The traditional occupation of most of the Reddy groups is settled cultivation, followed by animal husbandry and labour. Both men and women smoke a homemade cheroot (chutta) which results a high incidence of mouth and throat cancer.
They are Hindu by faith and worship many deities. Their main festivals are Ugadi, Akshade, and Dussehra. They play bhajans and kirtans.
They speak the Kannada and Telugu languages. Alternate names: Kapu, Akutota, Desai, Dommari, Guruda, Illela, Kuruva, Musugu, Nadi Taram, Panta, Sajjana, Renati, etc.
- Pray for the ultimate salvation of the Kunbi people.
- Pray that God would send Christian laborers to work among them and meet their spiritual and physical needs.
- Pray for the small number of Kunbi Christians to reach out to their own people.
- Pray that God would raise up strong local churches among the Kunbi.
Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! – Psalm 117:1
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