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News - April 18th

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Dear Immanuel family,

While we lived in South America, we noticed that while celebrating Easter Week the people would give much more emphasis on Christ’s suffering than on his resurrection.   After watching the movie, “The Passion of Christ,” I remember feeling that same focus from those who wrote this film that graphically portrayed the agony of Christ’s death on the cross.  I think it would be fair to say that most evangelical churches put more weight on the resurrection of Jesus than on his death. And of course, Corinthians tells us, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” (15:17)

Theologically the Apostle Paul makes it very clear that “the cross” should be the focal point of our lives as Christians.  As he wraps up his treatise in the book of Galatians to correct the Judaizers who wanted new Christians to be circumcised, he says, “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (6:14).   Christian carpenters would say all of history “hinges” on this one event - the death of Jesus Christ.  Christians scientists would say at the “nucleus” of what we believe is -  the death of Jesus Christ.

“For this reason: for redeemed sinners, every good thing – indeed every bad thing that God turns for good – was obtained for us by the cross of Christ…..Apart from the cross of Christ, there is only condemnation.” (John Piper).  Jesus willingly gave his life for you and for me.  He carried the sin guilt of all humanity to the cross and made a payment of his blood that was stamped “Paid in Full.”  “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”  (John 15;13)

So what does this “cross-centered” life look like?  The Apostle Paul answers that in the second part of Galatians 6:14 when he says “by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”  I think he is telling us that we should be dead to this world.  “Paul looked at the world as if it were on a cross and the world looked at Paul as if he was on the cross.” BK Commentary.  Let’s live each moment boasting only in the “cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

PSD

   

News - April 11th

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Dear Immanuel family,

Years ago in our Catholic Spanish Language Institute in Bolivia, one of the articles we were handed said, “Jesus Christ triumphed in his failure.” I debated the point by saying that Jesus came for one purpose, to shed his blood on the cross for our sins, and that in no way could his death be seen as a failure.  But they weren’t the first to misunderstand what Jesus came to this earth to do.

As we read the Biblical narrative of the events of this coming Sunday, Palm Sunday, I have always been puzzled as to how the people could one day shout “Hosanna, blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord” and later in the week they say, “Crucify him, crucify him.”   Jesus did enter the city like a king, but the crowd did not understand the type of kingdom that Christ wanted to reign in.   “He wears no crown except a crown of thorns, ….about his loins he wears no purple,…upon his feet there are no silver sandals bedight (adorned) with pearls, yet he is more glorious than you.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

After having raised Lazarus from the dead days before, Jesus’ popularity soared.  And now with the roars and accolades of the people, it would have been easy for Jesus to yield to the peoples’ opinion and become their king.   It is presumed that many among the crowd didn’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah, but supported him in hopes that his kingship would rid Israel of the Roman occupation forces.  They had seen his miracles, surely he could turn this power against Rome.

But Jesus had a different kingdom in mind, as he does today.   Rev. Charles Spurgeon puts it this way, “In Christ's kingdom . . . you must be a disciple; to sit at his feet is the honor which he will give you. Hearing his words obeying his commands, receiving of his grace—this is true dignity, this is true magnificence. The poorest man that loves Christ, or the humblest woman who is willing to accept him as her teacher, becomes at once one of the nobility that wait upon Christ Jesus. What a kingdom is this which makes fishermen nobles, and peasants princes while they remain but fishermen and peasants still! This is the kingdom of which we speak, in which discipleship is the highest degree, in which divine service is the patent of nobility.”  (From sermon “The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem”)

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

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PSD

   

News - April 4th

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Dear Immanuel family,

There is an epidemic in our land and it’s not related to medicine.  It effects 1 in 3 of all the children in the USA and in some urban areas as much as half of the children.  As a result children are, struggling in school, living a life of poverty, engaging in drugs and alcohol, considering the homosexual lifestyle, committing suicide, and having psychiatric problems.  The epidemic I am talking about  - fatherless homes!

Fathers are at a premium today. The evidence is indisputable that the best environment for a child to grow up in is a home with a married mother and father.  Children need the role models of both genders and both contribute uniquely to children’s development.  Families are the nucleus of our culture and when they begin to breakdown, it is only a matter of time before the implosion occurs. Do you remember what happened to the Roman Empire?

The first thing that fathers can do for their kids is to cultivate a growing relationship with the Lord.  Make it your desire to learn something new each day and share what you’re learning with your family.  The second most important thing you can do for your children is to love their mother.  Spend time just being together with her and grow in oneness each day.  With these two bases covered, begin investing in your kids – work on projects at home as a family, take them with you individually as you work or do errands, have family nights, take advantage of teachable moments, encourage more than you discipline and be a father who practices, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deut 6:7)

Fathers, don’t forget that more is caught than taught.  For example, if your involvement in church is minimal then don’t expect your kids to be any different.  They will glean from your relationship with the Lord, but they need to hear biblical truth from you.  One way to do this is to read a passage of scripture and then have each family member ask a question and answer one.  This will prepare the ground for them to open their hearts to their own personal relationship with the Lord. Let’s take advantage of the 18 years or so that we have with our children at home.  With the Lord’s help, be the best father you can be!

Books on being a dad

  • Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
  • Pastor Dad by Mark Driscoll (free on-line http://theresurgence.com/books/pastor_dad
  • What a Daughter Needs From Her Dad: How a Man Prepares His Daughter for Life by Michael Farris
  • Tender Warrior by Stu Weber

PSD

   

News - March 28th

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Dear Immanuel family,

I am not a history teacher, but there seems to be a phenomenon that I’ve seen throughout history, that for lack of a better word, I will call “moral slide.”  You see it in the pages of the OT as most of the kings are described by the words, “He did evil in the sight of the Lord.”  In the NT, with Israel under Roman rule, we also see this moral decline when John the Baptist confronted King Herod about marrying his brother’s wife, Herodias, and it cost him his life.

This moral slide not only happens on the world stage, but also in our homes.  I heard one teacher of parenting classes say, “The sin that the parents do in moderation, our children will do in excess.”    Haven’t we seen this lived out in our country?  Of course, this should not be surprising to us when Proverbs tells us, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death”

When countries and individuals give up the moorings of the Word of God, this moral slide can be expected.  One of my favorite kings of the OT is Josiah.  It is said of him, “He did what was right in the sight of the Lord…and he did not turn aside to the right or the left.”  (I guess he wasn’t a democrat or republican). He becomes king at 8 years old and must have been influenced by his Godly mother, Jedidah.  He knew what it meant to get back to the moorings of the Word of God.  He made repairs to the Temple, located the Book of the Law and had it read, prohibited idol worship and restored the celebration of Passover.

So where does this leave us?  I love the cell phone ad on TV that uses kids and says “it’s not complicated.”   The Christian life is not complicated either.  It is up to each generation to return to the Biblical “moorings” that do not change.  The world would have us believe that the Bible is old-fashioned and irrelevant.   As we see the moral slide in the culture around us, let’s ask the Lord to keep us faithful to his Word and to speak to us on how we too can be like King Josiah calling our families and our country back to the Lord.

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PSD

   

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