Journal From Zarephath

The Significance of the Cup

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In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. __Luke 22:20 (NIV)

On the eve of the Passover feast, Christ, the Lamb of God, shared a last supper with His disciples. One of them would betray Him. Before dawn, the others would desert Him and one of them—Peter, the Rock—would deny Him. More

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“Come, Let Us Adore Him!”

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When my son Mark was in the third grade, his teacher assigned a series of “Famous People” reports. Over the course of the year, each student researched and reported on three famous people who have had an impact on history or culture. More

“Jacked Up”

I encourage you to read about the October Synchroblog theme “Down We Go” by clicking this link  before continuing to read this post.  Please explore the links to other bloggers participating in the October Synchroblog (at the bottom of this post).  Those links will allow you to “listen in”,  follow and comment on the “cyber-conversation” as other bloggers participate in writing about this month’s topic. The October challenge seems like a gigantic, multi-tiered party cake! Who knows what’s under the icing? If we take one slice at a time we’ll surely taste something of the Lord Jesus Christ in each writer’s portion.

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__________

Masquerade! Hide your face, so the world will never find you!” (Lyrics from Phantom of the Opera)

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It didn’t start in the age of  Dear Abby and Ann Landers.  Of course we want to think Dr. Ruth or Dr. Phil can somehow silence that “inner voice” which tells us there’s something wrong with us and we need to “get our act together” before everyone finds out.  I suspect it all started long before advice columnists in newspapers…before newspapers…before the printing press…just…”before”.  Perhaps it started with two naked people and some fig leaves—two people who were silly enough to think God would never find them?  Wherever it started , “it” is definitely there.  Yes…it must have started long, long ago.  I think Jesus may have been commenting on our “advice columnist” mentality with that remark about getting the beam out of my own eye before I presume to help you with the speck in yours. The knowledge that we lack “put togetherness” is behind the invention of masks and advice columns, you know. “Truth”. (High Five…or whatever cool people do…Amen?) More

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Book Reviews

Jesus Untangled: A Book Review

A Review of Jesus Untangled: Crucifying our Politics to Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb
Keith Giles, Author
Published by Quoir, January 2017
Available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble on January 20, 2017
(Recommendation: it is more helpful to the promotion of a book if purchases occur on the day of release, rather than through “pre-order”. Please do not use the “pre-order” feature on Amazon.com.)

keith

About the Author

Keith Giles practices what he preaches. He is a very good writer, and you will enjoy his conversational tone even when his words seem to challenge you to the core of your being. Beyond that, Keith is my friend, and a brother in Christ. In the interest of full disclosure, I received an electronic copy of this book (for review purposes) before its publication, and I was not blackmailed into, compensated for, or otherwise forced to write a positive (or not) review for his book. In addition, I volunteered to be part of the “promotion team” for the book. I don’t do that for just any book! (Can you see me smiling?)

 

All humor aside, this is one of the most important books for believers I have ever read. However, I have found it difficult to write this “review” because I wouldn’t have been “ready” for the content just a few short years ago. I am not the same person—not the same “Christian”—I once was. Yet, I remember so well the “way I was”…  I understand all too well why many people might not be ready to read Jesus Untangled. More

Movements That Change the World: Five Keys to Spreading the Gospel by Steve Addison (A Book Review)

While this book has been around awhile (orig. publication 2009, revised 2011), it should remain “timely” for quite some time to come for anyone interested in the church as a “missionary movement”. Steve Addison has packed this very quick read with a lot of descriptive history of movements that were successful in spreading the gospel. [It’s a good thing this book does read quickly—I found it very hard to put it down.] He aptly distinguishes the movements that succeeded beyond merely spreading the gospel and bore fruit for successive generations by “making disciples”. More

Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised to Ignite Revival by Leonard Sweet (A Book Review)

Only a few pages into this book, the thought struck: Leonard Sweet is a Renaissance Man for this generation! His breathtaking mastery of multi-disciplinary knowledge, powers of observation, and analytical skill in assessing the traits, tendencies and trends of this culture have been brought to bear in this newly released volume. Sweet has done his research and waded deeply into the waters of change—a “Gutenberger” immigrating from a tribe of Enlightenment-influenced navel-gazers into a country populated by relational, tech-savvy “Googlers”. More

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Rantings of a “Protestant Heretic”

No One Gets to be “Right” About EVERYTHING!

Disclaimer: This is not a “teaching”. This is an “opinion”. Yeah…a “rant”, if you like. But it’s offered in love.

God, being a “relational” entity, created us so that we need one another. As I read believers’ blogs these days, I’m struck by the variations in style, doctrine, authoritative “voice” and expression of humility. Some bloggers just write to share their thoughts.  Others demonstrate a divine teaching gift that is clearly sourced in the Spirit. Still others, seemingly, write from a position of  belief that they have all the right answers—and they are appointed to set everyone else straight! More

Are You Being Prepared to Burn for Something Good?

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When I was in my teens, I was what might be called a “Jesus Freak”. I loved to  read my Bible and talk to other teens about the Lord. I wanted all my friends to have the joy Christ had given me. I read the Book of Acts and yearned to see the Gospel being lived out in the world around me like those early Christians lived it. I saw so many things in the modern church that didn’t seem to fit what I saw in the New Testament. More

How Low Can We Go?

This post is part of the October Syncrhoblog “Down We Go” .  Please check the Synchroblog link for an explanation. 

When Mary Tudor ascended the throne of England, the monarchy reverted to the Roman Catholic faith. John Bradford was one of the Reformers imprisoned in the Tower of London for his faithfulness to the Church of England.  Seeing some fellow-prisoners marched off to their execution, Bradford is said to have observed “There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford.”

Bradford himself soon joined the ranks of the martyred in the Reformation narrative.  Though some have doubted the attribution of the saying, There but for the grace of God go I lives on in the English language as a pious cliche warning against viewing the less fortunate, the fallen, the needy, and the weak with pitiless contempt. More

More "Rants"

QUESTIONABLE STUFF: Should I Laugh, Cry, or Sigh?

Suggested Uses?

Yesterday, I had one of those odd moments. If you’re old enough to have had one, you’ll understand. I had purchased a new package of clothespins, torn it open and dumped the contents into the clothespin bag. Later, I noticed the empty plastic wrapper on the kitchen counter and snatched it up. On my way to the trash can, I took note of the print on the back of the package. “Suggested Uses”, it read. That phrase, “suggested uses” was vertically sandwiched neatly between the brand logo and a…list.

And that’s when the “odd moment” struck with comical force. My inner child howled with hilarity in the face of middle-aged irony. [Read More…]

More "Questionable Stuff"

Featured Series: Stepping on the Toes of Performance-Based Religion

Stepping on the Toes of Performance-based Religion

Maybe you had your toes stepped on in church yesterday. Maybe you walked out of the service feeling great because lately you’ve been “doing OK” with the points the preacher covered in his sermon—at least better than certain other people. [Read More…]

That “To Do List” Was Surely Out to Kill Me!

Performance-based religion (legalism) is one of the most dangerous things a new believer will ever encounter. Some are born straight into it–led there by the very person who shows them the “Romans Road” and leads them in the “Sinners Prayer”. Christ has set me free from it, and I hope exposing it for what it is will set you free, too! He really does want you to understand what it means to be a free-born child of the Kingdom instead of a slave! [Read More…]

But…It’s on My “To DO List”!

Is it already Wednesday? It still feels like Monday to me. I haven’t lost my determination to step on the toes of performance-based religion. In fact, I’m now determined to stamp it out! I will wear steel-toed boots myself and let Him direct my feet anywhere and everywhere the weeds of legalism threaten to spoil the joy of the harvest! And you can too, starting now, by eliminating one of the items on the “spiritual to do list” you may have picked up since you “invited Jesus into” your life. [Read More…]

It’s Time to Make the devil Unhappy!

I contemplated splitting today’s article into two parts, but I’m hoping to wrap this series up on Friday!  It’s really time to put the topic of performance-based religion away and focus all the attention on the One with Whom we have a relationship.  So, please bear with me…or skip it and come back in a few days. But please don’t forget: performance-based religion kills relationship and makes the devil extremely happy!

[Read More…]

How Do You Like The Ring Our Father Gave You?

It’s Friday! Someday, the Lord may direct us to revisit the unpleasant topic of performance-based religion (legalism). From where I’m standing in the Kingdom today, I feel a change in the wind. I’ll be writing next time about Jesus—the One with whom we have a relationship!  Let’s conclude our examination of religion-versus-relationship and prepare ourselves to see new blessings flow as we remain hidden in Christ, our source of life! [Read More…]