The Secret for 2019…

Merriam-Webster defines secret as something that is “kept from knowledge or view”.

In January, many of us look for the secret of having a successful year, the secret of losing weight, the secret of keeping a new year’s resolution, and the list goes on.

What about the secret of improving your relationship with the Lord this 2019? Or perhaps the secret of a great praying life?

Sometimes, it seems that we make resolutions surrounding ourselves, and not the Lord. But Matthew 6:33 is clear: “Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

This season, we want to challenge you to a deeper 2019. We’re sharing secrets from Andrew Murray in a 5 day “Secrets of Faith” Challenge. Secrets to deepening your knowledge for things like brotherly love, intercession, living in an abiding presence, and a faith life that grows.

All you have to do is sign up below for the Challenge and off we go! You’ll even get a chance to enter for a prize if you complete all 5 days.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up and join us today for a deeper, better 2019.

 

 

2019 “Secrets of Faith” Challenge

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Resisting Gossip…5 years later

Happy Birthday! Resisting Gossip is now 5 years old!! Celebrate with us and get 40 OFF your purchase of Resisting Gossip from now until the end of October 2018!
A lot can change in 5 years, so we decided to check in with author Matt Mitchell to see what he has been up to since his best-selling book was released.

Pastor Matt Mitchell, author of Resisting Gossip.

What has Pastor Matt been up over to the past 5 years?

Thanks for checking in! For the last 5 years, I’ve mostly been busy pastoring our local church and being a homeschool dad. Last year, Lanse Free Church celebrated its 125th anniversary, and I’ve just completed my 20th year as their pastor. I’m thankful that they’re still putting up with me! Our kids—Robin, Andrew, Peter, and Isaac—rare all in high school right now, and it’s a delight to discover their unique personalities and interests in this season of life. Heather and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary this coming June. She is my greatest earthly joy.

By God’s grace, I’ve also had the opportunity to talk to a lot of people about Resisting Gossip over the last 5 years—through podcasts (e.g, The Gospel CoalitionThe Boundless Show, and the Walrus and the Carpenter), conferences, and seminars. Some of the highlights were speaking at the CCEF National Conference in 2015; at the EFCA’s Challenge Conference for youth in 2014 and 2018; and at the launch of the French version of the book, Résister à la médisance, in Montreal in 2015. I’ve also spoken in many local churches across several states. It’s been a pleasure to be used in this way.

Any book-related surprises that you experienced in the last 5 years?  

Just about everything about the spread of this book has been a surprise! One of the biggest was seeing Resisting Gossip get translated into 5 other languages: Spanish (including an e-book), French (in both Canada and France), RussianRomanian, and Korean. I’m excited to think that I’m getting to teach God’s Word to people that I would never meet or be able to converse with— people all over the globe. It’s been fun to see pictures of the book in different countries (even on Colombian National Television!) and see reviews in languages I can’t read!

Another surprise was that Resisting Gossip has been a bestseller for CLC Publications every single quarter since its release. For me, those sales translate into real people I hope have been helped to win the war of the wagging tongue in their own lives.

Thirdly, I’ve been surprised that so many readers and leaders have  found it so helpful. The gracious words of folks like Kevin DeYoung (and on video), Tim Challies (oncetwice, and then thrice at World magazine!), Joe ValentiDeb WelchMonergism.comAndy NaselliAlex ChediakSteve Kemp at BILDGreg StrandBob KellemanDaniel HolmquistTodd Hardin at the Biblical Counseling CoalitionMarci Ferrell at the Thankful HomemakerBenjamin Vrbicek at Fan and FlameWill Turner, and Mark Lauterbach at TGC have encouraged me no end.

Is there anything you wish you had added to your book 5 years ago?

Sure. I wish I had added more about carefully handling prayer requests and some other frequently asked questions. I’ve tried to address these from time to time on my blog. Maybe in another 10 years we’ll update the book to include them. I’m currently working on a short article about a biblical approach to warning others about dangerous people, and how that is different from gossiping. I talk about that briefly in the book, but I think I could have been clearer.

What has been most impactful to your readers?

People consistently mention three things that have been the most helpful:

  1. The definition in chapter 1– “Sinful gossip is bearing bad news behind someone’s back out of a bad heart.” People are helped simply by having a working definition of gossip because, for most of us, it’s been fuzzy. They also like that the definition focuses on heart motivations because they know the gospel of Jesus Christ can change our hearts.
  1. Two full chapters on what to do in place of gossip. People need help envisioning the alternatives. We all know we aren’t supposed to gossip, but it often seems inevitable. People tell me that the strategies we lay out in chapters 5 and 6 help them to imagine a different way of speaking and listening.
  1. A focus on the gospel.Because of Jesus there is hope. We can change. We can resist temptation. We can love our enemies. We can repent,  be restored, and experience reconciliation with those we have hurt and those who have hurt us. People tell me that they don’t feel as “stuck,” and I’m really grateful to hear that!

 

Any advice you would give to someone who is considering publishing a book?

Make sure you have something important to say. The world has enough books in general, but there are specific books that the world still needs. In the case of Resisting Gossip, I felt that not enough Christians had said enough about this problem that we all deal with every day. I don’t plan to write another book unless I have something to say that will help the church in a similar way.

And if you can, find a wonderful publishing partner like CLC International! I’m so thankful that I got to collaborate with you in your mission of making evangelical Christian literature available to all nations so that people may come to faith and maturity in our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s been a great 5 years, and I look forward to many more. Thank you!

 

 

 

About Matt Mitchell

Matt Mitchell is a graduate from Moody Bible Institute and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. In 2012, he received his Doctor of Ministry degree from Westminster Theological Seminary in biblical counseling under the leadership of the faculty of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF). His doctoral project included writing his first book – Resisting Gossip. He is active in his association of churches, the EFCA, serving the awesome Allegheny District as the chairman of the Constitutions and Credentials Board, and as the book review coordinator for EFCA Today. His greatest joy in serving Jesus is passionately communicating scriptural truth and seeing lives changed. Matt Mitchell has been the pastor of Lanse Evangelical Free Church, a 120+year-old church parked along Interstate 80, since he was a rookie pastor in 1998. He is Heather’s hubby, and Daddy to Robin, Andrew, Peter, and Isaac. They live in the woods of Central Pennsylvania with a flock of free range chickens. They do the “homeschool adventure” thing, cut firewood for their outdoor furnace, love to read great books together, and go for long hikes as a family.

 

About Resisting Gossip

 

Hey, have you heard about… Gossip.

It’s on Facebook, on the television, in the break room, and even in our churches. With gossip being so prevalent in our culture, it can be hard to resist listening to and sharing stories about other people’s business. But what does God say about gossip? And is it possible to follow his instructions? In Resisting Gossip Pastor Matt Mitchell not only outlines the scriptural warnings against gossip, but also demonstrates how the truth of the gospel can deliver believers from this temptation.

 

 

 

New Release: The Secret Series

 

Written over a period of five years, The Secret Series books contain a wealth of teaching that is based on Andrew Murray’s mature and full experience in Christ. Briefly yet eloquently, Murray teaches that our lives and faith are strengthened when we persistently pursue God. These updated and re-design devotionals would be a great addition to your  home library or make a great gift!

Order your copy now!

The Secret of Christ our Life 9781619582828

 

 

The Secret of Christ Our Life

As a part of his classic Secret Series devotionals, Andrew Murray wrote this month-long devotional to emphasize the importance of Christ not only being for us, but also being in us. Our daily abiding in Christ enables us to work out our faith, grow branches, and bear fruit to the glory of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret of Brotherly Love

Is biblical and God-honoring love attainable between human beings? As a part of his classic Secret Series devotionals, Andrew Murray wrote this month-long devotional to remind believers that this kind of love is not only attainable, but it is commanded. Through the gracious spirit of God, believers can be a flowing stream of God’s love to the world.

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret of The Throne of Grace Andrew Murray 9781619582804

 

 

The Secret of the Throne of Grace

As a part of his classic Secret Series devotionals, Andrew Murray wrote this month-long devotional to reflect on the intimate connection between the throne of God and the Lamb and the liberty that we have to ask and receive abundant grace. This book also includes Murray’s furthered ideas on love, completing the thoughts that he began in The Secret of Brotherly Love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out the rest of The Secret Series here.

Remembering Dianne Desch

CLC USA is joining her husband and family in grieving the loss of Dianne Desch.  She passed into life eternal on Thursday, May 17, 2018 after a diagnosis with Mesothelioma one year ago.  

Dianne ministered in the Sales Department of CLC Publications as a Customer Service representative and she embodied the “service” part of her title.  She often took time to pray with customers and went out of her way to accommodate them and their needs. She loved Jesus, reflected Jesus, and lived for Jesus, and we rejoice that she is now with Him.  

We think it is all about our initiative and our effort, when in fact that is the worst way to live the Christian life.

AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN BRANDON ABOUT THE BOOK LIFEBLOOD article from http://lifebloodinus.com/

Why did you decide to write this book?

I was living in a cabin on a lake, and I had relocated my office to a garage. I was writing a daily column while working in an area surrounded by boxes and fishing gear. One of my columns that summer was about being driven — how it’s important to keep pushing yourself. Since I typically write about leadership and management, it seemed like an interesting topic, because many leaders in business tend to drive forward under their own power. Companies like Facebook or Google initially started because of one or two people promoting a crazy idea.

That got me thinking about Jesus, and about my own Christian life. One thing led to another, and I found myself writing an entire chapter of a book. I wanted to write about how Christians often try to do the same thing as entrepreneurs in business, that we push and push and push. We think it is all about our initiative and our effort, when in fact that is the worst way to live the Christian life. It ends in failure and burnout. I felt a tug on my own heart, that I was the one making all of the decisions in my life about how to be a good Christian. It wasn’t working. So I decided to write about how God has propelled me instead, those Holy Spirit moments when it’s obvious that the only way to “succeed” spiritually is to let God do the driving.

Why did you decide to write about marriage, and friendships, and community?

They say to write about what you know. In my “day job” writing a column for Inc. Magazine and Fox News Network, I tend to cover topics that are well within my own expertise. I was a corporate manager for about a decade, and I write about those experiences often. For many years, I tested products and reviewed them, so I still write about gadgets. But there’s one area where I’m more personally experienced than any other, and it is in living my own Christian life for the past 30 years. I’ve seen how God has worked in my marriage, in friendships, in the workplace — it’s amazing to see his hands of grace guiding me.

Who is your audience?

I’m glad you asked! I do have a reader in mind, and it is someone who is struggling to move forward spiritually. I guess that is all of us, in a way. Even the most spiritually mature person in the world is not always moving forward o finding great spiritual success. We might experience periods of tremendous growth, but then we stall out. We might finally confront an inner demon, only to see another one pop up out of nowhere! I know how this all works. Lifeblood is really intended as a message to struggling Christians, and the main message is to realize that it is the Holy Spirit inside of you who brings about real change and growth. In many ways, the message is to relax. To stop worrying so much. To let God have all of the control.

Why is this book worth reading?

I realize there are many, many books available — most of them are probably more interesting! The one reason to read Lifeblood, though, is to hear a message of hope that you can live victoriously and without the guilt of feeling as though you have to be in charge of your own spiritual destiny. Lifeblood is not intended as a “self help” book but a “Jesus help” book. It’s a total transformation in how we view our Christian lives, how we make decisions and how we advance spiritually. It is not under our own power. It is by him and through him.

 

About John Brandon: John Brandon is a well-known reporter and columnist for Inc. magazine, Fox News Network, Christianity TodayRelevant magazine, and many others. For ten years, he worked as a corporate manager in the Information Technology field. After 9/11, John’s employer (who became nervous about the world economy) fired him. At the advice of his wife, he became a writer and has since published over twelve thousand articles in seventeen years. Over ten million people have read his thought-pieces on leadership, productivity, mentoring, and technology for Inc.com. He lives in Minnesota with his wife, Rebecca, and has four children, two sons-in-law, and three grandchildren. This is his first book.

 

About Lifeblood: Lifeblood is what flows through us when we first find Christ; but as time goes on, we start to grow stale in our spiritual life. Not simply a how-to book, Lifeblood is about getting back to the basics of Christianity and making life-altering communion with Jesus possible every minute of the day. Tapping in to your lifeblood starts with you; but it will flow to your friendships, marriage and family, church, work, and even your community. Lifeblood is available for pre-order https://www.clcpublications.com/shop/lifeblood-tapping-into-jesus-as-the-true-source-of-renewal/

Dealing with Sin

From the CLC Bible Companion

By his death, Jesus dealt with the sin that has so devastatingly disrupted the life of God’s world and its fellowship with him.

UNDERSTANDING SIN

The early Christians expressed their understanding of the significance of Jesus’ death with a simple summary statement: “Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3). This short summary, however, called to mind a whole world of meaning from the Old Testament, which helped the first Christians to understand what Jesus had done for them. For a start, Jesus had done something about “sin”.

  • A history of sin.

In the Old Testament, sin was not a vague term referring to general moral failings, as it is sometimes used today. Sin could only be named as “sin” within a particular context: the context of relationship with God. God had established the world as a place where humans could flourish in life as they remained in constant, obedient fellowship with him (Genesis 2:15-17). But, no sooner had this relationship been established, than humans stepped outside its boundaries by disobeying God’s command (3:6), and so losing the blessings of life with him (3:16-24). From then on, sin was always “lurking at the door” (4:7), disrupting the peace of God’s creation, and turning humans away from him.

Throughout the Old Testament, God called a particular people to come back into fellowship with him. He rescued the nation of Israel from slavery in the land of Egypt so that there would once again be people who would enjoy life as he had intended. He made a covenant with them, committing himself to them and asking them to commit to him. To help them live constantly within this covenant, he gave them the gift of a law, known as the Torah, which described the kind of life that remained within the boundaries of his covenant. Obeying God’s Torah was not supposed to be a heavy burden, but a joyful delight – it affirmed that God wanted his creation to be blessed. As Israel stayed close to him, they would show the rest of the world what God’s life-giving holiness looked like (Exodus 19:5-6). However, sin was still “lurking at the door”, and the people of Israel were quick to go out to it, and let it into their midst. Time after time, sin disrupted God’s covenant, and turned his people away from him.

  • A definition of sin.

Simply put, sin is missing the way of life that God intends. Within the context of Israel, this way of life had been clearly described by God’s good commands in the Torah (see Psalm 119, a song of praise to God for his law). Sin in Israel, therefore, was to disobey God’s law and step outside his holy way of life. It could happen deliberately, as God’s people intentionally turned away from him, or unintentionally, as they were simply caught up in the waywardness of the world around them (see Leviticus 4). Importantly, sin is not simply an action – failing to live up to a list of do’s and don’ts – but an attitude of the heart: human life that is out of step with God from the very centre of its being.

  • The result of sin.

The Old Testament had many different ways to describe the consequences of sin, all of them negative. It caused banishment from God’s blessing (Genesis 3:24); it created uncleanness that spread like a malicious virus through society (see Leviticus 5:2); it brought guilt and shame and despair (Psalm 6:1-7); it grew unchecked into whole systems of evil and injustice (eg Amos 1–2); and it resulted in the ultimate banishment from God’s presence – death. God’s constant judgement about sin was that it had to be removed if people were to live. If it were not removed, then they would die, both now and eternally.

UNDERSTANDING SACRIFICE

The first Christians proclaimed that Jesus had “died for sin”. The background to this was the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. Through sacrifice, God had provided a way for sin to be dealt with, so that his people would not be swept away by his judgement about sin and its disastrous consequences, but rather be restored to life and fellowship with him.

  • The sin offering.

Leviticus 4:1–5:13 describes the procedure for presenting a sacrifice for sin to God. To us today, the amount of bloodshed involved in these sacrifices may seem excessive, but in the ancient context where animals were sacrificed by all societies in their thousands and millions, God’s instructions were in fact restrained and gracious – there was a standard procedure and by following it closely the worshipper could know that they were back in fellowship with God. They did not need to sacrifice for the same sin twice. The procedure was clear: if a person sinned, they were to bring an animal to the priest, confess the sin and lay their hand on the head of the animal as it was slaughtered. This signified that this costly sacrifice had died in the place of the sinner. Blood was sprinkled inside the sanctuary, signifying that God had accepted the offering and the carcass of the animal was completely burned up. The sin had been removed from the sinner, so that it could no longer riddle the fellowship of God’s people with its devastating consequences. The priest would declare the sin “forgiven”, which meant that God and his people were once again “at one” (atonement, Leviticus 4:20,26,31, etc.). The death of the sacrifice meant the life of the worshipper.

  • The Day of Atonement.

Once a year, all Israel observed the Day of Atonement, on which the whole nation was cleansed (Leviticus 16:34). Central to the proceedings were two goats. On this day alone, the high priest entered the Most Holy Place, with a bowl of blood from one of the goats. He came out of the Most Holy Place and made atonement for each area of the sanctuary in turn, in order to show clearly that forgiveness and cleansing had been initiated by God himself (16:15-19). Then the high priest laid hands on the second goat and confessed over it all the sins of Israel. It would be sent out into the wilderness, where it would die, signifying that God had removed sin from the people completely – the goat had borne it away (16:22). Free of sin, God’s people were re-established in their relationship with him, and could go in peace to live out his covenant in their lives. Once again, a sacrifice had died in order to let God’s people live.

JESUS, THE SACRIFICE FOR SIN

The first Christians understood Jesus’ death as a sacrifice for sin against this Old Testament and contemporary Jewish background.

  • The sacrifice of the new covenant.

Jesus’ death brought God’s covenant with Israel to its climactic end (Romans 10:4) and ushered in a new, better covenant. The old covenant, which included the sacrificial system, had been intended to cleanse Israel from their sin so that they could demonstrate to the nations what it meant to live in intimate fellowship with God. But throughout their history, God’s people had struggled to stay in fellowship with him, time and again being overwhelmed by sin and its consequences. The constant sacrifice of animals was not working – sin was still rampant among God’s people.

The writer of Hebrews had grasped the profound significance of Jesus’ death. Unlike the sacrifices in the temple, which had to be offered time after time because they never really cleansed the worshipper (10:4), Jesus “has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself ” (9:26). Jesus was the reality of atonement, of which all the Old Testament sacrifices had just been shadows and anticipations (“sketches of heavenly things”, 9:23). His sacrificial death had brought about a new covenant relationship with God.

  • The universal sacrifice.

As part of the new covenant, Jesus’ sacrifice was not just for Israel, but for the whole world. John the Baptist had said, recalling the imagery of the Day of Atonement, that Jesus was “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Certainly, he had been crucified as a direct result of the sin of those who rejected him; but in a profound sense, he had died with the weight of the whole world’s sin on his shoulders. The world is the sort of place where the Son of God, who brings only grace and truth, can be crucified (John 1:10-11,17). But because of Jesus’ sacrifice, it is also the sort of place that can be freed to live with God.

  • A liberating and cleansing sacrifice.

As Jesus explained to his disciples at the Last Supper, he was going to his death to bring about the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28). He would bear the devastating agony of sin’s true consequences in his own body, so that others would not have to. At the moment he died, the curtain into the Most Holy Place in the temple was torn in two (Matthew 27:50-51). The way in to fellowship and new life with God – the way that had been blocked by sin – had now been opened for all (see Ephesians 2:18; Hebrews 10:19-20; 1 Peter 3:18). But also, as pictured by the Day of Atonement, God’s cleansing power could sweep out of the temple into the world. Through Jesus, all can be cleansed and purified, so that they may worship God with the life he always intended (Hebrews 9:14).

Jesus’ sacrificial death is, in fact, central to his announcement of the kingdom. Without being set free from sin, it would be impossible for his followers to share in the life of God’s promised kingdom. Without a sacrifice for sin, God’s judgement about sin would remain over them – their lives would end in death (Romans 6:23). However, because he died “for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3), bearing them away in his own body (1 Peter 2:24), people who come to him are set free from sin to live in God’s new covenant, looking forward to the fulfilment of their salvation in his new creation. Jesus’ death as a sacrifice for sin enables a great, gracious exchange to take place: he took our sin, so that we might share in his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 3:21-26)!

 

About The CLC Bible Companion The CLC Bible Companion is an all-in-one guide to the Bible that is both a comprehensive reference book and an exciting companion. Its goals for you are to: Know Jesus Christ, Discover the Contents of the Bible, Explore the Truth of the Bible, and Believe and Experience the Message of the Bible. The CLC Bible Companion is on special promotion for a limited time, you may purchase the CLC Bible Companion for $10.00 while supplies last. (retail price $29.99 for hardcover) To learn more about the CLC Bible Companion and purchase, please visit: https://www.clcpublications.com/deals-discounts/

 

Download Free PowerPoint Resources for your Bible Studies:

Knowing Jesus 1

“Music appeared on my bedroom wall as I was lying in my bed before dawn”

Denice Rippentrop, Composer – March 2018

From the Pen of Composer Denice Rippentrop

It was in the late 1970s that I first trusted in God’s divine Son, Jesus the Christ, as my Lord and Savior for the forgiveness of my sins. I believed in the death of Christ on the cross to pay for my sins, the resurrection of Christ to provide life everlasting, and Christ’s gift of salvation, which can only be received by faith, apart from works or merit on my part. My life changed miraculously!

A few years later I heard a poem by Amy Carmichael for the first time. It was called “No Scar?” and I heard it on a radio program. Amy’s words moved deep into my soul as a picture came to my mind. I saw the scars on my Savior’s hands, feet, and side—and it tore into me. To think that He has these scars and I have none. I was so taken by this scene in my mind I could hardly breathe.

At that point, I searched endlessly for every poem and book by Amy Carmichael. I was so moved by the deep meaning of her words—written in a style unique only to her—as well as her display of vocabulary and the images portrayed in her words. Her utter devotion to Jesus Christ came through in her every word. She loved beyond herself. She never took her eyes off the cross of Jesus Christ and His eternal, unending love.

In 1987 I was at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota working on my master’s degree. My synthesis was composing music to eleven Amy Carmichael poems, ending in a concert of these works. The concert was given at Incarnation Lutheran Church in Shoreview, Minnesota under the direction of Bonnie Doole. My daughter Tammy gave a reading on the life of Amy Carmichael. I still can hear her presenting this reading. She gave an outstanding presentation.

After that concert I continued to write sacred and secular choral works. Much of my writing has been impacted by one of my composition professors, Dr. Jody Rockmaker. Throughout the years I have received many honors and commissions and have given numerous performances of my music.

Alison Beck, pianist

Then, nineteen years after the concert in 1987, music appeared on my bedroom wall as I was lying in my bed before dawn. At first, I thought I was dreaming. There were several pages, and the first three pages had three music staves showing a solo voice and piano. The music appeared two more mornings; but this time, Amy Carmichael’s name was written in the top left-hand corner and my name was written in the top right-hand corner. I asked God to show the music again if this was from Him. And, my Holy Father did. I knew I had to write it down.   

The Holy Spirit led me to Amy Carmichael’s book If. One by one, the fifteen Amy Carmichael statements that I was to write music to were shown to me.

“If at the Moment,” the first song on my CD If (What Do I Know of Calvary’s Love?), is the music I saw on the wall the first morning. The text says:

“If the moment I am conscious of the shadow of self crossing my threshold, I do not shut the door, and in the power of Him who works in us to will and to do, keep that door shut, then I know nothing of Calvary Love.”

Vanessa Libbey, vocalist

As Amy Carmichael said of her book If, “[These statements] are not meant to be read one after the other. Perhaps only one “If” here and there may have the needed word.” As you listen to the CD, I ask that you give each song the time it needs to reach the depths of your soul, as Amy so desired.

Vanessa Libbey, the vocalist on the CD, is a classically trained soprano. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Luther College and resides in New York City.

Alison Beck, the pianist on the CD, earned her master of music degree in piano performance from the University of North Texas. She resides in New York City.

The recording took place at Avatar Recording Studio in New York City from April 18­–20, 2017.

 

All lyrics in If (What Do I Know of Calvary’s Love?) are from If by Amy Carmichael, ©1938 The Dohnavur Fellowship. Used by Permission of CLC Publications. May not be further reproduced. All Rights Reserved.

About If by Amy Carmichael: Amy Carmichael questions whether we allow our doubts and disappointments to hinder our faith, or do we really know Calvary’s love? In a series of statements and common situations, a Christ-love of forgiveness and strength is meant to mend our hearts and encourage others, because of what He has already done. Purchase the book with a CD featuring words from If performed by Vanessa Libby, soprano soloist, and Alison Beck, pianist. https://www.clcpublications.com/shop/if-by-amy-carmichael-cd-bundle/

 

About Amy Carmichael: Amy Carmichael was the eldest daughter of a large Christ-centered family in Millisle, Ireland. She was impressed at an early age that “nothing is important but that which is eternal.” This understanding proved to be the foundation for her service to the Lord among the mill workers of Ireland, the Japanese briefly, and then in India where she began her ministry to children in 1895 and where she remained until her death in 1951.

Knowing Jesus: Jesus, the Son of God

From the CLC Bible Companion.

Jesus’ understanding of his mission and the events of his life reveal his unique relationship with God and his true identity as the Son of the Father.

“JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD”

The declaration of Jesus as the Son of God was central to the faith and preaching of the first Christians, and continues to be so to this day. Mark tells his readers at the beginning of his Gospel that the Jesus whose story he is about to recount is “the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). The first message preached by Paul after his encounter with the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus was that “he is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). In 1 John, the confession that Jesus is God’s Son is seen as the key to the whole Christian life (1 John 4:15; 5:5,10,12). However, the first Christians did not invent this belief; it is grounded in the life, teaching and mission of Jesus himself.

BACKGROUND

Jesus’ disciples would already have been familiar with the term “son of God” from two main contexts.

  • The Old Testament.

The people of Israel knew that they had a special relationship with the true God. When God had rescued them from slavery in Egypt, he had sent a message to Pharaoh through Moses, saying, “Israel is my firstborn son. Let my son go so that he may worship me” (Exodus 4:22-23; see also Hosea 11:1). In the ancient Middle East, as in many places today, the firstborn son had a special status within family life: he enjoyed the closest relationship with his father and often spoke and acted on the father’s behalf. Among all the nations of the world, Israel was God’s firstborn son, enjoying his lavish love and blessing and being called to act on his behalf in the world (eg Deuteronomy 7).

Later, the king of Israel was also seen as the “son of God”, because of God’s promise to David in 2 Samuel 7:14. The king represented in one individual what the whole nation was supposed to be. Psalm 2, which was possibly sung at the coronation of kings in Israel, mentions the close relationship with God that the king enjoyed, as well as his special responsibilities to act on God’s behalf (see also Psalm 89:19-37). Of course, it soon became clear that neither the nation of Israel nor the king were fulfilling their responsibilities as God’s “son”. Passages in the Dead Sea Scrolls indicate that at least some Jews expected the coming Messiah to be the true “son of God”.

  • Pharaohs, kings and emperors.

Israel was not the only nation to use the term “son of God” to describe their ruler. In the ancient Near East, both Egypt and Babylon also gave this title to their pharaohs and kings. For them, it highlighted the special relationship the king was thought to enjoy with the gods, and so underlined his authority to rule. Whereas in Israel the use of the term did not mean that either the king or the nation was in any sense divine (but merely a human representative of God), this distinction was not as clear for other nations, who thought that the gods might adopt heroic leaders as divine sons.

For instance, in the fourth century BC, Alexander the Great declared himself to be a son of the god Zeus, and expected actually to become a god after his death. He asked his subjects to worship him as divine during his lifetime! In the Roman Empire it was commonly believed that an emperor became a god at his death; his successor was then called a “divine son”, or a “son of god”.

This belief was inscribed on some Roman coins, which have been discovered by archaeologists. For instance, the penny that Jesus asked to see in Mark 12:13-17 was probably marked with the inscription “Augustus Tiberius Caesar, Son of the Divine Augustus”. The early Christians proclaimed Jesus to be the true “son of God” written about in the Old Testament. They did so in a world where the term was used as a political title for emperors who demanded worship. However, they also knew that Jesus had transformed the meaning of the term, because he was the Son of God in a new and unique way.

THE SON’S MISSION

In one of his parables, Jesus tells the story of a man who owned a vineyard. He leased the vineyard to some tenants and then went away for a long time. When it came to the harvest, he sent servants back to the vineyard to collect his share of the produce. However, the tenants attacked his servants and chased them away. Eventually, the man sent his own son, thinking the tenants would respect him. But instead they murdered the son, and so faced the owner’s judgement (Matthew 21:33-39). Jesus’ hearers knew from the Old Testament that the nation of Israel was the vineyard (see Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80:8-18), and the Jewish leaders could tell that they were the tenants who were supposed to care for it (Matthew 21:45). The owner was, of course, God himself; his servants were the prophets who had been sent to warn Israel to produce a crop of righteousness for God (see John the Baptist’s message in Luke 3:8). In the parable, Jesus is the owner’s son: he has been sent after all the prophets to turn the tenants from their wicked ways and make the vineyard productive once more.

Just as the Old Testament background suggests, Jesus as the Son of God came to accomplish the Father’s work. The Son is the Father’s chief representative who can act with the Father’s authority. Peter recognised that Jesus was not just another prophet, but that he was “the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16) – Peter had recognized that Jesus had a unique role in bringing God’s plan to its climax. Jesus was the Father’s Son!

Sometimes people called Jesus the “son of David”, which is a reminder of God’s promise in 2 Samuel 7:14 that the great coming king in the line of David would be the son of God (eg Mark 10:47). In John 1:49 Jesus is declared to be both “the king of Israel” and “the Son of God”, showing the clear connection between these two terms. From the earliest days of his earthly life, Jesus was aware that he had been sent to work in his Father’s business, just as a firstborn son would be (Luke 2:49; John 8:42). To call Jesus “the Son of God” is a recognition that Jesus acts completely on his Father’s behalf (John 10:36-37), so that whatever he does, it is what the Father wants (John 5:19). As God’s Son, Jesus fulfils all God’s promises from the Old Testament (2 Corinthians 1:19-20).

THE SON’S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE FATHER

Jews have always been careful about the terms they use to speak to and about God. Although God’s personal name (in Hebrew, YHWH) was revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14, Jews tended to avoid using it in case they broke the third commandment (see Exodus 20:7). In Jesus’ day, they used other less personal terms, such as “God”, “Lord”, “the Blessed One” (Mark 14:61), or simply “Heaven” (Mark 11:30).

Jesus, however, used the most intimate language to speak about his relationship with God. In the four Gospels, he consistently speaks of God as “Father” around 150 times (around 100 times in John’s Gospel alone). In the garden of Gethsemane, just before his arrest, Jesus prayed using the term “Abba”, which is an everyday Aramaic term meaning “Daddy” that expresses the closest relationship of love and trust between a child and his father (Mark 14:36). As the Son of God, Jesus has seen the Father (John 6:46), and so is able to make him known to others (Luke 10:22; John 1:18).

Just as Jesus trusts the Father, so the Father trusts Jesus as his Son to do his will (Matthew 11:27). At two key points in Jesus’ ministry, God’s voice is heard saying, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased”: at his baptism (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22) and his transfiguration (Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35).

THE SON’S TRUE IDENTITY

Key aspects of Jesus’ life helped the first Christians to realise that he was the “Son of God” in a new and unique way.

  • His incarnation.

Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit of God, rather than by a human father (Matthew 1:18,20; Luke 1:35). Jesus also consistently spoke of how he had “come from the Father” (eg John 16:28). Whereas for other humans, birth is the beginning of life, Jesus’ birth was an incarnation – he had existed as the Son of God before his human birth. Unlike the pagan rulers, Jesus was not an adopted son of the gods, but the eternal Son of God.

  • Recognition by Satan and demons.

Whereas Jesus’ true identity was hidden from his disciples during his earthly ministry, it was recognised by Satan (Matthew 4:3,6; Luke 4:3,9) and by demons (eg Luke 8:28).

  • His resurrection and ascension.

Jesus was put to death because of his claim to be speaking and acting as the Son of God (see Luke 22:70-71). His resurrection was God’s confirmation that Jesus had spoken the truth about himself. Paul pointed to the resurrection as the revelation, or declaration, of Jesus’ true identity as the Son of God (Romans 1:4). After his resurrection, Jesus returned to the Father (John 16:28; 20:17) to be in the place of honour at his right hand (Acts 7:56; Hebrews 1:2-3).

  • His work of salvation.

The first Christians knew that Jesus had given them a new, intimate relationship with God (eg Galatians 4:4-6). As they made sense of this, they realised Jesus could only do this if he himself were God’s Son in a unique way – if he fully shared the same divine nature as his Father. When they looked back over his life and teachings, they saw that this was in fact what Jesus was all along. The term “Son of God” had been enriched and transformed. Jesus the Son is to be trusted and worshipped just like his Father.

 

About The CLC Bible Companion The CLC Bible Companion is an all-in-one guide to the Bible that is both a comprehensive reference book and an exciting companion. Its goals for you are to: Know Jesus Christ, Discover the Contents of the Bible, Explore the Truth of the Bible, and Believe and Experience the Message of the Bible. The CLC Bible Companion is on special promotion for a limited time, you may purchase the CLC Bible Companion for $10.00 while supplies last. (retail price $29.99 for hardcover) To learn more about the CLC Bible Companion and purchase, please visit: https://www.clcpublications.com/deals-discounts/

 

Download Free PowerPoint Resources for your Bible Studies:

Knowing Jesus 1

Five Ways Your Church Can Avoid Wallpaper Worship

By Danny Byram, author of Wallpaper Worship: Why Church Music Sounds Better, Fewer Are Singing, and What to Do About It

So, what is wallpaper worship? It is very easy to spot. Just walk into a church, grab a coffee, and find a seat. When the music starts, you are free to sit and sip, stand and watch, roam the sanctuary, find someone to visit with (if the volume allows), or skip it altogether and get a coffee refill in the lobby. Wallpaper worship is the religious equivalent of music in a store or a dentist’s office. It is great music, but it is not designed for participation. Wallpaper worship is meant to simply be listened to or observed as it is performed. Worshippers who come to participate are not actually able to because it sounds so good, so slick, so produced, and so well-performed that you don’t want to mess it up by actually singing along with it. The vibe communicated from the platform is “Just sit back and relax; we’ll do this for you.”

In his classic book Worship is a Verb, Robert E. Webber states, “[Worship] is not something done to us or for us, but by us.” Webber’s view, like the view of so many frustrated worshippers today, was founded upon a principle that was at the heart of the sixteenth-century Reformation. That principle touted a new and radical idea: Believers should be able to express their beliefs and their worship of God freely, openly, and corporately without any priests or clergy doing it for them. Today we are in a pre-Reformation cycle of wallpaper worship. Our ability to perform music and speak publicly has become so formulaic that church has become akin to a museum or concert hall. All you have to do is show up and assume the role of an audience.

Here are five ways your church can avoid the common trap known as wallpaper worship. (Some of what I have written is to leaders and some to those being led. Feel free to pass these five principles along as is appropriate for your situation.)

  1. Cast a vision. Church leaders need to decide what kind of church they will lead. Will yours be a typical wallpaper worship church, or will you make the changes necessary to encourage, facilitate, and promote participation? To simply say the church wants congregants to participate will never accomplish it. Specific changes need to occur from the church leadership in order to bridge the gap between the people and the platform. Many worshippers have experienced the discouragement of trying to articulate to leaders their desire for change, only to be dismissed as out of touch. For instance, one church I know trains their ushers to hand out earplugs if people come to the lobby to complain about the volume of the “show.” One of the leaders of that church made it clear to me that if people don’t like it, they can find the door. Casting a vision for participation involves more than lip service. It takes sincere action to gently bring congregants into the fold of participation. An attitude from leaders of “It’s not our fault if they don’t participate” is a cop-out and a justification for wallpaper worship. If you’re part of a church that refuses to cast a vision for participation, then find one that will.
  2. Use your binoculars. When I was producing and directing the Promise Keepers stadium events for men (events that filled NFL-sized stadiums around the nation in the mid-1990s), it was difficult to know if the attendees in the upper sections at the far end of the stadium were connecting with what was happening on the platform. From the opposite end of the stadium, the platform looked like the size of a postage stamp. I would step out from the stage side producer’s tent and look through binoculars to spot those in the far-off upper section seats to see if they were as engaged as the men sitting in chairs on the field in front of us. If we were losing participants from music or a speaker that was not engaging, we would change what we were doing until we saw 100 percent participation. Only by looking through “binoculars” can one see to what degree a platform is or is not connecting with those it is supposed to be leading. Proverbs 27:23 says, “Know well the condition of your flocks.” Pay attention. If people are not participating, the effectiveness of the leadership is questionable.
  3. Try painting in more than one color. Have you ever been to an art exhibit or a museum where all the paintings are in one color? How tedious would it become to view paintings throughout galleries and hallways that are exclusively in blue? When we plan and execute worship services in one narrow style, we are painting in one color. Try using a capella. Calm down the instruments and let the people sing and hear themselves sing. Try using a responsive reading where people hear their voices reciting Scripture aloud and in unison. Try an unplugged, acoustic set of music once or twice a month. Try using a live, classical, sacred piece somewhere appropriate to your service order or content. Why does everything have to be one style, one sound, one means of expression? Music listeners of all ages today access more styles and cultures of music than ever before through Pandora, Spotify, and YouTube. But in today’s church, only one style seems to be allowed. The colors of the artist’s palette are many. Try painting with more than one.
  4. Earn the trust. I once read on a popular worship blog, “The more they sing with you, the more they will trust you.” My experience with producing large and small worship events for decades is the opposite: The more they trust you, the more they will sing with you. Congregants are conditioned by the culture of the church. If the people in the pews sense the worship service is simply a performance to be observed, they will be reluctant to participate—even if given the chance in an a capella song. Leaders need to earn the trust of those they lead. Trust is earned over time by casting a vision for participation and letting congregants hear themselves; it is even earned in the unplanned ambiguity of following the Spirit’s leading.
  5. Be familiar. There is more worship music being written and released today than ever before. Most of it is unfamiliar, even to the select people who listen to Christian radio stations in their cars every day. Musicians tend to think they need to be teaching or performing all the latest material. This is a ruse and it leads to nonparticipation. The more that is new, the less they will know. Do the new stuff, but also use familiar songs that are dear to congregants young and old—songs and worship elements that have stood the test of time and personal devotion. Most of what is heard today will not be around two years from now. A gracious and trusted shepherd leads the sheep with a familiar rod and staff. Leaders have an obligation not only to lead the sheep beside still waters but to actually let them drink. They will be comforted knowing that their shepherd has their best interests in mind. Trust will result. Participation will follow.

Throughout history, wallpaper worship has cycled in and out. It thrives in times of prosperity but disappears in times of struggle or persecution. Whether you are a leader or a worshipper being led, it is time to bridge the gap between the platform and the people. Worshippers today are frustrated when they are not led in worship and feel they are being used as an audience. But take courage: When the bride is frustrated, the Bridegroom pays attention. “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him” (John 4:23).

Danny Byram teaches a one-day workshop called “Wallpaper Worship Removal: The Tools and Tips for Encouraging a Participating Congregation.” Book a workshop by contacting dbminc1@gmail.com.

 

About Danny Byram Danny Byram is an independent Christian recording artist and worship leader who has performed on five continents. Known by US military chaplains as “The Combat Musician,” Danny has given outreach concerts for the United States military community on over one hundred installations since 1987. He also produced and directed the Promise Keepers stadium events and the FamilyLife marriage arena events. With his breadth of experience in worship, performing arts and leadership, he lectures and conducts workshops on worship in colleges, churches, and military chapels throughout the world. To learn more about Danny, please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/authors/daniel-m-byram/

About Wallpaper Worship In Wallpaper Worship, Daniel Byram makes the comparison between today’s church worship and wallpaper—meant to emphasize the design of its surroundings, but not meant to be engaged with. Through an examination of personal worship experiences, the history of worship, and examples of biblical worship, Byram unpacks this analogy. He shares how to awaken our identities as corporate and individual worshippers, and passionately participate in the God-ordained activity of worship.

Wallpaper Worship will be released in Spring 2018. To order a copy of Wallpaper Worship or learn more details, please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/shop/wallpaper-worship-why-church-music-sounds-better-fewer-are-singing-and-what-to-do-about-it/

Knowing Jesus: Jesus, the True Human

From the CLC Bible Companion

Jesus was fully human in every way; in fact, he shows us what it really means to be human.

THE MAN FROM NAZARETH

From the second century AD, some people claimed that Jesus had not really been human, but that he had only seemed to do human things, suffer and die. This idea may be reflected in 2 John 7. They could not understand how Jesus, the divine Son of God, could ever have been a man with flesh and blood. These views are known as “Docetism”, from the Greek word “to appear” or “to seem”. Early church leaders, such as Ignatius and Irenaeus, argued against Docetism, and the church’s creeds clearly affirmed that Jesus was a human. It is important to note that Docetism arose around the second century, well after the events of Jesus’ life. The people who met Jesus during his earthly life had no reason to doubt that he was a human being, just like them. The New Testament consistently describes Jesus in human terms:

  • Birth and early years.

Although Jesus was conceived in Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:35), he still had a very human birth (Luke 2:6) and required his mother’s care and attention (Luke 2:7) and Joseph’s protection (Matthew 2:13-15). Over the following years, Jesus grew up in age, strength and wisdom, just like any child would (Luke 2:40,52). We do not know very much about Jesus’ family life; however, it is clear from the Gospels that his parents, brothers and sisters were well known in their home town of Nazareth (Matthew 13:54-56; Mark 6:1-3). Jesus’ early years were so normal that the people who had seen him grow up were surprised that he could teach about God with authority (see also Luke 2:46-47) and do great miracles – they thought he was just a carpenter, as Joseph had been before him.

In the mid-second century AD, imaginative stories began to be written about Jesus’ early life, claiming he had superhuman powers. For instance, in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, he moulds some birds out of clay and then brings them to life! While these stories were quite popular at the time, the church never accepted them as true. As the New Testament suggests, until the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus seems to have grown up just like any other first-century Jewish boy.

  • Physical, emotional and spiritual life.

Jesus was fully human in every way. He had bodily needs for food (Matthew 4:2; 21:18; Luke 4:2), water (John 4:7; 19:28), and rest (Matthew 8:24; Mark 4:38; Luke 8:23; John 4:6). He accepted the hospitality of others during his ministry (John 12:1-2, also Luke 8:1-3), and was often found at a party! He experienced the full range of human emotions, including joy (see Luke 7:34), friendship and love (John 15:12-15), compassion (Matthew 9:36; Mark 1:41; Luke 7:13), grief (John 11:33-35), anger (Mark 3:5; John 2:13-17) and anguish (Luke 22:44). In his spiritual life, Jesus had to draw strength from God in prayer (Luke 6:12; 9:28) and resist the temptations of Satan (Matthew 4:1-11, also Luke 4:13). The first Christians knew that Jesus’ work of salvation was effective for them because he had been completely human, just like them in every way except for sin (Hebrews 2:14-18; 4:15).

  • Jesus’ miraculous power.

Sometimes we think that Jesus’ miracles prove that he was divine. However, the people who saw them did not automatically think this. They presumed he was a human who was able to use heavenly or demonic power (Luke 11:15-16). Jesus explained that he worked miracles by “the finger of God” (Luke 11:20); he was a human being filled with the Holy Spirit of God (Luke 4:18-21). Other humans also performed miracles (eg 1 Kings 17:17-24; Acts 3:1-10).

  • Death and burial.

The Gospels describe the agony Jesus endured on the cross (Matthew 27:33-50; Mark 15:33-37; Luke 23:44-46). John records that he saw blood and water flowing out of Jesus’ side after his death, proving that he really was dead (John 19:33-35). Jesus was buried in a tomb, and everyone expected that his body would rot away (the women brought spices for it on the third day, Luke 24:1).

  • Bodily resurrection.

After his resurrection, Jesus remained a real human being, even though his resurrected body was able to do extraordinary things (Luke 24:31,36). He ate with his disciples and invited them to touch his body to prove he was not a ghost (Luke 24:37-43; John 20:27). The message of the first Christians was grounded in the knowledge that Jesus, who had brought God’s life and salvation, was a real human being (1 John 1:1-3), both before and after his resurrection (Acts 17:31; 1 Corinthians 15:17).

THE SON OF MAN

Jesus knew that he had a special status among other humans. In the Gospels, he refers to himself over fifty times as “the Son of Man” (eg Mark 2:10; 10:45). The Aramaic phrase that stands behind this title can simply mean “a human being”, but it has special significance because of its use in Daniel 7:13.

There, Daniel sees a vision of “one like a son of man” approaching the throne of heaven and being given authority by God to rule the whole world. By calling himself “the Son of Man”, Jesus is referring both to the fact that he belongs to the family of humanity and to his unique status within that family. When Jesus calls himself “the Son of Man”, he claims that he is the one human being to whom God has given authority over everything (see Mark 14:62). Jesus uses this power and authority to seek out and save the lost (Luke 19:10). He brings salvation through the weakness of his humanity – ultimately through his suffering and death in Jerusalem (Mark 8:31; 14:41). In the future, as the Son of Man, Jesus will be the standard of judgment for all other humans (Luke 18:8).

THE SECOND ADAM

The role of the Son of Man – to exercise responsible authority over the earth – was nothing new. In Genesis 1, humans were created on the sixth day, after everything else, as the pinnacle of God’s work. God gave humans a task appropriate to their lofty status – he instructed them to act as good stewards of his world (Genesis 1:28). Adam (whose name simply means “man”) and his wife Eve were supposed to be role models for the rest of humanity, living with God in fellowship and obedience. However, through their distrust of God’s word (Genesis 3:1-5) and disobedience (Genesis 3:6), this good order was disrupted (Genesis 3:14-19). The Old Testament does continue to speak of God’s vision for humanity (eg Psalm 8); however, in reality, humans are now incapable of living in the way God intended. Sin and death get in the way. If the story of Adam reveals what went wrong, the story of Jesus is the story of humanity as it should be. Jesus lived in constant fellowship with his heavenly Father. He exercised responsible authority over the world around him (eg calming the storm, Mark 4:39; feeding the crowds, Matthew 14:19-20). Jesus was not just another member of the human race; he was the one true human, the one who revealed human life as God had always intended it.

One of the ways the first Christians expressed this was by calling Jesus “the second Adam” or “the last Adam”. Paul contrasts the disobedience of Adam with the obedience of Jesus, and then he contrasts the effects of their lives: whereas Adam’s disobedience brought death to all, Jesus’ obedience brought life to all! (1 Corinthians 15:45; Romans 5:12-21). It is sometimes suggested that John’s Gospel envisages Jesus as the second Adam too. Just before his crucifixion, at the climax of John’s Gospel, Jesus is presented by Pilate to the crowds with the words, “Here is the man!” (John 19:5). Whatever Pilate himself may have thought about Jesus, Christians have rightly seen a deeper level of meaning in these words: “Here is the true man! Here is the second Adam!”

THE IMAGE OF GOD

Humans were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). This means that among all creatures, humans were to embody the kind of life that God has, and reflect his glory in the rest of creation (Psalm 8:5). Since the fall, the image of God in humanity has been broken and marred by sin. However, Jesus is the perfect and complete image of God (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3), fully reflecting God’s glory in his humanity (John 1:14).

Of course, Jesus is much more than the perfect human being. But we must remember that Jesus resists sin and reflects God’s glory because he is being truly human, not superhuman. Jesus reveals that sin is not a normal part of humanity as God intended it; it is abnormal. As a human being, Jesus lived in dependence on God’s Holy Spirit, and was raised from the dead. This is what it means for us to be human too (Philippians 2:5-8).

Jesus’ perfect humanity is the hope of our salvation – we can be truly human as we join his family and are made in his image, which is the image of God (Romans 8:29).

 

About The CLC Bible Companion The CLC Bible Companion is an all-in-one guide to the Bible that is both a comprehensive reference book and an exciting companion. Its goals for you are to: Know Jesus Christ, Discover the Contents of the Bible, Explore the Truth of the Bible, and Believe and Experience the Message of the Bible. The CLC Bible Companion is on special promotion for a limited time, you may purchase the CLC Bible Companion for $10.00 while supplies last. (retail price $29.99 for hardcover) To learn more about the CLC Bible Companion and purchase, please visit: https://www.clcpublications.com/deals-discounts/

 

Download Free PowerPoint Resources for your Bible Studies:

Knowing Jesus 1

Interview with John Stanley, Author of Surrender

From the Bill Knapik Radio Show

How do you find the time to do what God has called you to do when you have a full schedule?  Where do you find the strength to endure life’s most difficult pain and suffering? Author John Stanley reveals the answers to these challenging questions and more through his personal stories.

Listen to the full interview here:

 

About John Stanley: ​John Stanley serves as a pastor on staff in the worship ministry at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. An internationally recognized composer, arranger, music producer, percussionist, and drummer, he has been part of the professional music scene for over a decade and has worked with multiple award-winning artists, producers, and songwriters​. John desires to connect people to God’s Word through written and spoken truth, while encouraging individuals into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. John and his wife, Sarah, live in Houston with their two children. To learn more about the author, please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/authors/john-stanley/

About SurrenderIn Surrender, John Stanley encourages readers in the call upon every Christian’s life to daily die to self and surrender—in salvation and in every single circumstance. Expertly weaving together Scripture, personal anecdotes, and a white-water rafting story, John explores what a truly surrendered life can look like, and how that provides a new outlook on what it means to live a satisfied, joyful life. To learn more about the book and order a copy, please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/shop/surrender-learning-to-navigate-lifes-deep-waters-with-christ-as-your-guide/

Knowing Jesus: Jesus the Messiah

From the CLC Bible Companion

Jesus is called “the Messiah” or “Christ” because of his unique role in fulfilling the promises that God made to the Jewish people long ago.

OLD TESTAMENT PROMISES

Throughout the Old Testament, God made it clear that his people Israel were to play a special part in his plan to rescue and restore the world. When God called Abraham, he promised him that his descendants would be a blessing to everyone on the earth (Genesis 12:1-3). As the prophet Isaiah said over 1,000 years later, Israel were supposed to be a light to the nations, revealing the way to worship and serve the true God (eg Isaiah 60:1-3).

Through Israel, God would invite the whole world to discover his salvation. However, the people of Israel kept wandering away from the true God. Instead of being a light to the nations, they copied the practices of the nations around them and worshipped idols. Because they were not faithful to him, God allowed the Israelites to be defeated by their enemies and eventually carried into exile. It was clear that Israel needed to be saved too.

In the Old Testament, God used many individuals to rescue his people from their difficulties: for example, Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt (see Exodus 1–15); wise and brave leaders like Deborah and Gideon helped the Israelites to defeat their enemies (see Judges); kings like David and Solomon brought honour and wealth to the nation (see 1 Chronicles 29); prophets called on the people to repent and follow the ways of God; and after the exile, a governor named Nehemiah and a priest called Ezra helped to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple.

Despite these, it was never long before Israel needed to be saved again. The great leaders in Israel’s history were not able to bring about permanent salvation and blessing for Israel and the world. But still God promised that a day would come when Israel would be saved once and for all. Some of these prophecies spoke about a wonderful leader who would be sent by God to accomplish this salvation. This leader would be greater than Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15-18) and David (2 Samuel 7:12-16). Isaiah’s prophecy describes this mysterious person as a just and wise ruler (Isaiah 9:6-7), and as a faithful servant of God (42:1-9) who will deal with Israel’s sin (52:13–53:12) and so reveal God’s light and salvation to the whole world (42:6; 49:6), just as God had promised.

This servant will be able to accomplish all these things because he will be anointed with God’s Spirit (Isaiah 61:1). In the Old Testament, a person was anointed with oil in order to be set apart to do special tasks for God, particularly as a king or priest (eg 1 Samuel 16:13; Leviticus 8:12). Prophets too were set apart by God (eg Jeremiah 1:5). At the end of the Old Testament period, some people in Israel were looking for the greatest prophet, priest and king – the greatest “anointed one” – to come to establish God’s permanent kingdom of peace (Zechariah 9:9-10).

JEWISH EXPECTATIONS

In the years between the Old and New Testaments, the expectation that an “anointed one” would come to save Israel grew. Ever since their return from exile, apart from the short period between 140 and 63 BC, the people of Israel had been ruled by a succession of foreign empires: first Persian, then Greek, then Egyptian, then Syrian and finally Roman. Jews longed to be free to rule themselves, and some began regularly using the Hebrew term for “anointed one” – our word Messiah – to describe a coming leader who would liberate them and restore their former glory.

There were many different ideas about what this Messiah would be like. Generally, people thought he would be a king greater than King David, who would lead a successful revolt against foreign powers. In the Dead Sea Scrolls two different Messiahs are expected, one a king and the other a priest. The priestly Messiah would clean out and rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. This was necessary because the temple had been defiled by Israel’s foreign rulers – particularly by Antiochus Epiphanes the Syrian, who had built a pagan altar in the temple in 167 BC. Even though Judas Maccabaeus had led a successful military revolt and had reconsecrated the temple in 164 BC, other Jews still looked for the true Messiah to come and bring God’s salvation once and for all. What connected these expectations was a belief that the Messiah would fulfil Jewish dreams of greatness.

THE REALITY OF JESUS

The New Testament declares that Jesus is the Messiah who was promised in the Old Testament (Mark 1:1; John 20:31; Acts 18:28). However, while Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecies (eg Matthew 1:21-23), he also challenged some Jewish expectations.

  • The birth of Jesus.

Jesus’ birth clearly pointed to his unique role as Messiah. The angel Gabriel told Mary that she would give birth to the great king of Israel (Luke 1:32-33). The birth itself took place in Bethlehem, to fulfil the prophecy of Micah 5:2 (Matthew 2:3-6). Angels told some shepherds that the Messiah had been born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:11), and wise men from the east travelled to find the “king of the Jews” (Matthew 2:1-11). When Jesus was first taken to the temple in Jerusalem, Simeon and Anna recognised that he was the Messiah of Israel (Luke 2:25-38), although Simeon also spoke of unexpected suffering (34,35).

  • John the Baptist.

John was sent to prepare the way for Jesus (Luke 1:67-79), by his preaching and baptism (Matthew 3:1-6). He was so popular that people began asking if he was the Messiah, but John told them that the Messiah was coming after him, and pointed them to Jesus (John 1:19-31).

  • Jesus’ ministry.

Jesus knew that his ministry of preaching and healing was a fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy about the Messiah (Isaiah 61:1-2; Luke 4:16-21; 7:18-23). He spoke with greater authority than the leaders of the day (Matthew 7:28-29), and declared that he was greater than the prophet Jonah and King Solomon (Matthew 12:38-42). Just like the expected Messiah, he spoke about establishing God’s kingdom (Mark 1:14-15).

  • Peter’s declaration.

Jesus’ twelve disciples had followed him more closely than any others during his ministry. One day, Jesus asked them who they thought he was. Peter exclaimed, “You are the Messiah!” (Matthew 16:13-16; Mark 8:27-29; Luke 9:18-20). People followed Jesus because they believed he was the one God had promised to send to rescue Israel (Luke 24:21).

  • The Messianic secret.

In the Gospels, when people recognised that Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus often told them not to tell anyone else (Matthew 16:20; Mark 8:30; Luke 4:41; 9:21). He referred to himself as “Son of man” rather than as “messiah”. Jesus knew that people would misunderstand what he had come to do. They thought that the Messiah would be a great political leader who would deal with the Romans and set up a new national government (John 6:15). Instead, Jesus taught his disciples that, as the Messiah, he would suffer humiliation and death and then rise again in order to deal with Israel’s greatest enemy: not Rome, but sin and death (Mark 8:31; John 12:31-36; Matthew 26:26-28). The disciples did not fully understand this until after the resurrection.

  • Jesus’ trial and crucifixion.

In the week before his death, Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem as a king (Luke 19:29-40), and he cleared the temple of merchants and money-changers (19:45-46). He was acting as God’s promised Messiah! However, the Jewish authorities saw him as a threat to their way of life (see John 11:47-53), so they worked out a way to get rid of him. They arrested and tried him for pretending to be the Messiah (Luke 22:66-71). They accused him of trying to lead a revolt against the Roman emperor (23:2), and asked the Roman governor Pilate to crucify him. On the cross, a notice was placed over Jesus’ head that read, “This is the King of the Jews”. Many people mocked Jesus, because they could not believe that God’s true Messiah would be killed on a cross. (23:35-39).

  • The resurrection.

The disciples thought that the crucifixion was the end of their hope that Jesus was the Messiah. But on the third day, Jesus was raised from the dead. When he appeared to them, he explained that they had misunderstood the prophecies of the Old Testament (Luke 24:25-27,44-47). Jesus had not failed in his role as Messiah; rather, by his death and resurrection, Jesus had accomplished what God had promised!

THE PREACHING OF THE EARLY CHRISTIANS

After Pentecost, the disciples proclaimed the good news that Jesus is God’s Messiah (eg Acts 2:36; 18:5). Jesus sent his disciples into all the world, not just to Jews (Matthew 28:19). The message for Jews is that their Messiah has come to fulfil all God’s promises, even if he has done so in a surprising way (2 Corinthians 1:20). The message to non-Jews is that because the Messiah has come, God’s light and salvation are now available to everyone (Ephesians 2:11-22). The Greek form of Messiah – our word “Christ” – became the most common way for early believers to refer to Jesus. But remember that “Christ” is a title, not a surname. Followers of Jesus Christ were soon called “Christians” (Acts 11:26).

 

About The CLC Bible Companion The CLC Bible Companion is an all-in-one guide to the Bible that is both a comprehensive reference book and an exciting companion. Its goals for you are to: Know Jesus Christ, Discover the Contents of the Bible, Explore the Truth of the Bible, and Believe and Experience the Message of the Bible. The CLC Bible Companion is on special promotion for a limited time, you may purchase the CLC Bible Companion for $10.00 while supplies last. (retail price $29.99 for hardcover) To learn more about the CLC Bible Companion and purchase, please visit: https://www.clcpublications.com/deals-discounts/

 

Download Free PowerPoint Resources for your Bible Studies:

Knowing Jesus 1

Knowing Jesus: Jesus in History

From the CLC Bible Companion

Jesus lived in a specific time and place in history, so we can discover many reliable facts about his life, death and resurrection.

THE WORLD OF JESUS

Jesus was born into the Jewish world of first century Israel. Although some aspects of the first century world were similar to life in today’s world, other aspects now seem strange and unfamiliar. To understand Jesus and his message better, it is important to get to know this time and place. Helpfully, it is well documented in various historical sources.

Jewish writings after the Old Testament.

At the end of the Old Testament, some of the Jews had returned to their land after exile in Babylon (see Nehemiah and Ezra). The period of time before the start of the New Testament is known as the intertestamental period. A number of Jewish books written during this time can be found in the Apocrypha section of some Bibles. These include the two books of Maccabees, written around 100 BC. 1 and 2 Maccabees tell the story of Judas Maccabeus and his companions, who led a Jewish revolt in 167–164 BC against Antiochus Epiphanes, their Syrian ruler. Later, when the Romans took over the region in 63 BC, many Jews longed for another revolutionary leader like Judas to rescue them from foreign power. These writings record some of the stories and events from the Jews’ recent history that would have been well-known and important in Jesus’ day.

Dead Sea Scrolls.

In 1947, a shepherd found a collection of ancient scrolls in a cave near the Dead Sea. The scrolls from this and ten other caves (also known as the Qumran texts, because the caves are near the site of Qumran) include copies of every book of the Old Testament except Esther. There are also some commentaries on the Old Testament and other writings that describe the beliefs of some Jews, a group often known as the Essenes. They wrote about a great Messiah who they believed would save them from their troubles. The scrolls help us to understand the beliefs of some Jewish people at the time of Jesus, and remind us that there were many different groups believing different things in the ancient world, much like in society today.

Josephus.

The Jewish historian Josephus lived from AD 37 to shortly after AD 100. He wrote The Jewish War, which recounts what happened to the Jews after the Maccabean revolt. Josephus is the most important source of information outside the New Testament about life in Palestine during the time of Jesus.

Roman historians.

During the time of Jesus, Palestine was under the control of the Roman Empire. Roman historians, such as Tacitus and Suetonius, record how the empire viewed the Jewish people, and also occasionally mention the early Christian movement.

Archaeology.

Jesus lived alongside other people with homes and jobs. Archaeologists have found buildings and other items of interest that show what life was like in first-century Palestine. They have also discovered specific locations that match the record of the New Testament, such as the village of Bethany (e.g. John 11:18) or the Praetorium, the official residence of the Roman governor in Jerusalem (e.g. John 18:28).

THE LIFE OF JESUS

It is essential to remember that the story of Jesus’ life is grounded in real history. By comparing the historical information given by the Gospels (e.g. Luke 2:1; 3:1) with what is known about the officials they mention, Jesus’ birth can be dated about the year 4 BC. He was born in Bethlehem, just south of Jerusalem, but spent his early years in Nazareth, near the Sea of Galilee, in the north. When he was around thirty years old, he began a ministry of teaching and healing, which took him all over the land. He had many followers, but there were twelve special disciples who were with him throughout his ministry. Jesus’ teaching and actions frustrated the Jewish leaders, who were afraid he would disrupt the fragile peace they had with the Romans. In AD 30 or 33, Jesus was arrested by the Jewish authorities and handed over to the Romans to be crucified. On the third day after his burial, some of his followers found that his tomb was empty, and met with him again, alive from the dead (see especially 1 Corinthians 15:1-11). This account of Jesus’ life, drawn from the Gospels, can be matched with other ancient historical sources. For instance, the Jewish historian Josephus recorded the following information about Jesus:

“At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon their loyalty to him. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive. Accordingly they believed that he was the Messiah, concerning whom the Prophets have recounted wonders.”

Josephus’ work was written around AD 90, so it was within living memory of the life of Jesus. Josephus also tells his readers about John the Baptist and James, the brother of Jesus. The life of Jesus, and the other people and events recorded in the Gospels, were not closely kept secrets, but public knowledge.

THE GOSPELS ABOUT JESUS

Most of our information about Jesus comes from the New Testament, and especially from the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. “Gospel” means “good news”. These books were written to tell the world what was important about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. They are not complete biographies of Jesus, and they do not give us all the information that we might wish we had. However, they contain all that we need to know in order to understand the significance of Jesus and what he has done for us.

The Gospels in the New Testament can be relied upon as accurate pictures of Jesus. Many of the people and places mentioned in the New Testament Gospels have been verified by other historical documents and archaeology. Luke points out that he had spent much time researching his Gospel and speaking to eyewitnesses (Luke 1:1-4).

All the Gospels were written within living memory of Jesus’ life, and so the first readers would have been able to check that they were accurate. It is interesting to note that later on, many years after Jesus’ time, other stories containing imaginative and fanciful ideas were written about Jesus, such as the Gospel of Thomas, from the second century AD.

However, the early Christians refused to believe them and these documents did not become part of the New Testament. On the other hand, the four Gospels were accepted because they gave a clear and unembellished account of Jesus’ life and ministry. It is significant that there are four Gospels in the New Testament, rather than only one. This can sometimes seem confusing, especially when the Gospels contain differences in detail about the same event. For instance, John says that Jesus overturned the money-changers’ tables in the temple when he began his preaching and healing ministry (John 2:13-21). Matthew, Mark and Luke say it happened shortly before the end of his life (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46). Did the event happen twice? Or did one or more of the Gospel writers put it in the wrong place?

We must remember that the Gospels do not intend to give us a diary of the events of Jesus’ life. The authors arranged their material about Jesus in their own ways in order to help their readers understand the significance of these events. John placed this episode at the beginning of his Gospel because it illustrates how Jesus’ ministry was replacing the religion of the temple. Matthew, Mark and Luke want to show how this event led the Jewish authorities to put Jesus to death (see, e.g., Luke 19:47).

However, this difference does not make their writing less accurate. Good history is not simply a list of facts, but is also a knowledge of why the facts are important. Sometimes the facts need to be arranged in a certain way, or particular elements need to be stressed, so that the significance of Jesus can be understood. The Gospel writers are like film editors, who cut and paste the story of Jesus so that we too can understand him in the way they did.

Because Jesus was a living historical figure, we should not be surprised that his life cannot be confined by a single account (see John 21:25). The fact that there are four accounts of his life is something to be celebrated, not ignored. Each Gospel writer provides a unique perspective on Jesus’ person and work.

Together, the four Gospels help us to meet with the Jesus who lived, died and rose again two thousand years ago.

 

About The CLC Bible Companion The CLC Bible Companion is an all-in-one guide to the Bible that is both a comprehensive reference book and an exciting companion. Its goals for you are to: Know Jesus Christ, Discover the Contents of the Bible, Explore the Truth of the Bible, and Believe and Experience the Message of the Bible. The CLC Bible Companion is on special promotion for a limited time, you may purchase the CLC Bible Companion for $10.00 while supplies last. (retail price $29.99 for hardcover) To learn more about the CLC Bible Companion and purchase, please visit: https://www.clcpublications.com/deals-discounts/

 

Download Free PowerPoint Resources for your Bible Studies: Knowing Jesus

“It is always easier to face our wounds when we know there is a cure.”

“It is always easier to face our wounds when we know there is a cure. The wounds of Jesus do just that. Jesus’ wounds are not for religious people but for wounded people.” – The Seven Wounds of Christ by Fred Hartley

In The Seven Wounds of Christ, author Fred Hartley shares how Christ’s wounds on the cross represent the fullness of His atonement and how, individually, each wound corresponds to a distinct healing for us. Using straightforward scientific explanations, real-life stories and biblical truths, Hartley teaches that no matter the depth of our wounds, the wounds of Jesus go deeper—and His wounds are for our healing.

The Seven Wounds of Christ by Fred Hartley will be offered at 40{b94810839c75fbf9946a0c847ecfc8f47f918cc4312a47127586fab8fdbcec81} off until Easter. Order your copy here: https://www.clcpublications.com/shop/the-seven-wounds-of-christ-where-skeptics-cynics-and-seekers-find-unexpected-healing/

Download a free sermon series on the Seven Wounds of Christ: https://lilburn4jesus.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/7-Wounds-Sermon-Series-Wounds-1-4.pdf

Real surrender is hard. So to be truthful, I really didn’t love the idea of writing this book.

Question and Answer with Surrender‘s author John Stanley.

John Stanley

John Stanley serves as a pastor on staff in the worship ministry at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. An internationally recognized composer, arranger, music producer, percussionist, and drummer, he has been part of the professional music scene for over a decade and has worked with multiple award-winning artists, producers, and songwriters​. John desires to connect people to God’s Word through written and spoken truth, while encouraging individuals into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. John and his wife, Sarah, live in Houston with their two children.

Q1: Please tell us about yourself.

I’m a PK (pastor’s kid) and a native Texan. I grew up with a passion for soccer, which radically changed to music in my teenage years. I didn’t fully commit to music until I was seventeen years old. I went to college for music but left early to pursue music as a career. Starting as a drummer, that pursuit has taken shape into much more as I’ve developed into a composer, arranger, songwriter, and music producer. I love creating music!

I’m on staff in the music ministry at Second Baptist Church in Houston. This church is where I met and married my wife (I fell up a mountain with her!) and where we are raising our family. I love Second and what God is doing through His people here! It is an amazing community.

My wife is the most remarkable woman on earth to me, and I am definitely that “over-proud” dad! HA!

Interesting Fact: English was one of my worst subjects in school. I expound on this in the book!

 Q2: How did you come to faith?

I came to know Jesus when I was six, when I asked my father to pull over so I could pray and ask Jesus into my heart. From then on, it’s been a wild ride! I couldn’t make it up if I tried. Christ is my foundation and my hope. The different roles He’s called me into as a husband, father, minister, musician, music maker, and author are a product of my relationship with Him. I truly feel His joy in every one of these roles and callings.

Q3: Can you tell us about the experiences and inspirations that led you to write Surrender?

The writing of Surrender has been a long journey and it’s taken about seven years. It all started with a simple divinely planted desire to write a book, but the subject was not clear. However, on the river journey I call life, God has taken me on a course that has been all about surrender. So, once the ideas began to churn within, the direction became clear rather quickly.

Real surrender is hard. So to be truthful, I really didn’t love the idea of writing this book. But I’ve felt deeply compelled to write because I believe that as followers of Jesus, surrender is the greatest strength to our witness. No matter what circumstances lie ahead and no matter what line of work we are in, we can be a witness and a bold light—and surrender opens that door of confidence with strength. If every believer took the calling of surrender with the utmost priority, I sincerely believe we’d see a radical difference in our world by the impact of our influence across every landscape.

This world is calling out for authenticity, for people to be real, but we’ve been deceived to believe something different. Surrender brings us to our most authentic self in Christ and proclaims God’s abundant faithfulness, despite the raging white water that life can bring.

Q4: Can you tell us the story behind the subtitle of your book (Learning to Navigate Life’s Deep Waters with Christ as Your Guide)?

When I was twelve my parents took my brother and me on a white-water rafting trip. They used this adventure to teach us a valuable life lesson: Life is like a river. You’ll have your calm serene moments, and then you’ll have raging white water. As followers of Jesus, we’ve been given Christ as our Guide to navigate us through the waters ahead. We have a choice: Surrender to the commands of the Guide or trek the river on our own. One way will end in catastrophe. The other way will bring life and victory.

Q5: What are some experiences you would like to share with the readers about the process of writing this book?

Through the journey of writing this book, my wife, children, and I have rafted through some terrifying waters. But we’ve also journeyed through some joyous, fruitful waters that got our adrenaline pumping and rejuvenated our outlook on life. As God is our victor and true Guide, He has faithfully led us through every twist and turn. From dealing with chronic pain, the struggle of pregnancy with our firstborn, and painful and devastating family events that could’ve easily brought destruction, to exciting and nerve-racking musical endeavors, enriching and profound ministry opportunities, and wonderful and awe-striking life experiences . . . it’s been a journey!

All these things have led to the inspiration behind the pages of this book. Being a first-time author has been a bit of a “wow” experience for me. Writer’s block is a very real thing! Frustrations can easily get to you. Finding the time to write, and yes, even rewrite, amid a whirlwind schedule was rough. But what God started He has been faithful to move forward and keep alive. Words are not adequate to express my thankfulness to Him for all He has done and will continue to do.

Q6: What are your favorite books or authors you enjoy reading?

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. This is just an amazing, inspiring book. Anyone who is married, engaged, or dating and thinking about marriage needs to read his book. I love the “BE” series by Warren Wiersbe. He is the author who has probably had the most impact on my life. His commentaries are rich in knowledge and wisdom, but easy to understand. I also enjoy the occasional fictional read.

Q7: What are some things that can hinder us from surrendering? What are your words of encouragement to people who are dealing with those things?

I believe the greatest detriments to surrender are fear and lack of commitment (which is attached to idolatry). Fear will stop you dead in your tracks, and you must be prayerful and diligent in your discernment to know if that fear is healthy or unhealthy. Any fear that drives you away from God is unhealthy.

Lack of commitment and idolatry are other hindrances. Many of us are willing to speak the words that sound right. As a PK, I can talk the talk all day long. But when my actions don’t line up with what’s coming out of my mouth, that declares my commitment. I can tell my wife and kids I love them every day but never do anything to show it. What do you think that would say to them?

Commitment is two-part: saying and doing. We all have roadblocks to the priority we should put on our relationship with Christ, and we’ve allowed some of those roadblocks because of idols we hold dear: work schedules, activities, hobbies, “stuff,” laziness, the influence and popularity of our peers (that doesn’t just die when we get out of high school). We can let the culture of our surroundings dictate our behaviors, rather than allow our behaviors and priorities to be governed by our commitment to Christ.

I’ve heard it said many times, “You don’t understand my working environment or who I’m around. I’ll lose relatability. I’ll lose connectivity.” That speaks volumes about where an individual finds their identity, and it also traces itself back to fear. If we were to take a step outside our perceived reality and truthfully look into our earthly relationships, we’d probably see that this is a lie we’ve come to believe. People want us to be real with who we are and the core truth of what and who we value. Authenticity counts big, especially today in a world where so many authoritative public figures are falling away because of lies and immoral behaviors driven by deception.

Do you want to be real and the most authentic you? Then, as a follower of Jesus, dig into the relationship. He’s your Creator, so from that relationship who you really are will emerge. That version of you will be the best version of you. Pursue the kingdom of God and His righteousness (see Matt. 6:33). Let everything else be influenced by that pursuit. Let the cards fall where they may. Be intentional. Be diligent. Influence and inspire.

Q8: Have you had difficult times surrendering? Please share with us your experiences.

Stepping away from college to pursue music as a career was tough indeed. I was taught my whole life that the only way to success is by getting a college degree. When that’s been ingrained in you from childhood, you better believe that when God begins to move you in a different direction, it’s incomprehensibly scary.

My mother is an educator. My father has two master’s degrees. My brother graduated from college and has become a “Top 40 Under 40” influencer in his field. Taking that path of surrender into dark and deep waters was very difficult. I dealt with shame from family and friends. I felt like I was constantly having to prove myself upon any new endeavor. But, God set a destination ahead and began to guide me there.

I had two choices: Obey and follow His lead or go my own way of what I believed to be “right.” I really don’t even want to consider where I may have ended up if I chose my own way. I’ve not yet reached the destination in full either. I see the river of life as an expedition with God, my family, and me, and it will continue until I depart from this earth. However, I’m excited to see what other adventures await and what discoveries we uncover along the way.

Q9: What do you hope for your readers to gain through Surrender?

Life change—seeing life from a different perspective. I want them to see the beauty that comes from surrender through every circumstance; and, I pray this book brings some clarity on what that looks like. I’m hopeful some questions are answered, and I’m hopeful people will say goodbye to fear and feel embraced by God’s rest and peace as they do so. I’m hopeful readers will take the plunge and trek the river wild with true commitment, tear down any idols that could get in the way, and enjoy the ride!

Q10: Any last thoughts to the readers?

One evening at the dinner table, my son looked at me and said, “Okay Dad . . . tell me about life.” My daughter eagerly looked on. My mind scrambled through my thoughts for a quick response, “Life is a gift,” I said. Today, if you were walking around our house, at any random moment of the day you might hear my son say, “You know what you guys? Life is a gift!” It’s a great reminder because it really is.

I pray you’re blessed by this book. Enjoy the adventure of life! Where God leads may not be what you had envisioned, but I promise it will be the perfect fit for how He molded you in your creation so that you may have the greatest impact on those He wants you to influence. Life is like a river, and God is the perfect navigator. Grace and peace to you.

 

 

In Surrender, John Stanley encourages readers in the call upon every Christian’s life to daily die to self and surrender—in salvation and in every single circumstance. Expertly weaving together Scripture, personal anecdotes, and a white-water rafting story, John explores what a truly surrendered life can look like, and how that provides a new outlook on what it means to live a satisfied, joyful life. To learn more about the book and order a copy, please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/shop/surrender-learning-to-navigate-lifes-deep-waters-with-christ-as-your-guide/

 

 

About CLC Publications: CLC Publications (formerly Christian Literature Crusade) is the English language publishing house for CLC Ministries International. Headquartered in Fort Washington, PA, CLC has published books for the Deeper Christian Life for over 50 years. Our focus has been to publish books by trusted authors with a clear and timeless message. Some of our better known authors from the past include Watchman NeeCorrie ten BoomAmy CarmichaelAndrew Murray and Roy Hession. As a part of CLC International, our books are sold and distributed in countries all over the world including but not limited to the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, India, the West Indies, and the Philippines. We are committed to being a significant part of fulfilling CLC’s international purpose of making evangelical Christian literature available to all nations so that people may come to faith and maturity in our Lord Jesus Christ.

From the Author: Seven Signs Your Church May Be Covered in Wallpaper Worship

Author of Wallpaper Worship, Daniel Byram shares his insights on church worship.

Wallpaper music—music that is piped into a dentist’s office or a supermarket—is pleasant to the ear but does little for the spirit. Wallpaper worship has taken our churches by storm. On any given Sunday, walk into an evangelical church and watch the congregants observing as opposed to participating. As sincere as the musicians seem and as great as the music sounds, many people in congregations are not connecting to the songs. In fact, the music is so slick and professional that it is designed to be listened to; participation is optional, except for the brave few who might lift their voice. And, house mixes are so loud and overproduced that congregants will not be heard anyway. So why try?

It doesn’t seem to matter to the musicians. Wallpaper worship is like a code language, telling us in the seats, “It isn’t important to us that you participate. We’ll do this for you.” In his classic book Worship Is A Verb, Robert Webber says that worship is not “something done to us or for us, but by us.”

From what I have witnessed as I have traveled the world visiting churches, Christian conference centers, and military chapel services, churchgoers are experiencing wallpaper worship in congregations as large as ten thousand and as small as one hundred.

Many across the landscape of present-day church leadership say that this kind of non-participatory experience is what the current culture demands. As well-meaning as that explanation is, it ignores the bigger picture. The issue is rooted in a fundamental point that what we have been calling worship may not be worship at all. The church has redefined worship to fit a cultural model instead of a biblical one, much to the ignorance of many newly churched believers and to the dismay of mature worshippers who have been around long enough to know the difference.

Finding solutions to the problem of wallpaper worship starts with recognizing that there is a problem. Here are seven signs that your church might be covered in wallpaper worship:

Congregants aren’t participating, they are watching. There are many reasons for this, which I address in my book, but for now it simply needs to be recognized and faced as a reality. The leadership team of pastors at a church I recently visited never knew this was happening. Why didn’t they know? The pastors all sat in the front row and were unaware that when the band started playing, half the congregants (seated behind them out of view) were walking out to the lobby to have coffee and visit. “Know well the condition of your flocks” (Proverbs 27:23).

The musicians are mostly playing songs that congregants don’t know. When this happens, it conveys the message that if you aren’t listening to syndicated Christian radio during the week, you are left out. I know a lot of dedicated Christians who love to sing, but listen to pop, jazz, classical, or talk radio. Too bad for them. There used to be a common body of songs every Protestant church goer knew for generations. Many still do, but if five out of six songs chosen for a worship service were written and released within the last eighteen months, is it any wonder why people aren’t singing?

The “worship leader” (aka the lead singer of the band) never invites anyone to sing along. The title of worship leader has a connotation that the person possessing the title is recognized as a leader because of a body of people following him or her. In many cases, worship leaders are simply leading a band of musicians; the congregation is not following them. The slogan for a military infantry officer who leads a platoon of soldiers is “Follow me.” Leaders have followers.

Congregants are chatting or walking around. It is interesting how this never happens during a sermon but is allowed during a musical segment. It could be that these times are considered optional. Again, this is solved through proper leadership. A football team understands very clearly that their destination is a line at the end of the field called the goal line. If leaders have no idea where the goal line of worship is, it is likely that their followers will never reach it.

Communion is ambiguous. If the elements of Communion and their meaning are never explained, people are left to figure it out on their own. I’ve seen churches where people are given Communion elements with the unspoken option of taking Communion in the privacy of their seat, in the hallway, in the bathroom, or in their car when they are leaving. Another option is for folks to trot over to a section of the sanctuary where Communion is offered while something else is taking place, with no explanation of what is happening “over there.” Ambiguity experienced in something as fundamental as Communion will likely be seen in other matters within the church as well. Ambiguity in worship is a sign of wallpaper worship.

Many congregants arrive after the music. If you are a leader or pastor, try this: Hang out in the foyer of the church for a few months and watch how many congregants arrive late. Then, go a step further and ask them why they are arriving late. If they are honest with you, you may discover what many churchgoers have known for years: Some congregants skip the music portion of the service, feeling frustrated that they are being used simply as an audience for weekend performers. Christian worshippers want to be led to participation, rather than watch others participate in their stead.

Arrogance of Artistry. I have been told stories by congregants who try to convey to a leader their frustrations with worship services that are nothing more than exercises in passive observation, only to be dismissed as out of touch—or worse, misunderstood as trying to insult the leader. When a leader (especially a musician) storms off in a huff, it is simply arrogance of artistry. A well-known Christian hit songwriter friend of mine said to me, “It’s not the style of music we are using, nor is it the quality of performance that offends me. It’s the vibe coming from the platform.” If a worship platform gives out a message of, “Listen to us and look at our gadgets,” you can bet that the worshippers are simply lining the walls to provide a weekly audience for performers who otherwise would not have one. Congregants understand that. And when they are dismissed as being out of touch by those who lead them, it begs the question: Just who is the one who is out of touch? Arrogance is a fruit of wallpaper worship. Wallpaper worship is a fruit of arrogance. The two feed off each other. We may be filing seats and parking lots, but God is actually resisting us (see James 4:6).

If your church experience reflects any of these seven traits, it may be time for some soul searching.

Wallpaper worship doesn’t encourage participation; it isn’t designed to even allow participation. It is unconnected to its heritage and lacks power of the Spirit. It is an imposter of what Jesus describes as worshipping “in spirit and truth.” Wallpaper worship is cyclical. It thrives in times of prosperity but dies in seasons in persecution.

When the hows of worship become more important than the whys of worship, we have missed the point of worship itself. I personally do not think this is what anyone in the body of Christ wants. But history proves it is a common trap that stumbles each generation in the church.

So take heart: Whether you are a leader or a weekly worshipper, you do not have to tolerate wallpaper worship. In John 4:23, Jesus says, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” If our heart’s true desire is to participate corporately—to sing, recite, listen, pray, weep, and seek Him together—then we can be assured we are in step with what the Father seeks, and that’s a good place to be. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb. 10:24-25). Worship is together!

 

About Danny Byram Danny Byram is an independent Christian recording artist and worship leader who has performed on five continents. Known by US military chaplains as “The Combat Musician,” Danny has given outreach concerts for the United States military community on over one hundred installations since 1987. He also produced and directed the Promise Keepers stadium events and the FamilyLife marriage arena events. With his breadth of experience in worship, performing arts and leadership, he lectures and conducts workshops on worship in colleges, churches, and military chapels throughout the world. To learn more about Danny, please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/authors/daniel-m-byram/

About Wallpaper Worship In Wallpaper Worship, Daniel Byram makes the comparison between today’s church worship and wallpaper—meant to emphasize the design of its surroundings, but not meant to be engaged with. Through an examination of personal worship experiences, the history of worship, and examples of biblical worship, Byram unpacks this analogy. He shares how to awaken our identities as corporate and individual worshippers, and passionately participate in the God-ordained activity of worship.

Grab your copy of Wallpaper Worship today!

“I’ve had a 33-year close relationship with a man I’ve never met.” – The Story Behind the Calvary Road Study Guide

Author of the Calvary Road Study Guide, Stephen McCary Shares his story.

I’ve had a 33-year close relationship with a man I’ve never met. Let me explain.

In the mid-1980s, as a 35-year-old struggling to find joy in the Christian life, my pastor recommended to me The Calvary Road by Roy Hession. It seemed to be perfect timing for this former workaholic who had become a “churchaholic” after salvation. I was so grateful for God’s intervention in my life, and for the restoration of my family, that I wanted to do everything for the Lord. I became a Sunday school teacher, a deacon, a member of the evangelism team . . . you name it, I was willing.

But like an animal caught in quicksand, the more I worked for Jesus the deeper I sank into the fruitlessness of SELF. God met me through the pages of The Calvary Road. I began to realize the difference between obedience and surrender. An obedient heart will not necessarily produce a surrendered heart; it often produces a prideful heart. But, a surrendered heart will most often lead to an obedient heart.

The key element in my understanding came from Roy Hession’s teachings regarding surrender, humility, and transparency. I learned that walking in the light (see 1 John 1:7) appears in the mundane, everyday walk of life. What rest I experienced! This rest was not complacency, but genuine rest in God’s leading me to that which He directed me to do. It was not cultural expectations from man or from church, but a sensitivity to the voice of God through His word. Oh, I didn’t get it overnight, but I was on the road—the Calvary road.

Over the next fifteen years, my copy of the book was so worn and marked up that it was like a personal journal, containing truths I had learned and convictions I had experienced. It became my go-to book when discipling other men. Evidently, and unbeknownst to me, many at our church saw me as an ambassador for Mr. Hession, a man I will only meet one day in heaven. In 1999, a fellow pastor asked me to teach The Calvary Road in a twelve-week format at our church. Upon completion, a ministry assistant suggested that I send the weekly homework to CLC for their consideration as a companion study guide to The Calvary Road.

CLC Publications published the first edition of The Calvary Road Study Guide in 2000, the fiftieth anniversary of the first printing of Mr. Hession’s classic! What an honor to have my name associated with such a life-changing book and with such a humble man of God, Roy Hession. I can’t wait to meet him!

 

About the Calvary Road Study Guide: This study guide by Rev. Stephen McCary is designed to be a chapter-by-chapter open discussion of the biblical truths taught in the 2016 updated edition of Roy Hession’s classic volume on the crucified life, The Calvary Road. Stimulating questions, Scripture readings, and fill-in-the-blank exercises will help you drive the message of The Calvary Road deep into your heart and life. To order your copy please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/shop/the-calvary-road-study-guide/

About the Author: Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Steve McCary was married to Pamela Meyer McCary for forty-five years before her death in 2015. They have two children and four grandchildren. At age thirty Steve surrendered his life to Christ; and, at age forty, he was called to shepherd a local church. He retired in 2017, after twenty-seven years. Today he provides part-time counseling and is an executive coach with WeAlign, LLC. In October 2016, Steve married Gwen Owens McCary, longtime family acquaintance and mother of three. They enjoy spending time with their family and ministering together in the community. To learn more please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/authors/8230/

The Calvary Road: Do you long for revival and power in your life? Learn how Jesus can fill you with His spirit through brokenness, repentance and confession in this updated version of Hession’s classic, The Calvary Road. In the course of eleven chapters, Hession emphasizes the need for personal revival in life with Christ. https://www.clcpublications.com/shop/calvary-road-2016/

About CLC PublicationsCLC Publications (formerly Christian Literature Crusade) is the English language publishing house for CLC Ministries International. Headquartered in Fort Washington, PA, CLC has published books for the Deeper Christian Life for over 50 years. Our focus has been to publish books by trusted authors with a clear and timeless message.  As a part of CLC International, our books are sold and distributed in countries all over the world including but not limited to the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, India, the West Indies, and the Philippines. We are committed to being a significant part of fulfilling CLC’s international purpose of making evangelical Christian literature available to all nations so that people may come to faith and maturity in our Lord Jesus Christ. To learn more please visit: https://www.clcpublications.com/about/

Q&A with Author Danny Byram: “I may really mess up your paradigm of worship.”

Q&A with First-Time Author, Danny Byram

Q1. Who is Danny Byram?

I grew up in a ministry family and a musical family. My dad was a Southern Baptist Air Force chaplain, and my mom was a voice/piano teacher who directed the choir programs wherever we were stationed. Raised in a military family, I had no hometown. We lived all over the US and in Europe. I followed my parents’ examples by attending a Christian university (Oral Roberts University), where I graduated with a bachelor of music in sacred music. So, church life, preaching, ministry, and music were always inseparable to me. I have spent the past thirty years giving concerts, leading worship, and speaking on US military installations around the world. My wife, Angela, and I have three adult children, one grandson, and another on the way!

Q2. Wallpaper Worship is your first book. What inspired you to write Wallpaper Worship?

I have spent decades giving performances and leading worship services in every setting imaginable. In the 1990s and into the 2000s, I directed and produced some of the largest Christian events of our time: Promise Keepers stadium events and FamilyLife arena events. I was asked to teach on the subject of worship at a church leadership conference in Hawaii. This book captures the essence of the curricula I have been developing and teaching around the world since then. Wallpaper Worship addresses the difference between worship that is participatory and that which is simply passive observance, whether contemporary or traditional.

Q3. Can you tell us the story behind the title of the book?

The title Wallpaper Worship is a play on the phrase “wallpaper music.” Wallpaper music is the music we hear in the background in a restaurant, shopping center, or dentist’s office. It’s great music, but it is designed primarily to create an atmosphere and not to be engaged with or participated in. Over the past few decades, music that is used in worship settings has become more and more like wallpaper music—it is performed to congregants who passively hear it, but are increasingly engaging with it less and less. I call that kind of church experience “wallpaper worship”.

Q4.  In this book, what do you want to share with readers about worship?

This book captures over thirty years of experience, not only as a worship leader and planner of worship experiences, but my own experiences as a worshipper. When we define worship as music only, the conversation is very narrow and short-lived. When we talk about worship in its biblical context, the conversation opens up to the vast breadth of God’s heart, and His historic interaction with mankind throughout the ages.

Q5. What are your favorite books or authors you enjoy reading?

My favorite current authors include Philip Yancey, Brennan Manning, and Eric Metaxas. I appreciate Yancey’s perspectives as a writer/journalist, especially his view through a lens of growing up in the church. His writing style is unafraid. Brennan Manning shakes me to the core of my heart regarding my integrity. I mean, what does an admitted alcoholic priest have to teach us? A lot! I am rereading Manning’s ABBA’S CHILD for the third time. I’m also trying to dig into Eric Metaxas’ biography of Martin Luther. (His book on Bonhoeffer was landmark.) Metaxas has a grasp of historical personalities who have had incredible impacts on the church and human history.

Q6. Can you share with us your most inspiring experiences of worship?

I have had many, so I’ll share two. One was the humble posture of over one million men on the National Mall in Washington, DC on October 4, 1997. Promise Keepers hosted a Sacred Assembly; and, seeing that many men—of all races, denominations, and socioeconomic statuses—coming together for a day of fasting, prayer, singing, and repentance will always live in my mind as one of the greatest worship experiences in my lifetime. Though music played a role, the worship experience had little to do with music. The second was in a training field of combat with a small group of soldiers. The chaplain led a service that lasted fifteen minutes. It consisted of singing, prayer, Scripture reading, a sermon, communion, and a benediction. It was the most profound use of fifteen minutes in my life.

Q7. How would you encourage a person who is struggling to worship?

Many believers share with me their struggle to worship. More often than not, those conversations reveal that they really don’t struggle with the act of worship at all. If you are struggling in worship, perhaps the question to ask is: Is my worship being hampered or blocked? If the church’s methods of worship are blocking congregants from actually worshipping, the methods need to change. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” When the Christian’s worship is quenched because of “wallpaper worship,” struggle is the result and a sickness of heart is the fruit. I advise worshippers who struggle to find another church that will lead them beside still waters so they can actually drink. Jesus said that the Father is seeking worshippers who will worship in spirit and truth. I believe He is also seeking leaders who will lead worshippers the same.

Q8. What do you hope for your readers to gain through Wallpaper Worship?

My hope for this book is that it will awaken worshippers and those who lead them to the idea that they don’t have to endure “wallpaper worship.” When I speak on this subject, I always give a disclaimer: I may really mess up your paradigm of worship. In fact, you may wind up leaving the church you are in and seeking another where you can experience true participatory worship, no matter the style. I would give the same disclaimer to those who choose to read Wallpaper Worship.

Q9. Tell us your favorite worship songs or artists.

My favorite worship songs are those that listeners know well and love dearly, and that cause people to enter into a worship experience that is true, real, and corporately participatory—no matter how new or old the song. Once I heard an artist sing two songs that were so real and powerful that the pastor could not even preach his sermon, but simply gave an invitation to prayer at the altar. The altar was swarmed with worshippers on their knees. I don’t remember the artist’s name . . .

Q10. Any last thoughts to the readers?

There is a growing frustration with the current “performance model” of worship. There should be! The bride of Christ knows when it is simply being used as a weekly audience for platform performers. But take heart: When the bride is frustrated, the Groom pays attention.

 

About Danny Byram Danny Byram is an independent Christian recording artist and worship leader who has performed on five continents. Known by US military chaplains as “The Combat Musician,” Danny has given outreach concerts for the United States military community on over one hundred installations since 1987. He also produced and directed the Promise Keepers stadium events and the FamilyLife marriage arena events. With his breadth of experience in worship, performing arts and leadership, he lectures and conducts workshops on worship in colleges, churches, and military chapels throughout the world. To learn more about Danny, please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/authors/daniel-m-byram/

About Wallpaper Worship In Wallpaper Worship, Daniel Byram makes the comparison between today’s church worship and wallpaper—meant to emphasize the design of its surroundings, but not meant to be engaged with. Through an examination of personal worship experiences, the history of worship, and examples of biblical worship, Byram unpacks this analogy. He shares how to awaken our identities as corporate and individual worshippers, and passionately participate in the God-ordained activity of worship.

Wallpaper Worship is now available! Get your copy here.

 

 

 

 About CLC Publications CLC Publications is the English language publishing house for CLC Ministries International. Headquartered in Fort Washington, PA, CLC has published books for the Deeper Christian Life for over 50 years. Our focus has been to publish books by trusted authors with a clear and timeless message. Some of our better known authors from the past include Watchman NeeCorrie ten BoomAmy CarmichaelAndrew Murray and Roy Hession. As a part of CLC International, our books are sold and distributed in countries all over the world including but not limited to the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, India, the West Indies, and the Philippines. We are committed to being a significant part of fulfilling CLC’s international purpose of making evangelical Christian literature available to all nations so that people may come to faith and maturity in our Lord Jesus Christ. To learn more, please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/about/

Corrie ten Boom’s Encounters After The Hiding Place

Through her book Amazing Love, Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom shares incredible stories of her encounters with people following her release from the concentration camp.

Fort Washington, PA, January 5, 2018: If you’ve read Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place, then you know Corrie’s story. She sacrificed her own safety to hide Jews in her home, was arrested, and endured the horrors of Nazi concentration camps. We saw through the pages of The Hiding Place Corrie’s faith and God’s miraculous work and grace; but what happened after? Amazing Love reveals this to us in short stories of Corrie’s encounters with people from all walks of life—inmates, a former soldier of Hitler, Hollywood stars, and many others. We see the amazing way in which Corrie shared her faith to the lost, which she did because of the love she had for the Lord and His people.

In Amazing Love, we learn that Corrie’s one fear, understandably, was returning to Germany. But what if God called her to do so? As difficult as it was, she learned that to experience God’s guidance in your life you must be obedient to Him. Through her stories, we learn about God’s work in Corrie’s life. She shares how she prayed when she felt inadequate, what she did when God called her to do the one thing she most dreaded, and how she forgave the seemingly impossible. All of this was accomplished only through Christ; and, the same God that performed those miracles in Corrie’s life continues to do so in us today.

In January 2018, a new edition of Corrie ten Boom’s Amazing Love will be released, which features a beautiful watercolor style cover, a modern typeface, and the same impactful testimonies of Corrie ten Boom.

To order your copy of the newly updated Amazing Love, please https://www.clcpublications.com/shop/amazing-love-2/

About Corrie ten Boom: It is hard to overestimate the impact of the life of Corrie ten Boom. As a result of hiding Jews in her Holland home in the midst of World War II, Corrie ended up in a Nazi concentration camp where she continued to speak the love of Christ. A miraculous release gave Corrie the chance to begin an international ministry of writing and speaking, sharing Christ, and counseling the hurting as a self-titled “tramp for the Lord.” Corrie died in 1983, on her ninety-first birthday. Among Corrie’s most loved titles are The Hiding Place and Tramp for the Lord.

About CLC Publications: CLC Publications (formerly Christian Literature Crusade) is the English language publishing house for CLC Ministries International. Headquartered in Fort Washington, PA, CLC has published books for the deeper Christian life for over fifty years. CLC Publications’ focus has been to publish books by trusted authors with a clear and timeless message. As a part of CLC International, CLC Publications’ books are sold and distributed in countries all over the world. CLC Publications is committed to being a significant part of fulfilling CLC’s international purpose of making evangelical Christian literature available to all nations so that people may come to faith and maturity in our Lord Jesus Christ.