Documented Miracle — Man Falls 47 Floors and Survives

Doctor publicly concedes on ABC news: he has no explanation — it’s a miracle.

Watch the ABC news video here:

Miracle Man Falls 47 Floors and Survives

In Defense of Video Games

This is an outstanding post by Stephen Altrogge, who, early in his article, In Defense of Video Games, states:

“…first, some full disclosure: I play video games. I enjoy playing them as a way to unwind. I am a colossal nerd of pocket protector proportions. Sometimes I play with my friends online. And wear a bluetooth ear piece.”

From there he goes on to share his response to disparaging comments made about video games by Mark Driscoll and Russell Moore.

I thoroughly enjoyed this blog post.

And I don’t even play video games!

It’s a great read: In Defense of Video Games.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from God” -Monty Williams, Winner of NBA Draft Lottery

NBA Draft Lottery — New Orleans Wins (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from God”  -Monty Williams, Coach of the New Orleans Hornets, Winner of NBA Draft Lottery

New Orleans was sitting at #3, but their lottery ping pong ball popped up at #1.

They’ll likely take Anthony Davis.

Preparing to minister is not nearly as necessary as daring to minister

5 Smooth Stones (Photo Credit: NHOP Blog)

“Preparing to minister is not nearly as necessary as daring to minister.” –Jon Courson

David didn’t find what he needed to do battle until he ventured out to the battlefield. It was after he was on the battlefield that he found the five smooth stones for his sling. (1 Samuel 17:40) It’s the same for you and I. It’s when you’re actually doing it, that you’ll find what you need to bear fruit for God.

So get out there and do it. Sure, you’ll make mistakes. You’ll bumble around a bit at first. Every single person involved in ministry has, and still does.

That’s OK. God knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:14)

So go ahead, enter the fray.

Find your five smooth stones.

What are you waiting for?

Loves Her New Shoes Too Much to Ruin Them by Wearing Them

Where no oxen are, the crib is clean. Proverbs 14:4 (Photo credit: sportinfokz.yvision.kz)

“Today I bought the most rocking pair of shoes I have possibly ever owned. I may even love them too much to ruin them by wearing.”  -Laura Summers Tweet

I saw this tweet today from Laura Summers (she was joking — I think) and it reminded me of a few cyclists I used to know. These guys bought these beautiful road bicycles, you know, the kind they ride in the Tour de France. And they loved them so much they were always perfectly clean, lubed, and polished. But the thing was, they were so focused on keeping their bikes clean and beautiful, they didn’t risk ruining them by climbing on and riding. And of course that’s what they were designed to do.

I can be like that about my faith sometimes. Jesus is so perfect. When it’s just He and I, in prayer, it’s so perfect. When it’s just me, by myself, singing praise to Him, it’s so perfect (except for my voice). But as soon as I venture out to engage with people, things start to change fast. When I venture out to church, or if I engage in conversation with a brother, or if I try to help out someone in need, problems arise. Things get dirty. Things get messy.

Just as soon as I involve people, elements of carelessness, chaos, and confusion are introduced — even heartbreak sometimes occurs.

If Laura chooses to wear her shoes, they’ll get scuffed up. They’ll get dirt on them. It’s not a question of if, but when.

When my buddies decide (finally) to ride their bikes, they’ll accumulate road grime, guaranteed.

When I engage with people, for Christ, there are going to be problems. But I need to engage anyway. I need to love God enough, and to love people enough, to find a way to deal with the difficulties I’m sure to encounter when I put myself out there among others.

God wants me to. He knows I can’t love people without engaging. And He knows if I bear fruit for Him, it’ll get messy. But He designed our faith this way. (James 2:14-26)

Life will be messy if you choose to engage, if you choose to put yourself out there for Him, if you choose to bear fruit.

But we have to do it anyway.

Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.

Proverbs 14:4

Joseph’s 5 Steps to Avoid Temptation: Genesis 39:6-23

Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife, Simone Contarini, Italian, about 1640 (Photo Credit: AlainTruong.com)

Read Genesis 39:6-23

In our last post on Genesis, we looked at Joseph’s seduction in light of Joseph’s fidelity — to God. (See previous post on Joseph’s Seduction) Today we’ll look at the same story, but we’ll focus on the 5 steps Joseph took to avoid temptation.

(The paraphrase of Genesis 39:6-23 is the same as our last post on Genesis. So if you read the last post on Genesis, you might like to skip down to the next section.)

Genesis 39:6-23

I don’t know what Joseph’s early responsibilities were when he first began at Potiphar’s house, but they may have been intensely physical, because Joseph was ripped (“well built” verse six tells us). He was also a good looking guy. And because of this, Joseph’s master’s wife notices him, and begins to proposition him, without much in the way of subtlety either.

“Come to bed with me!” she says to him.

But Joseph consistently refuses her. He says, Hey look, my master has such trust in me that he doesn’t concern himself with anything in the house; he’s put everything he owns in my care. I’m the top guy here. He’s kept nothing of his from me, except for you, because you’re his wife. So, with all that in mind, how could I possibly do such a terrible thing, and sin against God?

But in spite of his refusals, she persists. Day, after day, after day she continues to proposition him. But Joseph continues to refuse to go to bed with her, or even to be with her.

One day though, he goes into the house to do his work, and the place is empty. None of the other servants are around. Potiphar’s wife is the only one there. She grabs him by his cloak and says (for the one thousandth time), “Come to bed with me!” But he escapes out of his cloak, leaving it in her hand, and runs out of the house.

When she realizes Joseph left his cloak in her hand when he fled, she calls in her servants and says, Look! This Hebrew is making a joke of us! He came in here to have his way with me, but I screamed. When he heard me scream, he left his cloak laying here beside me and ran.

She keeps his cloak next to her until Potiphar comes home, and she tells him her story: That Hebrew slave guy you brought us came into my room to force himself on me. But fortunately, I screamed, and as soon as I did he left his cloak beside me and ran. This is how your slave has treated me!

After Potiphar hears the story he’s outraged. He takes Joseph and has him locked up where the king’s prisoners are kept.

But, while Joseph’s in the king’s prison, the Lord is with him again! God shows him kindness and grants Joseph favor with the warden. Eventually his situation is the same or similar to when he was with Potiphar. The warden puts Joseph in charge of all the prisoners and gives him the job of running the place. And like Potiphar, the warden trusts him completely, he pays no attention to anything Joseph’s responsible for, because the Lord is with Joseph, and gives him success in everything he puts his hand to.

Joseph’s 5 Steps to Avoid Temptation

Joseph, a young man, in the prime of his life and possessing all the desires young men in the prime of their life possess, somehow avoids this temptation from Potiphar’s wife.

How’d he do that?

We see from our story, he took 5 steps.

1) Responsibility — Take It

We see in verse 9, Joseph says the words, “How then could I do such a…”

“How then could I…” Joseph said. He took responsibility for his own behavior. How many might have said, “Well what could I do? I’m just a slave and she’s the boss’s wife. I mean, really, I couldn’t refuse now could I?” Or, “Come on, give me a break, this was a situation where an older woman took advantage of a young man. What would you expect someone my age to do, with hormones raging? How could I help it?”

No, Joseph didn’t go there. He took responsibility for his own actions.

2) Recognize Sin

We see in verse 9, Joseph recognizes what Potiphar’s wife wants as something wicked and terrible. Joseph sees it for what it is: sin. The Bible is God’s word for humanity. He loves us enough to define sin in His scriptures and to warn us away from it. He does so not because he’s against pleasure, but because He knows in the long run, sin is disastrous for you. He’s trying to spare you from heartache and pain you’ll experience in the end, though you may experience pleasure in the short term. Today there’s a huge push in our culture to discount what the Bible says about sin as old fashioned and irrelevant. Right now there’s actually a website author offering 1 million dollars for Tim Tebow’s virginity. This person’s stated goal is to bring our culture to the point where adultery is viewed as inconsequential. (see Washington Post article by Esther Fleece) I know that might seem unlikely right now, but many sins that were previously recognized as bad behavior have already been brought a long way toward a perception they’re trivial, or even a perception those who commit a given sin are victims.

Joseph didn’t discount what Potiphar’s wife asked him to do. He saw it for what it was. So should you and I.

3) Respond to God

We see in the last part of verse 9 how Joseph recognizes, if he gratifies his desires, he will sin against God. Joseph has a depth of relationship with God such that it would grieve Joseph to sin against Him. He can’t bear to sin because he can’t bear to disappoint the God he loves. Yes he’s loyal to his earthly master Potiphar, but in the end, it’s God who Joseph is most concerned about. Living your life loving God, and concerned about God and what He thinks is one of the great keys to living the abundant life God has in mind for you. (John 15:11) “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,’” Jesus said in Matthew 22:37. (See previous post: How to Love Like Jesus — God First)

4) Refuse to be Present

We see in verse 10 he not only refused to go to bed with Potiphar’s wife, but he refused to even be with her. I wonder how many marriages would still be intact if both the husband and the wife decided to simply avoid putting themselves in situations that might lead to temptation. I’m talking about not friending the old high school flame on Facebook. I’m talking about staying out of bars. I’m talking about never allowing yourself to be alone with another person of the opposite sex, ever.

What a small price to pay if it results in you keeping your family intact.

And what a heavy price to pay if you break your family apart.

Today divorce is so acceptable, our culture has endorsed it so strongly, most are so nonchalant about it, you never hear much concerning its consequences. But five years after divorce more than 1/3 of children experience depression. Kids from divorced families are less successful in life than children from intact families, especially in their careers and their relationships. And the great majority of children from divorced families say they want their original family back together.

After a divorce, custody usually goes to the mother. And about half of all single mothers live below the poverty line — on average for six years. For African American single mothers it’s even worse: 2/3 are still single and in poverty 10 years after their divorce. (The AtlanticMcLanahan-Garfinkel)

No one talks about these things. You never see these findings in the news.

Joseph was a slave and didn’t have control of his own life to the degree you do. Yet he did his best to avoid putting himself in situations where he might be tempted. You can do the same.

5) Run

We see in verse 12, when he was unavoidably confronted with temptation, he fled. He left. He split immediately.

When she grabbed his robe, he didn’t stop and use the moment to teach Potiphar’s wife about his faith. He didn’t hesitate and share with her that he’s flattered but must decline, or how it’s nothing personal, or how it might be different, under different circumstances. He didn’t spend one moment on one word of conversation. And he didn’t go back for his coat. He bailed, he beat it, he bounced out of there — right away.

Again, how many marriages might still be intact if this were how people responded to sexual temptation.

Next time you’re confronted with temptation: leave, immediately.

The 6th Step (Two failures, and two outcomes: Why David recovered and Samson did not)

As an important aside, there’s one way in which Joseph was a major anomaly, he was able to avoid temptation without support from believing friends. This is profoundly rare. We can see the more usual pattern for humanity in scripture, when we look at two other men of God who experienced temptation. Both Samson and David fell into temptation but only one of them recovered from its consequences. And here’s the reason why.

More was written about Samson than most other men in the Bible yet not one friend is named in all the pages devoted to Samson’s life. He was a loner. In contrast, David’s list of friends is a long one. And we see that he had certain friends like Jonathan who were especially close. (1 Samuel 18:1-5) And we see David was open to being held accountable, for instance when he subjected himself to correction by his friend Nathan. (2 Samuel 12:1-14)

So here’s the deal: To rid yourself of a temptation, like porn or alcohol or some other selfish pursuit, do whatever you have to do to find friends–men who have overcome the same temptation you’re battling against. Sit down with each of these men one at a time and tell them your story without pretense. If you become open and vulnerable, you’ll be surprised at how many friends you attract.

Going it alone as Samson did will almost certainly produce the same result that Samson experienced. You’ll become a prisoner. You’ll find yourself living life blindly walking in circles.

Instead invest in friends the way David did. Develop close friendships the way David did. And become a man who is wide open to being held accountable–the way David did. Invest in friends the same way David did and you’ll find the same results that David did. He confessed his sin. He repented. And he never fell into sexual temptation again.

Joseph was an anomaly, an outlier. The first five steps are only the beginning steps to avoid temptation. The sixth step, that’s actually the biggest and most important step for us all.

Joseph Imprisoned

Of course Potiphar’s wife had no integrity when it came to her marriage, and we see she had no integrity when she gave her account of what happened either. She lied and told her husband the Hebrew tried to rape her, using Joseph’s coat as a false proof of her deception. Interestingly, Joseph’s coat was also central to his brother’s deception before Jacob concerning his death.

We live in a fallen world. You can do everything according to God’s word and still wind up in a dungeon.

But Potiphar’s response is interesting because the punishment for attempted rape was death. And even though Joseph, a slave, was (wrongly) found to have attempted rape against the wife of a powerful official, Joseph is not put to death but put in prison. Verse 19 says Potiphar was angry but doesn’t say who he was angry with. Perhaps he recognized Joseph’s innocence but was forced to do something because of his wife’s insistence. Perhaps he even gave instruction for the warden to show Joseph favor.

Whether it came through Potiphar or not, God was the reason Joseph found favor in prison.

Even in the dungeon God was with Joseph.

Nothing can separate us from His love.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

References:

Nate Larkin, Samson and the Pirate MonksThomas Nelson, 2007

Blue Letter Bible

Bible Gateway

Matthew Henry

Jon Courson

Love Like Jesus — God First: John 2:14-15

Love Like Jesus God FirstIn the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.

John 2:14-15

How Jesus Loved People:

Let me start with the obvious, you’re not Jesus Christ. That being the case, I don’t recommend you visit your local place of worship and clean house with a whip. But I do believe there’s a most important insight found here concerning how you and I can love like Jesus did. That insight is…

Jesus loved God first.

“Hey, this series is supposed to be about loving people,” you might be saying to yourself.

Well, God is a Person!

And Jesus loves God far more than He loves other people. Here in this passage of scripture we see He loved God with such abandon, He had no regard for what other people thought of Him.

In case you might think Jesus lost His temper here, read closely, and you’ll notice this wasn’t something done on impulse. Making a whip out of cords takes time. He knew what He was going to do ahead of time, and without question, He knew what others would think of His actions.

But He expressed His passion for His God anyway.

We gain additional insight into Jesus’ view of people’s opinions just a few verses further into the same chapter. In verses 23-25 we learn how many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.

Jesus loved God first, and He loved Him with abandon. He gave no value to what others thought of Him with regard to His love for His God.

How to Love Like Jesus–Love God First

It’s hugely important to love God first! To love Him far above and beyond anyone else. This is the idea behind Jesus’ teaching: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26) Obviously Jesus taught over and over we are to love God and love people, and of course that includes the people in your family. What He’s saying in Luke 14, and what we see Jesus demonstrating when he cleanses the temple, is to love God first, far above anyone else. Jesus cares deeply about what God thinks, and what pleases Him. And He puts that above, far above, what other people think.

When I put God first, I’m blessed because I become focused on what’s truly important in life. When God slips out of first place, I quickly become mired down in the temporal. My heart and my soul and my mind are taken up with what’s happening at work, or on ESPN, or what’s on sale at Best Buy, or my next big project, or maintaining my toys, or whatever other temporal business presents itself. And a kind of inertia sets in. The more I move in the direction of the temporal, the further away I drift from God and the eternal. In my experience, when I find myself in this state of being, I’m usually brought back to intimacy with God through some sort of crisis. You can learn from experience, but it doesn’t have to be your own experience. Please, let me encourage you to learn from mine. Draw close to God before the trial comes. You’ll be so glad you did.

And there’s another, even more compelling reason to put God above all others in your life, and it has to do with shame. There have been times in my life when I was skulking around, embarrassed about my love for Christ. I lived in fear of what others might think of me. Man, I’m on dangerous ground when I live like that. Jesus said very plainly, “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.” (Luke 12:8-9)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be disowned by Christ before the angels of God.

So I need to love God the same way Jesus did: far more than anyone else, with abandon, giving no value to what others think of me with regard to my love for God.

That’s how Jesus loved.

That’s how you can love like Jesus.

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’”

-Jesus Christ, Matthew 22:37

 

[Image via: AldoZL Creative Commons]

[You might also like Pastor Offers to Die]

Reckless Words

I was going to show the original video but I just can’t bring myself to give this guy any more attention than he’s already getting. I wouldn’t post on it at all but some in the media have portrayed him as representing how Christians in the U.S. feel about homosexuality.

A few days ago, Pastor Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church posted a video to his church’s website calling for the concentration and ultimate death of “queers and homosexuals.” If you really must see the video, click on the link to Dennis Burk’s blog at the bottom of this post. Burk and other Christian leaders have condemned this man’s behavior.

Honestly, ask yourself, how long have you been a believer? And have you ever heard a pastor or other Christian leader speak this way? I know in my thirty-one years as a Christian and in my exposure to many many pastors, church leaders, and Christian bloggers online, I’ve never heard any Christian leader write or speak in this manner.

Jesus loved the adulterous woman from John chapter 8 and Jesus loves those who live a gay lifestyle.

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

John 8:3-11


References:

DennyBurk.com

The Story of Ian and Larissa

Ian was just a normal college guy in a relationship with Larissa. They dated for 10 months with the intention of getting married. But Ian’s car accident changed everything.

How Larissa handles it blows me away! I’m reminded of how undeserving and unworthy I am, yet in spite of that, Jesus desires me (and you) as His bride.

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”

Revelation 21:9

References:

desiringGod

“Love God and do what you want.”

“Ama Deum et fac quod vis.”

“Love God and do what you want.”  -St. Augustine

Love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

Do this and everything else just flows.

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

-Jesus Christ, Matthew 32:37-40