Good Friday?! Really?!

good friday

He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed (1 Peter 2:14).

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.  But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him (Isaiah 53:4-6).

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What does Maundy Thursday Mean?


Maundy (from Latin mandatum or possibly mendicare), or Washing of the Feet, is described in John 13:1–17 with Jesus performing this act.  Specifically, in verses 13:14–17, He instructs them:

14 “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

As such, many denominations literally observe the washing of the feet on Maundy Thursday of Holy Week.  The word Maundy is thought to chiefly be derived from the Latin word mandatum for “command” or “mandate.”  The “Maundy” in “Maundy Thursday” refers to the command Jesus gave to the disciples at the Last Supper, that they should love and serve one another.

Tony Reinke writes in his article The Creator on His Knees:

Jesus knelt down to wash the disciples’ feet, a model of love for the disciples. . .

For the sandal-wearing disciples, washing feet was a common cultural practice. It was proper hospitality to offer your guests a basin of water for their feet. But guests were usually expected to wash their own feet. Washing the dirt off someone else’s feet was a task reserved for only the lowest ranking Gentile servants, and Jewish slaves were often exempted from this duty. In a household without slaves, everyone washed his or her own feet.

Yet Jesus willingly dropped to his knees in the position of this extra-lowly slave to wash the disciples’ feet. The disciples were immediately shocked, and it seems, embarrassed by this act of humility. But their surprise should be no surprise to us. “There is no instance in either Jewish or Greco-Roman sources of a superior washing the feet of an inferior.”2 And this was the Creator of the universe on his knees washing the dirt from the callused feet of his followers!

When Simon Peter refused to have his feet washed, Jesus said, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand” (John 13:7). Whatever the meaning of the foot washing, it was not immediately evident to the disciples. The washing provided an example of love towards one another (John 13:12–17), but it also forecasted something. . . .

When we look again at Jesus’ humble act of foot washing, we see why the disciples were unable to immediately grasp the significance of the act. Jesus lowered himself into the position of a lowly slave, he served like a slave, he washed the disciples’ feet like a lowest-of-the-low slave, because ultimately he was preparing to die the dehumanizing death of a slave. In essence this is the connection made in Philippians 2:5–8.

As he washed out dirt from between the disciples’ toes, Jesus performed a parable of the cross. The disciples could not see the the symbolic anticipation, not here, not now. The full explanation for why Jesus washed their feet would only become clear after the substitutionary atonement of the Savior on Good Friday. Then they would look back and understand the act of deep humility in the cross that brought us a once-for-all, head-to-toe, cleansing from our sin.

On Maundy Thursday Jesus dropped to his knees.  He now calls us to go low in foot-washing like service to, and to be crushed for, one another.

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Fifty Shades of Grey or Black and White?


Fifty Shades of Grey, the novel, has become one of the best selling books of all time, surpassing the 100 million mark a year ago in February of 2014.

Now the movie has come.  Kevin DeYoung comments on the proper Christian response:

There is nothing gray about whether a follower of Christ should see 50 Shades of Grey. This is a black and white issue. Don’t go. Don’t watch it. Don’t read it. Don’t rent it. . . . 

And no, I haven’t seen the movie. I haven’t watched the trailer either. I haven’t read a single page from the book. Reading about the premise from Wikipedia and the IMDb for two minutes convinced me I didn’t need to know any more. Sex is a wonderful gift from God, but like all God’s gifts it can be opened in the wrong context and repackaged in ugly wrapping.  Violence against women is not acceptable just because she’s open to the suggestion, and sex is not open to all permutations, even in an adult relationship. Mutual consent does not a moral philosophy make.

Sex is a private matter to be shared in the privacy and sanctity of the marriage bed (Heb. 13:4). Sex, as God designed it, is not meant for actors who pretend (or not) that they are making “love.” The act of conjugal union is what married couples do behind closed doors, not what disciples of Jesus Christ pay money to watch on a screen the size of your house. . .

As I’ve said before, we have to take a hard look at what we put in front of our eyes as men and women seated in the heavenly places (Col. 3:1-2). If 50 Shades is a problem, by what standard do we give ourselves a pass on the rest of the sensuality we freely consume? . . .

Some movies do not deserve sophisticated analysis. They deserve sober repudiation. If the church cannot extend grace to sexual sinners, we’ve lost the heart of the gospel. And if we cannot tell people to stay away from 50 Shades of Grey, we’ve lost our minds.

You can read Kevin’s entire article here:

Dana Gresh adds a True Woman perspective:

I’m not reading Fifty Shades of Grey.

I wasn’t planning to announce this, but I can’t help myself. I told my husband, Bob, that I didn’t really want to get involved. But then, I found out my girlfriend’s seventy-year-old mom has her name on a long waiting list at the library to borrow Fifty Shades of Grey. And then my mom told me that a relative I love and respect for her strong faith had already devoured the book. She regretfully “can’t get the images out of her head.” So, here I am. In an attempt to keep the images out of yours, I’d like to explain to you why I’m not reading Fifty Shades of Grey. . . .

You can read Dana’s entire article here:

Joe Carter’s blog adds even more commentary:

Fifty Shades is also the latest blockbuster series to celebrate the attraction of young women to older, abusive predators. In an earlier era of fantasy stories, the goal of a hero was to protect a woman from evil by slaying the dragon. In many of today’s fantasy stories, the hero is the dragon, whose mission is to seduce a woman by his evil. . . . 

You can read Joe’s entire article here:

Marshall Segal blog “Sin is a Needle, not a Toy” critiques 50 shades:

As John Piper has said, “We are sinful not because we’re victims of darkness, but because we’re lovers of darkness.” One way to oppose God’s saving work in your life is to cultivate a love for darkness. If you find sin entertaining or enjoy that which suggests sin is good and pleasing, you will find yourself — either subtly and secretly or boldly and publically — loving darkness. And a love for darkness cannot and will not live in the light (John 3:20).

You can read Marshall’s entire article here:

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Does Science Argue For or Against God?

The latest Praeger University class installment features Eric Metaxas leveling a flurry of devastating arguments against the notion that science disproves the existence of God.

“The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the sky is declaring the work of His hands.  Day to day they pour forth speech.  Night to night they reveal knowledge” (Ps 19:1-2).

Well worth the 5 plus minute stimulating video view:


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Don’t Drown in The River of Multi-Tasking

Frustrated office work at his desk

Kevan Lee pulls us back onto the solid ground of focusing our attention, in his article How Single Tasking Boosts Your Productivity.

“Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty” (Proverbs 28:19)

Kevan writes:

How many browser tabs do you have open right now?

While writing this post, I had 18 tabs open. I’d like to say they were all for research, although I’m pretty sure one or two slipped down a YouTube wormhole.

Does this sound familiar?

It seems like my multi-tab madness is right in line with the status quo. We all love to have multiple tabs open at once, adding more and more as we find new articles to click and sites to visit. Pretty soon, it’s likely we’ve forgotten what we were online for in the first place.

You might say browser tabs are the new litmus test for multitasking.

The more tabs you have open, the more multitasking work you’re doing, and the less likely you are to be as productive as possible. The same goes for anything else that might distract you from your main objective. Working on multiple items at once is a recipe for inefficiency. Fortunately, there are some fun new ways to experiment with the idea of single-tasking—both in your browser and beyond.


Researchers tested 300 Michigan State students on their ability to persevere through interruptions while taking a computer test. The interruptions came in the form of pop-ups that required the students to enter a code. In one case, the interruption lasted a little more than four seconds. In another, the interruption was 2.8 seconds.

With a 2.8-second interruption, the students made double the errors when they returned to the test. With the 4.4-second interruption, the error rate quadrupled.

Experiments like these confirm the mountain of scientific research that points to multitasking as being bad news for productivity, accuracy, and efficiency. . . .

And yet, despite the evidence that doing more than one thing at a time just doesn’t work, we continue to fall victim to doing more and focusing less.

These stats from Statistic Brain paint a picture of just how difficult it is for us to pay attention anymore.

  • Average attention span: 8 seconds
  • A goldfish’s average attention span: 9 seconds
  • Average number of times per hour an office worker checks their inbox: 30 . . .

Single-tasking is one task at a time, zero distractions.

And yes, it is easier said than done. So here are some fun ideas on how to put a little single-tasking into your workday. . . .

1. Try the Pomodoro Technique. Focus on a single task for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break. The times can be adjusted based on your ideal workflows. The idea is to focus as long as your brain will allow, then to rest up with a bit of a lull before starting again.

2. Silence your phone. Or turn it off. Or forget it at home.

3. Close your email.

4. Make a to-do list.

5. Turn off notifications from phone apps and web apps.

6. Watch this entire 3-minute video.

If nothing more, it’ll be a good exercise on focus and patience.

dare u

You can read Kevan Lee’s entire article here:

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9 Months in 4 Minutes

This animated video from conception to birth takes your breath away.

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.1
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 139:16-19

Mom’s womb: the most dangerous place in the world for a child conceived in America since 1973 — approximately 57 million abortions since Roe v Wade.  It just shouldn’t be!


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Unbroken: Did Angelina Jolie Grant Louis Zamperini His Wish?

zamp jolie

In Louis Zamperini’s updated autobiography of 2003, he expressed a deep desire that his conversion experience be a significant part of any movie made about his life.  The Lord had saved him out a life of post-war recurring nightmares and hateful resentment through a Billy Graham evangelistic crusade in 1949.

On page 272 and 273 of his updated autobiography, Zamperini wrote:

After the (first) publication of my book (autobiography, Devil at My Heels) I got a call from Universal Pictures, telling me that Tony Curtis wanted to play me and had asked them to buy the book.  I was about to sell my house and I needed some cash to purchase a new one in the hills, so I agreed.  Universal drew up a contract, but when I read it I said it wasn’t good enough.

“That’s a standard Hollywood contract,” they said.  “It’s all we can give you.”

I knew they could give me whatever I wanted, and they probably thought I wanted more money.  I didn’t.  “I need money to buy a new house,” I explained, “But that’s not the problem.  Money is not as important as a guarantee not to minimize my conversion or its influence on my life.  I have to have some protection for my faith.”  

I told him that they’d made a picture called Battle Hymn in which Rock Hudson played Colonel Dean Hess.  A World War II flying ace, the real Hess came home and joined the ministry; then they drafted him back into the Korean War and nobody knew he was a minister.  I knew Hess, and he had told me, “If they ever make a movie of your life, get a separate contract to protect your faith.  I have to live with my movie for the rest of my life, and believe me, it’s not pleasant.  Don’t let them do it to you.”

I didn’t want much, just a moment to show Christ as in Isaiah 9:6, as both God and Savior.  The producer wrote a couple drafts of the contract, but Cynthia and I turned them both down until he came up with something we liked.  ThenI made the deal and a script was commissioned.  Tony Curtis went to Europe to make Spartacus, then to South America for another film.  When he got back the script was ready, but I didn’t like it and neither did universal, so they put it on the back burner.

You can hear a 56 minute lecture on The Life of Louis Zamperini based on Devil at My Heels, here:

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The Strange 1914 Christmas Truce of WW1


Exactly 100 years ago today, this Christmas Thursday, there broke out during WW1 a strange peace between German and Allied forces who’d been engaged in bitter trench warfare against each other. Letter written accounts are rampant among rank and file soldiers. In one area, a soldier writes of hearing from across No Man’s Land: “Germans singing Silent Night.” The British began volleying back their English version of the same hymn. This drip of kindness burst into a flood of warm back slapping fellowship in No Man’s Land. A Sainsbury 4 minute video commemorating this event went viral over the web this fall. You may have seen it.

In Saturday’s Wall Street Journal, Robert Sapolsky penned an article entitled “The Spirit of the 1914 Christmas Truce”.  Here’s how it began:

On Christmas morning we stuck up a board with ‘A Merry Christmas’ on it. The enemy had stuck up a similar one. . .  Two of our men then threw their equipment off and jumped on the parapet with their hands above their heads. Two of the Germans done the same and commenced to walk up the river bank, our 2 men going to meet them. They met and shook hands and then we all got out of the trench. . . 

So wrote a British soldier named Frank Richards, referring to the first Christmas of World War I, one hundred years ago this Thursday. Up and down the four hundred-odd miles of trenches on the Western Front, men risked their lives with similar acts, meeting opposing soldiers in “no man’s land.” Wary and unarmed, they made their way out of their trenches, taking steps that, a day earlier, would have guaranteed their death at the hands of sharpshooters and machine gunners a hundred yards away. The relaxation of hostilities spread, and what has come to be called the “Christmas truce” took hold. Soon, soldiers were holding joint burial services for the dead. They began trading goods. British soldiers had been given holiday tins of plum pudding from the king; German soldiers had received pipes with a picture of the crown prince on them; and before long the men were bartering these holiday gee-gaws that celebrated the enemy’s royals. Eventually, soldiers prayed and caroled together, shared dinner, exchanged gifts. Most famously, there were soccer matches at various locations, played with improvised balls. The truce mostly held through Christmas and, in some cases, even to the New Year. It took senior officers’ threats for fighting to resume, and such comprehensive battlefront peacemaking never happened again during the Great War.

Sapolsky then pens thousands of more words psychoanalyzing the soldiers to explain such strange behavior. Suggestions of post traumatic stress, resentment to superiors, and live & let live apathy were offered. But the most obvious explanation is given only by Lindy Reed Shukla as a stray line in the PS comments section:

Lindy Reed Shukla: “Once again, an intellectual fails to realize the most obvious fact, because it is not scientific:  Both sides were predominantly Christian, and they considered themselves brothers under God. That’s what drew them together, during the time of celebration for the birth of Jesus. Simple as that, and as loving.”

Isaiah 9:6: “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will 1rest don His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

Luke 2:14: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

Here’s a sermon preached on this entire theme:

Here’s the link to Sapolsky’s entire article:

Here’s the link to that Sainsbury 4 minute video:

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Christmas Gatherings With Difficult People


Christmas celebrates the coming of Jesus Christ the “Prince of Peace” who brings “peace on earth.”  Really?  Even peace to our extended families where longstanding grudges can be nursed and offenses harbored for decades?  Sadly, Christmas gatherings typically bring many into rooms filled with old relationship hurts and grievances.  How could we ever enjoy peace even in such places?

John Piper tells how the Prince of Peace can bring peace even there:

Peace with Others

The third relationship where God wants us to enjoy his peace is in our relationships with other people. This is the one we have least control over. So we need to say it carefully the way Paul does in Romans 12:18. He says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

For many of you when you get together with family for Christmas, there will be some awkward and painful relationships. Some of the pain is very old. And some of it is new. In some relationships you know what you have to do, no matter how hard it is. And in some of them you are baffled and don’t know what the path of peace calls for.

In both cases the key is trusting the promises of God with heartfelt awareness of how he forgave you through Christ. I think the text that puts this together most powerfully for me again and again is Ephesians 4:31–32, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Continually cultivate a sense of amazement that in spite of all your sins God has forgiven you through Christ. Be amazed that you have peace with God. It’s this sense of amazement, that I, a sinner, have peace with God, that makes the heart tender, kind and forgiving. Extend this to others seventy times seven.

Don’t let your dominant amazement be:  “How could I be so wronged?  They shouldn’t have said what they said, or brought it up again!”

Of course they shouldn’t have. What good is that? A feeling of vindication, of justification, while everything falls apart?!  But Ephesians 4:31-32 doesn’t say that.  

How do you feel tender when you’ve been pounded?  I know only one possible answer — be amazed that you’re forgiven!  Just amazed!  Just amazed!  Self Righteousness is simply the non-amazement at being forgiven.  God’s son was sent and not spared from piercing and beard pulling and pain and shame from his enemies.  Be amazed!  It’s that amazement that enables you not to be embittered 40 years after the grievance.  I know relationships.  I’m walking into relationships where grievances are 40 years old and they won’t let them go. How does that come about?  They’re not amazed!  I’ve sat and talked with Noelle about relationships out there.  They’re not amazed that they’re forgiven!

It may be thrown back in your face. It certainly was thrown back in Jesus’ face on the cross. That hurts and it can make you bitter if you are not careful. Don’t let it. Keep being more amazed that your wrongs are forgiven than that you are wronged. Be amazed that you have peace with God. You have peace with your soul. Your guilt is taken away.

Keep trusting God. He knows what he is doing. Keep his glory, not your success or your effectiveness in peacemaking or your relationships, supreme in the treasure chest of your heart.

And then you will be like the angels: Glory to God in the highest is the first thing. Peace among his people is the second thing.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” This is why he came — on a day, to a city, as the Savior, Messiah, and Sovereign. That God would get glory, and that you would know peace. May the God of peace give you peace, and get his glory.

You can read and watch Piper’s entire sermon here.  This third point starts at about 39:30.

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Christian Origins to Christmas on December 25


Touchstone Magazine published an article by William J. Tighe entitled: “Calculating Christmas — The Story Behind December 25”.  He writes:

Many Christians think that Christians celebrate Christ’s birth on December 25th because the church fathers appropriated the date of a pagan festival. Almost no one minds, except for a few groups on the fringes of American Evangelicalism, who seem to think that this makes Christmas itself a pagan festival. But it is perhaps interesting to know that the choice of December 25th is the result of attempts among the earliest Christians to figure out the date of Jesus’ birth based on calendrical calculations that had nothing to do with pagan festivals.

Rather, the pagan festival of the “Birth of the Unconquered Sun” instituted by the Roman Emperor Aurelian on 25 December 274, was almost certainly an attempt to create a pagan alternative to a date that was already of some significance to Roman Christians. Thus the “pagan origins of Christmas” is a myth without historical substance.

The idea that the date was taken from the pagans goes back to two scholars from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Paul Ernst Jablonski, a German Protestant, wished to show that the celebration of Christ’s birth on December 25th was one of the many “paganizations” of Christianity that the Church of the fourth century embraced, as one of many “degenerations” that transformed pure apostolic Christianity into Catholicism. Dom Jean Hardouin, a Benedictine monk, tried to show that the Catholic Church adopted pagan festivals for Christian purposes without paganizing the gospel.

In the Julian calendar, created in 45 B.C. under Julius Caesar, the winter solstice fell on December 25th, and it therefore seemed obvious to Jablonski and Hardouin that the day must have had a pagan significance before it had a Christian one. But in fact, the date had no religious significance in the Roman pagan festal calendar before Aurelian’s time, nor did the cult of the sun play a prominent role in Rome before him. . . .

As things actually happened, Aurelian, who ruled from 270 until his assassination in 275, was hostile to Christianity and appears to have promoted the establishment of the festival of the “Birth of the Unconquered Sun” as a device to unify the various pagan cults of the Roman Empire around a commemoration of the annual “rebirth” of the sun. . . .

A By-Product

The evidence indicates, in fact, that the attribution of the date of December 25th was a by-product of attempts to determine when to celebrate Christ’s death and resurrection. . . .

Second-century Latin (Western) Christians in Rome and North Africa appear to have desired to establish the historical date on which the Lord Jesus died. By the time of Tertullian they had concluded that he died on Friday, 25 March 29. . . .

Integral Age

At this point, we have to introduce a belief that seems to have been widespread in Judaism at the time of Christ, but which, as it is nowhere taught in the Bible, has completely fallen from the awareness of Christians. The idea is that of the “integral age” of the great Jewish prophets: the idea that the prophets of Israel died on the same dates as their birth or conception.

This notion is a key factor in understanding how some early Christians came to believe that December 25th is the date of Christ’s birth. The early Christians applied this idea to Jesus, so that March 25th (in the Western church) and April 6th (in the Eastern church) were not only the supposed dates of Christ’s death, but of his conception or birth as well. There is some fleeting evidence that at least some first- and second-century Christians thought of March 25th or April 6th as the date of Christ’s birth, but rather quickly the assignment of March 25th as the date of Christ’s conception prevailed.

It is to this day, commemorated almost universally among Christians as the Feast of the Annunciation (still commonly March 25), when the Archangel Gabriel brought the good tidings of a savior to the Virgin Mary, upon whose acquiescence the Eternal Word of God (“Light of Light, True God of True God, begotten of the Father before all ages”) forthwith became incarnate in her womb. What is the length of pregnancy? Nine months. Add nine months to March 25th and you get December 25th; add it to April 6th and you get January 6th. December 25th is Christmas, and January 6th is Epiphany.

Christmas (December 25th) is a feast of Western Christian origin. In Constantinople it appears to have been introduced in 379 or 380. From a sermon of St. John Chrysostom, at the time a renowned ascetic and preacher in his native Antioch, it appears that the feast was first celebrated there on 25 December 386. From these centers it spread throughout the Christian East, being adopted in Alexandria around 432 and in Jerusalem a century or more later. The Armenians, alone among ancient Christian churches, have never adopted it, and to this day celebrate Christ’s birth, manifestation to the magi, and baptism on January 6th.

Western churches, in turn, gradually adopted the January 6th Epiphany feast from the East, Rome doing so sometime between 366 and 394. But in the West, the feast was generally presented as the commemoration of the visit of the magi to the infant Christ, and as such, it was an important feast, but not one of the most important ones—a striking contrast to its position in the East, where it remains the second most important festival of the church year, second only to Pascha (Easter). . . .

A Christian Feast

Thus, December 25th as the date of the Christ’s birth appears to owe nothing whatsoever to pagan influences upon the practice of the Church during or after Constantine’s time. It is wholly unlikely to have been the actual date of Christ’s birth, but it arose entirely from the efforts of early Latin Christians to determine the historical date of Christ’s death.

And the pagan feast which the Emperor Aurelian instituted on that date in the year 274 was not only an effort to use the winter solstice to make a political statement, but also almost certainly an attempt to give a pagan significance to a date already of importance to Roman Christians. The Christians, in turn, could at a later date re-appropriate the pagan “Birth of the Unconquered Sun” to refer, on the occasion of the birth of Christ, to the rising of the “Sun of Salvation” or the “Sun of Justice.”

You can read Tighe’s entire article here:

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