Ardent Cries

Posts Tagged ‘Love of God’

Evangelism,Recommendation,Websites

January 20, 2010

Haiti and Man’s Most Important Need

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For updated information from the front lines of Gospel-driven relief efforts, please visit http://gbcpapillion.org/haiti/. Also, please consider making a donation to this cause via this link.

(REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)


(By David Giarrizzo)

As I watch the video footage streaming in from disaster-stricken Haiti and read about the terrible plight of its people, my heart breaks for them. As I write these words, morbid thoughts of dead and dying people flood my mind: men and women, infants and aged trapped beneath piles of rubble, striving to breathe, unable to move, completely helpless; many dead, many dying, and we pray still for many to be saved. I am reminded of the words of Job in Job 30:24-25

Yet does not one in a heap of ruins stretch out his hand,
and in his disaster cry for help?
Did not I weep for him whose day was hard?
Was not my soul grieved for the needy?”


A Planet in Peril

A simple web search of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, using Google Maps shows a world of devastation: cracks in the earth, buildings broken and crumbled, shipment containers in the bay—all visible signs of a powerful quake beneath an unstable island. As a society we have come up with terms for these kinds of events: “natural disasters” or “Mother Nature’s fury” or even, “the effects of Global Warming.” But as believers, we have a different understanding of events like the earthquake in Haiti.

We have all heard the news media call Earth, “a planet in peril.” Sadly, this is a true statement; however not in a geological sense, but a spiritual one. Earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis: these are the effects of the Fall. Disasters are not natural because death is not natural. Death came with the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3. We know from Romans 5:12 that death came as a consequence of sin. Therefore, the death of men—in any quantity, small or large—should remind us as sons of Adam and daughters of Eve that we are all sinners in need of salvation, dead men in need of eternal life (Romans 3:23). The Bible clearly teaches that natural men who are dead in their trespasses and sin are under the holy condemnation of the Almighty God and are merely vessels of His wrath (Romans 1:18; 2:5, 8, 9; 9:22). Thus, this world is indeed a planet in peril!

Enter the Gospel of Christ.

What an analogy we are presented with, aren’t we?—Helpless people trapped in dire situations while rescuers seek to help them out of their present conditions with God all the while directing the rescuers’ efforts. This sounds like Gospel missions!

There is only one hope for dead sinners; it is Jesus Christ. Just as Lazarus would have never walked out of his tomb but for the divine power of God calling him out (John 11), so sinful man will never know life eternal without the power of God effectually drawing him out of his sinful condition, giving him a new heart, and breathing new life into him. Because Christ is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25), spiritually dead men have hope.


Our Part

As believers, we have a responsibility to take the Good News to all people (Mark 16:15). If Christ is the answer to the most basic problem of man (sin), then those of us who have been bought by Christ’s blood have an obligation tell others about our Savior. This is the best thing any of us can do when earthquakes and hurricanes come. Let us point people to the cross of Christ for their salvation.

We pray for the people in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere in Haiti, for God to comfort the mourning and call sinners to repentance. We pray for the Lord to send teams of rescuers to find and save those who still survive. We pray for their safety as they travel to Haiti to sift through the rubble, as they seek the living, heal the hurting, and bury the dead. We pray that the Lord will give them strength and stamina and great success in their mission. And most importantly, we pray for the Gospel to go forth in Haiti and throughout the rest of the world through Haiti’s calamity. May we as disciples of the one-and-only Messiah be faithful to preach the truth with hearts full of loving concern for sinners destined for Hell.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
(Romans 10:17)

While the unbelieving world observes a disaster such as this and asks “What?” and “How?” and “Why?”, let us boldly acknowledge the sovereignty of God in the midst of a saddened and confused society (Amos 3:6). Let us acknowledge all of the attributes of God as we seek to provide answers for the wondering, searching masses of people looking for answers to the world’s problems. As Christians we have the answers through Jesus Christ and the written Word (2 Timothy 3:16). May we humbly and diligently share the love of God and the mercy of Christ and the comfort of the Holy Spirit to the lost and dying world.


For related thoughts on the earthquake in Haiti, see these recent posts.


Follow this link to donate to a Gospel-driven relief effort based in the Dominican Republic, Haiti’s neighbor.


If you have serious questions about God and His role in the earthquake in Haiti, please take a moment to read this helpful article by Rev. Albert Mohler.


Additionally, let us join together as the universal Body of Christ and seek the Lord in prayer on behalf of the people of this hurting country. May many come to know Christ through this catastrophe.


Evangelism

October 14, 2009

Do You Love Sinners?

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(By David Giarrizzo)

“Do you love sinners? Do you love the wicked? Do you have a broken-hearted compassion for 20th century postmodern man who thinks you’re an idiot for believing what you believe and living how you live?

Do you love the ungodly? Do you love the disinterested? The arrogant?

Do you love thieves? Drunkards? Prostitutes? Do you love homosexuals? Do you love swindlers? Liars?

Do you love prisoners? Do you love children? Do you love the aged? Do you love idolaters?

People of other nations, other colors, other languages? People who eat different food than you eat, dress different than you dress? Do you love people with those dots on their forehead, or maybe ashes?

Do you love people?”


With these convicting words, Pastor Bob Selph opened his message at our church one November morning four years ago. Ever since then, these words have stuck with me, and God has used them time and time again to convict my heart and to burden me with a heartfelt desire to see sinners saved by grace.

Sharing Christ on the U of A campus, TucsonI think of this message in light of a recent opportunity that some brothers had to minister God’s love to lost men. Last Friday, a group of about 10 men from our church drove down to the University of Arizona campus in Tucson to share the gospel with the college students there. Over 1000 tracts with God’s Word printed on them were handed out that day on the U of A campus. Later that evening, that group of evangelists ventured to a part of downtown Tucson where a gay-pride parade was to take place. So they set up their table with Bibles, tracts, and bottled water along the main walkway. On another street corner, a few of the men took turns sharing portions of God’s Word through the means of a small microphone and amplifier. While I think that each of the men knew that this would be a difficult mission field that night, I wonder if any of them realized how bad it would get.

To help you understand a little more of what these Christian men were faced with that evening, here is a short clip that vividly illustrates the kind of antagonism that will meet anyone who seeks to faithfully preach God’s Word in this sort of worldly setting. Please be warned, though: this video is not tame, nor is it safe for all audiences. But it is a slice of reality, and a clear picture of man’s rebellion toward God and his attempt to suppress the Truth (this is evident throughout the video!).

After watching a video like that, or actually being in such a setting, the words, “Do you love sinners?” can seem to take on a whole new realism. But this is the calling that each of us has received: to show a Christ-like love to prostitutes and homosexuals and liars and murderers. It’s not always easy. But think about the love of Christ.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free


Think about the love that Christ showed to the woman at the well (John 4:1-29); or to Zacchaeus the tax collector (Luke 19:1-10); or to the thief on the cross (Luke 23:29-43); or to Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:1-22); or to you, or to me. Think about that amazing, incomprehensible love, and dwell on it. Then seek to show that same love to sinners.

“For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23)

“…But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:8-11)

Please continue to pray that the gospel of Christ’s love is persistently and faithfully preached so that the hearts of men might be softened and changed, by the grace of God, through a saving faith in the only Savior, Christ Jesus.

Books,Christians and Culture

August 5, 2009

Christians and Culture: Living in a World of Vanities

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(by David Giarrizzo)

VanityFair

Then I saw in my dream, that when they were got out of the wilderness, they presently saw a town before them, and the name of that town is Vanity; and at the town there is a fair kept, called Vanity Fair. It is kept all the year long. It beareth the name of Vanity Fair, because the town where it is kept is lighter than vanity, and also because all that is there sold, or that cometh thither, is vanity; as is the saying of the wise, “All that cometh is vanity.”

This fair is no new-erected business but a thing of ancient standing.


So writes John Bunyan in his classic allegorical work, The Pilgrim’s Progress, as he described this world with all of its vanities. This section on Vanity Fair accurately depicts the spiritual tension between living in the world without becoming a part of it that every true believer should experience. Additionally, what makes this illustration especially poignant is the fact that Bunyan simply echoes the truths of Scripture.

The wise King Solomon’s commentary on life in the book of Ecclesiastes is timeless in its application for the popular culture of any generation:

  • Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 1:2)  
  • …The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. (Ecclesiastes 1:8b )
  • What has been is what will be, and what has been one is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
  • I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind. (Ecclesiastes 1:14)
  • I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. (Ecclesiastes 2:1)
  • I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” (Ecclesiastes 2:2)


In this celebrity-obsessed, YouTube-crazed generation, it is important for us to remember these wise words of God, that there is nothing new under the sun, that the senses can never be satisfied, and that all is certainly vanity. Considering our natural, sinful tendency to please man over God, the glittery allure of popular culture can easily entangle an undiscerning believer and take his eyes away from Christ, the greatest treasure. But the flashing lights, electrifying graphics, and lively sounds of popular culture should never diminish the glory of Christ in our hearts and lives.

 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21) Here Jesus reminds us that the things of this world are temporary, fruitless, and disposable –even when they are popular and in vogue.

The basis of what is popular today was popular at one point in the past and will indeed be popular again someday. But in the end, all of what is popular today will be forgotten and lost. The Word of God, however, while not popular by any of the world’s standards, will never lose its power. May we always be men and women who are more concerned with the eternal things of God than with the distracting things of this world.

Allow me to close with another excerpt from Pilgrim’s Progress. As Bunyan’s characters Christian and Faithful head towards Vanity Fair, the character Evangelist gives a strong and applicable admonishment to them and to us:

Let the kingdom be always before you, and believe steadfastly concerning the things that are invisible. Let nothing that is on this side the other world get within you. And, above all, look well to your own hearts and to the lusts thereof; for they are “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Set your faces like a flint; you have all power in heaven and earth on your side.

Uncategorized

July 17, 2009

The Law of Love and the Immeasurable Love of Christ

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Scroll(By: John Miller)


As Christians in the Reformed tradition, we are those who love the law of God.  We agree with the Apostle Paul that “the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” (Romans 7:12) One of the reasons we love the law is because it teaches us how to love.  Our love is not to be merely some amorphous feeling, but directed, active, and expressive of the law of God.  From this we see that law and love are not opposed to one another.  Instead, “love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:10)  This is why the law can be expressed as the two great commandments to love:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.  (Matthew 22:37-40)



But there is another reason we love the law:  it teaches us how we fail to love, so that we might look outside of ourselves to the only source of love, the God who is love.  It is as the law shows me how I fail to speak kindly, how I steal from my employer, how I harbor bitterness in my heart that I realize I am a lover of self, lover of money, and lover of pleasure rather than a lover of God.  (2 Timothy 3:2-4).   I come to realize I do not and cannot love God or man in my own strength or power.  And here the law acts as a schoolmaster to drive me to Jesus Christ, the only one who can transform lovers of self into lovers of God.


But how does Jesus Christ make us into lovers of God?  By giving us His Spirit that we may grasp by faith the immeasurable greatness of the love of God in Jesus Christ.  Especially that we may grasp the love of God displayed in the atoning death of Christ on the cross.  For it is in the cross that God reveals to us a love that is unlike any other, that is otherworldly, that is truly heavenly.


Consider just one dimension of the immeasurable love of God in the cross of Christ.  It is at the cross that we see most clearly God’s eternal love for the unlovely.  Indeed, at the cross God loves those who are His enemies, those who hate Him and rebel against Him. How hard it is for us to continually love those who love us, much more those who hate us!  “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)  Here is immeasurable love indeed!


May God give us the grace to immerse ourselves in the multi-dimensional and immeasurable love of God in Christ.  And may the prayer of Paul be answered daily in your life, “that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)