Tag Archives: Gospel

When God Cleans You With Steel Wool

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Last week was rough. The following is a snapshot into my journal last Tuesday.


“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness,
let the bones that You have broken rejoice.”
-Psalm 51:7-8

Sometimes it feels like God is cleaning me with steel wool instead of the cotton washcloths I prefer.

As I write this, my heart aches. I’m crying and hurting. I feel broken by longings and unsaid words and independent realities and the delay of good dreams. 

“I know, O Lord, that Your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. Let Your steadfast love comfort me according to Your promise to Your servant. Let Your mercy come to me, that I may live; for Your law is my delight.” -Psalm 119:75-77

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A Time to Embrace

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The conversation is seared into my brain.

We were at the kitchen table eating breakfast with my dad, studying Scripture, and processing how we are prone to see suffering as an inconvenience rather than what it is, love from God, when one of our best friends said,

“[Suffering] actually produces gold and then you level up (1 Peter 1:6-7), like in a video game, so you almost want to go find land mines joyfully and destroy them so we get more of Christ.”

For a couple of years, my constant prayer has been that I would not resist anything that would make me look more like Christ. But Daniel’s words at breakfast opened up a completely new (and convicting) perspective.

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Not Jesus “the Great”

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Pluralism affirms that every “ism” has its own independent validity and an equal right to our respect. 

It therefore rejects Christian claims to finality and uniqueness, and condemns as sheer arrogance the attempt to convert anybody (let alone everybody) to what it sees as merely our opinions.

How should we respond to the spirit of pluralism? With great humility, I hope, and with no hint of personal superiority. But we must continue to affirm the uniqueness and finality of Jesus Christ. For He is unique in His incarnation (the one and only God-man), unique in His atonement (only He has died for the sins of the world), and unique in His resurrection (only He has conquered death). And since in no other person but Jesus of Nazareth did God first become human (in His birth), then bear our sins (in His death), and then triumph over death (in His resurrection), He is uniquely competent to save sinners. Nobody else possesses His qualifications.

So we may talk about Alexander the Great, Charles the Great and Napoleon the Great, but not Jesus the Great. He is not the Great—He is the only. There is nobody like Him. He has no rival and no successor.

-John Stott, The Radical Disciple 

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Speaking the Gospel in the Face of Unbelief

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“We’re not here to give a sales pitch; we are sent by the Spirit to share how Jesus changes everything.” -Jeff Vanderstelt

Check out our interview with Jeff about his new book Gospel Fluency in the latest RTM Magazine.

Get your free copy on iPhoneiPadAndroid, or on the web.

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Stronger than the Strongest Affection

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Hi, my name is Sophie and I like to pretend emotions don’t exist.

Two weeks ago my days were filled with one challenge after another and by Friday night I could feel myself going into an emotional lockdown, attempting to bury every feeling in a Fort Knox-type armory with hopes that they would never surface again.

Welcome to my default setting. I am a master wall-builder. I’m pretty sure that is due to the fact that I’m scared of feelings. Scared of loving people too much and then enduring their rejection or removal from my life. Scared that God will punish me for liking someone. Scared of letting people down (even though it’s inevitable). Scared of doing things wrong. Scared of being seen. Scared of a “yes” because it seems like I only know how to trust God for a “no.”

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Five Observations from a Cruise Ship

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I never thought I would go on a cruise.

But, in a twist of God’s kind providence, my parents and I just got home from a five-day cruise to the Bahamas and, along with a sweet sun-poisoning rash, I brought back a few observations from our time sailing the Atlantic (as well as a few hundred photos).

Warning: I love palm trees. I may or may not have photographic evidence of pretty much every single one we saw. You’ve been warned.

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Freedom from our Fears – Writing on The Gospel Coalition

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I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my heart about fear on The Gospel Coalition, but what I’m most thankful for is God’s timing.

He knew the moment TGC published this article would be the exact moment I needed to be reminded of the glorious truths of our Fear Fighter. I need this reality more than anything.

It is my prayer that through these words your heart would be energized by the love of the One who casts out every anxiety our mind could strum up.

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How do you make non-cheesy Christian art?

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love Andrew Peterson’s heart and ministry. 

The magazine I write for featured AP in the latest edition but the following snippet had to be (regrettably) trimmed, so here it is for your enjoyment and edification. It’s so good. Praise the Lord for His grace to us through Gospel-centered artists like Andrew Peterson.

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Christmas, Martin Luther, and Tim Keller

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There’s a place in one of Martin Luther’s nativity sermons where he asks something like,

“Do know what a stable smells like? You know what that family would have smelled like after the birth when they went out into the city? And if they were standing next to you, how would you have felt about them and regarded them?”

He is saying, I want you to see Christ in the neighbor you tend to despise—in the political party you despise, in the race you despise, in the class of people you despise.

Christmas is the end of thinking you are better than someone else, because Christmas is telling you that you could never get to heaven on your own. God had to come to you. It is telling you that people who are saved are not those who have arisen through their own ability to be what God wants them to be. Salvation comes to those who are willing to admit how weak they are.

-Tim Keller

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Beholding the Lamb and Interviewing Andrew Peterson

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“No man, when he comes to die, will ever say, ‘I spoke too much of the grace of God.’ Let Satan accuse me of that. I welcome it.” -Andrew Peterson, foreword, Behold the Lamb of God

I’m just so thankful for Andrew Peterson’s life and ministry.

It was February when we set down with Andrew Peterson in Franklin, Tenn., to interview him for the cover story of the current RTM Magazine. My vocabulary is too weak to string together a sentence that would fully convey how much I learned from him that day.

We laughed, we (I) cried, we talked about how much we love the Gospel.

It was my favorite interview.

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