Fruit

Romans 6:20-23

Have you ever picked up an entertainment magazine in the checkout line or watched an interview with someone who is rich and famous? Broken marriages, repeated rehab, estranged children, living without reference to God. No desire for him. No delight in him. Sin and self reign. With all the designer clothes, magnificent homes and extravagant vacations, there is still no lasting joy. It seems that the more of the world a person has, the more miserable he or she seems to be. One famous actor said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”

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Dead to Sin

Romans 6:1-4

Seeing sin in our lives is discouraging, especially when it’s a pattern—it can seem like a broken record that repeats over and over. We berate ourselves, “I can’t believe I did it again!” But Romans 5 tells us of an abundance of overflowing grace. We were born corrupted in Adam, and death reigns over us because we all sin. But while we were still sinners, Jesus Christ died to save us from the wrath of God. Christ’s righteousness is the free gift of grace for all who repent and believe. In Adam we are bound to our sin, headed for death. But in Christ we receive Jesus’ righteousness, “leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:21).

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While We Were Yet Unworthy…

The third article on God’s display of his character at the cross from The Good Portion: Christ.

A disproportionate amount of my time sheltering in place was spent watching videos of people I don’t know hanging out of their apartment windows and clapping. This nightly occurrence all over the world had an emotional grip on me, in part because of our innate desire to honor and celebrate those who are worthy of our praise. Even in our increasingly divided and polarized political world, we find common ground offering a meager gift to those who risk their own well-being in order to serve their fellow man. At a minimum, we should all be able to agree that doctors and nurses treating critically ill patients at risk to their own health deserve nothing less than a hearty round of applause.

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Holiness Displayed

When I was a toddler and my older brother Matt was in first grade, he rode the school bus each morning to school. One particularly memorable spring morning, the bus full of children arrived at its usual stop while my mom was still urging my brother to put down Batman and hurry to the bus stop. By the time my brother reached the bus, its doors had just closed, and the other neighborhood children were already finding their seats. I’m still not sure if the bus driver did not see my brother or just wanted to teach him a lesson about timeliness, but he drove away toward the next stop while my brother was still trying unsuccessfully to pry open the doors. My mom, watching this all unfold from our front door, saw my brother’s superhero self-assurance take over, as he decided he could catch the moving bus – whose wheels were taller than he was.

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The Status Change We All Need

Here’s a little taste of my book, The Good Portion: Christ, from The Gospel Coalition Blog.

As a mother of five young children, it’s not unusual for complete strangers to ask about my family. The question I hear most often at the grocery store or the playground is, “Are they all yours?” The most awkward I hear is, “Do you not believe in birth control?” But the most surprising came one spring afternoon when my children and some of their entrepreneurial friends set up a lemonade stand in front of our house. Someone stopped their car to ask me the name of our school. I took that as a compliment. They could’ve asked, “What is the name of your circus?” 

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Sneak Peak Interview

My family has lived in the Middle East for almost eight years, although we never set out to be cross-cultural church planters. I used to envision at this point in my life I would be a U.S. senator or governor—or at least attempting to be one. I was serving as the chief of staff to a senator when my husband, Josh, and I could no longer resist the urge to put all our energy into local church ministry. 

After seminary, friends of ours told us about an Arab sheikh who gave a plot of land on the Arabian Peninsula for the Christians in his emirate to have an evangelical church building. It was an incredible opportunity for a gospel presence in the Middle East. 

So we moved hemispheres and cultures, planted a church with people from dozens of nations, built a church building, and are now raising our five children in a multicultural context in the Arab world. We still love keeping up with the American political scene, but we do so safely from 7,000 miles away. 

Jenny Manley is the author of The Good Portion: Christ.

Read the rest of Jenny’s interview here.

Look to 20-Year-Old Jesus This Easter

The week that so joyfully defines the reason for Christian hope has been eerily replaced with empty baskets, vacant pews, and untasted communion. Even so, we continue celebrating the events that happened in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago as the only hope sinful men have to be reconciled to a holy God. 

But we do so more quietly this year. Not in large gatherings, sunrise services, and loud choruses of corporate worship. Christians around the world this year will celebrate in our homes, meagerly offering unpretentious and humble praise. Perhaps while we contemplate and celebrate the victory of the resurrection, we should do so with 20-year-old Jesus in mind.

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My Self-Help Bible?

by Ruth Schroeter

The self-help industry is flourishing. Isn’t that ironic? The industry is built on the premise that all you need for happiness, success, and contentment is within you, yet it peddles self-improvement programs as the key to becoming a better you. The endless supply and demand for the latest life changing-book betrays the fact they never actually deliver the transformation we long for.

The question is have we taken on a self-help approach to reading the Bible? The Bible is brimming with words of hope and encouragement, wisdom and guidance. So it’s easy to place ourselves at the centre of our reading, importing our desires and dilemmas and listening intently for ‘God’s word to me today, in my particular situation.’ But the words of scripture are not written primarily to encourage, inspire or direct us in this life. These words are written that we might lift our gaze from our own navels and focus instead on the glory of God in the cross of Christ.

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