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Draw Closer to Your Spouse and to God

A Couple's Journey with God

What if you spent 15 minutes a day deepening your relationships with your spouse and with God? How would your marriage change? Find out by following the Faithlife book group A Couple’s Journey with God.

This book group, based on bestselling authors Bill and Pam Farrel’s devotional A Couple’s Journey with God, is designed specifically for busy couples. The Farrels share personal lessons, provide prompts for adding an extra spark to your marriage, and encourage prayer and open communication. The devotional encourages couples to connect their love with biblical wisdom.

 

By following the group, you’ll gain access to exclusive notes, discussion questions, and interviews with the authors. You can also join the conversation by asking your own questions and posting notes. To use all of Faithlife’s digital features, such as Community Notes, purchase the book through Faithlife’s sister company Vyrso. Use coupon code JOURNEY at checkout to save 25%.

Pam Farrel 

About the authors: Pam and Bill Farrel have been married for 33 years, worked in ministry for over 25 years, and written over 38 books. They have devoted their lives to helping couples build stronger bonds with each other and with Christ. They want to connect love and wisdom in order to build happy, unbreakable marriages.

Are you ready to draw closer to your spouse? Download A Couple’s Journey with God on Vyrso, join the Faithlife group, and begin reading with us on April 23.

What Is the New Perspective on Paul?

The New Perspective on Paul is an important shift in how scholars have understood Paul over the past 40 years. This movement reads and interprets Paul primarily through the lens of first-century Judaism’s cultural context. New Perspective scholars have reacted to a reading of Paul through the lens of the Reformation—especially Luther, Calvin, and their followers.

Who are the important figures of the New Perspective?

  • The movement began with E. P. Sanders, who wrote Paul and Palestinian Judaism in the 1970s. This book emphasized the importance of rabbinic writings in understanding Paul. Sanders argued that Paul’s concept of becoming part of the people of God had more to do with covenantal participation, and he argued against the prevailing Lutheran understanding of the atonement.
  • In the early 1980s, James D. G. Dunn developed Sanders’ thesis and coined the term “The New Perspective.”
  • Since then, N. T. Wright has written extensively on Paul. His magnum opus on Paul will be released later this year.

The New Perspective is controversial. The emergence of Sanders, Dunn, and Wright on the scene upended the way Christians have read Paul for generations. For example:

  • The New Perspective deemphasizes a works-righteousness interpretation of the law in Pauline writings.
  • The New Perspective places the covenant in a prominent role in Pauline writings.
  • A classic reading of Paul favors a penal substitutionary theory of atonement, while the New Perspective doesn’t give this theory as much prominence

As you can see, this is a significant reframing of how Paul is read and understood. And whether or not you agree with the New Perspective, it’s undoubtedly important to understand—even if your goal is to understand why you may not agree with it. One of the benefits of having a large and robust digital library is that you have the resources and tools to adequately research both sides of controversial issues.

On the New Perspective in particular, there are books and collections to help you understand every angle:

Jesus the Revolutionary

Revolution

Today’s guest post is written by Michael L. Brown, author of Revolution: Jesus’ Call to Change the World and Revolution in the Church: Challenging the Religious System with a Call for Radical Change.

“We socialists would have nothing to do if you Christians had continued the revolution begun by Jesus.” These words were spoken by a leading socialist in the 1920s, yet more than 90 years later, they remain foreign to many Christian ears. What “revolution” did Jesus begin? And was Jesus in any sense a “revolutionary”?

The answer is that Jesus came into our world to launch God’s revolution—a kingdom revolution, a revolution of the Spirit, a world-changing movement that would overcome evil with good and hatred with love, and Jesus himself was the most radical revolutionary leader who ever lived.

Jesus called for revolutionary commitment

All too often, however, we look at Jesus as the founder of a lovely home and garden religion,” called Christianity, a harmless spiritual leader who left behind some lovely platitudes and inspirational thoughts, a man whose memory we celebrate at the annual Easter egg hunt.

But that is hardly the Jesus of the New Testament. His message was a threat to the religious establishment. He called for dramatic, sweeping—yes, revolutionary—change. He taught his followers to pray radical prayers like, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”—meaning, the displacement of the corrupt kingdoms of this world by the perfect kingdom of God. He called his disciples to revolutionary commitment, urging them to leave everything and follow him, and in his platform message, he promised freedom to the captives (Luke 4:18–21).

That is the language of a revolution, and that is the language we must recover today, as our nation teeter-totters on the verge of moral and social (not to mention economic) collapse. We need a Jesus-based cultural revolution that will recover the fear of God, the respect of honor, the dignity of family, and the beauty of morality.

Join the revolution

That is why I wrote Revolution: Jesus’ Call to Change the World, a life-changing book filled with challenging examples from saints and martyrs of the past.

However, before there can be a revolution in this society, there must first be a revolution in the Church, since the world has been changing the Church of America more than the Church of America has been changing the world. As Dr. Martin Luther King warned decades ago, “If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”

That is why I wrote Revolution in the Church: Challenging the Religious System with a Call for Radical Change—to examine our present methods of leadership and ministry against the biblical grid. For those bold enough to take the challenge, the rewards will outweigh the difficulties.

There is reason for great hope. As expressed by the late Vernon Grounds, former chancellor of Denver Theological Seminary, “A Christian who . . . becomes a revolutionary will serve as a revolutionary catalyst in the Church; and by the multiplication of revolutionized Christians, the Church will become a revolutionary catalyst in society; and if society is sufficiently revolutionized, a revolution of violence will no more be needed than a windmill in a world of atomic energy.”

Download Revolution: Jesus’ Call to Change the World and Revolution in the Church: Challenging the Religious System with a Call for Radical Change today.

Save 10% at the National Worship Leader Conference!

Proclaim church presentation software is a proud sponsor of the National Worship Leader Conference, the premier conference for worship leaders and their teams. The first of three conferences is May 13–15 in Lancaster, PA. With over 60 workshops, NWLC helps any leader from any size church learn and grow. At NWLC, worship is more than music—it’s a way to communicate biblical thought and understanding.

Get your ticket before April 19 and use code PRO10 at checkout—you’ll save 10%!

Visit the Proclaim blog today to learn more about the conference and save your seat.

Not in Pennsylvania? Don’t worry—you’ll have two more opportunities to attend the NWLC and save. Stay tuned!

Another Way to Earn Your DMin Free

Knox Theological Seminary’s $18,000 Leith Anderson Scholarship is back! Enter to earn your DMin free at DMin.me/Leith-Anderson—the scholarship closes May 10.

This spring, Knox is introducing a new DMin track: “The Gospel in Church and Culture,” coordinated by Dr. Jim Belcher. The track draws on Scripture and Christian tradition to help pastors transform individuals, communities, and society.

If you start before June, you can take Dr. Belcher’s “Mission and Tradition: Seeking Balance in Ministry.” The class will look at the emerging and traditional churches, seeking a third way for the twenty-first century—a path between tradition and modernity.

Congratulations to Gary Golike!

Gary Golike

Gary Golike is the winner of our last Leith Anderson Scholarship. He’s a pastor in Nebraska with 33 years’ ministry experience. Gary is coming out of a sabbatical—he writes, “[The scholarship] comes at a perfect time in my life, and will fulfill a long-desired dream to continue my biblical and theological education. . . . [I feel that the] opportunity to study at Knox is an intentional gift from God.”

“As a teenager,” Gary writes, “I began to wander and attempted to live in both worlds, staying close to life in the church, but also getting involved in worldly behavior. . . . After struggling through a philosophy class that emphasized existentialism and also some relationship issues, I was suddenly struck with the foolishness and purposelessness of my attempts to find my way apart from God’s will.”

If Gary’s wanderings sound familiar, it’s because the tension he faced—between church and culture, tradition and modernity—is the same tension dealt with in Knox’s new Gospel in Church and Culture track. That tension is ancient, and it demands nuanced answers.

Save your seat in Knox’s Gospel in Church and Culture track today.

Then enter to win the $18,000 Leith Anderson Scholarship!

Save 75% on D. A. Carson’s Works!

D.A. CarsonD. A. Carson was voted the 2013 Logos March Madness Champion! His prize is your prize—75% off a selection of his works.

We’re offering a similar prize for the runner-up, Martyn Lloyd-Jones—60% off a selection of works.

The deals don’t stop there. We’ve discounted a selection of N. T. Wright’s and Charles Spurgeon’s titles by 50%, and 60 other authors’ works by 30–45%! See all deals now.

Why Logos March Madness is so unique

One of the benefits of buying a whole collection of works is that the cost per individual volume is less than purchasing the volumes separately. But what if you aren’t sure you want the whole collection, or you only want a handful of titles at the sale price?

This is the sale to pick up individual titles or volumes at some of the best possible prices. For instance, you can get Carson’s Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Gospel according to John for only $11.50 instead of $46.

Another approach to consider is gathering all the discounted books from one author. If you were to add all 15 of D. A. Carson’s discounted resources, the regular price would be over $383—the sale price is only $96!

Lastly, if you’re interested in checking out a new author, this is the best time to pick up one or two titles at a discount—that way you can get a feel for their writing before  considering adding more of their works to your library.

This sale comes only once a year

There’s no guarantee that next year’s Logos March Madness will look the same or feature the same authors and products, so be sure to pick up as many resources now as possible.

The Logos March Madness sale ends April 15. Pick up your favorite titles now—see all deals.

Recommend a certain title? Let us know in the comments or the forums.

How the Resurrection Triumphs over “YOLO!”

colossians

It would have been hard to get through 2012 without hearing or seeing the acronym YOLO (You Only Live Once). The term regularly trended on Twitter, showed up in Facebook news feeds, and quickly became part of the pop culture vernacular.

Like a modern Carpe Diem, “YOLO!” is the cry of a generation seeking to squeeze all the possible goodness from life. If the end of your one life is death, why deny yourself happiness now?

It may seem nihilistic, but it makes sense. If this is our only opportunity to taste life’s fruit, then we should indulge. Even Paul affirms this in his discussion with the Corinthians, “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’” (1 Cor. 15:32). It would seem that, in a closed system in which death is life’s final outcome, “YOLO!” is the only rational response.

But the fact that Jesus rose from the dead changes everything. Here are three ways that Christ’s death and resurrection triumph over “YOLO!”:

1. Christ’s resurrection has made a mockery of death

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” (Col. 2:13–15)

Not only are the rulers and authorities—demonic or otherwise—that would hold death over our heads vanquished; they’re humiliated. I love Paul’s imagery here. Jesus didn’t just destroy them, he disarmed them. Imagine an invading horde coming into a city and the king going out and simply taking their weapons from them—how embarrassing.

Christ has removed death’s stinger (1 Cor. 15:51); it no longer has power over us. The grave is not life’s final word.

2. Christ’s resurrection gives us hope

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”—1 Thessalonians 4:13–14

“YOLO” has an intrinsic sadness in it. The reveler who looks at life with a “let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” mentality cannot help but shrink from death’s inevitability, and mourn for those who’ve passed.

But the resurrection gives us hope! Death isn’t a period at the end of our lives; it’s a comma.

3. Christ’s resurrection is a new beginning

In Romans 8, Paul shows us that Christ’s resurrection kicked off a chain reaction leading to the redemption of all things.

The Spirit of he who raised Christ from the dead dwells in those who belong to him (Rom. 8:11) making us children of God and fellow heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:15–17). And all of creation, which has groaned under the weight and futility of sin has waited for the revealing of the children of God in order that it be set free from its bondage and corruption (Rom. 8:20–22). Within the resurrection of Christ lie the seeds for the restoration of all things.

It’s no wonder that Paul’s heart erupts with the admonition to “rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” (Phil. 4:4)

For those who believe death has the final word, to embrace life from a “you only live once” perspective makes perfect sense. But for those whose lives are lived in the light of Christ’s resurrection, nothing in this life is “worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Rom. 8:18)

The promise of Easter is that, because death is not the end, the pleasures of this world have lost their luster. I may only live once, but thanks to Jesus, it will be one long, glorious life spent in God’s presence.

Looking for resources for study or meditation this Easter season? Check out our specials for Holy Week.

The Beautiful Tragedy of Good Friday

Hebrews 10

“Paul’s overriding interest is not in evil men who have done a wicked thing but in a good God who has done a gracious thing.”—Gerard S. Sloyan, The Crucifixion of Jesus: History, Myth, Faith

Like many, I was enthusiastic about Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ when it  premiered in 2004.  My enthusiasm waned considerably about halfway through. I wasn’t turned off because of my weak stomach; I was dismayed at its emphasis. It’s my conviction that it wasn’t the brutality of the Crucifixion that made it significant, but rather the identity of the one crucified. The tragedy is that the creator would allow himself to be humiliated, abused, and ultimately murdered at the hands of his creatures.

The one who would soon lay claim to all authority on heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18) was betrayed with a gesture of familiarity and intimacy (Luke 22:47–53). Those who had sworn their allegiance fled and denied him (Matt. 26:69–75).  The mouth that had summed up the Law and the prophets with the admonition to treat others the way you desire to be treated (Matt. 7:12) was silent as Jesus was beaten and mocked.

A prefect of Rome apathetically dismissed the supreme sovereign of the universe (Matt. 27:24). The world’s only true innocent was scourged and forced to carry the device for his own execution through town. The feet that had walked upon the raging sea, the hands that had only recently healed the sick and raised the dead, were nailed to a rough piece of wood. Christ, who deserved to be elevated, was raised upon a cruel cross. And during history’s most unforgivable act, Jesus exemplified all his teaching in the prayer, “forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Good Friday, the most tragically beautifully date on the Christian calendar, is set aside to remember the passion of our Lord. It’s tragic for what the creator would suffer at the hands of the creature, and it’s beautiful for the work that was done on that dreadful day. As the writer of Hebrews put it, “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” It doesn’t really matter who was ultimately responsible for the Crucifixion. On this day we remember that we were all culpable—and are all beneficiaries.

And because of the humiliation endured that day, the head that wore a crown of thorns is now crowned with glory and honor (Hebrews 2:9), and any crown I receive will be laid at his nail-scarred feet.

Thank you, Jesus.

*   *   *

Looking for resources for study or meditation this Easter season? Check out our specials for Holy Week.

6 Reasons I’m Glad Jesus Left

john 13

Jesus lived. Jesus died. Jesus rose. Jesus left for heaven.

I grew up hearing all about the first three acts of this story and what they mean for Christ, the redeemed, and the lost.

But his ascension is important, too!

And although it didn’t take place until 40 days after the resurrection, verses like John 13:1 make it clear that Jesus’ return to the Father is just as much a part of this story:

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”

Here are six reasons I’m glad Jesus returned to the Father:

  1. We can go home, too. Jesus tells his disciples a little later that he’s going to prepare a place for them in his Father’s house. Because Jesus returned to the Father, I can say with Paul that “to live is Christ, and to die is gain”—when I depart, I will be with Jesus.
  2. Jesus mediates for us to God. It’s phenomenal: Jesus, the God-man, advocates for me before the holy and righteous God. He knows what it’s like to be human (Hebrews 4:14–16), but he’s not just asking God to give me a break. Jesus was broken, and because of his perfect sacrifice, he sustains our right relationship with God (Hebrews 9:15).
  3. Jesus says we should rejoice. Jesus is pretty straightforward about this one: “If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father.” This alone is reason to be glad.
  4. We get the Holy Spirit. Jesus plainly states that he must leave in order to send the Holy Spirit (John 16:7). The Spirit teaches and convicts and comforts us—I’m glad he’s here.
  5. We have the inspired Gospels. Jesus promises his disciples that the Holy Spirit will teach them and remind them of all that he said (John 14:25–26). And that’s good for us, because the disciples were able to give accurate accounts of events they didn’t understand while they were happening (Matthew 15:15–17; 16:9; Mark 6:52; 9:32; John 12:16).
  6. My king is where he belongs. Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, has taken his seat in glory at the Father’s right hand (Hebrews 1:3). He obeyed, and at his name every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that he is Lord (Philippians 2:9–11).

Jesus lived. Jesus died. Jesus rose. Jesus reigns forevermore. Amen.

Looking for resources for study or meditation this Easter season? Check out our specials for Holy Week.

The Trials of This Earth Shall Pass

Isaiah 33

“This too shall pass” a phrase commonly heard by those going through periods of mourning or struggle. When viewed in an earthly sense, it can be difficult to believe, since we know struggles often pass only to bring forth different struggles. This life is never free of suffering. Instead, we move through life and its trials, attempting to make it through by leaning on God, and doing our best to glorify him in the process.

Throughout Isaiah 33, a beautiful reminder is painted. A glorious image of the future, paired with the mournful present—a reminder that though we will struggle tremendously throughout this life, we will someday rejoice in the presence of God’s glory.

Rejoicing through forgiveness

Not only will we live in the most perfect place, in the presence of God; we’ll be completely forgiven of our past (Isaiah 33:24). We will be completely free to rejoice and enjoy life in God’s presence, free of guilt and regret. And this all began on the cross with Jesus.

Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, we are able to look forward to one day living in total happiness. We are able push onward because the mourning and sadness that this world holds for us are only temporary. We know that this won’t last forever, so we are able to push forward each day, looking forward to the day when we meet our father and live in the glorious home he has prepared for us.

Looking forward to heaven

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”—Colossians 3:1–4

If it were not for Jesus coming to die, death would be something to dread—a terrible ending to a difficult life. However, we have been given a gift leading to an even more beautiful beginning. Because of God’s grace and forgiveness, we are able to look onward to the place where the Lord in majesty will be for us (Isaiah 33:21).

Easter is an amazing reminder of the fact that “this too shall pass.” Though we go through dark times, times of mourning, loss, and disappointment, we get to look forward to living forever as though we are blameless and perfect, just as we appear because of what Jesus endured for our sake.

Looking for resources for study or meditation this Easter season? Check out our specials for Holy Week