"Why would Jesus let us die? Doesn't He love us?"

Yesterday, I preached at the funeral of a very dear friend. Over the last 10 years, Cindy had become “family” to me, my wife, and our four daughters. For six of those years, she battled cancer valiantly and selflessly. On Sunday afternoon, Cindy finally won: the cancer is dead, and Cindy is in the presence of the Lord whom she loved, proclaimed, and served. She death_to_break.jpgenjoyed gazing on Christ from afar, but now she is doing so face-to-face. Victory!

To be honest, however, my heart aches. I feel almost schizophrenic—I have sincere joy for Cindy, but I also have a deep sorrow over the temporary loss of one so dear to me and to those I love. Sure, I’m not sorrowing “as those who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13), but I am sorrowing nonetheless.

As I spent extended time with Cindy’s family over the last few weeks, I had several opportunities to explain why God would allow such suffering to enter and end the life of one who loved Him so. The question faced me again last night as my five-year-old, with tears streaming down her face, told me, “I miss Miss Cindy.” She wept and surprised me with two very penetrating questions: “Why would Jesus let us die? Doesn’t He love us?”

How would you answer that?

I explained to her that Jesus absolutely loves us. “How much does He love us, Dear?”

“So much that He died for our sins,” she answered.

I explained that because Cindy knew Jesus as her Savior, the moment her body died, her soul—the real Cindy—was with Him. “She’s seeing Jesus face-to-face. She’s not struggling to breathe. She’s not in pain. She’s happy with Jesus.” Esther appeared to be satisfied with that answer.
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Book Review—Interpreting the New Testament Text

Interpreting the New Testament Text: Introduction to the Art and Science of Exegesis edited by Darrell L. Bock & Buist M. Fanning. First edition. (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2006). 480 pages. $29.99/hardback.

intNT.jpgPurchase: Crossway, CBD, Westminster Bookstore, Amazon

Special features: [bibliography after each chapter in Part One. Exegetical Methods and Procedures, Scripture Index, and a General Index including both subjects and authors, etc.]

ISBNs: 9781581344080 / 1581344082

LCCN: BS2331 .I58

DCN: 225.601

Subject(s): Hermeneutics, NT Interpretation
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Tips for Survival in the Service of the Savior, Part 2

See Part 1.

9. Enjoy friends.

Out of all the “leadership traditions” of the past, the most stupid one said that a pastor shouldn’t have any friends in ministry. I’m trying not to use the word stupid. My dear wife, Toni, reminds me that using such words in public sets a bad example in front of the children. I always remind her that the examples are good for the children so they won’t grow up 682159_grand_canyon_scenic_3.jpgbeing stupid! The word stupid in this case is by far the most sanctified term I can come up with to explain the ludicrous nature of the “no friends” approach to ministry. I can already hear the ghosts of that generation say, “Well, some people will think that you favor some people over others.” My response is, “Of course, I favor some over others. I’m not Jesus. I’m Joel!” By God’s grace, I will shepherd all of the sheep, but I don’t read anywhere in Scripture that leaders can’t have special friends outside or even inside the assembly. Not even Jesus stayed within that tradition.
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BJU Press Release Regarding Soulforce Visit Today

Greenville, S.C.—The Soulforce Equality Riders, a gay and lesbian activist group, has informed Bob Jones University that it intends to visit BJU’s campus April 4 as part of an 18-stop tour of Christian colleges and universities that maintain a Bible-based position on homosexuality. Bob Jones University has informed Soulforce that the Equality Riders will not be granted access to the BJU campus or to the student body.

The group is seeking opportunities to challenge institutional policies relating to sexual behavior with the goal of convincing schools to change their policies and how they execute them.

Last spring the Equality Ride visited 19 schools and military academies, including Liberty University, Regent University, Oral Roberts University, Brigham Young University, Wheaton College, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the U.S. Military Academy. Reception at these schools was mixed. Some schools denied the Equality Riders campus access. In some instances, the riders disregarded a particular school’s position by attempting to enter campus and were arrested. Other schools welcomed the riders and established official forums for debate and discussion.
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Tips for Survival in the Service of the Savior, Part 1

About every other year, I attempt a full or partial decent into the Grand Canyon. “The Hike” is amazing. While many would immediately recognize the physical challenge of such a trek (the round trip is an approximate 18-mile quest), they might miss the fact that the experience can be spiritually invigorating. My dad, Dr. Jerry Tetreau, has been leading groups for nearly two decades. One of the things Dad does each year is to send out a list of items needed. One of the most important745889_grand_canyon.jpg components of this guide is the necessary preconditioning required to survive the day without ending the trip en route to the South Rim ER.

I’ve often thought that it might be helpful to send out a similar “heads up” survival guide, especially for those leaders serving in new ministries or retooling existing ones. (I’m convinced that these two groups make up an overwhelming majority of ministry “out there.”) I suppose in a sense the list isn’t necessary because, in fact, such wisdom already exists in authoritative terms within Holy Writ. However, if I were to write a systematic theology of ministry survival, what might I put into such a list? Consider the following:
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Showered with Stones or Grace?

As the crowd watched, she was dragged into the center court of the temple. The scribes and Pharisees had the stones in their hands, and they were prepared to kill her. They told Jesus her crime. “She was caught in the act of adultery.” Then they tried to trap Him into an answer by saying that Moses had commanded them to stone an adulterer and by asking Jesus stones.jpgwhat He would do. Jesus, “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), gave a beautiful and wise statement. “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7, NASB). No one fit that criteria, so they dropped their stones and walked away. I’m afraid that too often we are the stone throwers instead of the grace givers. Our brothers and sisters in Christ fall, and we leave them lying in the ditch of their sin instead of lifting them up and helping to set their feet on the right path again.

The Bible has much to say about sin and its devastating consequences. We know verses like “the way of transgressors is hard” (Prov. 13:15) and “be sure your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23). We see examples of people like Achan, whose sin affected the whole nation of Israel. So I don’t ever want to minimize the serious results of sin.
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