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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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William

Shai Linne - The Millenium

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    • Shai Linne Talks About His New Children’s Album—and Book

      Our children are sponges, for better and for worse. It’s no secret what they will soak in from the world. The question is, what are they soaking in from us? Hip-hop artist Shai Linne wants to help. His two newest projects—a children’s book and a children’s album—are designed to implant big truths in little hearts. God Made Me AND You: Celebrating God’s Design for Ethnic Diversity is an illustrated story, set in a school, that powerfully communicates God’s creative wisdom and heart for diversity. Jesus Kids is a 12-track album that covers the building blocks of the Christian life. (You might even overhear your kids reciting the books of the Bible.) I asked Shai about his vision for both projects, his conversations about race and diversity with his young son, his favorite song on the record, and more. What burdened you to write a children’s book on this topic? Actually, the publisher, New Growth Press, approached me about it almost two years ago. My book is the second in a series that helps parents talk with children about difficult subjects in a biblical, gentle, wise way. The first book, Justin and Lindsey Holcomb’s God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies, is meant to help children be on their guard against sexual predators. I had already been thinking through issues of ethnic diversity for some time. I considered it a worthy challenge to try to communicate something so fraught with controversy (sadly!) in language a child could understand. In the introductory note to parents and caregivers, you write, “Countercultural, biblical views don’t just happen.” Can you elaborate on what you mean? And how does this claim relate to the issue of diversity? I’m reminded of J. B. Phillips’s take on Romans 12:2, where he paraphrases “Do not be conformed to this world” as “Do not let the world squeeze you into its mold.” Worldly mindsets are constantly pushing and pulling at us. It takes no work to be worldly. If we do nothing we’ll be dragged along by it. When it comes to ethnicity, we have to fight against two tendencies: idolatry and apathy. Idolatry make ethnicity ultimate; apathy seeks to ignore it altogether. But there’s a third way, which I believe is the biblical way: ethnicity, like everything else in creation, exists for God’s glory. It should be celebrated as a gift and a pointer to God’s creative and redemptive genius. This kind of thinking isn’t inherent; it must be taught. You have young children. What have your conversations with them about race and diversity looked like? Thankfully, our kids exist in a multi-ethnic environment, where it’s normal for them to see and interact with people of all flavors at church, at school, and at the dinner table. So that’s really all the younger ones know. But I did have an incident with my oldest son, Sage, who is 6 now. When he was 4, he was the only black boy at a basically all-white classical Christian school. While learning about the ancient Egyptians in class, the pictures they saw had people with dark skin, which prompted one of the children to say, “Sage has brown skin!” while pointing and laughing. This was my son’s first introduction to feeling “other.” At one point, he said to my wife and me: “I don’t want to have brown skin. I want to have white skin.” This isn’t something I was excited to interact with my 4-year-old about! At least, not in those circumstances. So with him, our conversations about race have been about building him up in the truth that he’s made in God’s image and that he’s fearfully and wonderfully made. It’s also meant transferring him to a more ethnically diverse Christian school, which he loves. That experience with Sage was definitely on my mind as I put the book together. What was your goal for the Jesus Kids album? What unique contribution do you hope it makes? My goal for Jesus Kids is to present biblical truth in a catchy, memorable way in order to help lay a foundation of the basics of the Christian faith. My hope is that parents, teachers, and caregivers would use this album to start (or continue) conversations with the children in their lives about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Why did you intersperse catechism questions throughout the album? Does catechesis really work in the 21st century? Our children our being catechized by the culture every day, so yes, it works! Advertisers and children’s television programmers figured this out decades ago. Catechisms are a great way to capitalize on children’s natural capacity for memorization. Our hope is that God would regenerate their little hearts, and connect the dots between the truth they’re memorizing and the Spirit’s saving work in their souls. What was your favorite song on the album to write and produce, and why? You should know by now not to ask an artist that! You know, what’s your favorite kid and all that? But if I had to answer, the song that affects me the most is called “Our Father in Heaven,” which focuses on prayer. There’s a childlike simplicity about it that reminds me of God’s kind disposition toward his children. It makes me thankful for the access that we have to him through Christ. View the full article

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    • Animal sacrifices during the Millenium

      The laws God gave to Israel through Moses included a requirement that they sacrifice animals as an atonement for their sins. These sacrifices didn’t actually take away sins but only served as a picture of what Christ would do when he died for sin. Hebrews 10:11-14 says,   Now that Christ has come these sacrifices are no longer needed.   The last part of Ezekiel, from chapter 40 through the end, describes what life will be like in the Millenium. The land will be divided among the twelve tribes. A new temple will be built. And animals will once again be sacrificed in accordance with the Mosaic law. But if Christ has paid for sins what will be the purpose of these sacrifices?   Before his crucifixion Jesus established a new practice which was to take the place of the sacrifices.   But there was to be a limit on how long this practice would be in effect. The next verse says,   After his return animal sacrifices will apparently be resumed to serve as a reminder of what he did. The purpose of the Old Testament sacrifices was to show what Christ was going to do; the purpose of the Millennial sacrifices will be to remind them of what he has done. The present age, in which the sacrifices aren’t offered at all, separates the two.   There is another possible reason for the resumption of animal sacrifices. The Bible’s descriptions of life in the millenium show that death will be extremely rare. It may be possible for those born during this time to go through their whole lives without any personal contact with death. But the salvation message will be the same, that Christ died for our sins. In this age we don’t have any problem understanding this because we see death all around us and know what happens when someone dies. But those who lack our personal knowledge of death will probably find it harder to understand the message. Perhaps one of the purposes of animal sacrifices will be to show them what death is like so they can understand better what Christ did.    

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