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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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Nathan Morales

Blessed are the pure in heart

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    • 3D Glasses for the Heart

      “What God has in store for us, what God has already given us in Christ, is mind-boggling in scope and beautiful in its contours, but we do need to be wearing the proper eyewear to see it.” — Jonathan Griffiths Text: Ephesians 1:15–23 Preached: September 30, 2018 Location: The Metropolitan Bible Church, Ottawa, Ontario You can listen to this episode of TGC Word of the Week here. Related: Help Me Teach the Bible: Bryan Chapell on Ephesians Praying with Paul (Group study by D. A. Carson and Brian Tabb) Marveling at the Glories of Christ in the Book of Ephesians (Gloria Fuman) View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

    • The Heart Language in a Globalizing World

      At the 2010 Lausanne Congress on World Evangelism, two Americans, Cindi Walsh and Noël Piper, enjoyed meeting an English-speaking Christian sister from Iraq who sat next to them in the plenary sessions. The three women also worshipped together in English until the chorus of each song, when leaders selected another language. When a chorus began in Arabic, the Iraqi woman jumped up and down and turned to the Americans exclaiming, “This is my language! This is how I worship God.” “She was more exuberant in her worship,” Cindi said. She and Noël gained a greater appreciation for the translation projects of organizations like TGC. They had observed that language is extremely personal. Choosing to speak or write in a particular language is about more than utilitarian communication. The Heart Language Personal, resonant language has traditionally been called the “language of the heart.” The Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) once considered it the most important language for any given person, especially in multilingual contexts. SIL broadly defines a heart language as “the most effective language for communicating deeply as well as for learning new concepts.” Prioritizing the heart language has decreased in popularity due to the rise of globalization and urbanization. In cities around the world, communication is becoming more singular as people learn languages such as English or French in order to participate in global commerce. As a result, societies are increasingly multilingual. Translation organizations like SIL must now pay attention to more than just language communities (“all the people who primarily speak or identify with a certain language”). Instead, a more inclusive approach to Bible translation acknowledges all of the languages within speech communities (“networks of people who share a common repertoire of language varieties and norms for their use”). In other words, in many urban communities around the world, people will use multiple languages for different functions (i.e. trade, education, religious practices, or family life). In a sense, globalization and urbanization are contributing to the simplification of language barriers. If communities are becoming more bilingual, the communication barrier between individuals is on the decline. At the same time, language barriers also become more complicated. If communities share a repertoire of languages, who decides which language to use in any given situation? This dilemma has further implications for heart languages in contexts like worship and education. What does all of this mean for organizations like TGC that participate in translation projects for theological famine relief? Case Study: Swahili A look at the Swahili language of East Africa shows the complexity behind speech communities. In 2011, International Outreach (TGC IO) translated Finally Alive by John Piper into Swahili and distributed five thousand copies intended for pastors and church leaders in this region. In the following years, IO Director Bill Walsh heard through several missionaries that little need remained for Swahili resources because “most people in East Africa speak English.” As a result, no further Swahili projects were planned. In 2013, Walsh attended a pastors’ conference in Nairobi, Kenya, and he happened to share a car ride with Ronald Kogo, an itinerate church planter based in this city. Though they’d never met in person, Kogo had helped translate the Piper book project and had previously emailed IO to request more Swahili resources. Walsh was able to ask Kogo about the state of the Swahili language. Kogo explained that many Kenyan and Tanzanian people are moving to cities. A lot of these transplants speak some English by necessity. Even so, very few can read English. “It’s one thing to speak a language, it’s another to learn enough to confidently read a book in a language,” he said. “At the end of the day, their first language is not English.” Kogo believes East Africa is one or two generations away from a day when everyone in urban areas is literate in English. Yet if that day comes, there may always be people who benefit more through Swahili. Diverse Challenges for a Diverse World Mark Dunker, a Tanzania-based trainer of pastors with ReachGlobal, says English is often more useful for educational purposes. “Although Swahili is the heart language for most Tanzanians, our experience is that many prefer studying in English when possible,” he said. English can be more helpful in explaining complex meanings, according to Dunker. He explained that occasionally Swahili vocabulary struggles to communicate some finer points of biblical truths. An example of this comes from a lesson Dunker taught his marriage and family class on the concept of biblical submission. No one understood the word ‘submission’ because there is no adequate Swahili translation. The closest word they found was ‘obedience,’ which is used in Swahili translations of Scripture; “wives, be obedient to your husbands” (Eph. 5:22). But the true meaning of the original New Testament word requires more nuance. Dunker’s observation highlights the fact that, despite a globalizing world, resources in many languages are necessary—including the heart languages. In the effort to combat theological famine, communicating biblical truth to the nations requires great wisdom as we seek to reach the hearts of people through the gospel. Editor’s Note: With the help of ministry and translation partners, TGC is finalizing a Swahili version of Prosperity? Seeking the True Gospel for distribution in East Africa. This resource will be available in 2019. View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

    • When Adoption Breaks Your Heart

      Early on a Tuesday morning in April 2007, I got on my knees and confessed to God that my walk with him was too comfortable. I asked him to show me a way my husband and I might stretch the limits of our comfort zone, to be better contributors to his kingdom. When I finished praying, I switched on the radio and immediately heard a woman making a plea for homes to host French students visiting America for one week. A fast answer to prayer! I talked to my husband, made the call, and, two weeks later, Celine came into our life. Two months later, we hosted Axl for three weeks, and by the start of school, Su Ying joined our family for an entire year. Our time with these vibrant students was stretching, joyful, and a tremendous blessing. “Ask and it will be given to you” indeed (Matt. 7:7). Opening our home to international students, however, was mere groundwork for the culminating answer to that prayer. Five months after we asked God for a mission, Jacqueline fell into our lives. Answer to Prayer I first saw her in the hallway of the school where I taught. She had a gigantic binder tucked under her arm as she walked to her third-grade classroom with an air of utter confidence and control. I was captivated by her impossibly huge dark eyes, wavy pixie cut, full cheeks, and tiny frame. The next time I saw Jacqueline, she was screaming, being carried hand and foot down the hallway by two disheveled teachers who’d asked her to stay in from recess to finish her homework. Her reaction was unexpected, a response to past trauma. On good days, Jacqueline would receive the privilege of coming into my classroom to read to Dudley, our therapy dog. On bad days, she was relegated to her own classroom, stripped of all privileges. Eventually, we learned that Jacqueline’s hard circumstances necessitated an adoption plan. Her needs and our desire to help coincided in a way that seemed a clear answer to our prayers. Jacqueline came into our home in the summer of 2008 and officially became our daughter one year later. She left our home in hostility in the summer of 2016 and hasn’t returned. Didn’t We Pray? Our experience with Jackie couldn’t have been further from our hopes, leaving us devastated and confused. Though there were times when we were optimistic about our daughter, the aggression, social-service investigations, police visits, hospitalizations, endless counseling sessions, stealing, running away, and chaos that often pervaded our home during the nearly nine years she lived with us ultimately left us with more questions than answers. God, we wondered, did we not ask for success with our daughter? Did we not seek your face at every turn when we were raising her? Did we not desperately pound on the door of your grace with every challenge and crisis we faced? The daughter God blessed us with rejected us at every turn, and ultimately left our home without looking back. We wondered if God’s promises had failed. When my husband and I prayed over and for our daughter, we boldly asked God to save her from the trauma and turbulence of her formative years. We were specific. Lord, please give us the wisdom to help Jackie bridle her temper. Father, please give Jackie good success in school. Abba, please be with us in today’s counseling session, because it’s going to be a rough one. We had a hopeful expectation that God would fulfill the words of Matthew 7, but we felt instead like we had asked and not been given, sought and not found, knocked and encountered only a barrier between us and our daughter. Were we mistaken that Jackie was an answer to my prayer all those years ago? J. I. Packer, in his marvelous book Knowing God, addresses our tendency to “feel sure that God has enabled us to understand all his ways with us . . . and to be able to see at once the reason for anything that may happen to us in the future.” He writes: And then something very painful and quite inexplicable comes along, and our cheerful illusion of being in God’s secret counsels is shattered. Our pride is wounded; we feel that God has slighted us; and unless at this point we repent and humble ourselves very thoroughly for our former presumption, our whole subsequent spiritual life may be blighted. We thought we knew what God was doing. The painful results of our failed adoption, however, reminded us that God is God, and we are not. Unexpected Answers In the two years since our daughter left, God has graciously shown us that the thing we asked him to grant—success with Jackie—wasn’t ultimate. The ultimate answer to our prayers was God himself. In his kindness and love, he gave himself freely and abundantly. When counseling sessions loomed and police lights flashed outside the front door, we knew our weakness and his faithfulness in a way we’d never known it before. Over time, he has enabled us to see that our consummate desire, our highest request, the objective of our seeking, the only door to eternal life, is delight in the Father through his Son and the fellowship we enjoy with his Spirit. Elsewhere in Knowing God, Packer writes: “[God’s] ultimate objective is to bring [people] to a state in which they please him entirely and praise him adequately, a state in which he is all in all to them, and he and they rejoice continually in the knowledge of each other’s love.” It is good and right to ask God to provide needs and wants. But ultimately, our prayers must be for his glory and his will. All other prayers—for provision and healing and safety and peace—must remain subordinate to the desire for God himself. Whatever our circumstances, the Spirit enables us to better know God, rejoice in his plans, love what he loves, and delight in fellowship with him. Understanding that our ultimate good is knowing and enjoying God keeps us from debilitating disappointment and doubt when his provision isn’t provided in the way we expect. We love our daughter. And we trust that God is working for good in her life and in ours, no matter what the end of our story may be. We continue to pray and hope that Jackie, like the prodigal, will return and receive the love and benefit of belonging to our family. But though currently the answer to that prayer remains a “no,” we’re grateful for the sweet comfort we have come to know from our gracious and loving Savior. View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

    • Should Christians Follow Their Heart?

      Follow your heart. It’s the message of every Christmas Hallmark movie. Stop listening to your head when your heart knows what’s best. Be true to yourself. Go with your gut. Rosaria Butterfield, Melissa Kruger, and Trillia Newbell sat down to talk about this message that pervades our culture. They look at what the Bible has to say about our hearts, indwelling sin, and the heart of Christ. But they also talk about how to pursue guidance in making decisions and acting on desires that aren’t sinful. You can watch or listen to this episode of The Gospel Coalition podcast. Related: Sisters, Jesus Is Not Your Cheerleader (Melissa Kruger) Love Your Neighbor Enough to Speak Truth (Rosaria Butterfield) Don’t Trust the Peace in Your Heart (Matt Rogers) View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

    • President George W. Bush Gives a Heart Warming Eulogy in Honor of His Late Father President George H.W. Bush

      Former United States president George W. Bush took the stage to deliver a touching eulogy in honor of his late father, George H.W. Bush. View the full article

      in Christian Current Events


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