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It’s less than a month until the official release of my Bible study called Holy Vocabulary. And, as I guess any author does, I’m asking the Lord for it to have a great, great impact in the world. So it got me thinking about books that have radically influenced my life. And that’s the subject of today’s question. Not your favorite book. Not the most entertaining book. But influential:

“What book has been the most influential in your life over the last 10 years?”

**The goal of “One Question Friday” is simple: To show that everyone has something funny, engaging, creative, and worthwhile to say. So comment away! Be real. Be creative. Think hard. And check back to see how others answered the question.

I’m convinced that for many Christians, their idea of redemption lines up more with ancient Greek philosophers than with what the Bible says. The ancient Greeks taught that it meant being rescued from the physical and the material, especially from our bodies. But God’s idea is the rescue of the material, not rescue from the material. He’s going to transform this present world into the world to come, so that voices in heaven shout, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ” (Rev. 11:15). Likewise in the Lord’s Prayer we see that God’s ultimate goal is for earth to become like heaven—“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). His mission is to bring the culture of heaven to earth.

When it comes to this world’s future, God will follow the same pattern he engineered in Noah’s day, when he washed earth’s surface clean of everything perverse and wicked but did not obliterate the planet. God isn’t going to annihilate the world; instead, he’s going to renew, redeem, and resurrect it through Christ.

That’s why Christianity ultimately is not about isolated individuals “going to heaven,” contrary to what many believe. That’s not the Bible’s primary storyline. God is up to some- thing much bigger and much more tangible than that. He uses Christians to bring heaven into this world, transforming this broken world and making things right. God cares about the cre- ated order. Environmentalists make the mistake of turning the environment into a god, while Christians often make the mistake of thinking God doesn’t care about the environment. Both per- spectives miss the mark.

In Jesus, God is at work regaining, restoring, and extend- ing all that Adam ruined and forfeited by his disobedience. Christianity is about Christ making everything sad come untrue, straightening out everything that’s crooked, and correcting every injustice. As the second Adam achieves for us no less than what the first Adam enjoyed, and much more. He came to succeed where the first Adam failed. We won’t simply go back to the perfect garden; we’ll enjoy a whole new incorruptible world.

- Tullian Tchividjian, Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels, 131, 132

(HT: Z)

Great post that adds insight to the cross from Desiring God:

Twice Jesus was offered wine while on the cross. He refused the first, but took the second. Why so?

The first time came in verse 23, “they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.” William Lane explains,

According to an old tradition, respected women of Jerusalem provided a narcotic drink to those condemned to death in order to decrease their sensitivity to the excruciating pain . . . . When Jesus arrived at Golgotha he was offered . . . wine mixed with myrrh, but he refused it, choosing to endure with full consciousness the sufferings appointed for him (The Gospel of Mark, p. 564)

This first wine represented an offer to ease the pain, to opt for a small shortcut—albeit, not a major one in view of the terrible pain of the cross, but a little one nonetheless. But this offer Jesus refused, and in doing so, chose “to endure with full consciousness the sufferings appointed for him.”

The second time came in verse 35. After some bystanders thought he was calling for Elijah, “someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.'” Lane comments,

A sour wine vinegar is mentioned in the OT as a refreshing drink (Numbers 6:13; Ruth 2:14), and in Greek and Roman literature as well it is a common beverage appreciated by laborers and soldiers because it relieved thirst more effectively than water and was inexpensive . . . . There are no examples of its use as a hostile gesture. The thought, then, is not of a corrosive vinegar offered as a cruel jest, but of a sour wine of the people. While the words “let us see if Elijah will come” express a doubtful expectation, the offer of the sip of wine was intended to keep Jesus conscious for as long as possible” (Ibid., 573—574).

So the first wine (mixed with myrrh) was designed to dull Jesus’ pain, to keep him from having to endure the cross with full consciousness. This wine he refused.

And the second (sour) wine was given to keep him “conscious for as long as possible,” and thus have the effect of prolonging his pain. This is the wine Jesus drank.

Other condemned criminals would have taken the first (to ease their torment) and passed on the second (so as not to prolong their horrific pain). But Jesus would take no shortcuts on the way to our redemption.

At the cross, he drank the wine of his Father’s wrath down to its very dregs, and he did so for us—that we might enjoy the wine of his Father’s love, join him at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and live redeemed forever in the glorious presence of the one who took no shortcuts in saving us.

We are now a month away from the release of my Bible study from Threads called Holy Vocabulary: Rescuing the Language of Faith, though you can pre-order it now so it will be shipped hot off the presses to you. So says the back cover:

“Understanding to the rescue!

Whether we recognize it or not, Christianity has developed its own subculture over time. This subculture has its own music, customs, and buildings, not to mention a vocabulary of holy words we, as members of the subculture, use to talk about Christianity. Saved. Grace. Repent. These words are synonymous with the Christian experience. But do we really know what they mean, or have we used them so much they’ve lost their meaning?”

I’m really excited about the study, so today here are 5 ways you might have use for this study:

1. As a reference tool. Keeping it on your shelf will be give you a quick and easy reference guide to refresh yourself on the meanings of the words you’re going to encounter day in and day out in church.

2. As part of an introduction of new believers into your church. Someone in your church or life begins to walk with Jesus. Holy Vocabulary is a great way to help them immediately begin to learn about the nature of that walk. It’s a resource you can keep a supply of around the church to hand to every person after they’re baptized.

3. As an evangelistic tool. This isn’t a “back-door” Jesus kind of thing; it’s a straight-forward and unapologetic primer of basic Christian beliefs. It reads just like a regular book, so why not hand it to someone who is curious about what Christians believe?

4. To lay a doctrinal basis for your entire church. Why not buy a copy for everyone in your church? Then do a six week series on the basics of Christianity to during the late summer or fall? If you want to do this, the leader kit includes sermon outlines for you to use, then each member can read more about what you introduce in your sermons on Sunday.

5. To kill mosquitoes. If you get it and don’t like it, there’s still hope for you. It’s durable cover will serve as an effective bug-killing device for those fall evenings on the porch.

Holy Vocabulary drops on July 1. Pre-order your copy of the book and the leader material now. Please.

Dear Andi:

First of all, let me apologize for being late on your birthday letter. Do you remember you had a birthday? Your party was supposed to be about 3 weeks ago; but right about the time it was supposed to start there was an inch of water in our basement, and it was rising.

But that’s the thing about you, little girl – you didn’t care. You had just one of your friends show up to your party and that was by accident. You didn’t cry; you didn’t complain; you found the good in your 3-year-old way and had an awesome time making Strawberry Shortcake cutouts.

This is the way it’s been for much of your life, sweetie. You were born when your older brother had a bald head because of his chemotherapy. Your first year of life was spent being shuttled back and forth to the hospital, a passive observer to his treatments. And during all that time, just like with the flood, your beautiful disposition and heart-stopping smiles have served to remind us time and time again: everything’s going to be okay.

Andi, you are learning so many things right now. You’re learning to use your manners. You’re learning your letters. And you’re learning new verses from the Bible every week.

I’m so proud right now that you are learning right now the right kind of voice and attitude to have with me and Mommy and other people. You are learning how to share with others and to treat them with respect, too. And you are learning, in small ways, how to direct your passion for things that matter.

This, Andi, is what I pray often for you about. That since you are such a high-spirited and exciting little girl, that over time God would redeem your strength for His glory. That you would learn there is no better place to direct your passion than in pursuit of Jesus, and you will find in Him a great, great joy the likes of which you haven’t yet known.

I’m thankful every single day for the privilege of being your daddy. Thank you for being you.

Daddy

P.S. I know you’re joking, but please don’t start calling me “Dad” quite yet. You’re breaking my heart, little girl.

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