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My Conversation with a Sex Worker (Part 1)

My Conversation with a Sex Worker (Part 1)

You Want Me to Talk with a Sex Worker?

A few months ago, I received an email from Greg Sukert of Anchored North. He wanted to know if I would be willing to have a conversation with a sex worker on their new podcast, Honest Discourse, Why me? was literally my first question back to him. I’m no expert in the sex industry. 

He said their organization spent a good deal of time researching women who:

  • have written on the topic of biblical sexuality, 
  • can convey truth in love, 
  • have friendly, conversational characteristics in their spoken words. 

I was nervous, but I couldn’t say no to an opportunity to hear a sex worker’s perspective as well as to clearly articulate the gospel to her. And so I said yes, not realizing I would be speaking not just with any sex worker, but with the most successful sex worker in the U.S. (In the process, I learned that prostitutes are now called sex workers, and brothels are referred to as ranches.)

You can listen to the podcast here

My Four-Hour Conversation with Alice

My fears eased as I began to talk with Alice. While her views on intimacy are cheap and saddening, I genuinely like her. As you’ll hear in this podcast, she’s articulate and gracious. 

We spent a total of four hours together, because the audio for our first two-hour conversation was lost. Here’s what you’ll hear in our two-part conversation. In Part 1, we introduce ourselves and then respond to these five statements:

  1. Sex is the greatest pleasure in life.
  2. Sex creates a bond that is lasting and profound.
  3. Lonely singles have the right to companionship.
  4. God designed sex for marriage alone. 
  5. Sex work is good work.

Remember as you listen to this podcast that this is not a debate. If you get to the end of this podcast and ask, “Did Alice win or did Paula win,” you’ll be asking the wrong question. The whole point of this podcast was to have an authentic, loving, gospel conversation between two people with polarizing viewpoints. 

That is possible, by the way! And so needed. I pray our conversation emboldens you to get to know–and lovingly share truth–with people who seem scary because their worldview is so different from yours.

Part 2 Of “Sex Worker and Christian Author” Coming Soon

Our conversation really heats up (in a good way) in Part 2. To be sure you don’t miss it, type your email in the box to the right under “Don’t Miss a Post!” I’ll send Part 2 directly to your inbox when Anchored North releases it later this summer. 

I’m really grateful for the opportunity to have talked not just with any sex worker, but specifically with Alice. Would you join me in praying for her? I sent her a note, chocolate bar, Bible, and book (The Love of Loves in the Song of Songs by Philip Ryken) after our conversations, as she told me she would read Jesus’ words. 

Also, to help the podcast get more exposure, would you leave a positive review of the podcast on Apple podcasts? Thanks for your support of this important gospel work! 

If you enjoyed this post, you might want to check out 10 Tips for Interacting with an Athiest

Jesus’ Response to Tragic Headline News

Jesus’ Response to Tragic Headline News

Dear reader, 

A friend told me she can’t bear to look at social media right now, because so many are posting about all the free time they have now. Ha! She was already over-extended as it was. Now, thanks to the current health crisis and school shutdowns she’s “a shell”: schooling her children, caring for her parents, continuing her job, and more. 

When I asked how I could practically help her, she asked if I could text her some Scripture regularly.

I wonder, could you, too, use some refreshment from God’s Word during this crisis? If so, follow along on Instagram and Facebook.  Today, I’ll include some brief thoughts from Luke 13 right here on the blog.

Jesus’ Response to Tragic, Headline News

In Luke 13, some people tell Jesus the tragic news of the day: Pilate has killed some Galileans, mixing their blood with the blood of their animal sacrifices. Rather than responding with something like, “That’s awful!” Jesus asks, Do you think these were worse sinners than other Galileans because they suffered this way? “No,” he answers his own question,” “but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (v. 3).  

Jesus than takes a turn sharing another tragic headline news story with them. A tower in Siloam fell on eighteen people. Everyone died. Again, he asked, were they worse sinners than others because this happened to them? “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (v. 5). 

While you and I may (hopefully!) escape death by the current health crisis, we will all perish, unless we repent of our sin. Let Jesus’ response to tragedy serve as a wakeup call. Luke 13 goes on to share about the only two possible destinies for everyone on this planet:

1) For those who don’t repent, “…there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out” (v. 28). 

2) Those who do repent, though, will experience life beyond death: “And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God” (v. 29). Imagine stretching out and talking and laughing and feasting with Jesus. If you are in Christ, THIS is your future. This is your hope. 

If this is not you, turn from your sin to Jesus, and He will welcome you to His table!

PS: I should explain this picture. Iren enjoys reading the paper with his grandma. While he’s reading the comics section in this photo rather than a tragic news story, may it serve as a reminder that you can still have joy because of the future Jesus has secured for you . . . with Him! 

 

Your Gospel Toolkit to Help Teens

Your Gospel Toolkit to Help Teens

Do you feel inadequate to help teens in your life? Maybe you think you need a crash course in emojis as well as an active Snapchat presence before you can influence them for good.

You Aren’t Adequate to Help Teens

Maybe you’ve never gotten too close to teens because you’ve been afraid you wouldn’t know how to answer their questions or deal with their needs. Or maybe you’ve barraged them with Bible verses, but woken the next morning wondering, Did I really help them? Were my comments even relevant, or did I just heave a heavy burden on their back?

In one sense it’s not a bad place to be, realizing you have nothing to offer unless God works in their lives. Jesus knew what He was talking about when He said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” You and I will always be insufficient this side of heaven.

But today, I hope to point you in the direction you need to head in order to be able to help teens with anything and everything. I’m not saying there’s no room for a varied education—I love to learn!—but if I could advise you, I’d tell you to learn one subject inside and out. I’d encourage you to learn to apply it from every angle to any person’s life situation.

The Gospel Is Adequate to Help Teens

Are you ready? It’s the gospel that your teen needs—yes, for salvation (Rom. 1:16), but also for life. He or she needs you to help them see how Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection has everything to do with their Friday nights and Monday mornings . . . and everything in-between.

How do I know this? Because Scripture says so. Check out Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:1–2:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

Did you catch that? These people received the gospel by faith (in the past), they’re standing firmly in it (in the present), and they’re being saved by it (in the present and in the future).

What is this gospel which is saving them? Paul continues:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (vv. 3–4).

Why It’s So Tough to Apply the Gospel

“But Paula,” you protest, “if everything my teen needs (and everything I need) is found in the gospel, then why is it so tough to make that connection and to apply it to everyday situations?”

I think it’s because we don’t fully grasp the gospel’s significance and outcomes for our own lives. Also, it’s easier to deal on the moral, what-I-can-see-with-my-eyes level. Connecting the dots to how teens need the gospel means we must want more than just outward conformity.

I wonder . . . do we? Do we really want their hearts to be captured by God, or are we just after outward conformity to rules that make us feel comfortable when they’re abided by?

If you want the former (and oh, how I hope you do!), you have to get to the heart behind why they’re doing what they’re doing. The bad news is this will take longer. It’s not as easy as just saying, “Stop it!” or “Fix it!” You have to dig deeper to root motives.

But the good news is when you apply the gospel to heart issues, it has the potential to bring about real, lasting change from the inside out. So how can you begin?

4 Practical Ways to Get Started

Here are four tips for you as you seek to apply the gospel to teens’ lives (or anyone, for that matter).

  • Meditate on gospel truths. Familiarize and re-familiarize yourself with the gospel. Think about it. Pray prayers based on it, read books about it, and memorize verses about it. Talk about it with Christians and non-Christians. Pray that God would restore your wonder in what He has done for you through Christ. Breathe it, live it, talk it, and sleep on it. Don’t get over it.
  • Interact with teens. Approach them in church and show interest in their lives. Go see the play they’re acting in. Invite them to go shopping with you. Or come over to color with you (yes, coloring is fun for big people, too!). Love the teens around you; don’t just try to change them. Get to know them, listen well to them, and enjoy them. (Click here for ten practical ways to push past social anxiety.)
  • Pray. Rather than focusing on the fact that you don’t feel relevant, pray for the teens around you. Ask that:
    • God would help you see them as He sees them.
    • He would fill you with love for them.
    • They will “get” gospel truths and implications.
    • He will do what only He can do and give them full, abundant life in Christ.
  • Apply the gospel to their life situation. If your teen still has a glazed-over look, it’s possible you didn’t explain it clearly, or it’s possible their heart is hardened and their eyes are blinded to the good news. But know that the fault never lies with the gospel itself. It is, and continues to be, as Romans 1:16 says, “the power of God for salvation.”

Let’s Practice!

Click over to TrueWoman.com, and practice applying the gospel to a specific teen’s struggle.

 

Meet the Real Writer in This Family

Meet the Real Writer in This Family

I’m the writer who married the accountant, or so they say. But I’ll let you in on a secret: Trevor is the real writer in this family.

Words are as familiar to him as numbers are. (Numbers and I, on the other hand, just don’t jive. In a recent game of Wits and Wagers, I guessed that the longest highway in the U.S. was 800,000 miles long–or was it 800,000,000 miles long? I have a habit of liberally throwing in zeros as if they’re chocolate chips going into cookie batter–the more the merrier.)

This man, though . . . he can not only crunch numbers, he can whip up poems and hymns lickety-split.

Trevor often texts me a short poem to start our day. Here’s a stanza he wrote recently based on this sermon we’d listened to the night before:

Lord we confess that deep within
Desires blur and mix with sin
Wholly incline our hearts today
To seek your kingdom this we pray

And then there’s this hymn he wrote based on Romans 5 that needs to published and sung, in my humble-but-proud-wifey opinion:

 

In the beginning, God made man,

Adam lived with God in peace.

But through that man came sin and death;

Adam died and so shall we.

 

The seed of death, the stain of guilt,

Deep in Adam’s progeny,

But Second Adam surely brings

Death to sin, how can this be?

 

The Second Adam came to us,

Grace to end sin’s tyranny,

He to conquer death by death,

As You died, Lord, so shall we.

 

United to the risen Lord,

Bound to Him eternally,

The king of old is now dethroned.

As You live, Lord, so shall we.

 

Now Lord we give ourselves to You,

Christ, our Life, who set us free.

To sin we died, for You we live;

Slaves of God now shall we be.

 

There’s more though. He doesn’t just write hymns to express spiritual truth. This month I’ll share three poems he wrote and used to get:

  1. A wife (yup, that’s me)
  2. Chick-fil-A for his wedding reception free-of-charge.
  3. People to stop leaving dog poo in our yard.

Until then,

That Writer Living in His Shadow

The Gospel Is Never Old News

The Gospel Is Never Old News

“Titanic Sinks Four Hours After Hitting Iceberg” . . . “ON THE MOON! And It’s ‘One Giant Leap for Mankind’” . . . “Diana Dead.” All these headlines were breaking news at one time, but now they’re . . . old news.

For many Christians, the gospel isn’t much different. I don’t know about you, but for most of my life, I thought of the gospel as good news for unbelievers but old news for believers.

Boy, was I wrong.

The Gospel Is Still for You, Believer

News flash: The gospel isn’t mainly for your unbeliving neighbors!

But don’t just take my word for it. In Romans 16:25, Paul writes to believers, “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ.”

Did you catch that? It’s the gospel that strengthens us as believers. The simple, familiar story of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection on our behalf.

Here’s another verse, written about believers, that clues us in that the gospel isn’t mainly for our lost neighbors: “The gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth” (Col. 1:5–6).

Is the gospel bearing fruit and increasing in you and me? (Hint: If we’re not regularly rehearsing gospel truths, it probably isn’t.)

I like how Tim Keller puts it: “The gospel is not just the ABCs but the A-to-Z of the Christian life.”

Today I’m writing over on TrueWoman.com. Catch the rest of this post there.

Then, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you tended to think of the gospel as good but old news . . . or as good news for today and tomorrow and the day after?

3 Ways a Star Wars Villain Points to a Greater Story

3 Ways a Star Wars Villain Points to a Greater Story

My husband and I counted down the days. On Friday, December 15, Lucasfilm released the eighth Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi. We were there. Early. My hubby is the kind of fan who already knew the first two words of the upcoming film (“We’re not . . .”).

So naturally, after we married a couple of years ago, Trevor and I had a Star Wars marathon. He introduced me to all I’d missed out on in my deprived life up until that point. Now, I have to say, I’m a fan. In fact, I agreed to let Trevor design Iren’s baby announcement around Star Wars.

Consequently, today I’m sharing three ways Star Wars villain Kylo Ren points to a greater story. Check it out, and be encouraged. If you’re in Christ—no matter how dark your world may look—the dark side will not win.

3 Ways a Star Wars Villain Points to a Greater Story

If you saw the last Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, you’ll remember Han Solo talking about how a young boy who was once a Jedi apprentice turned to the dark side and destroyed Luke Skywalker’s fledgling Jedi academy.

When I saw who that boy became, I was reminded of a few ways the new Star Wars villain, Kylo Ren, parallels our actual enemy, Satan. (Spoiler alert for those who haven’t yet seen The Force Awakens!)

  1. Just as Kylo Ren was once a Jedi apprentice, Satan was once a good angel of light.

We know this because all God created was good, not evil. Genesis 1:31 shows God standing back, assessing His creation:

God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good (emphasis added).

  1. Both Kylo Ren and Satan rebelled against their former masters.

Just as Kylo destroyed Luke’s academy, at some point before Genesis 3:1, Satan rebels against God. Jude 1:6 fills us in on his journey to the “dark side”:

The angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.

  1. Both Kylo and Satan were wounded but given more time to work their evil.

After Kylo was defeated and scarred by Rey, Kylo retreated to his dark master, Snoke. We’ll see his fight continue against “the light” in some shape in The Last Jedi.

Similarly, God cast Satan out of heaven, but he was allowed to continue his work on earth for a time:

The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven saying “Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (Revelation 12:9-12).

Satan was then crushed at the cross, as it had been foretold in Genesis 3:15:

“He [the offspring of the woman, Jesus] shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Hebrews 2:14 tells us:

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself [Jesus] likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil (emphasis added).

Yet the devil still limps around, like the scarred Kylo.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

Why didn’t God put a complete end to Satan long ago? Pastor John Piper explains it well in this excellent sermon:

Jesus Christ will be more highly honored in the end because he defeats Satan through longsuffering, patience, humility, servanthood, suffering, and death, rather than through raw power. And the more highly honored the Son is, the greater the joy of those who love him.

Ways This Star Wars Villain Does Not Point to the Greater Story

This is where the similarities between Kylo and Satan end. Because while Kylo and the other evil members of the First Order continue their terror in that galaxy far, far away, no one will ultimately continue Satan’s work.

Jesus Christ has risen to ensure that the darkness will not overcome the light. He is the stronger one! Soon Satan, sin, and death will be utterly and completely done away with. Revelation 20:10 gives us a glimpse into the future:

And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

This is incredible reason to rejoice! As epic as the Star Wars movies are, they are just that . . . movies. But Satan’s final demise (and sin and death’s) is as sure as a Star Wars nerd cooking up a terrible Rey parentage or Snoke origin theory.

What does this mean for you? The end to all:

Praise God. No matter how dark your world may look, the dark side will not win.

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you (Romans 16:20).

3 Ways a Star Wars Villain Points to a Greater Story was originally published on Patheos.com.

Dear New and Overwhelmed Christian

Dear New and Overwhelmed Christian

It was so good to get your email and hear that you’ve been a Christian for almost a year now:

I’ve loved it, but it is also pretty overwhelming as I am just developing as a Christian and so many things are being thrown my way. Things such as Anglican tradition, special holidays, different perspectives of the Word and Christ, ways to act as a Christian woman, you name it.

I am not sure how long you’ve been a Christian, but I am pretty sure it’s been longer than I have been. Do you have any tips or advice you could pass on, which will help me in my journey with God as a new Christian? Advice regarding getting through the Word of God, praying always, listening to God, applying God to every aspect of my life, etc.?

First, praise God for giving you the gift of faith in Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice for your sins. I’m so excited I have a new “sister” in the family of God.

I’m sorry that the excitement of your new life in Christ has been crowded out by others throwing lots of stuff your way.

Don’t ever get over Christ and what He has done for you.

My main advice is this: Don’t ever get over Christ and what He has done for you. Remember that you contributed nothing to your salvation. You were dead spiritually.

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him [Christ], having forgiven us all our trespasses (Col. 2:13).

Dead people can do nothing! God gave you the gift of faith in His Son. Without this gift, you would not have been able to see how beautiful His offer of salvation is:

By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8).

Guard yourself from believing that God will be more pleased with you if you read Scripture, pray, go to church, etc. Some Christians refer to these activities as “means of grace.” That’s because they’re not acts we do for God; they’re ways God graciously makes us more like Jesus.

So pursue these means of grace as gifts, not as duties. Here are a couple means of grace I’d start with:

1. Get involved in a solid church.

You need community; Christianity is not a solo sport. Here are three websites that can help you find solid churches in your area:

2. Study the Word of God daily.

All Scripture points to Christ, so this is where you go to look for and at Him. Ask an older, godly woman who has walked with God awhile to teach you how to read and study God’s Word. Here are a few posts I’ve written on the subject that will help:

Then take a deep breath. It’s okay that there’s so much you don’t know right now. I’ve been raised on the Bible since I was a little girl, and there’s still so much I don’t know! Above all, set out to know Christ.

As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving (Col. 2:6–7).

One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Robert Murray M’Cheyne: “For every look at self take ten looks at Christ.”

It’s fine to explore some of these other things, but above all, keep the main thing the main thing. Or rather, the main Person the main Person: Christ Jesus, our Savior and Lord. As you do, I can say with Paul:

I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).

Dear New and Overwhelmed Christian was originally published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

Will I Go to Hell If I’m Not a Virgin?

Will I Go to Hell If I’m Not a Virgin?

“Will I go to hell if I’m not a virgin?” a single girl asked me.

I wish I could scoff, “Of course not!” But the truth is, it all depends . . .

Hell: Our Default Destination

Let’s start with this basic understanding: Every person’s default destination is Hell. That’s because without exception:

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).

While our culture ridicules the notion that sex is off-limits to everyone other than a man and a woman united in marriage, God says otherwise.

We all sin in countless ways, but let’s specifically address this girl’s question about choosing to have premarital sex.

Premarital Sex Is a Sin

While our culture ridicules the notion that sex is off-limits to everyone other than a man and a woman united in marriage, God says otherwise.

First Corinthians 6:13–20 explains:

The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her?

For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Choosing to have sex outside of marriage is sin, and all sin results in death—physical death and eternal death in hell (Romans 6:23).

That’s because our God is stunningly more holy than we can imagine:

You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong (Hab. 1:13).

Believe me, I get how hard it is to swallow the fact that all of us deserve hell. To us, hell seems like “a divine overreaction.” But as author Randy Alcorn writes:

If we understood God’s nature and ours, we would be shocked not that some people could go to hell, but that any would be permitted into heaven. Unholy as we are, we are disqualified from saying that infinite holiness doesn’t demand everlasting punishment.

So the million dollar question is this. How can this girl who is no longer a virgin—and how can you and I—exchange our one-way ticket to hell . . . for heaven?

How to Exchange Our One-Way Ticket to Hell . . . for Heaven

We can’t on our own. But Someone has done it for us. Jesus chose to endure hell for you and me so we might have the option of entering the joys of heaven.

He [God] made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).

Jesus chose to endure hell for you and me so we might have the option of entering the joys of heaven.

Because of our sin, you and I deserve hell. But Jesus has made a way for us, instead, to enjoy Him forever in heaven. In response to this girl who asked, “Will I go to heaven if I’m not a virgin?” I have to ask:

Have you accepted Jesus’ unbelievably heroic, extravagant gift?
Have you confessed and turned from your sins?

First John 1:9 promises that:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Hell will be full of those who have sinned sexually (and in other ways). Heaven will also be filled with people who formerly sinned sexually (and in other ways). What’s the difference? It has nothing to do with the sins you’ve committed, but with whether you have embraced the Sin-Slayer, Jesus Christ, your righteous Substitute . . . and turned from your sin as a result.

Have you?

PS: I am indebted to Randy Alcorn for his insights on hell in chapters 3 and 4 of his book Heaven.

Will I Go to Hell If I’m Not a Virgin? was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

3 Ways Darth Vader Points to a Greater Story

3 Ways Darth Vader Points to a Greater Story

In order to prepare for December’s epic release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, my husband and I had a Star Wars marathon. (Yes, I was one of the few remaining humans on this planet who had never watched Star Wars, but that has now been remedied!)

Do you remember the battle scene between Anakin Skywalker (before he officially became Darth Vader) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Darth’s old master)? Anakin is defeated, and then this video shows how he became Darth Vader just after.

As I watched these clips, I realized I was already familiar with a similar plot line—not from a fictional story, but from God’s infallible Word. Vader’s story parallels Satan’s story in at least three ways:

  1. Just as Vader was once a good Jedi Knight, Satan was once a good angel of light.

    We know this because all God created was good, not evil. Genesis 1:31 shows God standing back, taking His creation in:

    God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good (emphasis added).

  2. Both Vader and Satan rebelled against their former masters.

    Just as Vader desired more power, so did Satan. At some point before Genesis 3:1, Satan rebels against God. Jude 1:6 fills us in on his journey to the “dark side”:

    The angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.

  3. Both Vader and Satan were wounded but given more time to work their evil.

    Vader was severely burned in the lava pits, but Palpatine fitted the disfigured Vader with prosthetic legs and an arm as well as a life-supporting suit of armor, and his fight against “the light” continued.

    God cast Satan out of heaven, but he was allowed to continue his work on earth for a time:

    The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, . . . “Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (Rev. 12:9–12).

    Satan was then crushed at the cross, as it had been foretold in Genesis 3:15:

    “He [the offspring of the woman, Jesus] shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

    Hebrews 2:14 tells us:

    Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself [Jesus] likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil (emphasis added).

    Yet the devil still limps around, like the propped-up Darth Vader.

    Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

    Why didn’t God put a complete end to Satan long ago? Pastor John Piper explains it like this in this excellent sermon:

    Jesus Christ will be more highly honored in the end because he defeats Satan through longsuffering, patience, humility, servanthood, suffering, and death, rather than through raw power. And the more highly honored the Son is, the greater the joy of those who love him.

A Very Different Ending

This is where the similarities between Darth Vader and Satan end. Because while someone else rose to take Vader’s place and continue his dark work, no one will continue Satan’s work.

Jesus Christ has risen to ensure that the darkness will not overcome the light. He is the stronger one!

Jesus Christ has risen to ensure that the darkness will not overcome the light. He is the stronger one! Soon, Satan, sin, and death will be utterly and completely done away with. Revelation 20:10 gives us a glimpse into the future:

And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

This, my friend, is incredible reason to rejoice!

As phenomenal as the Star Wars movies are, they are just that . . . movies. But Satan’s final demise (and sin and death’s!) is as sure as an Imperial Admiral getting force-choked by Darth Vader.

Do you know what that means for you?

  • The end to all your fear.
  • The end to all your tears (Rev. 21:3–4).
  • The end to all your sin and guilt and shame.
  • The end to all your pain (Rev. 21:3–4).
  • The end of death (1 Cor. 15:26).

Hallelujah! No matter how dark your world may look, you can know this: The dark side will not win.

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you (Rom. 16:20).

“3 Ways Darth Vader Points to a Greater Story was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.” 

3 Tips for Sharing the Gospel with Muslims

3 Tips for Sharing the Gospel with Muslims

I have a bad habit of collecting good books on my shelves, in my attic . . . all around me, really—without ever reading lots of them. I’m always prepared, though, as you never know when one might come in handy.

The Gospel for Muslims by Thabiti Anyabwile is one of those books. It has always intrigued me (and not looked too thick and daunting!), but it took a move to a new city for me to find the motivation to pull it from its cardboard box and prioritize it above other books.

When I moved into our new home, I was thrilled to learn a Muslim woman lives directly across from us on one side . . . and another Muslim family lives directly across from us on the other side. (This is pretty exciting for a girl who grew up surrounded by cornfields!)

So I started digging into Thabiti’s book in earnest, especially because I’ve been praying for an opportunity to connect with the woman in the hijab across the street and that God’s light would penetrate her darkness.

You may not be surrounded by Muslim neighbors, but maybe you go to school with a Muslim or work with one—or will one day. So I want to share three takeaways I’ve gotten from this book so far that I think will help you, too:

1. It’s okay to feel afraid to share the gospel with Muslims.

Even Thabiti, who had experience doing so, shares of a time he was scared to death heading into another public debate with a Muslim. Here’s the thing: We don’t have to conjure boldness up from deep within us. Boldness comes from being filled with the Spirit of God. “In the book of Acts,” Thabiti shares, “the activity most frequently associated with the Spirit’s filling is speaking with boldness.” Here are just a couple examples:

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness (Acts 4:31).

Don’t keep silent when you are afraid. Pray that the Holy Spirit would fill you and give you the boldness you don’t have in order to be a witness for Him.

2. You have everything you need to share the gospel with Muslims.

You are equipped, even if you don’t feel like you are. The same message that saved you—the gospel—is the message that can profoundly transform your Muslim neighbors and friends. Seriously. Thabiti got me with this zinger on page thirteen: “In my experience, Christians know the gospel. They simply lack confidence in its power.” Ouch.

Share the gospel with Muslims. You don’t have to share it perfectly, without stumbling. You’re not responsible for whether they believe it; it’s simply your job to share with them the good news of Christ’s perfect life, death, and resurrection on their behalf.

3. Don’t try to minimize truths about God that you know your Muslim neighbor or friend won’t like.

For example, Muslims do not believe in the Trinity. The chief confession of Islam is, “There is only one God, and Muhammad is his messenger,” so they have a problem with one God in three persons. But rather than seeking to downplay this truth, Thabiti encourages us to “go there.” Why?

For one reason, we don’t get to create a God we understand. God says His “name” (singular) is “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). Also, Thabiti explains, “We must cling to the Trinity because apart from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, there is no possibility of eternal salvation. . . . The Father chose us (Eph. 1:4–6), the Son offered the only sacrifice without blemish that is able to purify us and satisfy the Father (Eph. 1:7), and the Spirit seals us and produces in us new birth” (Eph. 1:14).

Share who God is without feeling the need to apologize or “cover” for Him. God is not an idea; He is a Person—be true to who He is and what He shares to be true.

I’d love to hear. Do you know any Muslims?

Come back tomorrow to hear a bit more about The Gospel for Muslims and for a chance to win a copy!

3 Tips for Sharing the Gospel with Muslims was originally featured on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.