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Free Audio: The Life and Times of Martin Luther

dreamstime_xs_46929750At the end of the 15th century, the Church was in shambles, superstition and ignorance was rampant, the clergy were better known for their immorality than their knowledge of the Bible. Several attempts at reform had failed miserably. But just when things looked most bleak, lightning struck. In a few short decades, the landscape of Christianity changed forever. 
 
According to one historian’s estimation, more books and articles have been written about Martin Luther than anybody else besides Jesus. What made this man have such a huge impact on this world and the course of history? In this first podcast episode of my second church history series, I take a detailed look at the tumultuous life and times of Martin Luther and the bleak spiritual backdrop he was born into. Luther was a coarse and crass individual, but he found a fear bigger than the fear of man and it led to tremendous courage and conviction on his part. If you want to sample this church history series, I recommend this episode. Listen and see what explosive power there is in even one man truly understanding the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
To download from podbean click here.
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2015 Christmas Letter

IMG_2299This year we decided that the head of this family should write the Christmas letter. So even though I am only 16 months old, I, Justin, accepted the job. Some of you may be thinking “16 months? What’s he know – maybe 10 words? How interesting is that gonna be?” Well, let me tell you, I may be able to only speak a limited number of words right now, but in writing I have the vocabulary of a brilliant 33 year old. And as far as interesting goes, I’m too young to have inhibitions or know the difference between appropriate and inappropriate, so you should be entertained.

Let me start this letter by telling you about myself. My name is Justin Edwards and I am the youngest of 4 kids. Mommy and Dad just keep getting better and better at this kid-making thing as the quality has improved dramatically with each child (Sorry J-M, I got to be honest). I am a terribly busy man with big plans for this family, so be grateful I am finding time to write this.

I like to read, although most books are too simplistic for me and fail to hold my attention. I play an important job in this home as the chief safety inspector. It’s very time consuming as it involves climbing every possible bench, stool, chair, couch, and ladder and being constantly on the lookout for sharp items, as well as testing choking hazards. This is NOT a safe house. I have fallen countless times and made numerous appeals that go ignored. Sure, they think they’ve got the stools and marbles hidden, but I find them.

It’s also my job to inspect all the bags and containers that come into this house, such as purses and wallets. I’m a little suspicious my parents are doing something illegal because they keep pulling me away. Oh well, that’s what quiet time is for.

Another serious duty I perform is making sure this family doesn’t have more kids anytime soon. I’m not exactly sure how it works, but I keep a close eye on Daddy and Mommy and make sure they don’t have any time alone. This requires a short nap in the evening, but then I’m good till they go sleep. I’d be completely successful if it wasn’t for interfering aunties who take us away and leave Mommy and Daddy unprotected.

I’m not sure why they would want more kids, since I believe I am everything they could want in a child. I’m smart, cuddly, adorable, and for the most part have a sweet disposition. Enough about me (I can’t believe I just wrote that…). Let me tell you about my older siblings. Continue reading…

  • Grandma Wahl

    Justin, do you want to write G’ma & G’pa Wahl’s Christmas letter? We’ll even give you a cookie treat! Ha! We loved the family update and we’re so blessed to watch each little one grow up and discover God’s Word and world. Christmas joy to you all!

  • Rebecca

    Wow. Where do you get such smart kids? Actually, I kind of like mine just the way they are… I don’t think my brain could keep up with such a precocious child!!
    Jesse, my hat is off to you! You did it again. Kept the record of one of my top loved Christmas letters. = )
    Sure love your family…

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Church History pt 3 (1800-Now) Free Session Downloads

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-world-marketing-map-globe-image24418496“Church History Part 3: 1800 to the Present”

With Jesse Jost 

The audio downloads of the sessions from the final instalment of my church history series are now available below.

Please note: m4a files are designed for quicktime or iTunes, but later versions of Windows Media Players should also be able to play them. You will have to download the files to a computer before you can listen to them and add them to itunes before you can play them on your mobile device. Each session is about an hour long and the files are between 80 and 140 mb each so make sure you are on wifi.

Download Sessions: Here:

Download the Syllabus: Church History part 3 syllabus

To hear the first two parts of the series click here.

Friday 7:30 PM – Session 1 “Freedom’s Turmoil” (p. 8)

Historical background to 1800s: Decline of religion, common sense, French Revolution, the Great Awakenings, War of 1812, the birth of Canada, rise of nationalism and political freedom, technological revolutions, the train, the telegraph, industrialization, the telephone.

Saturday 9:30 AM – Session 2 “Imperialism and the explosion of missions.” (p. 10)

Colonialism, William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor.

Saturday 10:45 AM – Session 3 “Revival and Strife” (p. 16)

Revival to revivalism, Charles Finney, abolitionism and the Civil War,

communes, Millerites, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventism.

Saturday 2:00 PM – Session 4 “Holiness and Reform”  (p.24)

DL Moody, Billy Sunday. The Holiness movement and the birth of Penecostalism: Phoebe Palmer, Asuza, Darwinism, higher criticism, and the rise of fundamentalism ( J Gresham Machen, changing eschatologies).The dark side of industrialization and the Christian response: progressives, the social gospel, Tommy Douglas. Capitalism, Socialism, communism, prohibition

Saturday 3:15 PM – Session 5: “The World at War” (p.38)

World War 1, the Great Depression, the rise of fascism and World War 2.

Saturday 4:30 PM – Session 6: “Social Upheaval and the Cold War” (p. 48)

The demise of the family. The pill, the sexual revolution, global tensions. Social change, the influence of movies, radio, the car, and television. The baby boom, the counter-culture revolution, the civil rights movement, the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Sunday 10:30 AM – Session 7: “New Awakenings” (p. 53)

The explosion of the church in Asia and Africa. The church in China. Persecution. The Evangelical Awakening. Truth and transformation. The power of the gospel to overcome the darkest times.

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Church History Lectures – Free Downloads

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-world-map-old-paper-image19606826by Jesse Jost

My first two series of lectures that I gave at “Weekend in the Word” on Church History are now available to download for free. I am planning to do the third and final series on church history this April 3-5, 2015 and it will cover the years of 1800 to the present. The links for part one (30AD -1500 AD) and part two (1500 AD-1800 AD) are available below at the end of each overview. So listen to them all or just the sessions that look interesting to you!

Please note: m4a files are designed for quicktime or iTunes, but later versions of Windows Media Players should also be able to play them. You will have to download the files to a computer before you can listen to them and add them to itunes before you can play them on your mobile device. Each session is about an hour long and the files are between 80 and 140 mb each so make sure you are on wifi.

Overview of Church History Part 1: AD 30-1500

There seems to be an epidemic of historical amnesia in today’s church. To some, it’s as if true Christianity disappeared for 1900 years and suddenly resurfaced with their modern denomination. This ignorance of history is dangerous. An old Russian proverb states, “Dwell on the past and you will lose an eye; forget the past and you will lose both eyes.” For many, history is nothing more than by-gone eras, dusty facts, and long-since-departed souls. However, history is not only a fascinating study of our ancestors – it is also a treasure chest full of wisdom, which Jesus and the apostles repeatedly drew from to teach valuable lessons. Because Christ entered His-story, all history has been infused with purpose. It is the profound story being written by the greatest Author of all time. God sits as Lord of the Universe. He laughs at empires and dynasties, but loves to change the world through the weak and simple. A trip through the colorful centuries of the Church reveals a God who is holy and awesome, His purposes that are beyond comprehension, and His reality that shatters man’s small-minded notions of Him.

When you study history, you will glimpse that plan, buried and concealed by our foolish choices, but there for those with open eyes. History is moving toward a thrilling conclusion in which every enemy of God will be soundly defeated. In the meantime, we would be wise to glean from the past and learn from the mistakes and victories of godly men and women who walked this path before us. Come on this life-changing journey to the first century, and follow the halting progress that the church, with all it warts and wildness, has made through the centuries.

Continue reading…

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Calvinism, Arminianism, and What’s at Stake

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-gavel-book-black-background-closeup-image28250587By Jesse Jost

When we try to wrap our finite minds around the magnitude and complexities of an all-powerful God, we are going to fail. For starters, how can God be in complete control of this world and have perfect knowledge of the future, yet still grant us the power of real choice?

Because our tiny minds are trying to grasp realities way above our pay grade, we will inevitably have a very poor understanding of all the issues. This has created strife and division among Christians who have reduced these awesome mysteries to a self-titled war of “Calvinism versus Arminianism.” There are complex theological systems with these names that do genuinely differ from each other, but few Christians today fully understand them. Calvinism has become shorthand for believing in the sovereignty of God, and Arminianism is often the insult thrown at those who wonder what role our ability to choose plays in our life and salvation.

The problem here is that both sides have biblical truth, and both accuse the other of ignoring an aspect of truth. Both sides also raise troubling issues: Was it fair for God to create people he knew would reject him and let them suffer in hell? If God graciously chooses to awaken some who are spiritually dead, why doesn’t he choose to regenerate everyone?

A younger me set out on an epic quest to forever resolve the sovereignty/free will debate. I was going to find the perfect scriptural balance. I read books on both sides and carefully studied the relevant Bible passages, and all I got was a giant headache. I realized it was absurd for me, a little speck of dust in our swirling galaxy, to be arguing about what God could and couldn’t do.  I gave up.

But since that point, I have realized that, while I will never be able to grasp how these seemingly contradictory truths resolve, I need to be careful that my meditations and efforts to understand do not lead me away from the truth that God has revealed in His Word.

If I am not careful, I can take one aspect of truth, and then twist it into an untruth by use of misinformed logic. For instance, I can focus on the truth that God is in complete control of this world but then twist this into the idea that I am simply a character in God’s novel, and whatever will be will be.  Whatever sin I commit or choice I make is just part of the predetermined plot: I have no real choice so why bother with careful decision making? This can produce apathy about effort, or lead to abandoning my responsibilities. Of course, the complete version of this pseudo-fatalism is unliveable, not to mention that God’s sovereign grace prevents me from fully embracing such error.

However, what I believe does affect my actions and when I lose sight of God’s control, and instead focus on man’s choice, a whole new set of perversions can enter: anxiety, pride, self-reliance, etc.

My purpose is not to resolve the mystery or answer all the questions, but to urge you to not lose sight of the biblical boundaries for exploration of this topic. Continue reading…

  • nicodemus

    I agree with you Jesse that many of the errors and arguments are based upon extrapolations and presupposed ideas of what passages say instead of the true meaning of texts.

  • Jesse Jost

    For those of you who are curious about where I stand in regard to these two views: I think everything that my friend mentioned in his concise Calvinist definition is pretty clearly taught in scripture. Emotionally, I struggle with the flip side that God could save certain people if he wanted to but chooses not to. But since Scripture does not specifically state this reverse of Calvinism (at least as far as I can see) I just choose to be thankful that my own Salvation is graciously and undeservedly being secured by God and trust that God will treat the non-elect in way that accords with his intrinsic love and kindness. When all is revealed I believe that we will have nothing but an overwhelming sense of awe and gratitude and worship Him for doing all things well.

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