Spurgeon Brings Us to the Cross

I was listening to an audio performance of a Charles Spurgeon’s sermon on Hebrews 9:22 (“Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”) and was blown away at his ability to put his audience in the story. Here’s how he takes us to the cross:

First, let me show you the blood-shedding, before I begin to dwell upon the text. Is there not a special blood-shedding meant? Yes, there was a shedding of most precious blood to which I must refer you. I shall not now tell you of massacres and murders, nor of rivers of blood of goats and rams.

There was a blood-shedding, once, which did outrival all other shedding of blood by far. It was a man—a God—that shed His blood at that memorable season! Come and see it.

Here is a dark and gloomy garden. The ground is crisp with the cold frost of midnight. Between those gloomy olive trees I see a man, I hear Him groan out His life in prayer! Listen, angels! Listen, men, and wonder! It is the Savior groaning out His soul! Come and see Him. Behold His brow! O heavens! Drops of blood are streaming down His face and from His body.

Every pore is open and it sweats; but not the sweat of men that toil for bread. It is the sweat of one that toils for heaven—He “sweats great drops of blood”! That is the blood-shedding, without which there is no remission!

Follow that man further. They have dragged Him with sacrilegious hands from the place of His prayer and His agony and they have taken Him to the hall of Pilate. They seat Him in a chair and mock Him. A robe of purple is put on His shoulders in mockery. And mark His brow—they have put about it a crown of thorns and the crimson drops of gore are rushing down His cheeks! Angels! The drops of blood are running down His cheeks!

But turn aside that purple robe for a moment. His back is bleeding. Tell me demons did this! They lift up the whips, still dripping clots of gore. They scourge and tear His flesh and make a river of blood to run down His shoulders! That is the shedding of blood without which there is no remission!

Not yet have I done—they hurry Him through the streets. They fling Him on the ground. They nail His hands and feet to the transverse wood! They hoist it in the air. They dash it into its socket. It is fixed, and there He hangs—the Christ of God! Blood from His head; blood from His hands; blood from His feet! In agony unknown He bleeds away His life!

In terrible throes He exhausts His soul. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani.” And then look! They pierce His side and forthwith runs out blood and water!

This is the shedding of blood, sinners and saints. This is the awful shedding of blood, the terrible pouring out of blood without which for you and for the whole human race, there is no remission!

Read the full sermon or listen to the audio performance.

What Happens When a French Restaurant Hires a Team of Former Prisoners?

A teenaged Brandon Chrostowski stood before a judge. He was facing a 10-year sentence on a drug-related felony charge.

He couldn’t believe what happened next: the judge let him off with probation.

Just like that, Brandon had a decade of his life back. The way he sees it, he’s on borrowed time, so he had better make the most of it.

He has.

Today, Brandon is the owner and founder of EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute. EDWINS is a fine-dining restaurant in the French tradition that has received recognition from The New York Times and has been called one of the best new restaurants in Cleveland by Scene magazine and Eater.com.

EDWINS is special. But not just because of its food, delicious as it may be. It’s the people behind the food that make the French restaurant unique.

Read the rest of my article on Prison Fellowship’s blog

A Recipe for Gospel-Centered Prayer

I can’t make someone love God more. I can’t make someone love their spouse more. I can’t even make myself do those things. That power belongs to God and God alone.

So what can we do for the people we love? Pray for them.

I know—you already know that. You understand prayer is important and it’s something we should do for those we love. But are you doing it? Are you actually praying for the people in your church or community by name? Actually begging God to change them?

For a long time, I wasn’t.

It wasn’t because I didn’t care. It was because I didn’t really know how.

Maybe that’s where you are. You love the people in your life and genuinely want them to change. You’d like to pray for them, but every time you do it seems like you’re bringing up the same minor details about their lives and asking God to make them a little bit happier.

That’s what it used to feel like to me. But one day God, in His grace, brought me to the book of Ephesians and showed me what it looks like to pray for the people I love.

Read the rest of my article at Gospel-Centered Discipleship

The Missing Component in Most Discipleship Strategies

Forget all the discipleship books you’ve read. Forget all the conferences you’ve attended and blueprints you’ve adopted.

None of them matter. Not really.

What matters is how Jesus made disciples. So how did he do it? What was his strategy?

At first glance, it might appear that Jesus didn’t have a strategy. His strategy “is so unassuming and silent that it is unnoticed by the hurried churchman,” writes Robert Coleman in his classic The Master Plan of Evangelism.

Yes, Jesus had a strategy for making disciples. And “when his plan is reflected on, the basic philosophy is so different from that of the modern church that its implications are nothing less than revolutionary,” says Coleman.

So what was Jesus’ plan for making disciples?

Read the rest of my article at Gospel-Centered Discipleship