Friday, December 28, 2007

Grace Quote

“Christ took your cup of grief, your cup of curse, pressed it to his lips, drank it to its dregs, then filled it with his sweet, pardoning, sympathizing love, and gave it back to you to drink for ever!” – Octavius Winslow

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Powlison on the vortex of self-introspection

Quote from The Shepherd's Scrapbook on Powlison's address to Sovereign Grace Ministries on "excessive introspection." ::: UPDATE - Also, JT at Between Two Worlds featured a guest article by Powlison on "New Year's Resolutions" which is just awesome! Enjoy both of these!!

- "of trying to find the root-of-the-root-of-the-root of every sin in one’s heart without moving beyond this.

Powlison began by restating the potential problem: an overemphasis on the cravings of the heart (idols and lusts) rather than on identifying the sin and moving on to simple obedience. The danger is “getting caught into a vortex of self-introspection.” Instead, analysis should be the doorway to obedience, repentance, and joy.

“Self-analysis leads to paralysis.” The goal of biblical self-knowledge is to push us outside ourselves into prayer and action (love, forgive, etc). Contemporary counseling emphasizes the idea that our actions are determined by the way others have hurt us in the past. Endless introspection — or “idol hunts” — are just as dangerous as the secular “hurt hunts.”

We know that the heart is filled with a deep darkness. In the corporate world there is a glass ceiling. We look up and see there is more without the ability to reach it. In the human heart there is a glass floor. We can see a darkness that goes deep, but without Scripture there is no way of discovering the depths. Hebrews 4:12-13 is the true MRI of the heart. But nowhere in Scripture does this understanding of the heart lead to an endless self-analysis. So the problem is a danger towards “excessive introspection.” An idol hunt in the heart is not the end goal. I know, Powlison said humbly, that at my death there will remain sin that has not been completely removed. I will die as a sinner in need of further purification/glorification.

Scripture helps us to see evil in relationship to our rebellion towards God Himself. Every sin is related to a turning away from God and turning inward to ourselves. In our sinful nature we have a centripetal force (pulling us back into ourselves) rather than a centrifugal force (pushing us outside ourselves). Biblical self-knowledge points us outside of ourselves and away from the “excessive introspection.”

“An accurate description of my sin is the doorway to God’s revelation of who He is.” This was incredibly helpful. Every sin leads us to understand God. If I seek to control things and become overwhelmed or nervous this shows a lack in my understanding of God’s sovereignty. If I struggle with idolatry, it shows a failure to see God’s preciousness. Powlison demonstrated this in two primary texts.

1 Timothy 6:9-16 and Jeremiah 17:1-14

So how do we avoid this “excessive introspection?” Starting from a biblically informed self-knowledge, we take those sins, “drown them” in God’s glory, and then act. This paradigm is shown in 1 Timothy 6.

9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time — he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

Biblically informed knowledge leads us to acknowledge the idol of money (v. 10: “love of money”). This idolatry is drowned in the glory of God (cf. vv. 15-16 “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen”). This picture of God’s glory leads to action (vv. 11-12: “flee these things, pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life”). The sinful temptation to “love money” is drowned by the glory of God! The affections set on money are now affections turned to the beauty of God’s majesty. Biblical self-knowledge leads us to drown our sins in the glory of God and this leads towards God-centered action. Be a man of God not a man of money.

The “love of money” here can be replaced with the love for any sinful lust. The love of entertainment, pleasures, excitement, food, good health, status, power, self-agenda, self-righteousness or a love of other’s affirmation, approval, love and worship.

Sin points us away from ourselves. As M’Cheyne reminds us, for every one look at our own sin, we ought to take 10 looks at the Cross!

In other words, let introspection lead into the depths of God. See Jeremiah 17:1-14. The heart is desperately wicked (v. 9), but specific sins are recognizable (vv. 1-6). Jeremiah rests in the majestic God for the change (vv. 7-8, 14). This is a picture of a faith that is not excessively introspective and one that leads to a joyous faith."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Good news - It's not just me...

Apparently, I'm not the only one feeling a little down today...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Born the King of Angels

Merry Christmas!
Hebrews 1



1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. 4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
5 For to which of the angels did God ever say,
"You are my Son;
today I have become your Father"? Or again,
"I will be his Father,
and he will be my Son"? 6 And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,
"Let all God's angels worship him."

7 In speaking of the angels he says,
"He makes his angels winds,
his servants flames of fire."

8But about the Son he says,
"Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever,
and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy."

10 He also says,
"In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
11 They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
12 You will roll them up like a robe;
like a garment they will be changed.
But you remain the same,
and your years will never end."

13 To which of the angels did God ever say,
"Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet"?

14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

Happy Birthday, Dear Savior.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Quiet

HT: All Nations Fellowship

Christmas Quiet

“Shhh. Quiet. It’s okay.

Put away your credit cards. Your kids don’t need another computer-digital-anything. You and I don’t need any more debt. Our debt is crushing us as it is.

We need a debt canceler. Be still—if only for a moment. It’s Christmas: our Debt Canceler has come.

Off in the distance dawns the light for all nations. The darkness is pierced and the Light will never, can never, be extinguished.

Stop your striving. Take a breath. Breathe deeply the life you’ve only dared to dream of. The life where you lie down and sleep in peace and awake with joy.

Lower your fist. Kiss your kid. Forgive your dad. Love your wife. The One Who has borne our sin is born!

Our King forever, our Prince of Peace, our Mighty God, has come to us, to live with us, identify with us, bear our sorrows, give us rest. So rest. Stop.

He hasn’t come to wage war on retailers. He hasn’t come to battle Santa Claus or debate whether or not the fir tree is a pagan symbol. He hasn’t come to argue with local governments over crèches and menorahs in the public square. The government, after all, is on HIS shoulders.

His law is love and His Gospel is peace. His yoke is easy, His burden light. He is Salve for tired eyes, a hand for the lonely to hold, a lap for the child at any age, a shoulder broad and strong on which to lean and to cry. So rest. Take your shoes off. Turn down the noise. Switch off the TV.

Pray. Commune with Him. Do you hear that? Do you see His smile?
Shh. Enjoy the silence. Cry if you need to. Laugh if you want to. Stretch out your hands. Touch the splintered cross He was nailed to. Accept the gift.

Forget about the sweater that doesn’t fit, the broken gadget that needs to be returned. Exchange your broken life for one that’s new in Him…your sin for Christ’s sinlessness…your unpeace for His peace…your sorrow and pain for His joy.

Be still now. So very, very still.

It’s Christmas and Christ has come to bring us into His quiet, to hush our fury, to still our rage and fear."



-N. Kennedy

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bethlehem's Bioethics: "God became a zygote"

from Bethlehem's Bioethics, Christianity Today, 12/22/2005

excerpt to pique your interest:

"While Christmas reveals the Incarnation to the rest of us, it had already happened back then. Mary was the first to know; and her cousin Elizabeth's unborn baby John (the Baptist) was the first to bear witness."

Luke 1:26 "In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Covenant Coffee Beans? An effectual means of grace?

Well, no. Not really. But Dr. Richard Phillips uses the illustration in his article titled "Covenant Confusion" at the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. This was a very helpful and in-depth look at some of the circulating controversy and misunderstanding that I keep bumping into regarding Covenant Theology. I thought someone else might benefit, so here it is.

Facebook Etiquette For Parents, Aunts (Uncles?)

Facebook Etiquette For Parents, Aunts
I saw the article above at Crosswalk earlier today and thought it had some really, really useful info for parents, but also saw how I've been doing this already with my niece and nephew, and with some of my military students who attend college. It's been an interesting way of getting to know them better and sharing some of myself with them too. It's been kind of fun. We all get pretty nerdy together and usually have a good laugh at ourselves. For example, I joined the group "When I was your age, Pluto was a planet" which is funny because they remember when this happened too.

As I was getting ready to post this, I also came across this posting by Bill R. over at Provocative Church and really got a chuckle. I don't think I'm quite ready to join "pensionbook," but who knows??

Enjoy the articles!

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Happiest Time of the Year, Part 1

JP Moreland at ScriptoriumDaily>> expores the biblical meaning of happiness in relation to our cultural celebration of Christmas.

He states that the contemporary definition "represents a serious departure from a more ageless definition" and "cannot be obtained by seeking it." Anyone who has ever sincerely sought and tried to "Be Happy" knows that it is true. You cannot "Find" happiness, per se.

Moreland promises a thoroughly biblical definition of happiness in part II, but
Reference:

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, `If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it. For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-25)


He writes, "Jesus’ invitation to come to Him is invitation to new life in the Kingdom lived from the power of the indwelling Spirit and the resurrected power of Jesus himself. Properly understood, it is an invitation to a life of happiness obtained in a very specific sort of way."

Details to come in part II. I'll be keeping my eyes open.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Hope for People Born Tomorrow


Born on December 16:

Margaret Mead, 1901
Arthur C. Clarke, 1917
Lesley Stahl, 1941
William (the Refrigerator) Perry, 1962
Michael McCary, 1971
Hallee Hirsh, 1987

AND MOI!!!!!!!! - 1964

When one of my friends asked me tonight why do I like to make a big deal about my birthday, at first I answered, oh, I dunno. I guess I'm just really grateful to God that He would allow me to be born, even knowing full well that I would be such as wretched sinner, lost and alienated from Him for the first 30 years of my life. And then soooo incredibly prodigal even after He saved me. But then I thought some more and then remember why I've always been so interested in recognizing my birthday. --

Here's the reason:::::

My birth mother gave me up for adoption when she was 16, because she was raped. Then I was adopted when I was three months old.

Since it was prior to legalized abortion, this young mother did not have access to end my life.

So I still like to celebrate my birthday.

I'm grateful to God that I was allowed to live. And at the same time perplexed that He would allow me to live. And as a result, most of my life I have continued to wonder - why God? What do you want from me? And right now it's kind of weird because I think He just wanted me to live so that He could display His love. That's why I think recognizing my birthday is still kind of a big deal. Because God still loves me! He will always love me. From eternity past throughout all eternity!
Romans 8:38 "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels
nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither
height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us
from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Secret handshake, no longer a secret...


"The Secret Handshake" is a secret no more. Thanks internet.
Another source of pride bites the dust.

Ch 5 What Mortifcation is not...

Thoughts on Chapter 5 of Owen's Mortification of Sin

I haven't commented much on this book study, read-a-long over at challies.com, even though I've had plenty of moments of illumination and interest. Probably too many to try to summarize in a short post. This week, we started Ch. 5 which speaks of "what mortification is not."

One of Owen's particularly helpful points in this chapter is that mortification is not the dissimulation of sin.


The dissimulation of sin deals with instances where we are caught in a sin, either by a friend or family member or even ourselves, and then we “change.” According to Owen, we haven’t really changed, we are simply covering sin up. The classic example is when married people have an affair with with another person. Once they are caught, perhaps for matters of convenience or saving face, the person swears he or she will never do it again, and then goes along seeming like a changed person. And the people around praise him or her for changing when really the person still harbors lust and passions in the heart. Because the person is not acting on it, now he is also a hypocrite. Owen says, “He has got another heart than he had, that is more cunning; not a new heart, that is more holy.”

So, the question that dovetails from Owen's point is to ask one's self what sin are we merely covering up? Idolatry is probably at the heart, but our sin does not want it found out.


When I see another person's sin, instead of saying “I don’t have a problem with that sin or that other sin,” rather it would be more fitting to find how my heart really does fit in to each one of them. To search the heart, unmask the hidden idolatry, bring it into the light ... and read on to Chapter 6.... :)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

False Transparency

Goodmanson.com posted "The Lie of Transparency in Community" earlier this week, which explores how the differences between true vulnerability and false transparency work out in community. It "appears like humility but it is a charade of self-righteousness behind the 'right things to say.'"
That was an exellent quote for me to reflect upon and to apply personally.

It also reminded me of Hillary's reply to a question during the debates today. When asked how her potential presidency would be different than some of her past political endeavors which were shrouded with secrecy, the senator from NY said that she would create a transparent administration by using a strong communications strategy. Spin is not exactly what I'd call real transparency or authenticity. Guess that's probably one of the reasons why I should stear clear of politics - I'm way too prone to these kind of pride issues.

How in the world did anyone pass finals this week?

I just wonder how any of my students passed their exams this week. UD is going to the big game!

I hope our guys win the NCAA Division 1-AA Championship. Our church ministers to this sports team with an embedded outreach ministry, and I know that a lot of these athletes are professing Christians. -- Plus, I'm an alum, so I'm a big fan too.... And to think, they finished the season in third place in their own conference. They've knocked off the #1 team to get here... Go University of Delaware, Joe Flacco, Omar Cuff, and all the guys! (and, BTW, I'm so glad I'm not trying to write a final paper or take final exams this week. My students totally have my sympathy, so if they come in with "Incompletes," I will smile and tell them to get me the grade within four weeks. My replacement will take care of them, I'm sure) Oh, yeah - Ishould focus. Go Hens!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Blogative

TALKATIVE OVERTAKEN (excerpt from Pilgrim's Progress)

Moreover, I saw in my dream that, as they went on, Faithful, as he chanced to look on one side, saw a man whose name is Talkative walking at a distance beside them; for in this place there was room enough for them all to walk. He was a tall man, and something better looking at a distance than near at hand. To this man Faithful said:

FAITHFUL. Friend, are you going to the heavenly country?

TALKATIVE. I am going to that very place.

FAITHFUL. That is well; then I hope we may have your good company.

TALKATIVE. With a very good will, will I be your companion.

FAITHFUL. Come on, then, and let us spend our time in talking of things that are profitable.

TALKATIVE. To talk of things that are good is very acceptable to me and I am glad that I have met with those that are so inclined. Indeed, there are but few who care thus to spend their time, but rather speak of things that are of no profit.

FAITHFUL. That is indeed a pity, for what things are so profitable to talk about as the things of the God of heaven?

TALKATIVE. I like you wonderfully well, for your saying is full of the truth; and I will add, What is so pleasant, and what so profitable, as to talk of the things of god? What things so pleasant? that is, if a man has any delight in things that are wonderful. For instance, if a man delights to talk of the history or the mystery of things, or if a man loves to talk of miracles, wonders, or signs, where shall he find things written so delightfully, as in the Holy Scripture?

FAITHFUL. That’s true; but to be profited by such things in our talk should be our aim.

TALKATIVE. That is what I said; for to talk of such things is most profitable; for, by so doing, a man may get knowledge of many things; as of the folly of earthly things, and the benefit of things above. Besides, by this a man may learn what it is to turn from sin, to believe, to pray, to suffer, or the like; by this also a man may learn what are the great promises and comforts of the gospel, to his own enjoyment. Further by this a man may learn to answer false opinions, to prove the truth, and also to teach the ignorant.

FAITHFUL. All this is true; and glad am I to hear these things from you.

TALKATIVE. Alas! the want of this is why so few know their need of faith and grace in their hearts in order to have eternal life.

FAITHFUL. But to know these things is God’s gift. No one can know them by talking about them.

TALKATIVE. All that I know very well, for a man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven; I could give you a hundred Scripture passages to prove this.

FAITHFUL. “Well then,” said Faithful, “What is the one thing that we shall talk about at this time?“



TALKATIVE SELF-DECEIVED

TALKATIVE. What you will. I will talk of things heavenly or things earthly; things in life or things in the gospel; things sacred or things worldly; things past or things to come; things foreign or things at home; things necessary or things accidental, provided that all be done to our profit.

Now Faithful began to wonder; and, stepping to Christian (for he walked all this while by himself) he said to him softly, “What a brave companion have we got! Surely this man will make a very excellent pilgrim.”

CHRISTIAN. At this Christian modestly smiled, and said, “This man with whom you are so taken will deceive with his tongue, twenty who know him not.”

FAITHFUL. Do you know him, then?

CHRISTIAN. Know him? Yes, better than he knows himself.

FAITHFUL. Pray what is he?

CHRISTIAN. His name is Talkative; he lives in our town. I wonder that you do not know him.

FAITHFUL. Whose son is he? and where does he dwell?

CHRISTIAN. He is the son of Say-well. He lives in Prating Row, and is known to all that are acquainted with him by the name of Talkative of Prating Row; and in spite of this fine tongue, he is a sorry fellow.

FAITHFUL. Well, he seems a very good man. I have been deceived by him.

CHRISTIAN. Deceived! you may be sure of it. Remember the proverb, “They say, and do not”; but the kingdom of god is not in word, but in power.

His house is as empty of religion as the white of an egg is of savor. There is there neither prayer nor sign of turning from sin. He is the very stain, reproach, and shame of religion to all that know him. It can hardly have a good word in all that end of the town where he dwells, because of him. For my part, I am of opinion that he has, by his wicked life, caused many to stumble and fall, and will be, if god prevent not, the ruin of many more.

FAITHFUL. Well, I see that saying and doing are two different things, and hereafter I shall watch for the difference between them.

CHRISTIAN. They are two things, indeed, and are as unlike as are the soul and the body. This, Talkative is not aware of but thinks that hearing and saying will make a good Christian, and thus he deceives his own soul. Hearing is but as the sowing of the seed; talking is not sufficient to prove that fruit is indeed in the heart of life. And let us assure ourselves that, at the judgment, men shall be judged according to their fruits.



FAITHFUL DISPUTES TALKATIVE

FAITHFUL. Well, I was not so fond of his company at first, but I am sick of it now. What shall we do to be rid of him?

CHRISTIAN. Why, go to him, and enter into some serious conversation about the power of religion and ask him plainly (when he has approved of it, for that he will) whether he sets it up in his heart and home.

FAITHFUL. Then Faithful stepped forward again, and said to Talkative, “Come, what cheer? How is it now?”

TALKATIVE. Thank you, well: I thought we should have had a great deal of talk by this time.

So Faithful put many questions to Talkative to draw him out and was soon convinced that he was a man who only talked – and had no deep faith in his heart that led him to act. At last Faithful said to him:

FAITHFUL. Have you felt your own sins, and have you turned from them? And do your life and conduct show it the same? Or is your religion in word and in tongue, and not in deed and truth?

TALKATIVE. Then Talkative at first began to blush; but, recovering himself, replied: this kind of discourse I did not expect; nor am I disposed to give an answer to such questions, because I do not feel bound to do so. Will you tell me why you ask such a question?

FAITHFUL. Because I saw you were quite free to talk, and I feared that you had only notions about things. Besides, to tell you all the truth, I have heard of you that you are a man whose religion lies in talk, and that your life gives your mouth-profession the lie.

TALKATIVE. Since you are ready to take up reports, and to judge so rashly, I must conclude you are some peevish or cross man, not fit to be talked with; and so adieu.

CHRISTIAN. Then came up Christian, and said to Faithful, “I told you how it would happen; your words and his heart could not agree. He had rather leave your company than reform his life.”


“How Talkative at first lifts up his plumes!

How bravely doth he speak! How he presumes

To drive down all before him! But so soon

As Faithful talks of heart-work, like the moon

That’s past the full, into the wane he goes;

And so will all but he who heart-work knows.”

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mr. Worldly Wiseman in Pilgrim's Progress

We are starting a study on Pilgrim's Progress in our women's Sunday School next month, and I'm getting a jump start by listening to Max McLean's narration of the book, which is very helpful. The current section is called "Worldly Wiseman" and he adds a little rhyming summary to the end that I thought I'd share here. First here is a copy/paste from the Christian Ethereal Classics Library to give you the context (hey, one of the cool things about the "classics" is that most of them are free, "in the public domain" unlike the modern writers):


CHRISTIAN: Why, sir, this burden on my back is more terrible to me than are all these things which you have mentioned: nay, methinks I care not what I meet with in the way, if so be I can also meet with deliverance from my burden...

MR. WORLDLY WISEMAN: Why, in yonder village (the village is named Morality) there dwells a gentleman whose name is Legality, a very judicious man, and a man of a very good name, that has skill to help men off with such burdens as thine is from their shoulders; yea to my knowledge, he hath done a great deal of good this way; aye, and besides, he hath skill to cure those that are somewhat crazed in their wits with their burdens. To him, as I said, thou mayest go, and be helped presently. His house is not quite a mile from this place; and if he should not be at home himself, he hath a pretty young man to his son, whose name is Civility, that can do it (to speak on) as well as the old gentleman himself: there, I say, thou mayest be eased of thy burden; and if thou art not minded to go back to thy former habitation, (as indeed I would not wish thee,) thou mayest send for thy wife and children to this village, where there are houses now standing empty, one of which thou mayest have at a reasonable rate: provision is there also cheap and good; and that which will make thy life the more happy is, to be sure there thou shalt live by honest neighbors, in credit and good fashion.


Now was Christian somewhat at a stand; but presently he concluded, If this be true which this gentleman hath said, my wisest course is to take his advice: and with that he thus farther spake.

CHRISTIAN: Sir, which is my way to this honest man's house?
MR. WORLDLY WISEMAN: Do you see yonder high hill?
CHRISTIAN: Yes, very well.
MR. WORLDLY WISEMAN: By that hill you must go, and the first house you come at is his.

So Christian turned out of his way to go to Mr. Legality's house for help: but, behold, when he was got now hard by the hill, it seemed so high, and also that side of it that was next the way-side did hang so much over, that Christian was afraid to venture further, lest the hill should fall on his head; wherefore there he stood still, and wotted not what to do. Also his burden now seemed heavier to him than while he was in his way. There came also flashes of fire, Ex. 19:16, 18, out of the hill, that made Christian afraid that he should be burnt: here therefore he did sweat and quake for fear. Heb. 12:21. And now he began to be sorry that he had taken Mr. Worldly Wiseman's counsel;

When Christians unto carnal men give ear,
Out of their way they go and pay for it dear.

For master worldly wisemen can but show
a saint the way to bondage and to woe.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Top five favorite Christmas albums

(not in any particular order)

A Charlie Brown Christmas (Starbucks version) - Featuring the "eight-year-old Beethoven kid" named Schroeder on piano, bassist Pigpen, and guitarist Snoopy. Includes such classics as O Tannenbaum, Linus and Lucy, Skating, Fur Elise, and Hark, The Herald Angels Sing, to name a few. I love it.

What other reviewers are saying:

Eight-year-old Psychiatrist Lucy Van Pelt, a self-proclaimed groupie says, "Beethoven - it's always Beethoven. He is going to marry me someday, you know - unless Beethoven keeps getting in the way."

"That Pigpen, he sure can play bass," said Charlie Brown. "I don't know how he can even see what he is doing with that constant dust cloud around him, but he sure can play. I wish I could play something," added Brown.



Handel for the Holidays - A classic culminating in the Messiah, Hallelujah Chorus (track 25). Offered for only $7.98 at Amazon and Borders. With performances by English Baroque Soloists, English Chamber Orchestra, Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, Musica Alta Ripa, et al. I can put this on while cleaning or decorating and enjoy all 25 tracks, or what I do a lot of the time is just go right to the end. I'm always trying to jump to the "glory" part. Oh well... Click here to hear and enjoy a sample from Amazon.com>>>


The Blind Boys of Alabama's Go Tell It On the Mountain.

This is the group's first Christmas album in their 60-year history. This 12-song collection features genre-crossing guest vocal appearances by Solomon Burke, George Clinton, Michael Franti, Chrissie Hynde, Shelby Lynne, Les McCann, Me'Shell NdegÈOcello, Aaron Neville, Mavis Staples, and Tom Waits. There are special instrumental guest performances by Richard Thompson (electric guitar) and Robert Randolph (pedal steel guitar) in addition to a superb studio band, led by organist John Medeski (of Medeski, Martin & Wood fame) with jump-blues guitar ace Duke Robillard and the peerless rhythm section of Danny Thompson (double bass) and Michael Jerome (drums). A percentage of the royalties from the this album are donated to the American Diabetes Association. Truly awesome music.

City on a Hill: It's Christmas Time One of the things I love about this album is that these are really, really talented and uniquely gifted Christian artists who are not copycats of the secular pop genre. The project has selected contemporary artists who are above all worshipful, and who have also immensely contributed to music - Christian and pop. My top picks on the album: Sarah Groves' Child of Love, Terry Scott Taylor's Holy Emmanuel, Jars of Clay's Bethlehem Town, Third Day's Manger Throne, Out of Eden's Do you hear what I hear? and Sixpence None the Richer's Silent Night.



A Merry Little Christmas - Eric Darken produced some really great pop-rock traditional Christmas tunes in 1999. As always with Mr. Darken, these are well produced and expertly played arrangements by Nashville studio singers and musicians. I don't believe it's available any longer for sale, but is really well done. Some of my faves: O Come All Ye Faithful, We Three Kings, O Holy Night, Joy to the World, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, The Herald Angels Sing, Go Tell It On the Mountain, I Saw Three Ships, and White Christmas.

To guard against the sin of noble minds

So often prone to struggle with pride, I'm in constant need of reminding of God's amazing grace. Here are some quotes on pride along with Romans 12:3 - an excellent reminder for me today.


Os Guinness: "Pride is the first and worst sin, so grace is most amazing ...when it wins the Pharisee soul rather than the profiligate Mary Magdalene, when it wins the proud person made prouder still by calling rather than the sinner feeling unworthy to be addressed." Dorothy Sayers: "The devilish strategy of Pride is that it attacks us, not atour weakest points, but in our stronger. It is preeminently the sin of the noble mind."


Consider the Burial Ceremony of the Habsburg emperors:

Voice within the Abbott asks, "Who are you, who knocks?"

"I am Franz Josef, Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary," the herald replied.

Voice within the Abbott said again, "I don't know you. Tell me again who you are?"

The Herald replied, "I am Franz Josef, Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, Bohemia, Galicia, Lodomeria, and Dalmatia. Grand Duke of Transylvania, Margrave of Moravia, Duke of Styria and Corinthia..."

"We still don't know you. Who are you?" the sepulchral voice reiterates.

Whereupon the herald kneelt down and said:
"I am Franz Josef, a poor sinner humbly begging for God's mercy."

Romans 12:3 "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you."

God's Amazing Grace

"Though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor what I hope to be, I can truly say that I am not what I once was, a slave to sin and Satan. And I can heartily join with the apostle and acknowledge that by the grace of God I am what I am." - John Newton (wrote the lyrics for the well-known hymn "Amazing Grace")

Thursday, December 6, 2007

How Should We Then Work


Another great article about one of my current study topics is available over at Boundless>>>
How Should We Then Work? By Jonathan Dodson

Here's an excerpt:


"In many respects, work is the engine of civilization. Without work, societies would not perpetuate. Furthermore, if as Schaeffer argues, the rise and decline of civilization is intimately intertwined with the strength and weakness of the Christian worldview, then the labor of everyday citizens, which contributes to the quality of human flourishing, should be given serious attention. If indeed theological ideas have practical consequences it becomes us to inquire, “How should we then work?”

In response to this important question, I can think of at least four main approaches to work that should frame our theologically informed response. First, Christian work should be excellent work. Second, Christian work should be ethical work. Third, Christian work is a platform for evangelism. And fourth, Christian work should be done in reflection upon its essence, how it may or may not reflect the nature and character of God."

Friday, November 30, 2007

Missiology Lost: The Theology of Vocation

Some Amazing Quotes:

"What currently tears many Christians apart: a 'spiritual' life that has little to do with their families, their work, and their cultural
life."

"The family, the workplace, the local church, the culture, and the public square are where He has called us."

"When we pray the Lord's Prayer, we ask God to give us this day our daily bread. And He does. The way he gives us our daily bread is through the vocation of farmers, millers, and bakers. We might add truck drivers, factory workers, bankers, warehouse workers, and the lady at the checkout counter. Virtually every step of our whole economic system contributes to that piece of toast you had for breakfast."

"Recovering vocation can transfigure all of life, suffusing every relationship and every task put before us with the glory of God."
In Our Calling and God's Glory, by Gene Edward Veith, Luther's theology of vocation is explored through The Four Estates, which are: The estate of the church, the estate of the household, the estate of state/culture/society, and the overarching estate that covers them all, the estate of Christian love.

The concepts in this article have been lost from today's evangelical church in America. In studying the theology of vocation - the second tier of Christian calling, after salvation - I'm amazed at the fact that I have virtually never heard or read this teaching since I've been a Christian or Reformed. Why so surprised? Because this was one of the hinges of the Reformation, sparked by both Luther and Calvin, although lost by the later reformers who drew inward. Vocation was one of the key themes in Luther's 95 Theses. Luther railed against a special priesthood, in favor of the priesthood of all believers. While pastoring and our church calling has its own estate, it is not the only - or even "the most important" estate. Church calling is right on par with the family and the society in this view.

Vocation had a tremendous and profound impact on the formation of the Protestant Church - (think Protestant Work Ethic via John Calvin). Veith writes of today's evangelical Christians: "the divorce rate..., spiritual escapism..., and cultural invisibility are all symptoms of the loss of vocation." I believe that if we were getting a better theology of vocation (you'll have to read the article or buy the book), the first estate could focus on fulfilling the tasks of visible church and equipping/building up the body of Christ for the sake of both callings - salvation and vocation. The resulting effect of living The Four Estates of vocation would be an improved "missional" focus. What do you think?
The whole current issue of Modern Reformation is packed with insight into the idea of reflecting the Glory of God. I'd highly recommend a buying copy. In fact, if you want a copy, let me know and I will buy you a copy - that's how amazing I think it is -- deblw AT yahoo dot com

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dwight Schrute would be SO happy...

Beets are at the top of the Healthy Foods That You Should Be Eating list at Joy's Healthy Bite>>> But what do people really think about beets?

My Beet Garden: June 2007
Everyone loves my Dad's pickled beets.

Really? Well, here's a little dialogue between Dwight and Michael from The Office to help illustrate what people say about beets:

Dwight Schrute: You know you can always refinance your mortgage. We [he and
his cousin] had a 15-year on our beet farm and paid it off early.

Michael Scott: Yeah, well, you know what? Nobody cares about your stupid beet
farm. Beets are the worst.

Dwight Schrute: People love beets.

Michael Scott: Nobody likes beets, Dwight! Why don't you grow something that
everybody does like? You should grow candy! I'd love a piece of candy right
now... not a beet.

Alrightly then. SINCE my Dad's pickled beets are essentially like "Beet Candy," I think I know why everyone who has ever tried them - loves them. If you ever want a free jar of "Beet Candy" - or Artie's Famous Pickled Beets - just let me know!

Calvin on "Him who is able to keep you"

Jude 1:20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21 Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

Doxology 24 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.



John Calvin's Exposition of verses 23-24:
"23. Hating even the garment. This passage, which otherwise would appear obscure, will have no difficulty in it, when the metaphor is rightly explained. He would have the faithful not only to beware of contact with vices, but that no contagion might reach them, he reminds them that everything that borders on vices and is near to them ought to be avoided: as, when we speak of lasciviousness, we say that all excitements to lusts ought to be removed. The passage will also become clearer, when the whole sentence is filled up, that is, that we should hate not only the flesh, but also the garment, which, by a contact with it, is infected. He, then, does not allow evil be cherished by indulgence, so that he bids all preparations and all accessories, as they say, to be cut off."

"24. Now unto him that is able to keep you. He closes the Epistle with praise to God; by which he shews that our exhortations and labors can do nothing except through the power of God accompanying them. (Some copies have "them" instead of "you." If we receive this reading, the sense will be, "It is, indeed, your duty to endeavor to save them; but it is God alone who can do this.") However, the other reading is what I prefer; in which there is an allusion to the preceding verse; for after having exhorted the faithful to save what was perishing, that they might understand that all their efforts would be vain except God worked with them, he testifies that they could not be otherwise saved than through the power of God. In the latter clause there is indeed a different verb, fula>xai , which means to guard; so the allusion is to a remoter clause, when he said, Keep yourselves."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

40 Lashes Over a Teddy Bear?

Is this crazy, or what? - update: The teacher's sentence was minimized - 15 days in prison only, no lashes. Still, though. 15 days in prison? For a 54-year old woman, over a teddy bear?

Brotherhood and Adoption

The Brotherhood of Sons: What Some Rude Questions About Adoption Taught Me About the Gospel of Christ, by Russell D. Moore at Touchstone. HT: Between Two Worlds

I read this article on two different blogs this morning, and found its meaning to be especially impactful for me. Adopted by my earthly family at a very young age, I could relate to a number of the "rude questions" that Dr. Moore mentions in his article. Praise God for his awesome witness to others thru his experience of adoption and the wonderful teaching and encouragement that this article provided in terms of helping to see how our adoption as "Sons" of the living and most high God is so immensely practical, relevant and sanctifying. What an incredible blend of Love and Theology the topic of adoption is! I just need to stop writing, because I certainly would not want to take away anymore than I already have from this amazing article. Enjoy!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Overdressed?


"When we are wrapped up in self, we are overdressed." - unknown

Col. 3:5 "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Deck The Halls

Here's a little something that a friend sent. I thought it was really cute, especially since I started putting up my Christmas decorations yesterday. Enjoy!

Blindspots


Last week while I was reading one of my favorite blog authors, I noticed a very gracious and charitable post there in response to a very serious matter and about a person who I would've have likened more to a ravenous wolf than a brother in Christ. And I almost commented with just such a reaction. I would have submitted such a comment, but for the fact that I've been convicted lately over my pride and sin in blogging. So I waited.

The very next day, the same author in a complete reversal posted some scathing indictments about this other person -- very similar to the very things I had been thinking of writing. What is so odd is that I had no doubt in my mind upon reading it that this was very, very wrong -unwise, unfruitful and counterproductive. So, I think it is interesting that God showed me this issue, in this particular way.

Seeing the sin in someone else is way, way easier to detect than it is in my own heart.
The sneaky-ness of sin is scary, you know? It goes deep. But God's Word and His Grace go deeper! Amen. I pray that God keeps revealing the sinfulness of my sin to me, convicting me as I go, and giving me a soft heart that is conformed more to his son, Jesus Christ.

How far the east is from the west

Here I am, Lord, and I'm drowning in your sea of forgetfulness
The chains of yesterday surround me
I yearn for peace and rest
I don't want to end up where You found me
And it echoes in my mind, keeps me awake tonight
I know You've cast my sin as far as the east is from the west
And I stand before You now as though I've never sinned
But today I feel like I'm just one mistake away from You leaving me this way

Jesus, can You show me just how far the east is from the west
'cause I can't bear to see the man I've been come rising up in me again
In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
'cause You know just how far the east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other

I start the day, the war begins, endless reminding of my sin
Time and time again Your truth is drowned out by the storm I'm in
Today I feel like I'm just one mistake away from You leaving me this way

I know You've washed me white, turned my darkness into light
I need Your peace to get me through, to get me through this night
I can't live by what I feel, but by the truth Your word reveals
I'm not holding on to You, but You're holding on to me
You're holding on to me

Jesus, You know just how far the east is from the west
I don't have to see the man I've been come rising up in me again
In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
'cause You know just how far the east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other
(Just how far the east is from the west, just how far)
One scarred hand to the other
(Lord, Just how far the east is from the west, just how far)
From one scarred hand to the other

by Casting Crowns

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Autumn Leaves

What a beautiful time of year it is

The autumn leaves that gloriously adorn our trees will soon abandon the tall, proud, towering stalks in my backyard. As the statuesque and permenantly wooden stems sway to and fro in wintery winds, all of creation eagerly awaits the coming snowfall that will cover such vulnerable limbs. And again we will stand in awe of God's grace displayed throughout all of his creation.

Heb 4:13 "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess."

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Study of Sin and Temptation

A few women from our church have signed up to do the read-a-long for John Owen's "Overcoming Sin and Temptation" over at http://www.challies.com/

This week, we're on Chapter Two. Here is his summary:

"The thesis of the second chapter is this: “Believers ought to make the mortification of indwelling sin their daily work.” The question we must ask ourselves and the exhortation of the author is this:

Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it while you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.
The rest of the chapter is given or to reasons that we must be at the business of killing sin. It follows this outline:

Indwelling sin always abides; therefore it must always be mortified
Indwelling sin not only abides, but is still acting
Indwelling sin is not only active, but will produce soul-destroying sins if not mortified Indwelling sin is to be opposed by the Spirit and the new nature
The results of neglecting the mortification of indwelling sin
It is our duty to perfect holiness in the fear of God and grow in grace every day."
I haven't finished Chapter Two yet, so don't have too many thoughts yet. So far this study has already got me back on my heels - looking at the truth about the battle/struggle against sin that is going on below the surface all the time, even though it is totally natural for me to not even see it. Guess that's why Owen says, "Be Killing Sin Or It Will Be Killing You." And of course Owen doesn't leave us looking at our sin too long, because his writing is also infused with the holiness and mercy of God too.

I've got a lot of reading to do this weekend, in between visiting relatives, watching the history-making U of D vs. Del. State game, and trying to get my Christmas tree up. Praise God for so many enjoyable and hopefully edifying activities!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

To all: Happy Thanksgiving and blessings. Whether you are spending it with family, friends, alone, overseas, or serving meals at the mission, may God overwhelm your hearts with the gratitude of what He has done for us through Jesus Christ, his son.

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26, ESV

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

New Method Converts Adult Cells Into Embryonic Stem Cells

Two teams of scientists reported that they have turned human skin cells into embryonic stem cells without having to make or destroy an embryo. Many of us have been hopeful for this type of development for a long time.

At The New York Times "New Stem Cell Method Could Ease Ethical Concerns" >>>
At Wired: "Stem Cell Breakthrough Is Like 'Turning Lead Into Gold'">>>

Thanksgiving is for Pilgrims

Yesterday's devotional from Peter A. Kennedy:

Some seven weeks after the horrific events of September 11, 2001, Time Magazine printed an article by Nancy Gibbs entitled: "We Gather Together." Gibbs ponders the paradoxical nature of Thanksgiving that particular year. She wrote: "This is the kind of holiday we need right now, an intrinsically complicated one that comes at the end of a bitter harvest and yet finds something sweet to celebrate. Everyone is a pilgrim now, stripped down to bare essentials and a single carry-on bag to sustain us in a strange new world. So no wonder people are making a special effort to get home this year, set the table, unfold the napkins, make the time for a messy conversation with the people who know us best. This is where we find out how we are really doing on the character test: Have the events of autumn left us humbled, or hardened? Bitter at all we feel we have lost, or grateful for all that we once took for granted?"

Mature Christian character is grateful to the Lord during the tough times.

Today in prayer, give thanks to the Lord for all that He has allowed in your life.

"A life in thankfulness releases the glory of God." - Bengt Sundberg

God's Word:
"I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name ofthe LORD." - Psalm 116:17

"But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD." - Jonah 2:9

By Peter Kennedy, Subscribe to Devotional E-Mail
(My daily devotionals include this one, RZIM, and Table Talk by Ligonier. I've been receiving Mr. Kennedy's devotionals since 1996)

Christian Calling Smörgåsbord

What Does God Require of Me??? The one verse answer of course is Micah 6:8: "To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." And then there are these references that have just popped up on my radar the last two days (Enjoy!):

Modern Reformation - December 2007

Using God By Kim Riddlebarger *****
Can We Give God Glory? By Michael S. Horton *****
"To the Glory of God and the Restoration of the Heart" : Worship and Theology in the Music of Johann Sebastian Bach (Sidebar) By Patricia Anders
Our Calling and God's Glory By Gene Edward Veith *****
The Family, the Society, and the Church (Sidebar) By Gene Edward Veith *****
To God Alone Be Glory Forever By John Piper
Books that Still Matter: "Not the Way It's Supposed to Be" by Cornelius Plantinga Jr. (Book Review) By Brandon G. Withrow
"Everyday Theology: How to Read Cultural Texts and Interpret Trends" edited by Kevin Vanhoozer, et. al. (Book Review) By Mark Traphagen
"Sin and Evil: Moral Values in Literature" by Ronald Paulson (Book Review) By Rick Ritchie
Point of Contact: "Infidel" by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Book Review) By Diana Frazier



.........................................................................................................................


Total Truth: Liberating Chrisitianity From Its Cultural Captivity by Nancy Pearcey Front Flap description:



Is God A Public Figure?
Does Chrisitianity have a legitimate role to play in the realm of politics, business, law, and education?

Or Are The
Secularists Right?
When they relegate religion to the strictly private realm of faith and feelings?

In "Total Truth," Nancy Pearcey offers razor-sharp analysis of the split between public and private, fact and feelings. She reveals the strategies of the secularist gatekeepers who use this division to banish biblical principles from the cultural mainstrean, stripping Chrisitianity of its power to challenge and redeem the whole of
culture.

How can we overcome this divide? Unify our fragmented lives? Recover authentic spirituality? With compelling examples from the struggles of real people, Pearcey shows how to liberate Christianity from its cultural captivity. She walk readers through practical, hands-on steps for developing a full-orbed Christian worldview. Finally, she makes a passionate case that Chrisitianity is not just religious truth but truth about total reality. It is total truth.
..................................................................................................................................................
Anthill Theology at the Henry Institute, A Commentary by Russell D. Moore
"Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways and be wise" (Prov 6:5).
Excerpt:


"Maybe the first step to wisdom is to recognize that the church itself, even with all of our flaws and foibles and fallibilities, reveals the "manifold wisdom of God" (Eph 3:10), a wisdom so awesome that our Maker designed an entire universe embedded with likenesses of it?"

All of these resources and a few others that I'll add as I go are extremely helpful within the context of my current dilemma which consists of ----urgh!!!! What do you want from me God???? These are answers to prayer and I hope you might enjoy reading them too.

Friday, November 16, 2007

True Gratitude = New Attitude

"True gratitude or thankfulness to God for his kindness to us, arises from a foundation laid before, of love to God for what he is in himself; whereas a natural gratitude has no such antecedent foundation. The gracious stirrings of grateful affection to God, for kindness received, always are from a stock of love already in the heart, established in the first place on other grounds, viz. God's own excellency." - Jonathan Edwards, "Religious Affections"

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." - Colossians 3:17

"Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." - Ephesians 5:20

"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." I Thessalonians 5:18

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

In the Middle - Midlife and Grace

A couple of awesome quotes from Paul David Tripp's book (which I stumbled upon last week when buying "A Quest For More") called "Lost in the Middle, Midlife and the Grace of God:"


"We cannot allow ourselves to confuse the single-battle victories of sanctification with the ultimate cessation of conflict when Christ returns. Sin and righteousness, the flesh and the Spirit are at war. There is no peace, only battles won and battles lost. Peace has been purchased. It is guaranteed. It will come. But until then, the war of wars never ceases. the delusions of victory, and the feeling of peace that follows, set us up for the shock and disappointment of midlife regret. We sadly have to admit that we are still being bombed by an enemy -- sin -- that we believed we had long since defeated. (pg. 117).

and on pg. 133, subhead - Standing in a Pile of Your Own Leaves


"You're now in the autumn of your life, and you're quite aware that the leaves are off the trees. You're standing in a pile of the leaves of your marriage, your parenting, your extended family, your friendships, your work, and your ministry. These leaves of the past have grown wrinkled and dry, and you know you cannot put them back on the tree. It's tempting to sit down in the pile and examine leaf after leaf and wish you were holding a new bud from a new sapling, but you aren't. The harvest has come in, and it is what it is. Yet in all of this there is hope because your Lord is the Lord of new seasons. With the new season comes the freedom to plant new and better seeds. With the new season comes the expectation of a new harvest of new fruit.


Stand up and walk away from your pile of yesterday's leaves. Take the seeds of a new way into your hands, press them into the soil of your life, and thank God that you will live to see a better harvest."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Gratitude on Veteran's Day

Trying to be grateful today for more than just a day off!

When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs? ~G.K. Chesterton

The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you. ~John E. Southard

Thou hast given so much to me, Give one thing more, - a grateful heart; Not
thankful when it pleaseth me, As if Thy blessings had spare days, But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.~George Herbert

Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy. ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~William Arthur Ward

1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

What kind of accent?

What American accent do you have? (Best version so far)

Northern

You have a Northern accent - the Western New England accent that news networks go for.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by YouThink.com quizzes and personality tests.

ht: gid

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Relativism is.. like... not.. right.. ?

This guy may not be a believer, but he does a good job showing the silliness of relativism. (HT: Green Baggins)

Thanksgiving and Praise - Psalm 100

Psalm 100
1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.

3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his ;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.

5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Delaware loses to Richmond: 62-56 (5OT)!

I'm talking about football, not basketball! This was insane. In the last second of the regular game, Flacco* squeaks into the end zone and ties the game up 38-38. About 1/3 of the stadium fans were leaving or had left, sure that the Blue Hens' game was over. I was on my way into the movie theater to meet my friend Rob and see "Dan in Real Life." Here's the totally insane thing. We got out of the movie and went over to Applebee's, sat down and looked up to the monitor - the game was still going on. Five overtime periods! Good grief. Alas, Richmond got the best of our boys. Here is a video link. (* - Our QB, Joe Flacco, is being courted for first/second round NFL draft pick)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thankfulness and Praise - Psalm 148

Psalm 148

1 Praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD from the heavens,
praise him in the heights above.
2 Praise him, all his angels,
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
3 Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars.
4 Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.
5 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for he commanded and they were created.
6 He set them in place for ever and ever;
he gave a decree that will never pass away.
7 Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
8 lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,
9 you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
10 wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,
11 kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth,
12 young men and maidens,
old men and children.
13 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
14 He has raised up for his people a horn,
the praise of all his saints,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.
Praise the LORD.

Phil. 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Daily Manna

At Challies.com
And at Finding Grace
And Here from past postings.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thankfulness Quote

"Thankless men (or women) are like swine feeding on acorns, which, though they fall upon their heads, never make them look up to the tree from which they come." -Jean Daille

God's Word: "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolishhearts were darkened." - Romans 1:21

One of the daily devotionals that I read is focusing on the theme of Thanksgiving for the month of November. There have already been some really good ones and I think I'm going to start doing "the thanksgiving theme" here for this month too.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

If I were a ...

If I were a...
Democrat (which I'm defintitely not), I would vote for Joe Biden.

If I were a...
Republican, I think I would vote for Mike Huckabee.

So, now you know why I don't do politics. Oh, I will vote. But in the last election, I did not vote for the major parties' candidates. I voted for someone running in a small independent party (the Constitution Party). So, you might say I'm one of those people who throws away their vote. Nope, not so. I think throwing away your vote is giving it to someone who you know won't stand for what you stand for. And I think that's what most Republicans are going to do this time. People vote for who they think will win (which amounts to really throwing away a vote, right? especially in the primaries). Just an observation.

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth

Principles for Interpreting Narratives

I'm using as a handout for our Women's Bible Study on the Book of Esther tonight. This has been an excellent guide over the past couple of years which I keep referring to.



Ten summarizing principles for interpreting Old Testament narratives that should also help you avoid certain pitfalls as you read. (from How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, pg.106)

1. An Old Testament narrative usually does not directly teach a doctrine.
2. An Old Testament narrative usually illustrates a doctrine or doctrines taught propositionally elsewhere.
3. Narratives record what happened – not necessarily what should have happened or what ought to happen every time. Therefore, not every narrative has an individual identifiable moral application.
4. What people do in narratives is not necessarily a good example for us. Frequently, it is just the opposite.
5. Most of the characters in Old Testament narratives are far from perfect – as are their actions as well.
6. We are not always told at the end of a narrative whether what happened was good or bad. We are expected to be able to judge this on the basis of what God has taught us directly and categorically elsewhere in Scripture.
7. All narratives are selective and incomplete. Not all the relevant details are always
given (cf. John 21:25). What does appear in the narrative is everything that the
inspired author thought important for us to know.
8. Narratives are not written to answer all our theological questions. The have particular, specific, limited purposes and deal with certain issues, leaving others to be dealt with elsewhere in other ways.
9. Narratives may teach either explicitly (by clearly stating something) or implicitly (by implying something without actually stating it.)
10. In the final analysis, God is the hero of all biblical narratives.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Quest For More - chapter 1


The new book by Paul Tripp is out. You can read the first chapter at the WTS Bookstore.

Here is the beginning/intro:



A Quest for More
tran.scen.dence: the state of being beyond and
outside of the ordinary range of human experience


The Bottom Line: You were created to be part of something big.


Have you ever wanted to invest yourself in something worthwhile? Have you ever wondered why your life seems to lack meaning or purpose? Have you ever been disappointed when a position, achievement, possession, or relationship failed to fulfill you? Have you ever dreamed that somehow, some way you would be part of something truly great? If so, this book is for you. This book is about having a life that counts for something. It is about living to make a difference. Read the first chapter >>>
Here's another awesome quote that blows the doors open:

"His grace cuts a hole in your self-built prison and invites you to step into something so huge, so significant that only one word in the Bible can adequately capture it. That word is glory."

(H.T. to Green Baggins)

Blessings of Accountability in the Church

“The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.” Proverbs 20:5

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love.” Proverbs 27:5

“What is the friend, who will be a real blessing to my soul? Is it one, that will humour my fancies, and flatter my vanity? Is it enough, that he loves my person, and would spend his time and energies in my service? This comes far short of my requirement... The friend for my case is one, who will watch over me with open rebuke; but a reprover, when needful; not a flatterer. The genuineness of friendship without this mark is more than doubtful; its usefulness utterly paralyzed. That secret love, that dares not risk a faithful wound, and spares rebuke, rather than inflict pain, judged by God’s standard, is hatred. (Lev. 19:17) Far better the wound should be probed than covered. Rebuke, kindly, considerately, and prayerfully administered, cements friendship, rather than loosens its. The contrary instances only prove, that the union had never been based upon substantial principle.” Charles Bridges

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.” Proverbs 12:1

Can't sleep, DST, Psalms

I've got some kind of bug and tried to go to sleep early tonight (last night?). But as of 1 a.m., I've been wide awake and feeling aweful. Not only that, but it's Daylight Saving Time, so somehow that seems to make being awake all night seem even worse.

As usual, I have turned to the Psalms, which almost always seems to be the best antidote for sleeplessness.

Psalm 121
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Dr. David Calhoun, Covenant Seminary, Psalm 121 Download MP3 Audio (less than 20 minutes)

Committing Career Suicide

I do not believe that women should be in combat. Yet, our current war has turned the roles upside down in many cases. We find ourselves engaged in an asymetrical style of fighting where our terroristic enemy most often engages soft targets - civilians, embassies, supply lines, food clerks, etc. And our armed forces, while still holding a ban on women serving in direct combat roles (MOS's), continues to use service support personnel to fulfill combat missions, without calling them that directly. We let the armed forces leaders off the hook, because they don't officially train women as infantry or combat arms (officially). However, we are failing to see the writing on the wall with regard to what is happening in reality. Sept. 11th changed things. Prior to that, service support personnel had a fairly good assurance that they would not be engaging in direct combat. Our current administration has unapologetically accepted the wholesale transformation of forces which has thrust women's roles closer to the front lines and into the combat realm. And I think this trend is wrong.

According to John Piper's arcticle entitled "Co-Ed Combat and Cultural Cowardice," my coming out against women in combat roles could be considered an act of career suicide. So be it. Let's speak up! (H.T. to Between Two Worlds)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Live Victoriously

Another awesome sermon preached by Rev. Dan, entitled "Live Victoriously"

Key Scripture passage: 1 John 5:1-5. Supporting scriptures: Romans 8:28-35, 1 John 5:13, Deut. 6:5, John 16:33, and 1 John 2:15-17. (You might have to push yourself to get thru the sports references at the beginning if you're not into sports, but it's worth it. I know I got quite a bit out of it and thought someone else might like to hear it.)

Key idea that I caught:
Intimacy with Christ thru the Word of God and prayer are His means of grace causing us to know Him and trust Him more and more, so that we are able to live victoriously. There are no substitutes for His means of grace - the Word of God, prayer and the sacraments. Nothing and no one can substitute.

And there is so much more, so listen and watch and tell me what you think.

Comfort with which we are comforted

An excellent article at byFaith Online (the magazine of the PCA denomination)

"There are times when we all long for glory, that Maranatha moment when Christ will wipe away our tears and take away our pain. Every Christian has felt the soreness of our fallen condition. We know that our only hope is in Christ, and that our only comfort in life and death is, as the Heidelberg Catechism explains, 'that we have been bought by the blood of a Savior Who knows our pain and suffering, and cares for us in it.'”

In case you're interested...

Who we are one weekend per month, a couple weeks in the summer, and all of the in between times. Just in case you were interested.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Celebrate Reformation Day on Oct 31st

Ligonier Ministries Celebrate Reformation Day by offering ESV Reformation Study Bibles for $15.17 -- one day only!! This is a real good deal, so if you've been waiting to get one, or know someone who has been wanting one... Go for it - on Wednesday, Oct 31st! (not to be resold.)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Stranger In The House

A few years after I was born, my Dad met a stranger
who was new to our small hometown.
From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting
newcomer and soon invited him to live with our
family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was
around from then on.

As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my
family. In my young mind, he had a special niche.
My parents were complementary instructors: Mom
taught me good from evil, and Dad taught me to
obey. But the stranger...he was our storyteller. He
would keep us spellbound for hours on end with
adventures, mysteries and comedies.

If I wanted to know anything about politics,
history or science, he always knew the answers about
the past, understood the present and even seemed
able to predict the future! He took my family to
the first major league ball game. He made me laugh,
and he made me cry. The stranger never stopped
talking, but Dad didn't seem to mind.

Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest
of us were shushing each other to listen to what he
had to say, and she would go to the kitchen for
peace and quiet. (I wonder now if she ever prayed
for the stranger to leave.)

Dad ruled our household with certain moral
convictions, but the stranger never felt obligated
to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not
allowed in our home... Not from us, our friends or
any visitors. Our longtime visitor, however, got
away with four-letter words that burned my ears and
made my dad squirm and my mother blush.

My Dad didn't permit the liberal use of alcohol.
But the stranger encouraged us to try it on a
regular basis. He made cigarettes look cool, cigars
manly and pipes distinguished. He talked freely
(much too freely!) about sex. His comments were
sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and
generally embarrassing.

I now know that my early concepts about
relationships were influenced strongly by the
stranger. Time after time, he opposed the values of
my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked... And NEVER
asked to leave. He monopolized our dinner time
conversations, walks or tossing the ball around
after dinner was a thing of the past, the stranger
held more interest for us than the outdoors. Books
were no longer purchased or read, we found the
stranger more fascinating than reading.

More than fifty years have passed since the
stranger moved in with our family. He has blended
right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he was
at first. Still, if you could walk into my parents'
den today, you would still find him sitting over in
his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him
talk and watch him draw his pictures. His name...
We just call him, "TV."

A few years ago his wife moved in too!....We call her "Computer."