Friday, March 30, 2007

'Communion' video

by Third Day with montage from The Passion of the Christ.

Again, He says 'Wait'

God is faithful and He answers prayers! (subtitle: Obsessive compulsive people really should not have broadband)

Yesterday, I could not contain my frustration as I blurted out my demand to know "What do You Want from Me God?" and compulsively emailed a similar note to someone who was probably like 'huh?' [Obsessive compulsive people really should not have broadband:) I hope she will forgive me if she reads this.]

Well, today I got answers galor. Answers to questions I hadn't even asked yet. Just about every thing on my daily reading list spoke directly with a loud, resounding "WAIT!"

Life and Faith are Dishes Served Up One at a Time by Andree Seu for World Mag

Waiting for Spring by Jill Caratini for RZIM

On Waiting in a Long Queue by Ajith Fernando HT Tara B at Considerable Grace

And then there was this quote at the end of my other other devotional by Peter Kennedy:
“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” - Corrie ten Boom

Clearly, I need to make prayer more of a priority as I wait in queue during this season of life as I press on in this walk of faith.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

What does God want?

"What does God want from me??!" I desparately inquired of a Godly woman (who hardly even knows me). And I prayed. Then I remembered Micah 6:8 .

Micah 6:8. "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

But I want answers. What does God want me to do? I mean I know He has been getting my attention for a long time in a lot of different ways. But I really just want Him to come out with it - Go to Minnesota or Africa and be a missionary. Or sell your house and go to seminary. Or - voila, here's your husband, now go get married. I keep wanting Him to make it clear and to make it radical. Quit your job. Sell your house. All of that. But God's so vague. I'm sorry if I'm a bit frustrated. But I am. How do people know for sure - you know - when, where, how and to whom to minister? (Sigh...)

Daily manna. Just for today, I will live by the Word of God:

Act justly - don't look for loopholes to not do what is right always.
Love mercy - never stop looking for opportunity to do good to those in need - giving by grace.
Walk humbly - worm theology - I'm but dust, dead bones. Faith like a child. I have nothing that God hasn't given me and yet I can do nothing apart from the grace of God through Jesus Christ.

Dear Father in Heaven, You are truly awesome, gracious, sovereign, and loving. I am not worthy to be your servant, but you're pleased to call me your daughter - a precious child of the Living God. Dear God, please reveal more of Yourself to me. Please open my heart and my mind to what You would have me to do. Make me willing to be obedient to whatever Your will is - day by day. In Jesus' Holy name. Amen

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Caught Off Guard: Encounters with the Unexpected God

Caught Off Guard: Encounters with the Unexpected God
By William Smith (another great CCEF author)
I just got this book in the mail a couple of days ago and have been extremely busy with finishing work on my grad program... but so far, this book is shaping up to be another awesome pub from CCEF!

Communion and the scattered body

During communion the Sunday before last, one of our elders fell, injured his leg and dropped the communion tray with the bread on it. His injuries were rather serious, but he played it off well and kept from causing any attention to himself.

An amazingly gifted women from our church who I greatly admire was sharing with us a few days later how she had been kneeling, praying on the stairs right below him when the bread went flying off the tray, scattered right in front of where she was praying. She said that she was momentarily shocked, looking at the bread and all of the other people who saw what happened, thinking:
"What should I do? what should I do?"
"Pick it up!" The concept became clear at that moment.

This is Christ's Body, scattered, in our midst.. Gather the pieces
of His Body.
The context of the discussion was whether it would be better to sign up for a new class at church this summer or to play on a team with four unchurched people (two of us are Christians) I met who just started coming to our church to play sports. Should I take on their invite to become a 'regular' member of their team year 'round or go to the church class?

Both would be great, but both are held on the same night. So, I asked for prayer. I'm definitely leaning toward the scattered body.

Torn for the twelve tribes

Petrified Heart by Caedmon's Call

This old heart's been left
Out on my sleeve
and I have paid as it's been rent
into peices

Seems everyone I've loved has
Taken a bit of my insides
I'm scattered as the woman whose body
Was torn for the twelve tribes

When did my heart get so petrified
when did it get so hard to feel
when did my heart get so afraid to love
when did it get so hard

And the easy-living Gnostic proud
Use their knowledge
Like a wrecking ball to tear me down
Flooding me with their fallacies
I can't walk on this water
I'm starting to drown

Strike this rock with your rod
I'll take the blows
Till your living water begins to flow
as it flowed from the man of sorrow's side
on that day when his body
was torn for the twelve tribes

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Friday, March 23, 2007

Almost dismissed this guy ...

I received Johnny Lang's most recent CD in the mail two weeks ago and intended to send it back for a refund. It was sent automatically by my CD club, and when I looked at the cover, I just figured he was just some young pop/bubble gum musician -- a Christian version of one of the NSYNC guys or Backstreet Boys. Wow, was I wrong! This guy is awesome.

TIME Mag: The Case for Teaching the Bible

TIME Magazine's current cover story: "Why We Should Teach The Bible in Public School," by David Van Beima, has totally side tracked me from my Master's thesis (I'm in a big crunch right now! But I couldn't avoid posting - I get excited about this kind of stuff.)

TIME magazine actually makes an excellent case for studying the Bible in public school. And part of the gist of the article dovetails with my earlier posting about the horizontal and vertical aspects of being "missional." Van Beima writes:

"Without the Bible and a few imposing secular sources, we face a numbing horizontality in our culture--blogs, political announcements, ads. The world is flat, sure. But Scripture is among our few means to make it deep."

Okay, I'd take out the part about a few imposing secular sources, or maybe ask him what he thinks they are and perhaps use those as a bridge to further dialogue. However, he is sort of seeing the same trend, I think. These are moments in the arena of public debate that we might see as opportunity to engage.

Here is one snapshot of a high school class discussion as observed by the author of the article:

Explaining why Jesus' famous sermon took place on a mount, (the teacher) reminds the students that Matthew was writing for Jews, and a mount is where Moses received the Ten Commandments. "So, supposedly," she says, "Jesus is the new covenant, the new law, for the Jewish people."

(...snip out some of the discussion about the meaning and application of the Beatitudes...)

Student in the third row: "Does that mean that the Ten Commandments are exceptions?"

(The teacher) Kendrick: "That they're literal?"

Everyone: "Yes!"

Trying to make sense of both this consensus and his possible future, an ROTC cadet notes, "Some people say, 'Thou shalt not kill' is really 'Thou shalt not murder,' and in Ecclesiastes it says, 'There's a time for war and a time for peace.'"

The author's response to these observations:
"I could find little to object to here and much to admire."

Aside from theological critiques of 11th graders, does anyone else see a big, huge open door here? Remember a couple of months ago, TIME featured Albert Mohler, Jr. in the article: "A Calvinist Faces Death." This and that to me are exciting! Okay, back to my research (ugh) ...

Evangelism: One night stand or committed relationship?

Both, And? Scripture gives plenty of examples of brief encounters, but Jesus also calls us to "make disciples." Being missional, I suppose, includes both.

"An expert witness is just some guy from out of town." (Mark Twain reportedly said this). Unless the credibility of the expert can be tested, his or her testimony may be disregarded.
A few years ago, when I took EE for the second time, I found that going out in our teams of three felt a lot like trying to pick someone up in a bar for a one night stand. The means felt similar - a brief and shallow encounter - but of course the ends could not be more extreme: one depraved and the other to God's glory. I think of the one sentence sermon given by Jonah "Forty more days and Ninevah will be destroyed." There were also countless single, short encounters that Jesus had with various women, children, and men. His inspired Word, rightly placed and rightly applied, I believe, can accomplish the same life-transformation even among us today.

In our society, we tend to be really good at having 'brief encounters.' In the media, if you can't get your message across in 1 or 2 minutes, then it is assumed, that you have lost your audience. However, the media is also obsessive about its subjects, so they won't leave them alone. Who have been more committed than the media(albeit often biased and unfair) to Britney or the kidnapped baby or any number of other people in serious trouble or suffering?

In the book "Guerilla P.R." the author writes, "Human nature dictates that we feel for people one at a time." While I don't particularly like a lot of what this book encourages to be successful at P.R., I thought his example here was particularly appropriate. He speaks of the anonymous thousands reported killed by typhoons or tidal waves, who leave us with a momentary pang and perhaps a one time donation to a charity serving there, while that one child suffering with a serious birth defect to whom we are introduced through a more lengthy segment on 20/20 or some news magazine becomes in a way a part of our lives and our reality. It is an interesting justaposition for me to contemplate. Both/and.

So, while reaching out definitely means having a message that is broad and wide rather than ultra-technical (the Gospel!),, we should also assume that as connections are made, we are prepared to go narrow and deep (theology and application) to the marrow of scripture with the person. To me, that means discipleship -- investing time, committment, fellowship and a shared experience of studying God's Word with other believers.

Unlike the proverbial 'one night stand,' we ARE going to share all eternity together before the throne of God, Amen! So, I'm praying that I'll stay open, not only to brief encounters, but also to the hard work of long-term committed relationships when those opportunities arise too.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

PresWIC Conference 2007

Heritage Presbytery WIC presents "Leaving a Legacy of Prayer" with Barbara Miller Juliani, daughter of and co-author with Jack Miller. They wrote "Come Back, Barbara" together and she edited a book of his letters, "The Heart of a Servant Leader." The conference is Saturday, March 24th, from 8:30 to 3:00. Cost: $10.00 - See you there!
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phi. 4:6-7
If you need additional information or still want to sign up, email me deblw at yahoo dot com.

The Reformed Faith by Boettner

A co-worker who reads this blog asked me several questions today about what "Reformed" means. K- Here is the reference I promised: THE REFORMED FAITH - by Mr. Loraine Boettner.

Duty, submission, and arrogance

"Our satisfaction lies in submission to the divine embrace." - Jan Van Ruysbroeck

Duty, submission, and arrogance
The story below reminded me of how I can sometimes approach things that I don't want to do, or the things that I might consider 'beneath me.' Sometimes I just feel too important or distracted by what I think is more important, neglecting other duties I've been called to. May I flee from such arrogance in my daily interactions ...
In August 2002, San Antonio computer consultant David Williamson was called for federal jury duty. The letter told him to keep the month of August free of commitments. Williamson replied he was ready to serve-at his normal rate of $100 per hour. Williamson prepared an invoice for "Court ordered professional services," and sent a bill for $16,800-$100 an hour, eight hours a day, 21 days during the month of August. Williamson's bill warned court officials that the invoice was due at the end of the month, and after that would begin accumulating interest at 2 percent amonth, if not paid.

There was no reply to Williamson's initial invoice, so he mailed it two more times. Williamson did not expect the answer he received. The court sent a form ordering him to report August 26, for a seven-week trial. Williamson wroteback that as a principal partner in a small software firm, he could not missseven weeks of work. He asked that his jury duty be postponed until the following year-as it had been in 2000 and 2001. He added, "If you would like to meet and discuss this, please have his Honor call and schedule anappointment."

U.S. District Judge Fred Biery thunderously replied to Williamson in a fax. It read, "The Court is happy to accommodate Mr. Williamson's suggestion for an appointment: Mr. Williamson is HEREBY ORDERED TO APPEAR in Courtroom 2 of the John H. Wood Jr, United States Courthouse to show cause why he should not be held in CONTEMPT OF THE COURT AND JAILED ACCORDINGLY". The order described Williamson as "arrogant" and asserted that the man had shirked federal jury duty for several years. Court officials said it's rare that a court needs to resort to the threat of jail, but said they did not know what else to do with Williamson. Williamson decided to show up in court.

Submission to God is not easy, but when we do, He makes our lives truly meaningful. Today in prayer, submit your heart to the Lord and make His will your will.

God's Word: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time." - 1 Peter 5:6

By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2007, Devotional E-Mail (copied with permission).

Monday, March 19, 2007

Missional isn't a bad word...

Missional isn't a bad word archived post by Internet Monk
Here's an excerpt:
"There is a profound difference between reshaping the message of the Gospel to fit in with the preferences of the audience and incarnating the Gospel within a culture in a way that removes barriers and establishes as many points of meaningful contact as possible. Missional churches, like good missionaries, do not bring the same methods
and approaches to every situation. While the Gospel does not change, and the
basic shape of Biblical ministry is based on clear New Testament teaching, this
does not mean that all churches look the same, approach ministry the same way,
or “do” evangelism in exactly the same way."

Sunday, March 18, 2007

I'm going missional/emerging!

I've shared this with a few others in my church recently and two of them asked me to post something on my blog, so here goes...

I'm convinced that there are thousands, if not millions, of hurting Christians out there, not participating members in the body of Christ -- what our pastor has occasionally referred to as the "invisible church." Here are just a couple of generic examples:

A woman who used to belong to a pentacostal church where the elders and senior pastor told her that she is living in sin because she is divorced and remarried. (Nevermind the fact that her first husband was a non-believer when she got saved and that HE divorced her.) She loves Jesus, reads the Bible every day, and has a solid profession of faith, but going to church is just too painful anymore so she stopped.

A single man who has had four major health problems in nine years, including mercury poisoning and muscular distrophy, who literally cannot sit thru a sermon because he has been in the charasmatic church so long that he believes that his healing was supposed to be based on his faith, and so now doubts that he is even saved! -- This is the man who evangelized me and invited me to Bible study 11+ years ago!

Another single man who is a former seminary student and former youth pastor who has struggled with sexual temptation for 10 years - but, because he got wrapped up in a church heavily based in theonomy and legalism, he has suffered alone under a shroud of condemnation and isolation for the last 5 years. (he really believed that he has to conquer his sin in order to deserve going to church, not that he would actually say it that way.) Just trying to go to church these past few weeks is like the absolute hardest thing he has done in 5 years.

A young single college aged woman (who, as an aside, was physically abused by two of her male relatives) believes wholeheartedly in the reformed faith and defends the Bible and the creeds to her professors despite the risk of ridicule from her peers (and the possibility of a bad grade), only to be reprimanded by her misguided church leaders that she must remain silent while in church... and then to further scorch her conscience by telling her she should submit even to those male professors (who teach wickedness). Because of the manipulation and oppression from her church, now she only attends the local campus ministry. After she graduates from college, it is highly unlikely that she will easily trust or fit back into the 'visible' church quickly.

And there are more. So many more...

Some will argue that if someone is truly saved - a true disciple of Christ - they must belong to a church. Certainly, our pastor has exhorted his listeners and those present within the congregation of the extreme importance of church membership and body life. But anyone who has been outside the institutions of religion in this country for more than a few hours can testify that young people (all the way up to 40-somethings) have very mixed opinions of the church. (See Dan Kimball's They Like Jesus But Not the Church)

I don't think that our church falls into any of these categories, and I also have a huge heart for these types of folks. They're hurting. I was one of them myself. The very day I plugged back into the church, we started Dietrich Bonhoeffer's "Life Together" and that has completely changed my outlook toward the church and the importance of fellowship. I want to share that passion with hurting people like those above, people like me.

So one of the areas I'm praying about is our assimilation team. One of the leaders of this group talks about the "postmodern culture" we are dealing with, but he also says that in order to hold out true hope we must hold fast to the primary doctrines of faith - particularly THE GOSPEL, meanwhile avoiding controversial issues and secondary doctrines. That sounds like a very missional approach (maybe not emerging though). Okay, missional.

Another personality test; it's cute

Draw a Pig ...
give it a try..

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Bono on youtube for St. Patrick's Day...

Bono: "We're gonna have to love a lot more people."

(Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is to share an inspiring message given by Bono - not any type of endorsement of the NAACP in its present practice.) HT: Today at the Mission

Monday, March 12, 2007

'The Power of Modesty' this Saturday

GRPC presents: "The Power of Modesty" featuring former model Teresa Coelho. Come hear an edifying message, see the Spring Fashions on the GRPC 'catwalk,' with a background of Christian music and a scrumptious luncheon. See ya there! (March 17th 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

'The Ultimate Gift' recommended by respected critic

Just out is the new film titled 'The Ultimate Gift.' Movie viewers give it 10 out of 10, while the professional critics only give it 5 out of 10 (which usually says something about the quality of the message - ie, too goody 2-shoes for Hollywood). Haven't seen it, but it comes recommended by a respected friend and critic.

The film is not particularly Christian, but supposedly offers 'wholesome' family entertainment with good ole American values. Let me know if you've seen it and what you think.

Tagline: Life is how you live it... not how you spend it.

Cast: James Garner... Red Stevens Abigail Breslin... Emily Drew Fuller ... Jason Stevens

Monday, March 5, 2007

Why the Westminster Confession? Why Today?

Thoughts on the relevance of the WCF today from Chad Van Dixhoorn, Reformation21's favorite "Reformed Library Super-Sleuth."

Very helpful article, as I'm get back into reading "Westminster Confession of Faith: For Study Classes" by G. I. Williamson. Creeds and confessions are important doctrinal summaries that improve my beliefs and ground my worldview in the truths of scripture.

"Is it faith to understand nothing, and merely submit your convictions implicitly to the church?" - John Calvin

Purpose-Driven or Promise-Driven?

As we continue to study from the book Treasures of Faith, I'm again reminded that we are heirs of our Lord's great Covenant of Grace, including the promises dating back to the patriarchs of the OT. We are adopted children of God and live under the promises of His covenant.

"If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Gal. 3-29)

"‘Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great’” (Gen. 15:1)

Dr. Michael Horton writes in a 2005 edition of Modern Reformation Magazine:

"Even as Christians, the law (in its third use) can direct us, but it cannot drive us, except to either despair or self-righteousness. Christians are not purpose-driven, but promise-driven. Purposes are all about law. To be sure, at least in Christian discourse, some promises may be mentioned, but they are usually dangled as the carrot for fulfilling the conditions that have been laid out. If you did that with the real Ten Commandments—something like, 'Do this and you shall live' (Lev. 25:18), people would catch on: 'That’s legalism!' But the therapeutic version (easy-listening law) flies under the radar: 'Hey, here are a few helpful principles based on God’s instruction manual that will help you get victory in your life.'”

Read the article online>>> The Promise-Driven Life by Michael Horton

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Alternative to Wikipedia

In my ever-increasing (and soon coming to an end-woooowhoooo!) graduate workload, I can't help but grimace at Wikipedia's unbelievable anti-Christian and anti-American content. Wikipedia - you know, the site that is always #1 or #2 on every single Google search. Well, a new site called Conservapedia, launched last fall, by Andy Schafly (son of Phyllis), provides an alternative, but really does have a long way to go in terms of content! Looks promising...
Better yet: here is an excellent theological alternative to wikipedia - Theopedia.
Really rich content, completely biblical and theologically accurate.

The Pharisee & The Publican

Luke (18:9-14) deals with:

"two kinds of righteousness, which are found on earth... the one, which makes a great show before all the world and in the eyes of men, and yet before God it amounts to nothing, and is therefore condemned; the other, which is not known among men, and yet before God it is called righteousness and is pleasing in his sight. The one is that of the beautiful, proud saint, the Pharisee; the other, that of the poor, humble, sorrowing sinner, the publican."

from The Sermons of Martin Luther, Vol 4 Pages 349-369

I suppose we are all Pharisees. But it doesn't it just hurt and betray our trust a little when we are treated as the Publican by a supposed friend: "God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this Publican."

ver. 13: "And the Publican standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his
eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a

May we be merciful to one another, just as God has been merciful to us. And please don't say "of course I forgive you," then bear false witness and hope that God would keep you from ever having anything to do with this sinner again. We are all sinners, and in our sinful nature, we are all Pharisees too.

"for we are all self-righteous by nature; it is as natural for us to turn to
a covenant of works, as for the sparks to fly upwards" - George
Whitefield, Sermon 34

Even God's appointed ministers of grace live more like Pharisees when face to face with the Publican.

But.. Eph 1:3 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding."

Thursday, March 1, 2007

“Unintentional singleness” - at By Faith Online

An article on Christian Singles by the PCA's By Faith web magazine explores Connally Gilliam's new book, "Revelations of a Single Woman: Loving the Life I Didn’t Expect."

Here are just a few interesting excerpts:
"The chaos singles experience stems not only from a deconstruction of boundaries, but from the transience of our culture. In the whirlwind of change—vocational, geographic, marital—friends come and go, leaving hard-to-fill gaps and holes. 'Unlike the TV show,' Gilliam writes, 'friends don't always stay around for 10 seasons ... . After a while you can start to feel as if various parts of you are poured out into many people and places..'"

"With roughly 12 million more single women than single men in the evangelical church, it's statistically impossible for all female Christian singles to marry. "
Read the article>>>