Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Study of Matthew - Intro

My friend from Virginia and I have decided to study the book of Matthew via email, text and blog. Anyone who wants to add comments to these posts, please feel free to do so.

Authorship: All the early church fathers unanimously held that Matthew was direct author, the same Matthew who was one of the 12 apostles. His name means "gift of the Lord." He was previously named Levi and worked as a tax collector before being called to leave his work to follow Jesus. Some modern critiques believe that Matthew was not the actual author, because the book resembles so much of the Gospel of Mark. However, most serious scholars still hold with the early church that the similarities actually show that Matthew agreed with Mark and that both of their writings bear testimony to the work of Christ.

Context: The date range for the actual writing of Matthew most probably was from the 50's to the very early 60's. Even if Matthew and Luke were written after Mark, it is unlikely that either were written after the book of Acts which was "Luke, the sequel" and ended 63 soon after the last even recorded there.

The recipients of the Gospel of Matthew were Greek-speaking and Jewish. The book is heavily geared toward Jewish characteristics, specifically the fulfillment of OT with the highest number of OT quotes in all the NT. He traces Jesus' descent from Abraham (Luke traces it back to Adam). He uses an abundant amount of Jewish terminology and illustrations from Jewish customs with very little explanation, assuming that his audience was acquainted with these. Although Matthew's Gospel is primarily Jewish, he carefully includes the Gentiles regularly, and of course ends with the capstone of our "Great Commission."

Purpose: To prove to his Jewish readers that Jesus is the Messiah. From his teachings in the Sermon on the Mount to His miracles and ministry in Galilee, Judea, and Perea, to His suffering during Passion week, Jesus is our Messiah.

We hope to spend a considerable amount of time in the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus' parables.

Our Online Study Guide is provided by "Into the Word": this week: The King has Come!

The Gospel of Matthew
The Geneology of Jesus
1 A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
4 Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
6 and Jesse the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife,
7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
9 Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.

12 After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
13 Zerubbabel the father of Abiud,
Abiud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
14 Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Eliud,
15 Eliud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.

Key points:

God is the God of promises. God made the promises, and God keeps His promises!

Faith is not inherited! We cannot get it from our parents or our church, even though our lineage may be passed down for generations.

Faith is personal and relational to Christ for each individual person who is in community with the Church

Jesus is the ultimate humbler; He humbled Himself by taking on the likeness of a mere man.

Jesus' lineage included the improbable, dubious, and even wicked, such as captives, the obscure, and the insignificant—even traders, prisoners, adulterers, murderers, and harlots. By coming as fully man and fully God, only He could ever redeem His people.

And He did - God is faithful.

Questions for Discussion

  • Why does Matthew begin with the genealogy of Jesus? Why is it important?
  • How does knowing that God works through diverse people, regardless of wealth, culture, or position, give you hope and assurance?
  • Before reading this study, did you see or consider that there are great things to learn even from this seemingly obscure passage? How can this help motivate your Bible reading?
  • How can this passage help you know that God makes promises and God keeps His promises through all generations?
  • Can you trust Him with all of your needs, worries, and problems, even if you do not understand what is going on?
  • Christ humbled Himself by taking on the likeness of a mere man; He was still also fully God when He came to this earth. Knowing this, how can you live your life with an attitude of humility?

Monday, July 30, 2007

The world is saved by blood, not Gore

An excellent article on global warming and environmental stewardship from The Henry Institute: Blood, Gore, and Global Warming.

Placing the Al Gore conspiracy theorists in a similar camp with the doomsday fear of the Left Behind series, the author argues for our rightful role in stewardship. While we should indeed recognize the truth that the whole of creation groans for redemption, the cure is in a different man - Jesus Christ our Savior. The recognition of the fact that "the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time (Rom 8:22)" is not our license to shed our stewardship responsibility to take care of it. Of couse, this is my paraphrase... so please visit the real article!!!

Meanwhile, here is an entertaining graphic called an "inconvenient chart" - enjoy...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

From inertia to.. a room mate??

Even though my friend from Virginia cancelled her visit at the last minute, I told her I was really glad we had made plans. It had motivated me to get my act in gear and to clean up around this place! I shampooed the carpets, dusted, organized, went thru closets, cleaned the linen in the spare rooms, and most of all went thru the ungodly, unending piles of junk that I keep accumulating.

Books, letters, prayer requests, magazines!, coupons, buttons?, receipts, business cards, sermon notes, committee folders, Bible study notebooks, journals, backpacks, boots, camo stuff --- it was soo ridiculous and embarassing that I needed something like divine intervention to get me past my inertia. Finally.

Now I'm motivated to actually invite real, live people here again. Maybe not for dinner and formal stuff, because I'm terrible at entertaining, but just to hang out or -- even, possibly, maybe, an actual room mate again, maybe?? Don't get me wrong, I've had plenty of room mates before. I've just had some difficult experiences the last two times, so I've been taking a little break.

So here you go: this is the unofficial blurb ....
Room for rent near UD campus in Newark. Large furnished bedroom and full private bathroom. On street parking. Close to bus routes and train station. Less than 15 minute walk to South Campus. Perfect for a grad student or professional. Christian women only. No smoking/no partying/no sleep-overs. Reasonable Rent.

Caveats: I have a small poodle. Also, if you would rather provide your own furnishings, that can easily be worked out.

If you are interested, email me at deblw at yahoo dot com.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Missional Statement: Worship Our God

As I was reading "The Rent Veil" by Horatius Bonar, I couldn't help thinking about our church's current discussions about being missional and getting the Gospel out to the unchurched. I really, really liked this quote from Chapter 9 as a good way of putting it biblically:

"For ages before God sought a temple, He had been seeking worshippers. He could do without the for­mer, but not without the latter.

His first sanctuary was but a tent; and three thou­sand years had elapsed before He said, Build me a house wherein I may dwell. Yet all this time He was seeking for worshippers amongst the sons of men. By man’s sin God had lost the worship of earth, and He had set Himself to regain it.

1. He wants LOVE. Being the infinitely loveable God, He asks love from man—from
every man; love accord­ing to His worth and beauty.
2. He claims OBEDIENCE. For His will is the foun­tainhead of all law; and He expects that this will of His should be in all things conformed to.
3. He expects SERVICE. The willing and living service of man’s whole being is what He claims and desires,—­the service of body, soul, and spirit.
4. He asks for WORSHIP. He does not stand in need of human praise or prayer; yet He asks for these, He delights in these, He wants the inner praise of the silent heart. He wants the uttered praise of the fervent lip and tongue. He desires the solitary praise of the closet; and still more the loud harmony of the great congregation; for “the Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob,” (Ps. 87:2).

True praise is a “speaking well of God”, (1 Peter 1:3), speaking of Him in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, according to His excellency. “Bless the Lord, O my soul” (Ps. 103:1), “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:3)."


With the veil now rent, we identify with Isaiah in Chapter 6:

1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:

"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory."

4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."
6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar.
7 With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

Simpsons: Satire and paradox galore

The new Simpsons movie is out. What's not to love about a storyline "that champions environmental awareness but vilifies the EPA at the same time." Who can resist the exaggerated straight-laced qualities of Ned Flanders who is loved for honoring his neighbor by showing love to those in need, as well as those who abuse him? And how about the loony antics of a "charismatic" Grampa Simpson in church?

The CT movie review positively writes that "Beneath all the satire and irreverence, there's much love." Yet, as a caution, CT also warns, "If you're not a fan by this point, or if you regularly find yourself offended by the irreverent humor, take a pass, knowing that nothing has changed."

Haven't seen it, but I probably will at some point.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Gossip in our DNA?

From this morning's Today Show... "Gossip might be good for you." The basic premise of the "experts" interviewed is that scientists have now shown that gossip is in our DNA (?). So, based on that assertion, they go on to say that humans have a propensity for gossip and that we need it for psychological reasons. Since it is natural it is supposedly then okay for us to gossip, and in fact the women interviewed believe that gossiping not only helps make us happier, but improves socialization.

It's really hard not to jump all over this one. Even though I'm definitely prone to gossip in certain situations (especially at work), I'm not buying any of this for a minute and I hope that others are smart enough to see through it as well. Considering that one of the "experts" interviewed makes a pretty handsome living as a celebrity gossip columnist, I think I'll just chock this one up to good ole fashion self-justification. Plus, I'm a big believer that biology is not the final word.

1 Cor. 6-11 "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Delight! Psalm 37

Psalm 37
Of David.

1 Do not fret because of evil men
or be envious of those who do wrong;

2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.

3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

4 Delight yourself in the LORD
and He will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:

6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.

9 For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

Here's to taking pleasure, great joy, delight in the LORD today!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Thank you prayer warriors!

For anyone who reads this and who has been praying for my friend "C" (or aka "LT") who has been getting sucked into the Mormon church:
Thank you and Praise God!!

Last night was her final interview before being baptized into the mormon church and I requested all praying hands and hearts on deck! She was sure that she was "feeling" the Holy Spirit during their meetings even though she didn't agree with what they were teaching and even though she didn't appreciate their heavy-handed tactics in getting her there. Basically, their "missionaries" gave her an ultimatum: get baptized or cut the cord for good!

We were praying for her last night, throughout the time of the interview, that God would bind the enemy in Jesus' name and that she would not continue to be deceived and taken advantage of. Praise God, she is free! They told her she failed every single one of the top questions and that even if she wanted to be baptized they could not allow her. And she also said that that "warm fuzzy" feeling that she had gotten in the past was completely gone last night. She knew she had to get out and let them cut the cord.

So, praise God for His mighty answer to our prayers and for "C" breaking free! Now onto praying that she gets connected with true fellowship where she lives in Virginia and that the Holy Spirit would continue to work and draw her to salvation in Jesus Christ.

God is seeing through these fig-leaves!

'God sees through these fig-leaves!' by Thomas Watson, "Body of Divinity"

"My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden
from Me, nor is their sin concealed from My eyes!"
Jeremiah 16:17

If God is a God of infinite knowledge, then see the folly of hypocrisy. Hypocrites (and we are all this to varying degrees) carry it fair with men—but care not how bad their hearts are; they live in secret sin. "They say—How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?" "What does God know? Can He judge through thick darkness?" "God has forgotten, He hides His face, He will never see it!"

But, "His understanding is infinite!" He has a window to look into men's hearts! He has a key to open up the heart. "Your Father who sees in secret." God sees in
secret. As a merchant enters debts in his book, so God has His debt-book, in which He enters every sin!

The hypocrite (me!) thinks to disguise and juggle with God—but God will unmask him. "God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing." "For they have done outrageous things . . . I know it and am a witness to it—declares the Lord." Jeremiah 29:23

"The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Sam. 16:7

--- from Grace Gems

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The truth of God's all-knowing, always-present essence might seem a terrifying prospect, were it not for the atoning sacrifice of Christ on my behalf! Thank you, Jesus! This is the reason that the Gospel is sooo important, even for the long-time believer to remember. We are all hypocrites and pharisees to varying degrees, and what grace it is to be unmasked of our works righteousness!

Praise be to God that as He exposes our hearts, He also applies His mercy, love, and grace throught the Holy Spirit, so that we can believe and trust in Jesus Christ! His superabounding grace and His enabling Holy Spirit give us all we need for walking in humble submission to His will. Dear Lord, continue to guide my steps, day by day, and make me into who You have already made me to be in eternity past and eternity future, in the holy name of Jesus.. Amen!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ginormous God?

The adjective "ginormous" (now officially defined as "extremely large: humongous"), has just this year won a legitimate place in the latest update of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary. As I was reading today's Slice devotion, I couldn't help but remember how immense and awesome our God is. He has given us a secure future and a sure hope. One is not enough without the other. There's no hope if God has not determined a secure future for us. And even a predetermined future is scary without the guarantee of hope. Yet the immensity of a God who is bigger than time and space is too big for words, (especially a strange colloquialism like ginormous). Awesome is probably a much more reverent and accurate adjective. In in any case, I sure hope the next translation doesn't use ginormous :-)

"I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and
not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11).

This scripture reference has been showing up quite a bit the past few days! The Word of God speaks. Amen.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sermon: Christ Bore God's Wrath for Our Blessing

Christ bore the wrath of God for His people,
that we might receive the blessing of God.
Guy Waters' 7/8/07 sermon on Isaiah 59:1-21 and Galatians 3:1-14
Listen Now>>>

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

Ye who think of sin but lightly, nor suppose the evil great,
Here may view its nature rightly, here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the sacrifice appointed, see Who bears the awful load;
’Tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed: Son of Man and Son of God.

Stricken, smitten, and afflicted; see Him dying on the tree;
’Tis the Christ by man rejected, yes, my soul, ’tis He, ’tis He!
’Tis the long expected prophet: David’s son, yet David’s Lord;
By His Son, God now has spoken: ’Tis the true and faithful word.

Arise, My Soul, Arise
1. Arise, my soul, arise,
shake off your guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice,
in my behalf appears;

Before the throne my Surety stands,
Before the throne my Surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.

5. My God is reconciled;
His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child;
I can no longer fear

With confidence I now draw nigh,
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And "Father, Abba, Father," cry.

"I have loved you with an everlasting love & with everlasting kindness have I brought you." -Jer 31:3

Monday, July 16, 2007

Daily manna

"Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread."— Proverbs 30:8
July 16, 2007 Devotion by C.H. Spurgeon

"They gathered manna every morning."- Exodus 16:21.

Labour to maintain a sense of thine entire dependence upon the Lord's good will and pleasure for the continuance of thy richest enjoyments. Never try to live on the old manna, nor seek to find help in Egypt. All must come from Jesus, or thou art undone for ever. Old anointings will not suffice to impart unction to thy spirit; thine head must have fresh oil poured upon it from the golden horn of the sanctuary, or it will cease from its glory. To-day thou mayest be upon the summit of the mount of God, but He who has put thee there must keep thee there, or thou wilt sink far more speedily than thou dreamest. Thy mountain only stands firm when He settles it in its place; if He hide His face, thou wilt soon be troubled. If the Saviour should see fit, there is not a window through which thou seest the light of heaven which He could not darken in an instant. Joshua bade the sun stand still, but Jesus can shroud it in total darkness. He can withdraw the joy of thine heart, the light of thine eyes, and the strength of thy life; in His hand thy comforts lie, and at His will they can depart from thee. This hourly dependence our Lord is determined that we shall feel and recognize, for He only permits us to pray for "daily bread," and only promises that "as our days our strength shall be." Is it not best for us that it should be so, that we may often repair to His throne, and constantly be reminded of His love? Oh! how rich the grace which supplies us so continually, and doth not refrain itself because of our ingratitude! The golden shower never ceases, the cloud of blessing tarries evermore above our habitation. O Lord Jesus, we would bow at Thy feet, conscious of our utter inability to do anything without Thee, and in every favour which we are privileged to receive, we would adore Thy blessed name and acknowledge Thine unexhausted love.

- From "Morning and Evening: Morning Devotional" by C. H. Spurgeon

Friday, July 13, 2007

Deadness of "Doing"

Probably the biggest lesson of this tumultuous week for me has been relearning Grace (as always!) by recognizing the deadness of my "Doing!" The deadness of my pleading with God to love me for what I have "done" and am "doing."

I've been reluctant to post anything because there are just too many things to say, thousands of moments of grace and lessons. Trying to say any one thing would surely cause me to overlook another possibly more insightful thought. But I'll go ahead and bust out a few of the snippets anyway, if only for my own edification:

After spending many hours this week preparing for an inspection of my office and the processes we use, on of my coworkers (and peers) commented to me: "Sometimes you seem a little aloof. But most of the time you seem like are applying for a job. You know like you're on a job interview or auditioning for your position or something. You need to chill out." Hmmmmmm.

I also give classification testing, SATs, ACTs, stuff like that. So, I'm constantly meeting young guys and gals who have a real hard time working out all of the good knowledge that they definitely have in their heads into their pencils and onto the answer sheets, within the time allotted. Well, spiritual pride sneaks up in this too. Oh, I understand how all of this works, how all of these people can do better... blah, blah, blah. But in reality am I really any different? So what if I can take the head knowledge and type out on a keyboard or fill in a bunch of little black dots? On the theological side, my head to heart connection is 10x more bleak than any of my remedial students - by Far!

Then I think of my B+ scorch mark. This came up when I was reviewing my undergrad and grad transcripts and wondering whether I'll be accepted to seminary. I received a B+ in BritLit II for my undergrad. And a B+ in Issues in Cyber Security for my masters. All of my other grades were A's. The BritLit was a conscious decision, since my professor was a buddhist and wanted me to rewrite my final paper so that it didn't have such a similar theme as my midterm paper. Well, I knew what he wanted (compromise) and I refused. The Cyber Security class was completely different. This was a completely Sovereign obliteration of my academic/Works based frame of mind and idolatry. It was March 2006 and I was writing a paper on Electromagnetic Pulse and Potential Cyberthreat. We had just had a women's retreat about peacemaking and the lesson on idolatry was still echoing in my heart and mind. I finished my last paragraph and decided to go to lunch. When I came back, my laptop hard drive was fried. The computer guy said it was an "unexplainable electromagnetic pulse"!!!! Can you believe it?? Talk about worthless idols. This one destroyed itself. My initial reaction, bizzare as it may seem, was to fall on my face and worship God. Seriously! I was overjoyed. Can you imagine?? I had a new outlook on my academic "Doing" from then on.

Finally, there is that pesky calling thing that has been following me around for as long as I can remember. I mean last year all everyone ever heard about from me was "Jonah, Jonah, Jonah." I was sooo Jonah ch 3. Totally ignored God's call and spit out on dry land and being re-commisioned. This year has been much more purposeful and also God has given much more clarity. The calling thing started a LONG time ago. That's why I even went to college to get my degree in the first place, because you really can't serve the Lord in any full-time way unless you have a degree, and I didn't. I quit my job to go to school full-time and then to go into ministry. But instead, I got a job offer as I was coming close to finishing my degree, making three times more than I've ever made in my life. Plus, I had the opportunity to become an officer and have a future as a leader. And I did it all. Big challenges. Lots of lessons. Lots of stories. Lots of growth. But BIG MISTAKE!! And I really, really have a hard time trusting God's Sovereignty with all of this. I fell into a sinful relationship and stopped going to church and a whole bunch of other things. And I'm still dealing with the consequences of a lot of those decisions.

Now, it seems God's totally gotten a hold of my heart and is purifying it and at the same time calling me out of that job and into ???____??? I don't know what?? It is frustrating, okay!

So, as I read a Bible commentary on the "Rich Young Man" in Mark 19:

16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?" 17 And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments." 18 He said to him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 20 The young man said to him, "All these I have kept. What do I still lack?" 21 Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

I had two impressions:
1- Step out in faith. Leave the job. Just do it. Quit, sell the house, and go do mission work.
And 2 - Stop trying to Do things. God doesn't need me to DO stuff. All of my "doings" are dead. The deeds of the flesh whether well meaning or not are not of God. He doesn't need them and they DO nothing to improve my intimacy with Him.

The overriding perspective that I seemed to be getting is - What You're Doing is Dead.
Partly because what I'm doing is because of consequences of my sinfulness and not being obedient to God in the first place. And also because I have this undergirding sense that I'm some kind of a Christian intern. Like I'm trying out for the part. If I do well enough, God will offer me the job. Weird, huh?

Ultimately, my life IN Christ is all that matters and all that counts. All those deeds, whether well intentioned or not, have been nailed to the cross. I bear them no more. They have been crucified with Christ through His blood and His sacrified. The old has gone, the new remains.

His precious love and peace and grace living in me. Alive. Now. Right now.

Thank you Lord Jesus for saving me from my sin and my self-righteous deeds and attitudes. Continue to guide me by the light of your Holy Spirit dwelling within me. Lead me to living streams. Lead me to still water. And help my unbelief. Restore my soul. Lead me in paths of righteousness for Your Name's sake.

In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Update: Another Sermon that speaks appropriately to the idea of "Christian Audition"
»Are You Dying to be Free?
July 16, 2007

Sunday, July 8, 2007

'Grace How Strange the Sound' article link

The theme of this month's Modern Reformation magazine is Grace. Michael Horton's article called "Grace: How Strange the Sound" is the cover article, and all of the articles throughout stem from the main theme.

I haven't read the whole pieced yet, and I'm off the church now. I'm so excited about reading the whole issue later, so I figured I might just go ahead and post a link.

Grace and peace!

How Sweet the Name of Jesus

How Sweet the Name of Jesus
lyrics by John Newton

1. How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer's ear!
It soothes his sorrow, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

2. It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
'Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.

3. Dear Name, the rock on which I build,
My shield and hiding place,
My never failing treasury,
filled With boundless stores of grace!

4. By Thee, my prayers acceptance gain,
Although with sin defiled;
Satan accuses me in vain,
And I am owned a child.

5. Jesus, my Shepherd, Brother, Friend,
My Prophet, Priest, and King,
My Lord, my life, my way, my end,
Accept the praise I bring.

6. Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I'll praise Thee as I ought.

7. 'Til then I would Thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath,
And may the music of Thy name
Refresh my soul in death.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Wimbledon Ramblings

Venus Williams just won her fourth Wimbledon Championship today. Considering her superior skills, style, form, and power, this should not be a surprise to anyone. However, despite all of her overwhelming advantages she appears to have going for her, she entered her sixth Wimbledon final the lowest ranked woman ever to do so (at 23rd) since records began (source: wimbledon.org). Going into Wimbledon she was ranked only 31st!

I identify so much with Venus every time I watch her play, because you can just tell she is her own worst enemy. She allows herself to get down and she starts very often to over think her plays, especially her serves. You can watch her countenance drop and almost see those wheels turning in her mind as she replays the previous point that some how got away from her..

The press headlines assert “Venus once again proves her doubters wrong.” But I’d assert even more importantly that she proves herself wrong, along with her own tendency toward self-accusation.

Her opponent in the finals, Marion Bartoli, was ranked 18th going in. But could have gracefully gone out in anonymous loss in the semi-finals and would have still improved her world standing. Instead, Bartoli knocked of No. 1 and so the pundits were in awe over these two underdogs making it to the finals.

I love seeing the underdog prevail, but have to admit that I was routing for Venus the whole time. Even the pundits could see that Venus, though ranked so much lower than Bartoli, was the clear favorite today. She has the track record and the experience, along with the statistics (even though she is inconsistent). We know how she plays and what she is capable of doing. Bartoli started to rally a bit and made it exciting to watch. I enjoyed the stories about how the French woman completely took her other opponents by surprise because of her unusual and unpredictable style of play. But in the end, I’m just really, really happy for Venus today.

(oh, and BTW- in the post interview she did give Glory to God, so please disregard my previous comment about it...!! )

And here’s the AP article on World Mag.

One more 'random' thought...
The camera panned at one point to the wall of fame for all of the previous Wimbledon winners. The thing that caught my attention was that all of the women's names recorded there were preceeded with the salutation "Miss." This was interesting to me, not because I am in any way a feminist, but because I have occasionally thought it strange that single women in their 30s and 40s would be still addressed in the church as "Miss." I've always assumed that that was really for girls. Adult women should have a different title. But I guess that is my own cultural conditioning. At Wimbledon they're all addressed as "Miss."

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Happy Dependence Day

In so many ways, I'm really very American. The whole spirit of independence and personal autonomy strikes right at the heart of what drives me so very often. And therein lies the rub.

Today while I was skimming Rose Marie Miller's book titled "From Fear to Freedom," I was so struck by the theme of this book and her personal testimony concerning the present value of the blood of Christ.

Of particular interest is her juxtaposition of living like a orphan vs. living like a daughter of God. This was a pervasive theme throughout the book, and in light of my recent issues, I thought it worthwhile sharing the especially instructive contrast that she gives at the end of the book.

From Appendix B on page 161:

Characteristics of an orphan -
  • Life consciously or unconsciously is centered on personal autonomy and moral will power, with grace understood as God's maintaining your own strength -- not as his transforming power.
  • Faith is defined as trying harder to do and be better, with a view to establishing a good record leading to self-justification.
  • Obedience is related to external, visible duties, with attitudes and deeper motivation virtually ignored.
  • "What people think" is represented as the real moral standard, based upon visible success and failure.
  • An I-am-a-victim attitude is supported by coping strategies: wall building, blame shifting, gossiping, and defending. All thisis accompanied by intense feelings of aloneness, believing that no one understands and that one is trapped by circumstances.

Characteristics of a daughter of God

  • Increasing assurance of God as Father through knowledge of the doctrine of the Cross.
  • Building a partnership with God, relying on the Spirit for a willing and obedient life.
  • Forgiving instead of judging and condemning, putting off defensiveness, and learning to listen.
  • Relying on the Holy Spirit to use the tongue for praise and not complaint or gossiping.
  • Seeing by faith God's sovereign plan over one's life as wise and good -- a plan not to be feared.
  • Learning to pray; recognizing that we have no resources, and claiming the promises of God.
  • Relying on the Holy Spirit in going quickly to Christ with sins, burdens, and needs, seeking daily forgiveness and cleansing.

So, guess what? I'm going to sink my chomps into this book tonight, and relearn to turn from my Independent streak to life in the Spirit -- wholly Dependent on God and His Grace. This is my daily bread. May every day be a Happy Dependence Day.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Must Focus on Jesus - not on me...

The past couple of days I've been way too moody and hyper-sensitive, which can be a good thing or not. On the plus side, every thing I read or sermon that I listen to seems to have an amplified meaning and really, really resonates. On the negative side, I'm starting to read into everything. Whenever someone makes a judgemental comment, I ascribe it to myself. I'm the worst, the biggest pain, the creepiest, the outcast, you name it. Praise be to God that His Word turns me away from ME and points me back to HIM. Whether it's hormones, lack of vitamins, fatigue, I don't know what, the point is to focus it ALL back on Him!

1 Tim 1: 12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent (woman), I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

A great reminded of the fact that God has taken me, a person once cut-off from God, His enemy, and has ushered me into His family - into God's own household - He has adopted me as His child by His Grace.


Eph 2: 11Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

We are fellow citizens with God's people. (Even though this world is not our home, I can rest assured that in Christ I've been adopted into God family and no one - not sin or angels or demons or anything - can rip me out of the palm of His hand. Period.)
Rom 5:10 "For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved
through his life!"
Remembering this and totally grateful for the timely reminder. Grace and Peace to all.