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."