Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A New Year's Prayer

John Piper wrote this in today's Desiring God email:

So here at the beginning of 2009, I join James Morgan in saying, “I love Jesus Christ.”

And as I say it, I want to make clear what I mean:

I admire Jesus Christ more than any other human or angelic being.
I enjoy his ways and his words more than I enjoy the ways and words of anyone else.
I want his approval more than I want the approval of anyone else.
I want to be with him more than I want to be with anyone else.
I feel more grateful to him for what he has done for me than I do to anyone else.
I trust his words more fully than I trust what anyone else says.
I am more glad in his exaltation than in the exaltation of anyone else, including me.

Would you pray with me that in 2009 we would love Jesus Christ more than we ever have? And may our Lord Jesus grant that from time to time we would deliver quietly and naturally a thunderclap into the hearts of others with the simple words, “I love
Jesus Christ.”

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8).

Happy New Year!

Off to a family gathering and wishing the 15 or so regular readers here a Very Happy New Year!

Meanwhile, check out Pyromaniacs' Out with the Old>>>

Holiness of God Conference

March 19-21 / Orlando, Florida

I'm really looking forward to this one!


"For the sake of the Gospel we must never negotiate the holiness of God. I hope that you will join us in March as we look once more at His transcendent majesty." - R.C. Sproul

Legalism and the weaker brother - Romans 14

I've been involved in a discussion with a pastor on the topic of the "Weaker Brother" in Romans 14. We are on two different sides of the "Weaker Brother" brother debate. In his opinion, "Weaker Brothers" are mostly legalists, and most of the people who argue from the "Weaker Brother" perspective are legalists.

Are some people who use the 'weaker brother' argument legalists? Possibly.
Although, Paul used it and he was the most anti-legalist I can think of.
Is the 'weaker brother' Paul is talking about in Romans 14 a legalist? Absolutely not!
In scripture, legalists are the Pharisees, the Galatian Judiazers, or the older brother in Luke 15. They are almost always the prideful, "stronger" brothers or sisters.
Rather, Paul describes weaker brothers as tender souls who are entrusted to the care of the shepherds of the church in Rome.

In Romans14, Paul was exhorting those of stronger faith to not exercise their Christian liberty in a way that would cause those of weaker conscience to sin - don't flaunt your freedom.
This matter of exercising Christian liberty was NOT about proving wrong a bunch of legalists who were trying to impose their viewpoints on a bunch of young, idealistic pastors in the emerging New Testament church.
This was the well-seasoned, mature, founder of many early churches, Paul, looking out for new converts from a Gentile culture, riddled with extreme idol worship, passing into the holy communion of Christ-worshipping believers.
While I'm quite sure that converts from Judaism in Paul's day (much like the millennial/ emerging pastors of today who are rebelling against the legalism of fundamentalist churches), would have greatly desired to celebrate their liberty in Christ, Paul is pretty up front about how and why those of stronger faith should not give occassion for more tender believers to sin.
Paul also does not state, as some are inclined to believe, that we should 'teach Christian liberty' to weaker believers. While the knowledge and understanding of who we are in Christ can release us from false beliefs, it in no way validates teaching moderation when it comes to matters of conscience, which would amount to giving license to sin.
Those believers who have offered themselves as living sacrifices, to be transformed by the renewing of their minds, and to no longer be conformed to the pattern of this world, have no need for moderation. And let's not forget, leaders will be held to a higher account.

Meanwhile, I grant, those of us concerned for our newer or more tender of faith members should be gracious toward stronger brothers or sisters whose consciences are not as seared and wounded from being immersed so much in worldly ways. And we cannot allow the 'weaker' brothers and sisters to believe that their righteousness rests in abstaining from that certain thing about which they are convicted.

In either case, it seems fairly clear that the principle take away from Romans 14 is that love takes precedence over personal liberty (guarding against legalism is not Paul's point at all here).

Monday, December 29, 2008

Cute video - I think my wife's a Calvinist

I could relate to this and got a good chuckle, even though I'm not a wife...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Hardwired for Glory: a book review of A Quest for More


A Quest For More: Living for Something Bigger Than You
By Paul David Tripp


A book review by Deb Welch


What do a beauty pageant, the World Series, and a presidential election campaign all have in common that can teach us about God and our own purpose?

Paul David Tripp uses examples like these to help show us how every single one of us has been created by God with a deep desire for transcendence – a need to belong to something bigger than we are. In the first chapter, he lays out the framework that will undergird the rest of the book. Ultimately, as human beings, were all hardwired to live for God’s glory.

Yet, ever since the fall, our lives are not what they should be any longer. The effects of this fallen world have led to each one of us constricting our lives to the shape and size of our present circumstances. The result is that each one of us has narrowed our life purpose to building our own “little kingdoms.”

Whether our little kingdom consists of our jobs, our families, our homes, our achievements, or other possessions, we have forsaken the “big kingdom” of God’s glory for a much smaller replacement that will never satisfy. Hence, we find deep within us a longing to find something more meaningful, such as the beauty queen who wants to end world hunger, the loyal fan of the championship baseball team or a zealous proponent in a history-making election.

Even as Bible-believing Christians, we have an ongoing tendency to forget who we are and what we were made for. Mr. Tripp writes:


“There is something expansive, glorious, and eternal that is meant to give direction to everything you do. And when you lose sight of it, you have effectively denied your own humanity."
In later chapters, he compels us to be committed sojourners in God’s ‘big kingdom’ life, and not satisfied with a mediocre walk with Jesus. While much of the material can seem a bit repetitive i n those later chapters, Mr. Tripp's case is reinforced by the hundreds of little ways that sin still has its way in our lives, as we shrink God down to the size of our own little kingdoms. At the same time, he invites us to passionately pursue more than our little kingdoms. He points us to Christ as king. In the glorious company and presence of God, we are transformed into Christ’s image bearers who now have eternal impact in this lost and fallen world.

This is a very good book that will challenge new believers and seasoned Christians alike. Even though Mr. Tripp currently serves as a faculty member at both Westminster Theological Seminary and the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation in Philadelphia, he has written an easily accessible and quick read for every level of reader, regardless of their theological and doctrinal background.
###
12/15/2008
dlw

Online resources on this book:
Video of Paul Tripp on "Quest”
Read Chapters 1-3 – in PDF

Related to this topic:

Sunday, December 21, 2008

What Christmas is All About



"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not, for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you this day is born in the City of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.' That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." - from A Charlie Brown Christmas

Monday, December 15, 2008

To make his blessings known, far as the curse is found

Quote from "A Quest for More" by Paul Tripp
"As his child, when you get up in the morning you awake to a huge kingdom. It courses back through history and extends to before the foundations of the world were set in place. It extends forward in time to endless eternity. It encompasses every location known and unknown, every situation of every kind, every person and every created thing. The goal of this kingdom is the complete restoration of every last thing that was damaged by the fall. You must no longer live for yourself. Grace has led you through the door to something more and better. Grace calls you to shape your living to the contours of this amazing work of restoration. As the great old Christmas carol proclaims, "He comes to make his blessings known, far as the curse is found." ("Joy to the World")" ....


"You have been chosen to transcend—to transcend the boundaries of your own hopes and dreams, to transcend the boundaries of your own plans and purposes, and to transcend the borders of your own family and friends. You have been chosen to transcend the furthest reach of your own definition of glory to be part of a greater glory, the glory of God and his work of making all things new." pgs 45-46

READ THE WHOLE FIRST THREE CHAPTERS at MONERGISM.COM

What Would Jesus Twitter?

UPDATED: I had the wrong link. This one should have the right link.

Scott Thomas wonders what some Bible characters' status updates would have looked like on facebook and



From Acts 29 Network>>>

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Caroling Chins, Taking Your Requests

Just enter the name of your favorite carol below and the singing chins will perform for you. I thought this was cute and might give a peak into what could happen if I ever joined the choir!



My personal favorite is "Angels We Have Heard on High" (or you can just type "Gloria") Enjoy!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Advent Question: Do We Want to Be Delivered?

In RZIM's Slice of Infinity today, Jill C. writes:
"Advent is a time of anticipation not for the harmless baby surrounded by lights and presents, but for the dynamic savior who is born into our midst in a way that must forever change us.
"Do you want to be delivered?" asked Dietrich Bonhoeffer in an Advent sermon more than 70 years ago. "That is the only really important and decisive question which Advent poses for us. Does there burn within us some lingering longing to know what deliverance really means? If not, what would Advent then mean to us? A bit of sentimentality. A little lifting of the spirit within us? A little kinder mood? But if there is something in this word Advent which we have not yet known, that strangely warms our heart; if we suspect that it could, once more, once more, mean a turning point in our life, a turning to God, to Christ--why then are we not simply obedient, listening and hearing in our ears the clear call: Your deliverance draws nigh!"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Candlelight services, more fun for kids

Prodigal John at Stuff Christians Like posted a new blog on Giving Open Flames to Kids on Christmas Eve>>> which made me giggle.

I was thinking about Christmas Eve Candlelight Services the other day and why we Christians like them so much. As kids, we loved those special occasions when we got to play with candles and do things together by candle light. However, having come from a non-Christian household, when we used candles, they were mainly for creating a new age -type ambience. I still get a little touchy about the whole candle thingy. Plus, today, I seem more concerned about dripping melted wax onto the pews or the people in the pew next to me. When I was kid, it was all about the excitement of the open flame.

On the more spiritual front, Christmas is a yearly reminder of the light that entered the world to save us - the first coming of Christ. Like a star shining on the backdrop of night. In John 9:5, Jesus tells us: "While I am in the world, I am the light of the world." And now we await patiently, anticipating His glorious second coming as well and being sanctified by His Holy Spirit.

I guess I'll just go ahead end this ramble with my favorite Christmas carol:

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O holy night, O night divine!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Thoughts on that "Other Open Senate Seat"

With the current raging scandal happening in Illinois over Obama's open Senate seat being up for sale, I thought I'd make a comment from the 'other' open senate seat here in Delaware.
In January, Joe Biden's senate seat will be filled for the next two years by one of Biden's close senior policy advisors - Ted Kauffman -- by appointment of the outgoing governor.

In reviewing possible considerations for this seat, the Delaware governor was told by Senator Biden that his son should be taken off the list:

" Beau has made it clear from the moment he entered public life, that any office he sought, he would earn on his own," Biden said. "If he chooses to run for the Senate in the future, he will have to run and win on his own. He wouldn’t have it any other way."

Meanwhile, he is in Kuwait on his way to Iraq to serve with my old unit. In 2010, he and any other potential candidates will be running from a "level playing field" for the vacant spot. Most are elated that the outgoing governor did not appoint herself, as many suspected might happen. She did not do it. Some criticize the governor and Senator Biden for not appointing outgoing Lt. Gov. Carney to position; however, Carney (the political heir apparent to the current governor's seat) lost the primary for governor to a political newcomer, because Delawareans decided to elect a political outsider. The bottom line is that appointing Carney or Biden could have made the voters mad and the politicians look bad, so they tried to "level the playing field" and get this seat right.

A bit underplayed, this is definitley a more honorable way of handling "the other open senate seat," as compared to what we're seeing in Illinois, despite some of the criticism that we Delawareans still read and hear about the Bidens and 'motives' and such.

In many other states, there is a tradition of having a spouse or favored son fill the vacant seat, until a general election can be held in the next cycle. Some have questioned this for a variety of reasons, but the Bidens seem extremely sensitive to matters of propriety and for that I'm somewhat impressed.

Besides, where did that rule ever come from anyway? A spouse or son/daughter automatically stepping into the vacated seat? I mean, does anyone think that Michelle Obama ought to be the next in line for Barack's job? (What about Chelsea in New York?) Anyway, weird tradition, huh?

Monday, December 8, 2008

How do they do it???

I think those incredibly talented writers at RZIM must have been following me around the past couple of weeks. Well, not really. I think it is just God. Let me rephrase that. It must be the sovereign God of the universe who cares and knows exactly what we all need working through His people for His people. With impeccable timing.

Isn't it amazing how that happens? We think the sermon/devotional/magazine article, etc. was written just for us. Meanwhile, hundreds, maybe thousands, or tens of thousands, or perhaps even millions, depending on the medium, of people are saying the same things as the listen to, read or watch the message. We are not unique. The Gospel is for us all. Amen!!
Hope you enjoy these devotionals.

12/08/2008Awakenings
Excerpt:

"If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Corinthians 15:19-20). Like children waking to consciousness, we shall one day forever wake to life and true humanity. Something in us knows that Christ is near, right at the door, longing to show us even now. Might he find us ready this Advent for something new and something we have known all along.

12/05/2008Beautiful Foolishness
Excerpt:

“For God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are” (1 Corinthians 1:27-28). It is indeed difficult to explain why at the heart of the Christian narrative there is a child, why God would answer the dark silence of 400 years with the cry of a displaced and homeless infant, why God would take on the weakness of humanity in an attempt to reach humanity with power.

12/03/2008Far Away From Home
Excerpt & Quote:

“The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, who look forward to something greater to come. For these, it is enough to wait in humble fear until the Holy One himself comes down to us, God in the child in the manger. God comes. The Lord Jesus comes. Christmas comes. Christians rejoice!” -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

12/02/2008Waiting Expectantly

12/01/2008"Stay Awake!"

Infamy, reward, duty - GRACE


Yesterday was the 67th year since the day that will live in infamy for our country -- the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

And it was the day when the Army held its official recognition of my retirement and four others who retired earlier this year. I was honored to receive the Meritorious Service Medal for 23 years of service to the military.

The superb irony is that if not for the grace of God, my life would also have also been one characterized mainlyof infamy. It is for me a wonderful juxtaposition to receive this recognition and honor on such a day as this. It truly reminds me of the amazing power of God to tranform individual lives, as well as communities and even national character.


In truth, I don't need this reward, because I know my ultimate reward is in heaven. I also know that seeing each of the many young people who I had the pleasure and honor to lead and serve grow with great courage and character is more of a reward than I would ever need in this life anyway. However, I will admit that I am very grateful for the recognition by my former organization. Thank you for letting me serve in this way. And thank you Lord for encouraging me and others with this awesome testimony to You.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Revisiting the Myth of Chronic Uniqueness

Quote from Fred B. at Route 59:
Realize that you aren't alone in your own battle.
"We tend to isolate ourselves in our struggles, thinking that, "Look. Everyone else has it ALL together. No one struggles with _______ like me. I'm the only one." My wife calls it the "Myth of Chronic Uniqueness." This sense that we are alone in our struggles makes us reticent to share those burdens with others. But the irony is that is that if we only knew the struggles others are facing, we wouldn't feel so alone, and we could fight those battles together. More than likely, your brother or sister in Christ is fighting the same battle you are. And only when we let each other know what's really going on will we be able to truly bear one another's burdens and encourage one another in the fight. "

This was a great reminder for me and I hope that you are blessed by it!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Disenfrancished at Advent

I've been thinking a lot lately about writing some material on life as an older single in Christendom.

Last Sunday, the first day of Advent, I heard a sermon preached by my very good old friend Bill C. called "Christmas: Her side of the story." He preached from Matthew 1 on Jesus's lineage, and one of his key points dealt with Rahab in Jesus's lineage. Rahab risked her life and gave up her entire culture, worldview, friends, and security to help God's people and to be a part of their community.

Yet, Rahab was never allowed to become a full-fledged member of their covenant community. This part of her story seems painfully similar to mine. Sometimes, I feel like this is my lot too. At times it can seem like no matter how hard I try, I'll never have the same depth of ties to all the "covenent stuff" that the families in our church have.

The Good News is that as I joyfully try to find ways to serve in the body of Christ, by Faith, I know that I have my (we have our) only true hope in Christ, which is in a sense deferred until His return. However, just like Rahab had no idea that the lineage of the Messiah would come thru her offspring, we have no idea what the eternal impact of lives will be. We are called to trust God on this and that is in large part with faith for me is.

But I still wonder how often she felt the pain and sorrow and darkness of being a perpetual outsider? Did it ever make her think that she made a bad deal? Did she ever wonder whether God was too harsh and demanding? Did she ever feel tempted to return to what was comfortable and familiar? What kept her faith from sinking into the abyss? How did she avoid slipping off into oblivion?

I also wonder how many other people in our churches sometimes feel like they are any less than full covenant member in their churches, while being aliens and pilgrims in the world? I know that it sure can get pretty desolate out here every once in a while.

Here's the amazing truth of the New Covenant -- WE ARE ALL FULL COVENANT MEMBERS IN CHRIST - Jew/Gentile, Free/Slave, Man/Woman, Married/Single. Christ came to reconcile us - to repair our "disenfranchisement" from Him and His people. Let us not believe otherwise!!! And let us encourage each other with this truth!

What to do about that chain-email-sender person

Ever wonder how to confront that one friend who hits forward on every single, possible "Christian-flavored" chain email message they get?
Jon At Stuff Christians Like has the solution on "How to Break the Chains">>>

It's hilarious! I can't wait to forward it to the 454 contacts in my email address book. LOL No wait. That's why I have this blog thing. Nevermind.

Using X to replace Christ in Christmas has a long, sacred history

From R.C. Sproul at Ligonier Ministries:
There's a long and sacred history of the use of X to symbolize the name of Christ, and from its origin, it has meant no disrespect.

Read the entire article>>>

Updated:
And now for the counterpoint on the use of "X-mas" let's have a look at what the "Christmas Linebacker" has to say:

Thursday, December 4, 2008

More on Legalism from Miscellanies

My favorite quote from Tony's piece:

"Rules are not the problem. The great irony (and danger) of legalism is this: If you think God is more pleased with you because you take your child to a soccer game instead of church, if you think God is more pleased with you because you do not live by rules, and if you think God is more pleased with you because you do drink alcohol—you are just as legalistic as the man who thinks that perfect church attendance, lists of rules, and abstaining from alcohol makes him more pleasing to God."

A little more than a month ago Tullian Tchividjian wrote an article similar to Tony's, which I blogged about: God, I thank you that I'm not like... the Pharisees?

This is a recurring theme for me. Guess it's time for me to really get it, eh?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What Child is This? or Christmas According to Paul

Gal 4:4-5
4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born
of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so
that we might receive adoption as sons.

Read the entire article at Ligonier Ministries>>>

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sin: A moral inability, not a natural one

An excerpt that is amazingly helpful to me and hopefully will be for you too:

"the sinner's inability to obey God does not nullify his duty to do so. This is a crucial point—perhaps the most crucial point of all—because it is the very point that ultimately distinguishes true Calvinism from both Arminianism and hyper-Calvinism. Both Arminians and hyper-Calvinists will protest that it is illogical or unjust to teach that God demands what sin renders us incapable of doing.

But it is neither illogical or unjust. Sin itself is a moral issue, and since sin is the cause of our inability, it is, as Jonathan Edwards said, a moral inability, not a natural one. The defect in man is his own fault, not God's. Therefore man's own inability is something he is guilty for, and that inability cannot therefore be seen as something that relieves the sinner of responsibility."
Excert from Phillip Johnson

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Quote of the Day

HT: Crossroads: Where Faith and Inquiry Meet
"What I have seen in the past 10 years of traveling - performing at a church one day and a casino the next - is that a lot of people in the church want to be entertained, and people in casinos want to be ministered to. That's hard to understand, but I see a hunger in theworld that I don't see in the church." - Ricky Scaggs

Ref: billygraham.org

Friday, November 28, 2008

The errors of hyper-calvinism

I'm such a geek. I thought this was such an awesome article that I had to stop decorating my Christmas tree to read it! It details 5 types of errors held by hyper-calvinists. Very helpful and interesting, especially if your arminian friends try to intimidate your reformed beliefs by making claims that don't match what you believe. I think Mr. Johnson's "types" help to connect the dots on where arminians and hyper-calvinists tweak a bit too far one way or the other. Good stuff (via JT at Between Two Worlds.)
Primer on Hyper-Calvinism by Phil Johnson>>>

Black Friday Tradition

For the past three years, I have made a tradition out of going to my local Staples stores at 5:30am and standing line so I could take advantage of this awesome deal:

Norton Internet Security for 3 computers $68.99
-9.00 instant rebate
-40.00 easy rebate
-20.00 upgrader rebate
=free

+H&R Block TaxCut Federal/State/E-file 2008 for $49.99
-30.00 easy rebate for purchasing with Norton
=19.99

Total: $19.99 for Internet Security for 2009 for 3 computers and for e-filing my taxes. in January.

That's an awesome deal. Well, this year, I was able to take full advantage of that deal by ordering online from the comfort of home. No standing in line. Free Shipping (by Tuesday, Dec. 2nd). And I filled out 2 of the 3 rebates immediately online when checking out with just a few simple clicks.

My initial outlay is 109.98, but I'll be getting 90.00 back in rebates (which makes them almost free). If you need these for 2009, I'd recommend it to you.

Plus, you can order most of the other items featured in the flyer without a shipping charge too for Christmas gifts. (I took advantage of a couple of those too). Happy shopping :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Just for Fun on Thanksgiving





Happy Thanksgiving

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” – Psalm 100:4.



“Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude.” – E.P. Powell



“Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” – Psalm 103:2



“Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.” – Psalm 95:2



"The children of God are expected to 'abound in thanksgiving.'" - F.F. Bruce



“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.” – Psalm 136:1



"Thanksgiving means giving thanks to the one true God." - Charles Colson



“I thank my God every time I remember you.” – Philippians 1:3



"Giving thanks is one course from which we never graduate." - Valerie Anders



“I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Corinthians 1:4

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mid Life and Advent: Reflections From a Pile of Leaves

Mid Life and Advent: Reflections From a Pile of Leaves

Two years ago, I began entering into what some call the ‘autumn of life.’ The reality of mid-life left me feeling as though I was sinking in my own pile of leaves – a series of family relationships, friendships, more than 25 years of hard work, six years of college, and yes, even ministry efforts that seemed fruitless now. All wrinkled and dry, those leaves of the past were gone and could not be put back on the trees of my life. Yet, no matter how tempting it seemed, I knew I could not sit down there in midst of the pile and examine each and every shriveled leaf, wishing it were not so. It simply was what it was: autumn. And spring time was a long way off.

That early December morning, the grace of God broke through. My autumn reality collided with Advent, which is the celebration of the coming of Jesus Christ into this world. Vulnerable and broken as my life felt, I remembered our Savior and how very much in need I was at that moment for the truth of the Word of God made flesh and how He came to dwell among us. As I read the account of the nativity in the gospels, the gentleness and pureness of the Christ’s birth was made alive to me. God’s gift came to us, wrapped in the meekest and most precious of packages we could ever receive. His one and only son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as a newborn babe, had come to me.

In that celebration of the first coming of Christ, I was reminded that our God is the Lord of new seasons and new birth. I longed for the time when even those poor, old, tattered, naked and vulnerable trees would again be made new: growing bright and adorned with new beautiful leaves, as they experienced their new seasons of life. Even more importantly, the tatters of my own broken life were being made new and covered with Christ’s own righteousness, which was better than any of the leaves sown in this world. It was when I realized that my leaves would never be sufficient and that it was Christ’s righteousness alive in me that matters, that the autumn of my life turned the corner to Advent.

Today, the seeds of a new, glorious season are being pressed into the soil of my life and the very presence of Christmas is made real every day that I remember the Truth.


by Deb Welch

(I owe Paul Tripp a debt of gratitude for the leaves metaphor here. He uses it in one of the chapters of his book, “Lost in the Middle: Mid Life and the Grace of God.”)

The Cultural Crisis Infiltrates the Church in America

Some very interesting thoughts from leaders across the spectrum of Evangelicalism:

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Quote of the Day: False Choices in Contemporary Christianity

"On all sides Christians are being pressed to make false choices: doctrine or life, orthodoxy or orthopraxy, conviction or humility, faith or works."

- Micheal Horton, The White Horse Inn

A hero and a fool, a saint and a felon

This is a great reminder as I go into the final months of my role with the local WIC Committee:

"Paul calls leaders not merely to be humble and self-effacing but to be desperate and honest. It is not enough to be self-revealing, authentic, and transparent. Our calling goes far beyond that. We are called to be reluctant, limping, chief-sinner leaders, and even more, to be stories. The word that Paul uses is that a leader is to be an 'example,' but what that implies is more than a figure on a flannel board. He calls us to be a living portrayal of the very gospel we beseech others to believe. And that requires a leader to see himself as being equally prone to deceive as he is to tell the truth, to manipulate as he is to bless, to cower as he is to be bold. A leader is both a hero and a fool, a saint and a felon.

We are both and to pretend otherwise is to be disingenuous. The leader who fails to face [his or her] darkness must live with fear and hypocrisy. The result will be a defensiveness that places saving face and controlling others as higher goods than blessing others and doing good work. Clearly, the biblical model of leadership is odd, inverted, and deeply troubling. It is so troubling that most churches, seminaries, and other religious organizations would never hire a 'chief sinner.' The only one who thinks to do so is God."

Dan Allender in Leading With A Limp, p 57.

מרנא תא

“For just as spring break is a taste of summer time in the midst of the semester, so also the kingdom of God is present in the midst of history, as we taste of its blessings now, and look forward to the summer time of God’s kingdom when Christ returns, the Holy City the New Jerusalem descends, and the whole creation is restored in new heavens and the new earth. Amen, come Lord Jesus.”

- David Naugle, “The Gospel of the Kingdom of God” via Of First Importance

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Making All Things New: The Lifestyle

by David Powlison

"What was the first trumpet call of the Reformation?

It was not the authority of scripture, foundational as that is. Scripture is the very voice, face, and revelation of God. A Person presses through the pages. You learn how He thinks. How He acts. Who He is. What He's up to. But "Scripture alone" did not stand first in line.

It was not justification by faith alone, crucial as that is. We are oily-rag people. Christ is the garden of light. We are saved by His doing, His dying, His goodness. We are saved from ourselves outside of ourselves. No religious hocus-pocus. No climbing up a ladder of good works, or religious knowledge, or mystical experience. He came down, full of grace and truth, Word made flesh, Lamb of God. We receive. That's crucial. But "faith alone" wasn't actually where it all started.

It was not the priesthood of all believers, revolutionary as that is. Imagine, there aren't two classes of people, the religious people who do holy things by a special call from God, and the masses of laity toiling in the slums of secular reality. The "man of God" is not doing God's show before an audience of bystanders. We all assemble as God's people, doing the work and worshiping together, with differing gifts. The one Lord, our common King and attentive audience, powerfully enables faith and love. Yes and amen, but this radical revision of church didn't come first.

The trumpet call, Thesis Number One of Luther's Ninety-five Theses, was this:
"When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said 'Repent,' He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance."

That first of Luther's theses dismantled all the machinery of religiosity and called us back to human reality. Luther glimpsed and aimed to recover the essential inner dynamic of the Christian life. It is an ongoing change process. It involves a continual turning motion, turning toward God, and turning away from the riot of other voices, other desires, other loves. We tend to use the word repentance in its more narrow sense, for decisive moments of realization, conviction, confession, turning. But Luther uses the word in its wider, more inclusive sense. If we are living in Christ, we are living from-to.

John Calvin put it in a similar way: "This restoration does not take place in one moment or one day or one year... In order that believers may reach this goal (the shining image of God), God assigns to them a race of repentance, which they are to run throughout their lives." The entire Christian life (including the more specific moments) follows a pattern of turning from things and turning to the Lord...

Lifelong, progressive sanctification was the trumpet call back to biblical faith."

(pg. 83-84) Sex and the Supremacy of God

Veterans' Day

Veterans' Day
Via Facebook today at 4:27pm
by Mike Huckabee

Today is Veterans Day. Most people know the history of the establishment of this sacred day. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, a defeated Germany signed the armistice ending four years of a horrible war. In America we honor all veterans on this solemn day. I often think in a world of uncertainty and constant turmoil, there is one constant - the willingness of Americans in every generation to answer their nation's call to arms.

At the end of World War I President Wilson said it was "the War to end all wars." If that idealistic statement had become reality, we might call Veterans Day "Armistice Day." Unfortunately we have lived through another World War, and more conflicts than we like to remember. In 1926 Armistice Day officially received its name through a Congressional resolution. It became a holiday 12 years later by another resolution.
Veterans Day is a day to honor all of our Veterans - those living and dead. As we pause to remember those Veterans who gave their lives for the Country that we all love, let us also remember those Veterans who have served our country so valiantly. Dwight D. Eisenhower expressed it best when he said "Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed - else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die."

Our Veterans have instinctively known that, and every day of their service is a day to honor them. The men and women serving our country today in Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan understand that freedom is never free and they serve with honor and bravery, defending our right to live as a free people. We have always recognized that we have the bravest, best trained, best equipped military in the history of the world.

Let us pause to thank them for their daily sacrifice and let us also pause in prayer to remember all who have given their lives to keep us free.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Can Orthodoxy Be Missional?

Can Orthodoxy Be Missional?
by John Bombaro
Modern Reformation Magazine, September/October 2008

Intro: If you know someone heading out of seminary or a graduate school of theology eager to apply that confessional missionary zeal of their denominational fathers to a calling parish, then it's likely they will be in for a rude awakening rather than a great one.
Excerpt:
In the Old Testament, for example, the missional enterprise of God's people was carried out through doxology built in to the liturgy. Psalm 105 is one of scores of texts where the outward and mission thrust of liturgical participation is manifest.
Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Seek the Lord and his strength;seek his presence continually!
Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
O offspring of Abraham, his servant,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones!
In this song of praise, the imperative carries with it an indicative: "Make known his deeds among the peoples." The "deeds" that are to be made known to the Gentile nations (i.e., unbelieving peoples) are God's gracious deeds, particularly his covenant of grace established with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (vv. 8-11).

After the Election: 'Important, but not Ultimate'

excerpt from Albert Mohler, “After the Election”

"We are people that know politics is important, but not ultimate. We know that politics has its place, an urgent and important place where, in the City of Man, decisions are made that can make the difference between life and death, injustice and justice, mercy and no mercy, commonweal or common disaster.

But we also know that there is in this world at its very best only a hint of the kingdom that is to come, where God’s reign is supreme.

No government will ever be able to say, ‘Every tear has been wiped away.’ No government will ever be able to say, ‘The blind have received sight and the deaf have received hearing and the lame now walk.’That power is God’s alone.”
(emphasis mine)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Creed

By Rich Mullins

I love this song. Enjoy!

Sola Power: Reformation Theology in a Pluralistic Age

"Sola Power: Reformation Theology in a Pluralistic Age” is the focus of the third annual Christianity and Culture Conference on Jan. 9-10, 2009. Read more at ByFaith Online>>>

Here is the intro:
Energy prices and supplies have been a topic of much discussion of late, but it appears the Church may be suffering through an energy crisis of its own. One church is suggesting that the solution may be “sola power.”

Monday, November 3, 2008

Coercion or Necessity?

The Unregenerate Will: Self-Determined But Not Free by John Hendryx

Not what I used to be

by J.C. Ryle
"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without
which no man shall see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14

The regenerate man is a holy man. He endeavors . . .
to live according to God's will,
to do the things that please God,
to avoid the things that God hates.

His aim and desire is to love God with heart and soul, and
mind and strength--and to love his neighbor as himself.
His wish is to be continually looking to Christ as his Example
as well as his Savior; and to show himself Christ's friend, by
obeying whatever He commands.

No doubt he is not perfect. None will tell you that sooner
than himself. He groans under the burden of indwelling
corruption cleaving to him. He finds an evil principle within
him constantly warring against grace, and trying to draw
him away from God. Yet, in spite of all short-comings,
the average bent and bias of . . .
his ways is holy;
his doings holy;
his tastes holy
and his habits holy.

In spite of all his swerving and turning aside, like a ship
going against a contrary wind, the general course of his
life is in one direction--toward God and for God. He will
generally be able to say, with old John Newton, "I am not
what I ought to be. I am not what I want to be. I am not
what I hope to be in another world. But still, I am not what
I once used to be! By the grace of God, I am what I am!"

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Horror of Sin Against a Great and Just God

"Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake Thy
law."—Psalm 119:53.


"MY soul, feelest thou this holy shuddering at the sins of others? For otherwise thou lackest inward holiness. David's cheeks were wet with rivers of waters because of prevailing unholiness; Jeremiah desired eyes like fountains that he might lament the iniquities of Israel, and Lot was vexed with the conversation of the men of Sodom. Those upon whom the mark was set in Ezekiel's vision, were those who sighed and cried for the abominations of Jerusalem.

It cannot but grieve gracious souls to see what pains men take to go to hell. They know the evil of sin experimentally, and they are alarmed to see others flying like moths into its blaze. Sin makes the righteous shudder, because it violates a holy law, which it is to every man's highest interest to keep; it pulls down the pillars of the commonwealth.

Sin in others horrifies a believer, because it puts him in mind of the baseness of his own heart: when he sees a transgressor he cries with the saint mentioned by Bernard, "He fell to-day, and I may fall to-morrow."

Sin to a believer is horrible, because it crucified the Saviour; he sees in every iniquity the nails and spear. How can a saved soul behold that cursed kill-Christ sin without abhorrence? Say, my heart, dost thou sensibly join in all this? It is an awful thing to insult God to His face. The good God deserves better treatment, the great God claims it, the just God will have it, or repay His adversary to his face.

An awakened heart trembles at the audacity of sin, and stands alarmed at the contemplation of its punishment.

How monstrous a thing is rebellion! How direful a doom is prepared for the ungodly! My soul, never laugh at sin's fooleries, lest thou come to smile at sin itself. It is thine enemy, and thy Lord's enemy—view it with detestation, for so only canst thou evidence the possession of holiness, without which no man can see the Lord."

-- C.H Spurgeon, This Evening's Meditation

What's a True Maverick? "A Republican Without Money"

... that's just one of John McCain's schtick's from last night's SNL. Watch now:

Saturday, November 1, 2008

What is the "tolerance" movement really about?

Two good posts over at Stand to Reason by Melinda:
Same Sex Marriage Isn't Tolerant, Part 2

Same Sex Marriage Isn't Tolerant, Part 1
Excerpt:
Since most homosexuals don’t want to get married or stay married, then why are homosexual activists so adamant about government recognition of same-sex marriage? Because same-sex marriage will win them what they really want—validation and normalization. In other words, the activists want same-sex marriage because they understand that government-backed same-sex marriage will validate and normalize homosexuality throughout society.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

God, I thank you that I'm not like... the Pharisees?

Am I self-righteous about the self-righteous?
Coming mostly from a "Younger Brother" background, my form of self-righteousness is slightly more subtle than the obvious kind that Pharisees and "Older Brothers" have. Blogger Tullian Tchividjian offers an excellent message on his blog.

Here's an excerpt:

“That’s right, I know I don’t have it all together and you think you do; I know I’m not good and you think you are. That makes me better than you.” See the irony?

ht: Between Two Worlds

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Two Great New Books to Read

I'm adding these two books to my "Must Read" list:

Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church by Michael Horton



Monday, October 20, 2008

Real Apologetics: Worldview? No, prayer and fasting!

John Piper looks at Francis Schaeffer's legacy of worldview engagement, and then writes:

"But I wonder if many of the young scholars and activists (now in their forties and fifties!) whom he inspired need to hear a balancing word about the power of prayer and fasting, not as an alternative to thinking and acting, but as a radical foundation that says, “The victory belongs to the Lord, even if the horse (of scholarship and politics) is made ready for the day of battle” (see Proverbs 21:31).

Listen to the books crying out for evangelical renewal and reformation in the life of the mind, the restoration of Truth in the place of technique, the recovery of church social compassion from government powerlessness, the taking of moral high ground in the environmental cause, and many other causes.

Is there a sense in each of these that the root issues are so intractable to human suasion that the call for fasting and prayer would not only be fitting but desperately needed? I am commending such a call."



Wow. I find Piper's observation and approach VERY interesting and challenging. Just think what a powerful apologetic it would be if we all saw God's face today, fell on our faces, repented, and really, truly gave our ALL to Christ? Wouldn't that just be the greatest apologetic for the Truth of Jesus Christ?

An interesting approach...

Dinesh D'Souza has the best argument I've come across for this topic>>>

Should we be satisfied?

"Should we be satisfied to believe in Christ, and to say, "I am safe," without wishing to know in our own experience more of the fulness which is to be found in Him?"

Read C.H. Spurgeon's answer in today's devotional>>>

(hint: "Grow up into Him in all things."—Ephesians 4:15.)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Reality Check: We're still very blessed, comparatively

Regardless of how sour the economy seems to be going today in our country, I was reminded of how truly blessed we are in this country. Here's a link to help us to see just where we're at:
Find out how rich you are>>>

Better than the debates and SNL...

John McCain was really in his element here. He is actually quite the comedian.
part1


part2


And of course Obama gets his turn too:

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sharing the Father's Welcome

Sharing the Father's Welcome by Dr. Edmund P. Clowney (Luke 15:11-32)

This was the sermon that and the seminary professor who inspired Tim Keller's soon-to-be-released book The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith.
The first link is actually to an excerpt from Dr. Clowney's book Preaching Christ in All of Scripture.

A Wasted Vote?

In Consideration of Third Party Candidate Voting...

Well, in 2004 I did not vote either Democratic or Republican because of my discontent with both canidates, Bush and Kerry. Today, after receiving Chuck Baldwin's email, titled "A Wasted Vote?", I must admit, I'm toying with the idea of a third party option again this year.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Primer on Perspectivalism

Just doing some Sunday School homework and found this article by John Frame to be helpful. Also, enjoyed reading these additional article/book links online:
Enjoy!

The prosperity gospel and the credit crisis

Even Time Magazine has picked up on the fallacy of the prosperity gospel and how unbiblical pastors have led their flocks down the path of destruction.

David Van Biema's article: Maybe we should blame God for the sub-prime mess, referencing: Does God want you to be rich? brings up a lot of points that I've been thinking about lately too. As I have some friends in 'health and wealth,' 'name-it-claim,' hyper-charasmatic churches, I think the current crisis does bring up a few important issues.

For my friend who believes that if his faith is strong enough and the right kind, he will enjoy prosperity and good health in this life, does he now condemn his own faith because he lost his house (and is also facing some major medical issues)? Or is it God's fault that he is now suffering? Will he become bitter as a result, or perhaps apostate? Actually, I see both things happening in his life, right before my eyes. And of course the remedy, I believe, is a return to the true gospel, and a turning away from idols. It is all too apparent that many branches of our churches, have gone to idols.

Of course God cannot be blamed for evil or darkeness, it is completely against His good and perfect nature to be the author of evil. So we must not be mistaken and allow ourselves to "blame God." However, God allows these kinds of trials to happen in our lives, so that His people will be made more like Christ. I believe that in times of hardship, we rejoice in Him and the work that He is doing in us. He is sanctifying His Church and calling us to repent and persevere, knowing that he uses all things to work for our ultimate good. Not in the sense of health and wealth. Not in the sense of name it claim or encouraging us to indulge our natural desires, but rather for the good of becoming more like Jesus Christ. I'm convicted by that very thought and keep thinking about a number-777. When the bottom dropped out of the financial markets, the Dow Jones plummeted exactly 777 points. I have to admit, that did get my attention and it made me think and pray about 2 Chron 7:14:
2 Chronicles 7:14 "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble
themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will
I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

Just some of my rambling thoughts, for what they're worth.

The challenge of being missionional in the suburbs

Some excellent quotes from an interview with Ed Setzer, author of "Breaking the Missional Code: How to Be a Missionary in Your Community,"by Joe Thorn over at Subtext: The Gospel in the Suburban Context:

"First, I think churches in the suburbs need to reconsider and discover again the nature of the biblical gospel. To many, the suburbs mean success. I live in such a place — people move to my area because it is where the other successful people are moving. It is no closer to downtown that 5 other suburbs I could list, but it is the go-to place on the north side of Nashville. Thus, it attracts people who value success. Obviously, a biblical gospel calls us to weakness and not strength. In the midst of the celebration of riches and opulence around us, we hold up a gospel of self-denial, poverty of spirit, and forgiveness of sin.

Second, we want to be counter cultural and push for community. Much of the suburban situation is built around keeping you away from people. I can have my dry cleaning picked up, my groceries delivered, and my lawn mowed every week — and I never have to leave my house. (I have neighbors that I never see unless I intentionally see them.)"

and...

"the suburbs are community killers. Many churches make the assumption that because people have moved to a setting that has back decks instead of front porches that they don’t want community. I have found that they do — they just do not know how to seek and receive it. Life transforming suburban churches can and must lead people to deeper community even when the culture pushes against it."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pursuit

A great post by new blogger, Matt Chandler:
Pursuit

here is an excerpt:

Here are a few men who loved our great God and King and were obedient beyond the norm:
-Moses spends his whole life with grumbling, whiners and dies without getting to walk into the promise land.
-Samson suicide bombs the Philistines and when the dust settles he is dead and the Philistines still rule over Israel.
-David’s son rapes his sister and leads a rebellion against David, dethroning him for a season.
-Jeremiah ends up in exile with the rest of the country after repeatedly getting beaten for preaching what God commanded him to preach.
-John the Baptist is beheaded by a pervert who gives his head to a 15-year-old stripper.
-Peter is killed, reportedly crucified upside down.
-Paul is killed in Rome but only after he spends his life (with thorn intact) being eaten, rejected, lost at sea, and consistently dealing with people coming in behind him and destroying what he built.

If your hope is set on anything other than Him, how do you survive when it goes bad? How do you remain passionate and vibrant when no one comes or the baptismal waters are still for long stretches? How do you maintain doctrinal integrity or teach hard things if He isn’t the treasure? How do you worship when your wife gets sick or your son goes for a ride in an ambulance? If He is the goal, the treasure, the pursuit, then those things are fuel that presses you into His goodness and grace
all that much more. I am not saying they are pleasant or enjoyable but only that if He is your goal you will find your faith sustained.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Baptism: When emotions trump truth, theology loses

From By Faith Online

excerpt: "The purpose of much rhetoric in theological debate is not to make people think but to make people react. This emotionally-charged rhetoric prevents people from considering the arguments logically—it prevents us from being Bereans. We are called as Christians to study the Word, to meditate on the Word, to test all things by the Word. But often, our emotional attachments to our beliefs prevent us from hearing the Word we claim to believe."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Gospel Message in Leviticus by Spurgeon

"Behold, if the leprosy have covered all his flesh, he shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague." —Leviticus 13:13.

STRANGE enough this regulation appears, yet there was wisdom in it, for the throwing out of the disease proved that the constitution was sound. This morning it may be well for us to see the typical teaching of so singular a rule. We, too, are lepers, and may read the law of leper as applicable to ourselves. When a man sees himself to be altogether lost and ruined, covered all over with the defilement of sin, and no part free from pollution; when he disclaims all righteousness of his own, and pleads guilty before the Lord, then is he clean through the blood of Jesus, and the grace of God.

Hidden, unfelt, unconfessed iniquity is the true leprosy, but when sin is seen and felt it has received its death blow, and the Lord looks with eyes of mercy upon the soul afflicted with it. Nothing is more deadly than self-righteousness, or more hopeful than contrition.

We must confess that we are "nothing else but sin," for no confession short of this will be the whole truth, and if the Holy Spirit be at work with us, convincing us of sin, there will be no difficulty about making such an acknowledgment—it will spring spontaneously from our lips. What comfort does the text afford to those under a deep sense of sin!

Sin mourned and confessed, however black and foul, shall never shut a man out from the Lord Jesus. Whosoever cometh unto Him, He will in no wise cast out. Though dishonest as the thief, though unchaste as the woman who was a sinner, though fierce as Saul of Tarsus, though cruel as Manasseh, though rebellious as the prodigal, the great heart of love will look upon the man who feels himself to have no soundness in him, and will pronounce him clean, when he trusts in Jesus crucified. Come to Him, then, poor heavy-laden sinner,

Come needy, come guilty, come loathsome and bare; You can't come too filthy—come just as you are.

- C.H. Spurgeon

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Inevitable, Part II

SNL did another skit on Sarah Palin tonight. This time it was scary how well Tina Fey portrayed Gov. Palin. Whoa.

CBS Video vs. SNL Video

Controlling the tongue, resolutions from Sinclair Ferguson

During the Desiring God 2008 National Conference this week, Sinclair Ferguson shared a list of 20 resolutions from the book of James for how to control our tongue (which I am not so good at). These are great and very challenging as well.

1. I resolve to ask God for wisdom to speak out of a single-minded devotion to him. (1:5)
2. I resolve to boast only in the exultation I receive in Jesus Christ and also in the humiliation I receive for Jesus Christ. (1:9-10)
3. I resolve to set a watch over my mouth. (1:13)
4. I resolve to be constantly quick to hear and slow to speak. (1:19)
5. I resolve to learn the gospel way of speaking to both rich and poor. (2:1-4)
6. I resolve to speak in the present consciousness of my final judgment. (2:12)
7. I resolve never to stand on anyone’s face with the words I employ. (2:16)
8. I resolve never to claim as reality in my life what I do not truly experience. (3:14)
9. I resolve to resist quarrelsome words as evidence of a bad heart that needs to be mortified. (4:1)
10. I resolve never to speak decided evil against another out of a heart of antagonism. (4:11)
11. I resolve never to boast in anything but what I will accomplish. (4:13)
12. I resolve to speak as one subject to the providences of God. (4:15)
13. I resolve never to grumble. The judge is at the door. (5:9)
14. I resolve never to allow anything but total integrity in everything I say. (5:12)
15. I resolve to speak to God in prayer whenever I suffer. (5:13)
16. I resolve to sing praises to God whenever I’m cheerful. (5:14)
17. I resolve to ask for the prayers of others when I’m in need. (5:14)
18. I resolve to confess it whenever I have failed. (5:15)
19. I resolve to pray with others for one another whenever I am together with them. (5:15)
20. I resolve to speak words of restoration when I see another wander from the faith. (5:19)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What is the Gospel?

From Greg Gilbert at The 9 Marks Blog
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
I remember a few months ago at church, one of our church elders asked me, "What is the Gospel?" I began by answering the "Gospel of the Cross" - that Jesus had died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin by suffering the full wrath of God, was buried and on the third day rose again, then ascended to heaven where He sits at the right hand of God making intercession for those who believe on Him and Him alone for their salvation - or something thereabouts.

Then he asked me, is that how you would share your faith with a non-believer? And I said probably not. How would you then, he wanted to know. So, I said there is more than one way to share our faith. The most common among our congregation would probably be the EE format - 2 questions and then the template format. However, I said that I was a firm believer that there is more than one dimension to the Gospel message and cited the New Creation as a part of the Gospel, stating that Christ's atonement is the foundation, but the Gospel message permeates our environment and surroundings, expanding beyond the point of salvation into cultural renewal.

We had a great discussion, but there were differing views on the topic. I find the links cited above extremely beneficial in expounding more fully what I believe about the Gospel message. What do you think?

What Happens When We Die? New study challenges materialist and existentialist presuppositions

New scientific study shows that a person's consciousness continues after the brain and body cease to function. Read the full article: What Happens When We Die?
This is a fascinating article that I hope will incite some good discussion between non-believers and Christians.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The gods of the nations are idols

"For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens." - 1 Chronicles 16:26

There seems to be no end to the idols of man. But there is one God, Maker of Heaven and earth. A very present and timely reminder for me. Today in prayer, praise the Lord that He is Lord of all and worthy of our praise.

“That to which your heart clings is your god.” – Martin Luther

“Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.” – 1 Corinthians 10:14

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Do not confer with flesh

James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does."

My tendency is to ask someone I know, like and respect when I need to gain wisdom and insight into a situation or a decision that I need to make. I want someone to challenge my thinking, sometimes. Or I want someone to confirm my thinking, other times. And the Bible says there is safety in a multitude of counselors, right?

But the heart issue many times - when it comes to wisdom - is doublemindedness. Man cannot serve God and mammon. Man cannot serve God and anything or anyone else. That is idolatry and is rooted in unbelief. Ultimately, my problem, when I lack wisdom is doubt. My sin is unbelief - I do not believe rightly about God, who He is and what He has done (and is doing.)

That was just one of many insights from this week's study of James 1:1-8.
Here is another
Facing Trials>>>

How is the Christian to Love God?

Musings on loving God at Challies.com

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."

he asks... "is there really a difference between 'how do I know I love God?' and 'how do I love God?' And if so, answer what should be a simple question: how is the Christian to love God?"

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Encourage Him

"Encourage him."—Deuteronomy 1:38.


OD employs His people to encourage one another. He did not say to an angel, "Gabriel, my servant Joshua is about to lead my people into Canaan—go, encourage him." God never works needless miracles; if His purposes can be accomplished by ordinary means, He will not use miraculous agency. Gabriel would not have been half so well fitted for the work as Moses.

A brother's sympathy is more precious than an angel's embassy. The angel, swift of wing, had better known the Master's bidding than the people's temper. An angel had never experienced the hardness of the road, nor seen the fiery serpents, nor had he led the stiff-necked multitude in the wilderness as Moses had done. We should be glad that God usually works for man by man. It forms a bond of brotherhood, and being mutually dependent on one another, we are fused more completely into one family. Brethren, take the text as God's message to you.


Labour to help others, and especially strive to encourage them. Talk cheerily to the young and anxious enquirer, lovingly try to remove stumblingblocks out of his way. When you find a spark of grace in the heart, kneel down and blow it into a flame. Leave the young believer to discover the roughness of the road by degrees, but tell him of the strength which dwells in God, of the sureness of the promise, and of the charms of communion with Christ. Aim to comfort the sorrowful, and to animate the desponding. Speak a word in season to him that is weary, and encourage those who are fearful to go on their way with gladness.


God encourages you by His promises; Christ encourages you as He points to the heaven He has won for you, and the spirit encourages you as He works in you to will and to do of His own will and pleasure. Imitate divine wisdom, and encourage others, according to the word of this evening.
-C. H. Spurgeon

Monday, September 15, 2008

Seven Myths of the Single Woman

Seven Myths of the Single Woman (From Boundless)

1. God will give me a husband when I'm ready.

2. God views me more as a useful tool than a beloved child.

3. When it's the right guy, I'll just know.

4. When I get married, then my life will begin.

5. Marriage will/will not meet my deepest needs.

6. There must be something wrong with me.

7. The older I get, the less likely it is that I will find someone.

Read the entire article to get all of the details.

i guess it was inevitable...

Even though I was the first person I know to make the call, I guess it was inevitable. The characterization was much less flattering than I had hoped for. Tina Fey over did it. She obviously wanted clear separation between her Sarah Palin character and Liz Lemon. In doing so, she seemed to try to make Sarah Palin more like Peggy Bundy than the class act that she truly is. I really liked the interplay with Amy Poehler's Hillary Clinton, but was pretty disappointed in what Tina Fey chose to do for her portrayl. Disappointed, but not surprised.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

All Creatures

All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing
O praise Him, alleluia
Thou burning sun with golden beam
Thou silver moon with softer gleam
O praise Him, O praise Him
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in heav'n along
O praise Him, alleluia
Thou rising moon in praise rejoice
Ye lights of evening find a voice
O praise Him, O praise Him
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Let all things their Creator bless
And worship Him in humbleness
O praise Him, alleluia
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son
And praise the Spirit, three in One
O praise Him, O praise Him
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son
And praise the Spirit, three in One
O praise Him, O praise Him
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

O, alleluia, alleluia

Friday, September 12, 2008

Conference Controversy Today & The Gov's Church

Sarah Palin has taken some heat from the liberal press and gay activists for the conference her church, Wasilla Bible Church, has been promoting. The actual conference is put on by Love Won Out and is taking place about 30 miles away from her church. As usual, the media has misrepresented the facts of what this ministry is about. Here is their FAQ, which I think is awesome (some fundies would probably protest Love Won Out's approach, but hey, they're not engaging in ministry to these folks either are they?):

Are you here to "cure" gays?
Absolutely not. The only time you’ll ever hear the word “cure” used in relation to our event is by those who oppose Love Won Out. They also like to claim we want to “fix” or “convert” gays and lesbians and that we believe people can “pray away the gay.” Such glib characterizations ignore the complex series of factors that can lead to same-sex attractions; they also mischaracterize our mission. We exist to help men and women dissatisfied with living homosexually understand that same-sex attractions can be overcome. It is not easy, but it is possible, as evidenced by the thousands of men and women who have walked this difficult road successfully.

But your goal is still to make gays straight, right?
That is a gross and narrow oversimplification. We aren’t here to “make” anybody do or become anything; we are here to offer a biblical and experiential perspective on the issue of homosexuality that is, sadly, underreported in the mainstream media. Our goals include aiding parents who want to learn how to better love their sons or daughters without compromising their faith; helping people who want to better understand the many factors that can lead to someone adopting a homosexual identity; and assisting those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions and want to discover how they might also start upon the path ― a difficult path, as noted above ― to overcoming those desires.

Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?
We do not believe anyone chooses his or her same-sex attractions. We concur with the American Psychological Association’s position that homosexuality is likely developmental in nature and caused by a “complex interaction of environmental, cognitive and biological factors” (www.apa.org). We would also agree with the American Psychiatric Association when it states “some people believe that sexual orientation is innate and fixed; however, sexual orientation develops across a person’s lifetime.” If you ever hear us use the word “choice,” it is in relation to men and women who struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions choosing to steward their impulses in a way that aligns with their faith convictions.

Doesn’t God love everyone? Even homosexuals?
Absolutely. Jesus died every bit as much for those who protest our conference as for those who speak at it. You have never heard, and will never hear, any Love Won Out speaker say that God doesn’t love gays and lesbians. What you will hear is that God designed human sexuality to be enjoyed solely within the bounds of one-man, one-woman marriage. Any sexual relationship outside of that design – heterosexual or homosexual – falls short of God’s standard.

Link to their website>>>

Disengaged

The Stand to Reason blog continues a series of articles on pro-life issues:
Biden's Blunder
Construction vs. Development
What Is the Unborn

Unfortunately, they are not following up by answering the 'reasons' presented by those of the opposing view. They're presenting some useful resources, but in essence preaching to the choir by decidedly not engaging the other side of the argument. I do, of course, greatly appreciate the articles on:
Resources to Help Church Leaders Equip Their Members to Defend the Unborn

Remembering (part 2)

Real Remembering.
Excerpts from today's RZIM Slice of Infinity:

"from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday." (Esther 9:22)
...
"These days of Purim should never cease to be celebrated by the Jews, nor should the memory of them die out among their descendants" (Esther 9:28).
...
"The blood will be a sign," the LORD declared. "And when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike the firstborns of Egypt" (Exodus 12:13). From that day onward, celebrating the Passover was nonnegotiable, and with good reason. God had spared his people by the blood of a lamb. From that day onward, the command was passed down from generation to generation: "You shall remember this day as a statute forever" (Exodus 12:17). And so they remembered the Passover each year.
...
Centuries later, the disciples sat around the table celebrating their third Passover meal with Jesus... he lifted the bread from the table and gave thanks to God. Then Jesus broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying something entirely new: "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19).


A personal perspective on this remembering:
For me, this is an awesome point that is often missed by the emerging crowd that questions the priority of church attendence and members. The communion of the saints and the preaching of the Gospel message are both ordained means of grace that God has given to His people today for this very purpose. Remembering the Truth of Christ.

And, on the other side of the equation, this remembrance is also associated with not only the solemness of reflection on sin and repentence, but in referencing both Esther and the Passover, we are reminded that there is great celebration in the remembrance of our salvation through the sacrifice of our Lord's blood for our sin. Joy! Joy! Joy! and Agape - the love of God the father, son and Holy Spirit working in us what we could never do for ourselves and making us truly New Creations in Him. Praise God!!