Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Two Marks: Dever finding common ground with Driscoll

Dever of 9Marks speaks to Driscoll's Acts 29
(ht: Between Two Worlds)

This is a great article to consider concerning diversity of style vs. content and core doctrine. Dever, a traditionalist, makes a succinct statement concerning the controversial preacher Mark Driscoll and his church planting strategies by cutting to the central issues and by moving past peripheral concerns.

An important conversation in light of recent discussions in our own church. Enjoy!

The Game: About Sports and Videogame-playing

Can you believe... yet another illuminating article on this topic?
Know the game>>>

Here is a final quote in which the author wraps up the heart of the matter very well:

"Finally, in any conversation about the redemption of any aspect of culture, I am
reminded of Paul's warning in 2 Timothy 3:4, and pray that I am not one of the
'...lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness
but denying its power.' (NIV) As with any form of entertainment, there is
a danger to become lost in it. May we always look to God for our joy and
our standard, and may we never lose sight of the Creator by idolizing the
creation. "

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

"The Heaven I Long For"

“My heaven is to please God and glorify Him, and to give all to Him, and to be wholly devoted to His glory; that is the heaven I long for.” – David Brainerd, close friend of Jonathan Edwards

The new order of things

From one of my devotionals -
“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” – Revelation 7:17

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” – Revelation 21:4

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A new series

This looks like a great new series: Practical Issues for Godly Women The first week's theme is based on Proverbs 31:20 (HT: Considerable Grace)

Quote of the day

"Every sin is the distortion of an energy breathed into us..."
- C.S. Lewis

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Crosswalk's Top 20 Movies from 2007

Critic's Top 10 Movies for 2007


Honorable mentions:
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Away from Her
3:10 to Yuma

Practice is an act of faith

Some more thoughts on "The Game"
Preparation is Everything at High Calling
Here are a few quotes:
"We never had a game as hard as practice. We never saw anything in a
game we hadn't already been over," team member.
"... anyone could show up for basketball practice, but winners practice on
their own time too." - a parent.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Preparing us for His Son

"The same tribulation that yields bitter fruit in the arid soul of the wicked is
used to produce the sweet fruit of the Spirit in the fertile soul of the saint.
Why is God so intent on perfecting His saints? To prepare a spotless bride for
His Son, and to complete His grand design!" - William Gurnall, "The
Christian in Complete Armour
" pg. 25
Whatever the cross we may bear today, we can have faith that God is using it to prepare us for something down the road - something that He can see even if we can't. He knows every heartache, every struggle. He sees every tear and every sorrow. One word from His lips can calm the unrest and extinguish every fear. Rest in His Word. That is The Holy Truth in which we can place our full trust. Blessings in Christ Jesus.

Lifting Up Jesus Christ

"What Does God Really Want from Us?" Part III Rev. Dan Betters

Gee, I wish I had listened to Dan's sermon before writing my last post. This is much better than what I wrote by at least 10x. Dan preaches during the first service which is during the same time as our Sunday School, so I often don't hear his sermon until days after the Sunday service. Anyway, enjoy... (click here for the mp3)

What Allen Iverson can teach us about church..

Some of the folks from church were talking about this video over the past week. The idea was that generally, churches get wrapped up about minor issues and miss the bigger picture. For instance, a recent survey of our members about clothing received hundreds of responses from our members - a much higher response rate than just about any other topic we've had. Another issue that has generated enormous feedback was about whether our pews should be replaced with new pews or no pews. It seems like everyone has an opinion about issues like this.

The concern of course is that these issues really don't seem to have much bearing on the bigger and more important goals and vision of the church locally or univerisally. In other words, a decision to do or not do any of the options in terms of pews or clothing would not really matter one iota in terms of building God's kingdom, advancing the Gopsel, growing in grace, love and knowledge of our Savior and others.

So, in that context, the almost cartoonish video of Allen Iverson railing about the media's obsession with "practice" makes sense. Instead of looking to results, record or what is happening in "real life" - The Game itself, where the rubber meets the road - the media, the public and the sports association seem enamored with the who, what, when, where and why's of the "practice" sessions.

On that level, I get it. If someone is too sick, hurt, or tired to make it to every single practice, there is no sense in brow-beating them. If the conditions of the practice are perhaps less than ideal or to our liking, that should not be a show stopper or keep us from being on the team or in the game.

Now, I don't think we can take this metaphor too far however, because even Allen Iverson (what a strange example to be discussing :-) in the context of a church metaphor!) even mentioned that he knows that he has a responsibility as a team leader to be at practice for the sake of the team. And I don't think we can overlook this aspect.

I don't believe that God wants to create a team of superstars and celebrities. The reason why practice is valuable is that those who have experience and gifts in certain areas can use this time to edify others and to build them up so that they can be fruitful and multiply inside and outside the body of Christ. So, while individual issues like pews and clothing and the other who, what, when, where, whys of practice are definitely subordinate to the bigger picture (ie, The Great Commission), the local body needs to be on the same team, submit to and respect one another with regard to these seemingly less important issues, SO THAT they build up one and bear testimony to Christ's Love of the Church by loving one another.

To use the gardening analogy, I fully agree that the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few. And in this regard, the Allen Iverson video is helpful - Let's get our focus more on The Game. My caveat or addition is to remember that there are many un-seen and perhaps less glorious workers who labor in and through practice, who till the soil, prune the branches, add the fertilier, etc.. preparing the way for the harvesters. Many serve faithfully in the body who contribute to developing the Allen Iversons of tomorrow. And those superstars are going to need to get their butts to practices so that their legacy doesn't end when they grow old, move to another town or get called home. As talented and capable as Michael Jordon or Allen Iverson might be, they are human and cannot win those games alone. All of the inconveniences and seemingly minor annoyances of the practice are where the team's hearts are knit together and where our human frailties are brought to bear so they can be dealt with by the Chief Physician.

The church doesn't have or need John Waynes. And John Wayne never won a basketball game.

That's my $.02, so far, for all that it's worth :-) Let's see if anyone is reading this...

Ruth, Part II

"Five Women God Used to Shape Christmas" Part V: (Ruth continued)
I could easily subtitle this one "Boaz: the kinsman redeemer, a type of Christ, our ultimate kinsman redeemer." Really good sermon, especially if you haven't studied this particular typology/Christology before.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Means of Grace: God's Provision for Our Salvation and Sanctification

Last Sunday we started Pilgrim's Progress in our women's Sunday School and had a bit of a discussion about the importance and Biblical prominence of God's Provision to His People for our salvation and sanctification through the church - Means of Grace.

The author in this article states that many churches have been transformed into mass marketed organizations that meet the needs of religious consumers, rather than ministering God's Ordained Means of Grace, which are: The Gospel, Baptism, The Word of God, Fellowship, The Lord's Supper, Prayer

Praise God for His Means of Grace! Praying tonight and tomorrow for unity and peace in the church for the sake of God's people.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Going the wrong way?

From today's Peacemeal: "Do we withhold our confession until we have assurance that the other person will confess his or her part? Or are we willing to confess "expecting nothing in return"? It is a two-way street, but the responsibility that God calls each of us to is all one-way."

Scene from the movie: "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles"
"You're going the wrong way! You're going to kill somebody."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Modern Reformation - "Grace Over Race"

Grace Over Race
Jan./Feb. 2008 Volume: 17 Issue: 1

When Grace Conquers Race (Sidebar) By Michael Horton
Corporate Christian Mergers By Thabiti Anyabwile

"How long?" (Sidebar) By Patrica Anders

"The Truth of the Cross" by R. C. Sproul (Book Review) By Denise M. Malagari

MLK's I Have a Dream

I meant to post this last night, so I'm a day late. Here goes...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

How Great is Our God

God Never Fails

“Faith does not certainly promise itself either length of years or honor or riches in this life, since the Lord willed that none of these things be appointed for us. But it is content with this certainty: that, however many things fail us that have to do with the maintenance of this life, God will never fail.

"Rather, the chief assurance of faith rests in the expectation of the life to come, which has been placed beyond doubt through the Word of God. Yet whatever earthly miseries and calamities await those whom God has embraced in his love, these cannot hinder his benevolence from being their full happiness.”

- John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (III, 2.28) HT: OFI

Happy Sabbath!

Speaking of OT Women...

I mentioned our fall study on Ruth and Esther the other day on my blog and still plan to post my Esther article (which I think is really good.) Then I realized that while I was out on Sunday, our pastor preached on Ruth. Figuring that now would be a great time to share some links to the amazing, current sermon series that PB is teaching. It has truly showcased the depths of our pastor's preaching skills:
"Five Women God Used to Shape Christmas" Part IV: Ruth by Dr. Chuck F. Betters
"Five Women God Used to Shape Christmas" Part III: Bathsheba
"Five Women God Used to Shape Christmas" Part II: Rahab
"Five Women God Used to Shape Christmas" Part I: Tamar

I've loved ALL of these sermons, but part II " Rahab" is my favorite so far. I highly recommend these messages!

Romans 9:13

My friend RV is studying the scriptural basis of infant baptism. The correlation between baptism and circumcision is often used to illustrate why infant baptism is the proper mode within certain circles of reformed faith and replaces the sign and seal of the covenant that circumcision stood for in the Abrahamic Covenant. My concern is when folks get confused and speak of baptismal sufficiency or baptismal justification. Scholars might think that I’m a simpleton in my understanding here. Yet, I think I have a solid illustration that pretty much dispels the gray matter. In the OT, servants and other pagans who lived within the covenant community with the Israelites were also circumcised in order to be received into the covenant community and to enjoy the benefits of the community. Yet, their circumcision certainly did not provide salvation, regeneration or sufficiency for entrance into Heaven. My point is that the covenant community is not necessarily the kingdom of God. Being baptized into the church is not salvatory – Romans 9:13 “Just as it is written: ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated’” -- a hard teaching for a mother or father to be sure. But let’s not take the Gospel for granted and presume upon God. The means of grace provided through the church do not replace the work of Christ on the cross.

If you don't agree, I'm open to your comments. I know that there are others that see something else in all of this, so I'm throwing this out just to see if anyone 1- reads this blog and 2- has a different take that I should understand. Have a great evening!

On a lighter note...
Why Eskimos should sprinkle (HT: RevFun)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Not done yet and other thoughts

It's been a while since I've written anything here and quite honestly I do missing blogging.

I like having the opportunity to collect my thoughts and things I've found or learned altogether into this written format. Sort of a live diary that anyone can read. A bit scary, but a great tool for growing in faith if nothing else.

It's the little things

Little things that are different in my new job:
  • Wearing different shoes and clothes every day, instead of camo and combat boots!

  • People really do call each other by their first names and -no - everyone's first name isn't "Colonel" or "Sergeant."

  • People don't feel the urge to threaten you with physical punishment for making a mistake

  • We collaborate and seek consensus on projects, rather than dictating and delegating.

  • Wearing make-up and jewelry is perfectly common, instead of a violation of published regulations.

  • People assume good intentions on behalf of others, instead of assuming that every transaction will culminate in a head to head confrontation that must be mediated by the one with the highest rank.

  • and many other things that I may or may not blog about in the future.
Back to Bible Study and Sunday School

Last semester we studied Ruth and Esther from the Old Testament. I blogged here on Ruth, and also want to write a post fsoon rom my Esther studies this past fall.

This semester we are studying "God With Us" by Carol Ruvalo, which is a survey study of the Gospel accounts, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

In Sunday School, we have just started "Pilgrim's Progress" by John Bunyan. The class is over-flowing with enrollees - more than 30! I'm blessed to be Joy's assistant as we go through this great Christian Classic.

Okay, with all of that being said, I will try to catch back up with my blogativity. Ha! I coined a new label. Take care, God bless, and G'nite. DLW