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