"To go to communion worthily gives God great glory, but to take food in thankfulness and temperance gives Him glory too. To lift up the hands in prayer gives God glory, but a man with a dung fork in his hand, a woman with a slop pail, give Him glory too. He is so great that all things give Him glory if you mean that they shall."
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Here's one comment to wet your appetite -
"Anyone who is strongly influenced by the imaginative world of The Shack will be totally unprepared for the far more multi-dimensional and complex God that you actually meet when you read the Bible"
Read the whole thing.
When even the atheist can see this truth, why is it that so many church members and theologians cannot see it?
"The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. I’m a liberal Christian, and I don’t take the stories from the scripture literally. I don’t believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make and distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?
I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian."
Hat Tip: Kathryn Jean Lopez - The Corner on National Review Online
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Snicker. That's funny!
10. You incentivize financial giving by offering to send your donors inanimate objects that have been prayed over.
9. You’ve convened a committee to decide the name of your new Gulfstream jet.
8. Your ministry even has a Gulfstream jet.
7. Two words: scheduled revivals.
6. Your broadcast goes out only in tongues.
5. Every member of the board of directors has the same last name.
4. The guy you raised from the dead this morning is starting to smell pretty bad.
3. Your job postings include, “teeth-whitening a must.”
2. Your annual budget includes a line item for hairspray.
1. You read this list out loud and they fired you.
From: Challies Dot Com
The following quote is from journalist Robert McCartney, a self professed pro-choicer, writing in the Washington Post about his experience at the National March for Life last week.
I went to the March for Life rally Friday on the Mall expecting to write about its irrelevance. Isn’t it quaint, I thought, that these abortion protesters show up each year on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, even though the decision still stands after 37 years. What’s more, with a Democrat in the White House likely to appoint justices who support abortion rights, surely the Supreme Court isn’t going to overturn Roe in the foreseeable future.The battle is hard, war is long, but we are winning!
How wrong I was. The antiabortion movement feels it’s gaining strength, even if it’s not yet ready to predict ultimate triumph, and Roe supporters (including me) are justifiably nervous.
As always, we in Washington enjoy an up-close view of the health of various causes because of the city’s role as the nation’s most important setting for political demonstrations. In this case, I was especially struck by the large number of young people among the tens of thousands at the march. It suggests that the battle over abortion will endure for a long time to come.
“We are the pro-life generation,” said signs carried by the crowd, about half its members appearing to be younger than 30. . . .
Activists who support abortion rights conceded that there’s less energy among young people on their side of the debate.
“Unfortunately, I feel my generation is a little complacent,” said Amanda Pelletier, 20, co-director of the abortion rights group at American University. “It just doesn’t seem to be a very hip issue.”
Hat Tip: Vitamin Z, Gene Edward Veith
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
“God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule living God’s way enjoying shalom in God’s holy and loving presence to God’s glory” (God the Peacemaker, p. 229).Sounds better (and more comprehensive) than just going to heaven when you die.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Here's Joshua Harris on Wrong Reasons to Love the Church:
Acts 20:28 tells us that Jesus obtained the church with his own blood. Is this what your love for the church is based on? If it's anything less, it won't last long.Love the church because of who shed his blood to obtain the church. Love the church because of who the church belongs to. Love the church because of who the church worships. Love the church because you love Jesus Christ and his glory. Love the church because Jesus is worthy and faithful and true. Love the church because Jesus loves the church.
- Don't love the church because of what it does for you. Because sooner or later it won't do enough.
- Don't love the church because of a leader. Because human leaders are fallible and will let you down.
- Don't love the church because of a program or a building or activities because all those things get old.
- Don't love the church because of a certain group of friends because friendships change and people move.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
"The theologian of glory observes the world, the works of creation. With his intellect he perceives behind these the visible things of God, His power, wisdom, and generosity. But God remains invisible to him. The theologian of the cross looks to the Crucified One. Here there is nothing great or beautiful or exalted as in the splendid works of creation. Here there is humiliation, shame, weakness, suffering, and agonizing death…[That] “God can be found only in suffering and the cross”…is a bedrock statement of Luther’s theology and that of the Lutheran Church. Theology is theology of the cross, nothing else. A theology that would be something else is a false theology… Measured by everything the world calls wisdom, as Paul already saw, the word of the cross is the greatest foolishness, the most ridiculous doctrine that can confront a philosopher. That the death of one man should be the salvation of all, that this death on Golgotha should be this atoning sacrifice for all the sins of the world, that the suffering of an innocent one should turn away the wrath of God—these are assertions that fly in the face of every ethical and religious notion of man as he is by nature…God Himself has sent us into the hard school of the cross. There, on the battlefields, in the prison camps, under the hail of bombs, and among the shattered sick and wounded, there the theology of the cross may be learned “by dying”…To those whose illusions about the world and about man, and the happiness built on these, have been shattered, the message of the cross may come as profoundly good news."The above quotation is from Hermann Sasse’s “The Theology of the Cross: Theologia Crucis,” in We Confess Jesus Christ, pp. 47-48, 50, 52:
Hat Tip: Parchment and Pen » On Being a Theologian of the Cross
The following quote is from Timothy Dalrymple, quoited at Parchment & Pen, regarding Martin Luther's Theology of the Cross. He says that Luther's theology conveyed:
".. a “theology of the cross,” a theologia crucis, a way of relating to God first and primarily “through suffering and the cross.” Lamentably, this is often forgotten: while the Reformers proclaimed sola scriptura and sola gratia, they also proclaimed the imitatio passionis Christi, that all Christians are called to share in the sufferings of Christ and to know Christ and know God through the suffering of the cross—his cross, and ours..... We would rather find God in the hallowed halls of academe or in the lofty palaces of princely mega-churches—yet God revealed himself, as Luther argues, most exhaustively and definitively in a man who was rejected and beaten and put to death in humiliation and suffering. God chose to reveal Himself to us on the cross, so that only those will (truly) find him who take up their crosses and follow him daily."(Hat Tip: Parchment and Pen » On Being a Theologian of the Cross)
Now that's something to think about on a Saturday morning!
Friday, January 22, 2010
I'm also remembering and praying for the faithful marching in Washington today. Check out the Virtual March for Life.
Kevin De Young posted a list this morning of all the current state laws that define or recognize the personhood of unborn children.
How about a missional way for the pro-life cause? Interesting, and I agree.
Hat Tip: Of First Importance
“A sense of having our sins forgiven is the mainspring and life-blood of love to Christ. The only way to make men holy is to teach and preach free and full forgiveness through Jesus Christ. The secret of being holy ourselves is to know and feel that Christ has pardoned our sins. Peace with God is the only root that will bear the fruit of holiness. Forgiveness must go before sanctification.”
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
“God’s promises were never meant to be thrown aside as waste paper; he intended that they should be used. God’s gold is not miser’s money, but is minted to be traded with. Nothing pleases our Lord better than to see his promises put in circulation; he loves to see his children bring them up to him, and say, Lord, do as thou hast said. We glorify God when we plead his promises.”
- Charles Spurgeon, Morning & Evening, January 15
Monday, January 18, 2010
"Martin Luther King called for an end to racial injustice not by appealing to current laws or even to the will of the majority (both of those, at the time, were against him!), but to a Higher Law.
Rev. King said in his Letters from a Birmingham Jail: "An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law." And so he appealed beyond the existing laws of the books to an eternal law. He said that God had created of one blood all races and thus all men of all races were all brothers.
There are many today who want to divorce laws from any foundation in God’s universe, but when you do so you are left with a vacuum of authority. Laws have to be based on something. Something will be ultimate. For the Nazi regimes it was race and blood and power. For Communist regimes it was the will of the state. For Dr. King, what was ultimate, what he appealed to in the face of political opposition, and even a majority that opposed Him, was the justice of God.
So, Reverend King’s life teaches us that the roots of a just society are in God. He knew that if laws don’t gain their legitimacy from the Higher Law of the omnipotent, benevolent God, then we end up being subject to the tyranny of the majority and the whims of the powerful. As the late Richard John Neuhaus famously said, "Take government out from under God and government will become the God." "
Saturday, January 16, 2010
1. Generate ongoing intercession for the people of Haïti and the Government of Haïti. They are dealing with devastation and destruction that is unprecedented in Haïti or anywhere in the Caribbean in our life times.Hat Tip: Seven Ways to Pray for and Respond to Haiti Liveblog Christianity Today
2. Generate ongoing intercession for the responders who will be going into Haïti. It is not unusual for these persons to be plagued with deep depression and exhaustion as they seek to help the injured and dying and as they move people from shock and grief to rebuilding the nation.
3. Pray earnestly for the coordination of the aid that will be flowing into Haïti from numerous sources. Pray against corruption that always raises its ugly head in these situations and pray for the aid to quickly reach the people who need it.
4. Pray for pastors and church leaders who – while dealing with their own shock, grief and loss – will be ministering to everyone around them. Pray for their spiritual, psychological and emotional strength and their daily renewal so that they can minister effectively in this situation.
5. Pray that the country will be able to move quickly from disaster relief to planned reconstruction and that God will grant wisdom to rebuild stronger and better.
6. Pray for all those who will be making decisions on the relief and reconstruction phases. With God’s help Haïti can rise from this tragedy a stronger and better nation.
7. Finally, begin to make preparations for a meaningful response to our brothers and sisters in Haïti. I will keep in touch with the major Evangelical Christian relief agencies and seek ways in which we can partner in meaningful ways.
Lord, make me more thirsty!
Why does heaven feel so far away? Why does Jesus seem so distant?
Recent research* by Emily Balcetis and David Dunning indicates that the desirability of an object influences its perceived distance. Thirsty students fed with pretzels perceived a water bottle to be nearer than those who had had their thirst quenched. Other students placed in front of a $100 bill they could win for themselves perceived it to be closer than those who were told that the bill belonged to the scientist conducting the test. A third set of students had their sense of humor graded and clipped to a stand in front of them. Those given positive feedback estimated the stand to be closer than those who could see their feedback was negative. Other similar experiments confirmed the finding that desire reduces the perception of distance.
Is this why heaven often seems so far away? We don’t desire it enough?
Is this why Jesus sometimes seems so distant? We don’t desire Him enough?
But if desire reduces the distance, “Lord Jesus, give the desire and reduce the distance.”
*Balcetis, E., & Dunning, D. (2009). “Wishful Seeing: More Desired Objects Are Seen as Closer.” Psychological Science.(Hat Tip: Is Our Desire Too Weak? « Already Not Yet)
Friday, January 15, 2010
- Francis Bacon
(Hat tip: A Full, Quick, Exact Man – Pure Church by Thabiti Anyabwile)
I read a lot. I guess that makes me full. I sometimes get to speak. I guess that makes me quick. But I do not write very much. Guess I'm not very exact.
This blog has mostly been a place to capture quotes and excerpts from my reading, with occasional short commentary from yours truly. Yes, I have written a few original pieces, but not that many. I seem to avoid writing for two reasons. First, from sheer laziness. Second, from fear of not doing a good enough job.
Now I am increasingly conscious of a call to write more. I have been resisting that call. Pray that I will be able to give in and make the effort, even if the results are not perfect.
Maybe in the process I will become more "exact."
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
"Saying 'Preach the gospel; if necessary use words' is like saying 'Tell me your phone number; if necessary use digits.'"
Hat Tip: Christians in Context: from orthodoxy to orthopraxy.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
“From start to finish, the whole Christian life is by grace through faith. A new life in Christ commences with faith, continues by faith, and will be completed through faith. To put this another way, the Gospel is for Christians just as much as it is for non-Christians. We never advance beyond the good news of the cross and the empty tomb… Therefore, the Christian always looks back to the Gospel and never to the law as the basis for his righteousness before God… There is no such thing as performance-based Christianity… Justification is a doctrine for the whole Christian life from start to finish. It is not simply a doctrine for coming to Christ in the first place… Justification is a doctrine to live by each and every moment.”
- Philip Ryken, Commentary on Galatians, p90-92
Monday, January 11, 2010
Top Fifteen Signs Your Sermon Isn’t Going Well
15. Your associate pastor is warming up in the bullpen.
14. The praise band begins playing you off the stage.
13. You are using PowerPoint.
12. When asked to read from the King James Version, you involuntarily blush every time you say the word “ass.”
11. The congregation is filling in the blanks of your outline before you get there.
10. You think the lyrics to a bluegrass song are really connecting with your audience.
9. When you pause for dramatic effect, several people giggle.
8. Your cell phone starts ringing, and you answer it.
7. The person signing for the deaf just pulled on mittens.
6. When the children are dismissed to junior church, most of their parents go, too.
5. Your sermon took shape over a glass of wine and volume three of Left
4. Your interpreter just rolled his eyes and put your last statement in quotation marks.
3. Desperate mothers are pinching their babies.
2. The ushers are handing out refunds.
1. You began your sermon with “Top 10 signs your sermon isn’t going well.”
Sunday, January 10, 2010
(Thanks to Adrian Warnock for the recomendation)
"Denominations have a future, but only insofar as they function as missional networks and not as religious hierarchies.Greear was commenting specifically about the Southern Baptist Convention, but I think his insight applies across the board. The more denominations function as networks focused on mission the more successful their futures will be. Maybe it is time for all of us to do a little soul searching and re-evaluation.
I have tried to say on numerous occasions on this blog that there are no denominations in the Bible. Frankly speaking, it is easier to find evidence in Scripture for having a concubine than being a part of a denomination (via Ed Stetzer).
But there is plenty of evidence in the New Testament of churches working together in networks. The local church is the sole hub of ministry in the New Testament, and no denominational 'authority' should exist over top of it. But local churches have always found it more effective to work together than to work alone, and functional networks can end up being a kind of denomination. And that is the 'good' kind of denomination."
Saturday, January 9, 2010
“The spiritual person is simply a believer, one who has closed with the message of the cross. Indeed, those who are most mature are most grateful for the cross and keep coming back to it as the measure of God’s love for them and the supreme standard of personal self-denial."Hat Tip: CROSS-eyed: What does it mean to be "spiritual"?
DA Carson, The Cross and Christian Ministry, p. 62.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Thursday, January 7, 2010
“Only a fraction of the present body of professing Christians are solidly appropriating the justifying work of Christ in their lives. . . . In their day-to-day existence they rely on their sanctification for justification. . . . Few know enough to start each day with a thoroughgoing stand upon Luther’s platform: you are accepted, looking outward in faith and claiming the wholly alien righteousness of Christ as the only ground for acceptance, relaxing in that quality of trust which will produce increasing sanctification as faith is active in love and gratitude.
In order for a pure and lasting work of spiritual renewal to take place within the church, multitudes within it must be led to build their lives on this foundation. This means that they must be conducted into the light of a full conscious awareness of God’s holiness, the depth of their sin and the sufficiency of the atoning work of Christ for their acceptance with God, not just at the outset of their Christian lives but in every succeeding day.”
Richard F. Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life (Downers Grove, 1979), pages 101-102, italics his.
Hat Tip: Already Not Yet
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
"...So we come again to the question: Could the theology of the cross be the litmus test of genuine Christianity in our day? The corrupt and the counterfeit push aside the whole concept of cross bearing in favor of a joy without it. Fake Christianity offers the Christian an imitation of Christ’s glory in heaven, not of his humiliation on earth. The phony and the artificial church turns worship into a spiritual happy hour devoid of repentance, with cheap absolution, with no thought of taking God seriously in either the law or the gospel. And people love it. They still get to be their own god, their own bible, their own source of ultimate truth and salvation."Hat Tip: JOLLYBLOGGER: The Litmus Test of Christianity Today
From "The Theology of the Cross" by Daniel M. Deutschlander
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
“Nowhere is salvation conceived of as a flight from history as in Greek thought; it is always the coming of God to man in history. Man does not ascend to God; God descends to man.”
- George Eldon Ladd
Hat Tip: Already Not Yet
Monday, January 4, 2010
“Have you heard God’s blessing in your inmost being? Are the words “You are my beloved child, in whom I delight” an endless source of joy and strength?Have you sensed, through the Holy Spirit, God speaking them to you? That blessing – the blessing through the Spirit that is ours through Christ – is what Jacob received, and it is the only remedy against idolatry. Only that blessing makes idols unneccesary. As with Jacob, we usually discover this only after a life of ‘looking for blessing in all the wrong places.’ It often takes an experience of crippling weakness for us to finally discover it. That is why so many of the most God-blessed people limp as they dance for joy.”
-- Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods
Hat Tip: The Gospel-Driven Church
Sunday, January 3, 2010
"Scripture . . . builds the church up by breaking the church open, and therefore in large measure by breaking the church down . . . Scripture is as much a de-stabilising feature of the life of the church as it is a factor in its cohesion and continuity . . . Through Scripture the church is constantly exposed to interruption. Being the hearing church is . . . the church's readiness 'that its whole life should be assailed, convulsed, revolutionised and reshaped.'"Hat Tip: Robin Parry at Theological Scribbles: Webster's Wisdom 2
John Webster, Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch. Cambridge: CUP, 2003, pp. 46-47.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
In his book Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesteron wrote, “How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it.” Nothing makes you more aware of your smallness and life’s potential bigness than being in relationship with the Living God.(Reading this post by Tullian Tchividjian at On Earth as it is in Heaven was worth it for me just to get this one quote.)
"...Holiness isn’t all about abstaining. Holiness is living out the life of Christ within us; it separates us from the world. Holiness is the Holy Spirit within our spirit hungering and thirsting for the best of life. He seeks the newness of life for us. He seeks to transform and renew our minds to habitually walk in Christ, everyday, all day. He does not lead us in the way of any temptation…not one. He leads us away from temptation. He guides us and steers our thoughts to the purity of life. The devil has us focus on our own desires, our own enjoyments, our own pleasures and comforts. The devil doesn’t want us to suffer any inconvenience for the sake of the gospel. He tells us God will understand why we do or do not do something. He tells us we need not bother ourselves with living as Jesus lived, or is calling us to live. Do you think Satan even reminds us that God is merciful and what we do is covered in the liberty of God’s grace? I think he does. Just as he used the goodness of God to entice Eve to eat of the tree in the midst of the garden of Eden. The reminder Satan gives comes before the act, not after.If you did know this, it is still good to be reminded - because we (I) are prone to forget!
Grace fills the crevices of our faults and weaknesses, yet gives what we need to close those gaps in our walk with Christ as they are revealed to us. Grace is second chances. Grace is patience in our immaturity. Grace covers our deficiencies and creates in us a desire to correct them as we grow in it’s shadows. Grace even makes allowances for our stubborn refusal to give all to Christ. It lets us go our own way until we fall flat on our faces, and then grace is the cushion beneath the hard pavement of consequence. Grace covers our sin and picks us up. Grace cradles us in its arms till we are healed to walk again. Grace is sufficient to meet all our needs. All means all. Every single thing we need is fulfilled in the grace of God. We won’t be kicked out of the kingdom because we fail a test, or lose a battle with our flesh. We will be given more grace to meet the challenges before us. We will be given more grace to drop our nets and follow Him immediately. We will be given more grace to pick up our cross. We will be given more grace to deny ourselves and live for Him, with Him, in Him."
Friday, January 1, 2010
I used to find people who spouted what I considered to be trite phrases like "Today is the first day of the rest of your life" to be very irritating - on the same level with those who plastered smiley faces on everything they owned. However, I have since had to repent of that opinion and attitude, because: (a) I realized I was sinfully proud, and (b) I realized that they were right.
For Christians, every day is New Years Day.
How else can you explain the Scripture in Lamentations 3:22-23: "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning;great is your faithfulness." If God's mercies to us are new each morning, then every day is the first day of the rest of my life; every day is new years day. Christ is the God of new creations, new births and new beginnings.
Here's how songwriter Carolyn Arends once put it.
New Year's Day
by Carolyn Arends
I buy a lot of diaries
Fill them full of good intentions
Each and every New Year's Eve
I make myself a list
All the things I'm gonna change
Until January 2nd
So this time I'm making one promise
This will be my resolution
Every day is New Year's Day
This will be my resolution
Every day is New Year's Day
I believe it's possible
I believe in new beginnings'
Cause I believe in Christmas Day
And Easter morning too
And I'm convinced it's doable'
Cause I believe in second chances
Just the way that I believe in you
Last week I wrote that for Christians it is always Christmas. Now I am writing that it is always New Years Day. I'm sorry if this seems trite - but sometimes trite sayings really are true.Happy New Year to you all- and may each day in it be filled with new beginnings, new possibilities, new joys and new mercies.