Saturday, December 31, 2011

We Made It!

Despite Harold Camping we made it to the end of 2011. Despite the Mayan calendar, we'll probably make it through 2012 also.  But whatever happens in the new year, I know that Jesus Christ will be large and in charge!

May all my readers have a blessed and prosperous new year.

Infinite Passion

"Christ demands a response of infinite passion, either of hatred or of love."

- Soren Kierkegaard

Friday, December 30, 2011

4 Christian Principles For Making Resolutions

Ligonier's blog has an article by Nathan Bingham called 4 Christian Principles For Making New Year's Resolutions

His 4 principles are:

1. Resolve Sensibly.
2. Resolve Dependently.
3. Resolve Humbly.
4. Resolve for Christ's Sake.

Sound sensible and biblical to me. Full explanations at the link.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pray for Nigeria

Let us all pray for our Christian brethren in Nigeria.  From a report at CT Magazine:
Christmas Day was marred for Nigerian Christians after a series of church bombings killed at least 35 and wounded dozens more. In a suburb of Nigeria's capital, Abuja, more than 30 worshipers died at St. Theresa Catholic Church as they left Christmas mass.

Analysts largely agree that the bombings were an attempt by Boko Haram, a radical Islamist group in northern Nigeria, to stoke simmering tensions between Muslims and Christians, which evenly divide Africa's most populous nation of 160 million. Last year, dozens died in Christmas Eve bombings around Jos.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) warned that such attacks might provoke a "religious war."
"Enough is enough," said CAN secretary general Saidu Dogo. "We shall henceforth in the midst of these provocations and wanton destruction of innocent lives and property be compelled to make our own efforts and arrangements to protect the lives of innocent Christians and peace-loving citizens of this country."
CT reported on more Nigerian Christians abandoning the practice of "turning the other cheek" earlier this December, and has extensively covered Nigeria's long-standing religious conflict.

Idolatry: Worship Distorted

Is your Worship Distorted ? Per Bill Clem at it's a question worth asking. And the solution is to confront your idols with the gospel.
I was asked to teach an intensive course at a seminary, three eight-hour days of presentation. During the first hour my agenda was to introduce the idea that we are all idolaters. I began by saying, “One hundred percent of your pastoral counseling will involve identifying and confronting idols.” Immediately the push back began: “Idolatry is a primitive idea”; “People don’t have idols; they have issues.” As long as we ignore what the Bible says about the human heart and what God desires from his people, we will raise these same objections. The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9)
He goes on to say that the root of idolatry is pride:
Pride is seen as detestable to God precisely because it steals from God’s glory and his preeminence. Pride is rebellion, but it is much more than rebellion against God’s authority. Pride is self-centeredness rather than God-centeredness. A proud heart sees itself as central and God as the one who must find his place of orbit in the proud heart’s universe. While few people who call themselves Christians would admit to such a self-centered worldview, I find my weeks filled with people with questions and comments such as these:

How can God be loving and let this bad thing happen to me?
I can’t believe in a God who let’s bad things happen.
I don’t care what the Bible says; this is what I want.
I have been praying for a Christian husband, and if God wanted me to marry one, then he would have provided one.
If God is against homosexuality, why did he create me this way?
If God wanted me to stay married, he should have told that to my cheating spouse.

Look beyond the content of those objections to the underlying conviction of those who are making them. The objectors believe they have rights and God has the responsibility to work within those rights. To their way of thinking, God can’t love and also do something the objector can’t understand, nor can God call for behavior that is inconvenient or politically incorrect. They believe that God has no right to ask them to opt for grace and forgive another when they have a “biblical” right to hurt someone who has hurt them.
 The whole thing is well worth the time to read.  Over the past two years I have really come to see the nature and power of idolatry in my life and in people in general. We need more emphasis on confronting idols with the power of the gospel.

And BTW, Clem's book Disciple: Getting Your Identity From Jesus is a good read.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bible Reading Plans for 2012

Are you making a resolution to read the Bible through in 2012?  Ligonier Ministries has published a list of Bible reading plans with links to printable PDF files for our use.
Many Christians take the beginning of a new year to evaluate their Bible reading habits, and then change or begin a Bible reading plan.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. — Psalm 119:105
For your convenience, we’ve compiled a list of Bible reading plans for you to choose from. Maybe this year you will read more of the Bible each day. Perhaps you’ll slow down your reading and instead spend more time considering what you read. Whatever it is you’re looking for in a reading plan, you should find it below.
Go to the link for the Ligonier lists.  Also, Justin Taylor has another list of Bible reading plans here.

I completed reading the Bible in 2011 using my church's reading plan. and I intend to do it again in 2012. How about you?

Resolution Dangers

Making any 2012 resolutions?  As you do, it's good to remember The Tyranny of Advice Christianity
I saw a commercial once (at 2 a.m.) that said I have to do whatever it takes to “actualize my best me.” Jargon aside, it makes sense, really. Doing results in being. Cause and effect. Want six-pack abs? Just buy the right product and give your new, healthy lifestyle 110% for 10 weeks and maybe you’ll see results. (Phew, I guess it’s time to get to work on those resolutions …)  It makes sense to assume that doing something will produce some change. But a personal makeover obsession won’t do one bit of good when it comes to fixing the human condition.

When you feel defeated by sin, burnt out by expectations, and discouraged by your inability to get it together, the last thing you need is “good advice.” So I don’t have any new advice for you. But I do have a bit of helpful hyperbole: Advice is tyranny. Okay, that’s a little over the top. But there’s a reason for the overstatement.

Much more at the link.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

It's Always Christmas

In Narnia it was said that the White Witch made it always winter and never Christmas.

For all who are in Christ it is always Christmas, no matter the season. May the spirit of the season stay with us all year.

Merry Christmas to all!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

To All of You On the Good Earth

Forty three years ago tonight, Christmas Eve 1968, I was a 12 year old boy with a Christmas television dilemma. On one channel the annual Red Skelton Christmas special was on. Our family really loved Red Skelton, and we all wanted to watch it. But on another channel was one of the most exciting events in human history - a live television broadcast from the Moon!

I was a space fanatic who wanted to grow up to be an astronaut. I knew all the astronauts by name. I cried in January 1967 when three men died in the Apollo 1 fire. They were my heroes. I had models of the various spacecraft and wanted to explain to anyone who would listen what was happening out at the moon.

Therefore, I chose both. Sitting inches from our black and white TV, I manually switched channels back and forth to see both the Skelton show and the moon broadcast.

Thus I was able to hear these words: "And for all the people back on earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send to you. 'In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth..'" The You Tube clip above is a recording of what I saw and heard that night.

The Apollo 8 astronaut crew of Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders took turns reading Genesis 1 from the King James Version of the Bible. As they read the ancient words, the on board TV camera showed the lunar landscape passing underneath the small and lonely spacecraft. The memory of hearing and watching that broadcast, and experiencing it live, is still awe inspiring even after 40 years.

Commander Frank Borman closed the broadcast with "And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, and a Merry Christmas to all of you, all of you on the good Earth." Here's wishing a Merry Christmas this night, forty three years later, to all of you on the good earth.

Among the Animals in the Stable

The Nativity
by C.S. Lewis

Among the oxen (like an ox I’m slow)
I see a glory in the stable grow
Which, with the ox’s dullness might at length
Give me an ox’s strength.

Among the asses (stubborn I as they)
I see my Saviour where I looked for hay;
So may my beastlike folly learn at least
The patience of a beast.

Among the sheep (I like a sheep have strayed),
I watch the manger where my Lord is laid;
Oh that my baa-ing nature would win thence
Some woolly innocence!

Hat Tip:  Gospel Driven Church

Friday, December 23, 2011

Let All Christians Rejoice

Let the just rejoice,
for their Justifier is born.
Let the sick and infirm rejoice,
for their Savior is born.
Let the captives rejoice,
for their Redeemer is born.
Let slaves rejoice,
for their Master is born.
Let free people rejoice,
for their Liberator is born.
Let all Christians rejoice,
for Jesus Christ is born.
- Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-440)
Hat Tip:  Jason Clark

Invited Into His Life

Insightful comments from "Chaplain Mike" at Internet Monk on the theological contant of Mary's song (The Magnificant) in Luke 1:46-51. 
Another way to put this is that the Gospel calls me to take my part in God’s Story, not merely to say that God has come to be an actor in my own personal narrative. He has not only “done great things for me,” but “his mercy extends to those who fear him from generation to generation.” The Divine Author has written me into his grand narrative! I am now a member of that great communion of saints that is living out “His-Story” in the world. The Bible and church history is the record of my family heritage. I share in its successes and shortcomings, its accounts of God’s faithfulness and human failure. Now God calls me to link my life, my sense of meaning, purpose, and significance, and the living out of my vocations to that Story. Because Jesus is the Ultimate Actor and his work the climactic, decisive movement of the Story, he calls me to center my life in Christ. He comes to me as my “Savior,” putting to death the old, sinful, self-centered me and resurrecting me to walk in newness of life in Christ. I do not invite him to come into my life, he invites me into his. He transfers me from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his beloved Son. In Christ, I enter and become part of his New Creation!
Much more good stuff at the link. It's life changing to realize that even more than we invite Jesus into our lives, He invites us into His!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Don't Miss the Words This Christmas #6

Then let us all with one accord
sing praises to our heavenly Lord,
that hath made heaven and earth of nought,
and with his blood mankind has bought.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
born is the King of Israe

Many of our most beloved Christmas carols and songs are full of good Biblical and theological content. However, it is easy to miss the truth we are hearing or singing due to long familiarity. I encourage you to take some time to really listen this Christmas season. Don't let the music just wash over you without hearing the words!

Bible Study Diagram

How to study the Bible in a nutshell.  the diagram is explained at the link.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gospel Wakefulness: Author Interview

Video: Jared Wilson on Gospel Wakefulness | Crossway:

The above video is an interview with Jared Wilson bout his new book Gospel Wakefulness, which I am reading now. It's a great book, and I commend the interview for your edification.

Beware Dead Orthodoxy

"Put no confidence in the mere fact that you hold to an orthodox faith, for a dead orthodoxy soon corrupts."

         —C.H. Spurgeon

Dangerous Places

"There is no more dangerous place to be than where the direct, straightforward teaching of the Word of God confronts dead religion. As long as dead religion is allowed to sleep the sleep of death, all continues placidly and peaceably. But when the truth of Scripture challenges empty religion, a cataclysmic collision is sure to result. This is because whenever the Word is taught in houses of worship that are devoid of gospel truth, hell is aggravated. As soon as the light of holiness and truth shines into the kingdom of darkness, sin is exposed, unclean spirits are angered, and Satan is provoked. Satan has no greater strongholds than houses of worship where the truth is suppressed. Nowhere is he more deeply entrenched in the lives of people than among those who are religious but who have no supernatural light of holiness and truth. But there is no greater threat to Satan's kingdom than the penetrating light of holiness and truth as it invades these fortresses of demons."
From Steven Lawson at Ligonier

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pray for North Korea

The horrible dictator of North Korea is dead. Let us all now pray for the people of North Korea, that their nation will open up to the gospel, that churches will be allowed to operate and that God will be worshiped and glorified in that very dark land.

Don't Miss Jesus Because of Jesus

A wise Christmas season warning from Jared Wilson :
There is a great danger this Christmas season of missing the point. And I’m not referring simply to idolatrous consumption and materialism. I’m talking about Christmas religiosity. It is very easy around this time to set up our Nativity scenes, host our Christmas pageants and cantatas, read the Christmas story with our families, attend church every time the door is open, and insist to ourselves and others that Jesus is the reason for the season, and yet not see Jesus. With the eyes of our heart, I mean.

I suppose there is something about indulging in the religious Christmas routine that lulls us into thinking we are dwelling in Christ when we are really just set to seasonal autopilot, going through the festive and sentimental motions. Meanwhile the real person Jesus the Christ goes neglected in favor of his plastic, paper, and video representations. Don’t get distracted from Jesus by “Jesus.” This year, plead with the Spirit to interrupt your nice Christmas with the power of Jesus’ gospel.
 Hat Tip:  Already Not Yet

The Real War on Christmas

Despite all the talk about a "War on Christmas" in America, we are all still free to celebrate the birth of Jesus in our homes and churches.  However, many of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world do not have that freedom.  From Charismatica comes this remeinder:
This is a good time to remember our Iranian brothers and sisters in Christ. Iranian authorities are threatening to arrest any Christians that outwardly celebrate Christmas this year. We have posted in the past about the continuing revival going on in Iran. Like China, it is a house church movement that is increasing through dreams, visions, and healings.

We should also remember Christians in Egypt. The recent election indicates that radical Islamists will soon be running the country. Over 60% of the vote went to Muslim Brotherhood and the more radical Nour Party. Last year during the Coptic Christmas (Celebrated in January) celebration there were several attacks on the Christian community. This year more attacks are expected since the central government no longer even tries to protect the Christians.

Again this year, we should remember Christians in Iraq. The last several years there have been incidences of Churches, Christian businesses, and homes being attacked by radical Muslims during the Christmas season.

Also, the violence continues to rage against Christian communities in northern Nigeria. There seems to be no end in sight as Muslim mullahs continually incite Muslim ‘worshippers’ to attack Christians following Friday services. Literally there is at least one violent incident a week in that country.
Lord, we pray for the day when there truly will be "peace on earth" when Christ is King of all!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Million Gleaming Facets

 “Why do angels long to look into the good news (1 Pet. 1:12)? Because it is fascinating! It is eternally interesting. It is thrilling. It is simple, yet complex. It is a diamond: one brilliant treasure with a million gleaming facets, each offering a million vantage points alight and gleaming with the majesty of its architect.”
— Jared C. Wilson, Gospel Wakefulness (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2011), 203
Hat Tip: Of First Importance

I've just started this book, and so far it's a good one!

Don't Miss the Words This Christmas #5

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! 

Many of our most beloved Christmas carols and songs are full of good Biblical and theological content. However, it is easy to miss the truth we are hearing or singing due to long familiarity. I encourage you to take some time to really listen this Christmas season. Don't let the music just wash over you without hearing the words!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Original GPS

Bringing Religion into Everything

"Just a hurried tell a story which puts the contrast between our feast of the Nativity and all this ghastly "Xmas" racket at its lowest. My brother heard a woman on a bus say, as the bus passed a church with a Crib outside it, "Oh Lor'! They bring religion into everything. Look - they're dragging it even into Christmas now!""

        ~ C.S. Lewis, Letters to an American Lady, Dec. 29, 1958, p80

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Opening Doors of Hope

"Advent is concerned with that very connection between memory and hope which is so necessary to man. Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became a child. This is a healing memory; it brings hope. The purpose of the Church’s year is continually to rehearse her great history of memories, to awaken the heart’s memory so that it can discern the star of hope.…

     It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope."

-Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) , Seek That Which Is Above,1986

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

One Verse for Christmas

Can the The Entire Christmas Story Be Told in One Verse? Ray Pennover says Galatians 4:4-5 will do the job.. Yeah, that's actually two verses, but who wants to be legalistic, especially when interpreting Galatians!

Check it out at the link.

Waiting for the Door to Be Opened

"A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes... and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent."

              - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

(Written while he was a prisoner of Hitler and the Nazis, awaiting execution)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Heaven Draws Up Earth

In the Incarnation God the Son takes the body and human soul of Jesus, and, through that, the whole environment of Nature, all the creaturely predicament, into his own being.

So that ‘he came down from Heaven’ can almost be transposed into ‘Heaven drew earth up into it,’ and locality, limitation, sleep, sweat, footsore weariness, frustration, pain, doubt, and death, are, from before all worlds, known by God from within.

The pure light walks the earth; the darkness, received into the heart of Deity, is there swallowed up. Where, except in uncreated light, can the darkness be drowned?”
C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, (San Diego: Harvest, 1964), 70ff.

Hat Tip: Desiring God:

Feel the Shiver

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Watch For The Light: Readings For Advent And Christmas:
We have become so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of God’s coming at Christmas that we no longer feel the shiver of fear that God’s coming should arouse in us. We are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us. The coming of God is truly not only glad tidings, but first of all frightening news for everyone who has a conscience.

Monday, December 12, 2011

On Fire

HT: Rick Ianniello

What Do You Have to Reject to “Accept Jesus”?

This is good - Ray Ortlund Writes:
“You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” 1 Thessalonians 1:9

You and I are not integrated, unified, whole persons. Our hearts are multi-divided. There is something like a board room in every heart. Big table. Leather chairs. Coffee. Bottled water. Whiteboard. A committee sits around the table. There is the social self, the private self, the work self, the sexual self, the recreational self, the religious self, and others. The committee is arguing and debating and voting. Constantly agitated and upset. Rarely can they come to a unanimous, wholehearted decision.

We are like that. We tell ourselves it’s because we are so busy, with so many responsibilities. The truth is, we are indecisive, held back by small thoughts of Jesus.

Such a person can “accept Jesus” in either of two ways. One way is to invite him onto the committee. Give Jesus a vote too. But then he becomes just one more complication. The other way to “accept Jesus” is to say to him, “My life isn’t working. Please come in and fire my committee, every last one of them. I hand myself over to you now. Please run my whole life for me.” That is not complication; that is salvation.

“Accepting Jesus” is not just adding Jesus. It is also subtracting the idols.
I've never really licked the common "christianeze" phrase "accepting Jesus."  But I am totally amazed that He accepted me!

Hat Tip: Already Not Yet:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Don't Miss the Words This Christmas #4

"Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy"
Many of our most beloved Christmas carols and songs are full of good Biblical and theological content. However, it is easy to miss the truth we are hearing or singing due to long familiarity. I encourage you to take some time to really listen this Christmas season. Don't let the music just wash over you without hearing the words!

Friday, December 9, 2011

New Kind of Men

“God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man.”

                  - C.S. Lewis
God came from heaven to earth to make earthly men and women into heavenly creatures. Something to remember this wonderful season.

Does Writing 'Xmas' Take Christ out of Christmas?

Are you one of those Christians who gets upset over the use of "Xmas" as an abbreviation for Christmas? Heree's R. C. Sproul's explanation on the historical context for that practice - Does Writing 'Xmas' Take Christ out of Christmas?
The X in Christmas is used like the R in R.C. My given name at birth was Robert Charles, although before I was even taken home from the hospital my parents called me by my initials, R.C., and nobody seems to be too scandalized by that.

X can mean so many things. For example, when we want to denote an unknown quantity, we use the symbol X. It can refer to an obscene level of films, something that is X-rated. People seem to express chagrin about seeing Christ's name dropped and replaced by this symbol for an unknown quantity X. Every year you see the signs and the bumper stickers saying, "Put Christ back into Christmas" as a response to this substitution of the letter X for the name of Christ.

There's no X in Christmas
First of all, you have to understand that it is not the letter X that is put into Christmas. We see the English letter X there, but actually what it involves is the first letter of the Greek name for Christ. Christos is the New Testament Greek for Christ. The first letter of the Greek word Christos is transliterated into our alphabet as an X. That X has come through church history to be a shorthand symbol for the name of Christ.
We don't see people protesting the use of the Greek letter theta, which is an O with a line across the middle. We use that as a shorthand abbreviation for God because it is the first letter of the word Theos, the Greek word for God.

X has a long and sacred history
The idea of X as an abbreviation for the name of Christ came into use in our culture with no intent to show any disrespect for Jesus. The church has used the symbol of the fish historically because it is an acronym. Fish in Greek (ichthus) involved the use of the first letters for the Greek phrase "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior." So the early Christians would take the first letter of those words and put those letters together to spell the Greek word for fish. That's how the symbol of the fish became the universal symbol of Christendom. 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.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Stable Influence

Don't Miss the Words This Christmas #3

"God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay.
For Jesus Christ our Savior,
Was born on Christmas Day;
To save us all from Satans power,
When we were gone astray.
O tidings of comfort and joy!"
From "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen "
Many of our most beloved Christmas carols and songs are full of good Biblical and theological content. However, it is easy to miss the truth we are hearing or singing due to long familiarity.  I encourage you to take some time to really listen this Christmas season.  Don't let the music just wash over you without hearing the words!

Church History in 5 Hours

Here's an interesting condensed audio summary of All of Church History in 5 Hours! via MP3 files with PDF Handouts at Parchment and Pen.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

"I preach as though Christ was crucified yesterday, rose from the dead today and was coming back tomorrow."
                            —Martin Luther

Maybe we should live that way also.

All I Want for Christmas....

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Oh Come, Emmanuel!

More beautiful and uplifting Christmas music from the Annie Moses Band. Enjoy!

Deceptive DNA

"You'll never understand sin's sleight of hand until you acknowledge that a significant part of the DNA of sin is deception. As sinners we are all very committed and gifted self-swindlers. No one is more influential in your life than you, because you talk to yourself more than anyone else does. What you say to yourself is profoundly important. Your words either aid God's work of conviction and confession or they assist sin's system of deception. So it's important to humbly admit that we're all too skilled at looking at our own wrong and seeing good. We're all much better at seeing the sin, weakness, and failure of others than we are our own. We're all very good at being intolerant in others the very things that we willingly tolerate in ourselves. The bottom line is that sin causes us not to hear or see ourselves with accuracy. And we not only tend to be blind, but, to compound matters, we also tend to be blind to our blindness."
From Paul Tripp at As You Are – The Gospel Coalition Blog. Much more at the link

Don't Miss the Words This Christmas #2

"Yea, Lord we greet Thee,
born this happy morning,
Jesus, to Thee be all glory given;
Word of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing;
Oh come, Let us adore Him!"

-Adeste Fidelis / Oh Come All Ye Faithful

Many of our most beloved Christmas carols and songs are full of good Biblical and theological content. However, it is easy to miss the truth we are hearing or singing due to long familiarity.  I encourage you to take some time to really listen this Christmas season.  Don't let the music just wash over you without hearing the words!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tim Keller's Google Talk On Marriage

Tim Keller made an hour long talk on the meaning of Marriage from a Christian perspective to Google employees at their headquarters. This event took place on November 14, 2011, as part of the Authors@Google series. I can't think of anyone else who could do this, certainly not as well as he did. It's worth a listen!

Hat Tip: Reformissionary: Tim Keller | Google Talk On Marriage

Of course, his book The Meaning of Marriage is great too!

Man's Maker Made Man

Man’s Maker was made man
that the Bread might be hungry,
the Fountain thirst,
the Light sleep,
the Way be tired from the journey;
that Strength might be made weak,
that Life might die.

—St. Augustine

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”   (John 1:14)

Free Download of R. C. Sproul Classic

The Kindle edition of R.C. Sproul's classic book The Holiness of God is available for FREE download on Amazon.

This book is a life changer! I would list it with the top five books that have most affected my Christian life. If you use Kindle or another an e-reader, don't miss this opportunity.

Did I mention that it is FREE??!!!

Don't Miss the Words This Christmas!

Many of our most beloved Christmas carols and songs are full of good Biblical and theological content. However, it is easy to miss the truth we are hearing or singing due to long familiarity.  I encourage you to take some time to really listen this Christmas season.  Don't let the music just wash over you without hearing the words!  For example:
"Christ, by highest heaven adored;
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of the Virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the godhead see,
Hail the incarnate Deity!
Pleased as God with Man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel!"

From "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing": by Charles Wesley
There is A LOT of truth packed into those few brief lines!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Doubled By Wonder

"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."

                    - G. K. Chesterton

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tremble When You Are Told...

Have you ever heard of St. John Chrysotom?  Chrysostom Has Me Longing for Christmas : 

Do not think you are hearing of small things
when you hear of this birth,
but rouse up your mind,
and tremble when you are told
that God has come upon earth.
For so marvelous was this,
and beyond expectation,
that because of these things
the very angels formed a choir,
and in behalf of the world
offered up their praise for them,
and the prophets from the first were amazed at this,
that He was seen upon earth, and conversed with men.
For it is far beyond all thought
to hear that God the Unspeakable, the Unutterable,
the Incomprehensible, and He that is equal to the Father,
has passed through a virgin’s womb,
and has chosen to be born of a woman,
and to have Abraham and David for forefathers.
Hearing these things, arise, and think of nothing low!
And most of all you should marvel at this -
that being Son of the Unoriginate God, and His true Son,
He suffered Himself to be called also Son of David,
that He might make you son of God.
He suffered a slave to be father to Him,
that He might make the Lord Father to you a slave!
- Chrysostom, 347-407 A.D.

Hat Tip:  Kingdom People:

Let Nothing You Dismay

I've been preparing my heart for Christmas by listening to the lovely music of The Annie Moses Band, a family of Juilliard trained musicians who weave a spectacular blend of pop, classical, and jazz influences to create a new and exciting sound. This rendition of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" is both beautiful and uplifting - and just downright amazing!

Check out their website at!

Friday, December 2, 2011


St. Hilary of Poitiers (c. AD 315-67):

“All unbelief is foolishness, for
it takes such wisdom as its own finite perception can attain,
and measuring infinity by that petty scale,
concludes that what it cannot understand must be impossible.
Unbelief is the result of incapacity engaged in argument.”
De Trinitate, III.24, cited in Douglas Kelly, Systematic Theology, vol. 1, p. 19.

Hat Tip: What Is Unbelief? – Justin Taylor:

Bumper Sticker Wars

The ultimate "oneupmanship!"

Hat Tip: Cartoon of the Month | Christianity Today

Thursday, December 1, 2011

How Linus Got to Read from Luke's Gospel

Do you love "A Charlie Brown Christmas??  Even back in 1965, TV executives didn't think audiences would accept the reading of the Bible on national TV.  Here's some back ground on how it happen.
“We got a call from Coca-Cola,” remembered Melendez. “And they said, ‘Have you and Mr. Schulz ever considered doing a Christmas show with the characters?’ and I immediately said ‘Yes.’ And it was Wednesday and they said, ‘If you can send us an outline by Monday, we might be interested in it.’ So I called Sparky on the phone and told him I’d just sold ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas,’ and he said, ‘What’s that?’ and I said, ‘It’s something you’ve got to write tomorrow.’” 

We learned in that American Masters series that Schulz had some ideas of his own for the Christmas special, ideas that didn’t make the network suits very happy. First and foremost, there was no laugh track, something unimaginable in that era of television. Schulz thought that the audience should be able to enjoy the show at its own pace, without being cued when to laugh. CBS created a version of the show with a laugh track added, just in case Schulz changed his mind. Luckily, he didn’t.

The second big battle was waged over voiceovers. The network executives were not happy that the Schulz’s team had chosen to use children to do the voice acting, rather than employing adults. Indeed, in this remarkable world created by Charles Schulz, we never hear the voice of an adult.

The executives also had a problem with the jazz soundtrack by Vince Guaraldi. They thought the music would not work well for a children’s program, and that it distracted from the general tone. They wanted something more . . . well . . . young.

Last but not least, the executives did not want to have Linus reciting the story of the birth of Christ from the Gospel of Luke. The network orthodoxy of the time assumed that viewers would not want to sit through passages of the King James Bible.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ladies Need Theology

From Ladies: Do Not Shy Away from Theology  by Jessica Thompson, co-author of Give Them Grace 
When I say the word “theology” what scary picture rushes into your mind? A thin man with a long white beard, and a monotone voice droning on and on about words you can’t understand? Or a group of people arguing seemingly about nothing but semantics? Or a book that you know you probably should read, but every attempt results in narcolepsy?

Let me paint a different picture for you: A woman sitting at the feet of her Rescuer, discovering the greatest love of her life; His likes and dislikes; pushing herself into who He is, relishing every aspect of His beautiful, amazing character. This, my sisters, is what theology is. Theology contemplates God, discovers the God you have pledged yourself to. As women, we study and want intimate knowledge of those we love, of those we are in relationship with. Why would we shy away from or snub knowing the One that knows us most fully?

Theology isn’t just a scary word. Theology, knowing God, is what will keep you when the trials come. If you have a false idea about God, you won’t be able to understand why He would allow suffering or hurt to come into your life....
More at the link.

Heart Guarding for Guys

Blogger "Jamie the Very Worst Missionary" has some wise words for guys on guarding our hearts.  Wise words, even if stated in her usual humorous and self-depreciating manner. Speaking of Proverbs 4:23 she concludes:

When I look around the church, when I talk amongst my friends, when I peek into the world - I see men who are broken and hurting, men tied to their addictions, men out of control, men drowning in lust, so many men longing for peace and grace and mercy, and in desperate need of restoration for their tattered and broken hearts. Hearts that have gone unguarded for far too long. And I want to break this verse like an alabaster jar over their brows. I want to pour out the perfume of Redemption on their lives. I want to release the words of Solomon to his sons, that they may be free to take up their spears and stand guard over their own hearts, because their hearts are worthy of the effort.... above all else....

"Above all else, guard your heart, 
for it is the wellspring of life."

...Above all else..... above all else.... above all else..... guard your heart, Bro. 
Much more at the link.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Repenting for the Way We Repent

Interesting post at the blog Forward Progress about Repenting for the Way We Repent
Martin Luther’s first of 95 thesis reads like this: “When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ said repent, He meant that the entire lives of believers should be of repentance.”
That’s a big call, but one you find to be true as you grow in Christ. Repentance isn’t a one time thing; it’s a lifestyle. When you’re a child, repenting often meant saying you’re sorry and really meaning it. But as you grow in Christ (and in age), you become more self-aware. And as you do, you start to find some disturbing things in play within you.
You find just how duplicitous your motives can be.
You discover how great is your capacity to deceive yourself.
And, in the case of repentance, you find that often when you repent, you don’t really mean it. You’re sorry for the consequences of the sin, but maybe not the sin itself. Or you make internal excuses for your actions, saying you’re sorry, but all the time justifying what you’ve done.
As our capacity for repentance increases, we find that we might need to repent of the very manner in which we are repenting.
More at the link. He goes on to say that we should not allow this concept to paralyze us with guilt, but rather to preach the gospel to ourselves even while repenting. The blood of Christ covers our sin and our inability ot properly repent of those sins. What a wonderful Savior!

Immeasurably Better

"Although it hurts us when he takes his own from us, his good will should be a greater comfort to us than all his gifts, for God is immeasurably better than all his gifts."

Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel, trans. and ed., Theodore G. Tappert, 1960, (Vancouver, BC: Regent College Publishing, 2003), 54.

Hat Tip:  Desiring God

Monday, November 28, 2011

Purified Thinking

“There is no other object of knowledge in the universe that exposes proud, man-exalting thinking like the cross does. Only humble, Christ-exalting thinking can survive in the presence of the cross. The effect of the cross on our thinking is not to cut off thinking about God, but to confound boasting in the presence of God. The cross does not nullify thinking; it purifies thinking.”

— John Piper, Thinking. Loving. Doing., ed. John Piper & David Mathis
(Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2011), 132

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Love God, Hate Idols

 "Little children, keep yourselves from idols."  (1 John 5:21 ESV)

I have often wondered why the First Epistle of John (one of my favorite books of the Bible) ends with the above emphatic command, which seems almost out of place to the themes of the body of the letter (living right, loving one another and believing the right things about Jesus). David Powlison has a good answer:
.....John’s last line properly leaves us with that most basic question which God continually poses to each human heart.

Has something or someone besides Jesus the Christ taken title to your heart’s trust, preoccupation, loyalty, service, fear and delight? 

It is a question bearing on the immediate motivation for one’s behavior, thoughts, and feelings. In the Bible’s conceptualization, the motivation question is the lordship question.

Who or what “rules” my behavior, the Lord or a substitute? 

The undesirable answers to this question—answers which inform our understanding of the “idolatry” we are to avoid—are most graphically presented in 1 John 2:15-17, 3:7-10, 4:1-6, and 5:19. It is striking how these verses portray a confluence of the “sociological,” the “psychological,” and the “demonological” perspectives on idolatrous motivation.

The inwardness of motivation is captured by the inordinate and proud “desires of the flesh” (1 John 2:16), our inertial self-centeredness, the wants, hopes, fears, expectations, “needs” that crowd our hearts.

The externality of motivation is captured by “the world” (1 John 2:15-17,4:1-6), all that invites, models, reinforces, and conditions us into such inertia, teaching us lies.

The “demonological” dimension of motivation
is the Devil’s behavior-determining lordship (1 John 3:7-10,5:19), standing as a ruler over his kingdom of flesh and world.

In contrast, to “keep yourself from idols” is to live with a whole heart of faith in Jesus. It is to be controlled by all that lies behind the address “Beloved children” (see especially 1 John 3:1-3,4:7-5:12). The alternative to Jesus, the swarm of alternatives, whether approached through the lens of flesh, world, or the Evil One, is idolatry.

Hat Tip: Justin Taylor

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Priority of Biblical Literacy

I have long been a strong proponent of Bible reading as a spiritual discipline, and the benefit and necessity of Christians becoming intimately familiar with the Scriptures. Here's good comments from Ed Stentzer at Lifeway on The Urgent Need for Biblical Literacy
......There is much research that shows the correlation between spiritual maturity and reading the Bible. In Brad Waggoner's book "The Shape of Faith to Come," which is based on a LifeWay Research study, and in George Guthrie's "Read the Bible for Life" material, we see that reading the Bible is the best predictor of spiritual maturity. In other words, if you are in the Bible, you are growing spiritually.

Many people are realizing that we aren't making as many disciples as we would like. Studies done by LifeWay Research show a lack of discipleship among many evangelical Christians. So we need to ask: What's the answer to that? Issues such as preaching, missional living and "doing life" in a covenant community are all part of the solution. But I think there's no question that an essential element is leading God's people to consistently engage God's Word through reading, studying and memorization. Biblical illiteracy is prevalent and personal commitment to God's Word is the only real answer......

....Perhaps what evangelicals need most right now is a strategy for biblical literacy. We need to reengage the biblical narrative and immerse ourselves in consistent study. It will help us be more gracious and winsome in the way we communicate. It will help us have a clearer view on controversial issues. It will help us to understand and communicate a clear Gospel as laid out in the Scriptures -- a Gospel of the cross and of the Kingdom. The Word of God is essential to where we are right now.

Nearer to Hell

"...a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither."

- C. S, Lewis

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Root and Fruit of the Problem

What is the root of all sin?  Pride?  Greed? No, it is Unbelief - not believing the good news, according to Tullian Tchvidjian
Temptation is a false promise–a promise that doesn’t deliver. When we give into temptation, we are believing a lie. In the moment that we’re being tempted to do something, say something, or believe something, there is a deeper temptation happening under the surface. This may come as a surprise to you, but temptation has more to do with belief than it does behavior. Every temptation to sin (going all the way back to the Garden of Eden) is, at it’s root, a temptation to disbelieve the gospel.
When we are being tempted, we are being enticed to purchase something we think we need in order to escape the judgement of emptiness. On the surface, the bait might be lust, anger, greed, self-pity, defensiveness, entitlement, revenge, having to win, and so on. But the only reason we take the bait is because we think it will satisfy our deeper hunger for meaning, freedom, validation, respect, empowerment, affection, a sense of identity, worth, and so on.

So, here’s the connection between sinning (the fruit of the problem) and unbelief (the root of the problem): our failure to lay aside the sin that so easily entangles is the direct result of our refusal to believe in the rich provisional resources that are already ours in Christ–we’re not believing that, by virtue of our Spirit-wrought union with Christ, everything we need and long for, we already possess. John Calvin rightly said that, “Christians are in perpetual conflict with their own unbelief.”
Much more at the link.  I could spend many hours thinking through the meaning and implications of this brief quote ..... and probably should!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Marriage: Painful and Wonderful

More good stuff from Tim Keller's The Meaning of Marriage (Dutton, 2011), pages 47–49:
So, what do you need to make marriage work?
You need to know the secret, the gospel, and how it gives you both the power and pattern for your marriage. On the one hand, the experience of marriage will unveil the beauty and depths of the gospel to you. It will drive you further into reliance on it. On the other hand, a greater understanding of the gospel will help you experience deeper and deeper union with each other as the years go on.
There, then, is the message of this book — that through marriage the mystery of the gospel is unveiled. Marriage is a major vehicle for the gospel’s remaking of your heart from the inside out and your life from the ground up.
The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. This is the only kind of relationship that will really transform us.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Getting Some Perspective

Jollyblogger (aka David Wayne, pastor and cancer patient) posted a humbling and necessary reminder of our real status today. His comments are partially a response to this old post from Carl Trueman, An Unmessianic Sense of Non-Destiny., which I previously referenced here.
I think it’s time to say goodbye the Christian industrial complex, the evangelical hype and marketing machine that promises life change every Thursday and promises that you, yes, you, and me yes me, can change the world. Hogwash. None of us is required to change the world for Christ, Christ has changed the world permanently, none of us can do anything about it. Everyone wants to change the world, no one wants to do the dishes or take out the trash. I would trade every kid who takes a mission trip to change the world for one who would stay home and clean his room, treat his brother like a human being and help mom around the house without being asked twice. Changing the world is easy, the latter is harder and far more Christlike.
The same goes for adults – I don’t need to become a great leader, I need to prepare a regular ol’ word based sermon for Sunday, make some phone calls to some shut ins, listen to my elders instead of sharing my vision with them and generally be available to my congregation.

More Mercy

“There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us.”
— Richard Sibbes, Works, Vol. 1
(Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1979), 47

Something to be THANKFUL for!

Hat Tip: Of First Importance:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Frozen Chosen

From:  The Sacred Sandwich:

The Far Side

I want to reemphasize one line from the Tim Keller quote in the previous post:
"If you understand what holiness is, you come to see that real happiness is on the far side of holiness, not on the near side."

Wow! Just totally wow.

Holiness and Happiness in Marriage

From Tim Keller's new book mentioned in the previous post:
"A parishioner heard me preach on Ephesians 5, where Paul says that the purpose of marriage is to “sanctify” us. She said, “I thought the whole point of marriage was to be happy! You make it sound like a lot of work.” She was right—marriage is a lot of work—but she was wrong to pit that against happiness, and here is why. Paul is saying that one of the main purposes of marriage is to make us “holy . . . without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish” (verses 26–27). What does that mean? It means to have Jesus’s character reproduced in us, outlined as the “fruit of the Spirit”—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithful integrity, gentle humility, and self-control—in Galatians 5:22–25.

When Jesus’s love, wisdom, and greatness are formed in us, each with our own unique gifts and callings, we become our “true selves,” the persons we were created to be. Every page in the Bible cries that the journey to this horizon cannot be accomplished alone. We must face it and share it with brothers and sisters, friends of our heart. And the very best human friendship possible for that adventure is with the lover-friend who is your spouse.

Is all this a lot of work?

Indeed it is—but it is the work we were built to do. Does this mean “marriage is not about being happy; it’s about being holy”? Yes and no. As we have seen, that is too stark a contrast. If you understand what holiness is, you come to see that real happiness is on the far side of holiness, not on the near side. Holiness gives us new desires and brings old desires into line with one another.

So if we want to be happy in marriage, we will accept that marriage is designed to make us holy."

- Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, pages 132-133

Hat Tip: Take Your Vitamin Z

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Defining Marriage in a Kardashian World

Tim Keller was interviewed on Fox News the other day on the subject of the meaning of marriage in the light of the Kardashian fiasco, and the general state of marriage in American society. The interview is prompted by the publishing of the new book he co-authored with his wife, Kathy Keller, entitled The Meaning of Marriage.

The video is below. Please excuse the advertisement you have to listen to to get to the interview: I have no control over that. But the interview is well worth the wait.

Hat Tip: Vitamin Z

ESV Bibles on Sale at Westminster

If you like the English Standard Version of the Bible (as I do), check out the great sale at Westminster Books - All ESV Bibles at 40 to 45% off! Just in time for Christmas gifts.

Hat Tip: All ESV Bibles on Sale – Justin Taylor:

Thankful for Your Bible? Help Give Bibles Away!

For those of you who use Facebook, here's an easy way to  give Bibles to some people who really need them via Crossway Books:
That’s why this Thanksgiving week, as a way to raise awareness for how important books are in passing truth on to the next generation, Crossway is inviting you to help send Study Bibles to leaders in the Global South (in partnership with our friends at Desiring God).

It’s super easy.

Through next Monday (11/28), for every new “Like” on our Facebook page, Crossway will give $1 worth of Study Bibles through Desiring God’s International Outreach initiative. Every Study Bible given will go directly to our brothers and sisters in the Global South, many of whom are hungry for tools to better understand, apply, and share God’s Word.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Smokin' Hot!

"May you be comforted by the burning protective strength of your Father’s strong and stormy love.
May you be captivated by the focused heat and glow of your Bridegroom’s jealous passion.
May you recline at peace and with veiled face bow.

May you be thrilled and terrified at the rampaging, irresistible zeal of this consuming fire who has pledged Himself to do you good all the days of your life and who will not hold back even if the good seems bad, and stings and burns and blisters your skin.

May your heart thrill at the awesome God who held nothing back that He might hold you close, who poured on His Son what He never deserved that you might receive forever what you would not have desired, but were created for.

Then may your own heart become an altar aflame with fiery love and exclusive zeal to bring Him glory and expand His praise among all peoples and nations—among your friends and enemies too."

  - Timothy Stoner,  The God Who Smokes: Scandalous Meditations on Faith

Hat Tip: Trevin Wax at Kingdom People

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Everything You Need .....And More

"You can never be richer than the man who has Christ and nothing else. Because the man who has Christ has everything He needs and more." 
- Tullian Tchividjian

Friday, November 18, 2011

More Than 18 Dollars? Priceless!

Perry Noble posted a cute story of telling his 3 year old that he loved her more than she could imagine. She responds, “Do You Love Me More Than 18 Dollars?” Apparantly, that was the biggest number a 3 year old could imagine. He assured her he loved her more than even $18! He goes on the say:
When I left her room, laughing at how “cute” that moment was, I felt the Lord move in my heart and show me that trying to comprehend his love for me is like Charisse trying to comprehend my love for her; my mind could never conceive it! (Ephesians 3:17-19). God loves his children, not based on their performance, but rather as their position as his children.
If you belong to Jesus, God’s love for you is more powerful than the sin that seems to haunt you:
  • God loves you even though you are wrestling through an addiction
  • God loves you despite the abortion
  • God loves you even though the divorce was finalized
  • God loves you even though you can’t stop thinking about your past
  • God loves you even though you rejected his love and sought to be religious to gain his approval
  • God loves you even though you turned your back on him and ran as hard as you could
He loves you because you are his child (Romans 8:38-39) and the love he has for us is greater than anything we could imagine or fathom. When we try to describe his love we wind up saying really silly things like, “God, do you love me more than $18?” To which he replies, I love you more than you could ever imagine.
If you belong to Jesus, God’s love for you is more powerful than the sin that seems to haunt you.
Truth! Hard to believe at times - but so true.

From Do You Love Me More Than 18 Dollars? | The Resurgence:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Good Blasphemy

"A bride joined to her groom forsakes all others. She writes the spiritual equivalent of Dear John letters to her idols. When God's love captivates you, you go around spurning all your other lovers. I call this "blaspheming" your idols.

Blaspheme them. Tell them they have no appeal to you anymore. Tell them you don't need their damage, their pain, their anti-glories. Tell them you have no desires to use and abuse them anymore. Tell them your heart, mind, soul, and strength belong wholly to God now. And then don't speak as a love to them ever again. Sinful relationships must end."
 From Jared Wilson's book, Gospel Wakefulness, page 70

Hat Tip: Reformissionary: Blaspheme Your Idols:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Forgiveness is NOT….

7 Things Forgiveness is NOT….  from Ron Edmondson:
....Forgiveness is not an option for the believer. We are to forgive others as we have been forgiven. For most of us (all of us if we will admit it), that’s a whole lot of forgiveness. Understanding forgiveness doesn’t make it easier to forgive, but it does make it more meaningful…perhaps even tolerable…but I believe understanding the process could make us more likely to offer the forgiveness we are commanded to give....

...Here are 7 things forgiveness IS NOT:
Forgetting - When you forgive someone your memory isn’t suddenly wiped clean of the offense. I know God could do that, but it seems that would be the easy way. I suspect God wants forgiveness to be more intentional than that.
Regaining automatic trust - You don’t immediately trust the person who injured you when you forgive them. That wouldn’t even be logical. Trust is earned, and they must earn trust again.
Removal of consequences – Even though you forgive someone, they may still have consequences to face because of their actions.
Ignoring the offense – You don’t have to pretend nothing happened when you forgive. The reality is an offense was made. Acting like it never occurred only builds resentment and anger.
Instant emotional healing – Emotions heal with time. Some pain runs deep and takes longer to heal.
Restoring the same relationship – The relationship may be closer than before or not, but most likely it will never be the same.
A leverage of powerGranting forgiveness does not give a person power over the person being forgiven. That would violate the entire principle and purpose of forgiveness.....
Hat Tip: Blogotional

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Helping The Depressed

Ministering to the Depressed from HeadHeartHand Media on Vimeo.
by David Murray, author of Christians Get Depressed Too:

Hat Tip: Justin Taylor

The Mega Egyptian Prayer Meeeting

Andrew at Tall Skinny Kiwi has some details on the historic prayer meeting in Egypt held last Friday.
- 71,000 attended the all-night prayer meeting in Cario.
- It was the largest Christian event in Egypt for over a thousand years
- It was held at the cave church on Cairo's largest garbage city, Mokattam. This church is called St Simeon the Tanner Coptic Orthodox Church.
- The gospel was proclaimed during the Prayer event and some people responded to the challenge call to follow Jesus.
- Prayers for healing were made at midnight and some people were healed of physical problems.
- Since the event, one Egyptian Christian leader told us "The heavens are clean! It is easy to pray!" He calls it the beginning of revival.

More at the link.

Serenty Revised

Most people have heard of the Serenity Prayer, usually attributed to Reinhold Neibuhr and widely used by 12 Step Recovery groups.
"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference."
But have you heard this variation:
"God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it's me."
A lot of wisdom in both versions for our consideration.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Remember Sayed Musa

I wrote a while back about Afghan Christian Sayad Musa, who was threatened with death for converting to Christianity. The first interview with him since his release from prison has been published by World Magazine. The article includes additional information about the persecution of Christians in Afghanistan.

Hat Tip:  Kingdom People

Path to Happiness

Hat Tip:  22 Words

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Remember The Persecuted Church

Sunday, November 13, 2011, is the  International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, a global day of remembrance and intercession for persecuted Christians worldwide. This is a day to remember and pray for the hundreds of men, women, and children suffering for (and even dying for) Jesus Christ each day, fellow saints who are ignored by the world but watched by the eyes of heaven. You can learn more about this here and here and here and here,

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Don't Try to Do God's Job!

The default position of every human heart (my heart and yours too) is legalism and self justification. The words below are from an article at The Resurgence entitled I Just Need To Give Myself Grace:
We all create rules to follow that make us feel like we’re closer to God. This is a sin called legalism. We add rules that God doesn’t ask us to follow, feel good when we do them, or bad when we don’t, and in the process we create a new law.

Your laws are a burden

Some people make daily Bible reading into law. They feel justified and holy when they read, but guilty when they don’t. This is messed up because the point of reading the Bible is to draw closer to God, to love him more, understand him better, and have your heart transformed—but it’s easy to take the gift of the Bible and turn it into a burden. It only becomes a burden when you use reading the Bible or any other new law that you create to make you feel righteous, instead of understanding that you are only made righteous by Christ.

You can't do God's job

You can often tell someone has created a new law for themselves when they use a phrase like, “I need to give myself grace.” 

When you catch yourself saying this in your heart or aloud you need to realize that you’re assuming two things:

      1. You’ve created a law you’re not following.

      2. You are assuming God’s position in trying to give yourself grace. 

It’s so easy to use Christian-sounding words in anti-Christ ways. Repentance is a good thing; it’s one of the great gifts the Father gives us, the Son won for us, and the Spirit empowers us to do—but the important question is “who are you repenting to?

Don’t repent to false gods, ever

When you create your own law and violate it, you are sinning against the false god of self. When you worship money and don’t have enough, don’t repent to it and pour yourself out for the money. When you worship sex and don’t have it the way you want it, don’t repent to this idol and bow down at other altars. When you worship ministry, don’t offer your spouse, kids, and relationship with Jesus on this idol's altar. Repentance to false gods will harden your heart from true repentance....
 More at the link above.

The Original Tablet Computer

Hat Tip: Take Your Vitamin Z: Tablets Have Been Around For a Long Time

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cancelled Handwriting!

C. S. Lewis, in a letter to his priest, December 1951--
So great is the difference between mere affirmation by the intellect and that faith, fixed in the very marrow and as it were palpable, which the Apostle wrote was substance (Hebrews 11:1).

This emboldens me to say to you something that a layman ought scarcely to say to a priest nor a junior to a senior. (On the other hand, out of the mouths of babes: indeed, as once to Balaam, out of the mouth of an ass!). It is this: you write much about your own sins. Beware (permit me, my dearest Father, to say beware) lest humility should pass over into anxiety or sadness. It is bidden us to "rejoice and always rejoice" (Phil 4:4). Jesus has cancelled the handwriting which was against us (Col. 2:14-15). Lift up our hearts!
--The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Vol. 3 (Harper, 2007), 151-52

Hat Tip: Strawberry-Rhubarb Theology:

Veterans Day 2011

 Today is Veterans Day in the USA. November 11 was originally called Armistice Day, in memory of the end of World War I. It is now called Veterans Day in honor of all U.S. military veterans.I wish to make special recognition today for and to:

1. My Dad (Col. B.F. Simmons, USAF, retired), my late Grandfather (Jefferson L. Simmons, Mississippi National Guard in WWI in France), my late Uncle Franklin Simmons (Navy "Sea Bee" in WWII), Uncle Charles Shirley (Air Force), Uncle Hal Shirley (Army National Guard), Uncle Cranford Nelson (Navy), Cousin Harry Nelson (Navy), Cousin Jimmy Walters (Marine Corps), Cousin Shain Vice (Major, US Army), Brother-in-law Gary Meier (Army), nephew Dale Meier (Army, 82nd Airborne), and any other family members I'm forgetting.

2. All our men and women serving and protecting us on the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan, and many other places around the world.

3. All current and retired American veterans.

4. The families of those lost in Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan, and so many other places.

I am thankful and grateful for your service and sacrifice.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thankful for Laughter

Love this little prayer from The Anchoress. As she says, "Laughter is not just good medicine. Sometimes having the opportunity to laugh segues into a prayer of thanksgiving:"
Thank you, God, for the interruption to a hectic day, and the cleansing effect of a laugh. Thank you God that I can hear and see this, in order to so fully enjoy it. Thank you that my lungs work, so I can bark out “HA! That’s funny!” and it heals me more effectively than a thousand sighs. Thank you for the Holy Spirit, who moves on the air I breath, and therefore on all of my tears and laughter and carries them where you will. Thank you for the good friend who sent this to me, and the fact that I have any friends at all. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for my life, I do not appreciate enough.
Thank you, God, that a few minutes spent in frivolity only led me back to you, who — being all good — can only be my joy.
I needed that. Thanks for the laugh, Lord!