Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Writing on the Wall

Biblical reference: Daniel 5:1-6,25-30

Hat Tip: Ron Brackin

Free Book: Journeys of Faith

There's a give away drawing at Kononia blog today for a free copy of an interesting  new book titled  Journeys of Faith.
Journeys of Faith tells the stories of Evangelicals who have converted to Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Anglicanism, as well as members of those traditions who have joined Evangelicalism. After each story, a representative of the tradition that was left responds by defending their choice to stay faithful to that tradition.

Contributors include Wilbur Ellsworth (Eastern Orthodoxy), with a response by Craig Blaising; Francis J. Beckwith (Roman Catholicism), with Gregg Allison responding; Chris Castaldo (Evangelicalism) and Brad Gregory’s Catholic response; and Lyle Dorsett (Anglicanism), with a response by Robert Peterson.

The average American will change religious affiliations at least once in their life, which makes this is an important phenomenon for pastors, scholars, and all people of faith to understand. Personally, I know a number of people who have considered a move to more liturgical traditions, and the stories recounted in Journeys of Faith have proved a great place to start in better understanding the reasons for the decisions they made.
I entered, and would love to win a copy. Check it out for yourself at the link above.

Links for Wednesday

Some Links form my internet browsings:

Tim Keller on Creation, Evolution and Christian Laypeople

Fires of Revival Burning in China

What is Secret Church?

A Christian is a Person Who Cannot be Conquered - Great Story.

Three Marks of a Dead Church

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

But We Still Have Four

Hat Tip: Near Emmaus

The Hero of the Story

Here's a good and necessary reminder from TullianTchvidjian that the Bible is not about us; It's the story of Jesus:
..we often read the Bible as if it were fundamentally about us: our improvement, our life, our triumph, our victory. And as a result we treat it like a book of timeless principles that will give us our best life now if we simply apply those principles. We treat it, in other words, like it’s a heaven-sent self-help manual. But by looking at the Bible as if it were fundamentally about us, we totally miss Jesus–like the two on the road to Emmaus. In fact, unless we go to the Bible to see Jesus and his work for us, even our devout Bible reading can become fuel for our own narcissistic self-improvement plans.

So, if we read the Bible asking first, “What would Jesus do?” instead of asking “What has Jesus done” we’ll miss the good news that alone can set us free.

As I’ve said before, the overwhelming focus of the Bible is not the work of the redeemed but the work of the Redeemer. The Bible is the portrait of Jesus. It’s a picture of who he is and what he’s done. The Bible tells one story and points to one figure: it tells the story of how God rescues a broken world and points to Christ who accomplishes this. The OT predicts God’s rescuer; the NT presents God’s rescuer. In all of its pages and throughout all of its stories, the Word of the Lord reveals the Lord of the Word. The plot line of the Bible, in other words, is Jesus-centered. He is the Hero of the Story.
That fact that it is not about us, about me, is better for us in the long run.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Don't Become Your Past

"Often, longstanding hurts, disappointments and emotional wounds are like old, familiar friends. We let them become so engrained into our sense of identity that they begin to define us. When that happens, we often aren't willing to transparently expose and turn them them over to Jesus, but tightly hold onto them like a child clinging to a security blanket. Instead of finding transformation and wholeness, we become our past."
A Facebook quote from my friend Jim Wright, who blogs at Crossroad Junction.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Turn Off Your Cell Phone!

 Remember to turn off your cell phone during church services - or suffer the consequences!
(It's a joke - don't send me any angry e-mails)

Hat Tip:  Rick Ianniello

Friday, February 24, 2012

Tebow Shows Class

Football season may be over, but off the field Tim Tebow continues to demonstrate the meanings of the terms character, grace and compassion.  Check this out:

Tim Tebow ignores Brady Quinn’s slights while serving as dream date for 9-year-old.

Humble Movements

This is a humorous but poignant reminder for all leaders of Christian denominations, networks and movements to show a little humility.  Nobody gets it all right, we need each other, and we all need Jesus.

(Click on the picture to see it larger)

Hat Tip: Trevin Wax

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Justice Smiles

Let us wonder, grace and justice
Join and point to mercy's store;
When through grace in Christ our trust is
Justice smiles and asks no more.
--John Newton, 'Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder'

Hat Tip: Dane Ortlund

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Extreme Life Makeover

Found a great illustration on Law and Grace, using two reality TV shows (Biggest Loser and Extreme Home Makeover) at The Thinklings:
But I'm realizing that one of the draws of Biggest Loser for me is Law. Though there is often compassion and tenderness between the competitors, there is no grace regarding the results. The scale doesn't lie. I was talking to a personal trainer the other night and she likes the show as well but is horrified by the way they go about losing weight. Losing weight that fast, with brutal six hour a day workouts, is not safe. But we applaud Biggest Loser, with all its talk of "taking control of your life", "earning it", and "working your [behonkus] off". The Law can be appealing. It speaks to the drive that is in most of us to earn our own way toward our own goals through our own efforts without the help of grace.

Which brings me to Extreme Home Makeover. Oddly enough, I think that Extreme Home Makeover may be the closest picture of the Gospel in reality TV today. Have you noticed that the family being blessed is not even allowed to work on the house? And "makeover" is an understatement, to say the least. Generally, the house is completely gutted and rebuilt from the ground up.

I've thought, at times, that I would be uncomfortable as an Extreme Home Makeover blessee. I think that I would be embarrassed to not have any part in the renovation of a house that I had let, often due to my own hard circumstances, go to rot. I also might be a bit nervous about what I would see when that bus finally moved out of the way, because none of it was my doing or my plan.

My relationship with God is like that, most of the time. I want him to come in and fix my creaking floor, or repaint my bathroom, or install a new garage door opener (all, incidentally, recent needs in my actual house). His plan, and he means to complete it, is to gut the place, design a whole new floorplan, and build something Magnificent, just like He is.

It may make me uncomfortable, but it is Good News. And considering my skills in spiritual home repair, it is Very Good News.
I'm glad Jesus wants to knock down my miserable shack and build a palace -so long as He comes to live in it!

Study With Passion

"We Should Study Systematic Theology With Rejoicing and Praise. The study of theology is not merely a theoretical exercise of the intellect. It is a study of the living God, and of the wonders of all his works in creation and redemption. We cannot study this subject dispassionately! We must love all that God is, all that he says and all that he does....  Doctrine is to be felt at the emotional level as well as understood at the intellectual level."

       - Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine:

Hat Tip:  DashHouse

Monday, February 20, 2012

Bringing Truth to Bear

“Bringing the gospel truth to bear on every area of life is the way to be changed by the power of God.”
      — Timothy Keller  "The Centrality of the Gospel"

Friday, February 17, 2012

No Birth Defects

Do you ever feel like an incomplete Christian? I loved seeing this from Josh Blount:
.....there are no incomplete Christians either. None of us are perfect, but none of us are incomplete. Let me let Jonathon Edwards explain:
“A true convert, the moment he is converted, is possessed not of one or two, but of all holy principles, and all gracious dispositions. They may be feeble, indeed, like the faculties and powers of an infant child, but they are all truly there, and will be seen flowing out progressively in every kind of holy feeling and behavior toward both God and man. In ever real convert there are as many graces as there were in Jesus Christ himself.” (Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits, p.279).
Do you see what he means? If you’re a genuine Christian, the new nature God has created in you at the moment of regeneration, though underdeveloped and always imperfect in this life, is the complete new nature created in Jesus’ likeness. There are no Christians born with spiritual birth defects. No, you and I will never see the Holy Spirit’s work perfected in us in this life – but neither are we missing anything vital for godliness and Christian living.
I like that - no birth defects (new birth, that is) !

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Diagnosing Haters

Do you think of yourself as a hater?  Probably not. But if hate is the opposite of love, than the opposite of 1Corinthians 13 (the Love chapter) would be.......maybe what I found at Kevin DeYoung's  site:
Hate is impatient and unkind; hate is jealous and proud; hate is arrogant and rude.  Hate always insists on doing things its way; hate gets upset over every offense and keeps a close record of every wrong.  Hate does not delight to see good things, but rejoices when people screw up or get what’s coming to them.  Hate complains about anything, is cynical about everything, has no hope for anyone, and puts up with nothing.
So if I am jealous, unkind or rude I might be a hater?  Ouch! Hits home, doesn't it.

Lord Jesus, reduce me to love!

Drown Proofed

“Jesus, our head, is already in heaven; and if the head be above water, the body cannot drown.”

- John Flavel, The Fountain of Life
(Edinburgh, UK: Banner of Truth)

Hat Tip:  Of First Importance

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Contortional Reading Habits

This could have been me about 45 years ago. My mother never could fathom my contortional ready habits.

Hat Tip:  22 Words

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lord of the Dishes

“Jesus Christ is Lord over my heart, and he is Lord over my hands, and he is Lord over what I do with these hands, and he is Lord over what I say in my heart while I’m doing it. In submitting to the lordship of Christ, then, I do not treat washing dishes as wasting time I could be spending doing something ‘meaningful,’ but rather as a service to those who eat in my home, as a service to those who would have to wash dishes if I did not, and as an offering of thanksgiving to God that I have food to eat, dishes to eat it on, and running water inside my home to clean with.”

— Jared C. Wilson Gospel Wakefulness
(Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2011), page 92

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Monday, February 13, 2012

Jesus Did Not Come...

  • Jesus did not come to make us happy. He came to make us holy.
  • Jesus did not come to make good people better. He came to make dead people live.
  • Jesus did not come to make your marriage happy. He came to transform two sinners into a picture of his self-giving love for us and of our proper response to him.
  • Jesus did not come to give you your best life now. He came to bring you into his best life for eternity.
  • Jesus did not come so you could ask him into your life. He came to call you into his life.
  • Jesus did not come to improve your story. He came to bring you into his story.
  • Jesus did not come to make your life into a comfortable cottage for your pleasure.  He came to make your life a majestic palace for his presence.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hands Off!

A traditional cry of the "pro-choice" movement has been "keep your hands off my body."  Well, this video might just change some minds about that argument.

Hat Tip:  Vitamin Z

Unshaken Word

In a world of created changeable things,
Christ and His Word alone remain unshaken…
Let me know that He is dear to me by His Word;
I am one with Him by the Word on His part, and by faith on mine;
If I oppose the Word I oppose my Lord when He is most near;
If I receive the Word I receive my Lord wherein He is nigh.
O Thou who hast the hearts of all men in Thine hand,
form my heart according to the Word,
according to the image of Thy Son,
So shall Christ the Word, and His Word,
be my strength and comfort.

- Arthur Bennett, The Valley of Vision, 17.

Hat Tip: Kingdom People

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Heavy Responibility

"You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say."
               - Martin Luther

When to Shut Up

I like this!
we wrangle about the end of the world
and its beginning too
but when YHWH comes in the whirlwind
shut up, we haven’t a clue
From "Chaplain Mike" at Internet Monk

Not only do I like it, but I also think it's a pretty good summation of the message of the Book of Job.

Friday, February 10, 2012

From Victoria's Secret to Proverbs 31

Interesting story from Joe Carter at the Gospel Coalition:
In 2009, 19-year-old Kylie Bisutti beat out 10,000 other young women to win the Victoria's Secret Model Search. Now, at 21, Bisutti says she quit working for the company because modeling lingerie does not conform to her Christian beliefs.....

....While Bisutti will continue with her modeling career, she'll do so with her clothes on:
I didn't really want to be that kind of role model for younger girls because I had a lot of younger Christian girls that were looking up to me and then thinking that it was okay for them to walk around and show their bodies in lingerie to guys.
On the website of Live31, a non-profit organization promoting healthy self-image through a biblical worldview, Bisutti shares her story and explains how her local church played a role in her decision. In an essay titled "I Quit Being A Victoria's Secret Model To Become A Proverbs 31 Wife," she says, "Christ also led my husband and I to a great church that has helped me so much. It is a lot easier to stay grounded when you are plugged into a church and fellowship with other believers."
I wish her and her husband well. And BTW, if you clicked here looking for lingerie pictures, this is not that kind of blog!

Whom the Lord Loves.....

"It is never said, “whom the Lord loveth he enricheth,” but it is said, “whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.” "

           —C.H. Spurgeon

Hat Tip:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Lord's Sigh and Face Palm

I'm certain he frequently feels this way about me, but I'm so glad he loves me anyway!

The Pharisee's 10 Commandments

Are you a Pharisee?  Check to see if you are obeying The Pharisees’ 10 (+1) Commandments:
  1. Thou shalt believe that your truth is THE only valid truth.
  2. Thou shalt interpret and judge a man’s heart through those actions you see. Nothing else is to be considered.
  3. Thou shalt use your vast knowledge of God to be right in any and all arguments, especially if others think you should apologize. Use favorite Scripture pieces at will.
  4. Thou shalt debate this vast knowledge vigorously with others. They must understand your truth at all costs. All costs.
  5. Thou shalt seek the approval and admiration of others above all else. They must see you as you think God sees you.
  6. Thou shalt not develop unholy relationships. They cannot love you if they do not agree with your truth.
  7. Thou shalt seek to make others holy through your truth at every occasion. It is your duty as the protector of your truth.
  8. Thou shalt use grace to show the largesse of your heart. Make sure everyone sees it.
  9. Thou shalt exhort others by telling them what you know God wants to tell them. He speaks through you. Make sure they listen and understand. This is especially important during their times of intense suffering.
  10. Thou shalt never question any intent, thought or action you have. Fight mightily or flee swiftly those who do.
  11. Thou shalt never doubt the First Commandment. It is your only rock in a very shifting world.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Come. Try, Taste

Sinner, the greater sinner thou art, the greater need of mercy thou hast, and the more will Christ be glorified thereby.

Come then, come and try; come taste and see how good the Lord is to an undeserving sinner.
--John Bunyan, Come, and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, in The Works of John Bunyan (2 vols; Philadelphia: James Locken, 1832), 2:16
Hat Tip: Dane Ortlund

Back Off

Okay, this cute picture has been all over Facebook recently, but, over-exposed or not, It is still totally true.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Looking Through the Symbols

From The Master's Table  comes this reminder to look through the symbols to the underlying realities::
We wear crosses of gold and silver about the neck, carve them into our church pews, paint them in our artwork and place them above our church buildings.  As an icon, the cross represents Christianity.  But our images have no splinters, rusty nails, nor do they drip with the blood of the slain.  The image of the cross is meant to remind us that the broken body of Christ was hung on the tree.  Our communion wafers are perfect little squares, and the wine/juice tastes sweet, but the body of the Lord was broken and his blood poured out.  Flesh was ripped away by the whip.  Blood and sweat mingled and dripped to the ground.  The air was ripe with the smell of blood and the stench of death.  The cross was an instrument of torture and execution.

I’m not suggesting we do away with the symbols.  It is our nature to forget, and we must be reminded of what God has done.  Rainbows actually are beautiful, but they remind us of mercy in the face of judgment.  Baptism represents death of the old man and rebirth of the new.  Passover reminded the Jews of what God had done for them, just as communion does for us today.  Our hope is in the resurrection, made possible by the crucifixion.  We must remember what God has done.  But remember as well… it wasn’t pretty.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Holy Ambition

"Please pray for me,
that I may have both spiritual and physical strength to perform my duties;
that I may not only speak the truth but become the truth;
that I may not only be called a Christian, but also live like a Christian.
Yet I do not want people to look to me as an example,
for at best I can only be a pale reflection of Christ Jesus;
let people look away from the reflection and turn to the reality.
Christianity is not a matter of persuading people of particular ideas,
but of inviting them to share in the greatness of Christ.
So pray that I may never fall into the trap of impressing people with clever speech,
but instead I may learn to speak with humility,
desiring only to impress people with Christ himself."

      - Ignatius of Antioch, 35-108 A. D., Bishop and Martyr

 Hat Tip: Trevin Wax

Friday, February 3, 2012

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Great Reposting Cartoon

"Jesus" deals with one of my pet peeves. Click on the picture to see it larger.

Hat Tip: The Master's Table

More Than a Lovely Idea

"Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive."

 - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Page 104, Quoted by Michael Chase, The Gospel is for Christians, page 163

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.(Matthew 6:14-15 ESV)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

To Progress is Always to Begin Again

"We become Christians through faith and repentance, and we grow as Christians through continual faith and repentance. We don’t graduate from the gospel to some advanced way of holiness or progress. Martin Luther said, ‘To progress is always to begin again.’
— Tim Chester, You Can Change (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2010), 107

Inspiration Sells - Jesus Transforms!

Inspiration Sells, But Only Jesus Transforms.  This post by Jared Wilson is worth reading for the title alone!