Thursday, January 31, 2013

Always Inclined Toward You

"For those who are in Christ, he serves as a mediator, bringing our prayers to God. And since God the Holy Spirit indwells those who are in Christ, our prayers are by the Spirit, through the Son, to the Father. He hears Your spoken words, unspoken thoughts, and unclear longings. This one fact is utterly astonishing. God's heart is always inclined toward you, his face is set toward you, and his ear open for you. This explains why the Bible invites us to 'pray without ceasing' about anything, anytime, anywhere."

- Mark Driscoll,   Who Do You Think You Are?: Finding Your True Identity in Christ, page 111

Is Yours Tapped In?

From Creature of the Word

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

On Mission With Jesus

"The first verse of Acts references 'all that Jesus began to do and teach.' This means that Christ is still doing and still teaching today: He is presently on mission in our world. For years the church has said, 'Let's go on mission in the name of Jesus.' What we should be saying is, 'Let's be on mission with Jesus.' You have been put on earth, in this time and place, where you are right now, for Missio Christi. Our goal as individuals and as the gathered church, is to figure out what Christ is presently doing and then do it with Him."
    -Britt Merrick, Godspeed: Making Christ's Mission Your Own
Note: In and among the quotes from the Driscoll book, I'll also be quoting from this great book by Britt Merrick. Because I'm quoting from a Kindle edition, I will not be able to reference page numbers.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Will the Real Charismatic Please Stand Up

Found this interesting article by C. Michael Patton in which he explores the various attitudes toward spiritual gifts in contemporary American Christianity, and decides that it isn't so easy to define who is a charismatic anymore. And, as always with Patton, there are charts!

He explains all these terms in the article. I had to do some thinking and self examination to see where I fit on this gradient, and decided I fall to the right of the middle line between options 4 and 5.

How about you?

Where Identity Begins

"The absolute worst place to begin constructing an identity is you, which is precisely where most counseling begins. The absolute best place to begin constructing an identity is Jesus Christ, which is precisely where Scripture begins. Knowing Jesus and being saved by him in faith is the key to your identity and to the defeat of your idolatry. It's not about you. It's all about Jesus."

     -Mark Driscoll,  Who Do You Think You Are?: Finding Your True Identity in Christ, page 17

Monday, January 28, 2013

It's Not Holy Trail Mix

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

(2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

How People Change

From a review at the Resurgence of the book How People Change by Timothy S. Lane & Paul David Tripp:
The central theme of How People Change is that much of the time, Christians live with a “gospel gap.” We believe the gospel intellectually, but we don’t live out its implications practically. This gospel gap “subverts our identity as Christians and our understanding of the present work of God” as it “undermines every relationship in our lives, every decision we make, and every attempt to minister to others” (p. 2).
The gospel gap
The gospel gap produces three kinds of blindness: “blindness of identity,” when we underestimate the power of indwelling sin and misunderstand our identity in Christ Jesus; “blindness of God’s provision,” when we do not understand that God has provided “everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3); and “blindness to God’s process,” when we forget that the Christian life is one of “constant work, constant growth, and constant confession and repentance” (p. 6).Many external things can wrongly fill the gap of the gospel for us:
  • Formalism reduces the gospel to church attendance and spiritual disciplines.
  • Legalism adds to the gospel law-keeping and rule-keeping.
  • Mysticism reduces the gospel to personal experience.
  • Activism reduces the gospel to doing social justice.
  • Biblicism reduces the gospel to loving theology more than Jesus.
  • Psychology-ism reduces the gospel to therapy.
  • Socialism reduces the gospel to being accepted by a particular Christian community.
By contrast, the authors offer five gospel perspectives that fill the gospel gap:

Heretical Steps

Seven steps to becoming a heretic

(but if you really want to become one, you can probably do it without any help).


Your Hurts Are Not Your Identity

"When we suffer, we can easily allow our hurt to become our identity. Our pain can become all-consuming and overwhelming. Admittedly, it's hard to tell a cancer patient, divorcee, or rape victim that his or her pain isn't the defining aspect of who that individual is. But if we truly love those who suffer, we must humbly, graciously, and patiently explain that to be a Christian is not to live a life free from suffering, but rather, suffering should lead us to identify with Jesus, who suffered more than anyone in history on our behalf."

  - Mark Driscoll, Who Do You Think You Are?: Finding Your True Identity in Christ, page 13

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Church on the Cafeteria Plan

You Are Not What You Do

"The truth is that you're not what you do. you have God-given natural talents, Holy Spirit-endowed gifts, and unique abilities. You also have duties, but these duties do not define you, because your identity is not determined by what you do. Rather, who you are in Christ helps you faithfully pursue your duties and use your abilities without them becoming the essence of your dignity and identity."

           - Mark Driscoll, Who Do You Think You Are?: Finding Your True Identity in Christ, page 9

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Reading the New Driscoll Book

I'm currently reading Mark Driscoll's new book Who Do You Think You Are: Finding Your True Identity in Christ. I've already posted some quotes from it and will be posting more. In full disclosure, I received a free pre-publication copy from the publisher as part of their program for bloggers.

I have read several (but not all) of Driscoll's previous books. I have not found anything in the ones I have read that I seriously disagree with. Pastor Driscoll is controversial, and I certainly am not going to blanket endorse everything he has written or done. However, anyone who has built a church as large as his in one of the most unchurched cities in America deserves at least some benefit of the doubt.

This book is a study of identity, based on Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians. I have read Ephesians countless times, and have read many commentaries and studies on the book. But until now, I have never read or heard anyone point out something Driscoll does. Every commentator points out that Ephesians has too parts: Chapters 1-3 are theological in nature, and chapters 4-6 are practical. Driscoll adds that chapters 1-3 are about identity in Christ, and chapters 4-6 attack the idols in his readers lives based on that understanding of their true identity. That makes perfect sense.

I look forward to finishing the book, posting more quotes, and doing a review when I am finished.

Is Your City "Biblically Minded"?

From an article by Joe Carter at the Gospel Coalition:
The Story: A new report from Barna Group ranks how 96 of the largest cities in the nation on how they view the Bible.
The Background: The study, based on 42,855 interviews conducted nationwide, attempts to determine the overall openness or resistance to the Bible in the country's largest markets. The report ranks the most and least "Bible-minded" cities based both on weekly Bible reading and who strongly asserts the Bible is accurate in the principles it teaches.
The Takeaways: Some of the more interesting findings from the survey include:
• The top ranking cities, where at least half of the population qualifies as Bible-minded, are all Southern cities.
• The least Bible-oriented markets include a mix of regions, but tend to be from the New England area.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Horror of An Honest Pro-Abortion Feminist

The mental and verbal gymnastics most "pro-choice" people go through to argue that unborn children are not human beings is amazing (and frustrating) to see and hear. However, hearing one of them admit that a "fetus" is a human life, and yet still okay to kill, is beyond frustrating and moving into the horrendous category. The quote below is from Mary Elizabeth Williams at
All life is not equal. That’s a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers. Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She’s the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always.

When we on the pro-choice side get cagey around the life question, it makes us illogically contradictory. I have friends who have referred to their abortions in terms of “scraping out a bunch of cells” and then a few years later were exultant over the pregnancies that they unhesitatingly described in terms of “the baby” and “this kid.” I know women who have been relieved at their abortions and grieved over their miscarriages. Why can’t we agree that how they felt about their pregnancies was vastly different, but that it’s pretty silly to pretend that what was growing inside of them wasn’t the same? Fetuses aren’t selective like that. They don’t qualify as human life only if they’re intended to be born.

When we try to act like a pregnancy doesn’t involve human life, we wind up drawing stupid semantic lines in the sand: first trimester abortion vs. second trimester vs. late term, dancing around the issue trying to decide if there’s a single magic moment when a fetus becomes a person. Are you human only when you’re born? Only when you’re viable outside of the womb? Are you less of a human life when you look like a tadpole than when you can suck on your thumb?
Okay, the fetus is human. Progress? But then she concludes with these chilling lines:
I would put the life of a mother over the life of a fetus every single time — even if I still need to acknowledge my conviction that the fetus is indeed a life. A life worth sacrificing.
The horror of that last phrase should shock us to the core. This is where the worship of unlimited sexual freedom with no consequences has brought our culture. God have mercy!

Identity Issues

"This world's fundamental problem is that we don't understand who we really are - children of God made in his image - and define ourselves by any number of things other than Jesus. Only by knowing our false idolatry apart from Christ in relation to our true identity in him can we rightly deal with and overcome the issues in our lives.....

....You aren't what's been done to you but what Jesus has done for you. You aren't what you do but what Jesus has done. What you do doesn't determine who you are. Rather who you are in Christ determines what you do."

  - Mark Driscoll, Who Do You Think You Are?: Finding Your True Identity in Christ, pages 2-3

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Let It Read You

"As you read God's Word allow it to read you!" - Jim Wideman

The quote above is from the Facebook page of my old friend and college classmate Jim Wideman, one of the recognized gurus of children's ministry in the USA. You can also follow his ministry at Jim Wideman Ministries.

What is Good

Picture from TCW's Kyria Blog

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Consistent Pro-Life Affirmations

I like (and totally agree with) this set of pro-life affirmations from Jared Wilson's church in Connecticut:
1. We affirm that all human beings are made in the image of God and therefore equal to each other and sacred in and of themselves and that therefore abortion is not a health care issue or a family planning issue but first and foremost a “God issue.”
2. We deny that one’s imaging of God and inherent sacredness is contingent upon their usefulness or convenience to their family or society, their religious heritage, their physical health or mental capabilities, their race, or their social or economic class. In other words, no unborn child is less human because he or she is mentally or physically disabled, poor, non-white, or unwanted by his or her family.
3. We affirm that the Roe v. Wade ruling officially codified the systematic killing of innocent human beings, and that therefore it legalized systemic injustice in our nation making abortion not just a “God issue” but a human rights and civil rights issue.
4. We deny that national laws determine what is just or moral and in fact it is possible for nations to pass unjust and immoral laws.
5. We affirm that it is the duty of Americans, be they Christians or not, to protect the innocent and defend the defenseless and protest injustice.

40 Years is Long Enough!

Today is the 40th anniversary of the horrible Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court.

There are probably somethings you think you know about abortion and the court decision that are not exactly true. There are other facts about abortion and its history in America that you do not know. In light of that, I urge all my readers to read this very important post by Joe Carter on Nine Things You Should Know About Roe v. Wade. 

40 years is long enough - Lord, please end this holocaust!

Monday, January 21, 2013

You Washed Away the Dirt

Lord, from You flows true and continual kindness.
You had cast us off and justly so,
but in Your mercy You forgave us.
You were at odds with us,
and You reconciled us.
You had set a curse on us,
and You blessed us.
You had banished us from the garden,
and You called us back again.
You took away the fig leaves
that had been an unsuitable garment,
and You clothed us in a cloak of great value.
You flung wide the prison gates,
and You gave the condemned a pardon.
You sprinkled clean water on us,
and You washed away the dirt.

    - Gregory of Nyssa, 335-395 AD

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Making Safe Places

Here's Tullian Tchvidjian on making churches safe places for those who are suffering or grieving to share their pain and weakness without condemnation. The answer, of course, is in the gospel- specifically the truth that Jesus became strong for us so we can admit our weakness.

  For more on this topic, read Tullian's book Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free.

Batter My Heart

Batter my heart, three-person'd God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

           -John Donne, Holy Sonnet XIV

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hand Signals

A little help to get ready for Sunday worship services....

Awakening from Ancient Sleep

O, You who are ever
giving life to all life,
moving all creatures,
root of all things,
washing them clean,
wiping out their mistakes,
healing their wounds,
You are our true life -
luminous, wonderful,
awakening the heart
from its ancient sleep.

-Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)

Picture and quote from the blog of my good friend Stacy Wells.

Friday, January 18, 2013


Learning from Lance Armstrong

Definitely worth a look - Four Things Christians Can Learn From the Lance Armstrong Debacle  by Ed Stetzer. His list includes:

1. Internal desires are the root of our external sins
2. To fulfill our selfish desires, we often look for shortcuts.
3. The threat of being uncovered often cause us to dig a deeper hole.
4. Exposure is inevitable - now or in eternity.

I want to be careful to not judge Armstrong, or anybody else for that matter, without applying the same standards to myself. The roots of what he did are in me, and in you too. This incident is a reminder of the need for humility and self testing and criticism for all of us.

Please read it all at the link.

Seeking the Calm

Worth a look - Ryan Huguley on Four Ways to Find Calm in a Crises.
I think most would agree that “chaos” is a fitting description for what we experience on a day-to-day basis. The constant onslaught of never-ending to-do lists, errands to run, kids to shuttle, meetings to attend, meals to make, and deadlines to hit leaves us worn out and willing to do almost anything to simply experience a few moments of calm in the chaos. Yet, if you don’t do the hard work of intentionally seeking to pursue calm, you may move from being worn out to burned out. Burnout is the quickest way out of whatever mission God has called you to.

 So what do we do? Here are four ways to find calm in the chaos of life:
Read it all at the link.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

10 Things You'll Never Say

Worth a Look - 10 Things I Guarantee You'll Never Say

I especially like number 8.

A Modern Zacchaeus?

From the Tweet feed of Vineyard pastor Rich Nathan @RichNathan:
What if Lance Armstrong,like Zacchaeus,said "I give 1/2 of my property to the poor and if I have cheated anyone I will pay back 4x the amt!"
If Lance said what Zacchaeus said, he would hear Jesus say "Today salvation has come to this house." Way better than absolution from Oprah!
If only! You can find the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-9.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Black Work Boots

Want to read a great story about service to the poor, availability even when tired, and God caring about a need for black work boots? Read this one by my friend Elysa at Musings From Graceland.

For more info about the ministry where she serves, check out the web page for We Wil Go. I spent some time with them last Saturday, and am always impressed by what Jesus is doing there in inner city Jackson, MS.

Thanks, Elysa! And BTW, you're much more loving than you think you are.

Evangelistic Edification

A word for preachers:

“Don’t just preach to your congregation for spiritual growth, assuming that everyone in attendance is a Christian; and don’t just preach the gospel evangelistically, thinking that Christians cannot grow from it. Evangelize as you edify, and edify as you evangelize.”

 Tim Keller Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Irony So Thick....

Next week is the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Next week the annual March for Life will be held in Washington, DC.  This week, it has been one month since the Newtown school shooting. What do these events have in common?  Watch this:

The irony in this video is so thick, you could eat it with a spoon.

Keep marching, until all the children are protected and every human life is treated as sacred.

Love Me Through My Journey

Oh Father, Who Keeps My Journey
Father of all humankind,
who keeps my journey
and marks the horizon of my destiny,
love me through my journey toward tomorrow.
Son of God,
leader and keeper of the maps,
show me not the whole road at once,
but give me the distance to be gained in single steps.
Spirit of God,
who holds my inner compass,
may your presence on the journey
awaken trust within me
when I don’t know what lies around the bend.
Hat Tip: Trevin Wax

Leading by Following

"...gospel-centered leadership is essentially leading by following."

"We are first followers before we are great leaders."

"Non of us ever graduate from the gospel to move on to something else; rather, we continue to grow into the fullness of the gospel more and more. A gospel-centered leader continues to trust wholeheartedly in the provision and sufficiency of the gospel, leading others to do the same. The natural pipeline for leadership is first learning to be led by Christ ourselves, then leading others, then leading other leaders, and finally learning to lead with other leaders."

 -Matt Chandler, Creature of the Word: The Jesus Centered Church,  pages 168 -169 (italics in the original)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Five Guarantees

Please read Five Promises for Your Bible Reading and Prayer, by Steve Fuller at Desiring God, and let these truths sink deeply into your heart. 
Do you consistently seek God in the word and prayer? Or have you tried again and again, become discouraged, and given up? We are deep enough into January that this is the story for many us. Resolutions have began to stall. And even if you do get time with God, is it life-giving? Or is it just going through the motions, reading an assigned passage, praying through your list, and being relieved when it’s over?
It's not too late to make some good changes. So if you are struggling to spend time with God, here are five promises that can help:
Read it -You'll be glad you did.

Primary Driver

"Vision that is birthed in the heart of the leader is sourced in the heart of the triune God. In this case, the gospel becomes the primary driver for a particular vision or cause, rather than a certain vision or cause being the primary driver. Gospel-driven vision leads our church to be sustaining or persevering, while cause-driven vision can be temporary or faddish. Gospel-driven vision will undoubtedly lead you and your church to tackle weighty causes, but not all cause-driven vision will lead you and your people to the gospel. What drives your vision is essential."

   -Matt Chandler, Creature of the Word: The Jesus Centered Church,  page 167

Sunday, January 13, 2013

God of Angel Armies

I'm really enjoying this song by Chris Tomlin - on the radio and at Sunday worship.
Verse 1:
You hear me when I callYou are my morning songThough darkness fills the nightIt cannot hide the light
Whom shall I fear?
Verse 2:
You crush the enemyUnderneath my feetYou are my Sword and ShieldThough trouble lingers still
Whom shall I fear?
I know Who goes before meI know Who stands behindThe God of angel armiesIs always on my sideThe One who reigns foreverHe is a Friend of mineThe God of angel armiesIs always by my side

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Friday, January 11, 2013

Feeling Hungry?

How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
(Psalm 119:103 ESV)

Your words were found, and I ate them,
and your words became to me a joy
and the delight of my heart,
for I am called by your name,
O LORD, God of hosts.
(Jeremiah 15:16 ESV)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Giglio Dropped from Inaugural Ceremony

Earlier this week it was announced that Louie Giglio, founder of the Passion Youth Conferences, would be giving the benediction at the Presidential Inaugural later this month. Today, Pastor Giglio has asked to be removed from the program due to controversy being stirred up by Gay Rights activists over Giglio's Biblical stand on homosexuality.

Christians in the USA must face the fact that adherence to Biblical standards on sexual morality will bring opposition and persecution from a culture in rebellion against those standards. Giglio's strong stand against sexual trafficking was not enough to save him from the Gay activists. So sad.

Jesus-Centered Leadership

From Creature of the Word, here is the best definition of Christian leadership I have ever read:
"Jesus centered leadership is God-focused, Christ-exalting, and Spirit-led influence toward a kingdom agenda." (page 164)
Also the best definition of the goal of Christian leadership I have ever read:
"...the goal or aim of gospel-centered leadership is the formation of Christ in people who long to see the formation of Christ in other people" (page 176)
Can't top that!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Louie Giglio to Pray at 2013 Inauguration

Two guests have been invited by President Obama and the Presidential Inaugural Committee to pray at the 2013 inauguration. One of them is Louie Giglio, founder and leader of the Passion Conference (i.e. the one held in Atlanta last week). Interesting choice, and interesting reason given for the choice.

Quote below is from The Washington Post:
The benediction will be given by conservative evangelical pastor Louie Giglio, founder of the student-focused Passion Conferences, which draw tens of thousands of people to events around the world.

The contrasting choice of speakers are typical of a president who has walked a sometimes complicated path when it comes to religion — working to be inclusive to the point that critics at times have questioned his faith.

In a statement released by the inaugural committee, the president said the careers of Evers-Williams and Giglio “reflect the ideals that the Vice President and I continue to pursue for all Americans – justice, equality and opportunity.”. . .

An inaugural official said Giglio was picked for the benediction in part because of his work raising awareness about modern-day slavery and human trafficking. Those were core issues at his most recent conference, Passion 2013, attended by more than 60,000 mostly young evangelicals in Atlanta.
“During these days it is essential for our nation to stand together as one,” Giglio said in a statement. “And, as always, it is the right time to humble ourselves before our Maker.”
 Hat Tip: Denny Burk 

Update 1/10/13 - Giglio dropped himself from program because of of controversy over his Biblical stand on homosexuality. Our culture continues to rebel against God!

Changing Places

"The essence of sin is our attempt to take the place of God; the essence of the Christian faith is God taking our place. He lives the Christian life for us. We simply surrender to Him and follow Him with all we are."

      -Matt Chandler, Creature of the Word: The Jesus Centered Church,  page 151

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Passion Confernece Coverage

More than 60,000 young Christians attended the Passion Conference at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta last week.

Here's a round up of news coverage from secular sources.

Atlanta Journal Constitution
WSB Radio

..and from Christian sources:

Passion website
Christianity Today
Christian Post

Above, Not Outside

"The preacher has the ability, given the testimony and authority of the full Biblical witness, to preach the text and to preach above the text. This does not give him permission to preach outside the text. Preaching above the text means lifting the eyes of the hearers to see how a particular text fits into the overall arc of the grand story of the Bible. It means preaching a passage in both its immediate context and its canonical (or big-picture) context. It means we can exegete a passage and show how it fits into the wider reality of God's redemptive plan for His creation. In many ways it allows us to be a type of helicopter pilot who can freely navigate from the ground to the air and back down again. Our perspectives are widened, our vision is increased, and our hearts are humbled as we see the same text from a variety of angles. It is truly astounding to consider how intentional God's plan for His people really is."

    -Matt Chandler, Creature of the Word: The Jesus Centered Church,  page 132 (italics in the original)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Jesus is Leading Worship Today

What a wonderful way to think about Sunday worship! From Zach Hicks:
 ...Hebrews 2:12 tells me something even more profound.  It tells me that while I'm praising God with the assembly--"in the presence of the congregation"--Jesus stands next to us, praising God alongside us.  Jesus is perfecting our worship in that very moment, too.  He's standing in our midst, singing, praying, and listening along, in real time, in real space.  He's also declaring God's name to us, meaning He's encouraging us to worship, cheering us on.  He's Prophet, Priest, King, and Cheerleader.  
Nearly every Sunday now, as I lead worship, I have a kind of Braveheart experience.  At the end of that movie, as Mel Gibson is being tortured on his death-table, he looks out into the mixed crowd of haters and sympathizers and suddenly fixates on a single figure, calmly moving through the crowd, eyes locked on his.  It's his wife, who had died previously and awaits his arrival in the afterlife.  It's a gripping scene.  When I lead worship now, as I look out on the mixed crowd of hand-raised charismaniacs and bored stiff yawners, I envision my Lord walking among us, singing as He goes, praying as He goes, encouraging as He goes.  I see Him declaring God's name to my brothers and sisters, and I hear Him singing God's praises amidst the congregation.  And our broken, selfish, mucky, sinful praise becomes perfected praise, in that very moment.
The good news about our bad worship is that Jesus worships for us.  He didn't just worship (past tense) for us, though that is remarkable enough.  Fulfilling yet another glorious aspect of His High Priestly office, He worships (present tense), in real time, in our midst.  And God the Father, through the power of the Spirit, sees Him...among us, through us, around us, and in us...and He loves it and revels in it.
What freeing news.  This means that whether I had a good Sunday or bad Sunday, Jesus was there, making it the best Sunday, every time.  Because of Jesus, God the Father loves my worship.  This is the gospel, worship-style.

When Brides Would Blush

They don't just do Christmas music! here's a beautiful new song from the Annie Moses Band entitled Blush.

I suppose a single rose is pretty as it gets 
And when the lights go down at night, I love the quietness 
I love shy glances and slow romances 
And hats that hide a kiss 
Let's you and me go back in time 
And find the things we miss 

When hands were gentle and words were kind 
And love could wait a long, long time 
And private matters held their hush 
And grooms were gallant and brides would blush 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Need for Continual Reminders

" cultures void of the gospel are empty and worthless. Church cultures, apart from the grace of Jesus, are utterly broken...if we do not embrace a consistent, refreshing, gospel-centered culture, our churches will automatically drift toward a system of mindless and worthless religious feasts that disgust God.

If mission engagement is in the culture of a church without continual gospel reminders, the tendency will be to drift toward mission as a way to cleanse the conscience rather than as a response to God's mission for us.. If expressive worship is in the culture of a church without continual gospel reminders, the tendency will be to focus on what is done for God rather than remembering what He has done. If transparency and honesty are in the culture of a church without continual gospel reminders, the tendency will be to discuss the sinfulness without repentance."

 -Matt Chandler, Creature of the Word: The Jesus Centered Church,  pages 102-103, italics in the original

Friday, January 4, 2013

Stink Happens

I appreciate the humor of the pun. However, it's not just life that may stink. I also realize that a lot of church and religion stinks to the Lord.

May His grace make us a sweet savor!

Picture from Ed Stetzer

Escape the Lame

"Over the years, we have run into people who think the city in which they live is lame, their job is lame, their church is lame., their neighborhood is lame. Everything...lame. How different would they feel is they knew that God had called, equipped  and set them free to be part of His mission of reconciliation in their own workplaces, neighborhoods, cities, and churches -- the very things with which they're so very discontent!"

    -Matt Chandler, Creature of the Word: The Jesus Centered Church,  pages 89

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Pro-Life Cause Advances

On the cover of TIME this week is this headline:
40 Years Ago, Abortion-Rights Advocates Won an Epic Victory with Roe v. Wade. They’ve Been Losing Ever Since.
The story – “What Choice?” – is written by Kate Pickert. The main point of the article is that Roe v. Wade hurt the pro-choice cause by delivering the movement’s main goal and by energizing a generation of pro-life activism....

Read more about this at Kingdom People.

The Act of Contrition Via Internet


Spiritual Procrastination

Do you suffer from spiritual procrastination? I do. Here's Pete Wilson's challenging words on that subject:
I read the verse below this morning and thought it was so fitting for the beginning of a new year.
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
One of the things that is keeping us from seizing our divine moment is the very dangerous word… Tomorrow. We suffer from what might be called spiritual procrastination.
Now, procrastination is not the same thing as physical laziness. You could be hyperactive and still be a procrastinator.
Procrastination is the failure to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done.
It’s the failure to do the right thing at the right time. For most of us our problem is not that we don’t know what to do. Our problem is not that we deliberately refuse to do what we ought to do. We just don’t get around to doing it.
There are a variety of consequences to spiritual procrastination from destroying relationships, to stress, to a chronic sense of guilt. It can erode your sense of joy and eat at your self esteem. But the worst is, it will keep you from ever realizing the purpose for which God created you-not because you ever said “no” to God. You just said “tomorrow”.
So here is the bottom line. As we go into this new year, where in your life are you choosing “tomorrow” where God wants you to choose “today”.
Let’s get going. Our days are numbered!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Baby

From the Sacred Sandwich

How Not to Read the Bible in 2013

Monday I encouraged everyone to read through the Bible in 2013. However, there's reading and then there's reading.

Matt Smethurst (via Peter Cockrell) tells us how NOT to read the Bible.
When it comes to daily (or not-so-daily) Bible reading, January 1 can be a welcome arrival. A new year signals a new start. You’re motivated to freshly commit to what you know is of indispensable importance: the Word of God.
Yet this isn’t the first time you’ve felt this way. You were entertaining pretty similar thoughts 365 days ago. And 365 days before that. And 365 days . . . you know how it goes.
So what’s going to make 2013 different? What, under God, will keep you plodding along in April this year when staying power has generally vanished in Aprils of yore? From one stumbling pilgrim to another, here are five suggestions for what not to do in 2013....
Read it all at the link.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Only Resolution

From: The Sacred Sandwich

New Mercies Every Day

(This is my traditional annual January 1 re-post)

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.