Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Some More Reasons...

More reasons to read the Bible through in 2015- from  Marek P. Zabriskie is the founder and executive director of the Center for Biblical Studies and the creator of The Bible Challenge
Here are 20 reasons you should considering committing to read the Bible this year:
• It’s the No. 1 best-selling book of all time.
• No book has made a greater impact on the world than the Bible.
• The Bible magnifies our ability to love others and to love ourselves.
• No book reveals more about God than the Bible, and God rejoices when we read it.
• Daily Bible reading centers us spiritually and is so enjoyable that you will want to encourage others to do it as well.
• Taking time to read the Bible for 15 or 30 minutes each day transforms our lives, our marriages, our relationships and our families. It helps us to be better parents, spouses, neighbors, Christians, workers, citizens and human beings.
• The Bible is the best understanding that we have of Jesus — the person who has had the greatest impact on history.
• There are over 2 billion Christians. One out of every three people on the planet practices Christianity. The Bible is their chief narrative. It’s worth knowing why. • The Bible has inspired people to found the first universities and hospitals in Western society.
• You cannot fully appreciate Western culture, literature and art without knowing the Bible.
• Many of the expressions that we use each day come directly from the Bible.
• People constantly debate what they believe the Bible says without having read it. It’s worth reading it to find out what the Bible actually says.
• You can read the Bible every day and constantly find new things within it.
• The Bible will speak to you in a different way each time you pick it up and read it.
• Reading the Bible will push you to explore what it means to be created in God’s image, and it will help you understand God, your life’s purpose and why you were put on earth.
• No two people interpret the Bible in the exact same way. It’s worth developing your own understanding of the Bible and not settling for what someone else has to say about it.
• The Bible, prayerfully and reasonably read on a regular basis, inspires people to be better persons than they ever would be had they not taken time to read it regularly.
• The Bible offers the most sustained and vital value system in history, and we cannot live and impart these values to our children and to others unless we read it regularly.
• The Bible is like a mirror. Reading it regularly develops our conscience, helps us to arrange our priorities and encourages us to make significant improvements in our lives.
• Reading the Bible keeps our heads and our hearts in the right place, develops compassion and good judgment within us and prepares us to spend eternity with God.

Why You Should Read the Bible Through in 2015


I was blessed to read the entire Bible in 2011, 12 and 13. I messed up last summer and got behind, so I did not finish in 2014. I'm going to get back on track in 2015. How about you?

"Read the Bible in 2015" - From The Village Church:
As we welcome a new year, it is natural to reflect on years past and plan for the one ahead. Often our plans take the shape of resolutions. We resolve to lose weight, to find a better job, to go back to school, to manage our time better, to volunteer more and so on. While these kinds of resolutions are good, I wonder if this year we might commit ourselves to something deeper, something more beautiful. Now is the perfect time to commit to reading through the Bible in a year. Here are five reasons why you should consider dedicating 365 days to this pursuit:
1. You will learn more about God.
Christianity is, at its core, based on divine revelation. One of the most breathtaking and astonishing claims in Christian theology is that God has made Himself known. As you read the Bible, you will certainly become more knowledgeable about biblical events, heroes of the faith and Christian doctrine, but the Bible is more than that. In the Bible, God does not solely give us information, but in some sense He gives us Himself as He makes Himself known. If you spend the next 365 days reading the Bible, you will undoubtedly learn more about the Bible itself, but most importantly, you will grow in your fellowship with God.
2. You will learn more about yourself.
As you learn more about who God is, His character and His attributes, you will grow in the knowledge of self. In the Old Testament narratives, you might identify with the Israelites complaining in their wilderness wanderings (Exod. 14:11). In the Psalms, you might realize that you, like David, desire for the Lord to be your refuge (Ps. 7:1). Or perhaps in the Gospels, you will recognize that you, like Jesus’ disciples, are a clumsy follower, but God loves you anyway (John 21:15-19). As you read the Bible, you will find that the Bible is actually reading you. The Word of Christ is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). A rich and deep reading of the Scriptures will be a rich and deep reading of yourself.
3. You will get to practice an important spiritual discipline daily.
What we do inevitably shapes who we are. As Edgar Rice Burroughs famously said, “We are, all of us, creatures of habit.” Christians engage in spiritual disciplines because we are not naturally inclined to love God and His Word. Daily disciplines have a way of molding us into new people—people who love God and His Word. The consistent practice of reading the Bible reshapes, restructures and reorders our affections. Discipline, in this sense, is not a taskmaster but a tutor.
4. You will experience deeper communion with God.
God uses the Bible as a fundamental means of relating us. While reading Scripture, we find ourselves in the presence of the triune God. When Christians read the Bible, we’re hearing the Word of the Father, spoken through the Son, in the power of the Spirit. It is as if Jesus is present with Christians, speaking to us through the Spirit. As you read your Bible over the next year, you will see that communication from God sparks communion with God.
5. You will be nourished as you read God’s Word.
God uses the Bible to feed us. Jesus has given His Word to the Church in order to provide nutrition to His people, like a shepherd provides green grass and water for his flock. Jesus reiterates this point when He remarks, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matt. 4:4). At a time when so many resolutions will be geared toward health and fitness, consider the health and nourishment of your own soul. The Bible is your support and nourishment.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tears Like Prayers



You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?
     - Psalm 56:8

My eyes shed streams of tears,
because people do not keep your law.
    -Psalm 119:136

Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
    - Psalm 126:5

Photo from @ChristianPhoto

Our Little Secret



From Radio Free Babylon (click image to enlarge)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Is About The Eschaton

"...The good news of Second Coming and the New Creation is not simply the earthiness of it all. Yes, let’s rejoice and look forward to the resurrection of the body. Let us hope for the renewal of the cosmos. Let’s delight in the idea that every field and stream, every star and galaxy will be born anew, shining with the lustre of the glory of God. But let us not forget that it is the glory of God that makes all things shine. God is what makes the New Creation good news.....

,,,Revelation 21 is the consummation of the movement of God on John 1, and indeed, Genesis 1. God, the Triune Creator, the Eternal One whose glory makes the brightest supernova seem like a child’s night-light, has reunited Heaven and Earth, so that we might be near him without being consumed by the beauty of his holiness.

Christmas is about the eschaton."

             - From "Christmas is About the Eschaton" by Derek Rishmowry

Friday, December 26, 2014

Free Bible Study Tools

Like free stuff? Want to study the Bible? Check this out - 5 of the Best Free Bible Study Tools by Jacob Gerber:
We live in a day of staggering privileges. There was a time when the only copy of the Scriptures would have been chained to the pulpit in the town’s church, and there are places where the rulers still ruthlessly hunt down copies of the Bible to be destroyed. But today in the English speaking world, we are infinitely privileged to have such free access to the word of God.Beyond the accessibility of the Bible itself, we also have extraordinary access to powerful Bible study tools, many of which are available for free. Here are five of the best free Bible study tools online—or at least, five of my favorites that I personally use all the time.
Free Bible Study Tool #1: Blue Letter Bible
There are several powerful Bible software packages that you can spend hundreds or even thousands (!) of dollars to help you study the Bible in the original language, with helps to parse the verbs, see lexicon (dictionary) entries to define the words used, or to see cross references to other places where those words are used. With Blue Letter Bible, however, you get 90% of that functionality for free.
I use Blue Letter Bible all the time—every time I prepare to preach a sermon, write something where I need to do some closer exegetical analysis, or just where I’m curious about what’s happening “behind the scenes.” Here’s how I use Blue Letter Bible.
First, from the search bar at the top of the home page, select the Bible verse you want to study:
Blue Letter Bible Tutorial: Select Verse to Study
Then, hover your mouse over “Tools” beside the verse you are interested in, and then select “Interlinear”:
Blue Letter Bible Tutorial: Hover over Tools and Select Interlinear
Clicking interlinear will pull up the original language of the verse (Greek or Hebrew), along with word-by-word comparisons from the original language to English. You might want to click “Parse” on the right side of the verb to get more information about the type of the verb you are dealing with, but most of the time, you’ll probably only need to click the Strong’s Concordance ID number:
Blue Letter Bible Tutorial: Study Verbs or Words
This is the page that you are going to want to spend lots of time on. From Vine’s Expository Dictionary, you can get a short dictionary entry, and in the section marked Outline of Biblical Usage, you can see the various ways that the word in question is used in the Bible:
Blue Letter Bible Tutorial: Dictionary and Outline of Biblical Usage
For a deeper definition, keep scrolling down to find the section marked “Thayer’s Lexicon” and get a very detailed definition of the word, including information about how the word was used in literature outside the Bible. But my favorite tool of all is the Concordance, where you can see all the places that the same word was used in other places in the Bible.
With the Concordance, it’s easier to see textual connections, where an author is deliberately referencing another passage, or where the same author develops a theme in another book of the Bible that he wrote.
Read the rest of the free offers at the link.

Start Over


From Radio Free Babylon (Click image to enlarge)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

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! 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Draining Evil's Power

"Jesus doesn't explain why there is suffering, illness, and death in the world. He brings healing and hope. He doesn't allow the problem of evil to be the subject of a seminar. He allows evil to do its worst to him. He exhausts it, drains its power, and emerges with new life."

      ~ N. T. Wright, from Simply Good News

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

King Sized Bed



HT: www.ToneEvans.org

Adoration By The Batman

My 4 year old grandson made sure his #1 hero Batman knows the real reason for the season. I hope you know it too. Even the Dark Knight adores the Christ Child - Holy Nativity, Batman!


Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Conceived In My World


From Ann Voskamp

The Likeness Redrawn

"You know what happens when a portrait that has been painted on a panel becomes obliterated through external stains. The artist does not throw away the panel, but the subject of the portrait has to come and sit for it again, and then the likeness is re-drawn on the same material.

Even so was it with the All-holy Son of God. He, the Image of the Father, came and dwelt in our midst, in order that He might renew mankind made after Himself. "

    — St. Athanasius,    On the Incarnation
HT: Of First Importance

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Shadow of Self

"...Dear God, I cannot love Thee the way I want to. You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and myself is the earth's shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon...What I am afraid of, dear God, is that my self shadow will grow so large that it blocks the whole moon, and that I will judge myself by the shadow that is nothing. I do not know You God, because I am in the way."

     - Flannery O'Conner, A Prayer Journal, page 3

(Quoted in Tim Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy With God, page 11)

Infinite Attention


From C. S. Lewis Society of California

Friday, December 19, 2014

No Pressure


From @PastorTullian and itisfinisheddevotional.com

Power of Beauty

The is a excerpt from God's Beauty for the Bored, Busy and Depressed by Tony Reinke
To escape our bondage to sin, we must come alive to the glory of God in Christ. He’s our only hope.
On this theme, theologian Jonathan Edwards was a master. He discovered God’s glory and beauty all over Scripture, and he centered his understanding of the Christian life there.
The classic picture of Edwards as a hellfire preacher, suspending sinners by fishing line over the pit of God’s flaming wrath, simply fails to get a balanced picture of his ministry. He may be most famous for scaring people out of hell with divine wrath, but he spent far more of his time trying to woo people into heaven by proclaiming the beauty of God in the gospel. So writes Dane Ortlund, in a new book destined to be a top book of 2014: Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God (Crossway).
This insatiable desire for God’s beauty stokes the fire of the Christian life. We ask for the same thing every day: “to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD” (Psalm 27:4). And we testify together: “all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary” (Psalm 96:5–6).
We must have God’s beauty.
So what does God’s splendor have to do with my daily life right now — in my busyness, in my temptations, in my boredom, and in my spiritual dryness? I recently sat down to talk with Dane Ortlund, who serves as the Bible publishing director at Crossway.
Beauty and Busyness
First, God’s beauty soothes our busy and anxious hearts. 
“The beauty of God’s tender mercy calms me down, lets me breathe again, slows my heart’s frantic scurrying about,” Dane said. “There is so much ambiguity in living as a moral being. In all my anxiety, he is an undeterred and gentle Father who has adopted and justified me. Edwards really felt that. Especially when you read his sermons or letters, there’s an aroma you smell. He really felt safe and loved and calmed because of God and his gentle care for him as a Father.”

Beauty and Temptation
Second, God’s beauty fills the affections of our heart, which is essential if we are going to meet our foes of sin and temptation with success. “The world tells me that selfish indulgence in lust is where the fun is,” Dane said. On the contrary, “Edwards writes all over the place about quietly enjoying the beauty of God, and communing with him in his Son, who is the mighty and radiant friend of sinners like me. To use a word Edwards delightfully used, enjoying God happifies us.”
One of the crucial battles of the Christian life is discovering the true ugliness of sin and exposing its destructiveness. “Sin is the enchanting allure of what is going to kill you,” Dane said. “I can’t help but jump into the water of sin and get slammed against the rocks of judgment and hell and death. I have no willpower to stop. I cannot stop myself. I need a higher loveliness, a more compelling beauty. I am only going to do what I love to do, and I will be that way forever. I cannot function any other way. I have a beauty-thirst that must be quenched, no matter what.”....

Read the rest at the link.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Punch

And in follow up to that post from yesterday....

Worth the Reading (Part 2)

In follow up to this post yesterday, here's part two of "10 Benefits of Reading the Bible" by John Piper:
6. The Word of God Is the Key to Answered Prayer
The Word of God that wakens desire to read and ponder and memorize Scripture is the role it plays in answered prayer.
Jesus said, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7). The words of Jesus must abide in us if our prayers are to be effective.The best way to see what it means for the words of Jesus to abide in us is to look at what Jesus says about abiding a few verses earlier. In verse 5 he says, “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit.” Letting the words of Jesus abide in us means letting Jesus himself abide in us, to us. It means that we welcome Jesus into our lives and make room for him to live, not as a silent guest with no opinions or commands, but as an authoritative guest whose words and priorities and principles and promises matter more to us than anything does.
The reason the abiding of Christ’s words in us results in answered prayer is that it changes us into the kind of people who love what he loves, so that we ask for things according to his will. This is not absolute. It is progressive. The more we know the living Christ by communion with him in his Word, the more our desires become spiritual like his desires, instead of just worldly. This is what David meant when he said in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” The desires of the heart cease to be merely natural desires when the heart delights above all else in the Lord. Delighting in the Lord—in the hallowing of his name and the seeking of his kingdom and the doing of his will—transforms all natural desires into God-related desires. That is what happens when the Word of Christ abides in us.
7. The Word of God Is the Source of Wisdom
It is a great advantage to be wise. Wisdom is different from the mere knowledge of facts. Some very wise people have little formal education. And some very educated people, who know many facts, are not wise. Wisdom is the insight and sense of how to live in a way that accomplishes the goals for which we were made: the glory of God and the good of man. And since glorifying God involves delighting in God, and the good of man involves sharing our joy in God, therefore wisdom is the only path to deep and lasting joy.
8. The Word of God Gives Us Crucial Warnings
If we had perfect sight of what is wrong and right, and if we could know the future and the consequences of all behavior and all events, then perhaps we would need no warnings. But we are blind to many things and do not know the future, as God does. We need to be warned often that the step we are about to take is folly. Oh, how many joy killing choices we are spared when we heed the warnings of the Bible! Mercifully God has given us a book that not only points us to the right path but sounds warnings when we are about to take the wrong one.
9. The Word of God Enables Us to Defeat the Devil
The devil is real and terrible. He is much stronger than we are, and he aims to deceive and destroy. Jesus said, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Yet he has been decisively defeated through the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Bible teaches that Christ took on himself human nature so “that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). The destruction was decisive, though not final. Because of Christ’s shed blood for our sins, the devil cannot destroy those who are in Christ. The reason is that his accusations are no longer valid. The only thing that could sentence us to eternal destruction is unforgiven sin. But the cross obtained complete forgiveness. Therefore, the devil can only kill us, but not damn us.
10. The Word of God Is the Source of Great and Lasting Joy
We have seen at least nine reasons why this is so. Now we see that God, in the Bible, simply says it is so. The wise and godly man turns away from the counsel of the wicked with all their promises of pleasure and finds that “his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers” (Ps. 1:2-3). The lovers of God’s Word praise the preciousness of the Bible and the pleasures it brings. They say that it surpasses the most valuable earthly things, gold and silver; and they say its taste on the tongue of the mind and heart is sweeter than honey, and that its richness is like the finest food.
The great conclusion is: “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Ps. 119:97).
*This excerpt was adapted from *When I Don't Desire God: How To Fight For Joy by John Piper.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

He Knows if Your Belief is Bad or Good...

A little levity based on the real St. Nick!

For the back story try here...

    ,,,,,,or here....

            ....or here.

The consequences for badness were a little mre serious than coal in your stocking!

Worth The Reading

This is part one of two posts by John Piper at the Crossway Blog: - 10 Benefits of Reading the Bible
The All-Surpassing Worth of God’s Word
Consider with me just ten of the benefits [of reading Scripture], and as you read them, ask God to give you eyes to see the worth of Scripture and to waken in you an unyielding desire for the Word of God. This is a fight for joy, and the weapon is a fresh sight of how the worth of God’s Word surpasses all things on this earth.
1. The Word of God Awakens and Strengthens Faith
The Holy Spirit does not awaken and strengthen faith apart from the Word of God. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). The reason for this is that the Spirit has been sent into the world to glorify Christ. But Christ would not be glorified if the Spirit wakened faith in the absence of the revelation of the glory of Christ in the gospel.
“When the Spirit of truth comes,” Jesus said, “he will glorify me” (John 16:13-14). If the Spirit brought us to faith in the absence of the proclamation of Christ in his Word, our faith would not be in Christ, and he would not be honored. Therefore the Spirit binds his faithwakening ministry to the Christ-exalting Word. Which means that when we go to the Word of Christ, we put ourselves in the path of the Spirit’s willingness to reveal Christ to us and strengthen our faith. And in this faith is the taste and the seed of all our joy. Therefore, the Word that wakens our faith works for our joy.
2. Through Hearing the Word, God Supplies the Holy Spirit
The Spirit of God produces both a subconscious influence bringing us to faith, and a conscious experience of power and personal fellowship that come through that very faith. This explains two things: 1) This is why the Bible can speak of the Spirit blowing where he wills and having merciful effects in our lives before we were able to choose them (John 3:6-8; 6:36, 44, 65). In other words, by his unconscious influence he works in us to enable us to hear and welcome the Word. And 2) this is also why the Bible speaks of the Spirit coming through our hearing the Word of God. In other words, conscious fellowship with the Spirit is given when we hear the Word of God with faith.
3. The Word of God Creates and Sustains Life
Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). To that end he taught many things, and then gave his life so that we might have life, eternal and abundant. We are born again into new life by the Word of God. “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. . . . And this word is the good news that was preached to you” (1 Pet. 1:23-25). God makes the preaching of the gospel the occasion for creating new life in the soul of man. “The words that I have spoken to you,” Jesus said, “are spirit and life” (John 6:63). Therefore when John had finished recording the words and works of Jesus in his Gospel he said, “These are written so that you may . . . have life in his name” (John 20:31). The words of John’s Gospel—and all the Scriptures—lead to life.
Oh, how easily we are deceived into thinking that better life, or more life, comes from things that lure us from the Word. But, in fact, it is the Word itself that gives us life abundantly. The life we get from bread is fragile and short. The life we get from the Word is firm and lasts forever.
4. The Word of God Gives Hope
In more ways than we can imagine the Word of God gives and strengthens our hope. We get a glimpse of how many ways the Bible gives hope when we hear Paul’s astonishing assessment of the Old Testament alone: “Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). Not just part of the Old Testament, but all of it—“whatever was written in former days”— was written with the divine design to give us hope.
One of the things this teaches us is that we have not begun to know all the ways it is possible to get hope. We have very small experience in life compared to God’s wisdom.
Sometimes what we need from the Bible is not the fulfillment of our dream, but the swallowing up of our failed dream in the all-satisfying glory of Christ. We do not always know the path of deepest joy. But all Scripture is inspired by God to take us there. Therefore Scripture is worth more than all this world can offer.
5. The Word of God Leads Us to Freedom
Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). The truth of God’s Word works freedom in many ways and brings joy in all of them. But Jesus signals his focus in verse 34: “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” The freedom he has in mind here is freedom from the enslaving, destructive effect of sin. The truth sets us free from this. So Jesus turns this truth into a prayer in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” Sanctify means to make holy, or free from sin.
The guilt of sin would bring down the wrath of God on us if the truth of the gospel did not set us free from condemnation through the blood and righteousness of Christ.
This excerpt was adapted from When I Don't Desire God: How To Fight For Joy by John Piper.

Monday, December 15, 2014

True Freedom


From @PastorTullian on Twitter

Myths About Missions

"Ten Historical Myths About World Christianity"- From Brian Stanley at the Gospel Coalition:

As followers of Christ and adherents of the Bible, Christians are called to be a people of the truth. Thus, it is crucial that we seek to understand our tradition as accurately as possible. So consider these top ten historical myths about world Christianity.
1. Christianity is a Western religion.
It neither began in Western Europe, nor has it ever been entirely confined to Western Europe. The period in which it appeared to be indissolubly linked to Western European identity was a relatively short one, lasting from the early 16th to the mid-20th centuries. The church in China, India, Ethiopia, and Iraq is older than the church in much of Northern Europe.
2. Christian missions operated hand-in-glove with the colonial powers.
Sometimes they did, but frequently they didn’t. Missions were usually critical of the way in which empires operated, mainly because they conceived of empire as a divinely bestowed trust. True, they didn’t oppose colonial rule on principle, but then who did before the late 20th century?
3. Christianity was imposed by force on non-Western people.
If this were true, it would reduce non-Western Christians—even today—to the status of passive recipients of Western ideological domination. In fact, Western missions never possessed the power necessary to achieve such capitulation, even if they wanted it, which they did not.
4. Protestant missions began with William Carey in 1792.
John Eliot’s mission work among the Native Americans of New England began as early as 1646. The first Lutheran missionaries arrived at Tranquebar in South India in 1706. In his famous An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens (1792) Carey insisted that he had many predecessors.
5. Missionaries destroyed indigenous cultures.
Indigenous cultures were not static entities: to suggest that they were is characteristic of Western modernity. Missionaries often displayed what we would term cultural blindness, but their message, once translated into the vernacular, acquired indigenous cultural overtones. Missionary contributions to the inscription and study of indigenous languages have helped to preserve or enrich such cultures.
6. The 19th century was the great century of Christian missions.
It was the great age of Western missionary expansion, but not the great age of indigenous conversion and agency: that was the 20th century. K. S. Latourette’s "great century" is a misleading phrase.
7. ‘Christianity, Commerce, and Civilization’ was an imperial creed.
It was essentially an anti-slavery humanitarian creed, associated especially with David Livingstone (though he didn’t invent it). For those reasons it often led to advocacy of imperial solutions. Fighting slavery actually led imperial expansion as humanitarians called for deeper commitment from Britain to root out the slave trade at its sources in the African interior.
8. We live in a post-missionary era.
No, we don’t. There are approximately 426,000 foreign missionaries in the world today. In 1900 there were about 62,000. The United States still sends something like 127,000 missionaries overseas.
9. We live in a post-colonial age.
We certainly don’t live in a post-imperial age. Formal colonial rule is usually a last resort adopted by powerful nations who run out of cheaper options of control. Decolonization can be seen as a return to informal means of control. Definitions of what constitutes colonialism are contested: what about the subject status of first nations people in Canada, aborigines in Australia, Tibetans, West Papuans . . . and even the Scots?!
10. To proclaim the unique saving value of the Christian gospel is to be intolerant of other religions.
This is to confuse a theological position with an attitudinal stance. Because of their understanding of the nature of truth, Christians can (should?) believe that others are fundamentally mistaken in their beliefs and still defend to the hilt their right to hold and practise such beliefs.
Editor's note: This article was originally published at the Centre for the Study of World Christianity.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Move By The Sight Of The Cost

"How can the inner workings of the heart be changed from a dynamic of fear and anger to that of love, joy, and gratitude? Here is how. You need to be moved by the sight of what it cost to bring you home. The key difference between a Pharisee and a believer in Jesus is inner-heart motivation. Pharisees are being good but out of a fear-fueled need to control God. They don’t really trust him or love him. To them God is an exacting boss, not a loving father. Christians have seen something that has transformed their hearts toward God so they can finally love and rest in the Father."

  — Tim Keller,  The Prodigal God


Saturday, December 6, 2014

No Backing Down From Truth



HT: Alliance Defending Freedom

From the recent international colloquium on “The Complementarity of Man and Woman in Marriage,” in Rome, Alan Sears said this quote stood out most to him. Find out more: http://buff.ly/1ycidej — with Sophia Hayden.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Party Hard

Don't Miss Christ in Your Christmas

A repost from last year- Some wisdom 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.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Radical Abandonment

"If Jesus is who he says he is, and if his promises are as rewarding as the Bible claims they are, then we may discover that satisfaction in our lives and success in the church are not found in what culture deems most important but in radical abandonment to Jesus."

— David Platt, Radical (Colorado Springs, Co.: Multnomah Books, 2010), page 3


Roots Matter

The quote below is from an article entitled Why Church history Matters and How You Should Implement It at The3Movement.Org. The whole piece is good, but I especially like and endorse this section:
Knowing our spiritual ancestry puts our sorrows, anxieties and wounds into perspective. Ours is a historical foundation built on the blood of martyrs — Christians willing to live so radically for Jesus they considered it joy to die for Him.  Yet I frequently experience Christians leaving contemporary churches in droves because they don’t have a category for pain.  They believe they are alone, and that sorrow is unique to them.  This is the fruit of a individualistic, self-preoccupied society which has pervaded the Western Church as well as the culture.  When people walk away from faith, it’s sometimes because they are ill-equipped to understand the paradoxical tension between the goodness of God and the reality of pain.  And this is why Church history matters.
Roots matter, History Matters. Legacy Matters. Heritage Matters.  Please read the entire article at the link.

Monday, December 1, 2014

No Offense


HT: Challies.com

Managing Holiday Expectations

Good article on managing Holiday expectation from Liz Hoist at Desiring God
It’s the most wonderful time of the year — or is it?
Thanksgiving is upon us, and Christmas just around the corner, and with this coupling come lots of expectations. For years I wrestled with how to navigate the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas with some semblance of sanity. Truth is, I still struggle with managing “the Holidays” well. Who will be home? What are the lingering family tensions? How can I make it special for friends who will walk through the front door? The questions, and stresses, go on and on.
I knew I was in big trouble one year when I fell prey to the jewelry commercials that convinced me my husband loved me only if he gave me diamonds. Really? Well, I bought it — obviously a small, neatly wrapped package with a sparkly red bow represented true love. When that package wasn’t under the tree, and my Christmas Day was ruined, I knew I needed to take a closer look at my heart and try to find out what was going on.
Santa’s Idol Workshop
And so began my journey toward “Holiday Expectation Management.” What did I discover? What is God continuing to reveal to me each year?
First, there is joyful anticipation of the Holidays and excitement about the main things that you know are going to happen. Thanksgiving and Christmas willcome, God willing. We will pause and give thanks to God for all he has done for us, and we will celebrate the birth of our Savior and be glad.
Then there are the expectations — those unspoken and sometimes misguided, deep beliefs that something could happen. This is where my heart went awry. I allowed wrong expectations to overshadow the real Joy of the season. I needed a serious heart adjustment. I needed to discern what was driving those wrong expectations. I needed to be honest with myself and others, but where to start?
Five Steps to Holiday Sanity
1. Holiday expectations can become holiday idols.
To begin with, I needed to be mindful that my expectations were becoming idols. I was replacing true thanksgiving to God, and all the mercies he has shown, with turkey and pumpkin pie. Celebrating the birth of Jesus, the real reason for Christmas, was being replaced with glittery trees and presents. Those things are good gifts, but they are not meant to take first place in my heart. I needed to remind myself of the simple truth in 1 John 5:21: “keep yourself from idols.”
2. Be honest about your holiday fears, weaknesses, and insecurities.
Communicating to others clearly that this can be a hard time of the year for me was the next step. Being honest and vulnerable wasn’t easy, but opening up the dialogue with my husband, my friend, or my coworker proved to be an amazing blessing. I found often that by communicating my angst, I found someone who was more than willing to help me. What a gift! What a sweet provision from God — which I would have missed out had I not been honest.
3. Ask where your holiday expectations come from.
Being aware of who or what was defining my expectations was another hurdle to get over. Was it my husband? My children? Extended family? Guilt? The media? Fear of man? The still, small voice of the Holy Spirit continues to help us when those “expectations gone awry” begin to surface in this way.
4. Plan ahead for holiday health, maybe way ahead.
Being proactive — planning — was next. Knowing what I can and cannot do is one of the most helpful things I have discovered. Determining healthy boundaries before Thanksgiving and December is an ongoing practice at our house. One year, after a particularly bad holiday season, I wrote a letter to myself outlining what I would say “yes” to the following year. I gave the letter to a dear friend who held it for me until the following October; I received it in the mail on November 1. To this day, I am thankful for my godly friend who had the wisdom to suggest this plan of action.
5. God is the Hope of every holiday, however sweet or hard.
Finally, and most importantly, it is essential to remember that we have a loving Savior whose plan is perfect. Whether it includes a large gathering of friends and family at Thanksgiving, or a happy Christmas celebration with squeals of delight or perhaps even tears of deep sorrow, it is exactly what God planned. He doesn’t make mistakes. It may be hard to weather the Holidays, and yet we are not without hope.
Ephesians 3:20 reminds us that he “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” Knowing that, we can ask for healthy and happy expectations, anticipating that because God is sovereignly and lovingly directing all that happens, it may actually be “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Friday, November 28, 2014

Never Lose The Awe

Outstanding video by Paul Tripp- Never Lose Your Awe of the Gospel- from Liberate


How to Pray When Drowning

Ever feel like you are drowning spiritually or emotionally? Take a lesson from one guy in the Bible who was saved from literally drowning- Jonah. The piece below is from Mike Shreve in Charisma Magazine:
Let's start by focusing on someone who actually did drown—literally—but God rescued him. His name was Jonah, a biblical character known to most people. Few, however, understand the profound depth of what really happened to him.
You might want to grab your Bible and read "The Prayer of Jonah" carefully (Jon. 2:2-9). Most of that pivotal prayer—seven out of eight verses—is actually a psalm of thanksgiving to God for having answered a previous prayer. Even more surprising—that previous prayer was apparently uttered in hell. You are probably squinting your eyes in skepticism at this point, but check it out in the Bible:
Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish's belly. And he said: "I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction, and He answered me. Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice" (Jon. 2:1-2).
Though it can mean just the grave, the Hebrew word Sheol also refers to the underworld: the spiritual realm of departed souls, both the righteous and the wicked. According to Jesus' teaching, in that Old Testament era, Sheol contained two chambers: one of fiery torment for the wicked and then, across an impassable gulf, a pleasant but temporary abode for the righteous called "Abraham's bosom" (see Luke 16:19-31).
So apparently Jonah drowned when he was thrown overboard, and his soul descended into that horrid place reserved for the unrighteous who die in a state of sin. The erring prophet graphically described his plight:
    "I went down to the foundations of the mountains; the earth with its bars was around me forever" (Jon. 2:6).
So Jonah was in a spiritual prison in Sheol. Yet amazingly, he made a decision to seek God anyway, saying:
    "When my life was ebbing away, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came to You, into Your holy temple" (Jon. 2:7).
What unshakable trust! What stubborn faith! His name may have been Jonah (which means dove—a very timid and docile bird). But his parents should have named him Chamor (which means donkey—a very stubborn animal). Because regardless of how terribly he had failed, or how severely he was chastised, Jonah refused to stop looking toward his Maker. It worked. Because at some point (we're not told when) his body was swallowed by a great fish, then his soul re-entered his body and he came back to life.
It was at that point that his heart erupted with gratitude, and he authored a prayer of thanksgiving with three short, concluding statements that captured the heart of the God:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Nothing But Thanksgiving


"The whole life of a Christian should be nothing but praises and thanks to God; we should neither eat nor sleep, but eat to God and sleep to God and work to God and talk to God, do all to His glory and praise." - Richard Sibbes

HT: Dash House (picture and quote)

Purity of Heart

Grant us purity of heart
and strength of purpose,
that no selfish passion
may hinder us from knowing Your will,
and no weakness
hinder us from doing it;
but that in Your light
we may see light,
and in Your service
find our perfect freedom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    - Augustine, Bishop of Hippo (354-430)