Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What is Love?

In my research for sermons during our 40 Days of Love emphasis, I've found some fun videos. This one is done as a 1950's educational video on love during high school. Scroll down to "What is Love?"

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Applause of Nail-Scarred Hands

I ran into an article this week that contained a powerful quote. In a time when we often seek the praise and approval of the people around us, this phrase has tremendous refocusing power. When we are seeking our value and purpose in what others say or believe about us, it helps to redirect our priorities. When everyone else seems to have their own purpose for our lives, this phrase brings clarity to life. It says:
"It matters not if the world has heard
Or approves or understands ….
The only applause we're meant to seek
Is that of nail-scarred hands."
(BJ Hoff)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Thinking About the Most Important Commandment

I was exposed to a powerfully convicting word recently (reader beware). In his book God is the Gospel, John Piper essentially asks whether we are in love with God. This is significant. When Jesus was asked what the most important command in the Bible was He summed it up in a couple of sentences. Jesus said, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:28-31).

Piper wrote, "The critical question for our generation--and for every generation--is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?"

I think most people would really wrestle with that question. If heaven could still be heaven for you without Jesus there as long as everything else was good...it's probably a good indication that the Great Commandment of Jesus is probably in need of some spiritual attention. It is a good diagnostic question relating to spiritual health. If you could live without Jesus "there" then you may be living most of life without Him "here." It's worth some thinking time.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Disaster Relief

The needs in Haiti are great and the needs will continue long after the news agencies have left. In the present crisis needs, the following organizations are leading the charge. The Baptist Response is to meet the immedate needs for water purifiers and meals for the earthquake victims. Everything you give to this site will go directly to Disaster Relief rather than administrative expenses too.

Sunday, January 17, we will have a special offering for the needs in Haiti. Right now, we can give and we can pray. More opportunties will arise in the future to demonstrate the love of God to these hurting people.

Baptist Global Response
To donate, go to www.baptistglobalresponse.com/new/

The American Red Cross To donate, go to www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.

World VisionTo donate, go to http://donate.worldvision.org/OA_HTML/xxwv2ibeCCtpItmDspRte.jsp?funnel=dn&item=1958776&ppi=62928097§ion=10324&go=item&xxwvCampaign=12371189

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Rethinking Resolutions


In considering New Year's resolutions, I came across this suggestion from the editor of Discipleship Journal. If you are looking for direction from the Lord on your next steps with Him in the new year, this exercise may prove helpful.

Connie Willems writes:

One time, God sent the prophet Jeremiah to a potter’s house for a tangible demonstration of what it means to be moldable clay (Jeremiah 18). As I was thinking of potters and clay, I needed my own visual reminder, so God and I went together to a modern version of a potter’s house: YouTube. There, I sat quietly with God and watched potters work with clay.

God pointed out how good they were at their craft, how focused, how hands-on. And then He began to whisper about the specific way He wanted to shape me in the coming year. The life area He put His finger on surprised me; it’s not a place where I would have made a resolution. Still, this process of discerning God’s plan for me beats my old ineffective cycle of making my own commitments, trying hard, and then forgetting. Now, as “clay,” my role is simply to stay in relationship with God and surrender to His shaping; the results are in His hands.

Why don’t you try it? Hang out with God at a potter’s shop, ask Him questions, listen for His answers—and see what renovation He wants to work in you this year. Here are some links and questions to get you started:Pottery demonstrations:• A Japanese potter crafting a tea setA Mexican potter mining clay and forming a potAn American potter shaping a bowl
Questions to ask as you watch:•

Father, what do You want me to notice about the potter? • What would You like me to see and understand about the process of working with clay?• What insights do You want to give me about Your intentions toward me as You shape and form me?• What would You like to tell me about how You want to shape me in 2010? Is there a Scripture passage or theme You want to direct me to?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Resolutions for a New Year from Another Generation

In this season when we consider New Year's resolutions, you might consider this one, created by the American Puritan divine Jonathan Edwards. He penned them, not on a single New Years' Day, but throughout two pivotal years after his graduation from Yale, during which entered his first pastorate, in Northampton, Massachusetts.
During these years, Edwards intensely considered his spiritual state and devised ways he could improve himself as a Christian. The resulting list of resolutions reminded him to dwell each day on his own death and eternal destiny and to bring his every emotion, thought, and action in line with the Word of God:

"48. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or no; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of."
Though I sometimes find the Puritans scary in their spiritual intensity and wonder if their strict practices sometimes erred on the side of works-righteousness, I always find this list of Edwards's not only challenging but inspiring. I am sure that, like New Years resolution-makers throughout history, he often failed to come up to the grand aspirations enshrined in these resolutions. But I also suspect he benefited greatly from the exercise of writing them and trying to live by them.
To read Edwards's full list of resolutions, click here.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year

I came across this set of questions for personal growth and evaluation at the beginning of a new year and wanted to pass them on. They are written by Don Whitney.

Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. "Consider your ways!" (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.
Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It's so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we're going and where we should be going.
The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.....QUESTIONS: