Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

God on Trial in Newtown

God on trial in Newtown is an excellent article by Jim Denison. I seeks to respond to the question, "Where was God and why did He let this happen?"

Monday, December 17, 2012

Helping Children Deal with Grief

The tragedy in Connecticut has touched our nation deeply. It is hard enough for adults to comprehend. It can be overwhelming for children. As you have opportunity with your children, the following article might prove helpful in visiting with them about the recent tragedy or other losses in life.

(See the article)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Newsweek vs. The New Testament

Newsweek put Jesus on their cover this week. It is another predictable attack on biblical Christianity from the news magazine. Al Mohler responds to the article in detail in his blog. I really liked his last paragraph (though you should read the whole article).

It says: "So, in the waning days of Newsweek as a print magazine, the editors decided to take on the New Testament. Readers should note carefully that it is Newsweek, and not the New Testament, that is going out of print."


'White Elephant' Gifts Distract Us from Serving God

In this season of Christmas parties, I came across this story (and a nice application) regarding the background to the "white elephant" gift.

'White Elephant' Gifts Distract Us from Serving God

Gordon MacDonald shares the following story:

In ancient days when the king of Siam had an enemy he wanted to torment and destroy, he would send that enemy a unique gift, a white elephant, a live, albino elephant. These animals were considered sacred in the culture of that day. So the recipient of that elephant had no choice but to intentionally care for the gift. This elephant would take an inordinate amount of the enemy's time, resources, energy, emotions, and finances. Over time the enemy would destroy himself because of the extremely burdensome process of caring for the gift.
Our spiritual enemy uses the same strategy on us. Let's say you buy season tickets to [your favorite sports team], but because you still have a lot of games to go to, you no longer have time to serve in some area of ministry. Or let's say you buy a summer cottage, but now you miss most weekend worship services between the beginning of May and the end of September. Or let's say you buy a health club membership to get in shape. You used to get up early in the morning to read your Bible and pray, but now you don't have time because you're working out before you go to work. Or let's say you buy a spot for one of your kids on a traveling sports team, and now you're too busy to join our community impact ministry as we serve the poor.

Are there white elephants in your life? Are you spending money on things that take your time away from God? The money isn't the problem; the activities aren't necessarily the problem; the problem is a white elephant "gift" that has pulled you away from God-honoring pursuits.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Where Did our Christmas Customs Originate?

A good summary article from Lifeway:

The Christmas season abounds with holiday customs and traditions, but most of us probably never stop to wonder about their origins. We decorate our homes inside and out with lights, candles, and greenery. We stuff stockings and send Christmas cards to family and friends. But why do we do these things year after year? Of course, we're celebrating the birth of Jesus, but did you know that many of our modern-day Christmas traditions have their roots in ancient cultures and practices, some of which actually predate Christ? Let's take a closer look at a few holiday customs.

Monday, December 3, 2012

HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF CHRISTMAS

(This article is an adaptation of an article from a church in Great Britain).

HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF CHRISTMAS
In case you haven't noticed, there is less than one month to go until Christmas! Regardless of how we feel about the Christmas season, one thing we as Christians can be excited about is the opportunity we have to use the special Christmas events like Christmas Celebration and Christmas Eve Services as a means to share the gospel with our friends.

Most of us know that these special Christmas events are good opportunities to invite friends and neighbors to church, but we often find it hard to do. So how can we make the most of Christmas?

Motivation
Before thinking about how to invite friends, it is worth examining our hearts and think about why we inviting people at Christmas is a great idea. Some ways that people suggested to motivate themselves were:
1. Remind yourself of the gospel ‘if I don't remind myself of the gospel I find that I hold back because of fears that me speaking about Jesus or inviting people to events will impact my popularity or what friends think of me. When I remind myself of the gospel I remember that their standing before God is much more important that my standing before people and what they think of me.'
2. Remembering the joy that we have in Christ
3. Recognizing that ‘the fields are white for harvest' John 4:35 (ESV)

Preparation
Often the friends who do come in response to our invitations are the ones with whom we've developed a good relationship with, spend time with and genuinely care about. If we invite people to other activities (lunch, coffee, gym classes) with us then inviting to a Christmas Service won't seem so out of the blue. If we aren't doing so already, it might be worth spending time with friends outside of a purely social capacity.

Prayer
We tend to know that we need to pray as we look to invite people, but often we forget or neglect to do it or we are just not sure what to pray. Some ideas that people suggested include:
1. Pray before we invite friends
2. Pray specifically for friends that we are planning to invite
3. Pray for God to work in the hearts of those who do come
4. Pray for the service itself, that the gospel would be clearly proclaimed

Invitations
This is what most of us find hardest doing - actually inviting our friends. Don't feel down about finding it hard, you won't be the only one! Some things to note when it comes to inviting:
1. It is worth sending a mass email invitation out, but try to follow that up with conversations with individuals
2. Be prepared for people to say no
3. Giving an invite can really be as simple as 'Hey I wonder whether you'd like to come to a Christmas event next week at my church? Then give them the printed invites.
4. Arrange to go for lunch, dinner or drinks after one of the services

Follow-up
Getting people to come along to a Christmas service or event might be just the start of our friends' journey to faith in the Lord Jesus. Helping people to keep thinking about the gospel and about Jesus is difficult but here are some things you could do:
1. Plan ahead to have a coffee after the service
2. Listen carefully to the talk and maybe pick up one idea to keep talking about with your friends
3. Be ready to invite friends to further lunchtime talks or maybe a regular church service in January.

Entitlement and Thanksgiving

This from Thom Rainer in an article titled Entitlement and Thanksgiving.

If I feel entitled, I complain about my job.
If I am thankful, I am grateful to have a job.
If feel entitled, I complain about the meal I’m eating.
If I am thankful, I am grateful to have food on the table.
If I feel entitled, I complain that the government does not do enough for me.
If I am thankful, I ask what I can first do for others.
If I feel entitled, I complain about my spouse.
If am thankful, I express gratitude that someone has put up with me all these years.
If I feel entitled, I complain about living paycheck to paycheck.
If I am thankful, I am grateful simply to have a paycheck.
If I feel entitled, I complain about what’s wrong with my church.
If I am thankful, I am ever grateful for the freedom to worship.
If I feel entitled, I complain about the deficiencies of different family members.
If am thankful, I am grateful that I have a family that loves and cares for me.
If I feel entitled, I complain about the lousy weather we’re having.
If I am thankful, I am grateful to be a free person regardless of the weather.
If I feel entitled, I complain to God about why He is treating me so unfairly.
If I am thankful, I know that I deserve nothing good, that all gifts are an act of grace.
Dear Lord, forgive me for my sense of entitlement. Remind me to rejoice in all things, and in all things to be thankful. Remind me to count my blessings. And remind me when my heart begins to stray from thanksgiving to entitlement.