Friday, May 31, 2013

Church Music Conflicts: Have We Really Always Done It "That Way"?

Ed Stetzer - Church Music Conflicts: Have We Really Always Done It "That Way"? Ed Stetzer writes:

"Music can be one of the most controversial issues in the body of Christ. Each person has his or her own unique taste in music. Christians listen to, enjoy, and are edified by all of these kinds of music. But should they?

In seeking to determine what is the right music for a church, it is important that we apply biblical principles to evaluate our music. That is not always easy, as the Bible contains no music notes and God indicates no musical preferences."

33 Reasons to Abstain from Porn

33 Reasons to Abstain from Porn - the issue continues to plague all ages. Here is a list of 33 good reasons to abstain from indulging in pornography.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Five Lies Sin Tells Me

Five Lies Sin Tells Me This is a practical list that reminds me, "We are not ignorant of his schemes" (2 Corinthians 2:11).

How Were Old Testament Saints Saved?

This article is a good, simple response to a common and complicated question.

No Truth Without Love, No Love Without Truth: The Church’s Great Challenge

Al Mohler writes, "Courage is far too rare in many Christian circles. This explains the surrender of so many denominations, seminaries, and churches to the homosexual agenda. But no surrender on this issue would have been possible, if the authority of Scripture had not already been undermined. And yet, even as courage is required, the times call for another Christian virtue as well–compassion."

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Intimacy With God

Rick Warren shares three key steps to growing in your relationship to Jesus:

You can have a thriving ministry without a thriving relationship with God, but only temporarily. Anyone can fake it in the short run, but to go the distance, you need a passionate devotional life and continual closeness to Jesus. Often, pastors tend to allow the busyness of ministry and the necessity of studying for sermon preparation to replace a real, personal walk with Jesus. But God wants better for you.

Three T’s for a thriving walk with Jesus…

1.  TIME.
It takes time to get to know somebody.  I know Jesus Christ a whole lot better than I did five years ago or ten years ago or twenty years ago.  It just takes time.  When you spend time with Jesus, it doesn’t make you more religious.  It makes you more natural.  In fact, God doesn’t want you to be religious.  He wants you to be you.

You can’t develop an intimate relationship with anybody in a crowd.  My wife tells me this all the time.  My favorite joy is to greet people on our church’s patio and talk to 100 different people.  Meanwhile Kay would like to get with one person and spend an hour with them.  She’s always saying, “You can’t get to know people in a crowd.”  You can know about them, but you get to know people by spending time with them. The same is true with God.

2.  TALK.
Relationships require communication.  That’s something else my lovely wife has taught me!  Marriages die when one partner stops talking.  You just can’t have a relationship without communication.  In the same way, you get to know God by talking to Him, by communicating.

If you heard me talk to the Lord on a daily basis, it doesn’t sound like a pastor talking.  But I talk to God all the time.  Constantly I’m saying things in my mind to God all the time.  It’s not even real spiritual.  I can be going through a Taco Bell ordering tacos, “God, I’m really glad to get this one.  I’m hungry!”  If you want to lose your joy, just talk to God in solemn, somber tones all the time.

John 16 talks about our communication with Jesus when it says “Until now you’ve not asked for anything in my name.  ask that your joy may be complete.”  Much prayer, much joy.  Little prayer, little joy.  No prayer, no joy. The more continual your communication with God, the deeper your intimacy with Him will be.

It takes TIME, it takes TALK, and it takes…

Relationships are built on trust.  Kay and I have a good relationship because I trust her.  We don’t agree on everything but I trust her implicitly.  Relationships are built on trust.  When we first got married, we had all these little rules – how you fold the towels, how you push the toothpaste from the bottom up.  Do you know how many rules we have in our home now?  Zip!  The greater the relationship, the fewer the rules you need.

God wants you to learn to trust Him.  So He allows all kinds of problems in your life.  Then He can demonstrate His reliability.  Paul says, “My number one ambition in life is …” to start churches?  No.  to get rewards in heaven?  No.  to win people to Christ?  No.  He says “My number one purpose in life is to know Christ.”  He says this at the end of his life.  Doesn’t he know God?  Of course.  But he wants to know Him better.  He never stopped hungering for God.

Your hunger for God is going to come out in different ways depending on your personality. Mystical people hunger for God in a mystical way.  Practical people hunger for God in a practical way. Loud people hunger for God in a loud way.  Emotional people hunger for God in an emotional way.  I’m not talking about how you do it.  Just hunger for God.  Always have as your number one ambition, “I want to know God more.”

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What We Mean When We Say Amen

What We Mean When We Say Amen

Five Ways We Grow

Tim Challies compares the growth of fruit on a tree to the growth of the fruit of the Spirit in the life of a believer:

"Just about every Christian has memorized the closing verses of Galatians and Paul's description of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. This is the character of the man or woman who has been justified by grace through faith.

Yet as we review the list, and especially as we review it slowly and prayerfully, we may find ourselves growing weary and discouraged by how little of that fruit we see. We are still angry at times, still struggling with self-control, still not nearly as gentle as Jesus Christ was and is."

Paul's metaphor of the "fruit" of the Spirit can help us, though. Here are five things that are true of fruit trees and, therefore, true of the fruit of the Spirit.

How to Survive a Cultural Crisis

How to Survive a Cultural Crisis Mark Dever writes a helpful article for Bible-believing Christians in a world increasingly embracing a non-biblical worldview:

"Public opinion appears to be changing about same-sex marriage, as are the nation's laws. Of course this change is just one in a larger constellation. America's views on family, love, sexuality generally, tolerance, God, and so much more seems to be pushing in directions that put Bible-believing Christians on the defensive.

It's easy to feel like we've become the new "moral outlaws," to use Al Mohler's phrase. Standing up for historic Christian principles will increasingly get you in trouble socially and maybe economically, perhaps one day also criminally. It's ironic that Christians are told not to impose their views on others, even as the threat of job loss or other penalties loom over Christians for not toeing the new party line.

In all this, Christians are tempted to become panicked or to speak as alarmists. But to the extent we do, to that same extent we show we've embraced an unbiblical and nominal Christianity."

Here, then, are seven principles for surviving the very real cultural shifts we're presently enduring...

Why Aren't People Singing?

Why Aren't People Singing? An interesting article on changes in how church-goers approach singing and how it's changed.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Ed Stetzer: "We Still Cry Out to God When Tragedy Strikes"

Ed Stetzer: "We Still Cry Out to God When Tragedy Strikes"

Is This Good News? - The Pope and "Anonymous Christians"

Is This Good News? - White Horse Inn Blog Michael Horton writes about the pope’s recent statements that so many people found surprising. “There is no way to reconcile the previous councils and papal pronouncements depriving non-Roman Catholics of salvation with the idea of the ‘anonymous Christian.’ Nevertheless, there it is. Not the development of dogma, as Cardinal Newman formulated, but the flat contradiction of dogma.”

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Facing Our Fears

We all have fears. Some are well-known, others are hidden. Many are irrational. “Phobias,” they’re called.

Most phobias have strange sounding names, a compilation of syllables to clearly identify the dreaded curse. For example, acro means height, and phobia means fear, and when combined we have acrophobia or the fear of high places. Another is agoraphobia, whose prefix agora means public square, and when coupled with phobia we’re given the fear of crowds.

Pastors face the same fears as other mortals, though our phobias tend to be skewed by the nature of our work. For example, only a pastor could experience the trauma of acro-pious-a-phobia, the fear of tall pulpits, oranti-amen-agora-phobia, the fear that no one will show up at prayer meeting. These are just a few of our ministerial maladies. But there are more—a lot more. For example:

·         Tar-n-feath-a-phobia: The fear of changing the traditional order of the worship service.
·         Soaki-diap-a-phobia: The fear of Baby Dedications.
·         Sup-no-cup-a-phobia: The fear of running out of juice at a communion service.
·         Halle-hypo-therm-a-phobia: The fear of ice cold baptismal waters.
·         Homil-heck-a-phobia: The fear of a heckler interrupting the sermon.
·         Cyber-sat-no-sun-a-phobia: The fear of a computer crashing on Saturday night with Sunday’s sermon notes on it.
·         Hic-amen-a-phobia: The fear of getting hiccups during silent prayer.
·         Smokey-tick-a-phobia: The fear of being stopped by a cop in front of the church.
·         And, of course, our congregations bring their own unique set of phobias to church, none more worrisome than the always dreaded On-n-on-n-on-a-phobia: The fear of a long, boring sermon.

Phobias are not a new phenomenon. They abound in Scripture. The Greek words Phobos and Phobeo, from which Phobia was birthed, appear 140 times, many of which pop up in the short week surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus.

From the fears of the scribes when Jesus threw the moneychangers from the temple, to the fears of the chief priests as they plotted Jesus’ death, to Pilate’s fears when he couldn’t find a diplomatic solution to appease the mobs, to the fears of the guards at the tomb when the angel rolled the stone away, phobias were the common reaction from those who had chosen not to believe the Son of God.

Two thousand years later little has changed. For much of the world Jesus continues to be an object of phobias. Either you worship Him or you fear Him.

Even those who believed had their own phobias—the fear of doing or believing, of not staying strong or failing to move forward, or even of speaking for God. That is precisely why …
God told Abraham, “Do not be afraid.”
God told Isaac, “Do not be afraid.”
God told Jacob, “Do not be afraid.”
God told Moses, “Do not be afraid.”
God told Joshua, “Do not be afraid.”
God told Gideon, “Do not be afraid.”
God told Elijah, “Do not be afraid.”
God told Hezekiah, “Do not be afraid.”
God told Jehoshaphat, “Do not be afraid.”
God told Ezekiel, “Do not be afraid.”
God told Jeremiah, “Do not be afraid.”
God told Daniel, “Do not be afraid.”
God told Zachariah, “Do not be afraid.”
God told Mary, “Do not be afraid.”
God told Joseph, “Do not be afraid.”
God told Peter, “Do not be afraid.”
God told Jairus, “Do not be afraid.”
God told Mary Magdalene, “Do not be afraid.”
God told Paul, “Do not be afraid.”
And God told John, “Do not be afraid.”

With the possible exception of Jairus and Mary Magdalene, all were significant contributors to God’s word and mission. All were leaders, chosen voices God used. And yet, all faced their assignments with fear.

Many of today’s leaders are equally fearful; afraid of “Rightly dividing the word of truth,” or “Holding fast the word of life.”

But His promises are as rock-solid today as they were to Abraham and John, and everyone in between. “God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Goodness of God and the Reality of Evil

The Goodness of God and the Reality of Evil - Al Mohler reflects on the tornado in Oklahoma: “Every thoughtful person must deal with the problem of evil. Evil acts and tragic events come to us all in this vale of tears known as human life. The problem of evil and suffering is undoubtedly the greatest theological challenge we face.”

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Talking to Your Children About Tragedy

In light of yesterday's tragedy in Moore, Oklahoma, I wanted to share a resource for parents. This piece was first developed to address the September 11, 2001 crisis. The applications below are clearly applicable to the events in Oklahoma.

                                  Helping Children Cope with America’s Great Tragedy

By Glenn Stanton

What can you say as a parent to explain the terrorism to a young child?  All the talk about the events of last September may bring back many of our children’s questions.  It may bring back some of their fears.  The following material was made available by Focus on the Family last year to help parents talk to their children about the tragedy.

Few Americans have ever seen or experienced the kind of senseless tragedy the world witnessed on September 11, 2001. As adults we find ourselves struggling to understand and respond to this devastating catastrophe. Harder still, how do we explain it to our children? How do we help our children come to terms with this terrible event, but still preserve their innocence, sense of safety and trust in God? Following are some suggestions.

Building Your Child’s Trust in God

Our children have the incredible ability to ask the most insightful theological questions in the simplest ways. Dr. Dobson calls each question an “awesome why.” When they ask us how such bad things can happen in God’s world, how do we respond?

Explain to your children that…
  • God created a perfect world, but it didn't stay that way. God gave each of us the ability to choose good or evil.
  • Just as people can choose to do good, they can also choose to do evil. Sadly, people often choose to not love God. Sometimes their evil can be unspeakably hurtful and ugly.
  • God is sad when people don't love Him or when they do bad things. He is also becomes angry when their bad behavior hurts people.
  • When such horrible things happen, we have to remember that God is right where He was when some very bad people killed his own Son, Jesus.
Horrible events cannot be easily explained. But just because we don't understand how such bad things can happen, God is still in control.

As Dr. Dobson explains in his book, When God Doesn’t Make Sense, “Most of our spiritual frustrations do not end with an enlightened, 'Oh, now I see what You were doing, Lord!’ We just have to file them under the heading, 'Things I Don’t Understand,' and leave it there.”

Building Our Children’s Sense of Security

Safety is one of the greatest needs of children. How do we assure our children that they are safe?

Children under 5 will probably not understand the significance of such events, but beginning around 6, children should be guided through an understanding of significant historical events with the love and care of their parents.

Limit exposure of graphic images and explanations in the news.

Be careful not to be too descriptive about these events in front of your children.

Spend time holding your children, allowing them to experience the warmth and security of your touch. Talk to them about what happened and be honest with them about the safety of where you live.

Let them know it is normal and healthy to feel sad when bad things happen to other people.

Don't tell them that it could have been worse. This could diminish the tragedy of what actually happened.

Read Psalms 23, 27, 46 and 61 with you children and talk about how God is our provider and comforter.

Pray together for the families of the victims, the rescue and medical workers, our civic and political leaders and our military as they work to protect our nation.

If your children experience sleep loss, nightmares, loss of appetite or changes in behavior that lasts more than two weeks, you should seek professional help from a pastor, physician or counselor.

Focus on the Family has professional counselors on staff. They can be reached by calling 719-531-3400 ext. 2700.

As a parent, you are the most important person in helping your child understand and deal with this great tragedy in our nation’s history. We hope these thoughts are helpful to you in that task.

                        "Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or
                        distress, persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
                        …For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels or
                        principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor
                        height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us
                        from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:35,
                        38-39 (NASB)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Ten Commandments for Guest-Friendly Church Members

Ten Commandments for Guest-Friendly Church Members

Twelve Ways to Prepare Your Children for Times of Doubt

Twelve Ways to Prepare Your Children for Times of Doubt acknowledges that such times will come. The list and commentary as well as the comments section are helpful.

WORLD | A biblical and scientific Adam | Vern S. Poythress | May 18, 2013

WORLD | A biblical and scientific Adam | Vern S. Poythress | May 18, 2013 “As the battle between Darwinism and the Bible rages, some evangelicals have backed away from maintaining that Adam and Eve were real, historical individuals created in the way Genesis 2 relates.” Vern Poythress recently wrote a long article explaining why such a surrender is wrong biblically and scientifically.

Why Going to Church on Sunday is An Act of War

Daniel Darling writes a challenging article which includes:

Going to a bible-believing church, in a largely Christian culture, may not seem so courageous. It still may even seem to be the good and right thing to do (though it has less cultural cache than it once had). But that doesn’t make it less significant.

So this Sunday, think about that as you scrape yourself up and make the decision to go to church..."

Aiming at Heaven

A missionary to Africa (and a former missionary kid in Africa) writes: “If there is one thing this life has taught me, it’s that I must hold loosely to everything. Everything. I can’t put down roots anywhere; I will never find stability.” Are our sights set on heaven or earth?

See article...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Litmus Test of Genuine Christianity

The Litmus Test of Genuine Christianity The author begins,"In our pluralistic culture, churches have become so varied that they spread confusion about what it really means to be a follower of Christ. When it comes to hot-button issues like gun rights, abortion, and homosexuality, professing Christians line up on opposite ends. Can Christianity legitimately be so divided? Or, to put it another way, can anyone discern the "real deal"? Is it possible to know what functional, practical Christianity truly looks like? 

Religion and Public Life in America - Times are Changing

Denny Burk shares a summary and link to an article by R.R. Reno:

R. R. Reno is the editor of First Things, and his recent lecture at Hillsdale College on“Religion and Public Life in America” is not to be missed. Reno’s analysis of the current landscape may be the best that I’ve ever seen. I won’t summarize the entire article. I will leave it to you to take the time to read the whole thing. Just to give you a taste, however, here’s the intro:

RELIGIOUS LIBERTY is being redefined in America, or at least many would like it to be. Our secular establishment wants to reduce the autonomy of religious institutions and limit the influence of faith in the public square. The reason is not hard to grasp. In America, “religion” largely means Christianity, and today our secular culture views orthodox Christian churches as troublesome, retrograde, and reactionary forces. They’re seen as anti-science, anti-gay, and anti-women—which is to say anti-progress as the Left defines progress. Not surprisingly, then, the Left believes society will be best served if Christians are limited in their influence on public life. And in the short run this view is likely to succeed. There will be many arguments urging Christians to keep their religion strictly religious rather than “political.” And there won’t just be arguments; there will be laws as well. We’re in the midst of climate change—one that’s getting colder and colder toward religion.

A big hat-tip to Patrick Schreiner for highlighting this article. Highly recommended.

Kermit Gosnell’s America — What His Trial Really Reveals

Al Mohler summarizes the case of Kermit Gosnell. He writes:

"...This is America. A nation that has legalized murder in the womb and that now finds itself staring at what abortion really represents. Human dignity cannot survive in a society that insists that a baby inside the womb has no right to live while that same baby, just seconds later, is a murder victim. Respect for human life cannot endure when a baby inside the womb is just a fetus, but when moved only a few centimeters is a full citizen...."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Boy Scouts Being Pressured to Accept Atheists

Boy Scouts being pressured to accept atheists Jim Denison writes, "In a day when standing for biblical truth is so difficult, what should Christians do?

Rich Stearns is president of World Vision, one of the largest Christian relief organizations in history.  His first book, The Hole in Our Gospel, was one of the most powerful calls to social ministry I've ever read.  Its sequel has just been released,Unfinished: Believing is Only the Beginning.  In a recent interview he was asked, "What one message do you want Christians in the U.S. to hear?"

Here's his thoughtful answer: "Many people see the Christian faith today as having less and less relevance in our society, especially when we look at the issues most Christians care about during the election season.  Christians are also worried about young people leaving the faith as more and more young adults claim no religious affiliation.

"How should Christians respond? 

Say No to Discipleship?!?

I came across a free eBook by Jason C. Dukes titled, Say Not To Discipleship?!? It is a good simple definition of biblical discipleship that confronts the most common misconception we tend to have about discipleship - that it's a class or study about God, the Bible, etc. Here are some key paragraphs:

...The New Testament does not mention “discipleship.” In the American church, we have emphasized it as the process of learning that happens after evangelism efforts convert someone. We think of discipleship typically as a study for Christians in a classroom with fluorescent lights. What the New Testament does mention, however, is the command of Jesus to “make disciples." The way He taught it and, more importantly, modeled it, was highly relational and inclusive of evangelism and missions and ministry and service and worship.

Being a disciple who makes disciples of Jesus is about ongoing relationship. We make disciples out in the rhythms of the daily. Although a bible study can be involved at times, learning happens in the midst of living. We can study about the commands of God and teachings of Jesus, but a living Word comes alive in everyday living. Our selfishness is usually not exposed and called to accountability in a lecture from a master teacher, but rather is exposed and called to accountability in friendships centered around the Master Teacher. We learn enduring love and conflict resolution and gracious forgiveness and compelling compassion in the midst of relationships, not in the midst of a classroom.

To make disciples, in my opinion, very simply is to learn and live the ways of Jesus together. The "together" may be those who are to continuing to follow Jesus, who have just begun to follow Jesus, or who have yet to follow Him. But making disciples encompasses all of the stages of belief, because we never quit learning Jesus.

Francis Chan offers the allegory of commanding his daughter to go clean her room. In a popular YouTube clip, he suggests that he doesn't intend for his daughter to come back to him excited that she memorized what he said -"Go clean your room," Chan 1:1. Nor does he intend that his daughter return to exclaim that she gathered with some of her friends to study what he said and discuss its many nuances and implications. No, he intended for her to obey. He intended that she actually clean her room. What a novel idea. Jesus might actually want us to make disciples. Not just go and get people attracted to Him, as hyper-evangelism did. Not just retreat to study about why and how Jesus wants us to live and behave and sometimes make disciples, as personal discipleship did. But actually make disciples....

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

How Do We Discern the Spiritual Conversion of Children?

Brian Croft addresses what is always a hot topic for parents and church leaders working with children. How do we discern gospel readiness.

See article...

Heaven is Hot, Hell is Cold

Why so many people–including scientists–suddenly believe in an afterlife Macleans magazine, Canada’s answer to Time, had a recent cover story about the phenomenon of all the “I went to heaven” books. The author ends up sharing some interesting reflections.

The Plastic Fruit of Online Living

The Plastic Fruit of Online Living This article focuses on the differences between our online "public" Christian we try to present ourselves...and the reality of who we really are. It's a good read.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Every Number Has A Name

I picked this quote up from NewSpring Church:

"Every number has a name, every name has a story and every story matters to God."  

A Week of Groceries

A Week of Groceries - I  enjoy photo collections like this one. Here is a week of groceries from different families around the world.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ed Stetzer - Missing the Mission: Looking for the Right Results While Loving the Wrong Things

Ed Stetzer - Missing the Mission: Looking for the Right Results While Loving the Wrong Things
All churches love certain things. Some love fellowship, some worship, some prayer. Those are good loves. Some are neutral loves. Some are not. Other churches love their building, their history, traditions, or their strategy.

Those can be good or bad, depending on what we mean by love and how we value those things. But, some things churches love that hurt their mission and hinder their call. Here are three I've observed from my work with thousands of churches.

Shaping a Child's Soul

Shaping a Child’s Soul - Timothy Paul Jones strikes a good balance in this article. “If your goal is organizational efficiency, equipping parents to disciple their children may be an inefficient use of your time, and turning over children's spiritual lives to professionals at church might make perfect sense.”

The World's Worst Violators of Religious Freedom

The world’s worst violators of religious freedom - The worst countries for religious freedom are either Muslim or atheist. (Burma is Buddhist.) We understand about Islam, but atheists like to present themselves as tolerant. What does it tell us ... See Country List 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Secret to Sharing Your Story

Every Christ-follower needs to be prepared and willing to share their spiritual journey story. Brett Eastman gives a good, quick look at telling your story:

A good way to do this is by shaping ahead of time how you would tell your story. Having your story prepared in your mind before an opportunity to share it arises, helps you makes the most of that sharing opportunity. Here are some guidelines on what you might include in your story:

Map: More Than Half of Humanity Lives Within This Circle

More Than Half of Humanity - This map shows something incredible: that more than half of the people on earth live in a very, very small area. It also represents the greatest concentration of unreached people and people groups in the world.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Where Was God When....?

I came across this some time ago and I don't know have the source recorded but it's worth sharing. We often ask, "Where was God when (insert your least favorite problem, disaster, or crisis)? This piece looks at an equally complex issue, "Where was God when all these good things happened?"

As this school year ends, the question I am asking is: Where was God when so many good things happened this past year?

How can God be a God of justice, yet allow so much good to happen to people who dishonor him by disbelieving in him, or giving lip service to his existence, or paying no more attention to him than the carpet in their den, or rejecting the kingship of his Son, or scorning his word, or preferring a hundred pleasures before him?

How can God be righteous and do so much good to us who are so unrighteous?

Where was God for the last year?
  • Where was God when nine million planes landed safely in the United States?
  • Where was God when the world revolved around the sun so accurately that it achieved the Winter solstice perfectly at 5:12 AM December 21 and headed back toward Spring?
  • Where was God when the President was not shot at a thousand public appearances?
  • Where was God when American farms produced ten million bushels of corn, and 2.8 million bushels of soybeans — enough food to sell $100 billions worth to other nations?
  • Where was God when no terrorist plot brought down a single American building or plane or industry?
  • Where was God when the sun maintained its heat and its gravitational pull precisely enough that we were not incinerated or frozen?
  • Where was God when three hundred million Americans drank water in homes and restaurants without getting sick?
  • Where was God when no new plague swept away a third of our race?
  • Where was God when Americans drove three trillion accident free miles?
  • Where was God when over three million healthy babies were born in America?

Here are a few of the answers given by God himself in his word.

1. God was reigning from his throne to do his sovereign will
“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” (Psalm 115:3)
“He works all things according to the counsel of his will.” (Ephesians 1:11)
2. God was reigning from his throne to prevent much sin and harm in the world.
“God said to [Abimelech, the king of Gerar], it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her.” (Genesis 20:6)
“You know what is restraining [the man of lawlessness] now.” (2 Thessalonians 2:6)
3. God was reigning from his throne to give a witness to his goodness and his patience.
“God did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:17)
4. God was reigning from his throne to summon the world to repentance.
“Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)

So as the school year ends, I bow my head as an undeserving sinner, amazed that I have not been swept away. And even more, that because of Jesus, I am forgiven, adopted into God’s family, and destined for eternal life.

God has been good to us. And his best gift is the one that will be there when all the others fail. Jesus, crucified, risen, reigning.

Casual Christianity

I wanted to share this excerpt from yesterday's sermon on "Foundations":

George Barna, in his book The Seven Faith Tribes talks about how most people seem to be viewing discipleship…being a follower of Jesus. He calls it “casual Christianity.” Barna writes:

“Casual Christianity is faith in moderation. It allows them to feel religious without having to prioritize their faith. Christianity is a low-risk, predictable proposition…providing a faith perspective that is not demanding. A Casual Christian can be all the things that they esteem: a nice human being, a family person, religious, an exemplary citizen, a reliable employee – and never have to publicly defend or represent difficult moral or social positions or even lose much sleep over their private choices as long as they mean well and generally do their best. From their perspective, their brand of faith practice is genuine, realistic and practical. To them, Casual Christianity is the best of all worlds; it encourages them to be a better person than if they had been irreligious, yet it is not a faith into which they feel compelled to heavily invest themselves.”

Is that what Jesus really expects? Is that the right foundation? Do you think that’s what He died on the cross to produce in us as His people? When Jesus called His first disciples He said, “Follow me” (Mark 1:17, NASB). When Jesus was describing a lifetime of being His disciple He said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24, NIV).

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Busyness Is Not a Virtue

I've come to believe that busyness may be our greatest curse spiritually. Satan doesn't have to make us "bad"...he just needs to keep us busy. This article gives a good practical word about being obsessed with "busy".

See article...

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Global Rich List

Times are tough for a lot of people but perspective can be helpful sometimes. Where do you rank in wealth among the population of earth? This site will give you a pretty good idea...

The Global Rich List...

Instagram and Your Kids: Advice for Protecting Their Safety and Their Self-Image

Instagram and Your Kids: Advice for Protecting Their Safety and Their Self-Image

A Perspective on Same Sex Marriage

Jim Denison refers to this as "the best response to gay marriage I've seen." Denison writes:

"Does it seem to you that the "train" on accepting homosexuality and gay marriage has left the station?  Where does this trend leave those who believe the Bible on this issue?  San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone recently gave a fascinating interview to USA Today; I commend it to you in its entirety.  It closes with his response to the question, "Are you worried about the recent trend in courts and states going against you?" 

Three of the Scariest Headlines I’ve Read Lately

Three of the Scariest Headlines I’ve Read Lately by Thom Rainer.

The Sanctifying Work of Parenthood

Christina Fox writes about The Sanctifying Work of Parenthood and how God uses the experience to make us more like Jesus:

"Many people describe marriage as the laboratory where our spiritual growth is fostered and developed. I find it to be equally true of parenting as well. God has used parenting in my life to refine and change me in ways I had not anticipated."

See the full article....

Thursday, May 2, 2013

National Day of Prayer

Today is set aside as the National Day of Prayer. It is a focused time to pray for our nation and its many needs. Today, as much as any time in my life, it feels like we need to pray for America.

Our prayer room today is set up with several prayer resources. One of those, produced by the Southern Baptist Convention, is particularly helpful in praying for our land - not just today but every day. It is titled:

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What Are Your Functional Gods?

X-Ray Questions: Discerning Functional Gods – This is an important article on human motivation by David Powlison. It’s a great tool for self-counseling. “Unbelievers are wholly owned by ungodly motives—their functional gods. Yet true believers are often severely compromised, distracted, and divided by our functional gods as well. Thankfully, grace reorients us, purifies us, and turns us back to our Lord. Grace makes our professed God and functional God one and the same.”

Are Christians More Like Jesus or More Like the Pharisees?

What does it mean to be Christlike? Are believers representing Him well in the world? A new study by the Barna Group says, "Maybe not so much..."

"In this nationwide study of self-identified Christians, the goal was to determine whether Christians have the actions and attitude of Jesus as they interact with others or if they are more akin to the beliefs and behaviors of Pharisees, the self-righteous sect of religious leaders described in the New Testament."

The summary of their research includes the type questions they asked and their findings. Review the questions and see how you would measure up.