Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fanny Crosby

The American great hymn writer Fanny Crosby was born on this day in 1820. During her lifetime she saw over 8,000 of her poems set to music and over 100,000,000 copies of her songs printed. Some of my personal favourites are Redeemed, Blessed Assurance, Near the Cross and to God be the Glory.

The first hymn to win her world-wide attention is the one closest to my own heart - Pass Me Not. Fanny composed this hymn in 1868 after a prison service. As she spoke to the prisoners, one inmate cried out, "O Lord, don't pass me by!" She was so moved that she went home and wrote her famous plea.

In all my years of prison ministry I have found this hymn, after Amazing Grace, to be the one that has most effect on those who are incarcerated. Fanny once said: "Mother, if I had a choice, I would still choose to remain blind ... for when I die; the first face I will ever see will be the face of my blessed Saviour."

In February 12, 1915 she finally saw the face of Jesus. Below is a video overview of her life from Mars Hill Church.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Devil is in the Church?

From the Seattle Times – March 20, 2009

Arlington woman blames Satan for $73K church theft

An Arlington woman accused of taking more than $73,000 from the church where she was an administrative assistant blames the devil.

Papers filed with a theft charge Wednesday in Snohomish County Superior Court say Collen R. Okeson, 62, told detectives she guessed "Satan had a big part in the theft."

Okeson is accused of forging the pastor's signature on 80 checks from the Arlington Free Methodist church. She was fired in February 2008. She told detectives she used the money to cover household expenses.

"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:8-9)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Do we have guardian angels?

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 18:10).

During our Acts 2:42 gathering on the evening of March 8th the question was asked: "Do we have guardian angels?" I responded by saying in essence that while we do read in the Bible of angels that work on behalf of human beings, I did not know of any text that stated we each have an angel assigned to us. I did receive an email a few days afterwards asking me if Jesus’ words from Matthew 18:10 was a reference to guardian angels, or to be more specific if - “the word 'their' seems to say they belong to the little ones.”

First of all - this is a great question! I love questions that make me think and force me to do some study. After doing some research I found that the word “their” in
Matthew 18:10 is a collective pronoun in the Greek, and refers to the fact that believers are served by angels in general. Nowhere in Scripture does it state that an angel was assigned to an individual. Sometimes angels were sent to individuals, but no mention is ever made of that assignment being permanent. Historically the Jews had fully developed the belief in guardian angels during the period between the Old and New Testaments. This belief was carried on by some of the early church fathers who believed that not only did each person have a guardian angel, but also each person had a demon assigned to him/her – again with no explicit scriptural basis for it.

Do we have guardian angels? The Bible does not emphatically answer whether or not each follower of Jesus Christ has a guardian angel assigned to him/her. Maybe the real question before us is this: If we truly have a sovereign, providential, omniscient, omnipotent, all-loving, graceful and merciful God who watches over us, does it really matter whether or not there is a finite “guardian angel” protecting us?

The Joy of Serving

"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25).

I've not posted much over the past two weeks because I have been blessed by taking care of my wife Nancy (with MIcah's help) as she is recovering from surgery. In reflecting back, I most likely had the time to write and post a few blogs - but my mind and heart were somewhere else (or rather with someone else).

Nancy is making progress and I was back in the office today. Thanks to all for the meals and your prayers!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Death of Common Sense

I recently received an email with a document attached entitled: “An Obituary Printed In The London Times.” Always wanting to make sure what I post on this site is as factual as possible, I did my research and could not find any proof that this piece was actually ever printed in The London Times.

What I did find it was in fact written by Lori Borgman and first published March 15, 1998 in the Indianapolis Star as “The Death of Common Sense.” Since that time the article has been published in newspapers and magazines around the world, and circulated widely on the Internet. What I have posted here is the popular edited and adapted version as we see it today. To read the full original article, which is quite interesting and somewhat different –
Click Here.

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as: Knowing when to come in out of the rain; why the early bird gets the worm; Life isn't always fair; and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge). His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an Elastoplast to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband; churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault. Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason. He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers;
I Know My Rights, I Want It Now, Someone Else Is To Blame, and I'm A Victim.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Beliefs and Practices info is now posted

The booklet, notes, and powerpoint from our beliefs and practices session last night at Arrowsmith have now been posted on our Acts 2:42 website. For the link Click Here.

Friday, March 6, 2009

My Favorite Quote of the Week

"They were apt at criticism as here and there one; some of them were very wise in their remarks, and some were otherwise."

C. H. Spurgeon, "Autobiography Volume I - The Early Years"

Our Biggest Problem

The other day I saw a sign on a mirror that said: “Objects in mirror may appear bigger than they actually are.” And when I looked in the mirror I saw “me” – bigger than I really am. I also realized that’s my biggest problem – a bigger “me.”

In reality this is the root of all our problems – seeing ourselves bigger than we actually are. This could easy be the definition for pride, which is the root of all sin. Someone once said that pride is taking ourselves too seriously and not taking God seriously enough. The apostle Paul said the same thing this way:

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (Romans 12:3)

Top Ten Hubble Space Telescope Pictures

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (Psalm 19:1)

from the Winklers

Nancy is now home!

This morning my wife Nancy was discharged from the hospital. Please continue to pray for healing and recovery in the days before us.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Nancy: "Thank you for your prayers!"

Thanks to all of you who prayed for my wife Nancy today. Her surgery went well and she is resting in the hospital tonight. The doctors tell us it will take a number of weeks for her to recover - and so your continued prayers would be appreciated. In talking with her tonight, Nancy expressed her deep gratitude for the loving concern and prayers she has felt at work in her life throughout all of this. We are truly blessed to a small part of the great and glorious family of God! Below is the Scripture she has put to memory and held in her heart during this whole process.

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock." (Isaiah 26:3-4)

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Slippery Walk of Life

On Sundays I usually get to church between 6:30-7:00 AM to prepare myself for our morning worship service at Arrowsmith Baptist. Most of the time I walk to church and just leave the car at home, so Nancy and Micah can come later on. Last week I was making my way along the 0.9 kilometer walk in the fog and darkness - praying and singing and thinking about the activities of the morning – and I was just about to the door of the church when I suddenly hit a slippery patch of black ice and just about fell flat on my back. By the grace of God I kept my balance - and again found myself deeply grateful for His goodness.

Reflecting on that moment afterwards, two thoughts came to mind:

1) How in His sovereignty, God providentially and mercifully protects us.

"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life" (Psalm 138:7).

2) How careful we must be in our walk with God in the darkness of our own sinful hearts, as we make our way through the fog of this fallen world.

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16)

". . . so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." (Colossians 1:10)

Regeneration, Licorice and Jesus