Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What Wondrous Love is This, O My Soul!

I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction;
you have known the distress of my soul, and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
you have set my feet in a broad place.
Psalm 31:7-8

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this
That caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul!

When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down
Beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul for my soul,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.

And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on.
And when from death I’m free
I’ll sing His love for me,
And through eternity I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
And through eternity I’ll sing on.

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this
That caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Grace of God in Times of Great Need

And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” And there was a prophetess, Anna . . . and coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2:34-36, 38)

Excerpt from “The Good News of Great Joy for All People” – 2010-12-26
As Mary is pondering the “sword” that will “pierce” her “soul” for the cause of the fulfilled promise of God - Luke introduces a second person into our text for today, whose name is “Anna.” Anna was a woman of at least 84 years of age; she was married for seven years before her husband died, and lived the rest of her life in the temple as a widow: "She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.” Now Anna was in the temple for the same reason Simeon was. She was “worshiping with fasting and in prayer” while waiting for the Messiah, the Savior to come. And we read that “coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

Yet, the deeper reason of why Anna is in this story at this point is revealed by looking at the meaning of Anna’s name. “Anna” means “grace.” Just after Simeon told Mary a “sword” will “pierce” her “soul” for the purpose of fulfilling God’s promise - God sends Anna (“grace”) into her life to thank God for the fulfillment of His promise. Anna (“grace”) could do so because Anna had endured the heart-piercing experience of the loss of her own husband by running to God and clinging to Him with a life of service and devotion. Mary would need the full extent of God’s grace in the days, months and years ahead; God’s grace would be with her, just as Anna (“grace”) had always been in the temple. As with Anna, God’s grace is always with us when we full commit our lives to Him. "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).

The Good News of Great Joy: God is For Us

. . . there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:8-12)

Excerpt from “The Good News of Great Joy for All People” – 2010-12-24
Consider for a moment that you’re God (which a lot of us consider quite often) and you want to announce to the world the most stunning, amazing, incredible, joyous news ever; an event which will literally change the course of history – the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Saviour of the world, the One for whom the nation of Israel has been waiting and hoping and praying for – for thousands of years, the One for whom all of fallen humanity has been waiting, hoping and praying for since the first sin entered the world in the Garden of Eden. He has finally come! Who do you announce it to? Surely not to shepherds! Some years ago when Princess Diana’s sons Harry and William were born, they didn’t send a messenger down to the docks to break the news first to the longshoremen; they didn’t issue personal invitations to the cab drivers of London to come visit Diana and her new baby in Windsor castle. No, I’m sure any announcements that were sent out were printed in gold leaf - and hand delivered to political leaders and foreign heads of state.

Yet God announced the greatest and most important news in all of history to a bunch of religious and social outcasts of ill repute, who were considered to be unclean and unworthy by human standards. But God does not live by or work according to human standards; He sees people much differently than we do. By choosing these lowly, unworthy shepherds to be the very first to receive the “good news” of Christ’s birth, God was sovereignly and providentially demonstrating that Jesus was not going to be the Saviour of only the political and social and religious elite – the kings and governors, popes and priests – but that Jesus would be the Saviour of all kinds of people - regardless of race, or intelligence, or education, or wealth, or profession, or political power, or social standing, or any of the other standards human beings judge by. God offers His love and mercy and grace to “all people” who will trust in Jesus and surrender their lives to Jesus as Lord and Saviour. This is - “good news.”

Saturday, December 25, 2010

You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger . . .

from Worldmag

Good People All, This Christmas Time

Wexford Carol

Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved son
With Mary holy we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born

The night before that happy tide
The noble Virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town
But mark right well what came to pass
From every door repelled, alas
As was foretold, their refuge all
Was but a humble ox’s stall

Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep
To whom God’s angel did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear
Arise and go, the angels said
To Bethlehem, be not afraid
For there you’ll find, this happy morn
A princely babe, sweet Jesus, born

With thankful heart and joyful mind
The shepherds went the babe to find
And as God’s angel had foretold
They did our Saviour Christ behold
Within a manger he was laid
And by his side a virgin maid
Attending on the Lord of Life
Who came on earth to end all strife

There were three wise men from afar
Directed by a glorious star
And on they wandered night and day
Until they came where Jesus lay
And when they came unto that place
Where our beloved Messiah lay
They humbly cast them at his feet
With gifts of gold and incense sweet.

from JT

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength – Anthony Griffith

“Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

During this Christmas season I have been focusing on the theme of the joy that comes in knowing Jesus. Anthony Griffith is a Christian comedian who exemplifies that kind of joy. The first video is a clip from one of his stand up routines; the second the testimony of his joy in the Lord.

Enoch walked with God . . .

Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. (Genesis 5:24)

An Afghan man walks on the street as the sun sets in southern Afghanistan.
Photo by Marko Djurica (REUTERS) from The Big Picture.

The Presence of Jesus Turns Fear into Joy

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people." (Luke 2:10)

Excerpt from “The Joyful Presence of God” – 2010-12-19
The night Jesus was born some shepherds who were not far from the stable where Mary and Joseph were staying, found themselves face to face with an angel, who said to them: “Fear not.” In the first chapter of Luke we read of an angel saying the same to Zechariah and Mary (verses 13 and 30). I’m sure we all would experience some degree of fear if suddenly the darkness of night was filled with glorious light and we were confronted with supernatural being - as in the words of J. Vernon McGee: “When the supernatural touches the natural it always creates fear.” The truth is any sinner here on earth would fear the presence of a holy God. Even as Christians we will fear because while we may be saved, we are not yet fully sanctified. When faced with God we will fear because we still have sin in our hearts and lives, Hebrews 10:31 tells us: "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

But even though it would natural for fallen sinners to fear the presence of a Holy God, God sends word this morning that we are to, “Fear not!” In Hebrews 2:14-15 we read that Jesus came into the world and went to the cross for us so “that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery." In Christ we no longer need fear death – nor do we need fear anything that might happen to us in our journey through life on earth. Jesus said: "In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart (“Fear not!”); I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The message of Christmas is that Immanuel (“God with us”) has come – and we need not fear death or anything in life because God is sovereign over all things, and His presence is “with us” and within us in the person of Jesus Christ. The Word of God proclaims this truth: "Fear not for I am with you. Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will help you; I will strengthen you; I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness . . . Do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall wear . . . Cast all your anxieties on God because he cares for you . . . The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life: of whom shall I be afraid? . . . The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” We need not fear because Jesus came to replace fear with joy. Faith in Christ is about joy. This is more than just the joy of being rescued from the deadly consequences of our sin – but even more so about an abundant joy we can know through a deep, intimate relationship with God in Christ. Jesus said: "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full" (John 15:11). This doesn’t mean that everything in life will be joyful, but rather that in the face of struggle, trial and suffering – and even death – we can know a joy in God through Christ is superintends any struggle or trial or suffering or death we are facing. This is what the apostle Paul meant when he told the Philippians and Thessalonians to "Rejoice always, and again I will say rejoice." Always? Yes, always! Even with tears of grief and pain; "as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing," Paul would say (2 Corinthians 6:10).

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Prayer for Senior Adults

Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.
Isaiah 46:4

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Immanuel: God is Always With Us

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (Matthew 1:23)

Excerpt from “The Fulfilled Promise of God” – 2010-12-12
A story is told a grandfather found his grandson jumping up and down in his playpen, crying at the top of his voice. When little Johnnie saw his grandfather, he reached up with his little chubby hands and said, "Out, Grampa, out." It was only natural for the grandfather to reach down to lift him out of his predicament, but as he did the mother of the child stepped in and said: "No, Johnnie, you are being punished--so you must stay in." The grandfather was at a loss to know what to do. The child’s tears and little hands reached deep into his heart. But the mother’s firmness in correcting her son could not be taken lightly. But the grandfather found a way to help his grandson. He could not take the little boy out of the playpen, and so he climbed in with him. That is what God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, did for us at the cross. That is the meaning of Christmas. In leaving heaven for earth God climbed into our punishment for sin “with us.” The Bible says: "The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us." C. S. Lewis put it this way: “God became man to enable men to become the sons of God.”

Yet, God was not just “with us” the few years that Jesus walked on this earth. On the night just before he was arrested and nailed to the cross Jesus made the following promise to those who would follow him: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever . . . whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you" (John 14:16-17). God also fulfilled the promise - as God breathed His life-giving Spirit into us at creation, and as He breathed His Holy Spirit into Mary so she would conceive Jesus, so Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into God’s people at Pentecost. Jesus is still “with us” because the Bible tells us that after he was crucified, died, rose from the dead and then ascended into heaven, he sent his Holy Spirit to live within us. God, in Jesus Christ, came to be “with us” by the power the Holy Spirit – and God, in Jesus Christ, is now within us by the presence of the Holy Spirit. What this means is that God is “with us” as this very moment and “with us” forever, because Jesus is “with us” at this very moment and “with us” forever – because the Holy Spirit is within us at this very moment and within us forever.

Jesus promised us it would be so. In Matthew 28:18-20 we read that Jesus said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Jesus Christ is “Immanuel” is “God . . . always . . . with us” – the fulfilled promise of God.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Faithful Providence of God over Our Fallen Sinful Nature

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. (Matthew 1:1)

Excerpt from “The Faithful Providence of God” – 2010-12-05
The very first thing we should notice in this family tree is the emphasis Matthew puts on one person: “Jesus Christ.” This book is not about Matthew, it’s not about Paul or Peter or John or any of the other apostles, or anybody else we read about in the Old or New Testament. It’s about Jesus. All of history is about his-story. Everything that has happened in the past, what takes place today, and what is yet to come, is about God and His plan to send a Savior into the world to rescue us from our sin and restore us back to God – so that all the world would give our most sovereign and supreme and preeminent God the glory that is due Him. God’s faithful providence does so regardless of who we are and what we do.

The reality of all of this is – you and I are here today because God has providentially ordained it be so. The Bible tells us that God created each one of us in His image for the purpose of His glory – which means we all were created to reflect and reveal who God is in all that we say and do. Yet sin has shattered God’s image in us and continues to selfishly divert our hearts and lives away from God and away from His created purposes and plans. That is why Jesus came into the world. By the work of the cross our sins are forgiven, and by the reality of the resurrection we are set free from our selfishness to truly enjoy the fullness of the beauty and power and love and grace and truth of God in all that He is.

You and I are providentially here today because the hunger, the deepest yearning of our hearts is for God – which is a hunger and yearning that has been with us before creation itself. Ephesians 1:3-4: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him." You and I are also providentially here today not only because He has chosen us but also because God has providentially empowered us beyond our sinful nature by His sovereign grace to surrender our hearts and lives to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Ephesians 2:8-10: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."

Jesus said: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him" (John 6:44). By His faithful providence God has been drawing sinful, fallen people to the purpose and plan of His will from the beginning of time - and through all generations of faithful, flawed, and forgotten sinners up to this very moment. It is God who works in our hearts, both to will and to work for God’s good pleasure, not the flawed hands and hearts of fallen, sinful human beings.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Good News of Great Joy: God's Joy is With Us

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people." (Luke 2:10)

Excerpt from “The Good News of Great Joy for All People” – 2010-12-03
The “good news of great joy” is that God has come into the world in human form of Jesus to live with us so we might know the joy of His presence on earth. The Bible tells us that Jesus would be known as “Immanuel” which means: “God with us" (Matthew 1:23). God came to earth in the human form of Jesus to experience life as we know it. He worked, walked and talked; he was hungry and tired; he cried and he laughed; he loved and was loved; he was hated and forgave; he struggled, experienced pain, and died. Jesus knows our experience; he knows how we feel; he has been where we are today. He is with us through hard struggles; he travels with us on the bumpy, painful, dangerous roads. And he promises he will always be with us: “I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20).

The “good news of great joy” is that God has sent a Savior into our lives to rescue us and redeem us from our sin so we might know the joy of being restored back to God. The Bible tells us that in the beginning we were created by God in the image of God for a relationship with God. But God’s image in us became warped and our relationship with God was fractured when we sinfully choose to rebel against God and go our own way. Jesus came to pay the price and absorb the consequences of our rebellion so we might once again be restored the relationship with God we were created for. God, in being holy, must punish rebellion with eternal death - and so Jesus went to the cross and took our punishment so we might know eternal life rather than eternal death. This is “good news of great joy.”

The “good news of great joy” is that God sent Jesus to bring joy “to all people.” What “to all people” means is that the “good news of great joy” is for anyone and everyone who opens their hearts and surrenders their lives to Jesus. Jesus came to be with us and Jesus gave us his life for us – so that you and I and “all people” who give their hearts and lives to him will know the “good news of great joy.” In John 15:11 Jesus said: "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Giving Glory to God in Gain . . . and in Loss?

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

from CNN Belief Blog by Eric Marrapodi - November 29th, 2010
Wide out blames God for dropped ball

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson dropped a game-winning touchdown in the end zone Sunday in overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Anyone who has ever tossed the pigskin around in the back yard dreams of that scenario - minus the drop, of course.

Johnson did not even have to work for the ball. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's pass was text-book perfect, landing squarely in Johnson's hands. After the game, Johnson's twitter account filed this faithy tweet:


Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Powerful and Pain-filled Path of Victorious Prayer

. . . praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints . . . (Ephesians 6:18)

Excerpt from “Walking in Victory: The Power to Overcome” – 2010-11-28
History records that the early African converts to Christianity were earnest and regular in their prayer lives. Each one reportedly had a separate spot in the bush where he or she would pour out their hearts to God. Over time the paths to these prayer places became well worn. As a result, if one of these believers began to neglect their prayer life, it was soon apparent to the others, for they would kindly remind the negligent one: "Brother (or sister) there is grass growing on your path." Friends, how much grass is growing on your prayer path? Do you even have a prayer path? Do you have a path that leads to the throne of God, where you are pouring out your heart to Him? Without tapping in the heart of God through the power of prayer, you will never fully know victory over the presence of sin in your own life or over the forces of evil that abound in this world.

General Dwight Eisenhower once said: “There are no victories at discount prices.” Nothing less will than praying in the power of God that raised Jesus Christ from the dead will bring victory in the our lives over the darkness of sin and evil and death in us and around us. Jesus is our hope and our victory. Prayer is our power to overcome. That victory is ours when we pray. Though prayer may not rescue us from our circumstances, prayer will give us the power over our circumstances - because the power of the risen Christ will lift us above any and all circumstances, even death itself.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Sovereign Purposes of God in the Difficulties of Life

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

From the book “Knowing God” by J. I. Packer, pg. 97.
God in his wisdom means to make something of us which we have not attained yet, and he is dealing with us accordingly. . .

Perhaps he means to strengthen us in patience, good humor, compassion, humility, or meekness, by giving us some extra practice in exercising these graces under especially difficult conditions.

Perhaps he has new lessons in self-denial and self-distrust to teach us.

Perhaps he wishes to break us of complacency, or unreality, or undetected forms of pride and conceit.

Perhaps his purpose is simply to draw us closer to himself in conscious communion with him; for it is often the case, as all the saints know, that fellowship with the Father and the Son is most vivid and sweet, and Christian joy is greatest, when the cross is heaviest. . . .

Or perhaps God is preparing us for forms of service of which at present we have no inkling. . .

We may be frankly bewildered at things that happen to us, but God knows exactly what he is doing, and what he is after, in his handling of our affairs.

Always, and in everything, he is wise: we shall see that hereafter, even where we never saw it here. .

Meanwhile, we ought not to hesitate to trust his wisdom, even when he leaves us in the dark.

Praise the Lord for All You’ve Got

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
And his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100:1-5

The following is a web-posting written by Alex Tokarev from World Magazine 2010-11-23
Eleven years ago my wife and I moved from Bulgaria to the United States. We came for the freedom and the opportunity this country offers to those who are willing to take risks and work hard in the pursuit of their dreams. For a few years we lived as students on my scholarship at Southern Illinois University. Teaching one undergraduate course in economics per semester provided us with about $2,500 annual income per capita (less than $7 per person per day).

I could not afford textbooks so I studied in the university bookstore. I took notes in class on old fliers and printed out my homework on the back of used sheets of paper. We had no cable, no TV, no DVD player. Instead of going to the movies, we would listen to the radio at home or go to the library and watch old videotapes. We would walk or hitch a ride to Walmart or Aldi to buy a medium frozen pizza for $1.99 and make lunch and dinner for two out of it. When our soccer team, F.C. Levski, won an important game, we would celebrate with a choice from the dollar menu at Taco Bell or McDonald’s.

You probably think that we must have felt financially distressed? The truth is that I felt lucky. I knew that my parents, tenured full-time professors at a Bulgarian university, made about the same amount of money (adjusted for the cost of living). Yes, our income was less than a quarter of the average bottom-earning household quintile of Americans. Yet we always paid our credit cards in full.

We were thankful for the used clothes and furniture we received from local churches. Even more so we were thankful for the encouragement and the friendship of the people in Carbondale, Ill., who shared meals and Scriptural lessons with us. We learned from them that the first step to happiness is to praise the Lord for all you’ve got. Statistics would label most of these people “poor” relative to the average American, but their thankful hearts knew how to resist envy and how to share their blessings with others. That attitude makes them the wealthiest people we have ever met in our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

O God, In You I Take Refuge, Till the Storms of Destruction Pass By

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;

in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by

Psalm 57:1

A supercell thunderstorm rolls across the Montana prairie at sunset.
Photo by Sean Heavey from The Big Picture.

The Joyful Differences in the God-created Relationship of Marriage

Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. (Ephesians 5:24-25)

Excerpt from “Walk in Harmony: The Family of God” – 2010-11-21
When God created the world, he created Adam first. And even when the world was perfect, God looked at Adam and said: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18). What this means is that Eve had something Adam needed. Women were created by God because men lacked something that only women can provide. Eve was not a clone of Adam, but rather somebody like him – also created in God’s image - but also quite different. Adam and Eve together, in being one flesh, reflected the image of the beauty and glory and character of God.

This was the only perfect marriage that has ever existed. The differences between Adam and Eve were in perfect complement to one another: joyfully amazing, and filled with glorious love. Adam, in being created first and by lovingly sacrificing himself for Eve (his rib), became the leader of the relationship. Eve, in being created out of her husband, served the complementary role of helper. But the Bible tells us that sin distorted those roles. Their joy-filled differences suddenly became reasons for tension. We hear that when God said to Eve: "Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you" (Genesis 3:16). The word “desire” here in the Hebrew is not a good kind of desire but rather a “desire” to “rule over.” And so when sin came into Eve’s life, her desire would be to “rule over” Adam. As a result of the fall Eve would seek to reverse God’s plan and lead Adam; and Adam would stop lovingly leading and caring for his wife. Their desires become distorted, and we still live with the effects today. Rather than providing humble, loving, sacrificial leadership, a husband will be prone to becoming overbearing and harsh or emotionally distant. Rather than being a humble, loving, submissive helper to her husband, a wife will be prone to opposing her husband and asserting her leadership over him.

God’s Word tells us that we were designed to be incomplete as males and females by ourselves, but when a man and a women gets married - there is completeness that happens: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). We were designed to be different, but complementary. We are equal in rank before God and one another, but unequal in created role by God and for one another. God created men and women with irreversible and wonderful differences that are to be enjoyed together - rather than struggled with or fought for. There is a difference between us - and before sin distorted us that difference was all good. The Word of God is not presenting a case for a traditional, patriarchal view of marriage. And neither is the Bible arguing against modern forms of marriage in our contemporary world. God is telling us here: “This is how I created men and women – and their relationship together. And this is how it is supposed to be.”

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Headship and Submission: The Recovery of Eden - John Piper

Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. . . (Ephesians 5:24-25)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pray for Iraqi Christians!

"Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." (Matthew 10:21-22)

For Iraqi Christians, fear is knocking

(November 16, 2010 - CNN) -- She lives in a paralyzing state of "constant and fear" and it's forcing her to keep her children indoors and out of school.

That's how one Baghdad woman describes the dire predicament faced by her and other Iraqi Christians, a dwindling community that is enduring another string of anti-Christian sectarian assaults in Baghdad and in Mosul.

The woman, who didn't want to be identified because of fear for her life, said security hasn't been beefed up since the assaults began on October 31, when the Sayidat al-Nejat Cathedral, or Our Lady of Salvation Church, was attacked.

"We only have God," said the woman, who lost a family member in the church attack. "God is the only one watching over us."

Her words reflect the fears across the world of the ancient Iraqi Christian community, a people that numbered 1.4 million people in 2003, before the war in Iraq, and is estimated to now be only 500,000, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said.
To read the rest of the article, Click Here.

Gunmen kill two Christians in Northern Iraq

(November 16, 2010 - World Magazine) -- Still reeling from an al-Qaeda assault on a Baghdad Catholic church that killed 68 people, Iraq’s Christians received further reason to grieve after gunmen killed two Christians in Iraq’s northern city of Mosul, officials said Tuesday.

Days after the church slaughter, militants attacked houses of Christians across Baghdad, killing five people. The same al-Qaeda front group took responsibility for those assaults, saying both were in line with Islamic extremists’ resolve to strike Christians in Iraq and wherever they can be found.

In Tuesday’s attack, gunmen broke into the house of two Christian men and shot them, a police officer said, bringing the death toll among members of Iraq’s Christian community, who have fled en masse in the face of persecution after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, to 75 people this month.

The home of another Christian family in a different neighborhood of eastern Mosul was also bombed overnight. No one was killed, but the attack wounded a bystander.

Also Monday morning in Mosul, twin car bombs detonated outside a residential complex housing prison guards and staff killed a prison commander and his bodyguard.

Hundreds of terrified Christian families have fled Mosul to escape extremist attacks and sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite militias unleashed by the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Mosul is Iraq’s third largest city. Christians have lived there for some 1,800 years and a number of centuries-old churches and monasteries still stand.

The city is also a former Sunni insurgents stronghold where Iraqi Christians have been subjected to abductions and a killing campaign since 2007 when al-Qaeda militants controlled many parts of the city.

Radical Faith

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" (Matthew 16:24-26)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Walk in Love as Christ Loved Us

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)

Excerpt from “Walking in Love: Imitators of God” - 2010-11-14
Jesus imitated God’s love by carrying a cross to Calvary so that we might know the forgiveness of our sins. His “walk in love” saved our souls. We are called to that same sacrificial “walk in love.” There is nothing that you or I can to do make God love us more; there is nothing we can do to make God love us less. His love is unconditional, impartial, everlasting, infinite, and perfect. If we are truly “imitators of God” our love with be the same. . . .

Not long ago I read part of a journal from a missionary who just returned from Africa. He writes the following: “She was lying on the ground. In her arms she held a tiny baby girl. As I put a cooked sweet potato into her outstretched hand, I wondered if she would live until morning. Her strength was almost gone, but her tired eyes acknowledged my gift. The sweet potato could help so little -- but it was all I had. Taking a bite she chewed it carefully. Then, placing her mouth over her baby's mouth, she forced the chewed up soft, warm food into the tiny infant’s throat. Although the mother was starving, she used the entire potato to keep her baby alive. Exhausted from her effort, she dropped her head on the ground and closed her eyes. In a few minutes the baby was asleep. I later learned that during the night the mother's heart stopped, but her little girl lived.” Jesus said: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (John 12:24); "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it" (Luke 9:24). . . .

Love is a costly thing. God, in His love for us "did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all” (Romans 8:32). Love is costly, and “in Christ” we are called to walk in that same love. That kind of love will cost you. It will cost us as parents and as sons and as daughters and as brothers and as sisters and friends. That kind of love will cost a pastor or an evangelist or missionary their lives. Pastors and evangelists and missionaries must often give up everything they have – even life itself - to make the Jesus known. Yet, that’s the kind of “walk in love” we are all called to. Jesus loves us and gave his life for us. If we truly love him, we will do the same.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cross-Answered Prayers

Prayer Answered by Crosses
by John Newton

I asked the Lord that I might grow 

In faith and love and every grace, 

Might more of his salvation know, 

And seek more earnestly his face.

‘Twas he who taught me thus to pray; 

And he, I trust, has answered prayer; 

But it has been in such a way 

As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that, in some favoured hour, 

At once he’d answer my request, 

And by his love’s constraining power 

Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, he made me feel 

The hidden evils of my heart, 

And let the angry powers of hell 

Assault my soul in every part.

Yea, more, with his own hand he seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe, 

Crossed all the fair designs I schemed, 

Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this? I trembling cried; 

Wilt thou pursue this worm to death? 

This is the way, the Lord replied
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I now employ 

From self and pride to set thee free,
And break thy schemes of earthly joy, 

That thou may’st seek thy all in me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Google vs. The Holy Spirit

These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.
For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

(1 Corinthians 2:10)

Knowing Jesus Dramatically Changes Your Life

Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

Excerpt from
“Walking with Christ: The New Life” - 2010-11-07

The Bible teaches us the knowing Jesus happens when you have an encounter with Jesus that dramatically changes your life. Now that encounter may happen like a giant tidal wave or by the light pattering of rain over a long period of time. But nonetheless, it is a dramatic putting off the “old self” and a dramatic putting on the “new self” that is evidenced by a melting of the heart; by an acute self-awareness of sin; by a yearning for a greater understanding of God; by learning about Jesus and listening to Jesus and seeing Jesus in the context of our everyday lives; and by embracing of the truth God, an anger about sin, an honesty in relationships, a talk that matches our walk, a forgiving spirit that is rooted the grace and mercy and love we have received through Jesus Christ.

Jesus had a dramatic affect on every person he encountered in the Bible – they either angrily rejected him or they fully embraced him. Those who embraced him were looking for a new life; those who rejected him were not. A story it told of man who bought a new radio, brought it home, placed it on his refrigerator, plugged it in, and tuned it to WSM in Nashville, Tennessee - home of the Grand Ole Opry. He then pulled all the knobs off - because he had already tuned into all he ever wanted or expected to hear. The standard by which he set his musical tastes was set. I fear many who claim Jesus are settled into living their lives in the same way. . . .

Those who truly know Jesus want more of Jesus. And they don’t just talk like they want more of Jesus, they “walk” like that want more of Jesus – even in the face of mighty rivers filled with hazardous rapids, unknown waterfalls, mysterious currents, and unknown dangers around each bend. Yesterday morning I was blessed to spend time with brothers and sisters who are in process of joining our church. Our time together was filled with deep emotion and overflowing with tears as each one told of how Jesus had sovereignly entered their lives and rescued them from their “old selves” and gave them a new life. They are joining us because they want more Jesus with us.

The Sovereign Grace of God in Understanding

I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart! (Psalm 119:32)

Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. . . . As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty." (Matthew 13:10-12, 23).

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Corinthians 4:6)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Martin Luther and Sanctification

Currently I am experiencing a season of which - between ministry and family and life - I am feeling a great deal of weight and heaviness. In such times it’s always abundantly clear God has a number of sovereign plans and purposes that He is carrying out, the most personal being - for my own sanctification. I deeply grateful that God loves me enough to do so! Martin Luther once wrote:

This life therefore is not righteousness but growth in righteousness;
not health but healing;
not being but becoming;
not rest but exercise.
We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it.
The process is not finished, but it is going on.
This is not the end, but it is the road.
All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.

Friday, October 22, 2010

God Trains His Servants By Breaking Their Hearts

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. (Colossians 1:24-29)

Over our years in ministry my family and I have had our share of heartbreaks in serving Jesus; we have seen the same in almost every pastor’s family. We have always found refuge in knowing God sovereignly uses our pains and sufferings to fulfill His divine purposes and plans – for our good and for His glory. Here is a recent post by Colin Hansen written by Rev. Joshua M. Knott which clearly reflects that truth.

James (Jay) Harvey is senior pastor of Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Newark, Delaware, and it’s an honor to serve under and alongside him. Recently, he’s been showing our church—as much by his example as by his words—how to suffer well. I was brand new to Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi, when our student body prayed for him in chapel. Their second child, their son Jacob, was born with cystic fibrosis. Years later when I came on staff to serve with him, I asked him about they dealt with what the Lord had given them in Jacob, and he responded in the words of his mentor and pastor Ligon Duncan: “Sometimes God trains his servants by breaking their hearts.” As those who have children with special needs can imagine, their life has a rigorous routine pock-marked with weeks at the hospital when the disease temporarily worsens. I know of no other man who has had to look his 6-year-old in the eye and talk to him about the very real possibility of dying and the need to have faith in Christ, grow in grace, and persevere in what the Lord has given him.

Nevertheless, two years ago, the Lord saw fit to bring another trial of incredible magnitude into Jay’s life. His wife, Melody (in her mid-30s, as Jay is), was diagnosed with RSD, a disease in which her nervous system overreacts to external stimulation. This meant that, as her condition worsened, the slightest handshake, hug from her (now four) children, or even a strong breeze would leave her body racked with pain for days. To save her life meant a costly, week-long, medically induced coma in Monterrey, Mexico. Countless brothers and sisters in Christ from all over the world helped raise the $75,000 needed for the procedure, which took place this past August. Her recovery was going well, but she recently incurred a new injury that will require her to receive another treatment and may mean another coma in Mexico.

And here is what we have seen as a congregation: Christ formed in our pastor and his family. Christ’s sovereignty exalted in Jay’s preaching and teaching, which did not suffer the least no matter how great his personal pain and suffering. Christ sustaining his broken-hearted servants in his word, by his Spirit. We’ve seen a pastor and his family whose hope is rooted firmly in glory and not in this world. I have no doubt there are dark “how long O Lord” moments, days, and seasons. I have no doubt that they have prayed fervently for relief and for restored joy in the midst of debilitating pain. I also have no doubt—none of us does—that they are leaning on the everlasting arms of their heavenly Father, entrusting themselves to his goodness and care.

God trains his servants by breaking their hearts. I praise God to serve under a dear brother who is leading his family and his church family to the cross in the midst of his heart-brokenness, leading a suffering people to the One who has suffered in their place, for their sins, that we might put our hope in him alone.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

In Prayer

O Lord, in prayer I launch far out into the eternal world,
and on that broad ocean my soul triumphs over all evils
on the shores of mortality.
Time, with its gay amusements and cruel disappointments
never appears so inconsiderate as then.

In prayer I see myself as nothing;
I find my heart going after Thee with intensity,
and long with vehement thirst to live to Thee.
Blessed be the strong gales of the Spirit
that speed me on my way to the New Jerusalem.

In prayer all things here below vanish,
and nothing seems important
but holiness of heart and the salvation of others.

In prayer all my worldly cares, fears, anxieties disappear,
and are of as little significance as a puff of wind.

In prayer my soul inwardly exults with lively thoughts
at what Thou art doing for Thy church,
and I long that Thou shouldest get Thyself
a great name from sinners returning to Zion.

In prayer I am lifted above the frowns and flatteries of life,
and taste heavenly joys;
entering into the eternal world I can give myself to Thee
with all my heart, to be Thine for ever.

In prayer I can place all my concerns in Thy hands,
to be entirely at Thy disposal,
having no will or interest of my own.

In prayer I can intercede for my friends, ministers, sinners, the church,
Thy kingdom to come, with greatest freedom, ardent hopes,
as a son to his father, as a lover to the beloved.

Help me to be all prayer and never to cease praying.

From "The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotion" edited by Arthur Bennett

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

They fought, and God won . . ."

Rescued miner saw God, devil during captivity
By Mariano Castillo, CNN October 13, 2010

(CNN) -- Having spent 69 days trapped inside the San Jose mine in Chile before being rescued, Mario Sepulveda says he is a changed man. "I buried 40 years of my life down there, and I'm going to live a lot longer to be a new person," he said in a video conference, hours after surfacing from half a mile underground.

Sepulveda, the second miner extracted from the mine, has advice for those who take undue risks in their lives.

"I think I have learned a lot of wonderful lessons about taking the good path in life," he said. "For those of you able to call your wives, or your husbands, do so."

During the time he was trapped inside the mine, Sepulveda said he saw both good and evil. "I was with God, and I was with the devil. They fought, and God won," he said. Sepulveda said he grabbed God's hand and never doubted that he would be rescued.

The read the who article - click here.

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Broken-Bone Theology - Paul Tripp

Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. (Psalm 51:8)

Yesterday Desiring God posted an article by Paul Tripp addressing the reality that God often allows and causes pain to come into our lives. Below is an excerpt from that posting - to read the whole article, click here.

Now, you have to ask, “Why would a God of love ever bring pain into the lives of the people he says he loves?” The difficult things that you experience as God’s child that may seem like the result of God’s unfaithfulness and inattention or anger are actually acts of redemptive love. You see, in bringing these things into our lives God is actually fulfilling his covenantal commitment to satisfy the deepest needs of his people. And what is it that we need the most? The answer is simple and clear throughout all of Scripture: more than anything else we need him.

Yet this is exactly where the rub comes in. Although our greatest personal need is to live in a life-shaping relationship with the Lord, as sinners we have hearts that have a propensity to wander. We very quickly forget God and begin to put ourselves or some aspect of the creation in his place. We soon forget that he’s to be the center of everything we think, desire, say and do. We easily lose sight of the fact that our hearts were designed for him and that the deep sense of well-being which all of us seek can only be found in him.

We very rapidly forget or ignore the powerfully addicting dangers of sin and think we can step over God’s boundaries without personal and moral cost. We think we are stronger than we really are and wiser than we actually prove to be. We assess that we have character, discipline and strength that we don’t really have. So God, in the beauty of his redeeming love, will “break our bones.” He will bring us through difficulty, suffering, want, sadness, loss and grief in order to ensure that we are living in pursuit of the one thing that each of us desperately needs—him.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Arrowsmith Baptist Church Men's Retreat - 2010

Rev. Barney Coombs and the men of Arrowsmith Baptist Church on the Canadian Princess in Ucluelet, British Columbia - September 24-26, 2010

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Christianity and Barak Obama

President Obama was asked by a woman today in Albuquerque: “Why are you a Christian?” He answered: "I am a Christian by choice," and then tried to explain what that meant. To reach his full response, click here.

In 2004 President Obama gave an interview to Chicago Sun Times columnist Cathleen Falsani regarding his faith in Jesus when he was running for U.S. Senate in Illinois. Below are a few excerpts from that interview - the biblical responses are mine. To read the entire interview, click here.

What do you believe?

I am a Christian. So, I have a deep faith. So I draw from the Christian faith. . . .So, I'm rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people. . . .

Did you actually go up for an altar call?

Yes. Absolutely. . . .

So you got yourself born again?

Yeah, although I don't, I retain from my childhood and my experiences growing up a suspicion of dogma. And I'm not somebody who is always comfortable with language that implies I've got a monopoly on the truth, or that my faith is automatically transferable to others. I'm a big believer in tolerance. I think that religion at it's best comes with a big dose of doubt. I'm suspicious of too much certainty in the pursuit of understanding just because I think people are limited in their understanding. . . .

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

Do you pray often?

Uh, yeah, I guess I do. Its' not formal, me getting on my knees. I think I have an ongoing conversation with God. I think throughout the day, I'm constantly asking myself questions about what I'm doing, why am I doing it.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. (Psalm 34:4-6)

Who's Jesus to you?

(He laughs nervously) Right. Jesus is an historical figure for me, and he's also a bridge between God and man, in the Christian faith, and one that I think is powerful precisely because he serves as that means of us reaching something higher. And he's also a wonderful teacher. I think it's important for all of us, of whatever faith, to have teachers in the flesh and also teachers in history.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26)

. . . I think that the difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and proselytize. There's the belief, certainly in some quarters, that people haven't embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior that they're going to hell.

You don't believe that?

I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell. I can't imagine that my God would allow some little Hindu kid in India who never interacts with the Christian faith to somehow burn for all eternity. That's just not part of my religious makeup. . . .

"But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire." (Matthew 5:22)

Do you believe in heaven?

Do I believe in the harps and clouds and wings?

A place spiritually you go to after you die?

What I believe in is that if I live my life as well as I can, that I will be rewarded. I don't presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die. But I feel very strongly that whether the reward is in the here and now or in the hereafter, the aligning myself to my faith and my values is a good thing. . . .

“O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart." (1 Kings 8:23)

Do you believe in sin?


What is sin?

Being out of alignment with my values.

What happens if you have sin in your life?

I think it's the same thing as the question about heaven. In the same way that if I'm true to myself and my faith that that is its own reward, when I'm not true to it, it's its own punishment.

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. (Isaiah 59:1-2)

What are you doing when you feel the most centered, the most aligned spiritually?

I think I already described it. It's when I'm being true to myself. . . .

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8)

Monday, September 27, 2010

And God said, “Let there be light” . . .

A solar flare erupts from the Sun on September 8, 2010. (Photo by NASA from The Big Picture)

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:3)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Creator and Barak Obama

Does President Obama Think Our Rights Come from Our Creator?
by Jeffrey H. Anderson,
The Weekly Standard September 19, 2010

The most famous words in the Declaration of Independence — and almost surely the most famous words ever written by an American — read, “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

On Friday evening, when President Obama addressed the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, he quoted that passage as follows (on the clip at 0:52): “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal [pause], endowed with certain unalienable rights: life and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

In Obama’s version, there is no “Creator.”

Only two plausible explanations spring to mind. One is that President Obama isn’t very familiar with the most famous passage in the document that founded this nation; that even when plainly reading from a teleprompter, he wasn’t able to quote it correctly. The other is that President Obama doesn’t subscribe to the Declaration’s rather central claim that our rights come from our “Creator” (also referred to in the Declaration as “Nature’s God” and “the Supreme Judge of the World”).

Only the president likely knows for certain which of these two explanations is true, or whether perhaps there is another. His nearly 4-second pause before he omits reference to our Creator, however, is peculiar. He stares at the teleprompter, purses his lips, blinks several times — as if confused, disturbed, and/or in the process of making a decision — and then proceeds to use his alternate wording.

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. (Isaiah 40:28)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Your Adversary the Devil Prowls Around . . .

Be sober-minded;
be watchful.
Your adversary the devil
prowls around
like a roaring lion,
seeking someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8

pic from The Big Picture

Sunday, September 19, 2010

God didn't create universe - Stephen Hawking

LONDON, England (CNN) - September 2, 2010

God did not create the universe, world-famous physicist Stephen Hawking argues in a new book that aims to banish a divine creator from physics.

Hawking says in his book "The Grand Design" that, given the existence of gravity, "the universe can and will create itself from nothing," according to an excerpt published Thursday in The Times of London.

"Spontaneous creation is the reason why there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist," he writes in the excerpt.

"It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper [fuse] and set the universe going," he writes.

To read the rest of the article click here.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. Genesis 1:1-5

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds,
there is none who does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.
They have all turned aside;
together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good, not even one.

Psalm 14:1-3

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Roger Clemens: Immature Faith Choked by the Weeds of the World?

Retired baseball star Roger Clemens says he's looking forward to fighting perjury and other charges brought against him Thursday and again denied he ever used performance-enhancing drugs. A federal grand jury in Washington has charged the seven-time Cy Young winner with perjury, obstruction of Congress and making false statements over his insistence to a House committee that he never used steroids or human growth hormone. (CNN, August 20, 2010)

"I know that once you commit yourself really to Christ, you never drift away. I know that's the basis for why I'm here, why I'm able to succeed. I know there's a better life for me regardless of what I do here. I know that my father's always watching over me . . . but there's so much media and off-the-field stuff. . . ." (Roger Clemens, in an interview with Marvin Olasky in 1994)

"Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God . . . as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature." (Jesus, speaking to the crowd in Luke 8:11, 14)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Case Against Summer Vacation

A recent edition of Time Magazine (July 22, 2010) featured an article entitled “The Case Against Summer Vacation” which highlighted studies revealing how much learning loss occurs in students over summer vacation. Here is an excerpt:
The problem of summer vacation, first documented in 1906, compounds year after year. What starts as a hiccup in a 6-year-old's education can be a crisis by the time that child reaches high school. After collecting a century's worth of academic studies, summer-learning expert Harris Cooper, now at Duke University, concluded that, on average, all students lose about a month of progress in math skills each summer, while low-income students slip as many as three months in reading comprehension, compared with middle-income students.
As we are nearing the end of the summer, I must confess to often observing this same effect spiritually on those who take a vacation from attending church. More often than not those who step away from the essential relational “one another” aspect of our faith in Jesus Christ not only stop growing spiritually but also begin to lose the depth they had gained throughout the year.

Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Saved by God's Grace - for Today and Eternity

Paul Tripp recently posted his thoughts on the reality that while many who claim Christ do believe in new life after death, they still desperately need to understand that in Christ they also have a new life right here, right now before death. He suggests four things that those who struggle with this need to understand about God's grace.

1. Grace will decimate what you think of you, while it gives you a security of identity you’ve never had.
2. Grace will expose your deepest sins of heart, while it covers every failure with the blood of Jesus.
3. Grace will make you face how weak you are, while it blesses you with power beyond you ability to calculate.
4. Grace will take control out of your hands, while it blesses you with the care of One who plan is unshakable and perfect in every way.

To read the whole post, click here.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5)