Monday, January 28, 2013

The Cost of Bearing Fruit

John 15:18-16:4             January 27, 2013                Link for audio/video/document

When we are truly following Jesus we will be just like Jesus. When we bear the joyful fruit of sacrificial love of Jesus, we will be hated and persecuted just like Jesus was hated and persecuted. Our witness in times of opposition should always be to respond by proclaiming the truth of the love of God through Jesus Christ.The cost of bearing the joyful fruit of the sacrificial love of Jesus is worth the price!

Friday, January 25, 2013

It's Not Too Late

From “From this day forward” by Andree Seu Peterson, World Magazine, December 29, 2012
. . . The devil comes to kill, steal, and destroy, and the worst thing he steals is hope. Rightly is he called Deceiver and Accuser, for all his hats reduce to two: First he is sympathetic ally in our defections, and then we find him standing in court with black suit and briefcase as prosecutor (Zechariah 3): “If you had only not given up back in 1980,” he says, “you might have had a chance after all. But this time you really really blew it.” . . .

The older you get, of course, and the more trips around the turnstile of entrenched sin, the more the devil seems to have a case when he whispers in your ear “it’s too late now.” Which means that if you have come to your senses later in life like me, then at the very time when you are finally determined to put away “it’s too late now” in exchange for “All things are possible with Christ,” you are looking at a towering stack of failure.

Nevertheless, the prescription is the same as when you were 20, 30, and 50: Hope in the Lord. Sanity is grasping the math that if it is by sinning that one plunges into misery, then it is not by more sinning that one makes things better. Only one time in your life is it really true that “it’s too late now,” and that is a minute after you are dead. . . .
To read the entire article, Click Here.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Abiding Fruit of the Word of Jesus

John 15:1-17         January 20, 2013              Link for audio/video/document

God chose us and appointed us for the purpose of bearing the fruit of loving one another. He does not choose and appoint without enabling us; we can love others as Jesus loves us, when we abide in him and when his words abide in us. God the “vinedresser” takes away, lifts up, prunes, and cleans, as Jesus the “true vine” pours his life giving blood of love into the “branches” of our hearts – and then we bear fruit! The abiding fruit of the word of Jesus is the sacrificial love of Jesus bearing fruit in our lives and in the lives of others!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

An Almost Chosen Nation

When Barack Obama is publicly sworn in for the second time as president on Monday, he will use two Bibles. One belonged to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the other to Abraham Lincoln —two of the most religious figures in American political history. Both men saw clearly the moral contradictions that tore at the fabric of American democratic life. Yet both also believed deeply in the exceptional character of the United States and the spiritual significance of its democratic mission.
In a speech to the New Jersey legislature on his inaugural journey to Washington, February 21, 1861, Lincoln reflected on Trenton’s heroic role in America’s fight for independence:
“I recollect thinking then, boy even though I was, that there must have been something more than common that those men struggled for; that something even more than National Independence; that something that held out a great promise to all the people of the world to all time to come.”
Lincoln never doubted the universal appeal of the nation’s experiment in self-government, a “promise to all people of the world” that would endure across the centuries. Unlike modern liberals, Lincoln was no cultural relativist: He believed firmly in natural and inalienable rights that belonged to all people, from every corner of the globe, by virtue of their common humanity. Despite the cancer of slavery and racism that had infected the body politic, no nation was more devoted to securing those rights than the United States. Indeed, Lincoln insisted that America had a God-given role in advancing this cause in the world:

“I am exceedingly anxious that this Union, the Constitution, and the liberties of the people shall be perpetuated in accordance with the original idea for which that struggle was made, and I shall be most happy indeed if I shall be an humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and of this, his almost chosen people, for perpetuating the object of that great struggle.”

Lincoln’s description of America as an “almost chosen people” captured brilliantly the qualified and uncertain character of the nation’s democracy: deeply and grievously flawed, but nonetheless caught up in the righteous purposes of God. Unlike many of his religious contemporaries, Lincoln stopped short of identifying America as the new Israel; no spiritual covenant between God and the United States could be presumed. Lincoln well knew the capacity of religious zeal to poison our politics. Nevertheless, he insisted that America’s commitment to liberty and equality was consistent with the character and intentions of the Almighty.

Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist minister, shared Lincoln’s political theology. In a way that many liberal and secular-minded Americans would now find offensive, King wielded passages and principles from the Bible like an ax to assault the racist assumptions that degraded the lives of millions of African-Americans. Like Lincoln, he appealed to America’s spiritual legacy in order to renew its democratic mission.
In “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” King complained that African-Americans had been denied “our constitutional and God-given rights.” He declared that “the goal of America is freedom,” a mandate from heaven itself. Indeed, King saw the hand of God in the political fight to call America back to its founding ideals: “If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail,” he wrote. “We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands.”
Modern liberalism scorns the very idea of “the sacred heritage of our nation.” It rejects the view of America as “an almost chosen people,” an exceptional nation devoted to political and religious ideals anchored in a transcendent cause. In this sense, Mr. Obama’s party, the party of liberalism, would not know what to do with a Lincoln or a King.

It is heartening, and symbolically important, that Mr. Obama will be using the Bibles of these two great leaders as he takes the oath of office. It would be more significant, though, if the president found room for their moral vision of the United States in his administration and in his party.

Joseph Loconte, Ph.D., is an associate professor of history at the King’s College in New York City and the author of “The Searchers: A Quest for Faith in the Valley of Doubt.”

King of Heaven - Paul Baloche

                                   Praise and extol and honor the King of heaven,
                                   for all his works are right and his ways are just
                                  and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
                                                              Daniel 4:37

The Eternal Lightning Fields

 In Venezuela, just above the mouth of the Catatumbo River, a lightning storm has been raging for at least two centuries. For 160 nights out of the year, the Catatumbo Lightning strikes for 10 straighthours, at a rate of nearly 300 strikes per hour.
When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens,
and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth.
He makes lightning for the rain,
and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses.
Jeremiah 10:13 

The Powerful Presence of the Holy Spirit

John 14:15-31               January 13, 2013           Link for audio/video/document

God’s gift of obedience is grounded in God’s gift of love. When we respond to God’s love with joyful obedience, we are then empowered to do greater things than Jesus did on earth - through the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, January 11, 2013

God is Our Refuge and Strength

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Psalm 46:1

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Intolerance of Tolerance

Excerpt from “The Giglio Imbroglio — The Public Inauguration of a New Moral McCarthyism” by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., posted on - Thursday, January 10, 2013. To read the entire posting, click here.
A new chapter in America’s moral revolution came today as Atlanta pastor Louie Giglio withdrew from giving the benediction at President Obama’s second inaugural ceremony. In a statement released to the White House and the Presidential Inaugural Committee, Giglio said that he withdrew because of the furor that emerged yesterday after a liberal watchdog group revealed that almost twenty years ago he had preached a sermon in which he had stated that homosexuality is a sin and that the “only way out of a homosexual lifestyle … is through the healing power of Jesus.”

In other words, a Christian pastor has been effectively disinvited from delivering an inaugural prayer because he believes and teaches Christian truth. . . .  

The Presidential Inaugural Committee and the White House have now declared historic, biblical Christianity to be out of bounds, casting it off the inaugural program as an embarrassment. By its newly articulated standard, any preacher who holds to the faith of the church for the last 2,000 years is persona non grata. By this standard, no Roman Catholic prelate or priest can participate in the ceremony. No Evangelical who holds to biblical orthodoxy is welcome. The vast majority of Christians around the world have been disinvited. Mormons, and the rabbis of Orthodox Judaism are out. Any Muslim imam who could walk freely in Cairo would be denied a place on the inaugural program. Billy Graham, who participated in at least ten presidential inaugurations is welcome no more. Rick Warren, who incited a similar controversy when he prayed at President Obama’s first inauguration, is way out of bounds. In the span of just four years, the rules are fully changed.

The gauntlet was thrown down yesterday, and the axe fell today. Wayne Besen, founder of the activist group Truth Wins Out, told The New York Times yesterday: “It is imperative that Giglio clarify his remarks and explain whether he has evolved on gay rights, like so many other faith and political leaders. It would be a shame to select a preacher with backward views on LBGT people at a moment when the nation is rapidly moving forward on our issues.”

And there you have it — anyone who has ever believed that homosexuality is morally problematic in any way must now offer public repentance and evidence of having “evolved” on the question. This is the language that President Obama used of his own “evolving” position on same-sex marriage. This is what is now openly demanded of Christians today. If you want to avoid being thrown off the program, you had better learn to evolve fast, and repent in public.

This is precisely what biblical Christians cannot do. While seeking to be gentle in spirit and ruthlessly Gospel-centered in speaking of any sin, we cannot cease to speak of sin as sin. To do so is not only to deny the authority of Scripture, not only to reject the moral consensus of the saints, but it undermines the Gospel itself. The Gospel makes no sense, and is robbed of its saving power, if sin is denied as sin.

An imbroglio is a painful and embarrassing conflict. The imbroglio surrounding Louie Giglio is not only painful, it is revealing. We now see the new Moral McCarthyism in its undisguised and unvarnished reality. If you are a Christian, get ready for the question you will now undoubtedly face:“Do you now or have you ever believed that homosexuality is a sin?” There is nowhere to hide.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Power of Believing in Jesus

John 14:1-14            January 6, 2013            Link for audio/video/document

When we trust in Jesus, when we believe in Jesus, he promises he himself will take us to the place in His Father’s house that he has prepared for us, because he is the way and the truth and the life of this life - of new life with Jesus today and an eternal life with him in the glory of heaven. The power of believing in Jesus is the power to live so deeply and passionately and joyfully with Jesus that the troubles of this world, whether they be earthquakes on Vancouver Island or earthquakes in our hearts, will have no effect on our souls.