Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Test of Character - Josh Ferrin

                   “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21

Josh Ferrin's hands trembled as he fumbled for the phone. He started pacing the floor. He was so giddy from joy that when his wife answered, he choked on his first words. "Tara," he blurted, "you're never going to believe this . . ." Ferrin had just discovered $45,000 stashed in his new home. There's a biblical parable about a man who found treasure hidden in a field. Ferrin found his in a dusty attic. For years, the author and illustrator had wondered what would happen if he struck it big. Would sudden wealth change him? Three years ago, Ferrin got his answer.
His story began one Wednesday in May, when Ferrin was miserable. He was suffering from pneumonia and had been forced to take time off from his job as an artist at the Deseret News in Salt Lake City. But things were looking up. He and his wife had just closed on their first house, and Ferrin decided to take a private tour after getting the keys.
Ferrin moseyed back to the garage, where he noticed something odd: a scrap of carpet dangling from an opening in the ceiling. Grabbing a ladder, Ferrin tugged on the carpet and pulled back a celling panel leading to an attic. When he climbed into the attic, Ferrin saw eight World War II-era ammunition boxes. He delicately pried one open, dreading seeing a grenade. Instead what he saw blew his mind: wads of bills held together by orange fishing twine. He started counting -- and kept counting until he eventually realized he had stumbled onto $45,000. He called his wife, already envisioning how they could use the cash: remodel their new house, repair their car, maybe even adopt. But her first response chilled those plans. She told him to call the family who previously owned the house. "I immediately knew she was right," Ferrin said. "As much as I wanted to keep it, I couldn't keep it. That just wouldn't be right."
The previous owner was Arnold Bangerter, a biologist with the Utah fish and wildlife department and a father of six. His wife had died in 2005, and after Bangerter died in 2010 his children sold the house to the Ferrins. It turned out Bangerter had been squirreling away money for years; some of the bills dated back to the 1970s. Ferrin contacted Bangerter's children and gave them all the money. Before he did, though, he had a little fun. He photographed his two boys, Lincoln, 10, and Oliver, 7, throwing piles of cash up in the air while he yelled it was raining money.
Not everyone thought it was a laughing matter to give back so much cash. Some people told Ferrin he should have kept the money, that he had a legal right to it because he found it in his home. For Ferrin, something could be legal, but that didn't make it ethical. How could he keep money intended for someone else? "We always wonder to ourselves, if I struck it big would it change me?" he said. "Would I be a different person? It was hard to hand over ($45,000), but it was the right thing to do." What sealed Farrin's decision, though, wasn't ethics; it was fatherhood. Ferrin thought about the devotion Bangerter had for his children, and he saw a kindred spirit. "I imagined this guy, for years and years, collecting money and putting it away. I understand that need to think for the future and take care of loved ones. I can understand him as a dad."
Ferrin said he, too, is trying to leave something for his children as they grow up. "There's a big world out there and I try to teach them to be good young men," he said. "Sometimes I come short of that. They'll forget about all the lectures I gave them. But I think they will remember this one." Ferrin left the Deseret News but is still an artist. He draws political caricatures and whimsical children's illustrations and has written a book, "Blitz Kids," about his grandfather's role with the University of Utah's improbable basketball championship team in 1944. Ferrin's art and his book, however, are not just a means to earn a living. "It's my attempt to establish a legacy that will last beyond me," Ferrin said. Now Ferrin's deed is part of that legacy.
News of his selfless act spread across the globe. His story is preserved online. He has received letters from around the world. One guy in Australia said he would be honored to buy him a beer. Another person sent him a pocket knife with the engraving, "Honesty has its own rewards." Ferrin had to stop granting interviews after a while because it became too much. He says today that what he gained from giving away his treasure is more than what he found. "It was one of those moments that test your character," Ferrin said. "We are the sum total of our decisions. I didn't want to be the guy who found something and kept something secretly. I don't regret it at all. It made me a better person."
John Blake, CNN, 2013-12-28

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Call to be Witnesses for Jesus

Acts 1:1-11          December 29, 2013          Link for audio/video/document

To be a “witness” for Jesus Christ means to be someone who gives a firsthand account by sacrificially following Jesus because they have seen, heard, and experienced the life-changing, heart-transforming, soul-restoring power of the risen Christ. We are called to the kingdom battle when we hear Jesus call his followers to be his witnesses. Witnesses for Jesus are able to fight for the kingdom because they have been empowered through the Holy Spirit by their belief that Jesus rose from the dead, Jesus rules and reigns as King, and Jesus will someday return. When we truly seek to be “witnesses” for Jesus - our lives, our families, our friends, our enemies, our churches, and the world around us will be dramatically transformed!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Promised King

Isaiah 9:1-7                    December 22, 2013               Link for audio/video/document

Whatever your circumstance or situation or struggle might be today, know that Jesus is sovereignly in control. The birth of Jesus Christ as a baby, the incarnation of God into man, is also the coming of the glorious, all-powerful, victorious King who died on a cross, rose from the dead and rules and reigns over His kingdom forever and ever. As we celebrate this Christmas, may we see the Jesus of the manger sitting on His throne in heaven - and may we embrace Jesus as our King and allow him to rule and reign in our hearts!

Monday, December 23, 2013

"I Fear the Disapproval of God More Than I Fear Your Disapproval"

"I fear the disapproval of God more than I fear your disapproval or the disapproval of society."
Pastor Rick Warren during an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan, on his opposition to same-sex marriage.

Who is the man who fears the LORD? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land. Psalm 25:12-13

The steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him. Psalm 103:17

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Greater Love of Jesus - Ronnie & Anita Smith

“I love them and I do forgive them - I pray with all my heart that the attackers, that maybe this incident will call them to know the love and forgiveness that’s found in Jesus.” Anita Smith, wife of Ronnie Smith, 33 – the American Christian who was teaching at the International School in Benghazi, Libya, who was fatally shot and killed on December 5 four unidentified assailants in a black Jeep.

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:13

CNN, Fri December 20, 2013
To read the entire posting - Click Here

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Jacob Chen - An Adoption Story

In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:4-6

The Promised Priest

Psalm 110:1-7                December 15, 2013           Link for audio/video/document

The power of the gospel is the power of God for a salvation that rescues us from the wrath of God – so we might then know forgiveness from our sin and our guilt - and rescue from evil and death, so we might be restored to God and know life after death in the eternal joy of the glorious presence of God. Jesus is the Word who became flesh, our promised priest, who sacrificially rescued us from the wrath of God. Sin is our tragedy, Jesus is God’s answer. In this season we celebrate God’s answer. Jesus is our Savior because Jesus is our priest!

God Uses Secret Santa to Change an Atheist

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sunday, December 1, 2013

How to Clear the Clutter in Your Life - Jonathan Parnell

Sometimes our dining room table gets cluttered.
For one, it’s a big table. Every time I have to squeeze around the end chair, sliding my back against the wall, I remind myself that it’s not for the table we live in our house. It actually takes up so much space in our dining room that it’s become the easiest place to set stuff. Toys. Mail. Homework. Cups. More cups. The generous tabletop makes it simpler to just move things around rather than move them away, and after a while, it accumulates a swath of unrelated, inordinate objects into one centralized location, which is called clutter.
Which can be a lot like life.
We are constantly piling on one thing after another onto the tabletop of our lives. There are always more things we should be concerned about, and give attention to, and make room for — somehow. Before long, it’s a life full of clutter. It’s a whirlwind of good intentions, but bad directions — maybe a load of participation, but a litter of purpose. And it stays this way until God’s arm intervenes, mighty to sweep, and clears the table.
Which he does for us in 2 Corinthians 5:9.

The Reality Tension

In the course of defending his apostleship and the gospel he preaches, Paul assures the Corinthians that he is full of hope, that he doesn’t lose heart, that he is always of good courage (2 Corinthians 3:124:1165:68). Why? Because the message he proclaims guarantees this courage. It possesses a surpassing glory beyond the veiled-faced ministry of Moses (2 Corinthians 3:11–13), and it reveals a surpassing power beyond anything for which we’re capable (2 Corinthians 4:7). And on top of all this, Paul knows that one day he is going to be raised from the dead (2 Corinthians 4:14). Everything of this world that surrounds him — the seen reality — is transient. Soon enough it’ll be gone. But simultaneous to this seen reality, there is the unseen, the eternal. This is the reality that will never end (2 Corinthians 4:18).
Paul stays on these realities into chapter five. There’s the tent of our earthly home, our bodies here; and there’s the eternality of our heavenly dwelling, our bodies there (2 Corinthians 5:1). We groan here (in our earthy bodies) to be there (in our glorious bodies). This is the wonderful tension the Spirit creates in us now, like in Romans 8:23. And it’s more reason for Paul to have courage. There’s more to this life, and in fact, it’s even better. “Away from the body and at home with the Lord” means a deeper experience of Jesus’s presence. Life here is a life of faith in hope of that day (2 Corinthians 5:6–8Philippians 1:21Romans 8:24–25).
See, the clutter of our lives makes us lose sight of this — that right now there is a deeper, more wonderful reality awaiting us. We know we should be more heavenly minded. We really do want to stop and smell the roses. We want to experience every “possible theophany” out there. But we’re so here, so now, so busy. There is a tension.

At the End of the Day

Paul seems to understand, or he might as well, because this is where God, through his apostle’s words, clears the table for us. 2 Corinthians 5:9:
So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
Paul is saying: Look, whether we’re there with Jesus, or whether we’re here living by faith, the overarching, clear-the-table goal is that we please him.
It’s really that simple. At the end of the day, what matters is whether we have pleased Jesus. When it’s all said and done, we’re going to stand before him (2 Corinthians 5:10). Not our family, not our neighbors, not our boss, not our kids, not our colleagues. We will stand before Jesus. We will see him face to face. And in that moment, the only thing that matters is what he thinks.

For His Good Pleasure

God has stepped in now. He has raked away the rubble. He has opened our eyes.
Our aim in life is to please Jesus. That is the ambition of our every day, our every decision.Does Jesus take delight in this? Which, to be sure, has no determining function in our righteous status as God’s children. By faith alone, in Christ alone, because of grace alone, we are brought into Christ, justified in him, saved from God’s wrath, made his children forever (Ephesians 2:5–8Romans 3:23–24John 1:12–13Romans 5:9). Don’t mistake “please” to mean placate, or appease, or propitiate. That work has been taken care of. We’re talking about joy, about delight — about pleasure, which Wayne Grudem calls an “essential component of any genuine personal relationship” (For the Fame of God’s Name, 279).
Will it make him glad? Will it cheer his heart? Is it for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13)? That is the question before us, and the enduring mission in and under and beyond every detail of our lives. We make it our aim to please him.
The table is cleared, just like that.
© 2013 Desiring God

The Promise of a Messiah

Genesis 3:1-19                  December 1, 2013                 Link for audio/video/document

In the beginning, everything God created was good. But then sin entered the world and God’s judgment began. But in the face of our open rebellion against God and His authority over our lives, God graciously and omnipotently put a plan into place to save us from our sin and restore us back into our God-created relationship with Him. At the very moment sin entered the world, God promised to send a Messiah to deliver us from the endless conflict within our souls. Jesus is our promised Messiah!