How Firm a Foundation Story and Free Download – Tim Challies tells the story behind the hymn “How Firm a Foundation” and offers readers a free download.

What To Do When You Can’t See Straight – “If you want to rejoice in the Lord always and not be anxious about anything then you need to see that the Lord is at hand. There is no better place to be reminded of how the Lord is at hand than through his word the Bible.”

Perfected – Upon seeing your sick mom’s weakened condition, the author observed that it “it did make me think about our relationship with Christ and our current condition as we wait for him to arrive. Like Mom, we are weak, unstable and riddled with pain. But as soon as Christ comes, we will be perfect.”

Consider Yourself – “So then, how do we contend for the one, true faith while striving for peace and unity in the church? At first glance, some might think these two commands are mutually exclusive. However, God’s call to contend for purity and God’s call to strive for peace and unity are fundamentally intertwined.” (H/T)

The New Testament’s Favorite Old Testament Stories – I found this really interesting. It’s a compilation of which Old Testament stories are most often referenced in the New Testament.  The author states, “”The last time I read through the New Testament, I decided it might be fruitful and interesting to keep track of all of the occurrences where the author made reference to narratives in the Old Testament. ” Here are the results of that research.” (H/T)

 

Free eBook: The Soul Winner or How to Lead Sinners to the Saviour by Charles Spurgeon (H/T)

Kindle Deal: The Case for Easter – I haven’t read this book but it seems apropos for the coming celebration of our Savior’s resurrection.  (H/T)

Note To Self: Don’t Forget This – “But according to God’s word, I do have things in common with women all over the world. One big thing we have in common is that we need to be reminded to remember. For our good, God communicates this theme throughout the entirety of the Bible.”

The Gospel: Accept No Substitutes – “It is possible to transmit the gospel in a way that never really gets to the root of the problem. Sometimes we share Jesus in such a way that we simply invite people to receive more of what they already want.”

The Anti-Beatitudes, As Taught By Satan – What if Satan were to prepare his own list of acts and attitudes he would commend? This post takes a shot at what it would look like.

Jesus Is Turning Your Shame into a Showcase of His Grace – “Faith is what pleases God (Hebrews 11:6) and faith is what releases the grace of God in your life (Ephesians 2:8; Luke 8:48). Do you want deliverance from your shame? Come to Jesus believing. Come desperately determined to touch him. And if faith is weak, cry out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) and “increase [my] faith!” (Luke 17:5).”

St. Patrick’s Day – A reminder of the history behind St. Patrick’s Day from the History Channel.

 

 

 

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Goodbye, Faith in Humanity – Writing about a recent report on Nazi concentration camp and human beings’ propensity for sin, the author states, “In one of the most enlightened, intellectually accomplished, progressive societies in the world, you had widespread cultural corruption on a level that staggers the mind. Either by direct involvement or culpable acquiescence, they all knew.”

Missouri Church Receives Bill for $666; Offers to Pay More – This just made me smile.

The Blogs, The Battles and the Gospels – This is a really helpful post from Tim Challies about engaging in online debates. Of course, most of this could be summed up in my mom’s old adage that “if it’s not nice nor necessary, don’t say [or write] it.”

The Scandal of the Cross – “On the way to the cross two thousand years ago, Jesus took the ultimate indignity and the ultimate pain to bring us back to the dignity of a relationship with God and the healing of our souls. Will you remember that this was done for you and receive his gift?”

Kindle Deal: Give Me This Mountain – I’m a big fan of this book by Dr. Helen Roseveare who was a medical missionary in the Congo and survived a brutal attack and returned to continue the ministry God had given her. The Kindle edition is currently priced at only $2.99. [H/T]

 

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When It’s My Kid

March 14, 2013 — 6 Comments

Moms have an instinctive desire to protect. It’s why we’re usually the first resort to kiss boo-boos and to hug away tears. The nervous mom you see pacing back and forth as her kid climbs to the top of the playground jungle gym – that’s for the same reason. Moms are wired to want to keep their children from harm. This is the cause of many sleepless nights and many desperate prayers.

One of the prayers I often offered before my child was born was that she would be great in God’s Kingdom. After she was born the reality of this prayer hit me. There was a direct conflict between this request and my desire to protect her. Those who are great in God’s Kingdom have lives punctuated by ridicule, hurt and difficulties (see John 15:20; John 16:33). Most, if not all, are called to lay aside some of the comforts and conveniences of this life in order to serve God more faithfully. Those who are great in God’s Kingdom follow in the steps of His Son, and that is a path marked by challenges and pain.

Yet in praying this prayer for my little one I am acknowledging that there is something greater than what this world has to offer. In recognizing that the accolades here do not compare to the commendations in Heaven, I am preparing her, as well as myself,  for what I hope will be a life characterized by service and sacrifice for His Kingdom. In entrusting her to His care I’m recognizing that my ability to protect her is limited but His ability to provide for her is not. I desire to shield her, it’s true, but my greater desire is that she will be a partaker of Christ’s riches and live a life that glorifies Him (see Phil. 4:19; I Peter 5:10).

The costs of discipleship are high. Perhaps there’s no greater awareness of this than when it’s your kid that must pay them. But asking now that my kid may be worthy of the honor will hopefully make me better prepared to to support her when that day comes. And in doing so may I place her where she always belonged anyway – safely in the Heavenly Father’s hands.

A Hurried Life Hurts the Mission – “One of the simplest ways of being out of step with the world is not living to keep up with it. I am not advocating a life of laziness but rather a pursuit of presence. It’s a perseverance in abiding, not a fleeing for fleeting moments.” (H/T)

New Research: 64% of Americans Believe Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage Is Inevitable – The title speaks for itself. Read the article for a thorough recap of what the new research reveals, including people’s thoughts on whether a pastor should be able to refuse to preform a marriage of a same-sex individuals.

Those Grammar Gaffes Will Get You – An interesting article about grammar mistakes, and those you think are errors but in reality are not! Here’s to prepositions at the end of sentences!

Goodbye Google Reader – As you may have heard Google has announced plans to discontinue Google Reader. CNET has some alternative RSS readers for you to consider.

How To Let Peace Rule – “If we’re to find peace, we must become a pupil of He who is our Peace, Jesus Christ. He who is the Word. And this bit of Word, ‘Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,’ is a fine educator.”

A Vision for A Christian University – Some practical and help thoughts about establishing, and maintaining, a Christian school of higher education.

 

 

 

Entrusted to Share

March 13, 2013 — 2 Comments
Girls / gossip

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Childhoods are littered with pinky swears and “cross-my-hearts” as secrets are shared and promises are extracted to keep them confidential. As one child conveys their dreams and crushes to another, they are entrusting their friend with news that they want to keep private. In fact, most of the time when we think of an entrustment we think of something that is supposed to be protected. We deposit money in a bank because we trust that they will keep it until we need it. We obtain safes to guard our most valuable possessions. When we trust someone or some institution with something that is ours we are doing so in the hopes that it will not be given to another.

However, God has entrusted us with something for the expressed purpose of giving it away. He has given us the gospel of salvation, not to keep it to ourselves but to share it with others. Unlike other entrustments, our task is to broadcast this news far and wide. Our goal should be for as many people to hear it as possible.

Unfortunately, we often treat the Gospel more like schoolyard secrets. We are reluctant to broach the topic of eternity with another afraid that we might somehow offend them. We are reticent to discuss salvation because we fear the questions we may not be able to answer. Instead of freely sharing the gift that we have been given, we are content to keep it confidential, only partially admitting to ourselves that as we do so, we are complicit in the condemnation of others.

However, we would do well to remember what Paul wrote about what it means to be entrusted with the Gospel. According to I Thessalonians 2:4 the reason that they were given the message of salvation is because they were found to be “approved by God.” Knowing about repentance and faith isn’t simply a gift then, but a responsibility. We have been approved by God for the good work of sharing His message with others. It is an honor that we should not take lightly, it is a task we should not neglect.

So the next time someone asks you to keep something “just between us” let us remember the message that God has expressly commanded that we not keep to ourselves (Mt. 28:16-20). Let’s be diligent with sharing what He has entrusted us with that many more may come to know Him.

Prayer Is A Great Place to Begin – “Most prayer requests ask for God to give external blessings. But biblical prayer, like counseling, deals with how God meets us, comforts us, changes us. Retooling our prayer requests is an accessible way for believers in a church to begin to teach each other to talk about the things that really matter, the things that are on God’s heart. If you are praying for matters with personal consequences, then you will have conversations of consequence.” (H/T)

Deus Absconditus – “Perhaps, like Jesus, there are times when the best we can do is to yield ourselves to the God who seems hidden behind the clouds—and perhaps to acknowledge that the journey of faith is not always the warm assurance of perpetually clear skies that we thought it might be. For those outside of faith, such admissions may well be a needed authenticity.”

God Is Not A Tease – A reminder that God is always at work for our good and His glory even when it seems like potentially good things are being snatched from our hands.

A Home For God – “While we long for our heavenly home, let’s strive to make our earthly home a place of peace, order, joy, and laughter. And let’s make this our prayer: “Lord help me to build the kind of home where all who enter find it ‘impossible to keep from thinking of God.'”

Love to The Uttermost – A free e-book for Holy Week from Desiring God.

Hungry

March 12, 2013 — 2 Comments

Having a baby reminds you of something that we all know but we rarely spend much time thinking about – our bodies are wired to crave food. As a new parent can attest, no one needs to teach a child how to be hungry or how to express their discomfort when that hunger goes unsatisfied. God graciously created us so that even before we could do much of anything at all, we desire the fuel we need in order to keep on functioning. Without it and without the ability of babies to express their state of need, parenting as well as surviving infancy would be much more difficult.

Not only do babies recognize their need for food even before they can articulate that the desire for it exists, they also consume it on a fairly regular pattern. Newborns seemingly consume it around the clock and new mothers can feel like all they do is feed the baby, change the baby, only to put the baby to sleep and start the cycle over again. As they grow the feeding pattern remains fairly consistent. There may be longer lengths of time between meals, but babies still eat at fairly regular and predictable intervals. And they eat whenever they need to. They don’t push aside a feeding because they are busy or because they don’t “feel like it.” Eating is a priority for them – they do it regularly, frequently and with an intensity that speaks to its importance. And on some days they eat even more often than normal because their bodies are getting ready to grow.

One may wonder why I’ve embarked upon such a long discussion of a child’s eating habits and it’s because I think that it can teach us a lot about how we are to approach the God’s Word. Christ said that His food was to do the will of the One who had sent Him (John 4:34). As Christians, we should desire to imitate Christ and therefore what fueled Him should also be what drives us. However, in order to do the will of God we have to know the will of God, and God’s will is most prominently revealed through His Word. Therefore, if we want to be fed through obedience as Christ was, we must banquet in the bounty of the Scriptures. We must feast on the truth of the Word of God so that we may grow and develop into the people He desires us to be.

Unfortunately, many people approach this task as many adults approach their meals. They are quick to grab some tidbit of Scripture as they rush out the door, much like they grab their breakfast to eat in the car. They take a “drive thru” approach to their study of Scripture, hurried to make it to the next activity or function. Unlike an infant, if they miss a “meal” their disdain is not quickly voiced and rectified; they are content to partake of Scripture on an ad hoc basis. Their “feeding” is not regular, frequent and prioritized. It is haphazard and scattered. They are content with morsels when they should be seeking a banquet.

It should come as no surprise when we approach Scripture this way and neglect to see the growth in the Christian life that we desire. After all, one of the reasons an infant grows more during the first year of life than they do at any other time is because they are constantly providing their bodies the fuel they need in order to mature. Without such nourishment, their growth would be halted and their bodies diminished.  Similarly when we neglect to fuel our walk with God with the sustenance of Scripture, our growth will suffer as well.

Therefore, next time we hear the cries of a hungry baby or witness a toddler signaling their desire for more, may it remind us of how we should hunger for the food that fueled Jesus. Next time we’re tempted to remark on how fast a little one has grown, may we recognize that they did so because they frequently and consistently partook of food, and if we want to experience growth in our walk with God, we must similarly dine in His Truth. May the insatiable hunger of little ones drive engender a similar appetite for the God’s Holy Scripture, and may their hunger for food prompt us to dive deeper with more frequency and intensity into the riches of His Word.

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©iStockphoto.com/poison_dv

It seems like any time you turn on the television there is a new way for people to win money. Whether it is classic game shows like Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune, or more recent inventions like Survivor and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, the chances to get-rich-quick seem to abound. Most, although not all of the shows, don’t seem to involve any special talent. It is a matter of perseverance, happenstance, and the wherewithal to compete.

Recently, however, a new show called Gold Rush has debuted. Unlike the shows referenced above, Gold Rush is not about people stumbling upon opportunities to win some money. Instead, this show is about prospectors who seek to strike it rich by finding the quintessential “mother lode.” These individuals aren’t just taking advantage of the opportunities that seem to present themselves; they are seeking out ways to discover gold. They are on a proactive quest, a mission that they are determined to complete.

When it comes to evangelism, it seems that Christians can learn a lot from these televised attempts at wealth creation. After all, we are often tempted to consider evangelism much ilke the contentestants in the game shows that were discussed in the opening paragraph. We ask God to help us “take advantage of the opportunities” to share the Gospel. We try to be mindful of “open doors” and desire to respond appropriately when conversations turn to things of God. Much like a contestant on the Price is Right, we hope we don’t blow our chance if and when our name is called.

However, our efforts to share the Good News of Christ would no doubt be strengthened if instead we approached evangelism more like a prospector on a quest for gold. Instead of praying that we would “take advantage” of opportunities, perhaps we would ask God to help us “find opportunities” to share His Word. Instead of waiting for the chance to presented to us, perhaps we would proactively seek situations and settings that would allow us to display the richness of His Word. If we approached witnessing this way we wouldn’t be content with simply stumbling upon an open door, we would mine for them – digging deep in the lives of other so that we might strike at a just the right time with the Truth of His Word.

It’s possible that the reason there are so many game shows that feature contestants willing to take advantage of opportunities and so few game shows about contestants who go out and seek them is that the latter requires much more effort than the former. So it is with our evangelism. However, as I would imagine is true with the contestants on Gold Rush, when you are out seeking opportunities for Christ there is a much greater chance that you will find just what you are looking for, and as a result, the reward that comes from helping bring others to Christ.

Consumed

March 6, 2013 — 2 Comments
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©iStockphoto.com/Lisay

As I’ve written about many times before, I am a planner. Being a planner means that I constantly have things on my mind as I try to anticipate what I need to get done and where I need to be. Years ago, I read a book that helped me add some organizations to these thoughts by encouraging me to not keep my to-do list in my head. Instead, increased productivity was promised if I would simply either write the task down and schedule it or complete it right away. While this certainly helped with freeing my thoughts from my list of to-dos, it didn’t completely cure my planning ways. My thoughts may not be focused on tasks, but they still are focused on the future, living in anticipation of what may be next.

For many this probably sounds like a good thing, however, as any planner can tell you, there is a fine line between being future-focused, and being a worrier. When you are constantly thinking of the things that you need to know or the opportunities that may (or may not) come your way, it’s easy to become obsessed with what “might be” rather than being content with what is. Our thoughts are indicative of what we treasure (see Luke 12:34and if we’re constantly thinking of “what’s next” we are likely discontent with “what is.” 

Scripture, however, encourages us that our thoughts shouldn’t be centered on the tasks to complete or the opportunities that we may have. Instead, as the Psalmist writes, the blessed person is the one whose “delight is in the law of the Lord” and who mediates on it “day and night” (Ps. 1:2). Our thoughts shouldn’t be focused on what our concerns and priorities, but instead they should be focused on God’s. Our desire should be that what is on our mind increasingly mirrors what is on His. Our contemplation should not be our list of to-dos, but the truth contained in His Word.

If we were to do this, if our thoughts were centered on His Word, than there wouldn’t be time or the opportunity for them to be consumed with our worries. If we were constantly focused on our Father, than we wouldn’t be hindered by our fears. Meditating on Him and His Word not only puts things into perspective, His perspective, it obliterates anything lesser that may seek to distract and sideline us. When we are consumed with what He has to say, we aren’t troubled by our own thoughts and considerations.

This is by no means easy. Regardless of whether you are a planner or a person of spontaneity, it takes discipline to center our internal dialogue on the truth of Scripture. However, God promises that when we do so we are “blessed”  – not only because we are delighting ourselves in the same things that He is, but because we are demonstrating that our treasure, and our trust, are in Him.

 

 

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