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Showing posts from April, 2014

when the Lord is not your Shepherd

Think of what it means to not have the Lord as your Shepherd. Here are the words of Australian evangelist John Chapman (aka "Chappo") upon his retirement... Throughout the Bible runs the wonderful theme of God being the shepherd of His people and of the wonderful security which this brings. In Ezekiel, when the leaders of Israel will not lead God's people into godly ways, God says, ''I myself will be shepherd to my people''. I suppose the best example of this is Psalm 23. The Psalmist lists the benefits of this relationship with God. He wants for nothing. God leads him in the path of righteousness. He satisfies him, leading him in green pastures and by still waters. He lifts him up when he is down. He restores his soul and, even in the face of death, he is still secure. ''When I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,'' he says with confidence, ''I will fear no evil''. In the presence of his enemies, God comes

he who feels the warmth knows the sun exists

more and more, not less and less

Sometimes we think of the Christian life as being like an airline flight.  At the beginning you really need a big boost of power and acceleration to get off the ground.  But at some point you reach a set altitude (ceiling) and then settle in at a cruising speed.   Which is fine... if your destination is someplace in this world.  But our destination is not of this world.  Our goal is not to level out at a safe cruising speed, but rather to obtain the fullest possible transformation into the likeness and character of Jesus that we can in this life.   The Christian life should be about "more and more", not "less and less." There is no red line on the tachometer of the Christian.  There is no ceiling, no set altitude, no cruising speed.  This really stood out to me in Paul's first letter to the Thessalonian believers...  "...may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you."  (1 Thessalonians 3:

a giant leap for humanity

One of the contentions held against Christianity is its exclusiveness.  We are being too narrow and exclusive to say that this one way is the only right way to approach God.  Doesn't this give offense to other cultures and other religions? It depends on whether we are considering Jesus' accomplishments merely as the work of a man within a culture for people within a culture, or whether this is something much greater.  When Americans first walked on the moon, Neil Armstrong said, "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."  In such momentous historical events, one does not say something like, "one small step for an American, one giant leap for Americans."  (Or Russians, or Pakistanis, or any nationality...)  Armstrong and Aldrin were Americans, but what they were doing transcended any nationality and was an accomplishment representing -- and celebrated by -- all of humanity.  That moment transcended any particular culture.  

losing the self

"For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.  For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?"  (Luke 9:24-25 ESV) Here are some of my highlights from the closing chapter of God in the Whirlwind, by David Wells... There is a center in our lives, and in both cases from this center comes an energy, a drive, to see life from the viewpoint of our center and to do certain things... This truth is fundamental to Christian faith. Either we are “enslaved to sin” (Rom. 6:6) or, through Christ, we are “slaves to righteousness” (Rom. 6:19). We are either “slaves to impurity and to lawlessness” (Rom. 6:19), or, as Paul said of himself, “a servant of Christ Jesus” (Rom. 1:1). It is the one or the other. Everyone is enslaved to something. Our choice is simply to whom or to what. This servitude of sin originally worked itself out by constricting or “contracting” the human vision. Edwar

the donkey

When fishes flew and forests walked      And figs grew upon thorn,     Some moment when the moon was blood Then surely I was born.   With monstrous head and sickening cry     And ears like errant wings,     The devil’s walking parody        On all four-footed things.   The tattered outlaw of the earth,     Of ancient crooked will;  Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb, I keep my secret still.   Fools! For I also had my hour;     One far fierce hour and sweet:     There was a shout about my ears,     And palms before my feet.   "The Donkey" by G. K. Chesterton, from The Collected Poems of G. K. Chesterton (Dodd Mead & Company, 1927)   [Photo of Paramo donkey from Wikimedia Commons.]

sunday notes

How we are to defend the faith :    a)  With cheerfulness (24:10; 26:2) (Lu 6:23; 21:13; 1 Pet 2:9) b)  With respect (24:10; 26:2-3) (Rom 13:1-7; 1 Pet 3:15) c)  With our personal story (26:9ff)(Luke 21:13; Phil 3:3-11) d)  With confidence in God’s word (24:14-15; 26:6)(Luke 24:26-27,44) e)  With a good conscience  (24:16) (1 Pet 3:16; Titus 2:7-10) f)  With persuasion (24:25; 26:18-20, 29)(Prov 11:30; 2 Cor 5:20; Jude 1:3) g)  With endurance (24:22-27; 26:24) (1 Cor 15:58)  Quotes... “Snarkiness has no place in Christian apologetics.”  ( Chris Travis )   “Religious experience occurs in the sanctuary, but its claim to truth has to be tested in the public world of facts.” (Lesslie Newbigin)   “If your souls were not immortal, and you in danger of losing them, I would not speak this way to you; but the love of your souls constrains me to speak...” (George Whitefield) "Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay d

we can never hear too much about him

"The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham..." (Matthew 1:1 ESV) These verses begin the New Testament. Let us always read them with serious and solemn feelings . The book before us contains not the word of men, but of God. Every verse in it was written by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Let us thank God daily for giving us the Scriptures . The poorest Englishman who understands his Bible, knows more about religion than the wisest philosophers of Greece and Rome. Let us remember our deep responsibility . We shall all be judged at the last day according to our light. To whomsoever much is given, of them much will be required. Let us read our Bibles reverently and diligently , with an honest determination to believe and practice all we find in them. It is no light matter how we use this book. Eternal life or death depends on the spirit in which it is used. Above all let us humbly pray for the teaching of the Holy Spirit . He alone

the Spirit of glory

I'm reading The Work of the Holy Spirit , by Abraham Kuyper (1837–1920), Dutch theologian and statesman.  Here are a couple of highlights I'm thinking about... "Much more, however, is the king honored by the persons of his household, each in his degree, from the master of ceremonies to his prime minister. Yet his highest glory is his family of sons and daughters, begotten of his own blood, trained by his wisdom, animated by his ideals, one with him in the plans, purposes, and spirit of his life. Applying this in all reverence to the court of the King of heaven, it is evident that while every flower and star enhance His glory, the lives of angels and men are of much greater significance to His Kingdom; and again, while among the latter they are most closely related to His glory whom He has placed in positions of authority, nearest of all are the children begotten by His Spirit, and admitted to the secret of His pavilion. We conclude, then, that God's glory is r