Sunday, January 31, 2010

Your Sin Will Find You Out

I like the passage at the end of Numbers 32:23 where it says,
"…you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out."

Isaiah 59:12: For our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities:

As if I did not already feel convicted by the Holy Spirit to walk with a clear conscience before the Lord, Numbers 32:23 drives it home for me. So even if I were to sin and not get caught by man, my sin would seek me out and "testify against" me before my King who knows my heart.

This, of course, leads me back to my post of yesterday which defines sin as anything (and everything) that does not proceed from faith. Not to mention, God's word has quite a bit to say about a clean or good conscience.

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5)

2 Timothy 2:22: So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

1 Peter 3:16: having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

1 Peter 3:21: Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

…holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, (1 Timothy 1:19)

1 Timothy 3:9: They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.

So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man. (Acts 24:16)

1 Timothy 4:7: Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness;

1 Timothy 4:15: Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.

Acts 23:1: And looking intently at the council, Paul said, "Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day."

Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. (1 Corinthians 8:12)

Matthew 18:6:…but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Zechariah 2:8: …for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye:

Matthew 25:45: Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'

…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:22)

1 Peter 1:2: according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

Hebrews 9:14: how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

1 Corinthians 6:11: And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

I pray that "when [I am] slandered, those who revile [my] good behavior in Christ may be put to shame". More importantly, I pray God is glorified in my life each and every day.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Whatever Does Not Proceed from Faith is Sin

But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23. ESV.)

While in my favorite ladies bible study group a few years back, I recall we discussed the definition of sin according to God’s word. When I was researching this to write my post this evening I looked to my favorite teacher, John Piper, for his input. He wrote,
“The most penetrating and devastating definition of sin that I am aware of in Scripture is the last part of Romans 14:23: ‘Whatever is not from faith is sin.’ The reason it is penetrating is that it goes to the root of all sinful actions and attitudes, namely, the failure to trust God. And the reason it is devastating is that it sweeps away all our lists of dos and don'ts and makes anything, from preaching to house-painting, a candidate for sin. In the original language, this is stressed even more than in our versions: it says, ‘Everything which is not from faith is sin.’ Anything, absolutely any act or attitude which is owing to a lack of trust in God is sin, no matter how moral it may appear to men. God looks on the heart.” (Piper, John. “Whatever Is Not from Faith Is Sin”. 1980.)

What a sobering reality! No matter what I do, if it does not come from faith in my Sovereign King and His precious Son Christ Jesus, it is sin! Further, James 4:17 teaches, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” Thankfully, as John Piper reminds me, God sees my heart.

1 John 3:21: Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;

Psalm 44:21: …he knows the secrets of the heart.

Jeremiah 17:10: "I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds."

Hebrews 4:13: And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Luke 16:15: And he said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

1 Samuel 16:7: For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.

1 Chronicles 28:9: …know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought.

Proverbs 21:2: Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart.

Proverbs 16:5: Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished.

Romans 8:27: And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

1 John 3:20: for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

1 Thessalonians 2:4: …but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.

Romans 8:6: For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

How mindful I must be of all that I say and do…being careful it originates from my faithfulness to my King so as not to sin.

"If You Want Me To" by Ginny Owens

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Treasure that Turns Other Treasures to Garbage

Week of January 25
The Treasure that Turns Other Treasures to Garbage
John Piper

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.
Paul has a way of playing your game, winning, and then saying the game is bunk. He does it, for example, in 2 Corinthians 11:21-12:11 where he lists his "superior" achievements and then says, "I have been a fool! You forced me to it" (2 Corinthians 12:11). In other words, I can play your game of measuring myself by your standards, win, and then call it all worthless. It is fool's play.

He does it again here in Philippians 3. He warns the church to watch out for the evildoing dogs who mutilate the flesh (people who insist on circumcision as a way of getting right with God). The problem with these people is that they "put confidence in the flesh"-that is, they bank on their works for justification (vv. 2-3, cf. v. 9).

So Paul says, OK let's play that game for a moment. And then he lists his works of the flesh and knocks his opponents out of the ring with legal achievements. "If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more." Indeed he does.

Then come three of the best verses in all the Bible. In essence: the victory I just won in the contest of the flesh is a pile of garbage (the Greek is sku,bala, v. 8). And the reason he uses such a strong word (refuse!) is that the alternative is Christ. Compared to Christ being the greatest Pharisee of his time was foul garbage.

But that is too vague. He is not vague. He does not say simply that compared to Christ legal achievements are garbage; he is more specific. He says that what is superior to moral and religious achievements is 1) knowing Christ, 2) gaining Christ, and 3) being found in Christ.

1. Knowing Christ. "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (v. 8). "Knowing" here is not just knowing the fact that Jesus is Lord. It is the kind of knowing that prompts the phrase, "my Lord"! He knows the supreme Lord of the universe (see 2:9-11) as his Lord. So there are two aspects to Paul's passion for Christ here. One is the rational and relational knowledge of the greatest person in the universe. Paul's mind and heart are full of Christ. The other is that he belongs to Christ as subject to the all-ruling, all-protecting Lord. This is better than being at the top of any human heap.

2. Gaining Christ. "For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ" (v. 8). "Gain" means get all that Christ is for us in heaven, not just on earth. Paul has already said, "To live is Christ and to die is gain" (v. 21), because "to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better" (1:23). And he is about to say, "I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own" (3:12). So it is clear that part of what makes human achievement a pile of garbage compared to Christ is that soon (and very soon!) he is going to meet the king-in a way far more full and intimate and stunning and satisfying than anything he has known here. And he has known so much of Christ here that the garbage verdict has been rendered on that alone.

3. Being found in Christ. ". . . and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith" (v. 9). Paul was overwhelmed by the fact that "in Christ"-that is, united to Christ by faith alone-he possessed a righteousness that was infinitely better than all his legal achievements could ever be. Paul knew he needed a righteous life in order to be accepted by God and in order to enjoy all the glories of Christ forever. He did not have such a righteousness in himself. He needed the free gift of righteousness from God himself. God gave it to him in Christ.

Therefore Jesus Christ was both the treasure he cherished and the one who provided the right to have the treasure. In Christ alone Paul had a right to know and gain Christ. And that is all he wanted. That is the gospel. This is what we mean by treasuring Christ together. Christ alone is the ground of our acceptance with God and the goal of our heart's desire. He is our righteousness and our reward. Compared to him (knowing him, gaining him, being found in him) all else is garbage.

Treasuring Christ together with you,
Pastor John

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: Email: Toll Free: 1.888.346.4700.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Help the Children Love the Different People

Help the Children Love the Different People

Racial Harmony Sunday

January 17, 2010
By John Piper
Romans 5:1-11
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
If you are newer to Bethlehem, here is something important to know about us. Since 1993—about 18 years now counting this one—we have focused two messages in January on the same two issues each year—issues that have seemed to us timely and important, and which the Bible addresses pretty clearly: the issue of racial or ethnic diversity and harmony in our country and in our church, and the issue of the sanctity of human life, and the practice of abortion in particular.

Unashamed for Racial Harmony and Human Life

We are unashamedly devoted to Christ-exalting racial and ethnic justice and diversity and harmony. We give a glad-hearted embrace to the increasing diversity in our land—and we hope for it in our church. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by 2042 (32 years from now) minorities will make up more than 50% of the population. We do not look with alarm or threat on this. This is the way heaven will be. “You were slain [Lord Jesus], and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9).
And we are unashamedly devoted to the sanctify of human life, in the womb and outside the womb—the life of human beings who are not merely the product of natural processes of procreation, but who are each one created in the image of God. Listen to the way the brother of Jesus argues about how we should speak to each other: “The tongue is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God” (James 3:8-9). We believe that taking the life of these little human beings in the womb is a great sin, except in the rarest of cases, where mom and child are about to be lost.

Providential Placement

It has seemed providential to us that Martin Luther King weekend and the Sanctity of Human Life Sunday always fall together in the January calendar. So we take this as an opportunity to listen to what God has to say about these two issues from his word.
So today we focus on racial harmony and next week we focus on the sanctity of human life.

Almost About Disability as Well

The direction I want to go today in addressing the issue of racial harmony is not so much to say new things but to say some old, biblical things in a new context. I want to put some basic biblical truth in the context of how we raise our children to love people who are different from them.
When I felt led to take this approach, I confess that I felt a huge desire to make this message be explicitly about both racial differences and about disability differences. And the reason is that for very little children, other people who are different from them or from mommy and daddy fall into obvious categories like race and disability. Children have to be taught these things. And many of the same things they need to learn in loving people of other races they also need to learn in loving people with physical disabilities.

Listen Between the Lines

But I talked to Noël about approaching this sermon that way, and we decided it would not be a good idea. First, this is Martin Luther King Weekend, and the stated focus is racial harmony. Second, and more important, some people would almost surely say that I was treating race as a disability. Which it isn’t.
So I am going to explicitly apply what I say to racial differences, and trust those of you for whom disability is a more immediate issue to listen between the lines and make the applications wherever they are appropriate.

Mainly Talking to Parents

I am mainly talking to parents in this message, but if you are a child and can understand what I am saying right now, I really encourage you to listen carefully. Your parents love you very much. And I am preaching this message to help them love you even better. If will be a great help to you if you learn from this message one of the ways that God commands your parents to love you.

Parents: The Primary Shapers

I start with the assumption that parents are charged by God to be the primary shapers and teachers of their children’s attitude to racial differences. The key passage behind that assumption is Ephesians 6:1-4:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
So parents—both mom and dad—are to be honored and obeyed by their children. This is the way God has set up the world for our great good. Where this breaks down everything begins to break down.

Specific to Fathers

Specifically, fathers are named in Ephesians 6:4 and have an especially prominent role in shaping the minds and hearts of their children in accord with the Lord’s instruction. Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, . . . bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Part of that instruction is the Lord’s truth about racial differences and how we should think and feel and act about them. So fathers are put there by God, among other reasons, to help their children love people of different races. That’s my assumption in this message, and the rest of what I want to do in the rest of this message is give some examples of how to do that.

8 Ways to Help the Children Love Different People

I have eight ways to help your children love those who are different from them. There is an order to them, and I will try to explain it along the way. The gospel of Christ comes in at number five. And the reason it comes so late is that this is the way it works in raising children. They can understand things about God and about what God commands before they can know the meaning of their own depravity and the glory of the way God worked salvation in Christ.
So these are addressed mainly to parents, but also to anyone else who cares about helping children love people different from themselves. Keep in mind that on every point I am assuming that every parent is seeking to be what he is teaching the children. Teach and model. Teach and model.
1. Help the children believe in God’s sovereign wisdom and goodness in creating them with the body that they have.
Most little children are wonderfully free from fretting about their body. They don’t think about it. If there is no pain, they just go from one thing to the next with no bothersome self-consciousness at all.
But almost all children come to an age when they worry about their bodies. Am I too tall or too short? Too thin or too heavy? Too dark or too light? Cool hair or boring hair? Clear complexion or blemished? These fears, and the craving to be liked, can escalate into destructive dysfunctions and sinful behaviors.
Not Self-Esteem But God’s Sovereign Goodness
What is needed is not the world’s teaching on self-esteem, but God’s teaching on his sovereign goodness and wisdom in creating our children they way they are. Psalm 139:14: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” It doesn’t solve every problem. It’s just massively important. And the teaching and modeling begins when the child is one year old, not when he is 11. You are getting your child ready for adolescence from the day he is born.
And what you want your child to grasp as soon as possible is: 1) God made me. 2) God is very, very wise. 3) God is very, very good. 4) Therefore, we should trust him. The way he made me is good. The battle of adolescence is not mainly a self-esteem issue. It’s a God issue. A trust issue. We are teaching our children from the beginning to trust God’s sovereignty and wisdom and goodness.
The reason I start here is that the next point will have more power if you have built this into a child from the beginning.
2. Help the children believe in God’s sovereign wisdom and goodness in making other people with the body that they have.
This simply takes the first truth and applies it to others. And if you have helped them grasp the idea of being created by God—an amazing and wonderful truth—and being created with wisdom and goodness, then they will not have as much trouble grasping that this is true for others as well.
And if they grasp that others, in all their differences, are created by a wise and good God, then you can draw out all the implications of that. For example, you would not make fun of God’s work, would you? You would not hurt someone by staring at them as if they were made by a foolish god or a bad god, would you? And so on.
3. Help the children believe that they and all other children and adults are made in God’s image.
Genesis 1:27: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Build into your children from the beginning that they are different from all the animals because God made us like himself. This applies to all human beings, all races. We can know God. And love God. And think God’s thoughts after him in the Bible. And talk to God. And reflect God in ways that no animal can.
We teach our children that being a human is an amazing and glorious thing. No race is an exception to this. And here is one of the main implications: What makes us like God (all of us) is infinitely more important than any physical thing that makes us unlike each other.
So we say to our children, if they are pulling away from someone who’s different, “Is he more like you, or more different from you?” And if he says, “More different.” You say, “No, because he’s created in God’s image, and you’re created in God’s image. So you are like each other in that really, really important way. The differences aren’t nearly that important.”
God As Creator and Commander of Love
So the first three ways to help our children love those who are different from them all revolve around helping them know God as their Creator and what that means for their lives.
The next examples of how to help our children relates to knowing God as the God who commands us to love. So first our children meet God as their Creator. And then they meet him as the giver of the law which is summed up in the command to love.
4. Teach the children that God tells us to do to others as we would like others to do to us.
Jesus said, “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12). This can be very powerful with smaller children who are just old enough to know what it feels like to be made fun of or excluded.
We teach them the Golden Rule to do to others what we would like to be done to us. And we apply it over and over again to their relationships and how they treat others. “Would you want to be treated that way? No. So let’s not treat them that way either.”
Jesus said, amazingly, “This is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). So build this into your children early and often. When someone is different from you and you are tempted to say something or do something to them, ask: Would I want someone to say that to me or do that to me?
Arriving at the Gospel
Now we have arrived at the gospel examples (numbers 5-8), and these are the ones directly related to the gospel of Christ—his death for our sin and his triumphant, death-conquering resurrection. And when these take root, the previous four suggestions I have given are given the power of the gospel.
5. Teach the children and model for them that their own sin is uglier than anybody they think is physically unattractive.
Sin is not an innocent mistake or a funny blunder or a noble flaw. Sin is ugly rebellion against God. Paul calls this sinful generation “a crooked and perverse generation” (Philippians 2:15). The Bible uses words like “abomination,” and Paul describes fallen man in Romans 3:13, “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips.” Sin is abhorrent and ugly.
If our children are ever to grasp the gospel, they must grasp this about themselves. And we parents must! They and we are sinful—dreadfully sinful. Until this is seen and felt in some significant measure, the gospel will not be cherished.
Knowing the Depth of Our Sin
One way this relates to loving others different from us is this: When we are broken not just because we do some bad things, but because we are morally and spiritually perverse and ugly, we will not be given to despise others for mere outward appearances that we may think are unpleasant.
But mainly the way this sense of sinfulness and moral ugliness works is to prepare us for the next act.
6. Teach the children that God loves them in spite of the ugliness of their sin and that he proved this by sending his Son to die for our sins and give forgiveness to all who would trust him.
“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). This is the heart of the gospel. And it’s the deepest source of power for helping our children love others different from themselves.
So we say to our children, “You think they are unattractive or unpleasant? Remember, your sin—your sinful heart, just like mommy’s and daddy’s—is more unattractive and unpleasant to God than that person is to you. And God loves you. God sent Jesus, his own son, to suffer and die in our place, so that if we trust him, he forgives us all our sins and starts to make us into new and desirable people.”
“So if God has loved us this way, shouldn’t we love others this way too?”
7. Teach the children that because Jesus died for them and rose again, he becomes for them an all-satisfying Friend and Treasure.
Paul said, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord ” (Philippians 3:8). To know Jesus—to have Jesus as my Savior and my King and my Friend is better than anything.
Help the children make the connection—and of course you have to make it for yourself—that if Jesus is this precious and this satisfying, then you don’t need to be afraid of anyone who’s different from you, and you don’t need to get your happiness by feeling superior to others or by putting others down. You have Jesus. And you are full. And you have something to share. So don’t turn away from people. Turn toward people.
Happy Enough in Jesus to Love Others
Help the children be so happy in knowing Jesus and in being forgiven by Jesus and being loved by God because of Jesus, that they spill over onto others freely with love, rather than getting their happiness by putting others down and running away from others.
Finally, to make sure that the children are grasping the gospel and how it works in their lives . . .
8. Teach the children to love others who are different from them, not in order to be accepted by God, but because they already are accepted by God because of Jesus.
When Paul says in Philippians 2:12-13, “Work out your own salvation,” he adds, “because it is God who works in you.” And when he says in Philippians 3:12, “I press on to make it my own,” he adds, “because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”
In other words, the efforts that we teach our children to make in working out their salvation—in being good and holy and kind and loving—don’t make them Christians. These efforts don’t get God on their side. If they have been grasped by the gospel, they make these efforts because God is already on their side. And he is on their side because of what Jesus did for them, not what they do for him.
The Power of God in the Gospel
This is the power to love people different from ourselves. This is the key we give to our children. And above all this is the key to the grace that enables us to be this kind of parent. We live day by day from the love of God in the gospel of Jesus. May God grant our children to see it and in the power of it love others different from themselves.

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by Arthur W. Pink

"In nothing be anxious." (Phil. 4:6, R.V.)

WORRYING is as definitely forbidden as theft. This needs to be carefully pondered and definitely realized by us, so that we do not excuse it as an innocent "infirmity." The more we are convicted of the sinfulness of anxiety, the sooner are we likely to perceive that it is most dishonoring to God, and "strive against" it. (Heb. 12:4) Buy how are we to "strive against" it? First, by begging the Holy Spirit to grant us a deeper conviction of its enormity. Second, by making it a subject of special and earnest prayer, that we may be delivered from this evil. Third, by watching its beginning, and as soon as we are conscious of harassment of mind, as soon as we detect the unbelieving thought, lift up our heart to God and ask Him for deliverance from it. The best antidote for anxiety is frequent meditation upon Gods goodness, power and sufficiency.
When the saint can confidently realize "The Lord is My Shepherd," he must draw the conclusion, "I shall not want!" Immediately following our exhortation is, "but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known unto God." Nothing is too big and nothing is too little to spread before and cast upon the Lord. The "with  thanksgiving" is most important, yet it is the point at which we most fail. It means that before we receive Gods answer, we thank Him for the same: it is the confidence of the child expecting his Father to be gracious. --A. W. Pink

"Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought (anxious concern) for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" "But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added
unto you." (Matt. 6:25,33)

How to Meditate On God's Word

How To Meditate On God’s Word

Written by Stephen Altrogge
Topics: Bible reading
The word ‘meditation’ is a pretty cool word these days. Everybody is in to meditation. A lot of productivity websites say that when you feel burned out it’s really helpful to take a ‘meditation break’. Recently on the Oprah Winfrey Show (yeah, yeah I was watching Oprah) a guy named Dr. Oz (no relation to the wizard) said that meditation can significantly lengthen your life. Meditation isn’t just for Tibetan monks wearing burlap robes that chafe their armpits. No, everybody loves meditation.
The truth is, the Bible is big on meditation as well. Psalm 1:2 says of the godly man, “… his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Which brings me to the question: what exactly is meditation? According to our culture, meditation is the relaxation of the mind to the point where little or no thought occurs. But according to scripture, meditation is the increased focus of the mind with much deep thought occurring. The goal of secular meditation is to empty the mind, the goal of godly meditation is to fill the mind with God’s truth. To put it in a succinct definition, godly meditation is the practice of filling the mind with God’s word for the purpose of applying God’s word.
So how do we meditate on God’s word? What does this look like practically? Here’s just a few suggestions.
Meditate Prayerfully
When we read the Bible, we’re not just reading a book – we’re reading the sacred word of God. The Bible is the very words of God, given to us that we might know him, love him, and obey him. Which means that we simply can’t understand the Bible apart from the enlightening power of God’s spirit. We must have God open our eyes to understand and apply the glorious truths that we read in scripture. Apart from the spirit of God our devotional times will be dry, listless, and fruitless. Before you read God’s word, pray that God would give you understanding.
Meditate Quietly
It’s difficult to give deep, concentrated thought to a passage of scripture if you’re surrounded by distractions. I realize that this isn’t the case for everyone, but for most of us effective meditation on God’s word occurs in quiet places. If you’re trying to do your devotional time in the middle of Starbuck’s, you might be selling yourself short. I find that my most effective times of biblical meditation come in the quiet of the early morning, before my day is rolling. Psalm 131:2 says, “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.” Effective meditation usually happens in the stillness.
Meditate Vocally
Just because you’re in a quiet place doesn’t mean that you need to be quiet. God speaks to us when we read scripture and it’s often appropriate to respond vocally to God’s promptings. Take for example, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, which says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” When I read this verse, I want to respond out loud to God with rejoicing, prayer, and thanksgiving. Scripture isn’t a dry textbook, it’s the living word of God. We must interact with scripture, responding to it’s commands, rejoicing in it’s promises, and delighting in its revelations.
Meditate With Pen In Hand
I first heard of this from John Piper, who said the following:
“A pastor will not be able to feed his flock rich and challenging insight into God’s word unless he becomes a disciplined thinker. But almost none of us does this by nature. We must train ourselves to do it. And one of the best ways to train ourselves to think about what we read is to read with pen in hand and to write down a train of thought that comes to mind. Without this, we simply cannot sustain a sequence of questions and answers long enough to come to penetrating conclusions”
The practice of writing down my thoughts as I read my Bible has had a transforming effect on my devotional times. Writing forces me to think through each verse, and to trace the logic of each passage. It helps me to fight distraction and to focus all my attention on the words before me. Go out and get yourself a Moleskine journal and start writing as you read.
Two questions:
  • What helps you meditate on God’s word?
  • What benefits have you seen from meditating on God’s word?

Originally published January, 2008

Friday, January 22, 2010

Until Next Time

I am once again heading out of town to visit family and will not have access to a computer or the internet for about a week. (Yes, my laptop is still being a pain in the butt!) But, a dear sister in Christ (or two) might be available to post a little for me while I am away. "See" you when I get back.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Experience: A Brutal Teacher

The weather is supposed to be pretty bad around here today so this post is going to be a little hasty. I love the quote by C.S. Lewis which stays,
"Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My God, do you learn."

Experience, as God would have it, is probably my best instructor. I certainly do not forget the lessons I learn in the course of living through them.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8. ESV.)

1 Corinthians 15:33: Do not be deceived: "Bad company ruins good morals."

2 Corinthians 9:6: The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

Job 4:8: As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.

James 3:18: And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Submission or Codependency?

Last night I was in a discussion regarding what it means to "submit". It seems there may be some incorrect information floating around which gives "submission" a bad name. Is submission the same as codependency? My personal opinion: no way!

Martha Peace in THE EXCELLENT WIFE equates a wife surrendering to her husband to that of a soldier honoring the position of a superior officer. She states,
"You may be smarter, wiser, or more gifted than your husband, but you are still to respect the position God has given him. You are like the soldier who stands at attention, salutes, and says, 'Yes, Sir!' to his superior officer. That high ranking officer may, in fact, be inferior to the soldier in intelligence, professionalism, commitment, character, wisdom, talents, or physical looks, but the soldier is to salute the uniform. The respect is to the position, not necessarily to the personality."
(Peace, Martha. Focus Publishing Incorporated. 2005.)

She goes on to describe specific ways wives are not submissive as:

1. She does things that are annoying or vexing to her husband. (Proverbs 21:19.)
2. She does not discipline the children as she should (even after her husband asks her to). (Proverbs 29:15.)
3. She is more loyal to others than to her husband. (Proverbs 31:11.)
4. She argues or pouts or gives him the cold shoulder when she does not get her own way. (Proverbs 21:9.)
5. She does not stay within the limits of their budget. (Proverbs 19:14.)
6. She corrects, interrupts, talks for her husband, and is too outspoken when others are around. (Proverbs 27:15-16.)
7. She manipulates him to get her own way. She may manipulate by deceit, tears, begging, nagging, complaining, anger, or intimidation. Martha tried to manipulate Jesus when she said: “…Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me:” (Luke 10:40.)
8. She makes important decisions without consulting him. (1 Corinthians 11:3.)
9. She directly defies his wishes. (1 Samuel 15:23.)
10. She worries about the decisions he makes and takes matters into her own hands. (Philippians 4:7-8.)
(Peace, Martha. Focus Publishing Incorporated. 2005.)

Currently, I am reading the book WHEN PEOPLE ARE BIG AND GOD IS SMALL: OVERCOMING PEER PRESSURE, CODEPENDENCY, AND THE FEAR OF MAN by Edward T. Welch. He talks about a time in his life when he was more concerned with what man thought than God. He comes to the realization,
"…I didn't have to measure up to the standards of others' opinions because God's opinion of me was rooted in the finished work of Jesus. In other words, even though I was a sinner, God loved me and made me righteous in his sight, so who cared what other people thought?!…I didn't have to be concerned about the opinions of others. I simply had to be aware of God's opinion of me. I was a beloved son. A saint. Okay in Christ. Great!"
(Welch, Edward T. P & R Publishing. New Jersey. 1997. Page 12.)

Further, Mr. Welch says,
"It is true: what or who you need will control you."
(Welch, Edward T. P & R Publishing. New Jersey. 1997. Page 14.)

This brings to my mind what I feel to be an important question: Is there a thin line between submission and codependency? What does God's word say?

1 Peter 3:7 teaches "Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered."

Ephesians 5:25: Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

Colossians 3:19: Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

1 Thessalonians 4:4: that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,

Ephesians 5:28: In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Ephesians 5:33: However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Ephesians 5:2: And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Ephesians 4:31: Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

As it was recently said to me, the husband consults with his wife and the wife trusts her husband to be the final decision maker and choose what is best for them and their family as their provider and protector. With that said, a household under the rule of sin will suffer consequences (judgment).


Church-centered initiative to serve Haiti’s Orphans

Church-centered initiative to serve Haiti’s Orphans
(Noel Piper)

How to Help Your Grieving Friend

Molly Piper has a new website! On there she also has a series called "How to Help Your Grieving Friend". Though she specifically targets the loss of a child as the reason behind the particular sorrow about which she speaks, I feel her advice can also apply to other forms of heartache and traumatic experiences women face (on one level or another). I generally find her guidance and honesty to be excellent!

How to Help Your Grieving Friend Series
◦Just Know That She’s Exhausted
◦She’s a Scatterbrain
◦There Is No Timetable
◦She May Explode (But Probably Not)
◦She Can’t Grieve on Command
◦Ask Her Specific Questions
◦Avoid the Flippant Comfort of Hallmark Answers
◦Always on My Mind
◦10 Tips for Bringing Meals to a Grieving Friend
◦Cleaning Her House Is Next to Godliness

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Our Inheritance: Heaven or Earth?

Sunday, I heard a message from the co-author of the book THE POWER OF PRAISE AND WORSHIP by Terry Law and Jim Gilbert. Though I did not quite agree with everything Mr. Gilbert said, I found his talk to be excellent in that I was engaged, my mind was going, and my knowledge of God’s word was being challenged. As he spoke, various scriptures were coming to mind. At some points I found myself laughing, other times I felt offended and then there were moments when my heart was meditating and I wanted to leap from my chair and say, “Amen!” (but I didn’t…I stayed seated).

An MP3 of Gilbert’s speech can be found at In my notes (yes, I am one of those who likes to take lots of notes), I wrote the following points:

> Gilbert sounds as though he leans more toward Calvinism verses Armenian.

> Our Home: Earth is our inheritance. With this Gilbert quotes Revelations 21:1-3:
1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

> In reference to “New Jerusalem” Gilbert states Hebrews 12.

> God does all things for His enjoyment according to Colossians 1:15-20:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

> Our Job: God calls us to build, plant, multiply, and leaven society. Gilbert draws attention to Jeremiah 24 (the vision Jeremiah receives), Jeremiah 28 (he pleads with a false profit), and Jeremiah 29:5-11.

> Our Future: Filled with grace and hope! Gilbert draws attention to 1 Peter 1:13 and 1 Corinthians 4:5:

> (1 Peter 1:13) 13Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

> (1 Corinthians 4:5) Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

As I mentioned before, I did not see eye to eye with everything Mr. Gilbert said. Was there a political agenda? Perhaps. There were definitely political points made. I’m told a fabulous book about HEAVEN was written by Randy Alcorn. I have not read it yet so I cannot give a review at this time. (Maybe that will be a post another day.) Regardless, I encourage those who desire a challenge to listen to Mr. Gilbert’s message and study it out in the gospels. I feel his words will certainly get you thinking.

My answer to the above question: Our Inheritance Heaven or Earth? In this season of my life I feel perhaps it is both and neither. Revelation 21:1 says NEW heaven AND NEW earth...the keyword being NEW! The old will pass away.

Isaiah 65:17: For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.

Isaiah 66:22: For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the LORD, so shall your offspring and your name remain.

2 Peter 3:13: But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Revelation 20:11: Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.

Not to mention time is relative...but that is for another post!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Why don't the rabbis believe in Jesus?

Why don't the rabbis believe in Jesus?
(Jews for Jesus: David Brickner)

Jesus told a crowd of people who were looking for Him to provide their lunch, "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you" (John 6:53). At that, most of the crowd decided to leave. Jesus turned to his disciples and asked if they were leaving as well. Peter's response must likewise be ours today: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:68).

Friday, January 15, 2010

Martin Luther and the 95 Theses

Today we were studying Martin Luther and I found his 95 Theses on Interesting reading. I encourage you to pop over there and take a gander at it for yourself.

Reformation: Luther's 95 Theses

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Success Can Be Perilous

Success Can Be Perilous
(Desiring God Ministries: Jon Bloom)

I Just Had to Share

“There was such a time of the outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord, that my pen is inadequate to write it in full or my tongue to express it. But I will here say that the Spirit was poured out and came like a mighty rushing wind and filled the house. . . .such as had not been known in this generation.” ~William Draper

This beautiful quote I got off of another woman's blog. Her name is Natalie Norton and her infant Gavin David Bruce Norton just went to be with Christ on January 7, 2010. Her blog is a precious exaltation of God's grace, mercy, and awesome splendor. You can see and read it for yourself at God's glory is truly beyond words!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Standing Outside the Box Pt. 1: What Does Scripture Tell Me

God's character according to doctrine is one thing but me shoving Him inside a box based on what my mind can grasp this side of Heaven is something completely different.

What do I know about my King?

Matthew 6:25-27: "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

Matthew 6:30-33: But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 10:19: When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.

Exodus 4:12: Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak."

Philippians 4:6: do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

1 Peter 5:7: casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Matthew 15:13-14: 13[Jesus] answered, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit."

Luke 7:23: And blessed is the one who is not offended by me."

Isaiah 60:21: Your people shall all be righteous; they shall possess the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I might be glorified.

John 15:1-2: 1"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

1 Corinthians 3:9: 9For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

Luke 11:13: 13If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

Genesis 6:5: The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Acts 2:38: 38And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 1:3-4: 3 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, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. (cross references: 2 Corinth 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3; Rom 15:6; Eph 1:20; Eph 2:6, 3:10, 6:12; Eph 2:10; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; James 2:5; Deut 7:6, 26:18; 2 Tim 1:9; Matt 13:35; Eph 5:27; Col 1:22; 1 Thess 4:7).

Ephesians 1:5-6: In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (cross references: Eph 1:11; Rom 8:29, 30; Rom 8:15; Eph 1:9; Luke 2:14; Heb 2:4; Luke 12:32; Eph 1:12, 14; John 3:35, 10:17; Col 1:13; Matt 3:17).

Ephesians 1:7-10: 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (cross references: Col 1:14; Rom 3:24; 1 Corinth 1:30; Eph 4:30; Acts 20:28; Acts 2:38; Eph 3:8, 16; Col 1:27; Rom 2:4; Rom 16:25; Eph 1:5; Eph 1:11; Rom 8:28, 9:11; Mark 1:15; Col 1:16, 20; Eph 3:15; Phil 2:9, 10).

Ephesians 1:11-12: 11In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. (cross references: Deut 4:20, 32:9; Eph 1:14; Eph 1:5; Eph 3:11; Rev 4:11; Rom 8:28; Acts 20:27; Eph 1:6, 14; Phil 1:11).

Ephesians 1:13-14: 13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (cross references: 2 Corinth 6:7; Col 1:5; 2 Tim 2:15; Acts 13:26, 15:7; Eph 4:30; Acts 1:4; 2 Corinth 1:22; Acts 20:32; Eph 1:18; Titus 2:14; Eph 1:7; 1 Peter 2:9; Eph 1:6, 12).

To be continued…

Friday, January 08, 2010

May the Whole Earth be Filled with His Glory

With the New Year comes new hope. As a season in my life seems to be coming to a close (thankfully) I feel great anticipation of what is to come. Along with this expectation I also have a reading list started.

I am one of those people who starts three to five books at a time and now is no different. I currently have three books in various stages of being finished…but I am plugging along without leaving a single one by the wayside.

Presently on my "to read/ to finish" catalog is:

BOUNDARIES by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
HOW TO PRAY by R.A. Torrey

Excellent books I have read and highly recommend include:

SEEKING HIM by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Tim Grissom

I cannot help but think of those who (both domestic and abroad) are persecuted for their love of Christ and their desire to read God's word and other books which glorify God and praise Christ Jesus. My heart is especially with those who are imprisoned, beaten, tortured, and/or forced to watch their family suffer because they are followers of Christ. I take great comfort in Habakkuk 2:14 which reminds me,
"For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea."
I picture all nations being washed over by the word of God and swimming in understanding! I can imagine the earth basking in His radiance and bathing in His light. It makes me feel all warm and cozy.

Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen! (Psalm 72:19. ESV.)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Aroma of Christ

I, like many gals I suppose, like candles. You know the type, pretty looking and strong smelling. I actually prefer them over air fresheners when it comes to making my house smell lovely.

This Christmas I was blessed to receive an absolutely divine scented candle called "Frasier Fir" by Thymes. Its Christmas tree aroma quietly filters into the air, fills the area, and softly breezes from room to room. It's smell is not overpowering but rather gentle, pleasant, a refreshing kiss of perfume.

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 tells me,
"But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?"

1 Corinthians 1:18: For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

2 Corinthians 4:3: And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing.

Oh to be filled by God's word which brings me peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and is a sweet odor to my soul. I close my eyes and inhale deeply taking in all that He is, was, and is to come (Revelation 4:8, Isaiah 6:3, Revelation 1:4).

"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" (Revelation 5:12. ESV.)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Small Town Girl, Great Big World

Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16. ESV.)

I was born and raised in a moderately small town (which is not so small anymore). But I am thankful to my King for sending me out in His vast world and showing me what a tiny pebble I am in such an immense ocean. He provided the means for me to travel…first through my parents (when I was in high school) and then following graduation, as an employee of a well known company. I was blessed to visit France, Switzerland, Italy, Singapore, Australia, and Taiwan.

Paris, France

Mount Pilatus in Lucerne, Switzerland

The Vatican City with Sistine Chapel, Rome Italy

The Colosseum, Rome Italy

In Asia the corporation for which I worked was highly publicized and in soaring demand. As a result, its employees were treated like celebrities whenever we went out in small or large groups. We were stopped in public, asked for our autographs, and requested to pose for pictures. It was quite humbling to be held to such standards. I'm just me, a daughter of the King.

Sight seeing in Singapore.

Visiting a zoo in Australia.

Taipei, Taiwan

All this to say, what an awesome God I serve!!!
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:20. ESV.)

I am so indescribably thankful for all I have seen, for knowing I am one in well over six billion people, and for humility! Who am I? I am merely a well digger…but that is a post for another day.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Fishing and Dinner

We recently took a week to visit family in Arizona. While there I tagged along with the guys when they went fishing and then the entire family went out to dinner at "The Mining Camp Restaurant" the evening before we left.

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24. ESV.)

This is the lake where the guys went fishing.

As you can see the lake was very low.

Yes, that is how hot is was a couple of the days we were there.

The Mining Camp

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. (Psalm 36:5. ESV.)

Praying in the Closet and in the Spirit

Praying in the Closet and in the Spirit
(John Piper)

Monday, January 04, 2010

All Access Pass to Jack: Literacy for a Preschooler with Visual Impairment

All Access Pass to Jack: Literacy for a Preschooler with Visual Impairment

A New Website/Blog for the New Year

You shall therefore love the LORD your God. . . . You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul. . . . You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 11:1-19.)

I am excited to be adding a new website to my blog list on the sidebar of my blog. It is that of Noël Piper! I invite you to go over and check out her new site for the new year.

Food for Thought (as my aunt would say)

What is the balance between being submissive and passive?

What is the balance between being submissive and passive? from MarriageToday on Vimeo.

What is the balance between being submissive and passive?

The Making of a Homemaker

The Making of a Homemaker
(John Piper)

10 Resolutions for Mental Health

10 Resolutions for Mental Health
(John Piper)

Back Online

Thank you so much Karen for posting while I was offline over the past week!!! You ROCK! And I am so thankful beyond words that God has placed you in my life! You are such a good friend and faithful sister in Christ who ALWAYS is an encouragement to me! Thank you.

I am so glad to be back online and am trying to catch up on all that I missed these past seven days. Best wishes for the New Year!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

A New Year Dawns

Friday January 1, 2010

A New Year Dawns

I am feeling unusually pensive this morning. Sometimes a new year dawns with barely a whisper. Sometimes it arrives with a shout. This year I sit here on January 1 with more than a little apprehension, feeling like the new year is screaming at me. There is little doubt that this is going to be a busy year. That’s the way I like it, really, as I am easily bored, so I am not complaining. When I’ve contemplated taking something major off my schedule Aileen has always counseled me, “You need to do a lot or you will get bored.” She is probably right. Yet as I look at 2010 I see all sorts of tasks—each of which I am both looking forward to and intimidated by—staring back at me.
I have a book manuscript due in six months and at this point I have barely begun (more than preliminary research, that is). I have taken on a project to read all of the New York Times non-fiction bestsellers for a year and, while I am very much looking forward to doing all that reading, I do worry occasionally that it will prove burdensome. I want to continue reviewing a Christian book per week and also want to dedicate some time to reading substantial theological volumes. And of course I do not want to neglect or de-emphasize those things that are central to my life—time with my children, time with my wife, investing in my church family, producing good work for my clients, spending time reading the Bible and praying, and so on. I want to be busy enough to keep me interested and motivated but not so busy that I burn out. I so badly want to use this year in such a way that I use every moment, bringing glory to God in each day given to me.
To that end, here is a prayer I am praying today. It is drawn from The Valley of Vision.
O Lord,
Length of days does not profit me
except the days are passed in Thy presence,
in Thy service, to Thy glory.
Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides,
sustains, sanctifies, aids every hour,
that I may not be one moment apart from Thee,
but may rely on Thy Spirit
to supply every thought,
speak in every word,
direct every step,
prosper every work,
build up every mote of faith,
and give me a desire
to show forth Thy praise;
testify Thy love,
advance Thy kingdom.
I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,
with Thee, O Father as my harbour,
Thee, O Son, at my helm,
Thee O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.
Guide me to heaven with my loins girt,
my lamp burning,
my ear open to Thy calls,
my heart full of love,
my soul free.
Give me Thy grace to sanctify me,
Thy comforts to cheer,
Thy wisdom to teach,
Thy right hand to guide,
Thy counsel to instruct,
Thy law to judge,
Thy presence to stabilize.
May Thy fear by my awe,
Thy triumphs my joy.
And having prayed that prayer, I will also be turning to Don Whitney’s Ten Questions for the New Year to attempt to give me some context for what I do and attempt to do this year.
I believe 2010 is going to be an amazing year and I’m eager (and a little scared) to get it started.
And to you, on this day, I wish a safe and happy new year. May you know God’s richest blessings in 2010.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Proverbial perspectives at the year's turn

PyroManiacs: Setting the World on fire. `Is not My word like a fire?` says the LORD (Jeremiah 23:29).

31 December 2009

New Post

Proverbial perspectives at the year's turn

by Dan Phillips

The stroke of midnight, as 12/31 turns to 1/1, is an artificial divider, but it is as good as any. Our birthdays cast the eye backwards, in retrospection. The grim realities of math and statistics may tap some of us on the shoulder with the reminder that the number of such dates before us is likely greater than that of those remaining.

But the prospect of New Year's day naturally casts the eye ahead. We make resolutions, we make plans. Some pious souls, however, shrink back from the whole notion of planning. Is it Biblical to plan and set goals?

It certainly is... if approached rightly.

In fact, God quite emphatically insists that it is our proper duty to plan. Hear Solomon:
Man's are the heart's arrangements,
but from Yahweh is the tongue's answer
(Proverbs 16:1, literally)
It is actually a verbless verse; we must supply "are" and "is" to get anything like understandable English. Both actors are thrust up front syntactically: man in line A, God in line B. It is, emphatically, the God-ordained part of man to apply his heart, his mind, to making arrangements, to setting plans in order. But with equal emphasis, B reminds us that God has the final answer. The old saying is quite apposite: "Man proposes, but God disposes."

Consider one more of many proverbs along these lines:
The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps
(Proverbs 16:9 ESV)
Again, God intends that man use his mind to make plans, to do calculations and risk-assessments and cast up scenarios. There is no hint, here nor elsewhere, that God imposes Blackabbean slavery to mystic mumbles in non-moral areas. Adam could have eaten any fruit but one; to refuse to eat until God selected one for him would have been as sinful as eating from the prohibited tree. It is man's designed, God-ordained responsibility to make intelligent plans.

But it is God's to determine both the course and the outcome — and He discharges His responsibility quite adequately (Proverbs 16:33; 20:24; Romans 11:36; Ephesians 1:11). None need concern himself that a man doing what a man should do will prevent God from what God infallibly does. In fact, it is quite literally impossible for a man to frustrate God's eternal purpose (Proverbs 19:21; 21:30; Daniel 4:35).

So: it is right and proper for me to look to the future and make plans. Plan! Plan to do something. To fail to plan to do something is to plan to do nothing. Just do something!

However, at the same time, all our plans must be made in pencil, for we are warned:
Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring.
(Proverbs 27:1)
While it is true that our plans cannot frustrate God's counsel, it is equally true that His counsel can frustrate our plans. It is lazy, insolent unbelief to refuse to plan; but it is just as foolish to plan and assume, to plan without allowing for the ever-imperative "D.V." — Deo volente, "God willing" (cf. James 3:13-17).

So feel free to make plans and resolutions. Find a way that suits you, if not today, then some day soon.

Seek God's Biblical wisdom to plan and do, to the greater glory of Him who saved us.

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