Thursday, February 25, 2010

Jesus and All Things

Is Colossians 1:15-20 the most important paragraph in the Bible for a Christian worldview?

[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For 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. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And 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. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.


© Desiring God

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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Congratulations!

Congratulations to Jackie Dubrule on her new book HEART OF GOLD: POEMS FROM GOD AND MY HEART. Click here to find her book at Publish America!

Sticking with the Lord

With so much to get done each day (Proverbs 31:10-31) it can get a little overwhelming and I find my mind wondering, "I'm I doing what I should be doing?" There always seems to be other things that taunt. But which items are of the flesh (and of man) and which are pleasing to the Lord?

Ephesians 5:15-17 reminds me to
"[l]ook carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is."


What is the will of the Lord in my life? Is it the same as His will in your life or that of a friend? Most likely not, though all can seek His laws and instruction from His word.

6"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Matthew 5:6. ESV.)

For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:20. ESV.)

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10. ESV.)

11And God said to him, "Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. 13 I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. 14And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days." (1 Kings 3:11-14. ESV.)

8for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:8. ESV.)

1 Timothy 6:6: Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment,

Psalm 37:4: Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:9: For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.

Psalm 37:11: But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.

Psalm 84:11: For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.

Psalm 112:2: 2His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.

Psalm 145:19: 19He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.


9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. (1 Peter 3:9. ESV.)


I feel there is much to gain for being diligent in God's word, knowing the way of the righteous and walking upright, speaking that which is in God's word regularly, and teaching it to His little lambs.

5You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9. ESV.)

Books We're Reading Around Here

Books We're Reading Around Here
(Desiring God Ministries: Tyler Kenney)

A couple days ago, John Piper gave his recommendation for a book he recently finished: Same Kind of Different As Me.

For what it's worth, here are some of the books the rest of us at DG are reading.
Continue reading this post.

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Urban Church Planting

Urban Church Planting
(Sovereign Grace Ministries: Dave Harvey)

When people think of church planting in Sovereign Grace Ministries, the idea of reaching Starbucks-studded suburbia often comes to mind. And obviously we have more suburban churches than urban ones, at least here in the U.S. of A.


Continue reading this post.

Monday, February 22, 2010

If One Member Suffers, All Suffer Together

1Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2And the LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?" 3Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4And the angel said to those who were standing before him, "Remove the filthy garments from him." And to him he said, "Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments." 5And I said, "Let them put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by. (Zechariah 3:1-5. ESV.)


This Sunday, the pastor at the Sovereign Grace church plant I attended quoted this scripture and a portion of it stuck out to me. So, I am going to take it out of context for this post.

1Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2And the LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?" (Zechariah 3:1-2. ESV.)


When I read this I saw a picture in my mind of a courtroom where God is the presiding Judge, satan is the prosecutor, and one of God's own is on trial. To paint this picture further I am going to pluck a popular story out of current events in the media. Some may not have heard of the accusations that have been brought against Christian World Adoption (CWA) but CBS news did a story just recently in the United States (and a few months ago in Australia) condemning CWA for child trafficking (of all foolishness)!

In a rebuttal interview with CWA's attorney, he replies to the question (one of many questions) as to why CWA is suing regarding the false accusations brought against them by stating,
"The only way CWA can get a full airing of the facts, the only place they can open the file and address the things in detail, not secrets, not innuendos by hidden witnesses. The only way CWA can have a full airing of this is in court."
Which brings me back to Zechariah 3:1-2.

Now, being I cannot see the hearts of those who run CWA I have to trust their words. And their expressions tell me they are followers of Christ. (Further, I personally know someone who is a witness of the way CWA operates.) As one in the body of Christ, I support others in the body. I have to say, "Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?" and stand firm for the glory of God.

33Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. (Romans 8:33. ESV.)

Isaiah 50:8-9: 8 He who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me. 9 Behold, the Lord GOD helps me; who will declare me guilty? Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up.

Revelation 12:10-11: 10And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.


Whether it is CWA or another Christ follower who is facing adversity, iniquity, prosecution, and/or persecution…they NEED the body of Christ to help sustain them!!! Which, isn't that why God gave us the body of Christ in the first place (1 Corinthians 12:12-31. ESV.)…so none belonging to Him would ever have to fight alone? Not to mention, the enemy is merciless, unyielding, relentless, and utterly ruthless! If the body judges and is divided against each other and does not stand up for one another than who will?

21The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." 22On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. (1 Corinthians 12:21-26. ESV.)

Friday, February 19, 2010

God's Continued Blessings

As I have already mentioned here and here, God is so faithful in providing precious blessings for me! Yesterday is another sensational example.

I was feeling in a funk (Psalm 42:11) and could not seem to figure out why I felt conflicted, unsettled…(Fighting my sin of pride again I presume.). Anyway, as God would have it, I was invited by a loved one (thank you so much) for a FREE WEEK at the gym! Seven days of exercising bliss! Not to mention they offer free childcare (two hours at each gym so I could get six hours between the three of them)!

Touring the gym was tantalizing in itself. I could not wait to hit the equipment, steam rooms, sauna, and hot tub. Sounds delightful, doesn't it?

Again I have to say how thankful I am for a loving, all knowing, all powerful God in my corner who knows exactly what is best for me at the precise time in which it benefits me most!

I cannot put into words how PERFECT this free week is for me at this time! It is EXACTLY what the Good Physician ordered!

"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" (Hebrews 13:5. ESV.)

"Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you." (Luke 6:38. ESV.)

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

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever!" (1 Coronicles 16:34. ESV.)

Pyromaniacs: Jingoistic "Contextualization"

Pyromaniacs: Jingoistic "Contextualization"

Cash for Books

I just read about this on another person's blog. Get cash for books at cash4books.net. Thought I would share. :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sovereign Grace Ministries

For those who do not know, I LOVE to travel! That is my FAVORITE gift from the Lord!
The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. (Psalm 121:8. ESV.)




Did you know that Sovereign Grace Ministries has church plants in 25+ states in the United States?
17who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the LORD may not be as sheep that have no shepherd." (Numbers 27:17. ESV.)




I have had the pleasure of visiting three of them so far (in the states of Arizona, Delaware, and Florida) and have to say it is such a blessing to know that when I am out roaming around I can depend on a doctrinally sound church to be wherever I end up.
3Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. (Proverbs 3:3. ESV.)




5You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9. ESV.)




10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. (Proverbs 18:10. ESV.)




Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above. (James 1:17. ESV.)




"Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9. ESV.)


Colossians: the city, its inhabitants, its church

Get a bit of a history and geography lesson over at the Pyromanicacs site. Click on Colossians: the city, its inhabitants, its church to head on over there.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Refinement/ Pruning: Pride

I can give clear examples of how God has refined me throughout the past four years. Mainly, the pruning pertained to me trusting God completely…to my delight and horror it has taken a turn…to pride. Pride! Yikes, Lord! No thank you.

I once heard someone say, "It's not if we are prideful but rather how we are prideful." (Yet, I do not know from where that quote came. I have tried looking it up a few times.) In other words, everyone struggles with pride in one way or another. Lately, when I have prayed for God to search me and know my heart (Psalm 139:23) the one thing that has been brought to light repeatedly is my lack of humility regarding God's provisions.

Instead of being joyful in what God has been so graciously providing for me through His servants (Psalm 119:91), I have felt bad. You see, I have been listening to myself instead of preaching to myself. My flesh tells me, "I can take care of it. I don't need anyone's help." What an ugly, self centered thought! Instead of accepting blessings gracefully, I have felt sad to "impose" on others. But, what do I expect…for God to reach His mighty hand down and hand things to me directly? Of course not!

Further, if I wanted to bless someone else I would not wish for him or her to reject it. I would desire for the person to allow it and not feel they owed me anything in return. In this season I need to receive with grace. It will be my turn to give to someone else in another season.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16. ESV.)

6Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:6. ESV.)

Wordless Wednesday


Bungee Jumping
"Look mom and dad, no hands!"

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Detecting Toxins

Detecting Toxins
(Our Daily Bread)

If you know the truth, you can discern what’s false.

How I Almost Quit

I cannot help but smile as I look at the title of this and the link from which it came…John Piper, my favorite teacher. And if my instructor felt this way from time to time then I should not feel bad that I do as well.

Just this morning I was thinking to myself (regarding my current season), "Lord, this is too hard. You have picked the wrong servant. Maybe I should just give up, go back to the sin ruled situation from which I came, and let the chips fall where they may (instead of standing firm and waiting where I am)."

Thankfully, God knows my heart and my thoughts before I even go to Him in prayer. I was delighted to see John Piper's blog post sitting in my email inbox waiting to encourage me. Thank you, Lord!

John Piper begins by stating,
"Are you so discouraged you don’t know what to do next? I want to help you get through this. Maybe this will help.

"The following quote is from my journal dated November 6, 1986. I had been at Bethlehem 6 years. If you have ever felt like this, remember this is 24 years ago and I am still here.

"The point is: Beware of giving up too soon. Our emotions are not reliable guides."
He goes on to say much, much more. Click here to go to the post.

1I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
3He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber
.
4Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep. (Psalm 121:1-4. ESV.)


Praise be to God!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Kirk Cameron Interviews John MacArthur

Oh boy, I just adore Kirk Cameron. Infact, true story, when I was in the fifth grade my teacher (for Valentine's Day) asked each of us students, "If you could get a Valentine from anyone in the world, who would you choose." I wrote down, "Kirk Cameron". Wouldn't you know I received a Valentine that very day that said, "Happy Valentine's Day from Mrs. Davis and Kirk Cameron." It makes me smile just thinking about it.

Anyway, I was over at Youtube and happened to stumble upon an interview by Kirk Cameron with John MacArthur and thought I would share:

"Kirk Cameron Interviews John MacArthur (#1 of 3)"


"Kirk Cameron Interviews John MacArthur (#2 of 3)"


"Kirk Cameron Interviews John MacArthur (#3 of 3)"


And for good measure I'll include "The Kirk Story w/ John MacArthur"

Husband and wife

Husband and wife
(Ray Ortlund)

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


A short yet lovely read by Ray Ortlund. Click here to read his post.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Lord’s Servant Must Not Be Quarrelsome But Kind to Everyone

Today was a tough day. It started out innocent enough, appearing like just another day, shadowing yesterday and the day before it. But that, infact, was not the case. Goodness, my mind is full of thoughts and things I want to write but first I desire to take every thought captive and then go from there in a Christ honoring, God glorifying way.

Have you ever spoken to someone who when they repeated back what they thought you said, had it twisted, confused, and/or perhaps exaggerated? Maybe it didn't even resemble what you really said at all? For example:

Me: I feel we should work as a unit.

Person: That concerns me.

Me: Why?

Person: Because people either work as a team or go their separate directions. No one is the same.

Me: I didn't say I want us to be the same, I said I feel we should work as a unit, a team.

Person: No, you want me to think exactly like you.

Me: That's not what I said.

I wish I could give a better case in point but my brain feels so fried from really concentrating on the words that left my lips and what was being heard as they reached a listening ear today. Anyway, I guess the question on my mind is, how does one converse with someone who doesn't listen or even worse, becomes offended and/or angry by what they think they heard?

John Piper offers the following advice about what to say to someone who is depressed, doubting, skeptical, confused, and/or angry. He says,
1. Don't be offended.
First, resist the temptation to be offended. Don’t pout or take your ball and go home. That’s what you may feel like. They wanted to talk, and here they are throwing my suggestions back in my face with a dismissive attitude. Don’t leave. Not yet. “Love suffers long” (1 Corinthians 13:4, NKJV).

2. Listen.
Second, listen to their responses. Part of your power is not only what you say, but how they feel about the way you listen. If your truth produces empathetic ears, it will feel more compelling. This listening will be a witness. In 2 Timothy 2:24-26, Paul describes the kind of engagement that may set people free from sin and error. One feature is “patiently enduring evil.”

3. End with hope.
Third, when you have spoken all the experiential counsel you can think of, and they seem to have demeaned it all, don’t let them have the last word of despair. You leave the last word of hope....(Piper, John. "What to Say to the Depressed, Doubting, Skeptical, Confused, Angry". 2008.)


2 Timothy 2:24-26 speaks straight to my heart. It says,
"24And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Write for $$$

Hey all you writers out there! Submit your stuff at Factoids.com and tell them I sent you. Click here and sign up today for free.

From Where Does My Help Come?

1I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
3He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep. (Psalm 121:1-4. ESV.)


God continues to remind me that all I have to do is be faithful and obedient to Him and He takes care of everything else. A small example of this is recently God placed it on my heart to send some baked goodies to a dear loved one for Valentine's Day however I did not have the means to send them. But I will have you know, the day I baked the treats God provided the way.

Each time He has lead my heart, He has also paved the way! All honor and glory are His!

On the note of Valentine's Day, The Gospel Coalition has posted "Without Love, You’re Nothing".
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. -1 Cor. 16:13-14.
Click here for the Gospel Coalition post.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Today one of my children was studying the Hanging Gardens of Babylon which were build by King Nebuchadnezzar for his wife. Now, I have great interest in Nebuchadnezzar because he reminds me to be humble. John Piper describes the account of Nebuchadnezzar this way,
"One of the most vivid illustrations of [pride taking credit for what God alone does] is the case of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon.

"[Nebuchadnezzar said], 'Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?' 31 While the word was in the king's mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, 'King Nebuchadnezzar . . . sovereignty has been removed from you . . . 32 until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever He wishes.' (Daniel 4:30-32)

"Then, after his season of humiliation grazing in the fields like an ox, Nebuchadnezzar is restored and confesses,

"Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise, exalt, and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride. (Daniel 4:37; cf. Isaiah 10:12)"
(Piper, John. "Are You Humble Enough to Be Care-Free?". 1994.)


The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were even considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Click here to read more about the Gardens.

♥ Too Many Heartbeats ♥: 50 WAYS TO ENCOURAGE A CHRONICALLY ILL FRIEND

♥ Too Many Heartbeats ♥: 50 WAYS TO ENCOURAGE A CHRONICALLY ILL FRIEND

Friday Funnies

Today's Friday Funny I could not resist when I read it about five days ago over at Today's Cliché.
"A first grade girl handed in a drawing for a homework assignment and after it was graded and the child brought it home, she returned to school the next day with a note."
Click here to see what's so funny!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Power of a Praying Wife: His Temptations, His Mind, and His Fears


Today, I am reading from THE POWER OF A PRAYING WIFE by Stormie Omartian. I read through chapters six to eight: "His Temptations", "His Mind", and "His Fears".
"She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life." (Proverbs 31:12. ESV.)



I do not think I could possibly say enough, how thankful I am for this book and HOW TO PRAY by R.A. Torrey. My gratitude just seems so inadequate given how much I am encouraged to spend more time communing with my King and praying properly.
"Our whole life should be a constant looking upward to God. We should walk so habitually in His presence that even when we awake in the night it would be the most natural thing for us to speak to Him in thanksgiving or petition." ~R.A. Torrey




"My lips will pour forth praise, for you teach me your statutes. My tongue will sing of your word, for all your commandments are right." (Psalm 119:171-172. ESV.)




"For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ," (2 Corinthians 10:3-5. ESV.)




"Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galatians 5:19-21. NKJV.)




"Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires". (Romans 13:13-14. ESV.)



My heart's desire is to be the absolute BEST helpmate possible! Though the path may be very difficult, it is clear. While it may hold immense challenges, it is to help and not harm. Although the wait is long, it reaps blessings and not consequences (not to be confused with refining and pruning). Despite the difficult obstacles the love is strong, unyielding, unconditional, joyful, compassionate, and covers a multitude of sins.
"An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. 11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.... 20She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.... 26She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 27She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:... 30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." (Proverbs 31:10-11, 20, 26-28, 30. ESV.)

Give Not Up Thy Prayers

Being I am doing quite a bit of blogging on prayer I feel the following links fit right in. The gals over at Girltalk have made a few posts regarding prayer that I would like to share:

How Do I Pray for the Unsaved?

How Do I Find Time to Pray?

“Give not up thy prayers”

I Know You Can Do All Things

Then Job answered the LORD and said: "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted." (Job 42: 1-2. ESV.)


Whenever I begin to doubt whether or not God changes people, I turn my thoughts to the apostle Paul. I dig into Acts 9 which tells of the conversion of Saul.

But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. (Acts 9:1-2. ESV.)

Acts 26:10: And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them.

Acts 22:19: And I said, 'Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you.

Acts 22:4: I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women,

Acts 8:3: But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.


So Saul of Tarsus was one ornery bugger! A huge stinker! He sinned against others but it wasn't just any kind of sin, it was sheer wickedness! (Though ALL sin in the eyes of the Lord is the same.) He "ravaged", "imprisoned", "beat", "persecuted to the death", "bound", etc. both men and women believers! Could God save such a man as this? Would God give this man His grace?

Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" 5And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do." 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. (Acts 9:3-9. ESV.)

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord." 11And the Lord said to him, "Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight."… So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." 18And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19and taking food, he was strengthened. (Acts 9:10-12, 17-19. ESV.)


God could and did change Saul's heart…and He continues to transform hearts today. Who am I to doubt?! The best part of the account of Saul (in my opinion) is he went right out and began proclaiming Christ Jesus. Acts 9:22 says,
"But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ."


I think of beloved loved ones who are like Saul and I bring them to the foot of the throne when I am in communion with my King. I plead for their salvation (1 Timothy 2:3-5), that a new heart will be given to them, and that they will be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26). I ask my King to grab them tightly and never let go! Like with Saul, I beg for conviction upon my loved ones so they cease from sinning against others in such wicked ways.

13Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:13-15. ESV.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

(Click to enlarge.) Can you make out what is on the tree? Not leaves...

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Pyromaniacs: Spiritual transformation: half a thought on Colossians 3:12-14

Pyromaniacs: Spiritual transformation: half a thought on Colossians 3:12-14

It Depends Not on Human Will or Exertion, but on God, Who Has Mercy

14What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. (Romans 9:14-16. ESV.)


I was born in and of sin and the flesh. I did not "choose" God…I was lost, blind, self-absorbed in the dark. But I heard the Good Shepherd call, recognized His voice, and followed. While I was a sinner, Christ died for me. God "chose" me and sent His only begotten Son.

I cannot help but wonder, God can remove me from this earth tomorrow. I could die (in a great many different ways, I might add) and I would have no say in the matter…no "choice", no appeal, no debate, no rebuttal…nothing but obedience. So, with that in mind, what in the world would make me think I "choose" to accept God, His grace, and salvation? I did nothing to even deserve it.

I look to John Piper for his teaching on God's righteousness and God's will verses my will. He said,
"Paul grounds the righteousness of God by quoting Exodus 33:19: 'I will have mercy on whomever I have mercy and I will have compassion on whomever I have compassion.' To understand how this argues for God's righteousness in election we need to understand the Old Testament context of Exodus 33:19. Exodus 33:18, 19 say,

"'Then Moses said [to God], 'I pray thee, show me thy glory!' And He said, 'I myself will make my goodness pass before you and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.'

"In Exodus 34:6 when the theophany actually takes place we read, 'The Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, 'The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious...' What emerges from these two texts is that the essential revelation of God is not what Moses saw but what God said. God's glory was revealed in what he said about himself. In both 33:19 and 34:6 the essential element of his glory revealed was his grace or compassion, and specifically in 33:19 his freedom to have compassion on whom he wills….

"God's words in Romans 9:15 mean that it is an essential part of his glory that he be unbound in choosing the beneficiaries of his mercy. That is, He would be less glorious, indeed He would not be fully God if he were under obligation to any particular human distinctive. He would be dethroned if his bestowal of mercy were dependent on anything outside of Himself. If he waited to see how men 'will' or 'run' (9:16) before he showed mercy, he would be limited by them and therefore not all glorious. As Exodus 33:19 shows, his glory is his freedom from all human claims.

"Therefore, since God's righteousness consists in his acting unswervingly for his own name's sake (=glory) and since his glory consists largely in his sovereign freedom in election, God is not unrighteous to disregard human deeds and distinctives in choosing whom he wills to bless. In fact he must pursue his purpose of election in this way in order to remain righteous, for only in his sovereign, free bestowal of mercy on whomever he wills is God acting out of a full delight in his own glory....

"...Verse 16 draws the obvious inference from verse 15. Whether a man receives mercy from God or not does not depend on a man's willing or his running (=efforts) but solely on God. In other words, God's merciful treatment of anyone is never initiated by or in any way ultimately influenced by the person's will. This is a necessary inference from verse 15: The all glorious God whose glory consists in his freedom to choose whomever He will cannot be determined by or obligated by anything outside himself.

"If free will were defined as the native power in a man to determine his own destiny, this text shows that there is no such thing in the entire world. It not only shows free will to be non-existent, it also shows that to demand free will is an offence against the righteousness of God. For in Paul's understanding the inability of man by his willing to elicit God's mercy (9:16) is a direct inference from the glorious freedom of God (9:15) which in turn is the ground of his righteousness. If God's righteousness consists in his maintaining the fullness of his glory, and if an essential side of that glory is his absolute freedom in election from human willing and running, then to insist that man's will ultimately determines his destiny is to offend the righteousness of God." (Piper, John. "The Argument of Romans 9:14-16". 1976. By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org)


Piper goes on to say,
"…Paul says in Galatians 5:1, 'For freedom Christ has set you free. Do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.' So true freedom is being set free from the bondage where what we wanted to do destroyed us.

Now, after new birth, what we want to do is God's will. And in that freedom we act rationally according to what really exists. Thus God gets great glory both for the liberation that he performed on our behalf and for the praises that we now bring him, not as people who are enslaved to sin, but as free people who are seeing the world for what it really is.

God gets glory in being praised for being seen for who he really is. Previously we couldn't see him for who he really is because we hated it so much. And now we do see him for who he really is, and therefore our praises are rational and clear and good, and he gets maximum glory for our obedience, faith, and praise.

So I don't believe in free will if you define it as man's ultimate self-determination. I believe free will as, 'you can do whatever you please.' Before you're born again what you please is self destructive and sinful. After you're born again, what you please is the will of God. So in both cases you have free will in that definition.

But what most people who are sophisticated, theological, and philosophically-oriented mean by free will—over against what I believe—is 'man's ultimate self-determination.' And I don't think there is any such thing, especially since the Fall when our self-determination became always in bondage to sin and therefore self-destructive." (Piper, John. "Is God less glorious for choosing us rather than having us choose him?". 2008. By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org)

Chinese New Year

Being my first date with my husband was Chinese New Year in Singapore (and what a blast that was!) this holiday holds a special (sentimental) place in my heart.

As God would have it, a fellow follower of Christ is counting down to Chinese New Year on her site. Her post is full of fun facts about the holiday. Enjoy!

Chinese New Year - Traditions & Customs
(by I'm a Full Time Mummy)

Monday, February 08, 2010

Tim Tebow Superbowl Commercial

Did you really think I wasn't going to post it? GO GATORS!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Christian Hedonism 101

Christian Hedonism 101
(Desiring God Ministries: Jonathan Parnell)

For the first time in its history the Desiring God Conference for Pastors, which took place last week, was devoted to the subject of Christian Hedonism—the teaching that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

In conjunction with the conference, it seemed good to revisit and remember some of those glad verses within the Psalter that command us to pursue our joy in God.

Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones; and shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart. (Psalm 32:11)

Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones; praise is becoming to the upright. (Psalm 33:1)

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy; for You will judge the peoples with uprightness and guide the nations on the earth. (Psalm 67:4)

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. (Psalm 100:1)


For a fuller introduction to Christian Hedonism and its deep and broad biblical roots, I recommend checking out John Piper's Desiring God seminar (5 parts).

© Desiring God

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

God Is So Good

God Is So Good from Glenn H on Vimeo.


"Kids from Soweto Academy in Kibera singing in music class."

God is so good,
God is so good,
God is so good,
He’s so good to me!

He cares for me,
He cares for me,
He cares for me,
He’s so good to me!

I love Him so,
I love Him so,
I love Him so,
He’s so good to me!

I praise His Name,
I praise His Name,
I praise His Name,
He’s so good to me!

Friday, February 05, 2010

God Truly Provides: A Testimony

I can give testament to this! I can tell you how God has been working in my own life. (He has been for as long as I can remember though I did not appreciate it until grace. However, I am going to focus on my current season which started at the end of October 2009.)

(Side note: The ONLY reason I mention any of this is to make visible God's grace, mercy, and to give Him the glory!)

I once was lost, but was found in 2006. Was blind, but for a few years now, I see much more than I ever did. I am thankful I obeyed when God placed it on my heart to up and move for a season (similar to Abraham with Canaan (Genesis 12-13), David with Egypt (Genesis 37-45), Moses and the Israelites to the promise land (Exodus 3- Deuteronomy 3), and David regarding Saul (1 Samuel 19- 1 Samuel 26)).

Though I have next to no income (perhaps $10-$20 each month, if that since I had to leave a new teaching job), a house was provided. Food has been very generously supplied to us. And I have received the blessing of clothes through gift cards and hand me downs. A dear friend brought over a moderately large bag of children's clothes just a few weeks ago! Truly I can say, my kiddos and I want for NOTHING!

As if this were not awesome enough, I have also been treated to a delicious lunch (thanks, Krit) and fantastic dinner (thank you, Inyoung) out at fabulous restaurants over the course of the past couple weeks or so. AND the boys and I were treated to a week with our cousins complete with a trip to the beach, a Children's Museum, and Chuck E. Cheese's twice!

These, I feel, are all "hugs from the Lord" (as I have heard them called). In other words, I find I reap precious blessings when I am obedient and consequences (not to be confused with refining or pruning) when I am not. Not to mention, "all things are [His] servants" (Psalm 119:91)!

I am indescribably thankful to family and friends who have listened when the Lord spoke to their hearts. Praise God!

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:33-35. ESV.)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

HOW TO PRAY by R.A. Torrey

I am currently reading three books and cannot decide if I want to blog as I read or just wait and do a book review when I am finished…hum…decisions, decisions…okay, perhaps I will do both. Or, even better, I'll begin with blogging as I go along and then if the mood strikes me I will give a review at the finish. Does that makes sense or just sound redundant? And I do not stick with the same book consistently because a have a bad habit of reading three to five at a time (as I have mentioned before). But now I'm just babbling so without further ado…

(Disclaimer: Please pardon my frankness but I have to say, I generally do NOT mention anything on my blog with which I disagree. My thought being, bad press is still press so I prefer to do a little research on the author, teacher, various people, etc. and stand behind them and their book/causes. Whether it is John Piper, John MacArthur, Jonathan Edwards, Tim Tebow (who just happens to be on my favorite football team - GO GATORS), Gianna Jessen, or anyone in between, I love showing my support however do not wish to be lead astray (or encourage anyone else off course). My focus is the glory of God.)

Thus far today I have been reading from HOW TO PRAY by R.A. Torrey. In an effort to "get to know" Torrey a little bit better I sought out information on the internet. I stopped by Monergism.com and was able to find one link.

Personally, I have found Torrey's HOW TO PRAY quite encouraging. It is a pint size book containing all of 107 pages so, really, I should be able to read through this book once a month or more. Currently, I am on chapter 11 out of 12. With a desire to be more disciplined in my time of prayer, this book has offered scripture and guidance in doing so. Among many other good points, Torrey stated the following,
"Our whole life should be a life of prayer. We should walk in constant communion with God. There should be a constant looking upward to God. We should walk so habitually in His presence that even when we awake in the night it would be the most natural thing for us to speak to Him in thanksgiving or petition."


While reading I have become so excited to share! I wish I could place the text in its entirety here but alas readers will have to purchase this book or borrow it from the library. I believe I can say, Torry writes there is power in prayer, it is lead by and in the Holy Spirit, unto God, without ceasing, with great emotion, with our whole soul, with unbearable longing, in obedience, according to His word and His will, in sincerity, in the name of Christ Jesus and His atoning blood, believing, without fainting, never giving up, without sin or selfishness, with thanksgiving, with the purpose of God's glory, in the morning and in the evening (even all night if called for). But that is only scratching the surface.

I am thankful my Aunt D. gave me this book for Christmas and look forward to more precious time at the foot of the throne, communing with my King. And I am grateful beyond words that God chose me even though I did not choose Him. I had chosen myself. To God be the glory!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Holy Spirit: Author of Scripture

Fabulous messages from John Piper (as always):

The Holy Spirit: Author of Scripture
Listen
2 Peter 1:20-21: First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.


Holding Fast the Word of Life in 2010
Listen
Watch
Philippians 2:14-16: Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

Adopted for Life . . . and Death

Okay, I am going post crazy today but there are so many great links I want to share! This one is from Albert Mohler's blog. Click here to read his touching story "Adopted for Life...and Death". Happy reading!

Why the Tim Tebow Ad Is Already a Success

Click here to read Carolyn McCulley's post as to why she feels the Tim Tebow Ad Is Already a Success.

GO GATORS!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

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