Saturday, June 30, 2007

Pray For Emily In England

My sister-in-law Emily is on a mission to England with Word of Life Fellowship. While there, they will conduct Vacation Bible Schools for various evangelical churches, and engage in other evangelistic activities. They will, of course, also spend some time sightseeing. Emily has listed some prayer requests here, and when I talked to her yesterday (as she was en route to the airport) she asked for prayer concerning her accommodations in England (she'd rather not stay alone with a host family and she'd like to have a good roommate). Also, in light of the spate of car-bombings in Great Britain over the past few days, pray for the safety of Emily and her fellow-workers. Please pray that the Lord would use Emily and the entire WOL team for his glory as they proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in a once-Christian nation.

Read some facts about England here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pray For Brazil

Our friends James and Christen left for Brazil yesterday. They'll spend a couple of years under the tutelage of James' parents, Phil and Mary Ruth, in the city of Curitiba before beginning a work of their own in the city of Florianapolis.

You can read about the country of Brazil HERE. Visit James and Christen's blog HERE.

*Blessed* Blog

My sister Laura has started a blog called *Blessed*. In her first post she states her reason for starting a blog, and I think it's good:
My purpose for creating this blog is to write down the blessings, activities, and even struggles of my everyday life. I hope this will encourage me to stop and think about my life and realize how blessed I truly am by MY faithful Lord.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Jesus Christ in 1 Peter 4 & 5

Read 1 Peter 4 HERE and 5 HERE.

  • suffered in the flesh (4:1, 5:1).
  • expected to do so (4:1).
  • lived for the will of God (4:2).
  • brings glory to the Father when his people serve by grace (4:11).
  • will be revealed in glory in the future (4:13).
  • is an offense to unbelievers (4:14).
  • is the chief Shepherd (5:4).
  • will bestow glory on faithful under-shepherds when he returns (5:4).
  • is the appointed channel through which God calls men to eternal glory (5:10).

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Are You a Member of a Local Church? Then Bookmark This Blog!

9Marks Ministries has launched a blog called Church Matters, which "aims to stimulate a helpful conversation among pastors, church leaders, and Christians about life together in the local church." Mark Dever intends to get things started "by doing a brief series of 10 influences that I think God has used to bring about the current resurgence of reformed theology among the young."

I should also mention that my friend Ben, who blogs as Paleoevangelical, is listed as a potential occasional contributor. Listed as a regular contributor is a new friend, Ryan Townsend, who is the administrator and children's ministry director at our church.

(HT: Between Two Worlds)

Summer Bible Reading

Summer means time to read my Bible a lot! If you're serious about building your Bible knowledge and growing closer in fellowship and likeness to the God of the Bible, maybe THIS Bible reading plan is for you. It first came to my attention late last year over at Between Two Worlds. Here's the gist of it:
1. Choose a book of the Bible.
2. Read it in its entirety.
3. Repeat #2 twenty times.
4. Repeat this process for all 66 books of the Bible.

Christians often talk about having a Biblical worldview yet most have only a rudimentary knowledge of the Bible. They attempt to build a framework without first gathering the lumber and cement needed to create a solid foundation. The benefits of following this process should therefore be obvious. By fully immersing yourself into the text you’ll come to truly know the text. You’ll deepen your knowledge of the Bible as a whole and be able to put each book into context.

Read the entire post for some practical pointers to get you started. I suppose it would take a few years to read every book of the Bible twenty times, but imagine reading a half-dozen of the shorter New Testament letters twenty times this summer. Imagine the difference it could make in your life . . .

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

For JS & JB (You Know Who You Are!)

Check out THIS LIST OF QUESTIONS guaranteed to spark plenty of conversation (and provide plenty of insight) on your next date. This list comes courtesy of the Family Room Blog of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD, which provides lots of helpful articles and resources aimed at strengthening Christian families.

Bauder: Thinking About the Gospel

Kevin Bauder has produced two excellent posts seeking to answer the question, "What is the gospel?" Read part 1 HERE, and part 2 HERE. Here's a brief quote from part 1 to whet your appetite:
Today we are faced with a multiplicity of gospels. The message of the gospel is understood in terms of political liberation, social reconstruction, initiation into a body of secret teaching, synergistic cooperation in the work of salvation, reshaping of consciousness, divinization of the individual, liberation from the feeling of embarrassed shame that is wrongly called “guilt,” and any number of other constructs.
And here's a passage from part 2:
The explanations are the key to the gospel. Without the explanations, the gospel does not exist. The explanations give God’s perspective on the events, rendering their true meaning and making them applicable by humans. Such theologically centered explanations have a name. They are called doctrines. To say that the explanations are key to the gospel is to say that doctrine is key to the gospel.

Jesus Christ in 1 Peter 3

Read 1 Peter 3 HERE.

  • is to be revered in the believer's heart as holy, which inspires confidence to answer opponents and face persecution (3:15).
  • suffered once for sins as a substitute for unrighteous people (3:18).
  • is righteous (3:18).
  • suffered in order to bring those unrighteous people to God (3:18).
  • died in the flesh (3:18).
  • was made alive in the spirit (3:18).
  • went in the spirit to proclaim a message to imprisoned spirits (3:19).
  • was resurrected (3:21).
  • has gone into heaven (3:22).
  • is now at the right hand of the throne of God (3:22).
  • possesses full authority over the spirit realm--angels, authorities, and powers (3:22).

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ruth Bell Graham, 1920 - 2007

From the Charlotte Observer:
Ruth Bell Graham, a medical missionary's daughter who became the wife of the world's foremost evangelist yet shined outside his shadow in her own right, died at 5:05 p.m. today at home in Montreat in the N.C. mountains. Graham was 87 when she died after several years of declining health spent mostly at the home she shared with her husband, evangelist Billy Graham.
MORE . . .

Photo essay

"Sin destroys, ruins, kills."

From a post over at Pyromaniacs:
6. People locked into a sin are impervious to logic, facts and Scripture (cf. Genesis 3:9-10)

7. People locked into a sin always say it's someone else's fault (cf. Genesis 3:12-13).

8. People locked into a sin hate anyone who tries to tell them the truth, no matter how humbly nor lovingly (cf. 1 Kings 22:8; John 3:19-21; Proverbs 15:12)

9. People in love with a sin will always find dire and horrendous fault with anyone who tries to part them from it (cf. Proverbs 9:7-8a).
Read the whole list HERE.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Jesus Christ in 1 Peter 2

Read 1 Peter 2 HERE.

  • builds up his people as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ, 2:4-5.
  • is a living stone rejected by men but chosen and precious in the sight of God, 2:4.
  • will not allow those who trust him to be put to shame, 2:6.
  • is a stumbling stone and an offense to those who do not believe, 2:7.
  • has a people for his own name, 2:9.
  • has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light, 2:9.
  • suffered for everyone who believes, 2:21.
  • left his people an example of suffering in order that they might follow in his steps, 2:21.
  • was reviled, but did not revile in return, 2:23.
  • suffered, but did not threaten those who afflicted him, 2:23.
  • continually entrusted himself to the One who judges justly, 2:23.
  • bore our sins in his own body on the tree, 2:24.
  • healed those who believe by being wounded himself, 2:24.
  • is the Shepherd and Overseer of the believer's soul, 2:25.

Jesus Christ in 1 Peter 1

Read 1 Peter 1 HERE.

  • has sent messengers (apostles) into the world, 1:1.
  • has chosen a group of people to obey him, 1:2.
  • these people have been sprinkled with his blood, 1:2.
  • is the Son of God the Father, 1:3.
  • was raised from the dead, causing his elect to be born again to a living hope and eternal inheritance, 1:3-4 & 21.
  • will be revealed in the future (come again), 1:6-7.
  • will honor those whose faith is genuine when he is revealed, 1:6-7.
  • is loved by those whom he has saved, 1:8.
  • is not presently seen by his people, 1:8.
  • is trusted by his people, who rejoice in the hope of seeing him face-to-face, 1:8.
  • led the prophets by his Spirit to predict his sufferings and subsequent glory, 1:11.
  • will bring grace to his followers at his revelation, 1:13.
  • ransomed, like an unblemished lamb, a people for himself, delivering them from the futile way of life they inherited from their fathers, 1:18.
  • was known before the world began but revealed in these last days for the sake of those who believe, 1:20.
  • was given glory by his Father after his resurrection, 1:21.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Sgt. Pepper

On this date in 1967 the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Watch a brief documentary and listen to the album HERE. For a purely naturalistic explanation of the Beatles' enduring popularity around the world check out THIS PIECE in today's Washington Post.

I still remember the first time I listened to Sgt. Pepper. It was the mid-90's and I was in high school. It was on cassette tape. Interest in the Beatles had revived at that time because of the Beatles Anthology project--a long documentary, a book, and three albums chronicling the history of the band. The film was broadcast on ABC television and two new Beatles tracks had been released on the Anthology albums. I didn't realize it at the time, but listening to the Beatles and reading about them marked the beginning of a personal quest (circuitous though it was) for the ultimate, for authenticity and originality. I liked it that they wrote their own songs and played their own instruments; I liked the sentiments of most of their songs, and that each of them sang on the albums. Also, they looked cool with their longish hair and mustaches. Of course, I soon discovered that the Beatles couldn't live up to the ideals of their own songs, and didn't even really try. They sang "We Can Work It Out," but couldn't work out the differences which led to the band's demise. They sang "All You Need Is Love," but their violent personal lives revealed that they didn't really believe it.

From the Beatles I found out about Bob Dylan. They cited him as an important influence, and so I started listening to him. Dylan soon eclipsed the Beatles in my esteem and became my ideal of authenticity and originality. I came to think of the Beatles as derivative, and Dylan as original. I soon found out that Dylan had gone through a "born-again" phase in the late-1970's and early 1980's. I listened to a couple of those albums. They fascinated me. The album Slow Train Coming starts with a song called, "Gotta Serve Somebody" in which Dylan points out that we all serve someone. Nobody's really free. As Tim Keller has so eloquently pointed out, we're all "born worshipers."At this point my quest for the ultimate began to curve back to where I had started. On his Christian albums, Dylan pointed to Jesus Christ as the only Lord and Savior and Judge, the only one who is perfectly authentically who he claims to be, the Ultimate One. Dylan was hated for a while for saying such things, but it didn't last. He swore he would never go back to singing his old songs, but he eventually did. During his "born-again" phase he often launched into long sermonic monologues during concerts, exhorting his fans to repent of their sins and turn to Christ. But those eventually disappeared as well. After a while, he stopped talking about Christianity altogether. I realized that Dylan was a hypocrite, just like the Beatles.

About the time I was becoming disillusioned with Dylan, the book The Pleasures of God fell into my hands, and my life was changed forever. Jesus Christ (not Piper--to this day I find him somewhat tedious to read) won me over as the Ultimate One. I began to see that he's the only One who lived up to the principles He preached. He alone is always consistent with Himself. He is what He claims to be. He alone is perfectly holy, just, true, patient, kind, compassionate, pure, majestic--on and on. Anything praiseworthy in the world derives its excellence from Him. What I love about the best Christians I know is not them, but Christ in them. All things glorious are derivative; only God is glorious in Himself. By God's grace, I had come full-circle and was renewed in my commitment to love Jesus Christ with my whole heart and serve Him only. I came to realize that my chief end--"to glorify God and enjoy Him forever"--necessarily excluded the possibility of living to glorify other things, and that no created thing ought to eclipse Him in my affections.

So I have cause to be thankful today, because in His strange providence God used Sgt. Pepper to help me see the glory of Jesus Christ.

[C]onsider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God's house. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses--as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.
(Hebrews 3:1-6)