8.31.2010

Ezekiel 9-12

9 - God's people killed if they don't grieve Israel's idolatry
10 - God's glory moves above the temple; coals/fire from the wheels scattered over the city in judgment

11 - Jerusalem's current wicked counselors judged; restoration promised; God's glory moves to Olive Mt.

12 - Ezekiel to act out exile, complete with baggage, and moving from his house to another part of the city. Israel doesn't think judgment will come, but it is near.

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Ezekiel 5-8

5 - Ezekiel to shave his hair and do to it what will happen to Israel: burned, scattered, struck, and a remnant saved. Because of Israel's disobedience and her abominations.

6 - "I will scatter your bones around your altars," leaving a few to remember Him.

7 - Judgment day has come. Israel craved gold, but it can't save them now. They will lie dead in the streets, while the prophet, priest and kings lack vision, law or counsel.

8 - God shows Israel's highest leaders continuing to worship idols, right in the temple itself. "Have you seen what [they] are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures?" (12).

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8.28.2010

Ezekiel 1-4

1 - Ezekiel in Babylon sees the glory of God, which can move anywhere, in four living creatures, a throne, and a bright rainbow.

2 - God sends Ezekiel to Irsael, a rebellious house. They do not eat what God gives them.

3 - God makes Ezekiel eat a book of His words, to take to Israel with firm resolve to overcome their stubbornness. He is lifted up by the Spirit to Babylon (like Phillip in Acts 8?). God says Ezekiel is responsible for Israel's destruction, if He has message for them from God and doesn't deliver it.

4 - Ezekiel is to make a model of Jerusalem's siege, lay on his side as many days as the exile will be in years, and eat a coarse and stingy diet, as those in exile will.

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8.27.2010

Forgiveness unites; refusal to do so separates

Perhaps you heard this week in baseball of the bad call by umpire Jim Joyce, that cost Detroit Tigers’ pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game. With 2 out in the ninth inning, with no hits or walks allowed, the 27th batter of the night against Galarraga hits an infield grounder, and the ball beats him to first by almost a full stride. Galarraga himself catches the ball. But the ump calls him safe. The replay shows it was obviously a bad call. With much of the baseball world outraged in that moment, what did Galarraga do? He smiled at the umpire. No in your face argument. Just smiled. Later on, the umpire apologized to the near perfect pitcher. And Galarraga forgave him.

There are lessons here. When you mess up. Confess it. Don’t blame anybody else. Don’t make excuses. Own up to it. Admit it. And ask forgiveness. When someone wrongs you and then confesses it and seeks your forgiveness, forgive him. If we don’t do this, our sins will separate us from God, and they will separate us from each other.

6/6/10

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Lamentations

1 - Jerusalem has fallen, stripped and violated by her enemies.
2 - God has brought destruction without pity. Priests, women, children killed. Enemies vaunting.
3 - God has given me bitterness and gall, trapping me with His nets. But His mercy and faithfulness are daily renewed.
3 - God has punished us for our sins. We cannot complain, but I do weep and grieve. They mock me, but you will give them their due.
4 - The dead are better off than the survivors, who wander the streets without food or shelter. "This was for the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests,
who shed in the midst of her the blood of the righteous" (13).
5 - We are wasting away. Women raped, elders disrespected, young men doing menial tasks, princes executed, all economically oppressed. God reigns and can restore us - do so, Lord!

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8.26.2010

Books bought on vacation (for a song!)

In no particular order.
Best selection of books for hundreds of miles around
From Baker (Grand Rapids publisher) used bookstore

A Journey in Grace: A Theological Novel
Richard Belcher

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding the Bible
Fee/Stuart

Hal Lindsey and Biblical Prophecy
Cornelius VanderWaal

Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know
E.D. Hirsch, Jr.
Advocates of Reform: From Wyclif to Erasmus (Hus and others)
Library of Christian Classics - original works
Modern American Religion: The Irony of it all - 1893-1919
Martin E. Marty
Divorce
John Murray
Transforming Grace
Jerry Bridges
Principles of Conduct
John Murray
Discovering the Intimate Marriage
R.C. Sproul
Call the Sabbath a Delight
Walter Chantry
Reason within the Bounds of Religion
Nicholas Wolterstorff
Minister's Worship Handbook
James Robertson
By This Standard: The Authority of God's Law Today
Greg Bahnsen
Christian Living in the Home
Jay Adams
Evidence that Demands a Verdict
Josh McDowell
No Little People
Francis Schaeffer
Reaching Out without Dumbing Down: A Theology of Worship
Marva Dawn
Creative Imagination in Preaching
Webb Garrison
Protestant Reformed bookstore in Hudsonville
The Christian Life
Sinclair Ferguson
William of Orange: the Silent Prince
W.G. Van de Hulst
Treasures of the Snow
Patricia St. John
The Reformation in Scotland
John Knox
Christian Leaders of the 18th Century
JC Ryle

From a used bookstore in downtown Holland
The Waning of the Middle Ages
John Huizenga

The Secret of Father Brown
G.K. Chesterton

Cry, the Beloved Country
Alan Paton

The Crisis of Islam
Bernard Lewis

Truth in All Its Glory: Commending the Reformed Faith
William Edgar

The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age
Simon Schama



From Eerdman’s (Grand Rapids publisher) bookstore
Deep discounts on slightly damaged books

Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress
Oliver Hunkin

The Innkeeper
John Piper

Warriors of the Lord: The Military Orders of Christendom
Michael Walsh

The Mystery of Marriage
Mike Mason

C.S. Lewis
Poems

C.S. Lewis
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis
Alan Jacobs

An Introduction to Early Judaism
James VanderKam

Eat This Book
Eugene Peterson

The Heidelberg Catechism: A Study Guide
G.I. Williamson

The Old Religion in a New World
Mark Noll

The Sage from Galilee: Rediscovering Jesus’ Genius
David Flusser

Kingdom, Grace, Judgment
Robert Farrar Capon


Grand Rapids publisher - specializing in Puritans
The Work of the Pastor
William Still
Studies in Theology
Loraine Boettner
Faith of our Fathers: A Study of the Nicene Creed
L. Charles Jackson
The Christ of the Prophets
O. Palmer Robertson
Augustine of Hippo
Simonetta Carr
Bible Lessons 1-4 for Juniors (covers whole Bible)
Andrew Van Der Veer
Reformation Heroes: A Simple, Illustrated Overview of People Who Assisted in the Great Work of the Reformation
Diana Kleyn/Joel Beeke
Covers 40 reformers, the biggies and lesser knowns

From miscellaneous sources
Complete Book of Bible Lists
Joel Meredith

Atonement
Packer, Boice, Sproul, Gerstner, Ferguson, DeWitt, Begg

A Heap O’ Livin’ along Life’s Highway
Edgar Guest

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Top 13 Childrens' Books I Read on Vacation

Best is at the bottom...
13. Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman, Schroeder/Pinkney
Describes her childhood as a slave, and her early budding desire to run away.










12. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens, abridged
Good story, but recommend the unabridged, and only for older children




















11. Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson, abridged
Good story, but recommend the unabridged, and only for older children
















10. Meet the Orchestra, Ann Hayes
Short description of each instrument. Well done.







9. The Tale of Three Trees, Angela Elwell Hunt
Classic

8. Sammy and His Shepherd, Susan Hunt
Decent for 5-10 year olds

7. Blueberries for the Queen, Paterson
Very nice. Boys need “war work.”

6. The True Princess, Angela Elwell Hunt
Good description of the virtue needed in every princess

5. Tattered Sails, Verla Kay
Pilgrims. Vivid illustrations; two-word sentences throughout that capture the story

4. The Orderly Cricket, Rae Oetting
Refreshing lesson on not meddling in others’ business.

3. When Abraham Talked to the Trees, Elizabeth Van Steenwyk
Lincoln, practicing his public speaking. Liked it.

2. Joseph, Brian Wildsmith
Historically believable and draws-you-in illustrations that capture literary clues in the text

1. The Book of Jonah, Peter Spier
Well done, especially on Jonah’s anger at the end

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8.25.2010

Jeremiah 46-52

46 - Judgement against Egypt. Babylon will conquer her. Israel will be spared from her, though punished.
47 - God's sword of judgment also comes against the Philistines: horses and chariots from the north.
48 - Judgment against Moab: "Because you trusted in your works and your treasures, you also shall be taken" (7).
49 - Judgment against Ammon, Moab, Damascus, Hazor, Kedar, and Elam.
50 - Judgment against Babylon. She shall fall for her sins to a nation from the north.
51 - God remembers Israel, and so Babylon falls. "Babylon must fall for the slain of Israel." She was God's hammer to break the nations, and now Israel will escape from her. She will be desolate forever. Jeremiah sends this prophecy with King Zedekiah to the Babylonian king to read before him, then throw into the Euphrates tied to a stone, to show how Babylon will sink!
52 - recap of Jerusalem's fall: temple taken down, bronze pillar and basin melted down, high priest and other nobles slain. Back in Babylon, King Jehoiachin is released from prison to eat with the king. Hope for return from exile.

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8.22.2010

Jeremiah 41-45

41 - Governor Gedaliah murdered. The remnant corporately kidnapped (Jeremiah presumably with them) to be taken to Ammon. Johanan rescues them and they head for Egypt.

42 - they ask Jeremiah for God's direction. He says to stay in the land - going to Egypt would be disastrous.

43 - they don't listen imputing false motives to Jeremiah. When they get to Egypt, Jeremiah prophesies that Babylon will conquer it.

44 - Jeremiah prophesies that God will destroy them for their continued idolatry. They flatly reject it, saying it was for stopping their sacrifice to the queen of heaven that they were destroyed. Jeremiah says God did it, remembering that idolatry. If they want to find out who did it, just stay in Egypt and God will destroy them.

45 - Baruch, sad to be losing so much (was he a nobleman? Jer 43:3) gets some perspective, straight from God. He's in the middle of tearing down Israel, and Baruch is looking for comforts. All he'll get is his life.

8.21.2010

Habakkuk

1 - Hab: how long will you let sin go unpunished, Lord?
God: I send the harsh Chaldeans to punish Israel.
Hab: surely not, for you cannot countenance such evil.
2 - God: you'll have to take it by faith, and if it takes a while for an answer, be patient.
The wicked will get their due, and God's glory will cover the earth
3 - Hab: God has acted with force before, to save His people. I will wait, though ot takes many days of hardship; I will rejoice in Him and He will sustain me.

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8.20.2010

2 Kings 24-25; 2 Chronicles 36

24 - Babylon conquers Jehoiakim. Jehoiachin made king but conquered 3 months later. Zedekiah made king by Babylon and reigns for 11 years.
25 - Zedekiah rebels and is conquered. Jerusalem burned and exiled. Governor Gedaliah assasinated, and the people flee to Egypt.

36 - Same as above. Also, the land was given rest for 70 years, for all the Sabbaths Israel failed to give it. After that time Cyrus decrees Israel free to return.

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Jeremiah 38-40

38 - Jeremiah is imprisoned for hurting the war effort, encouraging Judeans to defect. He becomes a political football between nobles, in and out of prisons, summoned to and sent from the king. Jeremiah tells King Zedekiah privately to surrender, and it will be easier for him. He objects, and never does.
39 - Jerusalem is taken, nobles and king's sons killed, king and people exiled, temple and palace torn and burned down. Jeremiah is treated well and God promises the same to a nobleman who protected him.
40 - Judah brings in the harvest; governor Gedaliah orders the remnant to serve Babylon. Rumors of assasination go ignored.

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8.17.2010

Jeremiah 35-37

35 - The Rechabites obey their father, not drinking wine, building houses or farming. But Israel won't obey it's Father.
36 - God has Jeremiah write all His words down, and Baruch reads them to some nobles in a temple chamber. They send it to the king, but protect Jeremiah and Baruch, his secretary. King Jehoiakim burns it, column by column, as it's read to him. God has Jeremiah write it all out again, with a judgment against Jehoiakim added.
37 - Jeremiah warns Zedekiah that the Chaldeans would take the city. Jeremiah goes out of Jerusalem on business when the Chaldeans withdraw, and his enemies accuse, beat and imprison him falsely for defecting. The king asks privately of Jeremiah, and he gives the same word from God.

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8.16.2010

Jeremiah 32-34

32 - Zedekiah asks Jeremiah under siege if they will escape and Jeremiah says no. He buys a field at God's command, but asks Him why. God says He will restore Judah.
33 - Restoring Judah, God will raise a Branch to rule, and priests to offer pure sacrifice. He will be true to His promise to David.
34 - Jeremiah tells Zedekiah he will see Babylon's king, and go there. The nobles who freed their slaves, and then forced them back to service will themselves be free - to the sword and exile.

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Jeremiah 30-31

30 - God tells Jerremiah to write this all down in a book, because after they are taken captive He will restore them.
31 - Judah and Zion will prosper again. A new covenant of greater knowledge of the Lord will come.

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Jeremiah 26-29

26 - Stronger resistance to Jeremiah's prophecies. He is accused in the gate, but a nobleman, Ahikam, protects him.
27 - God has given the nations to Babylon to rule for a time. Serve it, or be crushed. (Liberty or death are not the only two godly options, and sometimes it is sin to demand one or the other - sometimes.
28 - False prophet Hananiah says Babylon will go down in 2 years, exiles and temple things returning. Jeremiah says he speaks falsely and will die within 1 year. He does.
29 - A war of words between true and false prophets in Judah and in exile. The false give false hope of return. Jeremiah says it will be 70 years, they should settle in, and has plans for their good.

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8.15.2010

Jeremiah 23-25

23 - shepherds scatter the sheep, prophets prophesy as God's word things he has not told them. God's righteous Branch will shelves Israel faithfully.
24 - Exiled Israel will return as good fruit. Israel that stays in the land will rot.
25 - For 23 years Jeremiah warned Israel of exile. Now it has happened. It will be 70 years before they return and Babylon is punished. Jeremiah is to give all the nations around Israel the cup of God's wrath to drink.

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8.14.2010

Jeremiah 18-22

18 - God is like a potter with the nations, undoing and remaking according to his will. Israel has forgotten God. Jeremiah resisted, again, and he prays against his enemies.
19 - Jeremiah breaks a pot and says Israel will thus be broken. Tohet, where they sacrifice their children to idols, where be their tomb.
20 - A priest has Jeremiah beaten and imprisoned. Jeremiah complains that when he speaks God's words, as he must, he is derided. He curses his life.
21 - King Zedekiah asks Jeremiah if God will save Judah. The answer is no, He will save those who take refuge with their besiegers.
22 - God will destroy Judah if her kings don't do justice. The last king who exiled (Josiah's son Shallum) won't come back. To the present king: don't be preoccupied with houses, decorations, and luxury, and ignore justice, or you will end up like Shallum, buried like a donkey and with no heir.

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8.11.2010

Jeremiah 14-17

14 - God predicts famine, drought, and sword for Judah. Jeremiah intercedes and repents for Israel.
15 - But God will not relent. Israel's sin is too great. Jeremiah laments the people's fierce opposition to him. God comforts and exhorts him (verses 15-21 were very precious to me today).
16 - God will bring death to many, and those who survive won't have a chance to mourn the dead. When Israel asks why, tell them it is for their sin and idolatry. But I will hunt and fish for them and bring them back as a second exodus.
17 - God contrasts the faithful and the wicked; Jeremiah prays for deliverance from the situation. God commands Judah to keep the Sabbath and He will preserve and prosper them.

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8.10.2010

Jeremiah 10-13

10 - Idols can't do anything, but God made the heavens and earth

11 - Judah has fornicated with other gods, and so will fall. Men from Jeremiah's hometown conspire to kill him, but God promises they will die, instead of him.

12 - Why do you let the wicked prosper, Lord? "You can't even handle your own clan, why are you worrying about the nations?" God will uproot Judah and her enemies, but will replant Judah.

13 - Judah is like soiled underwear, refusing to be worn or washed. Israel will be drunk and dashed and destroyed. Exile is coming for the greatness of her iniquity. She cannot change and stop sinning, like the leopard can't change his spots.

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8.09.2010

Jeremiah 7-9

7 - Don't trust in your temple to keep God's favor and remain in the land. Rather, do justice to each other and be faithful to Me. But you continue in deliberate sin, and then pray to Me in this temple - it's a den of robbers. Your high places of idolatry will be filled with the dead.

8 - Even animals know what they are supposed to do, but not Israel. Her priests are full of lies and greed. God finds no grapes on His vine, Israel. They flee into their cities for refuge from the coming war horses, but it won't help. Has God left Israel? Why have they left God? It is too late to cure their sin.

9 - I wish I could weep buckets for Israel. She adulterates, deceives, oppresses, so she will be a help of ruins. Lament, for they will fall like wheat at harvest.

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8.07.2010

Jeremiah 1-6

1 - God calls Jeremiah to be a prophet to the nations. He objects that he is a youth who cannot speak. God equips Him, and summarizes his message: God brings disaster from the north on Israel for their idolatry. Jeremiah must not let Israel or the nations intimidate him, so he can speak boldly and clearly.

2 - Israel has taken other gods, along with Yahweh, but denies it. God has tried to correct them, but they won't listen.

3 - I (God) divorced Israel and sent her away (into exile) for her idolatry. Judah saw it, but has done the same thing, repenting only in pretense. Return to Me, and I will heal you. Circumcise your hearts.

4 - Disaster from the north: a hot wind that will destroy, not cleanse. Anguish as of childbirth will come in that day. Creation will be undone, losing its light and form.

5 - The small and great have all remained idolatrous, so wild beasts will tear them apart. They do not fear God and they love false leaders. God will not make a full end of Judah, though.

6 - Jerusalem is wholly wicked. Prophets say "Peace," but there is none. Walk in the old paths, I tell them, but they don't listen. They keep sacrificing, but I won't accept them anymore. The refining process is useless - the wickedness won't come off.

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Zephaniah

1 - God is going to destroy Jerusalem; there are many complacent and unbelieving in her.

2 - Judah should gather and repent; God may shield them from the coming invasion. Israel's enemies around her and Assyria will also be plundered.

3 - Israel's rulers are unjust; God will bring the nations to worship Him; He will restore Israel's fortunes with singing.

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8.05.2010

2 Kings 22-23; 2 Chron 34-35

22 - Josiah is king at 8 years old. When he is 26, a written copy of the Bible is discovered, he is grieved, so God delays punishment on Israel.
23 - Josiah destroys all the idols and their priests, and restores temple worship; Passover celebration like never since Samuel.
He dies in battle against Egypt. Jehoahaz his son reigns.

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What maturity looks like

A Q&A with RC Sproul, JR

How does one recognize a mature Christian? What are his/her observable characteristics?

That’s easy enough- by the size of his library. Sadly, among Reformed Christians this sometimes seems to be our standard. Were we to narrow our library down a smidge to the Word of God we would find there a far more clear answer- the fruit of the Spirit.

Fruit, as a general rule, does not pop up overnight. One does not plant a seed today and come back tomorrow looking for the harvest. The fruit of the Spirit is much the same. It is not that one must wait five or ten years after ones conversion before one can manifest love, joy or peace. The point is instead that these blessings will flourish and ripen over time as they are cultivated by the Spirit.

One of the challenges we face is faux fruit, wax versions created by the Great Deceiver to deceive us. Love, for instance, in our peculiar time, is essentially equated in the public mind with mere permissiveness. The mature Christian doesn’t smile blandly in the face of grievous sin. Genuine love mourns for the destructive power of sin. Genuine love enters into the lives of others, mourning with those who mourn.

Joy, as well, should not be understood as mere happiness. It is instead something far more august, more unshakable, more rich. Do you see in the Christian joy even in the context of hardship? Is this person rejoicing in the grace of God, in the glory of Christ, even when health is elusive, or even in the loss of a loved one? Here joy intersects with peace. The mature Christian doesn’t merely believe in the sovereignty of God in the abstract, winning arguments over predestination. The mature Christian instead rests in the knowledge that God Himself brings all things to pass. President Obama to the mature Christian, isn’t the cause of the sky falling. He is instead what God has given us for our good and His glory. Peace rests.

We can recognize the mature Christian in how he reacts to we who are immature. Patience means not growing frustrated with the rest of us, and our weaknesses. The mature Christian remembers his own journey, and again rests in confidence that God is on His throne. This will show itself in turn as kindness. The mature Christian looks for opportunities to encourage and help others rather than to criticize and attack others. Which in turn is an expression of gentleness. The mature Christian knows that his strength is in the Lord, and thus has no need to throw his weight around. Self-control then isn’t merely avoiding fatty foods. It isn’t control over impulse buying. It is mastery of ones emotions. It is decision making grounded in the Word.

Which brings us to faithfulness. Faithfulness isn’t the first on the list, nor the last. It does, however, in my judgment, neatly subsume them all. The mature Christian is the person whose passion is to submit to all that the Bible teaches. He is faithful to the Lordship of Christ, focused on his calling to become more like Him. His pursuit isn’t human accolades, professional success. Instead he labors daily to win this great prize, to hear Jesus declare, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into your reward.”

The mature Christian, however, more than anything else, knows himself. He knows his failures and his weaknesses. I would suggest then that in the end the clearest mark of the mature Christian is the mark of the Christian- repentance. We are never closer to the mark then when we are most conscious of how far off the mark we are, when we beat our breast and cry out, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

8.04.2010

Nahum 1-3

1 - God is angry with Nineveh, and will punish them. He is a refuge for those who take refuge in Him.
2 - God will lay waste to Nineveh and all her precious things, but restore Israel's glory.
3 - She has stumbled nations into sin like a whore, so God will strip and shame her.

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8.03.2010

"I hope for a Congress that can pass some good legislation in the decades I have left on planet earth.  Much more importantly, I hope for a Congress that can block all kinds of atrocious legislation that is sure to be presented in the years and decades to come.  And that is pretty much it.  The transcendental improvement I work for and pray for in this great country is going to be a cause of political change, but not an effect of it.  We have our chicken and egg all mixed up, and it is time we get it straight.  Culture trumps politics, and it always will.  The present conflict begs for us to be politically involved, to force our leaders to quit redistributing wealth, to seek less burdensome tax policy, and to beg Washington D.C. to get out of the way.  We should all do that, and my personal conviction is that for the most part this is best done with Republican options at this point in time....

"My point is not to say that a better educational system is the last best hope, and a Republican Congress is not.  My point is that no one single thing represents the remedy to culture’s woes – especially a change in the partisan affiliation of our Congressional representation.  If a Republican is one of those Specter-Snowe-Collins turkeys, then don’t vote for them.  Let a Democrat beat the true RINO’s.  Who cares?  We are no worse off.  But if you have a decent Republican to vote for, and the current climate calls for some restraint on an ideological narcissist President who has apparently gone mad with my checkbook, then for pete’s sake, knock off this GOP-bashing.  It is silly.  Just don’t set your expectation so high that you set yourself up for disappointment.  The battle for the hearts and souls of men is not going to be won this November.  This is a temporary deal that requires some temporary wisdom.  The long term battle is anything but temporary, though, and it requires solutions far more important than any political party has ever been able to offer."

David Bahnsen

The Mediator

This table is a picture of peace. Where we were alienated from God, at enmity with Him, He sent His Son to mediate for us and reconcile us to the Father, because He still loved us. And Jesus is the peacemaker. His wounding, His crushing, His chastisement brought us peace. God put our iniquity on Him. Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. Come to Jesus now. Talk with him. Commit to Him. Love Him.

7/4/10

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Be reconciled... again

2 Cor 5:18-20 - "Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God."

It may seem odd if we think about it, that Paul needs to implore new believers in a church to be reconciled with God. Isn’t that what they just did mere months ago when they first believed in Christ? Well, yes. But reconciliation isn’t a once in a lifetime event. We should be well-practiced in it, since we sin against others so much. You are a believer – a Christian. And you have sinned against Christ since worshiping Him last Sunday. You need to be reconciled to God again.

I speak to you now as an ambassador from the throne room of God. You have sinned against a holy God. Yet He has provided mediation, atonement, forgiveness in Christ. Look to Jesus Christ as you confess your sins.

7/4/10

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8.02.2010

2 Kings 20-21; 2 Chron. 32-33

2 Chr 32 - Hezekiah fortifies the city against Assyria's coming siege. Sennacharib intimidates Jerusalem, speaking of Yahweh as if He were like all the other gods he has already defeated. God strikes Assyria's army and they leave.

20 - Hezekiah gets sick; he will die; prays for life; prayer answered. (2 Chr 32) But Hezekiah builds bigger barns out of pride afterward.

21 - Manasseh reigns 55 years; does much evil: idolatry and shedding innocent blood. God declares He will judge Israel for Manasseh's sin. (2 Chr 32) Babylon defeats and imprisons Manasseh; he repents and cleanses the land of idols. Amon his son reigns 2 years. He is assassinated, but his son is made king, and the assassins are killed.

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Christ in the workplace

How does a Christian deal with discrimination policies at the workplace that forbid discrimination or even making people uncomfortable on the basis of religion or sexual orientation? Is it a compromise of Christian witness to submit to this?

I would say this compromises your integrity only if you intend to be "demeaning, abusive, hostile, insulting, embarrassing, sexual, or intimidating" (quote from one such policy) to co-workers as you testify to them about Christ. You shouldn't be these things to witness faithfully to Him. There are times it may/will get intimidating for them. Save those encounters for when you have them over grilling on your back deck, instead of at the office, and you're fine. This is not selling your soul. It is practical sense: the company doesn't want disruptive conversations making volatile relationships, hindering productivity. And you need a longer, more private setting to get really into things, anyway.

Yes, they are misguided regarding not discriminating according to religion and sexual orientation, and yes this is a subtle form of persecution. But they are doing that due to a generation or 3 of corporate compromise on the part of the Church in its cultural engagement. It can't very effectively be taken on IN the workplace - cultural assumptions must change back, first. Consider that we are like Israel in the book of Judges, now, oppressed by Midian. We need a Redeemer (Boaz), a prophet (Samuel), and a king (David) for things to start turning around and to beat back the Philistines. I'm not saying don't question it, but be realistic about what will or will not happen when you do.

We also need to put some thought into what the crown rights of Christ in the public square looks like for the homosexual, pornographer, Muslim, etc before Christ returns. Should unbelievers be second-class citizens, as far as rights go? Not all sins should be crimes.

So stop blogging, already...

"Multitasking, in short, is not only not thinking, it impairs your ability to think.Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. Not learning other people’s ideas, or memorizing a body of information, however much those may sometimes be useful. Developing your own ideas. In short, thinking for yourself. You simply cannot do that in bursts of 20 seconds at a time, constantly interrupted by Facebook messages or Twitter tweets, or fiddling with your iPod, or watching something on YouTube....

"It seems to me that Facebook and Twitter and YouTube—and just so you don’t think this is a generational thing, TV and radio and magazines and even newspapers, too—are all ultimately just an elaborate excuse to run away from yourself. To avoid the difficult and troubling questions that being human throws in your way. Am I doing the right thing with my life? Do I believe the things I was taught as a child? What do the words I live by—words like duty, honor, and country—really mean? Am I happy?....

"Leadership means finding a new direction, not simply putting yourself at the front of the herd that’s heading toward the cliff."

William Deresiewicz

Back to the Garden: river, tree

Ezekiel 47:1, 12 - "Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple.... Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine.”

When Adam and Eve stood by the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they had gone to the wrong tree. The tree of life was the sacramental life source, God had invited them to eat of. He had forbidden the other tree, so they went and stood by it. Where are you looking for food, for life, for growth, for direction? Who do you trust? Jesus Christ has set this table so you can respond in faith each week. You have come to the tree of life. Jesus the new Adam has forged a way back into the garden. The flaming sword fell on Him as He entered. It killed Him, but God resurrected Him and He has led us in. We are in the holy of holies, as priests cleansed by His blood, shed back there at the gate, at the altar, at the cross, pictured in the waters of baptism. We have come through and we stand at the tree. The first tree brought death. The tree of Calvary took away the sting of that death. The everlasting tree of life remains for us to eat of its fruit. It will give everlasting life, but only when you eat trusting in the new Adam, your Savior.

6/27/10

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Work, to cover treachery

Hosea 6:6-7 - "For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. But like men they transgressed the covenant; There they dealt treacherously with Me."

We dealt treacherously with God at the tree in the garden. God had graciously granted us life, companionship, work, fellowship with Him, every tree to eat from but one. So we wanted that one. We violated His covenant. Some things do not change. While we have a greater covenant now, established in the grace of Christ, we keep sinning against God’s grace.

We sacrifice ourselves and sacrifice ourselves, working ourselves to the bone, thinking it is what God wants, when He really wants us to get beyond our bony selves and show mercy to others. God wants His people to come to Him, to seek Him and know Him, more than He wants worker bees for His Kingdom. He does want both, but we tend to substitute work for relationship, labor for love. The goal of your sacrifice is not brownie points for you, but mercy given to others.

6/27/10

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Music to strengthen the masculine soul?

"The growth of rock n' roll, and the paucity of rocker chicks in that realm, should really tell us something. Instead of sniffing at the popularity of rock (o tempora! o mores!), we need to cultivate some humility at this point. We have to recognize that rock is vastly superior to more cultivated forms of music in at least one area -- its ability to attract boys to music. If your theory about this is that rock does it all with half-naked girls, you haven't thought about the subject nearly enough. The immorality of rock culture, and the inanity of the baby, baby, baby school of high poetry, are certainly worthy of our notice. But at the end of the day, they know how to do something that accomplished musicians and musical programs usually do very poorly. In the credit where credit is due department, we should be willing to try to learn what that is."

Additional Options are Available

"If relativists seek after hollow minds, the godly must not respond by building minds of solid wood. Flexibility and prudence must not be confused with compromise and fear" (Joy at the End of the Tether, pp. 84-85).

Isaiah 64-66

64 -O that You would come down and act for us, Lord. We are sinful and the temple is desolate. How long will you do nothing?

65 - God was ready to receive Israel back, but she continued in her idolatry. God will redeem a remnant, and create a new heavens and earth where labor will be rewarded, God will answer His people readily, and life will be long and glad.

66 - God looks on the one who trembles at His Word, not the one who offers all the right sacrifices with his heart somewhere else. Rejoice with Jerusalem, for she has given birth to a nation overnight. God will destroy the wicked in Israel, bring the nations to worship Him, and make the new creation abide before Him, worshiping Him, forever.

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8.01.2010

Isaiah 59-63

59 - Israel is sinful through and through. God will come and save them by giving them a redeemer and His Spirit
60 - Wake up, Israel, for God will bring the nations to you, to worship Yahweh, bringing wealth and increase to Israel.
61 - God will free Israel, build her up, and prosper her.
62 - Israel will again be married to the Lord, cared for and rewarded.
63 - God's servant executes God's anger - see Rev 19:16-17 for similar language. God redeems His people, though they grieve His Spirit. Have compassion on us; You are our Father! We are laid low.

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