10.29.2012

Exceptions for abortion?

Here is an excellent consideration of abortion in the cases of rape, incest and for the life of the mother.
There's the reality of the thing, and then there's how to talk about it in the political sphere, and how to vote.

Don't know why I haven't been checking Justin Taylor and Al Mohler before now...

10.26.2012

Review: Because of Winn-Dixie


Because of Winn-Dixie
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



I realized why I read so many childrens' books as I finished this one. Not only do I do this to screen books before my children read them, to make sure that the content is not offensive, and that it is worthwhile. I also read children's books because good ones state profound truths very simply and clearly.

Winn-Dixie shows us that things happen in life that scare us to the point of vulnerability. And when we are there, we need protection and loyalty from others.

The main character's mother has left the family, and DiCamillo describes grief and loss well, from a child's perspective:
"Thinking about her was the same as the hole you keep on feeling with your tongue after you lose a tooth. Time after time, my mind kept going to that empty spot, the spot where I felt like she should be."

But the whopper that really rocked me back is a huge lesson I've learned over the last 2-3 years in ministry:
"You got to remember, you can't always judge people by the things they done. You got to judge them by what they are doing now."

Reading good fiction, children's books included, helps us reflect on our own experiences and articulate what has happened to us and what we can learn from it.



View all my reviews

Labels:

10.24.2012

Wash, rinse, repeat


After the call to worship, we have a few verses of Scripture we speak. This is the beginning of our response to God’s call to worship.

Imitation
We need His help to respond, and speaking His Words back to Him is a way to do this.

Repetition
We use the same verses or prayers of confession, or songs in response from week to week.

Participation
We speak these together or responsively. Importance of active engagement in worship service, not passively letting the preacher do his thing. This is a good pattern not only for worship as the church, but also for family devotions. These 3 elements are all needed. Imitation, repetition, participation.

5/27/12

Labels:

Shifting burdens properly


Proverbs 3:31-35
    Do not envy the oppressor, 
          And choose none of his ways; 
    32      For the perverse person is an abomination to the LORD, 
          But His secret counsel is with the upright. 
    33      The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, 
          But He blesses the home of the just. 
    34      Surely He scorns the scornful, 
          But gives grace to the humble. 
    35      The wise shall inherit glory, 
          But shame shall be the legacy of fools. 


God’s Word reminds us that the oppressor has many ways. There is more than one way to oppress, to burden someone wrongly. Oppression is perversion, crookedness, and God keeps His wisdom and safety far from such people. They are cursed, but the righteous are blessed. The oppressor is also scornful. He has no hesitation about burdening those he scorns, so God will burden him. Humility is the opposite of scorn, the utter lack of scorn for others. Proverbs not only describes the two roads of wisdom and wickedness, it also tells us what is at the end of each: glory and shame.

Jesus Christ removed burdens from the weak and oppressed. He piled it on the oppressors. He gives grace to the humble. If you come to Him with scorn for others in your heart, your confession will be in vain. If you come to Him in humility, He gives blessing, grace and glory.

5/27/12

Labels:

Joshua 23 study

List 10 specific things God has done for you - for which you can thank Him.

Remember the past
- God has been faithful to you; you be faithful to Him!
Remember the standard
- keep the Law
- Joshua 1:8; 8:34-35

This is Old Testament, appealing to law. On the other side of Jesus' coming, we should also remember that God has been faithful to give us land and rest in Jesus (Hebrews 4:8-11). The exhortation to us is the same: to hearken back to the standard in God's Word. Be faithful to Him, since He has been so good to us.

The chapter ends with a solemn warning of death as the wages of sin, which warning continues in the NT (Hebrews 6:4-6). We can profess faith in Christ, but later stop following Him and wind up condemned (Matt hew 7:22-23). But we also find promises of forgiveness when we repent and return to the Lord, in both Old and New Testaments (Ezekiel 33:14-15; 1 John 1:8-9).

Labels:

10.22.2012

Election Fever!!!

My friend Brian Nolder has a lovely perspective on the election here.

Review: The Drowned Vault


The Drowned Vault
The Drowned Vault by N.D. Wilson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Really good.

Writing style is quick and fluid. Dialogue is probably the weakest aspect but still decent. Cyrus continues to learn to act when it is time, instead of paralysis by analysis. An important lesson. Wilson's obviously targeting a certain age range, with all the vomiting going on. The main theme of what the bad guy is doing is a little mature for the audience, I think. I almost stopped reading it to my guys. But upon explaining to them I found it addresses evils at work in our culture right now: cloning, seeking eternal youth, etc. Rupert's character develops a lot, as the plot expands nicely. This was a much better "part-two" than his 100 Cupboards series. Just the right amount of reminder stuff from part one without getting tedious. Enough action to balance the development of plot and character.



View all my reviews

Labels:

Review: Kingdom's Dawn


Kingdom's Dawn
Kingdom's Dawn by Chuck Black

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



Good "secondary" literature for boys. A sort of Pilgrim's Progress allegory of the Bible from Genesis 1 to Exodus 4, set in medieval times. The writing is best in the sword fighting scenes. Some good lessons about faith, loyalty to the King, endurance in difficulty.



View all my reviews

Labels:

Review: The River of Grace: The Story of John Calvin


The River of Grace: The Story of John Calvin
The River of Grace: The Story of John Calvin by Joyce McPherson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



This is the best children's biography of John Calvin I've read, and it was in my local public library!

It gives equal attention to each stage of Calvin's life, maybe emphasizing his early life in Catholicism and coming to Protestant views in university. The "underground" nature of Protestantism was described well, and Calvin's natural and conservative hesitancy to enter it, against Mother Church.

There is little attention given to Calvin's doctrines, and more about his pastoral labors, which was refreshing.



View all my reviews

Labels:

Review: Peacemaking for Families


Peacemaking for Families
Peacemaking for Families by Ken Sande

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Sande applies the Peacemaker material to marriage, parenting and sibling rivalry.

Pros: lots of good ideas on how to communicate lovingly in conflict. Incisive diagnosis of heart issues and a clear process for dealing with them.

Cons: a bit wordy - lots of extra fluff to get the ideas across.



View all my reviews

Labels:

10.16.2012

An Offensive Gospel?



This talk, recently broadcast and posted by Ligonier, addresses a recent sermon discussion at church.

Looks like the embed may not be working. You can also go here.

0-2:00 Tribute to James Boice, who died the night before
2:00-11:00 Exposition of Lot, his wife, and the culture of Sodom and America
11:20-end Offense of the Gospel
15:00 - what is the task of preacher, regarding unbelievers?
27:00 – “The Gospel insults moralism”
33:00 – How should an unbeliever feel in a church?
35:00 – Yes, Christians can be obnoxious…
41:10 – “Give no offense” (1 Cor 10:32)

An Act of God


Malachi 1:6, 8, 11, 13
    A son honors his father, And a servant his master. If then I am the Father, Where is My honor? And if I am a Master, Where is My reverence? Says the LORD of hosts To you priests who despise My name. Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’ 8And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, Is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, Is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?” Says the LORD of hosts. For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; In every place incense shall be offered to My name, And a pure offering; For My name shall be great among the nations,” Says the LORD of hosts. 12“But you profane it, In that you say, ‘The table of the LORD is defiled; And its fruit, its food, is contemptible.’  13You also say, ‘Oh, what a weariness!’ And you sneer at it,” Says the LORD of hosts. "And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick; Thus you bring an offering! Should I accept this from your hand?” Says the LORD.


Today we consider the call to worship, the first thing in the actual worship service. The call to worship is an act of God. Yes, you heard me right, God speaks, through His Word, calling us to worship Him. It doesn’t matter if we are reading it responsively ourselves – God is then speaking through us, to us.
            The call to worship is an invitation to enter His presence, but more than that, a summons, a command. We are to assemble and present ourselves before the Lord, and to worship Him. Come, let us worship and bow down. Shout to the Lord, all the earth. Magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together. Many of these are calls to sing to God, so a two pronged call to confession today. Be not half-hearted in your preparations, or in your singing. If you give little effort to prepare for worship, you will find yourself still getting oriented and tuning in, when God is already speaking to you. We don’t tolerate toddlers only half-listening to their parents. Employers aren’t interested in workers who don’t show up on time. God had to speak 3 times before Eli figured it out. Why should we give God such little honor like that? Be ready to hear God speak the first time. And be prepared to DO what the call to worship calls you to do. Sing a new song. Kneel. Bless the Lord. Give God’s name glory.

5/20/12

Labels: ,

Healed to Enter

Sermon from Acts 3
Like the lame beggar healed, we are cripples in our ability to love God, to want to do what is right, to be kind to others. The power of Jesus Christ and His Spirit must work in us before we can stand and do His will. When we do, the first place we go is further up and further in, walking and dancing closer to God as we praise Him. And the beggar came to the altar, where Christ’s sacrifice was pictured for him, for you, for me. We were outside begging, now we are inside eating from a better altar than that one.

5/20/12 

Labels:

Should you vote for Romney?

I commend this article to you, in considering who you vote for this year.

As if you're not overloaded on political material already!

It may offend my third-party friends. Some of its rhetoric is unhelpful.
But there is a substantive argument to consider before casting a third party vote.

10.13.2012

City of God - preface

"The glorious city of God is my theme," by which Augustine means the kingdom of God. Pagaafter the sack of Rome blamed Christians and this book is Augustine's defense. He quotes James 4:6 and Virgil in the short preface, hinting at the humility that marks the city of God and the pride and lust that mark the city of man.

10.12.2012

No Calumny except as God Permits - Humility Results

The River Of Grace
This is a great book. Full review later. Here is a quote of Calvin's writing to Farel, when they were kicked out of Geneva the first time.

"They suppose that the best course for themselves to pursue was to tear in pieces our estimation, publicly and privately, so as to render us as odious as possible. But if we know that they cannot calumniate us, excepting insofar as God permits, we know also the end God has in view in granting such permission. Let us humble ourselves, therefore, unless we wish to strive with God when He would humble us. Meanwhile, let us wait upon God."

Labels:

Sacrifice, from Faith


Hebrews 11:17-19
"By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense."

God called Abraham to sacrifice his own son. Abraham believed God would restore Isaac to him after death. And God did. God called Jesus to sacrifice Himself to make us His children. Jesus believed God would restore Him to life after death. And God did. God calls you to sacrifice yourself, to die to yourself and your sin. Believe that doing this, God will bring restoration, forgiveness, and life after death. God will do it. The table pictures these 3 offerings for us. Abraham received bread and wine from Melchizedek, and gave him a tenth of his plunder - an act of faith that God was giving him much more. Jesus offered up His body to be broken, His blood to be spilled, taking God’s wrath on Himself instead of on us. He did this for the joy set before Him. And us? We follow Christ’s example. We have given of ourselves in response to God’s Word in our tithes and offerings. Let us do so with our lives, knowing Christ and making Him known. Knowing our labor is not in vain, that God will restore to us 100 fold what we sacrifice for Him.

5/13/12

Labels:

Prelude


Today we think about the prelude, welcome and announcements. A musical prelude sets the tone for worship. It is the final preparation for the service. When it starts a few minutes before 9:30, we should wrap up conversations and find our seats. This is a courtesy to everyone else trying to prepare to worship the Lord. We need some margin built in to important transitions like this. Habakkuk 2:20 says, “the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” As I thought this through this week, I remembered that for all of my church-going life, there was never anything said between the prelude and the call to worship. The prelude is meant to lead directly in to worship. You see a line between the prelude/announcements and the call to worship. That is to emphasize where gathering ends and formal worship begins.

Let us ascend with the saints to draw near and worship the risen Lord, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

5/13/12

Labels:

10.11.2012

Romney's War on Women?

If conservatives are waging a war on women in "denying reproductive rights" to them,
then liberals are waging a war on babies, telling women they have a right to kill the life within them that is not their own.

Chaucer, on a good clergyman

There was a good man of religion, too
A country parson, poor, I warrant you;

. . . Who Christ's own gospel truly sought to preach;
Devoutly his parishioners would he teach

. . . Wide was his parish, houses far asunder
But never did he fail, for rain or thunder,
In sickness, or in sin, or any state,
to visit the farthest, small and great

. . .And holy though he was, and virtuous,
To sinners he was not impiteous,
Nor haughty in his speech, nor too divine,
But in all teaching prudent and benign.

…But if some sinful one proved obstinate,
Be who it might, of high or low estate,
Him he reproved, and sharply, as I know. . .
There is nowhere a better priest, I trow...

See the whole thing here, starting at line 477. 

Religious Freedom under Obama


dem·a·gogue  noun, verb
noun
a person, especially an orator or political leader, who gains power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people.

verb
to treat or manipulate (a political issue) in the manner of a demagogue; obscure or distort with emotionalism, prejudice, etc.


There is a lot of demagoguery in our political discourse these days.

This article is an admirable exception. It shows some of the Obama administration's horrendous record on religious freedom, and then gives a sane and well-reasoned defense at the foundations of why that's the wrong path.

Maybe too abstract and boring for some. Doesn't get your blood pumping enough? I would submit that in our day, when religious freedom is deteriorating further than we realize and things really are getting scary, we don't need more anger and emotion in our political speech, but clear persuasion. Actually addressing the other side's concerns. Explaining why this path leads to less freedom for everyone, not just the annoying religious freaks (as Joe on the street thinks of them).

We spend too much time talking to each other, and almost never talk to "the other side." Do we even know how to start?

Thoughts on Joshua 22

1. The western tribes confront the eastern tribes about the altar they built, right after parting peacefully from them. Zeal for God's glory motivates the confrontation. If there is rebellion against God, there will be disturbance, conflict, even battle.

2. The western tribes go not only to confront, but to bring peace. They attempt reconciliation, before swooping down and attacking. They inquire before invading. They offer some of their own land, if the land is a problem. This combines truth with love (Ephesians 4:15), as Jesus did with us. His first coming was for reconciliation, when He spoke truth and judged us, but also gives plenty opportunity to repent. His second coming will be in judgment.

3. The eastern tribes' defense appeals to god's name. Don't spare us if we have betrayed God, but we haven't.

It is good for others to check up on you, even to question you. Needs to be done and received with love and truth.

Labels:

Union by the Spirit - Pentecost


John 14:15-18, 25-26
“If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.... 25  “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you."

The Spirit came down on Pentecost and settled in our hearts. The flame sat down on, and into, every believer. This is your story if you have trusted Christ. You have the Holy Spirit living within you. Christ went up, but the Spirit came down. We are not left as orphans. And as citizens of heaven, we are brought there by the Spirit every Lord’s Day, especially here at this table, united with the body of our Savior Jesus. It is the Spirit who unites. You with Jesus. You with your fellow church members. You with your children, your parents, with your spouse. You with your neighbor who the Spirit is drawing to faith in Christ.

5/6/12

Labels:

No Squabbling!


Proverbs 3:29-30
"          Do not devise evil against your neighbor, 
          For he dwells by you for safety’s sake. 
    30      Do not strive with a man without cause, 
    If he has done you no harm."

We are not to devise or plan evil against our neighbor. He lives close to us, trusting that we won’t take advantage of him. He doesn’t suspect you. Any community involves trust like this. This is true geographically, living next door to someone. It is more true in the community of believers God brings together. We dwell near each other. God calls us not only to leave each other alone, but to devise and plan good for our neighbor.

Do not strive with a man without cause. We are quick to complain and contend, to accuse and to blame. Children, do not squabble and fight with your brothers and sisters. Instead, be patient with others. Love bears all things when things don’t go how you want. Love is quick to defer to others, instead of striving, whenever conscience allows.

5/6/12

Labels:

Liturgy


That word liturgy is important. It means service. We have a worship service, where we serve the Lord. That’s the top line in our bulletin, "Lord’s Day worship service." That is what we are doing and when. Sunday is the Lord’s Day, when Jesus rose from the dead, when His Church gathers to worship Him. Today is the 5th Sunday of Easter, but we are observing Pentecost today, instead of 3 weeks from now, given the sermon text from Acts. We will be making more visible what time it is in the church year, both in this line in the bulletin and in the colors on the communion table and pulpit. Why? Our annual rhythms will be guided by something, by seasons of nature or national holidays. Far better to tell time by the redemptive acts of God in Christ. To let His Incarnation, obedience, sacrifice, resurrection, ascension and giving of the Spirit rule our thoughts for much of the year. It is an extended meditation on the fullness of what Christ has done for us. This is Easter season.

Let us ascend with the saints to draw near and worship the risen Lord, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

5/6/12

Labels:

10.08.2012

Worship as covenant renewal


I’m going to return to giving a short weekly reminder of what we are doing in worship.

Today a reminder that we see worship as a renewal of our covenant with God, and drawing near to Him. God is always close to us, of course, but Scripture speaks of drawing near or coming to God (Leviticus 1:1-2; Hebrews 10:22; Psalm 73:28; 145:18; 100:2b, 4). We do this in worship. What we see is a group of people gathered, but what is really happening is that God's people is communing with Him, with the angels, with the saints in heaven, with Jesus Christ our savior (Hebrews 12:22-24).

We are drawing near to God to renew covenant with Him. We strengthen covenant ties in our family whenever we teach, feed, hug, confess, forgive, and gather at the table. That covenant is part of the deeper covenant Christ has with His church. And we renew that covenant, we seek to strengthen our relationship with the Lord, when we gather, confess sin, hear the Word, take the Lord’s Supper, pray and sing. So let us ascend with the saints to draw near and worship the Lord, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

4/29/12

Labels:

Wait, prepare, renew


Sermon text: Acts 1:15-26

Psalm 107:1-9
Christ ascended and the disciples waited. God prepared them before sending them out. He had delivered Israel out of Egypt, to bring them into Canaan. But they were not ready, so spent 40 years in the wilderness, fed by manna. We need times of preparation in our lives, and this table represents that. We rest here, renew strength. We reflect on what has happened. The family table is where discussion of past and future happen. We get equipped and re-oriented for future service.

4/29/12

Labels:

Holding Back


Proverbs 3:27-28
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, 
      when it is in your power to do it. 
28       Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, 
      tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you. 


We all tend to hold back, to withhold. Sometimes that is good, if we want to lash out at someone and we maintain self-control. But holding back can also be a sin, if we are holding back what is good, what we should give. We can hold back encouraging words and affection that we owe our family at home and here. Husbands can hold back from leading a family when they should. There are many sins of omission we commit every day. Missed opportunities to love others. There are times to mind your own business; there are also times to take trouble to offer love and help.

4/29/12

Labels:

A little Halloween fun....

from Russell D. Moore in First Things

If John Mark is right that an evangelical is “a fundamentalist who watches The Office,” then I’m written out of the definition since I’ve never seen the show. But, still, I think he’s on to something. Here’s an alternative try.

An evangelical is a fundamentalist whose kids dress up for Halloween.

A conservative evangelical is a fundamentalist whose kids dress up for the church’s “Fall Festival.”

A confessional evangelical is a fundamentalist whose kids dress up for “Reformation Day.”

An emerging evangelical is a fundamentalist who has no kids, but who dresses up for Halloween anyway.

A revivalist evangelical is a fundamentalist whose kids dress up as demons for the church’s “Judgment House” community evangelism outreach.

A fundamentalist is a fundamentalist whose kids hand out gospel tracts to all those mentioned above.

Reading up on Halloween

CJ Bowen gives you lots of links on Halloween here - mostly good. I found the Chick tracts article especially interesting, not having seen them much. For the quick summary of my take:

Halloween started as All Saints Day, to remember departed loved ones and martyrs of the faith. The date of November 1 began around 800, and the night before it became All Hallow's Eve, or Hallowe'en. This did NOT start as an occult holiday but as a Christian one. Or, if there were pagan practices going on (I've seen it asserted but not proven), then the church deliberately replaced the pagan stuff with the overtly Christian All Saints Day. This is what churches do today holding fall festivals or Reformation day celebrations on Halloween, to provide a positive alternative to the wickedness out there. We should reclaim this cultural ground, instead of ceding it to the wicked and shrill-ly denouncing it.

Practically, I'd encourage celebrations in families and churches to intentionally memorialize and thank God for three categories of people: martyrs, significant figures in church history, and loved ones recently gone to glory. Seasonally (church year), it is also very appropriate to consider the coming final harvest of the earth. (See Revelation 14:12-20 for an appropriate, but scary Halloween image!) Thanksgiving hymns can begin at this time, instead of only using them one day a year.

Cookies and Critics

Two posts by Kevin DeYoung recently. This one is me to a T:
And a nice couple bits on criticism, from the end of Ratatouille.

10.03.2012

Review: Sophocles II: Ajax/Women of Trachis/Electra/Philoctetes (Complete Greek Tragedies 4)


Sophocles II: Ajax/Women of Trachis/Electra/Philoctetes (Complete Greek Tragedies 4)
Sophocles II: Ajax/Women of Trachis/Electra/Philoctetes (Complete Greek Tragedies 4) by Sophocles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Heady stuff. Greeks put in hard places by the events of the Trojan war. They are on the periphery, and the main guys like Odysseus play cameo roles in these plays. They are like spinoffs of Homer's great works, the Iliad and Odyssey, hundreds of years later, in the 400s before Christ.

Fate and loss of honor are big themes. What do we do when fate turns against us so that we lose our reputation, stumble and fall? For Ajax, it led to cynicism. "Most men have found friendship a treacherous harbor." Suicide was the answer.

Echoes of Job come through, when they consider the injustice of their suffering. Electra's murderer is her stepfather, and her sister acquiesces: "justice is not on my side but on yours." Electra cannot: "Have your rich table and your abundant life. All the food I need is the quiet of my conscience."

The gods are always the ones pulling the strings, and life is pain. "None can foresee what is to come... and there is nothing here which is not Zeus." "Nothing painless has the all-accomplishing King dispensed for mortal men." Philoctetes says, "How can I praise, when praising Heaven I find the gods are bad?"

It's quite a dismal worldview, when you step back and look at it. Electra sums up the Greeks well: "It is terrible to speak well and be wrong." Of course, they capture glimpses of wisdom, too, like in that quote.

Here are a few more.
"Harsh words, however just, still rankle."
"You win the victory when you yield to friends."




View all my reviews

Review: The Tale of Despereaux


The Tale of Despereaux
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Kate DiCamillo weaves a tale that draws you in. A princess needs rescue. So do her captors. An likely hero, a mouse despised and rejected by his own elders, emerges to save the day. But the task is hopelessly impossible for him without... soup. Soup saves the mouse, who saves the princess. The princess offers forgiveness (and soup) to her captor. One captor saves another, which delivers another captor.

The author wears some literary tools on her sleeve. Forgiveness is light. Rejection is dark.

I found plenty of Biblical allusions, too, though they probably aren't intended by the author. The king is Saul, who loses a wife and daughter, has no hope, and dissuades Despereaux from his quest. Despereaux is Jesus, who is enabled by the Spirit (the soup) to rescue the princess. The aroma of Christ brings hope to the lowest and darkest dungeon of one's castle (or heart). The offer of a feast (soup/Spirit) delivers the antagonist from his dark and unforgiving heart.

I saw the movie first, then read the book, which is unusual for me. As usual, the movie underplayed the more important themes of forgiveness (hard to convey it in an adventure movie!). The literary device of directly addressing the reader was a little overdone, but just a stylistic quibble.

Great reading for your 8-15 year old!



View all my reviews

10.02.2012

A Table of Ascension


We say lift up your hearts at this point, because we are lifted by the Spirit to heaven, where Christ’s physical body is, to commune with Christ there. Col 3:3 says your life is hidden with Christ in God. Let’s take our union with Christ seriously and say that by the Spirit we are up there with Him. Ephesians 2:6 says we have been made to sit together with Him in the heavenly places. Just as every Sunday is Resurrection Day, so every communion time is ascension time.

There are 5 basic things Christ did FOR us. He became a man to save men, He died, He was raised to life, He ascended to heaven, and He gave us the Spirit. We celebrate those 5 events on Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension day, and Pentecost. Today, we consider Ascension.

Part of the Lord's exaltation was His taking authority, FOR us. Fathers have a calling, a career, that gives them the means to provide a table for their families. So Jesus also has a calling that gives Him the means to provide a table for His family. His ascension put Him in that providing office. He is the everlasting Father of Isaiah 9:6. Let us worship Him – our Lord, and our God.

4/22/12

Labels:

The Benefits of Wisdom


Proverbs 3:21-26

My son. This text reminds us that Solomon is speaking in the context of training his children. That means this text is for everyone. Parents are children of God, too. When Jesus calls to the disciples in the boat after Easter, He calls them children. None of us is capable of providing ourselves with food or wisdom – we need God to give to us. We are children.

Don’t lose wisdom and understanding. That’s the one command here, in verse 21. The next 5 verses give a long description of their benefits. Notice how little of Solomon’s training is command imperatives, and how much of his discipling is painting a picture for his children of the great joy and blessing of wisdom.


First, it is life to your soul. Wisdom isn’t just the thing that makes you do the right thing, it’s bound up with life itself. The way truth and life aren’t 3 separate things – they all come in one package of one glorious Savior.

Second, wisdom is grace to your neck. The idea there is beauty, a fitting demeanor and appearance. Too many think that godliness has to be plain and dour, when it really brings flourishing life, glory and pleasure. Wisdom is life and beauty. 

Third, wisdom brings safety and peace. No stumbling, no tormented conscience. Notice it says vs 25 that terror and trouble may still come from the wicked, but these will be overcome in the end. Keep wisdom, and it will keep you.

4/22/12 

Labels:

Revelation in Plain Things


Luke 24:17, 19-32
Sometimes Jesus is revealed to us in the strangest of ways. A look from a spouse, an act of kindness from a friend, an awesome sunset, a quiet and clear momentary thought. The resurrection of Jesus was very unexpected to the disciples, and He wasn’t unveiled until they broke bread with Him. Not even a sermon by Jesus Himself opened their eyes. We often look for the strange, the unexpected, the sensational. But God gives us ordinary means of grace. Places we should expect to find Him. The Word, sacraments of bread, wine and water baptism, and prayer. These aren’t guaranteed to reveal Jesus, to save us, as we saw in Jesus’ own opening of the word. They remained blind to Him. The Spirit must open our eyes and give faith, too. But where you are seeking Jesus and the salvation He brings, that you know you need, He will meet You. Expect to meet Him. Commune with Christ and cling to Him for your life.

4/8/12

Labels:

Resurrection Restoration


John 21:15-17
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.


How can we pause to confess our sins, on this high day of Easter exuberance? The same way Jesus paused after breakfast in Galilee to restore Peter. Peter had led the others in boldly resolving to follow Jesus to the death. All the disciples forsook Jesus when He was arrested, Peter included. Peter denied 3 times he knew Jesus right during His trial with the priests and rulers. How many times do we fall into some horrid sin right on Christmas Eve, or Good Friday, or right where we have resolved most to never do that again? The resurrection means we have to face the living Lord we failed and left and sinned against. This grieves us. But Jesus restores, so thoroughly, 3 times for each time Peter denied Him. So tenderly and personally: Simon, son of Jonah. In the same way the risen Lord comes to you and me. But He is kind. He puts all the sin away; and then He sends us on.

4/8/12

Labels: