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Quote - Thomas Aquinas

"To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible." Thomas Aquinas

The HOW & WHEN of your Personal Walk

A busy husband, father, pastor, and speaker - Matt Chandler, shares the HOW & WHEN of a personal walk with Christ. I especially value his statement concerning decisions we must make regarding where our affections lie. Check out the VIDEO HERE and embedded below: What are some practical steps you must take in your life to draw closer to Christ day by day? It is a convicting, yet inspirational, thought as to how we can improve in the consistency, depth, and quality of our devotional time. Hebrews 10:19-25 "19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. "

Quote - Charles Spurgeon

"You may speak but a word to a child, and in that child there may be slumbering a noble heart which shall stir the Christian Church in years to come." Charles Spurgeon

Angry Americans? Demand Spiritual Reform.

Are you an angry American? Are you disappointed with our government? With their social policies? Health care ideas? Crime rates? International Affairs? War policies? Tax plans? Party interaction? Economic strategies? Bureaucratic inefficiencies?

A FoxNews article today states "Americans are overwhelmingly angry at the U.S. government and is nearly as let down by the lack of ideas from both political parties...Sixty-six percent of voters in a national poll said they're angry at the policies of the federal government, including 36 percent who counted themselves as very angry"

We are a sinful nation that have been led to idol worship over many generations of Ahabs and Jezebels (1 Kings 16-22) in our governments, media, and society as a whole. We have our Baals and Asherahs that we worship and adore...we simply give them different names: individualism, wealth, prosperity, independence, sports, entertainment, popularity, Hollywood, success, 'The American Dream', retirement, beauty, long life, relativism, etc.

May we become a nation who doesn't merely seek political, social, economic, or military reform, but one who seeks SPIRITUAL REFORM through a repentance of our sin and a turning towards Christ alone. May we seek Jesus Christ in prayer and worship and allow His leadership to prevail instead of our own. Isaiah 1 "2 Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: 'I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. 3 The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner's manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.' 4 Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. 5 Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. 6 From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness— only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil. 7 Your country is desolate, your cities burned with fire; your fields are being stripped by foreigners right before you, laid waste as when overthrown by strangers. 8 The Daughter of Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard, like a hut in a field of melons, like a city under siege. 9 Unless the LORD Almighty had left us some survivors, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah. 10 Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah!"

Remembering Names

I ALWAYS struggle with remembering people's names. I found these tips online yesterday for how to remember fellow churchmembers names...I can use all the help I can get! My favorite is #12, but is #1 for me "Pray for better memory and name retention!"

Cell Phone vs. Bible

My wife shared this with me the other is a copy of an email forward that makes you think about the prominence and access we give God's Word in our lives.

Some of you may have read this before, but it is a helpful (and convicting) reminder of how we might change some aspects of our day to day lives in order to spend more time with God!

Cell phone vs. Bible
"Ever wonder who at would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone?
  • What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?
  • What if we flipped through it several time a day?
  • What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?
  • What if we used it to receive messages from the text?
  • What if we treated it like we couldn't live without it?
  • What if we gave it to kids as gifts?
  • What if we used it when we traveled?
  • What if we used it in case of emergency?

This is something to make you go....hmm...where is my Bible?

Oh, and one more thing...unlike our cell phone, we don't have to worry about our Bible being disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill....and no dropped calls!"

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates."

Quote - C.S. Lewis

"The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us; just as the roof of a sunhouse does not attract the sun because it is bright, but becomes bright because the son shines on it." C.S. Lewis

Good-things becoming god-things - Idolatry vs. Worship

I watched a great sermon yesterday by Mark Driscoll on idolatry vs. worship. In it he argues that we are all worshipers of something. He defines true worship as occurring when our focus is on the Creator while idolatry is defined by worshiping creation. He pointed out that we all can easily become idolaters when we allow "good-things to become god-things; and that's a bad thing." He also points out that when we idolize something, we are often led to demonize others in order to justify our position. Idolatry, Driscoll points out, is more than the love of money, power, and position...sometimes it can be the worshiping of family, marriage, sex, relationships, politics, sports...anything that consumes our time, energy, finances, or emotions. Idolatry is giving the world/creation what rightly belongs to God the Creator (glory). He concludes by looking at leaders within churches, and how they can fall prey to "ministry idolatry." Here are some of the convicting examples he gives:
  1. Attendance Idolatry – Does your joy change when your attendance/giving changes?
  2. Gift Idolatry – Do you feel God uses you because you are so skilled?
  3. Truth Idolatry – Do you consider yourself more righteous than the ‘simple Christian’ because of your knowledge/experience?
  4. Fruit Idolatry – Do you point to your successes as God’s approval of you?
  5. Tradition Idolatry – Are you more committed more to traditions than for Christ?
  6. Method Idolatry – Do you worship your method as your mediator?
  7. Officer Idolatry – Are you motivated by your title?
  8. Success Idolatry – Do you desire to ‘win’?
  9. Ministry Idolatry – Do you walk with God only to help your ministry?
  10. Innovative Idolatry – Does it matter that your ministry be considered unique or creative?
  11. Leader Idolatry – Who other than Christ are you imaging? “First requirement of the Gospel is repentance. Anyone who doesn’t repent is a heretic.” J.I. Packer

The below video of Dricoll's message can also be viewed HERE

Romans 1:25 "they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator"

reTHINK: Decide for yourself, is student ministry working? - PART 3

More helpful excerpts from reTHINK by Steve Wright on Student Discipleship:
  • “Across the next ten years, some churches will get better and better at doing the wrong thing – with excellence. For awhile, they will appear to be successful. Such churches will build buildings to support segregation – and they will do so with excellence.” (59)
  • “Our churches’ values are exposed when the first questions after every ministry event are: ‘How many came?’ rather than ‘Did this event give a glimpse of the glory of God?’ ‘How many responded?’ rather than ‘Were the families and the church championed?’ ‘How many came forward in baptism?’ rather than ‘How will we disciple those who responded to become faithful followers of Christ?’” (62)

Scriptural Principles for Student Discipleship:

  • Deuteronomy 6:4-9 - v.7 "Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."
  • Psalm 78:1-7 - v.5b-6a"which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them"
  • Ephesians 6:4 - "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord"
  • Proverbs 1:8-9 - v.8 "Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching."
  • Malachi 4:6 - "He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse"
  • Luke 1:17 - "And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord"
  • Proverbs 22:6 - "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."
  • Psalm 127:1-4 - v.3 "Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him."
  • Proverbs 4:1-11 - v.10 "Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many."
  • Colossians 3:20-21 - "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged."
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 - "as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God"

reTHINK: Decide for yourself, is student ministry working? - PART 2

Some more excerpts from Steve Wright's reTHINK:
  • “We must equip parents with the tools and understanding to disciple their teens” (86)
  • “Josh McDowell shares that 78% of churched teenagers say their parents shape their attitude and actions. These studies also show that parents have three times more influence over their students than pastors or youth group leaders” (112)
  • “The average teen spends two hours at church per week. That is less than 2 percent of a teen’s time” (153)
  • “Resource, Train, and Involve – It is our three-step strategy to ensure parents are no longer sidelined in our ministry.” (158)
  • “offer them tools and encouragement in navigating the waters of raising an adolescent” (159)
  • “Let’s get our parents and their children on the same page to encourage carryover at home” (161)
  • Supports the formation and use of a Parent Leadership Team to “provide wisdom, information, encouragement, and perspective to the Student Ministry Leadership Team” (178)
  • “If I could go back, I would seek to build disciples over building crowds. I would seek the applause of heaven over the applause of men and seek a biblical model that produces lasting fruit.” (199)
  • “We must champion the parents and point teens back to mom and dad in tough times.” (216)

“The set of principles that guide my ministry are:

  1. Everything I do must honor God above all. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
  2. We are to be biblical stewards of everything God has entrusted to us. (Matthew 6:19-21)
  3. God has ordained parents as the primary disciplers of their children. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
  4. God has ordained the church to support, equip and resource families. (Ephesians 4:12)
  5. The goal of student ministry is to make disciples who seek to bring others into a relationship with Christ. (Matthew 28:19-20)
  6. The three primary needs of students and adults are alike: love and care, a model to follow, and truth to build their life on. (1 Peter 2:21)
  7. Effective student ministry co-champions the family and the church. (Acts 2:42-47)
  8. A biblical framework is always valued above cultural relevancy. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)” (122)

reTHINK: Decide for yourself, is student ministry working? - PART 1

Have you ever wondered why churches have student ministries? Why they are only a relatively recent trend? Why the increase in funding and attention does not necessarily equate to a burgeoning, enduring impact on the lives of our students? I just finished an outstanding book that is informative, encouraging, and yet challenging. reTHINK: Decide for yourself, is student ministry working? by Steve Wright with Chris Graves is written to critically evaluate the Student Ministry model that has emerged over the past 50 years and compare it with what Scripture teaches regarding the disciple-making of teenagers. The authors speak so clearly and in such a convicting manner that I'm going to directly share some of the quotes/portions of the book that stuck out for me in a series of posts. Here it goes....
  • There is clearly a problem in Student Ministries across the world as seen through four “gauges”: 1) student retention rates, 2) student baptism rates 3)student pastor tenures & 4) student Bible literacy (17)
  • “The solution isn’t to kick the traditional student ministry up a notch; the solution is to reexamine how the Bible should guide our framework to develop students and encourage the parents and adults who influence them” (30)
  • “Parent ministry needs to be thought through as thoroughly as student ministry “ (51)
  • One study showed that students looking for (in order) opportunities to serve, deep conversations, missions trips, accountability, and more time in worship with “a desire for more games” coming in last (54)
  • Another study showed "the most common reason students gave for attending church was ‘to better understand what I believe.’” (54)
The author, Steve Wright, has written many other works available through InQuest Ministries and maintains a Blog, Lasting Divergence, "to encourage parents and churches to partner together as they present the whole counsel of God to children (Acts 20:27)" More helpful excerpts tomorrow...

Social Media Revolution

A thought-provoking video on the influence of Social Media today.... As Christians we should be well-aware that the overhwelming use of social networking is not a fading trend, but an aspect of culture that may be redeemed and used to the glory of God. For some that may mean a more careful and disciplined use...for others it may mean the beginning or wise increase in its use. Followers of Christ cannot fail to communicate the Gospel effectively...we must make the most of the opportunities we have to witness of the work God has done and is doing in us! Acts 4:12 "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." 1 Corinthians 10:31 "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

Quote - St. Ignatius of Antioch

"It is better for me to die in behalf of Jesus Christ, than to reign over all the ends of the earth." St. Ignatius of Antioch

Unity vs. Disunity in Marriage

An interesting article on caught my attention today with its title of "Christian Couples Staying Faithful on Facebook, Twitter." The article discusses an apparent trend of sharing email addresses and other forms of electronic communication. It discusses examples in which couples felt led towards such a decision in order to better protect themselves from temptations and communications that might be harmful to their marriage. I think I take for granted the lessons I learned growing up and through Scripture as I prepared for marriage. I always assumed the unity inherent in marriage and valued the wisdom in sharing information and being transparent (no secrets) in my marriage. Although Brittney and I do not share the same Facebook and email accounts, there is never a sense of secrecy or compartmentalization. We each have totally shared access/passwords to all of our accounts and have a spirit of trust in what we communicate. Likewise all of our financial accounts are totally combined so that there is no sense of "my money" versus "your money" in what we earn or spend. Such trust within a marriage is something I greatly treasure. It is hard to imagine a spirit of distrust, compartmentalization, and secrecy within a marriage and the damage that can do in reducing the unity of the relationship. Are there secrets in your marriage? Evidenced by unshared passwords or accounts? Do you have a temptation to have a compartmentalize part of your life that you are unwilling to share with your spouse? Is there a need for confronting agents and areas of disunity within your marriage? Are you giving Satan an easy avenue for attacking your marriage and creating lasting damage? It is my hope and my prayer that we all seek daily to create, cultivate, and protect unity with our spouses in all areas of our life to the glory of God! Psalm 90:8 "You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence." Mark 10:6-9 "6'But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.' 7'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. 9Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.""

Quote - Augustine

"We want to reach the kingdom of God, but we don't want to travel by way of death. And yet there stands Necessity saying: 'This way, please.' Do not hesitate, man, to go this way, when this is the way that God came to you." Augustine

Humility & Servanthood

I was reminded of the important of humility in the Christian life as I watched a video of John Piper's sermon this week titled Greatness, Humility, Servanthood. In it he referenced C.J. Mahaney's book, Humility: True Greatness as a focus of their church staff's small group time in the year ahead. I've personally benefited much from this work. Piper's sermon highlighted many great points and I especially enjoyed one statement he made and several Biblical passages he referenced.
  • "Humility is the soil in which everything good grows in the Christian life. If that soil goes away, everything withers" - John Piper
  • 1 Corinthians 15:10 "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. "
  • Philippians 2:3-8 " 3Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."

What example of humility we have in Christ on the Cross. In considering such a sacrifice for sin, how can we be anything but humble?

Video of John Piper's sermon below:

Quote - Oswald Chambers

"Character in a saint means the disposition of Jesus Christ persistently manifested." Oswald Chambers

Trying Something New...

After years of "Favoriting" websites on my Internet browser and then going between them to read articles and find updates, I have finally conceded the inefficiency of this process (opening 20+ tabs/windows). In response I am now using an RSS feed reader, namely Google Reader. Google Reader serves like an email directory almost, where I can see which blogs or websites I "subscribe" to have new articles or postings. I can then scroll through the updates without ever leaving the website I am on (Google Reader). What feeds am I currently subscribed (free) to? Here they are, in alphabetical order!

In essence, with RSS feed readers (like Google Reader) you essentially get to create your own newspaper of sorts with the types of articles you like to read. I'm sure my Internet newspaper will change overtime, and maybe a new reading technique will eventually replace it, but I am enjoying the efficiency of Google Reader so far!

Proverbs 15:22 "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed."

Ecclesiastes 7:5 "It is better to heed a wise man's rebuke than to listen to the song of fools."

Ecclesiastes 8:1 "Who is like the wise man? Who knows the explanation of things? Wisdom brightens a man's face and changes its hard appearance."

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