Archive for November, 2008

Over the next few days millions of people will get together across America and beyond to give thanks for something.

The question is—what are people giving thanks for?

For many it is a time to gather with family they may or may not want to be with, watch sports and eat a lot of Turkey. Surely we have more to be thankful for than beer, football and gluttonous feasting. Right?

As I have been thinking about these things the old hymn “Man of Sorrows” keeps coming to mind, especially the refrain “hallelujah what a Savior”. It sounds like a total “Sunday School” answer but the reality is that Jesus is the only true reason for deep, abiding thankfulness and joy. Everything else will fail or pass away at some point.

In Christ we find all truth, grace, love, compassion and forgiveness which he freely offers to us at the cost of his own blood. This changes everything. In Christ we can see flawed family members and friends as people deeply loved by a Savior and in need of redemption just like us. In Christ every feast becomes a foretaste of the joy we will have dining with Him in heaven (Is. 25:6). In Christ even football becomes… well I’m not sure what Jesus has to do with football but that’s just me.

Last Sunday I led the Mars Hill Ballard campus in a very simple rendition of “Man of Sorrows” focusing on this refrain, “hallelujah what a Savior!” I’ll ask you the same question I asked them. What has Jesus saved you from? Where would you be without his initiation in your life?

I challenge you to ask this question and share the answers with whoever you gather with this week. It’s always all about Jesus. Here is the the song we sang together last weekend.

check it out plus a free song and video here

Jonathan Edwards has a word for our time that could hardly be more pointed if he were living today. It has to do with the foundation of gratitude.

True gratitude or thankfulness to God for his kindness to us, arises from a foundation laid before, of love to God for what he is in himself; whereas a natural gratitude has no such antecedent foundation. The gracious stirrings of grateful affection to God, for kindness received, always are from a stock of love already in the heart, established in the first place on other grounds, viz. God’s own excellency.1

In other words, gratitude that is pleasing to God is not first a delight in the benefits God gives (though that is part of it). True gratitude must be rooted in something else that comes first, namely, a delight in the beauty and excellency of God’s character. If this is not the foundation of our gratitude, then it is not above what the “natural man,” apart from the Spirit and the new nature in Christ, experiences. In that case “gratitude” to God is no more pleasing to God than all the other emotions which unbelievers have without delighting in him.

You would not be honored if I thanked you often for your gifts to me, but had no deep and spontaneous regard for you as a person. You would feel insulted, no matter how much I thanked you for your gifts. If your character and personality do not attract me or give me joy in being around you, then you will just feel used, like a tool or a machine to produce the things I really love.

read it all here

Pray for our friends in India

Posted: November 27, 2008 by limabean03 in Current Issues, Trinity Tidings
Tags: , ,

terrorist-attack Several sites in Mumbai, India’s financial capital, were hit Wednesday night by a wave of terror attacks, reportedly aimed at Americans and Britons, that left dozens dead and hundreds injured as Indian forces battled with terrorist gunmen to free hostages from two luxury hotels.There were varying reports of at least 50 and as many as 100 people rescued from the Taj Mahal where a fire had broken out, and India’s NDTV reported Thursday morning that authorities had the scene under control. Meanwhile, police continued to evacuate people through the Oberoi hotel’s basement, and gunmen reportedly had taken hostages elsewhere in the city.

Casualty figures varied, with most media reporting at least 80 dead and 200 injured. Of the gunmen, at least four were dead and nine arrested. NDTV is reporting five suspected terrorists were dead, but that couldn’t be confirmed.

Eleven police officers were killed in the attack, but it was not clear if they were included in the number already reported dead, Reuters reported.

It isn’t clear yet what motivated the attacks, which also targeted a popular tourist attraction and a crowded train station, though eyewitnesses said gunmen were heard shouting questions about who American and British passports.

read the rest here

“But the Father would not be separated from his Son, nor will he now turn his face from those whose likeness the Son took upon him, and for whose sake he bore their shame. The Incarnation is the ultimate reason why the service of God cannot be divorced from the service of man. He who says he loves God and hates his brother is a liar.”

Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, pg 129

Buy it here

I. God wishes us to study Christ

Again and again He opens out His ‘unsearchable riches,’ and gives us another and another view of the ‘unspeakable gift.’ Study His person; study His work—the wisdom, and the power, and the love of God are there! Study all His fullness, and, as you study it, drink it in! Study the cross; study the resurrection; study the present majesty of the ascended and interceding Christ; study His coming glory as Judge, and King, and Bridegroom. There is none like Him—neither shall ever be. He is the chief among ten thousand; the only perfect One; the all-perfect One; the representative of the invisible Godhead; the doer of the Father’s will; the accomplisher of the Father’s purpose—both of vengeance and of grace.

 II. Christ wishes us to study himself
‘Look unto me,’ He says in this book. Jesus showed to His servant John the things concerning Himself, that the Church in all ages might see and know these things. He unveils Himself in His glory, and says, Look on me! Here Christ is all and in all; and He would gladly teach us here what that all is, and what that in all implies.

 III. Christ uses ‘human’ messengers.

He is head over all things to the Church, and He makes use of all things as His servants, saying to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes. Though invisible now and in the heaves, He uses human agencies still. He speaks through men; He teaches through men; He comforts through men; He warns through men. ‘We beg you, in Christ’s stead be you reconciled to God,’ are words which show us how He stands towards us.

IV. God uses ‘angelic’ messengers.

In the government both of the church and of the world He makes use of angels. They are ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation. Jesus comes Himself to John; yet the Revelation comes to John by an angel. How the angel communicated with John we know not. Who he was, whether Michael or Gabriel, we know not. But it is an angelic messenger that is made use of here. This whole book is full of angelic agencies and ministries. God lifts a little of the veil, and shows us angels at work in conducting the affairs of earth. This is the book of ANGELS—for the word occurs in it seventy-six times. They minister to man; they execute God’s judgments; they do His will here; excelling in strength, and able to counteract the power of Satan and his angels.

V. God annexes a ‘special blessedness’ to the study of this book.

Few believe this; fewer act upon it. The Apocalypse is too many like the Sibyl’s books, or the Iliad of Homer. The so-called philosophy of the age is undermining the prophetic word, reducing it to a mere collection of figures, or symbolic representation of principles or abstract truths. Prophecy as the direct prediction by God of what is to come to pass on earth is set aside, and the prophetic books are studies merely in reference to their poetry or their lofty ideas. Blessedness in studying them is seldom thought of, even by many Christians. Yet the word of God here stands true. Prophecy is a sure word, and it is as blessed as it is sure. Woe to him who slights it! Blessed are all those who meditate on it, seek to know it, and take it for guidance and counsel in the evil day!

 

Bonar’s entire commentary on Revelation can be found here

From the daily grind to unethical demands, Christians struggle to honor God at work. How do we find our identity amidst the challenges of vocational excellence, ethics, evangelism, and essence? If we emphasize one of these aspects to the neglect of the other, our motivation for work is easily distorted and our results can dishonor God. However, if we approach our work with these four aspects of work in proper focus, work can become worship! We can work in the workplace and not be “of it.”

Ethical Work
The way we carry out our work can honor or dishonor God. If we fudge on the books, arrive late to work, or lie about our progress, we deny God honor in the realm of creation and culture. Even if our ethical compromise produces a superior product, we cheat the Creator of his glory by denying his moral nature and biblical commands. The end does not justify the means. Christian work cannot be excellent and unethical. How we work reflects who we are.

Excellent Work
On the other hand, we can work ethically without producing excellence. You may be punctual and honest while turning out inferior reports and products. If we are to do our work in an excellent way, we must not only strive to honor the moral nature of God but also the essential nature of God, his manifold excellence and comprehensive glory.

read the rest here

Am I the only one here wondering why the good subjects of the Queen over in England are being asked to prop up failing churches? Churches who have had a hiccup in the past deserve a second chance, but churches with sustained decline should either hire a faithful, sharp, mission minded pastor and make the needed changes to reach the lost or be taken off life support and turned into a museum. From my experience, the biggest problem with the Church of England is the Church of England. They need to quit thinking about saving an institution and start thinking about the lost in their own country

The number of churches in Britain is forecast to fall from by a fifth in a generation, from 48,500 now to only 39,200 in 2030. There is currently a shortfall of around £80 million each year for vital repairs to churches, according to English Heritage, leaving many parishes struggling.

“I genuinely recognise that there is an issue here that we would do well as a country to face up to and see if we can come up with some imaginative ways of helping communities rally around these important buildings,” said Mr Burnham.

P.S., don’t you just love the line about “saving buildings.” This of course was the prime concern of our Lord Jesus

read it all