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

Of all the “New Atheists” out there, Christopher Hitchens is by far the most fun to listen to.  Though nothing is new about his arguments, his quick wit and sharp tongue make him easy listening. I also admire the brutal honesty that he assesses the actual (not confessed) morality of religious people as well as the moral logic of the atheist. As for Doug Wilson, I know little of him but I must say I was dissapointed by some of his opening statement where he seemed to restate Lewis’ argument against naturalism which has more holes than a block of swiss cheese. He did eventually make somewhat of a recovery and showed quite well on certain points.  Below is a preview of the debate taken from youtube.  The full debate, a whopping 1hr 52min, is well worth your time.  The link is just below the youtube video.

For the full debate click here

I have said in the past that science could neither prove nor disprove God, since the supernatural could never be subject to the scientific method. However, science could point towards God, as a reasonable conclusion of scientific discovery.

If you want to know why atheists seem to have given up the scientific card, the current issue of Discover magazine provides part of the answer. The magazine has an interesting story by Tim Folger which is titled “Science’s Alternative to an Intelligent Creator.” The article begins by noting “an extraordinary fact about the universe: its basic properties are uncannily suited for life.” As physicist Andrei Linde puts it, “We have a lot of really, really strange coincidences, and all of these coincidences are such that they make life possible.”

Too many “coincidences,” however, imply a plot. Folger’s article shows that if the numerical values of the universe, from the speed of light to the strength of gravity, were even slightly different, there would be no universe and no life. Recently scientists have discovered that most of the matter and energy in the universe is made up of so-called “dark” matter and “dark” energy. It turns out that the quantity of dark energy seems precisely calibrated to make possible not only our universe but observers like us who can comprehend that universe.

Even Steven Weinberg, the Nobel laureate in physics and an outspoken atheist, remarks that “this is fine-tuning that seems to be extreme, far beyond what you could imagine just having to accept as a mere accident.” And physicist Freeman Dyson draws the appropriate conclusion from the scientific evidence to date: “The universe in some sense knew we were coming.”

Folger then admits that this line of reasoning makes a number of scientists very uncomfortable. “Physicists don’t like coincidences.” “They like even less the notion that life is somehow central to the universe, and yet recent discoveries are forcing them to confront that very idea.”

read the whole thing here

hat tip to standfirm for digging this up

The first in our new series on Revelation.  In the future, these notes can be found under “Book of Revelation” under categories.

“To inspire all people, through the power of the Gospel, to become living members of the body of Christ”

Revelation 1.1-3

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near (more…)

well worth your time

“to whom does God tell us to look for salvation? O, does it not lower the pride of man, when we hear the Lord say, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth?” It is not. “Look to your priest, and be ye saved:” if you did, there would be another god, and beside him there would be some one else. It is not “Look to yourself;” if so, then there would be a being who might arrogate some of the praise of salvation. But it is “Look unto me.” How frequently you who are coming to Christ look to yourselves. “O!” you say, “I do not repent enough.” That is looking to yourself. “I do not believe enough.” That is looking to yourself. “I am too unworthy.” That is looking to yourself. “I cannot discover,” says another, “that I have any righteousness.” It is quite right to say that you have not any righteousness; but it is quite wrong to look for any. It is, “Look unto me.” God will have you turn your eye off yourself and look unto him. The hardest thing in the world is to turn a man’s eye off himself; as long as he lives, he always has a predilection to turn his eyes inside, and look at himself; whereas God says, “Look unto me.” From the cross of Calvary, where the bleeding hands of Jesus drop mercy; from the Garden of Gethsemane, where the bleeding pores of the Saviour sweat pardons, the cry comes, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” From Calvary’s summit, where Jesus cries, “It is finished,” I hear a shout, “Look, and be saved.” But there comes a vile cry from our soul, “Nay, look to yourself! look to yourself!” Ah, my hearer, look to yourself, and you will be damned. That certainly will come of it. As long as you look to yourself there is no hope for you. It is not a consideration of what you are, but a consideration of what God is, and what Christ is, that can save you.”

read it all here

This is the text that I spoke from at Sunday School on Nov 23.  These notes are not the full talk.  If you were there, you will notice much new material and much left out.  I write this out in full so that I can internalize and deliver it without being too dependent on a “script”.  Nevertheless, the substance is still here.  Enjoy!

Thy Will be Done!

“To Inspire All People, Through the Power of the Gospel, to Become Living Members of the Body of Christ”

Sunday School

Nov 23, 2008


This morning we will examine the second petition of the Lord’s prayer, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”  It is important before we begin for me to state clearly what it is that I hope we will accomplish this morning.  What we will not be doing this morning is a systematic look at the nature of God’s will as it is revealed in the Bible.  Rather, what I hope to do this morning is to help us understand what it means to pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  I hope that as we present the Gospel as it applies to this portion of the Lord’s prayer, it will affect your heart in such a way that you will be inspired to come more alive to God, as is our stated purpose in all that we do here at Trinity Church. 

Let us begin with a brief examination of God’s will. (more…)

New York University professor of psychiatry Judith Brook explains that the issue for parents is one of credibility. “Praise is important, but not vacuous praise,” she says. “It has to be based on a real thing–some skill or talent they have.” Once children hear praise they interpret as meritless, they discount not just the insincere praise, but sincere praise as well.

Scholars from Reed College and Stanford reviewed over 150 praise studies. Their meta-analysis determined that praised students become risk-averse and lack perceived autonomy. The scholars found consistent correlations between a liberal use of praise and students’ “shorter task persistence, more eye-checking with the teacher, and inflected speech such that answers have the intonation of questions.”

Dweck’s research on overpraised kids strongly suggests that image maintenance becomes their primary concern–they are more competitive and more interested in tearing others down. A raft of very alarming studies illustrate this.

The article indicates that older children and teenagers learn to become cynical about the undeserved praise they receive from parents, teachers, and others. They actually perform better if they receive serious and skilled criticism, rather than empty praise.

The article is a must-read for parents, teachers, and all concerned with the culture around us. The article is devastating to the self-esteem movement, but encouraging to all who hope for a recovery of cultural sanity — at least on this one significant point. Praising effort and achievement yields positive results. Praising for the sake of praising hurts far more than it helps. It is a recipe for individual and social disaster.

you really should check it all out here

Resonet in Laudibus
A weekly newsletter for the Music Ministry of
Trinity Episcopal Church

…to inspire all people through the power of the Gospel
to become living members of the Body of Christ

November 23, 2008
Christ the King
This Week’s Lessons
Ezekiel 34:11-17
Psalm 95:1-7 (Anglican Chant: Hurd)
Luke 23:32-43
Most of the feast days on our calendar commutate some event: Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, Epiphany, the Transfiguration, and so forth.  A few feasts, like The Holy Trinity or All Saints, remind us of some doctrine or teaching of the church.  Christ the King, the last Sunday of the Church year, is unique among all of these observances in that it commemorates something that has not yet happened; that is, Christ’s coming in final victory to gather his people unto himself and to reign over them as King.  The context for this celebration is that the passion and death of Christ on the cross seals this victory for him and for us, and that we have a King who reigns from the Cross. (more…)

Suppose for a moment that you were allowed to enter heaven without holiness. What would you do? What possible enjoyment could you feel there? To which of all the saints would you join yourself and by whose side would you sit? Their pleasures are not your pleasures, their tastes are not your tastes, their character not your character. How could you possibly be happy, if you had not been holy on earth?

Now perhaps you love the company of the light and careless, the worldly-minded and the covetous, the reveler and the pleasure-seeker, the ungodly and the profane. There will be none such in heaven.

Now perhaps you think the saints of God too strict and particular and serious. You rather avoid them. You have no delight in their society. There will be no other company in heaven.

Now perhaps you think praying and Scripture reading, and hymn singing, dull and melancholy and stupid work, a thing to be tolerated now and then, but not enjoyed. You reckon the Sabbath a burden and a weariness; you could not possibly spend more than a small part of it in worshipping God. But remember, heaven is a never-ending Sabbath. The inhabitants thereof rest not day and night, saying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty,” and singing the praise of the Lamb. How could an unholy man find pleasure in occupation such as this? (more…)