Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Theology of Vacationing

A Nice Place To Sit
By Mark Johnston
August 8, 2017

This summer has been no different than those which proceded it. At this time of year, you are possibly continuing to see references to the usual litany of 'Summer Reading recommendations for Pastors.' As end-of-summer vacations loom, men in the ministry feel the need to catch up on those weighty tomes of theology that have been gathering dust somewhere but which a guilty conscience tells them ought to be read. (Though their wife and children may have other ideas!)

Despite the title, these paragraphs are not intended to add to this ministerial guilt trip; but, rather, they are intended to relieve it! Instead of offering yet more theology to take on vacation, I wish to offer a theological justification for viewing a vacation as being a good thing - and this, not just at 'vacation times' when they happen to occur...   the rest image
Flowing out of this we can't help but notice Jesus' appreciation of the rhythm of life. Built into the fabric of the created order, God has embedded the principle of Sabbath. It is the cycle of a 7-day week that cannot be explained by planetary or lunar alignment; only by the words of Genesis. (How astonishing that this has shaped the entire history of a humanity most of whom have never read it.)

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Friday, August 4, 2017

When on the mount the Lord appeared...

File:Giovanni Gerolamo Savoldo 005.jpg
When on the mount the Lord appeared
Transfigured to the sight,
His countenance was like the sun,
His raiment glistened white.
But dull the minds, and dark the eyes,
On whom such glory shone;
They saw not God upon the mount,
They saw but man alone.
And when the dark and cloudy days
Of death and sorrow came,
What were their thoughts of Him who hung
Upon the cross of shame?
They knew not that the God of Life
An offering yielded there,
And of His will endured for all
The load of sin He bare.
Lord, to the mount where Thou art seen
In all Thy glory bright,
Thy servants now would wend their way
To gaze upon the Light,
And there behold, in glory clad,
The Light to mortals given,
That in the night that hid the cross,
Shone with the light of heaven.”
-Hymns from the Morningland: tr. John Brownlie image

Monday, July 24, 2017

Walk A Life Unnoticed

Wednesday, June 28, 2017
by Paul Tripp

We don't know much about the man Enoch.

The Bible doesn't divulge any details of his life, amazing feats, battles won, or journies taken by faith like it does with other biblical characters. All we know is that he was the seventh generation between Adam and Noah, that his father was Jared, and that his son was the famous long-living Methuselah (see Genesis 5:18-24).

Despite his unremarkable life (in terms of historical prominence and biblical detail), Enoch is the second character enshrined in the famous "Hall of Faith" - Hebrews 11.

What's the reason for Enoch's inclusion among men like Noah and Abraham and Moses? I have a theory: like Enoch, we will live unnoticed.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that we won't have influence or that people will ignore us. I simply mean that the majority of Christians will never make their way into history books. We'll only have a small following on Twitter Facebook. Most of us won't have a million people reading our blogs, and when we die, apart from a loyal circle of family and close friends, the details of our lives will be largely forgotten by those who knew us.

Are you discouraged by that reality? Be honest: it's tempting to think that we can't make a difference. It's easy to think that who we are, what we believe, and how we live won't impact others. Aren't we just biological blips on the huge universal radar of space and time?..... The rest image

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Exchange Your Dreams for God’s Plans

by MaryLynn Johnson
July 5, 2017

God’s plans for my life have almost never been my plans for my life.

When I was thirteen, I knew what college I wanted to attend even before I started high school, what career I wanted to pursue afterward, what age I thought would be ideal to get married, and even what life might look like well into my twenties. I held onto these plans for a long time, until real life happened — and not like I thought it would.

Sometimes it felt like I had no control at all over plans that fell apart. I tried to make my timeline fit, but my plans just weren’t working. Despite all my dreams and efforts, almost nothing on my list happened in the way or timing I expected. It was quickly evident that the Lord had something else in mind for my life.

As God redirected my life at each step, often against my will, he also changed my heart. With each delayed or unfulfilled plan, I began to learn what it meant to willingly, even joyfully, exchange my personal dreams for God’s good plans for me. the rest image

Monday, July 3, 2017

No matter what we pray for...

No matter what we pray for, whether it be temporal or spiritual things, little things or great things, gifts for ourselves or for others, our prayers should really resolve themselves into a quiet waiting for the Lord in order to hear what it is that the Spirit desires to have us pray for at that particular time.
...O. Hallesby

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I realised that the deepest spiritual lessons...

I realised that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done. -Elisabeth Elliot

Random links: June 21, 2017

College of DuPage STEM Professional Development Workshop Teaches the Art of Escape Games 2017 6
4 Promising Opportunities in University Evangelism
 By Tim Keller & Michael Keller
" We hope realism concerning the challenges of university evangelism doesn’t give the impression we think the prospects for university missions and evangelism are bleak. Not at all. The current climate, for all its challenges, also provides promising opportunities..." image

Podcast: Five Big Problems for Small Churches
Highlights include:
  • Small churches are not a problem, virtue, or excuse.
  • Just because your church is small does not mean you can’t do good ministry.
  • There’s not a single command to the New Testament church that can’t be accomplished by a small church.
  • The sooner you can assess a Sunday service or church event the better.
  • Churches should purposefully and intentionally equip members for ministry.
  • It is a pastor’s job (according to the New Testament) to equip others to do the work of ministry.

  • How to Remember the Bible Verses You Memorize
    The discipline of memorizing Bible verses pays great dividends in the life of a Christian. Having Scripture stored up in our hearts helps us to remember God’s promises in tough times, flee from sin in moments of temptation, possess greater confidence in sharing the Gospel, and give fresh words of encouragement to struggling Christians. The problem for us is that while memorizing a verse presents a challenge, remembering it in three months is a great difficulty. We often find ourselves wanting to quote something that we spent two days memorizing but cannot remember the exact wording of the verse or the precise reference to save our lives. How can we remember the Bible verses that we memorized a week, a month, or a year ago?...

    Why are there so many Different Interpretations of the Bible?

    Why are there so many Different Interpretations of the Bible? The Problem of “Pervasive Interpretive Pluralism”  Back in April of this year, at the national conference of the Gospel Coalition, Kevin DeYoung addressed the question of why there appear to be so many different interpretations of the Bible? If the Bible is inspired and sufficient, why do so many Christians disagree with one another on particular texts and topics? The language of “pervasive interpretive pluralism” was first used by author Christian Smith, who recently converted to Roman Catholicism. Kevin’s message was excellent, but I thought I would add to what he said with a few observations of my own.

    Let’s begin with the important concession that this is a problem that all people face, regardless of their religious affiliation. It is not solely a Protestant problem. Anyone who thinks there is monolithic and always unified interpretation in the Roman Catholic Church is simply uninformed. Not only is this a problem in all families of the Christian faith, it is a problem in all spheres of earthly existence. In other words, this isn’t simply a religious problem, it is a human problem that infects every discipline of study and every work of literature that we read. Nevertheless, it is especially present in Christianity because we affirm that our “work of literature”, the Bible, is inspired, inerrant, authoritative, and sufficient...

    Is the ESV Literal and the NIV Gender Neutral?
    ...There actually are five methods on translation with three sub-categories for the handling of gender language. Translations are all on a continuum, overlapping one another, and hence it is misleading to picture them as different points on a line. I am guessing, but for example, about eighty percent of the ESV and the NIV are the same, once you account for different translations of individual words...

    Friday, April 21, 2017

    Jesu, be endless praise to Thee...

    Jesu, be endless praise to Thee,
    Whose boundless mercy hath for me—
    For me a full atonement made,
    An everlasting ransom paid.
    O let the dead now hear Thy voice;
    Now bid Thy banished ones rejoice;
    Their beauty this, their glorious dress,
    Jesu, Thy blood and righteousness.
    ...Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf image

    Thursday, April 20, 2017

    The Resurrection narratives...

    The Resurrection narratives are not a picture of survival after death; they record how a totally new mode of being has arisen in the Universe. Something new had appeared in the Universe: as new as the first coming of organic life. This Man, after death, does not get divided into “ghost” and “corpse.” A new mode of being has arisen. That is the story. What are we going to make of it? ...C.S. Lewis image

    Tuesday, April 18, 2017

    It can be so easy for Easter to be a moment in time...

    Easter Morning 05
    It can be so easy for Easter to be a moment in time and not a moment that changes time. Our experience with Christ should change our lives. We shouldn’t experience the resurrection and then just go back to the day to day lives we lead unchanged. Life should be different because of the grace of Christ. Did Easter change you, or are you back to the daily grind? Jesus wants more from us than to just experience the joy of the resurrection - He wants us to live changed lives! ...Don Crane image

    Sunday, April 16, 2017

    Easter 2017

    I greet Thy sepulchre, salute Thy grave,
    That blest enclosure, where the angels gave
    The first glad tidings of Thy early light,
    And resurrection from the earth and night.
    I see that morning in Thy convert’s tears,
    Fresh as the dew, which but this dawning wears.
    I smell her spices; and her ointment yields
    As rich a scent as the now primros’d fields:
    The Day-star smiles, and light, with the deceased,
    Now shines in all the chambers of the East.
    ...Henry Vaughan image

    Saturday, April 15, 2017

    Holy Saturday 2017

    For Holy Saturday: Jesus Laid in the Tomb
    LORD, God of my salvation;
    I cry out day and night before you.
    Let my prayer come before you;
    incline your ear to my cry!  
    For my soul is full of troubles,
    and my life draws near to Sheol.
    I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
    I am a man who has no strength,
    like one set loose among the dead,
    like the slain that lie in the grave,
    like those whom you remember no more,
    for they are cut off from your hand.
    You have put me in the depths of the pit,
    in the regions dark and deep.
    Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
    and you overwhelm me with all your waves.  
    You have caused my companions to shun me;
    you have made me a horror to them.
    I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
    my eye grows dim through sorrow.
    Every day I call upon you, O LORD;
    I spread out my hands to you.
    Do you work wonders for the dead?
    Do the departed rise up to praise you?
    Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
    or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
    Are your wonders known in the darkness,
    or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
    But I, O LORD, cry to you;
    in the morning my prayer comes before you.
    O LORD, why do you cast my soul away?
    Why do you hide your face from me?
    Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,
    I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.
    Your wrath has swept over me;
    your dreadful assaults destroy me.
    They surround me like a flood all day long;
    they close in on me together.
    You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;
    my companions have become darkness.
    -Psalm 88 image

    Friday, April 14, 2017

    Good Friday 2017

    Christ on the Cross
    I bind my heart, this tide
    To the Galilean’s side,
    To the wounds of Calvary—
    To the Christ who died for me.

    I bind my soul this day
    To the brother far away
    And the brother near at hand,
    In this town and in this land.

    I bind my heart in thrall
    To God, the Lord of all,
    To God, the poor man’s Friend,
    And the Christ whom He did send.

    I bind myself to peace,
    To make strife and envy cease.
    God, knit Thou sure the cord
    Of my thralldom to my Lord.
    ...Lauchlan MacLean Watt image

    Thursday, April 13, 2017

    Maundy Thursday 2017

    The Last Supper 09
    Shepherd of souls, refresh and bless
    Thy chosen pilgrim flock
    With manna in the wilderness,
    With water from the rock.
    We would not live by bread alone,
    But by Thy word of grace,
    In strength of which we travel on
    To our abiding place.
    Be known to us in breaking bread,
    And do not then depart;
    Savior, abide with us, and spread
    Thy table in our heart.
    Lord, sup with us in love divine,
    Thy Body and Thy Blood,
    That living bread, that heavenly wine,
    Be our immortal food.
    -James Montgomery image

    Friday, March 31, 2017


    Jan 19, 2017
    Steve Angrisano
    A great prayer to start any day..."In His tender compassion, the dawn now breaks on high". Blessings.

    The Christian landscape...

    Convict Ruins
    The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict, half-built towers—the ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish. All too many people still ignore Christ’s warning and undertake to follow him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of doing so. The result is the great scandal of so-called nominal Christianity.
    ...John RW Stott image

    Saturday, March 25, 2017

    Of the Father’s love begotten...

    Of the Father’s love begotten, ere the worlds began to be,
     He is Alpha and Omega, He the source, the ending He,
     Of the things that are, that have been,
     And that future years shall see, evermore and evermore!

    At His Word the worlds were framèd;
    He commanded; it was done:
     Heaven and earth and depths of ocean
    in their threefold order one;
     All that grows beneath the shining
     Of the moon and burning sun, evermore and evermore!

    He is found in human fashion, death and sorrow here to know,
     That the race of Adam’s children
    doomed by law to endless woe,
     May not henceforth die and perish
     In the dreadful gulf below, evermore and evermore!

    O that birth forever blessèd, when the virgin, full of grace,
    By the Holy Ghost conceiving, bare the Savior of our race;
     And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
     First revealed His sacred face, evermore and evermore!

    Christ, to Thee with God the Father,
    and, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
     Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving,
    and unwearied praises be:
     Honor, glory, and dominion,
     And eternal victory, evermore and evermore!
    -Aurelius Prudentius

    Monday, March 20, 2017

    Christ in the Desert


Painting of Jesus in the desert, Luke 4:3-13; Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:13
    by J.D. Flynn

    On Saturday, I watched good friends carry a miniature white casket up the aisle of our parish church, to be laid before the altar for a funeral Mass. Their son was stillborn last week. Our parish had come to the church to pray for them as they laid their son’s body to rest.

    My friends have entered the season of Lent in a profound way.

    During Lent, we remember Jesus, fasting and praying in the Judean desert. We remember that Jesus was weak, and tired, and alone, and that, relying on the word of God, he overcame the empty promises of Satan.

    Like Christ, my friends will likely feel weak, tired, and alone this Lent. C. S. Lewis said that grief feels much like fear, and I suspect they’ll sometimes feel afraid. He also said that grief is an amputation, and I suspect they’ll sometimes feel crippled.

    And like Christ, my friends will face temptations. They may be tempted to turn on each other. They may be tempted to turn from God. They may be tempted to pretend they don’t need help—human or divine—when, in fact, they surely do. I suspect my friends will overcome those temptations, by grace. But if they don’t, I know they’ll seek God’s mercy, and I know he’ll give it freely.

    During Lent, most of us offer up small sacrifices—pittances, really—to spend more time in prayer. We limit our comforts, just a little. We give alms, usually from our excess, and rarely from our need. And somehow God, in his mercy on us—his pity for our pitiful sacrifices—gives these tiny sacrifices meaning, and uses them to draw us closer to him... image

    The rest at First Things

    Friday, March 3, 2017

    Shine On Us

    Philips, Craig and Dean

    Wednesday, March 1, 2017

    Thou Lamb of Calvary...

    My faith looks up to Thee,
    Thou Lamb of Calvary, Savior divine!
    Now hear me while I pray, take all my guilt away,
    O let me from this day be wholly Thine!
    May Thy rich grace impart
    Strength to my fainting heart, my zeal inspire!
    As Thou hast died for me, O may my love to Thee,
    Pure warm, and changeless be, a living fire!
    While life’s dark maze I tread,
    And griefs around me spread, be Thou my Guide;
    Bid darkness turn to day, wipe sorrow’s tears away,
    Nor let me ever stray from Thee aside.

    When ends life’s transient dream,
    When death’s cold sullen stream over me roll;
    Blest Savior, then in love, fear and distrust remove;
    O bear me safe above, a ransomed soul!
    -Ray Palmer image

    Saturday, February 4, 2017

    Stand still, and see!

    adventure, brak, mountains
    In every life
    There's a pause that is better than onward rush,
    Better than hewing or mightiest doing;
    'Tis the standing still at Sovereign will.
    There's a hush that is better than ardent speech,
    Better than sighing or wilderness crying;
    'Tis the being still at Sovereign will.
    The pause and the hush sing a double song
    In unison low and for all time long.
    O human soul, God's working plan
    Goes on, nor needs the aid of man!
    Stand still, and see!
    Be still, and know!
    -V. Raymond Edman

    Tuesday, January 10, 2017

    10 Things You Should Know about Revival

    Fiery sunset
    January 9, 2017
    by Sam Storms

    (1) Revival cannot be scheduled. Revival cannot be predicted, but neither can it be precluded. There simply are no natural laws that guarantee revival. True revival is a sovereign work of God (Zech. 4:6). In other words, revival is always a miracle. Revival is not "in our pocket." Once we fall into the trap of thinking that revival is at our beck-and-call, we will begin to develop earthly strategies that we are convinced will produce the desired end. We will become sinfully pragmatic in the business of religion, as we justify virtually any tactic or method just so long as it gets "results". But this is precisely what we must avoid at all costs.

    (2) Someone has defined revival as "a copious effusion of the influence of divine grace," i.e., a bountiful outpouring of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. J. I. Packer defines revival as "a work of God by his Spirit through his word bringing the spiritually dead to living faith in Christ and renewing the inner life of Christians who have grown slack and sleepy" (Revival, 36). Or again, "Revival is God stirring the hearts of his people, visiting them . . . coming to dwell with them . . . returning to them . . . pouring out his Spirit on them . . . to quicken their consciences, show them their sins, and exalt his mercy . . . before their eyes" (Keep in Step with the Spirit, 256).

    (3) True revival is a surprising work of God. This is because revival is a gracious work of God. No one deserves revival. One may never expect what one does not deserve. If God were not to send revival, no one could protest that an injustice had been done. That is why we must never demand revival, as if God were in our debt. God is not obligated to visit us with the refreshing waters of his presence. That he occasionally does is an expression of mercy. It is the compassion and loving kindness of God that accounts for revival. image

    Full article here

    More Observations on the Nature of True Revival

    Added 1/12/17: A Dozen Additional Thoughts on the Nature of Revival and How People Respond to It