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Archive for August, 2008

Bad Jokes

 

OK, I admit it, I like bad jokes – “groaners” if you will. Here’s one:

Herb: Doctor, my hair is falling out! Can you give me something for it?

Doctor: Here, take this box.

Or how about this one?

A crab walks into a restaurant. Upon seeing him, the chef tells him he’ll have to leave, because “We don’t serve seafood here.”

Here’s another one:

Two fonts walk into a bar.

The bartender says, “You two will have to leave. We don’t serve your type here.”

Finally, without further ado:

Why did the atoms cross the road?

It was time to split.

That’s about enough for now. I’m sure you’ll agree!

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One of my favorite songs is “Thankful” by Derek Webb and performed by Caedmon’s Call. It beautifully portrays the biblical doctrines of man’s sin and God’s grace. Here are the lyrics:

You know I ran across an old box of letters while I was baggin up some clothes for Goodwill. But you know I had to laugh at the same old struggles that plagued me then are plaguing me still. I know the road is long from the ground to glory, but a boy can hope he’s getting someplace. But you see, I’m running from the very clothes I’m wearing and dressed like this I’m fir for the chase.

‘Cause no, there is none righteous, not one who understands. There is none who seeks God. No not one, I said no not one.

(Chorus) So I am thankful that I’m incapable of doing any good on my own.

‘Cause we’re all stillborn and dead in our transgressions. We’re shackled up to the sin we hold so dear. So what part can I play in the work of redemption? I can’t refuse, I cannot add a thing.

‘Cause I’m just like Lazarus and I can hear your voice. I stand and rub my eyes and walk to You because I have no choice.

(Chorus)

‘Cause by grace I have been saved, through faith that’s not my own. It is a gift of God and not by works lest anyone should boast.

(Chorus)

Derek, I’m thankful, too!

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Palin family values

 

In a somewhat surprising move, John McCain announced this morning that Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, will be his Vice-Presidential running mate. Andy Naselli, at Between Two Worlds, posted an interesting article on the Palin family, centering on their recently-born son, Trig (the content comes from Al Mohler). It’s worth a look.

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Cows face north when they’re in the field. Here’s the article that explains why. I don’t know what this piece of information means in the grand sweep of things – that’s why it’s in the “random thoughts” category.

I do use satellite dishes to navigate when I’m driving, though, because they always face south. Maybe I should pay more attention to the cows. The only problem is that they’re not as plentiful as satellite dishes where we live.

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Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.”

In Ephesians 4:15, the apostle Paul tells us to “speak the truth in love.”  What does that mean? Three things, in my opinion.

First, using the inspired wisdom of Ecclesiastes as a guide, there is a time to speak and a time to refrain from speaking. the Holy Spirit will give us guidance as to which time it is. Sometimes, we have to say something – we simply cannot remain silent.

Second, when we speak, we must speak the truth. Rather than saying anything we want (no matter who it hurts), we’re bound to speak what is true.

Third, when we speak the truth, it must be done in love. Truth without love crushes. Love without truth enables and ultimately destroys.

Ephesians 4:15 is an excellent model for good communication. We need to speak and not remain silent. When we speak, we should speak the truth. When we speak the truth, it must be in love.

(This verse – and concept – was in the passage I preached on Sunday, but I didn’t have the time to do much with it.)

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Today was my first official Sunday as pastor of Immanuel! To say I was excited and nervous would be an understatement. Everything went well and praise God for His tremendous provision!

I can’t explain how good it feels to be “back in the saddle” so to speak. The congregation was warm, inviting, and gave us a great welcome. We couldn’t have asked for more.

“Out of the Gate” (suggested by my wife) is the title of my first sermon-series. We want to have a good start out of the gate for both pastor and church. Most likely, I’ll spend three or four sermons covering things I think are vital to the health and well-being of the church. Today’s sermon was taken from Ephesians 4:1-16. I used Paul’s admonitions to the Ephesian church as mine:

  1. Maintain your unity (vv. 1-6)
  2. Use your gifts (vv. 7-12, 16)
  3. Grow to maturity (vv. 13-16)

All of these things need to happen if the church (any church, for that matter) is to glorify God and be faithful to Him.

Tomorrow starts another school year, too – I can’t wait to get back! We have a teacher work day tomorrow and an open house on Tuesday.

Let’s get started for the glory of God!

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Real-Life Responsibility

 

Charles Colson has a poignant commentary on today’s Breakpoint called “Real-Life Responsibility.” It’s worth a listen or read, whichever you prefer. You can do either here.

A member of Joe Gibbs Racing (part of the NASCAR circuit) was caught cheating. There are all kinds of ways you can cheat in NASCAR, of which I know virtually nothing, but the point is that they did it and got caught. What makes it more of a story is the strong Christian commitment of Joe Gibbs himself.

But in his commentary, Colson points out that Joe Gibbs Racing has stepped up and accepted responsibility. No spin and no “not-quite-apology” apologies. Well done, Joe Gibbs Racing!

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If the young people in today’s churches no longer believe in authentic Christianity, what will it take to keep ours from becoming the last Christian generation?

That’s the question asked on the flyleaf of The Last Christian Generation by Josh McDowell. It forms an outline of sorts for the entire book.

McDowell first presents a number of statistics dealing with the actual beliefs of Christian youths (which if  correct, are very troubling). The beliefs held are very similar to non-Christian youths, as are their views of morality and ethics. One of the biggest problems, according to McDowell, is that a large percentage of Christians (who youth look to for guidance and an example to follow) profess faith in Jesus Christ but whose lives don’t reflect Christ-likeness.

The rest of the book deals with McDowell’s proposed solution to the problem. It’s a process of spiritual formation that involves three areas of emphasis which will “reintroduce God to this generation for who He really is.”

First, the focus is on the “God of redemption, who gave His life to redeem us.” The response is to live a life of faith, worship, and prayer.

The second focus is the “God of relationships, who gave His Spirit and Word to become intimate with us.” The proper response is to love others and make godly choices.

Third, the “God of restoration, who conquered death and gave His church to reclaim His kingdom,” is focused upon. Spiritual warfare and spiritual reproduction are the proper responses.

In general, The Last Christian Generation is a good book, but it has some areas I have a few quibbles with. McDowell says that “God is on a mission to restore all things to their original design and establish the kingdom of God to a newly created earth.” This seems to be a popular way of explaining God’s purpose for us after we’re saved, especially among post-moderns and Emergent-types. Our purpose, and the purpose of the church, is to glorify God (which includes building and advancing His kingdom). Some of McDowell’s claims seem a bit overstated, although I admit I could be wrong on that point. McDowell also uses a number of different Bible translations when he quotes Scripture (there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but I think it’s best to pick a primary translation and stick to it). It makes it look like he’s searching for a verse to suuport his idea. I honestly don’t think he’s doing that, but it can appear so.

The Last Christian Generation gives us plenty to think about. What are we doing to teach and train our young people? Will we pass the baton of authentic Christianity to them or drop it? That’s up to us.

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“Somebody, somewhere, love me.”

Those were the words of Madalyn Murray O’Hair – the most well-known atheist in the United States a generation ago. They were written at least six times in her two-thousand page diary.

Obviously, her commitment to atheism didn’t provide her with the love she needed. Neither did money, success, fame, or being a household name all over the nation, and indeed, the world.

Every one of us, in one way or another, are looking for that same kind of love. We all ask if there is somebody, somewhere, who will love us.

Here’s the good news: there is someone, somewhere, who loves you – God!

God took the initiave to love us. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.”

The Lord loves us in spite of our sin – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Each and every one of us are sinful and sinners by nature, by choice, and by habit. We’re hostile, disobedient, and rebellious to God. Therefore, we’re under His wrath, judgment, and condemnation.

That, however, is not the end of the story.

God loves us enough to send the very best – His own Son. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” Jesus Christ – God in human flesh – lived a life of perfect obedience to His Father in our place (a life which we could never live); He died a sacrificial death for our sins as our Substitute (a death we should have died); and He victoriously rose again from the dead in our place.

Our response to God’s incredible love is to repent of our sin and believe in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation. When that happens, we’ll experience the love of the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, which is something no one else and nothing else can give.

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God displayed His awesome power during Family Camp this last weekend with our (now) former church. It was amazing!

He did it through unusual thunder and lightning storms on both Saturday and Sunday nights – unusual for this time of year. He also did it through His Word, times of worship, two baptisms, and all of the time spent with brothers and sisters in Christ in a great setting.

Looking back, we had a tremendous time. Looking forward, we begin a new chapter with new challenges and blessings (pastoring a church once again!).

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