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Archive for January, 2014

Super Bowl Myths

Thank you, Joe Carter!

He’s written an excellent piece debunking four very common myths surrounding Super Bowl Sunday. Maybe you’ve heard them and maybe you’ve passed them along to others. We need to put them to rest once and for all. You can read his piece here.

Enjoy the game!

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Why does spiritual growth require so much struggle? Why isn’t it easy?

In his book Disappointment With God, Philip Yancey writes,

Human beings grow by striving, working, stretching; and in a sense, human nature needs problems more than solutions. Why are not all prayers answered magically and instantly? Why must every convert travel the same tedious path of spiritual discipline? Because persistent prayer, and fasting, and study, and meditation are designed primarily for our sakes, not for God’s. Kierkegaard said that Christians reminded him of schoolboys who want to look up the answers in the back of the book rather than work them through…We yearn for shortcuts. But shortcuts usually lead away from growth, not toward it. Apply the principle directly to Job: what was the final result of the testing he went through? As Rabbi Abraham Herschel observed, “Faith like Job’s cannot be shaken because it is the result of having been shaken.” (pp. 207-8)

James, the half-brother of Jesus, writes this in his book, which sounds very similar:

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

Spiritual growth requires struggle because, to put it frankly, it’s the only way it can happen. God knows that, but we either don’t or don’t like it. If we would grow spiritually, it must include striving, working, stretching. No shortcuts are available or possible. May we know and accept that as we live Coram Deo — before the face of God.

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Sermon in a Sentence

This morning, I had the privilege of preaching on 1 Peter 2:4-5. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Jesus, as the living stone, has made us living stones in the magnificent temple He’s building.

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When people hear the word “church,” what do they think?

Owen Strachan, Assistant Professor of Christian Theology and Church History at Boyce College, in his book Risky Gospel: Abandon Fear and Build Something Awesome, gives an answer which is in contrast to the various wrong answers. He says:

But what is the local church, then? Well, first and foremost, it’s a group devoted to worshiping the living God according to his inerrant Word, the Bible. It’s an outpost for weary people burdened by sin to meet God and be transformed by him. The church building may not look exciting from the outside, or it may be an aesthetic masterpiece. Whatever the building looks like, though, I can assure you that the local church truly is exciting, because when it’s devoted to God’s Word, it is the body of Christ. It’s a tangible, visible sign that God is real and working and moving in our world.

Strachan gives more of an answer in this excerpt of his book. It’s worth reading and thinking about.

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There is one God who is eternally existent in three distinct persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

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I had the privilege this morning of preaching on 1 Peter 2:1-3. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: We are to crave the Word of God the same way a newborn baby craves milk.

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carmichael1

Insightful words from Amy Carmichael:

Sorrow is one of the things that are lent, not given. A thing that is lent may be taken away; a thing that is given is not taken away. Joy is given; sorrow is lent. We are not our own. We are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), “and our sorrow is not our own” (Samuel Rutherford said this a long time ago). It is lent to us for just a little while that we may use it for eternal purposes. then it will be taken away and everlasting joy will be our Father’s gift to us, and the Lord God will wipe away all tears from off all faces (Isaiah 25:8).

So let us use this “lent” thing to draw us nearer to the heart of Him who was once a Man of Sorrows (He is not that now, but He does not forget the feeling of sorrow). Let us use it to make us more tender with others, as He was when on earth and is still, for He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15).

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This morning, I had the privilege of preaching on 1 Peter 1:23-25. Here is a summary of my sermon in the space of one sentence: God uses His living and enduring Word to give new spiritual life to His people.

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Being Alone with God

Be much alone with God. Do not put Him off with a quarter of an hour morning and evening. Take time to get thoroughly acquainted. Converse over everything with Him…every thought, felling, wish, plan, and doubt to Him. He wants to converse with His creatures; shall His creatures not want to converse with Him? He wants, not merely to be on “good terms” with you, if one may use man’s phrase, but to be intimate. Shall you decline the intimacy and be satisfied with mere acquaintance? What! Intimate with the world, with friends, with neighbors, with politicians, with naturalists, or with poets; but not with God? That would look ill indeed. Folly, to prefer the clay to the potter, the marble to the sculptor, this little earth and its lesser creatures to the mighty Maker of the universe, the great “All in all!”

Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)

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I had the privilege of preaching on 1 Peter 1:22 this morning, specifically the phrase “fervently love one another from the heart.” Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Our love for each other, even though it’s good now, can be bigger, bolder, and better than it’s ever been.

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