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Archive for December, 2015

read-the-bible-through

For the last several years, I’ve been making a simple plea: make a commitment to read through the Bible this coming year. All of it, from cover to cover, even the book of Leviticus.

Here are two links that will be helpful in reaching that goal, as well as providing reasons for doing it.

  1. Justin Taylor at The Gospel Coalition
  2. Nathan Bingham at Ligonier Ministries

I prefer the chronological plan, which orders all of the readings in the order in which they took place historically. For example, at one point during your reading of Genesis, you’ll read the book of Job (because the best evidence available points to Job existing during the time of the patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). My wife and I used this plan as we read through the Scriptures together this year. e,m

A number of Bible apps have reading plans built into them. If you have one of them, make use of it!

 

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I had the privilege of preaching on Habakkuk 2:4 and Hebrews 10:26-12:3 this morning. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: The person God declares righteous through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ will take God at His word and act on it regardless of the circumstances or consequences.

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The classic story of redemption. The miserly Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by  the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future who convince him of his  horrible attitude and despicable behavior. The Christmas spirit is not far behind.

I’ve read a number of novels by Charles Dickens, but never A Christmas Carol. I’m glad I did. It’s a good story, well told. Dickens, however, did seem to have a love affair with adverbs in his writings. Tolls lege!

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I had the privilege of preaching on John 11:28-37. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Jesus demonstrated His deep compassion in the face of the devastating consequences of sin.

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Rosaria Butterfield’s follow-up to The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert is excellent. The subtitle says it all: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ. 

She gives her thoughts on some of the hottest issues in the world and the church today – same-sex marriage, homosexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Her strong (and correct) contention is that one of the major lenses through which all of these issues should be viewed is that of identity – not the way we see ourselves, but the way God sees us. According to His Word – the Bible – we are either “in Christ” or “in Adam.” There are no other options available to us. All that we are, including, but not limited to, our sexuality is wrapped up in one of those two categories.

Butterfield calls conversion “the spark of a new identity.” A Christian’s new identity is based on our union with Christ – we being in Him and He in us. She says that sexual orientation (at least as the world understands it) is a false concept introduced by Sigmund Freud  in the Nineteenth Century. Her chapter on repentance is one of the best I’ve ever read on the subject. A chapter called “Community” presents the virtue of hospitality as representing Christ to the world by giving us a look at what she, her husband, and children do regularly.

I highly recommend this book, but with one caveat: read The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert first. When you do, you’ll understand better her conversion to Christ and her growth in Him. Tolle lege!

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I had the privilege this morning of preaching on John 11:17-27. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: In our suffering, do we believe that Jesus has power over death and the ability to give life?

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John 11 is the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Early in the chapter. we read that “the sisters (of Lazarus – Mary and Martha) sent word to Him (Jesus), saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick” (verse 4). Ryle made these comments:

These verses teach us that true Christians may be sick and ill as well as others. We read that Lazarus of Bethany was one ‘whom Jesus loved,’ and a brother to two well-known holy women. Yet Lazarus was sick, even unto death! The Lord Jesus, who had power over all diseases, could no doubt have prevented this illness, if He had thought fit. But He did not do so. He allowed Lazarus to be sick, and in pain, and weary, and to languish and suffer like any other man.

The lesson is one which ought to be deeply engraved in our memories. Living in a world full of disease and death, we are sure to need it some day. Sickness, in the very nature of things, can never be anything but trying to flesh and blood. Our bodies and souls are strangely linked together, and that which vexes and weakens the body can hardly fail to vex the mind and soul. But sickness, we must always remember, is no sign that God is displeased with us; no, more, it is generally sent for the good of our souls. It tends to draw our affections away from this world, and direct them to things above. It sends us to our Bibles, and teaches us to pray better. It helps to prove our faith and patience, and shows us the real value of our hope in Christ. It reminds us that we are not to live always, and tunes and trains our hearts for great change. Then let us be patient and cheerful when we are laid aside by illness. Let us believe that the Lord loves us when we are sick no less than when we are well.

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This morning I had the privilege of preaching on John 11:1-17. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: God’s ways are mysterious, but His delays should never be interpreted as a lack of love, but rather as a demonstration of His love.

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When news of the San Bernardino terrorist attack became public, quite a few people took to social media and asked others to pray – pray for the victims families; pray for the injured; pray for the law enforcement men and women who responded; and any number of other things. This is a normal response in a fallen and sinful world.

Just as quick was another response splashed all over social media, as well as The New York Daily News – stop praying and start doing something. The intent was clear – shame those who pray and put enough public pressure on them so they won’t do it, and if they do they won’t tell anyone about (they’ll pray and just keep it to themselves).

The deeper idea behind the “don’t pray, do something” statement is that prayer isn’t action and prayer isn’t doing anything. Wrong on both counts! For the Christian, prayer is doing something – it’s going before the Creator, Sustainer, and Sovereign Ruler of the universe (because of the finished work of Jesus Christ on our behalf) and making requests, trusting that He will do what’s good, right, and best. Prayer isn’t doing nothing, it’s firing the winning shot!

Here are a couple of pieces on the same topic, written by Joel Miller, and Denny BurkIgnore the shaming, keep on praying!

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Month in Review

November 2015 - Calendar

In November…

read The Case for Christianity by C.S. Lewis. A good, short book giving a defense of Christianity.

We celebrated Karen’s birthday at the Old Spaghetti Factory. Good time and a good meal (as usual).

We enjoyed a fund-raising banquet for PREP4Kids, a great ministry that provides release-time Bible instruction for students in the public schools of greater Portland. Dale Ebel, founding pastor of Rolling Hills Community Church was the speaker.

Along with the people of Cross Creek Bible Church, we packed 33 Operation Christmas Child boxes! May the Lord use them to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and build His kingdom.

We both substituted at Cor Deo Christian Academy. Karen in a first grade class and me in 9th grade Bible. Very enjoyable!

We enjoyed an early Thanksgiving get-together with Karen’s side of the family. I made shrimp salad, which turned out pretty good!

We continued a study of the book The Attributes of God by A.W. Pink at Cross Creek Bible Church. It’s deepening our knowledge of God in some great ways.

We enjoyed Thanksgiving with my side of the family – wonderful as always! Dad’s shrimp salad was excellent.

We, along with a number of people from Cross Creek Bible Church, decorated the church for the Christmas season. Thanks, everyone! It looks fantastic!

read Saving Leonardo by Nancy Pearcey. It took me most of the month to read, but was well worth it.

 

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