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Archive for the ‘my life’ Category

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Two weddings down, two to go. We have an unusually busy two month period – we’ve been invited to three weddings and I have the honor of officiating at another.

Being present and celebrating the union of a man and a woman is a beautiful thing. But for those who are married, weddings are an opportunity, in a sense, to renew our own vows. You’ll hear the vows you made to each other (or, hopefully, something close to them) and be reminded of the obligation you have to keep them. It’s aways good to be reminded what and who you said “I do” to.

Weddings, however, aren’t the only place vows are renewed. As Christians, we renew vows at various times. If you made vows at your baptism, you can renew them whenever someone else is baptized. If you made vows when you joined your church, you’re reminded of them every time you accept new members. If you make vows when you celebrate the Lord’s Supper, even if silently, you renew them every time you partake.

Making vows and renewing them is a beautiful thing – for our good and God’s glory!

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Merry Christmas!

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:8-15)

Christmas wouldn’t be complete without this:

May you truly understand the significance of what took place a little over two thousand years ago – the incarnation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas from Karen and me!

 

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Over the last several years, I developed a bad habit. As soon as I wake up, I pick up my phone and check email, Twitter, Facebook, and a couple of news sites. With rare exceptions, that has been the way I begin my day.

Recently, I heard something that made me think about what I was doing. The obvious point was made that beginning one’s day looking at the screen of a smartphone may not be the best use of time. I already knew that, but it was good to hear the reminder. Then, thankfully, there was a suggestion offered: Begin your day with the Bible, not the phone. Or, to put it more simply, remember this acronym – B.B.P. (Bible Before Phone).

About a week ago, I decided to try it. Every morning, immediately after I wake up, I pick up a paper-and-ink study Bible (not a phone app) and read it. Based on a challenge given at church, I started reading in Psalm 119. Here’s what I do: I read the passage once. In the case of Psalm 119, it’s divided into 22 sections of eight verses each, which correspond to the Hebrew alphabet, so I’m reading eight verses each day. Next, I read the explanatory study notes for that section. Finally, I read the passage again. There may be a time of prayer and meditation, but not always.

This is a simple method anyone can use. It can be added to your regular reading, study, and meditation upon God’s Word. It doesn’t take long and is a great way to start the day – Coram Deo (before the face of God)!

I urge you to try it!

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recycle

Here in the Pacific Northwest, recycling is a big deal. A really big deal. Sometimes, I’ll tell people from outside the region that we take recycling so seriously that we’ll be arrested if we don’t do it properly (that may happen someday, I know).

In our neighborhood, the garbage is picked up every Monday morning, while the recycling and yard waste alternate weeks. Last night – Sunday – I went through the weekly ritual of rolling the bins out to the street. I was at the curb when I noticed something unusual: there weren’t any garbage or recycling bins at the curb in our cul-de-sac. Not one.

So, rather than just leaving them and going back into the house, I began to have some doubts. “It is Sunday, right?” Yes, I know it was Sunday. We began our day at church and spent most of the rest of the day with a group of friends from church. “Is tomorrow a holiday?” No, it wasn’t. If it would have been, nothing would have been picked up. “Do we still have garbage and recycling pickup?” Yes, we do. I knew the answers to all of those questions, but because I didn’t see the other bins, I began to wonder.

This relatively small and ordinary experience illustrates something true for all of us. If we believe something, such as the fact that Jesus is the only way to heaven, but nobody in our office or our school or our family believes it, we begin to wonder if maybe they’re right and we’re wrong. (Let me say, it’s entirely possible that someone could be wrong if no one else holds their view, but it’s also possible that everyone else could be wrong.)

There are things of which we can be absolutely certain because God has revealed them to us. These things are true whether or not anyone believes them, or whether or not we believe them for that matter. In Romans 3:1-4a, Paul writes, “Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar.” We should not doubt, disbelieve, or question what God has revealed to us, even if no one, or very few, believe it.

Postscript: About an hour after I rolled out the bins, I heard the familiar sound of other bins being rolled to their respective curbs. Sure enough, both the garbage and recycling bin were empty this morning.

 

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Opening the refrigerator accomplishes several things: you find out what’s in it; you get something you need (or more likely, not something you actually need but simply something you want at that moment); and you can be reminded of something because of everything you have attached to the door.

We have at least four postcards from various missionaries attached to the door of our refrigerator. We put them there, instead of stacked on a shelf somewhere, to serve as a reminder to pray for them. We don’t always follow through on that, but that’s the idea.

Pray for missionaries you know and support (whether that support comes in the form of prayer, finances, both, or more) – they need it! In most cases, they’ve sacrificed much to serve the Lord, the work isn’t easy, and the results are often difficult to discern.

So then, how can you pray for your missionaries? Here are a few suggestions. Pray that they would:

  • Love God and others with everything they have and are.
  • Glorify God in every area of their lives.
  • Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
  • Remain faithful to God and His Word.
  • Grow in their trust of God.
  • Be devoted to prayer.
  • Have a strong marriage and family life.
  • Avoid extremes in life and doctrine.
  • Pray for other missionaries and agencies.
  • Not be jealous or envious of other ministries or missionaries.
  • Not be proud.
  • Grow in humility.
  • Work hard and leave the results to God.

There are dozens of other things we could pray, but these are a good start.

One final thing: Make sure to let your missionaries know you’re praying for them and ask them how you can pray more specifically. They’ll appreciate it!

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Some things I’ve been thinking about lately. (The notes above are not mine, but the person who wrote them did a good job!)

“Privilege”

There’s been a lot written and said about the subject of “privilege” lately. We’ve heard about white privilege and even Christian privilege, and the need to recognize it and renounce it. This comes almost entirely from the political and religious Left with a handful of conservatives foolishly joining the chorus.

Here are Doug Wilson’s thoughts about privilege (from his podcast called “The Plodcast”).  Privilege, or the emphasis on it, comes from egalitarianism – the belief that everything and everyone should be equal. Egalitarianism is based on envy – if someone has more than me, there’s something wrong with the universe). Therefore if someone, or a group of people, has more money, intelligence, beauty, or power, they should feel guilty for what they have. Biblically speaking, we should be grateful for what God has given us, which includes money, possessions, a good family, health, or beauty (to name only a few), and not feel guilty. We shouldn’t be jealous or envious of what God has given to others (remember the tenth commandment: “You shall not covet”) because He doesn’t give His gifts equally. Our gratitude for God’s gifts will motivate us to be like Him and give generously to others. Guilt motivates us to give small amounts to assuage our guilt.

Wilson has hit the nail squarely on the head.

Complementarianism

David Prince tweets, “Biblical complementariansm is no more to be blamed for the scandal surrounding Paige Patterson than egalitarianism is to be blamed for the scandal surrounding Bill Hybels. The cultural mood to leverage every sinful crisis to score personal argument points is repulsive.” Amen!

Patterson’s recorded comments from years past were wrong and sinful, but they don’t invalidate the truth or falsehood of complementariansm (men and women are equal in value and dignity, but have different roles in the family and the church). The same is true for Hybels and egalitarianism (men and women are equal and there should be no restrictions upon roles in the family or the church).

I’m firmly in the camp of complementarianism. I’m convinced the Bible teaches it and that we must submit to it, whether the world likes it or not, because the Word of God is our final authority. I’m concerned because I’ve heard some brothers and sisters in Christ from the egalitarian side of things claim that Patterson’s views and the actions of others are “proof” that complementarianism is a misinterpretation of Scripture. No, they aren’t. They’re a misapplication of Scripture. None of us completely live out the truths of Scripture, even though we’re absolutely committed to them.

A New/Used Book

Books are part of a good life as far as I’m concerned. Earlier this week, I picked up a used copy of Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West by Stephen E. Ambrose at the Salvation Army thrift store. Ambrose is a first-rate historian and writer. I can’t wait to dive in!

 

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A First For Me

Several days ago, I shared this article from The Federalist in my Facebook page. It explains how Snopes.com isn’t telling the truth about California Assembly Bill 2493.

Snopes used to be a go-to site for me if I needed to know the truth about “urban legends” as they’re called. It was a repository of stories, rumors, and conspiracies with specific designations for each (true, false, or maybe). Did Madalyn Murray O’Hare petition the FCC to remove all Christian programming from all American television and radio? No, she didn’t. That’s just one example.

But Snopes is no longer a site I ever visit. At some point during the Obama administration, they changed direction and became a “fact-check” organization with a strongly leftist political bent. Snipes still has credibility with many because of it’s earlier work and a lack of knowledge of its present political viewpoint.

This morning I checked Facebook and found that my post from The Federalist had been removed. Facebook explained that the post looked like “spam,” and had therefore been removed. I was given the opportunity to learn more, which I did. The explanation said the post was either spam or it “violated community standards” developed by Facebook. I was given the option of saying the post was not spam or that I didn’t post it myself. I did post it and it isn’t spam. After I made that statement, Facebook said they would investigate and decide whether or not to restore the post. Very quickly, the post was restored and can be found on my timeline.

This is the first time anything like this has happened to me with Facebook. I have some questions. Why did this post look like “spam” and thousands of my other posts didn’t or don’t? Did the post’s removal have anything to do with its viewpoint, especially since Facebook uses Snopes to fact-check news stories? What are your “community standards”  and how does The Federalist article violate them? Is this a regular practice? How often does it happen? I’ve seen at least one other person on Facebook today who had the same thing happen with the same article. That’s not a coincidence.

What can you do? Read The Federalist article and share it on Facebook (if you’re on Facebook) and other social media outlets. Let’s see what happens.

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