Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pray what you mean

This was my Minister's Prayer of Confession in our last worship service.

Minister Prayer of Confession- Our Father, we praise You for sending Jesus to us. Forgive us Lord if we express any disappointment in Him and His gifts to us through a lack of gratitude. Teach us to plan and anticipate the future but to learn to rest in whatsoever comes to pass. We rejoice in Your goodness to us and pray that You will enable us to see it at every twist and turn of the events in our lives.

I am challenged to see God's goodness to us and to me, in every twist and turn of the events of our lives.

Since I prayed that prayer, I crashed my car and my ribs. It was two separate incidents. All good things come in threes. What is next? Neither the car nor the ribs are too painfully damaged but painfully enough to have to respond to God's Providence. Oh, perhaps my ego and pride are damaged but that always does them good. Is God's Providence good? Is it full of joy, somehow, through the wreckage of unforeseen events? Or, more accurately, through the shadowed veil of unfortunate events? Unfortunate? Maybe God's good fortune is precisely through such events?

But God is good and He would have us see His goodness, even through expensive wrecks and stupid falls on the sledding hill. He is overseeing our lives and the seemingly unimportant and unlucky events are all part of His plan to lead us in and onto glory. We do grow from glory to glory, from day to day, from crash to crash.

Many of you have had events this last year that caused you stop and wonder if God is planning anything at all. How come you can so easily seem to interrupt and alter his plans? I'll bet He didn't see this coming? No? And if not, is that not unsettling? It unsettles me. Then I have to deal with the fact that God does know what is happening, what is necessary for me and how to turn it all to my good and to His glory. And so we honor Him and rest in His goodness and His Providence, the bitter as well as the sweet, for our good God is a consuming fire. He is our Father and is lovingly producing in us a vessel of honor, tried and purified. To God be the glory.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Original Intent- David Barton

Original Intent by David Barton is a must read for every Christian. Barton recounts numerous founding documents and cases that establish the blatantly Christian heritage of our nation. Only in recent times, mainly the last 50 or 60 years, have Americans been willing to jettison our heritage and acquiesce to the whims of liberal historical revisionists and cow tow to the activist judicial system.

This book will give renewed courage and an unapologetic apologetic for our Christian roots, the place of Christian religion in the public sphere both in the courts and in our education system, and hope that the liberal interpretation of America's past is patently refutable.

This book ought to be required reading in every law school. That is unlikely, but our Christian law schools must insist that their students know this history and are able to articulate it in the face of a culture seeking to cut the past off from the present and the future. Such a tactic is sure to bring God's ire and it appears that this has already begun.

One of the great national sins in the Scriptures is forgetting; forgetting God's blessings, forgetting to honor His name, forgetting to count on Him for the future. In recent years, our national leaders, especially in the executive and judicial branches, have self-consciously cut God off from the public sphere. Christians must once again stand for the truth that Jesus Christ is the rightful ruler of these united States of America. We must remember and repent and then take action, standing confidently on God's Word and in the public square. Perhaps God will see fit to rain down His blessings upon us anew.

Dismissed with Prejudice- Christopher Meyerhoeffer

Just finished a novel by an old acquaintance of mine from Twin Falls, Idaho. The book is Dismissed with Prejudice and the author is Christopher Meyerhoeffer.

It was Christopher's first novel and he does a good job. The book is in the John Grisham genre, a legal and criminal thriller. One of the intriguing aspects of the book for me is that it was set in Southern Idaho, where both Christopher (he was a few years older than me) and I grew up. The places and scenes are familiar.

The novel is about a long history of manipulation of the court system by two ambitious lawyers and a couple of cops willing to be bought for a price.

The main character is a civil lawyer, Nick Jelaco, with a Delta Force military background. He is capable of handling himself with his hands and his gun. His wife is murdered and his three year old daughter is abducted. The story is about his desperate attempts to find his daughter and the sordid story that unravels as he does so. The chase involves an interesting character, an enormous Sioux Indian, that Meyerhoeffer paints as a somewhat sympathetic character, even though his actions are despicable. It works. You want to hate the man but find yourself sympathetic due to the pathetic history that created such a beast.

Although I have not read many books in this genre (a few Grisham books and a few others), I appreciated Meyerhoeffer's comparative tastefulness in the book. He could have filled the pages with gory descriptions that would have made entertaining reading for many in our voyeuristic culture. He refrained and did the reader a kind service.

I got the book for Christmas (given by my brother-in-law, longtime close friend of the author's brother) and finished it today. Obviously, the story held my attention. The writing was good for a first published novel. I'd say Christopher acquitted himself quite well. There were lucid chapters and I kept turning pages. I am sure his subsequent forays will be even better.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Contest books are gone

Hey Folks,

The Slave books by MacArthur are all claimed. Thanks for participating!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Free Books Still Available

See the post below.

Books are still available!

Communion Meditation-His name is Jesus

Jospeh called His name Jesus because He was to be the Savior of His people. At Christmas, the baby Jesus, wise men worshiping, shepherds watching and angels singing are all a part of the glory and beauty of Christmas.

But innkeepers turning out pregnant women and Herod killing the babies is part of the Christmas story, too. How could God’s good world become so wretched? Because the people worshiped and served that which is not God. They exchanged the truth for a lie and that resulted in envy and murder and every other conceivable sin.

God had the answer, though. He would come as Emmanuel and dwell with His people. He would teach them of His ways. He would die to pay for their sins. He would send the Holy Spirit to keep them from lurching back into idolatrous rebellion. God would be their champion and save His people from their sins and the death that their sins bring.

Jesus is indeed the Savior. He saves us from our sins. His perfect life and death are the means by which we gain this great salvation. Glory be to God in the highest.

Exhortation-Christmas is Coming!

Christmas is coming! It will be here on Saturday. The presents are under the tree, or will be, and the children are having a hard time restraining themselves. Anticipation is growing and everyone wonders what the morning will bring.

And then it finally happens, Christmas Eve arrives, we finally get to bed, try to sleep or try to stay awake, and then the morning finally comes. It’s Christmas, Christmas presents, Christmas breakfast and Christmas feast.

This is all wondrous and glorious and we are reluctant to even interrupt the moment with the remembrance of sin. But the glory of it all is that Jesus came to Earth to save us from our sins.

Israel had waited for the Savior for many ages past. He finally arrived and He was just the baby boy of a carpenter, so it seemed, and of a young woman with a recent questionable past. They may have been disappointed with such a Savior, not understanding how He could save them from their sins. But God revealed it all in due time.

God gives us Jesus and we must not be disappointed with Him. He is all that we need and we are to be completely satisfied with this Savior. Our hearts must be filled with gratitude for Him and we must learn to extend such gratitude into all the corners of our lives.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Slave-Free Books!

Thomas Nelson has graciously provided some free books to help promote MacArthur's new title, Slave, The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ.

I highly recommend this book.

To receive your book, answer the following question in an email to

I only have five books to give away so the first five responders, (all five of you who read this blog!) will receive a book!

How many times does the Greek word 'doulos' appear in the New Testament?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Slave by John MacArthur

MacArthur's newest title, Slave-The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ, is a must read.

The main thesis of the book is that we ought to identify with Christ primarily as His slaves. This identification has profound implications in our relationship to the Lord as well as to sin.

The opening pages of Slave put forth a strong argument that the Greek 'doulos' should always and only be rendered as the English 'slave.' The Geneva Bible and the KJV generally render 'doulos' as 'servant'. There were perhaps compelling reasons for doing so in the 16th and 17th centuries. It was thought that 'slave' would not adequately represent ancient Roman slavery. In the late medieval world, servants, were not much better than slaves. However, in our modern vernacular, 'servant' does not carry the weight of slavery, at all. Servants are voluntary, come for their hire, are independent and so forth.

So, while our conceptions of slavery may not perfectly fit the Roman idea of slavery, it is much more akin to that idea than to the modern idea of servant.

We are, in fact, bought by Christ. We are His slaves. We have no personal rights of our own. We are not free men. Furthermore, our ownership has been transferred. We used to be slaves of sin. We had to serve that master. But now, we are slaves of Christ, having to serve Him. In this paradoxical way of thinking, the slave of sin is not free. But the slave of Christ, the slave of righteousness is the only one who is free.

This changes the meaning of many passages in the New Testament that are rendered servant. Of the 124 appearances of 'doulos' in the New Testament, the KJV translates it 'slave' only one time. The rest are servant. We must dramatically rethink our connection to Christ.

Having set this stage, MacArthur moves on to examine a great deal of Scripture in light of this change of meaning. He does this while walking through the doctrines of grace. In fact, this process creates an entirely new and refreshing way of thinking about how we relate to God as totally depraved, unconditionally chosen by Him, related to Christ by His atonement, called to Him by His powerful grace, and kept by Him until the day of redemption of our bodies.

MacArthur does not forget that the New Testament also describes us as the children of God, adopted into His family and kingdom. He does this, while also pointing out that the writers of the Epistles still regularly use the slave language, long after Jesus has raised us up from slaves to children and joint heirs. Furthermore, he gives a wide testimony of the early Church that also prolifically used slave language to describe our standing in Christ.

Many early Christians held the statement, "I am a Christian" to be nearly synonymous with the idea that "I am Christ's slave." When we think of Christ as Lord, Kyrios, we should think of Him as Master, a slave owner. So, in addition to the manifold number of times we see 'doulos', slave, in the New Testament, we also see Jesus as Lord, Kyrios, the Master. The New Testament is full of this language of Master and Slave.

If we understand ourselves as the adopted children of God, we do so, understanding also that we have been raised to that position, from the position of being abject slaves. This ought to produce in us a far greater level of gratitude to the One that is both our Savior and our Lord and Master. It is a privilege to be His slave.

This book would be an exceptional group study for discussion. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Communion Meditation- And the Government is upon His Shoulders

And the government shall be upon His shoulders. We embrace the crucified Jesus. But that is not the same thing as embracing the dead Jesus. We are not loyal to Jesus that way some people are still loyal to Elvis.

One of the glories of communion is the testimony that we give each Lord’s day. We show the Lord’s death, till He come. For the early disciples, there may have been a temptation to cover up the death of Jesus.

You serve Jesus? We saw Him crucified on Calvary.

But the correct Christian response is, “I am not ashamed of the cross of Christ.” It was necessary that He die but He is not dead.

That second part is what is hard to believe. He is not dead. But dead is dead. So, the cross becomes, to Greeks, foolishness, to Jews, a stumbling block, but to those who believe, the power of a changed life.

We are not ashamed of the death of Christ. In that death, He defeated sin and death. He conquered principalities and powers. He bought the salvation of His people. We are not holding on to some nostalgic era, dead and gone. We embrace the cross because He lives and has ascended to His throne until all dominions also recognize and believe.

And the government is upon His shoulders.

Communion Meditation- Witness

Once the Holy Spirit came in power at Pentecost, the disciples were emboldened to declare the gospel message to the world. They went out proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus Christ. And everywhere they went, their message was attested to with accompanying signs. The gospel is not just a message, words on paper, but it is a message with power. In the early days of the Church, that power was miraculous, in healings, casting out demons, power over vipers. And now that the attesting miracles have ceased, the power is the power of changed lives; men and women turned from darkness to light. power to resist sin and temptation, power to stand against the world’s schemes for education, child-rearing, marriage, and power to stand in holiness in a life transformed by Jesus Christ.

We are called to be witnesses. And what we do here in this meal, testifies to the world that we are Christians and that we believe, not only in a risen Savior, who gives us victory over death, but also in a crucified savior, who died on our behalf. We do not shrink from the foolishness of the cross but embrace it because it means that we have been set free from our sins to live new lives in the risen Savior. To God be the glory forever. Amen.

Exhortation-Third Sunday of Advent

On this Third Sunday of Advent, we are still waiting. We have begun our celebrations and look forward to the festivity and the fellowship. We are thinking of presents, both giving and receiving and we are hoping to please those we give to and are reminding ourselves to be pleased with the gifts that we are given.

As we prepare for Christmas, we should be doing some soul searching of our own. What has God given us? And what have you given Him?

We all know that God has given His own dear Son. He gave Him to us as the greatest gift the world has ever known. It was a gift, the gift that saved the world, darkened in sin. For only God could take away the sins of the world. And He has done so. Amen!

But what have you given Him? Have you given Him your time? Your money? Your actions? Your words? Your hopes? Your good deeds? Your hidden sins? Your spouse? Your children? Your troubles? Your solutions?

The fact of the matter is that the Lord owns you. You are bought with a price and have become His slave. All rights are relinquished to the King of Heaven who has come to Earth to establish His kingdom here and rule His subjects.

Have you given Him the only thing that your really have to offer? Have you completely given Him yourself?

Exhortation- Second Sunday of Advent

On this Second Sunday of Advent, we have become more aware of waiting for Christmas. Waiting is something that many of us don’t do well. One way we fail is to be impatient. Our time clock is ticking at a different pace than everyone else’s. Time bothers us so people who mess with time bother us, too. We call that impatience and impatience is NOT a virtue.

But another response about time is simply not to care. You are only concerned about yourself and are oblivious to everything that is going on around you. Frankly, it doesn’t even matter to you as long as you are doing exactly what you want to be doing, right now.

Both responses are unacceptable. Impatience won’t do, nor will a selfish complacence. So, what are we to do?

We are called to wait upon the Lord. We do this with our eyes wide open, hastening for the day of good things. We prepare ourselves for His advent, ready to embrace Him and whatever He brings to us. But part of that preparation is learning to operate on the Lord’s time and not on our own time frame. We have to learn to wait, eagerly, yes, but patiently, trusting that the Lord does all things well and at just the right time.

We learn much about waiting in our own personal lives and we can apply this to waiting on the Lord. We should learn the lessons and repent and change when we fail. But God is at work in us in this as well.

Exhortation-First Sunday of Advent

Today is the first day of Advent. This time marks a period of waiting for God’s promises to come. This is a good practice. I am thankful that we all look forward to Christmas with eager anticipation. God’s people have always done so and God has always fulfilled His promises.

He promised children to Adam and Eve and a son to replace Abel after the murder by wicked Cain. He promised children to Noah’s sons. Isaac was a child of promise to an old and empty womb. Hannah believed God and He gave the barren woman a son. But Israel grew old again, not believing the promises, unable to bear true sons, a barren womb in a dwindling kingdom.

But yet some waited for the consolation of Israel and God was faithful to His promise. Elizabeth believed God and He gave her a son, the forerunner of the Lord. Mary believed and the virgin bore a Son, One who would take away the sins of God’s people.

Always, God’s people wait upon Him to fulfill His promises and He always does. The Savior has come but comes again to us every time we call upon Him to save us from our sins. He is ever faithful. Only believe.