Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Christmas Song

There’s a thrill in the air,
There’s a joy in the heart;
There is generous stir
In the home and mart;
For the Yuletide is with us; make ready to greet
The Child of the Manger; lay gifts at His feet.
No time for complaining, For envy or strife;
Let the swift-flying hours
With laughter be rife;
Put by all forebodings, your murmuring cease;
All hail One the cometh, the bringer of Peace!
If, led by false glitter,
You’ve wandered afar, Come back to your loyalty,
Led by the star;
Give up your vain quest and wandering wild,
For the pearl of great price is the Wonderful Child.
Ring out the glad carols,
Old strifes put away;
Deck chapel and church
In His honor today;
Let the great organs tremble with symphonies grand,
And send the glad tidings all over the land.
O sing little children, And sing, young and old;
Though the joy of the Christmas
Can never be told –
But sing and rejoice, with your banners unfurled,
For the Christ that is come is the hope of the world.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Thanksgiving Day Quote...

“In the midst of plenty…let us not forget the struggles of the past and what we owe to the pioneers who first adventured into this wilderness and made a path for those of us who have followed them. Though they nearly perished of hunger and cold in the beginning, they failed not in faith. When they had but a few kernels of to eat, they still gave thanks, choosing like Daniel to live on pulse with a good conscience rather than to eat from a king’s table. As the Lord prospered Daniel, so hath he prospered us.
Then they all stood with folded hands and bent heads, while he gave thanks for the abundant harvest and prayed that they might be guided to us every blessing to the honor and glory of God. And the Captain said, ‘Amen.’”
~Puritan Twins, by Lucy Fitch Perkins (1921)

Amen and Amen!
May God bless you all this gorgeous Thanksgiving Day, and may He be honored through it!


P.S. Enjoy the turkey :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Are you living by the sweat of your own performance?

I have been reading Jerry Bridges’ excellent book Transforming Grace. It’s an absolute must read if you haven’t already read it. And if you have, I encourage you to re-read it. As is the case with everything Jerry writes, it is delectably deep and down to earth. I read these sentences last night once again and they really reminded me of just how easily I can drift into a performance driven relationship with God. He writes: My observation of Christendom is that most of us tend to base our relationship with God on our performance instead of on His grace. If we’ve performed well–whatever “well” is on our opinion–then we expect God to bless us. If we haven’t done so well, our expectations are reduced accordingly. In this sense, we live by works rather than by grace. We are saved by grace, but we are living by the “sweat” of our own performance. Moreover, we are always challenging ourselves and one another to “try harder.” We seem to believe success in the Christian life (however we define success) is basically up to us: our commitment, our discipline, and our zeal, with some help from God along the way. We give lip service to the attitude of the Apostle Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10), but our unspoken motto is, “God helps those who help themselves.” The realization that my daily relationship with God is based on the infinite merit of Christ instead of my own performance is a very freeing and joyous experience. Amen. As I said in my sermon last week, the difference between living for God and living for anything else is that when we live for anything else we do so to gain acceptance. When we live for God we do so because we are already accepted. Real freedom (the freedom that only the Gospel grants) is living for something because we already have favor instead of living for something in order to gain favor.

Posted June 5th, 2009 by Tullian Tchividjian

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

While considering potential husbands for our daughters, let’s look at the heart and vision of the young man instead of whether he is completely stable financially. I have a couple of ideas as to what to look for in a young suitor for my daughters. This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start.

1. He must love the Lord with all his heart mind and soul. (The only way to know this is to know him)(Thank you Jesus)
2. His desire must be to glorify God by enjoying Him. (Thank you Dr. Piper)
3. He must have boldness in his faith and an assurance that has lead to a godly vision for his future family. (Thank you Vision Forum)
4. He must see his godly role in the marriage as Priest, Profit, Protector, and Provider. (Thank you Dr. Bachman)
5. He must be sacrificial in his laying his life down for his family (Thank you Dad)
6. He must be teachable and willing to listen
7. He must be a member of good standing in a local church under the headship of several elders.

This is not a recipe on how to find the perfect husband for your daughter, and everyone has their own specifics. However, right now my family believes these are the things we need to be looking for in potential suitors. This is also what we need to be cultivating in my sons. (I’m sure this list will be added to as we approach “courtin’ season” but I doubt we’ll withdraw from it) This means that our future sons-in-law may need a little financial assistance here and there, but I believe that’s what generational faith is. As I see it, we need to look beyond the financial and focus on the spiritual.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

How to care for your pastor/elder

Churches must give their leaders the opportunity to fail. The Holy Spirit often inspires spontaneous ministry and opens unique doors of outreach. These may look risky, probably are, but giving pastors freedom to step out into unknown areas of Christ-centered projects is essential. If failure comes, evaluation is fine, but not recriminations.

The deadly threesome of “woulda, coulda, shoulda” must be avoided at all costs.

BURN-OUT – Perhaps ‘stress’ is a better word. A sense of being driven by deadlines, events and expectations of others, or the animal type of survival instinct – these express the elusive nature of burn-out. That pastors can come to the end of themselves emotionally, spiritually and physically is all too obvious. Let them talk about it without close scrutiny and then love them through it.

Give them rest!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Ageing Youth and its Effects on the Family

Young people are getting married at an older and older age each year. We are “fish in this world and we don’t even know we are wet.” I am a conservative, homeschooling, environmental, Reformed Christian; but I have not found in the Bible where it says a young man must be finished with his education, have a house, a supporting job, and a life’s calling as an elder in a church before he gets married. I believe we are requiring too many so called “Biblical” traits from our children before marriage. We may be doing it for their “best,” but I think we may actually be exasperating them. I don’t know about you, but I am a first generation, multi-generational minded believer. This means that I was not given the advantage that some of our young people have in being debt free when they get married. And guess what? I still have a mortgage. God has been working in our family in a mighty way, but my family is still paying for the sin of their father’s self-indulgence. I will say that those early marriage struggles were hard, but refined us as a couple fully dependent on God. The idea of having to be completely established before being married is possibly a way for the Enemy to keep us from having children during our youth. I believe we, as parents, tend to think that as soon as the child leaves the nest they are on their own. Not me. If I believe I should be debt free; then I will help my children and anyone else I can to be debt free. Our life can’t stop because we have debt. God promises food and clothing to those who love Him and keep His commandments. However, He may not grant shelter from the storm. He is the shelter in the storm, and we tend to forget that. We cannot plan out our lives so much that we completely leave out God’s providence (James 4:13-15).

May God direct and bless fathers and mothers as they grapple with these things.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Can you learn how to work diligently while blessing others?
This was the question I asked my two young warriors for the Lord.
Yes! This is actually the best way to work.
To prove this, the boys are dutifully doing a simple household chore for my wife and daughters this week: the laundry.
One MAJOR priority while doing this specific task is separating the whites from the darks. (I wear red socks, and if they are thrown in with the whites, well, all those beautiful white shirts turn pink:)
“Now sons,” I asked my boys, “Why do we separate the whites from the darks?” (The answer is a great biblical application.) We do it so that the colors from the darks do not run and cause the whites to be stained.
In relation to our friends, we need to be careful who we hang out with because their habits tend to rub off onto us. You could argue that just as our friends may influence us, we may influence them more. It is like a white load that has bleach in it, if a stray colored article gets into the load it will be ruined, whereas the rest of the load will be spotless white. (I think the Lord used the example of leaven in the batch of dough;), but the same thing applies). Nothing is untouched by sin. You will be stained.
Back to our challenge…
They’re doing well so far, but they still have several days to go.
I think they might do the ironing next… (You hear that Ben?)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The following cartoon was done by my fourteen year old political satirist. Really hits the nail on the head, eh?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

"A Hymn for Ordinary Christians- Great is Thy Faithfulness"

Vocational visionaries come from all walks of life. Here's an example from Bob Kauflin:

"Our church as been trying to memorize one hymn a month for the past ten months. This month we’re working on Great is Thy Faithfulness. I had the opportunity to introduce the hymn yesterday morning and was moved by its history. Here’s what I shared.

The story behind Great is Thy Faithfulness should encourage every Christian who thinks of their life as ordinary. There’s no tragic story (think “It Is Well” by Horatio Spafford) associated with this hymn. It’s just the fruit of a faithful man with a simple faith in a faithful God.

Thomas Chisholm, who sometimes described himself as “just an old shoe,” was born in a Kentucky log cabin in 1866. He was converted when he was 27, became a pastor at 36, but had to retire one year later due to poor health. He spent the majority of the rest of his life as a life insurance agent in New Jersey. He died in 1960 at the age of 93. During his life he wrote over 1200 poems, most of which no one will ever hear.

But back in 1923, at the “beyond his prime” age of 57, Thomas Chisholm sent a few of his poems to William Runyan at the Hope Publishing Company. One of them was Great is Thy Faithfulness, based on Lamentations 3:22-23.

Lam. 3:22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Runyan was particularly moved by Great is Thy Faithfulness and sought to set it to a melody that would reflect the response of wonder and gratefulness to God’s faithfulness conveyed in the lyrics. Apparently, he succeeded.

The song quickly became a favorite Moody Bible Institute, and later George Beverly Shea sang it at Billy Graham crusades. Now it’s known all over the world and has been used to encourage millions of Christians to trust in a faithful God.

Pretty impressive spiritual fruit from a life insurance agent.

When Chisholm was 75, he wrote in a letter:

“My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now. Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.”

The hymn has three verses and a chorus. Verse 1 speaks of God’s faithfulness revealed in his Word, and is adapted from James 1:17: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
Verse 2 tells us of God’s faithfulness revealed in creation. The seasons,the sun, moon, and stars all continue on their courses perfectly, orderly, quietly - guided by God’s faithful hand, without any help from us.

Verse 3 reminds us of God’s faithfulness revealed in our lives. He pardons all our sins, fills us with his peace, assures of his presence, gives us strength, hope, and blessings to numerous to count!

Whatever challenges, trials, or disappointments you might be facing right now, this hymn reminds us that God’s promises are true, that he never changes, that his compassions never fail, and that his faithfulness to us in Christ Jesus is more than good—it’s GREAT!
God doesn’t need incredibly gifted or wildly famous people to proclaim those truths from his Word.

Just faithful ones."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Puritan

The Puritans were men who derived a peculiar character from the daily contemplation of superior beings and eternal interests. Not content with acknowledging in general terms an overruling Providence, they habitually ascribed every event to the will of the Great Being, for whose power was nothing too vast, for whose inspection nothing was too minute. To know Him, to serve Him, to enjoy Him, was with them the greatest end of existence. They rejected with contempt the ceremonio0us homage which other sects substituted for the pure worship of the soul. They aspired to gaze upon the intolerable brightness of the Deity, and to commune with Him, face to face. Hence their contempt for worldly distinctions. The difference between the greatest and the meanest seemed to vanish, when compared with the boundless interval which separated the whole race from Him on whom their eyes where constantly fixed. If they were unacquainted the works of philosophers and poets, they were deeply read in the oracles of God.

Thus the Puritan was made up of two different men: one, all self-abasement, penitence, gratitude, passion; the other, proud, calm, inflexible, sagacious. People who saw nothing of the godly but their uncouth visages, and heard nothing from them but their groans and their hymns, might laugh at them. But those had little reason to laugh who encountered them in the hall of debate, or on the field of battle. They brought to civil and military affairs a coolness of judgment and an immutability of purpose which some writers have thought inconsistent with their religious zeal, but which were, in fact, the effects of it. The intensity of their feelings on one subject made them tranquil on every other. Death had lost its terrors, and pleasure its charms. They had their smiles and their tears, their raptures and their sorrows; but not for the things of the world. Enthusiasm had made them stoic, had cleared their minds from vulgar passion and prejudice, and raised them above the influence of danger and corruption. It sometimes might lead them to pursue unwise ends, but never to choose unwise means. We acknowledge that the tone of their minds was often injured by straining after things too high for mortal reach, and they too often fell into the vices of intolerance and extreme austerity. Yet, when all circumstances are taken into consideration, we do not hesitate to pronounce them a brave, a wise, and honest and useful people.

~Macaulay, 1894

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Our Fathers and their Homes

Nurse of the Pilgrim sires who sought,
Beyound th’ Atlantic’s foam,
For fearless truth and honest thought
A refuge and a home,
Who would not be of them or thee
A not unworthy son,
That hears amid the chained or free
The name of Washington?

Cradle of Shakespeare, Milton, Knox
King-shaming Cromwell’s throne,
Home of the Russells, Watts, and Lockes,
Earth’s greatest are thine own;
And shall thy children forge base chains
For men that would be free?
No! by the Eliots, Hampdens, Vanes,
Pyms, Sydneys, yet to be.

No! for the blood which kings have gorged
Hath made their victims wise;
While every lie that Fraud hath forged
Veils wisdom from his eyes;
But time shall change the despot’s mood;
And mind is mightier now than then,
When turning evil into good,
And monsters into men.

If round the soul the chains are bound
That hold the world in thrall;
If tyrants laugh when men are found
In brutal fray to fall;
Lord, let not Britain arm her hands
Her sister States to ban,
But bless through her all other States, -
The family of man!

For freedom if the Hampden fought;
For peace if Falkland fell;
For peace and love if Bentham wrote,
And Burns sang wildly well;
Let Knowledge, strongest of the strong,
Bid Hate and Discord cease;
Be this the burden of my song, -
Love, Liberty, and Peace.
~Ebenezer Eliot

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Vocation is God's call to social, economic, civil, and religious roles or behavior. Individuals must use their talents, which come from God, wholeheartedly in fulfilling a call; however, they must not carry their behavior to extremes. Richard Baxter (1615-1691) explains the danger of excessive behavior, "Overdoing is the most ordinary way of undoing."
In Matthew George Easton’s Bible Dictionary (1897), he describes Providence as:
“Providence literally means foresight, but is generally used to denote God's preserving and governing all things by means of second causes. God's providence extends to the natural world, and the affairs of men, and of individuals. It extends also to the free actions of men, and things sinful, as well as to their good actions.
As regards sinful actions of men, they are represented as occurring by God's permission, and as controlled and overruled for good. God does not cause or approve of sin, but only limits, restrains, and overrules it for good.
The mode of God's providential government is altogether unexplained. We only know that it is a fact that God does govern all his creatures and all their actions; that this government is universal, particular, and efficacious, embraces events apparently contingent, is consistent with his own perfection, and to his own glory."
God reveals His will in many ways. In the words of William Cowper (1731-1800), "God is his own interpreter, and he will make it plain." Puritans actively sought to learn God's will. To fulfill this duty, they read the Bible; listened to sermons; studied daily events; analyzed nature for signs; paid particular attention to out-of-the-ordinary events, like earthquakes and material prosperity (which were called remarkable provinces); and reviewed the events of their lives and the state of their souls, usually by recording them in a diary and looking for patterns and spiritual meanings.
As you read through the Bible do not just look to the things that need to be addressed in your own life but look to see the patterns of fallen man. As you do so, you will come to realize that you have an advantage that the world does not have. Proverbs is God’s wonderful book about the ways of the world. We are instructed all throughout the scriptures to focus on Christ (the Messiah) not on the things of this world. If we focus on Christ and the cross, we will see more plainly how we are to be different than the world. Our lives are to be 180 degrees in the opposite direction of the world. We are to live in this world, but not be part of it. How? You will find what the world values in the Proverbs and elsewhere in the Scriptures, and will be able to set yourself above the temporary. You will be persecuted for your standings, but the world will not be able to find fault with you. They may want to separate themselves from you or your business because they do not understand your beliefs. Anything that is different than that which they understand will cause them to pull away from you. You will need to be counter to the migration by appealing to their need of self worth but never compromising God’s Word. The separation line that will need to become more and more defined as you grow in the Lord is black and white; and also needs to be loving. Remember that living your life according to scripture is not legalistic; however, it is often viewed this way because if you live according to God’s word, you will convict people of their sin just by the way that you live your life.
Remember that we are to be a people set apart, aliens in this fallen world, because of the imputed righteousness of Christ in our regenerated, sanctified and glorified lives. To God alone be the glory!

Monday, July 13, 2009

In talking over what young people can do to prepare themselves for marriage, we have come to the conclusion that young men who think they are ready for marriage need to ask themselves three questions:
1. Do I know Jesus as my personal savior?
2. Do I know God well enough to bathe my wife in His Word?
3. Do I have clear direction in my vocation to have someone come along side of me?
Young maidens have four things to ask:
1. Do I know Jesus as my personal savior well enough that He will not be replaced by another?
2. Do I know God well enough to teach my children the Gospel?
3. Do I know how to be a keeper of home?
4. Have I been behind my father advancing his mission with a servant’s heart, so as to do the same for my husband-to-be?
Vocational Visions come in many shapes and sizes. You should always be willing to have a big vision, but also be willing to plod along in the fulfilling of that vision. There are many of you who have a hard time in deciding what to do for a vocation. My only answer is the book by Kevin DeYoung, Just Do Something.
(Click on book cover for link to Rev. DeYoung's website)

We often blame God for our laziness and claim that He has not given us direction yet. Instead we need to get off the couch and get a job. Shut off the television and read the dead guys. C.S. Lewis challenges us to read one dead guy (who finished the race well) for every two contemporaries. This is good advice for a world that is changing history because we’re not going back to the sources. Go back and read His-story the way it was written.

Friday, July 10, 2009

So I am sitting here trying to decide on what to write for the first post of this blog. I am listening to Indelible Grace and it occurred to me that I should first state what a Vocational Vision is. Sipping some Improper Bostonian Tea, I was also thinking of the great men who came to this country looking to set a city on a hill, to be the example of God’s grace to the entire world. Oh, how have we fallen! As I write this, men like Jonathan Winthrop, the Mather family, Sam Adams, John and John Q. Adams and many more too numerous to speak of, are rolling in their graves.

Vocation – (from the 1828 Noah Webster’s Dictionary) 1. Among divines, a calling by the will of God; or the bestowment of God’s distinguishing grace upon a person or nation, by which that person or nation is put in the way of salvation; as the vocation of the Jews under the old dispensation, and of the Gentiles under the gospel. 2. Summons; call; inducement. 3. Designation or destination to a particular state or profession 4. Employment; calling; occupation; trade; a word that includes occupations. Let every divine, every physician, every lawyer, every mechanic, be faithful and diligent in his vocation.

Vision – 4. In scripture a revelation from God; an appearance or exhibition of something supernaturally presented to the minds of the prophets, by which they were informed of future events.