thumb licks [7.7.11]

God’s Beautiful, Holy, Good—and Crushing—Law

The apostle Paul, a Jewish rabbi who had extensive respect for and acquaintance with God’s law (Acts 22:3) had some very shocking thoughts about it once he came to faith in Christ. Although he heartily agreed that it was “holy and righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12), and although he knew the beautiful nature of God’s law, he also knew that the law could never bring sinners to life because no one could obey it. He confessed that all his obedience (and it was extensive) had no more value than a pile of manure (Phil. 3:8). He wrote: “By works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight.” (Rom. 3:20) What then? Are we Jews [who have the written law] any better off [than Gentiles who didn’t]?

Hijacked by the Gospel

While studying Galatians 1:11-24, I am struck once again with how utterly supreme God’s loving plans are for us in Christ. Paul, captured always by the vision of the original capturing vision of Jesus on the Damascus road, appeals again to the singular transforming power of the gospel by appealing to the way it powerfully transformed him. He was headed one direction, resting in his own sovereignty over his life. But the One who had set Paul apart before his life story even began called him in grace and was pleased to reveal the Son to him (Gal. 1:15-16). His life was never the same. Paul was writing his own life story, but Jesus stole his pen… He got hijacked by the gospel.

Find Out Right Now Whether You Have a Pride Problem

When’s the last time you crept out of your house to worship at the feet of a sculpture created in your own image?  Never, right?  While you probably haven’t done that, it’s likely that you’ve asserted your claim to the title of “Center of the Universe” in other, sometimes subtler, ways. Ever honk at another car while driving because you thought it was slowing you down?  Ever neglect a household responsibility because you thought someone else ought to do it?  Ever dwell on a compliment someone paid you? If we take an honest look at our lives, we’re likely to find evidence of pride under every rock and around every corner.

Worship God by Serving the Poor

The words in chapter 58 of the book of Isaiah have affected me for years. In that Scripture, God tells us the Father sees our relationship with the poor (or lack of it) as something serious. It is impossible to serve God with all our hearts and at the same time miss out on God’s call to care for the needy. The Scriptures say the way we care for the poor is tantamount to the way we see God. The prophet makes it clear that we must have a relationship with the poor if we hope to please God with our lives. 

But in today’s church, most of us don’t know a single person who is needy. How can we obey God if we aren’t connecting with the poor on a regular basis? We can’t. 

Something needs to change. We need to hear the call of God to those in need.

Texting Teens: Typing Replaces Talking [INFOGRAPHIC]

Has texting taken over as the primary form of communication for today’s teens? We found our answer with this Infographic from Lab 42, which polled 500 social-networking Americans aged 13 to 21.

How Important is the Bible?

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thumb lick thursday [5.19.11]

hospitality and small children

I’ve been thinking about the joys and challenges of being hospitable with small children at home. Having toddlers afoot amid home and meal preparations, while expecting a large or small gathering of people, can be a challenge. So much so that many people just don’t do it much at all. But it can also be a great joy and delight.

Transforming Neighborhoods by Transforming Public Schools

Despite our history of antagonism toward public schools, especially as a cultural darkness seems to have settled on them, it’s intriguing to wonder: what if Christians flooded public schools with practical help? What if Christians became more willing to enroll their children in public schools? And what if the lines between public and private educations began to blur?

Where the Twelve Apostles Died

Geographic Travels has put together a map of locations identifying where, according to tradition, the 12 Apostles of Christ died. Blue markers represent commonly accepted death locations while yellow markers represent disputed locations.

On Being Better Bereans

So how can we be better Bereans? Most Christians are eager to receive the word, especially when we get new insights and background information, but how many go the extra step and examine the Scripture to see if the new nugget is actually true (Acts 17:11)? Here are a few things to keep in mind when we hear an exciting new teaching or connection…

Warfare Causes Suffering

“Warfare causes suffering, spiritual warfare being no exception. Those who take up the mission of God’s people by simply living, working and witnessing in the public square so dominated by the gods of this world, who choose to live by the distrinctive ethical standards that flow from their biblical worldview, who confess Jesus as Lord, and not Caesar or Mammon – such people will suffer in one way or another” – Christopher Wright in The Mission of God’s People

Spring Rains

“This song that I wrote is a reflection of what happened in the Garden of Eden. It is an expression of longing and aching for what was lost and looking for what is to come. In his book, Dr. Kapic talks about the moment that Adam and Eve “first began to doubt God’s generosity.” I was overwhelmed with this idea that Dr. Kapic presents in his book, that God, in response to our sin, gives more to us and pours out himself for us. God delights in giving to me and that is just one way in which he shows his love.”  – Esther Ellis

thumb lick thursday [5.12.11]

You Might Be an Idolater if…

How do we know if we love something too much? Where is the line between a healthy enjoyment and an idol? Idolatry is often subtle. It can creep up on us in the form of good desires, like getting married or excelling in the work place. You may have created idols for yourself if… [The Greener Grass Conspiracy]

Parenting 001

Does it seem like parenting has gotten more complicated? I mean, as far as I can tell, back in the day parents basically tried to feed their kids, clothe them, and keep them away from explosives. Now our kids have to sleep on their backs (no wait, their tummies; no never mind, their backs), while listening to Baby Mozart surrounded by scenes of Starry, Starry Night. They have to be in piano lessons before they are five and can’t leave the car seat until they’re about five foot six.

Eating with a Mission

How we eat and who we eat with can communicate quite a bit about what we believe. Something as simple as eating not only creates natural opportunities to be intentional, loving, and missional—but meals can also be a reflection of our theology.

45 Stunning Examples Of Bird’s Eye View Photography That Captured The Beauty Of Earth

Here is an awe-inspiring collection of Bird’s Eye View photography that is a special technique of capturing photographs from an elevated location. This gives the bird’s eye view of the object being photographed. In Bird’s Eye View Photography, the camera is usually not supported by land based structure rather it is hand held or mounted and photographs are taken through triggering the camera either remotely or automatically.

What Love Wins Tells Us About Christians

Everyone knew in advance that Rob Bell’s next book, Love Wins, would surely raise eyebrows and create some debate. But no one, including the author and his agent, expected what did happen. Scot McKnight give “10 [interesting & insightful] things we can learn from one of Christianity’s biggest controversies.”

uMove

thumb lick thursday [5.5.11]

What if I have a conflict with my spouse Sunday morning before church?

I wish I could answer this from a hypothetical perspective.  I cannot.  In fact, I have fresh experience from which to write this post. There are significant implications for the pastor and his wife who have a conflict that goes unresolved leading into the Sunday morning service.  Ours started on a Saturday night.  In a rare moment in our marriage, the hurt and frustration went unresolved and carried over into Sunday morning.  We drove to church still struggling.  We both chose not to go to Sunday school, but to go off separately to think, pray, and try to figure out how we each contributed to this rare circumstance of lingering conflict.

How Are Mac & PC People Different?

In an infographic that’s bound to cause arguments and perhaps fistfights, researchers at Hunch placed data from about 700,000 of its website visitors onto a deep illustration that shows just how different users of Macs and PCs are. They came up with interesting correlations between users’ chosen computing platforms and their demographics and personalities, as well as tastes in food, fashion and media.

The 4 P’s of Business

Many Christians inhabit the world of business, a realm that pastors frequently berate and misunderstand. There are dilemmas faced in the business world that go unnoticed by other Christians. This post is a sermon on business ethics from Proverbs that touched on some of those issues. It is structured around four priorities of business and a concise vision for business ethics.

DA Carson on Biblical Exegesis

Trail Guide: a global journey for God’s Glory

thumb lick thursday [4.28.11]

Shifting Religious Identities

A new study shows American’s shifting spiritual choices, including rising numbers of people with no religion, within a generation.

The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself

Preaching to ourselves is the personal act of applying the law and the gospel to our own lives with the aim of experiencing the transforming grace of God leading to ongoing faith, repentance, and greater godliness. A good teacher or evangelist is first a good preacher to himself. [24] – Joe Thorn, Note to Self, Crossway, Wheaton, IL. 2011.

Preaching to yourself demands asking a lot of questions, both of God’s Word and especially of yourself. To preach to yourself is to challenge yourself, push yourself, and point yourself to the truth. It is not so much uncovering new truth as much as it is reminding yourself of the truth you tend to forget. [32] – Joe Thorn, Note to Self, Crossway, Wheaton, IL. 2011.

Simply Herald Christ

Paul, in his own estimation, was not a philosopher, not a moralist, not one of the world’s wise men, but simply Christ’s herald. His royal Master had given him message to proclaim; his whole business, therefore was to deliver that message with exact and studious faithfulness, adding nothing, altering nothing, and omitting nothing. And he was to deliver it, not as another of man’s bright ideas, needing to be beautified with the cosmetics and high heels of fashionable learning in order to make people look at it, but as a word from God, spoken in Christ’s name, carrying Christ’s authority, and to be authenticated in the hearers by the convicting power of Christ’s Spirit. – J.I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. IVP, Wheaton, IL. 2008. 52.

Preach Christ [and conviction of sin]

It is not conviction of sin just to feel miserable about yourself and your failures and your inadequacy to meet life’s demands. Nor would it be saving faith it a man in that condition called on the Lord Jesus Christ just to soothe him, cheer him up and make him feel confident again. Nor should we be preaching the gospel (though we might imagine we were) if all that we did was to present Christ in terms of human’s felt wants. (“Are you happy? Are you satisfied? Do you want peace of mind? Do you feel that you have failed? Are you fed up with yourself? Do you want a friend? Then come to Christ; he will meet your every need”–as if the Lord Jesus Christ were to be thought of as a fairy godmother, or super-psychiatrist.) No; we have to go deeper than this. To preach sin means not to make capital out of people’s felt frailties (the brainwasher’s trick), but to measure their lives by the holy law of God. To be convicted of sin means not just to feel that one in an all-around flop, but to realize that one has offended God, flouted his authority, defied him, gone against him and put oneself in the wrong with him. To preach Christ means to set him forth as the One who, through the cross, sets men right with God again. to put faith in Christ means relying on him, and him alone, to restore us to God’s fellowship and favor. – J.I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. IVP, Wheaton, IL. 2008. 69-70.

The Story of Jesus is True

Dr. Keller began his talk with listing three statements that he was going to prove. 1) Why it’s important that the story of Jesus is true. 2) Why it’s important the story of Jesus is about Jesus. 3) Why it’s important that the Gospel is not a set of bullet points, but rather a story. He spent the remainder of his message giving eight arguments that answered the above questions. After the talk, Keller stayed for a book signing. The event was sponsored by Lemuria Books, Reformed University Fellowship and Belhaven University.

thumb lick thursday [4.21.11]

Parenting Daughter’s
I am only 5 months into parenting a new born daughter. Already I am thinking about that day when I will give her away to a future husband. In preparation for that day Dave Bruskas shares some practical insights about leading his daughter well in the dating season of life.

One thing a parent should never say
Is there a method of parenting that is so effective that it will erase the sin nature in our children? Short answer? “No.” And if you don’t get this, it’s very possible that you’ll expect more from parenting than it can deliver. But here’s the tricky part: parenting matters! It’s possible to be a good parent or to be a terrible parent. Parenting makes a difference! But how much is parenting meant to provide? How much can we actually do for our children?

Why So Many Words in Worship?
Perhaps you’ve wondered why Christian worship is so heavy on words? Perhaps you or your church has been criticized for being too propositional, too auditory, too…wordy. Well, here are twenty-five reasons why verbal proclamation–through the reading, preaching, singing, and praying of the Bible and biblical truth–should have the preeminent place in corporate worship

Why We Sing in Church
Christians sing together during corporate worship gatherings. Colossians 3:16-17 helps us understand why. Paul tells us that worshiping God together in song is meant to deepen the relationships we enjoy through the gospel. This happens in three ways (or three R’s): remember, respond, and reflect.

Matrix Music
I’ve always dreamed about being a DJ. You can spend hours creating mixes on this beat blasting application. Who knows, you might be the next Moby!?

A Beautiful Mind
It is amazing what the human mind can do. In this video a man with a gifted mind is able to draw entire cityscapes from memory by flying over that city for an hour in a helicopter. The drawings are precise, almost perfect.

thumb lick thursday [4.7.11]

5 Ways to Make Your Kids Hate Church

If you are a parent you have huge influence on whether or not your kids fall in love with Christ’s Church. Thomas Weaver give 5 very real ways parents can cultivate a hateful attitude in their children’s heart towards the church.

My Christian Commitment

“I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of His and I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still…I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice or hesitate in the presence of the adversary. I will not negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won’t give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes. And when He does come for His won, He’ll have no problems recognizing me. My colors will be clear!” – Written by a young African pastor. Found among his papers in Zimbabwe after he was martyred

6 Keys to Poor Preaching

Everyone has an opinion on what the pastor should preach. Most of the time people’s opinions lead to poor preaching. Pastors also have the problem of ticking their hearers ears rather than preaching good sermons their hearers need to hear. What makes poor preaching?

The Cross and Criticism

Most of us would agree that criticism is difficult to take. Who of us doesn’t know someone with whom we need to be especially careful in our remarks lest they blow up in response to our suggested corrections? I do not fear man’s criticism for I have already agreed with God’s criticism. And I do not look ultimately for man’s approval for I have gained by grace God’s approval.

Which baseball team should I cheer for this year?

With the 2011 MLB season on its way America’s pastime is in need of serious fans. Maybe you have cheered for the same team you entire life. Maybe you do not know which team to cheer for. Maybe you need to consider the Baseball Flow Chart. [HT]

thumb lick thursday [3.31.11]

Lick it, flip it, clip it, quote it. A thumb lick is a term used to describe the action taken when turning the page of a book. While reading I often find great one-liners, statements and paragraphs that are golden nuggets of biblical wisdom. So Thumb Lick Thursday is a way to pass along great tidbits of truth.

Is Mandated Bible Reading Healthy for Kids?

This is probably one of the most common questions  I hear from parents wanting to establish Christian disciplines in their kids. Every Christian parent deals with this at some point. They struggle with what they should mandate vs just encourage their kids to do. And with this, how much? At what point will we defeat our purpose and discourage them?

Hope for hurting marriages

There are far too many marriages in our Churches and communities that are hanging together by very thin threads. When marriages are like this, patterns of neglect are almost always part of the reason. It takes commitment and work for a marriage to be the mutually satisfying relationship it was intended to be (Note: 5 key commitments for a good marriage).

Worth-ship

Worship is “worth-ship”, an acknowledgement of the worth of Almighty God…It is therefore impossible for me to worship God and yet not care two cents whether anybody else worships Him too…Worship does not beget witness is hypocrisy. We cannot acclaim worth of God if we have no desire to proclaim it. – John Stott, Our Guilty Silence. 27-28

Suffering & Death

The Greatest single secret of evangelistic or missionary effectiveness is the willingness to suffer and die. It may be a death to popularity (by fatefully preaching the unpopular biblical gospel), or to pride (by the use of modest methods in reliance on the Holy Spirit), or to radical and national prejudice (by identification with another culture), or to material comfort (by adopting a simpler lifestyle). But the servant must suffer if he is to bring light to the nations, and the seed must die if it is to multiply. – John Stott, The Cross of Christ, Leicester: IVP, and Downers Grove, IL. 1986. 322.

What are you Sinking about?

It is easy for communication to be lost in translation. This commercial by the German Coast Guard and their new recruit emphasize this point.

thumb lick thursday [3.2.11]


Jesus’ obedience is mine
Why should I obey God? Jesus did. How can I obey when life is difficult? Follow the example of Jesus. Check out this thoroughly biblical theology of obedience in the life of Jesus from the Gospel of Mark. You will look at obedience differently.

The Pastor as Theologian
Every pastor is called to be a theologian. This may come as a surprise to some pastors, who see theology as an academic discipline taken during seminary rather than as an ongoing and central part of the pastoral calling. Nevertheless, the health of the church depends upon its pastors functioning as faithful theologians — teaching, preaching, defending and applying the great doctrines of the faith.

Are We Afraid of Single Pastors?
Prejudice is like a cockroach: it is able to get into the smallest of places, and it never seems to die. What’s worse is that everyone carries the cockroach of prejudice somewhere inside of them. Prejudice is a pre-conceived notion, an irrational assumption, a judgment against another without any evidence. We believers are called to rise above showing “personal favoritism” (James 2:1), because there is “no partiality with God” (Romans 2:11). Even so, prejudice against single pastors abounds.

dis-Grace

It is, sadly, possible to be un-amazed by the grace of God, to take it for granted, as though it were ours by right or, worse, by merit. Thus, we dis-grace the grace of God. In the process, the melody line of the Christian life is lost. – Sinclair B. Ferguson, By Grace Alone, 101

thumb lick thursday [2.24.11]

Lick it, flip it, clip it, quote it. A thumb lick is a term used to describe the action taken when turning the page of a book. Have you ever know someone who licks their thumb to grip the pages of a new book? While reading I often find great one-liners, statements and paragraphs that are golden nuggets of biblical wisdom. These thumb licks are quotes that must be shared. So Thumb Lick Thursday is a way to pass along great tidbits of truth.

Disappearing Languages
Every 14 days a language dies. By 2100, more than half of the more than 7,000 languages spoken on Earth—many of them not yet recorded—may disappear, taking with them a wealth of knowledge about history, culture, the natural environment, and the human brain.

Heaven

I’ve never been to Heaven, yet I miss it. Eden’s in my blood. The best things of life are souvenirs from Eden, appetizers of the New Earth. There’s just enough of them to keep us going, but never enough to make us satisfied with the world as it is, or ourselves as we are. We live between Eden and the New Earth, pulled toward what we once were and what we yet will be. – Randy Alcorn, Heaven

It’s the Inequality, Stupid
A huge share of the nation’s economic growth over the past 30 years has gone to the top one-hundredth of one percent, who now make an average of $27 million per household. Read more about the growing disparity between the rich and the other folk.

Treasures

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
– Be Thou My Vision, Eleanor Hull, 1874.

limits, sleep, gospel song

Limits

It is okay for me to have limits–God doesn’t. It is okay to get a good nights sleep–God doesn’t sleep. It is okay for me to rest–God doesn’t need to. We don’t know a lot about what heaven looks like, but this much we know: God is not pacing the throne room anxious and depressed because of the condition of the world. He knows, He is not surprised, and He is sovereign. It is okay for me to have limits. He is able. – Richard A. Swenson, The Overload Syndrome, p.37

Humility

Humility, rightly understood, shouldn’t be a fabric softener on our aspirations. When we become too humble to act, we’ve ceased being biblically humble. True humility doesn’t kill our dreams; it provides a guardrail for them, ensuring that they remain on God’s road and move in the direction of His glory. – Dave Harvey, Rescuing Ambition, 14

Cross

Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to be saying to us, “I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.” Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. – John Stott, The Message of Galatians, 179.

Sleep

Your sleep tonight will be a small but real fact of faith. You’ll lay your full weight on a bed, trusting this structure to support you. You can fully relax, because no effort at supporting yourself is required; something else is holding you up. And in the same way, throughout the night sleep, Someone else is sustaining you. This is a picture of what it’s like to belong to Christ. – C.J. Mahaney, Humility: True Greatness, 85.

Gospel Song

soldier, robbed, and fuel

Lick it, flip it, clip it, quote it. A thumb lick is a term used to describe the action taken when turning the page of a book. Have you ever know someone who licks their thumb to grip the pages of a new book? While reading I often find great one-liners, statements and paragraphs that are golden nuggets of biblical wisdom. These thumb licks are quotes that must be shared. So Thumb Lick Thursday is a way to pass along great tidbits of truth.

followership is not for the faint of heart

“Am I a soldier of the cross, a follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause, or blush to speak His Name?
Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize, and sailed through bloody seas?”
– Isaac Watts, I Am a Soldier of the Cross

robbed or robber

“I thank Thee first I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse they did not take my life; third, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, and not I who robbed.” – Matthew Henry

make me Thy fuel

“Give me the love that leads the way,
the faith that nothing can dismay,
the hope no disappointments tire,
the passion that will burn like fire,
let me not sink to be a clod;
make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.”
– Amy Carmichael