Monday, November 30, 2009

"Tim Keller Wants to Save Your Yuppie Soul"

That’s the title of a profile of Tim Keller and Redeemer Presbyterian Church in the current issue of New York Magazine. I'm looking forward to reading it on my day off tomorrow.

It's exciting to see how Pastor Keller's ministry is continuing to expand in a city as secularized as NYC.

The Good News Isn't about You

From The Gospel-Centered Life:

"The good news of the gospel is not that God favors us because of who we are, but that he favors us in spite of who we are." (emphasis added)

Grasping the Whole Bible -- Resources

Yesterday I began a five week series, giving a bird's eye view of the entire Bible. We'll spend four weeks looking at the Old Testament, and then one Sunday examining the message of the New Testament (You can download the first message in the series, on Genesis 1-11, here).

Preparing for these messages is unlike any sermon preparation I've done before, because of the large amount of Scripture I'm handling each week. To aid my study, I've been using a few resources that trace out the overarching storyline of the Bible. I thought maybe some blog readers who are listening to the messages on Sunday mornings would be interested in digging a bit deeper, so here's a list of them (they're all available at discounted prices here):

And one for the kids (which I think should be required reading for every adult!):

Also, a series of messages called The Bible: The Whole Story (Part 1 and Part 2) from Tim Keller provides a rich overview of the Bible's central storyline.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Prayer Needed

From the To Every Tribe twitter feed:

please join in us pray for David Sitton's brother Jim & his wife Muriel who lost thier daughter (6) & 3 other family members last night.

Read a news report of the tragic killings here.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Little Thanksgiving Fun

This is a great commercial:

A Thanksgiving Prayer

(Via Michael McKinley)

From The Valley of Vision. This is a Thanksgiving Day favorite...

O My God,

Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects,
my heart admires, adores, loves thee,
for my little vessel is as full as it can be,
and I would pour out all that fullness before thee in ceaseless flow.

When I think upon and converse with thee
ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,
ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart,
crowding into every moment of happiness.

I bless thee for the soul thou hast created,
for adorning it, for sanctifying it, though it is fixed in barren soil;
for the body thou hast given me,
for preserving its strength and vigour,
for providing senses to enjoy delights,
for the ease and freedom of my limbs,
for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;
for thy royal bounty providing my daily support,
for a full table and overflowing cup,
for appetite, taste, sweetness,
for social joys of relatives and friends,
for ability to serve others,
for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
for a mind to care for my fellow-men,
for opportunities of spreading happiness around,
for loved ones in the joys of heaven,
for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.

I love thee above the powers of language to express, for what thou art to thy creatures.
Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

When Your Child is Disobedient...

That never happens to any of us, does it?

Well, for those of you who have to deal with disobedient children (and that includes me!), this might be an encouragement:

10 Things To Remember When Your Child Is Disobedient

Ruth Simons:

Here are 10 Things I had to remind myself today when the job of correcting my children felt especially difficult…

1. You disobey the Lord…and He is the perfect Father.

2. His kindness leads us to repentance.

3. God disciplines those He loves.

4. Your child’s disobedience does not measure your value any more than his obedience showcases your achievement.

5. Your child’s disobedience teaches you dependence on God.

6. And sometimes it’s more than dependence He’s after, it’s complete desperation for Him.

7. Your child is clearly a sinner, and needs to hear the truth of the Gospel, and see it lived out through you.

8. Times of correction serve to remind, or establish within your child, his own sense of need for a Savior.

9. It’s not good behavior you really desire…you want his heart.

10. Your child is a person, not a project.

One more thing about missional living...

In my sermon last Sunday, I did my best to explain the marks of a missional life. In essence I made two points:

A missional life spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ everywhere (2 Corinthians 2:14), and, a missional life adorns the gospel of His grace in everything (Titus 2:10).

Since my text was Acts 28, I really should have added this:

A missional life will be spoken against everywhere. At least that's what was said of the "sect" of Christianity in Acts 28:22: "With regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against."

So let's drop all illusions that living missionally is going to make us popular. If we aren't being spoken against as we engage in Christ's mission, we're probably not being faithful.

Don't Forget to Groan, 11/26

Roha, an infant, is left sleeping on the sidewalk of a busy street in Mumbai, India.

(Why should we groan?)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The De-Churched

Knowing who they are and where they've come from helps us to minister to them more effectively:

The Gospel

As defined in the Gospel Coalition's Theological Vision for Ministry, which I posted last night:

Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God has come to reconcile individuals by His grace and renew the whole world by and for His glory.

I love the second "and" in this statement: the gospel is that through Jesus, God has come to reconcile individuals AND renew the whole world. It's difficult to hold tightly to both sides of this "and", but I think it's very important to do so.

If not for this"and", Jesus only gets half of the glory He's due.

That's why conjunctions matter!

Richard Dawkins' Poster Children

Jim W will like this one:

"The two children chosen to front Richard Dawkins's latest assault on God could not look more free of the misery he associates with religious baggage. With the slogan 'Please don't label me. Let me grow up and choose for myself', the youngsters with broad grins seem to be the perfect advertisement for the new atheism being promoted by Professor Dawkins and the British Humanist Association. Except that they are about as far from atheism as it is possible to be. The Times can reveal that Charlotte, 8, and Ollie, 7, are from one of the country's most devout Christian families."

Read the whole thing.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Gospel Coalition Vision for Ministry

Sometimes I just post things on this blog so that I know I'll be able to find it when I want to examine something more deeply.

This document from the Gospel Coalition would be one such thing. It looks like a document worthy of much reflection for church leaders. So maybe you would find it edifying as well.

The TV is My Shepherd

Before you read this, understand that it's not my intention to overstate the danger of television or condemn people who watch television. Those who know me will know that I have a television in my home, and I watched half of the Eagles game last night. So I am not condemning TV; if I was to do that, I'd be condemning myself!

But there's still a much-needed challenge and reminder in this re-writing of the 23rd Psalm:

The TV is my shepherd,
I shall want more.
It makes me lie down on the sofa.
It leads me away from the faith;
It destroys my soul.
It leads me in the path of sex and violence
for the sponsor's sake.
Yeah, though I walk in the shadow of Christian responsibility,
there will be no interruption, for the TV is with me.
It's cables and remote control, they comfort me.
It prepares a commercial for me in the presence of my worldliness;
It anoints my head with humanism and consumerism;
My coveting runneth over.
Surely, laziness and ignorance shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house watching TV for ever.

(Via Thabiti Anyabwile)

The Ultimate Crisis

Michael Horton, in his new book The Gospel-Driven Life:

"We may have problems in our marriage, child-rearing, stress at work, low self-esteem, and worries about our health or the financial market. However, the ultimate crisis facing us is summarized in Romans 1:18: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The cost of worshiping Jesus

In Vietnam:

Propelling Outward

From The Gospel-Centered Life, by Bob Thune and Will Walker:

If the gospel is renewing you internally, it will also be propelling you externally. It must do so, for it is the good news of the Kingdom (Matt. 9:35), and the Kingdom of God is not personal and private! Jesus taught us to pray, "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10). When we pray for the coming of God's Kingdom, we are praying both that Jesus would reign in the hearts of people (inward) and that His will would be done everywhere just as it is in heaven (external).

Friday, November 20, 2009

Reading & Reflecting on the Scriptures

Wise words from Justin Taylor on getting something out of your Bible reading:

One of the challenges of biblical interpretation is that some sentences–especially in Paul–can have so much information tightly packed into them. Skim the surface of them and you may have a general sense of what he’s saying, but God is in the details!

Here’s one suggestion. Try to put down on paper the various questions that the passage is answering. You might want to start with the standard questions (who, what, when, where, why, how).

Here’s one example: a single sentence from Romans 8:3-4:

By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

How do all these clauses relate to each other. Here are some questions you can ask to find out:

What did God do?

He condemned sin in the flesh.

(Note: this is why Rom. 8:1 — “no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus”–is true. God has to condemn sin; he will either condemn your sin, or he has already condemned your sin in the sacrifice of his Son. Unite with Jesus and condemnation is gone forever.)

How did God condemn sin in the flesh?

By sending his own Son [Jesus].

How did Jesus come?

In the likeness of sinful flesh.

Why (negatively) did Jesus come?

For sin.

Why (positively) did Jesus come?

In order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled.

In whom?

In us.

Who are we (negatively)?

Those who do not walk according to the flesh.

Who are we (positively)?

Those who walk according to the Spirit.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Gospel in Three Words

(Via the Of First Importance blog)

“Were I asked to focus the New Testament message in three words, my proposal would be adoption through propitiation, and I do not expect ever to meet a richer or more pregnant summary of the gospel than that.”

—J.I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: 1993), 214

The Hatred of Silence

The holidays are just around the corner, which means a lot of readers of this blog will be spending time with people who do not share our convictions about Jesus. I know firsthand that it can be awkward to talk to these relatives and friends about Christ.

But in this video, even an atheist implores us to do so. Penn Jillette, of the comedy team Penn & Teller, basically says we're hating people if we don't tell them about Christ:

“I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me along and keep your religion to yourself—how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?

“I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”

If even an atheist can see this, let's risk the awkwardness and be obedient.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Godward Groaning

The most groaning-filled chapter in the Bible? It's Lamentations 1 (5x). Yet the groaning is aimed Godward in prayer (v.20ff).

May I groan this way.

Why Small Groups....Four Months Later

Back in July I began a study with my small group called Why Small Groups? Last week we finished the study, and it was fitting that just this past Sunday someone from our church asked me what our church's vision for the small group ministry is.

I love questions like this, because they help me to think through why we do what we do. And it is good to know that people in the congregation also want to know why we do what we do. After studying the book for four months, I feel much better equipped to answer this question than I did when we started our study.

If I were to say it in a sentence, I think I'd put it this way:

Small Groups exist to provide a context for the "one another's" of Scripture to be practiced, for the glory of God and the growth, edification and care of His people.

Of course, assumed in this summary sentence is that one is familiar with the "one another's" of Scripture (for a non-exhaustive list, check under the heading, Ways that the New Testament tells us to care for one another, in the sermon here).

So what do you think: do small groups matter? And if so, why?

A Little Taste of Shalom

On this blog I try to keep regular reminders to groan, because with all of our American comforts and luxuries, we sometimes are numb to the fact that this world isn't the way it's supposed to be. We know that, but I try to help myself feel it by posting my Don't Forget to Groan posts.

As important as it is to remember to groan, it's also important to remember that what we are groaning for is shalom...that is, the way things ought to be.

While this "webbing together of God, humans and all creation in justice, fulfillment and delight" will never be perfect until Jesus returns to make all things new, we do get little glimpses of it in this life. I found one such glimpse in this video of some unexpected reunions between children and their fathers as they return home from deployment. There's something glorious about seeing reconciliation happen, isn't there? It is, I think, a little foretaste of that awesome day when the entire cosmos will be reconciled to its Maker:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Don't Forget to Groan, 11/17

Having been to Kazakhstan a few years ago, I was especially moved by this:

Mayra Zhumageldina bathes her daughter, Zhannoor, in Semey, Kazakhstan on March 2, 2009. Zhannoor, 16, was born with microcephalia and sixth-degree scoleosis - a twisted spine because of exposure to high levels of radiation. The defect harmed Zhannoor's brain development as if she were in a permanent vegetative state. She cannot think, speak or perform basic functions. Mayra must bathe her every day because she cannot afford diapers.

For more on the radioactive legacy of Kazakhstan, click here.

(Why should we groan?)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Everything Sad Comes Untrue

Every ounce of pain Christians have tasted will one day become untrue and be transformed into greater glory than we can imagine (2Cor4:17).

Jesus is an amazing Redeemer!

"You have never talked to a mere mortal"

This morning in my devotions I read Paul's words in in 2 Corinthians 5:16,

"From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh."

What does that mean? These words from C.S. Lewis have been a help to me in pondering this:

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would strongly be tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.

It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.

Tough Love

Last night I tweeted:

Paul wasn't afraid to cause people pain in his labor of love for them (2Cor2:1ff). I want people like this around me, & to be one for others.

Immediately after writing it, I listened to this message from Matt Chandler delivered recently at Southern Seminary (if you're reading this in a RSS reader you may need to click through to the Redemption Groanings site to view the video):

Thank you, Matt Chandler. I probably will never meet you this side of the resurrection, but I am grateful for your willingness to afflict pain for the sake of loving Jesus and others. I was cut to the heart, and felt exceedingly loved.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Every Christian is a miracle

Being converted requires a miracle every bit as great as God calling light out of darkness at the creation of the world (2Cor4:6).

If it's happened to you, give Him ALL the glory for it.

It works in the country too...

Tim Keller:

No better way to show the city who God is than to serve neighbors whether they believe like you or not.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

God's Perspective on Money

Randy Alcorn:

I'm convinced that if we were to gain God's perspective, even for a moment, and were to look at the way we go through life accumulating and hoarding and displaying things, we would have the same feelings of horror and pity that any sane person has when he views people in a mental asylum endlessly beating their heads against the wall.

This is certainly not all there is to say about the issue of money and possessions, but it's surely worthy of much reflection and prayer.

Friday, November 13, 2009

11 Reasons All People Know Abortion is Wrong

From a sermon by John Piper:

1. In Minnesota the Fetal Homicide Law makes a person guilty of manslaughter or worse if he kills the baby in a mother's womb - unless the mother agrees with the killing. Who is willing to live with the moral implications of making a person's "being wanted" the criterion of its right to life?

2. There is an inconsistency between doing fetal surgery on a baby in the womb to save life, and at a similar stage of development, killing a baby down the hall.

3. A baby can live on its own at 23 or 24 weeks. Yet pro-choice people say it can be killed even at and beyond this age if the mother will be distressed by its live birth more than its abortion. What morally significant factor will prevent them from saying that two babies at 23 weeks - one born and one unborn - may both be killed because of a mother's distress?

4. A baby's living without an umbilical cord (that is, outside the womb) is not the criterion of human personhood and the condition of the right to life. We all know this because our own living on a respirator or dialysis machine would not jeopardize our own personhood. The source of food and oxygen does not determine personhood.

5. The size of a human is irrelevant to human personhood. We know this because we do not make a one-month-old baby outside the womb vulnerable to killing even though it is so much smaller than a five-year-old. Littleness is irrelevant to personhood.

6. Developed reasoning powers are not the criterion of personhood. We know this because a one-month-old baby outside the womb does not have these powers either, yet its life is not in jeopardy because of that.

7. Scientifically we are human beings by virtue of our genetic makeup. The human code in the chromosomes is there from the start. We are utterly different from monkeys or rats or elephants as soon as the chromosomes of egg and sperm meet.

8. At eight weeks, all the organs are present - brain functioning, heart pumping, liver making blood cells, kidney cleaning the fluids, fingerprints formed, etc. Yet almost all abortions happen later than this date.

9. Ultrasound has given a stunning window on the womb that shows the unborn at eight weeks sucking a thumb, recoiling from pricking, responding to sound. We can see the amazing pictures in Life Magazine or various books or Web pages.

10. There is a principle of justice that, when two legitimate rights conflict - say the woman's right not to be pregnant, and the baby's right not to be killed - the right that should be limited is the one that would do the most harm.

11. The Word of God says, "Thou shalt not kill." But many abortionists admit they are killing baby humans. Bill Long, who used to do abortions at Midwest Health Center for Women told me over lunch some years ago that he knew he was "killing babies." Those were the abortionist's words. But he said it was a lesser evil; women must have "reproductive freedom."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Jesus is all you Need

Tim Keller:

You don't realize Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.

I'm sure that's a hard lesson to learn, but a precious one.

Good Deeds

John Piper:

Over and over in the New Testament the writers stress that we were created and converted to be engaged relentlessly in a life of public good deeds. Indeed, Titus 1:14 says that Christ died to "purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds." The term "good deeds" does not mean sitting at home watching wholesome videos instead of going out and watching dirty movies. Good deeds means designing ministries for caring for AIDS orphans in Africa, and feeding the malnourished, and housing the homeless, and teaching the illiterate and ignorant, and freeing the addicted and fighting crime and visiting the prisoner and befriending the lonely, laboring in the cause of protecting the unborn and relieving the crisis of unexpected pregnancies, and a thousand other visible ways of doing good to others in the name of Jesus (see Titus 2:7-8; 3:8; Hebrews 10:22; Matthew 5:16).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Marriage is a Picture

Referring to Ephesians 5:31-32, Noel Piper writes:

"God designed marriage to be a picture (Eph. 5:31-32). That makes me ask myself, how clear and well-focused is the portrait of Jesus that our marriage is displaying?"

That's helpful question to ask over and over as we enjoy the gift of marriage.

Praying faster than the speed of light

A question for those who've read Paul Miller's A Praying Life:

How do you linger over a prayer card (I don't know any Ernies, this is a sample card) for only a few seconds? What exactly does that kind of prayer look like?

I love the idea of prayer cards, and am building my stack of them. But I can't figure out how Miller spends only a few seconds on one and prays meaningfully.

Let me know what you think...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Our Nemesis is actually our ally (If you're a Phillies fan, in Christ)

Mariano Rivera, future Hall of Fame pitcher of the New York Yankees:

"I want to be clear as water, as open as I can be, for people to understand that no matter how much you have, if you don't have Jesus Christ as your Savior , it doesn't mean anything ."

I don't have a reference, but by all accounts it seems as though Rivera is devout in his faith in Christ. If so, the man who ended my favorite sports team's season is nearer to me than most of the guys who play for "my team".

Wedding Days, the Insanity of Sin & the Love of Christ

A pair of recent tweets from my morning Bible meditation:

Wives, can you imagine arriving at church on your wedding day w/out your dress? "Yet My people have forgotten Me days w/out number" (Jer2:32).

Husbands, remember the feeling? "as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride..." Now marvel: "so shall your God rejoice over you" (Is62:5).

Sesame Street & The Kingdom of God

This is a great post from Russell Moore on what the church can learn from the children's TV show Sesame Street, which turns forty this week. Moore writes:

Now, as I soon as I mention Sesame Street, I know some of you will balk about its educational value. You’ll point me to studies suggesting that learning the alphabet from singing puppets actually shortens kids’ attention spans. No argument here. But simply learning facts was never the primary goal of the program.

As the New York Times puts it, this was a “messianic show,” with a “mission” to remake the way children envisioned the world.

Moore explains this by using an example of racial integration:

Years before my Mississippi elementary school was integrated via busing, I’d seen African-American and Latino characters (such as “Gordon” and “Maria”) functioning as equal members of a society, on the television screen of my home.

“It’s almost too perfect that the first African-American president of the United States was elected in time for the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street,” the New York Times says. “The world is finally beginning to look the way that PBS show always made it out to be.”

Then Moore draws the comparison with the Church's mission:

What would happen if, whenever our culture saw love or reconciliation or peace, our neighbors said, “This is exactly the way that church always made life out to be?”

It's really worth reading the whole thing. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Does Anyone Read My Twitter Feed?

In the last couple of days I've posted some of my tweets here, but I don't want to be too redundant. Do blog readers check Twitter too?

Leave a comment and let me know.

Fighting for Life

Last week I mentioned the story of a woman in Texas who resigned from her position at Planned Parenthood after she watched an ultrasound of an abortion. Here's more on the story from an interview Abby Johnson (the former Planned Parenthood employee) did with Mike Huckabee:

I praise God for this woman's testimony. Please join me in praying that it reaches a wide audience.

Fuel for the Start of the Work Week

A valuable reminder from Tim Keller:

"God places a high value on his work - filling the world with excellence and beauty (Gen 1) - and therefore so should we."

Even our ordinary, "secular" work is loaded with meaning and Godlike qualities. Cleaning a house is bringing order out of chaos, the very thing God did in creating the world. So work with joy this week, in whatever God has called you to do, knowing that your work images forth the glory of our Maker.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The song won't work if tomorrow, we LIVE

If the dead aren't raised, then @DaveJMatthews is right: Eat & drink, for tomorrow we die (1Cor15:32). But that's a BIG if; be sure, friend.

Don't Forget to Groan, 11/8

Who won the World Series seems pretty insignificant when realities like this exist in the world:

MacAidan Gallegos, 5, receives a flag from Brigadier General Sean MacFarlan as Amanda Doyle, MacAidan's mother, watches during the funeral services for Army Sgt. Justin Gallegos at Evergreen Cemetery in Tucson, Ariz. Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009. The Department of Defense says Gallegos was one of eight U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009 during a fight with insurgents in a remote area near the Pakistan border.

(Why should we groan?)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Believe this, and sleep like a baby

Truth that gives sweet sleep (Jer31:26): "I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish" (v.25). Good night.

I'm not sure if Rick Reilly is a Phillies fan, but he sure sounds like one

I was mildly irritated when I visited during my lunch break yesterday and saw footage from the Yankees championship parade. Then I came across this little piece by Rick Reilly, who captured my sentiments well:

Look, the Yankees played well. But isn't that what the Yankees are supposed to do? They paid their players almost twice as much as the Phillies team they beat -- $208M to $111M. Just the Yankees starting infield made more than 15 teams this year. Throw them a parade? I don't get it. So what? George Clooney got a girl, Paris Hilton slept in satin sheets last night and Bill Gates went to the bank. Call me when you've got some news.

Read the rest here.

It's good to know at least that the Phillies have the best team that money can't buy.

Prayer & the Gospel

There were many things I enjoyed about Paul Miller's A Praying Life; one of those things was the connection that Miller made between prayer and the Gospel. Here's one of my favorite quotes:

Prayer mirrors the gospel. In the gospel, the Father takes us as we are because of Jesus and gives us his gift of salvation. In prayer, the Father receives us as we are because of Jesus and gives us his gift of help. We look at the inadequacy of our praying and give up, thinking that something is wrong with us. God looks at the adequacy of his Son and delights in our sloppy, meandering prayers.

If, like me, you desire a more enthusiastic, disciplined and joyful prayer life, Miller's book is an excellent read.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Memorial of God's Grace

The Nittany Lion statue next to Rec Hall is the most famous landmark at Penn State (Oh well, maybe it's Beaver Stadium, but I prefer the Lion!). And when I think of Penn State I think of Jesus, because that's where I encountered Him and gave my life to Him.

Three years later, Penn State is where I also encountered and fell in love with my amazingly beautiful bride.

Now the Lord has blessed us with two extraordinary little girls.

So when I look at this picture, my heart bursts forth with awestruck wonder and praise: Grace, grace, grace!

"I Can't do this anymore"

That's what a director at Planned Parenthood facility in Texas recently said, who resigned her position after watching an ultrasound of an abortion.

Watch a news clip of the story here.

The Strangest 60 Seconds of my Vacation

I saw a commercial for this:

And it wasn't a joke. You can actually buy these things. Is Chia Jesus around the corner?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Don't Forget to Groan, 11/5

Pakistani volunteers rush an injured child to a hospital after an explosion from a car bomb in Peshawar, Pakistan.

(Why should we groan?)

The reign that never ends

The World Series is over, and it was a disappointing week for the Phils. They were only two wins from a repeat championship, but couldn't pull it off. Their reign as World Series champions is over, and though last year's victory was great, there's still a sour taste in the mouth of Phillies' fans after losing this year.

Yankees fans should know something of that taste. After winning four championships in five years in the late 90's, they had the pieces to win every year since 2000, but came up short each year until this one. And all those victories in the late 90's probably didn't make losing year after year any sweeter.

But the end of the Phillies' reign as champions has increased my joy in sharing in the reign that will never end. At the beginning of Luke's Gospel, when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her about the Son whom she would bear, the angel told her:

"He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."

Imagine that: a reign that never ends. The thrill of sharing in the triumphant reign of our favorite sports teams is an echo written on our hearts testifying to us that we were created to be part of an eternal reign, infinitely greater than the Phillies or Yankees can imagine. Their reign lasts for a season (or two or three if they're fortunate); but the reign of Jesus Christ endures forever.

So it will be a long offseason for the Phillies and their fans, as they seek to recapture their championship reign in 2010. Yet their loss this season makes me incredibly grateful that, by God's grace, in Christ I share in a reign that never ends.

Beer & Coffee

(Before reading this post, it might be helpful to keep this disclaimer in mind)

If someone were to come to you and say, "Every night I have two beers before I go to sleep, because I really have a hard time sleeping and the beers help me," how would you respond to that?

My guess is that for many readers of this blog, we'd regard this to be dangerous, unwise and potentially (or definitely) sinful. For those who tend to think that way, I'd pose this follow-up question:

If it's not ok to have a couple of beers to help you get to sleep, then why is it ok to have a couple of cups of coffee every morning in order to help you get going?

Please understand: I'm not advocating alcohol use or condemning coffee use, just trying to think through some things.

And I'd love your help in thinking it through; leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Idols of the Heart and Vanity Fair

That does it for the guest posts, so I scheduled a post to go up today with this article by David Powlison called Idols of the Heart and Vanity Fair. It looks lengthy, so it should keep you busy until my blogcation is over on Thursday.

I've not read it yet myself, but Justin Taylor says it's well worth your time to read, to ponder, and to implement. And I've come to trust his discernment, so give it a read if you have some time.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


A guest post by Matt Hartel:

Catherine spent the day with some friends at a baby shower, leaving me to take the role of mommy for a day. This is what much of our day sounded like:

"Eat your dinner, Rachel.. Just try your green beans..."
"Abby, stay close to Daddy. Don't run away Abby!"
"Rachel, don't fight with your sister. Be kind to your sister."
"Abby, hold still! Let Daddy get your diaper on."

I spent most of my day - not teaching the girls something new - but reminding them of what they already knew to be true. In many ways, they know the truth and continually need to be reminded to obey it, sometimes with a little discipline behind the reminder, much like the law presented throughout scripture.

I'm thankful for the reminders of scripture. Though I know many things in my mind about obedience to Christ, I find my heart constantly wanders away. More than ever, I realize that the laws that expose my sinfulness are not something I can fulfill on my own, no matter how hard I try. Ezekiel 36:26 reminds me of the promise that was fulfilled in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
"And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."

I thank God for doing (and continuing to do) this to my own heart. I pray for the faith to trust in this work to my own children, should He please to do so. Knowing that He ultimately works the heart transplant - and not me - is a reminder I need every day.