09 December 2018

Sunday Morning Advent Praise

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38)

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.” And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25)

What Child Is This?


Mary, Did You Know?

07 December 2018

This 'n' That

I really enjoy focusing on Advent. I've never understood why so many churches shun recognition of this season leading up to the celebration of the incarnation of our Lord. It seems, in their effort to not be like the mainline denominations, they've essentially ended up being Amish, forgoing frivolities such as decorations, which are benign in and of themselves, and practices that could actually prove spiritually profitable, such as Advent. Still, to each his own, I suppose.

In that spirit, I came across this lovely post about Advent this week. I'm looking forward to reading each subsequent post on their respective Sundays. It reminds us that even things such as an Advent wreath are used to point to Christ (in other words, just because you find this practice among mainline denominations, doesn't mean it's bad). Thus, if our Advent teachings are saturated in Scripture, pointing to the Light of the World, they can indeed be helpful tools for children and adults alike.

In fact, I think it's essential for parents to use this season to focus their children's attention on Christ, though we must be mindful of the tools we use to do this. I'm in awe of my own mother, who over the years has tirelessly developed intricate and involved Advent teachings for her grandsons. I trust these projects will be treasured for many years to come and they are significant, not only because they were created with a grandmother's love, but because Jesus is at the center of every day's teaching.

Parents, I hope that you embrace this season and all of its possibilities for teaching and instruction. How wonderful it would be to see a generation of children grow to love Christmas for Who it's truly about, Christ, and to actually display that love in their lives, rather than merely professing it with their lips.

Okay, that's enough rambling for today. Only 17 days until Christmas, so you better finish up your shopping, then don some fuzzy slippers and sit back to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

02 December 2018

Sunday Morning Advent Praise

The Lord God said, "And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel." (Genesis 3:15)

The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes,
And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. (Genesis 49:10)

A star shall come forth from Jacob,
A scepter shall rise from Israel. (Numbers 24:17b)

Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. (Isaiah 11:1)

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus


Moses said, ‘THE LORD GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says to you. And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.’ For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.” (Acts 3:22-26)

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

30 November 2018

This 'n' That

I love Christmas markets!
I can't believe November is almost over! I enjoy the Advent season, and look forward to it every year, so I'm happy to welcome December. Unfortunately, though, it does mean that not-so-merry task of lugging the Christmas decorations up from the basement. Nothing says 'Happy Holidays' like trying not to damage the walls when you carry up the Christmas tree!

Last night I watched a special documenting Christmas traditions in Europe. It was really interesting to see how different countries celebrate, and even to see the difference between Christmas celebrations in the cities versus in the common countryside. Suffice it to say that I find our American traditions to be lame and lacking. That's why it's so special to be aware of the true meaning of Christmas. When it's about Christ and when that's your focus, the rest of it is just a little added flavor!

While you wait just one more day to bust into your chocolate Advent calendar, why not distract yourself with your week in review (kind of):

24 November 2018

Equipping Eve: What Does Total Depravity Mean for the Christian?


Most reformed Christians have said, thought, or written something to the effect of, “Oh, I am a wretched, wicked worm…” This is because Scripture teaches the total depravity of man before he is saved. In Christ, however, we have been made a new creation, so what does total depravity mean for the Christian?

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

Additional Resources:
Total Depravity: Misapplied (Things Above Us)
What Is Total Depravity and Is It Biblical? (CARM)

23 November 2018

This 'n' That

Well, are you all done with your Black Friday shopping? I mean, it started last night, didn't it? Everyone should be overjoyed with all the deals they found! Or not...

I don't do Black Friday, and I suspect most of my readers don't either, unless you're shopping online. Strangely enough, I think I actually have most of my Christmas shopping done already and, even if I didn't, no present would be worth this! Black Friday brings out mankind's total depravity, and I'd prefer to stay far, far away from it.

For my US readers, I hope you all enjoyed a happy Thanksgiving yesterday, and can continue to relish a peaceful long weekend with your families. For my non-US readers, I hope you can still sneak a piece of pumpkin pie this weekend, holiday or not!

Well, it's back to normal on Monday, but before that happens, let's take a few moments to enjoy the week in review (kind of):

16 November 2018

This 'n' That

Last night, I watched my Green Bay Packers lose against the Seattle Seahawks. Then, about 30 minutes later, I lost my power. And not just with a quick flicker of the lights. No, there were three (I think) sky-illuminating booms that caused the lights to flicker, flash, and die. I never did figure out the reason or source of those flashes and booms. No, it wasn't lightning.

The night before and all yesterday morning, the clouds that have lingered all week finally dropped lots of ice on us. That was followed by rain, and then a really lovely snowfall (snow!). There wasn't much accumulation, but it was enough to help justify the fact that I'm already listening to Christmas music. As it turns out, earlier in the day, many people in the area had lost power due to the ice. We had been fortunate. Until, apparently, late at night. After the power went poof I checked the outage map on the power company's website. Latest restoration: 11:59 pm on 17 November. Excuse me? I knew that they were calling for people to go without power into the weekend, but that was those people. This was affecting me.

November 17, that's Saturday. This was Thursday night. I immediately thought of all the problems this would cause: my cell phone has been struggling to live for months and can't hold a charge, so, um, no contact with the outside world; no shower until Saturday, a reality that nobody should have to experience; no way to cook anything; no way to work on Friday (okay, maybe that one wasn't so bad); and oh yeah, no heat with freezing temperatures. An adventure for sure.

I fell asleep some time after midnight and awoke again when, blessedly, the power came back on. I have no idea how or why our power was restored so quickly, but I am very thankful. (I'm also a little paranoid, waiting for it turn off again!) When things like this happen, I first consider how spoiled we are here in America, and then I consider how much exponentially worse conditions will be during the time of the Tribulation. I considered the same thing many times over the past week, seeing so many horrifying videos of the fires in California. Those are nothing compared to the destruction described in the book of Revelation. It all makes me very thankful for God's promise to collect His Church before that time (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17), and makes me all the more zealous to proclaim the saving gospel of forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

Well, if I hadn't had power this morning, you wouldn't be reading this right now, so settle in an enjoy your week in review (kind of):

13 November 2018

Sibling Status Means Something

For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. (1 Corinthians 12:14-18)
The image of the body of Christ as a body is essential to our understanding of the Church. Some members function as hands, others are feet, still others work behind the scenes, yet are nonetheless vital organs to this precious organism. Yet, the body of Christ is not just a body. It is more than just a collection of saints working together to glorify God and Christ. It is a family. We are brothers and sisters with one another, and with Christ.