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.

11 November 2018

Sunday Morning Praise

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

Equipping Eve: Not Seen, But Heard

Remember “Doubting Thomas,” who insisted on seeing the resurrected Christ before believing that He was alive? When Jesus appeared to Thomas, He said to him, “Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” We love Christ even though we haven’t seen Him, but we can still know what He looks like by studying His marvelous attributes as found in the Bible. Join Erin for an all-too-quick glimpse at who our Savior really is.

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

09 November 2018

This 'n' That

I went to the store last night to get cough drops. Did you know that some cough drops require you to be 18 years old to purchase them? I guess they don't want anybody going overboard on menthol. Anyway, on my way to the register, I spotted a display with new toys for Christmas. Consider this your friendly warning that Yellies are a thing.

What are Yellies? As near as I can tell, it's a plush, spider-like toy that is voice- and sound-activated. The tagline on the display was, "The louder you yell, the faster they go!" So they encourage your children to yell needlessly...and loudly. I realize that nobody asked me, but it's my blog and I'll say what I want: this might possibly be the dumbest toy I've ever seen. Any parent who purchases one of these for their child(ren) deserves every moment of headache that results from the constant yelling.

It seems to me that yelling is a much more common occurrence now than it was in years past. When I was a child, we didn't scream and holler when we played. Okay, maybe occasionally, but usually due to particular circumstances. Nowadays, if children are playing, they're yelling. Why? Why all the noise? You can't walk through a store without hearing a child scream, not because they are injured, but because they didn't get something they wanted. What astonishes me is the way most parents just ignore it and let the child continue making a scene. It's almost as if they don't hear it. Perhaps they're just immune to it since their children are screaming at home, too. Either that or they've gone deaf from all the clamor.

So as not to seem that I'm simply venting an opinion about children screaming unnecessarily, here's my point: all that noise simply creates and contributes to chaos. Our world is growing increasingly chaotic, so why would we encourage our children to participate in this by purchasing a toy that promotes needless yelling? It doesn't make sense, just like so many other things in the world today. Our God is not a God of chaos, He is a God of order. As His children, we should seek to emulate Him, and that includes the way we raise our children.

Okay, before you run out and purchase your own Yellie, pause for a few quiet moments to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

02 November 2018

This 'n' That

This seemed like the quintessential "November"
Wow, can you believe it's November already? November means lots of things: more fall colors and increasingly bare trees, increased stress levels as the holidays approach, more sickness, more layers, and, for those of us whose football team isn't having the best season, increased anxiety about the post-season.

Did you notice a theme in that list? Looks like lots of "increase"! Just writing that list made me think of a familiar Bible verse:
He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30)
Pastor S. Lewis Johnson once said that these seven words were "extremely important to understanding the source of joy." Firstly, we must know, understand, and acknowledge Jesus' place: He must increase. Then we must necessarily know our place: we must decrease.

This is indeed an important call to pastors, for those who elevate themselves, whether blatantly or subtly, deny their flock the joy of seeing Christ. This verse is also a call to each and every Christian, though. Our truest joy is found when Christ is exalted and when He is first in our focus, is it not? I'll let Johnson sum this up:
There is a logic here because as he increases necessarily I decrease. For the more I am occupied with him, like the red oaks in the spring when the sap begins to rise in those red oaks, those dead leaves that have been hanging onto the tree all through winter finally begin to fall off. And the manifestations of the old life leave as the sap of the new life in Christ becomes predominant in the life of a Christian occupying with him. (Source)
Okay, with that, there doesn't seem to be a point in making you wait any longer for your week in review (kind of):

26 October 2018

This 'n' That

Is it just me, or do Christians talk about trials a lot? I mean, a lot. Don't misunderstand, I know that we all go through trials, sometimes very lengthy and draining trials (oh boy, do I know about this!), but this topic really seems to dominate a great many books, articles, and even sermons. What is that about?

It's true, God never promised us a rose garden, and Christians often seem to endure more than the unsaved (even David asked, "why do the wicked prosper?"), but why do we tend to dwell on this so much?
Bubbles make every bad day better.

From my perspective and experience, when we belabor the point about trials specifically, we do the exact opposite of what we're attempting to do. We say high and lofty things about the sovereignty of God, etc., but by focusing on the reality of trials ad nauseum, we ultimately end up looking at ourselves instead of Christ. When a sermon goes on and on and on and on about trials, we become absorbed in looking at our own situation rather than to the One we claim to serve.

That's the problem as I see it, but I think there's a very simple solution: look to Christ. And I don't mean ordering people to look to Him while you preach your sermon (or write your book) about trials. I mean, simply preach and teach Christ. Point people to the person of Christ by studying the Gospels. Focus on His nature and characteristics, rather than tossing Him in as a point of law while you lament your circumstances. When our main focus is Jesus, the trials don't disappear, but they begin to pale in light of the Savior we serve and what He has promised us.

But then, what do I know? Who am I to be telling the educated ones how to teach and write? All I know is, when a Christian is becoming spiritually, emotionally, and mentally exhausted from being beaten down by a constant inward focus on the "woe is me-ness" of trials as perpetuated by lauded teachers, they eventually realize they need to look elsewhere for relief. Thankfully, there is a healing balm found right there in the pages of Scripture, and in the One who is the Living Word.

Well, around here it is a gloomy and rainy day, which is perfect weather for brewing a cup of tea and relaxing with your week in review (kind of):