31 December 2013

For the Sake of Our Salvation

John Calvin
The gospel illumines us by bearing witness to the Lord Jesus Christ who is the lively image of God his Father. God in himself is invisible, but for the sake of our salvation he presents himself to us in the face of his only-begotten Son. In him, in fullest measure, is all our righteousness, wisdom, power and holiness. How can we discover God's light unless he brings it close to us? We have no wings to fly above the sky. Christ, however, who is the Father's image, is also the Father's brightness, and we are led by him to salvation. In the same way all our strength is said to reside in God. Without him we can do nothing; with him we can do everything. How, then do we become strong? Only as Christ imparts strength to us. It is the same with righteousness and holiness. We are defiled and corrupt, abhorrent to God and utterly worldly, until our Lord Jesus Christ becomes our sanctification and purges our stains by his blood. Christ illumines us when, through the testimony of the gospel, we know him as he is, and as the Father has given him to us.

– John Calvin, "The Light of the Nations," in Songs of the Nativity: Selected Sermons on Luke 1 & 2, trans. Robert White, (The Banner of Truth Trust: 2008), 174.

Further Reading
Name of All Names
Strangled and Burned: Remembering William Tyndale
A Pastor Responds to Desiring God on the Issue of Same-Sex Attraction

27 December 2013

This 'n' That

photo credit: fensterbme via photopin cc
Well, it's confession time: it is noon on Friday and I just now realized that it's Friday. Which means that I just now realized that I needed to post your weekly This 'n' That. The good news for me is that (hopefully) you all are still recovering from the holiday, cleaning up, running to the store to replenish all the food your family ate over the past few days, and standing in line to return those wool socks that grandma sent you. If this is true, then perhaps you won't notice that this week's compilation is a bit thin.

I hope you all had a peaceful and worship-filled Christmas. I was blessed to spend the days leading up to Christmas with family, and to spend Christmas evening with dear friends. In spite of a difficult year, God has been good and gracious to open my eyes to the countless blessings around me, and He has been faithful to show Himself to be sovereign and generous. We truly serve an awesome God, do we not? I love Him, don't you?

And so, though this week's list of links is short, perhaps you can spend the extra time reflecting back over the past year and thanking God, not only for the joyful moments, but for the trials and the sanctification that your good Father allowed in your life. With that, I hope you enjoy your final 2013 week in review (kind of):

25 December 2013

Come, Worship the King

photo credit: Wonderlane via photopin cc
Today we remember and celebrate, not simply the birth of a child, but the birth of the King, the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May we bow before the One who came to save His people from their sins (Matt 1:21). May we worship the One who humbled Himself in obedience to God that men may be saved. May we live to serve the One who gave His life for sinners, just as He Himself came to serve (Matt 20:28).
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:5–11)
And as we praise Him for His first coming and for His magnificent work of salvation and promises of eternal life for those who repent and believe upon Him, may we not neglect to anticipate His second advent, when the Lord who once came humbly as a babe will return in great glory and judgment.
And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." (Rev 19:11–16)
Merry Christmas to you all.

Further Reading
The King Is Born
For Unto Us a Child Is Born
Come, Let Us Adore Him

24 December 2013

For Unto Us a Child Is Born

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.
(Isaiah 9:6–7)

22 December 2013

Sunday Morning Christmas Praise

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
(Luke 2:8–14)

20 December 2013

This 'n' That

photo: Chiot's Run via photopin cc
I am no fan of yard work. This includes raking leaves. Especially raking leaves. I'm convinced it is one of the most futile tasks a man (or woman) may undertake. But, *somehow* my neighbor's yard ended up leaf-free and my yard ended up, well, leaf-full, so I decided to see what I could accomplish in a couple of hours yesterday afternoon.

After what seemed like about five hours (but really only was 90 minutes or so), I found myself getting fed up. Here I was hunched over like Quasimoto trying, seemingly in vain, to rid my backyard of these leaves. It felt like the more I raked, the more they multiplied. The occasional gusts of wind weren't helping either. All I could think about was finishing what I started so that I could go inside and enjoy a hot cup of tea.

photo: HerpShots via photopin cc 
Then suddenly, I heard unusual rustling behind me and I turned to see a doe and two fawns strolling through the yard. They paused and looked at me. 'Mommy' took a good, long look to ensure that I'd bring no harm to her babies. After a minute or so, she and one of the fawns took off across the yards, but the other remained. It looked at me and began walking right toward me, hesitatingly of course, but as though it knew that I wasn't holding anything more dangerous than a cheap rake from Big Lots. Eventually it scampered off to find its mother, but all I could do was stand and smile and whisper a thanks to God. His gracious glimpse into His magnificent creation on a uniquely warm December afternoon gave me just the boost I needed to finish my tedious task.

I wish I'd had my phone handy so that I could have snapped a photo to share with you. At the same time, it was one of those moments that would have been ruined had I been fiddling with a smart phone, and so I am thankful for the simplicity of it. My brief encounter with God's gentle creatures not only brought praise to my lips for the mere occasion, but also for bringing to remembrance the promises of His provision. If God cares for these simple animals, will He not care for His own children? Indeed He will and He does. We serve such a marvelous God! I love Him, don't you?

So, if I've inspired you to engage in some kind of yard work, please do (weather permitting), but not before you first enjoy your week in review (kind of):

19 December 2013

Ring, Christmas Bells (Repost)

Many no doubt are familiar with the Christmas tune known as the "Carol of the Bells." Upbeat and light, it seems to exude the anticipation of the season. The song has an interesting history, though, of which most likely are unaware.

Also known as the Ukranian Bell Carol, this song originally was written in 1916 by Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych and was entitled "Shchedryk." The song in its original form had nothing to do with Christmas. Written to celebrate the coming new year (which at that time in the Ukraine was celebrated on 13 January), the original lyrics tell "a story of a swallow flying into a household to sing of wealth that will come with the following spring."1 In the 1930s, Peter Wilhousky altered the lyrics to what commonly is heard today when "Carol of the Bells" is sung during the Christmas season. In 1947, Minna Louise Hohman composed more "nativity-based" lyrics, and that version of the song (which happens to be this writer's favorite) is commonly known as "Ring, Christmas Bells."2 Enjoy.

18 December 2013

Ladies, Pull Up a Chair and Join Us at Naomi's Table: Radio Interview

I recently had the privilege of speaking with Amy Spreeman, co-host of the wonderful women's radio ministry, Naomi's Table. Our conversation will air live today, December 18, between 1:00–2:00 p.m. EST, or you can tune in to the podcast at your convenience once it is posted.

So, ladies, please pull up a chair and join us at the table!

Listen to the live show or access the podcast here.

17 December 2013

NoCo90: The Arrival

If you have an idea or suggestion for an episode of NoCo90, contact No Compromise Radio at their  website, on their Facebook page, or via email at: info [@] nocompromiseradio.com.

Additional Resources
NoCo90: Does Faith Save? Jesus Saves
NoCo90: The Misuse of Matthew 18
NoCo90: I Wasn't Led

Doomsday Prophet Harold Camping Dies at 92

Harold Camping, the controversial radio preacher best known for his false and failing prophecies regarding the rapture of the church and the end of the world, died Sunday at his home according to a statement released by Family Radio. He was 92.

The official statement reads in part:
Yesterday, Sunday, December 15th, at around 5:30 p.m., Harold Camping passed on to glory and is now rejoicing with his beloved Savior! 
On Saturday, November 30th, Mr. Camping sustained a fall in his home, and he was not able to recover from his injuries. He passed away peacefully in his home, with his family at his side.

15 December 2013

Sunday Morning Christmas Praise

But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.
(Micah 5:2)

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1–7)

Stille Nacht (Silent Night)

13 December 2013

This 'n' That

I'm available for ghostwriting. I know how to cite sources.
Photo: Wikimedia
Everybody knows that a megachurch's best bet for making a scandalous controversy disappear is to address the issue in a brief, vague statement that is posted in an obscure corner of your church website. And for those who did not know this, well, you learn new techniques everyday. This statement should blame all 'citation errors' on the megapastor's ghostwriter and/or the 'research assistant'. This absolves the megapastor of all responsibility for said errors, even though he has placed his name on the publication as the sole author.

Here is what all of this comes down to, though. No, Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll have not handled this situation as many think they should have. But let me ask you this: Does this surprise you? If it does, I can only assume that you are completely unfamiliar with the force that is Mark Driscoll. If it does not surprise you, then why are so many Christians in such a tizzy? Is it really helpful for one to get all riled up over such a thing? I would argue that it is not.

Instead, may we as Christians keep our focus upon Jesus Christ. May we call out error and sin with firmness and integrity. May we not let our proclamation of the gospel be marred by a sinful heart. May we not give the appearance that such a small thing as the latest Driscoll debacle has stolen the joy that is ours in Christ Jesus. And at this season above all seasons, let us not dwell upon men, but upon the grace, mercy and goodness of our Lord, who humbled Himself to leave Heaven and come to this earth to live among men and to die for those who are His. Let us fix our eyes on this God-man, Jesus.

With that, even though it's a busy time of year, I hope you'll find a few minutes to grab a Christmas cookie and try not to get crumbs in your keyboard while you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

12 December 2013

11 December 2013

Name of All Names

"There are many names for Jesus. The Bible is full of them. He is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega, the Ancient of Days. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the Anointed One, the Messiah. He is the Prophet and the Priest. He is the Savior, the Only Wise God our Savior. He is our Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. He is the Almighty. He is the Lord. He is the Door of the Sheep, the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd, the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. He is the Lamb, the Lamb Without Spot or Blemish, the Lamb Slain from before the Foundation of the World. He is the Logos, the Light, the Light of the World, the Light of Life, the Tree of Life, the Word of Life, the Bread that Came down from Heaven, the Spring which, if a person drink of it, he will never thirst again. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the Resurrection, the Resurrection and the Life. He is our Rock, our Bridegroom, our Beloved. He is our Redeemer. He is the One who is Altogether Lovely. He is the Head over all things which is his body, the church. He is God with Us, Immanuel.

But above all, he is Jesus. Jesus.

We love him for that name, because his name means 'Jehovah is Salvation' and he came to save his people from their sins."

– James Montgomery Boice, The King Has Come: The Real Message of Christmas, (Christian Focus Publications: 2008), 61–62.

Further Reading
Give Thanks with All of Your Heart
Scared Millennials, 'Churchy' Phrases and Authority
The Lord Reigns

08 December 2013

Sunday Morning Christmas Praise

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.” (Matthew 1:18–21)

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

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 1:22–25)

What Child Is This?

Beth Moore's 'Twelfth Month Redemption'

Popular SBC Bible teacher Beth Moore offers a lesson in how one ought not interpret Scripture. The following is an online video devotional that Moore posted on her blog on 5 December 2013:

There is a lot in this 17-minute video that could be criticized. For one, it seems that Moore still is under the impression that God is speaking to her personally, perhaps in a similar way in which He allegedly taught her about 'Sabbath moments' and playdates at the zoo. What may be more concerning, however, is the approach to Scripture that Moore takes in this teaching.

She tells her viewers that she used a search on Bible Gateway to find every instance of the 'twelfth month' in Scripture. Then she looked up these passages and found that many of them described some type of reversal in circumstances. This, she concludes, must mean that God offers reversals of fortune in the twelfth month of the year. Thus, everyone who has had a difficult and trying 2013 needs to pray that God would redeem the year in this final month of December. Moore's attempt to universally apply a principle that God redeems an entire year in the twelfth month is pure manipulation of the biblical text that could lead many of her devoted followers into despair if they find that such a reversal does not happen to them.

In this brief video, Moore takes her followers to two passages from 2 Kings and from Esther. An examination is only needed of the 2 Kings passage to demonstrate Moore's error:
Now it came about in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, that Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he became king, released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison; and he spoke kindly to him and set his throne above the throne of the kings who were with him in Babylon. Jehoiachin changed his prison clothes and had his meals in the king's presence regularly all the days of his life; and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, a portion for each day, all the days of his life. (2 Kings 25:27–30)
To begin, Moore brushes aside the fact that, for the Jews in Israel at this time the 'twelfth month' actually was March, not December. Already she has disregarded the basic grammatical-historical approach to Scripture interpretation. She ignores the obvious in her teaching: that these verses describe a historical event. This passage is descriptive and not prescriptive. But what is even more grievous is that she uses these verses to turn her followers' focus onto themselves. Have you had a difficult year? Pray that God will redeem this year for you. Why is this so disconcerting (aside from the obvious narcissism involved)? Beth Moore misses an opportunity to point her viewers to Christ.

06 December 2013

This 'n' That

photo: Steven | Alan via photopin cc
I originally intended to share with you an update on Escalator Church, but have decided to wait and reflect on something a bit more serious and thus, more sincerely joyful. I was reading Psalm 93 this morning and could not help but pause and thank the Lord for His majesty and His might. Friends, our Lord is king and sovereign over all! Do we stop often enough to attempt to comprehend that truth? May these words cause you to praise and exalt Him this day, for nothing is more powerful than the Lord:
The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty;
The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength;
Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.
Your throne is established from of old;
You are from everlasting.
The floods have lifted up, O LORD,
The floods have lifted up their voice,
The floods lift up their pounding waves.
More than the sounds of many waters,
Than the mighty breakers of the sea,
The LORD on high is mighty.
Your testimonies are fully confirmed;
Holiness befits Your house,
O LORD, forevermore.
(Psalm 93:1–5)
After that, there really is nothing more I can say! So take a seat and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

03 December 2013

Let the Word of Christ Dwell in You Richly

photo credit: Savio Sebastian via photopin cc
The Word of God is a spring of living water, a deep mine of costly treasure, a table with all sorts of food, and a garden with a variety of pleasant fruits. It contains the church's charter with all of her privileges. It has precepts for the Christian's reformation, and precious promises for her consolation. If the saint is afflicted, it can hold his head above water and keep him from sinking when the billows go over his soul. There are cordials rich enough to revive the most fainting spirit. If the saint is assaulted, the Word is his armor. If the soul is unholy, the Word can sanctify it. This water can wash out all the spots and stains. If the soul is an heir of hell, this Word can save it. This Word is deposited as a special treasure into the hands of the children of men, that they might obey God's will and know the Just One.

02 December 2013

NoCo90: Expect a Miracle?

If you have an idea or suggestion for an episode of NoCo90, contact No Compromise Radio at their website, on their Facebook page, or via email at: info [@] nocompromiseradio.com.

Additional Resources
NoCo90: Christ's Federal Headship
NoCo90: Donate Buttons and Christian Begging
NoCo90: No Arminians in Heaven

01 December 2013

Sunday Morning Praise

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And 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 call his name Jesus. 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.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

(Luke 1:26-38)

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Infant Holy, Infant Lowly