29 December 2017

This 'n' That

I hope everyone had a joyful Christmas celebration this week! If your holiday didn't turn out to be filled with perfect Hallmark movie moments, well, that's okay, as long as Christ was celebrated.

Now we're on to a new year. 2018 looms before us, promising a year of laughter, smiles, friendships, memories, tears, trials, and disappointments. Yes, no matter who you are or what your circumstances, I can guarantee that you will experience all of these in some measure over the course of the next 12 months.

So, as you prepare for the onslaught of all that this new year will bring, remember the truths you know from Scripture. Truths such as, every good and perfect gift comes from above (James 1:17; cf. Luke 11:13), that discipline from God is designed to grow and strengthen us, and is exercised because we belong to Him (Hebrews 12:7-11), that trials test our faith for our own sakes, with the result of praise and glory to Christ (1 Peter 1:6-9), and that Jesus Christ is our wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30), our peace (Ephesians 2:14), our friend (John 15:13-16), and our Shepherd (John 10:11), and, if we belong to Him, we shall never be plucked from His hand (John 10:27-29).

We rest in these and the many other sturdy truths of Scripture every day, but as we approach a new year it is particularly strengthening to meditate on these and the character and nature of our God. Begin today. Tomorrow, repeat. Then repeat again the next day, and the next day, and the next...you get the idea. Something else you should repeat, albeit weekly rather than daily, is the practice of pouring yourself a cup of coffee or tea (or soda or water or whatever) and taking a few minutes to relax and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

25 December 2017

Good News for All Time and All People


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 2:9-14)

The angels announce that with the coming of God's Son we may look forward to God's supreme and most costly gift. Their news was not just for one day or for a tiny handful of people: it was intended for all time, to the very end of the world; and it was meant for all of us, from the greatest to the least....

Since the angel invites us to rejoice at the coming of Christ, not inane ordinary way but with unbounded delight, let us make the most of the message. What can we say about this joy? If we involve ourselves in worldly pleasures and are wholly absorbed by our own wants, we will never rejoice in the grace of Christ. Let the shepherds instead be our example. Their earthly lot did not change, despite the fact that they had heard the angel's word and had witnessed the birth of God's Son. They went back to their flocks exactly as before; they continued to live as poor men, guarding their herds. In terms of the flesh and of this passing world they gained nothing from the privilege which we read about here. For all that, they were full of joy. Theirs is a lead we should follow. For although the gospel might earn us neither wealth nor fame, and although it might not bring us gratification or amusement, nevertheless we should be glad that we are the objects of God's favor. That is where true blessing and happiness lie, and where real rest is found....

—John Calvin, "Glory to God on High"

Merry Christmas to you!

Christmas Day Praise

Angels From the Realms of Glory


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 2:1-14)

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing


When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them. (Luke 2:15-18)

O Come, All Ye Faithful

24 December 2017

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.” 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)

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)





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. (Isaiah 9:6)

22 December 2017

This 'n' That

Well, Christmas is finally almost here. One week from today, the wrapping paper will all be smushed in the bottom of the waste basket, the pie plates will have been licked clean, washed, and put away, and the Christmas tree will stand as a mocking reminder that, lovely as it is, it must be taken down, and all of the decorations must once again be packed away for another year. In just a few short days, the Christmas carols that filled our homes and cars will cease ringing, beginning their 11-month silence.
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)
The incarnation of Christ happened in time, but, unlike our Christmas decorations and fanciful "Christmas spirit," its reality and effects are not limited to one month a year. Christ, the second Adam, came to earth so that He could live the life of obedience that we cannot and die the death that we deserve. Christ's incarnation is vital to the gospel. Without it, we could not be saved.
Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:17)
Fleeting as it is, many of us love and enjoy the Christmas season, but how thankful we are that our Christ, the One whose birth we celebrate at this time of year, is not a fleeting Savior, but a faithful, immutable, eternal One.

Merry Christmas to you all as you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

21 December 2017

Christmas Sorrow Is Overcome by the Man of Sorrows

The memory plays in my mind with brilliant clarity. It's too vivid, really, and I'd much prefer the scene to be a bit more muddled, but I am powerless to change that.

December 21, 2002. Fifteen years ago. Sixteen Christmases ago. Has it been that long?

I was home from college for Christmas break. It was early afternoon and my mother had just stepped into my room to tell me that my grandfather had come out of his surgery just fine. He and my grandmother would be staying in Wisconsin for Christmas, due to the fact that Grandpa just had another stent placed. Thrilled to hear he was doing well, I turned up the volume on the Christmas music so it rang just a bit louder through my room. I readied myself to run some errands with my mother. It would be a good day. No school, Christmas was coming, and the air was cool and crisp. What could be better? Yes, it would be a Merry Christmas.

The phone rang, though I'm not sure I heard it above the crooning of Bing Crosby's voice. Mom entered again, her face very different than before. Grandpa was gone. The stent blew, there was no way to save him. The conversation I'd had with him the evening before would be the last time I would hear him laugh. In that moment, my world both stopped and spiraled out of control, all in one confusing sweep.

17 December 2017

Sunday Morning Christmas Praise

Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”

Joy to the World


And Mary said:
“My soul exalts the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
“For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
“For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.
“AND HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER GENERATION
TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM.
“He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
“He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.
“HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS;
And sent away the rich empty-handed.
“He has given help to Israel His servant,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his descendants forever.”

And Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home.

(Luke 1:39-56)

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

16 December 2017

Equipping Eve: A Christmas Carol


Scrooge, Marley, Tiny Tim…no, not that Christmas Carol! As Christmas Day rapidly approaches, let’s pause to consider some of the hymns and songs that we sing each year in celebration of Christ’s birth.

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: The War on Christmas
Equipping Eve: God With Us
Equipping Eve: The Wisdom and Witness of Anna

15 December 2017

This 'n' That

I've already admitted that I watch Hallmark movies at Christmas. With watching television comes the inevitable...commercials. There are some Christmas commercials that I actually like, because they've been around for years and remind me of a simpler time. Like the commercial for Hershey Kisses where the red, green, and silver candies play "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" — that thing has been around for ages, since 1989 apparently! Another that has always taken me back is one I've unfortunately not seen this year. It's for Campbell's soup, and depicts a snowman waddling indoors, sitting down to a bowl of hot soup, and melting away to reveal a little boy. Even though this is selling soup, for some reason it always reminded me sipping hot chocolate after playing outside in the snow.

There is one type of Christmas commercial that continually baffles me, however. It is the car commercial. A man awakes on Christmas morning to find his dream Mercedes sitting in the driveway donned with a big, red bow. The snow is falling gently all around, and he grins with glee, all his grown-up Christmas wishes having come true.

Two things: First, not to sound like a feminist, but why don't women ever get cars for Christmas in these commercials? I mean, if someone wants to send me a Mercedes, I promise I'll flash a super-big grin, even if it's not snowing, and even though I don't need or want a new car, much less such a luxury one.

Second...really? Who are these people who are gifting luxury cars to loved ones at Christmas? Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be to buy your wife some piddly sweater, or even a necklace, and then find a $50,000 car sitting in your driveway from her? Awkward.

I know, I know. These commercials aren't trying to convince us to give someone a car for Christmas, rather, they are trying to get us to buy a car for ourselves because the vehicle is being offered at such a great price. Well, I won't argue that this may be the time of year to make a big purchase if it's necessary since the sales are prevalent, but I still find the whole notion of these commercials mildly hilarious. They also are blatant examples of the commercialism and worldliness of Christmas in our society. It's all about the material gifts, isn't it? Thankfully, we Christians know that there has been a priceless gift given to mankind in the Lord Jesus Christ. A fancy car will eventually break down, but our Lord is the sovereign King forever.

Now that all of that has been said, I'll be sure to keep you posted if I find a new car in my driveway on Christmas. If a few of you want to go in on that gift together, I totally understand and would support that decision.

Well, when I drafted this on Thursday, my news feed was filled with stories about Roy Moore. Don't worry, I won't subject you to any of that. Instead, I hope you'll enjoy these other links I've uncovered as you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

13 December 2017

The Cure for 'Acceptable' Sins


Over the past few weeks, we've looked at a host of so-called "acceptable," or even "respectable" sins, and we've seen that, much to our fallen nature's dismay, there is nothing acceptable about them at all. All sin is sin against a pure and holy God. All sin separates us from our God. All sin is an abomination before God.

10 December 2017

Sunday Morning Christmas 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)

What Child Is This?


Lo, How a Rose Ere Blooming

08 December 2017

This 'n' That

About a month ago, I spent some time in an airport. A lot of time. A lot of unplanned time.

Delays. They happen. I'm thankful I don't travel often, and I'm thankful that, so far, I've not had to endure a delay that was too much of an inconvenience. On this occasion, I was traveling home from a business trip. I had deliberately rescheduled my flight so that I would arrive home in the evening, be able to get a good night's sleep, and put in a full, busy day the next day.

Then life happened.

I arrived at the airport, made it through security, and found my gate. I settled in to wait a bit longer than planned, because the aforementioned activities had gone more smoothly than they sometimes do. After awhile, my plane arrived, and the passengers deplaned. Everything seemed perfectly normal. But then, after another little while, I realized that we were supposed to be boarding...and we weren't. Okay, it is a major airline, after all, a slight delay is common.

Then came the announcement: the plane had been struck by lightning on its way in. Obviously, everyone who had been on board was fine, but the plane needed to be checked for damage before lift off.

Great.

Long story short, we never did get on that plane. After a couple of hours, they decided to fly in another plane. Unfortunately, that plane left late and arrived over an hour later than it should have. So, at the end of it all, while I should have landed at approximately 7:20 at my destination, I didn't actually board a plane until about 10:30 pm. Needless to say, I climbed into bed around 2:00 am and, well, that productive work day I had planned for the next day was not so productive after all.

It really is fine, though, because I am thankful no one was hurt in the initial incident, and I'm thankful that I and my fellow passengers didn't have to board a plane with potential damage.

This whole backstory is leading to this, though. As I sat for what seemed like endless hours in this tiny airport, eventually, the nighttime cleaning crew arrived. You see, in a small airport, everything—everything—closes down by 8:00. Even the restaurants. Yeah...

So as I sat there, tired, a bit frustrated, and desperately wanting to be home, I watched this cleaning crew essentially begin their work day.

And they worked. Hard. They were detailed, sweeping and dusting under and around the chairs, and they clearly had a system so that they could work together to get the job done. What was also striking was that they were friendly. Here they were, doing a job that most of us would consider to be an unpleasant one, and they managed to be affable and amiable to those of us who were waiting on our hopelessly long-delayed flight. As someone who tends to appear standoffish when I am focused on a task, I found this convicting. As someone who was tired and a bit grumpy, I found their demeanor to be uplifting. No, I had no profound conversation with any of them, but simply watching their diligence and determined approach to their work made me admire them. May we all be so dedicated, even when performing the most mundane or menial tasks.

As Christians, we more than all others have reason to perform our work with resolve and thankfulness. We are, after all, to do all things as unto the Lord. He has placed us in our circumstances, whether at work, school, or home, and so we perform our daily duties with diligence and zeal to please Him. He is a good, gracious, and merciful, no matter our circumstances. May we always keep that truth at the forefront of our minds.

Well, speaking of cleaning, I have a feeling there's something around here that needs to be cleaned. While I go check that out, why don't you take a few moments to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

06 December 2017

Acceptable Sins Not Excepted: Pride


We are proud of our children, proud of our friends, proud of our homes, proud of...ourselves. We are proud of our accomplishments, proud of how we have averted disaster, proud of our successes. We are a proud people. Yet even as Christians we often forget that every good and perfect gift is from above (James 1:17). What has come to us, whether joyful or trying, has been handpicked and hand designed by God.

03 December 2017

Sunday Morning Christmas 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

02 December 2017

Equipping Eve: God With Us


The Christmas season is upon us! Let’s turn our focus away from the busyness and distractions the world brings us this time of year and instead look upon the One Whom we celebrate this season: Immanuel, God With Us.

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

Resources
The King's Supernatural Birth (S. Lewis Johnson)
God's Gift of Christmas (John MacArthur)

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: Simeon's Psalm
Equipping Eve: The Wisdom and Witness of Anna
Equipping Eve: The Incarnation

01 December 2017

This 'n' That

Look! A perfectly posed Christmas devotional picture!
I'm sure this happened completely by accident.
Well, December is finally here! I know some of you are celebrating by busting out your Christmas sweaters. Others of you are moaning because the days are passing by quickly and there's simply too much that still needs to be done. Others of us are too busy with non-season specific duties (i.e., work) to even think about the holidays, even though we'd love nothing more than to (for once) actually enjoy the season.

One thing that I find helpful during the month of December is to find some sort of advent study that will keep me focused on Christ and His incarnation. I know—some people hear "Advent" and assume a legalistic, ritualistic motive, but that is hardly the case. Unless, of course, you consider study of the person and work of Jesus Christ to be empty and merely ceremonial, but I doubt that is true of any of my wonderful readers!

Your Advent study does not have to be anything formal. You might simply determine to read and study through specific, relevant texts from the Old and New Testament. Or perhaps you might study through a book or two on the topic of Christ and Christmas. John MacArthur's small book, God's Gift of Christmas, is a good resource and a great gift idea. I recently downloaded The First Days of Jesus: The Story of the Incarnation, and am looking forward to reading that. James Boice's The Christ of Christmas and The King Has Come are also accessible resources. The ministry of Naomi's Table also offers an Advent project idea that parents may enjoy walking through with their children.

Whatever December has in store for you, I pray that you will, above all, keep your eyes, heart, and mind fixed firmly on the person of our great Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I know I say that often, but we live in a world that seeks to keep us too busy to meditate on the Word our Lord has given us and on our Savior who is revealed therein, and, without daily time in the Word and prayer, we will easily be swept away by those many distractions.

I hope that this post isn't a distraction for you. If it isn't, then I hope you enjoy the few minutes you'll spend enjoying your week in review (kind of):

29 November 2017

Acceptable Sins Not Excepted: Worldliness


Most Christians understand that worldliness is not something we are called to as children of the living God.
You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4)

…You shall be holy as I am holy. (1 Peter 1:15)
After all, we cannot be living a life of holiness if we are celebrating the sins of the world. This is why there is such a strong outcry from he church today on grievous social issues like abortion and homosexuality.

Yet, is this the extent of worldliness? Does it stop with these gross, immoral sins, or is there more to the concept?

24 November 2017

This 'n' That

Breakfast.
Well, I hope that all of my American readers enjoyed a restful and filling Thanksgiving yesterday. As for me, I started the day with pie (see picture to the left) and ended the day tired from eating too much pie. We also held to tradition here and put together a puzzle while enjoying Christmas music in the background. In other words, Thanksgiving was a success.

Since many of us are likely still recovering from our food comas, and will probably find ourselves in a similar state today after raiding the leftovers, we're going to keep it short, sweet, and simple today. Not surprisingly, the amount of newly-generated, read-worthy content was a bit lacking this week, but I hope you appreciate the few articles I've selected. So, in between your Black Friday shopping (does anybody actually go to the stores anymore?) and your second-day turkey and pie, I hope you take a few moments to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

23 November 2017

Thankful for Christ


Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting. (Psalm 118:1)

Today and everyday, I am thankful for many things. I am thankful for a warm house that is also truly a home. I am thankful for a church that is faithful to the exposition of God's Word, and for the family of brothers and sisters that I have found in that church. I am thankful for God's providence in leading me to that family of believers even though it is a distance away. I am thankful for my blood family, for the memories we have made and the memories that are still to come. I am thankful for a fluffy kitty who somehow loves me even when I take him to the vet. I am thankful for a job that I enjoy in spite of its ofttimes stressful moments. I am grateful to the Lord for the opportunities and platforms He has given me through this blog and Equipping Eve. The list goes on and on. I am abundantly, exceedingly, undeservedly blessed.

We all are, aren't we? This is because God is good and every good and perfect gift is from Him (James 1:17). His goodness is part of His nature. A simple search of Scripture for the phrases or words, "give thanks," or "thanksgiving," leads us to conclude the following cause and effect truth: The Lord is good, ergo, the believer must give Him thanks.

22 November 2017

Acceptable Sins Not Excepted: Selfishness


One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28–31)
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” For a group of fallen sinners, this is not an easy commandment to keep.

Selfishness is in our nature—our fallen nature, anyway. It was, after all, one of the primary sins at the root of that first sin in Genesis 3.
[I]t was by placing their own wills above God’s that Adam and Eve first brought sin into the world. Self-will has been at the heart of every subsequent sin.[1]
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, to be selfish is to be “concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself; seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others.”

Sounds rather unpleasant, doesn’t it?

18 November 2017

This 'n' That (One Day Late)

First of all, thank you for your patience and understanding why this week's post is a bit late. If you're on Twitter, you know the reason. If you're not on Twitter (or missed it), here you go. Now, let's get to the good stuff.

I love Hallmark movies, especially at Christmas. Yes, true confession, when it comes to those cheesy romantic comedies and dramas, I totally fit the stereotype. Watching these may not be the most productive use of one's time, but every now and then it's nice to spend a relaxed evening disconnected from the world while watching something that is lighthearted, clean, and not offensive.

What I find fascinating about these films is that the majority of them seem to take place in small, rural towns. It's clear that most of us have this idyllic picture of what a perfect, calm, quiet life might look like, and Hallmark has embraced that. (Although, having recently been in New England, I'm here to tell you that it doesn't all look like the quaint New England towns you see in the Hallmark movies). Of course, there is always a happy ending and, at least in the Christmas movies, there is plenty of hot chocolate and hot cider to go around. They portray what many of us might believe to be "the perfect Christmas."

Yet we all know that there is no picture-perfect Christmas that falls into our preconceived ideas. And we all know that, whether we live in the city, the suburbs, or on that seemingly quiet farm, life is hectic. It is chaotic and it pulls us in far too many directions. None of us will ever experience a Hallmark movie Christmas. And that's okay.

It is okay if we're too exhausted in the evening to build a gingerbread house and go caroling (does anyone go caroling anymore? We should!). It is okay if our house isn't decorated to grace the cover of Better Homes & Gardens. It is okay if our dinner doesn't look like Martha Stewart prepared it. It is okay if we, our family, and our Christmas are not perfect.

At the end of the day, none of these things—the cookies, the carols, the decorations, or the dinner—have eternal consequences. At the end of the day, these are the "nice to haves." So what are the "must haves?" Time with our family to enjoy one another and to focus on the true meaning of Christmas, the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Time with our church family to serve one another and to fellowship and edify one another. Most importantly, time with our Lord to grow closer to Him so that we may grow in His grace this season and all year.

We'd all love to experience a Hallmark Christmas, but don't be disappointed when yours doesn't turn out that way. Enjoy the entertainment, but embrace the reality that the Lord has gifted you.

Well, now that I'm done opining on that, I think I'll go grab some hot cider and a gingerbread cookie while I hum Christmas carols and place presents underneath my perfectly trimmed Christmas tree. In the meantime, why don't you sit back and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

15 November 2017

Acceptable Sins Not Excepted: Anger

You shall not murder. (Exodus 20:13)
Well, that’s easy enough. After all, it’s one thing to be angry, annoyed, or irritated by someone, but it would have to be a really depraved person who would actually murder another human being. You and I, in all of our sinfulness, just wouldn’t dream of doing that, would we? This commandment is a simple one for most Christians to keep.

Isn’t it?
You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. (Matthew 5:21-22)
Oh.

Well, that’s still in extreme cases. It’s not as if my frustration and shouting at the person who cut me off in traffic counts. That’s righteous anger, because it could have caused an accident. It’s the same scenario with that friend at church who gossiped about me. I’m angry at her because she sinned against me, and that is a righteous reason. I mean, Jesus got angry.

Let us address each of these points, albeit a bit out of order.

12 November 2017

Equipping Eve: Reformation Women


Luther, Calvin, Zwingli. Without these men and many others, there would not have been a Protestant Reformation. We owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude. But the Reformation was not only impacted by men. What about the women behind those men? What about those women who were wives or sisters of the Reformers and who influenced the movement, not just by being faithful to the calling of wife or mother, but by demonstrating faithfulness through the pen and through their bold, public courage in the face of persecution? In this episode, we will meet some of these sisters in the faith from whom we can learn so much.

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

Further Listening
Reformation Reversal, Part 1
Reformation Reversal, Part 2
How Healthy is the Women's Ministry in Your Church?

Sunday Morning Praise

All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name

10 November 2017

This 'n' That

Well, I think I've decided what I'm going to be for Halloween next year. Yes, I know it's still early, but I think I might need to get a head start on this costume.

I am going to dress up as a cherub.

Source
No, not the chubby baby Precious Moments kind of cherub. This kind:
As for their appearance, all four of them had the same likeness, as if one wheel were within another wheel. When they moved, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went; but they followed in the direction which they faced, without turning as they went. Their whole body, their backs, their hands, their wings and the wheels were full of eyes all around, the wheels belonging to all four of them. The wheels were called in my hearing, the whirling wheels. And each one had four faces. The first face was the face of a cherub, the second face was the face of a man, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle. Then the cherubim rose up. They are the living beings that I saw by the river Chebar. (Ezekiel 10:10-15)
As I looked, behold, a storm wind was coming from the north, a great cloud with fire flashing forth continually and a bright light around it, and in its midst something like glowing metal in the midst of the fire. Within it there were figures resembling four living beings. And this was their appearance: they had human form. Each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight and their feet were like a calf’s hoof, and they gleamed like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides were human hands. As for the faces and wings of the four of them, their wings touched one another; their faces did not turn when they moved, each went straight forward. As for the form of their faces, each had the face of a man; all four had the face of a lion on the right and the face of a bull on the left, and all four had the face of an eagle. Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out above; each had two touching another being, and two covering their bodies. (Ezekiel 1:4-11)
That's right, a real cherub. Now I just need to locate three more faces.

I'm not sure when or how our culture transformed cherubim from the beings described in Scripture to the chubby babies we see in Hallmark stores, but I suppose doing so has helped to diminish our view of God, and our fear of Him.

That is all the more reason why we should daily thank Him for saving us and showing us the truth contained in His Word. What a banquet of truth He has given us!

While I get started on that costume, then, why don't you take a few moments to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

08 November 2017

Acceptable Sins Not Excepted: Worry


Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)
Christians know they are not to worry and that anxiety should not overwhelm or consume them. After all, God is sovereign; that is why we make our requests known to Him!
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
Indeed, God, in His faithfulness, offers peace, comfort, and even joy in the midst of even our most trying circumstances.

So it is simple, isn’t it? Just trust God, pray a few prayers, and everything will go well for you! Worry will fade away like the morning fog, and you will find yourself floating through life, light as a feather, without a care in the world.

Yes, it is that easy!

Isn’t it?

03 November 2017

This 'n' That

Well, it's November 3. Reformation Day—particularly the 500th anniversary—is now in the past. You may have noticed that I didn't post anything specifically for Reformation Day on October 31. The reason for that was twofold: 1) in the hustle and bustle of life, the blog had to be placed on the back burner, and with the plethora of posts available on the topic, I figured nobody would mind or notice if I skipped it, and 2) while October 31, 2017 was a wonderful opportunity to remember the "official" start of the Reformation, it is hardly final. Just as the Reformation began before October 31, 1517, so too does it continue beyond October 31, 2017.

The Reformation wasn't about an event, it was about truth. It was about a reinvigoration of God's Word among the people. It was about a reintroduction of that same Word. The gospel message of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, that message that had been deliberately veiled by men for centuries, had finally been propelled back into the spotlight, illuminated by the truth of Christ. The Bible, closed for so long to common men, was blown open and could no longer be contained.

The truths celebrated and taught by the Reformers are the same truths to which we cling today, and in fact, they are the same truths taught long before Martin Luther picked up his mallet. The truth of the gospel has been around for far longer than 500 years. It is truth for life, not truth for a day.

Thank God for those men and women who paved the way for the Reformers. Thank Him for the men and women of the Reformation proper, and thank Him for those who still stand firm on that same biblical truth. Most of all, thank Him for that truth and praise the One who is Truth and Life.

Also, now that November is here, we can finally start listening to Christmas music! So while I go rock around the Christmas tree (just kidding, my tree won't be up for another month!) why don't you hum your favorite holiday tune while you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

01 November 2017

Acceptable Sins Not Excepted: Envy


We have all had our moments of being “green with envy.” Whether we desired that fun, new purse our friend carried to church, or the latest smart phone or tablet; whether we grumbled over our coworker receiving a promotion instead of us, or silently griped over our friend who always seems to have more free time, or a cleaner house, or a less stressful life than we do, we have all been on the wrong side of envy.

And that’s okay…isn’t it?
I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind. (Ecclesiastes 4:4)
Oh.

The biblical definition for coveting is to “lust after or long for with great desire." And while there may be a few minor differences between “coveting,” “jealousy,” and “envy,” at the end of the day, all three of these terms point to a deeper, spiritually crippling heart issue.

29 October 2017

Equipping Eve: Gospel Anathemas


There is a lot of talk among professing Christians, some of whom are influential figures, about unity with the Roman Catholic Church. In this episode, we’ll explore why the gospel of Roman Catholicism and the biblical gospel cannot be united.


Resources (link does not necessarily equal endorsement)


Further Listening 

Sunday Morning Praise

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

27 October 2017

This 'n' That

Well, Reformation Day is almost here. Do you have your Martin or Katie Luther costume ready? Or are you going as one of the Swiss Reformers? I mean, surely you are dressing up, aren't you? I'm pretty sure only unsaved people don't dress up as Reformers for Reformation Day.

Yes, I'm kidding. No, I'm not dressing up. I'm not attending a Reformation party. Yes, I know, now I'll have to spend more time in purgatory. It's fine, though, because I hear that spending time in imaginary places isn't all that bad.

Source: Monergism
It is exciting to think that the Reformation has been ongoing (yes, ongoing, because the gospel is always under attack) for 500 years. Unfortunately, there has been a sort of Reformation reversal over the decades. Even more unfortunately, many professing Christians have either determined to remain indifferent or, even worse, have opted to join and progress this denial of Reformation doctrine (that is, biblical doctrine). That is why we must never cease to stand firm in the face of false teaching. Whether it is the false and damning doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, or the deceitful and equally deceiving principles of the prosperity gospel or the watered-down seeker-sensitive gospel, we must remain faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ and the gospel that we are saved by grace alone, by faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

As we remain faithful to these core doctrines, we must not be afraid to rebuke the false. At the same time, we must be mindful of our methods and our motivation as we do so. Above all, we must, in the midst of our faithfulness to the truth, not neglect to proclaim with boldness and compassion the truth of the gospel to those who are in bondage to these lies. Faithfulness to the truth is far more than condemning the false, it is proclaiming that same truth by which we measure true and false in the first place.

Okay, while I go put the finishing touches on my Reformation wall mural (my dining room is going to look fantastic when it's finished), why don't you sit back and spend a few minutes enjoying your Reformation-themed week in review (kind of):

21 October 2017

Pray for Jess


There is a young woman—a wife, a mother, a daughter—whose time on this earth may be cut short, from our human perspective. She, like far too many, is fighting cancer. It has been a long battle. She grows worse each day.

I cannot imagine.

Such a schedule would weary the strongest of men, but one can nary imagine what this young woman experiences physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Not only is she fighting a physical battle for her own life, she is fighting that same fight for her two young boys. What mother could endure the thought of leaving her children behind, especially at a young age? What woman would be content to bid her husband goodbye, destined to never live out the Golden Years beside one another?

I cannot imagine.

To God's great glory, this woman is saved. She knows her Savior; she serves her Lord, Jesus Christ. She and her husband both love the Lord and trust in—no doubt lean on—His sovereignty, even in tragedy. They have a loving church family and friends. God has provided richly, yet the physical trial remains.

Still, I cannot imagine.

The purpose of this post is simple. It is to ask you to pray. Pray for Jess. Pray for her husband, Chuck. Pray for her children. I am not asking that you pray for her healing in this life, though of course such a miracle would be welcome. Rather, I ask you to pray for comfort and peace for this woman, her husband, and her children. I ask that you pray that the great gospel of grace of salvation in Jesus Christ alone would be made evident in their lives, and that this same gospel would perhaps bring salvation to others who are watching. I ask you to praise God for the testimony of this woman's life and to pray for His continued glory in even the darkest circumstances.

Jess is not the first young mother to be stricken with cancer and she certainly will not be the last. But she is a name we now know, a sister for whom we can specifically pray, and friends, that is a blessed privilege.

You should know that I do not know Jess personally. She, even in her illness, has ministered to members of my family. I have seen a mutual friendship, care, and love; the testimony of her life, then, has even ministered to me from afar. So I join you in praying from a distance, but I do ask you to pray. We serve a mighty and magnificent God. May the Good Shepherd of Jess' soul bring her a comfort beyond comprehension.



*This post was cross-blogged at Equipping Eve.

20 October 2017

This 'n' That

It's Friday. Again. Is it just me, or are the weeks going by faster lately? In some ways, that's good, because most of us prefer the weekend to weekdays anyway. In other ways, it's not preferable, because we feel as though there is never enough time to get everything done.

Work or school (or both), church, family, extracurricular activities, doctor appointments, errands (do we really need to eat a meal or is popcorn sufficient?), chores, eating, sleeping...all of these things take time. Some of them undoubtedly involve too much of our time and others are no doubt neglected.

I often think of the story of Mary and Martha. I am no hostess, but I can identify with Martha wanting to get everything done as she did. I think most of us can, even if we step outside the context of hostessing and hospitality. Which is why, of course, I love Mary's role in this story.
Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
We can be doing well; we can be serving, whether in our local church or by serving our family or even by striving to reflect Christ as a good employee, and we can still miss the good part. No, we cannot spend our entire day in Bible study and prayer, but we can be careful about our priorities. We can be deliberate about spending time with the Lord. Above all else, then, let's be mindful that we are choosing the good part.

And while I certainly consider this weekly post to be something good, don't let it distract you from what is truly good. If you do have a few extra minutes, though, I hope you spend them enjoying your week in review (kind of):

18 October 2017

Equipping Eve: Reformation Reversal, Part 2


A recent Pew survey reveals that many professing protestants do not actually know or understand what they believe. 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, but is it possible that there has been a steady reversal of the reformation over the years? In this episode, we’ll continue our discussion from last time, emphasizing the need for Christians to know what they believe by knowing what God has said in His Word.

Click here to listen to this latest episode of Equipping Eve.

To access the Pew research survey referenced in this episode, click here.

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: Reformation Reversal, Part 1
Equipping Eve: Choice or Chance?
Equipping Eve: The Cross of Christ

Acceptable Sins Not Excepted: Impatience


The clock’s ticking…we’re waiting!

Impatience. It is unbecoming in the tamest of circumstances, but, when allowed to fester as an ongoing pattern of life, it can take a far more dangerous turn.

A spirit of impatience in daily life is ultimately a spirit of impatience demonstrated toward God, His timing, and His sovereign purposes. If we are honest, we come to realize that our impatience is a result of our desire to be in control of our circumstances. If we are even more honest, we admit that, at times, our impatience can lead not only to a lack of trust, but to unfounded irritability and even anger.

Annoyed that the commute is taking so long? Perhaps God has a purpose for you being in your car for an extra 10 minutes. Wondering why you are still waiting on that promotion or new job? God likely has His reasons.
The more clear your view of the sovereign purpose of God and His control in your life, the more patience you will have. Patience is the virtue that comes to those who don’t try to control everything in their lives.[1] 
And yet, even we who proclaim belief in the sovereignty of God often find our patience wearing thin in the face of everyday adversity. Even minor roadblocks may result in frustration and complaint.

13 October 2017

This 'n' That

There are times when I am just not very good at masking my frustration. Worse, there are times when I take to social media, particularly Twitter, to vent. I did it just this past week as I stood in the Post Office frustrated with and by...the Post Office. Now, to be clear, my mailman is fantastic. It's only when he takes a day off that things go awry. Also, for broader context, my grandfather spent his entire career working for the Post Office after he was finished serving in World War 2. So I have a great appreciation for mail workers who actually do their job. It's everybody else who is the problem. But then, I suppose that problem isn't exclusive to Post Office.

Long story short, everything worked out, but not without difficulty. In the process, I saw the bowels of my local post office. It was terrifying. It kind of made me want to wash my mail when it arrives. I felt a little bit like Buddy the Elf in the midst of a not-so-shiny mailroom.

Back to the matter at hand, though. I was reminded of the uselessness of tweeting or venting in any manner out of frustration. It helps no one, it reveals our pettiness (and our need to mortify such a sin), and it does not bring honor or glory to Christ. Twitter and other social media offer a great temptation in times of frustration, but we must think before we tweet/post/snapchat or whatever. What is the purpose of my post? Does it honor Christ? We all have frustrations we encounter daily, but we do not need to share them with the world. After all, if I'm already dealing with my own, why do I want to know about yours?

So, now that I've used this blog to offer up another true confession, why not give your Twitter feed a quick scan, clean it up if necessary, and then come back here to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

10 October 2017

Acceptable Sins Not Excepted: Gossip


In his sinfulness, man cannot help but defame others. It is intrinsic in his fallen nature. His pride, self-love, and disregard for God, God's law, and his fellow man all result in a mindset of self-preservation that is often exercised through defamation and slander.

Defamation and slander. These are two words that make most men shudder, for no one wants to be on the receiving end of such activity. But what about gossip? That isn't quite as bad, is it?

06 October 2017

This 'n' That

My life is filled with acronyms. Industry acronyms, company acronyms, department acronyms. For those of you who are drawing a blank as to what an acronym is, here is a definition:
An abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word.
So, ASAP isn't a word in itself, but actually stands for As Soon As Possible. That is an acronym.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Perhaps many of you remember a rather popular "Christian" acronym from the early 90s: WWJD, or What Would Jesus Do? Yep, the memories are flooding back, aren't they?

Raise your hand if you wore a WWJD bracelet! I admit it, I wore one. I mean, I went to church (sometimes), so I was a Christian, and Christians have to be up on the latest Christian trends. Right? Um...yeah, maybe not.

Oh well, we all have our moments. And, in my defense, I was only a kid...and I wasn't actually a Christian.

For some reason, remembering those WWJD bracelets makes me want to go find my slap bracelets, which were popular a couple years earlier. While I go search the closet for those, why don't you take a few moments to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

04 October 2017

The Lie of 'Acceptable' Sins

Take heed of secret sins. They will undo thee if loved and maintained: one moth may spoil the garment; one leak drown the ship; a penknife stab and kill a man as well as a sword; so one sin may damn the soul; nay, there is more danger of a secret sin causing the miscarrying of the soul than open profaneness, because not so obvious to the reproofs of the world; therefore take heed that secret sinnings eat not out good beginnings.
— Jeremiah Burroughs
Secret sins are hidden, concealed from our family, friends, and church. They are nurtured in the quiet moments of our life, and the darkest corners of our heart. We often consider such covert transgressions to be pursuits of lust, such as pornography; however, it is far easier to conceal and cultivate more “minor” sins, such as envy, anxiety, pride, or selfishness.

This is because we often fail to even recognize these sins as sins. Says Jerry Bridges,
God has not given us the authority to establish values for different sins…All sin is serious because all sin is a breaking of God’s law.[1]
Just because we are tolerant of a particular “respectable” sin does not mean that it is not a serious breach of the law of God. So while we mourn over our visible, flagrant sins, we must also mourn over those sins that, though perhaps acceptable in a fallen world, are not acceptable before God.

01 October 2017

Equipping Eve: Reformation Reversal, Part 1


A recent Pew survey reveals that many professing protestants do not actually know or understand what they believe. 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, but but is it possible that there has been a steady reversal of the reformation over the years?

Click here to listen to this latest episode of Equipping Eve.

To access the Pew research survey referenced in this episode, click here.

Additional Resources
A Brief Reformation Day History
The Reformer You Need to Meet: William Farel
Equipping Eve: The Importance of Context

Sunday Morning Praise

How Great Thou Art

29 September 2017

This 'n' That

Things I think about while sitting at the airport, waiting for a two hour delay:

Why does that man keep riding the moving walkway and turning around when he reaches the end? He knows he's not exercising if he's just standing there while it moves him forward, doesn't he?

I hope that child stops screaming before that family boards the plane.

Has it been two hours yet?

Why are there so many dogs here?

It's nice that they're offering us free drinks and snacks while we wait, but does it have to be Dasani water? Does anybody else suspect that Dasani is really just tap water from Detroit?

Why are the bathroom stalls so small? Did the person who designed these not grasp the concept of an airport, and not realize that most people would be squeezing into these with one or two carry-on bags?

Has it been two hours yet?

I hope that guy finishes his smelly sandwich before he gets on the plane.

I wonder where that family is returning from. Oh wait, their their matching T-shirts are announcing it: Florida.

Surely by now it has been two hours!

Sigh. When are leggings going to go out of style? Those aren't pants. They are tights, and tights were meant to be worn underneath other clothing.

I hope I remembered to pack shampoo. I hate hotel shampoo. It always smells like fake flowers or cedar.

Yes, we are boarding! I wonder why we were really delayed? 

Now that you have some not-so-exciting insight into my brain, why not get ready for the weekend by enjoying your week in review (kind of):

22 September 2017

This 'n' That

Well, it's the first day of fall. If the weather where you are is anything like it is here, the humidity is making it feel like the middle of July. In spite of my huge, frizzy hair, though, I am not complaining. The warm weather has been welcome following a week or two of cold, damp, gloomy, pre-fall days.

I suppose now that autumn is officially here, it is acceptable to begin adding pumpkin or pumpkin flavor to everything. Admittedly, I cheated, and picked up a couple of pumpkin-flavored donuts on Wednesday. If you could taste these donuts, you would've eaten them before fall officially began, too. Though while I am a huge fan of most things pumpkin-flavored, this trend definitely can be overdone. Pumpkin Spice M&Ms? No thank you. Pumpkin Spice Oreos? I'm not sure how I feel about those. Now, true, homemade pumpkin pie? Oh yes, that is where it's at. If you've made one and want to share a piece, I'd be happy to help you be a giving person.

I think what I love most about this season, though, is the reminders it brings of God's sovereignty and creativity. With every change of seasons, we are reminded of God's power and control over His creation. The sights, sounds, smells, and beautiful colors of autumn ought to evoke words of praise to our God for the beauty and artistry of that same creation.

These reminders are some of the reasons I prefer to live in a place that does experience the change of seasons. The shift from winter to spring especially brings to mind the picture of being dead in sin and born again in Christ. Though this is a fallen world filled with sin, death, sickness, dirt, and general unpleasantness, it nevertheless is still filled with good gifts from a loving God. And if these common graces are so beautiful, imagine what awaits His own in Heaven!

For now, though, we remain on this earth. So while you sip on your Pumpkin Spice Latte, why not take the opportunity to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

20 September 2017

Unshakeable Joy Because of What Is to Come

The devotional that follows, as well as subsequent posts in this series, originally were written for and appeared as anonymous publications in the bulletins of a local church. Considering the joy (no pun intended) which resulted from the composition of this series, and the limited audience to which these articles were initially exposed, it seemed appropriate to finally share them here, with this dear readership.



In the shadow of His looming crucifixion and unthinkable circumstances, Jesus told His disciples in John 16:22 that “no one will take your joy away from you.” The incalculable hope in His words offered a promise that the transient troubles of this world would one day pass, and they would be with Him for eternity (John 14:1-3).

17 September 2017

16 September 2017

Equipping Eve: Bell's Broken Bible

This episode actually aired back in August, but I failed to share it here. Remember, Equipping Eve is a podcast for ladies only!



The Bible is God’s Word, and when we don’t treat it as such, we naturally end up with a low, skewed view of God and Christ. In this episode, we’ll discuss the latest from author and teacher Rob Bell, a prominent “Scripture twister,” and see how his views of God’s Word align with the views of its Author.

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

Here is a link to the article referenced in this episode.

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: Have We Left Our First Love?
Equipping Eve: What Is Sanctification?
Equipping Eve: Crayolas and Quiet Time

15 September 2017

This 'n' That

Yesterday was gloomy and damp around these parts. The morning air was still moist with the overnight rain, and the drizzle scarcely stopped all day. It seemed an appropriate day, then, to travel a few miles south to the Ark Encounter.

I knew that Answers in Genesis had used some artistic license and extra-biblical sources to construct their story of Noah, so I went prepared to be a good Berean, but nevertheless was eager to visit the structure.

Believe it or not, I'm actually in this photo.
So, after spending a few hours at the Ark, what are my thoughts? Well done.

Yes, it's a little frustrating to see various plaques naming the names of the wives of Noah and his sons. After all, these details are not contained in Scripture and are not necessary to construct a complete narrative. I also chuckled at the plaque that described how Noah might have "traveled to a small port city where he became an apprentice shipwright. He learned blacksmithing and shipbuilding and eventually married the daughter of his employer." It's important to note, though, that the entrance of this particular exhibit was clear in noting that "artistic license" was used to tell the story of how Noah might have come to possess the necessary skills to build the ark. At the end of the day, we do not know how God equipped Noah to construct such a massive ship, and at the end of that same day, it does not matter.

Still, though these additions would not have been necessary, they do not detract from the message. The gospel was clear and prevalent throughout, and for that I was very thankful. Further, the sheer size of the structure insists that one stand in awe. What did Noah think when God commanded him to build this behemoth? And there, in the ark, God chose to preserve eight people. Just eight.
For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:14)
Now, do we need a "Christian-themed attraction" in order to proclaim the gospel? No, we do not. But if it is going to exist, then it may behoove us to pray that God would use it to glorify Himself in whatever way He chooses.

Right now, though, none of us are on the ark, which means we should have plenty of time to enjoy the week in review (kind of):