31 March 2018

The Original Plan


Saturday. The day between Christ’s death and, for all the disciples knew, merely the next day.

Still not understanding all that Jesus had prophesied about His resurrection, His earliest followers no doubt felt a measure of great despair on that Saturday. We can conclude this from the actions of the women, who hurried to the tomb early the next morning to properly prepare Christ’s body:
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. They were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?" 
(Mark 16:1-3)
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. (Luke 24:1)

30 March 2018

This 'n' That

Oh yeah, this is totally what I do when it rains.
Well, "spring" arrived last week. Yes, the daffodils are blooming, the birds are singing...and in many places in the midwest it's 45 degrees and raining. The pitter-patter of the rain on the roof is enough to lull you to sleep for days, and the overwhelming amount of rain has caused those lovely daffodils to bend low, as if they've given up on life.

Oh well, such is life on this earth! The changing seasons, the rain, clouds, and sun, all remind that there is a Creator who is sovereign over all these things.
Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD from the heavens;
Praise Him in the heights!

Praise Him, all His angels;
Praise Him, all His hosts!

Praise Him, sun and moon;
Praise Him, all stars of light!

Praise Him, highest heavens,
And the waters that are above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the LORD,
For He commanded and they were created.

He has also established them forever and ever;
He has made a decree which will not pass away. (Psalm 148:1-6)
This same Creator was sovereign over the events of Christ's death and resurrection, upon which we reflect this weekend. Let us take comfort in knowing that this is our God—One who has ordained all things that come to pass, One who is surprised by nothing, and One who is working all things for His ultimate glory.

If your weather report is like mine, then you likely won't be venturing far today, so why not use the opportunity to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

26 March 2018

Whose Church?


There is a disturbing tendency rampant in Christianity. While it may not always be deliberate, it is nevertheless worrisome and, if one is boldly honest, potentially even damaging.
I attend [insert pastor’s name here]’s church.
What?
Yes, he attended such-and-such seminary and/or was/is affiliated with thus-and-so ministry.
Hopefully the reader sees the problem with the above scenario. Further, hopefully the reader is not blind—whether willfully or ignorantly—to the truthful reality that such conversations actually do occur.

It is acceptable to like, appreciate, encourage, and even praise our pastors. They have been called to preach the Word, to proclaim the gospel of Christ, and to teach the whole truth of Scripture without compromise. That is not a simple job. It does not come without spiritual warfare, fatigue, and times of doubt. If our pastor is faithful to Christ and to His Word, we ought to joyfully share that with those who are inquiring about the body of believers with whom we worship and serve.

24 March 2018

Equipping Eve: The Incomparable Christ


Who is Jesus Christ? He is the image of the invisible God. He is the Creator. He is God incarnate. He is the head of the Church. He is the Savior. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is incomparable.

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

Additional Resource
Introduction to Colossians (sermon by Pastor Bill Vine)

23 March 2018

This 'n' That

There is a squirrel that's been coming to the feeder in my backyard that has lost his tail. The poor little thing! With the many unpleasant members of wildlife that roam around here, I suspect he was attacked by something, whether it was a hawk that didn't properly latch onto its prey or the neighbor's cat failing to fully immobilize his victim, or a mangy coyote, this poor little squirrel has been left with only a red nub.

Watching this squirrel maneuver through the woods is interesting. He seems to hop, rather than scurry as his squirrel counterparts do. He obviously cannot climb trees or leap from branch to branch. I have no idea how long he has been this way, but it's incredible to see him function. It also makes me a bit sad. When God designed squirrels, He clearly had a reason for every detail, including their bushy tails.
A squirrel’s tail is much more than a fashion accessory. It serves 3 main functions that enable the squirrel to survive: protection, balance and communication. (Source)
This furry, tail-less rodent has no way to protect himself from the elements or to communicate with others. How long will he survive like this? Only the Lord knows, but watching him reminds me of our God's great creativity and deliberate intent in creation. We did not evolve from primordial goo, and apes are not our ancestors. Every muscle, joint, and eyelash has a purpose and indeed, God knows even the number of hairs on our head. What an incredible, amazing God He is, and what an immeasurable privilege it is to serve the One who designed and created us!

Okay, while I grab my binoculars to get another look at Tail-less Tommy, why don't you grab something sweet to munch on while you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

16 March 2018

This 'n' That

No, this isn't the picture.
In my house hangs a picture of a flute. I found it years ago at an art show in Chicago. I originally bought this picture for two primary reasons. First, it was drawn in pastels, a medium that has always held the fascination of this artistically deficient blogger. I remember wanting to learn to draw with pastels as a young teenager. Suffice it to say that, if you don't have artistic talent, it doesn't matter what tool is in your hand, you still can't draw! I also purchased this picture because I once played the flute (I think I actually did that well, in spite of my tone deafness) and always love to hear flute music. It's one of my favorite instruments.

I don't play the flute anymore (though I admit that I wish I did and I have picked it up a few times over the years), but this picture remains on my wall as a reminder. It reminds me of junior high days gone by, when life, which seemed so overwhelming and complicated at the time, was actually quite simple and enjoyable. It reminds me of the beauty and complexity of music, and what a great gift it is from our gracious Heavenly Father. It reminds me that not everything will come naturally or easily. Some things take practice, and some things take time to work themselves out. In the end, with perseverance, all the notes and scales come together into a beautiful masterpiece.

In an odd way, this picture reminds me of Romans 8:28.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Now, when we fallen humans try to execute our musical masterpieces called life, we stumble and we hit bad notes (to put it mildly). What a blessed comfort it is, though, to know that even those sour notes are being used by our God—indeed, they were even written by Him into the score—to bring things together for His glory and our good. What a remarkable God we serve!

Well, while I ponder whether I should pull out my flute and try to remember my scales, why don't you be thankful you are out of earshot as you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

12 March 2018

Equipping Eve: Hopeology


John MacArthur has said, “Life without hope is bleak.” He’s right. The reality is, Christians are the only ones who know what true hope is because Christians are the only ones who know the One who is the source of true hope, Jesus Christ.


Additional Resource

09 March 2018

This 'n' That

Well, it's coming. Daylight Savings Time (DST) arrives on Sunday. Yes, it's the time of year when folks show up late to church, or, if on time, are yawning with exhaustion from the loss of an hour of sleep. Nothing says "Happy Spring" like increases in heart attacks and car accidents.

I once lived in a place that did not observe DST (only part of the state opted not to change its clocks). At the time, it annoyed me simply because I didn't understand why that part of the state couldn't be "normal" like the rest of the country. Now, I miss it. Why? Because I have come to the conclusion that DST is not overly useful, particularly in this age of electricity. Let's face it, even if it is still light outside, I am probably going to turn on the lights in my office or family room so that I can be most effective at whatever task needs to be accomplished. Most of us who work do so in well-lit offices, even though the sun is up during our core hours, do we not?

In 2013, National Geographic reported on some of the studies that have been conducted to determine the benefit, if any, of DST.
Environmental economist Hendrik Wolff, of the University of Washington, and colleagues found that the practice did indeed drop lighting and electricity use in the evenings—but that higher energy demands during darker mornings completely canceled out the evening gains. [...]

In terms of energy savings, Downing said, Wolff's and other studies are no longer in much dispute: It's clear that DST doesn't save energy in the big picture.

Part of the story that is often ignored, he added, is the energy required to get people from place to place—gasoline. In fact the petroleum and automobile industries have always been huge supporters of DST, Downing said.

"When you give Americans more light at the end of the day, they really do want to get out of the house. And they go to ballparks, or to the mall and other places, but they don't walk there. Daylight saving reliably increases the amount of driving that Americans do, and gasoline consumption tracks up with daylight saving." (Source)
And for those of us who grew up thinking that DST was necessary for farmers, well, we were lied to (shocking, I know). According to the article cited above, farmers were a group most strongly opposed to the idea.

So, I will change my clocks tomorrow night, simply because it does no good to rebel against this particular system. Let it be known, though, that I am not thrilled about it. Also, a huge shoutout to smartphone designers for designing those clocks to change themselves. Otherwise, I most certainly would not awaken in time to get to church!

Okay, now that this week's grumbling-fest is over, before you take a pre-DST nap, why not take a few minutes to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

02 March 2018

This 'n' That

Shockingly, I don't really have much to say today. It's been a very long, not-so-fabulous week and my brain is absolutely fried. Forming coherent thoughts—much less putting them together into equally coherent sentences—is not something that I feel I can excel at this week. Our dear brother Charles Spurgeon, however, never seemed unable to voice his thoughts clearly:
Dear brethren, do not despise the day of small things. Rest assured that God does not save by numbers, and that results are not in the spiritual kingdom in proportion to numbers....

Again, and again, and again, repeat the feeble stroke, and there shall come to be as much result from it as from one tremendous blow. God accepts your little works if they are done in faith in his dear Son. God will give success to your little works: God will educate you by your little works to do greater works; and your little works may call out others who shall do greater works by far than ever you shall be able to accomplish. Evangelists, go on preaching at the street corner--you that visit the low lodging-houses, go on. Get into the room and talk of Jesus Christ there as you have done. You that go into the country towns on the Sabbath and speak on the village-greens of Christ, go on with it. I am glad to see you, but I am glad to miss you when I know you are about the Master's work. We don't want to keep the salt in the box: let it be rubbed into the putrid mass to stay the putrification. We don't want the seed forever in the corn-bin: let it be scattered and it will give us more. Oh! brethren and sisters, wake up if any of you are asleep. Don't let an ounce of strength in this church be wasted--not a single grain of ability, either in the way of doing, or praying, or giving, or holy living. Spend and be spent, for who hath despised the day of small things? The Lord encourage weak believers, and the Lord accept the efforts of feeble workers, and send to both his richest benediction for Christ's sake. Amen.

—Charles Spurgeon, Encouragement for the Depressed
Do not worry, friend, if you feel that you are a feeble worker for the Lord. Strive only to be a faithful worker. With that, I hope you have time today to enjoy your week in review (kind of):