30 November 2018

This 'n' That

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

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

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

24 November 2018

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

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

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

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

23 November 2018

This 'n' That

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

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

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

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

16 November 2018

This 'n' That

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

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

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

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

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

13 November 2018

Sibling Status Means Something

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

11 November 2018

Sunday Morning Praise

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

Equipping Eve: Not Seen, But Heard

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

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

09 November 2018

This 'n' That

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

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

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

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

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

02 November 2018

This 'n' That

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

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

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