Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Ah, those crazy Puritans...or were they? Here is a time-of-year-appropriate prayer to work through and think through from "The Valley of Vision," a collection of prayers penned by Puritans:
Length of days does not profit me
except the days are passed in Thy presence,
in Thy service, to Thy glory.
Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides,
sustains, sanctifies, aids every hour,
that I may not be one moment apart from Thee,
but may rely on Thy Spirit
to supply every thought,
speak in every word,
direct every step,
prosper every work,
build up every mote of faith,
and give me a desire
to show forth Thy praise;
testify Thy love,
advance Thy kingdom.
I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,
with Thee, O Father as my harbour,
Thee, O Son, at my helm,
Thee O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.
Guide me to heaven with my loins girt,
my lamp burning,
my ear open to Thy calls,
my heart full of love,
my soul free.
Give me They grace to sanctify me,
Thy comforts to cheer,
Thy wisdom to teach,
Thy right hand to guide,
Thy counsel to instruct,
Thy law to judge,
Thy presence to stabilize.
May Thy fear by my awe,
Thy triumphs my joy.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
“If we spend sixteen hours a day dealing with tangible things and only five minutes a day dealing with God, is it any wonder that tangible things are 200 times more real to us than God?”
- William R. Inge
Sunday, December 28, 2008
If you've not read Tozer, you've ripped yourself off. Now that I think of it, reading Tozer may rip at your heart...but it is surgery for His glory...consider this:
"Father, I want to know Thee, but my coward heart fears to give up its
toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try
to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do
come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished
so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that
Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou make
the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the
sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall
be no night there. In Jesus Name, Amen."
A. W. Tozer
Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Depending on your age, you may remember a whacked-out song several years ago titled, "What If God Was One of Us?" It was far from biblical and, as usual, Christians spent most of their time hammering the song (and thus selling more copies) rather than using a song that everyone was listening to already as a springboard into discussing truth.
Anyway, God did become "one of us" (though not like us)on that first CHRISTmas morning...
As Wesley penned,
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see;
hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel
From the Hagers to you, may the true and valid and timeless message of CHRISTmas resonate in and through you today and everyday...until the whole world knows!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I feel like my job as a parent is to teach my kid's three phrases: please, thank you, and I'm sorry. Those three phrases are three keys that will open any door.
"Please" symbolizes a humble approach to life without a sense of entitlement. It is the magic word. Or think of it as the master key. A simple "please" will open doors nothing else can.
"Thank you" symbolizes a grateful heart. When you stop saying "thank you" it stops the flow of blessing. But if you genuinely thank people when they do something for you, it keeps the door open.
And "I'm sorry" symbolizes courage. Why? Because it takes tremendous courage to admit that you were wrong. But if you learn to say "I'm sorry" when you make a mistake it reopens doors that have been closed.
So to recap...
"Please" opens doors. "Thank You" keeps them open. And "I'm sorry" reopens closed doors.
I know that sounds awfully simplistic. But the happiest and healthiest people are the people who are really good at those three things. They have mastered the three phrases. p
Monday, December 22, 2008
- Timothy Keller
This atheist makes an incredibly accurate observation that is both convicting and challenging. Do you have enough guts to watch this?
Attributed to a young rabbi:
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
Reminds me of one of my favorite quotations:
"Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future.
Faith is having the courage to dance to it today."
- Dr. Peter Kuzmic, theologian, Slovenian-born, citizen of Croatia
The CHRISTmas season can be really tough on a lot of people, especially those who feel lonely, or who have lost a loved one recently. Perhaps the quotes will minister grace to those who need a touch from heaven.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
- Timothy Keller, “The Grace of Kindness”
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Whose purpose? Whose plan? His. Not my plan, not the "mission statement" purpose, but His purpose.
The comfort - The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.
The challenge - His purpose may not align with what I think my purpose is...and that's okay..because "Thy Kingdom come" means "My Kingdom go."
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Televangelists and others beat people up by saying they are sick because of sin in their lives, or because of lack of faith. This may be the case, but the Spirit of God will make that clear to the afflicted one; they don't need some dude in an expensive suit to tell them...
But just a reminder from the Word of God: (1 Peter 5.19) "Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good."
Suffering is part of living, with or without Christ. With Christ, He walks through it with us, and enables us to "consider it all joy." With Christ, it all "works together for good." With Christ we know suffering is temporary, and we look with great anticipation and hope to heaven.
And with Christ we don't simply endure, but we continue "doing good" even as we suffer.
The extreme name-it-claim-it-blab-it-grab-it-your-best-life-now types have to clip 1 Peter 5.19 (and other verses) out of their Bibles. And they must, to be consistent, click their tongues and shake their heads at all the apostles (and Paul) who suffered and died because of their faith.
Don't misread - God can, and does, still heal.
But one reason they are called miracles is because they don't happen often!
Monday, December 15, 2008
If you can make the time, watch part 1 and 2....but I beg/urge/plead with you to watch this portion. Do I concur with everything John MacArthur says elsewhere? Of course not. But this is an incredibly clear presentation of what the gospel is...as opposed to what some say it is.
And, yes, I do think it is rather ironic and miraculous that this appeared on TBN.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
A saint's life is in the hands of God as a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see; He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says, I cannot stand any more. But God does not heed; He goes on stretching until His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
I've said, a few times, that the most useless thing on the face of the earth is a typical Christian. God can't save them, allegedly He already has; and He can't use them for they are not pursuing Him, passionate about Him, or promoting Him.
But I know there are periods of my life where I slide dangerously close to "typicalism." The preventative is daily submission, daily praise, daily discipline.
And now there is a prescription I take myself and heartily encourage you to take also.
It is Mark Batterson's Wild Goose Chase.
I've read it in two days; and will re read it often. I am an underliner...love to underline sentences, paragraphs, etc. After three pages of Wild Goose I quit underlining...as I'd have virtually the entire book underlined!
Batterson challenges me to see fanaticism as normative for the life of a Christ follower. I double-dog-dare you to get this book and be revolutionized. Will it stick? That's up to you and me.
Here's a sampling to whet your appetite (and, when you want to buy the book, do so on the link at the end so I can get a few pesos...hey, I'm a missionary who raises support..every cent helps!)
I wonder if churches do to people what zoos do to animals?
I wonder if some of us are living such safe lives that not only we are bored, but so are our guardian angels?
When Christianity turns into a noun, it becomes a turnoff. Christianity was always intended to be a verb.
We can get so busy doing 'ministry' that we don't have time for ministry.
It is much easier to act like a Christian than it is to react like one.
That's enough for you to get a nibble of flavor.
Buy this book. Read this book. Apply this book.
Here's the deal. Buy it, if you don't like it, I'll buy it back from you.
Get it here:
Wild Goose Chase: Reclaim the Adventure of Pursuing God
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I was in the courthouse in Troy, Kansas when Tamara Kostman was sentenced after pleading no contest to the charges she murdered her newly born child.
Should she have been sentenced to a long prison term? Absolutely.
But had she visited an abortionist a few hours prior, the baby would be just as dead and she would be free today.
Is there not a disconnect? President-elect Obama states he will do all he can to make abortion easier (on everyone except the unborn child), and is a vocal supporter of “partial-birth abortion.”
To be consistent, perhaps he will extend a presidential pardon to Ms. Kostman?
Any human is shocked to hear of a woman strangling her just-born child. How can America sing “God bless America: while the thousands of daily deaths of the unborn do not shock?
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
If you watched the video in the immediate previous post; make the time to watch this!
"When God is not greatly praised, it's only because we don't think He's that great of a God. When our worship is small, it's because our concept of God is small. When we offer God little-bitty sacrifices, it's because we've somehow reduced Him in our hearts to a little-bitty God. Our vision has become clouded, our hearts distracted." - Louie Giglio
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
My precious and beautiful daughter Janelle wrote this a while ago for her birth mom...In case you are not aware, Janelle's birth mom was a girl we met at a camp in Wisconsin; who a few months later got pregnant at the age of 13. She had heard me preach some narrow-minded things about abortion, contacted us; through prayer and His direction, we adopted Janelle at birth (and, several years later, another young woman connected with us with a similar story and we adopted Jacob...Josiah (24) and Joel (22) are our children the old-fashioned way!)
Here is what Janelle wrote:
A Reminder for My Birth-Mom
by Janelle E. Hager
When you’re depressed; I’m the One to turn to…
When you’re angry, I’m there for you…
When you’re hurt, My shoulders are there for you to cry on…
When you have a secret, My ear is there for you to whisper in…
When you’re going through a hard time, I’m here to hold your hand…
I was there when you asked Me into your heart…
I was there when your mom left…and then came back…
I was there when you got pressure into doing things you know you shouldn’t…
I was there when you told your parents the news…
I was right there next to you for those long nine months…
I was right there when you told your parents about adoption…
I was there when you chose the family…
I was there through the pain…
I was there when you met with the family…
I was there when you and the family chose a name…
I was there holding your hand in the hospital…
I was there when you first laid eyes on the baby…
I was there through the tears…
I was there when you handed the baby over to the family and said, “Here’s Janelle”…
I was there when the papers were signed…
I was there when the family gave you a hug and said, “Thank you, Davida”…
God…Your Father (by adoption)
In the mall yesterday a guy asked me, when I told him I had just moved to the area, if I came here to retire!
Why would he think I was old enough to retire? (refrain from comments, please)
But it reminded me that I've no desire to "retire." This is not a statement that retirement is sin...but why would I want to quit doing what I love doing?
It saddens me that so many followers of Christ hate their jobs/careers. Not once-in-a-while, not just-on-Mondays; but always they dislike intensely their jobs.
Malcomb Forbes got it right when he said, "The biggest mistake people make in life is not trying to make a living at doing what they most enjoy."
If you are a student, seek His face, His path, and recognize that He has gifted you and called you to a career...find it!
If you are an adult working at a job you hate...find what you are good at, what you are gifted for, and do it...
Monday, December 8, 2008
If you'll look at my amazon carousel to the left, you will see my updated CHRISTmas book recommendations.
Wanna bless someone with non-fluff CHRIST-centered books? Some of these have been around a while, a couple are new...but they are ALL great books that will encourage, edify, and exhort Christians; and may well serve as an introduction to the Savior for non-Christians.
And, yes, as a home missionary who subsists on missionary support...if you click thru to Amazon via my carousel, whatever you purchase will be credited to my account, and I'll get a few cents from your purchase (and you'll get my gratitude!)
So, look over the recommendations, and give 'em a try!
Sunday, December 7, 2008
C. J. Mahaney writes of "spiritual meteorites," who burn bright with the love of Christ for a while, then suddenly fade from fellowship and faith.
I fear such things happen primarily because "soulwinners" do their thing their way, produce "decisions" rather than converts, and, even if the salvation is Spirit-born, the "soulwinner" then trucks off to score more "decisions" and leaves the new-born child of God on his own.
The contemporary "evangelist" all-too-often makes "decisions" for Christ easy (heads bowed, eyes closed, raise your hand etc). Contrast that with the gospels, where, at least in my reading, Jesus always made it easier to say "no" than to say "yes."
Are invitations bad? Not at all.
But when there is no focus on the horribleness of our sin, the need for repentance, and the radical-ness of following Christ in obedience, there will be simply more spiritual meteorites...rather than growing disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Friday, December 5, 2008
If you go to Dallas Theological Seminary, you'll see a photo honoring Dr. Howard Hendricks (a phenomenal speaker and author). Etched in glass beneath the photo are these words:
"I live with the dread of tame, domesticated Christianity. I fear for my students that they will chase after what they want -- and therefore miss what God wants."
Chew on that...
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Read 1 Timothy 6 yesterday, noted seven "orders" from verse 11 to the end. Praying/thinking about developing a series of messages on the text; but here are the orders I picked out:
1. Flee these things ("these things" are described in the previous paragraphs of text)
2. Pursue righteousness
3. Fight the good fight of the faith (which presupposes some fight the wrong fight(s)
4. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called
5. Keep the commandment unstained
6. Guard the deposit entrusted to you.
7. Grace be with you. (so reads the last verse; I feel it takes conscious effort to focus on His grace; and all six of the previous marching orders need to be laced and strengthened with grace.