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Friday, December 31, 2010

I Need The Gospel - Today!

As 2010 evaporates and I anticipate 2011...as I reflect back, not only over the year, but the years; I am clobbered with the reality that is so wondrously expressed in the following prayer by SCOTTY SMITH. I want to live moment-by-moment in the awareness of the truth contained in this:

Dear Lord Jesus,
While I still believe, with all my heart, you are the only Savior, I now see how more of my heart needs more of you and more of the gospel.
There is nobody on the face of the earth that needs the gospel today, and its transforming resources, more than me, and I am SO glad to be able to acknowledge this reality. I need you today, Jesus, as much as I did in March of 1968 when you washed away all my sins and covered me with the robe of your righteousness.
You have saved me in the past, when I was justified by grace alone through faith alone; you are saving me in the present, as the Holy Spirit applies more and more of your finished work to my whole being; and you will save me in the future, when you return to finish making all things new, including ME!
Lord Jesus, though I’m never tempted to look to any other name for my justification, I am very tempted to look to other names and means for my transformation—worse of all, is when I look to me to be my own savior. But only you, Jesus, are able to save completely those who come to God through you, for you are always living to pray for us and to advocate for us (Heb 7:25). You are my righteousness, holiness and redemption, and that’s why I only boast in you today! (1 Cor. 1:30-31)
So I come to you today, Jesus, right now! Save me more fully from my fear of man, my need to be in control, my ticky-tacky pettiness. Save me from trying to be anybody’s savior. I want to get irritated far less often and to be spontaneous much more often. I want to “light up” more quickly when I hear your name, Jesus, and not be downcast, when I don’t hear my name.
That’s more than enough confession for one day… Indeed, Jesus, I must be saved, I am being saved, through your name alone. Hallelujah!

Tozer Tip for Years End

I do not advise that we end the year on a somber note. The march, not the dirge, has ever been the music of Christianity. If we are good students in the school of life, there is much that the years have to teach us. But the Christian is more than a student, more than a philosopher. He is a believer, and the object of his faith makes the difference, the mighty difference. Of all persons the Christian should be best prepared for whatever the New Year brings. He has dealt with life at its source. In Christ he has disposed of a thousand enemies that other men must face alone and unprepared. He can face his tomorrow cheerful and unafraid because yesterday he turned his feet into the ways of peace and today he lives in God. The man who has made God his dwelling place will always have a safe habitation.

A.W. Tozer

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thursday Tozer Tidbit of Truth

“The only fear I have is to fear to get out of the will of God. Outside of the will of God, there’s nothing I want, and in the will of God there’s nothing I fear, for God has sworn to keep me in His will. If I’m out of his will that’s another matter. But if I’m in His will, He’s sworn to keep me.”
- A.W. Tozer, Success and the Christian

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A New Favorite Quote

This by Phil Yancey is worth reading, rereading, reflecting, chewing on and meditating on:


“We creatures, we jolly beggars, give glory to God by our dependence.  Our wounds and defects are the very fissures through which grace might pass.” 

Personal? Really?

How do these things get started?

Here are some online definitions of "personal":

adjective
1.
of, pertaining to, or coming as from a particular person; individual; private: a personal opinion.
2.
relating to, directed to, or intended for a particular person: a personal favor; one's personal life; a letter marked “Personal.”
3.
intended for use by one person: a personal car.
4.
referring or directed to a particular person in a disparaging or offensive sense or manner, usually involving character, behavior, appearance, etc.: personal remarks.
5.
making personal remarks or attacks: to become personal in a dispute.
6.
done, carried out, held, etc., in person: a personal interview.
7.
pertaining to or characteristic of a person or self-conscious being: That is my personal belief.
8.
of the nature of an individual rational being.
 
So from where did the term "personal savior" come? Don't really care, don't want to research it, just want to eradicate it. "Accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior" Really?
 
It waters the slippery slope into isolated faith, a dumbed-down Jesus who is at our beck and call to serve us...after all, He is allegedly our personal savior...  
 
End of mini-rant. Comments/observations more-than-welcome... 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tacky Time!

One of the biggest blessings in the Lord moving us to Missouri was reconnecting with Johnny Williams...who I've known since 1978...he is now not only a see-often friend, but also my pastor...Love him and his family, and glad we get everyone together once in a while...last night it was a Mexica fiesta at their home, with a white elephant gift exchange and a "dress festively tacky" theme...rather fun:

Monday, December 27, 2010

He Came To Us - Will We (keep) Coming to Him?

Ah, that fleeting time between the actual CHRISTmas holiday and New Years. Laced with festivity, anticipation, maybe resolutions?

As we bathe in the afterglow of celebrating His birth, we dare not lose sight of His purpose...to give Himself as a ransom for many.

The glorious gospel is not simply how we get saved/converted/born again; the gospel is what we are supposed to live and walk in.

Here's a reminder I find helpful...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It Is Not Over....

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with the flocks,
then the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal those broken in spirit,
to feed the hungry,
to release the oppressed,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among all peoples,
to make a little music with the heart…

And to radiate the Light of Christ,
every day, in every way, in all that we do and in all that we say.
Then the work of Christmas begins.

Howard Thurman

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Prayer for Jesus' "Birthday"

A gem from SCOTTY SMITH:

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11
     Dear Jesus, a most grateful and glorious “Happy Birthday!” to you. Though you have existed forever in joyful, intimate relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit, this is the day we celebrate your coming to us and for us.

     I join myriads of my brothers and sisters, throughout the world from every age, in celebrating the day angels “Harked!”…  shepherds ran… and Mary pondered the good news of great joy which fills my heart this early morning.

     Jesus, we praise you for being born in Bethlehem, the “house of bread.” We were a famished people, binge eating at many empty buffets, “spending money on that which is not bread.”But you came as the Bread of Life, and you brought the incomparable feast of the gospel to our souls. Now we are truly satisfied… now we are finally alive and we “delight in the richest of fare.” (Isa. 55:1-3)

     We praise you for entering our world in the “town of David,” Israel’s much loved shepherd-king. But David was a mere hint and whisper of who you are.

     Jesus, only you are the Good Shepherd—the one who laid down his life for his sheep. As surely as you were born in a stable, you were destined to offer your life for us as the Lamb of God—the perfect sacrifice for our sins. And now, alive forevermore, you shepherd us with relentless engagement and perpetual kindness. We are so well cared for.

     Jesus, only you are the King of kings… reigning over and working in all things, for your glory and our good. You are the ruler of all the kings of the earth… setting them up and sitting then down at your sovereign discretion. No other kingdom, but yours, is everlasting. Knowing these things to be true, we have a peace which passes all understanding.

     You are the long-time promised and much longed for Christ—the Messiah. We don’t have to look for another, for every promise of God finds its fulfillment—its unequivocal “Yes!” in you, Jesus. The joy this gives us is immeasurable.

     You are the Lordthe Lord of all lords, very God of very God. There’s no threat to your sovereignty, of any kind.  There’s no vexation, exasperation or consternation in you. This centers and settles us, Jesus, and makes us long for the Day when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that you are Lord, indeed, to the glory of God the Father.

     Happy Birthday, indeed, Jesus. You are so easy to love and so worthy to be adored. Now, help us busy ourselves today with loving and serving the people you’ve placed in our lives. So very Amen, we pray, in your matchless and merciful name.

A Great Mystery of Life

I love Mark Lowry and his humor. He is nuts! Thus a great mystery of life is how he came up with the words to this marvelous song (music by Buddy Greene):

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thursday Tozer Tidbit of Truth

“Many of us Christians have become extremely skillful in arranging our lives so as to admit the truth of Christianity without being embarrassed by its implications.  We arrange things so that we can get on well enough without divine aid, while at the same time ostensibly seeking it.  We boast in the Lord but watch carefully that we never get caught depending on Him.”
- A. W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Exchange = the Result of Accepting the Gift

“To be entitled to use another’s name, when my own name is worthless; to be allowed to wear another’s raiment, because my own is torn and filthy; to appear before God in another’s person,— the person of the Beloved Son,—this is the summit of all blessing.

"The sin-bearer and I have exchanged names, robes, and persons! I am now represented by Him, my own personality having disappeared; He now appears in the presence of God for me. All that makes Him precious and dear to the Father has been transferred to me.

"His excellency and glory are seen as if they were mine; and I receive the love, and the fellowship, and the glory, as if I had earned them all. So entirely one am I with the sin-bearer, that God treats me not merely as if I had not done the evil that I have done; but as if I had done all the good which I have not done, but which my substitute has done.

"In one sense I am still the poor sinner, once under wrath; in another I am altogether righteous, and shall be so for ever, because of the Perfect One, in whose perfection I appear before God. Nor is this a false pretense or a hollow fiction, which carries no results or blessings with it.

"It is an exchange which has been provided by the Judge, and sanctioned by law; an exchange of which any sinner upon earth may avail himself and be blest.”
–Horatius Bonar

Monday, December 20, 2010

Accepting the Gift Results in Transformed Attitude

SIGNIFICANT INSIGHT FROM JOHN PIPER:

When a person is born anew and experiences repentance, his attitude about Jesus changes. Jesus himself becomes the central focus and supreme value of life. Before the new birth happens and repentance occurs, a hundred other things seem more important and more attractive: health, family, job, friends, sports, music, food, sex, hobbies, retirement. But when God gives the radical change of new birth and repentance, Jesus himself becomes our supreme treasure.
Therefore, his demand that we come to him is not burdensome. It means coming to the one who has become everything to us. Jesus did not come into the world mainly to bring a new religion or a new law. He came to offer himself for our eternal enjoyment and to do whatever he had to do—including death—to remove every obstacle to this everlasting joy in him. “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11) . . .
Make no mistake, there is a yoke and a burden when we come to Jesus (there would be no demands if this were not true), but the yoke is easy, and the burden is light.
 

Holy, Holy, Holy...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Fresh Rendition

It's almost CHRISTmas eve...and you are so familiar with the story...but this is worth five minutes...if you have kids let them watch also!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Rejoice in the Blessings...Regardless...

It's gotten a lot of air and net time; but perhaps you've not seen this video to a Matthew West song...Whatever we go through, we who know Christ and are known by Him travel not alone...most of us can't relate to the story contained in the song...need to focus on the good that surrounds us...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Leading Question

Just started reading the book The God Who is There by D. A. Carson. Reading it for two reasons..everything I've read by Carson stretches and edifies me; and virtually every blogger I subscribe to has recommended it as one of the best books of '10)...

Here is an early quote as he discusses the various Christian and non-Christian ideas regarding creation (read the whole paragraph to get the context of the concluding question):

"Even if your understanding of origins belongs to the dominant modern paradigm in which our entire known universe developed out of a big bang that took place something like fifteen billion years ago from an unimaginably condense mass and became our universe, there is an obvious question to ask. Whether or not you subscribe to the view that this big bang took place under the guidance of God, sooner or later you are forced to ask the question, 'Where did that highly condensed material come from?'"

Thursday Tozer Tidbit of Truth

“The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. He has accepted God’s estimate of his own life: In himself, nothing; In God, everything. He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring.”
- A.W. Tozer, Man: The Dwelling Place of God

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Do Our Church Testimonies Empower Satan?

As someone who came to salvation late in life, in jail enroute to prison, I resonate deeply with this important word from Russell Moore:


Personal testimonies, as part of Christian worship, are a good thing to do. And I think we need more of them. I wonder, though, if sometimes our testimonies might unintentionally empower Satan rather than combat him.

By a “testimony,” of course, I mean a believer’s sharing of the story of how he or she came to faith in Christ. Almost all evangelical churches have something along these lines. If not a verbal testimony from behind the pulpit, these stories still tend to show up. Sometimes they’re in a video shown during the offering or in an illustration in the pastor’s preaching. Sometimes they’re in our evangelical magazines or websites. And, of course, we perhaps most often find our testimonies in what we sing together (from “Amazing Grace” right on down).

"Dramatic Stories Only Please"

The problem is, though, that we often choose to highlight those testimonies that we deem to be “dramatic.” We feature the testimony of the ex-alcoholic who says “Since I met Jesus, I never drink” or the ex-gambling addict who notes that he never missed the poker table. Conversions like this happen sometimes and we ought to give praise to God when they do.

But these kinds of liberation are no more miraculous than the far more typical testimony of the repentant drunk who says, “Every time I hear a clink of ice in a glass I tremble with desire, but God is faithful in keeping me sober.”

A False Image of the Christian Life

Now, I know why we shy away from such seemingly tentative testimonies. After all, the whole point is to give hope to those who are struggling. We don’t want the drunk out there to see his future as, potentially, a lifelong grappling with the temptation to drink. Isn’t it far more freeing for him to hear the testimony of the one who says, with the old gospel song, “It was there by faith I received my sight, and now I am happy all the day”?

The Christ life never promises freedom from temptation. The Christ life promises freedom from slavery to sin, and from the condemnation that comes with it. This is presented in the gospel as a skirmish, from now until resurrection from the dead. If the Scriptures are this honest, we should be too.



Why Super-Testimonies Lead to Despair

Moreover, there are multiple people in our audiences, and we ought to protect them with the vision of the gospel we project. The repentant drunk who still wants to drink might conclude he’s not really received by Jesus; that his temptation is evidence that he’s predestined to alcoholism. That couple who have cut up all their credit cards, because they know they’ll spend every line of credit they have if they don’t, might conclude they’re not “spiritual” enough to follow Christ because they’re still at war with their appetites.

If Satan cannot draw people into sin, and thus into death, he’ll draw them into despair because their fight against temptation hasn’t dissipated. Don’t leave those people with a message of condemnation, when the gospel promises freedom.

Yes, celebrate those who have escaped the grip of sin. But don’t just pretend that this means an escape from temptation. Even the ex-drunk who doesn’t want alcohol anymore (and there aren’t many) just has his temptation moving to some other area. Let’s celebrate too the sinner who wants what he doesn’t want to want, but who dies to self, picks up his cross, and follows Christ.

The Lifelong Fight Against Sin

It might be that God frees someone instantly from the appetite for whatever he or she is drawn toward. But typically he instead enables one to fight it. This might go on for forty days, for forty years, or for an entire lifetime. That’s all right. In the meantime, we’re going to be there to bear burdens for one another.

Satan hates the gospel, and he hates the testimony of grace. Let’s make sure our people (and their demonic accusers) hear the whole message. Temptation isn’t instantly nullified by conversion. Even our sinless Lord Jesus was tempted. The grace of God leads us to Christ, and then joins us to him in the war zone.

That’s painful. Crucifixion always is. But it’s grace, and, however strong the fight, it’s amazing.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Heroic Parable

Watch this brief video of a physical rescue...then parallel it with the Christian's mandate to share the gospel...the people on the platform are concerned, even frantic...but only one jumps into harms way to effect the rescue. Rather symbolic, huh?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Never Lose Focus on Cross

“There is nothing more important in Christian theology than our theology of the cross. We must speak clearly that the heart of the gospel is the good news of divine self-satisfaction through self-substitution. Never compromise on the cross. Never dilute the message of the cross.
And never stop glorying in the cross where Christ accepted the penalties that should belong to us so that we can claim the blessings that would otherwise belong only to Him.”
–Kevin DeYoung

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Just a Cool Picture

Last week the Hagers and the Johnny Williams family joined up to enjoy a trip to the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City, the World War I museum, and the (obligatory) CHRISTmas lights around Kansas City. During the trip the following photo of daughter Janelle and good friend Sarah Williams was taken at the top of the Liberty Memorial tower:

Techy Talent yuleTide Tunes

Whatever Works?

I don't totally buy into the "treatment" Lucy promotes; but I do know that it is better to focus on other things and other people rather than dwell on our own discomforts...We do need to "examine ourselves" but introspection in and of itself can become a self-dug hole into condemnation rather than Spirit-conviction...
Peanuts

Thursday Tozer Tidbit of Truth

“Do you realize that most men play at religion as they play at games? Religion itself being of all games the one most universally played. The Church has its “fields” and its “rules” and its equipment for playing the game of pious words. It has its devotees, both laymen and professionals, who support the game with their money and encourage it with their presence, but who are no different in life or character from many who take no interest in religion at all. As an athlete uses a ball so do many of us use words: words spoken and words sung, words written and words uttered in prayer. We throw them swiftly across the field; we learn to handle them with dexterity and grace-and gain as our reward the applause of those who have enjoyed the game. In the games men play there are no moral roots. It is a pleasant activity which changes nothing and settles nothing, at last. Sadly, in the religious game of pious words, after the pleasant meeting no one is basically any different from what he had been before!”

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What a Great Mixture of Great Movies!

Perhaps some on both sides ("Princess Bride"/"Star Wars") will consider this close to blaspheme, but I rather like it a lot:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Profound Sobering Sentence

When I die, I shall then have my greatest grief and my greatest joy; my greatest grief, that I have done so little for Jesus, and my greatest joy, that Jesus has done so much for me. —William Grimshaw

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Can You Relate?

It's only been a while since the holiday we call Thanksgiving...prayerfully Snoopy's situation isn't common to us:
Peanuts

Friday, December 3, 2010

Because of the Resurrection:

“If Jesus had not been raised, none of the following things, listed  in order of their appearance in Acts, would have been possible:
In summary, because of  his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus has brought God close to us.”
— Adrian Warnock

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thursday Tozer Tidbit of Truth

Just a small bite of Tozer provides plenty to chew on:


"In the Church of God two opposite dangers are to be recognized and avoided; they are a cold heart and a hot head."

A. W. Tozer