Saturday, April 30, 2011

Can I Plant Some Seeds In Your House?

Someone recommended Seeds Family Worship music to us about a year and a half ago. I forgot about it. About three weeks ago, in a comment on a post, Julie Fuller recommended their music again. This time I ordered two CD's.

Seeds of Faith

And The Power of Encouragement

They're great! Their songs are Bible verses set to music. And it's not cheesy or annoying music. It's music that the adults enjoy hearing as well. And everyone in the family memorizes the verses in the process and hides more of God's precious and powerful Word in their hearts!

So, if you have kids (or even if you are getting older and want to memorize more Scripture but have trouble doing it), I would highly recommend Seeds Family Worship!

One more cool thing about their CD packaging... They put two CD's in every package. Which means, you have one for your family and one to share. the first two families (from Bethel - I'd rather hand them to you than ship them to you) that let me know in the comments, I'll give you the extra CD from one of ours.

If you end up ordering anything from Seeds, enter BTW20 when you check out and you'll receive 20% off.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Matthew 11:28-30 in the Old Testament

While we're on the character of God in the Old Testament, I finished reading Leviticus this morning. For many of you, Leviticus is not the book that thrills your heart when you see it up next on your Bible reading plan. It's easy to get lost in the maze of sacrificial laws, mold protocol, and skin disease.

But don't miss the grace of this important book! One way to not miss it is to step back and see the big picture. This summary is a great example of that big picture. Another way is to savor the character of God revealed in Leviticus 26:1-13. I read it this morning and was SO ENCOURAGED. It's like the Matthew 11:28-30 of the Old Testament. One Story. One God. Full of grace from start to finish. Amen.

B.O.M. for May-June

I've read a few excerpts from Tempted and Tried by Russell Moore and I can't wait to read the rest! It's going to be our Book of the Month(s) for May and June. Here's a little video trailer that should whet your appetite.

"Tempted and Tried" Trailer - Russell Moore from Crossway on Vimeo.

One completely unimportant observational note: see if you can read the guy's shirt when he's getting breakfast for his daughter. I think it says "Wheaton Park District." We used to live in that Wheaton and be members of that Park District. Crossway Publishers is located in Wheaton, a stone's throw from Wheaton College.

Lies and Propaganda!

You've probably heard critics of Christianity and the Bible make the point that the God of the Old Testament is vengeful and vindictive. Here's how one particularly vocal atheist put it:
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. (Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, 31)
Some critics proceed to contrast this "observation" of the God of the Old Testament with the teachings of Jesus on loving enemies and turning the other cheek. All of which is intended to prove that Christianity is full of contradictions and inconsistencies.

Vocal atheists and skeptics aside, many sincere Christians and curious Bible readers also struggle with the apparent tensions and/or contradictions between the "wrathful God of the Old Testament" and the "loving God of the New Testament."
  • Did God change from Old Testament times to New Testament times? 
  • Did God become more loving over time?
  • Does God the Father have a hair-trigger temper and Jesus the Son a meek and mild disposition? 
You get the idea. Maybe you've struggled with this.

Okay, all that to say, "Go and read Nehemiah 9." I was reading it recently and was so encouraged by the character of God that is revealed there. All that stuff about God being vindictive with a hair-trigger temper -- it's all lies and propaganda! Soak in the (Old Testament!) truth of Nehemiah 9 and you will see the I-am-the-same-yesterday-today-and-forever character of God beautifully revealed in this recounting of his merciful dealings with his people throughout many generations.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

WSSID Ch 8 - Stubborn Grace summary

Is grace like a Jane Austen plot?
Grace is often seen, wrongly, as playing a role much like that of romance in a Jane Austen plot. Grace gets us to the altar with God. It’s a mysterious, powerful force that draws us out of our sinful isolation and deposits us into sweet relationship with God through Christ. But once grace saves, the story’s over.
You come across this sometimes in salvation testimonies. Great detail is presented about sins committed as an unbeliever. This is followed by God’s miraculous intervention, deep joy in the new birth, and then—well, role the credits. Grace accomplishes the amazing, impossible task of delivering me safely to the altar of conversion, but then it rides off to save someone else, leaving me to fend for myself. Is that really the way it is? (137)
No! In fact, that perspective elicits some exclamation points of warning from the Apostle Paul.

Grace is the daily power by which we change and grow and live. Grace is the fuel for our souls. Consider how the Apostle Paul describes the effect of grace on his life, recounted in 1 Corinthians 15:10.
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain (or "without effect"). On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. (emphasis mine)
The Christian life is BY GRACE, through faith -- not just at the beginning, but from beginning to end.

Key Idea: Sanctifying grace is good news. It’s the news that God gives persistent grace to run the race.

Key Text: Titus 2:11-14
These verses carry good news! There is a glorious sequel to saving, justifying grace. The grace that justifies (declaring us holy in God’s sight) becomes the grace that sanctifies (making us ever more holy in daily life). It is a prevailing, unstoppable grace that doesn’t close up shop the day after the sinner’s prayer. It’s the power of God to help us overcome sin, and a potent weapon in the fierce struggles that accompany life after the honeymoon of conversion. Conversion, like a wedding, is hardly the end of the story—it’s just the beginning! (138)
This IS good news…
Think about the areas where you know you need to grow—the hair-trigger critical response, the self-pity party, the fermenting anger or discontent. God promises persistent grace to help you run away from the sin and finish well. “Human sin is stubborn,” says Cornelius Plantinga, “but not as stubborn as the grace of God and not half so persistent, not half so ready to suffer to win its way.” Stubborn, persistent, unrelenting grace that changes us. Now that’s good news indeed. (139)
Finally, when we receive and seek this grace, we begin to export this grace (e.g. Eph. 4:29)! And exporting this precious commodity into the lives of others (like, say, your spouse) tends to have quite an effect.

WSSID Ch 8 - Stubborn Grace

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Gospel Coalition 2011

Beth and I are attending The Gospel Coalition conference this week in Chicago, IL. I said yesterday in church that I would link to The Gospel Coalition website so that you could learn more about this movement.

There are so many resources available on the site, it might be a bit overwhelming. First, if you'd like to know what The Gospel Coalition (hereafter "TGC") is and what it stands for, go here. Watch the brief video by Mark Dever (pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Wash. D.C.) and read the Preamble below the video. Notice also the two other tabs beside the "Preamble" tab. Click on the "Confessional Statement" for the doctrinal foundation. Click on "Theological Vision for Ministry" for the philosophy of ministry that drives and guides TGC.

If you'd like to watch any of the main sessions of this year's conference live, look here. If you'd like to listen to past conferences, you can look here for the 2007 conference and here for the 2009 conference.

If you are interested in checking out other resources the site holds, click on the "Resources" tab on the main page and you'll quickly realize there is more available than you could ever want. One click on the "Sermons" link on the left side of the "Resources" tab and you'll see that they now (as of the time I'm writing this) have almost 45,000 sermons! Now, you will probably not listen to 45,000 sermons in your entire lifetime, but you might be memorizing and meditating on a portion of Scripture and want to hear a few sermons on it during your morning commute. You  can go here, click on your passage, and likely have access to several sermons on your passage. How about some book reviews? Here you go. Looking for a few good blogs? From the main page, put your cursor on the "Blogs" tab at the top and a drop down list of 9 blogs appears.

That's (probably more than) enough for now. Please join us in praying that God would use this conference in a powerful way. May HIS GOSPEL "spread rapidly and be glorified" in the US and around the globe because of what happens this week in Chicago.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Luke 6:26 As A "Life Verse"

How many people do you know with Luke 6:26 as their life verse? Probably none...unless you know Derek Webb (singer/songwriter and former member of Caedmon's Call). Good food for thought.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sing the Psalms - Help from Nathan Clark George

I was recently reminded of how much I like the (only) two songs I have by an artist named Nathan Clark George. They were offered here as free downloads several months ago. They are his attempt at putting Psalms 111 and 24 to music.

Many of the Psalms were intended to be sung (just think of how many musical notations there are in the superscriptions - e.g. "to the choirmaster" and "with stringed instruments" and "for the flutes"). Nathan Clark George can help you sing (and thus remember, and pray) the Psalms.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011