Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Fun: Church Sign of the Week

I was happy to stumble over this church sign on the web. Not original, but very relevant. The photo says it all.

Have a safe weekend!

HT: Ed Stetzer

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Gospel in Mexico

If you were asked to list the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, you would probably name nations in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. But I doubt you would include Mexico.
Last year the Pew Forum released a report indicating that social hostilities had remained low in the Americas (even below the global median), but increased from “moderate” to “high” in Mexico. In fact, for the first time in three years, Mexico returned at 38 to the World Watch List, an annual survey of the persecution of Christians around the world.
You can read the rest here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Happy Christian

The Happy Christian is a new book coming out by David Murray. You can read 20 quotes from it here, as part of Ed Stetzer's series on 20-quote book previews.

HT: David Murray and Ed Stetzer

Monday, February 23, 2015

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus

Every conversion is a miracle. There is no such thing as a boring testimony. Each story of coming to faith in Christ is an example of God invading the soul like a bolt of lightning, granting faith and repentance to a sinner in need. Moreover, we should praise God for the “boring” conversions. No Christian mom prays over her infant, “Lord, please give him an exciting testimony.”
And yet there is a reason Nabeel Qureshi’s spiritual autobiography, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity [interview], is such compelling reading. The heart sings to see God at work among Muslims. Though many are hostile to the gospel of Jesus Christ, God is faithful to reveal himself to the nations—and this includes our Muslim friends. Nabeel was one of them, and his story is profound.
You can read the rest here.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Fun: Hit-and-Run Incident Kills Deer

I'm appreciating random humor this morning. 

SAINT ALBANS, VT—Describing it as a terrible tragedy that has sent shockwaves throughout the region, sources confirmed Thursday that a hit-and-run driver struck and killed a prominent member of the local deer community.

Reports indicate that the respected and popular white-tailed doe, who was widely regarded as a generous, loving mother of two fawns, was returning home at dusk when she was hit by a driver in an SUV who immediately fled the scene after the fatal accident.

You can read the full article, including interviews with the local deer community, from the Onion article

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Scripture and Jazz

As someone who played in jazz bands for years, I found this to be a creative analogy.

God is the musician; Isaiah, Paul, and Peter are the various instruments he plays, each with its distinct sound.
Nobody listening to Louis Armstrong playing in a jazz club would have asked whether it was Louis or his trumpet making the music. The breath and tune came from Armstrong, but the trumpet was the instrument through which his breath flowed in order to become audible. Likewise, the biblical authors are instruments of revelation—a trumpet here and an oboe there—each making its own sound. But the musician, the skilled artist who fills them with his breath and ensures the tune is played correctly, is the Holy Spirit.
You can read the rest here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Prayer for Lent

A Prayer for A Gospel Inundated, Grace Soaked Lenten Season

     And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matt. 6:16-18 (ESV)
     Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Rev. 19:7 (NIV)
      Dear Jesus, it’s Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent. For the next forty days we have the privilege of fixing our gaze on you—the Author and Perfecter of our faith. For your glory and our growth, we ask you to overwhelm us with fresh mercies and irrepressible grace in the coming weeks.
     Don’t let this be a typical Lenten season, Jesus. Saturate and empower it with the gospel. It’s all about you, Jesus. It is all about your finished work—not out constant failings, and vain promises of doing better and doing more. Whatever fasting we may choose to practice, may it be as a betrothed Bride, not as gloomy hypocrites. Our deepest repentance is always born out of seeing more of your beauty, more of the gospel, more of you, Jesus.
     Indeed, Jesus, we begin Lent today anticipating our wedding, not our funeral. The law has been fulfilled and judgment is complete; the dowry has been paid in full and our wedding dress is your righteousness; the invitations have been sent out and the date has been secured. We praise, bless, and adore you.
     Over these next forty days intensify our hunger and fuel our hope. Break us that you might beautify us. Increase our love for holiness as you supersize our love for your glory. Free us from our idols, as you reveal their emptiness and silliness, in comparison with your beauty and bounty. So very Amen we pray, in your exalted and near name.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

C.S. Lewis Foresees Instagram?

HT: Samuel James

The man who truly and disinterestedly enjoys any one thing in the word, for its own sake, and without caring two pence what other people say about it, is by that very fact fore-armed against some of our subtlest modes of attack. You should always try to make the patient abandon the people or food or books he really likes in favour of the “best” people, the “right” food,” the “important” books. I have known  a human defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions.

Read his eerie and insightful interpretation of this excerpt from Screwtape Letters here.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Enjoying God's Goodness in Earthly Things

You might want to check out this book. Here's a snippet of the review:

I love music and movies. It’s not that I merely partake of them as routine hobbies; it’s that I relish opportunities to listen to music that tunes my affections in a multitude of ways. I get drawn into films where the narrative and character development are so profound that I’m sincerely saddened when it ends. I savor the creativity of the human spirit. Now, this review isn’t a debate into the prudence of watching or not watching certain films or listening or not listening to certain music. But the book under review, Joe Rigney’s The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts, certainly helps individuals learn why we enjoy anything at all.

You can read the rest here.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Fun: Bible Translation Party

I might be getting my seminary geek on right now, but I enjoyed stumbling upon this little satire scenario of Bible translations having dinner together.

You can read the piece here. Caution: There are some PG-13 terms.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Religious Violence is Un-American

Three Muslim students were murdered in North Carolina very early Tuesday morning. This is a saddening and tragic event. There are vigils being held all across the country, and I'm considering going to one here in Chicago.

This morning, I found a meditation on the event with some good points.

Like everyone else at NRO, I’m disgusted by the horrific murders of three young Muslims in North Carolina. We don’t yet know the motive. The killer was apparently a militant atheist who posted anti-Muslim and anti-Christian writings, and — as Jonah noted — was reportedly involved in an ongoing, petty dispute with the victims over parking. The murder is evil regardless of motive, but I want to take a moment to address three salient points if the murder was, in fact, wholly or partly religiously motivated.

You can read the rest here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Prayer for Resting in God's Work As We Do Our Work

HT: Scotty Smith

      It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Phil. 2:13 NIV)But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. (1 Cor. 15:10 NIV) The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. (Psalm 138:8 ESV)
     Dear heavenly Father, Oh, the blessed freedom to work without concern for merit or deserving, personal failure or self-aggrandizement. For the gospel has “trashed” every notion of wages (earned or lost), as the motivation for our obedience. Because of Jesus’ bold declaration, “It is finished,” we can now give ourselves to the unfinished business of your kingdom, with zero self-interest.
     Father, thank you for the “inside job” you’re accomplishing in us. Not only are you seeing to it that we work for your good pleasure, you’re actually giving us the will to do so—underscoring how utterly dependent we are on your Spirit’s work. Such good news doesn’t make us passive, but active, as we give ourselves to the things that matter most to you.
     Father, to whatever extent you have accomplished anything through me that’s been pleasing and honoring in your sight, I gladly affirm with Paul, it wasn’t me, but “the grace of God that was with me.” And looking ahead, my prayer remains the same. May your grace have even greatereffect, in me and through me. Free me to love your glory over my reputation; your transforming kingdom over my tiny fiefdom; your story of reconciliation and redemption, over my default mode of personal peace and no interruptions.
     Because I am confident you will “accomplish your purpose for me,” and because I am certain of your “steadfast love,” I want the rest of my days to be marked by gospel risks, not the rust of indifference, and by faith expressing itself in love and grace expressing itself in servanthood. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ bodacious and beautiful name. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

When Enemies Fall: Learning from King David

HT: Adrian Warnock

When a leader who has been bringing disrepute to the Church is removed from the scene, do you rejoice or mourn? Do you jump onto the blogging bandwagon circling like vultures over the corpse of someone’s ministry? Or do you grieve over what might have been and try and find positive things to say about the one who was once chosen and anointed by God?

You can read the rest here.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The New Greed

Kyle and I sat down at the restaurant, away from the children, yet I still couldn't relax and enjoy myself. I had been consistently distracted for weeks. Slumped at the table, I stared at him and tried to explain how I was feeling.
“I feel overrun with thoughts and emotions, many of them sad and discontented. My brain feels like it's being pulled in a million different directions. What is going on with me?”
After listening to my winding trail of thoughts for many minutes, Kyle replied, “You check e-mail a lot. You're on your phone a lot.”
You can read the rest here.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Friday Fun: Kid-Narrated Bible Videos

Thanks to my church's office manager for finding this!

It's like a church version of Kid Snippets, which I wrote about earlier.

HT: First Baptist Church of Marble Falls


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Real Exodus and Why It Matters

Dea / S. Vannini / Getty Images
Stumbled over this article this morning.
Does it matter whether or not the Exodus of Moses actually took place? In a recent screed in NewsweekKurt Eichenwald mocked the historicity of the Bible, questioning whether or not it was even possible to understand Scripture’s meaning at all. Rebuttals to the piece appeared immediately and forcefully. I, for one, noted the irony that such a poorly researched article passed muster at a magazine that once featured stellar religion reporting under legendary editor Kenneth Woodward. The controversy over Eichenwald’s article served to remind us that the Bible's truthfulness remains on the front burner of national debate.
And a new documentary will likely spur that debate. Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus, a film more than a decade in the making, appeared in about 700 US theaters last week. Directed and produced by Timothy P. Mahoney, it explores a central issue at the heart of the debate over the Bible’s historical reliability: whether or not Moses led Israel out of bondage in Egypt, through the Red Sea on dry ground, and into the wilderness of Shur (Ex. 15:22). Mahoney is not an Old Testament scholar, an archeologist, or a theologian. Rather, he is a lay evangelical Christian who admits he sometimes doubts that the Exodus was a real historical event. He appears on screen as himself, asking a difficult question: Can I trust the biblical text that I hold in my hands?
You can read the rest here.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

While the World Divides, the Church Kisses

A meditation on church unity.

Division. Separation. Segregation. Notice how normal and natural separation and division are to human society. We want to form relationships with those who are like us and to define ourselves in distinction from other people. We divide and separate from one another based on politics, music, clothing, education, accent, citizenship, and more.

Against this backdrop, the gospel speaks a counter-cultural message, a message that calls for disciples of Jesus to be made from all nations and then unites these different peoples into one community called the church. This community has such strong and vibrant unity it is best described as being “one body” (1 Cor. 12:13).

HT: Vermon Pierre

Monday, February 2, 2015

Ice Church

In honor of the cross-country blizzard, I thought I'd post some pics of an "ice church" in Romania.

You can read the article here.

May everyone affected by the blizzard stay warm and safe!

HT: Huffington Post