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Thursday, December 31, 2020

Prayer for the New Year

 


Almighty God, lover of Mankind, 
Grant us protection, guidance, inspiration, and peace in the New Year.
Strengthen our resolve to obey your commandments.
Purify our hearts.
Conform us more and more to the image of your beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
May we trust in your goodness
and extend what we receive from your bounty to others with generous hearts.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Amen.


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Expect Opposition. Stand Firm!


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In 2 Timothy 3, Christians receive this warning: “. . . in the last days perilous times shall come.”

This must raise questions in the reader's mind. What is meant by the last days and the perilous times?  Is Paul speaking eschatologically, or is he describing his present situation? 

Are the perils universally experienced, or directed toward a select group? 

What is the fate of those who find pleasure in opposing the Gospel? 

Consider the entire passage:

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.

9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their's also was.


It is clear from verse 8 that the righteous of the Old Testament met with opposition. Jannes and Jambres were occultists who opposed Moses's authority and they were defeated (Exodus 7:11; 8:7).

The methods of the ungodly to gain control fit every period of history. In every age, there are pleasure-seeking egoists who insinuate themselves into the lives of peaceful people to stir trouble and encourage sinful behaviors. Christians are told to turn away from such people. 

Imagine what the Apostle Paul would think of "Christian" denominations that normalize homosexual "marriage" or of women who thrust themselves into positions of spiritual authority while dismissing the Bible as out-of-date.

In every age, the righteous can expect opposition from those who delight in spiritual rebellion. Stand firm. Be of good courage because their ultimate defeat is certain.





Wednesday, December 23, 2020

How Far Is It To Bethlehem?


By Frances Alice Blogg Chesterton (wife of G.K. Chesterton)


How far is it to Bethlehem?
Not very far.
Shall we find the stable room
Lit by a star?

Can we see the little Child?
Is He within?
If we lift the wooden latch
May we go in?

May we stroke the creatures there
Ox, ass, or sheep?
May we peep like them and see
Jesus asleep?

If we touch His tiny hand
Will He awake?
Will He know we’ve come so far
Just for His sake?

Great kings have precious gifts
And we have naught
Little smiles and little tears
Are all we have brought.

For all weary children
Mary must weep
Here, on His bed of straw
Sleep, children, sleep.

God in His mother’s arms
Babes in the byre
Sleep, as they sleep who find
Their heart’s desire.



Related reading: Frances Alice Blogg Chesterton


Thursday, December 17, 2020

Discipleship is a "Team Game"

 

Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941)


Evelyn Underhill was an English writer who published 39 books and more than 350 articles and reviews. Her publications include three novels, two books of verse, a number of works on philosophy and religion, and various essays.She is best known for her work on mysticism and the practical disciplines of the Christian life. 

She attended King’s College for Women, London, where she read history and botany. She became a skilled bookbinder and enjoyed yachting with her father and her husband.

In 1921, Evelyn became a member of the Church of England (Anglican). Three years later she began to conduct spiritual retreats. 

She was opposed to the Spiritualism (the occult) that was increasingly popular in England at that time. In 1937, the Archbishop of Canterbury formed a committee “to discuss the relationship, if any, between spiritualism and the traditional teachings of the Anglican Church” and Underhill was one of the committee members. However, she later withdrew, stating that she was “very strongly opposed to spiritualism... especially to any tendency on the part of the Church to recognize or encourage it.”

What follows is an excerpt from Underhill's "Light of Christ" published in 1944. It is an example of her practical Christianity.

"Books," said St. Augustine after his conversion, "could not teach me charity." We still keep on thinking they can. We do not realize nearly enough the utter distinctiveness of God and the things of God. Psychology of religion cannot teach us prayer, and ethics cannot teach us love. Only Christ can do that and He teaches by the direct method, in and among the circumstances of life. He does not mind about our being comfortable. He wants us to be strong, able to tackle life and be Christians, be apostles in life, so we must be trained by the ups and downs, the rough and tumble of life. Team games are compulsory in the school of Divine Love; there must be no getting into a corner with a nice spiritual book."

 

Related Reading: An Evelyn Underhill Poem (MISSA CANTATA)

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Christ the Lamb

 

By Sherrie Morrison

Christmas is the season

When we celebrate Christ’s birth.

What we oft fail to remember

Is just why He came to earth.

His life would be fresh manna

Offered freely from above.

His death would buy our pardon

When we flee to Him in love.

With sacrament we see Him

In broken bread and wine.

Now the stable is a palace

Where His children kneel and dine.

This gift recalls the manger

Where our savior newborn lay. 

 This bread recalls the message

Christ, the lamb, was born this day.


Revelation 5:6-14



Saturday, December 12, 2020

Advent Hymn of St. Ambrose




This poetic prayer by St. Ambrose of Milan was translated from the original Latin text by Ephrem Hugh Bensusan.


Christe, redemptor omnium

Christ, Redeemer of all,
out of the Father, and with the Father one,
alone before the beginning
born ineffably.

Thou art the light, the brilliance of the Father,
Thou art the perennial hope of all,
to Whom Thy servants in the world
direct the estate of their prayers.

Remember, O Author of Salvation,
how in taking on our flesh
from the unstained Virgin,
Thou wast born in our form.

So doth today testify,
as well the circling years,
that Thou alone hast come from the Father
for the Salvation of the world.

The sky, the earth, the sea,
and all that lieth therein,
to the Author of Thine Advent
chant exultantly in praise.

And also we, who
Thy holy blood hast ransomed,
on this day of Thy Nativity
join together in a new hymn.

Glory be to Thee, O Lord,
Thou Who was born of a virgin,
with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
unto ages everlasting.



Saturday, December 5, 2020

INDEX of Topics



Current as of 13 September 2022


Advent
A Disciple's Guide to Bible Study
A Clarifying Search of the Scriptures
The Living Word Transforms Lives
The Gospel for Seekers
Two Powerful Words: "I Believe"
Melchizedek: A Type of Christ
The Incarnation of the Son of God
Conforming the Mind to Scripture
The New Testament: What Authority Without the Inspiration Doctrine?
Christ's Triumphal Resurrection: Victory over Death
The Second Triumph of Christ's Resurrection: Redemption!
The Third Triumph of Christ's Resurrection: A New People
The Fourth Triumph of Christ's Resurrection: An Entirely New Self-concept
The Fifth Triumph of Christ's Resurrection: God's Power for Living
The Sixth Triumph of Christ's Resurrection: A New Glorified Body
The Seventh Triumph of Christ's Resurrection
The Eighth Triumph of Christ's Resurrection
The Breath of God: Why Study Greek?
The Veracity of the Holy Bible
Meditation of Luke 22: Glory
Meditation on His Glory, Part II


Cartoons
Animal Pranks on the Ark
Adam's Bad Dream
Genesis is Spelled With a G
On the Lighter Side
Noah's Dog
Call it a day!

Christian Ministry

Christmas

Cross
Effective Discipleship (Part 1)
Becoming a Fruitful Disciple
Passionate, Patient and Faithful
Commissioned Involves Giving Account
Thomas à Kempis on Discipleship
Discipleship Before Church Growth
Are You in the Fold?
Merton, Bonhoeffer and Kierkegaard on Discipleship
Pastors Need to Disciple and Honor Vocations
The Importance of Teaching for Discipleship
The Importance of Follow-up in Making Disciples
What is the Context of Biblical Discipleship?
All Need to Repent
Forgiveness: Against Easy Believeism
Repentance Unto Life
All Need to Repent
Billy Graham on Discipleship
C.S. Lewis on Discipleship
Oswald Chambers on Discipleship
John Stott on Discipleship
Evelyn Underhill on Discipleship
Charles H. Spurgeon on Discipleship
Dwight L. Moody on Discipleship
Survey of the Fundamentals of Discipleship
Making Disciples: What Christian Students Need to Know
How to Build a Disciple-Making Church
Building a Disciple-Making Church
Discipleship and Church Mission Statements
C.S. Lewis Was a Thoroughly Converted Person
Larry Osborne: Thoughts on Discipleship
Who am I in Christ?
Living the Gospel, Part I
Living the Gospel, Part II
Forgiveness and Restoration (Part I)
Forgiveness Must Bring Forth Fruit (Part II)
Forgiveness is Not Enough! (Part III)
The Costs and Benefits of Christian Discipleship
Discipleship is Not Refurbished Religious Education
Discipleship Comes By Listening
Taking Your Spiritual Temperature
Are First Commandments Neglected?
Cultivate in Me the Fruits of the Spirit

God With Us!
The First Triumph of Christ's Resurrection
The Second Triumph of Christ's Resurrection
The Breath of God: Why study Greek?
The Disciple's Cross: Progressively Exchanging Life
Book 1: Growth of the Faithful (Acceptance of Foundational Precepts)
Book 2: Growth of the Faithful (Principles of Contentment)
Book 3: Growth of the Faithful (Principles of Development)
Book 4: Grown of the Faithful (Principles of Endurance)
Book 5: Growth of the Faithful (Principles of Expression)
Book 6: Growth of the Faithful (Principles of Ministry)

Marriage
Part I: Christian Marriage
Part II: Married Love
Part III: The Many Facets Of Christian Married Love
Part IV: Living in Harmony
Part V: Loving for a Lifetime
Part VI: Married Life: Continued Harmony

Military Service
Military Service in Vietnam: Why Volunteer?
Walking With Christ Through Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome
When the Mortars Fell
Mercy in the Midst
On Mercy and the Number 13
Letter to a Christian Service Person in Desert Storm

Mortality/Death

Peace
A Life Grounded in Prayer
Pray for Those Sickened by Coronavirus
The Prayers of Peter Marshall
Prayer as a Spiritual Lifeline
The Lt's Godly Prayer
George Washington's Prayer
Prayers Not Answered? Why?
Unanswered Prayer, Part I
Unanswered Prayer, Part II
Unanswered Prayer, Part III
Unanswered Prayer, Part IV

The Priesthood
Jesus our Great High Priest
God as Male Priest
Thoughts on the Priesthood

The Psalms
Praying the Psalms
Introduction to Praying the Psalms
Praying Psalm 1: The Way of the Righteous
Praying Psalm 2: Kiss the Son
Praying Psalm 3: God is My Shield
Praying Psalm 4: Let Me be Approved of Thee, O God
Praying Psalm 5: Renew a Right Spirit Within Me
Praying Psalm 6: When Weeping Leads to Victory
Praying Psalm 7: The Basis of Boldness
Praying Psalm 8: Worship in Admiration and Humility
Praying Psalm 9: Hope for the Oppressed
Praying Psalm 10: Deliverance from the Wicked
Praying Psalm 11: The Foundation of Life
Praying Psalm 12: Lamenting the Lack of Godliness
Praying Psalm 13: Faith's Triumph
Praying Psalm 14: Remembering We Are Sinners
Praying Psalm 15: Fellowship With God
Praying Psalm 16: God-Pleasing Godliness
Praying Psalm 17: Progression Sanctification
Praying Psalm 18: God's Power to Deliver
Praying Psalm 19: Witness for Worship
Praying Psalm 20: Personal and National Revival
Praying Psalm 21: Worship and Thanksgiving
Praying Psalm 22: The Hope of Christ - The Prophetic Vision
Praying Psalm 23: Daily Living with the Good Shepherd
Praying Psalm 24: Inspired by Creation, we worship the Creator
Praying Psalm 25: Lifting Up One's Soul
Praying Psalm 26: God's Affirmation of the Accused
Praying Psalm 27: Waiting on the Lord
Praying Psalm 28: Desperately Seeking in Prayer
Praying Psalm 29: God's Power and Glory Seen in Nature
Praying Psalm 30: A Disciple's Heart Desire
Praying Psalm 31: Humbly Waiting on the Lord
Praying Psalm 32: The Beatitude of the Redeemed
Praying Psalm 33: A National Prayer for Revival
Praying Psalm 34: God Redeems
Praying Psalm 35: Friends and Foes
Praying Psalm 36: Finding Holiness in God's Presence
Praying Psalm 37: Trusting the Lord
Praying Psalm 38: The Suffering Sinner
Praying Psalm 39: The Discouraged Disciple
Praying Psalm 40: The Sustained Servant
Praying Psalm 41: The Sick Servant
Praying Psalm 42: The Dry Disciple
Praying Psalm 43: The Questioning Disciple
Praying Psalm 44: A Dependent Disciple
Praying Psalm 45: A Disciple in Love
Praying Psalm 46: The Disciple's Refuge
Praying Psalm 47: The King's Disciple
Psalm 48: The Disciple's Stronghold
Psalm 49: My God and My Redeemer

The Resurrection
The Goal of Discipleship
The Many Triumphs of Christ's Resurrection
Hallelujah! Christ is Risen

Repentance



Exchanging the Old for the New



Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ changes one's self concept. We no longer belong to ourselves or to the world. We belong to the household of the eternal God through Jesus Christ. This increases the challenges we face in the world. We can expect to encounter aggression, persecution, slander, and abuse.

The Apostle Paul exhorts his readers to think of themselves as being reborn from the dead. Our lives are an expression of being resurrected in Him. We live as servants of the One who gives us eternal life. 

"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake the same shall save it." (Luke 9:23, 24).

The old soul or life is exchanged for the new life He came to give (John 1:12). By His grace we exchange the old for the new life in Christ. 

Christ’s soul life exchange sounds unreasonable or improbable to those who are perishing, but the disciple looks forward to fulfillment of the work God has begun in us. The early disciples longed for the Kingdom age because of its blessed nature. In that age we will experience true shalom and perfect communion with the Holy Trinity!

The Lord Jesus wanted his first disciples to recognize Him as the source of their lifes, blessings and hope. He bid them, “Come and see” (John 1:39). Those who came followed Him. Their lives were gradually changed. They exchanged thie old life for the new and entered into His righteousness, being justified by faith. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me...” (John 10:27). He promises that none can snatch us from his fold. We are secure in His care.




Thursday, November 26, 2020

Be Aware of Spiritual Wickedness




In this life "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). God’s power and authority exist independent of human policy, government, and culture, and those who are “in Christ” belong to his eternal realm. We believe in the “visible and invisible” and sometimes find ourselves in situations where we must confront the demonic.

Participation in occult activities is equivalent to walking into enemy territory. What may seem benign at first, is spiritually and physically dangerous. The Devil never misses an opportunity to corrupt and destroy through manipulation, lies, and distortions. Those who scoff at supernatural realities are easy targets. Those beguiled by the supernatural become easy prey.

Christians are especially vulnerable. We should refrain from use of Tarot cards and Ouija boards, never participate in séances or shamanic rituals, never purchase occult objects, or visit places that the local populations perceive as inhabited by spirits. The Ouija board uses an iron-shaped “planche” which is a shamanic device. In rural India it is hung from the branch of a “sacred” tree and used for divination.

John 4:1 advises: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Unfortunately, the trance states that Pentecostals praise as a “gift of tongues” or being “slain in the spirit” mimic the trances of occultists. We should beware of spiritual counterfeits.

We should avoid forums and groups that explore “spirituality” since this term never refers to orthodox Christianity. Preoccupation with witches, ghosts, and movies or games about the supernatural suggests demonic influence. Anything that incites fear is not of the Lord Jesus Christ.





Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Effective Discipleship (Part 1)

 


Effective discipleship involves (1) understanding the biblical world view and fully embracing the Gospel. It also entails (2) loving God's kingdom more than this world and more than the praise of men. It expresses itself in (3) humility and love for others, even the unlovable. 

In this post, we consider the biblical world view and what it means to fully embrace the Gospel.

The Creator God is sovereign over all and through his Christ fills all things. The Apostle Paul speaks of this when he uses the Greek term "pleroma." The Bible's overarching message is that the God who is beyond the constraints of time and space fulfills all things even as He fills all things.

God self-reveals through multiple means, including the order of creation, prophets, teachers, sacred texts, and dreams.

There is a distinction between Heaven and Earth; between Creator and Creature; and between Male and Female. These entities are not equal. The biblical world view rejects dualism. Instead, it presents binary sets in which one entity of the set is recognized as superior to the other. We pray that God's will may be done on Earth as it is in Heaven because in Heaven there is perfection. Even the atheist recognizes the superior authority of the Creator by his denial of God's existence. Among humans, it is observed that the male is larger and stronger than the female. 

This binary world view is largely overlooked in Christian circles. However, it is very important that it be understood. It clarifies God's action in stooping to save. Through the Incarnation of the Son of God, the one God and Father reveals himself primarily and essentially in a masculine way. The weak cannot save themselves. Only the Creator is strong to save!

The power of God is shown in the Resurrection. Those who are "in Christ" receive in their baptism a promise that they too will be raised on the last day. Effective discipleship requires that we live in that hope and share that hope with others. It also requires that we be deeply grounded in the biblical world view.


Related reading: "Binary" is a Bad Word These Days; God's Provision For Victory; God's Strategy for the Church


Sunday, November 8, 2020

Hardness of Heart

 




Jesus was angered by the hard hearts of the Pharisees who criticized Him for healing a man on the Sabbath. 

"And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand." (Mark 3:5)

A poor man in the synagogue had a withered right hand and Jesus had compassion on him. He chose to heal the man on the Sabbath and the reaction of the Pharisees revealed their hardness of heart.

Hardness of heart does not happen all at once. It comes from bitterness, ambition, greed, and a rejection of the glorious presence of God. The hard of heart are unable to notice the virtue and the beauty in others. They lack compassion while they pretend to care. They exhibit ossified hearts while they signal virtue. They are blind to the moment of true glory because the glory they seek is temporal and fleeting.

Kingdoms rise and fall. The most popular rulers and political leaders hold their positions for a brief moment. Those who love the praise of others and positions of power do not have their minds set on the eternal. As the Apostle Paul explained, “. . . the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Cor 4:18).

Writing to the Christians in Ephesus, the Apostle Paul warns them: "So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed." (Ephesians 4:17-19)

What Paul describes applied to the Jerusalem elite whose power was threatened by the coming of Jesus Messiah. 

At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.”

Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.” 
(Luke 22:66-72)

That right hand is the place of infinite glory, power, and beauty. That place is not reached through ambition and the praise of men, but by the Cross.

Many Jews wanted a restoration of the glory days of David and Solomon. Their notion of the kingdom to come involved military victory and a Messianic age that did not require repentance and the embrace of the Way of the Cross. They had rejected God’s call for repentance in preparation for the promised Kingdom. Some went out to John the Baptist in the wilderness, but according to Luke 7:30, “the Pharisees and lawyers rejected God’s counsel against them, being not baptized of him..." 

If miracles could soften the hard heart surely the Israelites in the wilderness would have repented of their callousness and ingratitude, but they did not. Neither did the Pharisees in the synagogue repent that day when Jesus healed the man with the withered hand. The hard heart always dismisses the glory of God shown forth in mercy.

Today let us search our own hearts and ask the Holy Spirit to expose the bitterness, anger, resentment, and pride that rob us of His glory.




Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Prayer for the Nation



ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Book of Common Prayer)


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Importance of Friendship


(The following story comes from an anonymous source.)


“One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my school walking home. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books.

I thought, "Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He really must be a nerd."

I had a weekend planned with parties and a football game, so I shrugged my shoulders and went on.

As I was watched, a bunch of kids ran toward him. They knocked his books out of his arms and tripped him. He landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying and landed in the grass about ten feet from him. He looked up and I saw terrible sadness in his eyes.

My heart went out to him. I jogged over to him and I saw a tear in his eye. As I handed him his glasses, I said, "Those guys are jerks!"

He looked at me and said, "Hey, thanks!" There was a big smile of gratitude on his face.

I helped him pick up his books, and as it turned out, he lived near me, so we walked together. I asked him why I had never seen him before, and he explained that he had been away at private school.  

We talked all the way home, and I carried some of his books. He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. We hung out all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him. He joined me and my friends for football and they liked him too.

Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, "Boy, you are gonna build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday!" He just laughed and handed me half the books.

Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. As we approached our senior year, we began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown, and I was going to Duke. We would always be friends, and the miles were never a problem. He was going to be a doctor, and I was going for business on a football scholarship.

Kyle was valedictorian of our class. I teased him again about being a nerd. He had to prepare a speech for graduation. I was so glad it wasn't me up there giving a speech. 

On graduation day, Kyle looked great. He was stronger and more confident. He really found his stride during high school. The girls found him attractive. He had more dates than I had and sometimes I was jealous.

That day I could see that he was nervous about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, "Hey, you'll be great!" He looked at me and smiled that same grateful smile I had seen on the first day we met.

As Kyle prepared to speak, he cleared his throat. I remember how he began:

"Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach...but mostly your friends. I am here to tell you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story about true friendship." 

I listened with disbelief as Kyle told the story of the day we met. He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn't have to do it later and was carrying all his stuff home. He looked at me and gave me a little smile.

"Thankfully, I was saved because a friend cared. He saved me from doing the unspeakable."

I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us about his weakest moment. His parents were looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile. Not until that moment did I realize how important it is to be a friend to someone in a moment of need." 

End