Monday, November 30, 2009

What Do We Want Most For Our Children?

"It is very grievous to see how some professedly Christian parents are satisfied so long as their children display cleverness in learning, or sharpness in business, although they show no signs of a renewed nature. If they pass their examinations with credit, and promise to be well fitted for the world’s battle, their parents forget that there is a superior conflict, involving a higher crown, for which the child will need to be fitted by divine grace, and armed with the whole armor of God. Alas, if our children lose the crown of life, it will be but a small consolation that they have won the laurels of literature or art." -Spurgeon


I preached on adoption yesterday in our morning service. For those who like to think about sermons after they are preached, here's a reminder of what we talked about.

Main point: If you've been adopted by God, have a heart for adopting children.

Texts: Galatians 4.1-7 and James 1.26-27

I also mentioned Ephesians 1, which is a good enough chapter to read in its entirety (it mentions God planning the adoption of people before time began) and the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1 (Joseph was the true father of Jesus, even as an adoptive father, because the Messiah's lineage is recorded through him rather than Mary).

Soon, the sermon will be up online so you can view it if you'd like.

A website that would be good for you to look at to learn/think more would be:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas Gift Idea

Before I forget, I came across a great gift idea for this Christmas for the students in our church. It's a devotional book called "Solo." You can check it out here.
Basically it is a New Testament devotional that has the reader go through four steps each day:
READ a passage.
THINK about its content.
PRAY about what God's revealed to you.
LIVE out the changes it calls for.

This Read, Think, Pray, Live strategy is one I've been trying to teach out students about. Check it out at the bookstore and see what you think. Could be what you need to help your child gain a fresher interest in God's Word. Maybe it could be something you even do together as a family (though the title seems to call for it to be a personal matter).

Note: The one part I don't particularly like about it is that it is designed around "the Message" which is a paraphrase of the Bible rather than a translation. It still retains the basic message of the texts very well, but takes some liberty in translation that I would not. That said, I really like how this is set up and think it could be a HUGE help for your children!

It's on sale at here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What Are We Really Doing Sunday Mornings?

I came across this article today and was really struck by his call to check our attitudes toward Sunday morning worship. Check it out...

Click here to read the full article. Here's an excerpt of it:

So back to your home church this upcoming Sunday. When you enter and the music begins, what are you more aware of? Is it the song set? the musicians? the mix? Does the worship band wow you? Does the routine bore you?

Or do you perceive something beyond all this?

Your church is one authentic manifestation of the entire people of God that right now is worshiping before the throne of God. That is the reality of new covenant worship. And when we begin to wrap our minds around that, there springs to mind a thousand reasons to rejoice, to praise, and to sing; and to renounce flippancy, self-display, selfishness, superficiality, sloppiness, and thoughtlessness.

Before the God who is a consuming fire, we don’t shuffle in casually. We don’t demand our artistic preferences. We don’t merely gather with our friends. We don’t merely sing together. As the people of God, we enter into the very presence of God.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pleasure vs. Sorrow

Thought this was something that might help you in trying to teach your children about the value of sorrow in our lives. Read it tonight and was really struck by its message.

I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne’er a word said she;
But, oh! The things I learned from her,
When sorrow walked with me.

-Robert Browning Hamilton

Might be something to memorize and discuss in difficult times--in addition to God's Word as our foundational source of course.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I hope that I fall into this camp

I, too, have been thankful for all the young (and old too, of course) pastors in our convention who are teaching and living the gospel--and leading their churches to do the same. I hope that Pastor John and I are seen by our congregation as being in this camp. I think we are :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Should We Call It a QUIET Time?

This is an interesting article about praying out loud to God and learning to interact with Him as a real Person.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

FOCUS Weekend Review...

This weekend, our middle and high schoolers participated in our first ever FOCUS weekend. Our theme was: F.A.M.:I.L.Y. (Fathers And Mothers: Intended to Lead You)

I thought it might be helpful to outline here some of the major points and passages we discussed. So here are some summary points as I see them:

1. Mothers and fathers are intended to lead their children spiritually. We looked at Genesis 1:26-28, where Adam and Eve were told to have dominion over the earth. As two limited people, there's no way they could subdue the entire earth on their own, so it was implied that their responsibility was to raise godly responsible children who would spread over the earth and responsibly care for the earth. We looked at Deuteronomy 6:1-9, where Moses is telling the Israelite parents to love the LORD and to diligently teach their children His ways all the time. Finally, we looked at Ephesians 6:1-4, where fathers in particular are directed to raise their children "in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."

2. Children are intended to honor and obey their parents. We looked at the fifth commandment in Deuteronomy 5:16, where God commands children to "honor" their parents--to respect and appreciate them. Then we looked at Colossians 3:17-25, where Paul is driving home the point that children are to obey their parents "in everything"--not because their parents are perfect, but because "it pleases the Lord." We really tried to stress that honoring parents is really honoring our Savior--the One who has entrusted us to them.

3. Parents and children are all sinful, so parents' imperfections are not justification for disobeying or dishonoring them. We looked at Luke 2:41-52, where Jesus Himself has a disagreement with His parents and voices a difference of opinion, but does so humbly, ultimately submitting to them. And we reviewed Ephesians 6:1-4, noting that parents will be tempted to "provoke" their children at times, but that children are always called to "obey." Finally, we looked at James 4:1, which says that conflict is caused by desires "within" us--not just desires within others. So we discussed our own selfish attitudes, how they contribute to conflict with parents, and how we can learn to change our hearts in arguments.

What a great time of discussion we had. There's so much more I could write here, but I wanted to give an overview of our talks. I am sincerely hopeful that our students were changed. Parents, take time to review the material I sent you with your child(ren). And know that I am supporting and holding you up in their sight!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

the Gospel and Thieves (Deja Vu)

"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." -Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)

Last week, my computer was stolen. Again. This time out of my car in my driveway four feet away from the door of my house. I got all the way to church two Thursday mornings ago before I realized it was missing.

It's scary to think someone was brazen enough to break into my car and steal the computer. It's upsetting, and I've been tempted to be really angry about it. How could someone wrong me like that? What would possess them to do it? Could they be capable of worse?

The thing that I'm most frustrated about losing, however, is not a computer. I had a journal in the computer bag that I had written in since 2004. It has hundreds of pages worth of hand-written memories--of graduation, our wedding, Caleb's birth, our move here to Beavercreek. I was hoping to pass it on to Caleb someday.

Those memories are priceless to me. But they're probably sitting in a dumpster or a landfill already--never to be seen by me or my children ever again. Even writing this, I'm tempted to get upset one more time. But God has reminded me once again of the gospel and its implications for how I live my life.

I am a guilty sinner, a thief of sorts, who has robbed God of His glory and rebelled against Him. I am deserving of the death and suffering that Christ endured on the cross. Yet because of His sacrifice, I have been forgiven. And because of His resurrection I have confidence that I too will be raised to eternal life.

So when I think about the thieves that broke into my car, I remember that I am no better than they. I need to forgive them as God in Christ has forgiven me (Eph. 4:32). I recall Jesus speaking to the thief next to Him on the cross and telling Him that--even though his guilt was painfully evident--he would be with Him in paradise. And I realize that I am just the same. Guilty but forgiven.

So these neighborhood thieves, whoever they are, are not beyond forgiveness. God can, and hopefully will, bring them to repentance and faith in His Son.

I think God might also be teaching me to not rely on material things--even sentimental keepsakes like personal journals--for happiness and joy. Journals--and computers and cars and credit cards--can all be stolen. But not my forgiveness or my eternal reward that awaits me!