Thursday, December 31, 2009
Posted by Bro. Matt at 5:36 AM
Posted by Bro. Matt at 5:23 AM
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
These have been very, very helpful for me this week as I contemplate 2010. Be both challenged and blessed as you consider them...
10 Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year
Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. "Consider your ways!" (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.
Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It's so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we're going and where we should be going.
The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.
1. What's one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
2. What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
3. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
8. What's the most important way you will, by God's grace, try to make this year different from last year?
9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?
In addition to these ten questions, here are twenty-one more to help you "Consider your ways." Think on the entire list at one sitting, or answer one question each day for a month.
11. What's the most important decision you need to make this year?
12. What area of your life most needs simplifying, and what's one way you could simplify in that area?
13. What's the most important need you feel burdened to meet this year?
14. What habit would you most like to establish this year?
15. Who is the person you most want to encourage this year?
16. What is your most important financial goal this year, and what is the most important step you can take toward achieving it?
17. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your work life this year?
18. What's one new way you could be a blessing to your pastor (or to another who ministers to you) this year?
19. What's one thing you could do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy you will leave to your children and grandchildren?
20. What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?
21. What one thing do you most regret about last year, and what will you do about it this year?22. What single blessing from God do you want to seek most earnestly this year?
23. In what area of your life do you most need growth, and what will you do about it this year?24. What's the most important trip you want to take this year?
25. What skill do you most want to learn or improve this year?
26. To what need or ministry will you try to give an unprecedented amount this year?
27. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your commute this year?
28. What one biblical doctrine do you most want to understand better this year, and what will you do about it?
29. If those who know you best gave you one piece of advice, what would they say? Would they be right? What will you do about it?
30. What's the most important new item you want to buy this year?
31. In what area of your life do you most need change, and what will you do about it this year?
The value of many of these questions is not in their profundity, but in the simple fact that they bring an issue or commitment into focus. For example, just by articulating which person you most want to encourage this year is more likely to help you remember to encourage that person than if you hadn't considered the question.
If you've found these questions helpful, you might want to put them someplace—in a day planner, PDA, calendar, bulletin board, etc.—where you can review them more frequently than once a year.
So let's evaluate our lives, make plans and goals, and live this new year with biblical diligence, remembering that, "The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage" (Proverbs 21:5). But in all things let's also remember our dependence on our King who said, "Apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).
Posted by Bro. Matt at 9:02 AM
Posted by Bro. Matt at 6:58 AM
Thursday, December 24, 2009
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“This is the kind of faith, let us remember, that God delights to honor. We see the proof of that at this very day. Wherever the Bible is read the conduct of these wise men is known, and told as a memorial of them. Let us walk in the steps of their faith. Let us not be ashamed to believe in Jesus and confess Him, though all around us remain careless and unbelieving. Have we not a thousand-fold more evidence than the wise men had, to make us believe that Jesus is the Christ? Beyond doubt we have. Yet where is our faith?”
Posted by Bro. Matt at 5:13 AM
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Suppose I asked you to name the greatest miracle that ever took place? If you know the Bible you have lots to choose from. God rescued three from a blazing furnace. He closed the mouths of lions and demolished the walls of Jericho. Blind men saw; lame men walked. God parted the Red Sea and the children of Israel walked through on dry ground. But, none of these are the greatest miracle. Even God speaking creation into existence is not the greatest miracle.The incarnation is the greatest miracle that ever took place.The incarnation was when Jesus, though God Himself, was born as a baby in Bethlehem. God became humanity without in any way ceasing to be deity.According to theologian Wayne Grudem, “[The incarnation] is by far the most amazing miracle of the entire Bible – - far more amazing than the resurrection and more amazing even than the creation of the universe. The fact that the infinite, omnipotent, eternal Son of God could become man and join himself to a human nature forever, so that infinite God became one person with finite man, will remain for eternity the most profound miracle and the most profound mystery in all the universe (Grudem, 563).”
Paraphrasing John Murray, “The incarnation means that God who never began to be . . . as God, began to be what he eternally was not (Murray, Vol. 2, 132). It is the most amazing, the most incredible miracle that will ever happen.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 9:06 AM
“We read of no greater faith than this in the whole volume of the Bible. It is a faith that deserves to be placed side by side with that of the penitent thief. The thief saw one dying the death of a criminal, and yet prayed to Him and ‘called Him Lord.’ The wise men saw a new-born babe on the lap of a poor woman, and yet worshiped Him and confessed that He was Christ. Blessed indeed are those that can believe in this fashion!”
Posted by Bro. Matt at 8:58 AM
Posted by Bro. Matt at 8:52 AM
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Posted by Bro. Matt at 8:42 PM
Posted by Bro. Matt at 3:00 PM
Monday, December 7, 2009
Posted by Bro. Matt at 7:41 PM
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Posted by Bro. Matt at 5:40 AM
From Justin Taylor:
“A worship leader should never say, “Sing it like you mean it.” We should always mean it.”
“People walk in every Sunday with the problem that everything in their lives has become bigger than God.”
“The worship leader links heart-stirring music with biblical truth . . . to let the Word of Christ dwell in people richly.”
“In both counseling and worship we can rely on technique and forget all we have is Christ.”
“Leading worship is a pastoral function before it’s a musical one.”
“Pay attention to the syntax of hymns. Some are about God, drawing our hearts toward Him. Others are unto God, giving our faith direct expression to God.”
“Counseling needs to do more than analysis and problem-solving; it needs to evoke the thing it seeks to create.”
“Biblical counseling is worship, and repentance, and faith, and hearing and loving and needing God.”
“Way more often than we imagine, people need reminding, not informing.”
“The world in which we counsel is the same world in which we worship & pray.”
“The word ‘technique’ is actually offensive in ministry.”
Posted by Bro. Matt at 5:33 AM
From the Gospel Coalition blog:
Caring For Orphans While Soaked with a Sense of Exile
by Dan Cruver
Yesterday, I was deeply moved by something that I read in a letter that J.R.R. Tolkien wrote to his son Christopher. As I reflected upon his words, it occurred to me that he touches on something that is profoundly relevant to the global orphan crisis.
"We all long for [Eden], and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most humane, is still soaked with the sense of ‘exile’. If you come to think of it, your (very just) horror at the stupid murder of the hawk, and your obstinate memory of this ‘home’ of yours in an idyllic hour (when often there is an illusion of the stay of time and decay and a sense of gentle peace) are derived from Eden (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, 110)."
One of the challenges for Christians in the Western world is that we are often guilty of trying to dry up our profound “sense of exile” with the non-absorbent paper towels of the incomplete joys of this world. That’s not to say that it is wrong for Christians to enjoy themselves in the here-and-now. God gives His children many good gifts that we are to enjoy now with gratitude in our hearts. But our here-and-now enjoyment was never meant to be the way we deal with the deep ache of exile. When we deal with our “sense of exile” by using God’s good gifts to self-medicate, we will find ourselves moving away from the world’s most needy rather than to them. Self-medicating people are not easily mobilized for self-sacrificial service.
The reality is that we are in exile. Eden has been lost. We are exiles in the here-and-now (1 Peter 1:1). The period of time in which we live as exiles is deeply marked by suffering and unrest (Romans 8:18). The presence of 143,000,000 vulnerable and orphaned children in the world is irrefutable evidence of that fact.
Although we find ourselves in exile – still soaked with a deep sense of Eden-lost — God has not left us to wander aimlessly within it. He has not left us alone to cope with our deep sense of exile through self-medicating behavior. No, Jesus entered into our exile, became a man of sorrows, was forsaken by the Father at the cross in order that he might lead us out of our exile into eternal belonging. Jesus endured the very worst of our exile in order that he might bring us home!
What Jesus did through his life, death, and resurrection has provided us with “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19-20) in the midst of our exile. As a result, we can enjoy the incomplete joys of this world without using them to deal with our deep sense of exile. Only when we rest in what Jesus has already done to one day bring us back home (Romans 8:19-23) are we able to move toward our world’s most needy.
The gospel takes those who are marked with a deep sense of exile, frees them from the “need” to self-medicate, and moves them out to serve the orphan, the widow, and the marginalized. Only by the power of the gospel can we do the self-sacrificial work of caring for orphans while soaked with the sense of exile.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 5:30 AM
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
So I am currently working on my PhD dissertation and had to share the following exerpt from a sermon given by Theodoret of Cyrus, probably around 435 A.D. The sermon quotation is found in the third sermon in a series of ten on the providence of God. The title of the sermon is "Demonstrations from the Composition of the Human Body."
Here's the quote:
"Mark another manifestation of His providence. The body provides the natural couch of the buttocks so that you can make a seat out of the ground or a stone and not be hurt by sitting on bare limbs. You are ungrateful notwithstanding. You fail to recognize the gifts, and rave and rant against the wisdom that makes such provision for you."
I must confess. I have never thanked God for my rear end. Thank you, Theodoret, for such a solemn reminder.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 3:38 PM