Thursday, July 31, 2008

Worship Is...Ascribing All Honor and Worth

In D. A. Carson's book Worship by the Book, he defines worship this way:
Worship is the proper response of all moral, sentient beings to God, ascribing all honor and worth to their Creator-God precisely because He is worthy, delightfully so. This side of the Fall, human worship of God properly responds to the redemptive provisions that God has graciously made. While all true worship is God-centered, Christian worship is no less Christ-centered. Empowered by the Spirit and in line with the stipulations of the new covenant, it manifests itself in all our living, finding its impulse in the gospel, which restores our relationship with our Redeemer-God and therefore, also, with our fellow image-bearers, our coworshipers. Such worship therefore manifests itself both in adoration and in action, both in the individual believer and in corporate worship, which is worship offered up in the context of the body of believers, who strive to align all the forms of their devout ascription of all worth to God with the panoply of new covenant mandates and examples that bring to fulfillment the glories of antecedent revelation and anticipate the consummation.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pray at the Pump?

[HT - Lucas Pehoski]
According to the Associated Press:

ST. LOUIS - Two prayer services will be held at St. Louis gas stations to thank God for lower fuel prices
and to ask that they continue to drop. Darrell Alexander, Midwest co-chair of the Pray at the Pump movement, says prayer gatherings will be held Monday afternoon and evening at a Mobil station west of downtown St. Louis.

Participants say they plan to buy gas, pray and then sing "We Shall Overcome" with a new verse, "We'll have lower gas prices."

An activist from the Washington D.C. area, Rocky Twyman, started the effort, saying if politicians couldn't lower gas prices, it was time to ask God to intervene.

The group thinks the prayer is helping, saying prices are starting to fall below $4 a gallon.

I thought Michael Spencer had some good thoughts on this approach:

For example, one evangelical has taken his particular view of rising gas prices and started a movement called “Pray at the Pump.” Somehow, the rise of gas prices is a sign of the end times and praying at the pump for God to lower prices will apparently prove that he’s in charge.

Of course, one wonders if it ever occurred to anyone that the inconvenience to the American lifestyle of mobility and affluence isn’t really something that God would respond to as an act of mercy. Most Americans are inconvenienced by gas prices because of the value they place on mobility and the decisions they’ve made about the kind of life they want to live, decisions made with the assumption of cheap gas in the background.

So somewhere a homeless man or a family struggling to put food on the table will see a group of middle class suburban Christians gathered around a gas pump, praying that God will have mercy and get things back to where we can all go about our business.

I don’t have to spend much time asking if Jesus would join such a prayer meeting.

This is the imagination and mindset of American Christians: God is committed to our lives as we imagine them. He is committed to the gas, the SUVs, the economics, the houses, the conveniences, the investments, the stability, the politics, the military and the religion that maintain the lives we lead.

And if you question this, you risk going down a hole labelled “Fanaticism.”

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Watching Joe Mauer

Last night I went with Grace, Paul and my dad to the Twins game (they beat up on the White Sox). Here is a cool picture of Paul watching his favorite Twin bat - Joe Mauer.

The Packers, Favre and Lessons About Communication

If you are sports fans you can't avoid it, and if you are a Packer's fan you can't help keeping an eye on the horrible dismantling of a relationship between the management of a big football franchise and their legendary quarterback. If you are neither, you may need a quick course to get you up to speed.
  • In March, Brett Favre (holder of almost every important quarterback record in the NFL) announced his retirement to the sports world with tears and emotion.
  • In late June he told Packers that he was getting the itch to play again and would like to come back.
  • The coach said it was too late and that the Packers had moved on.
  • It was leaked to the media that Favre wanted to come back but the Packer leadership was on vacation and would not make a statement.
  • The Packers formally announced that he couldn't come back except as a backup to a quarterback who had never started a game.
  • Favre went on Foxnews with Greta Van Susteren and divulged private conversations and basically called the Packer's General Manager a liar.
  • Favre asked the Packers to release him from the team so he could play elsewhere, but they refused.
  • The Packers charged Favre and the Vikings for tampering -- having conversations with Favre about coming to their team against league policy.
And on and on it has went...

Personally, I can see both sides of the affair. I want Favre back as a quarterback and I can understand why the Packers are "moving on."

Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press Gazette wrote an interesting article yesterday on the failure of communication. You can read the whole article here. He writes:

“I think there are so many lessons to learn from this,” McCarthy said. “I think the first aspect you have to look closely at is communication. Usually when you have problems and things get to the point that we’re in right now, it’s potentially a problem.”

That cuts to the heart of this matter, and it goes both ways. There are strong indications that weak communication led to this unpleasant, pending breakup.

To cite one telling example, Favre essentially called Thompson a liar in a national cable TV interview two weeks ago, yet in a pair of 45-minute telephone conversations between the two on Saturday, that topic never came up.

“I’ve never had a bad conversation with Brett,” Thompson said.

That’s not necessarily a positive thing. If neither side has the fortitude to address difficult issues, it’s not surprising their relationship is on the rocks.

Had Favre and Thompson been more forthcoming with each other, the controversy swirling around the team could have been avoided.
This is such a good example of what happens among people in all areas of life including the family and church.

Here are a few lessons that I see that relate to me, the church and communication in general:

  1. Don't avoid conflict (see the final paragraph of the quote). Avoiding it only makes things worse. This doesn't mean you have to handle things aggressively, but being speaking the truth in love is important.
  2. Don't try to win a conflict by including third parties sounding boards or spokespersons. Favre should not have used the stage of Foxnews to tell his story if he wanted to truly work to resolve this conflict. It only made things worse.
  3. Get together and talk as much as possible and don't use indirect messengers. There has been too much indirect communication through the media, agents, office spokespersons, etc.
  4. When you make a mistake just admit it. I think Favre would have helped his cause greatly if he would have been honest about his mistake to retire. Instead he put the blame on the Packers who wanted a decision too soon.
  5. Avoid responding out of frustration and weigh your words carefully. Ted Thomson (Packers GM) should never had publicly (through the media) told Favre that he could come back but that he would be a backup. This was insulting. Even if it is true it is not a wise thing to say.
  6. Be willing to be humble enough and forgive. Both parties need to humble themselves and forgive one another. This doesn't mean that Favre should get his way, but it does mean that Thompson should let him play this year for some team (as horrible as that sounds to my Packer fan ears).

Proverbs 10:19 When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

Proverbs 17:27-28 Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. (28) Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

Proverbs 29:20 Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Proverbs 18:4 The words of a man's mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.

Proverbs 18:8 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.

Proverbs 10:14 The wise lay up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near.

Proverbs 13:3 Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.

Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.

Proverbs 18:6 A fool's lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.

Proverbs 21:23 Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.

Proverbs 26:28 A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.

Corporate Worship - Why Does It Matter? - Sermon

This past Sunday I began a series on corporate worship. In the five weeks of this series I want to ask these questions:

1) Why does it matter?
This was the sermon from last Sunday and you can download it here or listen to it below.

2) How should we view corporate worship?
What does the Bible say and how does it relate to us as NT believers?

3) What difference should it make for us?
  • How should it impact how we prepare for corporate worship throughout the week and on Sunday?
  • What elements are necessary in corporate worship according to the Bible? The Bible must determine and guide what we do--what does it say about corporate worship and what it is we actually do when we gather? What do we do at Grace Church and how does this line up with the Bible?
  • What practical difference should this make in our lives at Grace Church and in the worship services of Grace?
To open the sermon we began with a video clip on the significance of corporate worship (by John Piper). You can watch it below online or download it here.

Daily Promise: The Spirit in Christ Jesus

This rich passage is our deep foundation of hope:

"13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit [5] through faith." (Gal 3:13-14)
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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Preparing for Corporate Worship - Sunday, July 27th

For your preparation for worship I thought I would try giving you the songs that we are singing on Sunday beforehand. I have found the lyrics for the songs and provided links for them. I welcome your input and suggestions.

I have also includes several Scripture passages that I will be using during the sermon.
May God bless your preparation for corporate worship.

Sunday, July 27th - 2008

Prelude/Welcome Everlasting (Lyrics)

Worship in Music Salvation Belongs to Our God (Lyrics )
How Great Is Our God (Lyrics )

Prayer Better Is One Day (Lyrics)

(Children ages 3 through 2nd grade dismissed)

Worship in the Word “Corporate Worship—Why Does It Matter?” (By Pastor Daniel)

Psalm 27:4; Psalm 84:1-5;10; Psalm 42:3-6; Psalm 147 (Click here to read these texts)

(Children ages 3 through 2nd grade return)

Worship in Music Better Is One Day (See Above)

God's Gracious Gift of Corporate Worship - Sermon Series

Tomorrow morning, Lord willing, I will begin a five part sermon series at Grace Church called "God's Gracious Gift of Corporate Worship." During these five weeks we will look at the concept of corporate worship: What does the Bible say about it? What should our view of it be? What are the essential elements of it? How do we prepare for it? What difference should it make at Grace Church and in our day to day lives? Please join us each week with the earnest prayer that God would help us receive God’s gracious gift of corporate worship in a greater way.

Daily Promise: How Much More Will He Clothe You

"28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!" (Luke 12:28)

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Obama: He ventured forth to bring light to the world

Here is a satirical piece from the Times Online by Gerard Baker on Obama's trip abroad (HT - Joe Mancuso).

The anointed one's pilgrimage to the Holy Land is a miracle in action - and a blessing to all his faithful followers

And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant), when the whole land from the Arabian desert to the shores of the Great Lakes had been laid barren, that a Child appeared in the wilderness.

The Child was blessed in looks and intellect. Scion of a simple family, offspring of a miraculous union, grandson of a typical white person and an African peasant. And yea, as he grew, the Child walked in the path of righteousness, with only the occasional detour into the odd weed and a little blow.

When he was twelve years old, they found him in the temple in the City of Chicago, arguing the finer points of community organisation with the Prophet Jeremiah and the Elders. And the Elders were astonished at what they heard and said among themselves: “Verily, who is this Child that he opens our hearts and minds to the audacity of hope?”

In the great Battles of Caucus and Primary he smote the conniving Hillary, wife of the deposed King Bill the Priapic and their barbarian hordes of Working Class Whites.

And so it was, in the fullness of time, before the harvest month of the appointed year, the Child ventured forth - for the first time - to bring the light unto all the world.

He travelled fleet of foot and light of camel, with a small retinue that consisted only of his loyal disciples from the tribe of the Media. He ventured first to the land of the Hindu Kush, where the

Taleban had harboured the viper of al-Qaeda in their bosom, raining terror on all the world.

And the Child spake and the tribes of Nato immediately loosed the Caveats that had previously bound them. And in the great battle that ensued the forces of the light were triumphant. For as long as the Child stood with his arms raised aloft, the enemy suffered great blows and the threat of terror was no more.

From there he went forth to Mesopotamia where he was received by the great ruler al-Maliki, and al-Maliki spake unto him and blessed his Sixteen Month Troop Withdrawal Plan even as the imperial warrior Petraeus tried to destroy it.

And lo, in Mesopotamia, a miracle occurred. Even though the Great Surge of Armour that the evil Bush had ordered had been a terrible mistake, a waste of vital military resources and doomed to end in disaster, the Child's very presence suddenly brought forth a great victory for the forces of the light.

And the Persians, who saw all this and were greatly fearful, longed to speak with the Child and saw that the Child was the bringer of peace. At the mention of his name they quickly laid aside their intrigues and beat their uranium swords into civil nuclear energy ploughshares.

From there the Child went up to the city of Jerusalem, and entered through the gate seated on an ass. The crowds of network anchors who had followed him from afar cheered “Hosanna” and waved great palm fronds and strewed them at his feet.

In Jerusalem and in surrounding Palestine, the Child spake to the Hebrews and the Arabs, as the Scripture had foretold. And in an instant, the lion lay down with the lamb, and the Israelites and Ishmaelites ended their long enmity and lived for ever after in peace.

As word spread throughout the land about the Child's wondrous works, peoples from all over flocked to hear him; Hittites and Abbasids; Obamacons and McCainiacs; Cameroonians and Blairites.

And they told of strange and wondrous things that greeted the news of the Child's journey. Around the world, global temperatures began to decline, and the ocean levels fell and the great warming was over.

The Great Prophet Algore of Nobel and Oscar, who many had believed was the anointed one, smiled and told his followers that the Child was the one generations had been waiting for.

And there were other wonderful signs. In the city of the Street at the Wall, spreads on interbank interest rates dropped like manna from Heaven and rates on credit default swaps fell to the ground as dead birds from the almond tree, and the people who had lived in foreclosure were able to borrow again.

Black gold gushed from the ground at prices well below $140 per barrel. In hospitals across the land the sick were cured even though they were uninsured. And all because the Child had pronounced it.

And this is the testimony of one who speaks the truth and bears witness to the truth so that you might believe. And he knows it is the truth for he saw it all on CNN and the BBC and in the pages of The New York Times.

Then the Child ventured forth from Israel and Palestine and stepped onto the shores of the Old Continent. In the land of Queen Angela of Merkel, vast multitudes gathered to hear his voice, and he preached to them at length.

But when he had finished speaking his disciples told him the crowd was hungry, for they had had nothing to eat all the hours they had waited for him.

And so the Child told his disciples to fetch some food but all they had was five loaves and a couple of frankfurters. So he took the bread and the frankfurters and blessed them and told his disciples to feed the multitudes. And when all had eaten their fill, the scraps filled twelve baskets.

Thence he travelled west to Mount Sarkozy. Even the beauteous Princess Carla of the tribe of the Bruni was struck by awe and she was great in love with the Child, but he was tempted not.

On the Seventh Day he walked across the Channel of the Angles to the ancient land of the hooligans. There he was welcomed with open arms by the once great prophet Blair and his successor, Gordon the Leper, and his successor, David the Golden One.

And suddenly, with the men appeared the archangel Gabriel and the whole host of the heavenly choir, ranks of cherubim and seraphim, all praising God and singing: “Yes, We Can.”

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Lord, Why Was I a Guest?"

At the Together for the Gospel conference in April we sang a unfamiliar hymn (to me) by the great poet Isaac Watts (think "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" or "O God Our Help in Ages Past") called "How Sweet and Aweful Is the Place."

It's obvious that the tittle is not politically correct for modern evangelicalism and that is part of what makes the hymn so "relevant" for today. We need a fresh view of God from those who went before us.

This hymn marvels at the saving and electing grace of God. It ponders with amazement the question--"why did you choose me to share at your table of salvation when so many have chosen rather to starve?" The hymn doesn't end with this question alone but turns into a prayer of longing, asking God to bring the nations to the same redeeming grace.

Here is the audio stream of the song from the conference led by Bob Kauflin. I would recommend listening to it more than once and follow along with the words below. (Download here by right clicking and saving)

How sweet and aweful is this place
With Christ within the doors,
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores!

While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast,
Each of us cry, with thankful tongues,
“Lord, why was I a guest?

“Why was I made to hear Thy voice,
And enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?”

‘Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly drew us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perished in our sin.

Pity the nations, O our God!
Constrain the earth to come;
Send Thy victorious Word abroad,
And bring the strangers home.

We long to see Thy churches full,
That all the chosen race
May with one voice, and heart and soul,
Sing Thy redeeming grace.

MSNBC's Crush on Obama

I saw this on Douglas Wilson's blog and thought it was pretty funny:

Daily Promise: The Power of Christ's Breath

I was encouraged and strengthened in my faith as I pondered the power of Jesus over all past, present and future enemies:

"8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming." (2 Thess 2:8)
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Don't Waste Your Humor

I look forward to listening to this sermon by C. J. Mahaney.


You can listen to it or download it here.

Humor is a gift from God. When humbly and wisely used, it is a means of transferring truth and generating joy. This message addresses how we can use humor to build others up and honor God.

Daily Promise: The Powerful for the Powerless

I love the promise that is implied in this great cry of desperate dependence on God. We are powerless but God is all-powerful.

"12 O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you." (2 Chron 20:12)

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Do You Want an Explanation from God for Pain?

While on vacation I read this post on pain and the sovereignty of God. I think it's worth your read and meditation.

Why God Doesn't Fully Explain Pain

July 14, 2008 | By: John Piper

One of the reasons God rarely gives micro reasons for his painful providences, but regularly gives magnificent macro reasons, is that there are too many micro reasons for us to manage, namely, millions and millions and millions and millions and millions.

God says things like:

  • These bad things happened to you because I intend to work it together for your good (Romans 8).
  • These happened so that you would rely more on God who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1).
  • This happened so that the gold and silver of your faith would be refined (1 Peter 1).
  • This thorn is so that the power of Christ would be magnified in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12).

But we can always object that there are other easier ways for God to accomplish those things. We want to know more specifics: Why now? Why this much? Why this often? Why this way? Why these people?

The problem is, we would have to be God to grasp all that God is doing in our problems. In fact, pushing too hard for more detailed explanations from God is a kind of demand that we be God.

Think of this, you are a blacksmith making horseshoes. You are hammering on a white hot shoe and it ricochets off and hits you in the leg and burns you. In your haste to tend to your leg you let the shoe alone unfinished. You wonder why God let this happen. You were singing a hymn and doing his will.

Your helper, not knowing the horseshoe was unfinished gathered it up and put it with the others.

Later there was an invasion of your country by a hostile army with a powerful cavalry. They came through your town and demanded that you supply them with food and with shoes for their horses. You comply.

Their commander has his horse shoed by his own smith using the stolen horseshoes, and the unfinished shoe with the thin weak spot is put on the commander’s horse.

In the decisive battle against the loyal troops defending your homeland the enemy commander is leading the final charge. The weak shoe snaps and catches on a root and causes his horse to fall. He crashes to the ground and his own soldiers, galloping at full speed, trample him to death.

This causes such a confusion that the defenders are able to rout the enemy and the country is saved.

Now you might say, well, it would sure help me trust God if he informed me of these events so that I would know why the horseshoe ricocheted and burned my leg. Well maybe it would help you. Maybe not.

God cannot make plain all he is doing, because there are millions and millions and millions and millions of effects of every event in your life, the good and the bad. God guides them all. They all have micro purposes and macro purposes. He cannot tell you all of them because your brain can’t hold all of them.

Trust does not demand more than God has told us. And he has given us immeasurably precious promises that he is in control of all things and only does good to his children. And he has given us a very thick book where we can read story after story after story about how he rules for the good of his people.

Let’s trust him and not ask for what our brains cannot contain.

"Religious Affections" Audio Book Free

Go to Tim Challies' website to get a free audio book of Jonathan Edward's classic -- Religious Affections.

You have to follow instructions and enter the coupon code to get it free.

Click here.

Here is a description of the book:
Description: Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) is best known as the theologian of revival. In this, his major study on the theme, he analyses the nature of a genuine work of the Holy Spirit. He was one of the few truly great theologians of the English speaking world, an intellectual and spiritual giant. Of his several treatises in this field, The Religious Affections ranks as ëmagnum opusí. The author's object in this book is to distinguish between true and false religion by showing the marks of a saving work of the Holy Spirit in men. In his Preface, Edwards stresses the importance of using "our utmost endeavours clearly to discern...wherein true religion does consist." For "till this be done, it may be expected that great revivings of religion will be but of short continuance."

This is simply one of the best Christian books that was ever written. Worth mastering in your lifetime. Edwards searches the depths of the human heart and bibically drives home an affectional theology. Profound!

Obama in Iraq

This morning as I was running and listening to NPR they announced that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malik agreed with Obama's time table for withdrawal from the region (in 16 months). This statement is deceptive. I encourage you to read Peter Wehner's article from the "The Corner" on the National Review (HT Justin Taylor).

Here is a portion:
Assume that your child was ill and had a fever. You took him to the doctor and the primary physician recommended medication. Another doctor, not the primary physician, said medication wasn't needed and, in fact, it would be counterproductive. The fever continued; in response, the child's physician increased the dosage of medication (over the objections of the second doctor). The child's condition continued to worsen, to the point that you took your child to the hospital. Medication was then combined with other interventions, over the strong objections of the second doctor. In fact, the second doctor not only recommended against medication, he felt at this stage the child was a lost cause and it would be a waste to devote much more effort on the child's behalf.

Slowly, however, the child, because of the increased medication and other interventions, began to improve. In a few days, in fact, he was released from the hospital, with the fever going down. Finally the child got to the point where he was healthy enough that the primary physician said he now envisioned that the child would soon be able to come off the medication, provided we continued to see conditions-based progress. Now imagine if the second doctor declared that because the child would one day be off medication, he had been right all along. Such a claim would be absurd; the child would have gotten worse, and probably would have died, if the secondary doctor's recommendation had been followed. The child's recovery demonstrated why the secondary doctor's judgment was deeply and dangerous flawed rather than right.

You can read it here.

Woody Allen Interviews Billy Graham

I found this interview very interesting. It is from the "olden days": (HT Kevin Cawley)

Favre the Flip-Flopper

I love Favre but he needs to make a decision.

Daily Promise: He Trains My Hands...My Steadfast Love

I love this prayer from David:

"Of David. Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; (2) he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me." (Psalms 144:1-2)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Vacation: Day 16 - The End

Monday, July 21. Today was the last day of our vacation being my normal day off. The big event for the day was the Como Zoo and carnival.

As I was reading the information about the tigers to Grace, the sign said that Caspian Tigers are now extinct. Grace replied - "what? They stink?".
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Daily Promise: He Will Do It

I love the sovereignty of God in sanctification:

"23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it." (1 Thess 5:23-24)

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Vacation: Day 15

Sunday, July 20. We are almost done with our vacation and it has been a profitable one. I thank God for His gracious mercy as well as Grace Church for giving me this time "off".

This afternoon we went on another bike ride to the library and got the kids in bed early.

My aunt Mary is still with us and she is a driven person. To give you an example: before Molly and I were up this morning she had scrubbed the kitchen floors, baked a pie, and went to the grocery story. She would be a great nanny -- Mary Poppins.
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Daily Promise: No Help Like God's

Here is a great promise to rest on as well as a prayer to pray:

"11 And Asa cried to the Lord his God, "O Lord, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, you are our God; let not man prevail against you." (2 Chron 14:11)

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Vacation: Day 14

Saturday, July 19. Two years ago today my wonderful and godly grandfather (Clarence Salesky) went to be with Jesus. Please pray for his wife who continues to miss him greatly but looks to the hope of the resurrection in Christ Jesus.

My aunt Mary is with us and we had a fun-filled day of doughnut shop, parks and Culvers.
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Daily Promise: How Much More Will the Father Give...

Here is a great promise to ponder today. Given this statement, why are our prayers so shallow and faithless?

"9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for [4] a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:9-13)

Here is something I read from Douglas Wilson about the generous nature of our Father. He is relating it to parents who teach otherwise with their actions:

What are fathers called to? Fathers give. Fathers protect. Fathers bestow. Fathers yearn and long for the good of their children. Fathers delight. Fathers sacrifice. Fathers are jovial and open-handed. Fathers create abundance, and if lean times come they take the leanest portion themselves and create a sense of gratitude and abundance for the rest. Fathers love birthdays and Christmas because it provides them with yet another excuse to give some more to the kids. When fathers say no, as good fathers do from time to time, it is only because they are giving a more subtle gift, one that is a bit more complicated than a cookie. They must include among their gifts things like self-control and discipline and a work ethic, but they are giving these things, not taking something else away just for the sake of taking. Fathers are not looking for excuses to say no. Their default mode is not no.The canard that is frequently applied to the Puritans does not apply to the historical Puritans, but it does apply to a certain kind of dour, pinched personality. This is the kind of person who says that God is up in heaven, looking down on us, trying to find someone who is having a good time. When he finds such a one, He tells him to stop it right now. H.L. Mencken defined puritanism as the haunting fear that somehow, somewhere, someone might be happy. That is, as I said, a slander on the Puritans, but there is a kind of person that it does apply to. That kind of person fills up the lives of others with "this is bad for you," "so is that," and "so is this," and "that too over there." I ache for children growing up in such homes, not because they are "eating healthy" (because they usually aren't which is another subject), but because the spiritual environment is so unhealthy. What statement is being made in all this about fatherhood and provision? The kids grow up in "a garden," but not the Father's kind where all the trees are permitted but one. They grow up in something called a garden, where all the trees but one are forbidden, and the one that is allowed grows ricecake-like globules that taste like bits of styrofoam glued together in a nutrient ball. And so the children are surrounded by delightful fruit that their father could afford, but refuses to provide them, and which other kids get to eat freely. They have a father who does not provide, although he could, which means that he must not want to. They have a father who does not provide, who does not bestow, who does not overflow. They come to think that God the Father is like that, and they conclude that they must not be worth very much. That sense of guilt for just existing carries over into adulthood, and they then do the same thing to their kids. We need more guilt over sin, and a lot less guilt over breathing, maintaining a temperature of 98.6, and needing a certain amount of glucose for the brain. Slandering the character of God is one of the sins we need to reject as sin. There are people who need to start feeling guilty for feeling guilty all the time, if you follow me here.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Vacation: Day 13

Friday, July 18. Today auntie Mary (my mom's sister) came to visit us until next Tuesday. She is a very special aunt and a big help. The kids are looking forward to time with her. Tonight we had supper and a boat ride with the Callies on Forest Lake.
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Daily Promise: The Best is Still to Come

Here is a great promise to hope in today:

"16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words." (1 Thess 4:16-18)

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Vacation: Day 12

Thursday, July 17. It was the first day that I stayed in bed until 8 in long time. Thank you VanAckers and Williams who have our kids. It was project time in our basement. It felt good to get some things acomplished. I also got to go to Half Price Books.
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People Don't Know What They Are Missing

James Smith and I had lunch today. As we were on our way out James noticed the cups.

Psalm 86:8-10 "There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. 9 All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. 10 For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God."

Romans 9:1-3 "I am speaking the truth in Christ- I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit- 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers..."

Daily Promise: Help to the Afflicted and Needy

Here is my promise to cling to today:

"12 I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy.13 Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence." Psa 140:12-13

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Vacation: Day 11

Wednesday, July 16. The exciting plan for the kids today was to go away for a sleep over tonight. Grace and Paul went to Molly's sister and husband's house in St. Paul and Elijah went to the VanAckers.

It was weird to be home together without the kids (Barna doesn't count yet). We cleaned the basement, ate Tasty Asia and watched a movie. What will it be like to not get a wake up call from Elijah? We miss them already.

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It's Easy to See Sin in Other People

I recently read this by Tim Challies, I thought I would share with you:

This is just about my favorite time of day. The house is quiet and no one else awake. It allows me a few minutes to myself—time I use every day to read the Bible and pray. I know that in a few minutes the family will begin to stir. Nick and Abby will wake up and Michaela will not be far behind. It won’t be long before the quiet is punctuated by their childish squabbles over who gets to eat what or who gets to sit where. I can pretty well count on this.

A little bit after nine, we will head to church. Here we’ll enjoy a time of worship and fellowship with a group of our favorite people. Though we love them dearly, I’m quite sure we’ll see evidence of sin in their lives—we’ll hear people say things they shouldn’t say and see them do things they shouldn’t do. After church we’ll head to the home of some friends to spend the afternoon with them and, once again, I’m sure there will be plenty of evidence of sin in their lives and in ours. We’ll return to church in the late afternoon to once more hear a sinful brother preach what I’m sure will be an excellent but somehow-imperfect sermon. And after it all, we’ll head home. And as we do, you can be sure that there will be more sin, more fighting or complaining or temptation to say things that just have no business being said.

All day we will see the evidence of sin in others around us. It is inevitable, is it not? How are we to react to such sin? It is here that Jonathan Edwards offers a valuable resolution and one that I hope will be in my mind and on my heart as I see so much sin today. I trust that you will benefit from reading it and pondering it as well.

Resolved, To act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings, as others, and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.

Too Easily Pleased or Impossible to Please?

The other day I read this needed challenge by Douglas Wilson:

As parents, teachers, elders, pastors, and as those in authority, we tend to fall into one of two errors as we seek to guide those who have been placed under our authority. One error is to be far too easily pleased. The other is to become impossible to please. For the former, not only is the glass always half full, but it is reckoned to be completely full because it is half full. For the latter, the glass is always considered to be completely empty because it is always half empty. Both of these approaches are destructive forms of leadership.

And apart from the work of the Spirit in our lives, we tend to fall into one of these two errors. But the work of grace sees what needs to be done, and also sees, in wisdom, what has been done. And the attitude that accompanies this wisdom is that of being extraordinarily easy to please, and extraordinarily difficult to satisfy. This is how our Father God is with us, and this is how we should be with one another. We don't want to be easy to please and easy to satisfy. Neither do we want to be impossible to please and impossible to satisfy. The former type of parent produces well-boiled noodles. The latter gives us neurotic dry twigs, ready to snap.

To you as a congregation, how does this apply? God is extremely pleased with you, and with how far you have come. Is He satisfied? Not even close. We are still on pilgrimage, and are not yet conformed to the image of Christ.

Daily Promise: All My Days Written Down by God

Here is my promise from God for the day:

"Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." (Ps 139:16)

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God Knows Us and Still Loves Us

I read Psalm 139 this morning and was struck with these two thoughts:

- First, God knows everything about me (my thoughts, my words before I speak, everything). What if your spouse or pastor or best friend knew all your thoughts and words? That would be scary. As sinful creatures we are all glad at times that people are not exposed to our thoughts. However, God discerns our "thoughts from afar." (V. 3) I know there has been many times when I have been relieved that so and so did not hear what I said, but verse 4 says he knows every word before we even speak.

What does this mean in my relationship with God? Can I actually inform God about something in my prayers? No. Can I every deceive Him and put on a show, trying to be someone that I am not in order to impress Him (like we often do with other people)? No way. He has complete knowledge of me. This truth is sobering.

- Secondly, inspite of God's complete and realistic view about me (which means he knows how sinful I am in words, thoughts and actions), I am loved and excepted by Him in Jesus. I can be honest with Him and confess all my junk to Him knowing that none of it will surprise Him in the least and I can stand cleansed in His mercy and foregiveness because of what Jesus did.

Psalm 130 says:

"3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?4 But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;6 my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.7 O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.8 And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

All beause of Jesus and His Crosswork.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Vacation: Day 10

Tuesday, July 15. A hot day in Minnesota; one of the few that have been in the 90s. We spent much of the day at the Callies' beach a block from our house. Sunburn feels great!
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The Extraordinary Ordinary (Pastor Dave's Sunday Sermon)

We were not able to capture the audio from the sermon this week, but you can read the transcript here. I have posted the main points below. I pray that you will be as edified by Philemon as I was.

1. Faithfulness in all situations (vs.1-25).

Paul is in prison! By this time he has been beaten several times, he has some unknown ailment causing him significant physical discomfort, he has been abandoned, rejected, and abused. Yet, he is still faithful.

Often times I feel justified in going in to my house to rest rather than out to my neighbors with the Gospel because I don’t feel all that well. Often times I feel justified in being short with my wife and kids because I had a long day. Often times I feel justified in having an abbreviated devotional time because I am a bit tired.

I am so thankful for and humbled by and convicted through this example of faithfulness. Paul is imprisoned; but rather than just sitting there waiting to be released or feeling sorry for himself or complaining about the injustice of his imprisonment, he is sharing the gospel with those who come near, writing letters to encourage and challenge other believers (Philemon), and declaring the glory of God (many believe that he wrote the letter to the Colossians at this time also).

Grace, may we be faithful in obedience, for the joy set before us, even when circumstances limit the joy that is in us.

2. Persecution for the Gospel (v.1, 23 – Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus… 23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you).

Faithfulness in all situations often leads to persecution. I won’t go into this one very much since Pastor Daniel spent all last week on persecution. I would, however, like to say two things about the fact that Paul and Epaphras have chosen imprisonment rather than silence or disobedience.

First, I want to suggest, because Jesus suggests, that we all consider, for a moment, the status of our relationship with Jesus in terms of the amount of persecution that we receive for speaking and living the truth of the Gospel in love rather than in terms of how much we know about Jesus or how much time we spend at church.

Second, I want to challenge some of you who are struggling to feel connected with Jesus to consider stepping out in faithful obedience. Be bold, be risky, be radical in your obedience. Share the gospel with your neighbor that you have known for years. Tell a coworker about how they can be saved by grace through faith despite the awkwardness that it might cause. Be willing to get made fun of or laughed at or rejected for the Gospel and then let see how connected you feel to Jesus.

Grace, may we be characterized by obedience to the point of persecution.

3. Love for people (v.1b-2 – To Philemon our beloved fellow worker 2 and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house).

Loving others means truly wanting (or delighting in) what’s best for them. It means having a fondness for them that produces a willingness to suffer loss for their sake.

In Philemon we see this kind of love in Paul for the Romans or Ephesians, Onesimus, Philemon, and the Church.

We see it in the fact that Paul, for the sake of what’s best for the Romans or Ephesians, proclaimed the Gospel despite the likelihood (and eventually the reality) of imprisonment.
We see this kind of love in the fact that Paul shared the Gospel with Onesimus (who, as Rupprecht described, was considered to be the lowest form of humanity) despite the risk of losing credibility with the cultural elite.

We see this kind of love in the fact that Paul was willing to challenge Philemon to go against cultural norms (by accepting Onesimus back without punishment) despite the risk of losing a friendship with Philemon for making such a bold request.

And we see this kind of love in the fact that Paul, while imprisoned, was constantly thinking of the Church despite being imprisoned and abandoned by much of the church because of his imprisonment (again, Paul most likely also wrote Colossians during this time).

Grace, may we have this kind of love for one another and for others. May we continually pursue that which is best for each other and others. May we speak first of the greatness of God to one another. May we constantly look to encourage and avoid negative talk. May we care more about one another’s souls than one another’s opinions. May this love spring from our love for the Father. May we be a loving people.

4. Appropriate desires for others (v.3, 25 – Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ…25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit).

Another important theological theme in Philemon, which I am again thankful for, challenged by, and humbled through, is the theme of having appropriate desires for others. It seems to me that all too often I desire merely physical, emotional, and spiritual contentment for others.

I love that in Paul we see a desire for something more: “3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ…25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit…”. Stemming, no doubt, from his love for others, is Paul’s desire for grace and peace for others.

You can almost feel Paul’s longing for God’s favor to fall on Philemon and the church. You can almost fell Paul’s longing for God to bless and sustain Philemon and the church. You can almost feel Paul’s longing for God to bear fruit in and through Philemon and the church.

Grace, may we long for God to lavish grace upon others. And may we be willing to be used by God as a means of lavishing grace upon others.

5. Thankfulness to God (v.4a – I thank my God always when I remember you).

It is when I read passages like this, under the influence of the Spirit, that I recognize my pathetic lack of thankfulness. In a sermon that I heard recently by C.J. Mahaney he described the scream of the Damned, “’Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me’" (Mark 15:34)? Jesus’ scream here, Mahaney laments, was meant for us! We deserve to be the ones on the cross in agony. We deserve to be the ones forsaken by God.

Even the most basic, simple, child-like understanding of what Jesus did for us on the cross and in the grave must produce overwhelming thankfulness in us; thankfulness for our life and breath, thankfulness for our food and shelter, thankfulness for our minds and hearts tuned into Jesus, thankfulness for our families, thankfulness for our friends, thankfulness for our churches, thankfulness for our pastors, thankfulness for our own salvation, and, as we see in Paul in verse 4, thankfulness for the salvation of others.

Grace, may we be a church that fights against self-pity and discontentment and grumbling and complaining. Instead, may we be a church marked by thankfulness. Indeed, what ailment or struggle or difficulty can compare to that of Jesus on the cross or overshadow the favor of God in our lives?

6. Prayer as a natural result of thankfulness, love, faithfulness, fruitfulness, joy, and comfort (vs.4-6 – I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and all the saints, 6 and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ).

What’s the natural result of the first five things that we just looked at (faithfulness in all situations, persecution for the Gospel, love for people, appropriate desires for others, and thankfulness to God)? What’s the appropriate response to faithfulness of the saints, fruitfulness in the saints, joy among the saints, and comfort for the saints?

We see in verses 4-7 that one natural result and one appropriate response is prayer. Paul cannot help but to express himself to God concerning these things. We see this in ourselves. It is built into our natures. When we experience grand things, exciting things, scary things, successful things we cannot help but to talk about them. We cannot not talk about them.
Paul leaves us the example of talking first to God. In recognizing the sovereignty and empathy of God in all things, Paul speaks first to God. In recognizing the complete fruitlessness of all things apart from God, Paul speaks first to God.

Grace, may we be a people of prayer. May prayer be the native tongue here. May we go first to God in recognition of the goodness and primacy and worthiness of God.

7. Joy and comfort in the things of God (v.7 – For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you).

In this passage we see Paul receiving joy, not from the worldly things that we so often chase after (money, relationships, toys, health, etc.), but from the things of God—in God-glorifying things (the faith of the saints, his love for saints, effective evangelism, depth of understanding concerning the Word of God among the saints, the centrality of Christ among the saints, the love of others among the saints, the physical and spiritual well being of the saints, and the nourishment of the saints through the service of the saints).

And in this passage we see Paul receiving comfort, not from the worldly things that we so often seek our comfort in (financial security, health, safety, etc.), but in God-glorifying things (the love of the saints and the refreshment of the saints).

Grace, may we receive joy and comfort from the things of God. And may we fight against our sinful desires to find these things in the world.

8. Investing in people (vs.23-24 - Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, 24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers).

I want to share a quote with you from a man named Dave Garda:
“[Discipleship], involves getting to know [people] outside the church setting! As [Christ-followers] we cannot sit in the office [or church] and expect…people to come to us. Jesus modeled the ultimate form of contacting—he became a human so he could be with us and die for us. Howard Hendricks describes the importance of contacting this way: ‘You can impress people at a distance; you can only impact them up close. The general principle is this: the closer the personal relationship, the greater the potential for impact’ (Leadership, Summer 1980). Ninety percent of [discipleship] is relationships – so the question is not whether [relationships] should be a part of discipleship, but how we can effectively build relationships [for discipleship]” (Sonlife Foundations p.69).

Paul, after Jesus, modeled this for us in his entire ministry, but we see it specifically here in vs.23-24. We see, in a passage that many of us probably skim over as relatively insignificant, a remarkably important biblical principle: one of our primary responsibilities in handling the gospel rightly is to invest in people/relationships.

Grace, may we be a church of relationships. May we fight against the temptation to be content in shallow, surface-level, impersonal, relationships. And may we fight against the temptation to rely solely on programs to build people up in their faith. Instead, may we allow others into our lives and be willing to enter the lives of others, for the glory of God and the good of others.

Daily Promise: My Name Is Written in Heaven

I came upon this promise to meditate and cling to today:

"18 And he said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." (Luke 10:18-20)

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Vacation: Day 9

Monday, July 14. Today we went bowling with the VanAckers which proved both fun and challenging. The floors will never be the same.

After Papa Murphy's pizza tonight we went to our friends house on the lake (the Callies) to go swimming. Afterwards, all the kids took a bath together.
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Good Job, EFCA on Statement of Faith

I am glad to be a pastor in the Evangelical Free Church of America and here is one reason why (read link):
HT: Justin Taylor
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Daily Promise - "He Will Fulfill His Purpose for Me"

Daily we need to cling to the amazing promises of the gracious God to us undeserving, forgiven sinners. Here is a promise I need to cling to today which was in my Bible reading this morning:

"The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands." (Psalm 138:8)

No matter what happens to me I can rest in God's commitment to this promise. He will not forsake the work of His hands (me).

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Vacation: Day 8

Sunday, July 13. It is weird being on vacation on a Sunday as the preaching pastor. It is good to have a break, but I miss being at my own church, worshipping with the local body and preaching from God's word.

We biked to the FL library today. Grace and Buddy are doing great on the bikes (see video if it works).

Tonight we had our last regular season game for our church softball team. Unfortunately we didn't play so well. We had fun at Culvers afterwards.
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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Go Dad/Packers

Molly and the kids were at the halfway point at the 5k run to cheer me on. Elijah (age 2) with great zeal called out to me:

"Go Packers, go!"

That's my boy.
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Vacation: Day 7

Saturday, July 12. Today began very early as we all loaded up and left FL at 7am to go to Robbinsdale to join the Sotis family for the morning. I ran a 5K with Jamey (see earlier post) and the kids and moms sat at the halfway point to cheer us on.
After brunch the kids went to a Cheerio scramble which you can see in the picture.

We went to church at Bethlehem Baptist tonight and Piper preached on the importance of church membership.
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Fighting Each Other

I am reading "15 Stars: Eisenhower, MacArthur, Marshall".

I read this quote from a British general's diary that reminds me of internal strife that can take place in the church:

"Running a war seems to consist in making plans and then ensuring that all those destined to carry it out don't quarrel with each other instead of the enemy." (Page 164)
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5K Run in Robbinsdale MN

I was able to run my first 5K of the year at Robbinsdale's Whiz Bang Days. I ran with Dr. Jamey Sotis a long time friend.

For me it was a good run with much to improve on:
Time 25:47 (8:18 per mile). I was 27th overall and 6th in my age group.
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The Extrodinary Ordinary

My guess is that many of you, like me, have not heard many sermons from the book of Philemon. With Pastor Daniel on vacation for the next two weeks and my desire to teach on a book of the Bible, and after a good deal of prayer and thought, I believe that Philemon will be an excellent investment for our next two weeks.

This week my sermon text is Philemon 1-7 and 23-25. From it I hope to answer five questions :
1. What is Philemon all about?
2. Why is Philemon in the Bible?
3. What does Philemon say?
4. What are the important theological themes in Philemon?
5. What application might we come away with from Philemon?

Please pray for me as I finish preparing the message.

What to See Something Majestic?

In the movie "The Bucket List" on of the guys wants to see something really majestic before he dies. His idea is the Himalayan mountains.

Here is something more majestic - Luke 9:37-43. Here Jesus casts out a demon from a boy and saves him. Verse 43 says - "and all were astonished at the majesty of God."

What is more majestic than seeing the healing work of Jesus or the Satan-overcoming work of the Son of man?

Want to see something truly majestic? Bring the Gospel to sinners and watch God show His majesty.
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Friday, July 11, 2008

Vacation: Day 6

Friday, July 11. Today was a day of water balloons, haircuts and blowouts (parents, you know what I am talking about). We filled water balloons and took them to the park before in stormed. The temp was in the low 90s. Tomorrow we go to Robbinsdale with the Sotis and I will be running a 5K.
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I Would Cheer for the Vikings if...

More on Brett Favre and his comeback. I never thought I would say this but I think I could handle Favre coming to the Vikings (read for one or two final seasons. After overcoming an emotional reaction to the idea, I now think I would cheer for him and the Vikings while he was their QB. Of course I would continue to cheer the Pack on and when it. came to head to head (imagine the ratings) I would be wearing masculine colors (green and gold) no doubt about it.

I don't think it is beyond the scope of possibility that the Packers would release Favre given that he has officially asked to be released today (see ).

If Favre gets to choose where he wants to go, he will want to play with a team that is a QB away from being a contender. There are few if any that fit this description. The Vikings have potential but not with T-Jack. The Vikings would be STUPID to turn down number 4. However, they are the Vikings (copyright Hershal Walker).

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Winning and Argument

Some wise and true words from Abraham Piper:

I’ve only ever won arguments with people who like me.

If your only goal in arguing is to make a point, argue on.

If your goal is to convince, develop rapport first.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Vacation: Day 5

Today we went to William O'Brien State Park which is about 15 miles away. We had a great time in spite of the T-storm and the fact that potty training Elijah had diarea non stop. That makes things very interesting. Any tips on getting your toddler to sleep in past 6:30 AM?
The three older kids and dad have colds.
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Happy Birthday John Calvin

It's John Calvin's birthday (on of my heros). Please read the link below as appreciate the diligence of this preacher.

Click here.

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Your Bucket List

On Sunday night Molly and I watched "The Bucket List" (see with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. The bucket list is the list of things you want to do or accomplish before you "kick the bucket." Both men receive news that their cancer means they have less then a year to live so they make a list and with the help of Jack's endless resources and set out to cross out everything on the list. The list included skydiving, racing cars, traveling all over the world and seeing something truly majestic among other things.

I couldn't help but ask myself the question: "what would be on your bucket list?" And the question we should all ask is this: "what would the bucket list of a follower of Jesus look like?"

- to know Christ and Him crucified

- to fellowship in Christ's sufferings

- to taste and see the goodness of the Lord

- to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord

- to pursue the faith and joy and holiness of my family

- to preach the Gospel where Christ hasn't been preached


Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it. . . And whoever loses his life for Christ will gain it.

For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.

I consider all things as rubbish (including worldly bucket lists) in order that I might know Christ. Philippians 3.


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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Vacation: Day 4

Wednesday, July 9. Today's big event is McDonalds--always a winner with our kids. Elijah's potty training went to a new level at McDonalds as he made a royal MESS in the bathroom (he went into the kids bathroom without informing us until it was too late). Wisely, Molly packed a change of close for him in the diaper bag.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Vacation: Day 3

Tuesday, July 8. It's good to be home at the start of a vacation; no hectic or stressful packing and the kids do so much better sleeping in their own beds. It has been a joy to spend extended time with the older three kids. Grace and Buddy learned to ride their bikes without training wheels a few weeks ago and we went on a 3 1/2 mile ride together. They loved it and Buddy kept commenting on how his legs are getting stronger because of the ride for basketball, baseball, soccer and running. He is already in training mode. We went to the Arts in the Park in Forest Lake and Grace fell in the lake while climbing on the rocks. It just scared her. Oh, by the way, Elijah is potty training himself. More on that some other day.
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More on Favre

Below is a link to a recent ESPN article about Favre and why the Packers should beg him to come back. As a die hard I want him back as our QB even if he announced his retirement in March.

What if he came back but went to another team? That would be horrible. The team with potential that needs him the most (besides the Packers) is the Minn Vikings. I don't know what I would do.
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Monday, July 7, 2008

Vacation Day 2: 7 Years Together

Monday, July 7th. Today is our 7 year wedding anniversary. I praise God for His grace to us in bringing us together and making these 7 years a time of escalating joy and unity. Molly is truly Better Than I Deserve.

Molly asked me today how marriage has been sanctifying to my soul. I think the self-revelation that results in a close marriage has opened my eyes to my sinful and selfish heart. This has resulted in a greater appreciation of God's grace and slow but true growth in holiness.
7 years, 4 children, 5 1/2 years of pastoral ministry. God is so good. No 7 year itch by this husband by God's grace. Each year gets better and better.
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Vacation Day 1

Sunday: July 6. We technically started vacation on Sunday so I will call it day 1. We had a refreshing time at the Bergeson's pool. Elijah is fearless in the deep end. At least he kept his shorts on this time.

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Patz Family Vacation Begins

Starting this afternoon (I preached this morning) we are starting our 2 week family "Stay-cation"--meaning we are on vacation but staying at home. We have some fun things planned throughout the two weeks, including celebrating our 7 year anniversary tomorrow.

Don't worry (:) I plan to give updates with pictures of our vacation from my handy-dandy Blackberry.

Don't worry (if you are still worried) Pastor Dave has agree to do some substitute blogging. Let's see if he will step up to the plate.

Off to eat and swim...

Barnabas Resembles His Grandpa

Yesterday my five year old daughter made a flawed observation that our newborn, Barnabas, looks like his grandpa Patz. I asked her why she thought so, and she said it was because he doesn't have hair on the top of his head. I guess it makes sense to her mind.
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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Out of the Mouths of Forgiven Sinners

In reading the rough draft to Dave's newest booklet for the Discipleship Groups I read this statement that I love:
For our good and His glory, God determined that the Gospel of forgiveness would get to the hands, heart, and mind of sinners through the hands, heart, mind, and mouth of forgiven sinners. In order to engage in evangelism, then, we must commit ourselves to cultivating relationships with non-Christians.
Consider these 2 quotes (HT: Dave VanAcker) regarding this subject:

“In our [churches] we are often so busy saying, ‘Come, come, come. Come to our…program. Come to our beautiful facility. Come to our activity.’ We even have it turned around so that we find ourselves getting mad, disgusted and discouraged with…people because they don’t come. And yet Jesus modeled going. How can we expect others to come before we have gone to them” (Sonlife Foundations p.66)?

“Contacting, or reaching [people] on their turf, involves getting to know [them] outside the church setting! As [Christ-followers] we cannot sit in the office [or church] and expect…people to come to us. Jesus modeled the ultimate form of contacting—he became a human just so he could be with us and die for us. Howard Hendricks describes the importance of contacting this way: ‘You can impress people at a distance; you can only impact them up close. The general principle is this: the closer the personal relationship, the greater the potential for impact’ (Leadership, Summer 1980). Ninety percent of discipling [ministry] is relationships – so the question is not whether contacting should be a part of discipleship, but how we can effectively build relationships…” (Sonlife Foundations p.69).