Monday, June 30, 2008

"Are Bad Guys Real?"

I was cutting the grass last week and my 4 year old, Paul, was trying to get my attention because he had an important question. I stopped the mower, turned off my audio book/mp3 player and said-- "what is it Buddy?"

"ARE BAD GUYS REAL?" he exclaimed.

I told him they were, but God was BIGGER.
1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Tozer and our Thoughts About God

If you like A. W. Tozer (and I do) you will like this piece by Tim Challies.

THE HEAVIEST OBLIGATION


If you don't know much about him or read any of his books read:

The Knowledge of the Holy

The Pursuit of God

John Piper and Guns and a Rebuttal

On Sunday Piper wrote on his blog about guns:

What do the supreme court ruling on guns and the martyrdom of missionaries have to do with each other?

Noël and I watched Beyond Gates of Splendor, the documentary version of End of the Spear, the story of the martyrdom of Jim Elliot, Peter Fleming, Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, and Nate Saint in Ecuador in 1956. That same day we heard that the Supreme Court decided in favor of the right of Americans to keep firearms at home for self-defense.

Here’s the connection. The missionaries had guns when they were speared to death. One of them shot the gun into the air, it appears, as he was killed, rather than shooting the natives. They had agreed to do this. The reason was simple and staggeringly Christlike:

The natives are not ready for heaven. We are.

I suspect the same could be said for almost anyone who breaks into my house. There are other reasons why I have never owned a firearm and do not have one in my house. But that reason moves me deeply. I hope you don’t use your economic stimulus check to buy a gun. Better to find some missionaries like this and support them.


Here is a Rebuttal to Piper's argument by the "Thirsty Theologian."

Here is what he has to say:

Before I begin, I want to say that I appreciate John Piper’s ministry immensely. I have listened to him preach, and, deo volente, will again. I have read some of his books, and there are a couple still on my shelf that I am eager to read. Nothing I am about to say should be taken as a slight to his character or ministry.

However . . .

Today I must strenuously disagree with John Piper. I’ve disagreed with him before, but never like this. In most other disagreements, I’ve at least had some empathy with his position. In this case, I have none; his logic is badly flawed.

If it was almost anyone else, I’d probably ignore it; but John Piper has a following of bloggers who run to their keyboards every time he moves, gasping breathlessly at the profundity of his latest twitch. So I expect to see his latest statement spread virally all over the blogosphere in this and following weeks. In fact, I’m seeing it start already, and it was only posted this morning (it’s Sunday as I write this). And, though his sentiments are noble, I think they are completely wrong-headed, and deserve a rebuttal.

I’m referring to his statement on the Desiring God blog concerning the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the 2nd Amendment was properly (though narrowly) upheld.

Dr. Piper made no statement on the court’s decision per se. His statement addressed why he would not use a gun to defend his home, and expressed his hope that no one else would, either. He used, as his example, Jim Elliot and his fellow missionaries, who chose not to defend themselves against the spears of their attackers because “The natives are not ready for heaven. We are.”

I tend to believe that those young missionaries made the right choice. However, I don’t believe their reasoning applies in the vast majority of home-defense situations. My reasons are as follows (none of them would have applied in the jungles of Ecuador):

  • In the majority of instances of defensive firearms use, no shots are fired. The threat is enough to subdue or put to flight the perpetrators. Yet being confronted with a violent response increases their fear of other potential victims, most of whom “are not ready for heaven.”
  • The knowledge that potential victims, most of whom “are not ready for heaven,” might be armed is a known deterrent to criminals. Violent crime is highest in unarmed cities, and is known to decrease when citizens of those cities arm themselves.
  • When an assailant is shot, more is accomplished than stopping the immediate crime: his future crimes — primarily against people who “are not ready for heaven” — are prevented; and a societal atmosphere is created in which criminals are more likely to think twice before attacking.
  • While you can be sure that an intruder in your home is “not ready for heaven,” neither are most of his past and future victims — and you can be sure that there are, or will be, others. Sacrificing yourself only leaves him free to move on to his next victim, who is most likely — say it with me, now — “not ready for heaven.”

Piper’s goal of saving the lives of those who “are not ready for heaven,” though noble, is misdirected. It would be better served by doing whatever is necessary to stop the violent criminals who kill them.

Postscript: That was to be the end of this post, but a couple of additional points have crossed my mind.

  • I realize that John Piper’s children are all grown and it’s just he and his wife at home. But many of us have children at home, and I am not one who assumes my children are “ready for heaven” just because they say they believe in Jesus. Shall I not protect them? Shall I value the soul of a murderer above theirs?
  • Can a Calvinist really believe that evil must be allowed to go unchecked because God hasn’t had a chance to save the evildoers yet? In other words, is this really a dilemma at all?


Saturday, June 28, 2008

From the Pulpit of Charles Spurgeon - Selfish Christianity

Here is a quote from Charles Spurgeon's sermon on 2 Kings 7:9 called "A Public Testimony - A Debt to God and Man."

I am going to talk to some at this time (I do not know how many of the sort may be here) who think that they have found the Savior, who believe that they are saved, who write themselves down as having truly enjoyed religion, and who imagine that now their sole business is to enjoy themselves. They delight to feed on the word, and to this I do not object at all; but then, if it is all feeding and nothing comes of it, I ask to what end are they fed? If the only result of our religion is the comfort of our poor little souls, if the beginning and the end of piety is contained within one’s self, why, it is a strange thing to be in connection with the unselfish Jesus, and to be the fruit of his gracious Spirit. Surely, Jesus did not come to save us that we might live unto ourselves. He came to save us from selfishness. (862)

Scripture for Tomorrow's Sermon

Here is the Scripture for tomorrow's sermon at Grace Church called "Are We Doing Right With the Gospel?"

2 Kings 6:24-7:20

Afterward Ben-hadad king of Syria mustered his entire army and went up and besieged Samaria. (25) And there was a great famine in Samaria, as they besieged it, until a donkey's head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and the fourth part of a kab of dove's dung for five shekels of silver. (26) Now as the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried out to him, saying, "Help, my lord, O king!" (27) And he said, "If the LORD will not help you, how shall I help you? From the threshing floor, or from the winepress?" (28) And the king asked her, "What is your trouble?" She answered, "This woman said to me, 'Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.' (29) So we boiled my son and ate him. And on the next day I said to her, 'Give your son, that we may eat him.' But she has hidden her son." (30) When the king heard the words of the woman, he tore his clothes--now he was passing by on the wall--and the people looked, and behold, he had sackcloth beneath on his body-- (31) and he said, "May God do so to me and more also, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat remains on his shoulders today."

(32) Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him. Now the king had dispatched a man from his presence, but before the messenger arrived Elisha said to the elders, "Do you see how this murderer has sent to take off my head? Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door and hold the door fast against him. Is not the sound of his master's feet behind him?" (33) And while he was still speaking with them, the messenger came down to him and said, "This trouble is from the LORD! Why should I wait for the LORD any longer?"

7:1 But Elisha said, "Hear the word of the LORD: thus says the LORD, Tomorrow about this time a seah of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria." (2) Then the captain on whose hand the king leaned said to the man of God, "If the LORD himself should make windows in heaven, could this thing be?" But he said, "You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it."

(3) Now there were four men who were lepers at the entrance to the gate. And they said to one another, "Why are we sitting here until we die? (4) If we say, 'Let us enter the city,' the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. So now come, let us go over to the camp of the Syrians. If they spare our lives we shall live, and if they kill us we shall but die." (5) So they arose at twilight to go to the camp of the Syrians. But when they came to the edge of the camp of the Syrians, behold, there was no one there. (6) For the Lord had made the army of the Syrians hear the sound of chariots and of horses, the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, "Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to come against us." (7) So they fled away in the twilight and abandoned their tents, their horses, and their donkeys, leaving the camp as it was, and fled for their lives. (8) And when these lepers came to the edge of the camp, they went into a tent and ate and drank, and they carried off silver and gold and clothing and went and hid them. Then they came back and entered another tent and carried off things from it and went and hid them.

(9) Then they said to one another, "We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king's household." (10) So they came and called to the gatekeepers of the city and told them, "We came to the camp of the Syrians, and behold, there was no one to be seen or heard there, nothing but the horses tied and the donkeys tied and the tents as they were." (11) Then the gatekeepers called out, and it was told within the king's household. (12) And the king rose in the night and said to his servants, "I will tell you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we are hungry. Therefore they have gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the open country, thinking, 'When they come out of the city, we shall take them alive and get into the city.'" (13) And one of his servants said, "Let some men take five of the remaining horses, seeing that those who are left here will fare like the whole multitude of Israel who have already perished. Let us send and see." (14) So they took two horsemen, and the king sent them after the army of the Syrians, saying, "Go and see." (15) So they went after them as far as the Jordan, and behold, all the way was littered with garments and equipment that the Syrians had thrown away in their haste. And the messengers returned and told the king.

(16) Then the people went out and plundered the camp of the Syrians. So a seah of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the LORD. (17) Now the king had appointed the captain on whose hand he leaned to have charge of the gate. And the people trampled him in the gate, so that he died, as the man of God had said when the king came down to him. (18) For when the man of God had said to the king, "Two seahs of barley shall be sold for a shekel, and a seah of fine flour for a shekel, about this time tomorrow in the gate of Samaria," (19) the captain had answered the man of God, "If the LORD himself should make windows in heaven, could such a thing be?" And he had said, "You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it." (20) And so it happened to him, for the people trampled him in the gate and he died.

Jesus in China

On Tuesday night there was a PBS Frontline program called "Jesus in China."

Here is a sneak preview of the program






I think you can watch the entire program at the PBS website here.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Covenant Eyes -- Internet Accountability

The internet is neutral. It's neither good nor bad. It can be used for great things (helpful resources, connecting with friends, information, etc.) and destructive things. What's bad is the sinful heart.

PORNOGRAPHY is everywhere on the web. The painful facts are that most men have viewed porn, do view porn and will use porn (the numbers of women are growing too).

I think every Christian should be proactive in protecting themselves and their families from the harmful uses of the internet. Therefore I recommend to you a helpful tool like COVENANT EYES.

Covenant Eyes is a monitoring software and a filtering softer (two options and two plans) that you put on your computer. I have been using this for more than 4 years. Every website I view is sent to a log and then to an accountability partner (or partners) of my choice. The serve can read if the site is sexually explicit and will highlight it and log it in a special section for the one who keeps you accountable.

Please check it out Covenant Eyes.

Free Friday -- "Free Grace Broadcaster"

Its Friday and we all like something FREE. I want to share with you a valuable resource and ministry that I have enjoyed for more than five years. The source is Mount Zion Baptist Church and the ministry or resource is "The Free Grace Broadcaster." It is a booklet of about 30 pages that they send out quarterly for FREE (they also print several small out of print Christian classics that are free). Each installment takes a topic and has 7-10 articles by men who are now dead but still speak quite powerfully (guys like Spurgeon, Ryle, Lloyd-Jones, Bunyan, Watson, and many Puritans).

Here is a link to which you can order this Broadcaster and receive it in the mail.

Here is the website that you can access online their previous publications.

Here are some of the past topics:

Biblical Parenthood (The most current)

Aspects of Justification
Aspects of Repentance
Assurance and Perseverance
Backsliding
Blood of Christ, The
Christ The Mediator
Christian Life, The
Comfort for the Afflicted
Communion/Union with Christ
Conversion
Covetousness
Cross of Jesus Christ, The
Death Is Coming: Flee from the Wrath of God
Evangelism
Evil Tongue, The
Faith
Faithfulness of God, The
Family Worship
Fear of God, The
Forgiveness

I only made it through F. Take a few minutes and order this great tool for the soul.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Why Do We Like Ice Cream Off the Blacktop?

On Monday my family was in Stillwater enjoying the sunny day, picnicking at the Teddy Bear park, and eating tremendous portions of ice cream at Nelson's Drive Inn Dairy. All my kids received a healthy portion of their choice of ice cream which happened to be rainbow sherbet. As I was enjoying my gigantic scoop of Snowflake ice cream (white chocolate, macadamian nut, etc.) I did my routine scan to make sure all the kids were properly in their places when to my horror I saw my son Elijah (if you ask him his name its -- ELIJAH JAMES EDWARDS PATZ) stooping on all fours with his tongue licking the blacktop hungrily where ice cream had fallen and melted probably more than an half hour ago. The goofy grin on his face told me that he was enjoying his filthy choice and he, knowing right well that his behavior was not in line with our expectations, took off running when I shouted out his name. Of course, he had plenty of ice cream in his bowl at the picnic table. Oh no, ice cream off the blacktop is more fun and yummy.

This reminds me of C. S. Lewis' famous quote from "The Weight of Glory" when he says that we are too easily pleased if we are not fully pursuing the joy that is in Jesus Christ an
d instead living for material possessions and joys.
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
Are we not unlike Elijah when we delight more in pizza and dough nuts rather than the One who is the Bread of Life; or when our cup of coffee or espresso, or whatever you like to drink brings greater anticipation to our hearts than talking to or about the Person who is the DRINK who is called the Living Water; or when we enjoy reading the paper, the sports magazine, the mystery novel or email more than the Word of God which offers to bring us into an all-satisfying relationship with our Creator; or when we care more about what is on TV then what's on God's agenda for our evening which might include time talking with our spouse, or reading the Bible, or serving a friend, or sharing the Gospel with your neighbor.

The only thing different is that Elijah pursuit of sour ice cream on the blacktop merely reveals normal childish behavior that needs to be corrected. Our preferences of inferior substitutes for God reveals our sinful hearts that need transformation by God's grace. Thankfully the cross of Christ and the work of the Spirit make maturity possibly.

Preaching and Worship


The Grace Church bulletin gives the order of service for the Sunday morning "worship service." For the sermon time it says: "Worship in the Word." This is on purpose.

I like what Mark Dever says about the Word and worship:
During a daylong seminar on Puritanism that I taught at a church in London, I remarked at one point that Puritan sermons were sometimes two hours long. A member of the class gasped audibly and asked, “What time did that leave for worship?” Clearly, the individual assumed that listening to God’s Word preached did not constitute worship. I replied that many English Protestants in former centuries believed that the most essential part of their worship was hearing God’s Word in their own language (a freedom purchased by the blood of more than one martyr) and responding to it in their lives. Whether they had time to sing, though not entirely insignificant, was of comparatively little concern to them.

—Mark Dever, What is a Healthy Church? (Crossway, 2007), 65, 67.

We Are "Jolly Beggars"

Here is a quote by C.S. Lewis from The Four Loves (pg. 149), about being desperately and delightedly dependent on God.
It is easy to acknowledge, but almost impossible to realize for long, that we are mirrors whose brightness, if we are bright, is wholly derived from the sun that shines upon us. Surely we must have a little- however little- native luminosity? Surely we can’t be quite creatures…Grace substitutes a full, childlike and delighted acceptance of our Need, a joy in total dependence. We become “jolly beggars”.
Now, like any good C. S. Lewis quote, you probably should reread it.

The Unobviousness of the Obvious

For what it's worth...

As a pastor I regularly see, what seem to me to be, obvious habitual sins in other Christians. That is, often times I'll witness someone who has a habit of gossiping or being selfish or abdicating their responsibility to lead their family well or failing to apply the Word of God in some other way to their lives. More difficult still is the fact that often times that which is obvious to me is not to them. Which brings me to the point: It would be foolish of me not to recognize that there are inevitably habitual sins in my life too which, although they may be obvious to others, are not obvious to me. Please join me, Jeremiah, and David in humbly asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the deceitfulnes of our own hearts and minds and to continue sanctifying us for His glory.


Jeremiah 17:9 "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?"


Psalm 139:23-24 "Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!"

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Proper GASP!

Here is an audio clip of Pastor Dave's introduction of his sermon on June 15th. He calls us to have a proper gasp of the Gospel.

You can go to this link and download it here or listen to it in the player below.

Drunk with the Gospel of Jesus

Now that I caught your attention with the title, please take the time to listen to this three and a half minute audio clip by Piper on the necessity of having truly tasted of Jesus and the result it will have on opening our mouths in proclaiming him to the lost (evangelism).


Here is the Link DRUNK ON THE GOSPEL


You can now play the clip below.

Are We Practical Apatheists?

Jonathan Rauch is a gay-activist who writes for the National Journal and The Atlantic Monthly, and when asked whether he was religious or not, he was about to say “atheist” when he was struck with the reality that he was an “apatheist.” (Apathy about a God)

“Apatheism—a disinclination to care all that much about one's own religion, and an even stronger disinclination to care about other people's—may or may not be something new in the world, but its modern flowering, particularly in ostensibly pious America, is worth getting excited about.”

In an article called “Let It Be” (in the Atlantic Monthly several years ago), Rauch shares his excitement about the modern/post-modern American that has been strongly affected by apatheism. Less people who say they are Christians attend religious worship on a regular basis. They “believe” but there belief does not really make a difference in their lives, and it surely doesn’t make a difference what others believe.

Atheism is a passionate belief in no God, which is much different than apathesim. Apatheists can believe in God or disbelieve in God, but it really doesn’t matter, they are apathetic about it.

“’A world of pragmatic atheists,’ the philosopher Richard Rorty wrote, ‘would be a better, happier world than our present one.’ Perhaps. But best of all would be a world generously leavened with apatheists: people who feel at ease with religion even if they are irreligious; people who may themselves be members of religious communities, but who are neither controlled by godly passions nor concerned about the (nonviolent, noncoercive) religious beliefs of others.” (“Let It Be”)

Rauch and others with his point of view must be thrilled by the lasted survey on "Religious Tolerance" in America. In many ways it is a survey of religious indifferentism. You can read a New York Times article on it here. Christians are to show tolerance towards people of other faiths. This means we should love mormans, atheists and Muslims and not desire to put them in prison or kill them for their beliefs. Tolerance, however, does not mean that we think their beliefs are OK. Salvation is in Jesus Christ alone by faith alone through the power of the Gospel alone. Are we apatheists when we fail to actively pursue relationships with unbelievers and believers of other religions with the purpose of bringing them the TRUE GOSPEL by life and word? I wouldn't confess to be apatheist, but my lack of evangelistic fervor often says otherwise.

"New" Van Provision


God has been so good to me and my family. Yesterday I took a Grey Hound bus from St. Paul to the Wisconsin Dells to pick up a van that was given to me by some close friends who are leaving the country next week (by His grace). We now have a vehicle that will hold our family (our Honda is wonderful but it has only six seat belts)--a 1999 Nissan Quest. Another evidence of Grace!

Reaching the Lost - Sermon and Testimony


I was so encouraged last Sunday morning when Tim Harris shared his testimony about his conversion. I loved his honesty--"I almost didn't come this morning because I was so nervous." Tim was rescued from a life of drug addiction and sin on Easter 2007 in a jail. He has received forgiveness for his sins through Jesus Christ and has been born again. I think of these verses as I think about Tim:
Ephesians 4:22-24 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, (23) and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, (24) and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
This truly has been happening in Tim since his conversion by God's grace.

It was then great to hear from Saul Selby who shared his testimony of coming to faith in Jesus from an atheistic, drug-addicted past.

Saul challenged us with the significance that God uses people to TELL others the truth of the Gospel which saves. God uses PEOPLE to bring the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ to others.
Romans 10:13-15 For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (14) How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? (15) And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!"
You can download Tim's testimony and Saul's sermon here or go to the sermons page at www.gracewyoming.com.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Retirement and the Christian - Part 1

How should Christians think about "retirement"? My mid sixties seem so far away, but each year seems to go faster than the one before. Many of you are closer to "retirement" or have already entered that status. How does one think Christianly rather than culturally about the recent invention of retirement? Bob Rayburn says:

It is certainly fair to say that it is not obvious in the Bible that it is our Heavenly Father’s intention that we should work until we are 62 or 65 years of age and spend the remainder of our years touring the United States in our RV (that is, if we had a defined benefit retirement plan that has not gone bankrupt and we can afford the gasoline!).

Here is a challenging video clip by John Piper on retirement -- "DON'T WASTE YOUR RETIREMENT.


Sharing the Gospel Next Door - Testimony

Please take the time to read this testimony by Matt Howard about the opportunity he had to share the gospel with his neighbors last Monday.

Grace Church,

After a recent discipleship group God once again showed Himself to be powerful and amazing.

For years now I have listened to drunkenness, cursing, yelling and all manner of dysfunction come from one of the houses in my neighborhood. Also over the years I have developed a friendship/relationship with the family. We've talked around campfires and exchanged different lawn and garden services as needed.

Sunday He had laid it on my heart to share the Gospel with family. The desire came with such urgency that I couldn't ignore it. It was time.

On Monday, as we studied the chapter about being debtors, I felt like I was going to burst out of my skin because I absolutely had to share the Gospel with them. Steve ran and got me a couple of Gideon New Testaments, Brian prayed for the witnessing encounter to come and the spiritual groundwork had been laid.

We got home from DG group and I immediately changed clothes, grabbed my garden hoe and weeded in the garden waiting for them to come home. They did come home. They were all there. They weren't drunk and they had just been fishing and had a full stringer. They were so excited to show us the stringer of fish, they invited Annie and I in to their house to see them. I couldn't believe it!
So there we all were: four adult men from their family, one woman and two young girls and me and Annie.

After we finished admiring the fish and having small talk, I said, "So I've known you guys for quite a few years now and I have something very important to tell you."
They all said, "oh no we're in trouble!"
I assured them it wasn't bad, but very very good.
I told them that I had some things to ask them about spiritual things.

I said, "I have twenty dollars sitting at my house for anybody here that passed the good person test. Anybody want to try and win twenty bucks?"
They all ended up wanting to win the money, so I went through the good person test with each of them right in row.

"John, have you ever killed anyone?"
nope
"Have you ever told a lie?"
yes
"What does that make you?"
a liar I suppose

"Ah $%#! John, you failed the good person test," said Jack who was standing over by the door.

We went through everyone in the room seeing if they could pass the test by going through a couple of the ten commandments. Not one person passed and it quickly became obvious that none was going to win the twenty dollars.

I then shifted the conversation.

"It says in scripture that it is appointed for a man once to die and then face judgment. If you were to die today and stand before God to be judged do you think you'd go to heaven or hell?"

Almost in unison they all said, "Heaven...we hope."

"Why would God let you in?" I asked. "What qualifies you to get into heaven?"

The father and his brother said, "If you do more good things than bad, you can make up for them."
Then John said, "The Bible says God is a forgiving God. And furthermore if you obey your father and mother and do good by them you're following one of the commandments."

So I said, "How much trouble would you get in if you vandalized my house?"
They said, "Lots, I suppose. Probably get a ticket and have to go to court."
Then I said, "How much trouble would you be in if you vandalized the governor's mansion?"
"More," they said.
"And what if you vandalized the White House? How much trouble would you be in?"
"We'd be locked up for a long time then!" they said.
Then I asked, "What if you vandalized the house of the infinitely big and holy God of the universe? How much trouble would you be in?"

And one of the first grade age girls exclaimed, "An infinite amount of trouble!!"

Jack exploded with surprise, as only Jack can, "That's exactly right! She's exactly right!"

"So would you say that the debt that we would owe God would be infinite and unable to be paid back?" I asked.

"Yes, it seems that way" they all agreed.

"You see," I said, "the punishment for our sin depends more on the nature of the one sinned against than the nature of the crime. The bigger the person we do a bad thing against, the bigger the consequences and punishment."

"So what does that mean for us then?" I asked. "There we are standing before the infinitely holy and perfect God of the universe on our judgment day and we've all told a lie and broken His law. He brings down the gavel and pronounces us what?......."

"Guilty." They all said.

"I guess we're all going to hell," exclaimed the father. "We've known that our whole lives Matt. Is that all you came to tell us? Is there any more to this?"

"Absolutely!" I said, practically jumping out of my seat. "There's is some VERY good news."

"2000 years ago God sent His son Jesus to earth. Jesus said He was God and He proved it by doing miracles and having wisdom and power that couldn't be explained away. He lived a perfect life, He never sinned, and then He was killed on a cross."

The little girls gasped, "Oh no! no!"

"Yes," I said. He was killed for us. In the Bible it tells us that Jesus who knew no sin became sin for us. He took all of our sin into Himself. In Isaiah chapter 51 it says that it pleased the Lord to crush His Son. God the Father looked upon Jesus all full of our sin and He punished Him with an infinitely big punishment. The punishment that was due to us, Jesus took. He died and raised from the dead three days later to break the power that sin and death have over us. Scripture tells us that if we place our faith in Jesus we will be saved from the wrath of God. If we repent, turn from our sin and turn to God we will be saved. Believe on the Lord Jesus and be saved."

"Wow, I've never heard it like that before." Jack said. "I've never heard it with those words before."

I then handed them the Knowing God tract that I printed off on two pages of paper. I handed them the two Gideon New Testaments and pointed them to the back of them where the Gospel was clearly written. They thanked me for sharing with them and I told them that if they ever had any questions or if they wanted to talk about anything spiritual they could feel free.

There were no tears, sinners prayers or visible signs that anything was accomplished, but in my spirit I knew that the Lord was powerfully moving in order to get the words of life to them and sink them deep into their hearts.

We chatted about things, they invited us to go fishing with them and Annie and I went home worshipping and praising God together that He had orchestrated such an amazing encounter.

Please pray for this family. Pray that God would save them and bring them to repentance and give them saving faith through His word working in their hearts. Pray for Annie and I that we would continue to have an effective witness to them both in words and in deeds.

Praise Him!
Matt

Friday, June 20, 2008

Suicide and the Question of True Faith

Yesterday I received a call from a friend who recently found out that his cousin had committed suicide. The question came up (and it probably has crossed your mind before) regarding suicide and salvation. Can a person who commits suicide go to heaven? Or, can a TRULY saved person commit suicide?

These are questions that you may face as you deal with the lose of someone you know or when questions come from friends and relatives.

The short answer to the main question (can they go to heaven) is YES. It is possible. Suicide is not the unpardonable sin.

However, it is important to look more thoroughly at the Scriptures to think rightly on this subject.

I encourage you to read the following two sermons on this subject by Piper:

"A Funeral Meditation for a Christian who Committed Suicide"

and

"Funeral Message for Luke Kenneth Anderson" (someone I knew when I was at Bethlehem)


Also -- A very help answer to the question can be found by Massimo Lorenzini in this article called-- "Can a Person who Commits Suicide Be Saved?"


Finishing Well

When I was in seminary, I listened to a series of sermons by John Piper that he preached and a conference for those who are entering (or have entered it a while ago) the second half of their life. He made a call to them to be counter-cultural in their thinking and to FINISH WELL. I like that concept! I am 32 years and I may have 1 day, 1 month, 1 year, 1 decade or 5 decades left to live--but I want to finish well. I want to be faithful. I want to say with Paul - "I finished my course and fought the good fight of faith."

Whether you are young or old, if you are a disciple of Jesus it is important to think on these things. Here is a sermon by Jerry Bridges (author of The Practice of Godliness) called "Four Essentials to Finishing Well."

You can listen to it, watch or download it.

You can also purchase the series by Piper I mentioned above called "Finishing Well" here.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hard Words for Fathers - Part 3 - "Hold Your Pride Under"

Here is the third installment of Doug Wilson's "Hard Words for Fathers." If you haven't read the first two you can find them here.

As a parent myself, his words in this article were convicting and rung true to my own experience. He talks about listening to advice and constructive criticism from godly friends who may see your parenting situation more accurately. Beware of pride that will keep you from listening and may result in feeling offended.


Hold Your Pride Under

by Douglas Wilson

I said earlier that in your troubles with Jon, you needed to seek out someone who could help you, humble yourself and ask for that help. There is one other point that needs to made about this.

If the answer to your problem were obvious to you, then Jon wouldn't be an out of control discipline case. Neither would Mary, and we will need to talk about her later. Now, because the exact nature of the problem is not obvious to you, when you first seek out the input of someone who has biblical wisdom on these things, the chances are that what they say to you will have two characteristics. First, you will probably be surprised by what they say. Often, their input will tell you to do the exact opposite of what you thought you were supposed to be doing -- like trying to explain to a Southerner how to drive in snow. You have been trying to turn the wheel this way, but you actually should be trying to turn it the other way. Many aspects of this problem are because of the counterintuitive nature of the solution.

The second aspect of their input is a little more unpleasant. When you finally get real help, from someone who is really willing to tell you what is going on in your family, and how you got to the place where you are, it is in the highest degree likely that you or your wife, or both, will be offended. Part of the reason why you have gotten this far without hearing what you need to hear is that many of your friends instinctively know this. You will be tempted to think that the person who finally tells you "doesn't understand," or "doesn't care," or "has a simplistic approach," or "doesn't know your wife," and so on.

My point is not that the outside observer is perfect or omniscient. My point is that it is your son that is out of control, and you don't know why, and this other person is likely to have a better grasp of that than you do. And even if he doesn't, what good does it do to get offended? The temptation to take offense in a situation like this should be taken by you as a version of that children's game, where you tell the child he is getting warmer, warmer, warmer, until he finds the button. The more prickley and offended you feel yourself getting, the more godly advice is probably getting warmer, warmer, warmer. So fight the temptation to take offense. Roll with it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Evidences of Grace in Tim Harris

Three highlights for me in 2007 relate to a guy named Tim Harris. Harris is member of Grace Church and a personal friend and fellow member of my discipleship group.
  • The first of these three was when his friend (now wife), Michelle, asked me to pray for him--that he would be rescued from his horrible Meth addiction and receive salvation in Jesus Christ--and hearing months later the report of his salvation (in jail) and freedom in Christ over the bondage of drugs.
  • The second, is when I got to baptize Tim (as you see in the picture) during the summer -- as he testified publicly of his faith in Jesus, his commitment to follow Him, and of the radical new birth that had come into his life by the sovereign grace of God.
  • The third highlight was when I was given the privilege to marry Tim and Michelle in September [by the way -- Michelle's story of salvation is equally as dramatic and contrasting of the old and new life] at Grace Church on a Sunday afternoon. Two lives who had collided with each other for so many years in so many sinful and damaging ways, were now being harmoniously united in Christ for His glory and the joy of these two souls.
Both Tim and Michelle Harris have plunged themselves into the body of Christ at Grace Church and desire to grow as followers of Jesus and serve God and the body in whatever way they can.

This Sunday, Tim is going to share his testimony of conversion before the morning sermon preached by Saul Selby. Saul, who will be preaching, is a former-addict and is now running an evangelism ministry to the local jails in the surrounding counties. Tim was saved in jail.

Please pray for Tim and Saul as they share this Sunday.
Pray that God would enlarge our heart to delight in the Gospel and deliver it to others.

Saul Selby this Sunday at Grace Church

This Sunday, we have the privilege of having Saul Selby come to Grace Church to challenge us on Evangelism. Saul is a resident of Wyoming (MN) and is the director of Missionary Evangelism to Corrections an extensive evangelism ministry to the jails in Chisago County and other surrounding counties.

Saul, a former-addict, also runs a ministry called "Set-Free Recovery Ministries" which includes intervention and counseling for those enslaved to drugs and alcohol. Saul has authored several books, pamphlets and video series including the book Twelve Step Christianity.

Saul is going to challenge us to follow Jesus by paying "Grace Debts" (using Pastor Dave's language) to those around us who do not know or follow Jesus. His sermon is entitled -- "The Lost Art of Reaching the Lost."

He is also going to share with us some opportunities to get involved locally with evangelism to the jails.

Please pray for Saul and the service this Sunday -- and come!

Greeks, Barbarians and Grace Payments - Sermon

Pastor Dave VanAcker's sermon audio and notes are now online here.

I love how Dave unpacked the Gospel for us in this sermon.

The Title of the sermon is "Greeks, Barbarians and Grace Payments" from Romans 1:1-17.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sneak Preview for Sunday Sermon

Pray for pastor Dave VanAcker as he prepares his heart and mind for the preaching of the Word tomorrow at Grace Church. Dave is returning from vacation and is serving me and the church tomorrow by preaching on the seventh description of a Disciple of Jesus -- "A Debtor/Lover of People." He will preach from Romans 1:1-17 and his sermon is entitled: "Greeks, Barbarians and Grace Payments." Here is a sneak preview of the main points of his sermon. If you read this before Sunday, make these main points a prayer for your own life and heart and for those at Grace Church.

1. Following Jesus means rightly understanding and responding to the Gospel.

2. Rightly understanding the Gospel means recognizing the centrality and sovereignty of God in all things, the sinful, hopeless, helpless, condemned nature of man apart from God’s grace, and the redemptive, reconciliatory work of Jesus on the cross made efficacious by grace through faith.

3. Rightly responding to the Gospel means receiving the gifts of awe and wonder, brokenness and repentance, desperation and pleading, fear and trembling, thankfulness and rejoicing, love and adoration, acceptance and obedience, and faith and trust.

4. Upon understanding and receiving to Gospel, by grace through faith, we become grace debtors to everyone.

5. Our obligation to make grace payments (share the Gospel) will affect every area of our lives.


Here is a song that relates to the sermon and one that we plan to sing tomorrow morning.


Come Thou Fount - by David Crowder

Grace Church Media -- Sermon audio Archives


We now have a page for our church website that will contain our sermon audio archives.

You can find the sermons on our sermons page at the church website -- www.gracewyoming.com
or at www.gracewyomingmedia.com.

Here are the audio sermons for the last two weeks:

"Becoming a Suffering Servant" - June 1, 2008

"Growing in Godliness" - June 8, 2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hard Words for Fathers - Part 2 - "Flipping Through the Yellow Pages"

Here is the second installment of "Hard Words for Fathers" by Douglas Wilson:

Flipping Through the Yellow Pages

By Douglas Wilson

So your son is out of control, and you feel helpless. You don't know what to do. If you tell him to do something, and he doesn't want to, he throws down and there you are. He is defiant, says that he hates everybody, and you know the rest of the drill.

And yet Scripture says the one who refuses to discipline his son hates his son. "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes"(Prov. 13:24). Yes, you might say, but you don't know how to spank, and whenever you have tried it, the whole thing turns into an even bigger disaster than what you have now. It seems to you that the only thing God lets you do is make excuses.

Two things. First, those who know you and the situation and who see it with biblical wisdom see that your son is pleading for someone to love him enough to draw limits and enforce them. You think to yourself that he sure doesn't act like he pleading for anything. He acts like he is demanding the world and everything in it. Sure, but the logic still makes sense. How outrageous and out of control does he have to get before someone will love him enough to intervene? The more outrageous it is, the more you think that you can't do anything. The more outrageous it is, he might think, the more it proves that absolutely nothing will get you to love him.

And second, the plea of ignorance won't wash. If you don't know how to handle this, then find out. If your son had a rare form of cancer, would flipping through the yellow pages for five minutes ("we looked for treatment providers, but came up short") be sufficient to discharge your fatherly duties? No. If you don't know how to deal with this, then find somebody who does. Move if you need to. And don't stop looking until you find someone. And when you find them, humble yourself and ask for real help.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hard Words for Fathers - Part 1 - "A Barrier to Help"

I need help as a father. Raising kids in the discipline and instruction of the Lord is no easy task. I recently came across some helpful and convicting blog entries from Douglas Wilson called "Hard Words for Fathers." I am going to include them on this blog one at a time, one day at a time (at least). I need this advice and most likely, if you are a parent, so do you. Be honest as you read and be prepared to be convicted and helped.

A Barrier to Help

by Douglas Wilson at Blog and Mablog

Over the years, I have seen many hard cases of difficult kids not effectively loved by their fathers. Because I don't see the problem disappearing, I thought I would post a series of short pointed exhortations to a dad who has a problem child. The child actually has a problem dad, but the child doesn't think that. He is too confused, lost, and hurting to think about much of anything. I am going write these posts in the second person. I have no particular people in view; these problems should be taken as a composite. But I trust that some of those who read these posts here will see the applicability to their own situations. When I am talking about a boy I will call him Jon, and when she is a girl I will call her Mary.

* * *

You see Jon acting up in public settings and it embarrasses you. You know that there is a serious problem, and you find yourself frequently making generic excuses to people, but you don't do anything that will actually address the problem. You are not trying to help your son, but rather trying to smooth over awkward social situations for yourself. You are at church, and in front of others you ask Jon to do something for you, and he just stares at you and turns away. He ignores you, and so then you ignore him ignoring you. When he is gone, you make a lame joke to your friend about how Jon was up late last night, and is a real pain in the rear end when that happens.

One of the first things you need to recognize is that the central problem here is pride -- yours. There are people in your circle of friends or in your extended family who see the problem, and the causes of it, and who could very likely give you genuine, pointed help. But because of pride, these are the very people you are most likely to make excuses to, and are least likely to ask for their advice. You admire them, and their abilities with children, and so you are still trying to prove something to them instead of learning from them.

If the topic ever comes up, you may acknowledge that you have something of a problem, or a measure of difficulty, but you don't humble yourself completely. Because of this, the people who could really help you don't say everything they could; or they do and you don't hear it; or they do say it, and you hear it, but the next day your pride is back and most of their counsel is displaced by it.

But you don't want your pride to be the one barrier that prevents you from hearing what you need to hear, and learning what you need to learn. I am not talking about the people who think they know what your problem is -- I am talking about the people that you know understand what your problem is.

The Kindergarchy - Beware of Child-Centeredness

If you have kids or once upon a time you were a kid yourself, I would recommend reading Joseph Epstein's latest feature article in the Weekly Standard called "The Kindergarchy."

Epstein highlights the child-centeredness of our culture in comparison to how he was raised in the late 30s and 40s.

Although I do not agree with some of his conclusions or solutions, I think he highlights a dangerous attitude and sinful parental trend that has permeated our culture including Christian parents. He continually points out what he diagnoses as a over-attentiveness to children (our own children) that in the long run does more harm than good. It teaches them to think that they are significant in themselves and that they are the center of the universe.

Although Epstein conclusions and observations are not always biblically informed, and although I think he fails to acknowledge the sinful and negative tendencies and ways of his parent's generation (who raised the parents of the children of the sixties and seventies), he provides the modern day (or should I say -- "post modern") parent and former-child with a rather scary mirror and self-portrait. I encourage you to take a look and see how the culture of Kindergarchy has influenced you and your parenting.

Here is his article:
In America we are currently living in a Kindergarchy, under rule by children. People who are raising, or have recently raised, or have even been around children a fair amount in recent years will, I think, immediately sense what I have in mind. Children have gone from background to foreground figures in domestic life, with more and more attention centered on them, their upbringing, their small accomplishments, their right relationship with parents and grandparents. For the past 30 years at least, we have been lavishing vast expense and anxiety on our children in ways that are unprecedented in American and in perhaps any other national life. Such has been the weight of all this concern about children that it has exercised a subtle but pervasive tyranny of its own. This is what I call Kindergarchy: dreary, boring, sadly misguided Kindergarchy.
For the entire article, click here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Two Middle Names?


I get teased often (and I enjoy it) for the two middle names we have given to each of our sons. Last week someone jokingly remarked that he figured that we couldn't agree on a name so we gave Barnabas two middle names -- John Calvin (or Paul Stephan Lewis or Elijah James Edwards). At the risk of being vain and talking about my sons (and I am sure I have more vanity in me than I imagine), I thought I would use the explanation of my three sons middle name to recommend a few books and the general reading of biography (especially good Christian biography).

My three sons (wow, that sounds like a TV show) have three middle names, partially because I think it sounds cool and intelligent, and partially for a good reason. Each of their second middle names is one of my favorite authors or characters from church history. [Believe it or not, Molly was in for this move] Paul Stephan was given the second middle name "Lewis" after C. S. Lewis. Elijah James was given the second middle name of "Edwards" after Jonathan Edwards. Most of you can figure it out, that Barnabas was named after John Calvin.

Here are some great quotes on the reasons for reading good, Christian biography (quotes collected by John Piper):

Philips Brooks (an Episcopalian pastor in Boston 100 years ago) commented on the reading of Christian biography like this:
While it is good to walk among the living, it is good also to live with the wise, great, and good dead. It keeps out of life the dreadful feeling of extemporaneousness, with its conceit and its despair. It makes us always know that God made other men before He made us. It furnishes a constant background for our living. It provides us with perpetual humility and inspiration. (In W. Wiersbe, Walking with the Giants, p. 15)
Isaac Watts wrote:
The lives or memoirs of persons of piety, well written, have been of infinite and unspeakable advantage to the disciples and professors of Christianity, and have given us admirable instances and rules how to resist every temptation of a soothing or a frowning world, how to practice important and difficult duties, how to love God above all, and to love our neighbors as ourselves, to live by the faith of the Son of God, and to die in the same faith, in sure and certain hope of a resurrection to eternal life. (In James Reid, Memoirs of the Westminster Divines, p. iv)
Jonthan Edwards wrote:
There are two ways of representing and recommending true religion and virtue to the world; the one, by doctrine and precept; the other, by instance and example.

Here are three good biographies on the three men I mentioned above (with links to a review of each book):

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Growing in Godliness - Sermon

(1 Timothy 4:7-8) Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Here is the sermon manuscript from last Sunday's sermon. I am preaching a series called "Following Jesus" and this is the sixth sermon called "Growing in Godliness."

Jerry Bridges defines godliness as...

“...the idea of a personal attitude towards God that results in actions that are pleasing to God.”

I recommend reading Jerry Bridges book -- The Practice of Godliness.

Sermon audio should be available on Thursday of this week.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Growing Patz Family

Here are some family pictures from today's visit to the hospital in Wyoming. Mom and Barna are doing great!




Friday, June 6, 2008

Welcome Barnabas John Calvin Patz


Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet. (Acts 4:36-37)

I praise God with amazing wife, Molly, for the healthy birth of our third son (and 4th child), Barnabas John Calvin Patz, who was born at 8:47 PM on Friday, June 6th 2008 at the Fairview Hospital in Wyoming.

Barnabas was a hefty 9 lbs and 10 oz and was 21 ½ inches tall. Both the mom and boy are doing great (oh, and dad)!

Here are a few pictures and a video clip:


Molly this morning:



Here is the video clip:


The Greatest Sinner I Know

Please take the time to read this tremendous article by Tim Challies that challenges us to joyfully (because of the Cross of Christ) think about ourselves in these terms: "I am the Greatest Sinner I Know."

The Greatest Sinner I Know

I am going to pose a question and ask you to think for a minute or two before answering. Stop for a moment before you continue reading this article and answer this simple question. Who is the worst sinner you know? Chances are that you know hundreds of people. Perhaps a thousand. Think of all those people and ponder which one is the worst sinner of all.

I’ll wait.

Who did you think of? Perhaps you thought of a parent who did irreversible damage to you when you were only a child. Maybe you thought of a co-worker who delights in his own depravity, or maybe you thought of a friend or family-member who is imprisoned for what he has done. But if you were honest I hope you were able to admit that you know someone who is a far greater sinner than any of these.

Who do you know better than anyone else? Whose heart is laid before you in its entirety, so that you cannot escape the evil bubbling just beneath the surface and the far greater evil buried deep within? When I stop and think about the greatest sinner I know, I really have no choice but to admit that it is me. I am the greatest sinner I know. It feels good to say it. Good but humbling. I am the greatest sinner I know. I may not sin as much as the guy next door, but I see only a few of his evil deeds, so he cannot be the worst winner I know. I see every single one of mine. All day long, in everything I do and in every word I say, I see my own propensity towards evil.

I know how my heart grumbles when it should be glad, and how it is glad when it should cry out. I see how I can walk away from the poor, lonely and destitute and rarely think of them again. I know how I continually do the very things I least want to do and least should do, all the while avoiding those things I most want to do. Truly there is no end to the depravity of my heart. William Law, who lived in the 18th century, knew this. He said, “Nothing hath separated us from God but our own will, or rather our own will is our separation from God.” He said also that, “Self is the root, the tree, and the branches of all the evils of our fallen state.” The selfishness of my heart and my love for what is evil is both shocking and humbling. And it all begins with me.

The apostle Paul knew this. While there are few people in all of history most of us would be more eager to spend time with, and while there are few who have contributed more to the Christian faith, he looked into his heart and proclaimed himself the chief of sinners. “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:15,16).

Like Paul, William Law was the worst sinner he knew. He wrote, “We may justly condemn ourselves as the greatest sinners we know because we know more of the folly of our own heart than we do of other people’s.”

You are the worst winner you know. I am the worst sinner I know. Say it to yourself and let it sink in. Let it penetrate your heart and your conscience.

All is not lost.

Why did Paul proclaim himself the foremost of sinners? He was not dwelling on his own sinful nature, nor bemoaning his state. No, Paul was pointing, as he did in every area of his ministry, to the cross of Christ. The depravity of the apostle was great, but how much greater was the love of Jesus Christ! He received mercy so that Jesus might display His amazing grace.

In The Cross Centered Life, C.J. Mahaney writes of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet. “As Jesus reclines at the low table, leaning on one elbow, His feet stretched out away from the table, the woman stands over Him and begins to weep. All conversation ceases. The sound of her weeping grows in volume, filling the house and spilling out into the street. Her freely flowing tears wet His unwashed feet. She kneels down, takes down her hair, and with it begins to wash Jesus’ tear-stained feet. The she kisses them and anoints them with perfume as an act of worship.”

We have all heard this story many times. But maybe we have missed its full significance. This woman was not weeping out of remorse for her sin. She was not asking the Lord’s forgiveness, hoping that her cries would stir His heart to give her a word of blessing. She knew that she had already been forgiven. Her soul was cleansed, her past forgotten. And so she wept, crying out with joy, gratitude and devotion. Looking to the worst sinner she knew, she was filled with love for the One who had extended grace to her. And so she wept, providing for Christians of all ages a beautiful example of worshipful devotion. And so she wept.

The greatest of sinners requires the greatest Savior. I am the greatest sinner I know. Thankfully, because of God’s grace, I also know the greatest Savior. And so I weep.

Skittles -- "Taste the Rainbow"

OK, if you know me well, you know I am a border-line Skittles Addict. Therefore I can't help passing these Skittles commercials on to you:






Thursday, June 5, 2008

Books for Men to Read

Al Mohler challenges men to read books and says:


I am repeatedly asked about books that boys and men will want to read. The fact is that many guys just do not read for fun (if much at all) and yet, every now and then, they read a book that captures their attention. This list is for the moms and wives who are looking for a book that just might light that fire.

One reason for low interest in reading among males is the fact that much of the reading they are required to do in school is so uninteresting or demoralizing for boys. I believe that reading is appetitive. Readers develop a more ravenous appetite for books when they discover that they want to read and actually enjoy it. Here are some recent books that men and older teenagers are likely to enjoy.

Here is the link to the page with more detail but I have listed the names of the books below. They look good.

1. Michael Dobbs, One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War (Knopf, 2008).

2. Alex Kershaw, Escape from the Deep: The Epic Story of a Legendary Submarine and Her Courageous Crew (Da Capo Press, 2008).

3. Jamie James, The Snake Charmer: A Life and Death in Pursuit of Knowledge (Hyperion, 2008).

4. Stanley Weintraub, 15 Stars: Eisenhower, MacArthur, Marshall -- Three Generals Who Saved the American Century (Free Press, 2007) Also available in paperback edition.

5. Richard Brookhiser, George Washington on Leadership (Basic Books, 2008).

6. Andrew Nagorski,
The Greatest Battle: Stalin, Hitler, and the Desperate Struggle for Moscow that Changed the Course of World War II (Simon and Schuster, 2007).

7. Richard Preston,
Panic in Level 4: Cannibals, Killer Viruses, and Other Journeys to the Edge of Science (Random House, 2008).

8. Ian W. Toll, Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy (Norton, 2006).

9. Byron Hollinshead, editor,
I Wish I'd Been There: Twenty Historians Bring to Life Dramatic Events that Changed America (Doubleday, 2006).

10. Byron Hollinshead and Theodore Rabb, editors,
I Wish I'd Been There: European History (Doubleday, 2008).


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Bible Reading Plan - By Email

The daily reading and thinking upon the Bible is something that is important for all true followers of Jesus Christ. It is also a common struggle for many. I have found that a reading plan is very helpful to my consistency in reading and thinking upon (meditating) the Bible on a daily basis.

Here is a helpful link to various Bible Reading plans with the options (scroll down) to enter in your email address and receive daily emails with the Scripture you are to read in your chosen plan with the English version of your choice. In our discipleship group last meeting, someone asked if that was available. Here it is.

Here are the plans:
Whole Bible in a year
Old Testament in a year
New Testament in a year
Old Testament in two years
Words of Jesus 4 times in a year
Whole Bible chronologically in a year
Whole Bible chronologically in a year #2
New Testament Letters 3 times in a year
New Testament & Proverbs twice, Psalms once in a year
New Testament & Psalms twice, rest of Bible once in a year
Proverbs in a month
Gospels in a month
Psalms in a month