Blessings ~ In a Picture





Growing up on a Farm
Blessings.  This is the theme of a photo contest over at growing up on a farm.  I stumbled upon this encouraging little stop thanks to Dakota - who in turn stumbled upon me.  Providence is a great thing!
My picture is the sun setting during one of our family vacations at Round Lake.  I love being there.  It means family.  I remember taking this shot and thinking of everything that God has blessed me with.  As my eyes followed the beams of the setting sun to the “blazing centre” of its beauty, I had before me a living illustration of looking past the gifts to the giver of the gifts.
I am thankful for all that God has blessed me with.  This picture reminds me of every good gift - a wife, children, family, provision, beauty, creation, life.... But most of all, it points me to the giver, the gift, and the goal of the gospel - God Himself.
Before the foundation of the world, Christ
Loved me beyond measure
Every moment He planned for my good
So much He has given me
So little I deserve
I love Him 
Not for what He
Gives, but for Who He is


Lift Up the Light (Live) ~ Oaks Worship - A Review


It seems all the rage in today's mega-church Christianity to throw together a group of talented musicians in order to "cook" the worship.  While your at it, you might as well make a CD to market to the masses.  Hype is hip so long as you call it worship.  If that's what you're after in a worship album, then I hate to disappoint, but Lift Up the Light is not for you.


This is not hype, this is a worship; this is Oaks Worship.  I say that because when I listen, there is a very real sense of "this is not about me."  And that is what worship is.  It's realizing that you are in the presence of something or someone greater than you.  Lift Up the Light exalts Jesus.  It's message is clear; Christ is King.

As for the team, there is talent for sure.  My love of all things Shane & Shane is well known.  That said, this is not a Shane & Shane joint.    I must admit that my favourites on this CD are not by the Shanes. For the record my fave is "Forever".  Another nice feature, in my opinion, is that this is an album of all original material.  No taking a Church fave and doing your "own" version to pump sales.

From beginning to end, Lift Up the Light does not and will not disappoint. That is unless, you want to be made much of.  If that's the case, run, run now, there is nothing for you here.  Sorry, it's all about Jesus.  If that's what you're after - look no further.

When Will We Wake Up?

This is not happening a world away.  It is in our back yards, and it should disgust us. This is the type of thing Planned Parenthood is protecting.  Depravity in action.  Wake up Church!




Do We Believe The Bible?

A powerful word here from David Platt.  "Intellectual Universalism is dangerous, but Functional Universalism is worse."







HT / JT

"He points me to Jesus"


My daughter gave me a gift today.  As part of her school work she had to write a poem about who her hero is.  Here it is...

My Dad is my hero.

He plays with me.

He makes a slide in the back during the winter.

He points me to Jesus.

He takes me out on "date days".

He loves me.

He makes me laugh.

He helps me on my homework.

He buys me toys.

I am one very thankful "hero".  I know but for the grace of God, none of that would be a reality.  My daughter - thankfully - never knew the old me.  I was struck by the fact that the entire list reflects on time spent together, and only one - the last one - deals with stuff.  She is learning to look past the gifts to the giver of the gifts.  If I could only be known for one thing, it is that I "point her to Jesus."  To God alone be the glory.

Who are you pointing to?

Jesus Saves "H"


God is still in the business of saving lives!  I love this story of another refugee - "H" - who has called on the name of Christ to save him.  Thanks to Brett from "Loving the Overlooked" for sharing the story.
In recent communication we asked you to pray for 24-year-old “H”, an Afghan born and raised by Afghan refugees in Iran. He is still living with us. In the first few weeks he would frequently say things like, “Scott, talk about Jesus” or “Talk about sin” or “Talk about grace”, etc. If I tried to talk about anything else, he would say, “Why did you change the subject?!  Talk about Jesus!”

Two Fridays ago, while waiting together for a bus, I said, “H, talk to me…about Jesus.”  He paused with a very serious look on his face and said, “Honestly…honestly…nothing else…I see Jesus in you.”

Well, I have to say I was momentarily stunned and had to choke back my emotions.  Of course, I immediately told him that if he saw ANYTHING good in me it was because of Jesus because I know (especially in these days) how dark and sinful my heart really is.

This past Friday, while riding the bus together, he turned to me and said, “Scott, will you baptize me…?”  When I asked him why he wanted to be baptized, he replied, “Because I believe in Jesus.”  I asked, “The REAL Jesus or the Jesus of Islam?  The Jesus of the Bible or the Jesus of the Koran?”  He answered, “The real Jesus! The Jesus of the Bible!”

As we talked more that night and the next day it became clear that his journey toward Jesus had, in the last week or so, drawn him to the place where he was ready to risk being disowned by his family and rejected or hurt by others to leave the religion he was strongly indoctrinated in all his life to follow Jesus as his God and Savior.  Apparently he called out to Jesus to help him overcome some strong temptations that he had never before been able to withstand, and Jesus helped him.  To him these were like “signs” that Jesus is more powerful and he wants to trust in Him.

Please continue to pray for “H”, for his growth in Christ, for his safety, and for continued guidance from God about where he is supposed to go and what he is supposed to do.
Join me continuing to pray for "H".  As well pray for Brett and his family as well as the entire team in Athens.  Their's is a ministry very near and dear to my heart.  Finally, thank the Lord for His continual outpouring of grace on the undeserved - namely, all of us.




Happy Birthday!


Today is my "rib's" birthday.  I just wanted to take the time to share that with you all.  I know...she's GORGEOUS!!

Justice Wins ~ A Creative Parody of Rob Bell's Promo Video

To prove that narrative can be equally used for the opposite view, Jeremy Grinnel (via - Mike Wittmer) wrote a short piece which, though not his full position (because it’s equally extreme on the other side), illustrates the rhetorically powerful yet easily refutable logic of Rob’s piece.
Justice Wins ~ A Parody...
Several years ago I was touring a holocaust museum, and I was deeply moved the images of suffering and inhuman brutality that I saw there. And near the end of the tour on the wall was a picture of Hitler standing in front of the Eifel Tower in Paris. I and many who were with me were struck by the idea of Hitler enjoying the beauties of Paris while at the same moment one of the greatest genocides the world has ever known was being carried out on his orders.
But apparently not everyone saw it exactly the same way
Sometime in the previous few hours, somebody had attached a hand written note to the picture, and on the note they had written, “It’s okay because God forgave Hitler too.”
God forgave Hitler?
He did?
And someone knows this for sure?
And felt the need for the rest of us to know?
Do the most evil and unrepentant people in history, remaining what they are, still make it to heaven?
And what of those who aren’t quite so evil as that—Child molesters, racists, drug lords.
And what of the rest of us who only yell at our children, cut people off on the highway, and cheat on our taxes?
And what makes our evil less and Hitler’s more?
Is it the number of people you hurt? Or how badly? Or whether anyone else knows? Or whether you meant to?
And what if you’re the one who was molested or your loved ones murdered because of their ethnicity?
And then there’s the question behind the question?
The real question… What is God like?
Because millions and millions were taught that the primary message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that God is willing to forgive everybody no matter who they are or what evils they’ve committed against the rest of us.
So what gets subtly sort of caught and taught is that God is willing to forgive the perpetrators of evil, regardless of whether or not their victims ever see justice. That God is willing to let slide things that we mustn’t.
But what kind of God is that?
Can a God so uninterested in justice be good?
How can that God ever be trusted?
How could that ever be…good…news?
This is why lots of people want nothing to do with the Christian faith.
They see it as an endless list of absurdities and inconsistencies, and say, “why would I ever want to be a part of that?”
See what we believe about heaven and hell is incredibly important because it exposes what we believe about who God is and what God is like.
What you discover in the bible is so surprising, and unexpected, and beautiful, that whatever we’ve been told or taught, the good news is even better than that, better than we can ever imagine.
It means pure and perfect justice, no wrong accusations, no punishments that don’t fit the crime, no hidden motives, no unaccounted pains or sorrows. But overflowing compensation for anyone who’s ever been hurt or betrayed.
The good news is that “justice wins.”

1971

In honour of hitting 71 followers - and the fact that that is my birth year - I figured I would celebrate the amazing albums of 1971.  I mean seriously, most of these are pure classics.  It was quite simply a great year for music.  I challenge any of you to have a better list from your birth year!


Led Zeppelin IV









The Who ~ Who's Next









Marvin Gaye ~ What's Going On









Joni Mitchell ~ Blue









John Lennon ~ Imagine









The Rolling Stones ~ Sticky Fingers









David Bowie ~ Hunky Dory









Carole King ~ Tapestry









Yes ~ Fragile; The Yes Album









I seriously could go on and on....  The Allman Brothers ~ At Fillmore East; The Doors ~ LA Woman; Pink Floyd ~ Meddle; Don McLean ~ American Pie.

Do a search and you will find 10-20 more beauties from this year.  What do you think?  Is your birth year better? 


Love Wins - Reviews




The reviews are starting to come in....
Kevin DeYoung has written a 20 page "tour-de-force" that can be accessed here:
Denny Burk has himself written an 11 page review that deals with book on a chapter by chapter basis.  You can find it here:
Tim Challies of course got the ball rolling with this review a few days back:
No doubt this will end up being a best seller as bad press along good press sells.  And sells big time.  However, after reading the above, why would one even waste their time and money on this latest hermeneutical train-wreck by Rob Bell?











Update:
Mark Galli from Christianity Today has also posted a review online - check it out!  And keep in mind this same magazine was all bent-out-of-shape when Justin Taylor fired the first shot not so long ago.

Who Are The Haters?

A great little feeding of Vitamin Z...


I hear where they are going with this video.  I get annoyed with the watch-bloggers and angry Calvinist Totally Reformed guys that love to pick fights just as much as anyone else.  But... Who are the haters?

Is it more about the "how" we communicate than the "what"? I assume that is what Steven is getting at here. We should never be jerks. Many of us, myself included, can have a hard time with that one, especially when communicating about what we are passionate about.  So if the only message here is "when you have disagreements or concerns, please use a generous tone and speak with gentleness."  Amen!

But what is the standard? How do we define nit-picking? Is Rob Bell's view of hell, nit picking? Is faithfulness to a historical confession of faith too rigid? 

I like the passion and the senitiment that we need to love one another. Amen! 

But the video needs more definition because we all define "haters" differently. Does me even writing this make me a hater? Someone help me out here.  Isn't Steven just "hating" the haters?  Christian relativism? 

Maybe it would be more helpful if I was coached on how to have disagreements about theology in a way that is winsome and generous.  I fear that this video might demonstrate the same tone that he is battling against.  Both seem combative.  Am I missing something?





I have to echo the same question as Z, am I missing something here.  I love the term "Christian relativism" applied to this video.  I mean, really?  Really, Steven Furtick ... really?  What are you trying to say, and who are you trying to say it to?  


I just had a "New Jack City" flashback..."how can I be down".  Man I wish I was that cool...*sarcasm*



A Calvinist Shares The Gospel


John Piper tells us how...


Here’s a conversation between an unbeliever and an evangelist who believes in the doctrine of definite atonement (sometimes unhelpfully called “limited atonement”)—the biblical teaching that when Jesus died, God’s unalterable purpose was to cancel the sins and commute the death sentence of all whom he would give to the Son (John 6:39).
Unbeliever: So what are you offering me?
Evangelist: Salvation from God’s wrath and from your sin. Everlasting life.
U: How?
E: Because when Jesus, the Son of God, died, he absorbed God’s wrath, removed it, and he bore the guilt of sin for all who trust him.
U: Did he do that for me?
E: If you will have him—receive him—you will have all that he is for you and all that he did for you. If you will trust him, yes, he did it for you.
U: So you don’t know if he did it for me?
E: He is offering himself to you right now freely. He is offering you a wonderful, finished work of redemption—all that he accomplished in absorbing God’s wrath and cancelling sins. All of that is yours for the having, right now. If you won’t have it, it’s not yours. If you will, it is. There’s only one way to know if your sins were cancelled and your death sentence was commuted in the death of Jesus. Believe on him. His promise is absolute: If you believe, you will be saved. If you won’t believe, you remain in your sin, and under God’s wrath.
U: So what are you asking me to receive?
E: Jesus. Receive Jesus! Because Jesus really did these things. He really secured the freedom of his people from the wrath of God. He really bore their sins in his body on the tree. If you receive him, you are one of them. You are included. All that is true for you. He offers to you freely right now.
U: I thought I could know Jesus died for me before I believed? That’s what I’ve always been told: Believe on him, because he died for everybody.
E: I can’t say for sure, but the people who taught you that probably meant this: Jesus died so that the gospel could be offered to all, and all who believe would be saved. That’s true. But if I assured you before you believe that your sins were cancelled and your freedom from God’s wrath was obtained, I would mislead you. Imagine if I said to you, Jesus certainly obtained your deliverance from God’s wrath and certainly covered all your sins. Now believe that. What would you say?
U: I’d say, great. Now what if I don’t believe? Then I’m still saved, right? Since my sins were certainly covered. It’s done.
E: Yes, that’s probably what you would say, and you’d be wrong. Because I would have misled you. The good news that Jesus has for you before you believe on him is not that your sins are certainly cancelled. The good news is that Jesus really propitiated the wrath of God, and really covered the sins of his people. It is finished. And that is what I offer you. It’s free. It’s full. It’s complete. It’s glorious. And his absolute promise to you is this: It’s yours if you will receive him. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.

Depraved Indifference



Pastor, Love Your Wife More Than Ministry


There are many reasons we should always love our wife more than our ministry.  It’s biblical.  It is a mark of qualification for the pastor.  It will do nothing but enhance your ministry.  It will be an example to your flock of what is to be the priority of a Christian husband.  I’m sure you are thinking of others.  However, there is one reason why this is essential in our lives as pastors and aspiring pastors that I don’t think comes to our minds as much as it should.  
“If we love our ministry more than our wife, it is likely we could lose our wife.” 
So, be warned dear pastors and aspiring ones, that we never question how important it is that we love Christ first, then our wives more than seminary…our ministry…our reputation…our children… quite frankly everything else.

Date Day!


Today is my monthly date day with my youngest daughter Meaghan.  Every month on their "birthday" day, I take my daughters on a date with their Daddy, and my wife does the same for our son Cameron.  I love date day because I know my girls love it.  They love that Daddy opens the door for them; orders for them; talks to them; makes much of them...loves them.  



Today is also International Women's Day. Today affords me the opportunity to show my Meaghan how she deserves to be treated by a man.  I want her to see that chivalry and romance are important.  I want her to see that for a man to biblically lead means to love and honour his wife.  I want her to see that her submission to my headship is a good thing and ultimately for her benefit.  I want her to see that her future husband must lead as Daddy leads because he will lead her.  I want her to know that should the Lord be pleased to give her a family, her highest calling is to be Mommy.  I want her to see that God is glorified in all that we do.

I love date days!  I cherish them because I know that some day, sooner than I wish, they'll be gone.  So today, we will dance...



A Taste Of Heaven

The people of God and the Word of God.  And strangely, that's enough.  Oh that we would burn with this passion for the Word, both written and Incarnate!

J.D. Greear:


What an incredible video… this is one of the many Unreached People Groups in Southeast Asia… and someone allowed us to see what it was like for them to get the Word of God. Watching this video is like getting to heaven just a little bit early. Seriously, what would you rather invest your money in? And ask yourself, do you approach the hearing of the Word of God with this kind of anticipation? During the guy’s prayer, I seriously thought I might speak in tongues.








HT / Z

Precious In the Sight Of The Lord...

Permalink

This is my small tribute to another Christian killed for Christ’s sake. I read his story with great admiration. I pray that his death will not be in vain in my life and in Pakistan’s struggle for freedom.
Shahbaz Bhatti was the Minister for Minority Affairs in Pakistan, and a Christian. He was killed in Islamabad on Wednesday, March 2, 2011. He had opposed the Pakistani blasphemy laws that appoint the death sentence for one who speaks words against the truth of Mohammed.
In a video, posted online by the European group First Step Forum, Mr Bhatti said: “I want to share that I believe in Jesus Christ who has given his own life for us. . . . I'm ready to die for a cause. I’m living for my community and suffering people, and I will die to defend their rights.”
I read this to Noël and Talitha during our family worship this morning. We prayed for Mr. Bhatti’s family and for Pakistan. We dedicated ourselves afresh not to waste our lives. Lord, we are yours. Show us how to live fully for the global cause of your Truth and Grace.

Marillion: Crash Course - Free Album!




I am a Marillionaire!  For those that don't know what that means - it is simply a way to say that I am a huge fan of the band Marillion.  "WHO?" Is usually the question that follows. Ask no more.  For those who have ever wondered, the band has offered a free CD sampler of their music called Crash Course.  It is just that - a "crash course" in Marillioneze.  Check it out; It's FREE.  It is ten full tracks from the band from a variety of albums.  Have a listen and then love 'em or leave 'em.  I think you know where I stand!


Marillion are used to fighting misconceptions.  Marillion are not what you think they are.  No, really, they’re not. Just remember that whatever your preconceptions are about this band, chances are they are wrong.
Listen.
Find out for yourself.
Make up your own mind.



Signs You're Growing In Grace - Part 2

Another sign you’re growing in grace. You’ve actually read Nahum and Obadiah.
Another sign you’re growing in grace. You catch people “doing it right” in a 3 to 1 ratio to “doing it wrong”.
Another sign you’re growing in grace. You don’t try to take 23 items through the 10 item speed check out line at Publix.
Another sign you’re growing in grace. You’re in your seat in the worship center 7 minutes early to pray for the service.
Another sign you’re growing in grace. On a 2-lane-becoming-1 road, you don’t speed up just to jet around 3 extra cars.
Another sign you’re growing in grace. Your repentances come quicker with less pouting, excuses and vain promises.
Another sign you’re growing in grace. You throw less pity-parties, because you go to Jesus quicker than to self-contempt.
Another sign you’re growing in grace. You talk about your justification 10 times more than your victimization.
Another sign you’re growing in grace. You quote Jesus more than you quote Tim Keller.
A sign you’re growing in grace is a commitment to give your spouse focused, unrushed attention at the END of the day.
A sign you’re growing in grace is just grabbing a brownie without looking for the biggest or best crust-edged brownie.
A sign you’re growing in grace is when you use less labels to dismiss people or marginalize their comments.
A sign you’re growing in grace is still being gracious to telemarketers when they call your protected phone number.
A sign you’re growing in grace is a commitment to pray for people you’d really rather gossip about.
A sign you’re growing in grace is not texting or reading emails on your pda while driving, with or without kids.
Another sign you’re growing in grace. You no longer simply assume if you can pay for something you really can afford it.
Another sign you’re growing in grace. You recognize the subtle ways you’re living justification by sanctification.
Another sign you’re growing in grace. Your spouse and children are the first to notice the signs.
Another sign you’re growing in grace. You get sucker-punched by condemnation for sin less often, but convicted much more.
A sign you’re growing in grace. You don’t use your car horn to curse bad drivers, but appropriately caution & warn them.
A sign you’re growing in grace. The gospel still astonishes & humbles you. It’s not just cliche or the name of your tribe.
A sign you’re growing in grace. If you USED to be a Dispensationalist, you’re not cynical about those who still are.
A sign you’re growing in grace. If you USED to be a Charismatic, you don’t atrophy into dead or dry orthodoxy.
A sign you’re growing in grace. If you’re “finally” Reformed, you don’t confuse knowledge with spirituality.
A sign you’re growing in grace. You realize that Presbyterian and Reformed types are .07% of the entire Body of Christ.
A sign you’re growing in grace. The more you learn about Jesus & the gospel the more you realize how little YOU know.