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Showing posts from July, 2009

10 reasons I love the library

A man visiting Iceland asked his taxi cab driver to show him their country's most popular attractions. The cabbie drove for a little while and then pulled up alongside an old, large building.
"What's this?" the visitor asked.
"It's our library," the cab driver announced proudly.
"No, you don't understand. I want to see your country's major attractions."
"Ah, but this is one of our best attractions!"

I heard this story last week, and as far as I know, it's true. Icelanders really take their books seriously. And they remind all of us that libraries are special.

We don't often appreciate them today, but I for one still love public and school libraries. I love my childhood memories of being in the library. I love exploring new libraries in towns that I visit. And I simply don't think the internet can ever completely replace the library. In fact, I believe the internet makes brick-and-mortar libraries more valuable to us.

Now…

Dead to sin

I sometimes hear people who struggle with drug or alcohol addiction say things like "once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic," or "once an addict, always an addict." I suspect it's part of their AA or NA rehab counseling.

It may be true that this person will always be tempted in those areas, but the Bible never treats alcohol or drugs as a "disease," nor does it say this condition is incurable. In fact, the doctrine of sanctification gives great hope, because it teaches than any born again believer becomes dead to sin and can gain victory over whatever deeply rooted problems and behavior exist in their lives (drugs, alcohol, sex, anger, etc.).

The Christian is never bound and gagged to the power of sin.
Romans 6:11-14 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of un…

The Kingdom of God in the Old Testament

If you had to summarize the entire message of the Bible in a single word, what would it be? Last Sunday, we discovered the best word might be “kingdom.” As John Bright says, “The Bible is one book. Had we to give that book a title, we might with justice call it ‘The Book of the Coming Kingdom of God.”

During our morning service, we traced this theme through the entire Old Testament, from Moses to Malachi, seeing three stages of God’s Mediatorial Kingdom.
God Prepares for the Kingdom (Gen. 1:26-28; 12:1-3; 49:8-12). In the Book of Genesis, we are introduced to the idea that God will use human beings to rule over His creation as His mediator. Thousands of years after Adam and Eve fail to rule righteously, God appoints a man named Abram to become the father of a new nation He will rule over. God further announces that His chosen kings will descend from the tribe of Judah.God Establishes the Kingdom (Ex. 19:4-8; Deut. 17:14-28; 1 Sam. 15:24-31, 34-35; 16:12-13;…

Fighting to please God

The Christian life is a fight for holiness, a daily battle to put off the old self and put on Jesus Christ.

Though we have been saved and justified in God's eyes through His Son, even our best works still contain sin. We will never reach perfection until glory. But this should not cause us to lay down our weapons and stop fighting. God is pleased with our obedience, despite its imperfections. Hear the words of J. C. Ryle:
Sanctification is a thing which cannot justify a man, and yet it pleases God. The holiest actions of the holiest saint that ever lived are all more or less full of defects and imperfections. They are either wrong in their motive or defective in their performance and in themselves are nothing better than “splendid sins,” deserving God’s wrath and condemnation. To suppose that such actions can stand the severity of God’s judgment, atone for sin and merit heaven is simply absurd. “By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified.” “We conclude that a man is ju…

Book review: The Unforgiving Minute

The Unforgiving Minute is the spellbinding account of a soldier's rigorous training and grueling combat in Afghanistan. It's a dramatic coming-of-age story written by Captain Craig Mullaney, who is a unique mix of one part Army Ranger and one part Oxford Rhodes scholar. (I felt a particular kinship with him because we're the same age. He started at West Point in 1996, only one month before I started at The Master's College. We were both training for battle, though of a different kind.)

Having never served in the military myself, Mullaney's vivid prose gave me a deeper appreciation for our men and women in uniform, and a greater understanding of the Bible's frequent references to war.

Endorsed by General Petraus and Wesley-Clark, this book is an instant classic you will find very hard to put down.

Here's an excerpt, with a great illustration of endurance...

For a moment, sitting on the examining table, I considered quitting. Dozens had already quit. In Ranger pa…

The universal kingdom of God

My apologies for getting off track the last couple months with our "Doing the Word" blog posts. June was one of the busiest months of my life, and the first half of July was our family road trip to Colorado, so things are just now settling down to some level of normalcy.

Last week, we looked briefly at John 18:28-40 (Jesus’ civil trial before Pilate) before launching into a multi-week series on the kingdom of God. We noted that there are two main ways the “kingdom” theme is used in the Bible.
The first is in a general sense – that God is creator and ruler of the entire universe. We can call this His “universal kingdom.” On Sunday, we looked at just two examples of this. (A) In 1 Chronicles 29, when David was an old man, he gathered the people of Israel together and took an offering for the temple. The people gave generously and joyfully, and David expressed His praise to the Lord. He declared “Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head ove…

10 books every new Christian should own

Here's a list of ten books I believe every new Christian should own. They would make a great starter library to begin your walk with God and discover the riches of the Bible.

The first two are the best modern translations of the Bible, accompanied by helpful study notes, maps, charts, and other rich background material:
The ESV Study BibleNASB MacArthur Study BibleThe next four books cover basic Christian beliefs and living:
Growing In Christ: A Thirteen-Week Follow-Up Course for New and Growing ChristiansThe Pursuit of HolinessChristian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should KnowThe Gospel and Personal EvangelismThe last four books are basic reference tools. They don't need to be read from cover-to-cover, but are important Bible study tools to keep close at hand on your shelf.
Nave's Topical BibleNelson's New Illustrated Bible DictionaryThe Strongest NASB Exhaustive ConcordanceVine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words

What is limited atonement?

Of the five points of Calvinism, the doctrine of Limited Atonement is probably the most debated and least understood.

Limited Atonement, also called Particular Redemption, could be explained this way: “It would have required no more obedience, nor any greater suffering, for Christ to have secured salvation for [all]…But He came into the world to represent and save only those given to Him by the Father. Thus, Christ’s saving work was limited in that it was designed to save some and not others, but it was not limited in value, for it was of infinite worth and would have secured salvation for everyone if this had been God’s intention.” (The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, Documented) As some have put it, Christ’s death was “sufficient for all, but efficient only for the elect.”

A few salient points:
Adam stood as the federal head (representative) of the entire race, and Christ stood as the federal head of the elect: “…So then as through one transgression there resulted condemna…

No greater love - the movie

Here's the trailer for an upcoming movie called "No Greater Love." It was produced by several Hollywood veterans who are also devout Christians. The director (Brad Silverman) is a personal friend of mine, and one of the supporting actors (Jay Underwood) went to seminary with me. I am very excited about its coming release. It tells a riveting love story that is gospel-driven, while the acting and production look top-notch.

No Greater Love will be available in stores in January and is being distributed by Thomas Nelson. Please pray for this movie to be used greatly by the Lord, and pick up a copy when you see it hit the shelves. I pray Coram Deo Studios will join Sherwood Pictures (Facing the Giants, Fireproof) as another quality Christian alternative to Hollywood.

Books for the trip

No road trip would be complete without some good books to help the miles pass by. Here are some books our family enjoyed the last couple weeks during our travels and while relaxing in Colorado:

Fodor's Essential USA, 1st Edition: Spectacular Cities, Natural Wonders, and Great American Road Trips. Though this travel guide covers all 50 states, it was a great reference for the 6 states we traveled through. Some of our decisions on what attractions to visit came right out of this book. One feature I really liked was the suggested itinerary, depending on how many days you would be in an area: one day, two days, or even up to a whole week. While far from exhaustive, it's a great overview of our country's natural wonders and man-made attractions.

Frommer's Colorado. This book helped us navigate the Colorado Springs and Denver area during our stay with my parents, and during our two day retreat in Monument/Denver.

Russell Hitt, Sensei: The Life Story of Irene Webster-Smith. Nata…

Exposing the heart conference

On Saturday, October 3, our community will have a one-day men's conference called "Exposing the Heart." The speakers will include Chris Mueller, Tye Bridges, Gerry Brown, and myself. Here's a sneak preview:
Are we living as God intended, do we feel we have it together and others don't, and are we more than confident in our devotion and outwardly pious appearances when the truth of the matter is that it comes down to a condition of the heart? The very thing that sustains our life. Our lives and the way we live are directly related to our Heart. Its not always easy to diagnose, but God's Word reveals and exposes the Heart like nothing else. Until we see the condition we won't go for the cure which is in Christ Jesus and the grace He has poured out for us as Christians.

The focus and theme of this year's Morongo Basin Christian Men's Conference will be on "Exposing the Heart". It is based on the teachings from the "Sermon on the Mount&q…

Our first geocaching expedition

After two years of anticipation, I finally got a Garmin GPS Etrex H for my birthday and have begun the fun, family-friendly hobby of geocaching. Geocaching is scavenger hunting for hidden "caches." I love the concept. It involves exercise and the exploring the great outdoors of God's creation, but requires nothing more than a GPS unit (about $85 for low-end, but accurate models) and an online geocache account (free at geocaching.com).

Here are some pictures of our first "expedition" in Colorado Springs, just down the street from my parent's house. We were rewarded with a beautiful view of the city and Pikes Peak. (On our second hunt, Natalie spotted a deer up-close from 20 feet!)






Arches national park

Wednesday morning, we spent a couple hours exploring Arches National Park near Moab, UT, on our way to Colorado. The scenery was stunning, and I was surprised to see so many tourists in the heat of summer. Time was limited, so we only took one little walk up to the massive arch known as the "North Window."








Having just finished the book Worldliness, I found this quote by Jeff Purswell very fitting:
Everywhere we look, the world around us bears witness to the Creator, who brought it into existence...A veritable deluge of revelation floods the world from end to end. Commending on the universality of creation's witness, John Calvin observes that God 'revealed himself and daily discloses himself in the whole workmanship of the universe. As a consequence men cannot open their eyes without being compelled to see him.' ... According to Paul [in Rom. 1:19-20], we can discern certain things about God through what he has made. Roaring seas proclaim his might, towering peaks b…