Sunday, December 6, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.
We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.
We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.
We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.
Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom. Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.
For the Saints and the Faithful Departed:
We give thanks to you, O Lord our God, for all your servants and witnesses of time past: for Abraham, the father of believers, and Sarah his wife; for Moses, the lawgiver, and Aaron, the priest; for Miriam and Joshua, Deborah and Gideon, and Samuel with Hannah his mother; for Isaiah and all the prophets; for Mary, the mother of our Lord; for Peter and Paul and all the apostles; for Mary and Martha, and Mary Magdalene; for Stephen, the first martyr, and all the martyrs and saints in every age and in every land. In your mercy, O Lord our God, give us, as you gave to them, the hope of salvation and the promise of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, the first-born of many from the dead. Amen.
For Samantha Rose Campbell
Heavenly Father, you sent; your own Son into this world. We thank you for the life of this child, Samantha, entrusted to our care. Help us to remember that we are all your children, and so to love and nurture her, that she may attain to that full stature intended for her in your eternal kingdom; for the sake of your dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O God our Help in Ages Past
O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home.
Under the shadow of thy throne,still may we dwell secure;sufficient is thine arm alone,and our defense is sure.Before the hills in order stood,or earth received her frame,from everlasting, thou art God,to endless years the same.A thousand ages, in thy sight,are like an evening gone;short as the watch that ends the night,before the rising sun.Time, like an ever rolling stream,bears all who breathe away;they fly forgotten, as a dreamdies at the opening day.O God, our help in ages past,our hope for years to come;be thou our guide while life shall last,and our eternal home.Happy Thanksgiving!
Friday, November 20, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
I don't know if I have mentioned it before, but I do know that I couldn't mention it enough. Aside from having been given the spiritual gift of being able to put up with me, my wife has other supernatural powers. Those of you who know us may know that we are struggling to keep afloat. Working a number of odd jobs to try to make a living and hoping (eventually) to break into full time vocational ministry. This process has been one of endless challenge and difficulty. So it has been incredible for us! This process of breaking, fighting, failure and rejection has been very difficult and has conformed us to Christ's image more than any other phase.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:5
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.
Let us NOT judge one another…
Now, how does this work? How does this fit in with the greater sweep of Scripture? Are we to be judging yet also not judging simultaneously? The first, and most important issue that we consider when interpreting a Bible verse is the context. The context of this verse is the argument and the situation between “weaker” and “stronger” brothers in the Lord. The issues that are being discussed are non-moral issues, or issues that don’t have a clear Biblical ruling. There is an issue of the heart here.
Often times, as humans, we are jealous of others who do what we do. This can apply to work situations where two people who do the same job at a company dislike each other because of the sneaking suspicion that the other fellow may be better at it. Another example of this is why friendships among the “pretty” and the “popular” are often quite shallow: they are burdened with jealousy. Sadly, because of our active Sin Nature we can very easily see this pop up in our hearts towards other believers. Other people with our same spiritual gifts, or even simply just others who seem to have a special walk with the Lord, may offend our delicate sensibilities right at the point of the depths of our insecurity, causing us to dislike, reject, or judge them. We may even try to make things more difficult for them, and we may use the most pious and self-righteous façade to do it. How many “prayer requests” are used as a platform to share slanderous gossip? Obviously one is too many.
Be a Friend, be a Fan, be a Brother
This gives us a new and beautiful picture of our relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to be rooting for them, helping them and moving them along. Thus we find that where are heart is, and how well the person is known can dictate the right action. Think of the dearest and closest person to you in a relational sense. If you found out that that person was doing something that hurt them would it not be the loving thing to act, and then help to restore? If the person, however, really liked a food that you found disgusting you would say nothing (nothing seriously, anyway) because you love them so much that the petty, non-moral issues look like nothing in the eyes of your love for them. You are rooting for them and welcome their idiosyncrasies. The person you hate offends you by breathing. The person you don’t know offends you with their horrible taste in music. But with the person you love you will sit through a whole movie that you would otherwise have hated, just because they love it and you love them. If we loved our brothers and sisters in Christ as we ought to, would we even bother trying to judge them about the peripheral issues? If jealousy and pride weren’t ruling our heart would we care that they weren’t keeping our set of extra-scriptural rules? If smugness weren’t the dominating factor in our personality would we need to show them how stupid their extra-biblical rules are? Or would we all just be so consumed with spurring one another on towards Christ that we may not even notice?
Monday, September 14, 2009
She was born onto bony knees. Though from a perspective she was caught by a professional whose function was to catch babies, she was actually born onto bony knees catching her. To be born upon that lap was to be claimed by its owner, as all of her kind were. The same bony kneed personage whipped the girl’s mother and brought a cruel kiss of fleshy lips to hard and crooked teeth. The kiss was bitter but the transition sweet. Sad to end the Dance, but glad to see Reality.
The girl was cradled by the bony kneed specter, so pretty and so soft, he nearly kissed her there and then, and let her only memory of the Dance be the dance of the rocking arms of people who had Danced for many years. But the time was not right, and he was not allowed.
Through the years where the gifts of locomotion and loquacity are acquired the Dance continued. Haltingly, stumbling, many times she pitched forward and nearly crashed her lips to his by accident. But more than chance commanded the Music to continue.
Moving to the three beats of the Music she learned to step, to step, to step and to follow the lead and avoid the kiss. She learned to fear the kiss and love the Dance. Sometimes she wondered if the fear of the kiss drove the dance altogether, because the kiss was the only way out of the dance. It must not drive the dance. There is no nobility in denying the kiss, no beauty in dancing from the place of fear. So she danced on, seeking to dance beautifully.
The tempo advanced and increased in is speed and intensity. The dance became rough and her partner abusive. Whipping her around spins and turns, wrenching her arms and legs, leaving her sore and gasping, begging for respite. The rough dance left her wondering if she could not learn to love the kiss, wondering if it were wrong to ask the Choreographer to pencil the kiss in a little sooner in the score. The dance would go on, after all. But just as the steps seemed unbearable and she was about to tumble from her feet to the ground, the music slowed and the tempo changed again.
Wondering why she must Dance with this hideous partner she looked to the Composer. As she danced along He showed her the Sheets that preceded her page. There were many. As she studied the ancient music she saw that the Composer, Choreographer and Musician had planned a perfect Dance with music that would never end, but not static and unchanging, rather it was ever increasing. The Music would grow louder and louder, climb higher and higher without end.
However, one of the butlers wanted a chance to compose. He wrote his twisted tunes and raunchy melodies and offered them to the original Dancers. If they Danced to His melody, they would soon be able to write their own. They did. His melody came with a partner. The slender partner looked beautiful for a moment and then faded into the gaunt figure that the girl recognized as the man who caught her on the day of her birth.
The Composer was heartbroken as his beloved Dancers chose another melody to dance to. And the Choreographer prepared to dance with the gaunt man and swallow his bitter kiss, drinking it to the dregs. The Composer wrote the music for Dancers to once again transition back to the dance for which He had made them. All they had to do is trust the Choreographer in his claim have Danced, and take the Steps He would have.
Why, if this ghoul had been drained of his power could she not simply dance with the Choreographer? The grasp of the fiend that held tight to her hand, though he had no power, could not be removed from her body without the kiss. The consequence remained, though the penalty was paid. But there was no longer any reason to fear the kiss, it meant only that the dance with the specter was over and the dance with the choreographer begun. The haunting image of her born partner seemed to fade and she saw only the loving Choreographer and Composer as she once again danced to the Music. Meanwhile, her partner continued to try to return to the waltz that he had written, but he could only make her dance to his beats when she stopped reading the Score, stopped Listening to the Music, and stopped watching the Choreographer. So the Dance went on.
Another danced near her. The Choreographer had clearly planned for them to Dance together. They danced near each other. They danced and danced. The kiss again became something to fear. As they continued to dance closer and closer in the circles of the Choreographer the composer added new notes and soon there were new dancers. Each of them was dancing with the same gaunt partner in their tight circles. Sometimes closer and sometimes farther. The Choreographer was pleased and gave notice to the Composer that the crescendo was near.
The Music took on dissonant tones. Screeches and shrieks that could hardly be borne by the ear. Like the sound of crushing metal, and screeching brakes. Her unwanted partner whipped and tore at her, but she saw only the Choreographer walking out onto the dance floor. As the fiend tore her body and finally curled her into his arms and smashed her fleshy lips into his cruel grin. She passed through him to the Choreographer’s hand. She was spun to a dip and raised. He bowed and she curtsied to the thunderous applause of the countless onlookers who were, until this moment, quite invisible to her eyes. She considered the old Dance, she saw the purpose of every strain, how every attempt to destroy it had been used to propel it. And she gazed lovingly at the Choreographer who smiled and nodded to the conductor. And the Dance went on.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
I have been told that I was born some year too late. Is it a sin to wish you lived in a different time? I suppose it depends how hard you wish, how much it distracts you from enjoying the days that you have been given. Yet I can't help this special little envy. I want to live in a time before all of the technological advances. I want to live in a time when I could smoke my pipe in-doors. I want to live in a world where books, music and thought can be discussed over glasses of dark glasses of beer and when there were places for men that women respected, and places for women that men respected. I think there is a beauty to the separation between the sexes, the mystery grows, we can't harbor the modern illusion that we are all the same. What stupidity. Of course we are the same in many ways, two halves of a whole, but if the two halves of your body tried to act like eachother you wouldn't so much as be able to walk.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Phil. 4:4 (NASB)
Monday, August 3, 2009
For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Cor. 5:1
Monday, July 27, 2009
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27 (NKJV)
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Imagine I took a twenty dollar bill and then put it into a book. What would happen if I burned the book? The bill would burn up as well wouldn’t it? If I threw the book in the lake then the bill would become soaked. Once the bill is placed in the book its destiny becomes instantly and personally tied up with the destiny of the book. That’s what Paul is saying happened to you here. You were placed into Christ just as a bill can be placed in a book. What happened to Jesus happened to you. From God’s perspective you were crucified with Christ. You died to your body of sin, you died to the power of your sin nature. This is a wild truth and it takes eyes of faith to understand what it means. It means that the moment you believed you were placed into Christ. When you read through the accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection you are reading a part of your own personal history.
What is the importance of this? You have been identified with Christ in his crucifixion and his burial and his resurrection, so what? You can remember it happening? You were there in the spiritual sense (which is the real sense) but as far as your day to day life what difference could this possibly make? Here is the point. Before you believed in Christ your body was capable of one thing: Sin. You may have done something that seemed nice, but the fact is that it was coming from a wrecked source. Imagine a stream that looks beautiful and clean, you might think that because it looks clean that you can take a drink, however if there were a poisonous snake that had died in the pool right above the stream a single drink would kill you. The stream looks clean but the water is poisonous. That is what our lives are like apart from Christ. Ever since the fall we are ruined creatures, unable of making anything good because we are separated from God, and God alone is good. However, in Christ we are able to be useful to God once again.
Separation and Unity
In The Bible the word “death” is used to mean separation from God and life is used to mean knowing, or being united to God (John 17:3). Before a person comes to Christ they are united to their sin nature. The picture of marriage is a great example. While a woman is married to one man she cannot also be married to another. In order for her to be married to the second person her first husband must die. While this is not a perfect illustration it gives us a picture of the situation that we were in. In order for us to be freed from that dark slave master of Sin who owned us we had to be freed by our own death. When a person puts his faith in Christ he is regarded by God as having died and we were freed from Sin. This means that believers are now able to walk in newness of life, and exist in joy and peace as we were made to be by God.
Notice, there is nothing for you to do here. The application here isn’t to crucify yourself with Christ, or remember to crucify your desires each day. The real application here is found in the last verse: “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:11). The word “consider” has an element of the concept of belief. If you want power over sin and to know the power of the life of Christ in You the secret is believing and trusting in what He has done. Believing that you are freed from Sin and you never have to fulfill the awful demands of your Sin nature ever again by having faith in the work of Jesus is how God wants us to live. We were saved by believing that Jesus died on the Cross, paying the price for our sins, trusting Him for what we are unable to do: Pay the price for our own sinfulness. We continue our lives in the same way: Believing in Him and trusting Him to do what we are unable to do: live out our daily lives out for us, in us and through us as we trust in Him.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance." James 1:2-3 (NASB)