Friday, November 28, 2008

Advent Devotional #5

Today's devotion from Goshen College:

NOV. 28 - WATCH!


By Jake Shipe, resident director



SCRIPTURE: Mark 13:24-37 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

----------

DEVOTIONAL:
Watch! Watch for what, the coming of Christ. These are the
words of Jesus to his disciples about the coming of the end
of ages, but this message wasn’t just for them. As
Christians we’re assured of Christ's return, but when and
what should we be looking for? What did Jesus mean when he
said, "Watch"? Not only are we asked to watch, but we’re
asked to be prepared, so what does this all mean and look
like?

"Therefore keep watch because you do not know ...",
although we may not know the day of Christ's return, we’re
assured of his coming. To prepare us for that day he gave us
signs to warn us of his coming, "The sun will be darkened
and the moon won’t give its light ..." So we understand the
when and what we should be looking for; what about the
watching?

The Greek translation for watch means be active, take heed
lest through negligence and habitual laziness some
destructive calamity overtake you. One can keep watch, but
if not prepared, their watching is in vain. In being
prepared we need to live transformed lives. Here is such a
list of attributes of a transformed life: worshiping God
intimately and passionately, engaging in spiritual
friendships with other believers, pursuing faith in the
context of family, embracing intentional forms of spiritual
growth, serving others, investing time and resources in
spiritual pursuits and having faith-based conversations with
outsiders to the faith.

"What I say to you, I say to everyone: "Watch!"

----------

SCRIPTURE: Mark 13:24-37 (NRSV)
'But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be
darkened, and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers
in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see "the Son
of Man coming in clouds" with great power and glory. Then he
will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four
winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

'From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch
becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that
summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking
place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I
tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these
things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will not pass away.

'But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the
angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware,
keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It
is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and
puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands
the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake --
for you do not know when the master of the house will come,
in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn,
or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And
what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.'

Thursday, November 27, 2008

If you had asked....

when Thanksgiving became an official, national holiday, the Pastor would have said:

Proclamation of Thanksgiving

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

This is the proclamation which set the precedent for America's national day of Thanksgiving. During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders like this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving.

Sarah Josepha Hale, a prominent magazine editor, wrote a letter to Lincoln on 28, 1863, urging him to have the "day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival." She wrote, "You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution." The document below sets apart the last Thursday of November "as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise."

According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln's secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. On October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary that he complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Smart Presidents.....

use the good things that other Presidents said and did:

Proclamation of Thanksgiving

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

This is the proclamation which set the precedent for America's national day of Thanksgiving. During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders like this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving.

Sarah Josepha Hale, a prominent magazine editor, wrote a letter to Lincoln on 28, 1863, urging him to have the "day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival." She wrote, "You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution." The document below sets apart the last Thursday of November "as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise."

According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln's secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. On October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary that he complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Thanksgiving!

I want to wish all 6 of my readers a happy Thanksgiving, and encourage you to find as many things as you can to be thankful for! Post a few in the comments. I'm curious.

Here's a short list:
1. Salvation
2. My wife--that she has stuck around 10 years!
3. My children--they are healthy
4. My freedom as an American
5. My family-
6. My church family---that they are willing to come back Sunday after Sunday
7. Roof over my head
8. Food in the cabinets
9. Coca-cola (what, you wanted it to be totally serious?)
10. Humor
Moving toward the Horizon,
Doug

Advent Devotional #4

Today's devotion from Goshen College:

NOV. 27 - LIVING IN HOPEFUL EXPECTATION


By Amy Showalter, a senior Bible and religion major from
Harrisonburg, Va.



SCRIPTURE: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

----------

DEVOTIONAL:
As I read today's text, I’m struck by the promise of God's
faithfulness to accompany us as we wait. We of course are
waiting for Jesus, and the world that will come on his
return. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians holds true for us.
We have been enriched and strengthened in Jesus Christ. Our
spiritual gifts are plentiful, and we have been called into
fellowship that belongs to Jesus, but includes many. These
realities cause our waiting to be joyful and hopeful.

God accompanies us, and turns what could be our passive
wish for the future into an active hope. This hope allows us
to engage the present in a way that looks toward and
believes in a different future. Our present engagement with
the world and our attempts to move toward God's Kin-dom -- a
realm of equality and inclusiveness -- are driven by God's
presence within our hearts and our relationships with
others.

Cynicism comes easy in a world where individuals and
systems cause pain and unbelief, but Christ’s message
provides an alternative. As we await Jesus' birth, we also
await his life and resurrection, and his return. We live in
hopeful expectation of a world where life and love are one,
and struggles for power cease to exist.

We simultaneously accept and invite God's accompaniment
and grace, realizing this is what empowers and guides our
present task. We recognize the fellowship to which God calls
us, seeking God's presence and peace within our
relationships and faith communities. We wait together,
joyfully participating in the transformation of our world.

----------

SCRIPTURE: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 (NRSV)
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord
Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the
grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in
every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and
knowledge of every kind -- just as the testimony of Christ
has been strengthened among you -- so that you are not
lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing
of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the
end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord
Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into
the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.




View all of this season's devotions at
http://www.goshen.edu/devotions

Goshen College
http://www.goshen.edu

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Advent Devotional #3

Today's devotion from Goshen College:

NOV. 26 - HOW LAMENTATIONS END


By Lisa Guedea CarreƱo, library director

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

----------

DEVOTIONAL:
In the midst of an economic crisis that has hit my community, church, friends and family, reading Psalm 80 stirs up real-time, real-life insecurity. In these verses I hear abandonment, bewilderment, even anger, and I can identify with the sense of desperation. How long is this going to last? Why is this happening? Won't someone please come and save us from this mess?

I realize these questions are unreasonable and unrealistic. Moreover, my gut tells me that I am less deserving of rescue than so many others who have far fewer resources than I do. And this "reality check" leads me to a familiar line of questioning: Is God absent or have I been absent-minded? Has God's face been turned away from me, or has my vision been clouded by other things? Has God made my neighbors scorn me, or have my own actions engendered such scorn? Rhetorical questions all, but no less important for the asking.

Also striking about Psalm 80 is how it switches back and forth between reverence and blame, pleas and demands, exultations and accusations. The Lord is a Shepherd who leads the flock; the Lord has given us tears to eat and drink. God is enthroned among the cherubim; God has brought ridicule upon us.

This communal lament is associated with the downfall and/or exile of the people of Israel, whose circumstances were direr than mine have ever been. In this context another line of questioning comes to mind: If they didn’t trust that they would be delivered, would they have bothered to cry out to a deliverer? If the situation was as hopeless as it seemed, why didn’t they just give up?

Lamentations don’t end happily, but they can end hopefully. "Restore us…let your face shine, that we may be saved."

----------

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 (NRSV)
To the leader: on Lilies, a Covenant. Of Asaph. A Psalm.

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock!
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.
Stir up your might,
and come to save us!

Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people's prayers?

You have fed them with the bread of tears, and given them tears to drink in full measure.

You make us the scorn of our neighbours; our enemies laugh among themselves.

Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,
the one whom you made strong for yourself.

Then we will never turn back from you;
give us life, and we will call on your name.

Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.




View all of this season's devotions at http://www.goshen.edu/devotions

Goshen College

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Are Christians intolerant? Absolutely!

In our society today, it seems that tolerance is the king of virtues.  Personally, I think we have gone from a tolerant society to a society that demands endorsement of other people's opinions.  For example, marriage is, first and foremost, a covenant made between two people before God.  As a Christian, I see marriage outlined in Scripture, and took that covenant with Ann before God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The God who raised Christ from the dead.  On the side, I signed a little piece of paper to inform the State of Arkansas that I had made this covenant.  I entered this covenant, and continue to view this covenant, in light of God's redemptive work in my life. 

Now, however, the government and small groups of society are trying to tell the church what marriage is.  This is backwards.  Government recognizes marriage, because before there was government, and sometimes in spite of the government (one of the legends surrounding Valentine's Day is that Valentine was a preacher who would perform marriages that the government had unjustly forbid), the religious world has held marriage as a significant portion of life.  But, to stand against such government intrusion into religious life is labeled 'hate' and 'bigotry' to make sure people understand your great sin of intolerance.  But what is being demanded is that we not tolerate their views (what is it to me if homosexuals marry?  That is between them and God.), but that we endorse their views, that we teach our children that it is morally acceptable to live that way (for a Bible-believing Christian, it is not), that we open up 'marriage counseling' (which has been renamed 'couple's counseling' in many situations) to include homosexuals, and that we not stand against it, because that's 'hate.'   And many Christians and churches (and businesses that claim Christian heritage) are allowing themselves to be swayed by people calling them intolerant.  This is nothing new, and we must recognize that we are, if we are Biblical, intolerant.

Here's a word from Charles Spurgeon, who, according to people who talked to people who heard him, was one of the greatest preachers Baptist life has ever known.  He certainly wrote well, and left a challenging legacy.  (reposted without permission from the Spurgeon Archive, http://teampyro.blogspot.com)

Pastor Doug

Pyromaniacs

"Neither is there salvation in any other."

id you ever notice the intolerance of God's religion? In olden times the heathen, who had different gods, all of them respected the gods of their neighbors.

For instance, the king of Egypt would confess that the gods of Nineveh were true and real gods, and the prince of Babylon would acknowledge that the gods of the Philistines were true and real gods: but Jehovah, the God of Israel, put this as one of his first commandments, "Thou shalt have none other gods besides me;" and he would not allow them to pay the slightest possible respect to the gods of any other nation: "Thou shalt hew them in pieces, thou shalt break down their temples, and cut down their groves."

All other nations were tolerant the one to the other, but the Jew could not be so. One part of his religion was, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one God;" and as the consequence of his belief that there was but one God, and that that one God was Jehovah, he felt it his bounden duty to call all pretended gods by nicknames, to spit upon them, to treat them with contumely and contempt.

Now the Christian religion, you observe, is just as intolerant as this. If you apply to a Brahmin to know the way of salvation, he will very likely tell you at once, that all persons who follow out their sincere religious convictions will undoubtedly be saved. "There," says he, "are the Mohammedans; if they obey Mohammed, and sincerely believe what he has taught without doubt, Alla will glorify them at last." And the Brahmin turns round upon the Christian missionary, and says, "What is the use of your bringing your Christianity here to disturb us? I tell you our religion is quite capable of carrying us to heaven, if we are faithful to it."

Now just hear the text: how intolerant is the Christian religion! "Neither is there salvation in any other." The Brahmin may admit, that there is salvation in fifty religions besides his own; but we admit no such thing. There is no true salvation out of Jesus Christ.

The gods of the heathens may approach us with their mock charity, and tell us that every man may follow out his own conscientious conviction and be saved.

We reply—No such thing: there is no salvation in any other; "for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."

Now, what do you suppose is the reason of this intolerance—if I may use the word again? I believe it is just because there is the truth both with the Jew and with the Christian. A thousand errors may live in peace with one another, but truth is the hammer that breaks them all in pieces. A hundred lying religions may sleep peaceably in one bed, but wherever the Christian religion goes as the truth, it is like a fire-brand, and it abideth nothing that is not more substantial than the wood, the hay, and the stubble of carnal error.

All the gods of the heathen, and all other religions are born of hell, and therefore, being children of the same father, it would seem amiss that they should fall out, and chide, and fight; but the religion of Christ is a thing of God's—its pedigree is from on high, and, therefore, when once it is thrust into the midst of an ungodly and gainsaying generation, it hath neither peace, nor parley, nor treaty with them, for it is truth, and cannot afford to be yoked with error: it stands upon its own rights, and gives to error its due, declaring that it hath no salvation, but that in the truth, and in the truth alone, is salvation to be found.

Again, it is because we have here the sanction of God. It would be improper in any man who had invented a creed of his own, to state that all others must be damned who do not believe it; that would be an overweening censoriousness and bigotry, at which we might afford to smile; but since this religion of Christ is revealed from heaven itself, God, who is the author of all truth, hath a right to append to this truth the dreadful condition, that who so rejecteth it shall perish without mercy; and in proclaiming that, apart from Christ, no man can be saved. We are not really intolerant, for we are but echoing the words of him that speaketh from heaven, and who declares, that cursed is the man who rejects this religion of Christ, seeing that there is no salvation out of him. "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."

Now I hear one or two persons saying, "Do you imagine then, sir, that none are saved apart from Christ?"

I reply, I don't imagine it, but I have it here in my text plainly taught.

"Neither is there salvation in any other." A man may seek after it and labor after it in his own way, but there he cannot possibly find it, "for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
C. H. Spurgeon

Advent Devotional #2

This is a repost of today's emailed devotional from Goshen College. I don't have explicit permission to do this, but know that these aren't mine, the appropriate author and source are within the post.

Today's devotion from Goshen College:

NOV. 25 - WAITING ON ADVENT


By Jim Brenneman, president

SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 64:1-9 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

----------

DEVOTIONAL:
"Tear open the heavens and come down!" With these blunt and fierce words, the prophet Isaiah literally begs God to make Advent come to pass, now. God's people had waited for years in exile without sensing God's presence. Isaiah beseeches God to shake up the world, make the mountains quake, and frighten all their enemies (64:1-3). Instead, Isaiah gets silence.

Have you ever felt like Isaiah, or the people of his day, wondering where in heaven or on earth God is? Have you ever tried to pray and felt nothing, saw nothing, sensed nothing, for a long, long, time? Or felt the sad weight of Bob Dylan's song, "Knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door," and no one answers? If so, you’ve entered Advent-time!

We want a loud and noisy Advent with jingle bells. We want God to enter boldly into life's malls in a bright red suit for all to see and hear. Instead, God breaks open heaven’s doors and comes down through the back door of life in hovels, cow-cribs, and swaddled clothes. God comes all the way down to the cross, to the grave. We think we want Almighty God tearing heaven to pieces to display God's power. Instead, we get what we most need, God-with-us, our Savior. The hidden God is made known to us each and every time we open ourselves up to God’s loving forgiveness. Such an Advent is always worth the wait!

----------

SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 64:1-9 (NRSV)
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains would quake at your presence -- (

(as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil -- (

(to make your name known to your adversaries,
so that the nations might tremble at your presence! (

(When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
(

(From ages past no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,(

(no eye has seen any God besides you,
who works for those who wait for him. (

(You meet those who gladly do right,
those who remember you in your ways.(

(But you were angry, and we sinned;
( because you hid yourself we transgressed. (

(We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.


View all of this season's devotions at http://www.goshen.edu/devotions

Procrastination

You may think I never share an original thought anymore.  Actually, I do share them occasionally, I just enjoy sharing other people's thoughts as well.  If we are to move toward the horizon, we've got to get started.  As the song from the TV show 'Santa Claus is Comin' to Town' says:  'Put one foot in front of the other.'  And there's no better time than right now to take that step!

Pastor Doug


Between Two Worlds: Encouragement for Procrastinators
No unwelcome tasks become any the less unwelcome by putting them off till tomorrow.
It is only when they are behind us and done,
that we begin to find that there is a sweetness to be tasted afterwards,
and that the remembrance of unwelcome duties unhesitatingly done is welcome and pleasant.

Accomplished, they are full of blessing,
and there is a smile on their faces as they leave us.
Undone, they stand threatening and disturbing our tranquility,
and hindering our communion with God.

If there be lying before you any bit of work from which you shrink,
go straight up to it, and do it at once.
The only way to get rid of it is to do it.

-Alexander MacLaren (1826–1910), Scottish preacher

Monday, November 24, 2008

Advent Devotional

"Advent" is the term for the season leading up to Christmas. In light of that, I'm going to repost the email devotionals from Goshen College as one way of looking forward to the coming of Christ. Goshen is not a Baptist school, but they do hold to the Word of God. If there's anything that needs explanation or commentary from a Baptist perspective, I'll add it in italics. But this is some good stuff that we shouldn't miss:


Today's devotion from Goshen College:

NOV. 24 - LET YOUR FACE SHINE!


By Bob Yoder, campus pastor

WELCOME:
I read the title of this year’s Advent devotional theme through lens of “me” being the subject of the plea; it was up to me to majestically convey to you, the online readers, of the loving magnitude of God’s working in my life. I wanted to write a wonderful, personal story that perfectly illuminated the theme. However, I confess that at a time of depleted energy levels, I felt tired at what I thought the theme required of me.

Welcome to Goshen College’s online devotionals for the
2008 Advent season! Our theme this year, taken from Mennonite Church USA worship resources, is “Let your face shine!” This year’s Advent urges us to get ready to be both witnesses and energetic participants in fulfilling God’s vision. This is not a passive season -- on the contrary, we are commissioned each week to be transformed into the image of Christ. Throughout the next seven weeks (weekdays from now through Epiphany), 35 students, faculty and staff will reflect on this, as well as daily scriptures and seven weekly sub-themes: Be on the watch; Prepare the Way; Testify to the light; Name him Jesus; A light for revelation; I will turn their mourning into joy; and Let there be light.

Advent 1 calls us to “Be on the watch.” Again, the overall thrust of the theme and week’s sub-theme left me tired. Of course I believe it is important to “be on the watch,” and of course I want to “let my light shine” -- these are calls I already seek to faithfully live out. However, I was tired and I did not necessarily want to ponder “how else can I shine?” or “how else can I be attentive?”

Then I engaged in a novel act of faith…I turned to this week’s Scriptures. There it hit me square on the nose in Psalm 80 -- “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.” I am not the subject of this passage…it is God! The request is that God’s face might shine because it brings forth salvation. I felt less tired. Yes, I want to do my part in this season of preparation, but perhaps my role is to posture myself and call out to God, so that God’s face might shine. Somehow the theme no longer feels as tiring.

----------

PRAYER:
God, let your face shine that we may be saved.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Luther Rice---One of the 1st Baptist Missionaries

The Reformed Reader - Baptist Quote of the Day
"What may be before me, through what scenes of difficulty and distress I may pass, or where I may find a fixed residence, should this be the case, I know not nor am I anxious to know. To endeavor to extend the knowledge of Christ among the heathen, is undoubtedly right. It is the Lord's not mine, to detrmine whether such endeavors shall be successful. To him would I cheerfully commit myself, my brethren, and the missionary cause."

Luther Rice

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Advent Conspiracy

Before the mania hits like a Mack Truck next Friday, I want to challenge you to think about your Christmas spending and habits. THINK HARD! Is it worth what you do? Does what you do really reflect the celebration of Christ? Or are you driven by social and cultural pressures to do things that you really don't have to? Watch this and consider. This is from http://www.adventconspiracy.org. They have some great suggestions, but I don't want you to just look at this as a fundraising pitch for them. Just take it as an opportunity to stop and think for you. If not their project, what? Foreign Missions? Hunger Relief? The family down the street, and not just with trinkets, but with help they need? Shevet Achim Ministry? A church? Getting your family what they need instead of what they want?




Just something to consider....

Waiting on His Plans to Develop

The Reformed Reader - Baptist Quote of the Day
"If right principles prevailed in our hearts, we would not presume to dictate to the Infinitely Wise, nor find fault with his plans, but wait with pleasure on the development of his will: and when we cannot see the wisdom and goodness of his works, we should, in the simplicity of faith, rest assured that his plan, when fully unfolded, will be found most righteous and most wise."

--John L. Dagg



I pulled this quote off of www.reformedreader.org.  This is a good point, and worthy of our remembrance:  We don't see all of eternity.  We must learn to trust the One who does.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

November 19

Drat, I missed a day. Sorry about that.

Today, I want to challenge myself to trust God with my needs. One of the challenges that the explorers of the 1400-1500s faced was the need to carry all of their stuff with them. They had little idea at the beginning, how long they would have to be provided for based on what they could carry, because they did not know what lay beyond the horizon.

Our lives look like that too. We are challenged to make sure we provide for all of our possible future needs, because we don't know what's out there. Now, I'm all for good stewardship, for using wisely what God gives us, but we need to remember that God is always our provider. The Israelites found enough manna each day in the wilderness for that day. The only time there was extra was the day before the Sabbath, so that they could honor the law of God and worship and rest that day.

If we extract that principle, God gives us what we need for today, and what we need to be obedient to His direction in our life, which includes all aspects of stewardship: giving to Kingdom work, helping the poor, preparing for the future (but this does not mean hoarding! Having enough for a reasonable emergency is one thing, having enough for every possible thing that could go wrong twice over, that's another story).

We have to learn to trust His provision for each day to come as we follow Him, because we can't pack enough for what's over the horizon. We can only trust the One who has been there.

Moving toward the Horizon,
Doug

Thoughts on missions work

I spent the morning in a very good discussion session on church involvement in mission work. Then, as I was headed back to the office, I was thinking about some of the things we talked about, and some of the other things I've seen in relation to Southern Baptist missions work. I was considering what you'll find on the International Mission Board's Website. You'll find three key words:
PRAY----GIVE-----GO

Which is not a bad plan. Pray---because Jesus said to, because prayer opens our hearts and ears to hear what God says (I've never encountered anyone whose call to ministry didn't come after prayer).
Give---because where our heart is, our treasure follows, and if our heart is with reaching people for Christ, our treasure will go there, because where our treasure goes, our heart will follow...
Go---because we have the best news ever and we ought to want to go.

But I think I've observed that we follow a different pattern. It's the pattern I learned in Boy Scouts for water lifesaving: REACH-THROW-ROW-GO. What does it mean? If you are on a waterfront and see someone in danger, the first thing you do is REACH: balance and brace yourself so that you won't fall in also, and reach for the person with your arm or something sturdy. THROW: if you have a flotation/rescue device, THROW it to them, so that they have something to hang on to. ROW: if they are too far to REACH, and you have nothing to THROW, grab a boat/canoe/kayak and ROW to them, and pull them into the boat. GO: as a last resort, and only if you have the proper training, GO into the water and get them.

Now, for water rescue, it's not a bad plan. Drowning victims often put rescuers at risk, so the REACH-THROW-ROW-GO plan is based on keeping rescuers as safe as possible. The goal, after all, is to save lives, not lose additional ones.

The problem is, we've borrowed that into churches. We REACH: those that are close at hand, or that are near enough to us that we can get them with an easy tool. We THROW: the Gospel by mass dropping tracts or broadcasting radio, even into places that very few people have radios (side note: the fact that the Gospel has been broadcast in English all over the world doesn't count as preaching the Kingdom everywhere. Without a radio to hear it, and without the Word in language they understand, people are not hearing the Gospel) We ROW: we stay in a safety net by going for short trip, staying in the best accommodations, keeping our cell phones and laptops, and bailing out soon.

Then, as a last resort, we GO: we send someone, who must be highly trained and certified, to go and risk themselves in getting in the midst of people's lives and sharing Christ's love with them.

Now, does everyone need to GO overseas? No. We've borrowed this in our attitude toward lost people in general. We'll reach people that are close to church involvement, and throw the Gospel to people that are distance. We'll even row to them, by taking all of our church trappings on the road, but we don't want to risk getting ourselves involved in people's lives, whether they are our neighbors next door or someone around the world.

It's not enough for us as believers to leave GO up to highly trained, certified professionals. True, we need them. They write great blogs, preach great sermons, have great faith. But most of us are a little more ordinary. We don't write great blogs(if we write them at all), we don't preach great sermons, we have a little faith. But we only need to cling to that little strength. Then, jump in the water in faith. Then, we engage the GO, and trust God to pull us out.

Does this invalidate all of the other methods and means? No, but we need to realize that many people will only be responsive if someone GOes to them. Will you GO?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Shamelessly reposting

In school, we learn that it's okay to quote others as long as you quote them correctly, and attribute credit where credit is due.  Therefore, reposted for you from John Ortberg, from http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2008/11/john_ortbergs_l.html where you can find this, and all of the commentary around it, and links to other great stuff from Christianity Today, comes some thoughts about politics. 

John Ortberg's Lessons from the Election | Out of Ur | Conversations for Ministry Leaders
John Ortberg's Lessons from the Election

The seven deadly sins of evangelicals in politics.

by John Ortberg

My son has a bumper sticker on his car that reads: “I poke badgers with spoons.” Its significance is not self-evident to everybody who reads it, so let me tell you its story.

It comes from a British stand-up named Eddie Izzard. Eddie grew up in the church, and heard early on about the doctrine of original sin, but was a little fuzzy on the concept. He assumed that it meant that priests get tired of hearing the same old boring confessions time after time—greed, lust, gluttony, and lying to the tax man. Eddie thought the priests wanted to hear some truly original sins.

So he came up with something he figured no one had ever confessed before. “I poke badgers with spoons.” My wife thought it was so funny that she had it printed on a bumper sticker and placed it on my son’s car. Oddly enough, he sometimes fails to appreciate that his parents are two of the funniest people in the world. But he wanted the car. So he gets the sticker that goes with it.

Debates have raged for centuries now over the phrase “original sin,” which of course doesn’t actually show up in the scriptures. Augustine argued that there is a fundamental flaw, a bentness, that gets passed on to every human being before they are even born. (He believed it was intrinsic to the sex act, which may be part of why he never had a little Augustine, Jr.--at least not legitimately.) The classic counter-argument was raised by Pelagius, who claimed that each human being was a blank slate, a morally neutral free agent who had a clean shot at maintaining perfect innocence. Pelagius clearly never had children.

The church came down, with a few caveats, on the side of Augustine and not Pelagius. But Eddie Izzard gets a shout out now and then. The Vatican recently published a list of sins (such as environmental transgressions) which, if not completely original, at least give an updated twist to the old seven deadlies.

Which brings me to the election...

I am a political junkie. During a presidential campaign, I will often buy a couple of newspapers a day just to keep up. But it strikes me that presidential campaigns can often bring out the worst as well as the best in us.So I want to propose the “Seven Deadly Sins of Evangelicals and Politics.” You may have a few of your own to add. But the spirit of such lists in the past was not to add to our store of information but to contrition. So feel free to confess while you read.

Messianism. The sin of believing that a merely human person or system can usher in the eschaton. This is often tipped off by phrases like: “The most important election of our lifetime” (which one wasn’t?); or “God’s man for the hour.”

Selective Scripturization. The sin of using Scripture to reinforce whatever attitude toward the president you feel like holding, while shellacking it with a thin spiritual veneer. If the candidate you like holds office, you consistently point people toward Romans 13: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” If your candidate lost, you consistently point people to Acts 4:10 where Peter and John say to the Sanhedrin: “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.” It’s just lucky for us the Bible is such a big book.

Easy Believism. This is the sin of believing the worst about a candidate you disagree with, because when you want them to lose you actually want to believe bad things about them. “Love is patient, love is kind,” Paul said. “Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth.” But in Paul’s day nobody ran for Caesar. There was no talk radio.

Episodism. The sin of being engaged in civic life only on a random basis. The real issues never go away, but we’re tempted to give them our attention only when the news about them is controversial, or simplistic, or emotionally charged. Sustained attention to vital but unsexy issues is not our strong suit.

Alarmism. A friend of mine used to work for an organization that claimed both Christian identity and a particular political orientation. They actually liked it when a president was elected of the opposite persuasion, because it meant they could raise a lot more money. It is in their financial interests to convince their constituents that the president is less sane than Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Alarmists on both sides of the spectrum make it sound like we’re electing a Bogeyman-in-Chief every four years. I sometimes think we should move the election up a few days to October 31.

One Issue-ism. Justifying our intolerance of complexity and nuance by collapsing a decision into a simplistic and superficial framework.

Pride. I couldn’t think of a snappy title for this one. But politics, after all, is largely about power. And power goes to the core of our issues of control and narcissism and need to be right and tendency to divide the human race into ‘us’ vs. ‘them.’

What might happen if the world were to see those of us who claim to be the church vote, and speak, and campaign, and respond to the results in a humble and repentant spirit?

John Ortberg is editor-at-large of Leadership and pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California. He writes as monthly column on our sister site www.LeadershipJournal.net.

Where is the outrage?

I have one question about this:  WHERE ARE ALL THE PEOPLE THAT WERE PROTESTING ABOUT SARAH PALIN'S DAUGHTER BEING 'FORCED' TO HAVE HER BABY AND MARRY THE FATHER?  WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE FROM PRO-WOMEN PRO-CHOICE GROUPS ABOUT THIS WOMAN BEING FORCED INTO AN ABORTION?

I'll tell you where:  gone, because it's not women's choices that Planned Parenthood wants or that Barrack Obama wants, it's government control of who has children and who does not.  There is no outrage from our President-elect because he and his backers want the same things in the US:  Population control, with the government deciding who can have children, and how many.  Planned Parenthood was started with the idea of reducing the reproduction of 'undesirables' and now has a firm foothold in US policy which will grow to the stranglehold they have on UN policy.  Meanwhile, a woman is having her baby murdered at the choice of her government, not her.  Where is Senator Clinton?  Where is MSNBC throwing a fit?  Where is President-elect Obama?  Where is President Bush?  And if the Chinese government has managed to let this one story slip, can you imagine how many they may have repressed?


Baptist Press - Protests rise as Chinese govt. edicts abortion for woman - News with a Christian Perspective
Protests rise as Chinese govt. edicts abortion for woman

Posted on Nov 17, 2008 | by Stafff

WASHINGTON (BP)--A woman who is six months pregnant is being held in a Chinese hospital for a forced abortion under the government's infamous population control program.

Arzigul Tursun, a mother of two, is awaiting an abortion she opposes while under guard in a hospital in Xinjiang, a vast region in the northwest part of the world's most populous country, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA). As a Uyghur Muslim, Tursun is permitted to have two children, but government officials have enforced the population control policy on her third child. She is 26 weeks into her pregnancy.

A pro-life U.S. congressman is protesting the unwanted abortion.

"The Chinese government is notorious for this barbaric practice, but to forcibly abort a woman while the world watches in full knowledge of what is going on would make a mockery of its claim that the central government disapproves of the practice, and of the U.N. Population Fund pretense that it has moderated the Chinese population planners' cruelty," said Rep. Chris Smith, R.-N.J., who sent a direct appeal to Zhou Wenzhong, China's ambassador to the United States. "Human rights groups and the U.S. government will be watching very carefully to see what happens to Arzigul and her family."

Tursun is being held at Yining's Water Gate Hospital, according to RFA.

"We will give an injection first. Then she will experience abdominal pain, and the baby will come out by itself," a nurse at the hospital said in a telephone interview, RFA reported Nov. 13. "But we haven't given her any injection yet -- we are waiting for instructions from the doctors."

China's population control policy, which has been in place since 1979, has been marked by forced abortions and sterilizations. Infanticide, especially of females, also has been reported. In addition to abortions and sterilizations, penalties for violations of the policy have included fines, arrests and the destruction of homes.

China's policy generally limits couples in urban areas to one child and those in rural areas to two, if the first is a girl. Uyghurs, a Turkic-speaking ethic group, and other minorities living in rural areas are allowed three children, but those from cities are permitted only two, according to Xinhua, China's official news agency, RFA reported. Tursun is from a rural area, but her husband, Nurmemet Tohtasin, is from a city.

The coercive program has helped produce a gender imbalance in the world's most populous country, with many girls being aborted in order to enable a male baby to be born later. China had 120 males born for every 100 females in 2005, according to the U.N. Population Fund, which U.S. researchers report has assisted the government's coercive population control program.

Tursun left the family's home in the village of Bulaq to prevent a forced abortion but returned under pressure.

"When she fled the village to avoid abortion, police and party officials, and the family planning committee officials, all came and interrogated us," said Tohtasin, according to RFA. "The deputy chief of the village ... threatened that if we didn't find Arzigul and bring her to the village, she would confiscate our land and all our property."

After Tursun returned home, her husband and she were taken Nov. 11 to the hospital by an official of the village's family planning committee, RFA reported. Tohtasin said he was pressured into signing permission forms for an abortion.

"If her health is normal, then the abortion will definitely take place," the official said, according to RFA. "Otherwise they have to pay a fine in the amount of [$6,590 in U.S. currency] -- that's a lot of money, and they won't have it."
--30--
Tom Strode is Baptist Press' Washington bureau chief.


If we do not do stand against this type of atrocity, we may very well find our country next. 

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday 11-17

"The Bible, and the Bible alone, holds ultimate authority in a Baptist congregation. The Second London Confession of Faith (1677) put the issue plainly: "The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own Glory, man's Salvation, Faith and Life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture; unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new Revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men."

--R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

I read this, and I wonder, what things am I carrying because of the traditions of men, rather than basing my life on Scripture alone? Do I live a stressed out life because it is the will of God or because that's just the way we do it?

I want to live today carrying only the yoke which is easy, the burden which is light...the burden of following the Lord Jesus Christ.



Moving toward the Horizon,
Doug

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Reposted from the Pyromaniacs...

Ok, the Pyromaniacs may not be people you'd read on a daily basis, but they do have some good things.  In fact, their blog today did what I'm doing now:  Repost what someone smarter than you said.  Here's their post of something Charles Spurgeon preached:

Pyromaniacs: The Danger of Perpetual Uncertainty
The Danger of Perpetual Uncertainty
Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following excerpt is from "On Laying Foundations", a sermon delivered on Sunday morning, January 21st, 1883, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.



eware of a religion without holdfasts. But if I get a grip upon a doctrine they call me a bigot. Let them do so. Bigotry is a hateful thing, and yet that which is now abused as bigotry is a great [Spurgeon] virtue, and greatly needed in these frivolous times. I have been inclined lately to start a new denomination, and call it "the Church of the Bigoted."

Everybody is getting to be so oily, so plastic, so untrue, that we need a race of hardshells to teach us how to believe. Those old-fashioned people who in former ages believed something and thought the opposite of it to be false, were truer folk, than the present timeservers.

I should like to ask the divines of the broad school whether any doctrine is worth a man's dying for it. They would have to reply, "Well, of course, if a man had to go to the stake or change his opinions, the proper way would be to state them with much diffidence, and to be extremely respectful to the opposite school."

But suppose he is required to deny the truth?

"Well, there is much to be said on each side, and probably the negative may have a measure of truth in it as well as the positive. At any rate, it cannot be a prudent thing to incur the odium of being burned, and so it might be preferable to leave the matter an open question for the time being."

Yes, and as these gentlemen always find it unpleasant to be unpopular, they soften down the hard threatenings of Scripture as to the world to come, and put a color upon every doctrine to which worldly-wise men object.

The teachers of doubt are very doubtful teachers. A man must have something to hold to, or he will neither bless himself nor others.

Bring all the ships into the pool; but do not moor or anchor one of them; let each one be free! Wait you for a stormy night, and they will dash against each other, and great mischief will come of this freedom. Perfect love and charity will not come through our being all unmoored, but by each having his proper moorings and keeping to them in the name of God. You must have something to hold to.
C. H. Spurgeon

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Don't believe everything you hear or read....

Some news from the day:

NEW YORK — Commuters nationwide found out during Wednesday's morning rush hour that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had ended and global warming, health care spending and the economy's problems were on their way to being solved.

On behalf of a collective of liberal activists, 1,000 volunteers across the country handed out 1.2 million copies of a spoof of The New York Times, dated July 4, 2009.

At first glance, the parody, which used the Times' Gothic-style font on the nameplate, could easily be mistaken for the real thing.

The 14-page paper — which also announced the abolition of corporate lobbying, a maximum wage for CEOs and a recall for all gasoline-fueled cars — showed up in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, it's been shown that MSNBC, the LA Times, and other news outlets were tricked into reporting false information about Sarah Palin, both during and after the campaign. Information intended to make her out to be incredibly stupid and misinformed. (I'm not saying she's perfect)

Folks, when are we going to learn that the news media of America exists not to provide information, but to make money? This is not the era of John Peter Zenger, criticizing real problems with the British, this is not even the days of Woodward and Bernstein. This is the time where 'unnamed sources' are reported as if they have absolute credibility, and the media rushes to beat everyone else to the mike with the information.

This not a rant about liberal vs. conservative bias. Those things blatantly exist. CNN, MSNBC are slanted to the liberal, Fox to the conservative. Don't believe me? Chris Matthews of MSNBC stated that he wanted to do everything possible for Obama to succeed. He's an anchor, supposed to be unbiased, like Walter Cronkite. And believe me, Fox wanted to stop Obama. It's just that CNN and MSNBC are so far left, it makes Fox look center.

You cannot believe what you read or see unless you fact check it yourself, and then still, wait a little while. Websites are easy to produce, faked videos easy to put on the web. Unless it's a story about some of our ditzy princesses in Hollywood, if it seems that someone is being portrayed as unbelievably dumb, don't believe it.


How do we sort this out? As Christians, we should spend more time with the absolute truth we know, the Bible, so that our ability to sort out lies is strengthened. The Secret Service, whose people are more responsible for literal protection of our money than they are to protect the President, trains bank professionals how to find counterfeit currency. It's done by handing out fakes and examining them. It's done by handing out real money, spending countless hours in review of what is real. Then counterfeit shows up easily.

Spend your time with the real truth. The One who said 'I am the way, the truth, and the life.'' Spend it with the Lord Jesus Christ.

And then you'll be better prepared to detect truth everywhere.

What are we made for?

Something we need to consider is that while we are born with sin, we are made for fellowship with God and obedience to Him. 

What are you allowing to define your life?  What do we spend our greatest time on?  What we are born with?  Or what we are made for?


Praying for us all to be what God created us to be...

"The conversion of one soul is worth the labour of a life time. 'Unto us is this favour given that we should preach among the gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.' Hold on, therefore; be steady in your work, and leave the result with God." "Be encouraged, my dear son. Devote yourself wholly to your work. For this is the cause God has had in His mind from eternity, and for which Christ shed His blood, and for which the Spirit and the Word were given. So its triumph is certain."

--William Carey

to his missionary son, William

Campaign Slowdown

Since I do have a job, the Doug for President Campaign is in slowdown, with 1 post every 1-2 weeks for now.

Once I get a celebrity endorsement, I'll speed it back up. I'm thinking real celebrity. Does anybody have Chuck Norris's cell number? Or Governor Huckabee's? I had his aide's number when he was in office, but I can't get past the switchboard at Fox.

And, as a campaign, the Doug for President staff salutes Brit Hume in his decision to back off on Fox News to spend more time with his family and to focus on strengthening his Christian faith. Mr. Hume, we pray for you, and hope that, in your political analyst days, you do well. More than that, we pray that you will be encouraged and blessed by your time in Bible study, prayer, and family, and if you ever want to preach or share your testimony away from the bright lights, give us a shout. I know of a small town Baptist church that would listen, and feed you like you ain't been fed in a while!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

One more election comment

One thing I want to do is get some of my readers in touch with other people who write better or think better than I do. So here's a link to another blog, written by a preacher, who has some good observations on the election:

http://www.voddiebaucham.org/vbm/Blog/Entries/2008/11/8_It_Wasn%E2%80%99t_Supposed_to_Be_Like_This.html

Doug

We're scared! What do we do?

3 Even though the people were afraid of the local residents, they rebuilt the altar at its old site. Then they began to sacrifice burnt offerings on the altar to the Lord each morning and evening.

Ezra 3:3 (NLT)


The book of Ezra tells the story of the Jews as they returned to Jerusalem after the exile. (for those details, read the book, or ask later). The Jewish people returned to a countryside filled with enemies, armed with the permission of the Emperor and their faith in God. The people around them did not want to see Jerusalem rebuilt, the Temple rebuilt, the Jews restored to their land, and came together in opposition. There were many threats, there was legal maneuvering, and there was small scale violence. So what did the Jews do? Did they endorse a political party? Did they organize their army to attack? (note: in Nehemiah, we see that they did prepare for their own defense) Did they file lawsuits?


No. They rebuilt the altar of God, and returned to daily obedience of the sacrifices. That's what they did when afraid. We don't have to offer animal sacrifices, but instead are commanded to take up our cross daily and follow Christ in obedience. Will you follow daily in the obedience God has commanded?

Then we will see His work, see His salvation, His movement among us and the people around us. Let's do that first. Then we can sue whoever is left that God couldn't handle. Which will save a lot on court costs....

Moving toward the Horizon,
Doug

Spurgeon says....

Today's Morning Devotion from Charles Spurgeon: (uncommented, with his British spellings)

November 12
Morning Verse
"The trial of your faith." 1Peter 1:7
Faith untried may be true faith, but it is sure to be little faith, and it is likely to remain dwarfish so long as it is without trials. Faith never prospers so well as when all things are against her: tempests are her trainers, and lightnings are her illuminators. When a calm reigns on the sea, spread the sails as you will, the ship moves not to its harbour; for on a slumbering ocean the keel sleeps too. Let the winds rush howling forth, and let the waters lift up themselves, then, though the vessel may rock, and her deck may be washed with waves, and her mast may creak under the pressure of the full and swelling sail, it is then that she makes headway towards her desired haven. No flowers wear so lovely a blue as those which grow at the foot of the frozen glacier; no stars gleam so brightly as those which glisten in the polar sky; no water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand; and no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs in adversity. Tried faith brings experience. You could not have believed your own weakness had you not been compelled to pass through the rivers; and you would never have known God's strength had you not been supported amid the water-floods. Faith increases in solidity, assurance, and intensity, the more it is exercised with tribulation. Faith is precious, and its trial is precious too.
Let not this, however, discourage those who are young in faith. You will have trials enough without seeking them: the full portion will be measured out to you in due season. Meanwhile, if you cannot yet claim the result of long experience, thank God for what grace you have; praise Him for that degree of holy confidence whereunto you have attained: walk according to that rule, and you shall yet have more and more of the blessing of God, till your faith shall remove mountains and conquer impossibilities.
—Morning and Evening

More signs of the end....is this Bush's fault? Or Obama's?

Sources: DEI, Ganassi to combine teams - Yahoo! News
MIAMI – Teresa Earnhardt and Chip Ganassi will combine their slumping race teams next season, an effort to stabilize their organizations in a tough economic time, The Associated Press has learned.

The combined team will be called Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and will field cars for Martin Truex, Aric Almirola, Juan Pablo Montoya and a driver yet to be named, two people familiar with the decision told the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal has yet to be announced.

Both organizations have struggled to secure sponsorship this season, forcing the teams to pool resources.

Truex and Almirola will come from Dale Earnhardt Incorporated; only Truex's car has full sponsorship for next season.

Montoya has half a season of sponsorship, and Ganassi's flagship No. 41 has full sponsorship but no driver.

DEI fields Chevrolets, and Ganassi has a Dodge contract. Details of a manufacturer switch still are being worked out as the team is expected to use General Motors.


There is no news of whether Dodge or General Motors will even be in business.  This team merger may have been planned when Dodge and GM were considering a merger.

You know, it could be that DEI is having trouble because there's no DE with them, and that NASCAR, like most sport and entertainment options, has gotten too expensive for its own good, such that Ganassi isn't competitive, and the fan base can't support but a few superstars.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

For those of us here in America, we're remembering our Veterans today. To all of you who have served, we thank you. Our freedom comes as a gift from God, who delivered it by your efforts.

A bit of history is worth remembering here. We celebrate Veteran's Day on November 11 because that's the day World War One ended. Of course, when it ended, it was the end of the 'Great War' since everyone thought humanity wouldn't be so foolish again. It was hoped that we would see peace forever. Then the world faced economic turmoil, some countries turned to anger and hatred to strengthen themselves, and other countries went along with it. This was called appeasement, and was supposed to avert war. Other countries chose isolation, so that they wouldn't have to fight no matter what anyone else did.

Isolation and appeasement failed, because evil is never satisfied. Since the 'War to End All Wars' ended on November 11, 1918, we have seen millions more die to fight evil, and protect our lives and freedom in America, and in many other countries. Let us never forget that. Let us respect our veterans, and the price they and their families pay so that we can lay down in peace at night. Unfortunately, our world still contains evil and people willing to do evil. Let us have the will to stand up to it before it becomes full-grown, before it requires the lives of our fellow man to fight it down. To let evil grow does not show respect for the military, but throws away their lives by letting evil get stronger. Who knows the lives saved had Hitler been driven from power in 1936? Had Stalin not held the Soviet Union? Had Ho Chi Minh failed, or Mao fallen to Chiang Kai-Shek? What if slavery had been eliminated in the Constitution? How many lives saved?

Standing up to the small evils of this world shows our veterans that we respect their sacrifices, and that we value their lives, that we would rather the world not see another World War Two, another Vietnam, another Iraq, or another Cold War.

The American serviceman has never failed our country, from the Revolution until now. They have always stood and fought, have always triumphed in the fight they were sent to. The attempts to hang failure on the men and women of the Armed Forces for Vietnam or the present situation in Iraq is to ignore the fact that politicians made the decisions that led to the situation. The bravery and sacrifice of those Marines, Soldiers, Airmen, and Seamen is not diminished by political stupidity, not diminished because people that stayed home, safe in their beds, treated those men and women with contempt upon their return, that politicians and greedy contractors have robbed the VA from effectively serving them, these are things that we must fight against.

We live in one of the greatest countries in this world, no matter what detractors we have. The greatest critics of our nation seem to be countries that our veterans have died to liberate, people that forget that their freedom to agitate is guaranteed by the soldiers they mock, and by those in the world whose evil we must stand against. Our nation is blessed that our soldiers' weapons point out to defend, and not in to threaten. That our border security issues have to do with who comes in, not those who wish to leave. That our military swears an oath to uphold our Constitution, not any one person.

We are truly blessed. To our military families, thank you. To our military, active and former, thank you.

To Dad: thank you. My greatest regret is not being able to follow in your footsteps.

Stretch your brain

Okay, well, I know that all of you won't be able to read what I am about to recommend in one sitting.  I want to encourage you to try and read it over the next several days or weeks.  Take a look at http://pbrd.wordpress.com

If you can read that whole thing, do it.  Sometimes to reach where God wants us, we have to be willing to stretch our brains a little.

Reading that will help as you consider this question:  Is there one unchanging standard of behavior?  How do find it?  How do we live by it and get others to live by it?


Monday, November 10, 2008

A quote to consider

Dr. Adrian Rogers, the late pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, was an excellent preacher of the Gospel. Just as much, he was a man that could challenge a believer to take further steps than they had ever thought possible. One such quote is this one:

"Give God the chance to provide before you buy."

Now, this statement to me counters our consumer mentality as Americans. We are so impatient, but we need to learn to let God provide the things we need before we stress out about them. It's true that much of God's provision comes through His provision of a job, but does that change that the gift is His?

Let's thank God today for His provision and His grace.
Doug

Brit Hume

Fox News Channel's Brit Hume is retiring.  I want to encourage that you read and consider this paragraph from an interview with him about his retirement.


Fox News' Brit Hume leaving for family, religion | Entertainment | People | Reuters
Hume: I certainly want to pursue my faith more ardently than I have done. I'm not claiming it's impossible to do when you work in this business. I was kind of a nominal Christian for the longest time. When my son died (by suicide in 1998), I came to Christ in a way that was very meaningful to me. If a person is a Christian and tries to face up to the implications of what you say you believe, it's a pretty big thing. If you do it part time, you're not really living it.




How about us?  Are we part-time?

Funny Stuff...sort of

Ok, how much is of this is too true to be funny?



Ten Things You Never Hear in Church

  1. "Hey! It's my turn to sit in the front pew!"
  2. "I was so enthralled, I never even noticed your sermon went 25 minutes overtime."
  3. "Personally I find witnessing much more enjoyable than golf."
  4. "I've decided to give our church the $500 a month I've been sending to TV Evangelists."
  5. "I'll volunteer to be the permanent teacher for the Junior High Sunday School class."
  6. "Forget the denominational minimum salary. Let's pay our pastor so he can live like we do!"
  7. "I love it when we sing hymns I've never heard before."
  8. "Since we're all here, let's start the service early!"
  9. "Pastor, we'd like to send you to this Bible seminar in the Bahamas."
  10. "Nothing inspires me and strengthens my commitment to the Lord like our annual stewardship campaign."

The Fall

When the Methodist minister falls down the stairs, he picks himself up and says, "That was an experience, how do I learn from it?" When the Catholic priest falls down the stairs, he picks himself up and says, "I must have done something really bad to deserve that." When the Presbyterian minister falls down the stairs, he picks himself up and says, "That was inevitable, I'm glad its over." When the Baptist minister falls down the stairs, he picks himself up and says, "Which one of my deacons pushed me?

Sermon and Service Recap for November 8

Looks like I forgot to post this! Thank you!