Archive for April 25th, 2013

Joe Thorn speaks to an all too common problem (being late to church). But his real goal is to get people to arrive at church early:

It doesn’t sound like a big deal, and of course this isn’t the sort of thing that brings fire from heaven or church discipline. But being late can have a genuinely negative impact in more ways than one.

For example, a consistently late arrival may contribute to the leadership’s felt need to postpone the start of the service. Or, when a lot of people are arriving late visitors are more likely to feel uncomfortable and isolated. And if you are frequently late to worship you may be missing the opportunity to meet new people. These things (and many more) are true, but I don’t want to come down on people for being late, as much as I want to encourage everyone to get to church early. Why?

Well, if the opening of your worship services feature a pastor flying in on a zip-line, or some such nonsense, feel free to be late. Or find another church. Otherwise, you should be careful to get there on time because the beginning of the worship gathering is not a throw-away of announcements (which you should pay attention to anyway). Rather, at least in our case, the beginning of our corporate worship is thoughtfully put together with the aim of directing our thoughts toward God. From the opening Scripture to the closing benediction every piece of the liturgy is a piece to a puzzle that, when assembled, gives us all a fuller picture of the gospel.

And consider this; if you are frequrently late you are missing something you need: perhaps a reading from a Psalm that highlights the character and work of God as the answer to your own fears and doubts. Why does this matter? Well, scripture is one of the primary means of grace God has given us, and by coming in late you may be missing the very truths your heart needs the most. You may be unintentionally side-stepping the very words from the mouth of God that would address your heart, lift your head, and strengthen your faith. The opening reading and prayer of corporate worship is also what God will use to prepare you to listen, sing, and believe the truth of God that fills the entirety of the service.

So, get to church early, and eager. Who knows what God is going to do in your heart this Sunday?!

More here.

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Randy Alcorn shares a few thoughts:

A pastor once confessed to me: “Whenever I think about heaven, it makes me depressed. I’d rather just cease to exist when I die.” “Why?” I asked. “I can’t stand the thought of that endless tedium. To float around in the clouds with nothing to do but strum a harp … it’s all so terribly boring. Heaven doesn’t sound much better than hell.”

Where did this Bible-believing, seminary-educated pastor get such a view of heaven? Certainly not from Scripture, where Paul said that to depart and be with Christ was far better than staying on a sin-cursed earth (Phil. 1:23). My friend was more honest about it than most, yet I’ve found that many Christians share his misconceptions about heaven.

Scripture commands us to set our hearts on heaven: “Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1). And to make sure we don’t miss the importance of a heaven-centered life, the next verse says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things [alone].”

While the present heaven is a pre-resurrected state, the ultimate heaven, where God will forever dwell with His people, will be in a resurrected universe (Rev. 21:1–4). Because of the biblical emphasis on the resurrection (1 Cor. 15), I think God wants us to ponder not simply where we go when we die, but where we will live with Christ forever. . . .

hat’s your attitude toward heaven? Does it fill you with excitement? How often do you, your church, and your family talk about it?

If you lack a passion for heaven, I can almost guarantee it’s because you have a deficient and distorted theology of heaven (or you’re making choices that conflict with heaven’s agenda). An accurate and biblically energized view of heaven will bring a new spiritual passion to your life.

When you fix your mind on heaven and see the present in light of eternity, even little choices become tremendously important. After death, we will never have another chance to share Christ with one who can be saved from hell, to give a cup of water to the thirsty, to invest money to help the helpless and reach the lost, or to share our homes, clothes, and love with the poor and needy.

Read more of this post which was originally published in Tabletalk magazine.

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Mike in Australia, using an analogy of a chess game thinks that in the current “game” of our cultural demise, thinks that “what’s on” the agenda right now is same-sex marriage.  What’s next is euthanasia.  And what will come after that is infanticide. He thinks that we as Christians in the West better be preparing arguments for the debate over infanticide. Here’s how he sees it coming down:

Campaigners for infanticide will make their case in a gradual way. First, they won’t call it “infanticide” (killing infants) but “post-birth abortion”. The reasons are obvious. The word “infanticide” strikes horror into our hearts. But “post-birth abortion” makes it sound like the termination is simply an extension of abortion, which we are culturally adjusted to. Yet the terminology is grossly inaccurate. You can “abort” something in process like a pregnancy, but killing an infant is not an abortion, its an execution. Second, campaigners will advocate the infants born with terminal illnesses should be euthanised so as to prevent the infant’s suffering. That is the compassionate thing to do! Third, then the campaign will shift to children with chronic disabilities and all kinds of generative diseases and then move onto to any minor defect like cleft palates. Planned Parenthood will parade teary-eyed parents wishing they could have terminated their sick child either in-utero or soon after birth to prevent the child’s suffering and their own. Fourth, then radical feminists will tell us that women will never be truly liberated until they are given the right to terminate their own infants. Fifth, we will be told that the only reason for not believing in infanticide is that you are a religious whack job. Well you get the picture by now.

Some might think that I’m paranoid on this issue, but I think time will prove that I am more likely to be prophetic. The building blocks for the debate are already here and it is time to get our stuff together on this.

Using a military strategy he goes on to argue he says we had better observe, orientate, decide and act now as the battle lines are being formed on this front now!  The whole article “Infanticide: The Coming Battle” is sober but necessary reading.

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Jon Bloom offers some timely words when we are battling fear in our lives (full article here):

“You “by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5, emphasis mine). You are guarded through faith by believing promises like these:

  • God forgives all your sins (1 John 1:9)
  • God has removed condemnation from you (Romans 8:1)
  • Your heart need not be troubled (John 14:1) by the demonic tribulations in the world for Jesus has overcome them for you (John 16:33).
  • God will provide you sufficient food for your needs (Luke 12:24).
  • God will provide you sufficient clothes for your needs (Matthew 6:30).
  • In fact, every need you will ever have will be provided for you (Luke 12:31Philippians 4:19).
  • You can sell your possessions and give to the needy (Luke 12:33) because your Father will gladly give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32).
  • Nothing will be impossible for you (Matthew 17:20).
  • You can have peace in any storm of life (Luke 8:25).
  • Even if you’re persecuted, hated, and even killed for Jesus’s sake, not a hair of your head will perish (Luke 21:16–18)
  • You will never really die (John 11:26)
  • You will receive eternal life (John 3:16).
  • Nothing will ever separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38–39).
  • Every promise God has ever made to his people he will fulfill for you (2 Corinthians 1:20).
  • If you abide in Jesus and his word abides in you, whatever you ask will be done for you (John 15:7Matthew 21:22).
  • The Holy Spirit will flow out of your heart like rivers of living water (John 7:38–39).
  • You will never suffer soul starvation or soul dehydration again (John 6:35).
  • Others will believe in Jesus through your witness (John 17:20).
  • God will cause ALL THINGS to work together for good for you (Romans 8:28).

Believing these (and many more) will guard you as you run. And through these promises Jesus says to you:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)

So lay aside the weights of your fears (Hebrews 12:1) and believe in Jesus. Jesus is running with you (Hebrews 13:5) and he’s stronger than Satan (1 John 4:4).

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).”

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Pastor Paul  Tautages shares one way to find strength in the midst of your life’s trials, temptations and struggles. I have found them very useful in my life so I am sharing them with you:

To strengthen your heart and soul, and feed your sometimes-weary faith, follow David’s example. Pray these Psalms back to God. Here are some of the confident affirmations of God’s strength that fed my soul the past few days, which I wrote down in my journal. Recite these to yourself over and over again. Pray through them for yourself, and for fellow believers who are also under spiritual attack, or for those whose faith is being tested.

  • Psalm 55:16 “But I call to God, and the LORD will save me.”
  • Psalm 55:17 “Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.”
  • Psalm 55:18 “He redeems my soul in safety”
  • Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”
  • Psalm 56:3-4 “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?”
  • Psalm 56:8 “You have kept count of my tossings;put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?”
  • Psalm 56:9 “This I know, that  God is for me.”
  • Psalm 56:11 “…in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
  • Psalm 56:13 “For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.”
  • Psalm 57:1 “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.”
  • Psalm 57:9-10 “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.”
  • Psalm 59:9 “O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress.”
  • Psalm 59:10 “My God in his steadfast lovewill meet me”
  • Psalm 59:16-17 “But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.”
  • Psalm 61:2-3 “…from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.”
  • Psalm 62:1-2 “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.”
  • Psalm 62:5-8 “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.  He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”

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