Monday, December 31, 2012

Top 10 tweets

1. “Grace is a stunning reversal of the way the world does business.” – Tullian Tchividjian

2. “Only Jesus can be both the consummate Man of Sorrows, AND the One who is anointed with joy above his fellows. What a Savior.” – Scotty Smith

3. “The birth of Jesus is a radical visible announcement. God’s not satisfied to leave us the way we are and we should not be either.” – Paul David Tripp

4. “The sovereignty of God over evil is our biggest problem in life. Also, our only hope.” – Ray Ortlund

5. “We are changed not by being told what we need 2 do for God, but by hearing the news abt what He has done 4 us.” – J.D. Greear

6. “Joseph & Mary did everything for Jesus the law required (Lk. 2:39), not realizing Jesus came to do the same for them.” – Scotty Smith

7. “For your marriage to succeed you have to demote your spouse out of the center of your significance and security.” – Dave Furman

8. “God has had a passion 4 the nations 4 all eternity. Surely we can pursue that same passion 4 His glory 4 a single lifetime!” – Daniel Akin

9. “Jesus, grant us grace for serving others with joy & humility to receive service from others. Free us from the illusion of self sufficiency." – Scotty Smith

10. “The logic of grace is incomprehensible to our law-locked hearts.” – Tullian Tchividjian

Friday, December 28, 2012

Preparing for corporate worship: To 'all things new'

We will worship as the church of Christ this Sunday for the final time in 2012. We will do so with the knowledge we are not headed just toward a new year but toward a new heaven and a new earth, as well as a new Jerusalem descended from heaven prepared as a bride for her husband, as described in Rev. 21. “And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’ And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new’” (Rev. 21:3-5a, ©NASB). As we gather Sunday, may we do so in the complete confidence we are headed to that day when our God makes “all things new.” This work of renewal will take place because God in His grace and in His good pleasure sent His Son to reconcile us to Him through the blood of Jesus. As a result, may we arrive Sunday with hearts and minds full of adoration, thanksgiving, rejoicing, humility, and submission.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Top 10 tweets

1. “Grace exposes our prejudice, mocks our greed & sabotages our control idol; that’s why some of us prefer legalism/moralism.” – Scotty Smith

2. “Christmas: the Son of God expressing the love of God to save us from the wrath of God so we could enjoy the presence of God.” – John Piper

3. “If you fear God, you need fear nothing else, even the devil. If you do not fear God, you will ultimately fear many things besides Him.” – Randy Alcorn

4. “Christmas is God’s answer to the slavery of self-salvation.” – Tullian Tchividjian

5. “The vertical relationship between a husband and God is the only proper basis for fulfilling his marriage role in the home.” – Dave Furman

6. “Look into the manger and see life, hope, forgiveness, deliverance, freedom; all resting on the shoulders of the One sleeping in that manger.” – Paul David Tripp

7. “Unless we go to the Bible to see Jesus and his work for us, even our Bible reading can become fuel for our own self-improvement plans.” – Tullian Tchividjian

8. “Note to self: beware of spiritual pride b/c you apply law & gospel to your kids in the midst of others who do not.” – Tim Brister

9. “Jesus still seeks foolish men and wise men. Jesus is the primary seeker in the whole Story. Hallelujah.” – Scotty Smith

10. “Husbands have hope because Jesus is the perfect husband who gave His life for His bride the Church.” – Dave Furman

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Christmas Child: Suffering Servant and Substitute

'01-11' photo (c) 2010, J.K. Califf - license: world celebrates the birth of a baby on this date, but the world of that time did not welcome that child when He grew into a man. And so it has continued to this day.

Isaiah described the suffering of this One in the 53rd chapter of his prophecy:
He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.
Christ came to suffer -- not for any shortcomings of His own. He came to suffer for our sins.

As we celebrate the birth of the Christmas Child today, may we not neglect the adoration and gratitude that is due this same One who was a Suffering Servant who came as a substitute for us that we might know Him as the only Savior from sin.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Mondays are for music: 'For Unto Us a Child Is Born'

"For Unto Us a Child Is Born" is a great chorus from one of the greatest musical works of all time, Handel's "Messiah." In this video, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Tenebrae choir perform this piece about the coming of our Savior.

Top 10 tweets

1. “Christmas is about a rescue mission.” – Greg Breazeale

2. “The magnifying of Christ in the white-hot worship of all nations is the reason the world exists.” – John Piper

3. “Christmas is the arrival of the creator onto the stage of his own broken, defaced, sinful creation with the goal of making all things news.” – Tullian Tchividjian

4. “Because the war for the rule of our hearts will wage again today, what we all deeply need is grace.” – Paul David Tripp

5. “For us Christmas is about celebration, for Jesus that first Christmas began with suffering that continued and then culminated on the cross.” – Paul David Tripp

6. “Wives don’t submit to their husbands because their husband is worthy of it, but because Jesus is worthy.” – Dave Furman

7. “I love exchanging gifts with Jesus at Christmas. He gets my sin, I get his righteousness. Awesome!” – Scotty Smith

8. “Church membership is the shape of Christian discipleship.” – Mark Dever

9. “Christmas is God running to us in Jesus.” – Greg Breazeale

10. “If we are indifferent about the lost in our city, then we must conclude God’s glory is unimportant in our lives.” – Tim Brister

Friday, December 21, 2012

Preparing for corporate worship: God became man (4)

There may be no more significant and precious thought at Christmas than this: God came to save us. He has always been the Savior of His people. In Hosea 13:4, He testifies to this truth, saying to those Old Covenant people, “Yet I have been the Lord your God since the land of Egypt; and you were not to know any god except Me, for there is no savior besides Me” (©NASB). He commanded them not to worship any other because He is the only one who could save them. In Matthew 1:21, the angel testifies to the same truth, telling Joseph, “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (©NASB). God the Son came to save His own. He had to become a man to be our substitute in His life, death and resurrection. He came to save us. May we let that reality sink in as we prepare for corporate worship this Sunday. May we arrive prepared to express our praise and thanksgiving to our Savior, to proclaim that saving message in our singing and to give our lives anew to Him.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Jesus and children

'Group of Children in Gaza waving goodbye' photo (c) 2011, proisraeli - license: DeYoung published today a simple, yet profound, post on Jesus and children. Titled "Suffer the Little Children," his post would be a worthy read at any time, but it seems particularly valuable only days after the slaying of 20 children in Newtown, Conn., and only days before we celebrate the birth of the most significant child ever born. Here is the full post:
“Let the little children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God” (Jesus in Mark 10:14).

We are used to our leaders fawning over children. It’s become cliche that politicians kiss babies and concerned citizens always tell us to “Think of the children!” But such tender concern for children has not always been common.

For Greeks and Romans in the first century there was virtually no sentimentality regarding children. Abortion was frequent. Infanticide was even more common. There were too many mouths to feed in the Empire. Offspring were good to work in the fields, but as small children they were unwanted. They were sometimes left for dead in the outdoors or on literal trash heaps.

The Jews treated their children better. A child was a gift from God. But still, children enjoyed no social standing. Like most women, children derived their standing from their relationship to adult males. As unique persons, little kids were better off seen and not heard.

The disciples, therefore, had good reason to think this business of bringing children to Jesus inappropriate and bothersome. Like waiting in line to ask Jesus to tie your shoe. Like clamoring for Jesus to pet your hamster. The man’s busy and should not be bothered with such trifles.

The disciples were simply managing their Master’s time. Except they had no idea what mattered to the Master. Only once is this word “indignant” used of Jesus. That’s how he felt when the Twelve shooed the children away.

Little children were not the sort of people Jesus meant to avoid. They were precisely the people he wanted to see. Jesus did not find children a bother. He cared about their little cares. Their big cares too. He was more patient with other people’s children than we are with our own. He saw them as examples more than burdens. He was tender with children and tough on those who overlooked them. Jesus loved to welcome the little children, take them in his arms, and bless them. He still does.
(DeYoung is the senior pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Mich. You may go to his blog here.)

Top 10 tweets

1. “The incarnation was God’s locking himself into death row. Christ did not risk death. He embraced it.” – John Piper

2. “Jesus is the epitome of submission. He is the most truly submissive one who has ever walked on the face of the earth.” – Dave Furman

3. “Because in some way today the kingdom of self will appear to you as more attractive than the kingdom of God, what you need is grace.” – Paul David Tripp

4. “When our idols begin to fail us, it is a painfully glorious and liberating kiss from heaven.” – Scotty Smith

5. “If you put your highest hope in your spouse you will be continually disappointed.” – Dave Furman

6. “Because we still tend to ask of people what only God can give, what we need is grace.” – Paul David Tripp

7. “Christian, your identity is firmly anchored in Christ’s accomplishment, not yours; his strength, not yours; his performance, not yours.” – Tullian Tchividjian

8. “Sever the root of sin by the power of a superior pleasure.” – John Piper

9. “Look for the most redemptive way to say whatever you need to say.” – Scotty Smith

10. “Our goal in marriage is that our spouse would look more and more like Jesus.” – Dave Furman

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A question in the aftermath: Has God been expelled?

Some Christians and other Americans have made the following statements, or similar ones, in trying to help explain the killings in Newtown, Conn., last Friday (Dec. 14): “God has been kicked out of our public schools” or “We have removed God from public schools.” It’s not the first time such sentiments have been expressed. They have been rather common in recent decades, and I think they cry out for a biblical response.

First, we should be grieving with and praying for parents, spouses, siblings and others affected by this evil act. We should be lifting up those churches who are seeking to minister to and share the gospel with the people of Newtown.

Second, we should be concerned about our culture. It seems appropriate to examine what forces might be at play in this latest of a series of lethal acts of mass violence. We should do so with the recognition our understanding will be limited. We also should expect widely divergent explanations to be provided by Americans, and they already have been.

Third, we can have a debate about the relationship between religion and government in our country. We can discuss what impact decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1962 and ’63 have had on American society. Hopefully, those discussions will be based on a proper understanding of what the court actually decided and not based on catch phrases that can be misleading. I believe those debates should take place in the context of what it seems the Founding Fathers gave this country in the First Amendment – protection for individuals to exercise their religion freely while restricting the government from interfering with those expressions.

What we should be careful not to do as Christians is to say untrue things about God in the process. That is how I believe we should describe the previously mentioned claims that God has been removed from the schools. They are untrue.

Certainly, the increasingly secular mind-set of academia, judges, government officials and other elites has impacted religious expression in schools and other parts of the public square. That is not the same, however, as saying God has been expelled from the schools. We have not kicked out or removed God from the schools. If a court of men or a human government or the people of a country can remove God from anywhere, He is not much of a deity.

The God of the Bible is much different.

The Bible reveals God to be omnipresent. He is everywhere all the time. God’s Word says in Psalm 139:7-8, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.”

God’s Word also reveals God to be omnipotent. He is Sovereign. He rules over absolutely everything, including evil. The Bible says in Isaiah 46:9b-10, “For I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’”

Those passages alone – not to mention many others -- describe a God whose presence and power are not at the mercy of judges or other government officials.

So let’s be careful as followers of Christ to speak accurately about our Creator and Father as we seek to discern how to respond to another heinous, barbaric act. Declaring falsehoods about God will never help us arrive at truth that helps His image-bearers.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Christmas Child: Ever-ruling King

'01-11' photo (c) 2010, J.K. Califf - license: infant we celebrate at Christmas was born among animals in a stable and had a feed trough as His first bed. His humble entrance into the world did not reflect the authority of this child. It did demonstrate, however, the depths to which God the Son would descend to glorify His Father and to save His people.

The Bible reveals the extent of the juxtaposition between that baby’s humility and His dominion:
For a child will be born to us; a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. (Is. 9:6-7a, ©NASB)

From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Rev. 19:15-16, ©NASB)
The babe of Bethlehem was the long-awaited Ruler who governs all forever. As we consider the Christmas Child in the days ahead, may we not lose sight of this One’s supreme authority. May we rejoice that we who have been redeemed as a result of His humility are citizens of a kingdom He rules over with a perfectly good and righteous domination.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday are for music: 'Come to save us'

"He came to save us." That thought has entered my mind several times since we, as a church, sang “He Has Come for Us” in corporate worship Dec. 9. As a result, I have posted below a video of All Sons & Daughters singing “Come to Save Us.” I posted this on “Mondays are for music” in August, but I wanted to bring it back for this month’s focus on songs about the incarnation.

Top 10 tweets

1. “It is this crying baby that will wipe away every tear; this defenseless infant that will end all war.” – Tullian Tchividjian

2. “One w/out a biblical doctrine of sin has no explanation 4 Newtown; one w/out the gospel has no hope 2 offer in tragedy’s wake.” – Don Whitney

3. “To be pro-life means more than being concerned for unborn babies, but it can never mean less than that.” – Randy Alcorn

4. “It’s a vain thing 2 try 2 get God to love you more today than he already does in Christ. It’s an arrogant thing not 2 believe that he does.” – Scotty Smith

5. “Christmas is all about a tree, but it’s not the tree you decorate.” – Paul David Tripp

6. “Most of us live our lives frantically and frustratingly searching for something we already have.” – Tullian Tchividjian

7. “Because sin still weakens our resolve and saps our strength, what we need is grace.” – Paul David Tripp

8. “If God’s grace is only helping us escape legalism, but not freeing us to love our neighbors sacrificially, we’re not very free yet.” – Scotty Smith

9. “Because we’re all tempted to envy the life of another and in so doing doubt the goodness of God, what we all need is grace.” – Paul David Tripp

10. “Christmas is the beachhead of God’s campaign against sin and sadness, against darkness and death.” – Tullian Tchividjian

Saturday, December 15, 2012

How to think about the evil in Newtown

Linda and I listened late last night to an excellent podcast by Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, on the killings in Newtown, Conn. That podcast, which was a strong help to us, included a touching interview with a pastor in Newtown who is a Ph.D. student at Southern and had been ministering to parents of the slain children. You may listen to it here.

Mohler also has posted a truth- and grace-filled commentary here that is similar to the podcast. I commend it to you. I think it will be helpful. His post includes this important comment:

"In the face of such horror, we are driven again and again to the cross and resurrection of Christ, knowing that the reconciling power of God in Christ is the only adequate answer to such a depraved and diabolical power."

John Piper of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis and Desiring God has posted two shorter, yet still helpful, items. You may read them here and here.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The evil of mankind and the hope of the Savior

(This evening, I emailed the following message, with two small differences, to those who are part of Covenant Community Church.)

Dear Covenant Community family,

I would imagine some in our church fellowship will hug their children with even more gratitude tonight, and some will express deep-felt thankfulness their grandchildren far or near are safe. A wicked, heart-rending act like that which occurred in Connecticut today causes those kinds of reactions and more.

How do we understand what would drive a young man to kill not only his mother but then to slaughter kindergarten-age children with whom he seemingly had no relationship? The evil is staggering. Undoubtedly, you have been grieving for and praying for the families affected.

Much could be said from a Christian viewpoint, but let me only offer these two thoughts:

-- There is a depth of sinful depravity in the heart that becomes clear in such people and at such times but is common to the human race.

-- There is a merciful, mighty, sin-conquering Savior who is our only hope, and one day He will set all things right.

The writer of Hebrews wrote of our Jesus:
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people (Heb. 2:14-17, ESV).
Please know you -- and your children, for those who have children – are deeply loved and cared for in this fellowship. May we continue to give ourselves to one another in rejoicing and mourning. And may we give ourselves to others in the name of Jesus that they might know Him as merciful Savior – their only hope.

With my love,

Preparing for corporate worship: God became man (3)

The significance of the incarnation is clear in the apostle John's writings in the New Testament. He points to it quickly in both his gospel account and his first letter. For instance, he writes in John 1:14, "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." In I John 1:1-2, the apostle says, "What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life — and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us." Christ is the Word. He became flesh in the person of Jesus. In doing so, He manifested God the Father. We will gather this Sunday to worship God because of this truth: God the Son became a man to bring us to the Father, to make us true worshipers. May the centrality of this act -- God becoming a man both to live and die as a substitute for sinners and reconcile them to the Holy Judge -- inform and enliven our corporate worship. It calls for humble gratitude and deep-seated passion as we approach our great God this Lord's Day.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Top 10 tweets

1. “‘Good news of great joy for ALL the people,’ including the people groups and individuals I would exclude.” – Scotty Smith

2. “The gospel creates not just people individually, but a people, collectively.” – Matt Chandler

3. “Most people want a genie, not a Lord; an errand boy, not a king; a God to challenge their enemies, not to challenge them.” – Kevin DeYoung

4. “Saying, ‘Don’t give me theology, give me Jesus’ is like saying ‘Don’t give me H2O, give me water.’” – Scotty Smith

5. “We are objects of love before we are subjects who love.” – Tullian Tchividjian

6. “Father, may our justification in Christ define us much more than our victimization in the world.” – Scotty Smith

7. “Don’t live like you have infinite days to repent; you may not have another hour.” – Kevin DeYoung

8. “I have a limited field of vision. I can fill it w/ the faults & failings of others, or I can fill it w/ God’s grace 4 me.” – Scotty Smith

9. “Because the evil that still lives inside you draws you toward the evil that still lives outside you, what you need is grace.” – Paul David Tripp

10. “Get used to greatly mattering to God, but get even more used to not being the point. He’s always writing a bigger story.” – Scotty Smith

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Christmas Child: All-sustaining Creator

'01-11' photo (c) 2010, J.K. Califf - license: baby we celebrate at Christmas entered the world like other children -- through the labor and delivery of His mother. Yet, that newborn -- while dependent on His mother to feed Him and His mother and adoptive father to nurture and otherwise care for Him -- was unlike any other.

The New Testament points to one of these miraculous distinctions in these verses:

"[A]ll things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together" (Col. 1:16b-17).

He "upholds all things by the word of His power" (Heb. 1:3b).

While we consider Jesus' infancy, may we not forget He is the One who brought the universe into existence and continued -- and continues -- to hold it all together. He makes the world a "cosmos" instead of a chaos. God the Son is the creator of those who cared for Him in His infancy and childhood.

We should never lose sight of who the Christmas Child is. In this season in which we think of a baby, may we dwell on and contemplate this One's sovereign power as Creator and Sustainer of His creation.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mondays are for music: 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing'

Some of the theologically richest songs are Christmas carols. The incarnation of Christ has elicited some great lyrics from Charles Wesley, Isaac Watts and others. Wesley's "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" may be my favorite of all. Of many profound lines in Wesley's hymn about the humble act of God the Son becoming a man, consider these:
Mild, He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Here is a video of Take 6's a cappella rendition. (Please excuse the promo for the Gospel Music Channel before and after.)

Top 10 tweets

1. “He who upholds all things by the power of his word allowed a manger and a cross to uphold him.” – Scotty Smith

2. “It would be amazing if a God of awesome glory recognized our existence, but to welcome us into his family is grace that’s beyond amazing!” – Paul David Tripp

3. “Simply rehearsing our problems isn’t worshiping God. Recalling God’s character in the midst of them is.” – Bob Kauflin

4. “The world encourages us to get lost in the vast expanse of OURSELVES. The gospel encourages us to get lost in the greatness of GOD.” – Owen Strachan

5. “God’s favor rests on us freely because Jesus took the dis-favor of God fully.” – Scotty Smith

6. “Today you’ll fall once again and you’ll either wallow in the disappointment of self-righteousness or run quickly to the grace of Jesus.” – Paul David Tripp

7. “God’s law reminds me that I’m deeply flawed. God’s gospel reminds me that I’m deeply loved.” – Tullian Tchividjian

8. “When we carry on a love affair with the world, we commit spiritual adultery, placing God in the role of jilted husband.” – Randy Alcorn

9. “Most holy joy-producing paradox: Jesus went humbly to the cross so we can come boldly to his throne.” – Scotty Smith

10. “Corporate worship is designed to give you eyes to see the God of Glory that all the small glories of creation were made to point to.” – Paul David Tripp

Friday, December 7, 2012

Preparing for corporate worship: God became man (2)

The apostle John addressed in some of His writings in the New Testament a major problem for the church. Some false teachers were denying that God actually had become a man. He wrote the following in his second letter, verse 7: "For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist." The apostle had strong words for this teaching: It is that of the antichrist. The Bible tells us something quite different than these false teachers did: Jesus of Nazareth was, and is, fully God and fully man. As the church, we declare both His full deity and His full humanity. We will do so this Sunday as we consider the incarnation of God. We will do it as we read what Scripture tells us about His miraculous conception and birth. We will do it as we sing great songs about Him humbling Himself to come to earth and rescue His people. We will do it as we lift praise and thanksgiving to Him for becoming a man to be our Savior and Lord. We will do it as we listen to the preaching of God's Word from the gospel of Luke. We will do it with the recognition this is not just an alternative view of how to celebrate the season but it is at the center of not just Christianity but of history: God became a human being to save human beings.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Top 10 tweets

1. “Will you build seemingly logical arguments for your righteousness or cast yourself on the mercy of your Savior?” – Paul David Tripp

2. “Don’t confuse the sufficiency of God’s grace w/ the easiness of his ways. The gospel is more about changing us than coddling us.” – Scotty Smith

3. “Reminder to self: People are more important than ideas; ideas more important than time; time more important than things.” – Thabiti Anyabwile

4. “Are you benefitting from the insight-giving, protecting, encouraging, and restoring ministries of the body of Christ?” – Paul David Tripp

5. “If you stick around your church long enough you’ll have opportunity to give, to receive, to repent, and to forgive.” – Kevin DeYoung

6. “It is a serious spiritual deficiency in a church either to have leaders who are untrustworthy, or members incapable of trusting.” – Mark Dever

7. “Faith isn’t a muscle we exercise, it’s an empty hand we extend.” – Scotty Smith

8. “If your purse is not open at the top with tithes and alms of all you earn, God will sooner or later put holes in the bottom.” – John Piper

9. “Legalism isn’t legalistic enough. It makes the law doable, rather than unbearable, thus eliminating the need for Jesus.” – Scotty Smith

10. “There is no telling how much we could do 4 the glory of God & the good of His Church & the nations if we did not care who gets the credit.” – Daniel Akin

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Santa of Christmas and the God of Christmas

This video, which was written by Glen Scriviner, provides a humorous, though profound, look at how human beings can view God as if He were Santa Claus. Its title? "Anti-Santy Ranty."

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Christmas child: Devil-crushing Conqueror

'01-11' photo (c) 2010, J.K. Califf - license: baby changes everything, as a hit song of a few years ago says.

In the case of the whole world -- and especially the church, one baby changed everything.

Our congregational reading Sunday in corporate worship included some of the purposes God the Son gave for coming to earth as a man: To do His Father's will (John 6:38); to serve and give His life as a ransom (Matt. 20:28), and to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).

In reading I John 3 this morning, I noticed two reasons the apostle gives for God becoming a man:

"You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin" (I John 3:5).

"The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil" (I John 3:8b).

When we think of Christmas, we think of a newborn who entered the world in the humblest of circumstances, a child who -- like other children -- was fully dependent, especially on a mother, to provide for Him. And we think this way appropriately.

Yet, we should never lose sight of who that baby is and what He came to do. As John says, He entered the world as a sin-bearing-away Savior and a devil-crushing Conqueror. No wonder Satan sought Jesus' destruction while He was still a small child.

In this season in which we think of a baby, may we dwell on and contemplate His sin- and devil-defying purposes that set us free.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mondays are for music: 'Jesus, Joy of the Highest Heaven'

Kristyn Getty sings in this video a song her husband, Keith, and she wrote, "Jesus, Joy of the Highest Heaven." While they wrote it as a children's Christmas carol, it is not just for children.

Top 10 tweets

1. “What’s the difference between the spirit of the age and the Spirit of God? One says live well and the other says die well.” – Kevin DeYoung

2. “Truth without grace is legalism. Grace without truth is deception.” – Randy Alcorn

3. “Self-swindling: you are daily admitting your need for forgiving grace or working to convince yourself that you’re okay.” – Paul David Tripp

4. “Defensiveness is a failure to understand and rest in Christ’s finished work. You don’t need to be right, you need death and resurrection.” – Elyse Fitzpatrick

5. “Even the best things we do have something in them that needs to be pardoned.” – Tullian Tchividjian

6. “My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord. Ps. 84:2 // sincere worship looks silly to the unengaged spectator.” – Tim Brister

7. “Don’t avoid kids and loving them. Wherever possible, we need kids to call us out of ourselves. They’re like Easter eggs – there’s joy inside.” – Owen Strachan

8. “A soft heart embraces hard truth. But a hard heart won’t endure the softest truth.” – Thabiti Anyabwile

9. “Don’t confuse God’s blessing as his endorsement of the way you’re living.” – Paul David Tripp

10. “‘Count it all joy.’ (James 1:2) The mysterious link between miserable circumstances and a merry heart is in this ‘counting.’” – John Piper