Monthly Archives: November 2011

Be Warned, Your Routine Will Fail You

The majority of people I know in my life thrive in routine.  Can you empathize?  Are you too a person who works best when you’re habitually living out of a scheduled to-do list from day-to-day that you’ve never really written down because it’s all memorized?  Routine is a blessing from the Lord that helps us become more productive for his glory, but what often happens to our routine during the holidays?  It gets a huge stick stuck in its spokes!  With Christmas cantatas, shopping, gift exchanges, special church events, family in town, and holiday travel who can keep up their routine?  At some point during the holidays, many of us will abandon our routine until after the first of the year when it’s safe to take it out again.

 As Christians, along with our morning coffee and pre-bedtime floss, we have our time with God embedded in our routine.  So, when we abandon our routine at the holidays, things like studying the Bible, prayer, Scripture memory, and family worship get abandoned as well.

 Church, let me suggest that, at times, we put our trust in our routine instead of God when it comes to getting what we need to draw near to him.  We often look to our routine to give us the time and availability we need to meet with God, but when life doesn’t allow for our routine, God becomes someone we’ll get back to when things slow down.  God is for every season of life (calm or insanely busy), and he desires us to fellowship with him and serve others for his sake, so he will give us what we need to do these things (Matthew 7:7-11).  Yes, you may have to read your Bible at night instead of in the morning sometimes.  And yes, you may have to pray when everything around you isn’t still and quiet.  But God will provide you with what you need to meet with him.  It will awkward to do things differently (like you’re betraying your routine), but we must remember that like everything else, our routine will fail us, and the holidays are proof of that.  God, on the other hand, gives us a blood-bought promise that he will work in us so that we will choose him and actively obey him for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).

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Why Doctrine Matters For You Today: God’s Omniscience

If we’re honest with ourselves, we know there are libraries full of books that are full of information that we have no knowledge of.  This realization, however, does not stop us from acting like know-it-alls when it comes to living our lives.  But thanks be to God, there are those times when he has us fail miserably at something so that the blinders of our false self-perception are removed and we see how ignorant we really are.  In those times it can be easy to fall into despair or hopelessness in regard to our lack of knowledge, which is why the doctrine of God’s omniscience should be the strong arm we grasp to lift us out of that pit.

The Apostle John gives us a profoundly simple definition of God’s omniscience when he writes, “[God] knows everything” (1 John 3:20).  Not one of us on this earth operates on full knowledge, but God, the one who is in control of everything, also knows everything and works out his plan based on that knowledge.  Wayne Grudem unpacks what it means that God knows everything when he writes, “Since [God] fully knows himself (1 Cor. 2:10-11), he fully knows all things that he could have done but did not do and all things that he might have created but did not create.  He also knows all possible events that will not actually happen, and events that would have resulted if some other events had turned out differently in history” (Christian Beliefs, p. 27).

Essentially, what Grudem is saying is that we can rest assured that what actually happens in every second comes from the mind of our God who has weighed out every single possible option of how each moment could go and has determined, in his perfection, that what he planned is the best choice for that moment.  So, whether you’ve failed miserably at something or you are suffering in some other real way, you can know that God has determined what takes place in that moment to be what is absolutely best for you.  The doctrine of God’s omniscience is the reason why God can work all things together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).  We can’t have the promise of Romans 8:28 without the doctrine of God’s omniscience!  Whatever you’re going through right now, you are not getting God’s plan B, C, or D.  Because of God’s omniscience, it is his plan A for you every moment of every day!

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Shutting Your Mouth for the Glory of God

If you’re anything like me in terms of your inability to put a sock in it, then you’ll need to watch this video at least five times over.

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Tools for a Christ-Centered Christmas

Alright, it’s the day after Thanksgiving, so you can legitimately engage in all things Christmas.  If were doing Christmasy things before now, it doesn’t really count since Thanksgiving was the next major holiday in line.  Anyway, if your plans are to make this Christmas a Christ-centered one, here are a few resources to help make that happen.

Advent calendarCountdown to the Coming of the King – I know there are tons of these out there, but this is the one my family is using this season. These calendars are an organized, disciplined way to reflect on Christ everyday leading up to December 25.  Comes complete with a book of devotional thoughts for parents to use with their kids each day.

BookCome Thou Long Expected Jesus edited byNancy Guthrie – Combines Christmas writings by many of the heroes of the faith, past and present, like Martin Luther, R.C. Sproul, John Calvin, John MacArthur, and Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

MusicBehold the Lamb of God by Andrew Peterson – In my opinion, the best Christmas album in existence.  It starts with songs written about the shadows of Christ in the Old Testament and carries on into the New Testament to show that the manger is about the cross.

StorybookThe Ballad of Matthew’s Begats by Andrew Peterson – An excellently-illustrated kids’ book that takes children through the geneology of Jesus to help parents communicate that who he is and what he did is very much real, and not a fairy tale.

TractChristmas in Three Words – With your gifts to unbelievers, why not add a gospel tract so that your gift points them to the greatest gift?  I love the accuracy and simplicity of this one. 

 
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Let the Praise Roll On

An appropriate song for today…. and every other day of the year.  Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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When’s The Last Time You Thanked God For…. ?

In First Thessalonians 5:18 we are told to “give thanks in all circumstances”.  This may be somewhat difficult to do, but many of us think we’re doing God’s will in this regard if we can think of anything, even just one thing, to be thankful  for in the midst of a particularly trying time in our lives.  But we must also remember that in Ephesians 5:20, Paul puts a different emphasis on giving thanks when he tells us that we must give thanks “always and for everything”.  It’s fairly easy to thank God for our health, family, job, home, and food, but what things do we neglect to thank him for because it’s so hard to see the value in them in the midst of the pain, discomfort, or embarrassment they provide?  For example, when’s the last time you thanked God for…

  • Those days when your children seem to be determined to put on a 24 hour-long exhibition of their depravity.
  • Standing in a long line at the grocery store with the slowest checker at the helm.
  • That nagging pain in your back that just won’t go away no matter how many times you go to the chiropractor.
  • Your hour-long commute in city traffic.
  • Tripping over what seems to be nothing in front of a group of your peers.
  • Your ultra-critical boss who wants to micromanage every detail of your workday.
  • The three final exams you have stacked back-to-back in one morning.
  • Misplacing your car keys when you have to be somewhere important.
  • A broken family that pulls you in multiple directions during the holidays.
  • The love handles that have proven to be a permanent fixture on your body.
  • That Christian brother or sister who says-it-like-it-is and often exposes your sinful heart.
  • Not being able to afford_________________________ (the bigger house, the car repairs, the good coffee, etc.)
  • Your singleness and the lack of godly candidates for marriage.
  • Your non-Christian spouse.
  • Your 5,500th diaper to change.
  • The medical diagnosis that completely altered your life.

Though some of these things don’t feel good, and the rest of them are just plain devastating, God uses them as finely-crafted tools to chisel us into the image of his Son (Romans 8:28-29).  Praise be to God… there is perfect purpose in every circumstance we forget (or refuse) to thank him for.

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Christians, What Do We Do About Our Emotions?

 

In his wonderful, yet neglected book, Feelings and Faith, Brian S. Borgman gives some common misconceptions we Christians have about our emotions:

1) Emotions are bad and need to be suppressed.

2) Emotions are irrelevant and unnecessary.

3) Emotions govern and control us.

4) Emotions are the most important thing about us.

From God’s perspective, none of these statements are true, so Borgman provides the following in way of a biblical definition for emotions:

The emotions are an inherent part of what it means to be a person; they express the values and evaluations of a person and influence motives and conduct.

In view of this definition, let me list some of the principles in his book that will help us take a more godly perspective on our emotions:

  • God not only has a perfect mind and will, but perfect emotions as well (Matt. 3:17; Gen. 6:5-6; Jer. 3:13; Prov. 6:16-19).
  • God communicates with passion and emotion in his Word (Hosea 11:8; Isaiah 65:2).
  • Our emotions are a part of our humanity that needs to be sanctified and brought under the authority of God’s Word and into conformity with God’s Word.
  • God’s truth precedes, governs, and interprets experience, not vice versa.  Truth must be the priority, and experience will often follow.
  • As we think about who he is and what he has done, God works through our thoughts to give us godly emotions (Lam. 3:19-25; Ps. 6:1-10).
  • To walk in a manner that is worthy of the Lord, we must kill godly emotions through honest self-evaluation, confession, and repentance.

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