Friday, October 30, 2009

Funny: Steven Crowder

The Qur'an Challenge!

Grace Gems: A lazy minister!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care . . . not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock!" 1 Peter 5:2-3

We preachers must be examples to the flock. He who cannot be safely imitated, ought not to be tolerated in a pulpit!

Did I hear of a minister who was always striving for pre-eminence? Or of another who was covetous? Or of a third whose life was not always chaste? Or of a fourth who did not rise, as a rule, until eleven o'clock in the morning?

I would hope that this last rumor was altogether false. An idle minister! What will become of him? Does he expect to go to heaven? I was about to say, "If he does go there at all--may it be soon!" A lazy minister is a creature despised by men--and abhorred by God!

I said to a farmer, "You pay your minister such a small amount! Why, the poor man cannot live on it!" His answer was, "Look here, sir! I will tell you the truth--we give him a good deal more than he earns!"

It is a sad pity when that can be said; it is an injury to all those who follow our sacred calling. We are to be examples to our flock in all things. We are to excel . . .
in all diligence,
in all gentleness,
in all humility, and
in all holiness.

Grace Gems

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Theology: Hermen Who? - Part 3

Part 3: Authorial Intent - What did the Author intend to say?

Despite what we hear in most churches and universities today we can not start our interpretation with the question 'What does that mean to me?"

This is so basic that we don't give it a second thought in our everyday life because its fundamental in communication. When you listen to a news report of soldiers dying in Afghanistan do you then say to your self, "I feel like they are telling us how life is hard and we should pray for world peace". Or your wife asks you to stop at the store for milk and to you that means she needs you to go to the bar with some friends and relax.

When we read the bible we need to ask ourselves the question, "What did God say?" It simply does not matter what are feelings/opinions are on a verse what matters is what does it say. Now those feelings/opinions may help us understand and determine the correct interpretation but we must always start with the author.

In our Baseball illustration we saw that Context played a big part in correctly interpreting the story, specifically in this case it was the 'Setting' that helped. Next week we will get into the different considerations we need to think about before reading scripture.

Grace Gems: Little need for amusement!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity!"
Psalm 119:37

The man who is all aglow with love to Jesus, finds
little need for amusement! He has no time for
trifling--or for gadding abroad after frivolities!

An idle professor should not be allowed to remain in
the church--like a drone in a hive of working bees.

The best name for a church
is 'All Saints'. We want
churches that produce saints: men of mighty faith
and prevalent prayer; men of holy living, and of
consecrated working; men filled with the Holy Spirit.

We have no connection with the "Latter-day Saints",
but we love every-day saints. Oh, for more of them!

"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing
move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work
of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the
Lord is not in vain!" 1 Corinthians 15:58

Grace Gems

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Politics: Congress Warms to Public Option, Weighs Compromise Proposals

After raucous town hall meetings appeared to discourage moderate lawmakers from pursuing a government-run health insurance plan, both chambers of Congress are starting to warm to the idea once more.

A compromise is emerging in the Senate on a government-run health insurance plan that would give states an opportunity to either opt out of, or opt into, the program.

Fox News: Full Article

Weapons: Newspapers Gush Over Bloomberg's Latest Gun Control Escapade

...As Bloomberg's report on the stunt openly admits, his "investigators" attended gun shows only "in states . . . that supply crime guns trafficked across state lines at the highest rates," only in neighborhoods with the highest incidence of "federal prosecutions for straw buying and trafficking, and proximity to urban areas experiencing gang violence," and ultimately focused their attention on only 47 individuals who, based upon their comments and actions, seemed the most likely to violate a gun sale law.

...And, since the day of fair, hard and objective reporting has apparently passed into journalism's history, newspapers went along with Bloomberg's charade like shills at a carnival game of chance, reminding us why public confidence in "the press" has dropped to 15% in annual polls.

NRA-ILA :: Full Article

Grace Gems: The lamentation of a new-born soul

by John Newton
"Behold, I am vile!" Job 40:4

O Lord, how vile am I,
Unholy and unclean!
How can I dare to venture nigh,
With such a load of sin?

Is this polluted heart
A dwelling fit for Thee?
Swarming, alas! in every part,
What evils do I see!

If in Thy Word I look,
Such darkness fills my mind;
I only read a sealed book,
And no relief can find!

Thy gospel oft I hear,
But hear it still in vain;
Without desire, or love, or fear,
I like a stone remain!

Myself can hardly bear
This wretched heart of mine!
How hateful, then, must it appear,
To those pure eyes of Thine!

And must I, then, indeed,
Sink in despair and die?
Fain would I hope that Thou didst bleed
For such a wretch as I!

That blood which Thou hast spilt,
That grace which is Thy own,
Can cleanse the vilest sinner's guilt,
And soften hearts of stone!

Low at Thy feet I bow;
O pity and forgive!
Here will I lie, and wait till Thou,
Shalt bid me rise and live!

Grace Gems

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Creation: Ken Ham

State of the Nation - Part 2

Grace Gems: A memento of divine affection

(J. R. Miller, "Things to Live For" 1896)

"Cast your burden upon the Lord--and He shall sustain you." Psalm 55:21

This privilege is a very precious one. We all have our burden. No matter how happy anyone is--he is bearing some weight of care, or sorrow, or responsibility. Continually we find our load too heavy for our own unaided strength. We feel that we cannot carry it without help. Human love comes up close beside us, willing, if it were possible, to take the burden from our shoulder, and carry it for us. But this is not possible. "Every man must bear his own burden." Most of life's loads, are not transferable.

Take pain, for instance. No tenderest, truest love--can bear our pain for us, or even bear any smallest part of it.

Or take sorrow. As close as human friendship may come to us when our heart is breaking with grief--it cannot take from us any least portion of the anguish we suffer, as we meet bereavement.

Or take struggle with temptation. We can get no human help in it, and must pass through the struggle alone.

It will be noticed, too, that God Himself does not promise to bear our burden for us. So much is it an essential and inseparable part of our life--that even divine love will not relieve us of its weight.

The teaching from all this, is that we cannot hope to have our life-burden lifted off. Help cannot come to us, in the way of relief. The prayer to be freed from the load, cannot be answered. The assurance is--not that the Lord will take away our burden when we cast it upon Him, lifting it away from our shoulder. It is, instead, a promise that while we bear our burden, whatever it may be--that the Lord will sustain us. "Cast your burden upon the Lord--and He shall sustain you." He will give us strength to continue faithful, to go on with our doing of His will, unimpeded, unhindered, by the pressure of the load we must carry.

An alternative rendering of this verse is, "Cast your gift upon the Lord--and He shall sustain you." Thus we see, that our burden is a gift of God to us! At once the thing, which a moment ago seemed so oppressive in its weight, so unlovely in its form--is hallowed and transformed! We had thought it to be an evil--whose effect upon us could be only hurtful, hindering our growth, marring our happiness. But now we see that it is another of God's blessings, not evil--but good, designed not to hurt us, nor to impede our progress--but to help us onward!

A gift from a human friend, is a token and pledge of their love for us. In like manner, God sent this gift to us--because He loves us. It is
a memento of divine affection. It may be hard for us to understand this. It may be a burden of pain, and pain seems so opposed to comfort--that we cannot see how it can be a gift of love. It may be sorrow; and sorrow never for the present seems to be joyous--but always grievous. It may be great loss--the stripping from us of life's pleasant things, leaving emptiness and desolation. How such burdens as these can be tokens of divine affection, God's gift of love--it is hard for us to conceive. Yet we know that God is our Father, and that His love for us never fails. Whatever comes from His hand to us--must be sent in love!

The world offers attractive things--pleasures, gains, promises of honor and delight. To the eye of sense, these appear to be life's best things. But too often they enfold bitterness and hurt, the fruit of evil. At the bottom of the cup--are dregs of poison!God gives, appear sometimes unattractive, undesirable, even repulsive! We shrink from accepting them. But they enfold, in their severe and unpromising form--the blessings of divine love.

We know how true this is of life's pains and sorrows. Though grievous to sense, they leave in the heart which receives them with faith and trust--the fruits of divine blessing. Whatever our burden may be, it is God's gift, and brings to us some precious thing, from the treasury of divine love. This fact makes it sacred to us. Not to accept it--is to thrust away from us, a blessing sent from heaven. We need, therefore, to treat most reverently--the things in our life, which we call burdens.

We should regard all the gifts of God to us--with affection. This is easy for us so long as these gifts come to us in pleasant form--things that give joy to us. But with no less love and gratitude should we receive and cherish God's gifts, which come in forbidding form. It is the same divine love which sends the one--and also the other. The one is no less good--than the other. There is blessing as truly in the gift of pain or loss or trial--as in the gift of song and gain and gladness. Whatever God sends--we should receive in confidence, as a gift of His love. Thus it is, that our burden, whatever it may be, is hallowed.

It may not always be easy to carry it, for even love sometimes lays heavy burdenseasy for his child. Nothing could be more unkind! He would have his child grow strong--and, therefore, he refuses to take away the hard task. God is too loving and kind, too true a father--to give us only easy things. He makes the burden heavy--that we may become strong in bearing it. But He is always near; and He gives us the help we need, that we may never faint beneath it. Thus we may always know, that our burden is our Father's gift to us!
On the other hand, the things that on the shoulders of its beloved. A wise father does not seek always to make life

Grace Gems

Monday, October 26, 2009

Grace Fellowship: What Does A Christian Look Like?

Part 1: Colossians 1:1-8

Now, you need to understand that just asking that question is rather presumptuous to many people. For us, it is a logical question that deserves to be answered. For others, we would seem to be presumptuous and arrogant to even suggest that a definitive answer to that question even exists! “How can you say this person is a Christian but that person is not? How can you be so narrow as to think Christianity can be defined in specific terms? Another person’s Christianity is not subject to you, or your rules, or your interpretation of the Bible. You’re being judgmental and bigoted and intolerant, and … . . etc., etc.” And if our definition of Christianity is only based upon personal opinion, then those accusations are true. We are being judgmental and bigoted if we require others to measure up to our personal, privatized, preferences regarding Christianity...

Full Sermon Notes
[For sermon audio click here]

Hymns: How Sad Our State By Nature Is!

Words: Isaac Watts Hymns and Sac­red Songs, 1707.
South­well (Ir­ons), Herbert S. Irons, 1861

How sad our state by nature is!
Our sin, how deep it stains!
And Satan binds our captive souls
Fast in his slavish chains.

But hark! a voice of sovereign grace
Sounds from the sacred Word;
“Ho, ye despairing sinners, come,
And trust upon the Lord!”

My soul obeys the Almighty’s call,
And runs to this relief;
I would believe Thy promise, Lord;
O help my unbelief!

To the blest fountain of Thy blood,
Incarnate God, I fly;
Here let me wash my spotted soul
From sins of deepest dye.

Stretch out Thine arm, victorious King,
My reigning sins subdue,
Drive the old Dragon from his seat,
With all his hellish crew.

A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
Into Thy hands I fall;
Be Thou my strength and righteousness,
My Savior, and my all.

Grace Gems: A truly thoughtful person

(J. R. Miller, "The Grace of Thoughtfulness" 1896)

Some people seem to have a genius for making others miserable! They are continually touching sensitive hearts, so as to cause pain. They are always saying things which sting and irritate. If you have any bodily defect, they never see you without in some crude way, making you conscious of it. If any relative or friend of yours has done some dishonorable thing, they seem to take a cruel delight in constantly referring to it when speaking with you. They lack all delicacy of feeling, having no eye for the sensitive things in others, which demand gentleness of treatment.

Thoughtfulness is the reverse of all this. It simply does not do the things which thoughtlessness does. It avoids the painful subject. It never alludes to a man's clubfoot or humpback, nor ever casts an eye at the defect, nor does anything to direct attention to it or to make the man conscious of it. It respects your sorrow--and refrains from harshly touching your wound. It has the utmost kindliness of feeling and expression. A truly thoughtful person, is one who never needlessly gives pain to another.

Thoughtfulness does not merely keep one from doing thoughtless things; it also leads to continued acts of kindness and good will. It ever watches for opportunities to give pleasure and happiness. It does not wait to be asked for sympathy or help--but has eyes of its own, and sees every need, and supplies it unsolicited. When a friend is in sorrow, the thoughtful man is ready with his offer of comfort. He does not come the next day, when the need is past--but is prompt with his kindness, when kindness means something.

Thoughtfulness is always doing little kindnesses.
It has an instinct for seeing the little things that need to be done, and then for doing them!

There are some rare Christians who seem born for thoughtfulness. They have a genius for sympathy. Instinctively they seem to understand the experiences of pain in others, and from their heart, there flows a blessing of tenderness which is full of healing. This is the highest and holiest ministry of love. It is not softness nor weakness; it is strength--but strength enriched by divine gentleness.

Thoughtfulness is one of the truest and best tests of a noble Christian character. It is love working in all delicate ways. It is unselfishness which forgets self, and thinks only of others. It is love which demands not to be served, to be honored, to be helped--but thinks continually of serving and honoring others. He who has a truly gentle heart, cannot but be thoughtful. Love is always thoughtful.

Grace Gems

Friday, October 23, 2009

Funny: Steven Crowder

Go Team Israel!

Funny: Flight of the Conchords

Issues (Think About It)

Grace Gems: You can never lose your mother!

(J. R. Miller, "The SEEDS We Are Scattering" 1896)

Though all are born "dead in trespasses and sins;" in another sense, when a baby is born--its life is only a patch of soil in which, as yet, nothing is growing.

A mother's hand is the first to plant seeds there--in the looks of tender love which her eyes dart into the child's soul, in her smiles and caresses and croonings, and her thousand efforts to reach the child's heart and shape its powers; and then in the lessons which she teaches.

All the members of the household soon become sowers also on this field; as the life begins to open, every one is dropping some seed into the mellow soil.

In a little while, hands outside the home begin to scatter seeds in the child's mind and heart. The street, the playground, the school; later, books, papers, and pictures contribute their portion.

As the years advance, the experiences of life--the joys, temptations, tasks, trials, sorrows--all bring their influences. Somewhat in this way, the character of the mature man--is the growth of seeds sown by a thousand hands in the life from infancy.

All our thoughts, words, and acts--are seeds. They have in them a quality which makes them grow where they fall, reproducing themselves. This is true of the good we do.

The mother's teachings enter the mind and heart of her child as mere seeds; but they reappear in the life of the son or daughter, in later years--in strength and beauty, in nobleness of character, and in usefulness of life. Not only is this strange power in the mother's words; her acts, her habits, her tones of voice, the influences that go forth from her life--are also seeds, having in them a vital principle. Where they lodge--they grow.

can never lose your mother! She may die, and her body may be buried out of your sight, and laid away in God's acre. You will see her face and hear her voice no more; no more will her hand scatter the good seeds of truth and love, upon your life's garden. But you have not lost her! Your mind and heart are full of the seeds which fell from her hand along the years. These you never can lose. No hand of death

All the noble things that fall from your hands, as you travel along life's paths, are seeds, and will not die. The good things we do, with the true words we speak, with the faithful example we show, with all the influences of our life that are Christlike, are living seeds which we sow in the lives of others. They will not fall into the ground and perish. They will stay where they drop, and you will find them again after many days. They will germinate and grow, and yield a harvest!

Go on doing the little things, no matter how small, only making sure that you breathe love into them. Let them fall where they may, no matter into what heart, no matter how silently, no matter how hopeless may seem the soil into which they drop, no matter how you yourself may appear to be forgotten or overlooked as you do your deeds of kindness, and speak your words of love. These words and deeds and influences of yours are living seeds, and not one of them shall perish!

The same is true, however, of the evil things we do. They, too, have in them the quality of life and reproductiveness. If only our good things were seeds, this truth would have unmingled encouragement for us. But it is startling to remember, that the same law applies to the evil things.
can root them out of your life. They have grown into the very fibers of your character. They reappear in your habits, your dispositions, your feelings and opinions, your modes of thought, your very phrases and forms of speech! You can never lose your mother; the threads of her life are woven inextricably into your life!

The man who writes a wicked book, or paints an unholy picture, or sings an impure song--sets in motion a procession of unholy influences which will live on forever! He, too, will find his evil words again in the hearts of men, long, long afterwards; or see his unclean picture reproduced on men's lives, or hear his unholy song singing itself over again in the depths of men's being!

The evil that men do--lives after them! "Bury my influence in my grave with me!" said a wicked man, dying with bitter remorse in his soul. But that is impossible. Sometimes men who have been sowing evil, wake up to the consciousness of the harm they have been giving to other lives, and go back over their paths, trying to gather up the seeds of sin which they have cast into human hearts. But the effort is unavailing, as no one can take out of men's minds and hearts--the seeds of evil he has dropped there!

We are not done with life--when we die! We shall meet our acts and words and influences again! "Do not be deceived! God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows--he will also reap!" Galatians 6:7. He shall reap the same that he sows--and he himself shall be the reaper!

There is a law of divine justice, in which God requites to every man according to his deeds. We are not living under a reign of mere chance. But sometimes it seems as if the law of justice did not work universally--that some who do wrong, are not requited; and that some who do good, receive no reward. But this inequality of justiceapparent. Life does not end at the grave! If it did, we might say that the Lord's ways are not always equal. God's dealings with men, are not closed in this earthly life! The story is continued through eternity!

In this present life--wrong often seems to go unpunished, and virtue unrewarded. But our present lives, are simply unfinished life-stories. There are other chapters which will be written in eternity. When all has been completed, there will be no inequality, no injustice. All virtue will have its full reward--and all sin will receive its due punishment.
is only

Grace Gems

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Theology: Hermen Who? - Part 2

Part 2: Presuppositions [Cont.] - What does this have to do with interpreting scripture?

Since we are talking about presuppositions that should clue you in to what the key is in answering the questions. The reason I like this illustration is that even knowing this it is still difficult to get the right answers.

The problem is that in reading anything, not just scripture, we have presuppositions that we don't even realize we are imposing on the text.

So lets look at this story one last time. This time I'll give you the 3 most important rules in interpretation to help you figure this out:

Context, Context, Context [Click]

He jogged a little ways and turned left. He jogged a little ways and turned left. He jogged a little ways, turned left and jogged back home.

As he was jogging home, he noticed two masked men waiting for him at home.

1. Who were the masked men?
2. Why did he leave home jogging?

I have yet to meet anyone that didn't have the look on their face that you have right now. Now you know exactly what you could not see before, and that's because you were presupposing a definition of the word 'Home' that the author did not intend.

As you see with that one little word you imposed an entire context that had nothing to do with what was going on, and therefore you were unable to answer 2 questions that are obvious if you were thinking baseball.

Please add your comments/questions/etc. and next week we will talk more about these issues we need to deal with in interpretation.

Grace Gems: The gentleness of Jesus

The gentleness of Jesus

(J. R. Miller,
"Things to Live For" 1896)

"Learn from Me--for I am gentle and humble in heart." Matthew 11:29

Of the gentleness of Jesus it was said, "
He will not break a bruised reed, and He will not put out a smoldering wick." Isaiah 42:3. There is nothing that this sorrowing, sinning world needs--more than gentleness. Yet, there are some Christians who seem never to have learned love's secret of gentleness.

We need to pray for the grace of gentleness, that we may walk softly among men, never hurting another life by harsh words or ungentle acts.

We can have something of the beauty of Christ in our life. As we can get into our hearts the grace of the Lord Jesus, and the mind that was in Jesus--the light of divine love will shine out from our dull nature, and transfigure it. This will make us sweet-tempered and gentle-spirited. It will make us honest in our dealings with our fellow-men. It will make us kind to all about us. It will make us godly people to live with at home. It will make us good neighbors and faithful friends. The unconscious ministry of such a life through long years--will leave untold blessings in this world.

Such a life of quiet, simple, humble, Christlike goodness--will pour out its unconscious influence into other lives--making them better, happier, holier, sweeter. Such a ministry of simple goodness is within the reach of every Christian. It requires no brilliant gifts, and no great wealth. It is a ministry which the plainest and lowliest may fulfill.

In these days of 'fashionable worldliness', the church needs just such simple goodness. It has eloquence in its pulpits, and activity in its pews--but it needs more godly people filled with the gentleness of Christ, repeating the life of Christ wherever they move.

Grace Gems

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Theology: Hermen Who? - Reminder

Reminder - Read over the Theology blog for this week

Post your answers/thoughts/questions: Hermen Who? - Part 1

Part 2 coming next Thursday...

Weapons: Bullet Time

Politics: ObamaCare's Tax on Work

Middle-income families will face a big marginal rate increase.

None of the new distortions that the Senate health-care bill will layer onto the already-distorted tax code have received the attention they deserve, but in particular its effects on marginal tax rates could use scrutiny. Incredibly, for those with lower incomes, ObamaCare will impose a penalty as high as 34% on . . . work.

Central to Max Baucus's plan—assuming the public option stays dead—is an insurance "exchange," through which individuals and families could choose from a menu of standardized policies offered at heavily subsidized rates, provided that their employers do not offer coverage. The subsidies are distributed on a sliding scale based on income, and according to the Congressional Budget Office 23 million people will participate a decade from now, at a cost to taxpayers of some $461 billion.

Think about a family of four earning $42,000 in 2016, which is between 150% and 200% of the federal poverty level. CBO says a mid-level "silver" plan will cost about $14,700 in premiums, of which the family will pay $2,600—since the government would pay the other $12,100. If the family breadwinner (or breadwinners, because the subsidies are based on combined gross income) then gets a raise or works overtime and wages rise to $54,000, the subsidy drops to $9,900. That amounts to an implicit 34% tax on each additional dollar of income.

Or consider a single worker earning $20,600 and buying an individual "silver" policy with a premium at $5,000. Again according to CBO, if his income rises to $26,500, his subsidy plummets to $2,700 from $4,400 (including a cost-sharing subsidy that goes away). This is a 29% marginal tax; moving to other income levels yields increases in the neighborhood of 20% to 23% for both individuals and families. Jim Capretta, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, calculates that when combined with other policies like the Earned Income Tax Credit that also phase out, the effective marginal rate would rise to nearly 70% at twice the poverty level.

The incentives for low-wage workers are especially perverse. The exchanges give them a huge break and then take it away gradually as their income goes up. Usually such phase-outs are used to make sure "the rich" don't benefit from IRS dispensations, but here they will have a giant effect on decisions about whether and how much to work, since each additional hour worked reduces the subsidy.

As CBO noted in a July health brief, "Higher [marginal] tax rates also reduce people's incentive to raise their income in other ways, such as working harder in the hope of winning raises; accepting new positions or responsibilities with higher compensation; or investing in their future earning capacity through education, training or other means." This disincentive effect will be especially hard on workers in the middle of their careers and who may not see the same potential for upward mobility as younger workers, but who could earn more through work and effort.

These marginal rate "cliffs" are also a sneaky way for Congress to lower the "scorable" cost of the bill without appearing to do so, because diminishing these rate hikes would boost the total cost of the subsidy. For the same reason, the subsidy is only extended to certain favored people, making it deeply unfair to those not allowed into the exchanges. Families earning identical amounts of money could pay wildly different taxes—a family earning $42,000 and getting insurance through an employer wouldn't receive close to $12,100 from the current tax exclusion for employer-sponsored coverage—while some families earning more money than others will pay significantly lower taxes.

This is an equity catastrophe waiting to happen—and senior Democrats know it. They're laying a political booby-trap that will transfer even more health spending to government after ObamaCare passes.

A far better and cleaner alternative would be to extend the same tax exclusions to individuals that employees receive if they get coverage from their employers. The current bias for one type of insurance has persisted for decades despite its unfairness and irrationality. But ObamaCare will keep all that, while in the process creating many new problems.

The Wall Street Journal

Grace Gems: His treasured possession!

His treasured possession!

(J. R. Miller)

"I am the Good Shepherd; I know My sheep." John 10:14

When we think of the millions who are in Christ's flock,
it seems strange to us that He knows and calls each one
by name. Yet the truth is made very clear in Scripture.

Every mother knows her own children by name, and it
is as easy for the Good Shepherd to know each of His
millions by name--as for any human mother to know
each of her little children.

There is comfort in this teaching. We are not lost in
the crowd.
Each one of of God's children, is the special
object of His love and thought and care!

"Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have
called you by name; you are Mine!" Isaiah 43:1

"For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.
The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the
peoples on the face of the earth to be His people,
His treasured possession!" Deuteronomy 7:6

Grace Gems

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Creation: Ken Ham

State of the Nation - Part 1

Grace Gems: The race!

The race!

(J. R. Miller)

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:14

That Christian life which costs nothing--is worth nothing. There must be self-restraint, discipline, severe schooling. There must be struggle, and the agonizing effort. If you are to reach the goal and win the prize--you must put every energy of your life into
the race. There must be a sacrifice of indolence and self-will and personal ease. Too much pampering, spoils many a promising Christian.

Every noble and godly life, is a struggle from beginning to end. Only those who toil and fight and overcome--are successful in life. This is true in every sphere--in business, in academics, and in spiritual life. Are we resisting sin, overcoming temptation, living victoriously in trial? If not--we are not living worthily. "To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me." Colossians 1:29

Grace Gems

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hymns: How sweet and aweful is the place

Words: Isaac Watts Hymns and Sac­red Songs, 1707.
St. Columba, an­cient Ir­ish mel­o­dy

How sweet and aweful is the place
With Christ within the doors,
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores!

Here every bowel of our God
With soft compassion rolls;
Here peace and pardon bought with blood
Is food for dying souls.

While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast,
Each of us cry, with thankful tongues,
“Lord, why was I a guest?

“Why was I made to hear Thy voice,
And enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?”

’Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly drew us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perished in our sin.

Pity the nations, O our God!
Constrain the earth to come;
Send Thy victorious Word abroad,
And bring the strangers home.

We long to see Thy churches full,
That all the chosen race
May with one voice, and heart and soul,
Sing Thy redeeming grace.

Grace Fellowship: What Does Biblical Christianity Look Like?

Colossians 1:1-5

Christianity in America is a complicated creature. So in order to answer the question, we have to appeal to our authority, our primary source of information for what we believe. We don’t answer the question, “What is Christianity” by taking a poll or asking Geraldo Rivera to investigate. We look to the Word of God for the answer, and Colossians chapter 1 gives us that answer. But we need to be sure to ask the right question. We are not concerned with what American Christianity is. That is nearly impossible to define. Rather, we need to ask the question, “What is Christianity?” Or, “What is a Christian?”...

Full Sermon Notes
[For sermon audio click here]

Grace Gems: This lesson makes life easy and simple!

This lesson makes life easy and simple!

(J. R. Miller, "Living by the DAY")

It is life's largeness which most discourages earnest and conscientious people. As they think deeply of life's meaning and responsibility, they are apt to be overwhelmed by the thought of its vastness. Life has manifold, almost infinite, relations toward God and toward man. Each of these relations has its binding duties. Every life has a divine mission to fulfill--a plan of God to work out.

Every individual life must be lived amid countless antagonisms, and in the face of countless perils. Battles must be fought, trials encountered, and sorrows endured.

Also, the brief earthly course--is but the beginning of an endless existence, whose immortal destinies hinge upon fidelity in the present life.

Looked at in this way, as a whole, there is something almost appalling in the thought of our responsibility in living.

Many a person who thinks of life in this aspect, and sees it in its wholeness, has not the courage to hope for success and victory--but stands staggered, well-near paralyzed, on the threshold. Despair comes to many a heart when either duty or sorrow or danger is looked at--in the aggregate.

But this is not the way we should view life. It does not come to us all in one piece. We do not get it even in years--but only in days--day by day. We look on before us, and as we count up the long years with their duties, struggles, and trials--and the bulk is like a mountain which no mortal can carry. But really, we never have more than:
one day's battles to fight, or
one day's work to do, or
one day's burdens to bear, or
one day's sorrow to endure,
in any one day.

It is wonderful how the Bible gives emphasis to this way of viewing life. When for forty years God fed His chosen people with bread from heaven, He never gave them, except on the morning before the Sabbath, more than one day's portion at a time. He positively forbade them gathering more than would suffice for the day; and if they should violate His command, what they gathered above the daily portion, would become corrupt. Thus early, God began to teach His people to live only by the day--and trust Him for tomorrow.

At the close of the forty years, the promise given to one of the tribes was, "As your days--so shall your strength be." Deuteronomy 33:25. Strength was not promised in advance--enough for all of life, or even for a year, or for a month--but the promise was, that for each day, when it came with its own needs, duties, battles and griefs--enough strength would be given. As the burden increased--more strength would be imparted.

The important thought here is, that strength is not emptied into our hearts in bulk--a supply for years to come--but is kept in reserve, and given day by day, just as the day's needs require.

When Christ came, He gave still further emphasis to the same method of living. He said, "So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today!" Matthew 6:34. He would have us fence off the days by themselves, and never look over the fence to think about tomorrow's cares.

The thought is, that each day is, in a certain sense--a complete life by itself. It has . . .
its own duties,
its own trials,
its own burdens,
its own needs.
It has enough to fill our heart and hands for the one full day. The very best we can do for any day, for the perfecting of our life as a whole--is to live the one day well. We should put all our thought and energy and skill into the duty of each day, wasting no strength--either in grieving over yesterday's failures, or in anxiety about tomorrow's responsibilities.

Our Lord, also, in the form of prayer which He gave his disciples, taught this lesson of living only by the day. There He has told us to ask for bread--for one day only. "Give us this day our daily bread." He again teaches us that we have to do only with the present day. We do not need tomorrow's bread now. When we need it--it will be soon enough to ask God for it, and get it. It is the 'manna lesson' over again. God is caring for us, and we are to trust Him for the supply of all our needs--as they press upon us. We are to trust Him, content to have only enough in hand for the day.

If we can but learn to thus live by the day, without anxiety about the future--the burden will not be so crushing. We have nothing to do with life in the aggregate--that great bulk of duties, responsibilities, struggles, and trials--which belong to a course of years. We really have nothing to do even with the nearest of the days before us--tomorrow. Our sole business is with the one little day, now passing. Its burdens will not crush us--we can easily carry them until the sun goes down. We can always get along for one short day. It is the projection of life into the long future, which dismays and appalls us.
This lesson makes life easy and simple!

Grace Gems

Friday, October 16, 2009

Funny: Steven Crowder

Illegal Aliens!

Funny: The Don't Song

Igniter Media

Grace Gems: There is but one standard of true Christian character

There is but one standard of true Christian character

(J. R. Miller, "Copying but a Fragment")

"Whoever claims to live in Him--must walk as Jesus did." 1 John 2:6

Nothing is more striking to a close observer of human life, than the almost infinite variety of character which exists among those who profess to be Christians. No two are alike. Even those who are alike revered for their saintliness, who alike seem to wear the image of their Lord, whose lives are alike attractive in their beauty--show the widest diversity in individual traits, and in the cast and mold of their character. Yet all are sitting before the same model; all are striving after the same ideal; all are imitators of the same blessed life.

There is but one standard of true Christian character
--likeness to Christ. It is into His image--that we are to be transformed; and it is toward His holy beauty--that we are always to strive. We are to live as He lived. We are to copy His features into our lives. Wherever, in all the world, true disciples of Christ are found--they are all trying to reproduce the likeness of their Master in themselves.

One reason for the diversity among Christians--is because even the best and holiest saints realize but a little of the image of Christ, have only one little fraction and fragment of His likeness in their souls. In one of His followers, there is some one feature of Christ's blessed life which appears; in another, there is another feature; in a third, still a different feature. One seeks to copy Christ's gentleness, another His patience, another His sympathy, another His meekness.

Therefore, a thousand believers may all, in a certain sense, be like Christ--and yet no two of them have, or consciously strive after, just the same features of Christ in their souls. The reason is, that the character of Christ is so great, so majestic, so glorious--that it is impossible to copy all of it into any one little human life; and again, each human character is so imperfect and limited--that it cannot reach out in all directions after the boundless and infinite character of Christ.

Grace Gems

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Theology: Hermen Who? - Part 1

Hermen Who? - Part 1

Hermeneutics: 'The Art and Science of Interpreting Scripture'

Part 1: Presuppositions - What does this have to do with interpreting scripture?

Here should be a fun exersice to help illustrate the point. I’ll tell you a story then ask you a couple of question, all you have to do is come up with the correct answer. If you already know the answer don’t give it away.

Once upon a time...

A man left home jogging.

He jogged a little ways and turned left. He jogged a little ways and turned left. He jogged a little ways, turned left and jogged back home.

As he was jogging home, he noticed two masked men waiting for him at home.

1. Who were the masked men?
2. Why did he leave home jogging?

Read it as many times as you need, though not as many brownie points if you need to. I’ll post the answers next week.

Music: On Faith Alone

On Faith Alone - Music Video - By popular demand [i.e. Pastor]

Grace Gems: He loves us too well

He loves us too well

(J. R. Miller, "Silent Times")

"I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are just, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me." Psalm 119:75

Sometimes the ways of God do seem hard.
Our fondest hopes are crushed;
our fairest joys fade like summer flowers;
the desires of our hearts are withheld from us.

Yet, if we are God's children, we believe that a blessing is hidden in every one of these losses or denials. Right here, we get a glimpse into the mystery of many unanswered prayers. The things we seek, would not work good for us in the end--but evil. The things we plead to have removed--are essential to our highest interests.

Health is supposed to be better than sickness--but there comes a time when God's kindness will be most wisely shown--by denying us health. He never takes pleasure in causing us to suffer; He is touched by our sorrows. Yet
He loves us too well, to give us things that would harm us, or to spare us the trial that is needful for our spiritual good. It will be seen in the end, that many of the very richest blessings of all our lives--have come to us through God's denials, His withholdings, or His shattering of our hopes and joys.

We should never forget that the object of all of God's dealings with His children--is to sanctify us, and make us vessels fit for His use. To this high and glorious end, our present pleasure and gratification must ofttimes be sacrificed. This is the true key to all the mysteries of Providence. Anything that hinders entire consecration to Christ, is working us harm; and though it be our tenderest joy, it is best that it be taken away.

Prayer is not always granted, even when the heart clings with holiest affection to its most precious joy. Nothing must hinder our consecration. We should never think first of what will give us earthly joy or comfort--but of what will fit us for doing the Master's service.

Pain is often better for us--than pleasure;
loss is often better for us--than gain;
sorrow is often better for us--than joy;
disaster is often better for us--than deliverance.

Faith should know that God's withholdings from us, when He does not give what we ask--are richer blessings than were He to open to us all His treasure-houses at whose doors we stand and knock with so great vehemence. Our unanswered prayers
have just as real and as blessed answer--as those which bring what we seek.

Grace Gems

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Politics: Sean Hannity - We the People

Sean's Top 10 Items for Victory

1) To be the party of National security:
a) Victory in Iraq
b) Fully support NSA, Patriot act, tough interrogations, keeping Gitmo open
c) A Candidate that pledges to NOT demean our military while they are fighting for their Country. eg Harry Reid: "the surge has failed", "the war is lost"
d) Candidate that promises to ensure that our veterans can live out their lives in dignity.

2) The party who pledges to oppose Appeasement:
a) The party will oppose any and all efforts to negotiate with dictators of the world in places like Iran, Syria, N.Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela without "pre-conditions."

3) The party Pledges to support Tax CUTS, and fiscal responsibility:
a) The American people are NOT under taxed, Government Spends too much
b) The Candidate who Pledges to ELIMINATE and VOTE AGAINST ALL Earmarks
c) The Candidate pledges to BALANCE the budget

4) The party Pledges to be a supporter of "Energy Independence"
a) supports Immediate drilling in Anwar and the 48 states
b) Building new refineries
c) Begin building and using Nuclear Facilities
d) expand coal mining
e) realistic steward of the environment

While simultaneously working with private industry to develop the new energy technologies for the future, with the goal being that America becomes completely energy independent within the next 15 years.

5) The Candidate pledges to secure our borders completely within 12 months:
a) build all necessary fences
b) use all available technology to help and support agents at the border
c) train and hire agents as needed

6) Healthcare:
The party will look for Free-Market solutions to the problems facing the Healthcare industry, and will vigorously oppose any efforts to "nationalize healthcare".

a) The Candidate will fight for Individual health savings accounts, that includes "catastrophic insurance" for every American, so people can control their own healthcare choices.

7) Education:
a) The Candidate pledges to "save" American children from the failing educational system
b) The Candidate will fight to break the unholy alliance of the Democratic party and teachers unions, which at best has institutionalized mediocrity, and has failed children across the country
c) fight for "CHOICE" in education and let parents decide
d) fight for vouchers for parents

8) Social Security and Medicare:
a) The Candidate will "save" social security and medicare from bankruptcy.
b) Options will include "private retirement" funds so people can "control" their own destiny.

9) Judges
a) The Candidate vows to support ONLY judges who recognize that their job is to interpret the Constitution, and NOT legislate from the bench.

10) American Dream:
The Candidate accepts as their duty and responsibility to educate, inform, and remind people that with the blessings of Freedom comes a Great responsibility. That Government's primary goal is to preserve, protect and defend our God given gift of freedom.

That Governments do not have the ability to solve all of our problems, and to take away all of our fears and concerns. We need their pledge that we will be the candidate that promotes Individual liberty, Capitalism, a strong national defense and will support policies that encourage such...

It is our fundamental belief that limited Government, and Greater individual responsibility will insure the continued prosperity and success for future generations.

We the people who believe in the words of Ronald Reagan, that we are "the best last hope for man on this earth," "a shining city on a hill," and that our best days are before us if our Government will simply trust the American people.

Weapons: Are local gun bans unconstitutional?

Are local gun bans unconstitutional?

By Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis • October 12, 2009

The U.S. Supreme Court returned from summer recess on Oct. 5 with a docket full of controversial cases. Among the most controversial is McDonald v. City of Chicago, which raises the question of whether an individual's right to own guns for self-defense covers states and cities with gun-control laws.

The high court last year affirmed the right to own guns for self-defense when it struck down the District of Columbia's decades-old handgun ban. But a federal court of appeals ruled earlier this year that the 2008 decision has no bearing on Chicago's law. Also at issue is whether the Second Amendment applies to the states under the doctrine of "incorporation," in which the Supreme Court has used the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to extend the Bill of Rights' guarantees to the states.

Is it time for the Supreme Court to affirm the individual right to own guns? Or should cities have the power to ban guns in order to fight crime? RedBlueAmerica columnists Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis take aim at the question.

[Full Article @]

Grace Gems: Hold me up!

Hold me up!

Henry Law, "Family Prayers")

Almighty Father,
Conscious of our own weakness, and trusting only in Your grace and power--we beseech You this day to increase and multiply Your mercy upon us.

We are going forth to tread on slippery ground--may You uphold us.

Our march is through a land of which Satan is the prince--may You protect us.

Snares at each turn await our steps--may You guide us.

We look around--and fear. We look up to You--and take courage. By Your grace alone can we stand. If Your grace should fail us--instantly we fall. Our earnest prayer is, "Hold me up--and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117

Grace Gems

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Creation: Archeologists find 'Joseph-era' coins in Egypt

Archeologists find 'Joseph-era' coins in Egypt

Archeologists have discovered ancient Egyptian coins bearing the name and image of the biblical Joseph, Cairo's Al Ahram newspaper recently reported. Excerpts provided by MEMRI show that the coins were discovered among a multitude of unsorted artifacts stored at the Museum of Egypt.

According to the report, the significance of the find is that archeologists have found scientific evidence countering the claim held by some historians that coins were not used for trade in ancient Egypt, and that this was done through barter instead.

The period in which Joseph was regarded to have lived in Egypt matches the minting of the coins in the cache, researchers said.

"A thorough examination revealed that the coins bore the year in which they were minted and their value, or effigies of the pharaohs [who ruled] at the time of their minting. Some of the coins are from the time when Joseph lived in Egypt, and bear his name and portrait," said the report.

The discovery of the cache prompted research team head Dr. Sa'id Muhammad Thabet to seek Koranic verses that speak of coins used in ancient Egypt.

"Studies by Dr. Thabet's team have revealed that what most archeologists took for a kind of charm, and others took for an ornament or adornment, is actually a coin. Several [facts led them to this conclusion]: first, [the fact that] many such coins have been found at various [archeological sites], and also [the fact that] they are round or oval in shape, and have two faces: one with an inscription, called the inscribed face, and one with an image, called the engraved face - just like the coins we use today," the report added.

The Jerusalem Post

Grace Gems: The best that most of us can do in this world

The best that most of us can do in this world

(J. R. Miller, "Silent Times")

"Christ in you, the hope of glory." Colossians 1:27

"Christ lives in me." Galatians 2:20

Christ within us will be made manifest. If we have this divine indwelling, we will also have an ever-increasing measure in all of our life--of the gentle and loving spirit of the Master. We should not claim to have Christ in us--if, in our conduct and speech, in our disposition and temper, and in our relations with our fellow-men, there is none of the mind and temper of Christ. If Christ truly is in us, He cannot long be hidden in our hearts, without manifestation. There will be a gradual transformation of our outer life--into Christ-likeness.

As He lived--so we will live;
as He ministered to others--so we will minister;
as He was holy--so we will be holy;
as He was patient, thoughtful, unselfish, gentle, and kind--so will we be.

Christ came to our world to pour divine kindness on weary, needy, perishing human lives. Christ truly in our hearts--would send us out on the same mission. The world today needs nothing more than true Christ-likeness, in those who bear Christ's name, and represent Him.

If we truly have Christ in our hearts--it will work out in transformed life and in Christly ministry; it will lead to the brightening of one little spot, at least, on this big earth.

There are a few people whom God calls to do great things for Him. The best that most of us can do in this world--is just to live out a real, simple, consecrated, Christian life in our allotted place. Thus, in our little measure, we shall repeat the life of Christ Himself, showing others some feeble reflection of His sweet and loving face, and doing in our poor way--a few of the beautiful things He would do, if He were here Himself.

Grace Gems

Monday, October 12, 2009

Grace Fellowship: Intro to Colossians


The book of Colossians is about the effects of bad theology on God’s people when they listen to men rather than God. It is a letter of instruction regarding what to believe, and what not to believe as a Christian. That is true of every book of the Bible, but this one was written for the specific purpose of addressing particular false teachings that were coming into the church of Colossae. Some of those teachings were from the pagan Gentile culture. Others were coming from the Jewish community. But the apostle addresses these errors in this little letter, and we continue to reap the benefits of his writings 2000 years later. He might as well have been writing to the church in Pine Grove Mills because the heresies that plagued the Colossians plague Christians everywhere, in every age, to some degree...

Full Sermon Notes
[For sermon audio click here]

Grace Gems: An evil spirit for his playmate!

An evil spirit for his playmate!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Plain Advice for Plain People")

"The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes--than seven men who answer discreetly." Proverbs 26:16

Many have no better work--than killing time. Beware of 'the evil of doing nothing'. Idleness is the key of beggary--and the mother of all evil. It is through 'the door of sluggishness', that evil enters the heart!

Lazy people like the caterpillars on the cabbage, eating up the good things; or like the butterflies, showing themselves off but making no honey!

Every man ought to have patience and pity for poverty; but for laziness--a long whip would be better!

Everything in the world is of some use; but it would puzzle a philosopher, to tell the good of idleness! There is something to be said for moles, and rats and weasels--they are a pretty sight when nailed up on our old barn; but as for the sluggard--the only use for him is in the grave--to help to make the churchyard fat.

Laziness is bad--and altogether bad! Sift a sluggard grain by grain--and you will find him to be all chaff!

"As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes," so is the sluggard to every man who is spending his sweat to earn an honest living, while these lazy fellows let the grass grow up to their ankles, and stand cluttering the ground!

In idle men's imaginations, the devil hides away unseen, like the old serpent that he is. A man who wastes his time and his strength in sloth--offers himself to be a target for the devil, who is a wonderfully good rifleman, and will fill the idler with his shots! In other words, idle men tempt the devil to tempt them! He who plays when he should work--has an evil spirit for his playmate! A sluggard is fine 'raw material' for the devil--he can make anything he likes out of him! If the devil catches a man idling--he will set him to work, find him tools, and before long pay him wages!

Sure enough, our children have our evil nature in them, for you can see sloth growing in them like weeds in a garden! My advice to my boys has been, "Get out of the sluggard's way, or you may catch his disease--and never get rid of it!" I am always afraid of their learning the ways of the idle--and am very watchful to nip anything of the sort in the bud; for you know, that it is best to kill the lion, while it is still a cub! Bring them up to be 'bees', and they will not become 'drones'!

As to having lazy employees--I would prefer to drive a 'team of snails', or go out rabbit hunting with a dead hound! Why, you would sooner get blood out of a gatepost, or juice out of a rock--than work out of some of them! I wonder sometimes, that some of our employers keep so many cats which catch no mice! I would as soon throw my money in the fire--as pay some people for pretending to work.
Lazy people never put a single potato into the nation's pot--but they take a good many out! They eat all the bread and cheese--but never earn a bite of it! Yet Scripture gives us this rule, "If a man will not work--he shall not eat." 2 Thessalonians 3:10

Grace Gems

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Daily Topic Ideas: Submit Your Ideas

What do you want to see?

Post your ideas for topics you would like to see.

Here is the plan so far:
Eeyore Mondays - This just works on many levels.
Creation Tuesdays - Why Tuesday, because God made it.
Weapons Wednesday - Because all real Americans love guns ... ... ...
[Maybe throw in politics too]
Theology Thursday - This blog is called reformed thinking afterall.
Fun Fridays - This just goes without saying