Friday, December 30, 2011

Thoughts on Prayer

1 Timothy 2 talks about the privilege of praying for others. This perhaps one of the more common types of prayer, intercessory. We have the freedom to converse with the Father for those in our lives who have special areas of concern, trials, difficulties and even joys and triumphs. Praying for others always opens my eyes to how blesses I am and how selfish my prayers can become. May we find the joy in lifting others up, for it truly pleases our Lord and Savior.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New Music from 2011

Great choices on here, but it is definitely bent towards the alt-country, folk, singer-songwriter types. For me that's a plus though!
The 2011 CT Music Awards | Music | Christianity Today

Monday, December 12, 2011

Advent Thoughts pt. 8

I look forward to sharing the Lord's Supper with residents of one of the retirement homes/nursing homes in our area each December. It's always a joyful time to greet the residents and then see people from different backgrounds and usually different denominations come together to proclaim the Lord's death through bread and wine (of course we only use grape juice). It is a reminder to me of how simple our faith really is. I don't mean simplistic, I mean simple. We complicate it by adding religious ramblings to it, but it boils down to embracing the furious love of God, manifested most clearly in the life of Christ. I am thankful for those opportunities to pause and remember what God has done for us and how he is still at work in our lives through the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God!

Advent thoughts pt. 7

Great article about Advent.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Go Kart Birthday Party

The girls had fun with cousins at a birthday party for Jackson. Racing was more intense than Days of Thunder!

Advent Thoughts pt. 6

It's been a crazy week, so I haven't had a chance to post much about Advent, but the discipline of reading with the lectionary has been a rewarding one, these past few weeks. I must confess that sometimes the Christmas season just feels like you are hanging on, trying to survive the parties, the presents, and the people...most of us will put on a strong front and push through, praying that we can start the next year without a complete breakdown and feeling totally exhausted. Jesus tells his followers in Matthew 24 as he talks about the coming apocalypse to persevere. Keep your head up in other words. "But the one who endures till the end will be saved." Keep your wits about you and know that even in the moments we drop all the balls we are juggling that we need to pick them back up and begin again. We cling to the Savior and the cross because it is from him that we have the example of perseverance! God has begun his renovation of our hearts...he will finish it. Keep holding on!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Advent Thoughts pt. 5

Psalm 25

New Living Translation (NLT)

Psalm 25

[a]A psalm of David.
 1 O Lord, I give my life to you.
    2 I trust in you, my God!
   Do not let me be disgraced,
      or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat.
 3 No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced,
      but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others. 4 Show me the right path, O Lord;
      point out the road for me to follow.
 5 Lead me by your truth and teach me,
      for you are the God who saves me.
      All day long I put my hope in you.
 6 Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love,
      which you have shown from long ages past.
 7 Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth.
      Remember me in the light of your unfailing love,
      for you are merciful, O Lord.
 8 The Lord is good and does what is right;
      he shows the proper path to those who go astray.
 9 He leads the humble in doing right,
      teaching them his way.
 10 The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
      all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.
 11 For the honor of your name, O Lord,
      forgive my many, many sins.
 12 Who are those who fear the Lord?
      He will show them the path they should choose.
 13 They will live in prosperity,
      and their children will inherit the land.
 14 The Lord is a friend to those who fear him.
      He teaches them his covenant.
 15 My eyes are always on the Lord,
      for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies.
 16 Turn to me and have mercy,
      for I am alone and in deep distress.
 17 My problems go from bad to worse.
      Oh, save me from them all!
 18 Feel my pain and see my trouble.
      Forgive all my sins.
 19 See how many enemies I have
      and how viciously they hate me!
 20 Protect me! Rescue my life from them!
      Do not let me be disgraced, for in you I take refuge.
 21 May integrity and honesty protect me,
      for I put my hope in you.
 22 O God, ransom Israel
      from all its troubles.
  1. Psalm 25:1 This psalm is a Hebrew acrostic poem; each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Do you trust in God to provide for you and lead you daily? Do you trust in your own abilities, achievements, strengths? The reminders of God's forgiveness, His protection are just what many people need during the frenzy of the holidays. We live in a broken world...we are broken people...people full of sin who desperately need to be reminded that God is for us and longs for us to seek refuge in Him. 

Perhaps your prayer is like David's "Show me the right path, point out the road I need to follow"? 

Find comfort in these words from John the Revelator, “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”

Great Thoughts

Church & Culture Blog | Church and Culture

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Advent Thoughts pt. 4

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Advent. Today's readings serve as a marker along the journey as we read about the birth and naming of John the Baptist, the exhilaration of praising the Lord, and the judgment of God. I think one of the best things about the lectionary is that it forces us to wrestle with difficult passages, passages of scripture that we would rather skip over and dismiss as antiquated or an old view of God rather than as part of the whole character of God presented from beginning to end in the pages of the Bible.

It seems fitting that we are reminded in Luke 1 when Zechariah speaks under the power of the Holy Spirit, "Praise the Lord, the God of Israel because he has visited and redeemed his people." The reading from Amos is filled with God's judgment, particularly in the form of exile because of Israel's sin and unfaithfulness. Yet Zechariah points the way to the promised redemption that is to come. God's redemptive act (return from exile) foreshadows the promise of redemption that is revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Judgment is real, thanks be to God that redemption is also real! That's something to join the Psalmist in praising the Lord about!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Watching Rudolph

Christmas Show at Church

Advent Thoughts Pt. 3

Psalm 116

New Living Translation (NLT)

 1 I love the Lord because he hears my voice
      and my prayer for mercy.
 2 Because he bends down to listen,
      I will pray as long as I have breath!
 3 Death wrapped its ropes around me;
      the terrors of the grave[a] overtook me.
      I saw only trouble and sorrow.
 4 Then I called on the name of the Lord:
      “Please, Lord, save me!”
 5 How kind the Lord is! How good he is!
      So merciful, this God of ours!
 6 The Lord protects those of childlike faith;
      I was facing death, and he saved me.
 7 Let my soul be at rest again,
      for the Lord has been good to me.
 8 He has saved me from death,
      my eyes from tears,
      my feet from stumbling.
 9 And so I walk in the Lord’s presence
      as I live here on earth!

Isn't it comforting to know that the Lord hears our prayers in good times and bad times. He hears them when the grip of death clutches tight to our life, and He hears them when we walk upright in His ways. He is always faithful in the midst of our unfaithfulness, perhaps this is why the Advent season holds such a special place in our life of faith. We know as we drag toward the end of the year and are hoping to make it to the finish line, we have renewed hope the most unlikely of places. In a small animal trough the Savior of the world finds its bed and pillow on that first Christmas. Even the most humble of circumstances can bring about incredible blessings to our lives. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Advent Thoughts pt. 2

Okay, so I know that I already missed a day, but to be fair I never made it to a computer yesterday...

Today's readings offer some challenging thoughts from the Psalms as well as the Gospel of Matthew, but the selection from Jude reminds me of Paul's address to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15 to hold tight to the gospel that they first believed. 

Jude 3-4
 Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Today as so many different things clamor for our attention we must cling to the gospel message. We must defend the faith that was entrusted by God to his holy people. Do we protect our lives and our churches from allowing false doctrine to creep in? Do we protect our lives and our churches from becoming complacent in our faith and abusing grace because we know it will be there when we get ready to clean up our sinful habits? The grace of God cannot be used as a freedom to indulge in anything we want to do! His grace is precious and should be cherished for the regenerating work the Holy Spirit does in our lives. Thanks be to God for his grace, let us not abuse it.