Monday, January 31, 2011

individual responsibility

Saw this on a friends email, under the "thought for the day".  Attributed to former Senator Bill Bradley: 

A worker who doesn't give an honest day's work for a day's wage forfeits the moral claim he has on the company's management to treat him with respect.  
A manager who fires workers at the first hint of recession can't expect loyalty from those who remain.  
A television-network executive who exercises no judgment about the violence or hedonism of the network's programs can't escape the charge that he or she is contributing to national self-destruction.  
The newspaper publisher whose only concern is to print whatever sells loses the right to criticize politicians who pander to voters.  
Too many Americans abdicate their individual responsibility.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Working on two pens, a 1946 Parker Vacumatic Major (top), golden pearl (brown), converted to eyedropper fill because of blind cap problem.  Fine nib. 

And below it I'm re-tuning a late 1930s Vacumatic, with medium nib.  

These golden pearls are made of striated celluloid (layered dark brown and clear amber).  One of the pens has excellent transparency.  Beautiful and sweet-writing pens.

goals in serving

"For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, 'Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.'" (Romans 15:8-9 ESV)

What are our goals when we serve others?  It may be to bear burdens, be a listening ear or helping hand, or to bring comfort and encouragement.  All of these are worthy aims as we minister to others.  I was struck in reading this passage this morning how Christ came as a servant with some specific purposes.  Three are listed here:

1) He came to "show God's truthfulness" (literally, "on behalf of God's truth").  This could be truth as in reality, but also more likely, with the connotation of God's truthfulness, i.e., his dependability and trustworthiness. See John 18:37..."for this purpose I have come into the world--to bear witness to the truth."  Our role, too, in ministry is to point people to God, his trustworthiness, and the truth of his Word.  I can comfort, bring encouragement, and console, but ultimately I need to lead people to trust God. 

2) He came "in order to confirm the promises".  He came as a fulfillment of all that was promised to the forefathers:  "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself."  (Luke 24:27)   We too want to point people to the promises of God: "...he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature..." (2 Peter 1:4) And ultimately we serve people by showing them that all our needs are fully met in Christ himself:  "For all the promises of God find their Yes in him."  (2 Corinthians 1:20)

3) He came "in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy".  Jesus came not just to redeem Israel, but that grace might be shown to all the nations.  Our service should result in others giving praise and songs to God for his mercy.  The end result is that God would be glorified (honored, enjoyed, delighted in) because of his merciful and gracious dealings with us.  And this gratitude should overflow and affect others. 

So when I minister to people, or meet with others, these are things I can pray for our times together: that God would be seen as true and trustworthy, that his promises (and Christ himself) would be embraced for all their needs, and that praise and joy would rise to God for his grace and mercy.   

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Here's a great quote from Fred Smith, Sr.:

"Pray that God does not reveal your stupidity to you until you understand his grace."

Monday, January 24, 2011

plumer on faith

William S. Plumer (1802—1880), Presbyterian pastor and evangelist, on faith...

Faith gazes upon the cross until the course of the new nature is set on fire with heavenly love!

Saving faith . . .
  unites to Christ,
  lays hold of salvation,
  conquers every foe,
  brings every blessing into the soul,
  pronounces death abolished,
  always begets humility,
  is self-renouncing,
  consents to be nothing, that God may be all and in all,
  excludes boasting,
  is jealous for God's honor,
  brings forth forgiveness to enemies,
  begets repentance,
  nourishes other graces,
  ever clings to the fullness of Christ,
  kindles love to an unseen Savior,
  is ever laying its crown at the feet of Immanuel,
  puts things in their proper place,
  abases the sinner in the dust,
  sets God on the throne of universal dominion,
  pronounces all God's ways just and right,
  counts all things as loss, for the excellency
    of the knowledge of God's dear Son!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

won't turn back

I like the song by Needtobreathe, "Won't Turn Back".  Here are the lyrics:

Lonely like a sailor
Who's left his girl at home
No storm could overtake the love he knows

So tell me why I should run for cover
At the sound of the coming thunder
All I hear is the cry of my lover
So take your shot
I won't turn back

I won't turn back

Faithful like a soldier
Who's answered to the call
Even when his back's against the wall

So tell me why I should run for cover
At the sound of the coming thunder
All I hear is the cry of my lover
Yeah take your shot
I won't turn back

No I won't turn back

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

whether we live or die

"For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.  For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's.  For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living."  (Romans 14:7-9 ESV)

If I have entrusted myself to the Lord in faith and repentance, then I am his.  If I am his in this life, I will be his in the next.  This is a tremendous peace-bringing truth!  I need fear nothing in life or death, because Jesus is Lord over all the living and the dead.  People who live only for this life will see traumatic discontinuity as they face death.  People who live for Jesus will see great continuity between this life and the next, for they belong to him who is Lord over both realms. 

This is also one of the keys to being gracious, gentle and encouraging to our fellow believers who may differ with us on non-essential points of doctrine or practice.  Here's how I should view other believers -- they don't belong to me, they belong to the Lord.  They do what they do out of reverence for Christ, as I should be doing.  This enables me to have a peace with, and a generous amount of tolerance for, other believers and their convictions.  I am not to flaunt my liberties or convictions to the point of offending the conscience of other believers or hindering their growth.  

The kingdom of God is about "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."  (14:17)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

pray for sudan

This in from Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF): "The time is drawing near for the most important day in the history of Sudan. On Sunday 9th January the people will be voting for the Referendum. This is to decide whether Sudan is to remain as one country, or to divide into North and South Sudan. Tensions are extremely high and there is already a lot of conflict in the border areas. So Christians round the world have been asked to pray every day for the situation."  Pray for a fair, peaceful and representative referendum, and for Christians in north Sudan who may see reprisals if the south votes for independence.  

Here is a prayer from Sudan:

Father God,
Lead the citizens of Sudan to become well informed
as they prepare to make critical choices that will have a far-reaching impact.
Fill their hearts anew with your Holy Spirit so that they may turn from all forms of violence.
Inspire them to honor, respect and care for one another.
As they exercise their vote, may they do so in safety.
Guide their leaders to plan and conduct a referendum that is free and open and honest.
God, who establishes justice, give Sudan courage to challenge injustice
and to work together to build a Sudan in which all have enough to eat,
where blessed peace prevails and justice is known throughout the country."

the first commandment

"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  You shall have no other gods before me."  (Exodus 20:2-3 ESV)

I have been meditating on this great truth. Martin Luther's commentary on this commandment in The Large Catechism is most insightful in applying what this means.  Here are a few excerpts...

"Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."  That is: "Thou shalt have [and worship] Me alone as thy God." What is the force of this, and how is it to be understood? What does it mean to have a god? or, what is God? Answer: A god means that from which we are to expect all good and to which we are to take refuge in all distress, so that to have a God is nothing else than to trust and believe Him from the whole heart; as I have often said that the confidence and faith of the heart alone make both God and an idol. If your faith and trust be right, then is your god also true; and, on the other hand, if your trust be false and wrong, then you have not the true God; for these two belong together faith and God. That now, I say, upon which you set your heart and put your trust is properly your god...

Therefore it is the intent of this commandment to require true faith and trust of the heart which settles upon the only true God and clings to Him alone. That is as much as to say: "See to it that you let Me alone be your God, and never seek another," i.e.: Whatever you lack of good things, expect it of Me, and look to Me for it, and whenever you suffer misfortune and distress, creep and cling to Me. I, yes, I, will give you enough and help you out of every need; only let not your heart cleave to or rest in any other...

So, too, whoever trusts and boasts that he possesses great skill, prudence, power, favor, friendship, and honor has also a god, but not this true and only God. This appears again when you notice how presumptuous, secure, and proud people are because of such possessions, and how despondent when they no longer exist or are withdrawn. Therefore I repeat that the chief explanation of this point is that to have a god is to have something in which the heart entirely trusts...

Lo, here you have the meaning of the true honor and worship of God, which pleases God, and which He commands under penalty of eternal wrath, namely, that the heart know no other comfort or confidence than in Him, and do not suffer itself to be torn from Him, but, for Him, risk and disregard everything upon earth. On the other hand, you can easily see and judge how the world practices only false worship and idolatry. For no people has ever been so reprobate as not to institute and observe some divine worship; every one has set up as his special god whatever he looked to for blessings, help, and comfort...

Thus it is with all idolatry; for it consists not merely in erecting an image and worshiping it, but rather in the heart, which stands gaping at something else, and seeks help and consolation from creatures saints, or devils, and neither cares for God, nor looks to Him for so much good as to believe that He is willing to help, neither believes that whatever good it experiences comes from God...

Full text here

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Andy Crouch has listed, and commented on, what he calls "the ten most significant trends of the last decade."  He lists...

   1. Connection
   2. Place
   3. Cities
   4. The End of the Majority
   5. Polarity
   6. The Self Shot
   7. Pornography
   8. Informality
   9. Liquidity
  10. Complexity

He gives an interesting analysis of each one here

Monday, January 3, 2011

in search of herod's tomb

"Rising above the surrounding Judean hills, the artificially conical mountain of Herodium still bears witness to the building prowess of its namesake, King Herod the Great. At this barren site southeast of Jerusalem, Herod constructed a spectacular palace/fortress atop the mountain and a lavish palatial resort in the valley below. According to Josephus, the king had chosen this desert retreat as his final resting place, but the burial location eluded archaeologists for decades—until now." Read Ehud Netzer's article here