Tuesday, August 29, 2006

After all … tomorrow is another day.

What is tomorrow?

Sure, tomorrow is another day, but how do we view it?

Something we dread? Something we look forward to?

Some thought provoking quotes about tomorrow, which is often the busiest day of the week. I have attributed credit for the quote when able.

We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today -Stacia Tauscher

One today is worth two tomorrows. -Benjamin Franklin

The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. -Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Tomorrow do thy worst, I have lived today. -John Dryden

Live each day the fullest you can, not guaranteeing there'll be a tomorrow, not dwelling endlessly on yesterday. -Jane Seymour

You pile up enough tomorrows, and you'll find you've collected a lot of empty yesterdays. -Harrold Hill

The crisis of today is the joke of tomorrow. -H.G. Wells

Today's greatest labor-saving device is tomorrow. -Woodrow T. Wilson quotes

Yesterday is a canceled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only cash you have - so spend it wisely.

Please God, make my words today sweet and tender, for tomorrow I may have to eat them.

Your future is created by what you do today, not tomorrow. -Robert Kiyosaki

Yesterday's the past, tomorrow's the future, but today is a gift. That's why it's called the present.

The lazier a man is, the more he plans to do tomorrow. -Norwegian Proverb

There's something about death that is comforting. The thought that you could die tomorrow frees you to appreciate your life now. -Angelina Jolie

A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen. -Winston Churchill

You don't save a pitcher for tomorrow. Tomorrow it may rain. -Leo Durocher

Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today. -Benjamin Franklin

You don't really know your own worth because you don't know what may happen tomorrow. -Rick James

I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day. -James Joyce

Because He lives I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives.
-Gloria & William J. Gaither, Because He Lives

-Thomas O. Chisholm, Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. - Albert Einstein

To worry about tomorrow is to be unhappy today.

If tomorrow never comes
Will she know how much I loved her?
Did I try in every way to show her every day
That she's my only one?
And if my time on earth were through
And she must face the world without me
Is the love I gave her in the past
Gonna be enough to last
If tomorrow never comes?
-Kent Blazy & Garth Brooks

Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow. -Mary Anne Radmacher

Many fine things can be done in a day if you don't always make that day tomorrow.

Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday. -Dale Carnegie

You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today. -Abraham Lincoln

If today was not an endless highway
If tonight was not an crooked trail
If tomorrow wasn't such a long time
Then lonesome would mean nothing to me at all.
- Bob Dylan

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. -Proverbs 27:1 in The Holy Bible, ESV

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"-- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.-James 4:13-16 in The Holy Bible, ESV

Tonight you're mine completely
You give your love so sweetly
Tonight the light of love is in your eyes
But will you love me tomorrow?
-The Shirelles, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

Good executives never put off until tomorrow what they can get someone else to do today. -John C. Maxwell

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy. -Leo F. Buscaglia

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." -Jesus the Christ in Matthew 6:34 in The Holy Bible, ESV

After all ... tomorrow is another day and thinking about tomorrow really motivates us to think about today.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention? I've just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story.

Pluto got the boot. No, not the dog, the other Pluto.

Pluto is no longer a planet!

Apparently, 8 is enough. Not all agree, for some argue that Pluto is a planet.

Allegedly, the definition of "planet" is and has been in question before and may be for some time.

Pluto was discovered in 1930, but limited information has called its status into question before. After debate, Pluto was defrocked Thursday and your solar system models will have to be modified.
From left to right: Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune

Now over to Champ Kind, for sports. Cardinals shut out Cubs tonight.

Back to you, Ron.

This just in, a new picture of the New & Improved Solar System, complete with associate members (known as dwarf planets).

I need all of you to stop what you're doing and listen.

In the process of communication there are three main ingredients, the speaker, the message, and the receiver. In preaching, we're talking about the preacher, the sermon, and the congregation/Christian. Much in preaching class is done to improve the preacher and his message, but little thought is given to improving the listener.

I teach the importance of audience analysis. Knowing the audience and having a good relationship with it is of vital importance and among the chief concerns of the preacher. But, the preaching process would be greatly improved if the listener was better prepared as well for worship through the Word bring proclaimed.

My greatest hero of all Christian history is George Whitefield (1714-1770). He is a fellow Oxford University (& Pembroke College) alum who played a major role in the establishment of what we know as Methodism. He was instrumental in the spiritual revival in the Great Awakening and happened to have been one of the greatest orators of the faith.

But, we now to turn to his instructions for how one can best prepare himself/herself to get the most out of the sermon.

How to Listen to a Sermon
by George Whitefield

Keys for getting the most out of what the preacher says

Jesus said, 'Therefore consider carefully how you listen' (Luke 8:18). Here are some cautions and directions, in order to help you hear sermons with profit and advantage.

1. Come to hear them, not out of curiosity, but from a sincere desire to know and do your duty. To enter His house merely to have our ears entertained, and not our hearts reformed, must certainly be highly displeasing to the Most High God, as well as unprofitable to ourselves.

2. Give diligent heed to the things that are spoken from the Word of God. If an earthly king were to issue a royal proclamation, and the life or death of his subjects entirely depended on performing or not performing its conditions, how eager would they be to hear what those conditions were! And shall we not pay the same respect to the King of kings, and Lord of lords, and lend an attentive ear to His ministers, when they are declaring, in His name, how our pardon, peace, and happiness may be secured?

3. Do not entertain even the least prejudice against the minister. That was the reason Jesus Christ Himself could not do many mighty works, nor preach to any great effect among those of His own country; for they were offended at Him. Take heed therefore, and beware of entertaining any dislike against those whom the Holy Ghost has made overseers over you.

Consider that the clergy are men of like passions with yourselves. And though we should even hear a person teaching others to do what he has not learned himself, yet that is no reason for rejecting his doctrine. For ministers speak not in their own, but in Christ’s name. And we know who commanded the people to do whatever the scribes and Pharisees should say unto them, even though they did not do themselves what they said (see Matt. 23:1-3).

4. Be careful not to depend too much on a preacher, or think more highly of him than you ought to think. Preferring one teacher over another has often been of ill consequence to the church of God. It was a fault which the great Apostle of the Gentiles condemned in the Corinthians: 'For whereas one said, I am of Paul; another, I am of Apollos: are you not carnal, says he? For who is Paul, and who is Apollos, but instruments in God’s hands by whom you believed?' (1 Cor. 1:12; 2:3-5).

Are not all ministers sent forth to be ministering ambassadors to those who shall be heirs of salvation? And are they not all therefore greatly to be esteemed for their work’s sake?

5. Make particular application to your own hearts of everything that is delivered. When our Savior was discoursing at the last supper with His beloved disciples and foretold that one of them should betray Him, each of them immediately applied it to his own heart and said, 'Lord, is it I?' (Matt. 26:22).

Oh, that persons, in like manner, when preachers are dissuading from any sin or persuading to any duty, instead of crying, 'This was intended for such and such a one!' instead would turn their thoughts inwardly, and say, 'Lord, is it I?' How far more beneficial should we find discourses to be than now they generally are!

6. Pray to the Lord, before, during, and after every sermon, to endue the minister with power to speak, and to grant you a will and ability to put into practice what he shall show from the Book of God to be your duty.

No doubt it was this consideration that made St. Paul so earnestly entreat his beloved Ephesians to intercede with God for him: 'Praying always, with all manner of prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and for me also, that I may open my mouth with boldness, to make known the mysteries of the gospel' (Eph. 6:19-20). And if so great an apostle as St. Paul needed the prayers of his people, much more do those ministers who have only the ordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit.

If only all who hear me this day would seriously apply their hearts to practice what has now been told them! How ministers would see Satan, like lightning, fall from heaven, and people find the Word preached sharper than a two-edged sword and mighty, through God, to the pulling down of the devil’s strongholds!

Clearly there are things each and every preacher can do to improve the preaching process, but what can you do on your end to make it more effective?

The goal of all preaching and teaching is life change to the glory of God. That's what preachers should desire, to see change (affective, cognitive, and/or behavioral) to the glory of God, sanctification among the saints.

If that's going to happen, there have to be ears to hear. Ask God to help you. Ask God to give you clarity of thought for the sermon and any other reading of God's Word. Ask God to help you absorb the truths of the songs you sing so that you can respond rightly, worshiping in spirit and in truth. Ask God to keep you from those things that so easily distract during a service, especially during the preaching. Ask God for ears to hear, understand, and obey God's truth as it is communicated in the sermon.

For the preacher's sermon to be effective I need all of you to stop what you're doing and listen, for just as he preaches for the glory of God, so you must listen for the glory of God.

Preachers often say to each other, "It's Friday, but Sunday's coming." For us it's a great day of anticipation and impending consequence. We know in such a reminder that Sunday's coming and we need to be ready. What about you? When the sermon comes, will you be ready. It's Friday, but Sunday's coming.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

This chain of events was set in motion a long time ago.

The following from Spurgeon is an inspiring thought regarding justification, confidence/assurance of the believer, and subsequently the extent of the atonement. It deals with substitutionary atonement, the impossibility of double jeopardy due to God being just, and the grounds of a believer's confidenc/assurance being in the certainty of payment.
"Just, and the justifier of him which believeth." Romans 3:26

Being justified by faith, we have peace with God. Conscience accuses no longer. Judgment now decides for the sinner instead of against him. Memory looks back upon past sins, with deep sorrow for the sin, but yet with no dread of any penalty to come; for Christ has paid the debt of his people to the last jot and tittle, and received the divine receipt; and unless God can be so unjust as to demand double payment for one debt, no soul for whom Jesus died as a substitute can ever be cast into hell. It seems to be one of the very principles of our enlightened nature to believe that God is just; we feel that it must be so, and this gives us our terror at first; but is it not marvellous that this very same belief that God is just, becomes afterwards the pillar of our confidence and peace!

If God be just, I, a sinner, alone and without a substitute, must be punished; but Jesus stands in my stead and is punished for me; and now, if God be just, I, a sinner, standing in Christ, can never be punished. God must change his nature before one soul, for whom Jesus was a substitute, can ever by any possibility suffer the lash of the law. Therefore, Jesus having taken the place of the believer-having rendered a full equivalent to divine wrath for all that his people ought to have suffered as the result of sin, the believer can shout with glorious triumph, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?"

Not God, for he hath justified; not Christ, for he hath died, "yea rather hath risen again." My hope lives not because I am not a sinner, but because I am a sinner for whom Christ died; my trust is not that I am holy, but that being unholy, he is my righteousness. My faith rests not upon what I am, or shall be, or feel, or know, but in what Christ is, in what he has done, and in what he is now doing for me. On the lion of justice the fair maid of hope rides like a queen."
-Charles Haddon Spurgeon in Morning By Morning (9/25)

If payment for sin has already been made, God would be extracting double payment if someone for whom Christ died. That would be unjust. Consequently, if Christ died uniformly for everyone individual human so that their sins were atoned for, they would not have to go to hell. In other words, a universal atonement would lead to universalism, assuming God is just, which Spurgeon and I do.

If God demanded payment for one whom Christ died for, then He could exact payment from us who believe. Since God is just we have confidence that He cannot violate His character and therefore will not punish those for whom Christ has already been punished.

The Lord Jesus, however, laid down His life for the sheep (John 10:11, 15). Before the creation of the world, God's plan was that Jesus die as a Redeemer. This chain of events was set in motion a long time ago as God's eternal plan was conceived (Rev 13:8). Because God always accomplishes His plans (Job 42:2), we have confidence that God's plan will be successful, that those Christ came to save will indeed be saved.

From this I am reminded of the words of the song "In Christ Alone," which also ties into the theme of God's providence.
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand!
-Stuart Townend / Keith Getty

For those in Christ, there is justification. There is no fear of sin's penalty, for Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

In my experience, there's no such thing as luck.

Why "Providence" Church? This was briefly addressed in the post decoding the Providence Church logo, but the rationale behind the name is an assertion that God is actively involved in the affairs of this world, involved to the point where He accomplishes His plan(s) using ordinary means and ordinary people.

This is called God's providence. My first sermon at our new location (aka "The Prov") is going to be on the ide of God's providence, beginning with Matthew 6:25-34. (*Click HERE for pictures of today's service or HERE for the sermon.*)

If God provides, how does He? Does He miracle food from the air? He could and has before, but He uses ordinary means. He gets us jobs or inclines the hearts of others to help, ensuring our intersection in the process.

God's activity cannot be "proven" in our particular instance, but it can be proven that God operates providentially, for the Bible tells us so.

The following are some quotes I'm using tomorrow morning in the sermon that I thought you might enjoy having for (further) reflection. If you have some along these lines, please add in the comments section or if you have a good story whereby you are convinced of God's providence.

I'm firmly convinced that God in His providence has brought about the formation and direction of Providence Church, from the people there and in leadership to the donations given and His provision of a place to meet.

Can you with confidence declare God's providence in your life, even when you can't always see the happy ending. We walk by faith, not by sight and often have to take Romans 8:28 by faith, but we can and should because He is faithful.

"I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes--that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit as well as the sun in the heavens—that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses. The creeping of an aphis over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence —the fall of leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche. He that believes in a God must believe this truth. There is no standing-point between this and atheism. There is no half way between a mighty God that worketh all things by the sovereign counsel of his will and no God at all. A God that cannot do as he pleases--a God whose will is frustrated, is not a God, and cannot be a God. I could not believe in such a God as that." -Charles Haddon Spurgeon in a the sermon “God’s Providence”

"By [providence] the Creator, according to His own will, keeps all creatures in being, involves Himself in all events, and directs all things to their appointed end. God is completely in charge of His world. His hand may be hidden, but His perfect rule extends to all things." -“Providence” in The Reformation Study Bible

"Fate is this Whatever is, must be. But there is a difference between that and Providence. Providence says, Whatever God ordains must be; but the wisdom of God never ordains any thing without a purpose. Every thing in this world is working for some one great end. Fate does not say that. Fate simply says that the thing must be; Providence says, God moves the wheels along, and there they are." -Spurgeon in sermon “God’s Providence”

“Coincidence is God’s choosing to remain anonymous.” -North Garland Baptist Fellowship's marquis message this past week

"God has it in his mind that Joseph shall be governor over all the land of Egypt: how is that to be done? The first thing to be done is that Joseph’s brethren must hate him. O, say you, that is a step backward. Next, Joseph’s brethren must put him in the pit. That is another step backward, say you. No, it is not: wait a little. Joseph’s brethren must sell him; that is another step backward, is it not? Providence is one, and you must not look at its separate parts. He is sold; he becomes a favorite: so far, so good. That is a step onward. Anon, he is put in a dungeon. Wait and see the end; all the different parts of the machinery are one. They appear to clash; but they never do. Put them all together. If Joseph had not been put in the pit, he never would have been the servant of Potiphar: if he never had been put in the round-house, he never would have interpreted the jailor’s dream; and if the king had never dreamed, he would not have been sent for. There were a thousand chances, as the world has it, working together to produce the exaltation of Joseph. Providence is one: it never clashes." -Spurgeon in sermon “God’s Providence”

“The detail of this superintendence of God over his creation is shown, for example, by the fact that God uses evil people to bring to pass consequences that are unintended by them (Is 10:7).” -Paul Helm, The Providence of God

"Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face." -William Cowper

“God guides them (even when they do not realize it); he cares for them; and, though their lives have a darker side, even pain and loss and heartache are woven by God together with the times of pleasure and blessing to further his purposes for them.” -Paul Helm, The Providence of God

“Providence is wonderfully intricate. Ah! you want always to see through Providence, do you not? You never will, I assure you. You have not eyes good enough. You want to see what good that affliction was to you; you must believe it. You want to see how it can bring good to the soul; you may be enabled in a little time; but you cannot see it now; you must believe it. Honor God by trusting him.” -Spurgeon in sermon “God’s Providence”

“Even though it may seem to us that all things happen equally to the good and to the evil since we are ignorant of the reasons for God’s providence in allotting these things, there is no doubt that in all these good and evil things happening to the good or to the evil there is operative a well worked out plan by which God’s providence directs all things.” -Thomas Aquinas, Providence and Predestination

“God, the Creator of all things, in His infinite power and wisdom, doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures and things, from the greatest even to the least, by His most wise and holy providence, to the end for which they were created, according unto His infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of His own will; to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness, and mercy.” –Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 5:1

From the Providence Church Statement of Faith:
IV. Providence ... God from eternity, decrees or permits all things that come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all events; yet He does so in a manner that He is neither the author nor approver of sin nor does He destroy the free agency and responsibility of intelligent creatures.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Thanks. I appreciate the euphemism. I always wanted to be somethin'.

In my mind, one of the unheralded and underappreciated professions is that of the trucker, the one who drives the big rig. It has to be a lonely job and one seemingly mundane, but one done well and proficiently.

Whenever I drive through Dallas, putting my life on the line as we weave through detours and stuff around the I-30 & I-35 junctions and such, I'm repeatedly impressed with the eighteen-wheelers.

Cars will weave all over the road and as the road turns or winds will be prone to ooze over into my lane, etc. But the trucks manage to stay in their lanes.

Now, don't get me wrong. There a few places I dread being than being sandwiched between an 18-wheeler and a barricade/wall, but I've never had one come into my lane. I guess these folks are just professionals, but they haul all sorts of cag to keep this country going and they do so by having better mastery over their own vehicles than do the average humans with their tiny little vehicles.

On top of all that, what about how they can whip those things around when backing them up? Most folks can't back up in their own driveways, but these guys put the backdoor right on the loading dock, seemingly with ease.

What can I say? I'm impressed. Those guys are really somethin'.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

You make me want to be a better man.

Monday night we celebrated our 13th anniversary.

On the way to the restaurant to celebrate, I turned on some tunes. Unintentionally, I turned on my CD player, which was loaded with a Willie Nelson CD (keep your comments to yourself, this was for educational purposes only).

Well, what song was it cued up to? It was right at the beginning of "Always on My Mind," which was tense. As we both listened to the words, I became convicted that there was an element of truth there that I could sing to my wife and I wanted to minimize that for this next year.

It reminded me of how much we can love somebody, but often not do a great job of communicating/showing it.

I'll leave you with some Willie ...
Maybe I didn't love you
Quite as often as I could have
Maybe I didn't treat you
Quite as good as I should have
If I made you feel second best
Girl I'm sorry I was blind

You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind

Maybe I didn't hold you
All those lonely, lonely times
And I guess I never told you
I'm so happy that you're mine
Little things I should have said and done
I just never took the time

You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind

Tell me, tell me that your
Sweet love hasn't died
And give me
Give me one more chance
To keep you satisfied
keep you satisfied

Little things I should have
Said and done
I just never took the time

You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind.
Anybody in your life on your mind, but you just never take the time? What can you do to show you care? Do it.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

That rug really tied the room together, did it not?

The following is a list of some corollaries to Murphy's Law.

Law of Dirty Rugs/Carpets: The chances of an open-faced jelly sandwich of landing face down on a floor covering are directly correlated to the newness and cost of the carpet/rug, much to the demise of that rug, which really tied the room together.

Law of Mechanical Repair: After your hands become coated with grease your nose will begin to itch or you'll have to pee.

Law of the Workshop: Any tool, when dropped, will roll to the least accessible corner.

Law of Probability: The probability of being watched is directly proportional to the stupidity of your act.

Law of the Telephone: When you dial a wrong number, you never get a busy signal.

Law of the Alibi: If you tell the boss you were late for work because you had a flat tire, the very next morning you will have a flat tire.

Variation Law: If you change lines (or traffic lanes), the one you were in will start to move faster than the one you are in now.

Bath Theorem: When the body is fully immersed in water, the telephone rings.

Law of Automotive Precipitation: The day you wash your car is the day it rains.

Law of Close Encounters: The probability of meeting someone you know increases when you are with someone you don't want to be seen with.

Law of Flying the Friendly Skies: The amount of time you have between flights is inversely proportional to the distance between gates.

Law of the Result: When you try to prove to someone that a machine won't work, it will.

Law of Biomechanics: The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the reach.

Law of Tangles: Unsupervised cords will take advantage of the first opportunity to entangle themselves.

Theater Rule: At any event, the people whose seats are furthest from the aisle arrive last.

Law of Last Bulb: When replacing each and every bulb in a string of Christmas lights to find the one breaking the series, the last possible light will be the culprit.

Law of Coffee: As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold.

Law of Lockers: If there are only two people in a locker room, they will have adjacent lockers.

Law of Flux: Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

Law of Dining Proximity: If you are the only party in a restaurant, the newcomers will sit at the closest table.

Law of Undue Optimism: The directions that state the job will take 2-3 people 8-10 hours will take 3 people 12 hours, with multiple pieces left over.

Law of Logical Argument: Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.

Law of Last Look: When searching for a lost item, the last possible place it could be is the place it will be.

Buster Brown's Law: If the shoe fits, it's really ugly.

Law of Murphy's Chronology: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong ... and at the worst possible time.

Law of Worst Case Scenario: If there is a possibility of multiple things going wrong, the one that could cause the greatest amount of damage will.

Law of Possibility: If something absolutely, positively cannot go wrong, it most certainly will.

Law of To NOT Be Continued: As soon as you find a product that you really like, they will stop making it, or change it for the worse.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I've got certain information, all right? Certain things have come to light.

What is the significance of the Providence Church logo?

Our logo is rich with meaning, beginning with our name. "Providence" refers to God's care for and control of the world, particularly for the benefit of His children. We don't believe in luck, but in a God who is actively in charge of all things. Seemingly random events have been knit together in a story He is telling as He reveals His glory to His creation.

As a "church" we are a community of likeminded baptized believers in the triune God, thereby united in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are essentially, brothers and sisters, working together to do the will of the Father as we try to glorify Him by making a positive impact on the world.

In the logo "Providence Church" is at the foot of the cross to remind us of our subordination to Christ as the head of the church. We are here to serve Him, to be His hands & feet in the world, accomplishing His will.

The cross itself reminds us of the only means of redemption, that we can only be saved from God's wrath that we deserve as sinners because of the price Jesus paid on our behalf. He died that we might live. He paid a debt He did not owe because we owed a debt we could not pay. In the cross we are reminded of God's great love for sinners, such as us. Yet, the cross is empty, reminding us that we serve a risen Savior. Christ's resurrection proclaims that God's demands have been satisfied. Christ rose from the dead proclaiming He accomplished redemption for those who believe. We can have confidence that He took our sin and we receive His righteousness.

The ring of "solas" encircle the church, serving as boundaries that we dare not cross as we try to accomplish God's work God's way for God's glory. The concepts of the solas are the "guardrails" that keep us on the right path.

The solas remind us of ideas central to our Protestant identity which remind us of the church's need to be always reforming, Semper Reformanda. They are the "alones" and a short description of each follows, though more elaboration can be found in The Cambridge Declaration, our philosophy of ministry.

Soli Deo gloria means to God alone be the glory. Our primary purpose as created people is to glorify God. Sola Scriptura means Scripture alone is our ruling authority; it evaluates everything we do as individuals or as a church. Sola gratia means it is God's grace alone that delivers us from our bondage to sin so that we are born again to new life, not by grace plus our human cooperation or any "making up the difference" to help God. Sola Fide means we are saved by grace through faith alone, not by faith plus our own efforts. Solus Christus means we are saved by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. His sacrifice for us is the only thing which could pay for our sin and the only means of having a right relationship with God is Christ's righteousness being credited to our account.

The Providence Church logo reminds us that our God in His wisdom brought about the formation of this church and will ensure its success as we submit to His concerns, glorifying Him in all we do.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Feed me, Seymour!

At Providence Church we are waiting until our first service in our new lease space on 8/20 to celebrate the Lord's Supper together, so it's been a little while since I've had communion with my congregation.

However, the past two weeks I have been reminded of the beauty of our one faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as I've been able to partake of the Lord's Supper with sister churches.

On July 30th, I was able to celebrate the Lord's Supper with fellow believers at Murphy Road Baptist Church. Tonight I was able to visually be reminded of the Gospel with the church family of Christ's Community Church.

Both churches practice open communion, which reminded me that we are all one in Christ and it was like visiting extended family as I dined at the Lord's table with them. I know not everyone agrees with the notion of open communion, but as a visitor, I can say I really appreciated being a welcomed guest at their table.

It also made me look with even greater longing toward our first celebration of the sacrament together on August 20th. It will be a special time to take that first communion together as a new congregation.

Friday, August 04, 2006

It's not tipping I believe in; it's overtipping.

I need an expert opinion, so I submit this to the blogosphere.

So, I'm sitting at Sonic recently about to handle up on a big order of ice cream related items to take home to the family for a nice summer treat. I've placed my order and pull out my wallet to assess the situation.

Two one-dollar bills and, of course, plastic. So, I use my credit card to pay for the slooge, but realize there's no way to put a tip on the card. But, I do have my two one-dollar bills.

Do I give both, just one? The bill was about twelve bones, if that helps.

I decide, okay, I'll give the girl both. But, then I see there's a guy working as well. I think to myself, well, if it's the guy, he only gets one.

Why is that? Why would I want to give the guy $1 and the girl $2? I start asking myself, "Self, are you being sexist?" I got no response. Has anyone else experienced this phenomenon?

Well, as God's providence would have it, neither that girl nor that guy brought my order out, but a different girl I had not seen. I gave her the two bones and she seemed appreciative.

I didn't really have a reason why I would give different amounts. I'm not aware of any sexist tendencies, but then again, I'm not aware of too many things. I know what I know, if you know what I mean. I know I was going to treat the two differently.

Is it because I think men are the inferior sex, for I do. If it wasn't for women, men would never bathe or wear clean clothes or eat with cutlery, not necessarily because women wipe our noses by cleaning up after us, but because we do those things to impress women.

A misogynist is one who hates women, but is there a term for one who "hates" men? There is, apparently, misandrist (Note: Gunny's Word of the Day). Is that it; do I "hate" men? Not necessarily, a particular man, but men in general. As was sung in Mary Poppins: "Though we adore men individually, we agree that as a group they're rather stupid."

The whole thing just struck me as odd. Odd is not novel for me, but I wonder if there's any insight out there to be sent my way. Why don't you lay down that insight right now, with us, together?

What would you do? Would you tip the same? Why or why not? Do you have a rationale for how you roll?

I try to be a good tipper, never below 15% unless there's some reason that the server was just really heinous. I believe Christians have experienced God's generosity and should be generous with others. I also staunchly believe that one should not take it out on the wait staff when there's a waffle with the order (although if it's not written down, I'm thinking there's some culpability potentiality) or the food is just not good or I have to wait to be seated or the restrooms look like a roadside men's room at a gas station in Oklahoma.

I used to find it odd to tip at Sonic, since they just bring out the food, but I've come around. I still wonder how much to tip at the barber shop, but typically a buck ... two if I am really stoked. As I understand it, you don't tip FBI men, but some folks tip everybody.

Any tipping insights you'd care to share?


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