Thursday, November 26, 2009

It was Thanksgiving. Yeah, to you, but to me, it's Thursday, right?

We often speak of the "true meaning" of Christmas, but what about the true meaning of Thanksgiving? Shirley, it's more than a meal that prepares you for the kinetic flurry of Friday bargain hunting. Right?

"Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often."
- Johnny Carson
I'm hoping your Thanksgiving is more fun than that! Happy Thanksgiving to you as you remember the source of all good things:
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
- James 1:17 (ESV)


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

According to the map we've only gone about four inches. You know, I don't think we have enough gas money.

Some good bull from my Aunt Georgia ...

A man was driving when he saw the flash of a traffic camera.

He figured that his picture had been taken for exceeding the limit, even though he knew that he was not speeding...

Just to be sure, he went around the block and passed the same spot, driving even more slowly, but again the camera flashed.

Now he began to think that this was quite funny, so he drove even slower as he passed the area again, but the traffic camera again flashed.

He tried a fourth time with the same result. He did this a fifth time and was now laughing when the camera flashed as he rolled past, this time at a snail's pace...

Two weeks later, he got five tickets in the mail ... for driving without a seat belt.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I'm ready to know what the people know, ask them my questions and get some answers. What's a fire and why does it ... what's the word? BURN!!!

10 years ago today 12 Aggies lost their lives in the collapse of Bonfire, arguably the greatest college tradition of all time.

I gotta say, I do miss "Bonfar," for the term conjures up for me some of the most miserable and some of the most enjoyable moments of my college days ... nay, of my life.

I fondly remember the way everyone seemed to rally around the fallen Aggies through Texas, even those whose horns needed sawing off.

I appreciate the memorial erected on the campus in their honor, but I hope someday there will be another bonfire at Texas A&M in their honor, to signify student dedication to the school and our burning desire to BTHO t.u.

As we learned as fish in the Corps of Cadets:
"Before the football game with t.u. each year, Aggies gather wood and timber to build a huge Bonfire which symbolizes the burning desire to beat the HELL outta t.u., and the undying spirit that all Aggies have for Texas A&M."
That burning desire has never wavered, but I hope one day to take my kids to experience its expression through the biggest intentional fire on the planet.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

You hate people! But I love gatherings. Isn't it ironic?

I had previously talked about the biblical reality of the vital need for the local church gathering by noting the essence of the Greek word for "church."

It's only fair to share the biblical admonition in that regard.
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
-Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)

Not only is the local church (and gathering with/as it) necessary for sanctification, there's a foreboding warning given regarding those who sin by neglecting such meeting together. Note the words immediately following:

26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.
-Hebrews 10:26-27 (ESV)

In other words, those who neglect the gathering of the body are not stirring one another on toward godliness, nor are they being stirred themselves. They are not encouraging one another, nor are they being encouraged.

But also, they show themselves to be not part of Christ's body, His "assembly" (i.e., church) by the sin of absence, with only a fearful expectation of condemnation for God's enemies.

If that doesn't shiver your timbers, nothing will.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Son, we live in a world that has walls and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it?

A shout out to President Obama for a very nice memorial speech at Fort Hood yesterday.

An excerpt:
"It may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy. But this much we do know - no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor. And for what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice - in this world, and the next."
(read or watch the speech.)


Thanks for your sacrifice on behalf of others as you stand watch on our walls.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

You ... you complete me.

"We don't go to church; we are the church."

You've heard this before, as have I, many times. I understand the point being attempted, but I have seen such a sentiment espoused by those with a very low view of the church (i.e., the local church).

It's worth noting that the Greek word for "church" (ekklesia) means assembly.

Most know the New Testament was written in Greek, but many don't know that the "Old Testament" used in the days of Jesus was the Septuagint, or LXX, a Greek translation of the Hebrew.

In the Septuagint, which the New Testament quotes, every time you see "assembly" in English in the Old Testament the word was ekklesia in the Greek Septuagint.

Sure, the church is the ekklesia, the "called out ones," but they are called out to be called together. The church is community, not a bunch of individuals armed with their Bibles needing nothing or nobody else.

“If the church is central to God’s purpose as seen in both history and the gospel, it must surely also be central to our lives. How can we take lightly what God takes so seriously? How dare we push to the circumference what God has placed at the center?”
- John Stott
Sadly, I know far too many who consider themselves spiritually mature, yet they have little to no commitment to the gathering of God's people for worship, edification, and encouragement.

It's ironic because they not only are failing in a very fundamental aspect of what it means to be a Christian, but they are also short-circuiting their own spiritual growth by not churching, which would give them a place to serve, worship, learn, encourage, and be encouraged.

In short, they are not being the church and they are thwarting their own sanctification and, therefore, the glory God would get from them if their lives better reflected His character.

Hillary was wrong. It doesn't take a village. It takes a church.

Be the church, of course, but you can't be the church without being with the church.

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Friday, November 06, 2009

I hope it feels so good to be right. There's nothing more exhilarating than pointing out the short comings of others, is there?

Some slooge from my recent Providence Church sermon on Matthew 7:1-6, which includes the most popular legitimate* Bible verse among Americans: "Judge not, that ye be not judged."

Key: This passage does not teach that judgments should never be made (cf. 7:16), but that hypocritical judging and judgmentalism are reprehensible for Jesus' followers.

The Pharisees took it upon themselves to arrogantly pronounce judgment upon others, while blind to their own glaring faults. The Christian should operate in an opposite manner: critically judging his or her self first.

I. When not to Judge
A. When you’re heart is not right.

B. When your lifestyle won’t allow it. ~ N.B. Those addressed in this passage are “hypocrites” (Matt 7:5)

II. When to Judge
A. When choosing personnel for positions (e.g., Leadership positions, teachers, those interacting with children, future spouse, etc.)

B. When a self-professed believer is in sin, our Christian obligation (cf. 1 Cor 5:9-11; Matt 18:15-20) ~ Reason for judging: Not to tear down, but to build them up in Christ (Prov 27:17) and restoration (James 5:19-20)

C. When contemplating evangelism

D. In all things (1 Cor 2:15)

III. How to Judge
A. With humility - After cleaning the plank out of your own eye first

B. With understanding
"when we see a brother or sister in sin, there are two things we do not know: First, we do not know how hard he or she tried not to sin. And second, we do not know the power of the forces that assailed him or her."
- F.B. Meyer
C. With concern for the other person

IV. How not to Judge
A. Judging [merely] according to outward appearances (cf. James 2:2-5; 1 Sam 16:7)

B. Judging prematurely (cf. 1 Tim 5:22, 24)

C. Judging hypocritically (Matt 7:3) ~ It’s difficult to see another’s sin properly, with impaired vision

(Click to listen)
* The most popular Bible verse among Americans when polled is "God helps those who help themselves." However, it's actually NOT in the Bible. In fact, the Bible teaches that God helps those who cannot help themselves.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

This is a good one. We don't go out when it rains.

Sometimes folks are familiar with a phrase, but know not its origin. Below is a poem, the end of which is a rather famous expression.

For your reading pleasure, some Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

The Rainy Day (1842)

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.


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