Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Links to Help You Think

While these links share no particular subject, they are excellent "thought provokers" and encouragements to maturity.  Enjoy.

Matt Walsh writes a great post on one cultural decline: "Chivalry is Out of Style."

Anyone have kids' schedules that are crazy?  Is it spiritually healthy?  Check this article's conclusions and links:  Busy All the Time: Overscheduled Children and the Freedom of the Gospel."

Want to more about both the unfinished task of missions and the diminishing task?  Resources are aplenty at these two sites, so start digging:  The Joshua Project and The U.S. Center for World Mission.

Still love print books?  You are not alone.  Here's the latest data: "Books Are Not Dead. Long Live Books."

Al Mohler gives a great evaluation of the recent decision that removed restrictions on polygamy in Utah, and what it may or may not mean for those who want all "morals" laws to disappear:  "The End of Morality Laws? Not Exactly."

For those interested in Israeli history and the significance of the death of Ariel Sharon, Joel Rosenberg's piece for National Review is a great summary of the life and complexities of  "Israel's Warrior."

Here is a link to a blog post by a friend and missionary, Amy Medina, whose blog is worth reading anytime.  Her post, entitled "Toxic Charity," is a home run on the problems of unintended consequences that accompany many compassion efforts.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Celebrating Epiphany Today?

You may not be aware that today (January 6) is celebrated by many Christians as the Feast of Epiphany.  The name is from the Greek work "epihanos"--which means "manifestation, showing forth" as in the Lord Jesus being manifested to the world.  While the meaning is agreed upon, what the day marks is differs, depending on what historic tradition your church comes from.

It is called Twelfth Day or Twelfth Night as it is the last of the 12 days of Christmas.  On the church calendar, Epiphany is not just a day, but the season of the calendar up to Ash Wednesday, which begins Lent.  Between his birth and the days leading up to his death, Christ was manifesting himself to the world.

It is sometimes called "Three Kings Day" in the Western/Roman/Anglican Christian world, and is a celebration of the arrival of the wise men to the home of the baby Jesus in Bethlehem.  This was the manifestation of Jesus to the Gentile world of the magi, not just as the Savior of the Gentiles.

In the Eastern/Orthodox Christian churches, the manifestation is of Jesus at his baptism, when then Holy Spirit comes upon him and the Father speaks from Heaven.  This was Jesus being publicly manifested to people through the power of the Spirit and the Father.  Because Eastern churches follow the old, Julian calendar, their Epiphany falls on January 19--thirteen days behind the Gregorian calendar we use.

Many of those who celebrate Epiphany also commemorate the first miracle of Jesus, which manifested him to his disciples--the turning of water into wine at Cana, in Galilee.

It is a great idea to celebrate Jesus being made manifest to the world in these moments of his life.  But today, the manifestation of Jesus to the world is us--the Church.  We are his Body, and if the world wants to see Jesus, they are to look and see him in us.

So, if you celebrate Epiphany, make sure you honor the manifested Savior my letting people see him in your life!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Rewriting Edwards' Resolutions for 2014

I've been moved by reading Jonathan Edwards' 70 resolutions, and I've decided to write them out a a means of personal devotion, but to do so in a way that makes them more "contemporary" in tone so that I can apply them even more practically, and they may perhaps be of help to others.  I have altered some that might not apply as clearly to circumstance or situations today.

Preface: "Realizing I am unable to do anything without God's help, I humbly ask him, by his grace, to enable me to keep these resolutions, as long as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ's sake."

1. Resolved, that I will do whatever I think is most to God's glory and my own good, profit, and pleasure, my whole life, without considering the time involved; to do my duty and whatever I think does the most good for all people, however difficult it may seem to be.
2. Resolved, to continually find new ways and means to promote the activities I mentioned above.
3. Resolved, whenever I fail and grow lazy and neglect these resolutions, to repent of every failure I remember when I return to right thinking.
4. Resolved, never to do anything in thought or deed except that which seeks God's glory, nor allow such a thing if I can avoid it.
5. Resolved, Never to waste a moment of time, but to improve it in the best way I can.
6. Resolved, To live with all my might, as long as I live.
7. Resolved, Never to do any thing I would be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.
8. Resolved, To always behave, in word and actions, as if no one has been any worse than I have, as if I am guilty of the same sins, faults, and failings; and I will let my knowledge of their failing promote conviction in me, leading to confession of my own sins and failures to God.
9. Resolved, To think often, on all occasions, of my dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to remember the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.
11. Resolved, when I think of any theological question to be dealt with, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances allow it.
12. Resolved, if I delight in something in order to satisfy pride or vanity, immediately to give it  up.
13. Resolved, to work to discover proper objects for generous giving.
14. Resolved, never to do any thing out of revenge.
15. Resolved, never to allow anger to develop toward animals.
16. Resolved, never to speak evil of any one, that would bring dishonor to him in a great or small way, unless there is real good to be accomplished by it.
17. Resolved, that I will live always in the way I will have wished to live when my time to die comes.
18. Resolved to live in the way I think I should when I am most devoted to God, and when I have the clearest thoughts on the importance of the gospel and of the future life.
19. Resolved, never to do anything I would be afraid to do if I knew the Lord would come in one hour.
20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest moderation in eating and drinking.
21. Resolved, never to do anything that, if seen in another, would make me despise or think less of him.
22. Resolved, to work hard to gain as much reward in the other world as I possibly can, with all the power, strength, vigor, energy I can exert and in any way I can think of.
23. Resolved, regularly to take some common action or habit that seems unlikely to bring glory to God, and to think back to the reasons behind it, and if I cannot find how it can bring glory to God, to give it up.
24. Resolved, whenever I do any action I know to be evil, to trace it back to find its roots in my heart, and then carefully to work to never do that action again, and to fight and pray with all my might against the cause.
25. Resolved, to think carefully to discover what things in me that cause me in any way to doubt God's love for me, and to direct all my energies against them.
26. Resolved, to rid myself of every action and way of thinking that lessens my assurance of my salvation.
27. Resolved, never to fail to do something I should do, unless not doing it is for the glory of God, and to frequently examine what I choose not to do.
28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so regularly, constantly, and frequently that I find it obvious that I am growing in my knowledge of them.
29. Resolved, never to consider myself to have prayed or made a request if I cannot confidently hope that God will answer it, or to have confessed unless done in a way I can be sure God will accept it.
30. Resolved, to strive every week to grow in my personal devotion and in my experience and manifesting of grace, than I was the week before.
31. Resolved, never to say anything against anyone, unless it can be done with the highest degree of Christian honor and love to people, with true humility and a sense of my own faults and failings, and in line with the golden rule; to test such statements about others against this resolution.
32. Resolved, to be so firm in my faithfulness, that Proverbs 20:6 "Who can find a faithful man..." will not be asked because of me.
33. Resolved, to do whatever I can towards making, maintaining, and preserving peace, whenever it can be done without creating greater problems in other respects.
34. Resolved, in recounting matters, never to speak any thing but the pure and simple truth.
35. Resolved, whenever I doubt if I have done my duty, so that my peace of mind is disturbed, to make a note of it, think it through, and then to note how I answer the question.
36. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone unless I have some particularly clear and God-honoring reason for doing so.
37. Resolved, to evaluate every night as I am going to bed, how I have been negligent in my duties, how I have sinned, and how I have followed God's will.  I will do this also at the end of each week, month, and year.
38. Resolved, never to say any thing that is frivolous in my times of worship.
39. Resolved, never to do any thing I am doubtful is right, but also to consider the rightness or wrongness of the failure to do it.
40. Resolved, to consider every night whether I have been faithful in my eating and drinking.
41. Resolved, to ask myself, at the end of every day, week, month, and year, how I could, in any respect, have done better.
42. Resolved, frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, made at my baptism and committed to when I joined the church, and which I solemnly re-make today.
43. Resolved, never, from now on until I die, to act as if I belong to myself, but am entirely and altogether God’s.
44. Resolved, that nothing other than true faith shall influence my actions; and that no action shall be motivated by something else.
45. Resolved, never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, total or partial affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, to be mine unless it promotes my faith.
46. Resolved, never to allow worry about my father and mother's well being or their opinions of me; or those whom I might be prone to wish to think well of me; nor to allow such concerns to alter my relationships with my family.
47. Resolved, to do all I can to overcome whatever hinders a good, universally sweet,benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented, easygoing, compassionate, generous, humble, meek, submissive, obliging, diligent, industrious, charitable, balanced, patient, moderate, forgiving, and sincere attitude; and to do what such an attitude would lead me to; and to examine weekly whether I have done so.
48. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost care and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to examine the state of my soul, that I may know with assurance if I truly have a relationship with Christ or not; that when I come to die, I may not have any uncertainty or deficiency in this to repent of.
49. Resolved, that I shall never live in such a way to compromise my assurance.
50. Resolved, that I will act in the way that I believe I will have thought best when I come into the future world.
51. Resolved, That I will always act in the way I would have wished I had if I were to discover that I was condemned to Hell.
52. I often hear older people say they wished they had lived differently: Resolved, that I will live in the way I think I will wish I had done if I live to an old age.
53. Resolved, to use every moment when I am in the best state of mind to the fullest extent by casting myself wholly into a deeper pursuit of the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust him, to dedicate myself afresh to him, and in this to gain greater assurance of my security in him alone as my Redeemer.
54. Resolved, whenever I hear others commended for something, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, to seek to imitate it myself.
55. Resolved, to strive to act like I would if I had already seen the happiness of heaven and hell's torments.
56. Resolved, never to give up or slacken my efforts against my sin,  however unsuccessful I may be.
57. Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversity, to examine whether I have done my duty, and resolve to do it and let results be as Providence orders it. I will, as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but doing my duty and fighting my sin.
58. Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, worry, or anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness, and gentleness.
59. Resolved, when I am most aware of being provoked to irritation and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly and at such times, to manifest good nature.
60. Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of sorts and uneasy, I will examine myself carefully for the reason.
61. Resolved, that I will not give in to the laziness that relaxes my mind from being fully set on pursuing the knowledge of God, whatever my excuse may be.
62. Resolved, to always do my duty willingly, cheerfully, as to The Lord and not to men, knowing that I will receive my reward from The Lord (Eph. 6:6-8).
63. Resolved, if I were to suppose that there were only one person on earth living the life of a true Christian completely to the glory of God, that I would strive to be that person during my lifetime.
64. Resolved, when I find myself longing for God with "groanings that cannot be spoken" mentioned by Paul in Romans 8, that I will seek to promote them and never weary of seeking to express my desires earnestly to God.
65. Resolved, to diligently open my life to God--my ways, sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and everything in me.
66. Resolved, that I will always work to keep a kind attitude and way of acting and speaking, in all places, and in all companies, unless duty requires otherwise.
67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire how I have been made better through them; what good I have gained by them; or what I might have gotten by them.
68. Resolved, to confess honestly to myself, all that I find in me, either weakness or sin; and, if it concerns true devotion to God, also to confess the whole matter to God, and beg for his needed help.
69. Resolved, Always to do the things I would wish I had done when I see others do it. 
70. Let there be some kindness in all that I say.