Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Surprise Hallelujah Chorus in a Mall Food Court

Have you seen this yet?  Click here.

This is a basically a lightning bolt of truth flashing briefly in the midst of this world that we live in.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Seeds of These United States of America

Date: November 11, 1620

Place: Aboard the Mayflower, anchored off the coast of Cape Cod

Background: 102 passengers (including 34 children) have just spent seven weeks crossing the ocean from England. Of the 102 passengers, 16 men, 11 women, & 14 children were Pilgrims, seeking religious freedom in America.

Problem: They had made arrangements with the Virginia Company to settle just south of the Hudson River, within the northernmost boundary of the Virginia Colony. But fierce winds blew their ship off course... to the north... to Cape Cod. They decide to settle in Cape Cod, but here they are on their own -- not under the jurisdiction of the Virginia Company. Some of those on ship (non-Pilgrim bonded servants & contracted labor) see this as an opportunity to rebel. The Pilgrim leadership see that they must act quickly to prevent a mutiny.

Solution: The Pilgrims write up The Mayflower Compact...

In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, Ireland, king, Defender of the Faith, etc.

Having undertaken, for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian Faith and honor of our King and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid, and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony. Unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign King James of England.... Anno Domini 1620.

This was the first time in recorded history that free people covenanted together to form a civil government with the authority to enact laws that those same people who formed the government promised to obey.

Thankful Pilgrims: Before leaving Europe, the Pilgrims had knelt on the dock and prayed for God's blessings on their voyage. And now... "Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven." So wrote William Bradford.

The Rest of the Story: During their first winter 47 people died... including 13 of the 18 women. Only three families were left intact. But these humble Christians became the seed of what would become these United States of America.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

You Only Get So Many Sunrises In This Life

... and one of my favorites so far was spent just the other day with my dad (who took the picture above) & my oldest boy, out in the woods, waiting for the 16 point buck that never showed up.  As they say, the best times to hunt are usually right before you show up and right after you leave.

100 Great Things About Living in Alabama:

#9... Making Fun Memories with Extended Family

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Bible

We believe that this Holy Scripture contains the will of God completely and that everything one must believe to be saved is sufficiently taught in it. For since the entire manner of service which God requires of us is described in it at great length, no one-- even an apostle or an angel from heaven, as Paul says-- ought to teach other than what the Holy Scriptures have already taught us. For since it is forbidden to add to or subtract from the Word of God, this plainly demonstrates that the teaching is perfect and complete in all respects.

Therefore we must not consider human writings-- no matter how holy their authors may have been-- equal to the divine writings; nor may we put custom, nor the majority, nor age, nor the passage of time or persons, nor councils, decrees, or official decisions above the truth of God, for truth is above everything else. For all human beings are liars by nature and more vain than vanity itself.

Therefore we reject with all our hearts everything that does not agree with this infallible rule, as we are taught to do by the apostles when they say, "Test the spirits to see if they are of God," and also, "If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house."

(Taken from The Belgic Confession, Article 7)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

And He Shall Reign Forever and Ever.

At precisely 12:00 noon a few days ago shoppers at Macy's were surprised when 600 fellow shoppers (or so they presumed) suddenly burst into Handel's Hallelujah Chorus.  It's a beautiful scene.  You can see the video by clicking here.

But do they know about whom they're singing?  Can we taste the glory of the one who reigns forever?


Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! 
For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! 

For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! 

The kingdom of this world
Is become the kingdom of our Lord,
And of His Christ, and of His Christ;
And He shall reign for ever and ever,
For ever and ever, forever and ever,

King of kings, and Lord of lords,
King of kings, and Lord of lords, 
And Lord of lords,
And He shall reign,
And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings, forever and ever,
And Lord of lords,
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings! and Lord of lords! 
And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Worst Part About Being Religious

You know that Jesus of Nazareth is the worst enemy of religion.  What he said & what he did spells the end of mere religion.  Christians don't seek to become "religious"... rather, they rest in the fact that they belong to Jesus Christ, and they rejoice to live the life of a free child of God.

Religion says:  Live in such a way as to merit God's favor.  You've got to stay on your treadmill and earn your way.

Therefore religious people can never be honest & transparent about who they really are... not even with themselves.  There's no "safe place" to do so!  They know of no place where grace is abounding to the hardest of sinners.  They only know that they better be good because they're getting graded.

If you're religious you can never really "see" your sin, because your whole future depends on your achieving a certain amount of righteousness & goodness.  You can't really see the unflattering truth about yourself and your heart, because that would run against your entire program.  Your program is to make yourself "look" good.

So... you're not really interested in seeing evidence to the contrary.  You can't be.  And if the evidence is there, you'll find some way to blind yourself to it.  You'll deny it.  You'll excuse it.  You'll blame others.  You'll put on the smiley face, but always have to hide something behind your back.

But in Christ there is a safe place to be honest about your sin.  The Lord Jesus died for sinners.  Run to the cross.  It's the place of deliverance.  It's grace abounding to the hardest of sinners.


“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate."
-- The Lord Jesus

“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant....
Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."
-- The Gospel According to Isaiah

Thursday, November 11, 2010

from the desk of the president... 147 years ago

Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day

Washington, D.C. March 30, 1863

Senator James Harlan of Iowa, whose daughter later married President Lincoln's son Robert, introduced this Resolution in the Senate on March 2, 1863. The Resolution asked President Lincoln to proclaim a national day of prayer and fasting. The Resolution was adopted on March 3, and signed by Lincoln on March 30, one month before the fast day was observed.

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.

And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th. day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty seventh.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Fall

Patrick Morley describing The Fall...

The Bible doesn't describe a utopian world free of pain. Instead, the Bible describes the world exactly as we see it--a Fallen world, but not without what Frances Schaeffer called "leftover beauty." The Fall explains why we must look at the blazing beauty of a blood red sunrise through thick glasses that grace the bridge of a crooked, runny nose. Because of the Fall we lock our doors, say what we shouldn't, don't say what we should, do our work while feeling the prick of thorns, get our hearts broken, suffer, grow old, and die. Thus, we must manage our lives against the Fall. I must manage against the Fall in you. You must manage against the Fall in me. And we each must manage against the Fall within ourselves. The Fall is an offense to human reason but, once accepted, it makes perfect sense of the human condition.

In the Bible, the thorn becomes the symbol of the curse, the fall (Genesis 3.18).  And this is exactly what Jesus accepted for us on the cross (Mark 15.17, etc.).

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us -- for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.'"  Galatians 3.13

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Voting as an Act of Obedience & Wisdom

"No nation can say, 'We are the people of God,' in the sense that Israel could say it in the Old Testament.  Today, God plans to bless the world through the church, which is a spiritual nation scattered through the political nations of the world and representing the gospel of the grace of Jesus Christ wherever it goes.  The church is not a political organization, but Christians have the right to be political people.  In a democracy, every citizen has the right to enter the political arena and shed all the truth and light they can.  To do so is an act of obedience to the Lord.  In a democracy, we submit to our leaders, in part by adopting their system.  So to vote and write letters to our leaders is both a privilege and a duty.  Our leaders bid us to vote and Paul says we should submit to them.  Indeed, if we have wisdom and opportunity to make it public, failure to do so is not just a failure of duty, it is a waste."

-- Daniel Doriani

"We the People  of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Article I
Section 1
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Section 2
1:  The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

-- The United States Constitution